Income, Diet, Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease begins decades before first symptoms appear. There is no cure for this devastating neurodegenerative disease. In such situation modification of modifiable risk factors many years before disease begins is only rational strategy for reducing the impact of this disease on society. The question appears what can be modified? It is clear now that in order to slow down the course of the disease three types of activity: mental, physical and social along with healthy diet are necessary. How early should we start prophylaxis? In our paper entitled “Correlation of Alzheimer’s disease death rates with historical per capita personal income in the USA” authored by Stępkowski D., Woźniak G., Studnicki M. PLOS One 2015 (on the blog) we found that early periods of life are the most important for the susceptibility to this disease in late age. The susceptibility depends on per capita income, a rough measure of healthiness of a life style. We found that people in higher income groups are less sensitive to this disease. It can be explained by better life style including diet. It means that these social groups are more likely to adapt all the mentioned activities and they also most probably have higher educational attainment and therefore build so called “cognitive reserve” not mention healthier diet. Cognitive reserve is our capital for late age. In our second paper by Studnicki M., Woźniak G., Stępkowski D. entitled “The Calculator of Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet. Macronutrients” PLOS One 2016 (also on the blog) we calculated the macronutrient content of a diet which would be a prophylactic solution for Alzheimer’s. This predicted diet is specific for a period of life and different for youth, early midlife, late midlife and late age. Specifically we predict for late age higher total fat intake, less protein and carbohydrates intake than the American population have eaten. For exact values I refer the reader to the original paper. One can ask what can be the effect of shifting the consumption to these predicted diets. It has been calculated that modifiable risk factors account for about one third of Alzheimer’s Disease cases. So we can expect that effect of diet will be contained in these 33%. With 5 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the USA reducing new cases by one third would have very important positive impact on the society.

Dariusz Stępkowski

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