The MIND Diet and the Ketoflex Nutrition Plan for Brain Healthby Brooklin White MS, RDN, LDNNutrition
Centenarian populations found in the coastal areas of Costa Rica, Greece, Italy, Japan and California are considered longevity hotspots largely due to their healthy eating patterns. They eat mostly plants and fish while limiting their consumption of meat, sweets and overall calories. The low prevalence of chronic diseases in these communities such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease has helped researchers consider the connection between plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean diet, and delayed aging (1). Additional epidemiological and cross-sectional data have supported this hypothesis (2-3).
The MIND diet was developed after recognizing that a higher level of adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets were associated with consistently higher levels of cognitive function in elderly men and women (4). MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and, as the name implies, is a combination of the Mediterranean and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating patterns. The MIND diet is more specific than the Mediterranean and DASH eating patterns however, as it focuses on daily and weekly recommendations for specific foods and food groups (5). The MIND diet stresses the importance of colorful plant-based foods as these foods have been shown to be beneficial for neuroprotection and dementia prevention (6). This research has shown that eating certain foods, such as those found in the MIND diet, slows brain aging by 7.5 years, which ultimately lessens the chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease (6).
The MIND diet was created to include ten foods/food groups to focus on and five foods/food groups to limit. The categories are as follows:
MIND Diet foods to focus on
Berries: Any type of berry (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry etc) although blueberries are the highest recommended
- 2 or more servings per WEEK
Green leafy vegetables: Kale, spinach, collard greens, arugula etc.
- 1 or more servings per DAY
All other vegetables: Broccoli, squash, garlic, red pepper, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, celery etc.
- 1 or more servings per DAY
Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pistachios etc.
- 5 or more servings per WEEK
Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, etc.
- 4 or more servings per WEEK
Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil, ideally in a dark bottle and sourced locally and has a crush date AND expiration date on the bottle
- Use as main cooking or dressing oil
Whole grains: 100% whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley etc.
- 3 or more servings per DAY
Fish: Focus on fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines.
- 1 or more servings per WEEK
Poultry: Organic and grass-fed
- 2 or more serving per WEEK
- 1 serving per DAY
MIND Diet foods to limit or avoid
Red meat: Steaks, ground-beef, hamburgers, bacon, ham etc.
- 3 servings or less per weeek
- Less than 1 tablespoon per day
Cheese: Limit all types of cheese but especially those that have been highly processed such as American cheese and Velveeta cheese
- 1 serving or less per week
Fried Foods: Fries, chicken, donuts, eggrolls etc.
- Less than once per week
Sweets: Anything with added sugars: cake, cookies, ice cream, cereal, yogurt, fruit juice etc. (Added sugars include honey, maple syrup, agave, cane syrup, brown rice syrup etc.)
- Less than 4 servings per week
A recent study showed that greater adherence to the MIND diet was independently associated with better cognitive function and lower risk of cognitive impairment in older adults (7). Studies like these further support the hypothesis that nutrition modification can support cognitive health as we age. Any shift from the typical western diet (high animal meat, saturated fat, refined grain and added sugar consumption) to a plant-focused diet such as the MIND, Mediterranean or DASH eating patterns, will always show metabolic benefits to the individuals and populations who are adopting them. However, for individuals who have the ApoE4 genetic variant and are thus susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease, or for those who are already battling the disease, a more specific diet is often required. Although the MIND diet is a remarkable first step for adopting a new eating pattern, it is not specialized enough for those needing to shift the projection of disease.
The Ketoflex Nutrition Plan
The Ketoflex Nutrition Plan of the Bredesen Protocol includes the foods that have proven to be the most beneficial for cognition. It is specified to help prevent or reverse Alzheimer's Disease and is individualized based on genetic differences. The Ketoflex Nutrition Plan differs from the MIND diet by including the following components:
- Higher quantities plant-based foods, specifically non-starchy vegetables
- Limited intake of animal meat (meat is treated as a condiment rather than a main course)
- Greater focus on plant based fats with the goal of achieving a state of metabolic flexibility through mild ketosis
- Avoiding gluten and dairy products
- Incorporation of probiotic foods to support health of the gut microbiome
- Elimination of refined carbohydrates, packaged processed foods, and sweets
- Utilization of intermittent fasting for at least 12 hours overnight, including fasting for 3 hours before bedtime (8)
The Bredesen Protocol is effective because it is highly personalized. Working with a registered dietitian nutritionist who is trained in functional medicine and the Bredesen Protocol will help you address the underlying etiologies of your cognitive concerns. Although the MIND diet is a fantastic shift from the typical western diet, a personalized eating pattern focused on the Ketoflex principles has the potential to enhance cognition and promote healthspan and longevity. If you have questions regarding how to incorporate the Ketoflex diet into your lifestyle, contact us today.
- Le Couteur, D. G., Solon-Biet, S., Wahl, D., Cogger, V. C., Willcox, B. J., Willcox, D. C., Raubenheimer, D., & Simpson, S. J. (2016). New Horizons: Dietary protein, ageing and the Okinawan ratio.Age and Ageing,45(4), 443–447.https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afw069
- Scarmeas, N., Stern, Y., Tang, M.-X., Mayeux, R., & Luchsinger, J. A. (2006). Mediterranean Diet and Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.Annals of Neurology,59(6), 912–921.https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.20854
- Tangney CC, Li H, Wang Y, et al. Relation of DASH- and Mediterranean-like dietary patterns to cognitive decline in older persons.Neurology. 2014;83(16):1410-1416. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000884
- Wengreen, H., Munger, R. G., Cutler, A., Quach, A., Bowles, A., Corcoran, C., Tschanz, J. T., Norton, M. C., & Welsh-Bohmer, K. A. (2013). Prospective study of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension– and Mediterranean-style dietary patterns and age-related cognitive change: The Cache County Study on Memory, Health and Aging.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,98(5), 1263–1271.https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.051276
- The MIND diet. (2019). eatrightPRO - Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.https://www.eatrightpro.org/news-center/nutrition-trends/health-promotion/the-mind-diet
- Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., Sacks, F. M., Bennett, D. A., & Aggarwal, N. T. (2015). MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.Alzheimer’s & Dementia : The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association,11(9), 1007–1014.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009
- McEvoy, C. T., Guyer, H., Langa, K. M., & Yaffe, K. (2017). Neuroprotective Diets Are Associated with Better Cognitive Function: The Health and Retirement Study.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,65(8), 1857–1862.https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14922
- Bredesen, D. (2017).The end of Alzheimer's: The first program to prevent and reverse cognitive decline. Penguin.