By Dr. Mercola
For most adults, happiness doesn't just happen automatically. Yet, many of us expect it to be that way. You may dutifully plan out virtually every aspect of your life from your career to what to eat for dinner, and in so doing assume that it will bring you happiness.
This assumption would be incorrect in most cases, however. Because unless you actively pursue it, happiness can be quite elusive. Part of the problem adults have is that, as a child, your parents will ensure your happiness by planning entertainment and making sure you have fun.
Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, a social psychologist, director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Positivity, pointed out in TIME that even in college, your relationships with friends tend to continue to drive the happiness you experienced as a child.1
"But after that, the scaffolding of having a good day is taken away, and nobody is telling you how to provide that for yourself," she says.
And therein lies the problem. Left to your own devices (be honest), your day probably consists primarily of what has to be done, with very little, if any, time left for what you want to do. And that's not a recipe for happiness.Ordinary Moments Make You Happier as You Get Older
You hear a lot in the media about people ticking items off of their "bucket lists…" i.e. the list of experiences you wish to have before you "kick the bucket." Such lists usually consist of extraordinary experiences, like world travel or completing a marathon, but are these really the moments that will make you happy?
One study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that while younger people tend to value extraordinary experiences, as people get older they tend to place more value on ordinary moments, such as drinking a good cup of coffee or "having a long and fun conversation with my son."2 The researchers explained:3
"Younger people, who view their future as extensive, gain more happiness from extraordinary experiences; however, ordinary experiences become increasingly associated with happiness as people get older, such that they produce as much happiness as extraordinary experiences when individuals have limited time remaining.
Self-definition drives these effects: although extraordinary experiences are self-defining throughout one's life span, as people get older they increasingly define themselves by the ordinary experiences that comprise their daily lives."
This is good news, because it suggests that learning to savor the small things in life can make a big difference in your level of happiness.14 Ways to Become Happier
In many ways happiness is a choice, and you can create it by following a certain routine. In fact, happy people tend to follow similar habits that set them apart from their sad and stressed-out peers. If you'd like to join them, read on. These are the top tips positive psychologists have to offer to, as TIME put it, "infuse your days with more pleasure."4
1. Make Happiness Your Goal
It's thought that genetics account for about 50 percent of your "innate" happiness while life circumstances make up another 10. The rest is under your control, and the first step to harnessing it is to choose it and believe you can be happy.
Research shows, for instance, that when people were told to attempt to feel happier when listing to music, they were (as opposed to those who were told to simply relax).5 It was the intention to become happier that made a difference.
2. Know What Makes You Happy
If it's been awhile since you've felt truly happy (that carefree joyous state you probably had as a child), you may have forgotten what it is that gets you there. Take time to reflect on what gives you joy (and not just the "obvious," like your family, but also little things, hobbies, and interests).
3. Prioritize Happiness
If you have an hour free, do you spend it doing something fun? Or do you spend it catching up on housework, tackling an extra work project, or otherwise working? The latter is a "minor form of insanity," according to happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener, PhD.6
And it certainly won't help you get happier. To break free of this trap, make a point to schedule your weeks around events (or ordinary activities) that make you feel truly happy and alive.
4. Savor the Pleasant Moments
People who take the time to savor pleasant moments report higher levels of happiness, regardless of where the day takes them.7 If you don't already do this, keeping a daily diary of pleasant moments and whether or not you truly savored them, might help.
You might be surprised at how much happiness is to be had in your everyday life. Try appreciating the scent of your coffee, relishing in the feeling of your soft bed, or enjoying the sunrise before you start your day.
5. Protect Your Time
There's only so much time in a day, so be sure to protect your attention and time from unnecessary and unproductive distractions. This includes texts, tweets, and emails, which take you away from the true pleasures in life. If necessary, turn off social media completely.
Research suggests that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more their moment-to-moment happiness declines and the less satisfied with life they become.8
6. Think Happy Thoughts
Simply thinking about a positive event, and smiling as a result, can make you happier and more upbeat (more so than simply fake smiling). A genuine smile includes the facial muscles around your eyes, and can actually prompt brain changes linked to increased mood.
7. Spend Money on Experiences, Not 'Things'
Research suggests experiences make us happier than possessions; the "newness" of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and "being alive" both during the experience and when you reflect back on it. However, experiences won't make you happy either if you're only doing them for bragging rights… and not because you really want to.
8. Be Playful with Your Significant Other
If your relationship with your significant other has become all about "business," it's a sign that you need to lighten up and add some fun back in. This can be as simple as sending your spouse a playful text, cooking a new recipe together, or enjoying a romantic bubble bath.
9. Have a Back-Up Plan for Bad Days
When you're having a bad day and your mood is sinking, have a plan in place to lift it back up. This could be calling a close friend, watching a comedy, or going out for a jog – you know what works best for you.
10. Find Your Sense of Purpose
Happiness isn't only about pleasure; it's also about having a sense of purpose. The term "eudaimonic well-being" originated with Aristotle, and describes the form of happiness that comes from activities that bring you a greater sense of purpose, life meaning, or self-actualization. This could be your career or it could be gleaned from volunteering or even taking a cooking class.
11. Socialize, Even with Strangers
Having meaningful social relationships is important for happiness, but even people who engage in "social snacking" report greater happiness. Social snacking describes the little ways you connect with others, including strangers, on a daily basis. In general, the more you mingle and chat with the people around you, the more cheerful and brighter your mood is likely to be.
12. Get Away
Taking time away from the daily grind is important for helping you recharge. And while even a weekend getaway can give you a boost, a longer trip is better to help you create meaningful memories. These memories can be tapped into later to help boost your happiness. Experts recommend a two-week vacation, ideally, even if it's to a locale close to home.
13. Do Acts of Kindness
When people make a point to conduct three to five acts of kindness a week, something magical happens… they become happier. Simple kind acts – a compliment, letting someone ahead of you in line, etc. – are contagious and tend to make all of those involved feel good.
14. Plan Your 'Sunday Funday'
Plan your day off a week in advance to maximize the pleasure it brings you. Experts suggest incorporating PEP – or, physical, escape, and people – for best results. This means, try to do something physical, something that allows you to escape and relax and something that gets you involved with others whose company you enjoy.Happiness Is Good for Your Mind and Body
One of the best parts of being happy is that the feeling of happiness – whether you equate it with optimism, joy, well-being, personal achievement, or all of the above – goes hand-in-hand with healthier habits. People who are in good spirits tend to eat better, exercise more frequently, and get better sleep than those who are not. This could be, in part, because leading a healthy lifestyle helps you achieve your goals, leading to happiness.
It could also be that such habits lead to better health, which in turn lends itself to a better mood and happiness. Positive thoughts and attitudes are able to prompt changes in your body that strengthen your immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and chronic disease, and provide stress relief. It's even been scientifically shown that happiness can alter your genes!
A team of researchers at UCLA showed that people with a deep sense of happiness and well-being had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger antiviral and antibody responses.9 This falls into the realm of epigenetics—changing the way your genes function by turning them off and on. So try out the happiness tips above. You don't have to do them all, of course. Even a few will likely make a difference in your feelings of happiness and also, as a result, boost your physical health.
American Meat Production Uses More Antibiotics Than Ever, Despite Growing Threat of Antibiotic-Resistant Disease in Consumers
By Dr. Mercola
The featured Frontline News documentary investigates the roots and ramifications of the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. The US uses nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise food animals.1, 2 This accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US.3
The ramifications of this routine practice can be seen in hospital wards across the nation, as it is one, if not the primary driver of antibiotic-resistant disease in humans.
According to CDC statistics,4 two million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a result of those infections.
In my view, this is a very compelling reason to switch to organic, grass-fed (pastured) varieties, as growth promoting drugs such as antibiotics are not permitted in organic farming.Large-Scale Agriculture and Hospitals Breed Drug-Resistant Superbugs
One organism alone—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—now kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide.5
The victims include young, otherwise healthy people, raising suspicions that the MRSA infections originate from the food they eat. Drug-resistant tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, and gonorrhea are also on the rise.
As reported by Frontline, researchers have found that people living close to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also suffer drug-resistant infections at much higher rates than others, again suggesting that antibiotic-resistant bacteria originate from large-scale agriculture.
Hospitals have traditionally been the primary source of dangerous infections. At present, one in 25 patients end up with a hospital-acquired infection, and many of these infections are drug resistant.
But it’s the use of antibiotics in agriculture that breeds these hardy bacteria most efficiently. And by allowing this practice to continue, simple infections will become increasingly lethal, and even minor routine surgeries become exceedingly risky.
One of the most prestigious research hospitals in the US recently struggled with an outbreak of a highly lethal antibiotic-resistant superbug, Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC), which spread from one patient to another in a highly complex and in some cases untraceable pattern.6 What’s worse, many of these bacteria, including KPC, have developed resistance to multiple drugs.
A 2013 paper by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) titled “Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens,”7 report that between 1973 and 2011, there were 55 antibiotic-resistant foodborne outbreaks in the US. More than half of these outbreaks involved pathogens resistant to five or more antibiotics!Meat Is Frequently Tainted with Drug-Resistant Bacteria
Large scale meat production is a primary breeding ground of drug-resistant bacteria, as low doses of antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock to promote growth and compensate for unsanitary living conditions. Previous research8 has suggested you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when shopping at your local grocery store.
Frontline also reports that meat may be a source of potentially lethal infections—not simply because you’re eating antibiotics and therefore building resistance, but because the meat is tainted with drug-resistant bacteria that can cause disease if the meat is improperly handled or undercooked.
One example given is drug-resistant urinary infections, which are on the rise. If the antibiotics fail to wipe out the bacteria, the infection can progress to your kidneys, which allows the bacteria access to your blood. The result is sepsis, which kills 40,000 Americans each year.
Using state of the art genome sequencing, researchers were able to compare E.coli samples found on supermarket meat with E.coli samples collected from patients with drug-resistant urinary tract infections. In this way, they were able to genetically link more than 100 urinary tract infections to tainted supermarket meat products.When Greed Trumps Human Welfare, Tragedy Is Sure to Follow
It’s frustrating to realize that voices of reason were ignored several decades ago, allowing for our current nightmare to emerge. As far back as 1977, then-commissioner of the FDA Donald Kennedy, a Stanford University biology professor, wanted to reduce the use of antibiotics in healthy livestock because it would likely to give rise to drug resistance that might threaten the human population.
As reported by the Washington Post:9
“Kennedy’s proposal ran into a wall of opposition. The Texas Farm Bureau warned of ‘a devastating effect on animal agriculture.’ The Mississippi Pork Producers Association said it would cause ‘a tremendous economic blow to our industry.’
