A new diet could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by over 50%, a new study finds.
It is known as the ‘MIND diet’, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
It is a combination of a Mediterranean diet and a diet developed for cardiovascular health (DASH: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
The study tracked almost one thousand people for an average of 4.5 years to see whether they ate ‘brain healthy’ foods and if they developed Alzheimer’s disease.
There are 15 components to the MIND diet.
Ten of these are “brain-healthy food groups”:
- Green leafy vegetables,
- other vegetables,
- whole grains,
- olive oil
- and wine.
While five are in the unhealthy group:
- Red meats,
- butter and stick margarine,
- pastries and sweets,
- and fried or fast food.
The diet involves trying to eat at least three servings of whole grains, one other vegetable, a salad and a glass of wine on most days.
Ideally it includes beans on most days, snacking on nuts most days, poultry and berries twice a week and fish at least once a week.
For the unhealthy foods, people are advised to limit their intake of fried or fast food, cheese or butter to no more than one serving a week for any of the three.
The study did not get people to change their diet, it merely measured what they were already eating and tracked whether they developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist and the study’s first author, said:
“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD [Alzheimer’s disease].”
Even people who only followed the diet ‘moderately’ saw a 35% reduction in risk.
Only one specific food (rather than a group) made the MIND diet:
“Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain.
And strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.”
Because the study only suggests a link to Alzheimer’s disease, further tests will be needed, Dr Morris said:
“We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study.
The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.”
The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Morris et al., 2015)
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Alzheimer’s photo from Shutterstock