With the arrival of December, we nudge toward the inevitable end-of-year health accounting. Eating certain foods can improve our health and how we feel, so taking stock is useful.
We’re generally familiar with diets to help address a range of illness, but do you know about the MIND diet? It was named the MIND Diet by the research team who constructed it, led by Martha Morris of Rush University Medical Center.
MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.“ Morris’ research, published by NIH, shows that what you eat does make a difference in healthy brain function, including reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Here’s what the MIND diet looks like in summary:
- Greens—eat at least six leafy greens a week including kale, spinach, or lettuce, which are loaded with vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids, plus lots of other vegetables.
- Berries—eat these “sweet treats” at least two times a week; blueberries and strawberries are especially great, given their high levels of flavonoids.
- Nuts—aim for five or more servings a week, especially when dry-roasted with low salt and no sweeteners; with high levels of vitamin E, nuts are the perfect replacement to processed snacks like crackers.
- Olive oil—this is the best choice for cooking oil, replacing butter and margarine.
- Beans & lentils—packed with protein and fiber, plus B vitamins; try to consume these at least four times a week.
- Whole grains—eat at least three servings daily; look for options with “whole grain” listed in one of the first three ingredients.
- Fish—try to eat at least once a week, especially fish such as tuna and salmon, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Poultry—eat chicken or turkey once a week.
- Red wine—consume no more than one glass daily.
It’s equally helpful to consider avoidance. What should we limit in our diet? The MIND diet encourages us to go easy on the following five categories:
- Butter/margarine—opt for no more than one tablespoon daily; choose olive oil instead.
- Red meat—try for just three times a week; includes beef, pork, and lamb products.
- Processed sweets—no more than four times a week.
- Fried food—no more than once a week.
- Cheese—aim for just once a week.
Another resource is Uma Naidoo, MD, a nutritional psychiatrist, brain expert, and faculty member at Harvard Medical School. She offers important advice on foods that impact our brains in her 2020 book, This is Your Brain on Food.
ALICEhelps provides a way for you to securely request food or meals from supporting caregivers within your private community. Caregivers can easily share helpful menus, recipes, and other ideas for meals that are tailored just for your health needs.