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Could a Low-Carb Diet Slow Alzheimer's?

In mouse study, fewer carbs meant fewer brain-robbing plaques

FRIDAY, June 23, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A low-calorie diet, particularly one that's low in carbohydrates, may reduce or even reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a new study in mice suggests.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City report that restricting carbs may help prevent Alzheimer's by boosting brain activity associated with increased longevity.

"Both clinical and epidemiological evidence suggests that modification of lifestyle factors such as nutrition may prove crucial to Alzheimer's disease management," study author Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, director of the Neuroinflammation Research Center at Mount Sinai, said in a prepared statement.

"This research, however, is the first to show a connection between Alzheimer's disease neuropathy by defining mechanistic pathways in the brain and scrutinizing biochemical functions," he said. "We hope these findings further unlock the mystery of Alzheimer's and bring hope to the millions of Americans suffering from this disease."

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the buildup of plaque in the brain, caused by increased amounts of beta-amyloid peptides. These peptides stimulate a protein, called SIRT1, which affects aging.

In their study, the New York team studied mice fed a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet to see how it impacted the presence of beta-amyloid peptides in the brain.

The results, which appear in the July issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, showed that the restricted diet did, in fact, reduce peptides in the brain, while a diet high in saturated fat appeared to cause higher concentrations of peptides.

More information

The Alzheimer's Association has more information on Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCES: Mount Sinai College of Medicine, news release, June 16, 2006
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