You know I’m not pushy, right? Well, here and now I’m climbing up on my soapbox and asking you to read Dr. Dale Bredesen’s new book The End of Alzheimer’s. And why would I ask you to read about a disease we regard with such fear, even horror? Because for the first time, there’s good news about Alzheimer’s disease. There’s hope.
As Dr. Bredesen explains in the intro to his book, “Let me say this as clearly as I can: Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented, and in many cases its associated cognitive decline can be reversed.”
This is precisely what he and his colleagues have shown in peer-reviewed studies that have been published in leading medical journals, based on 3 decades of research on the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s in his lab and case studies with real people. The first ever scientific study showing the reversal of cognitive decline in 9 out of 10 patients with Alzheimer’s disease or its precursors was published in the journal Aging in 2014, based on a sophisticated personalized protocol called ReCODE, for reversal of cognitive decline. And not only did it achieve a reversal in cognitive decline, but it allowed patients to sustain the improvement.
The journal Aging has shared that this 2014 article has had the greatest impact of any article they’ve ever published. And no wonder. Not only is the diagnosis and inevitable (until now) decline of Alzheimer’s tragic for the individual, but also for their family; and soon for the nation and the world, as a tsunami of Alzheimer’s patients could bankrupts Medicaid and Medicare and overwhelms long-term care facilities in the foreseeable future as our population ages. But…
It’s a new day.
I have known Dr. Bredesen for 8 years now. His wife, Aida, is also a doctor, and she is one of the most knowledgeable women I’ve ever encountered on health. They are two of the kindest and most knowledgeable people on the planet, superb and caring physicians.
He and I met before I started writing The Longevity Kitchen, when he was embarking on the research for this book. He had created a program of how to take people with early onset disease and reverse it. Obviously this caught my attention because my father passed away of a dementia-related illness. And his research was very important for my subsequent book, The Healthy Mind Cookbook.
I remember when he joined us at dinner one evening in 2010, and shared a brief sketch of a patient he was working with in the early stages of developing this protocol and some of the changes that had occurred. Our jaws dropped. “Really?” we asked, incredulous. “Why aren’t doctors talking about this?” I remembered my father’s heartbreaking experience. You had dementia, and that was it. Hopeless and helpless. There was nothing to empower you. No, the doctors said, food doesn’t help. There was... nothing.
But now, my friends, it’s a new day.
What, then, IS Alzheimer’s?
Dr. Bredesen looks at Alzheimer’s from a very integrated point of view; i.e., it’s not one condition, it’s several, a “multifactorial disease,” driven by different mechanisms that present in very different ways. He looks at 36 different metabolic factors. He calls them a roof with 36 holes, and all of those holes have to be looked at. It’s a disease, we now understand, that manifests differently in everybody.
It is NOT hopeless or irreversible. And it is NOT the result of the brain doing something it isn’t supposed to do. It’s the result of the brain’s normal healthy downsizing program for its extensive synaptic network—run amok in response to multiple factors. Dr. Bredesen’s research has shown that, “...what is referred to as Alzheimer’s disease is actually a protective response to, specifically, three different processes: inflammation, suboptimal levels of nutrients and other synapse-supporting molecules, and toxic exposures.”
The science, how Dr. Bredesen developed the ReCODE protocol, great case histories, and details of the protocol are covered in the book—the discoveries that prevent cognitive decline, identify the metabolic and other factors that increase your risk, and reverse cognitive decline if it has already begun. It’s your practical guide to a future of cognitive health. And it’s a chronicle of joy.
A mother returns to her family; a grandparent can once again contemplate his grandchildren’s futures; a musician picks up his guitar; a patient tells Dr. Bredesen that her memory is better than it has been in 30 years.
The ReCODE protocol utilizes lifestyle medicine, including diet and exercise, additional sleep, reducing stress, adding supplements to nourish the brain, reverse inflammation and heal the ill effects of toxic exposures. It’s not a one-size-fits all, single drug, magic bullet approach to defining and treating the disease. Dr. Bredesen has determined WHY the leaves are falling off the trees, and is not just trying to paste them back on.
You don’t have to wait to implement some of these brain-healthy strategies into your life now.
I look at this book, whether you or a family member are already experiencing cognitive decline or are just interested in your own brain health, as a really important read. Give your brain a chance at a long, happy and marvelously healthy life! Remarkably, you now have a choice.
Now that we know what the disease is, and we know what can prevent and even reverse it, you can chose to, for example:
- Finish eating 3 hours before bed. Give your body the best chance to metabolize food and rest.
- Remember you’re not a teenager any more. Maybe you could do a burger and fries back then, but now? Not so much. And certainly not before you go to bed!
- Make wise lifestyle choices. Be careful of what you eat, protect nourishing sleep, reduce stress, be mindful.
- Eliminate toxins in your environment.
- Be mindful. Take what enters your body and your life seriously.
A woman’s issue
As I mentioned in a previous post, “Strengthen your body and mind: women and Alzheimer’s,” two-thirds of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are women. Maria Shriver started The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement to help support research into why. I’ve worked with her large and growing annual Move for Minds event for several years; and each year I’ve attended, I’ve been honored to meet and hear speak courageous Alzheimer’s patients, including a dismaying number who are surprisingly young women. It’s not an old person’s disease anymore. Dear readers, on your, your friends, and your family’s behalf, NOW is the time to make educated choices to nourish and protect your beautiful brains.
I did a talk in 2015 at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, sharing foods and research from my book The Healthy Mind Cookbook. Some experts attending, while they loved the Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles (see below) I passed around, were skeptical about the nutrition research regarding brain health. I believe even they will be well convinced now by Dr. Bredesen’s landmark book.
Try these Brain Boosting Recipes!
I love showing people how DELICIOUS healthy food can be! We are NOT discussing hippy gruel. These recipes will delight on every level. Yum yum! :)
Dark leafy greens are one of my top 10 brain-boosting foods. And you need never be bored with greens! By working with different spices and herbs, greens become like a local tourist guide to a host of cuisines. These dishes reach across the globe: Latin America, the Mediterranean, India, and the Orient . . . they are as versatile as a Renaissance man at a cocktail party. Learn to work with them and I promise you will be endlessly enchanted.
All I can say is get out your camera, cause when you make this dish, you’re going to want to take a picture of it before you serve it. It’s just that pretty, with the peach of the salmon, the ruby red jewels of the pomegranate seeds, the vibrant green of the parsley. The taste is no less sensational, the citrus and herbs playing wonderfully off the salmon’s healthy blend of omega-3 rich fats. This one will boost your brain AND energize all your senses.
My dad, Jay, had this delightful habit; whenever you told him something that struck his fancy, he’d roar, “That’s FANTASTIC!” and gleefully clap his hands for emphasis. This was doubly true if you told him he was getting chocolate for dessert. Jay never met a piece of chocolate he didn’t like, and I have a feeling that just hearing what’s in these truffles—dates, cherries, and walnuts, smothered in chocolate, rolled in coconut and curry—would’ve given him cause to offer up a standing ovation. Studies suggest walnuts may boost memory, while chocolate, as we all know, is the ultimate mood-boosting agent. One bite of this dessert and you’d be hard-pressed to feel any stress.