Study reveals five lifestyle changes that could reverse Alzheimer's symptoms

A new research that reveals how five lifestyle changed may alter or reverse Alzheimer's disease symptoms.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Alzheimer's symptoms can be halted and even reversed by adopting five new lifestyle habits, according to a groundbreaking trial.

The research, led by Dr Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, indicates that certain lifestyle modifications may have a significant impact on the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Involving 51 participants with mild Alzheimer's symptoms, all around the age of 73, the 20-week study has been published in the journal 'Alzheimer's Research and Therapy', highlighting the benefits of a plant-based diet, regular exercise, daily meditation, and thrice-weekly group therapy sessions.

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Cici Zerbe, a Californian in her mid-80s who took part in the trial, told CNN that the program reversed her symptoms and she is "feeling much better".

Her story was featured in CNN's documentary 'The Last Alzheimer's Patient', where she shared her fears of ending up like her mother, confined to a nursing home and dependent on round-the-clock care, and how the lifestyle changes have allowed her to keep her independence and enjoy her morning walks alone, reports the Irish Mirror.

Meanwhile, Simon Nicholls, aged 55, also a participant in the trial, reported that the experience helped him stop the disease's progression.

Dr Richard Isaacson, a preventive neurologist from Cornell, monitored Simon's symptoms and progress throughout the study and enthused about the findings: "the results we've seen with Simon and some other patients in our research are extremely exciting."

The trial involved 26 participants, with half of them committing to a newly devised lifestyle regimen that promoted plant-based eating habits, daily walking routines, thrice-weekly strength training, regular meditation, and group therapy sessions involving their loved ones, three times a week.

Participants were tasked with incorporating eight different supplements into their daily intake alongside a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and soy products.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine underscores a connection between plant-based diets and a reduced chance of dementia development. This is likely due to the higher levels of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables compared to animal meats or wheat-based foods.

In addition to altering their diets, those taking part in the study were encouraged to go for 30-minute walks each day and engage in light strength training exercises under the supervision of a nurse three days per week, which was complemented by meditation and yoga sessions via Zoom for one hour every day.

Stress is known to be a precursor to myriad health dilemmas, particularly dementiasomething underscored by the researchers. They note how ongoing inflammation caused by stress could slowly harm brain tissue, thus increasing the odds of developing dementia.

Dr Ornish, the lead researcher, shared with Time: "This is not the study to end all studies. But it shows for the first time that intensive lifestyle changes can improve cognition and function in patients who have Alzheimer's."

The study links how a healthy diet and exercise regimen contributes positively to heart health, which is known to be connected to blood circulationa factor crucial in the onset of dementia.

Patients involved in adopting this new lifestyle experienced benefits beyond cardiac health, notably improved cerebral blood flow, leading to a reduction in symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease.

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