How often do you hear adults or seniors say that they are “losing their minds” or can’t remember something that they just said? This has become so common that most people have become used to it and assume that brain-related problems are simply facts of life. Fortunately this is not reality, as there are many things people of all ages can do to sharpen their brains. This includes something that’s known as the MIND diet, which has been proven as an effective way of enhancing their mental focus, clarity and even memory. If you’re interested in experiencing these types of changes for yourself, then keep reading to learn more about this diet and useful tips.
What’s the MIND Diet?
Modeled after the popular Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet is a specific way of eating. For those curious what it stands for, the long name is “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay”. It’s meant to include nuts, fish, wine, and whole foods that help provide both the brain and heart with essential nutrients.
How Does the MIND Diet Work?
To get started with this diet, it’s important to become familiar with the ten foods that it emphasizes, which include:
- Leafy Greens
- Olive Oil
- Whole Grains
It’s easy to see why these foods are selected, as they are natural, packed full of nutrients, and have high levels of heart-healthy fats. Once you put these foods on your shopping list, it’s important to take a few others off. Goodies like fast food, fried food, sweets, cheese, and even read meat and butter should also be very limited while on this diet. While this might be a bit of an adjustment if you’re used to a diet with a lot of processed foods, it can be well worth it. That’s because the lean proteins, fiber, and health fats are all helpful for lowering your risk of dementia and keeping your brain healthy.
If you’re wondering if there’s a meal plan or set times you have to eat, you may be delighted to find that the MIND diet allows you a lot of freedom. As long as you’re sticking with the foods listed above for each of your meals and all of your snacks, you’ll be providing your entire body with a large number of vitamins and nutrients. However, as a general rule of thumb you should try to eat at least 3 servings of leafy greens and whole grains per day while using olive oil to cook or season with. When it comes to snack or meals, what you make is up to you.
To give you an idea of other ways to fit these foods into your diet, read the options below. You’ll find that they make it easy to fit healthy foods into your week without having the pressure of eating them all on a daily basis.
- Seven or more servings of green leafy vegetables
- Two servings of berries per week
- One serving of fish per week
- Mixed nuts for snacks
Check out this green juice recipe, a tasty drink packed with MIND food ingredients.
What happens if you make a mistake, like eating a cookie when out to lunch? Don’t worry. Even if you don’t follow this diet perfectly you’re still likely to experience the brain-boosting benefits that it has to offer. In fact, a study of individuals doing the MIND diet found that even if they didn’t follow it exactly they still reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by an astounding 35%. However, those who follow it more closely may be able to reduce the risk of this disease up to 53%.
The Connection Between Your Brain and Your Diet
While it’s true that some functionality is likely to decline at least a small amount as you get older, studies on the MIND diet have shown that it can greatly promote a healthier brain. This is because it includes nutrients that scientists have found to help maintain problem-solving skills, enhance memory, and preserve other mental abilities for much longer. Cutting out unhealthy foods such as fast food or fried food also helps, as it lessens the negative impact that those can have on the brain, heart, and entire body overall. Even just following this diet loosely truly does do the brain good, especially if you’re focusing on healthier lifestyle choices on a daily basis.
Success With the Mind Diet and Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight in addition to doing something good for your brain, then this diet can be incredibly beneficial. However, you may need to tweak a few things before you get started in order to see the weight loss you desire. These include:
While the MIND diet boasts that you can eat as much as you want of the foods that it recommends, this may not be beneficial for those who are trying to lose weight. In situations like these, you must watch your portion sizes and calories to ensure you create a deficit on a daily basis. Fortunately by doing so, this can add up to many extra pounds of fat lost every month.
Don’t Forget the Protein
Eating protein whenever you reach for carbohydrates is important because it helps make fiber work even harder. This means you stay full for longer, don’t have as many cravings, and have steady blood sugar for longer.
Cut Back on Sweets
Even if you divulge with foods that you’re not supposed to eat, try not to make it a habit. This can pack on a lot of extra calories each day and result in weight gain despite your efforts to stay true to the MIND diet.
Tips for a Healthy Brain
Some additional tips for keeping your brain healthy and sharp include:
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help maintain brain tissue and connections so you stay sharper for longer.
- Stop Smoking: Quitting smoking can help increase your mental health.
- Exercise Your Brain: Just as you exercise your body, you should exercise your mind with games. Even something as simple as a card game or brain teaser can help you build new connections and maintain connections you already have.
- Try Something New: Meeting new people or trying a new activity has been found to help keep the brain sharp while decreasing the chances of depression.