Seniors & Fake News

4 Foods That Could Increase Alzheimers Risk And Memory Loss is an eye catching, and you might want read more.

However….. this is pseudo news! Yes, memory problems are major factor in senior health. Yes, a good diet is helpful. NO research sponsored by the Alzheimer’s does paint the same picture as the article. I reviewed the research summaries of the projects the Alzheimer’s Foundation has funded. They mention a heart-healthy diet and recommend two; the Mediterranean and the D.A.S.H. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

Yes, the Foundation does connect heart health and diabetes prevention with Alzheimer’s prevention. However, they caution readers to remember that the disease is “complex of interactions among multiple factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions”. Some factors like one’s age or genetics cannot be changed. Some factors like diet and lifestyle can be modified. Contrast these statements with the statements in the article. There is no mention of other factors. It might mislead one to think that changing diet alone will prevent Alzheimer’s!

The article makes no mention of exercise and social engagement. Yet the Alzheimer’s foundation considers them equal factors. The Alzheimer’s website further explains that large studies show “associations” but these are not proof of cause and effect. Thus, research has found that people who follow a healthy diet, get regular exercise and are socially engaged are less likely to suffer memory losses than those who don’t. We don’t know the WHY yet. The article does not explain that diet is only one factor.

Finally, I entered each of the compounds mentioned in the article in the search window of the Alzheimer’s website: NADA! There was no mention of nitrites, Diacetyl, or Nitrosamines. The article mentions processed cheese, beer, processed (cured) meats and microwave pop corn. These are not on the list for the heart healthy or D.A.S.H diets recommended by Alzheimer’s research.

Pseudo news can be mis-leading.  People suffer.  Example; fake news articles can lead people to think that certain miracle cures will take away chronic health conditions.  Fake news has led lead people to do things that injure others and themselves.  Remember the man who took a gun to a pizza place because a fake news article reported that Hillary Clinton was running some nefarious operation out of the basement!  Fake news is mis-leading= leading in the wrong direction.  Everybody suffers. That man who stormed the pizza place now has a criminal record.  The pizza place now has a ruined reputation.  People got hurt. We all must protect ourselves from getting hurt by analyzing news stories on the internet.

Fake news is not new; it’s just packaged in a new format: the internet.  Real reporters, subscribe to certain rules such as interviewing witnesses and cross-checking stories.  A real reporter would have been required to go to the pizza place and check out the story BEFORE publication. That reporter would have to answer to the Editor and the newspaper company if anything went wrong. To what authority does an internet author answer? A reporter who created fake news would be fired.  Who “fires” an author on the internet?   The newspaper would be required to print corrections or retractions. What internet author do you know who has had to print a retraction?  Those rules are not yet part of internet reporting.

Trustworthy newspapers also subscribed to the rule; “All the news that’s fit to print” *.   Reporters do expose’s but these would be backed-up with research data; remember Watergate?  Even in the days of newspapers, there were those publications called “yellow journalism”.  The trustworthy newspaper standards were adopted by radio and television as they developed. Thus, the media present when your parents were growing up also tried to provide reliable information.  Unfortunately, the internet is so new that we have not yet developed a filter to separate the reliable from the unreliable.

We must all analyze what we read. We must all cross-check information with reliable sources. Some seniors may see the internet as just like a newspaper or radio. It is important to explain to them that the internet is different because no journalistic standards have been set yet.

*New York Times



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