Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles found that exercise, a healthy diet and a normal weight can prevent Alzheimer’s onset and slow the disease’s progression.
UCLA scientists reported that the three lifestyle choices can dramatically reduce the risk of protein build-ups in the brain which often signal Alzheimer’s disease’s onset.
The study involved 44 participants with the average age of 62.6. which reported slight changes in their ability to recall things but they haven’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Participants agreed to have their brains scanned so that researchers can measure the amounts of plaque in their brains. Volunteers also agreed to complete questionnaires on diet and level of physical activity.
Researchers analyzed brain scans to see whether lifestyle factors played any role in the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid and levels of tau protein in the brain, two factors that signal the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.
Study investigators learned that participants who were on a Mediterranean diet, reported moderate amounts of physical activity and a healthy weight had lower levels of beta-amyloid plaque and tau protein than their peers with a less healthy lifestyle.
Researchers believe that the Mediterranean Diet promotes brain health because the fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes paired with plenty of olive oil, cereals and fruits are a rich source of healthy fats.
Lead author of the study Dr. David Merrill expressed his surprise over the new findings. His team was also pleasantly surprised to detect the benefits of a healthy lifestyle at molecular level before more severe memory issues have set in.
Past studies had found a link between a healthy lifestyle and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the middle age. But the latest study is the first one to bring evidence on the changes that lifestyle factors can produce within the brains of people not yet diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but who experience memory issues.
A healthy diet and exercise have also been tied to a slower pace of brain shrinking in people that have been diagnosed with dementia.
Nevertheless, there is one risk factor for dementia that is beyond patients’ will: old age. In the U.S., 5.2 million live with the condition, which translates into $200 billion direct medical costs and productivity loss every year.
The recent findings will be reported in the next month’s issue of American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Image Source: Pixabay