Mr. Fox has raised $214M for his
foundation for PD. Even though he has been reported to
have an interest in vegetarian diets, his foundation has focused on stem
cell research, which has been, and will likely continue to be, a
dead-end path. Instead, as with most other chronic diseases, his focus
should be on the highly likely dietary causes of PD. Correcting the
cause will at the very least lead to avenues for prevention.
The Western Diet Causes Parkinson’s Disease
The strongest contact we have with our environment is our food.
Therefore, observing variations in incidence of diseases across
populations should immediately lead researchers to focus their attention
on the foods people eat. The incidence of PD is relatively high
throughout Europe and North America.1 In contrast, rural Africans,
Chinese, and Japanese, whose diets tend to be vegan or quasi-vegan, have
substantially lower rates.1 The observation that incidence of PD is
similar in African-Americans and in whites, all of whom eat the Western
diet, further indicates that environmental factors, not race or
genetics, are responsible for PD.2
Specific foods have been targeted. For example, the consumption of
milk in midlife was found to be associated with subsequent development
of PD.3 Men who consume more than two glasses of milk have twice the
incidence of PD as men who do not drink cow’s milk. The American Cancer
Society's Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort study has found
almost twice the incidence of PD in the highest consumers of milk.4
Three Possible Mechanisms for Diet-caused Brain Damage
After accepting the possibility that PD is due, at least in part, to
what we eat, then the next logical question is: how is this damage
mediated? There are three common ways our diet could kill the
dopamine-producing cells of the substantia nigra:
1) Autoimmune Reactions
One probable mechanism begins
with the destruction of the blood brain barrier by dietary components,
especially the fats. Once this barrier becomes ineffective (permeable)
then immune cells (antibodies) produced outside of the nervous system
can enter the cerebrospinal fluid and attack the brain’s cells. Dairy
proteins are notorious for causing this kind of reaction, known as
molecular mimicry. In susceptible people, cow’s milk protein may enter
the bloodstream from the intestine.5,6 The body recognizes this as a
foreign protein, like a virus or bacteria, and makes antibodies against
it. Unfortunately, these antibodies are not specific only to the cow’s
milk protein; they find similar proteins in the nervous system.
2) Vascular Disease
The compromise of the blood supply to the brain caused by vascular
closures leads to the death of brain tissues. The mechanisms are the
same as those that lead to heart attacks and common strokes. One
proposed link between PD and atherosclerosis is iron, a nutrient
associated with meat consumption.7
3) Environmental Chemicals
Most pesticides work by interfering with the nervous system of
insects, so findings of brain damage in people exposed to pesticides and
other environmental chemicals should be no surprise.8-10 Convincing
examples of this toxicity to the brain are seen in people who work with
toxic chemicals; for example, sheep farmers who were exposed to
organophosphate pesticides (in the course of dipping sheep to rid them
of infestations) performed significantly worse than non-exposed farmers
in tests to assess sustained attention and speed of information
Studies show that exposure to pesticides and insecticides causes
Parkinson's disease in humans by damaging the brain’s cells of
genetically susceptible people.12-15 An insecticide, dieldrin, is among
the most likely culprits.16 Patients with PD have a reduced capacity for
detoxification of these toxic compounds. Enzyme systems that metabolize
these brain-damaging chemicals are a result of genetic traits. The
concentrations of deldrin compounds in the substantia nigra were
significantly higher in PD tissues.14
Pesticides Bio-accumulate in Animals
The highest levels of pesticides are found in foods high on the food
chain—meaning animal foods. Estimates are that 89% to 99% of the
chemical intake into our body is from our food, and most of this is from
foods high on the food chain: meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy
products.18,19 Fish and other marine life are especially important
sources of brain-damaging chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs) and methylmercury (MeHg).20
The scenario looks like this: Low concentrations of environmental
chemicals are present in sea vegetables and in seawater. Fish consume
these poisons; concentrate them in their own body fat; cows eat
fishmeal, and concentrate these noxious wastes even more into their fat;
then chickens eat dead cow remnants and the toxins become packed further
into their flesh. Finally people get the strongest doses, as they are at
the top end of the food chain. Even worse are the consequences for
little people—the greatest concentrations of tissues damaging
contaminates are delivered to babies nursing from pollutant-overloaded
mothers. Understand that this accumulation is lifelong, and therefore,
what you do as a child may come to haunt you as an adult in the form of
birth defects for your children, cancer, and brain damage. Fortunately,
eating a clean diet prevents exposure and helps these chemicals to leave
A Starch-based Diet Helps People with Parkinson's Disease
Prevention of further progression of this form of neurologic
deterioration would be expected from removal of the dietary causes.21
However, once the brain tissue is lost it should not be expected to
regenerate. Prevention is key.
Dopamine production in the brain is reduced by poor food choices and
enhanced when the diet is high in carbohydrates (starches) and low in
animal proteins. Carbohydrate increases dopamine production in the brain
by allowing easier passage of the dopamine precursor, tyrosine, through
the blood-brain barrier into the fluids surrounding the nervous system
(the cerebrospinal fluids).22,23 Meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy foods
are high in heavy neutral amino acids that block the entry of the
dopamine precursor, tyrosine, into the brain.
