Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay
Are there choices that you could be making in your diet now that could slow cognitive decline and even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? A growing body of evidence is showing that this might be the case. Researchers from Rush University in Chicago created a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet resulting in the MIND diet or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
The study followed over 900 participants ages 58-98 for a period of 4.5 years and in that time researches saw a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s in 53% in those strictly following the diet. Not ready to commit? Even in those participants following the diet only moderately well had a 35% risk reduction.
What’s Included in the Diet?
The MIND diet identifies 15 main components: 10 brain-healthy foods to include and 5 foods to avoid. As you would expect being rooted in the Mediterranean and DASH diets, the MIND diet emphasizes plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. It limits added sugars, refined flours, and saturated fats.
10 Brain-Healthy Foods:
- Leafy greens – 6 servings a week- With at least one additional serving of vegetables a day
- Berries- 2 servings a week
- Beans – 4 servings a week
- Nuts – 5 servings per week
- Whole grains – 3 servings a day
- Fish – once a week
- Poultry -twice a week
- Red wine- one glass a day
5 Foods to Avoid While Following the MIND Diet:
- Red meat – no more than 4 servings a week
- Butter – no more than 1 ½ teaspoons a day
- Pastries and sweets – no more than 5 servings a week
- Fried and fast foods – less than 1 serving a week
- Cheese – less than 1 serving a week
What Can You Do?
My take-home from this? Next time you are working on putting together your weekly shopping list think about these 15 foods. How often are you incorporating the “foods to avoid” and how often do you come close to meeting the recommendations for the “food to include”? If your ready to make some changes, start slow and focus on 1-2 things that you could add. Maybe picking up some frozen berries that you can work on adding to yogurt or oatmeal a couple of mornings a week. Or try my 3 bean turkey chili recipe for a serving of both beans and poultry. Starting slow and picking one or two things to focus on at a time can help ensure you keep up the habit long term and that is likely what is going to make the largest difference.
Estimating Hydration Needs:
When talking about health and diet, the topic of hydration often comes up, and rightly so if you think about the fact that the average human body is comprised of 55-70% water. Water is so essential to human life that without it humans cannot survive more than a few days, so it’s no surprise that there would be questions about optimizing intake. But how much do we need?
We have all heard the advice to drink 8 glasses of water per day, which converts to just under 2 liters. Other proposed ways to estimate needs include the Holliday-Segar method which is a weight based calculation and, for example, works out to be approximately 2.7 L per day for a 180-pound individual. Another popular method is calorie based with a starting point of 1 ml of fluid for every kcal consumed. To investigate this further the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) gathered a panel of experts to evaluate the data. In their 2004 consensus report, they concluded that the majority of healthy adults are able to meet hydration needs by responding to their thirst cues. The panel also set an Adequate Intake of water for men and women of 3.7 L and 2.7 L respectively which they estimate would meet the needs of most healthy adults. The IOM report highlighted that fluid needs would be individualized to account for activity level, environmental temperature, physical fitness, body size, and health conditions.
If you’re looking at your own intake and thinking you are not likely meeting this don’t panic yet. The AI for water is coming from all sources in the diet, not just plain water consumption. This means that food sources contribute and population data suggests that Americans typically meet 20% of this daily fluid needs from foods. Non- water beverages count too, yes, even coffee! Coffee often comes into question due to the diuretic effect of caffeine however in the IOM report they concluded that for individuals with habitual intakes of significant caffeine, the caffeinated beverages appeared to contribute to total water intake similar to non-caffeinated beverages. That’s good news for us coffee drinkers and one more reason to continue eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Fluid content of common foods:
|Food ||Percent Water|
For the majority of healthy adults drinking when you are thirsty will likely ensure you are meeting your daily hydration needs, but remember to be mindful of increasing you intake when outputs might be greater, for example, warmer temperatures and increased physical activity. And pay attention to some of the common signs of dehydration including:
- dark colored urine
- dry mouth
- a headache
It’s August and here in the Northeast we have been enduring a stretch of hot and humid weather. While part of me is embracing the warm summer nights, I will admit there is also a part that struggles to think about turning on the oven or stove to make dinner and risk making the kitchen even a degree hotter. On nights like these this White Bean and Tuna Salad makes a great no-cook meal. The beans and tuna provide a great source of protein and the tomatoes could not be better this time of year!
I’m taking the leap! In June of 2018, I submitted my letter of resignation to my traditional hospital-based job and took my first steps into entrepreneurship with Hailey Crean Nutrition, LLC. While my heart still beats a little faster (even now) thinking about it, I couldn’t feel more confident about the decision and I believe this confidence is rooted in the reason why I decided to make this move.
I have spent the past ten years working as a Registered Dietitian, and during this time have had the opportunity to work with thousands of patients spanning the spectrum of health conditions, readiness to change and barriers to change. This experience has been invaluable to me – both in understanding the realness of the barriers that exist and in evaluating the way I, as a healthcare provider, contribute to these barriers.
What I see clearly is that we can do this better. It’s no secret that lifestyle change is hard; it’s hard to make the changes, to begin with, and often even harder to sustain over the long term. The research shows more frequent follow up is key for success however in a culture of packed schedules time is limited.
My mission in creating Hailey Crean Nutrition, LLC is to provide evidenced-based nutrition support and education brought to clients directly with the convenience of telenutrition. I aim to cut out the noise of confusing and misleading nutrition information by providing clients with a resource they can trust and ongoing support for lasting lifestyle changes.
At the core of my nutrition philosophy I believe:
- All foods fit! Foods are not good or bad but we should look for a balance.
- There is no one size fits all solution, I focus on an individualized approach.
- What we eat matters. Eat well. Feel well.