Sylvia Hatzer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in December 2016. Her condition deteriorated when she was admitted to hospital after a fall and became very confused and disorientated. However, now aged 82, Sylvia’s symptoms seem to have improved dramatically, and her son Mark believes this is all down to changes in diet and lifestyle.

Mark, who lives with his mum, wrote about Sylvia’s new, healthier lifestyle, in a blog for the Alzheimer’s Society last month. As well as dietary changes, including eating more ‘brain-nourishing’ foods such as leafy green veg and blueberries, Sylvia also enjoys cognitive activities such as jigsaw puzzles and crosswords and gentle physical activity.

The combination has, says Mark, had a profound impact. ‘Little by little, day by day, we managed to turn things around,’ Mark wrote. ‘It was no quick fix. I slowly got my mum back. Her memory is improving all the time. She is basically her old self again.’

This is fantastic news for Mark and Sylvia, but it was not a miracle cure for dementia as the headlines below seem to imply:

Brave Sylvia recovers from dementia after changing her diet

OAP’s Mind Miracle: Dementia mum gets her memory back after making a simple diet change

Dementia sufferer who couldn’t recognise son gets memory back

Sylvia has not recovered - she still has Alzheimer’s - but her condition is being managed so successfully that she’s able to enjoy life to the full.  Nor is there anything unique about her diet. She is simply following all the current healthy eating advice and eating a Mediterranean-type diet containing foods that are rich in antioxidants (berries, green leaves and veg contain high levels of antioxidants). Studies suggest these foods may help to protect the brain from the cell damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, though the evidence isn’t yet conclusive.

It’s also important to note the food Sylvia doesn’t eat, such as fried food, fast food, sugary drinks, cakes and sweets, which experts agree should be kept to a minimum. The fact that Sylvia is ‘very keen on’ jigsaw puzzles and crosswords could also be helping to keep her brain stimulated and contributing to her overall sense of wellbeing.

‘There is currently no cure or way of preventing the progression of dementia but taking regular gentle exercise, eating a healthy diet and doing cognitive exercise can help someone with dementia manage their symptoms more effectively,’ says Sue Clarke from Alzheimer’s Society.

We sincerely hope that Sylvia continues to live well and enjoy life– but we’ll remain wary of newspaper headlines suggesting miracle cures.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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