The MIND Diet Prevents Cognitive Decline

The MIND Diet Prevents Cognitive Decline

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A new study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia determined that elderly adults who strictly adhered to the MIND diet for a period of five years were 7.5 years younger in terms of cognition than study participants who adhered the least. According to researchers, the diet, which is comprised of leafy green vegetables, beans, berries, whole grains and wine, slows the aging of the brain and the rate of cognitive decline. Some decline in cognitive functioning is natural with aging, but Martha Claire Morris, the nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center who headed the research, says, “The study findings suggest that the MIND diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age.”

The same researchers conducted an earlier study that showed the MIND diet, which they developed, may lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND plan, also known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, combines elements of the Mediterranean diet (which focuses on olive oil and vegetables) and the DASH diet designed to control hypertension.

The diet is comprised of 15 components, including at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day, as well as a glass of wine. Beans and poultry are to be eaten at least twice weekly, and fish weekly. Red meat, butter, margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets, fried and fast foods are all limited. The only fruits on the diet are berries.

The researchers followed 960 adults whose average age was 81.4 years, living in 40 retirement homes and senior public housing units in the greater Chicago area. They tested the cognitive ability of the participants, and followed them for a span of 4.7 years. Study results showed the slower decline in cognition among the participants who followed the diet most closely.

Morris also said:

Everyone experiences decline with aging; and Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia’s cases.

There is still a great deal of study we need to do in this area, and I expect that we’ll make further modifications as the science on diet and the brain advances.