Can a low carb diet help slow down Alzheimer’s disease?

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

It is estimated that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects about 50 million of people worldwide, and dementia is currently the fourth cause of death. This global estimate is even more disconcerting when considering the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to an estimate of 416 million of people affected worldwide, across the AD continuum, or 22% of all persons aged 50 and above (1).

Understanding how to prevent or slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease is a critical step in taking care of our aging population. As researchers are looking for treatments and causes of AD, diet is appearing to have a significant impact on the disease. In particular, the ketogenic diet has revealed very promising effects on the cognitive abilities of patients with AD.

The ketogenic diet (KD) is a diet that severely limits carbohydrates, which in turns forces the body (and the brain) to rely on fats to produce energy. Sub-products of this metabolism are ketones, which can be measured in the blood or urine and indicate whether ketosis was actually achieved.

It is suspected that glucose transporters are altered in Alzheimer’s disease, leading to poorer brain metabolism and decreased cognitive abilities. The ketogenic diet, by providing an alternative source of energy, could provide a compensatory pathway by which the brain of AD patients could regain more functionality (2).

Several studies looked at the effects and potential benefits of the ketogenic diet on AD populations, and even though not all studies are reporting improvement, several did measure an increase in cognitive function in mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease (2). However, the ketogenic diet can prove difficult to achieve and sustain, due to the severe restriction required in carbohydrates and the necessary increase in fats. It can even be dangerous for specific populations with abnormal fat metabolism, kidney dysfunction, osteoporosis or atherosclerosis (3). A specific type of ketogenic diet modified from Mediterranean diets supplemented with Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) can alleviate some of the difficulties encountered with KD (3).

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash

Further studies are required to confirm those encouraging results and to delineate more precisely which elements of the ketogenic diet need to be present for the effects to be observed and maximized.

1: Gustavsson, A, Norton, N, Fast, T, et al. Global estimates on the number of persons across the Alzheimer’s disease continuum. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2023; 19: 658– 670.

2: Tabaie EA, Reddy AJ, Brahmbhatt H. A narrative review on the effects of a ketogenic diet on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. AIMS Public Health. 2021 Dec 22;9(1):185-193. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2022014. PMID: 35071677; PMCID: PMC8755961.

3: Devranis P, Vassilopoulou Ε, Tsironis V, Sotiriadis PM, Chourdakis M, Aivaliotis M, Tsolaki M. Mediterranean Diet, Ketogenic Diet or MIND Diet for Aging Populations with Cognitive Decline: A Systematic Review. Life (Basel). 2023 Jan 6;13(1):173. doi: 10.3390/life13010173. PMID: 36676122; PMCID: PMC9866105.

Onions, a remedy for cough?

After a long pause in writing, I am looking forward to being more active here, and sharing the result of my browsing and researching. These past years have been filled with constant research but very little time to actually summarize and write the result of those long (often night-time) sessions. Where should I start?

We all have a lot on our minds right now. The world is pushing and pulling in all different directions, and never have we felt more divided. And this is a pretty disturbing feeling. In the midst of all this division though, I think we can at least agree that we need to support our immune systems, and that we need to look for help everywhere we can, starting from what is a the center of our every day life: food, and natural ingredients.

Is anybody coughing around here?

This winter has brought respiratory symptoms to many of us. And whether we are dealing with a mild cold or a more severe disease, we all could use some help, especially coming from comforting ingredients we often have lying around. As I was recently looking for ways to relieve a (mild) cough, I found recommendations to cut an onion open and to leave it close to the bed at night. I also found advice to infuse onion pieces in water for a few hours and to drink spoons of the liquid regularly. And I wondered if there was any truth to those.

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Blog Iatus: Food intolerances in Babies

Some of you might wonder what I have been doing lately and why the posts have stopped. I have been busy taking care of our young son, a two year old with multiple food intolerances. We still don’t know for sure how to call the cause of our son’s symptoms (abdominal distension, constipation, sleep trouble, growth delay), be it intolerance, hypersensitivity, non-IgE food allergies. We know that taking gluten and dairy out of our son’s diet helped but was not enough, and that reducing his diet without using a diet rotation created other food intolerances, restricting his diet even more. It has been challenging, frustrating and discouraging at times but we are hopeful. Now with a no-grain, no-dairy rotation diet supplemented with probiotics and digestive enzymes, our son is growing again and sleeps much better, and is not constipated anymore. Not everything is easy and requires a lot of organization but it works.

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Is your high cholesterol really bad?


Cholesterol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are like me, you have received threats from your doctor after your last checkup. Actually, I have heard those threats my whole life. My cholesterol has always been high. At some point, it reached a comical level: I weighed no more than 110 pounds, exercised at least an hour a day, had been a vegetarian (understand, plant-based eater) for more than 10 years, had never smoked, ate very, very little fat, and received a pamphlet advising me to lose weight, exercise more, eat less fat, stop smoking and eat less meat. I laughed. But I still had high cholesterol, so what did that mean? MDs eventually told me that my bad cholesterol was probably genetic. So, does that mean I am at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases? And… is there anything we can do? Continue reading

Nonceliac wheat sensitivity: A new clinical entity

About 20 years ago I completed an internship in a small company specializing in the formulation of gluten-free bakery products for patients with celiac disease. At the time, celiac disease was pretty much unknown from the general population. Few people were affected, and few products existed to replace the staples of general diets that the affected individuals needed to avoid to remain symptom-free, such as bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and all products containing (or made from) wheat, rye and barley.

Today, it is hard to escape discussions of intolerance to gluten. What happened? Did the frequency of the celiac disease suddenly skyrocket? Apart from an increased awareness of celiac disease per se, clinicians are starting to recognize the existence of another type of food intolerance triggered by wheat, namely nonceliac wheat sensitivity. Continue reading

Foods can prevent and slow cancer growth

English: Most common cancers in the United Sta...

English: Most common cancers in the United States 2008. See Epidemiology of cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cancers are a major health problem, resulting in one fourth of deaths in the United States. During their lifetime, almost one in two men and more than one in three women will develop cancer. Conventional methods of cancer treatment heavily rely on surgery, radiotherapy (exposure to a radioactive substance) and chemotherapy (injection of highly toxic substances), but all these techniques have significant and potentially harmful side-effects. Continue reading

Probiotics can help fight allergies

Mast cells are involved in allergy. Allergies ...

Mast cells are involved in allergy. Allergies such as pollen allergy are related to the antibody known as IgE. Like other antibodies, each IgE antibody is specific; one acts against oak pollen, another against ragweed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allergies, such as asthma, food allergies and eczema are a plague of our modern society, affecting between 20 and 30 percent of the population in western countries. The prevalence of those allergies has significantly increased in the past few decades, raising questions about the causes of such epidemics.

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Ketogenic diet: variations on a classic (including the Atkins diet)

Ketogenic diets pie

Ketogenic diets pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low-carbohydrate and adequate protein diet, which was originally developed to treat epileptic individuals (see my previous posts about the use of the diet for epilepsy and the mechanisms of action of the diet). The diet produces remarkable  results on subjects suffering from intractable seizures but also revealed quite useful for a variety of other conditions, such as narcolepsy and autism and shows promises for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis, migraine headache, depression and type-2 diabetes (see my post on the use of ketogenic diet beyond epilepsy).

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The ketogenic diet: beyond epilepsy

The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920′ as a treatment for intractable epilepsy. In more than 20% of individuals, the diet offers complete remission from seizures, and it decreases by 75% the frequency of attacks in more than half of the patients (see my previous post on the use of the ketogenic diet for epilepsy).

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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