Alzheimer’s Disease

MIND Diet Repeatedly Ranked Among Best

Food.Diet.ListA diet created, studied and reported on by researchers at Rush University Medical Center has been ranked the easiest diet to follow and the second best overall diet (tying in both categories) for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report. The MIND diet also tied for third for best diet for healthy eating and was ranked in the top five in five categories.

Now in its sixth year, the annual “Best Diets” list provides the facts about 35 chosen eating plans and ranks them on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help with weight loss. To create the annual rankings, U.S. News editors and reporters spend months winnowing potential additions to the diet roster and then mine medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles. Each profile explains how the diet works, whether or not its claims are substantiated, scrutinizes it for possible health risks and examines what it’s like to live on the diet, not just read about it.

Eating away at Alzheimer’s risk

The MIND diet is a research-based diet developed by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist, and her colleagues. In recent studies, the MIND diet showed that it helped lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for Alzheimers,” Morris says. The researchers also have found that adhering to the diet may slow cognitive decline among aging adults, even when the person is not at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

The name of the MIND diet is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.

A wine and no cheese party

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups – red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. In addition, the study found that to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of cognitive decline, he or she must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).

Berries are the only fruit specifically to be included in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris says, and strawberries also have performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

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Source: ScienceDaily January 5, 2016.

Swedish Diagnostic Method for Alzheimer’s Becomes International Standard

Body.Disease.Alzheimer1Researchers at Gothenburg University have developed a reference method for standardized measurements that diagnose Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms appear. The method has now formally been classified as the international reference method, which means that it will be used as the standard in Alzheimer’s diagnostics worldwide.

Everyone naturally builds the beta amyloid protein in his or her brain. The protein’s normal function is not completely mapped, but one theory is that it participates in the formation and removal of synapses, which is vital in enabling the brain to form new memories.

Remain in the brain

Beta amyloid built by healthy people is quickly transported out to the spinal fluid and blood. But with Alzheimer’s, the beta amyloids remain in the brain, where they clump together and begin to damage the synapses, which leads to brain, nerve cell death.

This process can begin in middle age and continue unnoticed for decades until the nerve cells are so damaged that symptoms take the form of a memory disorder and impaired cognitive abilities. At that point, the disease is felt to be too advanced to be treated, so intensive worldwide research is underway to find methods that diagnose Alzheimer’s sooner.

Exact measure

After decades of research, Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, were able to develop a method that measures the exact amount of beta amyloid in spinal fluid and diagnose Alzheimer’s ten to thirty years before the disease becomes symptomatic.

“If the concentration of beta amyloid in the spinal fluid is abnormally low, it indicates that the protein is sticking in the brain, which is the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

Global reference

The Gothenburg researchers’ pioneering studies have gained wide international recognition since the measurement method they developed was approved as the global reference method.

“This means that the method will be used as the norm for standardizing beta amyloid measurements around the world. With the help of the standard, people who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease can be tested, and get the same results regardless of whether it is done in San Francisco, Sao Paolo, London, Gothenburg or Cape town,” says Kaj Blennow.

“We put a lot of effort into this project and it has been initiated and conducted, and now completed by us at Gothenburg within the framework of a global cooperation project that we head,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

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Source:¬†University of Gothenburg. “Swedish diagnostic method for Alzheimer’s becomes international standard.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2015.