Food Monopoly Aimed at Controlling Population Destroys Environment and Poses Serious Threat to Human Health
By Dr. Mercola
"Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people." ~ Henry Kissinger, Ph.D.
"In so many poorer countries food is money, food is power." ~ Catherine Bertini, executive director of the U.N.'s World Food Program1
Yes, food is power, and all around the world we now see how the monopolization of the food supply has created a vast gulf between the "have" and the "have nots." Far from fostering greater food security, we've become more food insecure than ever before.
It's quite simple really. If you have access to clean, nutritious food, you survive and thrive. If you don't, disease and premature death is your lot.
Today, malnutrition is not a problem relegated to developing countries. Never before have affluent nations had so many malnourished yet obese people — a paradox rooted in a poor and toxic diet, churned out by industrial crop growers, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and fish farms.
The strategy to control people by controlling the food supply, first through the conversion from many small farms to fewer, gigantic farming operations and associated price fixing schemes, and later through the creation of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, effectively destroyed family farming both in the U.S. and abroad.
It wasn't that long ago (2011) that a class-action lawsuit on behalf of consumers was filed against a number of dairy companies and trade groups, charging they killed more than half a million young cows in order to artificially inflate the price of milk — a classic price fixing scheme, and certainly not the first, nor likely the last.2,3
In 2013, the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) paid a $158.6 million fine to settle a 2007 lawsuit alleging the DFA conspired with a number of companies to suppress milk prices by closing bottling plants and stifling competition.4Consolidation, Concentration, and Monopolization
Today, 95 percent of all grain reserves in the world are controlled by just six multinational agribusinesses.5 The same concentration of power can be seen all through agriculture, from beef packers (four companies) to flour milling (four companies) and pork packers (four companies).6
As noted by The Natural Farmer, this consolidation and concentration has occurred through horizontal integration, vertical integration, and global expansion.7
Along with the destruction of family farms we also lost a tremendous amount of diversity, both in terms of the types of foods grown and the flora and fauna existing in the areas surrounding the farms.
All of this, and more, has occurred under the guise of improving food availability and safety. Yet all of these "improvements" have led to nothing but corruption, destruction and disease.
Worst of all, these corporations have become so wealthy and (as a result) politically powerful, that in order to really affect change, we must do it from the ground up, by altering our daily shopping habits.Support House and Senate 'Meat Processing Revival' Bills
Slaughterhouse consolidation is particularly problematic for small farmers specializing in organic and pastured meats. As noted by National Public Radio (NPR) last year:8
"Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, farmers who want to sell meat commercially across state lines must get their animals slaughtered and processed at a meat plant that has been approved by the USDA.
Government meat inspectors are required to be on the floor anytime those plants are operating.
To make it easier for more homegrown meat to reach consumers, a small but vocal group of farmers and local food advocates is trying to change federal meat inspection law."
March 8, 2016 Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act (S. 2651), which would allow states to permit sale of meat processed locally, thereby making it easier for small farms and ranches to serve their consumers.9
Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced an identical bill, H.R. 3187,10 in the House of Representatives last summer. I encourage you to call your senators and urge them to support the PRIME Act.
You can find their contact information by clicking the button below, or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.Click Here Plant Species and Food Choices Are Dwindling
As noted by Irish Times,11 more than one-fifth of all plant species are now threatened with extinction. Reasons why include out-of-control plant diseases and changes in climate.
But factory farming is also a significant contributing factor. In fact, factory farming in and of itself is an "anti-biotic" in that it is "against life."
Chemical monocropping (the repeated growing of a single crop on a vast amount of land using chemical additives like fertilizers and pesticides) prematurely denatures the soil, promotes "super pests" and "super weeds," and destroys diversity of both plants and insects in the wild, not to mention curtail food choices at your local grocery store.Pesticide Exposure From Food Is Now a Serious Threat to Health
Worldwide, 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year, and many of these chemicals are either known or suspected to be harmful to human health. As noted by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR):13
"The required toxicity studies do not include many important endpoints such as immune system toxicity, endocrine system disruptions, learning deficits, or chronic illnesses.
Yet, all of these endpoints have been linked to pesticide exposure. Harm also occurs because pesticides are reviewed only every 15 years, leaving long lag times between science and regulations.
Recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) research revealed another problem with pesticide regulation: the majority of pesticide products are granted "conditional registrations" without all required information.
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) own analysis confirmed NRDC's findings that 69 percent, or 11,000, of all 16,000 pesticide registrations are conditional. An NRDC report of this problem is currently in preparation.
The failure of conditional registrations was highlighted this summer when the conditionally approved herbicide Imprelis® was linked to tree deaths around the country, prompting the manufacturer, DuPont, to recall the pesticide."Industrial Agribusinesses Destroy Family Farms and Quality Foods
In North Dakota, a 1932 state law banning nonfamily corporations from owning farmland or operating farms has been challenged by agribusiness lobbyists, calling the law discriminatory and unconstitutional.
In March 2015, the state Legislature passed a bill that would "relax the corporate farming ban," The New York Times (NYT) writes,14 adding that North Dakota residents are now voting on a referendum that would allow corporate farms to buy up and displace many of the 30,000 family farmers currently in business.
"A vote against the measure would repeal the new legislation and restore the law that had governed farm and dairy operations in the state for more than eight decades.
While the debate is very much focused on maintaining the character of North Dakota, it also taps into widespread fears about the disappearance of family farms throughout the United States and the spread of big corporations and their farming methods into rural America," The NYT writes.
Such fears are well-founded. But farmers are not the only ones who should be concerned about industrial agribusinesses taking over. This is an issue that affects every single person who likes to eat food. Monoculture and livestock CAFOs do not make food tastier and/or more nutritious. Nor do they make it safer.
On the contrary, factory farms produce inferior quality food that is far more prone to cause foodborne outbreaks and spread pandemic diseases among farm animals (and in some cases among humans too).
It's important to understand that human life is interrelated with the environment, and most epidemics, such as AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, and Lyme disease, just to name a few, are a direct result of man's failure to live in harmony with nature. By severely disrupting our environment, we create our own demise.
We now know that CAFOs create a negative feedback loop where safety hazards are compounded and spread around, affecting animals, humans and the environment in equal measure.CAFOS and Processing Monopolies Promote and Cause Deadly Outbreaks
The congregation of thousands or tens of thousands of animals in confined spaces is a recipe for disease, and CAFOs have become notorious for spreading pandemic diseases and causing serious food outbreaks. Now the situation is being ratcheted up another notch, with the presence of bacteria equipped with the much-feared mcr-1 gene — a gene that confers resistance to antibiotics of last resort.
First discovered in China last year,15,16,17 it's now been detected in Europe, Scandinavia,18 and most recently, in the U.S. The first American report occurred in March, when the gene was found in a pork sample from a slaughterhouse in South Carolina. In May, Escherichia coli (E.coli) carrying the gene was discovered in a pork sample collected in an Illinois slaughterhouse, as well as in a Pennsylvania patient admitted with an E. coli infection.19,20,21 As noted by The Washington Post:22
"Each of the three U.S. cases involves different strains of E. coli. The latest animal case suggests the gene is already circulating through multiple routes here ... In all three cases here, the gene was carried on a plasmid, a mobile piece of DNA that easily can transfer the gene to other bacteria. That would result in a kind of super-superbug, invincible to every life-saving antibiotic available."Foodborne Illness Kills 5,000 Americans Each Year
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), foodborne diseases cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, costing the health care system as much as $6 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity.23
Bacteria account for 75 percent of the outbreaks, with Salmonella being the most common culprit. However, in the past two decades, a number of "previously unrecognized" foodborne pathogens have emerged, including:
✓ Campylobacter jejuni (poultry products)
✓ Listeria monocytogenes (dairy products)
✓ Clostridium botulinum
✓ Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (ground beef)
✓ Bacillus cereus
✓ Clostridium perfringens (beef)
✓ Staphylococcus aureus (pork)
There's no telling what the death toll might amount to should many or all of these foodborne pathogens develop antibiotic resistance, but it might be a fair guess that many of the hundreds of thousands hospitalized might not recover.
Part of what's causing foodborne illness rates to rise relates to the centralization of meat processing, coupled with outdated slaughterhouse inspection rules. Since 1906, meat inspection has relied on noticing changes in the sight, smell, or feel of the meat. But foodborne microorganisms cannot be detected this way.
The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point program (HACCP) was created to identify areas in the food processing chain where contamination might take place, and based on the findings of the HACCP, procedures such as using microbiological tests at key control points have been developed. However, the program is useless unless microbial control is mandated.
At present, slaughter line speeds are too fast to perform these tests, and few are willing to voluntarily comply with them as slowing down the pace cuts into profits. Cross-contamination is another serious problem largely relegated to factory farms, processing monopolies, and industrial food processing plants.
Most recently, Listeria-contaminated sunflower seeds led to the recall of about 100 different food products, including Brown & Haley Mountain Thins trail mix and more than 33,600 pounds of Trader Joe's' broccoli and kale chicken salad.24
That kind of scenario simply could not happen in a small-scale, local food system, and it's precisely why — if you're concerned about food safety — your most effective strategy is to support your local farmers by buying their food and cooking from scratch, rather than buying processed fare and foods imported from all over the globe.Across the World, Farmland Ownership Is Being Gobbled up by the Few
North Dakota certainly isn't the only place industrial agribusinesses seek to infiltrate and take over. GRAIN, an international non-profit organization that supports small farmers and social movements around the world, has documented more than 490 cases of corporate land grabs over the past decade. These deals cover more than 30 million hectares in 78 countries. According to GRAIN:25
"While some of the worst land grabs have been shelved or toned down, a number of new deals are appearing, many of which are 'hard-core' initiatives to expand the frontiers of industrial agriculture. We say hard-core because these deals are large, long-term and determined to avoid the pitfalls that earlier deals ran into.
Much of the Asian-led oil palm expansion in Africa, and the advance of pension funds and trade conglomerates to secure access to new farmlands, fall into this category.
Increasingly, gaining access to farmland is part of a broader corporate strategy to profit from carbon markets, mineral resources, water resources, seeds, soil and environmental services. As land deals rise and fall, policymakers and corporate boards are hard at work trying to facilitate their success.
Instead of the wild land rush of before, we now have multiple 'frameworks' and 'guidelines' on how to conduct these deals while minimizing social and environmental costs. All of these new rules are voluntary, however, and do more to obfuscate the problem than to solve it.
Many argue that the heightened political attention around land grabbing has helped bring land and agrarian reform back into public debates in parliaments and other legislative fora. But the main objective of regulatory processes is still to formalize land markets and titles, which experience tells us will lead to further concentration of land in the hands of few."Industrial Farms Are Proliferate Polluters of Soil, Water and Air
I cannot get over the irony of the fact that agriculture is now one of the worst polluters of all industries out there, contaminating not only soil, but air and water as well. For example, according to a report26 by Environment America, Tyson Foods, Inc. is the worst polluter of U.S. waterways, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014, second only to a steel manufacturing company.
In third place, we have the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), followed by Cargill and another steel manufacturer. Of the top 15 polluters on this list, six are food companies, commingling with some of the largest chemical producers in the world, including DuPont and BASF.
Even paper and gasoline producers, two industries well-known for their environmental impacts, are "cleaner!" International Paper and Exxon Mobil are ranked No. 14 and 15 respectively, releasing less than 20 percent of Tyson's toxic emissions into our waterways.
And guess what? Farms are exempt from federal water-pollution regulation.27 This is despite agriculture being the primary reason why America's waterways fail to meet Clean Water Act standards.28,29 (For an interesting story about how an Indiana teen is proposing to tackle nitrogen and phosphorous pollution in Lake Eerie with the use of duckweed, see this June 15 Student Science article.30)
Agriculture is also responsible for nearly one-fifth of the entire U.S. carbon footprint, and that still does not include all of the fuel, transport emissions and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use.31 A 2009 article also pointed out the following:32
"The Pew Charitable Trust and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study in 2008 and determined that the U.S. factory farming system is dangerously out of control and that many practices, including animal confinement, and the prophylactic-use of antibiotics and hormones must be phased out. A second study, also in April of 2008, by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded much the same.
Both studies found that the current factory farming paradigms are simply not sustainable for the land, the drinking water, the confined animals, the rivers, and the oceans, and they are seriously damaging our public health. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reminded us that we will be subsidizing these bad farming practices once again on April 15th when we pay our taxes. That is the second payment for 'cheap food.'"[Emphasis mine]
No one in their right mind, or at least no one who has ever experienced a factory farm first-hand or even read a book or watched a video about what's going on, supports CAFOs. That's why corporate agribusiness is working overtime to pass state "Ag Gag" laws making it a crime to take photos of CAFOs.
That's why the beef cartel and Big Food spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep you in the dark not only about CAFOs, but also about whether or not your food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and about the country-of-origin of your food.Boycott Factory Farm Food System
The time has come to shift the American diet away from unhealthy, polluted and polluting factory farmed food. Factory farms are a disaster, not only for the animals, but also for the communities where manure and chemical fertilizers and pesticides pollute the air, the soil, streams, lakes, rivers and drinking water.
The same goes for gigantic monoculture farms growing mostly GE grains and corn with vast amounts of toxic pesticides and fertilizers. The 2015 edition of "Factory Farm Nation," a report by Food and Water Watch, reveals the many problems with and high cost of factory farming.33Click Here
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/truth-about-factory-farms.jpg" alt="The Truth About Factory Farms" 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;">The mass production of America's food comes with a hefty price. Find out the environmental, animal, and human impact of raising over 99 percent of US farm animals in factory farms in this infographic, "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/truth-about-factory-farms.htm">The Truth About Factory Farms</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/truth-about-factory-farms.jpg" alt="The Truth About Factory Farms" 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;">The mass production of America's food comes with a hefty price. Find out the environmental, animal, and human impact of raising over 99 percent of US farm animals in factory farms in this infographic,"<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/truth-about-factory-farms.htm">The Truth About Factory Farms.</a>" Visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p></code></pre>
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If you worry that regenerative agriculture might not be able to compete with conventional chemical agriculture in terms of yield, don't. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that organic yields are comparable to conventional, and about 30 percent higher during drought conditions.
For more information, I recommend reading through the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) report, "From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems."34 It's important to realize you do have options, even if they may not be quite as convenient as going to your local grocery store. Your best alternative is to grow your own, although this also requires the greatest level of time and commitment.
The idea of planting Victory Gardens goes back to World War I and II, and was advertised as a way for patriots to make a difference on the home front. Planting these gardens helped the citizens combat food shortages by supplying themselves and their neighbors with fresh produce.
Planting your own Victory Garden can go a long way toward healthier eating, and in the long run, it can provide incentive for industry-wide change, and a return to a diet of real food for everyone, everywhere. A great way to get started on your own is by growing sprouts. They may be small, but sprouts are packed with nutrition and best of all, they're easy and inexpensive to grow.Where to Find Real Food
Your next best option is to buy fresh produce, pastured eggs, raw organic dairy and grass-fed meats from a local farm or farmer's market. There are positive signs that people are taking such advice to heart. According to Michael Pollan, the total number of farmers in the U.S. has begun to rise for the first time since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began keeping track.35
Most of these farmers are younger people, who have embraced the notion of growing real, healthy food. If you live in the US, the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:
EatWild.com provides lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other organic produce. Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.
Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.
The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.
This website 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.
A national listing of farmers markets.
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.
CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
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.
The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.
If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. You can also find a slew of information about raw milk on their "facts about real raw milk" page.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund36 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.37 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.
By Dr. Mercola
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C8), was an essential ingredient in DuPont's non-stick cookware for decades. The chemical is now the subject of about 3,500 personal injury claims against DuPont, along with others filed against various companies that used the chemical.
The legal process has uncovered hundreds of internal documents revealing that DuPont knew of the chemical's danger to the public and employees, yet continued using it, despite the known risks.
A decade ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined DuPont $16.5 million for withholding decades' worth of information about health hazards associated with PFOA.
In 2005, a panel of three scientists was ordered as part of a settlement to determine the chemical's effects on people. After seven years of research, the panel linked PFOA to ulcerative colitis, imbalanced cholesterol,1 pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid disease, testicular cancer and kidney cancer.
Its health effects were deemed to be widespread and occurred even at very low exposure levels. Now residents of Hoosick Falls, New York, where a string of rare cancer deaths, thyroid disease and other health problems occurred, are suing PFOA manufacturers for contaminating their local water supply.Hoosick Falls Residents Demand Answers Over PFOA Water Pollution
Earlier this year, four residents of Hoosick Falls filed a class-action lawsuit against Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, which ran the area's plastics plant.
PFOA was produced at the plant as part of a powdery substance called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which was added to products to help them repel grease and water.
It's alleged that for a period of about 15 years, the "heavier-than-air" material was released from smokestacks and into the surrounding environment.
In the 1980s, "scrubbers" were installed in the smokestacks to help prevent pollutants from being released, it's alleged that workers would clean the scrubbers and other contaminated equipment outdoors on a hill outside the plant, just 400 yards from the area's primary underground well. Times Union reported:2
"A toxic chemical that contaminated the Hoosick Falls water system may have seeped into the village's underground wells over a period of decades, when workers at a nearby plastics plant cleaned smokestack filters and other equipment on the ground outside the facility, including flushing manufacturing byproducts into a storm drain.
In addition, several people who worked at the McCaffrey Street plant, owned by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics since 1999, recalled how a powder-like smoke plume that seemed heavier than air often settled in the valley around the small plant that overlooks the Hoosic River. The facility is several hundred yards from the village's water treatment plant."
In 2014, one area resident, Michael Hickey, sent water samples to be tested after his father, who worked at the plastics plant, died of kidney cancer. The testing revealed elevated levels of PFOA in the water supply.
Initially, the response was slow from state and local government — the state Health Department initially told residents there were no health risks from consuming the contaminated water, then abruptly changed their tune after the EPA advised residents not to consume or cook with the water.3Blood Tests Reveal Elevated PFOA Levels
While the EPA's long-term exposure limit for PFOA in residential water is 100 parts per trillion (ppt), levels in Hoosick Falls' water have exceeded 400 ppt.4 State-sponsored blood tests for PFOA levels in local residents have shown levels significantly above the national average in many cases.5
Water filters have been installed in residents' homes and a study is planned to monitor illness and mortality trends in the area, according to an impromptu meeting between residents and state Operations Director Jim Malatras, Ph.D., which occurred in mid-June 2016. According to Times Union:6
" … [R]oughly two dozen residents … voice[ed] their outrage over what they describe as a too-slow response from public officials to the perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA contamination of the … community's water supply, and the state Legislature's continued unwillingness to hold hearings on the crisis.
… Several times, Malatras tried to turn the focus away from the administration to the company that has been designated as one of the likely polluters, Saint Gobain Performance Plastics.
(Facilities now owned by Honeywell have also been identified by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as another likely source of PFOA.)"PFOA Cover-Up Compared to Tobacco Industry
As noted in a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), DuPont knew about the risks of PFOA but continued making it anyway:7
"DuPont had long known that PFOA caused cancer, had poisoned drinking water in the mid-Ohio River Valley and polluted the blood of people and animals worldwide. But it never told its workers, local officials and residents, state regulators, or the EPA."
DuPont, along with seven other companies, including 3M, were involved in producing PFOA over the decades.
The chemical is being called the "tobacco of the chemical industry" because of the decades-long corporate cover-up of its health effects, the lawsuits pending and how difficult it is to make companies accountable for producing disease-causing products, even after the evidence is clear.
In DuPont's case, they had animal evidence of harm — from liver toxicity and kidney damage to death — for decades, but the company did not alert regulators of a potential problem.
Then there were the company's workers, some of whom gave birth to babies with birth defects after working in the company's PFOA division. DuPont knew of the problems and was tracking its workers for such health effects, but again failed to inform regulators of their findings.
Worse still, when 3M submitted a troublesome rat study to the EPA suggesting harm, DuPont told the EPA they believed the study was flawed.
While continuing to study the chemical's effects on its workers, DuPont was also tracking the chemical's spread into nearby waterways, as well as its emissions into the air through smokestacks.
At first, DuPont disposed of PFOA by dumping it in the ocean and later moved to disposing of it in unlined landfills and ponds. They knew the chemical was spreading widely into the environment and convened a meeting to discuss what to do about it, but decided to keep using the chemical anyway.DuPont Allegedly Ordered Tracking of Its Own Numerous Dumping Sites
DuPont reportedly ordered a "thorough review" of the company's waste sites in the early 1980s, a task that proved to be colossal because of the sheer number of dumping grounds. According to The Intercept:8
"Tracking the contents of all these barrels, pits, dumps, leaks, landfills, spills and waste streams over time was a monumental task. Even back in the 1980s, the company, which was founded in 1802, had an environmental trail that defied cataloguing.
'There were waste sites from the '50s and '40s,' said [former DuPont government affairs employee Craig] Skaggs, who remembers there being 113 plants at the time — and the waste sites as being far more numerous. 'Waste would be hauled off in drums and taken to these sites and buried. And often, these sites were owned by other people.'"
Today, DuPont officials have disputed the existence of such a report, but Skaggs is adamant "it still exists somewhere … retained by the legal department."9 It's not only plastics factories that are to blame for widespread PFOA pollution. Water testing around military bases has also shown contamination to drinking water from PFOA and other perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, used in firefighting foam. As reported by The Intercept:
"Research on people in West Virginia and Ohio who had consumed water contaminated by leaks from a nearby DuPont factory showed probable links between the chemical and six diseases, including kidney cancer.
[Resident Lori] Cervera [who was diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of 46] soon discovered that the very same chemical, as well as a related one, PFOS, had been found in drinking water in her area. Both were part of a larger class known as perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, 'emerging contaminants' that were still being studied — and had yet to be regulated.
And, according to public notices from the local water and sewer authorities, both had come from foam that was used to put out airplane fires and train soldiers at two nearby military bases ... "Will DuPont Merger Allow the Company to Avoid Lawsuits?
Four of the more than 3,500 lawsuits filed against DuPont in relation to the company's dumping of PFOA into the Ohio River have already gone to court. One case was dismissed after a doctor changed the plaintiff's diagnosis, but in another, a woman who developed kidney cancer was awarded $1.6 million.
A third case — a man who allegedly developed ulcerative colitis after drinking PFOA-contaminated water — was settled, and a fourth case involving David Freeman, a man with testicular cancer, went to court in May 2016.10 Starting in April 2017, 40 of the cancer cases against DuPont will be heard over a 10-month period each year, although DuPont may be trying to skirt liability in any way they can.
In July 2015, DuPont created a new company called The Chemours Company, which heads up its "performance chemicals" division and now holds responsibility for a large amount of the company's environmental liabilities, including PFOA.DuPont's Disappearing Act
In December 2015, DuPont further announced they would be merging with chemical giant The Dow Chemical Company and had plants to split the resulting company into three new entities. The Intercept reported:11
"Together, the moves leave those struggling with DuPont's environmental legacy with lots of questions. So even as they're litigating the case of David Freeman, an Ohio man who developed testicular cancer after drinking water contaminated with PFOA, attorneys have also been asking the court to compel DuPont to demonstrate its ability to cover any awards to Freeman and other plaintiffs.
In particular, they want to know 'where the liabilities and obligations of DuPont will fall' if the merger takes place. In their most recent legal brief in what is known as the Leach case, submitted on May 11 to Federal Judge Edmund Sargus, lawyers reiterated fears that the proposed Dow-DuPont merger 'may be an attempt to extinguish DuPont's liability' for claims related to PFOA."
