Dementia can be one of the scariest parts of aging, especially because there is still so much we don't know about how to prevent it or what causes it.
Dementia is essentially an umbrella term for a decline in memory or cognitive function, with one of the leading causes being Alzheimer's disease. There are many other risk factors for developing dementia, including age, genetics, movement, and diet.
Although dementia and Alzheimer's can't be fully prevented, researchers are discovering that the food we eat can play a significant role in overall brain health, cognitive function, and even delaying dementia symptoms.
It's important to note, however, that research has also found things like blood pressure control, increased exercise, and cognitive training to potentially play a larger role in brain health than diet. This doesn't mean that diet doesn't matter—it just means that it's only one part of the equation.
With that being said, studies have found that one of the best diets for brain health is the MIND diet, a combination of both the DASH and Mediterranean diet designed to help improve cognitive health.
Continue reading to learn about MIND, and for more information on dementia, make sure to check out Sure Signs You May Have Dementia, Say Studies.
What is the MIND diet?
The MIND diet (Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) combines two healthy diets to form one way of eating that is full of healthy fats, foods low in processed sugar, and foods that are known to help reduce chronic inflammation.
The first diet that MIND pulls from is the Mediterranean Diet, which is inspired by the lifestyle of people in Mediterranean regions like Greece, Crete, and Southern Italy.
The Mediterranean diet puts an emphasis on foods like legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from things like olive oil, fish, and nuts. Red meat and processed foods are consumed very rarely.
The second diet that MIND uses is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). This diet was first created to improve heart health and very closely resembles the Mediterranean plan. The DASH diet focuses heavily on plant-based foods and whole grains, and strongly encourages the reduction of processed foods and saturated fats.
According to the National Institute of Aging, the MIND diet's approach to combining these two eating plans has shown promising results in lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's, as well as delaying age-related cognitive decline.
How to eat on the MIND diet
The MIND diet is not a strict plan but is instead more of a guideline of foods to eat that are healthy for your brain and heart. The NIH provides a list of foods and suggested servings that you can follow for this diet:
- Vegetables (green, leafy), at least 6 servings per week
- Other vegetables, at least 1 serving per day
- Berries, at least 2 servings per week
- Whole grains, at least 3 servings per day
- Fish, 1 serving per week
- Poultry, 2 servings per week
- Beans, 3 servings per week
- Nuts, 5 servings per week
- Wine, 1 glass per day (depending on age and current health standings)
- Olive oil
As we mentioned, the MIND diet can be a great plan to follow for a healthy brain and to potentially delay symptoms of dementia as you age, but there is, unfortunately, no way for it to completely prevent your chances of developing dementia.
As you get older, it's important to talk with a doctor about an eating plan, as well as lifestyle changes or cognitive practices that may help your brain health along the way.
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