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Dr. Mercola

Many Surprising Foods Found to Contain Monsanto's Deadly Poison

20 hours 52 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is the most used agricultural chemical in history.

In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply 0.8 pounds of the chemical to every acre of cultivated cropland in the U.S. and nearly 0.5 a pound of glyphosate to all cropland worldwide.1

Yet, mysteriously, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Residue Program, which is tasked with monitoring pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply, does not test for glyphosate residues.

As more health risks emerge — in March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen" — more people are starting to wonder just how much glyphosate is in our food.

The signs so far are not reassuring. Glyphosate has been detected in blood, breastmilk and urine samples.

Further, U.S. women had maximum glyphosate levels that were more than eight times higher than levels found in urine of Europeans, according to laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse.2

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) recently conducted its own research to determine if glyphosate is found in commonly consumed breakfast foods and their tests revealed the worst — that "our food system has been saturated with glyphosate, reaching even into some organic products."3

Glyphosate Found in Common Breakfast Foods

Ten out of 24 breakfast foods tested in ANH's analysis had detectable levels of glyphosate. This included oatmeal, bagels, coffee creamer, organic bread and even organic, cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs.

The majority of the glyphosate was found at levels below the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed allowable daily intake (ADI), but this is a dubious measure of safety. As ANH noted, the EPA's ADI for glyphosate is nearly six times higher than the EU's and fails to take into account:

  • Recent evidence of carcinogenicity
  • Toxicity of adjuvants in glyphosate formulations
  • The very wide distribution of glyphosate in food and water

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February 2016 that it would begin testing foods, such as corn and soybeans, for glyphosate, which may help to quantify just how much glyphosate Americans are consuming.

But keep in mind that current allowable limits may be set far too high to protect your health, so unless that's revised as well, you may be lulled into a false sense of security if the tests come back "within allowable limits."

Americans Are Likely Consuming Glyphosate on a Daily Basis

The ANH analysis results suggest that Americans are consuming glyphosate, a probable carcinogen, daily. Further, the tests did not take into account analogs of glyphosate, such as N-Acetylglyphosate, which is used by Dupont in their herbicide formulations used for GE crops.

If these analogs are present in food along with glyphosate, the end result would be "a greater bioaccumulation of glyphosate in our bodies and consequential increased chance of biological disruption and disease," ANH noted.

Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director of ANH-USA, further told The Huffington Post:4

"The fact that it [glyphosate] is showing up in foods like eggs and coffee creamer, which don't directly contact the herbicide, shows that it's being passed on by animals who ingest it in their feed …

This is contrary to everything that regulators and industry scientists have been telling the public."

While glyphosate was long said to be harmless and environmentally safe, accumulating research suggests the chemical does not break down rapidly in the environment, as its manufacturer claims, and instead might be accumulating (both in the environment and in people, potentially leading to cancer and other chronic disease).

Many Crops Are Desiccated With Glyphosate Just Days Before Harvest

ANH's analysis found the highest levels of glyphosate in non-genetically engineered (GE) crops including bagels, bread and wheat cereal. This, they noted, is likely the result of the common practice of using glyphosate as a desiccant shortly before harvest.

In northern, colder regions farmers of wheat and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest. Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, farmers realized they could spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crop and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).

Desiccating wheat with glyphosate is particularly common in years with wet weather and has been increasing in North Dakota and Upper Midwestern states in the U.S., as well as in areas of Canada and Scotland (where the process first began).

What this means is that even non-GE foods are likely to be contaminated with glyphosate, and possibly even more so because they're being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.

Along with wheat and oats, other crops that are commonly desiccated with glyphosate include:

✓ Lentils

✓ Peas

✓ Non-GMO soybeans

✓ Corn

✓ Flax

✓ Rye and Buckwheat

✓ Triticale

✓ Canola

✓ Millet

✓ Sugar beets

✓ Potatoes

✓ Sunflowers

No one is keeping track of how many crops are being desiccated with glyphosate; those in the industry have described it as a 'don't ask, don't tell policy.'

Monsanto Products Have Been Poisoning People and the Environment for Decades

Monsanto (and Monsanto-related entities) is now facing at least 700 lawsuits on behalf of people who claim their exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which Monsanto manufactured until the 1970s, caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.5 As they have done with glyphosate, the company claimed the PCBs it produced were safe and "singularly free of difficulties," yet the U.S. government banned PCBs in 1976 due to their carcinogenic potential.6

Prior to this, many internal documents have revealed that Monsanto did know of their toxicity. This includes a 1955 announcement that workers should no longer eat lunch in the Aroclor [PCB] department because "chlorinated biphenyls were quite toxic materials by ingestion or inhalation."7

The U.S. Navy also rejected Monsanto's PCBs for use in submarines after their own toxicity tests showed all rabbits died after skin application of the chemical and inhalation resulted in "definite liver damage."8 In 2002, Monsanto was eventually found guilty of decades of "outrageous acts of pollution" in the town of Anniston, Alabama, where it dumped PCBs into the local river and secretly buried the toxic chemical in a landfill.9

U.S. Cities Sue Monsanto

Internal documents revealed Monsanto had full knowledge of the severity of the pollution problem it caused for at least three decades and decided to ignore it. San Diego has sued Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs,10 and Seattle also filed a lawsuit against the company for PCB pollution.

Seattle wants Monsanto to pay to help clean up pollution it caused in the Duwamish River and also wants to hold Monsanto responsible for making the river's fish too contaminated to eat. The city alleges that Monsanto knew all along that PCBs were toxic but continued to market them anyway.

In addition to Seattle and San Diego, San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley, California and Spokane, Washington have also filed lawsuits against Monsanto for continuing to produce and promote PCBs despite knowing their hazards.11

'Monsanto Clause' Lets Monsanto Off the Hook for Environmental Destruction

Congress is in the process of updating the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 40-year-old piece of legislation in serious need of overhaul. Once reformed, the Act will determine how the chemical industry is regulated, including which chemicals are allowed and who can sue over any related problems.

That latter part is important, especially when faced with the type of devastation caused by chemicals like PCBs. But the House of Representatives has slipped in a clause that many are calling a "gift" to chemical giant Monsanto; the paragraph shields the company from legal liability related to PCBs.

Monsanto produced almost all PCBs sold in the U.S. — all 1.25 billion pounds of them.12 If the clause is allowed to remain in the Toxic Substances Control Act, PCB lawsuits against Monsanto by state and local governments and individuals would be blocked. States would also be blocked from passing PCB regulations.

As reported by The New York Times, Monsanto insists it did not ask for the clause to be added, and the House denies it is a "gift."13 But the clause benefits only one company.

Now city officials and lawyers involved in suing Monsanto to recover cleanup costs associated with PCBs or receive compensation for related health problems are protesting the "Monsanto Clause." Pete Holmes, the city attorney for Seattle, told The New York Times:14

"Call me a dreamer, but I wish for a Congress that would help cities with their homeless crises instead of protecting multinational corporations that poison our environment."

Monsanto Doesn't Want You to Know What's in Your Food

Monsanto has spent millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives, so you won't know which foods contain their genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In 2013, the company donated nearly $5 million to the anti-labeling campaign in Washington State, and in 2012 they donated more than $7 million to help defeat California's Proposition 37. Together with the food and industrial agriculture industries, biotechnology companies like Monsanto spent more than $101 million on lobbying to avert GMO labeling and preempt state rights, and that was in 2015 alone.15

They may feel defeat is near, as such lobbying efforts have risen sharply. For instance, these industries spent $66 million on such lobbying efforts in 2014 and just over $25 million in 2013.16 The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), whose 300-plus members include Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and General Mills, is among those pushing a Congressional bill called the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014."

The bill, dubbed the "DARK" (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws. It would also bar states from enacting laws that make it illegal for food companies to misrepresent their products by labeling GE ingredients as "natural." Last but not least, the DARK Act would also limit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) power to force food companies to disclose GE ingredients.

They are trying to HIDE the presence of genetically engineered ingredients and are pulling out ALL the stops to do so. Now it's known that toxic glyphosate exists even in non-GE food, making it even harder, if not impossible, to avoid this company's pervasive toxic products.

Will the FDA Succumb to Its Biggest Anti-Science Blunder?

20 hours 52 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is planning to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance — a classification, many would argue, it should not have been given in the first place.

Marijuana is legal for medical use in 23 states and Washington D.C. and legal for recreational use in four states. Other states, such as Ohio, may soon follow suit.

In Ohio, polls show a majority of residents favor the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes and the Ohio House has introduced a bill that would do just that, potentially by summer.1

On a federal level, however, the herb is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance alongside other Schedule 1 drugs like heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote.

How Marijuana Became a Controlled Substance

Marijuana received this label in 1970 when the Controlled Substance Act was enacted. This act labeled marijuana as a drug with a "high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use" — the latter of which, in particular, is being increasingly disproven.

Since the beginning, marijuana prohibition has not been a matter of public health and safety but one of political purpose. According to Scientific American:2

"Marijuana was placed in Schedule I in 1971 provisionally, until the science could be assessed.

But Pres. Richard Nixon saw pot prohibition as a way to destroy the antiwar left, according to clandestine recordings made by Nixon in the White House as well as statements from his staff to the press.

… The Shafer Commission [formerly The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse] found in 1972 that cannabis was as safe as alcohol, and recommended ending prohibition in favor of a public health approach.

But by then the Federal Bureau of Narcotics had been removed from the Treasury Department and merged into the U.S. Department of Justice — where Nixon's ally, Attorney General John Mitchell, placed cannabis in Schedule I in 1972; that same year he resigned to head Nixon's re-election committee.

(He later stood trial in 1974 over the Watergate scandal and served 19 months of a prison sentence for conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice.)"

FDA Gave New Marijuana Rescheduling Recommendations to the DEA

The DEA uses advice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health and Human Services and others to decide on drug scheduling (although ultimately they may or may not side with that advice).

Both the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services have given the DEA new recommendations on rescheduling marijuana, but what those recommendations are is a mystery at this time. The FDA reportedly has concluded a review of the safety of medical marijuana.

Did the FDA finally acknowledge that classifying marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance is ludicrous?

Only time will tell, but by some estimates a decision may be made by summer 2016. Historian Martin Lee, author of "Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana," called marijuana's Schedule I classification a "national embarrassment." He told Scientific American:3

"It gives new meaning to the phrase, 'the big lie.' It's like saying, 'The moon is made of green cheese.' That this could remain until the present day is laughable only in that it keeps you from crying."

Follow the Science: Is Marijuana Medically Useful?

Russ Baer, staff coordinator in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at the DEA told Scientific American that the final decision on whether to reclassify a drug comes down to science. "That's the foundation of the argument. We're bound by that scientific and medical evaluation," he said.4

So let's take a look at what the science says regarding marijuana's medical usefulness. Marijuana was a popular botanical medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, common in U.S. pharmacies of the time (and its use can actually be dated back to 2700 BC5).

Today a wealth of research shows marijuana does have outstanding promise as a medicinal plant, largely due to its cannabidiol (CBD) content. Cannabinoids interact with your body by way of naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body.

There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system, and more. Both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor.

Research is still ongoing on just how extensive their impact is on our health, but to date it's known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth, and immune function.6

Some of the strongest research to date is focused on marijuana for pain relief and better sleep. In one study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.7

Americans for Safe Access also has links to research studies suggesting cannabis may help in the treatment or prevention of Alzheimer's disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.8

Does Marijuana Have a 'High Potential for Abuse?'

In 1944, the La Guardia Committee report from the New York Academy of Medicine found marijuana was not physically addictive, did not act as a gateway drug and did not lead to crime.9

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics dismissed the report and marijuana has been labeled as a gateway drug ever since. This is ironic since prescription painkillers — not marijuana — have been tagged as gateway drugs to heroin.

Oxycodone, fentanyl, and meperidine (Demerol), which are among the most commonly abused opioids and leading causes of opioid overdose deaths, are Schedule II drugs, meaning they should technically be less dangerous than marijuana, a Schedule I drug.

Meanwhile, until recently certain opioid prescription drugs such as Vicodin were classified as Schedule III substances, which are defined as "drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence." In reality, such drugs are among the most addictive and dangerous on the market.

In 2014, nearly 30,000 people died from heroin and opioid (also called narcotic prescription painkillers) overdoses.10 Meanwhile, one study found "little, if any effect of marijuana use on… mortality in men and… women."11

Adding even more credence to marijuana legalization, in states where medical marijuana is legal overdose deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone and heroin decreased by an average of 20 percent after one year, 25 percent after two years and up to 33 percent by years five and six.12

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommended DEA Reclassify Marijuana

In January 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their policy statement on marijuana, acknowledging that cannabinoids from marijuana "may currently be an option for … children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate."13

While frowning on recreational use, the AAP gave their "strong" support for research and development as well as a "review of policies promoting research on the medical use of these compounds."

They recommended downgrading marijuana from a schedule I drug to a schedule II drug in order to facilitate increased research. The fact is, research to date has been very promising, but there's still a lot we don't know.

A large part of why there are so many unanswered questions about marijuana's health potential is because it has been strictly controlled by the government, even when it comes to carefully controlled research.

Will the DEA Reclassify Marijuana?

This is not the first time the DEA has been petitioned to reschedule marijuana. In 1988, DEA administrative law judge Francis Young recommended unscheduling cannabis altogether in response to an activist-group petition. He ruled that "marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."14

The DEA denied the petition, along with a handful of others thereafter. Even when the Institute of Medicine acknowledged marijuana as a substance with medical uses and relatively low potential for abuse, the DEA again denied the resulting petitions, citing a lack of research — research that is being stymied by the nonsensical schedule I classification.

It is a remarkable shame, especially when medical marijuana has shown such promise for pain relief and conditions like epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation is among the growing number of groups that has called for increased medical marijuana access and research, which could be granted should the DEA finally reschedule the plant.

The fact that marijuana is just that — a plant — is another bone of contention with proponents of legalization. Rather than being rescheduled, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) believes that marijuana should be descheduled entirely. Jon Kennedy, board of directors spokesperson for North Carolina NORM, told the Daily Tarheel:15

"We believe it should just be treated as any other natural growing plant … The toxicity is very low compared to a lot of pharmaceutical drugs that are used on a regular basis."

Taxpayer Money Used to Promote Biotech Propaganda

20 hours 52 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

A few weeks ago I wrote about how when a now retired University of Illinois' professor named Bruce Chassy received money from the U.S. State Department to produce informational videos on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), he collaborated with Monsanto on the content.

Alternet also recently published an article detailing the conflicts of interest between Chassy and Monsanto, and how the professor spent years supporting Monsanto's agenda without disclosing his financial ties to the company.1

But if you think an "independent" public university professor taking government money to produce propaganda for a private company is bad, consider this:

The new spending bill2,3,4 actually calls for $3 million to be allocated for consumer education and outreach to "promote understanding and acceptance of" biotechnology.

Your Money Is Being Spent to Promote Industry Propaganda

That's right, not only are the government and the food and chemical technology industries fighting tooth and nail to prevent GMO labeling, your hard-earned tax dollars will also be spent on industry propaganda to "assure" you that genetically engineered (GE) foods are of no concern.

This joint effort by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an outrage.

Instead of safeguarding environmental and human health, these agencies are simply supporting and promoting the industry agenda, regardless of the cost to society. Indeed, as noted in another recent article, the USDA has come under increasing scrutiny following charges of harassment and censorship of its own scientists.

Vermont Lawmakers Uphold GMO Labeling Law

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its ally, the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, are also pressuring Vermont lawmakers to add a rider to the state's must-pass budget bill.

The rider would delay the deadline for compliance with the state's GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, pushing the deadline all the way back to January 1, 2018.

Clearly, this move has but one purpose, and that is to give these parties more time to convince Congress to implement federal regulations to preempt all state labeling laws, thereby preventing Vermont's law from ever taking effect. As noted by the Organic Consumers Association:

"Vermont voters and lawmakers overwhelmingly supported Act 120, a law to require GMO labels. The governor signed it into law May 8, 2014. Monsanto and the GMA promptly sued to overturn it, but so far, the courts have refused to block the law...

Monsanto and the GMA have failed to convince enough U.S. Senators to preempt Vermont's law. They've failed to get the votes they need for their DARK — Deny Americans the Right to Know — Act.

So they're coming in the back door, using the Vermont Senate appropriations process — to delay the law, and buy themselves more time...

Vermont lawmakers claim they can't hold up the state budget...just to protect the July 1 GMO labeling deadline. That's just wrong. Vermont voters have waited long enough...Food companies have had ample time to prepare GMO labels...

Vermont lawmakers owe it to their constituents to uphold Vermont's law and enforce it. Anything less is just pandering to big corporate interests."

Several Companies Have Already Announced They Will Comply With Vermont Labeling Law

Campbell's was the first company to announce it is ready to comply with the Vermont law and will begin labeling GMOs. Contrary to GMA scare tactic claims, the company also assured consumers the new label would not result in higher prices.5

Mars, Inc.6 Kellogg Company,7 ConAgra,8 and General Mills9 have since followed suit, announcing they too will comply by labeling all of their foods sold across the U.S. General Mills has also launched an online search tool10 to help you determine which of their products contain GMOs.

These companies are proof positive that the food industry does not need more time to comply, and that the Vermont law should go into effect as planned, without delay.

Food companies have had nearly two years to prepare for GMO labels, and the Vermont Attorney General has already announced that fines will not be levied against non-compliant companies until January 1, 2017.

That gives companies that are lagging behind a 6-month grace period to update their labels, during which time right of action suits cannot be filed against them. So truly, there's only one reason to push for a delay, and that's to get the law nullified by some other piece of legislation along the way.

Pro-GMO Senators in Weaker Position Than Ever Before

The Vermont labeling bill passed 28-2. Now, the senators who lost want to modify the bill before it goes into effect, threatening to open the bill up to a fight on the floor unless the deadline gets extended to 2018. But even if that would occur, they hardly stand a chance of winning.

This is because, they're actually in a weaker position today than when the bill was originally passed two years ago.

For starters, in March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is a Class 2A "probable human carcinogen."

This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with "convincing evidence" it can also cause cancer in animals.

We also know that glyphosate use has dramatically increased as a direct result of GE crops, and that alone is a significant health concern that cannot be overlooked when discussing GMOs and GMO labeling.  

Glyphosate Toxicity Is an Important Part of the GMO Labeling Discussion

Before GE crops, glyphosate was used sparingly, as it kills any plant it touches. This meant farmers could not apply it near their crops, lest they risk killing off their crops as well. It was only used where farmers wanted to kill all vegetation, such as between the rows in orchards or in industrial yards.

This all changed in 1996, when Monsanto's so-called "Roundup Ready," GE glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced.

Since these crops are impervious to glyphosate's toxic effects, farmers can spray the chemical onto their crops with abandon. And due to mounting weed resistance, that's exactly what they've had to do. Since 1996, glyphosate use has risen nearly 15-fold.11

Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974, 1.8 million tons have been applied to U.S. fields, and two-thirds of that volume has been sprayed in the last 10 years.

Monsanto has also successfully promoted the use of Roundup on non-GE crops as a desiccant.12 Basically, the chemical is sprayed on crops right before harvesting to dry out the crop and allow farmers to harvest earlier — a technique that results in a higher profits as earlier harvest yields higher prices.

Contrary to the U.S., the EU Parliament is calling on the Commission to severely restrict the permitted usage of glyphosate, and to ban pre-harvest dessication in order to protect human health.13

Glyphosate use is in fact so excessive at this point that even organic farms are now plagued by glyphosate residues in their produce, even though it's not actually sprayed on their farms. It drifts over from other farms.

In Vermont, herbicide use on corn increased by 39 percent since the advent of GE corn. Nitrogen fertilizer use has also increased by 17 percent. Moreover, nearly all — 99.4 percent to be exact — of the chemicals used on GE corn grown in Vermont are suspected hormone disruptors, capable of promoting cancer and birth defects.

All of these facts have a bearing on the GMO discussion, and add weight to the call for clear labeling. Vermont is the first state to pass a no-strings-attached GMO labeling law, and it needs to be implemented as planned.

Farm Subsidies Only Make the Rich Richer

While millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent to convince you of the merits of GMOs — which also means they're promoting processed foods, since that's where the majority of GE crops end up — little is being done to promote the growing of healthier foods like fresh fruits and vegetables on small farms.

A recent report14 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) points out that no less than 50 American billionaires received at least $6.3 million in commodity support payments from farm bill programs between 1995 and 2014. Among them are David Rockefeller Sr., Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Charles Schwab. According to the EWG:

"[T]hese fat cats likely received even more subsidies through the federal crop insurance program ... On average, taxpayers cover 62 percent of the cost of crop insurance premiums ...

Of the 50 billionaires, 46 grow corn, soybeans, sorghum, cotton, rice and barley — commodities that are eligible for both traditional farm subsidies and crop insurance subsidies. Only two of the billionaires exclusively raise livestock, which aren't eligible for subsidies but qualify for disaster assistance ..."

In short, your tax dollars are spent to promote a dietary trend that leads to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and now they will spend another $3 million to further the completely biased and scientifically unsupported idea that GMOs are safe and beneficial. Talk about misappropriation of funds! So what can you do? The greatest leverage we have as individuals is to vote for the system we want with every purchase.

Boycott GMA Members

For the past three years, there's been an ongoing call to boycott GMA members  until they cancel their membership, and if you haven't done so before, I urge you to consider getting serious about boycotting these traitor brands now.

The GMA has led the industry charge to undermine your right to know about GMOs, and they've even resorted to illegal measures to keep you in the dark. So really, by being members of the GMA, they are affiliated with a criminal element that destroys their reputation and severely undermines their integrity.

