Here I was, innocently munching on my crunchy cheese bits and working on an article, when I received an e-mail alert. "Fast-food linked to Alzheimer's: Eating fast food could contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new Swedish study."
I took a few more bites as I clicked open the link and scanned the article. Here's another reason not to eat fast food, I'm thinking, as I munch on my snack. Finally - a little slowly perhaps, but finally - I realized that they weren't just talking about my stop to pick up supper. This study also refers to what I'm holding in my hand, the bags of junk food I keep in my desk drawer, and what sits in my freezer. It refers to my favorite salty snacks and ice cream cones, as well as a burger and fries.
It's nothing new to any of us that fast food is not the most healthful way to eat. Most of us even know that the shorter the list of ingredients on any packaged product we buy, the more likely it is that it is actually good for us. Well, perhaps that whipping cream that I purposely overstocked for the holidays so I'd have some extra for my coffee - perhaps that has a short list of ingredients, but is not good for me. But, in general, short lists are good. It means that real ingredients are being used.
Following a good diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and fish, is something most of us know is healthful. I've written about diet and Alzheimer's in several posts, but the one that comes to mind now is "Diet May Help Alzheimer's Patients Live Longer, But What About Their Quality of Life?" So good diet and Alzheimer's prevention isn't something new.
However this Swedish study is the first study I've read about that directly links the fats, sugar and cholesterol found in fast food to the tangles typically found in the brain of those whose brains are affected by Alzheimer's disease.
This study examined mice fed a diet rich in these ingredients. The researchers found, in the mice brains, "increased levels of phosphate, which makes sufferer's cells become tangled and eventually leads to their death....The team also found cholesterol in food reduced the body's ability to produce another vital memory-storage protein."
Those findings point, once more, to the fact that diet may be one factor in who develops Alzheimer's.
I've written about studies that point to lack of education, and then find that super educated people like Professor Richard Taylor get the disease. I've written about studies that show that super educated people who get the disease, once they've been diagnosed, go downhill faster, presumably because their brilliance covers the disease longer. Again, I use Richard Taylor as an example, since he wrote a book five years after his diagnosis and is still, years later, out lecturing about the disease.
Many studies show that genes are a big risk factor, and they are, but that doesn't mean everyone who gets Alzheimer's has the gene, or everyone with the gene will develop Alzheimer's (at least that's not yet proven, to my knowledge).
I've posted on anti-oxidants preventing Alzheimer's disease, and about studies that can't back that up. I've written on new drugs that prevent tangles but don't show results in fewer cases of Alzheimer's.
Well, you get the picture. There are always exceptions. Studies will keep sending out conflicting information. And we'll keep watching them.
We'll keep watching the studies because we want to pass on information. We hope, one day, to pass on something that will change the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's. We really hope to pass on the great news that there is a cure for those who already suffer, and proven methods of prevention for those at risk (all of us, as we age).
Until then, we'll follow studies, even though they may be proven wrong in a week. And even if this study is one day proven wrong, when it comes to Alzheimer's, it may prod some of us to improve our diet for the betterment of our overall health. We have nothing to lose if we eat healthful foods, and may have much to gain. I know I need to do better.
Published On: December 04, 2008