In the present times, keto diet has taken the spotlight as the talk of the town. But it’s just not about all the buzz surrounding it. There is more to it then Instagram selfies of how people have lost weight. An extensive amount of research backs the effectiveness of a keto diet in helping shed the extra weight.
Recently, however, there is growing evidence that suggests that a ketogenic diet can help mitigate the risk of dementia. Moreover, there is research that indicates that a keto diet can help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease including cognitive decline.
Here is an in-depth look at the association between Alzheimer’s disease and a ketogenic diet:
The basics of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder that affects the human brain. It is characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins and progressive brain damage. Consequently, cognitive decline is common.
Alzheimer’s disease is a major type of dementia, contributing to 60-80% of the cases of the degenerative brain disorder. So far, there is no cure. Treatment plans associated with the disease revolve around managing the symptoms of the mental ailment to prevent the quality of a patient’s life from deteriorating too much.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A keto diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet. In simple words, the portion of carbohydrates on your plate goes significantly down. However, the portion of healthy fats increases. At the same, the amount of proteins consumed is kept to a moderate.
This is to ensure that the excess proteins consumed are not converted to glucose by the body. the chief idea is to change the body’s reliance on glucose, the typical source of fuel for energy for the body and brain.
When a keto diet is taken, it shifts the body’s metabolism to ketosis. This state breaks down fat reserves in the body to yield ketone bodies that make incredible fuel sources as well. In simple words, a keto diet limits the supply of carbs to the body so that it is forced to use ketone bodies as fuel for all the bodily activities.
How do a keto diet and Alzheimer’s disease tie together?
The brain of a patient with Alzheimer’s finds it hard to use glucose as its fuel source. Essentially, your brain demands a lot of energy. So, when its energy supply becomes poor, it starts reacting.
Eventually, with the lack of energy from glucose, the brain starts shrinking and its functioning is negatively affected. In the long haul, the brain cells die. However, research highlights that a brain that is sick with dementia utilizes ketone bodies efficiently.
Consequently, it becomes clear that ketone bodies from a keto diet can help improve the brain health of a patient with dementia. Investigations have also been showing that a keto diet can help reduce the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain.
The accumulation of these proteins is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. As the cognitive ailment proceeds, more of such proteins get collected in the brain, which leads to a decline in a person’s cognitive well-being. Evidence also shows that a keto diet may help prevent the risk of developing dementia.
This is because a ketogenic diet slashes the blood glucose levels. It also prevents insulin resistance. This helps lower the risk of developing the brain disorder. The link between the blood glucose levels and Alzheimer’s is strong so much so that Alzheimer’s disease is nicknamed as diabetes type 3.
With the drop in the blood glucose levels, a keto meal plan is also able to reduce inflammation as well. This helps lower the odds of developing dementia.
Research on how a keto diet helps with Alzheimer’s
Several animal studies indicate that a keto diet can, in fact, help improve the brain condition when it has Alzheimer’s disease. An investigation, the first of its kind, with a participate pool of 15 men and women also reached the same conclusion.
This study gave its participants who had mild to moderate Alzheimer’s a keto diet plan. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Kansas and called the trial as the Keto Diet Retention and Feasibility Trial (KDRAFT).
The study learned that:
- The majority of the participants were able to manage a keto diet with the help of their caregiver
- The Alzheimer’s patients were able to tolerate the meal plan
- There were minimal side effects. In that, there was some weight loss which was attributed to the use of the MCT oil supplements
The findings were pretty interesting as well. The researchers concluded that 9 out of 10 participants showed an improvement in their cognitive test results. Although the study showed some limitations, the conclusions drawn are promising. They show that a ketogenic meal plan can help improve the health of a dementia patient significantly.
Getting started with a ketogenic diet
You can always get started with following a keto diet by following some crucial steps. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Limit and subsequently reduce the intake of sugars from both natural sources as well as artificial sources
- Increase the intake of good fats, having it from nutrient-dense sources so that you or your loved ones remains full and energized
- Take an average supply of proteins from good sources of protein
- Prevent the intake of hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils
- Amp up the intake of starchy vegetables
- Limit the consumption of fruits but have berries as they provide a rich content of antioxidants
Remember to take each step slowly. If you are fit, you may consider starting a keto diet immediately. However, if you are not sure about facing the symptoms of keto flu than you may start with slowly reducing your intake of carbs.
How to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
You can also work to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by other ways than following a keto diet. Some of these ways include:
- Exercise regularly
An extensive amount of research applauds the role of regular exercise in slashing the risk of dementia. Exercise is great for mental health. It helps elevate your stress and transports more oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which keeps it healthy.
- Save yourself from trauma and head injury
Head injury and trauma also ante up the risk of developing dementia. You also need to pay more attention to your health, lifestyle, and diet if you are already suffering from a heart disease such as stroke. Such conditions can increase the risk of vascular dementia.
- Stay socially active
Staying socially active can also help you stay mentally active. Isolation is one of the factors that add to the risk of developing the degenerative brain disorder.
- Keep your brain challenged
Keeping your brain challenged is another way of lessening your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So, don’t stop solving puzzles or playing games that keep challenging your mental abilities.
Research shows that a keto diet can help improve the condition of Alzheimer’s disease. The ketone bodies help to fight and reduce inflammation and lower the blood glucose levels. This is a helpful way to provide energy to the brain cells and keeps them in a healthy state.