What is it about?

We've conducted research aimed at exploring the potential benefits of a carbohydrate-restricted diet for AD patients, and the findings are promising. This diet is lower in carbohydrates than the Standard American Diet, but not so low in carbohydrates that you need to eliminate your favorite foods. Before we dive into the study’s findings, it’s important to understand the connection between carbohydrates and AD. Brain cells depend on insulin to use glucose effectively. When insulin resistance sets in, as it often does with older age and AD, it can lead to cognitive decline. Both AD and type 2 diabetes share common mechanisms, including impaired insulin signaling. Lowering blood sugar and insulin levels could also help clear harmful Aβ peptides that contribute to AD. Eating fewer carbohydrates results in lower overall blood sugar. In our study, we divided AD patients with confirmed amyloid burden into two groups: those on a low-carb diet (the lower carb group) and those on a moderate-to-high carb diet. Participants in the lower carb group had thicker cortex regions in primary and secondary visual and somatomotor networks. This means their brains showed less thinning, a hallmark of AD. Even after accounting for factors like age, sex, education, and BMI, these differences held. We also explored the continuous benefits of reducing carbohydrates on a continuum. The lower the carb intake, the thicker the cortex, particularly in the frontoparietal, cingulo-opercular, and visual networks. These are crucial brain regions for memory and cognitive function, and they seemed to be healthier when participants ate generally less carbs.

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Why is it important?

In essence, our study suggests that a carbohydrate-restricted diet, with daily intake under 130 grams of net carbohydrates, may help preserve brain health in AD patients. The brains of those following this diet appeared more resilient, especially in areas associated with AD. While it's not a cure, it's a promising avenue for slowing down the disease's progression. A carbohydrate-restricted diet, particularly one following the brain-healthy MIND diet guidelines, might offer hope in the fight against cognitive decline.


You can reduce carbohydrate intake to manage blood sugar spikes, which helps in managing diabetic risk factors associated with declining brain health. These benefits for brain health can be obtained without adhering to an ultra-low carbohydrate diet. This is important because some individuals may not be able to follow a ketogenic diet due to health reasons. Others might prefer alternative programs such as the MIND or Mediterranean diet. Additionally, many people enjoy a variety of foods and may not want to adopt an overly restrictive diet.

Jennifer Bramen
Pacific Neuroscience Institute & Foundation

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Impact of Eating a Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet on Cortical Atrophy in a Cross-Section of Amyloid Positive Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Small Sample Study, Journal of Alzheimer s Disease, October 2023, IOS Press,
DOI: 10.3233/jad-230458.
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