Individuals with early stage cognitive decline may be able to reverse their brain impairment by replacing unhealthy foods with a nutrient-rich diet, according to a new Temple University study.
For the study, a research team led by Domenico Pratico fed a group of lab mice a diet containing high levels of methionine, an amino acid common to protein-rich foods such as red meats, eggs and beans. In previous studies, methionine consumption has been linked to the accumulation of amyloid plaques, which often predispose Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
After three months of eating the amino-heavy diet the subjects had already begun to develop mild cognitive impairment. However, when the investigators switched them to a healthy, nutrient-rich diet for a period of two months, the cognitive impairment that had developed during the first part of the study had been completely reversed.
"We believe this finding shows that, even if you suffer from the early effects of moderate cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s, switching to a healthier diet that is lower in methionine could be helpful in that memory capacity could be improved," said Pratico.
He also noted that daily exercise combined with a healthy diet can help MCI patients slow the progression of their condition.