Early nutritional intervention can help fight dementia

Trials have revealed significant advantages for patients who are treated with daily medical nutrient drinks, with 45 % less deterioration in the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes. This tool tracks disease progression based on performance in managing everyday life, such as coping with household emergencies and handling financial transactions.

The findings, which were finalized and published in the peer-reviewed journal Lancet Neurology in October 2017, confirm that nutrition is essential to ensuring a healthy aging population. ‘The LIPIDIDIET study illustrates that nutritional intervention can help to conserve brain tissue and memory, and patients’ ability to perform everyday tasks, possibly the most troubling aspects of the disease,’ says project coordinator Tobias Hartmann, director of the Deutsches Institut für Demenzprävention at Saarland University in Germany.

The project involved 311 patients across 11 sites in 4 countries. Patients with mild cognitive impairment were given a daily cocktail of ingredients that included essential fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients, as a means to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

‘While this nutritional intervention is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, it shows that the earlier the intervention in the the disease process, the greater the advantage for the patient,’ explains Hartmann.

New care pratices

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia worldwide is expected to double every 20 years, reaching 74.7 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050.

LIPIDIDIET opens up new possibilities in how the medical profession treats this cognitive impairment. On the issue of provision of care, the project demonstrated that giving a multi-nutrient drink to elderly patients on a daily basis was entirely feasible. Results on this, says Harmann, were as expected or better than expected. ‘Although the clinical trial is over, many participants have volunteered to take part in extension studies,’ he says.

Completed in 2015, LIPIDIDIET’s results have been published in more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific journals. Other projects, such as MIND-AD, are using the research as a model to develop multidimensional dementia prevention programs that can be implemented within European health services. LIPIDIDIET’s results also highlight a potential untapped and growing market for the nutrition and supplements sector.

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