The Mediterranean lifestyle has always been associated with long life and good health but their diet is also a great way to keep your brain healthy. Getting older is still the biggest risk factor for dementia, but evidence shows that there are a few things you can do to reduce your personal risk. Keeping healthy is a great way to start and our diet is a major part of that.
The Mediterranean diet is really about getting back to eating healthy, well prepared food. So think fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and other seafood – anything you imagine being served under the scorching sun by the sea is probably on the list! The diet also includes eating low amounts of red meat and high sugar food as well as unsaturated fats such as olive oil. This way of eating is endorsed by the Institute of Aging who have recently released findings from a study which shows that eating leafy greens such as spinach and kale at least six times a week has been linked to slower cognitive decline as people age.
A variation of the Mediterranean diet, called MIND (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) incorporates the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure, also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet mainly focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention and encourages six servings a week of leafy green vegetables, which is what we should all be aiming for. The MIND diet also limits servings of red meat, sweets, cheese, butter/margarine and fast/fried food so as well as keeping your brain protected, it can also help keep your heart healthy, reduce your waist line and increase stamina – a win all round!
As changes in your brain can occur years before the first symptoms of dementia appear, getting in early by changing your diet today could offer a great opportunity to prevent or delay dementia symptoms in later life. If you can’t jet off to sample the Mediterranean diet under the Tuscan sun any time soon, then why not try out these books to help you get started and give you some much needed inspiration: