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How May Eating Plants Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Intake of saturated fats and added sugars, two of the primary components of a modern Western diet, is linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. There has been a global shift in dietary composition, from traditional diets high in starches and fiber, to what has been termed the Western diet, high in fat and sugar, low in whole, plant foods. What’s so great about fruits and vegetables?

Plant-derived foods contain thousands of compounds with antioxidant properties, some of which can traverse the blood-brain barrier and may have neuroprotective effects by assisting with antioxidant defense. There’s this concept of “brain rust,” that neurodegenerative diseases arise from excess oxidative stress. But Nature has gifted humankind with a plethora of plants—fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and the diverse array of bioactive nutrients present in these natural products may play a pivotal role in prevention and one day, perhaps, even the cure of various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Accumulated evidence suggests that naturally occurring plant compounds may potentially hinder neurodegeneration, and even improve memory and cognitive function, as I’ve shared in my videos Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Plants and How to Slow Brain Aging By Two Years), as well as treat Alzheimer’s with spices such as saffron or turmeric (See Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s and Treating Alzheimer’s with Turmeric).

Vegetables may be particularly protective, in part because of certain compounds found in dark green leafy vegetables.  These compounds concentrate in the brain, and their consumption is associated with lower rates of age-related cognitive decline.

Yet, when you look at systematic reviews on what we can do to prevent cognitive decline, you’ll see conclusions like this: “The current literature does not provide adequate evidence to make recommendations for interventions.” The same is said for Alzheimer’s, “Currently, insufficient evidence exists to draw firm conclusions on the association of any modifiable factors with risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Doctors cite the lack of randomized controlled trials  (RCTs) as the basis for their conclusions. RCTs are the gold standard used to test new medicines. This is where researchers randomize people into two groups, half get the drug and half don’t, to control for confounding factors. The highest level of evidence is necessary because drugs may kill a hundred thousand Americans every year – not medication errors or illicit drugs, just regular, FDA-approved prescription drugs, making medication alone the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. So, you better make absolutely sure the benefits of new drugs outweigh the often life-threatening risks.

But we’re talking about diet and exercise—the side effects are all good; so, we don’t need the same level of rigorous evidence to prescribe them.

A “modest proposal” was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, an editorial calling for a longitudinal study of dementia prevention. They agreed that definitive evidence for the effectiveness of dementia prevention methods was lacking; so, we need large-scaled randomized trials. They suggested we start with 10,000 healthy volunteers in their 20’s and split them into five groups. There’s evidence, for example, that traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, because people with head injuries appear more likely to get the disease, but it’s never been put to the test. So, they say, let’s take two thousand people and beat half of them in the head with baseball bats, and the other half we’ll use Styrofoam bats as a control. Afterall, until we have randomized controls, how can physicians recommend patients not get hit in the head? They go further saying we should probably chain a thousand people to a treadmill for 40 years, and a thousand people to a couch before recommending exercise. A thousand will be forced to do crossword puzzles; another thousand forced to watch Jerry Springer reruns, with lots of meat and dairy or not prescribed for another group for the next 40 years, and we can hook a thousand folks on four packs a day just to be sure.

We help our patients to quit smoking despite the fact that there’s not a single randomized controlled trial where they held people down and piped smoke into their lungs for a few decades. It is time to realize that the ultimate study in regard to lifestyle and cognitive health cannot be done. Yet, the absence of definitive evidence should not restrict physicians from making reasonable recommendations based on the evidence that is available.

I’ve discussed how drug-centric approaches to evidence-based medicine may neglect some of the most convincing data: Evidence-Based Medicine or Evidence-Biased? 

To see how and why I built NutritionFacts.org on evidence-based principles, see my recent introductory videos:

A sampling of some of my Alzheimer’s videos:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations—2013: Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a Day2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food, 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


44 responses to “How May Eating Plants Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

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  1. Does the dry-roasting, baking, and steaming of nuts make them harmful?

    Some vegans say nuts should only be consumed raw because the heat from cooking will damage the fats and thus cause harm in our bodies, and then raw fats are healthy. Is there truth in this? PLEASE NOTE: I am not referring to added oils being applied to nuts and then roasting, or frying, I am simply referring to dry-roasting and baking and steaming. Yeah, these vegans and even non-vegans claim that heat creates toxic elements to these high-fat plant foods.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      It appears that, for example in cashew nuts, the overall effect is positive in regards to antioxidant activity and quality (1, 2, 3). However, this effect is also largely dependent on the method of cooking (please check the references attached).

      Other research has also been conducted into African walnuts (4).

      According to these three studies (5, 6, 7), it appears that ALA & lignan’s in flaxseed are pretty heat stable and therefore if you use them in cooking, you will still get most of its benefits.

      Hope this answer helps.

  2. The title reads awkwardly. How eating plants may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Or: May Eating Plants Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

  3. Seems like your standard blog at first. Interesting. Innocent. Then pow! This blog makes such a powerful point as it sucks you into the absurd without warning. Reading this blog article, I “get it” in an emotional way that might be missed if presented different.

    So well explained. Thanks Dr. Greger!

  4. Most people I know don’t have higher education. Many, believe it or not, don’t have internet. Many aren’t even very strong readers. or all that literate sadly. And people believe what they want to believe to begin with. So reading an article like this or even watching a NF video is just not going to happen. I can’t imagine there is anybody (except industry trolls) who frequent this website who isn’t on a WFPB diet. But to make widespread change, I think the leadership has to come from the medical community and government. A grass routes movement like the current WFPB movement is going to make exceedingly slow progress particularly when the medical community and the government are promoting the exact opposite.

    1. If you read the comments on this site, you will know that many people here have eaten SAD , are learning about whole foods and plant based and are trying to develop it into a regular practice. I agree however that we need to get average doctors, nurses, and the government involved.
      john S

    2. Blair, in my many years of observation, I’ve noticed that big changes always start with the people, not the leaders who benefit from the status quo. Think about the American Revolution, and the Berlin wall coming down, as examples. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and other important historical figures spoke to and for the common people. There are many other examples when you start looking for them. I think the movement toward healthy food is gaining steam kind of underground, and I’ve seen movement in that direction increasing constantly, especially in the last few years. It may take a lot longer, but when the tipping point is reached, changes can happen fast.

      Dr Greger began by teaching students in medical schools all over the country, but he saw that he needed to reach larger numbers, so he took to the internet and he now reaches thousands more people – people who recognize the need for his information – than he could ever have done had he continued only touring the country giving talks to med students. At some point enough people will demand change and change will happen.

      If you want to learn about an example of what happened when well-meaning people attempted to get a state government involved in helping its’ citizens become healthier, go to plantpurenation.com and read about or watch the film on the subject. Many of the legislators favored the idea but when lobbyists from Big Ag got wind, the deal was defeated. Money talks, Big Business owns the government and has plenty of money to pay for owning more. Only people at the grassroots can bring about real change.

      1. I don’t agree. Governments can and do play an important role. People at the grassroots are largely helpless in the face of extraordinarily cheap junk food (including animal foods), pervasive advertising and industry sponsorship of major “charities”, professional bodies and academic education

        Look at tobacco. In Australia, smoking rates are down to about 13% as a consequence of punitive tax rates, bans on advertising, plain packaging laws, bans on smoking in public places and ubiquitous “quit smoking” campaigns.
        http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-kff

        For a diet-related example, look at the “rapid decline in mortality due to coronary heart disease in Poland between 1991 and 1994, corresponding with increases in the ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat in people’s diet and fruit consumption.1 The changes in food consumption followed changes in economic policy, including reductions in subsidies for dairy and other animal fats.”
        http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7510/187

        The World Health Organization also commented on the same phenomenon
        “Recent evidence of the potentially powerful impact of reducing dietary saturated fats is graphically illustrated by the recent large falls in CHD mortality in Poland, between 1990 and 2002 (by 38% in men and 42% in women). This reduction across socioeconomic groups was attributed to the abolition of national food subsidies for saturated fats and the emergence of new, competitive markets, greatly increasing consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils.”
        http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/7/08-053728/en/

        The power of financial incentives and impediments to influence dietary choices is high. This is an area where governments can play a very important role. Admittedly however, this is a huge challenge in countries like the USA where industry is free to bankroll elected politicians and conduct extensive lobbying campaigns. And of course to sponsor community and professional organisations and to buy media advertising etc.

        1. Tom, I appreciate your comments and especially your research. It’s your last paragraph that reflects my observations. I don’t have much faith in our governmental bodies – both elected and appointed positions, regardless of political parties – to do the right things for our health. The money thrown around by Big Food, Big Ag, Big Pharma, etc. are such powerful incentives that We the People seem to get little real representation. Do you think I’m a bit jaded on the subject?

          IF the government would get behind the WFPB movement, not the Paleo or other movements, I think we could see big changes much more quickly, but I’m terribly skeptical of that IF ever leading to WHEN, at least in my lifetime.

