November is National Alzheimer’s Month: Self
The Enemy of the Self
My mother’s room overlooks a well-manicured lawn, a pond surrounded by palm trees, a pool and a hot tub. But she closes the blinds to avoid seeing any inkling of the beauty around her.
She has a television with over 50 channels, but she often keeps it on a channel that is least enjoyable to her. She listens to golf for days on end though she has no knowledge or interest in the sport. No amount of encouragement can get her to change the channel or scroll. When she changes the channel, it is to programs that reek of violence or fear.
Then she comes to me admonishing me to make sure the door is locked and not to answer if there is a knock. She has one living sister who stays in touch, but she can only recall and long for the siblings who have died.
Though she loves these pastimes, she will not read, she will not write, nor will she listen long to a story or information that has always interested her. She has a stereo in her room. It is a gift from me that she has always treasured. She loves music. But now she keeps it turned off. When I remind her of this choice, she says yes to turning it on but it’s not long before the stereo is silenced, the remote is displaced, the power cord is unplugged and even the antenna is mysteriously disconnected.
What kind of disease bypasses all other bodily organs to target the brain, passionately propagating fear, misery and isolation? The kind that attacks the mind and tries to eradicate all evidence of the Self.
We are learning that Alzheimer’s is strongly influenced by environmental factors, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5059894). Even if it runs in the family (genetic inheritance) CRISPR and epigenetics research is implying that the gene can be modified or does not have to be turned on in the first place. In plain English, how we live and what we eat largely determine our risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A major sign of how well we are doing with our lifestyle is the level of inflammation in our bodies. In this we have been handed a key to our healing. We can increase or reduce inflammation by our level of rest, our mood and by what we eat. Cancer, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are all characterized by chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a fire. Sugar fuels the flame.
“Throughout the body, excess sugar is harmful. Even a single instance of elevated glucose in the bloodstream can be harmful to the brain, resulting in slowed cognitive function and deficits in memory and attention.” https://www.verywellmind.com
The average American eats seventeen teaspoons of sugar per day. Average daily allowance is suggested at six teaspoons for women, nine for men. One soda has an average of 10 teaspoons of the white stuff. In addition, fast foods and packaged foods, breads, white rice and other simple carbs turn to sugar in our bodies. Is it any wonder risk factors for Alzheimer’s are now being identified in our children? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10668705
One of the biggest enemies to our health is our love of foods that wreck our health. We must start ‘loving foods that love us back’. Excess added sugar destroys our bodies. To begin putting out the fire, we can start lessening the sugars and simple carbs in our diet for us and our loved ones. The opposite of sweet is bitter. Bitter is an important purging and strengthening part of our diet.
Here’s a challenge, instead of our favorite sweet, once per week, let’s add a serving of a fresh bitter vegetable; raw broccoli, radish, kale, aloe vera, dandelion tea, green tea, the list goes on and on, all the way to health.