Follow Mediterranean Diet For Better Memory

Why do people on a Mediterranean diet have lower rates of dementia? Learn how their brain scans show fewer problems. Get the diet’s basics.

A Mediterranean diet may help people avoid the small areas of brain damage that can lead to problems with thinking and memory, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that people who ate a Mediterranean-like diet were less likely to have brain infarcts, or small areas of dead tissue linked to thinking problems. (An infarct happens when blood passage is slowed or completely blocked by clotting.)

The Mediterranean diet is based on balancing an intake of healthy foods.

High intake of:

  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • fruits
  • cereals
  • fish
  • monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil;

Low intake of:

  • saturated fatty acids
  • dairy products
  • meat
  • poultry
  • mild to moderate amounts of alcohol.

For the study, researchers assessed the diets of 712 people in New York and divided them into three groups based on how closely they were following the Mediterranean diet. Then they conducted MRI brain scans of the people an average of six years later. A total of 238 people had at least one area of brain damage.

Those who were most closely following a Mediterranean-like diet were 36 percent less likely to have areas of brain damage than those who were least following the diet. Those moderately following the diet were 21 percent less likely to have brain damage than the lowest group.

“The relationship between this type of brain damage and the Mediterranean diet was comparable with that of high blood pressure,” said study author Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MSc, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and a member of theAmerican Academy of Neurology. “In this study, not eating a Mediterranean-like diet had about the same effect on the brain as having high blood pressure.”

Previous research by Scarmeas and his colleagues showed that a Mediterranean-like diet may be associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may lengthen survival in people with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the present study, these associations may be partially explained by fewer brain infarcts.

Allergies are getting to me

Late summer allergies absolutely effect me. I woke up this morning with itchy watery eyes and it felt like there was a feather tickling the inside of my sinus cavities. Oh What a Beautiful Morning … not today. A crazy little thing called a neti pot can give quite a bit of relief. You fill the pot with lukewarm saline or salted water and do a nasal irrigation. It feels so strange at first,  tickles and a bit like drowning. Who would want to do that? Right? Well when you’re suffering and you just don’t want another pill this is worth a try. (Always check with a health professional first)

neti pot

Early testing is key


While we still don’t know the actual cause of Alzheimer’s disease early detection and treatment may slow the progress. At a conference I attended recently they recommended seeing a geriatric psychologist at the first sign of problems. Their tests seem to be the best at pin pointing what may be going on. Remember, not all dementia is Alzheimer’s, some may be suffering from depression or side effects of medications. Knowledge is power.


‘Water Club’ For Seniors Enhanced Wellbeing, Led To Fewer Falls And Better Hydration

I saw this article on Medical News Today and thought it was very worth reading.

The health benefits of ‘water clubs’ in care homes for the elderly, where residents gather together regularly to drink water, owe at least as much to the social nature of the activity as to the value of drinking water itself, an investigation by psychologists has shown.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), supports other findings that interventions aimed at improving individuals’ wellbeing and quality of life can be far more effective if they are carried out among groups of people in ways that generate a strong sense of group identity.

A team led by Professor Alex Haslam of the University of Exeter became interested in water clubs when one received widespread publicity. Small groups of residents in a care home met together to discuss the benefits of drinking more water and were encouraged to increase their intake of water. Members of the club reported enhanced wellbeing, fewer falls and better hydration than those who drank water alone.

“It is clear from this research and a series of other investigations that we have carried out that when people belong to a group, the sense of ‘us-ness’ that this creates plays a critically important role in processes of health and wellbeing,” said Professor Haslam. “We refer to this as ‘the social cure’,” collaborator Professor Catherine Haslam said, “and it is far more potent than many of the other treatments that are out there. Whether we are talking about stress, depression, or recovery from stroke, a supportive group life plays a critical role in a person’s clinical path.”

The researchers, together with another ESRC-funded researcher, Professor Jolanda Jetten, have published their findings in a book, ‘The Social Cure’, which brings together evidence from around the world showing how groups are central to health and wellbeing. “Humans are social animals – we have evolved for group life,” said Professor Jetten, co author of the book.

“Groups can boost our wellbeing but, at times, they can also drag us down and be a social curse. Precisely because group life is such an important determinant of health and wellbeing, we need to better understand these processes and dynamics” Professor Jetten concluded.

Preventing dehydration

Dehydration is a real problem for the elderly. It can lead to bladder infection, energy loss, mental confusion, and even hospitalization or death. How can you combat this? Pushing liquids may be easier said than done. So many of us have heard I’m not thirsty till we want to scream. An approach I often use is to remind my seniors that they don’t want a bladder infection or for their urine to smell strong. While you can’t actually force anyone drink more water, there are little flavored electrolyte tablets you can add that may make it more appealing. Or maybe you can make a bargain, for example, if you drink this glass of water I’ll make that dish you like so much for lunch, or play an extra game of cards this afternoon. Taking a little time and trying something different may seem like a hassle but a trip to the hospital would be far worse.

Turn challenges into opportunities for creativity

One assignment I recently had placed me in a home where I was asked to take care of an individual, run the vacuum and fix something for dinner. No problem, my client was as sweet as pie and the house was in good shape but when I went to the kitchen it was slim pickings. A few tired looking veggies, and some frozen mystery poultry pieces. I had some time so I got to work. Turkey veggie soup! I boiled up a turkey leg cut up just about everything I could find in the fridge and a few hours later… voila! Maybe some of the best and most nutritious soup I’ve ever made. Oh, and my client asked for seconds. Small accomplishment but I’ll take it.

Get out and enjoy your summer

This week I had a triumph. My client and I went for a roll around her neighborhood. Granted it took a lot of convincing to get her out of the house, but it was fun and good for both of us. Had my gal gotten up and actually walked it may have been better but I can’t help but feel that anything beats sitting in front of the TV all day.

I did have a little scare when a dog came running and barking ferociously at us, but my 94 year old client said be still and calm down. Well what do you know she was right, killer turned into sweetie pie and loved us both up like crazy. We didn’t change the world, I was the only one getting exercise, yet a little fresh air and sunshine did us both a world of good.