Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 4: The Ketogenic Diet

We’ve been discussing a number of ways that you can help support your best cognitive health the past few weeks. With proper brain function, you can be more equipped to live the happy and healthy life that you desire. In this series, we have discussed the importance of nutrition for your cognitive health as well as the impact that lifestyle has on your overall wellbeing. Furthermore, we have shared how to use the Kirtan Kriya meditation to improve brain performance as well.

Today we dive into the many benefits of the ketogenic diet on your brain health.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

Have you heard of the ketogenic diet? You may have heard of it as the “Keto Diet.” At its core, this is a low carb diet, but it is also so much more.

Instead of carbs, it is centered on high quality proteins and fats. When you eat less carbs, your body is better equipped to enter a state that is more naturally print to breakdown fats (from your food and your body) which then results in ketones as you enter a state known as “ketosis.”

Most people are in a state where their primary form of energy is from carbs (glucose). However, for those who are in a steady state of ketosis, that primary fuel source switches from glucose to ketones. In other words, when successfully following a keto diet, your brain and organs will use ketones as their primary energy source.

How Do I Know If I Am “In Ketosis”?

You can measure ketones in your blood and urine to ensure that your body is staying in ketosis on the ketogenic diet.

A Ketogenic Meal

On the traditional ketogenic plate, 10% of calories will come from healthy carbs (ie: leafy greens, nonstarchy vegetables, and limited amounts of legumes and berries). Then 20% of calories will come from high quality proteins (ie: omega-3-rich wild-caught fish and
grass-fed/grass finished animal protein. The last 70% or so of calories will come from high quality healthy fats (ie: avocado,
unsaturated and medium-chain triglyceride oils, nuts and seeds, and coconut). This 10/20/70 keto suggestion includes all your drinks, snacks, and meals for each day. You are unique, so your macronutrient distribution may vary based of your health, physical activity, and practitioner’s expertise.

It is essential to remember that calorie size isn’t the same thing as physical size. For example, even though healthy fats is about 70% of your total plate, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a salad that is 70% filled with nuts and seeds, with only a few sprigs of lettuce. It is based off the total calorie content. For a handy tool to figure out the calories behind the foods you eat, download the free app My Fitness Pal. You can even make goals based on your macronutrient content such as the Keto 10/20/70 suggestion- and My Fitness Pal will help you meet those goals too! Great, right?

Check out this image below to see how the Ketogenic Diet differs from the Standard American Diet (SAD).

(Property of Metagenics)

The Benefits:

There are many benefits to being on a ketogenic diet. The most common benefits include weight loss, an increase in brain
performance, balanced blood sugar, and improved cardiovascular health.

Mental focus is improved with the ketogenic diet because the brain uses ketones instead of glucose as a source of fuel. Studies show that this switch can actually help the brain to grow more nerve factors and synaptic connections between brain cells. The benefit for you? More alertness, a better focus, and better cognitive abilities. Balanced blood sugar is promoted through the intake of less carbohydrates because this supports insulin metabolism in the body. Furthermore, the absence of carbs from the diet helps the body to focus on breaking down proteins and fats. When on a reduced calorie ketogenic diet, one can experience weight loss and it can also help to reduce cravings and suppress appetite. While carbs may help to increase energy during a workout, they are not the best form of energy for a smooth clean burn that lasts all day. Alternatively, in ketosis, the brain has a consistent stream of ketones to supply the body with increased performance. Lastly, a ketogenic diet supports optimal metabolism and cardiovascular health because it is shown to help blood lipid and fatty acid metabolism.

How To Begin

To start, you want to focus on simply reducing your net carbs to less than 50 grams a day. Be mindful to explore the variety of carbs that come from leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and limited amounts of legumes and berries. Using an app like My Fitness Pal will automatically calculate your daily carbs for you. This list here has a comprehensive amount of ideas to try when first starting the keto diet: Keto Food List.

Some of our favorite recipe blogs to get started with the Keto Diet:

  1. Keto In Pearls
  2. Ketogasm
  3. I Breathe I’m Hungry

Keto Adaptation

As you begin the keto diet, you may notice some changes in your body. Be aware that it may take the body about  2-4 weeks to switch from burning fat as fuel as opposed to carbohydrates. For some people, this can leave you with a feeling similar to the flu. Symptoms may include feeling achy, nauseous, a sense of withdrawal, or drowsy. If you experience this, don’t be alarmed. The switch from burning fat instead of glucose is a revolutionary transition for your body. This starts for some people a few days after being on a ketogenic diet and it typically ends one or two weeks later. Then you’ll start feeling all the positive effects of the new diet.

If you’re facing a challenging keto adaptation, try this tips: drink more water, increase consumption of electrolytes (be mindful to avoid those sweet “sports” drinks), eat more healthy fats, participate in more exercise, sleep more, try an exogenous salt supplement, and practice stress reduction/ mindfulness activities.

