Dementia can be one of the cruellest conditions, robbing a person of their cognitive abilities over a period that is sometimes brutally swift.
In addition to being the second-leading cause of death in Australia, some 424,416 people are said to be living with the cognitive disease. That number is expected to exceed 1,100,890 by 2056, according to Dementia Australia. In America, the number is much higher, with some 5.5 million cases reported in 2017.
A study lead by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has, however, suggested that a change in diet has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease – the most common types of dementia – by up to 53 per cent. Known as the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, the results indicated that people who ate the foods included in the diet had the potential to improve their cognitive function, so much so that their mental powers were measured at up to 7.5 years younger than they would have been without the foods.
The diet basically consists of 10 foods that are healthy for the brain, as well as five that should be avoided where possible. It combines both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, both which individually have an impact on heart health, but together can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The results were initially published in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia journal.
While it can be easy to reach for a bag of chips or biscuits when you’re feeling peckish, nuts are often healthier and better for your brain. Where possible, opt for unsalted nuts such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts. The MIND diet suggests eating them around five times a week.
When it comes to whole grains, research suggests that they’re something people should be eating three times a day. Many people opt for whole-grain bread over white slices, eating salads such as tabbouleh, which contains grain or swapping out white rice for gains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet or quinoa.
You may have heard that fish is great for the brain and the MIND diet confirms that this is true. While other diets suggest eating it several times a week, including fish in your diet for just one meal every seven days could make all the difference when it comes to your brain health, according to the new research. Poultry such as chicken and turkey is also recommended. People should eat it twice a week to get the full benefits.
Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale are loaded with vital vitamins and nutrients. While including them into your diet as little as two times a week can have a positive impact, servings of six or more each week have the potential to increase brain function and reduce the risks associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to your greens, salads and other veggies should also be included in your diet daily.
While all kinds of fruit can be great for health, the MIND diet specifically suggests berries to assist brain function. Blueberries and strawberries have been known to have a positive impact when eaten two times a week. Eat them alone or add them to cereal or other snacks during the day.
They may have some unfortunate side-effects on your digestive system, but beans are another superfood when it comes to brain health. In addition to being full of fibre and protein, beans can assist with memory when eaten three times a week.
If you’re a lover of wine, this will be music to your ears. Drinking a glass of wine a day has the potential to work with other brain healthy foods. Be sure to limit yourself though, as too much can have a negative impact.
While it’s not always possible to cook with olive oil, the MIND diet recommends that that using it could have the biggest impact when it comes to protecting against cognitive disease. Where you can, make the switch so olive oil – if not as a cooking oil, then perhaps in a salad dressing.
While there are foods that can help, there are also some that can cause problems. Red meat shouldn’t be consumed more than four times a week, while people aren’t recommended to eat more than a tablespoon of butter per day. Cheese should also be limited to once a week, with sweet pastries and other sweets only recommended in moderation.
With Facebook removing news sites from your feeds we ask that you sign up for Starts at 60’s emailers here. And to keep us on your wall, join some of our new Facebook groups and clubs:
See news on the change and links to all our other clubs and groups here.