According to statistics released in 2022, Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia for which there is no effective conventional treatment or treatment – affects an estimated 6 million Americans,1 Up from 5.4 million in 2016.
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease varies, but it often begins with lapses in short-term memory that later develop into problems with speech and problems with executive function.
Your diet plays an important role in dementia
Although it’s never too early to start, if your memory slips frequently enough to trigger even the slightest bit of anxiety, it’s time to take action. A ketogenic diet high in fat, protein, and low in carbohydrates is essential to protecting brain health and preventing the degeneration that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the most striking studies2 Demonstrating the effects of high-fat/low-carb versus high-carbohydrate diets on brain health showed that high-carb diets increased the risk of dementia by 89%, while high-fat diets reduced it by 44%.
According to the authors, “A diet that is relatively high in calories from carbohydrates and low in calories from fats and protein may increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia in the elderly.” Other research3And the4 It highlights the importance of eating a diet rich in flavonols – antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and tea. As reported by Reuters:5
Researchers followed 921 people with dementia for about six years, starting at an average age of 81. During the study, 220 people were diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease.
People who consumed the most flavonols in their diet had about half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who consumed the least… While 15% of people who ate the most flavonols developed Alzheimer’s, this rose to 54% among those who ate the least.
This difference remained even after the researchers took into account other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease such as diabetes, a previous heart attack or stroke, or high blood pressure…”
Overall, people in the lowest quintile got on average about 5.3 milligrams of flavonols per day, while the higher group got about 15.3 milligrams per day. Those who got the highest amounts of flavonols had a 48% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who got the lowest amounts.
Some flavonols are stronger than others
The researchers were particularly interested in whether specific flavonols might provide better protection than others. To determine this, they quantified participants’ amount of:
Kaempferol came out a clear winner in this regard. Those with the highest consumption of kaempferol had a 51% lower risk of developing dementia, while the highest intakes of isorhamantin and myricetin were associated with a 38% lower risk. Quercetin, a powerful antiviral and immune booster, does not appear to have any effect on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Tea drinkers live longer
In related news, January 2020 study6 In the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, regular tea intake (three or more times a week) was found to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
Overall, the results suggest that a 50-year-old who drinks tea at least three times a week may develop heart disease and/or have a stroke 1.41 years later than a person who drinks it less frequently. Overall, they also lived 1.26 years longer than a person who did not drink tea regularly. As reported by Science Daily:7
“Compared with never or habitual tea drinkers, regular tea consumers had a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke, 22% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15% decreased risk of all-cause death.”
How a ketogenic diet protects your brain function
Returning to the keto diet, it has the potential to reduce the risk of dementia in several ways. For starters, a cyclical ketogenic diet will improve your insulin sensitivity, an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease.8 The link between insulin sensitivity and Alzheimer’s disease is very strong, and the disease is sometimes referred to as type 3 diabetes.
Even a slight rise in blood sugar is associated with a higher risk of dementia.9 Diabetes and heart disease10 They are also known to increase your risk, both of which are rooted in insulin resistance. For optimal health, you will want to keep your insulin level below 3 mcU/ml (fasting).
The relationship between high sugar diets and Alzheimer’s disease was highlighted in a ten-year study published in Diabetologia in January 2018,11 Which showed that the higher the blood sugar level, the faster the rate of cognitive decline.
Studies have also confirmed that the higher an individual’s resistance to insulin, the less sugar is in key parts of their brain, and these areas typically correspond to areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease.12And the13
A cyclical ketogenic diet will also stimulate your body to produce ketones, which are an important source of energy (fuel) for your brain.14 Which has been shown to help prevent brain atrophy and relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.15th Even ketones may restore and regenerate the function of nerve cells and nerves in your brain after damage has occurred.
Last but not least, the cyclic keto diet helps reduce free radical damage and reduce inflammation in your brain. This is also largely due to ketones, as they generate fewer reactive oxygen species and are less damaging to free radicals than carbohydrates.
The ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate is also a major player in epigenetics, catalyzing drastic decreases in oxidative stress by reducing NF-kB, thus reducing inflammation and NADPH levels along with beneficial changes in DNA expression that improve detoxification and production of toxins. Antioxidants.
I explain the ins and outs of implementing this type of diet, and its many health benefits, in “KetoFastbook. In it, I also explain why cycling through the feast and famine phases is so important, as opposed to constantly staying in a nutritional ketosis state.
(For clarity, the ketogenic diet tends to be very high in both healthy fats and vegetables. There is actually no limit to plant carbs you can eat, and there are no restrictions on tea.)
The only area where you might need to be careful is when it comes to fruits, as some are high in fructose. Fructose, even from fruit, must be restricted in the early stages in order to successfully switch to fat burners as the primary fuel. For guidance on what fats to eat the most, see The fat section of my free food plan.)
