Dementia has emerged as an epidemic in the United States.The numbers are escalating, people's health is suffering tremendously, quality of life has declined for those affected and for their loved ones and the hope seems to be bleak regarding this topic.
I'd like to unpack information pertaining to dementia in this blog all the while offering some encouragement. I firmly believe this is not something one has to accept just based on genetics or that there can't be reversals with certain lifestyle modifications.
Dementia is an umbrella or collective term for a number of different neurodegenerative conditions. Symptomatically we see things like: cognitive decline, forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, uncoordinated movements/ataxia, jumbled speech, etc. These are some of the hallmark features but not an all-inclusive list by any means.
Lets talk about four major facets of demential.
Lewy body dementia occurs where these lewy body proteins lodge in the substantia nigra of the midbrain. These can affect dopaminergic neuron production and lead to things like festinating gaits, pill rolling tremors and symptoms consistent with Parkinson's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is another facet that is characterized by the formation of tau proteins, neurofibrillary tangles and beta amyloid plaque formation in the brain.
There are also vascular dementias, frontotemporal dementias as well as other forms.
There are four factors I'd like to address that can contribute to a cause and/or exacerbation of dementia.
The first one is a high sugar diet. Refined/processed sugar is a known toxin to the body and feeds bad bacteria and yeasts in the gut. These yeasts can proliferate and cause a condition called Candidiasis. The candida can they perforate the intestinal lining contributing to permeability issues in the gut. Sugars can also contribute to a condition called dysbiosis where there is an improper ratio of the good to bad microbes in the intestinal environment.
Gluten and gluten-containing grain consumption is another cause of dementia onset. In the presence of dementia in the body, a protein called zonulin is released that opens up the tight junctions in the gut and leads to leaky gut issues. Therefore different antigens can escape into systemic circulation and wreak havoc body wide. In the case of dementia the antigens can cross the blood brain barrier and start to inflict damage in the central nervous system.
Conventional dairy product consumption is a third cause. Many cows are treated with recombinant bovine somatotrophin, a growth hormone, as well as antibiotics. These antibiotics are either injected into the cows or incorporated into their feed. At any rate, the growth hormones and antibiotics are unfit for human metabolism and lead to inflammatory cascades in the body. We know that inflammation is at the root cause of chronic disease today and that includes dementia-related neurological issues.
Non-organic foods are another contributor to dementia. These foods have pesticides and herbicides sprayed on them. One particular herbicide that is destructive to the human body is glyphosate. This week killer, Roundup, is terribly toxic to the body and interferes with cell signaling, hormone synthesis and overall metabolic processes in the body.
So what can we do? How can we alter our lifestyles in a certain way to limit the likelihood of this manifesting?
Start by minimizing overall grain intake, especially gluten-containing grains. If you're having grains I'd opt for quinoa, wild rice and perhaps a little buckwheat.
I'd like to emphasize the necessity of healthy fat intake. The brain is composed of approximately 60% fat. Healthy dietary fats are crucial for proper brain health, hormone production, myelin sheath production and overall neuronal circuitry health with proper nerve conduction velocity.
Some of my top-recommended sources of dietary fats include: fatty fish like salmon, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, organic eggs, avocados and coconut products like coconut milk, coconut oil and coconut meat. These are tremendous sources of dietary fat and would be ideally incorporated into the diet daily in some capacity.
I believe lifestyle factors carry much more weight than genetic susceptibility when it comes to contracting diseases. Intentional decisions to optimize health with prayer/meditation, practicing gratitude, exercising and eating a healthy/balanced diet are indispensable practices to take your health to the next level. Implementing these things are what I would say the best lifestyle decision to ward off chronic diseases, especially those relating to dementia.