Can Lifestyle Changes Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease?
Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Bruce Miller, and Dr. Joel Kramer are directing the first randomized controlled trial to determine if the progression of early stage Alzheimer’s disease may be reversed by a comprehensive lifestyle medicine program, without drugs, devices, or surgery.
This lifestyle medicine program includes a whole foods low-fat, low-sugar plant-based diet;moderate exercise; stress management techniques including meditation; and psychosocial support.
In this proposed study, 100 patients who have early to moderate Alzheimer’s disease in the San Francisco Bay area will be enrolled and randomly-assigned to one of two groups.
Both groups will be tested at baseline using state-of-the-art measures, including MRI scans and cognitive function testing. We are also measuring inflammatory markers in the blood; changes in gene expression and proteomics at Dr. David Sinclair’s lab at Harvard; changes in the microbiome at Dr. Rob Knight’s lab at UCSD; changes in telomere length at Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn’s lab at UCSF; and changes in the DNA clock at Dr. Steve Horvath’s lab at UCLA. These will provide further insight into the mechanisms by which lifestyle changes may affect the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
All meals will be provided (21 meals/week) during the study along with training in stress management, exercise, and support groups three days/week. There will be no cost to participants for the food, training, or testing. The study is 40 weeks in duration.
After baseline testing, the first group will then receive this lifestyle medicine program for 20 weeks, three days/week. The second group will not and will serve as a randomized control group during this phase of the study. Both groups will be re-tested after 20 weeks. Then, the second group will “cross over” and receive this lifestyle medicine program for 20 weeks and the first group will continue the lifestyle change program for 20 additional weeks. After a total of 40 weeks, both groups will be re-tested again and compared. This study has been approved by the UCSF and Western Institutional Review Boards.