The National Broiler Council said it would set an ‘ultimately disastrous precedent.’ The National Turkey Federation said it was based on 'flimsy scientific evidence.'
Then came the final verdict: Congress told Kennedy to stand down. His proposal was shelved, largely at the behest of the farmers and their powerful champion in the House, Rep. Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.).”Industry Is Still Looking Out for Itself at Your Expense
When it comes to protecting business at any cost, nothing has changed in the past four decades. In response to the featured Frontline documentary, the livestock industry went into overdrive to cover up the attention.
"’The industry will tie any consumer searches for 'PBS Frontline' and 'Antibiotics' to the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance site, Food Source,’ the email stated. ‘Included in these searches will be the terms 'pork, antibiotics and Frontline.' In those cases, users will be directed to the National Pork Board and [National Pork Producers Council] NPPC site PorkCares.org.’"Political Paralysis and Industry Greed Is Killing Thousands Each Year
Despite evidence showing that agricultural antibiotics create drug resistance that could end up killing people, very little is being done to curtail the situation. After years of prodding, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally issued updated guidance on agricultural antibiotics on December 11, 2013,12 but all it did was ask drug companies to voluntarily restrict the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine by excluding ‘growth promotion in animals’ as a listed use on the drug label.13
Reaffirming the US government’s unwillingness to act against industry interests, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recently announced a five-year plan to address antibiotic resistance.14 A five-year plan is simply too little, too late. We don’t have that kind of time to waste. For each year we delay affirmative action, tens of thousands of Americans die, and the resistance problem keeps growing.
The industry is fond of pointing out the lack of proof directly connecting the antibiotics used in livestock to human disease outbreaks. This is by careful design to deceive you. The industry is not required to collect or report usage data. And without data on how and when drugs are used, such direct connections are very difficult to prove. That said, as shown in Frontline’s documentary, genetic genome sequencing can and does provide compelling evidence for claims that that some drug-resistant infections are caused by bacteria found on supermarket meats—directly linking the act of consuming tainted meats with the contraction of a drug-resistant infection.
When asked why we don’t we have information on antibiotic usage in livestock after more than four decades of use, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s beyond lame excuse was that they’re still trying to figure out what kind of data is needed... In the video, she also notes that the FDA believes this voluntary approach is going to be the most effective and speedy way to eliminate antibiotics for growth promotion purposes. This is the same woman who received more than a million dollars from the largest seller of mercury to dentists and then overrode legislation that would limit mercury sales.
The meat industries have agreed to reduce usage, but if no data is collected to verify which drugs are being reduced, and by how much, how can the FDA possibly ascertain the effectiveness of their approach? So far, promptings to reduce usage appears to have fallen on deaf ears. According to the most recent FDA report, antibiotic usage actually INCREASED by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, and nearly 70 percent of the antibiotics used are considered “medically important” for humans…15Probiotics Might Save the Day
With antibiotics falling by the wayside, finding new remedies to fight infections is becoming critically important. Fecal transplant, in which donor feces from a healthy person are transplanted into a patient, is one novel option that is starting to gain more widespread acceptance. For example, fecal transplants have been shown to lead to rapid resolution of symptoms in 98 percent of patients with Clostridium difficile who don’t respond to multiple previous treatments. Frozen capsules containing fecal bacteria from healthy donors are another, less invasive way to “transplant” healthy bacteria into an ailing patient. As reported by NPR:16
“Twenty people with recurrent C. diff infections took 15 pills a day, about the size of a large multivitamin, for two days. Fourteen of them were free of diarrhea almost immediately, with no recurrences. The other six tried the treatment again; that did the trick for four of them. The two people who failed to get results were in poorer health overall, the study17 found. But the treatment worked for people from age 11 to age 89. The Mass General group has since treated another 21 people with the pills, with similar success.”
While I believe fecal transplantation can be lifesaving in some circumstances, I want to make it clear that you will likely never have to resort to receiving donated feces if you address your gut health on a daily basis—by avoiding factors that kill off your beneficial gut bacteria, and continuously “reseeding” your gut through a healthy diet. That includes avoiding sugars, all processed foods and meats from CAFOs, which may contain antibiotic residues, and may be tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria to boot.
Also, any time you take an antibiotic, it is important to take probiotics to repopulate the beneficial bacteria in your gut that are killed by the antibiotic right along with the pathogenic bacteria. If you don’t, you’re leaving the door wide open for further health problems.Avoiding Antibiotics in Your Food Is an Important Safety Aspect
My suggestion to you is: don’t wait for the government to implement an action agenda. Instead, take decisive action for yourself and your own family. Seek out trusted sources of food that do not use antibiotic pesticides and/or antibiotic growth promoters. Many small farmers use organic principles even if they have not been able to afford organic certification, so your local farmer is a good place to start. Some grocery chains also offer 100% grass-fed meats these days.
If not, ask them to start carrying it. I’ve also made connections with sources I know provide high-quality organic grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, both of which you can find in my online store. I believe the strongest message you can send is to change how you spend your food dollars. And by opting for antibiotic-free, pasture raised and finished meats, you’re actively supporting farmers who are not contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistance.How to Find Organic Foods Locally
Your best bet for finding healthy food is to connect with a local farmer that raises animals according to organic standards, allowing them to roam freely on pasture. In the US, the following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods:Weston Price Foundation18 has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter. Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms. FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
By Dr. Mercola
Obesity is associated with a significant number of health problems, including insulin resistance, cancer, and others, and now researchers may have uncovered a reason why. While most of your tissues and organs age at the same rate, certain factors may cause aging to accelerate.
For this reason, you may be “older” than your chronological age indicates, or certain organs may be more aged than others – a measure known as “epigenetic age.” One such factor linked to an acceleration of epigenetic aging is obesity, particularly in your liver.Obesity Accelerates Aging in Your Liver
If you’re obese, new research found, your liver may be aging faster than the rest of your body, putting you at risk of chronic disease. For each increase in 10 body mass index (BMI) units, the epigenetic age of the liver grew by 3.3 years.1
Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics and biostatistics at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, explained:2
"Assume there is a man who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 130 pounds. This slender man would have a body mass index of 20… Compare him to a man of the same age and height who weighs 230 pounds. The liver of this obese man -- who has a BMI of 35 -- would probably be five years older than that of the slender man."
Obesity surgery had no apparent effect on the age of the liver, even when it resulted in rapid weight loss. Further, obesity did not appear to impact aging in fat, muscle, or blood – only the liver.
Hovath and colleagues were able to measure the precise epigenetic age of liver samples using an “epigenetic clock” that Hovath developed. It’s based on DNA methylation—a process by which a methyl group (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) is added to part of a DNA molecule.
DNA methylation is a crucial part of normal cell function, allowing cells to "remember who they are and where they have been" and is important in regulating gene expression.
DNA methylation also suppresses the genes for things you don't want, such as viral and other disease-related genes, and abnormal DNA methylation plays a critical role in the development of nearly all types of cancer.The Fructose Connection: How It Causes Both Obesity and Liver Damage
The reason obesity might accelerate aging in your liver could have to do with an underlying cause of both weight gain and liver damage: fructose. You may already be aware that fructose – the sugar found in everything from high fructose corn syrup and fruit juice to agave syrup and honey – is harmful when consumed in excess.
This is precisely what most Americans do. However, you may be surprised to learn that fructose is, in many ways, very similar to alcohol in the damage that it can do to your body… and your liver.
Unlike glucose, which can be used by virtually every cell in your body, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it.3
Since nearly all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, and, if you eat a typical Western-style diet, you consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regard to the metabolic havoc it wreaks.
According to Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, fructose is a "chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin." And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – not cellular energy, like glucose.
His findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,4 where Dr. Lustig explained the three similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct, ethanol (alcohol):
- Your liver's metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream), and fatty liver
- Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol
- By "stimulating the 'hedonic pathway' of the brain both directly and indirectly," Dr. Lustig noted, "fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol"
Fructose not only damages your liver; it’s also a leading cause fueling the obesity epidemic in both adults and children. In order for you to significantly gain weight, you must first become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that helps you regulate your appetite. When your leptin levels rise, it signals your body that you’re full, so you’ll stop eating.
However, as you become increasingly resistant to the effects of leptin, you end up eating more. Many people who are overweight also have an impairment in their body’s ability to oxidize fat, which leads to a low-energy state. The question then is: what drives this basic process? Why do you become leptin resistant in the first place?
Dr. Richard Johnson is the head of nephrology at the University of Colorado and is actively engaged in clinical research. Over the past 25 years, much of his research (which is funded by the National Institutes of Health) has focused on fructose and obesity-related diseases.
His hypothesis is that, rather than being driven by eating too many calories and lack of exercise, obesity is primarily driven by eating too much refined sugar, particularly fructose.
Dr. Johnson’s research clearly shows that refined sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance in animals, and it’s very effective at blocking the burning of fat.
“When you give fructose to animals, they lose their ability to control their appetite, they eat more, and they exercise less. Fructose looks like it’s playing a direct role in weight gain,” he says.
His research also reveals that fructose has effects independent of this mechanism to induce this metabolic syndrome. Whereas fructose increases weight through the standard mechanism of stimulating more food intake and blocking the burning of fat, even when you control caloric intake, fructose can affect body composition.
This is because when you eat fructose, you actually generate more fat in your liver for the same amount of energy intake, compared to other types of sugar... For example, if you calorically restrict an animal but give it a high-fructose diet or a high-sugar diet, it will still produce fatty liver and will still become insulin resistant. According to Dr. Johnson, fructose has two effects:
- It stimulates weight gain through its effects on your appetite and by blocking the burning of fat
- It also changes your body composition to increase body fat even when you are on a caloric restriction
Four out of five Americans have insulin and leptin resistance. This also includes people who are overweight, diabetic, hypertensive, or taking a statin drug. If you fall into this category, it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources.
Those who are normal weight and relatively healthy may also benefit from reducing their intake of fructose, particularly from foods containing high fructose corn syrup or sugar, as the effects of high sugar and HFCS intake may have effects that build up over time.
Fruits also have fructose but contain many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. For someone who is obese, one has to be careful with eating fruits that have substantial fructose content. Some fruits, such as lemons and limes, have minimal fructose content and are safe. Other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi, and berries, also have relatively low fructose content and high levels of nutrients. However, fruit juices, dried fruits, and some fruits that are rich in fructose (such as pears, red apples, and plums) should be eaten relatively sparingly.
