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Changing Your Diet Could Improve Your Brain’s Health

What did you have for lunch today? And yesterday? If you are eating the right foods, you could be improving the health of your brain. If you are eating the wrong foods, you could be in line for developing dementia. While food doesn’t cause dementia, food can prevent it. No matter your age, eating the right diet can help you improve your brain’s health by leaps and bounds.

The Mediterranean diet became popular several years ago, and many people jumped on the bandwagon, believing it to be a healthier option and a way to lose weight. What people didn’t know until recently was that this diet can be an excellent way to stave off dementia.

Research was recently released by the Alzheimer’s Association International during a London conference. They found that generally healthy older adults who follow the Mediterranean diet had a third of a lower risk of developing dementia than other adults. The lead author of the study said that a plant-based diet is associated with an approximate 35 percent lower risk of becoming cognitively impaired as one ages. A plant-based diet is also beneficial for general cognitive functioning.

The study looked at the way close to 6,000 adults with an average age of 68 ate. They adjusted the findings for gender, age, race and education along with other health issues. Once these adjustments were taken into consideration, they discovered the lowered risk. The longer people maintained the Mediterranean diet, the better their overall brain health.

What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

So just what is this diet? If you are used to eating pasta by the pound and steak every night, you will need to change your habits. This diet is largely plant based. The majority of your meals will have a vegetable or fruit as its focus. You can also utilize whole grains, seeds and beans in your cooking. There is also an emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Forget refined sugar, ditch the flour and skip the fat.

The MIND Diet – A Step Beyond

If you are interested in the Mediterranean diet, you may also be interested in the MIND diet. The MIND diet takes some foods from the Mediterranean diet and some from a salt-reducing diet and blends them, creating a new diet. According to the MIND diet, there are 10 healthy food groups and five that should be avoided.

Any person who follows the MIND diet does not eat red meat. They also skip over butter and stick margarine, fast food, fried food and cheese. A person following the MIND diet will eat six servings each week of greens like kale or spinach and a serving of another vegetable. They will also have three servings of whole grains each day.

Add in three servings of beans, two servings of turkey or chicken, two servings of berries and a serving of fish every week. Olive oil is encouraged and they have a glass of wine every day. If you can do all of that, you, too, can follow the MIND diet.

Even More Evidence

There was a second study released at the same conference. In that study, the MIND diet and its impacts were examined. The study followed just over 7,000 women with an average age of 71 over the course of nearly 10 years. The study found that those who followed the MIND diet had a more than 30 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Another study looked at over 2,000 Swedish adults over the course of six years. None of these people had dementia. They followed a diet in which sweets, fatty and processed foods were avoided. Instead, these people eat non-root vegetables, poultry, pasta/rice, apples, pears, peaches, vegetable oils and consume tea and water. Those who stuck to this diet had a better overall cognitive function that those who did not.

Experts do point out that these studies are not controlled and instead rely on information provided by participants. They say that the evidence gathered is promising and warrants further, controlled study. In any case, data is pointing to the fact that while we may not be what we eat, what we eat can have a great impact on what we are.

Whether you are living on your own or in an active senior living facility in Decatur, following the right diet is important for your cognitive health. Your chosen medical professional can assist you in putting together a diet that is right for your needs now and for your needs in the future.

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