The Bredesen Seven

When first starting the Bredesen Protocol ®, it can feel pretty overwhelming. Your old way of eating and living often changes pretty dramatically, depending upon your starting place. Even those using the protocol for a while still may be struggling to put all of the moving pieces together. Patching over thirty-six holes in the roof at the same time, especially while it’s raining, is a daunting challenge. To help demystify the “how-to” of the protocol so that it can become an intuitive blueprint for your life, we’ve created the Bredesen Seven (or B7), which is simply a term to describe the seven foundational strategies used in the protocol. The great news is that you needn’t be perfect, and over time, most people report feeling so much better that this way of life becomes self-sustaining. Indeed, as your mood, energy, health, and cognition all improve — that becomes your motivation.

To fully understand the B7, you need first to have an overview of Dr. Bredesen’s comprehensive approach. As a neuroscientist, he’s found that Alzheimer’s results from an imbalance in the neuroplasticity signaling in the brain. As we age and are exposed to multiple toxic assaults, over time, the damaging forces (synaptoclastic) overtake the repair forces (synaptoblastic), and our brains begin to downsize and function poorly. His goal is to change your biochemistry to provide optimal conditions for your brain to thrive. He accomplishes this by identifying and addressing all of the contributors (or potential contributors) to cognitive decline while concurrently optimizing your overall health to support your cognitive health. So, while nutrition and lifestyle may be secondary to identifying and addressing the main drivers of cognitive decline, they are foundational to treating all of them.

“God bless Dr. Dale E. Bredesen and the researchers that helped him … I honestly believe the protocol saved my life. Forever Grateful.”

— Francis C. McNear

Author of Defeating Dementia: My Story of Recovery from Alzheimer’s

Keep it Simple

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, it might be true. This very simple image breaks down what could be an extraordinarily complex protocol into seven distinct yet complementary strategies that create neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to heal and grow new neurons, and synaptic connections in response to stimuli. Each of the strategies alone has the ability to promote neuroplasticity, but when practiced together, they create a powerful synergy. We’ve very thoughtfully placed the wheel upon a base of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in a non-judgmental manner. Instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future (which tends to occupy a lot of real estate in many of our brains), it’s an alternative choice to be fully present in the moment. We’ve learned that those who mindfully practice the protocol make decisions throughout the day that enable them to practice the protocol more successfully. When not being mindful, it’s easy to move into “autopilot” and allow our subconscious to take over, which can lead to decisions that feel good at the moment but are often not healthy in the long term.

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Seven Strategies to Optimize Brain Health

Apollo Health subscribers have access to in-depth information and step-by-step instructions for all seven strategies. Here’s a brief synopsis of each, presented in order of importance. time the protocol feels overwhelming to you, please remember the B7. You needn’t worry about complicated roof repairs. It’s just seven simple strategies — a different way of eating, living, and being — that creates neuroplasticity and leads to overall health optimization and improved cognition.  

Nutrition

1. Nutrition

The most effective nutrition to support brain health is KetoFLEX 12/3 — a heavily plant-based, nutrient-dense, whole foods diet that emphasizes local, organic, and seasonal non-starchy vegetables from every color of the rainbow combined with an adequate amount of protein and generous amounts of healthy fat. KetoFLEX 12/3 is a diet that becomes a lifestyle because it also incorporates a long daily fast — a minimum of 12 hours, with at least 3 hours before bedtime. This approach utilizes multiple mechanisms to optimally support the brain to prevent and reverse cognitive decline, such as increased energy (via ketosis), insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, improved vascular health, and detoxification.

