The MIND diet has become increasingly popular as recent research has shown it can slow brain aging by more than seven years and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A new study has shown another positive impact of the MIND diet: it may delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
These findings add to the growing amount of scientific evidence that links the MIND diet with preventing age-related cognitive decline. While there are no guarantees against developing cognitive issues, research clearly shows that what you eat directly impacts your brain health – as does avoiding the wrong kinds of foods.
What Is The MIND Diet?
MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. As the name suggests, MIND focuses on foods included in the Mediterranean and DASH diets (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) that impact brain health and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
The MIND diet is not a trend. Backed by medical research, the benefits of eating the MIND diet are not a matter of debate. For example, a study led by researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found the MIND diet reduced incidences of Alzheimer’s by up to 54%.
In general, the MIND diet encourages people to eat a daily diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils (such as olive oil and those found in fish). It also urges less intake of dairy, red meat, sugar and processed foods.
The MIND Diet and Parkinson’s Disease
The new study, published in the journal Movement Disorders, involved 167 people with Parkinson’s disease and 119 control subjects. The study measured the patients’ dietary intake and level of exercise for a year. Results were compared between those who followed the MIND diet and those who followed the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Researchers concluded that both men and women who followed either diet had a later onset of Parkinson’s disease. However, the MIND diet benefited women three times more than it did men.
Researchers speculated that women did better with the MIND diet because they tended to adhere to it more closely. Study participants also experienced lower cardiovascular risk, higher amounts of exercise and a lower body mass index.
Tips for Eating the MIND Diet
The MIND diet is not difficult to follow once you know the foods involved. It does not require special food preparation. Keep in mind that all diets work better – and have a better impact on brain health – when combined with routine exercise, plenty of water and other easy anti-aging habits you can start right now.
Eat Plenty of Vegetables
About half your daily calorie intake should come from vegetables and fruits. For the MIND diet, there’s a special focus on leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach and lettuce that contain Vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids. Just one serving a day can slow brain aging. The MIND diet calls for about six servings of greens a week, with an additional serving of vegetables each day.
Make Berries Your Treat
Medical scientists typically give the flavonoids in berries credit for how they benefit cognitive health. It doesn’t take much, either. Two to three servings a week can do the trick.
Make Nuts Your Snack
Grabbing a handful of nuts for a snack can provide benefits to the brain, as long as it’s the low (or zero) sodium kind that comes dry-roasted or raw. Nuts are high in fat, but it’s the healthy, unsaturated fats. They also have Vitamin E, which helps protect the brain.
Cook With Olive Oil
As with the Mediterranean diet, it’s important to cook with olive oil (extra virgin is the best) rather than butter or margarine. A smart choice is to buy olive oil in a dark glass, as light makes it go bad faster.
Find Meat Substitutes
The MIND diet recommends cutting back on red meat. The key here is finding foods rich in protein to replace red meat. Try adding vegetables with higher levels of protein, including broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes and Brussel sprouts. Legumes, lentils and soybeans also pack a lot of protein. High amounts of protein are also available in low-fat chicken, and the MIND diet recommends eating protein-rich fish such as tuna and salmon at least once a week.