Defeating Dementia with Diet

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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. There was even a 17-day hospital stay 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.

Blog 053116 DietI decided that in addition to the medicine approach, we needed to try and attack inflammation through diet. Jim is a longtime 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 inflammationreducing 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.


14 Responses

  1. Hank Flint

    Vicki – So enjoy reading about your lives together from time to time . We’re all a collection of personal stories distinguished by our willingness to tell them . Hope all is well with you ! Hank

  2. Diane Brooks

    I am so happy for the both of you.

  3. Diane Brooks

    I am so happy for you both.

  4. What a testimony to the power of eating right to reduce inflammation and increase brain activity! God is so good. You are such a blessing to Jim. Your love and dependence on God has made a huge difference in Jim’s care and his improvement. To God be the glory!

  5. Paula D Baker

    So happy to hear great news! Jim looks really good. My prayers are with you both♡♡

  6. Jenette Hanson

    Wow! I knew your diet affected your health, but I never would have thought that it could affect one’s Dimentia to the degree you have described. I know God has lots of rewards for all the hard work you have done to help Jim. He is lucky to have you. God bless you. Jenette

  7. Ken Samuelson Sr

    Thanks Vicki. I appreciate your information and insights as I travel the road also. I can do this easily and I hope it helps my wife too. Ken Samuelson Sr

    • Vicki Hafele

      Good to hear from you Ken. I will do follow-up posts on diet and get into more of the specifics about what has benefitted Jim. I will say at first all of these diet changes seemed a bit overwhelming to me – especially for someone who was used to eating whatever she wanted. But I got some advice/help from friends and that made a huge difference. The caregivers have also played a major role too. They get the bone broth going in the morning before Jim wakes up and then the person in the afternoon can make the final touches. Please let me know how it goes for you. Vicki

  8. Lee Anna Sturkie

    What wonderful news! I think more and more that diet is the key to many of the problems we are having today.

  9. Cathy T.

    Vicki, your perseverance is a true example of love and faith. I have shared this
    Information with my sister in law as my brother is in late stage Alzheimer’s. Everything you share gives hope, and hopefully will encourage more research.
    Blessings to you and Jim and I hope we will see you soon. Cathy

  10. Mike Ostergren

    Good news, and thanks for sharing. Jim is lucky to have a wife who took so much interest and has helped him more than he probably realizes.

  11. Vic,
    thank you for continuing to share your news about what is working for Jim and you……I have several friends that have loved ones with dementia/alzheimers and know your news is helpful! Look forward to seeing you at our July meeting if not before….

  12. Marty Hunt

    Vicki, I hope you don’t mind that Carole filled me in on Jim’s condition when you both came up in discussion during a lunch together. You both are in our prayers. What a huge blessing to even get ahold of thus information, and that it has made such a big difference. God is still in control. Blessings and love to you both.

  13. I enjoyed meeting you today at market and hearing you share your testimony of good food and the Lords guidance helping Jim improve from dementia. I hope you enjoy the broth that will be made from the bones you purchased from Full Quiver today. May the Lord bless you much and continue to guide you!

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