This post will take a look at what exactly Alzheimer’s disease is and how Keto can positively influence the symptoms Alzheimer’s in potentially reducing the risk of illness.
There is still so much about the brain and brain disorders that aren’t entirely understood. One of these puzzling things is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is one of the most significant disorders that impair the lives of people in their old age.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Here are the basic facts about Alzheimer’s disease:
- Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that is progressive and irreversible and is mostly the cause of dementia in older people.
- Alzheimer’s disease negatively affects all skills related to thinking and memory, and soon easy tasks become difficult to perform. Alzheimer’s symptoms usually show up in a person’s mid-60s.
- The disease is earmarked by the loss of connection between neurons in the brain, sending different messages between all the various parts of the body.
Unfortunately, there is still no definitive cure or prevention available for Alzheimer’s disease. But let’s look at what potential causes these symptoms?
What Causes of Alzheimer’s?
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unexplained. Popular suggestions include various potential lifestyle, genetic, and environmental reasons for the condition. Metabolic dysfunction is most commonly often introduced as a critical factor. Improvements to metabolic health could show potential hope.
The brain’s inability to use glucose effectively leading to a “starvation” of the brain points to early signs associated with Alzheimer’s. It is here where ketosis might have significant benefit for those at risk of developing the debilitating disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Ketosis
The Ketogenic Diet was designed initially to lessen seizures in children with epilepsy, another neurodegenerative disorder of the brain. An alternative treatment, fasting (hyperlink to Guide to Intermittent Fasting), was used for epilepsy patients who weren’t responding well to the required medication. Ketosis brought about by fasting, or a ketogenic diet provides the body and brain with an alternative fuel source to glucose, namely ketones.
The ketogenic diet helped patients to “fast” the body of glucose without starving themselves by not eating. Researchers then started exploring if ketosis could help with other brain disorders in where glucose metabolism plays a role, like with Alzheimer’s disease.
Insulin is the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood; let’s look at the correlation between insulin and Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Glucose
We know now that insulin resistance plays a significant role in mental deterioration. That is why some scientists referred to Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes” because it could be seen as a late-stage of type 2 diabetes, characterised by a lack of insulin. Type 2 diabetes can, therefore, be a leading indicator of approaching mental deterioration.
Research has also recently revealed a molecular link between Alzheimer’s disease and blood glucose. This then strongly suggests that mitigating or even reversing the symptoms of blood sugar-related disorders might be beneficial in defending the brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Fortunately being in ketosis increases insulin sensitivity, resulting in decreased blood glucose levels and also eliminated significant spikes in blood sugar due to the strictly managing carbohydrate intake.
Can Ketosis help with Mental Decline?
There have been many studies done showing how a state of ketosis can provide benefit for patients who are cognitively impaired:
- In a study, a placebo or medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) were administered to 20 patients who had Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. Ketone levels were increased in those given the MCT within 90 minutes. The higher amounts of ketone levels associated with more significant improvements in memory .
- A longer and more substantial study was done about five years later with 152 patients who had mild Alzheimer’s. All the patients taking a ketogenic compound showed improvements in cognition 45 days later .
- Ketones by themselves have been shown to be neuroprotective , which is a significant benefit when it comes to prevention of mental decline over time.
Furthermore, diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammation, and other poor health signs are all significant risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. These conditions that can all be addressed with a well-planned high-fat and low-carb ketogenic diet.
Alzheimer’s, Your Genetics and Ketosis
It is worth noting that the benefits ketosis might offer for the brain may depend on individual genetics. In the above-mentioned studies, the cognitive advances only reflected in the patients who did not have the ApoE4 allele, which is a known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and were shown for longer and at stronger rates for those without this allele.
Can Alzheimer’s be slowed and Reversed?
Just like heart disease can be reversed through diet, there is great hope for slowing or reversing symptoms of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s should risk factors be identified and addressed early enough. A keto-diet that’s healthy and anti-inflammatory is a good place to start.
Other Ways to Protect Your Brain
There are additional ways to help protect your brain beside a keto-diet:
- Eating whole foods that are also low-glycemic. Eliminate all sugars, carbs, processed foods, alcohol, and inflammatory omega-6 rich processed oils, while substituting them with beneficial fats like low-carb nuts, avocados, grass-fed meats, and high-quality oils.
- Use Omega-3-rich fats like extra-virgin olive oil, wild fatty fish, and flaxseeds for brain health and reducing inflammation.
- Pursue an active lifestyle. Physical activity has been shown to prevent and slow down brain diseases and continuing cognitive decline.
- Quality sleep is imperative – at least eight hours a night. Continued lack of quality sleep has been linked to cognitive dysfunction among other problems.
- Practice mindfulness. Stress is an added thing that is detrimental to your brain and your body over time. Include calming practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing into your life to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Challenge yourself. The brain needs to be challenged, like doing a crossword puzzle or staying mentally engaged at your job, this releases norepinephrine, a hormone that some researchers believe may help slow the decline of the brain.
 Reger, Mark A., Samuel T. Henderson, Cathy Hale, Brenna Cholerton, Laura D. Baker, G.s. Watson, Karen Hyde, Darla Chapman, and Suzanne Craft. “Effects of Î²-hydroxybutyrate on Cognition in Memory-impaired Adults.” Neurobiology of Aging 25.3 (2004): 311-14. Web. 15 June 2017.
 Henderson, Samuel T., Janet L. Vogel, Linda J. Barr, Fiona Garvin, Julie J. Jones, and Lauren C. Costantini. “Study of the Ketogenic Agent AC-1202 in Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Multicenter Trial.” Nutrition & Metabolism 6.1 (2009): 31. Web. 15 June 2017.
 Maalouf, Marwan, Jong M. Rho, and Mark P. Mattson. “The Neuroprotective Properties of Calorie Restriction, the Ketogenic Diet, and Ketone Bodies.” Brain Research Reviews59.2 (2009): 293-315. Web. 15 June 2017.
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is for discussion purposes only. It should in no way be seen as any form of medical advice. Keto Halo assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician for any medical advice.