End Alzheimer’s? Reverse cognitive decline? Dale Bredesen’s new book The End of Alzheimer’s was published just 2 weeks ago and I finished reading it this weekend. I’ll start by stating it is impossible to summarize all the important information in this book so if interested it’s well worth the read.
Dr. Bredesen meticulously outlines the research on brain health and what happens when one has the ApoE4 gene, which increases the risk for Alzheimer’s. Bredesen states Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented, and in many cases its associated cognitive decline can be reversed. This type of statement is quite revolutionary given there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and no new drugs have been approved since 2003 – memanine -which has very modest effects.
Isn’t there just a pill you can give me? Bredesen explains that drugs do not address the physiological etiology of the disease. He states if you have “36 holes in the roof” of your house, a drug could patch one of the holes but will never be able to address the whole roof.
Dr. Bredesen came up with a program he coined ReCODE AKA reversal of cognitive decline – a protocol he developed to stop progression and reverse Alzheimer’s disease. To do the entire protocol is quite a rigorous lifestyle process but if you have the gene and are experiencing symptoms it is well worth your time to consider this type of living.
He has a 3-pronged approach which includes:
- Removing dietary causes of inflammation: sugar, starchy processed carbohydrates, gluten, and trans fat. He states that “sugar is like a fire, a source of energy but very dangerous, and our bodies recognize sugar as poisonous.” He goes on to state a critical part of ReCODE is reducing insulin resistance and increasing insulin sensitivity. Sound familiar? Keeping your carbohydrates healthy and low/controlled is one of the keys to keeping inflammation at bay.
- Optimize hormones, trophic factors and nutrients. What does this mean? Making sure all your hormones are optimized and regularly monitored (thyroid (T3, T4, TSH), estradiol, testosterone, etc. and optimize nutrients like vitamin D (which controls over 900 genes in the body). There is quite a list of things to have checked and supplements that are critically important to add to your regimen.
- Eliminate Toxins in your environment. Eliminating heavy metals like copper, mercury and molds all help with stopping the formation of amyloid plaques, which lead to the disease process. He stresses detoxification with inclusion of foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.).
There are basic lifestyle recommendations such as the importance of daily exercise, sleeping 8 hours per night and stress reduction but he gives the reasons behind making sure you include these from an Alzheimer’s standpoint and keeping the brain as healthy as possible.
He also stresses the importance of at least a 12 hour fast overnight and longer for those who have the gene (14-16 hours). Benefits of fasting include lowering insulin resistance (especially before bedtime which “rests” the pancreas and liver, aids in sleep and immunity), and promotes autophagy in which the cells of the brain destroy damaged proteins and mitochondria which is good for renewal. Finally, he addresses the importance of addressing gut issues like “leaky gut” with probiotics, fermented foods, and digestive enzymes if needed.
Sometimes I feel alone in my crusade with treating insulin resistance, but after reading this book I more than ever realize our high carb processed food diet only leads to inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and – Alzheimer’s. The good news is it is treatable and reversible. The lifestyle changes may seem drastic but the evidence is convincing and can save your mind and cognition and END Alzheimer’s.