Do you know someone with Alzheimer’s? Are you worried about getting it yourself?
As many of us have witnessed, it’s a devastating disease that can turn family members into someone completely different.
While Alzheimer’s dementia was traditionally considered irreversible (and hard to prevent), that’s gradually starting to change.
Today I’ll explain how intermittent fasting and ketosis fit into a program for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s, including Dr. Dale Bredesen’s KetoFlex 12-3 protocol.
Armed with this information, I think you’ll be in a better position to prevent Alzheimer’s, or even to successfully treat it in some cases.
Let’s get started.
Podcast & YouTube Versions
If you prefer listening, episode 22 of The FastingWell Podcast was all about how fasting and keto can help with Alzheimer’s prevention & treatment.
And here’s my video version (which is a little shorter):
Dr. Dale Bredesen – a Pioneer in Alzheimer’s Treatment
Dr. Dale Bredesen is a neurologist who’s done a ton of research on Alzheimer’s and written a few books about it.
He’s also developed an effective regimen for Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention, and his KetoFlex 12-3 protocol is at the foundation (more on that below).
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
I recently heard Dr. Bredesen interviewed on Dr. Hyman’s podcast. In that interview, he pointed out that the main two underlying causes of Alzheimer’s, in most cases, are:
- Insulin resistance
Those aren’t the only causes of Alzheimer’s, but they’re at the root in the majority of cases.
How Does Insulin Resistance Affect Your Brain?
Insulin resistance means certain organs don’t respond to insulin as well as they used to, so your pancreas has to pump out more and more to get the job done.
As a result, your insulin levels are actually too high. And so is your blood sugar.
In the brain, this means not enough glucose (sugar) is getting into the brain cells for energy. So there’s sort of an “energy crisis” in the brain.
Even though you have high blood sugar, your brain may be starving because not enough of that sugar is getting inside.
Related: Dr. Ben Bikman on Insulin Resistance & 4 Keys to Better Nutrition (podcast episode)
What Causes Brain Inflammation?
While inflammation can be a good thing, excessive inflammation is a bad thing.
Inflammation in the brain can be caused by autoimmune conditions, various types of infections, or other general causes (like diabetes or certain medications, for example).
Interestingly, Dr. Bredesen pointed out that beta amyloid (the protein that often builds up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients) is actually a component of the immune system. So the reason it’s there is probably because of some type of infection (which is causing inflammation).
What Else Causes Alzheimer’s?
Other contributing factors can include vitamin or nutrient deficiencies, hormone problems, or toxins (like mercury or lead poisoning).
Of course this isn’t a complete list, but it covers the most common causes.
Intermittent Fasting for Alzheimer’s: How Does It Help?
After hearing the above interview with Dr. Bredesen, I made a simple connection:
According to Dr. Bredesen, the main two causes of Alzheimer’s are insulin resistance and inflammation.
Fasting helps normalize blood sugar and insulin levels, which is why fasting is an effective treatment for insulin resistance.
Fasting typically also lowers inflammation throughout the body.
It naturally follows that fasting can be an effective way to prevent Alzheimer’s, and perhaps treat it as well.
What About a Ketogenic Diet for Alzheimer’s?
Similar to fasting, a low-carb / high-fat ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for insulin resistance, because it also helps normalize blood sugar and insulin levels.
A ketogenic diet typically reduces overall inflammation as well.
So it makes logical sense that a ketogenic diet could help with Alzheimer’s as well.
Related: 47 Quick & Easy Keto Food Options (blog post)
What is KetoFlex 12-3?
With the above in mind, consider Dr. Bredesen’s usual nutrition plan for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s. It’s called “KetoFlex 12-3”.
Here’s the basic idea:
- No grains, sugar, or conventional dairy
- Lots of nutrient-rich plants (vegetables and fruit)
- Healthy fats and good quality protein
- At least 12 hours of fasting, overnight
- At least 3 hours of fasting before bedtime (hence “12-3”)
- Regular periods of ketosis (from fasting, eating low-carb, and/or taking a ketone supplement)
As you can see, fasting and ketosis are key components.
Results of the KetoFlex Diet (& Related Treatments)
Here’s the really cool part:
Dr. Bredesen’s program can usually completely reverse early/mild Alzheimer’s symptoms.
It also usually produces at least some noticeable improvement in more advanced cases (though not complete reversal).
Overall, when used together with some other medical tests and treatments, the results are very encouraging.
What You Can Do With this Info
If you’re trying to prevent Alzheimer’s, or trying to treat an early case, you might consider putting “KetoFlex 12-3” in practice. Or at least parts of it.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not the only treatment for Alzheimer’s. There are other specific tests and treatments that vary for each case.
But those dietary changes are a foundational part of Dr. Bredesen’s program, and something basically anyone can do.
Where to Learn More – Dr. Bredesen’s Books
While the above should give you some actionable takeaways, it’s also kind of just a “teaser”.
If you want to dive into this topic in detail, try reading one of Dr Bredesen’s books, such as:
- The End of Alzheimer’s (his original book)
- The End of Alzheimer’s Program (his follow-up, with more practical steps)
- The First Survivors of Alzheimer’s (stories about patients who’ve made significant improvement)
Those are probably the best resources available anywhere about Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment.
Is Alzheimer’s the Same Thing as Dementia?
Dementia is a more general term for various things that cause memory loss.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, but there are several other types as well.
Can Fasting and Autophagy Cure Alzheimer’s?
Autophagy means scavenging for old and worn-out proteins inside your body’s cells, and then recycling them. Fasting boosts autophagy.
Since Alzheimer’s is associated with a buildup of protein “plaques” called beta amyloid, it makes some sense that autophagy could help.
However, I don’t believe there’s any evidence that clearing amyloid plaques alone actually improves Alzheimer’s symptoms.
On the other hand, fasting can be part of an overall program to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease, as explained above.
Does Intermittent Fasting Prevent Alzheimer’s?
Intermittent fasting for 12 hours overnight is one part of the KetoFlex program for Alzheimer’s prevention.
Other components include proper nutrition, not eating before bedtime, and a variety of other medical tests and treatments in certain cases.
How does Fasting Prevent Alzheimer’s?
Fasting helps normalize blood sugar and insulin levels, which is beneficial to the brain. It also helps reduce excessive inflammation.
Furthermore, fasting can activate various healing and repair processes such as autophagy, which help your brain function better in general.
When Should You Start Intermittent Fasting to Prevent Alzheimer’s?
Probably the sooner the better.
Any adult who isn’t underweight, and who doesn’t have other contraindications to fasting (like anorexia for example), may want to consider starting as early as possible for maximum benefit.
This could be as simple as a 12-hour overnight fast and 3 hours of fasting before bedtime, as described earlier.
Final Thoughts on KetoFlex for Alzheimer’s
Dr. Bredesen’s KetoFlex 12 3 protocol is a game-changer in Alzheimer’s treatment.
He uses various other medical tests and treatments as well, but those nutritional changes are at the foundation.
If Alzheimer’s dementia runs in your family, you already have some symptoms, or you’re just trying to be as healthy as possible, why not put into practice at least some part(s) of the plan?
That could be as simple as fasting for 3 hours before bedtime, and/or 12 hours overnight.
Start with whatever you feel comfortable doing, and go from there.
Even small simple changes can produce a big impact, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases in the long run.