Maybe Diet Prevents Alzheimer Dementia After All

I blogged about a study by Gu et al on April 30, 2010, that found significantly lower incidence of Alzheimer dementia in people in Manhattan who followed this dietary pattern:

  • relatively high consumption of salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, and cruciferous  vegetables
  • relatively low consumption of poultry, red meat, butter, and high-fat dairy

About the same time, a National Institutes of Health expert panel pooh-poohed the possibility that diet had any effect one way or the other on Alzheimer’s

Why does this matter?  Five million U.S. adults have Alzheimer dementia already, and it’s going to get much worse over the coming decades.

A June, 2010, issue of Journal of the American Medical Association has a commentary by two doctors (Martha Morris, Sc.D., and Christine Tangney, Ph.D.), experts in the field of nutrition.  Here’s their explanation of the NIH panel’s negative findings:

Many of the inconsistencies among studies of dietary factors can be attributed to the complexity of nutrition science and the omission of nutrition expertise in the design and analysis of both epidemiological and randomized controlled trials.

Morris and Tangney think the findings of Gu et al are valid, confirming prior studies showing benefit to diets high in vitamin E (from food) and low in saturated fat from animals.  They point out that the animal foods may simply be displacing beneficial nutrients in other foods, rather than directly causing harm.

Until we have further data, anyone at risk for Alzhiemer’s may be better off following the dietary pattern above, or the Mediterranean diet.  The two are similar.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Disclaimer:  All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status.  Always consult your personal physican before making any dietary or exercise changes. 

Reference: Morris, M., & Tangney, C.  Diet and Prevention of Alzheimer Disease.  The Journal of the American Medical Association, 303 (2010): 2,519-2,520.    doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.844


Filed under Dairy Products, Fat in Diet, Fish, Fruits, Health Benefits, Mediterranean Diet, nuts, Vegetables

4 responses to “Maybe Diet Prevents Alzheimer Dementia After All

  1. Emily Deans

    How could diet *not* be a part of causing Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is so highly associated with type II diabetes… but I’m of an opinion that the metabolic derangements and inflammation leading to metabolic syndrome cause nearly every other chronic disease of civilization too… sigh. If modern medicine could be less fragmented and more whole health, I would be a happy doctor!

  2. As we get better at staving off heart disease thereby extending life, we’re going to see more and more alzheimer’s.

    Regarding the negative effects of animal fat, I still wonder how much that has to do with the food source for the animals. A century or so ago, animal fat would have been very different in its fatty acid profile, especially with respect to omega 6 vs 3, since they were more grass fed versus corn (or plankton vs corn for fish). I doubt we’ll ever get an answer to that question.

  3. There’s no point in waiting until science knows the answer… start eating right – now.

    From my reading, other culprits in causing alzheimer’s may be the MSG in most processed foods, aspartame, and other food chemicals. Add to that the radiation from cellphones, wireless technology and all electronic devices.

  4. if you eat healthy and live a happy life then there is nothing you can do if you come down with a disease, they will still happen to the best of us