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The MIND Diet Beyond Food: Three Non-Food Changes You Can Make Today

MAC Nutrition Team - Thursday, May 17, 2018


The MIND Diet Beyond Food: Three Non-Food Changes You Can Make Today

Rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia are on the rise, and many people want to know how they can prevent cognitive decline. One dietary pattern, the MIND diet, a Mediterranean-style diet, has been shown in large-scale epidemiological research to be correlated with better brain health and lower rates of cognitive decline, leading experts to believe that this diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, and low in red meat and added sugar, helps to keep the mind healthy. But, what about the components of the Mediterranean diet that go beyond food? Are they helpful as well? Research suggests that the answer is yes.

These non-food aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle that appear to be at least somewhat connected to the beneficial aspects of the Mediterranean diet include how food is eaten, and in what context. In cultures with the longest lifespans and the lowest rates of chronic disease, including cognitive decline, meals are thoroughly enjoyed, not rushed, and eaten with friends and family. This sense of an abundance of time, and this connection to loved ones and community, may help people make healthier food choices and keep the mind engaged.

So, how can you apply this Mediterranean eating style to your life? Here are three ways:

  1. Whenever possible, enjoy meals with others. If you live alone, try setting up a meal club with friends or neighbors, or go to a local community center for meals. If you live with family, have designated time for meals together. Put all phones and computers away and turn off the television to truly enjoy meal time together. Enjoy lunch with your coworkers if your job allows.
  2. During meals, take your time, making sure to eat slowly, put your fork down between bites, and take deep breaths to calm the body. Chew food thoroughly before swallowing. Savor each bite, making note of the flavors, textures, and aromas of the food.
  3. Eat near a window or outside. Research supports the important role of exposure to daylight in happiness and productivity. Getting outside throughout your day will also encourage more physical activity, which is also correlated with lower rates of chronic disease.
Implementing these non-food changes to how you eat each day could benefit your brain health going forward. As always, for specific dietary advice, speak with our registered dietitians!


This month's blog contribution comes from Louisa Paine, Registered Dietitian at The Mount Auburn Club.

Contact the MAC Nutrition team today.

The information presented here is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or health condition. As always, please speak with your registered dietitian regarding any dietary modifications or nutrition-related questions.