Scientists have created a hybrid diet that is proven to prevent dementia, new research suggests.
A combination of the Mediterranean way of eating and the so-called low-fat DASH diet maintains at-risk people’s thinking, reasoning and memories, a study found.
Followers of such eating habits, in a diet known as MIND, are required to consume nine foods or drinks regularly, including at least one portion of green leafy vegetables a day, berries twice a week and even a daily glass of wine, the research adds.
It also allows dieters to munch on sweets and pastries, providing they limit themselves to just four times a week, the study found.
When stroke survivors who suffered cognitive decline followed the MIND diet for up to 13 years, their risk of developing dementia significantly reduced, with researchers stressing such eating habits will also benefit the brains of healthy people.
Study author Dr Laurel Cherian from Rush University, said: ‘The goal is to emphasize foods that will not only lower our risk of heart attacks and stroke, but make our brains as resilient as possible to cognitive decline.’
One in eight people over 65 in the US has Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia.
Scientists have created a diet, which includes wine, that is proven to prevent dementia (stock)
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT TO PREVENT COGNITIVE DECLINE?
According to researchers from Rush University, people can delay cognitive decline by following the ‘MIND diet’.
This is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and low-fat DASH ways of eating, the latter of which is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to prevent and control hypertension.
The MIND diet has 14 components, of which nine are brain-healthy and five are treats.
MIND diet followers eat the following:
- At least three servings of whole grains a day
- At least one green leafy vegetable a day
- One other vegetable every day
- A glass of wine a day
- Nuts as a snack most days
- Beans a couple of times a week
- Berries at least twice a week
- Fish at least once a week
- Poultry at least twice a week
Dieters should also limit their intake of:
- Butter to less than one-and-a-half teaspoons a day
- Sweets and pastries to less than five servings a week
- Full-fat cheese to no more than one serving a week
- Fried or fast food to just once a week
After analyzing 106 people who had a stroke and suffered from cognitive decline, the researchers found following the MIND diet for up to 13 years significantly reduces the risk of at-risk people developing dementia.
How the research was carried out
The researchers analyzed 106 people from the Rush Memory and Aging Project who had suffered a stroke and subsequent cognitive decline, including a reduced ability to think, reason or remember, between 2004 and 2017.
The study’s participants’ eating habits were assessed every year of the trial via food journals.
They were grouped according to how strongly they adhered to the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet.
Such eating habits include aspects of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to prevent and control hypertension.
The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meat, whole grains and fish.
‘A way to supercharge the nutritional content of what we eat’
The participants who most closely followed the MIND diet had significantly slower rates of cognitive decline.
This occurred regardless of their education or activity levels.
Dr Cherian said: ‘The Mediterranean and DASH diets have been shown to be protective against coronary artery disease and stroke, but it seems the nutrients emphasized in the MIND diet may be better suited to overall brain health and preserving cognition.’
According to Dr Cherian, previous studies link nutrients such as folate, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids to reduced cognitive decline, while unhealthy fats are associated with dementia.
Dr Cherian said: ‘I like to think of the MIND diet as a way to supercharge the nutritional content of what we eat.
‘The goal is to emphasize foods that will not only lower our risk of heart attacks and stroke, but make our brains as resilient as possible to cognitive decline.
‘Our study suggests that if we choose the right foods, we may be able to protect stroke survivors from cognitive decline.’
The researchers hope to repeat the experiment in a larger trial, however, Dr Cherian added: ‘For now, I think there is enough information to encourage stroke patients to view food as an important tool to optimize their brain health.’
The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2018 in Los Angeles on January 25.