How to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s disease

alzheimersI don’t know of anyone who’s life hasn’t been touched in some way by Alzheimer’s disease – it seems to be a part of the modern condition that so many of our senior citizens have to endure increasing loss of memory and physical function as they near the end of their lives. To see people lose their vitality, and to be robbed of their memories, is a tragedy.

I’m reading a number of reports at the moment that are suggesting that Alzheimer’s may well be prevented – indeed, in some cases reversed, by following  a more primal diet.

I’ve just listened to an interview with Dr. David Perlmutter, a respected American neurologist. According to Dr. Perlmutter, a grain-laden, carb-rich diet causes loss of neurological function and leads to obesity, diabetes and almost every degenerative disease known to man.

Take a look at this from Examiner.com:

“”Food is medicine,” said Dr. Perlmutter. “We can actually change our gene expressions with the foods we eat.”

Dr. Perlmutter says we can ward off — and in some instances reverse — Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and ADHD by following a gluten-free, low-carb, high-fat diet.

The beauty of this is that our brain (and body) health is entirely in our hands. Dementia should not be something we accept as a natural consequence of getting older.

According to Dr. Perlmutter, a high-carb diet fuels blood-sugar surges, which cause inflammation, which in turn has a catastrophic impact on brain cells and the entire body. “Carbs are devastating for the brain,” he said.

“Even slight elevations in blood sugar have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Perlmutter, citing an August 2013 report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Perlmutter said high-quality saturated fats (such as wild salmon, extra-virgin olive oil and avocados) have neuroprotective properties that have been shown in numerous studies to prevent dementia and other brain diseases.”

“Fat is your friend,” said Dr. Perlmutter, who himself follows the high-fat ketogenic diet. “The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet.”

Dr. Perlmutter suggests limiting carb intake to no more than 80 grams a day. His dietary guidelines include the following:

  • Avoid or drastically reduce gluten, grains and sugar.
  • Limit fruit consumption.
  • Avoid sugary sodas, processed foods and junk foods.
  • Eat organic vegetables.
  • Consume organic animal proteins that are free of hormones and antibiotics.
  • Get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Eat good fats such as avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, fatty fish and grass-fed beef.

While we have come to accept physical and mental deterioration as the norm as we age, Dr. Perlmutter says we can prevent such breakdowns simply by controlling what we put into our mouths. “The fate of your brain is not in your genes; it’s in the food you eat,” he said.

(You can read the whole article here)

You’ll see in there a reference to a “Ketogenic” diet. This refers to eating very, very low carb and getting nearly all of your calories from fats. I know that does sound crazy, but think about it. Did you ever hear of an eskimo eating bread? It’s entirely possible – indeed it’s actually very beneficial for your health – to eat in this manner. It has also been used as an effective treatment for epilepsy, and according to Dr. Perlmutter, it also starves cancer cells. The diet is called Ketogenic because it forces the body to use ketones for fuel. Ketones are made naturally when the body uses fat as its primary fuel.

Here’s another interesting thing – a growing number of athletes are tuning in to the ketogenic diet for the simple reason that the body can carry vastly greater energy reserves in fat form than it can as sugar. Once the body becomes adapted to using fat as its primary fuel – and this is a big part of The Primal Solution – the available energy you have simply rockets. A number of ultra distance runners are now switching completely from fuelling themselves with energy drinks and gels, and instead turning to the most natural fuel there is – fat!

If you want to read a little more about fat adapted athletes – maybe so you know that you’re in good company – take a look at the RunKeto website.

As you know, I swear by being fat adapted. It enables me to go hours and hours between meals, seldom feeling even slightly hungry. And when I do eat, it’s delicious, natural food all the way!

Keep it Primal!

 

Comments

  1. An interesting article Jamie, as I am just starting on my Primal journey I will stick with it before adapting it to a more “extreme” diet. You mention about athletes changing to the ketogenic diet and that immediately made me think about the Horizon Sugar v Fat documentary, which I presumed you watched. The programme was quite unscientific but when the two brothers where out for a cycle, under the supervision of a member of the Sky cycling team, it was the one who was on the sugar diet that performed better.
    Also, surprisingly, it was the brother who was on the fat only diet that was tipping his body towards diabetes by the end of the month. What comments do you have when comparing the results from the Horizon documentary and the Primal way of life?

    • Hiya Tim, great question.

      It was very interesting that the guy on the fat diet had elevated blood sugar levels by the end of the experiment. I’m not a doctor – but I know that eating too much protein can cause it to be broken down into glucose, which may be a part of the problem. But the fact is many studies (with a sample size of greater than one!) have proven beyond doubt that the “Paleo” diet reduces type-2 diabetes symptoms. In fact it was this very response that led the “inventor” of the Paleo diet, Arthur Devany, to investigate and popularise the diet. But yes, I was surprised, as well.

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