Can Diet Protect You from Alzheimer's?

If you want to lower your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, consider fruits, vegetables and lean meats. 

Researchers say the simple dietary changes might make a world of difference as it did in 1,000 people they studied over a 10-year period.

Alzheimer's Defeated by Diet

The results of the study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago showed that those who followed a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats, supplemented with a little wine, slashed their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 53 percent. Even those who didn't follow the food plan, known as Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND), still had their risk lowered by about 35 percent.

The specifics of the MIND diet include foods that should be eaten daily (vegetables, especially if green and leafy, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine) and five foods to avoid (red meats, butter, stick margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets, and fried or fast food). 

A Hybrid Eating Plan

According to the study's lead author, Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush, the diet used in the study is actually a hybrid of two eating plans, the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). She explains that the study used the combination approach because it's easier for Americans to follow. "We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study," she explained. "The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials."

While researchers don't know exactly how this eating plan protects people from Alzheimer's disease, it's known that Alzheimer's rates in Italy and Japan are much lower than in the United States. In 2013, Chinese scientists found a possible link between typical diets in those countries and their ability to right off the disease.

In addition to taking a dietary approach, "exercising" your brain may also help ward off Alzheimer's disease, This video offers some helpful tips on how to slow down the aging process in your brain. If you're worried that you or someone you love might be have Alzheimer's disease, watch for these early symptoms.