Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in America and as the population continues to age, cases of Alzheimer’s disease will continue to rise. Currently, every 66 seconds a person develops Alzheimer’s disease and by 2050, there could be up to 16 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. These numbers reveal the impact that Alzheimer’s disease has on the nation and the potential it has to strip a generation of its memory.
There are still many unknowns when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. For example, it still isn’t completely understood why some people develop the brain disease while others do not. Furthermore, there isn’t a cure for it, nor is there a way to completely prevent it.
A recent study looked at diet and the role it may play in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The newest research suggests that consuming a diet high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among those who are genetically prone to develop it.
Diet high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar linked with Alzheimer’s disease risk
It is known that those with a variant of a gene that codes for the protein apolipoprotein E are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Those living with the ApoE4 variant are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but not all carriers of the variant will develop it. Those with the much more common ApoE3 variant do not have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers conducted their study on mice that had the genetic variants and were fed a high fat, cholesterol, and sugar diet over the course of 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks, those mice with the ApoE4 variant showed increased deposits of beta-amyloid protein plaque, which is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. These mice also had a greater number of glial cells, which are brain cells used for immunity response.
The lead author of the study, Christian Pike, explained, “Part of what the results are saying is that risk doesn’t affect everybody the same, and that’s true for most risk factors. Your genes have a big role in what happens to you, but so do your environment and your modifiable lifestyle factors. How much you exercise becomes important and what you eat becomes important.”
Both groups of mice gained weight and developed pre-diabetes on the unhealthy diet, but in those mice with the ApoE4 variant, plaque development was also seen.
The study reaffirms the importance of eating healthily, especially if you are predisposed to develop certain diseases.