Go Mediterranean for a Brain-Healthy Diet

Cara Cunningham - Se

Reporter:

Cara Cunningham - Se

Alzheimer’s Tea Day is on May 1 and it is a good time to raise funds for this worthy charity. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are probably some of the most feared illnesses.

Alzheimer’s Tea Day is on May 1 and it is a good time to raise funds for this worthy charity. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are probably some of the most feared illnesses.

Having a healthy lifestyle does seem to impact on your risk of developing these diseases. Although there is ongoing research, little has yet been proven; but what can be said is that by making some positive lifestyle changes, like eating healthily, taking regular exercise, not smoking and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels you may be able to lower the risks.

As far as what you eat is concerned a lot of work has been done about the positive influence of following a Mediterranean type diet; traditionally this means eating a diet that is high in fruit, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils and wholegrain cereals, with some oily fish and dairy. Eating all this while taking lower amounts of meat, sugar and saturated fat has been associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline.

Eating fruit and vegetables means your diet is high in antioxidant vitamins (that is Vitamins A, C and E), these basically work by protecting against the oxidative damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This is probably the reason why they show a ‘protective’ influence on the brain. However, before you start popping the vitamin pills, most current research says that these ACE vitamins should be sourced from food rather than supplements. Taking ACE supplements has been linked to a higher incidence of some types of cancers. So go with Mother Nature and include some fruit or vegetables or both with each of your meals; don’t forget they also make a super snack.

The Mediterranean diet is also lower in saturated fat which seems to be linked with slowing of cognitive decline. While eating foods with plenty of fibre means that food energy is more slowly released into your blood providing a steady stream of fuel for your brain.

Although more studies need to be done to definitely outline which food can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Following what the Mediterraneans tuck into is a good way to make sure you are eating a healthy diet that may be good for your brain health but is definitely good for your overall health.

For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact: The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044) 9395518 or email community.dietitians@hse.ie.