Macrobiotics and the Microbiome Part I
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.