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2. Exercise

Exercise increases cerebral blood flow and brain-derived-neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has important cognitive support effects. Exercise also helps to improve oxygenation, improve sleep, reduce overall stress, optimize BMI (body mass index), improve insulin sensitivity, and improve overall brain and body physiology in numerous ways. Increase your movement throughout the day. Avoid sitting for extended periods. Incorporate a daily walk, preferably outdoors, and work up to a minimum of 30 minutes. Walk with a purpose, as if you were late to an appointment. Vary your speed and add periods of running as you’re able. Additionally, adopt a strength training program 3 to 4 times per week. Also, consider adding a mind-body practice such as yoga, tai chi, or even ballroom dancing. Exercise is one of the best ways to protect cognition and is also an important part of the protocol to reverse cognitive decline.

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3. Sleep

Adopt a sleep hygiene program that allows you to get 7-8 hours of quality restorative sleep every night — without noise, lights, or Wi-Fi. Sleep is vital for memory consolidation and optimal functioning of the glymphatic system to clear cerebral toxins, including amyloid-beta. Additionally, sleep promotes metabolic health, reduces inflammation, and up regulates the immune system. Obstructive sleep apnea, and other causes of reduced oxygenation, are emerging as important risk factors for poor cognitive health. Rule these out by checking your nighttime oxygen saturation, which can be done with a continuous pulse oximeter. If you are found to have sleep apnea, continue periodic monitoring to ensure that your treatment is effective.

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4. Stress

Stress, especially chronic, unresolved or severe stress, may be a key contributor to cognitive decline. While stress is unavoidable, you can learn to control your reaction to it. We encourage you to adopt a daily stress management practice that could include any of these: mindfulness, meditation, brain entrainments such as Neural Agility or EquiSync, Dynamic Neural Retraining System, HeartMath, prayer, tai chi, qigong, or yoga. Additionally, you can build daily stress management habits that include time for self-care, not over-scheduling, using lists, unplugging from technology, avoiding multi-tasking, exercising, and getting adequate quality sleep.

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5. Brain Stimulation

It’s important to stay mentally active, to “upsize” our brains. Our brains continue to develop new neurons throughout our lives in response to social and mental stimuli to aid in healing from trauma or injury. You can upregulate this by staying socially active, building a support system, having a strong purpose in life, and engaging in lifelong learning opportunities. Additionally, even simple pleasures like listening to music and dancing can help to promote new neural pathways. Consider daily brain training to keep your brain challenged. Use BrainHQ or any similar program. Your goal is to work up to 90 minutes per week. Keep it fun and challenging with short daily sessions (12 to 13 minutes) per day, or if you prefer longer sessions, you can engage in three (thirty minute) sessions per week.

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6. Detox

Avoidance of “dementogens,” chemical agents that impact our cognition, is a vital part of optimizing brain health. Ensure that the air you breathe, the water you drink, the home you live in, the food you eat, and the toiletries, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies that you use are as toxin-free as possible. It’s especially important to avoid exposure to mold, which is turning out to be a major contributor to cognitive decline, especially in genetically susceptible individuals. Additionally, practice good hygiene to reduce inflammation and maintain and keep intact internal barriers (gut lining, blood-brain barrier, oral, and nasal) as well as external (skin, nails, and hair). Oral health of your teeth, mouth, and lips is emerging as an important opportunity to intervene and protect your cognitive health, especially if the presence of mercury is high from dental amalgams, you experience frequent cold sores, or have any of the signs of gum disease.

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7. Supplementation

Supplements are supplemental, but if you’re suffering from a specific nutritional deficiency that affects your cognitive health, they can be a very important contributor to healing. In fact, Dr. Bredesen has specific biomarker goals for the nutrients that are necessary to optimize brain health. Given your unique genetics, level of stress, and other environmental impactors, your need for supplementation may change over time. In general, we find that the longer people practice the protocol —combining a nutrient-dense diet with a healing lifestyle — their need for supplementation decreases.

Next time the protocol feels overwhelming to you, please remember the B7. You needn’t worry about complicated roof repairs. It’s just seven simple strategies — a different way of eating, living, and being — that creates neuroplasticity and leads to overall health optimization and improved cognition.