How To Cut Your Alzheimer’s Risk By 53%
A GOOD BRAIN IS WORTH SAVING
Around the ripe old age of 55 years old, impending seniors start forgetting little things like names and where we put the mortgage statement. This can cause us great alarm and start us wondering if full-blown dementia is around the corner. We can reduce our risk of ever developing Alzheimer’s disease through a healthy diet, according to food-related research on brain health. Our attention to brain health is imperative in light of the staggering statistics.
It is estimated that there are approximately 44 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. In the U.S., an estimated 5.5 million people of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. Of these, around 5.3 million are 65 and older and 200,000 are younger and have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
FOOD CAN SAVE YOUR BRAIN
Ever hear of the MIND diet? The acronym MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet. The MIND diet is what happens when the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) have a baby. It is fairly new on the scene, originating in 2015, but for the past three years has tied for fifth place in the top diets according to U.S. News & World and a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center.
The two diets upon which it is based—the Mediterranean-style and DASH diets—tied for #1 or were ranked #1 and #2 in Best Diets Overall, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, Best Diabetes Diet, and Best Heart-Healthy Diet.
WHY THE MIND DIET?
By the time we have reached 60 years old, a typical man or woman has eaten around 66,000 meals and an untold (thankfully) number of snacks both healthy and indulgent. Not only that but a person has followed up to 150 diets. We are faced with a baffling number of food choices daily, and just when we should be experts at everything, someone changes the rules. What seniors want and need in a meal plan are foods that promote health, both physical and mental. The MIND diet does this through its nourishing menu of vegetables, berries, fish and olive oil.
OKAY BUT I WANT PROOF!
Behind the clever name -“MIND” - is a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and years of research that clearly show a whopping 53% decline in Alzheimer's disease among those who follow the MIND diet. It also shows a substantially slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors. The findings are significant because stroke survivors are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to the general population.
THEY ARE LEGIT!
When the U.S. News editors create the annual diet rankings, they spend months and months studying government reports, medical journals, reports and read personal testimony to determine effectiveness in 9 areas. They categorize how the diet works, discard unsubstantiated claims, and weight health risks before they rank.
NO NO I’M TOO OLD FOR DIETS!
The good news for us old dogs is that the MIND diet is also highly ranked for the easiest diet to follow, meaning there are no complicated parts to manage. Other highlights are that it is a heart-healthy diet and diabetes and weight-loss friendly.
The guidelines are simple, so you can create your own shopping list according to your taste by following these simple tips:
WHAT TO EAT ON THE MIND DIET
Eat the following Food Groups:
- Green leafy vegetables – 6 servings per week
- Other vegetables – At least 1 serving daily (the more the merrier)
- Nuts – 1 serving daily
- Berries – 2 or more (1/2 cup) servings per week
- Whole grains – 3 servings daily
- Beans – 3-4 servings per week
- Fish (not fried) – 1 or more servings per week
- Chicken or Turkey (not fried) – 2 servings or more per week
- Olive oil – Use as the primary oil in your diet
- Wine – 1 glass (5 ounces) per day
A note on the wine: Studies show a daily glass of wine is beneficial to the heart. The guideline is ONE glass per day. Any more than one glass can do more damage than good. If you avoid alcohol for any reason, the wine can be omitted.
WHAT NOT TO EAT (Seriously)
- Red meat – Eat less than four times per week
- Butter – 1 Tbsp or less per day if at all
- Cheese – Less than 1 serving per week
- Pastries and Sweets - Less than 4 times per week
- Fried or fast food – Less than 1 serving per week
Caring for the health of your mind and reducing your risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases is part of a whole-body approach to self-care that can significantly enhance your life. Proper diet, good sleep, exercise, and stress management combine to provide total health and happiness. It is never too late to start and never too early to start.
Tips for Following the MIND Diet:
- Prepare a shopping list from the above guidelines
- Prepare food ahead, such as on the weekends into portion-sized containers
- Prepare snack bags of portioned vegetables
- When eating out, fill up on a salad before your main dish, and have a side of vegetables.
- Consider splitting the main course with a dining partner.
- Make exercise a part of your daily diet
- Snack on nuts (remember - just a handful per day!)
- Stay hydrated
- Use olive oil as your main cooking oil
- Eat a green salad most days of the week, either with lunch or dinner
- Keep frozen blueberries and strawberries on hand. Their high-antioxidant volume and versatility make them a valuable addition to smoothies, oatmeal and for simple snacking.
- Try meatless meals. #Meatless Monday is quite popular around the web and can give you lots of tasty meal ideas.
- Choose whole-grain pasta, bread, and cereals.
- Make small changes gradually and begin by making simple substitutions, such as nuts for chips and greek yogurt with berries in place of ice cream.
How much does MIND diet cost?
The MIND diet is full of healthy fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Obviously, they will cost more than a basket of Twinkies, captain crunch and white bread, but the payoff in longevity and enjoyment of life is incredibly worth it. However, it can be done on a budget if one is careful. Here are some helpful tips to cut costs on the MIND diet for seniors:
- During the spring, summer, and fall, farmers markets are available in many towns. Take advantage of this time to eat fresh foods grown by local farmers for nearly 3 seasons.
- If you have the capacity to store foods, the fresh vegetables at farmers markets can be purchased cheaply and frozen or canned for use during the winter months.
- Watch for ads on Craigslist and FB marketplace for apples, honey, and eggs.
- Become familiar with your grocery store and show up when the chicken, turkey, and fish are usually marked down. This meat can also be frozen for future meals.
- Compare prices at COSTCO and other club stores to see if buying bulk meat and vegetables would be cost-effective for your situation. These things can also be divided and frozen.
- Batch cooking is always a good idea for cost efficiency and easy weekday meals
- Join a fresh food co-op in your town. They deliver a box of seasonal vegetables weekly to your home.
- Freeze leftovers
- Repeat meals - many people find success in controlling their food budget by eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch and nearly the same type of thing for dinner. This can also help with controlling your diet.
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