Diet and Alzheimer’s disease
As another World Alzheimer’s day approaches on the 21st September, there still remains no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and it has been estimated that by 2050 there will be 131.5 million people worldwide living with the disease (Prince et al., 2015). The theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s day is the “power of knowledge”, and so it seems apt to talk about the evidence base behind preventative measures, as this has been emphasised as pivotal to reduce Alzheimer’s prevalence amongst populations and the disease burden on healthcare systems and communities (Prince et al., 2015) A present area of research is the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet. This diet is a combination of the mediterranean diet, which is characterised by fruits, vegetables, and olive oil (Bach-Faig et al., 2011), and the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods and discourages consumption of saturated and total fat (Appel et al., 1997). The MIND diet combines components of both diets, and categories food into ten brain healthy food groups (green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine) and five unhealthy food groups (red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried/fast food) (Morris et al., 2015).
In a cross-sectional study by McEvoy et al. (2017) including 5,907 adults whose dietary patterns were assessed via food frequency questionnaire with relation to cognitive function. Results indicated that individuals who scored higher in terms of more frequent consumption of foods considered part of the MIND diet had a statistically significant better cognitive function (P < 0.001), than those who did not follow this dietary pattern (McEvoy et al. , 2017). A longitudinal study by Morris et al. (2015) including 923 participants, who were followed for 4.5 years and had their diet assessed using a food frequency questionnaire, indicated that adherence to the MIND diet was associated with lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the MIND diet was demonstrated to be less protective in individuals with the APOE ε4 allele. Conversely, the MIND diet was more protective against Alzheimer’s development in individuals who had experienced a previous myocardial infarction (P=0.06 for both associations) (Morris et al., 2015).
These initial findings with regards to the MIND diet are promising with relation to Alzheimer’s disease. However, at this stage the evidence base remains modest with regards to Alzheimer’s disease prevention and further large scale studies are merited. If you would like to learn more about nutrition and lifestyle interventions for supporting health and welllbeing and preventing chronic disease, please check out the Nutritank website and join our community to learn more.
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Bach-Faig, A., Berry, E. M., Lairon, D., Reguant, J., Trichopoulou, A., Dernini, S., Medina, F. X., Battino, M., Belahsen, R., Miranda, G., Serra-Majem, L., & Mediterranean Diet Foundation Expert Group. (2011). Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates. Public health nutrition, 14(12A), 2274–2284. Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980011002515> [Accessed 22/08/2022]
McEvoy, C. T., Guyer, H., Langa, K. M., & Yaffe, K. (2017). Neuroprotective Diets Are Associated with Better Cognitive Function: The Health and Retirement Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 65(8), 1857–1862. Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14922> [Accessed 22/08/2022].
Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., Sacks, F. M., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., & Aggarwal, N. T. (2015). MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging. Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 11(9), 1015–1022. Available at:<https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2015.04.011> [Accessed 22/08/2022]
Prince, MJ, Wimo, A, Guerchet, MM, Ali, GC, Wu, Y-T & Prina, M 2015, World Alzheimer Report 2015 – The Global Impact of Dementia: An analysis of prevalence, incidence, cost and trends. Alzheimer’s Disease International, London. Available at: <http://www.alz.co.uk/research/world-report-2015> [Accessed 22/08/2022]