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Dr. Mercola

Documentary Reveals the Dangers of Everyday Chemicals

10 hours 14 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

It is an unfortunate fact that we are now living immersed in a chemical soup. If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines, many of the chemicals that surround us in our air, water, food, and consumer products may be compromising your health.

This is the focus of the documentary Unsafe: The Truth Behind Everyday Chemicals. Industrial chemicals and pollutants are contributing to illness in the US, especially to certain types such as asthma, autism, ADHD, breast cancer, infertility and miscarriage, Parkinson’s disease, childhood cancers, and birth defects, especially in little boys.

Children are also entering puberty at younger and younger ages; girls are now developing breast buds at age seven or eight. Common household goods and personal care products are major sources of chemical exposure that can cause your body to accumulate a variety of toxins.

Some toxins are avoidable, but many are not, as they are contaminants or simply not listed on the label. Industrial chemicals tend to accumulate in the environment, some persisting for decades or more.

In 2004, the Silent Spring Institute1 tested 120 homes for 89 endocrine disrupting chemicals. They were shocked to find 67 of them, the majority being pesticides and flame-retardants. Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, was that two-thirds of the homes tested positive for DDT—despite the fact it was banned 40 years ago.

How Endocrine Disruptors Trick Your Body

A number of common household chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning, they disrupt your hormone function. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are similar in structure to your natural sex hormones, such as estrogen, so they can potentially interfere with normal physiology, even in extremely small amounts.

Endocrine glands regulate vital physiological processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and development, as professor Meeker explains in the video above.

A hormone’s job is to interact with the cells in your body, sending signals that instruct them to perform certain tasks, but EDCs interfere with proper hormone signaling.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals can mimic your natural hormones, tricking your body into increasing or decreasing hormone production or blocking hormone signals by binding to cell receptors. Therefore, compounds that interfere with these vital processes can produce profound effects.

It’s the tiny repeated exposures that really mimic your natural endocrine system—and that is what’s so concerning. Hormones in your body operate at parts per million and parts per billion concentrations. That’s why many experts believe there is NO safe level of exposure for many of these EDCs.

Chemical Exposure Begins in the Womb

Chemicals affect infants and younger children more than older children or adults because the young are developing much more rapidly, so their organ systems more sensitive. As an expectant mother, everything you take into your body can potentially get passed along to your developing child.

In a 2005 landmark study,2 EWG found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the US. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging, and environmental waste, including BPA, flame-retardants, PCBs, and even DDT. EWG writes:

“Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.

The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.”

There is scientific data that prenatal exposure to certain industrial chemicals is associated with abnormal fetal and child development, diminished intelligence, behavior problems, infertility, abnormal sexual maturation, metabolic dysfunction, and cancers later in life.

Some of these chemicals can cross the placenta, enter the womb, and have effects at incredibly tiny doses. In a groundbreaking 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) report about endocrine disrupting chemicals, the authors wrote:3, 4

"The diverse systems affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals likely include all hormonal systems and range from those controlling development and function of reproductive organs to the tissues and organs regulating metabolism and satiety.

Effects on these systems can lead to obesity, infertility or reduced fertility, learning and memory difficulties, adult-onset diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases."

Fetal Exposure Can Impact You, Your Children, and Your Children’s Children

These chemicals typically build up in your body over time. For example, more than 90 percent of us have detectible BPA and flame-retardants (such as PDBEs) in our bodies right now.5 And the toxic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) is found in a significant percentage of American women, even those actively trying to avoid chemical contaminants.

Scientific studies suggest that the endocrine disruptors you were exposed to in-utero may affect not only you, but be passed down multiple generations—even to your great-great-grandchildren. In a 2005 animal study published in Science,6 chemically induced impairments (in this case, male infertility) were seen in nearly all males of subsequent generations. The exposure “reprogramed” the family DNA, and the impairments rippled down across multiple generations via “epigenetic inheritance,” a process whereby the behavior of the genes is altered.7 If this doesn’t underscore how profoundly endocrine disruptors can influence your biology, I don’t know what will!

Chemicals Earned Manufacturers $763 Billion in 2011

Chemicals were made to make things easier, but the cost of this convenience has come at a considerable price. Chemicals that fight disease and bolster food production are big business. Almost all aspects of modern life depend on the chemical industry. Consider the following statistics:

  • Chemical production in the US has grown 25-fold since World War II; in 2011, chemicals accounted for sales of more than $763 billion
  • 84,000 chemicals are legal for commerce in the US, and they are all basically unregulated; every year, new ones are introduced that have not been fully tested
  • Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics, and only about 10 percent have been evaluated for safety
  • About 6 billion pounds of BPA is produced annually, earning manufacturers some $8 billion profit
  • More than 1.5 million tons of flame retardants are used worldwide each year; they are added to products in order to meet flammability requirements, but the disgusting irony is that there’s virtually no evidence to suggest that these chemicals actually work when it comes to saving your life in the event of a fire
The Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disrupting chemicals have been shown to bioaccumulate over time because many people’s bodies lack the ability to flush them out as quickly as they are being introduced. Nine hundred and eighty endocrine disrupting chemicals have now been identified, with phthalates, bisphenol-A (BPA), dioxin, atrazine, and flame-retardants being the most ubiquitous. In 2013, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) nominated its 12 worst hormone-wrecking chemicals—they call it the “Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors:”8

Bisphenol-A (BPA) Dioxin Atrazine Phthalates Perchlorate Flame retardants Lead Mercury Arsenic Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) Organophosphate pesticides Glycol ethers Our Chemical Regulatory System Is Severely Broken

Tens of thousands of industrial chemicals are used daily in consumer products with grossly inadequate safety testing—if ANY safety testing was done at all. According to the GAO, 85 percent of new chemical applications include no testing whatsoever. Even under the best circumstances, the current American system does not look at how chronically low doses of chemicals affect you, or how aggregate exposures affect you over time.

In 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) grandfathered in about 62,000 chemicals, calling them “safe” because they were already in use. Needless to say, some of them are turning out to be quite problematic for your health. According to TSCA, the burden is on the EPA to show that a chemical is unsafe. Companies will only provide data or testing to the EPA if EPA can prove substantial risk, but this is hard to do without industry data. The burden of proof needs to shift from EPA, which is financially strapped, to industry, which is profiting handsomely from these chemicals and should bear the responsibility for proving their safety.

Not surprisingly, efforts at reforming federal laws have been vehemently thwarted by the chemical industry, so states have taken the lead. In 2013, 29 states introduced legislation to reduce chemical exposure. Consumer power will be the force that eventually leads to long-term change. For example, in 2012, Johnson and Johnson agreed to remove some of the toxic chemicals from their products in order to make them safer, as a result of consumer pressure.9

Tips to Help You Avoid Toxic Chemicals

Within such a dysfunctional system, you are the best one to keep your family safe. Although no one can successfully steer clear of ALL chemicals and pollutants, you can certainly minimize your exposure by keeping some key principles in mind.

  • Buy and eat fresh, organic produce and grass-pastured, sustainably raised meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
  • Eat mostly fresh, raw whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.
  • Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity, such as wild caught Alaskan salmon.
  • Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans, as chemicals can leach out of plastics (and plastic can linings), into the contents; be aware that even “BPA-free” plastics  typically  leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad as BPA.
  • Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
  • Use glass baby bottles for your infants.
  • Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  • Filter your tap water for both drinking AND bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure your filter is certified to remove it. According to the EWG, perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
  • Look for products that are made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses, and more.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust.
  • When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, or carpet padding, ask what type of flame retardant it contains. Avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid, and other brominated chemicals. As you remove toxic items from in and around your home, replace them with those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, and silk.
  • Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
  • Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on. Better yet, avoid all plastic, especially flexible ones, as even BPA free products are loaded with other plasticizers that are just as bad if not worse than BPA.
  • Use natural cleaning products, or make your own. Avoid those that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME)—two toxic glycol ethers that can impair your fertility and cause fetal harm.10
  • Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database11 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one.
  • Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.
  • Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds—even thousands—of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.

The Red Juice in Raw Red Meat Isn't Blood

10 hours 14 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

The red juice that often collects in a package of red meat is not blood, as many assume. Most of the blood is removed during processing and any that remains is usually contained within the muscle tissue.

The red liquid, instead, is a mixture of water and a protein called myoglobin, whose purpose is to help ship oxygen to muscle cells. Myoglobin is deeply pigmented, which is why the more myoglobin a meat contains, the darker (or redder) the meat will be.

Red meat is comprised of muscles that are used for extensive activity. Remember, myoglobin's role is to help bring oxygen to the muscles, and oxygen is required to give muscles energy.

So the more the muscles are used, the more myoglobin they'll contain (and the redder in color they'll be). This is why when you prepare "white" meat such as poultry or fish, you won't find any "blood" in the package – the white meat contains hardly any myoglobin.

Myoglobin Is What Makes Meat 'White,' 'Dark,' or 'Red'

The level of myoglobin in meat is what ultimately dictates whether it will be "red," "dark," or "white." The muscles in red meat are used for standing, walking, and other frequent activity, and they're made up of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Red meats' high levels of myoglobin make it red or dark in color.

White meat, on the other hand, is made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers and is comprised of muscles used for quick bursts of activity only. They get energy from glycogen and contain little myoglobin.

Some animals, like chickens, contain both white and dark meat, with the dark meat found primarily in their leg muscles. If you've ever wondered why wild poultry contain mostly dark meat, it's because they fly frequently, and the increased muscle usage means the meat contains more myoglobin.

Pigs are often referred to as the "other white meat," and that's because, while they contain myoglobin in their muscles, the levels are not as concentrated as they are in cattle (likely because pigs are not as active). Fish, too, are typically considered white meat because most of them are able to float in the water without requiring much muscle use.

Certain types of migratory fish, however, which swim briskly for extended periods, have dark meat, and that is again because of the increased myoglobin (examples would be tuna and shark).

Myoglobin Also Tells You When Your Meat Is Overcooked

The color changes that occur as meat is cooked are also due to myoglobin. In white meat, which will be translucent when it's raw, proteins coagulate as it is cooked, resulting in the whitish opaque appearance.1

In red meat, myoglobin changes from red to tan and grayish brown as it is heated. As reported by the New York Times, this color change also has to do with moisture, which is why well-done meat that's turned gray-brown is often dry:2

"Oxygenated myoglobin is red, but when its structure is changed by heat or by other molecules, it changes color. That's why redness in cooked meat signifies juiciness: As meat cooks, the heat causes the other meat proteins to coagulate and squeeze out their moisture.

Myoglobin stays unchanged and red as the meat juices flow, then turns from red to gray-brown as the release of moisture ends and the meat becomes dry."

Carbon Monoxide Used Your Meat Appear Fresher Than It Actually Is

When myoglobin is exposed to air, it eventually turns brown. This is why color can be a good indicator of the freshness of your meat, with red meat being fresher than meat that's turned brown.

In the US, however, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the use of carbon monoxide as a "preservative." It works by attaching to myoglobin's iron atom, turning it bright red and preventing it from interacting with oxygen.

This practice is banned in Europe and Japan, because even though it might prevent color changes, it certainly doesn't prevent bacterial growth.3 Carbon-monoxide-treated meat may appear fresh for weeks even though it's already gone bad (it's also used to preserve color in fish).

Are There Health Differences Between White and Dark Meat?

Dark meat has more fat than white meat, which is also why it's often juicier. In poultry, the dark meat also tends to have more nutrients than white meat, including B vitamins, iron, zinc, and selenium.

As far as red meat is concerned, it's gotten a bad reputation because of its saturated fat content, but this is a myth. It's widely stated that eating red meat causes heart disease, an association that is often blamed (incorrectly) on its impact on cholesterol levels. Yet, research has repeatedly shown that the dietary cholesterol-heart disease connection is incorrect.

For example, a 2010 study from Harvard found no evidence that eating red meats leads to heart disease.4 What you need to be concerned about when eating red meat isn't its impact on your cholesterol levels… it's whether the animal was fed grains or raised on traditional pasture.

Choose Grass-Fed (Pastured), NOT Grain-Fed, Meat

I've often said that the differences between organic, pastured beef and that from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is so great that you're really talking about two completely different animals (and the same applies to other animal meats and animal products such as dairy and eggs).

In the grand scheme of all that is wrong with modern agriculture, the unnatural transition that turned cattle, which naturally eat only grass, into grain-eating ruminants is definitely toward the top of the list. CAFO cows are fattened for slaughter in massive feedlots as quickly as possible (on average between 14 and 18 months) with the help of grains and growth promoting drugs, including antibiotics.

Remember 80% of the antibiotics in the US are fed to farm animals. The antibiotics and grains radically alter the bacterial balance and composition in the animal's gut. The natural diet for ruminant animals, such as cattle, is plain grass.

When left to their own devices, cattle will not graze on corn or soybeans. Just as in humans, poor gut health in animals promotes disease. This radically altered diet also affects the nutritional composition of the meat.

For example, when raised on a grass-only diet, levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are three to five times higher in the meat compared to CAFO beef. CLA has been found to have a wide array of important health benefits, from fighting cancer to decreasing insulin resistance and improving body composition.

Grass-fed beef also tends to be leaner, and have higher levels of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also has a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats.

Unless labeled as grass-fed, virtually all the meat you buy in the grocery store is CAFO beef, and tests have revealed that nearly half of the meat sold in US stores is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria—including antibiotic-resistant strains. Grass-fed beef is not associated with this high frequency of contamination, and their living conditions have everything to do with this improved safety.

This doesn't only apply to beef, of course. It also applies to poultry, which should be organic and pasture-raised (or free-range certified), as well as fish, which should be wild-caught not farm-raised.

Where to Find Naturally Raised Healthy Meat

Currently, meat in supermarkets will be labeled 100% grass-fed if it came from pasture, but if it contains no label, it's probably CAFO-raised. An alliance of organic and natural health consumers, animal welfare advocates, and anti-GMO activists are working together to tackle the next big food labeling battle: meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on factory farms, or CAFOs.

This campaign, which aims to have CAFO foods labeled, includes a massive program to educate consumers about the negative impacts of factory farming on the environment, on human health and on animal welfare, and hopes to organize and mobilize millions of consumers to demand labels on beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products derived from these unhealthy and unsustainable so-called "farming" practices.

In the meantime, you can boycott food products from CAFOs and choose to support farmers who produce healthy pastured grass-fed meat, eggs, and dairy products using humane, environmentally friendly methods. You can do this not only by visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also by taking part in farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture programs, many of which offer grass-fed meats. The following organizations can also help you locate grass-fed beef and other farm-fresh foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner.

Important Factors Typically Ignored in Mental Health Screening Tests

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs and among some groups like women in their 40 and 50s it is one in four.1

In 2010, antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed type of medication in the US.2 October 9 was National Depression Screening Day in the US,3 coinciding with World Mental Health Day.  

The campaign, founded in 1991 by Douglas Jacobs, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, urges Americans to get screened for depression, offered free of charge at doctor’s offices, colleges, community institutions, and hospitals across the nation.

Unfortunately, the importance of things like vitamin D and gut health for the maintenance of mental and emotional stability is still frequently ignored. Exercise is another widely overlooked remedy that would do far more good than any drug ever will.

And that’s the problem I have with campaigns like National Depression Screening Day. Rarely if ever do these mental health tests include questions about sun exposure, diet, or exercise habits...

The Problem with Mental Health Screening Tests

Mental health screening tests could serve to improve the mental health of millions, if vitamin D screening, diet, and other lifestyle factors were addressed. But all in all, mental health screenings typically do little besides promote the use of antidepressants.

For example, the free online depression screening test offered by WebMD back in 2010 turned out to be sponsored by drug giant Eli Lilly, the maker of Cymbalta, and was rigged in such a way that no matter how you responded, the answer was always the same: You may be at risk for major depression, and it would probably do you well to discuss it with your doctor…”

The test was absolutely useless, and was purposely designed to lure in new patients for a drug pitch. When looking at the research literature, short-term trials show that antidepressants actually do NOT provide any clinically significant benefits for mild to moderate depression, compared to a placebo.

Long-term studies also indicate that of people with major depression, only about 15 percent that are treated with an antidepressant go into remission and stay well for a long period of time. The remaining 85 percent start having continuing relapses and become chronically depressed!

All drugs have benefit-to-risk ratios, so if a drug is as effective as a placebo in relieving symptoms, and comes with an array of hazardous side effects, it really doesn’t make sense to use them as a first line of defense—especially if they raise your risk of mental illness over the long term! Based on the scientific evidence there are many better options.

Vitamin D Deficiency Can Play a Role in Depression

Most countries in which depression rates are high tend to be in northern latitudes where vitamin D deficiency is prevalent, and numerous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression, and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores.

For example, one previous study found that seniors with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. More recent research was discussed in a Times Online article:4

“A study in the United States indicated that vitamin D deficiency occurred more often in certain people, including African-Americans, city dwellers, the obese, and those suffering from depression.

People with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with vitamin D levels greater than 30 ng/mL[Emphasis mine]

Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder5 (SAD), and according to a double-blind randomized trial6 published in 2008: “It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression.

Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.” Recent research also claims that low vitamin D levels appear to be associated with suicide attempts. As reported by Michigan State University:7

“The study, published in the September issue of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that around 60 percent of the suicidal patients were deficient in vitamin D according to clinical standards.

The suicidal patients’ levels of Vitamin D were significantly lower than those in the healthy controls... The patients who were deficient in vitamin D also had higher inflammatory markers in their blood, the study found, suggesting that low levels of vitamin D could be a cause of the inflammation.

Previous studies have shown that increased inflammation in the body might be a contributing factor to depression and suicidal tendencies. Vitamin D deficiency also previously has been linked to mental illness, including depression.” [Emphasis mine]

To suggest that depression is rooted in nutrient deficiencies and other lifestyle related factors does not detract from the fact that it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed with compassion and non-judgment. It simply shifts the conversation about what the most appropriate answers and remedies are.

During this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, KCWY13,8 a local news channel in Wyoming, wisely noted that:

“Vitamin D is important because it helps fight off depression... Dee Ann Lippincott, of the Central Wyoming Counseling Center said, ‘The higher altitude you go and the higher you go in the country the higher the rates of depression.’

While sunlight is the best way to get vitamin D and ward off depression, it isn't the only way. For example there's a strong connection between a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind.

Lippincott said, ‘People who eat a healthier diet are less prone to depression then people who eat the more western diet which is more based on junk food and fast food, and not a lot of fruits and vegetables.’"

The Links Between Gut and Mental Health

Your mental health is also linked to your gut health. As with vitamin D, a number of studies have confirmed that gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression. For example, a Hungarian scientific review9 published in 2011 made the following observations:

  1. Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases as well as with cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes and also cancer, in which chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor. Thus researchers suggested “depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome.”
  2. Research suggests the primary cause of inflammation may be dysfunction of the “gut-brain axis.” Your gut is literally your second brain -- created from the identical tissue as your brain during gestation -- and contains larger levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with mood control.
  3. It's important to understand that your gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of serotonin regulation and actually produce more serotonin than your brain. Optimizing your gut flora is a key part of the equation to optimize your levels.  
  4. An increasing number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammation with probiotics, vitamin B, vitamin D, and omega-3 fats may also improve depression symptoms and quality of life by attenuating pro-inflammatory stimuli to your brain.
Sugar Is Also a Major Factor in Depression

Nearly 40 years ago, William Duffy penned a great book on this subject, called The Sugar Blues. It delves into the sugar-depression link in great detail, and is as applicable today as it was then. The central argument Duffy makes in the book is that sugar is extremely health-harming and addictive, and that simply making one dietary change -- eliminating as much sugar as possible -- can have a profoundly beneficial impact on your mental health.

This really makes sense when you consider that sugar not only triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation, it also distorts the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut. Both of these factors—chronic inflammation and imbalanced microflora—play integral roles in the quality of your second brain and your mental health. 

Sugar feeds pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi that inhibit the beneficial and health promoting bacteria in your gut. Sugar can also lead to excessive insulin release that can lead to hypoglycemia, which, in turn, causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, panic attacks, and an increase in suicide risk. Cultured and fermented foods, on the other hand, help reseed your gut with a wide variety of healthy bacteria that promote mental and physical health as long as your keep your sugar and processed food intake low.

For instance, one 2011 study10 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus has a marked effect on GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowers the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior. So the two-prong dietary answer for treating depression is to a) severely limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains, and b) introduce fermented foods into your diet to rebalance your gut flora. As a standard recommendation, I suggest limiting your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.

Exercise Proven More Helpful Than Antidepressants

Regular exercise is another "secret weapon" to overcoming depression. It primarily works by helping to normalize your insulin levels while simultaneously boosting “feel good" hormones in your brain. According to Dr. James S. Gordon, MD, a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression:

"What we're finding in the research on physical exercise is that exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed… physical exercise changes the level of serotonin in your brain. And it increases your endorphin levels, your ‘feel good hormones.’"


Total Video Length: 01:02:08

Download Interview Transcript

Medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker also discusses the drawbacks and benefits of various treatments in the video above and in his two books: Mad in America, and Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, noting the superior benefits of exercise compared to drugs. Recent animal research also suggests that exercise can benefit your mental health by allowing your body to eliminate kynurenine, a harmful protein associated with depression. According to Reuters:11

“’If you consistently exercise and your muscle is conditioned and adapted to physical exercise, then you acquire the ability to express this class of enzymes that have the ability to detoxify something that accumulates during stress and that will be harmful for you,’ senior study author Dr. Jorge Ruas of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm said...  

