What is MIND Diet? Tips to Incorporate it in Your Meals
MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets
MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets(Photo: iStockphoto)

What is MIND Diet? Tips to Incorporate it in Your Meals

According to a recent study, a special diet prepared for the mind can help reduce the risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. The study was conducted on 1,220 people aged 60 and above, over the course of 12 years. This diet is known as The MIND (Mediterranean- DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) Diet that helps in preventing dementia.

What is the MIND Diet?

Mediterranean- DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet or the MIND Diet combines two diet portions, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet.

MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, it is a scientific diet which has been found beneficial. It is a healthy version of diet and should be adopted by all.
Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietician and HOD, Dept. of Nutrition and Dietetics, Apollo Hospitals

Diet and Dementia

Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietician and HOD, Dept. of Nutrition and Dietetics, Apollo Hospitals, says that whatever you eat has a very deep impact on your brain. Can any diet type slow down the cognitive decline? Yes, diet has a very important role to play here, says Dr. Rohatgi.

High intake of sugary drinks High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) may be especially harmful, causing brain inflammation and impairing memory and learning. One must refrain from using smoked meats as these contain Nitrosamines, which cause the liver to produce fats that are toxic to the brain. One must also refrain from consumption of trans fats.
Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietician and HOD, Dept. of Nutrition and Dietetics, Apollo Hospitals

Also Read : Decoded: What Helps People Live Well With Dementia

10 Foods under the MIND Diet

The MIND diet encourages the use of the following foods:

1. Green Leafy Vegetables

Various nutrients found in green leafy vegetables ( folate, vitamin E, carotenoids, flavonoids) help in preventing dementia and cognitive damage. It is advised that leafy vegetables be consumed at least 6 times a week. This includes coriander, amaranth, spinach, cooked greens, kneaded into the rotis/ bread, added to rice and can also be a part of raita and salads.

Leafy vegetables help in preventing dementia and cognitive damage.
Leafy vegetables help in preventing dementia and cognitive damage.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

2. All other vegetables

Studies have shown that consumption of vegetables helps in reducing damage to cognitive function. Hence, it is advised to consume vegetables at least once a day.

For selection of vegetables Dr. Rohatgi advises to focus on traffic light colours. It is best to choose non-starchy vegetables because they have a lot of nutrients with a low number of calories.

3. Nuts

Nuts are a rich source of vitamin E, which is important for the neuroprotection of the brain. Nuts are an important part of the MIND diet and at least 5 servings of nuts are recommended per week. It is best to have a variety of nuts to obtain a variety of nutrients. A mix of sunflower, pumpkin, watermelon and muskmelon seeds is good.

Also Read : FitQuiz: What Are the Health Benefits of Nuts, Seeds & Dry Fruits?

4. Berries

Having berries improves memory and learning ability exponentially. Under the MIND diet it is essential to eat berries at least twice a week to reap the benefits of the antioxidants.

5. Beans

Dr. Rohatgi recommends consumption of beans in at least 4 meals a week. This includes all beans, lentils and soybeans. These are rich in antioxidants and protein.

Also Read : Eating Nuts Daily May Prevent Dementia: Study

6. Whole grains

Aim for at least 50% of the cereal intake to be whole grains like oatmeal, unrefined whole millet, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and 100% whole-wheat bread. Consumption of whole grains is imperative for roughage and should be consumed at least thrice a week.

No processed flour please! Stick to whole grains.
No processed flour please! Stick to whole grains.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

7. Seafood

It is observed that having fish at least once a week greatly reduces the risk of dementia. However, it must be noted that the fish should not be fried.

It is best to choose fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Also Read : Eating Fish May Help Prevent Asthma: Study 

8. Poultry

Chicken and turkey are recommended at least twice a week as they are rick in protein. However fried chicken is not encouraged on the MIND diet.

9. Healthy Oils

Using the right quality and quantity of oil while cooking is extremely important. Olive oil may also be used while cooking food.

Using the right quality and quantity of oil while cooking is extremely important
Using the right quality and quantity of oil while cooking is extremely important
(Photo: iStock)

10. Wine

The MIND diet also recommends wine but in limited quantities. Studies suggest that wine may protect the brain from stroke damage and also helps in preventing vision loss.

Also Read : Canola Oil May Worsen Memory, Cause Weight Gain: Study

What to Avoid ?

The MIND diet recommends limiting your cheese consumption to less than once per week.
The MIND diet recommends limiting your cheese consumption to less than once per week.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

According to the MIND diet, one should limit the consumption of foods which are unhealthy for the brain. Dr. Rohatgi mentions the following should be avoid while on the MIND diet:

  • Unhealthy fats like hydrogenated butter and margarine
  • Cheese: The MIND diet recommends limiting your cheese consumption to less than once per week.
  • Red meat: Aim for no more than three servings each week. This includes all beef, pork, lamb and products made from these meats.
  • Fried food: The MIND diet highly discourages fried food, especially the kind from fast-food restaurants. Limit your consumption to less than once per week
  • Pastries and sweets: This includes most of the processed junk food and desserts you can think of. Ice cream, cookies, brownies, snack cakes, donuts, candy and more. Try to limit these to no more than four times a week.
According to Dr Rohtagi Researchers encourage limiting your consumption of these foods because they contain saturated fats and trans fats. Studies have found that trans fats are clearly associated with all sorts of diseases, including heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Also Read : Is Your Unhealthy Gut Linked to Your Mental Health? Find Out

When is it Necessary to Follow the MIND Diet?

Eating healthy is a life long requirement, anyone who does not want to fall prey to an unhealthy life must follow. People with family history of Alzheimer’s , neurological and psychological challenges are more vulnerable hence must definitely follow the MIND diet. If a person is already suffering from cognitive impairment or dementia they must follow MIND diet.
Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietician and HOD, Dept. of Nutrition and Dietetics, Apollo Hospitals

What Makes the Mind Diet so Special?

Dr. Rohatgi gives 2 reasons as to what makes the MIND diet special:

1. The MIND Diet May Decrease Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Oxidative stress occurs when unstable molecules called free radicals accumulate in the body in large quantities. This often causes damage to cells. The brain is especially vulnerable to this type of damage.Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury and infection. But if it’s not properly regulated, inflammation can also be harmful and contribute to many chronic diseases. Together, oxidative stress and inflammation can be quite detrimental to the brain. Following the Mediterranean and DASH diets has been associated with lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation .

Because the MIND diet is a hybrid of these two diets, the foods that make up the MIND diet probably also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

The antioxidants in berries and the vitamin E in nut and oilseed oil, green leafy vegetables and nuts are thought to benefit brain function by protecting the brain from oxidative stress Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish are well-known for their ability to lower inflammation in the brain, and have been associated with slower loss of brain function.

2. The MIND Diet May Reduce Harmful Beta-Amyloid Proteins

Beta-amyloid proteins are protein fragments found naturally in the body.However, they can accumulate and form plaques that build up in the brain, disrupting communication between brain cells and eventually leading to brain cell death .In fact, many scientists believe these plaques are one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

The MIND diet was created to help prevent dementia and slow the loss of brain function that can happen with age. Early research shows that closely following the MIND diet is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slower loss of brain function over time. However, more research is needed to understand the diet’s effects. Because the MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, it wouldn’t be surprising if future research shows it offers other health benefits associated with these two diets. But for now, if you are looking for a way of eating that focuses on maintaining brain health as you age, the MIND diet is a great approach that’s simple to follow.

Also Read : Mediterranean Diet Named the Best for 2019. What is It?

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