Fighting Alzheimer's through diet - KCTV5 News

Fighting Alzheimer's through diet

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Living with Alzheimer’s disease is an intense and emotional struggle for both the patient and their family.

There is currently no cure or treatment, but some doctors are looking into the prevention of Alzheimer’s simply by eating. The idea around the new MIND diet is that loading up your plate with foods you already eat to stay healthy – like fish, berries, leafy greens and nuts – are also considered brain boosting foods.

Sylvia LaVine is taking part in the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center study looking into if simply walking more can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  Every step on the treadmill shows her determination.

“I really thought I really have nothing to lose. I don't have to take a pill, this is not an injection. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose so I investigated,” she said.

When she walks, a mask is placed around her face. The attached breathing tube measures oxygen flow and essentially how exercise affects the brain.

Family history puts LaVine at greater risk. Her mother had dementia.

“She had actually first-level dementia. She was mobile, she had agitation, she ran away,” LaVine said.

Dr. Jeffrey Burns is attacking Alzheimer’s with his research.

“One thing we tell people is what's good for the heart is good for the brain,” he said.

Burns explains that it’s not just about exercise. He said the MIND diet could lower a person’s risk too. Researchers found that people who stick to the MIND diet dropped their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 54 percent.

“People who had a diet that was more in line with a MIND diet did better over time in terms of their memory and their thinking. People who had a diet further from that tended to do worse overtime,” he said.

The study also showed it can work to delay dementia, but Burns warns more research is needed to prove exact cause and effect.

“There’s a lot of data that's coming out. It tends to be observational so the proof is not quite there yet, but does the diet truly help the brain? We do have a lot of data that supports the idea,” he said.

With one in nine people over the age of 65 diagnosed and six million American suffering from Alzheimer’s, LaVine said the MIND diet give her peace of mind.

“I would love to live my life fully, as many years as I have. I also feel a responsibility to my children and my family,” she said.

Burns said in about four months he’ll be starting his own study on diet, the brain and Alzheimer’s where he’ll be looking at the MIND diet. 

The diet is based on 10 healthy food groups and five not-so-healthy ones. Perfect MIND dieters eat:

  • At least three servings of whole grains a day
  • Six servings of leafy greens a week plus one other veggie serving a day
  • Two servings of berries a week
  • One serving of fish a week
  • Two servings of poultry a week
  • Three servings of legumes a week
  • Five servings of nuts a week
  • A daily serving of alcohol, preferably red wine for its long list of health benefits

Click here to learn more about getting involved in the study. 

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