The body metabolizes this substance, kynurenine, from tryptophan, a process that is activated by stress and by inflammatory factors... Studies have linked high levels of kynurenine - which readily crosses the blood-brain barrier – to depression, suicide and schizophrenia... Clinicians can use the findings to help their patients understand why physical activity can fight off depression, Dr. Ruas said, which may improve their compliance with exercise recommendations.”

How to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

Based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general physical and mental health appears to be somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml. As for HOW to optimize your vitamin D levels, I firmly believe that sensible sun exposure is the best way. If you can’t get enough sunshine in late fall, winter, or early spring, then a tanning bed would be your next best option. Keep in mind that most tanning equipment use magnetic ballasts, which create harmful EMF fields. If you hear a loud buzzing noise while in a tanning bed, it has a magnetic ballast system. I strongly recommend you avoid these types of beds and restrict your use of tanning beds to those that use electronic ballasts.

If your circumstances don’t allow you to access the sun or a safe tanning bed, then you really only have one option left, and that is to take a vitamin D supplement. GrassrootsHealth has a helpful chart showing the average adult dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. Many experts agree that 35 IUs of vitamin D per pound of body weight could be used as an estimate for your ideal dose.

Keep in mind that if you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to take vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the consequences similar to vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries.


References for target ranges Test Your Vitamin D Levels at Least Once a Year—Even if You’re Healthy

I recommend testing your vitamin D level at least once a year, in the middle of the winter when your level would be at its lowest. This will give you an idea of the extent of your insufficiency. Ideally, you’d want to get your level tested several times a year, at regular intervals, to ensure you’re continuously staying within the ideal range. Once you know your pattern and can comfortably predict that you will not fall below 60 ng/ml, then it would be fine to shift to annual testing.

It’s important to remember that optimal vitamin D levels appear to offer powerful PREVENTION of a whole host of chronic diseases, not just depression, so please, do not wait for a problem to appear before addressing your vitamin D status. The D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth is one cost effective solution. To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

Rethinking Your First Line of Defense Against Depression

There are many options besides antidepressants for addressing depression. Three of the most effective strategies have been addressed above, which include:

  • Optimizing your vitamin D level, ideally through appropriate sun exposure
  • Optimizing your gut health by limiting or eliminating sugar, fructose, grains, and processed foods from your diet, and introducing fermented foods and/or a high-quality probiotic
  • Getting regular exercise

Other helpful strategies include the use of energy psychology, getting adequate omega-3 fats, and getting enough sleep. Engaging in outdoor activities such as gardening can also do wonders. As a general rule, it would be wise to remember that your lifestyle can quite literally make or break your health and general sense of wellbeing and may be one of the most fundamental contributors to depression. The most appropriate answer then is to get to the root of the problem, and not ignore it by popping pills...

You’d be well advised to address the factors discussed in this article before resorting to drug treatment—which science has shown is no more effective than placebo, while being fraught with potentially dangerous side effects. For even more inspiration, please see my previous article “13 Mind-Body Techniques That Can Help Ease Depression.”

That said, if you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest Hospital Emergency Department.

For Back Pain or Headache, Painkillers Do More Harm Than Good

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In the 1940s, opioid-based narcotics like opium and heroin were popular drugs of abuse, which lead to strict controls being put into place to curb their use. Regulations existed to control who could prescribe opioids and at what doses; breaches to the regulations could lead to a loss of your medical license or criminal prosecution.

Many physicians feared the repercussions, and thus may have under-prescribed such medications, even in cases where they’re called for, such as in late-stage cancer pain.1

Decades later, in the 1990s, successful lobbying by pharmaceutical makers led to changes in the opioid regulations, such that doctors couldn’t be penalized for prescribing them.

The loosened regulations paved the way for the aggressive treatment of pain, not only in cancer patients and those with terminal diseases, but in virtually anyone with chronic pain. We’re now at the opposite end of the spectrum, where opioids are vastly overprescribed and doing far more harm than good.

American Academy of Neurology: Opioids Not for Non-Cancer Chronic Pain

The American Academy of Neurology has released a new position statement on opioids, highlighting the problems of overuse. Since policies changed in the late 1990s, over 100,000 people have died, directly or indirectly, from prescribed opioids in the US.

In the highest-risk group (those between the ages of 35 and 54), deaths from opioids exceed deaths from both firearms and motor vehicle accidents.

The report notes that while such drugs may offer short-term relief for non-cancer chronic pain such as back pain, headaches, migraines, and fibromyalgia, they cause more harm than good over time:2

“Whereas there is evidence for significant short-term pain relief, there is no substantial evidence for maintenance of pain relief or improved function over long periods of time without incurring serious risk of overdose, dependence, or addiction.”

Research has shown, for instance, that more than half of people who use opioids for three months will still be using them five years later.3 Meanwhile, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that long-term use of opioids actually does little to relieve chronic pain.4 In some cases, they may even make chronic pain worse. As TIME reported:5

“…the opioids can backfire in excessive doses; in the same way that neurons become over-sensitized to pain and hyper-reactive, high doses of opioids could prime some nerves to respond more intensely to pain signals, rather than helping them to modulate their reaction.”

Powerful Opioids Should Be the LAST Resort for Pain… But They’re Currently the First

Pain is one of the most common health complaints in the US, but record numbers of Americans are, sadly, becoming drug addicts in an attempt to live pain-free. According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month.6

By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US, which equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans.7 And those narcotics are responsible for 46 deaths each and every day...

Americans use the most opioids of any nation—twice the amount used by Canadians, who come in second place in terms of prescriptions.8 The problem has become noticeable enough that even US officials now warn that narcotic painkillers are a driving force in the rise of substance abuse and lethal overdoses.

Preliminary research presented at the 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona also found that 12.6 percent of all primary care visits made by Americans between 2002 and 2009 involved prescriptions for sedatives and/or narcotic painkillers (opioids).9 The study also found:

  • The number of prescriptions for sedative drugs rose by 12.5 percent a year
  • Patients receiving a narcotic painkiller were 4.2 times more likely to receive a second prescription for a sedative
  • The number of joint prescriptions of opioids and sedatives also increased by 12 percent a year in that time frame
  • Prescription sedatives and narcotic painkillers are responsible for at least 30 percent of narcotic painkiller-related deaths
  • Besides deaths caused by overdose, other risks associated with sedative use include falls in the elderly, emergency room visits, and drug dependence
Would You Take Heroin? Opioids Are Indistinguishable to Your Brain

You’re probably aware that heroin is very addictive… but did you know that prescription opioids are virtually identical as far as your brain is concerned?

As explained by Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone "are all classified as opioids because they exert their effect by attaching to the opioid receptor found in our brain and spinal cord."10 For instance, hydrocodone, a prescription opiate, is synthetic heroin.

It’s no wonder that over the past five years alone, heroin deaths have also increased by 45 percent -- an increase that officials blame on the rise of addictive prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora, again all of which are opioids (derivatives of opium, like heroin).11

Clear Limits Called Upon for Opioid Use

Most studies on opioid use followed patients for only about one month, which is a fraction of the time most patients actually use them. In addition to not being effective and posing a very real risk of death by accidental overdose and addiction, opioids have also been linked to infertility, abnormal immune function, and heart problems.12

The American Academy of Neurology is now calling for clear limits to be set on opioid use, especially for non-cancer pain. Certain states already have warnings in place that require physicians to seek other opinions if a person takes daily opioid doses of 80-120 mg without getting relief.

Still, the pills shouldn’t be viewed as a go-to treatment for chronic pain in the first place, as lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other strategies are often more effective and far safer.

Are You in Severe Pain?

I strongly recommend exhausting all your options before resorting to a narcotic pain reliever, and I'll list a number of alternatives at the end of this article. That being said, if you’re in severe pain, I agree that these drugs do have a place, and can be a great benefit when used cautiously and correctly. Chronic unremitting pain that is not relieved can impair your sleep and radically decrease your health.

However, the evidence is very clear that these drugs are being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit, drug use. I strongly suspect that the overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of this problem. So if you are struggling with severe or chronic pain, my first suggestion would be to see a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments and the underlying causes of pain.

You need a knowledgeable practitioner who can help you attack the pain from multiple angles, giving you both relief and healing. One option that is receiving increasing attention in the US is cannabis. It’s the cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis that has medicinal properties. CBD is an excellent painkiller and has been used successfully to treat a variety of pain disorders.

In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, such as California, you can join a collective, which is a legal entity consisting of a group of patients that can grow and share cannabis medicines with each other. By signing up as a member, you gain the right to grow and share your medicine. I do, however, still recommend working with a health care practitioner who can guide you on the most effective dosage and form of use (cannabis may be inhaled, smoked, vaporized, taken orally, or even applied topically (in oil form).

19 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

I strongly recommend exhausting other options before you resort to an opioid pain reliever. The health risks associated with these drugs are great, and addiction is a very real concern. Below I list 19 non-drug alternatives for the treatment of pain. These options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. This list is in no way meant to represent the only approaches you can use.

They are, rather, some of the best strategies that I know of. I do understand there are times when pain is so severe that a prescription drug may be necessary. Even in those instances, the options that follow may be used in addition to such drugs, and may allow you to at least reduce your dosage. If you are in pain that is bearable, please try these first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind.

  1. Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic, as mentioned.13 At present, 20 US states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes, and flavonoids. As discussed in this previous post, varieties of cannabis exist that are very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel "stoned"—and high in medicinal CBD. The Journal of Pain,14 a publication by the American Pain Society, has a long list of studies on the pain-relieving effects of cannabis.
  2. Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
  3. Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat. My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they manipulate prostaglandins.)
  4. Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
  5. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
  6. K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy. If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis, or other inflammation-based pain, I’d strongly encourage you to try out K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers. K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing—both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, or even bones.
  7. The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body, and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip. For more information about this groundbreaking technology, and how it can help heal chronic pain, please listen to my previous interview with Dr. Harrington.

  8. Chiropractic. Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain, such as low-back pain. Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.
  9. Acupuncture can also effectively treat many kinds of pain. Research has discovered a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of: back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.
  10. Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
  11. Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  12. Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  13. Curcumin: In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.15
  14. Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  15. Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
  16. Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
  17. Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  18. Cayenne cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
  19. Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and other mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.
  20. Grounding, or walking barefoot on the earth, may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.

The Rising Tide of Chemical Cocktails

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson wrote the groundbreaking book Silent Spring, in which she warned of the devastating environmental impacts of DDT. It was among the first times the chemical industry had been openly criticized and brought the impacts of environmental pollution to the forefront of society.

Decades later, in 2002, the US Geological Survey conducted the first nationwide reconnaissance of the occurrence of pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other contaminants in wastewater.

After testing water samples from 139 streams across 30 states, they found contaminants in 80 percent of the streams sampled, and noted that most samples contained seven to 38 different toxins.1

“Little is known about the potential interactive effects… that may occur from complex mixtures of OWCs [organic wastewater contaminants] in the environment,” the researchers noted, and this is still very much true today.

Now, a new study looked at the contaminants found lurking in our water, and what they revealed showed a growing chemical cocktail that shows no sign of stopping.

Prescription Drugs, Pesticides, Caffeine, and More

When researchers tested the water of the Zumbro River in Minnesota, they found a wide variety of contaminants:2

  • Pesticides and insecticides
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-convulsive medications
  • Acetaminophen
  • Caffeine

As was noted more than a decade ago, the researchers again stated, “we don’t know what these background levels mean in terms of environmental or public health.”3

Yet, the sheer number and variety of contaminants are raising concerns among scientists. At the US Geological Survey, for instance, studies have revealed sewage tainted with steroid hormones and the antibacterial triclosan. They’ve also found antidepressants in fish and even toxins like birth control pills and detergents in the slimy coverings on stones in streams.4

As written in Environmental Science & Technology, editor-in-chief Jerald Schnoor, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa, explains the seeming impossibility of keeping tabs on the 89 million organic and inorganic substances registered by the American Chemical Society.5

Most of these are not in commercial use… but still, 15,000 new chemicals and biological sequences are registered every day. There are about 84,000 chemicals that are registered for commercial use and of those 2,400 are high-production volume chemicals (meaning more than 1 million pounds are produced per year).

Even among this list, the vast majority have yet to be proven safe, including 267 that have yet to even be sponsored for testing (and this includes, as Schnoor noted, some “suspicious candidates” like coal tar, creosote, methyl chlorobenzene, and trichloracetaldehyde).

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 Has Yet to Be Updated…

There are complex problems with environmental chemicals, in part because you can’t always predict how they will react in nature. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), for instance, appear to become even more toxic when they’re broken down by plants in the environment.

Even though they’ve been banned for decades they are still found contaminating the environment. So in addition to the potential threats of new chemicals on the market are the continued threat of those already on the market and even those that have long since been banned. As the New York Times reported:6

“…the development of new compounds and the increasing discovery of unexpected contaminants in the environment mean that the nation desperately needs a better system for assessing and prioritizing chemical exposures.

That includes revisiting the country’s antiquated chemical regulation and assessment regulations. The Toxic Substances Control Act went into effect in 1976, almost 40 years ago, and has not been updated since.”

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) allows high-production volume chemicals to be launched without their chemical identity or toxicity information being disclosed. It also makes it very difficult for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals. The National Resources Defense Council explained:7

“Under the law now, the EPA must prove a chemical poses an ‘unreasonable risk’ to public health or the environment before it can be regulated. Widely considered a failure, the law allowed 62,000 chemicals to remain on the market without testing when it first passed.

In more than 30 years, the EPA has only required testing for about 200 of those chemicals, and has partially regulated just five. The rest have never been fully assessed for toxic impacts on human health and the environment.

For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

These chemicals are found in toys and other children's products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and car interiors.”

Health Risks of Environmental Chemicals Can No Longer Be Ignored

It’s become clear that environmental chemicals, even at low doses, cause disturbances to hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems. Chemicals that have accumulated and persist in the environment – in our food, water, air, and household goods – have been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive problems, and more.

It’s difficult to quantify the damage potential of environmental chemicals, especially in utero. However the studies that have tried have yielded some disturbing results.

For instance, earlier this year a study published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology8 found that every 1-percent increase in genital malformations in newborn males within a particular county was associated with a 283 percent increased rate in autism.

According to the researchers, genital malformations such as micropenis, undescended testicles, and hypospadias (when the urethra forms on the underside of the penis) are signs of exposure to harmful toxins.

Other recent research has revealed that exposure while in the womb to DDT increases women’s risk of high blood pressure decades later. The research revealed that women exposed to the most DDT before birth were 2.5 to 3.6 times more likely to develop high blood pressure before the age of 50 than those with the lowest prenatal exposure.9

This means health problems you’re experiencing now could potentially be the result of chemical exposures before you were even born. What is perhaps even more shocking is that toxins you’re exposed to while in your mother’s womb can end up impacting the health of your great-grandchildren through inherited epigenetic changes.

So not only are environmental chemicals potentially jeopardizing the health of your children, they’re jeopardizing the health of multiple future generations.10

Chemical Industry Lobbying for Federal Chemical Law to Take Away States’ Regulatory Powers

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), whose 300-plus members include Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and General Mills, is pushing a Congressional bill called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014. The bill, dubbed the “DARK” (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would actually preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws. What does this have to do with chemical regulations?

Everything… as the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical giants like Dow, DuPont, BASF Corp., and 3M, is trying to do the same thing in regard to chemicals. They know an overhaul of the existing law is coming… and they’re trying to preempt states from being able to tighten up regulations (or take away those already enacted by “tougher” states like California). The American Chemistry Council has spent nearly $6 million on lobbying in the first half of 2014 alone.11

Water Filtration—A Must for Clean Pure Water…

For now, we’re forced to deal with a world in which environmental chemicals exist all around us. For this reason, I strongly recommend using a high-quality water filtration system unless you can verify the purity of your water. To be absolutely certain you are getting the purest water you can, you'll want to filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink.

I currently use a whole house carbon-based water filtration system, in addition to a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to purify my drinking water. You can read more about water filtration to help you make a decision about what type of water filtration system will be best for you and your family. Since most water sources are now severely polluted, the issue of water filtration and purification couldn't be more important.

Living Clean in a Contaminated World

Beyond pure water, organically grown, biodynamic whole foods are really the key to success here, and, as an added bonus, when you eat properly, you're also optimizing your body's natural detoxification system, which can help eliminate toxicants your body encounters from other sources. From there, simply leading a healthy lifestyle will help you to have as minimal a chemical exposure as possible. This includes the following:

  1. As much as possible, purchase organic produce and free-range, organic foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides, growth hormones, GMOs, and synthetic fertilizers.
  2. Rather than using conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity.
  3. Eat mostly raw, fresh foods, steering clear of processed, prepackaged foods of all kinds. This way you automatically avoid artificial food additives, including dangerous artificial sweeteners, food coloring, and MSG. Freshly grown sprouts are particularly nutritious, especially watercress, sunflower, and pea sprouts.
  4. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA- and BPS-containing liners).
  5. As mentioned, have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).
  6. Only use natural cleaning products in your home.
  7. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a useful database to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.12 I also offer one of the highest-quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.
  8. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
  9. Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  10. When redoing your home, look for "green," chemical-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
  11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric, or install a glass shower door. Most flexible plastics, like shower curtains, contain dangerous plasticizers like phthalates.
  12. Limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residues and accumulate in your body over time.
  13. Avoid spraying pesticides around your home or insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective, and natural alternatives out there.

Common Medications and Multiple Drug Combinations Increasingly Linked to Fatal Car Crashes

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

According to statistics collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million Americans wound up in the emergency room (ER) as a result of a car accident in 2012.

That equates to about 7,000 people per day, and the lifetime medical expenses associated with these accidents amount to about $18 billion. When you add in work lost over a lifetime due to injuries sustained, the cost jumps to $33 billion.

According to Ileana Arias, principal deputy director for the CDC:1

"Motor vehicle crash injuries occur all too frequently and have health and economic costs for individuals, the health care system, and society. We need to do more to keep people safe and reduce crash injuries and medical costs."

While there are many factors that make driving risky, including the use of cell phones, texting, drunk driving, and not using a seat belt, there's also the issue of prescription drug side effects.2 Many can cause drowsiness and/or other impairment that can make you dangerous on the road.

This may in fact be a major traffic safety issue that is largely ignored. Truly, if you're taking medication that impairs your driving skills, it's no different from driving drunk or high on illegal drugs.

FDA Admits: Certain Medications Make Driving Risky

According to research3 published earlier this year, prescription drugs and multiple drug combinations are frequently found in the blood of drivers involved in fatal car crashes on US roads.

Unfortunately, many simply assume that the combination of drugs prescribed to them is safe to take while driving because their doctor did not specifically warn them otherwise. This could turn out to be a fatally flawed assumption...

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should always read the label on any and all prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drug you're taking before getting behind the wheel.

Also make sure you're not taking more than one medication with the same active ingredient, as this will multiply its effect. And don't make the mistake of assuming that OTC drugs are safe to use while driving simply because you can pick them up without a prescription. OTC allergy and cold medications are particularly notorious for making you sleepy and potentially dangerous behind the wheel.

One 2013 CDC report estimates up to 33 percent of all fatal car crashes involve a drowsy driver,4 and contrary to popular belief, sleep aids do not actually make you more well-rested. On the contrary, sleeping pills are also associated with next-day impairment that could make you a danger behind the wheel. As reported by Medicine Net:5

"The [FDA] cautions that some common nonprescription medicines can impair your ability to drive and operate other vehicles and machinery safely. Some of the most common of these drugs include certain types of nonprescription antihistamines, anti-diarrheals, and anti-nausea medications...

'You can feel the effects some over-the-counter medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours,' Dr. Ali Mohamadi, a medical officer at the FDA, said in an agency news release.

"In some cases, a medicine can cause significant 'hangover-like' effects and affect your driving even the next day... 'If you don't read all your medicine labels and choose and use them carefully, you can risk your safety. If your driving is impaired, you could risk your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others,' Mohamadi said."

Polypharmacy Raises Your Risk of Impairment

Gone are the days when drunk drivers were our only concern—alcohol is but one of many drugs that can make you dangerous behind the wheel. And now many people, especially seniors, are on multiple prescription drugs (polypharmacy), which multiplies their impairment.

When you picture someone under the influence of drugs in your mind, you probably don't envision a grey-haired grandmother or grandfather, a middle-aged professional, or a soon-to-be retiree.

But the face of drug addiction in the United States has changed dramatically over the past few decades, and a significant number of older adults are now struggling with both illicit and prescription drug abuse.

According to statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation,6 seniors aged 65 and older fill, on average, 27 prescriptions per year, and National Institutes of Health7 (NIH) statistics show that the number of people in their 50s who are abusing illicit drugs more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 2.7 to 5.8 percent. Among those 65 and older, 414,000 used illicit drugs in 2010.

The most commonly abused prescription medications among seniors include:

  • Opioids (painkillers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl)
  • Depressants (including Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Sonata, prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders)
  • Stimulants (such as Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall)

Many people are still under the illusion that prescription drugs are somehow safer than street drugs, but it's important to realize that prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioids, very similar to heroin.

More Than One in Five Fatal Car Crashes Involve Driver on Multiple Medications

A CDC report8 issued this past summer analyzed data on drivers who tested positive for drugs after being involved in fatal crashes in the US between 1993 and 2010. Not surprisingly, the results were as disturbing as they were revealing. First of all, prescription drugs were involved in fatal car crashes at three times the rate of marijuana.

This is not meant to be an argument that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe, but it clearly shows that prescription drugs, especially when combined with alcohol, is an even greater hazard when you're on the road.9 Moreover, the study found that between 1993 and 2010, the number of drivers with three or more drugs in their system nearly doubled, increasing from 11.5 to 21.5 percent.


