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MIND Diet for Reducing Memory Loss Risk

Whether mentioned in a health class in school or the reason behind parents vetoing the second Twinkies you craved, we have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” For our health and well-being, we understand it is important to watch the food we ingest.  Granted, we know the importance of avoiding saturated fat in bacon cheeseburgers, high sodium in beef jerky and sugar-laden cotton candy in order to promote our heart health. But what about protecting our brain from memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease? Is it possible? By following the MIND diet, you actually can eat foods that boost brain health and thus decrease your risk of memory loss.

What is the MIND Diet?

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a mash-up of two diets: the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The Mediterranean diet was created to encourage heart health, and the DASH diet is designed to control high blood pressure.

A Rush University study originally funded by the National Institute on Aging decided to investigate the merits of combining the two diets to create the MIND diet. The group, led by Nutritional Epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, wanted to test the theory that certain foods reduced memory loss. For the MIND diet, the group decided to rely on plant-based foods and limit saturated fat, red meat and anything sweet, and then evaluate study participants over the span of five years.

By way of analyzing food logs of more than 900 older adults in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, the researchers discovered that individuals who followed the MIND diet reduced their risk of memory loss or developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. Participants who didn’t follow the principles of the basic MIND diet in the strictest sense still managed to reduce their risk by 35 percent.

MIND dietFor the older adults eating vegetables, especially leafy greens and plenty of berries, the Rush group learned their brains were as sharp as those more than seven years younger.

What to Eat on the MIND Diet

As the researchers at Rush University discovered, MIND dieters only need to incorporate a couple of the suggestions below to reap the benefits of brain health improvement. As an added bonus, people who follow the MIND diet find it easier to stay on track due in part to its flexibility.

  • Make sure to eat green leafy vegetables at least six times a week and other vegetables at least once a day.
  • Eat nuts at least five times a week.
  • Limit pastries or sweets to five times a week.
  • Make sure to have less than four servings of red meat each week.
  • Consume beans more than three times every week.
  • Eat at least three servings of whole grains every day.
  • Make sure to have poultry and berries at least twice a week.
  • Limit fried or fast food, as well as any cheese serving, to less than once a week.
  • Eat fish at least once a week.
  • Make sure to cook mainly with olive oil, and limit butter and margarine to less than a tablespoon per day.
  • Consume one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage a day.

Please do not make any changes to your diet before consulting your physician.

At Chapters Health System and its affiliatesGood Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to info@chaptershealth.org.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Corporate Communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.

Do You Know the Warning Signs for Early Memory Loss?

As statistics show, it is more important than ever to be alert and knowledgeable about the early warning signs and symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you were asked what to be on the lookout for, would you know? In case the answer is no, don’t worry. The following signs are what you need to know:

  1. Forgetting dates, times and places. If someone is starting to show the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, he or she can lose track of dates and time passing by. Individuals with memory loss issue can also forget where they are and even how they arrived there.
  2. Loss of memory that hampers daily life. Typically as we age, we tend to forget names or the fact that we scheduled a dentist appointment. However, when you start to forget recent information, which then needs to be repeated over and over again, this can be an early warning sign.
  1. Losing items with the inability to retrace your steps. Have you ever misplaced your wallet? But then you were able to think back, walk step-by-step, and find it in the center console of your car. This scenario can occur as we get older. Yet, if you lost your favorite purse and are unable to retrace your steps to find it, this can be an early sign of dementia or memory loss.
  2. Trouble solving problems or issues planning. For some, following a recipe that used to be a breeze becomes an impossible task. Concentrating on familiar tasks can prove difficult, which results in them taking much longer to complete than in the past. Additionally, working with numbers can become quite the challenge.
  3. New trouble finding words when speaking or writing. If you know someone who has problems either joining or following a conversation, it isn’t something that should be dismissed. As we get older, it is normal to have trouble finding the right words; but with someone with memory loss or Alzheimer’s, they might use the wrong word entirely, for example, calling a dog a turtle.

If these signs sound familiar for you or a loved one, please talk with your healthcare provider and get checked out.  

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