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I Alzheimer's preventable through diet?

A very interesting article from Mark Bittman is in today's NY Times.

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  1. Why is that I only find research from Suzanne M. de la Monte on this idea that Alzheimer's is tied to some sort of insulin resistance in the brain?

    1. Bittman presents so much misinformation about basic concepts surrounding DI and D2 that it's staggering. Zero ethos.

      But hey, the NYT keeps publishing stuff like that. Who am I?

      1. Does Bittman even reply at all to the preponderance of critical (and convincingly critical) comments? It looks like he's over his head, again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bob96

          To be fair, a great deal of those comments appeal to medical claims that are even more demonstrably false than those Bittman has made.

          Bittman's argument linking Alzheimer's to damage from chronically high blood sugar or insulin resistance in brain tissues is interesting, plausible even, but undersupported at this time. His medical language is disconcertingly imprecise (example- his claim that people are 'born with' DM1, which is technically not true but he probably just meant to distinguish it from DM2 where lifestyle plays an important role), and that has done no favors to his shaky credibility on such issues.

        2. Total nonsense!!!!! ~~ Consider the source!

          1. Of course it is.

            Eat enough greasy fatty foods and you'll die early enough before Alzheimer's even sets in.

            1. I doubt it very much.
              It is probably mostly a hereditary thing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: The Professor

                total crock - mom has alzheimer's and probably only at at fast food 4 time per year on our yearly vacation when that was all dad would stop for on our drives. She cooked mostly healthy food for all my growing up - that "diet" can prevent alzheimers is insulting

                1. re: winepoet

                  I'm sorry to hear about your mom. It's a devastating disease. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to certain diseases and that can't be prevented but that doesn't mean some actions don't increase your risk of it. I know people who've never smoked who have/had lung cancer but smoking does increase your risk. It's not insulting to people who have lung cancer and haven't smoked that there is a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. Having gone through it in the family, if there were a way for some people to try to reduce the number of people diagnosed, wouldn't you want it to be researched in case others could prevent it? It won't eliminate it as in all cases but it could reduce the number.

              2. No, it is not preventable through diet. Mark Bittman is not an M.D., and this is more of an annoying pattern of him awkwardly dabbling in non-cooking topics without qualification or accuracy.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mrfood16

                  It is not likely preventable through diet alone - but diet is part of the equation. There are many studies out there that turmeric root/extract helps. It is believed that turmeric contains a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid. It is theorized that is why Alzheimer's is much less prevalent here in the east. I know I get a fair amount of turmeric in my Thai curry paste, which is part of the mix and also suppose to help protect your stomach.

                  Note: Not all curry pastes contain turmeric, but: Chuu Che Curry Paste, Sour Curry Paste, and Jungle Curry Paste (don't think normal red or green contain it). Red Curry paste made for Fish curry as well.

                  There is some soups that contains tumeric as well:
                  - Plah Tom Khing, Kamin, Kha (Sour Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, Galangal)
                  - Tom Kati Teapor (Coconut Soup with Turmeric).

                      1. re: cacruden

                        I can only think that your post made poser hungry. It made ME hungry!

                2. Dr. de la Monte's research is intriguing. Interesting to read the overwhelmingly negative responses to Bittman's article. Those responses and the replies here to the OP remind me of the furor (and the fury) directed to the late Dr. Robert Atkins as he relentlessly promoted the Atkins Diet as a solution to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, etc. Now research is showing that it may also prevent Alzheimers.

                  Why is it so difficult to accept that the system that is our our body is ineluctably altered by the food we eat, and that certain foods or food groups have been demonstrably harmful to our system?

                  Reads to me like just one more nail in the coffin for a carb-rich diet, it is hoped eventually there will be consensus that the diet promoted by the USDA is the biggest experiment on our health ever, one we didn't consent to, and it is killing us. The possible link between that diet and Alzheimers is not surprising, what is surprising is the negative reaction to this research.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: janniecooks

                    What has been the professional reaction? For other researchers like Dr de la Monte?

                    I suspect there is a big gap between what the researchers are willing to say in journal articles about the relationship between Alzheimers and some form of insulin resistance in the brain, and what popularizers like Bittman are saying. Are the researchers saying anything about diet and prevention?

