Diet & Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Diet & Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
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A neurotoxin called BMAA that concentrates in seafood may help explain clusters of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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These data on BMAA neurotoxin concentrations in animals in South Florida waters indicate that the situation in Guam is not unique. Looks like BMAA could be found in high concentrations in aquatic animals in many areas of the world.

This could explain ALS clustering around lakes in New Hampshire: up to 25 times the expected rate of ALS with some families eating fish several times a week. Or in New Hampshire, where the most significant ALS risk factor was the past consumption of fish out of Lake Michigan. Or clustering in Finland’s Lakeland district, or maybe seafood eaters in France, or around the Baltic Sea, building up particularly in fish, mussels and oysters.

When I think of algae blooms, I think of the Chesapeake Bay near where I live, which gets choked off thanks in part to the poultry industry pollution. And indeed there was a recent report linking BMAA exposure to ALS in Maryland. The ALS victims living within a half mile of each other raised some eyebrows at the Hopkins ALS center, all of whom ate Chesapeake Bay blue crabs every week. And so they tested a few, and two out of three crabs tested positive for BMAA, indicating that the neurotoxin is present in the aquatic food chain of the Chesapeake Bay, and a potential route for human exposure.

To bring the story full circle, things in Guam are looking up. The ALS epidemic there may have been triggered by their acquisition of guns. But now, the epidemic appears to be over, thanks to near extinction of the fruit bats due to over-hunting. But while the rates decline in Guam, neurodegenerative diseases like ALS around the rest of the world are on the rise.

It’s plausible that humans have been exposed to some level of BMAA throughout their evolutionary history. But the increase in algae blooms as a result of human activities is probably increasing this exposure.

There is a general consensus that harmful algal blooms are increasing worldwide thanks in part to industrialized agriculture. More people means more sewage, fertilizer, and manure, which may mean more algae, which may mean more exposure to this neurotoxin, leading to a possible increased incidence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. BMAA is a strong contender as the cause of, or at least a major contributor to the cause, of both endemic and sporadic ALS and Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly conferring risk for Parkinson’s disease as well. The ramifications of this discovery are enormous.

With substantial and ever growing evidence that BMAA does play a role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, the most important question is, what mode of activity does BMAA exert? What? No it’s not. The most important question is how do we reduce our risk.

We know that the presence of BMAA in aquatic food chains could be a significant human health hazard. There may even be a synergistic toxicity between mercury and BMAA, making certain fish even riskier. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s and ALS, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

These data on BMAA neurotoxin concentrations in animals in South Florida waters indicate that the situation in Guam is not unique. Looks like BMAA could be found in high concentrations in aquatic animals in many areas of the world.

This could explain ALS clustering around lakes in New Hampshire: up to 25 times the expected rate of ALS with some families eating fish several times a week. Or in New Hampshire, where the most significant ALS risk factor was the past consumption of fish out of Lake Michigan. Or clustering in Finland’s Lakeland district, or maybe seafood eaters in France, or around the Baltic Sea, building up particularly in fish, mussels and oysters.

When I think of algae blooms, I think of the Chesapeake Bay near where I live, which gets choked off thanks in part to the poultry industry pollution. And indeed there was a recent report linking BMAA exposure to ALS in Maryland. The ALS victims living within a half mile of each other raised some eyebrows at the Hopkins ALS center, all of whom ate Chesapeake Bay blue crabs every week. And so they tested a few, and two out of three crabs tested positive for BMAA, indicating that the neurotoxin is present in the aquatic food chain of the Chesapeake Bay, and a potential route for human exposure.

To bring the story full circle, things in Guam are looking up. The ALS epidemic there may have been triggered by their acquisition of guns. But now, the epidemic appears to be over, thanks to near extinction of the fruit bats due to over-hunting. But while the rates decline in Guam, neurodegenerative diseases like ALS around the rest of the world are on the rise.

It’s plausible that humans have been exposed to some level of BMAA throughout their evolutionary history. But the increase in algae blooms as a result of human activities is probably increasing this exposure.

There is a general consensus that harmful algal blooms are increasing worldwide thanks in part to industrialized agriculture. More people means more sewage, fertilizer, and manure, which may mean more algae, which may mean more exposure to this neurotoxin, leading to a possible increased incidence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. BMAA is a strong contender as the cause of, or at least a major contributor to the cause, of both endemic and sporadic ALS and Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly conferring risk for Parkinson’s disease as well. The ramifications of this discovery are enormous.

