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Advantages of the MIND Diet for Elderly People with Alzheimer’s

By Debbie Nunn, 9:00 am on

The MIND diet is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and is a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diets. The regimen was created by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist who was determined to find a way to use food to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. After decades of research and testing, the MIND diet was introduced.

Promotes Overall Health

The food groups recommended in the MIND diet combine the right blend of nutrients and chemical compounds that promote overall health while offering protection for delicate brain tissue. One of the benefits of the MIND diet is not having to count calories. Seniors only need to try to consume the recommended number of servings from each food group each day. The diet contains common foods that may be included in a variety of meals. The foods permitted include:

• Beans – 4 to 5 servings weekly 
• Berries – 4 to 5 servings each week 
• Brightly colored vegetables – 1 to 2 servings daily
• Fish – 2 servings weekly 
• Green leafy vegetables – 1 to 2 servings daily
• Nuts – 1 serving daily 
• Poultry – 3 servings weekly 
• Olive oil – Use as a replacement for butter, margarine, and vegetable oil 
• Whole grains – 3 servings daily 
• Wine – 1 serving daily

Morris and researchers from Rush University Medical Center studied the effects of the MIND diet with the help of more than 900 older adult volunteers. The individuals who strictly adhered to the regimen reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent. Seniors who followed the diet moderately reduced their risk by 35 percent.

A professional caregiver with training in nutrition can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement as your loved one adopts new healthy habits, including eating more nutritious foods. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust Clarksville elderly home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

Provides Neuron-Protecting Antioxidants

Fresh and frozen produce provide an abundance of the B vitamins necessary for optimal nerve and neuron function. Seniors also get plenty of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds that combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which commonly accumulate and cause inflammation, premature cell aging, and cell death—effects that are particularly detrimental to delicate neurons.

Lowers Cholesterol

Fatty fish, nuts, and olive oil provide omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. The compounds are also known to reduce LDL cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol rises too high, harmful plaques form that impede blood flow. The brain needs nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to keep neurons healthy and functional. The amount of fiber provided by the diet also helps seniors feel full longer, which reduces the likelihood of snacking on unhealthy foods.

Family caregivers need to maintain a healthy lifestyle too, which involves self-care and making time to attend to their own wellbeing. In Clarksville, respite care is a great help to many families. Caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times, which puts family caregivers at risk for burnout. However, an in-home caregiver can take over your loved one’s care, allowing you the time you need to focus on your own health, maintain a full-time job, or care for other members of your family.

Boosts Cognitive Function

Rush University studies demonstrate that seniors adhering to the MIND diet scored higher on cognitive tests than their peers who didn’t follow the diet. A battery of tests showed the older adults had better memory, perception, and other cognitive skills. The researchers evaluated the brains of the volunteers over a period of nine years to determine possible physical brain changes. Imaging studies and cognitive tests revealed their brains were on average nearly eight years younger than the brains of seniors who hadn’t consumed the recommended foods. Additionally, imaging studies of more than 400 older adults over a three-year period revealed a significant reduction in brain shrinkage.

Professional caregivers with training and expertise in nutrition and methods of cognitive stimulation can be a wonderful asset for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior home care. Clarksville families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (931) 218-2781 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.

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