Could the MIND diet be the answer to delaying Alzheimer’s?

A diet that has elements of that enjoyed in the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) ways of eating could help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet was developed to help prevent cognitive decline and a new study suggests it could be effective.

Standing for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, the MIND diet focuses on daily and weekly recommendations for specific foods and food groups. It encourages eating plant-based foods, fish and poultry while avoiding saturated fats and added sugars.

Now, a new study underlines the potential benefits of adopting the MIND diet for staving off Alzheimer’s. Scientists at RUSH University in Chicago in the US found people who regularly eat green leafy vegetables, fruit, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts and fish may have fewer Alzheimer’s-causing proteins in their brains.

Some 581 individuals were involved in the research, with the average age being 84 and an agreement to donate their brains to further the dementia study after their deaths. They completed a questionnaire every year about their eating habits and post-mortem examinations determined the amounts of amyloid plaques and tau tangles present.

Both of these substances are found in the brains of older people, with scientists believing higher levels can be associated with Alzheimer’s. It’s the most common form of dementia, with 75 per cent of diagnoses being Alzheimer’s.

The researchers analysed the food questionnaires in context of the MIND diet, splitting responses into 15 categories. A point was given for each of ten brain-healthy groups including green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.

Those with the highest scores for eating a MIND diet had average plaque and tangle amounts associated with being 12 years younger than those who ranked the lowest. A score one point higher corresponded to typical plaque amounts of participants who were 4.25 years younger.

Puja Agarwal, author of the study, said: “These results are exciting. Improvement in people’s diets in just one area – such as eating more than six servings of green leafy vegetables per week, or not eating fried foods – was associated with fewer amyloid plaques in the brain similar to being about four years younger.”

She added: “Our finding that eating more green leafy vegetables is in itself associated with fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain is intriguing enough for people to consider adding more of these vegetables to their diet.”

Photo credit: Unsplash/chiara conti

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