Unlike the diets that promise quick weight loss or the removal of toxins from your body, the MIND diet is geared toward just that—your mind. In fact, the goal of the MIND diet is to protect you from developing Alzheimer's disease. And while proponents make some rather large promises, the diet seems to deliver. A recent study showed the MIND diet is capable of reducing your risk of Alzheimer's disease by 53 percent when followed closely.
While anyone can benefit from the health benefits offered by the MIND diet, it is especially beneficial for those with a family history of Alzheimer's. Read on to learn more about the MIND diet and the theory behind it.
You've no doubt heard of the DASH and Mediterranean diets. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a proven way to help people lower their overall sodium intake in an effort to lower blood pressure. A Mediterranean diet plan is also good for your heart and focuses on eating natural, minimally processed whole foods and eliminating unhealthy fats and red meat.
What do these two diets have to do with the MIND diet? Well, MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, the MIND diet combines aspects of the DASH and Mediterranean diets that specifically promote brain health.
The diet places an emphasis on 10 food groups shown to help prevent mental decline—leafy green vegetables and all other vegetables, berries (especially blueberries), nuts, whole grains, beans, fish, poultry, wine, and olive oil. The foods to avoid on the MIND diet include red meats, margarine, butter, cheese, fast food, fried food, and sweets.
Each day, the goal is to eat a salad, another vegetable, and three servings of whole grains, as well as drink a glass of wine. Nuts are a recommended snack on most days. Three to four times a week you eat beans, twice a week you eat poultry and berries, and at least once a week you eat fish.
Here are the restrictions: Red meat should be eaten less than four times a week. You should only eat five servings of sweets a week, less than one tablespoon of butter a day, and less than one serving a week of fried foods, fast food, or cheese. The diet doesn't focus on counting calories. Rather, you simply eat until you're full.
Someone on the MIND diet will likely lose weight (if they're overweight), improve their heart health, and lower their risk for disease. But the greatest benefit will be improved mental health. Just adding a few of the recommended foods to your diet will reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. But the more closely you follow the diet and the longer you follow it, the lower your risk becomes.
One of the main drawbacks for such a diet is the time it takes to plan, purchase, and prepare meals approved by the MIND diet. No more fast food picked up on the way home from work, no more freezer meals, and no more processed foods. Someone who loves cheese, meat, fried chicken, sweets, and butter may have a difficult time adjusting to the diet plan. But remember, even small changes can make a difference.
And when it comes to your mind, isn’t it worth it?