According to Dr. Johnson, if you exercise regularly, a small amount of fructose can actually be quite beneficial, because the fructose will accelerate glucose absorption in your gut and improve muscle performance. But it really depends on how your body metabolizes the fructose. Your body normally cannot absorb fructose well. But the more fructose you eat, the more the transporters that allow for fructose uptake in your gut are turned on. Hence, the more fructose your body will absorb. Lean children, for instance, tend to only absorb about half of the fructose they consume, whereas obese children who have fatty liver disease absorb close to 100 percent. This may further explain the featured finding that obesity is linked to accelerated aging in your liver.The 19 Best Foods for Your Liver
If you’re overweight or obese, in addition to losing weight you may want to focus on including more liver-protective foods in your diet. A first step would be to be sure you’re drinking enough water, which will help flush toxins and waste products from your body. A general guide is to drink enough water so that your urine is pale yellow in color. As for foods, the right combination of nutrients will help keep your liver functioning optimally. Some of the best foods for your liver have been compiled by Rodale News and are listed below:5Fermented foods: Fermented foods like cultured vegetables provide your body with beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and provide detoxification support. The fermented food kimchi, for instance, has been found to help your body break down pesticides. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, and daikon): These help your liver neutralize toxins, including chemicals, pesticides, medications, and carcinogens. Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and dandelion greens): These contain rich amounts of sulfur, which helps your liver with detoxification. Dandelion greens in particular are known for supporting liver detoxification and health. Sea vegetables: Various types of seaweed and brown algae also support detoxification and may also help prevent your body from absorbing heavy metals and other environmental toxins. Be sure the sea vegetables come from a non-polluted water source. Sprouts: Sprouts contain high levels of enzymes that serve as catalysts for important body functions. Recent research suggests that broccoli sprouts may help your body detox environmental pollutants such as benzene.6 From my perspective, broccoli, watercress, and sunflower sprouts are foods that virtually everyone can and would benefit from growing. Garlic, onions, shallots, and leeks: These foods are rich in sulfur, including the sulfur-based compound allicin, which is critical for liver detoxification. Organic, pastured eggs: Eggs are a high-quality source of protein that includes all eight essential amino acids. Your liver needs these to help detoxify your body. Choline, found in egg yolks, also helps protect your liver from toxins. Artichokes: These contain cynarin and silymarin, which support liver health. Mushrooms: Maitake, shiitake, and reishi mushrooms are known for their potent immunosupportive agents and also contain L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant to help neutralize free radicals. Berries: Berries are rich in phytochemicals, including anthocyanin, which might inhibit the proliferation of liver cancer cells. Coconut oil: This healthy saturated fat is so easy for your body to digest that no pancreatic fat-digesting enzymes are needed. This puts less stress on your liver and helps it function optimally. Avocados: These contain healthy monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, and glutathione, which is important for liver health. Organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil: High-quality olive oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds that help your liver decrease oxidative stress in your body (consume this oil unheated). Flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds: These contain plant-based omega-3 fats to fight inflammation along with healthy fiber. Herbs: Many herbs support liver detoxification and function. This includes ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, fennel, and turmeric (curcumin). Organic, grass-fed meat: By avoiding meat raised on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and instead choosing grass-fed meat exclusively, you’ll help avoid pesticides, chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics that further tax your liver. Wild-caught sardines, anchovies, and salmon: These provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. You can also find these in krill oil. Whey protein powder: Whey protein provides the amino acids necessary for glutathione production, which is essential for liver protection and function. Choose organic whey protein from grass-fed cows. Spirulina: This blue-green algae is a potent detoxifier. Animal studies suggest spirulina can also protect your liver, probably as a result of its high antioxidant properties and its ability to synthesize or release nitric oxide. Is Coffee Beneficial for Your Liver?
Coffee has earned a negative reputation due to its caffeine content, but accumulating research suggests it may have beneficial effects, especially on your liver. One recent study revealed that people who drink three cups of coffee a day were 25 percent less likely to have abnormal liver enzyme levels than those who drank none,7 and this was true whether the coffee was caffeinated or not.8 Other research found that drinking two or more cups of coffee a day may reduce your risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66 percent.9
And a Japanese study found those who drank coffee daily, or close to it, had about half the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a type of liver cancer, than people who never drank coffee;10 coffee is also associated with less severe liver fibrosis, lower levels of fat in your liver, and lower rates of hepatitis C disease progression.11 If you're interested in the health benefits, drink your coffee black, without sugar, non-dairy creamer or cream, or flavorings. If you really can't stand your coffee black, you could try adding non-dairy alternatives like unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Also, make sure it’s organic to avoid more pesticide exposures to your liver.Are You Struggling with Obesity?
If you're currently struggling with weight control, I urge you to read my top tips for conquering obesity now. However, a simple change for most people to make would be replacing sugary beverages with pure water and, on occasion, a healthy, anti-obesity option like hibiscus extract tea, which also offers liver-protecting potential. In addition, intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to help you resolve your insulin and leptin resistance. It’s also one of the fastest ways to shed excess pounds, as it helps shift your body from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel. To me, the most remarkable aspect of intermittent fasting is that once you make the transition, your hunger and cravings for sweets virtually disappears.
Granted, in order to get it right, you need to severely restrict your sugar and fructose intake. A healthy diet becomes all the more important when you start intermittently fasting. Ideally, you’ll want to swap your non-vegetable carbs for healthy fats. Most benefit from anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fat, such as avocado, olives, eggs, butter, nuts (I prefer macadamia and pecans), and coconut oil for example. This is done until the insulin resistance resolves and one has normal weight, no diabetes or hypertension, and is no longer taking statin drugs. Then one can decrease the fat and replace them with healthy carbs. For a more in-depth review, please see this previous article on how intermittent fasting can help you live longer.
By Dr. Mercola
In 2012, the National School Lunch Program received a $3.2-billion overhaul. The changes, which are being phased in over a three-year period and began during the 2012-2013 school year, are now appearing in lunchrooms across the US…
While there were some notable improvements, like ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables each day of the week and increasing focus on reducing levels of trans fats, there were also some key failures.
Among them, whole milk has been banished and only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties are now available. As naturally satiating and appealing whole fat is removed, milk becomes a watery and, some might say, highly unpalatable liquid.
As a result, sugar is often added to the milk in the form of chocolate syrup to entice kids to drink it. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials consider this acceptable, noting that the added sugar is “worth it” if it means kids are drinking milk. And now, skim chocolate milk is the number one beverage served in the federal lunch program.1
In following with the federal lunch program, the Illinois’ Women Infant and Children feeding program is now offering primarily skim and 1 percent milk in lieu of higher-fat dairy. What’s the problem with this picture?School Lunch Program Trades Healthy Whole Fats for More Sugar
First let me state that I do not typically recommend drinking pasteurized whole milk, even for children. High-quality raw milk from grass-fed cows is far superior (and raw milk is always full fat).
However, if you are going to drink pasteurized milk, there is no question it should be whole and not reduced-fat or fat-free… and certainly not fortified with added sugar… As noted by Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, in a JAMA Pediatrics editorial:2
“The substitution of sweetened reduced-fat milk for unsweetened whole milk – which lowers saturated fat by 3 g but increases sugar by 13 g per cup – clearly undermines diet quality, especially in a population with excessive sugar consumption.”
Sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to 183,000 deaths annually by increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Not to mention they’ve also been implicated in the childhood (and adult) obesity epidemic.
On a very basic level, too, removing the fat from milk means that it’s more difficult for your body to absorb the beneficial fat-soluble vitamins in the milk. Furthermore, accumulating research shows that full-fat dairy products confer many more health benefits than their low-fat counterparts.The Case for Full-Fat Dairy
Last year, a study showed that children who drank skim or 1 percent milk were more likely to be overweight or obese than those who drank 2 percent or whole milk. Even those who were normal weight at the start of the study were 57 percent more likely to become overweight if they drank low-fat milk, compared to those who drank higher-fat milk.3
And it’s not only a matter of weight. Other research has shown that people who ate eight portions of full-fat dairy products a day cut their risk of diabetes by nearly 25 percent compared to those who ate fewer portions.
This included foods like whole milk, cream, cheese, and butter (the federal school lunch program still serves margarine instead of butter). Besides lowering your risk for diabetes, previous studies have also shown that consuming full-fat dairy may help reduce your risk of:
- Cancer: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat found naturally in cow's milk, significantly lowers the risk of cancer. In one study, those who ate at least four servings of high-fat dairy foods each day had a 41 percent lower risk of bowel cancer than those who ate less than one.4
- Weight: Women who ate at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day gained 30 percent less weight over a nine-year period than women who ate only low-fat (or no) dairy products.5
- Heart Disease: People who ate the most full-fat dairy were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, according to a 16-year study of Australian adults.6
Each increment of two servings of dairy products reduced a woman’s colon cancer risk by 13 percent.
The impetus for removing full-fat dairy from school lunches is to lower saturated fat in kids’ diets, but the nutritional myth that saturated fat is bad for you continues to fall apart as a steady stream of new books and studies on this topic hit the media.
One of the latest works to challenge the old dogma is a book called The Big Fat Surprise by journalist Nina Teicholz, interviewed above. Her book comes alongside new research that raises questions about the long-held but false belief that cardiovascular disease is related to fat and cholesterol intake. Teicholz points out:
- The flaws in the original Ancel Keys study
- How saturated fat has been a healthy human staple for thousands of years
- How the low-fat craze has resulted in excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, which has resulted in increased inflammation and disease
In 2013, a prominent London cardiologist by the name of Aseem Malhotra argued in the British Medical Journal that you should ignore advice to reduce your saturated fat intake, because it's actually increasing your risk for obesity and heart disease.7
In March 2014, a meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, using data from nearly 80 studies and more than a half million people, also found that those who consume higher amounts of saturated fat have no more heart disease than those who consume less.
It turns out that healthy fat has been misidentified as the culprit behind heart disease, when all along it's been sugar. A high-sugar diet raises your risk for heart disease by promoting metabolic syndrome—a cluster of health conditions that includes high blood pressure, insulin and leptin resistance, high triglycerides, liver dysfunction, and visceral fat accumulation.
Insulin and leptin resistance is caused by factors inherent in our modern lifestyle, including diets heavy in processed carbohydrates, sugars/fructose, refined flours, and industrial seed oils. As recently as 2010, the current recommendations from the USDA call for reducing your saturated fat intake to a mere 10 percent of your total calories or less.
This is astounding, and quite the opposite of what most people require for optimal health! The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 percent to 85 percent of your overall energy intake if you are one of the 4 out 5 Americans suffering from insulin resistance (overweight, diabetic, high blood pressure, or taking a statin drug). Once the insulin resistance is resolved you can swap in more healthy carbohydrates. Saturated fats provide a number of important health benefits, including the following:Providing building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances Mineral absorption, such as calciumCarriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K Conversion of carotene into vitamin AHelping to lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)Acts as antiviral agent (caprylic acid) Optimal fuel for your brainProvides satietyModulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer (butyric acid) Who’s Really Behind the Federal School Lunch Program?
