By Helen Papaconstantinos BA, CNP, RNCP

What can you do to Avoid getting Alzheimer’s and is there a way to reverse Symptoms?

Following our previous discussion, if nitrates and high glycemic foods are being linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Type 2 diabetes, then, armed with this news, you can make changes today that will change the assumption that these diseases are a natural consequence of aging. Some tips:

1. Read all food labels carefully. Avoid foods containing sodium nitrate – or any nitrate or
2. Eat organically and locally;
3. Eat in the right amounts. Obesity is linked to insulin resistance;
4. Exercise daily. Walking 6-9 hours a week helps to build new brain stem cells.
5. Never smoke or expose yourself to second hand smoke;
6. Remain mentally stimulated, (socializing, reading writing, learning new things, standing on one foot (this helps you create new neuro-pathways), writing or combing your hair with other hand).

Also, learn about all the risk factors so that you lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
The following suggestions have been adapted from Patrick Holford’s book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan :

• Genetic disposition – Investigate with your doctor what your genetic risks are. Those that inherit a gene called ApoE4 have more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, however your risk increases only if the gene is activated and/or if there are other risk factors present. What protects ApoE4 and other genes from damage by diet or infection is methylation – the job of the B vitamins.
• Inflammation –A review carried out at New York University’s neurology department found that at least a third of Alzheimer’s patients have some degree of vascular damage from inflammation. Cardiovascular disease leads to blockages in the arteries and this, in turn, may lead to a poor supply of key nutrients in the brain. To get rid of inflammation, again, get rid of nitrate and nitrates, sugar, stress, avoid diets low in antioxidant nutrients, and keep your homocystein levels normal. Homocystein is an inflammatory marker for developing cardiovascular disease.
• Lack of antioxidant nutrients – vitamins A, C, E not only help to mop up brain pollutants, but helps brain cells to become less vulnerable to damage from free-radicals from fried foods, smoke.
• Lack of omega 3 fatty acids – ‘Good’ fats (such as those from cold water fish), actually put out the fire of inflammation.
• Hydrogenated fats – if you are using any type of oil or margarine that is even partially hydrogenated, get rid of it, even if so-called ‘heartsmart’ oils are added to it. Hydrogenated oils do not melt at blood temperature, they harden your cell walls, interfering with osmosis and contains nickel, a heavy metal, to act as a catalyst in its manufacture.
• Excessive stress and elevated cortisol hormone – natural minerals in the body act like a tranquilizer. Find a multivitamin that gives you at lead 25 mgs of all the B vitamins, 10 mcg of B12, 200 mcg of folate, 200 mg of magnesium 3 mg of manganese and 10 mg of zinc.
• Low of B vitamins (primarily B2, B6, B12 and folate) – Cerebrovascular disease is strongly linked to high homocystein levels and these vitamins help to lower it. The older you are, the less likely you are to absorb B12 due to diminished stomach acid. Be smart and supplement where needed with digestive enzymes, and the correct foods and nutrients through consultation with a certified holistic nutrition practitioner.
• Poor circulation – roughly 50 to 70 per cent of people diagnosed with dementia will end up diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Twenty per cent will be given a diagnosis of vascular dementia, caused by constricted blood flow to the brain due to blocked arteries.
• Low vitamin D3 status – A very recent (July 2011) animal study from Japan suggests that vitamin D may help clear the brain of amyloid beta, a toxic protein-like compound that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. This animal study validates the results of a previous 2008 study done in human Alzheimer’s patients. In the human study, vitamin D together with curcumin (an active compound found in the yellow spice ‘turmeric’), appeared to stimulate the immune system in a way that helped clear the brain of toxic amyloid beta. What was really interesting about the newer, animal study was that suggested that vitamin D alone may be able to do that task. Further to this, lab animals receiving vitamin D were able to remove a significant amount of amyloid beta buildup in their brains, literally overnight. It seems vitamin D3, a hormone-like substance – may somehow be involved in regulating production of transporter proteins that ferry amyloid beta across the blood-brain barrier and out of the brain

