I am not a doctor nor am I responsible for your health! Please consult a physician before implementing any of the suggestions below for dementia prevention eating. If you are already having symptoms of memory loss I strongly recommend you seek help through Dr. Bredesen’s website. (We are not affiliated in any way and he has not endorsed my website.) His company, AHNP uses the latest technology to develop customized plans of the Bredesen protocol for people with SCD (subjective cognitive decline), MCI (mild cognitive impairment) or Alzheimer’s. There are several options based on your cognitive status.
Eat my way to a bright mind for life?!
Some of the most astounding health research to emerge in the past decade points to the power of food for creating good or bad health. Here’s just one example of this research. As we’re all learning, what we put into our bodies has a much more profound impact than we ever realized. Yes, we have known that we need vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. but now research is uncovering the ways that every morsel we take in effects the functioning of every bodily process at the cellular level. Wow or yikes, depending on your perspective (and eating habits)!
In this week’s post, we’ll look at Dr. Bredesen’s Ketoflex 12/3 diet which he recommends for dementia prevention eating. Dr. Bredesen has shown success with 100 patients in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s using the Ketoflex 12/3 diet plus other strategies discussed in the last blogpost.
Why a Ketoflex 12/3 diet for dementia prevention eating?
Many of us have some degree of insulin resistance (see this prior post). This condition is a dangerous contributor to cognitive problems. Why? As research has shown, when insulin is not able to unlock the doors into our cells so that glucose can enter, bad things happen. To name just a few: blood sugar rises, cells don’t get the nutrients they need, inflammation increases, and hormones are not used effectively. Dr. Bredesen uses a multi-pronged approach to reverse insulin resistance. First, eating in a way that restores insulin sensitivity. Secondly, reducing stress. Thirdly, exercising including aerobic exercise and non-aerobic exercise such as strength training. Lastly, making sure you are getting enough deep sleep. In this post we’re detailing dementia prevention eating– that is, eating a diet that induces nutritional ketosis. But what is nutritional ketosis and what is it not?
Nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which your body adapts to burning fat rather than carbohydrates as its primary fuel. It is clinically proven to directly reduce blood sugar (as measured by HbA1c), improve insulin sensitivity (as measured by HOMA-IR) and reduce inflammation (as measured by white blood cell count and CRP). Nutritional ketosis can be induced by following a ketogenic diet.From Virta website
Nutritional Ketosis and Ketogenic Diet FAQ by Dr. Stephen Phinney
More on nutritional ketosis
It’s important here to make a distinction between nutritional ketosis which is what Dr. Bredesen recommends and ketoacidosis–an entirely different situation as described below:
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening problem that affects people with diabetes. It occurs when the body starts breaking down fat at a rate that is much too fast. The liver processes the fat into a fuel called ketones, which causes the blood to become acidic.From Medline Plus
Stephen D. Phinney, MD, PhD. and Jeff Volek, PhD, RD have done decades of research on low carbohydrate diets that induce nutritional ketosis, and their effects on various diseases. Click below for a chart on ketone levels and what level is optimal.
Mouse studies on dementia prevention eating
A team of scientists from the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging studied the neurovascular and gut biome changes in young, healthy mice who were fed a ketogenic diet for sixteen weeks. They found that levels of amyloid-beta clearing chemicals increased as did beneficial microbiota in the gut. Their report suggests that:
…KD [ketogenic diet] intervention started in the early stage may enhance brain vascular function, increase beneficial gut microbiota, improve metabolic profile, and reduce risk for AD [Alzheimer’s Disease].Scientific Reports, April 27, 2018 by David Ma, et al, Article #6670
Here’s a summarized version of the report for those without the time or inclination to read the original study of nineteen pages.
Researchers continue to study the effects of the ketogenic diet on brain health, mainly in animals. One such example of recent research adds weight to the potential of ketogenic diets in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. To find other published studies go to Google Scholar. From my research, it appears that the majority of studies suggest a positive role for the ketogenic diet in the treatment protocol for Alzheimer’s disease.
