" Look Into It - Health News










  • 10 DEADLY chemicals cigarette manufacturers don't want you to know about
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) We all know smoking is bad for us, yet millions of people still smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 15 percent of Americans, or more than 40 million people, still light up a cigarette everyday. Compared to the 42 percent of the population that smoked in 1965,...

  • 32 Celebrities who have gone vegan
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) Every year, more people are choosing to live the cruelty-free life and go vegan, especially the young — and especially those in Hollywood. In fact, PETA even predicted that 2017 will be “The Year of the Vegan,” and cited over a dozen food trends that show veganism is hitting the mainstream in a...

  • Singing in the shower every morning will make you happy, experts say
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) It’s time to awaken your inner rock star every time you get out of bed. In an article on DailyMail.co.uk, clinical hypnotherapist Dipti Tait and life coach Sam Sahota recommend singing in the shower as a great morning mood booster, naming it as one of seven healthy morning habits people must do daily....

  • Scientists say eating your own boogers boosts immune function
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) The next time you’re looking for a natural health boost, you don’t need to see further than your own nose or, more specifically, your own snot, scientists claim. A new study has revealed that nasal mucus — more commonly known as boogers or snot — is chock full of bacteria that can be...

  • Chicago Tribune echoes the Health Ranger, warns that government pensions will evaporate before many retirees can collect
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) The so-called “mainstream media” – which claims to be the first and last voice in all societal trends – is just now catching up to an issue that Natural News founder/editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, noticed (and has been following) for months now, and that is this: Pension funds across the country...

  • Mindfulness meditation found to be less effective for men, according to researchers
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) Think the secret to inner peace lies in meditation? If you’re a man, think again. In a new study by researchers from Brown University, the team found that practicing mindfulness meditation does wonders for women while doing the opposite for men, reported the DailyMail.co.uk. Mindfulness meditation, wrote the researchers, is the practice of...

  • Is your dog or cat autistic? Pet vaccinations could be the cause
    published on April 29th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that shows up during infancy or childhood through learning impairments and behavioral disorders. Autism occurs when synapses and nerve cells in the brain get blocked, disrupted, altered or disturbed by chemicals. We now know that autism affects over 20 million people, but how many pets are affected? It...

  • Women being CONNED into unnecessary double mastectomies by doctors who misrepresent genetic testing, warns Stanford researchers
    published on April 28th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) The decision to undergo a double mastectomy is not one that is made lightly, but it is one that countless women have had to face over the years. The number of women undergoing the procedure has increased dramatically since 2013, when famed actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she’d had both of her breasts...

  • 10 Healthy reasons to add flax seed to your diet
    published on April 28th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) Flaxseed is one of the oldest crops that humans have cultivated. It was initially grown in the U.S. by colonists for use in textile production. Years of research have shown that flaxseed and its byproducts contain high levels of essential vitamins and minerals, making the crop a staple superfood in various diet schemes. An...

  • Recycled sneakers are Adidas' answer to planet's plastic problem
    published on April 28th, 2017 at 11:10 AM
    (Natural News) In an effort to be part of the revolution for sustainable living, Adidas has created a new shoe made out of plastic waste collected from the ocean. According to their official press release, the German sportswear giant has collaborated with environmental advocate group Parley for the Oceans to incorporate recycled plastic in their trademark...

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.

  • Scientists Have Turned Spinach Into Beating Human Heart Tissue
    published on April 28th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Packed with nutrients but low in calories, spinach is a healthy addition to salads, smoothies and vegetable juice. Similar to other dark-green leafy vegetables, spinach is packed with vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E and K, as well as calcium, folate, iron, magnesium and manganese.

    Studies have shown spinach supports your cardiovascular health, eyesight and immune system, as well as numerous other bodily functions.

    While it’s long been known the magnesium in spinach can help lower your blood pressure, thereby benefiting your cardiovascular health, until recently, scientists may have vastly underestimated the benefits of spinach to your heart.

    In surprising new research, scientists have successfully grown beating human-heart cells on decellularized spinach leaves. This work represents a first step toward potentially developing a plant-based patch surgeons could one day use to help repair damage caused by a heart attack.

    As unusual as this research sounds, spinach leaves contain one of the key ingredients to assist with blood and oxygen transport in the human body: a well-developed vascular network.

    Are Spinach Leaves a Possible Solution to the Lack of Donor Organs?

    While you may not have given much thought to the similarities between the physical properties of a spinach leaf and your heart, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have made a careful study1 of both as a means of addressing a lack of donor organs in the U.S.

    They have taken a particular interest in the naturally occurring “veins” on spinach leaves, which mirror the pattern of blood vessels threading through your heart. The goal is to one day use spinach and/or other plant-based materials to repair your heart after a heart attack.

    As strange as this body of work may seem, WPI scientists are encouraged by their early findings. They are taking bold steps toward one day using the well-developed vascular network found on spinach leaves to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients inside the human body.

    According to The Washington Post, the inspiration for using spinach leaves occurred over a lunch discussion about organ donation involving Glenn Gaudette, Ph.D., WPI professor of biomedical engineering, and Joshua Gershlak, a WPI doctoral student in biomedical engineering:2

    “The inspiration for the human-plant fusion came over lunch — and, yes, the leafy greens were involved — when WPI bioengineers … began to brainstorm new ways to tackle a deadly medical problem: the lack of donor organs.

    Of the more than 100,000 people on the donor list, nearly two dozen people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant. To meet the demand, scientists have tried to create artificial organs through innovations such as 3-D-printing tissue. So far, however, no one has been able to print a perfect heart.”

    Researchers Grow Beating Human Heart Cells on Spinach Leaves

    To date, it has been a challenge for scientists to create tissue dense enough to replace a damaged heart, especially due to the complex network of tiny blood vessels needed for oxygen delivery.

    “One of the big problems in engineering heart muscle is getting blood flow to all of the cells,” said Gaudette. “Heart muscle is pretty thick.”3

    The team began by stripping spinach down to the fine cellulose structure that holds each leaf together. This process, called decellularization, causes the leaves to lose their dark-green color and become translucent.

    "I had done decellularization work on human hearts before, and when I looked at the spinach leaf its stem reminded me of an aorta," noted Gershlak.4

    According to ScienceAlert,5 cellulose from plants is a great material to use in lab-grown samples because it has been well studied and is compatible with living tissue. It is also inexpensive and readily available. In fact, researchers purchased the spinach used for this study at a local market.

    After decellularization, scientists seeded human heart tissue into the gaps left behind by the plant cells. Amazingly, after five days, clusters of heart cells sown on the spinach leaves began to beat, and continued to do so for up to three weeks.

    The team was also able to pump fluids and microbeads into the structure to prove blood cells could flow through the system.6 “The main limiting factor for tissue engineering … is the lack of a vascular network,” said Gershlak. “Without that vascular network, you get a lot of tissue death.”7

    As such, this spinach-based science could be a game changer for cardiac patients who suffer damage to their heart muscle. Once perfected, altered plant veins could be used as replacement blood vessels to deliver oxygen to the damaged tissue.

    What’s Next for Spinach-Heart Research?

    As part of their published results, the WPI research team suggested:8

    “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between kingdoms (e.g., between plant and animal).

    Although further investigation is needed to understand future applications of this new technology, we believe it has the potential to develop into a ‘green’ solution pertinent to a myriad of regenerative-medicine applications.”

    The WPI team believes it is the first to attempt to repurpose plant veins, work scientists hope will be expanded in the future to allow for stitching the veins of spinach leaves onto human blood vessels. “Long term, we’re definitely envisioning implanting a graft in damaged heart tissue,” Gaudette told the Post.9

    Significant next steps in the research include the need to strengthen the spinach-heart materials and create a thickness similar to the human heart wall. Gershlak said, “[W]e should be able to potentially stack up multiple leaves and create a piece of cardiac tissue.”10

    Additionally, researchers must ensure the plant-based materials would be accepted once they are implanted inside the host. It’s possible the use of plant-based materials inside the human body could cause a negative immune system response.

    While the team is still determining how to effectively integrate spinach leaves with living human heart tissue, the need for heart tissue transplants continues to inspire their work. As noted by Gaudette in ScienceAlert:11

    "We really believe this scaffold has the capability to help treat patients. We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising.

    To be able to take something as simple as a spinach leaf, which is an abundant plant, and actually turn that into a tissue that has the potential for blood to flow through it, is really very exciting. We hope it's going to be a significant advancement in the field."

    The Future of Plant-Based Tissue and Organ Research

    Notably, the research at WPI is not the only instance in which human tissue has been successfully transferred onto a plant-based structure. According to The Atlantic,12 “[T]he fusion of plant and animal … holds promise for regenerative medicine, in which defective body parts may be replaced by engineered alternatives.”

    Previously, a team of scientists at the University of Ottawa stripped an apple of its plant cells and added cervical tissue. “Biohacking is the new gardening,” says Andrew Pelling, Ph.D., director of the Pelling Laboratory for Biophysical Manipulation at the University of Ottawa.13

    Working with plants gives scientists virtually unlimited options at their ready disposal. According to ScienceAlert,14 to date, beyond their work with spinach, WPI researchers have successfully stripped plant cells from parsley, peanut hairy roots and a species of wormwood.

    For a Healthy Heart, Eliminate Processed Goods and Eat Real Food

    While plant-based research seems promising, it will take several years to determine the effectiveness of spinach as a source of regenerative heart tissue. In the meantime, your best option for dealing with cardiovascular issues is to adopt a lifestyle focused on safeguarding your heart from being damaged in the first place.

    One of the fastest ways to improve your cardiac health is to eliminate processed foods, which contain antinutrients that are detrimental to your well-being, including artificial colors and flavors, chemical preservatives, processed vegetable oils and sugar, to name a few.

    Replace all processed foods in your diet with whole foods — preferably organic. Eat food in a form as close to how it exists in nature. Focus on healthy proteins, fats and vegetables. Limit your fruit consumption to less than 25 grams of fructose per day if you are healthy, or less than 15 grams per day if you are battling chronic disease. Below are some of the most important ingredients in a heart-friendly diet.

    Antioxidant polyphenols found in richly colored vegetables and fruits, especially berries

    B vitamins, especially folate and B12

    Calcium, magnesium and vitamins D3 and K2. You were designed to get your vitamin D from the sun, but if you are not able to get all the necessary sun exposure, your next best option is an oral D3 supplement taken with K2 and magnesium

    CoQ10, but if you're over 40, I recommend using the reduced version, ubiquinol

    Fermented foods not only boost your overall immunity through optimizing your intestinal microflora, but also introduce beneficial bacteria into your mouth — good oral health helps reduce your heart disease risk

    Healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, grass fed meat, olive oil (cold only), raw dairy products from grass fed cows, and raw nuts such as macadamia or pecan

    Marine-based omega-3 fats, found in fatty, cold-water fish such as anchovies, sardines and wild Alaskan salmon, as well as krill oil

    Controllable Factors Affecting Your Risk of Having a Heart Attack

    If you want to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, it’s vitally important you pay attention to several additional factors beyond a healthy diet. The wonderful news is all of these areas are generally 100 percent controllable by you. You should feel encouraged to know you personally possess the power to change your lifestyle and reduce your risk of heart disease.

    Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology15 found that women who addressed six specific lifestyle areas lowered their heart disease risk by 92 percent. Based on tracking 88,940 women aged 27 to 44 years from 1991 to 2011, researchers estimate more than 70 percent of heart attacks could be prevented by taking the following action:

    1. Eat a healthy diet

    2. Maintain a normal body mass index (BMI) — see my comments below

    3. Exercise at least 2.5 hours each week

    4. Watch television seven or fewer hours per week

    5. Avoid smoking

    6. Limit alcohol intake to one drink or less per day

    With respect to BMI, I believe your waist-to-hip ratio is a more reliable risk predictor, because it reflects visceral fat. An even more dependable measure would be an accurate assessment of your body-fat percentage.

    Notably, the results of this study on women echo conclusions drawn from research conducted in 2014 involving 20,721 men aged 45 to 79 years who were followed for 11 years.16 Researchers concluded that adhering to most of the same health habits could prevent nearly 80 percent of first-time heart attacks in men. Said Agneta Åkesson, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology, Karolinska Institute, and lead researcher for the study:17

    “It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks; what is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors. While mortality from heart disease has declined in recent decades, with much of the reduction attributed to medical therapies, prevention through a healthy lifestyle avoids potential side effects of medication and is more cost effective for population-wide reductions in coronary heart disease.”

    Begin Today to Take Charge of Your Heart Health

    While the plant-based research reveals fascinating possibilities for future developments in heart-related tissue repair, you don’t want to wait until you have a heart attack to begin taking steps toward optimal health. As you have often heard me say, the best way to treat chronic disease is to do everything you can to prevent it.

    In addition to adopting the suggestions noted above, you’ll want to check out my new book, “Fat for Fuel,” for even more tips to help ensure you don’t become a heart-disease statistic. As much as you may enjoy eating spinach, it seems unlikely you would want a patch of it sewn onto your heart.

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  • New Technologies Offer Hope in Creating a More Transparent and Sustainable Food System
    published on April 28th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Modern-day food practices are reliant on a series of unsustainable methods — including fossil fuels and chemical-dependent genetically engineered (GE) organisms — that pollute Earth's valuable resources such as our air, soil and water, as well as damage public health.

    Our current food system, heavily treated with crop chemicals, is linked to myriad health problems including food allergies, gluten intolerance, gut and neurological dysfunction, immunodeficiency disorders and more.

    Making healthy food choices is incredibly important, but can be a daunting task due to the extreme disconnect many of us have with the food we eat, as illustrated in the featured documentary "Digital Food."

    'Food has Become a Black Box'

    Food journalist Michael Pollan, who's authored many books and articles explaining how nature and culture intersect on our plates and in our farms and gardens,1 says not knowing where our food comes from creates a vicious cycle of unhealthy choices that results in sickness and disease not only for humans, but our planet too.

    "Food has become a black box," says Pollan. "When you're buying a pound of hamburger, you know very little. You don't even know what kind of animal it is."

    Most of the time, consumers have little to no details about the food they eat, including how the animal lived, where it came from, what it ate or how long ago it was slaughtered, says Pollan, who through his many thought-provoking books has educated millions about the downfalls of our current food system.

    "It's always been my conviction that the more people know about how their food is produced, the better choices they will make," says Pollan.

    "That can be very disruptive to the food industry," he adds while being interviewed in the featured film, which explores the potential new technologies have in bringing transparency to our food system.

    Two Children in Every US Classroom Have Food Allergies

    About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes to buy processed food. What's worse, new research shows that, astonishingly, more than half — nearly 60 percent, in fact — of the food Americans eat is ULTRA-processed meaning the food could be purchased at a gas station.

    The implications of this, in terms of public health, stretch far and wide. Researchers estimate that about 15 million Americans now have food allergies.2

    This condition, which can be deadly, affects 1 in every 13 children in the U.S. or two in every classroom, resulting in an economic burden of roughly $25 billion per year, according to Food Allergy Research & Education.3

    Food allergies among children increased about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.4

    This steep increase in food-related illness has caused consumers to lose faith in the food system and, as a result, to grow very fearful, says Julian Baggini, author of "The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think."

    "They're worried about being poisoned and about their health," says Baggini in the film, adding that there's this interesting tension between the desire for cheap and plentiful food and at the same time, also a desire for clean, healthy food that's produced sustainably. 

    Silicon Valley Sets Its Eyes on Food Technology

    In an attempt to help consumers regain their trust in food, companies such as San Francisco-based Nima Labs, featured in the documentary, are working to develop new technologies that allow consumers to avoid foods or key ingredients such as gluten that may trigger an allergic reaction.

    Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor, both of whom suffered food allergies and sensitivities for years, founded Nima Labs in 2013. Tired of wondering whether a food was safe to eat, Yates and Sundvor created a portable device that allows consumers to test liquid and solid foods for gluten in about two minutes.5

    The Nima Starter Kit, costing around $300, allows users to insert a tiny sample of food into a capsule that uses chemical measurements to determine if there is 20 parts per million (ppm) or more of gluten in your food sample.

    "The sensor combines an electronic sensor with antibody-based detection in a disposable capsule. This process turns a complicated eight-step laboratory food testing process into an easy three steps," according to the company's website.6

    "Nima also syncs to an app that will record test results and restaurant reviews for future reference and community sharing."

    Please note that this is merely a review of technology featured in the documentary, and I have not investigated its validity.

    The device is one of many new technologies aimed at empowering consumers to make healthier and more confident food choices. Other emerging technologies include devices that measure anything from calories to pesticides to antibiotics, notes the film.

    The Preference for Health Food Isn't Just a Trend; It's a Lifestyle

    More than ever before, consumers have a heightened awareness regarding the food they eat, as well as an increased preference for organics and grass fed beef and dairy.

    In the U.S., the organic sector grew 11.5 percent in 2016, while grass fed increased about 50 percent. As a result, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the amount of GE crops grown around the world has decreased in terms of acreage.

    This preference for health food isn't just a trend; it's a lifestyle — and for good reason.  Studies suggest that organic fruits and vegetables may contain as much as 18 percent to 69 percent more antioxidants than pesticide-treated produce.

    As antioxidants play a critical role in the prevention of diseases and illnesses, these higher levels of nutrients, in combination with a lower toxicity level, make organically grown foods a superior choice.

    One of the strongest selling points for eating organic foods had been to reduce your exposure to pesticides and insecticides. Now, a recent study demonstrates that organic foods hold more benefits for your future health and the health of your children.

    The study conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service reviewed existing research and made several determinations.7

    From their analysis they concluded that eating organic foods reduces pesticide exposure, improves the nutritional value of the food, lessens disease risk and improves early childhood development.8 They also found those who ate organic foods tended to have healthier dietary patterns than those who ate foods treated with chemicals.

    Conventional Food Production Accounts for Up to 30 Percent of Manmade Greenhouse Gases

    Organic and grass fed beef and dairy products aren't only better for human health, but for the planet too. Organic and regenerative agriculture involves holistic land management practices that improve soil health, biodiversity and water scarcity, while also mitigating the effects of climate change.

    "Regenerative agriculture keeps the natural cycles healthy — like water and carbon — so that land can keep growing food and keep carbon and the climate in balance," said Tim LaSalle, Ph.D., former head of the Rodale Institute and co-director of the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at California State University, Chico.9 Put another way, organic food keeps people healthy, and regenerative agriculture keeps the planet healthy, said Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association.10

    Moving toward a system where 100 percent of food is produced using organic and regenerative agriculture practices is imperative for regenerating our planet's precious resources, on which human survival depends. Unfortunately, our current food system remains largely dependent on nonrenewable resources that, when used, have adverse effects on human health and the environment.

    "The food system is responsible for somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases we produce," says Pollan in the featured film.11 Consumers are aware of the environmental impacts of the burning of fossil fuels when it comes to the cars they drive and the homes they heat, but are much less aware about the role fossil fuels play in food production, he adds.

    Sustainable Food Production Relies on Human Innovations, Not Chemicals

    "We turn fossil fuels into food in many ways. The main ingredient in fertilizer — ammonium nitrate — is a fossil fuel product that's spread all over the world. The process of making it consumes a lot of fossil fuels and then when it leaches into the atmosphere, it is a very potent greenhouse gas itself," says Pollan.

    Our modern-day food system also relies on nonrenewable energy inputs to ship products around the world, but the most damaging aspect is fossil fuel fertilizer, he adds. "It takes 26 ounces of oil to produce that one hamburger — an astonishing amount of oil," says Pollan. Sustainable agriculture, such as organic and regenerative agriculture, requires far less inputs.

    "The most sustainable farms buy the least amount of stuff," says Pollan. "Are the solutions in your head or in a bottle?" he asks. "The most important solutions are in the farmer's head."

    Producing Food Without Fossil Fuels

    One way to produce food without fossil fuels includes gardening indoors through the use of LED lighting. Based in the Netherlands, Deliscious produces food using LED lighting in a greenhouse equipped with seven layers, one on top of the other, of various types of lettuce. Started by twin brothers Roy and Mark Delissen, the company is the first in the gardening business to move a part of their cultivation to a completely closed space.12  

    The brothers, who together share a background in logistics and plant cultivation, say their seven-layer design (area-wise) is seven times more efficient than a traditional greenhouse. In nature during the winter, it can take plants up to 100 days to reach 4 inches tall from the moment they are sown. But in the LED cells at Deliscious, the plants never need more than 30 days to go from a seed to 4 inches, expressed Mark Delissen in the film "Digital Food."

    Together, the brothers have perfected the right light recipe to support optimal growth. "In the end you need red, blue and far-red for photosynthesis," says Mark Delissen, adding that the right combination of colors — which took the brothers four years to identify — optimizes growth. "You can even manipulate the flavor by using more blue or red. But it's only just now that people are starting to research this," he adds.

    "Every color has its own effect — and the plants are very sensitive to this. So we use blue, red and far-red. The combination of these three makes the lettuce grow the way we want," says Mark Delissen. "But if you add just a bit more blue, you would get very different plants. It's amazing how nature responds to this."

    Growing Plants Indoors With LED Lighting

    The brothers say the best part about gardening indoors with LED lighting is that you're in control, meaning you can manipulate the plants with different kinds of lights. For example, adding more blue light causes the plant to be longer and stretch more. While vastly different than outdoor agriculture, the brothers stress that plant knowledge is still necessary and predict that in the future farmers will go from being growers to engineers.  

