An Iron-clad Memory – Think Again

But a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reports a disturbing link between consuming too much iron and Alzheimer’s disease, which is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and expected to move up the ranks with our aging population.

Although iron is necessary for normal development of both our brain and body, as we age it can accumulate in our brain where it combines with proteins, two of which, tau and beta-amyloid, have long been held as triggers for Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. George Bartzokis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles and the author of the study:  “The accumulation of amyloid is like gasoline, while excess iron is the flame. An excess of iron is destructive because it is a pro-oxidant metal, meaning it converts free radicals into highly reactive ones.” In a word “rust.”

Bartzokis believes we are over-ironing ourselves, ingesting much more than we need, which causes an excess in our brains, and that can eventually lead to Alzheimer’s. He notes excess iron can be prevented by lifestyle adjustments such as consuming less red meat, which is abundant in iron, and staying away from iron supplements. “If you look at any multivitamin, they all have iron included,” Bartzokis notes. “As if everyone is walking around with an iron deficiency.” 

The meat industry promotes beef as a good source of iron, which is true, but the irony is that too much red meat is unhealthy for you, and it not only because of iron. Eating red meat has been linked to cancer and heart disease, and it now appears Alzheimer’s can be added to the list. So do yourself, and the cattle, a favor. Stop eating red meat, lest you forget.
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