With substantial and ever growing evidence that BMAA does play a role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, the most important question is, what mode of activity does BMAA exert? What? No it’s not. The most important question is how do we reduce our risk.

We know that the presence of BMAA in aquatic food chains could be a significant human health hazard. There may even be a synergistic toxicity between mercury and BMAA, making certain fish even riskier. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s and ALS, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

Most NutritionFacts.org videos can stand on their own, but to understand this one you have to see the prequel, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease): Fishing for Answers.

For other neurotoxins found in the food supply, see:

Other toxic substances can also build up in the aquatic food chain, for example:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

106 responses to “Diet & Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

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  1. Really interesting video Dr Greger… i hope this is be the case ’cause at least one could chose to minimize these kind of toxins exposure and maybe avoid such terrible disease as ALS.

  2. Every neurologist knows that ALS is one of the most terrible diseases – every clue in how to prevent or treat this disease is important. The incidence is 1-2: 100,000 / year, apparently growing – which clearly indicates that the environment plays a role. Average life span after diagnosis is 3 years. Riluzole (Glutamate Inhibitor) prolings life with 2-3 months.

    1. Good to see you still around! Interesting that the medication only prolongs life 2 to 3 months. I can only imagine the cost.

      1. Dr Dynamic, you are the best! I see disaster looming on the horizon. We know how people perceive dietary guidelines – They listen and choose what they can use. Government and many dietitians recommend the mediterranean diet – and what people remember from this advice is olive oil (empty calories – they get fat, vascular constriction after ingestion), poultry (you know the story……. :-) ) and lots of fish. People continue their poor diet, thinking that they are healthy if they pour olive oil on their 2 pieces of lettuce and canned tuna (with Mercury and apparently another neurotoxic substance – this must qualify as the worst food item -you risk ALS, polyneuropathia and brain damage….), what people dont get is that the healthy part of the mediterranean diet is the fruit, vegetables, beans and not the olive oil, meat, fish and cheese.

        1. Great point. The average person selectively takes in info that supports their world view and habits and reject or don’t hear that which conflicts with their beliefs/ideas/habits. The average brain and human doesn’t seem to like cognitive dissonance or the energy required to change..?

    2. Sorry but the incidence rate of 1-2:100,000 / year is way off now unless you are quoting ancient history. The most recent figures show MND / ALS has a prevalence of one in 14,000. The “incidence” of the disease – that is, new cases each year – is one in 42,000.

      http://www.sbs.com.au/news/health/thefeed/article/2016/10/03/bastard-disease-mia-0 (Quoted from that article which is a rearcher at specialist centre at Macquarie University in Australia).

      The problem is it is being touted and downplayed as a rarer disease than it really is. It is now being quoted as being just as common or more so than MS in multiple places. These are not just general people or sites, but specialists in their fields.

  3. I have to thank you profusely because I do not know how I would ever come across this important information if it weren’t for you. As always keep up the great work.

    1. Fats/Muscles being where toxins winds up is what Dr.John McDougall has been saying (presumably from all the research he’s gone through) for a while!

  4. Thanks so much for posting this, my mother died of ALS last year and my grandfather died of Alzheimer’s, so this is an area of strong personal interest for me! I’m already vegan but my family is not, so I’m especially curious what data exist on quantities of BMAA is different foods. I’m awaiting copies of a few journal articles I don’t have access to that should help, but I’d also be curious to see which types of fish are most risky. Have other studies come to similar conclusions as this one? http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/141106/srep06931/full/srep06931.html

    1. Hi Jon, Check Dr. Greger’s previous video on ALS (from yesterday) and go to about 5:39 and you can pause the video to see the two lists of BMAA content in various seafood (Florida results I believe). It demonstrates that bottom feeders, scavengers and top line predators concentrate the toxin most. My father was just diagnosed with ALS and I’m already 99% plant based, but this information is so good to know so I don’t get tempted to eat any seafood while on an upcoming seaside vacation!

    2. Hi Jon – I am vegan also and plan to stay that way, but i do know a lady that died from ALS that had been vegan for many, many years. I wonder if there has been a study on what causes ASL on people that do not eat sea food.

      1. My suspicion is that it is not that simple. BMAA is not the only excitotoxin/neurotoxin around. Our entire planet, and yes the entire food supply is inundated with corporate toxins and more, and these interact with genetics and genetic snps to produce a wide variety of diseases. Methylation plays a role as well. Check out Dr. Ben Lynch’s site over at http://mthfr.net

        Also check out Dr. Blaylock’s book on excitotoxins, “Excitotoxins, The Taste that kills”. MSG and other excitotoxins could also play a huge role in causing ALS. He talks a lot about ALS and all the neurological diseases in this book. He is a neurologist. He has some videos on Youtube as well.

