My interest in cognitive health and nutrition was sparked by an assignment in my community nutrition education class called "Fact Vs. Fiction." We were required to pick either a fad diet or dietary recommendation, summarize the current literature and decide whether we would recommend this diet to a future client. All in five minutes! I chose to research the MIND Diet; a new healthy eating plan that focuses on preventing Alzheimer's Disease and slowing cognitive decline in older adults.
The MIND Diet
Based on evidence that certain foods in the heart healthy Mediterranean Diet and the hypertension management DASH Diet protect against cognitive decline, researchers (primarily Martha Clare Morris of Rush University Medical Center) have developed the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH diet intervention for neurodegenerative delay). The diet emphasizes whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetables in general, berries, nuts, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine and discourages intake of red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets and fried foods.
View my presentation here: MIND Diet: Is it Fact or Fiction?
In March 2017, I started an internship at the New York City Department for the Aging. It was my job to develop a presentation on topics relevant to the nutrition needs of adults over the age of 65 from diverse backgrounds. I chose two topics "Nutrition for Healthy Eyesight" and "Nutrition for Brain Health." I delivered my presentation to groups of up to 100 seniors, in both English and Spanish, at city-funded centers across New York City.
This spurred my idea for Brain Food, a peer-educator based nutrition education program for adults aged over 60 years that encourages adoption of the MIND diet. Brain Food is six months in length with weekly sessions that includes cooking classes, and educational sessions focused on healthy eating habits and shopping on a budget. I developed Brain Food as a grant proposal project for my Advanced Nutrition class. Download my presentation here.