You At Your Best

December 2022 • Senior Health

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SponSor content Years before the first symptoms of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's appear, changes are slowly taking place in the brain. "Alzheimer's disease is actually a midlife disease with later-life consequences," says Stephen Gemmell, Ph.D., director of Washington Regional's Memory Disorders Clinic. Medical research suggests that lifestyle choices during those years — such as diet — may help delay or prevent cognitive decline. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet was designed to do just that, says Gemmell. "Researchers set out specifically to create a dietary pattern that focuses on brain health," Gemmell says. "Having scientific evidence that particular dietary patterns can potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease is a significant development for people of all ages." The MIND diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods while limiting red meat, saturated fat and sugar- laden treats, is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which have helped many Americans lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. What foods are recommended on the MIND diet? • At least three servings of whole grains each day • At least one dark-green salad and one other vegetable each day • Berries at least twice a week • At least a one-ounce serving of nuts each day • Beans or legumes at least every other day • Poultry at least twice a week • Fish at least once a week • A five-ounce glass of red wine each day (purple grape juice provides many of the same benefits) "For most people, these foods can be found at their local supermarket and fit in with most meal plans," Gemmell says. "For instance, a breakfast of oatmeal with a handful of berries would be a good example of a MIND diet choice. Chicken and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice would be a suitable lunch or dinner." There's even room for snacks, he points out, such as nuts, carrots with hummus, peanut butter and banana. However, the MIND diet limits cheese, fried food and fast food to no more than once a week, pastries and sweets to less than five times a week. Olive oil is recommended in place of butter or margarine. People who have allergies or sensitivity to some MIND diet foods should still try to fit in as many of its other recommended foods as possible. "Research shows that following the diet even to a moderate degree can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease," Gemmell says. In fact, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston were able to show that the MIND diet lowered participants' risk of Alzheimer's disease by as much as 53%. The study's scientists think the MIND diet works by reducing inflammation in the body and reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when large amounts of unstable molecules called free radicals accumulate in the body, causing damage to cells. The brain is particularly vulnerable to this process. Plus, MIND diet foods contain nutrients that are believed to prevent Alzheimer's-linked plaque formation in the brain. The health of your brain depends on several factors, of course, but why not make changes today that may help you prevent or delay cognitive decline and Alzheimer's? It's never too early to give your brain the boost it needs to stay healthy, longer. To learn more about the Washington Regional Memory Disorders Clinic or for more information about Alzheimer's prevention and the MIND diet, visit MinD diet designed for brain health SunDaY, november 27, 2022 | December - Senior HealtH | You at Your beSt | 3

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