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One of the best ways to keep Alzheimer’s disease (or any type of cognitive decline) at bay is to take charge of what you put in your body. Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen both have always said that “food is medicine or it’s poison”, and this notion is especially true when it comes to preventing cognitive decline. In this fourth and final episode with “The End of Alzheimer’s Program” author Dr. Dale Bredesen, he and the Amens break down exactly what you should be eating to decimate your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We are still here with our friend and colleague, Dr. Dale Bredesen, and we are talking about his book: The End of Alzheimer’s Program. In this episode, we’re going to actually answer questions.
One question I have, Dr. Bredesen, is really … We often talk about how, even if you’ve been bad to your brain, you can still make it better, so you’re not stuck with the brain you have.
In your program, tell us about some of the cases that you know of. I’d love to hear about a specific case, where someone has been really pretty bad to their brain or they’re pretty far down the road with Alzheimer’s, where their symptoms are really awful and you’ve seen significant improvement.
I actually heard you before we came back on talking about Lewy body dementia. Tell us something that gives people hope, that if they were bad to their brain in their 20s or 30s and they know they’re headed to the dark place, that they’ve got hope for coming back if they do this program.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yeah, great point. Let me just mention one of the people who wrote this with me, the Handbook section of it: Julie Gee, who’s the one who founded apoe4.info, and is herself a 4/4.
She had a long history. She had insulin resistance. She gained a little extra weight, as so many of us do. She had ongoing systemic inflammation. Her gut was not in great shape. She was eating the wrong foods. She had a tick bite, which [inaudible [00:02:14] her Lyme that was treated. But she didn’t realize until actually she got on the program, and we found out she also had gotten Babesia, which she’s now being treated for and doing very well.
So, she had all these risk factors. Not only did she start to decline, in fact her husband would come home from a trip abroad and say, “Oh, yeah. I’ve been gone for a week or two. You’re clearly worse than you were.” She was having problems in her late-40s, and unfortunately other family members were having problems. It’s just a really sad story. She got to the point where she had to put a sticky on the steering wheel that said, “Drive on the right side of the road.”
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Oh, wow.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: She had been doing some jogging on the left side of the road, and she had to make sure that she didn’t get those two mixed up. So, she was really struggling and having some issues. She would go shopping, come back, and hadn’t brought a thing that she bought back home with her, so really significant problems.
She scored, on her cognitive tests, only at a 35th percentile for her age at that time. She has now eight years on the program and doing exceedingly well, scoring 98th, 99th percentile repeatedly and doing absolutely beautifully.
She corrected her dietary, her exercise part, her stress levels. She corrected her insulin sensitivity. She optimized her nutrients, and her vitamin D, and her Omega-3s and all those things. She ultimately treated her Babesia. She started doing some brain training.
All of these things were critical. She checked her toxin status. She has a high fiber … a diet that we call KetoFlex 12/3, because it gives you mild ketosis. She clearly does better, as so many people do, with some degree of ketosis, typically in the 1.0 to 4.0 millimolar beta-hydroxy butyrate range. So, she has just become, really, an international emissary for doing the right things and having dramatic improvements in your brain.
You mentioned, what about someone who is really far along? I got a critical letter a couple of months ago from a guy who said, “My wife is in a nursing home, had a MoCA score of zero. We put her on this program, and you tell people to get on it as early as possible.” He said, “Well, we put her on, and she is clearly better. She’s dressing herself again. She’s interacting with us again. She’s speaking again.” All these improvements. Now, her MoCA score is still low, but she’s clearly symptomatically much better than she was.
So, even with late … Now to be fair, as you know, the later, the harder it is to get things turned around. Everybody in the early stages can be turned around. We see it again, and again, and again, and again, with people who have subjective cognitive impairment or mild MCI. So, there’s a tremendous amount you can do, as you indicate.
Daniel Amen, MD: Often the worst thing to do is isolation, put them in a nursing home where they get to choose their food.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Right.
Daniel Amen, MD: Because what they choose are the high carb, pro-inflammatory foods. Let’s talk about diet. I think probably your next book is going to be The End of Alzheimer’s Cookbook. And I mean, why not, right? Because food is such an important part of this. What do you think is the best brain health diet to keep your brain young?
Tana Amen, BSN RN: I heard you say “mild ketosis.” Give our listeners an actual example of what you would suggest, like actually what you would have for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Because we know what that means, but we need them to hear, practically, what that means.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yeah. And so again, you want to be in the 1.0 to 4.0 millimolar beta-hydroxy butyrate. We’re just actually testing an interesting breathalyzer that might make this much easier, I hope.
As far as what to eat, I think we’ve all come to the same conclusion that simple carbs are really damaging for your brain, and of course MRI studies show it, your SPECT scan studies show it. All these things show that this is a problem. So, what you want to do … I know during COVID-19, one of the things I found very interesting is just to do Cronometer, a free app you can look at and just basically record what are you having each day, and you can look at your percentage.
So, you want a high good fats diet, a low carbohydrate diet. We’re talking typically about 75% of the calories coming from good fats; about 10% coming from carbs; and about 15% or so coming from proteins. Somewhere in the .8 to 1 gram per kilogram of good proteins, and make them good fish. Or, if it’s going to be chicken, pastured chicken; and if it’s going to be beef, grass-fed beef, so that you’ve got a good Omega-3 to Omega-6 ration. For the fish, of course, the SMASH fish.
