MIND Your Diet for Better Brain Health
Some people follow a specific diet to lose weight, while others follow a diet to lower blood pressure or improve heart health. However, there’s one diet that has the potential to provide all those benefits plus delay or reduce the onset of cognitive decline: The MIND diet.
The MIND diet is a dietary program specifically designed for Neurodegenerative delay. This was formed by blending 2 highly effective diets: the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
The Mediterranean diet mainly focuses on a heart-healthy eating plan. The DASH diet aims to treat or prevent high blood pressure.
The MIND diet is different because it is designed to target brain health and reduce the risk of some neurological diseases such as dementia. The MIND diet encourages the consumption of a variety of foods that ultimately benefit both the nervous system and cognitive health.
At Aviv Clinics Dubai by DP World, our clinical team includes dietetic support for every client due to the important role of nutrition when it comes to cognitive and neurological health.
Essentials for the Brain
For optimal health, your brain needs specific nutrients such as
- Omega-3 fatty acids for strengthening brain cell structure
- Choline to help regulate memory, mood, and cognitive performance
- Flavonoids for regulating inflammation and improving blood flow
- Vitamin E for protection against inflammation
The MIND diet provides all of the above mentioned essential nutrients. The diet omits or limits foods with ingredients that could negatively impact the brain, like saturated fats and trans fats, which are believed to be responsible for increasing beta-amyloid protein levels in the brain. This protein accumulates in the brain and can disrupt communication between brain cells and ultimately lead to brain cell death.
Eating foods that contain these unhealthy fats have been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Examples of foods containing unhealthy fats are red meats, processed foods, and fried foods.
Foods containing antioxidants and vitamins—like what’s suggested as part of the MIND diet—may prevent the formation of these beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Plant-based foods also contain phytonutrients and antioxidants which is beneficial for overall health.
More than half of your brain is made up of omega-3 fats. Your body needs foods rich in omega-3 fats to provide the necessary protective anti-inflammatory benefits. Omega-3 foods includes
Healthy fats, known as polyunsaturated fats, found in fish oils, flax seed, walnuts, and cold-water fish for example, and monounsaturated fats, which have anti-inflammatory properties, obtained from eating avocado, nuts, and seeds, all provide the essential omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for optimal brain health.
How to Make the MIND Diet Work for You
The MIND diet encourages a diversity of healthy foods designed to deliver a multitude of brain health benefits. It includes foods rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants such as:
- Leafy Greens and Vegetables: eat at least 1 serving of leafy greens e.g. spinach every day.
- Berries: they are particularly emphasized in the MIND Diet due to their potential cognitive benefits. Aim for at least 2-3 servings weekly.
- Nuts: vary the type of nuts you eat to gain the most benefit. One serving of nuts equates to one handful or roughly 30 grams.
- Olive oil and olives
- Whole grain: Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and 100% whole-wheat bread.
- Fish: Choose fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, and mackerel for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to have oily fish once weekly and white fish once weekly.
- Beans, lentils and soybeans.
- Poultry: chicken, turkey.
- Stay hydrated.
Other tips include cooking at home to have better control over the ingredients and cooking methods. Also, be mindful of your portion sizes and create a meal plan to make it easier to adhere to the diet.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
- Butter and margarine: limit your intake to less than one tablespoon daily.
- Cheese: if you have cheese, the best options are the white cheeses such as feta/Greek cheese, halloumi, cottage cheese.
- Red meat: aim for no more than two servings each week.
- Fried food: the MIND diet highly discourages fried food, especially from fast-food restaurants. Limit consumption to a maximum of once weekly.
- Pastries and sweets: limit your intake to a couple of times a week.
The Bottom Line
Researchers are learning more and more about the link between cognition and the MIND diet. Please keep in mind, the MIND Diet is not a guarantee against cognitive decline or neurodegenerative diseases, but it may help reduce your risk and promote overall health. As you age and the risk of developing memory disorders like dementia increase, laying a firm foundation for healthier eating will become vital to maintaining quality of life.
As leaders in brain performance, the expert clinicians at Aviv Clinics Dubai help keep your mind and body healthy for years to come. With hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) at its core, cognitive and physical training, and nutrition coaching, the ground-breaking Aviv Medical Program enhances cognitive and physical function and triggers the body’s natural capabilities at self-regeneration.