    "You still need knowledge of plants, but there will be more technology," says Mark Delissen. Growing plants indoors using LED lighting certainly has its advantages, including the fact that no pesticides are needed during cultivation. Another great advantage is that the process uses far less water; the Delissen brothers say they use 80 percent less water, in fact. It would also allow the crops to avoid any rain that is contaminated with glyphosate.

    However, there are also downfalls associated with gardening indoors with LED lighting. Firstly, LED technology is still relatively new and therefore expensive. "It's like computers in the 1980s," says Mark Delissen. Secondly, growing plants indoors with LED lighting does not include soil, which is a natural and important part of the food-growing process. Because they aren't grown in soil, the plants cannot be certified organic, either.

    Thirdly, gardening indoors with LED lighting does nothing to combat climate change because the growing process does not involve soil. As discussed previously, soil-based agriculture — including organic and regenerative agriculture — is extremely important for combating climate change by building healthy soils capable of drawing down excess carbon in the atmosphere.13

    Why Our Current Food System Must Evolve

    As technology continues to advance, hopefully so will our food systems, and in a way that's healthier for the planet and us. Like Pollan said, the ideas are in our heads and not in a bottle of Monsanto's Roundup. While the U.S. government has done little to nothing to support a healthier and more environmentally conscious food system, an improved model continues to emerge through methods like organic and regenerative agriculture — a phenomenon made possible only through consumer demand.

    "This is because people understand this public health crisis has now spread worldwide, and this environmental crisis and its relationship to the climate crisis are all due to an out-of-control, industrial, chemical-intensive GMO agriculture," said Cummins in response to the sharp growth in organics and grass fed farming. "People are turning away."

    Most everyone can agree that our current food system model is failing miserably and won't hold up much longer. However, the key to fixing our broken food system relies on a combination of old, less environmentally impactful techniques and new technologies that allow better use of our natural resources.

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  • How to Grow Tasty Bell and Chili Peppers in Your Garden
    published on April 27th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Bell peppers and chili peppers are common staples that add flavor and color to your meals. They're also easy to grow, even in small spaces.

    The heat of peppers is measured in Scoville heat units. A green pepper scores a zero on the scale, jalapeño peppers earn around 2,500 to 4,000 and Mexican habaneros, 200,000 to 500,000 units.

    There are many different types of peppers, from sweet to flaming hot, making more than one variety useful in a single dish, adding complexity to the flavors. Popular pepper varieties include bell, Chile, banana, Hungarian, cayenne, jalapeno, Serrano, habañeros and others.

    Below, I'll summarize growing tips for bell peppers1,2,3 and hot chili peppers,4,5 both of which are useful additions to a well-stocked home garden. I personally grow red bell peppers, habaneros and Thai chili peppers and love them all.

    Uses and Medicinal Value of Peppers

    Sweet and mild-tasting bell peppers can be sautéed with onions or diced into salads, soups and casseroles; stuffed, grilled, placed on sandwiches, or eaten raw for a fresh snack.

    Green, red and yellow bell peppers all contain phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid, carotenoids and free radical scavenging activity.

    Green peppers have the highest phenolic activity but lower carotenoid content than the red and yellow varieties. Red peppers have the highest ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and a higher level of free radical scavenging activity.

    The active ingredient in hot chili peppers is capsaicin, which is what makes your mouth burn and gives the peppers their pungent odor. The smaller the pepper the hotter it tends to be.

    The endorphin rush capsaicin triggers makes this compound an effective remedy for pain and other medical conditions.

    Research also suggests it helps shrink fat tissue,6 inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells,7 and may even reduce your risk of Parkinson's disease by nearly 20 percent when eaten regularly. Chili peppers also contain other beneficial bioactive plant compounds, including:8,9

    • Capsanthin. This is the primary carotenoid (antioxidant) in red chili peppers, giving them their red color and typically accounting for up to 50 percent of the spice's antioxidant content
    • Lutein. Most plentiful in immature (green) chili peppers, it has been shown to help maintain and improve eye health10
    • Violaxanthin. It is the main carotenoid found in yellow chili peppers, which accounts for 37 to 68 percent of their total content
    • Sinapic acid. Also known as sinapinic acid, this antioxidant is known for its neuroprotective potential11
    • Ferulic acid. This compound has shown promise in protecting against diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases12

    Growing Bell Peppers: Preparation

    Whether you're growing bell peppers from seed or using store-bought seedlings, begin by selecting and preparing the site. Peppers need lots of sun and grow best in deep, loamy, well-drained soil where peppers have not previously been grown, so move them around your garden if growing several years in a row.

    Add about 1 inch of compost to the soil, but avoid adding too much nitrogen, as this can cause excessively rapid growth, making the plants larger and bushier but less productive and more prone to disease.

    If growing from seed, start the seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before your last frost date. You can find frost dates for your local area by checking The Old Farmer's Almanac, which is available online.13 Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for a few hours and keep the seed tray in a warm spot to encourage germination.

    Before you transplant your seedlings into your garden, gradually expose them to outdoor conditions. By reducing stress, the plants will become larger and more productive.

    Begin by placing them in an area sheltered from high wind and excessive sun exposure for a few hours a day for three or four days once daytime temperatures are consistently in the mid-60s. Over the following week, slowly increase the number of hours you leave them outdoors.

    Pepper plants grow best in warm soil, so if the garden bed is still cool, warm the soil by placing a dark landscape paper over the area. Also make sure all threat of frost is over and nighttime temperatures are above 60 F before planting them in the ground.

    Growing Bell Peppers: Transplanting and Harvesting

    Space the plants 12 to 16 inches apart and stake taller varieties to protect the stems from breaking as they grow. If planting several varieties, separate them by at least 500 feet to prevent cross-pollination. Also keep them separate from other plants in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and eggplants.

    Water frequently, giving the plants at least 1 inch of water per week, or up to 1 gallon per day during hot, dry weather. Adding mulch will help retain moisture and normalize the soil temperature. Just remember they do like warm soil, so if temperatures are on the low end, mulching can actually make the soil too cool, which will stunt growth.

    If daytime temperatures are below the mid-80s you may also want to consider a covered dome to retain heat. Should the weather get too hot, on the other hand, you may need to provide some shade to protect the fruit from sun scald. Staking up a piece of shade cloth should be sufficient.

    Planting them 12 to 16 inches apart will also allow the leaves of the plants to touch, creating a natural canopy to protect the fruit from excessive sun exposure.

    As the plant grows and begins to bloom, pinch off the first early blossoms. While this may sound counterintuitive at first, doing this will redirect the energy toward growth, allowing you to get more and larger fruits later. Leaving these early blossoms on will result in just a few small, early fruits.

    Once the plant starts bearing fruit, side dress with organic fertilizer. Phosphorous is needed for fruit production while too much nitrogen will cause the plant to grow too fast and produce less fruit, so make sure your fertilizer has more phosphorous than nitrogen.

    Once the bell pepper has matured on the vine and is turning its designated color (whether yellow, red, green or purple), harvest your peppers by cutting them off with hand pruners.

    Yanking them off by hand can damage the plant. While they can be harvested at an immature stage and allowed to ripen on your counter, allowing them to fully ripen on the vine will improve the flavor.

    Growing Chili Peppers 101

    Growing chili peppers takes about six months so you should plant them by May, although starting early is recommended so the plant will ripen just in time for summer. Here's a simple step-by-step guide for growing chilies:

    • Fill a multi-cell seed tray with rich organic soil. Gently tamp it down and moisten with water. Place a seed in each cell, then lightly cover with a thin layer of soil. Water gently using a fine mist spray, then cover with cling wrap and store in a warm area of your home. The soil should be moist but not soaked.
    • After two to four weeks, at the first sign of growth, move the seedlings to a warm, well-lit place, but out of direct sunlight. Water the plant from below to strengthen the roots, and check daily to ensure the surface is moist.
    • Once the seedlings sprout a second set of leaves, transplant into 2- or 3-inch pots with moist soil and use liquid tomato as a weekly feeding.
    • When the plants reach a height of 4 to 5 inches, transplant into larger pots, and stake the plants once they're 7 or 8 inches tall.
    • Once the plants are about 12 inches tall, pinch off the tips right above the fifth set of leaves to encourage bushiness. Transplant to a larger pot if needed and make sure to check the plant daily for aphids. (If aphids are present, follow the instructions provided in the section below.)
    • When flowers appear, gently dab a cotton swab into each flower to pollinate.
    • Cut off the first chilies while still green to encourage fruiting all season long (July to October).

    For a delicious beef and bean chili recipe using chili and jalapenos, or a slow-cooked chicken chili recipe, see the hyperlink provided.

    How to Address Aphids

    Aphids are typically found in the folds between leaves. Simply spraying them off with cool water can help. Ladybugs and syrphid fly larvae14 (also known as hover flies or flower flies; often mistaken for bees and wasps) are natural predators that can quickly suppress an aphids infestation. You can tell you have active syrphid fly populations in your garden if you see black oily smears on plant foliage. This is the excrement of the larvae.

    If you don't have an active syrphid fly population, you can buy live ladybugs (available online) and apply them to your garden.15 Before releasing them, refrigerate the live ladybugs for 30 minutes. It's best to release them in the evening, so be sure to time it properly. Spray some water on the lower portion of the area infected with aphids, then sprinkle the chilled ladybugs on the lower half of the plant.

    The chilling will slow the ladybug's metabolism, basically putting them to sleep for the night. As the sun warms them up in the morning, they'll start scavenging for food and laying eggs. So, even though many will fly away, the eggs will hatch larvae that continue feeding on the aphids, and the grown ladybugs will continue the lifecycle of laying eggs and controlling pests in your garden.

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  • What's so Great About Oregano?
    published on April 27th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    You may already know that oregano is the "secret" herb that takes tomato sauce to a new level of savory and can even put flavor in butter sauces and chicken dishes that have people begging you for your recipes.

    Oregano is an ancient, perennial herb, being an integral cooking ingredient in what is now known as Eurasia for thousands of years. The entire Mediterranean is well acquainted with this food-enhancing spice, but it's probably no surprise that Greece and Italy are noted as the regions where it most likely originated.

    Because it's related to mint, which is from the menthe family of plants, you may detect a similarly cool but distinctive essence when you crush a leaf from the oregano plant between your fingers. Oregano has many of the same therapeutic qualities as mint, and the scent may also remind you of thyme.

    Strolling through a garden that includes oregano, you may not be overwhelmed by the scent and aroma nearly as much as when the herb is dried. Greek oregano, or Origanum heracleoticum, is the variety recommended for your culinary endeavors.

    As an herb, it makes sense that oregano provides health benefits. You might be surprised how many there are, though, and that the powerful properties extend throughout your whole body. Organic farm Floral Encounters offers a succinct account of the traditional uses for oregano:

    "The leaves and flowering stems have a strong antiseptic effect and a tincture of tea is used to treat colds, influenza, mild feverish illnesses, indigestion, stomach upsets and painful menstruation.

    It is also a sedative and should not be taken in large doses although mild teas have a restful soothing effect and can help with sleep. A liniment using the herb is used to treat bronchitis, asthma, arthritis and muscular pain. The essential oil can be used to relieve toothache."1

    But first, here's some good information about how to include this easy-to-grow, must-have herb in your own garden. As always, organic seeds or seedlings from a reputable source are preferred to ensure they're not tainted by harmful chemicals.

    From Seeds or From Cuttings, Oregano Is Easy to Grow

    Cooks all over the world happily report how easy it is to cultivate this herb in their gardens, patio containers and inside on window sills. It's bushy, low-growing and attractive, with tender, oval leaves and woody stems. Oregano loves sunshine and is easily grown from seed or propagated from cuttings placed in water in a sunny spot.

    It's the "sun-lover" aspect of oregano that makes it grow best when it's warm. Many gardeners wait until the soil is 70 degrees F before planting the seed and do so in well-drained soil as opposed to clay that's tightly packed.

    Similar to basil, oregano plants grow more dense when their branches are snipped or pinched back after they've reached about 4 inches in length. This also prevents a tendency toward undesirable "legginess," which could eventually threaten the health of the plant.

    Additionally, it's best to thin seedlings to about 8 inches apart, and trim occasionally so they don't begin to flower, which can weaken the strong essence of the leaves. Heirloom Organics advises:

    "Trim plants back before flowering (approximately [five] to [six] weeks after planting) to stimulate a dense growth habit. If you allow some of the flowers to produce and drop their seed, you can keep your oregano patch fresh and vigorous. Remove 3- to 4-year-old plants to keep the bed quality high."2

    Every four years or so and in early spring, thin out oregano plants for optimal hardiness. They're lovely for landscaping, especially with their tiny lavender blossoms. According to Farmer's Almanac,3 water your oregano plants well, but maybe not as often as some other herbs.

    To dry, cut the stems before the buds open and hang or lay them flat on wire racks. When the leaves are completely dry (as damp leaves will almost certainly mold) harvest them, place them in a tightly sealed glass jar and don't forget to label them. Saved seed heads placed in a paper bag will keep for around five years.

    Herbal Assets for Your Whole Body

    As an herb, oregano contains a number of interesting phytonutrients that help give this genre of plants such a well-deserved reputation for healing.

    Immune health. Strengthening your immune system is one area oregano targets due to its high rosmarinic acid and thymol content. Both of these compounds are powerful antioxidants, which studies have shown lower oxidative stress in your body caused by free radicals.

    Organic Facts describes free radicals as "the destructive byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause cancer and other chronic diseases." One study tested the antioxidant activity of 39 commonly used herbs, and oregano had three to 20 times higher antioxidant activity than the other herbs studied.4

    As for rosmarinic acid, a 2015 study showed it to help prevent aberrant crypt foci (which form before colorectal polyps) in rats, as well as to significantly reduce DNA damage.5

    Improved digestion. You may not think of herbs in terms of having much fiber, but oregano does. Besides helping food to move through your system faster, decreasing the time it spends hanging around in your colon, fiber also helps increase the rate at which your system absorbs nutrients.

    Heart health. One of the most advantageous aspects of oregano is that it's a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that improves, rather than degrades, your heart health as an excess amount of omega-6 fatty acids can do.

    Omega-3s help reduce heart inflammation, rebalance your cholesterol and prevent heart-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks.

    Detoxification. Toxins in your food, water and the air you breathe can make you feel run down and even cause illness and disease, but compounds such as B vitamins in oregano tackle these, too, improving your metabolism as well as your energy levels.

    Antibacterial properties. Carvacrol, as well as thymol, give oregano antibacterial benefits, particularly useful in your gut, as well as your skin and other areas. As a stimulating agent, it can speed up your metabolism, stimulate your white blood cells and help you recover from illness more rapidly.

    One study reports that carvacrol "possess[es] a variety of biological and pharmacological properties including antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective (liver protective), spasmolytic and vasorelaxant (reduces tension in your blood vessels)."6

    Cooking With Oregano

    There are different schools of thought regarding whether or not you should use fresh or dried oregano for cooking. As is so often the case, it depends. The City Cook explains:

    "It's not often that I'd choose a dried herb over fresh. The flavor difference between fresh and dried thyme is huge, with fresh thyme being softer and more complex; dried can be bitter …

    But dried oregano adds a flavor that both compliments and complements, without dominating other ingredients. Dried oregano also adds that this-is-Italian flavor that we insist upon in our [favorite Italian dishes]."7

    To help you experiment with this herb, here are a few things to note:

    • Rubbing dried oregano between your fingers releases the most flavor into your dishes as you're cooking, but you also want to add it toward the end of cooking.
    • Red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and green beans are good all by themselves, but they become delicious with a little oregano added!
    • When seasoning your grass fed burgers (or even veggie burgers) the flavor you get from fresh oregano is brighter and more flavorful, according to thekitchn.com.8 Just mix 1 or 2 tablespoons into the mix with a pound or so of meat mixture, and you'll love the result.
    • Although they have a similar taste, Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano are from two different plants. Mexican oregano is actually related to lemon verbena and is much more pungent, while Mediterranean oregano is slightly sweeter. 

    Oregano Oil: Benefits and Uses

    Of course, there are many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in oregano that your body can make great use of on your journey of health.

    These include vitamins A, C and E, providing vision and cell protection; vitamin K to help keep your blood at the right consistency; folate to help form RNA and DNA building blocks and lots of iron, which helps prevent anemia.

    Additionally, it contains magnesium and calcium for bone metabolization; vitamin B6 for optimal brain function; potassium to maintain your heart rate and blood pressure; and manganese and copper, both important for your body's optimal use of the enzyme superoxide dismutase.

    Oregano oil is extremely versatile, as it's used in everything from meat dishes to salads. As a medicinal, however, it should always be diluted, because it's very potent.

    Oregano oil has some fantastic capabilities for healing. One study showed it to be rich in antioxidant phytochemical flavonoids and phenolic acids, able to eradicate bacteria in biofilms (cells that stick together and can form bacteria-laden plaque) with higher efficiency than lab-concocted drugs.9 Other therapeutic uses for oregano oil include:

    Sinus infections and colds

    Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

    Athlete's foot and nail fungus

    Food-borne illness


    Yeast infections

    Another study noted that carnosol, another phytochemical in oregano, was "evaluated for anticancer property in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancers with promising results."10

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  • The Many Wonders of Calming Sandalwood Oil
    published on April 26th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    An essential oil obtained from steam-distilling chips and billets from the heartwood of the Santalum album tree, sandalwood oil is popularly used in perfumery, cosmetics and sacred unguents (soothing or healing salve).

    But beyond these practical uses are the time-tested calming and therapeutic properties for which it is used in aromatherapy. Learn more about the uses and benefits of sandalwood oil in this article.

    What Is Sandalwood Oil?

    Sandalwood essential oil is derived from the heartwood of the sandalwood, which is a heiparasitic evergreen that grows by joining the root system of other trees.1 The tree belongs to the Santalaceae family and is also known as East Indian sandalwood.2

    Sandalwood oil has been used since over 4,000 years ago, making it among the oldest-known materials used for its exotic scent. It has found its way into fragrances, cosmetics and personal care products and meditative/spiritual practices.

    This essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of pieces of wood from matured sandalwood trees that are 40 to 80 years old.3 Eighty years is preferred because, the older the tree, the more oil available and the stronger the aroma.

    The oil has a woody, exotic smell that's subtle and lingering. Its color ranges from pale yellow to pale gold. Although expensive, it has many wonderful characteristics that make it useful and beneficial for health and wellness.

    For one, sandalwood oil creates a calming, harmonizing effect for the mind, helping reduce tension and confusion.4 It is also traditionally used in Ayurveda, India's holistic health system, for the treatment somatic and mental disorders.5

    Uses of Sandalwood Oil

    As early as 4,000 years back, sandalwood had already been used, with caravans carrying the wood to places like Egypt, Greece and Rome. Many temples were built from it, while the Egyptians used the oil in embalming.

    Sandalwood used to be made into furniture and caskets, but as the tree has become nearly extinct, it is only used today for distilling the oil.

    At present, sandalwood oil is widely utilized for its calming and relaxing effects.6 It is in demand as incense and is recommended in Swahra yoga for "the union of the senses" and in Tantric yoga for awakening sexual energy. It can be used for depression, daily stress and states of anxiety, fear or chronic illness.

    This essential oil is well-regarded in skincare, as it tones and relieves itching, inflammation and dehydrated skin. Rashes, scar tissue, eczema, psoriasis, acne and dandruff are just some of the issues it can assist with.

    The Living Earth Beauty blog states that apart from topical application, you can also steam-inhale sandalwood oil: Fill a large bowl with steaming water, cover your face and head with a towel and breathe.

    This can be a good remedy for respiratory concerns and skin conditions that emerge on the face. You can also dry-condition with the oil, adding a few drops to your dry hair after a shower or during the day to restore moisture.

    Remember, though, that I do not recommend using sandalwood essential oil raw on your skin. Mix it with some type of carrier oil, such as jojoba. The other functions of sandalwood oil include use in:7

    Perfumery products


    Religious rituals (as incense in temples and meditation garlands/beads)


    Vaporizers and burners

    Psychological profile

    A study8 shows, too, that sandalwood oil could be an effective chemopreventive agent against chemically induced skin cancer in animal models.

    Composition of Sandalwood Oil

    At least 80 to 90 percent of sandalwood essential oil is composed of sesquiterpenic alcohols, most of which are two closely related molecules: alpha-santalol (50 to 60 percent) and beta-santalol (20 to 25 percent).

    These molecules are the source of its rich fragrance.9,10 The main chemical components are santalol, santyl acetate and santalene.11

    Benefits of Sandalwood Oil

    Organic Facts provides a rundown of sandalwood benefits12 for health and wellness. Here's a partial list:

    Antiseptic — This oil is a good antiseptic agent and is safe for both internal and external application. It helps protect internal wounds and ulcers from infections; when applied to skin, it helps protect wounds, sores, boils and pimples from getting infected.

    Anti-inflammatory — The essential oil and paste are effective as anti-inflammatory agents.

    They have a cooling effect and help relieve all types of brain, digestive, nervous, circulatory and excretory system inflammation, which result from infections, fevers, antibiotic side effects, insect bites, wounds and poisoning.

    Antispasmodic — This oil works against spasms and contractions by relaxing nerves, muscles and blood vessels.

    Astringent — Although very mild, sandalwood oil can induce contractions in your gums, muscles and skin, offering benefits like better muscle strength and a tighter skin.

