The diet that can beat dementia

Avoiding cognitive impairment -- and, ultimately, dementia and Alzheimer's disease -- means avoiding the worst of the carbs while getting in on the best healthy fats and proteins.

As it happens, there's one diet that already combines all three -- and it's a diet that's proven to beat dementia before. It's the Mediterranean diet, rich in fatty fish and lean meats and loaded with nuts, oils, and "good" carbs in the form of delicious whole grains.

And if you want proof this diet can protect you from dementia, just check out the research:

  • A 2006 study found that people who stick to a Mediterranean diet have a 40 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  • A 2009 study found that people who stick closest to the Mediterranean diet have a 28 percent lower risk of mild cognitive impairment, while people who follow it less rigidly can still cut the risk by 17 percent.
  • In that same study, patients on the Mediterranean diet who already had signs of mild cognitive impartment were 48 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than patients with MCI who didn't follow the diet.
  • In 2010, researchers found people on a Mediterranean Diet are 36 percent less likely to have the brain infarcts caused by undiagnosed strokes. These infarcts can lead to vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease itself.

Given that the Mediterranean diet can also help prevent more significant strokes as well as heart disease and diabetes, it's tempting to call it a no-brainer. But really, there's nothing "no-brained" about it at all -- because this is one diet that's all brain.