Bruce Fife over at Faim.org did an excellent round-up of the dramatic rise of Alzheimer’s in the last 50 years. He says that before the 1960’s, Alzheimer’s disease was so rare that, scouring through old records, researches couldn’t even find it at all:
“I looked everywhere,” says Murray Waldman, MD an Alzheimer’s researcher from St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital, in Toronto, Canada. “I looked on three continents and in every medical library I could find, including the Library of Congress and the British Museum library.” Yet, there was little mention of the disease, indicating the rarity of the condition just a few decades ago. “I also looked at psychiatric literature and at the pathology literature, but no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find anything that indicated there was very much Alzheimer’s disease prior to the 1960s,” says Waldman.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that something about our diet and/or our environment has changed in the last 50 years to account for the rise. Fife’s assessment? Our obsession with low fat foods:
One of the biggest changes that has occurred is the shift from eating foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, to eating low-fat, and low-cholesterol foods. Since the 1970s we have been in a low-fat craze. Saturated fat and cholesterol have been purged from the diet. We’ve switched from eating whole foods rich in natural fats to low-fat and non-fat milks and cheeses, lean cuts of meat, yolkless egg whites, skinless chicken, low-fat this and no-cholesterol that.
So what can we do about it? Fife suggests we follow a trend that seems to be happening naturally all across the country: we need to get back to natural foods. Our experiment with “foodstuffs” and lab-generated food has failed. It’s time to return to eating real food, even if it means adding a little cholesterol here and there.
Go read the whole article. It’s fascinating.