The statistics are grim: Ten percent of 65-year, 25 percent of 75-year and 50 percent of 85-year olds will get Alzheimer’s disease. Yet adults can act NOW to prevent Alzheimer’s from ever occurring. And the # 1 reversible cause of Alzheimer’s is pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Changes due to insulin resistance in the body (measured by having your doctor check for a fasting insulin) start to happen in the body 20 years before symptoms become apparent. Alterations in brain glucose uptake can be detected in Brain PET scans in 40-year olds who have no symptoms of cognitive decline. As a result, if you have metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes your chance of having Alzheimer’s is 50-65% higher than the overall population.
I love crème brulee. But unfortunately, the caramelization of the crust (also known as glycation) is a good picture of what happens to the brain as it ages in an environment of sugar and inflammation known as the Standard American Diet. Over 60% of calories in the Standard American Diet come from 3 sources:
- Sugar: The average American diet constitutes 150-180 pounds of sugar per person per year including high fructose corn syrup
- Refined flours and wheat: These foods often lead to inflammation due to gluten. They also contribute to higher blood sugar
- Vegetable oils: These oils contain high amounts amounts of omega 6’s which are pro-inflammatory
This deadly trio creates an entire cascade of inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity and Alzheimer’s as well as other potential disturbances in the brain that can contribute to depression and other psychiatric disorders.
The solution is simple in principle and harder to do. Get rid of the bad food, put in more good food and the body can heal itself. No-regrets actions that can begin to address sugar and inflammation include
- Cutting out sugar, wheat, and vegetable oils with an elimination diet. At Rezilir, we call this the Paleo 30-day reset. It takes the body often 3+ weeks to build up the enzymes that allow you to work through the sugar crashes. Additional support of the liver detoxification enzymes can help with some of the cravings that you may feel under this approach.
- Learn to eat healthy fat. If you cut out the 3 major components of the Standard American Diet and replace it with organic, whole foods, you will naturally lose weight. For some of our patients, their weight loss is actually too much! They need to learn how to eat healthy fat – which includes omega 3 fats found in salmon and monosaturated fats including those found in avocado. If your omega-3s are low after these changes in your diet, you may benefit from additional omega-3.
- If your fasting insulin is still high after the elimination diet, you may benefit from some targeted supplementation to support your glucose metabolism. Two supplements that have strong evidence base and a high safety zone include berberine and glucomannan. The price is much cheaper than branded pharmaceuticals such as Actos.
There are a number of additional steps that we take at Rezilir Health to help improve brain health (exercise, sleep, stress management, heavy metal toxicity, mold exposure, detoxification, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation) but addressing pre-diabetes or insulin resistance is a critical first step.
Yours in health,
Craig Tanio, MD, FACP is the co-founder of Rezilir Health and sees patients in Hollywood, Florida. He helps patients reverse chronic disease with an emphasis on prevention and reversal of Alzheimer’s disease & Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (mold related illnesses). He is on the faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Florida Atlantic University.