Study: MIND Diet Is Linked to Improved Cognitive Function

September 21, 2022

Both education level and physical activity may help to preserve cognitive function. In a recent study that was published in the Journal of Alzheimer'sDisease, researchers investigated if nutrition can improve cognition even when there are no underlying brain disorders like Alzheimer's.

The MIND Diet was the primary focus of the study since prior studies have shown it can significantly lower the risk of acquiring Alzheimer's disease (by more than 50%). The researchers discovered some fascinating things.

"We found that higher adherence to the MIND diet was associated with a better cognitive function proximate to death, and this association was independent of common brain pathology," says Klodian Dhana, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at the Rush Institute of Healthy Aging at Rush University Medical Center, and one of the authors of the study.

About the Study

Data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), a long-term investigation, were utilised by the researchers. Researchers looked at nutrition, cognitive tests, and dementia-related brain diseases in autopsy data for 569 deceased persons. They discovered a link between people who followed the MIND diet and improved cognitive performance and slower cognitive decline. This finding was made regardless of whether an autopsy revealed any evidence of Alzheimer's or other brain disorders.

This indicates that the MIND diet might guard against some of the cognitive decline brought on by brain illnesses. It might also aid elderly persons in developing cognitive resilience.

"We have shown that the MIND diet is associated with a slower cognitive decline and lower risk of dementia," says Dr. Dhana.

Without effective pharmaceutical treatments to halt or reduce the progression of Alzheimer's, the researchers feel this finding is important. It is heartening, they add, to be able to alter lifestyle choices that reduce the chance of rapid cognitive deterioration.

What is the MIND Diet?

Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay is known as MIND. Researchers developed a hybrid diet specifically to aid in enhancing brain function and preventing dementia as a result of the favorable effects observed from the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

"The MIND Diet encourages vegetables, berries, olive oil, nuts, whole grain, fish, beans, and poultry," says Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND, owner of The Geriatric Dietitian in Medford, Oregon.

Dodd continues by saying that adhering to the MIND Diet also entails consuming less servings of butter, margarine, red meat, fried foods, desserts, and cheese.

"I am not surprised that this recent study has found the MIND diet is helpful for cognition, even in older adults who do not have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease," says Dodd. "The MIND diet follows a healthy eating pattern high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein sources."

Why does the MIND diet help brain health?

According to experts, adults who adhere to the MIND diet have a slower overall rate of cognitive deterioration, which is comparable to 7.5 years of younger age. This is a result of the wholesome food combinations encouraged by the diet, which assist in lowering inflammation and maintaining the brain's white matter. The MIND diet is high in nutrients including folate, vitamin E, lutein-zeaxanthin, and flavonoids, all of which have enhanced cognitive effects. These nutrients have a reputation for being pro-cognitive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.

For instance, vitamin E, an antioxidant that shields neurons from harm resulting from oxidative stress brought on by free radicals, is present in almonds and green leafy vegetables. Berries also lessen oxidative stress, which slows the aging process of neurons. The MIND diet includes a variety of nutrients that together protect brain health.

"The MIND diet is developed based on the Mediterranean and DASH diets but with modifications that emphasize foods for brain health, such as green leafy vegetables and berries. These foods are sources of vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which are nutrients related to the risk of dementia," says Dr. Dhana.

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