Boycott the GMA Today! #Organic #Healthy via @mercola

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has created a smart phone application called Buycott, which has already been downloaded by almost half a million people, to step up the boycott against GMA member brands.

The app also helps you determine ethical brands that deserve your patronage. If you don't have a smartphone, or if you don't want to use your smart phone in the grocery store, it's even simpler. Don't buy any processed food or beverage, or any food whatsoever unless it has one or more of these labels:

  • "USDA 100 percent Organic"
  • "100 percent grass-fed"
  • "Non-GMO Verified"
North Carolina Law Silences ALL Whistleblowers

The food and agricultural industries have created a trend that now severely threatens human health, which is ironic considering food is the most important cornerstone for a healthy life. Everywhere you turn these industries are lobbying for more relaxed safety regulations that will allow them to conduct business in pretty much any which way they want.

In addition to fighting against GMO labeling and stricter controls on toxic agricultural chemicals, pushing for so called "ag-gag" laws, which ban undercover recordings on farms, is another example.

Oftentimes, such tactics are the only way to reveal the worst offenders, which benefits society at large. Now, North Carolina has taken matters a giant step further. As of January 1, 2016, no one is allowed to tape malfeasance or wrong-doing anywhere, at any workplace, including nursing homes, day care centers, and veteran care facilities. As reported by The New York Times:15

"Anyone who violates the law — say, by secretly taping abuses of elderly patients or farm animals and then sharing the recording with the media or an advocacy group — can be sued by business owners for bad publicity and be required to pay a fine of $5,000 for each day that person is gathering information or recording without authorization.

The law originally singled out factory-farm exposés, but after it twice failed to pass in the face of resistance from animal-rights activists, lawmakers succeeded in pushing through a version that covered everyone equally. Gov. Pat McCrory, who said he was concerned the law would make it harder for employees to report illegal activity, vetoed the measure, but the state's legislature, the General Assembly, overrode the veto last June."

The only way whistleblowers can expose abuses at the workplace is by reporting it directly to a superior and/or state authority. Alas, such reporting rarely if ever actually becomes public knowledge, and that's exactly what the law aims to achieve. "As one of its sponsors told a Senate committee last year, the whole point is to stop people who would go 'running out to a news outlet,'" NYT writes.

Fight for Your Right to Know

A coalition of organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Center for Food Safety, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, and the Government Accountability Project, have argued that this North Carolina law is a clear violation of the constitutional freedoms of speech and the press. They filed a federal lawsuit16 to have the law overturned in January, shortly after its passing. As noted by The New York Times:

"They have precedent to back them up, in the form of a decision by a federal judge last August that struck down an ag-gag law in Idaho on free-speech grounds, the first such ruling in the country. Activists who pose as employees to gain access to farming operations, the judge wrote, 'actually advance core First Amendment values by exposing misconduct to the public eye and facilitating dialogue on issues of considerable public interest.'"

Indeed, people rely on activists and responsible journalists to expose abuse and misconduct, regardless of who's doing it, or where it occurs. How else are we to be made aware of these problems? We also rely on journalists and experts to truthfully and accurately relay information that is of importance to our health and well-being. This absolutely includes GMOs and other agricultural practices. Yet again and again, we see how the media is being manipulated to parrot industry PR.

"The secrecy promoted by ag-gag laws should have no place in American society," The New York Times writes. And I would say that secrecy about food — its ingredients and how it's made — has no place in American society either. Any responsible company should welcome third-party scrutiny, to affirm the quality and benefits of its products.

The fact that so many food companies are spending millions of dollars to prevent consumers from knowing whether a product contains GMOs or not is a clear sign they know they're selling something inherently questionable.

They know, or at least suspect, that their ingredients do not meet consumer expectations. There's really no other reason to go so far as to break laws and violate human and constitutional freedoms to prevent people from knowing what their food is made of! If you agree, then do something about it — boycott the traitor brands. No amount of complaining will be as effective as vanishing sales to encourage a company to do the right thing.

As for what you can do right this moment, please remember to call Vermont lawmakers TODAY — even if you don't live there. The two numbers you can use are: 802-828-2228 and 1-800-322-5616. Tell them to NOT make any amendments to Vermont's GMO labeling law, because consumers in all 50 states are counting on them to protect our right to know.

Why You Need to Eat More Vegetables

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Low in calories, high in fiber, and with almost all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, vegetables are a nutritional cornerstone. While many think vegetables equate to a few leaves of lettuce and some tomatoes, there's a wide variety of veggies available, and you can use them in a number of different ways.

In addition to eating them raw in a salad, many can be lightly steamed or cooked, and you can boost your consumption by juicing them, or add them to stews and soups. Homegrown sprouts and fermented vegetables are other options that can significantly improve your diet.

Fermenting is one of the best ways to turn ordinary vegetables into superfoods. The culturing process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important for health as they help balance your intestinal flora, thereby boosting overall immunity.

Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators and detox agents available, meaning they can help rid your body of a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals.

Since most veggies aren't very calorie-dense, they should ideally constitute the bulk of your diet by volume. Tragically, very few actually get a healthy amount of veggies in their diet. As noted by Time magazine,1 vegetable consumption has actually declined over the past five years.

"About half of the total U.S. population eats less than 1.5 cups of vegetables a day. And a whopping 87 percent don't reach the recommended minimum goal of 2 to 3 cups a day."

More Reasons to Eat Vegetables

If you are in the majority who's skimping on veggies, you're really missing out on major health benefits, including the following:2

Healthy glowing skin

Courtesy of their higher water and phytochemical content, vegetables help produce that healthy "glow."

As noted in the featured article, a "study3 from St. Andrews University concluded that people who ate three additional daily portions of produce for six weeks were ranked as better looking than those with lower intakes."

The cause for this improvement? The carotenoids pigments that give vegetables their red and orange colors also improve the color of your skin, rendering it more rosy and glowing.

Many vegetables are also known for their anti-aging benefits, helping firm your skin and combat wrinkles.

Weight management

Low in net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) and high in fiber, eating plenty of vegetables can help you lose and manage your weight in more ways than one.

Simply cutting net carbs and increasing your fiber intake may actually help you achieve results rivaling more complicated diets.

Previous research has demonstrated that fiber has appetite-suppressant qualities that helps you feel more satiated, thereby preventing unhealthy snacking.

Fiber also helps improve metabolic markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar; helps protect your heart and cardiovascular health, and appears to reduce mortality from all causes.

Improves gut health and keeps you "regular"

Constipation is one of the most common bowel problems, impacting nearly 1 in 5 Americans at any given time.

It's uncomfortable, and can cause bloating and painful cramps.

The fiber and water in vegetables can help prevent this scenario, and promotes optimal gut health in general by nourishing beneficial gut bacteria.

Athletic performance and recovery

Nutrition is imperative for athletic performance. Specific veggies shown to boost endurance and speed up recovery include beetroot juice, tomato juice, and watercress.

As reported in the featured article, one study "found that drinking 16 ounces of organic beetroot juice daily for six days helped men cycle up to 16 percent longer than they did with a placebo beverage.4

Meanwhile 100 percent tomato juice has been found to reduce exercise-induced stress on the body by as much as 84 percent."5

Improves energy, mood, and psychological well-being

Vegetables help boost energy levels, especially if you cut out net carbs and processed foods at the same time.

Juicing tends to be particularly potent and quick-acting in this regard.

Recent research shows higher vegetable intake can also help you feel calmer and improves your mental well-being.6

Eating fruits and vegetables was also related to greater self-reported curiosity and creativity — traits associated with happiness.7

Reduces risk for chronic disease

Vegetables help reduce your risk for many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

In one recent study, eating just over one extra serving of leafy greens a day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent.8

Part of this benefit is due to the fiber content.

The fiber in vegetables is broken down into health-promoting short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by your gut bacteria, and SCFAs have been shown to lessen your risk of inflammatory diseases.9

Boosts healthy immune function

Researchers have discovered10 that a gene called T-bet — which is essential for producing critical immune cells in your gut — is activated by leafy green vegetables.

These immune cells, called Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), reside in the lining of your digestive tract, and ILCs are thought to be essential for:11

  • Maintaining balance between tolerance, immunity and inflammation in your body
  • Producing interleukin-22 (IL-22), a hormone that can protect your body from pathogenic bacteria
  • Maintaining healthy intestinal balance by promoting growth of beneficial bacteria and healing small wounds and abrasions in the gut
  • Helping resolve cancerous lesions and prevent the development of bowel cancers
  • Preventing food allergies, inflammatory diseases, and obesity
The Health Benefits of Purple Foods

Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else. Plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells, and maintain DNA integrity. Many of the benefits associated with vegetables are due to the natural pigments in the food.

While it's advisable to eat all the "colors of the rainbow," purple foods tend to stand out above the crowd, courtesy of their potent antioxidants called anthocyanins.12 Research has linked anthocyanins to a reduced risk for a number of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological dysfunction and decline.

They also help prevent obesity and diabetes, in part by inhibiting certain enzymes in your digestive tract, and by supporting healthy blood sugar control. They also have potent anti-inflammatory effects, which helps explain their protective effects against chronic disease. Deep red and blue foods — including all berries and cherries — are also loaded with beneficial antioxidants. Vegetables high in anthocyanins include:

  • Red onions
  • Purple cabbage
  • Beets
  • Eggplant
Cruciferous Veggies Are an Important Part of an Anti-Cancer Diet

Vegetables are also a key component if you want to reduce your risk of cancer.13,14 Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, appear to be particularly important, and have been repeatedly shown to help prevent certain cancers by inhibiting cancer cell growth and promoting apoptosis (cell death). According to Olga Azarenko, a scientist at the UC Santa Barbara laboratories, whose research shows how the healing power of these vegetables works at the cellular level:15

"Breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, can be protected against by eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and near relatives of cabbage such as broccoli and cauliflower. These vegetables contain compounds called isothiocyanates which we believe to be responsible for the cancer-preventive and anti-carcinogenic activities in these vegetables."

Broccoli, and even more so broccoli sprouts, contain the highest amounts of isothiocyanates. Other vegetables containing isothiocyanates include the following:

✓ Brussel sprouts

✓ Cauliflower

✓ Cabbage

✓ Arugula

✓ Watercress

✓ Horseradish

The isothiocyanates in these vegetables sparks hundreds of genetic changes, activating some genes that fight cancer and switch off others that fuel tumors.16 According to one recent study,17 "research suggests that cruciferous vegetables are not only an important source of nutrients, but perhaps a key to eliminating cancer as life threatening disease." Besides breast cancer, studies have confirmed the protective benefits of these vegetables for other types of cancer as well, such as:

  • Bladder cancer – Researchers found that the higher the intake of cruciferous vegetables, the lower the risk of bladder cancer in men by as much as 50 percent18
  • Lung cancer – Researchers found that men with detectable amounts of isothiocyanates in their bodies had a 36 percent lower chance of developing lung cancer over 10 years19
  • Prostate cancer – Just a few additional portions of broccoli each week was found to protect men from prostate cancer20
  • Liver cancer — Recent research suggests eating broccoli three to five times per week can lower your risk of liver cancer, and help prevent the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)21,22,23
The 'Trick' to Maximizing Sulforaphane in Your Broccoli

One naturally occurring isothiocyanate known for its potent anti-cancer activity is sulforaphane, which is formed when you chop or chew broccoli (this combines its precursor glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase). Once swallowed, gut bacteria help release some of broccoli's sulforaphane so your body can benefit, but it's a tricky proposition because sulforaphane is attached to a sugar molecule with a sulfur bond.

In order for the sulforaphane to be released, an enzyme in the broccoli breaks off the sugar to release it. However, the sulforaphane can be easily inactivated by a sulfur-grabbing protein.

Researchers have found that one of the best ways to maximize sulforaphane your body can use is to heat the broccoli for 10 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (or steam it lightly for three to four minutes until it's tough-tender).24 This was just enough heat to kill the epithiospecifier protein, which attaches to the sulfur and greatly depletes the amount of bioavailable sulforaphane.

Another option is to eat broccoli sprouts. Fresh broccoli sprouts are FAR more potent than whole broccoli, allowing you to eat far less in terms of quantity. Tests have revealed that 3-day-old broccoli sprouts consistently contain anywhere from 10 to 100 times the amount of glucoraphanin – the precursor to sulforaphane – found in mature broccoli.25

Luteolin — Another Important Anti-Cancer Compound

Luteolin is another important anti-inflammatory plant compound found in certain vegetables, including celery, peppers, and carrots. It's previously been linked with lower rates of age-related memory loss in mice,26 but more recently, researchers discovered it may also slow the development of breast cancer27,28 – particularly cancer caused by hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

According to the researchers, benign lesions in breast tissues may turn into tumors if they receive a "trigger" such as progestin, which attracts blood vessels and "feeds" the lesions, allowing them to expand. When this occurs, the breast cancer cells "take on stem cell-like properties, which can make them harder to kill," the study's lead researcher stated.

However, when breast cancer cells were exposed to luteolin in the lab, their viability markedly decreased. Not only did the blood vessels feeding the cells significantly decline, but their "stem cell-like properties" were also reduced, resulting in an anti-tumor effect. The researchers then tested luteolin on mice with breast cancer and similar benefits were observed.

Sprouts, a Living Food With Amazing Health Benefits

If you struggle getting enough vegetables into your diet, try juicing, and add sprouts. Sprouts are exceptionally packed with nutrients, including antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes that protect against free radical damage, so in terms of volume you can get away with eating far less.

The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids increase dramatically during the sprouting process. Sunflower seed and pea sprouts tend to top the list of all the seeds that you can sprout and are typically each about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables you can even harvest in your backyard garden.

The quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds and grains also improve when sprouted because minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable. Sprouts can also contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from other foods.

Sprouts support healthy cell regeneration, and have an alkalinizing effect on your body that is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic). Abundantly rich in oxygen, sprouts also help protect against viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment.

Sprouts are the ultimate locally-grown food, and can easily be grown in your own kitchen, so you know exactly what you're eating. Another boon is their low cost. Sprouts-as-medicine.com29 is a good source for things relating to sprouts: their health benefits, recipes, and how to grow your own.

The British verticalveg.org30 is another. The latter gives helpful growing tips for each month of the year. One of the benefits of sprouts is that you can grow them year-round, even when it's cold and dark. The article 6 Easy Steps to Sprout Heaven31 teaches you how to grow your own sprouts, from start to finish. Some of the most commonly sprouted beans, nuts, seeds and grains include:

Broccoli: known to have anti-cancer properties, courtesy of the enzyme "sulforaphane"

Alfalfa: a significant dietry source of phytoestrogens. Also a good source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K

Wheat grass: high in Vitamins B, C, E and many minerals

Mung bean: good source of protein, fiber, vitamin C and A

Clover: significant source of isoflavones

Lentil sprouts: contain 26 percent protein, and can be eaten without cooking

Sunflower: contains, minerals, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fiber, and phytosterols. It's also one of the highest in protein

Pea shoots: good source of vitamins A, C and folic acid and one of the highest in protein

My Most Recommended Vegetables List

My recommended list of vegetables (below) provides a guide to the most nutritious vegetables, and those to limit due to their high carbohydrate content (think: starch is "hidden sugar"). Organic and locally grown vegetables are ideal for maximizing nutrition, limiting pesticide exposure, and increasing freshness. Avoid wilted vegetables, as they lose much of their nutritional value once they wilt.

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Again, juicing is a great way to boost your vegetable intake. When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without having to be broken down.

Highly Recommended Vegetables

✓ Asparagus

✓ Escarole

✓ Avocado, very high in healthy monounsaturated fat

✓ Fennel

Beet greens

✓ Green and red cabbage

✓ Bok choy

✓ Kale

✓ Broccoli

✓ Endive

✓ Brussels sprouts

✓ Lettuce: romaine, red leaf, green leaf

✓ Cauliflower

✓ Mustard greens

✓ Celery

✓ Onions

✓ Chicory

✓ Parsley

✓ Chinese cabbage

✓ Peppers: red, green, yellow and hot

✓ Chives

✓ Tomatoes

Collard greens

✓ Turnips

✓ Cucumbers

✓ Spinach

✓ Dandelion greens

✓ Zucchini

Use sparingly due to high carbohydrate levels

✓ Beets

Jicama

✓ Carrots

✓ Winter squashes

✓ Eggplant


Vegetables to Avoid

✓ Potatoes

✓ Corn

Full-Fat Dairy Linked to Lower Risk for Diabetes

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The number of people with type 2 diabetes equals 9.3 percent of the population of the U.S. or 29 million people.1 This is an increase from the 2010 estimate of 26 million people. Another 86 million people have pre-diabetes, where their blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

If those with pre-diabetes do not make changes to their diet and exercise habits, between 15 percent and 30 percent will develop diabetes within the next five years. These numbers are overwhelming when you consider the complications related to diabetes have an impact on the individual, the family and the workforce.

Diabetes is a serious health condition with serious complications. Without consistent blood sugar control, excess glucose in your blood causes damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, gums, teeth and neurological system.

Adults with diabetes experience greater risk for these conditions as reported by the American Diabetes Association using data from 2008 to 2012: 2

✓ 71 percent of individuals with diabetes were diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure

✓ 65 percent of people with diabetes were diagnosed with high cholesterol levels

✓ Death from heart disease was 1.7 times greater than those without diabetes

✓ Hospitalization for heart attack was 1.8 percent higher than those without diabetes

✓ 28.5 percent of people over 40 years are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy (eye disease) that may result in loss of vision

✓ 44 percent of all new cases of kidney failure is attributed to diabetes

Study Links Full-Fat Dairy to Lower Risk of Diabetes

The advice to eat low-fat foods and dairy products originated as far back as the late 1950s and early 1960s. A single research study performed by an economist proposed that high-fat diets were the cause of most heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol levels.3

Before that study, and since, other well-designed and peer-reviewed studies have refuted that evidence.

The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association continue to advocate the use of a low-fat diet with fat-free or low-fat dairy products.4,5,6

However, a recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation recommends something entirely different.7

Beginning in 1989 and continuing for the next two decades, researchers followed over 3,000 participants in a study linking full-fat dairy products with a reduced risk of diabetes and better weight-management outcomes.8

Researchers confirmed the health of the study participants using blood tests, questionnaires and current medications. Initially all participants were free of diabetes or pre-diabetes blood markers.

Researchers confirmed in two separate groups a reduced risk for developing diabetes when the participants consumed full-fat dairy products.

This study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between full-fat dairy and a reduced risk of diabetes, but it does build on other studies that suggest full-fat dairy products can help maintain weight and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Saturated Fats Linked to Better Health

Soon after the initial flawed research encouraging low-fat diets was published in the 1950s, President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while in office. His doctors placed him on a very restricted low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.

When he first had his heart attack his cholesterol was 165 and by the time he left office it had risen to 259.9

President Lyndon Johnson also suffered a heart attack, was placed on a low-fat diet and continued to suffer from ill health. Only after beginning to eat beef grown on his ranch did President Johnson's cholesterol begin to normalize and his heart health improve.

Research study after study has continued to confirm what your body inherently knows to be true: saturated fats are not the evil foods they were once advertised to be.

Studies demonstrate that eating a diet high in healthy fats and low in non-vegetable carbs improves insulin sensitivity and fasting blood glucose,10 leads to better stabilization of A1C blood test in individuals who had diabetes,11 and, in one study, also showed a reduction or elimination of medication to treat diabetes in 90 percent of the participants.12

Those are the benefits of eating healthy saturated fats for people with diabetes. Other benefits include a reduction in appetite resulting in eating less and an easier time maintaining your weight.13

A great proportion of that weight loss is from visceral fat found in your abdominal cavity.14 Visceral fat increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and dementia.

Diets higher in healthy saturated fats have demonstrated an increase in high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, protecting the heart and blood vessels.15 16,17

How Dairy Can Contribute to Your Diet

It is important to note that you can get healthy saturated fats from a variety of sources, full-fat dairy products being one of them. However, it is also important to know that not all dairy products are created equally.

In the past, cows were raised on a farm and milked each morning and evening for the family's meals. As more people sold their farms and moved into the cities, they brought their cows. The cows were housed in local distilleries built to make rum after an embargo on the import of Jamaican Rum.

Fed the by-product of grains from the manufacture of rum, the natural bacterial growth in the milk changed. The reduced quality of the milk was compounded by the dirty conditions in which the cows were kept and milked.

This was a time in history when typhoid was a common infection and the basic understanding of germs was still decades away, discovered by Louis Pasteur between 1860 and 1864.

It wasn't until the early 1890s when Dr. Henry Coit was able to form the Medical Milk Commission that mandated the conditions under which milk was produced, called certified raw milk. This happened two years after the death of his son from contaminated milk.

At around the same time, Nathan Straus, who also lost a child to contaminated milk, lobbied hard for the pasteurization of milk products. Nathan Straus was a co-owner of R.H. Macy (later just Macy's Department Stores) and Abraham & Straus.

He used his considerable influence and financial backing to subsidize the first of many depots where families could purchase low-cost pasteurized milk.

Problems With CAFO Milk

Today, most milk is produced in large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where the animals don't receive sunlight, are fed genetically modified grains and soy products and stand in each other's excrement. To stop as much infection from these conditions as possible, the animals are given antibiotics.

They are also given steroids to boost their milk production. Drinking milk produced under these conditions would be dangerous and, therefore, the milk must be pasteurized in order to be safe for consumption. Unfortunately, the process of pasteurization kills most of the healthy enzymes and nutrients.

