Morning Rounds: Food to fight dementia

NORFOLK, Va. -  Can food cut the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease? News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light said there is a diet that can have a huge impact.

News 3: Is there a link between dementia and diet?

Dr. Light:  Certain foods have been shown to reduce your risk of developing dementia.  The MIND diet recommends eating green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, collards and other greens.  The diet also advocates eating nuts, which contain healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.  In addition, studies have found nuts can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Berries are the only fruit specifically recommended in the MIND diet.  Beans are included because they are high in fiber and protein, and low in calories and fat.  The diet also suggests eating three or more serving of whole grains daily.  Eating fish at least once a week and baked chicken twice a week helps protect brain function.  Consumption of olive oil has been shown to diminish cogitative decline.  Red wine daily in moderation (a 4-ounce serving) has also proven beneficial.

Here is a list of beneficial MIND diet foods:

  • green leafy vegetables
  • other vegetables
  • nuts
  • berries
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • fish
  • poultry
  • olive oil
  • wine

News 3:  Do any foods increase our risk of developing dementia?

Dr. Light: The MIND diet advises limitations on the following categories and food types:

  • Red meat: less than four servings a week
  • Butter and margarine: less than a tablespoon daily
  • Cheese: less than one serving a week
  • Pastries and sweets: less than five servings a week
  • Fried or fast food: less than one serving a week
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners

News 3: What other are some other things we can do to help reduce risk?

Dr. Light:  Stress reduction, sleeping 7-8 hours nightly and 30 minutes of cardio five times a week can help reduce your risk of developing dementia.

News 3:  What is the benefit of following the MIND diet?

Dr. Light:  One study showed that people who stuck to the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 54 percent.  Researchers also found that adults who followed the diet only part of the time still cut their risk of the disease by about 35 percent.

Dr. Light’s summary of the MIND diet:

  • A salad and at least one other vegetable every day
  • Nuts at least five times a week
  • Berries at least twice a week
  • Beans at least three times a week
  • Whole grains three or more servings a day
  • Fish once a week
  • Poultry twice a week
  • Olive oil daily as your main cooking oil
  • One four-ounce glass of wine a day