Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia

Australian statistics on Dementia (2016)

  • There are more than 353,800  Australians living with dementia
  • This number is expected to increase to 400,000  in less than five years
  • Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050
  • Each week, there are more than 1,800 new cases of dementia in Australia; approximately one person every 6 minutes.  This is expected to grow to 7,400 new cases each week by 2050
  • There are approximately 25,100  people in Australia with Younger Onset Dementia (a diagnosis of dementia under the age of 65; including people as young as 30)
  • Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia1
  • An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia
  • Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia  and there is no cure.
  • On average symptoms of dementia are noticed by families three years before a firm diagnosis is made5
  • Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older) and the third leading cause of disability burden overall
  • Australia faces a shortage of more than 150,000 paid and unpaid carers for people with dementia by 2029
  • Total direct health and aged care system expenditure on people with dementia was at least $4.9 billion in
  • 2009-10
  • Dementia will become the third greatest source of health and residential aged care spending within two decades. These costs alone will be around 1% of GDP
  • By the 2060s, spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any other health condition. It is projected to be $83 billion (in 2006-07 dollars), and will represent around 11% of health and residential aged care sector spending
  • More than 50% of residents in Australian Government-subsidised aged care facilities have dementia (85,227 out of 164,116 permanent residents with an ACFI assessment at 30 June, 2011)
  • Almost half (44%) of permanent residents with dementia also had a diagnosis of a mental illness

The disease can actually start 30 to 50 years before it is diagnosed. It’s not something you would like to see happen to a loved one. Gradually the sufferers lose their memories. Their past has gone. They don’t recognise anyone. They know only the present moment in time. It’s a terrible disease. The cost to families and to the health care system is enormous. Victims end up requiring full time care; often an enormous burden on other family members. Once again no real help from modern medicine; nasty drugs; poor outcomes.

The official outlook for sufferers –“there is no cure”.

My opinion from what I know of lifestyle medicine is – Some recovery is possible but prevention is the key.

Modern Health Care says it’s largely genetic. Lifestyle medicine says diet is more important.

There is a gene variant, ApoE4 that causes you to be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s. It’s a common variant; about 1 in 7 people will have it. If one of your parents has that gene you have around 3 times the chance of developing the disease. If both parents have it you have about 9 times the chance.  Is Alzheimer’s then simply a matter of genes, of having the wrong parents? – No! In Nigeria the population has the highest percentage anywhere with that bad gene variant. They also have one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s. The reason, their diet is rich in grains and vegetables and low in animal foods. Your diet, once again, is more important than your genes.

The best advice to prevent Alzheimer’s is to eat the right diet. Diet is more important than genes because it’s your diet that causes the disease. A diet that is good for the heart is also good for the brain – low cholesterol; no saturated fats; no animal products. High blood cholesterol causes atherosclerosis in our blood vessels restricting blood flow to the brain which reduces brain function. The cholesterol in the brain also causes clusters of tangled amyloid protein to form around the cholesterol crystals. Those tangled plaques contain copper and iron which oxidise and release damaging free radicles. These break the connections between brain cells. Those connections are our memories.

The question has to be how to avoid Alzheimer’s. Firstly give up the meat, eggs and dairy and added oils. Eat only whole plant foods. Antioxidant rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, berries – a variety of fruits and vegetables will help prevent that free radical damage. Avoid copper; it can come from copper plumbing pipes. I suggest using an RO water filter. Avoid multivitamins because you don’t need them anyway and copper is a common ingredient. Iron is a bit of a two edged sword. There can be too little and milk is often the problem there because it stops the absorption of iron – avoid milk. Too much iron is also a problem. Our bodies try to maintain that sweet balance. It’s difficult for us to remove iron, so what our bodies do to keep the balance is to control the intake. Unfortunately, with haem iron, the type we get from animals, we cannot control the intake. We end up with too much iron and that’s a real problem for many disease conditions including Alzheimer’s. There’s a lot of evidence that aluminium may also be a problem and they put aluminium in a lot of things – saucepans, antacid pills, deodorants, it’s used in water supplies to settle out suspended particles. So avoid all of those and again get an RO water filter. The spice Saffron has been found to be just as effective as the leading drug used for Alzheimer’s, “Aricept”, but without the nasty side effects. Turmeric again may be a useful spice.

We have enzymes, sirtuins, in our bodies that promote healthy aging and longevity. They prevent our DNA strands from unwrapping. Lower levels of this enzyme appear in Alzheimer’s patients causing brain shrinkage and loss of brain function. The loss of the sirtuin enzymes appears due to certain products that we get from cooking meat. Chicken is one of the worst; the higher the heat the worst the effect. The solution, avoid cooked meat, the hotter and the longer the cooking process the worse it is. Better still avoid meat altogether and keep your brain healthy.

Start now to prevent your brain from aging. Even 20 year olds have been found to have significant numbers of those amylase plaques in their brains, on the way to Alzheimer’s. Your brain health is not set in stone by your genes. Eat whole plant based foods including those helpful herbs and spices. Use RO water. Avoid all possible metal contaminates and avoid multivitamins.