The second ingredient in milk that's purposefully removed is the butterfat, producing skim milk. Without butterfat your body can't absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

The butterfat is also the best source of preformed vitamin A. Manufacturers add a synthetic form of vitamin D to replace the vitamin D that is removed with butterfat. Although pasteurization was initiated to reduce the number of infections and illnesses from contaminated milk, the ability to produce clean milk using better techniques now allows most countries in Europe to dispense raw milk in vending machines.

Differences Between Raw and Pasteurized Milk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Agriculture Department are adamant that raw milk will increase your risk of death and disease, but Europe is not experiencing this issue. In fact, research by Dr. Ted Beals found you are actually 35,000 times more likely to get sick from any other food than raw milk.18

Here's another way of looking at the difference between raw milk and pasteurized products. The pasteurized product is heat treated to kill bacteria that is in the milk because of the conditions in which the cows live. So you are drinking milk loaded with dead bacteria. Although killed, the protein molecules of the bacteria are not removed.

Your body recognizes the foreign proteins and it increases the likelihood you'll suffer from allergic response as your body prepares to fight. On the other hand, raw unpasteurized milk produced under clean conditions from grass-fed cows contains whey protein that stabilizes those same fighting cells in your body and reduces the allergic effect that some people experience.

How to Increase Healthy Fats in Your Diet Plan

The message from the research is to increase the amount of healthy, saturated fats in your diet every day. Reduce the amount of non-vegetable carbohydrates each day and replace those with highly nutritious and always delicious foods higher in saturated fats.

Saturated fats, such as organic butter from grass-fed cows, virgin coconut oil and raw whole milk, provide your body and brain with the nutrients needed for optimal health. They do not make you fat or increase your cholesterol levels. On the contrary, they help improve your cardiovascular health, reduce your appetite, help you maintain your weight and improve your insulin sensitivity.

In fact, your body cannot function optimally without saturated fats. These molecules are essential in the formation of cell membranes and as food for your brain. They also support your immune system and play an important role in the production and function of your hormones. Some examples of foods high in healthy fats include:

Avocados

✓ Organic, grass-fed meat

✓ Raw, grass-fed dairy products

✓ Raw nuts such as almonds, pecans and seeds.

✓ Olives and Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

✓ Palm Oil

✓ Unheated organic nut oils

✓ Dark Chocolate

The real dietary villains are carbohydrates such as sugars, grains and fructose. Once metabolized in your body they may increase your triglycerides, inflammatory response and the amount of fat your body produces. Choosing these substances has led to rising numbers of people suffering from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Should You Drink Milk?

Truth be told, many people should not consume dairy whether it is raw or pasteurized, as they are allergic to the milk proteins. Additionally, if you're insulin resistant, you would likely be better off avoiding raw and pasteurized milk, as it contains the dairy sugar lactose, which can worsen insulin/leptin resistance.

However, if you are healthy and want to drink milk, raw milk from a high-quality source is generally superior in nutrition and flavor. It will also help to decrease the likelihood of insulin spikes from the milk sugar, courtesy of the thick layer of cream on top.

The Wonders of Watercress

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Having a salad with dinner — or as dinner — is a standard practice for many. While you may already enjoy incorporating fresh raw veggies into your meals, and relish the healthy, tasty crunch of greens and a variety of selected toppers, have you considered succulent watercress as a possible salad option?

Watercress is closely related to mustard greens, cabbage and arugula, aka "rocket," which you may have noticed present varying degrees of zing to your taste buds.

As if recognizing a rivalry, watercress outdoes all three of its cousins to impart the triple threat of pleasing, peppery flavor, delicate leaves and crispy stems for satisfying texture, and extraordinary nutrition.

Another perk regarding this rather surprising salad bar component is that it plays well with other greens, such as dark, leafy spinach or hearty stalks of romaine. However, it's been said to be scarce on grocery store produce aisles, especially in the Midwest.

That, no doubt, is due to the fact that watercress grows best in clean, slow-moving water (although it does grow in wet dirt, the result will be spicier).

Note that because watercress may have been in contact with not-so-clean water, as well, it's important to soak it in a solution of clean water mixed with a capful or two of hydrogen peroxide to get rid of impurities.

Watercress in History, as a Healing Herb as Well as a Food

As early as 400 BC, Hippocrates understood the significant herbal benefits of watercress. In fact, he established the first hospital on the island of Kos in close proximity to a stream where fresh watercress grew in proliferation at the ready for his patients. 

Nasturtium officianale (watercress) is thought to have originated in Europe, specifically Russia, before spreading to Northern Africa and to the New World. It arrived in the U.S. with European immigrants, who may have known enough to use it for its high vitamin C content, in lieu of lemons or limes, to avoid getting scurvy.

Evidence indicates the early Greeks and Romans valued watercress for its ability to improve brain function. Europeans in the Middle Ages made a salve from it to treat for sword wounds.

People in the U.S. began consuming watercress as a food source in recent years, while other areas of the world, such as Australia, have benefited from its healing benefits for centuries. According to a website belonging to Herb Cottage in Mudgeeraba, Australia:

" … Watercress soup in Asian cuisine is seen as beneficial for mouth health, protecting against gingivitis, ulcers, swollen gums and general health. Watercress is also viewed as being useful in the recovery period after illness, or colds and flu due to the high vitamin and mineral content.

Watercress has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-pyretic, is a potent diuretic, benefits arthritis sufferers, helps dermatitis and eczema, and has expectorant qualities to help respiratory illness."1

Besides the Taste, What Makes Eating Watercress Worthwhile?

Scientific evidence indicates that watercress contains more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, it imparts more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than oranges.

A list2 of the medicinal properties of plants and their remedies, including watercress, reveals a number of traditional healing advantages to eating this delicate, green, natural vitamin:

✓ Respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis

✓ Cuts and puncture wounds

✓ Boils and abscesses

✓ Vitamin deficiencies

✓ Coughs

✓ Colds

✓ Gallstones

✓ Metabolic diseases

✓ Liver disease

✓ Fluid retention

✓ Anorexia

✓ Mouth ulcers

✓ Diabetes

✓ Obesity

 

An epic study at a New Jersey university reviewed a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables to determine their nutritional value for classification purposes, but also their ability to reduce chronic disease such as cancer.

These foods were referred to as "PFV" — aka "powerhouse fruits and vegetables" — based on the content of each in regard to 17 nutrients deemed to be most important. Those nutrients were: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.3

Regarding that last one, watercress brings an astonishing 106 percent of the vitamin K you need in a single day. What that means for you is that if you have any tendency toward developing cardiovascular disease, eating this veggie can go a long way toward preventing it.

Even if you already suffer from this illness, consuming healthy amounts of watercress can reverse some of the damage.

Watercress as a Cancer Fighter?

Incidentally, it's always best to get the benefits of these vitamins by eating the foods that contain it, rather than opting for supplements that are a far cry from actual live, vibrant nutrients.

Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are also crucifers, which are well known in the scientific community as cancer killers; scientists surmised the same abilities may be present in watercress, as well.

Those benefits were found to be linked with the fact that increased carotenoid concentration intensifies the body's protection against DNA damage, as well as the concentration of antioxidants in your blood.4

Read on for more clinical studies revealing many of the nutritional aspects of watercress and what those vitamins and minerals do for the body.

Studies on Watercress Show It Prevents and Improves Heart Disease and Cancer

The aforementioned peppery flavor is explained in the go-to herb and spice "bible," aptly called "Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World,"5 as due to the mustard oil glycoside content, called gluconasturtiin.

For what it's worth, the spicy zest of watercress results when the leaves are crushed (or chewed); the glycoside mingles with the enzyme myrosinase, and two hydrolysis products, hydrocinnamonitril and phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), are formed.

More evidence proving that watercress (as well as broccoli) contain powerful ingredients in relation to fighting cancer, still another study showed how elements in isothiocyanate essentially deactivate the damaging effects of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase-9, which can diffuse the body's natural ability to fight off the proliferation of cancerous tumors.

The same study exhibited these vegetables' power to fight off a particularly deadly type of breast cancer.6

Another article revealed that individuals who consume these compounds can expect the natural benefits of decreased risk of breast, lung, colorectal, head and neck, and prostate cancers.7

Further, the stages of cancer proliferation, namely initiation, proliferation, and metastasis (invasion) were examined in another review to see what effects were produced by watercress extracts.

Researchers reported that they proved to be "significantly protective against the three stages of the carcinogenesis process investigated."8 Watercress is actually noted for its ability to detoxify:

"A phase II clinical trial demonstrated and presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) showed that watercress extract taken multiple times a day can significantly inhibit cancer.

The trial specifically showed that the extract detoxifies environmental carcinogens and toxicants found in cigarette smoke, and that the effect is stronger in people who lack certain genes involved in processing carcinogens."9

More Studies Prove How Powerful Watercress Is Against Illness and Disease

A Medical News Today article10 cited a few more incredible uses for this leafy green:

"In a study conducted at Georgetown University, rats were given a lethal dose of radiation. Some were left untreated, and others were treated with a daily injection of DIM daily for two weeks. All the untreated rats died, but over 50 percent of those receiving the DIM remained alive at the 30-day mark.

The same researchers did the experiment on mice and found similar results. They were able to determine that the DIM-treated mice had higher counts or red and white blood cells and blood platelets, which radiation therapy often diminishes.

Watercress contains the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes. Studies on alpha-lipoic acid have also shown decreases in peripheral neuropathy or autonomic neuropathy in diabetics.

Of note, most studies have used intravenous alpha-lipoic acid, there is uncertainty whether oral supplementation would elicit the same benefits."

Additional research reveals that eating watercress is also effective against thyroid dysfunction and osteoporosis, and can be extremely beneficial for pregnant mothers, people wanting to prevent cognitive decline, protect their eyesight and prevent stroke.11

Mediterranean Chicken With Zucchini Noodles Recipe

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 02:00
Submitted by Stella
The usual fried or grilled chicken recipes can be boring sometimes, especially if you use the same ingredients over and over. No need to worry – here’s a new recipe you can try. This hearty Mediterranean-inspired recipe from Mercola.com reader Stella pairs chicken with a wholesome, no-grain side dish: zucchini noodles. Try it for lunch or dinner – you won’t be disappointed!  

Mediterranean Chicken
Ingredients:
4 boneless and skinless organic chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Procedure:

1.    Coat chicken with the rest of the ingredients and bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes (or until done).
2.    To keep chicken moist, put it in a roaster and add a small amount of homemade chicken broth or water to cover the bottom. You may also add a bay leaf in the broth or water for extra flavor.
Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles
Ingredients:
4 to 6 zucchinis, spiralized
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, or more if preferred
8 to 12 Tbsp. basil pesto (approx. 2 TBSP for each zucchini)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup raw sheep or goat feta cheese

Procedure:
1.    Sauté zucchini in coconut oil over medium heat until noodles are translucent or flexible. Transfer to a bowl.
2.    While pan is still hot, heat tomatoes for about 30 seconds, ideally flat side down. Add to bowl of zucchini.
3.    Toss contents of bowl with basil pesto, and toss in cheese.

Delight in the Flavors of the Mediterranean With This Fantastic Chicken-Zucchini Combo

Chicken is an excellent source of protein, since it contains all the eight essential amino acids that are crucial for building, maintaining, and repairing important body tissues, such as your muscles, skin, and internal organs. It also contains selenium, phosphorus, choline, and B vitamins.

Note that the recipe specifically calls for organic chicken, as that is the only type of chicken I would recommend eating. Most conventional chicken today comes from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which are linked to antibiotic resistant illnesses and foodborne infections like salmonella. Ideally, look for a farmer that sells true organic, pasture-raised chickens that are allowed to forage freely and eat their natural diet of worms, seeds, and insects.

Make sure to follow safe handling instructions for chicken. Avoid using the same cutting board for meat and vegetables (such as when cooking this recipe), and designate separate cutting boards for these two types of foods instead. Cook the chicken thoroughly to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria (The problem with cooking chicken thoroughly is it becomes very dry, which is why Stella’s recommendation to soak the chicken in homemade broth or water after cooking is an excellent technique).

Zucchini noodles make a truly delicious companion to the chicken, not only for its flavor but also its impressive nutritional content. It’s high in fiber and potassium, rich in antioxidants (namely lutein, carotene, and zeaxanthin), yet low in calories. Remember to include the skin when making the noodles, since this is where you’ll find most of the nutrients.

Even the basil pesto sauce, which blends well with zucchini’s mild flavor, is also chockfull of nutrients. Basil is known as one of the healthiest herbs, and is loaded with vitamin K, A, and C,
iron, manganese, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. This humble herb also has antibacterial properties and DNA-protecting flavonoids. Want to take your pesto sauce a notch? Try making kale pesto, which infuses the flavors of basil with the goodness of kale.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Extreme Hot and Cold Temperatures

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

When it comes to improving your health, some of the simplest strategies can have a tremendous impact. For example, did you know that exposure to extreme temperatures can serve as a catalyst to improve your health?

In a previous interview, biological scientist Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. discussed the importance of mitochondrial function — a topic she expands on in this interview. As it turns out, exposure to extreme temperatures, be it hot or cold, actually improves mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria are the energy generators in your cells. While you have about 35 trillion bacteria and as many cells in our body, you have about 500 to 1,000 times more mitochondria. Estimates suggest you may have anywhere from 15 to 50 quadrillion mitochondria.

When your mitochondria are not working properly, your body's ability to generate energy is impaired. The key is to get the old ones out and to create new ones — a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. There are a number of strategies that can do that, including:

  • Exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures
  • Exercise
  • Intermittent fasting or time-restricted feeding
  • Certain supplements, such as resveratrol

All of these strategies stimulate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC-1 alpha), which is the primary driver for mitochondrial biogenesis. And when it comes to maintaining biological functioning and good health, the more mitochondria you have the better.

Mitochondrial Biogenesis Benefits From Hormesis

According to Patrick, exposure to extreme cold is likely the most effective way to boost mitochondrial biogenesis, followed by exposure to heat, and exercise.

All of the strategies listed above place stress on your body, and while stress is generally viewed as a detriment to health, short bouts of stress actually produce benefits by way of hormesis.

Hormesis refers to a process of exposing your body to a very short burst of stress, be it exercise, heat, cold, fasting, or antioxidants like resveratrol.

Because it's a short burst of stress, your body reacts to this stress by activating a variety of stress response pathways that are hardwired and encoded in your genes. As explained by Patrick:

"It turns them on because they're thinking, 'I've got to prepare for war. This is stress. I need to make sure I fight this off.' Not only does it activate all these really good pathways to fight off the stress you're dealing with immediately, but it is preparing for future war.

[Your body] is basically thinking to itself, 'I may encounter this stress again. I have to activate all these good pathways that can help me deal with stress. That way, the next time I encounter it, I'm ready to fight it off.'

That's really one of the main reasons why short bursts of stress are so good for you, because we have so many amazing genes in our body that are so powerful. The problem is that as we age, they don't become activated as often. We need to find ways to activate them more ..."

Benefits of Heat Stress

Exercise is one form of heat stress, as you're elevating your core temperature. Other ways of raising your core temperature include taking a hot bath, or using a steam room or sauna. The heat stress generated helps activate genes that are important for optimizing heat shock proteins (HSP) inside your cells.

This is important, as these proteins get damaged with time and need to be renewed. Accumulation of damaged HSP can lead to plaque formation in your brain and/or vascular system.

Heat stress helps prevent this adverse chain of events. HSP are also involved in longevity, so it's really good to have a lot of HSP. They're also important for preventing your skeletal muscle from atrophying, because they prevent proteins from being degraded.

"[A]nimal studies have shown that when mice are exposed to the sauna they increase their protein synthesis by 30 percent compared to the mice that are not being exposed to the sauna.

This was shown to be dependent on the heat shock proteins, HSPs, in the muscle. [T]he important thing here is the actual heat stress. You want to feel uncomfortable. You want to feel hot. That's when you know that these good pathways are getting activated.

The other thing that happens in terms of mitochondrial biogenesis and the reason why it occurs when you're exposed to heat, is that heat itself is a stressor on the body and it creates reactive oxygen species (ROS).

[ROS are also] generated when you exercise; when you're causing your body to work more. These ROS act as a signaling molecule to make more mitochondria.

If you exercise and take a supplemental vitamin E or something that can sort of soak up the ROS, you can negate some of the positive benefits from exercise because you are now not getting those signaling molecules saying, 'Hey, we've got stress here. Let's make more mitochondria to deal with the stress.'

It's really important that you actually have some of that stress. That's part of the mechanism by which it increases mitochondrial biogenesis."

How Heat Stress Benefits Athletic Performance

Heat stress can also help boost endurance in athletes—a topic she covers more in-depth in her Hypothermic Conditioning Report, available for free download here.

In one study, athletes who spent 30 minutes in the sauna after their workouts, two times a week for three weeks, were able to increase the time it took for them to run until exhaustion by 32 percent, compared to baseline. As noted by Patrick in her report: "In other words, hyperthermic conditioning through sauna use doesn't just make you better at dealing with heat; it makes you better, period."

But how exactly does heat boost athletic endurance? First of all, heat stress causes a number of adaptations that reduce the adverse effects associated with elevated body temperatures. This includes:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Lower core body temperature during exercise
  • Higher sweat rate and increased thermoregulatory control
  • Increased plasma volume, which optimizes blood flow to your heart, muscles, skin, and other tissues
  • Reduced rate of glycogen depletion due to improved blood flow to skeletal muscle

In short, being heat acclimated helps enhance endurance, and there are three different mechanisms at work here:

  1. By increasing plasma volume and blood flow to your heart, it reduces cardiovascular strain and lowers your heart rate during exercise
  2. By increasing blood flow to your muscles, more nutrients such as glucose and oxygen are delivered, thereby reducing fatigue. According to Patrick, hyperthermic conditioning can reduce muscle glycogen use by as much as 50 percent
  3. By improving thermoregulatory control and increasing sweat rate, your core body heat can remain lower even during high exertion. Once you're heat acclimated, sweating occurs at a lower body temperature than previously, and you sweat longer
How Heat Stress Benefits Your Brain

Heat also has very robust and profound effects on your brain. Your body responds to heat by cooling itself down, and it does that by increasing production of dynorphin—the chemical opposite of endorphins. However, dynorphin sensitizes your brain to endorphins, which can have a mood boosting effect. Dynorphin is responsible for that dysphoric feeling when you're hot, when you're lying in the sun, or when you're exercising.

"I think what's really important for people to understand is everyone's always trying to avoid stress. They want to be comfortable. I think the reason for that is people are aware of the fact that chronic stress is bad. When you're constantly having a stressor, you don't have this positive hormetic response to it ...

But the short burst of stress is really good ... It has this feedback mechanism where it increases the expression of a receptor that binds to endorphin, called the mu opioid receptor. You make more of these receptors. That way, the next time you produce endorphin, you're more sensitive to it ... So you actually can relieve anxiety," Patrick says.

The ROS generated when you're exposed to heat also benefits your brain by increasing production of growth factors, such as brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which in turn promote the growth of neurons. With age, neurons are lost in many brain regions, and sauna bathing can be an important strategy to slow down or prevent brain aging.

Sauna Bathing Is Good for Your Heart

Heat also has a profound effect on your heart and cardiovascular health. A Finnish study published last year found that men who used the sauna two to three times a week had a 27 percent lower death rate from heart disease and a 24 percent lower all-cause mortality rate compared to those who only used the sauna once a week.

Men who used it four to seven times a week had a 50 percent reduction in death from heart disease, and a 40 percent reduction in all-cause mortality. So there's a clear dose-dependent response, meaning the more frequently you use the sauna, the greater the beneficial effect. These heart and cardiovascular benefits are related to the fact that when you get hot:

  • Your heart rate increases, just as during exercise
  • Your blood vessels dilate
  • The smooth muscle cells that line your blood vessels relax

Temperature matters, of course. In this study, they used the traditional hot, dry Finnish sauna. The temperature averaged 79 degrees Celsius (174 degrees Fahrenheit), which is extremely hot by most standards. The duration was typically 20 minutes or longer. Infrared saunas and steam rooms operate at lower temperatures, so the outcomes might not be identical were you to compare them. Still, heat that isn't as extreme will provide similar benefits.

Benefits of Cryotherapy

As with heat, the rationale for exposing yourself to very cold temperatures also has to do with the benefits associated with hormesis. You may have heard that cold temperatures can help you burn more body fat, and mitochondrial biogenesis is directly involved in this process.

When you're exposed to cold, your body increases production of norepinephrine in the brain, which is involved in focus and attention. It also improves mood and alleviates pain, partly because it lowers inflammation. You can increase norepinephrine two-fold just by getting into 40-degree water for 20 seconds, or 57-degree water for a few minutes.

While best known as a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine also acts as a hormone. One of its functions is causing vasoconstriction, which helps your body conserve heat. Norepinephrine also acts as a signaling molecule to make more mitochondria in your fat tissue (your main energy reserves), and a byproduct of energy production is heat.

This also helps prepare you for the next time you're exposed to cold. The more times you're exposed to cold, the more mitochondria you make in your fat cells and the better you can withstand lower temperatures. This is a topic Dr. Patrick covers more in-depth in her cold shock report, available for free download here.

So yes, you do "get acclimated" to colder temperatures with time. Wim Hof, aka. "The Iceman," is a perfect example of this. He's exposed himself to cold on a daily basis for decades. As a result, he's now able to withstand the cold for much longer periods than one might consider normal, because his body can generate more heat. As explained by Patrick, "The more mitochondria you have in your fat, the more fat you're burning, the more heat you can make, the longer you can stay in the cold."

