A recent study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association found that a new diet could significantly reduce one's risk of Alzheimer's disease. Known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, the eating regimen consists of 15 components and combines elements of a traditional Mediterranean diet with Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Researchers found that those who adhered to the MIND diet reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by as much as 35 percent.
"The MIND diet reduced Alzheimer's by as much as 35%."
A team from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago analyzed the eating habits of 923 Chicago residents. All participants were between ages 58 and 98 and part of an ongoing cognitive health study called the Rush Memory and Aging Project. All participants completed food questionnaires between the years of 2004 and 2013. These surveys were used to determine how closely participants followed either the Mediterranean, DASH or MIND diet. Adherence to these diets was then compared with instances of Alzheimer's disease.
The team found that the MIND diet was the only of the three to reduce one's risk of Alzheimer's if it was moderately adhered to. When closely followed, the Mediterranean diet lowered risk by 54 percent, MIND lowered risk by 53 percent and DASH lowered risk by 39 percent. However, neither the Mediterranean nor the DASH diets provided protection against Alzheimer's disease when they were only adhered to moderately.
What is the MIND diet?
Researchers believe one of the advantages of the MIND diet is that it's easy to follow and doesn't require rigid guidelines to be effective in lowering the risk of Alzheimer's. The diet places a particular emphasis on berries, which have long been lauded for their benefits to cognitive function. Of the 15 components of the diet, 10 are considered brain-healthy food groups, whereas the other five are unhealthy.
The brain-healthy foods are nuts, wine, poultry, olive oil, fish, whole grains, berries, beans, leafy greens and other vegetables. The unhealthy foods include red meats, fried foods, pastries and desserts, cheese and butter and margarine. The MIND diet centers around the idea of limiting these unhealthy foods, while consuming the brain-healthy foods on a daily and weekly basis. Guidelines include a daily serving of nuts, salad, another vegetable and a glass wine, beans every other day and at least one serving of fish per week. The diet recommends poultry and berries be consumed at least twice a week. The research suggests that the longer you follow the MIND diet, the more you will be protected against Alzheimer's disease.
The study's lead author and Rush nutritional epidemiologist Dr. Martha Clare Morris told Medical News Today, "The dietary components of the MIND diet are also the foundations of the Mediterranean and DASH diets – both of which have been found through randomized controlled trials to have many cardiovascular benefits. It is hard to come up with a potential downside to adopting these dietary habits."