Minimize Aluminum Exposure:
Aluminum Is in Our Foods38
Aluminum is the
most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and the third most abundant
element, behind oxygen and silicon. Aluminum is present in our water,
foods, medications, and air. The healthy human body has effective
barriers, such as the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract, against
aluminum. Aluminum is not a nutrient – in other words, the body has no
need for this metal – and avoidance has no negative consequences.
naturally contain aluminum, but some, such as tea, are particularly high
in this metal. Fortunately, most of the aluminum in natural plant foods is
bound with other substances, such as silicon, which prevents absorption of
the aluminum into the body. The harmful (unbound, more easily
absorbable) forms of aluminum enter our foods as additives, such as a
leavening agent, emulsifier, acidifying agent, anti-caking agent, or
coloring. Cooking, packaging and handling foods in aluminum containers
increase the amount of this toxic metal in foods.
The cans used for carbonated and non-carbonated beverages,
like colas and fruit drinks, leak significant amounts of aluminum into the
beverage.39 Most canned-food containers, however, are made of
steel, not aluminum. The use of aluminum skillets, pressure cookers, pans,
pots, coffee makers, dinner trays, wraps and foils all add aluminum to
foods. Long cooking in an acidic environment, and using new pots and
pans, further increases aluminum leaching into the food. For example,
tomato products provide an acidic environment during cooking – using an
aluminum pot to simmer tomato sauce increases the aluminum concentration
by 570 times.38
Medications Containing Aluminum
Look at the
labels of your over-the-counter medications. You will find aluminum as an
active ingredient in many antacids. People may be consuming 840 to 5000
mg of aluminum a day from this source.38 Pain killers
(analgesics) often have aluminum as an inactive ingredient (130 to 730
mg/day can be consumed).38 Some calcium supplements contain
small amounts of aluminum. Also look up your prescription medications on
the Internet or in a PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference), and you will often
find aluminum used as an inactive ingredient.
(calcium citrate antacids) increases aluminum absorption into the body by
8 to 11 times over the absorption that would occur when aluminum is
present in the intestine without citrate.40-42 Many liquid and
wafer antacids do not contain citrate, such as TUMS with calcium
United States, aluminum potassium sulfate is the only approved substance
used to enhance the immune response and approved for use in vaccines.
Some researchers consider this a serious matter and suspect that the
amounts given during routine vaccination can cause an ongoing inflammatory
response in the brain.43
In AD there has
been a tendency for some of the greatest accumulation of plaques and
neurofibrillary tangles to occur in the olfactory lobes of the brain.44
This is the only portion of the brain that has direct exposure to the
outside environment, through the nose. Here the smell-sensitive nervous
tissues have the capacity to pick up and transmit substances like aluminum
directly into the brain.44,45 In the past, most of the
airborne aluminum came from industrial sources.
There is now a
new and common source of airborne aluminum and that is from
antiperspirants. Every morning people are spraying past their armpits
right into their faces with these products. One study found a 60% greater
risk of AD with use of antiperspirants, and a trend toward a higher risk
with increasing frequency of use.46 All antiperspirants
contain aluminum chloride – which stops the sweating. Plain
deodorants do not contain this aluminum ingredient.
Recommendations for the Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
recommendations for AD are the same ones that I would offer for the
prevention and treatment for most of the other common diseases which
plague people who follow the rich Western diet: Consume a low-fat,
no-cholesterol, plant-based diet and avoid toxic substances -- the focus
in this case is aluminum, but iron may also be important. There is
absolutely no reason to delay following this advice – the benefits are
documented for many diseases and for health in general.
Your goals should
be similar to the ones you already know for heart disease. For example,
you should strive for a blood total cholesterol level below 150 mg/dl.
You accomplish this, first and foremost, by following a no-cholesterol,
low-fat diet based on plant foods (The McDougall Diet). Depending upon
the degree of impending risk for future trouble (for example heart
disease, stroke, or AD) you may decide to add cholesterol-lowering
medications in order to accomplish this goal. (See my September 2002
Newsletter article, “Cholesterol - When and How to Treat.”)
suffering with AD should be even more aggressive with treating cholesterol
and removing toxic aluminum from the body. In this case I would be more
inclined to prescribe statin medications, with a goal of achieving a
cholesterol level below 150 mg/dl. (See my June 2003 Newsletter article,
“Cleaning out Your Arteries,” for a relevant discussion on treating artery
disease and a guide to AD treatment.) There is an argument that the kind
of medication matters – statins which do not easily cross the blood-brain
barrier (like Lipitor does not easily cross) should be used.47
Next, for someone
with AD I would administer desferrioxamine, 125 mg intramuscularly
twice daily for 5 days per week for months and maybe years, in order to
remove aluminum and iron from the body.36,37 Although daily
injections may seem painful, they do not approach the suffering from the
progressive loss of mental function of AD. (By the way, desferrioxamine is
a low-profit drug that cannot be patented and this is the reason you have
not heard about this treatment. This all may change for drug treatments
for AD when high profit statins are recommended, and advertised to
patients and doctors.)
So you see
you are no more helpless with AD then you are with CHD (coronary heart
disease). Your options are mostly limited by what you know. Since money
drives information, too few people know about these simple,
scientifically-based steps I have outlined to avoid the suffering of AD
and other common diseases.
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