Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans,1 is a devastating degenerative brain disease that develops slowly over time, and tends to be quite lethal in its final stages.
According to the latest data, the death toll from Alzheimer’s exceeds half a million Americans per year.2 This places Alzheimer’s in the top three killer diseases in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.
There’s no conventional cure, and few if any successful medical treatments available once Alzheimer’s sets in. There is, however, compelling evidence indicating that your diet plays a significant role. This means you may have quite a bit of control when it comes to prevention.
In previous articles, I’ve discussed the links between high-carb, low-fat diets, and Alzheimer’s. Sugar, it turns out, is a major promoter of the disease. Some research even suggests that Alzheimer’s may be a form of “brain diabetes,” instigated by high sugar/fructose consumption.
The dietary links do not end there, however. More recently, investigators have raised the possibility that this severe form of dementia may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)...
The Intriguing Connections Between Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow, and Chronic Wasting Disease
The key player here is an infectious protein called TDP-43. This protein has already been linked to a number of animal and human diseases, including:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease)
Mad Cow disease
Chronic wasting disease, a transmissible neurological disease in deer and elk
Researchers have found that this protein may also play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease,3 as it is correlated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, thereby causing memory loss.
By examining the autopsied brains of more than 340 Alzheimer’s patients, the researchers found that TDP-43 was present in nearly 200 of them. As reported by MedicineNet.com:4
“The study is unlike some others because it looked at two types of patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's after death -- those who showed symptoms in life and those who didn't.
Abnormal levels of TDP-43 were found in those who had the disease and were significantly affected by it... [T]he investigators found that those with abnormal levels of TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have thinking problems such as memory loss at death than the other patients.
How could people have signs of Alzheimer's, but not have symptoms? That's not clear... But, maybe people who have [beta-amyloid] plaques and [tau] tangles don't develop symptoms unless they also have TDP-43, the researchers hypothesized.” [Emphasis mine]
Feeding Animals Animal-Byproducts Is a Common CAFO Farming Technique, and It Can Be Deadly
The common denominator between Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease5 is forcing natural herbivores to eat animal parts. Animal byproducts are in a variety of ways mixed into the feed given to CAFO livestock, and we have repeatedly seen the devastating effects of this practice.
Even in cases where omnivores, such as pigs, are fed byproducts of animals of their own kind, the practice still poses significant problems, as an infection originating in even a single sick animal can rapidly spread this way.
Over the past year, nearly 10 percent of the entire swine population in the US has been wiped out by a highly lethal virus traced back to pig’s blood used in piglet feed for example.
As explained by the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, the infectious agent that causes both Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease is believed to be prions—an infectious type of protein—not bacteria or viruses. While some prions6 serve beneficial cell functions, others, acting like an infectious agent, are known to cause neurodegeneration. TDP-43 is in this latter category.
According to a University of Pennsylvania report titled, “The Saga of a Disease Protein,”7 TDP-43 reacts to oxidative stress, suggesting that antioxidant therapy might be helpful for disease prevention.
Mad Cow Disease Is a Man-Made Plague
Mad Cow Disease is another classic example of why the CAFO “cannibal” solution, i.e. feeding animal parts back to the same species of animal tends to be a bad idea. One of the primary ways Mad Cow Disease is transmitted is when cows are fed bone meal and waste products from other cattle infected with the disease.
As a result, it's now illegal to feed beef-based products to cows. Alas, the beef industry circumvents this rule by using a feed product known as "chicken litter,” and that too can introduce this devastating disease into our food system.
Mad Cows Disease is still a factor when using chicken litter because this rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, and feathers, is also comprised of nearly one-third spilled chicken feed, which includes cow meat and bone meal used to feed the chickens—the very ingredients that aresupposed to be off limits for cows.
So, any cow that eats chicken litter may also be consuming various cow byproducts–the very same feed products that spurred Mad Cow Disease in the first place.
Pigs, chickens, and turkeys can also be fed cattle byproducts, and current laws permit byproducts of those animals to be fed back to cattle.8 This is yet another loophole that can allow Mad Cow agents to infect healthy cattle—and you, should you end up eating any of these infected meats.
The CAFO-Alzheimer’s Connection
Eating CAFO meat carries a number of health risks, including the rare occurrence of Mad Cow disease. But could the infectious prions associated with Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and Alzheimer’s be spread via CAFO meats as well? Mad Cow Disease is a prion disease that can spread like wildfire in CAFOs. And there’s speculation that diseased cattle, which is ground up for feed to chickens and other non-bovine animals, may be retransmitting the disease by virtue of it passing on through the food chain, albeit indirectly.
When a foreign protein is introduced, your body will respond with inflammation. Chronic inflammation, we know, is a hallmark of most degenerative diseases. TDP-43 is one such foreign protein, but it certainly isn’t the only foreign protein you might ingest via CAFO foods.
CAFO livestock are also given feed consisting primarily of genetically engineered (GE) grains, and GE plants are also known to produce unfamiliar proteins—some of these proteins have in fact never existed in the human food chain prior to the introduction of GE foods. It’s no small wonder then that researchers keep finding that GE foods tend to be far more allergenic than non-GE foods.9
Now, when it comes to CAFO meats, be it chicken, pork, or beef, you’re being exposed to any number of foreign proteins—and TDP-43 might be one of them... Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), or the human version of Mad Cow, has a long incubation period, and few dementia-related deaths in the US are ever investigated. An infected person usually starts having symptoms in their 60s. As noted by the Centers for Food Safety,10 the symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s, and include staggering, memory loss, impaired vision, and dementia.