Did you know that our diet can affect the risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia? It appears that shifting our food choices toward a healthier nutritional approach can slow brain aging by 7.5 years.
The MIND, or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, diet is an eating plan meant to prevent dementia and age-related brain function decline. As the name states, it combines principles of Mediterranean and DSAH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.
According to the research, the MIND diet can reduce the risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease). In addition, this nutritional approach can decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer.
The MIND diet is a combination of Mediterranean and DASH diets. The following are general guidelines for this nutritional approach:
- Eat plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens. Make your goal at least six servings of greens per week and one serving of other vegetables per day. It is better to choose non-starchy vegetables since they are nutrient-dense and low in calories.
- Use mainly olive oil while cooking. In addition, avoid the consumption of margarine and butter.
- Choose berries as a sweet treat. Try to eat at least two servings of berries per week.
- Use nuts for a snack and avoid pre-packaged foods. Aim at eating at least five servings of nuts per week.
- Eat fish at least once a week. Choose primarily fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines.
- Eat two or more servings of poultry per week.
- Take advantage of meatless meals in your diet.
- Make beans a part of your meals. Try to eat at least four servings of beans per week.
- Give preference to whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, 100% whole-wheat bread, etc. Consume at least three servings of this food group per day.
- You can have a little wine, but don’t drink more than one glass per day. In addition, if you don’t want to consume alcohol, you can skip this point.
It is important to note that you can eat foods other than those listed above while following the MIND diet. However, the closer you stick with this nutritional approach, the more benefits you may get.
In addition to including suggested food groups in your diet, limit the consumption of the following:
- cheese (less than one time per week)
- margarine and butter (less than one tablespoon per day)
- red meat (don’t exceed three servings per week)
- fried food and fast food (less than one time per week)
- sweets and pastries (no more than four times per week)
MIND diet doesn’t have any contraindications. However, it is still good to consult with your healthcare provider before following this nutritional approach.
How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies
The MIND diet is a balanced nutritional approach that doesn’t over restrict your caloric intake. In addition, it doesn’t eliminate food groups. As a result, it is unlikely for you to develop nutrient deficiency following the MIND diet. However, you may want to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that you get enough nutrients and talk about possible supplementation.
Tips on improving your dieting experience
The MIND diet, along with many others, emphasizes eating plenty of vegetables. However, many people find it challenging to introduce this food group to their diets. Some individuals don’t like vegetables, while others cannot think out how to cook a variety of greens, roots, herbs, cruciferous, etc.
Try the following tips on how to add more vegetables into your diet:
- make veggie-based soups (for example, red pepper and tomato soup, pumpkin soup, and sweet potato and lentil soup)
- add vegetables into smoothies (try different recipes for green smoothies)
- add vegetables into an omelet or scrambled eggs
- add vegetables to sauces and dressings
- prepare some washed and cut vegetables for a quick-grab snack (you can add hummus or homemade dressing if you wish to)
- add finely mixed vegetables into meatballs, hamburger patties, and meatloaf (you can try adding onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and celery)
- try a new veggie-based recipe every week or month
If you are not used to eating a lot of fiber, you should gradually increase your vegetable intake to prevent digestive discomfort.
The MIND diet is a combination of Meditteranean and DASH diets. It focuses on food groups that can improve brain functioning and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease. This diet can also provide other health benefits characteristic of Mediterranean and DASH diets since it is based on these nutritional approaches.
Overall, the MIND diet is a balanced and healthy nutritional regimen. It promotes eating whole food rich in nutrients that benefit brain health. In addition, the MIND diet is very flexible and, as a result, easier to follow.
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