MIND diet linked with slower aging, reduced dementia risk

March 17, 2024 in Brain Health, Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

MIND diet linked with slower aging, reduced dementia risk

According to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The Robert Butler Columbia Aging Center, a healthier diet is associated with a reduced dementia risk and slower pace of aging. The findings show that the diet-dementia link was at least partially facilitated by multi-system processes of aging.

While past research has found that people who followed a healthy diet experienced a slowdown in the processes of biological aging and were less likely to develop dementia, until now the biological mechanism of this protection was not well understood.

Much research on nutrition and dementia has focused on the way specific nutrients affect the brain.  For this study, the researchers tested the hypothesis that healthy diet protects against dementia by slowing down the body’s overall pace of biological aging.

Related: MIND diet tied to fewer Azheimer's plaques

About the study

The researchers used data from the second generation of the Framingham Heart Study, the Offspring Cohort. Originating in 1971, participants in the latter study were 60 years of age or older, were free of dementia, and also had available dietary, epigenetic, and follow-up data.

The Offspring Cohort were followed-up at nine examinations, approximately every 4 to 7 years. At each follow-up visit, data collection included a physical examination, lifestyle-related questionnaires, blood sampling, and, starting in 1991, neurocognitive testing. 

Of 1,644 participants included in the analyses, 140 of the participants developed dementia. To measure the pace of aging, the researchers used an epigenetic clock called DunedinPACE developed by scientists at Duke University and the University of Otago. The clock measures how fast a person’s body is deteriorating as they grow older, “like a speedometer for the biological processes of aging”, explained one of the scientists. 

The research determined that higher adherence to the Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet (MIND) slowed the pace of aging as measured by DunedinPACE and reduced risks for dementia and mortality.

Furthermore, slower DunedinPACE accounted for 27% of the diet-dementia association and 57% of the diet-mortality association.

The findings suggest that slower pace of aging mediates part of the relationship of healthy diet with reduced dementia risk. However, the researchers noted that a portion of the diet-dementia association was unexplained and that continued investigation of brain-specific mechanisms in well-designed studies is needed.

Source: Annals of Neurology, February 26, 2024.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.