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Foods to eat and those to avoid to combat dementia

Oct 2, 2019 | 2 min read
The brain diet 'slows mental decline'

The MIND diet was developed specifically to help the brain work better as well as reduce the likelihood of developing dementia. It is in fact, a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, designed to lower blood pressure.

Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet have been previously shown to slow cognitive decline but the latest study into the efficacy of the MIND diet aimed to identify exactly which elements were most important.

An earlier study of the MIND diet found participants who stuck very closely to the diet were a staggering 52% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The MIND diet dictates the consumption of 'brain healthy' foods, particularly berries such as blueberries and green leafy vegetables like spinach. The MIND diet differs from the Mediterranean and DASH diets in that it doesn't advocate lots of fruit, diary or potatoes or eating more than one fish meal a week.

Foods to include:

  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • other vegetables, such as red peppers, squash, carrots and broccoli
  • nuts
  • berries, including blueberries and strawberries
  • beans, lentils and soybeans
  • wholegrains
  • seafood
  • poultry
  • olive oil
  • wine (in moderation)

Foods to avoid:

  • red meats
  • butter and stick margarine
  • cheese
  • pastries and sweets
  • fried or fast food

The US based observational study carried out by researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Alzheimer's and Dementia.

It looked at 960 participants with an average age of over 80. They did not have dementia and completed food questionnaires and brain function tests on a yearly basis over a period of 5 years.

The results showed that those that adhered closely to the MIND diets had brain about 8 years younger than those that did not.

Dr Clare Walton, of the Alzheimer's Society, told the Mail Online:

"Previous research suggests that the MIND diet can reduce the risk of developing dementia, and now we see it could also slow down the cognitive decline normally seen with age."

"It's important that people realise there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of dementia, in addition to a healthy balanced diet, including being physically and mentally active and not smoking."

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