Looking for Drug-Free Help for Alzheimers? Today I'll share some HOPE!
Last month at the Weston Price Foundation/Wise Traditions conference in Minneapolis, Amy Berger's talk on Alzheimer's got a well-deserved standing ovation. She wrote The Alzheimer's Antidote, and I'm sharing my notes from her talk today. If you're like me, however, and Alzheimer's has hit close to home, you'll want to get her book for all the details.
This dreaded disease seems to have touched almost everyone somehow — they say the healthcare costs are heading into the trillions by 2050. Yep, that's trillions. An “equal opportunity destroyer”, as Amy says, and an “economic tsunami” — trust me when I say that it's also an emotional tsunami for the families living through this nightmare.
After you read through below, I'll let you know what Kent's already been doing to hopefully prevent getting it like his Dad did… There's SO much we can do now that no one tells us and it's not in the media!
Take a look through these notes, Amy Berger will give you HOPE…
- Alzheimer's used to be a disease that people's grandparents got or spouses in their 80's or 90's, but no longer. Now it affects people in their 50's and 60's.
- The reason it's striking younger and younger is because, at least so far, there's nothing we can do about it. The standard of care is that there IS no standard of care. “Get your affairs in order, and good luck.”
There IS something we can do, we are not helpless, clueless, or powerless.
- There are no effective pharmaceutical drugs. The ones on the market for Alzheimer's do NOTHING.
- Diet and lifestyle play a role , maybe even a primary role, in diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension, but when it comes to Alzheimer's we throw our hands up, “This could't possibly be a diet and lifestyle disease, the same as those other conditions are.”
- But it is a metabolic condition!
- Drug-Free Help for Alzheimers is where the answers are.
Alzheimer's has to do with the way the brain produces and uses energy.
- Your brain uses about 25% of all your body's glucose and about 25% of all your body's oxygen, so anything that interrupts that fuel source is going to be a problem.
- Alzheimer's is a fuel shortage in the brain.
- Myelin surrounds and insulates our neurons. To make myelin we need a LOT of fat, cholesterol and vitamin B12.
- The way something is built determines what it does and its functioning. If a brain has a fuel shortage and loses energy, it messes up the synapses in the brain which leads to all the symptoms we see in Alzheimer's disease.
- We can measure brain shrinkage in Alzheimer's.
- The predominant fatty acid in the brain is DHA, a long chain omega-3, part of the cell membrane.
- The brain is loaded with cholesterol.
- The brain accounts for 2% of our body weight and contains 25% of the cholesterol in the body, that's how important cholesterol is.
- Cell membranes need the right fats, cholesterol keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.
- Any structure can become sticky and not work anymore, with Alzheimer's it's sticky inside the mitochondria.
- Also mitochondria can have oxidative stress build up from damaged fatty acids.
- It's only problematic when they overwhelm the body's ability to handle it, if it's happening all of the time.
Alzheimer's is regularly referred to in scientific literature now as Type 3 Diabetes.
- The predominant abnormality in the Alzheimer's brain is a reduction in cerebral glucose metabolism. Glucose is our primary fuel, so if the brain can't use this fuel, it's a serious crisis. A 45% reduction means the brain uses 45% less energy than normal — if this happens, might they become forgetful, get lost, forget faces?
- It's now widely acknowledged that brain hypo-metabolism accompanies Alzheimer's.
- This has been in the medical journals for decades.
- AD (Alzheimer's disease) is progressive, it gets worse over time. At first there is mild cognitive impairment, at the beginning it only affects certain areas in the brain, the short-term memory and learning areas. They can remember things they memorized from 3rd grade but not what they had for breakfast. Over time it gets worse and they can't even care for themselves as it affects the whole brain.
- Brain changes can be seen years before dementia onset. By the time they're showing symptoms this has been brewing for years, if not decades. It's observable on a PET scan in their 30's-40's, even when still asymptomatic, the brain can still compensate when they're young.
The time to think about prevention is NOW.
- The problem with how Type 2 Diabetes is diagnosed: they only measure fasting blood sugar, A1C hemoglobin, or an oral glucose tolerance test, where you drink the sick glucose syrup and test your blood after.
- No where is there anything about insulin. Without exaggeration, there are millions who are walking around with normal blood glucose, but sky-high insulin. Blood sugar is being kept in check by high insulin.