                    1. re: paulj

                      Since I'm not a professional, it is not possible for me to gauge the professional reaction. But by entering "link between alzheimer's and diet" on a google search, one can see there are lots of articles and studies going back a number of years supporting the hypothesis that there is a correlation between Alzheimers and diet, and that following a healthy diet may be a factor in preventing or delaying the onset of the disease. Giving another label to the disease, e.g. diabetes type 3, may be just a way to draw people's attention to the research.

                      It does appear that other researchers are and have been suggesting that the evidence is strong for a link between diet and alzheimers, and following a healthy diet may delay the onset or impact of Alzheimers. But I suspect that for every "expert" who presents research in support of one hypothesis or another, there are counter-arguments or counter-research to be found.

                      A big take-away for me from reading Bittman's reporting on the research (and that is all he is doing, not promulgating an opinion of his own) is that getting Alzheimer's is not merely a matter of chance but may be impacted by the foods we eat.

                      Can the researchers prove diet prevents the disease? Not likely, how would such research be conducted? Can a strong correlation be supported? Yes. Is the science indisputable? Probably not, for a scientist, but at least there is more supportable research here than was invested in the low-fat diet favored by the heart association and the usda.

                  2. This article by Bittman actually does a disservice. Who knows, maybe diet is involved, but Alzheimers is much more complex in its origins than simplifying it to diet, or not reading enough, or whatever. If you look at the people suffering from this disease, it is very difficult to come up with commonalities that fit all, or most, of them. The one thing the victims have in common is that they are a) human and b) over the age of 29--the age of the youngest known Alzheimer's sufferer.

                    1. The folks at the Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org) say here http://www.alz.org/research/science/a...

                      that heart health (read: blood circulation to the brain = logical) and lifestyle can help lessen the impact and/or prolong the onset....

                      ...but that it cannot be prevented...see especially the mention of a link between head injury and Alzheimer's (which I didn't know).

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        So true. It cannot be prevent. Its symptoms or onset can (probably) be delayed or ammeliorated--through lifestyle and some drugs. That's about it at this point. For example, they've shown that being bilingual lowers the chances of developing Alzheimer's, but that's all. Bilingual people, if they develop it, tend to get the onset of symptoms later. So, is there a guarantee to avoiding Alzheimer's: Be bilingual, do lots of exercise and crossword puzzles, don't box, and don't eat sugary snacks. No.

                        1. re: Wawsanham

                          I think you guys are making a kind of semi-arbitrary semantic distinction by claiming that it cannot be prevented. It is true that some studies in at-risk populations have tended to show more of a delay of onset than outright prevention associated with various lifestyle factors. But any lowering of the incidence of Alzheimer's in a population can reasonably considered 'prevention.' Researchers seem to think this is promising, hence the large number of recent studies correlating Alzheimer's with lifestyle factors. No one has mentioned it yet (that I see) but there are also quite a few recent studies on the Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer's, and like recent studies on physical activity, some of these have been promising.

                          The main issue - a lot of this research is still in it's infancy and making any real definitive claims about exactly how lifestyle impacts Alzheimer's strikes me as premature. The exact mechanism of the disease is not really known at this point. The upside of a healthy diet and physical activity - it's good for you anyway.

                          Also, just because it's interesting - I can tell you offhand that it has long been known that high-level competitive chess players have very low incidence of Alzheimer's. That's not necessarily a recommendation though - for one, not everyone could learn to play chess at a very high level; for another the incidence of various psychological and mental health disorders is fairly high among chess players. And at any rate, causality has not been established.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            "Prevented" means that something is precluded from happening at all -- not pushed back, not minimized -- stopped.

                            I would guess that the Alzheimer's Association would go all-out in touting any possible way to **prevent** the disease....but they don't...and fact say that at this point, there is no way to **prevent** (or cure) Alzheimer's.

                            Delaying the onset and/or minimizing the impact is absolutely good, too -- nothing wrong with buying as much time as possible -- but at this point, there is no avoiding the onset eventually, unless you are struck down by something else before full onset (which isn't much in the way of prevention....)

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Preventing and curing Alzheimer's are two very different things. It seems to me you are conflating the two somewhat. And you're kind of putting words in the Alzheimer's Association's mouth - they seem very interested in prevention via lifestyle factors, but seem unwilling to point to any one magic bullet or factor that guarantees one's chances of getting or not getting the disease (rightly so at this time, IMO).

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                we crisscrossed -- see my edit above.