The New MIND Diet

You have probably heard the phrase “the proof is in the pudding”, but what if the proof literally IS the pudding? What we eat can shape not only our brains, but how we think and feel. Nutritionists have proved that our diet affects brain health and functioning, but in what ways can we use this knowledge to our advantage? Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist, began a study that not only found foods, but a diet plan that can lower the risk of cognitive decline and reduce the risk of Alzhiemer’s disease. This revolutionary diet plan is known as the MIND diet. 

What Is The MIND Diet?

The MIND diet is a combination of two well known nutritious diets. The first being the Mediterranean diet, which consists of high volumes of seafood, fruits, and vegetables and low volume of red meat and dairy products. The second diet being Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which consists of high volume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. When you combine the two, you get an ideal diet that provides the brain with lots of nutrients. The diet itself consists of at least three servings of whole grains,  one green leafy vegetable, one other vegetable, and a glass of wine per day. The MIND diet also allows you to snack on nuts, eat beans every other day, have poultry and berries twice a week, and enjoy fish once a week. The limited consumption of specific foods is what allows the brain to get all the nutrients it needs, without piling on unhealthy ingredients.

The Discovery Of The MIND Diet

The study began in 1997, with 569 participants sharing their vitals at Rush University. In the greater Chicago area, Dhana and her colleagues created what was called the Memory and Aging Program. Starting in 2004, a food questionnaire was developed and given to participants annually. Each participant gave consent to be studied while alive, and have a brain autopsy after they died. Participants were assigned to a MIND diet score while following the meal plans assigned with it. They were told to stick to a healthy diet and avoid the five unhealthy food groups: butter and margarine, cheese, fast foods, sweets, and red meats. Those assigned with a higher MIND diet score, were found to develop better memory and thinking skills overtime. After the study, autopsies revealed that even while some brains showed protein deposits seen often in those with Alzheimer’s Disease, they never developed dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The study also discovered that the diet can slow the development of Parkinson’s Disease, which affects movement through the slowing of the nervous system.

Why The MIND Diet Works

How this diet actually impacts our brain comes down to cognitive resilience, the ability to overcome negative effects of one’s cognitive functioning. It is less of a cure, and more of delay or aid to avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease. Within the diet, the main components are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective nutrient rich foods.

Conclusion

Including this diet into one’s lifestyle is the perfect first step towards better brain power and slowing down cognitive decline. Diet improvements can help in the long run, and this diet will truly aid in maintaining and improving your brain health. To really help your brain thrive with the MIND diet, one must practice other habits combined, such as getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, in whatever preferred way that is. Besides diet and exercise, completing more cognitive activities will help. This could be anything from reading a book to playing a puzzle game. By following the MIND diet, exercising, and challenging your brain, you may be able to prevent and reduce your risk of cognitive decline later in life.

Margaret Davis

Margaret Davis is a junior studying advertising at Temple University. She is thrilled to be joining the HappyNeuron Pro team as the Content Marketing Intern. With her previous experience working on PR and Social Media campaigns, Margaret hopes to bring a variety of skills to the team.

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