    Deodorant — There are individuals who use sandalwood oil to relieve body odor.

    Disinfectant — Its fragrance keeps microbes and small insects away, which is why it is widely used in incense sticks, sprays, fumigants and evaporators for disinfecting large areas.

    Emollient — It helps soothe the skin, relieve inflammation and irritation, ease infections and promotes a fresh, cool feeling.

    Expectorant — It is specifically effective in treating coughs, but it also helps fight the infections that cause the cough, cold, flu or mumps.

    Memory booster — Sandalwood oil helps improve memory and stimulates concentration. It keeps your brain cool and relaxed and saves you from unnecessary stress and anxiety.

    Tonic — It is soothing on your stomach and the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems, helping them function harmoniously.

    How to Make Sandalwood Oil

    To make sandalwood oil,13 billets of wood are chipped and reduced to a powder. Most sandalwood oil today is produced by steam distillation of the powder. The high boiling nature of the oil makes the process rather slow, taking many hours to complete.

    The yield of oil is highest in the roots and lowest in chips, which are a mixture of heartwood and sapwood. The oil content of the heartwood varies from tree to tree and is higher for older trees. Light-colored wood yields 3 to 6 percent oil, while dark brown wood yields about 2.5 percent oil. Furthermore, oil from younger trees has a slightly lower santalol content than the mature trees, which makes it ill-advised to harvest at a very young age. eHow.com14 provides a quick recipe for homemade sandalwood oil:

    Sandalwood Oil


    • 1 cup carrier oil (olive or jojoba)
    • 1/4 ounce sandalwood powder
    • Medium saucepan with lid
    • Spoon
    • Oven
    • Cheesecloth
    • Jar with lid


    1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

    2. Pour 1 cup of the carrier oil into a saucepan and stir in the sandalwood powder.

    3. Cover the saucepan and place it in the oven, allowing the sandalwood and oil to cook together for two to four hours. Check frequently and stir to prevent burning.

    4. Strain the mixture into a jar using cheesecloth. The oil is ready for use.

    According to eHow, the quality of the oil will depend on the quality of the sandalwood powder used. Homemade oils like this one will last approximately six months before their contents start to decompose. So make sure to label your jars with the date they were made. Store them in a cool, dry place as well.

    How Does Sandalwood Oil Work?

    The benefits of sandalwood oil can be harnessed in different ways.15 In vapor therapy, it can be used as an aphrodisiac, as well as to help address coughs, bronchitis, chest infections, asthma, insomnia, nervous tension and stress. It can also be blended into a massage oil or added to your bath water. In this form it can assist with bladder infections, chest infections and relaxation, to name a few.

    Sandalwood oil can be diluted and used as a gargle if you have a sore or dry throat. You can also use it in a lotion or cream to improve chapped, dry or inflamed skin. It can moisturize and hydrate skin, serving as a wonderful addition in your anti-aging skincare regimen.

    Essential oils generally blend well with one another, but I believe sandalwood oil is best blended with bergamot, black pepper, geranium, myrrh, rose, lavender, ylang-ylang and vetiver.

    Is Sandalwood Oil Safe?

    Sandalwood oil is generally safe for use, but there are warnings and precautions. Essential oils are meant for topical use only, so I do not advise ingesting sandalwood oil. When applying it onto skin, dilute it using a carrier oil, soap, lotion or a buffering agent.16

    Breastfeeding mothers and young children should avoid using sandalwood oil. Additionally, the oil may cause an allergic skin reaction in certain individuals, so it is important to test it on a small area of skin first. Those who suffer from some type of medical condition, such as liver disorder and cancer, should also take extra precaution using the oil in aromatherapy.

    Side Effects of Sandalwood Oil

    Individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to sandalwood or its constituents should avoid using the oil, as there are reports of sandalwood causing dermatitis and sandalwood oil causing photoallergy. But there are very few reports of sandalwood side effects — of the available literature, there are a few cases of the allergic reactions mentioned above.17

    Sandalwood can be used to calm and relax pets,18 but certain oils can be very toxic to cats, so I believe it is necessary to consult your veterinarian first.

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  • Insulin Resistance Speeds Up Cognitive Decline
    published on April 26th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    We are facing a tsunami of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s often said that the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown, but there are numerous theories. For example, research suggesting that an infectious component is at play is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

    In addition to viruses, bacteria and fungi, an infectious protein called TDP-43, which behaves like infectious proteins known as prions — responsible for the brain destruction that occurs in Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Diseases — has been linked to the disease.

    Research presented at the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference revealed Alzheimer's patients with TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have been cognitively impaired at death than those without.1

    Due to its similarities with Mad Cow Disease, investigators have raised the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

    Mounting research also suggests Alzheimer’s disease is intricately connected to insulin resistance; even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia.2 Diabetes and heart disease3 are also known to elevate your risk, and both are rooted in insulin resistance.

    Even Mild Insulin Resistance Speeds Cognitive Decline

    According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and author of “Grain Brain” and “Brain Maker,” Alzheimer’s disease is primarily predicated on lifestyle choices, and anything that promotes insulin resistance, like a processed food diet, will ultimately also raise your risk of Alzheimer’s.

    There’s already plenty of evidence supporting this view, and new research4,5,6 strengthens the link between insulin resistance and dementia even further, particularly among those with existing heart disease. As reported by Reuters:7

    “Having reduced sensitivity to insulin may lead to more rapid decline in memory and other mental skills in old age even among people who don’t have diabetes, a recent study suggests …

    [R]esearchers followed 489 older adults for more than two decades … [P]eople with the highest levels of insulin resistance had the worst cognitive performance and the lowest scores on tests of memory and a mental skill known as executive function.

    ‘There is growing evidence that insulin carries out multiple functions in the brain and thus poor regulation of insulin may contribute to accelerated cognitive decline and potentially to Alzheimer's disease,’ said senior study author David Tanne of Tel Aviv University in Israel.

    ‘It is not just people with type 2 diabetes,’ Tanne said … ‘Even people with mild or moderate insulin resistance who don't have type 2 diabetes are at increased risk over time.’”

    Tanne gave the following advice to readers of Diabetes Daily:8 “Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance and, as a result, protect your brain as you get older.”

    Alzheimer’s Disease — A Form of Diabetes?

    While the exact mechanisms are still unclear, insulin resistance appears to promote cognitive decline by adversely impacting the blood vessels in your brain, promoting the formation of plaques and hindering memory formation, as insulin is involved in your brain’s formation of synaptic connections.

    Researchers have been aware of the link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s for well over a decade.

    In 2005, Alzheimer’s was tentatively dubbed type 3 diabetes when researchers realized that, along with your pancreas, your brain also produces insulin and related proteins, and that this brain insulin is necessary for the survival of your brain cells.9

    Interestingly, while low insulin levels in your body are associated with improved health, the opposite appears to be true when it comes to brain insulin.

    Reduced insulin production in your brain actually contributes to the degeneration of brain cells, and studies have found that people with lower levels of insulin and insulin receptors in their brain often have Alzheimer’s disease.

    According to researchers,10 "These abnormalities do not correspond to Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but reflect a different and more complex disease process that originates in the central nervous system.”

    Interestingly, late last year, researchers at John’s Hopkins Department of Biology discovered that nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein found in your nervous system that is involved in the growth of neurons, also triggers insulin release in your pancreas.11

    Byproduct From Gut Bacteria Helps Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

    In related news, researchers in Finland recently found that having higher levels of indolepropionic acid, a byproduct of gut bacteria, helps protect against type 2 diabetes. Medical News Today reports:12

    “… [F]actors such as genes, lifestyle and diet can influence the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, what is less clear is what happens at the molecular level to link these factors to the disease.

    The new study uses metabolomics, a relatively new technology that allows scientists to quickly assess the metabolite profiles of people. Metabolites are molecules that cells in the body — including gut bacteria — produce as byproducts of their activity.

    Using a particular tool called "nontargeted metabolomics analysis," the researchers assessed the metabolite profiles of 200 participants … who had impaired glucose tolerance and were overweight …

    One group developed type 2 diabetes within five years, and the other group did not develop type 2 diabetes during the 15 years of follow-up.

    When the researchers compared the metabolite profiles of the two groups, they found … differences in levels of indolepropionic acid and certain lipid metabolites … [H]aving high blood levels of indolepropionic acid, a byproduct of gut bacteria, appeared to protect against developing type 2 diabetes.

    Also, a diet rich in fiber and whole grain foods appears to increase levels of indolepropionic acid, which in turn raises the amount of insulin produced by the beta cells in the pancreas …”

    Previous research13 has shown that people with the highest intake of fiber (more than 26 grams a day) had an 18 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake (less than 19 grams a day).

    Inulin, a prebiotic fiber found in onions, leeks, and garlic (among many other foods), has also shown particular promise for type 2 diabetes. Women with type 2 diabetes who consumed 10 grams of inulin a day for two months had improvements in glycemic control and antioxidant levels.14

    Increasing Your Movement Is Also Critical for Diabetes Prevention

    It’s also important to realize that inactivity in the form of extended sitting is one of the primary risk factors for insulin resistance and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes.

    The reason for this is because sitting shuts down or blocks a number of insulin-mediated systems, including muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol. Standing up activates all of these systems at the molecular level.

    Recent research15 also demonstrates that taking a 10-minute walk after each meal provides greater blood sugar control in diabetics than 30 minutes of exercise done once a day, lowering post-meal blood sugar levels by 22 percent. So, increasing the frequency of movement is an important component. Other recent research16 also reconfirms that the more you exercise, the lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. One of the reasons for this is that exercise allows your muscles to use sugar more effectively.

    High intensity exercise will also increase nitric oxide production (as will sun exposure). Nitric oxide will relax your blood vessels, lower blood pressure, decrease platelet activation, and make your blood thinner and less likely to clot and form a stroke or heart attack. Nitric oxide will also improve your immune function.  Exercise will also increase brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) which is fertilizer for your brain cells and helps nourish and protect them from dementia-related changes.

    Ketogenic Diet Improves Insulin Sensitivity

    Another important strategy that can prevent or even reverse insulin resistance and/or type 2 diabetes is nutritional ketosis, which helps optimize your metabolic and mitochondrial function.

    As a general guideline, a dietary intake of about 20 to 50 grams or even less per day of net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) while also keeping protein low-to-moderate is usually low enough to allow you to make the shift to nutritional ketosis — the metabolic state associated with an increased production of ketones in your liver; i.e., the biological reflection of being able to burn fat.

    To find your personal carb target, it’s important to measure not just your blood glucose, but also your ketones, which can be done either through urine, breath or blood. This will give you an objective measure of whether or not you’re truly in ketosis. Nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketones that stay in the range of 0.5 to 3.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

    I explain the ins and outs of implementing this kind of diet, and its many health benefits, in my new book “Fat for Fuel.” In it, I also explain why cycling through stages of feast and famine, opposed to continuously remaining in nutritional ketosis, is so important.

    You actually need to have days where you eat more net carbs and more protein, especially with strength training, to prevent sarcopenia. After a day or two, you then cycle back into nutritional ketosis. Typically, this is done once a week. By periodically pulsing higher carb intakes, consuming, say, 100 or 150 grams of carbs, opposed to 20 to 50 grams per day, your ketone levels will dramatically increase and your blood sugar will drop.

    Ketogenic Diet Reduces Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Too

    In a recent interview, Perlmutter shared core strategies to boost brain performance and dramatically reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. His own father actually died from Alzheimer’s — a death he has since realized was preventable — which has acted as a driving force for his work.

    “To be clear, no one inherits Alzheimer’s. Some of us who have relatives [with] Alzheimer’s … are at increased risk. We certainly know there are some genes, the apoliprotein E (ApoE) 3, 2 and 4 genes that are playing a role in carrying the ApoE-4 allele. It does increase a person’s risk.

    But this is not a determinant that you will or won’t get the disease. It does indicate that you have a higher risk for that disease. But the beauty of what we are talking about is you can offset that risk. You can change your destiny,” Perlmutter says.

    A key strategy to do this is to eat a diet that powers your brain and body with healthy fats, not net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber). When your body burns fat as its primary fuel, ketones are created, which not only burn very efficiently and are a superior fuel for your brain, but also generate fewer reactive oxygen species and less free radical damage.

    A ketone called beta hydroxybutyrate is also a major epigenetic player, stimulating beneficial changes in DNA expression, thereby reducing inflammation and increasing detoxification and antioxidant production.

    A fascinating paper that demonstrates the power of diet and exercise for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s is that of Dr. Dale Bredesen, a UCLA researcher who, by leveraging 36 different healthy lifestyle parameters, was able to reverse Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 patients. This included the use of exercise, ketogenic diet, optimizing vitamin D and other hormones, increasing sleep, meditation, detoxification and eliminating gluten and processed food.

    His work was published in the journal Aging in 2014. You can download the full-text case paper online, which details the full program.17 According to Bredesen, “The results … suggest that, at least early in the course, cognitive decline may be driven in large part by metabolic processes.”

    Sun Exposure — Another Important Lifestyle Factor

    Vitamin D and sun exposure are also important factors to consider. Research shows people living in northern latitudes have higher rates of death from Alzheimer’s than those living in sunnier areas, suggesting a link between sun exposure and brain health. I also recently interviewed Dr. Lew Lim about the use of near-infrared light as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, known as photobiomodulation.

    About 40 percent of the rays in sunlight is near-infrared, which works by interacting with cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) — one of the proteins in the inner mitochondrial membrane and a member of the electron transport chain. CCO is a chromophore, a molecule that attracts and feeds on light. In short, sunlight improves the generation of energy (ATP). The optimal wavelength for stimulating CCO lies in two regions, red at 630 to 660 nanometers (nm) and near-infrared at 810 to 830 nm.

    Photobiomodulation also improves oxygenation to your cells by releasing nitric oxide, is a vasodilator that helps relax your blood vessels, lower your blood pressure and improve vascular health. When you deliver red (660 nm) and infrared light (830 nm) to the mitochondria, it also promotes synthesizing of gene transcription factors that trigger cellular repair, and this is as true in the brain as anywhere else in your body.

    Sunlight is a beneficial electromagnetic frequency (EMF) that is essential and vital for your health, Non-native or artificial EMFs, though, can be highly dangerous to your health and contribute to Alzheimer’s by poisoning your mitochondria. This would be magnetic fields, electromagnetic interference (EMI) from the grid and microwave radiation from cellphone towers and Wi-Fi.

    This is a very deep and important topic that I plan on greatly expanding later this year. I am convinced this is a major issue, but seeking to carefully compile an easy to understand solution to help remediate against these non-native EMFs. I am convinced enough now to never put my cellphone on my body unless it is in airplane mode, and I refuse to hold my cellphone unless it is on a selfie stick.

    Also Mind Your Sleep Hygiene

    Sleep is another factor that can play a significant role in your brain health, as your brain can only detoxify and clean itself out during deep sleep. If you have trouble sleeping at night, be sure to get bright sunlight exposure during the day, and avoid blue light sources at night, such as LED lighting, fluorescent lighting and electronic screens at night.

    You can somewhat mitigate the negative impact of artificial lights and electronic screens in the evening by wearing blue-blocking glasses. I put on my orange-colored glasses as soon as the sun sets.

    Also be sure to sleep in complete darkness. If you can see your hand in front of your face when you lie in bed, your bedroom is too bright. Recent research18 reveals even dim light exposure during sleep can affect your cognition the next day, specifically your cognition and working memory.

    As you can see, while dementia is on the rise, and has few if any effective conventional treatments, you can significantly reduce your risk of this devastating disease by addressing lifestyle factors such as your diet, movement, sun exposure and sleep. For a list of additional lifestyle strategies that can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, please see “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts.”

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  • Being a Night Owl Is Linked to Depression
    published on April 26th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Everyone has a chronotype that dictates when they are naturally predisposed to sleep and wake. For people with evening chronotypes, otherwise known as night owls, new research suggests your mental health could be influenced by the associated staying up late and sleeping in.

    The study, which was presented at the Endocrine Society's 2017 annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, analyzed data from nearly 500 people with type 2 diabetes.1

    Those with a later chronotype had more symptoms of depression compared to those who go to bed early and wake early,2 a finding that could also influence their diabetes outcomes, since depression is linked to diabetes complications.3,4

    It could be possible, then, that strategies to regulate your circadian rhythm, like exposure to sunlight during the day and avoidance of blue light at night, could also benefit your mental health.

    However, some people may have a hard time trying to live out of harmony with their chronotype. In this case, if you're a night owl and have no intention of trying to go to bed earlier, wear blue light-blocking glasses after the sun goes down to help protect your health.

    Regardless of chronotype, the study also found poor sleep quality was associated with depression symptoms — an important link that everyone should be aware of.

    The Link Between Sleep, Light Exposure and Depression

    Lack of sleep has long been linked to depression, but the new finding linking night owls with depressive symptoms could have its roots in light exposure at night.

    An animal study conducted at Ohio State University Medical Center found, for instance, that chronic exposure to dim light at night can cause signs of depression after just a few weeks.5

    The study also showed changes in hamsters' hippocampus similar to brain changes seen in depressed people, with researchers pointing out that rates of depression have risen along with exposure to artificial light at night.

    The link could be due to the production of the hormone melatonin, which is interrupted when you're exposed to light at night. There are many studies that suggest melatonin levels (and by proxy light exposures) control mood-related symptoms, such as those associated with depression.

    For instance, a study published by researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University found that melatonin relieved seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is sometimes known as "winter depression."6 The study found insomniacs have a circadian misalignment in which they are "out of phase" with natural sleeping times.

    While your body will begin to produce melatonin only after it's dark outside, the level of melatonin produced is related to the amount of exposure you have had to bright sunshine the previous day; the less bright light exposure the lower your melatonin levels.

    Yet another study about melatonin and circadian phase misalignment found a correlation between circadian misalignment and severity of depression symptoms.7 Studies have also linked low melatonin levels to depression in a variety of populations, including multiple sclerosis patients8 and post-menopausal women.9

    Is Exposure to LEDs Turning You Into a Night Owl?

    The other side of the coin is that we're in the midst of an unprecedented light experiment not only because of the widespread use of artificial light in general but also because over the past 20 years powerful blue LED (light-emitting diode) lights have been added to electronics like smartphones, computers and flat-screen TVs.

    LED lights are rapidly replacing earlier lighting technology, including incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

    The problem is that when your brain "sees" blue light at night, the mixed message can add up to serious health issues, and widespread ones at that since the use of TVs, computers and cell phones close to bedtime is so pervasive.

    In 2011, researchers found that evening exposure to LED-backlit computer screens affect circadian physiology.

    Among 13 young men, exposure to five hours of an LED-lit screen at night significantly suppressed melatonin production along with sleepiness.10 Separate research revealed "blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans."11

    Looking at a tablet for even two hours in the evening is enough to suppress your body's natural nighttime rise of this hormone,12 while bumping it up to four hours leads to reduced feelings of sleepiness, increased time to fall asleep (by about 10 minutes) and lower quality sleep compared to those who read paper books for the same period.

    So while the featured study didn't address this, it's quite possible that one reason why night owls have more depressive symptoms could be due to the increased exposure to blue light at night, and its corresponding effect on lowering melatonin levels.

    Sleep Therapy May Be Helpful for Depression

    The modern world does not cater to people with evening chronotypes, which means, if you're a night owl, you likely still have to get up early anyway. This means there's a good chance you're skimping on sleep as a result. This lack of sleep — whether by choice or due to a condition like insomnia — also increases your risk of depression.

    While it was long thought that insomnia was a symptom of depression, it now seems that insomnia may precede depression in some cases and may even double your risk of becoming depressed.13 Recent research also found that sleep therapy resulted in remarkable improvements in depressed patients.

    One study found that 87 percent of depression patients who resolved their insomnia had major improvements to their depression, with symptoms disappearing after eight weeks whether the person took an antidepressant or a placebo pill.

    Study participants received four biweekly talk therapy sessions, known as cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), to treat their insomnia.14

    Unlike sleep hygiene therapy, which focuses on regular exercise, avoiding caffeine and alcohol at night and promotion of other healthy habits for restful sleep, CBT-1 teaches people to reserve their bed only for sleeping and involves the following guidance:

    • Establish a regular wake-up time
    • Get out of bed when you're awake
    • Avoid eating, reading, watching TV or performing similar activities in bed
    • Avoid daytime napping

    The study found that those who overcame their insomnia using this program recovered from their depression at nearly twice the rate of those who did not. If you're having trouble getting to bed on time because you're a night owl, it's possible that sleep therapy could help you to adjust your sleeping schedule as well.

    Tip No. 1 for Night Owls: Wear Blue-Blocking Glasses After Sundown

    If you regularly stay up late, I'd first recommend trying to adjust your sleep schedule so you're asleep by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. — this is typically when your brain starts progressively increasing melatonin to make you sleepy.

    However, if you're awake after sundown, be sure you're wearing blue-blocking, amber-colored glasses. Red and amber lights will not suppress melatonin, while blue, green and white lights — the wavelengths that are the most common outdoors during daytime hours — will.

    Once you have your glasses on, it doesn't matter what light sources you have on in your house. I typically put them on around dusk, but if you struggle with sleep issues it would probably be wise to put them on even earlier, especially if your light exposure during the day has been limited.

    Alternatively, you could also shift to a low-wattage bulb with yellow, orange or red light at sundown if you need illumination. A salt lamp illuminated by a five-watt bulb is an ideal solution that will not interfere with your melatonin production.

