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Mercola Natural Health Articles Get a healthy dose of natural health news that you can actually use! In this podcast, Dr. Joseph Mercola provides you with practical lifestyle tips and important health alerts. Dr. Mercola is an internationally renowned natural health physician and a doctor of osteopathy. He has made significant milestones in his mission to bring people practical solutions to their health problems. A New York Times Best Selling Author, Dr. Mercola is author of The No-Grain Diet and Take Control of Your Health. He has also been featured in TIME magazine, LA Times, CNN, Fox News, ABC News with Peter Jennings, Today Show and other major media resources. To know more about him visit www.mercola.com.

  • Malabar Spinach — An Easy-Grow Summer Green That Loves the Heat
    published on June 22nd, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Malabar spinach 1,2,3,4 is an interesting alternative to regular spinach. It grows like a perennial jungle vine, and thrives in the summer heat when most other greens tend to turn bitter and dry, easily reaching heights of 10 to 35 feet in a season. Trained on a trellis, with frequent pruning, you can turn it into a decorative edible hedge. Also known under the names Indian, creeping, Asian, Vietnamese, Surinam, Ceylonese and Chinese spinach, Malabar spinach comes in two varieties:5

    • Basella rubra, which has purple-red vines and pink flowers
    • Basella alba, which has white to pale green stems and white flowers

    Characteristics

    The red variety is more visually dramatic, but other than that, it grows and tastes nearly identical to its white counterpart. Full-grown leaves are about the size of your palm, with a slight crunchiness and a hint of lemon-pepper flavor that take on a more characteristic spinach flavor when cooked, although it's less bitter than regular spinach, thanks to it being lower in oxalic acid. Beware of overcooking, however, as heated leaves will eventually turn into unappetizing slime.

    Young, immature leaves can also be harvested and used fresh in salads or added to a stir-fry. Toward the end of summer, the plant will bloom, at which time the taste of the leaves starts to degrade. So, be sure to harvest leaves continually before blooming.

    When you break the leaves off, you may notice a gooey substance at the cut site. This is due to the high mucilage content of the leaves and stems. Mucilage is high in fiber, resembling apple pectin in that regard. Malabar spinach is also a good source of the following nutrients. The rubra (red) variety tends to be a bit higher in the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein, courtesy of its red and purple colors.

    Vitamin A

    Vitamin C

    Iron

    Calcium

    Protein

    Magnesium

    Phosphorous

    Potassium

    Beta-carotene

    Lutein

    How to Grow Malabar Spinach

    Perhaps one of the most appealing characteristics of Malabar spinach is that it thrives in the high heat of summer. If you live at an elevation of 1,500 feet or higher, all the better still, as it prefers higher elevations. Another boon is the fact that few pests seem interested in Malabar spinach, so pest maintenance is minimal. A light spray of neem oil will usually be sufficient.

    Since it's a perennial plant, you only need to plant it once. If you allow the seeds to drop toward the end of summer, the plant will regrow the following year. The exception is if you live in temperate climates. Here, you'll have to grow it as an annual as the cold will kill it.

    I typically don't get freezes where I live, so I planted Malabar spinach a few years ago and now it pops up all over my property. So, you won't ever have to worry about purchasing new seeds but will need to control it from growing in places where you don't want it.

    • To encourage germination, soak your seeds overnight, then plant in well-draining soil in full sunlight, and be sure to keep the soil moist until the seeds have germinated. Alternatively, start the seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost date, then transplant into your garden once nighttime temperatures remain steadily above 50 degrees F (10 degrees C)
    • Add a generous amount of organic soil conditioner into your soil before planting, along with a slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer
    • Sow your seeds at a depth of one-fourth inch, approximately 18 inches apart. If planting rows, you need at least a 9-inch row gap
    • Once the seeds have germinated, pour liquid fertilizer over the seedlings, thoroughly wetting the leaves. Add a layer of straw or mulch to retain moisture in the soil
    • The plant prefers high humidity, so if you live in a dry climate, you may need to invest in a mister, or keep it in a greenhouse. Since it grows like a vine, you'll also need some sort of trellis for it to climb on

    Harvesting

    Harvesting is easy. Simply cut the stems of the leaves with a pair of scissors. Aggressive harvesting will encourage the plant to get bushier, so the more you eat, the more it will provide. Pruning the length of the vine will also encourage bushiness, so if you prefer a hedge-style bush rather than a long vine, just keep pruning it.

    You can harvest leaves continuously through the summer and fall, until it starts to bloom. Many prefer young, tender leaves over more mature ones, as the flavor tends to be milder. Mature leaves are also higher in mucilage, the sliminess of which some might find unappetizing. The flowers are followed by purple berries that can be crushed and used as a natural food coloring.

    Cooking Suggestions

    You can use Malabar spinach in the same way you use regular spinach — raw in salads, lightly steamed or cooked, or used in stews, soups and stir-fries. The following buttery Malabar spinach recipe is from DIY Natural.6

    Ingredient

    • 3 to 4 cups washed Malabar spinach
    • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
    • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
    • Pepper to taste
    • Juice from one lime, to taste

    Directions

    1. Heat a small amount of water in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the Malabar spinach and steam until leaves are tender and wilted.
    2. Drain off the liquid and add the butter or coconut oil. Lightly toss to coat the leaves evenly, and braise for a few minutes. Remove from heat and add the lime, salt and pepper to taste. Best served warm.



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  • How to Grow Basil
    published on June 22nd, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Savory green pesto sauce, tomato and mozzarella salad, nearly any egg dish, wild-caught Alaskan salmon — these and many more meal options take on a fresh tweak of flavor when basil is part of the equation.

    If you've ever headed for the produce section of your grocery store to pick up a small package of basil, though, you know how expensive it can be. Growing your own is super easy, even if all you have in the way of a garden spot is a balcony, deck or patio. Basil (ocimum basilicum, a member of the mint family) grows beautifully in pots or in your backyard garden, offering a pretty pop of greenery that you can snip off and pop into any number of delicious recipes.

    Gardener's World features a video clip of horticulturalist Monty Don, who says no other herb goes quite as well with tomatoes as basil, as the basil cuts through the acidity of the tomato to create a perfect flavor balance. Further, tomatoes and basil share the same growing standards and conditions:

    "It's worth remembering that basil is not a Mediterranean herb. It comes from tropical Asia. It likes heat, and it likes a certain amount of moisture, too (it doesn't like to be sodden), and the harsher it is, the more water it can take. If you're watering your tomatoes right, you'll guarantee you're watering your basil right."1

    Another key point he stresses is that basil, as a "sub shrub," requires a lot of space to grow — perhaps more than it may appear to require. "It's a generous plant," he adds. "It wants to grow strongly and vigorously, especially if given enough heat."

    Dried basil will do in a pinch, but once you try fresh, green basil leaves, you learn the flavor is much more intense. Used in combination with other herbs, such as thyme, meats and soups take on a deeper, more complex essence. Interestingly, cold dishes with chopped basil in the mix lend a fresh, spring-like quality. While fresh basil is the most fragrant and flavorful, you can dry basil leaves quickly by following these simple directions:

    Directions

    1. Warm your oven to 140 degrees F
    2. Place a single layer of basil leaves on a baking sheet
    3. Place your pan in the oven and turn the oven off
    4. Let the basil leaves set for 20 minutes, then remove and allow to cool
    5. Store immediately in airtight jars or zip-close bags, away from sunlight

    Reasons to Grow Basil: Incredible Health Benefits

    Medical News Today2 notes that the pronounced clove scent of the most common variety, sweet basil, is due to its high concentration of the phytochemical and essential oil eugenol. Lime and lemon basil emit a strong citrus scent because of their high concentration of limonene. A Purdue University study3 showed that the essential oils in basil are "rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins."

    The highest antioxidant levels were found in sweet basil. Holy (or sacred) basil (ocimum sanctum, known as "tulsi" in Hindi) is mentioned in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for "pain, fever, vomiting, bronchitis, earache and diseases of the heart and blood," but its use for treating diabetes, arthritis and asthma4 is supported by scores of pharmacological studies.5

    Between the high amounts of vitamins A, C and K and manganese, and several less common essential oils such as cinnamate, geraniol, citronellol, linalool, terpineol and pinene (which may support its purported ability to act as an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic circles), studies show basil yields a wide array of impressive health benefits:6

    Immune-boosting

    Anti-inflammatory

    Blood vessel-protecting

    Diabetes-preventing7

    Pain-reducing (analgesic)

    Adaptogen (stress-fighting)8

    Liver-protective (hepatoprotective)

    Fever-reducing (antipyretic)

    Cancer-fighting9

    Antioxidant

    Age-fighting

    Antibiotic/ Antimicrobial10

    Basil Growing Tips and Tricks

    Choosing the variety (or varieties) of basil you want to grow depends on what you'd like to use it for. According to Rodale's Organic Life, you can start plants from seed in a south-facing window because, again, it prefers a warm, sunny spot. Basil is considered a tropical plant, so it doesn't do well in cool conditions. Because basil plants are light lovers, grow lights or heating mats to simulate the warmth of sunlight — 70 degrees Fahrenheit is about right — really helps until it gets warm enough for them to be transplanted outside.

    Planting seeds directly in the soil is another option after the last frost (granted, a tricky thing to determine), making sure the plants will be in full sun and based in soil that drains easily. You can also buy basil "starts," or seedlings, which usually come in a small pot, but they're not intended to stay there for long because the roots like room to grow, among other things.

    You could say harvesting frequently is like a shot in the arm to a basil plant. Snipping the right leaves at the right time is key for encouraging bushier growth. One hint for ensuring the freshest taste is to make sure the plant doesn't flower, which triggers an end to the plant's life cycle, called bolting. Once it starts that process, there's not a lot you can do to halt it. Natural Living Ideas explains:

    "If you keep your basil in the tiny pot it came in, you are not going to have a large, luxurious plant, even if you provide water and fertilizers regularly. The roots need space to stretch out, so transplant it into a larger pot or plant it out in the garden. Most gardening advice regarding basil supports keeping the plant compact and bushy. But large plants provide more leaves … Even a small quantity of pesto requires quite a large amount of leaves.

    If you want a large basil plant, refrain from pinching the tip when the plant is 6 inches tall, as most gardeners advise. Allow the plant to grow fast and furious until it is between 12 [and] 15 inches tall … Remove around 2 inches of the stem tip. This promotes branching from lower nodes. The side branches can be allowed to grow and fill out before their tips are pinched."11

    To reiterate, here are some basics basil needs to thrive:

    Requirements

    • Full sun
    • Well-drained soil that's not packed too hard
    • Adequate space between plants encourages roots to spread and helps prevent fungal diseases
    • Use of compost, aged manure and/or other organic material
    • Plenty of water, but not swimming in it

    Once Your Basil Is Growing Outside

    Once your seeds have sprouted, or the bedding plants you've purchased are in the ground (following the aforementioned directions) a few things are necessary to make sure your basil plants keep producing:

    • Mulch around the plants to retain moisture, especially in warmer weather
    • Harvest leaves to encourage bushier growth
    • Pinch off flower buds frequently so plant energy is expended on the leaves

    Rodale's Organic Life notes that to keep fresh basil at the ready all year-round:

    "Grow a few basil plants in containers so you can bring them indoors before fall frost. Or make a second sowing outdoors in June in order to have small plants to pot up and bring indoors for winter. As frost nears, you can also cut off some end shoots in the garden and root them in water to be potted later."12

    Basil Varieties From Cinnamon to Lime

    You'll discover several different types of basil, some with distinctive flavors or colors compared to sweet basil, the most common variety. Some are more purple or burgundy than green, such as dark opal, which is very aromatic, or the red rubin. Exotic Thai sweet basil cultivars, such as Siam queen with its hint of licorice or anise, can be heated to higher temperatures for certain dishes. Here are a few more basil offerings to consider:

    • The lettuce leaf variety of basil has larger-than-average leaves, so they require a bit more space in the garden
    • Green ruffles basil looks just as one might expect, looks as lovely in salads as it does in the garden, and grows 20 to 24 inches high in comparison with most other basils, which reach a top height of 12 to 18 inches
    • Lemon basil, easily identified when you crush a leaf between your fingers and smell its lemony scent, is wonderful for chicken dishes and grilled vegetables
    • Holy basil, which Hindus consider to be sacred, is another variety with a sweet, musky fragrance, often cooked into Indian dishes, as eating it raw it's slightly bitter

    Cinnamon basil is one variation that can be used in fruit dishes, such as stewed pears, or in stir-fries and grilled veggies. You'll also note basil varieties featuring hints of cinnamon, clove and lime.

    What to Do About Pests or Fungal Diseases Attacking Your Basil

    It may seem a little archaic, but to keep pests like Japanese beetles at bay, picking them off by hand is easiest. Other pests include slugs and aphids. The three represent the incredible diversity of pests that can make lace out of your basil leaves. While you want to deal with those smaller critters with haste, you also want to do the job naturally. Chemical pesticides can be much more damaging to the environment, including water, soil and air, than you may realize.

    There are safer, more natural options. According to Beyond Pesticides, boric acid formulated from a natural mineral is "an effective insect stomach poison" that, when properly applied, has low toxicity in comparison. Boric acid is another solution:

    "While boric acid is somewhat slower acting than other materials, it is highly effective over a long period of time. But remember, all pesticides are poisons designed to kill, and should be handled carefully.

    Boric acid should be applied only in areas where it will not come in contact with people … Applicators should wear protective clothing, gloves and a filter mask. Other least toxic pesticides include diatomaceous earth, vinegar, oil of lemon eucalyptus, Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), neem and horticultural soaps."13

    Fungal diseases such as fusarium wilt, black spot or powdery mildew can be treated with a simple, natural solution, Gardening Know How14 advises, containing:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup of vegetable oil
    • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap (not for dishwashers)
    • 1 quart warm water
    • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

    Directions

    Mix the ingredients and spray affected plants (or those that likely will be) thoroughly on the tops, bottoms and stems of plants using a spray bottle. Watch the weather to avoid treating if rain is imminent, and avoid spraying blossoms that bees, hummingbirds or other desirable critters enjoy.




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  • Jump-Start Your Health With Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
    published on June 21st, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    Lemon eucalyptus oil, the common name for one of the natural oils obtained from the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus plant, has gained popularity as an insect repellant. This use is important when you consider the dangers of DEET and other toxic solutions and want to steer clear of them. Learn more about the benefits, composition and proper therapeutic and practical applications of this plant oil.

    What Is Lemon Eucalyptus Oil?

    Lemon eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus plant, also known as Eucalyptus citriodora or Corymbia citriodora.

    The lemon eucalyptus is a tall tree that grows up to 50 meters (164 feet) tall and comes from the temperate and tropical northeastern Australia.1 Its name is derived from the Latin term citriodorus meaning "lemon-scented," and is in demand for structural timber and for honey production. It is also popular in horticulture both in and outside of Australia.

    The oil — particularly p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD), its synthetic version with pesticidal properties — is used as an alternative to toxic mosquito repellents and most likely works by masking the environmental cues that mosquitoes use to locate their target.2 While the term "PMD" is often used interchangeably with lemon eucalyptus oil, know that it is different from the "pure" unrefined oil, which is typically used in making fragrances.

    The refined lemon eucalyptus oil, which comprises related compounds from the plant, is known by its registered tradename "Citriodiol." However, it also has generic names varying by area, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE) in the United States and PMD rich botanic oil (PMDRBO) in Europe.

    Uses of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

    Usually extracted through steam distillation, the essential oil3 has a pale yellow color and a thin consistency. It smells sweet, lemony and fresh, with a woody hint. Note, however, that this pure oil is not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an insect repellant.

    PMD, or the refined version, on the other hand, has a long history of use but only recently became important as a commercial repellent in the country. For many years, it has been used in China as a product called Quwenling, meaning "effective repellent of mosquitoes." American researchers initiated product investigation in the early 1990s and identified PMD as the active ingredient.

    In 2000, the EPA registered oil of lemon eucalyptus or PMD as a "biopesticide repellent," meaning it is derived from natural materials. The resulting products can be applied to human skin and clothing for repelling insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies and gnats. They are formulated as a spray or a lotion.

    Composition of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

    The essential oil of the lemon-scented gum mainly consists of citronellal (80 percent), produced mostly in Brazil and China.4 The refined oil's citronellal is converted into cis- and trans-isomers of PMD, a process that naturally occurs as the leaves of the plant age. Pure PMD is synthesized for commercial production from synthetic citronellal. Many other compounds have been identified and extracted from the lemon eucalyptus, including limonene and linalool.

    Benefits of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

    Julia Lawless's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils identifies a number of health benefits of lemon eucalyptus oil, which may help against arthritis, bronchitis, catarrh, cold sores, colds, coughing, fever, flu, poor circulation and sinusitis. Lemon eucalyptus or PMD can be a safe alternative to DEET, the most popular synthetic commercial insect repellent today. DEET has been documented to cause serious adverse effects, especially in children.

    When it was tested on humans in Tanzania, PMD gave complete protection from biting for between six and 7.75 hours. Compared to DEET, there was no significant difference in efficacy and duration of protection when used against the Anopheles mosquito, the chief malaria vector in Africa. Other studies have also demonstrated its protection against the biting midge, deer tick and the stable fly.

    Burning the leaves of the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus tree has therefore been shown as a cost-effective means of household protection, alongside the use of mosquito nets, in sub-Sahara Africa.

    How to Make Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

    You can make a homemade mosquito repellent if you want to stay safe from DEET and other strong, toxic chemicals in most commercial repellents in the U.S. Lemon eucalyptus oil is considered key in making one, although you may also use citronella oil or cinnamon oil. Here is a recipe from Backpacking Spirit:5

    Make your own mosquito repellent consisting of around 10 percent lemon eucalyptus oil. If you are using the essential ("pure") oil, note that it does not mix with water and will therefore require a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil.

    Procedure

    1. Obtain an appropriately sized bottle for travel; a 100 to 200 ml (3.3 to 6.76 ounces) bottle will be a good choice. You may also go for a bottle that has a spritzer nozzle for easy application.
    2. Choose your carrier oil or alcohol.
    3. Use a measuring jug for more precise measurements.
    4. For the 10 percent essential oil, if you are using a 100 ml bottle, mix 90 ml of your chosen liquid and 10 ml of lemon eucalyptus oil. If you are using a 200 ml bottle, mix 180 ml of liquid and 20 ml of essential oil.
    5. Shake the bottle thoroughly before use.
    6. Spritz onto skin and rub in.

    Tips:

    1. Store in a dark, cool place wherever possible and keep out of direct sunlight.
    2. Avoid the eye area.
    3. Reapply after exercise, swimming and from time to time throughout the day if you are outside.
    4. Get medical advice from your doctor about the best mosquito repellent for you. I advise not using eucalyptus lemon oil if you are pregnant.

    How Does Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Work?

    Lemon eucalyptus oil is applied topically on your skin for preventing mosquito and deer tick bites and may help with treating muscle spasms, toenail fungus (onychomycosis) and osteoarthritis and other joint pain. It is also added as an ingredient in chest rubs, which may help with congestion. Slate recommends6 this oil for repelling bugs:

    "For full-on chemophobes who seek a registered product, there is lemon eucalyptus oil, which works as well as low concentrations of DEET and may last for up to six hours. For adventurous chemophobes, there is PMD, the synthetic version of lemon eucalyptus. Both are generally safe, although neither should be used on children under the age of 3 (just another example of the fact that natural doesn't always equal benign)."

    Is Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Safe?

    Lemon eucalyptus oil is generally safe for most adults when applied to skin as a mosquito repellent. Note, though, that some individuals might have a skin reaction to it. On the other hand, I strongly discourage internal applications of lemon eucalyptus oil as it is unsafe. Chest rubs for congestion contain lemon eucalyptus oil and can cause seizures and death if eaten.7

    I advise pregnant and breast-feeding women to avoid using this oil, as not enough is known about the safety of using it while pregnant or breast-feeding.

    Side Effects of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

    In EPA studies using laboratory animals, PMD showed no adverse effects, except for eye irritation. The technical material is categorized as an eye irritant, while the diluted end use products are estimated to be milder. Although rare, skin irritations can occur. As with any herbal oil, I suggest doing a skin patch test first to check if you're allergic to it.

    As in using other plant or herbal oils, I recommend consulting a qualified natural healthcare practitioner if you are looking for therapeutic effects and benefits.




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  • Probiotics Help Reduce Symptoms of Depression
    published on June 21st, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    When it comes to mental health, most assume the brain is in charge. In reality, your gut may be calling the shots. Interestingly enough, in the 1800s and early 1900s, it was thought that waste in your colon could produce infections that lead to depression. As it turns out, they weren't too far off the mark.

    Scientific advances now suggest your state of mind is influenced, if not largely directed, by the microflora in your gut, and probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are being thought of as "the new antidepressants." However, while it may be tempting to trade one pill for another, I urge you to consider taking a more comprehensive approach.

    Taking a probiotic supplement may be helpful, but if you're still eating the same junk as before, it's not likely to make a significant difference. The key, really, is to eat a healthy diet. Limiting or eliminating sugar is absolutely essential, as adding healthy fats will provide your brain with much-needed fuel, while fermented foods will give you the beneficial bacteria you need.

    Add to that daily movement and regular exercise, good sleep and sensible sun exposure, and you're really giving your body the basic building blocks it needs for optimal performance — both physically and mentally. A probiotic supplement cannot achieve this all on its own. That said, studies have demonstrated just how important healthy gut bacteria are when it comes to treating depression.

    Probiotics Reduce Symptoms of Depression

    Most recently, a small, randomized, placebo-controlled study1,2,3,4 involving 44 adults diagnosed with both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and mild to moderate depression or anxiety found that the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 provided depression relief. Half of the participants received the probiotic while the other half received a placebo. At six weeks, 64 percent of the treatment group had reduced depression scores compared to 32 percent of the control group.

    Those receiving the probiotic also reported fewer symptoms of IBS and improved overall quality of life. At the end of 10 weeks, approximately twice as many in the treatment group were still reporting lower levels of depression.

    Interestingly, functional MRI scans revealed a link between reductions in depression score and actual changes in brain activity, specifically in areas involved in mood regulation, such as the amygdala. As noted by Dr. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the study:5

    "We know that one part of the brain, the amygdala, tends to be red-hot in people with depression, and it seemed to cool down with this intervention. It provides more scientific believability that something in the brain, at a very biological level, seems to be affected by this probiotic."

    Co-author Dr. Premysl Bercik, gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences, added:

    "This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases …6

    [T]he patients on probiotics also reported improvement in their IBS symptoms … at the end of the probiotic treatment, but not four weeks later when the beneficial effect on depression was still present.