      2. For ubiquitinated proteins to be admitted into and degraded by the proteasome, the body needs threonine — this is an essential amino acid (not produced by the body) that can be missing in a vegan diet. It is thus important to seek out sources of this amino acid (there are a few vegetarian sources but most people probably get their Threonine from meats).

        1. Melissa Schilling: Good news! The essential amino acid, theronine, is not only found easily in plant foods, but found in abundant amounts to meet our daily needs. For a list of the essential amino acids, their daily requirements, and proof of how a whole plant food diet has plenty of all the essential amino acids, scroll down on the following page until you see the bar graph: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

          In short, it is almost impossible for a healthy vegan diet (ie, a whole plant food diet involving all the food categories) to be missing any of the essential amino acids. No need to eat meat at all.

          1. Yet the countless studies show otherwise. If you go pure vegan without supplementations or foods that have it added in, you lack Vitamin B12 for one.

            Even the vegan author dedicates spots to this. http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/11/recommended-supplements-for-vegans/

            Either way you are arguing incorrect points. Studies have shown hot spots for ALS / MND are near Blue-Green Algae blooms yes, this is again created by pesticides, herbicides, etc etc. Run off causes this but also other things as Dr Gregor has stated already. But you are consuming these pesticides / herbicides on your food also. Unless you eat organic that is. BUT, even then a LOT of crop growers use irrigated water and this doesn’t need to be tested. So all that toxic water is now used to grow your foods and it is in the food supply you eat, organic or not.

            We REALLY need a huge wake up call and things to need to change and drastically fast. The ONLY way I can see avoiding this is (and I’m not sure if BMAA is filtered out by Reverse Osmosis) is growing your own along with using pure water from a source you know and trust.

    3. Hey Jon. If you post the studies you’re looking for I’ll do my best to find them and give you a link to view in full. Thanks for sharing that citation. If I see any others in addition to what Dr. Greger supplied I’ll surely post them. I see Joe has some good points about previous videos discussing sources of BMAA. One tip also is clicking “View Transcript” and you can read word for word everything Dr. Greger says in the video.

      1. Thank you! One I have not found yet is this one showing the relationship between microcystin, BMAA, and environmental nutrients (an important link to motivate action on nutrient runoff, if indeed the connection is strong): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010114001275
        (Scott 2014, in Toxicon)

        I think that one along with the Brand and Torbick papers Dr. Greger featured, and the Jiang paper on seafood in Swedish markets, give a pretty good overview (especially in concert with these videos).

        My mother didn’t eat much fish, and almost no crustaceans, but she did take an awful lot of food supplements and Chinese medicine, sometimes including spirulina and chlorella. I know that the lack of consistent testing of those products means it’s hard to get a sense of if there are any specific causes of her illness. No one else in the family has it so it’s unlikely to be the hereditary form, and in talking to the ALS society, hospice, etc., no one even had any guesses on a cause. Even if this only accounts for a portion of ALS cases, it would still be great to know, and hopefully lead to better standards for BMAA concentration in seafood.

    1. Golden algae used to make algae-based omega 3 supplements do not appear to contain BMAA. I think the omega-3 is made from crypthecodinium cohnii, which is an entirely different kingdom than the blue-green algae. I’ll update this information in my Ask the Dietitian section because this is a great question and so many are asking. Please check back in a few days.

      Thanks,
      Joseph

    2. BMAA is an amino acid, so it’s soluble in water but not in oils. I don’t see how alga DHAl supplements could contain BMAA, even if the source algae does, unless the extraction process is faulty and the oil is contaminated with the water layer.

  5. Mouse study

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/7/29
    A ketogenic diet as a potential novel therapeutic intervention in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

    This is the first study showing that diet, specifically a KD, alters the progression of the clinical and biological manifestations of the G93A SOD1 transgenic mouse model of ALS. These effects may be due to the ability of ketone bodies to promote ATP synthesis and bypass inhibition of complex I in the mitochondrial respiratory chain.

    1. Wow! I love you! Thank you so much for this information! I hate leaving a NF video thinking there is no hope whatsoever beyond just prevention for various diseases.

  6. I am taking an algae supplement for Omegas ( per Dr Greger’s advice a couple months ago) – should I stop since he said blue green algae was a source? How can I find out the BMAA risk?