Source: White House Report, Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009 (PDF)

The fact that about one in five fatal car crashes involves an individual with multiple medications in their system should serve as a warning to all who think prescription drugs are safer than recreational drugs. As reported by Medicine Net,10 this trend is likely to worsen as aging Americans continue to rely on prescription drugs. At present, 90 percent of seniors aged 65 and over use prescription medications.11 According to the researchers, doctors can help prevent drugged driving by warning their patients about the risk of impairment while on certain drugs. They also suggested making mass transportation more affordable to dissuade drugged drivers from taking to the road.

Yet another study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology12 in 2012, found that people involved in car accidents are more likely to have taken psychotropic drugs for a period of days, weeks, or months prior to their accident. Psychotropic drugs are those that alter your mental processes and are typically prescribed for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other psychiatric disorders. Benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and insomnia drugs known as Z-drugs (including Sonata, Ambien, Imovane, and Lunesta) all have the potential to impair your driving.

Beware: Medications Also Cause Most Fatal Allergic Reactions

Even if a medication does not make you drowsy or less alert, it's also important to be aware that certain drugs can cause fatal allergic reactions. According to one recent study,13 medicines are the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions in the US—absolutely dwarfing the death rate from other allergens such as bee stings and food. Antibiotics and radiocontrast agents used in imaging studies are among the most hazardous. According to the New York Times:14

"Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers found 2,458 cases of fatal anaphylaxis from 1999 through 2010. Almost 60 percent of the deaths, or 1,446, were caused by reactions to drugs, and in cases where the specific drug was known, half were caused by antibiotics. The rate of drug-induced fatal reactions almost doubled over the period. Insect stings caused 15.2 percent of the fatalities and food 6.7 percent. The cause was not recorded in a fifth of the cases." [Emphasis mine]

Being a Responsible Driver Includes Avoiding Driving When Taking Drugs that May Impair Driving Ability

The risk of driving impairment from prescription medications has likely been underestimated for many years. There is no way to know how many of the accidents attributed to "drunk driving" have really been a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. When you take combinations of drugs, even those prescribed by your doctor, the mental and physical effects can be complex and unpredictable.

So, if you do choose to take psychoactive medications, or drugs that impair judgment and reaction time either by itself or in combination with other drugs, please exercise good judgment and avoid getting behind the wheel. Needless to say, talking on your phone or texting while driving raises your risk of a potentially fatal car crash in and of itself—and doing so while impaired exponentially raises that risk.

HPV Vaccine Linked to Nervous System Disorder and Autoimmunity

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

At the end of 2013, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil had generated nearly 30,000 adverse reaction reports to the US government, including 140 deaths.1

This is probably a gross underestimate, because, although a federal law was passed in 1986 (the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) mandating that doctors and other vaccine providers report serious health problems or deaths that occur after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), there are no legal penalties for not reporting.

This means that the US uses a passive reporting system, with the vast majority of  vaccine reactions never being reported. When doctors do report Gardasil vaccine reactions, for example, most of them do not send the report to VAERS but make reports directly to Merck (the vaccine's maker).2

Health problems associated with the Gardasil vaccine include immune-mediated inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders, suggesting that something is causing the immune system to overreact in a detrimental way—sometimes fatally.

Seasoned journalist Katie Couric recently gave airtime to two mothers whose daughters' health suddenly deteriorated after Gardasil shots, prompting an inappropriate smear campaign against her. What it should have done was further encourage an open, honest discussion about the safety of this vaccine, which appears to be highly questionable.

The truth is that a growing body of medical literature is showing the HPV vaccine is linked to nervous and immune system disorders in some young women and girls. If you're a parent or a young person being encouraged to give this vaccine to your child or get it yourself, you deserve to know what the research really shows.

Two Studies Link HPV Vaccine with Nervous and Immune System Disorders

In one recent case study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine,3 researchers described the case of a 14-year-old girl who developed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) with chronic fatigue two months following Gardasil vaccination.

POTS is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions in your body such as your heart rate, balance, digestion, bladder control and sleep. While rare, incidence of POTS appears to be increasing and emerging evidence suggests it may be an autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. As reported by GreenMedInfo:4

"Immunization is considered a potential pathway for this pathogenesis via something called 'molecular mimicry' -- where antibodies against vaccine components 'cross-react' with innate body proteins."

The study authors also suggested that in this case the POTS fulfilled the criteria for a condition known as autoimmune/auto-inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). ASIA was first identified in 2011, and has highlighted the underlying mechanisms of how vaccines, and particularly their adjuvants (such as aluminum), may be triggering disease.

In the Journal of Autoimmunology,5 Dr. Yehuda Schoenfeld described the diagnostic criteria for ASIA, which includes "weakness, anxiety, rashes, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, and the onset of a range of autoimmune diseases from Systemic Lupus Erythematosis to Rheumatoid Arthritis -- sometimes years after an initial reaction."6

In the case study, the girl suffered many of these symptoms following vaccination and a psychiatric evaluation ruled out the possibility that they were psychogenic. This included symptoms such as:

Persistent headaches Dizziness Recurrent fainting Muscle pain Numbness Increased heart rate Breathlessness Visual disturbances Fear of loud sounds Cognitive impairment Insomnia Gastrointestinal disturbances Weight loss    

POTS is reported in the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in only 0.07 percent of cases, but its symptoms are listed in up to 16 percent of cases (and up to five times more frequently in connection to Gardasil compared to other vaccines), which suggests it is being significantly underreported.7

6 More Reports of Young Women Developing POTS Following Gardasil Vaccination

The second study, which was published in the European Journal of Neurology,8 described six patients who developed POTS from six days to two months following HPV vaccination. This included:

  • A 20-year-old athletic woman who developed weight loss, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, rapid heart rate, and exercise intolerance two weeks after her first dose of HPV vaccine.
  • A 22-year-old previously healthy woman who experienced a sudden onset of diarrhea, nausea, and weight loss about two months after receiving her third HPV vaccine.
  • A previously healthy 12-year-old girl who began experiencing episodic loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate six days after her second dose of HPV vaccine. Her symptoms improved and then returned three weeks after a third dose of HPV vaccine.
  • A 15-year-old girl who developed new-onset dizziness and headaches four weeks after her first dose of HPV vaccine, which progressed to dizziness, shaking, muscle twitching, and weakness within two months.
  • A 14-year-old girl who experienced numbness, tingling, fatigue, headache, nausea, and weight loss starting five days after her first dose of HPV vaccine.
  • An 18-year-old woman who developed tingling and numbness three weeks after her first Gardasil vaccine, and then back pain, neck stiffness, fatigue, dizziness, urinary incontinence, and blurry vision over the following three months.

According to the researchers: "Correct diagnosis of POTS and awareness that POTS may occur after vaccination in young women is essential for prompt and effective management of this condition." Unfortunately, an interval of just six weeks is often used as evidence of a causal association, while many of the women's symptoms do not occur for months.

This can make it easy for health officials and vaccine makers to pass the symptoms off as coincidence or due to another cause entirely, even though there is research showing that post-vaccination adverse reactions involving the immune system may not show up for months to years following immunization.9

Gardasil Death Confirms Presence of HPV DNA Fragments

Earlier this year, a lab scientist, who discovered HPV DNA fragments in the blood of a teenage girl who died after receiving the Gardasil vaccine, published a case report in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology.10 The otherwise healthy girl died in her sleep six months after receiving her third and final dose of the HPV vaccine. A full autopsy revealed no cause of death.

Sin Hang Lee with the Milford Molecular Laboratory in Connecticut confirmed the presence of HPV-16 L1 gene DNA in the girl's postmortem blood and spleen tissue. These DNA fragments are also found in the vaccine. The fragments were protected from degradation by binding firmly to the particulate aluminum adjuvant used in the vaccine. "The significance of these HPV DNA fragments of a vaccine origin found in post-mortem materials is not clear and warrants further investigation," he wrote.

Lee suggested the presence of HPV DNA fragments of vaccine origin might offer a plausible explanation for the high immunogenicity of Gardasil, meaning that the vaccine has the ability to provoke an exaggerated immune response. He points out that the rate of anaphylaxis in girls receiving Gardasil is far higher than normal—reportedly five to 20 times higher than other common vaccinations.

The Effectiveness of the HPV Vaccine Is Unproven

Please be aware that the very real risks of HPV vaccination come with only a very dubious benefit, at best. In 2012, a systematic review of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine by researchers at University of British Columbia showed that the vaccine's effectiveness is not only overstated (through the use of selective reporting or "cherry picking" data) but also unproven. In the summary of the clinical trial review, the authors state it quite clearly:11

"We carried out a systematic review of HPV vaccine pre- and post-licensure trials to assess the evidence of their effectiveness and safety. We found that HPV vaccine clinical trials design, and data interpretation of both efficacy and safety outcomes, were largely inadequate. Additionally, we note evidence of selective reporting of results from clinical trials (i.e., exclusion of vaccine efficacy figures related to study subgroups in which efficacy might be lower or even negative from peer-reviewed publications).

Given this, the widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions (or such which are at odds with factual evidence) and significant misinterpretation of available data. For example, the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70% reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer(let alone cervical cancer death), nor that the current overly optimistic surrogate marker-based extrapolations are justified.

Likewise, the notion that HPV vaccines have an impressive safety profile is only supported by highly flawed design of safety trials and is contrary to accumulating evidence from vaccine safety surveillance databases and case reports which continue to link HPV vaccination to serious adverse outcomes (including death and permanent disabilities). We thus conclude that further reduction of cervical cancers might be best achieved by optimizing cervical screening (which carries no such risks) and targeting other factors of the disease rather than by the reliance on vaccines with questionable efficacy and safety profiles." [Emphasis mine]

Teach Your Kids to Get Informed, and Your Daughters to Get Their Pap Smears

Health officials report statistics that about 79 million Americans have the sexually transmitted HPV virus, and 14 million are newly infected each year.12 At face value, this might make parents rush to get their children vaccinated, but it sounds far more frightening than it actually is. Gardasil is now recommended as a routine vaccination for young US girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 and even boys between the ages of 11 and 21 are advised to get it for partial protection against genital warts and cancers of the penis and rectum.

To reduce transmission of HPV to girls, thereby preventing cervical cancer deaths (which is highly questionable, as noted above). However, this is all highly questionable when you consider the fact that most HPV infections do not lead to cancer and, instead, clear up on their own within two years. There's no treatment necessary and often no adverse health effects in 90 percent or more of HPV infection cases! Likewise, cervical cancer accounts for less than ONE percent of all cancer deaths, while anal cancer claims approximately 300 a year. So, this vaccine is certainly not aimed at any major public health threat, no matter which way you look at it.

If you are a parent, it is important to educate your pre-teens and teenagers so they know that the risks of getting or transmitting HPV infection can be greatly reduced, if not virtually eliminated, by choosing abstinence or use of condoms. Furthermore, even if they get vaccinated, there are still recommendations for girls and women to have pap screens every few years to detect any cervical changes that may indicate pre-cancerous lesions because there is little guarantee that either Gardasil or Cervarix (another HPV vaccine) will prevent HPV infection or cervical and other cancers.

Routine pap smear testing is a far more rational, less expensive, and less dangerous strategy for cervical cancer prevention, as it can identify chronic HPV infection and may provide greater protection against development of cervical cancer than reliance on HPV vaccinations. Cervical cancer cases have dropped more than 70 percent in the US since pap screening became a routine part of women's health care in the 1960s, as it can detect pre-cancerous cervical lesions early so they can be effectively removed and treated.

Risk factors that increase your chances of developing chronic HPV infection include:

  • Smoking
  • Co-infection with herpes, chlamydia, or HIV
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Compromised immunity
  • Long term use of hormonal contraceptives

Most of these are modifiable risk factors and you can boost your immune system health to help reduce your risk of contracting or having complications from infections, by following my nutrition plan.

Your Right to Informed Consent Is Under Attack

I cannot stress enough how critical it is to get involved and stand up for your fundamental human right to exercise informed consent to medical risk-taking and your legal right to obtain non-medical vaccine exemptions. This does not mean you have to opt out of all vaccinations if you decide that you want to get vaccinated or give one or more vaccines to your child. The point is that everyone should have the right to evaluate the potential benefits and real risks of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, and opt out of getting any vaccine or drug they decide is unnecessary or not in the best interest of their health or their child's health.

While it seems "old-fashioned," the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and legally obtain vaccine exemptions is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community. Vaccine use recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choices can have the greatest impact.

Signing up for the National Vaccine Information Center's free online Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org not only gives you immediate, easy access to your state legislators so you can become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when state and national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Contact Your Elected Officials

Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you! It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state.

These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We should be treating people like human beings instead of guinea pigs.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors, employers, or school officials for making independent vaccine choices.
Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One Who Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination. However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines. So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for you or your child.

Fight for Raw Milk Heats Up in Wisconsin and Illinois

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, it’s safer, too.

While many believe that milk must be pasteurized before it can be safely consumed, it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for eons before the invention of pasteurization.

It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk; specifically that from cows raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions, which is what you find in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). It really needs to be pasture-raised, NOT pasteurized.

Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk. Their living conditions promote and maintain their health and optimize their milk in terms of the nutrients and beneficial bacteria it contains.

The Case Against Pasteurization

Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, damages milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and actually promotes the growth of disease-causing pathogens.

Normally, healthy microbes help keep pathogens in check, but since pasteurization kills everything, a massive void is left and it is very easy for disease-causing microbes to contaminate the great culture media in a pasteurized product.

Pasteurization also destroys many of the enzymes that are needed for digestion. As a result, drinking pasteurized milk can tax your pancreas, contribute to leaky gut or holes in the lining of your intestine, and promote disease—particularly allergies.

All of this makes the war on raw milk all the more disconcerting. There are many raw foods sold, yet raw dairy is being singled out for elimination.

Could you imagine if raw oysters, for example, suddenly became a “forbidden” food? Everyone knows there are risks to eating raw oysters. Yet people do it all the time and feed them to their children.

The fact is, ANY food, if poorly handled, carries the risk for disease. Ironically enough, the vast majority of foodborne illness is actually caused by highly processed foods, including pasteurized milk.

Raw Milk Access Threatened in Illinois

At present, my home state of Illinois is pushing to restrict raw milk sales. According to WGEM news:1

“The FDA estimates up to 400,000 Illinois residents drink raw milk and local dairy farmers say those consumers will lose out if new restrictions are put in place...”

For over 30 years, the unlicensed on-farm sale of raw milk has been legal by government policy in Illinois. It’s a policy that has worked well and with no reports of foodborne illness attributed to Illinois raw milk producers going back at least as far back as 1998, if not further back.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued proposed regulations on September 5 that a number of raw milk producers believe would put them out of business. The burdensome, restrictive rules include provisions that would require a producer with even just one cow or goat to have a permit and would be subject to regular inspections and testing; the rules would also prohibit unlicensed dairy farmers from giving raw milk to guests at their home.

A workgroup consisting mostly of IDPH officials and dairy industry reps drafted the proposed rules; raw milk producers and consumers were also part of the workgroup but their input was ignored. The group wasn’t funded by the legislature but rather by a grant from FDA, the most anti-raw milk government agency in the country. An FDA official who was part of that workgroup stated that FDA considers all raw milk potentially adulterated.

Opposition by raw milk producers and consumers to the rules is also understandable when you consider that the proposed rules would place regulation with an agency (IDPH) that was complicit in an attempt to ban raw milk in the state legislature earlier this year. In March, a consortium of county health departments tacked on an amendment to ban raw milk sales in a bogus bill to amend the Access to Restrooms Act (i.e., changing the word “the” to “the”). IDPH knew of the effort but did nothing to stop the consortium when it had the chance to do so. This happened just a few months after raw milk producers and consumers worked in good faith with IDPH to draft reasonable regulations governing raw milk sales and production in Illinois.

An official with IDPH has admitted that the regulations the department wants to become law would not be passed by the Illinois legislature if submitted as a bill. If it wouldn’t pass through the people’s branch of government, why should the agency adopt it as law?

IDPH will be holding a hearing on the proposed rules on Thursday, November 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.at the Illinois Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Shortly after the hearing, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will begin its review of the proposed regulations. JCAR has the power to reject the regulations. Illinois residents are encouraged to attend the November 6 hearing and to contact JCAR, asking its members to reject the proposed rules. Click here for details.

Raw Milk Issue Goes to Wisconsin Supreme Court

Meanwhile, parties to three different cases in Wisconsin are petitioning the state’s Supreme Court to decide, among other matters, whether obtaining and consuming raw milk is in fact a constitutional right. As reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette:2

“The plaintiffs ‘believe they have a fundamental constitutional right to choose what they eat and to choose where that food comes from,’ food rights activist Gayle Loiselle said. ‘We have constitutional rights to conduct business directly between farmers and citizens without government interference and without middlemen like food processors or distributors.’"

At present, Wisconsin allows “incidental” sales of raw milk; however, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) interprets “incidental sales” in such a way as to limit the availability of raw milk to the consumer as much as it possibly can (e.g., one-time purchase at a given farm).

In one of the cases, a suit brought by members of the Nourished By Nature food buyers club (NBN) and farmers Mark and Petra Zinniker to get a court order upholding an agreement in which the Zinnikers boarded cows wholly owned by NBN and provided raw milk to club members, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Fiedler declared that

  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd.
  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow.
  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer.
  • The Zinniker Plaintiffs' private contract does not fall outside the scope of the States' police power.
  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.

In another of the cases, dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges for violations of the state Food and Dairy code, but was convicted on a fourth charge for violating a holding order when he removed food from refrigerators in his farm store that had been sealed by DATCP during a farm raid. Jurors later complained that the judge presiding over the trial, Guy Reynolds, prevented them from hearing evidence that would have changed their verdict on the hold order.

The judge’s conduct was biased against Hershberger throughout the trial; at one point, the judge admonished attorneys and witnesses for Hershberger that they were not to say the words “raw milk” and “liberty” before the jury.

The Wisconsin court cases typify what is happening elsewhere in the country where judges rubber-stamp the actions of overreaching government agencies interfering with people trying to obtain the foods they want to eat.

Raw Milk Bans Are Not Really About Food Safety; They’re About Market Control...

While the US government, public health, and dairy industry officials say they want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk because of safety concerns, it’s quite clear that safety isn't the motivating factor.

The REAL issue is control of the dairy market.

You might think that, should raw dairy become the norm, the dairy industry would simply follow suit and switch over to producing raw products. But it’s not that simple. In fact, it would be virtually impossible for a CAFO operation to start producing safe raw milk.

CAFO cows tend to produce milk that is unhealthy and unsafe to drink raw because grains, antibiotics, and growth hormones, are necessary since the animals live in such unsanitary conditions. This changes the pH balance and the natural bacteria present in the cow's gut. This in turn affects the natural beneficial bacteria and pathogens can widely contaminate the milk.

The fact of the matter is that Big Dairy depends on pasteurization, and this is why dairy lobbyists will stop at nothing to persuade government agencies to restrict or outright ban raw milk produced by much smaller organic or pastured dairy farms.

It’s really about eliminating competition, not about eliminating a major safety hazard. If it were, raw seafood and uncooked meats would surely be outlawed as well. Another control factor relates to the processing industry itself. He who controls the processing controls the market, including pricing.

Data Shows Superior Safety of Raw Milk Compared to Other Foods

Three years ago, Wise Traditions published research by Dr. Ted Beals MD,3, 4 which reveals that you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods (most of which are processed) than you are from raw milk. If those aren’t reasonable odds for choosing raw milk, I don’t know what is. In his 2011 presentation given at the 3rd International Raw Milk Symposium, Dr. Beals also noted that:5

  • The CDC estimates more than 845,000 Americans acquire diarrhea caused by contaminated food, but only an average of 34 of those cases are attributed to drinking raw milk
  • CDC estimates an annual average of more than 63,150 Americans acquire diarrhea caused by food contaminated with E. coli. On average, just five of those are attributed to drinking raw milk
  • CDC estimates an annual average of more than 1 million Americans acquire diarrhea caused by food contaminated with Salmonella. On average, three of those are attributed to drinking raw milk

Furthermore, “those who wish to ban all milk that is not pasteurized use the horrors of Listeria monocytogenes’ systemic diseases to support their cause,” he says. “They consistently broadcast the high mortality and focus on the susceptibility of women who might be pregnant, fetuses, newborns and the elderly. However, Listeria monocytogenes has never been a significant public health risk from drinking fresh raw milk.”

Citing health concerns make absolutely no sense whatsoever when statistics are reviewed. As of 2010, there were well over 9.3 million consumers of raw milk in the US, yet only an average of 42 illnesses annually could be traced back to raw milk consumption. Meanwhile, there are an estimated total of 48 million cases of foodborne illness occurring each year in the US—from foods other than raw milk! As noted by Dr. Beals in his 2011 presentation:

“It is irresponsible for a senior national government administrator to testify that because of those 42 people, raw milk is inherently hazardous, parents should not be allowed to decide which foods they serve their children and milk should be banned across the nation unless it has been pasteurized.”

If you’re curious, you can check the CDC’s Foodborne Outbreak Database6 for yourself to see which foods, and which pathogens or contaminants, have reportedly caused illness over the past decades. At present, the database contains reports from 1998 up until 2012. All sorts of foods are represented, from salads to breads, pastas, various meat dishes, potatoes, and even beer... So while raw milk is featured as a cause of illness, if we use 2012 as an example, coleslaw, chicken, fish, and salad were still more common sources of illness that year. Yet no one is suggesting we ban the sale of any of those foods “to protect human health.”

