A Healthy Diet for People with Alzheimer’s

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

As people age, some of us begin to search out healthy ways of eating or develop exercise routines that we hope can help us slow down the early signs of aging. That’s probably why so many people adopt healthy lifestyle choices like eating salads brimming with spinach and other dark, leafy greens. Or treating ourselves to handfuls of blueberries and at least a couple servings of fish each week. Some research has shown that certain kinds of diets might make an impact when it comes to slowing down age-related cognitive decline or even Alzheimer’s.
Two types of diets that get a lot of attention when it comes to being healthy for our brain and the rest of our body are the Mediterranean diet and the closely-related MIND diet. Here’s what they look like:
Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is loosely based off eating patterns in that region of the world. It’s heavy on vegetables, whole grains, fruits, fish, seafood, olive oil and other unsaturated fats. It minimizes foods like red meat, sweets and eggs.
MIND diet. The MIND diet (Mediterranean - DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) blends together the characteristics of the Mediterranean diet with the DASH diet, which has been successful in lowering high blood pressure. Because high blood pressure is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s, the MIND diet is also seen as a way that may help slow cognitive decline.
More research is needed on the effects of diet when it comes to helping us keep our minds sharp as we age, but observational studies shared by the National Institute on Aging show a healthy diet can play a role in this. Health experts have said while there is no evidence that specific foods can absolutely stop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, an overall pattern of healthy eating based on these diets is believed to slow the early signs of cognitive decline. The benefits may come from the amount of antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties of these foods. Or the benefits may be indirect, perhaps lessening the chance for someone to develop diabetes or heart disease, which can be underlying factors for developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
What’s on your plate with the MIND diet. Let’s take a closer look at the plant-based MIND diet, and what this means in terms of different food groups and the number of suggested servings each week:
  • Whole grains: 3 servings a day
  • Leafy green vegetables: 6 servings a week
  • Other vegetables: 1 serving a day
  • Berries: 2 servings a week
  • Fish: At least 1 serving a week
  • Beans: 3 servings a week
  • Poultry: 2 servings a week
  • Nuts: 5 servings a week
  • Wine: Limit to 1 glass a day if you already drink alcohol
  • Olive oil: Use instead of butter, margarine or other oils
  • Foods you should limit: Red meat, sweets, cheese, fried foods and any fast foods
Adding fish to your diet. An article shared by Harvard Medical School zeroed in on a study that showed fish was the prime dietary factor identified by researchers as lessening the risk for cognitive impairment as we age. Vegetables were good, too, but fish topped the list. If you are not sure what kind of fish or other seafood you should be eating, you can check the FDA guidelines here, or use this list from Harvard:
  • Black sea bass
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Lobster
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Clams
  • Crawfish
  • Canned light tuna
  • Trout
  • Tilapia
Photo credit: Getty Images

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