The ReCODE Protocol™ way of eating is known as Ketoflex 12/3™
Here’s my outline of the Ketoflex 12/3™ diet. (See photos below for what my personal Ketoflex™ diet looks like.)
- lots of non-starchy colorful vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados, herbs, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish/seafood, mushrooms, non-polluted water, and olive oil
- some non-tropical fruits, grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, legumes, coconut, ghee/butter, starchy vegetables, and coffee/tea
- minimal processed foods (i.e. flour), added sugar, high-glycemic fruit, gluten-free whole grains, dairy (small amounts if well tolerated), gluten (none if intolerant), pesticides/additives, and high-mercury fish
- consume food within a 12-hour window of your day and finish eating 3 hours before bedtime
- supplemental MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) when helpful to support nutritional ketosis
- over the long-term, ApoE4+ individuals are advised to limit their intake of saturated fat, including the aforementioned coconut products, ghee/butter, pasture-raised fatty meats, and MCTs
Please read the “The End of Alzheimer’s” for the finer details about Ketoflex 12/3™ eating. Ketoflex™ is plant-rich and low in processed foods overall such that carbohydrates come with ample fiber and phytonutrients. It is lower in meat, total protein, and saturated fat than many popular ketogenic diets.
Ketoflex™ is a template of an eating pattern for nurturing brain health and a diet that most people thrive on. In my coaching, I help individuals personalize and optimize their diet to best suit them.
The Ketoflex™ diet designed for preventing and treating cognitive decline will be low carb, but doesn’t necessarily keep people in continuous ketosis. Ketosis is a normal metabolic state of the body when ketones are generated while burning fat for fuel due to carbohydrates (and glucogenic amino acids) being in short supply. On the Bredesen ReCODE Protocol™ , people with cognitive decline are usually advised to try a therapeutically ultra low carb version of the Ketoflex™ diet to get them into a sustained state of ketosis. The Ketoflex™ dietary therapy was designed especially for older adults at risk for or reversing dementia. Pregnant women, some athletes, kids, and people with other conditions might be served with a different macronutrient profile.
Since Dr. Bredesen’s book doesn’t provide Ketoflex™ recipes or meal plans, you can explore some recipes here. If you subscribe to the ReCODE or ReVERSE program, you’ll receive access to online “Nutritional Guidelines” for Ketoflex™. I provide my own extensive food, grocery shopping, recipe, and ketogenic diet resources to everyone I coach, as well as meal plans upon request.
This way of eating alleviates many of the drivers of cognitive decline
- by reversing insulin resistance,
- fueling the brain differently with ketones,
- lowering inflammation,
- enhancing detoxification,
- shifting the gut and oral microbiome to foster better brain health,
- promoting autophagy–removal of damaged protein and mitochondria,
- nourishing the brain with a broad diversity of micronutrients,
- providing ample dietary building blocks for creating new nerve connections,
- and eliminating common food sensitivities.
Though there are healthy dietary frameworks, Ketoflex 12/3™ is singularly therapeutic for the most common biochemical and metabolic issues in adults with risk factors for cognitive decline.
Eating more brain food and less processed food
If you’re not used to eating this way, just take it step-by-step. If you’re feeling gung-ho, that’s terrific, but I encourage a slow transition for long-term success. Gradually allow your metabolism to adapt to running on more fat and less sugar without dips in blood sugar. As first steps, you may want to:
- gradually reduce added sugar, processed food, and flour while increasing your intake of foods rich in healthy fats, like nuts, eggs, olives, olive oil, and fatty cold-water small-mouthed fish.
- eat a colorful array of non-starchy vegetables daily, as tolerated
- gradually become accustomed to not eating any significant calories (i.e. breakfast or non-black coffee) until at least twelve hours have elapsed overnight since your last food intake.
If you can achieve the goals in the three bullet points above, mountains of scientific literature suggest that you will significantly lower your risk of the common chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s. That’s terrific!
Everyone’s version of Ketoflex™ will be unique.
That’s why Ketoflex™ has “flex” for flexible in its name. You can take a look at some brain foods I eat and share with others, then continue reading more below. (Although clicking on the food photos here doesn’t link to recipes, I provide personalized recipes to all my coachees.)
Don’t worry if these dishes shown are not your “cup of tea”! You can develop entirely different wholesome Ketoflex™ meals to satisfy you. If your sweet tooth currently dominates your food choices, you may be pleasantly surprised by how your taste buds adapt over time to savor nuanced food flavors otherwise overwhelmed by added sugar.
