MIND Diet Associated with Slower Aging and Reduced Dementia Risk, New Study Finds

by Ella

A recent study conducted by researchers at Columbia University in New York suggests that adopting a healthy diet could potentially slow the aging process, particularly in the brain, thus reducing the risk of dementia.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, proposes that adhering to the right diet might effectively decelerate the rate of brain aging, ultimately lowering the risk of developing dementia.


To gauge the effects of dietary habits on aging, researchers utilized the DunedinPACE clock, a tool developed partly by the study’s senior author, Dr. Daniel Belsky, PhD. This clock is one of several epigenetic measures employed by scientists to monitor a person’s biological aging process, evaluating various key indicators within the body.


Examining data from 1,644 participants without dementia from the Framingham Offspring Cohort study, researchers assessed each individual’s long-term adherence to the MIND diet. The participants, aged 60 or above, had an average age of 69.6 years, with 54% being female.


Over a period of 14 years, 140 participants developed dementia, and 471 passed away. Results revealed that individuals who closely followed the MIND diet exhibited a slower DunedinPACE clock rating, correlating with a reduced risk of dementia or mortality.


Further analysis demonstrated that a slower DunedinPACE clock was associated with 27% of the link between diet and dementia risk, and 57% of the association between diet and mortality.

Dr. Menka Gupta, MBBS, a certified functional medicine practitioner at Nutra Nourish, who was not involved in the study, described the DunedinPACE clock as “a DNA methylation biomarker of the pace of aging,” emphasizing its ability to estimate biological aging over time effectively.

Dr. Belsky explained that the DunedinPACE clock was developed by examining changes in 19 indicators of the integrity of various bodily systems, such as cardiovascular, hepatic, renal, and immune systems. He likened the clock to a speedometer for the aging process, summarizing the overall rate of change across these systems.

However, Belsky cautioned that clocks such as DunedinPACE cannot solve the fundamental mystery of aging, and further research is needed to understand its origins and mechanisms.

Regarding the MIND diet’s role in brain health, Dr. Aline Thomas, PhD, the study’s first author, explained that the diet was formulated in 2015 with the specific aim of reducing dementia risk. Collaborating with another study author, Dr. Yian Gu, MD, MS, PhD, Thomas highlighted the emphasis of the MIND diet on neuroprotective foods such as fish, green leafy vegetables, berries, and nuts, while minimizing intake of red meat, butter, and sweets.

Moreover, the study found an association between the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Guideline Adherence Index, indicating that a generally healthy and balanced diet may also contribute to a slower pace of aging.

In conclusion, the MIND diet appears to offer various nutrients beneficial for brain health, potentially reducing inflammation, supporting metabolic health, and safeguarding against cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is important to consider dietary habits as part of a comprehensive approach to preventing cognitive decline, rather than relying solely on dietary interventions.



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