By Tammera J. Karr, PhD

All of us know someone affected by cognitive impairment, the words Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s seem to be synonymous with the ever-growing aging population in America today. The unfortunate part is the belief nothing can be done to prevent cognitive decline.

Maybe more than any other disease, severe cognitive impairments have the potential to unravel families. They drag on for years,  and cognitive decline illnesses are not “lethal” in the ordinary sense.  People with Alzheimer’s can lead long lives, the latter halves of which can get very difficult for everyone involved. There’s an entire body of literature devoted to studying the effects of Alzheimer’s on families and caregivers and discovering practical methods for mitigating the damage done. You do not get that so much with other diseases.

Most other diseases affect what we consider to be the peripheral tissues. Heart disease is about the heart. Kidney disease affects the kidneys. Cancer can strike anywhere, but it is usually in an organ or bone. Most diseases leave our person-hood intact. We are still us, even when we are riddled with tumors or on dialysis. However, with cognitive declines like Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinsons, we disappear. We lose who we are, where we live, how old we are, and the name family and friends.

People define themselves by their intellect; our superior mind is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. When that goes, what’s left?

Well, there is a growing body of research supporting change – the earlier in life we make those changes, the healthier, including mental acuity we will have in the last decades of our life.


Here’s what researchers are showing makes the difference:

  1. Eliminate all simple carbs and follow a low-glycemic, low-grain (especially refined grains) diet meant to reduce hyperinsulinemia.
  2. Observe a 12-hour eating window and 12-hour fast each day, including at least three hours before bed.
  3. Stress reduction (yoga, meditation, whatever works for the individual).
  4. Get 8 hours of sleep a night (with melatonin if required).
  5. Do 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 days per week.
  6. Get regular brain stimulation (exercises, games, crosswords).
  7. Supplement to optimize homocysteine, vitamin B12, CRP levels.

Take vitamin D and vitamin K2.

Quality DHA to support synaptic health (fish oil, fish)

Optimize mitochondrial function (CoQ10, zinc, selenium, other nutrients).

Use medium chain triglycerides (coconut oil, MCT oil).

  1. Moreover, without a doubt one of the most critical factors is Improve gut health (prebiotics and probiotics).
  2. Eat antioxidant-rich foods and spices (blueberries, turmeric).
  3. Optimize hormone balance (thyroid panel, cortisol, pregnenolone, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone).


A 2014 study reported nine of the ten patients showed subjective or objective improvements in cognitive function and performance within 3-6 months. The one failure was a person with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Of the six patients who’d had to stop working due to their cognitive decline, all six were able to return to work. In a 2.5 year follow-up, the patients had sustained and even improved on their results.

Neither the researchers or the study subjects worried about the dreaded boogyman “saturated fat” or “butter.” Only one subject stopped eating “meat.” others switched to grass-fed beef over conventional beef. The study did not require sodium restriction or statin medications – however, we know from additional research a whole fresh food diet is essential. You will not see results like this eating from cans, boxes, bottles or bags, neither will fast food restaurants do anything other then propel the decline in your health.

The researcher confirmed the protocol worked in ApoE4 subjects, the genetic variant with the highest likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. Even the cynics are cautiously optimistic about the research findings.

Today we have affordable DNA testing to alert us to many health challenges, providing time to make positive changes in our lifestyles primarily diet, which reduce the likelihood of genes becoming active and expressing unwanted illnesses.

The truth is all of us need to take better care of our brains and the bodies that go along with it. Researchers are shining the light brighter each day on the role of food and the prevention of chronic illnesses. Gone are the days when we must just give in to the wear and tear of time. With new health insights and return to the traditional use of foods as medicine, we can fight back against cognitive decline.

So now I ask you the more important question – Why wouldn’t you want to make changes that improve the quality of your health?

Here is to eating real food for the future – memories are worth keeping.