A few decades ago, cardiology researchers created the DASH diet to control high blood pressure. I’ve frequently prescribed it to my patients as it’s very successful at lowering blood pressure. Lower blood pressure protects your heart, as well as your brain, as high blood pressure can lead to stroke.
Then, researchers started studying the healthy lifestyles of Mediterranean peoples and, as a result, developed the Mediterranean Diet. It too, has been a successful hedge against several diseases.
But now, researchers out of Rush University Medical Center have merged these 2 diets. They’ve successfully formed 1 super diet that protects your brain, heart, and the rest of you all at once. Here’s what you need to know…
Two Prominent Diets Merge into the MIND Diet
Recently, researchers out of Rush University Medical Center married the DASH diet to the Mediterranean Diet. As a result, the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet was born. In studies, they found that the MIND diet significantly lowered the risk of developing Alzheimer Disease (AD) by 53% in people who followed the diet persistently. But, even in those who didn’t follow the diet all the time, they also had a 35% reduction in risk. The study was funded by the National Institute of Aging.
The MIND diet was developed by cross-merging all the foods from the DASH and Mediterranean Diets found to benefit the brain the most. The MIND diet is the first to actually relate diet principles to Alzheimer Disease prevention. But, as a bonus, it’s also a heart, and rest-of-you healthy diet as well.
The MIND diet is made up of 15 separate food groups. Ten (10) of these are specific brain-health foods which include the following:
1. Green leafy “salad” vegetables, once daily.
2. “Carotenoids” (yellow-orange-red family), at least 1 daily.
3. Nuts, one serving snack daily.
4. Legumes (beans), at least twice a week.
5. Berries, especially blueberries, but strawberries too, at least twice a week. No other fruits made the MIND diet.
6. Whole grains, 3 servings a day.
7. Poultry, at least twice a week.
8. Fish, at least once a week.
9. Dark red wine, one glass a day.
10. Olive oil, dark virgin, 2 tablespoons a day.
It also includes 5 not-so-healthy food groups that include:
1. Fast or fried foods, up to once per week.
2. Red meat, once per week.
3. Butter/margarine, less than 1 tablespoon a day.
4. Cheese, up to once per week.
5. Pastries and other sweets, once per week.
The researchers commented that Alzheimer Disease, like heart disease, can have many components to its development. But, diet seems to be a major contributing factor, especially in older onset patients whose genetic risks decrease with age.
In their study, it was found that people who changed to more heart healthy diets – either recommended by a doctor, or by themselves, lowered their risk for developing AD. They concluded that people would be at the lowest risk for developing AD if they consistently followed MIND-type diet principles for longer periods.
The MIND diet has significantly less requirements than the 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables than health professionals often recommend. But, it’s important to note that the phytonutrients from those foods are also contained in the red wine, olive oil, berries and nuts that the MIND diet includes.
Other recent studies have also proven that following a healthier diet not only helps prevent AD, but also slows down its progression. One study out of England’s University of Exeter Medical School found that a more strict adherence to Mediterranean Diet principles were associated with better cognitive function and lower risk for AD.
But, brain health isn’t the only thing the MIND diet can help. As it contains principles of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet, here are the other major health benefits of the MIND diet:
1. Aids weight loss. People who followed either the DASH or Mediterranean Diet lost up to 20 lbs in the first six weeks.
2. Lowers risk of diabetes and helps control it.
3. Lowers blood pressure.
4. Protects kidney health.
5. Lowers risk of heart disease and helps improve it.
6. Lowers risk of stroke.
7. Optimizes nutrition (high flavonoid-type antioxidants, fiber) to guard against cancer.
8. Helps protect bone health. Higher olive oil consumption increases blood osteocalcin to protect bones.
9. Slows aging. Consuming nuts and red wine add resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, to your diet. Resveratrol has been proven in studies to extend life span in lab animals.
Preventing the diseases of aging (Alzheimers, heart disease, diabetes, cancer) more and more have been found to be closely related to diet. It’s important to get the optimal nutrition contained in specific foods that have been proven to fight disease. The MIND diet has been proven to help you prevent neuro-degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and stroke. But, it’s really a Super Diet that can also protect your heart, and help fight diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Ron Blankstein, M.D.
New MIND diet may significantly protect against Alzheimer Disease, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150319104218.htm
Mediterranean Diet is Good for The Mind, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903101951.htm
What Is The Mediterranean Diet? http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149090.php