For the record, PFOA is only one of DuPont's (and now Chemours') toxic legacies. The company is also facing litigation over:12
- Benzene, a carcinogenic chemical used in some DuPont paints (one painter was recently awarded $8.4 million after developing leukemia linked to the paints). At least 27 other benzene lawsuits are pending
- Asbestos, including more than 2,000 upcoming lawsuits
- Silica (83 pending cases), which causes potentially fatal lung disease when inhaled
- Butadiene, a carcinogen used by DuPont to make neoprene
In 2015, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggested PFOA falls into the realm of substances like asbestos and lead — those we know are toxic at virtually any level. EWG's report found the EPA's safety guideline for PFOA in drinking water — 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) — may be more than 1,000 times too high to protect public health.13
Fortunately, in May 2016 the EPA announced new guidelines of .07 ppb for both PFOA and PFOS (including a maximum combined level of .07 ppb if both chemicals are present). The new standard takes into account lifetime exposure that would occur from drinking contaminated water.14
Unfortunately, EPA data shows that water systems in 18 states are contaminated with PFOA and/or PFOS above the new federal threshold. That being said, even the new threshold may not be low enough to protect public health. The EWG report stated the safety level should be 0.0003 ppb.
It builds on earlier research that found PFOA levels in human blood above three-tenths of a nanogram — a billionth of a gram — per milliliter could be harmful. EWG's Bill Walker, who wrote the report, told VICE News:15 " … [T]he truth of the matter is that it [PFOA] appears to be hazardous at very, very, very low levels of exposure … In practicality, when you're talking about these very, very tiny levels, there just may not be a safe level of exposure."How to Reduce Your Exposure to PFOA and Related Chemicals
First and foremost, I recommend using a high-quality water filtration system unless you can verify the purity of your water. To be certain you're getting the purest water you can, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink and shower.
In addition, you'll want to minimize your use of common products that contain PFCs like PFOA and PFOS. PFCs are used in a wide variety of consumer products, particularly those made to repel water or resist oil and stains. Products that often contain these chemicals include:16,17
- Takeout containers such as pizza boxes and sandwich wrappers
- Non-stick pots, pans and utensils
- Popcorn bags
- Outdoor clothing
- Camping tents
- Stain-repellant or water-repellant clothing
- Stain treatments for clothing and furniture
- Carpeting and carpet treatments
- Certain cosmetics, particularly eye shadow, foundation, facial powder, bronzer and blush
It's important to understand that while PFOA is no longer being used in the U.S., similar replacement chemicals have been added in its place. As recently as 2013, Greenpeace International tested 15 samples of waterproof clothing, shoes and swimsuits and found PFCs in all but one, according to EWG.18
Some food wrappers, beverage containers, pizza boxes and other food packaging may also be PFOA-free, but not necessarily safe, as the PFOA replacement chemicals have not been adequately tested for safety.
Eating organically grown, and biodynamic whole foods is a primary strategy and, as an added bonus, when you eat properly, you're also optimizing your body's natural detoxification system, which can help eliminate toxins your body encounters from other sources. When your diet is mostly fresh foods, you'll minimize exposure to PFCs common in takeout containers. From there, simply leading a healthy lifestyle will help you to have as minimal a chemical exposure as possible.
By Dr. Mercola
Vitamin A deficiency is a major problem in developing countries, particularly in areas where diets are based primarily on rice. Without adequate dietary beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, people are at increased risk of infection, blindness and other health problems.
Children and pregnant women are most severely affected, and it’s estimated that up to 2.7 million children’s lives could be saved by providing adequate vitamin A.1
As a solution, biotech companies created genetically engineered (GE) Golden Rice, which produces beta-carotene that, theoretically, the human body can convert into vitamin A.
For decades, Golden Rice has been touted as a game changer that would save millions of lives, despite numerous signs that the product is destined to fall short of its promises.Golden Rice Is Still Years Away From Approval
Glaring problem No. 1 is the fact that Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, despite the fact that the idea has been around since the 1980s and research into the product has been ongoing since 1992.2
Critics have long argued that introducing Golden Rice in third world countries could open the doors for a proliferation of profitable GE crops, and those in favor of Golden Rice have thus blamed environmental groups for slowing the product’s introduction — claims researchers from Washington University in St. Louis say are unfounded.3
Lead author lead author Glenn Stone, Ph.D. professor of anthropology and environmental studies in Arts & Sciences, told The Source:4
“Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, but we find little support for the common claim that environmental activists are responsible for stalling its introduction. GMO opponents have not been the problem.”
What has been the problem, according to a study by Stone and colleagues, is the rice has not been successful in test plots planted in the Philippines. They added, “It has not even been submitted for approval to the regulatory agency, the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).”Poor Yields and Lack of Proof of Effectiveness Plague Golden Rice
It was 2000 when a Time magazine cover story touted “This Rice Could Save a Million Kids a Year,” referring to the orange-colored, beta-carotene-rich GE Golden Rice. In 2016, the rice has yet to be planted commercially, though it continues to be highlighted in the media with regularity and misplaced fanfare.
In reality, Golden Rice test plots in the Philippines have shown disappointing yields, with researchers noting “researchers continue to have problems developing beta-carotene-enriched strains that yield as well as non-GMO strains already being grown by farmers.”5
Worse still, even if the GE rice becomes productive enough to entice third world farmers to grow it, no one knows whether it will save children’s lives as advertised. One of the problems with this “solution” is that your body can only convert beta-carotene to vitamin A under certain conditions.
Specifically, beta-carotene is fat-soluble, which means dietary fat is required for your body to convert it into vitamin A.
Many people in developing countries eat very low-fat diets, as they simply do not have access to animal foods or other fat on a regular basis. Other potential problems highlighted by Stone and colleagues include:6
- Malnourished people might not be able to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A efficiently, making Golden Rice potentially worthless
- Little research has been done on whether the beta-carotene in Golden Rice will hold up during storage between harvest seasons
- It’s unknown whether traditional cooking methods used to prepare the rice will destroy the beta-carotene
In 2012, a study showed that beta-carotene in Golden Rice was as good as beta-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children.7 It’s the only study to date that’s shown such promise for Golden Rice but, according to Stone, it had a major flaw. Mother Jones reported:8
“The subjects were ‘well-nourished individuals’ who already took in sufficient fat in their diets.
The study ‘demonstrated only that Golden Rice worked in children who did not need it’ … (The study has since been retracted on claims that the author failed to obtain proper consent from the parents of the participants).”
Golden Rice as a panacea becomes even more questionable when you consider the unrealistic amounts of rice you'd have to consume each day to obtain the recommended amount of vitamin A. As stated in a golden rice case study from Iowa State University:9
"Even if golden rice is successfully introduced … a woman would need to eat 16 lbs. of cooked rice every day in order to get sufficient Vitamin A, if golden rice were her only source of the nutrient. A child would need 12 lbs."Vitamin A Deficiency Declines Without the Use of Golden Rice
While vitamin A deficiency continues to be a major problem in India and Africa, rates have declined significantly in Southeast Asia in recent years. According to research published in The Lancet, only 6 percent of children in that area suffered from vitamin A deficiency in 2013, down from 39 percent in 1991.10
In the Philippines, vitamin A deficiency has also been on the decline in children. Among those aged 6 months to 5 years, 40 percent were deficient in 2003 compared to just over 15 percent in 2008.
According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, which is working to develop Golden Rice and other varieties, these improvements occurred not due to Golden Rice but because of “proven approaches to prevent vitamin A deficiency:”11
“The exact reasons for these improvements have not been determined, but they may be the results of proven approaches to prevent vitamin A deficiency, such as vitamin A supplementation, dietary diversification, food fortification and promotion of optimal breastfeeding.”
There is, in essence, no reason to create a GE food that contains beta-carotene in order to relieve vitamin A deficiency. Such foods exist already in nature.
The real solution would be to help the developing world improve access to real sources of beta-carotene and other nutrients, including animal products like eggs, cheese and meat, and vegetables such as dark leafy greens and sweet potatoes.Genetic Engineering Is an Imprecise Process at Best
One of the inherent problems with genetic engineering is the assumption that you can modify one aspect of a plant or animal without affecting others — an assumption that doesn’t always pan out in practice. As reported by Mother Jones:12
“After seed developers first create a genetically modified strain with the desired trait — in this case, rice with beta-carotene — they start crossing it into varieties that have been shown to perform well in the field.
The task is tricky: when you tweak one thing in a genome, such as giving rice the ability to generate beta-carotene, you risk changing other things, like its speed of growth.”
This may explain why Golden Rice has failed to thrive in field trials. According to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho of the Institute of Science in Society, genetic engineering interferes fundamentally with the natural genetic modification that organisms engage in to survive.
Under natural circumstances, this is done in real time as “an exquisitely precise molecular dance of life.”An Inherently Hazardous Process
Genetic engineering, which assumes that one protein determines one particular trait, such as herbicide tolerance or insect resistance, and can easily be swapped out with another, with no other effects, is dangerously simplistic or, as Ho says, “an illusion.”13
An organism’s genome is not linear, but fluid, and its biological functions are interconnected with its environment and vice versa, such that trying to control genetic changes via artificial modification is a dangerous game.
Compared with natural genetic modification, artificial genetic modification is inherently hazardous because it lacks the precision of the natural process, while enabling genes to be transferred between species that would never have been exchanged otherwise. Contrasting natural and artificial genetic modification:14Natural Genetic Modification Artificial Genetic Engineering Precisely negotiated by the organism as a wholeCrude, imprecise, unpredictable and uncontrollable Takes place at the right place and time without damaging the genomeForced into cells with no control over where and in what forms the artificial constructs land with much collateral damage to the genome Appropriate to the organism as a whole in relation to its environmentAggressive promoters force foreign genes to be expressed out of context GE Crops Do Not Represent the Future of Food
Proponents of genetic engineering claim it is the most effective way to feed the world, by producing plants unnaturally equipped with internally produced insecticides, or with genes making them resistant to chemical herbicides or, in the case of Golden Rice, containing enhanced nutrition. Some are advertised as drought resistant and/or higher yield producing, but the truth turns out to be quite different.
GE plants may produce foreign proteins making them potentially allergenic and often they require more pesticides and herbicides than conventional crops, while producing lower yields.
Meanwhile, what people in the developing world need in order to receive ample dietary nutrients like vitamin A is access to a diverse range of nutritious food. This is the type of diet that is attained from biodiverse farming — the opposite of what will occur if GE crops like Golden Rice are planted on a large scale.
By Dr. Mercola
With all the conflicting information out there pertaining to your thyroid, especially regarding what to eat and what to stay away from, it may be confusing. And when trying to ferret out the facts from most conventional health practitioners, the contradictions can get frustrating.
You might hear, “Stay away from cruciferous vegetables because they might prevent your system from absorbing iodine,” or, “Don’t drink coffee because it could block your thyroid hormone replacement medication.”
One important thing to know about your thyroid is how central it is to your overall health, so ensuring it’s operating properly is critical. Just as importantly, hypothyroidism is often manageable via your diet.What’s Your Thyroid For?
The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland straddling your windpipe, right under your larynx, is the “mainframe” that regulates your metabolism, controls virtually every function of your body and interacts with all the other hormones, from your insulin to your sex hormones.
Thyroid cells are the only cells in your body that can absorb iodine. Your thyroid gland takes iodine from foods — the only way iodine can be obtained — combines it with an amino acid called tyrosine and converts it to three types of hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and diiodothyronine (T2).
T3 and T4 are then released into your bloodstream for transport throughout your body, where oxygen and calories convert them to energy.1 Every cell of your body uses thyroid hormones, so thyroid-related symptoms can vary.How Thyroid Issues Are Diagnosed: Symptoms, Tests and Complications
There are two main disorders related to the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism, when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, is the most common, and often linked to iodine deficiency. Symptoms include:
✓ Cold sensitivity
✓ Hair loss, including eyebrows
✓ Rough skin; dry, tangled hair
✓ Weight gain
✓ Memory loss
It should be noted, though, that there are dozens of other seemingly unrelated symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as:
✓ Fallen arches
✓ Neck pain and stiffness
✓ Carpal tunnel syndrome
✓ Pale skin
Overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism,2 often called Graves’ Disease, is sometimes described as your body attacking its own thyroid. In some instances, its most common symptoms are opposites of those caused by underactive thyroid:
✓ Restlessness and irritability
✓ Weight loss
✓ Brain fog
✓ Frequent bowel movements
✓ Irregular heartbeat
✓ Protruding eyes
Several tests to get to the bottom of a thyroid imbalance include thyroid antibody, basal body temperature or TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) testing. However, laboratory testing for thyroid issues is sometimes problematic.
As many as 80 percent of people with hypothyroidism fail to register as such with standard testing. According to The George Mateljan Foundation, a non-profit foundation that shares scientifically proven information about the benefits of healthy eating:
“Most physicians use outdated reference ranges when testing thyroid function. Also, studies have demonstrated that standard thyroid tests do not correlate well with tissue thyroid levels, which causes inaccurate diagnoses.
Most physicians and endocrinologists believe TSH is the best indicator of the thyroid function of an individual. However, someone can suffer from a significantly slow thyroid despite having a normal TSH, free T3 and free T4.
Some will test for T3. People can also have low T3 and show normal T4 and normal TSH. Many practitioners do not realize that this indicates a selenium or zinc deficiency, rather than a problem with the thyroid.”3
Naturopaths and doctors with a more holistic approach tend to understand the importance of examining a patient’s symptoms in combination with the tests.Main Minerals: Why Iodine, Selenium Are Important for Your Thyroid
Iodine is directly involved in the development of your skeleton, brain and other crucial parts of your body. According to Organic Lifestyle magazine:
“Iodine is a trace mineral found primarily in seafood, seaweed, plants grown in iodine-rich soil, unrefined sea salt and iodized table salt. Many people do not get enough iodine, and contrary to popular belief, this includes many people in developed countries.
Iodine from iodized salt is poorly absorbed and is not a healthy choice for raising iodine levels in the diet. Refined table salt contributes to a host of health problems. Iodine is absolutely necessary for thyroid function, but too much iodine (especially iodine outside of food) can impair thyroid function as well.”4
It’s hard to overstate how important iodine is to prevent disorders such as thyroid disease and fibromyalgia. In the case of cancer, iodine induces apoptosis, meaning it causes cancer cells to self destruct.5
Good sources of iodine include sea vegetables, organic, grass-fed yogurt, raw and grass-fed organic cow’s milk, Celtic sea salt and eggs.
Selenium, important for thyroid health, helps decrease inflammation, regulate immune responses and prevent chronic diseases. It’s found in water, soil, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, Brazil nuts, dairy products, garlic, onions, tomatoes and sunflower seeds. One billion people in the world have a selenium deficiency.6
Tyrosine is an amino acid involved in nearly every protein in your body. It’s an essential part of the production of several brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters and dopamine, regulating hormones such as the thyroid, and even affecting your mood.7
A few of the foods containing tyrosine, such as wheat and soybeans, are not healthy, especially for people with hypothyroidism. However, several good sources include almonds, bananas, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, organic free-range poultry, avocados, pumpkin seeds and organic, free-range eggs.Eating Cruciferous Veggies Can Improve Dysfunctional Thyroids
You’ve heard it since you were a kid: eat your vegetables. For people with hypothyroidism whose doctors have advised them against eating cruciferous vegetables, it must come as a surprise to learn that ingesting radishes, cabbage, broccoli and kale can improve your thyroid function because they boost your glutathione levels.
In the 1950s, scientists examined foods with the possibility that, rather than playing a nutritive role, some might actually pose a negative risk, particularly in regard to the thyroid.
These they called goitrogenic foods, potentially causing a swelling in the neck called a goiter. Glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables were implicated as a likely culprit. However, studies to that effect are scarce, as one article explains:
“In terms of human research, studies suggesting a strong link between cruciferous vegetables and thyroid disease are limited … The vast majority of the research supports the consumption of cruciferous vegetables to prevent thyroid cancer.”8
Additionally, deiodinase enzymes, central to the production of thyroid hormones, were discovered. Scientists have since modified their theory about cruciferous vegetables. Instead, the focus is connecting people with the nutrients needed for their individual, optimal thyroid function. According to the George Mateljan Foundation:
“Over the past 50 years … researchers have determined that there are no such ‘negative’ substances in food, but only health-supportive nutrients that are not a good match for certain individuals because of their unique health history and health status. Five decades of research have also determined that certain nutrients — like tyrosine, iodine, and selenium — play a unique role in thyroid health.”9
When examining your own nutritional needs, remember that small amounts are best, as too much of some foods, especially cruciferous vegetables, can prevent your body from absorbing iodine and otherwise hinder optimal thyroid function.Other Foods for People With Underactive Thyroid
There are many more ways to expand the culinary options for those with hypothyroidism, particularly plant-based foods with plenty of antioxidants and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, including these (keep in mind that most fruits should be eaten sparingly by most people due to high fructose content):
✓ Bell peppers
✓ Green beans
✓ Purple grapes
✓ Citrus fruits
Another nutrient good for your thyroid is niacin. A few of the foods with this nutrient not already listed include lamb and turkey.10What Foods Trigger Thyroid Issues?
If you’re wondering about the fare that might bring thyroid troubles to your door, the worst ones have one thing in common: They’re not real. As noted by Mind Body Green:
“Refined, processed, homogenized, pasteurized, genetically modified, fortified, and artificially flavored (or colored or preserved) ‘foods.’ The key to fixing the body, not just covering up ailments or shifting symptoms, but truly fixing the body, is produce. The key to deteriorating your health is refined, processed foods.”11
In particular, the following, which are often found in processed foods, might be problematic. First and foremost:
- Gluten: with any thyroid issues, the first thing to eliminate is gluten. It can cause inflammation, gastrointestinal malfunction, thyroid disruption and other problems.
- Non-Fermented Soy: no matter how many “natural” soy products claim to be good for you, soy may alter hormone function, especially in women. A plethora of studies indicate that soy phytoestrogens can damage your thyroid, as well as cause cognitive decline
- Genetically Engineered (GE) Foods: genetically engineered foods may trigger both Graves’ and Hashimoto’s disease by eroding your gut lining.
- Bromines: bromine is a processed, endocrine-disrupting food additive often found in the flour used in bread and baked goods, sodas, sports drinks, toothpaste, mouthwash, plastic computer parts, upholstery and pesticides sprayed on strawberries.12
Good nutrition goes a long way toward helping to manage and even reverse the symptoms of hypothyroidism. As always, it’s best to obtain your nutrition from foods rather than resorting to supplements, if possible.
By Dr. Mercola
A rare retraction of sorts among a well-respected international scientific body has caused a few raised eyebrows. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now concluded that a regular date with your favorite cup of joe may not cause cancer after all.
This has been met with elation on the part of many coffee drinkers, relief on the part of guilty addicts not really sure if their obsession was necessarily good for them and complete ambivalence on the part of people who don't care; either way, they intend to have their brew, and enjoy it, too.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)1 report published in The Lancet Oncology, reads:
"After thoroughly reviewing more than 1,000 studies in humans and animals, the Working Group found that there was inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity of coffee drinking overall.
Many epidemiological studies showed that coffee drinking had no carcinogenic effects for cancers of the pancreas, female breast and prostate, and reduced risks were seen for cancers of the liver and uterine endometrium. For more than 20 other cancers, the evidence was inconclusive."2
One caveat, however, is that hot coffee or tea can pose a health risk if it exceeds 149 degrees Fahrenheit, and may be culpable in relation to esophageal cancer.
Interestingly, the bulk of the IARC report dealt with the threat of drinking hot coffee as opposed to the apparently nonexistent hazards of the coffee itself. Little mention is ever made of the health problems that are introduced when adding sugar, fake sugar and fake creamer to coffee.Coffee: Studies Show It to Be Beneficial for Health
There's been a firestorm of rhetoric at intervals over the past century regarding coffee and its supposed dangers, and just as much supposition about its incredible health-boosting advantages. The Atlantic reported:
"In the early 1900s, doctors and health agencies warned that caffeine was essentially 'poison,' and that drinking coffee would cause 'nerve storms,' according to a 1912 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Nervous women, the newspaper cautioned, should abstain from coffee altogether. 'Unsteady nerves are foes of beauty,' it said.
… Over time, the debate about coffee — fueled by a combination of legitimate research, junk science, marketing and the rumor mill — has amounted to what the writer Andrew Revkin has called 'whiplash journalism,' in which sweeping conclusions about what's good or bad for you contribute to a mess of contradictions."3
Many in the scientific community have claimed for decades that coffee actually provides multiple health benefits. In fact, large reviews on the topic have come to the same conclusion that coffee can be erased from the "harmful" list of foods and placed on the "advantageous" list. According to The New York Times:
"Last year, a panel of scientists that shaped the federal government's 2015 dietary guidelines said there was 'strong evidence' that three to five cups of coffee daily was not harmful, and that 'moderate' consumption might reduce chronic disease.
Another group, the World Cancer Research Fund International, reported that coffee protects against multiple types of cancer. And several systematic reviews of studies involving millions of people have found that regular coffee drinkers live longer than others."4
The evidence is fairly convincing that coffee may not only lower your cancer risk, but also your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and neurological disorders.Reports, Reviews, Evidence and Inconsistencies
It wasn't that long ago — 1991, to be exact — that coffee was termed a "possible carcinogen" linked to bladder cancer. The recent announcement included the acknowledgment that there was simply a lack of evidence that coffee might cause cancer at all.
As a matter of fact, early reports on coffee had compared its hazards with those of lead and diesel fuel.
Those previous studies hadn't taken into account that many of the coffee drinkers under scrutiny were also heavy smokers, according to Dana Loomis, Ph.D., first author of the report and deputy head of the WHO program focused on cancer-causing substance classifications. In addition, more up-to-date studies have become available.
When the group of 23 scientists from 10 countries met in Lyon, France, the issues surrounded the evidence for or against coffee, as well as "mate," a tea-like, high-caffeine drink popular in South America.
The group reviewed more than 1,000 studies, submitted over decades, the upshot of which: coffee failed to show detriment to health in relation to prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers, as had been previously conjectured. In the case of uterine and liver cancers, coffee was linked to a lowered cancer risk.
Twenty other cancer types showed "inadequate" evidential links of coffee being a carcinogen; many showed beneficial associations.South American 'Mate' Drink Analyzed for Carcinogenic Effect
One of the interesting points made about the above-mentioned mate was that its review was likely based on "single-point-in-time" studies on South Americans with esophageal cancer who probably drank mate.
When the IARC researchers started looking at mate's possible link with cancer, it fell into the "drunk hot" or "very hot" categories. That must have rung a bell, since there's evidence that molten-hot drinks can do thermal damage to the cells in your throat and digestive tract, and possibly trigger cancer.
Further digging into the possibilities netted a bundle of case-control studies (which experts later called "the weakest kind").5 IARC subsequently entered very hot tea and other hot drinks to be a "significant" risk for human esophageal cancer.
As a result, IARC concluded that beverages hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit are "probably carcinogenic to humans." According to the Coffee Detective, the best temperature for brewing coffee is between 155 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.6
Black Bear Coffee Micro Roastery suggests the slightly warmer temperature of 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit,7 but study author Loomis said North Americans and Europeans usually prefer to drink theirs at around 136 degrees Fahrenheit.8Studies and More Studies Not Only Exonerate Coffee but Commend It
As previously noted, 40 studies found either zero connection between coffee consumption and cancer risk or found it actually produced a slightly protective effect. Some of the studies under most scrutiny were those associating coffee consumption with decreasing uterine and liver cancer risks.9
One of the most telling was a report that coffee drinkers exhibit a 15 percent decrease in liver cancer risk for every cup of coffee ingested per day.10 A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analysis in 2012 reported that drinking coffee was linked to a decreased endometrial cancer risk.11
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) submitted new dietary guidelines concluding that three to five cups of coffee a day — 400 milligrams of caffeine — was linked to a lowered risk of Parkinson's disease.13
With all this information about coffee, the Mayo Clinic noted on its website that in deciding whether coffee is a positive or negative, it's possible that the health benefits outweigh the risks.Expert: Coffee Is 'Probably Not Something to Worry About'
It's interesting, however, that even with all the reviews indicating coffee may in fact be a nutritional asset, the WHO experts gave it rather tepid scores. They placed it in the same category as fluoride, low-frequency electric fields and a nail polish solvent called toluene, which they believe showed insufficient potential as a carcinogen.
