Eye-Opener: Might Alzheimer’s Disease Be “Foodborne”?
Latest researches suggest that a certain type of protein is linked to Alzheimer’s, Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. This protein is called TDP-43, and the interesting part is that it behaves as toxic and as prion – infectious agent responsible for destruction of the brain in cases of Chronic Wasting Disease and Mad Cow – two types of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
Chronic Wasting Disease affects deer and elk, while Mad Cow is neurodegenerative disease that appears in cattle.
According to Scientific American, prions are durable but misshapen proteins typically found in nerve cells. They cause proteins to misfold and clump together, which in turn causes a chain reaction that will eventually affect the entire brain area.
Scientists have discovered that such a process can not only occur in exotic diseases like Mad Cow, but also in major neurodegenerative disorders.
Half of Alzheimer’s Sufferers Have Prion-Like Proteins
A 2011 research found that 25 to 50% of Alzheimer’s patients have TDP-43 pathology, especially those with hippocampal sclerosis. At the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, there was a research presented suggesting that Alzheimer’s sufferers with TDP-43 had ten times more chances to have been cognitively impaired at death, than the Alzheimer’s patients without it.
So, you are probably wondering how one ends up with TDP-43?
CAFO—A Common Denominator for Chronic Wasting Disease and Mad Cow
TDP-43 belongs in the group of infectious prions which can cause neurodegeneration. The common denominator between Chronic Wasting Disease and Mad Cow forces herbivores to eat parts of animals. This triggers the question – could people be affected with this infectious agent via contaminated meat?
Although the proof is only suggestive, scientists believe it is one more reason to stop consuming meats from livestock raised in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). Just to have in mind, almost all restraints use meat from CAFO animals.
What are confined animal feeding operations? They are big warehouse-style growing facilities which keep thousands of crowded animals, and fed with a combination of glyphosate-containing GE grains and antioxidants. This unnatural and unhealthy diet is the cause of out-of-control spread of disease not only in animals, but also in humans.
The situation gets complex and problematic when herbivores are fed with meat and animal byproducts. One result of this unnatural diet is Mad Cow. This disease can spread really quickly as the remains of one affected animal can contaminate the food given to thousands of animals in different locations.
Nowadays, it’s illegal to give beef-based products as a food to cows, since giving waste products and bone meal from other infected cattle is considered as the main method to transmit Mad Cow.
But, the beef industry now uses “chicken litter” as a feed product, which can also transmit Mad Cow into the food system. So, what’s “chicken litter”? It’s a combination of dead chickens, chicken manure, spilled chicken feed, and feathers. Spilled chicken feed contains the ingredients which are supposedly off limits for cows – bone meal and cow meat.
Turkeys, chickens, and pigs can also be fed cattle byproducts. In turn, the byproducts of these animals are allowed to be used as a food for cattle. This means we will probably end up consuming any of these contaminated meats.
Chronic Wasting Disease is caused in a similar way, when wild animals are domesticated and fed with unnatural diet. It is usually spread and imported via game farm animals. Three months after the contamination, elk and deer start having infectious prions in their urine and saliva. They stay infected for the rest of their life, contaminating water and land as they go along.
The Connection between CAFO and Alzheimer’s
The human version of Mad Cow Disease is called Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. People can catch this disease by consuming meat from a cattle with Mad Cow Disease. During the Mad Cow outbreak in 2012, the Center for Food Safety reported that the most infectious part of the cow is the central nervous systems, including the spinal cord and brain.
Tissue from contaminated cows can be found in taco fillings, hot dogs, bologna, chopped or ground meat, and other products which contain gelatin. So, people who consume such products can catch Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease – a disease which causes formation of small holes in the brain tissue, making the brain resemble a sponge, and leading to dead.
People can have this disease for 10 years before noticing any symptom, such as memory loss, dementia, staggering, and impaired vision. As you can see, the symptoms of this incurable disease are similar to those of Alzheimer’s.
One theory is that Alzheimer’s disease is a slower progressive version of Mad Cow, and that’s caused by consuming infected CAFO meats. What’s more, TDP-43 can not only predispose you to Alzheimer’s, but also to Lou Gehrig’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Which part of the brain will be affected by the proteins determines the type of disease.
According to an AlzForum.org article published in 2014, the route of the pathological TDP-43 depends on the type of disease. Even though the beginning point and paths are different, the route specific for each disease shows that TDP-43 goes from neuron to neuron along axonal highways. The fact that pathological proteins are spreading throughout the nervous system suggests that these diseases are also progressive in space.
FTLD pathology progresses from the front to the back area of the brain. On the other hand, ALS staging system starts in the motor cortex at the apex of the brain and continues to move downward and forward. Although the spreading mechanisms of FTLD and ALS seem to be similar, the beginning focus of pathology is different.
The Case for Foodborne Alzheimer’s
The notion that Lou Gehrig’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases can be spread via CAFO foods dates back to 2005. In that period, the journal Medical Hypotheses has published a study which suggests that Alzheimer’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease often coexist, and so far it’s known to differ only by time-dependent physical changes. According to a recent research, around 13% of all Alzheimer’s patients are actually having Creutzfeldt-Jakob.
Moreover, it is believed that bovine tuberculosis, which is one of the biggest disease threat in U.S. CAFOs, is a vector for Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. As USDA explains, around 20 to 40% of the dairy herds in America are contaminated all the time.
Milk contaminated with M. bovis – a causative agent of tuberculosis, is long known to pose health threats. But, as Schliesser says, meat from animals which have tuberculosis also pose high risk of contamination. 25% of the tuberculosis-related deaths in U.S. adults were reportedly caused by M. Bovis. Meat eaters are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than vegetarians.
Before the spongiform outbreak in the place where CJD and BSE first appeared in UK, there was a significant raise in bovine tuberculosis. This suggests that Mad Cow Disease, Cruetzfeldt-Jackob, and Alzheimer’s, can all be caused by consuming the dairy or meat in consumer products or feed.
Choose Your Foods Wisely to Take Control over Your Health
Alzheimer’s disease is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Is it possible that it’s caused by slower-acting form of Chronic Wasting Disease or Mad Cow? The links between them are really compelling, no matter how shocking this might sound to you. These diseases point to one main culprit – the practices of factory farming which feed animals with unnatural diets and keep them in completely unhygienic conditions.
This can all stop if the factory farming returns to the true natural practices. It turns out the animals’ diet is very significant after all.
The only healthy type of meat to eat is organic, grass finished meat which is raised in a humanely and sustainable manner. Here are the organizations that can help you find such meat in your local area:
- Local Harvest. Their website will help locate family farms, farmers’ markets, and other places you can find sustainably grown food, grass-fed meats, etc.
- Eat Wild. This website is one of the largest sources for grass-fed meat and dairy in the U.S. and Canada, listing over 1,400 pasture-based farms.
- Farmers’ Markets. A website which offers a list of national farmers’ markets.
- Eat Well Guide. The directory called “Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals” on their website contains sustainably raised meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs from farms, restaurants, stores, hotels, and inns, and online U.S. and Canadian outlets.
- CISA. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture tries to sustain agriculture and promote small farms’ products.
- FoodRoutes. This website offers a map called “Find Good Food” which can help you locate farmers in your area to find the healthiest, freshest and tastiest food. There’s a list of CSA’s, local farmers, and markets in your area.