A new study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry indicates that a healthy diet and regular physical activity may reduce the buildup of a toxic protein Beta amyloid, which is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The research done by the UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior studied 44 adults ranging in age from 40 to 85 who had mild memory changes but did not have the diagnosis of dementia. The study used PET scans to assess the amounts of plaque and tangles in the brain which are composed of Beta amyloid, whose buildup is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
They found that several lifestyle factors were linked to lower levels of plaques and tangles on the brain scans. These factors are – maintaining a proper body weight, exercise, and a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and fish but low in meats and dairy, with mild to moderate alcohol consumption.
Dr. David Merrill, lead author of the study said, “The fact that we could detect this influence of lifestyle at a molecular level before the beginning of serious memory problems surprised us.”
Earlier studies have shown that a healthy lifestyle may result in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. But this new study is the first to show that these lifestyle factors directly influence the abnormal protein beta amyloid in people with subtle memory loss who do not have dementia. Dr Merrill says, “The study reinforces the importance of living a healthy life to prevent Alzheimer’s, even before the development of clinically significant dementia. This work lends key insight not only into the ability of patients to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but also physicians’ ability to detect and image these changes.”
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