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Dr. Mercola

7 Best Foods You Can Eat

15 hours 10 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

If you want to increase your energy, boost your mood, lose weight, and lower your risk of chronic disease, there's no doubt that tending to your diet should be a priority. But figuring out what to eat to be healthy may seem overwhelming.

There is no one-size-fits-all diet for everyone. Your age, health, gender, and lifestyle all play a role in determining how much protein, healthy fat, and carbs you need, for instance. In addition, it's important that your diet is one you find satisfying and can stick with.

The best eating plan is one that encompasses a variety of foods. This keeps your meals interesting and also increases your ability to get the nutrients you need, at appropriate levels, from your food. My nutrition plan describes this type of "diet." What you'll notice is that it's not a diet at all, but rather a way of life.

What you'll also notice, if you browse through the plan, is that allows you the freedom to customize your meals to your individual likes and dislikes, while guiding you toward truly healthy food. The fact is, even though there's no diet that's right for everyone… there are certain foods that come close.

The 7 foods that follow are my top examples. These foods are universally healthy and, in the vast majority of cases, should be part of your meals on a frequent basis.

The 7 Best Foods

1. Grass-Fed Beef and Beef Liver

Factory farming both agriculturally and for animals has seriously perverted not only the health of the animals but secondarily the health of those that eat them.

Ditching your grain-fed CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) beef in favor of grass-fed beef will result in far better nutrition (and less exposure to antibiotics and pathogenic bacteria).

A joint effort between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Clemson University researchers determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed is better than grain-fed beef for human health.1 In a side-by-side comparison, they determined that grass-fed beef was:

Lower in total fat Higher in beta-carotene Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium Higher in total omega-3s A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84) Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)

As for organ meat, it is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other compounds vital to your health – and in which many Americans are deficient.

Liver in particular is packed with nutrients, which is why predatory animals eat it first and why it has been so highly prized throughout history. The most significant nutrients in liver are outlined in the following table:2

High-quality protein B complex, including B12 and folate (folic acid)Minerals, including a highly bioavailable form of iron Fats (especially omega-3 fats)Choline (another B vitamin, important for cell membranes, brain and nerve function, heart health, and prevention of birth defects)Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, and chromium CholesterolCoQ10 (essential for energy production and cardiac function; potent antioxidant; animal hearts offer the highest levels of coQ10)Vitamin D Vitamin E (circulation, tissue repair, healing, deactivation of free radicals, and slowing aging)Pre-formed vitamin A (retinol)An unidentified "anti-fatigue factor" Purines (nitrogen-containing compounds serving as precursors to DNA and RNA)Vitamin K2Amino acids

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Consuming a variety of fresh organic greens is one of the best things you can do for your body. Topping the list in terms of nutrient density are watercress, 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 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.

When preparing your veggies, use quick, gentle cooking methods (only cooking to a tender-crisp, not mushy texture) to preserve the most nutrients. Also try to eat a good portion of them raw, which will allow you to receive beneficial biophotons. Two of the best ways to get more raw vegetables into your diet include:

  • Juicing: Juicing allows you to absorb all the nutrients from vegetables, allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner, and makes it easy to add a variety of vegetables to your diet.
  • Sprouts: The sprouting process increases nutrient content and bioavailability of nutrients. Sprouts also contain valuable enzymes that allow your body to absorb and use the nutrients of all other foods you eat. They're very easy to grow at home and a powerful low-cost strategy to improve your health.

3. Pastured Eggs

True free-range eggs, now increasingly referred to as "pasture-raised," are from hens that roam freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. Testing3 has confirmed that true pastured eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs.

The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens. In an egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official US Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contains the following:4

2/3 more vitamin A 3 times more vitamin E 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids 7 times more beta-carotene

Eggs are also a valuable source of high-quality protein and fat—nutrients that many are deficient in. And I believe eggs are a nearly ideal fuel source for most of us. In addition to high-quality proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, eggs contain two amino acids with potent antioxidant properties -- tryptophan and tyrosine. Egg yolks are also a rich source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which belong to the class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls. These two are powerful prevention elements of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness.

Ideally, you'll want to eat your eggs as close to raw as possible. Keep in mind that the closer to raw you eat them, the more important it is to make sure the eggs are truly organic and pasture-raised, as CAFO-raised eggs are far more prone to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella. As long as you're getting fresh pastured eggs, your risk of getting ill from a raw egg is quite slim. If you choose not to eat your egg yolks raw, poached or soft-boiled would be the next best option. Scrambled or fried eggs are the worst, as this oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk.

4. Fermented Foods

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 (certain probiotic strains can produce more K2 than others). 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.

Just one quarter to one half cup of fermented food, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. The culturing process produces hundreds if not thousands of times more of the beneficial bacteria found in typical probiotics, which are extremely important for human health.

Yogurt and kefir made from grass-fed raw milk are two additional examples of fermented foods. Kefir is a traditionally fermented food that is chockfull of healthy bacteria (probiotics). Far from simply helping your body to better digest and assimilate your food (which they do very well), probiotics influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner.

Friendly bacteria also train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately. This important function prevents your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens, which is the genesis of allergies. Probiotics can even help to normalize your weight, and lack of beneficial bacteria in your gut may play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, depression, and other mood disorders, and may even contribute to autism and vaccine-induced damage. In addition to beneficial probiotics, traditionally fermented kefir also contains:

Beneficial yeast Minerals, such as magnesium Essential amino acids (such as tryptophan, which is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system) Complete proteins Calcium Vitamins B1, B2, and biotin (B7) Vitamin K Phosphorus

Please beware that pasteurized products will NOT provide you with these health benefits, as the pasteurization process destroys most of the precious enzymes, bacteria and other nutrients. This is why it's important to make your own kefir or yogurt at home. As mentioned, you can get many of the same (and likely superior) benefits, by making fermented vegetables as well. For a very small investment (five or six medium-sized cabbages and other veggies to taste, celery juice for brine and, if you like, starter culture that produces high levels of vitamin K2), you can easily make up to 14 quart jars of fermented vegetables, which are an ultimate superfood. You can use these six steps to make fermented vegetables at home.

5. Grass-Fed or Pastured (Not Pasteurized) Raw Butter

Good old-fashioned butter, when made from grass-fed cows, is rich in a substance called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is not only known to help fight cancer and diabetes, it may even help you to lose weight, which cannot be said for its trans-fat substitutes (i.e. margarine). Butter is a rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A (needed for a wide range of functions, from maintaining good vision to keeping the endocrine system in top shape) and all the other fat-soluble vitamins (D, E, and K2), which are often lacking in the modern industrial diet.

Butter is rich in important trace minerals, including manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium (a powerful antioxidant). One Swedish study also found that fat levels in your blood are lower after eating a meal rich in butter than after eating one rich in olive oil, canola oil, or flaxseed oil.5 The scientists' main explanation is that about 20 percent of butterfat consists of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are used right away for quick energy and therefore don't contribute to fat levels in your blood. Therefore, a significant portion of the butter you consume is used immediately for energy.

The very best-quality butter is raw (unpasteurized) from grass-fed cows, preferably certified organic. (One option is to make your own butter from raw grass-fed milk.) The next best is pasteurized butter from grass-fed or pastured organic cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter common in supermarkets. Even the latter two are healthier choices by orders of magnitude than margarines or spreads. Beware of "Monsanto Butter," meaning butter that comes from cows fed almost entirely genetically engineered grains.6 This includes Land O'Lakes and Alta Dena.

6. Wild Alaskan Salmon

Research suggests that eating oily fish like Alaskan salmon once or twice a week may increase your lifespan by more than two years, and reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 35 percent.7 This is because such fish is an excellent source of animal-based omega-3 fats. Compared to those in the lowest percentiles, those with omega-3 blood levels in the highest 20 percent were 27 percent less likely to die of any cause, 40 percent less likely to die of coronary heart disease, and 48 percent less likely to die of an arrhythmia.8 To maximize the health benefits from fish, steer clear of farmed fish, including farmed salmon.

Levels of omega-3 fats are reduced by about 50 percent in farmed salmon, compared to wild salmon, due to the use of grain and legume feed. High levels of contaminants are also common in farmed salmon, which is why I recommend wild Alaskan salmon. Seafood labeled "Alaskan" cannot be farmed. Alaska does an incredible job at protecting their brand integrity when it comes to seafood, in addition to ensuring quality and sustainability. If you don't see the "Alaska" label or a logo from the Marine Stewardship Council, the seafood you are buying is likely farmed. If you're not a fan of salmon, you can get many of the same health benefits by eating anchovies or sardines.

7. Mushrooms

About 100 species are being studied for their health-promoting benefits, and about a half dozen really stand out for their ability to deliver a tremendous boost to your immune system. In fact, some of the most potent immunosupportive agents come from mushrooms, and this is one reason why they're so beneficial for both preventing and treating cancer. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.

In one study, adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.9 Mushrooms are not only capable of bolstering immune function and potentially fighting cancer. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants. They contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world, as well as antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a "master antioxidant."

I highly recommend adding a variety of mushrooms to your diet, including shitake, maitake and reishi. As a caveat, do make sure they're organically grown in order to avoid harmful contaminants that mushrooms may absorb and concentrate from soil, air and water. Also, avoid picking mushrooms in the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you're picking. There are a number of toxic mushrooms (all mushrooms are edible, but some of them just once—a mushroom joke), and it's easy to get them confused unless you have a lot of experience and know what to look for. Growing your own is an excellent option and a far safer alternative to picking wild mushrooms.

A Step-by-Step Plan for Dietary Success

A full 80 percent of the health benefits you reap from a healthy lifestyle can be attributed to your diet, with the remaining 20 percent coming from exercise. The challenge is that dietary advice can be a bit of a moving target. It needs to be regularly revised based on new research and wisdom from personal explorations of applying this research.

My free comprehensive nutrition plan, helps you benefit from the information that has taken me more than 30 years to compile The plan is updated with recommendations such as the addition of fermented vegetables as a source of healthy probiotics and using intermittent fasting and high-intensity exercise to really optimize your health. I encourage you to go through it from the beginning, as this plan is one of the most powerful tools to truly allow you and your family to not only optimize your diet but also to take control of your health.

Common Mistakes That Can Ruin the Health Benefits of Your Salad

15 hours 10 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Salads are most people’s first encounter with raw foods. Quick and easy to make, they are an easy and delicious way to get live, biodynamic foods into your diet. Mistakes abound however, that could turn an otherwise healthy meal into something less than ideal.

As noted by nutrition editor Cynthia Sass in a recent article for Time Magazine,1 “imbalances can either prevent a salad from being slimming, or lead to missing out on key nutrients.”  

She points out five common salad mistakes that many people make. These are certainly valuable pointers. Here, I will address a couple of them, and make some additional recommendations of my own.

  1. Too little or too much protein
  2. Insufficient variety in your choice of greens
  3. Too little or too much fat
  4. Skipping starch
  5. Insufficient seasoning
Whenever Possible, Opt for Organic Produce

Fresh organic vegetables are generally both healthier and tastier. In terms of nutrition, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the nutrient levels themselves, which do tend to be higher in organically grown foods, it’s also about what they don’t contain, namely pesticides.

Most of us significantly underestimate the amount and variety of chemicals sprayed onto the produce we eat. Tests, however, suggest most people are exposed to hundreds of them, and they accumulate in your body over time.

They can also easily be transferred to your unborn child during pregnancy. In 2009, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a study that found 232 chemicals in the placental cord blood of American newborns!

Organophosphate pesticides, which are commonly used on conventionally-grown produce, are well known for their hazards to human health. Prenatal exposure has been linked to delayed brain development, reduced IQ, and attention deficits. 

I’ve also pointed out the compelling links between agricultural chemicals and autism, and new research (known as the CHARGE study2, 3) shows that living within a mile of pesticide-treated crops increases your chances of bearing children with autism.

The recently published CHAMACOS Study, which followed hundreds of pregnant women living in the agricultural mecca of Salinas Valley, California, also found that exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children, among other health effects.

Glyphosate, another prevalent herbicide used both on conventional and genetically engineered crops at about one billion pounds a year, may be one of the most important factors in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies. The more of it you can avoid, the better.

Homegrown Sprouts Can Maximize the Nutrition of Your Salad

One of the simplest and most effective strategies to avoid harmful chemicals is to eat organic food. Another option is to grow your own. Among the easiest foods to grow at home are sprouts. As luck would have it, they’re also among the most nutritious, and they’re an excellent addition to a fresh salad.

Some of the most commonly sprouted beans, nuts, seeds, and grains are listed below. My personal favorites are pea and sunflower sprouts, which have the added benefit of providing some of the highest-quality protein you can eat.

Homegrown sprouts have radically improved the nutrition of my own primary meal, which is a salad at lunch. They’re also a perfect complement to fermented vegetables. It is hard to imagine a healthier combination that provides the essentials of nutrition, and at a very low cost.

Broccoli: known to have anti-cancer properties, courtesy of the enzyme "sulforaphane" Alfalfa: a significant dietary source of phytoestrogens. Also a good source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K Wheat grass: high in vitamins B, C, E, and many minerals Mung bean: good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins C and A Clover: significant source of isoflavones Lentil sprouts: contain 26 percent protein, and can be eaten without cooking Sunflower: contains minerals, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fiber, and phytosterols. It's also one of the highest in protein Pea shoots: good source of vitamins A and C and folic acid and one of the highest in protein Most Commercial Salad Dressings Will Do More Harm Than Good...

Perhaps the most common mistake people make with their salads is their choice of salad dressing. The vast majority of commercial salad dressings are far from healthy, as they’re chockfull of high fructose corn syrup and highly processed omega-6 GMO oils full of toxic herbicides like glyphosate.

Low-fat dressings also need to be avoided. When fat is removed from a food product, it’s usually replaced by sugar/fructose in order to taste good, and this is a recipe for poor health. Excess fructose in your diet drives insulin and leptin resistance, which are at the heart of not only diabetes but most other chronic diseases as well.

So what constitutes “healthy fat,” and why do you need to add it to your salad? For starters, fats help your body absorb important minerals and vitamins, including vitamins A, D, and E. If you don’t have enough fat with your meal, your body may not be able to properly absorb these, and other, fat-soluble nutrients.

Adding healthy fat to your salad will also make it more filling, as fats are among the most satiating. In fact, many do not realize this, but frequent hunger may be a major clue that you're not eating enough fat.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fats

The featured article notes that full-fat dressing increases absorption of valuable antioxidants compared to reduced-fat versions, but fails to make any distinction between healthy and unhealthy types of fat.

First, it’s important to realize that the use of processed omega-6 fats have increased 1,000 times in the last century, which disturbs the vital omega 6-3 ratio. If you eat any processed foods you are getting too much omega-6 fats and need to avoid any processed omega-6 oils like corn and soy and any generically branded “vegetable” oils.

Also, as revealed by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz,4 author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, while the food industry has reduced the use of harmful trans fats, they’ve reverted back to using regular vegetable oils, and this is far from an ideal replacement.

Especially when heated, vegetable oils like peanut, corn, and soy oil degrade into highly toxic oxidation products that appear to be even worse than trans fats! One category of these byproducts, called aldehydes, are of particular concern. In animals, even low levels of aldehydes oxidize LDL cholesterol and cause high levels of inflammation, which is associated with heart disease.

Cyclic aldehydes have also been shown to cause toxic shock in animals through gastric damage, and this seems consistent with the rise in immune problems and gastrointestinal-related diseases in the human population. Even when used cold, such as in salad dressing, processed vegetable oils are best avoided. If you order salad with a house vinaigrette in a restaurant, be sure to ask what kind of oil it contains. Olive oil is ideal. If they use any other kind of vegetable oil, you may be better off skipping it. Other sources of healthy fats to include liberally in your salad include:

Olives Shredded coconut Raw nuts, such as macadamia or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks AvocadosGrass-fed meat, but limited to protein level below Adding Too Much Protein to Your Salad May Be Counterproductive

Your body needs protein. It’s a main component of your body, including muscles, bones, and many hormones. However, most Americans tend to eat far too much low-quality protein for optimal health. I believe few people really need more than one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. When it comes to protein from animal sources, you also want to make sure it’s been raised on pasture, to avoid exposure to pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones, antibiotics, and other potentially harmful drugs and chemicals.

To determine your lean body mass, find out your percent body fat and subtract from 100. This means that if you have 20 percent body fat, you have 80 percent lean body mass. Just multiply that by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. Those that are aggressively exercising or competing and pregnant women typically need about 25 percent more, but most people rarely need more than 40-70 grams of protein a day.

The rationale behind limiting your protein this: when you consume protein in levels higher than recommended above, you tend to activate the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which can help you get large muscles but may also increase your risk of cancer. There is research suggesting that the "mTOR gene" is a significant regulator of the aging process, and suppressing this gene may be linked to longer life. Generally speaking, as far as eating for optimal health goes, most people are simply consuming a combination of too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat.

Translating Ideal Protein Requirements Into Foods

Substantial amounts of protein can be found in: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. As noted earlier, pea and sunflower sprouts also provide some of the highest quality protein available. To determine whether you’re getting an appropriate amount of protein, calculate your lean body mass as described above, then calculate the amount of protein you’re getting from all sources.

Again, your daily requirement is likely to be around one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. This places most average people in the range of 40 to 70 grams of protein per day. To determine the grams of protein in each food, you can refer to the chart below or simply Google the food in question.

Red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood average 6-9 grams of protein per ounce.

An ideal amount for most people would be a 3-ounce serving of meat or seafood (not 9- or 12-ounce steaks!), which will provide about 18-27 grams of protein Eggs contain about 6-8 grams of protein per egg. So an omelet made from two eggs would give you about 12-16 grams of protein.

If you add cheese, you need to calculate that protein in as well (check the label of your cheese) Seeds and nuts contain on average 4-8 grams of protein per quarter cup Cooked beans average about 7-8 grams per half cup Cooked grains average 5-7 grams per cup Most vegetables contain about 1-2 grams of protein per ounce Ramp Up Your Nutrition with Herbs

Adding fresh herbs to your salad can also go a long way toward improving your nutrition, as many are densely packed with vitamins and various phytonutrients. Because of their nutrient density, they're also thermogenic, meaning they naturally increase your metabolism. Herbs are also easy to grow at home, and many have medicinal properties to boot. A recent article in Prevent Disease5 lists seven staple herbs that belong in every kitchen, and make a great addition to any salad—either mixed in fresh, or added to homemade oil and vinegar dressing. These include:

Parsley CilantroOreganoThyme Sweet Italian basilRosemary Dill   Your Food Choices Play a Key Role in Disease Prevention and Health

I believe that food can be “medicine.” It’s certainly the best preventive strategy I can think of, and getting more raw organic food in your diet is a key point.  Besides eating more salads, juicing is another great way to get more vegetables into your diet. However, as noted in a recent article in The Atlantic,6 which details the trials and triumphs of Luke Saunders, a 28-year old entrepreneur and owner of Farmer’s Fridge, even when fresh salad is available as an option, many simply won’t make that choice...

If you fall into this category, I urge you to reconsider. Remember, if you’re avoiding salad because it doesn’t “fill you up,” it’s probably because you’re not adding enough healthy fat to it. That said, making fresh produce more readily available, especially in low-income areas, is part of the solution to many Americans chronic health problems, and Farmer’s Fridge is leading the charge:

“Saunders is confronting any number of challenges. Among them is a question that has stumped many of America’s top food-policy experts for decades: If healthy food were more convenient, would more people eat it?... 

This month, Farmer’s Fridge is rolling out two more machines. If its efforts pay off, it will eventually expand to dozens of locations all over Chicago, and possibly in other cities after that. One of Saunders’ dreams... is to install machines in more low-income neighborhoods, at prices locals can afford.

He hopes that, eventually, the dual threats of poor nutrition and obesity can be treated with fresh produce, rather than with pharmaceuticals. Efforts like Saunders’ won't improve public health single-handedly, and he knows it. But his business does seem like one potential answer to a long-standing concern in the food-policy world: That there’s not enough cheap, healthy food in low-income areas...”

What Are Eggplants Good For?

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Eggplant is a popular part of Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese cuisines, but in the US the average American eats less than one pound per year.1 They are, perhaps, the least popular member of the Solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, pepper, and potatoes, as well as some poisonous plants like Deadly Nightshade.

For centuries, in fact, especially in Europe, eggplant was regarded as a bitter plant more suited for decorating the garden than eating, and many believed it was unhealthy or even poisonous. It was even blamed for causing insanity, leprosy, and cancer.2

Early on, most eggplants were yellow or white-skinned, small and resembled the shape of an egg, hence their name. Through the years, however, new varieties of eggplant emerged, including the more familiar dark-purple variety often consumed in the US today.

In the 18th century, its taste became much less bitter and this vegetable rose out of obscurity and into some of the most beloved traditional dishes around the globe – like Middle Eastern baba ghanoush, Greek moussaka, French ratatouille, and Sicilian caponata.

If you’re new to eggplant, you might be surprised to find it can be quite sweet. Some even refer to it as a fruit, which, technically, it is (like the tomato).

Eggplants Are Packed with Antioxidants

Eggplants contain fiber, copper, B vitamins, vitamin K, and potassium, but their brightly colored skin is a sign that they’re also rich in antioxidants. Anthocyanins are one type of phytonutrient that are responsible for that dark-purple color.

One variety, nasunin, has been found to have potent antioxidant and free-radical scavenging abilities. It’s also known to protect the fats in your brain cell membranes,3 and it has iron-chelating abilities, which is beneficial if you suffer from iron overload.

The predominant antioxidant in eggplants is chlorogenic acid, which also has anti-cancer, antimicrobial, and anti-viral properties. Chlorogenic acid is also one of the most potent free-radical scavengers found in plants. One variety of eggplant in particular, known as Black Magic, has been shown to have nearly three times the antioxidants as other varieties.4

In addition, nasunin and other phytonutrients in eggplant, including terpenes, are thought to be beneficial for heart health. Animal studies show that eggplant juice has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and also relaxes blood vessels for improved blood flow.5

Eggplant Extract May Kill Cancer Cells

A cream containing eggplant extract, known as BEC and BEC5, appears to cure and eliminate most non-melanoma skin cancers in several weeks' time. There are reports that extracts of plants from the Solanaceae family of vegetables are effective for treating cancer dating back nearly 200 years to 1825, according to natural health pioneer Dr. Jonathan Wright.

However, it wasn't until much later, after the 1950s, that they were formally studied. The leading researcher in this area today is Dr. Bill E. Cham, who reported as early as 1991 in Cancer Letters that:6

"A cream formulation containing high concentrations (10%) of a standard mixture of solasodine glycosides (BEC) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of malignant and benign human skin tumors.”

