The MIND diet
Are you looking for a diet that is right for you? I don’t typically recommend people follow “diets”, but when you hear about the MIND diet you will understand why I think it’s great. First of all, this isn’t yet another fad diet developed by someone with no nutrition or science background. The MIND diet is a researched-based diet developed by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, IL. This diet has been rated Best Diet overall and easiest to follow for 2016 by US News and World Report.
First of all, the MIND diet is not intended for weight loss. It is a combination of 2 diets, the Mediterranean and DASH diets (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) with modifications placing emphasis on foods that have been linked by previous research to improve cognitive function and delay decline. MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a diet for brain health and has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The MIND Diet emphasizes foods shown to support a healthy brain. It recommends including the following:
• Green Leafy vegetables: eat every day (kale, spinach, collards and romaine)
• Other vegetables: at least once per day
• Nuts: every day
• Berries: at least twice per week (especially blueberries and strawberries)
• Beans: every other day
• Whole grains: three times per day
• Fish: at least once per week
• Poultry: at least twice per week
• Olive oil
• Wine: one glass per day
The MIND Diet recommends limiting these potentially damaging choices:
• Red Meat
• Butter and stick margarine: less than 1 Tbsp per day
• Cheese: less than one serving per week
• Pastries and sweets: limit
• Fried or fast foods: less than one serving per week
Those in the study who adhered to the diet had a 53% reduction of risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. In order to establish a cause and effect relationship between the diet and reduction of risk or Alzheimer’s disease, the results need to be confirmed by randomized trials.
A diet that is good for the blood vessels will be protective against vascular dementia. There are also certain foods and food components that have been shown to slow cognitive decline, lower risk for AD, decrease amyloid in the brain, neuron loss in animal studies, or decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
Vitamin E (found in nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, plant oils) is a potent antioxidant strongly associated with brain health.
Omega-3 fats (DHA in particular) from fatty fish such as salmon, trout, arctic char, sardines and herring, are important for synaptic proteins in the brain. DHA is an important fat in the brain structure. It leads to faster synaptic transmissions and less oxidative stress.
B Vitamins, folate, vitamin C and D have all been studied for their benefit to brain health and helping neurons cope with aging.
Berries have been shown to decrease neuron loss and improve memory performance.
The right balance of fats, (less trans and saturated and more poly and monounsaturated fats) have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Eating a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants and omega 3 fats is a brain healthy way of eating.