Not everyone is thrilled with the findings or the halfhearted efforts the agency exerted to get to the bottom of whether coffee drinking is good or bad. Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D., acancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, noted that the agency seems to diminish positive reports and magnify anything negative. He told The New York Times:
"What the evidence shows overall is that coffee drinking is associated with either reduced risk of several cancers or certainly no clear increase in other cancers … There's a strong signal that this is probably not something that we need to be worrying about."14
The IARC noted, "Since 1971, more than 900 agents have been evaluated, of which more than 400 have been identified as carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic to humans."15 That list includes substances like asbestos and also processed meats, cigarettes and wood dust. Finding carcinogens in water is pretty sobering to learn. So are reports of the health damage caused by cellphones. One article noted:
"The agency did not go so far as to give coffee its 'probably not carcinogenic' label. In nearly 1,000 carcinogenicity assessments, IARC has exonerated only a single substance — caprolactam, a compound used to make nylon — which has made it the target of vehement criticism."16The Differences Between Shade-Grown, Organic Versus Conventional Coffee
There are many ways to make sure your coffee is both delicious and good for you, as opposed to not that great and terrible for you. Regarding organic versus conventional coffee, Equal Exchange17 noted:
"Conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It is steeped in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides … Not only does the environment suffer from this overload, but so do the people who live in it.
Farmers are exposed to a high level of chemicals while spraying the crops and while handling them during harvest. The surrounding communities are also impacted through chemical residues in the air and water. These chemical presences are not just unpleasant; many are highly toxic and detrimental to human health."
In contrast, organic coffee contains no chemicals or synthetic fertilizers. The beans have a richer flavor and come with natural antioxidants. It's healthy for you, more sustainable for the farms that grow it, and vastly better for the planet.
Additionally, coffee is a shade-loving plant, but growers often strip forests to make growing and harvesting easier. This destroys the ecological habitat of many natural pest deterrents, such as birds and lizards, while the pests flourish, resulting in additional pesticide use.
The downward spiral to the environment involves chemical run-off, erosion and potentially contaminated water supplies. Organic, shade-grown coffee is available at numerous retail markets, but you can also order it online. Equal Exchange adds:
"Industries can and do change based on the choices that you make in the grocery store or at your favorite café — so you can vote with your mug! By purchasing organic coffee … you support systems that value healthy ecosystems, sustainable methods and superior coffee."18Differences Between Light and Dark Roasted Coffee
When choosing your next cup of java, it's helpful to know the differences in the way it's been roasted. If you're looking for a higher boost of caffeine by drinking a darker roast, you're not likely to get it, because the added roasting time to make it darker actually breaks down the caffeine molecules.
Moreover, the roasting process produces a toxic byproduct called acrylamide, linked to an elevated cancer risk. One would think this would necessitate choosing a lighter roast, but strangely enough, at least one study found that the highest amount of acrylamide appears earlier in the roasting process rather than later, after which the acrylamide level begins to degrade.19
Dark roasts also generate more of the chemical N-methylpyridinium than the lighter variety, which helps keep your stomach from producing excess acid. Further, Italian or French dark-roasted coffee or the types used for espresso or Turkish coffee contain more antioxidants such as vitamin E, neuroprotective agents and protein-building glutathione than lighter roasts. The upshot, then, is that dark roasted coffee may have a leg up, so to speak, on lighter roasts, for a couple of different reasons.The Best Brew: Organic Coffee, Sans Cream and Sugar
Maybe you're one of those people who "cheats" in the coffee category by "indulging" in one of the countless non-dairy creamers at every store and nearly every condiment table. You'll find caramel macchiato, hazelnut or peppermint mocha — you name it. There are liquids and powders and even sugar-free options.
But what's in those products? Well, you'll often find sodium caseinate on the ingredients list, which is a thickener and whitening agent with nutrient-suppressing chemicals. Dipotassium phosphate, used as an anti-coagulant, is also used in fertilizers, and when enough is consumed may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
It's when you drink your coffee black, with no toxic sugar (which could initiate insulin resistance) or chemical-laced sugar substitutes such as Splenda, aka sucralose, aspartame or saccharine, that you receive the most benefits from the coffee. Even real coffee creamer may keep you from being able to absorb beneficial chlorogenic acids present in black coffee.20Dear IARC: Concentrate on What You Know Does Damage
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS) believes that substances that are known to cause cancer and other diseases may be what entities like IARC should be concentrating on.
"Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption are much more significant for reducing cancer risk than the temperature of what you're drinking … As a heavy coffee drinker, I have always enjoyed my coffee guilt-free, but now there is scientific evidence to justify that."21
By Dr. Mercola
Making a commitment to live healthier is an ongoing process. It's virtually impossible to make all the needed changes in one fell swoop. To assist you with this process, I've created a plan you can implement little by little, one step at a time.
Perhaps you made a New Year's resolution to live healthier. The following list consisting of nine general categories will give you an indication of how far you've actually come.
If you're still missing a few pieces, make the commitment to address one item at a time going forward. I've created a helpful Health Check Tip Sheet you can print out and post in a conspicuous location to keep you motivated.Click Here
For more in-depth information on any given topic, please follow the hyperlinks provided.#1 Replace Soda With Water, Tea and Black Organic Coffee
Making the commitment to swap your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water and the occasional cup of tea and/or organic black coffee can go a long way toward improving your health.
Remember, the only beverage your body really needs is clean, pure water. In fact, many common health complaints are simply due to dehydration, including tiredness, headache, irritability, confusion, constipation, dry skin and more.
Unfortunately, most water supplies are heavily polluted these days, even in the United States, so a high-quality water filtration system is a wise investment. Most water supplies contain a number of potentially hazardous contaminants, including fluoride, drugs and disinfection byproducts (DBPs), just to name a few.
How much water do you need each day for optimal health? While many still recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day, individual water needs vary so widely, your best bet is to:
- Use your thirst as a guide. Once your body has lost 1 to 2 percent of its water content, you will feel thirsty. This is a sign that you need to replenish the lost liquids
- Look at the color of your urine. Drink enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow (keep in mind certain vitamin supplements can affect the color of your urine)
- Monitor the frequency of urination. If your urine is scant or if you haven't urinated in several hours, that too is an indication you need to drink more
Besides water, tea and coffee also have their place if you enjoy them. According to the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you can safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day without detrimental effects.1
Both coffee and tea contain caffeine (provided it's not decaffeinated), which has been linked to adverse health effects such as elevated blood pressure, gastric upset and anxiety. However, both coffee and tea contain other health-promoting ingredients that appear to outweigh the drawbacks of caffeine.
Among them are beneficial antioxidants, and according to researchers, coffee, (because of the volume consumed, not because of its high amount) is the primary source of antioxidants in the American diet.7 As with water, quality and purity is not a given though. You need to use discernment with these beverages.
Most coffee is heavily contaminated with pesticides, so when we speak about the benefits of coffee, let it be understood that we're talking about coffee that is:
- Organic (ideally fair trade), to avoid pesticides
- Freshly ground. Once ground, coffee quickly goes stale and rancid, so for optimal freshness grind your own coffee beans
- Dark roast, such as French Roast, espresso or Turkish coffee tends to have the highest amounts of beneficial antioxidants. Dark roast coffee also produces more of a chemical that helps prevent the production of excess stomach acid, so it may be easier on your stomach8
- Served black, meaning without milk or sugar. Adding dairy may interfere with your body's absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids, while the added sugar will contribute to insulin resistance, which is at the heart of most chronic disease
- Brewed with non-bleached filters to avoid chlorine and DBPs such as dioxin
As for tea, both black and green teas tend to be naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides. This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil.
So, as with coffee, when selecting tea, opt for organic (to avoid pesticides), grown in a pristine environment (to avoid fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from contaminated soil and water).#2 Eat 2 Meals a Day Within an 8-Hour Window
Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way has a number of health benefits, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function and preventing cellular damage from occurring.
As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window each day, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.
Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide. There are also a number of other intermittent fasting plans to choose from, should this daily eating schedule not appeal to you.
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/intermittent-fasting.jpg" alt="Intermittent Fasting" 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;"><a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/intermittent-fasting.htm"> Intermittent fasting</a> is not a form of starvation but a way for you to time your meals to maximize your body's ability to burn fat. Embed this infographic on your site to serve as a guide for you to create a healthy eating plan, and reap the many benefits of fasting done the right way. 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/intermittent-fasting.jpg" alt="Intermittent Fasting" 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;">"<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/intermittent-fasting.htm">Intermittent fasting</a>" is not a form of starvation but a way for you to time your meals to maximize your body's ability to burn fat. Embed this infographic on your site to serve as a guide for you to create a healthy eating plan, and reap the many benefits of fasting done the right way. 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 codeEFT Can Increase Your Intermittent Fasting Success
Compliance is a critical factor for any intermittent fasting plan, and stress about fasting can sabotage your success. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can be a helpful ally here, allowing you to tap away your anxiety about fasting. It's one of the most powerful tools for reducing stress and anxiety I know of.
In 2012, a triple blind study9 found that EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent — more than any other intervention tested. Do you worry you'll be hungry all the time? Are you afraid you'll feel deprived or suffer unbearable cravings? Are you worried it won't work for you? EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman covers all of these issues in her video — and more.
The first few weeks of fasting are typically the most challenging, while your body is making the necessary biochemical adjustments to its metabolic engine. Tapping can be extraordinarily beneficial for eliminating anxiety and cravings during this time. EFT is easy to learn and once you do, it's always at your fingertips — whenever and wherever you need it.#3 Clean Up Your Diet
As for what to eat when you do eat, the most basic of recommendations is to simply eat REAL FOOD. With that foundation in mind, I also recommend you:
✓ Replace net carbs with healthy fats
Replace net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber; think sugars and grains) with high-quality healthy fats. Fats are a "cleaner" type of fuel for your body compared to carbs, and most would benefit getting anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of daily calories from healthy fats, such as that from avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured eggs, coconuts, coconut oil, organic nut oils, raw nuts (especially macadamias and pecans), seeds, and grass-fed meats.
Dietary fats can be generally classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (PUFA). A "saturated" fat means that all carbon atoms have their bonds filled with hydrogen atoms and as a result they are far less likely to oxidize and go rancid. Fats in foods contain a mixture of fats, but in foods of animal origin a large proportion are saturated.
Research shows avoiding saturated fat does NOT help prevent heart disease or improve longevity. In fact, saturated fats have protective effects. The benefits of saturated fat are many, and some appear to be uniquely traceable to saturated fat. For example, you need saturated fats for brain and immune system health.
Another argument is that animal foods in general, including meat cheese, butter, dairy, and eggs, contain high amounts of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble, and you have to have the fat that comes naturally in animal foods along with the vitamins in order to absorb those vitamins.
✓ Eat more fiber
You can have virtually unlimited amounts of high-fiber vegetables, which are low in net carbs, Several studies have shown a 10 percent drop in risk for any cause of death with each 10-gram-per-day increase in fiber intake.
Soluble fiber helps nourish beneficial bacteria that assist with digestion and absorption of your food, and play a significant role in your immune function. Studies have also linked a high-fiber diet to beneficial reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation — all of which can influence your mortality risk.
✓ Vegetable juicing
Vegetable juicing is an easy way to boost your vegetable intake, providing your body with important nutrients in an easily digestible form. The bulk of your juice should come from organic, green veggies – spinach, celery, kale, Swiss chard, etc. — not fruits, which are too high in fructose.
✓ Grow (and eat) sprouts
Sprouts allow you to get the most benefit out of a plant in its most biologically concentrated form. When you sprout foods, you increase proteolytic enzymes that make both carbohydrates and proteins digestible. Sprouts are not only an excellent source of fiber, they also offer some of the highest levels of nutrition available, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage, plus various plant chemicals unique to any given sprout.
Sunflower seed and pea shoots are both typically about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables, and are among the highest in protein. Sprouts are one of the easiest foods to grow at home, even in small spaces, allowing you to improve your diet at a low cost. You can find sprout starter kits and different kinds of sprouting seeds in my online shop.
✓ Optimize your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio
It's important to understand the difference between plant- and animal-based omega-3 fats. Many believe plant-based omega-3 is preferable to animal-based omega-3, but they're not really interchangeable. Ideally, you want both, but animal-based omega-3 is particularly important for optimal health and many are deficient in it.
Part of the problem is not eating enough omega-3 rich foods, like wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fatty fish like sardines. The other side of the equation is eating far too many processed vegetable oils like corn, soy, and canola, which are high in damaged omega-6 oils. Ideally, you want an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of about 1:1. To achieve that, you likely need to increase your animal-based omega-3 and decrease your omega-6.
Barring high consumption of fatty fish, your next best option is to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement. I prefer krill oil, as it's both superior in its activity to fish oil, and more environmentally sustainable.
✓ Moderate your protein consumption and choose quality over quantity
Eating too much protein may be more hazardous to your health, than eating too much sugar. I recommend eating a moderate amount of high-quality protein (think grass-fed meats and eggs, for example), based on a formula of one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (or 1 gram per kilo of lean body mass).
✓ Eat fermented vegetables
In the U.S., the preparation of fermented foods is a largely lost art. I'm trying to change that, as fermented vegetables are such an inexpensive and effective way to optimize your gut microbiome and improve both your physical and mental health. When your GI tract is not properly balanced, a wide range of health problems can appear, including allergies and autoimmune diseases.
In fact, over the past several years, research has revealed that microbes of all kinds — bacteria, fungi, and even viruses — play instrumental roles in the functioning of your body, influencing everything from vitamin production and detoxification, to your affecting your weight and mood.
Fermented foods are packed with beneficial microorganisms that most people do not get elsewhere. Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health.
To learn how to make your own, please review the video below and read through my previous article, "Tips for Fermenting at Home." Aside from your choice of vegetables, all you need are some wide-mouth glass jars with lids. There are other accessories that can be helpful, such as pounders, weights and carbon filter jar lids that help reduce odors, but they're not essential.
One addition you may want to consider though is a starter culture. Besides speeding up the fermentation process, some can provide additional benefits. I like using a starter culture specifically designed to optimize vitamin K2. My research team found we could get 400 to 500 micrograms of vitamin K2 in a 2-ounce serving of fermented vegetables using such a starter culture, which is a clinically therapeutic dose for K2.
✓ Clean up your condiments
Commercially prepared condiments are typically a mixture of low-quality, genetically engineered ingredients, chemical preservatives, fillers and taste and texture enhancers that have potential health risks. Fortunately, making your own isn't as difficult as you might imagine. Recipes for homemade mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, ketchup and barbeque sauce can be found in my article, "What's in Your Condiments?"#4 Get 8 Hours of Restful Sleep Each Night
Research shows most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night for optimal health. What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn't just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many. It has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.
For example, sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.10 Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep. This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction).
Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. The resulting increase in appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Poor or insufficient sleep is also the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.11
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. If you're not sure how much sleep you're getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you're asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed). If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene. You can also find useful tips in my "Top 5 Natural Sleep Aids" article.
Key recommendations for improving the amount and quality of your sleep include getting plenty of natural sunlight exposure in the early morning and mid-day, and avoiding blue light exposure in the evening. This includes avoiding electronic screens, which emit blue light unless you've installed light-altering software like f.lux. Another alternative is to use amber-colored glasses that block blue light, which can be purchased for about $10 on Amazon.
This is an ideal solution if you don't want to change out your light bulbs and skip watching television before going to bed. Also make sure your sleeping quarter is dark to prevent melatonin suppression, which will make it difficult to fall asleep. I recommend installing thick drapes for this reason, but a far cheaper alternative is to use a sleep mask. An eye mask filled with lavender can be particularly soothing.#5 Mind Your Oral Health
Poor oral health can contribute to systemic inflammation, raising your risk for bad breath, dementia, pneumonia, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease and head and neck cancers. So make it a habit to brush twice a day and floss daily. Oil pulling with coconut oil is another strategy that can help improve both your oral and general health by deep-cleaning your mouth and drawing out toxins. It also helps promote microbiome homeostasis, which is important for oral health.
Personally, this technique has significantly reduced my plaque buildup, allowing me to go longer between visits to the dental hygienist. How is it done? Simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. Work the oil around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 15 minutes.
When done, spit out the oil (do NOT swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water. I typically spit mine out on the soil outside of my house, being careful to avoid any plants, to avoid clogging up my sink. If you want, you could dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water and rinse with that. Himalayan salt contains more than 85 different minerals that can also help promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.#6 Sit Less, Walk More and Work on Your Flexibility
The average American adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting, which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout cannot counteract its adverse effects on your health. While it might seem natural to sit this long since you've probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it's actually quite contrary to nature.
Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. Your body is designed to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead. To get more movement into your daily life, consider implementing the following:
• Set a goal to walk about 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five U.S. miles, or six to nine kilometers). This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have. Daily walking has been shown to provide anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.
• Walk barefoot more often. 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 of grounding is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance well being and much more
• Stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. A stand-up desk is certainly a worthwhile investment if you have an office job.
• Work on your flexibility. Also make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are just some of your options.#7 Get Your Vitamin D Level Tested
I recommend testing your vitamin D twice a year: around January, when your level will be at its lowest, and June or July, when it'll be at its peak. This will help guide you as to how much vitamin D you may need to take in order to maintain a clinically relevant level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter year-round. Testing your vitamin D is easy. You don't even need a doctor's prescription.
As a service that is part of GrassrootsHealth's vitamin D education efforts, I offer vitamin D testing kits in my online shop. I make no profit from these kits. It's the same price you would pay were you to enroll in the GrassrootsHealth D*Action project.Click Here #8 Make Stress Reduction a Daily Priority
Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may account for up to 70 percent of the average American physician's caseload.12 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer. Research suggests these costs could be drastically cut simply by learning how to relax.13
There are many options here, so try a few to determine which works best. Here are just a few suggestions. For more tips and tricks, check out my "23 (Scientific) Happiness Hacks" article:
• Daily meditation or mindfulness training: both are excellent for stress relief and relaxation. One simple way to incorporate these techniques into your life is to meditate for five or 10 minutes first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.
• Yoga: regular yoga practice has been shown to have a positive effect on both sleep and stress. It's also been shown to alleviate mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
• Keep a gratitude journal: people who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, are happier, and better able to reach their goals, and studies show that those who keep a gratitude journal typically end up exercising more and have fewer health complaints. Studies have also linked gratitude to improved sleep, reduced stress, enhanced well-being, improved heart health.
• Learn EFT: one of the most effective tools against anxiety is EFT, which helps correct the biochemical short-circuiting that occurs with chronic anxiety. You can think of EFT as a tool for "reprogramming" your circuitry, and it works on both real and imagined stressors.
• Start a garden: gardening is an excellent "blues buster," helping relieve acute stress and attention fatigue associated with a fast-paced life. Many gardeners start out gardening because they want to sample some homegrown food but end up sticking with gardening because of how it feeds their mind and soul.
That said, anyone who's really serious about improving their health will eventually conclude that growing your own food is an important part of the answer. For helpful tips on making your garden a success, please review my previous articles on using wood chips and biochar to optimize your soil quality.#9 Help Others and Be Active in Your Community
Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it's also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you'll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.
In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn't.14 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.15
The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There's a definite social aspect, as if you're socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.
Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called "helper's high," which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.
Adobo, dubbed the “national dish of the Philippines" (though unofficially), is cooked by braising the meat in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and herbs until it is tender. The saltiness of the soy sauce mixes nicely with the vinegar (or lemon), while the herbs give a nice aroma that spreads throughout your kitchen and into the dining room. It’s usually served with rice, which is also a staple Filipino food.
Due to adobo's popularity in the Philippines, you'll probably eat it as your first meal when you visit the country. It's like being served fish and chips on your first visit to England – it's a dish you just have to try. But you don’t need to travel all the way to the Philippines to enjoy this hearty dish. Try this hearty Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe from my reader, Edith Attreed, who inherited it from her grandmother.
4 to 5 pounds organic free-range chicken thighs
½ cup white vinegar or 2 organic lemons, juiced
½ cup organic Kikkoman soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1. Combine the chicken thighs, vinegar or lemon juice, Kikkoman soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, olive oil, and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover to marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.
2. Bring the chicken to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened and the chicken is tender – about 20 more minutes.
The Benefits of High-Quality Pastured Chicken
Chicken is a good source of protein, which is essential for bodily functions such as muscle growth and slowing down aging. The good thing about using chicken is it takes a shorter time for the meat to become tender. Once properly cooked, you don't need a knife to cut the meat – your fork will do just fine.
One thing I need to emphasize is to purchase organic, free-range chicken. This type of meat is safer and healthier for your body because it does not contain toxic chemicals injected into the chickens, which can be harmful when eaten. Free-range chickens roam outdoors freely, where they hunt for worms, seeds, insects and plants. By letting chickens eat their natural diet at their own leisure, they grow healthy without the problems from injected antibiotics.
However, when consuming protein-rich meats such as chicken, it's important to watch out for the amount you eat. Excessive intake can unlock your mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which can lead to cancer. To be safe, I advise moderate consumption of around 40 to 70 grams of protein a day.
Vinegar and Soy Sauce: The Mix That Makes Adobo Unique
Vinegar is made by fermenting the ethanol of a variety of sources such as apple cider, sugarcane, coconut, and grapes. The consistency of the fermentation process always gives vinegar its well-known sour taste, but the different sources can provide different variations of sourness.
Vinegar is known for its strong antimicrobial properties. By using vinegar as a marinade in adobo, you're effectively killing any bacteria inside the meat, making it very safe for consumption. One study even found that vinegar can effectively kill E. Coli O157:H7 –this is a testament to vinegar's strength.
White vinegar is commonly used in adobo, but you're free to give other vinegars a try if the end product doesn't suit your taste. If you don't like the taste of vinegar, lemons can be used in its place. What's great about lemons is that they provide a good source of vitamin C, at 187 percent of the daily recommended intake. It also contains assorted nutrients such as thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium and fiber. Make sure you're obtaining organic lemons, though, so you don't get pesticides in your system.
As for soy sauce, its manufacturing process is similar to vinegar. Soybeans are fermented along with water and salt to create its signature salty flavor. When choosing soy sauce for adobo, it's important to choose traditionally fermented, preservative-free products, such as Kikkoman's Organic Soy Sauce. I've written about the dangers of unfermented soy before, and how it can potentially harm your health. If you want to get the authentic taste of Filipino Adobo, I recommend purchasing organic soy sauce only.
Garlic and Bay Leaves Add Flavor to This Dish
Garlic is one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking, and there's plenty of evidence to support its health benefits. It provides an excellent supply of manganese that is essential for proper thyroid gland function, healthy bones, and calcium absorption. Similar to lemons, garlic is also a good source of vitamin C.
Four cloves of garlic are enough for the measurements listed in this recipe. Add too much and the garlic's flavor will overpower the rest of the ingredients. Like other ingredients, you should purchase fresh organic garlic to maximize the benefits.
The role of bay leaves in adobo is to enhance the aroma. It actually plays a big part in adobo's popularity – the resulting smell of bay leaves combined with the other ingredients creates a very inviting smell.
Bay leaves are known to provide several health benefits as well, such as improving your digestive system, cardiovascular health, and managing stress levels. They are also known for their ability to battle free radicals in your body, reducing the risk of cancer. Feel free to add bay leaves to your other dishes as well, such as soups, to maximize its benefit.
A Little Pepper Goes a Long Way
Black peppercorn, commonly known as "pepper," is an essential ingredient not only in adobo, but in countless other dishes. It is used to add spice, bringing life to an otherwise bland dish. Be careful when adding pepper to adobo, as you can end up with a spicy flavor that overpowers other ingredients.
Pepper is known to be a good source of manganese, vitamin K, iron and fiber, which are all essential for a healthy body. Aside from these benefits, pepper is also a carminative, meaning it prevents intestinal gas from forming.
