Response to Medical News Today’s Article: “Plant-Based Diet May Prevent Cognitive Decline”
An article published by Medical News Today highlights research showing a link between consuming a primarily plant-based diet and a lowered risk of cognitive impairment later in life. This is such an important topic to our NEURO PLAN Academy and we are pleased to see the public health approach that’s been taken by this publication.
The American Heart Association identifies Life’s Simple 7, which are “the seven risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to achieve ideal cardiovascular health.” Every year we do better with factors like reducing smoking and getting more active, but when it comes to nutrition and healthy eating, we regularly fall under less than 1%. In other words, less than 1% of Americans eat healthy. This is a concerning statistic given that food, and healthy food in particular, is the most important factor with regard to public health. More than 80% of chronic diseases, including stroke and dementia, can be avoided with healthy food and lifestyle. With this in mind, our goal is to increase the number of people who regularly eat healthy by making healthful options more widely available and emphasizing the importance of plant-based diets, especially for treating chronic diseases.
Now we may be on the verge of that tipping point.
With increasing awareness of diets like the Mediterranean and DASH (short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, more people are educating themselves on the benefits of such plant-rich diets, and some retailers and restaurants are even geared specifically toward these diets.
In the Medical News Today article, author Ana Sandoiu notes that the new study suggests that “eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in animal products such as meat and dairy lowers the risk of cognitive decline in later life.”
This plant-based approach to nutrition is one that Ayesha and I personally practice, and we have found it extremely beneficial for ourselves and our family. And we’re not the only ones.
Studies show that plant-based diets “reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function,” according to Harvard Health Publishing for Harvard Medical School. Additionally, they can lower the risk of stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
However, as with most lifestyle changes, the hardest part is getting started and then sticking with it. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet strategy offers a key alternative to those who struggle with staying on track with more complex diets, as well as an important solution that aligns well with the study.
As Sandoiu says:
As the population continues to age, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to identify modifiable risk factors for conditions such as Alzheimer’s, as well as any lifestyle changes that may prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as this from developing in the first place. New research points to nutrition as one such factor.
Adopting a MIND Diet Strategy
By following the MIND diet approach, the general public can drastically increase their overall health, especially brain health. The MIND diet specifically focuses on reducing the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s and both preserving and boosting brain health through nutrition.
The MIND diet highlights ten specific foods to focus on, including:
- Antioxidant-rich berries
- Green, leafy vegetables
- All other vegetables
- Whole grains
It also specifies five foods to avoid, including:
- Red meat
- Fried foods
- Pastries and sweets
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If you find it challenging to switch to an approach like this, we at the NEURO PLAN Academy can help you gradually shift away from processed foods, sugar, meats, and cheeses and successfully manage an optimal plant-based diet through our programs and resources. We can help you develop the right tools and mindset to optimize your overall health. Our mobile app, Brain XQ, will also provide opportunities to gain a better understanding of your brain health and create specific daily achievable goals to work on improving your brain wellness.
Our research through Healthy Minds Initiative consistently studies Alzheimer’s disease and environment response cognitive diseases (ERCDs), in which environment and lifestyle play a vital factor in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. With an estimated 5.2 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, research like Professor Puay’s helps us continue to develop resources to promote brain health and support lifestyle changes that have a lasting impact in helping to encourage preventative measures and better treat those dealing with symptoms.
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