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Could a Diet Help Shield You From Alzheimer’s?

Could a Diet Help Shield You From Alzheimer’s?

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter


FRIDAY, March 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Scientists say they’ve developed an anti-Alzheimer’s diet.

While it couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, the new study found that adults who rigorously followed the so-called MIND diet faced a 53 percent lower risk for Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia. Those sticking to the diet just “moderately well” saw their Alzheimer’s risk drop by roughly 35 percent.

“Often, people who eat healthier also participate in other healthy lifestyle behavior, but the MIND diet afforded protection [against Alzheimer’s] whether or not other healthy behaviors or health conditions were present,” said study author Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Rush University Medical Center and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.

The eating plan emphasizes healthy grains, vegetables, beans, poultry and fish while also allowing for a limited amount of less healthy red meat, butter and sweets.

The MIND diet combines aspects of the better-known Mediterranean diet with certain features of the so-called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, both of which call for high consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fish.

But while the MIND diet stresses the importance of plant-based foods, green leafy vegetables and blueberries, it does not push much consumption of fruit, fish, dairy or potatoes.

One expert said he was intrigued by the findings.

“The protective impact they found is significant and substantial enough to make you do a little bit of a double-take,” said Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, director of the Alzheimer’s care, research and education program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York.

“With a diet like this it seems that it’s never too late to start,” Porsteinsson said. “And that’s a very important message.”

Among the non-dietary factors Morris and colleagues accounted for were smoking history, exercise habits, educational background, mentally challenging activities (such as reading or doing crossword puzzles) and a history of obesity, depression, diabetes or heart disease.

The study results — published in the March issue of Alzheimer’s Dementia — suggest that the longer one follows the MIND diet, the greater the protection against Alzheimer’s disease, Morris said.

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