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Alzheimer’s Prevention: MIND Diet

By Lee Nyberg, 3:55 pm on

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet gives me and other diet dropouts hope—hope for better brain and body health.

Rush University’s Dr. Martha Clare Morris’ comparative study of the MIND, Mediterranean, and DASH diets showed two important conclusions. One: Strict adherence to all three diets reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 53%, 54%, and 39%, respectively.  Two: Even a moderate adherence to the MIND diet reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 35%, but moderately following the other two diets did not affect Alzheimer’s risk.

The MIND diet focuses on the following food areas.

Eat:

  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale): 6+ servings/week
  • Other vegetables: 1+ serving/day
  • Nuts: 5 servings/week
  • Berries: 2+ servings/week
  • Beans: 3+ servings/week
  • Whole grains: 3+ serving/day
  • Fish: 1 servings/week
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey): 2 servings/week
  • Olive oil: Use it as your main cooking oil
  • Wine: One glass/day

Eat less of:

  • Red meat: Less than four servings/week
  • Butter and margarine: Less than a tablespoon/day
  • Cheese: Less than one serving/week
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings/week
  • Fried or fast food: Less than one serving/week

Notes:

    1. See http://nutritiondata.self.com/  for information on serving sizes.
    2. Check with your doctor about leafy greens if taking blood thinners.

 

The MIND diet appeals to me, even though I am a life-long hater of diets.  It doesn’t require permanently eliminating a class of food or go off track when you eat out. A grilled entrée and a spinach salad with vinaigrette dressing comply.

An evolutionary approach is the most effective way to change eating habits.

  1. Look honestly at what you’re eating for a week or two.
  2. Ease off on your worst habit, like fast food, over a couple of weeks.
  3. Commit to following any one area of the MIND diet for one week, not counting the “one glass of wine a day’ category (i.e., green leafy vegetables)
  4. Decide how and when you will add this to your eating; buy a week’s supply
  5. After your first week, commit to one month
  6. Consider gradual changes to make, such as “less” ice cream after dinner rather than “none.”
  7. Commit to additional foods one at a time
  8. Make a pact with a friend to start this change, and don’t give up if you stumble

I plan to reduce my taco habit to once a week and eat 6 servings a week of spinach or kale. Even though I already eat spinach about twice a week, I’ll have to eat three times more than I typically do to meet my goal.   For me, the simplest way will be to turn it into salad; 2 cups of raw spinach equals one serving. I may add half a serving to soup or pasta sauce or venture further with a recipe from “13 Ways to Eat More Greens,” (WebMD.com).  If all goes well, I’ll add blueberries next. These are pretty easy changes in the hope of drastically reducing my Alzheimer’s risk.

Changing what you eat can be hard but rewarding.  Duke University’s Dr. Doraiswamy says the MIND diet may reduce stroke and heart attack risk in addition to supporting brain health. Blueberries, anyone?