    If using a computer or smart phone, install blue light-blocking software like f.lux. The program automatically alters the color temperature of your screen as the day goes on, pulling out the blue wavelengths as it gets late. Wearing the blue-blocking glasses is the simplest solution, however, and it's also effective.

    Studies have confirmed that when using blue-blocking glasses, people produce as much melatonin as they do in dim light, even if they're in a lit room or using light-emitting technology.15

    Other studies have shown that people using blue-blocking glasses had major improvements in both sleep quality and mood. Shift workers who use them before bedtime (i.e., in the morning when it's bright out) also report improved sleep.16

    How to Reset Your Body Clock

    It may not be possible, or advisable, to try to alter your innate chronotype. However, there are certainly some people who identify more as night owls primarily because of environmental factors and not necessarily because they're "hard-wired" that way.

    If you think the latter may apply to you, I recommend realigning your circadian rhythm to the natural rhythm of daylight and nightfall. Without this synchronization, aspects of your waking/sleeping system will be working at the less-than-ideal time. The following three factors will help "anchor" your biological rhythm, which will make falling asleep easier while promoting body clock synchronization and optimal health.

    • Get bright daylight exposure, ideally around solar noon, for at least half an hour or more each day. This will "anchor" your circadian rhythm and make it less prone to drifting if you're exposed to light later in the evening.
    • Then, in the evening, put on blue-blocking glasses and/or dim environmental lights and avoid the blue light wavelength (this includes LED light bulbs, TVs and most electronic gadgets)
    • When it's time to go to sleep, make sure your bedroom is pitch black. I recommend installing blackout shades for this purpose or using a sleep mask. Also keep in mind that digital alarm clocks with blue light displays could have a detrimental effect, so if you have to have an LED clock, opt for one with a red display, and set it on its dimmest setting.

    Are You Ready to Get Some Sleep?

    Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way toward ensuring you uninterrupted, restful sleep — and thereby better health, both mental and physical. In addition to what was already discussed above, the following suggestions can also be helpful if you're having trouble falling or staying asleep. You can also review my 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep for even more tips.

    Address mental states that prevent peaceful slumber

    A sleep disturbance is always caused by something, be it physical, emotional or bothAnxiety and anger are two mental states that are incompatible with sleep. Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities is another common sleep blocker.

    To identify the cause of your wakefulness, analyze the thoughts that circle in your mind during the time you lie awake, and look for themes.

    Many who have learned the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) find it is incredibly useful in helping them to sleep. One strategy is to compile a list of your current concerns, and then "tap" on each issue. To learn how to tap, please refer to our free EFT guide.

    Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees Fahrenheit

    Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime

    This raises your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you're ready for sleep.

    Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom

    EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other detrimental biological effects. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home. Ideally, you should turn off any wireless router while you are sleeping — after all, you don't need the Internet when you sleep.

    Develop a relaxing pre-sleep routine

    Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps keep your sleep on track, but having a consistent pre-sleep routine or "sleep ritual" is also important.

    For instance, if you read before heading to bed, your body knows that reading at night signals it's time for sleep. Calming music, stretching, or doing relaxation or mindfulness exercises can also be helpful.

    Use a fitness tracker to help you get to bed on time and track which activities boost or hinder deep sleep

    To optimize sleep you need to make sure you're going to bed early enough. If you have to get up at 6:30 a.m., you're not going to get enough sleep if you go to bed after midnight.

    Many fitness trackers can now track both daytime body movement and sleep, allowing you to get a better picture of how much sleep you're actually getting, as opposed to the time you spend in bed. Newer fitness trackers can even tell you which activities led to your best sleep and what factors resulted in poor sleep.

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  • Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good?
    published on April 25th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Vitamin D, often referred to as "the sunshine vitamin," is different from other vitamins in that it influences your entire body.

    And, while scientists refer to vitamin D as a vitamin, it is actually a steroid hormone obtained from sun exposure, food sources and supplementation. Vitamin D receptors have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones.

    Unfortunately, dermatologists and the media do the public a great disservice by recommending avoiding the sun to decrease skin cancers.1,2

    This is because these "experts" fail to realize that vitamin D deficiency not only raises your risk of skin cancer3 but many of the most common cancers as well, which claim far more lives than the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma.

    Breast4 and prostate5,6 cancers are just two examples where low vitamin D renders you more vulnerable to more aggressive forms of the disease. Low vitamin D also raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases.

    The scientific evidence, now running in excess of 34,000 studies, details the many benefits of UV exposure, both for vitamin D production and other benefits that are completely unrelated to vitamin D.

    The most important thing you can do to prevent skin cancer is to spend a sufficient amount of time in the sun as frequently as possible, ideally close to daily to maintain an optimal vitamin D level.

    A primary risk factor for skin cancer is intermittent overexposure, not sensible exposure. Appropriate sun exposure means, first and foremost, avoiding sunburn. As long as you avoid sunburn you are getting the benefits of sun exposure.

    Sunscreen Chemical Is Lethal to Horseshoe Crabs

    Avoid shielding yourself from the sun's rays by slathering on chemical sunscreens, many of which have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer, as noted by clinical laboratory scientist Elizabeth Plourde, Ph.D.,7 in the video above. Sunscreens have also been implicated in the destruction of corals and other sea life.

    A recent symposium on emerging environmental contaminants highlighted the environmental dangers associated with widespread sunscreen use. According to University of Delaware marine biologist Danielle Dixson, the chemical oxybenzone in sunscreens is lethal to horseshoe crab eggs.

    In Delaware, beach season coincides with the spawning season of horseshoe crabs, and since they lay their eggs in the sand in shallow water, they're particularly vulnerable to chemical contaminants introduced by beachgoers.

    Researchers estimate sunscreen-wearing beachgoers introduce as much as 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen into the world's oceans each year. As reported by Cape Gazette:8

    "'Sunscreen exposure strongly influences the development, growth and survivorship of the horseshoe crab egg and larvae,' [Dixon] concluded …

    The chemical found in Hawaiian Tropic used in Dixson's study is oxybenzone, which has been found to alter the DNA of coral, increase susceptibility to coral bleaching and disrupt the endocrine systems of marine animals.

    Research has found the chemical impacts aquatic life at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion — the equivalent of one drop of water in about six Olympic-size pools, Dixson said."

    Sunscreens Contain Many Potentially Hazardous Chemicals

    While some sunscreen manufacturers have switched from oxybenzone to avobenzone, researchers like Dixon note no studies have been done to confirm whether avobenzone is actually a safer choice. Chances are, it's not.

    Disturbingly, recent research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found 96 percent of the U.S. population has oxybenzone in their bodies, and this chemical is a known endocrine disruptor linked to reduced sperm count in men and endometriosis in women.9

    Disturbingly, at least nine of the sunscreen ingredients the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved are known endocrine disruptors.10

    Aside from oxybenzone — which is found in 70 percent of sunscreens — other commonly used chemicals that can enter your bloodstream and can cause toxic side effects, including hormone disruption, include but are not limited to:11,12

    Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)

    Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

    Octyl salicyclate





    Menthyl anthranilate





    Many sunscreens also contain vitamin A and/or its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, which have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer by increasing the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread.

    Beware of Nanoparticles

    Spray-on sunscreens13 pose an additional hazard by releasing toxic particles into the air. The FDA has previously expressed concern that inhaling these products may be risky, especially to children, and has warned parents to avoid spray-on sunscreens.14,15

    The two agents of greatest concern are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as these are the two most often used in spray-on sunscreen products. These two minerals are the safest topical sunscreen agents around, but inhaling them is a whole different story.

    Most studies to date have shown that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe and unlikely to penetrate your skin when applied topically, as long as they are not nanosized.

    But when these minerals are inhaled, they have been shown to irritate lung tissues and potentially lead to serious health problems,16 and the finer the particles, the worse their effects appear to be.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as a "possible carcinogen" when inhaled in high doses.17 According to IARC:18

    "Titanium dioxide causes varying degrees of inflammation and associated pulmonary effects including lung epithelial cell injury, cholesterol granulomas and fibrosis. Rodents experience stronger pulmonary effects after exposure to ultrafine titanium dioxide particles compared with fine particles on a mass basis."

    Safe Versus Unsafe Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide

    Most nanoscale particles (microscopic particles measuring less than 100 nanometers)19 found in American sunscreens are either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.20 Animal research has shown that inhaled nanoparticles can reach all areas of your respiratory tract and, since your lungs have difficulty clearing small particles, they may be allowed to pass into your bloodstream.

    Other studies have proven some nanoparticles are even able to cross your blood-brain barrier. If allowed to enter your lungs or penetrate your skin, nanoparticles therefore have the potential to cause widespread damage to your cells and organs, immune system, nervous system, heart and brain.21,22 Some scientists postulate that the toxic effects of nanoparticles relate to their size being in the range of a virus, which may trigger your body's immune response.23

    Inhaling higher amounts of zinc oxide can also lead to "metal fume fever,"24 characterized by chest pain, cough, dyspnea, reduced lung volumes, nausea, chills, malaise and leukocytosis. One animal study found zinc oxide nanoparticles to be cytotoxic, interfering with zinc homeostasis, elevating zinc levels and resulting in apoptosis (cell death).25

    An Indian study concluded that zinc oxide particles cause toxicity in human lung cells possibly through "stress-induced apoptosis."26

    Human studies are sorely lacking as to the health effects of inhaling of zinc oxide particles, especially at lower levels, such as from brief exposure to sunscreen spray. However, using these spray-on products are clearly an unnecessary risk since safer options are readily available. Your safest bet is to use topical zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that does not contain nanosized particles.

    Sun Avoidance Promotes Early Death

    One of the most compelling reasons for getting regular, sensible sun exposure on bare skin is that it promotes optimal physical and psychological health and helps prevent chronic diseases of all kinds. As noted in a scientific review27 by dermatologist Dr. Richard Weller, sun exposure has cardiovascular benefits independent of vitamin D, and cardiovascular disease is a far greater public health problem than skin cancer.

    In fact, research suggests your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke is 800 percent greater on average than your risk of dying from skin cancer.28 One of the key messages in Weller's paper is that public health messages really should be determined based on all-cause mortality, not a singular disease.

    "Sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, but sun avoidance may carry more of a cost than benefit for overall good health," he writes. Another study29 published in the journal Public Health Nutrition in 2012 also concluded that:

    "The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM (cutaneous malignant melanoma) risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure. Important scientific facts behind this judgment are given."

    Even though Weller is ahead of the pack in recognizing the importance of sun exposure, he and most other physicians don't understand why this is so. There are many reasons, but two large ones are:

    • Exposure to the sun increases nitric oxide production, which will relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure and decrease platelet activation, making your blood thinner and less likely to clot and form a stroke or heart attack. Nitric oxide will also improve your immune function.
    • Red and infrared rays are rarely discussed but recent research has shown that red at 660 nm and near infrared at 830 nm both have powerful benefits on improving mitochondrial function. This is because cytochrome c oxidase, which is one of the electron transport chains in the mitochondria, are chromophores for those wavelengths and when they absorb that energy the efficiency of ATP and mitochondrial cellular energy is increased. 

    Sun Avoidance Is as Risky as Smoking

    A study30,31 driving home this risk-benefit reality was done in Sweden. More than 25,500 Swedish women between the ages of 25 and 64 were followed for 20 years. Detailed information about sun exposure habits and confounding factors were obtained and analyzed in a "competing risk" scenario. Overall, women who got regular sun exposure did have a higher risk for melanoma compared to sun avoiders, but they also had a lower all-cause mortality risk, likely due to their increased vitamin D levels.

    Women with active sun exposure habits ended up having a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and non-cancer death compared to those who avoided the sun. According to the authors:

    "Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking. Compared to the highest sun exposure group, life expectancy of avoiders of sun exposure was reduced by 0.6 [to] 2.1 years."

    In short, if you're concerned about mortality, and not just mortality from one specific disease (melanoma), the scales are decidedly tipped toward sun exposure being of tremendous benefit. Five of the many noteworthy properties of spending some quality time in the sun include:32

    1. Pain-killing (analgesic) properties
    2. Increased subcutaneous fat metabolism
    3. Regulation of human lifespan (solar cycles appear to be able to directly affect the human genome, thereby influencing lifespan)
    4. Daytime sun exposure improves evening alertness
    5. Conversion to metabolic energy (i.e., we may "ingest" energy directly from the sun, like plants do)

    Measure Your Vitamin D in Summer and Winter

    As a general rule, I recommend measuring your vitamin D level twice a year, in the middle of the summer and winter, to ascertain your annual high and low. Ideally, you want your serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) to be between 40 and 65 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) year-round. Anything below 20 ng/mL is considered a serious deficiency state that increases your risk of both acute and chronic ill health.

    When it comes to optimizing your vitamin D through sensible sun exposure, keep your skin color in mind. African Americans are more prone to vitamin D deficiencies as they produce less vitamin D3 than do Caucasians in response to usual levels of sun exposure. As a general rule, the darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need, and vice versa.

    Remember the absolute best way to optimize your vitamin D level is by sensible sun exposure. I haven't swallowed oral vitamin D for over 10 years now and my level is rarely below 70 ng/mL, but that is because I made a conscious effort to move down to Florida and walk in the sun for 90 minutes nearly every day.

    I realize that not everyone can do this, and if you can't, then taking a supplement is likely a wise choice. I just want you to recognize it is a significantly inferior alternative as you are also missing out on the nitric oxide, and the red- and near-infrared benefits from the sun mentioned above.

    Reduce Your Risk of Sunburn With 'Internal Sunscreens'

    As mentioned, one of the primary risk factors of skin cancer is sunburn, which is an inflammatory process. Aside from paying careful attention to covering up before you get burned, you can reduce your risk of sunburn by eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and/or taking an astaxanthin supplement. The latter has been shown to work as an effective internal sunscreen, protecting your skin from UV radiation damage.

    In addition to copious testimonials and anecdotal evidence, scientific studies have substantiated these skin protective effects.33 In one study, subjects who took 4 milligrams (mg) of astaxanthin per day for two weeks showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin. Animal studies lend further evidence to astaxanthin's effects as an internal sunscreen:

    • In one study, mice were fed various combinations of astaxanthin, beta-carotene and retinol for four months. Astaxanthin was substantially effective in preventing photoaging of the skin after UV radiation, as measured by markers for skin damage34
    • A rat study found astaxanthin was found to be 100 times stronger than beta-carotene and 1,000 times stronger than lutein in preventing UVA light-induced oxidative stress35
    • The Journal of Dermatological Science published a study in 2002 finding astaxanthin is able to protect against alterations in human DNA induced by UVA light exposure36

    How to Choose a Safer Sunscreen

    There are thousands of sunscreens on the market and it may seem daunting to find a safe one. The majority of chemical sunscreens contain endocrine disruptors, which are particularly risky for pregnant women, infants and small children. These can disrupt growth and development, cause early puberty and result in small testicle size and low sperm count in boys. They also have carcinogenic potential.37

    Among the worst are those containing oxybenzone, synthetic fragrances and retinyl palmitate. When choosing a sunscreen, your safest choice is a lotion or cream with zinc oxide. It's stable in sunlight and provides the best protection from UVA rays.38 Your next best option is titanium dioxide. Just make sure the product:

    • Does not contain nano sized particles
    • Protects against both UVA and UVB rays

    Keep in mind that SPF protects only from UVB rays, which are the rays within the ultraviolet spectrum that allow your skin to produce vitamin D. The most dangerous rays, in terms of causing skin damage and cancer, are the UVA rays. Avoid sunscreens with an SPF above 50.

    While not intrinsically harmful, the higher SPF tends to provide a false sense of security, encouraging you to stay in the sun longer than you should. Moreover, higher SPF typically does not provide much greater protection. In fact, research suggests people using high-SPF sunscreens get the same or similar exposure to UV rays as those using lower-SPF products.

    Other Safe Sunning Tips

    I recommend spending time in the sun regularly — ideally daily. Sunshine offers substantial health benefits, provided you take a few simple precautions to protect yourself from overexposure. Here are my top five safe sunning tips:

    1. Give your body a chance to produce vitamin D before you apply sunscreen. Expose large amounts of your skin (at least 40 percent of your body) to sunlight for short periods daily. Optimizing your vitamin D levels may reduce your risk of many internal cancers, and actually reduces your risk of melanoma as well.

    2. Stay out just long enough for your skin to turn the very lightest shade of pink. Shield your face from the sun using a safe sunscreen or hat, as your facial skin is thin and more prone to sun damage, such as premature wrinkling.

    3. When you'll be in the sun for longer periods, cover up with clothing, a hat or shade (either natural or shade you create using an umbrella). A safe sunscreen can be applied after you've optimized your skin's daily vitamin D production, although clothing is your safest option to prevent burning and skin damage.

    Keep in mind that in order for sunscreen to be effective, you must apply large amounts over all exposed areas of your skin. This means the product should not trigger skin allergies and must provide good protection against UVA and UVB radiation. It also should not be absorbed into your skin, as the most effective sunscreen acts as a topical barrier.

    4. Consider the use of an "internal sunscreen" like astaxanthin to gain additional sun protection. Typically, it takes several weeks of daily supplementation to saturate your body's tissues enough to provide protection. Astaxanthin can also be applied topically, which is why it's now being incorporated into a number of topical sunscreen products.

    5. Consuming a healthy diet full of natural antioxidants is another highly useful strategy to help avoid sun damage. Fresh, raw, unprocessed foods deliver the nutrients that your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 and animal-based DHA omega-3 oils in your skin, which are your first lines of defense against sunburn.

    Vegetables also provide your body with an abundance of powerful antioxidants that will help you fight the free radicals caused by sun damage that can lead to burns and cancer.

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  • Can Spinal Adjustments Relieve Lower Back Pain?
    published on April 25th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The American Chiropractic Association states at any one time, nearly 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain.1 In 2012, the American Physical Therapy Association surveyed and found more than one-third of adults were affected, but two-thirds of them chose not to seek treatment.2

    As the population of the U.S. was nearly 313 million at the time of the survey,3 an estimated 103 million were suffering lower back pain, and both national and state level estimates of the prevalence of lower back show it's rising. On any given day, 2 percent of the U.S. population is disabled by back pain.4

    Chronic back pain may occur consistently, or you may experience times of remission when the pain dissipates and you move about freely without discomfort. Chronic back pain, defined as being present for 12 weeks or more,5 occurs in approximately 20 percent of people.6

    Most cases of lower back pain are related to a mechanical issue. In other words, the pain is related to a musculoskeletal condition, and not the result of an underlying medical condition such as kidney stones, cancer, arthritis or fracture.7

    Fortunately, many musculoskeletal issues may be successfully addressed without the use of surgery or dangerous drugs. A recent study has demonstrated the average person experienced a one-point reduction in lower back pain following spinal manipulation.8

    Spinal Manipulation May Reduce Lower Back Pain and Improve Function

    The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), was a meta-analysis of 26 medical studies involving 1,700 patients with lower back pain between 2011 and 2017.9

    The spinal manipulation was performed by a variety of professionals, including chiropractors, physical therapists, osteopaths and massage therapists.10

    The results from this study demonstrate a modest improvement in pain following a spinal manipulation, which is approximately the same amount of pain relief as over-the-counter pain relievers or non-inflammatory non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications.

    The researchers also found spinal manipulation had an effect on overall function. The average person reported greater ease and comfort in their day-to-day activities, such as walking, sleeping or turning in bed.

    These results are not considered "clinically meaningful improvement," according to Dr. Wolf Mehling, from Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.11

    However, while these results appear to be modest in nature, it is important to recognize the results are an average, and that the participants only underwent manipulation.

    In other words, they were not given any additional rehabilitative exercises designed to maintain functional movement of the spine gained after manipulation, or to reduce inflammation in the area of pain.

    None of the studies found serious side effects from the treatment. Some patients did experience slight muscle stiffness or headache following the adjustment.12 Dr. Richard Deyo, an internist and professor of evidence-based medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, wrote an accompanying editorial, saying:13

    "Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is a controversial treatment option for lower back pain, perhaps in part because it is most frequently administered by chiropractors.

    Chiropractic therapy is not widely accepted by some traditional health care practitioners. This may be, at least in part, because some early practitioners of chiropractic care rejected the germ theory, immunizations and other scientific advances."

    Early traditional medical practitioners also rejected germ theory, immunizations and other scientific advances.

    The controversy may also be, in part, due to the fact that chiropractors often rely on nutrition and exercise to alleviate musculoskeletal issues, rather than prescribing dangerous drugs or surgery that may do more harm than good.

    What Causes Back Pain?

    Determining the cause of your back pain is as important as the treatment you choose. If you don't treat the underlying cause of the pain, it may simply return.

    One common cause is an imbalance of muscle contraction and stretching that results from long hours of sitting at your job, commuting and relaxing at home in the evening hours.

    Sitting shortens the iliopsoas muscles that connect your bones in the lumbar region of the spine to the top of your femur. This may cause severe pain when standing, as the change in position pulls your lower back forward. Many end up going through medical procedures to "fix" this problem, or taking drugs for long periods of time.

    Pain can also be triggered by a simple activity or movement, such as bending over to pick up an object from the floor. However, this type of pain often originates in the prior months from poor posture, obesity or poor physical condition facilitated by inactivity.

    Each of these factors places stress on the lower back that it was not designed to withstand. Over time, like any other overuse injury, the area becomes weakened and the muscles inflamed, triggering pain and discomfort.

