Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that evolves from mild confusion to personality changes. Moreover, it can ultimately affect your ability to communicate and move. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. In 2017, around 50 million people were living with dementia. Alzheimer's disease is predicted to double every 20 years. By 2050, the afflicted population worldwide will reach about 132 million.
Changes in the brain can often occur years before any of the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease appear. These early brain changes might be able to provide a window of opportunity to delay or prevent dementia symptoms. Many scientists have been looking at possible ways to do this, including daily lifestyle changes. Unlike some risk factors for Alzheimer's that can’t be changed, such as age and genetics, we can control lifestyle choices such as cognitive training, exercise, and diet.
Can your daily meal servings help prevent dementia caused by Alzheimer's? Research has found that our diet affects our brain's ability to think.
A diet that has shown promising results is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and other seafood—a new variation of this is called the MIND (Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet. The MIND diet has been found to lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
While scientists aren't sure why the Mediterranean diet might help the brain, its proven effect on improving cardiovascular health can perhaps, in turn, reduce dementia risk. Also, the Mediterranean diet might increase specific nutrients that may protect the brain through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The MIND diet is based on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention from 10 food groups:
The MIND diet limits servings of cheese, red meat, butter/margarine, sweets, and fried food.
*Be mindful, how the body handles alcohol changes with age. Learn more about alcohol and older adults.
Eating fish is the most significant factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. To reduce your risk of cognitive impairment and decline, eat a Mediterranean-style diet with fish several times throughout the week.
There are many varieties of fish to choose from, including salmon, tilapia, sardines, scallops, shrimp, catfish, lobster, flounder, haddock, trout, black sea bass, crab, cod, crawfish, squid, clams, and canned tuna. Also, the FDA has a helpful guide to help you know the best fish to eat.
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