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Last Updated: 26.05.23

Rhonda Patrick: Latest Insights on Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Exercise, Nutrition, Fasting

Attia hosts Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. Rhonda discusses Alzheimer’s disease, including the vascular hypothesis and factors influencing disease risk. She addresses cancer risk, exercise’s impact, and the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer. Rhonda also shares her new focus on exercise, protein consumption, and her evolving perspective on fasting and time-​​restricted feeding.

Rhonda Patrick has a personal interest in neurodegenerative diseases due to family history and genetic predisposition

Alzheimer’s disease field has been focused on the amyloid hypothesis, but there have been many failed trials

Three major types of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease, small vessel disease, and vascular dementia

Common risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease: APOE4 allele and type 2 diabetes

Vascular dysfunction, particularly in the blood-​​brain barrier, seems to be an early event common to all types of dementia, type 2 diabetes, and APOE4

APOE4 and type 2 diabetes can lead to permeability of the blood-​​brain barrier

Blood-​​brain barrier permeability can be measured in cerebral spinal fluid and plasma

  • Occurs decades before the onset of cognitive impairment and is found in more than 50% of all dementias

Blood-​​brain barrier is essential for removing toxic compounds from the brain through processes like the glymphatic system during sleep

Maintaining the integrity of the blood-​​brain barrier is crucial for brain health

  • Blood-​​brain barrier permeability could be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

MFSD2A transporter important for omega‑3 DHA transport into the brain

  • Disruption of this transporter leads to blood brain barrier breakdown and loss of omega‑3 in the brain
  • Transporter decreases with age, rapidly in Alzheimer’s disease, and with APOE4 gene
  • Genetic differences may affect individual response to omega‑3 supplementation

Addressing type 2 diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes can be a preventative measure for Alzheimer’s Disease

Omega‑3 intake is important for blood brain barrier health

  • Low omega‑3 intake from fish identified as one of the top six preventable causes of death

Type 2 diabetes accelerates the aging process and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease

  • Unlike atherosclerosis and cancer, type 2 diabetes is not inevitable with age
  • Preventing and managing type 2 diabetes can reduce the risk of other age-​​related diseases and improve overall health

Hypertension and hyperlipidemia pose risks for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease

Maintaining good blood pressure is important for reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk

  • High blood pressure is associated with dementia risk, especially when developed before midlife

Exercise and sauna can improve blood pressure

In the next decade, more information on precision nutrition may be available

  • Advances in technology and AI may lead to exponential growth in understanding gene-​​diet interactions

Nutrition studies are often messy and difficult to design

  • Better-​​designed nutrition trials, such as those for vitamin D, are needed to determine the value of supplementation

Exercise has a greater impact on the reduction of risk of Alzheimer’s disease than any other intervention

  • Other interventions include sleep, nutrition, and managing type 2 diabetes

Sheer force of blood flow during vigorous exercise increases BDNF production in endothelial cells lining blood vessels

Exercise increases BDNF production in various organs and tissues, including the brain, muscle, and plasma

Increasing lactate levels during exercise may have neurobiological benefits — acts as a signaling molecule, increasing VEGF and BDNF at the blood-​​brain barrier

Training at both ends of the spectrum (low-​​intensity and high-​​intensity) is important for maximizing aerobic capacity and brain health benefits

High-​​intensity interval training: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off

  • Generates lactate as a consequence of intensity

Blood flow restriction can be used to increase lactate levels during weightlifting

High-​​intensity interval training (HIIT) can increase mitochondrial biogenesis

  • Forces adaptations on mitochondria to make more mitochondria
  • Can be done in a short amount of time (10 minutes a day)

Strength training can also provide benefits in a short amount of time (30 minutes a day, 4 times a week)

  • Requires focus and intensity during the workout

Sauna use can improve memory and increase heat shock proteins and brain-​​derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)

  • Temperature typically between 175–180°F
  • Duration between 20–30 minutes

During pregnancy, sauna use may be avoided due to potential risks to the fetus

  • Exercise during pregnancy can still provide benefits

Longitudinal study on women and Alzheimer’s risk

  • Women with higher cardiorespiratory fitness had a significant reduction in Alzheimer’s risk
  • Moderate fitness levels also showed a reduction in risk

Women have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease than men

Elite athletes (Olympians) have a lower risk of dying from cancer
1.5 to 2 years of life saved from not dying from cancer
5 to 6 years of overall lifespan extension compared to the general population

Breast and colon cancer show robust response to physical activity

  • Cancer mortality reduced by 50%
  • Cancer recurrence reduced by 50%

More exercise needed for cancer prevention than cardiovascular benefits

  • 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise recommended

Exercise may have direct effects on cancer prevention

  • Myokines decrease growth factors secreted by cancer cells
  • Anti-​​inflammatory response from exercise
  • Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and weight loss, which can reduce cancer risk
  • Sheer force from blood flow during exercise can kill circulating tumor cells

Exercise is the only panacea for reducing risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes

Exercising individuals have a better sense of nutrient requirement

  • Exercise provides a feedback loop for energy balance and nutrient intake

APOE4 carriers may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of alcohol

  • They may also be more affected by poor sleep

Poor sleep is associated with higher all-​​cause mortality, but only in people who are not physically active

  • Exercise can “forgive” many health sins

Conflicting literature on protein intake and longevity

  • Lower protein intake associated with more frailty and shorter life
  • Higher protein intake potentially linked to cancer risk, but no clear data showing increased risk in humans
  • Struggle to find the minimum effective dose of protein

Importance of muscle mass and strength in humans

  • Exercise and protein intake crucial for maintaining muscle mass and strength
  • Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) has devastating effects on aging population
  • Increasing protein intake and strength training necessary to avoid sarcopenia

IGF‑1 (insulin-​​like growth factor 1) is a growth factor

  • In the context of a tumor, can allow tumor cells to override cell death mechanisms
  • However, it is unclear if higher protein intake significantly increases cancer risk in humans
  • Controversy exists over whether high IGF‑1 levels contribute to tumor growth

Recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein may be outdated and too low

Older adults may need more protein due to anabolic resistance (decreased muscle protein synthesis)

  • Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (2.2 grams per kilo)
  • Protein quality and amino acid content are important factors to consider

Fasting can be at odds with adequate maintenance of muscle

  • As people age, muscle maintenance becomes a higher priority

Benefits to eating within circadian rhythm

  • Eating late at night can inhibit insulin secretion and raise glucose levels

Gut rest and digestion rest are important for DNA repair mechanisms and autophagy

  • Autophagy occurs when not digesting food


We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Rhonda Patrick: Latest Insights on Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Exercise, Nutrition, Fasting

    Attia The Drive #252

    Attia hosts Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., discussing Alzheimer’s disease, cancer risk, exercise, and evolving perspectives on nutrition and health.

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