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Can MINDING Your Diet Reduce The Risk Of Developing Alzheimer's Disease?

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

If reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was as simple as changing the foods you eat, would you do it?

Emerging evidence suggests that MINDing your diet, even a little, may help! That’s the premise behind the MIND diet, a new dietary intervention linked to promoting brain health and decreasing cognitive decline.

The multi-component diet focuses on specific foods found to promote brain health, and has been known to provide significant protection against Alzheimer’s Disease, even in people who only partially followed the diet.

The MIND Diet Explained

The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), combines elements from the highly successful and scientifically backed Mediterranean and DASH diets, which are known to decrease inflammation, reduce insulin resistance, and decrease the risk of heart disease, hypertension and stroke. While the three diets may seem similar on the surface, the MIND diet has a unique emphasis on including foods with neuroprotective properties, which have been shown to support cognitive health.

Overview of the MIND, Mediterranean and DASH Diets

Components of the MIND Diet

Consisting of 15 components, the MIND diet includes 10 recommended foods, and 5 foods to limit or avoid. It includes foods like leafy green vegetables, olive oil, berries, and even wine! Which have been shown to support brain health. It is thought that the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in these foods offer benefits by protecting the brain from cognitive decline and potentially Alzheimer’s disease.

If, like me, you sometimes find it hard to stick to various diets, don’t quit! One of the benefits of the MIND diet is that it still has been shown to support cognitive health, even when the diet is not strictly followed.

The table below provides recommendations, examples of foods, and servings for the MIND diet

What the Research Shows

Overall research shows promising findings for the MIND diet’s effectiveness for reducing cognitive decline, particularly when the diet is strictly followed over long periods of time, with research showing people being up to 7.5 years cognitively younger, over a 5 year period. A previous study of 923 elderly adults similarly found those who followed the diet closely, achieved a 53% reduction in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, moderate compliance also cut risks by 35%, compared with those who followed the diet the least.

While the majority of studies to date have been observational studies, meaning only an association, not a cause and effect relationship can be proven, emerging research is showing promise.

Prospective controlled trials are currently being conducted in the United States investigating the MIND diet and cognitive decline. Results are due in the next few years, and it will be interesting to see if outcomes support its potential to effectively prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

What to Take Away

Based on current research, following the MIND diet (even a moderate amount) is a potentially beneficial way to decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. With the recommended foods commonly consumed in the Australian diet, making the shift should be relatively easy. So if like me, you are looking for a way to eat that focuses on maintaining brain health as you age, the MIND diet could be for you.

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