It’s not all-or-none. Every step you make toward more brain healthy food choices is good for you. It helps if you enlist the support of a partner or friend eager to eat à la Ketoflex. Strive for better eating without the diet perfectionism that creates stress. (Dr. Bredesen’s patients who reversed cognitive impairment still fudged a bit on their Ketoflex™ diets.)
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to make Ketoflex™ dietary changes on your own, you can receive an abundance of personal support and meal/grocery/restaurant planning from a health coach. Coaching can be the make-or-break element that gets you taking one guided step at a time when you’re feeling overwhelmed and resumes your course when you’ve veered off track.
And don’t forget to consult your doctor before changing your diet, especially very thin individuals (BMI < 20) who could experience excessive weight loss on this diet.
The above blueprint for Ketoflex 12/3™ is flexible and requires personalization.
To customize the Ketoflex™ diet to each individual’s needs, we may pay attention to macronutrient ratios. Some guidance on macronutrients can be found via the link below or here.
People already experiencing cognitive decline are advised to try a fully ketogenic version of Ketoflex™ that is ultra low carb. Read more about the strict ketogenic version of the Ketoflex™ via the link below or here.
Ketoflex™ eating further manifests in a diversity of ways as suited to each person’s culture and other health conditions. Carbohydrate intake is tailored to each person’s level of glucose tolerance and physical activity. Some choose a vegetarian version for ethical reasons. Those with certain gut conditions may limit (otherwise healthy) non-starchy colorful vegetables until gut health is restored. The amount of saturated fats needs to be lower for those with genetic risks (ApoE4/4 status) or elevated LDLp. People with failing kidneys or fighting cancer may be advised to eat less protein. Eggs and nuts are terrific brain foods, except for those with sensitivities. Individuals taking the blood thinner coumadin/wafarin would not eat the leafy deep green vegetables usually encouraged on this diet without consulting their prescribing physician. Diabetics often see remarkable improvements on this diet, but require physician oversight and adjustment of their medication as they proceed. Other individuals may have FODMAP intolerances or lectin sensitivities. The list goes on and on. This webpage is meant to be a useful starting framework; it is by no means comprehensive.
A qualified health coach (like me) works with your doctor to optimize the Ketoflex™ diet for your health conditions, tailors the diet to your tastes and preferences, and brings awareness to any blind spots in your view of how well your eating aligns with your brain health and overall goals. Personalized coaching helps you identify and focus on all good stuff that you can eat, keeping in mind a positive vision of how healthy eating will indeed help you heal and age well. I promise that it gets easier after the upfront investment of effort and time to transition to new brain healthy eating habits. Coaching certainly helps to guide, simplify, accelerate, and ease the transition, especially to a fully ketogenic version of Ketoflex 12/3™.
A trial period on the Ketoflex™ diet can be very illuminating and worthwhile.
Food can be exceptionally powerful brain medicine. Consider experimenting with this way of eating to experience the benefits for yourself.
It often takes a little while to get comfortable with new Ketoflex™ eating habits and tweak the diet to fit your bioindividuality. It also may take some coaching support to find your groove and not fall off the wagon.
Check in with your body after clocking a full month honestly sticking to the Ketoflex™ principles above at least 80% of the time. A gradual, initial ramp up may take adjustment and additional time. Most people clearly feel better after four weeks of following a well-formulated Ketoflex™ food plan. If not, you may need a functional/naturopathic/integrative medicine practitioner playing detective to figure out why—i.e. poor digestion, gut dysbiosis, other bowel conditions, misinterpretation in applying the dietary principles, anxiety, or less common idiopathic conditions. Ketoflex™ is a biologically-appropriate diet for most people, but some individuals may be exceptions who ultimately need a different dietary approach.
After 2-6 months or longer on a personalized Ketoflex™ diet
In my clinical experience, after just a few months, I most commonly observe
- substantial fat loss in people who were overweight
- reports of feeling more cognitively clear
- key biomarkers, especially fasting insulin and Hba1c, come within or closer to optimal ranges
- people who were pre-diabetic normalize their blood sugar
- diabetics (under doctor’s supervision) reduce or eliminate medications
- improvements or resolution of constipation and/or diarrhea
- improvements in other issues, like skin conditions, joint pain, and autoimmune symptoms
After six months, some people desire to methodically experiment with liberalizing their diet, observing whether they can maintain energy, mood, cognition, and biomarker gains when adding in moderate amounts of foods not within strict Ketoflex™ guidelines. Each unique individual develops their own maintenance diet that serves up optimal well-being. With Ketoflex™, you eat delicious real foods, without calorie counting, that make you feel and perform your best.
For most folks, Ketoflex 12/3™ eating is life-changing.