Dietary therapy for Alzheimer’s disease –
Reversing an incurable and progressive degenerative brain disorder
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) – the words conjures up images of an old person who cannot recognise his own family, does not know what or even whether he/she has eaten, could wander and get lost. Also, it is still an incurable progressive disease with no cure in sight. Famous persons like ex-President Ronald Reagan and ex-PM Margaret Thatcher had this condition and declined in spite of the best available treatment. The median life expectancy is 5-8 years.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease and usually affects those above 60 years of age. As the person ages, the likelihood of him developing AD progressively increases- 10% in those above 65years and 50% in those above 80 years are likely to be affected. It is financial burden on the family and society due to need for lifelong care and high level of dependency.
Treatment has largely focussed on the clearing plaques (amyloid beta) found in the dying/dead neurons (brain cells). However, as the proverbial chicken and egg story this is probably the end-result effect and not the root cause of AD. It has been found that in asymptomatic persons (pre-AD) there is an impaired glucose utilisation in specific areas of the brain responsible for memory and higher functions of behaviour, language and thinking. So the remedy should be to supply an alternate energy source as the glucose under-utilisation cannot be at present remedied.
We give a high fat diet which gets converted into ketones, these ketones are the brain’s preferred fuel. In addition to supplying 50% more energy per gram as compared to glucose it also has several beneficial effects which improve cognition.
Mr. S.T. aged 84 years had memory loss since last 5 years and had mild AD. There was not much improvement despite using available medications like Donepezil, Memantine and Rivastigmine. In the three months prior to starting diet therapy he had rapid worsening of his cognitive abilities. On a high fat normal diet with supplements, there was a marked improvement. Earlier, he would not realise that he had come from Thane to Mahim in Mumbai a distance of around 20 Kilometres. He would think he is just 5 minutes away from home. He could not remember the doctor’s name. He would never join in the conservation and would just stare into space. After 6 months of this treatment he recognises roads and could even direct the driver to the clinic. While discussing the problem with his daughter the word Alzheimer’s was mentioned and immediately he asked, “Do I have Alzheimer’s?”
So this simple and inexpensive diet not only aims to stop deterioration but also to reverse the cognitive decline associated with the condition.