Time-Restricted Eating Alzheimer’s Trial (TREAT): A randomized controlled pilot study in a population at risk of dementia
There are no definite treatments or preventive drugs for dementias arising from Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Time-restricted eating (TRE) by fasting between meals for 12-24 hours is a novel and promising approach. It is shown to produce benefits in obesity, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. It is associated with improved health of blood vessels, reduced inflammation, enhanced capacity of cells to repair damage and adapt to stress, and removal of the beta-amyloid protein from the brain, a hallmark pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Occlusion of small blood vessels and inflammation play important roles in Alzheimer’s and vascular dementias. The role of TRE in dementia risk reduction has not been studied in humans to this date. Inclusion of people at risk of dementia will promote identification of the benefits of TRE-a method known as trial enrichment. “At risk” is defined as a family history of dementia in a first degree relative and age over 60 years. Participants for this study will include family members of people affected by dementia. They will be randomly divided into two groups, one on TRE and the other on unrestricted diet. The duration of TRE will be decided by engagement, co-design, and a qualitative survey among family members of people affected by dementia before the pilot trial. Feasibility, acceptability and safety, memory, body weight, and biomarkers of dementia will be measured and compared between the groups. The implications will be the adoption of TRE into healthy lifestyles to reduce dementia risk in a high-risk population.
Dr Alby Elias is a psychiatrist with an advanced training certificate in psychiatry of old age. Dr Elias completed his PhD in dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder with The University of Melbourne, where he is now an honorary senior fellow in the department of psychiatry.