    So one can argue that the primary effect of this probiotic is on depression. Also, the amygdala is one of the important centers in processing abdominal pain so if the probiotic altered the function of this brain region, it could also improve the gut symptoms of IBS (the pain is the hallmark symptom of IBS)."7

    Compelling Links Between Depression and Gut Inflammation

    A number of studies have confirmed that gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression, and that healthy bacteria may be an important part of the treatment. For example, a Hungarian scientific review8 published in 2011 made the following observations:

    1. Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammation, as well as autoimmune, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor in all of these. Thus, "depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome"

    2. A number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammation with probiotics, omega-3 fats and vitamins B and D also improves symptoms of depression by attenuating proinflammatory stimuli to your brain9

    3. Research suggests the primary cause of inflammation may be dysfunction of the "gut-brain axis."10 The gut-brain connection is well-recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, so this isn't all that surprising. Your gut acts as a second brain, and is in fact created from the identical tissue as your brain during gestation.

    If you consume loads of processed foods and sugars, your gut bacteria will be severely compromised because processed foods tend to decimate healthy microflora. This leaves a void that is filled by disease-causing pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi that instead promote inflammation

    Previous research has also demonstrated that probiotics have the power to alter your brain function,11 so the featured study is not alone in that regard. And, while Bercik and his team failed to find a reduction in anxiety, a study done on mice12 found that Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 — the same strain used in Bercik's study — normalized anxiety-like behavior in animals that had infectious colitis. Here, the anti-anxiety effect was attributed to modulation of the vagal pathways within the gut-brain axis.

    Other research13 has shown the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus has a marked effect on GABA levels — an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes — in certain brain regions, lowering the stress-induced hormone corticosterone. As a result, anxiety- and depression-related behavior was lessened. Strong connections between the gut microbiome and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have also been found.14

    How Sugar Influences Your Risk of Depression

    A high-sugar diet can trigger or contribute to depression in a number of ways, including by:

    • Distorting your microflora by nourishing microbes that are detrimental to health
    • Triggering a cascade of chemical reactions in your body known to promote chronic inflammation
    • Elevating your insulin level, which can have a detrimental impact on your mood and mental health by causing higher levels of glutamate to be secreted in your brain. Glutamate has been linked to agitation, depression, anger, anxiety and panic attacks
    • Suppressing activity of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth hormone that promotes healthy neurons. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, which animal models suggest might actually be causative

    There's a great book on this subject written in 1986, "Sugar Blues," by William Duffy, that delves into the sugar-depression link in great detail. He even advocated eliminating sugar from the diet of the mentally ill, stating it could be an effective treatment in and of itself for some people.

    I too believe the dietary answer for treating depression starts with limiting or eliminating refined sugars (especially processed fructose) and grains, as all forms of sugar feed bad bacteria in your gut and promote systemic-wide inflammation. As a standard recommendation, I suggest limiting your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.

    Gluten has also been implicated in depression and other, more serious, mental health problems such as schizophrenia. Bear in mind that if you're sensitive to gluten, it's not enough to cut down. You need to remove it from your diet entirely. The easiest way to eliminate most sugars (and gluten, if need be) is to avoid processed foods and cook from scratch using whole ingredients.

    Cutting out processed foods will also significantly reduce your exposure to genetically engineered ingredients, which have also been implicated in chronic inflammation and the destruction of healthy gut bacteria, as well as pesticides such as glyphosate — another culprit in both microbiome disruption and inflammation. Keep in mind that conventionally grown foods may also be contaminated with pesticide residues so, ideally, aim for as organic a diet as you can.

    Dietary Keys to Overcoming Depression

    Aside from cutting out sugars and gluten, make sure you're getting sufficient amounts of healthy fats in your diet. Examples of healthy saturated fats include avocados, butter made from raw, grass fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts and grass fed meats. You may need as much as 50 to 80 percent of your daily calories in the form of healthy fats such as these.

    Beyond that, animal-based omega-3 fat may be the single most important nutrient to battle depression.15,16 It's particularly important when combating more serious problems such as psychosis and schizophrenia.17,18,19,20 Good sources of animal-based omega-3 include fatty fish that are also low in mercury, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies.

    If you don't eat these types of fish on a regular basis, it would be advisable to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement such as krill oil, which has a number of benefits over fish oil, including better absorption. Lastly, to rebalance your gut flora, be sure to eat plenty of:

    Fiber-rich foods. This means more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Recent research confirms that in order to work, the fiber must be unprocessed.21,22 Processed supplement fiber such as inulin powder does not provide gut bacteria with what they need.

    Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp and chia seeds are other excellent fiber sources.

    Fermented foods. By eating a variety of fermented and cultured foods such as fermented vegetables (all kinds), kombucha, kefir or raw yogurt, natto, kimchi and others, you will get a wide assortment of beneficial bacteria into your system. If you, for whatever reason, will not eat fermented foods, then a high-quality probiotic supplement is certainly recommended. Just understand you probably will not reap as great a benefit as if you were actually eating fermented foods.

    Specific Nutrients for Brain Health

    Over the years, I've interviewed a number of doctors and scientists about the treatment of mental health problems using nutrition, including Dr. Hyla Cass, a practicing psychiatrist who uses integrative medicine in her practice, Dr. Andrew Saul, co-author of a book about the use of niacin (vitamin B-3) for psychiatric disorders, and William Walsh, Ph.D., author of "Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain," who specializes in nutrient-based psychiatry.

    My interview with Walsh has not yet been published, but is of particular interest here. For this reason, I've included a condensed version of that interview above. According to Walsh, there's compelling evidence to suggest nutrients involved in the synthesis or functioning of neurotransmitters dictate mental function. Hence certain nutritional deficiencies can significantly raise your risk of mental health problems. Nutrients that have a powerful influence on mental health include:

    Zinc

    Copper

    Selenium

    Niacin (B-3)

    Vitamin B-6

    Vitamin B-1223,24,25

    Folates

    Vitamin D26 (Having a level below 20 ng/mL can raise your risk of depression by 85 percent compared to having a level greater than 30 ng/mL27)

    S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)

    Walsh is convinced the use of psychiatric medication will eventually fade away as we learn more about normalizing brain function through nutritional interventions. "These powerful drugs … they do not normalize the brain. They cause an abnormal condition," he warns. "They might correct depression or anxiety, but you wind up with something that's not normal."

    Cass also stresses that one of the first steps in treating any mental health problem is to clean up your diet and address your gut health. Otherwise, you'll have virtually no chance of getting emotionally and mentally well. On her website, CassMD.com, you can find a free report called "Reclaim Your Brain," which details nutritional substances you can use to address conditions like anxiety and depression.

    21st Century Reason for Depression

    The pervasive use of microwave radiation in the form of cellphones, cellphone towers, Wi-Fi, computers, smart meters, baby monitors and the expected trillion internet things all invade our cells with energy exposure they were never designed for.

    It turns out that the mechanism of how they cause harm was revealed about five years ago by Professor Emeritus Martin Pall, whom I hope to interview soon. He found out that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) trigger voltage gated calcium channels (VGCC) in the cell membranes that will release a million calcium ions per second from the extracellular space into the intracellular space.

    The tissues with the highest density of these VGCCs are the brain and the pacemaker cells in the heart. When the sensors in the brain are activated, they will release hormones and neurotransmitters that have been shown to be associated with depression and anxiety, and there is fairly strong evidence they are a major factor in autism. They can also lead to cardiac arrhythmias.

    So, if you suffer with depression, anxiety, autism or arrhythmias, it would be wise to be obsessive about limiting your EMF exposure. I will be discussing far more about this in the future but there are many online resources that can guide you until then, one of them being my recent video below.

    Holistic Mental Health Suggestions

    Regardless of the nature or severity of your mental health problem, to successfully treat it, you need to take a holistic approach. Rarely will medication be the sole answer. So, in addition to all of the dietary guidelines already offered, here are some other suggestions — presented in no particular order — to keep in mind.

    Withdraw from antidepressants and other drugs under medical supervision

    If you're currently on an antidepressant and want to get off it, ideally, you'll want to have the cooperation of your prescribing physician. Some are happy to help you to withdraw if they know you're going to be responsible about it. Others may not want to bother, or they don't believe you can get off the medication. You may need to do some reading in order to be better prepared.

    Dr. Joseph Glennmullen from Harvard wrote a very helpful book on how to withdraw called "The Antidepressant Solution." You can also turn to an organization with a referral list of doctors who practice more biologically or naturally, such as the American College for Advancement in Medicine at www.ACAM.org. Once you have the cooperation of your prescribing physician, start lowering the dosage of the medication you're taking.

    There are protocols for gradually reducing the dose that your doctor should be well aware of. At the same time, start taking a low-dose multivitamin.

    If you're quitting an SSRI under doctor supervision, Cass suggests going on a low dose of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). For bipolar patients, holistic psychiatrists may prescribe nutritional supplements such as fish oil (omega-3 fats), inositol, niacin, tryptophan and others, depending on your individual needs.

    Address Lyme disease

    Bipolar symptoms can be related to Lyme disease, so if Lyme infection is present, that needs to be addressed, also by a more functionally oriented doctor.

    Combat inflammation

    Keeping inflammation in check is an important part of any effective treatment plan. If you're gluten-sensitive, you will need to remove all gluten from your diet. A food sensitivity test can help ascertain this. Switching to a whole food diet as described in my optimal nutrition plan can go a long way toward lowering the inflammation level in your body and brain.

    Optimize your vitamin D level

    Vitamin D deficiency is another important biological factor that can play a significant role in mental health, especially depression. A double-blind randomized trial28 published in 2008 concluded that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D "seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship." Recent research29 also claims that low vitamin D levels appear to be associated with suicide attempts.

    Ideally, maintain your vitamin D level between 40 and 60 ng/mL year-round. If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure to maintain this level, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement would be advisable. Just remember to also take vitamin K2 and magnesium, as these all work together.

    Clean up your sleep hygiene

    Make sure you're getting enough high-quality sleep, as sleep is essential for optimal mood and mental health. A fitness tracker that tracks your sleep can be a useful tool. The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be due to elevated cortisol levels, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may want to get your saliva cortisol level tested with an Adrenal Stress Index test.

    If you're already taking hormones, you can try applying a small dab of progesterone cream on your neck or face when you awaken during the night and can't fall back to sleep. Another alternative is to take adaptogens, herbal products that help lower cortisol and adjust your body to stress. There are also other excellent herbs and amino acids that help you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Meditation can also help.

    Add to your self-help tool bag

    Slowing your breathing using the Butyeko breathing technique increases your partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2), which has enormous psychological benefits and can quickly reduce anxiety.

    Other helpful tools include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is well-studied, and research shows it can significantly increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotional states. One scientific review found statistically significant benefits in using EFT for anxiety, depression, PTSD and phobias.

    EFT is particularly effective for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.30,31 For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT32 to help guide you through the process.

    Beneficial herbs and supplements: SAMe, 5-HTP and St. John's Wort

    SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression. 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants.

    When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. The evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression33 — more than can be said about antidepressants.

    One caveat: Anxiety and social phobias can worsen with higher levels of serotonin, so it may be contraindicated if your anxiety is already high. St. John's Wort has also been shown to provide relief from mild depressive symptoms.

    Get adequate daily movement and regular exercise

    Studies show there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. There's also a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.

    Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. It also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress.

    What to Do If Someone You Know Is Depressed

    Perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do if you have a friend or family member who struggles with depression is to help guide them toward healthier eating and lifestyle habits, as making changes can be particularly difficult when you're feeling blue — or worse, suicidal.

    If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: (800) 273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis.




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  • Too Many Children Taking Melatonin
    published on June 21st, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Melatonin is an important hormone produced by your body's pineal gland. One of its primary roles is regulating your body's circadian rhythm. When it gets dark, your brain starts secreting melatonin (typically around 9 or 10 p.m.), which makes you sleepy. Levels typically stay elevated for about 12 hours, then, as the sun rises, your pineal gland reduces your production, and the levels in your blood decrease until they're hardly measurable at all.

    When your circadian rhythms are disrupted, such as from shift work, jet lag or nighttime light exposure, your body produces less melatonin. It's these instances when supplementing with small amounts of melatonin can be most useful, as it may help to reset your internal clock.1 However, a growing number of children are reportedly now taking the supplement to help them sleep, which could be associated with long-term risks.

    Melatonin May Help Children With Certain Sleep Disorders

    If your child has a unique medical need that makes nighttime sleep difficult, melatonin may be helpful and is likely safer than prescription sleep aids. One example would be children with autism, for whom sleep disorders are common and may intensify autistic symptoms. Melatonin has been found to help synchronize circadian rhythms and improve sleep quality and behavior in individuals with autism.2

    Among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic sleep onset insomnia, melatonin was also found to be an effective therapy in 88 percent of cases even when used long-term, with no serious adverse events reported.3 Further, behavior and mood also improved in 71 percent and 61 percent of the cases, respectively.

    Most Children Should Be Able to Get a Sound Night's Sleep Without Melatonin

    For children who are otherwise healthy but struggle with bedtime on occasion, however, melatonin should be used with caution, if at all. "Most pediatricians know little about sleep or melatonin. For non-autistic children it is a fashionable treatment for parents wanting 'perfect' children," Dr. Neil Stanley, former director of sleep research at the University of Surrey, told The Guardian.4

    While melatonin is thought to be relatively safe when used for short or even medium periods (up to 18 months), some children are taking the supplement for six or seven years. The long-term effects of melatonin on children are largely unknown, but there is some research that suggests it could interfere with the production of hormones related to puberty. According to one study, caution is warranted even in children with ADHD and chronic insomnia:5

    "Very little systematic research has been done into the possible impact of melatonin intake on puberty and the endocrine system. Therefore, treatment with melatonin in children with ADHD and (C)SOI [chronic sleep-onset insomnia] is best reserved for children with persistent insomnia which is having a severe impact on daily functioning, particularly in cases where [there] is an obvious phase-shift of the endogenous circadian rhythm."

    There are, however, those who support its use, even among healthy children — 25 percent of whom are said to suffer from insomnia (this rises to 75 percent in children with neurodevelopmental or psychiatric conditions).6 According to a review published in the journal Canadian Family Physician, "For children with otherwise undiagnosed insomnia and healthy sleep hygiene, melatonin use should be considered. While melatonin seems to be safe, there is a lack of evidence for its routine use among healthy children."7

    Proper Sleep Hygiene Should Be Addressed First

    There are concerns that a synthetic form of melatonin is being overprescribed to children who could improve their sleep using other methods, like adopting a regular bedtime routine. This may be as simple as pulling down your window shades, putting your child in pajamas, reading a story and turning on some white noise, followed by a hug and kiss.8

    Behavioral modifications and attention to proper sleep hygiene should always be the first line of treatment if your child is having trouble sleeping, even before trying a natural supplement like melatonin. In particular, Canadian Family Physician suggested: 9

    Napping during the day should be avoided

    Dinnertime should be at least two hours before bedtime

    Screen time (watching television, playing computer or video games) should be discontinued at least one hour before bedtime

    Regular bedtime routine including routine sleep and wake-up times should be maintained

    Children should sleep in their own beds

    Sleep environment should be dark and quiet; room should not be too hot

    Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol should be avoided

    Attention to light and darkness, at the appropriate times of day, is also important. Your body requires exposure to bright daylight, especially in the early morning, to produce healthy amounts of melatonin each night. Getting sunlight in the morning is one way to help reset your circadian clock daily. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight sends a strong message that it's time to rise and shine. In this way, your body is less likely to be confused by weaker light signals later in the day.

    My rule of thumb is, if there is enough light in your bedroom at night to see your hand in front of your face, then there is too much light. Your body requires light during the day to produce healthy amounts of melatonin, but at night light inhibits production. So, it's difficult to get too much light during the day and easy to get too much at night. In addition to installing blackout drapes in your child's bedroom, avoid exposure to blue light at night and have your child wear blue-light blocking glasses after the sun sets.

    At What Age Should Your Children Sleep in Their Own Room?

    In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released their newest sleep guidelines for infants, intended to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.

    In addition to putting babies to sleep on their back until 1 year of age, they also recommend both a firm sleep surface with no other bedding or soft objects and breastfeeding. In addition, AAP recommends that infants sleep in their parents' room, close to the parents' bed (such as in a bedside portable crib) for at least the first six months and ideally for the first year.10

    In contrast, a study published in Pediatrics in June 2017 found that room-sharing at ages 4 months and 9 months was associated with worse sleep outcomes.11 Instead, babies who slept in their own rooms at prior to 4 months of age slept 40 minutes more a night than babies still room-sharing at 9 months.12 There's much controversy in this area, however, and how long your infant stays in your bedroom may depend on practical matters and personal preferences as well.

    Further, while health officials typically advise against bed-sharing with infants, some experts believe the practice of bed-sharing, when done safely and with a breastfeeding mother, may actually reduce the risk of SIDS and provide a safe sleeping environment.13 In case you're wondering how much sleep your child actually needs, here are the latest guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF):

    Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours

    Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours

    Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours

    Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours

    School age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours

    Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours

    Sleep Tips From Fellow Parents

    Sometimes fellow parents have insightful tips to help children get to sleep. In an article posted on Growing Slower, one mom shared what finally helped her toddler get a good night's sleep, and it involved a long process of trial-and-error to find the right combination of "tricks" that worked for their family. Among them:14

    Organic cotton sleepwear in lieu of synthetic and possibly irritating fabrics

    Immune-system support in the form of vitamin D, vitamins and omega-3 fats

    A teaspoon of coconut oil before bed, to curb hunger pains during the night

    Epsom salt baths prior to bed

    Magnesium oil, massaged onto the belly before bedtime

    A breastfeeding elimination diet as well as addressing food allergies and sensitivities in the child

    White noise (in the form of a fan)

    A predictable bedtime routine

    It's important to remember, too, that children sleep better when parents take an active role in creating a positive sleep environment. According to NSF, "When parents set and enforce sleep rules, children sleep longer."15

    For instance, setting and enforcing a set bedtime and limit on how late your child can watch TV or use the computer may boost sleep by more than one hour a night. Being a good role model is also important, including limiting your own exposure to electronic devices and blue light at night and wrapping up your work prior to bedtime.

    Even doing homework too late at night may make it difficult for your child to fall asleep. "Make sleep a healthy priority in your family's busy schedule," NSF states. "Set appropriate and consistent bedtimes for yourself and your children and stick to them, and talk to your child about the importance of sleep for health and well-being."16

    Boost Your Child's Natural Melatonin

    Before considering melatonin supplementation for your child, it makes sense to engage in habits that will increase your child's natural melatonin production and improve overall health. The tips that follow apply to both children and adults.

    Sunshine during the morning

    Melatonin is affected by your exposure to light and dark. When it is light, production of melatonin naturally drops. Getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight in the morning hours helps to regulate the production of melatonin, dropping it to normal daytime levels, so you feel awake during the day and sleep better at night.

    Sleep in the dark

    Your body produces and secretes melatonin in the dark, helping you to go to sleep and stay asleep. Sleeping in a completely darkened room, without lights from alarm clocks, televisions or other sources will improve your sleep quality. If you get up during the night to use the bathroom, it's important to keep the lights off so you don't shut off your production of melatonin. Also, wear blue-light blocking glasses after sunset to avoid blue-light exposure.

    Turn off your computer and hand-held electronics

    Although these are light sources, they deserve special mention as the type of light source from digital equipment may also reduce your body's production of melatonin in the evening when you need it most.

    Brightness and exposure to light in the blue and white wavelengths appear to affect the production of melatonin, exactly the wavelengths of light emitted from tablets, laptops and computers.17 To protect your sleep, put your computers and digital equipment away at least one hour before bed.

    Reduce your caffeine intake

    Caffeine, found in coffee, dark chocolate, cola and other drinks, has a half-life of five hours. This means 25 percent remains in your system 10 hours later. For a better night's sleep, cut out your caffeinated foods and drinks after lunch.

    Lower your stress level and your cortisol level

    The release of melatonin is dependent on the release of another hormone, norepinephrine. Excess stress, and the resulting release of cortisol, will inhibit the release of norepinephrine and therefore the release of melatonin.18 Stress-reducing strategies you may find helpful before bed include yoga, stretching, meditation and prayer.

    Increase foods high in magnesium

    Magnesium plays a role in reducing brain activity at night, helping you to relax and fall asleep more easily. It works in tandem with melatonin. Foods containing higher levels of magnesium include almonds, avocados, pumpkin seeds and green leafy vegetables.19




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  • How Misuse of a Single Paragraph Ended Up Killing 60,000 Americans Per Year
    published on June 20th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Opioid addiction is at an all-time high in the U.S., and according to many addiction specialists, pain and hopelessness are primary drivers of this burgeoning crisis.1 Limiting the availability of opioids and making overdose-reversal drugs and treatment for drug addiction more readily available are part of the answer. But it's not enough.

    We have to take a much deeper look at the root of the problem. What is causing all this physical pain and emotional distress in the first place? Clearly, the U.S. health care system is grossly ineffective when it comes to addressing chronic health problems. Whether pain is promoting hopelessness or the other way around is difficult to ascertain, but the two appear to be closely intertwined and need to be addressed together.

    Somehow or another, we need to refocus our efforts to create lives worth living, and improve access to and information about basic disease prevention, which begins with diet and basic lifestyle choices — the kind of information I've focused on with my newsletter and website.

    That said, it's worth looking at how use of prescription opioids ended up getting so out of control. Doing so will reveal an oft-ignored truth: Drug companies may, and often do, promote drugs that do more harm than good. After all, drugs are profit centers, and drug companies are first and foremost beholden to their shareholders — not patients — who expect to make a decent profit from their investments.

    To maximize sales, drug companies may hide information, misinform and/or outright lie about their medicines, and this is precisely what happened with narcotic painkillers.

    The Paragraph That Spawned the Opioid Crisis

    In 1980, a five-sentence-long letter to the editor was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. Under the headline "Addiction Rare in Patients Treated With Narcotics," the short letter, written by Jane Porter, a graduate student at Boston University Medical Center, read:

    "Recently, we examined our current files to determine the incidence of narcotic addiction in 39,946 hospitalized medical patients who were monitored consecutively. Although there were 11,882 patients who received at least one narcotic preparation, there were only four cases of reasonably well documented addiction in patients who had no history of addiction.

    The addiction was considered major in only one instance. The drugs implicated were meperidine in two patients, Percodan in one, and hydromorphone in one. We conclude that despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction."

    This turned out to be a letter with dire repercussions for millions of people in the decades to come. As noted in The Atlantic, this letter to the editor ended up being "so routinely mis-cited" it took on "a life of its own."2

    "[NEJM] … is issuing a corrective. It's a new study3 … from a team led by David Juurlink at the University of Toronto that tracked how the five-sentence letter passed through the game of academic citation … to become evidence that opioids are safe for chronic pain. In fact, it said no such thing," The Atlantic notes.

    "… Hershel Jick, a doctor at Boston University Medical Center, had a database of hospital records that he used to monitor side effects from drugs … Something, perhaps a newspaper article, got Jick interested in looking at addiction. So he asked a graduate student, Jane Porter, to help calculate how many patients in the database got addicted after being treated with pain medicines, and dashed off a letter to the [NEJM].

    Its brevity was commensurate with the effort involved … But as it began to accrue citations, its findings also began to mutate. Porter and Jick had only looked at hospitalized patients in regimented settings, but that detail got lost in the push to prescribe opioids to patients at home — an entirely different scenario."