The Benefits Clearly Outweigh the Potential Risks of Drinking Grass-Fed Raw Milk

While pasteurized milk have few if any redeeming qualities besides being readily available at every convenience store, raw milk from grass-fed cows has a number of health benefits you simply will not obtain from drinking pasteurized and homogenized CAFO milk. For example, raw grass-fed milk is:

Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract High in omega-3 and low in omega-6, which is the beneficial ratio between these two essential fats Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies). These enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, making pasteurized milk much harder to digest Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live Lactobacilli Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and boosts metabolism Rich in healthy unoxidized cholesterol Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible It also contains phosphatase, an enzyme that aids and assists in the absorption of calcium in your bones, and lipase enzyme, which helps to hydrolyze and absorb fats Where to Find Raw Milk

There are several resources out there to help you locate raw milk and other dairy products, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws, in case you don’t already know what your state’s rules are.

One alternative to raw milk that is now available in some US food stores is lightly pasteurized and non-homogenized organic milk. If your local store doesn’t carry it yet, you can ask them to do so. As a last resort, if you cannot obtain raw milk, or for whatever reason choose not to, you could opt for organic pasteurized milk. At least you’ll avoid many of the detriments of CAFO dairy that way—including antibiotics, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and other drugs. You’ll also avoid a source of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate, as CAFO cattle are typically fed genetically engineered grains.

Important Raw Milk Bills That Could Usher in More Food Freedom

Raw milk is the only food banned in interstate commerce. This makes it challenging for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines. Such nonsensical bans have resulted in an increasing number of violent crack-downs on peaceful dairy farmers who want nothing more than to provide their customers with high-quality food.

Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky has plans to introduce a series of “food freedom” bills; he introduced the first two of those bills this spring, legislation that could be a big step forward for the raw milk movement. According to Massie, these bills are intended to improve consumer food choices while protecting local farmers from federal interference:

  • The Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4307): The bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products, offering relief for small farmers who have been harassed, fined, or prosecuted for distributing raw milk.
  • The Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4308): This bill would prevent the federal government from interfering with trade of unpasteurized natural milk or milk products between states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal.

To protect food freedom and freedom of choice for all Americans, I urge you to contact your government representatives, and ask them to vote YES on both HB 4307 and HB 4308. The Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created an online petition to FAX your message to your U.S. Representative and both Senators. Please take a moment to sign the petition right now.

My Top Five Superfoods

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Seasonal changes come with abundant health benefits, including a bounty of wonderfully tasty superfoods. Eating more fresh vegetables is one of the simplest steps you can take to improve your overall health.

A vegetable-rich diet can help protect you from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, and even slow down your body's aging process. I almost hesitated to write a top five list as there are so many wonderful vegetables.

Vegetables benefit all of your body's cells and tissues by infusing them with highly bioavailable nutrients that work synergistically for optimal health. Some of those nutrients even help you adapt to stress, such as the B vitamins and folate, omega-3 fats, magnesium, potassium, and glutathione.

A recent study1 found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit per day have a 42 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, compared to those who eat less than one portion—and vegetables pack the greatest punch.

Not all vegetables are nutritionally equal, however. If you want your vegetables to have the highest nutritional density, take a look at my list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables. Bear in mind that consuming a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to maximize your nutritional benefit.

In the July 2014 issue of Forbes2 is an article entitled "7 Best Anti-Aging Anti-Cancer Superfoods for Summer." Now let's take a look at my own top five—and why I think they deserve that honor.

1. Tomatoes

The beautifully sweet but brightly acidic flavor of a tomato picked fresh from the garden makes for a tasty treat. But in addition to their vibrancy and flavor, tomatoes—especially organic tomatoes—are packed with nutrition, including a variety of phytochemicals that boast a long list of health benefits.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C (which is most concentrated in the jelly-like substance that surrounds the seeds), as well as vitamins A, E, and the B vitamins, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Some lesser-known phytonutrients in tomatoes include:

  • Flavonols: rutin, kaempferol, and quercetin
  • Flavonones: naringenin and chalconaringenin
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids: caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and coumaric acid
  • Glycosides: esculeoside A
  • Fatty acid derivatives: 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid

Tomatoes are also a particularly concentrated source of lycopene — a carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and watermelon a pink or red color.

Lycopene's antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than other carotenoids such as beta-carotene, and research suggests it may significantly lower your risk for stroke and cancer.

It's estimated that 85 percent of dietary lycopene in North Americans comes from tomato products such as tomato juice or tomato paste.3 In addition to lowering your risk for stroke, lycopene from tomatoes (including unsweetened organic tomato sauce) has also been deemed helpful in treating prostate cancer.

If you consume ketchup, choose organic ketchup as it's been found to contain 57 percent more lycopene than conventional national brands.4 You should always store your tomatoes at room temperature; ideally, only store them in glass to reduce your BPA and phthalate exposure.

It would also be wise to cook any canned or bottled tomatoes as they tend to accumulate methanol very similar to aspartame. However, if you heat the tomatoes, the methanol is highly volatile and will boil away.

2. Avocados

Avocados are nutritional gems, including being rich sources of monounsaturated fat that your body can easily burn for energy. Because they are so rich in healthy fats, avocados help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods.

They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folic acid.

A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition5 found that consuming a whole fresh avocado with either an orange-colored tomato sauce or raw carrots significantly enhanced your body's absorption of the carotenoids and conversion of them into an active form of vitamin A.6

The greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green flesh of the avocado, closest to the peel, so you're best off peeling your avocado with your hands, like a banana. Avocados have the following additional health benefits:

  • Reducing excess cholesterol
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Combating cancer cells
  • Protecting your liver
  • Helping with weight management: According to a recent study, if you are overweight, eating just one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch may satiate you and tamp down excessive snacking

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3. Berries

Berries contain concentrated amounts of the disease-fighting phytochemicals found to boost your immunity, prevent cancer, protect your heart, and prevent seasonal allergies. Berries are lower in sugar than many fruits, so they are less likely to destabilize your insulin levels.

Women who eat more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week have been found to enjoy a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack, due to the fruits' high anthocyanin content.

In particular, blueberries have several known health benefits. They exert positive effects upon your lipid profile, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes. And because of their bountiful antioxidants, blueberries are one of the best fruits to protect you from premature aging. Blueberries have also been shown to alleviate inflammatory intestinal conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.

Two recent studies reveal even more about how berries can protect you against illness. One study published in the June 2014 issue of Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy7 identified a compound in black raspberries that suppresses the growth of tumor cells. Another recent study found that strawberries contain a compound called fisetin that may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.8

4. Cucumbers

In spite of their mild favor and high water content (95 percent), cucumbers contain a number of necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as exerting anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), fisetin, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, manganese, silica, and fiber, and can help your body eliminate toxins. Recent studies show that cucumbers also contain powerful lignans that bind with estrogen-related bacteria in the digestive tract to potentially reduce your risk of several cancers, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate.

Other phytonutrients in cucumbers called cucurbitacins—part of a larger group known as triterpenes—strongly inhibit cancer cell development.9 Cucumbers' anti-inflammatory properties make them useful when applied topically for skin irritations and puffiness, for conditions such as sunburn and puffy eyes. Traditionally, cucumbers have been used to treat headaches and water retention.

5. Greens, Greens, and More Greens!

Consuming a variety of fresh organic greens is one of the absolute best things you can do for your body. Topping the list in terms of nutrient density are watercress (which are really easy to sprout at home), chard, beet greens, and spinach—but adding other gorgeous leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, collards, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, and escarole will just add to your overall nutrient infusion. Greens like spinach and kale are loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and sulforaphane. Spinach provides folate, which research shows can dramatically improve your short-term memory.

Eating folate rich foods may also lower your risk for heart disease and cancer by slowing down wear and tear on your DNA. Some leafy greens, including collards and spinach, contain vitamin K1, which is good for your veins and arteries. Beet greens are even more nutritious than beet roots, which should be eaten in moderation due to their high natural sugar content. Beet greens are even higher in iron than spinach and strengthen your immune system by stimulating your body's production of antibodies and white blood cells, while protecting your brain and bones.

Multiply Your Nutrition Times 30 with Sprouting

Sprouts are a superfood that many people overlook, as they offer a concentrated source of nutrition that's different from eating vegetables in their mature form. Sprouts provide some of the highest quality protein you can eat and can contain up to 30 times the nutrient content of homegrown organic vegetables. Some of the most common sprouts include alfalfa, mung bean, wheatgrass, peas, broccoli, and lentils—but my personal favorites are sunflower and watercress.

You don't have to be a gardener to enjoy sprouting. Growing sprouts in your kitchen is easy and requires little space and time. But if you ARE a gardener, don't throw out those extra seedlings when you're out thinning your broccoli patch—just toss them right into your salad because they're a nutritional goldmine! Sprouts have the following beneficial attributes:

  • Support for cell regeneration
  • Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
  • Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
  • Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses, and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
Boost the Nutrient Power of Your Harvest by Juicing and Fermenting

Eating foods that are local and in season will help ensure they are fresh and at peak nutritional value, as well as typically being less expensive. Summer through early fall is a time when you can stock up on your favorites—although they may be SO plentiful that you might not know what to do with them all! I have just the solution: juicing and fermenting.

Juicing provides an easy way for you to consume more vegetables in greater variety, in an easily assimilated form. Virtually every health authority recommends you get six to eight servings of vegetables and fruits each day, but very few people actually get that. Juicing is an easy way to reach your daily vegetable goal. Raw juice can be likened to a "living broth," as it is teeming with micronutrients and good bacteria that many people are lacking.

When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without needing to be broken down. Drinking your juice first thing in the morning can give you a natural energy boost without resorting to stimulants like coffee. Since the juice is so easily digested, it can help revitalize your energy levels in as little as 20 minutes. Juicing is also an excellent way to get your vegetables in if you have difficulty digesting fiber.


Fermenting is one of the best ways to turn ordinary vegetables into superfoods. The fermenting process (also known as culturing) produces copious quantities of beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health, as they help balance your intestinal flora and boost your immunity. When fermenting vegetables, you can either use a starter culture or simply allow the natural enzymes, and good bacteria in and on the vegetables, to do the work. This is called "wild fermentation."

Personally, I prefer a starter culture, because you have more control over the microbial species and can optimize it to produce higher levels of vitamin K2. For the last two years, we've been making two to three gallons of fermented vegetables every week or two in our Chicago office for our staff to enjoy. We use a starter culture of the same probiotic strains that we sell in our store as a supplement, which has been researched by our team to produce about 10 times the amount of vitamin K2 as any other starter culture.

Tips for Selecting the Best Vegetables

Generally speaking, the more vibrantly colorful the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be. I strongly advise you to avoid wilted vegetables because they lose much of their nutritional value. It is wise to eat a variety of dark green leafy vegetables, plus other vividly colored veggies (purple, red, yellow, and orange) to ensure you receive a broad range of those powerful plant nutrients. The following infographic demonstrates how the color of your veggies can give you a clue about which nutrients they provide. For an extensive review of the health benefits of vegetables, please explore our Mercola Food Facts Library.

Food for Thought

The bounty of harvest provides a perfect opportunity for you to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, and perhaps try a few you haven't tried before. The more variety you consume—especially local and seasonal—the higher their nutritional quality will be and the more you will benefit.

My top five vegetable superfoods are tomatoes, avocados, berries, cucumbers, and leafy greens (with watercress, collard greens, kale, and spinach topping the list). You can enrich your diet even further by adding juicing, sprouting, and fermenting to your dietary routine. Keep in mind that your goal is to consume the widest possible variety of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits to ensure the broadest complement of phytonutrients, which is the ultimate way to feed your body—and take control of your health.

New Report Reveals Which Yogurts Are Healthy, and Which Are Best Avoided

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, about their long-awaited and much-needed Yogurt Report. The interview took place at the recent Heirloom Seed Festival in Santa Rosa, CA, where we both had the honor of speaking.

The idea for the Yogurt Report was seeded about two years ago. I was out of town and a friend requested yogurt, so I went out looking for some in a local grocery store. 

To my dismay, I couldn't find a single healthy yogurt... They were all junk food disguised as "health food." Previous to this experience, I was unaware of how truly degenerated most commercial yogurts had become.

I believe this is really a strong case of deception, so I turned to The Cornucopia Institute. It required two years of investigation, but they've now released their Yogurt Buyer's Guide and scorecard.1

If you're eating yogurt to help optimize your gut flora, you need to review this report. Chances are you're currently eating yogurt that has more similarities with candy than anything else...

Have You Been Deceived?

Most commercial yogurts are chockfull of artificial colors, flavors, additives, and sugar, typically as fructose (high fructose corn syrup), which actually nourishes disease-causing bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut. Since your gut has limited real estate, this smothers your beneficial bacteria and gets you sick.

Sugar also promotes insulin resistance, which is a driving factor of most chronic disease. Virtually all commercially available yogurts use pasteurized milk (heated high temperature) even before it is reheated to make the yogurt itself, and this has its own drawbacks.

The top-rated yogurts are generally VAT pasteurized at relatively low temperatures, and are made from raw milk rather than previously pasteurized milk. While not as advantageous as making yogurt from raw milk in your own home, it's certainly better than most commercial yogurt.

The report also took a look at the food industry's labeling campaign, Live and Active Cultures, which is supposed to help consumers select products with high levels of healthy probiotics.

To assess probiotic content, Cornucopia tested yogurt purchased directly from the grocery stores instead of following the industry's practice of testing levels at the factory. As it turns out, many of the brands bearing the Live and Active Cultures label contain LOWER levels of probiotics than the top-rated organic brands in Cornucopia's scorecard that are not part of the Live and Active campaign.

The report also includes a comparative cost analysis of commercial yogurt brands. The good news is that many organic yogurts are actually less expensive, on a price-per-ounce basis, than conventional, heavily-processed yogurts.

Cornucopia Files Complaint; Requests FDA Investigation

As noted in their press release:

“Based on its industry investigation, The Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal complaint with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking them to investigate whether or not certain yogurt on the market, manufactured by such companies as Yoplait, Dannon, and many store brands including Walmart’s Great Value, violate the legal standard of identity for products labeled as yogurt.

The Cornucopia Institute requests that the legal definition of “yogurt” be enforced for product labeling, just as it is for products labeled “cheese.”

“The reason that Kraft has to call Velveeta® ‘processed cheese-food’ is that some of the ingredients used, like vegetable oil, cannot legally be in a product marketed as ‘cheese’,” Kastel added.

Cornucopia alleges that some of the ingredients that manufactures are using in yogurt, like milk protein concentrate (MPC), typically imported from countries like India, do not meet yogurt’s current legal standard of identity.“

Why You Need Probiotics

Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria, mostly in your gut, which is more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your entire body. It's now quite clear that the type and quantity of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases.

A healthy microbiome is not only important for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, these bacteria also help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals, aid in the elimination of toxins, and are responsible for a good part of your immune system and mental health, including your ability to resist anxiety, stress, and depression.

One recent study2, 3 discovered that yogurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help protect children and pregnant women against heavy metal poisoning.

As shown in earlier research, certain microorganisms are particularly efficient at binding to certain toxins and/or chemicals, including pesticides. Here, they found that L. rhamnosus had a preference for binding (and eliminating) mercury and arsenic.

According to the authors: "Probiotic food produced locally represents a nutritious and affordable means for people in some developing countries to counter exposures to toxic metals." Probiotics also have dozens of other beneficial pharmacological actions,4 including:

Anti-bacterial Anti-allergenic Anti-viral Immunomodulatory Anti-infective Antioxidant Antiproliferative Apoptopic (cellular self-destruction) Antidepressive Antifungal Cardioprotective Gastroprotective Radio- and chemo protective Upregulates glutathione and certain glycoproteins that help regulate immune responses, including interleukin-4, interleukin-10, and interleukin-12 Downregulates interleukin-6 (a cytokine involved in chronic inflammation and age-related diseases) Inhibits tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha inhibitor, NF-kappaB, epidermal growth factor receptor, and more

It's also important to realize that your gut bacteria are very vulnerable to lifestyle and environmental factors. Some of the top offenders known to decimate your microbiome include the following—all of which are best avoided:

Sugar/fructose Refined grains Processed foods Antibiotics (including antibiotics given to livestock for food production) Chlorinated and fluoridated water Antibacterial soaps, etc. Agricultural chemicals and pesticides Pollution Brain Health Is Strongly Tied to Gut Health

While many think of their brain as the organ in charge of their mental health, your gut may actually play a far more significant role. Mounting research indicates that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.5 For example:

  • One proof-of-concept study6, 7 conducted by researchers at UCLA found that yogurt containing several strains of probiotics thought to have a beneficial impact on intestinal health also had a beneficial impact on participants' brain function; decreasing activity in brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation such as anxiety.
  • The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility8 reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.
  • Other research9 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels—an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes—in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.

Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat can quickly alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats.

This is part and parcel of the problem with most commercially available yogurts—they're widely promoted as healthy because they contain (added) probiotics, but then they're so loaded with ingredients that will counteract all the good that they're basically useless... The negative effects of the sugar far outweigh any marginal benefits of the minimal beneficial bacteria they have. Remember, the most important step in building healthy gut flora is avoiding sugar as that will cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial flora.

Surprisingly, Mark Kastel notes that some of the organic brands of yogurt actually contained some of the highest amounts of sugar! It's important to realize that some yogurt can contain as much sugar as candy or cookies, which most responsible parents would not feed their children for breakfast. Artificial flavors are also commonly used.

Top Rated Yogurt Brands

That said, the good news is that there are healthy ready-made yogurts available. Listed below are five of the highest-scoring USDA 100% organic brands, according to the Cornucopia Institute's Yogurt Scorecard. For other high ranking brands, and/or to compare brands, please see Cornucopia's Yogurt Buyer's Guide and scorecard.10

  1. Traders Point Creamery
  2. Butterworks
  3. Cedar Summit Farm
  4. Maple Hill Creamery
  5. Seven Stars Farm
You Can Easily and Inexpensively Make Your Own Yogurt

Your absolute best bet, when it comes to yogurt, is to make your own using a starter culture and raw grass-fed milk. Raw organic milk from grass-fed cows not only contains beneficial bacteria that prime your immune system and can help reduce allergies, it's also an outstanding source of vitamins (especially vitamin A), zinc, enzymes, and healthy fats. Raw organic milk is not associated with any of the health problems of pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps.

To find a local source of raw grass-fed milk, see RealMilk.com.

While delicious as is, you could add a natural sweetener to it. Mark suggests whole food sweeteners  such as raw organic honey or maple syrup, for example. You can also add flavor without sweetening it up by adding some vanilla extract, or a squirt of lime or lemon juice. Whole berries or fruits are another obvious alternative. Just be mindful not to overdo it, especially if you're insulin or leptin resistant—and about 80 percent of Americans are.

Nourish Your Microbiome with Organic Yogurt for Optimal Health

Cultured foods like yogurt are good sources of natural, healthy bacteria, provided they're traditionally fermented and unpasteurized. One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is to obtain raw milk and convert it to yogurt or kefir. It's really easy to make at home. All you need is some starter granules in a quart of raw milk, which you leave at room temperature overnight.

By the time you wake up in the morning you will likely have kefir. If it hasn't obtained the consistency of yogurt, you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge.

A quart of kefir has far more active bacteria than you'd obtain from a probiotic supplement, and it's very economical as you can reuse the kefir from the original quart of milk about 10 times before you need to start a new culture pack. Just one starter package of kefir granules can convert about 50 gallons of milk to kefir! Cultured foods should be a regular part of your diet, and if you eat enough of them you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria.

There may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, but for day-to-day gut health maintenance, yogurt and other traditionally cultured or fermented foods are truly ideal choices.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Honey

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Honey has been valued as a natural sweetener long before sugar became widely available in the 16th century. Honey production flourished in ancient Greece and Sicily, for instance, while animals other than humans – bears, badgers, and more – have long raided honeybee hives, risking stings for the sweet reward.1

Honey is truly a remarkable substance, made even more extraordinary by the process with which it is made. This blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids is quite unlike any other sweetener on the planet.

And while honey is high in fructose, it has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you’re healthy). Before I delve into those, here’s a brief “lesson” on how honey is made...  

How Honey Is Made (Fascinating!)

It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey.2

Once the nectar is gathered, the bee stores it in its extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then passes it (via regurgitation) to another bee’s mouth. This process is repeated until the nectar becomes partially digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb.

Once there, the honeybees fan the liquid nectar with their wings, helping the water to evaporate and create the thick substance you know as “honey.” This honeycomb is then sealed with a liquid secretion from the bee’s abdomen, which hardens into beeswax. As Live Science reported:3

Away from air and water, honey can be stored indefinitely, providing bees with the perfect food source for cold winter months.”

There are more than 300 kinds of honey in the US, each with a unique color and flavor that is dependent upon the nectar source. Lighter colored honeys, such as those made from orange blossoms, tend to be milder in flavor while darker-colored honeys, like those made from wildflowers, tend to have a more robust flavor.4

5 Honey Facts You Might Not Know

Honey, particularly in its raw form, offers unique health benefits that you might not be aware of. Among them…

1. Honey Makes Excellent Cough “Medicine”

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists honey as a demulcent, which is a substance that relieves irritation in your mouth or throat by forming a protective film.5

Research shows honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications, to soothe cough and related sleeping difficulties due to upper respiratory tract infections in children.6

2. Honey Can Treat Wounds

Honey was a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until the early 20th century, at which time its use slowly vanished with the advent of penicillin. Now the use of honey in wound care is regaining popularity, as researchers are determining exactly how honey can help fight serious skin infections.

Honey has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidants activities that make it ideal for treating wounds. In the US, Derma Sciences uses Manuka honey for their Medihoney wound and burn dressings.

