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Let’s get ill, let’s make money

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We saw a meme the other day that tickled the collective WDDTY funny bone. A doctor is saying to his patient: “After years of an unhealthy lifestyle, I’m afraid you’ve developed this chronic condition.” 

“Oh dear,” responds the patient, “should I change my lifestyle?” 

“Don’t be silly,” the doctor replies, “we have a pill for you.”

And that, in short, is how most of us live. Big Food dishes up processed glob that makes us malnourished and, eventually, sick, at which point Big Pharma steps in to maintain our sickness. And the largesse of both industries ensures that politicians are supportive, barely raising a finger to protect the citizenry.

We’ve come to a pretty pass, or if you’re in a Wordsworthian mood today (and why not?) it’s a sordid boon. One of our greatest inventions is money, along with the concept of debt, so that things can get built even when there’s no money to pay for it. (See: every government in the history of mankind, and especially today’s crowd.) 

With money and debt, we were able to invent, develop, build and trade. It was the rocket fuel that launched modern civilization, for good or ill. 

But along the way, we forgot something. We forgot that money and debt are our inventions, and because we forgot this, we made them preeminent over people and our environment. We came a poor second to our own invention, and so people were sometimes killed for it, or for their land and resources that would generate even more money. Our environment has been despoiled for it.

Today, Big Food is one of the world’s greatest proponents of the money-before-people approach. Their high-sugar processed foods and drinks are the single greatest cause of our chronic disease epidemic, and the more we research, the more we discover that most everything eventually leads back to a bad diet. 

The latest to join the roll call is Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists in Australia have discovered that the beta-amyloid plaques that form in the brain—and which are characteristic of the disease—play a critical role in our cognitive decline. For years, scientists had assumed the plaques were merely byproducts of a deeper process, but it seems they are the major culprits after all.1

The plaques are made up of toxic proteins that make their way through the blood-brain barrier by harnessing fat molecules known as lipoproteins. That’s the first revelation. Many doctors still hold to the belief that the barrier can’t be breached, but Dr Jeffrey Bland—a pioneer of functional medicine—discovered that it could be, and often is, in research he carried out in the 1980s.

‘Alternative’ doctors since then have also seen toxins enter the brain, and they have postulated that the phenomenon could be the cause of many neurological problems, even including chronic fatigue/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

The Australians’ discovery is breakthrough stuff. If we now understand the origin and development of Alzheimer’s, we can finally do something about it. And these wonderful discoveries happen because pharmaceutical companies are collaborating with researchers to fund the work, the study authors gasped.

The next step (of course) will be the creation of a pill that somehow stops the buildup of the toxins or blocks the next phase of the process when they enter the brain.

But there was another discovery they made, and it didn’t get mentioned in the triumphant messaging that followed. The researchers discovered it was a buildup of the toxins in the liver—as would result from a diet of high-sugar, processed food—that eventually led to dementia symptoms. This confirms a large but far less publicized body of research showing that a bad diet is a major factor in the development of Alzheimer’s.

With this revelation, you might have expected the researchers to have urged people to adopt healthy eating and asked governments and health agencies to shout it from the rooftops. But no, instead they revealed that the work with their benefactors goes on, and the next stage will be a pharmaceutical drug.

It’s an absurdity. If you pump diesel into a gasoline-powered car, you’ll wreck the engine, and that’s what is happening to us. The vast majority of people living in the West are malnourished; in other words, they aren’t feeding their body with the essential nutrients it needs to function healthily. When it doesn’t, it’s called chronic disease.

But the answer isn’t a pill, not even for profit.




PLoS Biol, 2021; 19: e3001358

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Article Topics: medicine
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