Ways to Prevent and even Reverse Alzheimer’s through Nutrition

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Forgive me. I am a terrible blogger. I am very late with this post. I totally need technical help . Anyways, here is my post…

Further to our last blog on avoiding nitrates and nitrites, (which seem to be in everything from bread to beer, to wine, to whisky), it is a good idea to learn about all the risk factors so that you lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s. The following list is adapted from Patrick Holford’s book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan[i]:

  •  Genetic disposition – Investigate with your doctor what your genetic risks are. Those that inherit a gene called ApoE4 have more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, however your risk increases only if the gene is activated and/or if there are other risk factors present. What protects ApoE4 and other genes from damage by diet or infection is methylation – the job of the B vitamins.
  • Inflammation –A review carried out at New York University’s Neurology department found that at least a third of Alzheimer’s patients have some degree of vascular damage from inflammation. Cardiovascular disease leads to blockages in the arteries and this, in turn, may lead to a poor supply of key nutrients in the brain. To get rid of inflammation, again, get rid of nitrates and nitrates, sugar, stress, avoid diets low in antioxidant nutrients, and keep your homocystein levels normal. Homocystein is an inflammatory marker for developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Lack of antioxidant nutrients – vitamins A, C, and E not only help to mop up pollutants, but also help brain cells to become less vulnerable to damage from free-radicals from fried foods, smoke.
  • Lack of omega 3 fatty acids – ‘Good’ fats (such as those from cold water fish), actually put out the fire of inflammation. Atlantic salmon, mackerel, and anchovies are good choices.
  • Hydrogenated fats – if you are using any type of oil or margarine that is even partially hydrogenated, get rid of it – even if so-called ‘heartsmart’ oils are added to it.  Hydrogenated oils do not melt at blood temperature. That is a problem. Instead, they harden your cell walls, making them less permeable, and interfering with osmosis (think good nutrients in, waste out). Further to this, nickel, a heavy metal, is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of margarine. Keep your cell walls healthy, an you will be healthy.
  • Excessive stress and elevated cortisol hormone – natural minerals in the body act like a tranquilizer. Find a multivitamin that gives you at lead 25 mgs of all the B vitamins, 10 mcg of B12, 200 mcg of folate, 200 mg of magnesium 3 mg of manganese and 10 mg of zinc.
  • Low of B vitamins (primarily B2, B6, B12 and folate) – Cerebrovascular disease – just like cardiovascular disease – is a disease of nutrient deficiency. It is strongly linked to high homocystein levels – a marker for heart disease . Vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folate help to lower homocystein levels. The older you are, the less likely you are to absorb B12 due to diminished stomach acid. Be smart and supplement where needed with digestive enzymes, the correct foodgroups and nutrients.[ii]
  • Poor circulation – roughly 50 to 70 per cent of people diagnosed with dementia will end up diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Twenty per cent will be given a diagnosis of vascular dementia, caused by constricted blood flow to the brain due to blocked arteries.

Can Alzheimer’s Disease be Reversed Through Diet?

Dr. Mary T. Newport. MD, is author of a July 2008 article, What if there was a Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and No One Knew? [iii]In the article she shares her experiences in reversing the disease in her husband Steve who had been diagnosed with progressive Alzheimer’s  more than 5 years earlier. In doing her research, she came across a ‘cross-over’ study published in the March 2004 Journal of Neurobiology, which showed that a single dose of MCTs led to significant improvement on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment-Scale and other tests.[iv] Her husband was not admitted to the study but she wondered whether unrefined coconut oil – which is about 60 per cent MCT – could help. She writes:

” In Alzheimer’s disease, the neurons in certain areas of the brain are unable to take in glucose4, 5 due to insulin resistance and slowly die off, a process that appears to happen one or more decades before the symptoms become apparent. If these cells had access to ketone bodies, they could potentially stay alive and continue to function. MCT oil is digested differently by the body than other fats. Instead of storing all MCTs as fat, the liver converts them directly to ketone bodies, which are then available for use as energy.”[v]

Dr. Newport found that a dose of 20 grams (about 20 ml or 4 teaspoons) of MCT was the amount used to produce results.  To duplicate the dose of MCTs used in the Ketasyn study, about 7 level teaspoonfuls (slightly over 2 Tablespoons) of unrefined, non-hydrogenated coconut oil should be taken daily – more if tolerated. Start with one or teaspoonful and build up gradually to prevent diarrhoea or a sense of feeling full. A recipe for chocolate coconut-oil truffles can be found at the end of this article.

The nice thing about coconut oil is that it can be used for cooking, baking, stirred into scrambled eggs, soups, and used in any situation where you would normally use butter. Make sure that you continue to take Omega 3 oils at the same time, however. Omega 3 fatty acids are still needed.

Why do Coconut Oils and Ketone Bodies work to Prevent Neurodegeneration?