Manuka honey is made with pollen gathered from the flowers of the Manuka bush (a medicinal plant), and clinical trials have found this type of honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties such as:

  • MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
  • MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)
  • VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)

Compared to other types of honey, Manuka has an extra ingredient with antimicrobial qualities, called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). It is so called because no one has yet been able to discover the unique substance involved that gives it its extraordinary antibacterial activity.

Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process, which explains its general antiseptic qualities, but active Manuka honey contains "something else" that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.7

That being said, research shows that any type of unprocessed honey helped wounds and ulcers heal. In one study, 58 of 59 wounds showed “remarkable improvement following topical application of honey.”8

3. Honey Improves Your Scalp

Honey diluted with a bit of warm water was shown to significantly improve seborrheic dermatitis, which is a scalp condition that causes dandruff and itching. After applying the solution every other day for four weeks, “all of the patients responded markedly.” According to the researchers:9

Itching was relieved and scaling was disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were healed and disappeared completely within 2 weeks. In addition, patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss.”

4. Help Boost Your Energy

A healthy, whole-food diet and proper sleep is the best recipe for boundless energy, but if you’re looking for a quick energy boost, such as before or after a workout, honey can suffice. This is particularly true for athletes looking for a “time-released fuel” to provide energy over a longer duration.10

5. Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Locally produced honey, which will contain pollen spores picked up by the bees from local plants, introduces a small amount of allergen into your system. Theoretically, this can activate your immune system and over time can build up your natural immunity against it.

The typical recommendation is to take about a teaspoon-full of locally produced honey per day, starting a few months PRIOR to the pollen season, to allow your system to build up immunity. And the key here is local.

This approach only works because it has pollen of local plants you may be allergic to. Honey from other parts of the country simply won’t work. While research on this has yielded conflicting results, one study found that, during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:11

  • 60 percent reduction in symptoms
  • Twice as many asymptomatic days
  • 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms
  • 50 percent decrease in usage of antihistamines

Interestingly enough, there were few differences between the two honey groups (those who took regular honey, versus those who took honey that contained birch pollen.) However, the birch pollen honey group used less histamines than those who used regular honey. The authors concluded:

"Patients who pre-seasonally used birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their symptoms than did those on conventional medication only, and they had marginally better control compared to those on regular honey. The results should be regarded as preliminary, but they indicate that birch pollen honey could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergy."

Honey for Herpes

Good-quality honey offers several topical wound-care benefits that can explain some of its success as a remedy for herpes sores:

  • It draws fluid away from your wound
  • The high sugar content suppresses microorganism growth
  • Worker bees secrete an enzyme (glucose oxidase) into the nectar, which then releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with your wound

In one study, 16 adult subjects with a history of recurrent labial and genital herpes attacks used honey to treat one attack, and a commonly prescribed antiviral drug, Acyclovir cream, during another. (It's important to realize that neither the drug nor the honey will actually cure genital herpes. They only treat the symptoms.)

Interestingly, honey provided significantly better treatment results. For labial herpes, the mean healing time was 43 percent better, and for genital herpes, 59 percent better than acyclovir. Pain and crusting was also significantly reduced with the honey, compared to the drug. Two cases of labial herpes and one case of genital herpes remitted completely with the honey treatment, whereas none remitted while using acyclovir.12

3 DIY Honey Home Remedies

Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture, making it an ideal addition to moisturizers, shampoos, and conditioners. Along with its antimicrobial properties, honey makes a wonderful addition to homemade personal care products. The National Honey Board has a few you can try out for yourself:13

  1. Honey Hair Conditioner: Mix ½ cup honey with ¼ cup olive oil. Work a small amount through your hair until coated. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let sit for 30 minutes. Shampoo as normal and rinse.
  2. Honey Body Moisturizer: Mix 5 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons rose oil, and 2 cups almond oil in a medium-sized bottle. Apply as needed onto wet skin.
  3. Honey Almond Scrub: Mix 3 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 6 ½ tablespoons of finely crushed almonds. Rub the exfoliating scrub onto your face gently and rinse with warm water.

The Organic Consumers Association has also published this simple honey lemon cough syrup that’s useful to keep on hand during the winter months:14

Honey Lemon Cough Syrup

Lemon helps promote health by quickly alkalinizing your body, and honey will kill most bacteria while soothing your throat. This is a perfect choice for a quick cough remedy.

  • Put a pint of raw honey in a pan on the stove on VERY low heat (Do not boil honey as this changes its medicinal properties).
  • Take a whole lemon and boil in some water in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes to both soften the lemon and kill any bacteria that may be on the lemon skin.
  • Let the lemon cool enough to handle then cut it in slices and add it to the pint of honey on the stove.
  • Let mixture cook on warm heat for about an hour.
  • Then strain the lemon from the honey making sure all lemon seeds are removed.
  • Let cool, then bottle in a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.

This syrup will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator. To soothe a cough, take 1/2 teaspoon for a 25 lb. child and 1 teaspoon for a 50 lb. child, about 4 times a day, or as often as needed. Adults can take 1-tablespoon doses.

Is Honey a Healthy Natural Sweetener? How to Avoid Fake Honey

As far as natural sweeteners go, honey does have a place. The main thing to remember when it comes to honey is that not all honey is created equal. The antibacterial activity in some honeys is 100 times more potent than in others, while processed refined honey will lack many of these beneficial properties altogether. Your average domestic “Grade A” type honey found in the grocery store is likely highly processed.

It’s also been found that more than 75 percent of the honey on American supermarket shelves may be ultra-processed—to the point that all inherent medicinal properties are completely gone—and then smuggled into the country by the barrel drum. Nearly all of this “fake” honey is made in China. Some of these brokers will even create bogus country of origin papers. All 60 jars of "honey" tested by Food Safety News (FSN) came back negative for pollen, which is a clear sign of ultra-processing.15 According to FSN:

"The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies. The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others have also ruled that without pollen, there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources."

In their investigation, FSN discovered the following:

  • 76 percent of honey samples bought at grocery stores (such as TOP Food, Safeway, QFC, Kroger, Harris Teeter, etc.) were absent of pollen
  • 77 percent of the honey from big box stores (like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, and Target) were absent of pollen
  • 100 percent of the honey sampled from drug stores (like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and CVS Pharmacy) were absent of pollen

The good news is all of the samples from farmers markets, co-ops, and natural stores like Trader Joe's had the full, proper compliment of pollen, as did organic brands from common grocery stores. When choosing honey, be sure it is raw, unfiltered, and 100% pure, from a trusted source.

Honey Should Be Consumed Only in Moderation

Honey has many healthy attributes, but it is also high in fructose, averaging around 53 percent. Each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, which means it can exacerbate pre-existing insulin resistance and wreak havoc on your body if consumed in excess. So when consuming honey, carefully add the total grams of fructose (including fruits) that you consume each day, and stay below 25 grams of total fructose per day.

Keep in mind, though, that if you have insulin resistance (i.e. if you are taking drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, or if you're overweight) you'd be better off avoiding all sweeteners, including honey, since any sweetener can decrease your insulin sensitivity and worsen your insulin resistance. If you’re healthy, however, eating raw honey in moderation could provide many of the benefits listed above.

How Sun Exposure Improves Your Health and How Glyphosate Disrupts It

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Sensible sun exposure is an important component for optimal health, for a number of reasons. Vitamin D production is one, of course, but of equal importance is the production of cholesterol sulfate.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is an expert on sulfate, and in my recent interview with her we discuss the various ways sunlight contributes to health.

The cholesterol produced in your skin in response to sun exposure is actually a substrate-forming vitamin D. Unfortunately, virtually no one, aside from Dr. Seneff, is talking about cholesterol sulfate.

"I identified it as an important molecule many years ago," she says. "Ever since then I've been combing the literature to learn everything I can about cholesterol sulfate...

Most people are just not paying attention to this molecule. Mostly what you'll see is, 'Oh, yeah, there's always cholesterol sulfate in the blood, and we don't know what it's for.'"

Cholesterol Sulfate May Be Essential for Health of All Cells

What is widely known is that red blood cells produce cholesterol sulfate and that this molecule protects the red blood cells from falling apart. If a red blood cell can’t produce enough cholesterol sulfate, it will spill its contents out into the blood (a condition called hemolysis).

In short, the red blood cells need the cholesterol sulfate to stay healthy and to function properly.

"It's a very elegant concept that they need sunlight to make sulfate," Dr. Seneff notes. "I came upon this as an idea when thinking about the skin. The skin makes a huge amount of cholesterol sulfate. It's the main producer.

Your skin is exposed to sunlight and produces [both cholesterol sulfate and] vitamin D sulfate at the same time. The vitamin D that's produced in the skin is transported in the sulfated form....

When you sulfate the cholesterol, you turn it into a water-soluble and a fat-soluble molecule. It can get just about anywhere on its own. It doesn't have to be packaged up inside a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle, for example.

The LDL particles have a high association with heart disease, and they're giving everybody a statin drug to try to knock it down, which is a very bad idea.

The cholesterol sulfate serves the really important role of distributing both cholesterol and sulfate to all tissues. I think that's one of the really important things that it does. It's incredibly important because the cholesterol and the sulfate are absolutely essential to the well-being of all the cells."

Sulfate Appears to Play an Important Regulatory Role in Your Blood

The molecule in your red blood cells which Dr. Seneff believes is responsible for making cholesterol sulfate is called endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), which has been very well studied.

There are thousands of papers on eNOS, and the general understanding is that it makes nitric oxide (NO). It also makes superoxide, which is considered to be pathogenic.

However, according to Dr. Seneff, this may be an erroneous conclusion, because superoxide is actually needed to oxidize sulfur to make sulfate. Again, while these molecules are complex, and we still do not completely understand how they work, it's clear that sulfate plays a very important role in your blood.

"For example, in the endothelial wall lining the blood vessels, sulfated sugar molecules control what gets in and what doesn't... A lot of important signaling molecules are attached to these sulfated sugar molecules before they go in, and then there's all this regulation that takes place.

When the artery wall is depleted in sulfate, it doesn't work properly. That's when you get cascades that end up producing things like cardiovascular plaque, because there's not enough sulfate in the artery wall. That's what causes the plaque to build," she explains.

Glyphosate Disrupts Vitamin D Activation and Sulfate Production

One therapeutic recommendation to reduce your cardiovascular health risks is to increase your sulfate, which is related to boosting your sulfur level. Sun exposure is one way. In terms of food sources, garlic is an excellent source of sulfur, perhaps one of the best.

Unfortunately, you may still have problems if you're eating processed foods because processed foods are loaded with glyphosate—the herbicide chemical used on most conventional and genetically engineered food crops.

According to Dr. Seneff, glyphosate is a major problem in our food supply because it interferes with a number of biological mechanisms, including enzymes responsible for activating vitamin D in your liver and kidneys. She explains:

"Glyphosate disrupts cytochrome p450 enzymes. There are lots of them in the liver [where they] activate vitamin D. We have a vitamin D deficiency epidemic right now. I think a lot of it might be due to the fact that it's not getting activated in the liver because of the disruption from the glyphosate."

The eNOS, which is responsible for making cholesterol sulfate,1 is also a cytochrome p450enzyme. Therefore, it too is disrupted by glyphosate. One of the first things that happen when you ingest excessive amounts of glyphosate is something called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which means that the red blood cells coagulate your blood.

The red blood cells fall apart from the exposure to glyphosate as a result of losing their cholesterol sulfate. All around the world, people are using glyphosate to commit suicide, as it's a very potent toxin.

"Small amounts don't cause anything that dramatic, but they interfere with the red blood cells' ability to supply cholesterol sulfate to your tissues, and your heart. I think heart failure is a direct consequence of insufficient cholesterol and insufficient sulfate delivery to the heart," Dr. Seneff says.

The eNOS Molecule Helps Regulate and Balance Your Blood

To clarify further, eNOS is a dual-purpose enzyme. When it's attached to the cell membrane, it makes sulfate. When it's detached from the membrane and in the cytoplasm, it makes nitric oxide, which eventually becomes nitrate. So it oxidizes both sulfur and nitrogen, and there's an intricate control mechanism that allows every single eNOS molecule to switch back and forth between those two options.

"It's important that it's one molecule controlling both the sulfate and the nitrate [oxidation] because these two molecules have very opposite effects on the blood. Sulfate gels the blood and nitrate turns it into water. It's called kosmotropes and chaotropes in chemical terms. They have opposite effects. And your body is always negotiating, 'Which way? Maybe the blood is too thick—let's put out some nitric oxide. Or maybe it's too thin—let's put some sulfate in.' It's able to titrate between the two very nicely with that one molecule [eNOS]."

Most scientists are still unfamiliar with this, and cannot understand why eNOS is always found on the membrane of red blood cells. "Articles are written where they're puzzling over why is it that red blood cells have eNOS, because there's no reason they would want to make nitric oxide," Dr. Seneff notes. "It's like carbon monoxide—it would poison the hemoglobin. They think, 'Oh, well, maybe it's vestigial.'"

The reason they don't understand it is because they're discounting the cholesterol sulfate component. They're only considering the nitric oxide, ignoring the fact that eNOS can switch back and forth and make both, thereby maintaining balance in your blood and ensuring that it's not too thick or too thin...

Why Sun Exposure Is the Ideal Way to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

Dr. Seneff is against using high-dose oral vitamin D supplements, because doing so might fool your body into thinking the sulfate system is working when in reality it’s not. Essentially, the process begins in your skin: When sunshine or UVB light strikes your skin, vitamin D sulfate is produced. The vitamin D transports this sulfate to your liver, where the vitamin D gets oxidized by the CYP enzyme, thus becoming activated. Next, it’s transported to your kidney where it gets activated with another cytochrome p450 enzyme. You now have double-activated vitamin D.

"The signal that the vitamin D provides is a message that all those things are working," Dr. Seneff explains. "But if you take huge amounts of vitamin D supplements, you're fooling the system because you've got so much more vitamin D that some of it gets activated... You've got enough to fool your body into thinking the cytochrome p450 enzymes are working properly. That's why I think the answer is not to take huge amounts of vitamin D supplements."

Based on this chain of events, I really believe that optimizing your vitamin D level through sun exposure is the ideal strategy. Interestingly, the cholesterol sulfate also makes gelled water around the cell. I've previously interviewed Dr. Gerald Pollack, a biophysicist with the University of Washington, who is an expert on water. He calls this gel-like water EZ water (H2O3), which stands for exclusion zone. It's basically structured water, which is the type of water your cells are made of.

Electrons end up inside the structured water, and they become mobile. When an oxygen gas molecule comes in, it will get hit by one of those electrons. When you add that to a sulfur molecule, you end up with sulfate. This is basically what eNOS does. It has a zinc atom inside, which has a positive charge. The zinc is an important catalyst in this process, so if you're zinc deficient, your sulfate pathway is also disrupted. Here, again, glyphosate exposure is a factor, as glyphosate causes zinc deficiency by chelating it out.

Glyphosate May Be Related to Increase in Skin Cancer

In addition to all its other functions, the sulfate synthesis actually protects your body from the adverse effects of sun exposure. Unfortunately, many sunscreens contain aluminum nanoparticles – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—and when you add aluminum to your skin, it interferes with the functioning of eNOS.

"It gets into the eNOS and ruins it, because the aluminum will displace the iron in the heme group, which will make the eNOS not work," Dr. Seneff says. "Of course, that's going to cause trouble in the liver, too, because the heme is part of the cytochrome p450 enzymes, which have this heme group that contains iron inside this porphyrin ring. The aluminum messes that up."

According to Dr. Seneff, exposure to glyphosate increases your risk of skin cancer via this mechanism. In a nutshell, there's a strong positive correlation between sunscreen usage and the rise in skin cancer, and Dr. Seneff believes this may be because the aluminum in the sunscreen in combination with glyphosate exposure through the food supply effectively prevents your body from detoxing. Again, both aluminum and glyphosate disrupt eNOS, albeit in different ways. Adding insult to injury, the retinoic acid in sunscreen also suppresses cholesterol sulfate synthesis.

Tying It All Together

While these issues are clearly complex, the take-home message is that cholesterol and sulfur are closely interrelated, and both are dependent on the vitamin D synthesized in your skin as a result of sun exposure. Taking high-dose vitamin D supplements will not have the identical effect, as it does not allow your body to make sulfate. That is why it is nearly always best to get your vitamin D from sensible sun exposure on large areas of your skin. I personally have not swallowed any oral vitamin D for five years.

Cholesterol sulfate is produced in sun-exposed skin by a cytochrome p450 enzyme called eNOS. When you are deficient in cholesterol sulfate from lack of sun exposure, your body employs another mechanism to increase it, as it is essential for optimal heart- and brain function. It does this by taking damaged LDL and turning it into plaque. Cholesterol is being stashed inside the plaque, awaiting a supply of sulfate so that it can be shipped out as cholesterol sulfate. This plaque causes the unfortunate side effect of increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease... In addition to promoting cardiovascular health, cholesterol sulfate is also necessary for the health of your red blood cells.

In short, the ideal way to raise your vitamin D and sulfate level, while simultaneously lowering your LDL cholesterol is to get appropriate amounts of sunlight exposure on your skin. To summarize the function and importance of eNOS, which creates the cholesterol sulfate, it's important to remember that eNOS is a dual-purpose enzyme that makes both sulfate and nitric oxide (NO).

Since eNOS is a cytochrome p450enzyme, it is disrupted by glyphosate. Aluminum, such as the aluminum nanoparticles found in sunscreens, also disrupts the function of eNOS—thereby preventing sulfate production. According to Dr. Seneff, the evidence suggests that the combination of glyphosate exposure and use of aluminum-based sunscreens may be responsible for the rise in skin cancer, despite the fact that people are massively avoiding sunlight. From my perspective, all of this supports two very basic health recommendations:

  1. Get an appropriate amount of sun exposure, without the use of sunscreen, to optimize your vitamin D and sulfate levels
  2. Swap out processed foods for organic whole foods to avoid glyphosate exposure

Pumpkin Chili with Chicken

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If you live in the US, you may regard pumpkins primarily as an ornamental squash, and use them to decorate your home for fall or carve into a jack-o-lantern on Halloween. However, the vast majority of pumpkins are grown not for ornamental use but for eating.

Most pumpkin that is processed is made into canned pumpkin and canned pumpkin pie mix, but you can also purchase fresh “pie” pumpkins and puree the flesh yourself. There is, of course, far more to do with pumpkin than make pumpkin pie.

In fact, recent food trends show that the most popular pumpkin dish – by a landslide – is actually pumpkin curry (coming in at 54 percent of orders compared to just 3 percent for pumpkin pie).1

If you’re looking to try something new for lunch or dinner, and you want to add in the seasonal (and nutrient-rich) flavor of pumpkin, try the warming pumpkin chili with chicken recipe that follows.2 It’s perfect for a cool autumn day.

Healthy Pumpkin Chili with Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground organic, pasture-raised chicken
  • 10-12 whole tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (see below for recipe)
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white kidney beans

Preparation

  1. Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic; sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add chicken to pot and cook, stirring, until no pink remains, about 8 minutes. Return vegetables to pot.
  2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, broth, chili powder, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in all beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chili thickens slightly, about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
The Impressive Nutrient Power of Pumpkins

Pumpkin, with its bright or deep orange color, is an excellent source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (which converts into vitamin A in your body). One cup of pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is beneficial for your vision3 and more.

As an antioxidant, beta-carotene helps protect your body from disease-causing free radicals while boosting immune function. Further, research shows that people who eat four or more daily servings of beta-carotene-rich foods may lower their risk of heart disease and cancer.4

Pumpkin is also rich in fiber, with three grams in a one-cup serving. Fiber can help control your blood sugar levels, improve skin health, lower hemorrhoid risk, and provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome... along with help you maintain a healthy weight and proper digestion.

Other notable nutrients in pumpkin include vitamin C, potassium, riboflavin, copper, and manganese, along with vitamin E, B vitamins, folate, iron, and phosphorus. Taken together, pumpkin provides a powerful blend of nutrients that work together to synergistically benefit your health. As reported in Nutrition Research Reviews:5

“Pumpkin is one of the well-known edible plants and has substantial medicinal properties due to the presence of unique natural edible substances. It contains several phyto-constituents belonging to the categories of alkaloids, flavonoids, and palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids.

Various important medicinal properties including anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and others have been well documented.”

Don’t Forget to Eat the Seeds, Too

There are many different varieties of pumpkins, and those grown for use as jack-o-lanterns are specifically made for carving, as their flesh tends to be bland and stringy (if you want a pumpkin with sweet, less stringy flesh, choose a pie pumpkin.) However, even “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins are typically full of seeds that can be roasted or even eaten raw as a nutritious snack.

With a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein, and zinc, pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package.

They also contain plant compounds known as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants,6 which can give your health an added boost. Some of the many reasons to eat your pumpkin’s seeds (in addition to the flesh) include:

  1. Heart-healthy magnesium: One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
  2. Zinc for immune support: One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral. Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.
  3. Plant-based omega-3 fats: Raw nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA).
  4. Tryptophan for restful sleep: Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.”
  5. Anti-inflammatory effects: Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.7
  6. Prostate health: Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate).
  7. Anti-diabetic effects: Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.8
What’s the Best Way to Consume Pumpkin Seeds?

As far as the seeds go, in order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw. If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled, or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins.

Organic pumpkin seeds are preferred, as they will not be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. However, most nuts and seeds have anti-nutrients like phytic acid that can make all the previously discussed important nutrients less bioavailable when you consume them.

So if you plan on consuming seeds or nuts on a regular basis, it would be wise to soak or sprout them. To make them more palatable, you can then dehydrate them in your oven, or better yet and more cost effectively in a dehydrator. If you prefer to eat the seeds roasted, do so yourself so you can control the roasting temperature and time.

