A diet, well known by the acronym MIND, significantly reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, even if you don't strictly follow the diet, according to a paper published online for subscribers in March in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Rapid nutrition epidemiologists Martha Claremorris, ScD, and her colleagues have developed the "Mediterranean Intervention-DASH for Neurodegenerative Delay" (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet reduced the risk of AD by up to 53% for those who adhered to the diet and about 35% for those who adhered to it.
"One of the most exciting things about this is that people who stick to the MIND diet moderately reduce the risk of AD," said Professor Morris, co-prime minister of community research and director of nutrition and nutrition epidemiology.
Morris and his colleagues have developed the MIND diet based on information gained from years of research that foods and nutrients have good and bad consequences for brain function. This is the first study to link the MIND diet to Alzheimer's disease.
Observational studies, such as observing individuals or measuring specific results without treatment, show that a Mediterranean diet has a lower risk of dementia, but not all. These studies compare cognitively normal people who ate a Mediterranean diet with those who ate a Western diet high in lean meat, saturated fat, and sugar.
Evidence supporting the MIND diet comes from observational studies of more than 900 elderly people without dementia, and close monitoring of the MIND diet is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline.
Not all studies show a link between proper diet and cognitive improvement. Evidence generally suggests this but does not prove that the use of the Mediterranean or similar diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease or slow cognitive decline. To find out more, scientists supported by NIA and other organizations are conducting clinical trials that are considered the gold standard for medical testing to shed more light on all causes and consequences.
Scientists still don't know why a Mediterranean diet can help the brain, but its effects on improving cardiovascular health may reduce the risk of dementia. Two recent studies suggest that eating fish as part of this diet is the strongest factor affecting higher and slower cognitive decline. In contrast, a typical Western diet increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and can accelerate brain aging.
In addition, a Mediterranean diet can increase certain nutrients that can protect the brain through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It can also suppress beta-amyloid deposits in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and improve cell metabolism in ways that protect them from the disease.