MIND Diet Recommended for Alzheimer's Prevention

by Carol Bradley Bursack Caregiver

Part of a healthy lifestyle, one that may prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and other diseases, involves consuming a nourishing diet. According to a recent study, one way to obtain these nutrients is through the MIND diet. This berry-heavy diet, which was created by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD and colleagues at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, is a tweaked combination of the Mediterranean and the DASH diets. The acronym MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

The similarities of and differences between these healthy diets

The Mediterranean diet: The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by high intakes of fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains and moderate amounts of alcohol and dairy products while using low amounts of red or processed meats and sweets.

The DASH diet: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet features high intakes of fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts with moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products and low amounts of animal protein and sweets. Sodium reduction has also been included in the DASH diet.

The MIND diet: Like the other two diets, the MIND diet stresses a high consumption of fruits. However, the MIND diet focuses specifically on berries, particularly blueberries and strawberries, because of the brain benefits these berries have shown in several studies.

According to an article on Medical News Today, both the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure. Some studies have suggested the diets may also protect against dementia.

According to the creators of the MIND diet, this diet is easier to follow than the Mediterranean and DASH diets and consists of two categories of foods - healthy and unhealthy. Green leafy vegetables and other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine make up the brain-healthy foods. The group of unhealthy foods is red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. Obviously, these are to be limited.

The researchers at Rush found that participants whose food intake closely followed any of the three diets - Mediterranean, DASH or MIND - lowered their risk of Alzheimer's disease.

However, according to the Medical News Today article, the team found that participants who had a moderate adherence to the Mediterranean or DASH diets showed no reduced risk for Alzheimer's, while moderate adherence to the MIND diet still put participants at 35% lower risk of developing the disease.

With any of the diets, the results are better if followed over a long period of time, however we have to start where we are. If we work to eat healthier for our hearts and our brains, we really can't lose. It seems that there are few people who can't benefit from the MIND diet, except for some who have specific allergies, sensitivities or diseases. As with all diets, people should check with their doctors if they have any concerns.

Carol Bradley Bursack
Meet Our Writer
Carol Bradley Bursack

Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran family caregiver who spent more than two decades caring for a total of seven elders. This experience provided her with her foundation upon which she built her reputation as a columnist, author, blogger, and consultant. Carol is as passionate about supporting caregivers work through the diverse challenges in their often confusing role as she is about preserving the dignity of the person needing care. Find out much more about Carol at mindingourelders.com.