The USDA asserted its authority to set nutrition policy when it publicly declared that the purpose of the surplus food program was to "dispose of surplus food and simultaneously raise the nutritional level of low-income consumers."8 The actual law putting USDA in charge of educating people on nutrition was the Smith-Lever Act of 1914,9 which established Cooperative Extensions in each state. These are still active today. One job of the extensions is to educate the public on nutrition under the "guidance" of the USDA.
Besides the School Lunch Program, the USDA has been, or still is, involved with more than a dozen different food distribution programs. Such programs are basically designed to create a market for whatever foods farmers are growing a surplus of—NOT necessarily to distribute the healthiest foods to those who need it most. ChooseMyPlate.gov has a flyer summarizing the history of USDA food guides and nutritional guidance, which began nearly 100 years ago in 1916 with guidelines for "how to select foods," with a focus on "protective foods."10 This included 20 percent of daily calories from fatty foods, and only 10 percent of daily calories from sugars. The bulk of your diet was fresh fruits and vegetables.
Today, the USDA’s MyPlate nutritional guidelines have removed virtually all fats from the equation—despite advances in nutritional science confirming that non-processed healthy fats are crucial for good health, while processed carbs and sugars are the main drivers of disease. Again, the real reason why grains are promoted as a major cornerstone of your (and your children’s) diet is because that's what farmers are paid to grow in the US. There's a lot of it, and it's inexpensive compared to healthier foods like vegetables and nuts...
Meanwhile, the school lunch program is embroiled with conflicts of interest with the food industry. For example, the School Nutrition Association (SNA)11 is an association of food professionals who describe themselves as "providing high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country." So who are these "food professionals" exactly? Would it surprise you to learn that SNA's members include some of the largest junk food manufacturers? This includes:
- Domino's Pizza
- General Mills
- Pizza Hut
- Sara Lee and others
Children will simply not know which foods are healthy unless you, as a parent, teach it to them. Remember, wholesome food is "live" food, and the hallmark of live food is the fact that it will rapidly decompose. Processed food that can sit indefinitely on a shelf without signs of spoiling is a clear sign that it's just not real food and serves no beneficial purpose as part of your diet. It’s very simple: kids need whole unprocessed foods, not synthetic chemicals.
Food is a part of crucial lifestyle choices first learned at home, so you need to educate yourself about proper nutrition and the dangers of junk food and processed foods in order to change the food culture of your entire family. To give your child the best start at life, and help instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime, you must lead by example. If you're not sure where to start, I recommend reading my nutrition plan first. This will provide you with the foundation you need to start making healthy food choices for your family, including basing your meals around healthy fats like those that follow:Avocados Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milkRaw dairyOrganic pastured egg yolks Coconuts and coconut oilUnheated organic nut oilsRaw nuts, such as almonds or pecans, and seedsGrass-fed meats
The simplest way back toward health, for children and adults alike, is to focus on WHOLE foods -- foods that have not been processed or altered from their original state; food that has been grown or raised as nature intended, without the use of chemical additives, pesticides, and fertilizers.
You, a family member, or someone you pay will need to invest time in the kitchen cooking fresh wholesome meals from these whole foods so that you can break free from the processed food diet that will ultimately make you sick. By doing this, and eating meals together as a family, your children will receive the proper nutrition their bodies need during the important developmental years while also developing a love for whole fresh foods that will last them a lifetime.
By Dr. Mercola
Two major categories of genetically engineered (GE) seeds currently account for 99 percent of all acreage dedicated to GE crops in the US:
- Those engineered to withstand high amounts of herbicide, such as Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties
- Those engineered to produce their own internal insecticide (so-called Bt crops)
The widespread use of these GE crops has led to chemical resistance among weeds and insects alike, despite initial assurances from the chemical technology industry that such an outcome was highly unlikely.
Well, the results are now too evident to ignore—weed resistance has been documented on 60 million acres on farms across the US, and Bt resistant rootworm is being reported in the US and Brazil.
As GE seeds became the norm, chemical resistance rapidly emerged. As a result, farmers have been applying increasingly higher amounts of pesticides in an effort to keep up with rising resistance.
The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year,1, 2 and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. What we need is not a new breed of chemical-resistant crops, but that’s exactly what we’re getting...Even More Toxic GE Crops and Herbicide Receive Approval
Instead of taking a proactive approach to save the environment and human life, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently decided to deregulate Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops.
These crops are not only resistant to glyphosate, but also carry resistance to toxins like 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange, and Dicamba, which has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The chemical 2,4-D and other herbicides of this class have also been linked to:
- Immune system cancers
- Parkinson’s disease
- Endocrine disruption
- Reproductive problems
Then, on October 15, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced3 its final decision to register Enlist Duo—a new herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemical, to be used on corn and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate both 2,4-D and glyphosate.
This was the final barrier standing between this new generation of GE crops and their widespread commercialization. According to the EPA:4
“The agency’s decision reflects a large body of science and an understanding of the risk of pesticides to human health and the environment... EPA scientists used highly conservative and protective assumptions to evaluate human health and ecological risks for the new uses of 2,4-D in Enlist Duo.
The assessments confirm that these uses meet the safety standards for pesticide registration and, as approved, will be protective of the public, agricultural workers, and non-target species, including endangered species.
The agency evaluated the risks to all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and took into account exposures through food, water, pesticide drift, and as a result of use around homes. The decision meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard of ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ to human health.”EPA Thinks a Few Restrictions Will Safeguard Against Resistance...
To “ensure that weeds will not become resistant to 2,4-D,” the approval of Enlist Duo comes with certain restrictions. For example, Dow is required to search for resistant weeds and report any occurrences of resistance to the EPA.
Farmer education and remediation plans are also part of these additional requirements that must be met. To prevent drift, farmers will not be permitted to spray Enlist Duo from the air, or apply it when the wind speed exceeds 15 miles per hour.
Farmers must also leave a 30-foot “no spray buffer zone” around treated crops. The registration is set to expire in six years, at which time the EPA will evaluate the emergence of resistance.
I do not believe in these assurances of safety. Nor do I think adding a different set of toxins to the growers’ mix will ameliorate resistance. Instead, what we’ll end up with is simply an increasingly toxic food supply and further environmental destruction. As noted by Pesticide Action Network:5
“USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production to increase between 500 percent and 1,400 percent over the course of nine years, depending on farmers’ practices and changes in Dow’s share of corn and soybean seed markets.
In making this decision, EPA officials failed to consider several important health and safety factors.
By ignoring the potential synergistic effects of 2,4-D and glyphosate, not addressing the cumulative impacts of the expected increase in 2,4-D use, and failing to implement an appropriate 10-fold safety factor to limit exposures — as required under the Food Quality Protection Act — EPA has given Enlist Duo an unjustified approval, based on a flawed and inadequate review of the chemical’s harms.
In addition, neither USDA nor EPA have looked at the economic impact that Enlist Duo drift will have on surrounding farms and communities.” [Emphasis mine]
Center for Food Safety also cites a 2012 study published in the journal Bioscience, which concluded that this new generation of GE crops “will trigger still more intractable weeds resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D.”We Need a New Direction, Not More Toxins
A lot of harm can be done in six years, and we simply don’t have the time to sit back and wait to see how bad it can get. Just how bad does it have to get before our government starts taking these problems seriously?
What we need is a whole new direction for our agricultural system. We need a system that is NOT reliant on chemicals—one that is not only sustainable, but also regenerative.
Toxic chemicals form the very basis of GE agriculture. Chemicals are added into the soil, on the seed, on the plant, and on some crops herbicides are also added right at harvest, to increase seed release. This technique is called desiccating.
For example, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago, and Dr. Stephanie Seneff suspects this practice may be the reason why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in celiac disease since then... It’s important to realize that agriculture today is not driven by true agricultural companies. Patented seeds are actually a creation of the pesticide industry. While they try to portray themselves as “biotechnology” companies, they’re really chemical technology companies, and they have no financial incentive whatsoever to discontinue or even reduce the use of chemicals.Research Bias Is a Direct Threat to Human Health
As for the “large body of science” the EPA claims to base its foolhardy decision on, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of this research has major conflicts of interest as it is done by the company selling the chemicals. This fact was directly addressed in a January 2014 report6 on 2,4-D, jointly published by Testbiotech, GeneWatch UK and Pesticides Action Network Europe:
“Many of the publications are authored by the manufacturers’ scientists or are sponsored by the manufacturers of 2,4-D. This leads to large confusion, because on the one hand these papers are scientific, peer reviewed papers, but on the other hand, it can be assumed that the financial interest leads to a bias towards studies showing no negative effects. A recent study by Diels et al. (2011) has shown that in studies with genetically engineered crops, there is a strong relation between funding and outcome.
Some industry financed publications leave out important information, for example Ross et al. (2005), who do not mention results which show a high dermal uptake of 2,4-D... Basically, the industry funded/authored studies lead to a ‘dilution’ of information—a tactic also applied by the tobacco industry. The parallels between the tobacco industry and the pesticide industry are manifold, not only in their argumentation and strategy, but also in the final results – despite the evidence - cancer causing agents are not prohibited.”All Available Legal Options Will Be Pursued to Stop These Dangerous Crops
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network, has called the lack of protection from the EPA and USDA “shocking,” saying:7 “It’s time for real reform in these agencies. We need a new system of government oversight that is powerful enough to say ‘No’ to Dow and Monsanto when their products will harm the health and livelihoods of our farmers and rural communities.”
In response to the USDA’s and EPA’s complete failure to protect the American public against the growing threat of a toxic food supply and devastating pest resistance that could decimate our natural resources, the Center for Food Safety has announced8 it will “pursue all available legal options to stop the commercialization of these dangerous crops.” Sixty members of Congress have signed a letter opposing the approval and release of 2,4-D tolerant corn and soybeans. On June 30, 35 prominent doctors, scientists, and researchers also issued a letter of opposition to the EPA.9 According to Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR):10
“For years, the scientific community has been sounding the alarm about the increased use of herbicides and the link to a multitude of health problems. It’s shocking that EPA thinks it’s a good idea to allow the widespread use of a toxic chemical once found in Agent Orange on this nation’s farm fields. EPA should be working to reverse the trend of chemicals that poison our food supply, water and soil. It will be just a matter of time before weeds develop a resistance to 2,4-D, and the chemical industry comes up with an even more dangerous and potent product.”
