Healthy lifestyle may stave off Alzheimer’s disease

Healthy lifestyle may stave off Alzheimer’s disease

Sticking to the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, it could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well, according to a study from UCLA researchers.

The team suggests that eating well, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight may reduce the build-up of certain proteins thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet mainly consists of fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains — and includes heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. The results appear in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The team examined 44 adults between the ages 40 and 85 who reported mild memory changes but who did not have clinical dementia. Using an experimental PET scan, the researchers measured two types of brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease—plaques and tangles. Plaques are a type of toxic protein deposit found in the spaces between the brain’s nerve cells; tangles are knotted threads of another type of protein. Both plaques and tangles are increased in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Interestingly, the scans revealed fewer plaques and tangles among study participants with a healthy body mass index who exercised regularly and consumed a Mediterranean diet.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. This study suggests that sticking to a sensible diet and healthy lifestyle carries many benefits, and may help keep this debilitating disease at bay.

Related Episodes