Alzheimer's Disease International says that there were approximately 50 million people living with dementia in 2017. Experts predict that number will roughly double every 20 years, highlighting just how pervasive dementia is across the globe.
Dementia describes symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities. The Mayo Clinic says dementia can become so severe that it interferes with daily life. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia, though there are other causes as well. Dementias can result from frontotemporal lobar degenerations, vascular disorders, Parkinson's disease, and Lewy Body disease.
Depending on the cause, some dementia symptoms may be reversible. For example, medical professionals have discovered a link between insulin resistance and the development of dementia. Insulin resistance, which results from eating too many carbs and sugar and not enough fat, is a major factor that contributes to Alzheimer's disease, according to The Women's Alzheimer's Movement. Some scientists now refer to Alzheimer's as "Type 3 diabetes." Cutting out sugar and refined carbs and adding lots of good fats may prevent and even reverse pre-dementia in many aging adults.
Using an animal model, researchers at Temple University Health System discovered that a drug blocking inflammatory molecules known as leukotrienes can reverse tau pathology, the second most important lesion in the brain in patients with Alzheimer's. This can bring hope that medication may help reverse Alzheimer's instead of just mitigating symptoms.
Other ways to prevent or reverse dementias involve preventing the brain pathology that occurs. For example, reducing the risk of stroke can prevent vascular dementias. Dementia risks linked to infections and immune disorders may be lowered by making dietary changes or taking appropriate medications for conditions.
The Mayo Clinic also says nutritional deficiencies, such as dehydration and not getting enough vitamins B1, B6 and B12, can cause dementia-type symptoms. Dementias linked to heavy metal poisoning also may be resolved with treatment.
In addition, people can take proactive approaches to preventing aging of the brain even if they aren't yet suffering cognitive decline. A proactive approach can include:
• getting adequate sleep;
• controlling stress levels;
• getting thyroid and reproductive hormone levels checked and treated, if necessary;
• exercising daily, aiming for at least 30 minutes;
• Eating healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish, coconut oil, olive oil, whole nuts, eggs, and some seeds; and
• reducing consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Combatting dementia can involve an array of strategies aimed at helping people reduce their risk and possibly even reverse course.