Mon to Thur 8:30am – 5pm

Hope Island, QLD, Australia

Dementia Awareness

Dementia affects close to half a million Australians and is set to double in the next 25 years. Unfortunately, many families will be starting to experience the impact of dementia in the next few years.1

Dementia Awareness Month promotes an active and rich life after diagnosis and aims to reduce preconceptions and discrimination against people living with dementia.1 

What is dementia?
Dementia is a group of symptoms caused by neurodegenerative disorders and is characterised by cognitive and memory impairments.1,2

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is the second leading cause of death in Australia after heart disease.3,4

Signs and symptoms
The early signs of dementia are very subtle and vague and may not be immediately obvious. Some common symptoms may include:1

● Progressive and frequent memory loss
● Confusion
● Personality change
● Apathy and withdrawal
● Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks

Causes of dementia
The causes of dementia can be complex however, known contributing factors to the development of neurological disorders include:5-8

Inflammation
● Oxidative stress
Nutritional deficiencies
Gut health dysfunction
Hormone imbalance
Infection
Toxicity
● Poor detoxification

Natural strategies
While there is currently no (medical) prevention or (medical) cure for dementia, the following lifestyle and dietary strategies may help reduce your risk or delay the development of dementia.

Lifestyle recommendations:1,5,9-11

● Look after your heart health – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity increases your risk of dementia
● Increase physical activity – inactivity is associated with lower brain function, cognitive decline and risk of dementia, whereas exercise increases neuroplasticity
● Look after your mind – treat depression, stay social, challenge your mind
● Maximise brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels – consume polyphenols, social interaction, exercise, mental activities
● Reduce exposure to environmental, dietary, and pharmacological toxins
● Improve detoxification pathways
● Social interaction – may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
● Family history – preventative strategies from early middle age (e.g., age 40)

Dietary recommendations:5,11

● Amino acids – deficiencies linked to neurological conditions
● Increase prebiotic-rich food – particularly inulin
● Mediterranean diet – particularly foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
● Correct deficiencies – B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, copper (or excess) is implicated in neurological disorders
● Probiotics to improve gut function and cognitive health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress

It is important to look after your brain health at all ages, particularly as you age, and by reducing risk factors for dementia you may be able to reduce or delay the development of dementia.1 Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. The support of family, friends and the community for people
living with dementia can make a positive difference in managing the condition.

References:
1. Dementia Australia. (2021). Dementia Action Week. Retrieved from https://www.dementia.org.au
2. AIHW. (2020). Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/dementia
3. ABS. (2020). Causes of Death, Australia. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/causes-deathaustralia/latest-release
4. Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). Alzheimer’s and Dementia in Australia. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/au/dementia-alzheimersaustralia.asp#about
5. Hechtman, L. (2019). Clinical naturopathic medicine (Second ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier.
6. van Horssen, J., van Schaik, P., & Witte, M. (2019). Inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction: a vicious circle in neurodegenerative disorders?  Neuroscience Letters, 710. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.06.050
Weblink: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394017305426?via%3Di hub
7. Schain, M., & Kreisl, W. C. (2017). Neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative disorders—a review. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 17(3). doi: 10.1007/s11910-017-0733-2  Weblink: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11910-017-0733-2
8. Vojdani, A., Lambert, J., & Vojdani, E. (2016). The gut-brain axis: autoimmune and neuroimmune disorders. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 22(S3), 31–46.
9. Sherwin, E., Bordenstein, S., Quinn, J., Dinan, T., & Cryan, J. (2019). Microbiota and the social brain. Science, 366(6465), eaar2016. doi: 10.1126/science.aar2016 Weblink: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6465/eaar2016/tab-pdf
10.Miranda, M., Morici, J., Zanoni, M., & Bekinschtein, P. (2019). Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological Brain. Frontiers In Cellular Neuroscience, 13. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00363 Weblink: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00363/full
11.Bland J. (2016). Mild Cognitive Impairment, Neurodegeneration, and Personalized Lifestyle Medicine. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 15(2), 12–14. Weblink: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4898276/