The MIND Diet: It’s something that none of us want to imagine. There’s nothing scarier than the thought of losing your memory. Waking up one day to find that your most precious moments have simply slipped from your mind is u completely terrifying thought. Sadly, though, that could one day be a reality for a large number of us.
Here in the US, more than five million people are living and struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and every 66 seconds someone new gets it, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. These are rather shockingly high stats, I’m certain you’ll agree.
The aging process is something with which we will all have to cope one day. The least we can hope, though, is that we can maintain both our physical and mental faculties well into our golden years.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that after the age of 65 your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease are heightened. Just 200,000 people in the US who suffer from the illness are actually under 65 – after that age bracket, the numbers seem to soar.
So, what can you do to try to reduce your risk of being afflicted by this terrible disease? Well, it may surprise you to learn that what you eat can actually have a striking effect on your mental well-being.
The MIND Diet & Alzheimer’s
If you’re hoping to beat the disease, there is a little something that you may want to try. A new dieting technique developed by the Rush University Medical Center seeks to decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer’s in both earlier and later life.
The so-called MIND Diet (that stands for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a unique combination of the well-known Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet. According to recent research, this nutrition regime can not only help you stay healthy and in shape, but it can also help you avoid the onset of the disease.
Here’s the science! – MIND Diet Study
Of course, it’s all well and good simply telling you that this diet works to keep your mind healthy, but where’s the science to back it all up? Well, the good people at Rush University Medical Center worked for more than 20 years on this particular study*.
The researchers used 923 volunteers who had not yet got the onset of Alzheimer’s disease from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP) in Chicago. Each volunteer was given two annual medical checkups and asked to keep a dietary log between 2004 and 2013.
After taking the time to painstakingly review the results of the food logs and medical records, the researchers were able to come forward with some very intriguing findings. Volunteers who rigorously followed the MIND Diet decreased their risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by a massive 53%. What’s more, those who loosely followed the guidelines of the diet decreased their risk by 35%.
So, how does the MIND Diet work?
The MIND Diet works by putting food types into different categories. There are five categories of ‘unhealthy’ food types and a whopping ten of ‘brain healthy’ food types.
The basic idea of the MIND Diet is that you should eat more food from the ‘brain healthy’ categories than you do from the ‘unhealthy’ ones. It’s just a matter of monitoring what you eat on a day to day basis and changing it according to the category system.
It all sounds surprisingly simple, right? Well, it is. In fact, this particular diet has been ranked as one of the easiest to follow, and #3 overall diet and #4 for Best Diabetes Diets according to a U.S. News & World Report. This just edges out Weight Watchers, (#4 overall) while making diets like Nutrisystem (#16 overall) and the Medifast diet (#29 overall) not look so “smart.”
With the MIND Diet, there’s no calorie-counting or cutting out entire food groups. Instead, it’s all about eating different food groups in moderation. At its heart, it’s essentially maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. What could be easier than that?
The MIND Diet: Food Lists & guidelines
If you’re hoping to give the MIND Diet a go for yourself, it’s much easier than you may imagine. First of all, you need to know which food groups fall into the ‘brain healthy’ category. These are food which you should be eating on a regular basis – if only for the sake of your mental health! Some of them might even surprise you.
Here is the ‘brain healthy’ food list, and how often you should eat them:
- Whole grains – three servings per day
- Vegetables – one serving of leafy vegetables and one other per day
- Nuts – eat as a snack most days
- Poultry – two servings per week
- Red wine – one glass per day (hurrah!)
- Fish – one serving per week
- Berries – two servings per week
- Beans – one serving every other day
Following the guidelines here is sure to give you a decent chance of keeping your mind healthy well into your senior years. However, there are some ‘unhealthy’ foods that you need to avoid as much as possible.
Here is the ‘unhealthy’ food list. Avoid these foods as much as you can:
- Pastries and candy
- Fried food
- Whole fat cheese
- Red meat
- Butter and margarine
Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect you to cut these food groups out of your life completely. However, it’s worth trying to cut back on this food list as much as you can. Only then, will you see some real benefits when following the MIND diet!
It’s important to remember that no diet is supposed to be super extreme. The MIND Diet, like many diets, is all about moderation. Good luck!
Post written by: Charlotte Grainger
*Morris, Martha Clare et al. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease Volume 11 , Issue 9 , 1007 – 1014 and Morris, Martha Clare et al. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging Volume 11 , Issue 9 , 1015 – 1022.