A new study by the researchers of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, has found that older individuals may improve their cognitive function by following a specific diet called the MIND diet, according to Science Daily.
The MIND diet could improve cognitive functions in older people even when they develop amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, which are accumulated in between nerve cells and interfere with thinking and problem-solving skills.
Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, who died last year, and her colleagues developed the MIND diet, which is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.
Previous studies have found that the MIND diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia.
The study, published last week in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, has shown that participants who followed the MIND diet moderately later in life did not have cognition problems.
Lead author Dr. Klodian Dhana said, “Some people have enough plaques and tangles in their brains to have a postmortem diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, but they do not develop clinical dementia in their lifetime.”
“Some have the ability to maintain cognitive function despite the accumulation of these pathologies in the brain,” he added, “and our study suggests that the MIND diet is associated with better cognitive functions independently of brain pathologies related to Alzheimer’s disease.”
In the MIND diet, a person would be asked to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day, along with a glass of wine. They were also allowed to have snacks most days on nuts and beans every other day or so. Furthermore, they ate poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week, according to Science Daily.
Dr. Dhana explained, “We found that a higher MIND diet score was associated with better memory and thinking skills independently of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and other common age-related brain pathologies. The diet seemed to have a protective capacity and may contribute to cognitive resilience in the elderly.”
“Diet changes can impact cognitive functioning and risk of dementia, for better or worse,” he added. “There are fairly simple diet and lifestyle changes a person could make that may help to slow cognitive decline with aging and contribute to brain health.”