“Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Diet” Up to half of Alzheimer’s cases may be
attributable to just these 7 risk factors, and that’s not including diet, just because there are
so many dietary factors that they couldn’t fit
them into their model, but they acknowledged that
diet might be another important modifiable risk
factor for Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, there is growing
evidence that dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet,
are associated with lower Azheimer’s risk, as well as slower cognitive decline. But which constituents of the
Mediterranean diet are responsible?
The traditional Mediterranean diet
is a diet high in intake of vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts,
and low in meats and dairy. When they tried to tease
out the protective components, fish consumption showed no benefit,
neither did moderate alcohol consumption. The 2 critical pieces appeared
to be vegetable consumption, and the ratio between unsaturated
fats and saturated fats, essentially plant fats
to animal fats. In studies across 11 countries,
fat consumption appeared to be most closely associated with the prevalence
of Alzheimer’s disease, with the lowest fat intake
and Alzheimer’s rates in China to the highest fat intake and
Alzheimer’s rates in the United State. But this is grouping
all fats together. Harvard researchers examined the
relationships between major fat types to cognitive change over 4 years
among 6,000 healthy older women, and found that higher saturated
fat intake was associated with a poorer trajectory
of cognition and memory. Women with the highest
saturated fat intake had 60 to 70% greater odds of
worst change on brain function. The magnitude of cognitive change
associated with saturated fat consumption was equivalent to about
6 years of aging, meaning women with the
lowest saturated fat intake had the brain function
of women 6 years younger. What if one already has Alzheimer’s, though? Previously, this group of
Columbia University researchers reported that eating
a Mediterranean-style diet was related to lower risk
for Alzheimer’s disease, but whether a Mediterranean diet—
or any diet for that matter— is associated with the
subsequent course of the disease and outcomes had yet
to be investigated… …until now. They found that adherence
to the Mediterranean diet may affect not only risk for Alzheimer
disease but also subsequent disease course: Higher adherence to the Mediterranean
diet was associated with lower mortality. And the more they adhered to the
healthier diet, the longer they lived. Within 5 years, only 20% of
those with high adherence died, with twice as many deaths in
the intermediate adherence group, and in the low diet adherence group,
within 5 years, more than half were dead, and by 10 years, 90% were gone,
80% were gone, or less than half. And by the end of the study,
the only people still alive were those with high adherence
to the healthier diet.