By Amy Berger, MS, NTP
The fact that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) manifests later in life doesn’t mean the causative storm doesn’t begin decades earlier. Like other “diseases of civilization,” AD builds slowly over time, often with no overt symptoms until damage is widespread and, in some cases, irreversible. What we consider the normal forgetfulness of growing older could be a warning that the brain is struggling to fuel itself. Unfortunately, in the absence of obvious signs of glucose dysregulation (hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, obesity, energy crashes, etc.), people have no reason to suspect something metabolically insidious is brewing. Therefore, regular monitoring of pertinent markers, such as fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin, HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin), and triglycerides, might be the only strategy for early detection.
In cases of AD detected only after cognitive function has deteriorated to the point of interfering with daily life, drastic interventions such as ketogenic diets and therapeutic doses of helpful nutrients might be warranted. These are avenues calling for more research. Lifelong reduction of risk, however, should start early and include the following dietary and lifestyle factors:
- Emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods
- Low intake of sugars and refined carbohydrates
- Generous intake of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) and naturally occurring fats
- Emphasis on low-glycemic vegetables and fruits that are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients
- Avoidance of easily oxidized and pro-inflammatory seed oils and chemically manipulated packaged foods
- Regular aerobic exercise and muscle-building activities
- Stress reduction
- Adequate sleep
The evidence linking AD to elevated insulin, glucose dysregulation, and inflammation—all resulting from diets high in refined carbohydrates and omega-6-rich polyunsaturated oils and low in antioxidants and micronutrients—suggests that the time has come for an unbiased re-evaluation of across-the-board recommendations for entire population groups to consume low-fat and low-cholesterol diets, which are, by default, high in carbohydrates. Combined with stressful, sedentary lifestyles, and particularly when complicated by cholesterol-lowering medication, this outdated advice equates to nothing less than a roadmap for arriving at Alzheimer’s disease.
See also: Strategies to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s