Alzheimer's Disease: Prevention Through Dietary Interventions

Friday, February 17, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 306 (Hynes Convention Center)
Neal D. Barnard,George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC
Recent studies demonstrating links between diet and Alzheimer’s disease have suggested important avenues for research, as well as opportunities for prevention. Prospective studies have shown that diets that are high in saturated and trans fats are associated with significantly increased incidence, and metals, particularly copper, iron, and aluminum, have also been studied for their links with Alzheimer’s risk. Potentially protective factors, including vitamin E, B-vitamins, and aerobic exercise have also been studied.

Until now, drug discovery has been a research focus in Alzheimer’s disease, but the vast majority of drugs emerging from animal models have failed in humans. A more promising approach follows the lead of heart disease research: identifying risk factors in epidemiologic studies and testing means of modifying these factors in human clinical trials. The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Trial is one study following this strategy, but many more are needed. Given the high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, these promising avenues for research merit vigorous attention. A renewed focus on nutritional factors and on human, rather than animal, biology is needed.