    1. Not all algae are the same. The algae used to produce the EPA and DHA O-3 in the supplements are golden algae, not the blue-green algae that is responsible for the BMAA. In addition, it is the bio-accumulation of BMAA in animals that represents the danger. The example from the previous video where the natives of Guam were eating fruits containing BMAA, but that the amount of BMAA consumed was so low that the people would have to be eating literally a ton of the fruit to explain the high rates of ALS. It wasn’t until the amount of BMAA in the fruit bats the people also ate was determined to be equivalent to that in a ton of the fruit was it shown that they were indeed consuming enough BMAA to explain the prevalence of ALS.

      The take-away message is to not eat animals like fish and other aquatic animals that might be consuming large amounts of BMAA from their environment and concentrating them in their tissues.

    2. Golden algae used to make algae-based omega 3 supplements do not appear to contain BMAA. I think the omega-3 is made from crypthecodinium cohnii, which is an entirely different kingdom than the blue-green algae. I’ll update this information in my Ask the Dietitian section. Check back in a few days.

      Thanks,
      Joseph

  7. I live in a coastal town in New England, US, and am wondering if this is the same algae that seems to occur every summer known as “red tide”? One neighbor passed away from ALS, another from supranuclear palsy and another has Parkinsons. Would this be considered a cluster and I’m wondering if exposure alone, such as swimming, rather than ingesting seafood, can lead to these illnesses?

    1. “In New England, red tides are caused by population spikes of the alga Alexandrium fundyense.” This algae concentrates in shellfish but you can still swim in it. http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/red-tide-coming-to-new-england-130326.htm On the other hand, probably not a good idea to swim in cyanobacteria infested water. “Recreational exposure to toxic cyanobacterial blooms via direct skin contact, inhalation, or inadvertent ingestion of water can cause rashes, allergies, and gastrointestinal problems for people working or recreating on the water.” https://www.whoi.edu/redtide/impacts/freshwater/cyanobacteria

      1. Note the algae responsible for red tides in the Gulf of Mexico, Karenia brevis, exerts adverse effects even in those who don’t enter the water 1, 2.

        Hypochondriacs should probably not peruse the journal Harmful Algae. As for myself, its just another reminder of our troubled love-hate relationship with single-celled organisms.

  8. Do you know how long it would take for these neurotoxins to clear the body? Months? Years? Never? I have stopped eating fish, but if I did in years past, could that still affect me? Also, can the effects be reversed? If someone has early stage ALS or Alzheimer’s, could changing their diet have a positive effect?

    1. That is something I would like to know too. Since several factors play a role, go vegan and live healthy and hope that over time you can reduce your amount inside your body and that with the limiting of most other triggers you can remain symptom free even if you always have some bmaa in you.

  9. Re. “what mode of activity does BMAA exert ?”; come on Dr. Greger, that’s obviously the most important question re. generating profits re neurodegeneration if you know what I mean…

    A question I had was that I guess the moral of the story here is the bio-amplification of the toxins via fruit bats, marine life… so for the people that take blue green algae as a supplement, is the dose insignificant ?

    1. Dr. G reports the latest science results. You should address you plea to the scientists,no? I had no idea algae contained BMAA. Now you and I both have been warned. Pure gold.

      Gold for me at least because when we dine out I always have the urge to indulge in a big feed of seafood…but now i’ll hear the waiter asking me, “Good choice,Sir. Our seafood is served with lashings of BMAA and methylmercury too.”

      1. Sure, and appreciate those reports I do ! (my snarky comment re. mode of activity was aimed at our favorite industry). Re. blue green algae as a supplement, I just didn’t remember if there were any specific numbers reported in those studies re. amount of BMAA that presents a clear danger. Maybe I’ll check as I have friends who swear by blue green algae and that’s a concern if they’re putting themselves at risk…

        1. Yeah, I too despise the industrial-politico-food complex…

          The association is there, at this point in time it is up to you to decide if or at what dose BMAA is causative. I suggest that you read the wiki page. For me, the case is strong enough. No BMAA is best

      2. Though the occasions I dine out are rare, a few times a year, those are the “special” occasions I often chose seafood too, just because it is really the only thing I miss. I’m with ya!

  10. If BMAA gets incorporated into and then transforms a protein into a virulent prion-like form that attacks nerve tissue that could explain the irreversible nature of ALS. Virulent prions act as templates that convert endogenous harmless forms into the disease causing agents.