Raw pumpkin seeds can be roasted on a low heat setting in your oven (no more than 170°F or 75°C), sprinkled with Himalayan or other natural salt, for about 15-20 minutes.

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Most recipes call for canned pumpkin puree, but you can make your own from fresh pumpkins (and avoid potential BPA in the can lining). Choose a pie pumpkin meant for cooking (ideally organic), then wash its exterior. Cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds (save them for eating) and pulp, and roast it in your own for about 45 minutes at 350°F.

When it’s done cooking, you’ll be able to simply peel away the skin from the flesh, then toss it in your food processor or blender. The resulting puree can be used fresh or frozen for later use.9 You’ll find it comes in handy for boosting the nutrition, flavor, and “bulk” of many meals. It works well in chili, soups, and stews, as well mixed in with foods you might not expect, like tomato sauce, raw yogurt and kefir, or even hummus.

New Film “Second Opinion” Exposes the Truth About a 40-Year Long Cover-Up of Laetrile Cancer Treatment

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 02:00

Second Opinion: Laetrile At Sloan-Kettering - by Eric Merola (Watch free from Oct. 18 - Oct. 24, 2014) from Merola Films on Vimeo.

By Dr. Mercola

If you are old enough, you might recall a controversy in the early 1970s regarding the compound Laetrile, purported to prevent the spread of cancer. New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was ground zero in that firestorm.

In the early 1970s, America’s war on cancer was in full force, and Sloan Kettering was regarded as one of the world’s leading cancer research centers.

But Sloan Kettering’s Board of Directors swept positive findings about Laetrile under the rug when it became unprofitable and publicly unpopular for them to support it.

Their Laetrile research was done under their own roof by one of the world’s most respected cancer researchers of the day—Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura. One person—and only one—has come forward with the truth about what turned out to be one of the most reprehensible cover-ups in the history of cancer research.

In 1974, young science writer Ralph Moss had just netted his first big-time job in Sloan Kettering’s public relations department, but he soon found himself smack dab in the middle of the Laetrile fiasco.

In July 1977, Moss was no longer willing to lie on behalf of his employer, so he exposed the truth about Sloan Kettering’s conduct at a highly publicized press conference. The next business day he was fired and swiftly escorted to the door by armed guards.

This story is personally recounted in a new documentary Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan Kettering,1, 2 in which Moss reveals the full extent of the Laetrile cover-up, in its entirety, as an insider. He’s also written a book about it, called Doctored Results.

Eric Merola is an award winning documentarian whose prior work includes Burzynski: The Movie and Burzynski—Cancer is Serious Business, Part II. The experience was life changing for Ralph Moss, who has since devoted his career to independently evaluating the claims of conventional and nonconventional cancer treatments.

The fact that mainstream media has embraced this documentary with positive reviews is rather astonishing, and perhaps a sign of changing times.

“Though a documentary, it’s dramatic enough to be reminiscent of ‘The Insider,’ the whistleblowing thriller about Big Tobacco.”
—Graham Fuller, New York Daily News, August 28, 2014

What Is Laetrile?

Laetrile is the patented drug made from the natural compound amygdalin, found in the seeds of many fruits, such as apricot, plum and peach pits, apple seeds, and quince, as well as in almonds. Laetrile is also known as Amigdalina B-17 or vitamin B17, although there is very little evidence it warrants classification as a vitamin.

Amygdalin contains glucose, benzaldehyde, and cyanide. Cyanide is believed to be the active cancer-toxic ingredient in Laetrile. However, cyanide is toxic to all cells, so Laetrile’s overall toxicity is a concern.3

Some Laetrile proponents claim that it’s more toxic to cancer cells than to normal cells.4 Getting cyanide poisoning from apple seeds or almonds is extremely unlikely.5

In 1924, Laetrile was synthesized from amygdalin and promoted as a cancer treatment. By 1978, it was estimated that more than 70,000 Americans had tried it—despite its being banned in the US since 1963. Most people obtain Laetrile from Tijuana clinics, as the agent is still legal in Mexico.6

Dr. Sugiura’s Research

Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura7 spent most of his career at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, authoring more than 250 papers and receiving numerous awards, including the highest honors from the Japan Medical Association for outstanding contributions in cancer research.

While studying Laetrile, which was previously written off as “quack medicine,” Dr. Sugiura discovered Laetrile to have very positive effects in preventing the spread of malignant lung tumors in laboratory mice.  

In control groups, which received only plain saline, the lung tumors spread in 80 to 90 percent of the animals. But in those given Laetrile, the tumors spread in only 10 to 20 percent.8

Then, the Cover-Up

By 1974, the findings were so positive that Sloan Kettering had signed off on clinical trials—but suddenly everything changed.9 The center began shifting their Laetrile experiments away from Dr. Sugiura to other scientists. But every time new experiments even hinted at a positive outcome, the research was scrapped, for ridiculous reasons.

Even the scientists at Sloan Kettering who had previously been supportive of Sugiura’s studies began to characterize Laetrile as a fraud—yet nothing had changed scientifically to negate Sugiura’s findings. Despite the opposition, Dr. Sugiura stood firmly by his work.

Ralph Moss had befriended Dr. Sugiura from the beginning of his employment at Sloan Kettering, and Sugiura had excitedly shared his findings about Laetrile with Moss. When things went south, Moss was suddenly caught in a dilemma.

His only choices were to lie, in order to support his employer, or tell the truth and sacrifice his job and potentially his career. He tried leaking the documents of Sugiura’s work to the editor of the New York Times, but they never saw the light of day.

Ultimately, Moss chose to come clean at a press conference in July 1977, which ended up being the final day of his employment at Sloan Kettering. He was admonished to never set foot in the facility again. What happened to cause this sudden, drastic shift about Laetrile?

Embarrassment Over Patchwork Mice

Just prior to the Laetrile controversy, Sloan Kettering was already reeling in embarrassment from research fraud, courtesy of dermatologist William T. Summerlin. In 1974, Summerlin was supposedly studying transplantation immunology and claimed to have successfully performed the first skin transplant from a black mouse onto a white mouse—quite a scientific feat, as they were genetically unrelated animals.

Shortly thereafter, technicians noticed that the black “pigmentation” on the white mice wiped off with a cotton swab, tipping them off that Summerlin had merely colored the skin patch with a black permanent marker. Further investigation revealed that many of Summerlin’s prior studies were equally bogus.10

Sloan Kettering did not want to be in the spotlight for anything else even remotely resembling quackery, and Laetrile was considered too controversial. The problem was compounded by the fact that the pro-Laetrile movement had been commandeered by the extreme right wing John Birch Society, with whom the center did not want to be associated. And then, you must consider the individuals comprising Sloan Kettering’s Board of Directors.

Sloan Kettering’s Board Included Drug and Petrochemical Industry Big-Wigs

According to Ralph Moss, the Laetrile cover-up really only makes sense when viewed through the lens of “the politics of cancer.” According to Moss:11 “The individuals on Sloan Kettering’s Board of Directors were a ‘Who's Who’ of investors in petrochemical and other polluting industries. In other words, the hospital was being run by people who made their wealth by investing in the worst cancer-causing things on the planet.”

The Board was dominated by CEOs from top pharmaceutical companies that produce cancer drugs, whose interest was in promoting chemotherapy and undermining natural therapies. For example, both the Chairman and Vice President of Bristol-Myers Squibb (the world’s leading manufacturer of chemotherapy drugs) occupied high positions on the Board. Of the nine members of the hospital’s powerful Institutional Policy Committee, seven had ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Even the hospital itself invested in stock of these drug companies. The Board also included directors of the biggest tobacco companies in the US—Phillip Morris and RJR Nabisco. Moss writes:

“With this background in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that Sugiura’s findings did not please his employer. What goes on inside the laboratories is generally of little interest to board members. It is assumed that, whatever it is, it will result in a new patented drug that will keep the cash flow moving in their direction. They were slow to pick up on the implications of Sugiura’s work, but when they did, all hell broke loose in the board room. If a cure for cancer were to be found in an extract from the lowly apricot seed, it would be a terrible economic blow to the cancer-drug industry.”

Related to this is one very telling quote that comes near the end of the film, attributed to William W. Vodra, the former Associate Chief Counsel for Drugs at the USFDA: “Nobody is going to pay $70,000 for a new cancer drug if they can buy Laetrile for 75 cents.” The Sloan Kettering Board likely realized that Laetrile offered no hope as a profitable cancer treatment—so it had to be squelched.

Corporate Greed Knows No Bounds

The Laetrile story is not unlike the Stanislaw Burzynski and Nicholas Gonzalez stories, where potentially powerful cancer treatments are silenced by those whose real agenda is to protect corporate bank accounts. The cancer paradigm is based on toxic drugs, dangerous surgeries, and expensive machines. There's an enormous amount of money to be made in this system, and those who threaten to overturn it will pay a steep price.

Conventional medicine purports to be beholden to science-based medicine, yet it resists and denies solid science-based evidence again and again. Things have not changed much since the 1974 Laetrile cover-up—in fact, they may getting worse. “Science” may not be as trustworthy as we would all like to believe. We continue to see one case after another of shocking medical science fraud, particularly in the extremely profitable cancer industry.

Our current medical system has been masterfully orchestrated by the drug companies to create a system that gives the perception of science based medicine when it is really a heavily manipulated process designed to boost their profits, and more accurately labeled science biased medicine. One review of retracted biomedical and life-science research found that only 21 percent of retractions were due to errors—the rest were due to misconduct, fraud, or plagiarism.

The more respected or influential the journal was, the more likely its retractions were attributed to fraud or suspected fraud! Even the prestigious Mayo Clinic is not immune to this type of scandal, retracting 19 papers from nine research journals due to shady research a few years back. Ralph Moss was very clear in saying he’s not an advocate for Laetrile, but rather an advocate for truth in medical science. An interesting aside is that another laetrile researcher, Dr. Harold Manner, was head of the biology department at Loyola University in the late 70s. Two of his graduate students, Dr. Tom Michalson and Dr. Steve Disanti, were in my medical school class and their Laetrile stories confirmed the details in this story.

Contemporary Laetrile Studies Confirm Sugiura’s Work—But an Apology from Sloan Kettering Is Nowhere to Be Found

The research into Laetrile did not stop just because Sloan Kettering buried it 40 years ago. Many recent studies confirm Dr. Sugiura’s work, supporting his conclusion that Laetrile shows potential in reducing the spread of cancer, although it’s not a cure. Laetrile and amygdalin may also have benefits for other medical issues, such as kidney disease. Here are just a few of the more recent studies that substantiate Dr. Sugiura’s work:

  • August 2014: In a new German study, amygdalin dose-dependently reduced growth and proliferation of bladder cancer12
  • May 2013: Amygdalin inhibits renal fibrosis in chronic kidney disease; researchers conclude it is a “potent antifibrotic agent that may have therapeutic potential for patients with fibrotic kidney diseases”13
  • February 2013: Amygdalin induces apoptosis in human cervical cancer cells; authors conclude it may offer a new therapeutic option for cervical cancer patients14
  • August 2006: Amygdalin also induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells15
  • February 2003: Amygdalin from Prunus persica seeds (peach pits) shows anti-tumor effects comparable to epigallocatechin gallate in green tea16

Despite contemporary research findings, you will find no retraction (or apology) by Sloan Kettering, and sadly, the vast majority of cancer information sites claim that Laetrile is useless as a cancer treatment. Laetrile was a lost opportunity. This type of misinformation is rampant in the industry, and the people who really suffer are those battling cancer and denied access to treatments that could potentially save them or extend their lives. The facts show that Dr. Sugiura was both competent and honest, but instead of accolades, he received nothing but grief because he just happened to step into the middle of a political hornets’ nest.

Sign the Petition Now!

Ralph Moss’s organization Second Opinion has a petition urging Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to acknowledge its positive results about Laetrile from the 1970s. You can sign that petition here. Since being fired by Sloan Kettering in 1975, Ralph Moss has written or edited 12 books and three film documentaries about issues related to cancer research and treatment. He currently directs The Moss Reports, an up-to-date library of detailed reports on more than 200 types of cancer. You can obtain further information about Dr. Moss and his work on his website.

If you liked this documentary, you can support this project by renting or buying the entire package which also includes an additional 74 minutes of 'extras' exploring many other parts to this story here.

Or purchase the DVD or Blu-ray at a reduced price here.

Why Most Americans Don't Own a Bidet

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If you live in the US, there’s a good chance your bathroom does not contain a bidet. Yet, if you travel to certain parts of Europe, South America, the Middle East, or Japan, bidets are commonplace – and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

For those who aren’t familiar with how they work, a bidet looks similar to a toilet but it is designed to help you freshen up after toilet use. Most modern bidets have one or more jets that spray water, allowing you to straddle the device for a cleansing far superior to toilet paper.

In fact, the word “bidet” comes from the French stout pony by the same name. It got its name because sitting astride a bidet is very similar to the position you would take if riding the small horse.

Today, there are even better and easier to use bidet seats (which you can put atop a regular toilet) and bidet toilets, which are like a toilet and a bidet in one (a wand under the seat sprays water).

Bidet seats are far less expensive to purchase and install and although some high-end ones retail for $1500, many can easily be found for well under $100 (with no need for a plumber). For me, they are an essential part of my hygiene.

In fact, the thing I miss most when I travel is having access to my bidet, so I always bring along my portable travel bidet (which is similar to a plastic spray bottle, but much easier to direct the water flow) when I leave home for an extended period.

Bidets are easy to use, hygienic, gentle on your skin, and good for the environment… so why haven’t Americans adopted this form of personal cleansing?

Why Bidets Aren’t Popular in America

There are a number of theories why bidets haven’t taken off in the US the way they have in other countries. The device is said to have originated in France in the early 1700s. At that time, the bidet was basically a bowl full of water, from which you could splash water using your hand.

Around 1750, a hand pump was added that allowed water to be sprayed upward.1 From there, the modern bidet was born. As reported by Today I Found Out:2

The modern bidet that resembles a toilet was developed in the 19th century, and the very popular bidet seat came about in the 1960s, with one of the most popular invented by an American, Arnold Cohen…

In the 1980s, the modern seat was improved with the creation of the ‘washlet.’ Using remote-controlled wands that spout water jets and finish with a warm-air dryer, the washlet is hugely popular, particularly in Japan.

So why don’t Americans use this? After all, if fecal matter got on just about anywhere else on your body, you wouldn’t just wipe it off with toilet paper and call it good. Why should your derrière be any different?”

The most plausible theories for why Americans prefer to be sans-bidet include:3

  • History: In the 18th century, Britons had a disdain for French aristocracy (which were among the first to champion the use of bidets). When the early colonists came to America, they may have brought this sentiment with them.
  • World War II: During this war, US soldiers likely saw bidets in French brothels (and probably nowhere else), which spread the idea that they were “dirty” or “immoral”
  • Conservatism: The first bidets involved using your hand to cleanse your genitals directly. Americans have, traditionally, been conservative in this area and probably preferred the “shield” of toilet paper between one’s genitals and hands (in fact, the US was so conservative that the first toilet flushing wasn’t seen on film until the 1960 film Psycho)4
Are Bidets Becoming More Popular?

According to Kohler, which is the largest manufacturer of bidets in the US, yes, especially among the elderly.5 If you have arthritis or are unsteady on your feet (which means you may have a difficult time showering regularly or even twisting to wipe properly on a toilet), a bidet can provide excellent personal hygiene.

There is also a theory that using a bidet may help prevent urinary tract infections due to better cleansing, and this is another reason why they’re becoming popular among older populations.

But that’s not all. Others in the bathroom industry say bidets are catching on as a high-end luxury… a way to upgrade the last “bastion” that hasn’t yet been upgraded: the toilet.6 Indeed, you can find bidets, bidet toilets, and bidet seats with many spa-like luxuries, from digital temperature controls and “precision” warm air dryers to even motion-activated lids.

Do You Know How Much Toilet Paper Americans Are Wasting?

If the idea of increased freshness and less irritation doesn’t appeal to you, consider this: Americans use close to 8 million tons of toilet paper every year,7 and forests are being destroyed to keep up with this demand. As reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):8

“Giant paper producers are forcing the destruction of our continent's most vibrant forests, and devastating the habitat for countless wildlife species in the process.

Instead of making better use of materials such as post-consumer recycled fiber and agricultural residue to meet the escalating demand for toilet paper, paper towels and other disposable tissue products, these companies buy virgin pulp from suppliers that reach deep into North American forests for timber, from northern Canada to the southeastern United States.”

If every US household replaced even one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with one made from 100% recycled fibers, 423,900 trees would be saved.9 You can also opt to choose toilet paper sourced from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

However, even toilet paper that comes from specially planted tree plantations is not a sustainable choice in the long run, as these single-species plantations cannot compare with the species-rich forests that have formed a natural habitat for centuries.

Aside from the waste, the process of bleaching toilet paper white leads to the creation of cancer-causing chemicals like dioxins and furans, which not only enter the air but also waterways, soil, and the food chain. Exposure to even low levels of dioxins has been linked to hormone alterations, immune system impairments, reduced fertility, birth defects, and other reproductive problems.

Are You Missing Out on the ‘Luxury’ of a Bidet?

Obviously, toilet paper hasn’t been around that long. Before its invention, people around the world turned to their environment for the best ways to clean up, using whatever items were most practical and available. This included objects like corncobs, leaves, and coconut shells to handfuls of snow… but no, I’m not suggesting you give this a try (unless you’re so inclined!).

A bidet makes far more sense and pays for itself in no time with the money saved on toilet paper, and helps save valuable environmental resources while reducing pollution.

When you use a bidet, you may still need a sheet or two of toilet paper to dry yourself (unless yours has a built-in dryer), but that is a tiny fraction of what you would need to clean yourself. This can easily be done using reusable cloths made from cut up flannel, sheets, or even an old t-shirt, too.

The bidet may be making an emergence in the US as a “luxury” item, but once you try it you’ll view it more as a necessity. Most people I know who’ve tried one love it and only wish they’d gotten one sooner.

Prescription Drugs Now Factor in Higher Percentage of Fatal Car Crashes Than Alcohol or Marijuana

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Prescription drugs, marijuana, and multiple drug combinations are frequently found in the blood of drivers involved in fatal car crashes on US roads, according to a new study in Public Health Reports.1

Drivers today are more likely to test positive for drugs than drivers 20 years ago, and drugged drivers are now likely to be older than 50.

Gone are the days when drunk drivers were our only concern—alcohol is but one of MANY drugs that can make you dangerous behind the wheel. And now many people are on multiple drug cocktails, especially prescription drugs, which multiplies their impairment.

In 1993, about one in eight drivers were using more than one drug, but by 2010, it was closer to one in five. The number of drivers with three or more drugs in their system nearly doubled in this period, increasing from 11.5 to 21.5 percent. Study author Fernando Wilson of the University of Nebraska Medical Center adds:2

"Beyond that, we're also seeing more and more people using drugs and alcohol together. About 70 percent of drivers who tested positive for cocaine had also been consuming alcohol, and almost 55 percent of drivers who tested positive for cannabis [marijuana] also had alcohol in their systems."

Source: White House Report, Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009 (PDF)

The Hidden Dangers of Pill-Popping

The study identified several drug use trends. Almost 60 percent of marijuana-only users were younger than 30, but 39 percent of prescription users were 50 or older.

This trend seems to be in line with the overall increased reliance on prescription medications, especially among lower income and older segments of the population. Ninety percent of people age 65 and up now use prescription medications.3

It is mind-boggling that the average person may have taken 14,000 prescription pills by age 70—and this doesn't include over-the-counter drugs! By the time you reach your 70s, you could be taking five or more pills every day, according to the documentary Pill Poppers. Virtually no drug is side effect-free, and drug side effects are often treated with even more drugs, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Even drugs such as over-the-counter cold medications can make you sleepy and potentially dangerous behind the wheel. A 2013 CDC report estimated that up to 33 percent of all fatal car crashes involve a drowsy driver.4

Many people assume that the combination of drugs prescribed to them is safe to take while driving, because their doctor did not specifically warn them otherwise. The researchers suggest prescribers should take more care to warn patients about potential drugged driving impairment—a point also made by AAA in their 2009 report on this topic.5

Polypharmacy—using multiple drugs simultaneously—has numerous potentially adverse effects in your body, beyond impairing your operation of a motor vehicle, and typically a combination of drugs results in more impairment than any one single drug.

Even Small Amounts of Some Drugs Can Impair Your Driving

Use of a psychoactive (mind-altering) drug makes driving potentially unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol. The effects of specific drugs differ depending on how they act in your brain, but all can impair faculties necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle.

This includes motor skills, balance and coordination, spacial orientation, attention, reaction time, and judgment. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):6

"Even small amounts of some drugs can have a measurable effect on driving ability...

It is hard to measure the exact contribution of drug intoxication to driving accidents, because blood tests for drugs other than alcohol are inconsistently performed, and many drivers who cause accidents are found to have both drugs and alcohol in their system, making it hard to determine which substance had the greater effect."

Drugs commonly implicated in accidents include opiates (narcotics), amphetamines (stimulants), benzodiazepines (depressants), cannabinoids, and cocaine. Many people are still under the illusion that prescription drugs are somehow safer than street drugs, but it's important to realize that prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioids—very similar to heroin.

Many prescription drugs, including opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders, come with warnings about the operation of machinery—including motor vehicles—for a specified period of time after use. When prescription drugs are abused (taken without medical supervision), impaired driving and other harmful reactions are even more likely.