One of Dr. Cham's more recent studies was published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.7 The paper includes two impressive case reports of 60-something men who were suffering from large basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which had plagued them for years. The results upon treatment with a cream formulation of BEC (eggplant extract) twice a day are astounding:

  • In the first case, treatment with the eggplant-extract cream resulted in rapid break down of the tumor. After two weeks, the lesion was reduced to about half its original size, and after 14 weeks the cancer was clinically eliminated with no scar tissue formation. Even the hairs had regrown where the tumor was originally.
  • In the second case, after six weeks of treatment with eggplant-extract cream, the large skin cancer lesion appeared "cleaner" and some of the cancerous tissue had been replaced with normal tissue.
  • In another three weeks, the lesion was much smaller and more normal tissue was apparent. After a total of 14 weeks, the lesion was completely eliminated with no scar tissue present.

Unfortunately, simply eating eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, or similar veggies, while beneficial for many reasons, will not induce this same effect because the active components are not able to effectively penetrate your cells. This requires the addition of glycosides, molecules with various simple sugars attached to them that can latch on to receptors found on skin cancer cells.

That being said, eggplant compounds have also been found to have anti-proliferative activities against human colon and liver cancer cells.8 The fact that eggplant has anti-cancer effects is one more testament to the benefits of eating a wide variety of natural foods.

How to Choose and Prepare Eggplant

For best flavor, choose eggplants that are glossy in color, firm, and heavy for their size. The stem should be bright green, and if you push on the flesh with your thumb, it should bounce back. A lasting indentation is a sign that the eggplant may be overripe. Overripe eggplants tend to be more bitter in flavor, as do those that are stored too long.

You can store an uncut eggplant in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer (in a plastic bag), but they are quite perishable. Ideally, look for eggplants that are locally grown and use them as soon as possible after harvest.

One of the allures of eggplants is their versatility. They can be baked, roasted, steamed or boiled, mashed, pureed, diced, and sliced. Although it’s not a requirement, many people “sweat” their eggplant prior to using it in recipes to help draw out some moisture, tenderize the flesh and reduce any bitterness. To do so, the George Mateljan Foundation recommends:9

To tenderize the flesh's texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it. After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.

This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking. Rinsing the eggplant after ‘sweating’ will remove most of the salt.”

Healthy Grilled Eggplant Recipe

Eggplant is a perfect addition to soups, stews, casseroles, and side dishes, and it’s often used as a replacement for meat in those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. But it’s also quite tasty on its own. To savor the unique flavor and texture of eggplant, all you need is a bit of healthy oil, salt and pepper. The grilled eggplant recipe below, from the Rodale Recipe Index, is one well worth keeping:

Grilled Eggplant10

Ingredients

  • 4 eggplants (1 lb each), with peel, cut lengthwise into 1" thick slices
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive or coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Layer several paper towels on baking sheet. Place half of eggplant on top in single layer. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and cover with paper towels. Arrange second layer of eggplant, sprinkle with remaining salt, and cover with paper towels.
  2. Let eggplant stand 30 minutes, then rinse each piece and blot dry. (This helps extract excess water, reducing bitterness and preventing eggplant from absorbing excess oil during cooking.)
  3. Brush both sides of an eggplant slice with oil to coat and transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant slices. Season with pepper.
  4. Heat grill to medium. Grill eggplant, with cover closed, 16 to 20 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned and tender. Refrigerate leftovers in airtight container for a day or two.

Bone Broth—A Most Nourishing Food for Virtually Any Ailment

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Bone broth has a long history of medicinal use. It's known to be warm, soothing, and nourishing for body, mind, and soul...

Physicians harkening as far back as Hippocrates have associated bone broth with gut healing. And while the importance of gut health is just now starting to fill our medical journals, this knowledge is far from new.

In fact, you could say modern medicine is just now rediscovering how the gut influences health and disease.

Many of our modern diseases appear to be rooted in an unbalanced mix of microorganisms in your digestive system, courtesy of a diet that is too high in sugars and too low in healthful fats and beneficial bacteria.

Digestive problems and joint problems, in particular, can be successfully addressed using bone broth. But as noted by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, vice president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and coauthor (with Sally Fallon Morell) of the book, Nourishing Broth, bone broth is a foundational component of a healing diet regardless of what ails you.

How Broth Has Been Used Through the Ages

While our ancestors used to have a pot of soup continuously puttering over the hearth, this changed with the advent of the industrial revolution, at which point many poor people simply couldn't afford the fuel to keep the fire going.

Bouillons and broth powders got their start at that time, as the need for more portable soups arose. A major turning event was when Napoleon put out a call for portable soup to feed his army.

The winner of Napoleon's competition was Nicolas Appert1 (1749-1841), whose canning process paved the way for the modern day canned goods. Later, John T. Dorrance came up with a process to create condensed soup, which led to the empire now known as Campbell's Soups.

In the early 1990s, Campbell Soup was a decent product, boasting the best ingredients, including lots of butter, and recipes from the most famous chefs of the era. As noted by Dr. Daniel, it was a very different product from what we find in grocery stores today.

Today, if you want truly high-quality bone broth or soup, your best bet is to make it yourself. Fortunately, it's easy. The trickiest part is usually going to be finding organic bones.

Bone broth, Dr. Daniel says, is actually a fast food. It just requires a little planning. One efficient way to create your broth is to use a slow-cooker or crockpot.

This will allow you to put a few basic ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on low heat, and by the time you get home in the evening it's done.

Besides being convenient and efficient, it's also safe, as you won't have to worry about leaving a pot puttering on the stove, which could pose a fire hazard if left unattended. "It's an old-fashioned remedy for the modern world," Dr. Daniel says.

Benefits of Bone Broth

Leaky gut is the root of many health problems, especially allergies, autoimmune disorders, and many neurological disorders. The collagen found in bone broth acts like a soothing balm to heal and seal your gut lining, and broth is a foundational component of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, developed by Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

The GAPS diet is often used to treat children with autism and other disorders rooted in gut dysfunction, but just about anyone with suboptimal gut health can benefit from it.

Bone broth is also a staple remedy for acute illnesses such as cold and flu. While there aren't many studies done on soup, one study did find that chicken soup opened up the airways better than hot water.

Processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth. If combating a cold, make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper.

The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to expel. Bone broth contains a variety of valuable nutrients in a form your body can easily absorb and use. This includes but is not limited to:

Calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals  Components of collagen and cartilage Silicon and other trace minerals Components of bone and bone marrow Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate The "conditionally essential" amino acids proline, glycine, and glutamine

These nutrients account for many of the healing benefits of bone broth, which include the following:

  1. Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage and collagen.
  2. Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses etc.
  3. Indeed, Dr. Daniel reports2 chicken soup — known as "Jewish penicillin"—has been revered for its medicinal qualities at least since Moses Maimonides in the 12th century. Recent studies on cartilage, which is found abundantly in homemade broth, show it supports the immune system in a variety of ways; it's a potent normalizer, true biological response modifier, activator of macrophages, activator of Natural Killer (NK) cells, rouser of B lymphocytes and releaser of Colony Stimulating Factor.

  4. Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis3 (whole-body inflammation). Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.
  5. Promotes strong, healthy bones: Dr. Daniel reports bone broth contains surprisingly low amounts of calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals, but she says "it plays an important role in healthy bone formation because of its abundant collagen. Collagen fibrils provide the latticework for mineral deposition and are the keys to the building of strong and flexible bones."
  6. Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth. Dr. Daniel reports that by feeding collagen fibrils, broth can even eliminate cellulite too.
How to Make the Most Nourishing Broth

The more gelatinous the broth, the more nourishing it will tend to be. Indeed, the collagen that leaches out of the bones when slow-cooked is one of the key ingredients that make broth so healing. According to Dr. Daniel, if the broth gets jiggly after being refrigerated, it's a sign that it's a well-made broth. To make it as gelatinous as possible, she recommends adding chicken feet, pig's feet, and/or joint bones.

All of these contain high amounts of collagen and cartilage. Shank or leg bones, on the other hand, will provide lots of bone marrow. Marrow also provides valuable health benefits, so ideally, you'll want to use a mixture of bones. You can make bone broth using whole organic chicken, whole fish or fish bones (including the fish head), pork, or beef bones. Vary your menu as the many types offer different flavors and nutritional benefits.

If you're using chicken, you can place the entire chicken, raw, into a pot and cover with water. Add a small amount of vinegar to help leach the minerals out of the bones. Alternatively, you can use the carcass bones from a roasted chicken after the meat has been removed. To ensure the broth is really gelatinous, Dr. Daniel suggests adding some chicken feet when you use the carcass of a roasted chicken, as some of the collagen will have been leached out already during the roasting process. You can also add vegetables of your choice into the pot.

The most important aspect of the broth-making process is to make sure you're getting as high-quality bones as you can. Ideally, you'll want to use organically raised animal bones. It's worth noting that chickens raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce chicken stock that doesn't gel, so you'll be missing out on some of the most nourishing ingredients if you use non-organic chicken bones. If you can't find a local source for organic bones, you may need to order them. A great place to start is your local Weston A. Price chapter leader,4 who will be able to guide you to local sources.

You can also connect with farmers at local farmers markets. Keep in mind that many small farmers will raise their livestock according to organic principles even if their farm is not USDA certified organic, as the certification is quite costly. So it pays to talk to them. Most will be more than happy to give you the details of how they run their operation.

Sample Beef Broth Recipe

Below is a classic beef stock recipe excerpted from Nourishing Broth, as well as lamb and venison variations. For more nourishing broth recipes, I highly recommend Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett's new GAPS cookbook, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet.

CLASSIC BEEF STOCK. Excerpted from the book NOURISHING BROTH by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. © 2014 by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Makes 4-5 quarts

Good beef stock requires several sorts of bones: knuckle bones and feet impart large quantities of gelatin to the broth; marrow bones impart flavor and the particular nutrients of bone marrow; and meaty ribs and shanks add color and flavor. We have found that grass-fed beef bones work best--the cartilage melts more quickly, and the smell and flavor is delicious.

Ingredients

  • About 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
  • 1 calf, beef, or pig foot, preferably cut into pieces
  • 3 pounds meaty bones such as short ribs and beef shanks
  • 1 small can or jar tomato paste (optional)
  • 4 or more quarts cold filtered water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 onions, ends removed and coarsely chopped (skin may be left on)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni made with parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf, tied together
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, or green or white peppercorns, crushed

Directions

  1. Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot, toss with vinegar and cover with cold water. Let stand for 1/2 to 1 hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a stainless steel roasting pan. For a particularly aromatic stock, brush the bones with tomato paste. Brown at 350 degrees in the oven, about ½ hour. When well browned, add these bones to the pot. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold filtered water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a simmer and carefully skim any scum that comes to the top. After you have skimmed, add the vegetables, bouquet garni, and peppercorns.
  2. Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 24 hours.
  3. Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl or several 2-quart Pyrex measuring cups. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.

Note: The marrow may be removed from the marrow bones a couple of hours into the cooking, and spread on whole grain sourdough bread. If left in the pan for the entire cooking period, the marrow will melt into the broth, resulting in a broth that is cloudy but highly nutritious.

Variation: Lamb Stock

Use lamb bones, especially lamb neck bones and riblets. Ideally, use all the bones left after butchering the lamb. Be sure to add the feet if you have them. This makes a delicious stock.

Variation: Venison Stock

Use venison meat and bones. Be sure to use the feet of the deer and a section of antler if possible. Add 1 cup dried wild mushrooms if desired.

Bone Broth—A Medicinal 'Soul Food'

Slow-simmering bones for a day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Making bone broth also allows you to make use of a wide variety of leftovers, making it very economical. Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.

"I would like to urge people to make as much broth as possible," Dr. Daniel says in closing. "Keep that crockpot going; eat a variety of soups, and enjoy them thoroughly."

Documentary, “Poison on the Platter”: GE Foods Are Spreading Across India

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The corporate and regulatory forces that are out to get genetically engineered (GE) foods onto your dinner plate by any means possible are not confined to the United States.

In his documentary, Poison on the Platter, Indian filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt examines from a unique non-Western perspective how multinational corporations and government regulators have conspired to spread GE foods across India.

The film provides an insightful perspective about the world impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as discussed by scientists on the other side of the globe.

If you don’t believe contamination of our food supply by GMOs holds the potential for planetary disaster, you might change your mind after seeing this film. Mahesh Bhatt warns:

“In their mad rush to capture the multi-billion dollar Indian agriculture and food industry, the biotech multinational companies are bulldozing warnings by scientists about the adverse impact of GM foods on health and environment...

[T]his is hurtling mankind toward a disaster, which will be far more destructive than anything the world has seen so far, simply because it will affect every single person living on this planet.”

GE proponents claim that GE foods are the solution to world hunger, increased crop yield and variety, lowered input costs, and reduced environmental impact.

They also claim that foods derived from GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to foods created by conventional growing methods. The problem is that none of those claims are supported by science.

The List of Risks Posed by GE Foods Continues to Grow

Epidemiological patterns reflect a rise in more than 30 human diseases alongside the steady increase of GE ingredients in our food supply and the dramatic increase in the use of agrichemicals, such as glyphosate.

Glyphosate is not “just” an herbicide—it was originally patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, making them unavailable for your body. Glyphosate is also patented as an antibiotic that can devastate human gut bacteria.

When you mix the genes of one species with those of another, you’re courting disaster. GE food trials involving laboratory animals have uncovered higher mortality, infertility, and multi-organ damage—such as bleeding stomachs.

Even Monsanto’s own mouse studies demonstrated that GE foods have toxic effects on multiple organs, including the liver and kidneys. One of the most ominous concerns about the GE food system is its impact on our soils.

Monoculture and massive agrichemical use are decimating soils at an alarming rate—soils that took thousands of years to develop. Trillions of beneficial microbes that make up healthy soil are destroyed, depleting its nitrogen and leading to soil erosion, pollution, and wasted water from massive runoff.

Nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer runoff has created dead zones along many coastal waterways. GE crop monocultures destroy in a blink what nature has taken millennia to create.

US Recklessly Speeds Ahead with Next-Generation GE Crops

Download Interview Transcript

What’s going on in India is not that different from the US. Despite all of the hellish evidence, there seems to be no risk substantial enough to deter the American government from pushing ahead with new GE seeds.

Herbicide and insecticide use is skyrocketing. USDA recently deregulated Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops, which are not only glyphosate-resistant, but also carry resistance to toxins like the Agent Orange ingredient 2,4-D and Dicamba. EPA has also approved Enlist Duo—a new herbicide to be used on Dow’s 2,4-D and glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans.

EPA has also doubled the amount of glyphosate allowed in your food. For example, soybean oil is allowed to contain a whopping 400 times the limit at which it can impact your health. Widespread use of GMOs has led to an enormous resistance problem.

Superweeds and resistant pests are rapidly spreading across farmland, which has necessitated the deployment of even more noxious chemicals. USDA data reveals that glyphosate use has increased 12-fold since 1996. Meanwhile, weed resistance has been documented on 60 million farm acres across the US.

The US Earns the Gold for Highest GE Food Production

The US is the world’s leading producer of GE foods, many of which are being exported to countries, like India, that will allow it. Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of GE seeds, producing 90 percent of those used across the globe. Yet three quarters of Americans are not even aware that they consume GE ingredients in almost every meal.

Many other countries believe that GE foods must be safe because Americans have been consuming them for two decades—and “not dying from them.” However, the fallacy of this reasoning is evident when you realize that it took the US about 500 years to realize that tobacco wasn’t safe.

The incidence of chronic diseases in the US has escalated since the introduction of GE foods. Therefore, no one can claim that Americans are healthy, and no one can say with any assurance that GE foods are safe. Many scientists argue that we haven't had enough time for the effects of GMOs to fully reveal themselves across populations—and when they do, the damage may be irreparable. In the words of GMO expert and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology Jeffrey Smith:

“I can say with absolute confidence that there is irrefutable and overwhelming evidence that genetically engineered foods are harmful and that they are not being evaluated properly by the governments of India, United States, the European Union, or anywhere in the world. This is one of the most dangerous technologies ever introduced on Earth, and it’s being deployed in our food supply. It is madness! What we need is a political willingness to say no more... We don’t understand the language of DNA.

Cheap Food Brings Expensive Healthcare

Genetically engineered foods have increased to keep pace with an exploding demand for "cheap food." Farmers are constantly pushed for higher yields. The current system is creating a glut of ecological problems, such as ravaging our bee populations. Forty years ago, Americans spent 16 percent of their income on food and eight percent on healthcare; today, those numbers are reversed. This "cheap food" system has bought us the most expensive healthcare in the world. In the same way that medical schools and universities are controlled by the drug industry, the food system is controlled by the agrichemical industry.

The industrialized food system is putting many small farmers out of business. Land grant universities, funded by corporate agribusiness, are under enormous pressure to shush any research that goes against the party line. Educational institutions are afraid to "bite the hand that feeds them." Mark Kastel, Co-Founder of The Cornucopia Institute, explains how other strategies are used to ensure that the public never finds out about the health dangers of GMOs:

"Monsanto and others actually have contracts with farmers, a technology agreement that prohibits the farmers from using any of their crop for research—other than agronomic research and yield research. So they can't partner with a physician or a medical researcher to take a look at the impact on human health. They've really impeded our ability to know whether or not GMOs are safe."

Big Bucks Buys Big Votes

Money changes everything. Monsanto, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and other pro-GMO forces continue pouring millions into every anti-labeling campaign in an effort to prevent you from knowing what you’re eating. Their strategy consists of false claims, lies, and scare tactics, but their money is buying them smaller and smaller margins—labeling laws are coming closer to passage with each election. Every “loss” is actually a “win” when you look at the trends. As people gain awareness of the issues, they will refuse to stand for the status quo.

  • In 2012, industry spent $45 million to defeat California’s Prop 37 labeling bill, and it lost by six points.
  • Between 2012 and mid-2014, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) successfully blocked GMO labeling laws in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million. According to the most recent analysis, opponents of GMO labeling spent more than $27 million on lobbying in the first six months of 2014 alone—this is about three times more than they spent during all of 2013.
  • In the November 2014 election, the GMO industry and supporters spent $37 million to prevent Oregon and Colorado from passing their respective labeling laws. This effort was successful in Colorado, but in Oregon the race couldn’t be any tighter!
It’s Time to Stop the Insanity

Election season may be over, but you can vote with your wallet every day. If enough of us make our voices heard, things CAN change. For example, you can boycott GMA Member Traitor Brands, which helps level the playing field. As always, continue educating yourself and sharing what you've learned. Think of yourself as being pro-evidence, as opposed to anti-GMO. Just because you question something doesn't mean you're opposed to it—you just want more evidence so that you can make a good decision for yourself and your family. This film provides one more learning tool that you can forward to your friends and family, to help them take charge of their health.

Do You Know What's in Your Nail Polish?

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Painting your nails may seem like an innocent part of your beauty routine, but inside those colorful bottles are some not-so-pretty secrets. Toxic chemicals are common in nail polish, and there’s often no way for you to know exactly what’s lurking inside.

Some might argue that occasional application of nail polish is only going to expose you to trace amounts of chemicals in levels too low to raise concern, but nail polish is just one beauty product that many women use on a regular basis.

When you add up the toxic exposures from nail polish, however “small” they may (or may not) be, with those from fragrances, makeup, body lotions, and more, it can no longer be brushed off as insignificant.

Many chemicals, including those known as endocrine disruptors, have shown adverse effects at even very low doses, and even more concerning are the effects of such chemicals on the most vulnerable populations, like pregnant women and young children (who may also have their nails painted on occasion).

So knowing what’s in your nail polish should not be an afterthought. Americans spend upwards of $768 million a year on nail polish, and nail products represent the strongest and fastest-growing segment of the beauty industry.1

You have the power to change the direction this industry is heading by demanding safe, truly non-toxic nail products… and supporting only those brands that follow suit.

Nail Polish Plasticizer Linked to Birth Defects in Animals

In 2000, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study showing that 37 nail polishes from 22 companies contained dibutyl phthalate (DBP). DBP is known to cause lifelong reproductive impairments in male rats, and has been shown to damage the testes, prostate gland, epididymis, penis, and seminal vesicles in animals.

It’s used in nail polish because it increases flexibility and shine, but research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that all 289 people tested had DBP in their bodies.2

Worse still, this chemical, which remember is linked to birth defects in animals, was found at the highest levels in women of childbearing age. According to EWG:3

“Women of childbearing age appeared to receive the highest exposures to DBP. Estimates based on data published by CDC researchers in October 2000 indicate that DBP exposures for 3 million women of childbearing age may be up to 20 times greater than for the average person.

Children born to these women would receive considerable exposure while in the womb, undergoing the most sensitive period of growth and development.”

For instance, in one study, women who had higher concentrations of two types of phthalates (DEHP and DBP) also had boys who appeared more feminized in their personality while playing. EWG’s findings were the impetus for a coalition of environmental and public health organizations, including EWG, to begin a push for companies to get these toxic chemicals out of their products…

The ‘Toxic Trio’ in Nail Polish

DBP is the first of the toxic trio. The other two toxic ingredients commonly found in nail polish include:

  • Toluene, which is made from petroleum or coal tar. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. In nail polish, toluene is used to give the polish a smooth finish.
  • Formaldehyde, a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, and a known carcinogen (formaldehyde exposure has been associated with leukemia specifically). Formaldehyde is used in nail polish as a hardener and preservative.

The chemicals are not only a concern for women using the polish, but also for workers in nail salons, who are exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis. The good news is that, beginning in 2006, some large cosmetic companies announced they were going “three free.”

They pledged to remove the toxic trio from their nail polish. The bad news is that, in 2012, California’s Department of Toxic Substances revealed that some products claiming to be non-toxic and even “three free” still contained the toxic chemicals.4 For instance:5

  • 10 of 12 nail polishes that claimed to be free of toluene contained the substance
  • 5 of 7 nail polishes that claimed to be free of all three chemicals actually contained one or more at elevated levels

As noted by Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D., senior scientist with Environmental Working Group:6

“Whether cosmetics products are mislabeled or not, the truth is many personal care products are delivering a number of highly suspicious chemicals into our bodies…

The industry is largely unregulated, allowing cosmetics companies to use any mix of chemicals they choose. Professional products found in salons are not required to provide consumers with even the most basic information on their ingredients.”

The Next Generation of Nail Polishes Are ‘5 Free’

Three-free nail polishes are now relatively common, although, as the California study showed, you can’t necessarily take the label at face value. The “next generation” of polish has taken it a step further and (supposedly) removed five harmful toxins. Five-free nail polish should be free from DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde, plus:

  • Formaldehyde resin: Although formaldehyde resin hasn’t been linked to cancer like regular formaldehyde, it’s a skin allergen known to cause dermatitis. It can also off-gas formaldehyde and may contain residual levels of formaldehyde.
  • Camphor: This is a scented substance derived from the wood of the camphor tree. It can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches when inhaled, especially in large doses, making it a concern for nail technicians.

