We’ve been taught for generations about the importance of putting good food into our bodies. When you were growing up you probably heard at least one adult say, “you are what you eat.” Unbelievably, the expression didn’t come from some school lunch program. One of the earliest examples occurred in 1826, when French lawyer and politician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Brillat-Savarin gained fame for his study of food and culture and along with another French lawyer founded the genre of gastronomic essay. Just in case we didn’t get the message, in 1863, German philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote, “Man is what he eats.” Finally, in the 1920s and 1930s, nutritionist Victor Lindlahr developed the Catabolic Diet and he wrote, “Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.” But, it wasn’t until 1942 when Lindlahr published “You Are What You Eat: how to win and keep health with diet,” that the phrase began to gain ground. In a 2010 article, Dr. David Katz wrote, “Just as our homes are made from lumber without looking like trees, our bodies are made from the nutrients we extract from foods without resembling those foods.” Katz goes on to say that because our bodies lose billions of cell per day, our bodies are literally manufactured out of the foods we consume. Katz went on to say, “Our forks—and our feet—are the master levers of medical destiny.”
Want another great reason to eat healthy? According to some researchers, your food choices today may determine your odds of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that people who stuck to a diet with berries, leafy greens and fish had a major drop in their risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. That diet is called the MIND diet.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and like its name suggests takes some of its cues from both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. Where it differs from those diets is in its inclusion of foods that medical literature and data show to be good for the brain. One of the top foods in the MIND diet is berries, specifically strawberries and blueberries. One study found that people who stuck to the MIND diet dropped their risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by 54 percent. Even those who only followed the diet sometimes cut their risk by about 35 percent. That’s a difference from those who followed the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet who saw almost no drop at all.
The MIND diet focuses on nutritious whole foods so it’s not just good for your brain, it’s good for your heart and overall health. The MIND diet consists of:
- At least three servings of whole grains a day
- A salad and one other vegetable a day
- A glass of wine a day
- A serving of nuts a day
- Beans every other day
- Poultry and berries at least twice a week
- Fish at least once a week
- Limiting of unhealthy-brain foods, especially butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese, and fast or fried food
Even though diet plays a tremendous role in your health, people looking to avoid Alzheimer’s must also get regular exercise and control their stress.