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Alzheimer’s and Diet

June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s Disease is incredibly prevalent in the US, with nearly 7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. It is the 5th leading cause of death among people aged 65 and older. It is also one of the most costly in terms of care, at an estimated $360 billion in 2024. Caring with a loved one with this degenerative disease is also reported to be one of the most stressful, with over 11 million Americans providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. (xSo what can we do?

Many research studies have shown a positive link between healthy dietary patterns and the delay or avoidance of degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Let’s break down a few of the most studied dietary strategies to improve brain health and delay degenerative disease.

The MIND Diet

Short for Mediterranean-DASH intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, this is a diet hybrid of the traditional Mediterranean and DASH Diets. Let’s break both of those diets down.

Mediterranean – a very popular and well-researched dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and other seafood, and unsaturated fats. It also limits red meat, eggs, sweets, and more ‘processed’ food items.
DASH Diet – short for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” this popular eating pattern focuses on low-sodium, low-saturated fat, and low-added sugars. It was designed to improve cardiac health.

The MIND Diet aims to combine these two powerful eating strategies to maximize health potential. It emphasizes veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, and olive oil. It also details limits for servings of red meat, sweets, cheese, butter and margarine, and fast or fried foods.

Some research studies have shown that the MIND diet is associated with a lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s when compared to the traditional “Western-style” diet. The Western-Style diet is typically much higher in red meats, saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars. (x) Focusing on more plant-based eating, and being mindful with the ‘extras’ you consume, could benefit you in the long run when it comes to your brain health!

Other Dietary Strategies

Outside of the MIND Diet, there are a few other bullet points to take home when it comes to eating for healthy aging. Focus on foods, drinks, herbs, and supplements that are rich in antioxidants has also been shown to promote healthy aging over time. 
Here are some foods, herbs, and drinks that are loaded with antioxidants!

  • Berries
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Leafy-green vegetables
  • Olive oil
  • Turmeric
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Marjoram
  • Green tea
  • Some low-sugar juices (tart cherry, pomegranate, tomato)

More research is needed to make definitive recommendations with supplements, however, there is promise that vitamins B and E, in addition to the herbal supplement gingko biloba, may be helpful for the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are very common in the US. However, we can do our best with dietary strategies to lower our risk of developing such diseases. If you have other questions about healthy aging or other chronic conditions, reach out to one of our nutrition experts today.

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