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MIND Diet May Protect Against Alzheimer's

Mar 23, 2015 04:20 PM EDT
MIND diet

(Photo : matka_Wariatka / Fotolia)

A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to new research.

What's more amazing is that the diet doesn't even have to be strictly followed to be beneficial, researchers say.

Called the "Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay" (MIND) diet, it reportedly lowered the risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 53 percent - at least, for participants who followed the diet to a T. But even for those who adhered to it moderately well, the MIND diet lowered their AD risk by about 35 percent.

"One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD," nutritional epidemiologist and lead author Martha Clare Morris, from Rush University Medical Center, said in a statement. "I think that will motivate people."

So what exactly is in the miraculous MIND diet? Well, it's a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions like hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

The MIND diet is most beneficial to those who eat at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day - along with a glass of wine - frequently snacks on nuts, and has beans every other day or so. In addition, this diet requires eating poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. (Scroll to read on...)

Blueberries are included in the MIND diet, and are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain.
(Photo : Pixabay) Blueberries are included in the MIND diet, and are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain.

However, this doesn't mean if you adhere to these rules that you can also eat whatever else you want. According to the study, if you want to help prevent the onset of AD, you should also limit your intake of unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).

During the study, published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, researchers looked at the diets of 923 elderly participants from the Chicago area. While they did not tell them what to eat, volunteers earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. By the end of the study period, a total of 144 cases of AD developed.

While the MIND diet has been shown to be extremely beneficial, previous research has found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well. So what's to say that these diets are not just as good as the MIND diet?

Morris and her colleagues looked at the DASH and Mediterranean diets in their study, finding that they also reduced a person's risk of AD - by 39 percent and 54 percent, respectively. However, there were negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.

With the MIND diet, on the other hand, participants will see positive results whether they follow it extremely well or only moderately well. What's more, it's much easier to follow than the Mediterranean diet, for example, which calls for daily consumption of fish and 3-4 daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables.

And the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD.

"That probably means that people who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection," Morris said.

And with Alzheimer's being the most common form of dementia in th US, affecting nearly five million Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), changing something as simple as your diet can make all the difference.

And though further research is still needed to prove conclusively that the MIND diet really works on all populations, this study offers some hope to those who are, or may become afflicted with AD in the future.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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