Macrobiotics and the Microbiome Part I

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by Edward Esko

 

Nowhere is the need for plant-based medicine more urgent than it is in solving the crisis of Alz­heimer’s, Par­kinson’s disease, and Lewy body dementia. According to the Alz­heimer’s Association, 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. By mid-century, that number is ex­pected to grow to 13.8 million. Between 2000 and 2013, deaths from heart dis­ease, stroke, and prostate cancer de­creased by 14%, 23%, and 11% respectively, while Alz­heimer’s deaths increased by 71%. In 2016, an estimated 700,000 Americans died with Alzheimer’s disease; many of them from complica­tions caused by this disorder.

The financial costs are likewise staggering: in 2015 more than 15 million family members and unpaid caregiv­ers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of care for persons with dementia, a contribution estimated to be worth more than $221 billion. The costs of care for persons 65 and above with Alzheimer’s are estimated at $236 bil­lion. Lewy body dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s, affecting approxi­mately 1.3 million Americans. At the same time, about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year. The number is actually higher, as many cases go un­detected. An esti­mated 1 million Americans will be living with Parkinson’s by 2020.

These statistics represent a huge failure on the part of our health care system. Rather than continuing to invest enormous sums to research new drugs to treat symp­toms, modern medicine should instead focus on the cause of these disorders, and on developing strategies for their pre­vention.

Dementia is not normal. It is the result of a lifetime of extremes, especially in diet and lifestyle. These extremes are typical of the modern age, espe­cially the over intake of meat, animal food, and sugar. We wish to offer a way to avoid dementia by adopting a plant-based diet. The problem of dementia, and its relation to the health of the body's microbiome, will be the subject of these essays and also a focus of this year's Summer Conference.

Bettina Zumdick