Ketogenic Diet Shows Promising Results for All Dementia Stages

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet that produces ketones.

ketogenic diet

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet.

Studies show a ketogenic diet can slow and even reverse symptoms of memory loss and cognitive impairment throughout all the dementia stages. You might be asking, “What is a ketogenic diet?”

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet that produces ketones—compounds the body can use to produce energy. Ketones have been shown in studies to be neuroprotective, meaning they “defend” your brain from degenerating. In short, a ketogenic diet is a great way to reverse dementia naturally. (For more on kept diet specifics, see Jami Cooley’s report by clicking here.)

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Dementia Prevention with a Ketogenic Diet

Why does a ketogenic diet show promise? Research clearly establishes a strong link between blood sugar disorders and the various dementia stages, including memory loss, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer’s. The most predominate blood sugar disorders are insulin resistance and diabetes. In fact, the link is so obvious some researchers have labeled Alzheimer’s disease as “type 3 diabetes.”

For the majority of Americans, the blood sugar handling system functions poorly thanks to diets heavy on breads, pastas, pastries, cereals, grains, potatoes, sweet coffee drinks, sodas and energy drinks, and desserts of all kinds.

The human body simply wasn’t designed to eat sweets and starchy foods in the quantities most people consume today, and the consequences are obvious in the form of overweight and obesity. However, underlying the accumulation of excess body fat is something far more insidious: the swift degeneration and abnormal function of the brain, which leads to the dementia stages of memory loss, MCI, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Because glucose and insulin mechanisms in the brain are so impaired by the time one enters into the dementia stages, a ketogenic diet may be a great natural cure for Alzheimer’s as it can slow or even reverse symptoms. This is because the brain is now burning ketones for energy instead of glucose, which can help restore function.

The Ketogenic Diet as a Dementia Diet

In adopting a ketogenic diet (you might call it a dementia diet), take these steps.

  • Eliminate all sweeteners (including natural ones), starchy carbohydrates, and grains from your diet.
  • Limit the amount of fruit you eat, and stick to mostly berries, as they are lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants than other fruits.
  • Consume only enough dietary protein to meet your daily needs from high-quality, nutrient-dense sources. These include grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, and pastured eggs. Dairy proteins cause inflammation in many people and may not be appropriate for brain health.
  • Eat ample amounts of nutrient-dense, non-starchy vegetables with your meals.
  • Eat enough dietary fats to prevent hunger and sustain energy. Contrary to popular belief, animal fats are healthy for the brain. These include the fats found naturally in organic, grass-fed meats, wild fish, and pastured eggs. Strictly avoid hydrogenated fats, and also avoid vegetable oils that are high in omega 6 fatty acids and known to exacerbate insulin resistance—corn, sunflower, safflower, soy, and canola. Instead use olive oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, butter or ghee (ghee is butter that has milk solids removed), and heavy cream. Butter and cream may not be appropriate if you are intolerant of dairy, but ghee should be okay.

MCT oil is a great addition to a ketogenic diet used for dementia stages because the liver converts it directly to ketone bodies. MCT oil can also help ease the transition from a diet based largely on grains, sugars, and other high-carbohydrate foods to a lower-carb diet that produces ketones. (See also our post MCT Oil Benefits: How Medium-Chain Triglycerides Can Bolster Our Health.)

Share Your Experience

Do you have any experience with a ketogenic diet for Alzheimer’s? Share your keto diet results in the Comments section below.


