The best diet for Alzheimer’s is Dr. Bredesen’s KetoFLEX 12/3 diet, which is a keto diet mixed with metabolic flexibility. It encourages 12-hour fasting periods every day, including at least 3 hours of fasting before bedtime.
This slightly-flexible ketogenic diet can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In the earliest stages of mental decline, an Alzheimer’s diet may even reverse cognitive decline.
This revolutionary diet also encourages 12-hour fasting periods so the body has more time to repair cell damage. Make sure to not eat within 3 hours of going to bed either.
What are the benefits of an Alzheimer’s diet? The benefit of an Alzheimer’s diet is taking control of your own health, based on science. Eating foods like green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, and even an occasional glass of red wine can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
Can Alzheimer’s be reversed with diet? In the earliest stages of cognitive decline, adhering to an Alzheimer’s diet may reverse cognitive decline. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire Alzheimer’s cure. However, we have personally observed patients whose cognitive decline was reversed after making specific lifestyle changes, including changing their diet.
Can dementia be reversed with diet? Advanced dementia cannot be reversed with a healthy diet. However, the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet shows promise in slowing general cognitive decline and early stages of dementia.
Research has also shown the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. This diet is a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet).
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia: What’s the difference?
Both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia involve cognitive decline, but not all dementia patients have Alzheimer’s. Dementia is one of the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by misshapen protein structures in the brain (beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles). Over time, the malformations kill the brain cells they’re in, limiting cognitive function.
Because Alzheimer’s is defined by these microscopic changes in the brain, doctors can’t say for certain whether a person has Alzheimer’s without performing an autopsy.
The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss
- Short attention span
- Struggles with problem-solving and decision-making skills
- Agitation, restlessness, and anxiety
- Difficulty finding the right words when speaking or writing
- Getting lost easily
When a patient starts to develop noticeable symptoms, Alzheimer’s medications may help. However, making diet and lifestyle changes seems to be just as effective, if not more so.
Risk Factors for Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Scientists know that genetics, environment, and lifestyle affect your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Alzheimer’s and dementia risk factors include:
- Age: As you get older, you’re at greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Genetics: If you have a family member with dementia, you are more likely to have dementia, too. Additionally, having certain versions of genes, like apolipoprotein E ε4 (ApoE4), increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
- Education: People with less education have a higher chance of getting Alzheimer’s.
- High risk for cardiovascular disease: The same factors that affect your heart health, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, also increase your Alzheimer’s risk.
- Head trauma: You’re more likely to develop Alzheimer’s if you suffer a head injury that makes you lose consciousness.
- Alcohol abuse: Patients with alcohol-use disorder (alcoholism) are more likely to have impaired cognition and develop Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sleep issues: Older adults who experience constant interrupted sleep experience Alzheimer’s disease more frequently.
- Poor diet: Eating the wrong foods can make it more likely that you’ll develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.
If you want to reduce your dementia and Alzheimer’s risk, the 16 best foods to add to and remove from your diet are:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Prebiotics & probiotics
- Olive oil
- No sugar
- No trans fats
- No grains
- Salt alternatives
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
What is the number one food that fights dementia? Green leafy vegetables are probably the number one food that fights dementia. They have a strong, positive effect on cognitive health.
These vegetables include:
- Romaine lettuce
- Leaf lettuce
- Bok choy
Studies that compared fruit and vegetable intake and cognitive decline found that green leafy vegetables offered the most protection. Leafy greens are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, making them key members of many healthy eating plans like the KetoFLEX diet.
Leafy green vegetables also are high in folate. Concentrations of folate in the blood may predict whether someone will develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Many people take a folate supplement to prevent dementia because of this strong association. However, some recent studies have questioned how accurate these predictions may be.
What foods are good for dementia? The KetoFLEX diet includes many foods that are good for dementia, including:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Healthy fats, like in avocados, nuts, and fish
- Unsweetened green tea
2. Non-Starchy Vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts should be part of your dementia-fighting diet. They are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which is why they’re an important part of diets that support healthy brain aging.
All vegetables are great for the KetoFLEX diet, except those high in starch or highly processed. The deeper the pigment, the better. The more organic and local, the better. Spiced with delicious (zero-carb) herbs and spices? Great!
Inflammation is strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Eat more cruciferous vegetables to fight inflammation and keep your brain healthy.
Fish is another core component of Alzheimer’s and dementia diets like the KetoFLEX diet. Fish offer patients more lean protein and healthy fats.
In case you didn’t know, healthy fats are the cornerstone of fully ketogenic diets. Even though the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet isn’t a strict keto diet, it still relies on healthy fats as your main energy source. This means the healthy fats in fish may prove to be a life-saver.
Research suggests people who eat more fish may experience less cognitive decline as they get older.
Many types of fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, including:
Patients who have Alzheimer’s often have low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Eating omega-3-rich fish may help protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s, and help protect brain function, too.
Fish is a great source of vitamin B12, which can affect brain health as well. Low vitamin B12 levels are associated with cognitive impairment.
There are even some types of dementia that can be reversed by taking vitamin B12 supplements. If you’re not already eating fish to support your brain health, add it to your menu.
Beans, a type of legume, provide important sources of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates in the Alzheimer’s diet. Like leafy green vegetables, they’re a good source of folate. (Remember, low folate levels may be associated with a greater risk of getting Alzheimer’s.)
Complex carbohydrates are far superior to simple carbs like sugar and processed foods. However, you don’t want to eat much of any carbohydrate on the KetoFLEX diet. Keep your bean count to a minimum. Green beans and black soybeans are two of the lowest-carb beans.
Diets rich in legumes may also protect brain health. A study out of Peking University in China found that elderly men who eat fewer legumes were more likely to have cognitive decline. If you’re looking for foods to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia, occasionally eat beans.
Enjoying one glass of red wine now and then can help prevent brain aging. If you’re a red wine fan, this should be great news.
Drinking too much alcohol can impair cognition and increase Alzheimer’s risk. In moderation, a glass of wine can have protective effects.
One glass of wine every day helps with heart health. But on KetoFLEX, you shouldn’t consume more than a couple glasses a week. Also, look for sugar-free, low-alcohol red wine if you don’t mind the taste.
Wine contains flavonoids, compounds that give some fruits and vegetables their color. Flavonoids act as anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories promote brain health by reducing oxidative stress inside the cells of the brain.
Red wine also contains resveratrol, a compound that’s become very popular in recent years for its health benefits.
Resveratrol has also shown a lot of promise for preventing Alzheimer’s. Laboratory studies have shown that resveratrol helps neurons break down the proteins that form beta-amyloid plaques. It seems to help keep neurons from breaking down and dying, too.
Nuts are another great addition to your Alzheimer’s or dementia diet. Like fish, many nuts have lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Those omega-3s will help you protect your brain health. They’ll improve your cardiovascular health, too.
Remember, better cardiovascular health means a lower chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
There may be a direct link between nut consumption and cognitive function. A long-term study of women over 70 found subjects who ate 5 or more servings of nuts every week experienced better cognitive function.
Participants who ate more nuts also had better language skills, such as remembering the names of various objects. They were able to hold their attention longer, too.
7. Prebiotics & Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are great for your gut health and immune health, but they seem to positively impact your brain health as well.
Prebiotics are fibers that feed your digestive system and strengthen the gut microbiome. These prebiotic foods regulate the levels of good bacteria in your digestive tract, which has a bigger effect on your whole body than you likely realize.
Probiotics are literally good bacteria that you eat. As long as you don’t suffer from SIBO, consuming probiotics should also positively impact your gut microbiome, which positively impacts your immune system, which positively impacts your whole body, including the brain.
Prebiotic foods include:
- Dandelion greens
- Artichoke hearts
- Green bananas (very seldom)
Probiotic foods include:
- Fermented veggies
- Dill or sour pickles (that contain no sugar)
8. Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the best-known healthy fats. It’s at the core of the most effective dementia and Alzheimer’s diets. KetoFLEX loves the healthy fat content in olive oil.
The great thing about healthy fats like olive oil is that your body can use them as a cleaner energy source than carbs. Whereas carbs turn into glucose for energy, fats turn into ketones for energy. On KetoFLEX, we’re restricting carbs, so we need to consume plenty of healthy fats.
Monounsaturated fats, the “good” fats in olive oil, can also help you lower your total cholesterol. Eating more monounsaturated fat increases your HDL levels (good cholesterol) and lowers your LDL levels (bad cholesterol).
There’s a direct link between bad cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease. Cholesterol regulates the beta-amyloid proteins that form plaques and cause disease. Adding cholesterol-lowering foods like olive oil can lead to a lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
By the way, do not use margarine or vegetable oil, which triggers inflammation, even if you’re not at risk for Alzheimer’s. Never use these deceptively-named products, period.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s diets also include eating more poultry instead of red meat or pork.
Limiting red meat is a big part of the Mediterranean diet, one of the best diets for preventing Alzheimer’s. On the KetoFLEX diet for dementia, red meat isn’t as big a deal. However, it’s still wise to replace beef and pork with poultry and fish.
Poultry is primarily lean protein, unlike red meat and pork. Aim to eat 1-2 servings of poultry per week. Animal protein is not a must-have on KetoFLEX, but you do need to make sure you get enough protein in your diet.