The Hormesis of Cryotherapy

As mentioned, when you expose yourself to heat, you make heat shock protein. When exposing yourself to cold, in addition to increasing norepinephrine you also make cold shock protein, known as the RNA-binding motif 3 or RBM3, in your brain.

This is another intriguing example of hormesis. Interestingly, when you're exposed to cold, you actually degrade synapses (the connections between neurons), but RBM3 completely regenerates them. This has been shown in hibernating animals like bears and squirrels.

"There's this really great study that was published not long ago that showed when you take a mouse genetically engineered to get Alzheimer's disease and expose it to cold, so that it's increasing RBM3, it delays the onset of Alzheimer's. Even though they were genetically engineered to get Alzheimer's disease, they get it much, much later," Patrick says.

Studies have also been done on human cells, showing that RBM3 does get activated when the brain cells are exposed to cold, and that the temperature change needed is only about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. More research needs to be done, but preliminary work such as this suggests cryotherapy (cold treatment) could have a neuroprotective effect.

Caveat: Avoid Cryotherapy Directly Following Strength Training

There is one important caveat worth mentioning. When you're doing strengthening exercises you generate ROS that help increase muscle mass. If you expose yourself to cold within the first hour after strength training, you suppress that beneficial process, so avoid doing cold immersion (such as a really cold shower or ice bath) immediately after strength training.

On the other hand, spending some time in the sauna after exercise may actually help increase muscle mass. It'll also help with detoxification, allowing you to sweat out toxins that can wreak havoc on mitochondrial function in general. As explained by Patrick:

"This is what's important to understand — Exercise is a stress on the body. You're making reactive oxygen species. You're generating inflammation. But that's a good thing because it's a short burst, and you want it.

... There's a one hour timeframe from the time you stop exercising [in which inflammation peaks]. That is the stressful period. But then as soon as an hour hits, the stress response kicks in and you start to have a potent anti-inflammatory [response]. You start having an antioxidant response from activating all these good genes that stay activate for a long time.

What happens is that because the cold also is causing an anti-inflammatory response, it's important that you don't get that anti-inflammatory response too soon, because you need some of that exercise-induced inflammation. You want that inflammation to happen to get the anti-inflammatory response. That's important for the strength training.

The inflammation you generate during the strength training is part of the mechanism for making more proteins in the skeletal muscle. If you blunt that, then you're going to blunt the effects of the strength training. The question is then can you do it an hour or two hours later? Studies have shown, yes, you can do cold exposure, cold water immersion and actually get some performance enhancements even from doing [that]."

Listen to Your Body

While sauna bathing and cold water immersion are generally safe, if you have any sort of medical condition, discuss it with your doctor beforehand, since both hot and cold put stress on your heart and cardiovascular system. Also listen to your body. Individual tolerance for hot and cold temperatures vary widely, and if you push it too far you can do yourself harm.

Cryotherapy tends to be a bit riskier than sauna, which is typically very beneficial for people with cardiovascular-related diseases, courtesy of the vasodilation and increased blood flow. Cold causes acute vasoconstriction, which can be potentially dangerous if you have a heart condition. A quick cold shower would probably be okay, but avoid ice baths or other extreme cold water immersion techniques.

"With that said, in general it's really, really good to listen to your body. You need to recover from the stress; otherwise it's not going to be beneficial,' Patrick says. 'If you're exercising all day, every day, you're going to die. You can't constantly keep stressing your body without a recovery period, which is part of the reason why sleep is so important for recovery, you repair all this damage that you generated throughout the day.

I tend to push things to the extreme. I'm getting better with that now. But I have experienced, with myself, when I've sat in an ice bath for several minutes, I start to feel light headed. I shouldn't be feeling light headed. That's enough. I need to get out. The same with the sauna. Feeling uncomfortable is good.

You want to push a little bit past that comfort and feel a little uncomfortable. That's important for some of the hormetic benefits. But you don't want to faint. Also, never drink alcohol in the sauna."

More Information

You can learn more about hyperthermic conditioning, cryotherapy, and cold water immersion via the free reports by Patrick.She also has a podcast where she interviews health professionals and scientists on a variety of topics related to health.

I regularly listen to her programs as they're always packed with great and usable information. On her website, you can find many videos on a variety of topics in which she summarizes key information in clear and easy to understand layman's terms. You can also sign up for her newsletter, in which she publishes longer, heavily referenced articles and special reports.

An Inside Look Into the Fish Industry Reveals Disturbing Facts That Could Threaten Your Health

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Nicolas Daniel’s documentary “Fillet-Oh-Fish” takes a critical look at the fish industry, featuring exclusive footage from fish farms and factories across the globe. Many still have a rather romanticized view of fishing, but when it comes to large-scale food production, the picture is actually rather grim.

Today’s fisheries are faced with a range of severe problems, from overfishing to chemical pollution and genetic mutation from toxic exposures. As noted by the producers of the film, “through intensive farming and global pollution, the flesh of the fish we eat has turned into a deadly chemical cocktail.”1

Despite that, the fish business is booming, in part due to efforts to keep the dirty underbelly of modern fisheries from public sight.

Aquaculture promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing. But in reality, fish farms actually cause more problems than they solve. There’s really little difference, in terms of environmental pollution, between land-based feedlots and water-based ones.

Farmed Salmon — One of the Most Toxic Foods in the World?

The film starts off in Norway, looking at the chemicals used in fish farms. Kurt Oddekalv is a respected Norwegian environmental activist, and he believes salmon farming is a disaster both for the environment and for human health.

Below the salmon farms dotted across the Norwegian fjords, there’s a layer of waste some 15 meters high, teeming with bacteria, drugs, and pesticides. In short, the entire sea floor has been destroyed, and since the farms are located in open water, the pollution from these farms is in no way contained.

A salmon farm can hold upwards of 2 million salmon in a relatively small amount of space. These crowded conditions result in disease, which spreads rapidly among the stressed salmon.

According to Oddekalv, sea lice, Pancreas Disease(PD)2 and Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA) have spread all across Norway, yet consumers are not informed of these fish pandemics, and sale of these diseased fish continue unabated.

A number of dangerous pesticides are used in an effort to stave off disease-causing pests, one of which is known to have neurotoxic effects. Fish has always been considered a health food, but according to Oddekalv, today’s farmed salmon is one of the most toxic foods in the world!

Toxicology researcher Jerome Ruzzin has confirmed Oddekalv’s claims. He’s tested a number of different food groups sold in Norway for toxins, and indeed, farmed salmon contains the greatest amount of toxins of them all, and by an incredibly large margin.

Overall, farmed salmon is five times more toxic than any other food product tested. In animal feeding studies, mice fed farmed salmon grew obese, with thick layers of fat around their internal organs. They also developed diabetes.

Ruzzin notes that a theory gaining traction is that rising rates of obesity is related to the increasing number of toxins and pollutants we’re exposed to through our environment and food. In light of his own studies, Ruzzin has stopped eating farmed salmon.

Genetic Mutations and Other Crazy Facts

Besides keeping pests like sea lice in check, the pesticides used also affect the fish’s DNA, causing genetic mutations. Disturbing examples of deformed cod are shown in the film.

What’s even more disturbing is that, according to Oddekalv, about 50 percent of farmed cod are deformed in this fashion, and female cod that escape from farms are known to mate with wild cod, spreading the genetic mutations and deformities into the wild population.

Farmed salmon suffer less visible but equally disturbing mutations. The flesh of the farmed salmon is “brittle,” and breaks apart when bent — a highly abnormal feature.

The nutritional content is also wildly abnormal. Wild salmon contains about 5 to 7 percent fat, whereas the farmed variety can contain anywhere from 14.5 to 34 percent.

Many toxins accumulate most readily in fat, which means even when raised in similarly contaminated conditions, farmed salmon will contain far more toxins than wild.

Shockingly, research reveals that the most significant source of toxic exposure is not actually the pesticides or the antibiotics, but the dry pellet feed! Pollutants found in the fish feed include dioxins, PCBs, and a number of different drugs and chemicals.

What Makes the Fish Feed so Toxic?

So what’s wrong with the fish feed? Why is it so toxic? In one Norwegian fish pellet plant, the main ingredient turns out to be eel, used for their high protein and fat content, and other fatty fish from the Baltic Sea.

That’s where the problem begins, as the Baltic is highly polluted. Some of the fish used have toxic levels of pollutants, which then simply get incorporated into the feed pellets.

In Sweden, fish mongers are now required to warn patrons about the potential toxicity of Baltic fish. According to government recommendations, you should not eat fatty fish like herring more than once a week, and if you’re pregnant, fish from the Baltic should be avoided altogether.

Swedish Greenpeace activist Jan Isakson reveals some of the sources of all this pollution. Just outside of Stockholm, there’s a massive paper mill on the bank of the Baltic that generates toxic dioxins.

Nine other industrialized countries surrounding the Baltic Sea also dump their toxic waste into this closed body of water. Dioxins bind to fat, which is why herring, eel, and salmon are particularly vulnerable, and end up accumulating higher amounts than other fish.

As a result of being deemed unfit for human consumption, some of these fatty fish are now primarily used as fish food. In this way, toxicity in the farmed salmon is allowed to build up even higher than in the wild.

One of the Best Kept and Most Dangerous Secrets of the Fish Industry

But there’s yet another problem, and it stems from the manufacturing process of the pellets. The fatty fish are first cooked, resulting in two separate products: protein meal and oil. While the oil has high levels of dioxins and PCBs, the protein powder further adds to the toxicity of the end product.

To the protein powder, they add an “antioxidant” called ethoxyquin. According to the filmmaker, this is one of the best kept secrets of the fish food industry. Ethoxyquin was developed by Monsanto in the 1950s — as a pesticide. Its use is strictly regulated, so why is it being added to fish pellets?

A couple of years ago, a Swiss anti-fraud laboratory was surprised to find extremely high levels of ethoxyquin in farmed fish — some 10 to 20 times higher than the 50 mcg per kilo allowed in food in the European Union — and that discovery began to unravel the secret. Ethoxyquin was designed for use on fruits and vegetables, but the fish feed industry discovered another novel use for it — they add it to the feed to prevent the fats from oxidizing and going rancid.

However, the fish feed manufacturers never informed health authorities of their use of the chemical. As a result, the EU strictly regulates ethoxyquin levels in fruits, vegetables, and meat — there are even standards for kangaroos and reptiles — but not for the fish people consume. What’s more, the effects of this chemical on human health have never been established.

The one and only study ever done on ethoxyquin and human health was a thesis by Victoria Bohne, Ph.D. a former researcher in Norway who made a number of disturbing discoveries, including the fact that ethoxyquin can cross the blood brain barrier, and may have carcinogenic effects. Bohne, as many other researchers who have made unpopular findings, was pressured to leave her research job after attempts were made to falsify and downplay her findings.

Others have linked the secret use of ethoxyquin in Norwegian fish farming, and the lack of scientific investigation into its effects, to the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, who also happens to be a major shareholder in a commercial salmon farm, and has held many high-ranking positions within the fishing industry.

The Rise of Panga Exploited Fish Consumption

In France, fish consumption has more than doubled in the past five decades, now surpassing consumption of both beef and chicken. To meet demand, fish is being imported from around the globe. Rarely will you find a fish caught off the coast of France. Nearly half of all fish sold in France is raised in fish farms. Lesser known and less expensive species have also been brought to market.

Panga, which is now one of the 10 most consumed fish in France, was relatively unknown a decade ago. Its low price has also made panga a top seller in the school system. The questions asked in the film are, how can this farmed fish be sold at such low prices, and what’s actually in these fish that children are now eating on a regular basis?

The investigation begins in southern Vietnam, where panga is part of the culinary tradition. However, behind this cultural image, there’s a more disturbing reality. Over the past 15 years, panga exports have become a major source of income for the region. In fact, 95 percent of the global production of panga comes from southern Vietnam, and this success has resulted in both environmental and human exploitation.

Farmed panga grow twice to four times as fast compared to those in the wild, allowing them to reach adult size in about six months. The fish are then harvested and processed, which includes washing the fillets in big vats filled with water and polyphosphates — chemical additives that facilitate freezing.

The chemical also allows the fish to soak up water, which artificially increases their weight. After this process, the fish lack both taste and odor, and will take on the flavor of whatever spices you add to it during cooking.

Environmental Pollution Poses Risks

Many panga farms are plagued with disease, courtesy of the polluted waters in which they’re raised. Mekong River, where many panga farms are located, is one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the world. In 2009, the World Wide Fund for Nature placed panga on their “red” list of products that pose a danger to environmental and human health.

Millions of Vietnamese households dump their waste directly into the Mekong River each day. Pesticides used in rice cultivation also migrate into this waterway. Green algae and bacteria release toxins into the water and reduce oxygen levels in the water, which adds further stress on the fish’s immune systems, making them more prone to disease.

To address disease, farmers add industrial quantities of drugs into their fish ponds, including a wide array of antibiotics. The side effect is drug resistance, which forces the farmers to keep increasing the dosages. The panga are not the only thing affected by this strategy, of course. Antibiotics spread through the river systems, are absorbed into the fish’s tissues and excreted through feces, which redistributes the drugs into the environment — and to those who eat the fish.

Are You Eating Fish, or Fish Waste?

Fish can be one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but in the industrial age you have to be ultra careful about choosing the right type of fish. If you needed another reason to avoid processed foods, watch this film to the end, where it describes how fish waste has become a “highly valued commodity” used in processed foods. At less than 15 cents per kilo, these fish heads and tails, and what little meat is left over after filleting, is a real profit maker.

Virtually nothing actually goes to waste anymore. Fish skins are recycled for use in the cosmetics industry. The remainder of the fish waste is washed and ground into a pulp, which is then used in prepared meals and pet food.

Since food manufacturers are not required to tell you their products contain fish pulp rather than actual fish fillet meat, this product offers a high profit margin for food manufacturers. One tipoff: if the product’s list of ingredients includes a fish without specifying that it’s made with fillet of fish, it’s usually made with fish waste pulp.

Fish fraud is also commonplace. Investigations have shown that 1 in 3 fish labels are false or misleading. Typically, an inexpensive fish is mislabeled as a more expensive one. Some farmed fish are also passed off as wild. Since traceability is more complex in the processed food industry, due to the mixing of ingredients, that’s where most of the fish fraud occurs. It’s somewhat more difficult to pass off fillets of fish as another species, although that also occurs.

Best Seafood Options: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sardines and Anchovies

It’s become quite clear that fish farms are not a viable solution to overfishing. If anything, they’re making matters worse, destroying the marine ecosystem at a far more rapid clip to boot ... So what’s the answer? Unfortunately, the vast majority of fish — even when wild caught — is too contaminated to eat on a frequent basis. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals that wind up in the environment.

This is why, as a general rule, I no longer recommend getting your omega-3 requirements from fish. However, I do make two exceptions. One is authentic, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon; the nutritional benefits of which I believe still outweigh any potential contamination.

The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years. Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn't feed on other, already contaminated, fish.

Alaskan salmon is not allowed to be farmed, and is therefore always wild-caught. My favorite brand is Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics, which offers a nice variety of high-quality salmon products that test high for omega-3 fats and low for contaminants. Canned salmon labeled "Alaskan salmon" is a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets. 

The second exception is smaller fish with short life cycles, which also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, such as sardines and anchovies, so it's a win-win situation — lower contamination risk and higher nutritional value. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated. Just make sure they’re not from the Baltic Sea.

Other good choices include herring and fish roe (caviar), which is full of important phospholipids that nourish mitochondrial membranes.

Why Do Insides of Apples Turn Brown After Slicing?

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Apples are rich in phenolic compounds called polyphenols, which play a role in the color, flavor and nutritional quality of the fruit. They’re also the reason why apples turn brown soon after you cut them.

Phenolic compounds are located in the vacuoles of plant cells, while an enzyme known as polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is located in cell structures called plastids. When you cut the apple, the damage from the cut allows contact between PPO and phenolic compounds, which triggers a reaction known as enzymatic browning.1

Cutting an apple exposes the cells to oxygen, which allows the PPO enzymes to rapidly oxidize the phenolic compounds in the apple tissues into ortho-quinones (o-quinones). O-quinones form a natural antiseptic that helps protect the apple from bacteria and fungi.

While o-quinones have no color, they react with oxygen and amino acids to produce melanin, which turns the apple brown. Put another way by a study published in the journal HortScience:2

The enzymatic browning is a consequence of the oxidation of polyphenols to their corresponding quinones by PPO. These quinones are then polymerized with other quinones or phenolics, originating brown pigments.”

Many Factors Affect How Fast an Apple Browns

An apple’s PPO level and phenolic compound concentration, and thus its propensity for browning, varies between varieties (such as Fuji and Granny Smith) and is also influenced by growing conditions.

Apples with higher levels of phenolic compounds are best for your health, but also tend to brown faster than apples with lower levels. One study suggested that among the apple varieties studied, Fuji is the best for fresh consumption because of its higher phenolic content at harvest time.

However, they suggested a variety known as “Aori27” is best for processing, as it had the lowest PPO activity and the lowest polyphenol content, and therefore the lowest potential for enzymatic browning.3

You’re certainly better off choosing polyphenol-rich apples for your health and using simple methods to stave off browning (if you’re not planning to eat the whole apple at once, that is). Among them:

  • Put cut apples in the refrigerator. This will slow down the chemical reactions and oxidation process that leads to browning.
  • Spray exposed areas of cut apples with pineapple juice or lemon juice, which will slow enzymatic browning.
  • Blanch apples in boiling water for four to five minutes (this should only be used for apples you plan on cooking, as it will affect the texture).
FDA Approved Genetically Engineered (GE) Arctic Apples in 2015

In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved so-called Arctic Apples, which are genetically engineered to resist browning when sliced or bruised. Developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the apples are engineered to suppress the production of the enzyme that causes browning.

Although the GE apples have been approved for commercial planting, it will be a few years before they’re widely available because the trees first have to be planted and then mature enough to grow fruit.

They will eventually be available in two varieties — Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. To avoid these “Frankenfruits,” choose organic apples. As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement:4

“This GMO apple is simply unnecessary … Apple browning is a small cosmetic issue that consumers and the industry have dealt with successfully for generations.”

Apples Are Antioxidant Powerhouses

Berries, pomegranates and other flashier fruits often make headlines for their antioxidant levels, but apples are also a phenomenal source.

Compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the U.S., apples ranked second for highest antioxidant activity. However, they ranked highest for the proportion of free phenolic compounds, which means they are not bound to other compounds in the fruit and therefore may be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream.5

Notably, much of apples’ antioxidant power is contained in the peel, where you’ll find antioxidants like catechin, procyanidins, chlorogenic acid, ploridizin and more. According to the New York Fruit Quarterly:6

“Since apples are so high in antioxidants, it is no surprise that apples, specifically, are associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease.

Three studies have specifically linked apple consumption with a decreased risk for cancer … [and] a study has shown that apple and pear consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of asthma.

Apple consumption has also been associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease … [and] a reduced risk of Type II diabetes was associated with apple and berry consumption in another major Finnish study.

Five Major Health Benefits of Apples

It’s said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and here are some reasons why:

1. Brain Health: Apples have been found to protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.7

2. Stroke: Eating apples is linked to a decreased risk of stroke.8

3. Diabetes: Three servings of apples (and other fruits such as blueberries and grapes) are linked to a 7 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.9 This may be due to their beneficial role in blood sugar regulation, as apples contain compounds that may:10

  • Lessen absorption of glucose from your digestive tract
  • Stimulate beta cells in your pancreas to secrete insulin
  • Increase uptake of glucose from your blood by stimulating insulin receptors

4. Cancer: Apples have a number of properties that may help reduce the risk of cancer, including antimutagenic activity, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory mechanisms, antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing activity, as well as “novel mechanisms on epigenetic events and innate immunity. According to the journal Planta Medica:11

“Apple products have been shown to prevent skin, mammary and colon carcinogenesis in animal models. Epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer.”

5. Heart Disease: Eating apples is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, an association that may be related to their content of antioxidant flavonoids.12

Apples Are Heavily Contaminated With Pesticides: Choose Organic

Apple earned the second highest spot on the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list for most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables (only strawberries were more contaminated).13

Further, much of the antioxidant content of an apple is found in its skin, so you’ll want to leave the peel on when you eat it. For this reason, look for organic apples whenever possible to minimize your exposure to pesticides.

If you purchase conventional apples, briefly soaking them in a solution of 10 percent vinegar to 90 percent water may help to remove some pesticides (and bacteria). When it comes to choosing an apple, the Washington State Apple Commission recommends:14

  • Choosing an apple with shiny, not dull, skin (dull apples will not be crisp)
  • Firm apples free from bruises and punctures
  • Refrigerating apples at 32 degrees F to maintain crispness
  • Protecting cut apples from browning by dipping them into a solution of one part citrus juice to three parts water

If you’re looking for even more apple facts and nutrition information, be sure to check out our apple food facts page.

Study: How Often Do Happy People Have Sex?

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

It's often suggested — in media, movies, and the like — that the more sex you have the happier you'll be. But is this really true? Researchers from Dalhousie University in Canada conducted a series of experiments to find out.

The first study revealed the association between sexual frequency and well-being is only significant for people in relationships. The next two studies involved only those in committed relationships and found the "magic number" to be once per week.1

While having sex more often — four times a week or more — wasn't a bad thing, it didn't lead to additional happiness compared to having sex once a week. For couples who may feel obligated to have sex more often just because they think they should, this study takes off some of the pressure.

