Can A High-Carb Diet Keep Dementia At Bay?

Research suggests a high-carb, low-protein diet could be the key to preventing dementia.

Currently, an estimated 436,366 Australians are living with dementia. That figure jumps by 250 every day. There is no cure.

A new study has found a high carbohydrate and very low protein diet improved overall well-being and brain health, as well as learning and memory in mice.

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Researchers at Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre focused on the hippocampus; the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

“The hippocampus is usually the first part of the brain to deteriorate with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said Professor David le Couteur, who led the study.

“However, the low-protein high-carbohydrate diet appeared to promote hippocampus health and biology in the mice, on some measures to an even greater degree than those on the low-calorie diet.”

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While there's yet to be human tests, it's a promising start.

"There are currently no effective pharmaceutical treatments for dementia -- we can slow these diseases, but we can't stop them"

"It’s exciting that we are starting to identify diets that are impacting how the brain ages,” said lead author and PhD candidate Devin Wahl.

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This diet mix isn't new.

Places in the world with the longest life expectancy, such as Okinawa in Japan and in the Mediterranean, swear by it.

“The traditional diet of Okinawa is around nine percent protein, which is similar to our study, with sources including lean fish, soy and plants, with very little beef," said Prof. Couteur.

"Interestingly, one of their main sources of carbohydrate is sweet potato.”

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The advice from experts?

Wahl said Australians who wanted to improve their diets should limit their intake of red meat, switching it for fish and beans and legumes.

Exercise is also crucial in keeping dementia at bay.