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IKF Blog
Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How the MIND diet can help protect your brain

Can your diet reduce your risk of developing memory problems later in life? Researchers at Rush University Medical Center found in a recent study that an eating regimen known as the MIND diet may help to slow cognitive decline. The more closely the subjects followed the diet, the better their cognitive abilities appeared to be.

The full name of the MIND diet is the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. As you can probably tell from the name, the MIND diet is based on the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approach to Systolic Hypertension) diets. Those diets were proven to lower the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke but had not been evaluated in relation to brain health. The researchers developed the MIND diet using food components that have been shown to be neuroprotective.

The participants in the study were asked to choose foods from 10 brain-healthy food groups and avoid or limit foods from five other food groups. Included on the daily diet were at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable and nuts for snacks. They ate a serving of beans every other day, poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week, and they were allowed a daily glass of wine. They were asked to avoid or limit included red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, sweets and fried or fast food.

The researchers evaluated cognitive changes in 960 adults averaging 81.4 years old who did not show symptoms of dementia at the beginning of the 4.7-year study. The participants filled out questionnaires to record their food intake and were tested annually for cognitive ability in five areas. The scientists compared cognitive decline with how closely the subjects adhered to the diet.

They found that the MIND diet was positively associated with slower declines in the subjects’ overall cognitive scores and in each of the five cognitive abilities. Those who scored highest in MIND diet adherence had cognitive test scores that were equivalent to being 7.5 years younger than those who scored lowest.

“The study findings suggest that the MIND diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age,” the researchers wrote. They acknowledged that more research is needed to verify the diet’s relevance to brain health.

The study was published in the September 2015 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.


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