    One way to help prevent lower back pain triggered by weak muscles or poor posture is to develop firm abdominal muscles that act like a built-in corset, holding your gut and stabilizing your spine and discs.

    This is an effective method of treating the cause of lower back pain, instead of just the symptom of pain. Using drugs to mask pain, or muscle relaxers to mask an inflammatory response, will not change the cause and it's likely you'll experience recurring pain.

    Spinal Fusion is Not the Answer

    Spinal fusion surgery rarely cures chronic back pain. In the past 15 years, the number of spinal fusions performed has exploded by nearly 600 percent, while the rate of success has actually plummeted.14 Insurance reimbursement for procedures and rising cost of surgical hardware have contributed to the financial growth.

    A case study in Florida demonstrated how fees for this procedure grew from $47 million a year to $2 billion, adjusted for inflation.15 Originally, fusions were used to treat an unstable spine after a catastrophic accident that left the spine fractured, so patients were not bedridden for two months while the vertebrae healed.

    At some point in the 1980s the surgery was also used for degenerative disc disease, to stabilize the area through a period of instability. Lower back pain associated with degenerative disc disease is often linked with excessive stress on the spinal discs, resulting in tearing or bulging and pain.

    Triggers include excess weight, poor posture and cigarette smoking.16 However, eliminating motion in the area of disc degeneration does not affect the original cause and therefore you remain at risk for continued damage to your spine.

    Dangers of Using Drugs to Mask Back Trouble

    Traditional health practitioners are often quick to prescribe pain medications, including NSAIDs and even opioids, for chronic back pain. While the drugs may provide immediate pain relief, the effect is temporary.

    Unfortunately, the pain relief may tempt you to over exert inflamed muscles and, in some cases, you may suffer hyperalgesia, or an increased sensitivity to the pain. Drugs and opioids mask the pain, but do not address the cause of the problem, leaving you in worse shape than before you took the medication.

    While there is reason to use a short-term course of medication in severe cases, the best form of treatment is to address the cause and change the way you use your body to affect a long-term improvement.

    Moreover, drugs come with severe side effects, even those dispensed over-the-counter. NSAIDs may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, as well as severe gastrointestinal bleeding, increased blood pressure and kidney damage.17

    As significant as those side effects are, opioid prescriptions come at an even higher cost. Opioid painkillers, like OxyContin, commonly prescribed for back pain, are highly addictive and one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs today.

    Back pain has actually become one of the primary triggers for the growing opioid addiction epidemic.

    The bottom line is that painkillers come with severe health risks, especially when combined with other medications, such as muscle relaxers and anti-seizure medication. Using pain medications also potentially sets up a vicious cycle, during which you may over exert yourself while the pain is masked, causing more injury to inflamed muscles.

    Effective Strategies to Reduce Back Pain Without Drugs

    There are effective strategies to reduce your risk of developing lower back pain, or preventing further damage, all without using drugs. Your physician may recommend painkillers to dull the ache in your lower back, but without making permanent changes to the way you use your back, you'll likely not get rid of the underlying problem.

    Spinal manipulation has been a safe and effective practice used for the last century.18 While it is an effective means of reducing pain in your lower back, a full evaluation and follow-up exercises may also help prevent lower back pain as you learn how to use your back and lower extremities properly, including lifting, walking, sitting and standing.

    Even if you aren't currently experiencing back pain, I would advise you to consider the following treatment strategies to prevent an occurrence or recurrence of lower back pain:

    Regular stretching

    I strongly advise you to engage in a regular stretching program. My favorite is active isolated stretching (AIS), developed by Aaron Mattes. It's completely different from the traditional type of stretching, and is a great way to get flexibility back into your system.

    Stop smoking

    Smoking reduces blood flow to your lower spine, increasing the risk of disc degeneration.

    Optimize your vitamin D level

    Get enough vitamin D from sun exposure daily, as vitamin D helps keep your bones, including your spine, strong.

    Maintain optimal weight

    Carrying extra weight, especially around your middle, increases stress on the lower back and changes your center of gravity, also changing your posture.

    Protect your back

    You use your back muscles with most body movements, so it is important to protect your spine, especially while lifting. Do not bend forward to lift, but rather lower your body to the ground by bending your hips and knees while keeping your back straight. Use the muscles in your thighs and hips to rise again, holding the object close to your body to distribute the weight more evenly.

    Don't lift a heavy object above your shoulder level and avoid twisting your body while carrying a heavy object.

    Mind your posture

    You also protect your back by using good body mechanics to sit, stand, walk and sleep. It may feel like it is second nature to perform these daily activities, but when done incorrectly, you may be increasing chronic stress to your lower back.

    Practice proper posture while sitting and standing every hour. Pay careful attention to consciously suck in your belly and rotate your pelvis slightly up.

    At the same time, keep your head back, with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This posture will keep your spine in proper alignment. Do this every hour while sitting and standing, holding muscles tight, for several minutes.

    Stay hydrated

    Your muscles and spinal discs depend on water to maintain good health and reduce inflammation.

    Wear low-heeled shoes

    High heels may make a fashion statement, but you'll likely pay the price after just a short time as high heels put your hips and lower back into poor alignment, placing stress on your lower back.

    Switch positions

    Remaining in place for long periods of time can increase the experience of stiffness in your muscles and reduce flexibility in your joints. Switch positions in your chair frequently; check your posture and don't stay standing in one position for very long.

    Two Highly Effective Treatment and Preventive Strategies

    Two highly effective means of preventing lower back pain are closely related — staying active and practicing interrupted sitting may help to improve muscle strength and coordination, reduce stiffness and improve blood flow. Exercise and movement are two ends of the same spectrum. Exercise is important to raise your heart rate and improve muscle strength, while non-exercise movement is important for overall health.

    Both are also important to your back health. The benefits of exercising for 30 minutes or more each day may actually be counteracted by sitting for long periods of time. While you may not be able to avoid sitting at your desk at work, it is important to make accommodations to improve your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health. At this time I believe it is important to be standing as much as possible during the day.

    Consider a modified desk at work where you can stand to work 50 minutes and sit for 10 minutes an hour, instead of standing 10 minutes and sitting 50. Balance boards can increase the amount of work your muscles do and increase circulation while standing. The benefits of standing and walking as much as possible during the day, using good posture, cannot be overstated. In fact, using these strategies was exactly how I eliminated my own back pain.

    Foundation Training Hits Back Pain Where It Starts

    I am convinced that non-exercise movement, or the way you move your body when doing everyday activities, may be the most important component of exercise. Dr. Eric Goodman is an expert in structural biomechanics. He developed Foundation Training, based on exercises that teach you how to optimize posture and reduce body pain. In this interview he discusses the importance of body position to your overall health.

    The secret to the program is simplicity — you don't need a gym or specialized equipment. By incorporating this series of powerful movements into your daily routine, you learn how to move better and use your body the way it was designed to be used. This reduces pain and discomfort, and significantly reduces your risk of overuse injuries.

    A major contributor to back pain is sitting for eight to 10 hours each day. Walking with good posture can maximize the benefits of movement and is foundational for optimal health. Using simple body weight exercises, you integrate muscle movement and elongate your core and posterior chain. These are the muscles that connect your pelvis through your lower back and up to your trapezius muscles in your upper back.

    By improving the power, coordination and integration of these muscles, you may alleviate many chronic musculoskeletal pain issues, including your lower back. This means Foundation Training will not only help lower back pain, but also train your muscles to work functionally and may help reduce other pain that results from poor posture or improper use. In the video below, Goodman walks you through three simple Foundation exercises to improve your posture.

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  • Half the World Is Drinking Contaminated Water
    published on April 25th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act was supposed to ensure clean water for swimming, fishing and drinking.1 Unfortunately, after more than four decades of regulations, American waterways are in serious jeopardy.

    Toxic runoff from industries, improper disposal of medications and agricultural runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and large factory farms all contribute to a severe water pollution problem.

    Not only are groundwater aquifers rapidly depleting, but much of the world's water supply has become too contaminated to drink or bathe in. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly two billion people don't have safe drinking water.2

    Forced to drink contaminated water, hundreds of thousands of people die from preventable diseases each year. Not only a problem for developing countries, water across the world is contaminated with pollutants that treatment plants are not prepared to filter.

    Water Pollution Threatens Your Health

    Pollution is not only affecting the health of humans, but also plants and animals on which we depend for our food supply. For example, the South Asian water basin should supply water to more than 750 million people, but the water is not even usable for irrigation due to arsenic contamination and excess salt.3

    Factory farms are undoubtedly the greatest contributor to water pollution in the U.S., posing multiple threats to humans, plants and wildlife. Aquatic creatures are dying at higher than normal rates, and are born disfigured. Frogs with six legs or male fish that lay eggs are just two examples.

    A recent U.S. Geological Survey found an alarming number of white sucker fish with prominent cancer tumors in several of Lake Michigan's tributaries. These fish are bottom feeders, eating from the sediment on the river bottom and their health is an indication of how quickly the environment is degrading.

    As fish are succumbing to cancer due to toxins in the environment, it's no great surprise that cancer has become one of the leading causes of death in humans, who are at the top of the food chain.

    Ultimately, water pollution threatens the health of all who touch it, and the effects seen on wildlife may be a preview of what can be expected in humans.

    Two Billion People Drink Water Polluted With Feces

    In an attempt to address the world water pollution problem, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. There are a series of targets countries may use to eradicate poverty and improve living conditions, including affordable water and sanitation, by 2030.

    However, according to WHO, many countries may significantly fall short of this goal without a radical increase in their community investments.4

    The most recent WHO report acknowledged that countries had raised annual budgets for hygiene, water and sanitation an average of 4.9 percent in the past three years, yet that may not be enough. According to Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO's public health department:5

    "Today, almost [2] billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

    Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrheal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma."

    According to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, since 1990 2.6 billion people have gained access to clean water sources, but nearly 663 million are still without access.6

    And, more than 80 percent of wastewater contaminated by human waste is discharged into rivers and oceans without any pollution removal. This may be purposefully or as the result of treatment plant failure.

    On February 9, 2017, King County wastewater treatment plant in Seattle suffered an electrical failure. The failure resulted in catastrophic damage to the plant, after which nearly 30 million gallons of raw sewage and untreated runoff poured into Puget Sound, off the coast of Washington.7

    Other toxic water conditions related to agricultural runoff include the recent algae bloom that closed beaches and killed thousands of fish off the coast of Florida.8 The blooms occurred after nitrogen rich water from Lake Okeechobee was drained and subsequently released into the ocean.

    High levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water, from farm fertilization runoff, triggered algae growth, choking out oxygen in the water and creating a toxic waste area.9

    US Drinking Water Contains Pharmaceuticals and Pesticides

    Research has demonstrated U.S. drinking water is contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, antibacterial products and medications.10 In an ambitious testing project, scientists are gathering samples from the Hudson River to measure levels of pharmaceutical pollution in the waterway.11

    Past testing detected antidepressants, blood pressure medicine and decongestants, among others.

    This round of testing will include a larger portion of the Hudson River and comes immediately following a federal report that showed male fish in the Wallkill River, a tributary of the Hudson, were developing female characteristics. Dan Shapley, water quality director of the Hudson Riverkeeper advocacy group said:12

    "There is a big universe of chemicals that we just don't know what their impact is. It took years for us to understand that greenhouse gases change the Earth's temperature, that nutrients added to water devastates coral reefs. We're just starting to look at what pharmaceuticals can do."

    Two years ago, 83 of 117 chemicals were found in samples from the Hudson, including insect repellent DEET. Researchers are hoping this latest survey of the river will help pinpoint the sources, as the male fish developing female characteristics are from one of New Jersey's most protected water areas.

    Unlike volumes of information available on the health effects of pathogens, the science on long-term exposure to small amounts of a chemical soup mixture of pharmaceuticals is still in its infancy. Research recently released in Environmental Science and Technology found evidence of complex blends of organic pollutants.13

    Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and tested streams across the U.S., looking for 719 organic chemicals in 38 different sources.14

    Every stream, including those from undeveloped and uninhabited areas, had at least one chemical, and some as many as 162. Since many were designed to have biological activity, the scientists believe the potential for complex interactions warrants further study.

    Hexavalent Chromium Spill Reaching Lake Michigan

    Following an accident at U.S. Steel Midwest Plant in Portage, Indiana, an undisclosed amount of hexavalent chromium was discharged into a tributary of Lake Michigan.15

    This toxic metal was the focus of the biographical film, "Erin Brockovich," about a woman who investigated the discharge of this cancer causing chemical near a small town in California. Her data gathering on the deaths and disease in the area brought national attention to this chemical.

    Also called chromium-6, the chemical has found its way into two-thirds of the drinking water across the U.S. An analysis of federal water testing data16 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found hexavalent chromium at levels determined to be unsafe by public health officials.17

    Chromium-6 does occur naturally in the environment, but large amounts are also produced during manufacture of industrial projects, requiring costly disposal.

    Even in small amounts, this metal can cause birth defects, stomach cancer, skin burns and pneumonia. Even though it is classified as a carcinogen, there are no federal standards set for maximum exposure.18 In a statement, Brockovich said:19

    "Houston, we have a problem. More than 20 years ago, we learned that this dangerous chemical poisoned the tap water of California communities, and now these tests and EWG's report show that roughly 218 million Americans are being served drinking water polluted with potentially dangerous levels of this known carcinogen.

    But in that time the EPA hasn't set drinking water standards for any previously unregulated contaminant, and there are disturbing signs the agency may again do nothing about chromium-6. This is an abject failure by the EPA, including members of Congress charged with overseeing the agency, and every American should be outraged by this inaction."

    US Government Policies May Increase Your Risk

    While more than half the world is drinking water contaminated by pollution — whether animal or human waste, agricultural runoff or pharmaceutical products — proposed federal regulations would likely loosen standards and drive water and environmental pollution to even higher levels.

    In a recent sample of water taken from streams that feed the Iowa River, researchers found 63 percent had at least one neonicotinoid, a class of insecticide.20 More concerning were samples from local tap water and from water released at the treatment plant at the University of Iowa, which had three main neonicotinoids, demonstrating filtration was not effective.

    Moving forward, the risk of water pollution may only increase as past environmental protection regulations are rolled back under the new White House administration. Legislation has already been signed that ends a coal mining rule set in place under President Obama, in which waterways were protected from coal mining waste.21

    The Stream Protection Rule required mining companies to restore mined areas to their previous condition. Companies complained it was too expensive. It was just one of the campaign promises that came to fruition after the presidential election, likely to create more damage to the environment.22 Gina McCarthy,  EPA administrator under President Obama commented:23

    "I don't know why they've decided that our core values no longer include clean air and clean water. But that seems to be what this is about. It's executive orders that are threatening the safety of our drinking water for 117 million Americans."

    The changes to environmental policy of this administration make it highly likely water pollution, affecting both the health of the environment and the people drinking it, will only increase, triggering far more damage in the coming years than can reasonably be anticipated now.

    Can a Clay Pot Be the Answer?

    Water pollution and filtration in countries where people are forced to gather water from streams and wells increase the risk these sources are polluted with feces and other pathogenic contaminants. Water pollution in these areas often trigger diarrhea, which is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 5.24

    Simple, locally manufactured, ceramic filters, used for household filtering in developing countries, have been shown to reduce the number of children and adults suffering from pathogenic water contamination.25 The most widely implemented design is from a mission-based organization, Potters for Peace. Harvard graduates Kathy Ku and John Kye have also developed a ceramic filtering device as a for-profit business.26

    Using clay pots for filtration has several advantages and disadvantages.27 On the upside, the pots have proven to reduce the levels of bacteria and protozoa in the water. They are simple to use and have a long life if the filter remains unbroken. However, this type of filtration is not effective against viruses, may break over time and has a low flow rate, filtering between 1 and 3 liters per hour if the water is clear. If cloudy with sediment, the receptacles must be cleaned after each use.

    Although clay pots are an effective means of primary filtration when water treatment is unavailable,28 additional home filtration is often necessary, even when tap water is delivered to your home from wastewater treatment plants.

    Cut Unintended Intake of Drugs and Dangerous Chemicals at Home

    Many drugs and chemicals pass through water treatment plants, ending up in your home. In this video, I discuss how you can reduce your exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxins. It will require a global scale change to stop water pollution that is taking a heavy toll on health and the environment. But, in the meantime, you can make changes at home to protect yourself and your family.

    It is best to adopt the idea that your tap water is less than pure. One of the most comprehensive water testing kits I recommend is from National Testing Laboratories. To assure you drink and bathe in the least contaminated water possible, it is best to filter at the point of entry to your home and at the point of use, such as your sink or shower.

    Unfiltered water also exposes you to chlorine vapors, used to treat the water supply. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other governmental agencies report most homes have measurable levels of chloroform gas, courtesy of chlorine treated water. If you can afford only one filter, it is best to place one on your shower head, as you inhale aerosolized chlorine in the shower and absorb it through your skin. You can actually absorb three times more chemicals from showering or bathing than from oral intake.

    If you get your water from a municipal water supply and don't have a whole house filter, be sure to open up windows on opposing sides of your home to get cross ventilation. Keep the windows open for five to 10 minutes a day to remove chloroform gases. One of the best types of filters I've found uses a three-stage filtration process — a micron sediment pre-filter, a KDF water filter and a high-grade carbon water filter. This combination filters chlorine, disinfection byproducts and many other contaminants.

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  • Modern Agriculture Drives Hunger, Obesity and Disease While Simultaneously Threatening Food Chain and Worsening Water Crisis
    published on April 24th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    "Regenerative food, farming and land use can provide a solution to the health crisis, the water crisis, environmental degradation, climate change, rural poverty, hunger and war." ~ Ronnie Cummins, Founding Meeting of Regeneration International, June 9, 2015, Finca Luna Nueva, Costa Rica

    If you'd walked up to a farmer 100 years ago and told him farming would one day threaten life on Earth, he probably would have laughed in your face, saying such a thing simply isn't possible.

    Agriculture is necessary for food production, and therefore for life, the farmer would have said with firm conviction — and farming the land or raising cattle is not going to unduly harm anything or anyone.

    Today, however, such an impossible scenario is precisely what we're facing. Virtually every growing environmental and health problem can be traced back to modern food production. This includes but is not limited to:

    • Food insecurity and malnutrition amid mounting food waste
    • Rising obesity and chronic disease rates despite growing health care outlays
    • Diminishing fresh water supplies
    • Toxic agricultural chemicals polluting air, soil and waterways, thereby threatening the entire food chain from top to bottom
    • Disruption of normal climate and rainfall patterns

    The good news is there are viable answers to all of these problems that do not merely scratch at the surface, and the answers hinge on the widespread implementation of regenerative agriculture and decentralized food distribution.

    It's easy to forget that at one point, not so long ago, all food was organically grown in a way that supported the ecosystem and environment as a whole. This all changed in the 1940s when the Green Revolution took hold and industrial, chemical-dependent farming techniques quickly spread to become the norm.

    Industrial Farming Has Proven Itself a Failed Experiment

    Farming has sustained mankind for millennia. Industrial farming, on the other hand, has managed to create a series of unsustainable situations in less than 70 years, and evidence suggests we will not make it until the end of the century if we continue along the path of degenerative food and farming.

    Topsoil destruction, erosion and desertification are exacerbated by tilling, monocropping and not using cover crops. Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned that at the current rate of topsoil degradation, all the world's topsoil will be gone in less than 60 years.1

    At that point, it'll be "game over" because without topsoil you cannot grow food no matter how many chemicals you add to it. Closely related problems are the loss of soil fertility and biodiversity, which is directly related to the loss of natural carbon in the soil.

    An estimated 80 percent of soil carbon in heavily farmed areas has already been lost,2 due to destructive plowing, overgrazing and the use of soil-destructive, carbon-depleting chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    Industrial monocropping has also led to the loss of diversity. Seventy-five percent of the world's crop varieties have gone the way of the dinosaurs in the last 100 years, and another 20 percent of all plants worldwide are threatened with extinction.3

    Toxic contamination adds to the problem. According to studies by the Chinese government, 20 percent of arable land in China is now unusable due to pesticide contamination,4 and important crop pollinators such as butterfly and bee populations have collapsed, thanks to widespread pesticide application.5

    Modern agriculture also promotes water waste through use of flood irrigation, destruction of soil quality and poor crop choices.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 80 percent of U.S. consumptive water (and more than 90 percent in many Western states) is used for agricultural purposes6 and, worldwide, groundwater is being used up at a faster rate than it can be replenished.

    According to James Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the majority of our global groundwaters "are past sustainability tipping points,"7 which means it's only a matter of time until we run out of fresh water.

    Without food or drinkable water, the end of civilization as we know it is pretty well-assured. The question is will enough people have the foresight to change course?

    Industrial Food System Promotes Both Obesity and Malnourishment

    The industrialization and centralization of food production was done to increase farmers' capacity to grow more food at a lower cost. Unfortunately, a core principle was lost in this efficiency equation — that of food quality and nutrient density.

    Today, we have ample amounts of "good-looking" foods, thanks to genetic engineering and agricultural chemicals. What you don't see is the loss of nutrients. Tests reveal that the nutrient content of foods has dramatically declined since the introduction of mechanized farming in 1925.8

    As just one example, to receive the same amount of iron you used to get from one apple in 1950, by 1998 you had to eat 26 apples; today you have to eat 36, and this is a direct consequence of industrial farming techniques and use of chemicals that destroy soil quality by killing essential microbes.

