If Alzheimer’s is due to bacterial infection, as I suggested yesterday (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=126), then it can be treated by diet, supplements, and antibiotics.
Here are eleven steps that can help defeat chronic bacterial infections, including the infections that cause Alzheimer’s. (Note: I will justify each of these eleven steps, and cite to the scientific literature, in follow-up posts.)
1. Normalization of Vitamin D Levels.
Vitamin D is needed for the transcription of anti-microbial peptides, such as the cathelicidin LL-37 and beta-defensin, which are essential for defense against intracellular bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for every chronic infection, and chronic infections tend to increase in frequency with latitude and progress most rapidly during the winter when vitamin D levels are low. In general, a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 level of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L in SI units) is a good target. (Some people, such as Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council, believe there may be benefits to higher levels, but this is speculative.)
2. Restriction of Carb Intake to 400 Calories Per Day.
Eating a carb-rich diet is doubly bad: it increases blood glucose levels and triggers insulin release, both of which promote bacterial infections.
Intracellular parasitic bacteria need glucose or its glycolytic products to obtain energy. Abundant cellular glucose, caused by high blood glucose levels, enable them to reproduce and generate immune-impairing proteins more prolifically.
Insulin represses immune defenses against parasitic bacteria, by blocking production of antimicrobial peptides.
To keep both blood glucose and insulin levels low, carbohydrate consumption should be restricted to about 400 calories per day – the amount in 0.3 pounds of cooked white rice, or 1.3 pounds of sweet potatoes.
3. Restriction of Protein.
Eating minimal protein helps in two ways: it deprives bacteria of amino acids necessary for growth, like tryptophan; and it promotes autophagy, the primary means by which cells kill intracellular pathogens.
Indeed, the body’s primary defense mechanism against C. pneumoniae is tryptophan deprivation. This is why people with chronic brain infections have symptoms of serotonin deprivation, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, impaired ability to concentrate, and low self-confidence. It’s important not to relieve this by tryptophan or 5-HTP supplementation, both of which promote bacterial growth. If symptoms are intolerable, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft, might be able to provide symptomatic relief. (NB: We neither recommend nor disparage these drugs.)
4. Intermittent Fasting
Autophagy is the garbage collection and recycling process of human cells. When resources are scarce, cells turn on recycling programs and send garbage collectors known as lysosomes to engulf and digest junk proteins and damaged organelles, enabling re-use of their amino and fatty acids.
Autophagy is a key part of the immune defense against parasitic bacteria. Lysosomes not only digest human junk, they seek out bacteria and digest them.
Autophagy is strongly turned after about 16 hours of fasting. The longer one fasts, the more parasitic bacteria are destroyed in lysosomes. Fasting is an easy way to improve the relative balance of power between your body and intracellular pathogens. Fasting strongly promotes autophagy in neurons, and is of therapeutic value for Alzheimer’s.
A simple strategy of intermittent fasting is to confine meals to an 8-hour window each day, thus engaging in a daily 16 hour fast. On this strategy, one might eat only between noon and 8 pm.
5. Ketogenic Fasting.
Two dangers of fasting are that it can lead to loss of muscle tissue as protein is consumed to generate ketones and glucose, and that neurons may be put under stress by glucose deprivation.
Both dangers can be ameliorated by eating ketogenic fats during the fast. “Ketogenic” means generative of ketone bodies. Ketone bodies, which are generated from fats or some proteins during fasting, are the only neuronal energy source that bacteria can’t steal. There is a large literature showing that high circulating ketone levels are neuroprotective, and ketogenic diets have been successfully tested as Alzheimer’s therapies.
The most ketogenic fats are the short- and medium-chain fats found abundantly in coconut oil. Taking plentiful fat calories from coconut oil, but no carb or protein calories and few other fats, can enable fasts to be extended substantially longer with minimal loss of muscle tissue or neuronal stress.
On a ketogenic fast, eliminate carbs and protein for a 36-hour period, from dinner one day to breakfast on the second day. During the intervening day, eat no protein or carbs, but do eat as much coconut oil as you like.