          1. Unfortunately, I agree. I read “The China Study” and “Whole”, both elaborating endlessly on the unbelievable level of corruption in our government and medical system. It got to the point I could hardly stand to read them. But I also stand by my original statement and agree with Tom. The odds are stacked against the average person. I guess I’m not all that optimistic. As far as personnel health goes, “you can lead a horse to water….”. With respect to environmental destruction and ethics, unfortunate consequences.

            1. Blair, the situation, which you fully understand, seems dismal. I don’t see any hope for the government to make sweeping changes in health recommendations in this country, but I still hold out hope that when enough people demand it, things will change. It’s the hundredth monkey concept, right or wrong. And I still hold the shining examples of movements that have started with the people and brought about important change. It’s all the hope I have!

              I’d be interested to know what part of the country you live in. Where I am (Western Washington) there are a LOT of people focused on better health through nutrition and exercise. Maybe that’s partly because Olympia is roughly halfway between two naturopathic colleges and we have dozens of alternative practitioners of every stripe.

              1. Oh, lucky you. Yes, I’ve heard that out where you’re at, in the Pacific northwest, people are a lot more progressive. They say that Portland Oregon is the vegan Mecca of the US. (And a Mecca for yogis too.) I’m in New England and I can’t say the same unfortunately. Even at the monthly vegetarian society meetings and potluck dinners, there are very few vegans or even vegetarians! And even those people don’t really seem to be all that receptive to learning about a vegan lifestyle! Not really sure what they’re even doing there to be honest. The health condition of the average person that I see in my daily life can only be described as abysmal. That said, I am seeing the grassroots movement that you talk about grow very fast, especially through the magic of the internet. Online at least, it’s exploded over the last five years or so, NF being a big part of that I’m sure. But still very small as a percentage of population. And a WFPB lifestyle is definitely becoming more mainstream. At least on the internet.

                1. Blair, it’s kind of ironic that you’re so close, relatively speaking, to some of the WFPB pioneers, at least of our era, like T Colin Campbell and Dr Esselstyn.

                  Portland is a neat city. We spent a few days there last fall and found a wonderful vegan restaurant. There isn’t one that I know of here in Olympia, though.

                  There is a very active vegetarian society in Seattle, but it isn’t practical for us to attend their monthly dinners. The Vegetarian Society of Hawaii has some wonderful speakers on Youtube. I think it’s the largest vegetarian society in the country. It’s really funny that people attending yours aren’t even vegetarian and don’t seem interested in learning. They must be simply wanting people to socialize with.

                  1. I think a lot of people on this site are like me and so used to a WFPB diet and the science behind it that it seems like second nature now. Just talking to other people, like those at our Veg Society that aren’t even vegetarian, I get the following picture. They’re suffering from health problems or obesity and are starting to suspect these problems are connected with diet. They have a computer and do a google search on “best diet for weight loss” or something like that. They get 5000 hits, all but 3 for fad diets or paleo diets that are counterproductive and actually harmful to their health. They click one of the first links randomly or because it sounds like something they want to hear. They connect to a fad diet and the webpage has some links (real or not) to what it claims to be sources backing up the claims. They don’t have a scientific background so don’t bother to check the sources and wouldn’t really be able to tell if they were valid or not. The author of the webpage talks authoritatively and convincingly and doesn’t tell them anything they don’t really want to hear. To them, they wouldn’t be able to distinguish this scenario from nutritionfacts.org.

                    1. Blair, You probably have them pegged. All we can do to help others is the best we can. Bless you for being a shining example for such people.

  5. Epidemiology is enough for me, though it still doesn’t answer all the questions. Check this out:
    Worldwide, the global prevalence of dementia was estimated to be 3.9 % in people aged 60+ years, with the regional prevalence being
    1.6 % in Africa,
    4.0 % in China and Western Pacific regions,
    4.6 % in Latin America,
    5.4 % in Western Europe, and
    6.4 % in North America.

    Too bad they didn’t have South India figures. But with Africa being so low is it the plants? How about the lack of meat? Maybe vitamin D. There are several things on google about vitamin D and Alzheimer’s. Maybe it is sodium and hypertension! China eats a lot of salt and maybe that explains why they weren’t closer to the African figures. The only choice is to eat plant based, get plenty of sunshine or supplement D, avoid the oils, etc.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181909/

    1. Great post and link. Thanks.

      I suspect that the South India dementia rates may be relatively high given the widespread use of hydrogenated oils and spreads, fried foods, sweets and dairy there. In fact, there is some evidence that South Indian rates are higher than the Indian national average.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367932/

      The article you linked to is also useful for the light it throws on the claims of the self-styled cholesterol (and saturated fat) sceptics that low cholesterol is dangerous and high cholesterol is protective for brain health. It provides a useful discussion on this topic including midlife high cholesterol being a risk factor for dementia. It also refers to the long term Honolulu study which found
      “RESULTS:
      Cholesterol levels in men with dementia and, in particular, those with Alzheimer disease had declined at least 15 years before the diagnosis and remained lower than cholesterol levels in men without dementia throughout that period. The difference in slopes was robust to adjustment for potential confounding factors, including vascular risk factors, weight change, alcohol intake, and use of lipid-lowering agents.
      CONCLUSION:
      A decline in serum total cholesterol levels may be associated with early stages in the development of dementia.”
      http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/793179

      In other words, when the keto people and other dietary saturated fat and cholesterol promoters claim that low cholesterol in older people “causes” dementia they seem to be getting it exactly the wrong way around. Whether their claims on this issue are due to ignorance, an unwillingness to accept inconvenient evidence or a cynical attempt to sell more books/products is a puzzle. They very seldom seem to recognise that the reverse causation explanation even exists, let alone to try to address it seriously. And the Honolulu study are a fairly stark refutation of their claims.

      1. Tom, I find this confusing. When the conclusion says “A decline in serum total cholesterol levels may be associated with early stages in the development of dementia.” how does that show the saturated fat promoters wrong?

        1. They argue that “High total cholesterol actually reduces the risk of dementia in the elderly which is contrary to prevailing medical belief. (5)”
          http://wearechange.org/study-shows-high-cholesterol-reduces-alzheimers-dementia-risk/

          They base this on studies which show that older people (in Westernised societies) with high cholesterol are less likely to have dementia than older people with low cholesterol. Therefore, they argue, low cholesterol must increase dementia risk ie there is a causal effect. This is despite the fact that studies of people in midlife who have high cholesterol show that they have greater risk of dementia.

          People with stable low cholesterol throughout life do not have higher risk of dementia. Populations with average low cholesterol levels have lower dementia prevalence than populations with average high cholesterol for example.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3212027/

          Only those people whose cholesterol levels decline have increased risk, as the Honolulu study shows. In Western countries pretty much everyone has high cholesterol. It only declines after midlife if people adopt a healthy diet, lose weight, engage in sustained vigorous exercise, take statins or have a disease which causes cholesterol to decline. This study shows Alzheimers Disease likely causes cholesterol to decline. It does not show that low cholesterol causes Alzheimers because people with stable low cholesterol do not have increased dementia risk – quite the opposite.

          1. Thanks, Tom. You’re right on top of the big picture. Are you a research scientist? I often wonder what people who answer with so many good resources do as professions.

            On the other hand, now that my 79-year-old husband has decided to embrace a healthier lifestyle to lower his cholesterol and blood sugar, should I start watching for signs of dementia? Yikes! There’s no end to the madness!

            1. Thanks Rebecca but, no, I am not a scientist of any description. I am just a retired bureaucrat who worked in a national health department for over 20 years. In fact I managed a group of national dementia programmes at one stage. As part of the job, I naturally developed an interest in health matters and learnt how to research the relevant literature.
              Lowering your husband’s cholesterol through diet and lifestyle changes is not a worry. It’s a definite benefit. It is time to worry if the cholesterol declines for no obvious reason. This is because some diseases like Alzheimers, certain cancers, liver diseases, specific viruses and alcoholism are all known to cause cholesterol to decline.

    1. You do not say what her diet is but soy consumption may be an issue in early puberty in girls. As well as tofu, soy milk etc, soy in the form of soy flour is found in many processed foods.
      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/92/3/556.long

      You could also look at some of the videos etc on puberty on this site and McDougall’s site etc for more info
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-effect-of-soy-on-precocious-puberty/
      puberty site:drmcdougall.com

      1. Thank you Tom Goff. Her diet is very simple, Beans, rices, buckwheat, quinoa,etc . I may, once a month, have some tofu in our diet, no other soy products. She is also gluten-free.
        Thanks for the site, I will now look into them.

        1. Elissa, it sounds like you are doing everything out there to help and it must be quite frustrating. Two more things to consider are vitamin D status and parabens. Make sure her vitamin D levels are optimal as girls with low serum vitamin D tend to reach menarche earlier than those with optimal D. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21831989
          You probably already purchase personal care products are all natural and paraben-free, but just thought I’d mention it as parabens have estrogenic effects. I’ll let you know if I find anything else that may help. Regardless, all of these positive steps you are making will help her grow up healthy!

          1. Thanks Julie. I was just doing some more reading on Vitamin D and I think because we live her I am going to up her Vitamin D and K2. Yes, I have been making my own deodorant and lotion for sometime now….simple coconut oil and essential oils. Also, testing every nature detergent I can find at an affordable price.

            Thanks again.

    2. Besides limiting soy and eliminating plastics and pesticides, it may help to boost your daughter’s own detox pathways and metabolism of estrogen. Include leafy greens (chlorophyll for detox) and cruciferous vegetables to increase her liver’s natural detoxification pathways. Make sure she eats a fiber-rich diet as fiber attaches to excess estrogens in the intestines and flushes them away. Lastly exercise (FUN activity) and keeping a normal body weight are important. Girls who exercise tend to reach puberty later and excess body fat produces excess estrogen.

      1. Oh, VegGuy, everything you have said, I have done over the years. She is 9, weight less then 60lbs, but she is 5ft tall. I don’t use plastics anything and being vegan all her life, leafy greens and calciferous vegetable is all we eat. I have eaten more “fake” meat then my children. Beans, rice and vegetable daily. Lots of smoothies in the summer months.

        She was born with Eczema and in my ignorant, I used and did what the doctors said for a long time. But, because I did not feel good about all the creams, I started to study for myself and that is were I am today.

        I have also spent a lot of money and try herbal detoxing, cut out sugar out of our diet, agave sometimes, and even homemade popcorn. I am being honest because I need the help. I will have to look into a deeper detoxing system….I don’t want my baby to ‘grow up’ so fast.

        1. Elissa Phrilgence: Reading your story makes me ache. It seems like you are doing everything right: a fantastic diet, staying away from plastics, etc. You had asked about soy. My understanding is that the isolated soy protein in fake meats etc could be a problem, but 3-5 servings a day of traditional soy, such as tofu, should be no problem. Certainly the amount of soy your daughter is getting should be no problem.

          Like others, my thought after reading about details of her diet was to a) look to environmental factors such as the plastics and pesticides you already mentioned. Maybe there are other environmental factors that could be looked at??? Do you live near a farm?

          b) medical. It sounds like you have some reason to be distrustful of doctors, but what if there is something going on (a benign tumor?) near some glands that could be fixed? It might worth taking your daughter to an expert to evaluate? You would need a really good expert who won’t just throw up his hands and say, “this early puberty is happening more and more now in our society and there is nothing you can do. ” You would need an expert who understands the healing power of the diet and lifestyle you have provided for your daughter. In your situation, I can’t think of any good/valid reason why your daughter should be going through puberty so early. Maybe an expert who really knows what he/she is doing could figure it out.
          .
          If the doctor (or you) determines that those creams are responsible, then maybe you are already doing everything possible to help your daughter. In that case, you and your daughter can relax and enjoy each other and life as it is. Your daughter is alive and from what you describe *relatively* healthy and has an awesome mama. One thing you don’t want to do is stress over something you can’t change.
          .
          Best of luck to you both.

          1. Oh thanks you so much Thea for your respond and your kinds words. My children are my life and I am not just saying that to look better than I am. I will and have done more to help them, then I would ever do for myself. You are right, the stress of trying to figure out what is going on with her is getting to me, and I can image her as well. I honestly thought I was doing the best for her, then this…

            Because of her eczema who moved from Florida to Maine to escape the humidity and heat. No we do not live next to a farm, but I have notice that the first sign started in the first two years of us being in Maine. So that lead me into looking at the water supply which is well water, and thinking about getting a water filter.

            No sign of what I was doing pointed to her going through early puberty. That is why I am so sad and confuse.

            If possible do you know of any expert that I would try? Any help will be welcome.

            1. Elissa, you mentioned to Thea that you live in Maine. Maine is one of a few states that requires licensing for their naturopaths. Maybe you can find a good naturopath in your area through Maine Association of Naturopathic Doctors. Best of Luck!! http://mand.org/

            2. Elissa it sounds as though you have everything covered. Maybe 9 isn’t that early? Are you saying she is starting to develop breasts buds etc? It can be many years before she actually starts her period.

