Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s – Can a vegan diet help? by Kevin Ruh

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Kevin Ruh - Chief Marketing Officer at Ruh Global Communications

Kevin Ruh – Chief Marketing Officer at Ruh Global Communications

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the scariest ailments facing mankind today.  The idea of not being in total control of your mind is a prospect most cannot fathom.  Many will be negatively and personally impacted in our lifetimes by this scary disease.  With the large generation of the baby boomers (76 million Americans) beginning to come of age, this threat becomes more and more frightening.  To add to the problems recent studies show that people with Down syndrome have a much higher rate of developing Alzheimer’s and as early as their forties.

According to a recent article: Increasingly, Adults with Down Syndrome Face Alzheimer’s  “Adults with Down syndrome are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, and at an earlier age than the population as a whole. At least 25 percent of those older than 40 have Alzheimer’s, and more than 50 percent of those over 60 do, compared with 6 percent of those over 60 in the overall population.” Source: National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices

My older sister, Sara, was born with Down syndrome makes these statistics even more troubling.

I have been a vegan for over ten years and Debra, my mother has been an on again off again vegan and vegetarian for years.  Our family exercises and tries to eat healthy diets.  Like many other Americans our family tree includes diseases like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes and diabetes.

We all realized that Sara’s best change might come from a dramatic change in Sara’s diet.

Debra was worried even before her own mother had an accident and was diagnosed with dementia.  We began looking into the topic and trying to see what could help those we loved.  We read several studies that show diet plays a very big part in disease prevention.

When my mother saw the studies about Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s she remembered the work that Dr. Neal Barnard has done on Vegan diets and Alzheimer Disease. Barnard has been researched how a vegan diet can reduce your risks for many diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer.

Barnard writes a blog on The Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine website. In his blog: Eating to Prevent Alzheimer’s disease he notes that a vegan diet can reduce the risks associated with these diseases.  One reference: “The Ninth Annual Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Harvard researchers discussed the role that fruits and vegetables may play in AD. Jae Hee Kang, Sc.D., and colleagues evaluated approximately 13,000 participants in the Nurse’s Health Study.   They calculated the women’s intake of fruits and vegetables between 1984 and 1995 and correlated these values with performance on tests of cognitive function conducted between 1995 and 2003, when the women were in their 70s. Women with the highest consumption of green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables—both high in folate and antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin C—declined less than women who ate little of these vegetables.”

So the rest of my family including Emily Ha of Ruh Global Communications have committed to Dr. Barnard’s recommended 21 Day Kickstarter Vegan Diet.  On 10/3/2014 they began a diet that is free of animal products for twenty-one days.

Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Neal Barnard

With some help from a health and exercise coach, Jo Beardsley at American Family Fitness we are all going to help Sara to lose weight healthily with the goal to significantly lower her risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Sara eats a healthy diet now, but with this pledge, we stack the odds in her favor by eating her healthiest diet available.  The rest of our family is also committing to eating the same way.  We all want to see an end to these horrible diseases.

Emily will be keeping a blog tracking the journey that provides recipes for Debra and Sara to check daily with ideas for meals and other information.

The blog is at Rawesomeveganrecipes.tumblr.com and will include many raw vegan recipes too.  Join us as we focus on Sara’s journey. We also welcome your stories and recipes.

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