Low-Carb Diet May Improve Memory in People with Cognitive Problems, Small Study Suggests

Low-Carb Diet May Improve Memory in People with Cognitive Problems, Small Study Suggests
A diet low in carbohydrates may have cognitive benefits for older adults with mild cognitive impairment, a small study suggests. "Preliminary Report on the Feasibility and Efficacy of the Modified Atkins Diet for Treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer’s Disease" was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The brain needs a lot of fuel to run, and mostly, it runs on the sugar molecule called glucose. However, the brain in people with Alzheimer's disease can't use glucose as efficiently — but it can use ketones, which are molecules formed when dietary fat breaks down. When a person is on a ketogenic diet — lots of fat and very few sugars and starches, with the Atkins diet being the most well-known example — the brain tends to use ketones as a source of energy instead of glucose. That's the rationale for testing this kind of diet in people with mild cognitive impairment, which can be an early indication of developing Alzheimer's. In the study, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers hoped to compare a modified Atkins diet, in which carb intake is restricted to 20 grams or less each day, to a National Institute of Aging control diet, which is similar to a Mediterranean diet. That's a diet with no specific restrictions on carbs, but lots of fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. In two and a half years of recruitment efforts, the researchers enrolled 27 people. So far, 14 have complete
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