Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s? (The End of Alzheimer’s Program book review)
written by Nina Shantel, blog: RealDietHelp.com, published September 13, 2022
There is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and, most likely, never will be, but it’s possible to reverse and prevent Alzheimer’s through nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, and detoxification.
Causes of Alzheimer’s, foods & medicine to treat it, see end of this post
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In the book, “The End of Alzheimer’s Program. The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at any age,” Dr. Dale Bredesen outlines his convoluted, multi-faceted strategies to reverse and prevent Alzheimer’s. He should have changed the end portion of the title of his book because he admits that the older someone is and the longer they have had Alzheimer’s, his protocol is less likely to prevent, slow or reverse mental decline. He doesn’t have long-term proof his protocol is effective as the longest anyone has been on his program is eight years (Bredesen, p 54).
His protocol involves dietary changes, exercise, detoxification, counting macros, supplementation, probiotics, numerous tests, meditation, training your brain to improve cognition, stress release, dental work, journaling, keeping a food diary, tracking macronutrients, sleep therapies, fasting, and working with a functional medicine practitioner, amongst other tools. The list of suggestions is so long and so confusing, someone should seek medical advice instead of following the steps in this book to customize the strategies to what one really needs.
He calls his diet a plant-based ketogenic diet, but it’s not plant-based, and encourages animal products from fish and eggs (which are extremely high in cholesterol). A plant-based diet is either entirely vegan or where the majority of calories come from whole plants. Most of the calories in this diet plan comes from fat (animal fats and oils), preferring MCT oil.
MCT oil is made from either palm oil or coconut oil, which are both high in saturated fat. Tropical oils are the least heart-healthy out of all the oils, yet Dr. Bredesen is recommending them.
Dr. Bredesen wants people to consume three tablespoons of MCT oils and warns that this can cause diarrhea. High fat diets cause diarrhea. This is your body telling you to stop eating oil and to minimize fats!
Three tablespoons of coconut oil is 365 calories, and has a terrible ratio of omega 3s (1%) to omega 6 (6%) with 33 grams of saturated fat. Coconut oil has no vitamins, except for a negligible amount of vitamin K, no fiber and no minerals.
If you want healthy fats with a high ratio of omega 3s, choose chia seeds over oils. Chia seeds have a favorable ratio of omega 3s to 6s, 486% omega 3’s to 15% omega 6. Chia seeds have 1 gram of saturated fat compared to 5 grams in olive oil. Coconut oil has a whopping 33 grams of saturated fat.
Per the Mayo Clinic, “saturated fat is known to raise cholesterol levels, linked with heart disease risk.” All oils raise cholesterol levels, some worse than others. Coconut oil will raise your cholesterol levels more than heathier oils like olive oils. Healthier does not mean healthy though. “…research has found that cholesterol levels have more to do with the fat you eat, namely saturated and trans fats,” which is another reason to reduce saturated fats (1).
Chia seeds are a healthy, whole-food, high in fat. Three tablespoons of chia seeds has 10 grams of fiber, 146 calories, and 5 grams of protein. To eat chia seeds, just pour over frozen berries, stir a few times, put in the fridge overnight, and in the morning, you’ll have a berry treat.
Dr. Bredesen recommends starting with 75% of the calories coming from fats like oil, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and avocado (pg 193). He says, “animal protein is optional,” which it isn’t, and that a person could modify his diet plan to be 100% vegan (Bredesen, p 179).
Dr. Bredesen allows .8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight of animal protein each day, which is the total protein intake of the RDA (recommended dietary allowances) and says to ignore plant proteins (Bredesen, p 197). In other words, he will permit you to eat additional protein if that added protein comes from plants. He’s overriding the RDA guidelines by claiming more protein is okay as long as it doesn’t come from animal sources. Protein converts into amino acids in the body. Amino acids are acidic, yet he recommends more protein, contradicting himself through the book; even admitting that protein hinders healing.
He states that “dairy products cause inflammation…” (which is true) “…a key driver of Alzheimer’s…” yet contradicting himself repeatedly, saying it is okay to eat ghee, yogurt, kefir, cheese, and milk, which are all dairy products, contain salt, saturated fat, and hormones linked to cancer and can trigger autoimmune attacks (Bredesen, p 173).
