Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.  It’s estimated that more than 6 million Americans suffer from this permanent and progressive disease which is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the US.  The same factors that are associated with good health in aging are the same ones that reduce the risk of cognitive decline and AD: a healthy & balanced diet, almost daily exercise, and engaging in social and mentally stimulating activities.

Research funded by the National Institute on Aging has show that the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by more than 50% if adhered to strictly, and about 35% for those who follow it moderately.

Brain-healthy foods are at the heart of the MIND diet, such as green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. General guidelines include daily consumption of at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable and a glass of wine. Nuts are used as a snack on most days and beans every other day.  Poultry and berries are recommended at least twice a week and fish at least once a week.  Unhealthy foods, such as red meat, pastries and sweets should be limited; other limitations include butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).  Note that berries – namely, blueberries and to a lesser extent, strawberries –is the only fruit recommended.

Following the MIND diet consistently throughout the years provides the best protection against Alzheimer’s and other conditions as well.  Its emphasis on plant-based foods not only helps boost cognition, but also can improve heart health, help fight cancer, protect against type-2 diabetes and has the added benefit of controlling weight, too.  It’s a win-win diet that embraces a variety of foods, so long-term compliance is relatively easy.  Get started today to build a healthy brain and body for tomorrow!




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