In the case of our brain health, preventing brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s is always better than trying to cure it.
You can exercise your brain by keeping it busy making new acquaintances, doing crosswords, solving math problems or taking up a hobby. There is something more we can do in the fight to keep our brains healthy as we age, however.
Try the ketogenic or keto diet.
Dr. Georgia Ede, a nutritional psychiatrist, supports the keto diet as a way of trying to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“You don’t want to wait until you get Alzheimer’s. You want to start now,” on the keto diet, she said. “I actually work with patients who have early Alzheimer’s (and) who are on a ketogenic diet. And we actually see improvements in their mental clarity when they eat a ketogenic diet.”
During her talk on the mindbodygreen podcast, Dr. Ede pointed out a ketogenic diet can stabilize insulin and blood glucose levels. She stated insulin resistance actually paves the way for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and it’s one of the highest risk factors.
“If you don’t have enough insulin in the brain, your brain cells cannot use sugar for energy. So they die,” she emphasized.
Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar, impaired insulin function and changes in metabolism. A keto diet can help a person lose excess fat, which is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome.
One study found the keto diet improved insulin sensitivity by 75 percent. A person that is insulin sensitive (or who has high insulin sensitivity) will require smaller amounts of insulin to lower blood glucose levels compared to a person with low insulin sensitivity, which is also called insulin resistance.
Another study in people with type 2 diabetes found that 7 of the 21 participants were able to stop using all diabetes medications after following a keto diet.
Yet another study found a keto diet is an effective form of therapy for patients with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
“A ketogenic diet is a therapeutic tool that I use in my practice every day,” Dr. Ede added.
Developed in the 1920s to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children, the keto diet has become one of today’s most popular weight loss and control diets. It consists of a diet of high fat foods, an adequate amount of protein and a very low amount of carbs.
The keto diet deprives the body of glucose and induces a state called “ketosis.” In ketosis, the body is forced to use stored fat in the kidneys instead of sugar to produce an alternative source of energy. The keto diet, which might include meat, poultry, fish and non-starchy vegetables, forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates.