It’s never too early to start take care of your brain health. While genetics can play a huge role in your brain health over time, researchers are discovering that what we eat matters too.
For example according to Advances in Nutrition, there is a clear link between what you eat and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, although researchers are still investigating the specific reasons why this connection occurs. With this kind of information, we can focus on eating foods that will help cognitive function in the long run, regardless of age.
But which foods are really the best for brain health, and is there a specific diet we can follow? When we asked Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSA, LD, author of The sports nutrition script, and a new member of our medical expert council, she said without a doubt the best diet is for the brain the MIND diet.
What is the MIND diet?
“The MIND diet is an absolute win for your brain,” Goodson says.
Apparently the research agrees completely with her. This fairly new eating plan was created by Martha Clare Morris as a result of a research study she led that and observed older participants between the ages of 58 and 93. Since then, the MIND diet has consistently shown positive results with prolonged cognitive decline and a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, MIND . combines the mediterranean diet, which is rich in healthy fats, vegetables and whole grains with the DASH diet, which is designed to help stop hypertension (high blood pressure) and is packed with fruits and vegetables,” Goodson says.
According to Rush University Medical CenterMorris’s findings showed that the participants who “rigorously” followed the diet reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53%, and those who followed it “moderately” lowered it by 35%.
The focus of the MIND diet is simply to eat foods that keep your brain healthy, and limit or avoid foods that don’t.
“MIND is designed to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which can ultimately have negative effects on the brain,” Goodson says.
How To Follow The MIND Diet?
According to Goodson, the MIND diet recommends including the following foods in your diet regularly or as much as possible:
According to Harvard Health, the foods that help your brain health are the same foods that are healthy for your heart, that’s why we see many foods under the MIND diet that consist of healthy fats. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, for example, are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For the MIND diet, it is recommended to get at least one serving of fish per week.
Nuts are another nutritious snack known to help the brain. According to a study published in The food magazine, daily intake of walnuts may help improve cognitive function.
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gives some details on how often you should eat these items if you follow the MIND diet strictly. Stick to about three servings of whole grains a day, with at least one salad and another serving of vegetables. They also recommend eating chicken at least twice a week, and yes, a glass of red wine every day was on the list!
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