Adobo is a deceptively simple dish due to its ease of preparation and small number of ingredients required, but don't let that fool you. This dish has been around for a long time and once you take a bite, you'll know why. The health benefits are amazing as well. You can add this recipe to your list, as it’s perfect when you're home from a tiring day from work and you want to cook something easy and nutritious at the same time.
By Dr. Mercola
Coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinol are two vitally important supplements that many are still unaware of. Risa Schulman, Ph.D., is a biologist and functional food expert who has spent the last two decades researching these and other supplements.
"I kind of pulled together my love of human physiology, plant physiology and the environment into a lifelong career, looking at how compounds in plants and various natural products can help us to keep our bodies working optimally," she says.
"My mission is to dig into the science and separate the wheat from the chaff ... and then to get the word out to the public as to what the health benefits are, how they can be used, and what things are useful."Coenzyme Q10 Versus Ubiquinol
Ubiquinol is the reduced version of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, aka ubiquinone). They're actually the same molecule, but when CoQ10 is reduced it takes on two electrons, which turns it into what we call ubiquinol.
In your body, this conversion occurs thousands of times every second inside your mitochondria — the "engine" of each cell in which energy is produced
"The reason it does this flipping back and forth between these two forms of the molecule is that this is part of the process that helps us to change our food into energy," Schulman explains.
"This is very important to healthy functioning, and obviously important for all muscles, in particular your heart muscle, which works hardest of all the muscles."
In addition to converting food into energy, ubiquinol also has a number of additional functions. For starters, ubiquinol is a lipid-soluble (fat-soluble) antioxidant, meaning it works in the lipid portions of your body, such as your cell membranes. It's one of the very few antioxidants that are fat-soluble.
"Vitamin E is one of the other ones that is very well known. But ubiquinol is actually more powerful than vitamin E, because vitamin E cannot completely lodge itself inside the membrane where all the oxidative activity is happening whereas ubiquinol can."
The second thing that sets ubiquinol apart from other antioxidants is that it can regenerate itself. Vitamin E, for example, cannot. In fact, vitamin E is regenerated by ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is also the only fat-soluble antioxidant that's actually generated within your body and doesn't have to be ingested from your food.Why Ubiquinol Is a Better Choice for Many
Ubiquinol production ramps up from early childhood up until your mid- to late 20s. By the time you hit the age of 30, it begins to decline. Young people are able to use CoQ10 supplements quite well, but older people do better with ubiquinol as it's more readily absorbed.
According to Schulman, some people cannot convert CoQ10 to ubiquinol at all in their bodies, and they definitely need to use ubiquinol or they won't get any of the benefits.
"If someone takes a CoQ10 supplement, the body very quickly will convert it to ubiquinol, because that's the preferred form. It will transport that CoQ10 through the blood, as ubiquinol, into the tissues and eventually into the mitochondria," she explains.
“But there are some people who lack the enzyme that helps to convert the CoQ10 to ubiquinol. That could be partly due to aging, but it’s also genetic. There’s something called a single nucleotide polymorphism SNP).
There's a particular SNP that's called NQO1. When a person has either one or two copies of this SNP, their ability to convert CoQ10 is either slightly or severely compromised.
What that means, practically, is that if this person takes a CoQ10 supplement ... their body can't convert it in a way that makes it usable. Those people in particular can benefit very much from taking ubiquinol, instead of ubiquinone."
Research has shown that Hispanic and Chinese populations are especially prone to having this single nucleotide polymorphism. There are also genetic tests you can get that can identify whether you have it.How to Regenerate CoQ10 Naturally
Interestingly, recent research shows you can improve your body's conversion of CoQ10 to ubiquinol by eating lots of green leafy vegetables, which are loaded with chlorophyll, in combination with sun exposure.
Once chlorophyll is consumed it gets transported into your blood. Then when you expose significant amounts of skin to sunshine, that chlorophyll absorbs the solar radiation and facilitates the conversion of CoQ10 to ubiquinol.
About 90 percent or more of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body are produced in your mitochondria. Using the analogy of the mitochondria as an engine, the combustion (metabolism) that takes place in there creates exhaust fumes — damaging byproducts.
One of the functions of ubiquinol is to mop up those byproducts. When ubiquinol is lacking, the byproducts remain and begin damaging the cell. Ubiquinol is particularly beneficial for your heart health, a marker for which is C-reactive protein. When C-reactive protein is elevated it suggests you have a heightened risk for heart disease, as it's a marker for inflammation.
Two other markers for inflammation are gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), which is an early marker of heart failure, and NT-proBNP. There's an association between the levels of these two markers and ubiquinol as well. When ubiquinol is supplemented, both these markers go down and genes associated with them are downregulated.The Case for a Healthy High-Fat Diet
Over the past 15 years, scientists have begun to recognize that ROS are not 100 percent bad. They're also important signaling molecules. If you indiscriminately suppress them you can actually run into complications with the Law of Unintended Consequences. In my view, a wise strategy is to simply feed your body a cleaner fuel to suppress excess ROS generation.
To continue the analogy of your mitochondria being an engine, to prevent pollution you want to use a cleaner-burning fuel. Glucose is an inherently "dirty" fuel that generates lots of ROS, whereas healthy dietary fats, including saturated fats, burn much cleaner and more efficiently.
In fact, burning carbohydrates is associated with a 30 to 40 percent increased production of ROS compared to burning fat. It makes a lot of sense that if you produce fewer ROS to begin with, then you don't have to be as careful about supplying your body with antioxidants. (Personally, I have some concern over indiscriminate use of antioxidants, but not necessarily ubiquinol.)
“Counter to how we’ve all been trained to think in the last years, regarding the free radical theory of aging, you don’t want to suppress it all the time,” Schulman says. “In fact, free radicals actually play a very critical positive role in the body because they turn on various very important functions.
Nitric oxide, for example, has free radical properties. It's a critical signaling molecule and is also critical for the health of your arteries. I haven't read anything in the literature regarding whether there's a discriminating or non-discriminating suppression of reactive oxygen species by ubiquinol in the mitochondria.
But my understanding of the biochemistry and the bioenergetics that are happening there leads me to believe that it's more of a random process."
Another strategy you could use to reduce the production of excess ROS involves the timing of your last meal of the day. Many make the mistake of eating a large meal before they go to bed.
By supplying your body fuel at a time when very little is needed leads to the generation of excess ROS that then must be countered with antioxidants. Avoiding food for at least three hours or more before bedtime can take the load off your body by preventing excess ROS production in the first place.
Finally, making sure you are not overloaded with iron is another powerful strategy. Believe me, iron overload is every bit as dangerous as vitamin D deficiency. If you are an adult male or non-menstruating woman then you are at high risk.
Please make sure you get your ferritin level checked and confirm that the level is below 80 nanograms (ng)/milliliters (ml), preferably between 40 and 60 ng/ml. If it is higher than that then it is imperative that you regularly donate your blood or have therapeutic phlebotomies to get it in that range.Statin Users Are in Dire Need of CoQ10
At least 1 in 4 American adults over the age of 40 are currently taking a statin drug to lower their cholesterol. Soon that number is expected to reach 1 in 3. Statins work by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which is one of the facilitators of your body's production of cholesterol. But statins also impair production of CoQ10, and the resulting depletion can have very severe consequences.
"This is a very important topic," Schulman says. "Many who take statins have the side effects of muscle pain, fatigue and memory loss — to such a point that compliance becomes an issue; people don't want to be on statins anymore. It's been documented and recognized medically that these are real effects and that they're due to the statins. What's actually happening? The way a statin works is that it blocks your body's production of cholesterol.
We're always thinking about cholesterol from the diet ... Most people don't realize that cholesterol in the body comes from two places: from the diet and from your internal production of cholesterol. Cholesterol is quite important to your body, because cholesterol is one of the major components of cell membranes. It's also the precursor for all the sex hormones. It's not all bad. It's just bad when there's too much and that depends on what kind as well."
Besides shutting down your body's ability to produce ubiquinol, statin drugs also shut down the conversion of vitamin K1 to vitamin K2, which is critically important in many body functions, including heart health.
Impairing these three pathways — the production of cholesterol and CoQ10, and the vitamin K1 to K2 conversion — has adverse effects on the production of energy and on cardiovascular health, and here's why: when you reduce your ubiquinol levels, the conversion of your food to energy becomes less efficient, which leads to lower energy, fatigue and muscle pains.
And the longer you're on a statin drug, the more ubiquinol-starved your body becomes and the more severe the side effects become. Recently published papers have also detailed the cardiovascular repercussions of statins. As it turns out, they actually end up causing many of the disease endpoints the drugs promised to prevent. But that's not all!Statins Severely Compromise Your Metabolism
As mentioned, one of the most rational strategies to reduce ROS production is to burn clean fuel. Ultimately, that results from eating a diet high in healthy high-quality fats. When fat is metabolized, ketones are created — a fat-soluble molecule that is readily burned in the mitochondria without causing the production of excess ROS.
Ketones are produced in the liver, and the enzyme that produces ketones is the same that produces cholesterol, namely HMG-CoA reductase. So when you're taking a statin drug, you also severely diminish your liver's ability to make ketones, thereby compromising your ability to benefit from a clean fuel (fat). In short, your metabolism becomes severely compromised.
Even if you're taking vitamin K2 and ubiquinol, you still have to address the fact that you cannot make ketones, because you cannot take a ketone supplement. Ultimately, this has cardiovascular consequences as well, because your heart is the most mitochondrial-dense tissue in your body. If you deprive your cardiac tissue of fuel, by definition you impair your cardiovascular health.Ubiquinol Benefits Heart Failure Patients
Heart failure is nearly at epidemic levels. There's a specific physiological condition called diastolic dysfunction where your ventricle hardens. As a result, your heart cannot properly refill with blood during diastole. This can eventually progress to heart failure. Unfortunately, many who have this condition don't even know it. There are markers that can be used to screen for it though, including NT-proBNP and GGT.
"There are a couple of papers out there now that talk about actual physician experience with patients with heart failure. They had some of these patients on CoQ10, and then they ended up switching to ubiquinol because of the better absorption. But the bottom line is that they saw a reversal in the New York Heart Association class.
That's the New York Heart Association's way of rating the severity of the disease. They see reductions in the severity of the disease. They see improvement in the ejection fraction, which is a measure of how well the heart is working in patients ... This is one of the other fantastic benefits of ubiquinol and something that both doctors and patients should know about," Schulman says.
I personally think all heart failure patients should be on ubiquinol. To me, failure to do so is medical negligence. When it comes to heart health, a more general benefit is that ubiquinol also acts as an antioxidant in your blood, where it prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, thereby helping prevent atherosclerosis. This is another important heart health function of ubiquinol.Suggested Dosing Recommendations
Dosing requirements will vary depending on your individual situation and needs, but some general guidelines can still be made. As a general rule, the sicker you are, the more you need. According to Schulman, the highest amount she's seen used in a research setting was 600 milligrams (mg) per day, and that was for severely ill people.
If you're just starting out with ubiquinol, start with 200 to 300 mg per day. Within three weeks, your plasma levels will typically plateau to its optimum level. After that, you can go down to a 100 mg/day maintenance dose. This dose is typically sufficient for healthy people. If you have an active lifestyle, exercise a lot, or are under a lot of stress due to your job or "life" in general, you may want to increase your dose to 200 to 300 mg/day.
Remember, if you're on a statin drug you MUST take at least 100 to 200 mg of ubiquinol or CoQ10 per day, or more. To address heart failure and/or other significant heart problems you may need around 350 mg per day or more. Ideally, you'll want to work with your physician to ascertain your ideal dose. Your doctor can do a blood test to measure your CoQ10 levels, which would tell you whether your dose is high enough to keep you within a healthy range.
CoQ10 (or ubiquinol) is also appropriate for those with other chronic diseases besides heart problems, such as diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic fatigue and autism for example. Ideally, you'll want to split the dose up to two or three times a day, rather than taking it all at once, as this will result in higher blood levels.
Other dosing guidelines, as presented by Dr. Stephen Sinatra (a board-certified cardiologist, and a prominent expert in the field of natural cardiology) include:
✓ Hypertension, 200 mg/day
✓ World class athletes who need extra ATP turnover, 300 to 600 mg/day
✓ Heart transplant or severe congestive heart failure (CHF), 300 to 600 mg/day in divided doses
✓ Arrhythmia, 200 mg/day
✓ Typical athletes, 100 to 300 mg/day
✓ Mitral valve prolapse, a combination of 400 mg magnesium and 100 to 200 mg of ubiquinol
By Dr. Mercola
Dr. Robert Lustig’s 2009 video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," has now garnered nearly 6.5 million views on YouTube. The featured video is a follow-up on that original lecture.
In it, he discusses the metabolic influence of sugar and processed foods on obesity and related diseases. He also reviews the importance of diet versus exercise when weight loss is your goal.
Delving into the science behind different types of sugar, Lustig explains the metabolic differences between glucose and fructose, which is at the very heart of the obesity and diabetes problems.What Do Rising Obesity and Diabetes Rates Suggest?
According to Lustig, 6 million American children were overweight or obese in 2001. Today that number exceeds 23 million.1 This is despite all the anti-obesity campaigns and measures launched since then.
Clearly, nutritional and weight loss recommendations provided to the public over the past 15 years are deeply and fundamentally flawed.
Worldwide, obese people now outnumber the starving by 30 percent. Fifteen years ago, this statistic was the reverse. Today, 5 percent of the global population is also diabetic. According to Lustig, these kinds of statistics suggest that obesity and diabetes are not due to behavior, but rather exposure.
If the trends continue, it’s been estimated that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese, and 100 million Americans — nearly one-third of the current population — will have diabetes by 2050. Meanwhile, Medicare is expected to be broke by 2026.
The fact of the matter is we’ve been following the same reasoning for the past 30 years, and the problem of obesity and diabetes keeps getting worse by the year. It is time to reframe how we view the problem, and how we resolve it.Visceral Versus Subcutaneous Obesity
While 80 percent of the obese population is sick, it’s important to realize that metabolic dysfunction affects normal weight people as well. In fact, about 40 percent of normal weight individuals have the same health problems as those who are obese.
Lustig shows a cross-section image of the internal abdominal cavity of two individuals. They both weigh the same, yet one is healthy and the other is not. The one struggling with health issues has far more visceral fat — the fat that accumulates around the internal organs.
The number on your scale does not tell you how your fat is distributed. It also cannot tell you how much of your weight is due to fat (subcutaneous fat, which is not necessarily bad for your health and visceral fat, which is quite hazardous), and how much is bone or muscle.
Your waist circumference can give you a decent clue, but even this measurement isn’t foolproof, as there are many thin people who fall into the “thin on the outside and fat on the inside” category, a condition referred to as TOFI.
Those with TOFI have the same health problems as obese people, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
In short, obesity in and of itself is not the root cause of failing health worldwide. It’s merely another symptom. The real problem is metabolic syndrome, which accounts for 75 percent of all healthcare dollars spent in the U.S. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that include:
✓ Lipid abnormalities
✓ Cardiovascular disease
✓ Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
✓ Polycystic ovarian disease
✓ DementiaObesity and the Law of Thermodynamics
The law of thermodynamics says that “the total energy inside a closed system remains constant.” Obesity is said to be a result of this law. However, there are two different interpretations of this law.
1. The calories-in, calories-out interpretation. According to this interpretation, you have to use up the calories you ingest, or else the excess calories will turn into body fat and result in weight gain.
If this interpretation was correct, then the solution to weight gain would be a matter of energy balance, which is what the processed food and soda industries would like you to believe.
Since excess food consumption and lack of exercise are both behaviors, based on this interpretation, obesity is caused by personal shortcomings or choice.
The dogma associated with this interpretation is that “a calorie is a calorie,” and it doesn’t matter where the calories come from because they all produce the same results.
2. The energy deposition interpretation. If you accept that calories are NOT created equal and that obesity is the result of aberrant energy deposition, you can interpret the law of thermodynamics in a whole new way.
Essentially, in order to store fat, you have to increase your insulin level, and in order to raise your insulin you have to eat foods that cause it to spike.
As your insulin level becomes chronically elevated, insulin resistance sets in, which facilitates fat deposition. What foods raise insulin? The scientific evidence tells us that the most effective food source to raise insulin is fructose.
But there’s more. As previously explained by Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D, thermodynamics is about the movement of energy. The second law of thermodynamics says that “energy will be lost and energy will be used up in creating available energy,” and the thermic effects of nutrients vary.
For example, the thermic effect of protein, i.e. the energy used up in making protein available to your body, is somewhere around 25 to 30 percent whereas the thermic effect of carbohydrates is around 6 to 8 percent. In addition to that, your body self-regulates based on available energy.
If this interpretation is correct, and Lustig insists it is, the solution to weight gain has nothing to do with “energy balance.” Instead, the answer is to eat real food, which are low in sugar (and devoid of HFCS) and high in fiber and healthy fats.
Moreover, it removes the stigma that obese people are simply gluttonous and lazy, as behavior follows biochemical reactions and not the other way around. Ultimately, this interpretation reveals that obesity is a problem caused by a toxic (and addictive) food environment, not behavior.Obesity Is a Biochemical Problem
To recap, Lustig persuasively argues that the primary reason causing all of these visceral fat-related health problems is excessive fructose in our diet. Granted, ALL sugars contribute to weight gain to a certain degree, but highly refined and processed fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), wreaks the most biochemical havoc, by negatively affecting your leptin and insulin sensitivity, which results in metabolic syndrome.
Leptin deficiency, a hereditary medical condition that affects about 14 people in the entire world, causes extreme obesity as the lack of this satiety hormone makes the brain think it’s starving all the time. What most people suffer with today is leptin resistance — a condition in which your body has lost its ability to register the signals from leptin. Still, the effect is much the same.
Leptin resistance, just like leptin deficiency, also causes you to become lethargic, as the brain doesn’t want to expend any energy when it believes it doesn’t have the energy to waste. So, as Lustig explains, obesity is a biochemical problem. It’s not about gluttony and sloth, which are largely voluntary behaviors.
According to his research, it’s quite clear that biochemistry drives behavior, so gluttony and sloth are the downstream results of biochemical dysfunction. They’re not the cause of the biochemical dysfunction.Other Dietary Considerations
I have not had a chance to discuss this with Lustig and I’m not sure if his position has changed since he recorded this video, but I believe there are two other considerations that may be as significant, or even more of a contributing factor than sugar. Believe me, I’m a strong advocate of avoiding sugar, but that isn’t the entire story.
One also needs to limit protein, as excessive protein may have more of a deleterious health effect than excessive sugar. Most people would benefit from restricting the protein intake to 1 gram (gm) per kilogram (kg) of lean body mass.
So if you reduce net carbs and protein, you are only left with dietary fat, which may be one of the biggest culprits. Most of the fat people eat is unhealthy and consists of processed omega-6 vegetable oil (most of that fat is from soybean oil). In fact, the amount of soybean oil consumed in 2000 was more than 1,000 times higher than it was 100 years ago in 1900.Insulin Blocking Leptin Is Another Factor
Leptin resistance correlates with higher amounts of body fat. So what blocks leptin from working properly? According to Lustig, once you solve that question, you solve the obesity problem. The answer to this question is insulin.
Insulin resistance produces weight gain, and there’s a biological purpose for this. During puberty and pregnancy, you need to gain excess fat for hormone production and the growth of another human being. So from a biological perspective, there are two life periods during which leptin should be blocked to allow for fat accumulation.
The problem is that for some reason, leptin is now being blocked by elevated insulin levels in a vast number of people all the time. So what causes chronically elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance? The answer is sugar, and more specifically fructose, which places a far greater metabolic burden on your body.How Fructose Metabolism Gives Rise to Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity
A summary of fructose metabolism is as follows:
• Every cell in your body utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. When you consume glucose, your liver only has to break down 20 percent of it.
By contrast, cells don’t use fructose for energy, so 100 percent of the fructose you eat is metabolized in your liver. Your liver is the only organ equipped with a fructose transporter, called GLUT5. Rather than being used as a quick energy source, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL, the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which are then stored as body fat.
When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat; 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat.
• Fructose metabolism is very similar to ethanol metabolism, which has a multitude of toxic effects. The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and NAFLD.
As your body becomes increasingly resistant to insulin, your pancreas keeps releasing ever higher amounts of insulin in an effort to curb your rising blood sugar levels. Eventually, your pancreas loses the battle; your blood sugar levels keep rising, and you end up with metabolic syndrome and full-blown diabetes.
• Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
• The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
• Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose, on the other hand, does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn fails to suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") and blocks leptin signaling (the "satiety hormone"). The end result is overeating and insulin resistance. In short, fructose tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body's natural appetite-control system.The Dose Determines the Poison
While fructose is not a toxic substance in and of itself, when it's consumed in excessive doses, your liver simply cannot metabolize it. And when the overexposure is chronic, metabolic syndrome develops, and this is true even if you’re not obese.
In short, fructose overconsumption damages your pancreas, liver and brain much like alcohol does, yet, despite its similarities, alcohol is regulated and fructose is not. As Lustig says, “You’d never consider giving your kid a beer, but you wouldn’t think twice about giving him a Coke, yet they do the same thing. That’s the problem.”
Another problem relates to the Maillard reaction, i.e., the browning reaction that occurs when glucose chemically interacts with the amino acid group of proteins.
This is what you see when you look at a piece of deep-fried chicken or a piece of toast, for example. Now, the Maillard or browning reaction also takes place inside your body. It’s a normal part of the aging process. The question is, how fast will this happen inside your body? The answer: the higher your fructose intake, the faster this chemical reaction takes place and the faster you age.Click Here
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/fructose-overload-infographic.jpg" alt="fructose overload infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;" /><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fructose-overload.htm">Fructose Overload</a>." Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p><pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code><img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/fructose-overload-infographic.jpg" alt="fructose overload infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fructose-overload.htm">Fructose Overload</a>." 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 codeDiabetes Rates Correlate to Sugar Availability
By conducting an economic analysis of diet and diabetes prevalence, Lustig’s team was able to determine that changes in sugar availability were the only factor that correlated with changes in diabetes prevalence. For every 150 calorie increase, there was a 0.1 percent increase in diabetes. However, if those 150 calories came from soda, diabetes prevalence increased 11-fold, to 1.1 percent.
Extrapolating data further, Lustig claims that 25 percent of diabetes worldwide is attributable to sugar alone — not obesity or total calorie consumption, but sugar consumption specifically. Moreover, his research reveals how long it takes for increases in sugar consumption to translate into increases in diabetes. No matter which country you look at, three years after a spike in sugar consumption, diabetes rates rise.
“We have causal medical inference that sugar causes obesity,” Lustig says, which means that while more research is always needed, we already have enough evidence to act.Sugar Is a Highly Addictive Substance
Adding insult to injury, sugar is also addictive. In fact, it’s been shown to be more addictive than cocaine. Sugar hijacks the reward center in your brain, causing brain changes identical to those in drug addicts and alcoholics. A critical player in all forms of addiction, including food addiction, is the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Groundbreaking research into addiction has revealed that you will not feel pleasure or reward unless dopamine binds with its receptor, called the D2 receptor, which is located all throughout the reward center in your brain. When dopamine links to this receptor, immediate changes take place in brain cells and then you experience a "hit" of pleasure and reward.
However, when you indulge in too much of any hyper-stimulator, be it cocaine, alcohol, sugar or caffeine, your brain's reward center notes that you're overstimulated, which the brain perceives as adverse to survival, and so it compensates by decreasing your sense of pleasure and reward. It does this by downregulating your D2 receptors, basically eliminating some of them.
But this survival strategy creates another problem, because now you don't feel anywhere near the pleasure and reward you once had when you began your addiction, no matter whether it's food or drugs. As a result, you develop tolerance which means that you want more and more of your fix, but never achieve the same "high" you once had. And so, cravings grow stronger. Addiction to any one substance also increases your risk of cross-addiction to other addictive substances.Eating REAL Food Is the Answer
The concerted effort by the processed food industry to make their products as addictive as possible has the unfortunate side effect of stimulating your metabolism to burn carbs (sugar) as its primary fuel. As long as you are burning carbs as your primary fuel, you will strongly crave these types of foods.