There is no limit on how much coconut oil may be consumed – but 12 tablespoons per day would produce a surfeit of ketones. NB: Always drink plenty of water during a fast. We also drink coffee with plentiful heavy cream.
6. Elimination of Wheat and Other Grains.
Wheat is a toxic food that interferes with immune defenses and impairs vitamin D function. It also generates antibodies to the thyroid, which damage the thyroid status and further impair immune function.
7. Elimination of Omega-6-Rich Oils and Inclusion of Omega-3-Rich Fish.
A diet that minimizes omega-6 content by replacing soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and other omega-6 rich oils with butter, coconut oil, and beef tallow, and gets adequate omega-3 fats by eating salmon or other cold-water fish, optimizes the immune defense against intracellular pathogens.
A high omega-6 and low omega-3 diet weakens immune defenses against intracellular pathogens and re-directs the immune system toward extracellular threats.
Note that the combination of carbohydrate, protein, and omega-6 fat restriction necessarily means that half or more of calories should be obtained from saturated and monounsaturated fats. It is important not to have a saturated fat phobia if you want to escape or defeat Alzheimer’s!
8. Fructose Minimization.
Fructose is a toxin and is deprecated on the Perfect Health Diet. One of its worst features is that promotes infections. In mice, blood levels of endotoxin, a bacterial waste product, are higher on a fructose-rich diet than on any other diet.
Therefore, sugary foods like soft drinks should be eliminated. Fruit and berries are OK in moderation. We recommend no more than 2 portions of fruit and berries per day. Most carb calories should be obtained from starchy foods, like sweet potatoes or taro or white rice.
9. Melatonin supplementation.
Whereas vitamin D is the “daylight hormone,” melatonin is the “hormone of darkness.” It is generated during sleep, and is favored by darkness. Even a little bit of light at night, like the LEDs of an alarm clock or streetlights shining through a window, can disrupt melatonin production.
Melatonin is extremely important, not least because it has powerful antibiotic effects.
To maximize melatonin production, everyone should sleep in a totally darkened room, with windows covered by opaque drapes and all lights extinguished and LCD or LED clocks turned face down.
Unfortunately, people with chronic bacterial infections will generally still be melatonin-deficient, for the same reason they are serotonin-deficient: melatonin is derived from tryptophan and serotonin. Fortunately, melatonin is easily supplemented.
A melatonin tablet can be allowed to dissolve in the mouth just before bed. High doses will generally produce a deep sleep followed by early waking; this can be remedied by using time-release capsules, or by reducing the dose.
10. Selenium and Iodine Supplementation and Thyroid Normalization.
This is basic for good health in all contexts, but optimizing thyroid hormone levels and maintaining iodine and selenium status are especially important for anyone with an infection.
Both selenium and iodine are required for proper immune function. To get iodine, white blood cells will strip iodine from thyroid hormone; for this reason, people with chronic infections are often somewhat hypothyroid, as indicated by TSH levels above 1.5.
There are too many tricks and pitfalls to thyroid normalization to describe the whole issue here, but a good start is to eliminate wheat from the diet, and to obtain 200 mcg selenium and at least 400 mcg iodine per day. Do not get too much selenium as it is toxic. Selenium and iodine may be obtained from foods: two to three Brazil nuts a day for selenium, and seaweed for iodine.
11. Vitamin C and Glutathione or NAC Supplementation.
These are important for immune function. Vitamin C supplementation is an important safety precaution because infections greatly increase the rate of loss of vitamin C, and can generate tissue scurvy with devastating consequences.
Glutathione is destroyed by stomach acid. We recommend buying reduced glutathione and taking it with a full glass of water on an empty stomach, at least 2 hours after and 1 hour before taking food. Alternatively, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and glycine-rich foods like gelatin may be taken to promote glutathione synthesis.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of dietary and nutritional steps that can help against chronic infections. However, we believe these are the most powerful and important steps.
Alzheimer’s and other diseases caused by chronic bacterial infections – possibly including multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndromes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others – are preventable, treatable, and often curable. These dietary steps, along with appropriate antibiotic therapy, are keys to a cure.