He has all these kooky ideas as to what fruits and vegetables are healthy, all fruits are healthy! He says to eat unripe tropical fruit like green bananas and mangoes for their resistant starches and digestive enzymes. Unripe fruit is harder to digest and contains less nutrients than ripe fruit, so he is wrong again. People should eat fresh ripe fruit, not unripe fruits.
He says to limit persimmons (Bredesen, p 164) and other fruits and vegetables that are high on the glycemic index, even though these foods are excellent sources of prebiotic fibers and have demonstrated neuroprotective properties. He says to eat raw beets instead of cooking them, because they are lower on the glycemic index (GI). My blood sugar rises more by eating raw or cooked beets than if I had eaten a white potato. Each person’s reaction to foods varies. The GI is not a good guide as to how healthy or high someone’s blood sugar will rise because of bioindividuality.
He says it’s okay to drink red wine when alcohol is a known poison, but to avoid ripe mangoes! He states alcohol is a “neurotoxin” and to avoid if risk of cognitive decline; maybe he forgot his book is aimed at people who have Alzheimer’s and those who are trying to reverse it (Bredesen, p 178).
He says to test blood sugars 1-2 hours after a meal to see how a meal affects blood sugars, and if your blood sugar goes up, omit the carbohydrate in that last meal, which is faulty advice because it’s not just what you just ate, but the amount of fats you’ve been eating at least one week before, and how much fat you have on your body that affects blood sugars.
He recommends a mere 15% of carbohydrates to come from low-carbohydrate vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms (Bredesen, p 195). He allows ¼ of a sweet potato, which is wacky and nonsensical. When someone eats a low carbohydrate diet, they are increasing insulin resistance. By adding lots of fat to one’s diet, that makes insulin resistance worse because excess fat (and animal protein) is the cause of obesity, heart disease, and Type-2 diabetes, among many other life-threatening conditions.
Eating fat causes people to become fat. Fat takes priority in the cells and when the cells and the organs become saturated with fat, more insulin is made by the pancreas because it must work harder to push insulin into the cells because the cells are full of fat. Insulin also doesn’t work as effectively if there is excess fat eaten and inside our bodies, which leaves blood sugar in the bloodstream, so people have high blood sugar levels.
Most of Type-2 diabetics are overweight, they have visible fat (usually belly fat) and fat inside their bodies. You can be thin and still have high blood sugars if you are eating a high fat diet and aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables.
His book is full of faulty advice because he doesn’t understand the cause of diabetes, autoimmune disease, heart disease and weight gain. What triggers most diseases are animal products, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and eating foods high in fat, and low in micronutrients and fiber.
He acknowledges that gut health is important and suggests people take probiotics, but probiotics have been found to help some people and harm others and there is no way to know if probiotics will be good for some people and not others.
What people should eat are prebiotics which are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains (ex: quinoa & oat groats) lentils, and greens. The more plants one eats, the more varied fibers they consume which helps heal the body, so people should not limit their intake of fruits and vegetables based on a scoring system like the glycemic index. Eat plants, not probiotics.
He states that people who have diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s so if those conditions are reversed, it could prevent Alzheimer’s, yet his high-fat diet plan promotes insulin resistance, fat storage and blood sludge (blood saturated with fats). The reason why his diet works for some people is that it reduces the amount of animal protein, gets rid of flours, sugar, desserts, pasta, refined carbs, bread and processed foods. If someone reduces calories and inflammatory foods, they usually get better.
Just because someone’s weight has gone down, they feel better and their memory improves, that doesn’t mean that diet is ideal. If someone’s blood sugar goes up and stays up after a meal, that diet didn’t reverse diabetes. A diet that reverses diabetes, heart disease and reduces one’s likeliness of cancer, is a diet that is low in fat (10-15% of one’s daily calories), low in protein 10% (preferable from whole plants) and high in fruits and vegetables.
He wants his patients to get into ketosis, but ketosis is not a healthy state, it’s the body’s protective mechanism to stay alive when food is scarce, and there are few carbohydrates eaten, and low glycogen stores. Ketosis is hard on the human body; we don’t want to force ketosis. His explanation for achieving ketosis is that the body produces ketones to use fat for fuel. Our bodies use all foods for fuel.
