- MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging
- 8 Brain Foods You Should Be Eating
- MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease
- The MIND Diet May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
- Should You Try the MIND Diet to Preserve Your Brain’s Health After a Stroke?
- Using food as medicine
- How the MIND diet is unique
- Is it worth it?
- MIND Diet Ranked Among Best
- Diet’s impact on health
- A wine and no cheese party
MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging
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8 Brain Foods You Should Be Eating
Chances are, you purposely ate something today that you know is heart-healthy, but did you think about consuming some foods that are good for your brain? Probably not. Only relatively recently have researchers begun to study the link between diet and cognitive function, and the findings are promising.
“You can’t control your genes, which are mostly responsible for any decline in brain function as we age, but with diet, there’s the potential to do something,” says Lon S. Schneider, M.D., a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and gerontology at the University of Southern California.
But it takes more than eating familiar brain foods such as fish or blueberries once in a while. “It’s what we eat as a whole,” says Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D.
, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at the Rush University Medical Center.
Research by Morris and her colleagues shows that following a diet that includes the right brain foods in the right combination can take years off your brain.
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the heart-healthy Mediterranean and the blood-pressure-lowering DASH diets. (MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.) It limits red meat, butter and stick margarine, pastries and sweets, fried and fast food, and cheese. But a few foods play starring roles.
The Rush team created the plan after reviewing the evidence from human and animal studies on diet and brain health, and singled out foods that appeared to have brain-protecting effects. Then they studied the diets of almost 1,000 elderly adults, who were followed for an average of 4½ years.
People whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style. A follow-up study showed that they also cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in half. People who followed the plan only some of the time still had a 35 percent lower risk.
Working these brain foods into your diet can help keep your mind sharp and your entire body healthy.
Share your tips by leaving a comment below.
It’s not yet clear how greens improve brain health, but it may be because of their high levels of vitamin K, folate (a B vitamin), and the antioxidants beta carotene and lutein.
People who had one to two servings of greens per day, such as collards, kale, and spinach, for about five years had the cognitive abilities of someone 11 years younger, according to another study from Rush University.
All types of lettuce and greens count, but darker greens have more nutrients.
Eat at least one cup raw or ½ cup cooked greens and ½ cup of other cooked vegetables per day.
How to use them: Mix a handful of baby spinach or kale into an almost-ready pasta dish or soup, the heat will wilt the greens.
The brains of older women who ate five servings of nuts per week functioned similarly to those of women 2 years younger, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.
A small study found that older men and women who ate just one Brazil nut daily for six months experienced increases in blood selenium levels as well as better verbal abilities and spatial skills.
Brazil nuts contain selenium, a mineral that helps boost the activity of antioxidants that may protect the brain from damage. One nut supplies all of the selenium you need in a day.
Eat at least five 1-ounce servings per week
How to use them: Toss a handful of the nuts (or a chopped Brazil nut) on your salad instead of croutons for a nutrient-packed crunch. Stash 100-calorie snack packs in your bag or desk for the midday munchies.
According to the MIND research, berries are the only fruit that benefit the brain.
Women ages 70 and older who ate blueberries at least once per week or strawberries twice per week or more had a brain age as much as 2½ years younger than those who ate the berries less than once per month, according to a Harvard study that followed more than 16,000 women for almost 20 years.
One animal study suggests that the antioxidants in berries can help activate the brain’s “housekeeper” mechanism, which cleans out parts of cells that become damaged. Frozen berries are just as nutritious as fresh and can cost half as much.
Eat at least one cup twice per week
How to use them: Toss frozen berries into a smoothie or heat them in a saucepan and use as a topping for oatmeal.
Eating black beans, kidney beans, lentils, white beans, and others provides a hearty dose of folate, a B vitamin that may play a role in preventing dementia later in life, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Canned beans are fine; just rinse them before using to remove some of the sodium.
Eat at least ½ cup cooked, four times per week.
How to use them: Cook white beans with rosemary and garlic, then drizzle them with olive oil for a rich but healthy side dish. Or snack on hummus or try one of the new bean-based pastas on the market.
Both are much lower in saturated fat than red meat. And the omega 3 fats in fish may improve learning and memory by increasing the brain’s ability to send and receive messages. Older adults without dementia who ate 3 to 5 ounces of fish weekly for the past year experienced less brain shrinkage, a common occurrence with Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who hardly ever ate fish.
“In general, the more fish, the better,” says Yian Gu, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University. She cautions, however, that people should weigh the possible benefits of fish consumption against the risks of mercury and other toxins that fish may contain. Low-mercury options include haddock, sardines, tilapia, and wild salmon.
Eat at least 3 ounces of fish and 6 ounces of poultry per week (not fried).
How to use them: Replace tuna with canned salmon (it’s often wild) for salads or make salmon burgers. Roll chopped chicken breast into a whole-wheat wrap with ¼ cup avocado, ½ cup shredded lettuce, and 2 tablespoons of salsa.
