How the MIND Diet Feeds the Brain

Fruits and VegYou may already be aware that your lifestyle and dietary choices can help contribute to good health and better quality of life as you age. But did you know that eating or avoiding certain foods can lead to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s by a whopping 53%?

A recent study from Rush University demonstrated that subjects who stuck to a specific food plan – the MIND diet – experienced up to a 53% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, while people who followed the diet only part of the time still lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s by 35%. This strongly suggests that what we eat can significantly impact on our cognitive health.

The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and is based on the popular Mediterranean and DASH diets (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) which have, respectively, been successfully shown to support good heart health and healthy blood pressure.

The MIND diet takes the best of both the Mediterranean and DASH approaches and emphasizes foods with proven links to improved cognitive health, such as those with high vitamin E or omega-3 content. Green leafy vegetables and berries are important components of the MIND diet. The diet also recommends limiting options that may negatively impact brain health, such as trans fats, fried foods and large amounts of red meat.

One of the more encouraging findings of this study is that you don’t need to follow the diet perfectly in order to experience the benefits. However, the study subjects who stuck closest to the diet did show the most significant reduction in Alzheimer’s risk. The good news is that the MIND diet’s focus on 10 healthy whole foods and 5 unhealthy foods to avoid is easy to understand and implement. Incorporating the MIND approach as part of a healthful lifestyle can help reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s, but also contributes to other positive outcomes such as improved heart health, blood pressure and weight management, and general overall health.

Rush University Medical Center’s news article about this study, Diet May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s, includes information about the diet’s components. The published paper on this study can be found online at Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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