Fat gets stored as fat. Excess protein converts to fat and gets stored as fat. Excess carbohydrates, on the other hand, get burned off in the form of heat. Glucose, not fatty acids, is the preferred source of fuel for humas so we should eat primarily carbohydrates from whole foods like potatoes, corn, beans, peas, beans, whole grains, and a variety of fruits like mangos and papayas. Fat and protein are more likely to lead to weight gain, and carbohydrates help people lose bodyfat.
In the Mastering Diabetes program, they mostly eat fruit, and these people are reversing Type-2 diabetes, heart disease and regaining their eyesight. Those with Type-1 diabetes are able to inject less insulin because they stopped eating so much fat, avoid all oils, animal products, and eat large greens salads and lots of whole-carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
The “End of Alzheimer’s Program” book has some good tips for reversing cognitive decline that have nothing to do with diet, like fasting 12 hours a day and eating dinner at least three hours before going to bed, so if you read the book, ignore his dietary suggestions. Dr. Bredesen doesn’t understand how detrimental fat and animal protein is to the human body and his recommendations can make people sicker.
Dr. Bredesen’s claims to be an expert, yet he doesn’t understand the science because he relies on studies funded by pharmaceutical companies, and the dairy and meat industry.
We need to eat less meat, less fat, and more micronutrients (not macronutrients like protein and fat) in plants foods that provide the vitamins and minerals to function properly.
The most appalling thing of all is that his book doesn’t discuss the main cause of Alzheimer’s: aluminum (and the Western Diet). He also doesn’t mention the best medication (DFO) to treat Alzheimer’s.
The causes of Alzheimer’s & how to treat it
Per Dr. McDougall, Alzheimer’s is caused by the high-fat, low-fiber, high-protein, Western Diet and aluminum toxicity, a toxic metal. (3). The generic drug, Desferrioxamine (DFO), removes aluminum (3, 4). In addition to avoiding foods that contain aluminum like baking soda and baking powder, Dr. McDougall says to stop using antiperspirant (it contains aluminum) and use deodorant instead. He also recommends stop cooking food on aluminum pots and pans. I would also add: not to cook or wrap food in aluminum foil (I bake most food on parchment paper), and avoid all products in aluminum cans, especially beer and soda. (3).
How to remove aluminum without drugs
Per Dr. McDougall, in addition to eating a vegan starch-based diet, natural food sources such as water and teas that contain higher amounts of silica, are helpful in removing aluminum (3). Heather McDougall, CEO of the McDougall Program likes to remove aluminum naturally by drinking Fiji Water and Beautifully Bamboo tea. My favorite silica tea (and overall favorite tea) is Organic Mint Bamboo Tea.
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If you want to learn more about nutrition, read, “The China Study,” by Dr. Campbell, “Mastering Diabetes” by Dr. Khambatta, “The Starch Solution” by Dr. McDougall, “Your Body in Balance” by Dr. Neal Barnard, my book “The High-Five Diet” published in 2021 which also contains plant-based recipes available at http://www.thehighfivediet.com and the movies “Forks Over Knives,” “The Game Changers,” and “Eating You Alive.”
- “Don’t Get Tricked by These 3 Heart-Health Myths.” MayoClinic.org, Mayo Clinic, 24 Apr. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/dont-get-tricked-by-these-3-heart-health-myths/art-20390070#:~:text=Myth%3A%20Coconut%20oil%20is%20a%20heart%2Dhealthy%20cooking%20alternative.&text=The%20reality%3A%20Coconut%20oil%20has,fatty%20acids%20in%20coconut%20oil. . Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.
- BREDESEN, DALE. End of Alzheimer’s Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age. AVERY PUB GROUP, 2022.
- “Alzheimers Disease Is Caused by Chronic Aluminum Poisoning.” Dr. McDougall, 11 Oct. 2022, https://www.drmcdougall.com/newsletters/alzheimers-disease-is-caused-by-chronic-aluminum-poisoning/.
- JP;, Ackrill P;Day. “Desferrioxamine in the Treatment of Aluminum Overload.” Clinical Nephrology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3842106/.
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