CHALLENGE: ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death in American women. New research led by Dale Bredesen, MD, at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, and the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that using diet and lifestyle to improve your body’s biochemistry may prevent, reverse or slow Alzheimer’s disease progression.
What to do: “Five key lifestyle changes may help reverse cognitive decline, and diet tops this list,” says Bredesen, who wrote The End of Alzheimer’s (Avery, 2017) based on his research. “Brain scans of people with Alzheimer’s disease show that their brains don’t handle carbs [glucose] well, but they can better utilize ketones [made from fat] for energy.”
So, he recommends a ketogenic diet, which is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. The diet restricts grains, especially gluten, and dairy products, which are generally inflammatory. It’s also important to have at least a 12-hour fast between finishing your evening meal and eating breakfast the next day. This helps put you into ketosis and promotes a clean-up process in your brain that removes dysfunctional cells.
The other four lifestyle changes Bredesen recommends are 30 minutes of exercise daily, eight hours of good-quality sleep per night, stress management techniques and brain exercises, such as those offered at brainhq.com. He also recommends supplements—such as curcumin, liposomal glutathione and magnesium—based on a person’s blood test results.
What to eat: Bredesen recommends a diet heavy on whole plant foods and emphasizes healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil), while limiting carbs to mostly nonstarchy vegetables and low-glycemic, whole fruits such as berries. Medium-chain-triglyceride (MCT) oil may be used to help make ketones.