Sex Makes People More Satisfied in Their Relationship

The researchers revealed that sex leads to increased happiness among couples because it boosts feelings of satisfaction with the relationship. Postdoctoral researcher and lead author Amy Muise told CNN:2

"For people in relationships, their romantic relationship quality is one of the biggest predictors of their overall happiness … Having sex more than once a week might not be enhancing that (relationship connection), although it is not bad."

That being said, it could also be that couples who have sex once a week or more were happier in their relationships to begin with — the study couldn't distinguish which came first, the sex or the happiness (and maybe it doesn't matter).

Further, there's certainly no rule that states once a week works for everyone. Some couples may thrive on more and some on less. Most often, sex therapist Vanessa Marin suggested that couples would like to have more sex, simply because their busy schedules make it difficult to find the time.

For this, you can try scheduling it into your calendar, although this is also a personal matter. Some people like to plan their intimate time while others prefer spontaneity. Again, there's no right answer — do what works for you and your partner.

If You're Happy With Your Sex Life, There's No Need to Rock the Boat

If you and your partner are both satisfied with sexual frequency, there's no need to change things up. In fact, one study found that when couples were "assigned" to double their frequency of intercourse, it decreased happiness and sexual enjoyment.3 It's likely that doing the deed became more of a "chore" in this case.

As lead study author George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, told CNN, "Being told you should do something always makes it less fun."4

If, however, you're not sure where your "Goldilocks zone" is for sex, why not try an experiment? Try having sex three times a week for a month, then try once a week for a month, and keep adjusting until you find the magic number for you and your partner. It's likely that the number will change from month to month too.

Sex Is Good for You — Really Good

Like letting the sun warm your skin on an early spring day or sinking your teeth into a healthy food you also happen to love, it's always a bonus when something that feels good is good for you — and that's certainly the case with sex.

Beyond the emotional benefits, you can also expect to gain the following benefits from a healthy sex life.

1. Improved Immunity

People who have sex frequently (one or two times a week) have significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA).5 Your IgA immune system is your body's first line of defense.

Its job is to fight off invading organisms at their entry points, reducing or even eliminating the need for activation of your body's immune system. This may explain why people who have sex frequently also take fewer sick days.6

2. Heart Health

Men who made love regularly (at least twice a week) were 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who did so once a month or less, according to research published in the American Journal of Cardiology.7

3. Lower Blood Pressure

Sexual activity, and specifically intercourse, is linked to better stress response and lower blood pressure.8

4. It's a Form of Exercise

Sex helps to boost your heart rate, burn calories and strengthen muscles, just like exercise. Research revealed that sex burns about 4 calories a minute for men and 3 for women, making it (at times) a 'significant' form of exercise.9 It can even help you to maintain your flexibility and balance.

5. Pain Relief

Sexual activity releases pain-reducing hormones and has been found to help reduce or block back and leg pain, as well as pain from menstrual cramps, arthritis and headaches.

One study even found that sexual activity can lead to partial or complete relief of headache in some migraine and cluster-headache patients.10

6. May Help Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer

Research has shown that men who ejaculate at least 21 times a month (during sex or masturbation) have a lower risk of prostate cancer.11 This link needs to be explored further, however, as there may have been additional factors involved in the association.

7. Improve Sleep

After sex, the relaxation-inducing hormone prolactin is released, which may help you to nod off more quickly. The "love hormone" oxytocin, released during orgasm, also promotes sleep, which may be especially beneficial if you prefer to be intimate right before bedtime.

8. Stress Relief

Sex triggers your body to release natural feel-good chemicals, helping to ease stress and boost pleasure, calm and self-esteem. Sexual intercourse also helped people respond better when subjected to stressful situations like speaking in public.12

9. Boost Your Libido

The more often you have sex, the more likely you are to want to keep doing it. There's a mental connection there but also a physical one, particularly for women.

More frequent sex helps to increase vaginal lubrication, blood flow and elasticity,13 which in turn make sexual activity more enjoyable.

10. Improved Bladder Control in Women

Intercourse helps to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which contract during orgasm. This can help women to improve their bladder control and avoid incontinence.

You can boost this benefit even more by practicing Kegel exercises during sex (a Kegel squeeze is performed by drawing your lower pelvic muscles up and holding them up high and tight, as if you're trying to stop a flow of urine).

11. Increase Intimacy and Improve Your Relationship

Sex and orgasms result in increased levels of the hormone oxytocin - the "love" hormone — that helps you feel bonded to your partner.

Hugging Is Good for You Too

If you don't have sex regularly, you can still reap many similar benefits from other forms of intimate contact — like hugging and kissing. Like sex, hugging increases levels of the 'love hormone' oxytocin. This, in turn, may have beneficial effects on your heart health and more.

One study found, for instance, that women had lower blood pressure following a brief episode of warm contact with their partner.14 A 20-second hug, along with 10 minutes of hand holding, also reduced the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate.15

This makes sense, since hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Hugging also activates the orbitofrontal cortex in your brain, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.16,17 A 10-second hug a day can lead to biochemical and physiological reactions in your body that can significantly improve your health. According to one study, this includes:18

✓ Lower risk of heart disease

✓ Stress reduction

✓ Fight fatigue

✓ Boost your immune system

✓ Fight infections

✓ Ease depression

If one time a week is ideal for sex, how many times a week is ideal for hugs? It could be the more the better. According to research published in the British Journal of Theatre Nursing:19

" … four hugs per day was an antidote for depression, eight hugs per day would achieve mental stability and twelve hugs per day would achieve real psychological growth."

What's in a Kiss?

Like hugging and sex, kissing prompts your brain to release a happy elixir of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. This isn't only important for your happiness, it also may also help to strengthen your relationship. Kissing has also been shown to boost your immune system and reduce allergic responses in people with skin or nasal allergies.20

Separate research also revealed that people who spent six weeks making kissing a priority with their partners reported significant decreases in their levels of stress. In addition to improvements in stress, the kissing participants also reported greater relationship satisfaction and improvements in total cholesterol.21

Another study even found that men who received a passionate kiss before they left for work earned more money.22 This suggests the kiss (and perhaps the happy home-life that goes along with it) makes people happier, boosts self-esteem and, ultimately, makes for a more productive workday.

Could Your Sex Drive Use a Boost?

If you've ruled out physical issues and/or relationship problems, to boost your libido naturally and help restore harmony to your intimate life a change to your lifestyle may be in order. The strategies that follow may help to enhance your sex life by boosting your sex drive.

1. Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is vitally important to eliminate sugars, especially fructose. High levels of sugar in your bloodstream can actually turn off the gene that controls your sex hormones.23

2. Eat a healthy diet, like the one described in my nutrition plan, which will help to normalize your insulin levels. This simple measure has a profound influence on every area of your health, including your sex life.

3. Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through appropriate sun exposure as vitamin D levels increase testosterone levels, which may boost libido.

4. Exercise regularly. Make sure you incorporate high-intensity interval training exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production.

5. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.

6. Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.

7. Consider choline and vitamin B5 supplements.The neurotransmitter that triggers the sexual message, in both men and women, is acetylcholine (ACH). With too little ACH, sexual activity goes down. One way to safely and effectively enhance ACH levels in your body is to take choline supplements (1,000-3,000 mg) and vitamin B5 (500-1,500 mg).

8. Stress can dampen your libido and make sex the last thing on your mind. Taking control of your emotions by learning the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can really help in this area to re-ignite your sex life.

EFT is a psychological acupressure technique that can help you effectively address your stress-related thoughts and leave you feeling calmer and more able to face your challenges, whatever they may be, so you're able to focus on more enjoyable pursuits.

9. Try maca root. Maca, a rainforest herb, has been used for centuries as a libido booster, and it's also used to relieve menopausal symptoms in women. Research shows maca root may alleviate antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women, and the herb was well tolerated with few side effects.24

Common Painkiller Clouds Judgment

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Physical pain and the distress that comes with social rejection have been traced to the same area of the brain. This intriguing connection may shed some light on how acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) may also affect the brain.

Accumulating research suggests that, along with inhibiting physical pain, acetaminophen may also act on emotions and have other neurological effects.

One of the latest studies, conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, suggests the popular painkiller may even inhibit the brain response associated with making errors.

Acetaminophen May Make It Harder to Recognize Errors

Sixty study participants were asked to complete a fast-moving target-detection task while hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain.

When the letter F flashed on a screen, they were asked to press a Go button. When the letter E flashed on the screen, they were told to refrain from hitting the button.

Half of the participants took 1,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen (a typical maximum dose) prior to completing the task, and notable changes were displayed on the EEG.

The researchers analyzed brain waves called Error Related Negativity (ERN) and Error Related Positivity (Pe). Both ERN and Pe increased when the participants made errors, but Pe was smaller among those who took acetaminophen.

This suggests the drug inhibits the brain's ability to detect the error or, more specifically, may reduce the distress associated with errors so you're less likely to pay attention to them. Lead author Dan Randles, a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychology department at University of Toronto, said in an interview with Forbes:1

"Very recent work in the last few years has suggested that acetaminophen not only affects physical pain, but also feelings of social rejection, uncertainty and evaluative processing.

… This study is the first to provide compelling evidence that acetaminophen is affecting all of these symptoms by reducing the distress associated with any kind of cognitive conflict; whether the source is physical, social or more abstract."

The study also revealed a surprise finding — that those taking acetaminophen also made more errors. The researchers are planning to look further into whether the drug may increase distraction or mind wandering, thereby leading to increased errors.

Tylenol May Dull Feelings of Personal Distress and Social Rejection

Past research has also unveiled subtle cognitive effects associated with acetaminophen. In 2010, for instance, research found that acetaminophen reduces the pain of social rejection.2

Compared to those taking a placebo, those who took acetaminophen daily for three weeks had reduced neural responses to social rejection in brain regions associated with distress caused by social pain and physical pain (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula).

Then, in 2013, a prior study by Randles and his colleagues found acetaminophen led to changes in the way people made moral judgments, which was used as a measure for personal distress.3

In addition to social rejection, acetaminophen may blunt distress associated with more abstract concepts. The researchers told Live Science:4

"When people feel overwhelmed with uncertainty in life or distressed by a lack of purpose, what they're feeling may actually be painful distress ...

We think that Tylenol is blocking existential unease in the same way it prevents pain, because a similar neurological process is responsible for both types of distress."

Acetaminophen Might Dull Your Happiness, Too

Acetaminophen's apparent dulling effect on your emotional responses might work for better or for worse, watering down not only negative emotions but also positive ones. Researchers showed emotional photos to college students who had either taken a 1,000-mg dose of acetaminophen or a placebo.

Those who took the painkiller had more muted emotional responses to both negative and positive images.5 According to the researchers:

"Participants who took acetaminophen evaluated unpleasant stimuli less negatively and pleasant stimuli less positively, compared with participants who took a placebo.

Participants in the acetaminophen condition also rated both negative and positive stimuli as less emotionally arousing than did participants in the placebo condition …

These findings suggest that acetaminophen has a general blunting effect on individuals' evaluative and emotional processing, irrespective of negative or positive valence."

As for why the drug might dull your emotions, the researchers suggested it might alter brain activity, such as the activity of serotonin, reduce inflammatory signaling or decrease activation in brain areas linked to emotional processing.6

Although they weren't tested, the researchers believe other pain relievers, including aspirin or ibuprofen, might have similar emotion-blunting effects.

Acetaminophen Poses a Risk to Your Liver Health

Acetaminophen's brain effects are only beginning to be understood, but this medication's risks to other areas of your body are well known.

Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the U.S. — more than 100,000 instances per year — and acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly half of all acute liver failure cases in the U.S.7

Acetaminophen overdoses are also responsible for more than 150 deaths each year in the U.S.8 A major problem is that while acetaminophen is considered safe when taken as recommended, the margin between a safe dose and a potentially lethal one is very small.

Taking just 25 percent more than the daily recommended dose — the equivalent of just two extra strength pills per day — can cause liver damage after just a couple of weeks of daily use.9

Previous research has also shown that taking just a little more than the recommended dose over the course of several days or weeks (referred to as "staggered overdosing") can be more risky than taking one large overdose.10

This happens more often than you might think. Your risk of severe liver injury and/or death related to acetaminophen increases if you:

  • Take more than one regular strength (325 mg) acetaminophen when combined with a narcotic analgesic like codeine or hydrocodone
  • Take more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period
  • Take more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time. Make sure to read the list of ingredients on any other over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drug you take in combination.
Acetaminophen Should Not Be Taken With Alcohol

You should not drink alcohol while taking an acetaminophen product. Research suggests this drug significantly increases your risk of kidney dysfunction if taken with alcohol — even if the amount of alcohol is small.11

Combining alcohol with acetaminophen was found to raise the risk of kidney damage by 123 percent compared to taking either of them individually. Besides alcoholics, young adults are particularly at risk as they're more likely to consume both.12

This means you should avoid using acetaminophen to treat a hangover as well, a common yet potentially dangerous practice.

Serious Skin Reactions Linked to Acetaminophen

Unbeknownst to many, acetaminophen may also cause three serious skin reactions, two of which typically require hospitalization and can be fatal. What is particularly alarming is that it can occur at any time, even if you've taken the medication in the past without issue. The skin reactions linked to acetaminophen include:

  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS): This reaction begins with flu-like symptoms that progress into a painful purple or red rash that blisters and causes the top layer of your skin to slough off. This can lead to serious infections, blindness, damage to internal organs, permanent skin damage and even death.
  • Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS): TENS also typically begins with flu-like symptoms (cough, headache, aches, and fever) and progresses into a blistering rash. Layers of the skin may peel away in sheets, and hair and nails may fall out. TENS is often fatal, typically as a result of infection.
  • Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP): This skin eruption causes numerous pustules to appear on the skin, often accompanied by fever. This condition typically resolves within two weeks once the acetaminophen is stopped.
NAC Is an Antidote to Acetaminophen Overdose

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an antidote for acetaminophen toxicity and is well worth knowing about if you ever use acetaminophen or keep it in your house. NAC is administered as part of standard care in cases of acetaminophen overdose.

While I generally do not recommend using acetaminophen-containing drugs for minor aches and pains, they are sometimes necessary to temporarily suppress severe pain, such as post-surgical pain. For those instances, I recommend taking it along with NAC.

It is believed the liver damage acetaminophen causes is largely due to the fact that it can deplete glutathione, an antioxidant compound secreted by your liver in response to toxic exposure. Glutathione also helps protect your cells from free radical damage. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from the acetaminophen may be largely preventable.

NAC is the rate-limiting nutrient for the formation of the intracellular antioxidant glutathione, which is why it's such an effective antidote. Mortality due to acetaminophen toxicity has been shown to be virtually eliminated when NAC is promptly administered in cases of acetaminophen overdose. So whether you are taking Tylenol in prescription or over-the-counter form, I strongly suggest taking NAC along with it.

And, if you have children and keep acetaminophen in your home, I strongly recommend keeping a bottle of NAC as well in case of accidental overdose. NAC therapy should be initiated within eight hours of an acute overdose for best results. If you suspect an overdose has occurred, seek medical help right away. If this isn't an option, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following protocol:13

"Oral administration is the preferred route for NAC therapy unless contraindications exist (e.g. aspiration, persistent vomiting). The usual recommended loading dose is 140 mg/kg followed in four hours by a maintenance dose of 70 mg/kg orally given every four hours.

This dosing is commonly recommended to be continued for 72 hours; however more recent clinical experience supports tailoring the duration of therapy to the patient's clinical condition."

Does Acetaminophen Even Work to Relieve Pain?

Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used pain relievers in the world, but research has shown it may only be mildly effective compared to placebo. It's been suggested that regular doses of up to 4,000 mg a day of the drug might be needed for optimal therapeutic benefits, but this could pose a risk of serious side effects.14

Meanwhile, in 2015 a systematic review of randomized trials found acetaminophen works no better than a placebo.15 The review of 13 studies found "high-quality evidence" that acetaminophen is ineffective for treating low back pain and had only a small effect in patients with osteoarthritis.

That small effect was "not likely to be meaningful for clinicians or patients," the researchers wrote. In addition, acetaminophen use increased the risk of having an abnormal result on liver function tests by nearly four-fold.16 Considering the risks, both those that are known and the brain effects that are currently being unraveled, and the lack of clear effectiveness, you may be better off seeking alternative forms of pain relief.

Top Natural Acetaminophen Alternatives

Acetaminophen and related products are familiar household items for many, but they are not the only option when you need relief from pain. For instance, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) works very effectively for relieving pain and can be used for children as well.

The Advanced Muscle Integration Technique (AMIT) helps treat muscle injuries and pain as well, while these simple exercises may work wonders for treating back pain. No matter what your reason for taking Tylenol, type it into the search box above and you'll likely find a natural alternative. If chronic pain is your problem, the following options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that acetaminophen and other pain relievers carry.

  • Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than many NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  • Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  • Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility.17 In fact, curcumin has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.18
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.
  • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  • Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
  • Therapeutic modalities such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and even holding hands can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.

Which Fruits and Vegetables Have the Most Pesticides?

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If you eat strawberries in your morning smoothie or as a quick snack, make sure they're organic. In an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of 48 fruits and vegetables, strawberries earned the dubious moniker of most contaminated with pesticide residues.1

They beat out apples (last year's top offender) and were found to be almost universally contaminated — 98 percent of samples contained at least one detectable pesticide residue.

It probably comes as no surprise that conventionally grown produce may be contaminated with pesticides, but there are wide variances in the levels of different crops.

Since most people tend to pick and choose which fruits and vegetables to buy organic, knowing which items are most contaminated helps you to prioritize which foods to buy organic and which are safe to purchase conventionally grown.

Eating Strawberries Could Expose You to Dozens of Pesticides

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S. The average American eats close to 8 pounds a year, "and with them, dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage or are banned in Europe," EWG's Bill Walker and Sonya Lunder said in a statement.2

EWG used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which found strawberries tested in both 2009 and 2014 contained nearly six different pesticides per sample compared to under two per sample for all other produce.3

According to California data, nearly 300 pounds of pesticides were applied to each acre of strawberries grown in the state in 2014. Compare this to corn, which is doused with about 5 pounds of pesticides per acre — and is considered to be a pesticide-intensive crop.

Hormone-Disrupting, Potentially Cancer-Causing Pesticides Used on Strawberries

What types of pesticides are used on strawberries? According to EWG:4

  • Carbendazim, a hormone-disrupting fungicide that's banned in the European Union
  • Bifenthrin, an insecticide designated a possible human carcinogen by California regulators
  • Malathion, a nervous system toxin that the International Agency for Cancer Research also classifies as a probable human carcinogen

The EWG analysis revealed that 40 percent of strawberries tested had residues of 10 or more pesticides (one sample even had 17 different pesticide residues).

It's also known that some strawberry growers use 60 different pesticides on their fields. Whenever possible, choose organic strawberries or, even better, grow your own.

Strawberries are easy to grow and, as a bonus, they're perennials and will come back each year in most climates. Plus, when you grow your own you get the satisfaction of harvesting your very own seasonal summer treat. As EWG noted, strawberries have only relatively recently become available year-round:5

"Fresh strawberries once were a seasonal treat, available in limited supply only for a few spring and summer months.

In recent decades the increased use of pesticides and other chemically-aided growing methods have made cheap strawberries available year round, and aggressive marketing campaigns have spurred consumption."

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: Most and Least Pesticide-Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

With the exception of strawberries beating out apples for the top spot, EWG's 2016 "Dirty Dozen" list for most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables looks very similar to last year's list. So, too, does their "Clean 15" list, which are those that tend to contain very little pesticide residue.

EWG's analysis combines six different measures of contamination to come up with a composite score for each type of produce. The results are as follows:6

EWG's 2016 Dirty Dozen (Buy These Organic)

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

EWG's 2015 Clean 15 (OK to Buy These Conventional)

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower
U.S. Pesticide Tolerance Limits Are Too Lenient

Most of the samples tested fell within allowable legal limits for pesticide residues. For instance, only five strawberry samples tested exceeded the tolerance level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is the upper allowable limit for individual pesticides on produce.

Unfortunately, just because pesticide levels fall below the tolerance level does not guarantee they're safe. As EWG noted:7

"Some liken pesticide tolerances to a 500 m.p.h. speed limit. If the rules of the road are so loose that it's impossible to violate them, then nobody can feel safe."

For instance, there is no legal limit on the number of different pesticides allowed on food. The effects of these chemical cocktails are unknown, but concern is warranted, especially since adults and children alike are exposed to low doses for a lifetime.

The tolerance levels also fail to take into account more recent research showing such chemicals may be toxic even at very low levels. The CHAMACOS Study is among those showing that very small amounts of pesticides may be harmful. Children born in Salinas Valley, California, an agricultural mecca, were followed through age 12 to assess what impact the pesticides had on their development.8 Mothers' exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:9

  • Shorter duration of pregnancy
  • Poorer neonatal reflexes
  • Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
  • Increased risk of attention problems in children
Glyphosate Residues Are Still a Mystery

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is the most used agricultural chemical of all time. However, it's not known exactly how much glyphosate may be in your food because the USDA does not test for it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced in February 2016 that it may begin testing foods for glyphosate.

However, for now an analysis commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse10 suggested that eating non-organic, genetically engineered (GE) foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body. The Detox Project explained:11

"Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.

In a separate detailed analysis, glyphosate was found in the urine of cows, humans, and rabbits. Cows kept in a GM-free area had significantly lower glyphosate concentrations in urine than cows in conventional livestock systems."

Eating Organic Lowers Pesticide Levels in Your Body

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 organophosphate pesticides in their urine, and unless you're a farmer, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure.12

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.13

Research also found that organic produce had, on average, 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional produce.14 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 those organic as much as possible. 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).

