ong the path to Parkinson’s Disease
Michael J Fox has it, Muhammad Ali has it, Billy Connolly
has it and more than 100,000 Australians have it. About 30 new cases
of Parkinson’s disease are being diagnosed every day in this country.
If you want to avoid adding your name to that list there is one thing
you should do. Don’t eat seed oils.
James Parkinson, surgeon, geologist and palaeontologist first described what we now call Parkinson’s disease in his paper on shaking palsy in 1817. He was born on April 11, 1755, which is why April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day.
Dr Parkinson described a condition which caused involuntary tremors
when a limb is at rest, rigidity, slowness of movement and a propensity
to bend forwards and slow gait when walking. There was no known cause
We now know that Parkinson’s is caused by the death of cells in our pars compacta –the part of our brain which controls motor function (the Substantia nigra pars compacta
if you want to get all technical). That part of the brain is a central
switching room for movement, attention, learning and reward-seeking
(which makes sure we keep eating and having sex).
The pars compacta exerts its control using dopamine. When everything
is working well, our bodies are inhibited from moving by the part of our
brain which contains the pars compacta (the basal ganglia for
Latin freaks). When we decide to move something (our eyes or limbs
etc), the pars compacta squirts out dopamine to take the brakes off.
If the neurons responsible for producing the dopamine are damaged,
Parkinson’s disease is the result. Our brain is pretty durable, because
we lose around 50%
of our dopamine manufacturing neurons before there are any symptoms.
But once they are gone, these neurons are gone forever. As the numbers
decrease, a Parkinson’s sufferer has to exert greater and greater effort
to produce movement.
The only effective treatment is medication which can increase
dopamine production by squeezing a little more out of the remaining
neurons (we can’t just give dopamine as it isn’t able to cross the blood-brain barrier).
Obviously if the destruction of the neurons continues (as it does in
most) that is only a temporary solution. Before medication was
introduced in the 1970s a Parkinson’s patient was expected to live 9.5
years after diagnosis. The drug assisted life expectancy is now 15
Because the disease is the result of cumulative destruction, it is most prevalent in people over 50 but 20 per cent of cases are diagnosed between 20 and 50. Michael J Fox was diagnosed when he was just 30.
There are very few places in the world where accurate long term
statistics have been kept on the incidence of Parkinson’s disease, but
they have done just that in Olmstead County, Minnesota (pop: 100,000).
There, researchers have concluded
annual new cases almost doubled between 1944 and 1984 (using consistent
diagnostic rules). And like Type II Diabetes, other studies tell us
that Parkinson’s occurs much less frequently in populations not exposed
to a Western Diet (processed food).
The official position on the cause of Parkinson’s disease is that nobody has the slightest clue what causes the dopamine producing neurons to die.The official position on the cause of Parkinson’s disease is that nobody has the slightest clue what causes the dopamine producing neurons to die.
The only official risk factor is age. But I think some dots need
joining and when that is done the culprit becomes very clear.
We know that a diet high in seed oils
causes the levels of Omega-6 fats in our cell membranes to rise
rapidly. Those fats react quickly with oxygen and push the body into a
state of cascading cell damage called oxidative stress. We also know that a major product of the oxidation of omega-6 fats is something with the charming name of 4-Hydroxynonenal (I’ll just use its street name of 4-HNE). And we know that 4-HNE, whilst generally dangerous, is especially toxic to the neurons responsible for producing dopamine in our brain.
There, dots joined (it wasn’t that hard was it?). Eating seed oils
(or anything which contains large amounts of omega-6 fats) induces the
production of a molecule which we know kills the neurons we depend upon
for dopamine production. Kill enough of them and you have Parkinson’s
Thanks to the efforts of the processed food industry (aided and
abetted by the Heart Foundation), our diet is now completely saturated
with omega-6 fats. Everything in a package uses it. Every deep frier
uses it. Every baker
uses it. And every little bite of it is taking out the neurons you
depend on to keep you from the ravages of Parkinson’s disease.
Nothing I can say will restore the neurons you’ve already killed but I can stop you killing any more.
Don’t eat seed oils.