In recent years, many doctors, scientists and researchers have been confronted with the ills of the century, brain diseases, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementias, etc. They are all anxiously leaning towards a probably fruitless search, the discovery of a drug, a therapy that works for everything, a substance that is the panacea for these ills.
Little is known, however, about the role of nutrition and lifestyle changes and how much these can increase the pathologies of which the cause is often not yet knownt . Today neurological diseases and mental disorders can be traced back to biological and pathogenetic processes of brain function, a sort of “neuroinflammation“.
Investigating the major food changes that took place in our “era”, the Anthropocene we see that sugars, cereals, carbohydrates in general have conquered the world. We have gone from the Paleolithic dominated by meat and a culture of hunters, through a Neolithic centered on the discovery of agriculture, the food industry and livestock, in an exponential way.
In particular, this world based on sugars is characterized by a man compromised by now chronic inflammatory processes. Adipose tissue, visceral fat, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes produce growth and inflammatory factors from which it is difficult to escape. An early feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is region-specific declines in brain glucose metabolism. Unlike other tissues in the body, the brain does not efficiently metabolize fats; hence the adult human brain relies almost exclusively on glucose as an energy substrate. Therefore, inhibition of glucose metabolism can have profound effects on brain function.
In this regard, the term diabetes III has recently been coined to explain some neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and therefore the dependence of these inflammations on an excess of sugars and carbohydrates. How do we detox from all this sugar since we have always been taught that the brain only consumes glucose? The hypometabolism seen in AD has recently attracted attention as a possible target for intervention in the disease process. One promising approach is to supplement the normal glucose supply of the brain with ketone bodies (KB), which include acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
Neurons and astrocytes are also able to produce energy using B-Hydroxybutyrate BHB (the ketone par excellence). Studies on prolonged fasting, during which there is an important production of ketones used to feed our brain, cognitive functions work as well as when it consumes only glucose.
Ketones have allowed us to survive long periods of fasting, famine and to chase prey until they are exhausted to catch them (ketones also nourish the heart and muscles well). In some in vitro studies it has been confirmed that the brain metabolizes BHB in priority over glucose. BHB have been induced both by direct infusion and by the administration of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-protein, ketogenic diets.
Recently, children with epilepsy refractory to drug therapy have been treated with the use of exogenous BHB. In neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) neurons live longer, exerting a preventive effect with ketogenic diets and BHB supplementation. In all cases where there is a reduced availability of oxygen, the cell benefits from BHB as the best metabolic substrate.
Cognitive impairment and neuronal survival from micro embolisms tends to improve after BHB administration. Our brain, even if it constitutes 2/3% of the body weight, spends from 20 to 40% of the available calories; but what allows us to produce all the energy we need for such a spectacular brain if not ketones? We are the only species capable of burning glucose (and if it is too much, of getting sick); but above all we are capable of outstanding performance by burning BHB.
This article is co-authored by :
Dr. Massimo Caliendo, a renowned doctor and a nutritionist from Italy having a wide range of practice in Bergamo, Milan, Parma, Perugia and Naples.
He holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery, specialised in Clinical Pathology and is an expert in Phytotherapy, Unconventional Medicine, Ayurvedic, Sports Nutrition, Preventive and Anti-Aging Nutrition. He also holds a Doctorate in Osteopathy. He is a scientific consultant and a researcher at the Vatican Pontifical University.
He is a Member of the Permanent National Commission in Nutrition of the National Order of Biologists, founding Member of Neuroscience “Cerebro” in Milan and Member of the Network of the Second Opinion of the University of Modena.
He is also the author of the book “Bioenergetic Food” published by Xenia (2013).
Dr..Mary Priyadharshini, currently pursuing her Masters in Radiation Oncology, in the prestigious institute of Madras Medical College, Chennai.