How Agricultural Chemicals and Hospital Stays Contribute to Alzheimer’s

June 28, 2016 Updated: June 30, 2016
FONT BFONT SText size

It is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans in the next two decades, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes. At present, the disease afflicts about 5.4 million Americans.

One of the potential reasons for the skyrocketing increase in Alzheimer’s may be related to rising glyphosate residues in our food supply. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, used in ever-increasing amounts on genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Glyphosate is a potent mineral chelator, binding up minerals like zinc and manganese from being used by the plant, or anyone who eats the plant since it is impossible to wash off glyphosate as it becomes integrated into all the plant cells. Zinc deficiency in turn, is thought to contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

There is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s, and very few treatments. Alzheimer’s drugs are often of little to no benefit, which underscores the importance of prevention. Fortunately, there’s compelling research showing that your brain has great plasticity and capacity for regeneration, which you controlthrough your diet and lifestyle choices.

Avoiding gluten appears to be of critical importance, as is making sure you’re getting plenty of healthful fats (including demonized saturated fats). 

How Zinc Deficiency May Contribute to Alzheimer’s

photo-memory-grandma
Research suggests zinc deficiency can contribute to Alzheimer’s by promoting accumulation of clumps of defective proteins in your brain, which is one of the hallmarks of the disease (stock.tookapic.com/Pexels)

According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, zinc deficiency may play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s. The disease has already been linked to accumulation of clumps of defective proteins in your brain, and zinc, it turns out, is critical for preventing such accumulation. As reported by the featured article:

“With proteins, shape is everything. The correct shape allows some proteins to ferry atoms or molecules about a cell, others to provide essential cellular scaffolding or identify invading bacteria for attack. 

When proteins lose their shape due to high temperature or chemical damage, they stop working and can clump together – a hallmark of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

Even if the mineral is present in the plant, if it’s chelated with glyphosate, those minerals will not be physiologically available for your body to use.

The UW researchers have discovered another stress that decreases protein stability and causes clumping: a shortage of zinc, an essential metal nutrient. Zinc ions play a key role in creating and holding proteins in the correct shape.”

As mentioned earlier, modern agricultural chemicals may be a significant driver of this disease, as many herbicides and pesticides are potent chelators. In fact, glyphosate was initially patented as a mineral chelator.

Related Coverage
How Agricultural Chemicals and Hospital Stays Contribute to Alzheimer’sHealing Benefits of Zinc

Chelators immobilize nutrients, by binding them so they’re not physiologically available for your body. They do this by forming a barrier around specific nutrients, effectively preventing them from being utilized properly by either soil microbes, plants, animals or humans.

Even if the mineral is present in the plant, if it’s chelated with glyphosate, those minerals will not be physiologically available for your body to use.

This concept has been discussed at some depth by Dr. Don Huber, an award-winning, internationally recognized scientist and professor of plant pathology at Purdue University for the past 35 years. 

His agriculture research is focused on the epidemiology and control of soil-borne plant pathogens, with specific emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, and the physiology of host-parasite relationships.

Glyphosate in particular is a significant threat to health as it’s one of the most widely used herbicides in the world.

Glyphosate in particular is a significant threat to health as it’s one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. We are currently using about 880 million pounds—that’s nearly ONE BILLION pounds—of glyphosate annually on food crops grown worldwide.

GE plants in particular are being sprayed with ever increasing amounts of Roundup as weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to the herbicide. As a result, genetically engineered grains tend to have the highest levels of glyphosate residue. In one test, GE corn was found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GE corn.

According to Dr. Huber, the nutritional efficiency of genetically engineered (GE) plants is profoundly compromisedMicronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc can be reduced by as much as 80-90 percent in GE plants! Naturally, health effects are bound to occur if you’re consistently eating foods from which your body cannot extract critical nutrients and minerals.

ICU Stays Lead to Symptoms of Alzheimer’s in 1/3 of Patients

In related news, new research shows that a stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) frequently results in symptoms of dementia in patients that have no cognitive problems prior to being admitted. In many, cognitive problems were found to persist for more than a year after being discharged from the hospital. Incredibly, 75 percent of ICU patients experienced delirium and left the hospital with symptoms of cognitive problems; one in three exhibited symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Wes Ely, a professor of medicine and critical care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville told CBS News:

“We knew that something was going wrong with people’s brains when they were getting out of medical and surgical ICUs but we didn’t understand to what degree their brains were being disabled and then having to live with that throughout their life. So, we set out to define exactly what was going on with the survivors of critical care in terms of brain function.”

Healthy people in their 30s and 40s also developed cognitive problems after a stay in the ICU.

One major factor that appears to contribute to this is the administration of sedatives, which can increase your risk of delirium, and subsequent longer-term cognitive problems. Interestingly, this phenomenon is not restricted to the elderly. Healthy people in their 30s and 40s also developed cognitive problems after a stay in the ICU. As reported in the featured article:

“[Dr. Ely] thinks more needs to be done to keep patients in the ICU alert, awake and walking around if possible to reduce their odds of developing delirium. Exercising your brain with puzzles and games like Sudoku and Scrabble while in the ICU may also boost brain function. Monitoring how much patients sleep may also improve outcomes, since beepers, lights and staffers taking X-rays or blood tests may prevent someone in the ICU from getting adequate rest. 

In an accompanying editorial published in the same journal issue, researchers at the University of Toronto pointed out that not all patients had delirium, and some of the patients with cognitive problems at three months showed improvement by 12 months. Still, the study ‘unequivocally’ showed that cognitive impairments in these patients is a public health concern.”

General Anesthesia Could Increase Risk of Dementia in Elderly by 35 Percent

Related research suggests that being exposed to general anesthesia can increase the risk of dementia in the elderly by as much as 35 percent. The research was presented at this year’s annual congress of the European Society of Anesthesiology (ESA). As reported by Medical News Today:

“Postoperative cognitive dysfunction, or POCD, could be associated with dementia several years later. POCD is a common complication in elderly patients after major surgery. It has been proposed that there is an association between POCD and the development of dementia due to a common pathological mechanism through the amyloid β peptide. Several experimental studies suggest that some anesthetics could promote inflammation of neural tissues leading to POCD and/or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) precursors including β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.”

In this study, participants aged 65 and over were followed for a total of 10 years. Participants exposed to at least one general anesthetic over the follow-up had a 35 percent increased risk of developing a dementia compared to those who were not exposed to anesthesia. According to lead researcher Dr. Francois Sztark:

“These results are in favor of an increased risk for dementia several years after general anesthesia. Recognition of POCD is essential in the perioperative management of elderly patients. A long-term follow-up of these patients should be planned.”