5 Elements of Western Diet Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease

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Study tests if western diet contributes to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Poor diet and inactivity probably account for around one-quarter of cases of Alzheimer’s disease, recent research finds.

Now, a new study suggests that a ‘western diet’ may well be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s.

The study’s authors describe the typical western diet:

“A western diet tends to include highly processed, less expensive fast food, that has a high fat content and simple carbohydrates while lacking essential nutrients from complex grains, fruits and vegetables.”

Scientists at Tufts University fed a typical western diet to lab mice.

The diet contained high amounts of:

  • animal products,
  • sugars,
  • and fats.

The diet was also relatively low in:

  • plant-based content,
  • and essential nutrients.

The mice provide a model of Alzheimer’s disease which is thought to approximate human beings.

The researchers found that the mice showed a dramatic increase in immune response after eating the western diet for an extended period.

The western diet was linked to a large increase in the activity of microglia: cells which act as the brain’s immune system.

The study strongly supports the idea that a typical unhealthy western diet is a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease.

In combination with obesity, the effects of a western diet could be very large:

“Currently, more than 35% of Americans over the age of 65, and 40% of middle-aged (40–59 years old) individuals, are obese.

Some studies suggest obesity, particularly mid-life obesity, increases the chances of cognitive decline and AD by six-fold.

Increased immune response, such as inflammation, is one of the major consequences of a western diet and/or obesity.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Graham et al., 2016).

Alzheimer’s image from Shutterstock

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Published: 6 March 2016

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