With the variety of popular diets touting specific benefits, there is one brain-centric option that researchers believe provides a better option for a healthy brain and body in the MIND diet. An aptly named acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, this diet combines the ideals of whole and natural foods and those lower in sodium, benefiting both the brain and heart.
The purpose of the MIND diet, as developed by Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center epidemiologist Martha Claire Morris, ScD, was to create an easy-to-follow diet plan that also lowers the risk of developing dementia. The MIND diet focuses on consuming 10 healthy food types regularly, while avoiding five specific unhealthy food categories.
Put these healthy foods at the top of your grocery list for meal planning:
- Green leafy, vegetables
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
Add three servings of whole grains (whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, etc.) and a fresh salad to your daily routine. Grab a handful of nuts for a daily snack and a serving of berries, especially blueberries, at least twice a week. Every other day, add another fresh vegetable, especially green, leafy vegetables, like spinach, collards, kale and greens, and a serving of beans. At least twice per week, have a serving of poultry and once a week, fish. If desired, partake in one serving of wine per day.
Know Your Limits
Make an effort to limit or stop eating these unhealthy foods, consuming no more than one serving per week, excluding butter, which is only recommended to be a tablespoon or less per day:
- Fried food/fast food
- Red meats
Dr. Morris’ study results, which were funded by the National Institute on Aging, spanned nearly 10 years and followed more than 900 older adults. Participants who strictly adhered to the diet lowered their risk for developing dementia by as much as 53 percent.
The findings earned the MIND diet the third in the Best Diets Overall by U.S. News & World Report, falling after the diets it was derived from, the DASH and Mediterranean. Although Dr. Morris is a proponent for more studies, her latest results show the MIND diet to be superior in its prevention of cognitive decline.
The MIND diet offers a realistic set of guidelines for making healthier food choices with its evidence-based research suggesting that even moderate adherence to this diet may result in a protective benefit against dementia. However, it is important to remember that, as is the case with all diets, the foods that we tout for their brain-boosting powers have to be consumed in conjunction with other lifestyle choices to truly have a benefit, like consistent cardiovascular exercise, socialization, cognitive stimulation and spiritual connection.