New research may pave the way for very simple strategies to lower Alzheimer's risk. Researchers have been conducting studies to find diets that match the age-extending benefits of calorie restriction in animals. What's making the biggest waves now might surprise you.
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Protein restriction is coming to the forefront. In one rodent study, USC researcher Prof. Valter Longo's team found that alternating weeks of protein restriction in mice reduced levels of IGF-1 by 30-70%. It also caused an eight-fold increase in a protein that blocks IGF-1's effects by attaching to it.
IGF-1 is important in youth, but higher levels of this insulin-like growth factor may be troubling later in life.
The researchers gave mice with advanced Alzheimer's disease protein restriction every other week. They also supplemented with non-essential amino acids. After four months of this diet, the mice had significantly better cognitive function.
This is one diet to watch. There are published reports that restriction of essential amino acids, like methionine, can retard the progression of cancer. It may be possible to design a diet in which you don't have to suffer from calorie restriction for certain benefits, but alternate protein restriction.
There's no evidence that the same type of diet will work for humans. But expect it will. All animals are programmed to go through periods of calorie or protein deprivation depending on season and food availability. In today's world, we are getting plenty of calories and protein every day. It makes me wonder if we have defeated Nature's design in our modern world.
There is some risk in this diet, as not everyone can go this long without protein. This is especially true for those who are frail, have lost weight, or aren't healthy enough to go on the diet. So if you consider this diet, please make sure you do it with adequate medical supervision from a doctor who is well skilled in diet and nutrition! They need to make sure you do not become amino acid deficient, lose additional weight, or develop other side effects.
With that said, if your doctor agrees to follow you on this diet, and you decide to try it, please let me know how it works.
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