OKLAHOMA CITY - You've probably heard the saying, 'You are what you eat,' but now science shows that your diet can play a big role in the health of your brain.
Research has found that the MIND diet can have a profound impact on your brain health as your age and can even lower your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.
The MIND diet stands for "Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay."
It was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center after a study by the National Institute on Aging.
The study followed the diets of 1,000 elderly adults for almost five years.
It found that participants whose diets closely followed the MIND recommendations had brains that functioned as if they were 7.5 years younger. It also lowered their risk of Alzheimer's by nearly 53 percent.
Even those who didn't stick to the diet perfectly reduced their risk by 35 percent.
The MIND Menu
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components. The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups, and limiting foods from five unhealthy groups. Here’s a rundown of the healthy foods you should work into your diet:
- Green leafy vegetables (like spinach and salad greens): Eat at least one serving per day.
- Other vegetables: At least one other vegetable a day.
- Whole grains: Three or more servings a day.
- Nuts: Five one-ounce servings a week.
- Beans: At least three servings a week.
- Berries: Two or more servings a week.
- Fish: Once a week.
- Poultry (not fried): Two times a week.
- Olive oil: Use it as your primary cooking oil.
- Wine: One glass a day.
And the five unhealthy food groups you should limit include:
- Red meat: Eat fewer than four servings a week.
- Butter and margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily.
- Cheese: Less than one serving a week.
- Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week.
- Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week.
Experts say it is easier to follow than most diets and you don't have to stick to it perfectly to see the benefits.
To prevent Alzheimer's, experts also suggest getting regular exercise, quit smoking and lower your level of stress.