MIND Diet for Better Brain Aging
Does a healthy eating pattern preserve
brain function with aging? An important new study hopes to provide clues.
Some studies suggest that a dietary pattern including berries helps to slow mental decline with aging.
Currently available medical treatments for age-related
cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease have had limited success. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle has been among the most consistent recommendations to maintain brain health over the long term. Some studies have linked an overall healthy dietary
pattern to less chance of experiencing age-related decline in memory and other cognitive skills.
What is the MIND Diet? The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet pattern and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, combined with mild caloric restriction. In some studies, these approaches
have shown potential to support brain health with aging.
Like the Mediterranean pattern and the DASH diet, MIND emphasizes minimally processed plant-based foods and limited
consumption of animal foods relatively high in saturated fat. But the MIND diet also tweaks the Mediterranean/DASH patterns to favor particular foods and food groups shown in previous research to be potentially brain protective. “It’s the first
clinical trial designed specifically to establish whether a diet can prevent brain degeneration,” says Martha Clare Morris, PhD, the researcher at Rush leading the trial.
MIND diet recommends eating certain foods a specific number of times a day or week. The diet specifies targeted servings of 10 healthy foods, namely whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and berries, and maximum allowed servings of 5 unhealthy foods, notably
pastries and red meat.
There’s evidence from observational studies that MIND could be brain-protective. For over 20 years, Rush researchers have followed a group of
older adults living in retirement communities and senior public housing units in the Chicago area, average age 81. One of many studies based on this epidemiological data, published in 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, reported that adhering closely
to the MIND diet was associated with 53% less risk of Alzheimer's diesease. Even moderate adherence came with a 35% lower risk.
The Mind Diet
MIND diet includes the following components:
- Whole grains: at least 3 servings/day
- Green leafy vegetables: at least 6 servings/week
- Other vegetables: at least 1 serving/day
- Berries: at least 2 servings/week
- Fish: at least 1 serving/week
- Poultry: at least 2 servings/week
- Beans: more than 3 servings/week
- Nuts: at least 5 servings/week
- Olive oil as primary plant oil
- Alcohol (wine): 1 serving/day
Limit intake of:
- Butter/margarine: less than 1 pat per day
- Cheese: less
than a 1 ounce serving/week
- Pastries/sweets: less than 5 servings/week
food: less than 1 serving/week
- Red/processed meats: less than 4 servings/week