Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Restorative Health Solutions blog. Today, we are going to continue on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease by discussing what dietary approaches have been proven in the research to be optimal for the brain.
The term “Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet” and “Ketoflex 12/3” comes out of Dr. Dale Bredesen’s work. These dietary approaches have been shown to produce a healthy environment for brain health as well as being anti-inflammatory.
By now, everyone has likely heard about the Standard American Diet or “SAD” diet, which most Americans consume. This diet is full of inflammatory food proteins, high-refined carbohydrates, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and meat derived from a source that feeds the animals antibiotics, hormones, etc. This is what we call a toxic or inflammatory soup. This diet likely contributes to any disease known to man that is associated with inflammation. Alzheimer’s is certainly on that list.
If the SAD diet is so bad, what can I eat that is healthy for my brain?
The research has made it very clear that the best diet for the brain and for conditions associated with the brain or nervous system is a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet consists of mainly healthy fats with moderate protein and very few carbohydrates.
Healthy fats include foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, healthy oils (avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil), etc. The objective is to consume about 75% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates. This breaks down to roughly 25-50 grams of carbs per day, which is the general recommendation on a ketogenic diet.
For more information on the ketogenic diet, please refer to this link.
What exactly happens in your body when you eat a ketogenic diet?
The “keto” in ketogenic refers to “ketones” or “ketone bodies.” Ketones are produced by your liver after breaking down fat. “Genic” or “Genesis” refers to the formation of something, i.e. ketones.
When you eat fat, your liver will produce ketone bodies like beta-hydroxybutyrate. In order to make the ketones, your body has to be low on carbohydrates. If you eat a SAD diet, which has a ton of carbs, you won’t produce much for ketones. Our body is used to using glucose as a fuel source, but it can also use ketones after being on a ketogenic diet for an extended period of time. Initially, the body will produce ketones, but is unable to use most of them for energy. This is why the ketones spill out into the urine, blood, etc. You can actually measure them through the blood (beta-hydroxybutyrate), urine or breath. This way you know that your body is making ketones. After being in this state for several weeks-months, your body will then use the ketones for energy instead of spilling them into the urine, blood or saliva. This is called “keto-adapted.” Your body has officially switched from using glucose as a fuel to ketones, which is very healthy for the brain and very anti-inflammatory.
What’s the difference between a ketogenic diet and the Ketoflex 12/3 diet?
The ketoflex 12/3 diet incorporates the same dietary principles, but adds a few key factors that have been shown to enhance brain function. In addition to the ketogenic diet, the ketoflex 12/3 incorporates 150 minutes of exercise per week, 12 hours of fasting and having 3 hours between the end of your last meal (dinner) and bedtime. A combination of these different add-ons to the diet component can also help positively impact blood sugar regulation/insulin levels as well as many other benefits. For more information and blood sugar regulation/insulin and Alzheimer’s disease, click here. Let’s breakdown each category in more detail.
It is very well known that exercise can increased the production of a very important protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. BDNF is a wonderful molecule that has been shown to strengthen and support the synapses or connections between neurons. Another thing that can increase BDNF is ketones.
It is recommended to get in about 150 minutes of exercise per week on the Ketoflex 12/3 plan. The type of exercise is a HUGE factor. Brisk walking or something more vigorous is ideal. Just casual walking won’t increase BDNF nearly as much, which won’t give you the same results.
The fasting requirement is 12 hours. The time frame goes from when you are done eating dinner until your first bite of breakfast. Just think of the term “breakfast.” You have to “break” the “fast.” So, if you are done eating dinner at 7:00 pm then you can’t start eating breakfast til 7:00 am.
Fasting also increases what is called autophagy. Just think of this as a process where cells go around and start taking out the trash. The trash is damaged proteins, mitochondria, etc. This is a very big reason why fasting can be so beneficial for brain health.
This part is definitely a hard one for some people to break because of the habits we’ve created eating something before bed. However, the Ketoflex 12/3 diet recommends that we have a 3-hour gap between the last bite of dinner and bedtime. For example, if you go to bed at 10:00 pm then the last bite of dinner needs to be at 7:00 pm at the latest. The whole point of this is to avoid an insulin spike before you go to bed.
Putting it all together
The Ketoflex is a very important aspect that can change a patient’s symptoms dramatically. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle. Dr. Bredesen has come up with 36 different important pieces (or holes in the roof as he would say) to the puzzle and addressing just one of them likely isn’t going to make as much of a difference in cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease. We need to look at all factors and try to optimize each and every one of the 36 factors in order to expect a different outcome.
This is just one blog post on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease. We will continue to write about this topic because virtually everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed or has had the disease in the past. This is a condition that is so driven by things we can control. Let’s try to be proactive and optimize health early on!
At Restorative Health Solutions, we strive to get to the root cause of the symptoms/condition and help patients reach their optimal health. If you or someone you know is having issues with cognitive decline, memory recall, extreme brain fog or is concerned about the risk of Alzheimer’s, please contact us. To schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of the doctors, please call 952-479-7801 or CLICK HERE to fill out our contact form.