Drink red wine and never skip breakfast… 9 expert tips to prevent dementia05/21/2019
SOMEONE is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes in the UK.
That terrifying statistic is set to become a lot worse over the next few decades, with experts warning that the global number of dementia deaths are set to increase by a shocking 40 per cent by 2030.
Dementia and Alzheimer's are already the leading cause of death in the UK, with an estimated 850,000 people living with the disease.
But there are things you can do to try to protect yourself.
While some cases are clearly hereditary, others are avoidable with lifestyle changes.
We know, for example, that exercising regularly can help us to produce a protective hormone, while simple things like brushing your teeth twice a day can slash the risk of Alzheimer's.
Otherwise, diet can play a massive role.
In fact, it's so big that a whole eating plan called the MIND diet has been developed as a way of reducing our chances of developing dementia.
Dr Lisa Mosconi, is a neuroscientist and Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, and she also claims that we can protect our brains against dementia by changing our diets.
She told Healthista that a few simple foodie hacks are all it takes:
1. Have a glass of red wine
Good news for us all – red wine really does help to protect our brains.
It contains an antioxidant compound called resveratrol, which has also been credited with helping us to live longer.
Dr Mosconi recommends women drink one small glass of wine a day for their brain health.
If wine isn't your thing, go for grape, pomegranate or prune juice instead.
2. Don't skip breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
Your brain needs sustainable energy in the morning, which comes from fresh fruit, whole grains and lean protein.
Think porridge and berries, eggs on toast, fruit salads.
3. But do ditch the takeaways
Takeaways don't tend to be good for any part of you but they're especially rubbish for your brain health.
Ultra-processed grub contains refined oils, sugars, pesticides and other chemicals.
Go for fresh, whole foods as much as you can.
4. Have more curries
"Americans are eight times more likely to get Alzheimer's than their Indian counterparts," says Dr Mosconi.
That's partly because they eat far less processed rubbish, but it's also thanks to the spices they use in their cooking.
Turmeric, for example, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is full of health-promoting antioxidants.
Studies have shown that it can protect against memory loss and dementia.
5. Eat more dark chocolate
Dark chocolate really is a superfood, thanks to its antioxidant properties.
But you need to go for dark over milk.
Anything over 85 per cent cocoa will have a decent nutrient profile, low in sugar and rich in minerals.
So if you crave something sweet, reach for the Green & Blacks.
6. Try intermittent fasting
You don't have to dramatically cut calories to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Simply delay your breakfast a little so you're giving yourself a 12-16 hour break between dinner and your first meal of the day.
It'll naturally reduce your calorie intake during the day and that can boost your brain power.
Brain cells become stronger when you're hungry, so if you possibly can, having your dinner a bit earlier and your breakfast a bit later.
7. Sleep more
There's almost nothing that sleep doesn't improve.
A lack of good quality sleep has been found to seriously damage our brain health and increase our risk of Alzheimer's.
Studies have found that adults who get less than five hours kip a night have higher levels of Alzheimer's plaques in the brain than those who slept well for over seven hours.
When we sleep, our brains are able to flush away harmful waste products, so it really is crucial to prioritise sleep.
8. Keep a glass of water by your bed
Drinking enough water is absolutely crucial to our overall health so it makes sense that it would also help our brains.
It helps to remove waste products from the body and drinking at least two litres a day is said to help to boost our brain function by up to 30 per cent.
Your best bet is to always have a glass of water next to your bed and down it as soon as you wake up in the morning.
That'll help you feel more awake as you get ready for work.
Just be aware that caffeine can dehydrate you so you need to be aiming for two litres of water on top of any coffee or caffeinated drinks.
And you're better off waiting a couple of hours before you have that first cup of coffee.
In fact, scientists believe that the best time to have a coffee is actually 30 minutes after you've had breakfast, rather than first thing in the morning.
9. Eat vegan
Veganism might be fashionable nowadays but it's actually the most traditional way of eating.
"Plant-based foods are what our brains first nourished themselves with, our early ancestors were raw vegans," Dr Mosconi says.
Plants contain all the vitamins, minerals, good carbs, good fats, lean protein we need, so try adding as much fresh fruit and veg to your meals as possible.
To maximise your brain health, load up on avocados and nuts, which are packed with healthy fats.
You don't have to eat a stack-load – around ten nuts (or two Brazils) are enough as they're really nutrient and calorie-dense.
What is the MIND diet?
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay.
It was developed by Professor Martha Morris at the Rush University Medical Centre, with the goal of lowering the risk of Alzheimer's through brain-healthy foods.
A study has been following 1,220 Australian adults aged 60 and over for a period of 12 years.
Over that time, scientists charted how different eating plans influenced brain health.
And they found that following the MIND diet was linked to a 19 per cent reduced odds of developing clinically diagnosed dementia.
The MIND diet recommends eating ten foods every single day and avoiding five types of food.
The healthy daily food includes:
- Green leafy veg in particular
- Berries – especially blueberries
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
The five to avoid are:
- Fried foods /fast food
- Red meat
- Pastries and sweets
There are also ten rules which MIND dieters have to stick to:
- Eat at least three servings of whole grains a day
- Eat a salad a day
- Eat one other vegetable every day
- Drink a glass of wine every day
- Snack on nuts every day
- Eat beans every other day
- Eat chicken and berries at least twice a week
- Eat fish at least once a week
- Only have one serving of unhealthy food a week
- Eat less than one tablespoon of butter a day
10. Stop using plastic Tupperware
Dr Mosconi doesn’t recommend using aluminum, plastics or synthetic materials like Teflon as these contain the compound polytetrafluoroethylene – which can be toxic for brain health.
Instead, she suggests using stainless steel, glass and ceramic kitchenware.
So stop hoarding those old plastic takeaway boxes and invest in some properly solid lunchboxes.
It's important to stress that not all dementia cases are preventable.
But living the healthiest lifestyle you can will go some way to helping you prevent all kinds of diseases – including ones like Alzheimer's.
This article first appeared on Healthista
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