Kensington Senior Living hosted an educational event on brain health and nutrition titled “The MIND Diet: Nourish Your Brain with Chef Annie Fenn, MD.”
Dr. Annie Fenn is the groundbreaking author and physician behind Brain Health Kitchen, an online cooking school focused on brain health and preventing cognitive declines such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In the webinar, Dr. Fenn discussed the MIND diet and performed a live cooking demonstration of recipes from her new book titled “The Brain Health Kitchen: Preventing Alzheimer’s Through Food.”
In this article, we’ll be summarizing Dr. Fenn’s key takeaways from the MIND diet, including the top 10 best foods to eat, six foods to avoid, and tips for starting the diet.
The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is a new dietary approach that focuses on brain health by emphasizing specific foods and nutrients for optimum brain function.
The MIND diet combines the Mediterranean and DASH (Diet Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have proved effective in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
There have been several positive studies on the MIND diet that observed a slower decline in cognitive abilities because of increased consumption of vegetables and a reduction in high saturated fats, sodium, and sugars.
Our guest host, Chef Annie Fenn M.D., is the author of the brand new book “The Brain Health Kitchen: Preventing Alzheimer’s Through Food” which focuses on the MIND diet to improve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
“The Brain Health Kitchen” cookbook contains over 100 recipes that are easy for caregivers and their loved ones to prepare, ranging from meals, snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts.
Chef Annie Fenn also includes helpful tips for following the MIND diet, including sharing her own personal journey towards better brain health.
This book is currently recommended by Kensington Senior Living as a valuable resource for caregivers and their families who are interested in improving their brain health through nutrition.
For other book recommendations for caregivers, please check out our Kensington Konnect hub, which shares helpful tips, books, and advice for caregivers looking for support and community.
The MIND diet emphasizes vegetables, including dark leafy green vegetables, to lower cholesterol and sodium, and to give the body antioxidants that can fight against premature aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are the top 10 brain-healthy food groups as recommended by the MIND diet:
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens)
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, peanuts)
- Whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa)
- Beans (black beans, chickpeas, lentils)
- Fish (salmon, tuna, trout, cod)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, cornish hens)
- Olive oil
- Wine (in moderation, no more than 5 ounces a day)
- Vegetables (carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, green peas, swiss chard)
The MIND diet encourages limiting or avoiding six specific food groups that are unhealthy for brain health and body health.
Many of these foods contain high amounts of sodium and saturated fat that can worsen hypertension and lead to weight gain, making people more likely to develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia.
Whenever possible, try limiting your consumption of these foods:
- Red meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.)
- Butter and margarine
- Pastries and sweets
- Fried or fast food
- Processed and packaged foods
Making simple swaps in the kitchen can improve your current recipes to be more MIND diet friendly.
Here are some tips that Chef Annie Fenn has covered in her demonstration and her cookbook:
- Use whole-grain flour instead of white flour when making muffins, breads, and pancakes
- Replace butter and vegetable oils with unsaturated fats such as olive oil when cooking, sauteing, or baking
- Use less salt and season your food with more herbs and spices such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, cumin, paprika, and chili powder
- Replace high-fat red meats with lean meats and vegetable proteins such as chicken, turkey, beans, and lentils
- Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for salad dressings, dips, and sauces
As a caregiver, it’s important to take care of your own health and wellbeing, as well as the person who you’re caring for to prevent burnout.
Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough regular exercise and rest to ensure you’re providing the best possible care for your loved one.
Remember, the MIND diet isn’t just for the person you’re caring for, but also for yourself to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia from developing later in life.
Follow these tips for better brain health and nutrition that the MIND diet can provide:
- Prepare meals at home and limit dining out at restaurants or fast food, where the portions tend to be much larger and unhealthier, and include the 6 food groups to avoid
- Encourage physical activity and hydration, and limit sugary or caffeinated drinks
- Plan meals in advance by incorporating the 10 brain-healthy food groups
- Consider taking supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, which are beneficial for brain health.
- Seek support from a caregiver support group, such as Kensington Konnect, or attend educational events on brain health and nutrition, such as “The MIND Event with Annie Fenn”
The Kensington Sierra Madre is an assisted living and memory care community committed to offering a variety of free educational classes on brain health and nutrition for caregivers and their families.
Our ongoing educational series frequently brings in the nation’s top medical experts to cover a range of topics, from meal planning, brain health, and women’s health, to healthy living and stress reduction.
Our loving staff and community have a wealth of expertise in memory loss and caregiving, and feature two distinct memory care neighborhoods, Haven and Connections, for all levels of Alzheimer’s and dementia disease.
Our amenities also include all-day dining, which can accommodate specialty diets, pureed diets, and DASH/MIND diets.
At The Kensington, we promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.
If you have any questions or would like more information about The Kensington’s community, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us. Our staff is here to support you and your loved one every step of the way.