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ALBANY — At any given time, about 50 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight, spending in excess of $60 billion annually on diet and weight-loss products. And while a large number of those dieters are looking for a quick way to improve their self-image, another group has something else in mind.
We’ve all heard the saying “feed your mind.” It was usually from a parent or teacher trying to encourage us to read more or limit our television time. But studies show that feeding your mind isn’t just about flooding your brain with information … we now know that what we eat has a direct effect on brain health. This leads us to the second installment in our diet series.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted a study on food and its connection to Alzheimer’s disease and developed a diet appropriately called the Mind Diet.
Although genetics, smoking, exercise and education also play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s, doctors at Rush claim their study shows that the Mind Diet slowed the rate of cognitive decline and reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent.
A conversation with Dr. Marla Black Morgan, the principle neurologist at Phoebe Neurology Associates and medical director for the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital stroke program, revealed that there is indeed proof of the link between diet and cognitive decline.
Asked if she thought there was a direct correlation between what we eat and Alzheimer’s, Morgan said, “We’ve known for years that patients with cognitive diseases (who eat a healthy diet) do better overall. It helps slow the decline and can be very helpful as part of their treatment regimen.”
As a result of recent research linking the way individuals process insulin to the development of the disease, the Mayo Clinic and other institutions have unofficially labeled Alzheimer’s “Type 3 diabetes.”
Morgan said that the neurological community isn’t calling Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes just yet, but she added that there does seem to be a connection between patients with Type 2 diabetes and multiple types of dementia, probably because of reduced blood flow to the brain and blood vessel damage.
Here’s how the Mind Diet works.
Limit the following:
1. Butter and margarine – less than 1 tablespoon per day;
2. Pastries and sweets – this includes processed junk food like ice cream, cake, candy and cookies – no more than 4 servings per week
3. Fried food – no more than one serving per week
4. Cheese – one serving per week
5. Red meat – no more than 3 servings per week
For maximum effectiveness, your diet should consist of the following:
1. Green, leafy vegetables – try to eat 6 or more servings per week
2. Other vegetables – carrots, squash, etc. at least once per day
3. Wine – one glass a day, red or white
4. Poultry – chicken or turkey at least twice a week
5. Beans – at least 4 servings every week
6. Whole Grains – Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, 100 percent whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta – at least 3 servings daily
7. Olive Oil – use olive oil as your main cooking oil
8. Nuts – a minimum of 5 servings of nuts per week
9. Berries – at least two servings per week