Food & Nutrition

What to Eat (and What Not to Eat) to Help Prevent Dementia

Brain researchers have developed a “diet for the mind” that could prevent the kind of loss of memory, focus, and judgment that define dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Selection of food that is good for the health and skin, rustic wood backgroundOleksandra Naumenko/ShutterstockAlzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia—here are the main three types of dementia and how they differ. A number of recent and ongoing studies have implicated infection in the disease, with C. pneumoniae being the most common agent; post-mortem autopsies found C. pneumoniae infections in 17 of 19 Alzheimer’s brains, but only 1 of 19 non-Alzheimer’s elderly brains. If Alzheimer’s is indeed caused by bacterial infection of the brain, then it is preventable, treatable, and even curable by diet, supplements, and antibiotics. So what would a diet to prevent the kind of loss of memory, focus, and judgment that practically define Alzheimer’s look like?

How a healthy diet helps stave off dementia

A diet to treat Alzheimer’s would normalize vitamin D levels; optimize omega-3 intake; restrict omega-6 fats, fructose, protein, and carbs; and limit daily eating to a brief window of about 5 hours each day—because this type of intermittent fasting encourages autophagy, which recycles human cells and is a key part of the body’s immune immune defense against bacterial infection.

Brain researchers have developed a “diet for the mind” that combines two heart-healthy eating approaches—the Mediterranean diet and a low-sodium plan. They call this the MIND diet (for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay).

When researchers at Rush University Medical Center put the eating plan to the test, they found that the MIND diet could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. Even people who only partially adhered to the plan cut their dementia risk by a third. Take a look at the plan, which is now recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Fish: eat it once per week
  • Poultry: eat it twice a week
  • Beans: three or more servings a week
  • Nuts: five or more servings a week
  • Green leafy vegetables: at least six servings a week
  • Other vegetables: at least one serving a day
  • Berries: two or more servings a week
  • Wine: one glass a day
  • Olive Oil: use as your main cooking oil.

The foods to limit include red meat, fried foods, and sweets.

The diet emphasizes moderate lean protein: You’re aiming for at least 14 servings a week from fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. The diet authors say if you can pull this off, you could cut your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by half. Not bad. Don’t miss these 36 other things you can do to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

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Healthy Eating – Reader's Digest