"The ketogenic diet has been used in epilepsy for almost 100 years and has been shown to reduce intractable seizures," Russell H. Swerdlow, MD, University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center, Fairway, who presented the ketogenic diet study, told Medscape Medical News.
"Our results suggest it could also be useful in other forms of neurological disease like Alzheimer's, but it is not an easy diet to follow," he added. "The point of our study is that it helps to establish a principle that brain metabolism can be rescued by a fuel other than glucose."
Dr Cunnane noted that studies have shown glucose uptake into the brain frontal cortex to be 14% lower in cognitively healthy older people than in younger healthy people. Patients with early Alzheimer's have a greater deficit, with 20% to 30% less glucose uptake than cognitively normal older people.
"Anybody trying to function with 20% less brain glucose long term will suffer from brain exhaustion," he said.