    I wish we could see data on other factors (Aluminum…others?) cross referenced to BMAA in ALS victims. Perhaps 1 in 100000 have a “perfect storm” of factors that work together to trigger the disease. My friend worked at a lumber yard on the tanalizing process at a time when safety masks were considered wimpy. So at an early age he was exposed to arsenic, chromium and who knows what. We always wondered if that was his “trigger”.

      1. Simulation of internal processes would be amazing; I’m not sure where that lies between sci-fi and sci-possible today. More mundane and perhaps similarly beneficial: If all papers published their data under open licences (or public domain/CC0) then we’d be able to crunch the external variables. There are many studies with thousands of participants over sometimes dozens of years. If we simply collected and published the raw data we could mine out all the nuances.

        1. http://community.isbe.eu/sites/default/files/event-files/wffposternudtconf-v7booklet_sr.pdf
          Seems the Chinese are jumping on it, good!

          Last I read was a U.K. supercomputer simulating the metabolism of 1 yeast cell from split to split,
          which took ‘m a full day or even two I can’t remember.
          The problem in biology is the noise, it is so loud that only sledgehammer impacts can be detected as having any effect at all,
          it makes the worst astrophysics dilemmas look like a leisurely walk in the park.
          Anyway, keep your eyes open for metabolism modeling, it is going to bring us the future Bones mcCoy’s

      2. Ethicist Peter Singer’s book “The Life You Can Save” talks a great deal about how we tend to donate to causes that impact very few people when we could save millions of lives if we were to direct those funds to eradicating world hunger and poverty. Singer’s writing on this topic and many others (including seminal work on our abuses of animals) is courageous because it’s uncomfortable for many people to be so frank. In an ideal world there would be plenty of funding for ALS along with eliminating poverty. We would all give generously to causes that speak to us and all of the issues would be resolved. But unfortunately some organizations have hired marketing firms that very effectively scoop up a disproportionate share of donor dollars . . . My personal practice is to continue to reduce my consumption so I can contribute more to causes i care about and especially ones that focus on people and animals in dire need.

  11. What seafood contains most of that BMAA? What about fish oil That everyone is consuming these daysis there a risk there it would seem that it would be very high risk? Thank you

  12. Yes, disease-causing algal blooms are a bummer. I wonder what other bummers await as our oceans continue to die.

    What will life be like when traditionally “healthy” foods poison you and cause debilitating or even fatal disease? Well you don’t have to wonder…it’s increasingly happening now. We’ve already poisoned our oceans and now we’re working on our land.

    I’m afraid it’s game over when we can no longer count on the soil to provide uncontaminated food, and we’re moving quickly in that direction. What will life be like when it’s not “just” “seafood” that’s linked to disease but “California produce”…or Iowa corn…or Louisiana rice…or Indiana soybeans?

    1. I agree with everything you’ve said…and yet hearing it from another is so sad. There just has to be a way to circumvent the consequences of being human. We are indeed like the yeast in my wort carboy. Just as the yeast have no choice but to grow as fast as they can for as long as they can, so goes humanity. Yet I do have hope. I guess you could say I am pro choice. The problem is how do we agree on what the right choices are? The UN says we are going to level out at 10 billions…and they seem happy with that. I think we are way overloaded at 8. but who am i? just a crusty old beetle living under the sofa. I eat BMAA for tea…so party on Humanity…my turn awaits

      1. We do have a choice but we choose consumption and cheap goods over our long-term health. From a public policy perspective, we could internalize the externalities by assigning a price to pollution or climate change and other damages we do. As the price of harming our environment rises we would do less of it. We could also sue companies to fix the damage they do. Both of these things require a collective action, and that requires the will to do it. That requires political leadership, and red state politicians where much of the damage occurs accept billions in donations from chemical companies, decry “job-killing legislation” and the EPA, and convince their low information voters that their jobs depend on inaction. These problems of course will all get worse as we further degrade our environment and global (and local) poverty pressures many to support “jobs” over the environment.

        Sure we could solve the problem, but I doubt we will. The time to act on climate change for any chance to avoid massive problems in the future was a decade ago. Deniers said it was “too expensive” to act now…which is absurd and sad in light of how much humanity will ultimately “pay” for inaction. We will continue to not want to pay anything, instead pushing that off to future generations, and I think that will be our undoing.

        The solution is collective action via political will and education, or collective action via grassroots pressure founded on a base of education…but how optimistic are you that this will happen before the damage is on our doorstep, which means that it has already been done, which means we get to watch this huge ship run aground and degrade for the next 100 years no matter what we do once we get to that point.

        1. I’ve worked hard to build a wall around my family. The wall is all that stands between us and much of the horror. The wall is made of money but there is never enough. I always keep working to make the wall stronger. But if you are right it will all come to naught.

