This is the first of forthcoming blogs that feature content from my most popular Regen360 iTunes podcast show interviews. As you may know, I select leading global visionaries in health and sustainability who are pushing the envelope and building movements. My goal is to spark all of us into accelerated action that inspires regeneration on a 360 basis.
A few months ago, I had the exciting and inspiring opportunity to sit down with Dr. Dale Bredesen to talk about his encyclopedic knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and his proven protocol that can stop it in its tracks! This was before his New York Times bestselling book published, called The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. A must read for all of us.
Here’s a recap of some of the information Dr. Bredesen and I dove into, all of which aligns with my wife, Dr. Sara’s and my Regen360 followers’ awareness of ‘food as medicine’ and the importance of sustainable lifestyle choices. For me, they both fall under the broader category of health, the feature of my podcast show and all of our work.
Dr. Dale Bredesen and his compassionate research team at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have spent years studying the neuroscience and biochemistry that scaffold the development of Alzheimer’s disease. He has discovered treatment protocols that prevent, halt, and/or markedly slow Alzheimer’s development. The team’s research sheds hopeful light on what is increasingly viewed by the medical field as the world’s number one health issue.
In this podcast, Dr. Bredesen shared his evidence-based, common sense means of preventing this fatal disease.
THE PROBLEM: Alzheimer’s is Becoming The World’s Number 1 Leading Health Risk
Cognitive decline is accelerating around the globe at a rapid rate. While we’re repeatedly informed that “5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease,” the reality is that by the year 2050, 45 million Americans will have full-blown Alzheimer’s disease (that’s 15% of the current American population), and 160 million people will have it worldwide.
Dr. Bredesen says, “…it has become the third-leading cause of death in the United States, after cardiovascular disease… and cancer. This is going to bankrupt Medicare over the next couple of decades…”
Another thing to note is that about 65% of patients with Alzheimer’s are women, and 60% of Alzheimer’s caregivers are women, making it what Dr. Bredesen calls a “female-centric illness.” In fact, according to Dr. Bredesen, “If you are a woman, the chance that you’ll develop breast cancer in your lifetime has now been exceeded by the chance that you’ll get Alzheimer’s during your life.”
The guiding question to Alzheimer’s research and treatment, led by Dr. Bredesen and others, is this: “What is the most fundamental nature… of neurodegeneration? So we can actually use that approach to design an effective treatment.”
Using this bottom-up research approach, they’ve uncovered the most effective methods of Alzheimer’s treatment to date. Our health followers and those committed to sustainable living won’t be surprised to learn that Lifestyle + Balance = The Most Effective Alzheimer’s Treatment.
THE QUESTION: What is the Most Fundamental Nature of Neurodegeneration?
Most people believe the fundamental cause of Alzheimer’s is genetics. While it’s true that genes are strong predictors, Dr. Bredesen finds that “lifestyle trumps genes when predicting whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s.”
How much do genes play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease?
As you may of learned in my wife, Dr. Sara’s New York Times bestselling book, Younger, genes certainly play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but not as much as scientists originally thought. The genetic marker for Alzheimer’s is APOE e4. If you’re screened for APOE e4 and results find:
- 0 APOE e4 markers: You have a 9% chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
- 1 APOE e4 marker: You have a 30% chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
- 2 APOE e4 markers (homozygous): You have a 90% chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
Genetic screening plays a significant role in treating Alzheimer’s. This information is critical in determining the future trajectory of your diet, exercise, work, and habits. I did my genetic testing at 23andme.
However, while genetics are an important piece of the Alzheimer’s puzzle, lifestyle has an even greater impact!
Does Lifestyle play a greater role in your chances of developing Alzheimer’s?
According to Dr. Bredesen, Alzheimer’s is more like a syndrome than a disease. It’s not caused by a single agent like a bacterial infection. Rather, it’s triggered by 20, 30, or even 40 different biochemical and metabolic relationships that take place in the brain as a result of your lifestyle.
What you eat, how much you rest, how much you allow stress to impact your life — all of these affect the beautiful, plastic balance that maintains the brain’s healthy “remembering and forgetting” processes. When the balance tips in the wrong direction, the brain starts to forget more than it remembers — and that marks the beginning stages of cognitive decline.
