Does the MIND Diet Boost Your Memory?
Find out how you can eat your way to a better brain from Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute’s Roxanne Sukol, MD.
A recent study shows that eating well can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to one-third.
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The MIND diet mixes parts of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets to form the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet.
MIND focuses on foods with the most direct brain benefits and shuns foods that promote early aging; it recommends 10 brain-boosting foods to love and five brain bashers to limit.
Here, internal medicine specialist Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, MS, offers her perspective:
Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help your brain function well.
“Fish eat phytoplankton,” says Dr. Sukol, “which are rich in nutrients that reduce inflammation in both your brain and everywhere in your body. “You are what you eat, and you are what ‘what-you-eat’ eats.”
Choline (in egg yolks), a B vitamin, contributes to healthy brain function.
Poultry is a source of nourishing protein, though Dr. Sukol warns that meat from animals fed an industrial diet is best left at the supermarket. “Eat the highest quality protein you can afford,” she says. “Even if that means less animal protein overall.”
Studies have shown that eating red meat increases inflammation, which may speed memory loss.
A small amount of high-quality butter is okay on occasion,” says Dr. Sukol, “but avoid margarine and products made with soybean, corn or cottonseed oils, all of which are all sky high in omega-6 fatty acids.”
Omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation throughout our brains and bodies.
Limit cheese to small amounts of higher-quality products, such as from grass-fed animals.
“If it’s your birthday, sure. But these items entertain, they don’t nourish,” says Dr. Sukol. “Baking at home with whole-grain flour, dark chocolate, fruit and oats – that’s different. Most store-bought treats contain stripped carbs and pro-inflammatory oils which spike blood sugars and waste your insulin. This is associated with an increased risk of dementia.”
Both are built from stripped carbs and inflammatory oils. “Watch the words: fast food isn’t food; it’s fast. Junk food isn’t food; it’s junk. If you have to qualify it, it’s usually not food,” says Dr. Sukol.
Overall, Dr. Sukol says the MIND diet is based on sound science and offers helpful guidelines for a healthy diet.
Best of all? Moderation counts: the MIND diet offers brain benefits even when you don’t follow it to the letter.