- Very few people realise that what you eat ultimately affects brain health.
- The Mediterranean diet can cause weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes and premature death.
- It may lower your risk for dementia by interfering with the buildup of two proteins, amyloid and tau, into the plaques and tangles.
Afraid you may face memory loss and cognitive functions if you live to be a centenarian? A new study has found that eating meals inspired by traditional foods from the sunny Mediterranean may lower your risk for dementia by interfering with the buildup of two proteins, amyloid and tau, into the plaques and tangles that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
“The mountain of evidence continues to build that you are what you eat when it comes to brain health,” said Dr Richard Isaacson, who directs the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to CNN.
“In this important study, researchers showed that it’s possible to not only improve cognitive function — most specifically memory — but also reduces the risk for Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” CNN quotes Isaacson who was not involved in the study.
“For every point of higher compliance with the diet, people had one extra year less of brain ageing. That is striking,” Isaacson added. “Most people are unaware that it’s possible to take control of your brain health, yet this study shows us just that.” The study, published Wednesday in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined 343 people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s and compared them to 169 cognitively normal subjects, to arrive at the results.
So what is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in 1960. Stop thinking like a 21st-century professional who picks up meals on the run and gobbles them up like it were a job to finish. Several studies have now shown that the Mediterranean diet can cause weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes and premature death.
There is no one right way to follow the Mediterranean diet. The name of the diet comes from the many countries dotting the Mediterranean sea and people in different areas may have eaten different foods. But first up, forget lasagna, pizza, spanakopita – the Greek pie made of layers of phyllo dough stuffed with a comforting filling of spinach and feta cheese… and forget lamb souvlaki — they are not on the daily menu of those who live by the Mediterranean seaside.
How to switch to a Mediterranean diet:
- Replace one thing at a time. For example, replace refined grains with whole grains. Give up pasta, cakes, muffins, maida breads, naans. Choose whole-wheat bread, dalia, wheat atta with chokar, give up white rice and switch to brown or wild rice, use whole oats, quinoa, millets like bajra, nachni, jowar.
- Include a minimum of 5 – 10 servings of fresh and crunchy fruits and vegetables.
- Your platter should look colourful and you can eat it raw, grilled, steamed, sautéed, roasted or pickled.
- Walk, jog, cycling or swimming – do any of these for 30 minutes each day.
What you can eat on Mediterranean Diet:
- Nutrient-dense varied and crunchy, colourful vegetables and fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes, pulses, peanuts
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.
- Whole grains, whole-grain bread and pasta
- Fish and seafood
- Chicken, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, dahi
- Herbs and spices
- Healthy Fats only – Stop using the sunflower seeds cooking oil
- Use Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil.
What you can drink on the Mediterranean Diet;
- You can have lots of water, that’s your main beverage
- Approx. 1 glass of red wine allowed per day for those who have their doctor’s permission
- Coffee and tea are permitted
- No sugar-sweetened beverages
- No fruit juices which are very high in sugar
What not to eat:
- Added sugar: Soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar etc
- Refined grains: Maida, White bread, pasta etc
- Trans fats: Margarine, bakery products, processed foods
- Refined oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil etc
- Processed meat: Salami slices, Processed sausages, hot dogs, etc.
- Highly processed foods: Nothing labelled “low-fat” or “diet”
- NO factory-farmed meat or similar products
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.