The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Before summarizing Dr. Bredesen’s matchless research on treatment protocols for aggressive cognitive decline, I need to recap where we stand as a country in the face of this disease, which threatens the stability of our medical systems, our communities, and our family units.
We all know someone who has survived cancer, but no one knows a single person who has survived Alzheimer’s. There is no treatment for it. After a diagnosis, there is a clear message conveyed – You are not going to get better. This is the beginning of the end. It will probably be awful.
In America, only two medications are currently prescribed to “slow the decline of neural degeneration”. (Everything else offered is a knock-out pill of one kind or another.) If you know someone in the throes of neural degeneration, you also know that slowing things down and prolonging the exquisite decimation of this human being’s neural real estate, is no blessing.
No new Alzheimer’s drug has been approved since 2003. That’s 15 years of nothing. We are making great strides in cancer and in molecular biology, generally. Meanwhile, death by dementia is rapidly increasing. It robs victims of their humanity – sometimes over decades – it terrorizes and bankrupts their families, and we have no effective treatment. What? While the technology industry makes startling advances in Artificial Intelligence almost weekly, we have stood by and watched the human intelligence of our seniors wither away appallingly. This situation seems ghoulish to me.
You have likely heard neuro-specialists parroting the amyloid plaque hypothesis. In fact, only those toeing the amyloid line can get funding for their research. Meanwhile, amyloid plaque is also found in the brains of perfectly healthy individuals. Amyloid is only one piece of a very complicated puzzle. Scientists and doctors investigating the root causes of cognitive decline and braving the icy waters of non-amyloid based research are mostly ignored.
In this book, Dr. Bredesen addresses the other pieces of the dementia puzzle and lays out his protocol, which has helped many hundreds of people reverse their cognitive decline.
This book is 70% understandable to the average reader (like me) and 30% rather technical and sciencey. There were two chapters I had to read twice and, yes, I took notes. His protocol is rooted in lots of common sense but there are many supplements he recommends, after the patient has had extensive blood work done so that there is a detailed, personalized blueprint of the patient’s overall metabolic flexibility (or lack thereof). He connects his reader with support groups (which I have visited) where extensive help is offered in determining your cognitive health – he calls this a “cognoscopy”.
My best take-aways:
1. Exercise almost every day. Sweat. Make it count. 30 to 45 minutes. This stimulates BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which supports new neuron growth.
2. Stop eating sugar. It is poison for neurons.
3. Protect your sleep. 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep is imperative.
4. Vitamin D3!!! Take it. (Or, be outside in the sun without sunblock every day, if possible. No, not for hours. No, don’t let yourself fry.)
5. Fresh, organic vegetables with every single meal, and lots of them.
6. Lots of good fat – coconut oil, avocados, fatty fish (like salmon), nuts, and grass fed beef or chicken, but in small servings
7. Eliminate gluten.
8. Get your BMI in a good range.
9. Exercise your brain by challenging yourself, move around throughout the day, and get out and socialize.
The supplementation he recommends is rather extensive and it is keyed to your health blueprint. You need to follow through on extensive bloodwork in order to know exactly how much inflammation your body (hence your brain) is dealing with and where you stand with insulin sensitivity. These two things – inflammation and insulin senstitivity – are dire enemies of cognitive health. And environmental toxins….he spends plenty of time talking about this, too.
He urges those with cognitive decline to try to maintain a mild state of ketosis by eating lots of fat, some protein, but very little carbs. This makes the brain use fat as its main source of energy, which optimizes cognitive health. This is a widely-accepted practice and many people without any cognitive decline at all eat a ketogenic diet for better performance in life.
Dr. Bredesen’s entire program is called ReCODE (Reversing Cognitive Decline). His results, which he details in the book, have been astounding. I have personally joined some of the online groups using his protocol – it is the real deal. It does not look easy. It looks like a big commitment. It looks like work.
In chatting with one of my kids about this, he said: “Well, easy choices – hard life. Hard choices – easy life. Right?” Right….
If someone you love is battling cognitive decline, read this book. Do not wait for a new drug because anything new is going to be targeting only ONE of the many things which cause cognitive decline. You want a solution with addresses the whole mess. Acting early has changed the outcome for many.
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