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A Whole Food Plant Diet and Lifestyle Can Improve Memory in Early Alzheimer's!

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Posted on Jun 19, 2024, 6 a.m.

Article courtesy of Dr. Joel Kahn, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, one of the world's top cardiologists, a best-selling author, lecturer, and a leading expert in plant-based nutrition and holistic care.

Although heart disease impacts many more people than Alzheimer's Dementia (AD), people fear AD the most due to the loss of control and the deterioration in quality of life. Advances in reversing early AD have been slow and the medications are controversial at best.

At the Kahn Center, we discuss the risk of AD and run testing (apoE3 and amyloid ratios) as a routine part of a visit. Evidence links lifestyle factors with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) but the impact of a comprehensive lifestyle program on AD has not been studied until this recent scientific report. 


This is the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine if intensive lifestyle changes may beneficially affect the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early dementia due to AD.

A 1:1 multicenter randomized controlled phase 2 trial, ages 45-90 with MCI or early dementia due to AD and a Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score of 18 or higher. The primary outcome measures were changes in cognition and function tests: Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC), Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog), Clinical Dementia Rating–Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), and Clinical Dementia Rating Global (CDR-G) after 20 weeks of an intensive multidomain lifestyle intervention compared to a wait-list usual care control group.


Fifty-one AD patients enrolled, with a mean age of 74. There were no significant differences in any measures at baseline between the lifestyle group and the control group. Only two patients withdrew. All patients had plasma Aβ42/40 ratios <0.0672 at baseline, strongly supporting AD diagnosis.

After 20 weeks, there were significant between-group differences in the CGIC (p= 0.001), CDR-SB (p= 0.032), and CDR Global (p= 0.037) tests and borderline significance in the ADAS-Cog test (p= 0.053). CGIC, CDR Global, and ADAS-Cog showed improvement in cognition and function and CDR-SB showed significantly less progression, compared to the control group which worsened in all four measures. Aβ42/40 ratio increased in the intervention group and decreased in the control group (p = 0.003). There was a significant correlation between lifestyle and both cognitive function and the plasma Aβ42/40 ratio. The microbiome improved only in the intervention group (p <0.0001).


Comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly improve cognition and function after 20 weeks in many patients with MCI or early dementia due to AD.

“There was a statistically significant dose-response relationship between the degree of adherence to our lifestyle changes and the degree of improvement we saw on measures of cognition,” said Ornish, creator of the Ornish diet and lifestyle medicine program, founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and coauthor of “Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases.”

The lifestyle intervention Ornish created — “eat well, move more, stress less, and love more” — has been tested before. In 1990, Ornish showed for the first time in a randomized clinical trial that coronary artery disease could often be reversed with nothing more than diet, exercise, stress reduction, and social support.

Since then, research has shown the same four-part program can lower blood sugars and heart disease risk in patients with diabetes, reduce prostate cancer cell growth, improve depression, and reduce “bad cholesterol.”

Eat Well, Move More, Stress Less, and Love More

“How is it that these same four lifestyle changes stop, and often reverse, the progression of such a wide spectrum of the most common and costly chronic diseases?” Ornish asked.

“It’s because they all share many of the same underlying biological mechanisms: chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, changes in the microbiome, changes in gene expression, changes in immune function, and so on,” he said.

“And the lifestyle choices we make every day — what we eat, how we respond to stress, how much exercise we get, how much love and social support we have — can activate or downregulate these different mechanisms.”

About the author: At his core, Dr. Joel Kahn believes that plant-based nutrition is the most powerful source of preventative medicine on the planet. Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, it was only after his own commitment to a plant-based vegan diet that Dr. Kahn truly began to delve into the realm of non-traditional diagnostic tools, prevention tactics, and nutrition-based recovery protocols.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. Additionally, it is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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