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.