    Drug Companies Latched on to Evidence That Wasn't

    In the years to come, this letter to the editor (most letters do not undergo any kind of peer-review) became an oft-cited piece of evidence used by drug companies and pain specialists alike. In all, it's been cited more than 600 times since its publication, serving as the basis of misleading and inaccurate statements such as: "[P]ain population with no abuse history is literally at no risk for addiction," and "There have been studies suggesting that addiction rarely evolves in the setting of painful conditions."4

    A remarkable 80 percent of the articles citing Jick's letter failed to include the facts that his data pertained specifically to hospitalized patients receiving the drugs on a short-term basis. You simply cannot assume that because a narcotic is safe to use in the short term under careful monitoring by hospital staff, it will be safe long-term, and without careful monitoring.

    According to Juurlink, "It's difficult to overstate the role of this letter. It was the key bit of literature that helped the opiate manufacturers convince front-line doctors that addiction is not a concern."5

    Purdue Pharma used it as the basis for its claim that opioid addiction affects less than 1 percent of patients treated with the drugs. In a recent interview with The Associated Press (AP),6 Jick said he was "mortified that that letter to the editor was used as an excuse to do what these drug companies did." He also clarified that his letter "only referred to people getting opioids in the hospital for a short period of time and has no bearing on long-term outpatient use."

    Researchers and journalists were no better. While the findings detailed in the letter were exceptionally narrow and the "study" less than thorough, researchers and journalists started referring to it as "extensive," citing it as a "landmark report." In 2001, Time magazine reported:7

    "Many physicians now concede that patients have been undermedicated for decades, suffering needlessly. One reason was concern that big doses of opiates could depress respiration, but a large part stemmed from an exaggerated fear that patients would become addicted.

    This fear, which continues to hold sway over American medicine, is basically unwarranted. A landmark study … found that only four became addicted to the [narcotic] drugs they received as patients. 'You don't see cancer patients running around robbing shopping malls to support their habits,' notes Carr."

    NEJM Issues First-Ever Warning on 40-Year-Old Editor's Note

    Following the publication of Juurlink's investigation into the citation trail leading from Jick's letter to all manner of false claims, NEJM has now added an editor's note to the 1980 letter,8 saying, "For reasons of public health, readers should be aware that this letter has been 'heavily and uncritically cited' as evidence that addiction is rare with opioid therapy."

    NEJM editor, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, explained his note to AP, saying, "People have used the letter to suggest that you're not going to get addicted to opioids if you get them in a hospital setting. We know that not to be true."9 The journal has also added a link from Jick's letter to Juurlink's new study — a move that should eliminate most misuse in the future. As noted by Juurlink:10

    "In conclusion, we found that a five-sentence letter … was heavily and uncritically cited as evidence that addiction was rare with long-term opioid therapy. We believe that this citation pattern contributed to the North American opioid crisis by helping to shape a narrative that allayed prescribers' concerns about the risk of addiction associated with long-term opioid therapy.

    In 2007, the manufacturer of OxyContin and three senior executives pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the risk of addiction associated with the drug. Our findings highlight the potential consequences of inaccurate citation and underscore the need for diligence when citing previously published studies."

    60,000 Americans Overdosed in 2016

    Opioid addiction and accidental overdoses are now taking a tremendous toll. According to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50!11 In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from some form of drug overdose; 33,000 of them involved some form of opioid.

    Preliminary data for 2016 reveals that death toll is anywhere from 59,000 to 65,000.12 That's a 19 percent increase in one year, and the largest annual increase of drug overdose deaths in U.S. history. Between 2014 and 2015, drug overdose deaths rose by 11 percent.13 The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include14 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

    Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are also being abused by a rising number of people. A recent article in The New York Times15 highlights the tragedy of Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, two 13-year-olds who died after taking the synthetic opioid U-47700, also known as "pinky." They got the drug from a teenage friend who had bought it on the dark web using bitcoin.

    The sheer potency of synthetic opioids make them ideal for mailing. A standard envelope can hold enough fentanyl to get 50,000 people high. And, while the dark web marketplace Silk Road was shut down in 2013, others have popped up in its place, allowing people who might otherwise not have access to narcotics get them through the mail.

    Disturbingly, rising fentanyl addiction also poses novel risks to first responders, law enforcement and even drug-sniffing dogs. The drug is so potent (anywhere from 500 to 1,000 percent more potent than morphine) that inhaling just a few flakes can be lethal.

    In Ohio, a police officer nearly died from exposure to a fentanyl-related compound. During a routine traffic stop, he noticed a bag of white powder in the car. He used gloves and a mask for protection at the scene, but didn't notice he'd gotten some on his shirt. Later, when a colleague pointed out the powder on his uniform, he brushed it off with his bare hand.

    An hour later, he collapsed and had to be treated with FOUR doses of naloxone. He was lucky and survived the ordeal. Many fentanyl users are not. Deadly overdoses involving fentanyl rose by 50 percent between 2013 and 2014, and another 72 percent between 2014 and 2015.

    Other Opioid Facts and Statistics

    To truly understand the enormity of America's drug problem, consider the following:

    Drug overdoses are the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S.

    In 2015, 52,404 Americans died from drug overdoses; 33,091 of them involved an opioid and nearly one-third of them, 15,281, of them were by prescription.16,17,18 Meanwhile, kidney disease, listed as the ninth leading cause of death on the CDC's top 10 list, killed 48,146.19

    The CDC does not include drug overdoses on this list, but if you did, drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids), would replace kidney disease as the ninth leading cause of death as of 2015, inching its way toward the eighth slot, currently occupied by respiratory complications such as pneumonia, which took 55,227 lives in 2015. As noted earlier, in the 50-and-younger demographic, drug overdoses are now the No. 1 cause of death.20

    Opioid use has overtaken smoking

    More Americans now use prescription opioids than smoke cigarettes.21 One in 4 Americans (and 1 in 3 millennials) reports knowing someone addicted to opioids.22

    Opioids kill more Americans than car crashes

    In 2014, prescription drug overdoses, a majority of which involved some type of opioid, killed more Americans than car crashes (49,714 compared to 32,675).23 This held true for 2015 as well, despite 2015 being hailed as the deadliest driving year since 2008. In all, 38,300 Americans died in car crashes in 201524 — a sharp rise thought to be related to a combination of cheaper gas prices and hence increased travel, and using smartphones while driving.25

    Drugged driving causes more fatal crashes than drunk driving

    Driving under the influence of opioids and other drugs has become a serious problem, now causing more fatal car crashes than drunk driving.26 Prescription and/or illegal drugs were involved in 43 percent of fatal car crashes in 2015, while 37 percent involved illegal amounts of alcohol.

    Opioids, specifically, can increase your risk of being involved in a car crash by a factor of 10, having a relative car crash risk between 2 and 10.27 (A driver with no drugs or alcohol in their system has a relative crash risk of 1.)

    Americans use 80 percent of global opioid supply

    Prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009,28,29 and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide.30 In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.31

    Financial cost of opioid addiction tops $193 billion annually

    Addiction to opioids and heroin now costs the U.S. more than $193 billion each year.

    Prenatal exposure is rampant

    Despite carrying risks of pregnancy-related problems and birth defects, nearly one-third of American women of childbearing age are prescribed opioid painkillers32 and more than 14 percent of pregnant women were prescribed opioids during their pregnancy.33

    Addiction affects more than 1 in 4 opioid users

    Studies show addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain, and 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy die from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription.34

    Opioid addiction has lowered life expectancy in U.S.

    According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for both men and women dropped between 2014 and 2015, for the first time in two decades, and overdose deaths appear to be a significant contributor.35,36,37

    Prescription painkillers are the No. 1 gateway to heroin

    OxyContin and other opioid pain killers have been identified as the primary gateway drugs to heroin.38 Chemically, these drugs are very similar and provide a similar kind of high. According to a 2013 U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin have previously used prescription painkillers.39

    Opioid use and addiction found to have lifelong health ramifications

    According to Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief for psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, opioids cause changes in your brain that can increase your risk of depression, and the effects may be "long-lasting or even permanent."40

    Opiates depress your central nervous system and slow the electrical activity in your brain, which can result in circadian rhythm disruptions, mood changes and cognitive decline. Opiate use also promotes41 bowel dysfunction, endocrine system (hormonal) problems, sexual dysfunction, reduced fertility, reduced testosterone levels in men and bone disorders.

    Drug Industry Responsible for Mass Addiction Now Tries to Cash in on It

    Many believe the drug companies that create and sell opioids need to be held accountable for America's drug problem, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs. As noted by the Organic Consumers Association,42 the drug industry has "fostered the opioid addiction epidemic" by:

    • Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which from a chemical standpoint is nearly identical to heroin, and changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for lower back pain and other pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.
    • Promoting long-term use of opioids even though there's no evidence that using these drugs long-term is safe and effective, and grossly downplaying their addictive potential. OxyContin, for example, became a blockbuster drug mainly through misleading claims that Purdue Pharma knew were false from the start.43

    Now, adding insult to injury, drug companies are trying to cash in on the opioid addiction crisis by pushing for legislation to combat the epidemic with, you guessed it, other drugs. NPR recently reported how Alkermes, a company that makes the anti-addiction medication Vivitrol — a monthly injection that costs about $1,000 per shot — is trying to weasel its drug into state laws, making it the sole treatment recommended for opioid addiction. NPR writes:44

    "Two years ago, a mental health advocate named Steve McCaffrey stood at a podium in the Indiana statehouse, testifying in favor of an addiction treatment bill … His brief testimony appeared straightforward. 'We rise in support, urge your adoption,' said McCaffrey. He said the legislation would move the state 'toward evidence-based treatment.' But the bill wouldn't do that.

    Instead, it would cement rules making it harder to access certain addiction medications — medications that many patients rely on. The goal was to steer doctors toward a specific brand-name drug: Vivitrol … State Rep. Steve Davisson, the bill's sponsor, says McCaffrey helped write the bill … But there was something important that Davisson and other lawmakers didn't know about him.

    State lobbying records show that McCaffrey lobbies for Alkermes, the company that makes Vivitrol …  McCaffrey's work … is part of a larger pattern … [I]n statehouses across the country, and in Congress, Alkermes is pushing Vivitrol while contributing to misconceptions and stigma about other medications used to treat opioid addiction …

    While policymakers are grasping for solutions to the nation's opioid epidemic, Alkermes … is using policy to promote its drug and, in some cases, hamper access to medications that can help. And in so doing, it's looking to turn its drug into a blockbuster."

    Industry Regulations Hamper Legal Recourse

    A growing number of U.S. states,45 counties and even individual cities have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers for their role in creating the addiction crisis. Unfortunately, it's proving to be extremely difficult to hold drug companies accountable for their actions. As reported by Reuters,46 "The industry's highly regulated nature could pose a hurdle to their success." Since opioids, like all drugs, are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), drug companies simply lean on the drugs' FDA approval.

    "In their view, judges and juries could defer to the agency's approval of the companies' opioid products as safe and effective for treating chronic pain and of the drugs' warning labels that disclosed addiction-related risks," Reuters notes.

    "Carl Tobias, a professor at Richmond School of Law, said FDA-approved warning labels and the role of doctors in prescribing medication can insulate pharmaceutical companies from liability for failing to warn of a drug's risks. But he noted Ohio's lawsuit claimed the companies used advertising in medical journals and marketing presentations to downplay the risks of opioids.

    In announcing the lawsuit, Ohio Attorney General [Mike] DeWine argued the drugmakers' deception continued 'despite the warnings in the small print of their very own drug labels and package inserts which clearly contradict their marketing.' 'You can give a great warning but undercut it, and that can go to the fraud point,' Tobias said."

    Drug companies are also arguing that state and local governments should not be allowed to use private lawyers when filing these kinds of lawsuits against them. Private attorneys typically receive a percentage of the settlement, and drug companies have argued that hiring private lawyers rather than using public servants violates their constitutional rights to due process. This ridiculous argument has already worked once.

    Last year, a judge invalidated the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll's agreement to represent former New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster in his lawsuit against Actavis Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals.47 The ruling effectively prevented the state from filing suit, since no "public servants" with the prerequisite legal skills are available to run the case.

    Are You or Someone You Love Addicted to Painkillers?

    This is a Flash-based audio and may not be playable on mobile devices.

    Anyone can get hooked on opioids. It doesn't matter where you live or how great a family you came from. STAT News' special report, "52 Weeks, 52 Faces" features obituaries of people who lost their lives to opioid addiction. You'd be hard-pressed to "peg" any one of them as a drug addict.

    Some marketing materials for opioids still claim the drug will not cause addiction "except in very rare cases," describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a "benign state" and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn't true. Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

    It's important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you've been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you're likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

    With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a long list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous articles, "Treating Pain Without Drugs," and "New Treatment Guidelines for Back Pain Stress Non-Drug Interventions."




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  • The Worst Kind of Meat
    published on June 20th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The first large-scale animal farm factories appeared in the early 1970s,1 designed for egg-laying hens. However, it wasn't long before beef and pork producers followed suit with the aim to reduce overhead and increase profits, which also reduced the quality of the meat produced.

    Today, most meat sold in the U.S. is raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). In a corporate-controlled environment characterized by large-scale, centralized production, companies — not farmers — have identified means of production, processing and distribution that produce more meat for less money.

    The repercussions associated with these farms have included a rise in antibiotic-resistant disease claiming the lives of nearly 23,000 Americans each year,2 and a significant impact on local water supply from waste water runoff from these farms.3,4 Both of these concerns are driving significant global issues with water quality and antibiotic-resistant bacterial disease.

    Although these farms have created monstrous environmental problems, the companies that run them are not only violating the environment, they are also plundering the American farmer, driving the farmer deeper into debt as the corporation enjoys growing profits.

    Moved From Field to Confinement

    Harold Steele, a hog-farming pioneer in central Illinois, helped develop new methods of raising pigs in automated confinement operations that boosted productivity.5 Family farmers were optimistic these new production methods would help improve sustainable agriculture on the family farm. Initially, wooden barns and then galvanized metal sheds, were built to protect the animals from predators, cold snaps and summer heat.

    Farmers shared their secrets for breeding, shed construction and ventilation systems. The farmers started with wooden slat floors that allowed manure and waste to collect below, but soon moved to concrete floors when the wood swelled and twisted from moisture. The farmers built earthen lagoons to stockpile the manure and then used it to fertilize their nearby crop fields where they grew corn and grain to feed the livestock.

    These farmers used secret additives to the hog feed, such as cinnamon and honey to improve production and reduce illness. However, by the 1990s, low-dose, government-approved growth hormones and antibiotics were introduced, making the animals grow faster, and sometimes changing their personality. Steele said:6

    "The animals changed from what we had created to a kind of animal that was being fed things that they shouldn't have been fed. They are no longer animals that we've known. They are animals that we can't even handle."

    As the animals are packed in tight quarters and fed diets that endanger the animal's immune system, the spread of disease occurs quickly and easily. Low-dose antibiotics are added to the feed to slow infectious disease and to encourage growth of the animal on less food; both factors that increase the profit margin for the producers and increase the health risks for the end user.

    These antibiotics may kill most of the bacteria in the animal, but often leave enough bacteria resistant to the drugs that survive and multiply in the meat.7 This is the meat that ends up on your dinner table.

    Resistance to Antibiotic of Last Resort Found on Hog Farm

    Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is fast becoming a global crisis,8 fueled by large amounts of antibiotic use on CAFO farms, needed to protect the health of animals kept in an unhealthy and inhumane environment. One such antibiotic-resistant bacteria recently detected on a U.S. hog farm9 was carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

    CRE has been labeled a "nightmare bacteria" by the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, since they are nearly impossible to kill with conventional antibiotics.10 These organisms may transfer their virility to other bacteria, have a fatality rate as high as 50 percent and are resistant to nearly all antibiotics.

    Researchers suggested finding CRE on the hog farm may have been the result of an introduction from the outside. The consistent use of low-dose antibiotics in the animal feed on the farm may subsequently have contributed to the maintenance and spread of the bacteria.11

    Some Contract Growers Lose Out

    The system of pork production initiated by Steele continued until the mid-1990s when prices collapsed and large producers, such as Smithfield and Cargill, entered the picture, enticing farmers to become "contract growers," providing the labor without actually owning the pigs.12 Some farmers saw this as a way of being able to keep the family farm without absorbing the fluctuating meat market prices.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, while farmers are insulated from shifting prices, they face unique challenges, such as increasing production losses or corruption in the sponsoring company, especially allocating quotas the farmers must meet.13 Large meat producers, like Cargill, are continuing to solicit contract growers, giving the farmer the opportunity to get bank loans for new confinement buildings and stay in business.

    But while a contract from a large corporation promising business may help the farmer garner a bank loan, the reality of a 365-day business without rest and consistent payment per pig has driven some farmers out of business. According to Professor Emeritus Ronald Plain, a specialist in livestock marketing at the University of Missouri, the cost per pig:14

    "[It] sounds fairly typical. What you are describing is a very common arrangement. You want to make a lot of money in pigs, you got to own the pigs and deal with a lot of risk."

    Without the risk, farmers are making less but continue to have the same overhead costs. Some have taken out multimillion-dollar loans to build confinement facilities15 while netting between $20,000 and $60,000 each year for their efforts. According to Illinois hog farmer Greg Giertz:

    "It used to be, the farmer raised the corn that fed his pigs here in Illinois, they got harvested by a packing plant here in Illinois and they probably got consumed here in Illinois. Now the hogs might be owned by someone in Iowa, raised in Illinois, slaughtered in Indiana and shipped to China."

    Smithfield Profits and Farmers Can Barely Pay the Mortgage

    Solicitation of a greater number of contract farmers has resulted in nearly 700 construction applications for new or expanded operations in Iowa alone.16 This follows the loss of nearly 8 million piglets between 2013 and 2015 from a viral infection of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv).17 Multiple strains of PEDv have been identified in the U.S., as the virus easily mutates in response to herd immunity.

    The enteric virus was reported in the 1970s18 in Europe and found periodically in Italy since the 1990s.19 Severe outbreaks occurred predominantly in swine-producing Asian countries, before destroying nearly 10 percent of the hog population in the U.S. between 2013 and 2014. The virus then spread to Canada and Mexico.20 Confinement and stressed immune systems in the hogs increased the opportunity for the virus to spread quickly.

    Lack of supply drove pork prices high, reducing consumer demand. With an increasing number of contract farmers taking the initiative to develop pork CAFOs to meet the demand, the market has been flooded with "the other white meat," making pork more competitive in the grocery store. Throughout the ups and downs of the pork market, contract farmers are paid the same for each pig delivered to market, while their overhead costs continue to grow.

    This combination has resulted in a $143 million net income for Smithfield in 2016, compared to $83 million for the same time period in 2015.21 Pig farmers are facing declining margins and potential farm loss, while the companies that own their contracts are raking in the profits.

    The fall in prices comes at a time when export to China has fallen dramatically, in part as China bans the use of a growth stimulant U.S. producers use to add weight on the animal before slaughter. Ractopamine is a drug that increases protein development and reduces the amount of fat on the animal. However, while it sounds good for producers, the drug is banned in most countries, except the U.S., due to health concerns.

    Animal research links the drug to a reduction in reproductive function, birth defects, mastitis in dairy animals and an increase in death. In fact, the Center for Food Safety includes toxicity risks as behavioral changes, cardiovascular and endocrine problems and high stress leading to broken limbs, hyperactivity and death.22 The drug is banned in nearly 160 countries, but acceptable to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for your consumption.23

    What Does Health Have to Do With It?

    In a marketing maneuver to brand Smithfield CAFO pork as healthy, the company partnered with Skinnygirl brand to launch a new line of cold cut meats.24 These new prepackaged, portion controlled servings are purposefully aimed at "health conscious, weight-watching, young women," according to Smithfield.25

    Skinnygirl brand was started by one of the reality television actresses on the Real Housewives of New York, Bethenny Frankel, who endorses the new portion-controlled packages of pork, saying,26 "Protein is the key to feeling full and satisfied, which helps us avoid bad investment foods."

    However, while protein is necessary for good health in small portions, it is healthy fats that increase your satiety and feeling of satisfaction and fullness after eating a healthy meal, and not bits of protein, especially not antibiotic and growth hormone-laden CAFO pork.

    Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

    Reminiscent of President Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy to "speak softly and carry a big stick," Smithfield appears to be taking up a position of intelligent marketing and decisive action to advance a global impact on the meat market. Slowly and quietly the company is targeting markets across the globe using popular branding, such as Skinnygirl, and collaborating with major league sports teams, such as the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.

    Krakus, a Polish subsidiary of Smithfield, recently announced they would team up with the Chicago soccer team to provide the official deli meat for the season.27 The irony of pairing of a sports team, intent on physical fitness, with a company providing CAFO pork products is a clever marketing strategy to push you to associate healthy life choices with prepackaged deli meat.

    Smithfield foods is also applying for permission to acquire more meat processing plants in Poland,28 to grow their ever-expanding meat empire across the globe. The proposal involves the purchase of 100 percent of company shares of three meat processing plants. The proposed acquisition will add the ability of Smithfield to process poultry meat in Poland, boosting meat processing capacity in that country. Smithfield said in a statement to Global Meat News:29

    "The acquisition will strengthen the integrated supply chain within Smithfield group in Poland. It will also allow [the group] to raise its production capacities in the field of meat processing to satisfy the increasing demand of Polish and foreign customers for … processed meat products."

    If the proposed merger with Smithfield and these four plants takes place, the plants in Poland will likely post annual revenues of nearly $270 million. Although consolidation of meat processing and packing is lucrative for Smithfield, it places contract farmers and consumers in the untenable position of being at the mercy of one provider.

    Political Bribes Release Tainted Meat and May Topple Brazilian President

    The meat business, much like other large industries, has connections at various levels of government. In the case of meat exports from Brazil, those connections have reached all the way to the country's president. Recently, authorities in Brazil suspended 33 government employees and closed three slaughterhouses after finding factory managers had bribed politicians and inspectors to obtain meat export certificates for meat that had never been inspected.30

    This was the largest organized federal police effort in Brazil, which police used to dismantle a "criminal organization" that had used kickbacks to aid the production and exportation of adulterated meat by meat producer JBS.

    Brazil is one of the world's largest meat exporters, generating nearly $14 billion in the global meat trade in 2016. Located in Brazil, JBS is a global organization, having acquired U.S. Swift and Company in 2007 and Smithfield's beef business in 2008. In 2009 JBS became a majority stockholder in Pilgrim's Pride.

