Nutrition

These diets that work to prevent and reduce Alzheimer’s disease

Although no specific diet can prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease, experts encourage people to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. This means eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains while avoiding foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Research indicates that the Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets are linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, study results suggest that the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for improving daily functions and quality of life in people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, unlike the Mediterranean and MIND diets, experts are concerned about the long-term side effects of the ketogenic diet.

Many diets and supplements claim to be miracle cures for Alzheimer’s disease. You should know that, although some studies have shown a link between cognitive function and certain diets or nutrients, there is no evidence that a particular diet can prevent or treat the disease. Here’s how diet can affect Alzheimer’s disease, diets a person can try, and more.

Can diet prevent or help Alzheimer’s disease?

Since Alzheimer’s disease medications only slightly delay the progression of the disease, a doctor may also recommend additional non-drug interventions. This can include diet and nutrition. Many studies suggest a link between diet and cognitive function.

In particular, some research suggests that the Mediterranean and MIND diets may benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease. Although some studies support the use of the keto diet, it can cause potentially dangerous side effects. People with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are less likely to have a nutritious diet and more likely to be malnourished. Symptoms of the disease can cause them to lose their appetite, have difficulty swallowing, and forget to eat. Because the keto diet can reduce a person’s appetite, it can cause someone with these symptoms to be even more malnourished. It is important to note that in addition to diet, other lifestyle changes may benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies show that exercise, blood pressure control, and cognitive training are important for brain health. Cognitive training refers to activities, such as crossword puzzles and sudoku, that can improve the intellectual functions of the brain.

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The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats, including nuts and olive oil. It also includes limited amounts of meat and poultry. Also, it limits the consumption of red meat and encourages people to use aromatic herbs instead of salt. Some studies indicate that this diet may be beneficial for people with or at risk of the disease.

A 2021 study looked at the link between the Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer’s disease. It compared how well people adhered to the diet and looked at a range of participants with symptoms ranging from no cognitive impairment to mild cognitive impairment. The results of the study indicate that greater adherence to diet is linked to better memory, less plaque buildup in the brain, and some protection against brain atrophy. While some of these results may indicate that the diet promotes brain function, they also show that people with better memory are more likely to follow the diet.

The MIND diet

The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Although experts designed the DASH diet for people with high blood pressure, some research has shown its potential benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease as well. Studies have shown that following the MIND diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a 2015 study of 923 participants aged 58 to 98 found that those who adhered to a MIND-like diet had lower rates of Alzheimer’s. This diet emphasizes plant foods and limits foods high in saturated fat and foods of animal origin. It focuses in particular on berries and green leafy vegetables.

The ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Although approaches to this diet vary, most protocols aim to keep carbs to less than 10% of a person’s daily caloric intake. The body thus switches from using glucose as an energy source to using fat. Experts who support the use of the keto diet for Alzheimer’s disease claim that it can reduce plaque buildup in the brain. This buildup is one of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the diet reduces inflammation, one of the key factors in Alzheimer’s pathology, that is, the abnormal physiology that underlies a disease.

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Despite these potential benefits, the keto diet does have a few downsides. Unlike nutritious and balanced diets, such as the Mediterranean and MIND diets, the long-term safety of the keto diet is questionable. Possible side effects include hardening of the arteries, impaired liver function, reduced bone density and kidney stones, as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Additionally, the ketogenic diet can reduce appetite, which can be particularly harmful for people with Alzheimer’s disease, as they are less likely to follow a less nutritious diet.

Foods to favor to prevent and reduce Alzheimer’s disease

A balanced diet, including:

fruits
vegetables
whole grains
lean protein sources, such as beans, fish, and poultry
Dairy products.

Foods to Avoid

Try to avoid or limit:

foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as butter and red meat
foods high in sugar
foods high in salt

Vitamins and food supplements

Multiple studies have examined the benefit of dietary supplements for Alzheimer’s disease. Despite early indications of possible benefit, no vitamin or supplement has been shown to be effective in preventing disease.

Researchers haven’t studied many products on the market thoroughly enough to know their:

their effects on cognition
their safety
drug interactions
Several supplements have potential benefits, but research supporting their use is limited. They include DHA, curcumin and others.

Docosahexaenoic acid

Some research supports taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, in supplement form. However, a 2018 systematic review found that while omega-3 fatty acids may benefit people with very mild Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently not enough evidence to support supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of disease.

Curcumin

The authors of a 2018 study found that curcumin, a polyphenol found in the spice turmeric, may have value in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease. The results indicated that curcumin maintains the structure and function of blood vessels in the brain, which may protect cognitive function. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin supplements are safe and well tolerated, but their absorption is low. To address this issue, researchers are currently investigating new formulations of curcumin supplements.

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Contact a doctor to better prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease

The changes in the brain occur years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. This suggests that there is a time frame in which lifestyle habits can help delay or prevent disease. People who are concerned about their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease can consult a doctor. This can assess a person’s risk factors and make relevant dietary recommendations.

Sources

Ballarini, T., et al. (2021). Mediterranean diet, Alzheimer disease biomarkers, and brain atrophy in old age [Abstract].

Canhada, S., et al. (2018). Omega-3 fatty acids’ supplementation in Alzheimer’s disease: A systematic review [Abstract].

Chen, M., et al. (2018). Use of curcumin in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Cremonini, AL, et al. (2019). Nutrients in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Masood, W., et al. (2021). Ketogenic diet.

Meng, Q., et al. (2020). Relationship between exercise and Alzheimer’s disease: A narrative literature review.

Morris, MC, et al. (2015). MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rusek, M., et al. (2019). Ketogenic diet in Alzheimer’s disease.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice.

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