Eating right can have an impact on our physical health and help us all to manage our weight.
Can changing the way we and our senior loved ones eat really improve our brain health?
Will it prevent cognitive loss?
One eating plan has been shown to help our brains stay healthy – the MIND diet.
A combination of both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH eating plan has been developed into the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay).
It purportedly keeps our brains sharp, even the brains of our senior loved ones.
Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet help improve cardiovascular health through lowering intake of saturated fats and including more fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein in the form of fish and plant based foods. The DASH diet specifically helps with lowering blood pressure.
What the researchers are learning is that what is good for the heart is good for the brain, so consequently the MIND diet is capable of improving our brain health.
Research shows that those following the MIND diet closely cut the risk of cognitive loss by 50% and kept the brain 7.5 years younger while those who followed it half of the time reduced their risk of cognitive loss by 35%.
Tips to Follow the MIND Way of Eating
Changing our diets and helping our senior loved ones change theirs to follow the MIND diet principles will help their heart, brain and overall health.
Here are some tips to making meal changes:
- Eat more fish (omega-3 fatty acid rich types with fins, such as salmon, anchovies, or sardines) at least once a week and poultry (not fried) twice a week.
- Add anthocyanin-rich berries, such as blueberries, at least twice a week.
- Include vegetables daily, eating dark green leafy choices (kale, arugula, spinach, collards) at least six servings per week.
- Eat nuts five or more times a week (in correct portion sizes).
- Include beans at least four times a week.
- Eat whole grains.
- Your primary oil should be olive oil.
- Drink one glass of wine a day.
- Avoid red meat, butter, cheese, sweets/pastries, and fast food.
If you would like to try new recipes that incorporate these principles, check out MIND Diet Meals from author and dietitian Maggie Moon.
Protecting our brains and changing as many lifestyle factors as we can to strengthen our brains against cognitive decline is a goal for which family caregivers and senior loved ones can strive.
Here are some articles that might help you reach your goals: