This month, Connexion Insurance Solutions—a Seattle-based general agency specializing in health insurance—launched the Northwest Connexion Challenge, a 30-day program that aims to help seniors achieve better health through plant-based nutrition and online community for longevity. Launched in collaboration with Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, directors of the Brain Health Alzheimer Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center and frequent guests on Dr. Oz, the challenge was designed to treat chronic health conditions while combating loneliness—two major health concerns among the senior population. 

According to the National Council of Aging, 80 percent of older adults live with at least one chronic disease while 77 percent report having at least two. Similarly, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports that more than one third of adults over 45 years of age experience loneliness. Social isolation and loneliness are associated with a 50-percent increased risk of dementia and other chronic conditions according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Through this two-fold approach, the Northwest Connexion Challenge aims to treat serious health conditions among senior participants using a whole-food, plant-based diet. Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai will answer group questions and join weekly Facebook Live sessions with program participants to help them transition toward a plant-based diet. Supplementing the program’s nutritional arm with a virtual community via Facebook also allows participants to build interpersonal relationships to help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

“We are an aging society and unfortunately we will continue to see the rates of chronic diseases such as Alzeimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s steadily increase in the years to come if we do not address the underlying causes of these devastating conditions,” Ayesha Sherzai, MD said. “Together we can prevent, and even reverse, many diseases by spreading the knowledge and resources necessary for individuals and families to develop these positive behaviors and habits. People who are engaged, productive, and actively connected with others tend to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.” 

Since its initial kick-off on September 1st, the free 30-day program has amassed nearly 2,500 participants. Due to its success, the Northwest Connexion program is now set to continue through 2021 with the addition of monthly speakers. Although the challenge is focused on seniors, people of all ages are encouraged to join—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of increased social isolation that has also seen increased interest in plant-based foods.

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