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Alzheimer's Antidote - a book review by Matthew Romans

Many people have loved ones or friends with loved ones that are suffering from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, or some other form of cognitive decline. Most of us are at least familiar with some of the outward symptoms of the disease: memory loss, personality change, depression, and decline in physical capacity. The emotional effects of this disease can be devastating, both for the patient and the people entrusted as caregivers. What causes Alzheimer's disease, and what can be done (besides the typical course of medications) to treat it? A new book has been released that provides some answers and hope. The book, "The Alzheimer's Antidote" was written by Amy Berger, who holds a master's degree in human nutrition and is a certified nutrition specialist and nutritional therapy practitioner.

It is very important that we understand causes and contributing factors to Alzheimer's disease. Recent medical literature points to Alzheimer's as a largely metabolic problem. Certain parts of the brain are no longer able to receive sufficient energy from glucose, thus leading to problems of communication between different areas of the brain. This is what leads to the confusion, personality changes, and memory loss so often associated with the disease. The traditional Western diet, which contains large amounts of grains, sugars, and other processed foods, can play a large role in the development of Alzheimer's. The more carbohydrates are present in the diet, the more the pancreas must release insulin in order to get nutrients into the cells. The result is a decreased insulin sensitivity that is not unlike what is experienced in type 2 diabetes. Both type 2 diabetics and Alzheimer's patients can experience chronic pain, low energy levels, and fatigue; in fact, many researchers now refer to Alzheimer's disease as "Type 3 Diabetes." So, Alzheimer's disease is really the brain being starved of nutrients; while the brain is only two percent of the body's weight, it may use up to twenty percent of its glucose and oxygen. Have you ever wondered why it's hard to concentrate when you're extremely hungry? It's because the brain needs a lot of glucose in order to function at peak capacity. Imagine feeling that way all the time, and that gives you an idea of what this disease is like.

Now that we know what can contribute to Alzheimer's disease, what can we do to slow down or reverse the effects of the disease? Bear in mind that if the disease is far enough advanced or if the patient is old enough, much of the damage may be irreversible. While damage can begin as early as one's twenties or early thirties, physical evidence of decline may not be evident until later in life. That being said, there are a number of things we can do slow down or reverse the damage.

1. Implement a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Ketogenic diets are made up largely of good sources of fat, with a modest amount of protein and very minimal carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and some fruits. Severely restricting or eliminating grains and sugars from the diet stimulates the body to produce ketones, which are produced when insulin levels are very low. Ketones are by-products of both dietary fat and stored body fat, and can be used by the brain as a fuel source. This way, you are utilizing fat instead of glucose.

2. Exercise. High intensity weight training is important for building and maintaining muscle, but also for helping to maintain insulin sensitivity. Regulating exercise dosage is the key: not enough exercise provides little benefit, while too much exercise has a toxic effect. One or two weight training sessions (like we recommend at Total Results) is the ideal dosage.

3. Practice Intermittent Fasting. This typically involves condensing your daily feeding window (time between your first and last meals of the daily) into 8-10 hours, and then fasting for anywhere between 12-16 or even 18 hours. This keeps your insulin levels low and stimulates the body to produce ketones. It can also increase the brain's capacity for plasticity and self-repair.

4. Get enough sleep. Negative consequences of chronic sleep debt include decreased insulin sensitivity, hormonal disregulation, and elevated cortisol levels. Try to get in the habit of going to sleep and waking up at a consistent hour, and minimize access to electronic stimulation and artificial light an hour or so before bed time.

The idea of falling prey to Alzheimer's disease is terrifying, but now there is a reason for optimism. Educating ourselves is critical. We know that the disease does not manifest itself overnight; it can take years or even decades before physical symptoms are visible. We now know more about the science of Alzheimer's and we can implement the strategies recommended in The Alzheimer's Antidote to help ourselves and our loved ones slow and even reverse the damage that this dreaded disease can cause.

Posted January 10, 2018 by Tim Rankin