Did you know that the risk of dementia can be reduced by more than 50% through a targeted and conscious diet alone?

Incredibly, but has now been scientifically proven with high evidence.

Martha Martha Clare Morris, ScD, Professor of Epidemiology and Head of the Department of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology at Rush University, Chicago, Illinois, described in a presentation at the conference “The Role of Nutrition in Dementia – Prevention and Treatment” at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2015, results and conclusions from various studies on the relationship between diet and dementia.

She reviewed and evaluated studies on micronutrients in food, such as vitamin E, DHA and folic acid, in relation to their protective function against brain ageing. “It is surprising that the media often claims that these micronutrients have no protective function with regard to the brain’s cognitive abilities”, she observes. Clinical studies often make severe mistakes like starting a prospective study without taking into account the initial situation, i.e. the basic nutritional situation of the subjects. If such factors are considered however, significant protective effects result can happen – for example with the micronutrients mentioned above

The same applies to the evaluation of certain dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet. Often only the proportion of a general population that eats the right diet is considered, rather than the Mediterranean population’s intakes (which are much higher for food such as fish and vegetables than for an urban population). These procedures led to gross misconceptions about the relationship between diet and brain ageing.

the MIND-Study

The MIND study conducted by Martha C. Morris has now taken a much closer look at the effect of two diets – the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) – on cognitive decline and compared them to a new more advanced diet plan.  The MIND diet (Mediterranean DASH intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) uses the Mediterranean and DASH diets as a basis and modifies them in relation to foods that have already been identified by research as factors for improving cognitive function or delaying cognitive decline.

The research approach

The MIND study tracked 923 people aged 58 to 98 over an average of 4.5 years (in a range of two to 10 years). Compliance with the diet was assessed using a 154-element questionnaire and cognitive function was measured annually using 19 cognitive tests. The participant’s eating behaviour was evaluated using an evaluation grid, which shows to what extent a participant adheres to the MIND, DASH or Mediterranean diet.  For each of these diets, high compliance with the rules was associated with a greatly reduced risk of cognitive decline. For those who followed a diet most closely, the Mediterranean diet had the greatest effect. The top third of the followers showed a 54% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The MIND diet followed closely with a 53% reduction. 

However, the MIND diet was the most effective, since the middle third of the MIND diet followers (i.e. those who followed the diet recommendation only moderately) also showed a significant reduction in the AD risk (35%), which could not be proven with the other diets.

“In contrast to the other two diets studied, moderate compliance with the MIND diet significantly reduces the risk of dementia,” says Morris.

And this is how the MIND diet looks like:

 

High proportion Frequency Strongly limited portion Frequency
Green leafy vegetables Daily Red meat As little as possible
Other Vegetables At least once a day Butter and Margarine Less than one teaspoon a day
Nuts Daily Cheese Less than once a week
Berries At least twice a week Biscuits and sweets Only as an exception
Beans Every two days Fried or Fast food Less than once a week
wholegrain products 3 times a day
Fish At least once a week
Poultry At least twice a week
Olive oil Very often
Wein One glass a day

 

Conclusion: A diet that prevents cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease is relatively easy to maintain.  Even if the MIND diet is only moderately adhered to, significant effects can be expected. You only have to do it and, above all, pass it on. The dietary patterns in senior citizens and old people’s homes urgently need to be revised. You can do your children and grandchildren and yourself a favour if you get used to such a nutritional profile now. The candy floss or the Black Forest cherry cake for your birthday is certainly no problem, but the daily glass of cola certainly contributes to the slow mental decay.

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