How to ward off dementia: The diet which offers 'a 53% reduced rate of Alzheimer’s'

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How to ward off dementia: The diet which offers 'a 53% reduced rate of Alzheimer’s'

The NHS suggests experts agree that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain, meaning that you can help reduce your risk of dementia

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The NHS suggests experts agree that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain, meaning that you can help reduce your risk of dementia by keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level. The NHS Health Check can help find early signs and tell you if you’re at higher risk of certain health problems that can also increase your risk of dementia.

The Mayo Clinic says: “There’s good evidence that what you eat can make a difference in your risk of cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.”

It explains: “Born as a hybrid of two existing eating styles with decades of research at their backs — the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet — university researchers developed the MIND diet to emphasise foods that impact brain health.”

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

One analysis of diet and other factors found that after an average of 4.5 years, people who adhered most closely to the MIND diet had a 53% reduced rate of Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who did not follow the diet closely.

READ MORE: Dementia: The smelly warning sign that may ‘precede’ memory loss by almost 10 years

The study, published on PubMed.gov, looked at 923 participants, ages 58 to 98 years, followed on average 4.5 years. Diet was assessed by a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire.

Indeed, the National Institute on Ageing says: “Evidence supporting the MIND diet comes from observational studies of more than 900 dementia-free older adults, which found that closely following the MIND diet was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline.”

It adds: “Overall, the evidence suggests, but does not prove, that following a Mediterranean or similar diet might help reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s dementia or slow cognitive decline.”

The Mayo Clinic says: “Unique to the MIND diet, researchers found that green leafy ones like kale, collards, spinach or lettuce were specifically shown to lower the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.”

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It also recommends two or more berry servings a week for peak brain health and a handful at least five times a week instead of processed snacks like chips or pastries.

The organisation says: “Another Mediterranean diet staple that has a home in the MIND diet is olive oil. Researchers recommend using it as your primary cooking oil, and avoiding butter and margarine.”

The MIND diet also emphasises embracing meat-free meals, and having fish once a week.

The NHS says: “Being overweight or obese can increase your blood pressure and the risk of type 2 diabetes, both of which are linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia”.

The Alzheimer’s Society (AS) says that although getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia, evidence shows there are things you can do to help reduce your own risk.

These include keeping active, eating healthily, drinking less alcohol and not smoking. The AS also adds that “keeping your mind active” is likely to reduce your risk of dementia.

“Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease. One way to think about it is ‘Use it or lose it’,” the charity explains.

The AS notes that mid-life – from your 40s into your early 60s – is a good time to start taking steps to reduce your risk of developing dementia, though it is helpful to take steps at any age.

Indeed, the NHS says that there is good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing dementia.

Some dementia risk factors are impossible to change, such as age and genetics, however studies suggest other risk factors may also be important, and may be possible to change.

The National Institute on Ageing says: “These early brain changes suggest a possible window of opportunity to prevent or delay dementia symptoms.

“Scientists are looking at many possible ways to do this, including drugs, lifestyle changes and combinations of these interventions.”



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