The MIND diet, the “mind diet,” encourages the consumption of certain foods and the avoidance of others to help prevent or slow down cognitive decline.
It includes elements from other diets to promote healthy eating patterns that can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive impairment refers to problems with memory, learning, or thinking. Although many consider this to be a normal part of aging, it is not inevitable. (1)
In 2021, Alzheimer’s disease, which causes cognitive decline, is one of the leading causes of poor ending. (2)
Therefore, it is important to maintain brain health, which must include a nutritious and balanced diet. (3)
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the nutritional approach to stopping hypertension (DASH), which shows benefits in preventing cognitive decline. With a few simple dietary changes, people who follow this diet plan can take steps to maintain brain health and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND diet uses aspects of both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. (4)
Previous research has shown that these eating patterns can help maintain cognitive functions. As such, Martha Claire Morris combines diets to create a Mediterranean intervention for DASH for neurodegenerative retardation or the so-called MIND diet. (5) (6)
The traditional Mediterranean diet consists mainly of cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish. People can also include small amounts of meat, eggs, dairy products and alcohol.
The DASH diet emphasizes low-fat fruits, vegetables and dairy products. You can also eat whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, but your intake of saturated fats, red meat and sugars should be limited.
The MIND diet combines these dietary patterns and promotes the consumption of many plant foods in addition to fish and poultry, while trying to avoid saturated fats and added sugars. (7) (8)
The diet differs mainly due to the focus on daily and weekly recommendations for specific foods and food groups.
For example, he recommends 2 or more servings of vegetables a day, but notes that there should be at least 1 serving of green leafy vegetables.
Evidence suggests that the MIND diet can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by about 53% or 35%, depending on whether a person is following a strict or moderate diet. (9)
Although more research is needed to confirm these findings, this diet may be a promising strategy to prevent or delay cognitive decline. However, it is recommended that you consult your doctor about any changes in your diet before use.
The purpose of the MIND diet is to help improve brain function and contribute to cognitive stability in the elderly. (10)
Evidence suggests that healthy lifestyle factors, such as a high-quality diet, can bring benefits to brain health. Therefore, following this diet can help slow the decline in cognitive abilities and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (11) (12) (13)
A 2022 study, for example, finds that better adherence to the MIND diet is associated with a lower risk of dementia. (14)
Similarly, another study from 2021 reported that the MIND diet can improve cognitive abilities in high-risk groups. (15)
In addition to exercise and cognitive exercise programs, these diet models can be a useful tool against dementia.
In addition, other evidence suggests a potential link between a careful MIND diet and a slower decline in cognitive ability after a stroke. (16)
Evidence shows that the MIND diet can offer many benefits to many people. In addition to helping reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, this diet can help prevent cardiovascular disease and even some forms of cancer.
Many factors can increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Although people cannot change some risk factors, such as age and genetics, they can control others, including exercise, cognitive training, and diet.
Also keep in mind that some diets, such as the MIND diet, can help protect the brain due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (17)
In the same way so the Mediterranean plan and DASH diets promise to promote cardiovascular health. Because the MIND diet includes elements of both diets, it is likely to be beneficial for heart health as well. (18) (19)
A 2021 study also found a link between following a MIND diet and reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. However, more research is needed to investigate the links between diet and cancer. (20)
Foods to be consumed on the MIND diet
The MIND diet lists 15 nutritional ingredients that should be eaten or avoided. The 10 types of foods that people can eat on the MIND diet are: (21)
- green leafy vegetables
- all other vegetables
- Forest fruits
- olive oil
- whole grains
- domestic birds
There are also recommendations on how often people on the MIND diet should eat the above foods. For example, in addition to daily vegetables, efforts should be made to consume 3 or more servings of minimally processed whole grains per day and 2 or more servings of berries per week. (22)
Foods to avoid
The MIND diet also determines the types of foods you should avoid. Since these foods cannot always be completely avoided, people should strive to limit them as much as possible.
People should strive to include: (23)
- less than 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine per day
- less than 1 serving of cheese per week
- less than 4 servings of red meat per week
- on average less than 1 fast food or fried food per week
- less than 5 servings of candy and candy per week
Sample menu of the MIND diet
There are currently no guidelines for following the MIND diet. Instead, the goal is for people to consume more than 10 recommended foods and less than five less nutritious foods. As such, the meal plan may include:
Oatmeal is a practical option for breakfast. A bowl of oatmeal meets the requirements of the MIND diet for whole grains and people can add side dishes such as fresh blueberries and walnuts to add vitamins and minerals.
A pasta salad that can be prepared in advance is suitable for lunch. They can start with a base of wholemeal paste and add additional ingredients such as spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and chickpeas. Then you can sprinkle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add a little salt and pepper to finish the dish.
Nuts can be a handy afternoon snack on the go. You can also make a piece of wholemeal bread with a thin layer of walnut oil.
For a hearty and nutritious dinner, people can roast lean chicken breasts with fresh herbs and then cover them with fresh lemon. It can be served with a quinoa and cabbage garnish.
RISKS OF THE MIND DIET
Current evidence does not link the MIND diet to any of its own risks. However, it is advisable for people to talk about their diet with a healthcare professional to determine if it is right for them.
Some of the recommended foods in the MIND diet may not be suitable for everyone due to allergies, intolerance or dietary preferences. In these cases, you may want to discuss possible alternative diet plans with your doctor or nutritionist.
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. This diet promotes the consumption of certain foods such as whole grains, vegetables and poultry, while restricting other foods such as those high in saturated fat and added sugars. This flexible diet model focuses on daily and weekly recommendations for specific foods and food groups.
Although more research is still needed, some evidence suggests that the MIND diet is associated with lower levels of cognitive decline, which may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This diet can complement other healthy lifestyle factors such as exercise and cognitive training to help protect brain health.