There is no shortage of fad diets today. From low carb to Paleo to diets based on your blood type, there is something that appeals to just about everyone. But what if one of these diets could actually slow the rate at which your brain ages? That is what one diet, affectionately known as the MIND diet, is promising. Today, we are taking a look at this diet and other dietary guidelines that have been shown to have positive effects on the brain’s aging.
A combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which has the major goal of stopping hypertension, the MIND diet has been the subject of many recent studies. One such study, performed by the Rush University Medical Center with the results published online at Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, found that older adults who followed the MIND diet strictly showed an equivalent of being 7.5 years younger cognitively that those who followed the diet the least. The study lasted over a period of just over four and a half years and followed 960 participants.
So what is the MIND diet exactly? The MIND diet identifies 10 healthy food groups and five unhealthy groups. The five unhealthy groups include: red meat, butter or margarine, cheese, sweets and pastries and fried or fast food. To follow the diets guidelines, one must eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one additional vegetable each day. A glass of wine and snack of nuts is allowed daily with beans being allowed every other day. Poultry and berries should be eaten twice a week and fish at least once a week. Berries are the only specific fruit included in the MIND diet as studies have shown that berries may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and age-related memory loss.
Of course, diet and nutrition and the link to overall wellness and slower aging has long been a hot topic. While new research is backing the claims that proper nutrition is helping us to live longer and healthier lives, the MIND diet, while being touted for its health benefits, is really just one option. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish and olive oil, and one of the dietary guidelines that makes up the basis for the MIND diet, has been shown time and again to prevent certain aspects of aging. The New England Journal of Medicine found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had 30% fewer heart disease related deaths, strokes and heart attacks that those who did not, and were 19% less likely to experience thinking or memory skill problems.
Plant-based diets too showed a slow down when it comes to aging. Often recommended for weight loss, IBS and to combat heart disease, plant based diets give the body’s cells a chance to refresh and has indicated that could lead to a longer lifespan. FInally, it is important to remember that not all fat is bad fat. There are plenty of options for healthy fats and our bodies need them. Some healthy fat options such as olive oil has long been praised for its ability to defend against cardiac disease, diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and more. And recently, scientists have found that oleocanthal, which naturally occurs in extra-virgin olive oil, also leads to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Nuts and fish are also a great way to introduce healthy omega-3 fats into your diet. Just remember to keep track of your fat intake, as even the good fats can become unhealthy if you take in too much.
For more information on the MIND diet and the study between nutrition and the slowing of mental decline, click here.