Center for Cognitive Health

Center for Cognitive Health

The Bredeson Protocol

Many people come into our clinic asking about the Bredeson Protocol, wondering if it is a form of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that they should adopt, or if adopting it will cure their loved one.

This protocol is said to be the first program to prevent and reverse cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease, making it very appealing to individuals with the disease and their families.

Before beginning any specific plans or drastically adopting a new diet or exercise regimen, it is important to consult the research and empirical support for the plan you are interested in. Sometimes, the plan may sound too good to be true. There are no cures for Alzheimer’s disease, but studies show that a healthy diet, exercise schedule, and good sleep hygiene can help prevent the symptoms from occurring.

It is important to consider that there are many different health conditions where cognitive decline can be a side effect. These conditions mimic Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, but can be treatable with early intervention. The following conditions are 9 of the most common conditions that mimic AD.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency 

Thyroid Problems

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NHP)

Vitamin B1 & B6 Deficiency

Medication Side Effects

Brain Tumor


Withdrawal From Certain Medications

Vascular Dementia

The treatment of these conditions helps to restore cognition and improve overall health. 

Substances that can cause cognitive problems for older adults include:

  • sedatives
  • alcohol
  • antidepressants
  • anti-anxiety medications
  • antihistamines
  • narcotics
  • corticosteroids
  • cardiovascular drugs
  • acid reflux drugs
  • sleeping pills 
  • cholesterol drugs

Now, let’s review what Dr. Bredeson recommends in The Bredeson Protocol. 

The main goals of this therapeutic program are to:

  • optimize diet
  • optimize sleep
  • exercise regularly
  • manage inflammation in the body
  • stimulate and train the brain 
  • personalized regimen of vitamins and supplements

The basics of his diet protocol include the following tips to follow and avoid. 



Whole, predominantly plant based foods

Highly processed meat/animal products

Aim for “mild ketosis”

Refined carbohydrates and simple sugars

10-15 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day

“Non-nutritive sweeteners” (Splenda, Sweet N’ Low etc)

Fast for 12 hours before breakfast, and 3 hours before bedtime

Late night snacking

Each individual is placed on a personalized vitamin and supplement plan designed to address hormone imbalances, low vitamin D levels, toxins, elevated blood glucose, increased bowel permeability, and other factors that contribute to the degeneration of the brain.

Are his anecdotal findings rooted in science?

Dr. Bredeson’s study titled, “Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program, examined 10 individuals with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) , amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). 

The results section discusses the case studies of three participants from the study, noting areas of improvement. Reported improvements included weight loss, reduction of stress, improved quality of life, improved gut health, higher quality sleep, and improved cognitive functioning.

Although the participants in this study showed improvement (subjective or objective), the results are anecdotal and suggest the need for a controlled clinical trial of Dr. Bredeson’s therapeutic program. 

Many of the components of the protocol can be achieved simply by making an effort to eat a healthier mediterranean based diet, and adopting an exercise plan that works both the body and the brain.

Although the Bredeson Protocol runs many additional tests to see where vitamin and supplement deficiencies are occurring for each person, the protocol is difficult to follow and many patients in the study didn’t follow it with 100% compliance. It poses significant lifestyle and diet changes and a multitude of daily pills; these hardships should be considered before starting the protocol. The study states that the protocol can still be effective even if not followed 100%.  

To date, there is little scientific evidence that this protocol is an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. 

If you are interested in implementing the diet portion of The Bredeson Protocol, or learning more about it, the following video helps to break it down and further explain the reasoning behind which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.

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9 Treatable Conditions that Mimic Alzheimer’s Disease. [cited 2019Jul23]. Available from:
Bredesen DE. Reversal of cognitive decline: a novel therapeutic program [Internet]. Aging. Impact Journals LLC; 2014 [cited 2019Jul23]. Available from:
Whitney E. RD, Fleming A, Joanna, Robinson J, Erin, Cavuto K, et al. An “Alzheimer’s Diet”: How to Implement the Bredesen Protocol to Prevent Treat Cognitive Decline // Whitney E. RD [Internet]. Whitney E. RD. 2018 [cited 2019Jul23]. Available from: