A Special Type of Diet Can Reduce Symptoms of Dementia

Alzheimers Dementia Brain Disease Concept

Initial data indicates that the diet is safe for Alzheimer’s patients.

Short cycles of a low-calorie diet that mimics fasting appeared to lower inflammation and delay cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models.

Cycles of a diet that simulates fasting seem to lessen Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice genetically engineered to develop the disease, according to new research led by the University of Southern California (USC) Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

The study was recently published in the journal Cell Reports

The team, led by Professor Valter Longo and included Professors Christian Pike and Pinchas Cohen, discovered that mice that had undergone several cycles of the fasting-mimicking diet showed less Alzheimer’s pathology.  Lower levels of two important characteristics of the disease were discovered: amyloid beta, the principal driver of plaque accumulation in the brain, and hyperphosphorylated tau protein, which creates tangles in the brain. They also discovered that brain inflammation was reduced and mice performed better on cognitive tests when compared to mice given a regular diet.

The fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) is rich in unsaturated fats and low in total calories, protein, and carbs, and is intended to mimic the effects of a water-only fast while still delivering essential nutrients. Previous research led by Longo has shown that brief, periodic FMD cycles have a variety of beneficial effects in mice and humans, including the promotion of stem cell regeneration, the reduction of chemotherapy side effects, and the reduction of risk factors for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other age-related diseases.

Promising results in mouse models of Alzheimer’s

Alongside healthy mice, the team investigated two mouse models of Alzheimer’s, E4FAD and 3xTg. During the study, mice were fed the fasting-mimicking diet for 4 or 5 days twice per month and were allowed to eat normally between FMD cycles. In a long-term experiment to see the effects in aged mice, 3xTg mice were placed on the diet for 30 cycles in 15 months. Shorter-term experiments in both 3xTg and E4FAD mice ranged from a single FMD cycle to 12 cycles in 6 months.

In both models, mice who underwent FMD cycles showed promising reductions in amyloid beta – which form the sticky, disruptive plaques in the brain – and tau pathology compared to mice eating a standard diet. The FMD mice also showed lower levels of brain inflammation, including a reduction in the number of active microglia, the immune cells that seek and destroy pathogens, and damaged cells in the brain. In addition, mice on the diet demonstrated a lower level of oxidative stress, which plays a role in Alzheimer’s pathology by damaging neurons and contributing to the accumulation of amyloid in the brain. The study specifically pointed to the free radical “superoxide” as a central culprit in the damage occurring in these Alzheimer’s mouse models, Longo explained.

Outwardly, mice of both Alzheimer’s models who underwent the FMD showed less cognitive decline than their standard diet counterparts. Cognitive behavior, including exploration and performance within mazes, was tested in young mice before the dietary regimen began and again after several months of either a standard diet or twice-monthly FMD cycles. The Alzheimer’s mice given the FMD significantly outperformed the Alzheimer’s mice given standard diets and in some instances performed similarly to the non-Alzheimer’s-prone control mice, indicating that cognitive decline had been significantly slowed.

The FMD cycles appeared effective in reversing a range of pathology markers but also cognitive defects in two of the major mouse models for Alzheimer’s disease. Longo said that the results are promising.

A small clinical study explores the feasibility for humans

In addition to the study in mice, Longo and colleagues also included data from a small Phase 1 clinical trial of the fasting-mimicking diet in human patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease. Forty such patients who were otherwise healthy and had family support were randomized to either a once-monthly, 5-day fasting-mimicking diet or a 5-day period in which lunch or dinner was replaced with a meal based on pasta or rice.

Initial data indicates that the FMD is safe and feasible for patients with mild impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease. Further tests in the ongoing clinical trial will measure cognitive performance, inflammation, and more, Longo said.

Other early trials of the diet published by Longo and colleagues have indicated other benefits of a monthly cycle, such as a loss of fat mass without loss of muscle mass and improved cardiometabolic risk factors, especially in overweight or obese people.

Notably, in a recently published clinical trial in which Longo was a co-author, FMD cycles were associated with disease regression in diabetes patients. Diabetes nearly doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, per the Alzheimer’s Association.

