Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have found that following a Mediterranean-based ketogenic diet may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study involved comparing a low-fat diet with a diet that consisted of healthy fats and protein, along with low carbohydrates – the modified Mediterranean ketogenic diet.
The results of the study showed robust changes in a biological pathway that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 6.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia.
It is hoped that the findings of this study will lead to new interventions to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
This research builds upon previous studies that have shown that a modified ketogenic diet may be beneficial in preventing cognitive decline.
The study tested 20 adults, including nine who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and 11 with normal cognition.
The participants were randomly assigned to follow either the low-carbohydrate modified Mediterranean ketogenic diet or a low-fat, higher carbohydrate diet for six weeks.
After a six-week “washout” period, they switched to the other diet. Stool samples were collected from the participants at the beginning and end of each diet period, and six weeks after the washout of the second diet to analyze changes in the gut microbiome.
The results of the study showed that participants with mild cognitive impairment on the modified Mediterranean ketogenic diet had lower levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and of GABA-producing microbes.
Participants on this diet also had higher levels of GABA-regulating bacteria.
GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and GABA dysfunction is associated with neuropsychiatric conditions including Alzheimer’s disease.
The study also showed that participants with mild cognitive impairment who had curcumin in their diets had lower levels of BSH-containing bacteria.
These bacteria regulate bile acids produced by the liver and gut. Lower levels suggest reduced gut motility, which is a phenomenon in which food and waste take longer to transit to the gut.
Abnormal bile acid profiles have been observed in adults with Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings of this study provide crucial insight into how diet may affect the microbiome and improve brain health.
However, larger studies are needed to assess the role that diet interventions play in patients with cognitive impairment.
How to prevent Alzheimer’s disease
While there is no surefire way to completely prevent Alzheimer’s disease, there are several lifestyle changes that may help reduce the risk of developing the disease. Here are a few tips:
Stay physically active: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
Maintain a healthy diet: A Mediterranean-style diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats such as olive oil, has been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep your brain active: Engage in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, or learning a new skill. This can help keep your brain active and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Get enough sleep: Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Manage stress: Chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.
Remember, while there is no surefire way to completely prevent Alzheimer’s disease, making healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of developing the disease.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, and these fruits could slow down brain aging and cognitive decline.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.
The study was conducted by Amanda Hazel Dilmore et al and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
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