Keto For Brain Health: A Dramatic Personal Journey

Keto For Brain Health: A Dramatic Personal Journey

Keto For Brain Health: A Dramatic Personal Journey

An inspiring story of how one family used a ketogenic diet to get their daughter and their lives back from the cognitive decline that comes with Down Syndrome.

Bret Scher, MD featuring Annette Bosworth, MD, Mary Kowalczyk and Suzi Kowalczyk

Suzi was born with Down Syndrome, but lived a full, happy life until her 40’s, when early dementia set in. Her mother, Mary, was desperate for answers before stumbling upon nutritional ketosis, which gave Suzi her life back.

Read on for excerpts from a conversation between Dr. Bret Scher, Dr. Annette Bosworth, an internal medicine physician, author, and educator who helps reverse medical problems with ketogenic therapy, and Mary and Suzi Kowalczyk.

Dr. Bret Scher: Born with Down syndrome, Suzi led a loving and interactive relationship with her mother, with her sister, with her family until a severe neurological decline at age 43, coupled with obesity (BMI of 46) severely impacted her life. Adopting a whole-foods, paleo-style diet, she impressively reduced her BMI to 27. However, her neurological health continued to deteriorate. Then, under Dr. Annette Bosworth's guidance, Suzi and her mother, Mary, switched to a ketogenic diet, facing challenges but ultimately experiencing a transformative improvement in Suzi's condition, significantly enhancing both their lives.

Mary Kowalczyk: Suzi began showing changes in 2015. Despite losing weight, she was still slightly overweight, and her judgment seemed impaired. Although she never worked, Suzi enjoyed various activities, though not always skillfully. Her behavior started changing, not just memory loss but also impaired judgment. She began shoplifting without realizing its wrongness, became anxious, and lost communication skills, struggling to express herself despite her speech impediment. Eventually, we found a daycare and memory care facility that accommodated another individual with Down Syndrome.

Dr. Bret Scher: Suzi went from relatively independent to almost burning down the house, and to eating food out of the trashcan and having to be placed in a memory care daycare center, and all this despite eating better and losing a significant amount of weight. The response Mary got from Suzi’s doctors was to make sure she didn’t have any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies and then to start medications. They didn’t see any improvements, but they were able to connect with Dr. Annette Bosworth and Dr. Bosworth’s free keto seminar.

Mary Kowalczyk: I had been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, and I was actually using a wheelchair for quite a few years back in 2012. I’d started to feel like I was getting sick again, so I started looking for new dietary changes to make. I went online and found out more about the ketogenic diet, and I started doing that. After I had been going there for a few weeks, I decided, “Well, I don’t know if I can do this for my daughter or not” because I didn’t know if she would tolerate getting rid of even the few carbs that she had left in her diet that were a problem. She encouraged me to test or make sure she was in ketosis and to measure her food to make sure that she was getting enough fat for her brain health. Very quickly we saw some changes, very quickly.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: Mary asked me, “My daughter has Down Syndrome. And we followed this low-carb diet for the last four and a half years because her memory started to go, like many people with Down Syndrome. After a while, we plateaued and she wasn’t losing any weight.” I was answering questions about brains and brain repair, about how to get best peak performance, about anxieties and depressions. She’s lost the weight, but her mental health has gone in the wrong direction.

Dr. Bret Scher: Tell us more about this dramatic weight loss.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: I had no expectations that she would have such an improvement. The first thing that Mary notices is she goes to the toilet, something she used to do. She hadn’t seen her do that in a couple years. And all within 10 days of being in a ketogenic state.

Dr. Bret Scher: With nutritional ketosis, the improvements started rapidly and dramatically.

Mary Kowalczyk: She became more alert and more focused within days, and it seemed like it happened so fast. I think at least within two weeks, I saw no signs of her [seizures.] It just stopped almost immediately, as soon as I put her on a ketogenic diet. That was a real game changer for us. She actually went back even better in her verbal skills.

Dr. Brett Scher: Suzi’s OCD wasn’t gone, but it was dramatically improved to a degree that directly impacted the family’s quality of life

Dr. Annette Bosworth: I can remember the tears of the mother when she said, “She’s never used a three-syllable word. It’s just not possible for her to use a three-syllable word. And the other day I gave her instructions [and she used a three-syllable word.]”

Dr. Bret Scher: It shows there is something about ketones. We know this from a chemical basis, from a physiologic basis, we know ketones are a different fuel for the brain. We know the brain can function differently on ketones, but it’s one thing to study it and know it scientifically and another thing to see how it can change someone’s life so dramatically. That’s the power of this story.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: This year, not only did they get to take their daughter to the Christmas pageant, but she was on stage as the angel. She could regulate her social anxiety. She was social again. She was back the version of her that had been alive before dementia set in.

Dr. Bret Scher: They were angry that nobody offered nutritional ketosis. No one even thought of it as a potential treatment, which is definitely at odds with the rapid and incredible improvement Suzi saw.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: You don’t need to go to a doctor to get into ketosis. It was a mother who cared a lot about her daughter and said, “Okay, you’re telling me the rule is I got to keep ketones around for my daughter? Okay, let’s try that.”

Mary Kowalczyk: You know, a lot of people say “That’s not sustainable. I could never do that.” I can say that there were some challenges, and there are some things that you have to educate yourself on, but wow, we love our food. It is very doable, but the caregiver has to be in charge. That is something we are super, super disciplined around: food. And for someone with Down Syndrome, that’s just how it has to be.

