Eating a high-protein diet may make the brain lighter, which can ultimately make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a
recent animal study.

As reported in the October 21 issue of
the journal Molecular Neurodegeneration, mice fed a high-protein diet had lighter brains than mice fed three other kinds of diets (i.e., conventional, high fat and high carb). Decreased brain mass may make the mice more vulnerable to the buildup of plaque in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. This came as somewhat of a surprise to the researchers.

“Unexpectedly, brains of mice fed a high
protein/low carbohydrate diet [60% protein/30% carbs] were 5% lower in weight than brains from all other mice,” the researchers wrote. In addition, one
region of the brain in the high-protein-diet mice was underdeveloped.

Although the scientists called for more
research, they did theorize that a high-protein diet may leave neurons more vulnerable to plaque buildup. “Given the [previously reported] association of high protein diet with aging-related neurotoxicity, one wonders whether particular diets, if ingested at particular ages, might increase susceptibility to incidence or progression of AD.”