          The country I live in makes its money by exporting food. The politics here are geared toward massive farms, open trade and new markets. Those markets want our diary, meat, fruit and wine in that order. We have a lot of talk about preserving the environment just a long as that does not get in the way of putting more cows and sheep into pasture along with all the chemicals and runoff associated with that. We watch our lakes dying and wring our hands.

          Maybe someday my dream of a smart, benevolent machine to rule us all will come true. Not to rule really, but to make rational decisions leaving out the emotions and mythologies that we’ve brought with us from “the Garden”. What would happen if the revolution was based on logic and reason? I’ll never see it. I’ve got to keep buttering these bricks.

        2. The IGC (Intergalactic Council) has made the determination that humans will NOT be allowed outside their current solar system. Very likely things will reach a point where human “civilization” will fail and populations will fall…long before there is any danger of the disease escaping. But we are watching you. Do not try to leave the solar system.

        3. The IGC (Intergalactic Council) has made the determination that humans will NOT be allowed outside their current solar system. Very likely things will reach a point where human “civilization” will fail and populations will fall…long before there is any danger of the disease escaping. But we are watching you. Do not try to leave the solar system.

    2. Amen, UCBAlum. I also read your post below. If you want to know how hard it is to go against the corporations and their PR men who control congress, read “Trust Us, We’re Experts” Mind blowing book. I knew it was bad but when I read that book, I was blown away. Not that we should not try. The end of the book makes that point. But the earth and the food supply is already sooo contaminated, one has to wonder if we are going to make it as a species.

  13. It would be helpful to note up front what the letters BMAA stands for in the first place. I also wondered about the reference to guns and bats in relation to this particular neurotoxin? How do
    these things effect the food supply?

    1. beta-methylamino alanine. It competes for glutamate binding sites in the brain and substitutes for serine during protein synthesis. The wiki page shows the structure and gives a long list of ref.s very interesting. We could learn a lot from this molecule.

      the advent of guns facilitated the killing of bats for food. Up to the point where the bat numbers were reduced to the point where they no longer made a significant impact on diet.

  14. Do any of the available studies look at BMAA ingestion from consumption of freshwater? Particularly, are there studies of ALS population clusters that consume relatively low amounts of seafood and/or freshwater organisms, but regularly consume potable water from freshwater sources that are frequently impacted by cyanobacteria? Thank you.

  15. Has anyone searched for Lou’s favorite food? We did….Lou’s favorite food was “pickled eels.” Coincidence?….Maybe not so much!

  16. I do miss seafood from time to time but all the lovely details from this research is enough to put you off seafood for ever.
    But how could we actually be sure that there are no such contamination caused by bacteria in plant food?
    eg. through the soil and irrigation system?

    1. Good question I think it depends on the type. I wrote about this in a post on my Ask the Dietitian Page. More info on seaweed: blue-green algae href=”http://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-hepatitis-c-with-chlorella/” target=”_blank”>chlorella. Let me know if any of this information helps? Thanks, Carolyne.

      Joseph

  17. ALS, is anyone looking at the neurotoxins used in vaccines which are 100% retained in the body, such as MSG, Aluminum, Mercury, Formaldehyde? What about the inflammatory effect of foreign DNA in vaccine cultures on the brain. 1% of aluminum eaten is absorbed. 100% injected into muscle, like with a vaccine, is absorbed and retained. Aluminum is highly reactive and heads right for the brain, just like mercury…..and it’s accumulative. Lead and Aluminum make mercury much more toxic.
    99% of American children have been injected with 5 mg of aluminum by the time they are 18 months old with the current US vaccine schedule. Add GMO/round up, environmental toxins, Junk food, unrecognized and untreated parasite infections, etc. Just thinking….

  18. Interesting video Dr. Greger. Speaking of neurotoxins, do you know if there’s any truth that eating cherimoyas and related fruits such as soursop and pawpaws put you at high risk of developing parkinson’s like dementia due to a neurotoxin called annonecin? I recently discovered cherimoyas at my local asian market at a reasonable price and had been eating them by the bagful until I read something online while looking up the fruit. They are my favorite fruit, and I really miss eating them. I was wondering if you knew of the potential risks or benefits of consuming this family of fruits. I see many websites touting their health benefits and anti-cancer properties with no mention of neurological harm. Your thoughts? I eat plant based largely to prevent disease and wouldn’t want to unknowingly be putting myself at greater risk. This would make for a great video!