Source: White House Report, Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009 (PDF) 18 Percent of Fatally Injured Drivers Test Positive for Multiple Drugs

Eighteen states currently have zero tolerance laws for drugged drivers. However, recent studies suggest these laws may not be making our roads much safer. One of these studies is the 2007 National Roadside Survey, performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).7 The survey found that more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs.

More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs. In 2009, another NHTSA survey found that 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drug (an increase from 13 percent in 2005).8 These statistics are clearly trending in the wrong direction. According to a government report,9 in 2009 narcotics and cannabinoids accounted for almost half of all fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs. The report, which includes an impressive array of statistical graphs and charts, includes the following facts:

  • Fatally injured male drivers outnumbered fatally injured female drivers by approximately 3:1
  • The younger age groups (15 to 24 and 25 to 34) accounted for almost half of all fatally injured drivers (each group with 23 percent)
  • Cannabinoid-positive drivers were younger, peaking at age group 15 to 24, while narcotic-positive drivers peaked at age group 45 to 54
  • Alcohol was involved in about one-third (34 percent) of all fatal crashes, yet among drivers who tested positive for any drug, 48 percent also tested positive for alcohol
  • Driver inattentiveness was associated with 10 percent of all fatally injured drivers but was slightly more common among narcotic, depressant, and other drug-positive drivers; drug-positive drivers are also less likely to wear seatbelts
Prescriptions Can Be Fatal if Used While Driving

In the CDC's Public Health Reports study, prescription drugs were involved in fatal car crashes at three times the rate of marijuana. In half of the fatal crashes, alcohol was also a factor. This is not meant to be an argument that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe, but this latest study clearly shows that combining prescription drugs and alcohol is even MORE dangerous when you're on the road.10

People involved in car accidents are more likely to have taken psychotropic drugs for a period of days, weeks, or months, according to a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.11 Psychotropic drugs are those that alter your mental processes and are typically prescribed for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other psychiatric disorders. Benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and insomnia drugs known as Z-drugs (including Sonata, Ambien, Imovane, and Lunesta) all have the potential to impair your driving.

Impaired driving is just one of the many risks of these drugs. Since 2009, deaths from properly prescribed drugs have outnumbered traffic fatalities in the US, largely from overdoses. Prescription medications are also killing more people than illegal drugs these days. Psychotropic drugs are associated with a variety of serious mental and physical problems, including but not limited to the following:

  • Benzodiazepines are associated with an increased risk of dementia, certain cancers, and premature death; hypnotics such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata ("sleeping pills") have been linked to certain forms of cancer and overall reduced lifespan
  • Opioid pain relievers (narcotics) are associated with an increased risk of depression; the use of these painkillers has quintupled in recent years, and addiction to painkillers has reached epidemic levels
  • Deaths from prescription painkillers increased five-fold among women between 1999 to 2010, largely as a result of overdoses; a 2011 CDC report stated that prescription painkiller overdoses now exceed the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined12
  • ADHD drugs (stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Strattera) have been linked to permanent brain damage, liver, heart and blood vessel damage, heart attack, stroke, sudden death, depression, suicide, and increased cancer risk; yet these psychotropic drugs are still being prescribed to children at alarming rates
  • Antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil have been associated with a disproportionate number of violent acts, including assaults, suicides, and homicides
Alcohol Kills One in 10 Working-Age Adults

According to a recent CDC study, alcohol accounts for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults.13 In addition to alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, the study also took into account deaths from homicides, falls, and chronic diseases, such as alcoholic liver disease, stroke, and breast cancer. The report emphasizes alcohol is the fourth-largest cause of preventable death, behind smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. The report also estimates that the ravages of alcohol cost the US $224 billion each year, or $1.90 per drink.14

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana May Double Your Risk of an Accident

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the most psychoactive compound in marijuana) can also cause serious driving impairment, especially at higher blood levels. Studies in several localities have found that between four and 14 percent of drivers who sustained injury or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC.15 A large study in the British Medical Journal found that marijuana nearly doubles your risk of having a vehicle collision.16

In the 2007 NHTSA survey, 8.7 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for marijuana—four times as many as had blood alcohol concentrations exceeding the legal limit.17 This should be a wake-up call, particularly now that marijuana has been legalized in some states. According to NIDA:18

"Considerable evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences. Research shows that impairment increases significantly when marijuana use is combined with alcohol."

Cannabis and Alcohol Produce Different Types of Driving Impairment

Cannabis and alcohol acutely impair several driving-related skills in a dose-dependent fashion, but the effects of cannabis vary more between individuals than alcohol because of individual tolerance, varying methods of ingestion (smoking, eating, etc.), and differences in THC absorption and metabolism.19 Alcohol and THC produce different patterns of impairment. The detrimental effects of THC are more pronounced with your automatic driving functions (such as spatial location) than with more complex tasks that require your conscious control. With alcohol, the opposite is true.

Some scientists believe that moderate marijuana smokers tend to be more aware of their impairment than drinkers, so they tend to compensate more effectively while driving by utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies. Alcohol impairs reaction time and increases risk-taking behavior (driving faster, tailgating, and passing recklessly), whereas moderately stoned drivers tend to slow down and be more cautious. However, as THC levels rise, these compensation strategies fail. The differences in impairment between alcohol and cannabis are further elucidated by Slate:20

"Real-world data from auto accidents indicate that a drunk driver is approximately 10 times more likely to cause a fatal accident than a stoned driver. Pot makes drivers worse at mindless tasks like staying in a lane, while alcohol undermines behaviors that require more attention, like yielding to pedestrians or taking note of stop signs."

Epidemiological studies show that drivers with THC blood levels exceeding 10 ng/mL—equivalent to smoking about one-half of a joint—are far more likely than sober drivers to cause an accident.21 One study found that blood THC concentrations of only 2 to 5 ng/ml were associated with substantial driving impairment, particularly in occasional smokers.22, 23 The most consistent finding in driving studies is that marijuana and alcohol together pose a much greater risk than using either one alone, which is very concerning as the two drugs are frequently used together.24, 25

Some forms of cannabis have powerful medicinal effects due to their combination of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes, and flavonoids. But THC is also present in medical cannabis in varying concentrations, so if you use it, please don't underestimate its psychoactive effects, and err on the side of caution—especially when it comes to operating a vehicle.

Lesson: Don't Get Behind the Wheel if You Are Taking Psychotropic Medication

The risk of driving impairment from prescription medications has likely been underestimated for many years. There is no way to know how many of the accidents attributed to "drunk driving" have really been a combination of alcohol AND prescription drugs. When you take combinations of drugs, even those prescribed by your doctor, the mental and physical effects can be complex and unpredictable. If you do choose to take psychoactive medications, exercise good judgment and avoid getting behind the wheel.

Worry and Obsession Linked to Alzheimer's Risk

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Are you often anxious, fearful, and moody? Do you worry often or have feelings of envy, jealousy, and loneliness? These are characteristics of neuroticism, a personality trait might increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease significantly.

The association between neuroticism and Alzheimer’s later in life was so strong that researchers suggested people with such traits seek cognitive behavioral therapy to help reduce their risk.

It’s not that being neurotic directly causes Alzheimer’s. However, it certainly increases your stress levels and may drive you to engage in unhealthy behaviors, like smoking, which further increase your risk.

As cases of Alzheimer’s continue to rise, the finding is actually good news, because if you tend to worry excessively you can do something about it now rather than later.

Being Neurotic May Double Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

Women who scored highest on a test for neuroticism were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than women with the lowest scores, the new study found.1

Women who were extroverted, meanwhile, had a lower degree of long-term distress, and while this wasn’t directly applicable to Alzheimer’s, the research found women who were both the most neurotic and the least extroverted had the highest risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The implication is that the distress associated with neuroticism is likely what’s driving its tie to Alzheimer’s, and this was shown in a previous study conducted by the same researchers last year.

That study found that women who faced common psychosocial stressors often experienced long-standing distress, and were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, than those who did not.

The stressors included in the study were divorce, widowhood, work problems or illness in a relative… hurdles that many people must overcome in their lives.

Stress Is Well Known to Promote Dementia

The connection between neuroticism and Alzheimer’s isn’t surprising, because this type of personality is a harbinger for chronic stress. Studies have found links between acute and/or chronic stress and a wide variety of health issues, including your brain function.

Most recently, an animal study reveals that higher levels of stress hormones can speed up short-term memory loss in older adults.2 The findings indicate that how your body responds to stress may be a factor that influences how your brain ages over time. As reported by Business Standard:3

"[R]ats with high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone showed structural changes in the brain and short-term memory deficits… older animals with higher levels of stress hormones in their blood have 'older' frontal cortexes than animals with less stress hormones, thus, stress may act as a pacemaker of aging in this key brain region."

Previous research has also linked chronic stress with working memory impairment.4 Other recent research suggests that stress may even act as a trigger for or speed up the onset of Alzheimer's disease, which currently afflicts about 5.4 million Americans, including one in eight people aged 65 and over.5

Specifically, 72 percent—nearly three out of four—Alzheimer's patients have experienced severe emotional stress during the two years preceding their diagnosis.6 In the control group for the study, only 26 percent, or one in four, had undergone major stress or grief. Most of the stresses encountered by the Alzheimer's group involved:

  • Bereavement; death of a spouse, partner, or child
  • Violent experiences, such as assault or robbery
  • Car accidents
  • Financial problems, including "pension shock"
  • Diagnosis of a family member's severe illness
Normalizing Your Cortisol Levels Might Help Protect Your Brain

Elevated levels of cortisol, one of your body’s stress hormones, affect your memory by causing a gradual loss of synapses in your prefrontal cortex. This is the brain region associated with short-term memory.

Cortisol—a stress hormone—basically has a "corrosive" effect, over time wearing down the synapses responsible for memory storage and processing. According to researchers:7

"Short-term increases in cortisol are critical for survival. They promote coping and help us respond to life's challenges by making us more alert and able to think on our feet.

But abnormally high or prolonged spikes in cortisol—like what happens when we are dealing with long-term stress—can lead to negative consequences that numerous bodies of research have shown to include digestion problems, anxiety, weight gain, and high blood pressure."

The researchers suggest that you may be able to protect your future memory function by normalizing your cortisol levels. Such intervention would be particularly beneficial for those who are at high risk for elevated cortisol, such as those who show traits of neuroticism, are depressed or are dealing with long-term stress following a traumatic event.

For this, I highly recommend the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It's an energy psychology tool that can help reprogram your body's reactions to everyday stress, thereby reducing your chances of developing adverse health effects.

For a demonstration, please see the following video featuring EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman, in which she discusses EFT for stress relief. For serious or deep-seated emotional problems, I strongly recommend seeing an experienced EFT therapist, as there is a significant art to the process that requires a high level of sophistication if serious problems are to be successfully treated.

Did You Know a High-Carb Diet Increases Your Risk of Dementia by 89 Percent?

Stress certainly should be kept to a minimum to protect your health in all facets as you age. Yet, this is only one piece of a complex puzzle. Your diet also plays a very important role. In fact, neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, MD insists that being very strict in limiting your consumption of sugar and non-vegetable carbs is one of THE most important steps you can take to prevent Alzheimer's disease. He cites research from the Mayo Clinic, which found that diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89 percent increased risk for dementia. Meanwhile, high-fat diets are associated with a 44 percent reduced risk. According to Dr. Perlmutter:

"[Alzheimer's] is a preventable disease. It surprises me at my core that no one's talking about the fact that so many of these devastating neurological problems are, in fact, modifiable based upon lifestyle choices… What we've crystallized it down to now, in essence, is that diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and similarly diets that are low in fat, are devastating to the brain.

When you have a diet that has carbohydrates in it, you are paving the way for Alzheimer's disease. I want to be super clear about that. Dietary carbohydrates lead to Alzheimer's disease. It's a pretty profound statement, but it's empowering nonetheless when we realize that we control our diet. We control our choices, whether to favor fat or carbohydrates."

His book, Grain Brain, reveals how and why sugars and carbohydrates destroy your brain, and how to eat for neurological health. The combination of very little sugar and carbs, along with higher amounts of healthy fats is KEY for addressing not only Alzheimer's, but diabetes and heart disease as well. All of these conditions are rooted in insulin and leptin resistance, and the dietary answer is identical for all of them.

If Your Blood Sugar Is Even a Little High, You’re at an Increased Risk of Dementia

Download Interview Transcript

The importance of a healthy diet cannot be overstated, as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that even mild elevation of blood sugar—a level of around 105 or 110—was already dramatically associated with an elevated risk for developing dementia.8 Dr. Perlmutter believes it's very important for physicians to become cognizant of this link, and to stop downplaying the risks associated with even mildly elevated blood sugar.

If your fasting blood sugar is even mildly elevated (over 95 mg/dl), it's time to address your diet to lower it. Dr. Perlmutter makes a very important point here, noting that "normal" blood sugar really should not be the same as the average. It should be the optimal or ideal level. You do not want to be right smack in the middle "average" when the population sample is severely diseased! So what is an ideal fasting blood sugar level? Dr. Perlmutter suggests that anything over 92 or 93 is too high. He believes the ideal fasting blood sugar level is around 70-85, with 95 as the maximum. If you're fat adapted, there's no reason to shun even lower fasting blood sugar levels. According to Dr. Perlmutter:

"It really depends on whether you have adapted your body to burning fat. People who have been on a high-fat, low-carb diet are able to tap into body fat as an energy resource. They've undergone a change called keto-adaptation. It means they're burning fat and they can get by with much lower blood sugar because they're burning fat and don't need to worry about blood sugar as much.

This notion that your brain needs sugar is really old news as well. Fat, specifically ketones, which your body produces by metabolizing your fat, is now called a 'brain superfuel.' There is even a pharmaceutical product; a medical food that you can write as a prescription, which raises the level of ketones or fat in the bloodstream of patients, offered up now as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Who knew? The point is the brain loves to burn fat. That's what we have to shift it over to..."

One of the tools I've found particularly useful here is intermittent fasting, which can really help jumpstart your body into burning fat instead of carbs as its primary fuel. In his book, Grain Brain, Dr. Perlmutter also starts off the intervention section with a period of fasting, which can be viewed as pressing the Reset button. He's particularly aggressive about it in patients who are insulin/leptin resistant. 

So What’s the ‘Recipe’ for Healthy Brain Function?

According to Dr. Perlmutter, fat avoidance and carbohydrate overconsumption are at the heart of the Alzheimer's epidemic. To learn more about how you can protect your brain health by eliminating non-vegetable carbs from your diet, I highly recommend reading his book, Grain Brain. In order to reverse the Alzheimer's trend, we simply must relearn how to eat for optimal health. Processed "convenience foods" are quite literally killing us, inducing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.

The beauty of following my optimized nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually ALL chronic degenerative diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. Other lifestyle factors, particularly stress relief, sun exposure and exercise, are also potent allies against all forms of dementia. Ideally, you'll want to carefully review the suggested guidelines below and take steps to incorporate as many of them as you can into your daily lifestyle. The sooner you begin, the better.

Dietary Strategies to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
  • Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you'll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
  • Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they don't belong. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's.
  • Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.
  • Increase consumption of all healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3. Sources of healthy fat include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts, raw dairy, grass-fed meats, and pasture-raised poultry. Also make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
  • Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or intermittently fast. Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. As mentioned above intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the inulin/leptin resistance that is also a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer's. To learn more, please see this previous article.
  • Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer's symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood-brain barrier.
  • Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.
General Lifestyle Guidelines for Alzheimer's Prevention

Besides diet, there are a number of other lifestyle factors that can contribute to or hinder neurological health. The following strategies are therefore also important for any Alzheimer's prevention plan:

  • Exercise regularly. It's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,9 thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Exercise also leads to hippocampus growth and memory improvement.10 I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations. Also, be sure to do regular walking. New studies suggest you need between 7,000-10,000 steps a day, in addition to your high-intensity exercise, to stay healthy.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed. Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer's through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D (50-70 ng/ml) is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer's.
  • Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
  • Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body. Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, "First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer's and Aluminum Toxicity."
  • Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
  • Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers. Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.
  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Study Warns That Losing Your Sense of Smell May Mean You May Not Live Longer

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Inside your nasal passages are two odor-detecting patches made up of about 6 million cells known as olfactory receptors. These allow you to detect thousands of different smells, and although other animals’ senses of smell are far more acute (a dog has 220 million olfactory receptors, for comparison), a human’s sense of smell is still remarkably sensitive.1

For instance, humans can detect certain substances in air even when they’re diluted to less than one part in several billion, according to the Social Issues Research Center’s (SIRC) Smell Report.2

Your sense of smell is intricately tied to your emotions, your ability to taste, and even sexual attraction… and it’s also intricately tied to your health.

According to some research, your sense of smell may peak at age 8 and start to decline in sensitivity by the age of 15. Other studies suggest smell sensitivity begins to deteriorate from your early 20s.3

That being said, healthy 80-year-olds have been found who have just as keen an ability to smell as much younger adults, which suggests that your sense of smell doesn’t just degrade as a matter of course, but rather may be dependent on your overall physical and mental health.4

New research, in fact, showed that smell is a powerful “canary in the coalmine” for predicting your future longevity, and if you lose yours, it’s a very bad sign…

Losing Your Sense of Smell May Predict Death Within Five Years

Olfaction, or sense of smell, is strongly linked to many diverse physiological processes, and so researchers from the University of Chicago set out to determine if it is a harbinger of five-year mortality.

Using data from a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 older US adults, the study found those with an inability to perceive odor (known as anosmia) were more than four times as likely to die in five years, compared to those with a healthy sense of smell.5

Specifically, 39 percent of the participants who failed the first smell test (which consisted of identifying five common scents) died in the next five years, compared to 19 percent of those who had moderate smell loss and 10 percent of those with a healthy sense of smell.

Why Might Your Sense of Smell Serve as a Bellwether of Your Health?

A loss of the sense of smell was a remarkably strong indicator of approaching death, even more so than known leading causes of death, and independent of known risk factors like nutrition, cognitive function, mental health, smoking, alcohol abuse, or frailty.

Loss of sense of smell was a stronger predictor of death than even a diagnosis of cancer, heart failure, or lung disease.6 Loss of olfactory function is probably not a cause of death, but rather may “serve as a bellwether for slowed cellular regeneration or as a marker of cumulative toxic environmental exposure,” the researchers said.

As The Guardian reported:7

The tip of the olfactory nerve, which contains the smell receptors, is the only part of the human nervous system that is continuously regenerated by stem cells.

The production of new smell cells declines with age, and this is associated with a gradual reduction in our ability to detect and discriminate odors. Loss of smell may indicate that the body is entering a state of disrepair, and is no longer capable of repairing itself.

The olfactory nerve is also the only part of the nervous system that is exposed to the open air. As such, it offers poisons and pathogens a quick route into the brain, and so losing smell could be an early warning of something that will ultimately cause death.”

Check for Zinc Deficiency if You Are Losing Your Sense of Smell

Zinc, an essential trace mineral, is required to produce an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase (CA) VI, critical to taste and smell, which is why loss of sense of smell is one of the classic signs of chronic zinc deficiency. This might be yet another reason why a dwindling sense of smell is linked to impending death, as zinc is important for a number of life-sustaining functions, including:

  • Strong immunity
  • Important component of the enzymes involved in tissue remodeling and prevention of cancer
  • Maintenance of your mood, mental clarity, and restorative sleep
  • Prostate and intestinal health

Zinc is a constituent of at least 3,000 different proteins in your body and a component of more than 200 different enzymes. In fact, zinc is involved in more enzymatic reactions in your body than any other mineral.

Zinc increases your production of white blood cells and helps them fight infection more effectively. It also increases killer cells that combat cancer, helps your immune system release more antibodies, and supports wound healing.

Mild zinc deficiency is relatively common, especially in infants and children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly, people with poor gastrointestinal absorption or bowel disease like Crohn's disease, and for those eating vegetarian or vegan diets. A number of factors contribute to the overall problem of zinc deficiency:

  1. Years of industrial farming practices, such as monocropping (planting large expanses of land with the same crop year after year) and tilling the soil, have left our soils deficient in natural minerals, like zinc.
  2. Certain drugs deplete your body of zinc, such as ACE inhibitors, thiazide diuretics, and acid-reducing drugs like Prilosec and Pepcid.
  3. Certain diets, such as vegetarian/vegan diets and high-grain diets, are low in bioavailable zinc and high in phytic acids, which impair zinc absorption.

If you are deficient in zinc, your body may become less able to repair genetic damage caused by oxidative stress. Having low levels of zinc has even been found to cause strands of DNA to break and studies have linked zinc deficiency to various types of cancer, infection, and autoimmune diseases.

Along with frequent infections, such as cold and flu, and a diminishing sense of smell, white spots on your fingernails can indicate you're not getting enough zinc.

What Are the Best Food Sources of Zinc?

For adults, the RDA for zinc is about 11 milligrams per day for adult men and 8 milligrams for women. If you are lactating or pregnant, you need about 3 mg more. For children, 4-8 year olds need about 5 mg, and 9-13 year olds need 8 mg, while infants need only about 3 mg. Good sources of dietary zinc include meats, oysters and wild-caught fish, raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk.

If you are healthy and you eat a well-balanced diet, you will rarely need supplements to complete your body's zinc needs, and you should strive to get zinc from dietary sources. Taking too much zinc in supplement form can be dangerous, as it can interfere with your body's ability to absorb other minerals, especially copper. If you decide to use a zinc supplement, chelated forms are better absorbed than inorganic forms, or zinc salts.