    As a result of corruption charges, Brazilian prosecutors fined JBS $3.1 billion, which will be paid by their holding company J&F. This assessment came on the heels of another plea agreement between the Brazilian government and JBS that included reduced sentences for seven executives from the company.31

    Although JBS did not disclose the corruption charges, investigations into President Michael Temer were launched following a leaked recording of Temer condoning a JBS executive to bribe politician Eduardo Cunha,32 now serving 15 years after being found guilty of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.33

    In the recording, Temer appears to discuss payments to Cunha. The allegations, and ensuing economic turmoil, have resulted in the country's Supreme Court approving an inquiry into these accusations against President Temer and has ousted the chairman of JBS, Joesley Batista, who reportedly fled to New York aboard his yacht, before returning to Brazil June 11.34 JBS is now in the process of selling its beef concerns in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.35

    Sustainable Farming Combats Antibiotic-Resistant Disease

    Each year the importance to combating antibiotic-resistant disease grows stronger. You may do your part to protect your health by carefully choosing your foods and using antibiotics for yourself responsibly. Seek out antibiotic-free meat raised by organic grass fed and regenerative farmers. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations may help you locate healthy farm-fresh foods:

    American Grassfed Association

    The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

    Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

    EatWild.com

    EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

    Weston A. Price Foundation

    Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

    Grassfed Exchange

    The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

    Local Harvest

    This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

    Farmers Markets

    A national listing of farmers markets.

    Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food From Healthy Animals

    The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

    Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

    CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

    FoodRoutes

    The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

    The Cornucopia Institute

    The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

    RealMilk.com

    If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund36 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.37 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.




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  • The Heroes Who Sunk Lead
    published on June 20th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Lead has a cumulative effect on multiple organ systems in your body and is particularly harmful to young children. After it enters the body, it is distributed through the brain, kidney, liver and bones, and is often stored in the bones and teeth.1 There is no known safe exposure to lead, which often affects young children and lower socioeconomic groups the hardest.

    However, humans have a long and intimate relationship with lead, dating back to 3000 B.C. when the Roman Empire used it to create pipes for their plumbing and to sweeten wine that they then shipped all over Europe.2 Documents from that period report symptoms of colic, anemia and gout attributed to overexposure to lead.

    Some historians even believe lead poisoning hastened the fall of the Roman Empire. The oldest known piece made of lead is a figurine from 4000 B.C., found in Egypt.3 In more recent years, the durability of the heavy metal made it an excellent additive to paint, and the chemical properties made it an attractive gasoline enhancer to curb knocking caused by the premature firing of gas in the cylinder.4

    However, while manufacturers may have been enamored by the properties of the heavy metal, it has placed a heavy burden on human health and the environment. The dangers of lead have been documented since the second century B.C., but it has taken nearly 4,000 years to fully understand the consequences to human health.

    While those consequences are significant, and may even represent one of the biggest health risks in human history, manufacturers removed it only after years of fighting and litigation, insisting the product is completely safe despite hundreds of research documents to the contrary. Today we have several heroes to thank for the significant drop in lead levels we enjoy. But, while several battles have been won, the war continues.

    Lead and Calcium Thick as Thieves

    Lead levels in the average American have dropped by more than 75 percent since the 1970s, but remnants of pollution from past decades continue to endanger your health. Lead can still be found in pipes, in the soil and in older paint. It is a problem that is possible, but expensive, to fix. To make things more difficult and dangerous, federal funding to remove lead has been slashed, and local governments don’t have the resources to pick up the slack.5

    Lead and calcium are chemically very similar, making lead a competitor at the cellular level and disrupting many different bodily systems.6 In your neurological system, it may disrupt neurons that use calcium to transmit information.7 This is why lead has a particularly devastating effect on the developing neurological systems and brains of children.

    The presence of lead will cause some neurons to fire more and decrease the signals in others. This may alter neurological development in the brains of children who have absorbed lead from their environment. In the past, researchers noted behavioral and cognitive changes in children who were brought to the physician for testing and treatment.8

    Researchers found children, and those living in poverty, have a higher incidence of lead poisoning and have higher lead levels. Symptoms of chronic exposure or lead poisoning don’t usually appear until years later. Virginia Rauh, an environmental health scientist at Columbia University, explains that the neurological poisoning in children becomes more apparent as they mature and must use more fine-tuned skills.9

    Epidemiological studies have revealed African-American children have a higher incidence of lead poisoning, potentially from a slightly different way of metabolizing the heavy metal. Research has demonstrated that people of African-American descent absorb calcium at higher rates,10 sometimes as much as 50 percent more efficiently.11 While this may be advantageous for calcium levels, it is a disadvantage when children are exposed to lead.

    Research Scientist and Pediatrician Herbert Needleman Provided the Foundation

    Dr. Herbert Needleman began his medical career in the 1950s and quickly began his crusade for better lead safety standards after treating a long parade of children with lead poisoning as a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.12 After years of treating children and observing the long-term effects of exposure, he maintained that a slow buildup of lead in the system could trigger symptoms even in the absence of overt poisoning.

    To test the hypothesis that long-term exposure at low levels may affect cognitive skills and behavior, Needleman required a method of testing lead levels. Blood tests only revealed the current exposure, but would not capture the amount of lead the children were exposed to over time. As he transitioned from treating pediatrician to research scientist, he turned to testing baby teeth that absorbed lead at the same rate as bone.13

    Needleman found teeth would reveal long-term lead exposure and absorption, and found inner city African-American children had levels five times higher than their suburban counterparts.14 Next, he gathered data from nearly 2,500 children in Boston and demonstrated the higher the levels of lead the children absorbed, the greater their neurological deficits.

    As lead-based paint and gasoline were the biggest contributors to lead poisoning in children, Needleman and public health expert and colleague Dr. Philip Landrigan began lobbying to remove lead from these products. However, fearful of monetary loss, the industry fought back. Using an army of paid experts to pick apart the research, the industry criticized the data collection and analysis, leading to a formal investigation of scientific misconduct by the University of Pittsburgh where Needleman was employed.15

    The industry not only attacked the science, but also personally went after the scientist. Today, Needleman suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, but his son reports that the investigation led by the university only signaled to his father the university’s distrust of a scientist who had given decades of service to his employers. After years of fighting, the science and the scientist were exonerated.16

    Geochemist Clair Patterson’s Persistence Pays Off

    As Needleman was fighting the University of Pittsburgh, geochemist Clair Patterson, Ph.D., was fighting the oil companies to have lead removed from gasoline. Even when it was added to gas in the 1920s it was known to cause neurological damage. Still, the process was pursued as it enabled the oil companies to net greater profits. Ironically, the researcher from General Motors suffered lead poisoning, but continued to marvel at the profits the company would make.17

    Patterson was a geochemist working to establish the age of the earth by measuring lead isotopes. He was confounded by results he thought may have been tainted.18 This led him to use core samples from ice layers in Greenland. He was able to identify ice that had been formed during the Roman Empire and Industrial Revolution, and then discovered the ice that formed since 1920 had a major spike in lead concentration.

    In 1965, Patterson published the book, “Contaminated and Natural Lead Environments of Man,”19 in an attempt to bring the dangers of lead gasoline on health and environment to light. Again, the industry brought to bear its influence to discredit the science and the man in an effort to maintain inordinate profits at the cost of human health.

    Although an acknowledged world expert in atmospheric lead contamination, Patterson was excluded from panels at the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Research Council as a result of pressure from the oil industry.

    Despite the overwhelming odds of one man fighting the oil industry, Patterson was instrumental in bringing forth the 1975 U.S. mandated option of unleaded gas at the pumps. It took substantial persistence, but finally in 1986 Patterson’s persistence triggered the removal of lead from all gasoline in the U.S. As a result, blood lead levels dropped nearly 80 percent by the late 1990s. In my view, he is one of the greatest unrecognized public health heroes of the 20th century.

    Decadeslong Lawsuit Illustrates Lead-Based Destruction

    Gary Gambel, a New Orleans attorney, took up the fight in 1994 when he met young single mother, Casey Billieson. Gambel was part of a team of lawyers in the New Orleans Lafitte area doing soil testing for lead. On the advice of Gambel, Billieson had her two young sons tested and found they had been poisoned, and likely had been for years. In this short video, another mother tells a recent story of how a home renovation during her pregnancy affected her unborn son.

    What began in 1994 did not conclude until 2016.20 Gambel’s interest in lead poisoning began when an associate uncovered several positive lead poisoning tests while working on another case. The original plan was to help several families pro bono to move into housing not contaminated by lead paint. However, all the families he had contact with had children who tested positive for lead, and the housing authority hadn’t done anything to rectify the situation.

    The housing authority of New Orleans (HANO) was doing nothing to keep their units up to code where thousands of families and children were living. In 1985, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set a standard of 25 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) for children to be treated. At that time children in the New Orleans area regularly tested higher, and those who lived in the projects administered by HANO tested highest of all.

    Lead levels in the plaintiffs who worked with Gambel regularly tested between 20 mcg/dL and 40 mcg/dL. To put this in perspective, lead levels just over the current 5 mcg/dL triggered the investigation into the water contamination in Flint, Michigan.21 Unfortunately, many of the plaintiffs in the New Orleans case did not receive a settlement as they were either killed or have since been incarcerated.

    Howard Mielke, Ph.D., a research professor in the department of pharmacology at Tulane University, and his colleague examined crime in six cities, including New Orleans, and how it related to lead emissions from gasoline.22 They found what the mothers of these children had long been claiming: Increases in lead were strongly associated with increases in crime. In other words, exposure to lead had permanently altered the ability of these children to even enjoy the stability of a job.

    The Case Continued

    After a private company was appointed to administer the project renovations and abatement in New Orleans, Gambel and his partner saw an opportunity to file a class action suit, representing all the families and children who lived in the HANO projects, claiming the children were exposed to lead from paint and the metal that settled in the soil from lead gasoline.23

    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit were scattered across the U.S. after being forced to relocate when Hurricane Katrina flooded their neighborhoods in 2005. Unfortunately, Katrina not only forced relocation of families, but also destroyed medical records of children so that parents were unable to prove their children had lead levels high enough to qualify for the class action suit at the time of the settlement.

    Some families had one child awarded compensation but not others, as those medical records were lost. Today, Gambel closely guards the documents gathered during their 22-year-long court case.

    The court fight was long and protracted, requiring thousands of hours from the attorneys on both sides. Gambel’s work attracted the interest of another lawyer who had taken on big companies after large disasters had struck. This was fortuitous for Gambel, as he was a relatively new lawyer working in a small firm. Gambel commented:24

    "When I filed that lawsuit, in hindsight I was just naïve. As a young lawyer and a startup firm, there were a lot of people asking me, ‘How are you going to do this?’”

    Lead Continues to Threaten Children

    Although health risks associated with lead are recognized and well publicized, it hasn’t removed the risk to children. Pediatricians in Oregon take a different approach to testing children for lead levels. Some use the Oregon Health Authority’s recommendations that direct parent questions about exposure when children appear asymptomatic, while other pediatricians take a more aggressive approach, doing blood tests on all 1- to 2-year-old children.25

    A recent study indicates performing blood tests on all children may be warranted.26 The researchers found a significant gap in numbers between those estimated to have elevated blood lead levels (EBLL) and those reported to the health departments. The authors of the study wrote:

    “While we find no evidence of under-ascertainment in a number of states, the majority appear to successfully identify fewer than half of their children with EBLL.”

    Based on their data, the authors estimated there were 1.2 million children with EBLL in the U.S. between 1999 and 2010, which represents a number significantly higher than the number reported. They concluded that under-testing was “endemic” in many states.27 Although the problems with lead-polluted water in Flint, Michigan, raised awareness, many physicians continue to underestimate the number of their patients who may suffer from high lead levels.

    To compound this issue, a recent statement was issued warning that all blood lead levels tested using tests by Meridian Bioscience Inc. may underestimate the amount of lead in the blood.28 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration learned about problems with the Meridian Bioscience tests after a number of complaints surfaced.

    Although the problem with the test is unclear, pediatricians are being advised to retest all patients whose blood test returned with a level less than 10 mcg/dL. It is unclear how many people may need retesting, but it is known this test is used in nearly 50 percent of all blood lead level tests.

    Strategies to Avoid Lead Poisoning

    The issue of preventing lead poisoning is a pressing matter, whether you have young children in your home or not. Adults are certainly adversely affected by lead contamination, including neurological dysfunction. Harvard Medical School offers the following suggestions to protect yourself and your family against lead exposure:29

    • Was your home built before 1978? If so, get it inspected to determine whether it has any lead paint
    • Lead paint removal should be done by a certified professional to ensure safety. The dust is highly toxic. For more information on this, see the EPA’s “Lead-Based Paint Activities Professionals” page30
    • Get your water tested for lead
    • Be mindful of the fact that certain household objects may also contain lead. For information about lead-containing products and recalls, see the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s website31
    • Get your child tested for lead. Ideally, all children should be tested at ages 1 and 2, and again at ages 3 and 4 if you live in an older home. It’s also recommended to test your child’s level whenever there’s concern about exposure. A level of 5 mcg/dL or higher is considered dangerous



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  • How Organic Is Your Organic Milk?
    published on June 19th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    So, you're familiar with the problems associated with conventional pasteurized milk and you've started buying (and paying more for) organic milk instead. If you think you're doing your health a great favor, you may be shocked to find out some organic milk brands contain omega-3-rich oil made from corn syrup-fed algae. As noted by The Washington Post:1

    "'DHA Omega-3 Supports Brain Health,' according to the Horizon cartons sold in supermarkets around the United States. What the Horizon milk carton doesn't advertise is that some of its contents were brewed in closed stainless steel vats of Schizochytrium.

    This omission avoids any ick reaction from shoppers, but consumer advocates say it also dodges a key question: Is milk supplemented with an oil brewed in a factory really 'organic?'

    'We do not think that [the oil] belongs in organic foods,' said Charlotte Vallaeys, a senior policy analyst, at Consumer Reports. 'When an organic milk carton says it has higher levels of beneficial nutrients, like omega-3 fats, consumers want that to be the result of good farming practices … not from additives made in a factory.'"

    Low-Fat Milk Does Not Belong in a Healthy Diet

    Even more ironic, in an effort to appease two divergent health notions — the low-fat myth and omega-3 for brain health ideology — some "organic" milk manufacturers will remove the healthy, naturally occurring fats and replace them with algae-generated DHA oil, creating a high-DHA fat, low-dairy fat product.2 This same DHA has been previously removed from infant formulas or baby foods certified as organic, due to health concerns.

    While I do not recommend whole organic milk for the fact that it's been pasteurized, low-fat versions are even worse since you're now forgoing some of the best parts of the milk — the milk fat. Recent research has actually linked low-fat dairy consumption to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.3

    Compared to people who drank less than one serving of low-fat dairy per day, those who drank three servings or more increased their chances of developing Parkinson's by more than one-third. Worst of all is reduced fat chocolate milk — with or without added DHA and vitamins — as the second ingredient is added sugar!4

    If you want to drink milk, I recommend getting raw grass fed milk — milk from cows raised on pasture under organic conditions that is not pasteurized. The good news is, the American Grassfed Association (AGA) recently introduced much-needed grass fed standards and certification5 for American-grown grass fed dairy, which allows for greater transparency and conformity.

    Prior to this certification, dairy could be sold as "grass fed" whether the cows ate solely grass or received silage, hay or even grains during certain times. Considering how important a cow's diet is when it comes to the quality of its milk, especially when we're talking about raw milk, I would strongly advise you to ensure your raw dairy is AGA certified as grass fed once the certification becomes officially available.

    However, please understand that if you have not trained your body to burn fat as your primary fuel, you will want to avoid or severely limit your intake of even this healthy milk as it is relatively high in sugar and will contribute to your inability to burn fat. Once you make the shift to burning fat as your primary fuel, drinking raw milk in moderation should be fine.

    What Is Organic?

    Organic foods have been shown to improve immune system status and sleep, lower your risk for obesity and cancer, and often have higher antioxidant and mineral contents than conventionally grown foods.6 There are several different organic labels out there, but only one relates directly to foods: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic seal.

    To qualify as USDA organic,7 a product must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity. Crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones.

    • Products labeled "100 percent organic" must contain only organically produced materials
    • Products labeled simply "organic" must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients
    • The label "made with organic ingredients" can contain anywhere between 70 and 95 percent organic ingredients

    Organic products cannot be irradiated, are not allowed to contain preservatives or flavor enhancing chemicals, nor can they contain traces of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).8 Additionally, the pesticide residue level cannot be higher than 5 percent of the maximum pesticide tolerance set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).9

    Is Corn Syrup-Fed, Algae-Based DHA Really Organic?

    Despite all of that, regulatory loopholes and good old-fashioned human error sometimes allow less than organic products to bear the USDA organic label, as appears to be the case with DHA-fortified organic milk. As noted in the featured article:10

    "A closer look at how the oil winds up in organic milk offers insight into how the [USDA] determines what foods may be sold with its coveted 'USDA Organic' seal … At least in part, it's a lobbying tug-of-war: On one side, many companies, seeking to maximize sales, push the USDA for an expansive definition of 'organic.' On the other, consumer groups advocate for a narrower, 'purer,' definition.

    In deciding to allow the use of the oil and similar additives, USDA officials, at least initially, misread federal regulations. In 2012, five years after the algal oil was introduced into milk, it quietly acknowledged that some federal regulations had been 'incorrectly interpreted.' The USDA then maintained the status quo — allowing the use of algal oil, among other things — in order not to 'disrupt' the market."

    10 Years of Violation Is Long Enough

    The manufacturer of the DHA oil, a company called DSM,11 defends its product saying it's vegetarian, sustainable and "does not contribute to overfishing."12 But while DSM believes its life's DHA oil is "consistent with the important values of the organic industry," the additive does appear to violate organic regulations.

    In 2012, several months after the USDA had realized its interpretation mistake, an interim rule was issued that temporarily allowed algal oil to continue being used. At the time, the USDA stated that "This action enables the industry to continue with the status quo until additional public comments are received and a final rule is published."

    Five years have gone by and no final rule was ever issued, which means organic dairy brands have now been selling certified USDA organic DHA-fortified milk in violation of organic standards for an entire decade — five years before the mistake was caught and five years after. Granted, the wheels of the regulatory wagon can be slow in turning, but enough is enough. Could it be that the USDA has silently swept the issue under the rug, hoping it will simply be forgotten? As noted by policy analyst Vallaeys:13

    "Algal oil is one of several nutrient additives that have not gone through this proper review and approval process. It's very disappointing that we have yet to see proper enforcement action from the National Organic Program on this issue."

    It's worth noting that while Martek, a harvester of DHA algae that has since been acquired by DSM, clarified that the microalgae are not genetically modified (GM)14 — a claim made by some — the algae IS fed corn syrup, and Martek did concede that "some" of its corn is GM, "given the prevalence of GM corn in the U.S. market."

    This is a loophole that allows questionable additives and ingredients into organic products. Just like a cow cannot be raised on GM feed and be considered organic, algae fed GM corn syrup should not be deemed organic either.

    Some Organic Dairies Are CAFOs in Disguise

    Aside from the DHA issue, there are other reasons to be wary of commercial organic milk. True organic grass fed milk has been repeatedly shown to be higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene and beneficial conjugated linoleic acid, but some organic dairies are nothing more than concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in disguise, selling milk for higher prices while not actually giving you anything that is substantially different from non-organic milk.

    For example, Aurora Organic Dairy in Colorado has 15,000 cows — about 100 times larger than your typical organic herd — and on any given day, 90 percent of them are kept in feedlots rather than being allowed to roam on pasture. Theoretically, choosing organic milk makes sense, but this holds true only if the farmers are allowing the cows to graze freely on pasture. A May 1 article in The Washington Post15 revealed Aurora was stretching, if not breaking, the limits of the organic grazing rules, noting:

    " … [D]uring visits by The Washington Post to Aurora's High Plains complex across eight days last year, signs of grazing were sparse, at best. Aurora said its animals were out on pasture day and night, but during most Post visits the number of cows seen on pasture numbered only in the hundreds.

    At no point was any more than 10 percent of the herd out. A high-resolution satellite photo taken in mid-July by DigitalGlobe, a space imagery vendor, shows a typical situation — only a few hundred on pasture."

    The Post even had samples of Aurora's organic milk tested for "a key indicator of grass-feeding" (its fatty acid profile), which revealed the milk matched conventional, not organic milk. Adding to the problem, farmers are allowed to hire their own inspectors to be certified USDA Organic.

    In Aurora's case, the Post investigation revealed the inspectors had visited the farm outside of the grazing season, which means they had no way of knowing whether the dairy's grazing habits met the organic requirement. In 2007, the USDA even sanctioned Aurora Organic Dairy for willfully violating organic standards, but the farm was allowed to continue operating after a settlement was reached.

    Legal Complaint Filed Against Fraudulent Organics

    As a result of the Post investigation, the Cornucopia Institute filed legal complaints against Aurora Dairy and Colorado Department of Agriculture, their organic certifier. They've also asked for the removal of the USDA's lead organic regulator, Miles McEvoy. Cornucopia's co-director Mark Kastel explains:16

    "The rigorous investigative work by Peter Whoriskey at The Washington Post clearly illustrates a pattern of long-term corruption by both Aurora Dairy and the USDA's National Organic Program. Our organic regulators have turned a blind eye as giant industrial operations place ethical family-scale dairy farmers at a distinct competitive disadvantage …

    These gross violations of the law were well-documented in a series of complaints we filed against Aurora operations in Texas, and other 'organic' CAFOs in the U.S., as well as their certifiers that have languished at the USDA for over a year and a half without enforcement action."

    In addition to fooling consumers, CAFO-style "organic" farms are also pushing real organic farmers out of business. You might not know it, but we actually have a milk surplus at the moment. Thanks to the unnatural efficiency of swiftly growing dairy CAFOs, milk supply has outpaced demand. This is true of organic milk as well.

    John Boere, a California dairy farmer, used to be an organic farmer but was unable to find a market for his milk, forcing him to switch back to conventional farming at a steep loss. He told Cornucopia:17

    "The surplus of milk is so bad here in California that some organic handlers are being forced to divert organic milk onto the conventional market, at a substantial loss. This contributes to the crumbling farm-gate pricing, and for some, like me, being forced out of organic altogether … If all organic dairies were forced to get 30 percent of their dry matter intake (feed) from pasture, as the law requires, there would be a shortage of organic milk, not a surplus!"

    Arla Defends 'Live Unprocessed' Food Campaign

    In related news, Arla Foods is being sued by a manufacturer of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, also known as rBST).18 The company drew the ire of rBST maker Eli Lilly after it produced a "Live Unprocessed" food campaign in which rBST is depicted as a cartoon monster. The ad campaign also targets the food additive xanthan, depicted as a green alien with six tentacles and three eyes.

    Eli Lilly says the ads — which present rBST as something monstrously unnatural — are "built upon a fundamental deception" and that "rBST is not dangerous and is not something consumers should fear." Arla is being sued for breaching unfair competition laws and violating the 1946 Lanham Act, the federal trademark statute that prohibits trademark infringement, trademark dilution and false advertising.

    Arla has countered with a motion to dismiss the complaint, saying "There are no allegations sufficient to claim that Arla's actions proximately caused the harm about which Plaintiff's complain."

    Arla also noted that in International Dairy Foods Association vs. Boggs (2010), it was found that "milk from cows treated with rBST contained higher levels of compounds, including pus, that accelerated the spoiling of the milk, increased fat content and decreased levels of proteins; and elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, a hormone linked to several types of cancer."

