Hey folks! If this is your first visit to my blog after hearing me on Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ la Vida Low Carb Podcast, here are some links to past posts I’ve done regarding Alzheimer’s disease:
- Announcement about my e-book, The Alzheimer’s Antidote
- Rant About the American Academy of Neurology’s Brain Health Fair
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Type 3 Diabetes
- Follow-up Q&A about certain dietary principles and Alzheimer's
And here’s a link to a guest post I wrote for Robb Wolf’s site, about carbs, Alzheimer's, and more, after the first interview he did with Dr. Perlmutter, after the release of the book, Grain Brain.
If you’d like to learn more about me, check out the About Me page here on this site. In the podcast, I touched only briefly on how I found low carb, so if you’re interested in all the gory details of how “eating less and moving more” failed me for most of my adolescence and young adult life, you can read about that here. (You might also want to wait until you have an hour to spare. You will see from today’s post, or by looking through the archives, that brevity is not my strong suit.)
And now, on to the post!
Jimmy Interviewed Me!
Nothing makes me happier than when people compliment my writing. I think I’ve mentioned here on the blog a time or two that my undergraduate education was in creative writing, and that, if Random House or Simon and Schuster ever offers me a generous cash advance to stay home in my pajamas and write novels, my nutrition practice would likely fall by the wayside. And since I receive lots of emails from people saying they like my writing and my “voice,” maybe you’ll be interested to learn that you can hear my real voice today, on Jimmy Moore’s podcast, The Livin’ la Vida Low Carb Show.
Due to his own personal struggles with weight and health, Jimmy has become something of a controversial figure in the low carb world. I’ve never met him in person, but we’ve corresponded via email a few times, and he has never been anything but positive, friendly, warm, and supportive in those exchanges. All it took for him to offer me a guest spot on his podcast was one tweet wherein I mentioned that I had written an e-book about Alzheimer’s and low carb diets. Whatever your opinion of him, Jimmy is absolutely dedicated to sharing lifesaving information about the low-carb, high-fat dietary approach, and to giving “little folks” like me—a virtual unknown—access to his large listening audience, in order to help bring attention to crucial topics like this.
I have been a big fan of his since I started listening to his podcast about six years ago. In that time, thanks to his stunning array of guests—a veritable who’s who of the low-carb, Paleo, Primal, WAPF, and functional medicine worlds—I have received thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of free education. As far as I’m concerned, this service that he provides is completely independent of whatever issues are interfering with his own health and body composition at this point in time. Nobody’s perfect, and none of us knows what goes on in anyone else’s life, regardless of what it looks like they’re doing in their Instaface-pintwit façade.
So, yeah. Whatever your feelings about Jimmy, I hope you’ll give the show a listen. I must warn you, however, that if you like my “voice” through my writing, you might very well hate it when you hear my actual voice. I cannot stand the sound of my voice on tape. But that’s true of almost everybody, right? We don’t even recognize our own voices when we hear them played back to us, and we’re like, “That’s what I sound like?!” (As we recoil in horror.) So I apologize if my New York accent comes out, or if I kinda sound like a man. (I think I have a relatively deep voice, for a woman.) I also spoke to Jimmy through a generic cheap-o headset I got from Best Buy. I have no idea how the sound quality came across. It might sound like I’m shouting, or maybe it’ll sound like I’m speaking from inside a tin can. All this being said, I haven’t listened to the show yet. I’ll hear it for the first time when I download it from iTunes. So maybe all these caveats are for naught.
I do, however, want to share a few points that I think I missed during the interview. I had made several pages of notes to look at while we talked, so I wouldn’t forget to mention anything important. But Jimmy has cut his LLVLC shows down from about an hour to just a half hour, so we barely had time to scratch the surface of what I was hoping to talk about. Frankly, I could have talked for two hours about Alzheimer’s, but Jimmy reminded me that we don’t want to say everything, or people will have no reason to buy the book. (Like they said in the movie Never Been Kissed, “Nobody’s gonna wanna buy the whole friggin’ ice cream truck when you’re giving the popsicles away for free.” So, in that sense, he’s right. Probably better to pique people’s interest just enough to get them to consider purchasing the full thing.
What I Wish I’d Said
It’s been a few weeks since we recorded the show, and I don’t remember for sure what we addressed and what we didn’t. I do remember being disappointed when we were finished, though. So here are a few of the issues I think slipped through the cracks, or to which I wish I’d given more emphasis:
Empower Yourself & Be Optimistic
There is a light in the darkness.
