[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 1 Issue 12, July 2011].
A diet low in saturated fat can probably help “stave off Alzheimer’s Disease” according to The Daily Telegraph. This assertion is based on short-term research into two types of diet in 20 healthy adults and 29 people with memory problems.
One diet contained low saturated fat and foods with a low glycemic index. The other diet was high in saturated fats and comprised foods with high glycemic index foods. (Glycemic index measures how quickly food releases its sugars into the blood). The research found that the low saturated fat/low glycemic index diet modified the levels of a protein – specifically, Aβ42 protein – linked to Alzheimer’s Disease in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The low saturated fat/low glycemic index diet reportedly improved mental performance in terms of improved delayed visual memory (i.e. in recalling information presented visually, after a delay).
Note: This study was small and lasted only four weeks. Furthermore, Alzheimer’s Disease (per se) was not an outcome of this trial, so it is probably not possible to conclude that the diets would influence the risk of developing the disease in the long run.
More research is needed to study the effects of diet.
Diet and Alzheimer’s brain changes. London: NHS Choices, June 14th 2011.
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Bayer-Carter, JL. Green, PS. [and] Montine, TJ. [et al] (2011). Diet intervention and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Archives of Neurology, June 6th 2011, Vol.68(6), pp.743-52. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).