I believe that diet has been key to our positive results.
Most of the time when we talk about fighting back against dementia, we mean simply slowing the decline that we assume is inevitable after receiving that devastating diagnosis. But Jim and I have had some success in actually reversing that decline, and I believe that diet has been key to our positive results.
There’s no doubt that medicine has been an important weapon in our battle. Jim’s doctors have aggressively pursued trying new and different medicine combinations to improve the quality of Jim’s life. in a specialized senior medicine unit. But with all of this, Jim was continuing to decline at a rapid rate. Over time he lost more than 50 pounds and began to drool non-stop. By last summer, Jim could no longer walk up steps without assistance, and he had totally stopped talking.
About this time I heard a radio show (Ask Dr. Ernst on WBT) with Drs. Sarah and Aaron Ernst on the connection between dementia and inflammation. Dr. Sarah explained that “research links chronic low grade inflammation with changes in the brain structure that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.” And what causes inflammation? She went on to say the leading culprit is sugar. Even a slight elevation in blood sugar can increase the production of inflammatory chemicals. I had to admit the sugar connection to Jim’s dementia made sense, given the huge amount he ate.
I decided that in addition to the medicine approach, we needed to try and attack inflammation through diet. Jim is a long–time sugar-holic who would eat a quart of ice cream every day if it was in our refrigerator. The doctors on the radio show recommended a diet rich in inflammation–reducing foods such as healthful fats, with minimal carbohydrates and restricted gluten. That meant no sugar, no bread, grass-fed beef and organic, unprocessed foods whenever possible – a huge change from what we were accustomed to.
We immediately eliminated sugar from Jim’s diet. And because I had total control over what Jim ate, it actually was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I included good fats like avocado, coconut oil, organic whipping cream, etc. These fats took the place of sugar in Jim’s diet and when partnered with other healthy food became his dessert (think whipping cream and organic pumpkin). Other changes were switching to double osmosis water, drinking non-dairy products to promote healthy weight gain and having bone broth daily.
The combination of reduced controlled substances and diet changes created an almost instantaneous transformation.
After about a month I noticed subtle changes. Jim would occasionally say a word or two, and his natural color was starting to come back. Then two months later Jim’s dementia doctor reduced the daily dosage of his controlled substances 60 percent. The combination of reduced controlled substances and diet changes created an almost instantaneous transformation. Jim’s appetite roared back. The drooling stopped, and his overall physical condition improved tremendously.
Just two weeks ago we went to see Jim’s doctor and he was astonished at Jim’s improvement. He called it extremely “atypical” and something he does not see in his practice. To me it seems like a tangible victory after two hard years of fierce battle against dementia. I am so grateful to have my husband back in a much more recognizable condition. Jim is not healed from dementia, but he has definitely defied its progress. That is an incredible gift from God.