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Reversible Through Diet?
Dr. Mary T. Newport. MD, is author of a July 2008 article, What if there was a Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and No One Knew? In the article she shares her experiences in reversing the disease in her husband Steve who had been diagnosed with progressive Alzheimer’s at least 5 years earlier. In doing her research, she came across a ‘cross-over’ study published in the March 2004 Journal of Neurobiology, which showed that a single dose of medium-chain trigylcerides (MCTs) led to significant improvement on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment-Scale and other tests. Her husband was not admitted to the study but she wondered whether unrefined coconut oil – which is about 60 per cent MCT – could help. She writes:

In Alzheimer’s disease, the neurons in certain areas of the brain are unable to take in glucose4, 5 due to insulin resistance and slowly die off, a process that appears to happen one or more decades before the symptoms become apparent. If these cells had access to ketone bodies, they could potentially stay alive and continue to function. MCT oil is digested differently by the body than other fats. Instead of storing all MCTs as fat, the liver converts them directly to ketone bodies, which are then available for use as energy.

Dr. Newport found that a dose of 20 grams (about 20 ml or 4 teaspoons) of MCT was the amount used to produce results. To duplicate the dose of MCTs used in the Ketasyn study, about 7 level teaspoonfuls (slightly over 2 Tablespoons) of unrefined, non-hydrogenated coconut oil should be taken daily – more if tolerated. Start with one or teaspoonful and build up gradually to prevent diarrhoea or a sense of feeling full. A recipe for chocolate coconut-oil truffles can be found at the end of this article. The nice thing about coconut oil is that it can be used for cooking with, baking, stirred into scrambled eggs, soups, and used in an instance where you would normally use butter. Make sure that you continue to take Omega 3 oils at the same time, however. Omega 3 fatty acids are still needed.

Why do Coconut Oils and Ketone Bodies work to help Neurodegeneration?
Ketones are an alternate fuel source for your body when it cannot uptake glucose – such as while you are fasting, or if you have any degenerative neurodegenerative disease that that has faulty glucose uptake in the brain or tissues. Taking in ketone bodies could help the brain cells to potentially stay alive.

In animal studies it has been shown that MCTs are also able to liberate Omega 3-fatty acids from the body and shunt them to the parietal area of the brain. Human studies have shown that those with Multiple Sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases have a similar defect in using glucose but in different areas of the brain or spinal cord. There are implications that MCTs could help treat and prevent other types of insulin-resistance related diseases such as drug-resistant epilepsy, brittle (uncontrolled) type I diabetes, and diabetes type II.

In 2001, a team, headed by Richard Veech, senior scientist in the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that ketones protect neurons from both MPP+, (which induces Parkinsons disease), and the protein fragment Ab1-42,(which accumulates in the brain of Alzheimers patients). Addition of ketones alone actually increased the number of surviving neurons from the hippocampus, suggesting that ketones may even act as growth factors for neurons in culture.

Are ‘Prescription Food’ Ketone Bodies better than Coconut oil?
Purified Ketone bodies – such as those created by Dr. Richard Veeth’s team, are at least ten times higher than those of MCT or coconut oil, but at the present time, purified ketones would are extremely costly – more than USD 20,000 a year, for a child-sized dose. At present no pharmaceutical company wishes to fund research that would allow mass production of ketone bodies, aimed at creating an affordable price.

Having said that, the ketones from natural coconut oil, last 8 hours in the body, versus 3 hours with the prescription food version which has only one of the medium-chain trigylercides (C:8). Unrefined coconut oil has C:6, C:8, C:10, C:12, five other fatty acids (including some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), and omega-6. It also contains some phytosterol, one of the natural substances that lowers cholesterol.

In closing, while everyone is waiting for the pharmaceutical food version of ketone bodies, below please find a tasty recipe that will both increase your HDL (happy cholesterol) profile and also protect your neuronal cells.


Melt ½ cup unrefined coconut oil in a small sauce pan over low heat. Add enough gluten-free organic cocoa powder to make a paste. Add liquid stevia to taste, or unsulfured dried sour cherries for sweetness.

Line a mini muffin pan with paper bon-bon liners. Place a walnut half in each cup (chop finely if person has problems chewing or swallowing). Spoon a tablespoon of the warm chocolate mixture over the walnuts. Garnish with more walnuts if liked. Store in freezer.