If a nail polish is five-free does that mean it’s safe? Not necessarily. A single nail polish can contain dozens of chemicals, and, as is the case with most cosmetics, it’s a largely unregulated industry.

Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics, and only about 10 percent have been evaluated for safety. And although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually has direct authority to regulate harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, it doesn't exercise it…

What does this mean for a health-conscious person like yourself? When you use nail polish, you’re taking a chance that you’re applying harmful chemicals to your nails, even if it claims to be non-toxic. As pediatrician Dr. Maja Castillo told the Huffington Post:7

"I don't think there have been any definitive studies that show that nail polish alone is enough to cause any harm… But I think that the risks outweigh any potential 'benefits.'"

This may be especially true for children, who are likely to chew on their nails and end up ingesting much of the polish. But regardless of its intended recipient, if you’re going to paint your nails your best bet is to choose a reputable eco-friendly brand that is water-based and centered around using natural, non-toxic ingredients. If you visit a nail salon, bring your own natural polish with you, or visit a green salon that offers such products. Alternatively, try the natural option below for making your nails shine…

A Natural Way to Create Beautiful Nails

Simple buffing can create a nice, smooth sheen to your nails, without using any nail polish whatsoever. An added boon is that it may actually help your nails grow stronger and longer due to increased circulation, and you won't have to worry about chipped nail polish either. The following video demonstrates how to buff your own nails.

Answering Emails After Work Is Bad for Your Health

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The majority of US workers (52 percent) check their e-mail during non-work hours, including on sick days.1 Depending on your employer, it may be an unspoken requirement to respond immediately, but, more likely, you respond right away not because of actual workplace policy but due to a phenomenon known as “telepressure.”

Telepressure, according to Northern Illinois University Larissa Barber, PhD, is “the urge to respond immediately to work-related messages, no matter when they come.”2 Some might find this to be efficient, but what it really does is blur the line between your work life and your personal life, such that you may rarely get a real rest.

Barber’s study was revealing… those who felt greater telepressure, and therefore a stronger urge to check and respond to e-mails at all hours, faced some serious consequences. As noted in the Journal of Occupational Health and Psychology:3

This experience [workplace telepressure] can lead to fast response times and thus faster decisions and other outcomes initially. However, research from the stress and recovery literature suggests that the defining features of workplace telepressure interfere with needed work recovery time and stress-related outcomes.”

What Are the Risks of Being Always Accessible?

Those who experienced greater telepressure, and therefore made a habit of responding to e-mails ASAP no matter what the hour, reported:

  • Worse sleep
  • Higher levels of burnout (physical and cognitive)
  • Increased health-related absences from work

As Barber told TIME:4 

It’s like your to-do list is piling up, so you’re cognitively ruminating over these things in the evening and re-exposing yourself to workplace stressors… When people don’t have this recovery time, it switches them into an exhaustion state, so they go to work the next day not being engaged.”

This is not a uniquely American problem, of course. In the European Union, surveys show that people are finding it increasingly difficult to stop their work life from blending with their private life.5 And in Germany, psychological illness is the reason for 14 percent of missed work days, which is a 50 percent rise over the last 12 years.6

And according to a survey of more than 2,000 people, work topped the list as the most stressful factor in people's lives. Workplace stress resulted in 7 percent of adults having suicidal thoughts.

That figure was even higher among 18-24-year olds — as many as 10 percent in this age group have had suicidal thoughts as a result of work stress. One in five people also reported developing anxiety due to work-related stresses, and even more disturbingly, nearly 60 percent reported using alcohol after work to cope.7

Without the necessary downtime during non-work hours, it’s easy to see how this stress and burnout could quickly spiral out of control. And the cost associated with all this stress goes beyond that of an individual’s health. It’s also costly to employers.

“Stress-related health expenses, productivity losses and the costs associated with high employee turnover rates is currently costing American companies an estimated $360 billion each year.”8

Germany Considers Law to Protect Citizens from Work-Related Stress

In the US, where close to one in four Americans receive no paid vacation or holidays, leading to a country known as the “no-vacation nation,” workplace well-being is not often an issue that ends up on the ballot (and least not favorably).9

This is not the case in certain other countries, like France, where a legally binding labor agreement introduced this year mandates that 250,000 employees “disconnect” from work in every way outside of working hours (and this is in addition to the 35-hour workweek the country adopted in 1999).10

In Germany, meanwhile, the labor minister has commissioned a study to define the cost of work-related stress to the economy, which might “pave the way” for an anti-stress act that was recently proposed by Germany’s metalworkers’ union. That act includes wording that employees should be protected from being “permanently reachable by modern means of communication.”11

Already, certain German employers have taken matters into their own hands. Volkswagen, for instance, stopped its servers from sending emails to certain employees outside of working hours back in 2011. And Daimler has given 100,000 workers the option of having their emails automatically deleted while they’re on vacation.12

Another Reason to Avoid Checking Your E-Mails After Work…

Checking e-mails late at night not only exposes you to work-related stress… it also exposes you to artificial light. The quality of your sleep has a lot to do with light, both outdoor and indoor lighting, because it serves as the major synchronizer of your master clock.

Exposure to even small amounts of light from your computer, tablet, or smartphone can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. The research is quite clear that people who use their computer or smartphones near bedtime are more likely to report symptoms of insomnia.13

Plus, when you're connected to the Internet, your phone or computer are communicating with nearby cell towers, which means they're also emitting low levels of radiation. One 2008 study revealed that people exposed to radiation from their mobile phones for three hours before bedtime had more trouble falling asleep and staying in a deep sleep.14

I recommend turning off electronic gadgets at least an hour prior to bedtime, but sooner is better. If you must check an e-mail at night, you can try a free computer program called f.lux (see JustGetFlux.com), which alters the color temperature of your computer screen as the day goes on, pulling out the blue wavelengths (which suppress melatonin production) as it gets late. You can also wear yellow-tinted glasses, which block the blue wavelengths of light.

It’s Important to Set Boundaries for Your Work Hours

In an interview with the Atlantic,15 writer Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, explained that birth rates are actually declining in the US.

Young people simply don't see how they can juggle both work and family life, with the latter being ultimately sacrificed. Busyness and "living a fast-paced life" are increasingly being viewed as signs of status. The more e-mails you have to check in a day, the more important you are.

The more meetings you attend, phone calls you receive, and lessons your child attends, the better. On the work front, especially, extreme hours are valued and overwork has become the norm. This has a tremendous impact on your quality of life outside of work, of course, as many are unable to fully disconnect from work, unwind, and pursue valuable leisure pursuits. As Schulte explained:

"…overwork has really become pervasive. I'm not talking about hard work. I'm all for hard work that we find meaning in. But overwork leaves us burned out and disengaged butts in chairs at work and fried at home without the energy to do much more than flop down in front of the boob tube."

Not quite the leisure the ancient Greek philosophers had in mind when they said pure leisure was that place where we both refreshed the soul and become most fully human... Against that backdrop comes technology and the ability to be connected 24/7,

This leads to a feeling of constantly being "on call," that you can never quite get away from work, that the boundaries that used to keep work more contained have bled and spilled over into the hours of the day that used to be for family, for self, for leisure, for sleep."

One solution is to set boundaries that help delineate work and personal time. Reserve your morning for exercise and meditation, for example, and don’t check e-mail until you get into the office. After your work has concluded for the day, ‘unplug’ from all technology to give yourself time to recharge.

Are You Ready to Unwind? Make the Most of Your Non-Work Hours

After you've gone to work, finished your errands or household chores, and gotten your kids to bed, many are simply too tired to think about stress relief, so they zone out to mindless entertainment or social media and go to bed feeling frazzled and anxious (maybe after checking more work e-mails, too)… not surprisingly, they then start off the next day feeling much the same. It's a vicious cycle, but one that's easily broken by turning stress management into a habit. You needn't devote hours to stress relief every day. Instead, you'll find that activities you already do can work wonders for calming your nerves, especially if you make a commitment to doing them on most days of the week. Try…

1. Exercise

Exercise affects a neurotransmitter that has an antidepressant-like effect on your brain while helping to decrease muscle tension.16 Exercise also guards against the adverse physical effects of stress. During periods of high stress, those who exercised less frequently had 37 percent more physical symptoms than those who exercised more often.17

2. Spend More Time in Nature

Going outdoors helps to relieve your stress naturally, with research showing levels of the stress hormone cortisol lower in those who live in areas with the most green space, as are their self-reported feelings of stress.18 Even five minutes in nature can help reduce stress and boost your mood.

3. Focus on Your Breathing

Learning to breathe mindfully can modify and accelerate your body's inherent self-regulating physiological and bioenergetic mechanisms. These changes are in large part due to the fact that you're oxygenating your body properly as well as correcting your internal and energetic balance, and it has a direct impact on your nervous system. Ideally, you should be breathing primarily through your nose. Learning a simple technique called Buteyko breathing can help you restore normal and beneficial breathing patterns.

4. Participate in Activities You Enjoy

Engaging in a hobby gives you crucial time to play and simply enjoy yourself. A hobby can take your mind off of stress and adds more much-needed fun to your life.

5. Eat Right

Schedule time to eat without rushing or too close to bedtime, and make sure to maintain optimal gut health by regularly consuming fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. Plenty of scientific evidence now shows that nourishing your gut flora with the friendly bacteria within fermented foods or probiotics is extremely important for proper brain function, including psychological well-being and mood control.

6. Stay Positive

This is a learned technique that can lead to a more joyful life and likely much better health, as those who are optimistic have an easier time dealing with stress, and are more inclined to open themselves up for opportunities to have positive, regenerative experiences. Try keeping a list of all that you're grateful for and make a commitment to stop any negative self-talk.

7. Stay Connected

Loneliness can be a major source of stress, so make a point to connect with those around you – even a quick chat while in line at the grocery store. Work your way up to volunteering, attending community events, meeting acquaintances for coffee, or taking a class to meet others with like interests.

8. Take a Break or Meditate

Taking even 10 minutes to sit quietly and shut out the chaos around you can trigger your relaxation response.19 Even meditating during your breaks can help you to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety.

Preventing Kidney Stones May Be As Simple As Changing Your Diet

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In the 1970s, less than 4 percent of Americans had suffered from kidney stones. By the 1990s, this had increased to more than 5 percent. Today, with rates continuing to rise, kidney stones will impact one in 10 US adults at some point during their lives1 -- usually between the ages of 20 and 50.

In most cases, kidney stones pass without causing lasting damage, but the pain during passing can be excruciating. Kidney stones are also sometimes associated with lower back pain, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, fever, and chills.

Generally, the larger the stone, the more pain and symptoms it will cause. Sometimes aggressive treatments are needed to clear the stones, and each year, more than half a million people go to US emergency rooms due to kidney stones.2

Once you’ve had them, your risk of recurrence increases. About 35 percent to 50 percent of people will have another bout with kidney stones within five years unless changes are made.3 What type of changes? According to new guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians (ACP), one of the simplest strategies you can take is to drink more water.

Staying Hydrated Lowers Your Risk of Recurrent Kidney Stones

The number one risk factor for kidney stones is not drinking enough water. If you aren't drinking enough, your urine will have higher concentrations of substances that can precipitate out and form stones.

Specifically, stone-forming chemicals include calcium, oxalate, urate, cysteine, xanthine, and phosphate. These chemicals should be eliminated in your urine via your kidney, but if too little liquid is present, they can join together to form a stone. According to the National Kidney Foundation:4

“Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine… In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming.”

The new ACP guidelines call for people who have had a kidney stone in the past to increase their fluid intake so they have at least two liters of urine per day, which they say could decrease stone recurrence by at least half.5 To achieve this, they recommend increased fluid intake spread throughout the day, pointing out that both water and mineral water are beneficial.

Research shows, for instance, among patients with kidney stones that those who increase hydration to reach two liters of urine a day had a 12 percent recurrence rate compared to 27 percent among those who didn’t increase their fluid intake.

The National Kidney Foundation recommends drinking more than 12 glasses of water a day, but a simpler way to know if you are drinking enough water is to check the color of your urine; you want your urine to be a very light, pale yellow (darker urine is more concentrated).

Every person's water requirement is different, depending on your particular metabolic requirements and activity level, but simply keeping your urine light yellow will go a long way toward preventing kidney stones.

Remember to increase your water intake whenever you increase your activity and when you're in a warmer climate. If you happen to be taking any multivitamins or B supplements that contain vitamin B2 (riboflavin), the color of your urine will be a very bright, nearly fluorescent yellow and this will not allow you to use the color of your urine as a guide to how well you are hydrated.

Water Reduces Risk, But Soda Increases It

One important point: not just any fluid will do to increase your urine output. While water and mineral water were protective, drinking soda is associated with kidney stones, possibly because the phosphorus acid it contains acidifies your urine, which promotes stone formation.

In addition, one South African study found that drinking soda exacerbates conditions in your urine that lead to formation of calcium oxalate kidney stone problems.6 The sugar, including fructose (and high fructose corn syrup in soda), is also problematic.

A diet high in sugar can set you up for kidney stones, since sugar upsets the mineral relationships in your body by interfering with calcium and magnesium absorption. The consumption of unhealthy sugars and soda by children is a large factor in why children as young as age 5 are now developing kidney stones.

Sugar can also increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in your kidney, such as the formation of kidney stones. According to The National Kidney Foundation, you should pay particular attention to keeping your fructose levels under control:7

"Eating too much fructose correlates with increasing risk of developing a kidney stone. Fructose can be found in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. In some individuals, fructose can be metabolized into oxalate."

So if you’re a soda drinker, cutting back is an important strategy to remember. In one study, those with kidney stones who eliminated soda from their diet lowered their risk of recurrence by about 15 percent.8

Kidney Stones Associated with Increased Risk of Broken Bones

As mentioned, kidney stones usually pass without any lasting complications, however there are some long-term associated risks. Kidney stones increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease, for instance, and new research also shows they might be associated with more brittle bones.9

Past research has suggested that people with kidney stones have lower bone mineral density. The new study used data from more than 52,000 people and showed that those with kidney stones were at a significantly higher risk of bone fractures. Specifically:10

  • Men with kidney stones were 10 percent more likely to suffer broken bones than men without
  • Male teens with kidney stones had a 55 percent higher fracture risk than those without
  • Women with kidneys stones had a 17 percent to 52 percent increased fracture risk depending on age (from their 20s to 60s); those aged 30-39 had the highest risk
Fluoride Also Linked to Kidney Stones

If you live in area with fluoridated drinking water (such as most of the US), you might be interested to know that high levels of fluoride in water are associated with kidney stones.11 The condition was nearly five times more common in an area with high fluoride (3.5 to 4.9 parts per million, or ppm) than a similar area without high fluoride levels in the water.12

Overall, the prevalence of kidney stones in the high-fluoride area was nearly double in those with fluorosis than those without. Dental fluorosis – a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled – is one of the first signs of over-exposure to fluoride.

Eventually, it can result in badly damaged teeth, and worse... It's important to realize that dental fluorosis is NOT "just cosmetic." It can also be an indication that the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, has been overexposed to fluoride as well. In other words, if fluoride is having a visually detrimental effect on the surface of your teeth, you can be virtually guaranteed that it's also damaging other parts of your body, such as your bones. A reverse osmosis water filtration system can remove fluoride from your drinking water.

Exercise, Avoiding Overeating Are Two More Powerful Tools for Preventing Kidney Stones

You're more prone to kidney stones if you're bedridden or very sedentary for a long period of time, partly because limited activity can cause your bones to release more calcium. Exercise will also help you to resolve high blood pressure, a condition that doubles your risk for kidney stones. Even low amounts of exercise may be beneficial to reducing your risk. In a study involving more than 84,000 postmenopausal women, it was found that those who exercised had up to a 31 percent lower risk of kidney stones.13 The link persisted even with only small amounts of physical activity.

Specifically, the research showed a lower risk from three hours a week of walking, four hours of light gardening or just one hour of moderate jogging. You can find my comprehensive exercise recommendations, including how to perform highly recommended high-intensity interval training (HIIT), here. Diet wise, women who ate more than 2,200 calories per day increased their risk of kidney stones by up to 42 percent, while obesity also raised the risk. It should be noted that even though obesity increases kidney stone risk, weight loss surgery that alters your digestive tract actually makes them more common. After weight loss surgery, levels of oxalate are typically much higher (oxalate is the most common type of kidney stone crystal).

3 More Dietary Approaches for Avoiding Kidney Stones

We’ve already covered drinking plenty of water and avoiding soda, excess sugar and fructose. What else can help reduce your risk?

1. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body, and deficiency of this mineral has been linked to kidney stones. An estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient, so this could be a major factor. Magnesium plays an important role in your body's absorption and assimilation of calcium, as if you consume too much calcium without adequate magnesium, the excess calcium can actually become toxic and contribute to health conditions like kidney stones.

Magnesium helps prevent calcium from combining with oxalate, which, as mentioned, is the most common type of kidney stone. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, and one of the simplest ways to make sure you're consuming enough of these is by juicing your vegetables. Vegetable juice is an excellent source of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts like almonds, and seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Avocadoes are also a good source.

2. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods (But Be Careful with Supplements)

In the past, kidney stone sufferers have been warned to avoid foods high in calcium, as calcium is a major component of the majority of kidney stones. However, there is now evidence that avoiding calcium may do more harm than good. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study of more than 45,000 men,14 and the men who had diets rich in calcium had a one-third lower risk of kidney stones than those with lower calcium diets. It turns out that a diet rich in calcium actually blocks a chemical action that causes the formation of the stones.

It binds with oxalates (from foods) in your intestine, which then prevents both from being absorbed into your blood and later transferred to your kidneys. So, urinary oxalates may be more important to formation of calcium-oxalate kidney stone crystals than is urinary calcium. It is important to note that it is the calcium from foods that is beneficial -- not calcium supplements, which have actually been found to increase your risk of kidney stones by 20 percent.15

3. Avoid Non-Fermented Soy

Soybeans and soy-based foods may promote kidney stones in those prone to them, as they may contain high levels of oxalates, which can bind with calcium in your kidney to form kidney stones. This is just one reason why unfermented soy -- the type found in soy milk, soy burgers, soy ice cream, and even tofu -- is not a health food. If you were to carefully review the thousands of studies published on soy, I strongly believe you would reach the same conclusion as I have -- which is, the risks of consuming unfermented soy products FAR outweigh any possible benefits.

If you're interested in enjoying the health benefits of soy, choose fermented soy, as after a long fermentation process, the phytate (which blocks your body's uptake of essential minerals) and anti-nutrient levels of soybeans (including oxalates) are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.

So while kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful, the good news is that there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk… Check out my nutrition plan for a simple, step-by-step guide for what types of foods to eat to reduce your risk of kidney stones and other chronic and acute health conditions.

Improved Screening Has Led to False Rise in Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Thyroid cancer appears to be on the rise in many areas of the world, although recent research suggests this may be more due to over-diagnosis than an actual increase in incidence.

In the US, the rate of thyroid cancer has doubled since 1994.1 In South Korea, it has become the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, having increased 15-fold in the past 20 years.

However, some cancer experts note that the situation in South Korea is likely due to increased screening and misdiagnosis of harmless tumors. As noted in the featured article:2

“South Koreans embraced screening about 15 years ago when the government started a national program for a variety of cancers — breast, cervix, colon, stomach and liver.

Doctors and hospitals often included ultrasound scans for thyroid cancer for an additional fee of $30 to $50... Although more and more small thyroid cancers are being found, however, the death rate has remained rock steady, and low.

If early detection were saving lives, death rates should have come down. That pattern — more cancers detected and treated but no change in the death rate — tells researchers that many of the cancers they are finding and treating were not dangerous.”

The Risks of Over-Diagnosis

Finding tiny benign tumors that really do not need treatment is known as over-diagnosis—a phenomenon that is also common in other kinds of cancer screening, particularly breast cancer.

It’s emotionally difficult to take a “wait and see” approach once a tumor has been noted on a test or scan, but treating it can do far more harm than good if it’s benign. Far more people die with thyroid cancers than from them.

Left alone, a benign, slow-growing tumor might never cause a problem—indeed as many as many as one-third of people die with small thyroid tumors that remained undetected throughout their lives,3 and the cancer didn’t actually cause their death.

Removing and treating harmless tumors, however, can lead to a slew of cascading health problems. For example, surgical removal of your thyroid means you need to take thyroid hormones for the remainder of your life.

For many, this will lead to less than optimal hormone function. Chronic hormone deficiency, depression, and other symptoms of low thyroid function can become lifelong companions as a result... Surgical removal of the thyroid can also result in accidental damage to your vocal cords and/or parathyroid glands.

In South Korea, two percent of patients suffer vocal cord paralysis, and 11 percent end up with hypoparathyroidism as a result of damage to the parathyroid glands—the latter of which detrimentally affects calcium regulation in your body.

Experts Call for Restraint in Screening for Thyroid Cancer

The answer, some cancer experts say, is to simply reduce screening that finds these tiny, harmless cancers. One of the South Korean authors of the featured paper4 goes so far as to propose thyroid cancer screening should be banned. As noted by the New York Times:

“[C]ancer experts said the situation in South Korea should be a message to the rest of the world about the serious consequences that large-scale screening of healthy people can have.

‘It’s a warning to us in the US that we need to be very careful in our advocacy of screening,’ said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. ‘We need to be very specific about where we have good data that it saves lives.’

...These tiny cancers, called papillary thyroid cancers, are the most common kind and are the sort typically found with screening. They are known to be the least aggressive.

The epidemic was not caused by an environmental toxin or infectious agent, said Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth, an author of the paper.5

‘An epidemic of real disease would be expected to produce a dramatic rise in the number of deaths from disease,’ he said. ‘Instead we see an epidemic of diagnosis, a dramatic rise in diagnosis and no change in death.’

...[T]he lesson from South Korea should be heeded, said Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, director of the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute. ‘The message for so long is that early detection is always good for you,’ he said.

But this stark tale of screening gone wrong ‘should acutely raise awareness of the consequences of acting on the intuition that all screening must be of benefit and all diagnoses at an early stage are of benefit.’”

One in Eight Women Has Thyroid Disease

While the actual incidence of thyroid cancer may not be on the rise, thyroid disease has become very prevalent in today’s world, courtesy of a number of different lifestyle factors.

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD, one in eight women aged 35-65 has some form of thyroid disease6—underactive thyroid being the most common. More than one-quarter of women in perimenopause are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, in which insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone is produced.