Indeed, there’s already a lineup of new GE crops with built-in resistance to a variety of toxic chemicals awaiting federal approval (below). In addition to 2,4-D and Dicamba, each and every one of these will eventually cause resistance. And more than likely, we’ll end up seeing multi-chemical resistance, just as we now have antibiotic-resistant bacteria with multiple-drug resistance:
- ALS-tolerant crops (Pioneer Hi-Bred)
- Bromoxynil-tolerant crops (Calgene)
- Imidazolinone-tolerant crops (BASF)
- Isoxaflutole-tolerant crops (Bayer)
- Sulfonylurea-tolerant crops (DuPont)
The way off this out-of-control chemical treadmill will decimate profits for the chemical technology industry, and THAT is why they do not want you to know which foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If Americans started making dramatically different food choices, it could quickly revolutionize the US agricultural system because farmers will grow that which sells. If people want uncontaminated organic foods, that’s what farmers will grow—and there’s already evidence that biodynamic farming can be done even on the large scale. In fact, using biodynamic principles, you can grow a lot more food on fewer acres.
Real solutions are available. What’s lacking is the political will to stand up to the chemical technology industry and break its iron grip on our food supply. But we can still get it done, by making conscious choices each and every time we shop for food. Remember, your money either goes to support the chemical-based system that threatens the survival of the earth and your descendants, or it supports a system that can regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment so that healthy food and healthy people can thrive. To make conscious choices, we need information, and that is why GMO labeling is so crucial.
By Dr. Mercola
Science has proven time after time that food is potent medicine. Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it’s one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around.
For example, a compound in broccoli, glucosinolateglucoraphanin, produces a metabolite called sulforaphane that can significantly improve your blood pressure and kidney function1 by normalizing a process called DNA methylation.
Interestingly, preliminary research suggests sulforaphane may also be of particular benefit for those with autism—improving verbal communication and decreasing repetitive behaviors.Broccoli Compound May Improve Symptoms of Autism
While limited in scope, the study still shows that food is an important part of the treatment plan for autism, and can have a significant impact on behavior. A total of 44 boys and men diagnosed with autism were enrolled in the study.
Some received sulforaphane in capsule form, while the controls received a placebo. As reported by Time Magazine:2
“The compound was chosen because it can help trigger a heat-shock response, a series of biological events that protect cells from stress during fevers; some people with autism have been known to see improvement in regard to repetitive behaviors, for example, during fevers.
Around 80 percent of the participants had a history of experiencing the ‘fever effect.’”
Positive results were observed within as little as four weeks. Communication improved, as did symptoms of hyperactivity and irritability. By the end of the 18-week study, about 50 percent of those receiving sulforaphane experienced improved ability to interact socially.
About one-third of those treated did not have any noticeable results however, so more research needs to be done to ascertain how and why the compound works in certain cases. Still, considering the many health benefits of broccoli, there’s certainly no reason to avoid it.
On the contrary, I believe part of the reason for its beneficial effect on autistic symptoms may be related to its ability to affect gene expression, inhibit certain detrimental gut bacteria, and promote detoxification of harmful environmental pollutants.
All of these factors play a role in autism, and pretty much anything that will have a beneficial effect on them is likely to be useful to some degree.Sulforaphane Benefits Gene Expression and Gut Health
Sulforaphane is an organic sulfur compound found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, and arugula—but broccoli sprouts is the richest source.
Sulforaphane has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. It also kills cancer stem cells, which slows tumor growth. As noted earlier, it also normalizes DNA methylation, which plays a role in a number of diseases, including hypertension, kidney function,3 gut health,4 and cancer.
In simple terms, DNA methylation5 is the process by which a methyl group (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) is added to part of a DNA molecule.
This is a crucial part of normal cell function as it allows cells to “remember who they are and where they have been.” DNA methylation also suppresses viral- and other disease-related gene expression.
Sulforaphane influences bacteria as well. For example, broccoli sprouts have been shown to inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria thought to cause gastric ulcers. Interestingly, H. pylori may also play a role in autism.
It is widely known that autistic children tend to suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems, with those experiencing the worst GI problems often having the most severe cases of autism.
In one study,6 researchers analyzed the gut microflora of 20 healthy and 20 autistic children using fecal samples, and found distinct differences between the two groups.
Specifically, those with autism had reduced levels of Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae, compared to healthy children. These belong to groups of carbohydrate-degrading and/or fermenting microbes, and may be critical for healthy interactions between microbes in the gut.
The presentation below discusses the links between H. pylori and autism and language delays, noting that H. pylori can instigate leaky gut and influences genes associated with the speech disorder apraxia7 that affects many autistic children.
Other Health Benefits of Broccoli
Other research has shown that broccoli can be helpful in the prevention of:
- Heart disease
- UV radiation damage to your skin when applied topically8
- Osteoarthritis9, 10, 11, 12
The sulforaphane from broccoli plays a role in activating more than 200 different genes, which accounts for its varied effects. Fortunately, you don’t have to consume vast volumes of broccoli to reap its benefits. In one study,15 just four servings of broccoli—about 10 broccoli spears—per week was found to protect men from prostate cancer.Broccoli Sprouts Combat Exposure to Environmental Pollutants
Another major benefit of broccoli sprouts relates to its ability to detox pollutants, as demonstrated in recent research.16, 17, 18 This is important for virtually everyone these days, but especially women planning a pregnancy. Autistic children are known to have higher levels of environmental toxins in their system, and this underlying toxic burden plays a significant role.
For example, one recent study19, 20, 21, 22 found that every one percent increase in genital malformations in newborn males within a particular US county was associated with a 283 percent increased rate in autism. According to the researchers, genital malformations are signs of exposure to harmful toxins.
The correlation between genital malformation and autism in turn offer strong support for the notion that autism is the result of parental overexposure to environmental toxins. Another study23 published last year also found that autistic children have markedly higher levels of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also had fewer healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. With regards to the detoxifying powers of broccoli sprouts, Time Magazine noted that:24
“Broccoli sprouts specifically are a source of glucoraphanin, which creates sulforaphane when chewed or swallowed. That compound accelerates the body’s ability to detoxify from various pollutants...”
The three-month long study included about 300 Chinese men and women living one of the most polluted areas of China, a rural community in the Jiangsu Province. The test group drank half a cup a day of a beverage consisting of sterilized water, pineapple and lime juice, with dissolved freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder. The control group drank the same mixture without the addition of the sprouts.
After urine and blood tests were collected and analyzed, the researchers found that the test group, who received the broccoli sprout powder, excreted far greater levels of two carcinogens. Excretion of benzene increased 61 percent, and the rate of excretion of acrolein increased by 23 percent. Benzene is usually found in car exhaust fumes, but can also be ingested via soda, where it can form from benzoate salt—used as a preservative. Acrolein forms from the breakdown of certain indoor air pollutants, from the burning of organic matter such as tobacco, and the burning of fuels like gasoline.Factors That Likely Contribute to Autism
With autism spectrum disorder now affecting as many as one in 50 children,25 it seems reasonable to assume that there are MANY factors contributing to this problem. Evidence suggests it’s rooted in a combination of toxic overload and other aggravating factors, including but not limited to the following:
- Gut dysbiosis, especially in combination with vaccines and their additives like mercury (thimerosal), aluminum, and others, which are known to damage your mitochondria—the powerhouses in your body’s cells that produce energy. Your gastrointestinal system is often referred to as your “second brain,” containing some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system.
- Vitamin D deficiency. The link between vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the proportionate jump in autism has been highlighted by Dr. John Cannell. Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain. I believe vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is a MAJOR contributing factor to autism, especially when you consider that vitamin D also helps in the detoxification of mercury. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, any subsequent toxic assaults—regardless of the source—will be further magnified.
- Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from cell phones, cell towers, and Wi-Fi devices, which can trap heavy metals inside of nerve cells, accelerate heavy metal toxicity, and hinder natural detoxification processes.
- Microbial toxins, such as mold. Children with autism not only have overwhelmed detoxification pathways and often heavy metal toxicity, but, according to Dr. Klinghardt, their bodies are also frequently beset by toxic microbes, including neuro-borreliosis, and possibly other Lyme co-infections.
- Mercury toxicity. Pregnant mothers may inadvertently contribute to their child’s toxic load via dental amalgams, 50 percent of which are mercury, a known neurotoxin.
Getting back to the issue of food, while broccoli sprouts may certainly be useful, parents of autistic children would do well to consider implementing the GAPS diet. Women planning a pregnancy can also reduce their chances of having an autistic child by paying careful attention to their gut health, along with avoiding toxic exposures of all kinds.
GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, pioneered by neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who successfully reversed her son’s autism. In her research, she discovered that nearly all mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because babies inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of your baby's immune system.
Babies who develop abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems, which put them at higher risk for suffering vaccine reactions. If your baby has suboptimal gut flora, vaccines can become the proverbial "last straw" — the trigger that "primes" his/her immune system to develop chronic health problems. This helps explain why not every child is damaged by vaccines, and why autism rates keep rising. More children are now born with elevated toxicity levels and damaged gut flora right from the start... Such is the legacy of our increasingly toxic world. Tack on a few exacerbating factors, and the child’s body simply cannot handle the onslaught.
The best way to prevent GAPS is for the mother to avoid all processed foods, sugar, antibiotics (including CAFO meats and antibacterial soaps) and birth control pills prior to conception as these cause yeast and fungi to grow and also cause leaky gut. This can then be followed by breastfeeding and avoiding the use of antibiotics during (intrapartum) and after delivering. It’s also a good idea to make sure your baby’s microbiome is healthy before getting any vaccinations. Fortunately, it's possible to rather inexpensively identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby's life, which can help you make better-informed decisions about vaccinations, and about how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.
The entire process for identifying children who would be at risk for developing autism from a vaccine is described in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, but to sum it up, in her practice she starts out by collecting a complete health history of the parents, and their gut health is assessed. Then, within the first few days of life, the stool of the child can be analyzed to determine the state of her gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child's immune system. These tests are available in most laboratories around the world and cost a very reasonable amount, about $80 to $100 per test.
In my view, it is absolutely VITAL to perform this analysis BEFORE you consider vaccinating your child. If the test results are normal, the likelihood of autism after vaccines is dramatically reduced. If you find that your baby has abnormal gut microflora, or begins to develop symptoms of autism a year or two later, the GAPS program should be started immediately, as the younger the child is when you start the treatment, the better the results.
By Dr. Mercola
There are many good reasons to choose your foods seasonally, and contrary to popular belief, there are many foods in-season during the fall.
Seasonal foods will taste fresher and their nutrition will be at its peak level, as opposed to foods picked prior to ripeness, which are then chilled and put into storage for days or weeks. As they sit, both their flavor and nutrient levels diminish.
