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October 24, 2005

High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet May Help Alzheimer's

Topics: Medicine

The ketogenic diet was initially studied in the 1920's as a treatment option for those with intractable epilepsy. Although medications have since replaced it, there is now a resurgence of interest in a diet that is high in fat, low in carbohydrate and protein, and which results in ketosis. The diet limits fluids, which helps contribute to the diet's success. This ketotic state exerts an anti-epileptic effect, though its precise mechanism of action is not completely understood.

Now there is evidence that the ketogenic diet may slow the progression of Alzheimer's Disease.

[...] A new study shows mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease showed less of the brain-clogging plaques associated with the disease when they were fed a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet than mice fed a standard low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.

Other studies in mice and in humans have suggested diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. But researchers say those studies did not examine the effects of a high-fat diet that is also low in carbohydrates, known as a ketogenic diet.

They say the results show that dietary approaches to treating Alzheimer's disease should look at the interaction of various dietary elements on the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

In the study, researchers analyzed the effects of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet in female mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease.

After 43 days on the ketogenic diet, researchers found beta-amyloid protein levels in the brain were reduced by 25% compared with a similar group of mice eating a standard low-fat and high-carb diet. Mice fed the ketogenic diet also lost weight.

(...) However, despite these changes, mice on the high-fat, low-carb diet did not exhibit any changes in behavior in comparison with mice fed the standard low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet after 38 days.

(...) Researchers say the ketogenic diet's effects on insulin and the related hormone, insulin-related growth factor-1 (IGF-1) may be responsible for the benefits found in this study.

(...) Insulin is often considered a storage hormone, since it promotes deposition of fat, but insulin may also work to encourage amyloid-beta production...

The researchers data suggest that it may not be (as opposed to "is not")fats in the diet that increase amyloid-beta levels, but perhaps levels of total calories, carbohydrates, or the metabolic state of the animal (people too). The finding contradicts previous studies that concluded that fat has a negative impact on Alzheimer's disease.

Posted by Richard at October 24, 2005 1:06 PM

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