It is a cruel disease that affects millions of people around the world.
But according to experts, four out of ten cases of dementia can be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, sufficient physical activity and good quality sleep.
In a bid to reduce dementia rates, US researchers have created a diet that maintains brain health and reduces the risk of memory-robbing disease.
The MIND diet is full of fish, legumes and vegetables, which are believed to delay and limit the decline of cognitive functions.
Here, MailOnline details the foods you should include in your diet to keep your brain healthy.
Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, has designed an eating plan that follows the MIND diet. She recommends a breakfast of porridge, lentil salad for lunch and fish pie for dinner.
The best way to avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, not smoke, and maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Researchers at Rush University in Chicago identified MIND in 2015, which is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the importance of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and legumes, while the DASH diet focuses on reducing salt intake.
Tracy Parker, heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “Both diets are backed by plenty of research showing they can improve your heart health, and some evidence suggesting they can help reduce levels of mental decline. »
But the MIND diet showed even greater effects than either diet alone.
Dr. Martha Clare Morris and colleagues at Rush University Medical Center and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health followed a group of more than 1,000 dementia-free seniors for nine years.
The Diet That Will Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, has designed an eating plan that follows the MIND diet.
A good example of a breakfast from the MIND diet is porridge, one of the BHF’s best choices for a heart-healthy breakfast.
All oat cereals are whole grains and all contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which can help lower your cholesterol levels if you eat 3g or more per day as part of a healthy diet.
You can also add berries to your porridge, which may also have brain-protecting benefits.
The diet encourages eating more plant-based proteins like nuts and legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils.
A delicious warm lentil salad with fennel, apple, avocado and walnuts can be found via our recipe finder on the BHF website.
Replacing red and processed meat with these plant-based proteins will help reduce the saturated fat content of your diet, while increasing your fiber intake, which can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Our Fish Pie with Carrot and Cauliflower Puree is a hearty, brain-healthy meal that includes fish and vegetables, both part of the MIND diet.
The pureed carrots and cauliflower on top mean this pie will contribute to your five servings a day, as well as the two servings of fish it’s recommended to eat each week.
You can use salmon instead of white fish to benefit from the heart health benefits of oily fish.
They developed a MIND diet score based on foods that appeared to protect against dementia and cognitive decline. Those with the highest MIND score had the slowest rate of cognitive decline.
The diet involves eating at least three servings of whole grains, such as oats, quinoa and brown rice, every day.
Those who follow it will also need to consume at least six servings of leafy green vegetables, five servings of nuts, four of beans and two of berries.
Ms Parker said: ‘Berries such as strawberries, blueberries and blackberries also have many brain-protecting benefits.
At least two servings of poultry and one of fish are recommended.
During this time, red meat, fried foods and sweets should be avoided.
Experts say these foods contain high levels of antioxidants, which help protect against some of the brain cell damage associated with dementia.
They may also increase levels of proteins in the brain that protect brain cells from this damage, explains the Alzheimer’s Society.
THE the diet is low in cholesterol, which recent research suggests may be associated with problems with memory and thinking.
Dementia is linked to an abnormal buildup of proteins in the brain called amyloid and tau.
When these toxic proteins accumulate in the brain, the organ triggers an inflammatory response to limit damage.
But diets like MIND, which are full of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, can reduce inflammation, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Ms. Parker’s recommended diet contains vitamins such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, all of which act as antioxidants.
These antioxidants help prevent disruption and damage caused by free radicals, which contribute to brain aging, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Although they are not always harmful, they can damage proteins, DNA, cell membranes and cause tissue damage and inflammation.
The charity says the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease have higher levels of natural antioxidants, thought to be responsible for “scavenging” excess free radicals, suggesting the brain is trying to combat damage.
So eating more antioxidants can help fight free radicals and prevent damage, experts say.
Studies of the diets of people living in retirement communities suggest that those who follow it more closely have brains equivalent to seven and a half years younger than those who don’t.
Although it may have brain-boosting powers, there isn’t yet enough research for the MIND diet to be part of national dietary guidelines, Parker says.
She said: “We need further studies to refine the specific foods and quantities included. »
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain, in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins leads to the death of nerve cells.
This disrupts the transmitters that transmit messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the United States, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than a million Britons are affected.
As brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost.
This includes memory, orientation and the ability to think and reason.
The progression of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.
- Short-term memory loss
- Behavioral changes
- Mood swings
- Difficulty handling money or making a phone call
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
- Becoming anxious and frustrated over one’s inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior
- Eventually losing the ability to walk
- May have problems eating
- The majority will eventually need 24-hour care
Source: Alzheimer’s Association