Ketogenic Diet for Alzheimer’s
Ketogenic Diet may help Alzheimer’s Patients
I am sure that most of you remember the Atkins weight-loss diet in which you starved your body of carbohydrates and ate huge amounts of saturated fats and lost weight. It worked because our bodies use glucose from carbohydrates for energy. If it is starved of carbohydrates your body will break down fat and convert it into carbohydrates to provide a sugar source of energy.
The diet failed because it was so imbalanced that it caused huge spikes in cholesterol levels, tremendous strain on the gall bladder and liver to break down all the fats and the huge amount of protein that went with the diet was carcinogenic.
The ketogenic diet is different because unlike the long-chain saturated fats which require a great deal of effort to be digested by the body, this diet contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which are the fats found in milk, cheese, butter, palm oil and coconut oil. These fats are instantly absorbed and when the body is starved of carbohydrates, your liver converts these fats into ketone bodies which pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. This works because only MCTs(medium chain triglycerides have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. No other fats have this ability.
The classic ketogenic diet was developed around 1920 for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy. It lost its popularity when anti-epileptic drugs were discovered but many children who could not take these dugs still use this diet. A recent study showed that this diet is actually successful in reducing seizures by over 90 per cent.
There are also many children born with the inability to break down and absorb long chain fats and they are prescribed an over-the-counter product called MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil that is easily absorbed into their system and allows them to survive. Athletes and people trying to lose weight also use MCT oil along with a program of reduced carbohydrate intake.
Recently this diet has been resurrected and used for people suffering from different degrees of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and many of them have had excellent results.
In the epileptic we have neurons in the brain firing off electronic impulses randomly and totally out of control. When the fuel for the brain is changed from glucose to ketones this situation seems to stop. By the same token if the nerve transmissions that travel through the synapses of the brain of the Alzheimer’s patient are so disjointed why not try using ketones instead of sugar to reduce the harmful effects.
Of course this will not work for every Alzheimer’s patient. If the patient is diabetic, their low insulin production is already producing to many ketones and a diet rich in medium chain fatty acids without enough carbohydrates for sugar could actually cause death.
The ketogenic diet can be safely used even the patient is overweight. (They may even lose some weight). It will increase their cholesterol and triglyceride levels but I would say that is a minor concern when you compare it to the more serious symptoms of this horrible disease.
Because MCT fats are non-essential, that is, they do not provide the actual nutrients we need from essential fats, it is very necessary to ingest long chain omega-3 fats such as those found in fish oil because without these fats we would perish.
Although there are now many drugs on the market to treat Alzheimer’s disease, most of them have very little effect and produce many serious side-effects.
I have always recommended high doses of Coenzyme CoQ10, 400mg a day, high doses of alpha lipoic acid, about 600mg a day and the highest potency fish oil which is Nutra Sea 3:1 ratio.
Adding milk fats, palm oil, coconut oil and even a dose of MCT Oil daily may provide some good results without very little chance of suffering any side-effects from this diet. A very small number of people who frequent my store have had good success with this diet. If it was my mother or father suffering from this disease I would certainly give it a try.