The MIND diet is a diet that aims to improve brain and nervous system function. It shows promising results in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects many elderly people. The MIND diet not only affects the mind but also has health-promoting effects in other areas. It is also easy to use and does not require much adaptation to it.
What is the MIND diet?
By using the MIND diet you can significantly reduce the risk of neurodegenerative brain diseases. By increasing the share of food products that have a positive effect on the brain, you should be able to avoid the development of nervous system-related diseases, like for example Alzheimer’s disease.
The name of the MIND diet suggests that it affects the state of mind. MIND is the acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The MIND diet protocol uses a combination of the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet, which are considered one of the healthiest in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and have a positive effect on overall health. Both ways of nutrition have taken the biggest impact on the state of the brain.
The author of the MIND diet is Martha Claire Morris - an epidemiologist at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who studies the effects of nutrients on the body. Her group prepared a diet protocol reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, based on research on the Mediterranean diet and DASH as well as individual food ingredients and their impact on the state of the nervous system, which was tested on humans and animals.
MIND diet principles
The MIND diet has been recognized by the U.S. News & World Report for one of the healthiest diets, and also the easiest to use. Compliance with its rules is simple and should not be difficult even in long-term use. The main advantage of the diet is the lack of sharp restrictions on the products used.
MIND recommends some food groups and restricts others, but it does not mean that you give up them altogether. The basis of the diet is products rich in vitamins C, E and B group, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids, i.e. ingredients that have a beneficial effect on the brain. The main difference between the MIND diet and DASH and the Mediterranean, which are its prototype, is the need to introduce large quantities of green vegetables. In the MIND diet, food is divided into 15 categories, of which 10 are recommended to eat, and 5 should be restricted.
Products to be restricted in the MIND diet
Vegetables in the MIND diet are best eaten raw, they will provide more vitamins and antioxidants. If in case of eating raw vegetables you encounter problems with the digestive tract, raw vegetables can be converted into cooked, but the beneficial effects of the diet will be noticeable a little later.
Whole-grain cereal products consumed 3 times a day are designed to provide B vitamins, which are responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system. 5 times a week you should eat a handful of nuts or seeds that contain unsaturated fatty acids that are building blocks of cell membranes. They also have numerous minerals and vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant.
Oily saltwater fish are very important – they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have a great impact on the nervous system, inhibit inflammatory processes and have a protective effect on the circulatory system. The menu should include at least one serving of fish per week.
At least 2 times a week, you should eat blueberries, raspberries and other berries that help get rid of toxins from the body and affect the condition of brain cells.
The MIND diet protocol recommends drinking a glass of wine every day because research shows that a small amount of alcohol has a better effect on brain function than its complete elimination. Olive oil as a source of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants should be the basic fat used in cooking.
How does the MIND diet affect health?
The MIND diet was created as a nutritional protocol for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. This disease usually affects people over 65 years of age, is the result of a loss of the nerve cells in the brain and leads to a gradual deterioration of memory, cognition, speech disorders and orientation.
The effectiveness of the MIND diet in this area was confirmed by a study that lasted for 4 and a half years and was conducted on 923 people from the Chicago area aged 59 to 98 years old. During a 54-month follow-up, it was found that people who strictly followed the diet’s recommendations had a 54% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, people who only partially followed the recommendations had a 35% lower risk of falling ill.
Studies conducted by scientists from Chicago are not the only ones that indicate a beneficial effect of MIND diet ingredients on the state of the nervous system. Two previous large studies in the United States showed that people who ate at least 2 servings of vegetables a day had a slower cognitive decline. The effect was further enhanced by eating at least 6 servings of green vegetables a week. Animal studies show that eating berry fruit has a positive effect on memory, and population studies suggest that eating one fish meal per week is correlated with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND diet can be used not only for neurodegenerative diseases. It works for all people who work for a long time and live under stress, with great mental effort. The use of a diet rich in ingredients beneficial for brain work improves memory and concentration and allows you to feel the effects of prolonged nervous tension less severely.