chuckled over a bumper sticker that read, "Of all the
things Iíve lost, I miss my mind the most." Later on,
it was not so funny when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimerís
disease, a disorder that destroys cognitive functions of the
factors influence who will eventually develop this devastating
disease, say researchers. One of them may be our diet,
according to a recent study called the Mediterranean-DASH
Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND. As the name
suggests, this research found that an eating style based on
the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop
Hypertension) diets ó known for their ability to reduce
blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke ó could also lower
the risk for developing Alzheimerís Disease.
to the name, however, this was not a true intervention trial.
Rather, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in
Chicago looked at what seniors were already eating and scored
them according to a list of "brain healthy" food
groups. People who reported eating more of these foods and
fewer unhealthy ones were less likely to develop Alzheimerís
disease, they found.
healthy foods identified in the MIND study include vegetables
(green leafy veggies in particular), nuts, berries, beans,
whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. Unhealthy
foods were excess amounts of fried foods, red meat, butter,
cheese, sweets and pastries.
that berries were the only fruit specifically named on their
brain healthy list. "Blueberries are one of the more
potent foods in terms of protecting the brain," states
Martha Morris, Ph.D., a researcher who helped develop the MIND
diet. Strawberries are also rich in compounds that can help
protect brain function.
might this eating pattern look like? Each day includes at
least 3 servings of a whole grain food, a mixed green salad,
another vegetable and a glass of wine. Fish, chicken or turkey
are eaten a few times a week; beef and pork less often. Beans
are on the menu every other day or so. Nuts and berries are
frequent snacks. Cheese, fried and fast foods are eaten no
more than once a week. Butter is limited to less than a
tablespoon a day. Pastries and sweets are reserved for special
more studies are in order, these scientists recognize that we
tend to be healthier the longer we practice health-related
habits. Itís what we eat consistently over time that
probably gives us the best protection, they conclude. Iíll
try to remember that.