There are several types of diets that a person may follow in order to reach his or her health goal, wether that reason is to lose weight or simply to maintain their level of health. But did you you know that there is a diet which might lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? Any guesses? Give this article a read, and you will get to know the different health benefits of the MIND Diet.
MIND Diet: What is It?
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For many years, doctors have been directly correlating what you eat to your cardiovascular health. However, it is now believed that your diet may also affect the health and wellbeing of your brain. Furthermore, following a certain diet plan (in this case, the MIND diet), may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more, keep reading below!
Spelled out, the MIND Diet is the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet. It is a combination of the DASH (or, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterranean diets, both of which have been shown to improve cognition but did not set out to slow neurodegeneration. Researchers began to look for a diet that specifically structure to improve brain function and prevent dementia.
The MIND diet emphasizes the intake of legumes (think beans, peas, lentils etc.), fruits and vegetables. It also recommends more specific foods such as berries and leafy greens, which have been scientifically shown to slow cognitive decline. Additional testing has also shown that the level of adherence to the MIND diet’s directly correlates to its level of neuroprotective effects – stronger adherence means stronger neuroprotection.
What Foods Should You Eat?
By now we know what MIND means and why it was developed, but what about the kinds of food it includes? Below is a more elaborate list of which foods the diet encourages, based off the above examples. Remember: you are not required to consume the targeted amount of servings. A moderate amount is also good.
- Beans: this includes (but is not limited to) all kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, soybeans and lentils. Every week, you should include beans in at least four meals.
- Berries: twice a week, you should consume berry fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
- Fish: fish should be eaten at least once a week. Stick to fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna because they contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Leafy green vegetables: this includes spinach, cooked greens and salads. Aim aim for six or more servings per week.
- Nuts: each week, try to get five servings of nuts. Try to eat different types to get a variety of nutrients.
- Olive oil: you should use this as your main cooking oil, rather than vegetable or canola oil.
- Poultry: try to eat turkey or chicken at least twice a week. Be careful of how it is prepared. Remember that fried chicken is not encouraged in this diet.
- Whole grains: You should aim for at least three daily servings of whole grains including brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, 100% whole-wheat bread and quinoa.
- Wine: while both white and red wine can benefit our brain, most existing research has focused on resveratrol, a compound in red wine that may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. You should aim for no more than one glass daily.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
When following the MIND Diet, there are foods that you should limit your consumption of due to their high levels of trans-fat and saturated fats. These foods include:
- Red meat: this includes lamb, pork, beef and any by-products made of those types of meat. Try to consume no more than three servings per week.
- Fried food: this diet highly discourages fried food, particularly the kind sold at fast food restaurants. Do not consume this more than once per week.
- Cheese: limit your intake to less than once per week.
- Margarine and Butter: try to use olive oil as your primary cooking fat. You can dipping any bread you have in an olive oil and herbs mixture for flavour.
- Sweets and Pastries: this includes desserts and processed junk foods such as snack cakes, candy, ice cream, donuts, cookies and more. Try limiting your intake to no more than four times every week.
The Two Main Health Benefits of the MIND Diet
Here are two of the best health benefits of MIND diet:
It may reduce harmful Beta-Amyloid Proteins
Researchers believe that this diet may benefit the brain by reducing potentially harmful beta-amyloid proteins. While these protein fragments are naturally present in our body, they may accrue and form plaques, which can build up in the brain. With enough buildup, it can disrupt communication between the brain cells and may lead to brain cell death.
It may decrease inflammation and oxidative stress
Scientist think the MIND diet may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals, which are unstable molecules, accumulate in large amounts in the body, causing damage to the cells. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection and injury. Together, these two can be reasonably harmful to our brain.
Here’s where the MIND diet comes into play. The vitamin E found in olive oil, nuts, green leafy vegetables and the antioxidants from berries protects the brain from oxidative stress. Meanwhile, the omega-3 fatty acids from the fatty fish lower any swelling in the brain.