High glucose is contributing to AD but even more it's high insulin: “It's the insulin stupid!”
- Just ask your doc for a fasting insulin test.
- This should be a standard part of routine blood work! If it was, it'd be a game-changer. So many think they're normal, but nobody is checking insulin!
- Signs and symptoms you have an insulin problem EVEN if BS (blood sugar) is normal: Skinny arms and legs and beach ball abdomen. Also called, “wheat belly” or “insulin pouch”.
- PSOS is called, “diabetes of the ovaries” = high insulin. (Related post: Infertility and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – Excerpt from Nina Planck’s New Book.)
High blood pressure has almost nothing to do with how much salt you eat!!!
- High BP is the kidneys holding on to more water because of high insulin. (Have you seen this one? How We Got Kent OFF Blood Pressure Medication.)
- Gout has almost nothing to do with too much protein, it's high insulin.
- Skin tags are a dead giveaway for too much insulin.
- Erectile dysfunction and benign prostate hyperplasia/enlarged prostate = hyper insulin.
- Insulin is a growth promoter: growth of prostate, skin tags, ovarian cysts, and possibly cancer.
- AD is driven in part by glucose but much more by insulin. Insulin resistance may be an AD marker even before a diagnosis.
- High insulin is a risk factor for AD regardless of genes or family.
- The ApoE4 AD gene. You can develop AD even with NO copies of this gene. And if you even have 2 copies, that by itself is not enough to cause it!
- This gene mixed with refined carbs increase chances of AD.
Genes are not a death sentence, they are only risk factors.
- That gene is only bad with a high carb diet, which is bad anyway. Those with that gene are LEAST suited to high carb intake.
- You often hear about a “build up of amyloid plaques causing AD”. Amayloid is a protein secreted by neurons, and it's a normal process if it's cleared away properly, in AD the amaloid is not cleared away properly.
- Many die with AD who do NOT have significant plaque. Others die without AD and DO have lots of plaque.
- Every drug to decrease plaques has been a massive failure.
Drugs are about as effective for amyloid reduction in getting rid of AD as statins are for getting rid of heart disease.
- Amyloid is protective in the same way that cholesterol is protective to damaged arteries! Just like the fireman analogy. (Wherever there is fire, there are firemen, therefore the fire must be caused by the firemen…? Wherever there is inflammation in the arteries there is cholesterol, so the inflammation must be caused by the cholesterol… NOPE. It's protective and there to heal.)
- Amyloid reduces the use of glucose in the brain, it's not caused by plaque.
- You'll also see amyloid in traumatic brain injuries because it's protective. It directs glucose toward other pathways in the brain that are restorative, regenerative and reparative.
- So they got rid of the amyloid and people get worse.
- We need to stop funneling money and energy and effort toward this failed hypothesis.
- New theory: Mitochondrial cascade hypothesis — it's an energy crisis in the brain.
- What else could contribute to this disease? There's a lot, she'll focus on 2…
- Prevalent among elders: popping antacids like candy. Rx antacids were never intended to be longterm drugs. They deliberately impair the way we absorb nutrients. It cuts digestion off at the knees.
- Statins, the drug we all love to hate.
You can't eat enough liver, butter or egg yolks to make up for the cholesterol deficiency caused by a statin.
- Stains cause memory loss, confusion, and an increased risk for type II diabetes.
- FDA still thinks the benefits outweigh the risk of memory problems.
“Congrats Mrs. Williams, you have the lowest cholesterol in the memory ward.”
- Memory issues go away when people go off the statin. Statins also cause muscle aches, fatigue, loss of libido.
- When someone has low cholesterol, she says, “What's wrong here? There's a problem.”
- “Calling this (statins to lower cholesterol) the biggest blunder in the history of medicine is not overstating the case.”
If AD is like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and driven by diet and lifestyle, there's a diet and lifestyle FIX.
- It's an energy crisis, a fuel shortage, so we need an alternative fuel source, a backdoor way of feeding these cells: the brain can run on several different types of fuels: ketones are another energy source when someone can't use glucose properly! (This is different from the dangerous diabetic keto-acidosis that can develop in type I diabetics.)
- Note that very advanced dementia patients don't respond as well as someone with a milder form of memory loss, but if they get their ketones elevated, they have more cognition.
