Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating condition that currently has no cure. However, recent research has identified that our diet may play a significant role in increasing or decreasing our risk of developing the disease. A review of 38 studies conducted over the last five years concluded that the Western diet pattern is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s in mild-to-moderate cases of the disease. The Western diet is high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt, which may increase inflammation and put our bodies under additional stress, making us more vulnerable to dementia.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet, the ketogenic diet, and diet supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics appear to protect against the disease, but only in mild-to-moderate cases. The Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and seafood, while the ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. However, the ketogenic diet is not without risk in terms of overall health and should only be used under the guidance of a doctor.
Researchers propose that dietary changes could be one way to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Certain nutritional interventions have been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, improve cognitive function, and quality of life for those with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s. The nutritional interventions achieve this by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation and limiting the accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides, which are responsible for the breakdown of neurons key to thinking and remembering.
Dementia affects over 50 million people worldwide as of 2020, and that number is steadily climbing. The work continues to understand how diet is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and the mechanisms at play. However, the study and others like it are helping scientists to gain a more precise picture of how our diet affects the brain. There are still many knowledge gaps to be explored, but a deeper study on the association between nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease is recommended.