Memory Care Dining

Meals with Memory Care in Mind

We’ve all heard the old saying: You are what you eat. Turns out that statement not only applies to your heart, but to your memory and the health of your brain in general.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have evidence that eating certain types of food and avoiding others may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent.

A plan they developed — appropriately called the MIND Diet — breaks down its recommendations into 10 brain healthy food groups a person should eat and five “unhealthy food groups” to avoid. They tested their theory on more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98, who each filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. The results of their study, which was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, revealed that participants whose diets most closely followed the MIND recommendations had a level of cognitive function the equivalent of a person 7.5 years younger.

At Sunshine Retirement Communities, our chefs constantly work to accommodate each residents’ various desires and dietary restrictions. At the same time, they are working to incorporate foods from the MIND diet that foster brain health. Our goal is that the MIND diet, in conjunction with our many Memory Care programs, will help hold off memory issues for as long as possible.

Here is quick rundown of the 10 MIND Diet foods you will be seeing more of in our recipes:

  • Green leafy vegetables (like spinach and salad greens) – at least six servings a week
  • Other vegetables – at least one a day
  • Nuts – five servings a week
  • Berries – two or more servings a week
  • Beans – at least three servings a week
  • Whole grains – three or more servings a day
  • Fish – once a week
  • Poultry (like chicken or turkey) – two times a week
  • Olive oil – used as our main cooking oil
  • Wine (hurray!) – one glass a day

Now, here are the five food groups you will be seeing less frequently on our menus to reduce your risk of developing dementia:

  • Red meat – less than four servings a week
  • Butter and margarine – less than a tablespoon daily
  • Cheese – less than one serving a week
  • Pastries and sweets – less than five servings a week
  • Fried or fast food – less than one serving a week

The researchers say that even “modest adherence” to the MIND Diet can measurably reduce a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and the longer you stick with it, the greater the benefits. So we at Sunshine hope our adherence will leave a good taste in your mouth and have a positive influence on many, many minds.