The solution is to decrease the amount of processed foods and net carbs (total carbs minus fiber — think sugars) you eat, and replace them with real foods, i.e. high-quality whole foods, especially low net-carb vegetables.
As noted by Lustig, every single diet that works is a diet based on real food. Also remember that net carbs (i.e. non-fiber carbohydrates) need to be replaced with healthy fats to successfully achieve this metabolic switchover. Overall, a real food diet is high in fiber and healthy fats, and low in net carbs.
If you suffer from junk food cravings, especially cravings for sugar, know that intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways to end them. Sugar cravings will dramatically diminish, if not vanish altogether, once your body starts burning fat instead of sugar as its primary fuel.
To protect your health, I recommend spending 90 percent of your food budget on real food, and only 10 percent or less on processed foods. Unfortunately, most Americans do the opposite, which is why so many struggle with junk food cravings, weight gain and poor health.
Remember, virtually ALL processed foods are loaded with HFCS. According to Lustig, of the 600,000 items in the U.S. food supply, 80 percent of them contain HFCS and other added sugars. And the reason for this is because the food industry knows that when they add sugar, you eat and buy more of it, for all the reasons discussed above.
If anyone tries to tell you "sugar is sugar," or “a calorie is a calorie,” they are way behind the times. As you can see, there are major differences in how your body processes fructose and glucose. The bottom line is: fructose leads to increased visceral fat, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome — not to mention the long list of chronic diseases that result from it.
To learn more, please see the Institute for Responsible Nutrition’s (IRN) website, responsiblefoods.org. IRN is an organization that Lustig helped set up for the purpose of “providing medical, nutritional and legal analysis and consultation to promote personal and public health against Big Food.”
By Dr. Mercola
Many people are now aware of the importance of your gut microbiome. Some even take proactive steps to protect it, like minimizing the use of antibiotics and eating fermented foods to support a healthy balance.
Less widely known is that such microorganisms don’t only populate your gut; they’re found throughout your body, including on your skin. Just as your gut depends on a balanced microbial state to function optimally, the balance of bacteria and other microbes on your skin also matters.
What’s more, the average American showers close to once each day,1 a hygiene habit that may be doing your body more harm than good.A No-Shower Experiment
If you spend 20 minutes a day washing, that equates to about two years of your life spent in the shower or bath along with a hefty amount of money spent on the “necessary” accouterments like shampoo, conditioner, soap and moisturizer.2
What if you were to cut this back to showering once every other day, once every three days or, simply, hardly at all? Dr. James Hamblin, a senior editor at The Atlantic, tried the latter and wrote about his experience, explaining:3
“ … I started using less soap, and less shampoo, and less deodorant, and showering less. I went from every day to every other day to every three.
And now I’ve pretty much stopped altogether. I still wash my hands, all the time, which remains an extremely important way to prevent communicable diseases.
I still rinse off elsewhere when I’m visibly dirty, like after a run when I have to wash gnats off my face, because there is still the matter of society. If I have bed head, I lean into the shower and wet it down. But I don’t use shampoo or body soap, and I almost never get into a shower.”
At first, you may have some odor and greasy skin or hair. However, this may be the direct result of your prior aggressive showering routine. Body odor is the result of bacteria feeding on oily secretions from your sweat and sebaceous glands.
Washing with detergent soaps wipes out the bacteria temporarily, but it quickly reestablishes itself, typically with an imbalance that favors odor-producing microbes.
When you give your body a break from the soap and shampoo, however, the ecosystem has a chance to right itself and, in so doing, offensive body odor largely disappears.
“ … [Y]our ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad,” Hamblin explained. "I mean, you don’t smell like rosewater … but you don’t smell like B.O., either. You just smell like a person.”4How Shrewd Marketers Sold Americans the Idea of 'Clean'
It wasn’t until the early 20th century, not coincidentally when advertising became prolific, that Americans began to be very concerned about personal hygiene. The advertising industry created a “need” for newfangled products like “toilet soap” and “mouthwash” where one had never before existed.5
Today most people engage in the habit of washing their hair and skin with soap and shampoo, which removes natural oils, and then adding those oils back via the use of synthetic moisturizer and conditioner.
The irony is that most of the lotions are far inferior to natural sebum and many, if not most, are loaded with toxic ingredients that ultimately will worsen your health.
The fact that daily washing can strip your skin of beneficial oil, leading to dryness and cracks (especially if the water is hot and harsh soaps are used), is a clue that your skin may be better off with a far less aggressive hygiene routine.
Though it may seem shocking to consider showering less, keep in mind that daily showering is a relatively new phenomenon.Are There Risks to Excessive Showering?
There are risks on multiple levels, starting with the disruption of your skin’s microbial balance. The long-term repercussions of this are still being explored, but by removing beneficial bacteria from your skin, it could make skin conditions like eczema worse.6
Many members of the “no-poo” movement (a group of people who abstain from shampooing their hair) claim not shampooing leaves their hair healthier, shinier and less frizzy.
There’s also the issue of chemical-laden body washes and shampoos. When you cut back on showers, you negate the need for these products and their often-toxic ingredients. There are issues on an environmental level as well, especially in regard to water usage.
One seven-minute shower uses more water than a bath, and it’s expected that water usage for showers will grow five-fold by 2021.7
Not to mention, if you’re on city water and you don’t have a filter on your shower, showering is a major source of exposure to carcinogenic chlorination byproducts such as trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are associated with bladder cancer, gestational and developmental problems.
Just the simple act of showering in treated water, in which you have absorption through both your skin and lungs, may pose a significant health risk to you — and to your unborn child, if you are pregnant.
Numerous studies have shown that showering and bathing are important routes of exposure and may actually represent more of your total exposure than the water you drink. So in this respect, cutting back on your shower time would be important to help limit your exposure.
The biggest issue, however, is that most people do not need to scrub their bodies from head to toe each morning or evening. It’s unnecessary and disruptive to the delicate and beneficial microbial communities living on your skin.Try This for a Happy Medium
You may not be ready to give up showering but want to cut back from daily washing. One way to do this is to only wash the areas that really need washing.
In most cases, this would be your underarms, groin area and, possibly, your feet. As noted by Dr. Casey Carlos, assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine:8
“It’s the hardest thing to get people to use soap only where they need it … People don’t realize that the skin does a pretty good job of cleaning itself.”
About the only time I use soap on any body part other than my armpits or groin is when I am doing work in my garden and wind up covered with woodchip dust. Most of that dust I simply spray off with a hose. Typically, simply washing your armpits with soap and water is enough to stay smelling clean.
It’s been well over 40 years since I quit using antiperspirant or deodorant — even natural ones.
I find that regularly washing my armpits with soap and making sure my diet is clean with minimal sugar and plenty of fermented vegetables are all that is needed to keep my armpit odor from being offensive. If you still need further help, try a pinch of baking soda mixed into water as an effective all-day deodorant.Tips for Giving up Your Shampoo
As for your hair, start by increasing the length between your shampoos. This will help you retain the natural oils in your hair and cut back on your exposure to detergents and other chemicals.
Better still, when you do shampoo your hair, look for a natural shampoo that’s more than just soap-based. The pH of soap-based cleansers is very basic, about 8 to 9, which can cause damage to your hair by lifting cuticles and causing reactions, which affect the disulfide bonds in your hair.
Ingredients like sodium silicate and borax are added to help overcome the scum formation and dulling effect on your hair. Look for a natural shampoo without harmful chemicals that also has botanical extracts added, like chamomile for shine and added strength (to help prevent split ends and breakages).
Other beneficial ingredients include triticum vulgare (wheat) protein, which is an oil that helps your hair retain its moisture, and red clover, which may promote healthier-looking hair. Some people also try “shampooing” their hair with conditioner. This helps avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils, however you’ll want to be sure the conditioner you choose is non-toxic. Another option is to use coconut oil on your hair.Will Bacterial Sprays Be the Showers of the Future?
Live bacteria sprays are now on the market, with their creators claiming you can spritz it on to naturally enhance and protect your skin’s microbiome while cleansing it of sweat and excess oil. One such spray contains ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that its co-creator, who hasn’t showered in more than a decade, uses personally.9
Probiotic (beneficial bacteria) soaps, lotions and other personal care products are also available at many health food stores. There hasn’t been much research on whether such products yield lasting results (or whether the bacteria is simply washed away with your next shower), but it’s an intriguing area of study.
It’s already known that probiotics can influence the health of your skin from the inside out, so it’s not a stretch that a topical treatment may also be useful, especially since so many people wipe out their microbial communities with daily sudsing. However, it may be equally if not more beneficial to let your skin’s microbes re-populate the “old-fashioned” way — by putting away your body wash and other cleansers so your skin has a chance to balance itself naturally.
By Dr. Mercola
More than 3 million Americans receive acupuncture each year, and its use is increasing.1 While there are a variety of acupuncture techniques, those typically used in the U.S. incorporate traditions from China, Japan and Korea and involve penetrating your skin with a thin needle at certain points on your body.
The needle is then stimulated by hand or electrically.2 Acupuncture has been in use for thousands of years around the globe, and it has withstood the test of time because it works to safely relieve many common health complaints.
How it works has remained largely a mystery, but last year researchers revealed a biochemical reaction that may be responsible for some of acupuncture’s beneficial effects.Scientists Reveal How Acupuncture Reduces Inflammation and Pain
An animal study looking into the effects of acupuncture on muscle inflammation revealed that manual acupuncture downregulates (or turns off) pro-inflammatory cells known as M1 macrophages. At the same time, it upregulates (or activates) anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages, thereby reducing pain and swelling.3
This is an effective strategy because M2 macrophages are a source of anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 (IL-10), a cytokine involved in immune response. It’s thought that upregulating M2 macrophages leads to an increase in IL-10, which subsequently helps relieve pain and inflammation. The Epoch Times reported:4
“Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted.
M1 macrophage downregulation and M2 macrophage upregulation triggered by acupuncture was positively associated with reductions in muscle pain and inflammation.”
It’s likely that acupuncture works via a variety of mechanisms. In 2010, for instance, it was found that acupuncture activates pain-suppressing receptors and increased the concentration of the neurotransmitter adenosine in local tissues.5
Adenosine slows down your brain's activity and induces sleepiness. According to a Nature Neuroscience press release:6
“ … [T]he authors propose a model whereby the minor tissue injury caused by rotated needles triggers adenosine release, which, if close enough to pain-transmitting nerves, can lead to the suppression of local pain.”Acupuncture Influences Your Body on Multiple Levels
With documented use dating back more than 2,500 years, acupuncture is based on the premise that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points in the human body, which are connected by bioenergetic pathways known as meridians.
According to traditional medicine, it is through these pathways that Qi, or energy, flows, and when the pathway is blocked the disruptions can lead to imbalances and chronic disease.
Acupuncture is proven to impact a number of chronic health conditions, and it may work, in part, by stimulating your central nervous system to release natural chemicals that alter bodily systems, pain and other biological processes. Evidence suggests that acupuncture may also work by:7
- Stimulating the conduction of electromagnetic signals, which may release immune system cells or pain-killing chemicals
- Activation of your body’s natural opioid system, which may help reduce pain or induce sleep
- Stimulation of your hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which impact numerous body systems
- Change in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, which may positively influence brain chemistry
Acupuncture is often used for the treatment of chronic pain, and it may be particularly useful for pain from knee osteoarthritis.
In a study by researchers from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture received five times a week for four weeks significantly reduced pain and improved stiffness in patients with knee osteoarthritis.8
In this study, the improvements increased even more when acupuncture was combined with Chinese massage called Tui Na. Other research has also shown benefits, including one of the longest and largest studies on the topic to date.
More than 550 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis took part in the 26-week trial. The participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments: acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or self-help strategies recommended by the Arthritis Foundation (the latter served as a control group).
Significant differences in response were seen by week eight and 14, and at the end of the trial, the group receiving real acupuncture had a 40 percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function compared to baseline assessments — a 33 percent difference in improvement over the sham group.9Acupuncture for Relief of High Blood Pressure
There is some evidence that acupuncture may help lower high blood pressure while also relieving associated anxiety, headaches, dizziness, palpitations and tinnitus.
It’s known that high blood pressure leads to elevated concentrations of inflammation-causing tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and TNF-α-stimulated endothelin (ET), peptides involved in constricting blood vessels and raising blood pressure.10,11
It’s thought that acupuncture may downregulate TNF-α and ET, thereby reducing blood pressure. In another study of patients with high blood pressure, 30 minutes of electroacupuncture (in which the needles are stimulated with electricity) a week led to slight declines in blood pressure.12
Study co-author Dr. John Longhurst, a cardiologist at the University of California, Irvine, told WebMD, "Potentially, blood pressure can be kept low with a monthly follow-up treatment.” He continued:13
“A noticeable drop in blood pressure was observed in 70 percent of the patients treated at the effective points, an average of 6 to 8 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure [the top number] and 4 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure [the lower number].”Acupuncture Even Works for Fibromyalgia Pain and Pain in Children
One of the most common uses for acupuncture is in treating chronic pain. One analysis of the most robust studies available concluded that acupuncture has a clear effect in reducing chronic pain, more so than standard pain treatment.14
Study participants receiving acupuncture reported an average 50 percent reduction in pain, compared to a 28 percent pain reduction for standard pain treatment without acupuncture.
Even fibromyalgia pain, which can be difficult to treat and is associated with sleep problems, fatigue and depression, may be improved.
In one study, 10 weeks of acupuncture decreased pain scores in fibromyalgia patients by an average of 41 percent, compared with 27 percent in those who received a sham procedure.15
The pain relief lasted for at least 1 year, leading researchers to conclude, “ … [T]he use of individualized acupuncture in patients with fibromyalgia is recommended.” Acupuncture also appears to be a safe and effective treatment for relieving chronic pain in children.
In a study of 55 children with chronic pain, those who received eight acupuncture sessions (each lasting about 30 minutes) reported significant reductions in pain and improved quality of life.16Acupuncture for Depression, Cancer Patients and More
Acupuncture’s benefits extend to a myriad of other health conditions as well. Research suggests acupuncture works as well as counseling for treating depression, for instance.17 It may also improve fatigue, anxiety and depression in cancer patients in as little as eight weeks — and much more.18
The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an extensive review and analysis of clinical trials related to acupuncture and reported the procedure has been proven effective for the following diseases:19
✓ Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
✓ Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
✓ Biliary colic
✓ Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
✓ Acute bacillary dysentery
✓ Primary dysmenorrhea
✓ Acute epigastralgia (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
✓ Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
✓ Essential hypertension
✓ Primary hypotension
✓ Induction of labor
✓ Knee pain
✓ Low back pain
✓ Correction of malposition of fetus
✓ Morning sickness
✓ Nausea and vomiting
✓ Neck pain
✓ Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
✓ Periarthritis of shoulder
✓ Postoperative pain
✓ Renal colic
✓ Rheumatoid arthritis
✓ Tennis elbow
Additionally, acupuncture has also shown a therapeutic effect for treating the following diseases and conditions, which range from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and addictions to whooping cough, although further research is needed:
✓ Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
✓ Acne vulgaris
✓ Alcohol dependence and detoxification
✓ Bell’s palsy
✓ Bronchial asthma
✓ Cancer pain
✓ Cardiac neurosis
✓ Chronic cholecystitis, with acute exacerbation
✓ Competition stress syndrome
✓ Closed craniocerebral injury
✓ Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
✓ Epidemic hemorrhagic fever
✓ Simple epistaxis (without generalized or local disease)
✓ Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
✓ Female infertility
✓ Facial spasm
✓ Female urethral syndrome
✓ Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
✓ Gastrokinetic disturbance
✓ Gouty arthritis
✓ Hepatitis B virus carrier status
✓ Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
✓ Labor pain
✓ Lactation deficiency
✓ Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
✓ Ménière disease
✓ Postherpetic neuralgia
✓ Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
✓ Pain due to endoscopic examination
✓ Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
✓ Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
✓ Postextubation in children
✓ Postoperative convalescence
✓ Premenstrual syndrome
✓ Chronic prostatitis
✓ Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
✓ Primary Raynaud syndrome
✓ Recurrent lower urinary tract infection
✓ Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
✓ Traumatic retention of urine
✓ Drug-induced Sialism
✓ Sjögren syndrome
✓ Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
✓ Acute spine pain
✓ Stiff neck
✓ Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
✓ Tietze syndrome
✓ Tobacco dependence
✓ Tourette syndrome
✓ Chronic ulcerative colitis
✓ Vascular dementia
✓ Whooping cough (pertussis)
Are Certain Types of Acupuncture Better Than Others?
Similar benefits have been found for different types of acupuncture treatment. For instance, sometimes the stimulation of acupuncture points is done using electricity, lasers or acupressure (the use of pressure to stimulate acupuncture points).
The term acupuncture is often used to describe all of these modalities, as each has shown similar benefits. This means that if you like the idea of trying a natural, ancient technique like acupuncture, but don’t like the idea of having needles inserted into your body, there are needle-free alternatives, such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT, you can try that may offer many of the same benefits.
If you decide to try out traditional acupuncture, be aware that the success of your treatment depends on the expertise of your practitioner. While there are acupuncturists that have general specialties, there are also those that specialize in different health conditions, such as pain relief, depression, infertility or neurological disorders. Choose an acupuncturist that is experienced in your area of need who will work with you to develop a plan for healing.
I have discussed the benefits of ginger on my site for some time now. I am particularly impressed by its anti-inflammatory properties, which make it one of the most potent home remedies you can use to relieve pain and motion sickness.1,2
This is why it's not surprising to learn that ginger oil, extracted from fresh ginger root, also offers these whole body benefits and so much more. What Is Ginger Oil?
Warm, spicy, and energizing, ginger oil comes from ginger root (Zingiber officinale), a pungent, peculiar-looking underground rhizome.
A member of the Zingiberaceae plant family, this perennial herb grows up to three to four feet high, with narrow spear-shaped leaves, white or yellow flowers,3 and small tuberous rhizomes with a thick or thin brown skin. Its flesh can be yellow, white, or red, depending on the variety.4
Ginger has been valued for thousands of years for its medicinal and culinary properties, particularly in ancient Chinese, Indian, and Greek civilizations.
The Mahabharata, a 4th century BC Indian Sanskrit epic, even describes a stewed meat dish that uses ginger as an ingredient. In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is considered a key plant.
Eventually, ginger was exported to the Roman Empire and became widely traded in Europe by Arab traders. It was also used as an ingredient in sweets. By the 13th to 14th century, ginger – along with black pepper – became a commonly traded spice. It was said that a pound of ginger could be traded for a sheep.5
Ginger is one of the most flexible food ingredients today. It can be eaten fresh or dried, steeped as a tea, or grated into your vegetable juice (one of my personal favorites). The dried root is the source for tinctures and supplements, and is also transformed into ginger oil, an energizing and uplifting oil with a wide range of uses.
Ginger oil has a thin consistency and is light yellow in color, with a pleasantly pungent aroma. The scent varies according to the distillation and quality of the ginger used. However, the most aromatically superior ginger oil is said to come from distilling fresh ginger root.Uses of Ginger Oil
The benefits of ginger for relieving pain are widely known today, and while I prefer using fresh ginger (eaten raw, grated into your vegetable juice, or steeped into tea), using ginger oil can provide these wholesome benefits as well.
When used topically, ginger oil can help relieve aches and pain, as well as promote normal blood circulation.6
Aromatherapists also value ginger oil's soothing and warming qualities to help address digestive problems. In fact, this is one of ginger oil's most popular uses: relieving any kind of digestive upset, such as nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, gas, and even morning sickness.
Here are some ways to use ginger oil for various health problems:7
• Apply two to three drops in a diffuser, or place on a cotton ball or your handkerchief, and then inhale. This will help reenergize and revitalize your body, mind, and soul.
• Mix two to three drops in an ounce of carrier oil, and use as a massage oil. This helps relieve backache, arthritis, muscle pain, rheumatism, and fractures, as well as stimulate your circulatory system and revitalize your libido.
You can also add it to your hot bath or put a few drops on a hot or cold compress, and then apply it to the affected areas.
• Inhale via a diffuser or vaporizer to relieve sinusitis, sore throat, and runny nose. It can also work as a decongestant.
• Massage a drop into your abdomen to relieve gas and diarrhea.Composition of Ginger Oil
Ginger oil benefits mostly come from its powerful mono- and sesqui-terpenoids, such as neral, geranial, 1,8-cineole, zingiberene, B-bisabolene, and B-sesquiphellandrene. It also contains a-pinene, B-pinene, camphene, linalool, borneol, y-terpineol, nerol, geraniol, and geranyl acetate.8,9Benefits of Ginger Oil
Ginger oil's many benefits are attributed to its anti-inflammatory, digestive, expectorant, antiseptic, carminative, analgesic, and stimulating properties. It's helpful in alleviating various health problems, such as:10
• Stomach and bowel related problems — Ginger oil helps promote proper digestion, and can be a great remedy for spasms, dyspepsia, indigestion, and flatulence. It can also increase your appetite, which is great for people who are trying to gain weight.
• Food poisoning — Ginger oil's antiseptic and carminative properties can help treat food poisoning, as well as intestinal infections and bacterial dysentery.
• Malaria and yellow fever — A study found that ginger oil can help repel Anopheles culicifacies mosquitoes, which is the primary carrier of malaria in India.11
• Respiratory problems — Ginger oil can help relieve and treat coughs, flu, asthma, breathlessness, and bronchitis. Fresh ginger can actually remove mucus from throat and lungs, and is commonly added to tea for its soothing effects.
• Pain — Ginger and ginger oil can help reduce prostaglandins, which are the compounds associated with pain. For more information about how ginger relieves pain (particularly after-exercise pain), check out my article here.
• Heart ailments — Using ginger oil regularly can help reduce your risk of blood clots and arteriosclerosis, as well as help decrease the bad cholesterol levels in your blood.12
Adults who consume ginger daily may lower their risk of coronary heart disease by 13 percent, with the probability of illness decreasing when daily ginger intake increased.13
• Hypertension — Adults who consume ginger daily have an 8 percent lower risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure).14 A 2005 study found ginger may lower blood pressure through blockade of voltage-dependent calcium channels.15
• Chronic disease — Research published in the journal Nutrition suggests daily intake of 2 to 4 grams of ginger daily may help prevent chronic diseases.16How to Make Ginger Oil
Ginger is traditionally steam distilled to produce ginger essential oil, But you can also create your own ginger oil infusion at home. Here's what to do:17
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1. Rinse a cup of fresh ginger, including the skin, thoroughly, and let dry for a few hours.
2. Pour the olive oil in an oven-safe bowl.
3. Chop the ginger and then shred using a clean cheese grater. Add to the olive oil and mix well.
4. Put the mixture in the oven and leave it to simmer under low heat (150 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least two hours.
5. Pour the mixture through an unbleached cheese cloth to filter it and take out the bits of ginger. Once all the oil has been filtered, squeeze out the remaining oil from the cheese cloth.
6. Transfer the ginger oil into clean vials or bottles and store in a cool dry place.
This ginger oil infusion can stay fresh for up to six months.How Does Ginger Oil Work?
Ginger oil is composed of 90 percent sesquiterpenes, which are responsible for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and other healing properties.18 When applied topically or inhaled, it has a warming and energizing effect. Ginger oil can also be ingested, but I advise doing this under the supervision of a qualified health physician.Is Ginger Oil Safe?
As long as it's not used in very strong concentrations, ginger oil is generally safe, as it is non-toxic and non-irritating. If you have sensitive skin, please do a skin patch test before using ginger oil (or any essential oil, for that matter) to see if you have any allergic reactions to it.
