A recent study conducted at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior has found groundbreaking news that a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and a normal body mass index--also known as a BMI, or weight-to-height ratio--can actually reduce the incidence of protein build-ups correlated with onset of Alzheimer's disease.
In the study, 44 mature adults with mild memory changes, but no signs of dementia, underwent an experimental type of PET scan to measure the levels of plaques and tangles in their brains. Plaques and tangles are deposits of toxic proteins or knotted threads of another protein--both are considered key indicators of Alzheimer's disease.
In addition to the brain scans, researchers also took into account key lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, and BMI. Ultimately, they discovered that healthy levels of physical activity, a normal BMI, and a Mediterranean-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in meat and dairy were key to lower levels of plaques and tangles.
Essentially, leading an overall healthier lifestyle led to fewer demonstrated scientifically proven signs of Alzheimer's--a landmark discovery for those working in the field of disease research.
Although older age is the leading, number-one, immutable risk factor for the onset of Alzheimer's, the discovery that lifestyle factors also play such a big role in the abnormal proteins of those with subtle memory loss who have not yet developed full-on dementia is stunning.
Currently, around 5.2 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer's disease. An estimated $200 billion is spent on the condition annually. This recent research proves, rather unsurprisingly, that prevention and a healthy lifestyle are actually far more effective than reactive action to disease.
From now on, researchers will be able to integrate these findings with other more advanced imaging technologies in order to best determine how malleable lifestyle factors like health, diet, stress, and overall cognitive health can play key roles in preventing the onset of Alzheimer's and other degenerative neural disease.