Carbs - The Alzheimers Connection!
Scientists have discovered that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet improves (attenuates)
Alzheimer's disease in mice and say the study results may also have implications for dieters.
The researchers found that mice bred with the mouse version of Alzheimer's
disease showed improvements in their condition when treated with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.
what do you want to do Marty?
I don't know, what do you want to do?
I don't know. I have Alzheimers.
Ahhhh, all those carbs!
What's a carb?
oh, stale bread. Grains.
Huh. That's all I eat!
That's precisely my POINT!
The recently published report showed that a brain protein, amyloid-beta,
which is an indicator of Alzheimer's disease, was reduced in mice on the
so-called ketogenic diet.
The finding by Samuel Henderson, from Accera, Inc., Colorado and colleagues
from Belgium, contradicts previous studies suggesting a negative effect of
fat on Alzheimer's disease.
The authors say their work supports the premise that key aspects of
Alzheimer's disease can be altered by changes in metabolism, and also
highlights the 'interaction of dietary components and how such components
influence the metabolic state'.
The authors believe that insulin and the related hormone, insulin-related
growth factor-1 (IGF-1), are the key players.
Insulin, which is often regarded as a storage hormone, since it promotes
deposition of fat, may also work to encourage amyloid-beta production.
According to Richard Feinman, editor of the journal Nutrition and
Metabolism, who explains the relation between nutrients, that if fat is the
bomb, then insulin (from carbohydrate) is the fuse.
Most studies of the harmful effects of fat have been done in the presence
of high carbohydrate.
If carbs are high, dietary fat is not oxidized and is instead stored as
However when carbohydrates are very low and fat is high, compounds called
ketone bodies are generated (ketosis) and these compounds may play a role
in the reduction seen in amyloid-beta.
In association with a group from the University of Washington, led by Dr.
Suzanne Craft, Henderson has previously shown cognitive improvement in
patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who were given a diet that raises
Feinman also says, in an accompanying editorial, that although it is too
early to tell how the results will fit into the treatment of Alzheimer's
disease, the implication for diet in general is also important.
The importance of insulin as a control element is the basis of popular
weight-loss diets based on carbohydrate restriction, and such diets allow
dieters to regulate fat and calorie intake by appetite alone as long as
carbohydrate intake remains minimal.
Feinman says that the study by Henderson and colleagues is one of several
recent studies that point the way to understanding metabolism beyond the
issues surrounding simple fat reduction.
Do Carbs, Calories Affect Alzheimer's Risk?
Cutting Calories, Carbohydrates Lowered Risk in Animal Study
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News
Jan. 13, 2005 - Reducing calorie and carbohydrate intake may affect
Alzheimer's disease risk.
In a recent experiment, mice eating fewer calories and carbohydrates than
those mice allowed to eat all they wanted --- showed no signs of Alzheimer's-like
disease, even though they had been bred to have the condition.
But don't jump to conclusions. It's too soon to know if the same is true
for people, says psychiatry professor Giulio Maria Pasinetti, MD, PhD.
"While it is far too early for us to make specific recommendations for
human diets, these findings provide the first solid evidence that dietary
changes may prove to be a new approach to treatment and prevention of this
devastating disease," says Pasinetti in a news release.
Pasinetti and colleagues from New York's Mount Sinai Medical School
conducted the experiment. Their findings are due to appear in February in
The FJ Express.
Fewer Carbs and Calories
The researchers wanted to see if cutting calories was beneficial against
Alzheimer's. Other studies have suggested that consuming too many calories
might be an Alzheimer's risk factor.
"There is epidemiological evidence that humans who consume reduced calorie
diets have a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease," says Pasinetti in the
Pasinetti's team used mice bred to have an Alzheimer's-like brain disease.
When the mice were 3 months old, the researchers divided them into two
groups. One group ate a standard rodent diet. The other mice got 30% fewer
calories. Calories were trimmed by reducing carbohydrates. Protein, fat,
cholesterol, vitamins, and minerals were the same in both groups of mice.
After nine months, the mice brains were examined. The low-calorie, low-carb
group "almost completely" avoided forming plaque in their brains, say the
researchers. The same sort of plaque has been found in deceased Alzheimer's
The low-carb, low-calorie mice also matured normally and maintained a
"This rather mild change in diet resulted in a remarkable measure of
disease prevention," says Pasinetti in the news release.
The mice on the standard rodent diet weren't as fortunate. They got no
dietary protection against their brain disease. They also gained weight.
The low-calorie, low-carb diet may have unleashed a helpful chemical chain
reaction. The low-calorie, low-carb mice had higher levels of a chemical
that may break down plaque's building blocks. That could have thwarted the
plaque components before they had a chance to aggregate and clog the brain.
The researchers don't know that for sure. It's possible that the
low-calorie diet influenced the brain in other ways. But there's enough
reason to keep studying diet and Alzheimer's, they conclude.
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