Intensive Lifestyle Intervention Shows Promise for Early Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

Intensive Lifestyle Shows Alzheimer's Disease Patients | Healthcare 360 Magazine


A groundbreaking randomized controlled clinical trial has shown that an intensive lifestyle intervention, without the use of drugs, significantly improved cognition and function in patients with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. This 20-week study, the first of its kind, was published in the leading journal Alzheimer’s disease Research and Therapy. The research was led by Dr. Dean Ornish, a pioneer in lifestyle medicine and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, along with a team of distinguished scientists from prominent institutions.

Dr. Ornish’s collaborative team included experts from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Karolinska Institute, University of California, San Francisco, Renown Health Institute of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, Duke University Medical Center, and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. The comprehensive study involved 51 participants who were divided into an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group followed a rigorous lifestyle program encompassing a plant-based diet, exercise, stress management, and support groups, while the control group continued their usual care without lifestyle changes.

Significant Cognitive Improvements Observed about Alzheimer’s disease

Participants in the intervention group experienced notable improvements in cognitive function and overall well-being. The researchers utilized four standard cognitive tests to measure the outcomes. After 20 weeks, three out of four tests showed significant cognitive and functional improvements in the intervention group compared to the control group. Specifically, the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC), Clinical Dementia Rating–Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), and Clinical Dementia Rating Global (CDR-G) tests demonstrated statistically significant improvements. Even the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale–Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog) showed borderline significant improvement.

Additionally, individual stories from participants highlighted the positive impact of the lifestyle intervention. Patients reported regaining abilities they had lost due to cognitive decline, such as reading, managing finances, and preparing business reports. These personal accounts underscore the potential of lifestyle changes to enhance quality of life for those suffering from early Alzheimer’s.

Biomarker and Gut Microbiome Changes Support Findings

The study also revealed significant improvements in key biomarkers and gut microbiome profiles in the intervention group. One critical biomarker, the Aβ42/40 ratio, which measures amyloid levels associated with Alzheimer’s disease, improved significantly in the intervention group. This suggests that the lifestyle changes may help reduce amyloid buildup in the brain. Moreover, the gut microbiome of the intervention group showed a decrease in harmful organisms and an increase in protective ones, further supporting the biological plausibility of the study’s findings.

These results align with previous research indicating that moderate lifestyle changes, such as adopting the Mediterranean diet, can slow Alzheimer’s progression. However, this study suggests that more intensive lifestyle changes may offer additional benefits, potentially improving cognition and function in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.

Find practical solutions to common challenges through our insightful articles on Healthcare 360 Magazine

Most Popular Stories