What is ALS?

First… Sherry’s Ice Bucket Challenge!

Now that you’ve all hopefully had a good laugh at Sherry’s expense…

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neuron disease, is a neurological condition that causes the nerve cells (neurons) that control the movement of a person’s muscles to die, so the muscles gradually weaken and begin to waste away.

Eventually this progresses to paralysis, respiratory failure and leads to death typically within three to five years after diagnosis.

It commonly occurs between the ages of 40 and 60, and affects men more often than women.

Although the prognosis associated with ALS is quite grim, promising research is being done that is not only helping to zero in on causes and contributing factors, but also ways that you can help either reduce your risk of developing this devastating condition, or even help slow the progression in those that have been diagnosed.

Here’s the scoop:

Possible culprits behind ALS

ALS used to be categorized as a “mystery” condition with “unknown causes” but that’s starting to change rapidly.

Studies are beginning to uncover the following culprits that may trigger or worsen the condition:

1-      Smoking

Smoking cigarettes has been shown to increase a person’s risk of ALS to almost twice that of a nonsmoker!

2-      Lead exposure

Some evidence suggests that repeated exposure to lead in the workplace may be associated with the development of ALS.

This is especially true of people who work with various types of lead pipes, road paving, newspapers, paints and ceramics.

3-      High glutamate levels

People with ALS typically have higher than normal levels of glutamate, an amino acid that’s used as a chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) in the brain.

At normal levels, glutamate is helpful, but in excess, it can trigger cell apoptosis (death)—in this case, death of nerve cells.

In addition to being seen at high levels in people with ALS, elevated glutamate is also seen in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, AIDS and cancer.

One of the most common sources of glutamate intake is the food additive/flavor enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate)—found not only in Chinese food but also chips, sauces, burgers, salad dressings, bouillon cubes and gravies.

Studies have suggested that too much MSG causes excessive brain cell excitation which can then lead to cell death.

4-      Autoimmunity

Although ALS has not been formally categorized as an autoimmune disease, inappropriate immune responses (i.e.: an immune system attacking healthy cells in the body) nonetheless are still suspected as playing a role in ALS.

5-      Aluminum exposure

Aluminum is particularly harmful to the nervous system—it binds to the brain and has been linked to the “plaques” found in Alzheimer’s patients.

Well, it’s now linked to ALS too.

A recent study has shown that injected aluminum (such as with vaccinations, especially flu shots) triggered ALS in male mice.  Links were also made to the development of autism and ASIA – Autoimmune (auto-inflammatory) Syndrome.

You can read the study abstract here on PubMed:

–          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23609067

What you can do

Clearly, avoiding suspected ALS triggers as much as possible is essential.

The biggest bangs for your buck here are:

  1.       Quit smoking

All you smokers out there, if you needed yet another reason to quit, I hope the possibility of developing ALS does it.

And don’t even start with your “it’s too late for me” excuses.  Because quitting smoking can eventually lower the increased risk of ALS (and save your health in countless other ways too).

If you need help, that’s OK—there are plenty of programs and smoking cessation aids to help you.  Just do it already.

  1.       Limit your lead exposure

If you work in an industry where you’re repeatedly exposed to lead, it may behoove you to explore ways to prevent extensive exposure.

Plus you can help by having a healthy diet and encouraging regular BMs so your body can better eliminate lead and other heavy metals (more on that below).

You can also ask your doctor to do a heavy metals test to see where your levels stand.

  1.       Avoid MSG

Become a careful label reader in the grocery store and if you see that a product contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), do not buy it.  There are plenty of alternatives.

And if you’re ordering Chinese food, simply ask that no MSG be added to your meal.

  1.       Reduce your aluminum exposure

Aluminum is found in cookware, antiperspirants, aluminum foil, food cans, antacids, baking powder, margarine and bleached white flour…so the more you can limit your exposure to those sources, the better.

Plus the possibility of ALS is yet another reason to rethink vaccination.  Please do your homework on this subject and educate yourself on everything that vaccines contain—especially flu shots, which are heavily marketed to the adult and senior populations (the ages at which ALS strikes).

You can also help reduce your risk of ALS (or possibly even help slow the progression) in these two ways:

1)      Have a healthy diet loaded with antioxidant- and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables

New research suggests that a diet full of antioxidant-rich, brightly-colored vegetables may play a role in preventing ALS.

Dr. Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and his team recently analyzed data from five long-running studies to see if food consumption had an impact on ALS development.

The researchers found that overall, people who took in high levels of carotenoids through their diets were less likely to have ALS than people who had diets low in the nutrients.

(Carotenoids are the antioxidant compounds that give fruits and vegetables their red, yellow, bright orange or deep green colors.)

Plus getting adequate fiber helps encourage more regular BMs, which can help your body eliminate any health-wrecking, ALS-inviting heavy metals you may have lurking inside of you.

Now, if all of this sounds like “boring rabbit food” to you, I’m happy to say that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Because the Great Taste No Pain


or if you’re gluten sensitive, Great Taste No Gluten


eating systems can show you ways to enjoy super healthy foods that are chock full of antioxidants and fiber, and taste positively fantastic, while encouraging better digestion and nutrient absorption.

2)      Increase your intake of Omega-3 essential fatty acids

Researchers recently examined 995 ALS cases and observed that consumption of foods high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids may help prevent or delay the onset of ALS.

Salmon, scallops, shrimp, cod, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines and halibut are all excellent sources of these fatty acids, but beware:  Avoid farm-raised fish at all cost.  Buy only fresh, wild caught varieties.  Farmed fished are loaded with contaminants.

Plant sources of Omega-3 EFAs include flaxseeds, walnuts, cauliflower, cabbage, romaine lettuce, spinach and strawberries.

And if you want to go the supplementation route, a fish oil formula like VitalMega-3 can be a big help.


VitalMega-3 provides an impressive 1,200 mg of Omega-3s in every daily two-capsule serving, including 600 mg of EPA and 400 mg of DHA–two of the very best Omega-3 EFAs for optimal brain functioning in the ratio and dosage recommended by many health experts.

Plus studies continue to show that fish oil can also help with other major health challenges—including high blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis!

ALS is a frightening condition with a very grim prognosis.

Ice bucket challenges like in my video above are great for raising awareness, but it doesn’t stop there, my friend.

You also need to take a long look at your risk factors and do whatever you can to help prevent ALS (and other chronic diseases too!) from striking at you.


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