    Where to Find Raw, Grass Fed Milk, Meats and Other Organic Foods

    If you're going to drink milk, consider switching to raw, grass fed milk if you can get it. Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund19 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.20 California residents can find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

    Also keep an eye out for the brand-new AGA grass fed certification. In the meantime, their website allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; and born and raised on American family farms.

    The Grassfed Exchange also has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S., and the Weston A. Price Foundation has local chapters in most states. Many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

    Another excellent resource is the Cornucopia Institute, which maintains web-based tools rating certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.




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  • Factory Farms Consuming the US
    published on June 19th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Industrial agriculture, characterized by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and vast swatches of genetically engineered (GE) monocrops, are touted as necessary to feed the world. At one time not long ago, it was up to small family farms to provide the food for nearby communities and ensure food security for the U.S. In an essay adapted from John Ikerd's presentation at the 10th Annual Farm and Food Leadership Conference — Farm Policy at a Crossroads: A Time to Choose — it's explained:1

    "U.S. farm policies from the 1930s through the 1960s were premised on the proposition that food security could best be assured by keeping independent family farmers on the land. Family farmers had been the cultural foundation of American society and were committed to maintaining the productivity of their land — not only for the benefit of their families and communities but also for the food security of their nation."

    Since the 1970s, however, farm policies have overwhelmingly favored the consolidation and industrialization of agriculture and the food supply. Federal farm subsidies, tax credits, crop insurance, price supports and disaster payments favor industrial agriculture and the streamlined production of cheap food. Unfortunately, while the transition has succeeded in providing inexpensive food, it has failed in virtually every other measurable parameter. Ikerd explained:2

    "In spite of reducing the percentage of the average American's disposable income spent for food, they have failed to provide everyone with enough good food to support healthy, active lifestyles. Indeed, the necessary shift in federal farm policy must be supported by public acceptance of the fact that the current industrial agricultural system isn't working and isn't going to work in the future."

    Industrialized Agriculture Leads to Chronic Disease

    In the U.S., genetically engineered (GE) corn is one of the top four most heavily subsidized food crops, so farmers have every reason to plant plenty of it. Unfortunately, since corn is a grain, it breaks down to sugar very rapidly and typically increases your insulin resistance if regularly consumed. Elevated insulin levels in turn are linked to most chronic degenerative diseases, including everything from obesity and diabetes to premature aging.

    In 2016, 15 billion bushels of corn were grown in the U.S. alone, and it's expected to make up 68 percent of the projected U.S. harvest of grains and oilseeds in 2017.3 The intensive corn farming has pushed out many other crops, changing the landscape even in the last 25 years. In North Dakota, for instance, where crops such as wheat, barley and sunflowers were once prevalent, now corn is king.

    Far from providing Americans with critical nutrition, U.S. agricultural policies contribute to the declining health of Americans and worsens the out-of-control obesity epidemic. Current farm subsidies bring you GE high-fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, fast food, junk food, grain-fed beef raised in CAFOs, monoculture and a host of other contributors to our unhealthy contemporary diet.

    The farm subsidies are what's keeping the wheel of this and other unhealthy and cheap food ingredients rolling. Meanwhile, according to Ikerd, "Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and various diet-related cancers are projected to claim about [$1 for every $5] spent for health care in the United States by 2020 — erasing virtually all of the gains in public health over the past several decades."4

    In addition to the corn that's used as cheap fillers in food or for use as animal feed, many farmers turned to growing corn crops for ethanol. Sadly, environmentally beneficial grasslands have been plowed under to make room for more ethanol-producing crops (i.e., corn), even though they're not as good for the environment as once believed. In fact, research shows biofuels such as corn ethanol are not carbon neutral; they're associated with a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions — even worse than gasoline.5

    CAFOs and Industrialized Farming Cause Disastrous Pollution, Losses of Biodiversity

    A meta-analysis of 350 studies conducted by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) recommended a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems.6 While succeeding in growing large volumes of food, the report noted that the current industrial model has generated "negative outcomes on multiple fronts," including:

    • Widespread degradation of land, water and ecosystems
    • Biodiversity losses
    • Persistent hunger and micronutrient deficiencies
    • A rapid rise in obesity and diet-related diseases
    • Livelihood stresses for farmers

    The growing of monoculture crops and widespread reliance on CAFOs, which in turn depend on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and preventive use of antibiotics, were specifically mentioned as downfalls of the system. While tweaking some of these practices could help, the report noted that even this would "not provide long-term solutions to the multiple problems it generates." According to IPES-Food:7

    "What is required is a fundamentally different model of agriculture based on diversifying farms and farming landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods, i.e., 'diversified agroecological systems.'

    There is growing evidence that these systems keep carbon in the ground, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods.

    Data shows that these systems can compete with industrial agriculture in terms of total outputs, performing particularly strongly under environmental stress, and delivering production increases in the places where additional food is desperately needed. Diversified agroecological systems can also pave the way for diverse diets and improved health."

    Living Near a CAFO May Harm Your Lung Function

    The No. 1 cause of air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe is linked to farming and fertilizer — specifically to the nitrogen component of fertilizer used to supposedly enrich the soil and grow bigger crops.8 Research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters even demonstrated that emissions from farming far outweigh other sources of particulate matter air pollution.9 As nitrogen fertilizers break down into their component parts, ammonia is released into the air.

    Ammonia is one of the byproducts of fertilizer and animal waste. When the ammonia in the atmosphere reaches industrial areas, it combines with pollution from diesel and petroleum combustion, creating microparticles. CAFO workers and neighboring residents alike report higher incidence of asthma, headaches, eye irritation and nausea.

    Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine also revealed that markers of lung function were related to how far they lived from CAFOs.10 The closer they lived to the factory farms, and the greater the density of livestock, the more impairments in lung function were revealed. Lung function of neighboring residents declined in concert with increased levels of CAFO-caused ammonia air pollution, the study revealed.11

    Monsanto, DuPont and Other Front Groups Pay Millions Each Year to Protect Industrial Agriculture

    Pesticide makers like Monsanto are in a unique position to profit not only from the sales of chemicals like glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide) but also the sale of GE seeds designed to go with them. A number of food and agriculture industry front groups, many of them backed by corporate donors including Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, BASF and major food companies like Coca-Cola and Kraft, spend more than $25 million a year to improve the steadily declining image of industrial agriculture.12

    Ikerd noted, "The agricultural establishment seems to consider their PR campaign as little more than a 'holding action' against growing public concerns. They are using their political power to establish legislative protections that would prevent effective regulation."13 Meanwhile, an increasing number of people are suing Monsanto over claims that exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The St. Louis Record reported:14

    "The plaintiffs hold Monsanto responsible because the defendant allegedly failed to investigate, study, test or promote the safety or to minimize the dangers to users and consumers of its product, failed to exercise reasonable care to warn of the dangerous risks associated with use and exposure to the product and wrongfully concealed information concerning the dangerous nature of Roundup."

    Most of the approval process for glyphosate was based on studies Monsanto had done by outside contractors. That process began in the late 1970s and concluded around 1983 with the registration of the chemical. According to research scientist and longtime glyphosate researcher Anthony Samsel, Ph.D., Monsanto knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused adenomas and carcinomas in the rats they studied, but has long denied it.

    Now, tissue slides from this early study are being re-examined by pathologists employed by lawyers for the cancer victims to reveal how long the glyphosate-cancer cover-up may have been going on.15

    Did an EPA Official Collude With Monsanto to Protect Glyphosate?

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a paper in October 2015 stating that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,16 even though it was determined to be a "probable carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO). In April 2016, the EPA posted the report online, briefly, before pulling it and claiming it was not yet final and posted by mistake.

    The paper was signed by Jess Rowland (among other EPA officials), who at the time was the EPA's deputy division director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and chair of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC). Email correspondence showed Rowland helped stop a glyphosate investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Monsanto's behalf.

    In an email, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he'd had with Rowland, in which Rowland said, "If I can kill this I should get a medal,"17 referring to the ATSDR investigation, which did not end up occurring. According to Sustainable Pulse, Monsanto was also able to persuade the EPA to change the classification of glyphosate from a Class C Carcinogen (suggestive carcinogenic potential) to Class E, which means there is evidence of noncarcinogenicity in humans.18

    The change occurred while Monsanto was creating Roundup Ready genetically engineered (GE) crops. The news outlet also uncovered 1991 EPA documents detailing a Monsanto-funded study that found it may cause cancer. They reported, "[The study] was 'reviewed' again until it mysteriously showed no carcinogenic potential." The inspector general for the EPA is now initiating a probe into the possible collusion between Rowland and Monsanto.

    Meanwhile, Christopher Portier, the former associate director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, wrote a letter to the president of the European Commission stating that he found eight examples of tumors occurring in glyphosate animal studies that were not used by the government in their conclusion that glyphosate does not cause cancer. The U.S. EPA also neglected to include the aforementioned tumors in their analyses.19

    Agroecology Is the Secret to Feeding the World

    A team of 900 scientists funded by the World Bank and United Nations determined that the use of industrialized agriculture including GE crops is simply not a meaningful solution to the complex situation of world hunger.20 Instead, the scientists suggested that "agroecological" methods would provide the most viable means to ensure global food security, including the use of traditional seed varieties and local farming practices already adapted to the local ecology.

    Industrial agriculture ensures that the business of food is highly concentrated, not only in terms of being a monoculture with very few crop varieties available, but also in terms of ownership of these few precious crops.

    This concentrated power of food diversity and of the food supply actually ensures food insecurity. Meanwhile, problems with hunger are typically not related to a shortage in food production but rather to poverty, problems with the way that food is used and distributed and the types of food being grown in the first place.

    José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, is among those who understand the need for urgent changes in industrial agriculture. He, too, cited agroecology as a practical solution to improve food security and nutrition — ending hunger and malnutrition — worldwide.21 At present, most governments around the world are subsidizing and/or promoting a food production system that is unsustainable.

    Moreover, it's done at the cost of both human and environmental health. Yet, research suggests a switch to sustainable agriculture could easily be done, allowing farmers to produce the same amount of food on the same amount of land while cutting out chemical fertilizers.

    As IPES-Food noted, "Change is already happening. Industrial food systems are being challenged on multiple fronts, from new forms of cooperation and knowledge-creation to the development of new market relationships that bypass conventional retail circuits."22

    You can help to prompt significant change in the agricultural industry by boycotting CAFO and GE products and instead purchasing food grown only by local farmers who are using natural methods and soil-regenerative techniques, such as no-till, cover crops, composting and livestock integration.

    Look for farmers markets, food co-ops and direct-from-the-farm sales in your area — these sustainable alternatives are growing rapidly across the U.S. and will offer you fresher, healthier food and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to drive permanent positive changes in food production.




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  • Sanderson and Merck Caught Deceiving Consumers
    published on June 19th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    In May 2016, I urged you to pressure poultry giant Sanderson Farms to come to its senses and join other major poultry producers in taking proactive steps to reduce its antibiotic use. Remarkably, the company not only decided not to reduce its usage but also took the step of going public with its decision to continue using antibiotics, saying the antibiotic-free chicken trend is nothing but a marketing ploy devised to justify higher prices.

    According to Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, "There is not any credible science that leads us to believe we're causing antibiotic resistance in humans."1 Yet, when the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted an analysis of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) testing for multidrug-resistant E. coli on Sanderson Farms' chicken, they found otherwise.

    Sanderson Farms' Refusal to Cut Antibiotics in Chicken Is Dangerous

    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. With animals packed into tight quarters, fed unnatural diets and living in filth, disease flourishes. Low doses of antibiotics are added to feed as a matter of course, not only to stave off inevitable infectious diseases but also because they cause the animals to grow faster on less food.

    "But there is a terrifying downside to this practice," Scientific American reported. "Antibiotics seem to be transforming innocent farm animals into disease factories."2 The antibiotics may kill most of the bacteria in the animal, but remaining resistant bacteria is allowed to survive and multiply. When the FDA tests raw supermarket chicken, they routinely find antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be present. According to NRDC's analysis of FDA data, this is also true of Sanderson Farms' chicken:3

    "[W]e graph[ed] FDA's testing results for multidrug-resistant E. coli found on retail chicken and Sanderson Farms chicken from 2002 to 2014 … the graph shows that E. coli isolated from Sanderson Farms' chicken had levels of multidrug-resistance that were similar to E. coli from all retail chicken tested.

    While FDA's limited sample size makes it impossible to estimate national resistance rates with statistical confidence, it does provide evidence that Sanderson Farms chicken is indeed part of the problem and is contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance (in addition to spreading E. coli, which can be harmful)."

    Other Chicken Producers, Including Perdue, Slash Antibiotics Usage

    While Sanderson Farms continues to dig in its heals and attempt to deceive the U.S. public that antibiotics belong in CAFO food production, other big names in the industry have made positive changes. Perdue announced in October 2016 that it had ended the routine use of antibiotics company-wide, only using antibiotics when chickens get sick (in about 5 percent of their birds). They're now marketing their poultry under a "no antibiotics ever" label.

    Perdue has stopped using not only antibiotics used to treat humans, but also ionophores, a class of antibiotics used exclusively in animals and more commonly in ruminant animals such as cows. The use of the antibiotic in poultry farming is to control parasitic illnesses in CAFOs, where disease spreads quickly.

    Perdue chairman Jim Perdue told NPR they're eliminating antibiotics due to marketing reasons and consumer demand, noting "Our consumers have already told us they want chicken raised without any antibiotics."4 The company is even using natural herbs and vitamins to help the chickens stay healthy. They put oregano in the chicken's water and thyme in their feed to supply antioxidants and boost immune function.5

    What Does It Mean When a Label Claims 'Antibiotic Free?'

    When sorting through "antibiotic free" labels available, it's important to be aware of the "fine print" in some cases. In Perdue's No Antibiotics Ever program, it means just that. However, if the label states only "responsible antibiotic use," "veterinarian-approved antibiotic use," "no antibiotic residue" or "100% natural," antibiotics may have been used in the hatchery while the chick is in the egg.

    Even if a product is labeled organic, it could have had antibiotics used in the hatchery. The exception is if it is labeled organic and "raised without antibiotics." In this case, it means no antibiotics were used at any point. Other loopholes include stating "no human antibiotics," but this means other animal antibiotics may be used. Unfortunately, as Consumer Reports noted:6

    "This still allows for the use of antibiotics that aren't medically important, which can lead to antibiotic resistance to other drugs. 'Resistance genes don't discriminate,' says Tara C. Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of public health at Kent State University. Genes that create resistance to medically important antibiotics can tag along with what we think of as less crucial drugs, leading to similar consequences, in the long term, to using those critical ones."

    Claims to watch out for include the "no growth-promoting antibiotics" label and the no "critically important" antibiotics label or claims. In the former case, it means antibiotics may still be used for disease prevention and in the latter, most critically important antibiotics aren't used in poultry production anyway, so the "claim doesn't translate to meaningful change in antibiotic use," according to Consumer Reports.7

    While Perdue has made some meaningful changes in antibiotics usage, they're still perpetuating the inhumane and unsustainable CAFO model, so the best place to get chicken and eggs is from a local producer, or raise them yourself. If you have to go commercial, definitely avoid companies continuing to use antibiotics, like Sanderson Farms, and support those committed to eliminating their use. I strongly encourage you to support the small family farms in your area.

    Merck Covers Up Pesticide Devastating Sea Life

    Corporate farms like Sanderson are not alone in their desire to deceive the public about a dangerous practice or product. In related news, pharmaceutical giant Merck, known as MSD Animal Health in the U.K., produces a pesticide called Slice, which contains emamectin benzoate and is used to kill sea lice — a major problem among farmed salmon raised in "CAFOs of the sea."

    Slice persists in the salmon's tissues and the environment for weeks to months,8 and Scotland's Sunday Herald reported in early 2017 that at least 45 lochs were contaminated with emamectin benzoate.9

    It was previously revealed that the chemical may be hazardous to lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans inadvertently exposed,10 but a second report supposedly took major issue with the findings. It turns out that Merck had hired the reviewers to write a critique of the study in order to protect the reputation of their toxic pesticide and, worse, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) reportedly allowed it to happen. The Sunday Herald continued:11

    "Merck's behind-the-scenes influence has been exposed by more than 70 megabytes of internal documents released by the Crown Estate under freedom of information law. They also show that government and industry agreed not to issue a press release on the study.

    The revelations have been described as 'extraordinary' by environmentalists, who are demanding a ban on the pesticide. Merck said that the study had 'limitations' and the Scottish Government defended the anonymity of reviewers. We … reported that Sepa had suppressed a report about emamectin and ditched a plan to ban it after pressure from the fish farming industry. But until now the role of Merck has remained hidden."

    Farmed Fish Are Spreading Disease

    The problems that occur on land do not disappear once intensive farming moves to the sea, which is why industrial fish farming, or aquaculture, is turning out to be just as damaging as land-based CAFOs. Raised in high numbers in crowded quarters, in unnatural environments and fed an unhealthy diet, "the consequence has been the emergence and spread of an increasing array of new diseases," according to a review published in the journal Veterinary Research.12

    Among them is heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), which has been detected in farmed fish in Norway and British Columbia. HSMI has been responsible for devastating commercial fish farms in Norway, where it is considered the No. 3 cause of mortality, according to a 2015 annual report by seafood company Marine Harvest.13

    There's also the highly lethal infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus, also known as salmon influenza. First detected in Norway in 1984, infection spread to other countries via egg imports. According to biologist Alexandra Morton, at least 11 species of fish in British Columbia's Fraser River have been found to be infected with European-strain ISA virus, yet the Canadian food inspection agency has aggressively refuted the findings.

    Morton tested farmed salmon purchased in various stores and sushi restaurants around British Columbia, and samples tested positive for at least three different salmon viruses, including ISA, salmon alphaviruses and piscine reovirus, which gives salmon a heart attack and prevents them from swimming upriver. Worse still, Morton and colleagues have also found traces of ISA virus in wild salmon.14 For more details, check out the documentary "Salmon Confidential."

    A February 2017 study published in PLOS One supports Morton's findings: It identified HSMI on a British Columbia salmon farm15 and noted that outbreaks often occur after the fish are exposed to stressful events, such as algal bloom or treatment for sea lice.16

    Avoid Being Deceived: Find Outlets for Safer, Humanely Raised Food

    The companies in favor of producing food on a mass scale have their profits, not your or the animals' interests, at heart. The use of antibiotics and chemical treatments to kill sea lice are often regarded as a necessary cost of doing business, regardless of what it means for the future spread of antibiotic-resistant disease or welfare of the environment. Further, while CAFOs and fish farms promote the spread of disease, traditional farming practices combat it.

    At small, regenerative and diversified farms, where pigs, hens and cattle are raised together in a sustainable way, there are many reasons why disease is kept to a minimum, even without the use of antibiotics.

    The animals have more space to move around, for starters, making them hardier than those raised in confinement. They are weaned at a later age, which builds their immune systems. Even exposure to the sun, a natural sanitizer, is helpful, while a pig allowed to roll in mud enjoys a natural anti-parasitic. Scientific American further reported:17

    "In a 2007 study, Texas Tech University researchers reported that pigs that had been raised outside had enhanced activity of bacteria-fighting immune cells called neutrophils when compared with animals raised inside."

    You can do your part and help protect your health by rethinking where you buy your food. Choosing food that comes from small regenerative farms — not CAFOs — is crucial. While avoiding CAFO meats, look for antibiotic-free alternatives raised by organic and regenerative farmers. As for seafood, choose wild caught and MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified labels. As with other foods, your best bet may be to buy your fish from a trusted local fish monger.




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  • Paying Respect to Dr. Kummerow
    published on June 18th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    As they say, patience is a virtue, and that's part of what it took for Dr. Fred A. Kummerow to accomplish what was arguably his most important work: spearheading a federal ban on synthetic trans fats in processed foods. It took nearly 50 years of what The New York Times described as his "contrarian" nature to get the job done, and it wasn't an easy task.

    Kummerow, a comparative biosciences professor at the University of Illinois, died on June 2, 2017, at the age of 102. He had studied trans fats for decades — long before they were an issue in the minds of food scientists. Despite opposition and even ridicule (such as heckling by industry representatives at scientific conferences, according to his local Champaign, Illinois, newspaper, the News-Gazette1), his tenacity eventually facilitated changes in the American diet that have undoubtedly saved thousands of lives.

    Perhaps it was his perseverance in working toward his goal that spurred Kummerow on to centenarian status. He started with a petition targeted toward the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009. The agency's failure to respond led — just a few months before his 99th birthday — to his lawsuit against the agency in 2013. Two years later, the FDA agreed to start the process of banning all synthetic trans fats from food. The ban is set to go into effect in 2018.

    A few brief snapshots of some of Kummerow's most pivotal moments in the fight hint at the importance of this accomplishment: He was both one of the first to suggest an association between processed foods and heart disease, and the key figure behind the FDA lawsuit, which asked the administration to simply be more responsible for the decisions the agency made that could (and did) make or break the health of consumers.

    Robert Jones, chancellor at the university, called Kummerow both a "trailblazer" and "maverick."2 Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which began working toward the use of safer oils in foods in the 1980s, noted that "for many years, he was a lonely voice in the wilderness."3

    What Are Trans Fats and Why Are They so Bad?

    Trans fats, The New York Times explains, are "derived from the hydrogen-treated oils used to give margarine its easy-to-spread texture and prolong the shelf life of crackers, cookies, icing and hundreds of other staples in the American diet."4

    If you want to get technical, trans fats are synthetic fatty acids. Kummerow pointed out that trans fats, which are not found in animal or vegetable fats, prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin,5 which studies show your body needs to prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries. The natural result, all too often, is sudden death.

    Synthetic trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oil can cause heart disease, as can oxidized cholesterol, which is formed when cholesterol is heated, such as in the case of fried foods. The sad fact is, about 95 percent of the foods Americans eat are processed. The elimination of processed foods (or any foods containing trans fat) may be the single most important change you make in your diet. Here's an encouraging word: Your body can eliminate the built-up trans fats it contains in about a month.

    Kummerow was the first scientist to identify trans fat as the true culprit behind clogged arteries, which for years were blamed on saturated fats (and still are, in some circles). The opposition was tremendous. Part of the problem, the News-Gazette reported, was that politics were in play, overpowering a desire for the public to be healthier as a result of governmental food policies. He was quoted in an interview:

    "Professor Kummerow said that in the 1960s and 1970s the processed food industry, enjoying a cozy relationship with scientists, played a large role in keeping trans fats in people's diets."6

    Kummerow told The New York Times, rather tongue in cheek, that "other scientists were more interested in what the industry was thinking than what I was thinking." Although Kummerow found a direct correlation between heart disease and trans fat consumption in women, which he called the "tip of the iceberg" after finding another disturbing link between trans fat and type 2 diabetes in women, it took another 20 years for the scientific community to acknowledge there might be something to his research.