One case report has suggested a low-animal-food diet is beneficial
for people who have already developed PD.24 A 75-year-old man with PD
for eight years changed to a quasi-vegan diet for two years. During this
time his PD did not appear to have advanced, his dosage of PD
medications (levadopa) did not increase, and his quality of life was
reported to have improved—an atypical course for this disease.
A healthy diet can also be expected to result in loss of excess body
fat, which will allow for improved mobility. People with PD often suffer
with constipation, which is relieved by dietary fiber found in plant
foods and by removal of dairy proteins, which paralyze the bowels.25
Consider the total picture: Someone with PD needs to be as healthy as
possible, and they especially need to avoid the problems, like obesity,
type-2 diabetes, vascular insufficiency, arthritis, and bowel
dysfunctions, known to be caused by the Western diet. You should not
expect the brain tissues that have been lost to grow back; nor lost
functions to return. Slowing or stopping progression of the PD is your
A Low-animal-protein, Starch-based Diet Improves the Effectiveness of
Dopamine deficiency is the hallmark feature in PD. Unfortunately,
dopamine in the brain cannot be replaced by taking a dopamine pill
because this natural chemical does not cross the blood-brain barrier to
replenish cerebrospinal fluid. The discovery in 1968 of an isomer of
dopamine, levodopa (L-dopa), was a major revolution in the management of
PD, which still lasts today. L-dopa readily crosses the blood-brain
barrier and then is converted into dopamine once it enters the nervous
system. The medication is so specific that a “levodopa challenge test”
can confirm a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. If a patient's symptoms
improve, then they are likely to have Parkinson's, ruling out other
L-dopa and dietary proteins use the same transportation system in the
intestine and the blood-brain barrier, competing for access to the blood
and cerebrospinal fluid.26 Therefore, a high protein diet, based on
meats, dairy products, eggs, and fish results in a competition that
reduces the effectiveness of the drug. Levodopa is often sold in
combination with another medication, carbidopa, which slows the
breakdown of levodopa. Examples include Sinemet, Parcopa, Atamet, and
Stalevo. The effectiveness of L-dopa tends to decrease after four to
five years of usage.
Patients are often advised to avoid protein (meat, poultry, fish and
eggs) during the day and limit these foods to the evening meal in order
to improve the effectiveness of their medication. However, eating these
animal foods at the evening meal means the patient cannot move all night
long— being able to turn over in bed, get up to use the bathroom, or
adjust their bedclothes. The incorrect belief that animal foods are the
only reliable source of “good” protein leads to this kind of
mismanagement of people with PD. The truth is a starch-based diet (low in
competing heavy neutral amino acids) provides all necessary proteins and
amino acids and should be the diet of people with (and without) PD
throughout each day and night.
Essential Tremors from Meat-Eating
Essential tremor (ET), a type of involuntary shaking with no known
cause, is among the most prevalent neurological diseases, affecting 4.0%
of individuals aged 40 years and older, and 6.3% of individuals 60 years
and older. The tremor is most commonly in the hands, but may affect the
head, eyelids, vocal cords, and any other muscles. Harmane is a potent,
tremor-producing beta-carboline alkaloid found in high concentrations in
muscle foods (beef, chicken and pork); cooking of these meats leads to
further increases in concentrations.27 Thus the amount of harmane in
cooked meat is a function of cooking temperature and time. Pan-frying
and grill/barbequing produce the highest concentrations. Elevated
harmane in the blood is also due in part to a hereditarily reduced
capacity to metabolize it into inactive substances.27 You should not
expect the brain tissues that have been lost to grow back; nor lost
functions to return. Slowing or stopping progression of the tremors is
your realistic goal.
Medications, such as beta-blockers (propranolol), tranquilizers (clonazepam)
and antiseizure drugs (primidone), are recommended for treatment, but
are of little benefit with significant side effects.
Detoxifying the Body with Starches
Eliminate foods high on the food chain (meats and dairy products)
from your diet and replace them with foods low on the food chain
(starches, vegetables, and fruits—preferably organically grown) in order
to clean your body. The human body has detoxification systems that have
evolved over 300 million years to protect animals from the natural
toxins found in plants. These same systems will also rid your body of
synthetic pollutants. These natural detoxifying compounds are found in
plants, and they are also potent inhibitors of chemically induced
cancer.28-31 In addition, the energy required for the detoxifying
processes is most effectively provided by clean-burning carbohydrates
found in plants (meat, fish, poultry and vegetable oils have no
carbohydrate and cheese has only miniscule amounts). Not surprisingly,
malnutrition from under- and over-nutrition (such as when people eat the
American diet) almost invariably leads to a reduced capacity to
deactivate these pollutants and therefore increases their toxicity.31
Losing weight on any “diet” releases stored pollutants as the body
fat is dissolved.32-34 This is good, especially when the diet you are
using to cause the weight loss is low in pollutants and full of
detoxifying substances. In no time at all consuming a healthy diet will
clean your body of brain-damaging chemicals and restore the tissues in
order to prevent PD and systemic damage.
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