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.

Fast Food Identified as a Significant Source of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Fast food contains many ingredients that compromise health, but did you know these convenience meals also come with an extra serving of endocrine-disrupting chemicals? According to recent research, people who eat drive-through hamburgers and take-out pizzas have higher levels of phthalates in their urine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected data on nearly 8,900 Americans of all age groups between 2003 and 2010 as part of a nationwide survey on health and nutrition. Participants reported everything they'd eaten in the past 24 hours and provided a urine sample.

While other studies have investigated exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals from processed food in general, this is the largest study looking at exposure specifically from fast food meals.1,2,3

"Fast food" was broadly defined as food from restaurants without table service and/or those with takeout or drive-through service. So besides McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and similar establishments, it also includes sandwich shops, Starbucks, and other "casual dining" restaurants. As reported by Time magazine:4

"The new report,5 published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate more fast food also had higher levels of two substances that occur when phthalates — which make plastic more flexible — break down in the body. "

Fast Food Consumption Significantly Increases Phthalate Levels in Your Body

The two phthalate metabolites identified in this particular study were:6

Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), a highly lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical that is loosely chemically bonded to the plastic, allowing it to leach out into other fat-containing solutions in contact with the plastic.

Animal studies show that exposure to DEHP can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, particularly the developing testes of prenatal and neonatal males.

Di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP), a commonly used plasticizer in flexible PVC products.7 While DiNP has been considered harmless from a health and environmental perspective, more recent research suggests it may in fact have similar effects as DEHP and other phthalates.

For example, a 2015 study8 linked both DEHP and DiNP to increased insulin resistance in adolescents.

Approximately one-third of the respondents reported eating fast food in the past 24 hours, and according to the authors, "that alone tells you the public health impact of this type of food preparation."9

Those who got at least 35 percent of their calories from fast food had nearly 24 percent higher levels of DEHP and 39 percent higher DiNP in their urine compared to those who had not consumed any fast food in that time frame.

In those who ate some fast food, but got less than 35 percent of their calories from it, DEHP and DiNP levels were still nearly 16 and 25 percent higher respectively.

Avoiding Fast Food Can Be a Simple Way to Cut Phthalate Exposure

As noted by the authors, many scientific and clinical bodies, such as the Endocrine Society, now suggest reducing exposure to phthalates — especially during pregnancy.

The problem is they're so widely used, making avoidance difficult. According to this research, simply abstaining from fast food is one way you can significantly reduce your exposure.

Personal care products are another major source of phthalates that are within your control. Pregnant women and young children are at particularly high risk when it comes to these kinds of chemicals. As noted by CNN:10

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a report11 in 2013 stating that high levels of exposure to phthalates could lead to adverse reproductive outcomes in women.

Research has linked these chemicals with increased risk of fibroids and endometriosis, which can cause infertility, and reduced IQ and behavioral problems in children exposed in the womb. High phthalate levels have also been linked with diabetes risk in women and adolescents...

'This study shows that fast food may be an especially important source of phthalate exposure,' said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program."

Phthalates From Plastic Gloves, Conveyor Belts, Packaging — It All Adds Up

The researchers point out that one reason fast food exposes you to higher levels of plasticizing chemicals is because workers also use plastic gloves when handling each and every ingredient, and that's a source of phthalate contamination too, over and beyond the actual packaging.

Japan banned vinyl gloves for use in food establishments back in 2001 due to their phthalate content. In the U.S. however, use of vinyl gloves has actually increased over the years due to the rising prevalence of latex allergies.

While additional research needs to be done to identify which foods pose the greatest risk, the study did find that meats and grain-based food items — even if they were not from a fast food restaurant — tended to result in higher phthalate exposure.

The exact reason for this is still unclear, but it could be related to the way they're processed, or because the fats they contain bind phthalates more efficiently. That said, fast food as a category had the strongest association with elevated phthalate levels by far.

Researcher Ami Zota notes that previous studies have compared phthalate levels in food before and after packaging, showing that levels rise 100 percent after being packaged. This clearly demonstrates these chemicals do leach out of the plastic and into the food.

Moreover, if the food is packaged when hot, the migration of phthalates is sped up. Findings such as these are hotly refuted by the chemical industry which, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still maintains that phthalates are both safe and relatively stable within the plastic.

Chemical Industry Insists Decades' Old Safety Levels Are Adequate

Both the National Restaurant Association and the American Chemical Society responded to the study in question saying the phthalate levels found in fast food are "well below" levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems potentially harmful to human health.12

However, EPA safety levels for DEHP have not been revised since 1988. And, according to study author Ami Zota: "The same range of concentrations measured in this [group] overlaps with the range of concentrations that have been measured in some of epidemiological studies that find adverse health effects," so EPA levels may simply be too lenient.

In fact, some researchers suggest there may be NO safe level of phthalates in humans. Dr. Leo Trasande, an associate professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine who has researched phthalates in food, told Civil Eats:13

"No studies in humans have found a safe level of phthalate exposure. We know there are effects of low level exposure. For example, the levels found in this new study are comparable to those previously linked to blood pressure increases14 and metabolic effects15 in children."

Health Risks Associated With Phthalates

Phthalates are one of the groups of "gender-bending" chemicals causing males of all species to become more female. These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales and otters. Scientists suspect phthalates may affect human fertility and reproduction in similar ways.

Animal studies have also linked phthalate exposure to a wide range of other health problems, including the following (see chart below)16,17,18 The reason for their diverse effects has to do with the fact that they mimic natural sex hormones. This is particularly problematic in children who are still growing and developing, as the glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of your body.

Besides being instrumental in sexual function and reproductive processes, your endocrine system also plays a role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism.

✓ Reduced IQ in children19,20 (phthalates may affect the activity of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, which plays an important role in brain development)

✓ "Decreased dysgenesis syndrome" involving cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), hypospadias (birth defect in which opening of urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the end), and oligospermia (low sperm count)

✓ Interference with sexual differentiation in utero

✓ Enlarged prostate glands, testicular cancer, breast cancer, and uterine fibroids

✓ Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)

✓ Numerous hormonal disruptions and metabolic disease

✓ Early or delayed puberty

✓ Disturbed lactation

✓ Toxicity to developing male reproductive systems21,22

✓ Neurodevelopmental delays, inattention, hyperactivity, and symptoms of autism23

✓ Miscarriage and preterm birth

✓ Allergies and respiratory problems24

Phthalates Are Everywhere

Phthalates are among the most pervasive of all known endocrine disrupters. According to EPA estimates, more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year.25

They're primarily used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient, but they can also be found in air fresheners, dryer sheets, and personal care products like shampoo, shower gels, lotions, and makeup. Their prevalence in personal care products is thought to be the reason why women tend to have higher levels of phthalates in their system than men.

Furniture, upholstery, mattresses, and wall coverings can also contain phthalates. They've even been detected in infant formula and baby food (likely because they migrated from the packaging materials). They are also used as "inert" ingredients in pesticides.26

Considering how ubiquitous they are, avoiding phthalates entirely may be near impossible. Being mindful when shopping for food, household, and personal care products can go a long way toward minimizing your exposure, but the risks these chemicals pose really demand a more universal response.

As Zota told Time magazine:27 "Our study helps shed light on one potential way that people can reduce their exposure to these chemicals through their diet, but it also points to a broader problem of widespread chemicals in our food systems that will require many different types of stakeholders to get involved in order to fix it."

Tips to Help You Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

To limit your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA), keep the following guidelines in mind when shopping for food, personal care and household products.

✓ Avoid fast-food restaurant fare and processed goods. Eating a diet focused on locally grown, ideally organic, whole foods cooked from scratch will significantly limit your exposure to not only phthalates and BPA but also a wide array of other chemicals, including synthetic food additives and pesticides.

✓ Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Besides phthalates, avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.

✓ Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans; be aware that even "BPA-free" plastics typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad for you as BPA.

✓ Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics.

EWG's Skin Deep database28 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

✓ Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap as it too contains phthalates that can migrate into your food (especially if you microwave food wrapped in plastic).

✓ Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or glass doors.

✓ Use glass baby bottles and drinking bottles.

✓ Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.

✓ Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants.

Under the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for DEHP of 0.006 mg/dL, or 6 ppb.29

Note that the Safe Drinking Water Act regulates DEHP levels only for public water supplies, not for well water.

✓ Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds — even thousands — of potentially toxic chemicals, including phthalates.

Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.

✓ If you have PVC pipes, you may have DEHP leaching into your water supply. If you have PVC pipe from before 1977, you will definitely want to upgrade to a newer material.

This "early-era" PVC pipe can leach a carcinogenic compound called vinyl chloride monomer into your water. Alternatives to PVC for water piping include ductile iron, high-density polyethylene, concrete, copper, and PEX.30

✓ Consider replacing vinyl flooring with a "greener" material. Also avoid soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens), as there's a good chance it is made from phthalate-containing PVC.

✓ Read the labels and avoid anything containing phthalates. Besides DEHP, also look for DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), BzBP (benzyl butyl phthlate), and DMP (dimethyl phthalate).

Also be wary of anything listing a "fragrance," which often includes phthalates.

✓ 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.

True Costs of Industrial Agriculture

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

"Imagine a situation where all the antibiotics of last resort — which are propping up public health everywhere in the world — become useless." This is a statement made by Patrick Holden, farmer and director of Sustainable Food Trust in an interview with Civil Eats.1

It sums up one of the most pressing issues facing industrial meat production and, consequently, the larger public.

Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would otherwise make their concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) unviable.

The cost of the loss of life that could result if antibiotics become ineffective is immeasurable, but this is just one cost of industrial agriculture. As Holden explained:2

"We'd also need to look at the cost of infectious diseases linked to industrial livestock production, the quality of the meats not being as health-promoting as grass-fed meat, residues of various kinds finding their way into the meat, and the cost to the environment …

… [B]oth of the production itself (particularly water pollution resulting from nitrate pollution) and of the cropping systems that feed the livestock (more nitrate pollution from the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers used to grow acres and acres of corn and soybeans)."

At Least 2 Million Americans Acquire Drug-Resistant Infections Every Year

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, every year at least 2 million Americans acquire drug-resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result. Many others die from conditions that were complicated by antibiotic-resistant infections.3

Bacteria are, in essence, hard-wired to adapt to threats such as antibiotics and, at such point in time when they adapt to resist all of them, infections that were once easily treated will undoubtedly return with renewed force.

CAFOs, in particular, are hotbeds for breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the continuous feeding of low doses of antibiotics to the animals, which allows pathogens to survive, adapt, and eventually, thrive.

One of the worst examples is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which are resistant to the class of antibiotics called carbapenems.4 CRE has been dubbed a "nightmare bacteria" by the CDC's Director Dr. Tom Frieden because of their extreme resilience — it's nearly impossible to kill them.

And it's far from the only "nightmare." According to the CDC, 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is linked to food,5 but a more accurate statement might be linked to food from CAFOs.

For instance, Klebsiella pneumonia are bacteria that can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound and surgical site infections and meningitis. Klebsiella are often found in the human intestinal tract, where they are normally harmless.

But if your immune system is compromised and you get exposed to an especially virulent drug-resistant form, the consequences to you can be deadly. Further, research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that turkey, chicken and pork sold in U.S. grocery stores may contain klebsiella pneumonia.6

Gaps in the Plan to Eliminate Antibiotics for Growth Promotion

In 2011, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) issued a policy paper that recommended significant reductions in the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in agriculture.7

In 2015, the federal Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria was created. Part of its role is to evaluate the implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

One of the latter's goals is to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria, which will require "judicious use" of the drugs.

According to the National Strategy, "Judicious use of antibiotics in healthcare and agricultural settings is essential to slow the emergence of resistance and extend the useful lifetime of effective antibiotics."8

By 2020, the plan calls for the elimination of the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in food-producing animals. It also calls for veterinary oversight for use of medically important antibiotics in the feed or water of food-producing animals. But is this going far — and fast — enough?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked drug companies to remove indications for "feed efficiency" and "weight gain" from the labels of their antibiotic products. They also require veterinarians to oversee any addition of these drugs to animal feed and water.

However, no benchmarks have been set to reduce antibiotic use on CAFOs, and there is no system in place to collect data on how agricultural antibiotics are being used. Without any baseline data, monitoring any process toward reduction will be difficult, if not impossible.

Researchers Look Into Probiotics to Replace Antibiotics

As it becomes increasingly clear that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion must be eliminated, researchers are looking for other ways to promote growth, including the use of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics.

Alejandro Penaloza, Ph.D. of Oklahoma State University, for instance, has tested two strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus in poultry feed. The end result is birds that gain weight with less feed.9 Research published in the journal Poultry Science concluded, for instance that a probiotic product containing Bacillus subtilis:10

" … [M]ay stimulate growth at a later age and may facilitate broilers in reaching their target weight sooner. Therefore, probiotics are recommended as potential alternatives to antimicrobials in chicken diets … "

Separate research also found that probiotics in poultry feed could stimulate the birds' immune system, presumably helping to cut back on illness also without the use of antibiotics.11

Trading antibiotics for probiotics is a massive step in the right direction, but ultimately what is needed is for the animals to have access to their native diets via foraging and grazing.

FDA to Revoke Approval of Carcinogenic Pig Drug

The antibiotic carbadox (brand name Mecadox) has been used for about 40 years to prevent disease in pigs as well as fatten the animals. It's estimated that 40 percent of U.S. pork producers use the drug,12 but that may soon change.

The FDA is taking steps to rescind their approval of the drug after their preliminary risk assessment found it may leave a cancer-causing residue in the meat. Pork liver, which is used to make hot dogs, lunchmeat, liverwurst and certain sausages, may be particularly risky, according to the FDA.

Phibro Animal Health Corp., which manufactures the drug, was reportedly "incensed" by the FDA's move to ban carbadox13 and plans to request a hearing to challenge the FDA and refute the allegations.

The FDA noted that Phibro "failed to provide sufficient scientific data to demonstrate the safety of this drug," adding that:14

"Potential cancer risks are based on an assumed lifetime of consuming pork liver or other pork products containing carbadox residues, and short-term changes in diet are unlikely to affect a person's lifetime risk.

However, removal of the product from the market will reduce the lifetime risk to consumers."

What Does Grass-Fed Meat Have to Do With It?

There are many costs of industrial agriculture beyond the spread of antibiotic-resistant disease — like the buildup of nitrogen fertilizers in the soil and the use of GE grains (doused in glyphosate) as a primary source of feed.

When animals are fed an unnatural diet, such as grains instead of grass, a number of bad outcomes occur. The animals are more prone to illness, for one, and the resulting meat (or dairy products) is nutritionally inferior.

Dairy and meat from cows raised primarily on pasture have been repeatedly shown to be higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene, and the healthy fats omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

It also holds the key to avoiding the environmental destruction that is imminent if industrialized agriculture continues to grow. One important factor that some experts believe is KEY for reversing environmental devastation is to return much of our land to grasslands and build a network of herbivore economics.

There is perhaps no better way to improve the conditions for animals, solve the carbon problem, bring more revenue to farmers, and improve our health by purchasing nutritious foods from properly pastured animals (versus the CAFO model based on monocultures of corn and soy fed to the animals).

By mimicking the natural behavior of migratory herds of wild grazing animals — meaning allowing livestock to graze freely and moving the herd around in specific patterns — farmers can support nature's efforts to regenerate and thrive. This kind of land management system promotes the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by sequestering it back into the soil where it can do a lot of good.

Once in the Earth, the CO2 can be safely stored for hundreds of years and add to the soil's fertility. Returning to more sustainable organic farming methods is also necessary in order to support the regeneration of soils, which, ultimately, dictates how nutritious the food grown in it will be.

What Can You Do?

Rebuilding functional ecosystems from the ground up will restore them to their fullest potential, and this needs to be our overriding focus. Perhaps you can't do anything about how large-scale commercial farms are being run at the moment, but you can make a difference for yourself, for your family and community that might have residual effects.

Buying organic, thereby avoiding any and all GM foods is, I believe, a crucial step. This includes buying grass-fed or pastured animal products, such as beef, chicken, milk, and eggs. Besides that, you can also:

  • Grow your own organic vegetables. Organic gardening isn't something extra you do — in fact it's quite the opposite. It's what you don't do that makes the difference: no chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides on your plate! When you take control of what you eat, you'll naturally enjoy better health, ensure and protecting future generations.
  • Composting is another way to make what you already have work for you in the future. Save those scraps, from egg shells to coffee filters, and use them to feed your vegetable garden.

When shopping for food, be informed regarding where that food was produced. A guide to help you can be found by clicking here. If you take advantage of the farm-fresh sustainability that's becoming more prevalent as people take control of what they're consuming, you'll realize many benefits. You'll know where the foods you and your family eat come from, ensure optimal nutrition, and protect the health of future generations.

As far as antibiotic-resistant disease is concerned, you can help yourself and your community by only purchasing antibiotic-free meats and other foods and using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. This is an important step that I urge everyone to take, even though ultimately the problem of antibiotic resistance needs to be stemmed on a global level.

Robert De Niro Enters the Vaccine Safety Battle

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Can vaccines trigger autism? This is the topic of the film "Vaxxed", which was originally scheduled to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, but was pulled from the lineup on March 26.

The decision has created so much blowback and publicity that whoever was pushing for its removal may have cause to regret it, because it has given the film a much higher public profile than if it had simply been screened as scheduled.

The Tribeca Film Festival was started by Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal in 2001 in an effort to revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks.

Strange as it may seem, according to Rosenthal, it was primarily other filmmakers that were threatening to pull their films out of the prestigious festival unless "Vaxxed" was removed. De Niro says he will look into who lodged the complaints, and why.

De Niro Brings Vaccine Safety Into the Limelight

While De Niro felt pressured to pull the film, he makes it clear it's a film people need to see, noting there are many issues relating to the way the CDC evaluates and monitors the safety of vaccines that are not being spoken about openly — and they should.1

De Niro has an 18-year-old son who is autistic, and he admits he has concerns about vaccines and autism. "There is a link," he says, and draws a parallel between people who have severe, even fatal, reactions to penicillin. De Niro points out that the same might be true for some people who react to vaccines.

He also makes the point that everyone really should have the choice whether or not to vaccinate their children.

Interestingly, while De Niro called for more discussion and more research into the safety of vaccines, Rosenthal appeared openly uncomfortable about the entire topic when she and De Niro were originally interviewed on NBC's "Today Show" on Apr. 132 and even more uncomfortable when she and De Niro appeared in a follow-up interview on the "Today Show" on Apr. 18.3

One of the potential reasons for her discomfort could be related to the fact that her ex-husband, Craig Hatkoff, is a board member of the NYU Child Study Center, which is involved with the research and treatment of child psychiatric disorders. As noted by journalist Jon Rappoport:4

"The NYU Center would never, ever, in a million years imagine that vaccines could cause autism ... A film that claims to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism would be a hideous affront to the NYU Child Study Center, where Craig Hatkoff, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, sits on the Board."

Rosenthal's sister, Pamela Rollins, Ph.D. is also deeply involved in the field of autism, and is a member of the Texas Council for Autism.5 The conventional view is that whatever autism is caused by, it's NOT caused by a medical intervention like vaccines, and to suggest that it might be related simply isn't permitted.

Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has created a petition to encourage Robert De Niro to continue seeking the truth about vaccines. Click the button below to sign the petition.

Click Here Vaccine Shills Coming Out of the Woodwork

A number of industry shills have already written derogatory articles about "Vaxxed." This includes Dr. Paul Offit, whose article6 places the focus squarely on Andrew Wakefield, the director of the film.

Taking aim, Offit makes sure Wakefield's character and qualifications are brought into question in order to try to discredit the information in the film.

No surprises there, as character assassination is part of Offit's modus operandi — regardless of whether he's got his facts straight or not. Offit does not have a good track record for being accurate in his assessment of the facts.

In at least one case, a newspaper was forced to issue a correction, noting that Offit's disparaging statements about CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson (who had written a report critical of vaccines) were actually found to be wholly unsubstantiated and/or false.7

The fact of the matter is, anytime you hear or read terms like debunked, discredited, quack, conspiracy theorist, the science is settled, the debate is settled, the scientific consensus agrees, or the poison is in the dose, you can be more or less assured you're reading agenda-driven propaganda.

The same can be said for anyone relying on Offit as the sole voice of what is true and what is not true about vaccine safety.

There are many respectable researchers out there who are well-qualified to speak about vaccine science, and I have interviewed a number of them. And contrary to what Offit proclaims, the science is far from conclusive when it comes to safety.

Science on Vaccines Is Nowhere Near Settled

Science has shown that when you overuse antibiotics, antibiotic resistance develops. So what is the science of mass vaccination with multiple vaccines? The truth is the science is nowhere near "settled" when it comes to the potential long-term risks of mass vaccination.

Moreover, vaccines are clearly not as effective as previously thought. For example, recurring outbreaks of whooping cough (pertussis) have been linked to vaccine failure, not lack of vaccination. Most recently, 56 people contracted whooping cough in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and every single one of them was vaccinated.8

If you're like most people, you probably thought vaccines the government recommends have been scientifically proven effective.

But every year we hear about many vaccines besides whooping cough failing, including mumps, measles and chicken pox — with a majority of the outbreaks again being among fully vaccinated people. So if the science isn't settled when it comes to effectiveness, perhaps it isn't so settled when it comes to safety.

Just last year, researchers made the remarkable discovery that the brain is actually directly connected to the immune system via previously unknown vessels.9

According to researchers, the discovery of these new vessels has "enormous implications for every neurological disease with an immune component," and that certainly would include autism.