The failure of modern conventional medicine
Something Jimmy asked me about is why doctors are so reluctant to give credence to a low-carb diet for Alzheimer’s, or even to think that we can do something about AD, whether it be a low-carb diet or some other intervention. Why do they maintain the position that AD is a total mystery, and that we don’t know why it happens or how to (potentially) prevent and stop it? I got flustered, and I limited my answer to a focus on food. I explained that it’s difficult for doctors to wrap their heads around the idea of eating more fat and completely eliminating all those “heart healthy whole grains,” not to mention greatly limiting other foods that most people would generally consider to be “good for us,” such as fruit, potatoes, and beans. It is absolutely anathema to a conventionally trained physician in the 21st Century to entertain the notion that someone can be in optimal health by eating butter, sausages, coconut oil, and prime rib. Even if a doctor understood the therapeutic value of ketones for cognitive function, he/she would probably dismiss the very low carb strategy out of hand, because they would (mistakenly) believe the boost in brain function would come at the expense of cardiovascular health. In that line of reasoning, what’s the point of improving someone’s memory and behavior, only to have them die from a heart attack instead? *Headsmack.* Anyway, the answer I gave Jimmy was that most doctors simply can’t understand—let alone endorse—a diet that eliminates the foods they’ve been led to believe are the most wholesome and nutritious, and specifically emphasizes the ones they “know” lead to obesity and heart disease.
This was only half the answer, though. The part I left out is actually the more important one: Alzheimer’s is a mystery to doctors. To them, it’s this mysterious, intimidating, frightening thing. It’s so mysterious, and so complicated and complex, and modern medicine is so clueless about it, that it can’t possibly have a solution as simple as a very low carb, high fat diet. (And more sleep, more physical activity, more omega-3 fats, and less stress.)
But it’s not a mystery to researchers. To the people who do the studies, who mess with the petri dishes, who view the PET scans, who dissect the brains (post-mortem, of course!), and who understand the role of glucose, oxidative stress, and glycation in the brain, plus the whole-body ramifications of long-term peripheral hyperinsulinemia, Alzheimer’s is not a mystery at all. How and why it occurs is actually fairly simple. Yes, it’s multifactorial, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond our understanding. And that is why I wrote my book. When you know what’s going wrong, and why, it’s a lot easier to work backwards and identify a solution, or multiple solutions. I guarantee you the majority of loved ones and caregivers of AD patients have not been told that AD is “diabetes of the brain,” or that it has anything to do with glucose handling in the brain. And the thing is, that part of AD is not under dispute. That is absolutely not controversial at all. The debate is only in what’s causing it and what to do about it. (And the answers, according to too many doctors—neurologists included!—is, “We have no idea, and, nothing.”) FFS.
Move more, but not for the reason you think
Another of the things I wish I’d had time to address better is the role of exercise/physical
activity in promoting overall brain health, and potentially preventing/slowing/reversing AD. I said something about people not getting enough exercise, and Jimmy cut me off pretty quickly, fearing that I was wandering into the “eat less move more” territory, which failed so many of us for so much of our lives. We moved on to other things before I had a chance to say that I was not talking about increasing physical activity for the purpose of weight loss, which most of us know from personal experience, is bunk. I wanted to mention it because of the role of physical activity in supporting/enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolic flexibility. In my understanding of AD etiology & pathology, these are a big, big deal. I’m not an exercise junkie by any stretch of the imagination, and I think too much is just as harmful as not enough, but I will tell you right here: sitting on your duff all day every day is NOT GOOD ALZHEIMER’S JUJU.
Exogenous Ketones & ApoE4 Genotype
We touched briefly upon the topic of exogenous ketones. I think they hold a lot of promise in AD treatment, but there are a number of concerning factors as well. That’s all I’ll say about it here, since I have an epic multi-part
rant post about this specific issue coming up next week. (Or possibly later this week.) If I recall correctly, we also talked just a little about the issue of the ApoE4 genotype, and its influence on increased risk for AD. More on that in the upcoming posts, too.
“Too old” for a dietary change?
One more thing I would have liked to talk about, and I don’t remember if I did or not, is whether there is any AD patient too old, or too far-gone to bother trying a very low-carb diet to improve cognitive function. What about your severely demented, 92-year-old grandparent? Given their age, is it worth trying to wrench the bagel from their hand and switching it out for a plate of coconut oil-fried eggs and bacon at the breakfast table, or should you just leave well enough alone, and let them live their last few years eating whatever they damn well please? I address this in my book, and I have more to say about it in the upcoming Alzheimer’s posts I just mentioned. (But in my opinion, there is no one so far gone, and no citizen too “senior,” that they should be considered a lost cause.)
Thank you, Jimmy!
Last, but not least: Jimmy and I spoke for a few minutes before we started recording, and it was during that warm-up that I told him how valuable his work is, and what a big fan I’ve been for years. So once the show got underway, I didn’t turn all fan-girl and shower him with praise, since we had already done that. But I would hate for people to think I finally got to talk to him and felt that it was all about me. I wish I would have expressed my thanks on behalf of all his listeners while we were recording.
Okay! Whew! Here’s hoping I hit on more of these points than I remember doing. But in case I didn’t, consider this post an addendum to the podcast.
Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition.