25,000 Australians UNDER 65 have dementia. This is what you do now to prevent it.

Dementia is proving to be a lifestyle disease

Dementia is proving to be a lifestyle disease

The numbers:

Dementia affects 340,000 Australians, with 25,000 of them under the age of 65 and the numbers are set to increase by a third in less than 10 years.

One person is diagnosed with the disease every six minutes, and it is the third highest cause of mortality in Australia, and the second highest for women.

Each week 1800 new cases of dementia are diagnosed.

These are very sobering statistics for anyone of any age. Alzheimers and other causes of dementia don’t accrue overnight. It is directly related to how you are living now, even if 65 seems like centuries away. Along with all forms of chronic disease, rates are rising and they are affecting more people across a broader age spectrum. Is there something in the water?

Possibly, but the factors considered most likely to cause or prevent chronic disease are environmental. Given that we are heading for a tsunami of Alzheimers it would be fair to assume that it is linked to the tsunami of dramatic changes that have taken place in our environment over the last 50 years or so.

So what has changed? Our food supply has been industrialised and our diet has transitioned from whole to processed food. Sugar and chemicals are added in abundance throughout the food chain. Physical activity levels have declined significantly. People are far more stressed. None of this is news, but how are these things actually affecting your health and predisposing you to dementia or other chronic diseases? And what can you most effectively do about it?

Our modern diet is seriously devoid of the micronutrients necessary for healthy biological function. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids and fibre ordinarily found in whole foods. Unfortunately they are almost wholly destroyed the processing and manufacturing of food products, and sometimes even by the cooking we do at home. The result is that your body does not have the nutrition necessary for function and repair, or to maintain a healthy immune system. A body that doesn’t get what it needs in order to maintain itself on a cellular level will break down eventually.

Just to dispel a myth, while meat and other animal products have some value in our diet, they are low in micronutrients, especially after cooking. So if you are getting more of your calories from meat than fruit and veges (which is the norm) it follows that you will be lacking micronutrients. Meat will also contribute to gut dysbiosis (the poor functioning of your gut) because it feeds bad bacteria, and this compromises your immune function.

The symptoms of inadequate micronutrient intake include fatigue, suppressed mood, poor or broken sleep, you get colds and flu quite easily, and other signs like bad breath and really smelly bowel movements.

The obvious ‘secret’ to great health is to eat food rich in micronutrients. Your body will love you for it because they keep your body healthy, including your brain. They are readily sourced from fruit, veges and whole grains. Yep, eat more plants.

It may also seem that doing nothing must be harmless. Like ‘not smoking’ is harmless. Sitting is apparently harmless, but it is not – and for many reasons it is actually very bad for you. Sitting causes your muscles to adapt to your sitting position resulting in some muscles shortening to the point of pain (especially lower back) while others become long and weak. This muscle imbalance results in poor posture, restricted range of movement, and impacts on normal function. Sitting also turns off your body’s activation patterns and also diminishes your proprioception. This means your body will lose its ability to move properly, and also lose stability and balance. Sitting also limits your circulation which has been discovered to induce a temporary state of glucose toxicity (diabetes) in office workers.

Lack of movement causes a survival response – your body interprets lack of movement as ‘there is no need to move because there is no food.’ Therefore it acts to eliminate all unnecessary cells so that it doesn’t have to feed them. This includes muscle cells, blood vessel cells, nerve cells and brain cells. Atrophication is a deliberate and rapid process of the body, sometimes referred to as negative adaptation.

In respect of dementia, this negative adaptation process causes your brain to shrink. This is simply because the brain cells that are required to govern movement die and aren’t replaced. If lack of movement and atrophication continue over decades the muscles shrink and get soft, and that includes your brain.

Most of your brain is made of ‘white matter’. White matter incorporates the hypothalamus and includes critical functions such as the endocrine system. Your body’s autonomic processes are governed here, and so is movement. Researchers are observing a distinct correlation between movement (exercise) and improvements in white matter density, brain function and mental health. Yes, your brain can grow new cells (neurons) and will do so in response to movement. Movement is as natural to being human as breathing. Not moving is not natural. This lack of movement that is so normal in our society is causing unnatural rates of disease, and the less we move, the sicker we get. Thus the rise in dementia.

Stimulating the brain with movement is relevant for every age group. It is a proactive way of ensuring dementia, or some other chronic disease, is not your fate. It is also a great way to maintain both brain function and mental health. Exercise has noted value in improving mood, and dealing with depression. In children, exercise improves academic performance. The bottom line is that exercise stimulates the brain and the result is that it functions better.

No matter how hard you try, there is no escaping the recommendations to eat whole foods, mostly plants, and do exercise. So why is it not happening?? Has society reached a point where it is prepared to sacrifice future wellbeing for an exhausted, stressed out or careless present? Good nutrition and exercise will improve your quality of life right now, and for the rest of your life.

Other posts on this blog that will help you with this one:

https://cultureofhealth.com.au/2015/02/26/exceptional-health-this-is-what-it-takes/

https://cultureofhealth.com.au/2015/02/19/starting-exercise-can-be-a-real-challenge-if-you-are-fresh-of-the-sofa/

https://cultureofhealth.com.au/2014/12/22/the-mediterranean-diet-vs-the-modern-western-diet-a-lesson-in-food/

 

About Pete Newman

Hi. My name is Pete Newman and I am a Fitness, Nutrition and Wellness Coach. My mission is to make fitness and healthy eating available to everyone, and wellness coaching is a great tool when it comes to both motivation and creating successful personal strategies for exceptional health.
I have been in the health and fitness zone for several years but I have developed a very different view to the industry norm. I believe that you will get the best results by learning how to exercise effectively at home, and healthy eating is easiest when you stop dieting and focus on the health outcomes of the food you eat.
I have also authored the book “Eat, Move and Thrive – the 5 secrets of very healthy people” which encapsulates a whole new way to achieve great health and sustain it – for your lifetime!

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