- Almost any cell can use ketones, the brain loves it, it's like jet fuel for the brain.
- We make ketones via low-carb diet. They are produced when insulin is very low.
- Insulin inhibits ketone production.
- Likely our ancestors did this naturally, it was a survival tool.
- Our modern diet is “keto-deficient”.
- The clinical trials are remarkable.
- Coconut oil / MCT oil, these are not direct sources of ketones, but those fats are easily converted into ketones. They are a brain booster.
- Exogenous ketones — usually a powder, she likes but doesn't like. For the elderly or those with advanced AD, they won't change their diet, so these can be a godsend. They can help cognition, but only as a short-term bandaid.
- Primary thing causing AD is what we're eating, that's the primary fix.
- Anti-AD diet = delicious food! No shakes, potions, pills. Real food, preferably from local farmer. Get quality meats (find safe, pastured meats here if you don't have a local farm option). Eat healthy fats, not just the politically correct fats like salmon and olive oil –include in your diet fats like lard, tallow, ghee, coconut oil, full fat dairy, preferably raw organic if you can, oh and a glass of wine never hurt anybody. (Yep, she said it!)
Do we ALL need to do a ketogenic diet?!
- A ketogenic diet is not required for everyone, the type of intervention for prevention is not the same as if it's already happening.
- Once there are the obvious signs of being unable to properly metabolize glucose, I see no reason to give them more of it, even if it's the best soaked beans or sourdough or overnight oatmeal.
- I'm not demonizing these foods or carbs across the board. Strawberries and lentils and parsnips are not causing AD, but there's a huge difference between those carbs and poptarts and sugary breakfast cereals.
- Once someone's brain is already so compromised that they can't metabolize that fuel anymore (glucose), why still give it to them?
- On the other hand, if you are healthy, young and robust and cognitive function is intact, then you don't need to give it up carbs to potentially prevent this, what IS required is maintaining good blood glucose and insulin control. We're all different in the degree of carb consumption that allow us to do that.
- Some can eat diets with 150-200 grams of carbs each day and not have a problem, a lot of us can't. Some of us have to stay under 100, some under 50, some under 30-40, some have to lower carbs for a certain period and slowly reintroduce to see how you do.
Some may need to reduce carbs for a period of time, then slowly reintroduce, everyone is different.
- All over the world Weston Price found healthy populations that aged with their minds intact who did not eat a ketogenic diet, so you don't have to live in ketosis to potentially ward this off, BUT the high carb populations, what were they not eating? They weren't eating the sugar we eat, even if they ate a lot of grain, it was probably soaked, sprouted or fermented, the grains were probably ground fresh and baked into bread so the vitamin E and other nutrients were still intact. They weren't combining it with these high polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and there were many other factors.
If I didn't think there was hope I wouldn't be here.
- If people had not regrown some of their brain volume, I wouldn't be here telling you about this, or if people were not having documented results with coconut oil, with ketogenic diets, we wouldn't be talking about this.
I'm sorry you had to hear this from me, you should be hearing this from your neurologist, from your geriatric specialist, and from the Alzheimers Association, but what we get from them is crickets, you get silence!
Questions & Answers:
- Can cholesterol be too high? “Lot of things can cause it, high insulin, hypothyroidism. Dave Feldman at CholesterolCode.com is making incredible discoveries about cholesterol, and even with those of you here who are already not afraid of cholesterol, we can be even less afraid! If someone has low insulin, low glucose, they're in great shape, just high cholesterol, we don't know yet what that means, I personally don't think anything is wrong with it, unless you can identify a specific pathology that is causing it. High cholesterol isn't a disease. Get a Coronary Artery Calcium test. The CAC test actually measures the calcification in the arteries to see if there's actually any problems there.”
- Can you overload on ketones? “No, it's very hard to get them too high unless it's diabetic keto-acidosis with Type 1 diabetics. For others, even if on a very low-carb diet, you'll still have some insulin that keeps the ketones from going too high.”
- Have you seen the studies linking light to AD? “Circadian disruption is a huge risk factor for AD. And also for metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes. Good sleep is important for hyper insulinemia (high insulin). Insulin degrading enzymes and some of the other processes that clear proteins out of the brain are more active when we sleep, they have a diurnal pattern, so if you don't get enough sleep, your “trash” doesn't get taken out well enough. Low-carb diet is best for blood sugar/lowering insulin, but also: chromium, berberine, exercise, and proper sleep.”