Thyroid hormones7 are used by every cell of your body, which is why the symptoms can vary so widely. For example, thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and body weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat. Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may also include but are not limited to the following:

Fatigue, loss of energy, and general lethargy Cold intolerance Muscle and/or joint pain Decreased sweating DepressionPuffiness Weight gainCoarse or dry skin and hair Hair lossSleep apnea Carpal tunnel syndromeForgetfulness, impaired memory, and inability to concentrate Menstrual disturbancesDecreased appetite Impaired fertilityConstipation Fullness in the throat and hoarsenessIncreased risk of heart disease Increased “bad” cholesterol (LDL)Weakness in extremities Emotional instabilityBlurred vision Mental impairmentDecreased hearing Bradycardia (reduced heart rate)  The Effect of Thyroid Disease on Mental Health

Depression and other mental health problems are perhaps particularly notable symptoms of thyroid dysfunction—if nothing else because it’s a common side effect that is easily overlooked and therefore misdiagnosed. If your depression is due to an underactive thyroid, clearly the answer to your problem is not an antidepressant but rather addressing your thyroid function... As explained by Dr. Northrup:

“The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the area of your neck just below the Adam’s apple. It’s part of the endocrine system, and it secretes the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyroxine (T3), which regulate the body’s metabolic rate. Thyroid function is very complex and exerts a profound effect on the function of nearly every other organ in the body. Therefore, smooth functioning of the overall body chemistry depends on the health of your thyroid gland.

It is not uncommon for women with thyroid problems to suffer from depression. One explanation for this is that the most biologically active form of thyroid hormone, T3, is actually a bona fide neurotransmitter that regulates the action of serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is important for quelling anxiety.”

It’s important to realize that thyroid dysfunction is a complex issue, with many variables. As noted by Dr. Northrup, midlife hypothyroidism can be related to underlying estrogen dominance, in which case taking thyroid hormone fails to address the root of the problem. Medications can also disrupt your thyroid function, in which case the most appropriate remedy may not be to add thyroid hormone.

Known thyroid-disrupting drugs include steroids, barbiturates, cholesterol–lowering drugs, the antiepileptic drug Dilantin, and beta-blockers. Heavy metal toxicity is yet another factor that can be part of the problem (to learn more about this, please listen to my interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright, below). Last but not least, Dr. Northrup8 also points out that thyroid disease oftentimes has an emotional/spiritual component:

“Thyroid disease is related to expressing your feelings, something that until relatively recently had been societally blocked for women for thousands of years. In order to have your say—and maintain your thyroid energy—you must take a fearless inventory of every relationship in which you feel you don’t have a say...

One more thing, thyroid disorders are also related to our relationship to time. The thyroid is adversely affected by feeling as though there’s never enough time or that you are running out of time. This feeling also results in adrenal burnout (which is related to thyroid disorders.). Our culture’s relationship to time is very unbalanced... A starting point here is to realize that you have all the time there is. Literally. And all the time that anyone else has—24 hours in a day.

You can change your relationship to time by changing the way you pay attention... Take regular moments during the day to simply put your attention on something. Notice a beautiful flower. Or a tree. Or the sky. Slow down and pay attention. Eventually this little practice will improve your relationship to time.”

Treating Overactive Thyroid

The reverse condition, in which too much thyroid hormone is produced, is called hyperthyroidism. While far less common, it can be a very serious condition. Making matters worse, conventional treatment options usually involve using radioactive iodine, which is a disaster, or surgery. According to Dr. Jonathan Wright, there may be a much better and safer option: a combination of iodine and lithium. This treatment originated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), at their department of thyroid. They had enough people with hyperthyroidism there that they were able to divide them into four treatment groups, receiving either:

  • Lithium
  • Lugol’s iodine
  • Lithium first and then, three or four days later, iodine
  • Lugol’s iodine first, and then three or four days later, lithium

The group that started with Lugol’s iodine and finished with lithium did significantly better than all of the other groups in getting the hyperthyroidism under rapid control. More than two decades ago, The Mayo Clinic also published an article on the treatment of hyperthyroidism using lithium. Here, they used lithium alone, and were also able to bring abnormally high T3 and T4 numbers down to normal within a week to 10 days. It didn’t work on everybody though.

According to Dr. Wright, Walter Reed’s system is profoundly effective. Of all the people treated for hyperthyroidism in Dr. Wright’s clinic, amounting to about 40, there have only been two cases where the protocol failed. Normal levels can often be achieved in less than two weeks. In summary, the treatment is as follows:

  • Patient starts out on five drops of Lugol’s iodine, three times per day
  • After four or five days, patient starts receiving 300 mg of lithium carbonate, one to three times per day
The Importance of Iodine for Thyroid Function

Iodine is the key to a healthy thyroid and efficient metabolism. Even the names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached -- T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 (the biologically active form of the hormone) has three -- showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry.

As your body cannot produce its own iodine, it must be obtained from your diet.  Iodine is sequestered into your thyroid gland, where it is incorporated into the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) or triiodothyronine (T3). In healthy individuals these hormones are precisely regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and are required by all metabolically active cells in your body. Unfortunately, iodine deficiency is extremely common these days, and while toxic exposure plays a significant role in thyroid disease, this nutritional deficiency is an important factor.

More than 11 percent of all Americans—and more than 15 percent of American women of child-bearing age—have urine iodine levels less than 50 micrograms per liter (mcg/L),9 indicating moderate to severe iodine deficiency. An additional 36 percent of reproductive-aged women in the US are considered mildly iodine deficient (<100 mcg/L urinary iodine). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends taking an iodine supplement during pregnancy, as most pregnant women are deficient.10

Your iodine levels can also be affected by toxic exposures. Iodine is a member of a class of related elements called "halogens," which includes bromine, fluorine, and chlorine. When they are chemically reduced, they become "halides" (iodide, bromide, fluoride, and chloride). Most people today are exposed to these halogens/halides via food, water, medications, and environment and these elements selectively occupy your iodine receptors, further deepening your iodine deficit. Additional factors contributing to falling iodine levels include:

Water fluoridation Diets low in fish, shellfish, and seaweed Vegan and vegetarian diets Decreased use of iodized salt Less use of iodide in the food and agricultural industry Use of radioactive iodine in many medical procedures, which competes with natural iodine How Much Iodine Do You Need?

In Japan, the daily dose of iodine obtained from the diet averages around 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 2-3 milligrams (mg), and there’s reason to believe this may be a far more adequate amount than the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 150 mcg. Some argue for even higher amounts than that, such as Dr. Brownstein, who recommends 12.5 milligrams (mg) on a regular basis. Other proponents of higher iodine amounts include Guy Abraham, an ob-gyn and endocrinologist at the University of Southern California, and Dr. Jonathan Wright, a pioneer in natural medicine. To learn more about iodine supplementation at higher dosages, and other treatment protocols for correcting thyroid dysfunction, I highly recommend listening to my interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright.


Download Interview Transcript

Take Control of Your Thyroid Health

Thyroid hormones are used by cells throughout your body, making it very important to address your thyroid health. Again, iodine is the key to a healthy thyroid, and it’s also important for the prevention of breast cancer. If you’re not getting enough from your diet (in the form of seafood), you’d be well advised to consider taking a supplement, ideally a high-quality seaweed supplement (be sure to check its source to avoid potential radioactive contamination), or other iodine-containing whole food supplement.

As for thyroid hormone replacement, you have two basic options: bioidentical or synthetic hormones.11 Bioidentical thyroid hormones—which are what I recommend using—include Nature-Throid and Westhroid. They’re made from desiccated pig thyroid glands and contain the full spectrum of thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2, and T1. Synthroid (generic brand: Levothyroxine) is synthetic, and contains only T4. Keep in mind that in some cases, if you're borderline hypothyroid, you may actually only need an iodine supplement rather than a thyroid hormone replacement.

With regards to screening, there’s ample evidence suggesting that thyroid cancer screening is unnecessary unless you have reason to suspect cancer. Also remember that screening does not equate to prevention. Addressing your thyroid health is far more important and beneficial than relying on screening to alert you to a potential problem. Especially considering that the chances of over diagnosis are great, and treating an otherwise harmless tumor may result in greater harm than leaving it alone and simply focusing on lifestyle factors such as diet and detoxification to improve your thyroid health.

Are There Illegal Drugs in Your Dairy?

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a survey to determine whether illegal drugs were finding their way into the US milk supply. The study was only green-lighted after a more than year-long “negotiation” into its terms with the dairy industry and state governments.

Why the FDA, which is charged with protecting the public health, would need to negotiate study terms with an industry it is supposed to police is only one murky aspect to this story…

Even more unsettling is the fact that in 2014, more than two years after the study’s completion, the FDA has yet to release its findings. Surely in two years the FDA has had ample time to analyze its findings and prepare a report. What did they find that they are hiding?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) intends to find out… it has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the survey data. Said CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett:1

"Consumers have a right to know what's in their milk, and if there are dangerous drugs in it, they need to know what FDA is doing about that … Why are those dairies that either can’t or won’t follow the rules allowed to continue to market milk?"

Got Milk? You Might Have Drugs with That, Too

CSPI has reason to be suspect of drugs in milk. In 2011, they reviewed drug-testing reports at slaughter plants and found that dairy farms accounted for 67 percent of drug-residue violations. In all, 17 different drugs were found in more than 735 drug-positive tissue samples.

This included drugs that are banned for use in cattle, such as the antibiotic gentamicin.2 When illegal drug residues are found in animals coming from dairy farms, it’s an indication that drugs may be being improperly used elsewhere on the farm, and possibly accumulating in your milk as well.

Also in 2011, Spanish and Moroccan researchers used a highly sensitive test to determine what types of medications could be found in a variety of milk (cow, goat and human breast milk). They hit the chemical jackpot. Medications used to treat diseases in both humans and animals were revealed. Among the drugs and hormones detected were:3

Anti-inflammatories (niflumic acid, mefenamic acid, ketoprofen, diclofenac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, flunixin,  and diclofenac) Antibiotics (florfenicol) Natural hormones (estrone) Sex hormones (17-beta-estradiol) Steroid hormones (17-alpha-ethinylestradiol) Anti-malaria drugs (pyrimethamine) Anti-fungal drugs (triclosan)    

While all types of milk tested contained chemicals, cow's milk contained the highest levels. Some of these drugs and hormones were given to the cows directly, while others were likely ingested from the cattle food or contamination on the farm.

The FDA has authority to require milk be tested if evidence exists that drug residues may be in the milk supply. However, CSPI notes that although the FDA has stopped some dairy farms from selling their cattle for meat after drug residue violations, this prohibition doesn’t typically extend to the milk.4

This is quite ironic, since the FDA, and other government agencies, seems to have no problem going after raw milk farmers, even when there is no evidence of contamination whatsoever…

Raw Milk Farmers Continue to Be Bullied

Raw dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. In California, where raw milk can be sold legally and is tested and state-inspected, it often far exceeds pasteurized milk product standards without any heat or processing.

In other words, raw milk producers oftentimes adhere to stricter safety standards than CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) do. Still, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) commonly warns against drinking raw milk, citing numerous "outbreaks" linked to the product. But drinking raw milk produced by grass-fed cows from clean, well-run farms is actually far LESS dangerous than drinking pasteurized milk.

In fact, not only does raw milk contain beneficial bacteria that are essential for a healthy digestive system, raw milk also offers protection against disease-causing bacteria. CDC data show there are about 412 confirmed cases of people getting ill from pasteurized milk each year, while only about 116 illnesses a year are linked to raw milk.5 

Research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, featured in Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, also showed that you are actually about 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk!6

Meanwhile, the CDC stays silent about the proven health benefits linked to raw milk, like the GABRIELA study, which found school-aged children who drank raw milk were 41 percent less likely to develop asthma and about 50 percent less likely to develop hay fever than children who drank store-bought (pasteurized) milk.7

Fort Worth Regulators Fine Raw Dairy Farmer Two Counties Over…

Despite the facts, aggressive regulators continue to attack small farmers producing wholesome raw food products for loyal customers. One of the latest cases is in Fort Worth, Texas, where Eldon Hooley, who runs a “very clean raw milk operation” 40 miles south, is facing thousands of dollars in fines for operating an “illegal food establishment” and distributing “unfit food.”8

And get this: Hooley is licensed to sell raw dairy products out of his farm. But because some members of a food coop bought food there and then distributed it in Fort Worth, the city regulators are coming after him.

The city is using an updated ordinance that now states even the distribution of raw milk is prohibited… despite the fact that these Fort Worth residents obviously appreciated the ability to get farm-fresh raw food distributed to their neighborhoods without having to drive 40 miles to get it. And Fort Worth is not the only region trying to take these types of draconian control measures.

Illinois Proposes Restrictive Raw Milk Production Regulations

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. But the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued proposed regulations in September 2014 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 same agency that has been sitting on data about drugs in pasteurized milk for more than two years! 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. 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. Wes King, executive director of the agricultural advocacy group Illinois Stewardship Alliance, said:9

"We're really left scratching our heads, wondering why the department would propose rules that are going to hurt farmers, they're going to hurt consumers and they're not addressing any sort of emerging or evident public health threat here in Illinois.”

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.

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.

Despite the FDA’s loyalty to Big Dairy, increasing numbers of Americans demand healthier, more natural food from actual farms, not factories, and they are moving proverbial mountains and prompting real legislative change, not just in the realm of raw milk but in many facets of food quality and freedom. Congressman Massie explained:10

"Today, many people are paying more attention to the foods they eat, what it contains, and how it is processed. Raw milk, which has been with us for thousands of years, is making a comeback among these discerning consumers. Personal choices as basic as 'what we feed our families' should not be limited by the federal government."

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.

Monsanto Vows to Challenge Maui GMO Moratorium in Court

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Despite Monsanto's typical flooding of millions of dollars into Maui, where they outspent citizens 87 to 1, they ended up being narrowly defeated. As noted by Democracy Now,1 Maui County's measure is one of the strongest anti-GMO measures ever to pass.

"The Maui GMO moratorium calls for a complete suspension of the cultivation of GMO crops until studies conclusively prove they are safe.

Maui is often called 'GMO Ground Zero' and the moratorium that passed [November 4] could have national implications because multinational seed producers, such as Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, use the county to research and develop new seed varieties."

The safety studies required to lift the moratorium are to be paid for by the seed companies, but would be conducted by the county of Maui. Not surprisingly, Monsanto has already announced it will file a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the moratorium.2, 3

As part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Monsanto is also suing Vermont to overturn the US nation's first no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill,4, 5, 6 slated to go into effect as of 2016.

Clearly, a large part of their marketing budget involves suing farmers, counties, and states – whatever or whoever gets in the way of its plans for global domination of our food supply will pay the price...

How Did Maui Pull It Off?

You may be wondering just how Maui managed to pull off a GMO ban despite being outspent 87 to 1. According to Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), there are a number of potential reasons for this unlikely win.

For starters, the pro-organic, natural health consciousness is very high among consumers and organic farmers and gardeners in Maui. Reckless spraying and application of Roundup and other pesticides on the island has also alarmed and angered residents, further raising awareness about the health and environmental hazards associated with GMO crops.

Monsanto's bullying tactics may also have backfired. The more local the democracy, the less power Monsanto has to buy politicians and misleading platforms. GMO bans in counties are likely easier to win than state labeling laws.

Jackson County, OR, Josephine County, OR and Humboldt County, CA have all recently passed GMO bans,"7 that prohibits the propagation, cultivation, raising, or growing of genetically modified organisms within county lines.

Keeping Market Shares by Force

Monsanto, Pepsi, Kraft, and a collection of other pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers have poured over $100 million to defeat state and county initiatives to keep American consumers in the dark about genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in our food.

This is despite the fact that more than 60 other nations already require such labeling. It really goes to show that the entire business of chemical seed engineering depends on maintaining its stronghold over the American market.

Every fight these companies engage in against consumers is a loss for their brand regardless of outcome. What sense does it make to fight consumers for anti-transparency purposes?

Eventually, once awareness reaches a certain threshold, altered consumer preferences will start to choke GMOs out of the marketplace. The only questions are, how long will that take? And how much environmental and health harm will accrue in the meantime?

Chemical Technology Industry Aims to Remove Local and State Rights

Ballot initiatives to label GMOs narrowly failed to pass in Colorado and is still too close to call in Oregon after the pesticide and junk food industries poured $21 million into the Oregon race, and another $17 million into Colorado. Monsanto alone has spent more than $10.65 million to keep American voters in the dark this year!

On top of all that, they are working with the federal government to take our rights away at all local levels. The 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."8

The bill, dubbed the "DARK" (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would actually preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws.9 It would also bar states from enacting laws that make it illegal for food companies to misrepresent their products by labeling GE ingredients as "natural." The DARK Act would even limit the FDA's power to force food companies to disclose GE ingredients.

Another preemptive action to take away your rights has already slipped through the legislative process. Assembly Bill 2470,10 which was signed into law earlier this year, amends California's Seed Law to "prohibit a city, county, or district, including a charter city or county, from adopting or enforcing an ordinance on or after January 1, 2015, that regulates plants, crops, or seeds without the consent of the secretary." A number of anti-whistleblower bills are also being heavily pushed by industry lobbyists.11

They want to take away the rights of cities, counties, and states, and their strategy involves overpowering states and counties with costly lawsuits, and intimidating and discrediting individuals who speak out against them—whatever it takes to achieve their claim to rule the food and agriculture system. These industries are responsible for creating a fascist government that dominates the people, and we can't stand for it.

Rather than listening to American consumers and citizens, they are perpetuating the pesticide treadmill and junk food system that is destroying our environment and personal health.

GMA—Public Enemy Number One

I named the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) "the most evil corporation on the planet," as it is an industry association made up of the worst offenders in agriculture and food production.

President and CEO Pamela G. Bailey issued a statement saying that the GMA is pleased the Oregon and Colorado initiatives were defeated. Their VP had a slightly different response that indicates he may predict the backlash heading towards their member brands. Michael Gruber recently called the recent victories "hollow," stating12 that: "To be drawn in to these ballot initiatives is unpleasant and draws criticism... not to mention its tremendous cost."

Well, you reap what you sow… and the more GMOs that are sowed, the bigger the price to be paid. One wonders how much longer this group of evil doers can keep up their nefarious schemes. Mining fertilizers that run-off and contaminate our fresh water bodies, along with increasingly dangerous pesticides soaking into our soils and waters, depleting aquifers, monocultures spreading with no regard to lessons learned, fed to animals confined and loaded with antibiotics… The safety of the entire GMO 'food' production is a boldfaced lie when you look at the primary food crops sickening Americans:

  • High fructose corn syrup—one of the primary sources of calories in the American diet—is made from GMO corn (Bt corn), registered with the EPA for producing its own internal pesticide
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats) known to cause heart and cardiovascular disease is made from GMO soy that is resistant to pesticide. This allows it to soak up much more of it than non-GMO soy
  • Sugar beets are also genetically engineered, ensuring that even foods sweetened with "regular sugar" fall into a more toxic category, courtesy of elevated pesticide contamination

Corn syrup, trans fats, and sugar – what a "safe and healthy" food system these companies have created... The continued argument that GMOs are safe is a horrible joke. These ingredients are now foundational in the US diet, and there is virtually no doubt that they are primary contributors to Americans' failing health. These ingredients promote disease in and of themselves, but making matters worse, they're also genetically engineered and loaded with pesticides, which ratchets up their hazard profile yet another notch.

Add in the fact that much of the corn and soy is fed into confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where antibiotics are mixed in for good measure, and you really have to wonder how long this house of cards will stand... The writing is on the wall and the strategy is clear. They want to take away our rights as high up the chain as possible, and there has never been a more important time to fight for our local rights to preserve health and diversity. A top down attack is on the way, and we must be resilient to prevent this from happening. Local battles will turn the tide, but to ensure there's even the chance of doing so we must preserve local rights! Local food and local democracy is the key to preserving diversity, improving health, and saving the environment.

In the meantime, stop buying products from those who are not just opposing your right to know – but are trying to take away your rights entirely through federal and state preemption laws. Support your local farmers, buy as close to the farm as possible, and cut out the processors. Look for dairy, meats, vegetables, fruits, and anything you can purchase locally. This is a small effort that will have a massive impact!


This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices.

GE Crops, Glyphosate, and the Deteriorating Health in the US

One of the most recent studies13 investigating the effect genetically engineered (GE) crops and glyphosate has on Americans' health noted that: "Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer..."

The researchers searched US government databases for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses revealed "highly significant" correlations between glyphosate applications and the following health problems among the US population. According to the authors: "The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated."

Hypertension Stroke Diabetes Obesity Lipoprotein metabolism disorder Alzheimer's Senile dementia Parkinson's disease Multiple sclerosis Autism Inflammatory bowel disease Intestinal infections End stage renal disease Acute kidney failure Thyroid cancer Liver cancer Bladder cancer Pancreatic cancer Kidney cancer Myeloid leukemia  

Recent research14 also shows that there are significant compositional differences between GE soybeans and non-GE varieties. Glyphosate readily accumulates in the former, which means more of this toxin is making it into the body of those who consume GE foods. They also differ in terms of nutritional quality, with organic soybeans having the healthiest nutritional profile. According to the authors, "This study rejects that genetically modified soy is "substantially equivalent" to non-GM soybeans."

US food policy is also part and parcel of the problem. Not only are American taxpayers subsidizing Monsanto and junk food products via farm bill subsidies, tax payer money is also used to take away our right to local democracy through preemption, and the money is being used for lobbying for even more tax dollars through the farm bill... As noted by Bittman and Pollan in a recent Washington Post15 editorial:

"The contradictions of our government's policies around food become clear as soon as you compare the federal recommendations for the American diet, known as MyPlate with the administration's agricultural policies. While MyPlate recommends a diet of 50 percent vegetables and fruits, the administration devotes less than one percent of farm subsidies to support the research, production and marketing of those foods. More than 60 percent of that funding subsidizes the production of corn and other grains — food that is mostly fed to animals, converted to fuel for cars or processed into precisely the sort of junk the first lady is urging us to avoid."

Organic Food Resources

Here are some great resources to obtain wholesome organic food. Eating locally produced organic food will not only support your family's health, it will also protect the environment from harmful chemical pollutants and the inadvertent spread of genetically engineered seeds and chemical-resistant weeds and pests.

  1. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  2. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  6. 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.

Mushroom Extract Might Eradicate HPV Infection

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Mushrooms contain incredibly effective all-natural immune boosters. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.

In one study, for example, eating one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms daily for 28 days was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.1

Now new research has also revealed that a shiitake mushroom extract may help to eliminate infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a finding that makes perfect sense, since a strong immune system is typically all that is needed to clear up an HPV infection.

Shiitake Mushroom Extract May Eliminate HPV Infection

The new study, which was presented at the 11th International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology, involved a shiitake mushroom extract known as active hexose correlated compound, or AHCC. It’s often sold as a nutritional supplement for boosting immune function.

Ten women with HPV were given the mushroom extract. Three of the women took the extract daily for three months and eliminated the virus completely. They remained clear of HPV even one month later. Two other women taking the extract had declining levels of HPV, so they are continuing to take the substance for up to six months.2

The five remaining women, meanwhile, were assigned to take the extract for less than three months, which proved not long enough to clear the infection. The researchers are hopeful that all of the women will respond after six months of treatment. The study’s lead investigator, Judith Smith, PharmD, told Medscape Medical News:

"Now we know that we need to give it at least 6 months to realize the full effect… This study confirms our preclinical findings, that it can eradicate HPV… We would also like to investigate at some point if AHCC can actually prevent infection, or prevent re-infection… We'd like to see if it can help build up the immune system to the point of resisting infection with HPV.”

