MIND diet and Alzheimer's disease


Lifestyle interventions targeting diets can influence public health. Many trials have analyzed comprehensive diets, mainly focused on cardiovascular health. Such interventions include the Mediterranean diet and dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH).

However, data on brain health interventions are limited. The Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay (MIND) is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

MIND incorporates many DASH and Mediterranean diet components and some modifications to include foods putatively linked to slower cognitive decline and lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.

It emphasizes the use of plant-based foods, nuts, olive oil, and fish and limits the consumption of foods with high sugar and saturated fat, such as whole-fat cheese, sweets, fried foods, pastries, butter, and processed or red meat.

In a new study (Barnes LL, Dhana K, Liu X, et al. (2023) Trial of the MIND Diet for Prevention of Cognitive Decline in Older Persons. N Engl J Med.), researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of the MIND diet in older adults. Individuals aged 65 or above were eligible if they were overweight, scored at least 22 on the Montreal cognitive assessment, reported a family history of Alzheimer's dementia, and had sub-optimal diets. Subjects were recruited in Boston and Chicago, the United States (US), between January 2017 and April 2018.

All participants received dietary counseling throughout the trial. The MIND diet group received monthly supplies of blueberries, extra virgin olive oil, and mixed nuts.

The average MIND diet score at baseline was 7.7 and 7.8 in the MIND and control groups, respectively. MIND-diet subjects increased this score by 3.3 points to an average score of 11 at six months and maintained it throughout the trial.

On the other hand, controls increased it by 0.7 points.

The researchers did not observe any appreciable effect of the MIND diet on brain volumetric changes relative to the control diet.

MIND-diet participants had minor improvements in global cognition, similar to those following a control diet.

In sum, no significant differences in cognition and brain imaging were observed between MIND- and control-diet participants in this trial.