A new study says that following a special diet consisting of certain "brain healthy" foods may slow cognitive decline by 7.5 years among the elderly. The MIND diet -- short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay -- is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.
The study evaluated cognitive change over a period of 4.7 years among 960 older adults who were free of dementia on enrollment. The average age of participants was 81.4 years. Older adults who followed the MIND diet more rigorously showed an equivalent of being 7.5 years younger cognitively than those who followed the diet least, the findings showed.
"Prevention of cognitive decline, the defining feature of dementia, is now more important than ever," said one of the researchers Martha Clare Morris, nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, Illinoisthe US.
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 "brain-healthy food groups" and five unhealthy groups -- red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day -- along with a glass of wine -- snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week.
In addition, the study found that to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of cognitive decline, he or she must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than one tablespoon a day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).
The findings were detailed online in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association