    We now know that, just as the human gut microbiome plays integral roles in human health, so the soil microbiome influences nutrient uptake and plant health. Soil microbes even help regulate the invasion of pests.

    It's not surprising then that as nutrient density declined and toxic exposures via food increased, obesity and chronic disease rates have dramatically risen — so much so that obesity now threatens to overtake hunger as the No. 1 global health concern.

    Obesity Is Becoming Greater Health Concern Than Hunger

    In 1950, an estimated 700 million people were starving; obesity affected approximately 100 million, primarily in wealthy nations. These statistics have changed dramatically over the past six decades as the industrialization of agriculture has become the norm.

    By 2010, the world's hungry had grown to 800 million while the number of obese citizens ballooned to 500 million. Four years later, 641 million people were obese,9,10,11,12 and estimates suggest that by 2030, more than 1 billion people worldwide will fall into this category.

    This would not be happening were it not for the adoption and spread of processed foods as dietary staples.

    Along with excess body weight come a wide range of other health problems and associated health care costs. In the U.S., just eight obesity-related diseases account for 75 percent of health care costs.

    These diseases include type 2 diabetes — which now affects nearly 1 in 11 adults worldwide13 — non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.14 In fact, 1 in 5 American deaths is now associated with obesity.15

    The ramifications of poor diet and toxic exposures from food are perhaps most notable in the U.S., where for the first time in two decades, life expectancy has actually declined.16,17,18

    Remarkably, half of all Americans now struggle with some kind of chronic illness,19 and the cost of health care in the U.S. accounts for 17 percent of the gross domestic product.20 The direct and indirect annual cost of diseases attributed to obesity alone tops $1.4 trillion.21

    All of these statistics tie back to our food supply, starting with how food is grown. On the whole, there's really no way to reverse these disease rates without addressing agriculture and food production. Our very lives depend on it.

    Hunger Is the Result of Inadequate Food Distribution and Waste, Not Lack of Production

    While the chemical technology industry claims we cannot feed a growing population without industrialization, chemicals and genetically engineered seeds, few facts support this ideology.

    On the contrary, studies have repeatedly shown organic farming is more likely to succeed in feeding a population of 9 billion strong, especially during drought conditions.

    A recent report by two U.N. experts — Hilal Elver, the UN's special rapporteur on the right to food and Baskut Tuncak, the special rapporteur on toxics — also firmly refutes the notion that pesticides are essential to ensure sufficient amounts of food for a growing world population.22

    In fact, the report calls for a global treaty to phase out toxic chemicals and transition toward sustainable farming practices worldwide, to preserve and promote human and environmental health. According to Elver and Tuncak:23

    "The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading. In principle, there is adequate food to feed the world; inequitable production and distribution systems present major blockages that prevent those in need from accessing it …"

    Food waste is another facet of this inequitable system. It's been estimated that one-third24 to one-half25 of all the edible food in the world — as much as 2 billion tons' worth26 — is simply thrown away each year. In 2010, 133 billion pounds of food were wasted at the retail and consumer levels in the U.S. alone, with two-thirds of it attributed to household food waste.

    So, while 13 percent of American households struggle to obtain enough food,27 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. This is a problem that simply cannot be solved through increased use of pesticides, GMOs, animal drugs and intensive confinement factory farms.

    The fact that industrial farming and cheap food is not the answer becomes even more obvious when you consider that the poorest Americans actually have the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease.28 They're not suffering the effects of lack of food or starvation. They're suffering from obesity-related disorders resulting from cheap processed foods, devoid of much-needed nutrition — the only foods many of these people have access to and can afford.

    Solving Obesity and Hunger by Sharing Fresh Surplus

    While there are many solutions for reducing individual household waste, we really need to think bigger. We need to radically improve the supply channels between producers and consumers to ensure food gets equitably distributed, rather than thrown away somewhere along the way. We're not wanting for ideas here. It's just a matter of implementing them more widely.

    For example, Ample Harvest has created a novel and effective food bank distribution system for fresh produce. Billions of pounds of fresh foods are in fact available, but the conventional food bank distribution system does not allow those foods to enter the system. Instead, all that fresh nutritious food is tossed into urban landfills.

    Meanwhile, the poor end up eating mostly processed fare that promotes obesity and chronic disease. Ample Harvest connects farmers and home growers who have too much food with those who really need it by donating the produce directly to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. AmpleHarvest.org now has a database of nearly 8,000 participating food pantries across the U.S.

    The system is very efficient, and associated costs are a mere fraction of other national food programs. It's also universal in that it can work in any community, large or small. And it works with both home growers and larger farms. This is just one example showing that food insecurity can be inexpensively and relatively easily solved. But to do so, we need to step outside of the conventional distribution channels and create new ones.

    Regenerative Agriculture Is a Must for Food and Water Sustainability

    In addition to destroying soil and denaturing our food, industrial agriculture is also draining aquifers and polluting waterways across the globe, thereby threatening human survival in more ways than one. The frightening reality is we're running out of drinkable water and poisoning what little is left.

    One-third of the largest groundwater aquifers are already nearing depletion,29 with three of the most stressed aquifers being located in areas where political tensions run high as it is.30 To give you an idea of how quickly groundwater is being depleted, consider what's happening in the High Plains Aquifer (also known as the Ogallala) in the American Midwest.

    Here, the water level has been dropping by an average of 6 feet per year, while the natural recharge rate is 1 inch or less.31 Once this aquifer is depleted — and many wells have already run dry in the area — 20 percent of the U.S. corn, wheat and cattle output will be lost due to lack of irrigation and water for the animals.

    The average American will feel the effects of aquifer depletion directly as well, because with scarcity comes price hikes. According to a report32 from Michigan State University, published earlier this year, if water prices continue to rise at the current rate, five years from now nearly 36 percent of Americans may be unable to afford their monthly water bill.

    Corporate Agribusiness Has Become the No. 1 Water Polluter

    Precious water sources are also threatened by pollution from large-scale monocrop farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).33 According to a report34 by Environment America, corporate agribusiness is "one of the biggest threats to America's waterways." Tyson Foods Inc. was deemed among the worst, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014.

    Researchers have warned that many lakes around the world are now at grave risk from fertilizer runoff that feeds harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria),35,36 and once established, it's far more difficult to get rid of than previously thought. The answer, according to the authors of this study, is better land-use management that addresses fertilizer runoff. Dramatic reductions in fertilizer use are also recommended.

    Indeed, the long-term solution to many of our water quality and water scarcity issues is to phase out the use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers and soil additives, and to grow crops and raise food animals in such a way that the farm contributes to the overall health and balance of the environment rather than polluting it and creating a dysfunctional ecosystem.

    Addressing Three Key Food Production Areas Can Help Solve Multiple Environmental Crises

    Three key areas of food production that can help solve many of the environmental crises currently facing us are:

    1. Regenerative agriculture (food crops)
    2. Regenerative grazing (livestock)
    3. Restorative fishing (seafood)

    As noted in my interviews with a number of sustainable farming pioneers and ecological experts over the past few years, the separation of livestock from crop farming is a significant part of the problem. This was supposedly done to increase efficiency and reduce costs, but the hidden costs of this segregation are quite enormous.

    Our modern agricultural system, which focuses on monocropping and CAFOs as two separate food streams, puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the actual burning of fossil fuels, contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all vehicles in the U.S. combined, turns farmland into desert and reduces organic matter in soil, thereby reducing rainfall and worsening droughts. We'll take a closer look at all of these issues in subsequent sections.

    Industrial Agriculture Prevents Critical Carbon Sequestration

    Carbon management — pulling carbon out of the air and sequestering it into the soil — is a critical aspect of environmental health and the growing of food. Scientists have also noted the importance of carbon sequestration for the reversal of climate change.37 Through their leaves, plants use sunlight (photosynthesis) to remove carbon dioxide from the air, converting it into a carbon fuel used to stimulate and promote their own growth.

    Up to 40 percent of that carbon fuel also goes to the roots of the plant, where it's leaked out into the soil. There, it becomes food for soil microorganisms. So, the plant nourishes the soil as much as the soil nourishes the plant. As mentioned earlier, we've already lost up to 80 percent of the soil carbon in heavily farmed areas — a fact that really highlights the urgent need to improve carbon sequestration.38

    A key strategy to sequester carbon in soil is to use cover crops. In other words, soil should never be left exposed, as without root systems holding the soil in place, soil erosion speeds up. Mixed grasses also nourish the soil microbiome, which need the plant interaction. Nature abhors monoculture. In 1 square foot of pristine prairie land, you'll find about 140 different plants, and this is the type of natural biodiversity regenerative farmers aim to mimic. As noted by Regeneration International:39

    "Storing carbon in the soil and maintaining perennial living soil cover (trees, pasture, grazing animals …) brings a host of benefits, including: increased soil fertility and biological activity, improved wildlife and pollinator habitat, less vulnerability to disease, increased crop yield, increased drought and flood resilience and increased water-holding and filtration capacity."

    Fertilizers Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in More Ways Than One

    Scientists have also declared farming and fertilizers as the No. 1 cause of particulate matter air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe today, specifically the nitrogen component of fertilizers.40,41 Industrial food and farming also release dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

    Interestingly, while fertilizer mining operations produce their share of greenhouse gases42 — yet another environmental hazard I've not touched on here, but have written about in previous articles — most of these emissions actually occur upon application. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, 1 out of every 100 kilos (220 pounds) of nitrogen fertilizer applied to farm land ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), an ozone-depleting greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2.43

    In 2014, the amount of N2O created by nitrogen fertilizer spread on American farmland was equal to one-third of the N2O released by all cars and trucks in the U.S. More recent research suggests the real number may be three to five times higher than that.

    Grazing Animals Are an Important Part of Regenerative Agriculture

    By preventing carbon sequestration, industrial farming contributes to desertification — turning land into desert — which cannot support plant life and photosynthesis, thereby worsening atmospheric CO2 levels. According to Allan Savory, an African ecologist, dramatically increasing the number of grazing livestock is really the only thing that can successfully reverse both desertification and rising CO2.44,45

    An article46 by Pure Advantage notes how "there is no current or envisioned technology that can simultaneously sequester carbon, restore biodiversity and feed people. But livestock can …" Indeed, Gabe Brown, a regenerative land management pioneer, discussed this in depth in our 2014 interview, covered in "How to Regenerate Soil Using Cover Crops and Regenerative Land Management."

    As explained in Peter Byck's short film, "One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts," farm animals form symbiotic relationships where one species helps keep parasites from overwhelming another. It is the separation of crops and animals into two distinctly different farming processes that has led to animal waste becoming a massive source of toxic pollution rather than a valuable part of the ecological cycle.

    The success of Will Harris' grass fed ranching operation in Georgia (detailed in my July, 2016 interview with him),47 and thousands of other ranches across the U.S. and the world, also testify to the regenerative power of grazing animals. The percentage of organic matter in soil is a good indicator of quality, and Harris has been able to increase organic matter in his soil from less than 0.5 percent to as much as 5 percent in a 20-year period.

    Not only does increasing organic matter in soil and pastures produce higher-quality produce, meat and dairy, it also saves water in two ways: First, by retaining more rain water and reducing irrigation needs; and second, by encouraging rainfall and preventing extended droughts. In fact, satellite data reveals plant-soil evapotranspiration may exert a far greater influence on weather and rainfall patterns than previously thought.48

    The more organic matter there is in the soil, the more moisture is captured and released back into the atmosphere through plant transpiration. Remarkably, for each 1 percent increase in organic matter, each acre of soil can retain another 20,000 gallons of water.

    Raising organic soil matter by 1 percent in Oklahoma alone would allow the soil there to retain an additional 894 billion gallons more water after each rainfall of 1 inch or more! As noted by Beef Producer, which reported the satellite findings:49

    "This is exciting because it strongly suggests grazing and farming that builds soil is not only directly beneficial to those practicing it for higher yields, lower inputs, more profit and more drought resiliency, it also appears it helps make more rain for everybody."

    Land Rehabilitation Projects Confirm Even Large-Scale Environmental Devastation Can Be Reversed

    Based on the current state of affairs, it's easy to see the situation as hopeless. However, there is good news. Land rehabilitation projects — both by private farmers and larger government-sponsored endeavors such as the Chinese Loess Plateau regeneration project — unequivocally confirms that we can reverse even severe and large-scale environmental destruction. 

    The Loess Plateau was until recently one of the poorest regions of China, where centuries of agriculture had eroded once-fertile soils into a desert-like landscape, unable to support plant growth. Similar situations exist all over the world. The documentary above features soil scientist John D. Liu of the Environmental Education Media Project, who has followed the Loess Plateau regeneration project for over 15 years.

    Today, the once barren landscape is again filled with thriving forests, and farmers are again producing abundant amounts of food. This just goes to show that, given a fair chance, the entire ecosystem can regenerate itself, and with the appropriate interventions, it can do so faster than would occur naturally. This, truly, is the beauty of regenerative agriculture. As so eloquently summarized by Tim LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute:50

    "Regenerative agriculture is an approach to food and farming systems that works with nature's rhythms in ways to feed our growing population, to regenerate topsoil, to enhance biodiversity and to ensure life now and long into the future. Specifically,regenerative agriculture regenerates or builds fertile topsoil, primarily through the practices that increase soil organic matter and soil carbon.

    This essential soil nutrient not only aids in increasing soil biota diversity and health, but increases biodiversity both above and below the soil surface, while increasing water holding capacity, sequestering carbon thus drawing down climate damaging levels of CO, and improves soil structure to reverse civilization threatening human caused soil loss."

    Restoring grasslands is of particular significance, as evidenced by researchers comparing the effect of naturally restored forest versus grassland on carbon sequestration in the Loess Plateau.51 According to the authors, "[N]aturally restored grassland would be a more effective vegetation type for [soil organic carbon] sequestration due to higher carbon input from roots …"

    Regenerative Agriculture Builds Sustainable Economies Too

    The good news doesn't end there. While profitability is commonly cited as a determining factor for why farmers "cannot" farm organically anymore, research refutes such scaremongering. One such study52,53 found organic farmers earn anywhere from 22 to 35 percent more than their industrial counterparts.

    What's more, regenerative agriculture can also help create regenerative economies based on values and principles that go far beyond merely making money,54 thereby benefiting society in practical ways beside a cleaner, healthier environment and more nutritious, less toxic food.

    In a 2015 article, John Fullerton, founder and president of Capital Institute, presented the organization's views on regenerative capitalism, which is built on universal principles of health and wholeness. "We have identified eight key, interconnected principles that underlie systemic health," he writes. These eight principles, which he proposes be part of a regenerative economic system, include:

    Right relationship: Economy based on the understanding that damage to any single part ripples outward to damage every other part of the system

    Holistic wealth: The understanding that true wealth is more than just money. It can also be measured in wellbeing of the whole and broadly shared prosperity

    Innovation, adaptation, responsiveness

    Empowered participation

    Seeking balance: "A regenerative economy seeks to balance: efficiency and resilience; collaboration and competition; diversity and coherence; and small, mediu and large organizations and needs.

    It runs directly against the (short term) "optimize" ideology that is at the root of modern financial logic"

    "Edge effect" abundance: "Creativity and abundance flourish synergistically at the "edges" of systems … For example, there is an abundance of interdependent life in salt marshes where a river meets the ocean …

    At those edges the opportunities for innovation and cross-fertilization are the greatest"

    Robust circulatory flow of money, information, resources, goods and services

    Honoring community and place: "A regenerative economy nurtures healthy and resilient communities and regions, each one uniquely informed by the essence of its individual history and place"

    How to Affect Change, Seven Days a Week

    A growing number of home owners are now responding to the call for cleaner, healthier foods by converting their front and backyards into edible landscaping using organic and regenerative methods.

    But even if you're not growing your own foods, you can still help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more regenerative systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, local produce over "cheap" conventional varieties commonly sold in larger grocery chains. Remember to choose organic, grass fed beef, poultry and dairy, in addition to organic produce. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate 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; and born and raised on American family farms.


    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.


    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.


    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 Fund55 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.56 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

    For more information on Regenerative food, farming and land use, visit the website of Regeneration International.

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  • Study Shows Slashing Pesticides Won't Hurt Production
    published on April 24th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    "The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health," according to recent research published in Nature Plants,1 and I couldn't agree more.

    Even many farmers are interested in cutting their usage, especially in the midst of growing lawsuits alleging that the most commonly used herbicide, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), may be causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in farmers.

    In some ways the cards are stacked against them, however, as the people who often advise farmers on pesticide usage are agrochemical company employees, working on commission. Reducing pesticide usage is not in their, or the companies', best financial interest, which only encourages overuse.

    Without knowledge of how to reduce pesticide usage, and how it might affect yields, many farmers are reluctant to try.

    The Nature Plants study is a major step forward, however, as it found most farmers can reduce their pesticide usage without decreasing their productivity and profits — and in some cases the move may even increase them.

    Most Farmers Could Reduce Pesticide Use by 42 Percent

    In a study of nearly 1,000 French farms, there was no conflict seen between low pesticide use and high productivity and profitability in 77 percent of the farms.

    Further, the researchers found 59 percent of them could cut pesticide usage by 42 percent without harming their production. Forty percent of these farms would even improve their production as a result.2 According to the study:3

    "This corresponded to an average reduction of 37, 47 and 60 [percent] of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, respectively … Our results demonstrate that pesticide reduction is already accessible to farmers in most production situations."

    The findings are eye-opening, especially since the pesticide industry has long maintained that their products are necessary to feed the world. Worldwide, an estimated 7.7 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and that number is steadily increasing.4

    Crop rotation, mechanical weeding and other non-chemical forms of pest control were mentioned as ways that farmers could successfully lessen pesticide use. The major barrier at this time appears to be education. Study co-author Nicolas Munier-Jolain of France's National Institute for Agricultural Research told The Guardian:5

    "If you want real reduction in pesticide use, give the farmers the information about how to replace them …

    This is absolutely not the case at the moment. A large proportion of advice is provided by organizations that are both selling the pesticides and collecting the crops. I am not sure the main concern of these organizations is to reduce the amount of pesticide used."

    Pesticide-Treated Seeds Offer No Significant Gains

    Agricultural pesticides come in many forms. While many people think of them as the type sprayed onto crops after planting, seeds are often treated as well. The majority of soybean, corn, canola and sunflower seeds planted in the U.S. are pre-coated with neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics).

    Neonics persist and accumulate in soils, and since they're water-soluble they leach into waterways where other types of wildlife may be affected.

    Yet, according to an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), treating soybean seeds with neonicotinoids provides no significant financial or agricultural benefits for farmers.6

    The researchers also noted there are several other foliar insecticides available that can combat pests as effectively as neonicotinoid seed treatments, with fewer risks.

    Other studies suggest reducing the use of pesticides may actually reduce crop losses.7 The reason for this is because neonic-coated seeds harm beneficial insects that help kill pests naturally,8 thereby making any infestation far worse than it needs to be.

    According to other research, ecologically-based farming that helps kill soybean aphids without pesticides could save farmers in four states (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin)nearly $240 million in losses each year.9 But despite such findings, farmers have very limited ability to avoid neonic-treated seeds.

    Fungal Pesticides Offer a Non-Chemical Alternative

    Biopesticides, which are those derived from natural alternatives, are projected to grow at a faster pace than chemical pesticides in the coming years. Among them are fungal-based pesticides, which are made from parasitic fungi that infect insects, ultimately killing them.

    So-called entomopathogenic fungi, which can kill insects, collectively make up about 1,000 species — enough to target virtually every agricultural pest, according to University of Maryland entomologist Raymond St. Leger.10

    Unlike synthetic pesticides, many of which are losing effectiveness due to resistance, fungi interact with pests in a way that makes the development of resistance unlikely. Further, as NPR reported, the risks, if any, are minimal:11

    "Nemat Keyhani, a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, says fungus is compatible with organic farming, harmless to vertebrates — like humans, birds, dogs and cattle — and has a low environmental impact."

    Currently, biopesticides cost more than synthetics, take longer to work and must be applied more often. They can also be environmentally sensitive, losing effectiveness at certain temperatures or humidity levels, which means it may be some time before they push synthetics out of the market.

    However, as they grow in popularity, new biopesticides may be developed that tackle some of these issues, making them more attractive to farmers. Already, NPR noted, fungus-based pesticides exist that can do things synthetic pesticides could only dream of.

    "[The] fungus — Metarhizium, or the green muscardine fungus — is frequently used in the field, shielding crops from beetle grubs, wireworm, corn root worms and countless other insects.

    One variant is now being used to develop biopesticides … that can cause a mushroom to grow from a pest's dead body to distribute spores that warn other insects."12

    Research Highlights Glyphosate Exposure Risks for Pregnant Women

    If there were only one major reason to cut back on pesticide usage, it would be to protect future generations. Not only do these chemicals threaten the Earth as we know it, but they pose a direct risk to developing babies.

    In research presented at a 2017 Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) conference in Washington, D.C., it was demonstrated that women exposed to higher glyphosate levels during pregnancy had babies born earlier and with lower adjusted birth weights.

    What's more, the chemical was detected in more than 90 percent of the mothers in the study. Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook said:13

    "This herbicide is practically being tested on newborn children today. Preterm birth and small size may lead to serious health problems later in life, from IQ loss to greater risk of serious diseases, and the outcomes may be even more severe for the following generation.

    These exposures have to stop in order to protect the health of American children."