Meanwhile, in-season foods will typically be available in abundance, which means prices tend to go down, making seasonal eating easier on your wallet. It’s good for the environment, too, because in-season foods are often locally grown and available from farmer’s markets or other direct-to-you venues (like community-supported agriculture programs).
And in the grand scheme of living, eating seasonally allows you to be a part of the natural ebb and flow of nature. According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, for instance, seasonal eating helps with digestion, because it favors easier-to-digest foods in the winter when your body is hard at work burning energy to keep you warm (and therefore theoretically has less energy to devote to digestion).
If you eat seasonally year-round, it will even automatically create a varied diet that provides your body with a diverse palate of nutrients to keep you going strong. Still, just because a food is in-season doesn’t make it healthy, which is why I’ve featured 15 of the best in-season foods for fall.1
1. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which your body uses to make isothiocyanates. These activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body. Brussels sprouts have been linked to the prevention of a number of cancers, including colon cancer,2 ovarian cancer,3 and others.
One study even found that compounds in Brussels sprouts may trigger pre-cancerous cells to commit suicide, which suggests adding more of this superfood to your diet could be a powerful anti-cancer strategy.4
Brussels sprouts also have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, useful for fighting both chronic oxidative stress and inflammation.
They help to support your body’s natural detoxification system and are an excellent source of vitamins K and C, and good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins. Brussels sprouts are in season from September to March.
Compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the US, apples ranked second for highest antioxidant activity. However, they ranked highest for the proportion of free phenolic compounds, which means they are not bound to other compounds in the fruit and therefore may be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream.5
Notably, much of apples’ antioxidant power is contained in the peel, where you’ll find antioxidants like catechin, procyanidins, chlorogenic acid, ploridizin, and more. Eating apples has been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
It’s best to eat apples in their whole form, as this will give you the synergistic blend of nutrients and fiber the way nature intended, yielding greater health benefits than apple juice. Apples are in season from August to November.
Also, four in five of us are insulin resistant and you now are if you are overweight, diabetic, have high pressure, or taking a statin drug. If you have insulin resistance, then it is best to limit apples to one small one a day or even avoid them until you resolve your insulin resistance.
Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth. Some researchers believe eliminating cancer stem cells may be key to controlling cancer.
Cauliflower is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich, and may boost both your heart and brain health. Eating cauliflower will provide your body with impressive amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, and much more while supporting healthy digestion and detoxification. Cauliflower is in season from September to June.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Orange-colored sweet potatoes owe their appearance to the carotenoid beta-carotene. As an antioxidant, beta-carotene can help ward off free radicals that damage cells through oxidation, which can speed up aging and make you vulnerable against chronic diseases.
This antioxidant can help support your immune system, as well as lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Research shows that sweet potatoes can help regulate blood sugar because of their ability to raise blood levels of adiponectin, a protein hormone created by your fat cells, to help regulate how your body metabolizes insulin.
Sweet potato extract is said to help reduce inflammation in brain and nerve tissue throughout your body. The phytonutrients within sweet potatoes also influence fibrinogen, an important glycoprotein required for blood clotting.
Together with thrombin and fibrin, balanced amounts of fibrinogen are important for wound healing and blood loss prevention. Sweet potatoes are in season from September to December.
The primary source of pomegranate's benefits come from its antioxidant content, particularly ellagitannin compounds like punicalagins and punicalins, which account for about half of the pomegranate's antioxidant ability. It's also an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, with one pomegranate providing about 40 percent of the daily requirement for this vitamin.7
In fact, according to a 2008 study, which compared the potency of 10 different polyphenol-rich beverages, pomegranate juice scored top billing as the healthiest of them all.8 Pomegranates contain three types of antioxidant polyphenols, including tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid, in significant amounts.
Pomegranate's antioxidant activity is known to inhibit cell proliferation and invasion, and promote apoptosis (cell death) in various cancer cells.9 The antioxidants in pomegranates may also help to reduce inflammation that contributes to the destruction of cartilage in your joints, a key reason for the pain and stiffness felt by many osteoarthritis sufferers.
One study even found that pomegranate extract blocked the production of a cartilage-destroying enzyme.10 Many people enjoy pomegranates alone as a snack, but you can also sprinkle the arils (the juice-filled seed sacs) over salads or cooked dishes. Inside each aril is a crunchy fiber-rich seed. While some people spit them out, you can eat them whole, seed and all. Pomegranates are in season from August to December. So how do you get out the arils? The POM Council recommends this simple three-step process:11
- Cut off the crown, then cut the pomegranate into sections
- Place the section in a bowl of water, then roll out the arils with your fingers (discard everything else)
- Strain out the water, then enjoy the arils whole, seeds and all
Turnips contain a type of phytonutrient known as indoles, which may help fight cancer. One type in particular, brassinin, has been shown to kill human colon cancer cells.12 Turnips are also rich in fiber. Just 100 calories’ worth of turnips can give you 25-40 percent of your daily fiber requirement. While turnip root is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, it is a starchy vegetable and therefore should only be eaten in moderation. The greens, on the other hand, can be eaten in generous quantities (although admittedly they are quite bitter).
Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese, but it’s their vitamin K content that really stands out. One cup of turnip greens will give you nearly 600% of your recommended daily value of the nutrient. Vitamin K is a powerful regulator of your inflammatory response, and along with the anti-inflammatory plant-based omega-3s found in turnip greens (in the form of alpha linolenic acid, or ALA), make this vegetable an inflammation-fighting powerhouse. Turnips are in season from September to April.
Rutabaga, a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, are rich in fiber and vitamin C (one cup contains 53% of the daily recommended value). Rutabagas are also members of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer phytonutrients. Rutabagas are also an excellent source of potassium, manganese, B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Rutabagas are also a good source of zinc, which is essential for immune support and may help protect your body from the effects of stress. As a mild-tasting root vegetable, rutabagas work well roasted or baked, and can serve as a nutrient-rich substitute for potatoes. They can also be eaten raw along with a dip, such as hummus. Rutabagas are in season from October to April.
8. Winter Squash
Winter squash contains an impressive amount of vitamin K1 (not K2) – 457 percent of the daily value per serving. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, is beneficial for your skin, vision, and mucous membranes and may protect against certain types of cancer. Squash is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. It even contains a respectable amount of plant-based omega-3 fats. Because winter squash has such a thick skin, it can be stored for months. Try it paired with healthy spices like cinnamon and ginger. Winter squash is in season from October to February.
Pumpkin is a type of winter squash but deserves special mention. It is an excellent source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (which converts into vitamin A in your body). Pumpkin is also rich in fiber, with three grams in a one-cup serving, and you can consume the seeds, too, for additional benefits (like immune system and prostate support). 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:13
“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.”
When using pumpkin in your cooking, you needn’t resort to canned. Simply wash the pumpkin’s exterior, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and roast it, whole, in a 350°F oven for one to two hours, until tender. You can also cut it in half and place it, cut side down, on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for one to two hours. Then, simply scrape out the tender flesh and discard the rind.14 Pumpkin is in season from October to February.
These root vegetables resemble carrots but are whitish in color and have a sweet, nutty flavor. Parsnips are rich in nutrients like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C. Eating foods rich in potassium is important because this nutrient helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium. An imbalance in your sodium-potassium ratio can lead to high blood pressure and may also contribute to a number of other diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Parsnips are in season from October to April.
Pears are rich in vitamin C and copper, and are on of the highest-fiber fruits (one medium pear contains about 5.5 grams of fiber). Fiber plays an essential role in your digestive, heart, and skin health, and may improve blood sugar control, weight management, and more. People who ate a diet high in white-fleshed fruits like pears or apples also had a 52 percent lower risk of stroke, according to an American Heart Association study,15 likely due to their fiber and phytochemical contents. Pears are in season from August to February.
Also, four in five of us are insulin resistant and you now are if you are overweight, diabetic, have high pressure, or taking a statin drug. If you have insulin resistance, then it is best to limit pears to one small one a day or even avoid them until you resolve your insulin resistance.
Rich in phytonutrients that appear to protect human DNA from free-radical damage, kiwi is also an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene. Kiwi is also a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. One cup of kiwi contains 273% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, which is five times that of an orange. Kiwi is in season from September to March.
Grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamin C and also contain pantothenic acid, copper, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, biotin, and vitamin B1. Grapefruit is also a good source of the dietary fiber pectin and the carotenoid phytonutrient lycopene. Lycopene's antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than other carotenoids such as beta-carotene.
Research has even revealed it may significantly reduce your stroke risk (while other antioxidants did not). Lycopene has also been shown to have potential anti-cancer activity, likely due to its antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that people with a diet high in lycopene have a lower risk of certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer. Grapefruit is in season from September to April.
Tangerines are rich in antioxidant flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and potassium. They also contain the healthy fiber pectin and, if you eat the white tissue between the segments, even more soluble fiber that may offer protection to your heart. Notably, nobiletin, a citrus flavonoid isolated from tangerines, appears to prevent atherosclerosis16 and may also help prevent the buildup of fat in your liver.
Dates are a rich source of fiber and potassium, along with B vitamins, vitamins A and K, copper, magnesium, and manganese. There are also at least 15 minerals in dates, including selenium, along with protein, 23 types of amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids including palmitoleic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids. One study even concluded, “In many ways, dates may be considered as an almost ideal food, providing a wide range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits.”17
Dates are in season from September to December. One caveat: dates should be eaten only in very limited amounts because they are high in fructose. One medium date (Deglet Noor style) contains 2.6 grams of fructose. My recommendation is to keep your total fructose intake below 25 grams of fructose per day, if you're in good health, and below 15 grams a day, including that from fruit, if you struggle with insulin resistance.
Also, four in five of us are insulin resistant and you now are if you are overweight, diabetic, have high pressure, or taking a statin drug. If you have insulin resistance, then it is best to limit dates to only a few a day as they are very high in fructose or better yet even avoid them until you resolve your insulin resistance.Where to Find Locally Grown, Seasonal Foods
The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh seasonal foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner. If you want to get the freshest seasonal produce possible, you can also try your hand at growing it yourself by planting a winter garden.
By Dr. Mercola
Ebola is heavily featured in the news these days, bringing lots of fear and concerns. Can anything be done to successfully treat or prevent this horrific and highly lethal disease?
Dr. Robert Rowen who is a leading expert on oxidative therapy, offers an intriguing answer in this interview. By invitation of the President of Sierra Leone, he’s going there to teach health care workers how to treat Ebola using ozone.
“I do ozone, ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy, and high-dose vitamin C,” he explains. “All of these collectively belong to a family of therapies called oxidative therapies.