    1. Hi kerrshaw. I’ll admit I don’t know much about pawpaw fruit. The studies are mixed, but one stood out based on what you mentioned. You can read the abstract here it’s quite interesting.

  19. what can i do or what can i say without Doctor momodu? he is the alpha and omega of my life, he brought me back to life with his herbal mixture when no one could cure my ALS, Dr momodu cured my ALS that i suffered for 8years, in fact i am short of words, i am so happy that i am alive to share this testimony. please contact this great Dr through his email address: dr.momoduherbalcure@gmail.com , his herbal mixture can also cure HIV,CANCER, AND HERPES. he is genuine and God fearing, i love him for his sincerity.
    Lucy Reekado

  20. Thanks Dr Gregor and your team for awesome work! Not sure if this question is directly related to this video but wasn’t quite sure where to post it!
    I have currently been on a Whole Foods plant based diet for a year and a half. I recently went on a trip with my husband to Florida for his job. While there I had two pieces of sushi that contained cooked seafood and the next morning showed signs of Bell’s Palsy. I do have a history of Bell’s Palsy, starting at the age of 9. Infact this is my 4th time. Every other time I had it was believed to be caused by extreme stress. I do believe my immune system was down with not getting enough sleep and having alcohol in a bit of excess compared to my normal routine (maybe a 3-4 beverages a month). I don’t know if this is simply coincidence or if due to my extremely clean diet this could have been the onset of this virus. I’m currently on prednisone and antiviral medicine to help bring back the movement in my face. Prednisone is what they have given me in the past. Thanks for any information you can give me!

    1. Hi Jackiej78,

      I am a volunteer moderator for Dr. Greger and am happy to help. Bells palsy is an inflammatory condition that can be triggered by multiple factors- some of which you mentioned- alcohol, stress, or a lowered immune system. Many of these factors use up more B vitamins in the body which can re-trigger the inflammation of the nerve. There is no research that I am aware of that states that a clean diet in it of itself can cause an outbreak . Unless , of course, the clean diet is low in some b vitamins. I hope this helps.
      -Dr. Laura Belus, ND
      Volunteer moderator, Nutritionfacts.org

  21. As a vegan I do not consume fish and seafood but I do consume algae in products like vegan sushi, agar powder and the “follow your heart vegan egg”. Does it matter?

  22. Is there a risk of the neurotoxin BMAA being in Omega 3 fish oil suppliments that are sold over the counter and often recommended by physicians? I read that EPA and DHA are found in different kinds of fish and seafood and that there is a connection with BMAA and diseases like ALS and Alzhiemers so I’m just curious if these kind of Omega 3 Suppliments are safe from BMAA.
    I follow you on Twitter and Instagram and bought 3 of your books, “How Not to Die” and gave both my 2 sons a copy.
    Thanks so much for your time.

  23. My father was stationed in Guam during WWII. He died at 40 years old from ALS. Could there be any link from him picking up ALS toxins while serving during the war with the US Air Force in Guam and eating a heavy fish diet while on Guam??

  24. Hi all, I am a 56 year old female and was diagnosed with bulbar onset ALS two months ago. I want to eat the optimal diet but am unsure what would be best. The neurologists and nutritionists at my ALS Clinic say it doesn’t matter what I eat, just eat and keep my weight up. That doesn’t seem right – I have to think the correct diet is critical! A naturopathic doctor has recommended I do Ketogenic, and the mouse research supports that. But since fish and seafood are suspect, I am thinking I should not consume them. Then I wonder if a vegan diet might be better than ketogenic, since animal products are so unhealthy for other health conditions. Obviously going ketogenic versus vegan are two very different roads to travel. How can I best make a decision? Where can I find the latest information? There should be a research study with ALS patients trying the effectiveness of different diets.

    1. Thanks for your question Liisa,

      I must warn you about naturopathic doctors, while I have nothing against them, they do not have the expertise or at least are not accredited to deal with such matters of health. As you can tell from this video, fish consumption is not a good idea.

      A ketogenic diet is not recommended at all, not only because of the fact that it usually encourages an increased consumption of animal products but a recent review also stated that “As KD are often rich in fats, some negative effects could happen. Mainly in rodents, developments of NAFLD and insulin resistance were described. In humans, insulin resistance is also a potential negative effect”

      A word form Dr Garth Davis, but on a different context to ALS:

      “Ketogenic diets and fat adaptation involves depletion of carbohydrate stores(glycogen). In this emergency situation, the body will switch to using a fat breakdown product as energy.

