Can Diet and Physical Activity Limit Alzheimer's Disease Risk?

Curr Alzheimer Res. 2017;14(1):76-93. doi: 10.2174/1567205013666160314145700.


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting elderly individuals at an alarming rate. It has become a global health crisis imposing tremendous social and economic burden on society. Although there is no cure for AD, it is important to identify and implement preventive strategies that may delay or prevent the symptoms, limit the burden, and improve the quality of life of those afflicted. Adequate nutrition and physical activity are the two potential lifestyle modifiable factors that have gained considerable interest for their potential in the prevention or management of this challenging disease. In this review, we discuss the beneficial effects of physical activity and adequate nutrition on minimizing the risk of developing AD.

Methods: The research question was initially formulated in a structured and explicit way. Relevant studies were identified using a wide range of scientific databases. Their potential relevance was based on the criteria for inclusion and exclusion. The quality of selected studies was subjected to a more precise quality assessment using standard tools. A detailed description of the implemented intervention and how it differed from what the control group received was outlined. The effects of intervention on measurable outcomes for the study sample were applied.

Results: One hundred and sixty-four references were included in the review comprising of epidemiological, longitudinal, cross-sectional, intervention and randomized controlled studies. This review highlighted the effect of various nutrient diet supplements on cognitive performance in humans as well as animals with AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Moreover, the effect of physical exercise on the cognitive function in animal models with AD was outlined.

Conclusion: The findings of this review highlight the therapeutic potential of combination of nutritionally adequate diet and physical activity in preventing or delaying the symptoms associated with AD pathology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*