Low-fat, low-calorie diets are not only good for cardiovascular health. It may also delay the onset or progression of dementia. Many epidemiological studies have presented evidence that diet plays a role in the clinical course of Alzheimer’s disease. Diet low in fat and calories and rich in fruit, vegetables and fish seem to be best for the brain.
Currently, there is cure or preventive therapy for AD. Many research studied looked into how nutrition can affect brain damage by dementia, hoping a certain type of diet can lower the risk, delay the onset, and slow down the progression of the disease.
Evidence suggests that high intake of saturated and trans fats can increase the risk for AD whereas a Mediterranean diet is associated with slower cognitive decline and reduced risk for AD.
In a more recent study using laboratory animals, a team of researchers from Europe and North America reported that a diet rich in protein may lead to shrinkage of the brain. The researchers tested four different diets on mice, namely:
- a regular diet
- a high fat/low carbohydrate custom diet
- a high protein/low carb version
- a high carbohydrate/low fat
The purpose of the study was to look at plaque development but one of the results came as a surprise: mice fed with a diet of high protein and low carbohydrate had brains which are 5% lighter that mice with other diet regime. Mice on diet with high fat/low carb had higher levels of plaque proteins but no effect on brain mass.
The results of the study highlight the necessity of more studies on the effects of diet on the brain in prospective randomised double blind clinical diet trials.
According to lead researcher Sam Gandy, a professor at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City
“Given the previously reported association of high protein diet with aging-related neurotoxicity, one wonders whether particular diets, if ingested at particular ages, might increase susceptibility to incidence or progression of AD. This would be a challenging undertaking but potentially worthwhile. If there is a real chance that the ravages of AD might be slowed or avoided through healthy eating. Such trials will be required if scientists are ever to make specific recommendations about dietary risks for AD.”
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