Interestingly, Dr. Smith has had inquiries from people asking if the mushroom extract might work to clear up genital warts caused by HPV as well. Since the extract has no side effects, she suggested they could go ahead and try it.

At least several people have confirmed so far that their lesions cleared up and have not returned.3 In addition to immune-boosting effects, shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate antiviral (including HIV, hepatitis, and the "common cold") activity, which explains why they may be a near-perfect natural treatment for HPV.

Mushrooms May Also Fight Cancer

The beauty of natural substances like mushrooms is that they typically offer multiple benefits. Shiitake mushroom extract, for instance, is known to have anti-tumor benefits as well. As Dr. Smith noted:4

“I had originally looked into AHCC for its anti-tumor benefits… Then as I learned more about its activity against various virus strains, I connected the dots to my cervical cancer research and HPV and thought of the big picture…

…a nutritional supplement to treat HPV infections would be an incredible, safe option and could easily be used to treat infections before they turn into cancer.”

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) contain lentinan, the polysaccharide for which it was named. Lentinan has been isolated and used to treat stomach and other cancers due to its antitumor properties.

One of the more remarkable scientific studies demonstrating shiitake's antitumor effect was a Japanese animal study,5 where mice suffering from sarcoma were given shiitake extract. Six of 10 mice had complete tumor regression and with slightly higher concentrations, all 10 mice showed complete tumor regression. In addition:

  • The compound lentinan in shitake mushrooms has been found to increase the survival rate of cancer patients6
  • Extracts from maitake mushrooms, when combined with vitamin C, were shown to reduce the growth of bladder cancer cells by 90 percent, as well as kill them7
  • In Japan the top two forms of alternative medicine used by cancer patients are a mushroom called Agaricus subrufescens and shiitake mushroom extract8
  • Ganoderic acid in Reishi mushrooms may be useful in treating lung cancer9
4 Fascinating Facts About Mushrooms

Mushrooms are not only capable of bolstering immune function and potentially fighting cancer. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants.

They contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world, as well as antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a “master antioxidant.” Here are four more facts about mushrooms that might surprise you:10

1. They Have Natural Umami Flavor

Umami is the natural flavor of glutamic acid, which, in your body is often found as glutamate; eating umami-rich foods may increase post-meal satiety, helping you eat less throughout the day and ultimately lose weight.

Shiitake mushrooms are particularly rich in umami flavor (this is why they’re often used in place of meat in sandwiches), so try adding them to soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, and practically anything else.

2. They May Help You Lose Weight

Mushrooms are hearty and satisfying, yet low in calories in high in nutrition. Mushrooms can easily “bulk up” your meals without causing weight gain. One study found, in fact, that substituting red meat with white button mushrooms can help enhance weight loss.11

3. They’re a Good Source of B Vitamins

Mushrooms provide valuable nutrients than many are deficient in, including B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. One dietary analysis found that mushroom consumption was associated with better diet quality and improved nutrition.12

4. Healthy Cholesterol Balance

The beta-glucans in mushrooms plays a role in fat metabolism and may help support healthy cholesterol levels. Shiitake also contains eritadenine, which has strong cholesterol-lowering properties.13

Boosting Your Immune System Is One of the Best Ways to Eliminate HPV

Getting back to HPV, it’s likely that the shiitake extract helped to boost the participants’ immune systems enough to help clear the HPV. It should be noted that in more than 90 percent of cases, your immune system can clear up an HPV infection within two years on its own.

But in the case of the featured study, the researchers specifically looked for persistent infections that did not appear likely to clear on their own. Even in those cases, most of the time HPV persistence was neutralized by the immune-boosting and anti-viral effects of the mushroom extract.

You can certainly try mushroom extract, or simply eating more organically grown mushrooms, to boost your own immune system, but it’s also important to engage in immune-boosting habits, like eating the foods described in my nutrition plan, exercising and optimizing your vitamin D levels.

One of the simplest steps you can take is to eliminate your consumption of sugar and most non-vegetable carbohydrates. The over-abundance of many processed foods in the typical Western diet simultaneously enhance inflammation while muting your immune system’s ability to respond to and ultimately control infections.

Eliminating processed foods from your diet might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Start slowly with this “bite-sized” step: swap out one of your processed-food meals (or even a snack) with homemade fermented foods. You can try a kefir smoothie (blend kefir with frozen berries and, if you like, a couple of organic raw eggs) or a serving of fermented veggies or kimchi. You can find step-by-step instructions to make your own fermented vegetables at home here. Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented veggies, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health, including that of your immune system.

Do You Know the Risks of the HPV Vaccine?

By Sept. 14, 2014, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil had generated more than 33,000 adverse reaction reports to the US government, including 158 deaths.14 This is probably a gross underestimate, because, although a federal law was passed in 1986 (the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) mandated 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. It is estimated that less than 10 percent, perhaps less than 1 percent, of all serious vaccine adverse events that occur in the US are ever reported to VAERS.

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. 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. In one recent case study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine,15 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. In the case study, POTS fulfilled the criteria for a condition known as autoimmune/auto-inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA), highlighting the underlying mechanisms of how vaccines, and particularly their adjuvants (such as aluminum), may be triggering disease.

A second study, published in the European Journal of Neurology,16 described six patients who developed POTS from six days to two months following HPV vaccination. Please be aware that there is very little evidence that the very real risks of HPV vaccination are outweighed by the purported benefits. 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.17

Routine Pap Smears Help to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Gardasil is now recommended by public health officials as a routine vaccination for young girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 and also for boys between the ages of 11 and 21, who are advised to get it for partial protection against genital warts and cancers of the penis and rectum to reduce transmission of HPV, thereby preventing cervical cancer deaths (which is highly questionable) and cancers reported to be associated with chronic HPV infection. However, this is all highly questionable when you consider the fact that HPV infections in most people do not persist and 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 infections that people experience because most HPV infections do NOT become chronic and associated with cancer! Likewise, cervical cancer accounts for less than ONE percent of all cancer deaths in the US, while anal cancer claims the lives of approximately 300 Americans each year. So, HPV 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 by choosing abstinence or use of condoms.

Furthermore, even for those who do get HPV vaccinations, 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 chronic 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 blind faith in and reliance on HPV vaccinations.

Cervical cancer cases have dropped more than 70 percent in the US since pap screening became a routine part of women's health care in the 1960s, as it can detect pre-cancerous cervical lesions early so they can be effectively removed and treated. Risk factors that increase your chances of developing chronic HPV infection include:

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

Most of these are modifiable risk factors. Also, as mentioned previously, you can help boost your immune system health to help reduce your risk of contracting infections and developing complications by following my sensible 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 HPV vaccine or one or more other vaccines. The point is that everyone should have the right to evaluate the potential benefits and real risks of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, and opt out of getting any vaccine or drug they decide is unnecessary or not in the best interest of their health or their child's health.

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

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

Contact Your Elected Officials

Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you! It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

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

Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it. We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We should be treating people like human beings instead of guinea pigs.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

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

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

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

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

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Neurological Diseases; Also Raises Risk of Asthma Attacks, and More...

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If there’s ever was a Top Nutrient competition, vitamin D just might nab the title. It affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs) that bind to specific locations on the human genome.

So far, scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D status, and a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is critical for optimal health and disease prevention.

This includes some of the more difficult-to-treat conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease,1 Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis2 (MS).

Vitamin D Deficiency Is Prevalent in MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, neurodegenerative disease of the nerves in your brain and spinal column, caused through a demyelization process. It has long been considered a “hopeless” disease with few treatment options.

The typical prescription for MS focuses on highly toxic medications like prednisone and interferon. However, research over the past few years suggests MS may be improved using a number of natural methods—including vitamin D.

Most recently, a study3, 4 presented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine5 (AANEM) shows that vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly prevalent both among those diagnosed with MS, and patients suffering other neuromuscular conditions.

Here, vitamin D deficiency was defined as a 25(OH)D3 level of 30ng/ml or less. Of patients diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition, 48 percent were deficient in vitamin D. Only 14 percent were above “normal,” which here constituted a vitamin D level of 40 ng/ml. According to one of the authors:

“While the connection between vitamin D deficiency and neurologic disease is likely complex and not yet fully understood, this study may prompt physicians to consider checking vitamin D levels in their patients with neurologic conditions and supplementing when necessary.”

Besides this one, about a dozen other studies6 have also noted a strong link between MS and vitamin D deficiency. For example, a number of studies have confirmed that your risk of MS increases the farther away you live from the equator, suggesting lack of sun exposure amplifies your risk.

I believe optimizing your vitamin D level is of great importance if you have MS, but it’s not the only factor. For additional treatment suggestions, please see my previous article discussing natural MS treatment guidelines.

Vitamin D Deficiency Raises Risk of Brain Dysfunction and Death Following Cardiac Arrest

Besides helping prevent chronic brain disorders such as dementia, vitamin D sufficiency may also help protect brain function should you have the misfortune of suffering cardiac arrest. As noted in a recent press release:7, 8

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor brain function after sudden cardiac arrest by seven-fold, according to research presented at Acute Cardiovascular Care 2014 by Dr Jin Wi from Korea. Vitamin D deficiency also led to a higher chance of dying after sudden cardiac arrest.

Dr Wi said: ‘In patients resuscitated after sudden cardiac arrest, recovery of neurological function is very important, as well as survival. Vitamin D deficiency has been reported to be related to the risk of having various cardiovascular diseases, including sudden cardiac arrest.

We investigated the association of vitamin D deficiency with neurologic outcome after sudden cardiac arrest, a topic on which there is no information so far...

Patients with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have a poor neurological outcome or die after sudden cardiac arrest than those who were not deficient.

Nearly one-third of the patients who were deficient in vitamin D had died 6 months after their cardiac arrest, whereas all patients with sufficient vitamin D levels were still alive.’"

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Asthma

In related news,9 asthma attacks have also been linked to insufficient vitamin D status. Low vitamin D levels were significantly associated with greater frequency and severity of attacks in asthmatics. According to lead author Dr. Ronit Confino-Cohen, a senior lecturer at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Israel:

“I think that if a patient has had good treatment for asthma and is still not controlled, maybe he should be checked for his vitamin D levels before adding on more medications. Maybe supplementation would do the job.”

This isn’t the first time vitamin D deficiency has been linked to asthma attacks. Research published in 2010 also found that asthmatic children with low blood vitamin D levels may have a greater risk of suffering severe asthma attacks. According to this study, vitamin D insufficiency itself was linked to a 50 percent increase in the risk of severe asthma attacks.

At the end of 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommended dose of vitamin D for infants, children and adolescents, raising it from 200 to 400 units per day.10, 11 But research12 published earlier that same year revealed children may need 10 times that amount in order to receive the health benefits that optimal vitamin D levels have to offer! Many mothers also are vitamin D deficient, which is another contributor to asthma. A 2007 study13 showed that poor diet and lack of vitamin D during pregnancy were the determining factors in whether their children suffered from asthma by the age of five.

Have You Checked Your Vitamin D Level Lately?

While the optimal level for general health lies between 50-70 ng/ml, when treating chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune and/or neurological diseases, your level should ideally be somewhere between 70-100 ng/ml, which is about double what is typically considered “normal.”


References for target ranges

It’s important to realize that vitamin D deficiency14 is common round the world, even in areas where you’d suspect most people would get plenty of sun exposure. One recent study15 done in India found that 69 percent of 37,000 people tested across the country were vitamin D deficient (at or below 20 ng/ml), and another 15 percent had insufficient levels (20-30 ng/ml). Men between the ages of 31-60, and women aged 16-30 were at highest risk of vitamin D deficiency.

The ideal method to optimize your vitamin D levels is through sensible sun exposure, or using a tanning bed. If neither is available, you can use an oral supplement of vitamin D3. 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.

If Taking a Vitamin D Supplement, Remember K2 and Magnesium Too

If you opt for a supplement, be sure to take vitamin D3—not synthetic D2—and take vitamin K2 and magnesium in conjunction with it. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so taking some form of healthy fat with it will also help optimize absorption. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, and without sufficient amounts, calcium may build up in areas such as your arteries and soft tissues. This can cause calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries—a side effect previously thought to be caused by vitamin D toxicity. We now know that inappropriate calcification is actually due more to lack of K2 than simply too much vitamin D.

Magnesium is also important, both for the proper function of calcium, and for the activity of vitamin D as it converts vitamin D into its active form. Magnesium also activates enzyme activity that helps your body use the vitamin D. In fact, all enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium to work. As with vitamin D and K2, magnesium deficiency16 is also common, and if you’re lacking in magnesium and take supplemental calcium, you may exacerbate the situation.

Vitamin A, zinc, and boron are other important cofactors that interact with vitamin D, and indeed, zinc deficiency has also been identified as a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease. When taking supplements, it can be easy to create lopsided ratios, so getting these nutrients from an organic whole food diet and sensible sun exposure is generally your best bet. Dietary sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, such as kelp, dulse, and nori. Vegetables can also be a good source. As for supplements, magnesium citrate and magnesium threonate are among the best.

A Vitamin D Expert’s Take on the Latest Warning to Stay Out of the Sun to Avoid Skin Cancer

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The US Surgeon General recently came out with a warning on skin cancer,1 claiming that the sun is dangerous and that you need to stay away out of it.

Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, has dedicated a large part of his professional career to the study of vitamin D and its health benefits, and he has a warning of his own to those who take this narrow-minded advice to heart.

It’s worth noting that the acting Surgeon General, Boris Lushniak, is a dermatologist. And of all the medical specialties out there, dermatologists are clearly the most biased against sun exposure, and as a result, against vitamin D.

This isn’t surprising, since they primarily see the ill effects of sun overexposure. But in taking an overly narrow view, the advice to avoid sun exposure as much as possible can have equally if not greater adverse health effects.

The Connection Between Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer

Unquestionably, UV radiation can be dangerous; it can increase your risk for certain skin cancers such as squamous cell, basal cell, and melanoma. But there are significant differences even between these cancers, and appropriate sun exposure may actually be more beneficial than detrimental in some cases. Dr. Cannell explains:

“Squamous cell carcinoma is clearly associated with chronic sun exposure. It is more common on the face, the hands, and the scalp.

It is related to radiation burden over your lifetime, and together with basal cell carcinoma, which is sort of intermediate, it accounts for approximately 1,500 deaths a year in the United States...

Basal cell is sort of intermediate. There are studies showing that it is associated with chronic sun exposure, and there are studies showing that it’s not associated with chronic sun exposure.

And then there’s melanoma, which is responsible for almost 9,000 deaths a year and is the deadly skin cancer that is feared. The relationship that melanoma has with the sun is quite complicated.

It is clearly associated with sunburn, especially sunburns when you’re young (that’s incontrovertible) or sunburns in a sun tanning bed.”

However, there are at least two studies showing that melanoma is more common in indoor workers than outdoor workers. And the most likely places for melanoma to appear are actually NOT the face and the hands like squamous cell carcinoma, but rather the lower back and the upper leg—areas that are usually not chronically sun-exposed.

According to Dr. Cannell, there’s a vocal minority in the dermatological community that thinks the emphasis dermatologists have on avoiding sun exposure is wrong, because while sunburn is a risk factor, chronic sun exposure is not.

“A number of studies show that chronic sun exposure is related to melanoma, but they don’t separate out the sunburns, which is very hard to do because you have to do that by memory,” Dr. Cannell says.

Two Decades-Long Study Finds Sun Avoidance Doubles Risk of Death

Dr. Cannell notes a recent study2 done in Sweden, which followed nearly 30,000 middle-aged to older women for up to 20 years. The average follow-up was 15 years.

At the outset, they asked a number of questions about sun exposure, such as: Do you sunbathe? Do you take vacations in sunny areas in the winter? Do you garden with short sleeves and shorts? And, do you use sunbeds?

What they found, and this appears to be the only study of this kind, is that the women who avoided the sun were twice as likely to die over the course of the study. The researchers attributed this finding to a vitamin D mechanism.

What this study actually shows is that chronic sun exposure appears to be associated with less mortality. It’s also the first study to show that women who use tanning beds live longer than those who don’t.

This is in direct conflict to what almost every dermatologist will say, including the Surgeon General. It’s unfortunate, but the danger of almost any specialist is that they don’t take the broader perspective.

What the Surgeon General and almost every other dermatologist fail to take into account is the overall mortality, which is referenced in this recent study.

Risk-Benefit Analysis

In addition to this study, dozens of others document the benefits of appropriate sun exposure. This includes a reduced risk of about 16 different cancers of Dr. Garland’s studies suggest this reduction is close to 50 percent.

So many hundreds of thousands of people are put at risk from other cancers as opposed to 10,000 people who are dying from skin cancer caused by sunburn. It’s really a matter of making an educated risk-benefit analysis.

“When you do a risk-benefit analysis and you look at all the data we have, the risk in my opinion appears to be in those who avoid the sun,” Dr. Cannell says.

“Now, if you avoid the sun, your risk for non-melanoma skin cancer goes down. That’s clear. But if you look at studies of either latitude or of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in relation to cancer, you find this inverse relationship: the higher the vitamin D level, the lower the internal cancer rate.”

Dr. William Grant of Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC) estimates that if everyone in the United States had a vitamin D level of 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), it would save approximately 150,000 lives a year.3

That’s 100 times the rate of squamous cell cancers, which are the only ones that are definitively linked to UV exposure. In Canada alone, it is estimated that 37,000 lives a year are lost due to vitamin D deficiency.4 Also, use of sunscreen has risen in the last 30 years, so if dermatologists were correct, there should be a decrease in stage 1 melanoma. But there’s not. As sunscreen use increased, stage 1 melanoma diagnosis increased...

“It’s thought that by blocking out UVB, patients are able to stay out in the sun longer than they would have otherwise and expose themselves to the more dangerous, or at least potentially dangerous, UVA radiation that’s in the sunshine,” Dr. Cannell says. “What we recommend is what’s called safe, sensible sun exposures. The Australian Cancer Council now recommends the same thing. I think in England there’s now a change in their recommendation from strict sun avoidance to some safe, sensible sun exposure. There are some movements in large organizations to realize that safe, sensible sun exposure is a healthy thing.”

How Much Sun Exposure Is Sensible?

On its website, Cancer Research UK reports that “by enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn, people can reduce their risk of skin cancer and enjoy the beneficial effects of the sun.” Cancer Research UK’s sun advice is endorsed by the British Association of Dermatologists, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Heart Forum, the National Osteoporosis Society, and the Primary Care Dermatology Society. The UK National Health Service5 also recommends sensible, individualized sun exposure to help optimize vitamin D.

It’s important to recognize is how quickly sunlight can make vitamin D in the skin. You don’t need to be outside for hours on end. But you do need more than just a few minutes of sun on your face and arms. According to Dr. Cannell, sunbathing at solar noon in the summer, at most latitudes in the United States you will make between 5,000-10,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D within 30 minutes.

“You can ask yourself why nature would evolve a mechanism that made so much vitamin D so quickly,” Dr. Cannell says. “When I thought about that question, the only answer I could come up with is nature did it for a good reason. The organism needs vitamin D, so the system in the skin evolved to make it very quickly upon exposure to sunlight.

We recommend full-body sun exposure for up to anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes every day. On those days when you cannot get a full-body sun exposure, we recommend a vitamin D supplement or sensible exposure in a low-pressure UVB bed.”

If you’re getting regular sun exposure, I think the need for an oral supplement is really minimal to non-existent. When you swallow a pill, there’s no self-regulating ability. Your body doesn’t have an ability to selectively limit its absorption. But your skin has the ability to control how much vitamin D is being produced based on how much is in your blood.

I personally have not taken oral vitamin D for five years and my level runs from 50-70 g/ml. Lifeguards, roofers, and gardeners who work with their shirt off, all tend to have levels between 40 and 80 ng/ml in the summer. This also brings up an interesting question about the difference between normal and natural. Normal vitamin D levels are an average of what indoor workers have in both winter and summer. Natural are levels of a population with widespread sun exposure. The latter is going to be closer to ideal, or optimal.


References for establishment of optimal levels

There are also other reasons to strive for sun exposure rather than swallowing a pill. As noted by Dr. Cannell, aside from producing vitamin D, sunlight also affects nitric acid levels and endorphins in the skin. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin recently discovered that there may be a system at 311 nanometers that is separate from the vitamin D system (which is at 298 nanometers), and that there may be an entirely new undiscovered biochemical system in the skin that makes yet another substance, besides vitamin D. Time will tell what comes out of that research, but there are indications that sunlight may be responsible for other biological processes that are unrelated to vitamin D production.

Dr. Cannell’s Recommendation on Tanning Beds

There are basically two types of tanning beds:

  1. High-pressure UVA beds. They tan you the quickest because it’s UVA that tans the skin. They contain only a limited UVB spectrum, and will therefore give you color but not much vitamin D
  2. Low-pressure beds, which contain less UVB than sunlight at most latitudes, but still contain a significant amount of UVB. These are the beds Dr. Cannell recommends, provided you’re using a sensible approach that avoids sunburns. It’s important to realize that you can easily get burned after only a couple or a few minutes when using a tanning bed

Another important factor when selecting a tanning bed is the type of ballast it employs, to avoid excessive electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. Most tanning units use magnetic ballasts to generate light. These magnetic ballasts are well known sources of EMF fields that can contribute to cancer. If you hear a loud buzzing noise while in a tanning bed, it has a magnetic ballast system. I strongly recommend you avoid magnetic ballast beds, and restrict your use of tanning beds to those that use electronic ballasts.

On days you cannot get either regular sun exposure or use of a tanning bed, Dr. Cannell suggests taking 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3. Other vitamin D experts recommend similar amounts. It’s worth noting that, according to the federal government’s Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), the no observed adverse effects level (NOAEL) of vitamin D is 10,000 IUs a day. This means there has never been a replicated reliable study showing that 10,000 units a day is in any way detrimental.

Many individuals who have reported side effects from taking high doses of oral vitamin D have noticed that when they supplemented with magnesium, they were able to tolerate the high oral doses of vitamin D. Dr. Carolyn Dean has written in her book, The Magnesium Miracle, that she has seen this so many times that she doesn’t advise taking more than 2,000 units of vitamin D without magnesium supplementation. Be sure to also have an adequate amount of vitamin K2 along with D to slow the progression of arterial calcification. Remember though that the best form of vitamin D is the one your body produces when it is exposed to sunlight that has sufficient amounts of UVB.

Five Tips to Get an Appropriate, Sensible Amount of Sun

Again, sunshine offers substantial health benefits, including vitamin D production, but you do need to exercise a few simple precautions to protect yourself from overexposure. Virtually all of the harm from sun exposure is related to sunburn. Here are my top five tanning tips:

  • Expose large amounts of your skin (at least 40 percent of your body) to sunlight for short periods daily. Optimizing your vitamin D levels may reduce your risk of as many as 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. If using a sunscreen, give your body a chance to produce vitamin D before you apply it.
  • Stay out just long enough for your skin to turn the very lightest shade of pink, if you’re naturally light-skinned, or just a hint reddish if you’re dark-skinned. Shield your face from the sun using a safe sunscreen or hat, as your facial skin is thin and more prone to sun damage, such as premature wrinkling.
  • When you'll be in the sun for longer periods, cover up with clothing, a hat, or shade (either natural or shade you create using an umbrella). 
  • Consider the use of an "internal sunscreen" like astaxanthin to gain additional sun protection. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant (and pigment) produced by marine algae in response to their exposure to UV light. Typically, it takes several weeks of daily supplementation to saturate your body’s tissues enough to provide protection.
  • Consuming a healthy diet full of natural antioxidants is another useful strategy to help avoid sun damage. Fresh, raw, unprocessed vegetables and fruits deliver the nutrients that your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 oils in your skin, which is your first line of defense against sunburn. Vegetables also provide your body with an abundance of powerful antioxidants that will help you fight the free radicals caused by sun damage that can lead to burns and cancer.

What's New and Beneficial About Brussels Sprouts?

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Brussels sprouts have been voted as the most-hated vegetable in both the US and Britain,1 perhaps because they can be notoriously smelly. But the offensive odor only occurs when these nutritional powerhouses are overcooked – something you definitely want to avoid to preserve both their flavor and nutrients.

Further, that odor comes from a type of glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing compound that is responsible for some pretty impressive health benefits, including fighting cancer. So the next time you’re thinking of turning your nose up at these much-maligned veggies, you might want to give them a chance instead.

Low in Calories and Packed with Nutrition

Brussels sprouts are an ideal food if you’re looking for something that’s hearty yet low in calories. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains just 56 calories but is packed with more than 240 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for vitamin K1, and nearly 130 percent of the RDA for vitamin C.

Plus, Brussels sprouts are a good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins. They even contain protein. But not only do Brussels sprouts contain well-known antioxidants like vitamin C…

They also contain others that are much less known – but equally as important, like kaempferol, isorhamnetin, caffeic, and ferulic acids, and the relatively rare sulfur-containing compound called D3T (3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione).

This means that when you eat Brussels sprouts, you’re helping your body to ward off chronic oxidative stress, which is a risk factor for many types of cancer and other chronic diseases.  

You can steam Brussels sprouts and toss them with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, or butter. You can roast them and quarter them, then toss them like a salad with onions, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar. You can even keep a bowl in the fridge, seasoned with salt and pepper, to snack on throughout the day – their small bite-sized package makes them perfect for popping in your mouth.

Remember, if your Brussels sprouts become overly “smelly,” mushy, or turn a muted green, they’re probably overcooked. Ideally, they should be bright green with a slightly crisp texture and pleasant, nutty/sweet flavor, even after they’re cooked.

Trying to Detoxify? Eat More Brussels Sprouts

Juice cleanses and store-bought detoxes are popular now, but detoxification is really a process your body needs to be doing on a daily basis. And it can only do this if you provide it with the proper foods, Brussels sprouts (or other cruciferous veggies) being one of them.

Here again, those potentially offensive sulfur-containing compounds prove to be invaluable, as they help to activate enzyme systems in your cells that are required for detoxification of cancer-causing substances.

These sulfur compounds also support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, which broken down toxins are shuttled out of your system. Even better, they’re also a rich source of antioxidants, which are necessary for Phase 1 detoxification, which is when toxins are broken down into smaller particles (that are later eliminated during phase 2).

Foods that support both Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification are key to supporting your body’s daily removal of harmful substances from your body. For example, if you eat foods that support Phase 1, but not Phase 2, the broken-down toxins may begin to accumulate in your body.

Eating foods like Brussels sprouts helps to ensure that not only are toxins being broken down, they’re also being safely removed from your body.

Brussels Sprouts May Work Better Than Broccoli to Help Lower Your Risk of Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the US, and eating Brussels sprouts is a simple way to lower your risk of this disease. Your body uses the glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts to make isothiocyanates, which activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body. As reported in the journal Carcinogenesis:2

Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing glycosides found in the Brassica vegetables. Their breakdown products include isothiocyanates, which are produced following exposure to the endogenous plant enzyme myrosinase. Isothiocyanates are pungent, biologically active compounds that suppress carcinogenesis in vivo, and induce apoptosis in vitro.”

Indole-3-carbinol, for example, is one glucosinolate breakdown product that halts the cell cycle in breast cancer cells without actually killing the cells.3 The cell cycle is a rigidly controlled series of steps a cell must go through before it can divide in two, involving the duplication of the cell's contents and a final split.

If you can alter specific components of the cell cycle, you can stop the growth of cancer cells without killing normal cells. Indole-3-carbinol interferes with the cell cycle in a way that turns off a gene for an enzyme important in the cell's growth cycle.

Brussels sprouts have been linked to the prevention of a number of cancers, including colon cancer,4 ovarian cancer,5 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.6

In fact, in one study men who ate about 1.5 cups of Brussels sprouts daily for five weeks had a 28 percent decrease in DNA damage, which the researchers concluded showed “that consumption of cruciferous vegetables [Brussels sprouts] may result in a decreased cancer risk.”7

While all of the cruciferous veggies are known for their cancer-fighting powers, Brussels sprouts have been shown to contain even greater amounts of glucosinolates than cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.8

Eat Brussels Sprouts for Your Heart Health, Too

The glucosinolate indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a potent anti-inflammatory and it operates on a genetic level, helping to prevent inflammatory responses at the very early, initial stages.9 This is important, because chronic inflammation is the source of many diseases, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease.

You actually need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy, however it's also possible, and increasingly common, for the inflammatory response to get out of hand.

If your immune system mistakenly triggers an inflammatory response when no threat is present, it can lead to excess inflammation in your body, a condition linked to asthma, allergies, autoimmune disease, and much more, depending on which organs the inflammation is impacting. Unfortunately, chronic inflammation typically will not produce symptoms until actual loss of function occurs somewhere.

This is because chronic inflammation is low-grade and systemic, often silently damaging your tissues over an extended period of time. This process can go on for years without you noticing, until a disease suddenly sets in. Diet accounts for about 80 percent of the health benefits you reap from leading a healthy lifestyle, and keeping inflammation in check is a major part of these benefits.

It’s due to Brussels sprouts’ anti-inflammatory properties, for example, that they may also offer important benefits for heart problems, including heart attack and atherosclerosis. As the George Mateljan Foundation noted:10

“Of particular interest here has been the isothiocyanate (ITC) sulforaphane, which is made from glucoraphanin (a glucosinolate) found in Brussels sprouts. Not only does this ITC trigger anti-inflammatory activity in our cardiovascular system — it may also be able to help prevent and even possibly help reverse blood vessel damage.”

Look for Locally Grown Brussels Sprouts Still on the Stalk

In the US, most Brussels sprouts are grown in California… but because they can be grown in cold weather (and actually taste best after the first frost), they’re widely available at farmer’s markets across the US, even during the colder months.

For the best Brussels sprouts you’ve ever tasted, try your hand at growing them yourself. Otherwise, look for those sold still attached to the stalk. They stay much fresher this way and, because they don’t have to be plucked from the stalk, there’s less labor involved so they often cost less as well.11

Vaccines—Are They Still Contributing to the Greater Good?

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The multiple-award winning documentary, The Greater Good, was initially released three years ago.

Weaving together stories of families whose lives have been forever altered by vaccine damage, the film reveals how modern medicine, especially when driven by politics, ideology, and big business, can rob you of some of your most basic human rights, including voluntary, informed consent to medical risk-taking.

The results of such politically- and financially-driven public health policies can be devastating. The provocative, ground breaking film, The Greater Good, includes prominent voices messaging about vaccination and health today.

This includes those pushing for mandatory vaccination policies and those opposing forced vaccination policies. It focuses on how we can create positive change and reduce fear so that parents and doctors can work together to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths.

There needs to be an open, rational discussion about vaccination, infectious diseases, and health. After all, don't all of us want our children to be healthy and safe from unnecessary harm?

If we want to protect the health of ALL children, we cannot continue to ignore the signs that public health policies making mandatory use of multiple vaccines in early childhood as our nation’s Number One disease prevention strategy has gone too far—to the point that we may well be sacrificing too many children’s lives in the name of “the greater good”...

From my point of view, there can be little doubt that we need to review the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccination program in the US, and this review needs to include methodologically sound investigative studies that are not compromised by conflicts of interest within industry and government. If we don't do that now, we may not be able to stop further damage to the health of future generations.

Autism and the Thinking Moms Revolution

During the past year, a producer of The Greater Good1 has released short videos with out-takes of interviews that were conducted for the film, as well as other information covering a number of vaccine topics.

The first short video is about the reported relationship between vaccination and autism, featuring mothers of vaccine injured children with autism from a group called The Thinking Moms Revolution.

Autism has skyrocketed over the past few decades and scientists and public health officials continue to argue about the reasons for why it is happening but something is clearly very wrong... Three decades ago, autism affected one in 10,000 children.2, 3 Today, it’s estimated to afflict as many as one in 50.4

While conventional medicine still claims there’s no known cause for autism increases, Thinking Moms are speaking out about how they brought a healthy child in for vaccination, and watched their child deteriorate following that vaccination. As stated by one Mom:

“In this country, we’re indoctrinated to believe in vaccines, and believe there’s this incredibly impeccable science behind them. [But] once you start the investigation and you realize how flimsy the evidence is, for safety in particular... that’s when you realize how little of this is based on fact.”

On its website,5 The Greater Good team notes:

“In the early 2000′s, CDC instructed vaccine makers to remove the mercury preservative in childhood shots. But as the mercury was being phased out of most childhood vaccinations, CDC recommended that pregnant women and infants at 6 months and again 7 months receive the flu shot – which they knew still contained mercury.

In addition to the flu shot, CDC began recommending that pregnant women also receive the Tdap vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, and attenuated pertussis).

So pregnant women and their unborn babies are still being subjected to mercury-laden flu vaccines and aluminum-laden DTaP vaccines – and at an earlier point.

These vaccines during pregnancy contradict decades of advice to take no medications, quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol and avoid mercury laden seafood while pregnant, but people have been so conditioned to trust authority that they accept this, making it all too easy to tell parents, ‘sorry, your kid was born that way’.

...government health officials maintain the charade that they are trying to find a cause for autism when they have blown $1.6 billion over the past decade looking for a supposed genetic cause despite ample science showing that environmental factors are the culprit.”

The Good News...

The good news is that there is much more information available today about alternative biomedical therapies.  

These are being used by open-minded doctors addressing the neuroimmune dysfunction that children with vaccine-associated autism are suffering. Some children diagnosed with “autism” are improving through use of special diets, supplementation regimens, and detoxification protocols tailored to their individual needs.

As noted in the video, there’s a vast “underground” movement of parents who are sharing their experiences and successes and there are enlightened doctors who have been able to help children with autism when conventional medicine falls short.

The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) protocol is, in my view, among the most important treatment strategies out there, but there are also many others. The GAPS nutritional protocol was created by Dr. Campbell-McBride, whose son was diagnosed with autism.

She understands that there’s a very important connection between damaged gut flora in pregnant women and developmental problems in their children, especially autism.

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. It’s important to realize that babies who develop abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems, which puts them at higher risk for suffering vaccine reactions.

In GAPS Babies, Vaccination Can Be ‘the Last Straw’

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.

According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, in children with GAPS the toxicity flowing from their gut throughout their bodies and into their brains continually challenges their nervous system, preventing it from performing its normal functions and process sensory information.

Other researchers are now starting to back up her findings. For example, one 2013 study6 confirmed that autistic children have distinctly different microbiome compared to healthy children. Notably, they had fewer healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. Autistic children also had markedly higher levels of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

I believe the GAPS Nutritional program is vitally important for most, as the majority of people have such poor gut health due to poor diet and toxic exposures, but it's particularly crucial for pregnant women and young children.

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 pathogenic yeast and fungi to grow and also cause leaky gut that allows undigested protein fragments to sneak into the blood stream contributing to auto immune diseases. 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.

What Doctors Really Know About Vaccines

Another short video published on The Greater Good website makes the point that doctors are not being taught about vaccine risks in medical school. In short, doctors are being taught about administering vaccines but not about how to identify a vaccine reaction. Doctors strongly recommending and administering vaccines to children are not taught about the big gaps in vaccine safety science...

“They don’t learn that no study exists comparing the medium or long term health outcomes of vaccinated to unvaccinated populations. They don’t learn that vaccine safety studies don’t use a true placebo, but instead use another vaccine or a solution containing mercury or aluminum as a placebo! They don’t learn that vaccine safety studies often last a few days to a few weeks keeping hidden long term side effects. They don’t learn that vaccines can overwhelm the immune system and cause autoimmune disease.

They don’t learn that the aluminum in vaccines is known to cause cognitive impairment, autoimmune disease, gut issues and a host of other damage to healthy adults – goodness knows what they do to tiny infants. They don’t learn that the mercury in vaccines is documented in the medical literature as a potent neurotoxin and that it is still used in the manufacturing of some vaccines and as a preservative as well. They don’t learn how the body processes the vaccine components because, well, no one has ever researched it.”

In light of such vaccine education deficiencies in most medical schools, it becomes very important for parents to educate themselves—and their pediatricians, if they can—about how to identify and prevent vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths.  And this is precisely why opening up discussions about these issues is so important. There are huge gaps in general knowledge, and huge gaps in research too, and those gaps really need to be addressed.

Why Won’t the CDC Study Health Outcomes?

One study that could shed a lot of light on the vaccine safety conversation is a study comparing health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. As illogical as it seems, such a study has NEVER been conducted. It does not exist. And so the controversy over whether or not use of multiple vaccines in early childhood is having long term adverse health effects and may do more harm than good continues... That said, unofficial surveys7, 8 suggest that highly vaccinated children may have more chronic health problems than unvaccinated children, and that unvaccinated children have a far lower incidence rate of autism. There’s also a growing body of research suggesting that vaccines may be associated with a variety of brain and immune system disorders, including a potential increased risk for:

  • Learning and developmental disabilities
  • Brain damage
  • Allergies, asthma, and gut problems
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic infections
Autism Rates Jump Each Time Vaccine Made from Human Fetal Cell Lines Is Released

One of the latest studies revealing there may be unrecognized safety issues associated with vaccines was published in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology.9 It points to a potential correlation between autism and three specific vaccines: MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Varicella (chickenpox), and Hepatitis A vaccines. As reported by Global Research:10

“Using statistical analysis and data from the US Government, UK, Denmark and Western Australia, scientists at Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute (SCPI) found that increases in autistic disorder correspond with the introduction of vaccines using human fetal cell lines and retroviral contaminants. Even more alarming, Dr Theresa Deisher, lead scientist and SCPI founder noted that, ‘Not only are the human fetal contaminated vaccines associated with autistic disorder throughout the world, but also with epidemic childhood leukemia and lymphomas.’”

The main argument for a vaccine-autism connection in the study is the introduction of vaccines manufactured with human fetal cell lines containing fetal and retroviral contaminants. The cell line in question is known as WI-38. According to the authors, autism rates rose sharply each time another one of these vaccines were released. In the US, autism rates jumped in 1980-1981 following the approval of MeruvaxII and MMRII, both of which are made with the human fetal cell line WI-38. Another jump in autism prevalence occurred in 1988, corresponding to three factors:

  • The addition of a second dose of MMRII
  • A highly successful measles vaccination campaign that raised compliance from 50 to 82 percent between the years 1987-1989
  • The introduction of Poliovax in 1987

In 1995, autism rates jumped again in response to the introduction of the Varicella vaccine, Varivax. In conclusion, the authors note that “rising autistic disorder prevalence is directly related to vaccines manufactured utilizing human fetal cells.”

There are many outstanding questions about vaccine science and policy that must be answered quickly before more vaccines are added to the government recommended and mandated list for children and adults. In the meantime, to protect your own health and the health of your children, please empower yourself with information and become well informed about infectious diseases and vaccines so you can make wise health care choices.

You can access more information about vaccination and health on this website and also on the website of a Mercola Health Liberty partner, the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) at www.NVIC.org. The parent co-founders of NVIC, whose children were injured by DPT vaccine, launched the vaccine safety and informed consent movement in the U.S. in 1982 and their website is the largest and oldest website on the Internet publishing accurate, well referenced information about vaccination and infectious diseases.

If you want to actively work in your state to protect legal vaccine exemptions so you are able to make voluntary vaccine choices for yourself and your children, I encourage you to sign up today to be a user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal, so you can be kept up to date on legislation moving in your state that may threaten vaccine exemptions and puts you in touch with your own elected representatives so you can make your voice heard. It is up to all of us, individually, to participate in our democracy and make sure that that the laws which govern us do not infringe upon our civil liberties and take away our human right to exercise informed consent to vaccine risk-taking.

The Dangers of Eating Late at Night

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Do you eat dinner late at night and go to bed less than three hours later? Do you also suffer from unexplained post-nasal drip, cough, and difficulty swallowing? These could be signs of acid reflux, which, unbeknownst to many, can occur without the telltale signs of heartburn and indigestion.

Further, if you want to nip it in the bud, all you may have to do is change your lifestyle to eat dinner earlier. Eating late at night, especially if you overeat and/or eat heavy foods, and then lying down shortly after, is a recipe for acid reflux.

Increasingly Later Dinners May Be Driving Acid Reflux Cases

In the last 35 years, New York physician Jamie Koufman, who specializes in acid reflux, told the New York Times that long work hours necessitate a late dinner for many.1 Then, many people push it back further by trying to fit in shopping, exercise and other activities beforehand.

Adding to the problem, dinner tends to be the largest meal of the day for most Americans, and it's often made up of heavy processed foods in overly large portions.

Under the best circumstances (in a young, healthy person), your stomach takes a few hours to empty after you eat a meal. As you get older or if you have acid reflux, the process takes longer.

Then, when you lay down to go to sleep, it's much easier for acid to spill out of your full stomach, which is what leads to acid reflux. Even if you don't have heartburn, you could still have acid reflux if you have symptoms like hoarseness, chronic throat clearing, and even asthma.

Plus, acid reflux can lead to esophageal cancer, which has risen five-fold since the 1970s. According to Dr. Koufman, "the single most important intervention is to eliminate late eating." He continued:2

"Typical was the restaurateur who came to see me with symptoms of postnasal drip, sinus disease, hoarseness, heartburn and a chronic cough. He reported that he always left his restaurant at 11 p.m., and after arriving home would eat dinner and then go to bed. There was no medical treatment for this patient, no pills or even surgery to fix his condition.

The drugs we are using to treat reflux don't always work, and even when they do, they can have dangerous side effects. My patient's reflux was a lifestyle problem. I told him he had to eat dinner before 7 p.m., and not eat at all after work. Within six weeks, his reflux was gone."

Why You Don't Want to Treat Acid Reflux with Acid-Blocking Drugs

One of the most commonly prescribed drugs for acid reflux are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are very effective at blocking acid production in your stomach. While that may sound like an appropriate remedy, considering the fact that stomach acid is creeping up your esophagus, in most cases, it's actually the worst approach possible.

There are over 16,000 articles in the medical literature showing that suppressing stomach acid does not address the problem. It only temporarily treats the symptoms. PPIs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid were originally designed to treat a very limited range of severe problems.

According to Mitchell Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, who wrote an editorial on this topic four years ago, PPIs are only warranted for the treatment of:3

  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (a rare condition that causes your stomach to produce excess acid)
  • Severe acid reflux, where an endoscopy has confirmed that your esophagus is damaged

According to Katz, "about 60 to 70 percent of people taking these drugs have mild heartburn and shouldn't be on them." Part of the problem with PPIs is that when you suppress the amount of acid in your stomach, you decrease your body's ability to kill the Helicobacter bacteria. So if your heartburn is caused by an H. pylori infection, it actually makes your condition worse and perpetuates the problem.

Besides that, reducing acid in your stomach diminishes your primary defense mechanism for food-borne infections, which will increase your risk of food poisoning. PPI drugs can also cause potentially serious side effects, including pneumonia, bone loss, hip fractures, and infection with Clostridium difficile (a harmful intestinal bacteria).

It's also worth noting that you'll also develop both tolerance and dependence on PPI drugs, so you should not stop taking proton pump inhibitors cold turkey. You need to wean yourself off them gradually or else you might experience a severe rebound of your symptoms. In some cases, the problem may end up being worse than before you started taking the medication.

Another Reason to Avoid Late-Night Eating: Intermittent Fasting

Our ancestors did not have access to grocery stores or food around the clock. They would cycle through periods of feast and famine, and modern research shows this cycling produces a number of biochemical benefits. Today, simply by altering what and when you eat, you can rather dramatically alter how your body operates for the better.

One of the simplest ways to do this is via intermittent fasting. There are many methods for doing this, but the one I recommend and personally use is to simply restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight-hour window from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This gives you a 16-hour fasting "window" without much sacrifice on your part. It also ties in nicely with eating dinner at a reasonable hour (any time prior to 7 p.m.), while giving you several hours for your food to digest before you lay down for the night.

What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

In this case, the earlier dinner will not only benefit any acid reflux that's present, but, when combined with a delayed breakfast at 11 a.m., will give your body the benefits of remaining in a carefully timed "famine mode." Benefits include the following:

  • Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency: One of the primary mechanisms that makes intermittent fasting so beneficial for health is related to its impact on your insulin sensitivity.
  • While sugar is a source of energy for your body, it also promotes insulin resistance when consumed in the amounts found in our modern processed junk food diets. Insulin resistance, in turn, is a primary driver of chronic disease—from heart disease to cancer.

    Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.

  • Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone."
  • Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production: Research has shown fasting can raise HGH by as much as 1,300 percent in women, and 2,000 percent in men,4 which plays an important part in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process. HGH is also a fat-burning hormone, which helps explain why fasting is so effective for weight loss.
  • Lowering triglyceride levels and improving other biomarkers of disease.
  • Reducing oxidative stress: Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.

Intermittent fasting is the most powerful tool I know to address insulin resistance. However, once the resistance is resolved and you are no longer overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or are taking a statin drug you don't need to do it and would only benefit from doing it occasionally.

Eating Too Late at Night Throws Your Internal Clock Off Kilter

If you're in need of more motivation to move your dinnertime up a few hours, emerging research suggests that the timing of your meals, for instance eating very late at night when you'd normally be sleeping, may throw off your body's internal clock and lead to weight gain. For instance, artificial light, such as a glow from your TV or computer, can serve as a stimulus for keeping you awake and, possibly, eating, when you should really be asleep.

