What is the MIND diet?
The MIND diet was developed in a study published in 2015 and led by the late Martha Clare Morris, then professor of epidemiology and director of the Section on Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology at Rush University in the United States. The acronym MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This diet is inspired by the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, both of which have been studied to slow cognitive decline, but make changes based on the scientific literature on nutrition and the brain. These changes focus on foods that have been linked to cognitive benefits through research. The goal of the MIND diet is to prevent cognitive decline.
Research and the MIND diet
As previously mentioned, the MIND diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris in a study funded by the National Institute on Aging. The results of this study of 960 participants suggest that the MIND diet significantly slows cognitive decline with age.
Another study, also published in 2015 and led by Martha Clare Morris, looked at the link between three diets (DASH,Mediterranean and MIND) and the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. The results of this prospective study involving 923 participants aged 58 to 98 and followed on average for 4.5 years suggest that strong adherence to the three regimens may help reduce the risk of developingAlzheimer's disease and that moderate adherence to the MIND diet may also help reduce the risk of developing this disease.
What foods to favor as part of the MIND diet?
The MIND diet emphasizes ten food groups that are beneficial for the brain:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Other vegetables
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
What foods to limit as part of the MIND diet?
The MIND diet recommends limiting five groups of potentially harmful foods for the brain:
- Red meats
- Butter and margarine sticks
- Pastries and sweets
- Fried foods and fast food
Some positive aspects of the MIND diet
- The MIND diet is based on two regimes (DASH and Mediterranean) which has been shown to have a positive impact on health.
- Research suggests that the MIND diet may be beneficial for brain health, even if recommendations are not followed to the letter.
- The MIND diet does not impose strict dietary rules (eg no prohibited foods).
Some points to consider in the context of the MIND diet
- The absence of dairy products from the beneficial food groups and the recommendation to limit cheese can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies (ex .:calcium), especially if the diet does not or does not contain enough other good sources of calcium (eg almonds, kale, white beans, etc.).
- If you don't drink alcohol, it is not recommended that you start drinking wine just for its potential brain benefits.
- Scientific literature on nutrition and the brain is under development and MIND diet recommendations are subject to change as research evolves.
- Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., Sacks, F. M., Bennett, D. A., & Aggarwal, N. T. (2015). MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease.Alzheimer's & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer's Association,11(9), 10071014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009
- Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., Sacks, F. M., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., & Aggarwal, N. T. (2015). MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging.Alzheimer's & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer's Association,11(9), 10151022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2015.04.0111