Improving the ALS ice bucket challenge with food: How to really make a difference


Credit: Paolo Vescia

If you are dumping ice on your head and donating money in support of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALS Association), your acts are commendable. Consider this, however: we may all be contributing to the incidence of this disease without even knowing it.

You see, only 10% of all cases have a genetic basis; gene-environment interactions account for the rest (90%).  Researchers from a 2013 review hypothesized that pesticides were involved in the pathogenesis of ALS (1), and a recent meta-analysis, referenced in this review, found that ALS risk was associated with the use of organochlorine insecticides. These are some of the most nefarious chemicals present in our ecosystems. A few have been banned in the United States (DDT), though their effects are still lingering. Other organochlorine chemicals are still being used, not only in our food supply, but in our cosmetic products as well. Pesticides have also been linked to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (2, 3).

Dumping ice on our heads and donating money to the ALS Association are fine acts indeed. If we are then still consuming any food that is not grown organically and/or wild harvested, we are turning around and throwing money at an industry that may be contributing to the risk of ALS. Every single time we do not consume organically raised food, we are literally supporting an industry that is willingly poisoning our food supply, poisoning our ecosystems, poisoning every living organism, and ultimately – poisoning our future generations.

Eating organic and/or eating from the wild is not the right thing to do because it’s hip to do so, or because it’s trendy, or because it’s posh. It’s the right thing to do because our health absolutely depends on it. The health of every living organism depends on it. The health of anyone with ALS depends on it (Morahan et al. found that those with non-genetic ALS have an impaired ability to detoxify pesticides, 4).

Here’s a new challenge, and a more pertinent one at that: Eat organic, or better yet – eat from the wild.

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Thank you!
Adam Haritan


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