In one study, mice that were exposed to dim light during the night gained 50 percent more weight over an eight-week period than mice kept in complete darkness at night.5 They also had increased levels of glucose intolerance, a marker for pre-diabetes. The weight gain occurred even though the mice were fed the same amount of food and had similar activity levels, and the researchers believe the findings may hold true for humans as well.

When mice were exposed to nighttime light, they ended up eating more of their food when they would normally be sleeping, and this led to significant weight gain. However, in a second experiment when researchers restricted meals to times of day when the mice would normally eat, they did not gain weight, even when exposed to light at night. So when your light and dark signals become disrupted it not only changes the times you may normally eat, it also throws your metabolism off kilter, likely leading to weight gain.

The Case for Making Dinner Your Biggest Meal of the Day

You've probably heard the advice to make your mid-day meal the biggest of the day and have a lighter meal at dinner, which takes some stress off your body and allows you time to wind down for bedtime (rather than digesting a heavy meal). But this is debatable… and possibly all wrong. Some experts believe that eating your main meal at night may actually be more in-tune with your innate biological clock. Routinely eating at the wrong time may not only disrupt your biological clock and interfere with your sleep, but it may also devastate vital body functions and contribute to disease. According to Ori Hofmekler, author of The Warrior Diet:

"Your body is programmed for nocturnal feeding. All your activities, including your feeding, are controlled by your autonomic nervous system, which operates around the circadian clock. During the day, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) puts your body in an energy spending active mode, whereas during the night your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) puts your body in an energy replenishing relaxed and sleepy mode.

These two parts of your autonomic nervous system complement each other like yin and yang. Your SNS, which is stimulated by fasting and exercise, keeps you alert and active with an increased capacity to resist stress and hunger throughout the day. And your PSNS, which is stimulated by your nightly feeding, makes you relaxed and sleepy, with a better capacity to digest and replenish nutrients throughout the night. This is how your autonomic nervous system operates under normal conditions.

But that system is highly vulnerable to disruption. If you eat at the wrong time such as when having a large meal during the day, you will mess with your autonomic nervous system; you'll inhibit your SNS and instead turn on the PSNS, which will make you sleepy and fatigued rather than alert and active during the working hours of the day. And instead of spending energy and burning fat, you'll store energy and gain fat. This is indeed a lose-lose situation."

That being said, even if you do eat your main meal at night, you'll want to avoid eating it too close to bedtime as doing so may increase your risk of acid reflux symptoms. Ideally, try to give yourself a three- to four-hour window between your last meal of the day and bedtime. Personally, I eat my primary and really only major meal in the mid-afternoon. I snack a bit before and after but this seems to work for me as long as I get enough calories and protein.

If You Have Acid Reflux, It's Time to Overhaul Your Diet

A key to healing acid reflux is to restore your natural gastric balance and function. Eating large amounts of processed foods and sugars is a surefire way to exacerbate acid reflux, as it will upset the bacterial balance in your stomach and intestine.

You simply must eliminate all refined sugars to improve your gut flora. Instead, you'll want to eat a lot of vegetables and other high-quality, ideally organic, unprocessed foods. Also, eliminate food triggers from your diet. Common culprits here include caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine products.

Next, you need to make sure you're getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet. This will help balance your bowel flora, which can help eliminate H. pylori bacteria (a common cause of heartburn) naturally without resorting to antibiotics. It will also aid in proper digestion and assimilation of your food.

Ideally, you'll want to get your probiotics from fermented foods. If you aren't eating fermented foods, you most likely need to supplement with a probiotic on a regular basis. Try to include a variety of cultured foods and beverages in your diet, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms. Fermented foods you can easily make at home include:

In addition, acid reflux is typically a sign of having too little stomach acid. To encourage your body to make sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), you'll also want to make sure you're consuming enough of the raw material on a regular basis. High-quality sea salt (unprocessed salt), such as Himalayan salt, will not only provide you with the chloride your body needs to make hydrochloric acid, it also contains over 80 trace minerals your body needs to perform optimally, biochemically.

Sauerkraut or cabbage juice is also a strong—if not the strongest—stimulant for your body to produce stomach acid. Having a few teaspoons of cabbage juice before eating, or better yet, fermented cabbage juice from sauerkraut, will do wonders to improve your digestion.

15 More Natural Strategies for Overcoming Acid Reflux

In addition to those mentioned above, there are a number of other strategies that can also help you get your acid reflux under control, without resorting to medications.

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar As mentioned earlier, acid reflux typically results from having too little acid in your stomach. You can easily improve the acid content of your stomach by taking one tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water. Betaine Another option is to take a betaine hydrochloric supplement, which is available in health food stores without prescription. You'll want to take as many as you need to get the slightest burning sensation and then decrease by one capsule. This will help your body to better digest your food, and will also help kill the H. pylori bacteria. Baking soda One-half to one full teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in an eight-ounce glass of water may ease the burn of acid reflux as it helps neutralize stomach acid. I would not recommend this is a regular solution but it can sure help in an emergency when you are in excruciating pain. Aloe juice The juice of the aloe plant naturally helps reduce inflammation, which may ease symptoms of acid reflux. Drink about 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice before meals. If you want to avoid its laxative effect, look for a brand that has removed the laxative component. Ginger root or chamomile tea Ginger has been found to have a gastroprotective effect by blocking acid and suppressing Helicobacter pylori.6 According to a 2007 study, it's also far superior to lansoprazole for preventing the formation of ulcers, exhibiting six- to eight-fold greater potency over the drug!7 This is perhaps not all that surprising, considering the fact that ginger root has been traditionally used against gastric disturbances since ancient times.

Add two or three slices of fresh ginger root to two cups of hot water. Let steep for about half an hour. Drink about 20 minutes or so before your meal. Before bed, try a cup of chamomile tea, which can help soothe stomach inflammation and help you sleep. Vitamin D Vitamin D is important for addressing any infectious component. Once your vitamin D levels are optimized, you're also going to optimize your production of about 200 antimicrobial peptides that will help your body eradicate any infection that shouldn't be there.

As I've discussed in many previous articles, you can increase your vitamin D levels through appropriate amounts of sun exposure, or through the use of a high-quality tanning bed. If neither of those is available, you can take an oral vitamin D3 supplement; just remember to also increase your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake as well. Astaxanthin This exceptionally potent antioxidant was found to reduce symptoms of acid reflux in patients when compared to a placebo, particularly in those with pronounced Helicobacter pylori infection.8 Best results were obtained at a daily dose of 40 mg. Slippery elm Slippery elm coats and soothes your mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines, and contains antioxidants that can help address inflammatory bowel conditions. It also stimulates nerve endings in your gastrointestinal tract. This helps increase mucus secretion, which protects your gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity. The University of Maryland Medical Center makes the following adult dosing recommendations:9

  • Tea: Pour 2 cups boiling water over 4 g (roughly 2 tablespoons) of powdered bark, then steep for 3 - 5 minutes. Drink 3 times per day.
  • Tincture: 5 mL 3 times per day.
  • Capsules: 400 - 500 mg 3 - 4 times daily for 4 - 8 weeks. Take with a full glass of water.
  • Lozenges: follow dosing instructions on label.
Chinese herbs for the treatment of "Gu" symptoms caused by chronic inflammatory diseases So-called "Gu" symptoms include digestive issues associated with inflammation and pathogenic infestation. For more information about classical herbs used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of such symptoms, please see an alternative medicine professional. Glutamine Gastrointestinal damage caused by H. pylori can be addressed with the amino acid glutamine,10 found in many foods, including grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, wild-caught fish, organic eggs, raw dairy products, and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine, the biologically active isomer of glutamine, is also widely available as a supplement. Folate or folic acid (vitamin B9) and other B vitamins Research suggests B vitamins can reduce your risk for acid reflux.11 Higher folic acid intake was found to reduce acid reflux by approximately 40 percent. Low vitamin B2 and B6 levels were also linked to an increased risk for acid reflux. The best way to raise your folate levels is by eating folate-rich whole foods, such as organic liver, asparagus, spinach, okra, and beans.

10 Things You May Not Know About Laughter

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If you want to communicate with someone from across the globe who speaks a different language, all you have to do is laugh. Laughter is a form of communication that’s universally recognized, which suggests it has deep importance to humankind.1

It's thought that laughter may have occurred before humans could speak as a playful way for mothers and infants to communicate, as a form of play vocalization, or to strengthen group bonds. Even today our brains are wired to prime us to smile or laugh when we hear others laughing.

Yet, laughter is a largely involuntary response; it’s not generally something you can force yourself to do. Instead, laughter is thought to be triggered by mechanisms in your brain and impacts breathing patterns, facial expressions, and even the muscles in your arms and legs.

It plays a role in your health, too, and has many quirks and mysteries that make it one of the most fascinating physical reactions that a human (and certain other species) can make.

10 Fascinating Facts About Laughter

Professor Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist and stand-up comic, put together these surprising facts about laughter.2

1. Rats Laugh When They’re Tickled

Rats laugh when they’re tickled, and the more they play together, the more they laugh. Psychologist Jack Panksepp first observed laughing rats in the 1990s; he needed special equipment to hear it, as rats’ laughs are very high pitched.

2. You’re More Likely to Laugh Around Others – Not Because of Jokes

If you're laughing, you're far more likely to be surrounded by others, according to research by laughter expert Dr. Robert Provine. The critical laughter trigger for most people is another person, not a joke or funny movie.

After observing 1,200 people laughing in their natural environments, Dr. Provine and his team found that laughter followed jokes only about 10-20 percent of the time. Social laughter occurs 30 times more frequently than solitary laughter.

In most cases, the laughter followed a banal comment or only slightly humorous one, which signals that the person is more important than the material in triggering laughter.

3. Your Brain Can Detect Fake Laughter

Professor Scott’s research has shown that your brain can tell the difference between real or staged laughter. When you hear staged, or deliberate, laughter, it prompts more activity in your brain’s anterior medial prefrontal cortex, which helps you understand other people’s emotions.

This suggests your brain automatically goes to work deciphering why someone is deliberately laughing.

4. Laughter Is Contagious

The saying "laugh and the whole world laughs with you" is more than just an expression: laughter really is contagious. The sound of laughter triggers regions in the premotor cortical region of your brain, which is involved in moving your facial muscles to correspond with sound and prepare to join in.3

5. Jokes Are Funnier if You Know the Comedian

Familiarity is a key part of humor and laughter, and research shows people find jokes told by famous comedians to be funnier than the same joke told by someone they’re not familiar with.

6. Laughing Burns Calories

Laughing raises both your energy expenditure and heart rate by about 10 percent to 20 percent. This means you could burn about 10-40 calories by laughing for 10 to 15 minutes. While this sounds good in theory, you’d have to laugh solidly for an hour or more for this calorie burning to have any meaningful effect.

7. Laughing Is Good for Your Relationships

Research shows that couples who use laughter and smile when discussing a touchy subject feel better in the immediacy and report higher levels of satisfaction in their relationship. They also tend to stay together longer.

8. Laughter Requires Timing

Laughter has a distinctive pattern. It rarely occurs in the middle of a sentence. Instead, laughter tends to occur at the end of sentences or during a break in speech, which suggests language is given the priority. According to Dr. Provine:4

"The occurrence of speaker laughter at the end of phrases suggests that a neurologically based process governs the placement of laughter in speech.

Different brain regions are involved in the expression of cognitively oriented speech and the more emotion-laden vocalization of laughter."

Comedians also use the natural tendency for laughter to grow and fade to their advantage, and will leave spaces at the end of a sentence for the audience to fill in with laughter.

9. Laughter Is Attractive

Research by Dr. Provine found that women laugh 126 percent more than men in cross-gender conversations, with men preferring to be the one prompting the laughter.

In a review of more than 3,700 newspaper personal ads, Dr. Provine revealed that women were 62 percent more likely to mention laughter, including seeking a mate with a sense of humor, while men were more likely to offer humor in their ads.

10. Some Things Can Make Virtually Everyone Laugh

While there’s no one joke that makes everyone laugh, Professor Scott found that one of the best tools for making people laugh in her lab is a clip of people trying not to laugh in a situation where it would be highly inappropriate to do so.

Laughter Is Good for Your Memory Too

Researchers at California's Loma Linda University looked into the role that humor can have on your health. They broke 20 older adults into two groups – one that watched funny videos and one that sat silently for 20 minutes. Before and after the session, both groups took a short-term memory test…

The humor group showed significantly more improvement on the test, 43.6 percent compared to 20 percent in the non-humor group.5 Those in the humor group also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. According to the researchers, laughter represents an enjoyable tool to help counteract age-related memory decline in older adults:

The study's findings suggest that humor can have clinical benefits and rehabilitative implications and can be implemented in programs that support whole-person wellness for older adults. Learning ability and delayed recall are important to these individuals for a better quality of life--considering mind, body, spirit, social, and economic aspects. Older adults may have age-associated memory deficiencies. However, medical practitioners now can offer positive, enjoyable, and beneficial humor therapies to improve these deficiencies.”

Laughter Enhances Immunity, Improves Sleep, and More

What else is laughter good for? Research has shown laughter may reduce stress hormones and boost your immune function,6 while also inducing optimistic feelings.7 Laughter has demonstrated a wealth of physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits, such that increasing numbers of health care centers are adopting laughter therapy as a form of complementary care. Opportunities that provide for group laughter, such as laughter yoga and laugh parties, are also becoming increasingly popular around the world. Just a short list of the benefits of laughter therapy are noted below:

Relaxing your muscles Triggering the release of your body's natural painkillers (endorphins)Improving sleep Enhancing creativity and memoryEasing digestionEnhancing oxygen intake Improving well-being and positive emotionsBoosting immune functionImproving blood pressure Laugh Each and Every Day

Children laugh easily and often, but adults may forget to make room for laughter in their daily lives. If you can, incorporate laughter into your daily routine by finding what makes you laugh. Remember that you’re more likely to laugh in the company of others, so try to find the humor in life when you’re spending time with friends, family, and co-workers.

Some experts even recommend everyone get 15 to 20 minutes of laughter a day, much like you should exercise regularly and eat your vegetables. If you haven’t had your daily dose of laughter yet, check out the video below. It’s living proof that laughter is contagious…

Vaccination: Defending Your Right to Know and Freedom to Choose

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 02:00

Following is an excerpt from a keynote presentation given by Barbara Loe Fisher at the 2014 US Health Freedom Congress in Minneapolis, Minnesota. View the video of her full 75 minute presentation here or on NVIC.org. 

By Barbara Loe Fisher
Co-founder & President, National Vaccine Information Center

The public conversation about whether we should have the freedom to choose how we want to maintain our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health has become one of the most important public conversations of our time.

It is a conversation that challenges us to examine complex public policy, scientific, ethical, legal, philosophical, economic, political, and cultural issues.

This may appear to be a new conversation but it has been around for centuries.1 At the center of this new and old public conversation about health and freedom, is the topic of vaccination.2, 3

What unites those defending an open discussion about vaccination and health is a commitment to protecting bodily integrity4, 5 and defending the inalienable right to self-determination,6 which has been globally acknowledged as a human right.7, 8, 9

Whether you are a health care professional practicing complementary and alternative medicine or specializing in homeopathic, naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, or other holistic health options,10 or you are a consumer advocate working for the right to know and freedom to choose how you and your family will stay well, many of you have a deep concern about health and freedom.

Vaccination: Most Hotly Debated of All Health Freedom Issues

The most divisive and hotly debated of all health freedom issues is the question of whether individuals should be at liberty to dissent from established medical and government health policy and exercise freedom of thought, speech, and conscience when it comes to vaccination.11, 12, 13

In the health freedom movement, there are some who will defend the legal right to purchase and use nutritional supplements, drink raw milk, eat GMO-free food, remove fluoride from public water systems and mercury from dental amalgams, or choose non-medical model options for healing and staying well, but are reluctant to publicly support the legal right to make vaccine choices.

A Sacrosanct Status for Vaccination

Vaccination is a medical procedure that has been elevated to a sacrosanct status by those in control of the medical-model based health care system for the past two centuries. Vaccination is now being proclaimed as the most important scientific discovery and public health intervention in the history of medicine.14, 15, 16

Using religious symbols and crusading language, medical scientists describe vaccination as the Holy Grail.17, 18, 19, 20 Vaccines, they say, are going to eradicate all causes of sickness and death from the earth and anyone who doubts that is an ignorant fool.21, 22, 23, 24, 25

In the 1970s, pediatrician and health freedom pioneer Robert Mendelsohn, who described himself as a medical heretic, warned that medical science has become a religion and doctors have turned the act of vaccination into “the new sacrament.”26

In the 21st century, if you refuse to believe that vaccination is a moral and civic duty and dare to question vaccine safety or advocate for the legal right to decline one or more government recommended vaccines.

You are in danger of being branded an anti-science heretic, a traitor, and a threat to the public health.27, 28 You are viewed as a person of interest who deserves to be humiliated, silenced, and punished for your dissent.29, 30, 31, 32

Exercising Freedom of Thought, Speech, and Autonomy

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize,” said Voltaire,33, 34 the great 18th century writer during the Age of Enlightenment, who was imprisoned several times in the Bastille for defending freedom of thought and speech before the French Revolution.

As contentious as the public conversation about vaccination, health, and autonomy has become, we cannot be afraid to have it. There has never been a better time to challenge those ruling our health care with an iron fist. We have the power and all we need to do is exercise it.   

Information Is Power

We have the tools in the 21st century to bring about a modern Age of Enlightenment35 that will liberate the people so we can take back our freedom and our health.

The electronic communications revolution has provided a global platform for us to access the Library of Medicine36 and evaluate the quality and quantity of vaccine science used to make public health policy and create vaccine laws.

The World Wide Web allows us to circumvent the paid mainstream media dominated by industry and governments and publicly communicate in detail on our computers, tablets, and smart phones exactly what happened to our health or our child’s health after vaccination.37, 38, 39, 40

We are connected with each other in a way that we have never been before and it is time to talk about vaccines and microbes and the true causes of poor health.

It is time to face the fear that we and our children will get sick and die if we don’t believe and do what those we have allowed to rule our health care system with an iron fist tell us to believe and do.

Who Will Control the Multi-Trillion Dollar US Health Care System?

What is at stake in this debate between citizens challenging the status quo and those resisting constructive change is: who will control the multi-trillion dollar US health care system?41

If people have the right to know and freedom to choose how to heal and stay healthy, a free people may think independently and choose to spend their money on something different from what they have been carefully taught to spend their money on right now.42

A free people may reject sole reliance on the expensive and, some say, ineffective pharmaceutical-based medical model that has dominated US health care for two centuries.43, 44, 45

A free people may refuse to buy and eat GMO foods.46 A free people may walk away from doctors, who threaten and punish patients for refusing to obey orders to get an annual flu shot or decline to give their children every single government recommended vaccine on schedule – no exceptions and no questions asked.47

The most rational and compelling arguments for defending health freedom, including vaccine freedom of choice, are grounded in ethics, law, science, and economics. The human right to voluntary, informed consent to vaccination is the best example of why Americans must not wait any longer to stand up and defend without compromise the inalienable right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity.

NVIC: Defending Ethical Principle of Informed Consent

I and the more than 100,000 followers and supporters48 of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center, take an informed consent position with regard to vaccination. Since our founding in 1982, we have defended the ethical principle of informed consent to vaccine risk-taking because vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury, death, and failure.49

Because informed consent to medical risk taking is the central ethical principle guiding the ethical practice of medicine.50 We support the “first do no harm” precautionary approach to public policymaking, which focuses on how much harm can be prevented from a policy or law and not how much harm is acceptable.51

NVIC Supports Your Health Choices and Vaccine Exemptions

We do not advocate for or against use of vaccines. We support your human and legal right to make informed, voluntary health care decisions for yourself and your children and choose to use every government recommended vaccine, a few vaccines or no vaccines at all.52 NVIC has worked for more than 30 years to secure vaccine safety and informed consent provisions in public health policies and laws, including flexible medical, religious, and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions.  

We are doing this in an increasingly hostile environment created by an industry-government-medical trade alliance that is lobbying for laws to compel all Americans to use every government recommended without deviation from the official schedule or face a growing number of societal sanctions.53 Although historically, children have been the target for vaccine mandates, authoritarian implementation of federal vaccine policy is not just for children anymore, it is rapidly expanding to include all adults.54, 55

Californians Stood Up for Personal Belief Vaccine Exemption

In 2012, many California residents traveled to Sacramento to protest a law introduced by a pediatrician legislator to make it harder for parents to file a personal belief vaccine exemption for their children to attend school. They responded to Action Alerts we issued through the online NVIC Advocacy Portal and lined the halls of the state Capitol building, many with their children, and waited for hours and hours to testify at several public hearings.

Mother after mother and father after father, grandparents, nurses, doctors, and students of chiropractic, came to the public microphone. Some talked about how vaccine reactions left their children sick and disabled but they can’t find a doctor to write a medical exemption so their children can attend school; others talked about how their babies died after vaccination; and others simply opposed restriction of the legal right for parents to make medical decisions for their minor children.

It was a remarkable public witnessing by articulate, courageous citizens pleading with their elected representatives to do the right thing.

The right thing would have been for lawmakers to vote to leave the personal belief vaccine exemption alone so parents could continue to make vaccine decisions for their minor children without being forced to beg a hostile doctor or government official for permission to do that. That didn’t happen.56 Today, parents in California are forced to pay a pediatrician or other state-approved health worker to sign a personal belief vaccine exemption and the doctor can refuse to sign and parents are reporting many pediatricians ARE refusing to sign.

Californians Inspired Colorado Citizens to Stand Up in 2014

Yet, because in 2012 California citizens made a powerful public statement by participating in the democratic process and taking action with calls, letters, emails, and personal testimony, in 2014, Colorado citizens were inspired to do the same when the personal belief vaccine exemption was attacked in that state.

Because in 2012, enough people in California did not sit back and assume the job of defending health freedom would get done by someone else, in 2014, enough people in Colorado did not assume it would get done by someone else.57 And this time, we were able to hold the line and protect the personal belief vaccine exemption in that state from being eliminated or restricted.58

This time, there were enough lawmakers in Colorado, who listened and carefully considered the evidence.59 They did not cave in to pressure from drug industry, government, and medical trade lobbyists60, 61, 62, 63 labeling a minority of citizens as “ignorant,” “selfish,” “crazy,” and in need of having their parental and civil rights taken away for defending the human right to self determination and informed consent to vaccine risk-taking.

The Right to Make a Risk Decision Belongs to You

I do not tell anyone what risks to take and never will. The right and responsibility for making a risk decision belongs to the person taking the risk. When you become informed and think rationally about a risk you or your child will take – and then follow your conscience – you own that decision. And when you own a decision, you can defend it. And once you can defend it, you will be ready to do whatever it takes to fight for your freedom to make it, no matter who tries to prevent you from doing that.

