A group of foods, known as the MIND diet, may be able to slow cognitive decline among older adults, according to new research by the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago.
The study found that adults following the MIND diet were 7.5 years cognitively younger, compared to those on a normal routine. The research looked at 960 adults, with an average age of 81.4, and it merely looked at what foods the individuals consumed over a period of five years. Their diets were then scored on how well they conformed to the MIND diet, and the overall cognitive change was recorded. Other factors, such as sex, age, education and energy intake, were taken into account.
Speaking to Medscape Medical News, Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, said: "Following the MIND diet may be a way to preserve the brain with age and to prevent dementia. The MIND diet modifies the Mediterranean and DASH diets to highlight the foods and nutrients shown through the scientific literature to be associated with dementia prevention."
MIND, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, has often been linked to reducing risk for stroke, hypertension and myocardial infarction. It consists of 15 dietary components; ten healthy food groups and five unhealthy ones. A person has to limit intake of the latter, with only less than a tablespoon of butter a day, for example. They also need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and a glass of wine a day.
Scientists have been quick to suggest, however, that there probably is not one diet that leads the others in terms of improving cognition - the real take-home message is to generally eat healthy.
The findings were published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes.