Purdue Extension Advises Dietary Habits to Enhance Cognition and Prevent Dementia


Can eating a specific food or following a particular diet help prevent or delay dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease? Many studies suggest that what we eat affects the aging brain’s ability to think and remember. These findings have led to research on general eating patterns and whether they might make a difference.

Current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating may also help protect the brain. Heart-healthy eating includes limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. No one diet is best. Two diets that have been studied and may be beneficial are the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits and fat-free or low-fat dairy products; includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils; and limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.

One diet that shows some promising evidence is the Mediterranean diet. A variation called MIND (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) incorporates the DASH diet, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention. It encourages eating from 10 healthy food groups and limits foods from 5 unhealthy food groups, this includes: leafy green vegetables-at least 6 servings/week, other vegetables-at least 1 serving/day, berries-at least 2 servings/week, whole grains-at least 3 servings/day, fish-1 serving/week, poultry-2 servings/week, beans-3 servings/week, nuts-5 servings/week, wine-1 glass/day* (be careful about how much alcohol you drink, how the body handles alcohol can change with age), olive oil, and limited servings of red meat, sweets, cheese, butter/margarine, fast/fried food.

Some, but not all, studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk for dementia. These studies compared cognitively normal people who ate a Mediterranean diet with those who ate a Western-style diet, which contains more red meat, saturated fats, and sugar. This information can be found from the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging.

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April 23 – Dietary Habits to Enhance Cognition and Prevent Dementia– 10AM – View live at Purdue Extension-Putnam County Facebook

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April 30 – Food Budgeting and Meal Planning – 2 PM, View live at https://purdueextension.zoom.us/j/97621292635


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