Stroke can affect the various cognitive domains negatively; there can be a decline in social cognition, attention, language, and memory. It can be said that when a person is diagnosed with stroke his executive and attention functions are affected more as compared to memory. It is common to experience a cognitive decline after a stroke. It can also lead to Post-stroke depression (PSD) and it comprises any type of dementia that can be experienced after a stroke. Various factors need to be considered to understand the severity of cognitive decline after a stroke. Factors like stroke’s severity, type, and location can be taken into consideration to understand the level of severity. Although the cognitive decline after a stroke cannot be stopped, however, you can delay the effects of stroke on memory for some time with the help of a diet known as the mind diet.
What is the mind diet and how it works?
Mind diet refers to Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet. It is a combination of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet which focuses on low sodium intake and the Mediterranean diet which focuses on the intake of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein (lean). Both diets individually have shown improvement in heart conditions, high blood pressure, and help with cognitive health by protecting the brain and delaying the damage. Mind diet is beneficial for people who have suffered from a stroke and also delays the development of any type of dementia after stroke. The diet includes a list of foods to be avoided to ensure good health of the brain as consumption of those foods can worsen the brain condition and it promotes the consumption of foods that have shown positive effects on cognitive health according to the research done. People who suffer a stroke are more likely to go through cognitive decline and develop dementia. It can be said that stroke survivors’ brain ages faster and people who experience multiple strokes are at high risk of developing dementia. A study concluded that around 20% of people who suffered a stroke can develop dementia within 9-10 years of their stroke. Hence it is necessary to understand the importance of proper food and nutrition as it can delay cognitive decline to a good extent. Some studies have also pointed out that diet can be beneficial in preventing primary as well as secondary stroke as a healthy diet is necessary for good cardiovascular health.
The mind diet focuses on the intake of whole foods and restricts the intake of foods that can lead to inflammation in the body. It also aims to decrease oxidative stress in the body and promotes overall healing in the body. To ensure maximum benefit of the diet it is necessary to incorporate the following foods in your diet:
- Leafy Greens
It is advised to consume around six servings of leafy green vegetables in a week. You can consume more if possible, however, at least six servings are necessary. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, collards, radish greens, and lettuce are considered to be brain-boosting foods as, they are high in essential nutrients like folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K, and many other nutrients that are said to promote cognitive health.
Other non-starchy vegetables should also be consumed every day. It is necessary to include one serving of nutrient-dense and less caloric vegetables daily.
- Olive oil
Olive oil is necessary for following a mind diet. It is used as the cooking oil and for salad dressing as well. Some researchers concluded that extra virgin olive oil can delay the decline of cognitive health and improve brainpower. It also reduces the risk of developing brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Olive oil can be considered a superfood for the brain and should be used as major cooking oil while following the mind diet.
- All kinds of berries
The mind diet encourages the consumption of all kinds of berries like blueberries, goji berries, strawberries, acai berries, and raspberries. It is recommended to eat berries twice or thrice a week. They are loaded with antioxidants and contain a flavonoid that may reduce inflammation. Berries can also help the brain in dealing with oxidative stress and reduce the risk of depression. It can promote the brain cells to form new connections and also improve memory.
- Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds can be considered a great alternative to unhealthy snacking. They contain antioxidants that can protect the brain from oxidative stress and also contains omega 3 fatty acids which can improve brain functioning. Some nuts also contain selenium which can reduce inflammation and help with anxiety and depression. It can also prevent cell damage. Hence consuming at least five to six servings of nuts in a week can improve the key functions of the brain.
- Whole grains
Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, barley, and whole wheat bread are good for your brain health and provide you with energy for a long time. These grains are a good source of B vitamins and other nutrients which can be beneficial in reducing inflammation. Whole grains are also rich in fiber which can help in maintaining overall health. It is advised to consume 3-4 servings of whole grains every day.
Various other foods like legumes and wine are also suggested for better brain health. These foods when taken regularly in the required amount can boost your brain health.
Now let us look at the food items that are restricted according to the mind diet. The diet limits the intake of dairy products like cheese, margarine, and butter only. It also advises avoiding eating fried food or fast food, red meat, and foods with high sugar or salt content as consumption of these foods can increase inflammation and oxidative stress. According to some studies conducted such foods also contain saturated fats and trans fats which can lead to heart complications and brain diseases as well.