Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature
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Dementia is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions which can impact daily activities. An estimated one in 14 people over the age of 65 in the UK have dementia, rising to one in six over the age of 80, with Alzheimer’s the most common disease associated with dementia.
While dementia can not be cured, scientific research over the years has found that certain lifestyle factors can hold off symptoms for longer.
Although sleep, exercise and alcohol consumption all play a pivotal role in keeping the brain healthy, diet is among one of the best ways to ensure you are fuelling your brain with nutrients.
Observational studies suggest that following a Mediterranean-style diet could slash the risk of developing Alzheimer’s alone by up to 53 percent.
Including foods associated with a Mediterranean diet, also known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delayreduce (MIND), can also slow cognitive decline and boost verbal memory.
There are a number of foods included in the diet, such as berries, fish and nuts, however, one group of vegetables rises to the top of the charts when it comes to their memory-boosting attributes.
According to the rules of the MIND diet, people should try to eat a minimum of six portions of green leafy vegetables each week.
Leafy greens include salad vegetables and can be enjoyed as a side with a protein of your choice.
However, if the amount of leafy greens consumed is increased, it can have even more benefits for neurological health.
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A study published in Neurology in January 2018 found that eating half a cup cooked or one cup raw of leafy green vegetables every day was associated with a slower decline in brain function.
Furthermore, researchers at Tufts Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing in Boston and Rush University in Chicago, found that from a group of 960 participants, those who ate leafy greens were the equivalent of 11 years younger than those who shunned the vegetables.
According to the researchers, many of the nutrients packed into leafy greens are what makes them so beneficial.
Lutein, vitamin K, nitrate, folate, alphatocopherol, beta-carotene and kaempferol were all identified as key players in boosting cognitive health.
However, leafy greens are not the only vegetable beneficial to brain health and memory maintenance.
According to the MIND diet, eating any other portion of vegetables as part of your weekly diet can also play a crucial role.
Despite this, though, experts do say that diets are not a “cure-all”, and should be followed as a suggestion rather than a solid solution.
Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center and at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens said: “It may be prudent to follow such diets even with suggestive, rather than proven, evidence regarding their cognitive benefits.”
Nutrient packed leafy greens to incorporate into your diet:
- Microgreens such as herbs
- Romaine Lettuce
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