[1] Hildreth KL, Van Pelt RE, Schwartz RS. Obesity, insulin resistance, and Alzheimer’s disease. Obesity. 2012 Feb. 7.
[2] Bartl J, Monoranu CM, Wagner, AK et al. Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes: Two disease, one common link? World J Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Feb. 14.
[3] Watson GS, Craft S. Insulin resistance, inflammation, and cognition in Alzheimer’s disease: lessons for multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Sci. 2006 Jun 15;245(1-2):21-33.
[4] Cheng G, Huang C, Deng H, Wang H. Diabetes as a risk factor for dementia and mild cognitive impairment: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Intern Med J. 2012 Feb. 28.
[5] de la Monte SM, Wands JR. Alzheimer’s disease is type 3 diabetes-evidence reviewed. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2008 Nov;2(6):1101-13.
[6] Henderson ST. Ketone bodies as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Disease. Neurotherapeutics 2008;5:470-480.
[7] Van der Auwera I, Wera S, Van Leuven F, Henderson ST. A ketogenic diet reduces amyloid beta 40 and 42 in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Nutr Metab  (London) 2005;2:28.
[8] A ketogenic diet delays weight loss and does not impair working memory or motor function in the R6/2 1J mouse model of Huntington’s disease. Physiol Behav. 2011 Jul 6;103(5):501-7. Epub 2011 Apr 9.
[9] Kim DY, Hao J, Liu R, Turner G, Shi F-D, et al. (2012) Inflammation-Mediated Memory Dysfunction and Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in a Murine Model of Multiple Sclerosis. PLoS ONE 7(5): e35476. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035476.
[10] Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging. Volume 33, Issue 2 , Pages 425.e19-425.e27, February 2012.
[11] L.C. Costantini, L.J. Barr, J.L. Vogel and S.T. Henderson, “Hypometabolism as a therapeutic target in Alzheimer’s disease” BMC Neurosci (2008) Vol. 9, Suppl. 2, S16. doi: 10.1186/1471-2202-9-S2-S16.
[12] M.A. Reger, S. T. Henderson, C. Hale, B. Cholerton, L.D. Baker, G.S. Watson, K. Hyde, D. Chapman and S. Craft, “Effects of Beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults,” Neurobiology of Aging (2004) Vol.25, No. 3, March, pp. 311-314.
[13] “What if there was a cure for Alzheimer’s and no one knew?” A case study by Dr. Mary Newport. July 22, 2008.


This article was originally published in 2012 and is regularly updated.

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Comments
  • betty

    what can be done for the bad breath that occurs from being in ketosis

  • OTHER SOURCES BESIDES COCONUT OIL–PLEASE LIST THESE
    THANK YOU

  • Kelly L.

    Following this diet worked wonders on my mother-in-law. She regained about 75% of her cognitive function back while she was in ketosis. Would recommend giving this diet a try with anyone with dementia.

  • Hello Kelly, how long did you start to see an improvement in your mother-in-law? we have have been on it a week so far for my mum

  • Shiree S.

    Adding the ketone supplement “Pruvit” to this diet would help immensely…they have a website, Facebook and instagram page

  • Can any help me either by way of a good easy to follow book or sight for a low carb or ketogenic diet? Im being assessed at the moment as i have cognitive impairment. It looks really complicated to follow a keto diet can anyone simplify it for me?

  • Carole M.

    Could I please have a copy of a Ketone diet. My husband has dementia he is 85 and physically fairly healthy. I would dearly love to be able to slow down his symptoms.

  • Comment

    Hi Carol, go to dietdoctor.com their website is great when starting low carb or keto

  • Whitney R.

    Love taking exogenous ketones, esp for some ppl where following the strict regimens of a ketogenic diet can hard. Dr. Mary Newport backs up Prüvits exogenous ketone supplements 100% and because we believe in her work, we partnered up with her to create a special blend mct oil specifically targeted for helping fuel the brain. For more info check out ketoprincessaz.com

  • How do I know I am buying the right MCT oil in England. Will it say on the label?

  • Buy pure C8 MCT oil, it has purple label, can find it on amazon

  • LodieTed

    Ingesting and paying for exogenous ketones is a huge waste of money. You will pee them out. Ketones are free when following a keto diet. MLM salespeople for Pruvit are showing up on a lot of keto Facebook groups. They think we are an easy target to line their pockets. Nope, no thank you! I’m in ketosis from eating Keto foods the natural way!

  • Karen S.

    I have celiac disease. It manifested as neurological degeneration in my cas. A few years ago I noticed a sharp decline in my memory. I was only 55. It was clear to me it was getting worse each year and was affecting my work. A year and a half ago I started the Keto genie diet to help my brain. My memory improves all the time. It has made a big difference in reversing the memory decline I was experiencing.

  • Rosemary

    Read the book out by Dale Bredesen the End of Alzheimer’s it is amazing what he and his group have down for dementia

  • Dr. Bredesen’s book is, indeed, very impressive. I took it out of the library and after reading it, have purchased two copies — one for me, and one for my doctor.

  • Kelly L. What stage was your mother in law and how old was She? Thanks

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