Tips to Improve Your Sense of Smell

About 3 million to 4 million Americans have been diagnosed with anosmia (a complete inability to smell) or hyposmia (a reduced ability to smell).8 If you notice your sense of smell slipping, and you know you’re not zinc deficient, there are steps you can take to improve it. First, I’d suggest reading through my nutrition plan for a comprehensive dietary plan that will support your health on multiple levels. Next, try these tips that are known to boost your sense of smell:9

  • Exercise: Research shows that the more you exercise, the less likely you are to develop problems with your sense of smell as you age. Exercising even one time a week was found to reduce the risk of losing your sense of smell.10
  • Become scent conscious: Make a point to smell your food before you eat it, and notice the scent of flowers, cut grass, or even rain. Doing this regularly will help increase your sense of smell.
  • Try “sniff therapy”: Choose three or four different scents, such as floral, fruity, and coffee. Sniff them four to six times a day, which will help the different receptors in your nose to work better.
How to Use Your Sense of Smell to Your Advantage

If your sense of smell is working fine, why not use it to your advantage? Through the use of aromatherapy, you can harness certain scents that trigger real physical and emotional responses. For instance, research shows:

  • A systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials examining the anxiolytic (anxiety-inhibiting) effects of aromatherapy among people with anxiety symptoms showed that most of the studies indicated positive effects to quell anxiety (and no adverse events were reported).11
  • People exposed to bergamot essential oil aromatherapy prior to surgery had a greater reduction in pre-operative anxiety than those in control groups.12
  • Sweet orange oil has been found to have anxiety-inhibiting effects in humans, supporting its common use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists.13
  • Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment.14
  • Compared to the controls, women who were exposed to orange odor in a dental office had a lower level of anxiety, a more positive mood, and a higher level of calmness. Researchers concluded, “exposure to ambient odor of orange has a relaxant effect.”15

Anxiety, of course, is only one use for aromatherapy. Other potential uses are varied and include the following:

  • Green apple scent for migraines: One study found that the scent significantly relieved migraine pain. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy so consulting with an aromatherapist might be beneficial.
  • Peppermint for memory: The aroma of peppermint has been shown to enhance memory and increase alertness.
  • Nausea and vomiting: A blend of peppermint, ginger, spearmint, and lavender essential oils has been found to help relieve post-operative nausea.16
  • Lavender for pain relief: Lavender aromatherapy has been shown to lessen pain following needle insertion.17

The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Obesity is a frequently overlooked factor that can contribute to an increased cancer risk, yet less than 10 percent of Americans are aware of this link.1 According to the National Cancer Institute,2 an estimated 84,000 annual cancer cases are linked to obesity.

Obesity may also affect the efficacy of cancer treatments. With rising obesity rates among young children in particular, it's becoming really important to understand this link.

Childhood obesity has nearly tripled since 1980, and one in five kids is now overweight by age six; 17 percent of children and adolescents are now obese.3 Unfortunately, childhood obesity has become so prevalent that many parents fail to recognize that their children are in fact overweight.4

Research5 has confirmed this perceptual shift, concluding that overweight/obese children are now nearly 25 percent less likely to be perceived as overweight compared to the previous decade.

While body acceptance is a good thing, it can also be dangerous if potent risk factors for lethal disease are simply ignored as "normal" in the process.

As noted in a recent position statement on obesity and cancer by the American Society of Clinical Oncology6 (ASCO), obesity is "quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer." To address this overlooked cause of cancer, ASCO has established a “multipronged initiative,” which includes:

  1. Education to raise awareness about the evidence linking obesity and cancer
  2. Tools and resources to help oncology providers address obesity with their patients
  3. Research
  4. Advocating for policy and systems change to address societal factors contributing to obesity and improve access to weight management services for patients with cancer
Processed Food Drives Obesity and Cancer Epidemics

The obesity epidemic is directly related to excessive sugar consumption (virtually every single processed food is now loaded with hidden sugar and fructose, including baby food and foods thought of as "health foods"), and this is also a major driving factor for the cancer epidemic.

The link between a high-sugar diet, obesity, and cancer can be summarized in two words: insulin resistance. Both obesity and cancer result when your body loses its ability to burn fat as fuel.

Sugar also causes chronic inflammation, which also raises the risk of cancer. And, as noted in the featured CNN article:7

"Fat tissue also produces hormones called adipokines, which can stimulate or inhibit cell growth8... If these hormones are out of balance, the body may not be able to properly fight cell damage."

One of the most effective ways to reverse insulin resistance is intermittent fasting, along with making some basic changes to your diet, which revolves around restricting your sugar and fructose intake, and replacing carbs with healthy fats.

Studies Showing Obesity-Cancer Link

A number of studies have linked obesity to an increased risk for about a dozen different cancers, including cancer of the colon, esophagus, kidney, breast, and pancreas, as well as a heightened risk of dying from the disease:

  • A 16-year long study9 published in 2003 that included more than 900,000 Americans found that obese participants were more likely to be diagnosed and die from cancer, compared to those of normal weight
  • According to the authors, obesity "could account for 14 percent of all deaths from cancer in men and 20 percent of those in women"

  • A recent report published in the journal Cancer Research10 projects cancer incidence and death from cancer in the US will continue to rise over the next decade and a half, in large part due to rising obesity rates
  • A recent study11 involving 80,000 breast cancer patients found that pre-menopausal women with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 had a 21.5 percent chance of death whereas women with average BMI had a 16.6 percent chance of dying from the disease

A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine12 found that most adults (just over 71 percent) get 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar. Approximately 10 percent of American adults get 25 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar!

On average, Americans consume about 350 calories a day from added sugar, which equates to about 22 teaspoons, and this is a sure-fire recipe for chronic poor health...

In the JAMA study just mentioned, those who consumed 21 percent or more of their daily calories in the form of sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who got seven percent or less or their daily calories from added sugar. The risk was nearly tripled among those who consumed 25 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar.

But cancer is also fed by excess sugar, so while cancer risk was not assessed here, there's little doubt that your cancer risk will rise right along with your risk for heart disease...

Your Body Has Limited Ability to Process Sugar

The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, you can safely use about six teaspoons of added sugar per day unless you are vigorously exercising. But the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.

All that excess sugar is metabolized into body fat, and leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we struggle with, including cancer.

Four grams of sugar is equivalent to about one teaspoon, and I strongly recommend limiting your daily fructose intake to 25 grams or less from all sources, including natural ones like fruit. That equates to just over six teaspoons of sugar a day.

If you're among the 80 percent majority who have insulin or leptin resistance (overweight, diabetic, high blood pressure, or taking a statin drug), you'd be wise to restrict your total fructose consumption to as little as 15 grams per day, until you've normalized your insulin and leptin levels.

Embed this infographic on your website:

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/fructose-overload-infographic.jpg" alt="fructose overload infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fructose-overload.htm">Fructose Overload</a>." Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p> <pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code>&lt;img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/fructose-overload-infographic.jpg" alt="fructose overload infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"&gt;&lt;p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;"&gt;Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic "&lt;a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fructose-overload.htm"&gt;Fructose Overload&lt;/a&gt;." Visit our infographic page for the high-res version.&lt;/p&gt;</code></pre>

Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.

While lack of exercise certainly plays a role in rising obesity rates13 among both children and adults, it's important to understand that you cannot exercise your way out of a poor diet.

The food industry has responsibility here that it has, so far, failed to accept. It spends more than $1.8 billion marketing junk food to kids each year,14 while paying lip service to concerns about obesity by now and then promoting exercise.

These processed junk foods are also loaded with hormone-mimicking chemicals that further contribute to cancer and other health problems. In short, the current generation of children raised on a processed food diet has a much higher risk of devastating health problems than their parents, thanks to the processed food industry.

The risks are significant. In girls, obesity exposes them to higher estrogen levels because estrogen is both produced and stored in fat tissue. Girls carrying excess body fat therefore have more estrogen and leptin, which can lead to insulin resistance and the development of more fat tissue, which produces even more estrogen—it's a vicious cycle that can result in premature puberty, and raises the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer later on in life.

Understanding the Sugar-Cancer Connection

Cancer cells need glucose to thrive, and if you have insulin resistance, it doesn't matter if that glucose comes from added sugar, fructose, or grains. In order to starve the cancer cells, or prevent them from forming in the first place, you have to eliminate its primary food source, i.e. the sugars, which include all non-vegetable carbohydrates.

In 1934, Otto Warburg received a Nobel Prize for his research on cancer cell physiology, which clearly demonstrated cancer cells require more sugar to thrive. Unfortunately, many oncologists still have not fully grasped the importance of this knowledge, nor do they apply it when devising a cancer treatment plan. Not everyone is clueless, however. Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, has noted that as much as 80 percent of all cancers are "driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells"15

Even in terms of treatment, cancer has been shown to respond to diet alone. A ketogenic diet, which is high in healthy fat and very low in sugar, especially for those who are insulin resistant, has been shown to reverse cancer in many cases, and research shows a lot of promise in this area. It can be very useful in addressing the underling insulin resistance. Once the insulin resistance resolves, a ketogenic diet is typically not required. Recent research16 has further added to the knowledge pool, showing that not only does sugar feed existing cancer; it also appears to initiate cancer growth. As reported by GreenMedInfo.com,17 this study:

"'...provide[s] evidence that increased glycolytic activation itself can be an oncogenic event...' That is to say, the activation of sugar-based metabolism in a cell – driven by both the presence of increased quantities of glucose and the increase glucose receptors on the cell membrane surface (i.e. 'overexpression of a glucose transporter') – drives cancer initiation. Moreover, the study found that 'Conversely, forced reduction of glucose uptake by breast cancer cells led to phenotypic reversion.' In other words, interfering with sugar availability and uptake to the cell causes the cancer cell to REVERSE towards its pre-cancer structure-function (phenotype).

To Address Insulin Resistance, You Must Cut Sugar Consumption

If you're overweight, step number one is to reduce your overall sugar and grain consumption. I recommend keeping your total sugar/fructose intake below 25 grams a day, or as little as 15 grams a day if you have any health problems related to insulin and leptin resistance, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, until your insulin/leptin sensitivity has been restored. One of the easiest ways to dramatically cut down on your sugar and fructose consumption is by switching to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, as most of the added sugar in your diet comes from processed fare. Ideally, aim to:

  1. Avoid processed sugar/fructose, grains, and processed foods
  2. Eat a healthful diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs with:
    • Large amounts of vegetables
    • Low-to-moderate amount of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals)
    • As much high-quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated from animal and tropical oil sources). Most people actually need upwards of 50-85 percent fats in their diet for optimal health—a far cry from the 10 percent currently recommended.

Other ways to cut down on your sugar consumption include:

  • Cutting back on the amount of sugar you personally add to your food and drink
  • Using Stevia or Luo Han instead of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. You can learn more about the best and worst of sugar substitutes in my previous article, "Sugar Substitutes—What's Safe and What's Not"
  • Using fresh fruit in lieu of canned fruit or sugar for meals or recipes calling for a bit of sweetness
  • Using spices instead of sugar to add flavor to your meal
Intermittent Fasting—One of the Most Effective Ways to Reverse Insulin/Leptin Resistance

Once you've addressed your basic food choices, you can further boost your fat loss efforts by incorporating the principles of intermittent fasting. Exercising in a fasted state will bring it up yet another notch. A simple way to get started with intermittent fasting is to simply omit breakfast, making lunch the first meal of your day. I usually recommend this kind of eating schedule, but if you want to eat breakfast and skip dinner instead, that's okay too. The key is to limit your eating to a specific, narrow window of time each day (about 6-8 hours), rather than eating every two to three hours, all throughout the day.

Intermittent fasting is by far the most effective way I know of to shed unwanted fat, eliminate sugar cravings, and normalize your insulin/leptin sensitivity. Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease. Another mechanism that makes intermittent fasting so effective for weight loss is the fact that it provokes the secretion of HGH18—a fat-burning hormone that has many well-recognized "anti-aging" health and fitness benefits.

Daily intermittent fasting tends to have the highest compliance rate, and mounting evidence suggests intermittent fasting can provide many if not most of the same benefits as longer, more rigorous fasts. Again, when you fast daily, you restrict your eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight hour window or less. You do this every day until your insulin/leptin resistance improves (which means your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol ratios, or diabetes normalizes). After that, you just need to do it as often as you need to maintain your healthy state.

Bottom Line

If you want to reduce, and in many cases virtually eliminate your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, I suggest you get serious about restricting your sugar/fructose consumption to 25 grams per day—or less if you're already struggling with insulin-related health issues—and give intermittent fasting a try.

Again, you don't need to continue intermittent fasting for the rest of your life (unless you really want to). I believe that most who are insulin/leptin resistant would benefit from doing it continuously until the resistance resolves. However, once your weight is ideal, and you have no high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol ratios, or diabetes, then you can resume eating more frequent meals until or unless the insulin/leptin resistance returns.

Remember, exercise will not compensate for a diet too high in sugar, and such a diet will destroy many of the benefits of exercise too boot. So you really need to address what and when you eat if you want to shed excess weight and lower your risk for cancer and other chronic disease. There's no magic bullet, but a healthy lifestyle may be as close as you'll ever get to one.

EPA’s Next Target -- American Dentists Who Are Mercury Polluters

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Those silver mercury fillings whose vapors readily pass through cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system? The damage doesn't stop there.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently cited studies showing that approximately half of the mercury in the environment is there due to dental offices' amalgam (i.e. silver filling) waste.

In fact, dental clinics are the main source of mercury discharges to public water treatment centers, according to the EPA, which estimates there are about 160,000 dentists in the US who use or remove amalgam and virtually all of them discharge their wastewater to water treatment centers.

In all, dentists discharge about 4.4 tons of mercury a year to such centers. The problem, of course, is that the mercury then settles into sewer systems or the biosolids and sewage sludge that are generated during water treatment.

What happens to the sludge? Some of it ends up in landfills, while other portions are incinerated (thereby polluting the air) or applied as agricultural fertilizer (polluting your food), or seep into waterways (polluting fish and wildlife).

Unfortunately, mercury is persistent and bioaccumulative once it reaches the environment. And when it is exposed to certain microorganisms in water, it can change into highly toxic methylmercury – the type that now contaminates most seafood.

Most Americans don't realize that there is a simple solution that could drastically cut down on the environmental pollution caused by mercury waste, if only dentists would choose to use it.

EPA Proposes Rule Requiring Dentists to Use Amalgam Separators

The road to a federal rule mandating separators for American dentists has been long and circuitous.

The US is a federal system, so ideas generally start at the state level. A century ago, a distinguished Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, called the states "laboratories of democracy."

Fourteen years ago, Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project launched a campaign to persuade state and local governments to mandate separators. He enlisted state-based environmental groups, plus national groups like Clean Water Action and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The prototype for action was the city of Toronto, Canada, which cut the mercury in water by more than half by mandating separators. Over the decade of the 2000s, 12 states, most of them in the Northeast, mandated separators, as did many US cities, such as Duluth, Wichita, and San Francisco.

As pressure built for a national mandate, the EPA engaged first in political diversion, signing a document with the American Dental Association to do a voluntary system. As any economist or sensible citizen knows, voluntary environmental standards do not work, because it raises the cost of business only for the good guys.

Bender issued a report exposing the EPA plan. Because it was done in the final days of the second Bush Administration, he termed the report "The Midnight Deal." Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich convened an oversight hearing calling more attention to EPA's unwillingness to act.

In 2010, the EPA first announced it would create a rule requiring dentists who use dental amalgam to at least use best-management practices and install amalgam separators. An amalgam separator is a wastewater treatment device installed at the source, in the dental office, that can remove 95-99 percent of the mercury in the wastewater.

As originally proposed, EPA said the regulation would be finalized by 2012. But inaction continued, and it got worse in early 2014, when EPA staff were told the whole idea of a separator mandate would be put on the shelf. Conscientious staff objected to backing off addressing this major source of mercury pollution.

Bender, Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice, and major environmental groups launched a counterattack, Bender by making the case directly to the EPA (and to the media), while Brown launched a petition drive. This campaign was supported by Mercola.com, and many of our readers responded.

To its credit – and responding to the petition that over 13,000 of you signed– EPA decided to go forward with the rule. The rule's expected finalization date is September 2015.1 But we must leave nothing to chance! At the end of this article we ask you who have not yet signed that petition to do so!

By requiring dental offices to install amalgam separators, the EPA expects the amount of metals discharged into the environment to be cut by nine tons each year2 -- and at a very low cost to dentists.

The average annual cost of an amalgam separator for dental offices is $700, making it a "common sense solution to managing mercury that would otherwise be released to air, land, and water," the EPA noted.3

Unfortunately, dental offices that have already installed an amalgam separator will be allowed to keep it and be considered in compliance – even if it doesn't meet the proposed amalgam removal efficiency standards.

Still, aside from eliminating the use of dental mercury entirely… which is the ultimate goal we're working toward… this is a step in the right direction. About a dozen states already mandate the use of amalgam separators, but the EPA's rule will add a federal requirement.

Why Are So Many Dentists Still Using Mercury?

In order to protect human health and the environment, mercury should be phased out as soon, and as quickly, as possible. The international treaty, named the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, requires the phasing out of many mercury-containing products, including thermometers, by 2020, and also calls for an end to all mercury mining within 15 years.

The treaty takes effect only after its ratification by 50 nations, which can take three or four years. Instead of working for the phase-down and ultimate phase-out of amalgam use, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) are pushing stalling tactics.

They say that before phasing out amalgam we should go through a litany of diversions like (1) prevention of tooth decay, (2) research and mercury inventories, and (3) mercury waste management – none of which actually phase down amalgam use, as required by the Minamata Convention.

But no more research is needed before we take action – the many effective, affordable, and available mercury-free alternatives have already been researched for over half a century, and we certainly don't need any more research telling us that mercury is a problem.

And the realistic solution to waste management, of course, even beyond the amalgam separators, is to stop creating more mercury waste – i.e., stop using amalgam. Today, more than 50 percent of dentists in America have stopped using mercury filings.

That's major progress and Charlie Brown's Consumers for Dental Choice played a huge role in that change as when he first started his crusade only 3% of US dentists were mercury free. He helped prevent dental boards from prosecuting many of the early mercury free dentists.

But we still have a long way to go to end this archaic practice of putting mercury in people's teeth (and into the environment). Unfortunately, we seem to have stalled out at around 50 percent of dentists who still insist on using amalgam. Charlie Brown, leader of Consumers for Dental Choice, noted:

"We think the pro-mercury dentists have stabilized because they won't learn anything new and the profits are so easy. They are concealing from the patients that amalgam is a mercury filling.

The enabler of pro-mercury dentistry or of dental mercury is the FDA. The FDA says to dentists and says to the manufacturers, 'You may conceal the mercury from patients. You don't need to tell them,' and of course, therefore they don't."

A Poignant Reminder of Why Mercury Doesn't Belong in Dentistry

Dental amalgam is an antiquated tooth filling material that is 50 percent mercury—a potent neurotoxin—combined with silver, copper, and tin. Your health is at grave risk when you get mercury dental fillings, and the effects can be either acute or chronic. Children and pregnant women are at greatest risk.

A single dental amalgam filling may release as much as 15 micrograms of mercury per day. To put that into perspective, eating mercury-tainted seafood can expose you to about 2.3 micrograms per day -- and that alone was enough for scientists to call for a worldwide warning back in 2006!4

As noted in a 2010 extensive scientific review on mercury exposure and children's health, there is no known safe level of exposure for mercury!5 Ideally, exposure should be zero, so any dentist insisting that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is really doing their patients a reprehensible disservice.

Not only does mercury fuel the flames of inflammation, which is an underlying factor of most chronic disease, it also hampers your body's ability to detoxify itself, which further exacerbates matters. Mercury toxicity has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis.

Earlier this year, Maria Indermuhle told her own harrowing story of getting mercury poisoning from her dental amalgams, which was actually misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis. She completely recovered after getting the amalgams removed. General symptoms of mercury poisoning include the following, which can easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed. If you have any of these, it may be a wise move to get a heavy metal screen test, to check for toxicity of mercury and other heavy metals:

Impairment of vision, hearing, or speech, including light sensitivity Lack of motor coordination Muscle twitching and/or tremors Headaches Weakness Itching or burning Skin discoloration (red nose, cheeks, or lips) Profuse sweating Elevated heart rate High blood pressure Mood swings, nervousness, anxiety, or irritability Insomnia Important Information Regarding Amalgam Removal

For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend that you have them removed. However, it's very important to get it done right. Removing amalgam fillings can expose you to significant amounts of mercury vapors if the dentist doesn't know what he or she is doing. For this reason, it's important to find a qualified biological dentist, trained in the safe and proper removal of mercury fillings.

Biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your entire body, and any medical treatments performed take this fact into account. Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers involved with toxic materials such as amalgams. Some of the things that need to be done to keep you (and your dentist) safe during amalgam removal include:

Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins, and using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors Washing your mouth out immediately after the fillings have been removed (the dentist should also change gloves after the removal) Immediately cleaning your protective wear and face once the fillings are removed Using room air purifiers How to Find a Qualified Biological Dentist

Knowledgeable biological dentists can be hard to come by, so start your search by asking a friend, relative, neighbor, or inquire at your local health food store. The following links can also help you to find a mercury-free, biological dentist:

Take Action: Tell EPA You Support Its Mercury Amalgam Rule!

Why should we be forced to pay when irresponsible dentists who still use mercury could easily and relatively inexpensively install amalgam separators, which catch most of the mercury before it goes down the drain? Until the EPA's proposed rule is final, dentists are still getting away with environmental pollution, and it's high time for that to change. I urge you to take a stand with us and tell the EPA not to let polluting dentists off the hook: It's time to stop dental mercury dumping. Consumers for Dental Choice has created a petition demanding the EPA immediately stop this practice. I hope you will take a moment to sign this petition right now.

To learn more about dental mercury and its risks, as well as keep abreast of the latest news on the EPA's mercury rule, please see the following sources:

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