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Easier version of the Mediterranean diet may prevent Alzheimer's


March 26, 2015

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A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, berries, nuts, legumes, fish, poultry and red wine or grape juice may reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent, according to a new study by researchers at Rush University.

Researchers call the eating plan the MIND diet, an acronym for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” MIND is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

The following are the basic components of the MIND diet, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:

• Three servings of whole grain per day.

• A salad and one other vegetable each day.

• Berries at least twice a week. Berries are the only fruit specifically prescribed by the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” said Martha Clare Morris, one of the authors of the study. Studies have also shown that strawberries may improve cognitive function.

• A one-ounce serving of nuts each day. Walnuts, in particular, may protect against Alzheimer’s, according to studies reported in The Huffington Post.

• Beans or legumes every other day.

• Poultry twice a week.

• Fish at least once a week.

• A five-ounce glass of red wine each day. If you don’t consume alcohol, purple grape juice provides many of the same benefits, according to The Mayo Clinic.

• No more than one tablespoon per day of butter.

• Cheese, fried food and fast food to no more than once per week.

The MIND diet is easier to follow than the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish, 3-4 servings of fruit and 3-4 servings of vegetables, Morris said.

One finding that researchers found encouraging was that people who followed the diet only moderately well had a 35 percent smaller chance of developing Alzheimer’s. People who followed the diet strictly had a 53 percent smaller chance of developing the disease.

Morris and her fellow researchers did not conduct a randomized controlled study for the MIND diet. Instead, they used an existing study of senior citizens who were already reporting what they were eating, and matched up people’s diets with their likelihood of developing Alzhiemer’s.

“The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials. That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease,” Morris said.

Diet is an important factor in late-onset Alzhiemer’s disease, according to Morris. Late-onset Alzheimer’s accounts for up to 90 percent of all cases and affects about half of adults over the age of 85, WebMD reports.

Because of demographic trends, the number of Alzheimer’s patients could increase by as much as 50 percent in the next 10 years, Deseret News has reported.

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