MIND Diet Could Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s

A new study from Rush University in Chicago has found that the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 50%, and still had protective powers, even when not followed rigorously.MIND Diet Could Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's

Learn more about the development of the diet, why it’s so effective, and what foods are helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Developing the MIND Diet

Researchers from Rush University in Chicago have combined elements from both the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets to create the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diet.

A Mediterranean diet is high in healthy fats, whole grains and omega 3’s and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy, and has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

Researchers evaluated over 900 seniors who were participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP) project that studies the aging process. Researchers evaluated the nutritional information of seniors that were already following basic MIND diet principles as well as those who ate a Mediterranean diet and a DASH diet. Researchers then noted the incidences of Alzheimer’s of those seniors over a 5 year period. They found that those seniors who followed the MIND diet reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% and when it was not followed rigorously it still reduced the disease by as much as 35%.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Martha Morris, was surprised to see that those who did not follow the diet strictly still had considerable protection from Alzheimer’s.

“It was surprising that even those individuals who had moderate adherence to the MIND diet had reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This was not the case for either the DASH or Mediterranean diets for which only the highest adherence conferred protective benefits.”

The strength of the diet may be because the diet was specifically designed according to the latest research on how nutrition affects the brain. Researchers believe that people who follow the diet for years will get the best protection from Alzheimer’s.

Components of the MIND Diet

The MIND diet is comprised of 15 elements, ten brain-healthy food groups and then five unhealthy groups. The ten brain-healthy food groups include:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Wine

The five unhealthy food groups include:

  • Red meats
  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Cheese
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried or fast food

Do you follow the MIND diet principles or will you now that you know following it, even moderately, can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s? Share your thoughts on the study in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • April

    I am surprised that coconut oil was not considered in the healthy food group; and wonder if 100% grass fed cows were considered in lieu of those fed a grain fed diet and raised on a conventional feed lot when looking at red meat, butter, and cheese.

    • Candace

      I agree with you 100%, April.. Also, I would add grass fed red meat, eggs from pasture-raised chickens, and butter from pastured, grass-only cattle. Supposedly, those foods are not inflammatory, while the ones that are grain-fed ARE. It would be nice if studies could be conducted with and without these additions.

  • Catherine Frayne

    I am very surprised that Coconut Oil did not get a mention here.

  • caitlinburm

    Hi all,

    We couldn’t agree with you more given how much research has shown that organic foods and products like coconut oil may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

    If you’d like to read more about coconut oil, we have another blog article here that covers coconut oil and it’s effects on the body and mind: http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-05-29/coconut-oil-for-alzheimers/

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