Guest post written by: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP
Hey Folks! (As Robb would say.)
Long-time readers of Robb’s blog might recall that a couple years back, I introduced you to a book I’d written about using a low-carb/ketogenic diet to fight Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Back then, it was a simple little pdf that I put together with help from my friend Ellen Davis (creator of Ketogenic Diet Resource, one of the best keto information sources out there). Well, I’m happy to announce that a lot has changed since then, and the book—The Alzheimer’s Antidote—is now a “real” book, available in print and for Kindle! (No audio version yet, but that might be coming down the line.)
I was fortunate to team up with the people at Chelsea Green Publishing. They have their finger on the pulse and they can see how beneficial these dietary interventions are for a huge range of otherwise intractable conditions. Chelsea Green publishes Travis Cristofferson’s Tripping Over the Truth, a tour-de-force looking at the metabolic theory of cancer (check out Travis’s interview on Robb’s podcast), as well as The Metabolic Approach to Cancer, a brand new book on implementing the ketogenic diet for this purpose, and they’re the U.S. distributors of The Ketogenic Kitchen, by Patricia Daly and Domini Kemp, an Ireland-based nutritionist and chef, respectively, who both used carbohydrate restriction as an adjunct to conventional cancer therapies. As if that weren’t enough, Chelsea Green publishes Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation (a.k.a. “the fermentation bible”) and distributes Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome – the original GAPS™ diet. Bottom line: this publisher gets it.
So I’m happy to be on board with them, and even happier to let you know that The Alzheimer’s Antidote has been completely rewritten, expanded, and updated in the two years since the e-book release. It presents new and even more powerful information, all of which only strengthens my basic premise: Alzheimer’s disease is, at least in part, a systemic metabolic condition, and as such, there are dietary and lifestyle interventions that could potentially stop or slow the progression of this condition, and possibly even reverse some of the damage that has already occurred.
If you happened to have read the pdf version (and if so, thank you for that!), I would still recommend checking out the new print or Kindle version, especially if a loved one is afflicted with cognitive impairment or decline. Not because it’ll sweeten my bank account (it won’t; if you think anyone writes a non-fiction book about a topic like this as a moneymaking endeavor, you are wrong), but because it contains a lot of information that wasn’t in the e-book. The chapters on exercise and sleep have been expanded significantly, as have the chapters on the controversial role of beta-amyloid, the role of the ApoE4 genotype, and others. (The idea of the infamous amyloid proteins & plaques as major causal factors in this illness is crumbling, and rightly so. We have funneled millions of dollars and decades of research effort toward a hypothesis that looks increasingly false.)
Additionally, the print version contains two entirely new chapters that weren’t in the e-book at all: one on brain fuel metabolism and one on prevention strategies. Learning about the concepts of “type 3 diabetes” or “diabetes of the brain” alone is worth checking out the book because I guarantee you millions of people with Alzheimer’s have never heard that before. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, the chapter on brain fuel metabolism, which includes the whys and wherefores of ketones, is even more crucial, particularly for people who are completely new to all this. (Some of you reading this right now probably know why it is perfectly logical to elevate ketones as a therapeutic strategy for a brain that has lost the ability to harness energy from glucose. It could not be more obvious, frankly, and why this is not already the standard of care is beyond me.) According to Stephen Cunnane, PhD, one of the most prominent researchers in this area, “two points are clear – (i) AD is at least in part exacerbated by (if not actually caused by) chronic, progressive brain fuel starvation due specifically to brain glucose deficit, and (ii) attempting to treat the cognitive deficit early in AD using ketogenic interventions in clinical trials is safe, ethical, and scientifically well-founded.”
Truth bomb: I should not have had to write this book.
I wrote it because no MD or PhD beat me to it. No neurologist, no geriatrician. (They’re catching up, though.) The Alzheimer’s Association should be banging the drum the loudest about the connections between glucose, insulin, and Alzheimer’s, and instead, what we have from them is silence. Crickets. And when connections are made between chronic hyperglycemia and cognitive impairment, the dietary recommendations are what you might expect: lots of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.
Right now there’s really nothing to help individuals with dementia and their families. There are long term care facilities, nursing homes with dementia wards, and financial planners who can assist people with getting their affairs in order in preparation for their decline and debilitation, but there are few to no resources arming people with information and strategies they can implement to actually do something about disease progression. For certain, many unanswered questions remain and there are many decades of research still ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean we are completely without actionable information right now.
I am not a physician, nor am I a researcher who works with mice or humans in a laboratory. As a nutritionist and writer, I see my role as being that of an interpreter, translating the scientific findings into plain English in order to empower people to apply the relevant information in their own lives and the lives of the Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive impairment sufferers they care for. Beta amyloid inhibits the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex? What does that mean, and why does it matter? More ATP and fewer reactive oxygen species are generated from metabolizing ketones than from glucose? Okay, so what?
My book is the so what.
Check it out if you are so inclined, or tell your friends and family that there is a resource for them now. They’re not powerless; there is a light in the darkness of dementia.
About the author: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is a USAF veteran and Certified Nutrition Specialist who specializes in using low-carbohydrate nutrition to help people reclaim their vitality through eating delicious foods, and showing them that getting and staying well doesn’t require starvation, deprivation, or living at the gym. Her motto is, “Real people need real food!” She blogs at Tuit Nutrition, where she writes about a wide range of health and nutrition-related topics, such as insulin, metabolism, weight loss, thyroid function, and more.