At the start of every new year, we are bombarded with “new” diets that are designed to be life changing. Want to lose weight, look younger, feel younger, or manage your health issues? You are sure to find at least one diet specifically created to eliminate whatever ails you. One diet that has been receiving big accolades is the MIND diet, which promotes brain health and decreases an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
What is the MIND Diet?
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets; MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. According to Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% for participants who followed the diet rigorously, although participants who only followed the diet moderately lowered their risk by about 35%.
As individual diets, the Mediterranean and DASH have been successful in reducing the risk of cardiovascular conditions like heart attack and stroke. Knowing the success of these two diets alone, it would make sense that they would be mind healthy diets as well, especially since there is a connection between heart and brain health. For example, memory loss can be an early warning sign of heart failure.
The MIND diet is composed of 10 “brain-healthy food groups”:
- Leafy Green Vegetables, such as Spinach
- Other Vegetables, such as Carrots, Broccoli, Peppers
- Nuts, such as Walnuts
- Berries, particularly Blueberries
- Beans, such as Black beans or Chickpeas
- Whole Grains (Switch white rice for brown)
- Fish, such as Salmon
- Poultry (Not Fried)
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine, in moderation
The foods that pose a “threat” to your brain health include red meats, butter or margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets, and fried/fast food. While these foods should be avoided whenever possible, some experts say that less than one serving (of any 3 “threat” foods) per week may be safe for your brain and keep you on track with the MIND diet.
Not only does this diet allow brain healthy “dieters” to enjoy some of their favorite indulgences, like red wine, but it is also praised for being one of the easiest diets to follow and stick to, but doesn’t make people feel like they are sacrificing too much.
Do More Than Eat Well
Although making a commitment to healthy eating can make a significant difference in your overall health, it’s important to find a fitness regimen that works well for you, whether it’s yoga or running. Additionally, adequate sleep and stress management are also key to maintaining brain health.
Do you have to wait to start the MIND diet until you have a “senior moment” or two? Definitely not. Like any healthy habit, it’s never too early to start and it’s never too late to start changing your habits for the better.