MAY/JUNE 2015 / ISSUE 22
THE BRAIN WELLNESS NEWSLETTER
The Diet for a Healthy Mind
By Jeffrey N. Keller, Ph
An article published in the February 2015 edition of Alzheimer’s and Dementia outlined the most exciting data in years on the topic of nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease, and I’d like to share that information with you. The study is from Rush University in Chicago by Dr. Martha C. Morris, a longtime supporter of Pennington Biomedical’s Institute for Dementia Prevention and Research (IDRP). Dr. Morris was on the advisory board for the IDRP and has continually helped guide our research. She is a world leader in the area of nutrition and dementia. In this article, Dr. Morris outlines her findings from a study that took place over a 4.5 year period and engaged 923 Chicagoans who did not have dementia at the start of the study. The individuals were aged 58-98. The study team analyzed the eating habits of the individuals over that time period, looking at changes in
their cognition, and measuring how diet habits correlated with the development of dementia. The study identified three different diets that were associated with decreased dementia and less cognitive decline over the 4.5 year study. The first of these beneficial dietary patterns was identified as a Mediterranean diet (olive oil, red wine, fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low fat). The second beneficial dietary pattern was identified as being in line with the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Pennington Biomedical was key in the development of the DASH Diet, serving as one of the sites that contributed to the clinical trials to test the diet. The DASH Diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean
meat, nuts-seeds, and low fat or fat free dairy products. The third dietary pattern was defined as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND). This fusion of the Mediterranean and DASH diets showed the greatest benefit, reducing dementia risk by 35 percent. Most impressively, the benefits of having reduced dementia were observed in not only the people who strictly adhered to the MIND diet, but were also observed in those individuals who were only moderately adherent to the MIND diet. MIND diet consists of the following features each day: at least 3 servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable, a glass of wine, and a serving of nuts; beans every other day; poultry and berries at least twice a week; fish at least once a week; and limits on the intake of fatty foods such as butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried foods. The fact that the MIND diet had such dramatic and beneficial associations with the preservation of cognition and reduced dementia risk has caused a great deal of excitement in the field. In particular, it looks like even a moderate adherence to the MIND diet may have dramatic beneficial impacts on cognitive health in the elderly. It is important to point out that this study is an association study – it does not show cause and effect. Several studies are in the works to conduct large scale clinical trials are designed to directly determine whether the MIND diet is able to slow cognitive decline and reduce the development of dementia.
For more information on dietary research and nutrition, Pennington Biomedical has numerous useful online resources for the DASH diet and related diets at https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/pennington-nutrition-series.
Morris MC, et al (2015) MIND diet associated with reduced
incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Feb
- pii: S1552-5260(15)00017-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009.
[Epub ahead of print