It’s important to understand how to prevent dementia with diet and exercise long before the senior years are even reached. Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to lessen the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s and it’s not all that difficult to do. Many people reach their senior years there is a nagging fear of falling victim to Alzheimer’s and resulting dementia.
Perhaps they have friends or relatives that have suffered from the disease and it’s frightening to think that it might happen to them as well.
It’s amazing how much of an impact nutrition has on overall health. A poor diet can be the cause of a host of diseases including heart issues, diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few.
Something as simple as eating healthy food and embracing fitness as a way of life can make all the difference in the world to our health as we age.
Here is an excellent book on preventing cognitive decline called The End of Alzheimer’s.
THE MIND DIET
It has been common knowledge for years that eating certain food can go a long way toward preventing Alzheimer’s Disease.
As a matter of fact, at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, it was determined that by eating(and avoiding)certain foods the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s could be reduced by as much as 53%.
Other factors such as genetics, smoking, exercise, and education also play a part in determining who is most likely to avoid or contract Alzheimer’s.
Even without including these other factors, just the MIND diet alone is capable of slowing the rate of cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s.
The MIND diet consists of 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five “unhealthy food groups” to avoid. It’s no surprise that elements of the Mediterranean Diet are part of the healthy food groups. Especially considering the people living in the five Blue Zones of the world, where people routinely live over 100 years, enjoy many of the foods on the Mediterranean Diet.
PREFERRED FOODS ON THE MIND DIET
Leafy Greens: This food choice should come as no surprise. For years people have known that eating foods like kale, spinach, broccoli, collard greens, and a host of other greens are excellent choices. They are all packed with Vitamins A and C.
Other Vegetables: Most vegetables are excellent for brain health. Eating a salad every day and at least one other vegetable is an excellent way to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Nuts: For years we have known about the health benefits of nuts for their high-quality fat and protein. They also come with plenty of antioxidants and fiber. These would fall into the snack category and if possible should be eaten four or five times a week. They will lower bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Berries: Blueberries have often been called a “Superfood.” They are very potent when it comes to protecting the brain. Strawberries are also beneficial. Berries should also be eaten four or five times a week.
Beans: Beans are more than just an excellent source of protein for those who choose not to eat meat. They are also high in fiber and low in calories and fat and will help keep the mind sharp.
Whole Grains: It’s good to see that grains are not vilified on the MIND diet, but rather are an important aspect of daily nutrition. There are those who claim that carbohydrates are evil, but obviously, it’s not true. Three servings a day are recommended on the Mind Diet. (Break out the whole grain bread and peanut butter).
Fish: Fish is an intricate addition of the Mediterranean Diet as well as the MIND diet. The biggest difference is that on the Med Diet, fish is eaten almost every day. Eating fish once a week is the recommendation on the Mind Diet.
Poultry: At least two servings a week of poultry are recommended. Personally, I like to cook a turkey every three months or so and portion out the meat and freeze for use in sandwiches, salads or stir fry.
Olive Oil: A powerful member of the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is the best oil by far for cooking and salads. Everyone should make this excellent source of quality fat their primary source of oil. Some Asian countries use coconut oil as it is also a very healthy choice for quality fat.
Red Wine: Time to celebrate as red wine, also another staple of the Mediterranean Diet is highly regarded as a brain-healthy food. One glass a day with dinner is the recommendation.
FOODS TO AVOID
Red Meat: I had a feeling that this would be on the top of the list. However, it isn’t banned on the MIND diet. Rather, it’s important to limit consumption to no more than four servings a week. That seems to be very generous. So if you follow the script, you would eat fish one day, poultry two days, and beef for four days.
Butter and Margarine: Overdoing it with these two is a no-no. One tablespoon a day is allowed on the MIND diet. If a recipe calls for butter or margarine, use olive oil as a substitution.
Cheese: Although many people find cheese to be delicious, it should be limited to once a week.
Pastries and Sweets: Well, this is a no-brainer. We all know they are no good for our body weight, but they also have a negative impact on brain health as well. Just the same, the MIND diet is recommending a limit of no more than five treats a week. That also seems generous.
Fried and Fast Food: Try to limit fried or fast food to once a week. Consuming these does your brain health no favors.
There is no diet in the world that is not enhanced with regular exercise. Most people know this, but seem to have a hard time motivating themselves.
No matter what age a person it, regular exercise should be part of their weekly routine. It keeps our bodies healthy and vibrant.
Exercise is excellent for balance, lowering cholesterol, heart health, body weight, and preventing diabetes, Alzheimer’s and a host of other diseases.
I have written a book called Seniors On the Move that talks extensively about the importance of exercise and diet when it comes to the quality of life and longevity.
If you have already been eating much like this for years, you are way ahead of the game.
Still, it’s never too late to change your eating habits. Even people who partially stick to the Mind diet(or the Mediterranean Diet) will greatly reduce their chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s and the Dementia that comes with it.
Maybe it’s time to look in your cupboards and fridge to see how close you are to following the Mind diet.
I hope this post has helped you understand more about the foods we eat and how to prevent dementia with diet and exercise.
If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic feel free to make a comment at the bottom of this page.