Diet Changes Can Influence and Delay Alzheimer's Onset

The Mediterranean DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet may lower a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to findings published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. The study authors believed this is true even if the diet is not meticulously followed.

The Mediterranean DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet may lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to findings published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. The study authors believed this is true even if the diet is not meticulously followed.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago developed the MIND diet and tested it on nearly 1,000 patients aged 58 to 98 years who followed the diet for an average of 4.5 years in order to assess its effect on Alzheimer’s disease onset. However, the diet was not an intervention; instead, researchers examined the participants’ existing diets.

In an earlier study, the higher adherence to the MIND diet was associated with a slower cognitive decline. The MIND diet is an adjusted Mediterranean Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet developed based on the prior body of literature about Alzheimer’s disease onset.

The researchers noted that those with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets had reductions in Alzheimer’s disease onset at about 39% and 54% reductions, respectively. Those patients received negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the diets.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, most notably the 10 brain healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. There are five other groups that are considered more unhealthy, such as red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast foods.

The importance of the adherence mattered to see benefit: a person who was considered to be adhering to the MIND diet ate at least three servings of whole grains, a salad, and one other vegetable every day alongside a glass of wine and snacks like nuts on most days. About every other day, the person ate beans, and about twice a week consumed poultry and berries (specifically blueberries, though strawberries are also good for preventing Alzheimer’s onset). About once a week, the diet included fish.

Another highlight is that a person limited unhealthy food intake, like butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast foods.

“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 Alzheimer’s disease,” study author Martha Clare Morris, PhD, explained in a press release. “I think that will motivate people. I was so very pleased to see the outcome we got from the new diet.”