Diet and Exercise May Be Keys to Avoiding Alzheimer's Disease

Posted by Admin on September 15, 2009

Seniors who follow a Mediterranean diet and get regular exercise have less than half the chance of falling victim to Alzheimer disease (AD), according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. The study was the first to correlate the combined effects of diet and exercise and the risk of Alzheimers. The study was led by Nikalaos Scarmeas, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center, New York.


During the study, researchers tracked a group of 1,880 elderly residents of New York City without dementia and examined their diet and physical activity information. The group was checked every one- and a half years from 1992 to 2006, during which time a total of 282 developed Alzheimers.

Researchers found that participants who closely followed a Mediterranean diet – rich with fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals, fish, reduced intake of meat and dairy products, a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats and mild to moderate alcohol consumption – reduced their risk of developing Alzheimers by 32 to 40 percent.

Compared with those who had no physical activity, the individuals who were physically active had a 33 percent to 48 percent lower risk for Alzheimers. The group that managed to effectively combine both diet and exercise had the lowest risk of developing dementia – 9 percent. Those who were inactive and poorly managed their diets had twice the risk for Alzheimers – 21 percent.

The authors conclude that, "Compared with individuals with low physical activity plus low adherence to a diet, high physical activity plus high diet adherence was associated with a 35 percent to 44 percent relative risk reduction... Absolute Alzheimers risks declined from 21 percent in the group with no physical activity plus low diet adherence to 9 percent in the group with much physical activity plus high diet adherence."

Doctors surveyed by Empowered Health News welcomed the findings.  Dr. Brandon Colby, MD, specialist in Predictive Medicine in Los Angeles adds, “The recent JAMA study proves, yet again, that what is good for the heart is good for the head. Both a Mediterranean-type diet (high in vegetables, fruit, fish, unrefined cereals, and olive oil, moderate consumption of red wine (1-2 glasses per day) and low consumption of fat, refined sugar products, and red meat), and physical exercise are very beneficial for heart health and brain health because it promotes healthy blood vessels.”

He continues by saying, “The reason why this study is so important is because it is the first to look at the outcome when both Mediterranean-type diet and physical activity are combined together.” “Before this study it was postulated that both will probably help more than either alone but this study proves it – not only that, but both together appear to have a multiplicative effect whereby the risk of Alzheimer’s is reduced by over 85 percent, which is amazing. However, the number of people in this study was relatively low so it will be good to see these results replicated in a larger population.”

Story by Doug Burton.


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