MIND diet linked to better cognitive performance: Study finds diet may contribute to cognitive resilience in the elderly

Aging can take a toll on your body and mind. The hallmark sign of Alzheimer's disease is abnormal protein clumps in the tissues of old human brains. These are the effects of Alzheimer's disease. How can you protect your brain?
Rush University Medical Center researchers discovered that an older adult may be able to benefit from the MIND diet, even if they have amyloid plaques or tangles. Plaques and tangles, a brain pathology that causes nerve cells to become irritated and block thinking, can be caused by the accumulation of protein between nerve cells.

The MIND diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris (ScD), a Rush nutrition epidemiologist and her colleagues. It is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and DASH diets. Research has shown that the MIND diet can reduce one's chance of developing Alzheimer's dementia.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease on September 14th, shows that those who followed the MIND diet moderately late in life didn't have cognition difficulties.

Klodian Dhana (MD, PhD), lead author of the paper and assistant professor in Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Rush Medical College, said that while some people may have enough plaques and tangles within their brains for an Alzheimer's post-mortem diagnosis, they don't develop clinical dementia.

"Some people are able to retain cognitive function even when there is an accumulation of brain pathologies. Our study shows that MIND diets can be associated with improved cognitive functions independent of any brain pathologies.


The researchers studied the effects of diet on cognitive function and brain pathologies in older adults who were part of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center's Memory and Aging project. This project began in 1997 and now includes residents of greater Chicago. Participants were mostly white and had no known dementia. All agreed to receive annual clinical evaluations and brain autopsy after death.

Researchers followed 569 participants. They were required to submit annual cognitive tests and evaluations to determine if they had memory or thinking problems. Participants were asked to complete an annual questionnaire on their food habits, which included information about the frequency with which they had eaten 144 different food items during the previous year.

The questionnaire responses were used to calculate a MIND diet score for each participant. This score was based on the frequency with which the participants consumed certain foods. The MIND diet includes 15 components. These include 10 "brain-healthy foods groups", cheese, butter and stick margarine as well as pastries, sweets, fried food, and fast food.

A person must eat three meals a day of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and one vegetable. They also need to drink a glass of wine every day. Limiting intake of unhealthy foods such as butter and sweets, pastries, whole-fat cheeses, and fast food must be done.

The researchers calculated each participant's MIND diet score based on their intake of healthy and unhealthy foods over the course of the study. To limit error in measurement, the average MIND diet score was used from the beginning of the study to the end of the participant's life. To confirm the accuracy of the results, seven sensitivity measures were used.

"We found that an increase in MIND score was associated with higher memory and thinking skills independent of Alzheimer's disease pathology or other age-related brain diseases. It may help with cognitive resilience and protect against Alzheimer's disease. Dhana said.

He said, "Diet changes can affect cognitive function and risk of developing dementia for the better or worse." "There are simple lifestyle and diet changes that can help slow cognitive decline as we age and improve brain health.