Morning Rounds: Taking action for good brain health

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 12:05:16-04

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. News 3 medical expertDr. Ryan Light explained the best strategies to ward off Alzheimer's and dementia on News 3 This Morning.

"Research shows that high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and vascular disease all increase risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life," explained Dr. Light.

"There is a close relationship between early development of high blood pressure and the risk of developing dementia later in life," he added. "This is due to high blood pressure damaging the vessels in the brain, leading to decreased oxygenation and blood supply to the brain [which causes] earlier onset dementia symptoms."

"The risk of dementia can be reduced by regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding unhealthy amounts of alcohol, and maintaining an ideal weight," Dr. Light said.

Dr. Light said the MIND diet lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 54 percent, and those who followed the diet only part of the time still cut their risk of the disease by about 35 percent.

The MIND diet, he said, recommends eating green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli and collards.  The diet also encourages eating nuts, which contain healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.  Additionally, he said studies have found nuts can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Berries are the only fruit specifically recommended in the MIND diet.  He added that beans are included because they are high in fiber and protein, and low in calories and fat.  He also explained that the diet also suggests eating three or more servings of whole grains daily.

Eating fish at least once a week and baked chicken twice a week, he added, helps protect brain function.

He stressed that consumption of olive oil has been shown to diminish cognitve decline, and about four ounces of red wine each day has also proven beneficial.