Einstein: ‘Never do anything against conscience’

Albert Einstein, who risked arrest in Germany in the 1930s when he spoke out against censorship and persecution of minorities, said, “Never do anything against conscience even if the State demands it.”64 It takes strength to act independently. When the herd is all running toward the cliff, the one running in the opposite direction seems crazy. People who think rationally and act independently even when the majority does not, may be the only ones to survive!

Ghandi: ‘Speak Your Mind’

Ghandi was often persecuted by the ruling majority for challenging their authority and using non-violent civil disobedience to publicly dissent. He said, “Never apologize for being correct, for being ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”65 Sharing what you know to be true empowers others to make conscious choices.

Jefferson: ‘The Minority Possess Their Equal Rights’

The authors of the US Constitution made sure to include strong language securing individual liberties, including freedom of thought, speech, and conscience. They did that because many of the families immigrating to America had personally faced discrimination and persecution in other countries for holding beliefs different from the ruling majority.

In his first Presidential inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson warned: “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority posses their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”66

Getting Vaccinated Is Not a Patriotic Act

There is no liberty more fundamentally a natural, inalienable right than the freedom to think independently and follow your conscience when choosing what you will risk your life or your child’s life for. And that is why voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking is a human right.

Despite what you are being told by paid propaganda experts67, 68 spinning the conversation about vaccination and health in the media today, getting vaccinated is not a patriotic act69 and declining to use a government recommended vaccine is not a criminal act.70 It is a choice.

All Born Equal But Not the Same

Vaccination must remain a choice because, while we are all born equal, with equal rights under the law, we are not born all the same. Each one of us is born with different genes and a unique microbiome71 influenced by epigenetics72 that affects how we respond to the environments we live in. We do not all respond the same way to infectious diseases73 and we do not all respond the same way to pharmaceutical products like vaccines.74, 75, 76, 77 Public health laws that fail to respect biodiversity and force everyone to be treated the same are unethical and dangerous. 

My Son’s Severe DPT Vaccine Reaction

The first time I really understood what it means to belong to a minority was after I witnessed my son, Chris, suffer a convulsion, collapse shock, and brain inflammation within hours of his fourth DPT shot when he was two and a half years old. I remember that day in 1980 when I took my exceptionally bright, healthy two and a half year old son to the pediatrician with all the trust and faith of a young first time mother.

Saying words at seven months, speaking in full sentences and identifying words by age two, my precocious, cheerful little boy had a friend, Timmy, who lived across the street and also got four DPT shots by age two. Timmy was born to a different mother and father with a different genetic, biological, and environmental history. Timmy did not have a milk allergy or a family history of autoimmunity and allergy like Chris. He had not experienced a severe local reaction after his third DPT shot like Chris had and, unlike Chris, Timmy had not just finished a course of antibiotics before he was vaccinated a fourth time.

Timmy did not have a reaction to his booster DPT shot. Chris did. Within hours of vaccination, I watched my son’s eyes roll back in his head and his head fall to his shoulder as if he had fallen asleep sitting up. It was a classic post-DPT vaccine convulsion and collapse shock reaction78 and I didn’t know. Then, when he slept for hours without moving and I thought he was just taking a really long nap, I didn’t understand that he was unconscious79 and could have died in his bed and I would never have known why because my pediatrician did not tell me about DPT vaccine risks or how to identify vaccine reaction symptoms.80, 81, 82, 83

Vaccine Induced Brain Inflammation and Regression

The immune mediated brain inflammation, also known as encephalopathy,84, 85, 86 that Chris experienced after DPT vaccination was followed by progressive deterioration in physical, mental, and emotional health, including chronic infections, constant diarrhea, new allergies, failure to thrive, loss of previous cognitive skills, inability to concentrate, and personality and behavior changes.

Chris could no longer do what he could do before his fourth DPT shot. He became a totally different child.

After repeated testing, he was diagnosed with minimal brain damage, including multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder and placed in a special education classroom for the learning disabled where he stayed through his public education until the end of high school. Chris and I know how very fortunate he was that the severe vaccine reaction he experienced did not take his life or leave him with far more serious brain and immune dysfunction like so many of the children we have both come to know since then.

Today, Chris is a videographer and competitive power lifter. He has worked hard to compensate for the learning disabilities that made his childhood a frustrating, unhappy, and sometimes dangerous time in his life. Recent testing has revealed that Chris has an exceptional ability to engage in abstract thinking and that, when his learning disabilities are discounted, he has a high IQ, which is one reason why he was so frustrated and lost in a special education system that does not have a place for children like him.

Vaccine Reaction Survivors: The Walking Wounded

Chris is a vaccine reaction survivor. He is among the walking wounded, who are not left with severe vaccine injuries, but whose futures are compromised in childhood when the risks of vaccination turn out to be 100 percent. How many mothers do not witness a child’s vaccine reaction and never understand why their children’s physical, mental, and emotional health suddenly regressed after vaccination? How many of those children are filling the special education classrooms, doctor’s offices, mental health facilities, and prisons in America?

The Risks of Trusting Without Verifying

What happened to my healthy son after vaccination in 1980 sent me on a journey to learn more and find out why doctors are not talking about vaccine risks and why a commercial product that can brain damage and kill people is being mandated. In part, I was driven by disappointment in myself as a college educated woman, who had come from a family of doctors and nurses and had worked as a writer at a teaching hospital before I became a Mom.

Why did I irrationally assume that vaccines were 100 percent safe and effective? Why had I blindly trusted a doctor instead of examining vaccination with the same due diligence that I had researched nutrition and toxic exposures during pregnancy and had taken prepared childbirth classes to weigh the merits of an epidural versus natural childbirth and breast feeding versus bottle feeding?

A Journey to Find Out Why

Some of my questions were answered during the two years of research that medical historian Harris Coulter and I conducted, when I learned that pertussis vaccine contains lethal pertussis toxin87, 88, 89 and endotoxin,90, 91 as well as aluminum and mercury,92, 93 which can make the blood brain more permeable.94, 95, 96

That research culminated in the publishing of our 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark.97 Harris and I were the first to report an association between vaccine induced brain inflammation and a spectrum of brain dysfunction that doctors give labels like seizures, learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism. But it would take another 25 years of research and interfacing with politicians and serving on committees with doctors in industry, government, and medical trade to answer the rest of my questions.98

Everybody Knows Somebody

In 1982, when I joined with parents of DPT vaccine injured children and co-founded the non-profit charity that is known today as the National Vaccine Information Center, the number of Americans questioning the safety of vaccines was so tiny, it could not even by measured in public opinion polls.

Three decades later, national polls reveal that the majority of parents in America say the Number One child health concern they have is about the safety of vaccines.99 That is because in the 21st century, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated, and was never healthy again.

Militarization of Vaccine Policy: Fear Replacing Trust

And people are talking about it, especially mothers taking their children to pediatricians because we are the ones who carry our babies inside us for nine months and give birth and feed and nurture them through infancy and are responsible for their health and we are the ones who usually quit work and stay home and care for them when they are never well anymore.

Mothers are asking their doctors logical questions about vaccination and when their doctors react to those questions with irrational rage or cold refusal to provide medical care if one or more vaccines are declined, it becomes obvious that there is something very wrong with doctors using threats to push and enforce use of a pharmaceutical product.100, 101, 102, 103 The militarization of vaccine policy in the United States is eroding the trust that used to exist between the people and their doctors and that broken trust is being replaced by fear.104, 105

From 23 Doses of 7 Vaccines to 69 Doses of 16 Vaccines

One of the reasons parents are asking more questions about vaccination is that there have been big changes in US vaccine policy and law since 1982. In 1982, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told pediatricians to give children 23 doses of seven vaccines before age six, with the first vaccinations starting at two months old.106 Today, the CDC has upped that number to 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18, with 49 doses of 14 vaccines given between the day of birth and age six.107

That is twice the number of vaccines children in the 1980s got by age six and three times as many vaccinations as Americans used to get during their whole life! But these new vaccines are not for diseases like smallpox and polio. They are for infant diarrhea and chickenpox, which are rarely fatal in this country, and hepatitis B, which requires direct exposure to infected blood and cannot be easily transmitted in public.108

Jacobsen v. Massachusetts: State Police Powers Affirmed

These are not the kind of infectious diseases the justices of the 1905 US Supreme Court probably had in mind when they issued their ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts.109 In that precedent setting split decision, the high court majority ruled that state legislatures could use police powers to force a minority of dissenting citizens to use smallpox vaccine for what medical doctors and government officials judge to be the greater good of the majority. Those early 20th century justices based their decision in part on a false premise argued by lawyers representing public health officials, who argued that medical doctors could predict ahead of time who will be injured or die from smallpox vaccination.

Doctors have never been able to predict with any certainty who will be injured and die from vaccination. In affirming the constitutional right of states to use police powers to enact public health laws, the Supreme Court was also reaffirming the roles of state government versus the federal government in public health law. Anything not defined in the US Constitution as a federal responsibility has traditionally defaulted to the states. Public health was not defined in the Constitution as a federal responsibility so public health laws have always been state laws and this is why vaccination laws vary from state to state.110, 111

A Utilitarian Rationale Turned Into Law

It is important to note that the Supreme Court ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century was clearly based on a utilitarian rationale that a minority of citizens opposing vaccination should be forced to get vaccinated in service to the majority. Utilitarianism was a popular ethical theory in the late 19th and early 20th century in Britain and the US and was used by government officials as a mathematical guide to making public policy that ensured “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.”112, 113  Today, utilitarianism has a much more benign and lofty name attached to it: “the greater good.”

Minorities at Risk When State Employs Militant Utilitarianism  

Perhaps that is because utilitarianism went out of fashion in the mid-20th century after, beginning in 1933, the Third Reich employed the utilitarian rationale as an excuse to demonize minorities judged to be a threat to the health and well being of the State.114 Enlisting the assistance of government health officials,115, 116, 117, 118 the first minority to be considered expendable for the good of the State were severely handicapped children, the chronically sick and mentally ill, the “useless eaters” they were called.119, 120

And when the reasons for why a person was identified as a threat to the health, economic stability, or security of the State grew longer to include minorities who were too old or too Jewish or too Catholic or too opinionated or simply unwilling to believe what those in control of the State said was true… as the list of those the State branded as persons of interest to be demonized, feared, tracked, isolated, and eliminated grew, so did the collective denial of those who had yet to be put on that list.121, 122

Jacobsen v Massachusetts Used to Embrace Eugenics in US

Prophetically, in 1927, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes invoked the Jacobsen v. Massachusetts “greater good” utilitarian decision to justify using the heel of the boot of the State to force the sterilization of a young Virginia woman, Carrie Buck, who doctors and social workers incorrectly judged to be mentally retarded like they said her mother was.123 In a chilling statement endorsing eugenics,124 Holmes revealed the morally corrupt core of utilitarianism that still props up mandatory vaccination laws in the US.

Pointing to the Jacobsen vs. Massachusetts decision, Holmes declared that the state of Virginia could force Carrie Buck to be sterilized to protect society from mentally retarded people. Coldly, Holmes proclaimed, “three generations of imbeciles are enough” and “The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.”125 The 1905 US Supreme Court majority made fundamental scientific and ethical errors in their ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts. It is clear that medical doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be injured or die from vaccination and that is a scientific fact.126, 127

Utilitarianism Is a Discredited Pseudo-Ethic

Utilitarianism is a discredited pseudo-ethic that has been used to justify horrific human rights abuses not only in the Third Reich128, 129 but in human scientific experimentation130 and the inhumane treatment of prisoners and political dissidents here and in many countries,131, 132, 133, 134 which is why it should never be used as a guide to public policy and law by any government.

Although we may disagree about the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence used by doctors and governments to declare vaccines are safe at the population level, at our peril do we fail to agree that, while the State may have the power, it does not have the moral authority to dictate that a minority of individuals born with certain genes and biological susceptibilities give up their lives without their consent for what the ruling majority has judged to be the greater good.

Our Lives Are Defined by the Choices We Make

The journey we take in this life is defined by the choices we make. And if we are not free to make those choices, the journey is not our own. And the choices we make that involve risk of harm to our physical body, which houses our mind and spirit, those choices are among the most profound choices we make in this life, which is why we must be free to make them.

5 Surprising Factors That Make You Pack on Pounds

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Two out of three Americans are now either overweight or obese. Obesity has become the number one form of malnutrition in the country, and no group has been hit harder than our children.

Childhood obesity in the US has nearly tripled since 1980, and one in five kids is now overweight by age six; 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese.1 

As noted in a recent article by investigative health reporter Martha Rosenberg,2 the weight of the average American increased by 24 pounds in the four decades between 1960 and 2000.

In her article, she reviews five scientifically-backed factors that contribute to Americans’ expanding waist lines, which I’ll review here. I’ve also covered all of these more in-depth in previous articles, so for additional details, please follow the hyperlinks provided.

Contrary to popular belief, obesity is not simply the result of eating too many calories and not exercising enough.

While those are part of the equation, there are a number of other environmental and lifestyle factors that are likely to play a much more significant role, if nothing else because most people don’t realize they’re affected by them, and therefore fail to address them.

#1: Antibiotics in Food and Medicine

Compelling evidence suggests antibiotic overuse and obesity are intricately linked, although the reasons why didn’t become clear until we discovered how your microbiome influences your weight.

Antibiotics can save your life if they're necessary, such as if you develop a serious bacterial infection, but you don't need antibiotics for every ear, nose, or throat infection you come down with.

Remember that antibiotics are useless against the viral infections that cause the common cold and the flu, and when used for this purpose, they will only harm your health by wiping out the good bacteria in your gut.

Beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are, in fact, so crucial to your health that researchers have compared them to "a newly recognized organ," and have even suggested we consider ourselves a type of "meta-organism."

This is an acknowledgment of the fact that we cannot be healthy without the participation of a vast array of beneficial microbes. While overused in medicine, the primary source of antibiotic exposure is actually through your diet.  

The US uses nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise food animals.3, 4 This accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US.5 In livestock, antibiotics are used both to ward off disease and to promote weight gain.

Research suggests antibiotics have the same effect in humans. According to data analyzed by journalist Maryn McKenna,6 the states with the highest levels of antibiotic overuse also have the worst health status in the United States, including the highest rates of obesity.

#2 Other Growth-Enhancing Drugs Used in Livestock

Other growth-enhancing drugs are also used to fatten up livestock, and these too may wreak havoc on your health. Ractopamine is one example. This beta-agonist drug works as a growth promoter by increasing protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular.

In human medicine, beta-agonists are also found in asthma medication, and stubborn weight gain is in fact a common complaint among asthma patients using Advair (a beta-agonist drug)—so much so that the manufacturer has added weight gain to the post-marketing side effects.

Many of the growth-enhancers routinely used in the US are banned around the world for their potential health hazards, which go far beyond weight gain.

Side effects such as reduced reproductive function, birth defects, disability, and death are reported side effects of ractopamine in various animals, and if you’re eating CAFO animal products on a daily basis, there’s no telling what it might be doing to your health...

Many confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also use hormones to boost growth, and this routine practices is also banned in many other countries. As noted by Rosenberg:7

“[B]anned in European countries are the hormones US cattle growers rely upon, such as oestradiol-17, trenbolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol. Zeranol may have more actions than just making mammals fat.

It is a ‘powerful estrogenic chemical, as demonstrated by its ability to stimulate growth and proliferation of human breast tumor cells in vitro at potencies similar to those of the natural hormone estradiol and the known carcinogen diethylstilbestrol,’ says the Breast Cancer Fund.

Translation: it may be linked to US breast cancer rates, too. No wonder Europe doesn't want our beef.”

#3: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Including Pesticides

Many common household chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, a number of which are found in plastic products. These chemicals are similar in structure to natural sex hormones such as estrogen, and can interfere with their normal functions.

Some of the most pervasive examples include bisphenol-A (BPA), PCBs, phthalates, triclosan, agricultural pesticides, and fire retardants.

As Rosenberg notes, endocrine disruptors are not only associated with an elevated risk for infertility, low sperm counts, precocious puberty, diabetes, and other health problems. They’ve also been linked to obesity.

“As early as 2003, the journal Toxicological Sciences8 addressed effects that endocrine disruptors have on fetal development that likely play a role in adult obesity,” Rosenberg writes.

Interestingly, many endocrine disrupting chemicals have been found to promote weight gain specifically at below-toxic levels. As noted by the authors of that paper:

This article presents data showing that the current epidemic in obesity cannot be explained solely by alterations in food intake and/or decrease in exercise.

There is a genetic predisposition component of obesity; however, genetics could not have changed over the past few decades, suggesting that environmental changes might be responsible for at least part of the current obesity epidemic...

Indeed, many synthetic chemicals are actually used to increase weight in animals. This article provides fascinating examples of chemicals that have been tested for toxicity by standard tests that resulted in weight gain in the animals at lower doses than those that caused any obvious toxicity.  These chemicals included heavy metals, solvents, polychlorinated biphenols, organophosphates, phthalates, and bisphenol A. This is an aspect of the data that has generally been overlooked.”

Certain agricultural chemicals, glyphosate in particular, may also affect your weight by obliterating healthy gut bacteria. Recent research has shown that glyphosate causes extreme disruption of microbes’ functions and lifecycles, and preferentially affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow... In the US, the vast majority of the glyphosate you’re consuming comes from genetically engineered (GE) sugar, corn, soy, and conventionally-grown desiccated wheat. Besides altering your gut flora, glyphosate also enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.

#4: Artificial Sweeteners

The business of artificial sweeteners is built on the idea that no- or low-calorie sugar substitutes will help you lose weight. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened “diet” foods and beverages tend to stimulate your appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain. 

Part of the problem is that artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking that it’s going to receive sugar (calories), and when the sugar doesn’t arrive, your body signals that it needs more, which results in carb cravings. This connection between sweet taste and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades.

Artificial sweeteners also produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions9 that promote weight gain. A 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine10 is of particular relevance, as it offers a great historical summary of artificial sweeteners and the epidemiological and experimental evidence showing that artificial sweeteners tends to promote weight gain. It also illustrates that as usage of artificial sweeteners has risen, so has obesity rates. According to the author of the review:

“Intuitively, people choose non-caloric artificial sweeteners over sugar to lose or maintain weight... But do artificial sweeteners actually help reduce weight? Surprisingly, epidemiologic data suggest the contrary. Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain.”

Another study, cited in a recent Democrat & Chronicle article,11 "found that frequent drinkers of diet sodas had waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than non-drinkers of diet soda."

#5: Aggressive Stealth Marketing of Junk Food

Last but not least, there’s the issue of junk food marketing, which is particularly detrimental when aimed at kids. Kids are quite literally being deceived and manipulated into destroying their health potential by junk food companies seeking revenue. There’s really nothing “accidental” about rising childhood obesity rates when you take deceptive marketing into account... Marketing to children has actually turned into a full-blown science. For example, “the nag factor” has been studied to the point that marketers can be advised on what kind of tantrums are most likely to push parents into giving in to their child’s demands! 

The avenues for marketing have also grown exponentially over the past 30 years, thanks to rapidly evolving technological advances. Marketing is no longer restricted to TV and magazine ads. Kids are now exposed to marketing via brand licensing, product placement, schools, stealth marketing, viral marketing, DVDs, games, and the internet. According to a 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM),12 children aged 2-11 now see an average of more than 10 television food ads per day. And nearly all (98 percent) of these are for products that are high in processed, damaged fats, sugar, and/or sodium. Most (79 percent) are low in fiber.13

What we’re seeing is a rise of “360 degree immersive marketing,” designed to turn children into loyal lifelong consumers, and when it comes to processed foods, kids are being brainwashed into believing junk foods will make them healthy and happy. The truth, however, is diametrically opposed to such propaganda...

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter14 recently warned that “obesity is a bigger global health threat than tobacco use.” The American Society of Clinical Oncology15 (ASCO) also recently issued a position statement on obesity and cancer, in which they too state that “obesity is quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer." During this year’s World Health Organization’s annual summit, De Schutter urged nations to join forces to place stricter regulations on unhealthy foods, saying: “Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed.”

The Health Ramifications of Obesity Can Be Lethal

Cheap food leads to high health care costs. Obesity-related illness is predicted to raise national health care costs by $48 billion annually over the next two decades.16 Diseases attributable to obesity17 include but are not limited to the following. Keep in mind that while obesity is associated with metabolic syndrome and the diseases mentioned below, it is not their cause; it is simply a marker. The common link among them is metabolic dysfunction, and excessive sugar/fructose consumption is a primary driver. So even if you don't yet have clinical signs of metabolic dysfunction, the fact that you're gaining excess weight is sign enough.

Type 2 diabetes Cancer (especially breast, endometrial, colon, gallbladder, prostate, and kidney18) Heart disease and enlarged heart Sleep disorders (including sleep apnea) Pulmonary embolism Hypertension Polycystic ovarian syndrome Gastro-esophageal reflux disease Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) Hernia Erectile dysfunction Dementia Urinary incontinence Chronic renal failure Lymph edema Cellulitis Stroke Lipid problems Pickwickian syndrome Depression Osteoarthritis Gout Gallbladder disease Asthma Your Weight Reflects Your Lifestyle Choices

As you can see, a number of factors can contribute to your weight problem. Simply eating fewer calories and exercising more usually doesn’t work very well, and the reason for that is because not all calories are the same. Rather than focusing on calories, you need to address the quality of the foods you eat, and avoid chemical exposures. Many people end up throwing their hands up in disgust when trying to clean up their diet, complaining that once they start to read labels, they realize there’s “nothing safe to eat.” If this sounds like you, you’re probably still looking at processed foods, trying to figure out which ones are “good” for you, and that’s the problem.

The list of ingredients to avoid is just about endless, and keeping track of it can be really discouraging. The answer is to create a list of healthy options instead, which is far shorter and easier to remember. And, when it comes to advertising, keep in mind that whole unadulterated “real foods” are rarely if ever advertised, so if you’re seeing an ad for a food that promises to do you a world of good, it’s probably misleading...

The following short list of just three super-simple, easy-to-remember guidelines will not only improve your nutrition, it will also help you avoid countless chemical exposures that can affect your weight:

  1. Buy whole organic foods, and cook from scratch. First of all, this will automatically reduce your sugar consumption, which is the root cause of insulin resistance and weight gain. If you buy organic produce, you’ll also cut your exposure to pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients, and in ditching processed foods, you’ll automatically avoid artificial sweeteners and harmful processed fats.
  2. Speaking of fats, most people need upwards of 50-85 percent healthy fats in their diet for optimal health. Sources of healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw organic dairy, coconuts and coconut oil, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts and seeds, organic pastured egg yolks, and grass-fed meats. For more detailed dietary advice, please see my free Optimized Nutrition Plan.

  3. Opt for organic grass-fed meats to avoid genetically engineered ingredients, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other growth promoting drugs.
  4. Opt for glass packaging and storage containers to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals.

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