Feeding our brains to reduce memory loss
Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise. Every five years the cases of Alzheimer’s double. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States; 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. There is no pharmaceutical approach that has meaningful effectiveness on the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Please know the FDA has not approved any of the lifestyle and nutrition choices I am going to cover in this article.
A recent paper was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Parkinsonism titled “Reversal of Cognitive Decline: 100 Patients.” This was a collaboration by many doctors including Dr. Dale Bredesen and Dr. Ken Sharlin, who I respect greatly. I will be discussing this paper and strategies to nourish the brain and prevent memory problems.
Dr. Perlmutter, author and well recognized Board-Certified Neurologist, described Alzheimer’s as “Basically, a population of brain cells progressively loses the ability to use glucose sugar as a fuel and remain idle. This is the reason that PET scans that measure brain metabolism of glucose are utilized when studying patients with the disease.” This is a simple explanation of a complicated, multi-faceted disease.
In this study Dr. Bredsen says there are many causes of Alzheimer’s, from activation of the innate immune system by pathogens — including Borrelia (Lyme disease), Babesia and viruses of the herpes family — specific toxic exposure and hormonal dysregulation, insulin resistance, compromised brain glucose metabolism, low vitamin D, trauma, vascular compromise and inflammation.
In the study “Reversal of Cognitive Decline: 100 Patients” “they describe 100 patients with cognitive decline treated with this multi-component, precision medicine approach, and showing documented improvement,” Bredsen said. They discuss using a mildly ketogenic, plant rich diet.
The ketogenic diet was first discovered in 1923 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic for the treatment of epilepsy. As pharmaceutical drugs for seizures were developed, the ketogenic diet lost popularity. Some doctors still use it today to reduce seizures in epilepsy.
If you are not familiar, the ketogenic diet it is based on high fats, moderate protein and low carbohydrates. Ketones produced in the liver are an alternative source of energy for the brain. In Alzheimer’s, the brain loses its ability to use glucose for energy. Ketone’s become a usable energy source with neuroprotective properties.
I have seen a lot of versions of the ketogenic diet. Vegetables are a very important part of a healthy ketogenic diet. To get more vegetables into a ketogenic diet you will want to be dairy free. To better understand how to eat a healthy ketogenic diet I recommend reading “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline” by Dr. Dale Bredesen.
Research by Robert Krikorian, Ph.D showed that wild blueberry powder improved memory and cognitive function in aging adults. Brain activity increased using magnetic resonance imaging. In another study by Kriorian, titled “Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults,” they use wild blueberry juice and saw improved memory function. These studies were small and would need to be done on a much larger scale to determine effectiveness.
Wild blueberries have a lower glycemic load and more nutrients than the common blueberry. They are smaller, darker and have less sugar. The blue/purple/black phytonutrients in wild blueberries are packed with Anthocyanin compounds that are good for our heart, eyes, brain with anti-cancer benefits.
My takeaway from reading these studies is what we eat matters! There is currently no pharmaceutical drug for Alzheimer’s. Our best defense is prevention. Eating a whole foods diet, with lots of veggies, healthy fats, low glycemic fruits, nuts, seed, fish, grass fed beef that has a higher omega 3 ratio is good for our brains and overall health.
I will leave you with this quote from one of the studies. “A nutritional approach to preventing AD appears to be an innovative and safe approach that may be extremely cost effective, allow ease of administration, and importantly, serve as a socially acceptable intervention or adjunctive approach in the prevention and treatment of AD.”