What is the MIND Diet?
MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The positive benefits were seen from the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet led researchers to create a hybrid diet specifically to help improve brain function and prevent dementia.
“The MIND Diet encourages vegetables, berries, olive oil, nuts, whole grain, fish, beans, and poultry.“
The MIND Diet also means that people should eat less butter, margarine, red meat, fried food, sweets, and cheese.
“The MIND diet follows a healthy eating pattern high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein sources.”
About the Study
The researchers used data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), a longitudinal study. They studied autopsy data for 569 deceased people, which encompassed diet, cognitive testing, and dementia-related brain pathologies.
The researchers found an association between people who adhered to the MIND diet with better cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. This discovery was independent of whether there were any signs of Alzheimer’s or other brain diseases upon autopsy.
This suggests the MIND diet may protect against some of the cognitive loss associated with brain diseases. It also may help build cognitive resilience in older adults.
Why does the MIND diet help brain health?
Adults who follow the MIND diet have a slower overall rate of cognitive decline, which researchers say is equivalent to 7.5 years of younger age. This is due to the nutritious combination of foods promoted on the diet, which help reduce inflammation and preserve white matter in the brain. These aspects are linked to stronger cognitive benefits.
The MIND diet is rich in nutrients such as folate, vitamin E, lutein-zeaxanthin, and flavonoids. These nutrients are known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pro-cognition properties.
For example, green leafy vegetables and nuts contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects neurons from damage related to oxidative stress caused by free radicals. And berries help reverse neuronal aging by reducing oxidative stress.
All of the foods on the MIND diet work synergistically to protect brain health.
“The MIND diet is developed based on the Mediterranean and DASH diets but with modifications that emphasize foods for brain health, such as green leafy vegetables and berries. These foods are sources of vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which are nutrients related to the risk of dementia.”