            3. Elissa Philgence: Sadly, I don’t have a clue what type of expert would be able to diagnose this. Hopefully one of the medical experts can weigh in on this.
              .
              The only idea I have is to do a phone consultation with Dr. Michael Klapper. This is really not his area I don’t think, but he is an expert on plant based diets and he might be able to direct you to the correct place or person to help you. But I don’t know enough about him to even say that. So, this is not a strong recommendation.
              .
              One thing I’m sure you don’t want is for your daughter to feel bad about her body or growing up. So, you will have to balance trying to figure out what is wrong with helping your daughter accept and feel proud about herself. That’s a tough line to walk. I’m thinking good thoughts for you both.

              1. Thank you Thea for your respond. I will look into Dr Klapper site again. I understand what you are saying and it is hard not to stress about my confusion of what is going on with her body and in the process stress her out. However, I am working on it.

                Thanks for your thoughts and I will continue on my quest for her and others.

                Peace to you.

    3. Is she overweight? It takes a certain amount of fatness for puberty to begin. If so, help her to get more interested in activities that don’t involve food. Exercise also helps with lowering hormones and with mood. I was an overweight preteen vegetarian who ate healthy foods but spent way too much time eating and fixing foods out of boredom. Fortunately a move, new friends, and sports/dance changed all of that and I was able to delay puberty until my late teens. I think it’s awesome that you are trying to help her – I believe that delaying puberty is a huge advantage for girls in keeping them focused on school and career paths! I had little interest in dating until college haha. My oldest daughter is almost 10 and she has just started needing daily showers and natural deodorant even though she is very thin and active, eating high fiber etc. No other signs yet but the odor thing already concerns me a little

      1. Sorry, I just saw the posts below about how thin she is. Very puzzling! What a blessed girl to have such a loving mother. You are way more vigilant than I am. My kids are all adopted and I remember our pediatrician telling me to expect our African-American children to develop about a year earlier than others. 9 is still very early but something to consider. Also, my 9 yo said she was the last in her class to need deodorant. In addition I have a McDougall vegan friend whose adopted 5 yo needs deodorant. He smells like onions within a couple of hours of bathing, but the older siblings don’t (she adopted sibling group as we did) They mostly eat beans and brown rice and fruits, so who knows. A lot of individuality even in the same house with similar genes.

        1. Thanks Clare for sharing your story with me and for all you advice. As you have read, she is a small person and tall. She does not stop moving. She sings and dance all day long. I must say I am not too excited about Winters, but I do try to get them outside a much as I can stand.

          Yes, believe me when I say I am more puzzled then you are, and that’s the honest true.,.

          Thanks also for your kind words and I am working on one day sharing and helping others with ‘our’ story about how we made it over.

    4. If it’s caused by what I suspect is the cause, It may not be reversible and she is going through an early puberty. There was some research published sometime in the past 10 to 20 years that strongly suggested that this is a problem that can affect children who were fed soy based infant formula for some period of time during the first 12 weeks of their lives. It is during this period that their estrogen normally spikes to adult levels before dropping back to normal infant levels. Apparently being fed soy can disrupt the estrogen levels sufficiently during this crucial period of hormonal regulation development that boys later developed a gender crisis, not knowing whether they were boys or girls, often declaring that they are girls while still in elementary school and girls fed soy during this crucial period often would go into early puberty starting around the age of 8. The reported research finding were pretty compelling. Needless to say, very little was ever mentioned about followup studies, which is not too surprising.

      It has been known for a long time that soy contains phytoestrogen compounds. If we want healthy children, they should be breast fed for at least 6 months or more after birth, if possible.

      Unfortunately, the above, is the best cause and effect that I’m aware of. It would just mean that this young lady is going into early puberty as you described, and will probably be alright otherwise, expect for a very early interest in boys. Once menses starts get he regular, blood workups to make sure that her iron levels are holding.

      1. Thanks for your reply Dr. Howard and for your time. My daughter was exquisitely breastfed for the first years of her life. Any soy product she may have received would have come from my breast milk.
        When I introduced her to solid food at 1 year of age her first milk was rice milk then Hemp milk. She was also breastfeed for two years. So, this is the level of my confusion, I through I was doing everything right. Soy milk nor soy products were never introduce to her until later in her life and even then it was, and is, far in between-once or twice per week.

        I know sometimes things written can be interrupted wrong and there may seem to be missing parts not share but I speak only the truth here, because I am truly confused and puzzled about this and I don’t want to leave any stone not turn when it comes to the health of my children, be it big or small.

        I am working on getting her blood work down and I will definitely look into her iron and vitamin D levels.

        Thanks for your time again.

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