“MIND” is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets have been found to reduce the risk for hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke.
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy” food groups and five unhealthy groups (ie, red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food). To stick to the MIND diet, a person has to limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (<1 tablespoon/day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (<1 serving a week for any of the three). As for the brain-healthy foods, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable, and one other vegetable each day, along with having a glass of wine. They would also need to snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, and eat poultry and berries at least two times a week (berries are the only fruits allowed in the MIND diet) and fish at least once a week. The overall rate of change in cognitive score was a decline of 0.8 standardized score units per year. In mixed models adjusted for a variety of relevant factors, including age, sex, education, total energy intake, APOE4 carrier status, and participation in cognitive activities, the MIND diet score was “positively and statistically significantly” associated with slower decline in global cognitive score (β = 0.0092; P < .0001) and with five cognitive domains, especially episodic memory, semantic memory, and perceptual speed, the researchers report. If a person is eating in a manner that is heart healthy, that’s probably also going to be brain healthy, because the brain does use so much of the nutrients and the oxygen that are carried in the vascular system, and as you age, if your brain isn’t getting enough nutrients and oxygen, it is going to be less likely to be able to deal with other factors that cause Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline Results: Greater intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline (eg, for a global score averaging all 6 cognitive tests, for blueberries: p-trend ¼ 0.014 and mean difference ¼ 0.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] ¼ 0.01–0.07, comparing extreme categories of intake; for strawberries: p-trend ¼ 0.022 and mean difference ¼ 0.03, 95% CI ¼ 0.00–0.06, comparing extreme categories of intake), after adjusting for multiple potential confounders. These effect estimates were equivalent to those we found for approximately 1.5 to 2.5 years of age in our cohort, indicating that berry intake appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years. Additionally, in further supporting evidence, greater intakes of anthocyanidins and total flavonoids were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline (p-trends ¼ 0.015 and 0.053, respectively, for the global score). Interpretation: Higher intake of flavonoids, particularly from berries, appears to reduce rates of cognitive decline in older adults.
When it comes to single or multiple nutrients, the evidence has also exploded. For example, omega-3 fatty acids or E vitamins, curcumin, vitamin D, and caffeinated foods: These are all different dietary components that may or may not play a role in development of Alzheimer disease. Dr Martha Clare Morris and her colleagues from Rush University presented a great paper that studied very specific brain-healthy eating patterns, which she calls the MIND diet, with the results suggesting a reduction in the likelihood of developing cognitive impairment significantly over several years. omega-3 fatty acids: First of all, not all omega-3’s are created equal. DHA and EPA have the most evidence for reducing a person’s risk of developing cognitive decline. The key here is that certain people with different genes may respond preferentially; people with an ApoE4 gene may respond favorably while people without that gene may respond less. When it comes to Alzheimer’s treatment, those omega-3’s didn’t pan out in terms of randomized studies, but omega-3’s used for Alzheimer’s prevention or risk reduction are something we want to think about. Also, when it comes to personalized medicine based on genes, we can focus on Alzheimer disease in a new area called clinical precision medicine, where we look not only at genetics, but also at people’s individual biologies, nutritional patterns, and lifestyle patterns, and then give a clinically precise approach for treatment or prevention. For example, if a person has high homocysteine levels, then B complex vitamins—folic acid, B12, and B6—in randomized studies have been shown to slow overall brain atrophy as well as increase memory function. The key take-home point here is that B complex therapy only works in patients who have high homocysteine levels and those who have an adequate level of omega-3’s in the blood. When it comes to blueberries, you’ve heard about flavonols. Dark cocoa powder may be effective for boosting memory. You can’t just eat one blueberry and think you’re going to prevent or cure Alzheimer disease—it doesn’t work that way. But in the Nurses’ Health Study, a half a cup of blueberries two to three times a week was shown to delay the onset of cognitive decline.
Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study : This dietary intervention study provides evidence that regular CF consumption can reduce some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction, possibly through an improvement in insulin sensitivity. These data suggest that the habitual intake of flavanols can support healthy cognitive function with age. Abstract—Flavanol consumption is favorably associated with cognitive function. We tested the hypothesis that dietary flavanols might improve cognitive function in subjects with mild cognitive impairment. We conducted a double-blind, parallel arm study in 90 elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment randomized to consume once daily for 8 weeks a drink containing 990 mg (high flavanols), 520 mg (intermediate flavanols), or 45 mg (low flavanols) of cocoa flavanols per day. Cognitive function was assessed by Mini Mental State Examination, Trail Making Test A and B, and verbal fluency test. At the end of the follow-up period, Mini Mental State Examination was similar in the 3 treatment groups (P0.13). The time required to complete Trail Making Test A and Trail Making Test B was significantly (P0.05) lower in subjects assigned to high flavanols (38.1010.94 and 104.1028.73 seconds, respectively) and intermediate flavanols (40.2011.35 and 115.9728.35 seconds, respectively) in comparison with those assigned to low flavanols (52.6017.97 and 139.2343.02 seconds, respectively). Similarly, verbal fluency test score was significantly (P0.05) better in subjects assigned to high flavanols in comparison with those assigned to low flavanols (27.506.75 versus 22.308.09 words per 60 seconds). Insulin resistance, blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation also decreased among subjects in the high-flavanol and intermediate-flavanol groups. Changes of insulin resistance explained 40% of composite z score variability through the study period (partial r2 0.4013; P0.0001). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first dietary intervention study demonstrating that the regular consumption of cocoa flavanols might be effective in improving cognitive function in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment. This effect appears mediated in part by an improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Results Significant increases in regional perfusion across the brain were observed following consumption of the high flavanol drink relative to the low flavanol drink, particularly in the anterior cingulate cortex and the central opercular cortex of the parietal lobe.