April 12, 2010
Foods For Lower Alzheimer's Disease Risk

The list is pretty predictable: Mediterranean diet foods good, red meats and dairy bad.

Individuals whose diet includes more salad dressing, nuts, fish, poultry and certain fruits and vegetables and fewer high-fat dairy products, red meats, organ meats and butter appear less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the June print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Don't want to lose your brain in your final years of life? Eat the good stuff, avoid the bad stuff.

"Epidemiological evidence linking diet, one of the most important modifiable environmental factors, and risk of Alzheimer's disease is rapidly increasing," the authors write as background information in the article. "However, current literature regarding the impact of individual nutrients or food items on Alzheimer's disease risk is inconsistent, partly because humans eat meals with complex combinations of nutrients or food items that are likely to be synergistic."

Yian Gu, Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center, New York, and colleagues studied 2,148 older adults (age 65 and older) without dementia living in New York. Participants provided information about their diets and were assessed for the development of dementia every 1.5 years for an average of four years. Several dietary patterns were identified with varying levels of seven nutrients previously shown to be associated with Alzheimer's disease risk: saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B12 and folate.

The way I'd really like to avoid Alzheimer's and other diseases of old age: Get in a time machine and pop out 50 years from now when rejuvenation therapies will be able to turn back the clock and make us young again.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 April 12 10:56 PM  Aging Diet Brain Studies

Jake said at April 12, 2010 11:33 PM:

Most modern researchers call dementia Type 3 Diabetes. In America, people who eat saturated fats typically eat high carb diets. Once again old era researchers with lipophobia ignore the destructive effects of high carb diets and blame saturated fats.

Zach said at April 13, 2010 7:28 AM:


Yes, indeed. Alzheimer's disease occurs in high insulin environments, caused by the ingestion of unHealthyWholeGrains, starches, breads, HFCS, sugars, etc. Protein junk that should be removed isn't because it's dealing with removing the high level of insulin injected into the brain area because your body is in a toxic shock with such a high level of blood suger.

Among hunter and gatherers (e.g., humanity for millions of years) there weren't cases of Alzheimer's disease, and not because they didn't live into old age. Many did. There weren't cases because the macronutrient intake wasn't 70-80% sugar & refined grains.

Eat the way your body was designed/evolved to eat. Give up grains, corn, rice, potatoes, legumes. Eat meat, fruits and vegetables with limited or no dairy. Why? How come Alzheimer's disease is exploding right now as we eat more process food with grains/sugar and less meat, fruits and vegetables? How come throughout history except for today in Europe/America/worldwide when they ate meat, fruits and veggies with moderate amounts of bread or no bread there wasn't an outbreak of Alzheimer's disease?

Randall, your time machine is right here and right now. Eat in the evolutionary way. My 2 cents.

Dan in Euroland said at April 13, 2010 9:02 AM:

"Among hunter and gatherers (e.g., humanity for millions of years) there weren't cases of Alzheimer's disease"


What is the evidence for this claim? I am not saying that diets don't affect the impact or prevalence of Alzheimer's, but you can't just drop an assertion claiming there were no cases without more direct evidence.

leoncaruthers said at April 13, 2010 9:58 AM:

"Don't want to loose your brain in your final years of life?"

I wasn't planning to untie it. I worry about losing it, sometimes, but never about the knots that hold it in place.

Zach said at April 13, 2010 11:06 AM:

Evidence #1: we don't eat like hunters and gathers, and among the industrialized world Alzheimer's is exploding, along with other metabolic diseases. Why? Because high insulin levels are causing havoc.

Evidence #2: there is no link between saturated fat and disease... there is a link between high carb and disease, and a link between disease and a diet with BOTH high carb and fat... but with low carb (e.g., normal carb in the context of millions of years... it was normal not to eat 6-11 servings of grain per day until 10k years ago) but with low carb and sat fat there's no link to disease despite what propagandists say.

Evidence #3:
Google search is just scratching the surface, type in Alzheimer's and hunter and gatherer

@Euroland, where's your evidence that eating in this modern way (e.g., 6-11 servings of grains, little or no meat) is combating Alzheimer's? It's increasing. Why are Chinese getting more and more diabetic? Because they're eating more meat? Do you really think that? It's because they're stuffing their faces with sugar and grains in place of meat, fruits and veggies. When someone says eat less meat and doesn't address the crackers and bread and rolls and muffins and chips and HFCS-laden foods that were never a part of our evolution... well, it's a blind spot for them. I have many, maybe this one is yours.

In said at April 13, 2010 5:13 PM:

"...red meats and dairy bad."

What's predictable is this implausible conclusion. Things I know that make me skeptical:

1.) People have eaten red meats and full fat dairy for thousands of years and beyond. Does it really makes sense that these foods are inherently unhealthy?

2.) Certain individuals and groups have financial and status motives in having us all believe saturated fat is nutritional enemy no 1. This gets expressed to a surprising degree in how research is interpreted. That TFA had little details is a bad sign. I'm not gonna trust this. Randall, great blog, but sometimes I think you need to be more careful you are not being a tool. I could have written this post for the PUFA article you posted on Link

3.) Here is an article citing a whole slew of research that does not support that conclusion: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/dirty-little-secret-of-diet-heart.html

I'm with zach, its much more plausible that things like vegetable oil, sugar, wheat flour, etc. cause diseases to a much greater degree than red meat and full fat dairy.

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