For years, doctors have said that what you eat shapes the health of your heart. Now, there’s evidence that the same thing goes for your brain.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are arguably the scariest and most emotionally triggering diseases. It was previously thought that they couldn’t be prevented, but with recent studies, we have found that isn’t the case.
If you have a family history of these diseases, or you’re worried about what will happen to your brain as you age, the first thing you should do is moderate your diet.
While diet is just one of the many factors that go into who gets this debilitating disease, some special diets have been shown to help slow the rate of mental decline.
If you’re interested in foods that help dementia, read on to learn more!
The MIND Diet
A new study done by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago shows that a diet they developed might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as over 50%. This diet, aptly called the MIND diet, could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by a third even if the subject only followed the plan moderately well.
The MIND diet breaks foods down into 10 brain healthy food groups that a person should eat and five unhealthy food groups that they shouldn’t. It combines elements of the Meditteranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet.
In fact, MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
However, this diet differs from those plans in a few ways and has been shown to be much more effective than both of them at reducing Alzheimer’s risk.
Let’s take a look at the 10 brain-healthy food groups next.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
With this diet, as with most healthy diets, you should eat plenty of leafy, green vegetables. A few great examples of this are kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, and other greens that are loaded with Vitamin A, C, and other nutrients.
Researchers found that six or more servings a week provide the best benefits to the brain, but as little as two per week can help as well.
2. All Veggies
Vegetables aren’t only good for your brain. They’re good for the whole package. However, researchers say that eating a salad and one other veggie every day can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Nuts are full of healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants. This makes them an excellent snack to boost your brain health. However, they’re also great for lowering bad cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
The MIND diet says that you should eat nuts at least five times a week to prevent cognitive decline.
In typical diets, experts tout the health benefits of all fruits and veggies. However, with the MIND diet, berries are the only fruit they recommend specifically.
Blueberries are one of the most potent foods that can be used to protect the brain. Strawberries also benefit cognitive function, and the MIND diet recommends eating these at least two times a week.
Beans, beans, the musical fruit!
Okay, maybe beans aren’t a fruit, but you should still be packing them into your diet. They’re high in fiber and protein while being low in calories and fat. They keep your belly full and your mind sharp, according to the developers of the MIND diet.
On this eating plan, you should be chowing down on beans at least three times a week to help decrease your risk of dementia.
6. Whole Grains
With the MIND diet, instead of reaching for traditional white bread, you should choose things that are made from whole grain.
You should aim for these foods at least three times a day, and shoot for foods like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and 100% whole wheat bread.
While the Mediterranean diet recommends eating fish every day, the MIND diet says that once a week is fine. When choosing what to eat, select fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, and mackerel. These fish have loads of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to boost brain health.
Try to eat chicken and turkey at least two times a week. But avoid the fried stuff! Fried chicken is totally not MIND diet approved.
If you’ve got a serious craving for some fried chicken, try some of these alternatives instead!
9. Olive Oil
Researchers discovered that people who used olive oil as their main cooking oil at home saw a much higher rate of protection against dementia. So make sure you use olive oil as your main form of cooking oil.
Yes, you read that right. It’s time to raise a toast to the MIND diet! This diet recommends one single glass of wine every day.
Both reds and whites benefit the brain, but a lot of research has focused on resveratrol, which is a compound found in red wine.
Foods to Avoid
The MIND diet recommends limiting the following five foods:
1. Butter and Margarine
You should aim to eat less than one tablespoon a day. Instead, try using olive oil as your cooking fat. In fact, you can even try dipping your bread in high-quality olive oil with herbs!
Cheese is recommended only one time per week.
3. Red Meat
While red meat isn’t banned on the MIND diet, researchers say you should limit it to no more than four servings a week to protect your brain health. That’s better than the Mediterranean diet, which says you should only eat it once a week.
This includes all beef, pork, lamb, and products made from these meats.
4. Fried Food
Like we mentioned earlier, the MIND diet seriously discourages all fried food, especially fast food. They want you to limit your consumption to less than one time a week.
5. Pastries and Sweets
This includes pretty much all of the processed junk food and desserts you can imagine. Try to keep the ice cream, cookies, brownies, snack cakes, donuts, and candy limited to no more than four times a week.
Foods that Help Dementia
Even if you cant eat the targeted servings recommended, you should give the MIND diet a try. Even following it moderately can seriously impact your risk of dementia. While there are no foods that help dementia disappear, there are steps you can take today to decrease your risk of developing it in the future.
If you or someone you love has a memory impairment and you are looking for more information, please visit us today.