Home Health what it is, what to eat and why it is good for the brain

what it is, what to eat and why it is good for the brain

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A study confirms the benefits of the MIND diet which, in addition to being good for the brain, protects it from cognitive decline. Thanks to super foods

Mind in English means “mind”. But in the case of the Dieta MIND is an acronym: it stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Basically, MIND is a diet that aims to counteract the decline of the brain, which can occur as we get older, by combining the characteristics of 2 very popular diets: the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. According to the researchers, adults on the MIND diet have a slower overall rate of cognitive decline, which is equivalent to a brain 7.5 years younger.

Mind diet: what is it? –

Basically, MIND is a diet that encourages a diet of vegetables, berries, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fish, beans and poultry while discouraging the use of butter, margarine, red meat, fried, desserts and cheese.

Mind diet: what to eat

Here are some tips to put it into practice, making the most of the nutrients that characterize it.

  • Green leafy vegetables: Aim for six or more servings per week of kale, spinach, cooked vegetables and green salad.
  • Other vegetables: according to nutritionists who recommend MIND, we should also eat another vegetable, in addition to green leafy ones, at least once a day. But it is good to choose non-starchy vegetables, because they have fewer calories.
  • Berries: they should be eaten a couple of times a week. Although the research only talks about strawberries, doctors agree that other berries such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are also well known for their antioxidant benefits.
  • Dried fruit: Recently it has been discovered that in the right quantities dried fruit does not make us fat. In the MIND diet it is even recommended: at least 5 servings or more per week. The creators of MIND don’t specify what kind of nuts to consume, but it’s a good idea to vary the type of nuts we eat to get a variety of nutrients.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: use EVO oil as the main cooking oil. In Italy we are lucky: it is estimated that in our country there are about 825 thousand olive farms with a heritage of over 350 different cultivars, a richness and variety that has no equal in the world.
  • Whole grains: aim for at least 2/3 servings a day. And choose whole grains like spelled, kamut, rice, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, pasta and whole wheat bread.
  • Fish: should be eaten at least 1/2 times a week. It is best if fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Legumes: include legumes in at least 4 meals a week. The choice of the rest is wide: beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, etc.
  • Poultry: Chicken or turkey, according to the MIND diet, can be eaten a couple of times a week. As long as they are cooked in such a way as to enhance their leanness (therefore no fried chicken).
  • Came: okay, but no more than one glass a day. Both red and white wine can benefit the brain. However, most research has focused on resveratrol, an element found in red wine that appears to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

MIND diet: foods to avoid

Nutritionists who propose the MIND diet recommend limiting these foods:

  • Butter and margarine: avoid or use less than 1 tablespoon (about 14 grams) per day. The advice is to prefer olive oil as the main cooking fat.
  • Cheese: The MIND diet recommends limiting the consumption of cheese to less than once a week.
  • Red meat: no more than 2/3 portions a week (but it is always good for a nutritionist to establish the quantities we can eat, ed).
  • Fried food: the MIND diet strongly discourages them, especially those of fast-food restaurants. Advice? Limit consumption to less than once a week.
  • Pastries and sweets: this category includes most of the junk food and processed desserts that entice us: ice cream, cookies, brownies, snacks, donuts, candies… If not eliminated, they should be eaten a few times a week.

Researchers encourage a limit the consumption of these foods because they contain saturated fats and trans fats. And many studies have found that trans fats are associated with all kinds of diseases, including heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is the MIND diet good for the brain? –

Just take a look at the properties of the recommended foods to understand that the MIND diet is based on the combination of essential nutrients: it is rich in folate, vitamin E, lutein-zeaxanthin and flavonoids. All compounds known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pro-cognitive properties. For example, green leafy vegetables and nuts contain Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects neurons from stress-related damage oxidative caused by free radicals. And the berries help reverse neuronal aging by reducing oxidative stress. All foods in the MIND diet work synergistically to protect brain health.

Mind diet: how it protects us from Alzheimer’s –

The MIND diet hasn’t existed for a long time: the first official document that talks about it dates back to 2015. But despite being a young diet, it can already count on some important studies to support it. Among them, a study of 923 seniors which showed that people who followed the MIND diet had a 53% lower risk of Alzheimer’s compared to those who did not. The good news is that even people who had only moderately followed the MIND diet seemed to benefit from it and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by an average of 35%. Further confirmation also came from a recent study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to which greater adherence to the MIND diet is associated with better cognitive function even in very old age. In this case, the researchers studied the cases of 569 patients, discovering that this diet actually reduced cognitive decline, in some cases even that linked to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. According to Professor Klodian Dhana, of the Rush Institute of Healthy Aging and author of the study, this is an encouraging result, which confirms how much the lifestyle has and therefore a diet like MIND have their weight on our cognitive function over time.

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