For breakfast … Actually, my wife has breakfast every morning and typically has a salad, and I think that’s a great idea. So many of these breakfast foods we’ve come to know and love can just skyrocket your glucose. They have high glycemic indices, so you don’t want to go and get up, and have something like a breakfast cereal that’s got a lot of carbs in it.
You want to have something that’s going to be good fats. You know, eggs, and get some good pastured eggs, which I love for breakfast. I think it’s a great way to go.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: So, more like eggs and avocado with a little spinach.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Absolutely. Eggs, avocado, spinach, and good oils to go with it, a salad. Then for lunch maybe you have a big … Again, make salad the big part of your plate, and you can have some fish at lunch with your salad. Best to have the SMASH fish, of course. You know, the salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring. Just stay away from the high mercury fish, of course, which are the ones … the shark, and the tuna, and the swordfish, and things like that.
And then, for dinner you might have something like some pastured chicken. Again, you don’t want to overdo it. You don’t want to have a plate full of chicken or steak. Have greens. Maybe you have some broccoli. The cruciferous are fantastic, as you know, for detox. Of course, the whole lectin issues has been really interesting. Some people are very sensitive to these, some people not, and so it’s good to see whether you are sensitive to lectins or not.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: One thing that we’ve often wondered, because will always say, “Well, I don’t understand how much protein that is.” If people aren’t where they can measure and actually figure it out, I always tell them to shake hands with protein. What do you say about that?
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Absolutely.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: A good way to measure [inaudible [00:09:12].
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Or a card deck. Something like that is [inaudible [00:09:12] the right amount. So, yeah. A card deck size is going to give you something like four ounces or so.
Daniel Amen, MD: I actually have a little scale-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Right, but if you’re out.
Daniel Amen, MD: … on our kitchen counter. Well, you have to learn, and it’s better to learn at home. During the pandemic, I noticed my weight started to go up, and what I do is I put a tape measure around my waist.
All of you who are listening, do not go by your pant size. The clothing industry knows you’re irritated by your weight, and they just lie. So, a 34 may actually be 37.
One of the pastors I treat, I’m like, “Hey, what’s your waist size?” He said, “40,” and I put a tape measure around his waist. I barely could get it around. It was 48. I’m like, “Dude, you’re four feet around.”
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Because he was low energy. Yeah.
Daniel Amen, MD: Measure at your belly button. I’d put on like an inch-and-a-half, which really irritated me, and so what I do when my weight starts to go up is I actually start counting everything I put in my mouth, because I think of calories like money, and I’m a value spender.
As you weigh and measure things, you really know what you’re putting in your body. If you’re having trouble maintaining your weight, eating, like Tana talks about or Dale talks about, then make sure you’re not eating too much. Because sometimes the oils are very calorie dense, and you have to be careful.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: And so, between the two of us, we sort of balance each other out My issue isn’t that … I don’t count calories, because I sort of already know in my head how many calories things are, essentially. For me, it’s more the quality of the calories. So, between the two of us, he’s always paying attention to the calories, and I do agree that they matter.
Daniel Amen, MD: No, I pay attention to the quality, because that’s what matters more.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: So, between the two of us … Right.
Daniel Amen, MD: Right? But you can eat more, and it doesn’t really show up in your weight. For me, because I have obesity in my family-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: But I also exercise a lot.
Daniel Amen, MD: But I also have obesity in my family, so it’s just something … For me, I know it’s one of the worst factors, so I would totally have this sweet type of Alzheimer’s disease. My grandfather was a candy maker, and so my best memories were making candy with my grandfather. So, I have to really work on that part of it.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Right. And so, between the two of us we sort of balance out with that.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Daniel, what you were describing, this is the COVID cushion that-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yes, the COVID-19.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: The cushion we’re all getting from being at home. Part of it, of course, is anxiety.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: It is. It is.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: You were just talking about the quality of the calories, and one of the things that’s come out of this … You know, you look at all the different things: the iodine that you need, the magnesium. So many of us are deficient in zinc and magnesium, and I think the one that is of most concern right now to me is choline.
You need about 550 milligrams a day of choline. Most of us are deficient in that, and this is a huge problem because you cannot make the acetylcholine that is the most important transmitter for memory, and that is reduced in Alzheimer’s disease. So, I really suggest to everyone, please make sure you are getting enough choline each day.
Daniel Amen, MD: And you can do that with … by supplement, but you could do it with shrimp or eggs-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Eggs, right? Yeah.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Liver, organ meats, things like that. Oysters, things like that. There are a number of ways, but you’re absolutely right. Of course, Professor Richard Wurtman from MIT spent so many years looking at synaptic … what’s required to make synapses. His ultimate conclusion was, it’s critical to have acetylcholine and to have Omega-3s.
So, if you’re not getting enough choline, you could take citicholine. You can take lecithin, you can take acetylcholine, you can take GPC choline. So, lots of ways to get your choline, but please get enough choline.
Daniel Amen, MD: Great. Well, you have just been such a blessing to us and to so many people who have read your book, worked your program. The new book is called, The End of Alzheimer’s Program. It’s by Random House. You can get it anywhere great books are sold. How else can people learn about you and your work? Where can they go?
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yeah. Thank you so much, Daniel and Tana. Just absolutely great talking to you guys. I always enjoy it. Thank you.
You can go to drbredesen.com. You can go to mycognoscopy.com. We all know about getting a colonoscopy. You want to get a cognoscopy to see where you stand, as you indicated earlier. So, mycognoscopy.com or drbredesen.com, or apollohealthco.com.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Okay. I’m going to spell that out. It’s Dr. B-R-E-D-E-S-E-N.com. drbredesen.com. Just so people can find you.
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