What does “ketoflex” mean?
Dr. Bredesen calls his recommended diet “ketoflex” meaning that a person can choose to follow the diet as a vegetarian, a carnivore, a pescetarian (fish eater) or an omnivore (or as my daughter used to call herself–an opportunivore). The Ketoflex 12/3 diet gives this flexibility for personal choice.
What does “12/3” mean?
When Dr. Bredesen uses “12/3” he refers to the recommended twelve hours of fasting time between the end of dinner and the start of breakfast and the three hours of fasting time between the end of dinner and bedtime. By the way, here’s a personal note: I have been sleeping more soundly since adopting these fasting times. I couldn’t say it’s a cause and effect dynamic, but I suspect there is a connection.
The nuts and bolts of dementia prevention eating
Taken from The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen, pp. 182-190
The principles of the Ketoflex 12/3 diet:
- Eat primarily low glycemic index foods in order to keep blood insulin levels from spiking. For example, it’s better to eat whole fruit rather than drink fruit juice. Fresh vegetables are the mainstay. Buy organic (fewer toxins) and local (added freshness) when you can. Use whole foods rather than processed foods. Prepare vegetables using low heat so as not to damage nutrients. By “low glycemic index foods,” Dr. Bredesen means those with a GI (glycemic index) of less than 35.
- Avoid highly processed carbohydrates, saturated fats and simple sugars, such as this meal: burger, fries and a soda. Sounds good but, used repeatedly it’s a deadly combination. In fact, Dr. Bredesen calls this meal an example of the “Berfooda Triangle.”
- Eat detoxifying foods like cilantro, all the cruciferous cousins (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc.), Asian veggies like bok choy, daikon, wasabi, ginger and seaweed and seasonings like garlic, ginger and lemons.
- Eat good fats including avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
- If you eat fish choose the small or SMASH fish: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring. Larger fish are more likely to have excess mercury in their flesh.
- If you eat meat, eat small quantities like the amount that would fit in the palm of your hand (2-3 ounces). Choose grass-fed if possible for a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. This lowers the inflammatory effect. If you eat eggs, choose eggs from pastured chickens for the same reason.
- Keep protein intake to 50-70 g./day for men and 40-60 g./day for women.
- Maintain gut health by eating pre- and probiotics. Examples of pre-biotic foods are garlic, onions, raw leeks, and raw Jerusalem artichokes. Pro-biotic foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, sour pickles and kombucha.
- Take supplements as needed based on your test results. Future posts will discuss this in more detail.
Other benefits of dementia prevention eating
Dementia prevention eating using the Ketoflex 12/3 diet promotes gut health. If you did the Cyrex Array test for leaky gut and got a positive result you might consider avoiding gluten and dairy until the gut microbiome is healed. You can tell when it’s better because the nasty gastro-intestinal symptoms of a leaky gut will have disappeared. Remember from this post those symptoms include, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, and stomach aches. In contrast, you can tell your gut is healed when all feels calm in your belly.
Dementia prevention eating is good for heart health because, as researchers are continually learning, the heart, the gut and the brain are intimately connected. The health of one promotes the health of all. Lucky for us, right?!
Finally, if you are overweight, it’s possible you’ll lose weight once you’ve been on the Ketoflex 12/3 way of eating for four to six weeks. That’s also a good thing for cognitive health, not to mention how much better you will feel!
Up close and personal
I’ve been following the Ketoflex 12/3 way of dementia prevention eating for over a year now. I have lost weight (actually an unintended consequence), am sleeping more soundly, have tons of energy, am more alert, and have had only one minor cold. Is it the food, the supplements, or something else? I couldn’t say for sure, but I’m convinced enough about the benefits of Ketoflex 12/3 eating that I’m going to continue!
What’s your experience with dementia prevention eating?
Feel free to comment or ask questions below. Scroll down until you see the comments section.