We spend so much time worrying about how the food we eat will affect our bodies, but we often overlook the effect it has on our minds.
You might not even realize that your dinner can have a big impact on your brain and its health. We've all heard of "brain food," but not many of us could point it out in the grocery store.
Luckily, scientists have actually identified the foods that help your brain stay in shape, and there's an entire diet built around preventing mind diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's.
The MIND diet is actually a combination of two other diets, the Mediterranean diet - which features foods common to the region, like red wine, fish and olives - and the heart-healthy DASH diet, which we've discussed before.
First introduced in 2015, the MIND diet already has lots of evidence to back it up. In a study of nearly 1,000 seniors, those who followed the diet had their risk of Alzheimer's cut by 53%.
The key to the diet's success is it protects your brain from oxidation, the damage that eventually adds up to a serious condition.
Liz Applegate, a nutritionist from UC Davis, explains in an interview that oxidation is "like a fire getting started."
"These (good) foods act like little tiny fire extinguishers," she says, "that help put out those fires that otherwise would cause damage leading to loss of brain function.”
The MIND diet recommends eating lean meat, as well as vegetables and berries (which are full of antioxidants). Meanwhile, you should avoid red meat and fried food, which can cause oxidation.
Applegate says the causes of Alzheimer's disease are so similar to diabetes that it's sometimes called "Type 3" diabetes. That means that it's also helpful to cut sugar out of your diet, maybe by replacing it with fruit.
“Pick one thing to work on," she recommends. "I’m going to eat berries twice a week. Make a berry smoothie on Tuesday and Friday or put berries on your oatmeal. Just chip away at eating more healthfully.”
But don't feel too deprived! You can eat as much fish as you want, because it helps grow the part of your brain associated with memory. And don't cut out the red wine either. A glass each day can help delay the symptoms of dementia for years.
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