If you’re concerned with preserving your brain health, you might have tried doing puzzles or even learning a new skill. But what you may not know is that the foods you eat are also key when it comes to staving off forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease.
Most people understand that food is fuel for our bodies and that the types of foods we eat can transform us into fat burning machines, help our skin look better, and even prevent disease. But now, a new study has revealed that eating a certain way can also reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Keep reading to discover which foods you should be incorporating into your diet to avoid Alzheimer’s. And for more on how to detect cognitive decline, This Could Be One of the First Signs You Have Dementia, Experts Say.
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that puts the focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic—and it’s become a popular approach to healthy eating in recent years in the U.S. Now, there’s proof it does more than just your body good. A new study from the American Academy of Neurology, published in the journal Neurology on May 5, showed that a Mediterranean diet can also improve your cognitive health.
After comparing 343 people with a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s to 169 people who weren’t predisposed to the disease, the findings showed that a Mediterranean-like diet is a “protective factor against memory decline.”
And for more things to pay attention to, check out Doing This One Thing Twice a Day Lowers Your Dementia Risk, Study Says.
For people with Alzheimer’s, two proteins, amyloid and tau, build up in the brain, getting clumped and tangled together to form plaques that disrupt brain cell function, the National Institute of Aging explains. This new research indicates that a Mediterranean diet—which tends to consist of extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish, and herbs—can intrude upon the accumulation of amyloid and tau in the brain. Study participants who followed a more strict Mediterranean diet were found to have a decrease in amyloid and tau buildup than those who didn’t stick to the diet.
“Our study suggests that eating a diet that’s high in unsaturated fats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and low in dairy and red meat may actually protect your brain from the protein build-up that can lead to memory loss and dementia,” study author Tommaso Ballarini, PhD, of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), said in a statement. “These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on.”
Ballarini added that though more research is needed, these “findings suggest that people may reduce their risk for developing Alzheimer’s by incorporating more elements of the Mediterranean diet into their daily diets.”
And for more signs of the disease from a celebrity battling it, Tony Bennett’s Wife Reveals the First Sign He Had Alzheimer’s.
Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who was not involved in the study, discussed its findings with CNN. “For every point of higher compliance with the diet, people had one extra year less of brain aging. That is striking,” he said. “Most people are unaware that it’s possible to take control of your brain health, yet this study shows us just that.”
Isaacson said the new study shows that “it’s possible to not only improve cognitive function—most specifically memory—but also reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease pathology” via changing your diet. “The mountain of evidence continues to build that you are what you eat when it comes to brain health,” he said.
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Sue Ryskamp, RD, of the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center, told Michigan Health that the Mediterranean way of eating is not a diet, but instead a “meal style.” “It’s based on the traditional eating habits of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, where studies have shown these populations tend to live longer, healthier lives,” Ryskamp explained. “This can be seen especially in comparison to the Standard American Diet, becoming increasingly known as ‘SAD,’ which consists of a high intake of red meat, grains, dairy products, processed, pre-packaged and fried foods.”
According to a 2013 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the Mediterranean diet was found to “reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, and deaths from heart disease” by 30 percent, when compared to a low-fat diet, Harvard Health explains.
The Mediterranean diet also been found to reduce depression as well as the risk of colorectal and breast cancer and of type 2 diabetes.
And for more small changes that can have major health effects, Eating This One Thing Can Cut Your Cancer Risk in Half, New Study Says.