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.
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.
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.
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:
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 food. I 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?