Ketones are an alternate fuel source for your body when it cannot take up glucose – such as when you are fasting, or if you have any degenerative disease associated faulty glucose uptake in the brain or tissues. Taking in ketone bodies could help the brain cells to potentially stay alive.

In animal studies it has been shown that MCTs are also able to liberate Omega 3-fatty acids from the body and shunt them to the parietal area of the brain.[vi] Human studies have shown that those with Multiple Sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases have a similar defect in using glucose but in different areas of the brain or spinal cord. There are implications that MCTs could help treat and prevent other types of insulin-resistance related diseases such as drug-resistant epilepsy, brittle (uncontrolled) type I diabetes, and diabetes type II.

In 2001, a team, headed by Richard Veech, senior scientist in the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that ketones protect neurons from both MPP+, (which induces Parkinsons disease), and the protein fragment Ab1-42,(which accumulates in the brain of Alzheimers patients).

Here is where it get’s really interesting:

Veech’s team found that addition of ketones alone actually increased the number of surviving neurons from the hippocampus, suggesting that ketones may even act as growth factors for neurons in culture. [vii]

Purified Ketone bodies – such as those created by Dr. Richard Veeth’s team, are at least ten times higher than those of MCT or coconut oil, but at the present time, purified ketones would are extremely costly – more than USD 20,000 a year for a child-size dose. At present no pharmaceutical company has wanted to fund research to look into mass produced, affordable ketone bodies.

Here is some good news:  ketones from natural coconut oil, last 8 hours in the body, versus 3 hours with prescription food versions which have only one of the medium-chain trigylercides (C:8). Unrefined coconut oil has C:6, C:8, C:10, C:12, five other fatty acids (including some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), and omega-6. Unrefined coconut oil also contains some phytosterol, one of the natural substances that lowers cholesterol.

Below please find a recipe that may both lower your cholesterol and protect your neuronal cells. And I promise it tastes good.

EASY CHOCOLATE COCONUT-OIL TRUFFLES

Melt ½ cup unrefined coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add enough gluten-free organic cocoa powder to make a paste- around a half cup – and a pinch of sea salt. Add liquid stevia to taste, and a teaspoon of organic vanilla if you like.

Line a mini muffin pan with paper bon-bon liners. Place a walnut half in each cup (chop finely if person has problems chewing or swallowing).  Spoon a tablespoon of the warm chocolate mixture over the walnuts. Garnish with more walnuts if liked. Store in freezer.

Note: You can make a simplified version of the recipe above by omitting the cocoa and substituting a half bag of vegan, soy-free and gluten-free chocolate chips to the melted coconut oil. They are less apt to melt out of the fridge.

Note: Never use carob (a legume) sugar, or soy products when making these bon-bons for people with multiple sclerosis. Legumes (soy and carob are legumes) and dairy are contraindicated as they may cause auto-immune reactions.

Makes about 20. Once out of the freezer or fridge these will melt.


[i] Holford, Patrick, Shane Heaton & Deborah Colson. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan: 10 proven ways to stop memory decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Piatkus Books, London, 2011.

[ii] A Universities of Oxford and Oslo team found that volunteers taking these B vitamins for 2 years had 0.76% brain shrinkage, versus 1.08% shrinkage in the control group. The study was published in the September 9, 2008 issue of the journal Neurology. The research team reported an association between decreased levels of vitamin B12 and a decline in brain volume. Reduced brain volume or brain atrophy, has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease and is used as a marker for the disease’s progression.

[iii] Newport, M. MD, ‘What if there was a cure for Alzheimer’s and no one knew? A Case Study by Dr. Mary Newport’, July 22, 2008. Available from: http://www.coconutketones.com/WhatIfCure.pdf

[iv] Erickson KI, Raji CA, Lopez OL et al. Physical activity predicts gray matter volume in late adulthood.The Cardiovascular Health Study. Neurology, October 13 2010. Available from: http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2010/10/13/WNL.0b013e3181f88359.abstract?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Erickson&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=date&resourcetype=HWCIT

[v] Newport, MD., What if there was a cure for Alzheimer’s and No one Knew? A case study by Dr, Mary Newport. July 22, 2008. Available from: http://www.coconutketones.com/biography.html

[vi] Taha, AY, Henderson, ST, Burnhan, WM. Dietary enrichment with medium chain triglycerides (AC-1203) elevates polyunsaturated fatty acids in the parietal cortex of aged dogs: implications for treating age-related cognitive decline.  Neurochem Res. 2009 Sep;34(9):1619-25. Epub 2009 Mar 20. Available from:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19301124

[vii] Wan-Ho, Mae, ISIS Report: Where Genes Fail – Dietary Interventions for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s? The Institute of Science in Society, http://www.i-sis.org.uk/wheregenesfail.php, April 25, 2001.