‘MIND’ Your Diet, and Protect Against Alzheimer’s

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If you want to protect your mind, be mindful of what you eat. Doctors say that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats that includes a little wine can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers have aptly named their diet the “MIND diet” — it is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

A study published in the journal Neurology in 2011 found that people with diabetes were at least twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who don’t have diabetes. In fact, researchers at Brown University have called Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 diabetes,” given its connection to high blood-sugar levels and insulin resistance, hallmarks of Type 2 diabetes.

Alzheimer’s disease rates are relatively low in Japan and in Italy, leading researchers to further ponder the connection between diet and loss of cognitive function among the elderly. In 2013, researchers in China found that the Japanese and Mediterranean diets may offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease. These diets share an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans and fish, and include little red meat.

The MIND diet emphasizes 15 dietary components, including 10 foods to eat daily — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five foods to avoid: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.