Winston-Salem, NC—Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine found that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet could help reduce levels of Alzheimer’s markers, according to a press release.

In a small pilot study, researchers identified several distinct gut microbiome signatures in participants with mild cognitive impairment that didn’t exist in participants with normal cognition. The researchers found that these bacterial signatures correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the participants with MCI.

The 17 participants—11 with mild cognitive impairment and six with normal cognition—were randomly assigned to follow either the low-carbohydrate modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet or a low-fat, higher carbohydrate diet for six weeks. The participants would then go through a six-week washout period, and switch to the other diet.

The modified low-carb diet was developed by a registered dietitian, and was unique to each participant based on their food preferences and caloric needs. The low-carb diet consisted of <10% carbohydrate, 60-65% fat, and 30-35% protein. The low-fat diet was 55-65% carbohydrate, 15-20% fat, and 20-30% protein.
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The Mediterranean-ketogenic diet produced changes in the gut microbiome and its metabolites that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer’s markers in the members of both study groups.

Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine and co-author of the study, said in the release: “The relationship of the gut microbiome and diet to neurodegenerative diseases has recently received considerable attention, and this study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with specific changes in gut bacteria and that a type of ketogenic Mediterranean diet can affect the microbiome in ways that could impact the development of dementia.”