Dr. Bredesen and his team have learned the most effective Alzheimer’s treatment starts with us and our lifestyle choices.
THE ANSWER: 7 Tips That Prevent Alzheimer’s Before it Starts
The following 7 tips can prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s and can notably reverse the effects of existing dementia. Also, they’re fundamental to the idea of Functional Medicine. In other words, as you make conscious choices to diminish Alzheimer’s risk, you simultaneously improve overall health. In Dr. Bredesen’s new book, he calls these steps ReCODE: Reversing Cognitive Decline. In the book, he expands this list to 14 recommendations.
1) Eliminate sugars and simple carbohydrates, as well as gluten and dairy
There is a strong link between insulin resistance, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s. In fact, those with type 2 diabetes more than double their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Dr. Bredesen recommends eliminating gluten as well. “Make foods with a glycemic index lower than 35 the bulk of your diet,” as written in the book and “avoid fruit juices.” Dairy causes inflammation and contributes to leaky gut.
2) Beware the “Berfooda Triangle
The trifecta of high-saturated fats, high-simple carbohydrates and low-fiber are a horrible, proinflammatory triad — dubbed the “Berfooda Triangle. Think cheeseburger, fries, and soft drink,” as written in the book. Minimize saturated fat intake and always balance it with high-fiber, complex carbs which helps reduce blood sugar
3) Finish eating 3-hours before going to bed
This optimizes the brain’s ability to cleanse itself. In order to eliminate amyloid plaques and toxins — and to recycle old, damaged and broken components — the brain needs extended fasting/resting periods.
4) Give yourself at least 12 hours to fast each day
Along those lines, Dr. Bredesen says, “You want to try to confine your eating to, at most, 12 hours during the day… then you want to fast the rest of the time.”
5) Eat good fats
Neuronal membranes, myelin sheaths, and other neuro-protective tissue require healthy fats from avocados, nuts/seeds, MCT oil, olive oil, as well as healthy, omega-3s. But those with ApoE4 should eat less saturated fat and switch to polyunsaturated fatty acids like olive oil, instead of MCT oil.
6) Treat meat as a condiment
Think of meat as a condiment. Limit meat intake to sustainably-raised meats and ideally, wild-caught SMASH fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herrings), but avoid the possible high levels of mercury and other toxic compounds. Men need about 50 to 70 grams of daily protein and women about 40 to 60, or no more than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of weight.
7) Prioritize oral hygiene
When scientists examine the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, they consistently find microorganisms not found in control samples. These microorganisms are related to fundamental metabolic and toxic perturbations:
- Inflammation: Withdrawal of trophic support (depletion of cellular growth, health)
- Toxic binding: (amyloids bind toxins and kill microbes). Researchers frequently come across p. Gingivalis, a bacteria associated with gum disease, as well as other oral bacteria in the brain. Brushing, flossing, and observing biannual dental checkups are key to keeping harmful bacteria away from precious neural tissue.
The effects of lifestyle changes like these don’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes about three to six months to truly notice an improvement. Then, personalized testing and treatment tweaks are made over time to optimize the effects.
It’s an understatement that the information gleaned from Dr. Bredesen in this info-packed podcast is both exciting and hopeful, and his book, The End of Alzheimer’s, provides much more detail and protocol recommendations that are essential for all of us. Ultimately, it puts the power of Alzheimer’s treatment right into your hands. The power of leveraging what you’ve learned here into real-life action could truly transform one of the world’s leading health issues into a thing of the past.
If your interest wasn’t piqued before, I bet it is now. I invite you to immerse yourself by listening to the complete Regen360 Podcast 22, featuring Dr. Dale Bredesen. He gives us hope for a lifestyle-based and drug-free approach to curing Alzheimer’s, as well as other debilitating diseases.
PS: The goal for all of my work is to not only teach and inspire, but to spark all of us into accelerated action that promotes regeneration on a 360 basis. I encourage you to take my BuildMove Quiz to see if you’ve got the right stuff to build your own movement.