By Dr. Mercola
Depriving your body of sleep can lead to some very serious—and surprising—health effects, including widespread pain, which is a primary feature of fibromyalgia.
According to recent research from Great Britain, poor or insufficient sleep was actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50. Other predictors for widespread pain included anxiety, poor physical health, cognitive problems, and osteoarthritis. Senior author Ross Wilkie told Reuters Health:1
"In older adults, widespread pain, that is pain that affects multiple sites in the body, is common and is associated with morbidity and disability including poor mental health and reduced physical functioning...Non-restorative sleep was the strongest predictor of new onset widespread pain..."
Poor sleep can actually impact virtually every aspect of your health, and the reason for this is because your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) actually "drives" the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level.
Hence disruptions tend to cascade outward throughout your entire body. For example, besides making you more susceptible to physical aches and pains, interrupted or impaired sleep can also:
- Increase your risk of heart disease and cancer
- Harm your brain by halting new neuron production. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), resulting in fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus
- Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can lead to weight gain
- Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training)
- Increase your risk of dying from any cause
There are many reasons for why you might not sleep well through the night or get enough sleep. Among the most common culprits are not getting enough natural sunlight during the day, combined with too much artificial light well into the evening.
Something as simple as keeping your bedroom too warm is another frequent mistake that can lead to tossing and turning. Then there's the issue of being overweight, which increases your risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which I'll discuss more in a moment.
Earlier this year, I interviewed Dan Pardi on the topic of how to get restorative, health-promoting sleep. Pardi is a researcher who works with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford University and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. According to Pardi, the following three factors are key to determining how restorative your sleep is:
- Duration— i.e. the number of hours you sleep. Sleep requirements are highly individual, and can change from one day to the next, depending on factors like stress, physical exertion, illness, and pregnancy, just to name a few. But, on average, most people need about eight hours of sleep per night.
- Timing—i.e. the habit of going to bed at approximately the same time each night. Even if the duration of sleep is the same, when the timing of your sleep is shifted, it's not going to be as restorative.
- Intensity—This has to do with the different stages that your brain and body goes through over the course of the night, the sequence of them, and how those stages are linked.
Some medications will suppress certain phases of sleep, and certain conditions like sleep apnea will lead to fragmented sleep. With these scenarios, even if you're sleeping for an adequate duration and have consistent timing, your sleep will not be as restorative.
One of the easiest ways to gauge whether you've slept enough is to assess your level of sleepiness the next day. For example, if you had the opportunity, would you be able to take a nap? Do you need caffeine to keep you going? Answering yes to these two questions would indicate you need more and/or better sleep.The Importance of Getting Bright Light During the Day
I believe that a MAJOR part of why so many people are sleeping so poorly is linked to modern day living, which keeps you indoors for the greater part of the day, and allows you to spend long evenings in brightly lit rooms. The natural cycle of light and darkness plays a critical role in your waking/sleep cycle, and deviating from this natural rhythm can have serious health ramifications.
Studies have shown that poor lighting in the workplace triggers headaches, stress, fatigue, and strained watery eyes, not to mention inferior work production. Conversely, companies that have switched to full-spectrum lights report improved employee morale, greater productivity, reduced errors, and decreased absenteeism. Some experts even believe that "malillumination" is to light what malnutrition is to food, and spending the larger portion of each day indoors essentially puts you in a state of "light deficiency."
When full-spectrum light enters your eyes, it not only goes to your visual centers enabling you to see, it also goes to your brain's hypothalamus where it affects your entire body. Your hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger and thirst, water balance, and blood pressure. It also controls your body's master gland, the pituitary, which secretes many essential hormones, including those that influence your mood.
Light also serves as the major synchronizer of your "master clock." This master clock is a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). As a group, these nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters your eyes. You also have other biological clocks throughout your body, and those clocks subsequently synchronize to your master clock. In essence, there are two levels of synchronizations taking place within your body in response to sunlight:
- Your master clock synchronizes with the environment
- Your other body clocks synchronize with the master clock
To maintain healthy "master clock" timing, you want to make sure you're getting bright light exposure during the day. Many indoor environments simply aren't intense enough to maintain the needed synchronization. So-called "anchor light" anchors your rhythm, causing it to be less fragile, so that light at night has less of an ability to shift your rhythm. As for how much light exposure you need, Pardi says the first 30-60 minutes of outdoor light exposure creates about 80 percent of the needed anchoring effect.Nighttime Light Exposure Is Also Detrimental for Sleep and Health
Just as your body requires bright-light exposure during the day, it requires pitch-blackness at night to function optimally. When you turn on a light at night, you immediately send your brain misinformation about the light-dark cycle. The only thing your brain interprets light to be is "day." Believing daytime has arrived, your biological clock instructs your pineal gland to immediately cease its production of the hormone melatonin – a significant blow to your health, especially if you're ill, as melatonin produces a number of health benefits in terms of your immune system.
In addition, melatonin helps you fall asleep and bestows a feeling of overall comfort and well-being, and it has proven to have an impressive array of anti-cancer benefits.2 Needless to say, suppressing this essential hormone by excessive light exposure before bedtime is the last thing you want to do if you have trouble sleeping, or struggle with any kind of health problem or illness.Moderate Weight Loss Can Help Prevent Sleep Apnea
Certain health ailments can certainly affect your quality of sleep. Sleep apnea, for example, is a very common problem that can hinder any attempts at getting more restorative sleep. Apnea is a Greek word that means "breathe." Sleep apnea is the inability to breathe properly, or the limitation of breath or breathing, during sleep. There are three general types of apnea described in the literature:
- Central sleep apnea (CSA), which typically relates to your diaphragm and chest wall and an inability to properly pull air in
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which relates to an obstruction of your airway that begins in your nose and ends in your lungs
- Mixed apnea is a combination of both
Obstructive sleep apnea consists of the frequent collapse of the airway during sleep, making it difficult to breathe for periods lasting as long as 10 seconds. Those with a severe form of the disorder have at least 30 disruptions per hour. Not only do these breathing disruptions interfere with sleep, leaving you unusually tired the next day, it also reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can impair the function of internal organs and/or exacerbate other health conditions you may have.
The condition is closely linked to metabolic health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and according to recent research,3 even a modest weight reduction can halt the progression of obstructive sleep apnea. Shedding excess pounds might even cure it, according to this five-year long study. As reported by Medical News Today:4
"The study focused on the effects of weight loss on OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] and demonstrated, for the first time, that a sustained weight loss of just five percent was enough to prevent the disease from worsening and even cure it in a long-term follow-up."You Don't Have to Be Obese to Suffer from Sleep Apnea
While sleep apnea is thought to be primarily associated with obesity, many patients diagnosed with sleep apnea today do not have a weight problem. As it turns out, the shape and size of your mouth, and the positioning of your tongue, can also play a significant role.
According to Dr. Arthur Strauss, a dental physician and a diplomat of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, our mouths have progressively gotten smaller through the generations due to lack of breastfeeding and poor nutrition. Breastfeeding actually helps expand the size of your child's palate and helps move the jaw further forward – two factors that help prevent sleep apnea by creating more room for breathing. Diet is also important. Dr. Weston Price's pioneering work showed how diet can affect your entire mouth, not just your teeth.
If your sleep apnea is related to your tongue or jaw position, specialty trained dentists can design a custom oral appliance to address the issue. These include mandibular repositioning devices, designed to shift your jaw forward, while others help hold your tongue forward without moving your jaw. However, sleep apnea relief may also be found in the form of speech therapy treatment called oral myofunctional therapy, which helps to re-pattern your oral and facial muscles. For more information about this, please see my previous interview with Joy Moeller, who is a leading expert in this form of therapy in the US.Quick Tips for Improving Your Sleep Quality
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for all of the details, but to start, consider implementing the following changes:
- Get some sun in the morning. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night.
- Get at least 30 minutes of BRIGHT sun exposure mid-day. Remember, your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you work indoors, make a point to get outdoors for at least a total of 30-60 minutes during the brightest portion of the day.
- Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it's still daytime. Normally your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 pm, and these devices emit light that may stifle that process.
- Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your biological clock and your pineal gland's melatonin production. This means that even the tiny glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your alarm clock up at night or get rid of it altogether. The ideal light tone for any clock you keep on all night is a reddish amber, certainly not blue or green. The red and amber will interfere least with your melatonin production. I also recommend covering your windows with thick drapes or blackout shades if you can afford them. Alternatively, wear an eye mask while you sleep.
- Install a low-wattage yellow, orange or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius). Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F (15.5 to 20 C). Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.
- Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These can also disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
- Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.
By Dr. Mercola
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to support physical health and well-being. Essential oils carry biologically active volatile compounds of flowers and plants in a highly concentrated form. They are, in many ways, the essence of the plant and can provide therapeutic benefits in very small amounts.
The particles in essential oils, which come from flowers, twigs, leaves, or bark, can be inhaled, prompting various beneficial effects. As noted by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA):1
“It [Aromatherapy] seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.”
There are about as many uses for aromatherapy as there are essential oils, but one of the most exciting areas of research is for anxiety, with research showing essential oils may help relieve symptoms without the side effects of anxiety drugs.Aromatherapy May Help Lessen Anxiety Naturally
For an estimated 40 million US adults, feelings of anxiety may occur even when there’s no real threat, causing unnecessary stress and emotional pain.
Unfortunately, most people who suffer with anxiety either do nothing or resort to pharmaceutical drugs – many of which are ineffective and capable of destroying your health and sanity further. Commonly prescribed drugs include benzodiazepine drugs like Ativan, Xanax, and Valium.
Many of these anti-anxiety drugs exert a calming effect by boosting the action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way as opioids (heroin) and cannabinoids (cannabis) do.
This in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in your brain. Since the identical brain "reward pathways" are used by both types of drugs, they can be equally addictive and also may cause side effects like memory loss, hip fractures, impaired thinking, and dizziness.
Ironically, the symptoms of withdrawal from many of these anxiety medications include extreme states of anxiety – some of which are far worse than the original symptoms that justified treatment in the first place. Clearly a safe, natural alternative for treating anxiety is needed, and aromatherapy may be one such option worth trying. Research shows:
- A systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials examining the anxiolytic (anxiety-inhibiting) effects of aromatherapy among people with anxiety symptoms showed that most of the studies indicated positive effects to quell anxiety (and no adverse events were reported).2
- People exposed to bergamot essential oil aromatherapy prior to surgery had a greater reduction in pre-operative anxiety than those in control groups.3
- Sweet orange oil has been found to have anxiety-inhibiting effects in humans, supporting its common use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists.4
- Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment.5
- Compared to the controls, women who were exposed to orange odor in a dental office had a lower level of anxiety, a more positive mood, and a higher level of calmness. Researchers concluded, “exposure to ambient odor of orange has a relaxant effect.”6
If you’re interested in trying out this natural form of anxiety relief, any of the following essential oils would be a good starting point. These are all popular anxiety-inhibiting oils:7Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)8Rose (Rosa damascena)Orange (Citrus sinensis) Bergamot (Citrus aurantium)Lemon (Citrus limon)9Sandalwood (Santalum album) Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)Rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
There are a number of ways to use aromatherapy. If you have a serious condition, you may want to contact an experienced aromatherapist who can help guide you. Certain essential oils can cause photosensitization (making your skin more sensitive to the sun) or allergic reaction and others should not be used on pregnant women, so it’s important to be familiar with an essential oil before using it. That said, you can try to use essential oils at home via the following methods:10
- Indirect inhalation of essential oils using a room diffuser or placing drops nearby
- Direct inhalation of essential oils using an individual inhaler with drops floated on top of hot water (this is popular for treating sinus headaches)
- Aromatherapy massage, in which essential oils are diluted in a carrier oil and massaged into your skin
- Applying essential oils to your skin by combining them with lotion, bath salts, or dressings
Anxiety, of course, is only one use for aromatherapy. Other potential uses include:
- Green apple scent for migraines: One study found that the scent significantly relieved migraine pain. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy, so consulting with an aromatherapist might be beneficial.
- Peppermint for memory: The aroma of peppermint has been shown to enhance memory and increase alertness.
- Nausea and vomiting: A blend of peppermint, ginger, spearmint, and lavender essential oils has been found to help relieve post-operative nausea.11
- Lavender for pain relief: Lavender aromatherapy has been shown to lessen pain following needle insertion.12
Energy psychology techniques, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), can be very effective by helping you to actually reprogram your body’s reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life. This includes both real and imagined stressors, which can be significant sources of anxiety. EFT is akin to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations. Although not necessary, you can even use EFT along with aromatherapy if you like.
This can be done by yourself or under the supervision of a qualified therapist, either in person or via online video services, like Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. In the following video, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman discusses EFT for stress and anxiety relief. Please keep in mind that while anyone can learn to do EFT at home, self-treatment for serious issues like persistent anxiety is dangerous and NOT recommended.
It is dangerous because it will allow you to falsely conclude that EFT does not work when nothing could be further from the truth. For serious or complex issues, you need someone to guide you through the process, as it typically takes years of training to develop the skill to tap on and relieve deep-seated, significant issues.
If you suffer from anxiety, it would be wise to look into nourishing your gut flora, and the best way to do this is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods, which are naturally rich in beneficial bacteria. Pasteurized versions will NOT have the same benefits, as the pasteurization process destroys many, if not all, of the naturally occurring probiotics. So you will need to seek out traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods like fermented vegetables, or make them yourself. Additionally, your diet should include a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats, like krill oil. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA play an important role in your emotional well-being, and research has shown a dramatic 20 percent reduction in anxiety among med students taking omega-3s.13
In addition to the creation of new neurons, including those that release the calming neurotransmitter GABA, exercise boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress. Many avid exercisers also feel a sense of euphoria after a workout, sometimes known as the “runner’s high.” It can be quite addictive, in a good way, once you experience just how good it feels to get your heart rate up and your body moving.
If you struggle with anxiety, you really can’t go wrong with starting a comprehensive exercise program – virtually any physical activity is likely to have positive effects, especially if it’s challenging enough. That said, Duke University researchers recently published a review of more than 100 studies that found yoga appears to be particularly beneficial for mental health,14 although I also recommend high-intensity interval training like Peak Fitness and resistance training, in addition to flexibility and core-building exercises like yoga or Foundation Training.
By Dr. Mercola
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) was established in 1970 as the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was originally chartered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
As a non-profit, non-governmental organization, the IOM has a theoretically noble goal – to conduct research and provide supposedly unbiased, independent information about health to both the government and the private sector.
As IOM puts it: "The IOM asks and answers the nation's most pressing questions about health and health care."
To date we have seen some useful reports come out of the IOM, such as one review of more than 1,000 vaccine studies that found convincing evidence of 14 health outcomes -- including seizures, inflammation of the brain, and fainting -- that can be caused by certain vaccines.1
In 2011, the IOM admitted, "Vaccines are not free from side effects, or 'adverse effects'" and noted that "for the vast majority [of these effects] the evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship."
This is the type of information that the US desperately needs to prompt further investigations into issues not only involving vaccines but also countless other areas of health and medicine. We need studies that are truly unbiased, that will allow for open, informed discussions about health care and true disease prevention.
Unfortunately, the IOM is getting a new president, cardiologist Victor Dzau, and he comes with a lot of "baggage" – from ties to multiple pharmaceutical companies to serving on the board at PepsiCo. This physician-businessman is likely to flood the IOM with conflicts of interest that may make unbiased IOM reports a thing of the past.Who Is Victor Dzau, the IOM's New President?
Victor Dzau is currently the chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and the CEO of the Duke University Health System. Before that, he served as the chair of the department of medicine and director of research at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic (Medicine) at Harvard Medical School. He was also the chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University.
It's an impressive resume that will only be bolstered by the six-year appointment as president of the IOM, which is set to begin on July 1, 2014… However, don't let his strong academic ties bedazzle you…
In a 2010 Lancet paper, Dzau says his vision for global "health science" is driven by a "public-private financial partnership" between academic institutions and governments.2 Unfortunately, large U.S. universities – who have long maintained close ties with Big Pharma – are now increasingly creating very lucrative "public-private partnerships" with government, which creates a major conflict of interest.
Already, Dzau's work at Duke University has a long history of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which accepts a great deal of money from Big Pharma and is deeply enmeshed with the industry, as well as vaccine development research. For instance:
- In July 2005, the Duke Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology was opened with a $300-million, 7-year-funding commitment from NIH3
- In 2006, a top-level secure biocontainment lab was opened at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, which is developing HIV, TB, influenza, and Dengue vaccines4 (the Duke Human Vaccine Institute was also started with NIH money5)
- In 2012, Duke got another $139 million from NIH to develop an HIV vaccine6
- In 2012, Dzau also delivered an "order" to Duke University students to get the flu shot7
In 2010, a group of Duke students protested the hefty compensation being given to some Duke officials, Dzau included. He received more than $2.2 million in total compensation from Duke in 2009, an amount some felt was excessive especially when financial difficulties were being reported at the University. However, that figure is nothing compared to the compensation Dzau is receiving from his corporate connections outside of Duke. As reported by Forbes,8 Dzau served on several corporate boards in 2009, including:
- Alnylam Pharmaceuticals: Dzau received more than $234,000 in compensation in 2009, along with owning more than $424,000 worth of company shares
- Genzyme (a biotechnology company now owned by Sanofi): Dzau received nearly $413,000 in compensation plus owned shares worth more than $5.3 million
- Medtronic (a medical devices company): Dzau received nearly $174,000 in compensation plus owned shares worth nearly $494,000
- PepsiCo: Dzau received $260,000 in compensation and owned shares worth more than $1.6 million
In case you lost count, this amounts to more than $1 million in compensation from serving as a director for these companies, in addition to stock valued at more than $7.8 million… and that's in addition to the $2.2 million from Duke. And, remember, these are 2009 figures. Today, it's estimated that Dzau owns:9
- 90,000 shares of stock in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, worth more than $8 million
- More than 25,000 shares of Medtronic stock, worth more than $1.4 million
- More than 36,000 shares of PepsiCo stock, worth more than $2.8 million
The issue here, of course, isn't how much money Dzau has… it's how a person with such extensive corporate board memberships can realistically uphold the IOM promise of providing unbiased health information. As reported by Health Care Renewal:
"Even though Dr. Dzau will apparently exit his board memberships before he becomes IOM President, the IOM has been providing such analysis and recommendations under the supervision of a Council member who had fiduciary duties to the stockholders of two pharmaceutical companies, a medical device company, and a company that makes sugar-laden soft drinks and snack foods. It will continue to provide such analysis and recommendations under the supervision of a President who became a multimillionaire by virtue of the stock holdings he acquired through his board positions."Dr. Paul Offit Was Elected to the IOM in 2011
And Dzau isn't the only IOM official with a questionable background… Dr. Offit, who became an IOM member in 2011, has similarly concerning conflicts of interest to Dzau. Dr. Offit received a reported $350,000 grant from Merck to develop a rotavirus vaccine, and has served on the scientific advisory board for Merck. He received another estimated $6 million when Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) sold the patent for the RotaTeq vaccine he developed. He was also on the CDC advisory board that approved the addition of a rotavirus vaccine to the US National Immunization Program (NIP) in 1998—a decision that paid off handsomely.
The original rotavirus vaccine added to the NIP, which was made by a competitor, was pulled from the market due to adverse effects. The RotaTeq vaccine replaced it, and he continues to receive royalty payments from the sale of RotaTeq to this day. (According to Wired Magazine,10 Merck's revenue from RotaTeq was $665 million in 2008 alone, of which Offit and his RotaTeq co-creators are said to receive a percentage.)
In 2005, Merck, CHOP, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine announced the creation of the Maurice R. Hilleman Chair in Vaccinology. The chair, paid for by Merck, went to Dr. Offit, who still holds it to this day. In addition to his faculty salary at CHOP, he gets another $90,000 a year from this Merck-endowed chair. Offit has been severely criticized for his blatant conflicts of interest in the past and is also notorious for his claim that infants can tolerate 10,000 vaccines at once.
Last year, he was also a primary figurehead behind a flurry of media reports that told readers to beware, if not outright be afraid, of taking supplements.
Unfortunately, the revolving doors between academia, government, and industry have effectively led to a situation where it's now extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trust conventional health advice from the federal government — including that supported by non-profits like IOM, which is supposed to be independent -- due to this massive collusion.The Fix Is In: You've Got to Look Out for Your Own Health
Unfortunately today, even organizations that appear to be an independent "trusted" source for health information are typically very much intertwined with and beholden to industry, including Big Pharma and junk-food giants, and their health recommendations reflect this.
For instance, NIH's Web site, NIH.gov, is the most visited health content site online, but NIH is deeply enmeshed with the pharmaceutical industry. The second most-visited site, WebMD, is also not the independent informational site many believe it to be. They rely heavily on advertising dollars from the drug industry in order to keep afloat, and at one point were featuring a screening test for depression, sponsored by drug maker Eli Lilly, that would tell you that you were at risk for the condition even if you checked "no" to every symptom in the test.
This is precisely the reason why I've instead committed to selling a limited number of well-researched and independently tested products that I personally believe in, in order to remain independent and unbiased -- free from the spoken or unspoken demands of advertisers. And now, as the fourth most-visited health content site, and the number one most-visited natural health site, Mercola.com remains one of the only truly independent informational sources on the Web.
