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Posts Tagged ‘Cognition’

 If you thought the title referred to your opinions, think again. The more correct question should be what’s on your MIND Diet? That’s right. Although the diet has been around for a few years, we don’t hear much about it. But maybe we should.

Rush University Medical Center developed a diet to slow cognitive decline, namely Alzheimer’s disease, in older adults. The diet combined the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets and was referred to as the MIND Diet―Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

How significant is finding a diet to thwart this leading neurodegenerative condition―Alzheimer’s disease? More than five million people over age sixty-five are affected. The MIND diet may lower the risk of this disease by more than 50 percent. Even those inconsistent in following the diet can cut their risk by 35 percent.

The MIND diet has fifteen dietary components with ten brain-healthy groups and five unhealthy-brain food groups. See how closely you follow this diet to keep your brain functioning at its peak.

Healthy foods                                                           

  • Green leafy vegetables: Six servings or more per week of foods like spinach, kale, and salad greens.
  • Other vegetables: At least one-half cup cooked or one cup raw once a day.
  • Nuts: Five servings per week. One-third cup equals a serving.
  • Berries: Three servings per week. Blueberries and strawberries are the best choices for a positive impact on the mind.
  • Beans: Three or more servings per week. These include one-half cup of cooked lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and similar varieties.
  • Whole grains: Three or more servings per day. Look for labels that say “100 percent whole grain.”
  • Fish: At least once per week. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines are preferred choices.
  • Poultry: Two or more servings per week. Remove skin and bake, broil, grill, or roast. Avoid frying.
  • Olive oil: Use as the main choice for cooking oil.
  • Wine: No more than one glass a day.

Unhealthy foods       

  • Red meats: Less than four servings a week. Use lean cuts and trim fat from those you do eat.
  • Butter/margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily.
  • Cheese: One serving each week. Most cheeses are high in fat and sodium. Swiss cheese is low in both and can add more cheese servings per week.
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week. These contain high levels of sugar, fat, and sodium.
  • Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week.

While this diet has many beneficial qualities that may lower the risks of many health issues―hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other maladies present as we age―there are drawbacks. Due to high levels of potassium and phosphorus, those with kidney disease should avoid this diet. Increased consumption of whole grains and other higher calorie foods may be inappropriate for those with diabetes.

For most of us, efforts to closely follow this diet may keep minds sharp and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For this eating plan to become a part of our lifestyle, keeping a chart for several weeks helps. Below is one example.

To borrow from part of a cliché, the mind is a terrible thing to let waste away. Keep it healthier with the MIND Diet.

mind-chart-4

 

 

 

 

2016-10-06

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Does what we eat affect how we think? Yes, according to recent research—especially as we grow older. We may joke about “senior moments,” but for most of us, it’s no laughing matter. We fear dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Who among us is more likely to be a target for decreased mental abilities?

Specific nutrients affect memory and learning. A diet with lots of sugar-rich foods has a negative impact. As one study noted, sugar makes you dumber. Rats fed extra fructose in their drinking water lacked the ability to think clearly and to recall the route of a maze they had learned several weeks earlier. However, even with the fructose, omega-3 fatty acids added to their regular diets caused them to remember the route faster.

Researchers theorized that high amounts of fructose blocks insulin’s ability to regulate the cell’s use and storage for energy that’s required to process thoughts and emotions. Thus, they concluded that high-fructose harmed the brain and the body.

Likewise, saturated fats may decrease memory and reduce brain function while unsaturated fats may improve it. Total fat doesn’t seem to affect mental tasks, but the type does. Even slight negative changes in cognitive skill increases the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another study noted how omega-3 fatty acids protect the aging brain. Researchers tested 1,500 people with an average age of sixty-seven. Those who ate diets lacking omega-3 fatty acids aged faster and lost memory and thinking ability. Researchers did MRI brain scans, measured mental function, body mass, and omega-3 fatty acid in the red blood cells. Those who scored in the lower twenty-five percent of omega-3 fatty acid levels in their blood had smaller brains and scored lower on memory and abstract reasoning. They mentally appeared two years older than the remaining seventy-five percent.

How can you improve the way your brain works? High-sugar and high-saturated fat in the diet seem to do harm. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, improve memory. Also, berries have nutrients that contribute to brain health. Berries contain high levels of phytochemicals. Although berries differ in their combination of these substances, each contributes antioxidant effects that may help prevent age-related brain degeneration and changes in cognition and motor function. For best results, try a serving of berries—blueberries, strawberries, blackberries— each day.

Your memory may not be as sharp as in years past, but by careful selection of what you eat, you can keep your mind more alert and improve recall. What do you have to lose—except your mind?

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