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Follow This Simple Diet to Improve Your Brain Health

05/05/2015 08:59 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT
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Freshly harvested vegetable and food in a vintage basket

You learn something new every day in the world of food and health. I recently was a participant speaker for The Women's Brain Health Initiative on food and its impact our brain health.

For years studies have shown that what we eat on a daily basis affects our body health, but now a new study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has evidence that the MIND diet, (short for Mediterranean Intervention Neurodegenerative Delay), can not only improve our cognitive functioning, but delay or even prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's. For those that followed the diet religiously there was a 53 per cent reduction in the disease! For those that followed it somewhat regularly, there was one-third reduction.

The MIND diet combines elements of the well known Mediterranean and DASH diet, which lowers blood pressure levels, but the MIND diet has better results in lowering brain deterioration and is easier to follow.

Those that have followed this diet for years have the greatest protection from the disease. Starting prevention as early as possible is key in fighting disease.

There are 10 healthy food groups to include and five unhealthy food groups to avoid when it comes to improving our brain health.

10 Brain Healthy Foods:

Whole Grains

- Three servings daily (1/2 cup whole grain pasta is one serving)

-Provides better blood flow to body and brain

Green Leafy Vegetables

- One serving daily (1/2 cup is one serving)

-Two servings daily of leafy vegetables can take 11 years off our brain age

Vegetables

-One serving daily (1/2 cup is one serving)

-Nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene helps to keep the brain healthy

Berries

-One serving twice weekly (1/2 cup is one serving)

-Contains the antioxidant anthocyanidin which fights inflammation and oxidation

Nuts

- One serving daily (1/4 cup is one serving)

-The Omega 3 Fatty Acids prevent plaque build-up in the brain

Legumes

-One serving every other day (1/2 cup is one serving)

Fish

-One serving weekly (3 oz is one serving)

-Fish, such as salmon, prevent inflammation that causes plaque buildup in the brain

Poultry

-Two servings per week (3 oz is one serving)

Olive Oil

- One to twoTbsp daily

-Enzymes and proteins reduce plaque in brain

Red Wine or Grape Juice

-5 oz glass daily

Five Food Groups to Avoid or Limit

Red Meat

-Keep to one serving weekly (3 oz is one serving)

Butter and Stick Margarine

-Less than one Tbsp daily

Cheese

-Keep to one serving per week ( 1 ½ oz is one serving)

Pastries and Sweets

-Limit to one serving per week

Fried or Fast Food

-No more than one serving per week

While the MIND diet is focused on preventing or delaying the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's, improved cognitive function and weight control are also a benefit. The key is to start your family eating in this manner as early as possible, since brain deterioration starts many decades before symptoms occur. This simple diet is a great aid in disease prevention.

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Nutrients For The Aging Brain