The MIND Diet

U.S. News & World Report, an international authority in rankings and consumer advice, released its annual evaluation for Best Diets. If you get a copy you will read of 39 diets in multiple categories.  

The MIND diet was ranked fourth for the easiest diet to follow and tied for the fifth for best diet overall and best diet for healthy eating.

The MIND diet was ranked in the following seven categories:

  • Easiest Diets to Follow: No. 4
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating: No. 5 (tie)
  • Best Diets Overall: No. 5 (tie)
  • Best Heart-Healthy Diets: No. 7 (tie)
  • Best Diets for Diabetes: No. 7 (tie)
  • Best Weight-Loss Diets: No. 29 (tie)
  • Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets: No. 34 (tie)

This blog addresses the MIND DIET (from Rush University Medical Center), which has been on the list for 6 years. They have just completed. A 3-year study (funded by NIH) is about to be completed, published preliminary findings regarding this diet. Data leans to this diet providing long-term protection against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, it also promotes overall health, including cardiovascular benefits.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions,

(ex. hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke).

This diet identifies ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods and addresses them.

Healthy’ food group:

  two or more daily servings of vegetables, of which one serving is a leafy green, 

  three servings per day of whole grains, 

  a serving of beans three times weekly, 

  one ounce of nuts/nut butter, 

  • a half cup of berries five days per week, 
  • two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day; 
  • poultry twice weekly,  
  • at least one fish meal weekly.

‘Unhealthy food  must have limitations: 

  • no more than one teaspoon a day of butter, 
  • eating less than five servings a week of sweets and pastries,
  • less than four servings a week of red meat, 
  • no more than two ounces of whole-fat cheese weekly, 
  • no more than one meal of fried foods per week.

Nuances exist for example having difficulty limiting the intake of red meat to less than four servings per week could still be considered a healthy eater, provided they were reaching the goal of at least one serving of leafy green vegetables each day.

Many books and internet sites exist on the MIND diet, they can help you follow eat to live long and healthy! MIND Diet

Helpful Dietary & Heart Health Apps

You hear there is an App for everything and these 2  new app strongly supports the reality. I want to share 2 App finds: one on obesity, another for heart patients leaving the hospital.

These US obesity Facts are disheartening:

-Obese as even the media recognizes is a BMI of 30 or greater

-2/3 of adults in our country are obese

-More than half of children will be obese by age 35

Unhealthy eating results in, primary obesity and obesity related diseases, that effects 64% of the US. There are apps allows you to set a budget then follow the USA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Once such app is BagIQ grabs data from your loyalty program updates from over 500,000 locations food stores nationwide. See image for sample screen below. Search for an app that helps you.


Now as you leave the hospital after a heart event, personal instructions can be programmed into an app. Medication reminders document your weight vitals (blood pressure, heart rate). Plus the app allows your caregivers to monitor your progress at home. One such app is SamiConnect , a 24/7 companion developed with cardiologists. It is up to the hospital and physicians to choose an app that they can use and monitor. This app curiously has a qualifier that you must be 17 to download.


NEW Dietary Guidelines For Americans


Poor eating habits account for beaucoup medical costs, so what do the ‘experts’ say?

Among the many responsibilities of the government is to protect our health; while air & water quality immediately come to mind, know that nutrition is included. Every 5 years, a ‘rethink’ of the dietary guidelines for Americans (over age 2) is done by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, (advisory committee) hence the 2015-2020 version. These guidelines have are wide reaching including use by the  FDA to generate food labeling data -%DA, for the food industry, manufacturer measures and food assistance programs, to name a few.

In my blogs I try to give you more then a news program’s teaser, in this case serious depth is called for. Let’s consider the approval process, recommendations come out of the Advisory committee (made up of medical and health related professionals) THEN this scientific report is converted into the FINAL & OFFICIAL ‘dietary guidelines’ by federal agencies, accountable to Congress (which simply put – the lobbyist with the most money are working hardest). Yes there is a political half to it’s creation. I image important content gets massaged out.