    Glyphosate has made headlines recently because it's the most used agricultural chemical in history and also because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined it is a probable carcinogen.

    Further, figuring out just how much glyphosate the average person may be exposed to in a day is proving to be an overwhelming task because it's showing up just about everywhere, from Cheerios to coffee creamer.

    Glyphosate Residue Found in 30 Percent of Canadian Foods

    While the U.S. government has yet to test popular foods for this ubiquitous chemical, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has, revealing that nearly 30 percent of the more than 3,000 foods they tested contain glyphosate.14 This included nearly 37 percent of grain products, 47 percent of bean/pea/lentil products, and more than 30 percent of infant food and cereal. Even 7 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables contained the residues.

    Eating non-organic GE foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body.15 However, even non-GE foods can contain high levels of glyphosate, which are likely the result of the common practice of using the herbicide as a desiccant shortly before harvest.

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

    In some cases, non-GE foods may be even more contaminated with glyphosate than GE crops, because they're being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.

    Monsanto Sued for Misleading Labeling

    Monsanto has long maintained that glyphosate is safe, but it's been added to California's Proposition 65 list of substances that can cause cancer. In addition, it's come out that Monsanto secretly collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to downplay reports that glyphosate causes cancer.

    More than 700 cases have been filed against Monsanto related to Roundup health risks, but this is expected to grow into the thousands in the months to come.16 Meanwhile, the non-profit consumer groups Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that Roundup's labeling is misleading and deceptive.

    Part of the suit relates to Monsanto's language that Roundup targets an "enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets" because, according to the lawsuit, the enzyme is found in people and pets. The suit alleges:17

    "Monsanto aggressively markets Roundup as safe for humans and animals, despite newer studies indicating that glyphosate may be carcinogenic and affect human and animal cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems.

    Reasonable consumers must and do rely on Monsanto to report honestly Roundup's effects on humans and animals and whether the enzyme it targets is found in people and pets. No reasonable consumer seeing these representations would expect that Roundup targets a bacterial enzyme that is found in humans and animals and that affects their immune health."

    Soil Health Is Key to Feeding the World

    It's clear that pesticides are not the answer to solving world hunger; they're a contributor to environmental and human health demise. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has offered incentives for farmers to plant corn for use in ethanol, a non-food crop that may be worse than oil as a fuel source.

    Not only that, but in North Dakota, where many farmers swapped their wheat crops for corn to produce ethanol, the soil is becoming LESS fertile as a result. Yale Climate Connections spoke with Emeric Erickson, a North Dakota farmer, who explained that spring wheat establishes quickly and shades the soil, trapping moisture.18

    Corn crops, on the other hand, are slow to become established, which means the soil gets a lot more direct sunlight that evaporates away the moisture, leaving behind salts from the groundwater. "The salty soil left behind is not as fertile," Erickson says, which suggests, Yale notes, "Farmers must choose between short-term profit and long-term soil health [as] an unintended consequence of the ethanol boom."

    Planting a variety of crops is key to restoring soil health and ultimately feeding the world, as is reducing pesticide usage. The featured study proves this can be done without harming profits and yields, but pesticide makers certainly don't want this news to get out. Fortunately, some farmers are moving toward regenerative, soil-friendly agriculture, anyway, with promising results.

    According to David Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington and author of "Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life":19

    "It makes no sense to continue incentivizing conventional practices that degrade soil fertility. We must begin supporting and rewarding farmers who adopt regenerative practices. Once we see through myths of modern agriculture, practices that build soil health become the lens through which to assess strategies for feeding us all over the long haul.

    … I now see adopting farming practices that build soil health as the key to a stable and resilient agriculture. And [some] farmers [have already] cracked this code, adapting no-till methods, cover cropping and complex rotations to their particular soil, environmental and socioeconomic conditions."

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  • Smithfield Is Engineering Pigs for Use in Human Transplants
    published on April 24th, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, is branching out from ham and bacon toward the business of organ transplantation. The CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) giant has even created a new bioscience unit for this purpose, in the hopes of growing pig organs that could one day be transplanted into humans.1

    In 2013, Smithfield was bought by WH Group (formerly known as Shaunghui), the largest meat processing company in China.2 At $7.1 billion — 30 percent above its estimated market value — it was the largest-ever Chinese buyout of an American company.

    Smithfield is now part of a public-private tissue engineering consortium, along with pharmaceutical and other health care companies, that's being funded via an $80 million U.S. Department of Defense grant.3

    The move isn't surprising. Reuters reported that "materials" from 16 million Smithfield pigs, including pancreases, intestinal membrane and thyroid glands, are sent for medical uses every year.

    The market for such products, as well as pork byproducts used for pet food and other non-food purposes, is more than $100 billion in the U.S. alone.4 Courtney Stanton, VP of Smithfield Bioscience, told Business Insider, just how they plan to cash in on the less popular (food wise) pig parts:5

    "First and foremost, we are a food company … Part of that responsibility is making sure we utilize the entire animal, and minimize waste. There are many parts of the animal which are not typically eaten.

    However, we have found valuable uses for these parts such as supplying them to the medical community."

    Are Pig-Human Organ Transplants Coming?

    It hasn't happened yet, but the research is moving this way. One of the hurdles is that the organs could transmit viruses from pigs to people, but this has been somewhat tackled via technology like the gene-editing tool CRISPR, to "delete" the virus genes. There's also a risk that the pig organs could be rejected in humans.

    Other companies in the market, which come from the biotech industry, have bred pigs with human genes added to their livers, kidneys and hearts.6

    Earlier this year, researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, made history by creating a human-pig hybrid, a task achieved by injecting days-old pig embryos with human pluripotent stem cells.7 Such cells, like embryonic stem cells, are able to divide indefinitely and become any type of cell in the body.

    The human-pig embryos were then transferred into adult pigs and allowed to grow for up to four weeks, before they were "removed and analyzed."8 The ability to grow human organs in pigs is undoubtedly an intriguing area of research, especially as about 76,000 Americans sit in wait of healthy organs for transplant.9

    But the reality is that these GMO technologies could have unforeseen and devastating consequences. "The work inevitably raises the specter of intelligent animals with humanized brains and also the potential for bizarre hybrid creatures to be accidentally released into the wild," The Guardian noted.10

    Indeed, no one knows if inserting human cells into non-human animal embryos might lead to the creation of non-human animals with human consciousness. For Smithfield, however, ethical considerations don't appear to be top of mind.

    The company is one of four multibillion-dollar transnational companies — Tyson, JBS and Cargill are the others — that produce about 85 percent of U.S. CAFO meat.

    As Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association put it, "[W]hat the Big Four fear … is the thought of consumers waking up to the horrors of factory farms, and the filthy, contaminated meat that comes out of these animal prisons."

    North Carolina's Pig CAFOs Produce 10 Billion Gallons of Fecal Waste Annually

    North Carolina is the second biggest pork-producing state, which means it's home to more pig CAFOs than average. Smithfield owns most of them in the state.11 Some CAFOs treat animal feces in open-air lagoons and dispose of the waste by spraying it onto nearby fields.

    The creation of new CAFO lagoons, and the spray systems, were banned in 2007, but older farms were allowed to continue their use. The term "lagoon" is a misnomer, by the way.

    Cesspool would be more accurate, as CAFOs do not treat the animal feces in any way. They simply add it to the often-unlined lagoons until they figure out where they can spray it.

    In the meantime, the liquefied waste often leaches into groundwater and wells, poisoning drinking water. When it's sprayed onto fields, it often runs off into waterways, where the excess nutrients lead to algae overgrowth that depletes the water of oxygen and kills fish and other marine life.12

    It's hard to imagine the magnitude of waste being produced by Smithfield's North Carolina CAFOs, but this may help — the state's pig CAFOs alone produce nearly 10 billion gallons of fecal waste annually, which is enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to an analysis of maps and data of the state's CAFOs by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).13

    Manure spills can and do happen, both from hog and other animal CAFOs. Earlier this month, for instance, a staggering 190,000 gallons of waste spilled from an above-ground storage tank at Tony Silveira Dairy in Tillamook, Oregon, because of a broken valve.

    Tillamook Bay, which is home to several commercial oyster growers, was closed to shellfish harvesting as a result.14

    CAFOs Are Knowingly Placed in Flood-Prone Hurricane Regions, Increasing Risks

    Some North Carolina CAFOs face a unique threat that the others don't: hurricanes. Many pigs drown in confinement when flooding occurs, since many of the CAFOs are knowingly placed in flood-prone areas.

    Aside from the ethical ramifications, there is also the added issue of how to dispose of millions of decaying and likely disease-ridden carcasses.

    The year of Hurricane Floyd, eastern North Carolina experienced a "large increase" in visits to health services for intestinal infections in counties with high concentrations of pig farming that were affected by the hurricane.15 Even a splash of floodwater on your face or open cut could be enough to cause infection.

    Floodwaters from hurricanes can cause the already dangerous lagoons (which emit toxic fumes and often leach toxins into groundwater) to overflow, allowing tons of untreated animal feces to flood the area.

    This isn't only theoretical; it's already happened in 1996 following Hurricane Fran, in 1998 following Hurricane Bonnie, in 1999 following Hurricane Floyd, practically every year in many locations — including in 2016 following Hurricane Matthew.

    It's not only Smithfield that's guilty of these environmental and ethical affronts — other CAFOs are also culpable — but Smithfield is the only one of late that's getting into the business of human organ transplantation, where ethics should be held in the highest regard.

    If you want to see what a Smithfield CAFO looks like, watch the video above. In the featured clip, Mark Devries, who's been investigating the environmental effects of CAFOs for years, flies a drone over one of Smithfield's CAFOs.

    Several warehouse-style buildings are lined up next to a giant open air cesspool the size of four football fields, filled with the excrement from the thousands of pigs housed in the buildings.

    Xenotransplantation Coming in 2017?

    Xenotransplantation, or cross-species organ transplants, could occur as early as 2017, as part of a clinical trial, according to Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church. Church formed a company called eGenesis Bio that is developing "humanized pigs" in order for their organs to be transplanted into humans without being rejected. The trial would involve people who are too sick to receive human organ transplants.

    Speaking to Reuters, Church said Smithfield would be a welcome addition to this emerging market. "Even though we've got companies like eGenesis that would make the first pigs, you still need someone who will breed them and do it to scale," he said.16 Unfortunately, raising a large amount of pigs at little cost is what Smithfield knows how to do best.

    The Department of Defense-funded coalition, meanwhile, which Smithfield is also a part of, says its goal is to develop "next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells, tissues and organs for wounded service members."17

    If organs can one day be grown inside animals, we're then faced with the realities of whether this — raising animals for the sole purpose of organ harvesting — can and should be done, ethically speaking. It falls into the realm of research moving full-steam ahead before we've adequately stopped to consider whether we should move forward at all. The same might be said for raising animals in CAFOs.

    For Now, You Can Carefully Consider Where You Get Your Food

    The era of food companies merging with biotechnology is only just beginning. Genetically engineered (GE) salmon has already been approved, paving the way for more GE animals to emerge.

    We've also seen GE "pharmaceutical" corn used in an experimental trial for hepatitis B vaccine (grown in an environmentally sensitive area along California's central coast, just 100 feet from a critical habitat for threatened wildlife species, no less). Smithfield's move into pig-to-person organ transplants is not a huge leap, but it's one that further blurs the line between farmers and corporate machines.

    For now, you can take a precautionary stance by consciously considering where your next meal will come from. You vote three times a day when you choose the foods for your meals. Will you vote for the system that is systematically destroying your health, animal welfare and the planet — or will you support those who are changing the world for the better, one meal at a time?

    There are basically two different models of food production today, and there's growing conflict between them. The first, and most prevalent, is the CAFO model that takes a very mechanistic view toward life, whereas the other — the local, sustainable farm model — has a biological and holistic view.

    I encourage you to support the small family farms in your area that respect the laws of nature and use the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat to create synergistic, self-supporting, non-polluting and GMO-free ecosystems. Whereas industrial agriculturists want to hide their practices from you, traditional farmers will welcome you onto their land, as they have nothing to hide.

    Whether you do so for ethical, environmental or health reasons — or all of the above — the closer you can get to nature the better. You'll want to get your meat, chickens and eggs from smaller community farms with free-ranging, pastured animals, organically fed and locally marketed. This is the way food has been raised and distributed for centuries, before it was corrupted by politics, corporate greed and the blaring arrogance of the industrial food industry.

    You can do this not only by visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also by taking part in farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs. The following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner.

    wher eto buy locally grown food

    >>>>> Click Here <<<<<

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  • Burning Fat for Fuel Increases Quality and Quantity of Life
    published on April 23rd, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Humans suffer more chronic and debilitating diseases today than ever before; more than half of all Americans struggle with chronic illness, and 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. are obesity-related. These discouraging statistics are largely the result of an inappropriate diet.

    Most of us eat far too much sugar and grains, and far too little healthy fat. Many also eat too much protein, and most of it of poor quality processed food to boot.  Unfortunately, the notion that glucose is the preferred fuel for your body is a pervasive one.

    Everyone from diabetics to top athletes are advised to make sure they eat "enough" carbs to keep their systems from crashing. This misguided advice is at the heart of many of our current health failures. It's also a driving factor in our diabetes, heart disease and cancer epidemics.

    Dietary fats are actually the preferred fuel of human metabolism, and this can be traced back to our evolutionary roots. One of the keys to long-term weight management and good health is healthy mitochondrial function, and for that you need to get your net carb, protein and fat ratios correct.

    This is the focus of my latest book, "Fat for Fuel." It's by far the most important book I've ever written, and the one I've poured the most heart and soul into because I believe this information has the power to reverse the cancer epidemic and save countless lives.

    Shipments of "Fat for Fuel" will begin on May 16. Reserving your copy now will entitle you to six free bonuses. Preordering will also help push the book onto the best seller list, which will go a long way toward informing and educating others.

    >>>>> Click Here <<<<<

    How to Improve Mitochondrial Function Through Diet

    To improve your mitochondrial function through diet, the key is to eat in such a way that your body is able to burn fat as its primary fuel rather than sugars. Ketogenic diets are very effective for this, as is intermittent fasting and longer water fasts for those who are overweight.

    An important yet rarely discussed facet of nutritional ketosis that I explain in "Fat for Fuel" is feast-and-famine cycling. The reason for this has to do with the fact that continuous, long-term nutritional ketosis can actually be counterproductive.

    Long-term uninterrupted use of a ketogenic diet can trigger a rise in blood sugar by driving your insulin level too low. This paradoxical situation can arise because the primary function of insulin is not to drive sugar into the cell, but to suppress the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).

    If your blood sugar is high due to chronically and excessively low insulin, eating a piece of fruit or other sugar-containing food will actually lower your blood sugar rather than raise it.

    All of this can be avoided by cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis, basically going through a one-day-per-week fast and one or two days a week of feasting, where you eat double or quadruple the amount of net carbs.

    Your body is designed to have the metabolic flexibility to use both glucose and fat for fuel. The problem is, most people lack the ability to burn fat. This metabolic inflexibility is the direct result of eating a high-carb diet for a long period of time.

    As a result, they struggle with weight issues and poor health. Even if they are not overweight they may be "skinny fat" with loads of excess dangerous visceral body fat. Feast-and-famine cycling helps reestablish the metabolic flexibility to burn fat. Another important dietary factor is avoiding late-night eating.

    Feeding your body at a time when it needs the least amount of energy will simply result in cellular damage due to the excess production of free radicals. For this reason, I often suggest limiting your eating to breakfast and lunch — a "Peak Fasting" strategy that allows you to fast for 16 or more hours each day.

    Having the Metabolic Flexibility to Burn Fat for Fuel Is Key for Optimal Health

    When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

    This is why being an efficient fat burner is so crucial for optimal health. Ketones also mimic the life span extending properties of calorie restriction (fasting), which includes improved glucose metabolism and reduced inflammation. As noted in a recent study1 on this topic:

    "The extension of life span by caloric restriction has been studied across species from yeast and Caenorhabditis elegans to primates … Here, we propose that the life expansion produced by caloric restriction can be duplicated by the metabolic changes induced by ketosis …

    [E]xtension of life span results from decreased signaling through the insulin/insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling (IIS) pathway … An effective method for combating free radical damage occurs through the metabolism of ketone bodies …

    A dietary ketone ester also decreases circulating glucose and insulin leading to decreased IIS … [K]etosis results in transcription of the enzymes of the antioxidant pathways.

    In addition, the metabolism of ketone bodies results in a more negative redox potential of the NADP antioxidant system, which is a terminal destructor of oxygen free radicals."

    Good Fats Improve Glucose Metabolism and Reduce Inflammation

    The importance of good fats is also evidenced in another recent study,2 which shows animal-based omega-3 fats reduce the autoimmune responses associated with type 1 diabetes (aka insulin-dependent diabetes), an autoimmune disorder in which your body attacks and destroys the beta cells responsible for creating insulin.

    Here, omega-3s were actually found to help regenerate these beta cells in non-obese mice with type 1 diabetes, significantly improving glucose metabolism and lowering inflammatory markers, decreasing the overall incidence of the disease. As reported by Medical News Today:3

    "Both nutritional supplementation and genetic therapy normalized blood sugar and insulin levels for a minimum of 182 days, stopped the development of autoimmunity, blocked the lymphocytes from entering the regenerated islets in the pancreas, and drastically increased the levels of beta cell markers.

    These results suggest that omega-3 PUFAs may serve as a new therapy for type 1 diabetes."

    Fasting Also Helps Regenerate the Diabetic Pancreas

    Other recent research shows that fasting can have a similar influence, actually triggering the regeneration of the pancreas in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.4 As reported by the BBC:5

    "In the experiments, mice were put on a modified form of the "fasting-mimicking diet." It is like the human form of the diet when people spend five days on a low-calorie, low-protein, low-carbohydrate but high unsaturated-fat diet … with around 800 to 1,100 calories a day.

    Then they have 25 days eating what they want — so overall it mimics periods of feast and famine. [A]nimal experiments showed the diet regenerated a special type of cell in the pancreas called a beta cell. These are the cells that detect sugar in the blood and release the hormone insulin if it gets too high.

    Dr. Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California, said: 'Our conclusion is that by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back — by starving them and then feeding them again — the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that's no longer functioning.'"

    Fasting May Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

    Another researcher specializing in fasting is diabetes expert Dr. Roy Taylor. In a recent calorie restriction trial, type 2 diabetics ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks. All were disease-free by the end of their fast. Three months later, after returning to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants were still disease-free. Taylor's team is now testing this type of fasting regimen on a much larger group of 300 people with type 2 diabetes. As reported by The Guardian:6

    "… Taylor, who leads the group, thinks that fasting is beneficial because it gets rid of dangerous fat in and around your organs, including two that are important in sugar control — the pancreas and the liver … 'If you have fat around these organs it clogs up the way they work and your body can't control its blood sugars,' says Taylor.

    After about 12 hours of fasting, he says, the body uses up all the glycogen in the liver, its go-to source of energy, and starts to dip into its fat deposits. 'The first type of fat to go is that dangerous fat around the organs, freeing them up to do their job properly.' He stresses that people with diabetes should not fast without consulting their doctor — a combination of insulin drugs and fasting can be lethal."

    Intermittent Fasting Promotes Health and Longevity

    Longo's team has also looked at the health effects of a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) in humans. One hundred participants did three cycles of FMD, which involves semi-fasting for five days each month. The FMD diet is low in calories, sugars and protein, but high in healthy unsaturated fats. After three months, the participants had:7

    • Lost an average of 7.5 pounds and had reduced visceral fat and waist circumference
    • Lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone linked to cancer and aging
    • Lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker
    • Lower blood pressure

    Sports medicine doctor and fitness guru Dr. Gabe Mirkin also recently wrote an article in The Epoch Times8 describing different intermittent fasting regimens, and how intermittent fasting has benefited his and his wife's health. For starters, his wife, Diana, lost 15 pounds in six weeks, and Gabe lost 30 pounds over the course of a few months.

    Historically speaking, net carbohydrate intake (total carbs minus fiber) has always been quite low. Likewise, the diseases we now know are associated with insulin resistance — which is primarily caused by excess consumption of refined carbs — have been quite rare.

    Switching from a high-carb diet to one high in healthy fat with moderate protein and low in net carbs helps rebalance your body's chemistry. A natural side effect of this is weight loss, and improved weight management, once you're at an ideal weight. One explanation for this is that you don't actually get fat from eating too much and exercising too little. Nor do you get fat from eating healthy fat. Obesity is typically the result of a high-carb diet, which over time leads to an inability to burn fat for fuel.

    Fructose Is a Major Culprit in Obesity and Ill Health

    Diets high in refined fructose are particularly troublesome, as fructose activates the enzyme fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes cells to accumulate fat. When this enzyme is blocked, fat cannot be stored in the cell. In essence, fructose is the dietary ingredient that causes cells to accumulate fat. Dietary carbohydrates, especially fructose, are also the primary source of a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate, which causes fat to become fixed in fat tissue.

    At the same time, high carb intake raises your insulin levels, which also prevents fat from being released. Furthermore, no amount of exercise can compensate for this. This is why it can seem nearly impossible to lose weight when you're eating a lot of refined carbs and foods containing high fructose corn syrup, and why cutting carbs is so critical when you're trying to lose weight.