Reference: “Fasting-mimicking diet cycles reduce neuroinflammation to attenuate cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s models” by Priya Rangan, Fleur Lobo, Edoardo Parrella, Nicolas Rochette, Marco Morselli, Terri-Leigh Stephen, Anna Laura Cremonini, Luca Tagliafico, Angelica Persia, Irene Caffa, Fiammetta Monacelli, Patrizio Odetti, Tommaso Bonfiglio, Alessio Nencioni, Martina Pigliautile, Virginia Boccardi, Patrizia Mecocci, Christian J. Pike, Pinchas Cohen, Mary Jo LaDu, Matteo Pellegrini, Kyle Xia, Katelynn Tran, Brandon Ann, Dolly Chowdhury and Valter D. Longo, 27 September 2022, Cell Reports.
DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111417

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Italian Ministry of Health.

Longo is the founder of and has an ownership interest in L-Nutra; the company’s food products are used in studies of the fasting-mimicking diet. Longo’s interest in L-Nutra was disclosed and managed per USC’s conflict-of-interest policies. USC has an ownership interest in L-Nutra and the potential to receive royalty payments from L-Nutra. USC’s financial interest in the company has been disclosed and managed under USC’s institutional conflict-of-interest policies.

7 Comments on "A Special Type of Diet Can Reduce Symptoms of Dementia"

  1. Charles G. Shaver | October 16, 2022 at 10:53 am | Reply

    All ‘meta-data’ and/or ‘mouse’ medical studies are inherently fatally flawed due to the failure of mainstream medicine to ever recognize/research long-term chronic subclinical psychosomatic non-IgE-mediated food/additive allergies (e.g., Dr. Arthur F. Coca, 1935/The Pulse Test, 1956; L. Ron Hubbard/Dianetics-Psychosomatic Illness, 1950 and/or Dr. Haber/GNM-5 Biological Laws-allergies, 2018) and/or US FDA approved food poisoning (‘experience’ based, not mere ‘incomplete-evidence’ based; e.g., soy processed with toxic hexane with some residue since the early 1970s; toxic added ‘cultured-free’ MSG, 1980; man-made antifreeze PG [propylene glycol], can cause days to months of crippling painful gout or pseudogout; cooking oil preservative TBHQ, can cause neurological events in some people and/or HFCS [High Fructose Corn Syrup], fructose can raise blood serum levels of uric acid, unregulated) in humans. Mostly undiagnosed long-term chronic mild inflammation can lead to more serious immune system reactions to an individual’s otherwise generally more tolerable conditions, medications and/or foreign substances. Fasting and intermittent fasting can help to prevent individual allergy reactions from becoming chronic diseases.

    • The meta the betta.

      • Charles G. Shaver | October 19, 2022 at 10:30 am | Reply

        Thanks for the comment, Lewis. I could agree but only if the ‘meta is of betta’ quality; complete and accurate, which it never is. No offense intended, is that (like myself, a 1970 experience based lay finding) a chronic subclinical allergy reaction related bald head you are sporting? If so, you may have an ambiguous, brief and very-very mild allergen or two to identify and address before you get much older. They can be insidious and subtle, long-term, and what one doesn’t know can hurt one.

        • “no offense intended” proceeds to post incredibly condescending comment about someone else’s appearance and pretends it’s grounded in science, with the only evidence being a small profile thumbnail.

          Have you considered therapy?

          • Charles G. Shaver | October 22, 2022 at 11:56 am |

            George, please excuse me for being so brutally honest while trying to help extend another person’s life. Did you notice I mentioned my own ‘bald head’ and ‘medical experience’ in 1970. The three most obvious common symptoms of my kind of medically ignored allergies aggravated (or not) with FDA approved food poisoning are: obesity, so-called “male-pattern-baldness” and eyeglasses for myopia. Mainstream medicine is so “dark-ages.” Not only have I tried therapy but I’ve devised my own, based in part on more involved dianetic auditing; DYADANALYSIS (c) 1981, regrettably, with no takers accepting my victim-of-externally-imposed-chronic-illness offers since.

  2. L Ron Hubbard nut bag LOL hilarious science ain’t your strong suit buddy it’s fantasy.

    • Charles G. Shaver | October 22, 2022 at 11:34 am | Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Not a nut bag. As I learned by taking a ‘Communication’ course at the so-called “Church of Scientology” long ago, his big mistake was failing to realize you don’t make yourself stronger by weakening others you make yourself weaker. I used what they taught me to avoid joining the so-called “Church.” Furthermore, he’s not the only source of that information. Perhaps you should expand your reading list to included at least chapter five of Dianetics.

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