What to Eat (and What Not to Eat) to Help Prevent Dementia
Brain researchers have developed a "diet for the mind" that could prevent the kind of loss of memory, focus and judgment that define dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Here's what it's all about.
You don’t need a medical degree to know that diet and health go hand in hand—and science has made another connection. Recent research suggests that Alzheimer’s is caused by a bacterial infection of the brain. That’s good news, meaning it is preventable, treatable, and even curable by diet, supplements, and antibiotics. So what would a diet to prevent these awful symptoms look like?
How a healthy diet helps stave off dementia
A diet to treat Alzheimer’s would normalize vitamin D levels; optimize omega-3 intake; restrict omega-6 fats, fructose, protein, and carbs; and limit daily eating to a brief window of about 5 hours each day—because this type of intermittent fasting encourages the body to recycle its cells, a key part of the body’s immune immune defense against bacterial infection.
Brain researchers have developed a “diet for the mind” that combines two heart-healthy eating approaches—the Mediterranean diet and a low-sodium plan. They call this the MIND diet (for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay).
When researchers at Rush University Medical Center put the eating plan to the test, they found that the MIND diet could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. Even people who only partially adhered to the plan cut their dementia risk by a third. Take a look at the plan, which is now recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Fish: eat it once per week
- Poultry: eat it twice a week
- Beans: three or more servings a week
- Nuts: five or more servings a week
- Green leafy vegetables: at least six servings a week
- Other vegetables: at least one serving a day
- Berries: two or more servings a week
- Wine: one glass a day
- Olive Oil: use as your main cooking oil
The foods to limit include red meat, fried foods and sweets.
The diet emphasizes moderate lean protein: You’re aiming for at least 14 servings a week from fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. The diet authors say if you can pull this off, you could cut your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by half. Not bad.