You should also consider diluting ginger oil in other carrier oils. Some of the best choices are citrusy and spicy oils like neroli, frankincense, bergamot, ylang-ylang, rose, and sandalwood.19
Ginger oil may be phototoxic, so avoid applying it on skin areas that will be exposed to the sun within 24 hours after application.20 I also advise pregnant women and nursing moms to use ginger oil with caution, even though it has been deemed useful for morning sickness. Consult your healthcare provider before use. Avoid administering this oil to very young children as well.Side Effects of Ginger Oil
If you have any sensitivity to ginger root, do not use ginger oil at all. Some potential side effects of ginger oil are heartburn, sores in mouth, nausea, and skin rashes (when applied topically).21 If you are taking any type of medication, consult your physician first if it is safe to use or ingest ginger oil.
By Dr. Mercola
Your dental health is an important component of your physical health. It’s a frequently underappreciated aspect that can have a profound systemic influence. In fact, thousands of studies have linked oral disease to systemic disease.
Your mouth is like a window to your health; the soft tissues and your teeth reflect what’s going on in the rest of your body. Inflammation is well-known as a “ravaging” and disease-causing force, and gum disease and other oral diseases produce chronic low-grade inflammation.
When the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease enter into your circulatory system, it causes your liver to release C-reactive proteins, which have inflammatory effects on your entire circulatory system.Health Risks Associated With Poor Oral Health
There’s also a 700 percent higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among those with gum disease, courtesy of the inflammatory effects of unbalanced microflora in your mouth. Other health effects associated with poor oral health include an increased risk of:3
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Dementia: failing to brush twice a day increases your risk of dementia by as much as 65 percent, compared to brushing three times a day
- Pneumonia: good oral hygiene has been shown to lower your risk of pneumonia by about 40 percent. Other research has shown that people with periodontitis have a 300 percent greater chance of contracting pneumonia
- Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED is more than twice as common among those with periodontitis than those without ED
- Kidney disease and more
Overall, your diet is the most significant determinant of your oral and dental health, but how you clean your teeth can also make a big difference. Flossing, for example, is an important strategy, yet one-third of American adults never floss. If you’re one of them, I’d encourage you to reconsider.The Importance of Flossing
Flossing is perhaps even more important than brushing because it removes bacteria that are the precursors of plaque, which if left to fester will turn into tartar that cannot be removed by regular brushing or flossing.
Tartar is what eventually causes the damage that leads to decay and tooth loss. Most people are aware that flossing is a recommended practice for optimal oral health, yet nearly one-third of Americans never floss.
- 32.4 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 30 never floss
- 37.3 percent floss, but not daily
- 30.3 percent floss on a daily basis
- More women than men never floss
- Low-income participants are less likely to floss than those in higher income brackets
Use a piece of floss that is about 15 to 18 inches long, wrapping each end around your index fingers. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it around the side of the tooth in the shape of a “C.”
Scrub the area by moving the floss up and down, and back and forth. Make sure you scrub both sides of the adjacent teeth before moving on to the next set.
If you have wider spaces between your teeth, use Super Floss, which is thicker.6 If dexterity is an issue, use soft plaque removers. Similar to toothpicks, they allow you to clean between your teeth with one hand. A double-pronged floss holder is another option.
While flossing, you can get telltale signs of potential health problems. For example, bleeding gums is a warning sign that you have bacteria in your mouth causing damage, which can easily spread through your blood stream and cause chronic inflammation elsewhere in your body.
The answer is to gently floss and brush more often, until your gums no longer bleed from brushing or flossing. If bleeding persists longer than a week, see a dentist.
Keep in mind that a Waterpik cannot replace flossing. These types of irrigation tools can also be hard on your gums. The truth is, if you brush and floss, you have no need for a Waterpik. That said, it can be beneficial if you have braces.Tooth Brushing Guidelines
Research suggests the ideal brushing time is two minutes, and the ideal pressure is 150 grams (gm), which is about the weight of an orange.7 Brushing your teeth too hard and longer than necessary can cause more harm than good.
Researchers found that brushing longer than two minutes, and/or using pressure greater than 150 gm does not remove any additional plaque, so there's a “Goldilocks’ zone” when brushing, and there’s no reason to keep going past that point.
When it comes to toothpaste, I recommend using non-fluoridated versions. There are a growing number of such toothpastes on the market these days, as more people are becoming aware of fluoride’s downsides and dangers.
Other toxic toothpaste ingredients to avoid include triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol and diethanolamine (DEA).
Alternatively, you could make your own toothpaste8 using ingredients such as coconut oil, baking soda (which acts as an abrasive and helps with whitening), and a pinch of Himalayan salt. High-quality peppermint essential oil can be added for flavor and cavity prevention.The Case for Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. When combined with the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, I believe it can be a powerful tool to improve your oral health. 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.
However, it also helps promote oral microbiome homeostasis, which is really important, as you don’t want to kill all microbes.
Oil pulling is thought to improve oral and physical health by reducing your toxic load. By swishing and “pulling” the oil between your teeth, it helps draw out pathogens that might otherwise migrate into other areas of your body. When done correctly, oil pulling has a significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing effect.
Naturopathic physician and coconut oil expert Dr. Bruce Fife has compared the benefits of oil pulling to changing the oil in your car:9
"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."
Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but it has a relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils and the large amounts of unsaturated fats make it particularly sensitive to oxidation and going rancid.
I strongly believe coconut oil is a far superior option. I also think it tastes better. Coconut oil has a lipophilic effect, helping to eliminate unhealthy biofilm from your teeth. As noted by Authority Nutrition,10 it’s particularly effective at killing Streptococcus mutans, an oral bacterium responsible for a majority of tooth decay.
Coconut oil also contains a number of valuable nutrients that help promote oral health. That said, from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, either oil is likely to work.
So how do you do it? It’s quite simple, actually. You simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. Work the oil around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 15 minutes. This process allows the oil to dislodge and neutralize pathogens and other debris.
When done, spit out the oil (do NOT swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water. I typically spit mine out on the soil outside of my house, being careful to avoid any plants. If you want, you could dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water and rinse with that. Himalayan salt contains more than 85 different microminerals, so this is another all-natural strategy that can help promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.Poor Oral Health Is a Risk Factor for Oropharyngeal Cancers
Poor oral hygiene has also been linked to an increased risk for head and neck cancers. As noted in a recent analysis of 13 studies that were part of the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) Consortium, lack of tooth brushing and low frequency of dental visits consistently raised the risk of head and neck cancers.11,12
Poor oral health is also an independent risk factor for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which could contribute to oral cancers such as cancers of the throat, tonsils, and base of tongue, if left untreated for long periods of time.
In one 2013 study,13,14 participants with poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of HPV infection than those with healthy mouths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV,15 but according to this study it could be as high as 80 percent.
The researchers speculate that good oral hygiene could help prevent HPV infection, thereby lowering your risk for oropharyngeal and other cancers associated with untreated HPV infection.The Importance of Nourishing Your Oral Microbiome
Part of oral health is attending to your oral microbiome — the colonies of beneficial microbes residing in your mouth. Achieving oral health is really about promoting balance among the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in your mouth.
And contrary to popular belief, antimicrobial agents and alcohol mouthwashes designed to “kill bad bacteria” actually do far more harm than good in this regard, as they can be indiscriminate killers. The key is to nourish the beneficial bacteria, so they can naturally keep the potentially harmful ones in check.
Your oral microbiome, while connected to your gut microbiome, is quite unique. By promoting oral microbiome homeostasis, you can improve your digestion and salivary immune system, the latter of which helps protect you against disease, such as the common cold and flu. Your oral microbiome even plays a role in making vitamins.
Interestingly, probiotics do not work in the mouth, so it’s not as simple as adding more beneficial microbes into your oral cavity. Instead, as an initial step, you need to cease killing too many microbes in your mouth. Scientists are now starting to recognize that many of the same bacteria that perform beneficial functions can have pathogenic expression when disturbed. So avoiding disrupting the microflora in your mouth is typically more helpful than trying to kill everything off.
Even natural antimicrobial herbs can disrupt your oral microbiome. This includes tea tree oil, tulsi oil and oregano oil. The problem stems from the fact that beneficial bacteria end up having less of a chance of developing a healthy and balanced microbiome when you disturb them too much.Promoting Oral Health Through Nutrition and Homeopathy
So what are your alternatives? While probiotics do not have a direct effect on your oral microbiome, addressing your gut flora can make a big difference. 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.
I used to be severely challenged with plaque, but once I started eating fermented vegetables on a daily basis, and doing oil pulling with coconut oil, the plaque buildup was dramatically reduced. Your diet can also make or break your teeth, as it were, by influencing inflammation. Avoiding the following dietary culprits can go a long way toward reducing or preventing inflammation in your mouth and body:
- Refined sugar/processed fructose and processed grains
- Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
- Foods cooked at high temperatures
- Trans fats
- Damaged omega-6 fats found in processed vegetable oils
Certain nutrients are very important for optimal gum health. Vitamin C is one. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is another. CoQ10 is a critical cofactor in the Krebs cycle, which is how energy is created in your cells. Bleeding gums, for example, can be a sign of CoQ10 deficiency. There are also a number of homeopathic tissue salts that can be beneficial for oral health, including:
- Calcarea fluorica (calc. fluor.) or calcium fluoride
- Calcium phosphate
- Calcium carbonate
Research revealing the connection between the microorganisms in your mouth and cancer (as well as many other health problems) makes it 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. In addition to avoiding fluoride and mercury fillings, my top four recommendations for optimizing your oral health are as follows:
- Eat a wholesome diet of real food: fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-pastured meats, poultry, eggs and dairy; nuts and seeds. Minimize consumption of sugar and processed food
- Add in some naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee or kefir
- Brush your teeth twice daily, and floss every day
- Oil pulling
When it comes to oral hygiene and preventing cavities, please remember, drinking fluoridated water and brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste is not the answer because fluoride is more toxic than lead. Rather it's about your diet, and about proper dental care: brushing and flossing.
By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Following up with proper brushing and flossing, and getting regular cleanings will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy naturally.
By Dr. Mercola
Memorial Day weekend is often the start of outdoor grilling season. However, depending upon how close you live to the equator, you might be grilling outdoors all year long. Perfect weather, good friends and an outdoor barbecue grill may be your recipe for one of the joys of summertime.
While you may have discovered there is a growing mountain of research pointing to grilling and barbecuing meat as one way of ingesting cancer-causing chemicals, there are ways of enjoying your summer grilling that reduces the potential for trouble.
Many living in the U.S. find that grilling satisfies their need for good taste, and for keeping the number of pots and pans to a minimum. Some people find it personally satisfying to cook over an open fire, and others just enjoy entertaining friends and family at home.1
Whatever your personal reason for using the outdoor grill, it’s important to understand the risks involved and how to reduce them.It’s All About Chemistry
Cooking is a form of chemistry. As you apply heat to different types of organic material (food), you get a chemical reaction you find either pleasing or distasteful. Meat, vegetables and fruit go through a unique process specific to the chemicals and nutrients found in them.
Different types of cooking produce different types of chemical reactions. This is why foods cooked in the oven will taste different than those sautéed on the stove or grilled over an open flame.
The addition of spices and marinades also changes the chemicals present during the cooking process and therefore the chemical reactions occurring while you cook.
Unfortunately, grilling gives you both a distinctive flavor combination in the meat and vegetables, as well as changes to the foods that may produce cancer causing chemicals.
Three important chemicals potentially produced during grilling are heterocyclic amines (HCAs), advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).Heterocyclic Amines
These chemicals are formed in muscle meat when it’s cooked at high temperatures. Even cooking at high temperatures over the stove can cause the formation of these chemicals in the meat.2 In experiments in laboratory animals, HCAs are mutagenic.
This means the chemicals cause changes to the DNA in the lab animals, increasing their risk of cancer. HCAs are not found in appreciable amounts in other cooked foods, other than meat cooked at high temperatures. Once you eat the meat, the HCAs are metabolized in your body by specific enzymes.
Researchers have found that this group of enzymes has varying degrees of activity in different people. This may be relevant to how much or little the HCAs increase your specific risk of cancer.3
The amount of HCAs appear to be dependent on the type of meat, how well-done it is cooked and the temperature used to cook the meat. For example, researchers have found that well-done meat has 3 1/2 times more HCA than medium-rare meat, and fried pork has more than fried beef or fried chicken.4
To date, there have been more than 10 different HCAs identified from cooking meat and fish. When HCAs have been fed to rodents they developed cancer in multiple different organs, including the colon, breast and prostate.5Advanced Glycation End Products
AGEs, also known as glycotoxins, are present in your body and in the meat you eat. These are highly oxidant compounds linked to increased inflammation and oxidation stress in your body.6 Damage by AGEs has been associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Based on study findings, dry heat from grilling or broiling may increase the formation of AGEs between 10- and 100-fold greater than in uncooked foods. Animal meat, rich in fat and protein, is generally rich in AGEs.
Researchers found a reduction in the formation of new AGEs cooking with moist heat, using shorter cooking times, cooking at lower temperatures and using acidic ingredients.7
The formation of AGEs in your body is a normal part of metabolism. The addition of more AGEs from the food you eat increases the likelihood the amount of circulating AGEs will become pathogenic. Grilling, broiling, frying and searing foods increases the formation of AGEs in the meat you eat.
Studies have found mice that ate diets rich in AGEs suffered from kidney disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and slow wound healing. Mice fed diets low in AGEs experienced a significantly reduced risk of the same health issues.8,9,10,11
Your body does not get rid of or digest these end products easily. Instead, they are stored in your organs, and over time cause damage.
A database containing foods and the associated AGEs shows fats have a low amount of AGEs per serving as compared to muscle meats, such as steak, chicken and frankfurters. Lamb and eggs have relatively less than other meats.12Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
PAHs don’t originate in the meat, but rather from the wood, gas or coal you use for the fire. They are also formed when fat from the meat drips on the grill and creates smoke.13 The compound is in the smoke and is deposited on anything within reach.
This means the PAHs will cling to the meat and your clothing, and you will inhale them as you stand over the grill. Exposure is known to cause skin, liver and stomach cancers in lab animals.14
However, the story of PAHs doesn’t stop there. When the PAHs from the fire mingle with the nitrogen from the meat you’re cooking, nitrated PAHs (NPAHs) are formed. These are even more carcinogenic and one reason that grilling meat may be hazardous to your health.
Cooking that exposes the meat you’re eating to smoking or charring (those dark grill marks on the meat) may increase your consumption of PAHs.15 Animals exposed to PAHs in their diets developed leukemia and cancers of the digestive tract and lungs.16Beware of the Hazards of Brush Wires
Dangers inherent in outdoor grilling are not limited to cooking the meat. University of Missouri School of Medicine researchers published a study identifying more than 1,600 injuries between 2002 and 2012, which have occurred after individuals cleaned their grill with wire bristle brushes.17
Loose bristles may fall off your brush, adhere to the grill and end up in your next meal. When eaten, they can lead to injuries to your mouth, tonsils and throat. The most common injuries reported during this study were to oral cavities, throat and tonsils. Some injuries required surgery for treatment or repair.
Lead physician and researcher, Dr. David Chang, estimates the number of injuries is actually higher since his study did not include injuries treated at urgent care centers or other outpatient settings. While injuries to the mouth and throat are significant, Chang also states:18
“If the bristle passes through those regions without lodging itself, it could get stuck further downstream in places like the esophagus, stomach or the intestine.
The biggest worry is that it will lodge into those areas and get stuck in the wall of the intestine. The bristles could migrate out of the intestine and cause further internal damage.”Tips for Safer Grilling
You don’t have control over the way food is grilled at restaurants or your friend’s house. However, you can make changes at home to reduce your potential for ingesting high levels of HCAs, PAHs or AGEs, all of which are known carcinogenic chemicals resulting from grilling.
Various herbs and spices can help flavor your food. The following have also been found to help reduce the amount of HCAs and AGEs produced when grilling.19 By adding them into your burger patties or using them as a rub, you can decrease the risks associated with this popular cooking method.
✓ Virgin olive oil
✓ Cider vinegar
✓ Black pepper
Other ways to decrease the health risks associated with grilling include the following strategies:
✓ Trim the Fat
When fat drips to the open flame or on the grates, flare-ups can spread PAHs onto your clothing and your food. Remove the skin from chicken, trim the fat from steaks and skip the fatty sausage and ribs over the grill. Choose leaner cuts of meat for the grill.
✓ Skip the Char
Those crisscross grill marks you work to achieve are just another indication of a build-up of AGEs and HCAs. Instead, flip the meat frequently at a lower temperature, cook the meat using indirect heat (not directly over the flame) and remove any burned or charred meat before eating.20
✓ Choose Your Color Carefully
To reduce the amount of HCAs and AGEs in the food, choose a medium-cooked meat over one that’s well-done. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat for safety. Steak should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (F), hamburgers to 160 degrees F and chicken to 165 degrees F. Place the thermometer in the center of the meat, away from bone, fat or gristle.21
✓ Use Marinade and Rubs
A tasty marinade helps improve your cooking in a number of different ways. The marinade reduces the amount of fat drippings into the grill, reducing the amount of smoke and PAHs. Acidic marinades reduce the amount of HCAs produced when cooking.
They begin to break down the meat, tenderizing it, and the flavors are fun to experiment with. A mixture of one part lemon juice to two parts onion and garlic was found to reduce the production of HCAs with grilling up to 70 percent.22
✓ Avoid Barbecue Sauces
Sauces made with tomato and/or sugars will double and sometimes triple your ingestion of toxic chemicals after just 15 minutes of cooking.23
✓ Soak the Meat in Beer
Marinating your meat in beer first can help lower amounts of PAHs in the food. Darker beers produced the least amount of PAHs in the meat — up to 68 percent less with a black beer marinade.24
✓ Pre-Cook Your Meat
Precooking inside removes some of the fat that may drip into the flame and reduces your cooking time on the grill, also reducing the amount of time the food is exposed to toxins. Less time at high heat reduces the number of AGEs developed in the meat during cooking.
✓ Add Fresh Vegetables
✓ Use Caution When Cleaning Your Grates
Clean the grill to avoid cooking on leftover grease and build-up of chemicals, but use caution when cleaning your grates with a wire brush. Safer options include nylon-bristle brushes or balls of tin foil. Also inspect the grates prior to use and your food before eating to ensure bristles are not stuck to the food.26
By Dr. Mercola
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most widely used medications in the U.S. This class of drug is used to treat chronic heartburn. Although the pain often happens in the lower to mid chest area, it is not related to heart disease or a heart attack.
Instead, heartburn pain happens when acid refluxes up your esophagus, burning the tissue. The fluid in your stomach is highly acidic, necessary for digestion of your food, protection against bacteria and absorption of many nutrients.
A variety of different reasons can cause this acidic fluid to pass the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and burn your esophagus, but most cases of heartburn are due either to a hiatal hernia or Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.
Occasional heartburn is best treated with simple lifestyle changes, such as drinking a bit of apple cider vinegar in water right before or after your meals. Unfortunately, when you experience chronic pain over many weeks, your physician may prescribe a daily medication. PPIs are one class of those medications.
The top selling PPIs include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, all available both as a prescription and over-the-counter (OTC). However, your doctor’s orders may actually do more harm than good in this instance, as these drugs tend to make your situation worse rather than better.Smoking Gun Points to PPIs
Your cells use a proton pump to produce acid. PPI medications are designed to inhibit the proton pump and reduce the amount of acid produced. PPIs do not specifically target the cells in your stomach, and stomach acid is usually not the primary trigger behind chronic heartburn.
This class of drug is not specific, and instead will inhibit any cell with a proton pump producing acid, whether those cells are in your stomach or not. Researchers from Stanford University and Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas believe this is the smoking gun behind the variety of dangerous side effects linked to PPIs.1
The production of acid in your cells is associated with a specific cleanup process. The cells use acid to clean out end products and garbage from metabolism and cell function. When the acid is not present, there is a buildup of these toxins in the cells, which may lead to the development of a variety of significant health conditions.2
Excess stomach acid is not often the cause for your heartburn. Quite the opposite is true. Low amounts of stomach acid and the subsequent overgrowth of bacteria changes the digestion of carbohydrates, producing gas. The gas increases the pressure on the LES, releasing acid into the esophagus, creating heartburn.
While you may experience speedy relief of heartburn from immediate acting acid neutralizing medications such as TUMS, long-acting medications such as PPIs may increase your risk of heartburn over time.3When Acid Levels Change, It Damages Your Body’s Ability to Function Properly
When PPIs were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they were designed to be taken for no more than six weeks. However, today it is not uncommon to find people who have been taking these drugs for more than 10 years.4 Long-term use has been associated with a number of different problems, including:
✓ Bacterial Overgrowth
✓ Reduced Absorption of Nutrients
One of the most common causes of impaired function of digestion and the absorption of nutrients is the reduction of stomach acid production.
This occurs in both the elderly and individuals on long-term antacid treatments, such as PPIs.7 Acid breaks down proteins, activates hormones and enzymes and protects your gut against overgrowth of bacteria.
Lack of acid results in iron and mineral deficiencies and incomplete digestion of proteins. This may also lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.8 PPIs are also linked to a reduced absorption of magnesium. Low magnesium levels may lead to muscle spasms, heart palpitations and convulsions.9
✓ Low Stomach Acid
PPIs reduce the amount of stomach acid. Symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, burping, burning and flatulence.10
✓ Decreased Resistance to Infection
Your mouth, esophagus and intestines are home to a healthy growth of bacteria, but your stomach is relatively sterile. Stomach acid kills most of the bacteria coming from your food or liquids, protecting your stomach and your intestinal tract from abnormal bacterial growth.11
At the same time, the acid prevents the bacteria growing in your intestines from moving into your stomach or esophagus.
Reducing stomach acid changes the pH of your stomach and allows external bacteria to grow. PPIs may reduce acid between 90 and 95 percent, increasing your risk of salmonella, c. difficile, giardia and listeria infections.12,13
The distortion of the gut microbiome affects your immune system and may increase your overall risk of infection. In vitro studies, those done on cells in test tubes, have found PPIs damage the function of white blood cells, responsible for fighting infection.17
✓ Increased Risk of Bone Fractures
Lowering stomach acid production may also reduce the amount of calcium absorption, which in turn may lead to osteoporosis.
Researchers have linked long-term, dose-dependent use of PPIs with increased risk of hip fracture. The longer you take the medication and the more you take, the higher your risk of fracture.18Antacids and Aspirin
In addition to the side effects listed above, researchers are discovering other health conditions associated with the use of PPIs and other acid reducing drugs.
Even while on PPI medication, you may experience occasional heartburn. Immediate acting antacids used to neutralize the acid in your esophagus may offer relief. Just be aware that this is really only adding insult to injury.
What’s worse, some antacids also contain aspirin, which may heighten your risk of adverse effects. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about severe bleeding associated with the use of aspirin.
Since that time, the FDA has recorded eight cases of severe bleeding resulting from using over-the-counter antacids to neutralize heartburn.19 In some of those cases, the individual required a blood transfusion to stabilize their condition.
In a statement, Dr. Karen Murry Mahoney, deputy director of the division of nonprescription drug products, said:
"Take a close look at the Drug Facts label, and if the product has aspirin, consider choosing something else for your stomach symptoms.
Unless people read the Drug Facts label when they're looking for stomach symptom relief, they might not even think about the possibility that a stomach medicine could contain aspirin."20What Barrett’s Esophagus Means to You
Long-term gastric reflux and heartburn may lead to Barrett’s Esophagus. This is a change in the cellular structure of the lining of your esophagus in response to chronic exposure to acid. Risk factors for Barrett’s Esophagus include:
✓ Older age
✓ Tobacco use
✓ Caucasian or African-American
The risk of developing cancer of the esophagus is significantly higher when you have Barrett’s Esophagus. In past years, the more common form of skin cancer has been squamous cell carcinoma. However, researchers have now discovered if you have taken PPIs for an extended period of time and have developed Barrett’s Esophagus, you have an increased risk of a more aggressive form called adenocarcinoma.
As recently as 1975, 75 percent of the esophageal cancers diagnosed were squamous cell carcinomas. More amenable to treatment and less aggressive then adenocarcinoma, the numbers have radically shifted in the past 30 years.21 The rate of squamous cell carcinoma has declined slightly, but the number of diagnosed adenocarcinoma of the esophagus has risen dramatically.
In 1975, 4 people per million were diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, and in 2001 it rose to 23 people per million, making it the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).22
Adenocarcinoma is now diagnosed in 80 percent of all esophageal cancers.23 Researchers theorized PPIs would protect people with Barrett’s Esophagus from adenocarcinoma, but found the reverse to be true. Not only did PPIs not protect the esophagus, but instead there was a dramatic increase in the risk of this deadly cancer, discovered in two separate studies.24,25PPIs May Raise Your Risk for Dementia, Kidney Disease and Heart Attacks
PPIs affect all cells in your body, which may explain why they have been linked to such deadly conditions as kidney disease, heart attacks and dementia. In the past, PPIs were linked to acute interstitial nephritis, an inflammatory process in the kidneys. In a recent study of over 10,000 participants, researchers found another link to chronic kidney disease.26
The team found that those using PPIs to treat heartburn were more likely than other individuals on different heartburn medications to suffer chronic kidney disease or kidney failure over a five-year period.27
Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, one of the researchers and a kidney specialist with the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, said the findings illuminated a significant point: "I think people see these medications at the drug store and assume they're completely safe. But there's growing evidence they're not as safe as we've thought."28
PPIs have also been linked to dementia in people over age 75. In a study evaluating over 73,000 people over age 75 without any signs of dementia at the outset of the study, researchers made a startling connection. Of the individuals who developed dementia in the following seven years, those who regularly used PPIs had a significantly higher risk of the condition.29
A large data-mining study performed by researchers from Stanford University discovered PPIs were also associated with an increased risk of heart attack, while other long-term heartburn medications were not.30What Can You Do to Prevent or Treat Heartburn?
In many cases, the root cause of heartburn is not linked to an overproduction of acid, but rather an underproduction. So before risking your health by using heartburn medications like antacids and PPIs, try these natural options:
✓ Address Your Diet
The answer to heartburn and acid indigestion is to restore your natural gastric balance and function. To do that, eat lots of vegetables and other high-quality, ideally organic, unprocessed foods, and make sure you’re getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet by regularly consuming fermented foods. This will help balance your bowel flora, which can help eliminate H. pylori bacteria — which is a very common cause of heartburn — naturally.
✓ Add Acid
It might seem counterintuitive to add acid to an acidic environment, but as you’ve already discovered, many cases of heartburn are triggered by low acid production. One strategy is to take 3 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 6 to 8 ounces of fresh water before each meal.31 For a list of other alternatives that can help promote acid production, please see my previous article, “15 Natural Remedies for the Treatment of Acid Reflux.”
✓ Work With Gravity
Heartburn tends to be worse at night, and/or after you lie down. Rather than lying down right after a meal, stay seated or standing for at least three hours, as food pressing on your LES will increase your risk of heartburn. Elevate the head of your bed using blocks sold for that purpose so your bed doesn’t slip and cause injury.32
Avoid stacking pillows to elevate your head, as this can increase pressure on your LES. High pillows also cause poor alignment of your neck and spine, increasing your risk for neck pain.
Ginger root has been traditionally used against gastric disturbances since ancient times. Its gastroprotective effect comes from blocking acid and suppressing H. pylori. To make your own tea, simmer three slices of raw ginger root in 2 cups of water for about 30 minutes. Drinking it 20 minutes before your meal can help prevent heartburn from developing.
✓ Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothing
Tight clothing increases the pressure on your LES and increases the risk of an acid leak into your esophagus.
✓ Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight around your middle places excess pressure on your LES. Even losing 15 pounds can make a positive difference in your symptoms.
✓ Avoid Triggers
Track the foods that increase your risk of heartburn. It might take some time, but it is well worth the effort.
✓ Organic Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, helping to reduce any overgrowth of bacteria in your stomach. It also helps to soothe your esophagus on the way down, and is a very healthy fat that is good for your overall health. Start with 1 teaspoon to see how your body responds. Common side effects are headache and slight nausea. Gradually work up to 3 tablespoons a day. You could also try adding 1 tablespoon to a cup of tea or coffee.
By Dr. Mercola
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, has been making headlines recently not only because it's the most used agricultural chemical in history, but also because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined it is a probable carcinogen.
Lurking somewhat below the radar, however, is atrazine, the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. Though it hasn't yet achieved the notoriety of glyphosate, it is equally disserving.
Atrazine's primary use is to control weeds in corn crops that cover much of the Midwest. This might sound strange, since that's what glyphosate is used for too. Most of the corn crops are genetically engineered (GE) to survive Roundup for that very purpose.
But because so much Roundup has been used, weeds are growing resistant. Bring in atrazine, a known hormone-disrupting chemical manufactured by Syngenta AG. It's already been banned in Europe, but in the U.S. about 70 million pounds are used every year.1
In fact (and quite ironically), Monsanto recommends farmers mix atrazine with Roundup to control glyphosate-resistant weeds.2
They may soon have to come up with a new recommendation, however, as a risk assessment released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may lead to tighter regulatory limits and possibly an eventual ban.EPA: Atrazine Dangerous to Animals and Fish
The EPA's risk assessment for atrazine found the chemical could cause reproductive harm to mammals, fish and birds, with the level of concern already surpassed by nearly 200-fold using real-world scenarios for mammals.
For fish and birds, atrazine exceeded the level of concern by 62- and 22-fold, respectively.3
An EPA "level of concern" describes the threshold above which a chemical may be expected to cause harm. The chemical, which has previously been linked to birth defects and cancer, was banned in the European Union for its potential to contaminate water and ecosystems.
The EPA specifically cited research by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., an integrative biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, which found atrazine may be chemically castrating male frogs, essentially turning them into female frogs.Former Syngenta Researcher Found Atrazine Causes Hermaphroditism in Frogs
Hayes used to conduct research for Novartis, which eventually became Syngenta, but he resigned his contractor position after the company refused to allow him to publish the results of studies they had funded.
After resigning, he obtained independent funding to repeat the research, which was subsequently published and found that atrazine causes hermaphroditism in frogs. Since then, he's built an educational website dedicated to informing the public about atrazine.4
Syngenta attempted to discredit Hayes after the damaging research was released, but now he's received well-deserved vindication. Mother Jones further reported:5
"As for amphibians like frogs, the report found 'potential for chronic risk' from atrazine at real-world exposure levels — not rapid death, like what a roach might experience after a blast of Raid, but long-term, subtle damage, like an impeded ability to reproduce.
… 'The science has been settled for a long time,' Hayes [said] … 'Now it's politics and economics.'"Environmental Groups Urged the EPA to Take Action Against Atrazine Years Ago
The EPA's risk assessment is up for public comment and is not expected to be finalized until 2017.
The pesticide and agriculture industries are already up in arms over the findings, with the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) noting that if the report is finalized, it would "effectively ban the product from most uses."6
Such a move is long overdue, as environmental groups have been pushing the EPA to take action against atrazine for years.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) put out a report in 2009 that showed widespread atrazine contamination in drinking water, posing a "dangerous problem" that was not communicated to the people most at risk. They continued:7
"Some scientists are concerned about exposure for children and pregnant women, as small doses could impact development of the brain and reproductive organs.
Research has also raised concerns about atrazine's 'synergistic' affects, showing potential for the chemical having a multiplier affect to increase toxic effects of other chemical co-contaminants in the environment.
… Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), EPA has determined that an annual average of no more than 3 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine may be present in drinking water.
One of the chief findings of the report was that this reliance on a 'running annual average' allows levels of atrazine in drinking water to peak at extremely high concentrations.
Given the pesticide's limited economic value and the fact that safer agricultural methods can be substituted to achieve similar results, NRDC recommends phasing out the use of atrazine, more effective atrazine monitoring, and the adoption of farming techniques that can help minimize the use of atrazine to prevent it from running into waterways."What Are Atrazine's Health Effects in Humans?
If atrazine is toxic to mammals, birds and fish, what health risks does it pose to humans? The EPA plans to release a human health assessment for atrazine sometime in 2016. However, independent scientists have previously cited evidence that the chemical may be carcinogenic, noting:8,9
"In summary, the Panel concluded that the cancers for which there is suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential include: ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, hairy-cell leukemia and thyroid cancer."
In addition, research published in Current Environmental Health Reports found higher concentrations of atrazine in drinking water have been associated with birth defects, including abdominal defects, gastroschisis (in which the baby's intestines stick outside of the baby's body), and others.
Past research has also linked atrazine-contaminated drinking water with hormonal irregularities. Women who drank water with even low levels of the chemical were more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and low estrogen levels.10
The results are especially concerning given atrazine's prevalence. Atrazine has been found in a majority of water samples taken from Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found atrazine in 94 percent of drinking-water samples tested.13Syngenta Paid $105 Million for Contaminating Midwest Drinking Water Supplies
It's no secret that atrazine has infiltrated U.S. drinking water. Syngenta agreed to pay $105 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in which water utilities in the U.S. Midwest claimed atrazine had contaminated their drinking water.14
Nearly 2,000 water utilities were part of the settlement. As part of the settlement agreement, Syngenta was allowed to plea "no liability" and actually went on record saying, "no one ever has or ever could be exposed to enough atrazine in water to affect their health."15
They may soon be eating their words. Even the state of Wisconsin, where the chemical's use has been banned in certain areas, states:
" … [T]he Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has taken action to reduce atrazine use to prevent any more groundwater contamination … Based on animal feeding studies, atrazine has been classified as a 'possible' cancer-causing agent.
Long-term exposure may increase a women's risk of breast cancer … Animal feeding studies indicate that exposure to high levels of atrazine over a long period of time causes tremors and heart and liver damage."How to Protect Yourself From Atrazine and Other Pesticide Exposures
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of pesticides in their urine, and unless you're a farmer, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure, along with your drinking water.16
Eating organic is one of the best ways to lower your overall pesticide burden. The largest study of its kind found that people who "often or always" ate organic food had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.17
Research also found that organic produce had, on average, 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional produce.18 That being said, not everyone has access to a wide variety of organic produce, and it can sometimes be costlier than buying conventional.
Remember that eating vegetables, even if they're not organic, is better than not eating vegetables at all. However, when you need to prioritize, refer to the Dirty Dozen list and buy organic as much as possible when you’re choosing foods that are listed as the most-contaminated. If you shop at farmer's markets, which I strongly recommend, you can also ask the farmer directly about pesticide usage.
It's possible to find produce that is not certified organic that may still have a lower pesticide burden than typical conventional produce depending on the farmer. So if you can't find organic produce, look for a local farmer who has eliminated pesticide use (or uses such chemicals only minimally).Filtering Your Tap Water Is Important to Reduce Atrazine Exposure
Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in U.S. waters, so I recommend filtering your tap water — both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it. As noted by the (NRDC):19
"Consumers should make sure that the filter they choose is certified by NSF International to meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard 53 for VOC (volatile organic compounds) reduction and therefore capable of significantly reducing many health-related contaminants, including atrazine and other pesticides."
Finally, if you know you have been exposed to pesticides, eat fermented foods like kimchi. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi may help your body break down pesticides. In addition, there is some evidence that the antioxidant lycopene, found in watermelon, tomatoes, red bell peppers and more, may protect against some of atrazine's toxic effects.20
By Dr. Mercola
Pandemic outbreaks are becoming more prevalent in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), revealing the inherent flaws of industrialized animal farming. When you remove diversity from a farm, you raise the risks of the operation, including the risk of disease.
Prior to CAFOs, when a virus would emerge, some small farms would lose part or all of their animals, but the numbers would be limited. It didn't explode into a massive epidemic where millions of animals and countless food products are affected across the country, and in some cases around the world.
As noted by online science magazine Nautilus,1 the combination of factory farms and air travel "forms a viral expressway to pandemics."Factory Farms Make Food Production Riskier
The first bird flu pandemic emerged in 2005, with repeats in 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, followed by the threat of a swine flu pandemic in 2009, the origin of which was traced to an infected pig in Mexico.
As reported in the featured article,2 the 2009 swine flu virus was also eventually linked to an infected pig in a Chinese slaughterhouse, documented in 2004.
The viral strains were not identical, but close enough for researchers to conclude that the 2009 virus probably evolved through the mixing of gene segments of viruses found in pigs around the world.
When animals (and other foods3) are shipped from one location to another, they bring with them potentially brand new pathogens that can then mingle and mix with local pathogens.
"Most mutant strains are failures. But sometimes a strain is produced through genetic recombination and reassortment that's more 'fit' in the Darwinian sense than either of its ancestors.
The viruses that dwelled inside the 2004 Hong Kong pig and its deadly cousin in Mexico were triple-recombinant. They assembled genes that originated from strains of human, pig, and bird flu together into a single strain," Nautilus writes.
"Scientists couldn't pinpoint how H1N1 jumped from swine to humans in 2009. But they do know that once it did, modern air travel became a viral expressway."
Large-scale factory slaughterhouses magnify the risks, as animals from multiple CAFOs are all processed in one area, allowing infection in a single animal from a single farm to contaminate very large batches of meat — and any number of processed foods into which those contaminated meats are included.Foodborne Outbreaks Are on the Rise
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella is on the rise in the U.S.4 The agency is currently investigating no less than seven multi-state outbreaks related to contaminated poultry (including live chickens) that have infected more than 300 people.
But chicken isn't the only food prone to Salmonella. Factory farmed eggs, of course, are a high-risk food in this regard, but so are plant foods.
Even antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present in agricultural soils, typically deposited there via contaminated manure and/or so-called biosolids (toxic sewage waste frequently passed off as organic potting soil)5 — and this is yet another route for harmful bacteria, including drug-resistant strains, into the food system.
In recent weeks there has been a remarkable uptick in foodborne disease outbreaks, affecting a number of foods and nutritional products you normally would not suspect, including:
• Flour. General Mills has voluntarily recalled more than 10 million pounds of flour after it was suspected as the source of Escherichia coli O121(E. coli), which has sickened 38 people in 20 states. Ten of them required hospitalization.6
The recall includes three brands of flour: Gold Medal, Gold Medal Wondra and Signature Kitchens, sold at Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Shaws, Vons, United Supermarkets, Randalls and Acme retailers.
• Sunflower seeds. Listeria-contaminated sunflower seeds have led to the recall of about 100 different food products, including Brown & Haley Mountain Thins trail mix and more than 33,600 pounds of Trader Joe's' broccoli and kale chicken salad.7
Add to this the fact that E. coli carrying the drug-resistant mcr-1 gene has now been detected in the U.S., and the situation can be considered dire indeed.
The shareable DNA also contains seven other genes that confer resistance against other antibiotics.
What makes mcr-1 such a unique threat is the fact that the rate of DNA transfer between different types of bacteria is exceptionally high and rapid, suggesting bacteria of all kinds can quickly and easily become resistant to all available antibiotics (pan resistance).
Moreover, the researchers who found the gene warned it would likely spread to bacteria worldwide,12,13 and that's exactly what we're seeing. Originally detected in China in 2015, within months it was found in the blood of a Danish patient.
It was also found in five poultry samples purchased in Denmark that were imported from Germany between 2012 and 2014.14 Then just last month, the gene was found in a U.S. slaughterhouse sample (pork) and an American patient admitted with an E. coli infection.15,16,17
When you consider the frequency with which foodborne outbreaks occur, the knowledge that any given outbreak may involve a pan resistant bacteria is truly food for thought, if not cause for change.Could Chicken Virus Promote Obesity?
In related news, research suggests certain chicken viruses may have the unexpected effect of causing obesity in infected humans. A 1997 study18 found that 1 out of 5 obese people tested positive for the presence of a chicken virus called SMAM-1.
Surprisingly, these people weighed on average 33 pounds more than obese people who tested negative for the virus. According to Dr. Michael Greger, director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States, and blogger at NutritionFacts.org:19
"SMAM-1 was the first chicken virus to be associated with human obesity, but not the last ... [H]uman adenovirus Ad-36, a human obesity-associated virus first associated with obesity in chickens and mice ... spreads quickly from one chicken to another via nasal, oral or fecal excretion and contamination, causing obesity in each chicken. This, of course, raises serious concerns about Ad-36-induced adiposity in humans ...
The virus appears to both increase the number of fat cells by mobilizing precursor stem cells and increase the accumulation of fat within the cells. If we take liposuction samples of fat from people, the fat cell precursors turn into fat cells at about five times the rate in people who came to the liposuction clinic already infected. Fat taken from non-infected people that was then exposed to the virus start sucking up fat at a faster rate, potentially inducing obesity without increasing food intake."
Barring the unethical testing on humans by infecting them with the virus, it's difficult to prove that a chicken virus might cause a person to become obese. Indirect evidence and population studies, however, suggest about 15 percent of the U.S. population carry the obesity-promoting Ad-36 virus, and a research team in Taiwan that followed 1,400 Hispanic men and women for 10 years found that those infected did indeed gain more weight than their uninfected peers.20UV Light Helps Combat Pathogens
The food and medical industries tend to combat harmful bacteria primarily through the use of antibiotics, but that strategy is directly responsible for putting us in this situation in the first place. Misuse of these drugs has spawned antibiotic-resistant bacteria that now kill an estimated 23,000 Americans each year. By 2050, the death toll from drug-resistant infections is expected to reach 10 million a year worldwide.
There are alternatives, but they must be widely implemented. And fast. UV light, for example, especially blue light, acts as a potent environmental disinfectant that could potentially be used both in medicine and food production. Research has found UV light can:
- Reduce the spread of tuberculosis in hospital wards and waiting rooms by 70 percent21,22
- Help kill 90 percent of drug-resistant bacteria in hospital rooms23
- Kill drug-resistant strains of Staph and Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis) in as little as five seconds24
- Disinfect water without the addition of other harsh chemicals25
Most recently, researchers found that so-called "far-UVC light" (UV light with a wavelength of around 200 nanometers) kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as effectively as conventional germicidal UV light, but without any UV-related risks to the patient or hospital personnel, such as skin or eye damage.26
The far-UVC wavelength cannot penetrate deeply enough into the human skin or eye to do any damage. It can however penetrate bacterial cells, due to their smaller size. The researchers are now investigating whether far-UVC may work in a clinical setting, with the hopes of being able to decrease hospital-acquired infections, which currently affect 1 in 25 hospital patients.
Researchers have also discovered it makes antibiotic drugs 1,000 times more effective and may even allow an antibiotic to successfully combat otherwise antibiotic-resistant bacteria.27,28 For at-home wound care, you may want to consider stocking a bottle of silver, which has potent antimicrobial effects.29,30,31,32,33
A 2010 study found colloidal silver effectively killed drug-resistant Staph, E. coli, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa,34 the latter of which typically occurs in hospitals and in people with weakened immune systems.35 Researchers have even found that using silver nanoparticles in food packaging can help prevent proliferation of foodborne pathogens such as Listeria.36,37Diversification and Decentralization Is the Solution
In the long term, regenerative and local agriculture is the answer to these food safety issues, as well as many other problems. While it may not be the easiest solution to implement, it's the best and most logical solution. By shifting back to smaller farms that serve their local community, you dramatically increase food safety by reducing the number of animals and people that could possibly be affected by any given outbreak.
Regenerative agriculture also does away with most drugs, as they're not necessary in a well-designed system that supports rather than challenges the health of the animals, plants and soil. Some people question whether regenerative or organic agriculture would be economically viable, or whether that might make food insecurity even worse by raising food prices too high.
According to industrial agriculture insider John Ikerd, who has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics, neither of these concerns are particularly valid.
He insists that while transitioning over to a more sustainable type of food system may result in farm cost increases of 8 to 12 percent, the actual price you pay for the food would only rise about 2 percent — a small price to pay when you compare it to the possibility of contracting pan-resistant food poisoning, like E. coli or Salmonella poisoning for which NO drug will work.Together We Can Create Safer, More Sustainable Food Systems
You can help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more regenerative systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, local produce over "cheap" conventional varieties commonly sold in larger grocery chains.
You can also slash your food bill by focusing on locally grown foods that are in season, typically a bargain at that time of year, or by growing some of your own. Remember to choose organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised beef, poultry, and dairy, in addition to organic produce.
While many grocery stores now carry organic foods, it's preferable to source yours from local growers whenever possible, as much of the organic food sold in grocery stores is imported. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:
EatWild.com provides lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome and raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other organic produce. Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.
Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.
The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.
This website 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.
A national listing of farmers markets.
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.
CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
The FoodRoutes Network "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.
The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.
If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF)38 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.39 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.
By Dr. Mercola
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which took effect in 1976, allows high-production volume chemicals to be launched without their chemical identity or toxicity information being disclosed.
It also makes it very difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals. For starters, the act only gives the EPA 90 days to determine if a new chemical poses an unreasonable risk prior to it entering the market.
The EPA states they typically don't get the toxicity data in time to make such determinations, and as such, the EPA has only regulated five chemicals and requested testing for 200 since 1976. There are about 64,000 chemicals in use right now that are not regulated or tested for environmental repercussions.1
An overhaul of the TSCA is desperately needed and has been for decades, making this month's Senate approval of an update a monumental occasion. Last month, the House approved the update to the TSCA, and it will now be signed into law.
There are some problems with the update, however — especially it's timeline. As Bloomberg reported:2
"By the time EPA finishes work on the chemicals it has prioritized, the children of today's children will have been exposed to them — probably for years."TSCA Update: Safety Tests Can Take up to 7 Years Per Chemical
There's no doubt that the EPA should be testing more chemicals for safety, but the TSCA update doesn't go far enough to protect Americans.
On the bright side, the new agreement would give the EPA authority to require companies to provide safety data for untested chemicals and also prevent chemicals from coming to market if they haven't been tested for safety.
It also removes the 90-day limit for the EPA to determine chemical risks and, at least on the surface, eliminates a requirement that chemical regulations had to take into account the cost of compliance. Other notable improvements include:3
- The EPA will be required to determine whether a chemical meets a set safety standard before it enters the market.
- The EPA must consider a chemical's effects on particularly vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and children.
- The EPA must quickly review chemicals known to persist in the environment and build up in humans.
- Companies will no longer be allowed to keep data secret due to "trade secret" and other confidentiality claims.
The EPA has already identified 90 chemicals as high priority, and such chemicals are supposed to take precedence.
However, the bill's language was created after close work with the American Chemistry Council in order to ensure it would "win the support of industry."4 As such, while the bill requires the EPA to begin conducting safety tests on roughly 64,000 chemicals, they only have to test 20 chemicals at a time.
Further, each chemical has a seven-year deadline, such that it will be a very long time before potentially toxic chemicals stop being used. As Bloomberg reported:5
"An analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which has criticized the TSCA rewrite as too weak, estimates that EPA needs 28 years to complete risk evaluations on the 90 chemicals in its work plan, 30 years to finalize related regulations on those chemicals, and 35 years to implement the resulting rules."States May Lose Ability to Restrict Toxic Chemicals
Congress caved in to industry and allowed a single regulatory system to oversee the industry, and also allowed companies the right to seek a federal waiver from the rules for certain chemicals.
Under the new agreement, states may lose their power to regulate chemicals they deem toxic. In return, language was inserted to allow states to restrict a chemical's use only if the federal risk review takes more than 3 ½ years. As The Washington Post reported:6
"The EWG's Scott Faber, the organization's vice president for government affairs, said the EWG walked away from the bill because it represents 'only a slight improvement' on 'the worst environmental law in the books.'"Other Glaring Problems With the Chemical Bill Update
The EWG pointed out several other notable failures in the new legislation:
• State action against chemicals can be suspended for more than three years while the EPA completes its safety review. The EWG reported:7
"States have been the only cops on the chemical safety beat, regulating scores of chemicals and driving marketplace innovation. Any legislation that claims to be better than current law would permit state action until an EPA rule is final."
