(Natural News) Most people think that growing old means forgetting more things. However, there are cases wherein this indicates the onset of more sinister diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. For an average American, the risk of developing these diseases stands at a whopping 45 percent once they reach 85 years old. This highlights the importance of taking precautionary steps that could delay cognitive decline. One of the most important factors that can be controlled to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia is diet.
Countless studies have highlighted the importance of nutrition on maintaining healthy brain function. In fact, a study led by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and Buck Institute for Research on Aging showed that eating brain foods reverses memory loss in 9 out of 10 patients suffering from dementia, a result which has never been achieved through medication. With this relationship between cognitive function and nutrition in mind, many researchers sought to develop a diet plan that prevents neurodegenerative disorders.
Among all the diets that have been studied so far, the MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, is deemed to be the best for improving brain health. As the name implies, this is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diets. However, unlike the other two, the MIND diet focuses on improving brain function and not maintaining heart health. People who strictly followed this diet reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s by 52 percent. To enjoy these benefits, the following brain foods should be eaten as part of the MIND diet:
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- Fish — Cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, cod, and herring, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These compounds reduce brain inflammation, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids also improve brain function by increasing brain volume and facilitating communication between brain cells.
- Green and leafy vegetables — Vitamin K, which is abundant in green leafy vegetables like arugula and kale, serves an important role in preserving brain function. It regulates calcium in the brain so that they won’t be able to inflict damage that has been linked to Alzheimer’s. In addition, green leafy vegetables are also rich in folate, beta-carotene, and magnesium, which can slow down cognitive decline.
- Other vegetables — Green leafy vegetables are not the only ones that are included in the MIND diet. People should also eat other vegetables that are rich in nutrients like vitamin K, flavonoids, beta-carotene, and choline.
- Berries — Many people enjoy eating berries because of their taste but now there’s even more reason to eat them. These fruits are rich in antioxidants, especially resveratrol and quercetin, that promote communication between brain cells by increasing the connections between them. Moreover, berries also reduce amyloid plaques in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.
- Nuts and seeds — Eating nuts and seeds reduce oxidative stress with their high levels of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, effectively delaying Alzheimer’s disease progression.
- Beans — Lentils, black-eyed peas, and garbanzo beans have high amounts of fiber and folate, which have been associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Whole grains — Aside from being beneficial for heart health, whole grains are also good for the brain. They work by reducing bad cholesterol in the bloodstream so that they won’t form plaques that block blood vessels, allowing sufficient blood supply to reach the brain.
- Olive oil — This key component of the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet prevents cognitive decline by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
By strictly adhering to the MIND diet, you can effectively prevent or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases so you won’t have to worry about them as you age. (Related: Have you heard of the MIND diet? Learn how to boost your mental health with this new healthy eating plan.)