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Drinking to the health of Alzheimer’s patients

A nutritional drink can help slow memory loss, cognitive decline and other effects of Alzheimer’s disease, according to an EU-funded study.

Health

A 3-year clinical trial investigating the effects of a nutritional drink in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease has yielded promising results. Supported by the EU-funded LIPIDIDIET and Brain Health Toolbox projects, the study has shown that the multinutrient formulation slows brain health decline when taken daily over an extended period of time. The drink in question is a medical food marketed as Souvenaid. The product contains a specific formulation of nutrients, registered as Fortasyn Connect, which has been developed to combat the nutritional deficiencies believed to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and its rate of progression. The multinutrient formulation comprises docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, uridine-5'-monophosphate, choline, phospholipids, selenium and folic acid, as well as vitamins B12, B6, C and E.

Trial method and findings

In the randomised clinical trial, 311 people with early-stage, or prodromal, Alzheimer’s disease received either the nutritional drink or a placebo control drink that tasted the same and had the same number of calories. Over a period of 3 years, participants in the trial consumed 125 mL of the multinutrient or control drink once a day. The nutritional drink was proven to significantly reduce decline in cognition, memory, brain atrophy and disease progression. “The 36-month data clearly shows it’s possible to have a significant impact on the early stage of the disease. Importantly, we found the effect to be long-lasting and to improve the longer that participants stayed in the trial,” said Prof. Tobias Hartmann of LIPIDIDIET project coordinator Saarland University in a news item posted on the ‘Alzheimer’s Disease International’ website. Preliminary results of the trial had already suggested that nutrition-based intervention would have a positive effect on the disease’s progression. “But it is only now, after three years of treatment, that we are seeing how extensive the significant differences between trial participants who received the active nutrient drink and those in the control group really are,” Prof. Hartmann explained in a news release posted on the ‘EurekAlert!’ website. “We found that there was 20 percent less brain shrinkage in patients with Alzheimer’s disease who received the nutrient cocktail than in those in the control group, which represents a significant slowing in the rate of brain atrophy,” Prof. Hartmann stated in the same news release. “More importantly, we have demonstrated that over the three years of treatment, patients who were given the multinutrient drink suffered between 40 and 70 percent less cognitive impairment than those who received the placebo,” he went on to say. The researchers also discovered that the nutritional drink’s positive effects were greater in patients who had begun taking it at the earliest prodromal stage of Alzheimer’s. “We were particularly surprised to discover that these positive effects increased the longer treatment continued and that this finding was observed not only with respect to memory, but also with other cognitive abilities,” remarked Prof. Hartmann in the ‘EurekAlert!’ news release. The results of the LIPIDIDIET (THERAPEUTIC AND PREVENTIVE IMPACT OF NUTRITIONAL LIPIDS ON NEURONAL AND COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE IN AGING, ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND VASCULAR DEMENTIA) and Brain Health Toolbox (The Brain Health Toolbox: Facilitating personalized decision-making for effective dementia prevention) study have been published in the journal ‘Alzheimer’s & Dementia’. Given the absence of a cure for early-stage Alzheimer’s, these findings are a ray of hope for patients in their struggle to maintain independence as the disease progresses. For more information, please see: LIPIDIDIET project website Brain Health Toolbox project

Keywords

LIPIDIDIET, Brain Health Toolbox, Alzheimer’s, nutritional drink, brain

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