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Some lifestyle factors can reduce your chances of developing dementia, from physical activity to brain-stimulating exercises to the foods you incorporate into your diet.
“[Some] Several studies have shown that diets are associated with a lower risk of dementia, a lower risk of brain disease, and longer lifespan, according to Dr. Hussein Yassin, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Keck School of Medicine at UCLA. University of Southern California.
These meal plans are mostly plant-based and include healthy oils, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats like fatty fish, Yassin tells CNBC Make It. They also do not rely on and usually do not include processed foods.
This may sound very similar to popular diets like the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which is what researchers also think.
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The MIND Diet is a Mediterranean-DASH diet intervention to delay neurodegeneration, which was formulated in a 2015 study led by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Claire Morris.
Researchers discovered that people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet had better levels of cognitive performance than people who did not follow those diets. The study also found that eating whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and berries was also linked to improved brain health, according to the New York Times.
“Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet have actually been linked to the preservation of cognitive function, through their protective effects against cardiovascular disease, which in turn maintains brain health,” according to The Nutrition Source, Center for the College of Public Health. Harvard T.H. Chan University. For nutrition information.
These are the foods included in the MIND Diet, as mentioned in the Nutrition Source:
- Whole grains
- Vegetables, especially green and leafy ones
- olive oil
The MIND Diet also encourages you to limit your consumption of these foods:
- Pastries and sweets
- Red meat
- Fried foods
The MIND Diet has received some skepticism about its effectiveness in preventing dementia after the first clinical trial was published in August in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Over the course of three years, more than 600 people aged 65 and over were divided into two groups: one group followed the MIND diet and the other group followed their natural diet. In addition, all participants were trained to reduce calories to lose weight.
At the conclusion of the study, there were no significant changes in the cognition levels of those who followed the MIND diet compared to those who did not follow it.
But Yassin believes there is more nuance to this finding, and that the conclusion should not be that the MIND diet is ineffective.
“If you take someone who doesn’t eat a nutritious diet, and then they don’t exercise a lot, they also don’t sleep well [and] “They have risk factors for dementia, and those risk factors tend to cluster,” Yassin says.
“And then if you change just one [lifestyle factor], which in this case is the MIND diet, is likely to be less effective. “It’s not that it’s ineffective.”
In order to reap the benefits the MIND Diet can offer to prevent dementia, “we have to be more holistic,” he adds.
Besides following a healthy diet, to reduce your risk of dementia, Yassin also recommends the following:
- Practice physical activity and exercise
- Get enough good quality Sleeps
- Drink less alcohol
- Stay socially active
- Control chronic medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes by staying healthy
- Always engage in some form of education, especially learning new skills
“We realize that there is an interplay between a healthy diet [and] “A healthy lifestyle, and we have to look at the big picture.”
“Food and nutrition are very important but in the context of lifestyle and not in isolation.”
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