What is the MIND Diet?
The MIND (or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet combines the nutritional eating habits of the popular Mediterranean Diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
It was developed by researchers to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, by affecting the biological mechanisms, including oxidative stress and inflammation, that underline Alzheimer’s.
MIND (acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a collaboration between researchers at Rush University, Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the National Institute on Aging, with the support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
But what exactly should I eat if I choose to follow this plan?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of Top Ten foods in MIND Diet.
According to a recent article in Explica.co, The best Olive Oil such as Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil (which has a high concentration of anti-oxidants known as Polyphenols) is number 3 on the list of 8 foods to eat on the MIND diet.
Also making the list are:
- Leafy vegetables
- Nuts (including Walnuts)
- Whole Grains
- Fatty Fish
- Beans & Lentils
When following the MIND diet, you are advised to limit red meat, candy, cheese, butter, margarine and fast and fried foods.
Early studies show that adherence to the principles of the MIND Diet lowers risk of Alzheimer’s by 53% in those who follow it closely and by 35% in those who follow more loosely. According to Webmd.com the recommendation was originally intended for healthy older adults, but in 2018 it was expanded to also apply to octogenarians who have had a stroke.
But Extra Virgin olive oil could also provide greater benefits for your mental health when compared to coconut or avocado oil, as per new research published in the journal Aging Cell. New research has found that making Extra Virgin olive oil one of your diet’s staples could help keep your memory skills intact as you age and may also greatly reduce your risk of dementia in later years. The research, which was published after conducting various tests on mice, suggests that the purest forms of olive oil can help break down the build-up of an abnormal protein in the brain. While the scientific community has failed to discover a singular cause of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, many experts regard the elevated presence of tau (a kind of protein) in the brain as a main marker for the disease, as they can interrupt important communication functions. The newly published research found that diets high in Extra Virgin olive oil can effectively decrease the build-up of tau and possibly slow or stop advancing neurodegenerative diseases.
Scientific Links between Extra Virgin Olive Oil and significant reduction in Alzheimer’s
A study by researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) in Philadelphia, reported that extra virgin olive oil, which is the most common component in the Mediterranean Diet, boosts cognitive performance and could aid in preventing Alzheimer’s.
The study involved mice models that have the three components present in Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment, amyloid plaque build-up and neurofibrillary tangles.
Amyloid plaques are the result of the excess production and build-up of beta-amyloid, a fragment of the protein called “amyloid precursor protein.” In Alzheimer’s disease, these plaques build up in the spaces between neurons and cause loss of memory.
Neurofibrillary tangles are the result of twisted strands of a protein called tau. In a healthy brain, tau helps with the transportation of nutrients and other molecules that the brain cells need. In Alzheimer’s disease, this protein gets tangled up inside the brain cells, which happen to be dying because essential nutrients no longer reach them.
Alzheimer’s characteristics begin to develop in a rodents quite early on, so in this experiment, the oil was added to the diet when the mice were 6 months old, before any symptoms could have appeared.
The mice were separated into two groups. The first were fed a regular diet including extra virgin olive oil while the second group has no extra virgin olive oil added to their diet. The researchers evaluated the mice’s cognitive abilities by administering tests for their spatial memory, working memory, and learning skills.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Preserves Brain Cell Health
In terms of general appearance, no differences were noted between the two animal groups.
But, when the mice were 9 months and 12 months old, the mice that had been fed the extra-virgin olive oil diet performed much better in the cognitive tests.
Lead investigator Dr. Dominica Praticò and his team also analyzed the brain tissue of these mice, and the studies revealed striking differences between the appearance and functioning of the nerve cells.
Firstly, the integrity of the synapses – which are the parts of the brain cell that facilitate communication among neurons – was preserved much better in the olive oil group. Secondly, the brain tissue in the mice fed olive oil revealed a “dramatic increase” in the autophagy activation of the nerve cells. Autophagy is a process that sees nerve cells disintegrate and eliminate the toxic debris that tends to accumulate between the cells. In this experiment, the increase in autophagy led to a decrease in the amyloid plaques and tau.
Dr. Praticò says, “This is an exciting finding for us. Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory, and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”