Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers have found a potential weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s: the Mediterranean-based ketogenic diet.
With millions affected by Alzheimer’s, new preventive measures are eagerly sought after.
Understanding Alzheimer’s and Its Impact
Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating. It’s not just about forgetting names or where you put your keys; it’s about a steady decline in memory and cognitive function.
In the U.S., over 6.5 million people grapple with it, and alarmingly, one in three seniors succumbs to Alzheimer’s or a similar dementia-related ailment. The quest for prevention is more urgent than ever.
Diving Into the Diet
You might have heard of the ketogenic or “keto” diet. It’s rich in fats, includes a good dose of protein, and minimizes carbs. The body, in the absence of enough carbs, starts to burn ketones for fuel.
Add a Mediterranean twist—think fresh produce, olive oil, and seafood, like in Greek or Italian meals—and you have the Mediterranean-based ketogenic diet.
The Research: Diet, Digestion, and the Brain
To test this diet’s potential benefits, the researchers formed two dietary groups from 20 adults. Half had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – a state of foggy thinking, a prelude to Alzheimer’s. The other half were cognition-healthy.
One group was placed on the Mediterranean keto diet, while the other tried a high-carb, low-fat diet. After six weeks, the diets were swapped.
Intriguingly, the researchers didn’t just monitor what participants ate but also studied their gut health by examining fecal samples.
Their findings were promising: those with MCI on the Mediterranean keto diet displayed a favorable shift in gut bacteria that might reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
Specifically, they saw a decrease in GABA-producing bacteria. Since GABA is a brain chemical essential for relaxation, and its deficit might trigger Alzheimer’s, this finding is key.
Moreover, consuming curcumin, found in curry spice, led to a decline in certain bacteria responsible for bile acid regulation, vital for fat digestion.
These alterations in gut bacteria might contribute to Alzheimer’s prevention, but further research is warranted.
The findings have energized the researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. They are optimistic about deciphering the diet-brain-gut connection and believe it could unlock new Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment avenues.
They’re poised to delve deeper, aiming to solidify their initial findings in subsequent studies.
For those interested in maintaining cognitive vitality, other research suggests keeping an eye on blood pressure and ensuring adequate vitamin B12 levels.
Studies also hint at cranberries’ potential role in memory enhancement and suggest adopting a balanced food and activity regimen for Alzheimer’s prevention.
For those eager to know more, the study details are available in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.
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.
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