In my opinion – and I’ve been doing them longer than any other living person in North America; since 1986 – especially ozone and ultraviolet [therapies] are among the most powerful therapies for healing across the board of anything I’ve ever seen in my career... It does so by stimulating your own body to heal.”Ozone Effectively Inactivates Viruses
Ozone is quite versatile, as you can administer it in many different ways. It’s extraordinary in terms of its anti-infective and antiviral action, and it has virtually no toxicity, making it a prime candidate for both prevention and treatment.
Dr. Rowen’s YouTube channel1 contains a number of videos demonstrating and discussing what these therapies can do. With bacteria, ozone works by puncturing the membrane of the bacteria, causing it to spill its contents and die. It also inactivates viruses, and does so 10 times faster than chlorine.
“I’ve told my patients and readers, please know where your closest oxidative physician is, because your life might depend on it, and if you have the wherewithal, to get an [ozone] machine to purify water.
It can be easily adapted in the privacy of your home, so that you can administer it rectally for whatever condition you have,” Dr. Rowen says.Ozone—The Most Powerful Natural Oxidant in the World
Chlorine is being used overseas right now for Ebola to disinfect clothes and isolation suites, etc. But ozone actually disinfects 10 times faster than chlorine. It’s the most powerful natural oxidant in the world.
Ozone also has the advantage of stimulating the immune system, and modulating it—either up or down depending on what your system requires.
“Right now, we’re faced with probably one of the most horrific epidemics human kind has ever known. That’s a virus called Ebola that is transmitted by personal contact [through] bodily fluids and, actually, it may be also be airborne,” Dr. Rowen says.
“What I don’t know – and I’m trying to investigate – is how easily it is transmitted from person to person. I’m not sure that it’s easy to get, because if it was, everybody should be dead by now in many of the villages, and not everybody is dead.
On the other hand, we know that there are aid workers who have gotten the disease and died even though they were wearing full suits...
Anybody who works with Ebola are putting their lives on the line because there are no conventional therapies for this; none, except getting supportive care...”How Ozone Works to Combat Infectious Disease
As noted by Dr. Rowen, Ebola hijacks your immune system and suppresses it. Once your immune system realizes the virus is there, it launches a cytokine storm, and it is this cytokine storm that leads to massive tissue destruction and capillary leakage.
This is what causes the hemorrhaging associated with Ebola. Ozone modulates the cytokine storm.
It’s anti-infective. It improves circulation and blood flow, oxygen delivery, and likely upregulates mitochondrial respiration, thereby generating more energy in your cells. Oxygen is one of the most important things your body needs for tissue healing when you’re riddled with infection.
There’s an experimental, still unapproved treatment for Ebola called ZMapp. It offers passive immunity to the virus. This is not a vaccine but three monoclonal antibodies that have been humanized by genetic engineering and grown in tobacco plants. It’s very costly and time consuming to produce and it’s not yet commercially available.
ZMapp works with your body’s immune system, slowing down the viral load to give your body enough time to respond and not get killed by the cytokine storm. It’s not really a drug in the conventional sense, as it acts simply by slowing down the virus from reaching the cells.
This is similar to ozone’s action, but ozone could potentially be more effective, as it works both indirectly and directly. It’s directly toxic to the virus while being harmless to your body’s own cells, and also indirectly enhances your immune system function. Regarding potential safety concerns of ozone, Dr. Rowen says:
“Ozone is only hard on the lungs, but it can be given in other ways. It can be given intravenously. It can be given in the bladder, in the vagina, in the rectum, via injection – anywhere. It’s just [that] it can be tough on the lungs. You don’t want to be breathing it...
Also, the way ozone can be done is dirt cheap. And in a place like Africa, where there are thousands of people with this and there’s just no money, can you imagine what it will mean to the planet if we can treat this disease with a therapy that will cost probably less than 10 dollars per patient?”Historical Use of Oxidation Therapy Has Proven Its Benefits
While in Sierra Leone, Dr. Rowen will use ozone on himself and his team every single day to prevent contracting the disease, and will continue the treatment for some time afterward.
“I have less fear about Ebola with [ozone therapy],” Dr. Rowen says.”I mean this and I’m speaking honestly. Yes, Ebola is a fearsome disease. But I know the power of ozone and oxidative therapies. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have absolute confidence that we’re going to dramatically cut the death rate.”
Oxidation therapy was actually discovered during the great influenza outbreak of 1918—a time when people were dying like flies across the world. A physician in India named Dr. Oliver was treating viral influenza—which has no treatment even today—and when he administered intravenous hydrogen peroxide, which costs a couple cents to do for materials, he cut the death rate by 50 percent.
“His comment at the end of his article published in The Lancet, a major medical journal, was, ‘This is more remarkable because we only treated the worst cases.’” Dr. Rowen says.
According to Dr. Rowen, ozone therapy is also very beneficial for heart disease, immune diseases, injuries, and chronic degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis. As an example, Dr. Rowen has found that ozone is about 85 percent effective in knees and only slightly less effective in hips, when given as an injection.
“I’m actually injecting oxygen. One percent of it is ozone O3, 99 percent of it is oxgen O2. They’re getting a blast of oxygen and they’re getting ozone. There are two effects,” Dr. Rowen explains. “(1) They’re getting oxygen, the most important thing those cells need to heal and (2) they’re getting ozone. Ozone instantly modulates the inflammation. It knocks out the excessive nitric oxide that’s in the joint. It increases other chemical mediators that reduce inflammation.”
Aside from ozone, other oxidation therapies include hydrogen peroxide, intravenous vitamin C, and ultraviolet light. Dr. Rowen has done intravenous hydrogen peroxide since 1989, and it’s very inexpensive. One drawback is that it’s hard on your veins, and can actually make your veins disappear. Ozone doesn’t do that. Ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy is another excellent modality, although it’s not quite as versatile as ozone. You can find an article discussing ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy on Dr. Rowen’s website.2, 3
“[The article] is called ‘Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy: The Cure That Time Forgot’... [Ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy] was done widespread in this country until the ‘60s. And then when you could take a pill, it was wiped out. There are political reasons why it was wiped out, too. I know that for sure. But it’s still being done,” he says.
Then there is high-dose intravenous vitamin C. While vitamin C is an antioxidant, it also promotes the production of superoxide dismutase. Dr. Rowen explains how:
“[W]hen you give high-dose vitamin C intravenously, the ascorbic acid leaves the bloodstream and goes into the interstitial fluids where a series of reactions occur that incite a greater production of superoxide dismutase, which gets converted by the body into hydrogen peroxide. When you give intravenous vitamin C, you are actually giving hydrogen peroxide.”Ozone Therapy for Cancer
Still, ozone therapy is a superior approach to all these other alternatives. Dr. Rowen has even used it for cancer, and while not a magic bullet, it has successfully reversed some cases of cancer, including metastatic cancer. It’s important to realize the outcome varies from individual to individual, and most are also implementing dietary and supplement protocols. He notes:
“There are articles out there where ozone therapy is recommended now by many people as a potential treatment for cancer. Why? Because tumors are hypoxic. Hypoxic means low oxygen. The research is showing that the more enrichment of oxygen you can get into the tumor, the better it’s going to behave. And ozone increases oxygenation of the body.
If you get more oxygen into the tumor, you’re going to get a better-behaved tumor aside from modulating your immune system. Hyperbaric oxygen is probably really valuable. But it’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. And in my experience – I’ve done both—I would take ozone any day over hyperbaric oxygen.
With cancer, we do a combination approach: Intravenous—either ultraviolet and/or ozone therapy. There was a monograph published 40 or 50 years ago by a man named Olney... He had listed several patients with cancer who were cured using ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy and cleaning themselves up – detoxifying with certain supplements.
We also do what’s called minor autohemotherapy. In that, you take a small amount of blood, about 5 or 6cc. You shake it up with ozone rather vigorously, and then reinject it [intramuscularly] almost like an autovaccine. I believe personally that that stimulates the immune system.
The third pillar of what I call ‘triple oxidation’ is giving a small amount of gas intravenously... intravenous oxygen. This therapy has been around in Europe for 60, 70, or 80 years... [I]t seems to stimulate other aspects of the immune system, particularly an enzyme called 15-lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1). That enzyme... has very strong anti-cancer properties.”Treatment Plan for African Ebola Patients
The treatment method Dr. Rowen will implement in Africa is using direct intravenous oxygen gas (99 percent oxygen, O2, and one percent ozone, O3)—a therapy pioneered by Dr. Howard Robin who will accompany Dr. Rowen on this trip. Again, this is NOT air. It’s a metabolically active gas that is absorbed by your body.
Ozone (O3) reacts immediately in your blood to stimulate a cascade of reactions creating something called ozonized biochemical molecules, which are highly metabolically active in the immune system and in blood circulation. As noted by Dr. Rowen, it’s “extraordinarily effective” and “dirt cheap to do.” Aside from the initial purchase of an oxygen tank and an ozone machine, the cost of treatment is limited to the price of one syringe per patient. Dr. Rowen explains the process as follows:
“You start slow with 20cc. [Dr. Robin] works up to a maximum of 120cc of gas. He gradually increases the concentration. Now, there are two issues: Initially, in the early stages of this treatment, you can get a cough and some chest tightness, which eventually with further treatments modulates and goes away. It doesn’t seem to be a big problem... [but] can be a little uncomfortable, because it takes about five to 10 minutes for it to go away.
The other problem that concerns me a little bit more is if you do this repeatedly over and over again, it can do to the vein what intravenous hydrogen peroxide does – it can make it go away. I have not seen that with major autohemotherapy, [in which you’re] taking the blood out, treating it with ozone, and putting it back in... But if you give ozone gas intravenously, yes, it’s going to act like hydrogen peroxide... Now, when you’re dealing with something like Ebola, I would be happy to sacrifice a couple of veins for a cheap, quick fix.”Will Big Pharma Sacrifice Lives to Maintain Monopoly on Expensive Ebola Treatments?
If direct intravenous oxygen turns out to be successful, we can expect the government of Sierra Leone to announce to the world that it has a treatment for Ebola, as Dr. Rowen and his team are going there at the invitation of its President. That will make international news very quickly. On the other hand, there are commercial interests that stand to make billions, maybe trillions of dollars, on Ebola treatment drugs and/or vaccines, whether such drugs are effective or not. So it would be naïve to think that they will not make a sincere effort to suppress inexpensive oxidation therapies for the treatment of Ebola and other potential pandemic diseases...
“Will it be suppressed? Probably yes,” Dr. Rowen says. “I’m not afraid to tell you that my biggest concern in this is that we will be in greater danger from those interests than we will be from the Ebola itself... But you know, it’s something that I have to do. All of us who are going, we’re being guided by something much higher. It’s something that I have to do no matter the risk, because the risk is far greater if we don’t do it.”
