Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a brain disorder that ravages your memory, robbed 5.5 million Americans of their quality of life in 2019. Two-thirds of those affected were women, the traditional caretakers of our society. African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to be diagnosed with this illness and there is no cure. But there is hope.
Research is showing that diet may delay the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and we all know that every moment we can spend with our loved one where we don’t have to wrestle with the side-effects of this disease are precious and to be treasured.
Studies from Rush University in Chicago have found that the MIND diet, a combination of the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet, may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 50% and can still protect the brain even when not followed rigorously.
What is the MIND Diet?
The MIND diet was born out of blending the DASH diet for hypertension which focused on limiting sodium in the diet while increasing vegetables and low fat dairy with the Mediterranean diet, a diet focused on increasing vegetables, monounsaturated fats from olive oil, fish, whole grains and omega 3 fatty acids.
Researchers believe that those who follow the diet for years will receive the greatest protective benefits. The time to start a MIND diet is when you find out you have Alzheimer’s Disease in the family as it will lower your risk of developing it. For those who already have it, its not too late to start the diet to delay the progression of AD.
What Does the MIND Diet Do?
The MIND diet emphasizes those foods that protect the brain and restricts those foods that affect the brain adversely. It works because it reduces inflammation of the brain and nerves, it acts as an antioxidant for the tissues, it makes nerve transmission more fluid and decreases neuron loss while improving memory overall.
How Do I Follow a MIND Diet?
As with any major change, start slow. Make a few changes at a time until the MIND diet feels like your normal routine. Soon even grocery shopping will become automatic and you won’t have to pour over lists of foods that you aren’t used to eating or learn new recipes or ways of cooking because it has become a habit. It just takes a little time, one step at a time.
When introducing starchy beans into the diet, do so slowly if it is a new food to the individual. Starchy beans like chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, fava beans, etc., are not only high in fiber, they may be gas forming and cause bloating if introduced into the diet too quickly. Always introduce increased fiber slowly with 8 glasses of water per day to avoid bloating.
Another trick to lessen gas and bloating from beans is to either soak them overnight, drain and rinse or bring to a boil and drain, rinse and then bring the beans to heat again. Draining the water gets rid of the gassy component present in beans.
Also, some healthy foods can be expensive, a real consideration for most of us. One way to save money is to buy fruits and vegetables in season and freeze them. Don’t use sugar or salt, just freeze them after they’ve been cleaned, label and date them and freeze for later.
MIND Diet Guidelines
The Rules of the Diet Are:
The MIND diet supports vascular health and is protective against vascular dementia. Certain foods used in the MIND diet have been directly linked to improved neurological function or reduced Alzheimer Disease biomarkers in the brain. MIND diet foods reflect nutrients that have been shown in studies to slow cognitive decline, decrease the risk of AD, scour the brain of amyloid plaque and decrease neuron loss.
So, while a cure may not be here, hope is on the horizon for a better quality of life by following the MIND diet.
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