Many in the nutrition field think the guidelines do not go far enough to inform the general public, while the authors themselves have been the target of intense attacks over the past year. Two of the authors, Edward Archer, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Carl Lavie, MD, of the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, were criticized for receiving research funds from Coca Cola.

What you should do is read and listen to your healthcare professional and most importantly your body including your weight. Resources for you include ‘estimated calorie needs by age sex and activity level‘, so many others, check out this list of nutrition and physical activity resources.

Diet and Depression

elm_cvr-lgI would never have guessed in my ‘out there’ imagination that I would find worthwhile medical information reading a fashion magazine while waiting for my car to be serviced!
I had not read nor for that matter seen a copy of “ELLE” for a very long time, never mind the June 2014 issue! Arizona is not LA or NYC!
Here was the scoop Harvard School of Public Health followed 43,685 women for 12 years looking at depression as it relates to diet. At the onset no one had a diagnosis of; nor were taking anti-depressents.
The researchers evaluated a ‘pro-inflammatory diet’ versus one that was not.

Let me share with you the diets – before the findings – as you will probably be able to guess outcome:

  • ‘pro-inflammatory’ diet – soft drinks, red meat, margarine, refined grains
  • ‘non inflammatory’ diet – red wine, coffee, olive oil, green and also yellow veggies

OK you guessed:

  • 29 a 41% of those on ‘pro-inflammatory’ diet were more likely to be depressed then those on non inflammatory diet.

I did not feel the need to verify this blurb shared with ELLE readers, it is so intuitive. Gluten is a well-known pro- inflammatory agent to human body especially the brain. Know I feel very responsible when blogging so yes here is a good link for more details!

Impressive Hypertension in Adults & Children

Are you below 120/80?  If you are higher you have high blood pressure – hypertension (HBP) – no matter your age!Hypertension

As in adults, for children, the definition is 120/80 mm Hg and is in the 95th percentile or greater, then the patient has hypertension. Like podcast form, check out my podcast channel – Doc Handal Speaks! Listen up! specifically on HBP on iTunes or the RSS feed. Also re-read the blog offering more background data.

Are you one of the 75 million American adults (29-32.6% according to CDC), the is 1 in 3 adults, who have high blood pressure?  17.2% of sufferers, almost half, don’t know they have elevated pressure in their arteries doing big-time damage. Sadly of those that know they have high blood pressure half do not have it under control.* BTW you will always have it as you take meds to control. It is true you might get off meds if you lose dramatic weight but even with that once your vessels harden even diet and exercise may not lower your’ numbers’.

Children with Hypertension (HBP)?

Children can develop HBP, as a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends annually checking blood pressure starting at age 3. Once found the child with HBP, is recommended a DASH diet and along with moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 3 to 5 d per week (30–60 min per session) to help reduce BP. Consider the MIND diet, check out a past blog.  Back to diet sodium is an accepted culprit Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) sodium  levels defined by the National Academies (2020-2025) suggests consumption of :Causes Hypertension

1,200 mg/day for ages 1 through 3;

1,500 mg/day for ages 4 through 8;

1,800 mg/day for ages 9 through 13; and

2,300 mg/day for all other age groups.

The CDRR for sodium was established using evidence of the benefit of reducing sodium intake on cardiovascular risk and hypertension risk.


AHA Guidelines

The incidence of HBP in ages is too prevalent worldwide. A recent study in Pakistan aged between 4 and 7 years (19.2%) and there is a strong association between high BMI (body mass index), family history of HTN, and high-fat diet intake with HTN in children. There was no significant variation of prevalence between both genders.

2017, CDC Study detected that 1 in 25 youth ages 12 to 19 have hypertension, and 1 in 10 has elevated blood pressure. data from more than 12,000 participants ages 12 to 19 who responded to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 to 2016.

Secondary HBP is a common result as is the direct result of obesity, possibly medications but also you can inherit this medical problem.

Again no surprise, same as for adults, sedentary behaviors during childhood increases the risk of developing HBP. You can imagine missing the presence of this will cause irreversible damage in so many body organs that life expectancy will drop. 

