Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Lifestyle Changes May Slow or Prevent Alzheimer's

Per Dennis Thompson, in U.S. News & World Report “Lifestyle Changes May Slow or Prevent Alzheimer’s in People at High Risk”.

“New research shows that a set of healthy lifestyle habits can help preserve brain function in folks with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia.

About 71% of patients who ate healthy, exercised regularly and engaged in stress management had their dementia symptoms either remain stable or improve without the use of any drugs, researchers reported June 7 in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.

By comparison, about 68% of patients in a control group without these lifestyle changes experienced a worsening of their symptoms, results show.

Researchers also found that the more patients changed their lives in healthy ways and stuck to those changes, the greater the benefit for their brain power.

For the study, researchers recruited 51 people with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or early dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. They were randomly assigned to either the lifestyle change group or a control group.

The people in the lifestyle change group participated in an intensive program with four components:

  • A whole-foods, plant-based diet low in harmful fats, refined carbs, alcohol and sweeteners.
  • Moderate aerobic exercise and strength training at least a half-hour each day.
  • Stress management, including meditation, stretching, breathing and guided imagery, for one hour a day.
  • Support groups for patients and their partners for one hour three times a week.

Results after 20 weeks showed significant differences in the lifestyle group versus the control group, both in brain function and in blood-based biomarkers for Alzheimer’s like the protein amyloid."

Although this was a study with a small group, the results are hopeful and positive results were seen in just 20 weeks. These same changes may have a role in the prevention of cognitive impairment… so a little more reason to eat well, exercise, and stress less.