Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in June is designed to bring awareness to the disease and other dementias that affect millions of people around the world. In 2020, about 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s. By 2060, that number is expected to triple to 14 million.
Dementia is broad term for medical conditions – including Alzheimer’s disease – that cause loss of memory or thinking abilities and impair daily life. Alzheimer’s makes up about 60-80% of dementia cases.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that causes changes in the brain which affect thinking, memory, and behavior. It can range from mild memory loss to the inability to respond to the environment and complete simple tasks.
It’s not clear what causes Alzheimer’s, but researchers believe it’s a combination of factors including aging, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Lots of research on the disease is underway, but right now there isn’t a cure for it.
However, research does indicate that what you eat can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that a hybrid of two diets can slow cognitive decline. The first is the Mediterranean Diet, inspired by the healthy foods eaten by people living near the Mediterranean Sea. The second is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, first designed to help people manage high blood pressure. Together they make up the Mediterranean DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND diet. The MIND diet supports brain health by emphasizing vegetables, nuts, olive oil, fish, legumes, and reduced amounts of red meat.
Ready to give your brain a boost? Start by eating more of these key foods in the MIND diet:
Leafy greens – Packed with nutrients including folate, vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids, spinach, kale, lettuce, and other greens are some of the best foods for your brain.
Nuts – Dry-roasted or raw nuts have lots of vitamin E which has brain-protective qualities. Skip the packaged nuts which can be full of salt or sugary coatings.
Fish – Enjoying fish including salmon, trout, and sardines at least once a week gives you a protein-rich boost of omega-3 fatty acids and key vitamins.
Olive oil – Skip the butter and cook with olive oil which is better for your brain and your heart.
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