Diet and exercise can reduce protein buildup linked to Alzheimer's, new UCLA study shows

UCLA Health article

A study by researchers at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior recently found that a healthy diet, regular physical activity and a normal body mass index can reduce the incidence of protein buildup associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, led by Dr. David Merrill, a UCLA geriatric psychiatrist, found that each of several lifestyle factors — a healthy body mass index, physical activity and a Mediterranean diet — was linked to lower levels of plaque and tangles on brain scans.

The Mediterranean diet is described as one rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, low in meat and dairy and characterized by a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats.

Healthy lifestyle factors also have been shown to be related to reduced shrinking of the brain and lower rates of atrophy in people with Alzheimer’s.

“While earlier studies have linked a healthy lifestyle to delays in the onset of Alzheimer’s, this is the first study to demonstrate how lifestyle factors directly influence abnormal protein levels in people with subtle memory loss who have not yet been diagnosed with dementia,” said Dr. Merrill.