A recent University of Southern California study showed great benefit in cycling intake of dietary protein — well, not all protein, but essential amino acids — in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
The protein restriction cycles improved memory and reduced brain levels of phosphorylated tau in the mice, but did not affect brain levels of β amyloid (Aβ) plaques.
The protein cycles lasted four months and consisted of alternating weeks of a normal diet and a protein-restricted (PR) diet.
The normal diet contained 25% protein, 17% fat, and 58% carbohydrate.
The PR diet lacked nine essential amino acids (EAA) – that is, amino acids the body cannot make: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenyalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and arginine. Fat and carbohydrate contents were presumably the same as in the normal diet.
Interestingly, the researchers supplemented the PR diet by adding more of the remaining 11 amino acids, mainly the nonessential amino acids (NEAA), to make the diet’s nitrogen content the same as in the normal control diet. As a result, the PR diet contained about twice the amount of NEAA as did the normal diet.