How the MIND Diet can Improve Brain Health

By Tiffany Rios, RD, CDE
Registered Dietician, Shore Physicians Group

As we age, it is natural for our minds to show signs of slowing down. Due to normal brain changes, we may find it more challenging to multitask or remember what we had for lunch yesterday. But there are things we can all do to prevent or slow cognitive decline with age and reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. One of those ways is through diet, particularly the MIND diet.

MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It is a fairly new diet first published in 2015 by Nutritional Epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris and a team of researchers with Rush University Medical Center. It combines two heart-healthy diets—DASH and Mediterranean—and is predominantly plant-based with a moderate amount of animal products.

Plant-based diets are high in polyphenols and green leafy vegetables, which have been shown to slow cognitive decline. Plant-based diets are also high in Vitamin E because they generally contain nuts, seeds, and plant oils like olive oil and avocado oil. Fruits such as berries are also prominent in plant-based diets, and have been shown to decrease neuron loss and improve memory performance in relatively large scientific studies.

What’s more, potassium, sodium, and magnesium are essential blood pressure and cell signaling regulators. The MIND diet balances them by reducing processed foods and providing a base of foods like kale, spinach, fruits, and seafood.

Additionally, elevated blood sugar can create inflammation which impacts every organ in the body, including the brain. Since the MIND diet is high in plant-based fiber, it can help slow digestion to release glucose at a slower pace, which can lower a person’s A1C and support regulating blood sugar.

You won’t find processed and packaged foods like fried potato chips, cookies, and all-purpose flour-based products with the MIND diet. Instead, it emphasizes whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. It also supports a reduction in fried foods, fatty conventionally grown beef, and limits poultry to twice a week. Plenty of vegetables and plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and chickpeas are allowed in the MIND diet.

I would recommend the MIND diet as a preventative diet against Alzheimer’s and as a diet that supports overall health.

Tiffany Rios treats patients at the Shore Physicians Group Endocrinology office, located at 18 West New York Avenue in Somers Point, NJ. To learn more or make an appointment with Tiffany, call 609.365.5300.