A healthy diet is necessary to keep the extra pounds off the body, and it is also great for optimal brain function. “Feeding” the brain is equally important when choosing nutrients on a daily basis. The ketogenic diet (which feeds the brain) is showing promising results for improved cognitive function, even in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Slowing & Reversing Memory Loss
Research studies show the ketogenic diet potentially slows (and reverses) the symptoms related to memory loss and cognitive deficiencies in each stage of dementia. The keto diet is one which is higher in fat with adequate amounts of protein along with low-carb intake. Individuals following this diet will develop ketones in the body which produce needed energy. Ketones are known to be “neuroprotective” helping the brain to slow the aging process.
Many researchers have labeled Alzheimer’s as “type-3” diabetes due to its relationship to blood sugar disorders. Research studies reveal a strong link between the two. Patients in this “type-3 category” are faced with memory loss issues and cognitive impairments.
The Cancer Connection
In the past, scientists have believed most cancers result from genetics until recently. Research results now show cancer mostly occurs in individuals with metabolic disease (which includes insulin resistance). According to Dr. D’Agostino, only five to ten percent (5-10%) of cancers are a result of genetics.
Metabolic disease is a process within the body which interferes with normal metabolism (converting food into energy). The “powerhouse” of each cell is known as the mitochondria; they generate needed energy.
In individuals who ingest large amounts of carbohydrates (glucose), blood sugar levels rise. In a healthy individual, insulin will respond to the increased levels by regulating the usage of energy. When higher levels of insulin are released into the blood stream over time, the body becomes “resistant.”
When the body does not respond appropriately to the need for higher levels of insulin, the individual can develop “insulin resistance.” High blood glucose levels in the bloodstream cannot be removed sufficiently, and the excess is converted to fat. Long-term damage can also occur in various organ systems of the body in individuals with insulin resistance.
In Dr. Riboli’s studies, a connection is seen between cancer risk and insulin resistance within patients. Those with continued insulin resistance have an increased risk of developing:
- Breast cancer (late onset)
- Colon cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Cancer of the kidneys
- Endometrial cancer
Concurrent studies conducted by Dr. Fettke reveal cancer growth is tied to the metabolism of glucose in the individual. If an individual does not consume a sufficient amount of glucose, the cancer cells will die. In other words, the cancer needs sugar to grow and survive.
The American Diet
The American diet includes eating a large number of breads, sweets, cereals, potatoes, grains, and desserts. The body is not fashioned to handle the high consumption of these foods. Therefore, obesity is ever increasing at alarming rates. Additional consequences of the diet include blood sugar inconsistencies, memory challenges, and diminishing health.
The Ketogenic Diet Basics
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet which includes higher amounts of fats. This diet is very similar to the Banting diet, but only includes 25 grams of carbs or less. This regime is successful in treating patients with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Seyfried terms the dietary method as a “single metabolic approach” to improve health in individuals with various disease processes.
In the ketogenic diet, keeping the carb limit to 25 grams or less will bring the body from burning carbs to burning fat. Ketones are created when the body breaks fatty acids down in the liver (which are needed for energy). Ketosis results which also “signals” the body is burning fat stores for energy.
For patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ongoing memory issues, changes in the diet can bring much-improved health. Consider the following suggestions:
- Remove starchy carbs, grains, and all sweeteners from the diet.
- Limit fruit intake (berries are lower in sugar and contain more antioxidants).
- Add enough dietary protein to the daily regime choosing from high-quality, nutrition-dense sources.
- Include non-starchy vegetables (nutrient-dense) with meals.
- Eat a sufficient amount of dietary fats for energy and to prevent hunger.
- Avoid fats which are hydrogenated; avoid vegetable oils (many are high in omega-6)
Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Foods eaten on the ketogenic diet should be of high-quality and free from hormones, chemicals, and pesticides. They should also not be genetically modified. The following items should be avoided at all costs:
- Fast foods
- Processed foods
- Processed meats
- Toxic oils
- Carbonated drinks
Foods which Fight Cancer
Including foods which naturally fight cancer is essential to optimal health. They are also great for the ketogenic diet.
Organic Tomatoes – Lycopene is a cancer-fighting antioxidant which gives this fruit bright red coloring. Cooking enhances the properties found in lycopene. Studies in Nutrition & Cancer found endometrial cell growth stopped when including lycopene in the diet.
Berries – Berries contain ellagic acid which is thought to inhibit the growth of tumors. Darker berries are better than lighter berries.
Garlic – Garlic is an effective neutralizer of free radicals and contains selenium. In research studies, selenium is shown to reduce cancers nearly by one-fourth. Garlic also contains phytochemicals which fight against the formation of nitrosamines (carcinogens) in the stomach.
Turmeric – Turmeric contains curcumin which is a powerful substance known to fight oxidants and inflammation. Research studies published in Cancer Research UK reveal its ability to prevent and halt cancer cells, including breast cancer, stomach cancer, skin cancer, and bowel cancer.
Aubergine – Aubergine is rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins. They are understood to fight against cancer, inflammation, neuro-related diseases, and the aging process.
Mushrooms – These contain amino acid ergothioneine which holds anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Mushrooms can also boost the immune system.
Chilies – Capsaicin is found in chilies which provide spicy flavor. The ingredient is also a natural anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, and anti-carcinogen.
Cruciferous Vegetables – This includes some of the following veggies: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, and spinach. Each of these have powerful anti-carcinogens which naturally fight cancer. Broccoli contains sulforaphane which is potent, boosting the body’s enzyme protection and it is known to “flush out” cancer causing chemicals.
Ideas for dietary protein include meats (organic, grass-fed), pasteurized eggs, and wild-caught fish. Be aware dairy protein may cause inflammation within the body and may not be the best choice.
Vegetable oils which should be avoided include soy, safflower, corn, canola, and sunflower. In place of these oils, consider trying olive oil, coconut oil, or medium-chain triglyceride (MTC) oil. MTC is a wonderful addition to the ketogenic diet as the body’s liver converts the oil to ketones. Butter, ghee (which is better), and heavy cream can be used in cooking.