Check your and your youngsters’ numbers, Trust me they will enjoy monitoring especially if they can record on their smartphones.


*Executive Summary: Heart Disease and From the American Heart Association. D Mozaffarian, EJ Benjamin, AS Go, DK Arnett… – Circulation, 2016

Follow The Science – Fruits and Vegetables Rule

fruitDo you stop at an apple a day to keep a doctor away? Follow the science – studies that asked what is the Magic Number for Daily Fruit and Vegetable Intake found the 5 a day rule works. 


Two servings per day of fruit and three vegetables conferred the greatest benefit; eating more servings did not yield additional mortality risk reduction, published in Circulation. That’s 5 a day! They also found that eating more will not increase your longevity.

Follow The Science

In two well-known prospective studies over 30 years with more than 100,000 participants discovered that five-a-day” was, in fact, better than two servings per day in terms of lower risk of death from any cause (13%), a lower risk of death from heart disease (12%), lower risk of death from cancer (10%) and lower risk of death from respiratory disease (35%).fruits and vegtables

Noted was that starchy vegetables (e.g., peas, corn), fruit juices, and potatoes, were not associated with decreased mortality over 3 decades of follow-up.
Read the previous blog on diet.

If you have high blood pressure also consider the MIND diet, read a recent blog on this.

Heart Health Influencers

I want to share a few recent findings that act as influencers on heart health.

Income Changes – Changes in household income can have a negative impact. “A drop in income of more than 50% over 6 years was associated with a 17% higher risk of CVD over the next 17 years (HR: 1.17), whereas a rise in income of more than 50%was associated with a 14% lower risk of CVD (HR: 0.86)”*

Early menopause –The estrogen ‘protective effect’ historically has born out -women who experienced menopause after the age of 51 years had a significantly reduced risk of CVD.**

Less 6 hours of sleep – If you are middle age and have hypertension and Diabetics and getting less than 6 hours of sleep, you have a two-fold increase in heart problems (including stroke).***

Studies have shown that:

– ‘Mind over matter’ recall that your ‘frame of mind’ can have a powerful effect on your heart health.

–  High fiber diet improves heart health

PLEASE take heed!


* Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study

** The Lancet Public Health

***Journal of the American Heart Association


News in Health Research

Video Game addiction is now an officially mental Health Disorder !

The World Health Organization made this determination public so as this mental health disorder be recognized and diagnosed as a disease.

Officially describes the addiction to digital and video gaming as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” that becomes so extensive that it “takes precedence over other life interests. Sounds like an addiction to me!


Your Heart & Lead Exposure

Cardiologists do not recognize a low-level lead exposure as an important risk factor for heart disease and death from it.


Age & Exercise

Older adults (average age 73) who exercise one hour 3 times a week had improved cognitive function wither their brain had or did not have signs of decreasing function. Exercise no matter the type mind-body, aerobic, yoga, tai-chi, strength training is critical for good health no matter your age.


‘Precision Dietetics’

Researchers from Texas say your genes may determine to wither or not a specific diet will work. One diet does not fit all! Testing mice (have the similar genetic makeup to human) they used 4 different diets. The American (high in fats and refined carbs), Mediterranean, Japanese, and the ketogenic diet -each had varying results even the same diet in different mice. So is it ‘all in your GENES’?

Eat Late Gain Weight

Sleep deprivation has been shown in numerous studies to be associated with weight gain. In a recent study early data strongly hints that thin persons eating meals late in the day or at night are at greater risk of gaining weight. This no matter how much sleep you get. Interestingly ‘not sleep deprived’ was 7 hours sleep for this experiment.

The premise for results is the negative effects of fuel oxidation, energy metabolism, and hormone flux (all measured). Insulin and cholesterol levels also were increased and during the noon to 11 p.m. eating period. No late night dinner dates!

On the topic of healthy eating, let me remind you of the well recognized and researched Mediterranean diet. I wrote a short blog on it’s importance but a well done treatise on it is available at ‘jenreviews’ -worth the read!