MIND Diet for Reducing Memory Loss Risk
Whether mentioned in a health class in school or the reason behind parents vetoing the second Twinkies you craved, we have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” For our health and well-being, we understand it is important to watch the food we ingest. Granted, we know the importance of avoiding saturated fat in bacon cheeseburgers, high sodium in beef jerky and sugar-laden cotton candy in order to promote our heart health. But what about protecting our brain from memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease? Is it possible? By following the MIND diet, you actually can eat foods that boost brain health and thus decrease your risk of memory loss.
What is the MIND Diet?
The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a mash-up of two diets: the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The Mediterranean diet was created to encourage heart health, and the DASH diet was designed to control high blood pressure.
A Rush University study originally funded by the National Institute on Aging decided to investigate the merits of combining the two diets to create the MIND diet. The group, led by Nutritional Epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, wanted to test the theory that certain foods reduced memory loss. For the MIND diet, the group decided to rely on plant-based foods and limit saturated fat, red meat and anything sweet, and then evaluate study participants over the span of five years.
By way of analyzing food logs of more than 900 older adults in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, the researchers discovered that individuals who followed the MIND diet reduced their risk of memory loss or developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. Participants who didn’t follow the principles of the basic MIND diet in the strictest sense still managed to reduce their risk by 35 percent.
For the older adults eating vegetables, especially leafy greens and plenty of berries, the Rush group learned their brains were as sharp as those more than seven years younger.
What to Eat on the MIND Diet
As the researchers at Rush University discovered, MIND dieters only need to incorporate a couple of the suggestions below to reap the benefits of brain health improvement. As an added bonus, people who follow the MIND diet find it easier to stay on track due in part to its flexibility.
- Make sure to eat green leafy vegetables at least six times a week and other vegetables at least once a day.
- Eat nuts at least five times a week.
- Limit pastries or sweets to five times a week.
- Make sure to have less than four servings of red meat each week.
- Consume beans more than three times every week.
- Eat at least three servings of whole grains every day.
- Make sure to have poultry and berries at least twice a week.
- Limit fried or fast food, as well as any cheese serving, to less than once a week.
- Eat fish at least once a week.
- Make sure to cook mainly with olive oil, and limit butter and margarine to less than a tablespoon per day.
Please do not make any changes to your diet before consulting your physician.
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