Every once in a while, we hear stories that are nothing short of a medical miracle. On the surface, that may seem to be the case for 82-year old Sylvia Hatzer who actually reversed dementia by resorting to a traditional Mediterranean diet. However, it wasn’t just luck and a leap of faith, this is actually a science-backed decision.
To understand this amazing feat, you should first realize just how far-reaching dementia can be. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, dementia can be categorized as the following:
- Day-to-day memory loss, such as forgetting details of their day
- Difficulty planning, organizing, or concentrating
- Inability to follow along in a conversation
- Issues with gauging depth-perception or distances
- Sometimes feeling lost or confused about their surroundings
By most accounts, Hatzer was experiencing all of these symptoms and had even begun to forget her son, Mark Hatzer’s, name. At first, she only showed small signs of memory loss, but within a year of her diagnosis, she was admitted to a hospital for her own safety. After remaining in the hospital for two months, she was released with the prognosis that symptoms would likely worsen over time.
Instead of relying solely on medications, Mark decided they should try an alternative route.
He had heard about research that proved that dementia was incredibly low in Mediterranean countries and the likely reason was because of their diet. If it worked for people across the globe, perhaps it could work for his mother, too. Coupling this approach with cognitive exercises and physical activity, Sylvia slowly started to show signs of improvement.
About the experience, Mark said,
“It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but after a couple of months she began remembering things like birthdays and was becoming her old self again, more alert, more engaged. People think that once you get a diagnosis your life is at an end. You will have good and bad days, but it doesn’t have to be the end.”
So what exactly does a Mediterranean diet consist of?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a traditional Mediterranean diet includes fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. People should take care to inject foods that are shaped like brains such as almonds and blueberries because as their shape suggests, they are suitable for brain development. It’s an overall healthier way of eating that limits unhealthy fats. While it may help cognitive development, it simultaneously can promote weight loss or other issues associated with obesity.
What’s even more fascinating than the fact that this diet can slow the progression of dementia symptoms, a recent study also indicated it might help people avoid the disease altogether. At a July 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International conference the findings of the research were presented. After evaluating about 6,000 participants, individuals who elected the Mediterranean diet were 30-35% less likely to experience cognitive impairment in their lifetimes.
As we learn more about dementia and what we can do to slow it’s progression or avoid it altogether, it’s stories like Sylvia’s that give us the hope we need to continue research and apply those findings. As Sylvia’s story proves, small changes can mean a significant impact on your life.
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Source: The Hearty Soul