Mind Diet

The Daily Express of the 2nd of April had a great front page ‘why watching TV can give you diabetes’ (Yes, I am sure it was the 2nd and not the first) and this is because too much sitting affects your metabolism, a topic we will discuss another time. However even more interesting was the whole page article on diet and dementia reporting that.

The report was of an article in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the journal of the American Alzheimers association, in which the researchers studied the effect of the MIND diet on the risk of developing intellectual impairment. The acronym MIND stands for  “Mediterranean-DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” diet. They combined the traditional Mediterranean diet with another diet developed for people with high blood pressure and called it MIND. They are starting to measure the effects of this diet and believe it to be beneficial.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

The MIND diet includes at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine. Dieters must limit eating the designated 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), to reduce the risk of dementia.

Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Martha Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

There is now more evidence on the preventability of the disorder we call dementia, including the benefits of exercise, both physical and mental and dietary research is now focused on this problem too.

We will return to this subject, for another helping of evidence.

Martha Clare Morris, Christy C. Tangney, Yamin Wang, Lisa L. Barnes, David Bennett, Neelum Aggarwal (2014)

Alzheimers and dementia.
Volume 10, Issue 4, Supplement, Page P166

About the author: Professor Sir Muir Gray, CBE

Muir Gray consults for springchicken.co.uk, the lifestyle website for older adults.

He recently described himself (in a tweet) as the Don Quixote of the NHS: “tilting, always tilting.” As Chief Knowledge Officer of the NHS his job was defined by what he does—promoting improved care by the better use of evidence. Born, raised, and educated in Glasgow, he was a surgeon before he turned to public health in the 1970s. In the rest of his life he is developing Better Value Healthcare, whose mission is to publish handbooks and development programmes designed to get more value from health care resources in England, and worldwide.

Muir’s most recent book: Sod 70, the guide to living well is available here>>>. He is also the Director of the National Campaign for Walking, is married with two daughters and lives in Oxford.