      These diets work only if you are actually in ketosis. Part of the weight loss is water weight, because glycogen is stored with water, and ketones have a diuretic effect. Part of the weight loss comes from the lack of hunger (nausea) that comes from being in ketosis.

      Now, understand that if you are in ketosis and you eat bacon, there is little insulin and little drive to store the fat since the body thinks it needs the energy now. Stress hormones are actually high during ketosis so the fat is converted to ketones which is the new currency for energy.

      However, if you are just eating bacon as part of a regular diet you are in serious trouble. The fat will be immediately absorbed into the body fat and stored. The body will still put a premium on using glycogen and while some fat will be utilized, most will become body fat. There have been many good studies using radioactive markers showing fats rapid travel from gut to your body fat.

      Also understand that, while you can lose weight in ketosis, the bacon is still loaded with heterocyclic amines, N-nitroso compounds, heme iron, thermoresistant viruses, AGE’s, will increase IGF1 etc. So while you may be losing weight, you are taking in serious carcinogens. And, while the lipid numbers can improve (conflicting data), you are still getting the inflammation you get from fat and the vasodilation difficulties. You also are missing out on serious amounts of phytonutrients and fiber.

      There is also the argument that low carb diets cure diabetes. The blood sugars obviously drop, you are not eating any carbs. BUT the diabetes has not gone away. Insulin resistance is still present and may be worse if there has not been good weight loss. So it is more of a band aid, not a cure. Because diabetes is really a problem of fat in the muscle cells causing insulin resistance.

      While there are many studies on low carb diet benefits, none show actual end organ benefit, like reversal of heart disease, prevention or reversal of cancer, actual cure of diabetes.

      That being said, low carb diets are an effective weight loss tool. It is very important to understand that it is effective due to a complex physiologic process, which means that if you eat bacon and you are not fat adapted, you cannot expect anywhere near the same results.”

      Hope this answer helps.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply!

        I have always eaten a healthy diet of whole grains, locally and humanely raised meats, organic fruits and vegetables and some dairy. No processed foods, very little sugar.
        I cannot grasp the concept of a ketogenic diet – vast amounts of meat – being good for me! And the NP actually said I could eat bacon and fish!
        This just doesn’t ring true.

        I appreciate your comment.

    2. Liisa, I was recently diagnosed with ALS in September of 2017. I am a 69 year old female and my neurologist guesses that have had ALS about a year before diagnosis. I too am searching for a healthy diet, but I am starting to use a feeding tube for part of my nutrition. See my question below. Pam

  25. I am curious about any studies showing the ability of the body to clear BMAA over time? In other words, if one has had a lifetime of exposure (presumably through seafood consumption), develops ALS (or not) and stops being exposed to BMAA by removing the offending foods from their diet (seafood or fruit bats), can the body clear of this toxin? Are there foods that might help this process? Thanks!

  26. Hello, Devin,

    once in brain, it is trapped in proteins, forming a reservoir for slow release over time. But I wasn’t able to find it’s exact half-life or how long does it take to get rid of it. There isn’t any food known to help this process.

    Moderator Adam P.

  27. I was diagnosed with ALS last year. I have never in my life been a fish eater. My biggest question is how to nourish myself via my new PEG tube. My dietitian has given me Jevity 1.5. Curiously, the label does not give grams of sugar, so I wrote to Abbott to inquire. And I found out why it’s not on the label. There are 51 grams of sugar per 8 oz. serving and there is casein in it. One formula I looked at had carrageenan in it. The formulas that were organic and made of whole foods where $12.50 a meal. It seems hopeless to try and find a reasonably priced, organic, nutrient rich formula. If anyone has an idea for this problem, please respond,

  28. Pammy8,,

    Glad you choose to be an informed consumer….. A similar experience by others has lead to the creation of alternative products that are tons better.

    Please considered the products from: , Functional formularies, their Liquid Hope product , or the higher level of sugar products from Katefarms or have you looked at the offerings (veggies preferentially) at Real Food Blends

    A number of these are covered by your insurance and certainly are of a much higher nutritional level vs the commercial fare. For an article on others finding high sugar unacceptable see: sick-patients-are-pumped-full-feed-tube-formula-corn-syrup-

    Please see the work on glutathione IV therapy, and have a functional workup. I’ve worked with ALS patients and have seen both substantially increased functionality and longevity in my patient population using a number of methods, always coupled with proper nutrition.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

  29. I agree . I was diagnosed in 2013 before that time I ate seafood several times a week . Living in Louisiana it’s common to eat a lot of seafood .

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