A diet heavy in carbohydrates raises
the risk of early Alzheimer's symptoms, but fats and protein lower the risk.
Older people who load their plates with carbohydrates have four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment -- often a precursor to Alzheimer's disease -- a new study at Mayo Clinic indicates.
"That was a bit of a surprise," said Dr. Rosebud Roberts, lead epidemiologist on the research team. "I thought the big problem would be eating too little protein."
The study -- part of her work to identify risk factors contributing to pre-dementia -- ultimately may help physicians and dietitians better advise patients about proper diets, she said. It was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
The carb culprit appears to be the sugar that is created when carbohydrates are digested, said Roberts, a researcher for 20 years at Rochester's Mayo Clinic.