The Alzheimer’s Diet: How to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Amylee Amos
Worldwide, about 50 million people are suffering from dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementiaand the emotional and financial toll of this disease is monumental. Alzheimer’s disease is now considered to be the 3rd leading cause of death with no pharmaceutical drugs available to effectively treat the disease, though not for lack of trying on the part of the pharmaceutical industry. Alzheimer’s drug development has the highest failure rate of any other disease, at 99.6%. That equates to billions of dollars thrown into potential treatments that do shockingly little to slow the progress, reverse the symptoms, or even prevent the disease. The five drugs that have been approved for Alzheimer’s treatment do very little to help the millions of people suffering from the cognitive losses and devastation associated with Alzheimer’s.
Fortunately, recent research demonstrates that Alzheimer’s is not the idiopathic disease it was once believed to be. In fact, the causes and contributors of an individual’s Alzheimer’s disease can be pinpointed and treated. Contributors to the programmatic downsizing of the brain that is Alzheimer’s disease include physiological processes such as chronic inflammation, imbalanced oxidative stress, and impaired glycemic control. These factors are all highly influenced by our diet. Thus, adopting an Alzheimer’s diet is critical in the attempt to prevent and reverse cognitive decline.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented and Reversed?
The mainstream medical community is always quick to comment that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. This just means that no silver bullet approach to preventing or reversing Alzheimer’s exists. You can’t just pop a pill and reverse your Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, because their outdated approach to treating chronic diseases fails in the case of Alzheimer’s, the conventional medicine community remains steadfast in their misguided claim that there is no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
The truth is that through a targeted therapeutic approach, Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented and the symptoms can be reversed. In 2018, practitioners from multiple clinical sites published the reversal of cognitive decline in 100 patients while following a multi-targeted approach. This approach, which adheres to the functional medicine model of addressing the underlying root causes of disease is known as the Bredesen Protocol. Through the Bredesen Protocol practitioners are able to identify the individual metabolic imbalances of each patient and use a systems based approach to treat each imbalance, thereby identifying and treating the root cause of the imbalance, rather than simply masking the symptoms. The result is the reversal of cognitive decline.
What Is The Alzheimer’s Diet?
The ideal Alzheimer’s diet to prevent and reverse cognitive decline must be individualized to the patient to ensure that it addresses the root cause of that person’s metabolic imbalances. However, there are some nutritional components that all those wishing to prevent cognitive decline should adopt. Adjusting one’s nutritional habits to reflect the Alzheimer’s diet is the first step in preventing cognitive decline.
The foundation of the Alzheimer’s diet is whole, predominantly plant-based foods including non-starchy vegetables, low glycemic fruits, quality proteins, and healthy fats. Clients following the Alzheimer’s diet are encouraged to eat foods that have been well studied for their cognitive benefits including leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, low mercury fatty fish, extra virgin olive oil, and walnuts. The diet eliminates highly processed packaged foods, simple and added sugars, processed meats, and refined carbohydrates. Animal products in general are minimized depending on the specifics of an individual’s drivers of inflammation. Consuming adequate amounts of the recommended foods provides the nutrients, specifically the micro and phytonutrients that the brain needs to support neuronal and synaptic growth and function. Avoiding the foods not recommended prevents ongoing inflammation and resolves oxidative stress and cellular dysfunction.
Additionally, clients following the Alzheimer’s diet are encouraged to fast for a period of at least 12 hours overnight, with the first three hours occurring between finishing dinner and going to bed. This fast allows for the client to reap the full physiological benefits of sleep, including the natural clearance of beta-amyloid plaques from the brain.
How To Implement The Alzheimer’s Diet
The Alzheimer’s diet should be tailored to meet the unique needs of the individual in order to receive the most enhanced cognitive benefit. At the Amos Institute, clients receive an immersive and individualized nutrition plan that incorporates the major components of the Alzheimer’s diet, with specifications related to their personal drivers of cognitive decline, genetics, and biochemistry. This is particularly important when considering the genetic variant ApoE4, the genetic variant most commonly associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with this variant demonstrate what is known as decreased cerebral glucose utilization, meaning that their brains do not effectively utilize carbohydrates as a fuel source. To bypass these impaired metabolic pathways, individuals with this genetic variant are encouraged to achieve a state of mild ketosis.
Creating a ketogenic diet based largely on plant foods can be challenging, which is why seeking the help of functional medicine trained dietitians is so critical for proper implementation. This is where partnering with a program and practitioners such as those from the Amos Institute is so beneficial to success in recovery. Reversing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline is incredibly difficult, but the research shows that it can be done. If you believe you are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, start implementing the Alzheimer’s diet right away. If you are already suffering from cognitive decline, seek the expertise and structure of a cognitive health program to begin optimizing your nutrition and lifestyle to reverse your cognitive decline. In the words of Dr. Dale Bredesen, if we all start to implement an Alzheimer’s diet and other lifestyle factors, “Alzheimer’s disease should be- and shall be- a rare disease.”
Amylee Amos MS, RDN, IFMCP founded the Amos Institute to specialize in the implementation of the Bredesen Protocol. She graduated with a Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan, & Longevity from the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. She has trained under Dr. Dale Bredesen and received certification in the Bredesen Protocol from MPI Cognition. She is one of the only dietitians in the United States who is certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine, a new high level achievement for leading medical providers.