New Study Finds ‘Intensive Lifestyle Changes’ Could Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 10, 2024

A new study reveals that intensive lifestyle changes can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, the research highlights the positive impact of diet and exercise on early-stage Alzheimer’s patients. This study provides new hope for managing the disease through non-pharmaceutical means.

Study Details and Participants

The study enrolled 51 patients aged 45 to 90, all diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Conducted between September 2018 and June 2022, the research divided participants into two groups: one adopting intensive lifestyle changes and the other maintaining their usual habits.

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The differences in outcomes were significant.

Intensive Lifestyle Changes

Patients in the intensive group made significant lifestyle modifications. These included a vegan diet rich in complex carbohydrates and low in processed sugars and harmful fats.

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Calorie intake was not restricted, allowing patients to eat as much as needed from the prescribed foods.

Diet Specifics

The vegan diet emphasized whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

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This approach aimed to provide essential nutrients while avoiding processed and unhealthy options. The focus was on quality and nutrient-dense foods to support overall health and brain function.

Exercise Routine

In addition to dietary changes, the intensive group engaged in moderate exercise.

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Participants walked or did strength exercises for 30 minutes, three times a week. Regular physical activity is known to benefit cognitive function and overall well-being.

Stress Management Techniques

Stress management was another crucial component. Patients practiced yoga, breathing exercises, and stretching regularly.

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These activities aimed to reduce stress, which can negatively impact cognitive health and exacerbate Alzheimer’s symptoms.


Study Findings

The results were promising. Patients who followed the intensive lifestyle regimen saw their dementia symptoms stabilize.

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In contrast, those who did not alter their habits experienced a continued decline in thinking and memory. This highlights the potential of lifestyle changes in managing Alzheimer’s.


Expert Insights

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“Clearly, intensive lifestyle changes rather than moderate ones seem to be required to improve cognition and function in those suffering from early-stage AD,” they stated, conveying the need for significant lifestyle modifications for noticeable benefits.


Alzheimer’s in America

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, around 6.9 million Americans aged 65 or older have dementia related to Alzheimer’s.

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This staggering number highlights the urgent need for effective management strategies and potential treatments.


Current Treatments

Currently, only two drugs, Leqembi and Aduhelm, have received FDA approval for Alzheimer’s treatment.

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Despite substantial investments in research and drug development, effective pharmaceutical options remain limited, making lifestyle interventions even more critical.


Broader Implications

This study’s findings suggest that non-pharmaceutical interventions can play a significant role in managing Alzheimer’s disease.

An elderly lady looking into a small mirror.

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Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can provide a practical and accessible approach for many patients and their families.


Future Research

The study opens new avenues for Alzheimer’s management. While more research is needed to confirm and expand on these findings, the potential for lifestyle changes to slow disease progression is promising.

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Patients and caregivers can consider these strategies as part of a comprehensive approach to Alzheimer’s care.