In the last few years, the health of our brain has been a growing topic of interest. When we explore brain health, it’s not just about mental health. The brain is one of our most important organs to nourish, particularly as we age. Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the latest statistics from the CDC in 2017. With the natural aging process comes big changes, but we may be able to have some impact on how much and how quickly based on our lifestyle choices and eating habits. Can healthy eating really help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive decline?
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Enter the MIND Diet.
A newer kid on the block. The MIND Diet is specifically focused on brain health and slowing cognitive decline. Heralded by the U.S. News and World Report as the #5 Best Diets Overall, the MIND Diet was first introduced to the world in 2015 when the first study was released. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and the diet claims to be a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. The development of the MIND Diet was based on many years of examining the effect of food and nutrients on brain health. Chicago’s own Rush University Medical Center has been leading the way in this ground-breaking research.
The observational study data showed that the MIND Diet could significantly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease. If strictly followed, the MIND Diet can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 53% and even moderate adherence to the diet can potentially reduce the risk by 35%.
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So what is it exactly and how do I start?
Did I mention that it’s pretty easy to follow? The diet consists of 10 food groups that are considered to be “healthy brain” foods and five food groups that are “not so healthy” for the brain. Put in simple terms, 10 food groups to make a part of your weekly food routine, and five to limit. The best part? There is nothing to completely eliminate! You can still enjoy all your favorites, maybe just not every day. If you don’t see if listed below, that does not mean it is off limits. Moderation is recommended with all food types.
The easiest way to start is to use the chart below or make your own.
Can I lose weight?
Probably. The MIND Diet was not designed specifically for the purpose of weight loss and there isn’t much research to provide insight. However, the basics are just healthy eating, so yes, this RD says that weight loss is a possibility.
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The MIND Diet is still new and lacking in research to fully back up the claims. The previous observational studies have led to the funding of a large clinical trial currently underway in Chicago and Boston. Look for more information in the MIND Diet around the end of 2021. The diet is consistent with our current dietary guidelines and is a healthy choice. There is no reason that you can’t start following it now and The Chopping Block is a great resource with their new MIND Diet class on February 29th.
Due to popularity, a second session has been added on Saturday, March 28 12pm at Lincoln Square.