Can Diet Accelerate the Development of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Mar 29, 2018

Earnest Chandler
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 4 min.

The Western diet or the standard American diet has been recognized as one of the most common food diets in the world. An increasing number of studies have shown that it could be connected to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Western diet is generally characterized by increased levels of refined and processed foods, with elevated content of simple sugars such as sucrose and fructose, sodium, saturated fat, and red meat-derived protein, and with decreased levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein from plants and fiber.

This type of diet has been identified as a leading factor in the development of metabolic and obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Four features of this diet are suggestive of increased risk for various diseases. These features are increased fat and phosphate content and decreased calcium and vitamin D levels. One well-publicized study demonstrated that the human Western diet induces tumors in the colon of normal mice.

More studies have shown that elevated mortality from diseases such as breast cancer is linked to the Western diet. This type of food intake also increases plasma levels of sex hormones while decreasing sex hormone-binding proteins and the formation of mammalian lignans and isoflavonic phytoestrogens. This, in turn, affects hormone production and degradation by decreasing the excretion of these compounds in feces and minimizing the intestinal metabolism and regulation of the enterohepatic circulation.

Another study also showed that increased acid levels in Western diet causes increased bone resorption and bone calcium loss resulting to osteoporosis and calcium nephrolithiasis.

Along with a sedentary lifestyle, obesity is characterized by chronic accumulation of excessive fat in the adipose tissue. It is widespread in both developing and developed countries and has become a leading public health concern followed by under-nutrition and infectious disease. The cardiovascular and metabolic effects of obesity have been understood for a long time; recently, however, increasing number of studies have shown that Western diet and its health implications such as obesity are also connected to the increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Western diet & Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease brought about by deposition of beta-amyloid protein and neurofibrillary tangles. Characterized by declining cognitive processes such as lapses in memory and reasoning, it is the most common form of dementia and often occurs concomitantly with increasing age.

The Western diet significantly affects cognitive functions, particularly the hippocampal area, which involves areas of learning and memory functions, attributed to increased intake of simple carbohydrates and saturated fats present in Western diet. Another study has also shown that Western-style diet affects hippocampal size by decreasing its volume. This diet is also associated with disrupting blood-brain barrier integrity. Excessive food intake, strongly related to obesity, interferes with hippocampal-dependent memory inhibition which is responsible for controlling animal responses to environmental signals that imitate food, eventually driving a vicious cycle of excessive calorie intake.

Associations between Western diet consumption and Alzheimer’s disease have been established by some recent studies. One particular study which utilized a “Western diet” preparation (foodstuffs with increased amounts of animal products, fats, and low-nutrient density sugars to be consumed by mice) found out that long periods of consumption of this diet increase microglial activity in both non-Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s brain models. This strongly suggests increased susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease in the presence of chronic inflammatory conditions. Due to this increased immune response in the brain, TREM2, a regulatory protein present during increased microglial activity, is also elevated. TREM2 is significantly associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other age-linked neurodegenerative conditions. The study also showed that increased levels of beta-amyloid plaques correlates with elevated TREM2 level in mice brain.

As mentioned previously, obesity is a major risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, which is generally characterized by increased resistance of insulin receptors to insulin. A study has shown that insulin resistance is implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin reaches the blood-brain barrier from the peripheral system and competes with beta-amyloid for the brain’s insulin degrading enzyme. This eventually causes the increased levels of beta-amyloid protein.

Another study has shown that young individuals who possess the apo-E4 allele have a seven-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if exposed to high-fat diet, such as a Western-style diet, in comparison to individuals who consume the same diet but don’t have this allele. The Apo-E protein is a transport protein responsible for the mobility of cholesterol in the body and one of its forms, apo-E4, is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

A number of studies have shown that the risk of age-related cognitive decline can be reduced by consumption of foods containing polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and fish meat. There is increasing evidence that unsaturated fatty acids have a neuroprotective effect, although no specific molecular mechanism is yet clearly identified. Nevertheless, unsaturated fatty acids help to maintain the integrity of neuronal membranes and regulate neuronal transmission. Increased consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is shown to increase cognitive ability in Alzheimer’s disease model rats, at the same time inhibiting cognitive decline.

Recent scientific data clearly indicate that wrong diet can accelerate the cognitive decline and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, increased consumption of protein-derived plant protein, vegetable oils and fat from fish meat helps to decrease the risk of developing both early- and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease in non-genetically susceptible individuals. These new findings definitely need to be taken into account when considering the care for individuals at higher risk of neurodegenerative conditions.

by Viatcheslav Wlassoff For Brain Blogger

Leave your comments / questions for this practitioner

To write a comment please
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter

All categories

Nutritional Therapy
$10 USD
coaching session
Nutrition for your Neurodivergent Brain

If you have ADHD or other brain differences you know how challenging it can be to live up to your potential. I can help you gently re-nourish your brain while helping you connect to your intuitive eating wisdom (yes, you do have it!). As a Registered Dieitian with a Master's in Ed Psych and over 30 years of experience with neurodiverse individuals, I can help you reduce anxiety, hyperactivity, fatigue, brain fog, sleep problems and other difficulties.

Sign up for a discovery session to see how individualized nutrition can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life!

*Note: Young people between the ages of 13 and 18 must bring a parent or parents.

Laura May
Mindful Eating
$88 USD
coaching session
Intuitive Eating session

This is a service for highly sensitive people and empaths who are looking to reconnect with their intuition and inner wisdom so that they reach their ideal body weight and feel confident in their skin without dieting or intense exercising.
This is a 1-hour session.

If you are not sure whether this is a good fit for you, I offer a 45 min discovery call which you can use to ask me questions and test our chemistry. If interested, please book your discovery call from my services.


Maria Nikolakakou
Nutritional Therapy
$10 USD
Discovery Call

Whether you’re looking for feeling in control of your life and food habits, making peace with your body and falling in love with it, dropping stress burden, develop toned body, drop some weight or eating healthy everyday, learning to plan and prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family, I’m here to help you every step of the way.
Each of my coaching sessions are designed for you reaching your goals and living your happiest and healthiest life possible.

Book a discovery call and see if this is the right fit for you.

Nutritional Therapy
$150 USD
Nutritional Therapy Consultation

Hi my name is Aria and I am the founder of Heal with Nutrition. I am a registered Nutritional Therapist and a Naturopath who has a passion on Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle, combining alternative medicine with food.

The key to my success is the holistic approach I offer. My focus is to investigate and address the root cause of imbalances in the body. I can help you understand the importance of nutrition and how it can positively or negatively influence your quality of life. I can support you through your nutritional journey to achieve your goals; these can be weight loss or gain, improved overall health or helping address a pre-existing condition. I can also teach you how to use natural, home remedies to help prevent and treat seasonal illnesses and ailments.

As a mother of 3 feeding my children healthy and nurturing food was my number one priority. Over the years, I have become creative with different food options to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. I can educate you on how to feed your whole family and keep them as healthy as possible.

I love inspiring people and helping them find the right food for them, a regime that will support their individual state of balance and happiness.

Aria Alexandrou

Related Articles

View All
Registered individuals enjoy all the possibilities of Core Spirit.