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The MIND Diet for Brain Health

Render illustration of "MIND DIET" title on head silhouette with cloudy sky as a background.

It’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your brain health. In fact, diet is an important predictor of how well our brain ages.

The MIND diet stands for “Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” and its goal is to prevent dementia and loss of brain function as we age. The MIND diet is a blend of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet.

The Mediterranean Diet is based on the traditional foods enjoyed by those living in Mediterranean countries including Italy and Greece. Researchers found that these people actually had a lower risk of diseases such as heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and premature death. This diet focuses on eating vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.

The DASH Diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Research shows that this diet is helpful in lowering high blood pressure. This diet also emphasizes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes as well as low fat dairy products and lean protein.

When followed rigorously, the MIND Diet results in a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. When the MIND Diet is followed modestly (i.e. not perfectly), it still results in a 35% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the MIND Diet, here are the 10 foods to eat for brain health:
– green leafy vegetables – at least 1 dark green salad every day
– other vegetables – at least 1 other vegetable every day
– whole grains – at least 3 servings every day
– nuts – at least 1 ounce (30 g) every day
– beans or legumes – at least every other day
– berries – at least twice a week
– fish – at least once a week
– poultry – at least twice a week
– olive oil – this is the oil of choice
– wine. If you don’t drink alcohol, purple grape juice provides many of the same benefits.

And here are the 5 foods to avoid/limit:
– red meat
– butter/margarine
– cheese
– pastries/sweets and
– fried fast food.

Unlock the Potential of Food – here’s what FOOD can do for YOU!

Unlock potential of food

As dietitians, we are passionate about the potential of food and its connection to health! For March – Nutrition Month, and all year long, celebrate these benefits of delicious, wholesome, nourishing food.

Food can FUEL your body and mind. According to the Dietitians of Canada, almost half of Canadians say that eating a balanced diet is challenging for them because they are so busy, and nearly 30% turn to snacks to stay fuelled. The right food choices will not only energize you but also maximize your creativity and productivity! For a healthy snack, we love combining produce with protein – try egg and avocado toast, peanut butter on apple slices, or tuna with veggie sticks. Work with me to create wellness foodservice menus or to build a positive nutrition workplace environment.

Food can help kids DISCOVER healthy eating. Did you know that 38% of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack? Let’s get kids in the kitchen! Kids are more likely to eat what they’ve made, so take the opportunity to help kids discover and be adventurous with food. Find a recipe that you can make together. Try new foods and flavours. Shop for groceries together too.

Food can PREVENT health problems. Healthy eating, being active and living smoke-free together can prevent about 80% of premature stroke and heart disease. There are many different “diets” or “eating patterns” such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet and the MIND diet. Find out more about these diets at my upcoming 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course on April 18th. We’ll look beyond the fad diets and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Food can HEAL. Dietitians believe in and understand the potential of food to help you heal and feel your best. Work with a dietitian to heal during illness and enhance your health. As the trusted food and nutrition experts, dietitians can help you: manage your blood sugar levels, lower your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol, manage the side effects of cancer care treatments, navigate a gluten-free diet, reach / maintain a healthy weight, and stay nourished when eating/swallowing is a challenge.

Food can BRING US TOGETHER. Eating together has benefits for everyone! Children who eat with their families tend to eat more veggies and fruit, consume fewer less sugar-sweetened drinks, have better academic performance, are at a lower risk for being overweight and have a lower chance of developing eating disorders. Teens who eat with their families get better grades and are less likely to smoke, use drugs or alcohol, or engage in serious fights. Adults who eat with friends and family eat more vegetables and fruit, drink less pop and have a healthier weight. Older adults who eat as part of a group setting have better overall nutrient intakes and lower rates of malnutrition. Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, snack or yes, even dessert – take time to sit down and enjoy food in the company of others!

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