How the Ketogenic Diet Fights Dementia

More and more research is starting to show that people can either prevent or even reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In many cases researchers are finding that lifestyle changes are making a lot more difference than pharmaceutical interventions. One of the significant lifestyle changes that produces changes is the ketogenic diet.

Why Diet Affects Alzheimer’s and Dementia

In our assisted living homes, we work with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients all the time. We noticed that our residents who have cognitive issues also are the ones who crave sugar the most.

Maybe that’s why researchers and other people are starting to call Alzheimer’s Type 3 diabetes?

A diabetic person has trouble using insulin to bring glucose (sugar) to various cells in the body. Nerve cells are no exception. Cells need energy in order to function. If the source of energy (glucose in this case) can’t enter the cell, the cell can’t function.

If sugar has trouble entering nerve cells, then neurotransmitters are not produced.

Neurotransmitters are the way the brain communicates with other parts of the brain. Without communication the brain will have trouble with thinking, learning and memory.

Brains are the largest users of glucose in the body. The brain uses about half of the glucose that the body uses.

Ketones – An Alternative Fuel

Glucose is not the only fuel cells can use for fuel. Cells can also use something called Ketones for energy.

Ketones are a chemical your liver produces when it breaks down fats. If there is plenty of glucose from carbohydrates you eat, your liver will process it into glycogen.

However, if you eat very limited amounts of carbohydrates, the liver will turn to fat and convert it to ketones. There are two ways to limit carbohydrates:

  1. Don’t eat at all – practice fasting
  2. Eat a low carb diet like the Ketogenic Diet

Your brain will actually use ketones much more efficiently than glucose. For those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases, the ketones can reach into the brain cells when glucose can’t.

What is A Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet that helps you burn the fat in your body very efficiently. It is very useful for weight loss as your liver will use the fat in your body to produce ketones instead of converting sugar to glycogen for your cells to burn.

People on a ketogenic diet will also see large reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Low carb foods include a lot of animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, and cheese. You can also eat low-carb nuts and seeds and low-carb veggies such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. There are also a few high-fat, low-sugar fruits such as avocados that are helpful to produce ketones.

Foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet have a high-carbohydrate or high-sugar content. These include:

  • Anything you know is bad for you such as soda, candy, chips, ice cream, cake etc.
  • Grains – bread, pasta, rice, cereal etc.
  • High-sugar fruit such as apples and bananas
  • Alcohol
  • Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots or sweet potatoes
  • Sugar free diet foods such as sugar free candy, syrup, desserts, soda etc.
  • Processed vegetable oils (olive oil and coconut oil are ok)

How a Ketogenic Diet Can Help Alzheimer’s and Dementia

We are currently working with one of our residents to put her on the Bredesen Protocol to mitigate or potentially reverse Alzheimer’s. We have a company called A Mind for All Seasons who is helping us implement it.

The video above shows our discussion about the resident’s potential for diabetes and how a Ketogenic diet will help improve her condition. We monitor her ketone level using a device similar to a glucose monitor for diabetics. We try to keep her ketone level between 0.5 and 1.0, but you can see the scale here:

We really notice a difference if we allow her to cheat on her diet, usually around holidays or birthday parties for our other residents. When she is on the ketogenic diet, she remembers other peoples names and what she did yesterday.

If she comes off the diet, sometimes she can’t remember what room she is in.


Ketogenic diets show a lot of promise for people with cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’ and Dementia. A lot of the scientific literature seems to back this up. When a damaged brain receives a more efficient fuel source, it may be able to use that fuel to repair itself.

The science is definitely not settled on whether a ketogenic diet can dramatically improve cognitive decline. But it sure seems promising.

Have you experimented with a ketogenic diet? If so how did it go for you?

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Picture of From Pilot to Paradise: Meet Hal Cranmer!

From Pilot to Paradise: Meet Hal Cranmer!

Mr. Cranmer went from Air Force Special Operations Pilot to Airline Pilot to running a multimillion dollar manufacturing plant after 9/11 ended his flying career. Now he is bringing his business expertise to his true passion - taking care of seniors in his 'A Paradise for Parents' assisted living homes in Surprise and Goodyear, AZ. Read Hal's crazy career story, 'From Air Force Pilot to Assisted Living Owner'. Click the button to send Hal a message!

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America’s poor lifestyles have led to record increases in chronic diseases and lower life expectancy. More and more people are spending the last decade or two of their lives on multiple medications, in a facility, and in pain.

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