The People's Perspective on Medicine

Ward Off Cognitive Decline with Vegetables, Whole Grains, Nuts and Legumes

If you want to reduce your likelihood of developing dementia, it turns out you should pay attention to what is on your plate. A study of senior citizens in Cache County, Utah, began in 1995 and lasted 11 years. The participants’ eating habits were assessed four times during the study. When the investigators analyzed the dietary patterns, they found that people eating a diet similar to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) scored higher on a cognitive test. So did those whose diets followed a Mediterranean-style eating pattern. The differences were consistent over time, and though they were small, they were statistically significant.

Both DASH and Mediterranean diets are heavy on vegetables and fruits and contain whole grains and legumes. The Mediterranean style diet has more fat in the form of nuts and olive oil, while the DASH diet features more low-fat dairy products. Both diets are low in red meat and contain minimal processed foods. Moderate alcohol consumption is usually included in scoring the Mediterranean diet pattern, but since the vast majority of the Cache County seniors are Mormons, they don’t drink. On the other hand, they also don’t smoke, so neither alcohol nor tobacco use confounded the results. The investigators conclude that diets rich in whole grains, nuts and legumes seem to offer long-lasting cognitive benefits.

[American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online Sept 18, 2013]

Are you interested in eating a DASH diet or following the Mediterranean plan, but confused about how to do so? We have descriptions, practical recommendations and delicious recipes in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, from National Geographic.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Geez, anybody who doesn’t know by now that the Mediterranean Diet increases vim, vigor, mental acuity and longevity must have been living under a rock. The Mediterranean diet, antioxidants like Co-Q-10, and EXERCISE: that’s the golden trifecta. It’s always good to say it one more time, but TOO BAD the obese souls who line up for curly fries, elephant ears and fried Mars Bars (I’m quivering with disgust here) are the ones who need to have this info driven into their thick skulls — but fat chance they’ll ever read the Peoples Pharmacy or other such websites. What a shame, what a shame.
Anyway, keep putting out the good info, PP, and let’s hope some of it somehow “trickles down” to those who so urgently need it. Thank you.

Thank you, People’s Pharmacy, for presenting such useful information and research. Agreed wholeheartedly, what we put in our bodies makes a massive difference in our health (along with, as Aging well points out, attitude and activities).
As someone who has done a lot of research on nutrition to heal from some significant health issues, I’d just like to say there is a world of difference between dairy and red meat (and any animal products, for that matter) that has been raised as they were designed. For cows, that is grass-fed and grass-finished (no grains), and, of course none of the pharmaceuticals of conventionally raised cows. Fermented raw whole milk and grass-fed beef are healthy for you and have been part of my healing.

My Dad was Swiss and loved cheese and meat (and ice cream). He stopped eating butter and took cholesterol drugs. When he passed away at age 87, he was slightly less sharp. He had several eschemic (spelling?) strokes and didn’t wake one morning. We noticed he was less angry and hard driving as he aged.
My Mom was always a little bit ditzy. My Dad, a PhD in Chemistry would always get frustrated with her inability to make a decision. She was always into good health, happy, active and healthy eating. She was physically active in the garden, played tennis, took ‘healthy bones classes’ at the library later in life and she read all the time. She lived until age 93 in relative good health. Her finances were completely in order. Her last bill, received the day before she died was paid. Her house was in order, she stayed in touch with her 8 grand children and she was completely with it! She would say she couldn’t hear us, but actually she heard whatever she seemed to want to.
The slight difference I observed was that my Dad had some cognitive decline and Mom did not. It was inspiring to watch them age so well and I am very confident that eliminating high fat milk and meat products was key to Mom’s good brain health… in addition to other things. I’m currently following Dr. Esselstyn’s and Collin Campbell’s recommendation for no meat, no milk, no fat, Plant Strong eating.
I find it compelling when they ask… If food either heals us or kills us. Which are we choosing today?

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