When it comes to your health, you simply cannot accept claims at their face value... You've got to dig below the surface and use all the resources available to you, including your own common sense and reason, true independent experts' advice, and other's experiences, to determine what medical treatment or advice will be best for you in any given situation.
By Dr. Mercola
Good oral hygiene is even more important than previously thought. Pathogenic microorganisms and their toxins can harm more than just your mouth when they circulate through your bloodstream—they can potentially cause secondary infections and chronic inflammation throughout your body.
The fact that oral pathogens can make their way to distant parts of your anatomy and cause serious problems has been known for many years.
Even dentists would agree that bacteria can pass from your gums into your bloodstream and on to your heart, which is why some still prescribe oral antibiotics to a few select patients with a particularly high risk for endocarditis, particularly if they have gingivitis.1
But it appears that the rare case of endocarditis is only the tip of the iceberg. Several studies now show that these oral pathogens—viruses as well as bacteria—may be linked to certain cancers, making it even more important to do take every step possible to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy.Poor Oral Health Is a Risk Factor for Oropharyngeal Cancers
The human papillomavirus (HPV),2 some strains of which are associated with cervical cancer if left untreated for long periods of time, has similarly been linked to vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the throat, tonsils, and base of tongue).
Hence the ridiculous recommendation to vaccinate boys with the notorious HPV vaccine, Gardasil, which is riddled with dangerous side effects and other problems. A new study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research reports:3
"Poor oral health, which includes dental problems and gum disease, is an independent risk factor for oral HPV infection, and by extension, could also contribute to oral cancers."
In this study, participants with poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of HPV infection than those with healthy mouths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV,4 but according to the latest study, it could be as high as 80 percent.
The researchers speculate that good oral hygiene could help prevent HPV infection, thereby lowing your risk for oropharyngeal and other cancers. Human papillomavirus is actually a group of more than 100 viruses. Of those 100, about 40 are sexually transmitted, and 15 of those are the types most often associated with cervical cancers and genital warts.5
It is important to note that more than 90 percent of women infected with HPV clear the infection naturally within two years, at which point their cervical cells return to normal. It is only when the HPV virus lingers for many years (that is, becomes chronic) that abnormal cervical cells could turn into cancer.
This is why regularly scheduled PAP smears prevent cervical cancer deaths far more effectively than the HPV vaccine ever will, because they allow a sufficient amount of time to find and treat any cervical abnormalities.Viruses Cause 15 to 20 Percent of All Cancers
It is interesting to note that HPV isn't the only virus linked to cancer—in fact, it is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of all cancers are caused by viruses!6 Many viruses trigger cancer by suppressing your immune system and/or altering your genes. The following viruses are known to play a major role in certain types of cancer:7
- EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) increases your risk for nasopharyngeal cancer, certain lymphomas and stomach cancer
- Hepatitis B and C are linked to liver cancer
- HIV is associated with invasive cervical cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer, liver cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, skin cancer and Kaposi's sarcoma; Herpes virus 8 is also thought to be involved with almost all cases of Kaposi's sarcoma
There is one bacterium that has been causing a great deal of trouble with people's health: Fusobacterium nucleatum, a spindle-shaped anaerobic bacterium commonly found in dental plaque. F. nucleatum is abundant in your mouth and able to coaggregate with other species.8 Three recent studies have linked F. nucleatum with serious health problems:
- Case Western Reserve University researchers found that some malignant colorectal tumors are caused by F. nucleatum9
- Harvard researchers also established a link between F. nucleatum and the initiation of colorectal tumors10
- A study in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that oral F. nucleatum can lead to intrauterine infection and even stillbirth11
The first two studies establish an actual causal link between this bacteria and colorectal cancer. The bacteria trigger inflammation and also activate the cancer growth genes and the signals required for angiogenesis to occur (a tumor's blood supply). Normally, F. nucleatum is not prevalent in your gut, but if your microbial balance is off—which can happen in your mouth, as well as in your gut—then it's able to invade and colonize. F. nucleatum has been found in gut mucosal biopsies that show inflammation and in biopsies of colorectal tumors.12
The third study discusses an unusual case of a mother losing her baby to stillbirth due to an intrauterine infection, directly resulting from gingivitis. The bacteria moved from her mouth to her uterus because her immune system was weakened by a respiratory infection. Other studies have shown these bacteria to cause stillbirths in mice, but this was the first documented human case.13
All of these studies unequivocally show that bacterial imbalances and dysbiosis can contribute to inflammation in your body and activate cancer genes. Therefore, the bacteria in your mouth deserve as much care and attention as the ones in your gut. Not surprisingly, they're interrelated, and as you improve your gut flora, the flora in your mouth improves accordingly. I experienced this myself. When I started consuming fermented vegetables, it only took a few months before I was able to reduce the frequency of my visits to my dental hygienist for a persistent plaque problem.Another Danger: A Mouthful of Mercury
Besides oral hygiene, which I'll be discussing shortly, there are two other dental-related concerns you may need to address: mercury amalgams and fluoride. The average American has eight mercury amalgams (fillings), falsely described as "silver" fillings. This misleading label has been purposely used to keep you in the dark about the exact composition of the fillings, which are actually about 50 percent mercury. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can poison your brain, central nervous system and kidneys. Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are most at risk—but anyone can be adversely impacted.
Mercury is such a potent toxin that just one drop in a lake would poison the lake to the extent that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would ban fishing in it. Yet, they claim that carrying around a mouthful of mercury fillings has no harmful effects. If you have mercury amalgams, it would be advisable to consult a holistic, mercury-free dentist.Steer Clear of Fluoride in Any Form
If you are using fluoridated toothpaste, you may want to consider tossing it out and replacing it it with a safe one. In the mornings, you could use toothpaste containing calcium and phosphate salts, or even hydroxyapatite, which can help remineralize your teeth. Baking soda will help promote beneficial bacteria in your mouth by neutralizing the acid that pathogenic bacteria thrive in. I use an oral irrigator with baking soda twice a day and follow with coconut oil pulling for 20 minutes.
Fluoride is of little or no benefit to your teeth and poses serious health risks, including immune dysfunction, endocrine disruption, increased risk of fractures, arthritis, infertility, and many more.
Toothpaste isn't the only source of fluoride—it is present in growing numbers of non-organic foods from pesticide residue (including iceberg lettuce). And fluoride continues to be added to many municipal water supplies in the United States. Water fluoridation has come under increasing scrutiny as health concerns, lack of efficacy in preventing tooth decay and ethical issues of administering chemicals via the water supply have surfaced. For more information on fluoride, please watch the presentation by Michael Connett, an attorney with the Fluoride Action Network in this previous article.Four Strategies for Improving Your Oral Health
The latest research uncovering the connection between the microorganisms in your mouth and cancer make it extraordinarily clear that oral hygiene is a necessary prerequisite if you want to be healthy. Major problems can result from the overgrowth of opportunistic oral pathogens, including oropharyngeal cancers, colorectal cancer, and if you're an expectant mother, even the tragedy of stillbirth. In addition to avoiding fluoride and mercury fillings, my top four recommendations for optimizing your oral health are as follows:
- Consume a traditional diet: fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-pastured meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy; nuts and seeds; minimal consumption of sugar and processed food
- Add in some naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee, yogurt, kefir
- Proper brushing and flossing
- Oil pulling
A traditional diet will help balance both your oral and gastrointestinal flora, but it may not be enough to guarantee perfect oral health. I've struggled with plaque for years, and it wasn't until I added fermented foods and oil pulling that I began to make progress with the problem. The addition of fermented foods decreased my plaque by 50 percent and made it much softer, and the oil pulling has improved it further.Oil Pulling Is Like Giving Your Teeth an 'Oil Change'
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice dating back thousands of years. When it harnesses the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, you have one very powerful tool! The high lauric content of coconut oil makes it a strong inhibitor of a wide range of pathogenic organisms, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa. Researchers in Ireland found that coconut oil treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion, strongly inhibits Streptococcus bacteria, which are common oral residents that can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and gum disease.
Oil pulling can lessen your toxic load by pulling out pathogens and preventing their spread to other areas of your body. When done correctly, oil pulling has a significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing effect. Oil pullers have reported rapid relief from systemic health problems such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but it has a relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils. Therefore, I believe coconut oil is far superior, and to me it tastes better. But from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, both oils likely work.
Oil pulling is simple. Basically, it involves rinsing your mouth with about a tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. The oil is "worked" around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of about 15 minutes. If you are obsessive like me, you can go for 30-45 minutes. This process allows the oil to neutralize and "pull out" bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris. After working the oil around for 15 minutes, spit it out and rinse your mouth with water. Do NOT swallow the oil as it's loaded with bacteria and toxins. Naturopathic physician and coconut oil expert Bruce Fife compares the benefits of oil pulling to changing the oil in your car:14
"It acts much like the oil you put in your car engine. The oil picks up dirt and grime. When you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean. Consequently, the engine runs smoother and lasts longer. Likewise, when we expel harmful substances from our bodies our health is improved and we run smoother and last longer."Your Diet Is Key to Reducing Chronic Inflammation
The running thread linking a wide variety of common health problems, including cancer, is chronic inflammation in your body – regardless of whether it originates in your mouth or not. Clearly, addressing your oral health is an important step, but it really all starts with your diet.
Your diet can make or break your teeth, as it were, and has a profound effect on your overall level of inflammation. Therefore, to optimize your health and prevent many of the diseases listed above, you'll want to evaluate your lifestyle to ensure you're doing everything you can to prevent chronic inflammation from occurring. To reduce or prevent inflammation in your body, you'll want to avoid the following dietary culprits:
- Sugar/fructose and grains
- Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
- Foods cooked at high temperatures
- Trans fats
Beyond that, brushing with baking soda and using oil pulling can help address the bacterial balance in your mouth. The most important factor, however, is to regularly reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria, i.e. probiotics. Fermented vegetables and other traditionally fermented foods are an ideal source, but if you don't eat fermented foods, then a high-quality probiotic is certainly recommended.
By Dr. Mercola
Ingesting fluoride – a toxic fertilizer-industry byproduct – in drinking water for the sake of preventing tooth decay is an outdated, dangerous practice that is damaging human health and the environment.
The research on this is very clear, and although the US government has been slow to acknowledge it, other nations are ending this tragic "public health" measure.
Quite simply, the truth is out about fluoride, and the more people become informed, the less tolerance they have for this toxic drug-like substance to remain in their drinking water.
This is precisely the case in Europe, where 98 percent of countries have rejected water fluoridation either by removing it from their water supplies or never adding it to begin with.
Except for Ireland. Ireland is the only country in Europe that has mandatory fluoridation – a practice that hopefully won't be long for this world, thanks to the efforts of nutritionist Aisling FitzGibbon, better known as "The Girl Against Fluoride."The Girl Against Fluoride Takes on Ireland's High Court
FitzGibbon is in the process of taking a High Court legal action against the Irish government in an effort to end the country's mandatory water fluoridation. The campaign was started after her own recovery from depression, which she attributes to drinking fluoride-free water.
Court case proceedings began in January 2014, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing a Supreme Court ruling in 1963 that mandated water fluoridation in Ireland. As FitzGibbon said, they are "fighting for our democratic right to clean water."1
Last year, three town councils in Ireland said they backed an end to water fluoridation but so far the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health has rejected anti-fluoridation arguments. In Bantry, Ireland, for instance, town councilors voted unanimously for an immediate end to fluoridation throughout Ireland.
Now, in an open letter to Irish Water, FitzGibbon has stated the agency and its board members will be held accountable for personal injury caused by the consumption of excess fluoride in drinking water.
She also pointed out that they have a "legal duty" to warn consumers about fluoride's toxic effects and said customers will refuse to make contracts with Irish Water, while current customers will withhold payment for artificially fluoridated water. According to the letter:2
"Irish Water has now been informed of the imminent actions of an ever-increasing and already large number of people who are gravely concerned about the dangers to human health caused by the over-consumption of fluoride [adding that they] are no longer prepared to tolerate being forced to consume it by a nanny state."Mandatory Water Fluoridation Is Fading Fast
Ireland's hold-out for fluoridation is meeting increasing opposition not only within Ireland but around the globe. Over the past five years, a literal avalanche of Queensland, Australia communities has stopped fluoridating their water supplies. There are now 15 regional councils in Queensland that are either stopping fluoridation or refusing to start. That affects about 50 different townships.
That, of course, has encouraged people not only in Queensland but also those throughout Australia. In New Zealand, several communities have also stopped fluoridation over the last few years. The most recent was Hamilton, which is the second largest city in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in Israel also announced it will lift the mandatory requirement for fluoridation in 2014.
This leaves only Ireland and Singapore as the last two remaining countries with this mandatory practice. But with the rest of the world quickly ending mandatory water fluoridation and Fluoride Girl's increasingly popular, and vocal, campaign, it will be interesting to see how much longer they hold out.
As Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) reported, it very much seems like the Irish government is going to have a difficult time holding on to mandatory fluoridation for much longer:3
"Knowing that Ireland is the only country in Europe which has mandatory fluoridation, those promoting this outdated practice must have been disturbed to hear the news from Queensland that the new government there has dropped mandatory statewide fluoridation and there has been a stampede by many communities to end fluoridation or not start it, even though in one case the equipment was already installed.
…Even better from our perspective was when the Minister of Health in Israel announced that fluoridation would no longer be mandatory there in 2014. This sets a wonderful precedent for Ireland to follow… It was particularly satisfying… when John Gormley, former mayor of Dublin and former Minister of the Environment, finally released his report (while serving on the Parliamentary committee for Health and Children) in which he recommended that fluoridation be halted in Ireland.
…Finally, there is the good news from nearby unfluoridated Scotland where the government has reported very positive results in their low-cost educational program to fight tooth decay. So fluoridation promoters in Ireland cannot argue that if fluoridation is halted it will result in chaos. Scotland has shown there is a better, safer, and more rational way of fighting tooth decay without forcing it on people who don't want this treatment via the public water supply."The Low-Down About Fluoride: It's Toxic and It Doesn't Work
Once touted as the magical solution to dental caries, fluoride's benefit for your teeth – IF there is any, which is still debatable – comes with overshadowing downsides. No matter which scientific studies you examine, or which population trends you view, the only rational conclusion is that fluoride's health dangers far outweigh the marginal dental benefits it might offer (and those minimal benefits come from topical exposure, not systemic). The science is very clear about the following:
- Fluoride is a toxic industrial waste product that is poisonous to your body and in no way a "nutrient," offering no benefits at all to the human body. The fluoride added to water supplies can be contaminated with lead, arsenic, radionucleotides, aluminum, and other industrial contaminants. Additionally, the fluoride added to municipal water supplies is not pharmaceutical grade.
- Fluoride exposure comes from tap water, most toothpaste and pesticide and fertilizer residues on food. There is a large variation in exposure levels, making it impossible to accurately predict these variables for any person, family or community.
- Fluoride exposure for many can easily reach toxic levels. For example, poison control should be called if you swallow a quarter milligram of fluoride from toothpaste. Meanwhile, just ONE glass of water can contain this amount of fluoride.
- Fluoride is a cumulative poison that has been proven to cause wide-ranging, serious health problems, such as damage to your bones, brain, and endocrine system and conditions such as lowered IQ, thyroid dysfunction, and more.
- Dental caries can be prevented with means other than fluoridation, thereby avoiding the adverse effects of fluoride.
As FitzGibbon puts it:4
"Fluoride easily displaces iodine in the body, a lack of which shuts down production of thyroxine and can lead to hypothyroidism causing dry and premature aged skin, a lowered body temperature and a slower metabolism. Fluoride is known to be a risk factor in the development of many serious health problems that are prevalent in Ireland [and elsewhere] today.
These include cardiovascular and neurological disease, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, skeletal fluorosis, chronic fatigue and depression. The HSE [Ireland's Health Services] claim that the fluoride is added to water for dental health; however we have the worst teeth in Europe despite us being the only county to be fully fluoridated."
There's even more to the story than this, however. Water fluoridation came about as the result of a massively successful PR campaign, and was reportedly first suggested as a way to protect aluminum and steel producers from lawsuits against the fluorine pollution coming from their plants. If you want to know more, watch Dr. David Kennedy's documentary film Fluoridegate — An American Tragedy, which exposes the sordid truth about water fluoridation (and as you'll see, it has nothing to do with promoting dental health).It's Possible to Remove Fluoride from Your Water
If you live in an area with fluoridated water, you can purchase a water filter that removes fluoride. The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, "activated carbon" filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.
You can get more information from FAN on fluoride and water filters here. However, you really shouldn't have to filter your water to remove this contaminant that shouldn't be there in the first place. That's why we are working closely with FAN to get fluoride out of drinking water on a larger scale.Join the Fight to Get Fluoride Out of Drinking Water
There's no doubt about it: fluoride should not be ingested. Even scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity." Furthermore, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis—unattractive discoloration and mottling of the teeth that indicate overexposure to fluoride. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why?
At least when it comes to topical application, you have a choice. You can easily buy fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash. But you're stuck with whatever your community puts in the water, and it's very difficult to filter out of your water once it's added. Many do not have the resources or the knowledge to do so.
The only real solution is to stop the archaic practice of water fluoridation in the first place. Fortunately, the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the US and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs, and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today.
You can also get involved with "The Girl Against Fluoride's" campaign to end water fluoridation in Ireland. In order to bring a successful legal challenge against the Irish government, funding is required to pay to fly in expert witnesses from around the world to give testimony. You can donate toward this cause here. She is also seeking signatures for a petition to end fluoridation of Irish drinking water. You can sign the petition now to take part in this historic movement.
By Dr. Mercola
You may be aware that bees are dying in large numbers across the globe, courtesy of the ever-increasing presence of toxins in our environment. But did you know that the monarch butterfly is also becoming endangered, and for the same reason?
As reported by the New York Times:1
"Hoping to focus attention on the plight of the monarch butterfly at a North American summit meeting... a group of prominent scientists and writers urged the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada to commit to restoring the habitat that supports the insect's extraordinary migration across the continent.
Calling the situation facing the butterfly 'grim,' the group issued a letter that outlined a proposal to plant milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's only food source, along its migratory route in Canada and the United States."Immediate Action Needed to Save the Monarch Butterfly
One of the major reasons for the dramatically diminishing numbers of monarch butterflies is that so many of the milkweed plants typically present in fields have been eliminated as farmers have switched over to planting genetically engineered corn and soy. (Land areas used to grow corn in the US have expanded by about 25 percent since 2007.)
The proposal calls for planting milkweed all along the migratory path through the US; between fields, in ditches, along roadsides, and in public areas, to ensure sufficient food for the monarchs, and a place to lay their eggs. The group also recommends subsidizing farmers who do not use herbicides on their land.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is also petitioning the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement tougher rules for the weed killer glyphosate, and to do so sooner rather than later.
The agency is scheduled to complete a review of glyphosate rules next year, but the NRDC is asking the EPA to take immediate action, given the rapid decline of the monarchs. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:2
"The petition asks the EPA to consider preventing the use of glyphosate and other weed killers along highways and utility rights of way where milkweed could grow freely without interfering with maintenance or emergency crews.
It also asks that farmers be required to establish herbicide-free safety zones in or around their fields, and urges the EPA to ensure that any new safeguards on glyphosate don't lead simply to more use of other weed killers that would be equally bad for monarchs and may pose health risks."The Plight of the Monarchs
A recent article in the World Post,3 written by Mexican environmental activist Homero Aridjis, sheds further light on just how dire the situation is. Having spent every childhood winter in Contepec, Michoacan admiring the arriving flocks of monarchs, he has personally noticed the dramatic decline in the gorgeous orange and black butterflies.
In 1986, Aridjis petitioned the Mexican President to protect monarch habitats, which resulted in the creation of the Monarch Butterfly Special Biosphere Reserve. In 2000, the reserve was enlarged, and additional protection was added for other butterfly colonies as well. Mexico has also set limitations on logging in and around the butterfly reserve, to help preserve the butterfly population. Alas, such measures are not enough.
As Aridjis notes, excessive use of toxic agricultural chemicals across America's Corn Belt plays an absolutely critical role in the declining numbers of these beautiful creatures, as each year the butterflies migrate through this area of the US.
Milkweed,4 a perennial plant that used to be common across American prairies, is the only plant on which the adult monarch will lay its eggs. Once the larvae hatches, the caterpillar will eat the plant. Without milkweed along its migratory path, the monarch cannot reproduce. Aridjis writes:5
"I was born in 1940 and grew up with (and wrote about) the monarchs, but it was only in 1975 that their overwintering forests in central Mexico's Transvolcanic Belt were 'discovered' by Canadian scientists.
On Jan. 29, news was released of a dramatic plunge in the monarch butterfly population that overwinters in Mexico after flying thousands of miles south from the northern and eastern United States and southern Canada.
This season's population, calculated by measuring the area of occupied trees, covers a tiny 0.67 hectares -- the smallest ever since these measurements began 20 years ago -- and a huge drop from the 1996 high of 21 hectares. The population has plummeted from an estimated 1 billion in 1996 to 33 million this year, scattered over seven sites. There have been no monarchs in Contepec for years."
