In a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that older adults may benefit from a specific diet called the MIND diet even when they develop these protein deposits, known as amyloid plaques and tangles.
They found that participants in the study who followed the MIND diet moderately later in life did not have cognition problems.
The study is from Rush University. One author is Klodian Dhana, MD, Ph.D.
Aging takes a toll on the body and on the mind. For example, the tissue of aging human brains sometimes develops abnormal clumps of proteins that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Plaques and tangles are a pathology found in the brain that builds up in between nerve cells and typically interferes with thinking and problem-solving skills.
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.
In this study, the researchers examined the associations of diet—from the start of the study until death—brain pathologies and cognitive functioning in older adults.
The participants were mostly white without known dementia, and all of them agreed to undergo annual clinical evaluations while alive and brain autopsy after their death.
The researchers followed 569 participants, who were asked to complete annual evaluations and cognitive tests to see if they had developed memory and thinking problems.
Beginning in 2004, participants were given an annual food frequency questionnaire about how often they ate 144 food items in the previous year.
To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day—along with a glass of wine—snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week.
A person also must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, limiting butter to less than 1 1/2 teaspoons a day and eating less than a serving a week of sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food.
The team found that a higher MIND diet score was associated with better memory and thinking skills independently of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and other common age-related brain pathologies.
The diet seemed to have a protective capacity and may contribute to cognitive resilience in the elderly. The team says diet changes can impact cognitive functioning and risk of dementia, for better or worse.
There are fairly simple diet and lifestyle changes a person could make that can help slow cognitive decline with aging and contribute to brain health.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about why type 2 diabetes is linked to higher risk of cancer and dementia and findings of if your memory feels like it’s not what it once was, it could mean future dementia.
For more information about dementia and your health, please see recent studies about hearing loss linked to to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and results showing new evidence that lowering blood pressure could help prevent dementia.
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