Dementia affects an estimated 45 million people worldwide, and Alzheimer’s disease accounts for nearly 80% of those cases.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, cognition, and eventually the ability to perform everyday activities. And because it is irreversible, we should do everything we can to prevent it.
The MIND Diet
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It is a diet specifically designed to reduce the decline in brain function associated with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was originally designed to lower blood pressure. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. And improving blood flow and reducing inflammation also have a positive effect on brain health.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of countries like Greece and Italy. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil. This diet is also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
So the MIND diet combines the principles of both the DASH and Mediterranean diets to create a brain-healthy way of eating.
10 Foods to Eat
The MIND diet recommends eating:
- Green leafy vegetables – Spinach, kale, collard greens, etc. Six or more servings every week.
- All other vegetables – Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, etc. At least two servings every day.
- Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. Two or more servings every week.
- Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc. Five or more servings every week.
- Olive oil – Use as your daily cooking oil.
- Whole grains – Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, etc. At least three servings daily.
- Fish – Salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, etc. At least once each week.
- Beans – Black beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc. Four or more servings every week.
- Poultry – Turkey, chicken (not fried chicken), etc. Two or more servings each week.
- Wine – Red or white. Not more than one glass daily, or not at all.
5 Foods to Avoid
The MIND diet also recommends minimizing or altogether avoiding:
- Butter and margarine – Use olive oil instead.
- Cheese – Not more than once per week.
- Red meat – Beef, pork, lamb, etc. Not more than three servings per week, preferably much less.
- Fried food – Not more than once per week, preferably none.
- Pastries and sweets – Cookies, brownies, candy, ice cream, etc. Not more than four servings per week, preferably much less or none at all.
Substantial Reduction in Cognitive Decline
The closer you can adhere to the principles of the MIND diet, the lower your risk of cognitive decline will be.
Even people who only partially follow the diet can still experience a significant reduction in cognitive decline. In one study, the closest people who followed the MIND diet had a 53% reduction in their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, while those who followed it moderately still had a 35% reduction in their risk.
So if you are looking for a way to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease – especially for people with a family history of dementia – the MIND diet is an easy and effective way to significantly improve your chances of living a long and healthy life.