Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that evolves from mild confusion to personality changes and can ultimately affect the ability to move and communicate. In 2017, about 50 million people worldwide were living with dementia. Alzheimer’s is predicted to double every 20 years so that by 2050, the afflicted population will reach around 132 million.
Changes in the brain often occur years before any of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear. These early brain changes provide a possible window of opportunity to delay or prevent dementia symptoms. Scientists have been looking at many possible ways to do this, including lifestyle changes. Unlike some risk factors for Alzheimer’s that we can’t change, such as genetics and age, people can control lifestyle choices such as exercise, cognitive training, and diet.
An annual wellness exam can help you begin new healthy lifestyle choices—call (404) 255-0621 to schedule your appointment with us today.
The Mediterranean and MIND Diets and Alzheimer’s
Can a healthy diet help prevent dementia caused by Alzheimer’s? Many studies have suggested that what we eat affects our aging brain’s ability to think.
One diet that has shown promising results is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, and other seafood. A new variation of this, called MIND (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), incorporates the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The MIND diet has been found to lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
While scientists aren’t sure why the Mediterranean diet might help the brain, its proven effect on improving cardiovascular health can perhaps, in turn, reduce dementia risk. Also, the Mediterranean diet might increase specific nutrients that may protect the brain through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Ingredients of the MIND Diet
The MIND diet includes plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention from 10 healthy food groups:
- Leafy green vegetables, minimum 6 servings/week
- Other vegetables, minimum 1 serving/day
- Berries, minimum 2 servings/week
- Whole grains, minimum 3 servings/day
- Fish, 1 serving/week
- Poultry, 2 servings/week
- Beans, 3 servings/week
- Nuts, 5 servings/week
- Wine, 1 glass/day*
- Olive oil
The MIND diet limits servings of red meat, sweets, cheese, butter/margarine, and fried/fast food.
*Be mindful about how much alcohol you drink. How the body handles alcohol changes with age. Learn more about alcohol and older adults.
Fish Keeps Your Thinking Strong
Eating fish may be the biggest factor influencing slower cognitive decline and higher cognitive function. To reduce the risk of cognitive decline and impairment, eat a Mediterranean-style diet that includes fish several times per week.
There are lots of variety of fish to choose from, including Atlantic mackerel, catfish, black sea bass, clams, crab, cod, crawfish, lobster, flounder, haddock, salmon, tilapia, sardines, scallops, shrimp, trout, skate, sole, squid, and canned tuna. Just be careful about the fish that may have high mercury levels, such as bigeye tuna and swordfish; these fish should only be eaten occasionally.
The FDA has a guide to help you know the best fish to eat if you’re looking for more helpful dietary information.
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Scheduling an annual wellness exam can jumpstart a new healthier lifestyle. Visit our clinic today, call us at (404) 255-0621.