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  • Food for thought on Alzheimer's and a Possible Connection to Diet and Medications


    Recent studies have scarily concluded that as many as one in three adults will develop some form of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease as they age. Typically, the onset starts as early as age sixty five, although there are over 2.5 million cases of Early Onset Alzheimer’s noted globally.

    While no one is entirely sure what causes these debilitating conditions, we do know there are ways to reduce your risk and prolonging brain health as we age. Recently, we were made aware of some provocative product warnings linking the use Omeprazole (Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid) to increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. These drugs are widely prescribed and available over the counter to treat severe Heartburn and acid reflux. They work to reduce the level of stomach acid, subsequently easing symptoms.

    Now what foods trigger this discomfort and potentially dangerous condition? There are several agreed upon food types and condiments which can aggravate the digestive tract and cause a flare up. The most recognized are:

    · alcohol, particularly red wine

    · red meat

    · processed meats

    · black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods

    · chocolate

    · citrus fruits and products, such as lemons, oranges and orange juice

    · coffee and caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda

    · peppermint

    · tomatoes

    We took that logic a step further and are postulating there may be a yet identified connection to the onset of Dementia and ALZ and diet by region. To bolster this theory, we looked to recently released data which highlights the propensity and disproportionate clusters of Dementia patients in several states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The numbers are actually quite remarkable:


    Adjusted prevalence in the Medicare cohort

    Observed number of Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with dementia

    Estimated number of dementia cases in the Medicare sample

    Number of persons potentially not diagnosed

    % Difference

    MA 8.32 49 555 52 340 2785 −5.32

    RI 8.26 7850 8373 523 −6.24

    Now, let’s look at the State with the lowest reported rates, Arizona:

    AZ 6.01 21 315 30 842 9527 −30.89

    Is there a definitive connection? Perhaps. But it hasn’t been proven yet, and requires formal study. But the data does point to a correlation that should not be ignored. Before you head to your local pharmacy to fill your Omeprazole script, consider this food for thought, and investigate other options to treat your symptoms.

    Author: Allyson C

    Sources: CBS News, WebMD, Academic OUP 

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