Dieting and Mental Health: The MIND Diet

Dieting and Mental Health: The MIND Diet

Healthy Eating for Your Brain

Dieting and Mental Health:
The MIND Diet

This blog will be continuing the theme of healthy living, but this time we will focus on dieting. The diet that is recommended to help prevent neurodegenerative diseases is called the MIND diet.  MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” As the name states, the MIND diet is an informal combination of two different diets: the Mediterranean diet and DASH.

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet has developed from the observation that people who live on the Mediterranean—Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, for instance—live longer and are healthier than many Americans. This generally means that societies that eat a certain Mediterranean diet have less instances of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. This may be because their diets are similar, consisting a lot of grains, nuts, beans, fresh vegetables, olive oil, seafood, minimal red meats, and some wine. Because each country along the Mediterranean has its own unique cultural history and cuisine, each Mediterranean diet can differ. As a result of this diversity, the popularized Mediterranean diet is best seen as an approach to cooking and eating rather than a rigid diet.

For more information on the Mediterranean diet including tips and health facts click here.

Where the Mediterranean diet is more variable, the DASH diet is more rigid. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The diet, as the name implies, is meant to decrease high blood pressure, but it is also a great diet to follow for overall physical and mental health. It recommends a certain calorie amount depending on your age and activity levels. Based off of the previous information, the diet then prescribes specific amounts of servings per day for grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, lean meats, nuts, legumes, fats, and sugars.

For a detailed description of the DASH diet and to start your own eating plan click here.

The MIND diet

The MIND diet takes these two diets and suggests the healthiest foods from both. According to US News & World Report – Wellness:

The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. Meanwhile, MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.[1]

The logic behind selecting the foods in the MIND diet is to promote brain health. According to the same report, people who follow the MIND diet “moderately well” lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 53%.[2] But the MIND diet will likely have effects beyond its goal to improve brain health. Following the MIND diet, as with the Mediterranean and DASH diets, may lead to lowered blood pressure, weight loss, and overall physical health.

Most diets and healthy lifestyles usually recommend exercise such as walking, doing outdoor activities, yardwork, etc. To start an exercise regimen it is important to speak to your doctor before beginning. There is no reason not to start a diet and it is never too late to live a healthy lifestyle.

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[1]“MIND Diet,” US News & World Report, Last modified n/a, accessed August 25, 2016, http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mind-diet,
[2] Ibid.