Trans fats increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
While diets rich in healthy fats and antioxidants can go a long way toward staving off dementia, diets rich in unsaturated and refined fats Sugar And cereals do the opposite. Search16 Published in the October 2019 issue of Neurology, it found a strong link between trans fat consumption and the incidence of dementia and its various subtypes, including Alzheimer’s disease.
The study included 1,628 Japanese elderly people aged 60 and over. None of them had dementia at the start of the 10-year study. Levels of ellidic acid – a biomarker of artificial trans fats – were measured in the participants’ blood using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.
Based on these levels, hazard ratios for all-cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia were calculated using the Cox proportional hazards model. As stated by the authors:17
Elevated serum ileic acid levels were significantly associated with a greater risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease [Alzheimer’s disease] After adjustment for conventional risk factors.
These associations remained significant after adjusting for dietary factors, including total energy intake and intakes of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.”
This increase in risk was not insignificant. As CNN reported,18 People in the highest quartile of ellidic acid levels were 74% more likely to develop dementia. Those in the second highest quartile had a 52% higher risk.
Of the various processed foods found to contribute to higher levels of ellagic acid, pastries were the biggest contributors, followed by margarine, candy, caramel, croissants, dairy-free creamers, ice cream, and rice crackers.19
Oxidized Omega-6 – Another Bad Fat You Should Eliminate
While it is clearly important to avoid trans fats, processed oils are the main cause of most Western illnesses.
This is largely related to the oxidized omega-6 fats in them, which may actually be worse than trans fats. Now, omega-6 fats (linolenic acid) are not the problem per se. Linoleic acid is also found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and eggs, and is important for health. The problem lies with the oxidized omega-6 fats, and the fact that most people eat too many of them.
For years, I’ve emphasized the importance of balancing omega-3 intake with omega-6 to protect your health. Ideally, do an omega-3 index test once a year to ensure that you are in a healthy range. The omega-3 index should be above 8% and the omega-6 to 3 ratio should be between 0.5 and 3.0. To correct an unbalanced omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, you typically need:
1. Dramatically reduce your damaged omega-6 intake by avoiding processed foods and foods cooked in vegetable oil at high temperatures. Common sources of harmful omega-6s include corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, margarine and margarine.
2. Increase your intake of animal omega-3 fats from sardines, anchovies, herring, and wild Alaskan salmon, or take a supplement like krill oil, all of which provide you with DHA that is linked to phospholipids.
Search20And the21 He suggests that DHA bound to phospholipids (not triglycerides, which is what you find in most fish oil supplements) may be especially important for those with the APOE4 gene, which makes them susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
Low cholesterol can affect dementia risk
There is another dietary factor that has been shown to influence your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease low cholesterol. While there are many warnings about high total cholesterol, low levels can have equally serious repercussions. In fact, a number of studies have demonstrated the importance of high cholesterol in preventing Alzheimer’s disease specifically.
According to senior research scientist Stephanie Senef, M.D., insufficient fat and cholesterol in your brain play a critical role in the Alzheimer’s disease process, detailed in her 2009 paper.22 “APOE-4: Evidence for why a low-fat diet and statins cause Alzheimer’s disease.” 2014 study23 In JAMA Neurology he came to a similar conclusion, stating that:
“Cholesterol, which is vital for neuronal structure and function, has important roles in the synthesis, deposition and clearance of amyloid beta (Aβ) and may have a pathogenic role in Alzheimer’s disease (AD)… There are also important links between apolipoprotein E (APOE), Aβ, and cholesterol.
A strong genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the APOE ε4 allele is associated with earlier and higher deposition of Aβ. APOE is the primary carrier of cholesterol in the brain, and its isoforms differentially modulate cholesterol levels in the brain. “
Here, the researchers found that higher levels of HDL and lower levels of LDL were associated with a lower risk of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain, and these findings were independent of age and presence of the APOE4 gene. Study co-author Dr. Charles DeCarly, professor of neuroscience at UC Davis and director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, offered the following advice based on the findings:24
“If you have LDL above 100 or HDL below 40… you want to make sure those numbers align. You have to raise your HDL and lower your LDL.”
That said, search25 The 2008 publication found that elderly individuals who did not have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease and who had the highest cholesterol levels — including the highest levels of LDL — had better memory, so it remains to be seen whether a higher LDL level is a risk factor. big .
Healthy eating habits protect your brain function
To summarize the key nutritional factors reviewed here, diets rich in healthy fats, omega-3 DHA bound to phospholipids, and flavonols from fruits, vegetables, and tea, will help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Dietary factors that worsen brain health and increase the risk of dementia include diets high in refined sugar, grains, trans fats, industrially processed vegetable oils (high in damaged omega-6), and insufficient cholesterol.