Ketogenic diet as a mechanism for improving cognitive function and brain aging | Dale Bredesen
[Rhonda]: A colleague of yours, Dr. Eric Verdin
at the Buck Institute, I spoke with him a
few months back on a very interesting paper
he had published, I believe was cell metabolism,
where he had given animals a cyclic ketogenic
diet, and there was just, you know, improvement
in health span in general but what was really,
really robust was the improvements in cognitive
function and brain aging and it was just,
you know, hands down like clear that that
diet really helped delay brain aging.
And so, you know, of course, those weren’t
ApoE4 positive mice but…
[Dale]: But this is the exact same thing we’re
seeing with people, and especially people
with early cognitive decline.
Now, as you go later and later, it’s more
and more difficult, but we have seen people
even with MoCA scores of zero show improvement.
So, yes, I think the work that you quoted
supports that notion, that in fact, having
ketones is actually quite helpful for cognition.
Do you think, and here’s a couple of questions
related to that, and that is, you know, is
that…you know, probably multiple things,
but one, because you’re obviously going to
have improved insulin sensitivity, you’re
not going to have high blood glucose levels
and all the inflammatory processes associated
Also the ketones, as you mentioned, are used
by the brain quite nicely.
And interestingly, it actually spares…are
you familiar with the glucose sparing, what
happens with the…yeah, so glucose gets spared
to make NADPH, a precursor for glutathione
so that helps repair damage.
But I’m wondering if people like myself, I
don’t really practice a ketogenic diet but
I also don’t…I eat a very healthy diet.
I definitely try to make sure I don’t eat
anything refined, no refined carbohydrates
or processed food or things like that.
But the thing is, is that my…so my fasting
insulin’s really good and my blood glucose
and all that’s really good.
So, for me going on ketogenic diet, do you
think there would still be more benefit even
though the whole, you know, insulin sensitivity
thing…maybe it would still improve, I’m
[Dale]: Well, I think the only way you’re
going to know is to try it.
[Rhonda]: To try it, yeah.
[Dale]: And you know, you can even do so all
sorts of online evaluations for your own cognitive
And I do think that many of us are sub-optimal
in our metabolism, and we know this.
One of the problems, of course, is that there
have been a lot of assumptions made during
the 20th century.
Yes, it’s fine to have processed foods, it’s
just as good, you know, it’s fine to have
more sugar, on and on and on, which just simply
have turned out to be wrong.
And it has to do with sleep, it has to do
with exercise, all sorts of things.
We were built, as human creatures, to do certain
things well and to do other things we weren’t
If we all were jumping out of a third-story
windows as something to do that would be fun
that would not go over well for us.
And to some extent, we’re doing the same thing
with the way we’re living.
So, obviously, you’ve managed to stay fit
and to have a good fasting insulin and all
these sorts of things.
However, a little bit will depend on what
you’re actually doing, for example, where
is your hemoglobin A1C?
For example, is there some inflammation there
The bottom line is that we were not made as
human organisms to consume the amount of simple
carbs that we typically are exposed to.
So to some extent, just as we’re being exposed
to all these other toxins, of course, sugar
is one of them.
And whether you try to be exposed to it or
not often we are exposed to it from all sorts
of different foods and things like that.
[Rhonda]: Going out to eat, you never know.
[Dale]: Going out to eat…there’s also the
whole issue of leaky gut.
So many people…and this wasn’t even known
as a problem when I was in medical school
but it’s become very clear that it’s very
It does contribute to chronic inflammatory
conditions like arthritis and like cognitive
So, I think that having a high-fat diet has
been helpful for many people, but what you
can suggest is, look, if you ever have any
cognitive decline get in as early as possible
and then consider this.
In your case, of course, as you indicated,
you’re interested in prevention because you
already know that you’re ApoE4 positive, so
it might be worth trying it just to see, but
you know, obviously, you’re doing a lot of
other things right currently.
[Rhonda]: And measuring a lot of different…you
know, other cardiovascular-rated biomarkers
is also good so you’re going to measure things
like LDL particles, number and size, and triglycerides,
and all those things as well to make sure
that the changes you’re making are actually
going to be good for you.
I think that’s very important.