Monarch Decline and Changes in U.S. Agriculture Figures from EH Williams Feb 7. 2014. Decline in monarch overwintering area compared to rise in US acreage planted in corn and rise is usage of glyphosate herbicide. To compare these on a similar scale, the monarch hectares have been multiplied by 5, and the glyphosate usage has been divided by 2 data sources: www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/, www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/agricultural-baseline-database/Glyphosate Destroys More Than Just Monarch Breeding Grounds
The environmental destruction caused by glyphosate certainly does not end with the eradication of milkweed, which are critical for monarch breeding and feeding. This chemical, the toxicity of which has been vastly underestimated since its introduction into agriculture, absolutely devastates the soil microbiome. Killing microorganisms is in fact one of glyphosate's primary mechanisms of action, as it is patented as an antibiotic. Glyphosate is also a potent chelator that sequesters valuable minerals, rendering them inaccessible and unusable for the plant. It ties up minerals like manganese, zinc, and iron, which are essential for the plant's immune system and growth.
These minerals are also important for human health. Another problem, which applies to both genetically engineered (GE) and conventional hybridized plants, is that when a plant is altered it may lose its ability to emit the correct signals to warn its neighbors about impending attacks. Hence, they become more vulnerable to infestations.
Then there's the issue of rapid resistance developing among weeds... In some areas, highly invasive and crop-destroying superweeds are taking over valuable farm land. This was yet another possibility that was initially pooh-pooh'd by Monsanto. Industry assurances aside, glyphosate resistance has now become an undisputable fact.
But rather than acknowledging its role in creating the problem, Monsanto and other chemical producers have simply started working on herbicide formulations that are even MORE toxic, and developing new crops that are resistant to a different set of chemicals, including 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), which is one of the primary ingredients in Agent Orange!How Glyphosate Affects Your Health
Just as glyphosate decimates soil bacteria that are critical for plant health and nutrient uptake, the chemical also destroys the microbiome found in the gut of animals and humans. This effect appears to be the missing link that explains the detrimental health effects associated with genetically engineered foods. Recent research even suggests that glyphosate may be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies. This includes but is not limited to:Autism Gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis, and Crohn's disease Obesity Allergies Cardiovascular disease Depression Cancer Infertility Alzheimer's disease Parkinson's disease Multiple sclerosis ALS and more
The impact of gut bacteria on your health is becoming widely known. And here, we see how your gut bacteria once again play a crucial role in explaining why and how glyphosate causes health problems in both animals and humans. According to this revealing study, published in the journal Entropy6 last year:
"Glyphosate's claimed mechanism of action in plants is the disruption of the shikimate pathway, which is involved with the synthesis of the essential aromatic amino acids, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. The currently accepted dogma is that glyphosate is not harmful to humans or to any mammals because the shikimate pathway is absent in all animals.
However, this pathway is present in gut bacteria, which play an important and heretofore largely overlooked role in human physiology through an integrated biosemiotic relationship with the human host. In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiota synthesize vitamins, detoxify xenobiotics, and participitate in immune system homeostasis and gastrointestinal tract permeability. Furthermore, dietary factors modulate the microbial composition of the gut."Time to Choose Between Monsanto and Monarchs
The Center for Food Safety has created a petition urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and President Obama to protect the monarchs' breeding habitat by halting the approval of Monsanto Roundup Ready™ and other glyphosate-resistant and pesticide-promoting genetically engineered crops. Please take a moment to sign the petition right now.
You can also make a difference by planting milkweed in your own garden to make up for the loss of milkweed caused by the sprawl of urban development.Ending Glyphosate Use Is Critical for All Life on Planet Earth
Besides protecting the monarch butterfly, there are many other reasons to insist on the removal of glyphosate from agricultural use. The documented harmful effects of glyphosate extend not just to critical pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, but also to soil, plant, animal, and human health. It's becoming increasingly clear that Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup is doing FAR more harm than anyone ever expected, and it's time to put on the brakes before it's too late.
On numerous occasions, I've stated that the differences between industrial farming and organic farming, using time-tested all-natural methods, are so vast that the foods produced by the former cannot be equated to the foods produced by the latter. Use of genetically engineered plants only deepens the many problems associated with conventional, chemical-heavy farming. The environmental effects are also 180 degrees opposed, as industrial farming contributes to every form of environmental devastation, while organic farming methods restore the environment and invigorate and support the ecosystem—of which humans are an integral part, I might add.
Many equate modern techniques with "progress," when in fact most of our technological advancements are now threatening to destroy us right along with the planet as a whole... Think about this: nearly one BILLION pounds of Roundup is used each year for conventional crop production. Knowing what we now know about the toxicity of glyphosate (as well as glyphosate-based formulations that can be even more toxic than glyphosate alone), it's quite clear we're well on our way toward disaster.
Genetically engineered (GE) crops are typically the most heavily sprayed, as so-called Roundup Ready crops are designed to withstand otherwise lethal doses of this chemical. The contamination issue is yet another valid reason for avoiding conventionally-grown foods in general, and genetically engineered (GE) foods in particular. And since genetically engineered foods tend to contain far higher levels of contamination, it's also another reason for labeling foods that contain GE ingredients.
By Dr. Mercola
Stroke, which is akin to a heart attack in your brain, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.1 Obstructed blood flow to your brain is known as an ischemic stroke, which represent about 75 percent of all strokes. When an artery that feeds your brain with blood actually ruptures, it's called a hemorrhagic stroke, and this is a far more lethal situation.
Fortunately, up to 80 percent of all strokes are preventable through lifestyle factors2 such as diet, exercise,3, 4 maintaining a healthy weight, normalizing your blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and quitting smoking.
For example, research published last year5 found that if you're inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.
Recent studies also highlight the importance of getting sufficient amounts of vitamin C and iron in your diet. Interestingly, certain weather conditions have also been linked to increased rates of stroke, and getting appropriate amounts of sun exposure can help protect against it, in more ways than one.Getting Enough Vitamin C May Help Reduce Risk of Hemorrhagic Stroke
The first featured article6 reports the preliminary findings of a French study, which found that those with vitamin C deficiency are at an increased risk for a lethal hemorrhagic stroke. According to the article:
"Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in our study," study researcher Dr. Stéphane Vannier, M.D., of Pontchaillou University Hospital in France, said in a statement.
"'More research is needed to explore specifically how vitamin C may help to reduce stroke risk. For example, the vitamin may regulate blood pressure.'" ...[P]ast studies have also linked vitamin C with reduced stroke risk.
A 2008 University of Cambridge study found people with high blood levels of vitamin C reduced their stroke risk by 42 percent, and a similar 1995 study in the British Medical Journal indicated elderly people with low levels of the vitamin had a greater risk of stroke."What's the Best Way to Optimize Your Vitamin C?
The ideal way to optimize your vitamin C stores is by eating a wide variety of fresh whole foods. A number of people, primarily with the naturopathic perspective, believe that in order to be truly effective, ascorbic acid alone is not enough.
They believe the combination of the ascorbic acid with its associated micronutrients, such as bioflavonoids and other components. Eating a colorful diet (i.e. plenty of vegetables) helps ensure you're naturally getting the phytonutrient synergism needed.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you're getting enough vegetables in your diet is by juicing them. For more information, please see my juicing page. You can also squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice into some water for a vitamin C rich beverage.
In some cases, it may still be wise to take supplemental vitamin C. The latest version of oral vitamin C supplementation is liposomal vitamin C, which I was introduced to by Dr. Thomas Levy, who is clearly one of the leaders in this area.
Liposomal vitamin C bypasses many of the complications of traditional vitamin C or ascorbic acid (such as gastrointestinal distress), thereby allowing you to achieve far higher intracellular concentrations.
There are also other forms of vitamin C on the market, such as buffered forms of sodium ascorbate. One example would be Ester-C. These buffered forms are also effective and do not cause the gastrointestinal distress associated with conventional ascorbic acid.
When taking an oral vitamin C, you also want to be mindful of your dosing frequency. Dr. Steve Hickey, who wrote the book Ascorbate, has shown that if you take vitamin C frequently throughout the day, you can achieve much higher plasma levels.
So even though your kidneys will tend to rapidly excrete the vitamin C, by taking it every hour or two, you can maintain a much higher plasma level than if you just dose it once a day (unless you're taking an extended release form of vitamin C).Iron Deficiency Can Raise Stroke Risk in Certain Individuals
Recent research also suggests that iron deficiency can increase your risk of ischemic stroke if you have hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, a hereditary disease that causes enlarged blood vessels in your lungs. Iron deficiency increases the stickiness of your blood, which increases your risk of blood clots, and in those with this genetic abnormality, such clots can travel through your lungs and into your brain.
According to the study in question, published in the journal PLOS One,7 even having moderately low iron levels can double your stroke risk if you have this condition. According to the researchers, other health conditions may also permit blood clots to bypass the filtration system of your lungs. Study author Dr. Claire Shovlin stated that:
"The next step is to test whether we can reduce high-risk patients' chances of having a stroke by treating their iron deficiency. We will be able to look at whether their platelets become less sticky. There are many additional steps from a clot blocking a blood vessel to the final stroke developing, so it is still unclear just how important sticky platelets are to the overall process. We would certainly encourage more studies to investigate this link."Sun Exposure Also Plays Multiple Roles in Stroke Prevention
Another nutrient that is very important for stroke prevention is vitamin D. According to research presented at the American Heart Association's (AHA) Annual Scientific Sessions in 2010,8 low levels of vitamin D—the essential nutrient obtained from sun exposure—doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians.
While many opt for vitamin D3 supplements to raise their vitamin D level, I strongly recommend optimizing your levels through appropriate sun exposure or by using a safe tanning bed (i.e. one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Ideally, you'll want to maintain your vitamin D level within the range of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
Vitamin D3 supplements are best used as a last resort, as they will not provide you with any of the other health benefits associated with sun exposure... If you do opt for a supplement, the most recent research suggests the average adult needs to take about 8,000 IUs of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the absolute minimum for disease prevention.
If you opt for a supplement, you also need to make sure you're getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2, as it works synergistically with vitamin D and activates matrix GLA protein, which inhibits arterial calcification. That said, exposing your skin to sunlight will also suppress your risk of stroke by altering the level of nitric oxide in your skin, which dilates your blood vessels and normalizes your blood pressure.9
Previous research10, 11 has shown that reducing your systolic blood pressure by 20 millimeters (regardless of how high your blood pressure currently is) decreases your risk of stroke by 50 percent. Reduce it by another 20 mm, and you cut your individual risk in half yet again. One way to naturally reduce your blood pressure is through exercise. Another is by making sure you're getting enough sun exposure. According to Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine at the University of Southampton in southern England:12
"Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease."
Interestingly, previous research13 also suggests that inducing nitric oxide (NO) actually helps protect your skin against UV damage... Another crucial element in the normalization of blood pressure is to address insulin and leptin resistance, which is present in about 80 percent of the population from eating far too many carbohydrates and not getting enough exercise. If you have high blood pressure and are overweight, your first step would be to eliminate all grains, sugars, and processed foods, and increase healthy fats, like avocado, coconut oil, butter, and nuts.Weather Changes Influence Stroke Rates
In related news, yet another recent study claims there's a link between weather conditions and stroke hospitalization rates. The researchers speculate that meteorological factors such as fluctuations in temperature and humidity may act as stressors. As reported by Medical News Today:14
"Lichtman and her team analyzed the medical records of 134,510 patients hospitalized in 2009-10 with ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood clot blocking the blood flow to the brain. They then cross-referenced this data with meteorological records of temperature and dew point data from this period.
The team found that large daily temperature changes and higher-than-average air moisture were linked to higher hospitalization rates from stroke. Lower-than-average annual temperatures were also associated with death and hospitalization from stroke.[Lichtman says] 'People at risk for stroke may want to avoid being exposed to significant temperature changes and high dew point and, as always, be prepared to act quickly if they or someone they know experiences stroke signs and symptoms.'"Don't Depend on Your Cholesterol Level to Assess Your Stroke Risk
High cholesterol is an oft-cited risk factor for stroke, but total cholesterol alone will tell you virtually nothing about your disease risk, unless it's exceptionally elevated (above 330 or so, which would be suggestive of familial hypercholesterolemia, and is, in my view, about the only time a cholesterol-lowering drug would be appropriate). It's also well worth noting that cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins have been found to increase your stroke risk, and previous research also suggests that having too little cholesterol in your blood may increase your risk of stroke.
According to research published in 1999,15, 16 individuals with cholesterol levels above 230 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) had an elevated risk of ischemic stroke. For example, a person with a cholesterol level of 280 mg/dL had twice the risk of ischemic stroke as a person with 230 mg/dL. But they also found that as cholesterol dropped, the risk of more lethal hemorrhagic stroke increased significantly instead. A person with a cholesterol level below 180 mg/dL had twice the risk of that type of stroke compared with someone at 230 mg/dL.
So, with regards to cholesterol, what you want is proper balance between your HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol. This is best achieved through a healthy diet, as outlined in my Nutrition Plan, and exercise. Two ratios that are far better indicators of heart disease risk are:
- Your HDL/total cholesterol ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent indicator of your heart disease risk. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. This percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it's a significant indicator of risk for heart disease
- Your triglyceride/HDL ratios: This percentage should ideally be below 2
A stroke doesn't advertise its pending arrival, which makes prevention all the more important. That said, getting medical help quickly can mean the difference between life and death or permanent disability, should you or someone you love suffer a stroke. This is an area where conventional medicine excels, so please do NOT delay in getting medical attention.
In the case of ischemic stroke, there are emergency medications that can dissolve a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your brain. If done quickly enough, emergency medicine can prevent or reverse permanent neurological damage—but you typically need treatment within one hour, which means the faster you recognize the signs, the better the prognosis. The National Stroke Association recommends using the FAST acronym to help remember the warning signs of stroke:17
F = FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.Other Stroke-Prevention Guidelines
It's important to realize that the vast majority—up to 80 percent, according to the National Stroke Association—of strokes are preventable, so your lifestyle plays a major role in whether or not you're going to become a statistic here. Besides the specific nutritional factors discussed above, other lifestyle factors that can have a direct impact on your stroke risk include:
- Exercise will go a long way toward improving your insulin and leptin receptor signaling, thereby normalizing your blood pressure and reducing your stroke risk. I recommend a comprehensive program that includes Peak Fitness exercises along with super slow strength training, Active Isolated Stretching and core work. If you've had a stroke, exercise is also very important, as research shows it can significantly improve both your mental and physical recovery.18
- Processed meats: Certain preservatives, such as sodium nitrate and nitrite found in smoked and processed meats have been shown to damage your blood vessels, which could increase your risk of stroke. I recommend avoiding all forms of processed meats, opting instead for organic, grass-fed or pastured meats.
- Diet soda. Research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in 2011 showed that drinking just one diet soda a day may increase your risk of stroke by 48 percent. Ideally, strive to eliminate all soda from your diet, as just one can of regular soda contains nearly twice my recommended daily allowance for fructose in order to maintain good health and prevent disease.
- Stress. According to a 2008 study,19 the more stressed you are, the greater your risk of suffering a stroke. The researchers actually found that for every notch lower a person scored on their well-being scale, their risk of stroke increased by 11 percent. Not surprisingly, the relationship between psychological distress and stroke was most pronounced when the stroke was fatal.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and birth control pills. If you're on one of the hormonal birth control methods (whether it's the pill, patch, vaginal ring, or implant), it is important to understand that you are taking synthetic progesterone and synthetic estrogen -- something that is clearly not advantageous if you want to maintain optimal health. These contraceptives contain the same synthetic hormones as those used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has well-documented risks, including an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer.
- Statins. Statin drugs are frequently prescribed to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. However, research shows that these cholesterol-lowering drugs actually increase your risk of a second stroke if you've already had one. There are two reasons why this might happen: the drugs may either lower cholesterol too much, to the point that it increases your risk of brain bleeding, or they may affect clotting factors in your blood, increasing the bleeding risk.
- Grounding. Walking barefoot, aka "grounding," has a potent antioxidant effect that helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body. The human body appears to be finely tuned to "work" with the Earth in the sense that there's a constant flow of energy between our bodies and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.
My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Other common stress-reduction tools with a high success rate include prayer, meditation, laughter and yoga, for example. For more tips, see my article "10 Simple Steps to Help De-Stress."
Chances are greater than 100 to 1 that you do not need a statin drug. Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol. For a refresher on how to do this, please see my recent article, "Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up."
High-sugar diets, smoking, radiofrequencies, and other toxic electromagnetic forces, emotional stress, high cholesterol, and high uric acid levels are examples of factors that make your blood hypercoagulable, meaning it makes it thick and slow-moving, which increases your risk of having a blood clot or stroke.
Grounding helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential. This gives each blood cell more negative charge which helps them repel each other to keep your blood thin and less likely to clot. This can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, so make it a point to regularly walk barefoot on grass or on wet sand for about 1.5-2 hours, if possible.
By Dr. Mercola
Magnesium is a crucially important mineral for optimal health, performing a wide array of biological functions, including playing an important role in bone health. In fact, of the 25 grams of magnesium found in an average adult, up to 60 percent of it is found in your bones.1
Multiple studies have shown that higher magnesium intake is associated with a higher bone mineral density in both men and women,2 and recent research from Norway has even found an association between magnesium in drinking water and risk of hip fractures.Magnesium May Lower Your Risk of Hip Fractures
Norway, like the US, has a high rate of hip fractures, but the researchers noted that its incidence varies by region, with those living in urban areas more likely to have hip fractures than those in rural locales. They suggested this could be due to naturally varying levels of minerals like magnesium in the drinking water, although this didn't turn out to be the case.
What they did find, however, was that while concentrations of magnesium (and calcium) in drinking water were generally low, there was an inverse association between concentration of magnesium and risk of hip fracture in both men and women.3 The researchers concluded:
"Magnesium in drinking water may have a protective role against hip fractures."
The finding is significant considering how debilitating a hip fracture can be, especially among the elderly. A broken hip carries a great risk of complications and usually requires prolonged specialized care for recovery. It's estimated that 25 percent of elderly people suffering a hip fracture die as a direct result.4Magnesium Is Involved in Bone Formation and Health
It's estimated that 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which could have a dramatic influence on bone health. Magnesium influences activities of both osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation) and osteoclasts (the cells that break down your bone).
Magnesium is thought to play a role in preventing and fighting osteoporosis. According to the National Office of Dietary Supplements:5
"Magnesium also affects the concentrations of both parathyroid hormone and the active form of vitamin D, which are major regulators of bone homeostasis…
Research has found that women with osteoporosis have lower serum magnesium levels than women with osteopenia and those who do not have osteoporosis or osteopenia. These and other findings indicate that magnesium deficiency might be a risk factor for osteoporosis."
In fact, one study found that postmenopausal women with osteoporosis were able to suppress bone turnover (which suggests bone loss decreased) just by taking 290 mg/day of magnesium for 30 days.6Your Calcium-Magnesium Ratio: Are You Taking Too Much Calcium?
Over the past 30 years, women have been told to take supplemental calcium to avoid osteoporosis. Many foods have also been fortified with extra calcium to prevent calcium deficiency among the general population.
Despite such measures, osteoporosis has continued to climb, and this could be, in part, because of an imbalanced calcium-magnesium ratio. According to Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor:
"I've heard statistics like a 700 percent rise in osteoporosis in a 10-year period, even while taking all this calcium. The myth that's been created about calcium is that we need twice as much calcium as we do magnesium. Most of the supplements reflect this. We've got a situation where people are taking 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium and maybe a few hundred milligrams of magnesium.
The 2:1 ratio—that was a mistake; a mistaken translation from French researcher Jean Durlach, who said never ever go beyond two parts calcium to one part magnesium in your food, water, or supplement intake combined."
This was misinterpreted as meaning a 2:1 ratio was an appropriate ratio, which it's not. A more appropriate ratio of calcium to magnesium is 1:1. This may not only pose a risk to your bones but also to your heart. If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to go into spasm.
So excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attack and sudden death. Quite simply, with insufficient amounts of magnesium, your heart simply cannot function properly.
When balancing calcium and magnesium also keep in mind that these must be balanced with vitamins K2 and D. These four nutrients perform an intricate dance together, with one supporting the other. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity.
Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you're K2 deficient, added calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating in the wrong places, like soft tissue.
Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume it in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2 and more magnesium. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 and magnesium can lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, which include inappropriate calcification that may damage your heart.
Magnesium and vitamin K2 complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease. So, all in all, anytime you're taking any of the following: magnesium, calcium, vitamin D3, or vitamin K2, you need to take all the others into consideration as well, since these all work synergistically with one another.What Else Is Magnesium Good For?
It would be misleading to simply classify magnesium as a mineral for your bones or your heart. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.7
Magnesium is also found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body and plays a role in your body's detoxification processes, making it important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. Even glutathione, your body's most powerful antioxidant that has even been called "the master antioxidant," requires magnesium for its synthesis. Recent research also showed that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors.8 To date more than 100 health benefits of magnesium have been identified so far, including therapeutic benefits for:9Fibromyalgia Atrial fibrillation Type 2 diabetes Premenstrual syndrome Cardiovascular disease Migraine Aging Mortality Watching Out for Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
There's no lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of the magnesium status in your tissues. Only one percent of the magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a blood test highly inaccurate.
Some specialty labs do provide an RBC magnesium test, which is reasonably accurate, and other tests that your doctor can use to evaluate your magnesium status include a 24-hour urine test or a sublingual epithelial test. Still, these can only give you an estimation of your levels, and doctors typically need to evaluate them in conjunction with the symptoms you exhibit.
If you suspect you're not getting enough magnesium, you should keep a watchful eye out for symptoms of deficiency. If you eat a poor diet, including one that's mostly processed foods, this could apply to you. Further, if any of these conditions below apply to you, you may want to take extra precautions to make sure you're getting a sufficient amount of magnesium in your diet, or, if needed, from a magnesium supplement, in order to avoid magnesium deficiency.>An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.) Alcoholism -- up to 60 percent of alcoholics have low blood levels of magnesium10 Unhealthy kidneys, which contribute to excessive loss of magnesium in urine Age -- older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption Diabetes, especially if it's poorly controlled, may lead to increased magnesium loss in urine Certain medications -- diuretics, antibiotics, and medications used to treat cancer can all result in magnesium deficiency
In her book, The Magnesium Miracle, Dr. Dean lists 100 factors that will help you decide whether or not you might be deficient. Early signs of magnesium deficiency to watch out for include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including:Numbness and tingling Muscle contractions and cramps Seizures Personality changes Abnormal heart rhythms Coronary spasms What Are the Best Dietary Sources of Magnesium?
Many people are low in magnesium. In order to ensure you're getting enough, you first need to be sure you're eating a varied, whole-food diet like the one described in my nutrition plan. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Avocados are also a good source. Juicing your vegetables is an excellent option to ensure you're getting enough of them in your diet.
One important point to mention, though, is that the levels of magnesium in your food are dependent on the levels of magnesium in the soil where they're grown. Organic foods may have more magnesium, as most fertilizer used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium instead of magnesium. Another one of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole-food diet is that you're far less likely to end up with too much of one nutrient at the expense of others. Foods in general contain all the cofactors and needed co-nutrients in the proper amounts for optimal health, which takes out the guesswork. When you're using supplements, you need to become a bit savvier about how nutrients influence and synergistically affect each other.
In case you're interested, another way to improve your magnesium status is to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed into your body directly through your skin. Magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) can also be used for topical application and absorption.The 8 Forms of Magnesium Supplements: What Type Is Best?
If you opt for a magnesium supplement, be aware that there are several different forms of magnesium. The reason for the wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market is because the magnesium must be bound to another substance. There's no such thing as a 100% magnesium compound supplement (except pico-ionic magnesium). The substance used in any given supplement compound can affect the absorption and bioavailability of the magnesium, and may provide slightly different, or targeted, health benefits. Following is a general guide to help you sort through the eight different formulas you're likely to come across:Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane Magnesium chloride / magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium Magnesium sulfate / magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it's easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid, which has laxative properties Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to negatively charged oxygen (oxide). It contains 60 percent magnesium and has stool-softening properties
By Dr. Mercola
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death. What if there was a safe, natural herb that could work for nearly every type of cancer?
According to Dr. William LaValley, who focuses most of his clinical work on the treatment of cancer, curcumin—a derivative of turmeric, and the pigment that gives the curry spice turmeric its yellow-orange color—may fit the bill. It's a natural compound that has been extensively researched, and has been found to have numerous health applications.
Like me, Dr. LaValley was trained in general medicine, but he's devoted a considerable amount of time to understanding the biochemical pathways that can support health nutritionally.
In 1982, he participated in an exchange program to the People's Republic of China, where he got first-hand experience with the ancient practices of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
"One of the important messages that I learned there was that natural products, natural molecules, from plants and animals that are already available in nature, have been used by the Chinese for at least hundreds, probably thousands of years. That deeply changed my perspective in the world of medicine," he says.
"I came back to medical school, and thereafter, looked at how I could integrate the perspective of conventional pharmaceutical administration as well as natural extract, natural product administration."Curcumin Has Potent Anti-Cancer Activity
In 2005, he took a 75 percent sabbatical from clinical practice to immerse himself in the science of molecular biology, specifically the molecular biology of cancer. He also devoted approximately 9,000-9,500 hours building a relational database from the PubMed literature about the molecular biology of cancer.
One important lesson he learned through that venture is that the understanding of molecular biology can be applied across a range of diseases and symptoms described in the scientific literature. That knowledge can be applied by searching PubMed and other related databases, looking at the relevant molecular pathways involved.
"In learning the molecular biology of cancer pathways, and in learning that what the evidence actually shows for the effect of natural product extracts on various relevant molecular targets in various cancers,
We see that there's actually quite a large amount of evidence that supports using various molecules, natural products, and pharmaceuticals that are already approved and that have been around for a long time to affect anti-cancer activity along that pathway at that target. That's called molecularly targeted anti-cancer treatment, and it's widely practiced in oncology today.
What's not widely practiced is the use of the natural products for the molecularly targeted anti-cancer activity. I provide that for my patients because the evidence base suggests and supports the use of these treatment recommendations."Curcumin—A 'Universal' Cancer Treatment?
Interestingly, curcumin appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer, which is really odd since cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. You wouldn't necessarily suspect that there would be one herb that would work for most of them. Dr. LaValley explains how he came to this conclusion:
"I went back to the literature and looked at how I can support the decision-making process and the recommendations that I'm making for treatment from the scientific literature, including literature that goes from the treatment of humans with oral products like pharmaceuticals or natural products.
This is where I learned about this molecule called curcumin, all the way down to its use in animals and then its use in test tubes or petri dish... One of the amazing things about curcumin is that this molecule has some profound anti-inflammatory activity and has activity in many molecular targets.
There are molecules that are in the cells, and those molecules interact with each other along certain pathways or tracks. The traffic of that interaction, the signals that are transferred in that trafficking of information in the molecules, presents many different targets or molecular-specific complexes."
As explained by Dr. LaValley, whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in traffic or activity of a particular molecular target, or a decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity.
Furthermore, curcumin does not adversely affect healthy cells, suggesting it selectively targets cancer cells. Research has also shown that it works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs, enhancing the elimination of cancer cells.Curcumin Destroys Cancer in Multiple Ways
Curcumin has the most evidence-based literature1 supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D, which also has a robust base. Interestingly, this also includes the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives, which are also anti-cancerous.
Curcumin has the ability to modulate genetic activity and expression—both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes anti-angiogenesis, meaning it helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth. As for its effect on molecular pathways, curcumin can affect more than 100 of them, once it gets into the cell. More specifically, curcumin has been found to:Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells Decrease inflammation Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body Help prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis) Why Whole Turmeric Is Ineffective
Unfortunately, while there's some curcumin in whole turmeric, there's not enough in the regular spice to achieve clinically relevant results. The turmeric root itself contains only about three percent curcumin concentration. Another major limitation of curcumin as a therapeutic agent is that it is poorly absorbed. When taken in its raw form, you're only absorbing about one percent of the available curcumin.
"The natural product industry has developed a standard of a 95-percent concentration of curcumin," Dr. LaValleyexplains. "Initially, years ago, that was what we had available for patients. Even at that, taking a 95-percent concentration orally in a capsule, only one percent of that could be absorbed. In order to get amounts of curcumin in the bloodstream that are reasonable to have therapeutic effect, people had to take large amounts of curcumin...
In searching the literature, I found that a way to change that, to dramatically increase the bioavailability, is actually a very simple process of bringing water to a boil, putting those capsules or some dry powder (I use it by the teaspoon), and boiling it for 10 to 12 minutes. That increases the amount of curcumin dissolved in water from that one-percent amount up to 12 percent or so. That amount is a vast number of curcumin molecules that are now in a bioavailable or absorbable form."
However, while this is certainly doable, it's really inconvenient, and great care must be taken to prevent staining your clothes and kitchen surfaces. It's a significant enough problem to have been dubbed "yellow kitchen syndrome," as it's virtually impossible to get the stains out. Turmeric is in fact an excellent dyeing agent for fabrics, rendering them a yellow-orange color.
Convenience and efficiency has driven many of the changes in the forms of curcumin in later years. Because it's a fat-loving or lipophilic molecule, many newer preparations now include some sort of oil or fat, which improves its absorbability and bioavailability. Such preparations typically have seven to eight times higher absorption than the raw, unprocessed 95-percent-concentration of dry powder. There are also newer sustained release preparations, which Dr. LaValley prefers and recommends.The Connection Between Cancer and Insulin Resistance
If you are overweight, or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes, then in all likelihood insulin and leptin resistance is a factor. Insulin and leptin resistance is also a very common factor among cancer patients. From my perspective, a ketogenic diet (with or without intermittent fasting) would be a prudent treatment strategy to resolve that underlying problem. Once you've normalized your insulin and leptin, you don't necessarily need to maintain a ketogenic diet, if you find it too restrictive.
"I agree with you that a ketogenic diet is really appropriate in many cases, probably the significant majority of cases," Dr. LaValley says. "It's been known for probably 80 years or longer that solid tumors, and some of the blood cancers, are sugar-loving. Another term is that they are addicted to sugar.
I use [a] PET scan to demonstrate to patients that here is objective proof that the tumors you have in your body are sugar-avid. They're taking up sugar at a rate much higher than the other regular healthy cells. I want to drive home that message, so that they are motivated to alter their diet to have a low, low carb intake, causing their body to generate additional nutrient supply molecules called ketones...
What that means is that we're trying to provide an anti-cancer antagonistic pressure on the cancer cells by reducing the amount of sugar that's readily available for uptake by reducing the easily available sugar in the diet and compensating for the nutrient reduction and sugar [reduction] by increasing healthy fats."Cutting Down on Protein May Be Particularly Useful for Cancer Patients
It would also be prudent to assess your protein intake. Many Americans eat far more protein than required for optimal health. The reason for this is because your body can actually use excess protein (you do need some) to stimulate carbohydrate production. Excess protein also stimulates the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways, which are useful for building muscles but can be detrimental when treating cancer, as mTOR is a pathway that increases cellular proliferation. (Interestingly, the pharmaceutical drug Metformin, which has anti-cancer activity, also inhibits mTOR, and it turns out that curcumin has a very similar effect.)
The formula I recommend for assessing how much protein you might need in your diet is from Dr. Rosedale, which calls for one gram of high-quality protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or about half a gram per pound of lean body mass.
As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight. So, if your total weight is 200 pounds; you would then divide 160 by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms and come up with 72.7 grams of protein. If you are doing vigorous exercises or are pregnant, you can add up to another 25 percent or another 18 grams in this illustration to increase your total to 90 grams per day.More Information
Dr. LaValley is available for consultation on a wide variety of health challenges, including cancer, and he's licensed to practice medicine in the US and Canada. His medical clinic is located in Chester, Nova Scotia, where he sees patients. Americans can fly there either through Chicago or Newark. His office number is 902-275-4555. He also spends time in Austin, Texas, where he conducts research. When there, he's available to consult for other physicians and their patients.
"For instance, if a patient has pancreatic cancer and the physician wants to implement one of the protocols that I provide, I will do a consultation with that physician's patient and then make recommendations to that physician for implementation," he explains. "In that way, patients are able to get it locally without having to travel to Nova Scotia...
It's a challenge right now because there's so much information that's not readily known by so many physicians that they become afraid. I think one of the biggest issues, certainly in US and Canada, is that when a physician wants to administer one of these natural products, or several of them, as well as some of the off-label pharmaceuticals for their anti-cancer usage, they are afraid of recriminations or disciplinary actions.
That is, I think, very unfortunate, because the evidence base does exist for it, and it's consistent with the way that other types of conventional medicine or practice using off-label pharmaceuticals as well. I think that the most important movement that needs to occur is for the patients to recognize their own value in the decision-making process and demand that they have access to these therapeutic choices because they're available, they're supported in the evidence base, and they have the right to ask for them rather than to just accept whatever the physician is otherwise offering in the conventional realm."
By Dr. Mercola
The featured video, Overconsumption, is a segment of a longer, completely non-verbal documentary called SAMSARA, which was filmed over a period of five years, across 25 countries.
"By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern."
Indeed, the effect is striking. This clip, which focuses on overconsumption, highlights just how unsustainable our eating habits have become. Modern food production also involves animal cruelty on a scale never seen before in the history of mankind.Do You Know How Your Food Is Produced?
Most all conventional meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) is raised in so-called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Large-scale factory farming is the cheapest way to raise meat, for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there's a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and ethical treatment of animals.
These huge industrial "warehouses" raise sick animals (due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions) that are routinely injected with antibiotics and artificial hormones.
They are also fed pesticide-laden grains and other byproducts for their feed. All of the additives to the animals (the antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides) get transferred to you when you eat that meat. The routine use of antibiotics in particular has led to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now threaten human life.
According to a landmark "Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report" published by the CDC,1 two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections. Even more die from complications.Chick-Fil-A Switches to Antibiotic-Free Chicken
There are glimmers of hope here and there. For example, Chick-fil-A recently announced it will switch to antibiotic-free chicken within the next five years.2 As reported by KCTV5:
"The Atlanta-based chain said it's working with suppliers to build up an adequate supply for its nearly 1,800 restaurants. It is asking suppliers to work with the US Department of Agriculture to verify that no antibiotics are administered on the chickens at any point...
Chick-fil-A said its conversion will require 'changes along every point of the supply chain - from the hatchery to the processing plant.' The company's suppliers include Tyson, Purdue, and Pilgrim's Pride. "
However, while this addresses the health hazards of antibiotic-laced meat, it does not address the animal welfare issue, which is so clearly illustrated in the featured video.
Conventionally-raised meats, beef in particular, also contain a range of other drugs. Martha Rosenberg recently highlighted a USDA Inspector General Report,3 which revealed that beef sold to the public have been found to be contaminated with4, 5 a staggering 211 different drug residues, including Ivermectin, an antiparasite drug; Flunixin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, and heavy metals. Despite the presence of such contaminations, no recalls were ever issued. She writes:
"The highest of all veterinary drug residues are found in bob veal (calves under three days old that weigh only 70 to 100 pounds) says the USDA Inspector General report, because 'Farmers are prohibited from selling milk for human consumption from cows that have been medicated with antibiotics (as well as other drugs) until the withdrawal period is over; so instead of just disposing of this tainted milk, producers feed it to their calves.
When the calves are slaughtered, the drug residue from the feed or milk remains in their meat, which is then sold to consumers.' Meat from bob calves is put into 'value added' veal products like veal sausages and breaded veal patties. Is there any other food that is so dangerous and cruel at the same time?"Antibiotics Are Not the Only Troublesome Growth Promoters in US Food Supply
Low-dose antibiotics are routinely fed to animals to promote growth, but they're certainly not the only growth-promoting drugs in use. Beta-agonist drugs such as Zilmax belong to a class of non-hormone drugs used as a growth promoter in American livestock. As a class, beta-agonist drugs have been used in US cattle production since 2003.
Ractopamine, another beta-agonist, is yet another drug used in the US, even though it's been banned in 160 other countries due to its potential health hazards. Beta-agonist drugs like Ractopamine and Zilmax are fed to cattle in the weeks prior to slaughter to increase weight by as much as 30 pounds of lean meat per cow. As much as 20 percent of the drug administered may remain in the meat you buy.
A recent special report by Reuters6 revealed some of the horrific effects Zilmax has on cattle, which includes lost hooves and lameness. According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records, at least 285 cattle have unexpectedly died or been euthanized after receiving Zilmax since the drug's introduction in 2007. Other reported adverse effects in cattle following the administration of Zilmax include:Stomach ulcers Brain lesions Blindness Lethargy and lameness Bloody nose Respiratory problems Heart failure Sudden death What Are the Consequences of Relying on CAFOs for Food?
The trend of large corporate-controlled CAFOs making up the lion's share of US food production has led to an abundance of cheap food, but not without consequence. Externalized costs of large-scale factory farming (which are largely unaccounted for in agricultural productivity measurements or farm budgets) include:
- Loss of water quality through nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams, and ground water (which contributes to "dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones")
- Agricultural pesticide contamination to streams, ground water, and wells, and safety concerns to agricultural workers who use them
- A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops (primarily vegetables), which suggests possible tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content
- Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
- Negative impact on soil quality through such factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide application, and excessive fertilization
The factory farm model also directly contributes to Americans' increasing reliance on processed junk foods; the very same foods that are making us obese and riddled with chronic disease. If your meals consist of $1 burgers and super-size drinks, your diet may be cheap, but it is also excessively high in grains, sugars, and factory-farmed meats. This is a recipe for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, just to name a few of the conditions that commonly befall those who consume "the Standard American Diet."Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family's Health
I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat.
By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of "ethical meat." The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
Now, at the nation's largest organic farming conference, the company will again have a prominent role. This Saturday, at the MOSES Conference, WhiteWave's corporate representative will seek to teach farmers how to communicate with organic consumers and understand "consumer demographics, behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets."
How will this WhiteWave executive help us better understand today's organic consumer? Will she encourage us to cheapen production costs by sourcing feed and ingredients from China or factory farms? Will she instruct us on how to break contracts with family farmers? Or market new non-organic products with the same name and nearly identical packaging that's already familiar to organic consumers?
For too long Dean Foods/WhiteWave has purchased influence with many nonprofits running farming conferences across the U.S. and in the organic community. It's estimated that over the last 10 years, they have been the largest corporate contributor to organic nonprofits. They buy influence in the organic community and access to farmers the same way their lobbyists buy influence in Washington with large campaign contributions.
Help protect the reputation of the nation's largest organic farming conference. Please ask the MOSES board to cancel this inappropriate workshop or substitute marketing expertise from experts that truly believe in the values that have helped build the organic business industry.
By Dr. Mercola
Your body is capable of generating electricity, and this ability is actually a key part of your achieving health. Electricity allows your nervous system to send signals to your brain. These signals are actually electrical charges that are delivered from cell to cell, allowing for nearly instantaneous communication.
The messages conducted via electrical signals in your body are responsible for controlling the rhythm of your heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body, and much more.
Your biological clock even uses electrical activity in order to help keep your circadian rhythms in order.1 You are, quite simply, an electrical being. If electrical activity stops in your body, you cannot survive. But how, exactly, does this electrical activity take place?How Does Your Body Produce Electricity?
The video above, from The Medicine Journal,2 gives a concise explanation of the complex process your body uses to generate electricity. Inside your body are atoms that are made up of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons, and neutrons (which are neutral).
An atom with unbalanced charges will become either positively or negatively charged, and the switch from one charge to the other allows electrons to flow from one atom to another. This is what is referred to as electricity.3
Your cells generate electrical charges via electrolytes like sodium and potassium using a mechanism known as the "sodium-potassium gate." As Discovery Health explained:4
"When your body needs to send a message from one point to another, it opens the gate. When the membrane gate opens, sodium and potassium ions move freely into and out of the cell.
Negatively charged potassium ions leave the cell, attracted to the positivity outside the membrane, and positively charged sodium ions enter it, moving toward the negative charge. The result is a switch in the concentrations of the two types of ions -- and rapid switch in charge.
…this flip between positive and negative generates an electrical impulse. This impulse triggers the gate on the next cell to open, creating another charge, and so on. In this way, an electrical impulse moves from a nerve in your stubbed toe to the part of your brain that senses pain."
It is because of your body's electrical activity that defibrillators, which deliver an electric shock to your heart, may work to restore heart rhythm and why receiving the wrong type of shock, like an electric shock or lightning strike, can essentially "fry" your body's electrical system. The opposite also holds true in that you can actually harness the electrical charge of the Earth to positively influence your health in numerous ways.Your Body Can Absorb Free Electrons from the Earth
The Earth carries an enormous negative charge. It's always electron-rich and can serve as a powerful and abundant supply of antioxidant and free-radical-busting electrons.
Your body is finely tuned to "work" with the Earth in the sense that there's a constant flow of energy between your body and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.
The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process is called "grounding" or "earthing," and its effect is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of.
Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance wellbeing, and much, much more. When you wear rubber- or plastic-soled shoes, however, you are effectively shielding yourself from this beneficial influx of electrons from the Earth.Why It's So Important to Stay Grounded
Grounding's potent antioxidant effect helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body, a potentially life-saving benefit since inflammation is at the root of most diseases, including heart disease.
According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a prominent cardiologist, inflammation thrives when your blood is thick and you have a lot of free radical stress, and a lot of positive charges in your body. Grounding effectively alleviates inflammation because it thins your blood and infuses you with negatively charged ions through the soles of your feet.
Grounding helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential, which means it improves the energy between your red blood cells. Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your bloodstream and transform your blood.
Hypercoagulable (thick, slow-moving) blood contributes to chronic inflammation, because when your blood does not flow well, oxygen can't get to your tissues. Grounding's effect on blood thinning is so profound that if you are taking blood thinners, you must work with your health care provider to lower your dose otherwise you may overdose on the medication. You can see my interview with Dr. Sinatra below.
