Going keto helps people lose weight. But the low-carb diet also helps people gain more energy, exercise more, control their blood sugar, decrease body fat, and more. Plus, new research shows that combining the keto diet with a Mediterranean-style diet can help in a different way. It may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
MCI in older adults can come with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. So, a 2019 study followed 17 people with an average age of 65 and their eating habits to find out how true this is.
The study lasted 12 weeks. The first six weeks participants ate freely. The other half they were told to follow one of two diets. One was the hybrid Mediterranean/keto diet low in carbs and high in healthy fats. The other was the American Heart Association Diet, which is high in carbs.
A registered dietitian planned meals for them based on their food preferences. Participants kept food diaries and blood samples were taken to track their diets. Stool samples were collected weekly for analysis of the gut fungi. (Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day.)
So, did the study find a link to a risk of Alzheimer’s?
At the beginning of the study, the people with MCI had fewer gut fungi than those who were considered healthy. In this case, a healthy number equals a smaller risk of developing Alzheimer’s because the fungi help the brain function. However, the analysis revealed that following the blended diet helped increase the fungi numbers in those with MCI, according to Medical News Today.
“Although we do not fully understand how these fungi contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, this is the first study of its kind to reveal their role in our mental health, which we hope will ignite thinking in the scientific community to develop better understanding of them in relation to Alzheimer’s disease,” says Hariom Yadav, Ph.D. and an assistant professor of molecular medicine at the university, according to Medical News Today. “It also indicates that dietary habits such as eating a ketogenic diet can reduce harmful fungi in the gut, which might help in reducing Alzheimer’s disease processes in the brain.”
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s. But this new research shows how important food is for the body and mind.