Alzheimer's onset may be slowed by protein-restricted diet19 February 2013
A protein-restricted diet may slow the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
That’s the conclusion of a study undertaken on mice by researchers at the University of Southern California. The mice, which were at the advanced stages of the disease, were given a diet restricted in protein, supplemented with amino acids every two weeks over a period of four months. Those mice which were fed the diet showed superior cognitive skills – using a maze – compared to the control group.
The study – published in Aging Cell – the mice fed with the restricted protein diet – also found fewer of the mice’s neurons contained abnormal levels of damaged tau protein, which is known to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Dietary protein is the major dietary regulator of a growth hormone known as IGF-1, which has been associated with aging and diseases in mice and several diseases in older adults.
Upcoming studies by USC Professor Valter Longo, who led the study, will attempt to determine whether humans respond similarly – while simultaneously examining the effects of dietary restrictions on cancer, diabetes and cardiac disease.
“We had previously shown that humans deficient in Growth Hormone receptor and IGF-I displayed reduced incidence of cancer and diabetes,” said Longo. “Although the new study is in mice, it raises the possibility that low protein intake and low IGF-I may also protect from age-dependent neurodegeneration.”