Contact us for a free consultation and learn about how our nutritional coaching will enhance the benefits of the Aviv Medical Program.
The Effect of Coffee on Brain Health
Pour-over, solo, drip, French-pressed – however you enjoy your coffee, it may be doing more for you than just getting you going in the morning. Drinking coffee may also protect you from a variety of health conditions, so long as it is consumed in moderation.
For decades, coffee had a poor reputation because of early studies that deemed it a carcinogen and linked it to an increased risk for heart disease. Recent research now suggests that drinking coffee, including decaffeinated coffee, may actually provide a variety of health benefits when consumed in moderation.
The Benefits of Coffee on Brain Health
Some of coffee’s health benefits are commonly known, including that it boosts metabolism and increases energy levels. Lesser known, but perhaps more important benefits of coffee are that it also:
- Enhances brain function
- Lowers the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Decreases the risk of stroke and depression.
Beyond brain health, moderate consumption of coffee also helps reduce the risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Coffee’s Key Ingredients
Caffeine is just one of about 1,000 chemicals found in coffee beans, but is the best known. A stimulant, caffeine delivers a boost of energy and helps provide focus. It locks into the adenosine receptors in the brain, which cause drowsiness, and counteracts the sleepiness response by blocking the function of the receptors. Instead of feeling drowsy, caffeine stimulates the brain’s production of norepinephrine and dopamine, which is what leads to increased focus and alertness.
In addition to caffeine, coffee also contains beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants, which fight inflammation and protect against some diseases.
Polyphenols are organic compounds found in the coffee plant. They contain anti-inflammatory properties that have the potential to prevent or reduce the risk of certain cancers and other chronic health conditions. Some polyphenols may also protect against neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Consuming polyphenols also may help regulate metabolism, weight, and cell production.
Other beneficial components in coffee include vitamin B2 (riboflavin); vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid); vitamin B1 (thiamine); vitamin B3 (niacin); folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium; and phosphorus.
Coffee beans also are enriched so that when they are ground, blended, and consumed, provide some pre- and probiotic properties for good gut health.
The Cons of Drinking Coffee
While coffee has many health benefits, it can also have some negative effects. For example, it can:
- Disrupt sleep
- Cause anxiety and jitteriness
- Lead to an addiction to caffeine
- Cause withdrawal symptoms (headache, fatigue, brain fog, and irritability) when abstaining
- Increase feelings of anxiety and agitation in those with anxiety disorders
Moderating consumption is key to enjoying its benefits.
How Much Coffee Should You Drink?
As with most foods, coffee is a healthy beverage when consumed in moderation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than five cups a day or on average 400 mg of caffeine. Another reason for moderate consumption is because too much, especially after mid-day, could interfere with getting a good night’s sleep and may create feelings of anxiety.
Optimizing the Benefits of Coffee
While coffee has many health benefits, adding refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and/or creamers add calories and create an unhealthy beverage.
“The extra calories, sugar, and saturated fat in a coffee house beverage loaded with whipped cream and flavored syrup might offset any health benefits found in a basic black coffee.” – Harvard School of Public Health
How you brew your coffee also affects the health benefits it imparts.
For example, using a paper filter or checking coffee pods for built-in filters helps prevent the passage of unhealthy chemicals present in coffee as it filters. Some of these chemicals can raise levels of LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol.
The Bottom Line
Coffee has many health benefits, when drunk in moderation. Using high quality beans, brewing it with a paper filter, and limiting additions such as refined sugars and creamers, can optimize the impact of coffee on your brain health.
Aviv Clinics Dubai – brought to you by DP World delivers a highly effective, science-based treatment protocol to enhance overall brain performance, extend healthspan, and improve the cognitive and physical symptoms of conditions such as mild cognitive decline, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease. The Aviv Medical Program’s intensive treatment protocol uses hyperbaric oxygen therapy and includes nutrition management and dietitian support to optimize your diet for better brain health. Based on over a decade of research and development, the Aviv Medical Program is comprehensive and customized to your needs.
Contact us to learn more.