A recent study from the RUSH University, Chicago, Illinois showed that diets can reduce markers for Alzheimer’s disease. The publication date of the study was March 8, 2023. The study began in 1997. Researchers followed people who donated their body to the Memory and Aging project at Rush University with yearly detailed diet reviews. The data went back to 2014. At that time there were 581 people who had died with an average age of 91. Researchers followed the subjects for 6 to 7 years prior to their death with diet questionnaires. After their deaths they did autopsies and examined their brains for amyloid plaques and tangles. These are markers for Alzheimer’s disease. People who followed either the Mediterranean diet or the Mind diet had almost 40% reduction of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers related this to the diets, which the subjects had consumed over the years.
Increased plaques and tangles with sweets and French fries
People who ate fried and fast foods, pastries, and sweets had much more plaques and tangles in their brains than controls who consumed a Mediterranean diet or a Mind diet.
Reduced plaques and tangles with green leafy vegetables and other healthy foods
Researchers measured the adherence to the Mediterranean diet or the Mind diet by a diet score. The higher the score, the more people adhered to the diet. The study stated: “People who scored highest for adhering to the Mediterranean diet had average plaque and tangle amounts in their brains similar to being 18 years younger than people who scored lowest.” It further said: “Researchers also found people who scored highest for adhering to the MIND diet had average plaque and tangle amounts similar to being 12 years younger than those who scored lowest.”
Puja Agarwal is an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and lead author of the study. She said: “Doing a simple dietary modification, such as adding more greens, berries, whole grains, olive oil and fish, can actually delay your onset of Alzheimer’s disease or reduce your risk of dementia when you’re growing old.”
People who followed either the Mediterranean diet or the Mind diet had almost 40% reduction of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers knew this from autopsies where the amyloid plaques and tangles in their brains were counted. Those on healthy diets were later found to have much less amyloid plaques and tangles.
The Mediterranean diet
This diet focuses on plant-based cooking. It includes extra virgin olive oil, which is a particularly healthy oil. Each meal contains fruits and vegetables, beans and seeds, whole grains and a few nuts. Red meat is consumed rarely, but if it is, then in small amounts. Fish and seafood is regularly served. Many research articles stressed that a Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory and that it contains a lot of anti-oxidant vitamins.
The Mind diet
Rush researchers developed the Mind diet in 2015. It focuses on brain health. Rush university researchers describe specifically what is healthy to eat. For instance, leafy greens should be consumed every day. The darker the greens are, the better. Examples of greens are: arugula, collards, dandelion greens, endive, grape leaves, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and turnip greens. But berries of all kinds are also recommendable as part of the Mind diet: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries should be part of your diet at least five days a week. A 2017 study found that the Mind diet lowered the rate of Alzheimer’s disease by 33%.
A study from the Rush University, Chicago, Illinois showed that a healthy diet can cut down cases of Alzheimer’s disease. These researchers followed a group of aging people from 1997 onwards. They followed people with yearly detailed diet reviews. The data went back to 2014. At that time there were 581 people who had died with an average age of 91. As these people had donated their bodies to science, the researchers did autopsies and examined each participant’s brain. They determined the amyloid plaques and tangles in their brains, which scientists know as reliable markers for Alzheimer’s disease. Those who adhered to the Mediterranean diet or the Mind diet had almost 40% less Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many studies that show that diets with lots of greens reduce the frequency of Alzheimer’s. But no study showed previously with autopsies that Alzheimer’s was less frequent on a healthy diet. The present study is unique showing about 40% less amyloid plaques and tangles in the brains of subjects, when they adhered to a healthy diet.