Researchers at Rush University Medical Center developed a diet that helped lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% in study participants who followed it rigorously, and by as much as 35% in moderate followers. The MIND diet (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neuro-degenerative Delay) is a blend of the Mediterranean and DASH diets (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and includes foods from each that contain nutrients that appear to play key roles in brain health. Here, seven foods from the MIND diet (and the intakes associated with the most benefit), plus eight more that could help keep you sharp. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD and Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD
What to Feed Your Brain
Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It's a progressive, irreversible disorder in which the brain's nerve cells degenerate, causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms typically develop slowly, worsen over time, and interfere with daily tasks. Yes, genes are involved, but fewer than 5% of Alzheimer's cases are directly caused by genetics. The medical community has yet to identify a cause, and there is no effective long-term treatment. We do know this: The brains of Alzheimer's patients contain abnormal deposits of proteins, called amyloid plaques and tangles. The plaques build up around the brain's nerve cells while tangles form inside the cells, leading to blocked communication between brain cells and, eventually, cell death.
Determining what causes this buildup of plaques and tangles is key to finding a treatment. Two factors that appear to play a role are oxidative damage by free radicals and inflammation. Both of these are symptoms associated with the natural aging process, but they're also impacted by lifestyle. In addition, a lack of adequate blood flow due to brain cell death slowly limits healthy cells from getting the oxygen and glucose they need to function properly, and there's speculation that insulin resistance may be contributing to this. Bottom line: Memory and cognition suffer. So what can you do now to start preventing mental decline? Focus on foods and habits that can boost your brain health.