Mark Neese Healthy Aging Series S10 E7

Your Brain on the MIND Diet | Healthy Aging Series: S10 E7

This is Your Brain on The MIND Diet

If you think you’ve got it bad, try being your pet!

I’m sitting in our sunroom on this beautiful May morning. Hansel, our male kitty, has joined me. He loves the sunroom light in the mornings. I can hear him purring from across the room. He follows the sun throughout the day in our house. First is the sunroom where the sun is coming up in the morning. Then our bedroom facing the south and finally he spreads out on the floor on a rug in our dining room, which faces the west. He’s sleeping now. Content. Happy. Handsome. 

Also, he’s very predictable because, the moment I get up and head anywhere close to the laundry room, he’s up and follows me with the hopes of getting fed. I mostly ignore him, but the fact that he is two- or 3-pounds overweight means that I am a sucker for his ploy. He has the sweetest little meow. And I love those nose kisses. So, I give in and give him a little snack. He has a special diet cat food, the $120 bag kind of diet. We mostly control what he eats, mostly.

I read somewhere that Oprah has a trainer that controls what she eats. Tom Brady, too.

I wonder what it would be like to have someone, besides me, deciding what, how much, and when I eat. It might last a month or two, and then I say, “F*@k it! I’m sick of this!” They call this pattern of eating a “yo-yo diet.” On again, off again. Lose weight. Put it back on again. Repeat. But I’m not completely convinced it’s all that bad because it sounds a lot like the feast and famine cycles that our ancestors experienced.

Why is it so difficult to manage our weight?

The reason most of us have a difficult time eating right, which means eating the right amount and the right kind of food is because:

First, easy access to food. Food is everywhere. Grocery stores are always within driving distance. I grew up 15 miles from the X-market. We always had food in our cabinets! Convenience stores. Dollar General Stores. Fast Food stores. Restaurants. Casual and fine dining restaurants. Movie theaters. Donut Shops. I could go and on. Food is everywhere. OK I get it, there are countries and inner-city families that have limited access to grocery stores. We need to work on that!!

Second, processed food is engineered to taste good. I love the taste of fast food. Salt. Fat. Sugar. I question peoples honesty when they tell me, they don’t like sweets. Scientist, who know what humans want and need have spent years designing food that we will love and we will gorge on. I remember working at a place called “Blue Ribbon Food Service” in Portland, Oregon, while I went to college. They would add soy protein to the hamburger until  a few people complained that it wasn’t 100% beef. They removed the soy and people quit buying the frozen patties because it didn’t taste the same, and so, you guessed it, they added back the soy protein.

There is an abundance of food, and it tastes great, that’s our dilemma. 

I’ve been writing about the aging brain, and more specifically, how to take care of your brain. I’ve suggested that the MIND diet was a way of eating that provided a protective factor against cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. And since you’re not likely to be able to afford a personal trainer that will follow you around like Oprah and Tom Brady, rationing your food, and since you’re not likely enough to be my sweet kitty Hansel, you need a simple approach to eating that protects your brain. If you have time to read a book, read this: The MIND Diet: A Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function, and Helping Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia. If you don’t have time to read the book, here is a simple chart for what you need to eat and not eat in the mind diet.Your brain on the MIND diet Healthy Aging Series S10 E7Question About the Mind Diet

What are whole grains? Geez. Rice, wheat, barley, buckwheat, Bolger, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, blah blah blah.
Amazon has every one of these. Directions are on the package. Millet is my favorite. We do not eat enough whole grains!

What about vegetables? What should I be eating?
Spend lots of time in the produce department at the grocery store. Eat lots of leafy-green stuff. Your plate should have lots of colors on it when you eat! Potatoes? Yes! 

What about fruit? Try to have some kind of fruit on your plate every meal. Have a bowl of blueberries, or raspberries, or blackberries, or melons, or strawberries in the fridge, and graze on them throughout the day.

What about beans and legumes?
Your microbiome will thank you! Legumes are good for you. They are pre-biotics and feed the probiotics that you’re taking (hopefully you’re taking probiotics) . You can buy uncooked beans and let them simmer on your stove for couple hours, or you can buy beans in the can. I prefer beans in the can because they’re easy to open up and just eat. They’re good for you. We’re talking about great northern beans, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and lima beans.

What should I be eating? Eat lots of nuts. Eat chicken, fish, and lean beef. Eat lots of berries! We need fruit and vegetables. Fill up with fruits and vegetables! Your brain will thank you when you’re 80.

The MIND diet is so simple. As Michael stated: Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much. I recently read an article in the New York Times, I know, :-) “The link between highly processed Food and Brain Health.” 

Conclusion: A high percentage of daily energy consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with cognitive decline among adults of an ethnically diverse sample.

Take away: Eat real food. 

Now, the hard part what not to eat:

First minimize sweets. Notice I didn’t say no sweets. It’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate sweets.

Second, avoid processed foods. Boo!!! I’m talking about snack food!

Third, limit alcohol. No biggie, I simply quit drinking alcohol altogether.

Fourth, I like red meat, but limit it to 2 to 3 times weekly.
And then there is portion control, I think half portions.

That’s it! Simple, and of course,  do I need to say “Stay away from fast food?”

The MIND diet is doable! You don’t need a personal trainer. You don’t need a pet guardian. Eat all the fruits and vegetables you want. Eat more beans, fish, and berries. Eat less sugar, or no “added sugar.”

After reading all this information about the MIND Diet, I evaluated my own diet and think I am 80% there. I don’t eat a lot of legumes, but I have tried to add fruit and vegetables to my diet. So over the next 3 to 6 months, I’m going to be adding more legumes and making sure  I’m getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in my daily intake.

Pick up a book on the Mediterranean diet, which is in essence The MIND Diet, and start taking care of your brain and your body!