Brain energy: One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease is a reduction in the amount and efficiency of mitochondria in the brain. Mitochondria convert glucose to ATP for cells to use for energy. When mitochondria start to slow down, your brain does too. But there is an alternative energy pathway the brain runs well on: Ketones. Your brain can derive all its energy needs from ketones instead of sugar, without relying on mitochondrial energy conversion. Read more here: NBCI: Mitochondria as Targets in Alzheimer’s Disease. Therefore a pillar of the Bredesen protocol is a KetoFLEX 12/3 diet to enhance brain function.
What is a KetoFLEX 12/3 diet?
KetoFLEX 12/3 is a mildly ketogenic, plant-rich diet with the combination of a 12 hour fasting window starting at least 3 hours before sleeping. Through clinical trials and the use of thousands of participants, it has been found this produces optimal brain health and helps reverse cognitive decline. The residents at Marama follow this type of KetoFLEX diet.
Can Keto be healthy?
Yes. Within this ketogenic diet, it is important to focus heavily on plant-based, nutrient-dense, whole foods that are organic, with an adequate amount of protein. It is not a bacon and steak diet. 🙂 One of the components of this ketogenic diet is a generous amount of healthy fats such as avocados, grass fed organic butter, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, and the healthy fat and protein from animals that are grass-fed, grass finished and organic.
The benefits of ketosis for brain function
The many benefits of this approach according to Apollo Health and other researchers include, but are not limited to:
- Enhances critical insulin sensitivity
- Addresses neuronal fuel reduction and mitochondrial deficiency
- Reduces inflammation
- Upregulates immunity
- Increases circulation and optimize blood pressure
- Provides raw materials for synaptic support
- Protects against nutrient deficiencies associated with cognitive decline
- Promotes cellular autophagy and amyloid-beta clearance
- Promotes detoxification
- Protects against muscle and bone loss associated with cognitive decline
Apollo Health breaks down the meaning of Keto FLEX in an easy to understand way:
“Keto refers to ketosis, the natural process by which your body breaks down stored and dietary fat to use as fuel.
FLEX refers to metabolic flexibility, the ability to use either glucose or fat as a fuel source.
FLEX also refers to a flexitarian diet, in which meat is optional.
12/3 refers to the minimum amount of time each day that you should spend fasting; for at least 12 hours and at least 3 hours before bed.”
Instead of using glucose for energy, which most of us use while eating the standard American diet, research shows evidence of the importance of ketosis for brain function. In ketosis, the brain uses ketones as energy instead of glucose. Glucose as brain fuel is associated with Alzheimer’s decline. To read more about the importance of ketosis, click here to read Ketosis for the Brain.
KetoFLEX can be fun and creative. One of our favorite keto treats are Magic Cookies.
Magic Cookies Recipe:
¼ c. coconut oil
4 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. Swerve granular sweetener (a non-glycemic sweetener)
4 egg yolks
1c. keto -friendly dark chocolate chips (Lily’s is a good brand for this)
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
¾ c. roughly chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together coconut oil, butter, sweetener, and egg yolk.
Mix in chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts.
Drop batter by spoonful onto prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, 15 minutes.
For dinner, an easy recipe is Bok Choy Chicken Stir Fry
Bok Choy Chicken Stir Fry Recipe:
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (preferably organic) cut into bite-size pieces
1-½ cup bok choy, chopped (sometimes we use chard from our garden)
½ cup raw cashew pieces
½ cup stalk celery, chopped
½ cup coconut milk (canned, full fat)
2 tsp. garlic powder
⅓ cup shallot, minced
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut aminos (this is a keto substitute for soy sauce)
½ cup fresh cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper
Melt the oil in a large skillet and add shallots, celery and garlic.
Saute until shallots are translucent
Add chicken and cook until browned.
Then add cashews, bok choy, garlic powder and coconut milk.
Stir in between each addition.
Cook until the meat is cooked through and the coconut milk has reduced down almost to a glaze rather than a sauce.
Remove skillet from heat and quickly toss in the coconut aminos and fresh cilantro.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
If you make these recipes, let us know what you think! Here’s to your health.