Boost Your Brainpower and Keep Weight Off with the MIND Diet

By Roy Krebs

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Do you often find yourself reaching for quick processed foods on the go when you don’t have time to cook?

Are you looking for a diet that offers quick meals that are super nutritious and enjoyable?

There are so many diets out there today that it can be hard to just choose one and stick with it. 

Beyond that, we're constantly bombarded with information in the media that tells us that one diet "fad" is healthy one week, then the next it could be doing more harm than good.

High-protein diets like Atkins, for instance, can leave their followers at risk of various health problems.

And some experts claim that if these diets aren't followed properly, they can leave people lacking in mental and physical energy. 

Why? They're not nutritionally balanced.

Diets like Atkins and Keto have proven beneficial for people with specific health issues.

But any strict "diet" that isn't nutritionally complete can leave us unsatisfied, unhealthy and on the fast-track to feeling like a failure.

Related: Paleo Versus Keto: Which Diet is Best? 

The MIND diet, on the other hand, is a long-term eating plan that supports both our bodies and brains via optimal nutrition.

Though this diet is specifically designed to prevent hypertension and cognitive decline, it offers a huge range of other health benefits, including weight loss and better concentration. 

Curious? Read on to find out more about this sustainable and easy-to-follow eating plan.

 

What is the MIND Diet?

The Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay – otherwise known as the MIND Diet -- is a dietary approach to overall health and optimized brainpower.

It’s a combination of two popular dietary approaches.

  1. DASH is a low-sodium diet designed to balance blood pressure. It includes which foods high in nutrients like potassium, calcium and magnesium.
  2. The Mediterranean diet, based on vegetables, fruits, legumes and other whole foods. The Mediterranean diet is known for its cognitive and cardiovascular health benefits.

The MIND diet, developed by Martha Claire Morris, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University, Chicago, is comprised primarily of fish, fruits and vegetables, with olive oil as the primary source of fat.

It’s specifically focused on preventing dementia. [1]

How Does the MIND Diet Work to Boost Brainpower?

One recent study revealed that the MIND Diet was linked to a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline.

The study included close to 1000 participants ages 58 – 98 years of age over the course of 4.5 years.

The MIND Diet was considered to be a significant factor in lowering rates of cognitive decline in participants. [2]

Studies show that B vitamin deficiencies are common in the elderly, which can contribute to cognitive decline.

The MIND Diet is high in B vitamins, which may help stop gray matter atrophy and slow brain shrinkage.

Studies on the MIND Diet revealed that by boosting your intake of B12 foods, you may be able to reduce negative effects of a long-term B12 deficiency which can include nerve damage and dementia. [3,4]

Related: What Everyone Should Know about Age-Related Memory Loss and Sleep

What’s Different About the MIND Diet?

The best way to ensure long-term health is to find a diet plan that’s easy to stick with because it doesn’t feel restrictive.

The aim is to create everyday eating patterns out of foods that you enjoy, and that you will continue to feel full and satisfied from even after years of being on the same plan.

But the MIND diet contains 42 easy and flexible recipes. Take this strawberry banana smoothie, for instance – it, like every MIND Diet dish is packed with protective nutrients for your brain.

MIND Diet Berry Banana Smoothie 

  • 4 TBSP rolled oats
  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 1 cup rinsed strawberries, blueberries or other berry
  • 1¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1¼ cup low-fat milk
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • 1 TBSP flax or hempseed oil
  • Ice cubes

Directions: 

Add all of the ingredients (oats, banana, strawberries, yogurt, milk, orange juice and flax or hemp seed oil) into a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into a tall glass, and enjoy!

How Does the MIND Berry Banana Smoothie Support Brain Function?

  • Berries and grapes contain a unique antioxidant compound known as polyphenols which can protect us from age-related cognitive decline. [5]
  • Potassium is an essential mineral found inside every cell of your body and is needed to send electrical impulses between neurons (brain cells). Studies show that the potassium and magnesium found in bananas can help our brains function better as we age. [6]
  • Hemp / Flaxseed Oil is rich in omega-3 oils found in hemp and flaxseed oil help the body to heal from damage caused by omega-6/omega-3 imbalances. They may also reduce the risk of developing dementia. [7,8]

MIND Diet Foods & Serving Suggestions

The MIND Diet minimizes sugar, cheap filler fats and fast foods, all bad-for-your-brain foods linked to health problems like insulin resistance, unwanted weight gain and brain degeneration.

Here’s an overview of recommended servings:

  • Olive oil — use as the main cooking oil
  • Whole grains — 3 or more servings per day
  • Green leafy vegetables — 6 servings per week
  • Other vegetables — 1 serving per day
  • Nuts — 5 servings per week
  • Berries — 2 or more servings per week
  • Beans or legumes — 3 or more servings per week
  • Fish — 1 or more serving per week
  • Poultry — 2 or more servings per week
  • Wine — 1 serving per day

The Bottom Line on the MIND Diet

    Age-related brain degeneration is linked to the sixth leading cause of death: Alzheimer’s. [9]

    But research shows that a balanced, whole-foods based diet that's rich in healthy fats may play a role in preventing such devastating diseases.  

     

    If you're looking for a clearer head and a smaller waistline, the MIND diet is not only an easy eating plan, but will help you stay fit and healthy for life. 

    Have you had success on a similar diet, or have you been struggling with other types of diets? Join the conversation below!  

    1. Anderson, Pauline. "Hybrid MIND Diet May Preserve Cognition, Cut Dementia Risk." Medscape, Jul 19, 2017.

    2. Morris M.C., et al. "MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease." Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Sep; 11(9): 1007-14.

    3. Morris MC, Schneider JA. "Thoughts on B-vitamins and dementia." J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Aug; 9(4): 429-33.

    4. Douaud G, Refsum H. "Preventing Alzheimer's disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A. 2013 Jun 4; 110(23): 9523-8.

    5. Bensalem, Julien, Dal-Pan. "Protective effects of berry polyphenols against age-related cognitive impairment." Journal: Nutrition and Aging. 2015 3 (2-4): 89-106.

    6. Nicolas Cherbuin, Rajeev Kumar. "Dietary Mineral Intake and Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment: The PATH through Life Project." Front Aging Neurosci. 2014; 6: 4.

    7. Loef M, Walach H. "The omega-6/omega-3 ratio and dementia or cognitive decline: a systematic review on human studies and biological evidence." J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr. 2013;32(1):1-23.

    8. Yurko-Mauro K, McCarthy D. "Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline." Alzheimers Dement. 2010 Nov; 6 (6):456-64.

    9. "2018 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures report." ALZ.org 

     

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