Effect of nutrition on neurodegenerative diseases. A systematic review

Nutr Neurosci. 2021 Oct;24(10):810-834. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1681088. Epub 2019 Nov 4.


Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the progressive functional loss of neurons in the brain, causing cognitive impairment and motoneuron disability. Although multifactorial interactions are evident, nutrition plays an essential role in the pathogenesis and evolution of these diseases. A systematic literature search was performed, and the prevalence of studies evaluated the effect of the Mediterranean diet (MeDiet), nutritional support, EPA and DHA, and vitamins on memory and cognition impairment. The data showed that malnutrition and low body mass index (BMI) is correlated with the higher development of dementia and mortality. MeDiet, nutritional support, and calorie-controlled diets play a protective effect against cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson disease (PD) while malnutrition and insulin resistance represent significant risk factors. Malnutrition activates also the gut-microbiota-brain axis dysfunction that exacerbate neurogenerative process. Omega-3 and -6, and the vitamins supplementation seem to be less effective in protecting neuron degeneration. Insulin activity is a prevalent factor contributing to brain health while malnutrition correlated with the higher development of dementia and mortality.

Keywords: Alzheimer’ disease; Huntington disease; Nutrition; Parkinson’ disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cognitive impairment; diet; multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / prevention & control
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Status


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3