The phenolic compounds in extra-virgin olive oil may help prevent toxic protein deposits that can lead to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research from the University of Florence. Olive oil may also help reduce inflammation and improve blood-vessel function, two factors that can benefit the brain, according to a review of 30 studies published in the journal Nutrients.
Recommended intake: Daily
How to use it: Cook with it and use it on salads and vegetables.
Whole grains, bulgur and quinoa, were associated with higher levels of brain function in a study that tracked the diet of men and women age 65 and older.
Eat at least ½ cup cooked grains or a slice of whole-grain bread three times per day.
How to use them: Start the morning with a bowl of oatmeal. For lunch or dinner, toss wheat berries with chopped vegetables, beans, olive oil, and vinegar for an alternative to pasta salad.
Moderate wine drinking is linked to better brain health, but beware of a cup that runneth over. Adults who averaged more than 12 grams of alcohol per day (about the amount in 4 ounces of wine) had an increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study from the University of South Florida. If you’re at a high risk for cancer, ask your doctor how much you should drink.
Recommended intake: One glass per day.
A day’s worth of meals focused on brain foods looks a lot a Mediterranean heart-health plan. There are lots of veggies, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil; some beans, fish, and poultry; and a daily glass of wine. What you won’t see much of is red meat, sweets, or fried and fast foods. Remember: Eating this way even some of the time has been linked to brain benefits.
Breakfast: 1 cup of oatmeal prepared with water, topped with ½ cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Coffee with milk, no sugar.
Snack: 1 apple and 1 ounce of almonds.
Lunch: A salad of 3 cups of baby spinach with ¼ cup each of chopped cucumber, tomato, and bell pepper; ¼ cup quinoa; ⅓ cup chickpeas; 3 ounces sliced chicken; 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
Dinner: Grilled tilapia with olive oil and lemon, ½ cup of farro, 1 cup of string beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil, one glass of pinot noir.
Dessert: 1 cup sliced strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease
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(14) Buchman AS, Boyle PA, Wilson RS, Bienias JL, Bennett DA. Physical activity and motor decline in older persons. Muscle Nerve. 2007;35:354–362. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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The MIND Diet May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
From the WebMD Archives
Want another great reason to eat healthy? The food choices you make daily might lower your odds of getting Alzheimer’s disease, some scientists say.
Researchers have found that people who stuck to a diet that included foods berries, leafy greens, and fish had a major drop in their risk for the memory-sapping disorder, which affects more than 5 million Americans over age 65.
The eating plan is called the MIND diet. Here’s how it works.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s similar to two other healthy meal plans: the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet.
But the MIND approach “specifically includes foods and nutrients that medical literature and data show to be good for the brain, such as berries,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at Rush University Medical Center.
You eat things from these 10 food groups:
- Green leafy vegetables ( spinach and salad greens): At least six servings a week
- Other vegetables: At least one a day
- Nuts: Five servings a week
- Berries: Two or more servings a week
- Beans: At least three servings a week
- Whole grains: Three or more servings a day
- Fish: Once a week
- Poultry ( chicken or turkey): Two times a week
- Olive oil: Use it as your main cooking oil.
- Wine: One glass a day
- Red meat: Less than four servings a week
- Butter and margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily
- Cheese: Less than one serving a week
- Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week
- Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week
One study showed that people who stuck to the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 54%. That’s big. But maybe even more importantly, researchers found that adults who followed the diet only part of the time still cut their risk of the disease by about 35%.
On the other hand, people who followed the DASH and Mediterranean diets “moderately” had almost no drop in their Alzheimer’s risk, Morris says.
Scientists need to do more research on the MIND approach, “but it’s a very promising start. It shows that what you eat can make an impact on whether you develop late-onset Alzheimer’s,” which is the most common form of the disease, says Cecilia Rokusek, a registered dietitian at Nova Southeastern University.
Even if you don’t have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other risk factors, you may still want to try this eating plan. It focuses on nutritious whole foods, so “it’s not just good for your brain. It’s good your heart and overall health, too,” says Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD. He is the chairman and CEO of the Memosyn Neurology Institute.
One of the best things about the plan is that you don’t have to stick to it perfectly to see benefits, Rokusek says. “That makes it more ly you’ll follow it for a long time,” she says. And the longer people eat the MIND way, the lower their risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, Morris says.
If you do decide to make your diet more MIND-, Rokusek recommends you take a few extra steps. “Keep your portions in check, and be careful about how food is prepared. Sauces, breading, and oils can add extra calories and hidden ingredients sugar,” she says. “Make a point to drink several glasses of water a day, too.”
Last, understand that even though diet plays a big role, “it’s only one aspect of Alzheimer’s disease,” Fotuhi says. So get regular exercise and manage your stress to lower your risk even more, he says.
Alzheimer’s Foundation: “2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” “About Alzheimer’s: Definition of Alzheimer’s”.
Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, lecturer, Harvard Medical School; chairman and CEO, Memosyn Neurology Institute, Lutherville, MD.
