According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 50 million cases of Alzheimer’s globally, including 7.5 million in Europe and 5 million in North America. Those numbers are expected to double over the next 30 years. There is currently no cure.
Diet And Dementia
Can following a specific diet or eating particular foods help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s and it’s accompanying dementia? A growing number of scientific studies suggest that our diet does indeed affect an aging brain’s ability to think and recall information. These initial studies have led to additional research concerning the ketogenic diet and how it may help delay Alzheimer’s patients.
What Is A Keto Diet?
The ketogenic or “Keto Diet” strictly reduces the carbohydrates your body uses to produce energy. Instead, you will eat a very high-fat diet which forces your body to metabolize and burn fat as fuel. This fat-burning process known as ketosis occurs in your liver and produces a fatty acid byproduct known as ketones.
Your Brain Loves Ketones
In the early 1920s, the ketogenic diet was developed by Dr. Russell Wilder to treat epilepsy in children. His high-fat diet proved beneficial in reducing or eliminating epileptic seizures thanks to ketones and their ability to repair or improve neural pathways. Ketones also supply cholesterol, which helps repair damaged neurons and brain tissues, enhancing memory and brain function in Alzheimer’s patients.
Your brain is usually fueled by glucose (sugar), over time, a constant supply of sugar can cause complications similar to those found in diabetics. Your brain’s cells can become insulin resistant and are then unable to absorb and use glucose properly. This insulin resistance leads to brain inflammation (swelling) which can cause blockages, “tangled” neurons, and memory loss. Studies show that insulin resistance and Type II diabetes significantly increase your risk for Alzheimer’s.
The ketones produced by a Keto Diet protect (and may even repair) brain cells by reducing the inflammation caused by high glucose and insulin resistance. Ketones and a ketogenic diet may also help patients who suffer from migraine headaches and Parkinson’s disease.
Will A Keto Diet Cure Alzheimer’s?
While there are a growing number of scientific studies detailing the positive effects of a Keto Diet and ketones in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, it is too soon to say that Keto is a cure. However, there is encouraging support. According to Dr. Mary Newport, a recognized expert in dementia and brain health (as published in The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies ), “It is possible, with the introduction of ketones in the body, that some repair and reversal occurs in Alzheimer’s. It seems likely that ketones can stimulate the growth and survival of neurons and the extension from neurons (axons and dendrites), thereby increasing the connections between brain cells (synapses). The decrease in synaptic density is likely the primary pathological defect in Alzheimer’s disease”.