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.)

Dementia Prevention with a Ketogenic Diet

What 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.

For related reading, visit these posts:


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

[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.

 

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Comments
  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, and I was 40. They put me on Rebif which I took until 2008 and was switched to Copaxone. I had two relapses on Rebif, none on Copaxone. I noticed my balance getting worse, and my memory, as well as muscle spasms. I’m 54 now, In Febuary this year my neurologist referred me to Organic Herbal Clinic, i immediately started on their natural organic MS Herbal treatment. I had a total decline in all symptoms including the balance, fatigue, muscle spasms, Pain, excessive urination and others. Visit Organic Herbal Clinic web page

  • Look up ICT Protocol (Individualized Combination Therapy) for reversing Alzheimer’s. I’ve wholistically fought similar issues caused by high cholesterol (which is high in French Canadian families), for decades before giving in to taking statins despite warnings against adverse effects and potential decline. Exercise was my best advocate against cholesterol but then that changed. For two years I endured Rosuvastatin’s adverse effects of brain fog, muscle aches, and fatigue. A nutritionist finally pointed out that I had been supplementing inadequately with low dose CoQ-10 pills. Liquid QNol (15ML in an) and Ubiquinol in the pm changed all that for the better allowing me to continue with the statin! Make sure you’re taking adequate CoQ-10 with best absorption and Omega Fatty acids such as organic flax and/or krill/fish oil. These, along with Vitamin B Complex, are helpful for neuron health and regeneration. Prevent inflammation with berries, tart cherry juice, and high doses of Vit C daily (also for its’ chelation effect- purging metal deposits such as aluminum).
    Eliminate all aluminum contact in diet, daily care products and environment (air purifiers help). Eat walnuts daily for arterial plaque reduction. Ginko Biloba for vascular blood supply expansion in the evenings, alternating with morning coffee/tea for vascular-constriction, helps to maintain flexibility of circulatory system -along with exercise. Consult your family/doctor for approval/quantities, and dietary restriction checks prior to adopting these. ‘Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.’

  • My mother was diagnosed with ALS in june 2015. Her doctor put her on riluzole, letting her know there was no cure but the medication might provide her a few more months of delayed symptoms. ALS progresses at different rates and affects different body parts first. My mother, being 80 at the time, fell into a category of what they call “fast progression” (older female). Her arms weakened first, then her hands, her mouth, and throat, and finally her lungs. Throughout her years ordeal, she was able to walk with assistance. We have to give a try on herbal supplement which effectively get rid of herbal ALS condition dramatically after her 15 weeks of her usage,she lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took her off the riluzole (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started her on the ALS natural herbal formula we ordered. it advisable to always try natural herbs at first because totalcureherbsfoundation.com neutralize her ALS/MND which surprise everyone at home.

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