So just how does vaccination affect this system? Anyone who claims we have the answer is either uninformed or lying, as up until last year we didn't even know the brain and immune system were linked!

Every year we make new discoveries about how the body works, yet we're to believe that everything there is to know about how vaccines affect human biology was discovered decades ago?

Did Mass Vaccination Eradicate Measles in the US?

The day after De Niro's appearance on NBC's Today Show, the network issued a follow-up report to counter some of the statements and questions De Niro had brought up.10 For example, they claim that mass vaccination eradicated measles in the U.S. in 2000. Yet in 2014 it reemerged with 667 documented cases, and in 2015 there were 189 cases. According to the CDC, "the majority of patients were unvaccinated," NBC reports.

Here are some facts they didn't tell you: according to the CDC, no one has died from acute measles in the U.S. since 2003. Meanwhile, the MedAlerts database reveals 98 deaths following MMR or MMRV vaccinations occurred between 2003 and 2015. In addition to that, there were 694 reports of MMR or MMRV vaccinations causing disability in that time frame.

Considering the fact that less than 10 percent of vaccine adverse events are ever reported to VAERS, the actual number of measles vaccine-related deaths and disabilities that have occurred since 2003 could be as many as 980 deaths and 6,940 disabilities.

According to NBC: "While no drug or treatment is 100 percent safe, they say vaccines are far, far safer than the diseases they prevent." Considering these statistics, would you agree with the assertion that the MMR vaccine is "far, far safer" than the measles?

Ironically, it seems NBC did exactly what De Niro objected to in the first place — they downplayed the risks, casually tossing out a few reassuring statements, completely ignoring statistics such as the fact that anywhere from 98 to 980 kids died following measles vaccination compared to none from the actual disease. And that's how you know you're listening to propaganda.

Do Studies 'Conclusively Show' There's No Link Between Vaccines and Autism? Download Interview Transcript

The NBC also made sure to note that while parents are "looking for answers," studies have "conclusively shown" there's no link between vaccines and autism. That sounds all good and well, but just because a statement is repeated does not make it true. I've interviewed a number of health and vaccine experts and researchers over the years, and the consensus among them is that safety studies are clearly lacking. As noted by board-certified pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Palevsky:

"… [T]hey are not following children long enough to know whether in three months, six months, three years, six years, or 10 years, there could be some autoimmune antibody or some immune challenge that happens to the body that lingers or that just sits there as a genotypic effect.

There's a change in the genetics, there's a change in the DNA, that doesn't necessarily manifest itself until years later because of other stressors, perhaps even from another vaccine that comes years later. None of those studies have been done, so I don't know how you can say that vaccines are safe.

… We're not looking at the micro-molecular levels to see, 'OK, was there an autoimmune antibody produced? Were there other inflammatory markers produced? Where did those markers manifest? Did they stay in the body? Did they manifest into clinical symptoms? How are they relevant?' None of that science is being done. But we're just saying that vaccines are safe because we've been doing it for so long. And anyone with a good scientific mind would say that's not adequate."

There are biological, genetic, and environmental differences among us, and that is why some of us get an MMR shot or experience measles and do not suffer complications while others do suffer complications and are brain injured or die.

Doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be harmed by a vaccine or an infectious disease, and they cannot guarantee that those who have been vaccinated will not be infected or transmit infection. These are important points that are typically not shared with parents in the decision-making process regarding vaccination.

Even the studies that have been done are not nearly long enough to show what the long-term implications of vaccinations might be.

As mentioned earlier, we now also have brand new information regarding the connection between the brain and the immune system; a connection that may very well change the way we need to study vaccines and their impact on both brain and immune function. Clearly, De Niro is entirely correct when he says it's a complicated matter, and that there are still many questions that need to be answered.

Do Vaccines Deserve Their 'Safety Halo'?

Our genome is comprised of between 5 and 8 percent viral DNA, in what I consider to be a component of synergistic adaption with our environment. Microbial signaling plays a role that we still do not fully understand, yet our federal policies place a halo over all drugs called "vaccines." The assumption is that we understand everything that needs to be understood about them, and that without them we'd be worse off. But where's the proof? As noted by Rappoport:11

"[M]ajor media won't reveal medically-caused death numbers ... So we begin with a few citations ... Journal of the American Medical Association; author, Dr. Barbara Starfield, revered public health expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; 'Is US health really the best in the world?' Starfield reported that the US medical system kills 225,000 Americans a year; 106,000 as a result of FDA-approved medical drugs ... Extrapolate the numbers to a decade: that's 2.25 million deaths...

BMJ June 7, 201212... Lenzer refers to a report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices: 'It calculated that in 2011 prescription drugs were associated with two to four million people in the US experiencing 'serious, disabling, or fatal injuries, including 128,000 deaths.'' The report called this 'one of the most significant perils to humans resulting from human activity.'

...The FDA knows and it isn't saying anything about it, because the FDA certifies, as safe and effective, all the medical drugs that are routinely maiming and killing Americans ..."

If other drugs cause well over 100,000 deaths a year, where's the evidence to show vaccines don't have a similar track record? The reason why the media refuses to discuss these safety issues is because their pharmaceutical advertisers have the ability to punish them financially. But there's also the overarching issue of credibility. If these statistics were widely known and recognized, who would accept any assurance of drug safety anymore? As Rappoport notes, it would sound something like this:

"Well, the system I represent kills 2.25 million people per decade, and maims between 20 and 40 million more people per decade, but I want to assure you this vaccine presents no problems at all. It's incredibly safe' ... Every single pronouncement, on any subject, issued via the medical cartel's Ministry of Truth would fall on disbelieving ears, and only increase general outrage."

The Fight for Improved Vaccine Safety Continues

The fact of the matter is, there's still a lot we do not know when it comes to vaccines and their effects. Our knowledge is still very limited when it comes to the microbial world, as well as our own immune system.

To protect the vaccine program and the fantastic profits generated from it, any and all "cracks in the wall" must therefore be sealed, and the primary way this is done is by way of censoring, ridicule, and character assassination. They want mandatory vaccines from cradle to grave, and in order to implement that, all dissenters must be destroyed.

In the case of De Niro, they may have met their match, as he's not one to be intimidated and dismissed so easily — although a number of industry "bobble heads" have already tried to make it seem as though he's just another confused parent of an autistic child looking for a scapegoat.

They are wrong, of course, and efforts to paint De Niro as a fool just might backfire in the most spectacular way. In the end, as more and more parents see the tragedy of autism unfold in their own life, how long can the charade be maintained?

Fluoride Fascists Push Mass Medication

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

For any debate to be successful, there must be integrity on both sides as well as respect. This is lacking in discussions about water fluoridation, in which name-calling and disrespect are par for the course — particularly against anyone who dare speak out against it.

Stephen Peckham, director of the Centre for Health Service Studies at the University of Kent and a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Toronto, knows this all too well.

In 2014, he and a colleague published a study that concluded, "available evidence suggests that fluoride has a potential to cause major adverse human health problems, while having only a modest dental caries prevention effect."1

They recommended that water fluoridation be reconsidered globally, a trend that's already increasing as the notion of mass-medicating populations with a toxic chemical falls out of favor.

Since 2010, more than 150 communities and countries — including Israel, Portland, Oregon, and Calgary in Alberta, Canada — have rejected water fluoridation2 — so it's not as though Peckham's findings came as a complete surprise.

Still, his 2014 publication, and another published in 2015 that linked fluoridated water consumption to thyroid dysfunction, were met by a series of "poisonous attacks." "Nothing prepared me for the ferocity around fluoridation," Peckham told The Guardian. "I've been hugely and personally attacked."3

History of Attacking Opponents to Water Fluoridation Dates Back to 'Dr. Strangelove' Film

In the water fluoridation debate, those who spoke out against it have long been labeled as quacks or zealots. This can be traced back decades, in part due to Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film "Dr. Strangelove."

In the film, General Jack D. Ripper tries to stop a Communist conspiracy to harm Americans with fluoridated water and at one point states:

"Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?"

Of course, water fluoridation was not a communist plot — it was started by the U.S. Public Health Service. But the film pokes fun at the John Birch Society, an extreme right-wing group that happened to be anti-fluoridation.

So, of course, anyone at the time who dared speak out against fluoridation was also ruled to be a fanatic, a radical or just a lunatic — even when they could point to legitimate science to back up their claims.

Historian Attacked for Daring to Speak Against Water Fluoridation

Even before "Dr. Strangelove," Catherine Carstairs, Ph.D., of the department of History at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, argued in the American Journal of Public Health that:4

" … [S]ome early concerns about the toxicity of fluoride were put aside as evidence regarding the effectiveness and safety of water fluoridation mounted and as the opposition was taken over by people with little standing in the scientific, medical, and dental communities.

The sense of optimism that infused postwar science and the desire of dentists to have a magic bullet that could wipe out tooth decay also affected the scientific debate."

By the way, Carstairs too was attacked for her historical account, as was the scientific journal that "dared" to publish it. "You don't usually get this kind of attention as an historian," Carstairs told The Guardian. "It was like, how dare you say anything against water fluoridation."5

Hull, England Mulls Water Fluoridation Despite Opposition From Locals

The vast majority (97 percent) of Western Europe has rejected water fluoridation, but Hull, England is considering adding it to the water supply. No new fluoridation plans have been passed in the U.K. in 20 years — despite more than 60 proposals in that period.6

However, the Hull city council has commissioned an engineering feasibility study on fluoridation, the results of which they plan to use to determine how, when and whether to move forward.

The proposal has been met with intense opposition from locals who believe adding fluoride to the water is "mass medication without consent."

While the city has a high rate of tooth decay — 43 percent of the area's 5-year-olds have tooth decay compared with 28 percent nationally7 — the evidence that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay is very weak.

The vast majority of countries neither fluoridate their water nor their salt, but according to the World Health Organization, tooth decay in 12-year-olds is coming down as fast, if not faster, in non-fluoridated countries as it is in fluoridated countries.8

Hull is but one example of cities debating water fluoridation. Another is Cornwall, Ontario, where the water was fluoridated until an equipment failure occurred in 2013. Paul Connett, Ph.D., a chemist and executive director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), lobbied the city council against the return of fluoridation in the city.

"You can't control who it goes to. It goes to babies, to sick people, people with poor nutrition … and it violates the individual's right to informed consent to medication," Connett said, in addition to pointing out studies linking fluoride to lower IQ.9

The Evidence Is In: Water Fluoridation May Not Prevent Cavities

In 2015, the Cochrane Collaboration, which releases comprehensive reviews regarded as the gold standard in assessing public health policies, turned their attention to water fluoridation and its effects on cavities.10

In a review of every fluoridation study they could find, only three since 1975, looked at the effectiveness of water fluoridation at reducing tooth decay among the general population and had high enough quality to be included.

The studies found fluoridation does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth.11 Further, in the two studies since 1975 that examined the effectiveness of fluoridation in reducing cavities in baby teeth, no significant reduction was noted there either.

Study co-author Anne-Marie Glenny, a health science researcher at Manchester University in the United Kingdom, told Newsweek:12

"From the review, we're unable to determine whether water fluoridation has an impact on caries [cavity] levels in adults."

While they couldn't prove that water fluoridation is beneficial, they did find that it causes harm. About 12 percent of those living in fluoridated areas had dental fluorosis that was an "aesthetic concern."

Dental fluorosis is a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled, and it's one of the first signs of over-exposure to fluoride.

Eventually, it can result in badly damaged teeth, and, worse, it can also be an indication the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, have been overexposed to fluoride as well.

Fluoride May Increase Lead in Drinking Water

The toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan made headlines after Virginia Tech scientists discovered Flint's tap water was contaminated with lead — in some cases twice the level considered to be toxic waste — as well as other toxins and dangerous bacteria.

Tragic as the Flint catastrophe is, it is, sadly, not an isolated event. Children in other states, from New York to Pennsylvania to Illinois, are also at risk of lead poisoning, some even more so than the children in Flint. Many are simply unaware there's a problem with their water.

Many are also unaware that the presence of fluoride in the water may make any lead issues even worse. Originally, the fluoride used to fluoridate water supplies came from the aluminum and atomic bomb industries.

A couple of years later, however, they realized there was another fluoride product that was much more readily available. The reason it was so readily accessible was because it was a truly hazardous waste that was very hard to get rid of, namely hydrogen fluoride from the phosphate fertilizer industry.

This fluoride gas is captured in the scrubber system and turned into fluorosilicic acid (FSA) — which is the primary source of fluoride used for water fluoridation. This phosphate fertilizer byproduct also typically contains arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, plus a variety of other contaminants that are part of the phosphate ore — it's also corrosive. According to FAN:13

"Some of the first indications that FSA could leach lead into water came in the early 1990s when water departments in Maryland and Washington noticed significant drops in water lead levels immediately after terminating their fluoridation programs.

More recently, water departments have confirmed that the addition of FSA can increase the acidity of water, which in turn makes the water more corrosive … in Thunder Bay, Canada, the addition of FSA was found to reduce the pH of the city's soft water (from 7.54 to 7.27), nearly tripling the rate of lead leaching from pipes …

[H]ighly diluted levels of FSA can leach lead from pipes and common brass fixtures, even in pH-adjusted water, and this effect can be unpredictably amplified in the presence of other common water treatment chemicals.

Childsmile Initiative: Alternative to Water Fluoridation Shows Success in Scotland

In 2010, Scotland rolled out the Childsmile Initiative, which was created by dentist Lorna MacPherson, Ph.D. at the request of the country's chief dental officer, as an alternative to water fluoridation. The initiative hands out free toothbrushes and toothpaste to children and offers to fluoride varnish applications per year (also of dubious efficacy but still less harmful than a lifetime of consuming fluoridated water).

The program also offers daily supervised teeth brushing to children attending nursery (preschool) and those in primary schools in low-income areas. It even provides dietary advice for preventing tooth decay. Indeed, the best way to prevent cavities is not through fluoride, but by addressing your diet. One of the keys to oral health is eating a traditional diet or real foods, rich in fresh, unprocessed vegetables, nuts, pastured eggs and grass-fed meats.

The Childsmile Initiative has been extremely successful, saving the country more than $7 million a year in treatment costs.14 The number of primary school children with no obvious dental decay has also increased, from 54 percent in 2006 to 68 percent in 2016. Macpherson told The Guardian:15

"There was no appetite to take the fluoridation route, but we needed to do something. So we agreed with the chief dental officer to be pragmatic … It's a more holistic approach … The universal part, the equivalent of water fluoridation if you like, is the nursery toothbrushing.

Then for the children more at risk of caries, we offer additional support. We call it proportionate universalism — something for everyone, but proportionate to their needs."

Prevention and Education Are Needed to Prevent Cavities

New recommendations released by the University of Calgary School of Public Policy also championed the use of prevention and education to prevent early childhood cavities, noting water fluoridation wouldn't be needed if such measures were effectively practiced.

The paper's authors even pointed out that water fluoridation is not preventing tooth decay, as areas with water fluoridation, such as Edmonton, still have a high rate of early childhood cavities. The recommendations call for increased education for parents on the importance of proper feeding and dental hygiene for infants, as well as for health care professionals to discuss these issues with patients. Co-author Jennifer Zwicker, Ph.D. told 660 News:16

"We're recommending that at baby visits ... and any kind of interface with public health nurses or pediatricians, just explaining to parents, you need to be cleaning their gums, you need to be brushing their teeth, just so you're not ending up with children going to the emergency room needing surgery for dental pain."

Who Are the Real 'Conspiracy Theorists?'

In 2015, even National Geographic stopped so low as to suggest anyone who questions water fluoridation is a conspiracy theorist.17 Yet, in 2014 Lancet Neurology released a study, authored by a Harvard doctor, among others, that classified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin.18

The meta-analysis clearly showed that children exposed to fluoride in drinking water had lower IQ, by an average of seven points, in areas with raised concentrations. And the majority of the studies had fluoride levels of less than 4 milligrams (mg) per liter, which is under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) allowable level.

Meanwhile, we have visible evidence (dental fluorosis) that U.S. children are being overexposed to fluoride. That fluoride doesn't just stop at the teeth; it's being taken internally. It's no conspiracy theory; it's a fact that deserves urgent attention and immediate policy review.

Who are the real denialists about fluoride? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA), which continue to tout water fluoridation as "safe and effective" even as evidence to the contrary pours in around them.

Eventually, and it appears sooner rather than later, they are going to have to face the damage they have caused to so many children by demanding water fluoridation for all — and continuing to do so rather than admitting their mistake.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Potassium

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

While it may seem like just another compound among thousands, potassium is a mineral with innumerable advantages to keep your body functioning. Found in almost every natural food, especially green leafy ones, potassium is considered a major mineral that is required in somewhat large amounts.

Fact: according to one survey, only about 5 percent of the U.S. population consumes enough fruits and vegetables to receive the right amount of potassium. The Institute of Medicine's recommendation for adequate potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day.

However, the average reported intake for people 2 years and older was 2,640 mg per day, a number that hasn't changed much in the last 20 years.1

The problem is that many people in the U.S. today maintain diets that make little room for keeping up their potassium levels. When a daily doughnut or a bowl of Fruit Loops is considered breakfast, and a pile of fries and an energy drink is a person's idea of a good lunch, things start breaking down rather quickly.

The upshot is, maintaining the optimum levels of potassium is crucial not just to health, but to life. If those levels are out of balance, vital functions are adversely affected, so it's a good thing this mineral is present, to varying degrees, in so many different types of foods.

Ways Potassium Maintains Your Health, While a Deficiency Doesn't

Potassium is an electrolyte, which, as its name suggests, helps conduct electrical charges in your body, along with other electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and chloride. Eating potassium-rich foods is important to help maintain a balance between the chemical and electrical processes in your body.

The main benefits realized by eating foods containing this mineral are somewhat interrelated. Among other things, potassium:

  • Helps your muscles contract, including your heart muscle. Because potassium helps your heart beat regularly, problems with an irregular heartbeat may be stabilized by eating more foods containing this mineral.
  • Studies indicate that higher potassium intake is linked to lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease2

  • Regulates the fluids in your body and, along with them, your electrolyte balance3
  • Transmits nerve impulses. One review revealed that maintaining the stability between potassium and sodium releases nerve impulses; a "differential" compromises the system and leads to diseases and physiological imbalances4
  • Improves blood pressure. In another study, more than 80 percent of people on hypertension medication were able to cut their doses in half just by increasing their dietary intake of potassium5
  • Balances low blood sugar. A decrease in potassium can trigger a plunge in blood sugar, causing trembling, sweating, weakness and confusion. Potassium intake can provide almost instantaneous relief6

Conversely, potassium intake that is too low compromises your bone strength and nervous system function, and contributes to conditions like kidney stones and high blood pressure. Signs of a deficiency include:

✓ Muscle weakness

✓ Fatigue

✓ Constipation

✓ Irritability

✓ Abdominal pain

✓ Cramps

✓ Drowsiness

✓ Confusion

✓ Abnormal heartbeat

✓ Paralysis

What Has Potassium Done for You Lately?

Here's one way normalizing your potassium levels plays out within your body: with a deficiency, your blood pressure rises; when you begin to eat the right amount of foods containing high levels of potassium, it tends to lower.

In a chain of events that's fairly simple, when you eat the right vegetables, your cholesterol level tends to drop and with it your risk of developing heart disease. According to an article in The Epoch Times:7

"Excess dietary sodium is linked with high blood pressure in some people, whose kidneys are unable to process sodium as efficiently as others. As a result, a diet that is relatively high in potassium and low in sodium is linked with a lower risk of developing hypertension and of experiencing a stroke."

Additionally, a study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers reported that increasing the intake of potassium lowers your stroke risk:8

"A prospective study of more than 43,000 men followed for eight years found that men in the top quintile (1/5) of dietary potassium intake (median intake, 4,300 mg/day) were only 62 percent as likely to have a stroke than those in the lowest quintile of potassium intake (median intake, 2,400 mg/day)."9

Potassium Supplementation: Should You or Shouldn't You?

Only 2 percent of U.S. adults get the recommended daily amount of 4,700 mg of potassium.10 This is especially problematic because potassium is a nutrient that needs to be kept in proper balance with sodium in your blood.

If you consume too much sodium, which is common if you eat a lot of processed foods, you'll have an increased need for potassium.

Deficiency may be related to taking diuretic medication, however, anyone who eats a poor diet — an excess of processed foods and not enough fresh, whole foods — is potentially at risk of inadequate potassium levels.

It should be noted that your body generally does a remarkable job of regulating levels on its own, without any outside help from a supplement, but also, too much potassium in the system is a rarity. Additionally, potassium supplements are not recommended for anyone taking an ACE inhibitor or who has kidney disease.11

The fact is, if you want to increase your potassium, you will do much better by eating more foods that contain it, as opposed to taking a synthetic supplement with potential side effects, especially since the amount obtained from supplements is negligible, according to Sonya Angelone, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

"Low potassium syndrome, or hypokalemia, is usually either a side effect of antibiotics or diuretics or a symptom of a more serious condition like kidney disease or hyperthyroidism, and treating the underlying condition will often resolve the deficiency."12

Diarrhea, vomiting and overactive sweat glands can also cause low potassium syndrome. Other individuals most apt to develop hypokalemia are usually people who:

✓ Have an eating disorder

✓ Take a diuretic medication

✓ Have had bariatric surgery

✓ Have AIDS

✓ Are alcoholic

✓ Use too many laxatives

The amount of potassium in multivitamins and supplements is not to exceed 100 mg because people with kidney disease may have serious reactions, and it may also fail to play well with high blood pressure medications, laxatives and over-the-counter painkillers.

