Preserve Your Aging Brain with Food

Nan Jensen, Extension Agent

When someone mentions the word “diet, often losing weight come to mind. While the MIND Diet doesn’t guarantee a 10 pound weight loss in the first week or two, it is recognized for its positive effects on the brain and slowing the cognitive decline often associated with aging.

The MIND Diet short for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet emphasizes brain healthy foods featured in both the Mediterranean and DASH diets.  According to the reviews from the 2017 U.S. News Best Diets Ranking the MIND diet ties for 1st place as one of the “Easiest Diets to Follow.”

The MIND Diet basics:


  • Emphasizes whole, plant-based foods and limited intake of animal and high saturated fat foods
  • Strongly emphasizes berries and leafy greens
  • Recommends 10 “brain healthy” foods including leafy green vegetables, other vegetables (ex: carrots, bell peppers), nuts, berries, beans/lentils/soybeans, whole grains, seafood, poultry, olive oil, and wine (in moderation)
  • Identifies 5 “unhealthy” foods: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food (limit to 2-3 servings per week, if at all.

Here are the guidelines specifying the amounts of foods the diet recommends. See how what you eat compares to the recommendations.

http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/images/1115p.24_tables.pdf

The diet was developed by a nutritional epidemiologist, Dr. Martha Morris and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. More long-term studies are needed, but there were a number of promising findings from this study. The researchers found that participants had a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) when they adhered even moderately to the MIND Diet. AD risk was lowered by up to 53% for those who adhered to it strictly, compared to about 35% for participants who followed it moderately well.