MIND diet is high in vegetarian food and low in meat and saturated fat and prevents dementia and Alzheimer's

What you eat affects the health of every part of your body, including your brain. Would you change your diet if it could keep your brain young and help prevent Alzheimer’s?

One of the healthiest diets is the Mediterranean diet. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and olive oil. It is low in meat, eggs, dairy, sugar and saturated fat and moderate in fish. It can also include moderate red wine. A review of five studies found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s by 33% (J Alzheimers Dis 2014;39(2):271-82).

A recent study confirmed these exciting results. It looked at the diets of 511 people whose average age was 74.  They found that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, specifically, people who more closely followed the diet had significantly better verbal ability. The study found a key role for eating more green leafy vegetables and less red meat (Experimental Gerontology December 2020;142:111117).

Recent research in cognition has experimented with combining the Mediterranean diet with the high blood pressure beating DASH diet. Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains and poor in saturated fat sources like meat and dairy.

The MIND diet focuses on plant based foods and lowers animal based meat and saturated fats as well as sweets. Researchers developed the diet by analyzing the Mediterranean and DASH diets and selecting the foods with the strongest evidence for preventing dementia. Once again, they found that green leafy vegetables were at the top of the list.

When the researchers tried following older adults for 4.7 years, they discovered that the MIND diet significantly slows cognitive decline. Those who most closely followed the MIND diet had brains that were the equivalent of being 7.5 years younger (Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Sep;11(9):1015-22)!

The MIND diet recommends eating green leafy vegetables at least 6 times a week along with at least one other serving of vegetables every day. It recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains a day  and at least 2 servings of berries a week, 3 of beans and 5 of nuts. Red meats (beef, pork and lamb), cheese, butter, stick margarine, sweets and fast and fried foods are limited. Fish can be eaten once a week and poultry twice. The diet emphasized olive oil and allows a little wine.

A 4.5 year study of 923 people between 58 and 98 found that people who most closely followed the MIND diet had a 53% reduced rate of Alzheimer’s (Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Sep;11(9):1007-14). That might merit a change in menu.


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For much more on healthy eating for cognition and memory, see Linda’s newest cookbook, The All-New Vegetarian Passport Cookbook, a complete cookbook and health book in one.
For comprehensive natural help with cognition, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven nowLinda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.

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