The End of Alzheimer’s Diet
One of our writers recently finished Dr. Dale Bredesen’s book The End of Alzheimers. Bredesen’s Anti-Alzheimer’s program, called ReCODE, has received much attention since the book’s publishing in 2017. With that, we thought it’d be helpful to summarize and analyze the nutritional part of the program.
Notably, of the first ten patients on his protocol, nine displayed significant improvement with 3-6 months. Since then, the protocol has drawn similar results with many more patients.
The ReCODE protocol is comprehensive in addressing hormone deficiencies, toxin exposures (partly from EDC’s), and chronic inflammation in individuals.. These three conditions are, according to Dr. Bredesen, the roots of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the center of Bredesen’s ReCODE protocol is his anti-Alzheimer’s diet, called the Ketoflex 12/3.
Alzheimer’s Diet: The Ketoflex 12/3
Ketoflex 12/3 emphasizes ketosis (remember our article on fasting!) , which is the body’s process of producing ketone bodies by breaking down fat (instead of glucose from carbs).
Ketosis is optimal for promoting autophagy (cellular self-cleansing process) and decreases insulin resistance (linked to diabetes and AD).
Unsurprisingly then, the Ketoflex diet is a low-carbohydrate diet with a 12 hour (minimum) fast between dinner and breakfast the next day. Hence the “12”.
The “3” is the 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime. Bredesen recommends stopping eating at least 3 hours before going to bed to prevent insulin spikes pre-bedtime. Insulin spikes contribute to insulin resistance and inhibition of melatonin and growth hormone, two naturally occurring hormones that help you sleep.
As Dr. Bredesen explains, Ketoflex 12/3 is “a largely plant-based diet with an emphasis on vegetables, especially nonstarchy ones. It is best to include uncooked vegetables, such as those in salads, and cooked ones, and to include as many colors as possible, from deep green to bright yellow and orange. Some fish, poultry, and meat are fine, but remember that meat is a condiment, not a main course” (1).
Alzheimer’s Diet Details
To get into the specifics of the diet:
- fruit juices (esp. sugary fruits like mango/papaya
- gluten/dairy (cause leaky gut = leads to inflammation)
- processed foods (full of vegetable oils )
- organic fruits (fruits with lowest glycemic index are wild berries, lemons, avocados, etc)
- healthy fats (avocado/MCT/olive oil)
- non-starchy vegetables
- low glycemic, detoxifying vegetables include broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, cilantro, cabbage, turnips, avocados, beets, brussel sprouts, etc.
- prebiotics and probiotics (from saukerkraut, kombucha, or probiotic supplements)
- fish (good for omega-3’s, bad for mercury exposure
- if eating fish, avoid long-living, large-mouthed fish like sharks, swordfish, and tuna
- fish (good for omega-3’s, bad for mercury exposure
- Additional details:
- Bredesen encourages fiber consumption before any carb eating. As he explains, “eating fiber is a powerful way to reduce blood sugar – the carbohydrate absorption if curtailed and the optimal microbiome is supported” (2).
- eating between a teaspoon and tablespoon of MCT or coconut oil will enhance ketosis
- If you’re having cravings during a fast, take to either of these oils first.
This is just one part of many within the Ketoflex 12/3 diet. By no means does this outline the entire Ketoflex diet. To get the fullest sense, we recommend reading Dr. Bredesen’s The End of Alzheimers in its entirety!
Importantly, we don’t see much deviation between Bredesen’s Ketoflex 12/3 diet and our Health & Life Diet. The similarities lie in the diets’ emphasis: low carbs/sugar, avoiding processed foods, and plenty of leafy greens. The more important point is that most “transformations from diet adjustments” really just come from three changes in one’s life: 1) eating unprocessed/anti-inflammatory foods 2) avoiding sugar/processed grains and 3) implementing exercise routines along with the diet changes.
While the protocol is technically designed for those experiencing or nearing cognitive decline, the diet is by no means only applicable to an individual with that profile. Following the Ketoflex 12/3 or parts of it will surely optimize your cognitive function regardless of your current cognitive standing. As Bredesen explains too, the later you start, the harder it is to reverse cognitive decline.
It looks like consensus has been reached on fasting’s benefits, and the importance of eating anti-inflammatory foods/
Incorporating fasting into your diet, whether through a daily 12-16 hr fast, or a 2x weekly 24 hr fast, is likely to enhance your physical and cognitive function, and longevity in general.
Eating foods with anti-inflammatory omega-3’s (hence our article on fish oil! ) restores the omega 3:omega 6 balance and lessens your chances of getting a leaky gut, which can lead to inflammation.
Killing Ourselves to Be Healthier?
Finally, it’s necessary to address the irony in all this. All these guidelines (wait till you see the entire ReCODE protocol) are supposed to make us healthier, but what about the stress from implementing these new and unusual eating routines/habits?
As with any new habit, encoding a new behavior will require some practice, but eventually it becomes normal. Additionally, using trial and error will help you focus on the most value-adding habits and get rid of the low value-add habits that take time out of your day. You’ll realize certain healthy habits, like optimizing your Vitamin D levels (Bredesen recommends at least 2500 IU daily), improve your cognitive function more than others, like taking magnesium supplements before bedtime.
- Bredesen, Dale. The End of Alzheimer’s. 2017.