The MIND diet eating plan is a combination of two well-known and well-researched diets that are also effective at preventing cognitive decline
Sometimes it seems like there are so many diets on the market that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. But chiropractic wellness practitioners should be aware of the MIND diet eating plan because it can really help your patients in ways that singular diets can’t.
Andrea Nazarenko, PhD, owner of Old Mill Chiropractic and Family Wellness in Lexington, S.C., and author of the international best-selling book “When Food Hurts,” says that the MIND diet eating plan is “a combination of two well-known and well-researched diets: The Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Both the Mediterranean and the DASH diets are the effective at preventing cognitive decline, but they are not tailored specifically for brain health.”
Developed by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Ill., and the Harvard school of Public Health in Boston, Mass., the diet is in full called the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” abbreviated to MIND.
The diet was developed as a nutritional approach to specifically reduce cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
“MIND combines the ‘active ingredients’ of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet along with specific modifications based on evidence in the diet-dementia field to optimize its effects on brain health,” explains Nazarenko. “The diet is based on evidence-based and evidence-informed foods that promote brain health and limits foods that are unhealthy for the brain — for example, those with high-saturated fats.”
What is the MIND diet eating plan?
Nazarenko states that the MIND diet is based on whole foods. It features a high consumption of vegetables — especially green, leafy ones — as well as berries, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat sources of protein. To understand what some definitive foods are, Nazarenko says, “The specific foods and doses used in the clinical trial are as follows:”
- Leafy greens (0.5–1.0 cups/day)
- Other vegetables (0.5 cups/day)
- Nuts, mixed nuts, and/or peanut butter (5oz/week)
- Berries (0.5 cups, 5 times/week)
- Beans/legumes (0.5 cups, 3 times/week)
- Whole grains (3 servings/day)
- Fish, not fried (3–5 oz/week)
- Poultry (not fried, white meat/skinless) (3-5 oz, 2/week)
- Extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp/day)
Foods to avoid:
- Red and processed meats (No more than 3 servings [3-5 oz]/week)
- Butter and stick margarine (No more than 1 pat [tsp]/day)
- Whole fat cheese (Less than 1 oz./week)
- Pastries, candy bars, sweets (no more than 4 servings per week)
- Fried foods and fast food (no more than 1 meal per week)
Nazarenko also says that the unique features of MIND diet are that it is a dietary pattern, rather than a single nutrient or food — as opposed to a low-carb diet.
The benefits of the MIND diet eating plan are plentiful.
“The major purpose of the MIND diet is reduction of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s/dementia patients. It can be used and adapted to other populations who are interested in being proactive about brain health as a means to prevent cognitive decline,” says Nazarenko.
“The Mediterranean diet and DASH diet have many additional benefits that are likely to be seen in the MIND diet as well — lower risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke; improved gut health; decreased risk of autoimmunity, etc. An important feature of the diet is that the principles can be adapted to nearly any culture, making it compatible with cultural foods and traditions. It also fits nicely in ‘normal’ life without difficult restrictions. You can even drink wine in moderation!”