What do you consider a life well-lived? Is it one with quantity of years or quality of years? Perhaps you can have both by following a Mediterranean diet!
This healthy diet has been linked to a longer lifespan for a while. Now, studies show a strong connection between the Mediterranean Diet and Alzheimer's prevention.
Here's everything you need to know about following an Alzheimer's prevention diet with a little Mediterranean flair.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet incorporates various foods from historical countries that neighbor the Mediterranean Sea.
Mediterranean diet recipes are bursting with flavors tracing back to countries, such as:
The sea provides adequate fish. While these countries may eat goat or lamb, fish, nuts, and seeds serve as their main sources of protein.
This healthy diet is naturally lower in saturated fats, which is a stark difference from the West. That's where there are lower incidences of obesity, heart disease, and as we are now finding out, Alzheimer's Disease, in the Mediterranean.
Its year-round temperate climate allows for plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to flourish. These provide excellent fiber, micronutrients, and vitamins to the body. They help support probiotic bacteria, the immune system, and brain health.
Most notably, this unique climate lends itself to excellent olive growth. Kalamata olives are used to make olive oils. They're mashed with roast red peppers to make tapenades. Plus, stuffed olives are really popular in martinis. Even their vices are healthy!
Why Eat Mediterranean for An Alzheimer's Diet?
A recent study by Neurology demonstrated the brain health benefits of a Mediterranean-style lifestyle.
Experts analyzed the cognitive health of 512 people on three factors:
- Brain Volume
- Cognitive Skills
- Protein Buildups
Of the participants, 343 were at a high risk of dementia. That's over 60% of the people who participated!
The participants were asked to fill out a lifestyle survey. Results found that the 169 were cognitively healthy followed a diet similar to Mediterranean eating patterns. Here's what the results found.
Lower Levels of Beta-Amyloid
Our bodies produce a protein known as amyloid precursor protein. While scientists don't know its exact function, they do know brain cells use parts of it.
One of the substances left behind is a sticky residue known as beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid can accumulate
Many doctors measure the risk of dementia by levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. Similar to cholesterol in blood pressure and heart disease, beta-amyloid begins to accumulate into clusters that cause Alzheimer's.
With time, beta-amyloid creates plaques that harden. These plaques prevent adequate blood flow to the brain that can interrupt neural communications or call healthy brain cells to die.
Lower Levels of Tau
Tau is another protein that is used to determine the progression of Alzheimer's. Like beta-amyloid, tau can create clusters that perform mental traffic jams.
This protein is produced when there is an abundance of enzymes in the brain available. These enzymes are aptly named tau kinase.
Animal studies have shown that depriving a mouse of the amino acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) increases the presence of tau kinase. Subsequently, adding DHA to their diet decreased this enzyme.
Experts in the mice study also noted that DHA helped normalize insulin levels. No wonder why Mediterranean diet followers have fewer cases of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. These are all primary causes of death, which explains why the Mediterranean diet is linked to longevity!
We produce very little DHA. Increase your DHA intake with Tranquility Labs' CogniDHA. This fish oil is optimized with 84% omega-3 fatty acids, including 775 mg of DHA. It's extracted with supercritical CO2 that preserves DHA integrity and naturally boosts absorption.
What to Avoid In A Mediterranean Diet for Brain Health?
Following an Alzheimer's Diet is going to take some lifestyle changes. The sacrifices will be worth the cognitive rewards.
Here are some foods to avoid in an Alzheimer's prevention diet:
- Processed Grains (White Bread, White Pasta, Cereals)
- Vegetable Oils (Canola, Soybean, Vegetable Oil, Crisco)
- Refined Sugars (Candy, Baked Goods, Ice Cream, Soda)
- Excess Saturated Fats (Red Meat, High-Fat Dairy)
- Packaged Goods (Deli Meat, Chips, TV Dinners)
Does that sound limiting? It's time to rethink your meal plans.
The sky is really the limit when it comes to a healthy diet. All you need is natural, raw foods. There are so many healthy foods out there to include your Alzheimer's diet. Stop looking at this change as limiting, and look at it as limitless.
What to Eat for Alzheimer's Prevention?
Delicious and nutritious Mediterranean diet recipes include fish, olive oil, fruits, veggies. Oh, and of course a glass of red wine.
Here are some of the best Mediterranean foods for brain health:
- Olives (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Olives Tapenades, Olive Leaf Extract, Fruits)
- Wild-Caught Fish (Salmon, Oysters, Sardines, Tuna, Sea Bass)
- Fresh Fruit (Oranges, Lemons, Apples, Figs, Berries, Grapes, Tomatoes, Cucumbers)
- Fresh Vegetables (Broccoli, Cucumber, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Carrots)
- Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, Walnuts, Hazelnuts)
- Seeds (Sesame, Sunflower, Pumpkin)
- Whole Grains (Bulgur, Couscous, Barley, Millet, Buckwheat, Spelt)
- Legumes (Chickpeas, Cannelli, Fava Beans)
- Little Red Meat (Beef, Lamb, Goat)
- Little White Meat (Chicken, Turkey)
- Low-Fat Dairy (Yogurt, Feta Cheese)
- Some Eggs
See, eating Mediterranean for brain health isn't hard. There are plenty of unique options out there for you. Mix and match what you like the best to see how you can easily integrate these lifestyle changes into your routine.
How to Eat Mediterranean?
Eating Mediterranean foods doesn't mean gyros every night. As much as we love a good tzatziki sauce, it's not practical to consume traditional Mediterranean cuisine every day. It doesn't mean you can't eat these foods and give them a twist.
Easy Mediterranean food swaps:
- Beef Tacos to Ahi Tuna Tacos
- Potato Chips to Carrots and Hummus
- Deli Meat Sandwich on White Bread to Almond Butter, Apples, and Feta Cheese on Sprouted Spelt Bread
- White Rice to Couscous
- Vegetable Oil to Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pork and Beans to Bulgur and Beans
- Meatballs to Chickpea Balls
- Packaged Trail Mix to Handmade Blend of Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit
- Cereal to Muesli Yogurt Bowl
Making dietary changes can take a while to transition. Get a head start on your brain health by increasing your omega-3 intake with Tranquility Labs' Olive Leaf Extract.
This all-natural blend contains 20% oleuropein. This unique olive compound has shown to prevent neurodegeneration in rats with Parkinson's Disease. It exhibits robust antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that protect brain cells, grey matter, and mood.
A healthier brain can be achieved with small changes to your meal plan. Supplementing with olive leaf extract will give your brain the daily support it deserves. With time, you will integrate these changes seamlessly and it will become a part of who you are...a healthier you!
- The Mediterranean diet increases longevity and brain health
- DHA lowers beta-amyloid and tau in the brain
- Olive leaf extract and fish oil can supplement your new dietary
BONUS RECIPE: CREAMY GREEK SALAD PASTA RECIPE
- 1 pound fusilli pasta, you can also use penne, rigatoni, farfalle or elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, diced (or about 1 cup chopped English cucumber)
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced olives
- 7 oz (200 grams) feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
- 1 cup corn kernels (I buy them frozen and cook them in boiling water for 2 minutes)
- 1 cup strained Greek yogurt 2% fat (you can also use full fat)
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2-3 tablespoons e.v. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
-Take care to chop all the vegetables about the same size.
-Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain well using a colander and rinse with cold water until no longer warm. Set aside to drain.
-Transfer all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix gently with a spatula until everything is combined. Taste and adjust salt.
-Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1 hour to chill.
*Add more yogurt for extra creaminess