The MIND Diet

Want to support your brain health? The MIND diet is a delicious dietary pattern shown to slow dementia and preserve brain power.

The MIND Diet - what to eat

Cognition is something a lot of us don’t pay too much mind to (pun intended) — until it’s too late.

It’s like wearing sunscreen or flossing. Some of us (guilty) grew up blissfully unconcerned about either until those wrinkles and cavities starting showing up. Then all of a sudden you find yourself sporting a fedora 24/7 and carrying around a full dental kit in your handbag — just me?

What I previously failed to acknowledge with those two practices, and what is becoming ever apparent with most health and wellness concepts, is that prevention is key.

Sure, we can take precautions to avoid further damage, but wouldn’t it be nice to have prevented or reduced the damage to begin with?

I’ve learned from those lessons though and am striving to be better in other areas of my health where I still have time. One of those is brain health.

Cognition, aka the ability to think, learn, remember, etc., reduces normally with age. However, lifestyle habits can increase the rate of normal decline. Additionally, some people are predisposed to cognitive disorders which also speed up that rate of decline.

If this deterioration gets bad enough, and begins to interfere with a person’s activities of daily living (e.g. bathing, eating, getting around), then it becomes known as dementia — the most common of which is caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The risk of dementia is one in three for adults 65+ and jumps to about 50% by age 90.

There is hope though. While Alzheimer’s disease is currently incurable, recent research has shown that there are things we can do to delay dementia and to support healthy brain functioning.

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The MIND Diet, aka Mediterranean DASH-diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, is a combination of two well-established healthy diets. One is the Mediterranean Diet, which has shown promise in reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The other is the DASH diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which is effective in reducing high blood pressure.

It just so happens that in addition to addressing the aforementioned health concerns, these two diets also show promise in preventing cognitive decline. Researchers at Rush University and Harvard decided to put them together and see what would happen.

The results of two large, multi-year studies revealed that the MIND diet is associated with significantly slower cognitive decline and a 50% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Even a little adherence to the diet is beneficial. One of the studies showed that while closest adherence to the diet resulted in a 53% decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, moderate adherence still showed a 35% reduced risk.

The best part — this “diet” isn’t bizarre, demanding, or unappetizing. The MIND diet is in line with all of the most evidence-based dietary recommendations for overall health and is full of delicious food.

My friend Maggie Moon, MS, RDN recently wrote a book about it called The Mind Diet: A Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function and Helping Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. If you’re interested in learning more about the MIND diet, enter to WIN her new book below.

Want to start protecting your brain right now? Here are the MIND diet recommendations:

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As you can see, this so-called “diet” isn’t strict at all. There’s still room for the bi-weekly indulgence, a little butter, and even a juicy steak. In fact, your current eating habits may already meet these suggestions.

Plus, any meal plan that makes room for red wine is A OK in my book!

Keep in mind though that a glass of wine is 5 oz. Measure it out, it’s less than you may naturally pour. The research makes it very clear that this amount is key — no more, no less.

I will add a caveat though, other health concerns may trump the benefits of consuming wine each day. If you have a family history of addiction or breast cancer, this may not be a good choice for you. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian.

To learn more, and WIN Maggie’s new book, simply comment below with your favorite MIND diet foodI will randomly select a winner next Wednesday.

FYI, November is National Alzheimer’s Disease and Awareness Month. If you’re interested in raising awareness, visit the Alzheimer’s Association to learn about ways to help out >>

Weigh In: Have you heard of the MIND diet? What are you doing to support your brain health? What’s your favorite MIND diet food?

Comments

  1. A Diet that recommends a glass of wine a night is my kind of diet!!

  2. Love this! I’m all for preventative, holistic eating. Thanks for posting, Whitney!

  3. Leafy green veggies are my favorite!

  4. Um, is it bad to say wine?! Thanks for the chance to win, because dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease run in both sides of my family.

  5. I’ve been following a Mediterranean-based way of eating for awhile, and I love basing my meals around fresh fruits and vegetables (especially when they come directly from local farmers). One of my favorite foods, which is not listed in the above chart but is rich in Omega-3, is avocado. From the above list, I would probably choose berries as my favorite, though I do love almost everything on the list!

  6. Amanda Howard says:

    Great post Whitney! Such an important topic & so much great information.

  7. I love berries and chicken. A must at least together or separate twice a week. Would love to read this book.

  8. Wow so interesting and seems like a diet that is easy to follow.

  9. I love berries and fish!

  10. I am a huge fan of leafy green vegetables and berries. Throw them together to make a smoothie. I am very interested in the MIND diet because I have family members who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, preventative measures are always a good tactic.

  11. Love this article! My Grandma was just diagnosed with Dementia, so I would love to start following this guide and share with my family! I love berries and nuts!

  12. Whitney, thanks for another helpful article! Your blog has encouraged me to stay on track with developing healthy eating habits. Among other life-style habits, consuming nutritious food is definitely key to keeping the mind healthy! So, thanks to Maggie Moon for writing “The MIND diet” and you for putting us on track to it. Nuts and berries are my favorite healthy treats, but having a go at some scrumptious, healthy-made pastries with a warm cup of herbal tea still remains a competing alternative for me from time to time. 🙂

  13. Good to know. Any det that promotes healthy food while not restricting to the extreme, is decent in my books!
    Stacey O, RD recently posted…Sweet Potato Herb & Spice FriesMy Profile

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