Indeed, perhaps the greatest risk of all is that the therapy will be unsuccessful for treating Ebola, and that the disease will keep spreading unchecked around the world. As noted by Dr. Rowen, the Ebola pathogen is unlike most other pathogens, and may not respond like other viruses.
“I can usually get rid of herpes zoster (shingles) in a couple of days with ozone therapy, and we can cure a lot of these other acute conditions. But Ebola is a pathogen unlike anything that we’ve ever seen before. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we do this. Maybe the patients are just so toxic that they’re going to be overcome by anything we do. I don’t know... If it doesn’t work, I don’t want to see ozone discredited for all the other miracles it does,” he says.Why Ozone Therapy Stands a Good Chance of Working Against Ebola
Still, despite such cautious doubts, there are very positive indications suggesting oxygen therapy might be the answer the world needs right now to successfully respond to this situation. As mentioned earlier, ZMapp works by slowing down the virus, allowing your immune system more time to kill off the virus itself. Tests suggest ZMapp can be effective if given early enough, and ozone is orders of magnitude more effective at boosting immune function.
Moreover, ozone also inactivates viruses, which ZMapp does not do, which actually allows you to build immunity against the pathogen. “Since we’re neutralizing the virus, now you have viral particles that are still antigenic – not infectious but antigenic – that can stimulate your immune system, which in itself will make the antibodies,” Dr. Rowen explains.
Basically, that is an authentic “vaccine.” This is how you develop a natural immunity to the virus. I for one eagerly await Dr. Rowen’s results, and will hopefully have the opportunity to interview him again to learn about his first-hand experiences treating Ebola in Africa.
“I wouldn’t go and put myself at risk if I didn’t think that what I’m taking there to use to help these people wouldn’t also take care of myself,” Dr. Rowen says. “I’m really excited about it. I’m really hopeful that this is going to change the world... I pray about this every day. It’s my prayer that the result we get in Sierra Leone is going to change the disease-maintenance paradigm of the world. I call it ‘the sickness system.’ We need a paradigm shift.”More Information
I strongly endorse Dr. Rowen’s recommendation to locate a clinician who can administer the oxidative therapies discussed here, because they really can be crucial—not just for virulent infectious diseases such as Ebola, but also for a wide array of other chronic diseases, from heart disease and degenerative joint disease to cancer.
To learn more about the general use of oxidative medicine, which include ozone therapy, ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy, and intravenous hydrogen peroxide therapy, please see my previous interview with Dr. Rowen. Again, of the various oxidative therapies available, ozone appears to be the best overall, as it’s the most versatile. It’s particularly beneficial for blood treatments, infection, and chronic fatigue.
Oxidative therapies work by stimulating your immune system, enhancing mitochondrial processes, and facilitating healing with virtually no side effects, and can be used either as treatment or prevention. They can also be used as a potent anti-aging health strategy for general wellness. I also encourage you to look at Dr. Rowen’s channel on YouTube,4 where you can find a number of examples of what oxidative therapies can be used for so that you can avail yourself of this relatively inexpensive and incredibly safe therapy.
To locate a clinician who can administer oxidative therapy you can try the following sources:
- Dr. Rowen’s website has a list of oxidation doctors, trained by Dr. Rowen and his team
- American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM.org)
- International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIMED.org)
- OxygenHealingTherapies.com also has a list of doctors trained in a variety of oxidation therapies
- American Academy of Ozonotherapy
By Dr. Mercola
Turnips, like their close cousins rutabaga and kohlrabi, are tasty root vegetables that add heartiness and fabulous nutrition to your meals. Turnips have a mild flavor and potato-like texture when cooked, making them ideal for side dishes, soups, stews, and casseroles.
However, turnips can also be eaten raw in salads or coleslaw, eaten in sprouted form, or you can even add them into your fermented vegetable recipe. While the root is most popular in the US, turnip greens can be eaten too (and they're full of nutrition as well).Turnips Are a Cruciferous Vegetable
The cruciferous family of vegetables includes such nutrition superstars like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts… and turnips. As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation, the fact that they're cruciferous vegetables means they're nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants:1
"In terms of conventional nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and fats), we cannot find another vegetable group that is as high in vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber as the cruciferous vegetables. As a group, the cruciferous vegetables are simply superstars in these conventional nutrient areas.
…The astonishing concentration of vitamin A carotenoids in cruciferous vegetables and their unusually high content of vitamin C and manganese are clearly key components in their growing reputation as an antioxidant vegetable group
…Significant increases in the blood levels of these key antioxidant nutrients have been seen very quickly in subjects who consume generous amounts of cruciferous vegetables in research studies.
…The antioxidant richness of cruciferous vegetables has also been explicitly mentioned in several recent studies as one of the strong contributors to the risk-lowering impact of cruciferous vegetables on numerous forms of cancer."
Turnips, for instance, contain a type of phytonutrient known as indoles, which may help fight cancer. One type in particular, brassinin, has been shown to kill human colon cancer cells.2 Turnips are also rich in fiber. Just 100 calories' worth of turnips can give you 25-40 percent of your daily fiber requirement. The George Mateljan Foundation continued:3
"That fact shows what an incredible bargain cruciferous vegetable are when it comes to fiber. We suspect that it's one of the reasons these vegetables have become increasingly prominent in research studies on diet and digestive support.
We may not typically think about cruciferous vegetables when considering digestive disorders or risk of digestive tract cancers, but we should."Try Turnip Sprouts for Optimum Nutrition
Eating your vegetables in sprouted form is an easy way to get far more nutrients. I strongly recommend growing your own sprouts. It's easy and can radically improve your overall nutrition. Just consider this: sprouts can contain up to 30 times the nutrients of organic vegetables!
They also allow your body to extract more of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats from the rest of your diet. Add to that the boon of requiring very little space, and the ability to grow them indoors, year-round. I'm working on a comprehensive guide to sprout-growing, but in the meantime, you can find instructions on rawfoods-livingfoods.com.4
I started out growing sprouts in Ball jars about 15 years ago, but I've found that growing them in potting soil is a far better option. With Ball jars, you need to rinse them several times a day to prevent mold growth and it is a hassle to have them draining in the sink, taking up space.
Trays also take up less space. When grown in soil, you can harvest your sprouts in about a week. I strongly recommend using organic seeds, and a pound of seeds will probably make over 10 pounds of sprouts.
You can use sprouts raw in salad, either in addition to or in lieu of salad greens, or add them to vegetable juice or smoothies. When it comes to which sprouts to grow, taste preference may ultimately guide your selection, but turnip sprouts are well worth trying. Glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds found in turnip sprouts, appear to have anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and antibacterial benefits.
One study even found that turnip sprouts have the second-highest level of glucosinolates out of nine cruciferous vegetables tested (second only to white mustard sprouts).5 If you're growing them at home, research shows day 8 of germination was considered the optimum for consumption in terms of glucosinolate concentration.What Types of Nutrients Are Found in Turnip Greens?
While turnip root is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, it is a starchy vegetable and therefore should only be eaten in moderation. The greens, on the other hand, can be eaten in generous quantities (although admittedly they are quite bitter).
Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese, but it's their vitamin K content that really stands out. One cup of turnip greens will give you nearly 600% of your recommended daily value of the nutrient.
Vitamin K is a powerful regulator of your inflammatory response, and along with the anti-inflammatory plant-based omega-3s found in turnip greens (in the form of alpha linolenic acid, or ALA), make this vegetable an inflammation-fighting powerhouse.
Turnip greens also contain B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, and antioxidant phytonutrients like quercetin, kaempferol, and hydroxycinnamic acid, which help lower your risk of oxidative stress. Turnip greens also belong to the "leafy green" category of vegetables, which often comes out on top for their health-boosting potential.
Last year, for instance, researchers at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Molecular Immunology division have discovered that a gene, called T-bet, which is essential for producing critical immune cells in your gut, responds to the food you eat—specifically leafy green vegetables.6Two Turnip Recipes You'll Love
The following recipes are easy to prepare yet rich in nutrition, and since turnips grow best in cold weather, these dishes are ideal for fall or winter meals.
- 2 pounds turnips (organic preferred)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim and peel the turnips. Leave baby turnips whole; cut larger turnips into large-ish bite-size pieces. Put turnips into a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands or two large spoons to toss the turnips to coat them thoroughly with the oil. Sprinkle with salt.
- Roast turnips until tender. Start checking on them after about 30 minutes. Depending on the size and age of the turnips, it may take them up to an hour or more to get completely tender.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Mashed Root Vegetables with Horseradish8
Adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl
- 1 pound turnips, preferably organic, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 ½ pounds potatoes (organic)
- ¼ cup raw heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons raw, organic grass-fed butter
- 2-3 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh horseradish
- Cook turnips in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into ½-inch pieces.
- Add potatoes to pot and boil until all vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, heat cream, butter, and horseradish (to taste) in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is hot. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- Drain vegetables, return to pot, and heat over high heat, shaking pot, until any excess liquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and our cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into vegetables; press hard on solids for more horseradish flavor if desired. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mash vegetables with a potato masher until smooth, with some small pieces remaining. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
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
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:”8Bisphenol-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.9Tips 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.
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.
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.
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
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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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).11Clear 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
- 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.
- 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.
- Grounding, or walking barefoot on the earth, may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.
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.
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
- Anti-convulsive medications
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
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.11Water 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:
- As much as possible, purchase organic produce and free-range, organic foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides, growth hormones, GMOs, and synthetic fertilizers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- Only use natural cleaning products in your home.
- 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.
- Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
- Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
- When redoing your home, look for "green," chemical-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid spraying pesticides around your home or insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective, and natural alternatives out there.
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.
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.76 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
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
- The Campaign for Real Milk has a Real Milk Finder, listing sources in various US states
- You can also contact your local Weston A. Price chapter for a listing of raw dairy vendors
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.
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
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/superfoods.jpg" alt="7 Superfoods" 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 healthiest superfoods you can eat and learn why they're super good for you through the <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/superfoods.htm"><strong>"7 Superb Superfoods to Power Up Your Life"</strong></a> infographic from Dr. Mercola. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</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><img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/superfoods.jpg" alt="7 superfoods" 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 healthiest superfoods you can eat and learn why they're super good for you through the <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/superfoods.htm"><strong>"7 Superb Superfoods to Power Up Your Life"</strong></a> infographic from Dr. Mercola. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</p></code></pre>
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.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.84. 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
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.
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.
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.
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
- Traders Point Creamery
- Cedar Summit Farm
- Maple Hill Creamery
- Seven Stars Farm
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.
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.45 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.123 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:14Honey 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.