• No adequate funding is required from the chemical industry, which means there's a good chance the EPA will lack the funding needed to review toxic chemicals already on the market. According to the EWG:8
"To make TSCA better than the status quo, Congress should provide enough funding to review the most dangerous chemicals in a generation — not a century … The compromise only provides about half of what's needed."
• Cost is not fully eliminated from the EPA's decision-making process, even though it's purported to have been removed from considerations.
The EWG noted that the bill contains "poison pill provisions that could keep the EPA tied in legal knots" and "negotiators should have at least removed vague requirements that rules be 'cost-effective.'"
• The EPA will be able to classify chemicals as "low hazard," but there is no set definition of what low hazard means. The EWG explained:
"Since the compromise allows the industry to dictate up to half of the chemicals EPA will assess for safety, you can bet a lot of their favorite chemicals will soon be bearing this stamp of approval."Many Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Are Unsafe at Any Level
The European Commission is in the process of creating regulations for endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals known to interfere with development and reproduction, and they may cause serious neurological and immune system effects.
The disruptions occur because such chemicals mimic hormones in your body, including the female sex hormone estrogen, the male sex hormone androgen, and thyroid hormones.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may block hormonal signals in your body, or interfere with the way the hormones or receptors are made or controlled.9 Your normal hormone levels may be altered, or the chemicals may change the way such hormones travel through your body.
They've been implicated in a host of diseases from cancer and infertility to obesity and diabetes — and they're found in countless consumer items such as cosmetics, plastics and pesticides.
In 2009, the European Parliament declared that endocrine-disrupting chemicals would not be allowed on the market, and they enlisted the European Commission to determine criteria to identify these chemicals.
The chemical industries then called for an "impact assessment" to be released before the criteria could be released. Environmental Health News explained the repercussions:10
"National health authorities, industry and NGOs are thus in suspended animation awaiting a decision on these criteria for identification — a regulatory tool that will then enable restrictions or, more radically, prohibitions on the use of certain endocrine disruptors.
Today, seven years later, these criteria still do not exist. This impact assessment, with its highly confidential conclusions (as secret as the location of the fountain of youth), is largely responsible for this delay. It was not originally part of the plan, but industry called for it as a way to weaken the regulation.
[This year] Sweden curtly reminded the Commission that the Court 'prohibits the use of economic considerations to define criteria.' So what is the nature of the 'economic considerations' contained in the pages of the impact study under lock and key?
In addition to the impact on the industry, will they take into account the cost of diseases related to exposure to endocrine disruptors in Europe, which was estimated by independent studies to be at between 157 billion and 288 billion euros per year?"For Endocrine Disruptors, Low Doses May Be More Toxic
It's unknown whether the European Commission or the EPA will take into account the fact that sometimes, low doses of chemicals have the potential for great harm.
Many studies assume a linear dose-response relationship for the chemical and any given effect. That is, they assume that if a chemical causes organ damage at 200 parts per million (ppm), it will cause greater damage at higher exposures and less damage at lower levels.
This is a dangerous assumption, because for many toxins, including some endocrine-disrupting chemicals, harm is exerted even at very small doses. Patricia Hunt, Ph.D., a geneticist at Washington State University, explained that endocrine disruptors like bisphenol A (BPA), which act like hormones, "don't play by the rules."
Even low-level exposure — levels to which people are currently being exposed — may be enough to damage developing eggs and sperm, for instance. In one of Hunt's studies, researchers found disruptions to egg development after rhesus monkeys, which have human-like reproductive systems, were exposed to either single, daily doses of BPA or low-level continuous doses.11Your Body Is Not a Toxin Dumping Ground
It's virtually impossible to avoid all of the toxic chemicals in your environment, but that doesn't mean you have to sit silently by while corporations use your home, your water, your air and your body as a convenient toxin dumping ground. Until change occurs on a global scale, you can significantly limit your exposure by keeping a number of key principles in mind.
- Eat a diet focused on locally grown, fresh, and ideally organic whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of chemicals, both in the food itself and the packaging. Wash fresh produce well, especially if it's not organically grown.
- Choose pastured, sustainably raised meats and dairy to reduce your exposure to hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
- Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with high-quality krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and at little risk of contamination, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, anchovies and sardines.
- Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans, as chemicals can leach out of plastics (and plastic can linings), into the contents; be aware that even "BPA-free" plastics typically leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad for you as BPA.
- Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
- Use glass baby bottles.
- Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
- Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin readily absorbs contaminants. Most tap water toxins, including fluoride, can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
- Look for products made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses, and others.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame-retardant chemicals.
- When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, consider buying chemical-free varieties containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk and Kevlar.
- Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
- Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on — even books, which are often plasticized. It's advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.
- Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.
- Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. The EWG's Skin Deep database can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.12
- Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or use glass doors.
- Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.
- Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds — even thousands — of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.
By Dr. Mercola
The idea that a low-fat diet is the answer if you struggle with weight gain and/or have risk factors for heart disease is a persistent one. For the past 50 years, obesity and heart disease have steadily risen. The question is why? Are dietary fats really to blame?
And if they are, which fats gave rise to these problems? It’s unfortunate, but researchers have frequently failed to take into account the fact that not all fats are created equal. Some do harm, while others are vitally important for optimal health.
Even more tragic, harmful and beneficial fats have been confused, leading to a situation where people are encouraged to eat the unhealthy ones and avoid the beneficial ones.
In more recent years, a number of scientists have stepped forward to promote a healthier view of dietary fats. But trying to change public policy is a difficult task that often takes one or more decades.Anti-Obesity Campaigners Urge Britons to Ditch Low-Fat Diets
The British National Obesity Forum (NOF) and Public Health Collaboration (PHC) report on obesity is a perfect example. The report, which is based on the analysis of 43 studies, warn that the policy to encourage people to eat a low-fat diet is having a “disastrous impact on health.”1,2
Calling for an overhaul of official dietary guidelines, which they claim are based on flawed science that has resulted in higher consumption of net carbs and junk food, the report notes that eating healthy fat does not make you fat. According to Reuters:3
“The NOF/PHC report, entitled ‘Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes’ ... said snacking in-between meals is what is making people overweight.
‘The role of poor dietary advice has been ignored for too long. Specifically, the 'low fat' and 'lower cholesterol' messages have had unintended disastrous health consequences,’ the report said.”
According to NOF chairman Dr. David Haslam:4
“As a clinician treating patients all day every day, I quickly realized that guidelines from on high suggesting high carbohydrate, low-fat diets were the universal panacea, were deeply flawed.
Current efforts have failed, the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been, and show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of government and scientists.”Key Findings
The key findings of the NOF/PHC report include the following:
✓ Eating fat does not make you fat
High-fat, low-net-carb diets are superior to low-fat, high-net-carb diets for weight loss and heart health.
✓ Calorie counting doesn’t work
Calories are not created equal. They have differing metabolic effects depending on their source, so counting calories is useless for successful weight loss.
✓ You cannot outrun a poor diet
Obesity cannot be conquered simply by increasing exercise as obesity is rooted in metabolic dysfunction that leads to abnormal energy partitioning.
✓ Saturated fat does not cause heart disease
Saturated fat and cholesterol has little to do with the development of heart disease, and a new analysis of evidence from 40 years ago does not support restricting saturated fat.
One of the original researchers was Ancel Keys, Ph.D. — the man who initially proposed the link between saturated fat and heart disease — and it’s believed he was largely responsible for suppressing these damning findings, as they don’t support his original hypothesis.
Only parts of the trial’s results were ever published, leaving out the controversial finding that replacing saturated fats with vegetable oil had NO benefit on mortality.
While vegetable oils lowered total cholesterol levels by 14 percent after one year, this did NOT result in improved health and longevity, which is the conventional belief.
Instead, the research showed that the lower the cholesterol, the higher the risk of dying.
For every 30-point drop in total cholesterol there was a 22 percent increased chance of death. In the 65 and older category, those who received vegetable oil experienced roughly 15 percent more deaths compared to seniors in the saturated fat group.
The vegetable oil also did not result in fewer cases of atherosclerosis or heart attacks.
On the contrary, autopsies revealed that while both groups had similar levels of arterial plaque, 41 percent of the vegetable oil group showed signs of at least one heart attack compared to just 22 percent of those in the saturated fat group.5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12
✓ Avoid foods labeled “low-fat” or “low cholesterol”
There’s no evidence to suggest avoiding saturated fat or dietary cholesterol reduces heart disease or death from heart disease.
✓ Meal frequency influences your weight
Excessive snacking is a significant contributing factor to obesity. To lose weight, you need to reduce your meal frequency.
I recommend limiting it to two meals per day, either breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner, within a six- to eight-hour window each day. It’s also beneficial to avoid eating at least three hours before bedtime to protect your mitochondrial function.
✓ Commercial influences have corrupted public dietary guidelines
The report accuses the food and beverage industries of manipulating public health organizations and corrupting the dietary guidelines for commercial gain.Why Public Policy Is so Hard to Change
As in the United States, the U.K. encourages people to eat high amounts of carbohydrates. While high-fiber carbs like vegetables are important for good health, net carbs (total carbs minus fiber; think sugars and starches) really need to be restricted if you want to optimize your health and weight.
The report has not been well received, however. Public Health England's (PHE) chief nutritionist, Alison Tedstone, Ph.D., called the recommendation to eat a high-fat, low-net-carb diet “irresponsible and potentially deadly,” while Associate Medical Director for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Dr. Mike Knapton, said the report was “full of ideas and opinions.”13,14
The U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) called the report “a muddled manifesto of sweeping statements, generalizations and speculation,”15 and the British Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) has gone on record saying it “does not endorse the content of the report as it contradicts current evidence ... ”16
This kind of backlash is to be expected. Rarely if ever is it quick or easy to make course corrections in public policy.
The problem stems from the fact that careers are invested in certain recommendations. Not to mention the fact that government organizations can rarely afford to admit they were wrong, since public trust is at stake. Industry interests are also at play.
Today’s diet is a boon to the food industry, as the primary ingredients are far cheaper to produce and have a far greater profit margin than nutrient-dense whole foods. My recent interview with British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra addresses some of these concerns.Download Interview Transcript Healthy Dietary Fats Actually Promote Burning of Body Fat
Your body can use both carbs and fat for fuel, but they’re in no way equal. When your body burns glucose as its primary fuel, it actually inhibits your body’s ability to access and burn body fat. With an ever-present supply of carbs, your liver downregulates the entire fat burning process because it’s not needed.
So, if you eat the standard American diet, chances are you've radically reduced your ability to burn body fat for fuel. How do you rev up your body's fat-burning engine? Part of the equation is to eat more healthy dietary fats. The other part of the equation is to limit net carbs. Fat is a far preferable fuel for your body as it burns far more efficiently and “cleaner” than carbs.
To effectively burn body fat, you may need as much as 50 to 85 percent of your daily calories to come from beneficial monosaturated and saturated fats, which include:
✓ Olives and olive oil (make sure it’s third party-certified, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils. Also avoid cooking with olive oil. Use it cold.)
✓ Coconuts and coconut oil (excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing)
✓ Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
✓ Seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds
✓ Grass-fed meats
✓ Lard and tallow (excellent for cooking)
✓ Ghee (clarified butter)
✓ Raw cacao butter
✓ Organic-pastured egg yolks
✓ Animal-based omega-3 fat such as krill oil and small fatty fish like sardines and anchovies
So, while it may sound ironic, eating more fat and fewer net carbs will ultimately help your body to burn more fat. There are other methods that can help you switch over to fat-burning mode too. One reason so many struggle with their weight (aside from eating processed foods in lieu of real foods) is because they rarely if ever skip a meal.
As a result, their bodies have adapted to burning sugar as the primary fuel, which down-regulates enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat. Intermittent fasting can change that. By abstaining from food, your liver runs out of glycogen and then, just like that, starts to use up glycogen stored in your fat cells.Harmful Dietary Fats to Avoid
Fats can be harmful, but it’s important to be specific. For an in-depth review of dietary fats, please see the Weston A. Price Foundation’s article, “Saturated Fat Does a Body Good.”17 In summary, harmful fats that contribute to heart disease are primarily:
1. Trans fats. By acting as a pro-oxidant, trans fat contributes to oxidative stress that causes cellular damage.
2. Highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils (PUFAs, such as peanut, corn and soy oil), which are high in damaged omega-6 and produce toxic oxidation products like cyclic aldehydes when heated.
These oils promote oxidized cholesterol, which becomes destructive when entering into your LDL particles. Additionally, omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, when taken in large amounts, cannot be burned for fuel. Instead, they’re incorporated into cellular and mitochondrial membranes where they are highly susceptible to oxidative damage, which damages the metabolic machinery.
To protect your mitochondrial function, limit PUFAs to less than 10 percent of your daily calories. At higher levels, you will increase the PUFAs concentration in the inner mitochondrial membrane, which makes it far more susceptible to oxidative damage. Also avoid exceeding 5 percent of your daily calories as omega-6 fats.
In comparison, healthy saturated fats such as those found in animal products and coconut oil:
- Increase your large, fluffy LDL particles that are NOT associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
- Increase your HDL levels, which is associated with lower heart disease risk. This also compensates for any increase in LDL.
- Do NOT cause heart disease as made clear in a large number of studies.18,19,20,21,22,23
- Do not damage as easily as other fats because they do not have double bonds that can be damaged through oxidation.
- Serves as a “clean-burning fuel” for your brain and mitochondria, producing far less damaging free radicals than sugars and non-fiber carbs.
Mounting evidence suggests high-fat, low net-carb diets may be the key that many people have been looking for, as it solves more than one problem. Not only does it help you shed excess body fat, it does so while improving metabolism, boosting overall energy levels, lowering inflammation, promoting optimal health and maximizing longevity in a number of different ways. One effective way to optimize your fat-burning system is to:
- Limit your net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to a maximum of 30 to 40 grams per day. You can consume as many high-fiber veggies as you like. They’re carbs, but since they’re high in fiber, they’re typically quite low in net carbs.
- Limit protein to a maximum of 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass.
- Increase your intake of healthy fats to 50 to 85 percent of your daily calories.
As mentioned, you can kick the entire process up a notch by implementing intermittent fasting, at least for a finite period of time while your body returns to a balanced state. After that, assuming you’re still eating right, you’ll only need to intermittent fast on a maintenance basis. The fear of healthy dietary fat is actually part of why we’re currently struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease of epidemic proportions.
By Dr. Mercola
You’ve heard all about all the incredible qualities of kale, but now a shift in the food industry is looking starboard toward the superfood characteristics of kelp.Kelp: What Is It, Really?
Kelp is one of several seaweed varieties growing in coastal regions around the world, from Japan to Ireland, and the U.S. Coming in black, green, red and brown, some are small; some are so gigantic they form a sort of bed or cushion on the ocean floor and can be seen growing thickly on shorelines.
According to Organic Facts, an online website that provides unbiased information on various food items:
“Giant kelp, which is one of the largest plants in the world, grow enormously and stand like an underwater tree with its roots at the foot of the sea. Unlike a weed that grows liberally and can be harmful to the area it dwells in, seaweed plays an extremely vital role for the marine life.
It serves as a foundation for the majority of the food chains and provides home to a number of marine creatures. In addition to this, seaweed possesses anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that have been trusted for providing health benefits to the humans from ancient times.”1
Also called a sea vegetable, this marine algae is like a leafy green grown in a seabed rather than a garden bed. It’s quite popular in coastal areas of Japan, no doubt because it’s so abundant. Many Japanese claim it’s one of the reasons for their longevity.Kelp Versus Kale
Comparing kelp to dark, leafy green kale is interesting, as both plants contain quite different nutrient amounts, especially when you examine the Dietary Reference Values (DRV), which give you the daily nutrient recommendations for all foods. For example, kale has more antioxidants than any other vegetable.
Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. More specifically, according to the DRV, it contains 684 percent of vitamin K, 206 percent of vitamin A and 134 percent of vitamin C.
Its sulforaphane content protects against cancer, as does indole-3-carbinol, which also aids in DNA cell repair.
Kelp, aka brown seaweed, contains high amounts of iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron, as well as vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, omega-3 fats and fiber, together relaying impressive health benefits that are hard to ignore.Kelp Giving Kale a Run for Its Money
Commercial kelp harvesting is arguably its greatest hazard to its sustainability. A century ago, it peaked when around 400,000 wet tons were harvested for fertilizer and for making potash for World War I gunpowder. Then industries began extracting algin from kelp.
“In the 1930s, the food, pharmaceutical and scientific communities began extracting algin, a thickening, stabilizing, suspending, and gelling agent … It … emulsifies salad dressing, and keeps pigments uniformly mixed in paints and cosmetics."2
Kelp, aka “sea greens,” currently sells for around $15 a pound in retail. Ocean Approved, a Maine-based company taking early advantage of the latest resurgence in the marine algae market, is selling kelp to hospitals and schools such as the universities of Iowa and Texas.3
Cultured or farmed dulse, a red variety found off the Irish coast, which grows faster than wild (which costs up to $90 per pound), is thriving, especially in the American market. When it’s fried, one strain grown in Oregon tastes like bacon, and incredibly, contains more protein than kale.Kelp: The Largest Source of Iodine
Many foods contain iodine, but nowhere near the tremendous amount in kelp. A single tablespoon provides a whopping 500 percent of the DRV. Nothing else comes close — not scallops, with 90 percent of the DRV, or cod, with 88 percent in servings of 4 ounces each, or a cup of yogurt, which nets 47 percent of the DRV.
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, a non-profit foundation that shares scientifically proven information about the benefits of healthy eating:
“Iodine is a key component of the hormones made in the thyroid gland. These hormones are absolutely critical to human health, helping to control energy production and utilization in nearly every cell of the body."4
Iodine also helps regulate your thyroid gland to produce strong, healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as to form thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine.5 It’s also essential for proper formation of your skeletal framework and regulating your body's energy and brain metabolism in a process regulated by your pituitary gland.
The myelination process in the central nervous systems of newborns is another key function of the thyroid hormone. Balanced iodine in the mother’s body is imperative in pregnancy and breastfeeding for optimal development of the baby’s brain cells.6
However, it’s important to understand that balancing your iodine levels is crucial. Specialists usually recommend around 150 micrograms (mcg) daily. Consuming too much could lead to either hypo- or hyperthyroidism.Kelp’s Versatility and Umami Flavor Makes It a Delicacy
As a food, kelp aficionados laud its flavor as the ultimate, seawater-laced brine that’s the essence of umami. Nori, one of the most popular seaweed species, is dried in sheets to make sushi rolls. Other varieties include dulse, arame, which is black; deep green wakame; kombu; and spirulina.7
Kelp isn’t a new commodity in the U.S. People have gathered and consumed it for centuries, including on both American coasts. In fact, scientists have theorized about a "kelp highway" facilitating migration from Japan, along Siberia, to Alaska. 8
A 2010 UN report estimates that Southeast Asia is responsible for more than 99 percent of seaweed production worldwide. However, 100,000 to 170,000 tons of (wet) kelp are harvested from California waters every year.9
Recently, seaweed has been grown fresh, frozen and marketed in the U.S. It doesn’t require fertilizer, fresh water or land like other commercially viable food crops.Savoring the Valuable Nutritional Benefits of Kelp
Over a century ago, a Japanese chemist discovered that dulse contains glutamic acid, known in your body as glutamate, central to the nervous system and most aspects of cognition, memory, learning and normal brain function.10
Kelp may induce apoptosis in estrogen-linked breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers11 by decreasing levels of the sex hormone estradiol.
A review12 showed it induced apoptosis in prostate, liver, oral, pancreatic and other cancers, inhibits Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach ulcers, and targets inflammatory skin conditions.
Further, kelp contains alginic acid, which protects the plants from bacteria, but in your body can reduce radiation exposure and prevent heavy metals from being absorbed.
Alginic acid in the seaweed kombu is known for its positive effects on diabetes,13 as well as its ability to coagulate blood. It prevents dental cavities, promotes digestive health, protects against flu, aids digestion, protects vision and maintains heart health.14 Livestrong noted:
“Sodium alginate derived from kelp reduced radioactive strontium absorption in the intestines by 50 to 80 percent … (allowing) calcium to be absorbed through the intestinal wall while binding most of the strontium, which is excreted from the body.”15How Does Kelp Produce These Amazing Health Benefits?
As mentioned, kelp is an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, boron, soluble fiber and iron, as well as vitamins A, B12, C and E.
The iron in kelp helps form healthy blood and prevent anemia and the antioxidants fight free radicals, altogether ensuring the growth of strong bones and optimal muscle function. According to the George Mateljan Foundation:
“One tablespoon of dried sea vegetable will contain between one-half milligram (mg) and 35 mg of iron, and this iron is also accompanied by a measurable amount vitamin C. Since vitamin C acts to increase the bioavailability of plant iron, this combination in sea vegetables may offer a special benefit.16
The balance of iodine in the thyroid gland is tricky, and both too much and too little iodine can slow down the production of hormones. This is not a situation where more is always better.”17Kelp Supplements and Products
Especially in areas of the world where kelp isn’t readily available, kelp supplements are taken to help prevent problems such as hypothyroidism or goiter due to an iodine deficiency. According to the Daily Mail:
“Deficiencies can be treated with 150 mcg of iodine daily. Prolonged use of large amounts of iodine (6 mg or more daily) may suppress activity of the thyroid gland. A safe upper limit of iodine is 1,000 mcg per day.”18
Kelp is a nutritious food for your diet, which may be depleted of nutrients such as iodine. There are also nutrient-enriched kelp granules to tenderize and flavor numerous dishes. Other products are growing in popularity: skin care products, soap, sunscreen, toothpaste and more.If the Water’s Not Clean, What About the Seaweed?
Several factors impact the stability of kelp forests, such as kelp harvesting, El Niño-type storms, fish grazing and pollution. While some scientists believe kelp is sustainable, adverse conditions may pose a serious threat. There is concern that while kelp absorbs minerals from sea water, it may also absorb toxins and concentrated contamination. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
“Kelp may experience reduced growth rates and reproductive success in more toxic waters and sediments. Studies on microscopic stages of kelp suggest that kelp is sensitive to sewage, industrial waste discharges, and other causes of poor water and sediment quality.”19
However, Barton Seaver, Healthy and Sustainable Food program director at Harvard, says kelp isn’t just a sustainable crop — it’s a restorative one, due to quick carbon dioxide uptake, which reduces ocean acidification. According to Organic Facts:
“Seaweed can filter excess nitrogen and phosphorus from the water, too. A (NOAA)-funded project in Washington State's Puget Sound is aiming to prove that farmed seaweed can create a 'protective halo' around stressed sea habitats. We're not at a point where we're just focused on doing no harm. We're really beginning to investigate and discover food-production methods that allow us to restore and heal environments."20Kelp Protects Itself With Iodine
While kelp has iodine that’s protective for humans, it also protects the kelp itself. Discover magazine reported:
“When the kelp is stressed at low tide by exposure to light and atmospheric ozone, it releases iodides — single, negatively charged ions — that coat the seaweed and protect it from chemical threats, such as naturally forming hydrogen peroxide and free radicals. The iodides also form iodine in the atmosphere.
This response may be the most chemically simple — and first inorganic (not carbon based) — antioxidant ever found. The protection extends beyond the kelp. Previously it was shown that iodine released from kelp provides the nuclei for cloud condensation, or particles upon which clouds can form. Algae may help reduce ozone accumulation and maintain the integrity of the atmosphere.”21
One innovative operation in Long Island Sound takes advantage of this, growing kelp with shellfish, because the kelp protects the shellfish from harmful algae blooms, while the algae simultaneously thrives on nitrogen that deprives the waters of oxygen.22 Additionally, there are four nationally protected marine environments.
“Monitoring projects actively continue in the four sanctuaries. With ongoing surveys of kelp extent (and) physical oceanic conditions … the researchers will gain a more complete understanding of natural and antropogenic impacts on kelp forests.”