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 makes changes based on scientific literature related to nutrition and the brain. These changes emphasize 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 mentioned earlier, the MIND diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris during 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 years and followed for an average of 4.5 years suggest that strong adherence to the three diets 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 condition.
What foods should you eat on the MIND diet??
The MIND diet emphasizes ten brain-beneficial food groups:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Other vegetables
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
What foods to limit on the MIND diet?
The MIND diet recommends limiting five potentially brain-damaging food groups:
- Red meats
- Stick butter and margarine
- Pastries and sweets
- Fried and fast food
Some positive aspects of the MIND diet
- The MIND diet is based on two diets (DASH and Mediterranean) whose positive impact on health has been demonstrated.
- Research suggests that the MIND diet may benefit brain health, even if the recommendations aren't followed exactly.
- The MIND diet does not impose strict dietary rules (e.g. no prohibited foods).
Some points to consider in the MIND diet
- The absence of dairy products from beneficial food groups and the recommendation to limit cheese may increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies (eg:calcium), especially if the diet does not contain enough or not enough other good sources of calcium (e.g. almonds, kale, white beans, etc.).
- If you don't drink alcohol, it's not recommended that you start drinking wine just for its potential brain benefits.
- The scientific literature on nutrition and the brain is growing 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