food for thought

Researchers have found that people who stuck to a diet that included foods like berries, leafy greens, and fish had a decrease in their risk for the dementia and related brain diseases, which affects more than 5 million Americans over age 65. There is an eating plan associated with this research called the MIND diet, short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet combines elements of the Mediterranean diet, that features olive oil and vegetables, and the DASH diet, an eating plan developed specifically to help treat or prevent high blood pressure. The MIND diet is specifically designed to include foods and nutrients known to be good for the brain.

These are the foods you should eat regularly:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Berries, particularly blueberries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish, particularly salmon
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • A glass of wine a day


Other foods that have evidence of supporting brain health include black tea and avocado. While they are not included specifically in the MIND plan, there is evidence that they provide brain health benefits.

In addition to the recommended eating list, the MIND diet advocates limiting other foods. As a rule, limit red meat to no more than 4 servings per week. Given the research about eating red meat and the possibility of developing cancer, less is better. The diet recommends less than a tablespoon per day of butter or margarine. Margarine is really not a good choice for health, so I recommend butter. For starters, eating butter gives you a high level of satisfaction for your fat calories than margarine. Limit cheese to 1 serving per week. I hope this isn’t going to be the deal breaker for my brain health, because I love cheese. Fried or fast food should be limited to 1 time per week.

The big news is that at least one study showed that people who stuck to this plan lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 54%. The even bigger news is that adults who follow the diet only part of the time still cut their risk of the disease. Because you don’t have to stick to the plan perfectly to see benefits, you are more likely to follow the plan for the long haul. As with any plan, other aspects of your lifestyle are important too. Regular exercise and stress management also contribute to longer life, brain health and quality of life.

Aging well is increasingly important in a time when many Americans are living longer than their parents. Why not make sure your brain ages as gracefully as the rest of your body?

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.