Scientists from the Wake Forest School of Medicine found that following a modified Mediterranean-keto diet could decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The diet could affect the gut microbiome—the good and bad bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract.
The research is published in EBioMedicine and was conducted by Ravinder Nagpal et al.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function independently.
Previous research has found that the human gut microbiome could be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes.
The gut microbiome plays a very important role in health by helping control digestion and benefiting the immune system and many other aspects of health.
Gut microbes can contribute to brain disease and may help find new markers and therapies against Alzheimer’s disease.
In the current study, researchers examined how the gut microbiome differs in older people with mild cognitive impairment compared to cognitively normal adults.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of memory loss or other cognitive ability loss in people who maintain the ability to perform most activities of daily living.
The team also examined whether and how a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet alters the gut microbiome in association with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Mediterranean diet includes plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, potatoes, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil. Meals are planned around these foods.
The diet also includes moderate amounts of lean poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, and eggs.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate mainstream dietary therapy that in medicine is used mainly to treat hard-to-control epilepsy in children.
The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.
In the study, the team tested 17 older people, of which 11 have a mild cognitive impairment, while 6 are cognitively normal.
These people ate the modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet or the American Heart Association Diet for 6-weeks.
The team examined these people’s gut microbiome and markers of Alzheimer’s disease before and after diet interventions.
They found that before the diet interventions, people with normal and impaired cognition show no big difference in gut microbiome diversity.
But several unique microbial signatures are found in people with mild cognitive impairment.
The team also found that several gut bacteria are differently affected by the two diets in cognitively normal and impaired people.
In addition, the modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet slightly reduced lactate and acetate while increasing propionate and butyrate.
Conversely, the American Heart Association Diet increases acetate and propionate while reducing butyrate.
These results suggest that specific gut microbial signatures may show signs of mild cognitive impairment.
The modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet can change the gut microbiome and metabolites in association with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
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