    Early Years: Influences and Opportunities

    In a short autobiographical sketch,7 Kummerow outlined details of his life that offer insights regarding his early years, which undoubtedly influenced his work ethic as well as his chosen profession. He was born in Berlin in 1914. In 1923, a relative offered his father a job in a concrete block factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which ultimately helped them escape Germany's growing political turmoil.

    He particularly remembered the gift of a chemistry set when he was 12, which he credited to his immediate and passionate interest in food science. Kummerow's school career followed a fairly straightforward path: Milwaukee's Boys Technical School ("because they had a three-year chemistry course"), the chemistry department at the University of Wisconsin in 1936 and graduate studies in the school's department of biochemistry four years later. He explained:

    "My Ph.D. research involved identifying the chemistry of a factor in the blood (linoleic acid) that keeps the blood from clotting in the arteries and veins. This is a particularly important factor in today's cardiovascular disease research since that clotting affects the blood flow from the heart."8

    In 1945, he was asked by Kansas State University to work on the technology of food storage, especially those containing fat, noting how food containing certain fat goes rancid quickly, an important observation in the throes of World War II. When the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps granted contracts to universities to work on the development of food storage methods in extreme conditions, he gained one of them, as well as a subsequent citation for his work in 1948.

    Dr. Kummerow: Tenacious, Contrary and, Ultimately, Right

    The citation itself, awarded at Fort Knox, was a stepping stone to his next project as a biochemist at the University of Illinois in 1950 to continue his lipid research, which he continued for the remainder of his long career. Kummerow wrote:

    "In 1948, the U.S. Congress created the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and made research funds available on a variety of topics, including diet and health. The NIH was mandated to fund research on cancer and other diseases, but only a few million dollars per year were allocated for heart research until after President Eisenhower's heart attack in 1955.

    With money available from NIH grants to study heart disease, I began to work in that field. The effect of cholesterol on heart disease was one avenue of study and was the one I followed. Almost everyone now has heard of cholesterol and its possible link to heart disease, with recommendations (I disagree with) to cut back on eating cholesterol containing foods such as eggs and meat, and saturated fats in foods like butter."9

    When Kummerow began studying trans fats in foods in 1957 and documenting his concerns about their negative effects, he was able to show how arteries in heart disease patients literally changed in composition and developed blockages unrelated to dietary cholesterol or blood cholesterol, causing an imbalance in nutrients that can also lead to obesity. The New York Times wrote of Kummerow:

    "He had been one of the first scientists to suggest a link between processed foods and heart disease. In the 1950s, while studying lipids at the university, he analyzed diseased arteries from about two dozen people who had died of heart attacks and discovered that the vessels were filled with trans fats."10

    Using pigs that had been fed a diet heavy in trans fats in his next study, he revealed the high levels of plaque his porcine subjects' arteries were clogged with. In 1957, while every other scientific institution was blaming the growing number of atherosclerosis cases on saturated fats from foods like cheese, butter and cream, Kummerow published his findings about the dangers of trans fats in the journal Science. It was ignored.

    It took Kummerow's tough stance with the FDA to get them to concede that trans fats are not safe, with the caveat that unless a manufacturer could present convincing scientific evidence that a particular use was safe, they would be banned after June 18, 2018. That's 58 years after Kummerow's first findings told the ugly truth about trans fats. Even now, scores of doctors and hospitals erroneously tell their patients that saturated fats are the problem.

    But today, Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, is just one scientist who credits Kummerow's research and tireless activism for inspiring his own interest in researching trans fat. It led him to include the topic for further investigation as part of Harvard's highly influential Nurses' Health Study, published in 1993. In fact, Willett believes the push for the trans fat ban will save as many as 90,000 people a year from dying prematurely.

    Dr. Kummerow: Perseverance and Passion

    An individual as unique and knowledgeable as Kummerow had, like the rest of us, interesting quirks that may have hinted at some of the larger aspects of how his brain worked. For one, he had many interests, the News-Gazette noted. He wrote letters to five different sitting presidents, members of Congress and others he thought might be able to do something about some of the topics that weighed on his mind, such as energy, nuclear weaponry and the national debt.

    In his biography, Kummerow recalled being an expert witness for several hearings before the Federal Trade Commission on the topic of cholesterol, reports made to a U.S. Senate hearing on nutrition and the biochemistry of cholesterol, co-authoring more than 460 peer-reviewed scientific papers, editing three books and writing chapters in six other books on the role trans fat plays in heart disease.

    He called being made a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American College of Nutrition, the American Society of Nutritional Sciences, the International Atherosclerosis Society, the American Heart Association Council on Arteriosclerosis, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, and the Council of Clinical Cardiology, and involvement with the American Heart Association a "recognition of competence."

    Incidentally, Kummerow noted that his own diet included whole milkred meat and eggs scrambled in butter. After writing his book, "Cholesterol is Not the Culprit: A Guide to Preventing Heart Disease," published just a few years before his death, he summed up the importance of respecting how the body processes food, writing:

    "How the body uses food to make what we need to keep going is an incredible, almost magical, process. We — as well as all animals and plants — are not programmed to live forever, but we can certainly increase the number of high quality years of life."11




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  • Cherries — A Potent Super Food
    published on June 18th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Cherries are a favorite summer treat with a number of health benefits. Harvest season runs from May through July, and with high susceptibility to disease and a short shelf life, cherry season is a short one. An exception is if you grow your own Barbados or West Indian cherry, more commonly known as the acerola cherry.

    I have several acerola trees and harvest cherries nearly nine months of the year. Acerola cherries1 also are one of the highest sources of vitamin C. Each acerola cherry provides about 80 milligrams (mg) of natural vitamin C with all the other important supporting micronutrients, unlike synthetic vitamin C. When I have a bountiful harvest and eat more than 100 cherries, I get close to 10 grams of vitamin C.

    The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C in the U.S. is a mere 75 to 90 mg for women and men respectively, so just one of these cherries can provide you with all the vitamin C you need for the day.

    You pretty much have to grow acerola cherries on your own, though, as they cannot withstand transportation and storage. Deterioration can occur within four hours of harvesting and they ferment quickly, rendering them unusable in five days or less. Unless you intend to use them for juicing, they also do not fare well being kept in the freezer. Sadly, they only grow outdoors in subtropical climates like Florida.

    Tart Versus Sweet Cherries

    Conventional cherries can be divided into two primary categories: sweet and tart (sour). Sweet varieties such as Bing cherries are typically eaten fresh, while Montmorency tart cherries are typically sold dried, frozen or as juice.2 Tart cherries develop a fuller flavor when they're used in cooking, which is why they're often used in baked desserts. As noted by the Cherry Marketing Institute:3

    "When it comes to nutritional science and cherries, most studies involve tart Montmorency cherries. In fact, more than 50 studies have examined the potential health benefits of Montmorency tart cherries, and the research is continuing. 

    This research strongly supports the anti-inflammatory qualities of Montmorency tart cherries, as well as the benefits of muscle recovery and pain relief from conditions like arthritis. Studies have also found that Montmorency tart cherries contain [m]elatonin, a naturally occurring substance that helps regulate sleep patterns."

    One 8-ounce glass of tart cherry juice will give you:4

    • 62 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A (about 20 times more vitamin A than sweet cherries)
    • 40 percent of your RDI of vitamin C
    • 14 percent of your RDI of manganese
    • 12 percent of your RDI of potassium and copper
    • 7 percent of your RDI for vitamin K

    Sweet cherries are a great source of potassium,5 which is important for maintaining normal blood pressure. It plays an important role in your fluid balance, and helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium. Sweet cherries also contain a number of potent anti-cancer agents, including:

    Beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A (retinol), important for healthy vision as well

    Vitamin C, the "grandfather" of the traditional antioxidants, the health benefits of which have been clearly established. It's a powerful antioxidant, which helps neutralize cell-damaging free radicals

    Anthocyanins, including quercetin. Sweet cherries have three times the amount of anthocyanins than tart cherries, and those with deep purple pigments (opposed to red) have the highest amounts.

    Quercetin is among the most potent in terms of antioxidant activity and has a wide range of other health-promoting properties as well. As a group, anthocyanins have been shown to promote cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of mutated cells, thereby reducing your cancer risk

    Cyanidin,6 an organic pigment compound with powerful antioxidant activity. By promoting cellular differentiation, it reduces the risk of healthy cells transforming into cancer cells. One study found cyanidin isolated from tart cherries was superior to that of vitamin E and comparable to commercially available antioxidant products7

    Ellagic acid, this polyphenol "prevents the binding of carcinogens to DNA and strengthens connective tissue," thereby preventing the spread of cancer cells.8 It also inhibits DNA mutations and inhibits cancer by triggering apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells

    Mind Your Portions

    Just beware that cherries, both sweet and tart, are relatively high in fructose. One cup, about 10 pieces, contain about 4 grams of fructose. It's important to take this into account if you're tracking your fructose consumption. I recommend keeping total fructose below 25 grams per day if you're otherwise healthy, or as low as 15 grams if you struggle with health issues associated with insulin resistance. The good news is you don't need to eat much more than a handful to get good amounts of antioxidants.

    Alternatively, if you have confirmed that you are burning fat as your primary fuel and are engaging in cyclical ketogenesis, then, on the days that you are strength training (about twice a week), you can increase your net carbs to 100 or 150 grams, so you can have larger amounts of cherries on those days. Just be sure not to binge on large amounts daily for the entire cherry season as you are just asking for unnecessary metabolic challenges.

    Tart Cherries — A Natural Endurance-Boosting Super Food

    In one recent study,9 Montmorency tart cherries, taken in the form of a juice concentrate, were found to improve athletic performance and recovery among semi-professional soccer players, decreasing post-exercise inflammation and muscle soreness.

    Similarly, athletes consuming tart cherry juice prior to long-distance running experienced less pain than those who did not.10 Other research has confirmed tart cherry juice is a valuable endurance sports drink. As noted by Running Competitor:11

    "The best way to accelerate muscle recovery after exercise is to prevent muscle damage from occurring during exercise. And one of the best ways to do [sic]prevent muscle damage during exercise is to consume the right nutrients before exercise. Tart cherry juice does just that. This was demonstrated in a 2010 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

    Twenty recreational runners consumed either cherry juice or placebo for five days before running a marathon, then again on race day, and for two days afterward as well. The lucky runners who got the cherry juice exhibited less muscle damage immediately after the marathon. They also showed lower levels of inflammation and recovered their muscle strength significantly quicker."

    Cherries, courtesy of their high vitamin C content, may also stave off exercise-induced asthma, the symptoms of which include cough, wheezing and shortness of breath when exercising. A meta-analysis12 from Finland found vitamin C may reduce bronchoconstriction caused by exercise by nearly 50 percent.

    Interestingly, another powerful and natural strategy to accelerate muscle recovery is photobiomodulation. I have a 1-foot by 3-foot panel of red (660 nm) and near-infrared (850 nm) LEDs that I use every day for about five minutes. The bed is a few thousand dollars but you can achieve similar results with a smaller near-infrared device from Amazon.13 It just takes longer as it has fewer LEDs. You also need to remove the plastic lens and put black electrical tape over the green photodiode so it will turn on in the daytime.

    On the days that I lift heavy enough to cause muscle challenges serious enough to make it difficult to sit down or use the toilet the next day, I use the light bed for 10 minutes and that is enough to completely abort the post-exercise stiffness and pain. It is an amazing mitochondrial support; every time I use it, I'm surprised that I can avoid the post-exercise pain and stiffness.

    Cherries Are Potent Anti-Inflammatories

    Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids. Both slow down the enzymes cyclooxyygenase-1 and -2, which helps to relieve and prevent arthritis and gout.14 Gout occurs when the metabolic processes that control the amount of uric acid in your blood fail to do their job effectively.

    The stiffness and swelling are a result of excess uric acid-forming crystals in your joints, and the pain associated with this condition is caused by your body's inflammatory response to the crystals. Dr. Nathan Wei, a nationally known rheumatologist, recalled this story about the powerful effect of cherries on gout:15

    "Dr. Ludwig W. Blau, relating how eating a bowl of cherries one day led to complete relief from pain, sparked off the interest in cherries in the treatment of gout … Blau's gout had been so severe that he had been confined to a wheelchair. One day, quite by accident, he polished off a large bowl of cherries, and the following day the pain in his foot was gone.

    "[Blau] continued eating a minimum of six cherries every day, and he was free from pain and able to get out of his wheelchair … Blau's research led to many other people suffering from gout who reported being helped by cherries."

    In a study16 of over 600 people with gout, those who ate a one-half cup serving of cherries per day for two days, or consumed cherry extract, had a 35 percent lower risk of a subsequent gout attack. Those who ate more cherries, up to three servings in two days, halved their risk. Other studies have found:

    • Eating two servings (280 grams) of sweet Bing cherries after an overnight fast led to a 15 percent reduction in uric acid and lower nitric oxide and C-reactive protein levels (which are associated with inflammatory diseases like gout).17 The researchers noted the study supports "the reputed anti-gout efficacy of cherries" as well as "evidence that compounds in cherries may inhibit inflammatory pathways" 
    • Consuming tart cherry juice daily for four weeks may lower your levels of uric acid18

    By reducing inflammation, the anthocyanin and bioflavonoids in cherries may also help reduce:

    • Migraine headaches. These compounds are actually known to have similar activity to aspirin and ibuprofen
    • Pain from inflammatory osteoarthritis.19 According to one study,20 women with osteoarthritis who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks had significant reductions in markers of inflammation and a 20 percent reduction in pain. The researchers noted that tart cherries have the "highest anti-inflammatory content of any food"

    How Cherries Support Healthy Sleep

    Interestingly, cherries contain natural melatonin,21 a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps "cool down" excess inflammation and associated oxidative stress. It also plays a vital role in sleep, cancer prevention and general regeneration. Based on daily environmental signals of light and darkness, your pineal gland has evolved to produce and secrete melatonin to help you sleep.

    Research suggests that consuming tart cherry juice increases your melatonin levels, thereby improving time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. According to the researchers:22

    "… [C]onsumption of a tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and might be of benefit in managing disturbed sleep."

    Other Health Benefits of Cherries

    Tart and sweet cherries also have a number of other important health benefits. For example, they've been found to:

    Improve risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease. In one animal study, rats fed tart cherry powder along with a high-fat diet gained less weight and accumulated less body fat than rats not fed tart cherries. They also had lower levels of inflammation and triglycerides, suggesting a role in heart health.23

    Quercetin is also known to have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health by reducing your blood pressure. According to a study investigating the effects of quercetin in hypertension, "The results of this meta‐analysis showed a significant effect of quercetin supplementation in the reduction of blood pressure, which suggest that this nutraceutical might be considered as an add‐on to antihypertensive therapy"24

    Reduce your risk of stroke. Tart cherries activate peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR) in tissues, which help regulate genes involved in the metabolism of fat and glucose. PPAR activation has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

    In fact, research suggests eating cherries may provide heart benefits similar to prescription PPAR agonists,25 drugs prescribed for metabolic syndrome. The problem with these drugs is that while they may improve risk factors associated with heart disease, they may increase your risk of stroke instead.

    As reported by Science Daily, 26 "… [R]esearch from the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory suggests that tart cherries not only provide similar cardiovascular benefits as the prescribed medications, but can also reduce the risk of stroke, even when taken with these pharmaceutical options"

    Lower your risk of dementia. Inflammation and oxidative stress are associated with an increased risk for dementia. The polyphenols in tart cherries effectively combat both, thereby lowering your risk of cognitive decline.

    As explained in one recent study,27 "[P]olyphenols from dark-colored fruits can reduce stress-mediated signaling in BV-2 mouse microglial cells, leading to decreases in nitric oxide (NO) production and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. [T]art cherries — which improved cognitive behavior in aged rats … may be effective in reducing inflammatory and OS-mediated signals"

    Lower your risk of colon cancer by substantially reducing formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) when added to hamburger patties. It also slows meat spoilage.28 HAAs are potent carcinogenic compounds created when food is charred, and have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Hamburger patties with just over 11 percent tart cherries in them contained anywhere from 69 to 78.5 percent less HAAs after cooking, compared to regular patties

    Storage and Washing

    To retain the best flavor, consume fresh cherries within two days if kept at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator for longer shelf life. Avoid washing them before storing, as this accelerates deterioration. Instead, wash them immediately before eating.

    As mentioned, growing a few cherry trees or bushes29 in your backyard can provide you with this potent super food for several months out of the year. Relying on commercially available cherries will limit them to just a few weeks a year. I eat a few acerola cherries every day, right from my own organic garden.




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  • Boil Your Unpeeled Carrots for Maximum Nutrition
    published on June 18th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    There are astonishing arrays of vegetables in the world of every shape and color, each representing an amazing commodity. It's incredible that you can put seeds in the ground, give them adequate sunlight and water, and in a matter of weeks or a few months, you have instant food, which your body needs to thrive.

    Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and phytonutrients, such as antioxidants, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates, anthocyanins, carotenoids and a host of other beneficial compounds to provide energy, help your body fight disease, increase your immune function and perform a myriad of other tasks.

    Carrots, one of the sweetest vegetables, are also one of the most popular plant-based foods. They're unique for several reasons, but perhaps one of their most important calling cards is beta-carotene, which can't be manufactured in your body, so it needs to come from your diet. In the days of the Romans and Greeks, carrots were believed to be an aphrodisiac, which may be why they purportedly were used more as a "medicine" than a food.

    Here's another interesting factoid: Daily Mail reports that the first carrots weren't the orange we're used to seeing today, but were developed to have an orange color as a political tribute to the Dutch House of Orange.

    Many of the earliest Dutch citizens were involved in agriculture, and many were known to grow carrots, Tested.com1 reveals, but up to the late 1500s carrots were usually purple, green, white and even black. In the 17th century, when the Dutch republic was formed, carrots with high amounts of orange-hued beta-carotene were cultivated, and they caught on.

    Nutrients in Carrots

    If you've noticed that "carotene" sounds like "carrot," there's a reason. The word came from Nobel prize-winning scientist German scientist Richard Kuhn,2 who crystallized the carotene compound from carrot roots. Beta-carotene is just one of more than 600 carotenoids, responsible for the pigment in colorful foods like dark leafy greens, tomatoes, egg yolks, fruits and salmon (the most healthy option being wild-caught Alaskan salmon).

    Carrots contain higher levels of beta-carotene than any other vegetable or fruit. The reason that's significant is because beta-carotene gives (some) carrots their distinctive orange color, but also converts in your body to vitamin A, which is very good for your vision. You may have heard your mother say eating your carrots would be good for your eyesight, and it happens to be true.

    Numerous minerals "up" the health aspects of carrots, such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, to help build strong bones and a healthy nervous system.

    Calcium is essential for healthy heart muscles; phosphorus is helpful for softening skin and strengthening teeth, hair and bones, while magnesium plays a role in absorbing nutrients, mental development and fat digestion. Carrot consumption is also good for body-beneficial potassium, vitamins C and B6, copper, thiamine and folic acid. Fiber is another benefit, which helps move food through your system for easier elimination and better health overall.

    How to Extract the Most Nutrition From Your Carrots

    Most people assume eating carrots raw is the way to get the most nutrition,3 but science reveals that's not always the case. It turns out that cooking carrots whole, skin intact, without chopping, slicing, grating, shredding or peeling them, is the best way to obtain the most nutrients when they're eaten (although you should scrub them first to remove surface dirt).

    Once they're cooked, they can be chopped in the manner you desire. Just before serving, add a little olive or coconut oil and butter for the highest nutrition, experts say.

    Researchers also maintain that boiling carrots in their unchopped state makes them taste better. Nearly 100 volunteers took the taste test, and 80 percent of them came to that conclusion. Independent nutritionist Carrie Ruxton wondered if the same benefits might come from vegetables belonging to the carrot family with a similar size and texture, such as parsnips.

    In 2013, Dr. Kirsten Brandt found in an animal study that when rats were fed carrots or isolated falcarinol, they were a third less likely to develop full-scale tumors than the others. More recently, Brandt and colleague Ahlam Rashed, from Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, concluded from another study4 that carrots boiled before being cut contained 25 percent more falcarinol, and as a result, 25 percent more cancer-fighting capabilities, than those chopped beforehand. Daily Mail reported:

    "Cut carrots have a higher surface area in contact with the water, resulting in greater loss of nutrients compared with boiling them whole. The heat softens the cell walls in the vegetable, allowing vitamins and falcarinol to leach out. Dr. Brandt said: 'The great thing about this is it's a simple way for people to increase their uptake of a compound we know is good for you. All you need is a bigger saucepan.'"5

    Different Veggies Require Different Preparation Methods

    Different preparation methods are used on different veggies to get the most nutrition. Rodale's Organic Life asserts:

    "Cooking vegetables helps to soften their tough fibrous exteriors and loosen up all the nutritional good stuff that lies inside. In fact, some vegetables, such as tomatoes, are actually more healthful if you eat them cooked, because the process of cooking them boosts their level of the potent antioxidant lycopene.

    The only problem is, not all cooking methods are the same. Some boost nutrient content; some take it away. Some add unwanted fat, while others add the crucial amount for your body to absorb all the nutrients in vegetables."6

    Broccoli is best steamed for three or four minutes to release the maximum amount of its most beneficial nutrient — sulforaphane — in a process that eliminates epithiospecifier protein, which is heat sensitive and destroys the sulfur. Steaming it briefly also retains the enzyme myrosinase, the agent that converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. Further, boiling your broccoli (or microwaving it) eliminates the desirable myrosinase.

    Safe Cooking Options to Retain Nutrients

    What are some other healthy ways to cook veggies? Griddles or frying pans are one way — if it's stainless steel, titanium, ceramic, glass or enamel. When you use nontoxic pots and pans, most vegetables not only retain the valuable, good-for-you compounds but also make it easy to observe in the process. Rodale's Organic Life7 lists several common methods of preparing veggies, starting with baking:

    "Baking, or roasting, is hit or miss. Based on the study results, bake your artichokes, asparagus, broccoli and peppers, all of which retained their antioxidant values, but not your carrots, Brussels sprouts, leeks, cauliflower, peas, zucchini, onions, beans, celery, beets and garlic, which all saw decreases in nutrient levels.

    Where baking really shines is with green beans, eggplant, corn, Swiss chard and spinach, all of which saw their antioxidant levels increase after baking. Toss a handful of those veggies into your next casserole."8

    • Steaming — Some scientists say tossing veggies with a little oil, such as coconut or avocado oil, used after the heating is finished, helps boost nutrient absorption.
    • Sautéing — For some reason, studies don't seem to recommend sautéing, but it's interesting to note that this is the preferred method used by The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to helping people cook and eat for optimal health. In fact, the site notes that it "produces a much richer flavor."9
    • Boiling — It only makes sense that if you cover your veggies with water and boil them, many if not most of the nutrition will dissipate. Peas, cauliflower and zucchini, in particular, lose much of what they offer. If you must boil your vegetables, save the nutrient-rich water to use for soup or sauce. Carrots, as previously mentioned, are an exception to this rule.
    • Frying — This cooking method is, not surprisingly, the one that fails the test in terms of retaining antioxidants and other nutritive advantages in cooked food. Frying is said to be responsible for food losing between 5 percent and 50 percent of each vegetable's nutrients.

