Genius Life Podcast cover art for a conversation on Alzheimer's Disease

The Alzheimer’s Fraud That Derailed Research for Decades | The Genius Life Podcast with Max Lugavere and Matt Bilinsky #244

Check out the The Genius Life Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is a deadly neurological condition that affects +5 million people in the United States alone, and there are no meaningful treatments currently on the market
  • About 60% of the calories that the average American consumes comes from ultra-processed food products; there are very powerful forces working to mislead the public on food and health education
  • Ultra-processed foods are associated with early mortality and increased risk for dementia, and yet the popular Food Pyramid recommends 7-11 servings of grain per day, which tends to be ultra-processed and refined 
  • A 2022 meta-analysis revealed that there is no evidence to suggest that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain
  • People have been led to falsely believe that there is a 1:1 cause and effect relationship between having a chemical imbalance and depression
  • “People tend to want an easy fix; they want a magic pill. They want change, but they don’t want to change.” – Matt Bilinsky
  • Lifestyle modification in the areas of diet and exercise have shown to be powerful antidepressants, but making changes in these two areas is more difficult than taking a pill from the medicine cabinet 
  • The Amyloid Hypothesis suggests that excessive amounts of plaque build-up in the brain causes Alzheimer’s; however, new studies indicate that plaque build-up is not causal
  • In 2022, an investigation revealed that all of the data from the 2006 amyloid-beta study was fraudulent, and found that Amyloid-beta is a symptom, but not the cause of Alzheimer’s
  • Not only is the establishment increasingly wrong, but its reaction to anyone that questions it poses another threat to society 

Intro 

  • Matt Bilinsky (@mattbilinsky) is a technology, media, and business attorney for Weinberg Gonser Frost LLP, start-up advisor and investor, and host of the Prevailing Narrative podcast
  • In this conversation, Matt and Max discuss the Alzheimer’s fraud that derailed research for decades, the recently debunked chemical imbalance theory, the powerful forces responsible for misleading the public on health, and why it’s important to question the establishment
  • Check out these Podcast Notes if you want to learn more from the Genius Life podcast
  • Host – Max Lugavere (@maxlugavere) is a science journalist, author of a New York Times best-selling book, and host of the Genius Life podcast

Books, Articles, and Podcasts Mentioned 

Background Information on Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is a deadly neurological condition that affects +5 million people in the United States alone 
  • Historic data shows that Alzheimer’s cases have dramatically increased in recent years with no shows signs of slowing down 
  • There are currently no meaningful treatments on the market
  • Max believes the best way to treat Alzheimer’s is to prevent it 

Challenging the Scientific Consensus 

  • Most people consume refined grains, an ultra-processed product that was included in the foundational layer of the popular “Food Pyramid”, which suggested humans eat 7-11 servings of grain per day 
    • Ultra-processed foods are associated with early mortality and increased risk for dementia 

Source: NC Department of Agriculture

  • A recent study showed that 95% of the members of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee had conflicts of interest with companies like Kellogg’s, General Mills, etc.
    • According to the podcast hosts, trusting the science is not sound advice in the year 2022
  • About 60% of the calories that the average American consumes comes from ultra-processed food products 
  • There are very powerful forces working to mislead the public about food and health education 
  • Science is a method of asking questions, but the science-industrial complex doesn’t necessarily want to be questioned because of the business incentives 

Depression and The Debunked Chemical Imbalance Theory 

  • A 2022 meta analysis revealed that there is no evidence to suggest that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; a widely accepted notion of which decades of subsequent research, treatments, and products were based on 
  • There is no evidence (according to the current body of evidence) to suggest that depressed people have lower levels of serotonin than people who are not depressed
  • This review did not evaluate the efficacy of antidepressant drugs; SSRIs work for many people, and Bilinsky thinks those people should continue taking them (not medical advice)
  • Despite this study being widely shared, 80% of people still think depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain 

SSRIs

  • SSRIs boost serotonin at the synapse, and have been found to increase neuroplasticity,  and increase uptake in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
    • Their efficacy increases with the severity of the depression
  • But SSRIs tend to be overprescribed
    • 1 in 10 people are on SSRIs
    • 1 in 4 women over the age of 40 are on SSRIs 
  • Despair, unhappiness, and depression have existed since the beginning of time, but SSRIs and antidepressants have only been around for the last 40 years
  • People have been led to falsely believe that there is a 1:1 cause and effect of a chemical imbalance and depression, and SSRIs have been thought of as a 1:1 solution to resolving the imbalance, which is why the use of SSRIs has skyrocketed 

The Magic Pill 

  • “People tend to want an easy fix; they want a magic pill. They want change, but they don’t want to change.” – Matt Bilinsky  
  • Remission numbers increase when a depressed person changes their diet from an ultra-processed, junk-food diet to a more whole food, Mediterranean diet 
  • Exercise has been shown to help mildly and moderately depressed people 
  • Lifestyle modification in the areas of diet and exercise have shown to be powerful antidepressants, but making changes in these two areas is more difficult than taking a pill from the medicine cabinet 
  • Whereas in the past, human immune systems were activated to counter physical injury or harmful pathogenic exposure, today they are chronically activated at a low-grade level due to ultra-processed food diets, overly sedentary lifestyle, exposure to environmental toxicants, chronic stress, and low-quality sleep 
    • What if these dramatic changes to human experiences are contributing to some of the causes of depression for some people?

The Alzheimer’s Fraud 

  • The Amyloid Hypothesis suggests that excessive amounts of plaque buildup on the brain causes Alzheimer’s; however, new studies indicate that plaque build-up is not causal
  • While the plaque is highly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, it is not determined to be causal 
    • Large amounts of plaque are also often found on cadavers who did not have the disease  
  • Alzheimer’s drug research and treatment for the last 100 years were based on the Amyloid Hypothesis
  • $3 billion dollars per year went into making Amyloid-beta “the bad guy”
  • In 2022, an investigation revealed that all of the data from the 2006 amyloid-beta study was fraudulent 
    • Amyloid-beta was painted as the Alzheimer’s boogy-man, but we now know that amyloid-beta is not causal 
  • Amyloid-beta is a symptom; it is not the cause of Alzheimer’s 

The Establishment Continues to Take L’s 

  • Not only is the establishment increasingly wrong, but its reaction to anyone that questions it poses another threat to society 
  • The establishment should welcome counter-arguments and those that challenge its thinking; it should not condemn those who ask questions 
  • Scientists are flawed like the rest of us  
  • Society must develop critical thinking skills so it can better question the scientific establishment’s studies 
  • Scientific data is not the holy grail of truth; it is easily manipulated 
  • “Be evidence-based, but not evidence-bound.” – Max Lugavere
  • Healthy skepticism is more productive than conspiratorial dismissiveness  

Additional Notes 

  • Exercise increases levels of serotonin in the brain; strengthens synaptic strength; boosts neuroplasticity; increases cardiovascular health, which improves the delivery of oxygen, antioxidants, and energy to the brain 
  • SSRIs and antidepressants are hard to come off of, a reality that is rarely mentioned at the time of prescription  
  • Western medicine tends to just throw drugs at a problem; a given drug treatment is an option, but it is not always the only option 
  • In the 1960s, the Sugar Research Foundation paid scientists $50,000 each to effectively switch the blame on what causes heart disease from sugar to fat

 

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Notes By Stan Rizzo

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