BY ILENE RAYMOND RUSH
PROTECTING BRAIN health as you age
may be as simple as lifting your fork, says
Martha Clare Morris, the creator of the
MIND Diet and author of Diet for the
MIND (Little, Brown and Company,
December 2017; not available at Costco).
MIND stands for Mediterranean
Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,
and it is a hybrid of the popular Mediter-
ranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to
Stop Hypertension) diets. Those diets
specifically target prevention of cardio-
vascular disease, diabetes and hyperten-
sion. But Morris, professor and director
of the MIND Center for Brain Health at
Rush University in Chicago, wanted to
“tailor a diet to nutrients in foods that have
been related to better brain health related
Brain-healthy foods in the diet include
leafy greens and vegetables, whole grains,
vegetable oils, berries, nuts, seafood, poul-
try, and beans and other legumes.
According to Morris, the plan targets
nutrients that have been scientifically
shown to improve brain health and/or
boost cardiovascular health, since a
healthy heart is often key to a healthy
brain. The diet also claims to reduce
inflammation and oxidative stress, which
may trigger and speed up the development
of Alzheimer’s disease.
Morris based the diet on her 2015
study that tracked the eating patterns of
923 seniors. The longer participants fol-
lowed the MIND diet, the less risk they
appeared to have of developing Alzheimer’s
disease. Results showed that the diet low-
ered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35 percent
for those who made modest dietary
changes and up to 53 percent for those who
adhered to the diet rigorously.
“The majority of foods in the MIND
diet are plant-based foods that give us vita-
mins, minerals, brain-healthy omega-3s,
antioxidants and phytonutrients,” says
Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at the
Cleveland Clinic and a Costco member.
“The more you consume these foods, the
more health benefits they have, especially
when compared with animal foods that are
associated with risk factors like inflamma-
tion and high blood cholesterol levels,
which research shows have a negative
effect on brain health.”
“What we know is that certain foods
are beneficial, whether you’re talking about
the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the
MIND diet or the Nordic diet,” says Heather
Snyder, the senior director of medical and
scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s
Association. “It’s really the idea that eating
things that are low in saturated fat and
high in antioxidants are going to be the
most beneficial. The MIND diet does that
and is a balanced diet that includes all nec-
“Eating a nutritious diet, staying phys-
ically active, keeping our brains active and
staying socially active are all important,”
she adds. “Putting all that together is going
to be the most beneficial of all.”
While none of the researchers found
any risks in switching to the MIND diet,
Snyder suggests that “any time you are
making a drastic change to your diet or
physical activity, you should talk to your
health care provider.” C
Ilene Raymond Rush writes regularly about
health and science issues.
MIND your health
AN ANEURYSM is a bulge in a weakened
artery wall, and most commonly occurs
in the abdomen and the brain. Aneurysm
is called a “silent killer” because often
there are no symptoms until it ruptures.
That results in internal bleeding or possibly a stroke, and could prove fatal.
Treatment varies depending on the
location, size and condition of the aneurysm, and ranges from simple monitoring
to surgical repair in more severe cases.
Common risk factors
• High blood pressure.
• Gender: Women have an increased
risk of a brain aneurysm, and men of
an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
• Age: Higher risk for those over 40
of a brain aneurysm, and for those 60
and older of an abdominal aneurysm.
The aorta, the main artery in the body,
runs from the heart into the abdomen,
where it branches into smaller arteries.
About 15,000 people die each year in the
U.S. from aortic aneurysms. About 75
percent of aortic aneurysms occur in
the abdomen and 25 percent in the thorax (chest). This is the third-leading
cause of sudden death in men over 60.
Aneurysms that affect arteries supplying blood to the brain are called
cerebral or intracranial aneurysms.
Stroke can be caused by a ruptured
brain aneurysm. About one in 50 people in the U.S. have an unruptured brain
aneurysm, according to the Brain
Aneurysm Foundation. Each year
nearly 30,000 people experience a
brain aneurysm rupture: 40 percent of
those are fatal, and about 66 percent
of survivors suffer from a permanent
An aneurysm can occur in any
peripheral artery. Frequent peripheral
aneurysms occur in the popliteal artery
behind the knee, the splenic artery
near the spleen and the mesenteric
artery near the intestines.
Search these websites for more
information about aneurysms:
• National Stroke Association,
• Brain Aneurysm Foundation,
FOR YOUR HEALTH