Interestingly, grounding research has now discovered that if you place your feet on the ground after an injury (or on a grounded sheet, or place grounding patches on the balls of your feet), electrons will migrate into your body and spread through your tissues. Any free radicals that leak into the healthy tissue will immediately be electrically neutralized. This occurs because the electrons are negative, while the free radicals are positive, so they cancel each other out. As noted by Dr. James Oschman, an expert in the field of energy medicine:
"So really what is happening with grounding or earthing is that you're protecting your body from -- I call it, collateral damage… Damage that was not intended to take place but does take place because we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth by putting rubber and plastic on the bottoms of our shoes."
Free radical stress from exposure to pollution, cigarettes, insecticides, pesticides, trans fats, and radiation, just to name a few, continually deplete your body of electrons. Simply by getting outside, barefoot, touching the Earth, and allowing the excess charge in your body to discharge into the Earth, you can alleviate some of the stress continually put on your system. Walking barefoot can help ameliorate the constant assault of electromagnetic fields and other types of radiation from cell phones, computers, and Wi-Fi. It's also thought that grounding may actually facilitate the formation of structured water in your body.
Furthermore, grounding also calms your sympathetic nervous system, which supports your heart rate variability. And, when you support heart rate variability, this promotes homeostasis, or balance, in your autonomic nervous system. This is important because anytime you improve your heart rate variability, you're improving your entire body and all its functions. If you want to learn more, check out the Grounded documentary (in which I actually appear). You'll hear first-hand accounts from residents of Haines, Alaska who have overcome chronic pain, sleep apnea, and much more simply by getting grounded.How to Reconnect with the Earth's Electrical Charge
Many Americans spend most of their waking hours wearing shoes with rubber or plastic soles. These materials are very effective insulators, which is precisely why they're used to insulate electrical wires. Yet, they also effectively disconnect you from the Earth's natural electron flow. Wearing leather-soled shoes will allow you to stay grounded with the Earth, as will walking barefoot, but you'll need to do so on the proper surface. Good grounding surfaces include:
- Sand (beach)
- Grass (preferably moist)
- Bare soil
- Concrete and brick (as long as it's not painted or sealed)
- Ceramic tile
The following surfaces will NOT ground you:
- Rubber and plastic
- Tar or tarmac
Like eating right, exercising, and sleeping, grounding can be described as yet another lifestyle habit that supports optimal health by supporting your body's "electrical" connection with the Earth. It's supported and backed by prominent medical doctors, scientists including Dr. David Suzuki, NASA astronauts, and was used by ancient civilizations who placed strong value on their relationship to the Earth.
As mentioned, simply taking off your shoes as much as you can when you're outdoors will help you take advantage of natural grounding opportunities. When indoors, using a grounding pad or sheet is an excellent way to stay grounded while you're working or sleeping. (For frequent travelers, I typically bring a grounding pad with me when I fly, too.)
By Dr. Mercola
A loving, motivational message from a son to his mother – carved out in snow on the top deck of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center parking lot -- went viral earlier this month.
The snow message read "HI MOM" and was intended for Sharon Hart, a 48-year-old woman undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia. After thinking about the rest of the patients in the hospital, the 14-year-old son and his father went back and added "GOD BLESS U" to the message, which was visible to nearly the entire east side of the hospital.
When nurses, doctors, and patients began sharing photos of the heartwarming message on social media, the message soon went viral, touching many around the world, especially the millions who have been personally impacted by a cancer diagnosis (themselves or a loved one).Cancer Rates Continue to Rise, Bankrupting Patients with Questionable Treatments
Nearly two million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year, and one in three will face a cancer diagnosis at some time in their lives.
Yet despite massive technological advances over the past half-century, Western medicine is still at a loss for how to rein in its prevalence. Cancer has grown into a worldwide epidemic of staggering proportions. The statistics speak for themselves:
- In the early 1900s, one in 20 people developed cancer
- In the 1940s, one in 16 people developed cancer
- In the 1970s, it was one in 10
- Today, it's one in three!
The 40-year "war on cancer" has clearly failed, and the cancer industry is spending virtually nothing of its multi-billion dollar resources on effective prevention strategies, such as dietary guidelines, exercise, and obesity education. Instead, it pours its money into treating cancer, not preventing or curing it.
The typical cancer patient spends $50,000 fighting the disease. Chemotherapy drugs are among the most expensive of all treatments, many ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 for a one-month supply.
As a result of astronomical costs like these, more than half, or approximately 60 percent, of all personal bankruptcies in the US are related to medical bills. It might be worth it… if the treatment worked. Sadly, however, many cancer patients die not from cancer but from the toxic effects of chemotherapy treatment.Cancer Can Kill But So Can Chemotherapy
The cancer industry has spun chemotherapy into the holy grail of cancer treatment. And this is a sad testament to just how far we still have to come to really begin to fight this disease. Chemotherapy drugs are, by their very nature, extremely toxic and typically do not work with your body to modulate and normalize its response to allow the cancer to resolve normally.
Despite its reputation as the gold standard in cancer treatment, chemotherapy improves the five-year survival success rate on average by just over two percent for all cancers, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Oncology.1
One of the biggest drawbacks to chemotherapy is the fact that it destroys healthy cells throughout your body right along with cancer cells, a "side effect" that often leads to accelerated death, not healing. It also increases the highly malignant cancer stem cell population in the tumor.
So although it does shrink the overall size of the tumor, it may actually enhance its malignancy by increases the number of cells capable of spinning off into new tumors. Effectiveness is a shot in the dark, in many cases, and sometimes the drug causes far more harm than good.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) study found that more than four in 10 patients who received chemotherapy toward the end of life experienced potentially fatal effects. And after reviewing data from over 600 cancer patients who died within 30 days of receiving treatment, it was found that chemotherapy hastened or caused death in 27 percent of those cases.
It can not be overemphasized that chemotherapy can invigorate the more chemo-resistant and malignant cell subpopulations within tumors (e.g. cancer stem cells, or multi-drug resistant cancer cells), killing the more benign cells and/or senescent cells within the tumor that keep it slow growing or even harmless. As a result, this may unleash a more aggressive, treatment-resistant type of cancer to wreak havoc on your body.Are There Natural Cancer Treatments?
Yes, there are. Over the last 100 years, a number of natural cancer treatments have been developed and used successfully to treat patients in the US and other countries.
All have been vehemently discounted, silenced, and pushed under the rug by the medical monopoly, with physicians and researchers attacked, smeared, sent to prison, and professionally ruined for daring to defy the medical establishment. Some natural cancer treatments you may not have heard of include:
- Integrating a ketogenic diet with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is deadly to cancer cells by starving them of their fuel source. This would be the strategy I would recommend to my family if they were diagnosed with cancer.
- Gerson Therapy
- Medical marijuana
- Gene-targeted therapies by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski
In order to protect the medical monopoly, however, any viable natural treatment is met with massive opposition by the pharmaceutical and medical industries. Drug companies have no interest in natural agents that they cannot patent, because they threaten their revenue streams. They will go—and have gone—to extreme measures to prevent the truth about effective natural treatments (competitive threats) from reaching the public.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is primarily funded by the drug companies, is complicit in this process. They restrict competition in the guise of protecting the public, when the reality is they are focused on protecting the profits of the drug companies.Half of Cancer Cases Are Preventable: Take Control of Your Health Today
Cancer has devastated many families and claimed far too many lives before their time. It is my hope that someone reading this today – and hopefully many of you – will be spurred to action to make lifestyle changes and prevent themselves from becoming one more cancer statistic. There is so much you can do to lower your risk for cancer. But please don't wait until you get the diagnosis—you have to take preventative steps NOW.
The latest World Cancer Report,2 issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), predicts worldwide cancer rates to rise by 57 percent in the next two decades. Rightfully, the report refers to such predictions as "an imminent human disaster," noting countries around the world need to renew their focus on prevention rather than treatment only. The report noted that about half of all cancers could be avoided by promoting preventive lifestyle strategies such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
I believe controlling your blood-glucose and insulin levels—through diet, along with a comprehensive exercise program—are the most crucial components for disease prevention on the whole, but particularly for the prevention of cancer. Diet is often a confusing element for many, but you can find the steps to eating a healthful diet in my nutrition plan. First and foremost, you need to address insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains. To safely and effectively reverse insulin and leptin resistance, or prevent it from occurring, thereby significantly reducing your risk of cancer (and heart disease and other chronic diseases) you need to:
- Avoid sugar/fructose, grains, and processed foods
- Eat a healthful diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs with:
- Large amounts of vegetables
- Low-to-moderate amount of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals)
- As much high-quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated from animal and tropical oil sources). Most people actually need upwards of 50-85 percent fats in their diet for optimal health—a far cry from the 10 percent currently recommended. Avoid all processed omega-6 vegetable oils though, like corn, soy, and canola oil.
I believe you can virtually eliminate your risk of cancer, and radically improve your chances of recovering from cancer if you currently have it, by following these relatively simple strategies.
- Improve your insulin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar (especially fructose) and grains and making sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
- Address your food preparation. Eat at least one-third of your food raw. Avoid frying or charbroiling -- boil, poach, or steam your foods instead. Consider adding cancer-fighting whole foods, herbs, spices, and supplements to your diet, such as broccoli, curcumin, and resveratrol. To learn more about how these anti-angiogenetic foods fight cancer, please see our previous article "Dramatically Effective New Natural Way to Starve Cancer and Obesity."
- Avoid carbohydrates and sugar. Reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugar/fructose and grain-based foods from your diet until your insulin/leptin resistance resolves. This applies to whole unprocessed organic grains as well, as they tend to rapidly break down and drive up your insulin level. The evidence is quite clear that if you want to avoid cancer, or you currently have cancer, you absolutely MUST avoid all forms of sugar, especially fructose, which feeds cancer cells and promotes their growth.
- Reduce protein and increase healthy fats. Consider reducing your protein levels to one gram per kilogram of lean body weight. It would be unusual for most adults to need more than 100 grams of protein and most likely need close to half that amount. Replace excess protein with high-quality fats, such as organic eggs from pastured hens, high-quality meats, avocados, and coconut oil.
- Drink a half to whole quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
- Avoid GMOs. Avoid genetically engineered foods as they are typically treated with herbicides such as Roundup (glyphosate). A French research team that has extensively studied Roundup concluded it's toxic to human cells, and likely carcinogenic to humans. Choose fresh, organic, preferably locally growth foods.
- Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
- Normalize your omega-3 to omega-6 fats ratio. Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of processed vegetable oils.
- Optimize your gut flora. Optimizing your gut flora will reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune response. Researchers have found a microbe-dependent mechanism through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. They suggest that inhibiting inflammatory cytokines might slow cancer progression and improve the response to chemotherapy. Adding naturally fermented food to your daily diet is an easy way to prevent cancer or speed recovery. You can always add a high-quality probiotic supplement as well, but naturally fermented foods are the best.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise lowers insulin levels, which creates a low-sugar environment that discourages the growth and spread of cancer cells. In a three-month study, exercise was found to alter immune cells into a more potent disease-fighting form in cancer survivors who had just completed chemotherapy.3 Researchers and cancer organizations increasingly recommend making regular exercise a priority in order to reduce your risk of cancer and help improve cancer outcomes. Research has also found evidence suggesting exercise can help trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Ideally, your exercise program should include balance, strength, flexibility, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and frequent non-exercise activity as well.
- Optimize your vitamin D level. There is scientific evidence you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with appropriate sun exposure. Your serum level should hold steady at 50-70 ng/ml, but if you are being treated for cancer, it should be closer to 80-90 ng/ml for optimal benefit. If you take oral vitamin D and have cancer, it would be very prudent to monitor your vitamin D blood levels regularly, as well as supplementing your vitamin K2, as K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity. To learn more, please see my previous article: "What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium."
- Get plenty of natural vitamin A. There is evidence that vitamin A also plays a role in helping prevent breast cancer.4 It's best to obtain it from vitamin A-rich foods, rather than a supplement. Your best sources are organic egg yolks, raw butter, raw whole milk, and beef or chicken liver.
- Consider curcumin. This is the primarily active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of breast cancer. It shows immense therapeutic potential in preventing cancer metastasis.5 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I've provided several absorption tips here.
- Optimize your sleep. Make sure you are getting enough restorative sleep. Poor sleep can interfere with your melatonin production, which is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and weight gain, both of which contribute to cancer's malignancy.
- Limit your exposure to toxins. Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners, and toxic cosmetics. Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
- Limit your exposure to radiation. Limit your exposure and protect yourself from radiation produced by cell phones, towers, base stations, and Wi-Fi stations, as well as minimizing your exposure from radiation-based medical scans, including dental x-rays, CT scans, and mammograms.
- Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Breast cancer is linked to excessive estrogen levels or activity, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
- Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with breast cancer. Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells. For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein's book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein, as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are too high.
- Stress management. Stress from all causes is a major contributor to disease. My favorite tool for resolving emotional challenges is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
By Dr. Mercola
Deaths caused by overdosing on painkillers now surpass murders and fatal car accidents in the US. America's rising drug problem recently received renewed attention following the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.1
The 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor died from a heroin overdose on February 2. Last year, Hoffman entered rehab when addiction to prescription painkillers led him to switch to heroin. US officials now acknowledge that narcotic painkillers are in fact a driving force in the rise of substance abuse and lethal overdoses.
Over the past five years alone, heroin deaths have increased by 45 percent2--an increase that officials blame on the rise of addictive prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora, all of which are opioids.
The reason for the resurgence of heroin is in large part due to it being less expensive than its prescription counterparts. According to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy:3
"The use of opioids -- a group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers -- is having a devastating impact on public health and safety in communities across the nation.
In 2010, approximately 100 Americans died from overdoses every day. Prescription painkillers were involved in more than 16,600 deaths that year, and heroin was involved in about 3,000 deaths."Prescription Medications Are the New Gateway Drugs
Many are still under the illusion that prescription drugs are somehow safer than street drugs, but it's important to realize that prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioids—just like heroin.
As explained by Dr. Wilson Compton,4 deputy director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone "are all classified as opioids because they exert their effect by attaching to the opioid receptor found in our brain and spinal cord."
They also create a temporary feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria, which can easily lead to addiction. Some people end up taking increasingly larger doses in order to regain the euphoric effect, or escape the unhappiness caused by withdrawal. Others find they need to continue taking the drugs not only to reduce withdrawal symptoms but to simply feel normal.
Opioids also depress your heart rate and breathing. Large doses can cause sedation and slowed breathing to the point that breathing stops altogether, resulting in death.5
According to a 2013 US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, nearly 80 percent of people who recently started using heroin had previously used prescription painkillers. As reported by WebMD:6
"To break this link, the federal government has begun to crack down on 'pill mills' and doctors who over-prescribe narcotic painkillers. It has also developed education programs for doctors and patients on prescribing painkillers and disposing of unused prescriptions."Shocking Report: More Than 14 Percent of Pregnant Women Prescribed Opioids!
Do you ever occasionally wonder about the fantastic lack of common sense among prescribing physicians? According to one recent study,7 more than 14 percent of pregnant women were prescribed opioid drugs during their pregnancy.
The paper called for more research to assess the risks to the fetus, in light of such surprisingly high prescription rates. But truly, knowing the risks involved in adults, how could anyone in their right mind imagine the risks to an unborn child might be anything but harmful?
Back pain—a problem most pregnant women have to deal with—was the most commonly cited reason for the prescription. Narcotics were also prescribed for complaints of abdominal pains, migraine, joint pains, and fibromyalgia. As reported by Medical News Today:8
"The study looked at data from a research database of more than 530,000 pregnant women enrolled in a commercial insurance plan who delivered their babies between 2005 and 2011. Their median age was 31... Of the more than 530,000 pregnant women, 76,742, or 14.4 percent, were prescribed opioids at some point in their pregnancy...
[A] US National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1997-2005) found associations between codeine and other opioids with birth defects, including atrial and ventricular septal defects, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, spina bifida, and gastroschisis in newborns. Additionally, the US national study cites that when opioids are used long-term during pregnancy, 'there is a known risk for neonatal opioid dependence and subsequent withdrawal symptoms in the first few days of life.'"FDA Finally Clamps Down on Painkiller Prescriptions
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended tighter controls on painkiller prescriptions,9, 10 and has announced its intention to reclassify hydrocodone-containing painkillers from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug. The drug schedule system classifies medications based on their potential for abuse and addiction, as well as other medical criteria.
The reclassification will affect how hydrocodone-containing drugs can be prescribed and refilled. Doctors will only be allowed to prescribe a 90-day supply of the drug per prescription, and they will no longer be permitted to phone in refills; rather the patient has to bring the prescription with them to the pharmacy.
The new regulations are expected to take effect sometime this year. Ironically enough, while talking about the need for stricter controls and less addictive painkillers, it recently approved the first drug containing pure hydrocodone for the US market, called Zohydro ER (Zogenix). All other hydrocodone-containing painkillers on the market are mixed with other non-addictive ingredients. Zohydro ER was approved for patients who need around-the-clock pain relief. As reported by Bloomberg at the end of October last year:11
"The approval came as a surprise since an FDA panel of outside advisers gave the drug an overwhelmingly negative review last year. The panel of pain specialists voted 11-2, with one abstention, against approving the drug. It questioned the need for a new form of one of most widely-abused prescription drugs in the United States. The approval also came a day after the FDA said it would support stronger restrictions on combination drugs containing hydrocodone."Do You Really Need a Narcotic Pain Killer?
I strongly recommend exhausting your options before resorting to a narcotic pain reliever. It's quite clear that these drugs are being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit drug use. I strongly suspect that the overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of the problem. Remember, no matter what type of painkiller you choose, it will come with potentially serious risks to your health. I believe there are better alternatives. If you are suffering from pain, whether acute or chronic, I recommend working with a knowledgeable health care practitioner to determine what's really triggering your pain, and then address the underlying cause. Remember, along with exposing you to potentially deadly risks, medications only provide symptomatic relief. They do NOT address the underlying cause of your pain.13 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief
The following options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. If you are in pain, try these first, before even thinking about prescription painkillers of any kind.
- Eliminate or radically reduce processed foods, grains, and sugars from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
- Start taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat. My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work; they manipulate prostaglandins.)
- Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun or safe tanning bed exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
- Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
- Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
- Curcumin: In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility.12 A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.13
- Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
- Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
- Evening Primrose, Black Currant, and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
- Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
- Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, meditation,14 hot and cold packs, and other mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.
By Dr. Mercola
It appears once again, major industry defenders will remain in complete denial and do anything possible to put profits before people.
An annual mammogram is the conventional go-to "prevention" strategy for breast cancer. But researchers increasingly agree that mammography is ineffective at best and harmful at worst.
Unfortunately, breast cancer is big business, and mammography is one of its primary profit centers. This is why the industry is fighting tooth and nail to keep it, even if it means ignoring the truth.
Several studies over the past few years have concluded that mammograms do not save lives, and may actually harm more women than they help, courtesy of false positives, overtreatment, and radiation-induced cancers.
The latest study to reach this conclusion is also one of the longest and largest. As reported by the New York Times:1
"One of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done, involving 90,000 women and lasting a quarter-century, has added powerful new doubts about the value of the screening test for women of any age.
It found that the death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not. And the screening had harms: one in five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman's health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation."Where's the Wisdom in Using a Cancer Screen That Causes Cancer?
Besides the harm caused by overtreatment, the wisdom of radiating your breasts year after year, for decades, is questionable at best, considering the fact that ionizing radiation can cause cancer.
Results published in the British Medical Journal2 (BMJ) in 2012 show that women carrying a specific gene mutation called BRCA1/2 are particularly vulnerable to radiation-induced cancer.
Women carrying this mutation who were exposed to diagnostic radiation before the age of 30 were twice as likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those who did not have the mutated gene.
They also found that the radiation-induced cancer was dose-responsive, meaning the greater the dose, the higher the risk of cancer developing. The authors concluded that:
"The results of this study support the use of non-ionizing radiation imaging techniques (such as magnetic resonance imaging) as the main tool for surveillance in young women with BRCA1/2 mutations."
I've warned against the use of routine mammograms for years, despite vehement attacks from radiologists and individuals hell-bent on attacking me. In the final analysis, it's been worth the legal fees I've had to pay to defend myself against these attacks over the years, as ever-mounting research repeatedly confirms my stance. At this point, the controversy is pretty much settled—at least if you take the published research into account.
Far all my opponents out there who have attacked me for my opinion of mammograms, I know you will continue to remain in denial. The big lie must continue to be told to avoid the guilt associated with the damage done.
The attacks only make us better at defending controversial views.
The featured study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ),3 included a five-year screening period, with a total follow-up period of 25 years. The women, aged 40-59, were randomly assigned to receive either five annual mammography screens, or an annual physical breast examination without mammography.
Over the course of the study, 3,250 of the women who received mammography were diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to 3,133 in the non-mammography group. Of those, 500 women in the mammography group, and 505 in the control group, died from the disease.
However, after 15 years of follow-up, the mammography group had another 106 extra cancer diagnoses, which were attributable to over-diagnosis. As previously explained by Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, the term "overdiagnosis" in cancer medicine refers to:4
"...a tumor that fulfills all laboratory criteria to be called cancer but, if left alone, would never cause harm. This is a tumor that will not continue to grow, spread and kill. It is a tumor that can be cured with treatment but does not need to be treated and/or cured."
The authors of the featured study concluded that:5
"Annual mammography in women aged 40-59 does not reduce mortality from breast cancer beyond that of physical examination or usual care when adjuvant therapy for breast cancer is freely available. Overall, 22 percent of screen detected invasive breast cancers were over-diagnosed, representing one over-diagnosed breast cancer for every 424 women who received mammography screening in the trial."More Studies Disputing the Value of Routine Mammograms
The rate of overdiagnosis (22 percent) is virtually identical to that found in a 2012 Norwegian study,6 which found that as many as 25 percent of women are consistently overdiagnosed with breast cancer that, if left alone, would never have caused them any harm. Other studies that support the findings of the featured study include the following:
- In 2007, the Archives of Internal Medicine7 published a meta-analysis of 117 randomized, controlled mammogram trials. Among its findings: rates of false-positive results are high (20-56 percent after 10 mammograms)
- Similar results were found in a 2009 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database Review,8 which found that breast cancer screening led to a 30 percent rate of overdiagnosis and overtreatment, which actually increased the absolute risk of developing cancer by 0.5 percent. The review concluded that for every 2,000 women invited for screening throughout a 10-year period, the life of just ONE woman was prolonged, while 10 healthy women were treated unnecessarily.
- Another Norwegian study,9 published in 2010, concluded that the reduction in mortality as a result of mammographic screening was so small as to be nonexistent—a mere 2.4 deaths per 100,000 person-years were spared as a result of the screening.
- Research published in The Lancet Oncology in 2011,10 described the natural history of breast cancers detected in the Swedish mammography screening program between 1986 to 1990, involving 650,000 women. Since breast lesions and tumors are aggressively treated and/or removed before they can be determined with any certainty to be a clear and present threat to health, there has been little to no research on what happens when they are left alone.
This study however, demonstrated for the first time that women who received the most breast screenings had a higher cumulative incidence of invasive breast cancer over the following six years than the control group who received far less screenings.
Besides false positives that lead to unnecessary treatments, there's also the risk of getting a false negative, meaning that a life-threatening cancer is missed. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), mammograms miss up to 20 percent of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening. If a mammogram detects an abnormal spot in your breast, the next step is typically a biopsy. This involves taking a small amount of tissue from your breast, which is then looked at by a pathologist under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.
The problem is that early stage cancer like ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) can be very hard to diagnose, and there are no diagnostic standards for it. Furthermore, pathologists doing the readings are not required to have specialized expertise. As Dr. Shahla Masood, the head of pathology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, told the New York Times in 2010:11
"There are studies that show that diagnosing these borderline breast lesions occasionally comes down to the flip of a coin."
It's important to realize that a negative mammogram cannot be equated with a clean bill of health. All a negative mammogram can tell you is that IF you do have cancer, it hasn't grown large enough yet to be detected. This is particularly true for women with dense breast tissue. Forty-nine percent of women have high breast tissue density,12 and mammography's sensitivity for dense breasts is as low as 27 percent13—meaning about 75 percent of dense-breasted women are at risk for a cancer being missed if they rely solely on mammography. Even with digital mammography, the sensitivity is still less than 60 percent.Women Faced with Increasingly Confusing Choices
The featured study has reignited the debate about whether or not an annual mammogram is a wise choice for most women. Complicating matters further is the fact that, over the past few years, a number of medical groups have created divergent recommendations with regards to if and when you should get a mammogram.
In November of 2009, the US Preventive Services Task Force, a federal advisory board, revised their cancer screening recommendations,14 saying annual mammograms weren't necessary for women under age 50 and that screenings were recommended only every two years after that. The panel based the new guidelines on data indicating that mammography does more harm than good when used on younger women.
Many cancer groups refused to adopt these guidelines however, and still recommend women over the age of 40 to be screened annually. This includes the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the American College of Radiology.
In 2011, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) threw women for yet another loop when it changed its guidelines to include MORE screening compared to its previous recommendations. ACOG had previously recommended annual mammograms starting at age 50. As of 2011, it began urging women to get an annual mammogram starting at the age of 40. As stated by the New York Times:15
"[T]he days of one-size-fits-all screening may be ending. Now patients and their doctors will face much more nuanced choices, based on each woman's risk for breast cancer and her feelings about the prospect of unnecessary treatment. 'The balance between benefits and harms is more and more up in the air,' said Dr. Russell P. Harris, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 'Reasonable people will disagree.'"3D Tomosynthesis—The Crazy Alternative That Increases Your Risks Even Further
Unfortunately, instead of admitting the flaws and inherent dangers of mammography, the industry unveiled a "new and improved" type of mammogram in 2011 called 3D tomosynthesis, which actually exposes you to even HIGHER doses of radiation than a standard mammogram. What's worse, they also recommend you continue receiving your traditional 2D mammogram when you get tomosynthesis, thereby multiplying your radiation exposure even further. According to surgeon Dr. Susan Love,16 tomosynthesis exposes you to about twice the amount of radiation compared to a standard mammogram.
According to one 2010 study,17 annual screening using standard digital or screen-film mammography on women aged 40–80 years is associated with an induced cancer incidence and fatal breast cancer rate of 20–25 cases per 100, 000. Meaning, annual mammograms CAUSE 20-25 cases of fatal cancer for every 100,000 women getting the test. Further increasing—perhaps doubling—the number of fatal breast cancer caused as a direct result of the screening procedure itself can hardly be called progress.Cancer Prevention Begins with Your Lifestyle Choices
Mammograms are portrayed as the best form of "prevention" a woman can get. But early diagnosis is not the same as prevention. And cancer screening that does more harm than good can hardly qualify as "your best bet" against becoming a cancer statistic! I believe the vast majority of all cancers could be prevented by strictly applying basic, common-sense healthy lifestyle strategies, such as the ones below.
- Avoid sugar, especially fructose, and processed foods. All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Refined fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible. This automatically means avoiding processed foods, as most are loaded with fructose (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup, HFCS).
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature's most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should probably be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I'm aware of, with no adverse effects. Ideally, your levels should reach this point by exposure to the sun or a safe tanning bed, not oral vitamin D.
- Limit your protein. Newer research has emphasized the importance of the mTOR pathways. When these are active, cancer growth is accelerated. One way to quiet this pathway is by limiting your protein to one gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or roughly a bit less than half a gram of protein per every pound of lean body weight. For most people this ranges between 40 and 70 grams of protein a day, which is typically about 2/3 to half of what they are currently eating.
- Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
- Improve your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and restricting carbs to mostly fiber vegetables. Also make sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
- Exercise regularly. One of the primary reasons exercise works to lower your cancer risk is because it drives your insulin levels down, and controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks. It's also been suggested that apoptosis (programmed cell death) is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die. Studies have also found that the number of tumors decrease along with body fat, which may be an additional factor. This is because exercise helps lower your estrogen levels, which explains why exercise appears to be particularly potent against breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising. It's important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.
- Drink a pint to a quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
- Get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
- Curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of cancer. It actually has the most evidence-based literature18 supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D. For example, it has demonstrated major therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.19 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I've provided several absorption tips here. Newer preparations have also started to emerge, offering better absorption. For best results, you'll want to use a sustained release preparation.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
- Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk.
- Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy, especially if you have risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
- Avoid BPA, phthalates, and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
- Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with certain forms of cancer. Dr. David Brownstein,20 author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.
- Avoid charring your meats. Charcoal or flame-broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide—a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, or fried—has been found to increase cancer risk as well.
If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.
For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein's book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not at all convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are far too high.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many other strategies that can be useful as well. One excellent resource is Dr. Christine Horner's book, Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner's Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer, which contains research-proven all-natural approaches for protecting against and treating breast cancer.Arm Yourself with Information So You Can Take Control of Your Health
Many women are still unaware that the science backing mammograms is sorely lacking. Instead of being told the truth, women are guilt-tripped into thinking that skipping their yearly mammogram is the height of irresponsibility. It can be hard to stand your ground against such tactics. After all, you expect health professionals to know what they're talking about, and to give you the best advice possible.
When it comes to cancer prevention however, many doctors are just as brainwashed as the average person on the street, having succumbed to industry propaganda that downplays or ignores research conflicting with their profit-based agenda.
Mounting research shows that more women are being harmed by regular mammograms than are saved by them. In light of such facts, avoiding an annual mammogram is hardly an irresponsible act. Ditto for saying "no thanks" to 3D tomosynthesis, which exposes you to an even greater amount of cancer-causing radiation for virtually no benefit.
Please understand that there are other screening options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and you have a right to utilize those options. Also remember that in order to truly avoid breast cancer, you need to focus your attention on actual prevention and not just early detection.
By Dr. Mercola
In what could easily be classified as one of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) worst decisions yet, a final rule released by the EPA earlier this month creates an exemption for residue tolerance levels of genetically modified (GM) Bt toxin in GM soy foods and feed.1
Essentially, the Agency has approved unlimited residues of GM Bt toxin in your food! Generally, one of the EPA's regular responsibilities is to set a tolerance, or maximum residue limit, for pesticide residues on food, which are designed to protect you from harmful levels of pesticides.
By exempting Bt toxin residues from this, it "eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues" of this pesticide when it's incorporated into the plant. In other words, pesticide companies like Monsanto can incorporate as much as they want into your food… and that's all right with the EPA.How Can the EPA Claim Bt Residues Are Safe?
According to the EPA, they are "reasonably certain" that no harm will result from Americans consuming copious amounts of Bt-tainted foods (while this final rule relates to soy, similar exemptions for corn, cotton, and other foods have already been approved). The Agency stated:2
"…there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures [including drinking water] for which there is reliable information."
However, the EPA's assurances do little to quell the fact that in 2011, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:3
- 93 percent of pregnant women tested
- 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies
- 67 percent of non-pregnant women
The study authors speculated that the Bt toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class—which makes sense when you consider that GM corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, and other corn products.
They also suggested that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are.
These shocking results also raise the frightening possibility that eating Bt corn might actually turn your intestinal flora into a sort of "living pesticide factory," essentially manufacturing Bt toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis through the transference of the Bt-producing gene to your gut bacteria.
What makes this all the more relevant is that Monsanto and the EPA swore that the Bt toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers. Turns out they were wrong…The EPA Is Ignoring Another Crucial Fact: The Bt Toxin Is INSIDE the Plant
There is a major problem with the EPA's assertion that Bt crops are safe, and that is their decision to regard Bt toxin sprayed on plants as the same as plants genetically modified to produce Bt toxin from within. The two are not the same, nor are they equally safe, as the EPA would have you believe. As the EPA puts it:
"Bacillus thuringiensis, or simply Bt, is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that, when sprayed on plants, is toxic to certain pest insects. For years, farmers and home gardeners have used Bt as a microbial spray pesticide to control caterpillars, certain types of beetles, as well as mosquitoes and black flies."
Bt toxin has, in fact, been used in organic agriculture for decades as a natural pesticide. But this is very different from the way Bt toxin is being used in GM crops like corn and soy. As the EPA explains:
"More recently, scientists have developed techniques by which traits from the Bt bacterium, including its ability to resist pests, can be introduced into a plant. Specifically, scientists have identified the gene that produces the toxin in Bt and, through the use of biotechnology, have incorporated it into the genetic material of several plants. These Bt plants, which include corn, cotton, and potatoes, now synthesize their own bacterial protein to kill pests."GM Bt Toxins Are Not the Same as Topically Applied Bt Spray
Because farmers have used Bt toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for many years, biotech companies (and now the EPA) have claimed that Bt toxin has a "history of safe use in agriculture."
But there's a major difference between spraying it on plants, where it biodegrades in sunlight and can be carefully washed off, and genetically altering the plant to produce it internally. As reported by Colorado State University:4
"Bt is susceptible to degradation by sunlight. Most formulations persist on foliage less than a week following application. Some of the newer strains developed for leaf beetle control become ineffective in about 24 hours."
In other words, when Bt is applied to plants topically, it degrades quickly in the sunlight – typically after one week it is broken down (and sometimes as soon as 24 hours). GM Bt crops, however, have the Bt-toxin gene built-in, so the toxin is not broken down and cannot be washed off. You simply cannot avoid consuming it.
This is concerning, because even when natural Bt toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as those to cholera toxin and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless. According to Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:
"Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses. The EPA's own expert Scientific Advisory Panel said that these mouse and farm worker studies 'suggest that Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources.'
But the EPA ignored the warnings. They also overlooked studies showing that about 500 people in Washington state and Vancouver showed allergic and flu-like symptoms when they were exposed to the spray when it was used to kill gypsy moths."
Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray. So if Bt genes are indeed capable of transferring horizontally to the bacteria colonizing the human digestive tract, scientists believe it could reasonably result in:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Autoimmune diseases
- Food allergies
- Childhood learning disorders
There's already plenty of evidence showing that the Bt toxin produced in GM corn (and soy and cotton plants) is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. For example, in government-sponsored research in Italy, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses, such as:5
- Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections
- An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease to MS and cancer
- Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases
Rats fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn varieties called MON 863, also experienced an activation of their immune systems, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells.6 These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of liver and kidney toxicity. Aside from the potential human health risks, the EPA is apparently also ignoring those to the environment. Reduced insecticide use has been touted as one of the significant benefits of GM crops like Bt corn. But they do not include the Bt toxin produced in every cell of GM Bt crops as part of the total human pesticide exposure (and now there will not even be any type of required upper limit).
This is arguably criminal misrepresentation! These unnaturally modified GM crops have led to resistance, both in weeds and pests, leaving farmers to struggle with an increasingly difficult situation. Now, instead of the reduction in insecticide use that has been promised, the use of insecticides is on the rise as farmers try to find some solution for these resistant pests.
A scientific advisory panel to the EPA actually urged that large refuges of non-Bt corn be required in order to help prevent resistance. They suggested that only half of a farmer's corn acres be planted with Bt corn. The EPA, as they often do, went against the advisory panel's advice and instead sided with Monsanto. They allowed Bt corn to be planted on 80 percent of their corn acreage, and, in 2011, the first report of field-evolved resistance to Bt toxin by the western corn rootworm was published,7 with resistance only set to worsen in the years ahead.EPA Also Approved an Increase in Food Residues of Glyphosate
If there were any doubt whose side the EPA is on, last year they also raised the allowed residue limits of glyphosate in food and feed crops. Glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup – has also been linked to human and environmental harms.
According to one study, glyphosate residues, found in most commonly consumed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GM sugar, corn, soy, and wheat, "enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease."8
Despite the evidence – and the growing incidence of glyphosate-resistant weeds and pests -- the EPA concluded that "there is a reasonable certainly that no harm will result to the general population or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to glyphosate residues." Sound familiar? It's virtually the same false reassurance they issued this month upon allowing unlimited amounts of Monsanto's GM Bt toxin in your food supply.We're Donating Our Sales Today to Help Fight the Spread of GM Crops in Jackson County, Oregon
A ballot measure to prohibit GM crops in Jackson County, Oregon has been introduced by organic farmers, who are afraid that GM sugar beets will taint their organic crops through cross-pollination. Jackson County is a major source of GM sugar beet seeds, which are used to produce a significant portion of commercial sugar beet seed used across the United States.
The measure will appear before Jackson County voters on the May primary ballot – so if you live in this area, please get out to vote. In the meantime, the sugar industry and other agribusiness giants have come out in droves to try to defeat the measure. Already, the opposition has donated tens of thousands of dollars to mount an pro-GMO campaign, including:9
- $25,000 from the Oregon Farm Bureau
- $20,000 from the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
- $10,000 from American Crystal Sugar, Co.
- $10,000 from Sidney Sugars
To date, the organic farmers supporting the GM ban have not reported any raised money to defeat this corporate opposition – so we want to help them get started.
Today, we are trying to raise $15,000 through sales to donate to the campaign against GM crops in Jackson County. If you've been meaning to make a purchase, today is the day to do so to help this important campaign. If GM crops are banned in Jackson County, it could be a turning point for the US, with other regions soon following suit. You may also make a donation directly to the Vote YES on Measure 15-119 here.
And as always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically modified foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GM ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.
More Americans Are Saying “No” to Water Fluoridation While Toxic Fluorinated Pesticides Are Still Allowed
By Dr. Mercola
Study after study confirms that fluoride is a dangerous, toxic poison that bioaccumulates in your body while being ineffective at preventing dental decay… yet it continues to be added to many municipal water supplies in the US.
Yet even as we continue on with this more than six decades-old debate, I have encouraging news from the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) to share.
More Americans are wising up to the risks of water fluoridation, and they’re using their votes to keep this fertilizer-industry byproduct out of their drinking water (the fluoride added to municipal water supplies is a toxic byproduct from the fertilizer industry—a rarely discussed fact!).5 Fluoride-Free Victories to Celebrate Already in 2014
Despite compelling scientific evidence against the practice, the US still lags far behind other nations in acknowledging the mistake of water fluoridation and ending this tragic “public health” measure.
As a result, individual communities around the US have taken up the fight to end water fluoridation in their own local areas. Around the world, even more countries are also opting to go fluoride-free. The latest fluoride-free victories include:1
1. Wellington, Florida: After hours of debate and testimony from medical experts and residents, council members voted to end 14 years of fluoridation. A number of pro-fluoride dentists are unfortunately working to overturn the council’s vote, but it’s still a victory for now. FAN reported:2
“Ultimately, a majority of councilors agreed that citizens shouldn’t be forced to ingest an unnecessary chemical in the public drinking water supply.”
2. Amherst County, Virginia: The Service Authority Board voted to discontinue fluoridation because of conflicting opinions on what constitutes “optimal” levels of fluoride. According to FAN, “Several Board Supervisors felt that the additive was unnecessary and a waste of resources.”
3. Woodsville, Oregon: The Woodsville City Council was considering adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water, but after polling residents found that 100% of respondents were against it. They have since ended their fluoridation discussions.
4. Sebastopol, California: City Councilors voted unanimously against fluoridation in Sonoma County because of concerns the fluoride could leach into their groundwater from surrounding communities, putting residents at risk.
5. Bantry, Ireland: Town Councilors voted unanimously for an immediate end to fluoridation throughout Ireland.
So far in 2014, it looks like the trend against water fluoridation that started in recent years is gaining speed. In 2013, fluoridation was rejected by voters in Wichita, Kansas and Portland, Oregon. Israel also announced it will end its mandatory fluoridation program, and Ireland even proposed legislation that would make water fluoridation a criminal offense!
Canada has also seen a 25 percent drop in fluoridation programs over the past five years as a result of increasing public awareness about the associated dangers, and it seems such awareness is only on the rise.Why Are So Many People Now Against Water Fluoridation?
If you’re new to this issue, you may be wondering why so many municipalities are striking down water-fluoridation efforts. Available research clearly shows that:
- Water fluoridation does not work to prevent cavities
- Fluoride works when topically applied only (and even then not dramatically so)
- There are unacceptable risks involved in the practice of water fluoridation
If you live in an area that fluoridates water, and you drink from the municipal water supply, you’re being exposed to a highly toxic drug-like substance every time you take a sip.
This is reckless, as you cannot control the dose ingested, or who receives it, and there’s no medical supervision. Water fluoridation clearly violates your right to informed consent as far as medical decisions go, and it may also be making future generations less intelligent across the board -- there are at least 25 studies showing that fluoride reduces IQ in children!
There is not a single process in your body that requires fluoride, but swallowing this toxin has been found to damage your soft tissues (brain, kidneys, and endocrine system), as well as teeth (dental fluorosis) and bones (skeletal fluorosis). It’s also known that over time, fluoride accumulates in many areas of your body, including areas of your brain that control and alter behavior, particularly your pineal gland, hippocampus, and other limbic areas.
One particularly striking animal study showed that fluoride ingestion had a profound influence on the animals' brains and altered behavior.3 Pregnant rats given fluoride produced hyperactive offspring. And animals given fluoride after birth became apathetic, lethargic "couch potatoes." Other research has linked fluoride toxicity with the wide-ranging problems listed below.Increases lead absorption Disrupts collagen synthesis Increases manganese absorption, which is also linked to lower IQ in children Crippling skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures Genetic damage and cell death Increased tumor and cancer growth Disrupts immune system Inhibits antibody production Brain damage and lowered IQ Dementia Arthritis Severe eye problems, including blindness Impaired thyroid function Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) Inactivates 62 enzymes Muscle disorders Farm Bill Reverses the Planned Phase-Out of Toxic Sulfuryl Fluoride
While it’s encouraging that US cities and other countries are taking action to end this dangerous practice, earlier this month the Agricultural Act of 2014 (better known as the “Farm Bill”) was passed. Unfortunately, it includes language that reverses the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed phase-out of sulfuryl fluoride. The reversal was added in the eleventh hour after intense lobbying by the National Pest Management Association and Dow AgroSciences. The language states:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall exclude non-pesticideal sources of fluoride from any aggregate exposure assessment required under section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 346a) when assessing tolerances associated with residues from the pesticide.”
The idea of using sulfuryl fluoride, a toxic food fumigant, is extremely worrying as it not only leaves toxic residues on food, but can be lethal to humans in its pure gas form—the form in which it is applied to the food. According to Dr. Paul Connett, PhD, a chemist and executive director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), people have died during the application of the fumigant.
When applied to food, it breaks down into free fluoride. Many American children are already heavily overexposed to fluoride, so this added source of exposure can only worsen matters. (Organic foods do not permit its use.) According to Dr. Connett, there’s every reason to be concerned about the use of sulfuryl fluoride gas on food, because some of the fluoride residues allowed by the EPA are “astronomical.”
For example, the EPA was allowing 120 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride on wheat flour. Wheat flour is consumed in so many foods on a daily basis by most people that you not only need to be concerned about chronic effects of low-level fluoride intake, but also with its acute effects. Dr. Connett goes so far as to say that you could potentially be in serious trouble simply by eating a pizza made from a recently fumigated batch of wheat flour.Send a Letter to Your Local Newspaper to Warn About the Use of Sulfuryl Fluoride
The EPA’s plan to phase out sulfuryl fluoride was a major victory but Dow AgroSciences (which makes the fumigant ProFume®, which is 99.8 percent sulfuryl fluoride) has been relentless in trying to reverse the plan. First, they tried to introduce an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have allowed them to continue using sulfuryl fluoride, which meant subverting the EPA for doing its job. Congress kept that amendment out. But, Dow came back again, this time using the 2014 House Appropriations Bill to cut back a lot of EPA’s work, including that relating to sulfuryl fluoride. According to FAN:
“The U.S. will now remain one of only two countries in the world that allows this highly toxic fumigant to be sprayed directly on food, leaving unsafe levels of fluoride residue to be eaten by consumers and putting infants and children at risk of exceeding the EPA’s own reference dose for fluoride. Please take a few moments to use our automated system to send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper educating your neighbors about the terrible sulfuryl fluoride provision in the farm bill. We should at least warn everyone, and use this opportunity to call for an end to fluoridation.”
If you drink fluoridated water, it makes sense to try to increase your intake of lycopene and other dietary antioxidants to potentially decrease the fluoride’s toxicity. One study found that fluoride administration induced oxidative stress, but when lycopene, an antioxidant, was also given, it helped to minimize the toxic effects of fluoride.4 Lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and watermelons a pink or red color has long been suggested to be more powerful than that of other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. It’s found in tomatoes (especially cooked tomatoes), apricots, guavas, watermelons, papayas, and pink grapefruits.
Another option is to purchase a water filter that removes fluoride. The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, "activated carbon" filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride. You can get more information from FAN on fluoride and water filters here. You can also help to take action to get fluoride out of drinking water on a larger scale.Join the Fight to Get Fluoride Out of Drinking Water
There's no doubt about it: fluoride should not be ingested. Even scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.” Furthermore, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis—unattractive discoloration and mottling of the teeth that indicate overexposure to fluoride. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why?
At least when it comes to topical application, you have a choice. You can easily buy fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash. But you're stuck with whatever your community puts in the water, and it's very difficult to filter out of your water once it's added. Many do not have the resources or the knowledge to do so.
The only real solution is to stop the archaic practice of water fluoridation in the first place. Fortunately, the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the US and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today.
By Dr. Mercola
Did you know that dentist offices are the largest source of mercury in wastewater entering publicly-owned treatment works?
Once there, dental mercury converts to methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury known to be hazardous to brain and nervous system function, particularly in fetuses and young children.
Mercury is extremely tenacious once in the air, water, and soil; levels gradually increase over time, as it accumulates. It's no wonder then that contaminated fish and other seafood are the largest dietary source of mercury in the US, courtesy of polluted waterways.
In 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would create a rule requiring dentists who use dental amalgam to conduct best management practices and install amalgam separators.
An amalgam separator is a wastewater treatment device installed at the source, in the dental office, that removes 95-99 percent of the mercury in the wastewater. As originally proposed, EPA said the regulation would be finalized by 2012.1 Such a rule would be a step toward making dentists accountable for future environmental damage caused by their archaic pro-amalgam stance.
Amalgam is primitive polluting pre-Civil War product, one that the invasive process of damaging and removing good tooth matter. The alternatives are minimally-invasive, requiring no such draconian process. Plainly, 21st-century dentistry is mercury-free dentistry.Why Is the EPA's Mercury Rule at a Stand-Still?
It appeared in 2010 that EPA would move forward to draft a rule, but in fact the rule continues to suffer from a long string of delays and excuses for not being brought forth.
At least eleven states—including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Oregon, and Michigan—require dentists to use amalgam separators to reduce mercury discharges. There, the system works fine; it does not raise the cost of dental care, but it does lower environmental pollution.
Do pro-mercury dentists in the other 39 states buy separators? Hardly. If they are putting mercury into children's mouths, and calling them silver fillings, why would they act responsibly toward the environment?
That's why we need a ruling by the EPA -- to apply to all states and territories.
Even the otherwise pro-mercury American Dental Association (ADA) amended its best management practices (BMPs) in 2007 to endorse amalgam separators as an effective tool to reduce mercury discharges in dental offices in November 2013, the US government became the first country to both sign and accept the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, which covers dental amalgam. (The ADA actually fought hard to keep amalgam out of Annex C, the part of the treaty that will be regularly reviewed and can be easily amended, but they didn't succeed. The Convention thus has a path to a full amalgam phase-out, a point well-known to both sides)
Internal documents now reveal that EPA will announce it has no intention of ever proposing its amalgam rule. This abandonment of the public trust has ADA footprints all over it... Thus:
- You, and other members of the public, will not have the chance to comment on the EPA's mercury rule
- Dentists will not be held accountable for their mercury dumping
- Our children will suffer the consequences
This is unconscionable. Charlie Brown and Consumers for Dental Choice have created a petition demanding the EPA immediately release its mercury amalgam rule for public comment. I hope you will take a moment to sign this petition right now.
Abandoning the long-promised separator rule is a horrid decision. It hands American dentists carte blanche to pollute without accountability, passing the costs onto not only taxpayers to clean it up, but to families whose children are affected by dental mercury in the water (and hence fish), air (via cremation), and soil (and hence, our vegetables).
Furthermore, based on the EPA's promise to act, the environmental protection community stopped pushing for individual state mandates, of which there were about a dozen in the works. By backing off and relying on the EPA to move forward, years have been wasted waiting for what might never happen.
Just what kind of message is the US sending to the international community when, just 90 days after being the first to accept the Minamata Convention, it tosses in the towel and reneges on a four-year old promise to address dental mercury wastewater pollution?Indiana Department of Environmental Management Calls for Action Against Polluting Dentists
According to the featured article,2 the Indiana Department of Environmental Management sent a letter to the city of Elkhart on December 31, 2013, alerting it to mercury levels in its treatment plant exceeding the allowable limit of 1.6 nanograms per liter (ng/L). The limit had been exceeded in June, August, and October that year. The highest reading measured in at 4.4 ng/L. As reported in the article:
"Laura Kolo, utility services manager for the Elkhart public Works and Utilities Department, said the city must act on the violation... and will focus on dentists' offices because Elkhart doesn't have any industrial operations that could be behind the mercury. She noted in a response letter to IDEM that a 2002 report had found dental clinics are the primary source of mercury emissions at public wastewater treatment plants."
Kolo estimates the draft for a voluntary amalgam separator program in Elkhart will be finished by late June. If program compliance ends up being low, the program could become mandatory.
Today, dentists make a higher income than physicians. The cost to them of a separator? About what they make in a single chair in a single day.Dental Amalgam Is the Leading Intentional Use of Mercury in US
Dental amalgam, a tooth filling material that is 50 percent mercury, is the leading intentional use of mercury in the US (this despite the fact that 52 percent of American dentists have stopped using amalgams.) Dental offices generate a variety of amalgam waste3 that gets flushed down the drain, unless dentists implement best management practices and dentists install and properly maintain amalgam separators. Such practices will collect:
- Scrap amalgam
- Used, leaking or unusable amalgam capsules
- Amalgam captured in chairside traps and vacuum pump screens
- "Contact amalgam," including teeth with amalgam restorations
There's a growing global consensus that dental amalgams is a considerable source of environmental mercury pollution. Several studies show that about 50 percent of the mercury entering municipal wastewater treatment plants can be traced back to dental amalgam waste.
This mercury waste amounts to about 3.7 TONS each year! An estimated 90 percent is captured by the treatment plants generally via sewage sludge.4 -- some of which ends up in landfills, while other portions are incinerated (thereby pollution the air) or applied as agricultural fertilizer (polluting your food), or seep into waterways (polluting fish and wildlife).
Amalgam is far more costly for taxpayers than the alternative tooth-colored material, when the external costs to the environment and society are factored in. A recent study details how society pays for dental mercury through additional pollution control costs, deterioration of public resources, and the health effects associated with mercury. It shows that when these costs are considered, amalgam is more costly than composite as a filling material, by at least $41 more per filling.5
So EPA inaction means our government is enriching the dentists who use amalgam in the 39 states that don't require separators. The polluter does not pay. With costs lower, it is more profitable to place mercury amalgam -- and amalgam use will grow, not shrink. More American children, not fewer, will receive mercury in their mouths because our government takes sides -- in favor of the polluters.
One would think EPA would look kindly toward dentists who do not use mercury, who are not creating a toxic workplace, who are not dumping mercury into the environment, and most of all are not putting mercury into their patients' teeth.
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/dental-fillings.jpg" alt="dental fillings infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"> <p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover interesting facts about avocado, including its uses and benefits, through the infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/mercury-dental-fillings.htm">Mercury Dental Fillings: By the Numbers</a>". Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p> <pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code><img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/dental-fillings.jpg" alt="dental fillings infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover more about mercury and how you can get this toxic, bioaccumulative substance from your dentist through our infographic <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/mercury-dental-fillings.htm">Mercury Dental Fillings: By the Numbers</a> Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p></code></pre>
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.A Call to Action
Why should we be forced to pay when irresponsible dentists who still use mercury could easily and relatively inexpensively install amalgam separators, which catch most of the mercury before it goes down the drain? At present, the EPA is letting them get away with it, and it's high time for that to change.
I urge you to take a stand with us and tell the EPA not to let polluting dentists off the hook: It's time to stop dental mercury dumping.
The mystery here is the position of EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy. A few years ago, she was the hard-charging environmental commissioner in Connecticut, and before that a deputy in Massachusetts. Back in her days in state government, she clamped down on dentists, requiring not only separators, but posted disclosures in dental offices advising parents and consumers that amalgam is mainly mercury, that it is a health risk, and that alternatives are available. But now the question for the new EPA Administrator is, will she do what she believes it right, based on her experience as a state regular, or will she succumb to the inside game in Washington? With your help maybe McCarthy will return to being as tough on dental mercury -- as she when posted in Hartford and Boston. To learn more about dental mercury and its risks, as well as keep abreast of the latest news on the EPA's mercury rule, please see the following sources:
By Dr. Mercola
Many people carefully tend to the skin on their face, regularly exfoliating, cleansing, and moisturizing. But when’s the last time you tended to the skin on the rest of your body?
Your skin is your largest organ, after all, and there is one simple step you can add to your morning routine that can greatly improve its health – dry skin brushing.
I’m not only referring to your skin’s aesthetic appearance, either (although many would agree this is important to). The benefits of dry skin brushing go beyond skin deep, offering whole-body benefits to your health.Dry Skin Brushing: 7 Key Benefits
Your skin is a complex system made up of nerves, glands, and cell layers that, when healthy, serves as a buffer that helps protect your body from extreme temperatures and chemicals.
It also produces antibacterial substances to protect you from infection and enables your body to produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Your skin even contains densely packed nerve cells that act as messengers to your brain, making your skin a crucial part of your interactions with the world around you.
Another crucial role your skin plays is supporting optimal detoxification. But if your skin is overrun with toxins or dead skin cells, it will not be able to eliminate wastes from your body efficiently.
This is where dry skin brushing can be invaluable, not only in brushing off dead skin cells but also in activating waste removal via your lymph nodes. Beyond this, dry skin brushing offers multiple benefits including:
1. Stimulate Your Lymphatic System
In your body, your lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating cellular waste products. Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage.
When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick. Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. By stimulating your lymphatic system and helping it release toxins, dry skin brushing is a powerful detoxification aid.
Dry skin brushing removes dead dry skin, improving appearance, clearing your clogged pores, and allowing your skin to “breathe.”
3. Increase Circulation
When you dry brush your skin, it increases circulation to your skin, which encourages the elimination of metabolic waste.
4. Reduce Cellulite
Dry skin brushing may help to soften hard fast deposits below the skin while distributing fat deposits more evenly. This may help to diminish the appearance of cellulite.
Dry brushing is also said to help reduce cellulite by removing toxins that may break down connective tissue, although some believe the effect is temporary (and mostly a result of skin become more plump and swollen after brushing).1 The Huffington Post reported:2
“When we'd heard dry skin brushing was an effective method for reducing cellulite, we knew we had to include it in our anti-cellulite road test. Sure enough, it was indeed one of the more successful ways to smooth away less-than-perfect spots on your legs.”
5. Stress Relief
The act of dry brushing has been described as meditative (especially if you do it in a quiet space) and may reduce muscle tension, calm your mind, and relieve stress. Many compare it to a light whole-body massage.
6. Improve Digestion and Kidney Function
Dry skin brushing may go even deeper, helping to support your digestion and organ function. According to one skin care and spa expert:3
“…many naturopathic doctors use dry brushing to help with bloating because massaging the lymph nodes helps the body shed excess water and toxins. One of the immediate effects of dry brushing is smoother skin, but it can also help improve digestion, kidney function, and more.”
7. It’s Invigorating
Many people become “addicted” to dry skin brushing (in a good way) because it simply feels so good. Along with glowing and tighter skin, regular dry skin brushers report feeling invigorated after a quick session.Dry Brushing: How to Do It
First you’ll need a high-quality dry brush. Look for one with bristles made from natural materials. They should feel stiff but not overly so. Ideally, choose a brush with a long handle so you can reach your entire back and other hard-to-reach spots.
Dry skin brushing should be done daily for best results, or even twice a day if you like. Try incorporating it into your normal daily routine, such as doing your brushing before your morning shower and then again after work (avoid doing it too close to bedtime, as it may leave you feeling energized).
When brushing, always brush toward your heart, which is best for circulation and your lymphatic system. You can brush your entire body (including the soles of your feet). Start at your feet and work your way up your legs to your arms, chest, back, and stomach. Avoid brushing your face (unless you have a special brush designed for this delicate skin), your genitals, or any areas with irritations or abrasions (including varicose veins).
The pressure you apply while brushing your skin should be firm but not painful (avoid “scrubbing”). Your skin should be pink after a session (not red or irritated) and you can brush for as long (or as little) as you’d like. An average dry brushing session may last between two and 20 minutes.Try It… You’ll Probably Get Hooked
The investment in dry skin brushing is small – you can find a high-quality brush for under $20) – but the pay-off is large. If you’ve never tried it, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. As one new devotee described in the Examiner:4
“I’ve only been at this for about two weeks, but I’ve already experienced many of the benefits listed above. For one thing, dry skin brushing just feels really good. It’s one of those miraculous practices that manages to be both relaxing and energizing all at the same time. For another, it cured my cellulite! …Dry skin brushing also helped heal some ingrown hairs and some innocuous though unsightly bumps on my arms. My skin is softer and no longer dry or flakey. Additionally, though I’m not sure whether or not it’s related to dry skin brushing, I must say that I’ve been sleeping better and experiencing less ‘brain fog’ throughout the day!”A Surefire Plan for Flawless Skin
Eating a healthy diet as described in my nutrition plan, which focuses on whole, bioavailable organic foods, is your number one strategy for helping your body detox naturally while supplying the necessary nutrients your skin needs to thrive. Adding dry brushing on top of a healthful diet will only magnify its benefits. That said, certain foods are particularly effective at promoting beautiful, clear, healthy skin, so if you’re not yet eating the following on a regular basis, now is a great time to start:
- Animal-based omega-3 fats
- Vegetables: Ideally fresh, organic, and locally grown. Fresh vegetable juice is also wonderful for your skin, as are carotenoids, which give red, orange, and yellow fruits their color, and also occur in green vegetables. Studies have shown that eating foods with these deeply colored pigments can make your face actually look healthier than being tanned.
- Fermented vegetables are even better as they can be made with the same vegetables but are converted by bacteria into superfoods. Fermented vegetables help promote the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria and aid in immune balance and digestion.
- Astaxanthin—a potent antioxidant—has been found to offer effective protection against sun damage when taken as a daily supplement. Some sunscreens are also starting to use astaxanthin as an ingredient to protect your skin from damage.
Once you’ve addressed the dietary suggestions above, the following routine can help you to remove excess flakes to reveal the glowing skin underneath:
- Use a dry body brush to get rid of flakes, stimulate your lymphatic system, and more as described above (do this for a few minutes on your dry skin, before getting wet)
- Avoid using soap or use the least amount possible, especially in winter or in dry climates, as this may promote and aggravate dry skin
- Instead, apply a natural body scrub to exfoliate your skin (also apply this to your skin before getting wet, and choose one that also contains oil to moisturize)
- After your shower, apply a heavy natural body butter or natural moisturizing oil (not mineral oil or baby oil) to help seal in moisture; coconut oil works well for this purpose
By Dr. Mercola
Three decades ago, the food available was mostly fresh and grown locally. Today, the majority of foods served, whether at home, in school or in restaurants, are highly processed foods, filled with sugars, harmful processed fats, and chemical additives.
During that same time, obesity rates have skyrocketed, and one in five American deaths are now associated with obesity. Obesity-related deaths include those from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, dementia, and depression, as nearly all have metabolic dysfunction as a common underlying factor.
The featured1 article contains 11 telling charts and graphs, illustrating how the modern diet has led to an avalanche of chronic disease. As its author, Kris Gunnars says:
"The modern diet is the main reason why people all over the world are fatter and sicker than ever before. Everywhere modern processed foods go, chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease soon follow."Sugar Consumption, Especially Soda and Juices, Drives Disease Rates
Of all the dietary culprits out there, refined sugar in general, and processed fructose in particular, win top billing as the greatest destroyers of health. The amount of refined sugar in the modern diet has ballooned, with the average American now getting about 350 calories a day (equivalent to about 22 teaspoons of sugar and 25 percent of their daily calories) from added sugar.
This level of sugar consumption has definitive health consequences. One recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine,2 which examined the associations between added sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths, found that:
- Among American adults, the mean percentage of daily calories from added sugar was 14.9 percent in 2005-2010
- Most adults (just over 71 percent) get 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar
- Approximately 10 percent of American adults got 25 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar in 2005-2010
- The most common sources of added sugar are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, and candy
According to this study, those who consume 21 percent or more of their daily calories in the form of sugar are TWICE as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who get seven percent or less or their daily calories from added sugar.
Needless to say, with all this added sugar in the diet, average calorie consumption has skyrocketed as well, having increased by about 20 percent since 1970.
A primary source of all this added sugar is soda, fruit juices, and other sweetened drinks. Multiple studies have confirmed that these kinds of beverages dramatically increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mortality. Diet sodas or artificially sweetened foods and beverages are no better, as research reveals they appear to do even MORE harm than refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), including causing greater weight gain.Abandoning Traditional Fats for Processed Vegetable Oils Has Led to Declining Health
Fats help your body absorb important vitamins, including vitamins A, D, and E, and fats are especially important for infants and toddlers for proper growth and development. Moreover, when your body burns non-vegetable carbohydrates like grains and sugars, powerful adverse hormonal changes typically occur. These detrimental changes do not occur when you consume healthy fats or fibrous vegetables.
As explained by Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose in particular is "isocaloric but not isometabolic," which means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count. Furthermore, saturated fats, although supplying more calories, will NOT actually cause you to get fat, nor will it promote heart disease.
Unfortunately, the healthiest fats, including animal fats and coconut oil, both of which are saturated, have been long portrayed as a heart attack waiting to happen. Meanwhile, harmful hydrogenated vegetable oils such as corn and canola oil have been touted as "healthful" alternatives. Ditto for margarine.
Boy, did they get this wrong. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The hydrogenation process creates incredibly harmful trans fats, which the US Food and Drug Administration is now finally considering banning altogether. (I'll review the health hazards of trans fats in further detail below.) Clearly, switching from lard and grass-fed butter—which contains heart-protective nutrients—to margarine and other trans-fat rich hydrogenated oils was a public health experiment that has not ended well.Low-Fat Fad Has Done Unfathomable Harm
Conventional recommendations have also called for dramatically decreasing the overall amount of fat in your diet, and this fat aversion is yet another driving factor of metabolic disease and chronic ill health. As I and other nutritional experts have warned, most people (especially if you're insulin or leptin resistant, which encompasses about 80 percent of Americans) probably need upwards of 50-85 percent of daily calories from healthful fats. This is a FAR cry from the less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats recommended by the US Department of Agriculture.3 As stated in the featured article:
"The first dietary guidelines for Americans were published in the year 1977, almost at the exact same time the obesity epidemic started. Of course, this doesn't prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), but it makes sense that this could be more than just a mere coincidence.
