The ketogenic diet as a potential treatment and prevention strategy for Alzheimer's disease

Nutrition. 2019 Apr;60:118-121. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2018.10.003. Epub 2018 Oct 10.


The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, a chronic neurodegenerative condition, is increasing as is the need for effective treatments and preventions. The underlying pathology of Alzheimer's is not yet fully understood, so existing research has focused on understanding the prominent features of the disease. These include amyloid plaques, which accumulate in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease; impaired glucose metabolism; and neuronal cell death. Emerging evidence suggests that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet may help to mitigate the damage associated with these pathologies. The ketogenic diet could alleviate the effects of impaired glucose metabolism by providing ketones as a supplementary energy source. In addition, this diet may help to reduce the accumulation of amyloid plaques while reversing amyloid β toxicity. Research has begun to identify early underlying mechanisms in Alzheimer's disease that could be targeted by new prevention strategies. Glycation of the ApoE protein leads to impaired transportation of important lipids, including cholesterol, to the brain, resulting in lipid deficiencies that could explain progression to the later pathologies of the disease. In this review, we hypothesize that the ketogenic diet could be an effective treatment and prevention for Alzheimer's disease, but both ketone production and carbohydrate restriction may be needed to achieve this.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid β; Dietary intervention; Ketogenic diet; Ketones; Low-carbohydrate diet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / diet therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ketones / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Ketones