Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Could what you eat influence how you think? The link between diet and risk of dementia

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getty_rm_photo_of_fresh_salmon_fillet       memory-food-400x400          search-4

Many of you have read that the Mediterranean diet (rich in healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts and green leafy vegetables) not only positively influences physical health, but it also maintains good cognitive function. The DASH diet, (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has also been found to have a positive effect on maintaining cognitive functions. A new study combining the two diets to create the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) was created by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist (that specialty was new to me!)

The MIND diet is not as difficult to follow as the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on consuming fish daily, along with 3-5 fruits and vegetables.  One enticing aspect of this diet is that it recommends consumption of a glass of wine daily, which is a welcome recommendation when it comes to monitoring food and drink intake!

“In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in Alzheimer’s Disease(AD) — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.” People had a 53% reduction of AD incidence when they followed the MIND diet rigorously. The big news is that  a moderate adherence to the MIND diet had reduced risks of 35% percent, which is notable,

So what are the major foods included in this diet? You guessed it-

  • leafy green vegetables, at least 6 or more days a week, along with 1 other vegetable per day
  • nuts most days of the week (watch calories and consume small servings)
  • beans every other day
  • three servings of whole grain weekly
  • poultry twice a week
  • fish at least once a week, more is better
  • berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, at least twice a week
  • glass of wine daily

Unhealthy foods to be avoided are red meats, butter and stick margarine,fried or fast food, cheese, pastries and sweets- no big surprise here.

To read more, go to https://www.rush.edu/news/press-releases/new-mind-diet-may-significantly-protect-against-alzheimers-disease. An abstract is available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25681666

It can be very easy to add these MIND foods to your diet. Every morning, pecans, almonds, and blueberries are part of my breakfast. A salad is often my lunch or part of my dinner with grilled chicken or fish. I roast veggies at the beginning of the week and snack on them during the week.  I look forward to eating Delicata squash, sweet potato, watermelon or pineapple as a snack as they can actually take care of the craving for sugar.  Beans are easy to add to salads, or consider snacking on legumes such as edamame, roasted chickpeas or hummus.

One other caveat is, like with many health related habits, the longer you practice them, the better. If you’re not eating lots of leafy greens, vegetables, fish, fruit, especially berries, and beans, it’s not too late to start!  Don’t forget to include that glass of wine!

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