What Foods Bring Potassium to Your Table?

Many are aware that bananas contain high amounts of potassium, but several other foods exceed the amount they provide. An avocado contains twice as much at 975 mg, for instance. On a very long list of all the foods contributing potassium, vegetables and fruits are generally nearest the top, followed by dairy products and meats such as poultry and fish, as this chart13 indicates:

Food  Potassium (mg) Per 100 grams Amount  Potassium (mg) per amount

Beet greens, cooked

903

½ cup

650

Avocado

485

1

975

Baked potato w/ skin

531

1 medium

919

Black beans, cooked

374

½ cup

322

Banana

358

1 small

362

Salmon, canned

336

3 oz.

286

Carrots, baby, raw

320 

10

320

Spinach, cooked, frozen

301

½ cup

309

Broccoli, cooked, fresh

291

½ cup

268

Cantaloupe

267

1 cup

417

Tomato, fresh

237 

½ medium

146

Orange

181

1 medium

237

Yogurt, plain, low-fat

234

6 oz. container

398

The George Mateljan Foundation noted in an article about potassium that:

"Some legumes, fish, and dairy products can also make important contributions to our daily potassium intake; yet, because these foods have more calories, they are not as highly rated by our Nutrient Richness System. For example, Swiss chard and lima beans both contain nearly 1000 milligrams of potassium, but because a serving of lima beans contains six times as many calories than a serving of chard, the nutrient richness of the chard is higher."14

A list concentrating on nutrient-dense foods with high potassium content for the lowest caloric intake is topped by beet greens, Swiss chard and spinach, all rated as "excellent," as they provide 37, 27 and 24 percent of your daily requirement, respectively.15 The next 10, garnering a "very good" rating regarding the daily requirement, are:

Food Percentage of your daily requirement  

Bok choy

18 percent

Beets

15 percent

Brussels sprouts

14 percent

Broccoli

13 percent

Cantaloupe    

12 percent

Tomatoes

12 percent

Asparagus

12 percent

Cabbage

11 percent

Carrots

11 percent

Fennel

10 percent

Summer squash 

10 percent

Leg Cramps and Muscle Spasms: How Potassium Can Save the Day

What many don't realize is that sodium and potassium work in tandem. The former is required for the latter to maintain its equilibrium in an optimized system.

While you expect to benefit from foods containing high amounts of potassium, many manufacturers add so much sodium that the ratio is 2:1, completely offsetting any potential health benefit. It's generally recommended that you consume five times more potassium than sodium. If your ratio is out of balance:

  • First, ditch all processed foods, which are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients
  • Eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically and locally grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium
  • When using added salt, use a natural salt. I believe Himalayan salt may be the most ideal, as it contains lower sodium and higher potassium levels compared to other salts

Low potassium levels have precipitated frequent and painful muscle spasms and leg cramps in some people. While medical doctors often prescribe an anti-spasm or anti-inflammatory medication, eating more potassium-rich foods may help prevent leg cramps in the long run.

Saturated Fat Finally Vindicated in Long Buried Study

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In all likelihood your doctor and nearly every public health authority has told you to stay away from saturated fats, warning you it will raise your LDL cholesterol and clog your arteries, putting you at increased risk for heart disease.

The 2015 USDA dietary guidelines also still advise limiting saturated fats to a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories, warning of similar dangers.

Such recommendations are in fact based on an unproven hypothesis, and a large number of studies that have reexamined the theory have shown that saturated fat do not increase your risk of heart disease.

Interestingly, the latest study1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 to emerge showing conventional wisdom on saturated fat has been completely wrong was buried, and is actually four decades old.

One of the original researchers was Ancel Keys—the man who initially proposed the link between saturated fat and heart disease—and it’s believed he was  largely responsible for suppressing and not disclosing this damning study, as it doesn’t support his original hypothesis.

Failure to Publish Clinical Research Can Undermine Truth

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. The study was unearthed by Christopher Ramsden, who discovered the missing research data among the possessions of a deceased scientist. As reported by STAT:9

“Ramsden, of the National Institutes of Health, unearthed raw data from a 40-year-old study, which challenges the dogma that eating vegetable fats instead of animal fats is good for the heart.

The study, the largest gold-standard experiment testing that idea, found the opposite, Ramsden and his colleagues reported...in BMJ10... [H]is discovery and analysis of long-lost data underline how the failure to publish the results of clinical trials can undermine truth.”

Largest Most Rigorous Trial of Its Kind Finally Vindicates Saturated Fat

The study,11 conducted from 1968 to 1973, included 9,423 participants between the ages of 20 and 97, making it the largest trial of its kind. All participants were also residents of state mental hospitals and a nursing home in which all meals were prepared for them, making it one of the most rigorously detailed studies.

Many nutritional studies have the drawback of relying on self-reported consumption based on food questionnaires. Oftentimes people simply cannot remember what or how much they ate on any given day.

Here, the meals of every person were carefully logged. On the average, each patient was followed for about 15 months. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups, receiving either:

  1. A then-standard diet containing 18.5 percent saturated fat from animal fats such as milk, cheese, beef and shortening, and 5 percent unsaturated fat, based on total calories
  2. A diet in which 50 percent of the saturated fats were replaced with vegetable oil (a mainstay in today’s processed foods) and corn oil margarine (total 9 percent saturated fat and 13 percent unsaturated fat)

After analyzing the data, Ramsden and his team found that vegetable oils lowered total cholesterol levels by an average of 14 percent after one year. However, this lower cholesterol 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.

Vegetable Oil Nearly Doubled Rates of Heart Attack

The vegetable oil also did not result in fewer cases of atherosclerosis or heart attacks.

On the contrary, autopsies revealed both groups had similar levels of arterial plaque, but 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. According to the authors:

“Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with linoleic acid [vegetable oil] effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes.

Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid.”

Why Vegetable Oils Would Be Expected to Increase Disease

If you understand molecular biology, the reason why vegetable oils cause these kinds of observations are clear, and hold true even if they’re organically grown and pristinely processed. In fact it would be precisely what you’d expect.

Why? Because these 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.

And that’s in the BEST case scenario. The reality is far worse as most of these vegetable oils are highly processed and grown as GMO crops, loaded with toxic herbicide residues like Roundup. 

Most of these chemicals were not even invented when this BMJ study was done, so if it was repeated today with modern vegetable oils I’m highly confident the adverse effects of vegetable oils would be even  more pronounced.

In addition, while your body does need some omega-6, most get far too much of it compared to omega-3, and this lopsided ratio can also have adverse health consequences.

As noted in the Huffington Post,12 “this nuance isn’t reflected in the most up-to-date nutritional advice in the federal dietary guidelines, which state simply we should eat less saturated fat and more polyunsaturated fat without mention of omega-6 acids.”

Thirdly, when heated, vegetable oils tend to oxidize. According to Dr. Fred Kummerow13, who has researched lipids and heart disease for eight decades, oxidized cholesterol is the real culprit that causes heart disease. By triggering inflammation, they promote the clogging of arteries and associated cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks.

Four Similar Trials Fail to Show Benefit of Vegetable Oil

The researchers also analyzed four other trials14 looking at the effects of replacing saturated fats with vegetable oils. They too failed to show any benefit. In fact, replacing saturated fats with linoleic acid-rich vegetable oils increased mortality risk from all causes, including coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

According to the authors:

“An updated meta-analysis of linoleic acid intervention trials showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit. These findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega 6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats.”

In short, vegetable oils do not reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. Put another way, saturated fats do not increase your risk of dying from heart disease either. Moreover, reducing cholesterol is not necessarily a sign of improved health; it may actually raise your risk of death. As noted by Ramsden:15

 “One would expect that the more you lowered cholesterol, the better the outcome. But in this case the opposite association was found. The greater degree of cholesterol-lowering was associated with a higher, rather than a lower, risk of death.”

Other Studies Debunking Saturated Fat Myth  

Other studies discrediting the notion that cutting saturated fat will help you live longer include the following. All of these studies used “hard endpoints,” which are considered the most reliable measurements. While the benefits for cardiovascular mortality and risk-factor reduction were mixed, none of these trials showed that restricting saturated fats reduced total mortality.

  • The Oslo Study (1968): A study of 412 men, aged 30-64 years, found eating a diet low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats had no influence on rates of sudden death.16
  • L.A. Veterans Study (1969): A study of 850 elderly men that lasted for six years and is widely used to support the diet-heart hypothesis. No significant difference was found in rates of sudden death or heart attack among men eating a mostly animal-foods diet and those eating a high-vegetable-oil diet. However, more non-cardiac deaths, including from cancer, were seen in the vegetable-oil group.17
  • London Soybean Oil Trial (1968): A study of nearly 400 men that lasted for two to seven years. No difference in heart attack rate was found between men following a diet low in saturated fats and high in soybean oil and those following an ordinary diet.18
  • The U.S. Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT): Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this is another study that is highly misleading.  It compared mortality rates and eating habits of over 12,000 men, and the finding that was widely publicized was that people who ate a low saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet had a marginal reduction in coronary heart disease. However, their mortality from all causes was higher.19
Saturated Fats Provide Many Important Health Benefits and Few Risks

A 2015 meta-analysis20 published in the British Medical Journal also found no association between high levels of saturated fat in the diet and heart disease. Nor did they find an association between saturated fat consumption and other life-threatening diseases like stroke or type 2 diabetes.

Yet another meta-analysis21 that pooled data from 21 studies and included nearly 348,000 adults found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat. Indeed, far from posing a risk, it’s known that saturated fats provide a number of important health benefits, including the following:

✓ Providing building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances

✓ Mineral absorption, such as calcium

✓ Carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K

✓ Conversion of carotene into vitamin A

✓ Helping to lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)

✓ Acts as antiviral agent (caprylic acid)

✓ Optimal “clean” fuel for your brain and mitochondria

✓ Provides satiety

✓ Modulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer (butyric acid)

Sugar, Not Fat, is the Root of Ill Health

The fear of healthy dietary fat is actually part of why we’re currently struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease of epidemic proportions. As noted by Dr. Mark Hyman,22 director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine and author of “Eat Fat, Get Thin”: “For 35 years we’ve been told to eat low fat, but the result is that we’ve cut fat and eaten a ton of carbs and sugar, which accounts for the corresponding surge in obesity, diabetes and other related ills over the same time period.”

Indeed, to improve our health, we really need to change how we think about dietary fat, and stop treating it like an enemy. Journalist Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” has also stated that when researchers went back and analyzed23 some of the original data from Dr. Ancel Keys’ Seven Countries Study 24 (which was the basis for the saturated fat phobia) they found that heart disease was most correlated with sugar intake, not saturated fat as Keys claimed.

How Saturated Fat May Offer Protection Against Heart Disease

Despite all this evidence, some still like to refer to studies showing that reducing saturated fat can lower your levels of LDL cholesterol (often referred to as "bad" cholesterol). However, confusion has crept in here as well. The terms LDL and HDL refer to lipoproteins, i.e. proteins that carry cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein while HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, and more important than their overall level is the size of these particles.

  • HDL cholesterol is actually linked to a lower risk of heart disease, which is why measurements of total cholesterol are useless when it comes to measuring such risk. If your total cholesterol is “high” because you have a lot of HDL, it’s no indication of increased heart risks; rather, it’s likely protective.
  • Large, fluffy LDL particles do not contribute to heart disease, and eating saturated fat may actually change the small, dense LDL in your body into the healthier large, fluffy LDL, thereby providing a protective effect.25,26
  • Small, dense LDL particles are easily oxidized, which may trigger heart disease. People with high levels of small, dense LDL have triple the risk of heart disease as people with high levels of large, fluffy LDL.27 Besides harmful trans fats, small, dense LDL particles are increased by eating refined sugar and carbohydrates, such as bread, bagels and soda.28 Together, trans fats and refined carbs do far more harm to your body than saturated fat ever could.

In 2013, an editorial in the British Medical Journal described how the avoidance of saturated fat actually promotes poor health in a number of ways, including through their association with LDL cholesterol.29 As stated by the author Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital in London:

"The aspect of dietary saturated fat that is believed to have the greatest influence on cardiovascular risk is elevated concentrations of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Yet the reduction in LDL cholesterol from reducing saturated fat intake seems to be specific to large, buoyant (type A) LDL particles, when in factit is the small, dense (type B) particles (responsive to carbohydrate intake) that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.Indeed, recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective."

Saturated Fats Are Important for Optimal Health

Dietary fat serves as fuel and is a foundational structural component of your biology. Moreover, if you’re trying to lose weight, training your body to access your body fat is key (or else you cannot shed it), and supplying your body with dietary fat is an important part of this process. In order to make this conversion to allow your body to burn fat rather than sugar as its primary fuel, you need to:

1. Restrict net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber) to under 50 grams per day

2. Limit protein to 1 gram per kilo of lean body mass, and

3. Only consume high quality fat sources. Most Americans consume harmful fats like processed vegetable oils, which will invariably make your health worse.

So when we’re talking about healthy dietary fats, we’re referring to natural, unprocessed fat, found in real foods like raw grassfed dairy, meats, pastured eggs, seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado, coconut oil and raw cacao (a phenomenal source of healthy saturated fats and many beneficial polyphenols).

So, in summary, saturated fats:

  • Increase your LDL levels, but they increase the large fluffy particles that are NOT associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Increase your HDL levels, which also compensates for any increase in LDL.
  • Do NOT cause heart disease as made clear in all the above referenced studies.
  • 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 nonfiber carbs.

Selenium — What Is it and Where Do I Get It?

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Selenium is an essential mineral found in varying concentrations in soil. It’s found in foods such as Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and garlic, but the amount in any given food depends on the selenium content of the soil in which it was grown.

Selenium is also found in water and so also occurs in varying quantities in seafood, but despite its relatively common appearance in foods, many people are lacking this important mineral.

It’s estimated that 0.5 to 1 billion people worldwide suffer from selenium deficiency while even more consume less selenium than is necessary to provide protection against cancer and severe infectious diseases.1

A Little Bit of Selenium Goes a Long Way Toward Protecting Your Health

Your body has only a small requirement for selenium. The minimum daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is 55 micrograms (mcg) for adults, and this is one nutrient where you don’t want too much.

While small amounts provide important benefits, taking too much (for instance, 400 mcg daily) has potentially been linked to an increased risk of diabetes.2 That being said, unless you’re taking a supplement, it’s difficult to “overdose” on selenium that’s naturally occurring in foods.

As mentioned, many people struggle to get enough. This is particularly true if you eat a primarily processed-food diet, as selenium is destroyed by refining and processing.3 Why is it so important to be sure your body has optimal selenium levels?

It acts as a powerful antioxidant (and its antioxidant effects increase when combined with vitamin E4).

Selenium’s Antioxidant Effects May Help Prevent Chronic Disease

Selenium, therefore, plays an important role in preventing chronic diseases and is also important for thyroid and immune system function. According to research published in the journal Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease:5

Selenium [Se] is critical to the health of living organisms. It has been postulated that the vast majority of the world's population has suboptimal Se intakes, and hence is at increased risk of several diseases such as cancer, heart disease, viral diseases and other conditions that involve increased levels of oxidative stress. 

There are several disease conditions (e.g. diabetes, several infectious diseases and possibly asthma) where … good Se status in combination with an adequate intake of other antioxidative nutrients may help cells and tissues better to cope with harmful oxidative stress caused.

For instance, by some toxic heavy metal or other environmental pollutants, by hyperglycaemia, or by the immune system's reaction to infection. 
Efforts to increase Se concentration in the diet are urgent for both current and future generations.”

Low Selenium Levels May Increase Your Cancer Risk

Low selenium levels are linked with an increased risk of death from cancer and all causes.6

In 2015, research published in the International Journal of Cancer revealed that higher selenium levels are linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, particularly in women. The study also found that selenium status is suboptimal in many Europeans.7

In 2016, a meta-analysis of 69 studies also found that high selenium exposure (from food but not from supplements) had a protective effect on cancer risk and decreased the risk of the following types of cancer:8

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Esophageal
  • Gastric
  • Prostate

Selenium has also been linked to a reduced risk of bladder cancer, although one of the most well-known studies regarding cancer and selenium was a 1996 study by Dr. Larry Clark of the University of Arizona, which linked the mineral to a lower risk of cancer death.

In the study of 1,300 older people, the occurrence of cancer among those who took 200 micrograms of selenium daily for about seven years was reduced by 42 percent compared to those given a placebo.9 Cancer deaths for those taking the selenium were cut almost in half.

In addition, the men who took selenium had 63 percent fewer prostate cancers, 58 percent fewer colorectal cancers, 46 percent fewer lung cancers and overall 37 percent fewer cancers. Selenium was even found to reduce the risk of lung cancer to a greater degree than stopping smoking.

The cancer reductions were so significant that the blinded phase of the trial was stopped early, and no cases of selenium toxicity occurred. Some of the scientific explanations for selenium’s anti-cancer effects include:

  • Increased antioxidant protection and immune system support
  • Regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • Triggering DNA repair in damaged cells
  • Suppression of growth of blood vessels supplying nutrients to the cancer
  • Inhibition of tumor cell invasion
Selenium for Immune System Support

It’s thought that selenium may exert its anti-cancer effects not only due to its antioxidant properties but also because of its ability to boost immune system function. Selenium may stimulate the immune system so it’s able to eliminate early cancers, for instance.

Further, a study in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences found the combination of selenium and beta-glucans (long-chain polysaccharides found in mushrooms) is particularly beneficial. The researchers concluded:10

Using two different murine models of cancer, we showed that the Se/glucan combination strongly suppressed the growth of cancer, mostly probably via stimulation of immunity.A combination of glucan with Se offers superior stimulation of immunity and inhibition of cancer growth.”

Aside from cancer, this immune stimulation may be beneficial for prevention of infectious diseases. Selenium is often mentioned in concert with HIV, as HIV-infected individuals often have low selenium levels.

Some studies have also found an association between selenium deficiency and progression to AIDS, while others have found selenium supplementation may reduce hospitalizations and improve white blood cell counts among this population.11

Selenium May Fight Viral and Bacterial Infections

It may also be useful for other viral infections, including influenza, as well as potentially bacterial infections. Researchers wrote in Advances in Nutrition:12

Viral and bacterial infections are often associated with deficiencies in macronutrients and micronutrients, including the essential trace element selenium. In selenium deficiency, benign strains of Coxsackie and influenza viruses can mutate to highly pathogenic strains.

Dietary supplementation to provide adequate or supranutritional selenium supply has been proposed to confer health benefits for patients suffering from some viral diseases, most notably with respect to HIV and influenza A virus (IAV) infections.

In addition, selenium-containing multimicronutrient supplements improved several clinical and lifestyle variables in patients coinfected with HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Selenium status may affect the function of cells of both adaptive and innate immunity.”

One way selenium influences immune response is via selenoproteins (selenium-containing proteins). Individual selenoproteins are known to regulate inflammation and immunity, while it’s known that adequate levels of selenium are necessary to initiate immunity and also for regulating excessive immune responses and chronic inflammation.13

Selenium for Thyroid Health, Asthma and Fertility

The wide range of selenium’s effects is still being unraveled, but it’s known that selenium plays a role in thyroid function. Your thyroid contains more selenium (per gram of tissue) than any other organ and expresses specific selenoproteins.14

Researchers are looking into selenium’s role in Hashimoto’s disease15 and Graves’ disease as well as its use in pregnant women with anti-TPO (thyroid peroxidase) antibodies. There is also some indication that selenium may be useful for people with chronic asthma, and observational studies have demonstrated that people with chronic asthma may have lower levels of selenium than those without.16

Low selenium levels during pregnancy may also play a role in childhood asthma, although this is still being investigated.17 Selenium has also been found to have a favorable effect on male fertility,18 as it is required for sperm motility. Among women, there is suggestion that it may reduce the risk of miscarriage.19 Beyond this, selenium deficiency has been linked to adverse mood states.

Best Food Sources of Selenium

Selenium is a nutrient you should strive to get via your diet. There is still quite a bit of contradictory and confusing research surrounding selenium and its role in human health, and much of this stems from the use of selenium supplements.

Researchers writing in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health even went so far as to ask whether we’re witnessing a Copernican revolution in regard to selenium, as there is some evidence suggesting it may have toxic effects at lower concentrations than was previously believed.20 They even noted that selenium’s “upregulation of antioxidant proteins … may be a manifestation of self-induced oxidative stress.”

Until more is understood about selenium’s role in the body, it makes sense to focus on eating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, which will naturally optimize your selenium levels (along with other important nutrients). Good food sources of selenium include:

✓ Brazil nuts (which average about 70 to 90 micrograms per nut)

✓ Sardines

✓ Wild-caught Alaskan salmon

✓ Pastured organic eggs

✓ Sunflower seeds

✓ Pasture-raised organic chicken and turkey

✓ Liver (lamb or beef)

✓ Chia seeds

✓ Mushrooms

In the U.S., selenium levels in soil tend to be relatively high (northern Nebraska and the Dakotas have soil that is especially high in selenium). However, in other areas such as China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, soil levels of selenium tend to be much lower, and if you eat food primarily grown in these areas, a high-quality selenium supplement may be beneficial. Even parts of the U.S. have been identified as selenium-deficient regions, including:

  • The Pacific Northwest
  • Parts of the Great Lakes region and east of it toward New England
  • Parts of the Atlantic Coast

If you live in one of these areas and focus your diet on locally grown foods, you may be low in selenium. You may also have low levels of selenium if you smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, have had weight loss surgery, or have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If you choose to take a selenium supplement for health maintenance, you should use it in a high-quality bioavailable form in a low dose (such as 200 mcg).

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