Dr Dale Bredesen deserves high credit and praise for his research into preventing and even, in some cases, reversing Alzheimer’s. His Bredesen Protocol has successfully reversed Alzheimer’s or Dementia in hundreds of people. A large part of that protocol is the Bredesen Diet, which he describes as the Keto Flex 12/3 diet.
What is the Keto Flex 12/3 Diet?
Let’s start with describing this diet. The Keto Flex 12/3 diet means to eat a ketogenic diet, fast for 12 hours a day, and don’t eat anything within 3 hours of bedtime. A ketogenic diet consists of a lot of foods that contain protein and fat. It minimizes or eliminates (tough to do) carbohydrates. In food terms the Bredesen diet means eating:
- More vegetables with limited carbohydrates such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus etc) and leafy greens
- Wild-caught, low-mercury (SMASH) fish, eggs and other meat (preferably grass-fed organic) in moderation – up to 1 gram/kilogram of body weight. They should be seen as a side dish, not the main course
- Fresh herbs, spices and teas
- Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds
- Small amounts of approved sweeteners such as Stevia, Monk Fruit, dark chocolate and red wine
How Does the Bredesen Diet Improve Cognition?
The ‘Flex’ in the Bredesen Keto Flex 12/3 diet refers to metabolic flexibility. It means the ability to either use glucose (carbohydrates) or fat as fuel. It also means a flexitarian diet in which meat is optional.
Your cells either break down glucose or fat to make energy. When your body breaks down fat, it produces ketones. Ketones are chemicals that your liver produces when it breaks down fats. They are a much more efficient source of energy than glucose.
Ketones can also break through the blood-brain barrier to fuel the brain even when glucose cannot, such as when the brain has problems such with insulin resistance such as diabetes. Diabetes many times leads to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
The trouble is the liver won’t break down fats if there are plenty of glucose molecules available. By minimizing or eliminating glucose (carbohydrates), the liver must break down fats instead and produce ketones.
The Bredesen Diet vs the Carnivore Diet
In his book, The End of Alzheimers, Dale Bredesen says:
What happens if we eat more than one gram of protein for each kilogram of our body weight? Biochemically, there is some conversion to carbohydrates, and this may contribute to the very insulin resistance we are trying to reverse.
What Dr. Bredesen is saying is that if you eat too much protein as part of the Bredesen diet, your body will convert that excess protein into carbohydrates. This is a process called Gluconeogenesis. Those carbs will break down into glucose (sugar) and may undo some of the progress you have made in limiting sugar. I am no medical expert (and these articles are for information purposes only), but I do like to do some research on my own.
And what I have found is that the Carnivore diet has achieved amazing results for a whole lot of people, including diabetes remission and better cognitive function.
I also found a study that found:
“Dietary proteins contribute little to glucose production, even under optimal gluconeogenic conditions in healthy humans.”
In other words according to the study, when the body makes glucose out of protein it’s because the body needs it and uses it quickly. Therefore it is not stored as body fat and it will not contribute to increasing insulin resistance.
It seems like you can see this whenever you look at a body builder. They eat massive amounts of protein and have very little body fat.
The Bredesen diet is an important part of combatting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The ultimate objective of the Bredesen diet is to keep carb levels low, insulin sensitivity high and produce ketones that can fuel the brain. As I learn more and more about the Carnivore diet, it seems like meat can accomplish those objectives very effectively.
Have you or a loved one tried the Bredesen diet? We’d love to know what kind of results you are seeing?