5 Ways the MIND Diet Can Benefit Aging Adults

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

For seniors who want to maintain cognitive health as they age, it’s important to adopt a brain-healthy regimen. This regimen should include mental workouts, physical workouts, and a well-rounded diet. The MIND diet is one of the most popular options, as it’s filled with vitamins and nutrients that keep the mind sharp. Here are five great reasons to follow the MIND diet in the golden years.

1. Reduce Dementia Risk

The MIND diet, which was first introduced in 2015, was specifically engineered to lower dementia risk. It combines elements of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to target the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s. Because certain types of dementia are linked to poor cardiovascular health and inflammation, the diet works to lower blood pressure, sodium intake, and cholesterol. It’s also filled with brain-healthy phytonutrients, which can ward off neural toxins that cause cognitive decline. 

A professional caregiver with training in nutrition can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement as your loved one adopts new healthy habits, including eating more nutritious foods. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust Rhode Island elderly home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

2. Follow a Simple Dietary Plan

The MIND diet consists of ten foods to eat and five foods to avoid. The recommended foods are, for the most part, readily available, affordable, and easy to cook with. When switching to the MIND diet, seniors and their caregivers may only need to make minor modifications to the current dietary plan. The recommended foods include vegetables, berries, leafy greens, beans, nuts, whole grains, wine, poultry, fish, and olive oil. The foods to avoid are pastries/sweets, butter/margarine, red meat, cheeses, and fried food. When a diet is too complicated, it’s less likely to become habitual. The relative simplicity of the MIND diet makes it practical for many seniors.

3. Lower Stress

Research suggests elevated stress levels can increase the risk of dementia, and the foods recommended by the MIND diet may have a calming effect on the brain. Nuts, fish, and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables promote the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that decreases anxiety levels. By reducing stress levels, the MIND diet creates a healthier cognitive environment that may be better prepared to fight off harmful toxins. 

Stress is a big risk factor for caregivers, too, and part of a healthy lifestyle for family caregivers involves self-care and making time to attend to their own wellbeing. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Rhode Island, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Because dementia is closely connected to heart health, it’s important for seniors to maintain a healthy weight. If they become overweight, they’re more likely to develop diabetes, lose muscle/bone mass, and experience cardiac events. The MIND diet, which is full of nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, helps seniors stay in a healthy weight range and prevent cardiovascular complications. It also boosts energy levels, which helps seniors maintain active lifestyles.

5. Boost Brain Health

While the MIND diet impacts physiological systems (such as the cardiovascular system) that contribute to dementia, it also benefits the area most impacted by dementia: the brain. The antioxidants and fatty acids found in the recommended foods have potent neuroprotective properties. They can neutralize the free radicals that damage brain cells, prevent the neural inflammation that increases dementia risk, and minimize oxidative stress, protecting the brain from the cognitive stressors that can lead to dementia.

A professional caregiver can provide additional support for your loved one’s efforts to adopt healthier dietary habits. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior care. Rhode Island families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. To learn about our high-quality in-home care services, give us a call at (401) 284-0979 today.