By Dr. Nora DeVoe, Ph.D.
Geriatric Care Manager


More On The MIND Diet

The MIND diet is a healthy, evidence-based way to eat designed to help prevent Alzheimer's disease and delay cognitive decline. The two key MIND diet studies show how the diet keeps the aging brain approximately seven and a half years younger and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by over 50%.

The MIND diet is a selection of the most brain healthy foods from two well-established healthy diets, supported by what we currently know from nutrition and dementia research.

MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It has ranked second only to the DASH diet as the best overall diet by U.S. News and World Reports 2016 "Best Diet Rankings." Top ranked diets have to be easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, and protective against diabetes and heart disease. The MIND diet does all that and hones in on foods that specifically benefit brain health.

The MIND diet is made up of 15 components, including 10 brain healthy food types to consume and five brain harming ones to avoid. The healthy food groups are whole grains, vegetables in general, green, leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, berries, poultry, fish, olive oil, and wine. The harmful food groups are butter and stick margarine, whole fat cheese, fried fast foods, red meat, and pastries and sweets.

Earning the top MIND diet score of 15 means eating at least three servings of whole grains, one serving of vegetables, and one glass of wine each day; in addition, it means eating leafy greens nearly every day (at least 6 times a week), nuts most days of the week, beans about every other day, berries twice a week, poultry twice a week, fish once a week, and using olive oil as the main oil. Finally, it means limiting as much as possible the foods that are not great for brain health, but definitely consuming less than 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine a day, pastries and sweets fewer than 5 times a week, red meat fewer than 4 times a week, less than one serving of whole fat cheese each week, and fried fast foods less than once a week. Meeting each of these requirements earns one point each, adding up to a total possible score of 15.

It is worth noting that the MIND diet is less demanding than either the Mediterranean or DASH diets, with fewer required servings of fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables, and no emphasis on dairy or limits on total fat. The MIND diet is also different because it specifically recommends green, leafy vegetables as well as other vegetables, but does not have a fruit recommendation other than a specific recommendation for berries, such as blueberries, pomegranates, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

The MIND diet's benefits to cognitive health make sense when considering the evidence-based approach to selecting its antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods, which protect the brain and make it harder for damaging plaques to form. Removing the brain harming foods may be just as, if not more important, since eating too much of them damages the blood brain barrier and promotes the formation of damaging beta-amyloid plaques.

Next time we will overview how the two healthy diets combine to make one smart diet and how the MIND diet actually slows cognitive decline.

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Nora DeVoe is a Gerontologist specializing in Eldercare and Caregiver issues. She may be reached at (716) 667-7299.  

Dr. Nora is a ....