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Diet to delay dementia

Alzheimer's disease (AD) affects between 50 and 70 % of all dementia sufferers. One European research project has made headway in determining how specific nutritional intervention can impact AD.


The EU-funded LIPIDIDIET (Therapeutic and preventive impact of nutritional lipids on neuronal and cognitive performance in aging, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia) project developed a specific multi-nutrient intervention to cut the risk of developing a cerebrovascular disorder and delay or prevent vascular dementia and AD onset. Launched in 2008, LIPIDIDIET identified detailed dietary, lifestyle and genetic risk factors, as well as combinations of these, which correlate with an increased or decreased risk of dementia. Key risk factors were found to be genes, lipid metabolism and inflammation. Researchers also identified novel mechanisms describing how the dementia-causing amyloid molecules interfere with synaptic transmission, cellular differentiation and function. Researchers initially studied the neuroprotective mechanism of action of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They found that DHA increases synapse and blood brain barrier function whilst reducing inflammatory signalling and reactive oxygen species. It also addresses dysfunctional pathways affected by apoE4, a major genetic risk factor for AD. Project members produced different dietary formulations out of which Fortasyn Connect proved the most effective in various cell- and animal models relevant for Alzheimer’s disease, and therefore chose this specific multi-nutrient formulation for further investigation in a double-blinded clinical trial of prodromal AD. Fortasyn Connect, comprising the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, uridine monophosphate, choline, vitamins B6, B12, folate, phospholipids, vitamins C, E, and selenium, is the mixture of active nutrients in the 125 mL once-a-day medical food drink that is investigated in the clinical study. The feasibility of daily intake of the drink was as expected or better than expected and though the main part of the clinical trial is over, many participants have volunteered to enter extension studies. Clinical data revealed that early intervention with the medical food can help to conserve memory, the ability to think and perform everyday tasks, as well as reduce brain shrinkage in people with Prodromal Alzheimer’s Disease. The study showed that carefully designed specific nutritional intervention may promote healthy ageing as well as prevent and arrest the manifestations of AD. Results of the LIPIDIDIET project were published in over a hundred peer-reviewed scientific journal publications and featured in public press, TV and radio interviews. Other projects such as MIND-AD are using LIPIDIDIET as a research model to develop multidimensional dementia prevention programmes for implementation within the European health services. Besides the boost to public health, the food industry will also benefit as they now have scientific data that support medical claims on product benefits.


Multi-nutrient diet, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, LIPIDIDIET, DHA, apoE4, Fortasyn Connect

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