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Eating a healthy diet can add years to your life. An American study found that eating foods from this group of vegetables daily could make your brain 11 years younger, preventing the effects of Alzheimer’s. Here is everything you need to know about eating a Dementia-friendly diet.
A huge one in 14 people aged over 65 in the UK has dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, that number rises to one in six in people over the age of 80.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in Britain, and that number is forecast to rise to 1.4 million by 2040.
Age is the biggest risk factor for developing dementia, but other risk factors include your diet and lifestyle.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for up to 75 percent of dementia cases.
But what is Alzheimer’s? And how can your diet reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s?
What is Alzheimer’s?
Your brain is made of billions of nerve cells sending messages to each other so you can function and think clearly.
In Alzheimer’s, the messaging system between the different parts of your brain becomes damaged and disconnected.
This is due to proteins called amyloid and tau. Amyloid causes plaque to build up around cells whereas tau causes brain cells to become tangled up.
The more brain cells that are damaged, the number of neurotransmitters – the chemicals carrying messages around the brain – decrease, causing a loss of brain function.
One of the first affected areas is your memories, which is why people with Alzheimer’s can seem confused or forgetful.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time, and at the moment there’s no cure.
However, as more research is carried out into the causes of Alzheimer’s, we can determine the lifestyle factors that increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Diet is one of the key areas where you can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but what vegetables should you eat every day to avoid Alzheimer’s?
Food to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s
Research found eating a portion of leafy green vegetables every day slashed the risk of Alzheimer’s for more than 900 participants in an American study.
Those who ate the most leafy green vegetables – such as lettuce, spinach and kale – were found to have brains that were 11 years ‘younger’ than those who ate the least.
The participants who ate the most leafy green vegetables over the five-year study, showed a slower decline in cognitive ability and memory.
Although the results of this study are very promising, Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK commented: “Future studies will need to explore how leafy, green vegetables might contribute to brain function or if there is any link to whether people develop dementia.”
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Dr Imariso added diets rich in all vegetables are shown to reduce risk of dementia.
She said: “As well as eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, research points to a number of other lifestyle factors that could help support brain health into old age.
“These include not smoking, staying mentally and physically active, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check and only drinking in moderation.”
One acclaimed diet to lower risk of dementia is the MIND diet, which combines wisdom from the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, both of which focus on heart-healthy and low-sodium foods.
The MIND diet also advocates for one serving of leafy green vegetables every day, while cutting out fatty food, red meat and limiting dairy.
According to the MIND diet, eating more of these foods can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s and keep your brain function healthy:
- Vegetables (Everyday)
- Berries (Twice a week)
- Nuts (Almost every day)
- Olive oil (Every day)
- Whole grains (Three days a week)
- Fish (At least once a week)
- Beans (Three days a week)
- Poultry (Twice a week)
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