Can diet prevent alzheimer’s and cognitive decline?

Dr. Frank Sacks, MD, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, and his research team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, have begun aMind Trial logo 3-year landmark research study, in collaboration with researchers from Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, to examine the effects of two weight loss diets on brain health and cognitive decline. “A very big problem in people as they become older, particularly in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond, is a decline in our thinking ability, or cognitive function. This happens with age, typically. In the MIND study, we’re looking at two different ways that we think will improve our health as we get to the older years,” says Dr. Sacks. The MIND Study uses lifestyle and behavioral changes to help its participants lose weight and live healthier.

MIND Diet Intervention and Cognitive Decline” is a randomized Phase 3 trial designed to test whether a healthy diet that the researchers have devised — based on a mix of the Mediterranean and DASH diet plans — can protect people from neurodegenerative ills.  Both of these dietary approaches, designed to stop hypertension, have previously been found to positively impact the risk of cardiovascular conditions.

The MIND trial is supported by a $14.5 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and will follow an estimated 600 people, ages 65 to 84, for three years.  It will recruit participants who ideally will be overweight and tend to favor suboptimal diets because these two factors make them more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. The study will be conducted at two different sites: Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Sacks, who will lead the Boston team, has begun to recruit participants now.

To qualify, individuals must be:

  • Overweight or obese and in good physical health (BMI > 25)
  • Between the ages of 65-84
  • Have a family history of Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease
  • A poor or suboptimal diet
  • A strong commitment to the 3 year intervention

What’s Involved?

Office visits and phone calls for dietary and weight loss counseling, and measurements.

If you know anyone who might be interested in participating, please call (617) 998-6333 or email us at

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