The mice had advanced stage Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. After the new diet, the mice showed improved cognitive abilities in memory tests, and they had less damaged protein in the brain, known to accumulate in Alzheimer’s patients.
Dietary protein helps regulate a growth hormone, “IGF-1,” which is linked with aging and diseases that include cancer and diabetes. This new study shows that low-protein intake may also protect the brain against degeneration. It reduced levels of IGF-1 in the body by between 30% and 70% by using a particular protein to block IGF-1 activity.
IGF-1 helps the body grow when you are young. But in the twilight years, it is linked with disease. The researchers wanted to explore dietary ways we can prevent or treat these diseases, as opposed to taking serious drugs that manipulate IGF-1. Plus, there are no drugs at the moment that work in this way. So we are talking 15 years before we see one.
What we need now are clinical trials done on people to see if protein-restricted diets are worth it for those with cognitive impairment. It is something we can go ahead and try in any event, with a doctor’s blessing. Simply choosing less protein-rich foods could help your brain survive. This diet needs to be monitored by a doctor or dietician to ensure you do not become deficient in amino acids. Foods with lower levels of protein in them include vegetables, fruit, pasta, potatoes, and bread. You would avoid meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs as much as possible. You may also have to take some specific supplements at your doctor’s direction.
Alzheimer’s disease continues to be a major burden on society. It’s a good thing research groups like this one are trying to find approaches that don’t require surgery or pharmaceuticals.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Reducing This May Slow Alzheimer’s
“Low-protein diet slows Alzheimer’s in mice,” University of Southern California, February 14, 2013.