A new UCLA study has found that when individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) switched to a healthy diet and exercise program, their memory and cognitive function began to return in a dramatic way. In fact, six out of the 10 patients who had been struggling in their jobs, or had even quit due to cognitive dysfunction, were able to return to work. The results are both fascinating and hopeful for the millions of people suffering with AD and for those who have yet to develop symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after cardiovascular disease and cancer. Currently, there is no cure for AD, and medications only temporarily lessen symptoms.
“In the case of Alzheimer's disease, there is not a single therapeutic that exerts anything beyond a marginal, unsustained symptomatic effect, with little or no effect on disease progression… This has led some to question whether the approach taken to drug development for AD is an optimal one,” wrote the researchers in the journal AGING.
The study involved ten participants at varying stages of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. They began a diet that, in general, excluded or reduced simple carbohydrates, gluten, and processed foods, while increasing their intake of probiotic foods, vegetables, fruits, coconut oil, and high quality, non-farmed fish. They also added vitamins B12 and D, antioxidants, fish oil, turmeric and an adaptogenic herb known as ashwagandha. The patients increased their levels of exercise; some added yoga and meditation.
According to the results, nine of the ten participants exhibited marked improvement. The one person who did not improve was already experiencing severe symptoms in the last stage of Alzheimer’s. Six subjects who had previously not been able to work, or were having great difficulty in their jobs, successfully returned to work after six months of holisitic therapy. Their progress was still going strong two years later.
One of the subjects, a 67-year-old woman, had been suffering from progressive memory loss for two years. She had reached a point in which she was about to quit her demanding job, one in which she traveled extensively and needed to analyze data and prepare reports.
She was having a hard time navigating streets that were familiar and was no longer able to remember a short string of numbers. Even more, by the time she got to the bottom of a page she was reading, she would have to begin again because she had forgotten what she had read. She eventually became suicidal.
The patient began a diet that adhered to some of the recommendations, but not all. Even so, after three months she noted that all of her symptoms had abated. She was able to navigate once again, read and retain information, remember telephone numbers without difficulty, and prepare reports with ease. Overall, she became asymptomatic. In fact, she said that her memory was better than it had been in years. She is now 70, still works full time, and remains virtually symptom-free.