The DASH Diet for Brain Health
Senior health has become a major focus in the past decade or so as the so-called Baby Boomer generation hit 50, and now 70.
With an aging population has come more cases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia than ever before.
As scientists study AD in the desperate hope of finding some form of prevention or cure, they’ve noted that many AD patients have certain things in common.
They are often overweight, eat a lot of processed foods, focus on carbohydrates rather than healthier foods, and have high blood pressure.
The DASH diet has been proven in relation to heart health, but can it also help with brain health and reduce your risk of AD?
What is the DASH diet?
The DASH diet, Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is a free diet that was developed when researchers noted just how many cases of high blood pressure (HBP) were developing in the US. Blood pressure tended to rise as we got older, and at first, was considered a normal and not too dangerous part of aging.
However, fast forward to 2016, and we now know that HBP contributes to a range of life-threatening diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. Recent recommendations therefore state that everyone, no matter what their age, should try to maintain a healthy blood pressure of 120 over 70.
The DASH diet was developed in order to help people stay within that normal range through diet alone, not medication. The results have been impressive.
The DASH diet-easy eating
The DASH diet is pretty easy to follow, and there are lots of free resources online to help you get the most out of it. The eating plan emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy, seafood, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It contains less salt and sodium, sweets, added sugars, fats, and red meats than the typical American eats.
Salt is a major contributor to blood pressure because it causes us to retain water. Eating a diet low in salt by steering clear of canned food and ones that are preserved through salting and/or smoking, such as cold cuts, is key to lowering HBP.
DASH recommendations are spread over eight food groups:
* Fat-free dairy
* Lean protein
* Nuts, seeds and legumes (peas, lentils, peanuts)
* Fats and oils
* Sweets and added sugars
Eat more of the items at the top of the list each day, and few to none at the bottom of the list, and see if you can get your HBP down and boost your brain health.