Sunday, July 31, 2011

Time to Take Your Diet Bat-Free

Finally some good news for those searching for ways to avoid Parkinson's Disease that are simple, within our control and do not involve forced exercise. It's time to take your diet bat-free. Viartis Parkinson's News reports that the incidence of Parkinson's Disease in the Chamarro people of the Marianas Islands correlates with the consumption of fruit bats. The islanders enjoy the bats as a delicacy on special occasions the way North Americans might eat turkey. (I know what you're thinking, but have you ever looked at a turkey? They are at least as ugly as a fruit bat.)

According to Viartis "It is thought that the Chamorro people develop the symptoms by eating a species of Flying Fox called the Mariana Fruit Bat. The Mariana Fruit Bats consume large quantities of neurotoxic cycad seeds. As the number of Mariana Fruit Bats has declined so has the illness. Eating these bats is a centuries old tradition amongst the Chamorro people."

Having warned us not to eat the leathery-winged little fly-by-nights, the article helpfully goes on to give tips on how they are prepared. "Served at weddings, fiestas, and birthdays, the etiquette of bat-eating and preparation involves rinsing off the outside of the animal like you would a cucumber and then tossing it into boiling water. The bats are then served whole in coconut milk and are consumed in their entirety."

One can only imagine how bad the situation would be if these creatures were a staple of the American diet. With our propensity for super-sizing and mass merchandising it would only be a matter of time before you could pick up a Bucket-o-Bats from KFB (the Colonel's secret recipe) or maybe some extra-spicy Buffalo Bat Wings to chow down on while watching the big game. Parkinson's Disease would be an epic epidemic and the bats would be even more endangered than they are now.

The bat-free diet. Avoid PD and be green at the same time. What's not to like?


ECleary78 said...

Too funny! This just proves my belief that PD is caused by consant intake of neurotoxins that we are unaware of. Like sun exposure this is something that makes an impact over a long period of time and causes the sydrome of Parkinson's only in those who are genetically susceptible.

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

In broad strokes, I believe this is true. But I have learned that Parkinson's Disease has more layers than we can easily perceive. Given the chance over time, medicine will surely unravel this knot made of knots, and Parkinson's will be eradicated. But if it were easy, it would have been figured out by now.



Debra Stang said...

Ick! I guarantee that if I ever develop Parkinson's, it won't be from eating any kind of bat.

I did just find an interesting study, though, that highlighted a correlation between Parkinson's and certain types of sleep disturbance.

I wonder what's going on with that and if there might be some implications for research or even treatment?

Debra Stang
Alliant Professional Networking Specialist

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Hi Debra,

The REM sleep disturbance phenomenon is yet another PD paradox. Those of us who can move only with difficulty while awake, are free to move about in our sleep. Whoever thought this disease up certainly had a well-honed sense of irony.

As you mentioned, there certainly must be clues here that could point out fruitful paths for exploration in the search for treatments. One intriguing aspect that I know of is the idea that this might be one of several early warning signs (a malfunctioning sense of smell is another one.) that, taken together, could alert people to the presence of Parkinson's Disease before the traditionally recognized symptoms manifest themselves. The beauty of to allow early interventions, before much of damage as been done. The problem: As of yet, we have no early interventions to intervene with.

I wrote a vignette about an encounter I had with this facet of the disease that can be found here