If you enjoyed reading this, take some time to watch the full interview with Dr Bret Scher in the YouTube video linked here.

Suzi was born with Down Syndrome, but lived a full, happy life until her 40’s, when early dementia set in. Her mother, Mary, was desperate for answers before stumbling upon nutritional ketosis, which gave Suzi her life back.

Read on for excerpts from a conversation between Dr. Bret Scher, Dr. Annette Bosworth, an internal medicine physician, author, and educator who helps reverse medical problems with ketogenic therapy, and Mary and Suzi Kowalczyk.

Dr. Bret Scher: Born with Down syndrome, Suzi led a loving and interactive relationship with her mother, with her sister, with her family until a severe neurological decline at age 43, coupled with obesity (BMI of 46) severely impacted her life. Adopting a whole-foods, paleo-style diet, she impressively reduced her BMI to 27. However, her neurological health continued to deteriorate. Then, under Dr. Annette Bosworth's guidance, Suzi and her mother, Mary, switched to a ketogenic diet, facing challenges but ultimately experiencing a transformative improvement in Suzi's condition, significantly enhancing both their lives.

Mary Kowalczyk: Suzi began showing changes in 2015. Despite losing weight, she was still slightly overweight, and her judgment seemed impaired. Although she never worked, Suzi enjoyed various activities, though not always skillfully. Her behavior started changing, not just memory loss but also impaired judgment. She began shoplifting without realizing its wrongness, became anxious, and lost communication skills, struggling to express herself despite her speech impediment. Eventually, we found a daycare and memory care facility that accommodated another individual with Down Syndrome.

Dr. Bret Scher: Suzi went from relatively independent to almost burning down the house, and to eating food out of the trashcan and having to be placed in a memory care daycare center, and all this despite eating better and losing a significant amount of weight. The response Mary got from Suzi’s doctors was to make sure she didn’t have any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies and then to start medications. They didn’t see any improvements, but they were able to connect with Dr. Annette Bosworth and Dr. Bosworth’s free keto seminar.

Mary Kowalczyk: I had been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, and I was actually using a wheelchair for quite a few years back in 2012. I’d started to feel like I was getting sick again, so I started looking for new dietary changes to make. I went online and found out more about the ketogenic diet, and I started doing that. After I had been going there for a few weeks, I decided, “Well, I don’t know if I can do this for my daughter or not” because I didn’t know if she would tolerate getting rid of even the few carbs that she had left in her diet that were a problem. She encouraged me to test or make sure she was in ketosis and to measure her food to make sure that she was getting enough fat for her brain health. Very quickly we saw some changes, very quickly.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: Mary asked me, “My daughter has Down Syndrome. And we followed this low-carb diet for the last four and a half years because her memory started to go, like many people with Down Syndrome. After a while, we plateaued and she wasn’t losing any weight.” I was answering questions about brains and brain repair, about how to get best peak performance, about anxieties and depressions. She’s lost the weight, but her mental health has gone in the wrong direction.

Dr. Bret Scher: Tell us more about this dramatic weight loss.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: I had no expectations that she would have such an improvement. The first thing that Mary notices is she goes to the toilet, something she used to do. She hadn’t seen her do that in a couple years. And all within 10 days of being in a ketogenic state.

Dr. Bret Scher: With nutritional ketosis, the improvements started rapidly and dramatically.

Mary Kowalczyk: She became more alert and more focused within days, and it seemed like it happened so fast. I think at least within two weeks, I saw no signs of her [seizures.] It just stopped almost immediately, as soon as I put her on a ketogenic diet. That was a real game changer for us. She actually went back even better in her verbal skills.

Dr. Brett Scher: Suzi’s OCD wasn’t gone, but it was dramatically improved to a degree that directly impacted the family’s quality of life

Dr. Annette Bosworth: I can remember the tears of the mother when she said, “She’s never used a three-syllable word. It’s just not possible for her to use a three-syllable word. And the other day I gave her instructions [and she used a three-syllable word.]”

Dr. Bret Scher: It shows there is something about ketones. We know this from a chemical basis, from a physiologic basis, we know ketones are a different fuel for the brain. We know the brain can function differently on ketones, but it’s one thing to study it and know it scientifically and another thing to see how it can change someone’s life so dramatically. That’s the power of this story.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: This year, not only did they get to take their daughter to the Christmas pageant, but she was on stage as the angel. She could regulate her social anxiety. She was social again. She was back the version of her that had been alive before dementia set in.

Dr. Bret Scher: They were angry that nobody offered nutritional ketosis. No one even thought of it as a potential treatment, which is definitely at odds with the rapid and incredible improvement Suzi saw.

Dr. Annette Bosworth: You don’t need to go to a doctor to get into ketosis. It was a mother who cared a lot about her daughter and said, “Okay, you’re telling me the rule is I got to keep ketones around for my daughter? Okay, let’s try that.”

Mary Kowalczyk: You know, a lot of people say “That’s not sustainable. I could never do that.” I can say that there were some challenges, and there are some things that you have to educate yourself on, but wow, we love our food. It is very doable, but the caregiver has to be in charge. That is something we are super, super disciplined around: food. And for someone with Down Syndrome, that’s just how it has to be.

If you enjoyed reading this, take some time to watch the full interview with Dr Bret Scher in the YouTube video linked here.

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