Everyone is always on the lookout for the latest diet fad. Well, here’s one you can pass along to your grandmother. The people behind the “MIND” diet say it kept elderly adults who strictly followed it seven and a half years cognitively younger than those who didn’t.
MIND is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Now you know why they use an acronym: The full name doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like “Paleo” or “South Beach.” Developed at the Rush University Medical Center specifically to help with cognitive functioning, the system is described as a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The plan breaks foods down into 15 different groups, ten of which are considered “brain-healthy” and five of which adherents are supposed to avoid.
The unhealthy foods are pretty much in line with what you might expect: red meat, butter and margarine, certain cheeses, sweets and pastries, and fried and fast food. The brain-healthy foods are a bit more interesting. Those on the diet are expected to eat plenty of whole grains, leafy greens and other vegetables, beans, nuts and the occasional chicken and fish meal. When it comes to fruits, only berries are allowed. And if you want to wash it all down with something, adherents are encouraged to drink a glass of wine.
In their most recent study, researchers at Rush University looked at 960 adults with an average age of around 80 over the course of about five years. What they found is that those that followed the diet most closely had slower mental decline than those who were the furthest away from the diet’s recommendations. “The study findings suggest that the MIND diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age,” wrote Rush’s Martha Clare Morris, in her team’s report published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
So bring your favorite bottle of wine over to the retirement center and tell grandma it’s time to work on her mental functioning.
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