Researchers have already found links between diet and health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Now, evidence suggests that some food choices can influence a person’s risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The American Academy of Neurology and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine estimate that there could be 13.8 million people with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

How could dietary changes help efforts to prevent the growth of Alzheimer’s disease?

How Diet Might Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet may help reduce Alzheimer’s risk, researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found. This diet combines Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the heart-friendly Mediterranean diet. Study results indicate that this combined diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, more than 900 people aged 58 to 98 filled out food questionnaires and received neurological testing. The volunteers who most closely followed the MIND diet had cognitive function similar to a person 7.5 years younger than themselves.

What Foods Make Up the MIND Diet?

Here are the major foods that this diet includes:

  • Plenty of whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, or oatmeal) daily
  • Green leafy vegetables nearly every day
  • Other vegetables every day
  • Two servings of berries weekly
  • Limited red meat intake
  • Fish and poultry as the main source of meat
  • At least three servings of beans weekly
  • Five servings of nuts weekly
  • Olive oil as the primary cooking oil

The MIND diet encourages moderate alcohol consumption, limited to one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage daily.

Foods that should be consumed only rarely include sweets, pastries, cheese, red meat, butter, and anything fried.

Small, Incremental Dietary Changes to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

The study found that even moderately following the MIND diet could have a positive impact on the risk of Alzheimer’s.

This means that the MIND diet does not require an “all or nothing” approach, or making many big changes all at once.

Instead, you might start by gradually making a few small changes to your eating habits.

  • If you tend to consume a lot of sweets, start cutting back.
  • Snack on fruit, nuts, and vegetables instead of chips or cookies. This will help increase consumption of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Use brown rice instead of white, and whole-wheat bread in sandwiches.
  • Exchange butter for olive oil.
  • Have salads for lunch, including a wide variety of vegetables.
  • Try turkey or veggie burgers instead of hamburgers.
  • Choose foods stir-fried in olive oil instead of fried foods.

Help Senior Loved Ones Follow a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Although diet is an important part of good health, it is not a guarantee against Alzheimer’s. Keep your brain healthy with a combination of clean eating, physical exercise, social support, regular checkups, and learning.

Heritage Senior Communities provide healthy, balanced meal options that help seniors stay healthy. Contact us to learn more about our residences, including new locations in Saline and Holland, Michigan.