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Can a Healthy Diet Slow Aging and Reduce Dementia Risk? New Data Says YES

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Posted on Apr 10, 2024, 11 a.m.

Article courtesy of Dr. Joel Kahn, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, one of the world's top cardiologists, a best-selling author, lecturer, and a leading expert in plant-based nutrition and holistic care.

Dr. Kahn is one of the featured speakers at the A4M 32nd Annual Spring Congress being held in West Palm Beach, Florida on May 3 to 5, 2024. He will be taking part in the sessions on Nourishing Health: Optimizing Nutrition, Decoding Metabolic Dysfunction, and Unveiling Genetic Influences. To find out more visit:

The risk of aging and developing memory loss and dementia is often a greater fear expressed by patients in my clinic than heart disease or cancer outcomes. Strategies to prevent memory loss are evolving but it is clear that regular exercise and healthy diets, along with adequate sleep and weight control, are part of a brain-friendly program. How can a healthy diet protect the brain? A new study indicates one mechanism and promotes the value of the MIND diet for brain health. 


Framingham Offspring Cohort is a database going back decades originating in Framingham, MA and now tracking the new generations. The authors included participants ≥60 years old, free of dementia, and having dietary, epigenetic, and follow-up data. They assessed a healthy diet as long-term adherence to the Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet (MIND, over 4 visits spanning 1991–2008).

They measured the pace of aging from blood DNA methylation data collected in 2005–2008 using the DunedinPACE epigenetic clock. Incident dementia and mortality were defined using study records compiled from 2005 to 2008 visits through 2018.


Of 1,644 included participants (mean age 70, 54% female), 140 developed dementia, and n = 471 died over 14 years of follow-up.

A greater MIND score (more adherence to this healthy diet pattern) was associated with slower DunedinPACE of aging measurements and reduced risks for dementia and mortality.

Slower DunedinPACE of aging measurements were associated with reduced risks for dementia and mortality.

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


The authors indicated that the MIND diet was optimal  by “combining key principles from two healthy diets — i.e., the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, the MIND diet emphasizes high intake of neuroprotective foods such as fish, green leafy vegetables, berries, and nuts, while minimizing intake of red meat, butter, [and] sweets."

The findings suggest that a slower pace of aging is part of the relationship of a healthy diet with reduced dementia risk.

Monitoring the pace of aging may inform dementia prevention and is available as a kit that can be ordered

A large fraction of the diet-dementia association remains unexplained and may reflect direct connections between diet and brain aging. 

There were more comments on the MIND diet for brain health. 

The MIND diet helps in reducing inflammation, improving metabolic health, and supporting heart and brain health. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are crucial for reducing neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are implicated in cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.”

Diets high in saturated fats and sugars, on the other hand, can exacerbate neuroinflammation and contribute to insulin resistance in the brain, which is linked to cognitive decline.

The MIND diet provides key nutrients for brain health: long-chain omega-3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory and vasoprotective properties, polyphenols which are antioxidants, as well as phenolic compounds, vitamins E and B, sphingolipids or choline with properties against amyloidogenesis, oxidative stress, or inflammation.

The MIND diet is rich in fiber and promotes healthy gut microbiota, which can benefit the gut-brain axis.

About the author: At his core, Dr. Joel Kahn believes that plant-based nutrition is the most powerful source of preventative medicine on the planet. Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, it was only after his own commitment to a plant-based vegan diet that Dr. Kahn truly began to delve into the realm of non-traditional diagnostic tools, prevention tactics, and nutrition-based recovery protocols.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Content may be edited for style and length.

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