- For the fasting insulin test, what is a normal level? “Don't go by the normal lab reference range. We want optimal not “normal”: under 10 is best. Under 5 even better for fasting insulin. If fasting insulin is in the double digits, you have a problem with insulin. Even if fasting level is normal though, you could still have elevated insulin throughout the day. For the most part if your fasting insulin is fine, you're probably fine, unless you have hypertension, gout, PSOS, obesity, etc., then you probably have high insulin throughout the day.”
- How do you eat enough vegetables and still stay low-carb? “I'm going to say something highly controversial… I don't think vegetables are as important as we think they are, the nutrients we need for the brain, DHA, zinc, iron, it's all from animal foods! When talking about hyper insulinemia, the main thing is to keep the carbs low. I don't stress or go out of my way to eat a ton of vegetables each day. We all vary at what carbs we can eat and still be ketogenic.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride said that some of her toughest GAPS patients do best with zero vegetables, it's like heresy but it works!”
- What to do about low-carb flu, or not feeling well after starting this diet? “Low carb flu happens sometimes because for most people it's a dramatic change in diet. Just need to get over the hump. It's a withdrawal from sugar. The body needs to ramp up the machinery to make ketones. Make sure eating coconut oil and lots of salt to help prevent electrolyte imbalance. Low carb diets need extra salt because it radically changes how the kidneys hold on to minerals. Not only is it okay to eat salt, people on a low-carb diet need more of it! Just remember that EVERYTHING “they” told us about nutrition is wrong! Saturated fats are good, it's okay to eat red meat and pork, low-carb diets are good, and salt is good for us!”
- Is there anyone who cannot do a low-carb diet? “Only if you have an issue with fatty acid metabolism, but you'd know this since infancy.”
- Are you familiar with the China Study? “The China Study makes a lot of leaps it shouldn't make. It doesn't look at healthy populations all over the world who eat healthy animal foods and high fat diets and thrive. Go to RawFoodSOS.com, Denise Minger debunked the heck out of the China Study.”
There's another book called “The End of Alzheimer's” that covers some of the above along with more lifestyle issues related to AD like reducing stress, brain stimulation, exercise and a whole list of other important factors. I'm a bit leery of this author's advice though because on his site where the dietary recommendations are, he says, “It is unclear whether plant saturated fats like those in coconut oil are safe for ApoE4 individuals. While they include healthful medium chain saturated fats, they also include long chain saturated fats, too much of which may raise LDL cholesterol.” I'm sure there is a lot of very good info in his book, but I just wish he'd read Amy's book for the info on cholesterol!
What Kent has been doing to hopefully prevent Alzheimer's…
As I said above, Alzheimer's hit close to home when Kent's Dad was diagnosed, so obviously we've been researching this for years. As much as his super-disciplined Marine Corp personality drives me crazy sometimes, mostly I'm thankful for it because once he decides he's going to do something, he'll do it for the REST of his life, without fail, NOT kidding. So here's what he's been doing:
- Keeping in shape — he walks a few miles 5 days/week.
- Taking supplements (Cod liver oil daily for omega-3's and the anti-inflammatory effect, vitamin K2 because it can help fight off dementia and boost brain health, and probiotics to build up his overall immune system, along with the supplements that he takes since we got him off his blood pressure meds.)
- And recently he began fasting, as in eating only one meal a day for 3 days a week, after I read this book and told him all about it. More on that soon in my second post about fasting, here's my first one about an article by Sally Fallon Morell: Purge, Splurge, Fast and Last—4 Steps to Lose Weight and Restore Health (Benefits of Fasting Part 1).
So after I heard this talk I excitedly told him, “You're already putting yourself into a state of ketosis by fasting 3 days a week!” I still want us both to have our fasting insulin checked, though. Him because I want to see if his fasting schedule is working, and me because diabetes is so prevalent in my family as I explained more about here.
I'll keep you updated!
More Related Posts:
- Why Kent Takes a Spoonful of Coconut Oil Every Morning (+ Coconut Oil Benefits and Which Coconut Oil is Best)