Why I Follow the MIND Diet
As a Christian, I believe that God created the human body and that He also created the foods we need for our bodies to function in an optimal manner. When man, in his limited wisdom, tries to improve upon God’s creation by creating harmful chemical ingredients, pesticides, and herbicides, or genetically manipulating plants, animals, and even people, it cannot turn out well. There are so many interconnected parts that we have yet to discover. When we change one thing, it affects everything else in ways we could not have imagined. The staggering number of people in America with metabolic disorders, auto-immune disorders, and brain degeneration has prompted me to research whether anything can be done to improve our outlook and keep us healthy. If I have learned anything, it is that we need to focus on products and foods with natural ingredients – that is, ingredients in the form which God made them. Man-made chemical and genetically modified preservatives and additives in food, cleaning supplies, and health and beauty products are getting inside our bodies and wreaking havoc. As far as I’m concerned, if God didn’t make it for our use, it’s probably not good for us.
So, when I look for foods to eat and a diet to follow, I want to be sure that I’m including only those foods which are naturally occurring the way God made them. I want also to look at what science says about the nutrition and micronutrients that I need to make my body function well and keep me healthy for the long haul. When I came across the MIND Diet a couple of years ago it checked all the boxes for me. The acronym in the title of the diet stands for Mediterranean – DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and the developers claim that following it will improve brain health and slow or prevent dementia. It also improves blood pressure and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris from Rush University Medical Center after a team of researchers studied the effects of certain foods known to either improve or damage brain function in elderly people. The first study took place for a five-year period, and further studies have been done and are ongoing through the Rush Memory and Aging Project. The diet and the research surrounding it were published in 2015 and two very good overviews of the research can be found here: Nutrition and Dementia: The MIND Trial by Dr. Martha Clare Morris - YouTube and Dr. Martha Clare Morris - Clinical Trials of Dietary Interventions - YouTube
One reason I like this way of eating so much is because it focuses on real foods in the form that God made them. They are all very tasty and readily available foods, as well. There are ten foods to try to eat each week and five food to avoid. The diet is not a weight loss plan, but many people experience some weight loss as a result of eating healthier. Here are the recommendations:
10 Foods to Eat Each Week
Green Leafy Vegetables: Six or more servings per week
All Other Vegetables: At least one or two servings per day along with the green leafy vegetables. Focus on non-starchy vegetables when possible.
Berries: At least twice a week. The darker berries seem to have a more beneficial effect.
Nuts: Five servings a week of a variety of nuts and seeds
Olive Oil: Use olive oil as your main oil in dressings and in cooking on low heat
Whole Grains: Eat three servings a day of different kinds of whole grains. There are some whole grains that are gluten free if you have a sensitivity.
Fish: Eat fish at least once a week. Focus on fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout for their high omega-3 content.
Beans: Eat beans four times a week.
Poultry: Eat poultry twice a week – not fried.
Red Wine: Drink one glass a day. Many studies have linked only one glass and no more to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
5 Foods to Avoid
Butter and Margarine: When eating butter, limit it to a tablespoon a day and use grass fed organic butter.
Cheese: Only eat cheese once a week. Try not to eat highly processed types.
Red Meat: Only eat three servings per week. Many studies show, however, that wild or grass-fed sources of red
meat which are high in omega-3 fatty acids are not damaging to your body like factory raised red meat.
Fried Food: Limit to less that once a week. The MIND Diet highly discourages eating any fried foods.
Pastries and Sweets: This includes all processed foods as well. The MIND Diet recommends less than four times a week, but I don’t eat processed sugar at all because of the research linking it to degenerative brain diseases as well as diabetes and cancer. These foods usually contain high fructose corn syrup, which is linked to problems with blood sugar metabolism, and trans fats which damage blood vessels.
If you can’t eat the full recommended amounts of each of the 10 foods, the research says that you can still benefit from partially following the guidelines. Even the participants who only moderately followed the diet showed improvement in cognitive ability. The people who followed the diet closely in the study had a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those who followed the diet moderately had a 35% lower risk of developing the disease.
At present, the research is mainly observational, meaning that the affects of the food on seniors and Alzheimer’s patients were observed but the causes and effects are not fully known. Much more research into nutrition is needed in order to understand how the body uses foods to maintain optimal health. It is enough for me until then to believe that God knew what He was doing when He created food for us. If we stick to His plan for eating real food, it makes sense that we will experience better consequences.
We have an obligation to take care of our bodies so that we can be more effective servants of God for as long as possible. If avoiding junk food and eating the healthy and tasty food that God created for us will help my mind to stay sharp, then it’s a no-brainer – pardon the pun! I hope you will look at the research behind eating healthy and join me in taking care of your body, as well. After all, our bodies belong to God and are the Temple of His Holy Spirit who lives within us. We should do all we can to keep ourselves healthy. Following the MIND Diet is one of the ways I try to honor God with my body. I encourage you to check into it as well if you’re looking for an all-around healthy diet to improve your brain function and longevity.