How the MIND diet could help you ward off dementia

With Aussies living longer than ever before, unlocking the secrets to a sharper mind is crucial. Find out how the MIND diet can help ward off dementia.

The number of people living with dementia is expected to nearly double by 2054, according to new data from Dementia Australia.

Research data suggests what we eat can help lower our risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Enter the MIND diet — a dietary pattern specifically designed to benefit brain health as we age.

What is the MIND diet?

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.

It is based on foods and nutrients that are believed to protect brain health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

“Essentially, it’s a nutritional approach to help prevent dementia and the loss of brain function as people age,” nutritionist, naturopath and The Longevity Remedy founder Michaela Sparrow says.

“Food really is medicine, it’s quite amazing when you think about the significant effect it can have (on our health).”

Listen to Professor Kaarin Anstey talk about the benefits of the MIND Diet on The House of Wellness radio show.

What does the research say about the MIND diet?

The MIND diet was developed in 2015 by Rush University nutritional epidemiologist Professor Martha Morris.

Prof Morris led the groundbreaking US study that found the MIND diet substantially slowed cognitive decline with age.

Neuroscience Research Australia senior principal research scientist Professor Kaarin Anstey led an Australian-first study, published in 2019, on the MIND diet.

The study followed 1220 adults aged 60 and older for a period of 12 years.

“We found that people who adhered to the MIND diet had a reduced risk of developing cognitive impairment compared to the other participants,” Prof Anstey, who is also director of the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute, says.

The Australian study found following the MIND diet was linked to 19 per cent reduced odds of developing clinically diagnosed mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

While Prof Anstey says there are some genetic risk factors you can’t change, there are a number of steps you can take to boost your brain health, including diet and regular exercise.

“It’s never too late to adopt a brain-healthy lifestyle,” Prof Anstey says.

What to eat more of on the MIND diet

Michaela says the focus of the MIND diet is on increasing your intake of high-nutrient foods, including:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other veggies
  • Olive oil
  • Berries
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Wholegrains
  • Beans
  • Nuts

What foods should you limit on the MIND diet?

Prof Anstey recommends limiting foods with saturated and trans fats, such as:

  • Red or processed meat
  • Butter and margarine
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried foods

More on brain health:

Written by Bianca Carmona.