    Caveats (Like Carcinogens) to Circumvent When Cooking

    Another important caveat: When you want to eat something healthy on one hand and nontoxic on the other, make sure your griddle, skillet, roaster, saucepan or any other tool you use for heating does not have a nonstick chemical coating. It's a toxin looking for a place to happen.

    These nonstick options, used since the 1940s, may make cooking convenient, but the bits that peel off over time eventually get into your food and into your system, as well as release toxic fumes when heated to high temperatures. The American Cancer Society notes:

    "Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is another man-made chemical (known as fluorotelomers) … (with) the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present worldwide at very low levels in just about everyone's blood."10

    Additionally, many food manufacturers recommend microwaving for convenience, even packaging foods in plastic bags or containers that can be popped into the microwave for "no muss and no fuss." But there are many problems and potential problems with microwave use: Vital nutrients might be lost, antibodies degraded, protein chemistry altered and white blood cells impaired due to thermic effects. Microwaving may also have detrimental effects on your heart.

    The second problem is that many people use plastic in microwaves, which may cause chemicals they contain to leach into your food. That's not all: There are two other things to pay attention to regarding the oils you use for cooking, as some have much higher smoke points than others. While olive oil is a great oil to use in salads and other foods, for instance, it's not good for cooking. Coconut oil and butter are much safer fats to use that are also very healthy for you.

    The second thing to watch is the temperatures you use when you cook. Be aware that when the heat is too high, it can destroy nutrients and even create the formation of harmful (aka carcinogenic) substances. As in everything else, especially nowadays, it seems, when it comes to the foods you eat, researching as much as possible is only prudent.

    Carrot Color Makes a Difference

    As mentioned earlier, carrots once came in a rainbow of colors and weren't cultivated to be orange until much later. Adventurous gardeners and horticulturalists are getting into their roots, though, so to speak, and resurrecting carrot colors that are every bit as nutritious, just in different ways. You may have seen some of these colors showing up at local farmers markets, if not in your neighborhood grocery store.

    In the cultivation process, scientists have also been exploring ways to breed more nutrients into these many-colored carrots, while at the same time attempting to get consumers more interested.

    There have been eye rolls, however, says Philipp Simon, plant geneticist in the horticulture department at the USDA's College of Agricultural & Life Sciences in the University of Wisconsin. He and his team are looking to develop carrot varieties that are unusual in hue but still acceptable to people used to buying orange, while still tasting good and offering health benefits. Healthland,11 Time's food segment, lists the nutritional aspects different carrot hues offer:

    • Red — Lycopene and beta-carotene pigment, linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer
    • Yellow — Xanthophylls and lutein are associated with cancer prevention and eye health
    • Orange — Beta- and alpha-carotene pigment provide vitamin A
    • White — Mild, with high fiber content
    • Purple — Anthocyanin, beta- and alpha-carotenes may provide extra vitamin A for heart disease protection; have a sweeter and sometimes "peppery" flavor

    Healthland adds:

    "Thanks to Simon's efforts, carrots today have about 75 percent more beta-carotene (a pigment used by the body to make vitamin A) than the carrots available 25 years ago. His team at the University of Wisconsin partners with USDA's Agricultural Research Service, which supports scientists working on ways to improve Americans' nutritional intake."12




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  • Tasty Chocolate Fat Bomb Truffles Recipe
    published on June 17th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    Tasty Avocado Bomb Truffles

    Recipe from Jennafer Ashley of Paleohacks

     

    Chocolate truffles are a popular type of confectionery composed of a chocolate coating and ganache, a filling made by mixing chocolate and cream. The ingredients are mixed together and rolled into balls, which are then served as gifts or eaten for a quick snack.[i] Their name comes from their similar appearance to truffles, a type of mushroom prized in the culinary world for its unique aroma and flavor.[ii]

     

    However, most chocolate truffles sold today contain lots of sugar, which can wreak havoc on your health when consumed. I believe it’s far better to make your own chocolate truffles using raw, organic ingredients that can provide a multitude of health benefits. Plus, it’ll taste better, too!

     

    This chocolate and avocado truffle recipe by Jennafer Ashley of Paleohacks is a great example. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but also easy to prepare.

     

    Ingredients:

     

    ·         2 small ripe, organic avocados

    ·         1 cup raw of cacao powder

    ·         2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder for dusting

    ·         3 tablespoons of Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil, melted

    ·         2 tablespoons of  Dr. Mercola’s raw honey

     

    Procedure:

     

    1.       In a mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, avocado and honey. Use a hand mixer on medium speed to mix the ingredients until they reach a smooth consistency.

    2.       Gradually mix in 1 cup of raw cacao powder until it completely combines with the other ingredients. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

    3.       Using a tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll it into balls. Dust with the reserved cacao powder.

    4.       Store in the refrigerator, then serve once chilled.

     

    Note: This recipe makes 12 truffles.

     

    Avocado Is a Nutrient Powerhouse

     

    In this recipe, avocado serves as the ganache. This fruit is actually one of the most nutritious foods you can eat because of its high amounts of healthy fat. In fact, I enjoy one myself almost every day. This allows me to increase my intake of healthy fat and other vitamins without going over my protein and carbohydrate limit.

     

    But what makes avocado really good for you? In one study, avocado has been found to contain phytochemicals that can help destroy oral cancer cells.[iii] In another study, Japanese researchers suggest that avocado may help protect against liver damage, based from their tests on mice.[iv] Furthermore, avocado may enhance your stomach’s ability to absorb carotenoids when it is eaten with other ingredients.[v]

     

    Raw, Organic Chocolate Is Rich in Antioxidants

     

    There’s no doubt that people all over the world love chocolate, but most varieties sold today are loaded with sugar, which can adversely affect your health over time. You can circumvent this problem by consuming raw, organic chocolate instead.

     

    Cacao, the plant from which chocolate comes, is rich in various antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a perfect complement to avocado. In one study, diabetics were given a cocoa drink rich in flavonols (a type of antioxidant). After one month, researchers noted that the test subjects had improved blood vessel function.[vi] In addition, chocolate may help:[vii]

     

    Improve exercise endurance

    Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

    Reduce stress hormones

    Lower your blood pressure and improve your lipid profile

    Reduce the symptom of glaucoma and cataracts

    Protect against preeclampsia in pregnant women

    Improve liver function for those who have cirrhosis

    Improve endothelial function

     

    Coconut Oil Adds More Health Benefits to the Recipe

     

    Coconut oil is one of the best ingredients you can add to your kitchen arsenal. In fact, I use it a lot in my own cooking. When added to your food regularly, coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) can help optimize your health.

     

    For one, MCFAs are a great source of healthy energy compared to sugar. When digested, they are immediately converted by your liver and used up by your body as fuel, instead of being stored as fat. Furthermore, coconut oil may help:

     

    ·         Promote healthy brain function: Ketones produced by coconut oil may serve as an alternative healthy source of energy for brain cells, which may help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.[viii]

    ·         Boost your immune system: The fatty acids that make up coconut oil contain antimicrobial properties, which can help eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses in your gut.[ix]

    ·         Promote weight loss: Coconut oil can help manage your weight in the long run by making you feel full longer. In one study, those who ate more MCFAs on a daily basis consumed 256 fewer calories.[x]

    ·         Improve oral health: The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil can help promote healthy gums and teeth. Rinsing it around your mouth (also known as oil pulling) can help reduce plaque and decay-causing bacteria.[xi]

     

     

    About the Author:

    Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo: from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.







  • How to Recover From Burnout By Rebalancing Your Life
    published on June 17th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Burnout is becoming a more common problem in the United States and around the world. How can you avoid it or recover from it if you've already hit the proverbial wall? Dr. Joseph Maroon, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has written a book that addresses these very questions.

    "Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life" grew out of his own struggles with burnout, setbacks and depression after he'd become a world-class neurosurgeon before the age of 40.

    "I've had rather impressive success [and] cataclysmic failure personally," Maroon says. "I was intent on becoming the very best that I could in terms of my profession, neurosurgery. I worked extremely diligently. It became an all-encompassing pursuit for me in my life … with success, societal approval, writing papers, going to national meetings …

    Soon after becoming chief of neurosurgery at a major university hospital, I [cracked]. My father died, my wife and children left me, I had to quit my profession as a neurosurgeon due to the overwhelming stress … all within one week … The next week, I [was] helping my mother run a rather dilapidated truck stop left to her by my father in Wheeling, West Virginia, living on a farm.

    One day I was doing brain surgery and [the next] literally filling up 18-wheelers and flipping hamburgers in a rundown truck stop. It was a great fall. It was kind of like an Icarian metaphor of flying too near the sun. I got scorched and I plummeted into the sea — a sea of depression."

    Recognizing Burnout

    Maroon went through all of the symptoms of burnout, which are now reported in 50 percent of physicians: emotional and physical exhaustion, loss of perspective, depression and a lack of connection to his work. In "Square One," Maroon describes how after he'd reached rock bottom, he rediscovered a book he'd received years before as a high school prize. Written by William H. Danforth, the thin book, "I Dare You," became a real turning point:

    "What Danforth emphasized was that balance is the most important thing to attain, to live life as a whole person," Maroon says. "To attain balance, you have to really take into consideration, what are your priorities, what you do, speak and interact with on daily basis.

    Balance requires you prioritize the social side or family, the spiritual side and the physical side, including diet in equal terms as your work side. Danforth depicts this concept as a square with four equal sides."

    Square One — Regaining Balance

    Danforth emphasizes that you have not one but four lives to live, and these four entities make up the sides of a square:

    1. Physical life
    2. Spiritual life
    3. Work life
    4. Relationship life

    When Maroon analyzed how much time he spent on each of these, he realized the problem: There was no family, spirituality or physical sides to his existence because he had become consumed by his work. It was only when he began to exercise that he got healthy enough to begin to rebalance his life.

    "Pretty soon, my neurotransmitters, if you would, were in balance. I began to lose weight. It was the physical and then subsequently the spiritual aspect to a semblance of balance," he says. A year later, he was back working as a neurosurgeon and eventually competing as an Ironman Triathlete.

    "I literally was a dropout, burned-out from all work all the time. It was through exercise and its incredibly powerful effect on my brain, that increased my dopamine, the brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) that makes new brain cells, new synaptic connections and neuroplasticity, that really started me back into my profession and life, and back into a balanced place."

    Indeed, research clearly shows exercise is one of the most effective ways to reverse symptoms of depression. The great news is you don't even need an enormous amount of exercise to get and stay healthy, and I strongly recommend targeted high-intensity training to get the most out of every minute.

    My new favorite is a slightly modified version of the Zach Bush Nitric Oxide Dump (demonstrated below), which takes only three minutes. Do that two or three times a day, and then add in some mobility exercises and walking. These are simple strategies that don't cost you anything that can make an enormous difference.

    Nutritional Ketosis for Brain Health

    In more recent years, Maroon has collaborated with Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., an expert on the metabolic basis of cancer, and together they've written a couple of important articles on malignant brain tumors.

    "I read Tom's papers and subsequently contacted him and Miriam Kalamian [about the] ketogenic diet as a way to possibly aid in the treatment of brain tumors…. I went on a ketogenic diet myself," he says. "It's a very difficult diet without help. I'm an incredible proponent of what Tom's teaching, lecturing and recommending to get the diet right."

    After reading your [Dr. Mercola] recent book, 'Fat for Fuel,' you've done a tremendous service to help [those] who want to go on the mitochondrial metabolic diet, essentially a ketogenic diet. You have guidelines in there and explanations that are beautifully outlined and absolutely needed, not only for brain tumors but for any patient with a malignant tumor that depends on glucose for its metabolic substrate.

    In "Fat for Fuel," I strongly emphasize the importance of cycling in and out of ketosis once you've made the transition to burning fat as your primary fuel. Staying in nutritional ketosis indefinitely can result in loss of muscle mass, which is hardly beneficial for your health.

    Once your body regains the ability to burn fat as its primary fuel, it is best to cycle in and out of ketosis, intermittently eating 200 to 300 percent more healthy net carbs and fruits, but do it in a sensible fashion where you still maintain the metabolic flexibility to burn fat. Maroon experienced adverse effects just as I did when he experienced excessive nutritional ketosis.

    "I became weaker. I didn't have the stamina, the strength. I continued to train for triathlons. I found myself not having enough fuel to do that … When I read your outline of how to approach this … it [worked] so well for patients. [It's] understandable, doable and it's basically what I evolved to on my own. You've been able to beautifully elucidate it …

    I think the various diseases that it's good for … [includes] everything from fibromyalgia to arthritis, cancer [and] neurodegenerative diseases of the brain. I clearly have recommended [nutritional ketosis] as a thing that people can do to, hopefully, prevent amyloid and neurofibrillary tangles to slow down the neurodegenerative process," Maroon says.

    Resilience Is Developed Through Adversity

    Many biological and physical stressors — including exercise, fasting and thermogenesis — activate genes that produce very positive metabolic factors. Maroon's book, "Square One," discusses the concept of epigenetics and the metabolic factors that are activated by each side of the square.   

    Keeping the four sides of the square in balance is key — the physical, work, spiritual and social sides of life. The most important aspects of this is mindful awareness of all four sides and the ability to handle adversity and stress.

    "We all know that you can't avoid stress in this world — bad relationships, divorce, stressful jobs and health concerns are just a few. Forty percent of people now report difficulty with job-related stress. A Mayo Clinic study recently [said] 50 percent of doctors have reported burnout symptoms, such as physical or emotional exhaustion from being overworked, overwhelmed and overcommitted.

    What happens with uncontrolled stress [is] you get elevated cortisol levels in your blood. What does [excess] cortisol do to the brain? It kills brain cells, especially those that code for memory. That's what was happening to me … excess chronic unremitting stress overwhelmed me. Fortunately I was able to rebalance.

    My stress also led to incredible depression. Most doctors think depression is [treatable] with antidepressants. For me I have no doubt that physical activity was the most effective antidepressant … [Exercise] stimulates the production of neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine that are all reduced during depression.

    The point is we can't escape adversity. We can't escape stress. But what happened to me is I didn't recognize how bad off I was in a unidimensional [all work] life. I didn't recognize it until I was working at a truck stop as a pump jockey …  I think the most important thing I missed was mindfulness. I didn't have insight into where I was; insight on how I got there, when everything was lost."

    How to Regain Balance and Recover From Burnout

    So, how do you prevent or recover from burnout? There is sound evidence that the best ways are through exercise, a healthy diet that optimizes mitochondrial function and limits inflammation, mindfulness and stress reduction.

    "You need exercise. You need a degree of meditation and spirituality. You need to avoid the environmental toxins … If you look at people who live to be centenarians, more than any place else, where are they? Okinawa, Sardinia, Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.

    They all have in common a healthy diet and physical work. They work hard, which is their physical activity. They live in areas generally with fewer environmental toxins. They control stress with, usually, a very strong family unit, spirituality, religion or meditation.

    All those things are mindfulness. All reduce stress, the excess cortisol, and try to keep our bodies in balance … I personally returned to the principles of Christianity — helping and reaching out to others. I think that's a key portion. We give but little when we give up our possessions. It's when we give up ourselves that we truly give. It's getting out of yourself. It's not me, me, me all the time. It's [about] reaching out to others," advised Maroon.

    Avoiding Toxins

    In addition to these approaches to address burnout, I must also address the need to avoid toxins such as alcohol, contaminated water, air pollution and food pesticides.

    While not covered in Maroon's book, one of the most dangerous toxins out there most people are not aware of is microwave radiation from cellphones, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi routers. While it would be virtually impossible to eliminate these things at this point, it's important to use them wisely and to guard against excessive exposure.

    The primary concern with cellphone use is not related specifically to brain tumors. In fact, that idea can even be counterproductive as most people don't know cellphone users who have brain cancer.

    The real danger lies in damage from the reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrite that these microwaves generate in your body. Increased peroxynitrite from cellphone exposure will damage your mitochondria, thereby increasing your risk of all cancers — not just brain cancer — as well as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

    You can have the best diet, the best exercise, the best meditation and spiritual practice, and the best sleeping habits. Yet, if you're consistently exposing your body to excessive levels of this radiation that you cannot see, hear or feel (unless you're electrosensitive), you're going to incur mitochondrial damage and will invariably die prematurely as a result of this exposure. This becomes quite clear when you study the literature, and there's no way around it. You simply have to take precautions to limit unnecessary exposure.

    On Traumatic Brain Injuries

    On a side note, Maroon has worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers for over 25 years, investigating and treating various sports-related problems such as neck problems, low-back pain, ruptured discs and concussions.

    The long-term effects of concussion are actually now under intense study, and one thing that appears to be central to many neurodegenerative diseases is excessive immune response and inflammation. Maroon discusses some simple yet powerfully effective dietary and physical interventions that may help.

    "You don't eat a Western diet. You don't stop exercising. You don't overload with toxins like alcohol, opioids, smoke and drugs, and you control stress. It's the four epigenetic factors that need to be emphasized to these individuals who have had multiple hits to the head," Maroon says.

    "Again, what you outline in 'Fat for Fuel' are [the] kinds of things I think athletes in contact sports could benefit from … My agenda this year is to [launch] a program for individuals who are potentially at risk from long-term, sports-related head trauma that would include specialized diets to reduce inflammation."

    Besides metabolic mitochondrial therapy, which includes a cyclical ketogenic diet and high-intensity exercise, compelling evidence suggests near-infrared light in the 830 to 850 nanometer (nm) range can significantly reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's, even in its more advanced stages. For more information about this, I recommend listening to my interview with Michael Hamblin, Ph.D., who is a leading expert from Harvard on the use of photobiomodulation.

    In this near-infrared range, light helps recharge your mitochondria and stops mitochondrial dysfunction secondary to inflammation and trauma, and it's not toxic in any way. Other important strategies include the use of high-dose bioavailable curcumin, animal-based omega-3 fats, resveratrol, L-carnitine and α-lipoic acid. All of these agents help enhance mitochondrial function.

    More Information

    "Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life" is an excellent primer on burnout — what it is, how to address it and how to prevent it in the future. As Maroon notes, "If you are burned out, overwhelmed, overworked or overcommitted, you need to get your life back in order."

    It all boils down to accepting that we are responsible for four areas of our lives — our health, our work, our relationships and our sense of purpose — and the easy-to-read "Square One" sets forth these simple principles. But make no mistake: There's great wisdom in this simplicity, and the key is to understand and implement it.




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  • Short Film Reveals the Lunacy of Water Fluoridation
    published on June 16th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has hailed water fluoridation as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. Beginning in 1945, it was claimed that adding fluoride to drinking water was a safe and effective way to improve people's dental health. Over the decades, many bought into this hook, line and sinker, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The featured film, "Our Daily Dose," reviews some of this evidence. As noted in the film's synopsis:

    "Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert lays out the dangers of water fluoridation informatively and creatively, highlighting the most current research and interviewing top-tier doctors, activists, and attorneys close to the issue. Through thoughtful examination of old beliefs and new science, the film alerts us to the health threat present in the water and beverages we rely on every day."

    Share This Film With Those Still Sitting On the Fence on Fluoride!

    The film may not offer many brand new revelations to those of you who are already well-informed about the history and documented hazards of fluoride.

    It was primarily created as an educational vehicle aimed at those who may not be aware of these issues, or who might not yet be entirely convinced that drinking fluoride isn't a good thing. So PLEASE, share this video with all of your friends and family who are on the fence on this issue, and ask them to watch it. It's only 20 minutes long, but it packs a lot of compelling details into those 20 minutes.

    Understanding how fluoride affects your body and brain is particularly important for parents with young children, and pregnant women. It's really crucial to know that you should NEVER mix infant formula with fluoridated tap water for example, as this may overexpose your child to 100 times the proposed "safe" level of fluoride exposure for infants!

    If your child suffers with ADD/ADHD, drinking fluoridated water may also worsen his or her condition. Ditto for those with underfunctioning thyroid. So please, do share this video with your social networks, as it could make a big difference in people's health.

    Fluoride Is Both an Endocrine Disruptor and a Neurotoxin

    Scientific investigations have revealed that fluoride is an endocrine-disrupting chemical,1 and a developmental neurotoxin that impacts short-term and working memory, and lowers IQ in children.2 It has been implicated as a contributing factor in the rising rates of both attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)3,4 and thyroid disease.

    Indeed, fluoride was used in Europe to reduce thyroid activity in hyperthyroid patients as late as the 1970s, and reduced thyroid function is associated with fluoride intakes as low as 0.05 to 0.1 mg fluoride per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/day).5

    For Over 50 Years, Fluoride Levels Were Too High, Government Admits

    Children are particularly at risk for adverse effects of overexposure, and in April 2015, the US government admitted that the "optimal" level of fluoride recommended since 1962 had in fact been too high. As a result, over 40 percent of American teens show signs of fluoride overexposure6 — a condition known as dental fluorosis. In some areas, dental fluorosis rates are as high as 70 to 80 percent, with some children suffering from advanced forms.

    So, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lowered its recommended level of fluoride in drinking water7,8,9 by 40 percent, from an upper limit of 1.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to 0.7 mg/L. The HHS said it will evaluate dental fluorosis rates among children in 10 years to assess whether they were correct about this new level being protective against dental fluorosis. But just what is the acceptable level of harm in the name of cavity prevention?

    A number of studies10,11,12,13 have shown that children with moderate to severe dental fluorosis score worse on tests measuring cognitive skills and IQ than peers without fluorosis — a clear revelation highlighted in the film, as some still insist that dental fluorosis is nothing more than a cosmetic issue.

    The Price We Pay for Cavity Prevention

    According to the film, the CDC estimates water fluoridation decreases dental decay by, at most, 25 percent. Recent research14,15 however, suggests the real effect may be far lower. Based on the findings of three papers assessing the effectiveness of fluoridation on tooth decay, the researchers concluded that water fluoridation does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth.

    If that's the case, then why are we still jeopardizing our children's long-term thyroid and brain health by adding fluoride to drinking water?

    Fluoride — like many other poisons — was originally declared safe based on dosage, but we now know that timing of exposure can play a big role in its effects as well. Children who are fed infant formula mixed with fluoridated water receive very high doses, and may be affected for life as a result of this early exposure.

    Fluoride can also cross the placenta, causing developing fetuses to be exposed to fluoride. Considering the fact that fluoride has endocrine-disrupting activity, this is hardly a situation amenable to the good health of that child. It's important to realize that fluoride is not a nutrient. It's a drug, and it's the ONLY drug that is purposely added directly into drinking water. 

    This route of delivery completely bypasses standard rules relating to informed consent, which is foundational for ethical medical practice. What's worse, there's no way to keep track of the dosage. And no one is keeping track of side effects.

