Diet and Inflammation in Cognitive Ageing and Alzheimer's Disease

Curr Nutr Rep. 2019 Jun;8(2):53-65. doi: 10.1007/s13668-019-0271-4.


Purpose of review: Nutrition is known to modulate the immune system and may alter neuroinflammatory processes implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and progression of neurodegeneration. Here, we review the evidence for healthy dietary patterns and age-related cognition and discuss potential neuroinflammatory actions of diet on cognitive function.

Recent findings: Anti-inflammatory dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet (MD) and dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) may be neuroprotective. Several dietary components consumed in the MD and DASH (omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and polyphenols) can inhibit neuroinflammation associated with AD. Anti-inflammatory diets may also attenuate neuroinflammation via indirect immune pathways from the gut microbiome and systemic circulation. Diet may influence cognitive ageing via several inflammatory pathways. However, data from human studies are lacking and the exact mechanisms linking diet to cognitive function remain elusive. Further dietary intervention studies are required to investigate diet-associated neurological change from the earliest through to latest stages of cognitive decline. Furthermore, incorporation of neuroimaging measures in intervention studies would advance current understanding of the mechanistic effects of dietary modification on neuroinflammation in the ageing brain.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cognition; Cognitive ageing; Cognitive function; Diet; Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH); Dietary patterns; Inflammation; Mechanisms; Mediterranean diet (MD); Nutrients; Pathways; Pro-inflammatory diets.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognitive Aging / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Diet Therapy / methods
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension
  • Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Polyphenols