Over the years, research has time and again pointed to how proper nutrition can truly feed the brain. Essentially, anything that’s healthy and good for your body and beauty is also good for your brain. And having a noggin’ that runs well is essential for everything else to work without a hitch.
So what exactly does “good for your brain” mean? Eating in a way that encourages blood flow and reduces your risk of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease will not only make you sharp now, but also reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s down the road.
Studies have shown how following a Mediterranean diet — rich with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and healthy fats — is ideal fuel. And now, a new paper published online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, shows a particular diet, tailored specifically to Alzheimer’s prevention, can make a huge impact on how your brain stands the test of time.
The “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” or MIND diet, is a hybrid of two of the best ways to eat: the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (which was created to decrease hypertension). Researchers at Rush University Medical Center found that those who followed the MIND diet strictly lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 53%; those who followed it moderately still saw a 35% decrease.
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The MIND diet is organized into 15 dietary components — 10 healthy food groups and 5 not-so-great ones. So the diet is twofold: Essentially, load up on the 10 good ones and drastically limit intake of the baddies. No-no foods include exactly what you’d guess: red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried/fast food. (Sorry, you knew that was coming though, right?)
So what’s allowed? These are the dietary guidelines study participants followed to see positive results:
- Three servings of whole grains daily
- A salad daily
- One other vegetable daily
- Fish once a week (and we’d add 900 miligrams of DHA-omega-3 a day to make sure)
- Poultry and berries at least twice a week
- Snack on nuts (we think walnuts are best for your brain) most days
We also suggest adding ½ a multivitamin twice a day as well as 600 mg of calcium, 400 mg of magnesium and 1000IU of vitamin D2/3 as an extra insurance policy against imperfections in diet. That way, you’ll ensure you’re getting every nutrient you need and not shortchanging yourself.
Interestingly, researchers also found that those who had been eating similarly to the MIND diet all along saw greater results than those who recently adopted these healthier eating habits. So as if the promise of a healthier heart and body wasn’t enough initiative to get your eating habits in shape, now you have the promise of a sharper mind throughout life to give you that extra little nudge.
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