Martha Clare Morris, ScD, associate professor, Rush Institute for Healthy Aging; director of Nutrition and Nutrition Epidemiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.
Morris, M.C. Alzheimer’s and Dementia, 2015.
Cecilia Rokusek, EdD, RD, dietitian and assistant dean for Education, Planning, and Research, head of the Florida Coastal Geriatric Resources, Education, and Training Center, Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Should You Try the MIND Diet to Preserve Your Brain’s Health After a Stroke?
When it comes to heart health, the Mediterranean diet is the winner. The DASH diet is the best choice for patients with high blood pressure. Both diets have shown some ability to protect the brain from cognitive decline. Now it appears that a diet composed of those brain-beneficial foods may help shield stroke survivors from developing dementia within 10 years after their stroke.
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The eating regimen, known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, emphasizes specific foods to eat, all of which have been associated with slower cognitive decline in clinical studies. It also names groups of foods to avoid, adverse effects on the brain.
According to the MIND diet pioneers, an ischemic stroke causes the brain to age 3.6 years for every hour that stroke symptoms go untreated. This ly explains why stroke survivors have double the rate of dementia than the general public, and almost 20 percent of stroke survivors develop dementia.
“The ability to alter these outcomes with a healthy diet has tremendous implications for thousands of people who suffer a stroke every year,” explains dietitian Kate Patton, RD.
Using food as medicine
Since the MIND diet made its debut in 2015, it has been shown to slow cognitive decline in healthy older adults. A study of healthy Chicago-area residents found that those who tended to follow the MIND diet functioned as if they were 7.5 years younger than those who were least adherent to the diet.
Earlier this year, a study comparing the Mediterranean, DASH and MIND diets in octogenarians who had suffered a stroke was presented at the International Stroke Conference. This study found a 20-year difference in cognitive functioning between those who were most and least adherent to the MIND diet.
How the MIND diet is unique
All three diets encourage eating lean meats, fish, whole grains, fresh produce and olive oil and discourage salt. But they have important differences.
The MIND diet deviates from the Mediterranean and DASH diets in that it restricts the type and amount of fruits and vegetables to be consumed. The MIND diet specifies eating berries, but not other fruits, as the other diets do. Nor does it tout eating dairy products, potatoes or more than one meal of fish a week.
The MIND diet suggests consuming green, leafy vegetables plus one other vegetable every day, while the Mediterranean and DASH diets encourage loading up on fruits and vegetables of all kinds.
When it comes to dairy, the MIND diet discusses limiting only cheese and butter. The Mediterranean diet encourages consuming dairy products in moderation and allows eggs.
The MIND diet specifies eliminating foods with an unhealthy effect on the brain. These include red meat, and processed meats, fried fast foods, sweets and pastries, butter, stick margarine
and whole-fat cheese.
Is it worth it?
You don’t have to follow the MIND diet to the letter. Its developers say it should be used as a guideline for avoiding foods that are bad for the brain and encouraging brain-friendly foods. Most people would find the MIND diet appealing, if they felt sure it would stave off dementia.
That confirmation may come by 2021, when the results of a five-year clinical trial are reported. The trial, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, is evaluating the impact of the MIND diet on 600 seniors, some of whom will be given brain scans.
“I think it will prove effective,” says Patton.
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.
MIND Diet Ranked Among Best
For the third consecutive year, a diet created, studied and reported on by researchers at Rush University Medical Center has been ranked among the top five diets in multiple categories by U.S. News & World Report. The MIND diet was ranked fifth for easiest diet to follow and tied for fifth for best overall, best for healthy eating and best heart-healthy diets.
In all, the MIND diet was ranked in nine categories for 2018, as follows:
- Easiest Diets to Follow: No. 5
- Best Diets Overall: No. 5 (tie)
- Best Diets for Healthy Eating: No. 5 (tie)
- Best Heart-Healthy Diets: No. 5 (tie)
- Best Diets for Diabetes: No. 8 (tie)
- Best Weight-Loss Diets: No. 23 (tie)
- Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets: No. 34 (tie)
Now in its eighth year, the annual “Best Diets” list provides facts about 35 chosen eating plans and ranks them on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their lihood to help with weight loss. To create the annual rankings, U.S.
News editors and reporters spend months winnowing potential additions to the diet roster and then mine medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles.
Each profile explains how the diet works, whether or not its claims are substantiated, scrutinizes it for possible health risks and examines what it’s to live on the diet, not just read about it.
Diet’s impact on health
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist, and her colleagues developed the MIND diet information that has accrued from years of research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain.
“The MIND diet highlights the foods and nutrients shown through the scientific literature to be associated with dementia prevention,” Morris said. “There is still a great deal of study we need to do in this area, and I expect that we’ll make further modifications as the science on diet and the brain advances.”
A wine and no cheese party
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups — red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. A person also must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, limiting butter to less than 1 1/2 teaspoons a day and eating less than a serving a week of sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food.