HOLISTIC HEALTH - September 2019
The End of Alzheimer’s
by Nancy Russell, M.D
The End of Alzheimer’s, The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline, a book by James Breseden, M.D., presents an integrative, functional medicine approach to preventing and reversing memory loss. David Perlmutter, M.D. says of this book, “Dr Bredesen completely recontextualizes this devastating condition away from a mysterious and unsolvable process to one that is both preventable and yes, reversible. Mark Hyman, M.D. says, “The End of Alzheimer’s, for the first time, synthesizes the latest science into a practical plan that can reverse Alzheimer’s and dramatically improve brain health and function. If you have a brain, read this book!”
Dr. Bredesen describes three different medical reasons that memory loss begins to affect a person. These three categories include: 1) inflammation and hidden infections, 2) nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances and 3) toxicity to the brain.
The first medical reason of inflammation relates to what we put into our bodies and how the body deals with infections.
Inflammatory foods consist of trans fats, processed foods, and most importantly, sugar. Excess sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. All three of those issues increase the risk of memory loss.
Hidden, or not so hidden infections cause inflammation. Some examples are gingivitis, reactivated Epstein Barr virus, and gut infections such as candida yeast, parasites, or bacterial overgrowth.
Tests to assess for inflammation include: hs-CRP, homocysteine, omega three index, fasting insulin, hemoglobin A1c, cholesterol, food sensitivity testing, and stool tests for infections.
If you are starting to have problems with memory or cognitive issues, an individual assessment can be found online; MoCA or Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Other tests to assess brain function include MRI of the brain with volumetrics, PET scans (positron-emission tomography), and possibly an EEG or spinal tap to obtain spinal fluid. Sleep apnea also needs to be ruled out as this not only increases your risk for memory loss but also heart attack and stroke.
The second type of memory loss is due to nutrient deficiencies and hormone imbalances. The most important nutrients to have assessed are Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin D, magnesium, Zinc, Copper, and selenium. The most important hormones to be assessed are cortisol, DHEA-sulfate, pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Discuss with a functional medicine provider as to the best sources to replace any deficiencies.
The third type of memory loss is related to toxic exposures. The most common exposures are lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. These toxins can be assessed with special laboratories using urine with oral chelation assist or blood tests. Fish and amalgum (silver) dental fillings are the most common sources of mercury.
Dr Bredesen touts the anti-Alzheimer’s diet as the ketoflex 12/3. This nutritional plan presents well rounded, delicious meals that can be followed whether you are a vegetarian or omnivore. The first part of the ketoflex 12/3 plan refers to ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your liver produces specific chemicals called ketone bodies by breaking down fat. This occurs when you are running low on carbohydrates, your body’s first source of energy. Mild ketosis, it turns out, is optimal for cognitive function: beta-hydroxybutyrate increases production of the important neuron and synapse-supporting molecule BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), among other effects.
To promote ketosis, combine a low-carbohydrate diet (minimizing simple carbs such as sugars, candy, cakes, and processed foods), moderate exercise (at least 150 minutes per week of brisk walking or something more vigorous), and fasting for a least 12 hours between your last meal of the night and your first of the next morning. Consuming fats such as MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides oil) or unsaturated fats such as olive oil or avocado or nuts will also promote mild ketosis. This will switch your metabolism from carbohydrate-burning and insulin resistance, which promotes Alzheimer’s disease, to fat burning and insulin sensitive, which helps prevent it.
The flex in ketoflex 12/3 refers to a flexitarian diet. This is largely a plant-based diet with an emphasis on vegetables, especially non-starchy ones. Some fish, poultry and meat are fine, but remember that meat is a condiment, not the main course. A rule of thumb is to consume one gram of protein for each kilogram of your weight. The 12/3 part of the ketoflex 12/3 refers to fasting times. Fasting is a highly effective way to induce ketosis, improve insulin sensitivity, and thereby enhance cognition. In addition to having the 12 hour fast each day, the three is for three hours as the minimum time between the end of your dinner and bedtime. That will keep your insulin level from spiking before bedtime, something that can contribute not only to insulin resistance but also to the inhibition of melatonin and growth hormone, which aid in sleep and immune function, as well as repair.
The earlier you start treatment, the greater chance for complete reversal and greater chance of prevention. Change your life and change your health today.
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Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.
Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is www.nancyrussellmd.com where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.