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What is the MIND diet?

By | October 21st, 2020

The mind diet is a diet with specific nutritious foods for brain health. I’ve been doing research on nutrition in the brain for over 25 years, studying individual nutrients, by starting with antioxidant nutrients. We looked at fat composition, fruits and vegetables, and seafood, and for all of them, we found to be associated with slower decline in cognitive abilities and a reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. We thought it was time to do a randomized trial where you ask people to change their diets and follow a certain diet to see what effects it had on the brain. So that’s the standard by which we say that a risk factor is causal in protecting the brain (by a randomized trial). For the trial, we came up with a diet based on years of research consisting of foods high in nutrients we’ve learned are good for the brain, and we also provided a score to show how well people were following the mine diets. We tested it out and collected diet on this population for years, took the questionnaires they filled out and what food they consumed, and then we assigned a mind score. Then, we look at their cognitive abilities over time. We found that people who scored in the top third in the mind scores had very little change in their cognitive abilities over time. They were the equivalent of being seven and a half years younger in age compared to people who scored lowest on the diet. Then we looked at who developed Alzheimer’s disease, and we found that people who had the highest scores had a 53 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Even those in the intermediate range for adhering to the diet still had a 35 percent reduction. We found a strong association, which then allowed us to go forward which is ongoing as we speak.

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