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In case you missed it on Dr. Oz, the cure for Alzheimer’s (and quite possibly other types of cognitive decline) has arrived, only it’s not so much a pill or even an immunotherapy as it is a wholesale lifestyle change. Think clean eating, loads of healthful oils, 12-hour fasting, physical activity and probably something along the lines of Emotional Freedom techniques--particularly if you’ve grown up in a culture that discourages emotional expression and personal authenticity. Goodbye, Aricept, chain restaurants and packaged foods; hello, bone broth, home cooking and evening strolls. Dr. Dale Bredesen, the lead author in this research at the Buck Institute (Novato, CA) boasts a growing cadre of nearly 1,000 middle aged and elderly adults who have turned the table on Alzheimer’s by faithfully adopting his ReCODE protocol. They meet regularly to share their progress and you can too (or merely join as a voyeur) at, named after the gene associated with an increased risk for the disease. His MPI Cognition site is also kind of cool, at

That’s the good news. The asterisk to all this is that in contrast to similar “Heal your gut, heal your life” prescriptions of best-selling Wheat Belly and Plant Paradox seen-the-light cardiologists (eliminate gluten for weight loss and chronic pain syndromes; eliminate lectins entirely to free yourself of autoimmune diseases, “bone on bone” arthritis-mediated cartilage loss and neurodegenerative disorders, respectively), where once you’ve restored the integrity of your small bowel you can gradually return to a less restrictive gastronomical life, Bredesen’s experience has been that even his most successful acolytes quickly regress-- cognition-wise-- once they divert from the program. Which begs a question few may have anticipated, not just with Alzheimer’s but for all of these “reversible” chronic illnesses: “Can we call it a cure if only a few people can manage (or afford) to stick with the program?”

It is true that most realistic, well informed and thoughtful scientists (with minimal dependence on pharma or even NIH funding, or at least the ability to thrive without it) would concede that few to none of these so-called lifestyle-induced chronic illnesses will be successfully treated let alone cured by drug therapy. Kiss your silver bullet, reductionist germ theory of disease goodbye-- as Bredesen does, after conceding how he clung stubbornly to it for decades like the man of science he was trained to be, on page 247 of his book, The End of Alzheimer’s. But what then do we do with this (not so) new, harsh reality?

At some point (I know, “duh...”), economic and class considerations come into play: folks with the money, leisure time, Cadillac insurance coverage and research skills will both find out about and be able to do it; those who don’t, for the most part, won’t.What really needs to happen is that government and industry need to lead the way, both in protecting us from a disease-causing food supply and by supporting wellness in the workplace—including adequate time away from work to properly take care of ourselves and our families. Hospitals, schools, community and senior centers, even houses of workshop need to get on board too. It takes a village, and all that.In the meantime, we’re sort of left with harm reduction and enlightened coping strategies. Do what you can and track your numbers (see table). There’s a helpful overlap or convergence with a lot of these approaches (weight loss, cardiovascular and cognitive health, even cancer prevention), but other than keeping tabs on blood glucose and lipids, most of these tests do not figure into the standard blood work your doctor orders, so you’ll either need to speak your peace or order (and probably pay for) them yourself online at sites like directlabs.comand

Nobody, I suspect, wants to hear a story about someone else’s pet, but that won’t stop me: Eleven-year-old Jack Russell terrier. Her incorrigible hyper-vigilance keeps her trim, but at “77 in human years” she began to develop cloudy eyes and ambulation challenges I can only surmise were due to osteoarthritis or some other sort of inflammatory condition of her hips. (She could, for example, no longer jump up onto the sofa or even climb the stairs up to the bedroom and required assistance.) Within two weeks of ditching her healthful enough (or so I thought) grain-free kibble for a more (very) expensive one from animals (so far only cattle and lamb) that instead of being fed GMO corn, soy and god knows what spent their lives grazing as they were meant to… her hip problems resolved, her eyes cleared and she even regained much of her puppy energy and playfulness. Those tempted to attribute this to coincidence, absent a suitable control, as I might, we once or twice reverted to the less expensive feedlot-sourced meat and the health problems returned. So at least for me, cause and effect have been convincingly established.

I guess what I’m suggesting is this: If you don’t care enough for yourself (or are merely unconvinced or overwhelmed by the Pain:Gain ratio of Terry Wahls’*, William Davis’, Tim Gundry’s and now Dale Bredesen’s proposed prescriptions), try some of these “biohacks” on your domestic companion. It might turn out, as it did with me, that you only really become a believer once you witness these never-imagined-possible transformations in someone you care for. And then, that thrill -- that spark of newfound possibility-- might just be enough to convince you to try out something similar on yourself.

* Terry Wahls is a physician in Iowa who famously cured herself of advanced MS by eating this way. She wrote about it in her 2014 book, The Wahls Protocol.

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