Writer: Dr. Michelle Braun
• The impact of a brain-healthy diet is powerful in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Over the years, components of the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets have been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The most effective components of the Mediterranean and DASH diets were recently combined with other brain-boosting foods to form the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). The MIND Diet is one of the most effective diets in reducing the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s, in other words, Alzheimer’s that develops after the age of 65.
• There are many brain-healthy diets on the market, but the MIND Diet appears to include the most effective components of the available diets and is very easy to follow. People who eat the MIND Diet consistently over years likely have a greater reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s. Some studies suggest the MIND Diet may also help with weight loss.
• Individuals who closely followed the MIND Diet for four years had a 53 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. Even individuals who followed it moderately had a 35 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. The positive impact of the MIND Diet is likely related to better blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight. Antioxidants may also help minimize the destruction of nerve cells by free radicals and inflammation.
• The MIND Diet includes 10 recommended foods, including whole grains (three times per day); a salad, one other vegetable, and a glass of red wine daily; nuts on most days; beans every other day; poultry and berries at least twice a week; and fish at least once a week. Minimal consumption of five foods associated with decreased brain health is also recommended (fried foods, butter, cheese, red meat, pastries, and sweets). Consumption of fried and high-sugar foods has been associated with shrinkage of tissue in brain areas related to memory.
• The positive impact of brain-healthy foods on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s is significantly increased when accompanied by cardiovascular exercise, good stress management, sleeping at least seven hours per night, engaging in daily active learning, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight. Check with your health-care provider before changing diet, as some brain-healthy foods may not be recommended for individuals on certain medications or with certain medical conditions.
About the author
Dr. Michelle Braun is a Yale- and Harvard-trained, board-certified neuropsychologist who is passionate about empowering individuals to boost brain health, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, and triumph over “brain blips.”