The majority of questions I’m asked about preventing or improving Alzheimer’s symptoms are related to diet: Does diet really matter, and if so what’s the best diet for the brain?
Alzheimer’s patients have chronic inflammation, and about 80% have insulin resistance. These conditions tend to precede an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, most people are unaware they have either and they are related to diet. Oxidative stress, nutrient deficiencies and metabolic syndrome are also underlying contributors to cognitive decline that are related to diet.
Your diet definitely matters. Even someone who has moderate to severe Alzheimer’s can benefit from the right foods – and may do worse if they’re eating the wrong foods because food impacts mood, behavior, energy, and sleep.
An anti-inflammatory diet that improves insulin sensitivity is good for the brain and body. The diet recommended for those using the Bredesen protocol, especially if they have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, is called Ketoflex 12/3 and it’s a mostly plant-based ketogenic diet that is:
- high in healthy fats from fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, and olives
- moderate in clean protein
- and while it’s low in carbohydrates, it’s plentiful in non-starchy organic vegetables
This mostly plant-based ketogenic diet is anti-inflammatory, helps improve insulin sensitivity, reduces oxidative stress, metabolic syndrome traits and is nutrient-rich.
An alternative to a mostly plant-based ketogenic diet is the MIND diet which isn’t as restrictive of carbohydrates (includes beans and whole grains). It’s still low in simple carbohydrates and sugars, but it is not a ketogenic diet. Even though whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread are listed as acceptable for the MIND diet, they aren’t a good idea because of the inflammatory nature of gluten and the elevations in blood sugar they can cause.
The diet you choose depends on your unique situation and using your own lab data to guide your decisions is helpful – do you know your numbers? Insulin, glucose, HOMA-IR, inflammatory markers and homocysteine? These are just a few that reveal underlying risk factors for Alzheimer’s and help to inform your dietary choices. A Bredesen-trained practitioner can help you get the right testing.
Regardless of which diet you choose, you can benefit from the 12/3 part of Ketoflex which is a reference to intermittent fasting. For now, the following is essential for your brain-body wellness:
- Eliminate refined/processed carbohydrates, soda and fruit juices
- Eliminate fast food
- Reduce or eliminate added sugar
- Add fiber to your diet
- Add healthy fats, especially Omega 3 fats
- Drink plenty of water (about 1/2 your body weight in ounces), your brain needs to be well hydrated for proper function.
Angela Chapman is a Bredesen ReCODE Practitioner, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Functional Health Educator. If you’re searching for practical ways to protect your brain health and avoid Alzheimer’s disease, her Sunday email is a great resource for you.