In Summary

There are so many benefits to being on a keto diet. Many people love it and feel that it has forever transformed their life for the better. Of course, it is important to note that everyone is different and that there is no one-size-that fits all. While some people may be the ideal candidate for a keto diet, others are not. Thus, it is important to work with a qualified healthcare practitioner who can assess your digestive health, blood sugar, brain health, and overall metabolic state to support you in your quest for a life of health and happiness.

We hope that this information is useful for you on your journey for the best cognitive health. If you’d like personal support in this process please click here to learn more about our Happy Health Brain Longevity Program. Also, be sure to check out our entire series on cognitive health by clicking the links below:

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 1: Nutrition

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 2:  Lifestyle Tips

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 3: Kirtan Kriya

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 4: The Ketogenic Diet

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 5: Is your blood sugar affecting your brain?

PS: You are invited to click here to sign up for our free 14 Days to Health Video Series and to join our Facebook group for personal support: The Happy Health Community. 

 

References:

  1. Freedman MR, King J. Kennedy E. Popular diets: a scientific review. Obes Res 2001; 9(supp 1):3S,11S,12S.
  2. Volek, JS, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body compositionin overweight men and women. Nutr Met. 2004 Nov;1:13.
  3. Meyer J. The Ketogenic Diet and Mental Performance.Available at: http://blog.prymd.com/the-ketogenic-diet-and-mental-performance. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  4. D’Anci KE, Watts KL, Kanarek RB, Taylor HA. Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood. Appetite. 2009Feb;52(1):96-103.
  5. Yancy Jr. WS, et al., A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutrition & Metabolism 2005; Dec 1; 2:34.
  6. Brinkworth GD, et al., Long-term effects of a very low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet on mood and cognitive function.Archives Internal Medicine 2009; 169(20):1873-1880.
  7. Volek et al. Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Metabolism 2002;51(7):864-70.
  8. Yancy Jr WS, et al. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized,controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2004;140(10):769-77.
  9. Gibson AA, et al., Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2015; 16:64-76.
  10. Volek J.S., et al. Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism. 2016 Mar;65(3):100-10.
  11. Adam-Perrot A, et al. Low-carbohydrate diets: nutritional and physiological aspects. Obes Rev. 2006;7(1)49.58.
  12. Volek, JS., and Stephen D. Phinney. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. Beyond Obesity LLC., 2011.
  13. Hudgins LC. Effect of high-carbohydrate feeding on triglyceride and saturated fatty acid synthesis. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000Dec;225(3):178-83.
  14. Hudgins LC, et al. Relationship between carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia and fatty acid synthesis in lean and obesesubjects. J Lipid Res. 2000 Apr;41(4):595-604.
  15. Keogh JB, et al. Effects of weight loss from a very-low-carbohydrate diet on endothelial function and markers of cardiovasculardisease risk in subjects with abdominal obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar; 87(3):567-76. correct
  16. Krebs NF, et al. Efficacy and safety of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for weight loss in severely obese adolescents. J Pediatr. 2010 Aug;157(2):252-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.02.010. Epub 2010 Mar 20.

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 1: Nutrition

If you want to improve your brain health, at any age and in any condition, this article is a must-read for you.

This article is perfect for four types of people:

A) You are starting to notice the first signs of cognitive decline:

  • Confusion
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Loss of short-term or long-term memory
  • Identity confusion
  • Impaired judgment

B) You simply want the best brain health your whole life through.

C) You are supporting a loved one who has started to lose optimal brain function.

D) All of the above.

Whether you yourself are suffering, your loved one is struggling, or you are an advocate of healthy living- you will want to take note of the 16 tips offered here in this guide.

This guide is based on Dr. Bredesen’s #1 Bestseller, The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. His substantial work in the field of reversing cognitive decline is instrumental for anyone suffering from this themselves or supporting a loved one going through this process.  

These tips would truly benefit all of us, especially those of you who are trying to find the right protocol to support your brain health.  Stay tuned next week too when we share part 2 of this special series!

1. Fast for at least 12 hours between the end of dinner and the beginning of breakfast.

This allows autophagy to occur, which helps your brain to destroy aggregated proteins and other unwanted accumulated molecules. It is best to break the fast with water with some lemon, as a detoxifying drink. Please note: It is best to work with your functional medicine doctor to ensure your blood sugar levels are in a safe proper range for fasting.

2. Fast for at least 3 hours prior to going to bed.

This helps to prevent insulin from inhibiting melatonin and growth hormone, and thus improves sleep and immune function. 

3. It is key to minimize simple carbohydrates

Such as sugar, sweet treats, bread (white and brown), white rice, white potatoes (OK to eat sweet potatoes and other colored potatoes in small quantities), soft drinks (both regular and diet, since diet alter microbiome), alcohol, candy, cakes, processed foods, and anything else with simple carbohydrates. The goal is to change from carbohydrate metabolism to lipid metabolism.