This superfood is a must on any keto diet, even the mildly ketogenic KetoFLEX diet! The healthy fats in avocados feed your body with clean energy without spiking your blood sugar levels.
Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats, just like olive oil. People who eat more monounsaturated fats (and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats) are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Add some sliced avocado to a salad made with leafy green vegetables, beans, grilled chicken, and a handful of berries. You’ll have a delicious meal that will help protect your brain, too.
Drinking (unsweetened) green tea reduces your risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. As far as the KetoFLEX diet is concerned, tea is on the same tier with non-starchy vegetables, in which you can freely indulge.
Overall, studies suggest that drinking different types of tea can improve the health of your brain. Other studies looking at different types of tea found mixed results.
Green tea is high in compounds called catechins, a type of flavonoid. Catechins are very strong antioxidants, which are anti-inflammatory. Researchers believe that green tea is great for the brain because it has these protective properties.
Remember, don’t sweeten your tea with anything besides monk fruit or stevia extract. Even then, don’t indulge all the time. Limit even these zero-calorie sweeteners.
Although you want to stay away from high-carb fruits, berries seem to help fight dementia. Like wine and tea, berries also contain flavonoids. They’re full of:
- Anti-inflammatory compounds
- Fiber (a prebiotic)
- Vitamins (including vitamin C)
Scientists have found direct links between berries and brain health. One study found that participants improved their memory simply by drinking a glass of blueberry juice every day. Another found that subjects were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s if they ate more strawberries.
What are the foods that fight memory loss? Berries, fish, and leafy green vegetables are 3 of the best foods that fight memory loss. There’s a mountain of evidence showing they support and protect brain health.
13. No Sugar
If you could make one change in your diet, eliminating sugar might have the biggest effect on your brain. Sugary drinks are especially dangerous to your neurological health.
Research and clinical trials are increasingly showing correlations between sugar consumption and Alzheimer’s risk.
Eating sugar creates a lot of inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation in the brain can lead to cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. The biggest change you can make to protect your brain (and your overall health) is cutting sugar from your diet.
What foods should Alzheimer’s patients avoid? Alzheimer’s patients should avoid:
- Trans fat
- Conventional dairy
- High amounts of salt
14. No Trans Fat
Although we encourage healthy fats on the KetoFLEX diet, trans fats are bad for your health, including the health of your brain. Trans fats are unnatural, often found in highly processed foods.
They have a particularly negative effect on cardiovascular health. Remember, cardiovascular health is linked to Alzheimer’s risk. Trans fats don’t belong in an Alzheimer’s diet.
What foods are bad for dementia?
- Trans fats
- Typical dairy products
- High sodium
How do you avoid trans fats? First, try not to eat fried foods, which can be loaded with trans fats. Also, avoid highly-processed foods. Trans fats are mostly man-made, so only processed foods have them. Swapping hydrogenated oils for olive oil will help, too.
15. No Grains
Do not eat any grains on the KetoFLEX diet. This will pull you out of ketosis, which is important for brain health. Also, they’re inflammatory. On top of that, you may be allergic and not even know it.
Don’t eat any traditional pasta or bread — even though they used to be the most recommended food group. There are plenty of grain-free, zero-carb, keto-friendly recipes for bread substitutes out there.
This one might sting for those who love their bread and pasta. But there are plenty of alternatives out there that can help you forget about traditional grains. This is about fighting dementia with dietary changes, and avoiding grains is a critical step on that journey.
A lot of websites will tell you to consume whole grains. Yes, whole grains are usually good for you, but not if you’re on a KetoFLEX 12/3 diet because all grains yank you out of ketosis.
16. Salt Alternatives
High-sodium (high-salt) diets can raise your blood pressure and cause cardiovascular problems. In turn, cardiovascular issues can turn into brain health issues. Eventually, it can lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Instead of grabbing the salt shaker, use zero-carb herbs and spices to add flavor to your food. Don’t eat fast food or processed foods (including frozen meals), which usually contain a lot of salt. The more you cook at home, the more you can control what goes into the food you eat.
Consider PrimeHealth’s Prevention Program.
We stand behind Dr. Dale Bredesen’s revolutionary KetoFLEX 12/3 diet program for patients with cognitive decline. We have seen it work wonders, particularly in combination with other beneficial lifestyle changes.
As more research is published on the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet, we can’t wait for more professionals and caregivers to hear about this super effective diet plan.
How can you reverse dementia naturally? You can reverse dementia naturally with simple lifestyle and dietary changes. This mainly works in the very early stages of dementia and cognitive decline.
Let PrimeHealth create a plan to put that knowledge into practice. With our Prevention Program, we will work side-by-side to create an individualized plan for slowing and reversing cognitive decline.
Schedule a free phone consultation with us to learn more.
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