The MIND diet is nutrition's best-kept anti-ageing secret

The MIND diet, a combo of the Mediterranean and DASH diet, can turn your brain's clock back and protect against disease

Mediterranean diet
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Anti-ageing isn't just about buying the right wrinkle creams or stretching to ensure your muscles don't stiffen and shorten as you age. It's also about what you eat, with your diet not only protecting your heart from health problems and avoiding weight gain, but also protecting your brain from degenerative diseases.

As well as trying the best vitamins for women over 50 and the best fish oil supplements to keep your joints healthy, one study has found adjusting your diet could be the best way to protect yourself as you age. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center have found the MIND diet, a combination of two well-known healthy diet philosophies, could be hugely influential to protecting your brain as you age.

The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet, a food philosophy in which you follow a diet heavy on fish, olives, nuts, vegetables and whole grains, and the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet consists of foods that are rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium, calcium and magnesium, and low on sodium and saturated fats.

The combination of these two diets is known as the MIND diet, and it's a banger. Followers must eat three servings of whole grains, one green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day. Nuts and water for snacks, beans or pulses must be eaten every other day, poultry and berries twice a week and fish at least once each week.

Vitamin D foods: salmon and brown rice

(Image credit: Unsplash / Travis Yewell)

The Rush University scientists studies the diet's effects on 569 participants, who were asked to complete annual evaluations and cognitive tests. The research found  a higher MIND diet score "was associated with better memory and thinking skills independently of Alzheimer's disease pathology and other common age-related brain pathologies."

According to the tests, the diet appears to have a protective capacity and may contribute to cognitive resilience in the elderly.

Gut health is absolutely key to brain health in more ways than one. A healthy gut influences  Researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine investigated whether anxiety symptoms improved by altering our diets, finding that drinking more water and eating more fibrous fruit and vegetables were more effective than probiotics when it comes to developing a healthy gut and reducing symptoms of anxiety.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.