The MIND diet combines two well-known diets, the Mediterranean and DASH diet, to create a plan focusing on keeping the brain healthy. Standing for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, the MIND diet prioritizes foods and nutrients that protect the mind from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other conditions that cause a loss of brain function.
The great thing about the MIND diet is that it’s full of simple choices, is easy to follow, and appeals to people of all ages!
What Is The MIND Diet?
Many nutritional experts already regard the Mediterranean and DASH diets as two of the best, most well-rounded diets around. They have been shown to work for those looking to lower their blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. By combining foods from both the Mediterranean and DASH diets, researchers developed a new diet that benefits brain health.
What’s unique about the MIND diet is that there are few hard-line rules for following it. It recommends eating more of the ten foods the diet encourages you to eat:
- Six servings of leafy greens per week, such as spinach, kale, salads, and cooked greens.
- Another vegetable, on top of the leafy greens, at least once a day.
- Berries at least twice a week. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries all have antioxidant benefits.
- Five or more servings of nuts every week. Nuts have healthy fats that researchers now understand are beneficial for the body and mind.
- Three servings of whole grains a day, including 100% whole-wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta.
- One serving of fatty fish a week. These include salmon, sardines, tuna, trout and mackerel, as they all have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Servings of beans, lentils and soybeans with four meals a week.
- Two servings of chicken or turkey a week. Fried chicken does not count!
- One glass of wine a day. Research suggests both red and white could help prevent Alzheimer’s, but the compound resveratrol in red wine that gets all the attention.
- Olive oil for cooking.
In contrast, eat less of these five foods:
- Butter and margarine should be down to one tablespoon (about 14 grams) a day. The researchers behind the MIND diet suggest using olive oil as the primary cooking fat.
- Cheese should be limited to less than once per week.
- Red meat, including beef, pork, lamb and all products made from these meats, should be limited to three servings a week.
- Fried food should be limited to less than once per week if that. Avoid it from fast food establishments.
- Junk food and desserts should be limited to four times a week.
How Does The MIND Diet Work?
The MIND diet is believed to work by reducing the amount of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Inflammation causes the body to overreact to problems, causing damage that affects nerves. As well, when unstable molecules called free radicals are left to develop and multiply, they can damage cells like rust damages metal. The neurons in the brain are vulnerable to both kinds of damage, and the chronic neurodegenerative illnesses the MIND diet seeks to ward off are thought to stem from the negative effects of these two conditions.
The MIND diet makes accommodations that prioritize brain function. For example, both of the inspirations behind this diet recommend eating lots of fruit, so the MIND diet highlights eating fruits that research suggests will improve brain function. As such, it recommends eating lots of berries high in antioxidants like blueberries and blackberries, but no other kinds of fruit.
You also don’t have to worry too much about following the 10/5 rule perfectly. Research suggests that even a moderate amount of the MIND diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re looking to make the alterations this diet calls for, come to Diet & Wellness for advice and products to help you mind your mind!