Mind: The diet including wine and blueberries which can 'halve Alzheimer's risk'

Followers eat a combination of a Mediterranean diet and foods which combat high blood pressure 

Kashmira Gander
Wednesday 20 January 2016 18:13

At the start of each New Year, diets old and new hit the headlines as people attempt to lose weight and transform their health for the better.

Along with sirt foods and the controversial ketogenic treatment, the Mind diet has come to the fore in 2016.

Scientists coined the term last year, following research which showed certain foods can protect a person from developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Mind stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, and combines food generally eaten in the European region alongside that believed to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

The foods which make up the diet had previously been proven to reduce the chance of a person developing cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

To compile the diet, researchers used prior studies to group foods which they believed would also lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s if eaten regularly.

The study at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago suggested that Mind lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by 53 per cent in participants who strictly kept to the diet, and around 35 per cent for those who followed it moderately well.

The Mind diet involves its followers eating at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day, as well drinking a glass of wine.

Those who follow the regime also snack on nuts on most days, and eat beans every other day. Poultry and berries are eaten twice a week, while fish is consumed weekly.

Dieters must also avoid certain foods, limiting themselves to less than a tablespoon of butter a day, and eating no more than a serving of fried or fast food a week.

Rush nutritional epidemiologist Dr Martha Clare Morris said when the study was released in March 2015: “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” adding: “strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.”

To test their hypothesis, the team recruited 923 volunteers and monitored what they ate. Participants then received points for eating Mind foods.

Researchers found that the longer a person ate the Mind diet, the lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

"You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time," said Dr Morris.

Responding to the findings, Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, who is not linked to the research, agreed that evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

“However, we don’t know which ingredients in this diet are the most important. It could be the increased intake of oily fish, nuts, and vegetables, the reduced intake of red meat and dairy products, or even the occasional glass of wine.

She added that the diet must now be tested in clinical trials across a more diverse population before it can be recommended.

“In addition to eating well, people should try to remain physically and mentally active and quit smoking to reduce their risk of developing dementia.”

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said at the time that the study was published that while age is a factor in developing the disease, a person's lifestyle may also play a role.

She said that while a healthy balanced diet including aspects of a typical Mediterranean diet is linked to a lower risk of dementia, "it’s often difficult to drill down to the particular aspect of diet, if there is one, that may be most beneficial."

"At the moment, it’s best to adopt a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and to avoid too many unhealthy treats," she added.

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