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This New Diet Lowers Your Alzheimer's Risk By 53%

You’ve probably already added a variety of brain boosting super-foods to your diet. Foods like fatty fish and dark chocolate. 

But according to experts, there is a new diet that can significantly lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

And the best part?

It works even if you don’t adhere to it 100% of the time.

It’s called the MIND diet – which is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

And its name couldn’t be more perfect.

Because according to a new study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Journal of The Alzheimer's Association the diet has been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s risk by 53% for people who follow it strictly and by 35% for those who only follow it mildly well.1 

And the study’s author Martha Clare Morris, a professor of epidemiology at Rush University in Chicago says…

“Even moderate adherence to the MIND diet showed a statistically significant decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Neither the Mediterranean diet or DASH had that benefit with moderate adherence."

In prior studies both the Mediterranean and DASH diets have shown brain-boosting benefits, even though both are typically known for their cardiovascular benefits.

The MIND diet, in contrast, utilizes the parts of each diet that have been specifically shown to help prevent dementia. It also modifies other aspects of the diet for added benefit. 

It focuses on 10 ideal food groups and 5 not-so-ideal ones.

Those that follow the MIND diet perfectly eat:

  • A minimum of 3 servings of whole grains a day
  • 6 servings of leafy greens a week plus one other veggie serving a day
  • 2 servings of berries a week
  • 1 serving of fish a week
  • 2 servings of poultry a week
  • 3 servings of legumes a week
  • 5 servings of nuts a week
  • A daily serving of alcohol, ideally red wine. 

In addition, they also make olive oil their primary oil when cooking at home.

In addition to the ideal foods, perfect MIND dieters also partake in fast or fried foods and cheese less than once per week. 

They limit their consumption of red meat, eating it less than four times per week.

And they limit their intake of deserts, pastries and other sweets to less than 5 times per week. 

Plus, they use less than a tablespoon of butter or margarine per day.

During the study, the more the participants abided by these guidelines the higher their scores.

Those who ended up with the highest MIND scores were 53% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s during the study period compared to the group who scored lowest. 

The group who scored in the mid-range was 35% less-likely to develop Alzheimer’s when compared to the lowest scoring group.

Which is still pretty good. 

And while the DASH and Mediterranean diets also reduced Alzheimer's risk in the study—39% and 54% respectively—the benefits were limited to those who followed it to the letter.

Which according to researchers can be extremely difficult. Primarily because both diets call for higher fruit and vegetable intake and Americans are notorious for not consuming enough of either. 

The modifications made to the Mediterranean and DASH diets were made with dementia prevention in mind. This is one of the primary reasons it outperformed either diet in isolation. 

For example, berries are the only fruit specifically mentioned by name in the MIND diet. The primary reason being that several studies have shown berries, and blueberries in particular have cognitive benefits. 

Although researchers like Morris don’t fully understand how or why, they hypothesize that it’s because of their antioxidant content. 

In addition, the MIND diet also emphasizes the consumption of leafy green vegetables due to their high antioxidant and brain boosting vitamin content.

Scientific Proof

As part of the study, participants underwent a neurological evaluation every year starting in 1997 as part of the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project. 

The most recent study focused on 923 adults with an average age of 80. At the beginning of the study none of the participants had Alzheimer's and during the study they filled out questionnaires about their dietary habits between the years 2004 to 2013.

And while the results of the study showed promise, due to the fact that the participants   were evaluated on how they were already eating – further research is needed to determine exactly how the MIND diet works when prescribed specifically. 

However, based on the preliminary results it appears to be an effective strategy for better brain and cognitive health. 

Especially when you take into consideration the fact that it’s a well-rounded, primarily plant-based diet with a large body of scientific research behind it. 

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References:

1. "MIND Diet May Protect Against Alzheimer’S." Rush University Medical Center. N.p., 2015.

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