Note: You can make a simplified version of the recipe above by adding omitting the cocoa and substituting a half bag of vegan, soy-free and gluten-free chocolate chips to the melted coconut oil. Never use carob (a legume) sugar, or soy products when making these bon-bons for people with multiple sclerosis. Legumes (soy and carob are legumes) and dairy are contraindicated and may cause auto-immune reactions. Makes about 20. Once out of the freezer or fridge these will melt.

[1] Dr. Suzanne De la Monte, Alzheimer’s: Diabetes of the Brain?, May 4, 2011. Available at:

[1] De la Monte, Suzanne M., Alexander Neisner, Jennifer Chu and Margit Lawton. Epidemiological Trends Suggest Exposures as Etiologic Agents in the Pathogenesis of Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, and Non-Alcoholic Steatophepatis. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 17:3 (July 2009) pp 519-529. Retrieved April 9, 2011.

[1] Dr. De la Monte sees Alzheimer’s disease as ‘Type 3 Diabetes’ – a type of diabetes that destroys brain cells and leads to dementia. As far back as 2003, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle discovered the relationship between the development of Alzheimer’s disease and disturbances in insulin and glucose metabolism, explaining why people with diabetes have a much increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. See: Watson G.S. et al, ‘The role of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease: implications for treatment’, CNS Drugs, 17:27-45 (2003).

[1] Steen, E, Terry, BM, Rivera EJ, Neely, TR, Xu, XJ, Wands, JR, de la Monte, SM, Impaired insulin and insulin-like growth factor expression and signalling mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease – is this type 3 diabetes? J  Alzheimers Dis. 2005 Feb; 7(1):63-80. Available at:

[1] Ibid.

[1] De la Monte SM, Wands JR. Review of insulin and insulin-like growth factor expression, signaling, and malfunction in the central nervous system: relevance to Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimer’s Dis 2005;7:45-61.

[1] Kash, Peter Morgan, and Jay Lombard D.O. with Tom Monte, Freedom from Disease – The Breakthrough Approach to preventions cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s. And Depression by Controlling Insulin. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2008, p. 127.

[1]Lifespan (2009, July 6). Nitrates May Be Environmental Trigger for Alzheimer’s, Diabetes And Parkinson’s Disease. Science Daily. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from

[1] Water Encyclopedia, Science Issues: Pollution of Groundwater,

[1] Please visit Neonatal Paediatrician Mary T Newport’s blog for ideas on how to reverse Alzheimer’s Disease. She also discusses the insulin-resistance link to many other diseases:

[1] Holford, Patrick, Shane Heaton & Deborah Colson. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan: 10 proven ways to stop memory decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Piatkus Books, London, 2011.

[1] A Universities of Oxford and Oslo team found that volunteers taking these B vitamins for 2 years had 0.76% brain shrinkage, versus 1.08% shrinkage in the control group. The study was published in the September 9, 2008 issue of the journal Neurology. The research team reported an association between decreased levels of vitamin B12 and a decline in brain volume. Reduced brain volume or brain atrophy, has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease and is used as a marker for the disease’s progression.

[1]Ito, S. et al., 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 enhances cerebral clearance of human amyloid-β peptide(1-40) from mouse brain across the blood-brain barrier. Fluids and Barriers of the CNS 2011 Jul 8;8:20. Also available at:

[1] Masoumi, A. et al.1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 interacts with curcuminoids to stimulate amyloid-beta clearance by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients.., Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2009;17(3):703-717.

[1] Newport, M. MD, ‘What if there was a cure for Alzheimer’s and no one knew? A Case Study by Dr. Mary Newport’, July 22, 2008. Available at:

[1] Erickson KI, Raji CA, Lopez OL et al. Physical activity predicts gray matter volume in late adulthood. The Cardiovascular Health Study. Neurology, October 13 2010. Available from:

[1] Newport, M.M.D., Op. Cit.

[1] Taha, AY, Henderson, ST, Burnhan, WM. Dietary enrichment with medium chain triglycerides (AC-1203) elevates polyunsaturated fatty acids in the parietal cortex of aged dogs: implications for treating age-related cognitive decline. Neurochem Res. 2009 Sep;34(9):1619-25. Epub 2009 Mar 20. Available from:

[1] Wan-Ho, Mae, ISIS Report: Where Genes Fail – Dietary Interventions for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s? The Institute of Science in Society,