4. Make most of your diet from items that have a glycemic index lower than 35.

For a list of glycemic indices for food, see: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods

5. Vegetables should be the largest part of the diet

Especially non-starchy ones. Include both uncooked (salads) and cooked. Include as many colors as possible.

6. Avoid fruit juices, but eat fruits 

The whole fruit includes the fiber or have smoothies with fruit, but do not make the smoothies too sweet —best with some vegetables.

7. Avoid gluten and dairy as much as possible.

It is recommended that you get Cyrex Arrays 2, 3, 4 and 20 to help guide you: Array 2 is to determine if you have leaky gut; Array 3 is to determine if you have gluten sensitivity; and Array 20 is to determine whether you have a leaky blood-brain barrier.

8. Reduce blood sugar

You can do this by including fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Try this recipe to make your own almond milk.

9. Reduce toxins

Try this by including cilantro, cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts).

10. Include good fats

Such as avocado, nuts, olive oil, seeds, etc.

11. Avoid processed foods and instead eat whole foods.

12. Meat is a condiment, not a main course.

If you eat it, fine, but don’t eat too much (2 or 3 ounces, 1-5 nights per week), and eat pastured chicken or grass-fed beef. Fish is fine if wild caught, best to avoid high-mercury fish such as tuna, swordfish, and shark (fish with large mouths and long lifespans are worst). “SMASH” fish are best (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring).

13. Emphasize foods with high nutrient density

Such as kale and romaine lettuce. Each day, try to eat at least 3 helpings of:

  • Dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, spinach, or chard.
  • Colored vegetables or fruits, such as berries, carrots, or beets.
  • Sulfur-rich vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus.
  • Include aromatic herbs such as cilantro, parsley, basil, or mint.

14. Be aware of the “dirty dozen and clean 15” foods.

The Dirty Dozen are foods highest in pesticides, and therefore important to buy as organic: Click here to learn more: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php The Clean 15 are foods that are not sprayed as heavily, and therefore relatively safe to buy conventionally (non-organically): Click here to learn more: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php  See: www.fullyraw.com/dirty-dozen-clean-15

15. For grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, it is helpful to remove the lectins and phytates

Do this by soaking prior to cooking. https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/health/is-soaking-grains-and-legumes-necessary-and-how-to-properly-soak-and-prepare-them/

16. Incorporate pro-biotics and pre-biotics

Do this after determining that you do not have a leaky gut (Cyrex 2). Pro-biotics help to optimize your microbiome, the bacterial population in your gut. Pro-biotic foods include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, dairy- free yogurt, tempeh, miso, kefir, and coconut water. Pre-biotics help to support the bacteria of the microbiome. Pre-biotic foods include jicama, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, and others. 

In Summary

There are so many benefits to having the proper nutrition. We hope that this information is useful for you on your journey for the best cognitive health. If you’d like personal support in this process please click here to learn more about our Happy Health Brain Longevity Program. Also, be sure to check out our entire series on cognitive health by clicking the links below:

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 1: Nutrition

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 2:  Lifestyle Tips

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 3: Kirtan Kriya

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 4: The Ketogenic Diet

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 5: Is your blood sugar affecting your brain?

 

PS: You are invited to click here to sign up for our free 14 Days to Health Video Series and to join our Facebook group for personal support: The Happy Health Community. 

 

Tune in next week when we share Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 2: Lifestyle

Image result for facebook group

RESOURCES:

Book: The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline

by Dale Bredesen, MD

Image result for end of alzheimer's book

Golden Milk: A recipe for healing inflammation

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Turmeric has been used for many years to fight depression, aches and pains, inflammation, degenerative brain disorders, heart disease, and preventing cancer, and common colds.  

You can make it with dairy free milk.  It is important to cook in an oil in order to release the medicinal benefits of turmeric.  To get the full anti-inflammatory benefits, drink it  first thing in the morning and before bed, and avoid eating for another 30 minutes after.  This recipe allows you to make your Golden Milk in batches.

Prep Time: 5 minutes             Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients for the Golden paste:

  • ½ cup of turmeric powder
  • 1 cup of water

Directions for the Golden paste:

  1. Cook the ingredients at low – medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, until it has a “toothpaste” consistency. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to three weeks.

Ingredients for the Golden milk:

  • 1 tablespoon of golden paste
  • 2 cups of dairy free milk  made from coconut, almond, soy, rice, hemp
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • optional: pinch of cinnamon, or 1 tsp of honey

Directions for the Golden Milk:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of Golden paste with the milk, oil, blackpepper and optional sweetener.
  2. Heat in small pot SLOWLY while stirring until well.
  3. Ready to serve.