If you or a loved one has survived a stroke, I'm sure you know that taking steps to prevent further cognitive decline is vital. But in case you weren't aware, stroke survivors' risk of developing dementia is double that of the general population. Fortunately, researchers have identified some dietary guidelines that can help you give your brain the fuel and protection it needs to function as well as possible in the aftermath of a stroke.
This diet, appropriately called the MIND diet by the Rush University Medical Center researchers who created it, can substantially slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors. This is according to the research that they presented at the 2018 American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference. The MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, is a combination of the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets. Both of these diets can reduce the risk of health issues such as hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. But the combination more heavily focuses on brain-healthy foods.
The researchers constructed the MIND diet around two broad categories: 10 "good" food groups and 5 "bad" food groups. To follow the diet, you need to eat plenty of the good foods and few of the bad foods. More specifically, here's what the researchers recommend:
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• 3 servings of whole grains a day
• 1 green leafy vegetable a day
• 1 additional vegetable a day
• 1 glass of wine a day
• A snack of nuts most days
• Beans every other day
• Poultry at least twice a week
• Berries at least twice a week
• Fish at least once a week
• Limit intake of red meat
• Less than 1.5 teaspoons of butter a day
• Fewer than 5 servings of sweets and pastries a week
• Less than one serving per week of whole-fat cheese
• Less than one serving per week of fried or fast food
The researchers have found that members of the general population who adhere the most closely to this diet had cognitive functioning that made them seem 7.5 years younger than the people who were the least adherent. Among stroke participants, those who adhered the best had substantially slower rates of cognitive decline compared to those who didn't adhere well. This effect was independent of other cognitive and physical activities the participants engaged in. The researchers believe this diet works better than the Mediterranean and DASH diets alone because of its emphasis on brain-healthy nutrients.
I think this diet is a good way to eat. You can skip the alcohol if you're not a drinker. But I do recommend that you add a few supplements to ensure you're getting all the nutrients your brain needs. Specifically, I recommend taking Complete Daily Oils and Super Immune QuickStart, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and immune support. Even if you slip off the plan occasionally, this will give you some extra insurance that your brain has the nutrients it needs to continue functioning optimally.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD