The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and has been shown to improve brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As we age, the threat of developing Alzheimer’s increases. Although the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, researchers are working diligently to uncover more information to combat this life-changing condition.
What we do know is that there are effective ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And there is something you do every day that can make a difference: eating well.
Diet plays a large role in our overall health, so it’s no surprise that a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But you can’t just eat anything. In fact, you should stick to one main diet to slash your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a significant 53 percent, research shows.
MIND diet may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
It might sound like a pun, but if you want to protect your memory, you have to enjoy the MIND diet – Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. If that’s a mouthful to say, just stick to MIND.
The findings, published in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, revealed that the MIND diet may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent if followed strictly.
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet – both have shown to boost memory and heart health. What makes the MIND diet more effective for dementia prevention is that it takes the key pieces from both the Mediterranean and DASH diet and combined them into one comprehensive plan – the best of the best.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who developed the diet, looked at more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98 who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. They found 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.
Genetics and other factors like exercise, education, and smoking also play a role, but the MIND diet helped slow the rate of cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s regardless of other risks.
The MIND diet: What to eat?
So what exactly would you need to eat to enjoy the MIND diet and receive the memory-enhancing benefits? Below are guidelines for following the MIND diet.
- Three servings of whole grains each day
- Six servings of leafy greens a week, along with one other vegetable daily
- Two servings of berries a week
- One serving of fish a week
- Two servings of poultry a week
- Three servings of legumes a week
- Five servings of nuts a week
- A daily serving of alcohol, preferably wine (red wine is best for its overall health benefits!)
Olive oil is also widely accepted when it comes to the MIND diet and is used in most cooking.
Note that berries – especially blueberries – are the fruit of choice here, given mounting research about the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection offered by their phytonutrients. We’ve heard a lot, too, about the health-boosting powers of nuts and fish.
When it comes to limitations, sweets, fried foods, butter or margarine and red meat are consumed at a minimum – less than five times a week.
Simple MIND diet meal plan
To start off your day with the MIND diet, you should choose to eat whole grain cereal like steel-cut oats with some nuts and berries. Blueberries, in particular, have been found to boost memory the best.
For lunch, you may choose to opt for whole grain pasta with plenty of veggies and some grilled salmon. Don’t be afraid to incorporate lots of herbs in your lunch meal as they are loaded with antioxidants that work to protect your brain.
Lastly, dinner may consist of a quinoa stir fry with vegetables, leafy greens, and olive oil.
Now that you have some MIND diet meal planning out of the way, you can start protecting your brain and memory through your diet.
Seems difficult? Even if you can’t adhere to the diet fully, researchers found that moderately following the diet reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 35 percent.
We’ve heard that healthy eating protects your heart – and now we know that the right foods can do the same for your brain. If you’re looking to protect your mind, the easiest way to do so is through diet. Even small changes in the right direction can lead to positive outcomes. Healthy eating really is the premise of good health. By fueling our body right, we can reap the benefits these nutritious foods have to offer.
Related: MIND and Mediterranean diets associated with preserved cognitive ability later in life