    Infants Are Severely and Routinely Overdosed on Fluoride

    According to the recent Iowa Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the CDC, infants and young children are being massively overdosed on fluoride. This study, which is the largest U.S. study conducted measuring the amount of fluoride children ingest, concluded that:

    • 100 percent of infants receiving infant formula mixed with fluoridated tap water get more than the allegedly safe dose of fluoride. Some formula-fed infants receive 100 times the safe level on a daily basis
    • 30 percent of 1-year-olds exceed the recommended safe dose
    • 47 percent of 2- to 3-year-olds exceed the safe dose

    Most Water Authorities Use Toxic Waste Product, Not Pharmaceutical Grade Fluoride

    As stated, fluoride is a drug, and research into the health effects of fluoride are based on pharmaceutical grade fluoride. However, a majority of water authorities do not even use pharmaceutical grade fluoride; they use hydrofluosilicic acid, or hexafluorosilicic acid — toxic waste products of the phosphate fertilizer industry, which are frequently contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and other toxins.

    This is a key point that many fluoride proponents fail to address when arguing for its use. Indeed, holding elected officials accountable for procuring proof that the specific fluoridation chemical used actually fulfills fluoride's health and safety claims and complies with all regulations, laws and risk assessments required for safe drinking water, has been a successful strategy for halting water fluoridation in a number of areas around the U.S.

    While the idea of hiding toxic industrial waste in drinking water would sound like a questionable idea at best to most people, it was welcomed by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a 1983 letter, Rebecca Hanmer, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, wrote:

    "... In regard to the use of fluosilicic acid as a source of fluoride for fluoridation, this Agency regards such use as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them..."

    Data and Science Do Not Support Water Fluoridation

    Ninety-seven percent of Western European countries do not fluoridate their water, and data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that non-fluoridating countries have seen the exact same reduction in dental cavities as the U.S.,16 where a majority of water is still fluoridated. If fluoride were in fact the cause of this decline, non-fluoridating countries should not show the same trend.

    Clearly, declining rates of dental decay are not in and of themselves proof that water fluoridation actually works. It's also worth noting that well over 99 percent of the fluoride added to drinking water never even touches a tooth; it simply runs down the drain, contaminating and polluting the environment.

    Source: KK Cheng et.al. BMJ 2007.17 Rates of cavities have declined by similar amounts in countries with and without fluoridation.

    Ending Fluoridation Will Be the Greatest Public Health Achievement of the 21st Century

    Despite the fact that the scientific evidence does not support fluoridation, those who question or openly oppose it are typically demonized and written off as crazy conspiracy theorists. Many fluoride supporters claim the science of fluoridation was "settled" some 50 years ago — effectively dismissing all the revelations produced by modern science! To defend their position, they rely on outdated science, because that's all they have. You'd be extremely hard-pressed to find modern research supporting water fluoridation.

    Indeed, as noted in the film, ending water fluoridation will be one of the greatest public health achievements of the 21st Century, and I for one will not stop until that happens. To learn more about why water fluoridation runs counter to good science, common sense and the public good, please see the following video, which recounts 10 important fluoride facts.

    The Best Cavity Prevention Is Your Diet

    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 and grass fed meats. By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place.

    According to Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO's Department of Nutrition for Health and Development:18 "We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay."

    Other natural strategies that can significantly improve your dental health are eating plenty of fermented vegetables, and doing oil pulling with coconut oil. Also make sure you're getting plenty of high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, as research suggests even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease. My favorite source is krill oil.





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  • Can Handwashing With Cold Water Really Kill Germs?
    published on June 16th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    If you've ever been in a place or circumstance where hot running water wasn't available for some reason, perhaps you had a vague sense when washing your hands in the only water available — cold — that they weren't really getting clean. That's probably because most of us learned in kindergarten that washing with hot, soapy water is imperative to kill germs. The belief is so ingrained that it's been written in government regulations (at least in the U.S.) for years.

    Even using soap with cold water may seem as if using hot water would do a better job, but is there any actual scientific evidence this is true? Here's your answer: New research shows that if the water you're using to wash your hands is lukewarm or even cold, it does just as well as hot to remove bacteria. It's the length of time and the method that make all the difference.

    The study, conducted at Rutgers University and published in the Journal of Food Protection,1 involved 21 participants and ended with an interesting conclusion: Whether they washed their hands in 60-, 79- or 100-degree (Fahrenheit) water, there was no difference in the "clean" they attained when they lathered their hands and washed them for 10 seconds.

    But here's the kicker: Every one of those individuals had high levels of E. coli bacteria "applied" to their hands. Although the scientists in charge used a "nonpathogenic" strain of the bacteria, each subject was asked to wash their hands using several different water temperatures and for varying lengths of washing time.

    They used cold, warm or hot water, between half a milliliter and 2 milliliters (ml) of soap and washed for anywhere from five to 40 seconds. They repeated the experiment 20 times over a six-month period. Time added:

    "When the researchers analyzed the amounts of bacteria left on hands after washing, they found that water at all three temperatures worked equally well. So did the different amounts of soap used, although they say more research is needed to determine what type of soap is best."2

    Misinformation, Recommendations and Revisions

    BBC News3 noted that while the U.S. cleanliness guidelines are more stringent, U.K. guidelines say people can use either hot or cold water for hand-washing. However, those researchers said they realize their study was small in scope and that more extensive work is needed to determine the best ways to remove harmful bacteria or "bugs."

    The important thing, the BBC noted, is to make sure you wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, use enough soap to cover every hand surface and rub your hands together several different ways to make sure every surface is clean.

    Authors of the featured study say their research is important because the guidelines4 currently in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)5 state that piped-in water and plumbing fixtures should deliver water set at a minimum of 100 to 108 degrees F for people to get their hands clean. Those guidelines are scheduled for review and revision in 2018, however, so the researchers say now is the time for the language to be changed to reflect the reality. They wrote:

    "The literature on hand-washing includes a tremendous amount of misinformation, and data on many issues are missing. Many handwashing recommendations are being made without scientific backing, and agreement among these recommendations is limited, as indicated by the major inconsistencies among handwashing signs."6

    The length of time people use for washing their hands matters, as actual testing proved that five seconds isn't long enough, while scrubbing for 10 seconds is just as effective for getting hands clean as washing for longer periods. "The time you spend turning on the tap, putting soap in your hands, and rinsing afterward — those don't count," maintains co-author Donald Schaffner, distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science at Rutgers. His bottom line, according to Medical News Today:

    "This study may have significant implications toward water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water. There should be a policy change. Instead of having a temperature requirement, the policy should only say that comfortable or warm water needs to be delivered. We are wasting energy to heat water to a level that is not necessary."7

    How to Make Sure Your Hands Are Really Clean, Even Using Cold Water

    Ten seconds is the minimum of time necessary to get the job done. But are there instances when washing your hands longer than that or using different methods are necessary? Absolutely, Schaffner says. "If you just changed a diaper or you've been in the garden or you're cutting up a raw chicken, don't think you're good to go after 10 seconds if you can still see or feel something on your hands. By all means, keep lathering."8

    However, if warm water is available, something as simple as maintaining a comfortable water temperature may make all the difference in encouraging people to wash for an adequate length of time to get their hands clean. Otherwise, "you're not going to do a good job," he advises.

    According to the experts, there's a right way and a wrong way to do almost everything, but when it comes to getting your hands clean, especially when you want to wash something particularly nasty off, there is a foolproof, step-by-step procedure, which begins with spending as much time scrubbing as it takes to sing the happy birthday song, twice. The procedure, provided by The World Health Organization,9 is as follows:

    1. Wet your hands and apply enough soap to cover each surface.
    2. Rub your palms together with your fingers interlaced.
    3. Rub each palm over the back of the other hand, scrubbing between your fingers.
    4. Rub between fingers, the backs of fingers, by placing one hand over the other, and around each thumb.
    5. With your hands still soapy, rub both palms with your fingertips, then rinse thoroughly with either warm or cold water.

    NHS Choices10 advises that you use an alcohol-based "handrub" if you don't have immediate access to soap and water. Afterward, dry your hands thoroughly with a disposable towel, if possible. If you haven't already gotten into the habit, use the paper towel to turn off the faucet, and also to open the doors, should you be in a public restroom.

    There's More to Consider Than Simple 'Germs'

    Using lukewarm or even cold water for handwashing for the proper amount of time could have several advantages, such as limiting the time water runs to get it warm, which would save both money and energy, especially in restaurants and other food establishments, Schaffner maintains. Similarly, using water that's too hot could be irritating and even damaging to skin.

    In fact, when people regularly apply a hand lotion or moisturizer, it helps to not only help repair dry, damaged skin (which is more difficult to clean), but hands bear fewer bacteria after washing than people who don't use lotion (make sure it's a natural variety).

    But some germs are more serious than others, and some people, such as children, infants and the elderly, have a higher risk of picking up infections and spreading them. NHS Choices lists instances when it's particularly important to wash your hands, and make sure kids wash, as well:

    • After using the toilet
    • After handling raw foods — not just chicken and other meats but also raw veggies
    • Before eating or handling food, even if it's "ready to eat"
    • After contact with animals, including pets
    • After visiting someone in the hospital or another health care setting

    Washing your hands properly removes dirt, bacteria and viruses that might be spread to other people and objects, which can spread such things as flu, food poisoning and diarrhea. Professor Jeremy Hawker, a consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, explains:

    "Hands are easily contaminated with fecal bacteria (poo) when going to the toilet and this can be easily spread on to other things you touch, including food. Unfortunately, not all people consistently wash their hands after going to the toilet or before handling food. Washing your hands with soap and water is sufficient to remove dirt, viruses or bacteria and it can reduce the risk of diarrhea by nearly 50 percent."11

    What About Anti-Bacterial Soap?

    Many homes, hospital and classrooms use antibacterial soap as a matter of course, but is it really any better? Is it even safe? Here's what a lot of people, including those in the medical profession, don't understand about antibacterial soap: The first antibacterial soap was introduced by Dial in the 1940s. What it contained, though, was the chemical hexachlorophene, an antibacterial agent confirmed to cause brain damage in infants. The company was ordered to withdraw it from the market.

    Then a couple enterprising individuals devised another chemical called triclosan, which some may remember claimed to "kill germs on contact." It may have, to some degree, but it killed other things along the way.

    Multiple companies jumped onto a very lucrative bandwagon, and "antibacterial" soaps started showing up everywhere, as they claimed to "make your environment safer and provide an extra layer of protection against illness." But in late 2013, the FDA decided to take another look at triclosan, and in doing so noted two separate problems:

    • Possible interference with hormone levels in laboratory animals
    • An increase in the growth of drug-resistant bacteria

    A few days later, they submitted another statement that no evidence could be found that "over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water."

    According to Chemical Watch Global Risk & Regulation News, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the FDA in 2010, claiming it "had violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act by 'unreasonably delaying the issue of monographs establishing conditions for the use of certain products containing triclosan as the active ingredient.'"12

    Dangers of Triclosan, an Ingredient in Antibacterial Soap

    Experts say antibacterial soaps containing triclosan aren't recommended for use on cuts and scrapes because it prolongs wound healing and increases your risk of scar formation. But worse, the European Union announced it would be phasing triclosan out of hygiene products because the risks outweighed the benefits! Although there are many more, risks include:

    Many products have included triclosan in their antibacterial products, but Beyond Chemicals notes that, due to pressure from informed consumers, a number of some of the larger manufacturers have without a lot of fanfare begun reformulating at least some of their products without triclosan. Therefore:

    "Product formulations may change without notice … Remember to always refer to product labels to determine whether triclosan is contained in your product. Some retail outlets may still carry older formulations. Look out for labels that state: 'antimicrobial protection.' Some antibacterial soaps may use triclosan's cousin, triclocarban, in place of triclosan."13

    The bottom line is that if you have nothing but cold water available, washing your hands using proper scrubbing methods for at least 10 seconds and using simple soap without the "antibacterial" label will get your hands clean.




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  • Crafty Uses for Carrot Seed Oil
    published on June 14th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    Carrot seed oil is far removed from the ubiquitous orange vegetable and should not be mistaken for the cheaper macerated carrot oil. This humble essential oil is packed with natural healing properties, which have been used since the times of ancient Greeks and Indians. Learn more about carrot seed oil and how to get the most out of this plant oil.

    What Is Carrot Seed Oil?

    Carrot seed oil is derived from the dried seeds of the wild carrot plant (Daucus carota) of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family. Its plant source is an annual or biennial plant with hairy leaves and umbels of white lacy flowers and purple centers. Also popularly called wild Queen Anne's lace, its native origins can be traced back to Egypt, France and India.1 Carrot seed oil has a viscous consistency, a yellowish-brown color2 and a distinct woody, earthy and root-like fragrance.

    Uses of Carrot Seed Oil

    In traditional Chinese medicine, carrot seed oil has been proven to treat dysentery and to expel worms. But apart from these uses, it is also frequently:

    Added into spicy foods and sauces in many Asian cuisines3

    Mixed with other oils to infuse a woody note in Oriental and aldehydic perfumes

    Used as a massage oil or bath oil to ease muscle pain

    Used as a lotion to naturally and effectively tan and moisturize the skin

    Composition of Carrot Seed Oil

    The main chemical constituents of carrot seed oil include a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, y-terpinene, limonene, b-bisabolene, geranyl acetate and carotol.4 It blends well with a wide range of essential oils, whether it's botanical, citrus or spicy oils. These include bergamot, juniper, lavender, lemon, lime, cedarwood and geranium oils.

    The oil of the carrot seed primarily contains the well-known pigment carotene, but does not contain vitamins A and E or pro-vitamin A, which are found in the root.5

    Benefits of Carrot Seed Oil

    Carrot seed oil is perhaps one of the most underappreciated essential oils. But it is known to have antiseptic, carminative, cytophylactic, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue and vermifuge (antiparasitic) properties.6 Here are just some of the other well-known health benefits of carrot seed oil:7

    Aids in healing abscesses, boils, and other skin disorders

    Nourishes, tightens, and rejuvenates skin

    Alleviates pain due to menstruation

    Helps stimulate appetite

    Helps treat ulcers

    Improves liver and gall bladder disorder, particularly hepatitis, colitis and enteritis

    Assists in stimulating the lymph system

    Helps women in breast milk production after childbirth

    Helps ease hiccups, colic and flatulence8

    Relieves kidney stones and jaundice

    Carrot seed oil is also widely used in vapor therapy or aromatherapy as a brilliant stress and anxiety buster and an efficient enhancer of respiratory and digestive functions. Read my article on aromatherapy and learn which essential oils work best for several health concerns you or someone you love could be suffering from.

    How to Make Carrot Seed Oil

    Carrot seed oil is extracted from the dried seeds through steam distillation, which is most commonly used due to its ability to excellently preserve valuable nutrients. The carrot seeds produce the most essential oil, but other parts of the plant can be used as well. In some cases, the dried seeds are crushed before going through steam distillation.

    During this procedure, the botanical material is steamed to stimulate the release of its aromatic molecules. Careful temperature control is crucial — it should be hot enough to make the carrot seed essential oil come out from the plant material, but not too hot to the point of burning the material.

    How Does Carrot Seed Oil Work?

    To avail yourself of carrot seed oil's positive skin benefits, you can use it topically by applying a few drops of the essential oil on the affected area. Don't forget to mix your carrot seed oil with a with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil for protection from its potential photosensitization and the other effects of its undiluted strength.

    Others suggest diluting three to four drops of carrot seed oil in water and taking it orally at least three times a day to take advantage of its healing properties for respiratory and digestive issues. You should seek your doctor's advice before orally taking carrot seed oil or, in this case, any type of essential oil. This is to prevent undesirable health results.

    Is Carrot Seed Oil Safe?

    According to "Leung's Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients," carrot seed oil is nontoxic. However, like other essential oils, never ingest carrot seed oil during pregnancy. Carrot seed oil can cause bleeding when taken by pregnant women. This caveat also applies to individuals with a history of epilepsy. If you or someone you know has epilepsy, do not use essential oils in general (especially in aromatherapy), as they can trigger overstimulation, which may lead to more serious adverse reactions.

    Side Effects of Carrot Seed Oil

    While carrot seed oil itself is said to have few side effects when used properly, its parent plant, the wild carrot, was found to increase risks of sun sensitivity due to its high furanocoumarin content, which has photosensitizing effects. It has also been reported to cause hypersensitivity reactions and occupational dermatitis.9

    Do not apply carrot seed oil on your skin without mixing it with a carrier oil like coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil or hempseed oil. I also recommend staying indoors or covering parts of your body at least 72 hours after applying it on your skin. Ideally, you should perform a skin test first. Put a drop of carrot seed oil on a small portion of your skin and wait 24 hours. If any sign of skin irritation occurs, discontinue its use immediately.

    Carrot seed oil overdose may cause vomiting and convulsions. I suggest you consult a natural holistic practitioner before incorporating carrot seed oil into your treatment protocol to avoid potential side effects.




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  • How to Stay Calm Among Chaos
    published on June 14th, 2017 at 02:37 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    In 2015, 24 percent of U.S. adults reported experiencing extreme stress, according to the American Psychological Association's annual Stress in America survey.1 In addition, average reported stress levels increased over the last two years, with money, work, family responsibilities and personal health concerns rounding out the top sources of significant stress.

    Even barring any major stressful events like job loss, health problems or a death in the family, most people deal with stress day in and day out. It's a fact of 21st-century life and one that can quickly derail your healthy habits and goals — if you let it.

    A Reminder on Why It's Important to Stay Calm

    Although stress is often regarded as a psychological issue, stress is definitely not all in your head. Whenever the chaos that is life starts to get to you — maybe you missed your train this morning or are worrying about an unpaid bill — excess stress hormones are released, including cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

    This is what's supposed to happen, as your body is getting ready to face this real or perceived threat. The problem is that in today's world, most of us are faced with such "threats" 24/7, which means your stress response is on overdrive and becomes imbalanced; it basically doesn't shut off.

    It doesn't take long for this potentially beneficial system to backfire. When stress becomes chronic, your immune system becomes increasingly desensitized to cortisol, and since inflammation is partly regulated by this hormone, this decreased sensitivity heightens the inflammatory response and allows inflammation to get out of control.2

    Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of many chronic diseases. Meanwhile, virtually no systems in your body will work as they should. You may find you have trouble sleeping, come down with colds often and have flare-ups of asthma or eczema. All of this is the cost of ignoring your body's need for calm.

    Relaxation Techniques to the Rescue

    Virtually everyone can benefit from having an arsenal of relaxation techniques at the ready. There are many to choose from, and you can pick those that work best for you, but their purpose is the same: to help your body deal with an onslaught of stress by inducing your body's relaxation response.

    The relaxation response is the counterpart of the stress response. Specifically, it's a physical state of deep rest that changes physical and emotional responses to stress and may, in fact, counter stress' harmful effects.3 By evoking your body's built-in relaxation response you can actually change the expression of your genes for the better. According to one study in PLOS One:4

    "RR [relaxation response] elicitation is an effective therapeutic intervention that counteracts the adverse clinical effects of stress in disorders including hypertension, anxiety, insomnia and aging … RR practice enhanced expression of genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and telomere maintenance, and reduced expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress-related pathways."

    Health Benefits of Learning to Relax

    Relaxation techniques can be used to help you get through the daily grind as well as to help address specific health conditions or stressful scenarios. For example, such techniques may help you to lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia and lessen symptoms of depression.5 They may also reduce stress hormones, lower your heart rate, improve your mood and relieve muscle tension and pain.

    Relaxation techniques can also be used to offer relief from symptoms such as nausea and reduce pain, including during labor and childbirth. Indeed, entering a state of deep relaxation, in which your body is free of tension and your mind is free of distracting or negative thoughts, yields impressive results.

    Taking part in a stress management program has been shown to alter tumor-promoting processes at the molecular level in women with breast cancer, for instance.6 Genes responsible for cancer progression (such as pro-inflammatory cytokines) were down-regulated while those associated with a healthy immune response were up-regulated, which means relaxation may help fight cancer.7 In addition, relaxation may help:

    • Boost Immunity: Meditation is known to have a significant effect on immune cells,8 and research shows relaxation exercises may boost natural killer cells in the elderly, leading to increased resistance to tumors and viruses.
    • Fertility: Research suggests women are more likely to conceive when they're relaxed as opposed to when they're stressed.9
    • Heart Health: Relaxation via meditation (done once or twice daily for three months) significantly lowered blood pressure and psychological distress, and also bolstered coping ability in people at increased risk of hypertension.10
    • Mental Health: People who meditate note reductions in psychological distress, depression and anxiety.11
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): When people with IBS practiced relaxation meditation twice daily, their symptoms (including bloating, belching, diarrhea and constipation) improved significantly.12,13

    Examples of Relaxation Techniques

    There are many different methods to help you invoke your body's relaxation response and counter the effects of daily stress. Among them:14

    Emotional freedom techniques (EFT)

    Breathing exercises

    Guided imagery

    Progressive muscle relaxation

    Self-hypnosis

    Rhythmic movement

    Meditation

    Yoga

    Tai chi

    Massage therapy

    Biofeedback-assistance relaxation

    Autogenic training, in which you focus on physical sensations in your body

    Research by Dr. Herbert Benson, cardiologist and founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues has shown that people who practice relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation long-term have more disease-fighting genes switched "on" and active, including genes that protect against pain, infertility, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis.15

    Deep breathing, meanwhile, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces the relaxation response, but taking even 10 minutes to sit quietly and shut out the chaos around you can also trigger it,16 as can using EFT (also known as Tapping). Research has shown that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states, including anxiety.17

    EFT is particularly effective for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat. You can watch a demonstration of how to use EFT in the video below.

    Reframing Your Thoughts to Shut Out Chaos

    The use of relaxation techniques is something you should strive to do daily, whether it be a yoga session, EFT or meditation. The idea is to provide regular time for your body to unwind and regroup in a state of calm.

    You can also use these techniques while in the midst of a stressful event, such as practicing breathing exercises or using EFT. When you're in a stressful moment, it can also help to reframe your thoughts and take back control of the situation, at least on a personal, mental and emotional level. Greatist life coach columnist Susie Moore recently shared several useful tips for doing this:18

    Take a deep breath and say this (out loud or in your mind): "I am here. I am still. I am safe. I can feel my inhale and exhale. Everything's OK."

    Look at the situation rationally. Is this a life and death situation? Is it really that serious? Put things into the proper perspective.

    Refuse to catastrophize. Moore explained:19

    "Once you realize the very worst that can happen is you miss a flight, or you're going to be 10 minutes late for a date, or you may have to work overtime — understand that is all it is. There will be another flight. You can take those 10 minutes sitting in traffic to start a new podcast or catch up on the news. And working late once in a while never killed anyone."

    Focus on something else. When stress is bogging you down, distract your mind with thoughts of pleasant things, such as an upcoming vacation (real or imagined), a phone call to a friend or another activity (even cleaning out your closet might do the trick).

    Take back control. While you can't always control the causes of your stress, you can control what you do in that moment. If you're delayed by a long line, for instance, pull out a pad of paper and make a to-do list or read a few pages of a book if you have one on hand.

    Have faith that things will work out. Sometimes even seemingly dire situations work out for the better, for instance, when you miss out on renting the apartment you really wanted only to find a better one the next day. Have faith that things are moving along smoothly as they should.



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