Micronutrient and macronutrient dietary intervention and the progression of Alzheimer's disease
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Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative brain disease worldwide. It primarily affects older adults and is characteristically marked by memory loss correlated with loss of functional brain tissue. As the human lifespan increases and without effective treatment, the number of people at-risk for AD will rise dramatically in the near future. Identifiable genotypic risk factors or causes are only present in a small number of AD patients, and thus environmental factors potentially exacerbating the disease should be examined. Here I reviewed the results of clinical trials examining the role of nutritional components in AD with the following conclusions. First, there are still not enough trials on nutrients affecting onset and progression of AD. Reasons include ethical difficulties of randomized studies controlling for nutrients that are important for overall human health. Thus, conclusions about cognitive benefits of such nutrients remain unknown. Second, the dosages, treatment lengths, and disease time points investigated are varied between studies, with varying results as well. However, studies that examined the role of dietary intervention in early-stage patients report more significant benefits. Third, the interaction of multiple facets of nutrition and general lifestyle factors may act in synergy to affect disease onset and progression. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this review reiterates that neuronal loss, i.e. advanced AD, currently cannot be cured. Instead, the prevention and slow-down of the disease should be approached from as many angles as possible, including nutrition, exercise and social activities, as these factors influence human life every day over many years, affecting the health of the entire body, including the brain.