The anti-fat message essentially put the blame on saturated fat and cholesterol (harmless), while giving sugar and refined carbs (very unhealthy) a free pass. Since the guidelines were published, many massive studies have been conducted on the low-fat diet. It is no better at preventing heart disease, obesity or cancer than the standard Western diet, which is as unhealthy as a diet can get."
There's no telling how many have been prematurely killed by following these flawed low-fat guidelines, yet despite mounting research refuting the value of cutting out fats, such recommendations are still being pushed.Increased Vegetable Oil Consumption Has Altered Americans' Fatty Acid Composition
The increased consumption of processed vegetable oils has also led to a severely lopsided fatty acid composition, as these oils provide high amounts of omega-6 fats. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is 1:1, but the typical Western diet is between 1:20 and 1:50. Eating too much damaged omega-6 fat and too little omega-3 sets the stage for the very health problems you seek to avoid, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, just to name a few. To correct this imbalance, you typically need to do two things:
- Significantly decrease omega-6 by avoiding processed foods and foods cooked at high temperatures using vegetable oils
- Increase your intake of heart-healthy animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
About 95 percent of soy is genetically engineered to have resistance to glyphosate and is loaded with this highly toxic herbicide. But even if you have organic soy, most of it is hydrogenated. Hydrogenated soybean oil has, like sugar, become a major source of calories in the US diet. Americans consume more than 28 billion pounds of edible oils annually, and soybean oil accounts for about 65 percent of it. About half of it is hydrogenated, as soybean oil is too unstable otherwise to be used in food manufacturing. In 1999, soybean oil accounted for seven percent of consumed daily calories in the US.
Part of the problem with partially hydrogenated soybean oil is the trans fat it contains. The other part relates to the health hazards of soy itself. An added hazard factor is the fact that the majority of soybeans are genetically engineered. The completely unnatural fats created through the partial hydrogenation process cause dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level, and studies have linked trans-fats to:Cancer, by interfering with enzymes your body uses to fight cancer Chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, auto-immune disease, cancer, and bone degeneration Diabetes, by interfering with the insulin receptors in your cell membranes Heart disease, by clogging your arteries (Among women with underlying coronary heart disease, eating trans-fats increased the risk of sudden cardiac arrest three-fold!) Decreased immune function, by reducing your immune response Increase blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol Reproductive problems, by interfering with enzymes needed to produce sex hormones Interfering with your body's use of beneficial omega-3 fats
Besides the health hazards related to the trans fats, soybean oil is, in and of itself, NOT a healthy oil. Add to that the fact that the majority of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered, which may have additional health consequences. When taken together, partially hydrogenated GE soybean oil becomes one of the absolute worst types of oils you can consume. Unfortunately, as stated in the featured article:4
"[M]ost people don't have a clue they're eating this much soybean oil. They're actually getting most of it from processed foods, which often have soybean oil added to them because it is cheap. The best way to avoid soybean oil (and other nasty ingredients) is to avoid processed foods."Wheat - A Bane of the Modern Diet
Modern wheat is not the same kind of wheat your grandparents ate. The nutritional content of this staple grain has been dramatically altered over the years and is now far less nutritious than the varieties of generations past. As Gunnars states:5
"Modern dwarf wheat was introduced around the year 1960, which contains 19-28 percent less of important minerals like Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, and Copper. There is also evidence that modern wheat is much more harmful to celiac patients and people with gluten sensitivity, compared to older breeds like Einkorn wheat. Whereas wheat may have been relatively healthy back in the day, the same is not true of modern dwarf wheat."
Wheat lectin, or "wheat germ agglutinin" (WGA), is largely responsible for many of wheat's pervasive ill effects. WGA is highest in whole wheat, especially sprouted whole wheat, but wheat isn't the only grain with significant lectin. All seeds of the grass family (rice, wheat, spelt, rye, etc.) are high in lectins. WGA has the potential to damage your health by the following mechanisms (list is not all-inclusive):Pro-Inflammatory: WGA lectin stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers, even at very small concentrations Neurotoxic: WGA lectin can pass through your blood-brain barrier and attach to the protective coating on your nerves, known as the myelin sheath. It is also capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain neurons Immunotoxic: WGA lectin may bind to and activate white blood cells Cardiotoxic: WGA lectin induces platelet aggregation and has a potent disruptive effect on tissue regeneration and removal of neutrophils from your blood vessels Cytotoxic (toxic to cells): WGA lectin may induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) Research also shows that WGA may disrupt endocrine and gastrointestinal function, interfere with genetic expression, and share similarities with certain viruses Flawed Assumptions About Eggs Have Worsened Health
According to USDA data, Americans ate more than 375 eggs per person per year, on average, in 1950. Egg consumption dipped to just over 225 eggs per capita between 1995 and 2000, and as of 2007, it was just over 250 eggs per capita per year—a 33 percent decline since 1950.
Like saturated fats, many naturally cholesterol-rich foods have also been wrongfully vilified. Eggs, which are actually among the most nutritious foods you can eat (provided they come from organically raised, pastured hens) have long been accused of causing heart disease simply because they're high in cholesterol. But dietary cholesterol has little to do with the cholesterol level in your body, and numerous studies have confirmed that eating eggs does NOT raise potentially adverse LDL cholesterol in your blood. Studies have also failed to find any evidence that eggs contribute to heart disease.
Testing6 has confirmed that true free-range 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 a 2007 egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture, and found that the latter typically contains:
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
- Three times more vitamin E
- Seven times more beta-carotene
Barring organic certification, which is cost-prohibitive for many small farmers, you could just make sure the farmer raises his chickens according to organic, free-range standards, allowing his flock to forage freely for their natural diet, and aren't fed antibiotics, corn, and soy.
You can tell the eggs are free range or pastured by the color of the egg yolk. Foraged hens produce eggs with bright orange yolks. Dull, pale yellow yolks are a sure sign you're getting eggs from caged hens that are not allowed to forage for their natural diet. Cornucopia.org offers a helpful organic egg scorecard that rates egg manufacturers based on 22 criteria that are important for organic consumers. According to Cornucopia, their report "showcases ethical family farms, and their brands, and exposes factory farm producers and brands in grocery store coolers that threaten to take over organic livestock agriculture."People Eat More Processed Food Than Ever Before
Overall, about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods.7 This includes restaurant foods (i.e. food away from home) and processed grocery foods that require little or no preparation time before consuming at home.
When looking at the ratio of money spent on store-bought groceries only, Americans spend nearly a fourth of their grocery money on processed foods and sweets—twice as much as they did in 1982—according to Department of Labor statistics.8 Pricing of meats, sugar, and flour has had a great influence our spending habits. These items have actually seen a decrease in price per pound, which has had an inverse effect on Americans' spending habits, in that cheaper prices encourage people to buy more.
The result is obvious. Compared with shoppers 30 years ago, American adults today are twice as likely to be obese, and children and adolescent three times as likely to be overweight. Pediatric type 2 diabetes—which used to be very rare—has markedly increased along with the rise in early childhood obesity. According to previous research, early onset type 2 diabetes appears to be a more aggressive disease from a cardiovascular standpoint.9Take Control of Your Health
Research coming out of some of America's most respected institutions now confirms that sugar is a primary dietary factor driving chronic disease development. Sugar, and fructose in particular, has been implicated as a culprit in the development of both heart disease and cancer, and having this information puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to prevention. A diet that promotes health is high in healthful fats and very, very low in sugar and non-vegetable carbohydrates.
Understand that excessive sugar/fructose consumption leads to insulin resistance, and insulin resistance appears to be the root of many if not most chronic disease. So far, scientific studies have linked excessive fructose consumption to about 78 different diseases and health problems,10 including heart disease and cancer.
Many also eat far too little healthy fat, and the combination of too much sugar and too little fat is driving disease rates through the roof. If you're still unsure about what constitutes a healthy diet, please review my free optimized nutrition plan, which starts at the beginner level and goes all the way up to advanced.
By Dr. Mercola
Your hormones have far-reaching effects in your body, and hormone deficiencies can therefore wreak total havoc on your health. The effects, of course, are dependent on the severity of your deficiency, and which hormone is being under-produced.
One of the most commonly known hormone deficiency scenarios is menopause, when hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help combat bothersome symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes.
But many doctors are also looking at hormone replacement as a general anti-aging strategy. Dr. Thierry Hertoghe,1 featured in the video above, is one of them.
Hormones also appear to influence age-related cognitive decline according to both previous and more recent research, which I’ll review in a moment. But first, I want to bring your attention to a critical point Dr. Hertoghe makes in his talk, which is that you can address many of your hormonal issues through proper diet.
In fact, addressing your food choices should be your first step, before you do anything else to reverse a deficiency.To Balance Your Hormones, Address Your Diet FIRST
Here are some of the highlights from Dr. Hertoghe’s talk. I highly recommend taking 20 minutes to listen to it in its entirety, as he covers quite a bit of ground in a short amount of time:
- The Paleolithic diet, which includes fermented and cultured foods, promotes healthy hormone levels, even as you age.
- Unsprouted grains, sugar or fructose decrease seven of the 12 most important hormones.
- Alcohol decreases your human growth hormone (HGH), one of your most potent built-in anti-aging hormones. Having just one alcoholic drink per day can decrease your HGH by 75 percent.
- Magnesium supplements improve your sex hormone levels, including your testosterone and HGH.
- High-quality protein from meat and fish, as well as healthy fats such as egg yolk, lard, and butter, will improve progesterone and DHEA secretion, as will an otherwise healthy Paleolithic (read: unprocessed, nutrient-rich organic) diet.
Progesterone can also be increased by several nutritional supplements, including vitamin A. As a general rule, fat-soluble vitamins will have a beneficial effect on sex hormones.
Side effects of hormone deficiencies really run the gamut depending on the hormone in question. DHEA deficiency, for example, leads to premature aging and lowers your ability to handle both physical and mental stress.
Common premenopausal challenges include PMS and painful cramps, while the most common menopausal complaints include hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Physical signs of HGH deficiency include droopy eyelids, saggy facial skin, thinning hair, and abdominal fat. Other signs include anxiety and chronic exhaustion.
But as I mentioned at the outset, research suggests that what is typically thought of as “age-related cognitive decline” brought on by atrophy may actually be the result of estrogen deficiency.
Research published late last year shows that the health of your brain’s synapses is closely linked to cognitive decline, and that the female hormone estrogen actually restores synaptic health, thereby improving memory. As reported by Medical News Today:2
“Age-related cognitive decline and changes in the nervous system are closely linked, but up until recently, they were thought to result from the loss of neurons in areas such as the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain important in working memory. A series of papers have shown that the "loss of neurons" concept is simply not true.”
The researchers studied the prefrontal cortex mitochondria of rhesus monkeys, and found that declining memory in aging monkeys was associated with a higher incidence of malformed mitochondria in the animals’ presynaptic terminals.
The mitochondria—which are the powerhouses that fuel your body's cells, including your brain cells—were doughnut shaped rather than straight, causing a weaker contact between synapses. Interestingly, estrogen treatment reversed this mitochondrial malformation, and improved working memory. One of the study’s authors, John Morrison, PhD, said:
"We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease.”
"We were excited to see that the occurrence of these donut-shaped mitochondria could be reversed with estrogen, which has known antioxidant effects,” co-author Yuko Hara, PhD added.Hormone Replacement—A Complex Topic
For all its benefits, hormone replacement is perhaps one of the most challenging areas of medicine. It’s a very complex topic, made even more challenging by the fact that medical recommendations have fluctuated back and forth when it comes to replacing hormones like estrogen in women suffering from symptoms of menopause and surgically induced medical menopause following a hysterectomy.
In the past, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was also widely prescribed for preventive purposes, based in part on early observational studies that had suggested it could help protect women against heart disease, weak bones, as well as dementia, which the study discussed above seems to confirm yet again. However, this analysis was done with non bioidentical human hormones.
All of that changed in 2002, when the 15-year long Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) abruptly ended its combination of estrogen and progestin therapy study, three years ahead of schedule. The reason?
Their data revealed higher rates of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots in the population taking the hormones, compared to those receiving a placebo. By 2003, prescriptions had dropped by 38 percent. Between 2001 and 2011, estrogen replacement therapy in women aged 50-59 dwindled by a whopping 79 percent.
Then, a study published last year3 suggested that denouncing the use of HRT across the board may have been a mistake, especially for women having undergone a hysterectomy. It found that conjugated estrogen therapy (Premarin) for women in premature surgical menopause was associated with “a decisive reduction in all-cause mortality,” primarily by reducing deadly heart attacks and deaths from breast cancer. The researchers estimated that anywhere from 18,600 to as many as 91,600 women in medical menopause may have died prematurely over the last decade as a result of avoiding estrogen replacement.4, 5
Hormone replacement therapy actually makes a lot of sense, since your body needs estrogen and other sex hormones for optimal functioning. Once you undergo a hysterectomy before menopause, it is highly likely you need to replace the hormones lost since your body can no longer produce them on its own. So yes, most women in surgical menopause would be well advised to consider HRT but they should seek to replace the hormones with natural bioidentical human hormones, not synthetic ones or those extracted from horses.
That said, there’s no one blanket recommendation that will apply to everyone, all the time. It’s a highly individual situation, where you’d be well advised to work closely with a skilled endocrinologist, and ideally someone well versed in nutrition and complementary strategies. There are several factors to seriously evaluate when considering hormone replacement, including the following:
- Surgically-induced menopause vs. natural menopause vs. using HRT for preventive purposes
- Your age
- The form of hormone you take (bioidentical vs. synthetic)
- The manner in which you administer the hormone
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently revised its guidelines for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.6, 7 The new guidelines address two of the most common consequences of menopause: hot flashes and vaginal atrophy, which can result when your body stops producing estrogen. As reported by the New York Times:8
“The new bulletin... examines the various claims and scores of studies. It offers treatment recommendations based on the best available evidence for preserving the health and well-being of women experiencing menopausal symptoms... [E]strogen alone, or in combination with a natural or synthetic progesterone (progestin) for women who still have a uterus, is the ‘most effective therapy’ for curbing hot flushes... ‘Data do not support the use of progestin-only medications, testosterone or compounded bioidentical hormones,’ the report also said... [T]he guidelines recommend ‘against routine discontinuation of systemic estrogen at age 65.’”Bioidentical Hormones Is Likely an Ideal Choice
It’s disappointing to see ACOG rejecting compounded bioidentical hormones, as in my view they are really the ideal choice. Your body recognizes these as “normal” as they’re virtually identical to the hormones produced in your body. This makes them far safer than synthetic prescription versions. Premarin (the most popular estrogen replacement) comes from horse estrogens and is not bioidentical. But I guess it’s not surprising that ACOG would promote hormones that will result in the greatest cash flow for the pharmaceutical companies...
There are three types of estrogens commonly used in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy: estrone, estradiol, and estriol. A common mixed formulation known as Tri-est includes 80 percent estriol with 10 percent each of estrone and estradiol.
Estriol is considered the safest of the three and is the most commonly prescribed. It has been used safely for decades, and I believe it’s particularly useful when you’ve had a hysterectomy. I also believe that menopausal hot flashes that do not resolve with phytoestrogens, such as black cohosh, are another valid indication for short-term estrogen use. However, if estrogen is used, it is nearly always wise to use it in conjunction with natural progesterone.Why I Don’t Recommend Synthetic Hormone Replacement
Synthetic progestins (like Provera) are responsible for many, if not most, of the detrimental side effects of HRT. For example, one meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in January 20059 found that synthetic HRT is linked to an increased risk of stroke, typically ischemic (caused by blockages of blood flow to your brain). In fact, synthetic HRT boosts your risk of stroke by almost one-third, and your risk of fatal or disabling stroke by more than half. One of the trials reviewed in that meta-analysis also linked synthetic HRT with higher risks of both breast cancer and heart attack. The trial (which included almost 17,000 women over 50) also found taking HRT for five years doubled your risk of life-threatening blood clots. Other potential side effects of HRT include:
- High blood pressure
- Vaginal bleeding
- Skin rashes and acne
- Weight gain
When it comes to administering bioidentical hormones, some delivery methods are clearly superior to others. Oral supplementation is perhaps your worst option, as your liver processes everything in your digestive tract first, before it enters your bloodstream, which will metabolize most of the swallowed hormones to inactive and potentially harmful derivatives.
Moreover, if you swallow hormones, only 10-15 percent will eventually reach the target tissues and you will need to take an oral dose that is 500 percent higher than you need. Virtually any method that bypasses your liver will therefore be more effective, but even here, there are some methods that stand out as being better than others:
- Hormone creams administered transdermally (i.e. applied to your skin) is one common alternative. However, since hormones are fat-soluble, they can build up in your fatty tissues when applied topically. This buildup in turn can disrupt other hormones. It’s also near impossible to accurately determine the dose when using a cream.
- Sublingual drops can be a good option, as it enters your blood stream directly and will not build up in your tissues like the cream can. It’s also much easier to determine the dose you’re taking, as each drop is about one milligram.
- Trans mucosal administration is a virtually ideal administration system, and the one I generally recommend, as applying the cream to your mucous epithelial membranes that line your vagina allows for more complete absorption.
For best results, your hormone levels should be monitored by blood, urine, or saliva, to ensure they reach a target level that corresponds to the reference ranges for healthy young women. Unfortunately, this monitoring is yet another factor that adds rather than detracts from the complexity of HRT.
Recent research indicates that if you apply topical (transdermal) progesterone, saliva testing will register approximately 10-fold greater compared to whole blood serum testing, and capillary blood levels are approximately 100-fold greater than what you find in whole blood.
According to the study, published in the journal Menopause,10 “high capillary blood and saliva levels indicate high absorption and transport of progesterone to tissues.” This means that if you rely on serum levels of progesterone to monitor your topical dose, you may be underestimating your tissue levels, which could lead to overdosing. To learn more, please listen to Mark Newman’s presentation of the findings below. This information is particularly important for clinicians who prescribe hormones.Before Taking Hormones, Address Your Diet
Treating hormone imbalances requires a whole-body approach; the best approaches are often preventive and involve diet, exercise and other lifestyle-based strategies, as Dr. Hertoghe discusses. For instance, both estrogen and progesterone are necessary in the female cycle, and their balance is key for optimal health. Many premenopausal women have an imbalance of these hormones. If you have insufficient levels of progesterone to counter excessive estrogen, this imbalance can be further exacerbated by chronic stress. Therefore, your answer might not necessarily lie in taking hormones, but rather addressing your stress levels so that your body can normalize your hormone levels naturally.
A healthful diet, low in processed foods (which are high in health-harming sugars/fructose, grains, genetically engineered ingredients, trans fats, processed salt, and other chemical additives) and high in whole organic foods, along with regular exercise, can also go a long way to keeping your hormones balanced as you age.
It's important to realize that processed foods—all those refined carbohydrates, and processed and heated fats, all serve to raise your estrogen to abnormal levels—as much as twice the normal, which are maintained for the better part of the adult lives of most American women. This is a MAJOR contributing cause of menopausal symptoms in the first place. Processed foods also decrease a number of other hormones critical to your health and wellbeing. Here’s a quick list of Dr. Hertoghe’s dietary recommendations to maintain healthy hormone levels:Eat a Paleolithic diet, rich in fresh organic vegetables and fermented foods Avoid sugar and fructose, including fresh fruit juice, as the rapid sugar peak effectively blocks hormone secretion Eat low-fructose fruits, and avoid ones that are high in fructose Avoid regular alcohol consumption, as this decreases your growth hormone production Avoid unsprouted grains. If consuming grains (which are best avoided altogether), make sure they’re sprouted Eat high-quality protein such as fish, red meat, and chicken, but cook them at a lower temperature Other Alternatives to Consider Before Taking Hormones for Menopause
Natural bioidentical hormones can offer relief from menopausal symptoms, but I recommend not using them as your first go-to option. Addressing your diet should be your first step. Other strategies you can try before resorting to bioidentical hormones include the following:
- Phytoestrogens: Consuming plenty of phytoestrogens (plant-estrogens) such as licorice and alfalfa before menopause can also help moderate your day-to-day estrogen levels so that when menopause comes, the drop won't be so dramatic. Just don't make the mistake of using unfermented soy, which can wreak havoc on your health in a number of different ways.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels: This is a must for gene regulation and optimal health.
- Polyphenols: Certain polyphenols have also been shown to have some HRT-like benefits without the drawbacks, and are associated with a lowered risk of heart disease. Royal Maca seems to be an amazing adaptogenic herbal solution for menopause that has helped many women. Be sure to avoid the inexpensive varieties, as they typically don't work. If you chose this option, make sure to obtain the authentic version from Peru.
- Animal-based omega-3 fat: You'll also want to get plenty high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil.
- Black cohosh: While dismissed by ACOG as having no scientific foundation, Black cohosh may indeed help regulate body temperature and hot flashes in some women.