Melanie Johnson, a registered dietitian at Baptist HealthwoRx Fitness & Wellness Center, recently wrote this column about the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and diet. The column is reprinted with permission from The Herald-Leader.

Research in the past few years has found that following a Mediterranean diet may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but now a hybrid diet has been shown to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

The MIND diet focuses on components of the Mediterranean and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. The diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The research was published online on March 19 in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

One big advantage of the MIND diet is that it may be easier to follow for the long term. The diet focuses on adding foods from the “brain-healthy” groups and limiting foods from the five “unhealthy” groups.

From the 10 healthy groups you eat:

  • Green leafy vegetables (like spinach and salad greens) – at least six servings a week
  • Other vegetables – at least once a day
  • Nuts – five servings a week
  • Berries – two or more servings a week
  • Beans – at least three servings a week
  • Whole grains – three or more servings a day
  • Fish – once a week
  • Poultry – two times a week
  • Olive oil – use it as your main cooking oil
  • Wine – one glass a day (Note: If you do not consume alcohol it is not recommended that you start drinking. As with any recommendation, it is advisable to check with your physician.)

Food to avoid:

  • Red meat – less than four servings a week
  • Butter and margarine – less than a tablespoon daily
  • Cheese – less than one serving a week
  • Pastries and sweets – less than five servings a week
  • Fried or fast food – less than one serving a week

Those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia can learn more about this diet as well as how to take control of their health in Brainworks, a free series of programs, each Wednesday in May. Provided by Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology and Baptist HealthwoRx Fitness & Wellness Center, the programs will be from 1-2:30 p.m. at HealthwoRx, located in Lexington Green. To register or find out more, call 859-260-4354.

As with any healthy lifestyle, you get the most benefit the longer you practice it. Stop worrying about getting Alzheimer’s in the future, and start eating to prevent it today.