    Keep in mind that when we're talking about harmful excess carbs (aka excess net carbs), we're only referring to grains and sugars, not vegetable carbs. Vegetables contain valuable fiber, and when you cut grain/sugar carbs you actually need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat.

    You also need to dramatically increase healthful fats such as avocados, coconut oil, egg yolks, raw grass fed organic butter, olives, and nuts like macadamias and pecans that are both low in protein and carbs and high in healthy fat.

    The Importance of Fiber Carbs

    Fiber from vegetables are important for several reasons, including building a healthier gut microbiome, stabilizing your blood sugar and improving fat burning.9 Fiber is in fact a carbohydrate, but unlike sugars and starches you don't digest it. However, your gut bacteria do, and benefit from it. This is one of the reasons why vegetables, which are low in net carbs, will typically not take you out of ketosis, and you can eat as many veggies as you want.

    Fiber can be broadly divided into soluble and insoluble types, and ideally you want to get plenty of both. Soluble fiber helps your body extract and absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat, subdues blood sugar and insulin spikes after eating and keeps you feeling full longer. Insoluble fiber curbs ghrelin, the hunger hormone, thereby preventing hunger pangs from setting in and lowering the risk of overeating. It also boosts your body's fat burning ability by nourishing gut bacteria involved in metabolism.

    A third category of fiber, which includes both soluble and insoluble fiber, is prebiotic fiber and digestive-resistant starches. These provide nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria that ferment the fiber, breaking it down into short-chain fatty acids that have potent anti-inflammatory properties and help maintain the structural integrity of the lining in your gut. Raw garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, green bananas and unripe papaya or mango are good sources.  

    How to Implement a Ketogenic Diet  

    To implement a ketogenic diet (a diet high in healthy fats, adequate in protein and low in net carbs), the first step is to eliminate packaged, processed foods. The emphasis is on real whole foods, plenty of healthy fats and as few net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) as possible. This typically involves dramatically reducing or temporarily eliminating all grains and any food high in sugar, particularly fructose, but also galactose (found in milk) and other sugars — both added and naturally-occurring.

    As a general rule, you'll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you're actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, a nutrient tracker can be an invaluable tool.

    I believe www.cronometer.com/mercola is the most accurate and best nutrient tracker available. Like my nutrition plan, this nutrient tracker is completely free. It's set up for nutritional ketosis, so based on the base parameters you enter, such as height, weight, body fat percentage and waist circumference, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats (including your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio) to put you into nutritional ketosis.

    This is what will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel rather than sugar, which in turn will help optimize your mitochondrial function and overall health and fitness. Another key to success on a high-fat, low-carb diet is to eat high-quality healthy fats, not the fats most commonly found in the American diet (the processed fats and vegetable oils used in processed foods and fried restaurant meals). Examples of high-quality healthy fats include:

    Olives and olive oil (make sure it's third party certified, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils.

    Also avoid cooking with olive oil. Use it cold)

    Coconuts and coconut oil (excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing)

    Animal-based omega-3 fat from fatty fish low in mercury like wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and/or krill oil

    Butter made from raw grass fed organic milk

    Raw nuts, such as macadamia and pecans

    Seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds


    Grass fed meats

    MCT oil

    Ghee (clarified butter); lard and tallow (excellent for cooking)

    Raw cacao butter

    Organic, pastured egg yolks

    To Learn More, Join Me at My Upcoming Live Lecture

    There are many professionals or others who would like to dive deep into the details, and if you fall into that category, I want to offer you some opportunities to learn more. On June 14 and 15, 2017, I will be in Colorado Springs for the SopMed's third medical ozone and ultraviolet light therapy training. The 14th I will be giving a three-hour course that goes into many of the details that are not discussed in my new book "Fat for Fuel," either because I learned of them later or there was not room to fit them in the book.

    I am also speaking in Florida in November. If you are a physician and are interested in learning about how you can use the ketogenic diet and other therapies for cancer, heart disease, Lyme and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, please be sure and come to our ACIM conference in Orlando, Florida, on November 2 through 4 at the wonderful Florida Conference and Hotel Center.

    If you are a patient, there will be a separate and less expensive track on the same date and location. However, you will need to come back to this page in a few days as the registration page for the event is still not up.

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  • Lower High Blood Pressure With More Potassium-Rich Foods, Less Sugar
    published on April 23rd, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Americans struggle with high levels of certain diseases like cardiovascular disease and related high blood pressure. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks this malady, also known as hypertension, as playing the leading role in heart disease.1

    Conventional medicine says eating too much sodium is one cause of high blood pressure, but more studies are revealing that it's actually an imbalance between your sodium intake and your potassium levels that may be the problem. According to one study:

    "Findings suggest that public health efforts directed toward increasing consumption of K+ [potassium]-rich natural foods would reduce BP [blood pressure] and, thus, cardiovascular and kidney disease."2

    Potassium deficiency, known as hypokalemia, can be so serious that it could be fatal. One sign that you may be deficient is high blood pressure, but other things to look for include:

    • Fatigue
    • Muscle weakness
    • Abdominal pain and cramps
    • Abnormal heart rhythms
    • Muscle paralysis

    Potassium: The 'Good Salt'

    There are a few facts about potassium that few people are aware of. First, it's an essential mineral, but another thing to note is that, as an electrolyte, it plays a crucial role in regard to your blood pressure.

    In spite of loads of studies and reports to the contrary, the fact is that it's the balance between salt and potassium that will balance the health of your cells, not lowering your salt intake, unless of course, you're talking about processed table salt.

    Foods With High Potassium Content Help Lower Blood Pressure Levels

    People with higher intakes of potassium tend to have lower blood pressure levels, so finding the foods to eat that contain it will definitely be good for you. For a good balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, eat fresh, whole, potassium-rich foods. I recommend:

    Swiss chard



    Crimini mushrooms


    Brussels sprouts


    Romaine lettuce

    Additionally, Authority Nutrition3 notes other foods with high potassium content, such as leafy greens, tomatoes and sweet potatoes, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, melons, bananas, oranges and apricots. Fruits should be eaten in moderation, however, due to the fructose content.

    Besides significantly lowering your blood pressure, pomegranate juice may protect your cells from negative effects like premature aging.

    It's also high in antioxidant polyphenols to cut your cancer and heart disease risks, and more antioxidants from tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid than green tea and red wine, Prevent Disease adds.4

    Fruit polyphenols have been shown to have such a positive influence on potentially fatal heart-related issues that related research may even help change recommendations on what fruits are most beneficial to consume for optimal cardiovascular protection, one study concluded.5

    A Florida study6 reported that 1 cup of blueberries a day may lower blood pressure and relax arteries. Around 50 hypertensive women were given either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder or a placebo powder to eat, with the result that the first group, on average, had a 7 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure.

    Raw grass fed yogurt is rich in probiotics, which helps keep blood pressure at balanced levels.

    A review of several studies7 found that probiotics may benefit this area of your health naturally because they help optimize your cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels. And small amounts of dark chocolate provide flavonoids that cause blood vessels to dilate.8

    Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Lower Your Blood Pressure

    Most people will say they want to live a "healthy" life, but it's usually small, day-to-day decisions that make the difference in the long run. Blood pressure affects your body in a systemic way. If you struggle to maintain healthy levels, you may want to take a good look at your diet.

    Conventional wisdom usually tells you to limit your salt intake, but the most impactful way to do the job is to cut down on sugar. As "bad" as salt is touted to be, sugar is far worse.

    While you probably already know that processed foods are far too high in refined sodium, it's refined sugar that's the real culprit in the high incidence of high blood pressure and, consequently, the trickle-down effect of diseases that all too often follow along behind, such as metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack.

    More and more studies indicate that sugar can be implicated in high blood pressure levels.9 In fact, one study shows that women who drank just one soda per day had higher levels that those who drank less than that.10

    Researchers at the University of California–San Francisco and Touro University California conducted a study11 published in the journal Obesity that looked at the effects of limiting sugar intake. The study subjects were 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 years.

    For nine days, all the children ate meals, snacks and beverages with reduced sugar; however, they were allowed to eat fruit. Their fasting blood sugar levels, glucose tolerance and blood pressure were recorded before each meal.

    All of them were given the same amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates as before, including hot dogs, chips and pizza, but added sugar was replaced with bagels and cereal. In fact, sugar went from 28 percent to 10 percent. Carbs and fructose were reduced from 12 percent to 4 percent.

    What Happens When Children Are Given Less Sugar to Eat?

    Before long, the diet proved successful, as the scientists noted decreased blood pressure, improved cholesterol and improved liver function. Fasting blood glucose levels fell five points, while insulin levels dropped by a third.

    This is particularly astonishing since the added sugar was replaced with bagels and cereal, which are far from healthy. Imagine if it had been replaced with vegetables or healthy fats! Lead author Robert Lustig stated:

    "This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar.

    (The study indicates) that sugar contributes to metabolic syndrome, and is the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity."12

    The Epoch Times quoted senior study author Jean-Marc Schwarz:

    "These findings support the idea that it is essential for parents to evaluate sugar intake and to be mindful of the health effects of what their children are consuming. When we took the sugar out, the kids started responding to their satiety [fullness] cues.

    They told us it felt like so much more food, even though they were consuming the same number of calories as before, just with significantly less sugar. Some said we were overwhelming them with food."13

    Active African-Americans Are Less Apt to Develop High Blood Pressure

    Certain factors make high blood pressure more prevalent in some people than in others. One study based in Jackson, Mississippi, showed that African-Americans are less apt to develop high blood pressure if they're physically active on a daily basis.

    Further, study subjects who reported engaging in the ideal amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity were about 24 percent less likely to have high blood pressure years later in comparison to those who didn't.

    As it happens, African-Americans have the highest blood pressure rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., making heart attack, stroke and kidney disease risks more prevalent, and even early death. Unfortunately, the odds are high for this demographic. Dr. Keith Diaz of Columbia University Medical Center in New York explained:

    "If you're African-American, your odds of developing hypertension [are] pretty high. If you're worried about hypertension or high blood pressure, one of the things you can do to prevent it is physical activity and exercise."14

    None of the 1,311 participants in the study had high blood pressure when they started it between 2000 and 2004. They were checked again between 2005 and 2008, and again between 2009 and 2013. Half them were monitored for at least eight years.

    The upshot? Those getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise — specifically from programmed physical activity as opposed to household tasks —  were 24 percent less likely to have developed high blood pressure than people who didn't.

    How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

    Most doctors charged with helping their patients with high blood pressure issues will hand their patients a pharmaceutical prescription, but there are remedies for this condition that cost far less, financially, physically, overall time consumed and long-term effects combined. Time15 and Authority Nutrition listed several, including:

    • Breathe. Mindfully slowing the breaths you take and breathing more slowly helps you relax, and relaxing helps improve your heart rate, makes your arteries more flexible and lowers your blood pressure, naturally.
    • Relax. Stress does more to negatively affect your body than you can imagine. Bouts of anger or stress, triggering your "fight or flight" hormones, can literally increase your risk of developing heart-related issues. Try the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other natural methods to calm and soothe your mind.
    • Curb the coffee and alcohol. While there are studies that contend that moderate alcohol intake can provide heart benefits, overdoing it can raise your blood pressure, as well as cause subsequent health problems. Caffeine can also be a culprit, and it may come from drinking soda. Give it a rest — literally.
    • Walk and exercise regularly. Your heart is strengthened and pumps blood more efficiently, lowering arterial pressure. Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve both.16
    • Lose weight. Even losing 5 percent of your total weight can significantly lower your blood pressure,17 and the effect is even greater when you exercise.18

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  • An Avocado a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
    published on April 23rd, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Sometimes people have more than one serious health complication. If those problems happen to be three or more of the most prevalent risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high triglycerides and a large waistline, they merge into a single disorder known as metabolic syndrome.

    Metabolic syndrome represents one very serious illness, affecting 40 percent of the U.S. population over age 40.

    Scientists from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), conducting a review of 129 scientific studies on the topic of avocados and metabolic syndrome, now call this malady "the new silent killer."1 Dr. Charles H. Hennekens says:

    "The major factor accelerating the pathway to metabolic syndrome is overweight and obesity. Obesity is overtaking smoking as the leading avoidable cause of premature death in the U.S. and worldwide."2

    Parvathi Perumareddi, doctor of osteopathic medicine and assistant professor of integrated medical science at FAU, explained:

    "The pandemic of obesity, which begins in childhood, is deeply concerning. Adolescents today are more obese and less physically active than their parents and already have higher rates of type 2 diabetes.

    It is likely that the current generation of children and adolescents in the U.S. will be the first since 1960 to have higher mortality rates than their parents due mainly to cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke."3

    It's something you have control over, however. The review concluded that metabolic syndrome is preventable in most cases using dietary measures. In fact, the featured study revealed that one way you can help prevent metabolic syndrome is by eating avocados.4

    Avocados: 'It Would Be Hard to Eat Too Much'

    Here's why registered dietician Cynthia Sass, with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health, calls avocados worthy of superfood status: They can effectively combat nearly every aspect of metabolic syndrome.

    According to Sass, the "impressive range of studies" the researchers perused also covered the nutritional impact the firm, velvety flesh of this pear-shaped green-black food, technically a fruit, can make on several other areas of the body, not just metabolic syndrome symptoms.

    It's possible that more than just the fruit itself may be good for you; researchers found possible benefits from consuming the leaves, peels, oil and even the large pit at the center of avocados (although Sass suggested that sticking to the peeled, pitted flesh would be best until further studies can be done).

    Time online notes that avocados not only help stave off belly fat — the worst type of fat to carry — but eating them offers such high amounts of healthy fat compared to other fruits, eating too much would be very difficult to do. Further, it's versatile and filling, as well, Sass noted:

    "Fortunately avocado is very satiating. It's almost like they have a built-in stop-gap. This is yet another example of how not all calories are created equal. Avocado blends well with both sweet and savory ingredients, and provides the satisfaction factor that makes dishes decadent."5

    Combine avocados with salsa or fruit chutney to make guacamole; mash them with a bit of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for a quick vegetable or pita dip, or a delicious addition to egg salad. Serve mashed avocado on poached or lightly cooked over-easy eggs or slice, salt and eat them all by themselves.

    The beauty is that it's not just about the versatility and flavor of avocados; the nutritional profile is incredible.

    Additional information from the study about this plant-based food, Science Daily said, was that they're also "lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic and cardioprotective."6

    Avocados and Cholesterol

    If you don't get any other concept about how avocados can literally change your health, this might move you: The high fat content in avocados is a good thing — it's not "bad" fat. In fact, it's good, necessary fat from oleic acid, which is the same monosaturated fatty acid contained in olive oil.

    Oleic acid is associated with decreased inflammation, which helps stave off such diseases as cancer.7

    Further, neither avocados nor avocado oil are hydrogenated or loaded with trans fats or other unhealthy oxidized fats like most canola, safflower, corn or other vegetable oils you're urged to cook with may be. Avocado oil can even be drizzled over salads and used in recipes calling for other oils.

    Avocado oil also has a relatively high smoke point compared to olive oil, making it a better choice for cooking,8 although coconut oil is best for that purpose.

    While some people remain concerned that eating high-fat foods like avocados may adversely affect their cholesterol levels, the opposite is actually true (plus, cholesterol is not the evil it's made out to be).

    According to the review, people who eat avocados have higher levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol than those who do not. Eating avocados may also lower triglyceride levels compared to eating high-carb diets or diets without avocado.9

    Beneficial Nutrients That Make Up Avocados

    The California Avocado Commission reports that avocados contain about 22.5 grams of fat, and two-thirds of that is monounsaturated. Other essential nutrients include fiber, vitamins, folic acid, vitamin E and more potassium than you'd find in a banana.

    SELFNutritionData reports that avocado also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, ion, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). In regard to the dietary reference intake (DRI), 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of avocado contain:10

    Vitamin K: 26 percent

    Folate: 20 percent

    Vitamin C: 17 percent

    Potassium: 14 percent

    Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): 14 percent

    Vitamin B6: 13 percent

    Vitamin E: 10 percent

    Niacin: 9 percent

    According to Authority Nutrition:

    "This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 'net' carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food."11

    Avocados for Your Heart, Arthritis, Blood Sugar Levels and Weight Loss

    Research shows several other positive aspects about avocados: One of the most interesting is that people who eat more of them generally weigh less and have smaller waistlines than people who don't, even if their overall caloric consumption is smaller.

    The fiber content can also be thanked for this aspect of avocado consumption. It's both soluble, which amounts to 75 percent, and insoluble fiber, the former of which is linked to good gut bacteria, which affects your body's optimal function.12

    Avocados also were found to be more filling than other foods. In one study, participants were divided and each half given a meal to eat, one of which contained avocados.

    Afterward, a questionnaire revealed that 23 percent of those in the avocado group felt more satisfied and had a 28 percent lower desire to eat within the next five hours.13

    All these factors are what help make avocados an incredibly healthy food to add to your diet. One study notes that avocados contain high amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and phytosterols, and explains:

    "Eight preliminary avocado cardiovascular health clinical studies (have) consistently demonstrated positive heart healthy effects on blood lipids profiles.

    This is primarily because of avocado's … monounsaturated fatty acids and high-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA and PUFA) content, but its natural phytosterols and dietary fiber may play potential secondary … roles.

    Avocados also have a diverse range of other nutrients and phytochemicals … In particular, avocado's potassium and lutein may help promote normal blood pressure and help to control oxidative/inflammatory stress."14

    More and More Avocado Advantages

    Antioxidants absorption is another important element to eating this nubby green fruit. In fact, when you add it to salsa or salad, you'll absorb three to five times more fat-soluble carotenoids because of the avocado's lipid content. This, in turn, may help protect your body against free radical damage.15

    In other words, when you eat carotenoid-rich foods along with healthy fat avocados, your body becomes better able to absorb more of their fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotenes, as well as lutein, zeaxanthin and other antioxidants.

    The antioxidants have been noted for their prominent roles in keeping your vision healthy. One study shows the antioxidants protect your macula, located near the center of your eye where your vision is clearest, from short-wavelength visible light, and help prevent age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts.16

    Here's another benefit that's very important: Avocados carry a very light load of chemical pesticide spray residue in comparison with other plant-based foods, so it's not necessary to try to find (or grow) organic varieties. They are a fruit, but unlike so many others, avocados don't contain high levels of fructose. Instead, the healthy fat they offer rivals that of coconut oil, organic raw butter, and raw nuts such as pecans and almonds.

    Did you know that avocado oil is also good for your hair and skin? It makes your skin softer and more supple, and renders your hair smoother and less frizzy and tangled than without it, especially if your hair is dry. In fact, it has many of the same properties as coconut oil.

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  • Breathing Program to Improve Mental and Physical Health in Two Weeks
    published on April 22nd, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    It may be hard to believe, but 9 out of 10 adults breathe incorrectly, thereby impairing their health and exacerbating anxiety and depression. Fortunately, learning to breathe correctly is not a complicated affair.

    In this interview, Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of "Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health," shares a breathing program she developed that can help improve your physical and mental health in a short amount of time.

    Psychologists do not typically focus on breathing. As is often the case with health pioneers, it was her personal health problems that led Vranich onto this path.

    "What happened is that one year in New York, I woke up and had this dull throbbing pain in my jaw. I went to the dentist and found out I was not only grinding my teeth, I was pulverizing them because of stress …  

    Being someone who sort of thrived on stress, I reached a point where it wasn't working for me anymore … [F]inding out I had to pay thousands of dollars to get teeth replaced and fixed was my [aha] moment.

    Most people take a yoga class or have a stiff drink. I decided for the yoga class. I loved the breathing we did in yoga … When I left yoga, I tried to find other classes that had to do with breathing. Most of them were vague, as far as their scientific explanations of what was going on, although they were lovely …

    [C]oming from a science background, I really wanted to know why things were happening … Long story short, I found all types of breathing in sports, martial arts, birthing, singing [and] free diving. I put all those practical elements together and came up with the breathing class I give now.

    I went back to my own patients [who] had anxiety and depression, and it worked really well with them … They would spend chunks of the session really wanting to do breath work. That's how the transition happened."

    Proper Breathing Is a Cornerstone of Good Health

    In her book, "Breathe," Vranich accurately points out that breathing is a cornerstone of good health, and that changing the way you breathe can have an enormous impact, improving your sleep, cognition, eating habits, resilience to stress and more.

    It can even lower your inflammation level, improve gastrointestinal (GI) function, increase longevity and reduce pain. When you're in pain, you tense up, which in turn affects your breathing, making it shallower. This actually makes the pain feel worse, and can lead to a vicious circle where the pain becomes constant.

    When it comes to breathing style, there are two basic types: vertical and horizontal breathing. Most people breathe vertically. This type of breathing makes you feel a bit taller on the in-breath, as it raises your chest and shoulders.

    "Unfortunately, it's anatomically incongruous," Vranich says. "Your neck and shoulders were never meant to be breathing muscles. You're not using the best part of your lungs. You're actually telling your nervous system that you are in a stressed-out state.

    If you're not already in a stressed-out state, it's going to make you more stressed … Horizontally is the way you see all animals on the planet breathe. They breathe and widen where the biggest part of their lungs are …

    If you ask a 5-year old to take a breath, they just widen like a little puffing fish … It's their deep breath. It's perfect. You take a 10-year-old and ask them to take a deep breath and all of a sudden, it's completely changed.

    The 10-year-old will raise their shoulders, puff up their little chests and take this vertical, apical breath. If it doesn't happen by age 10, definitely by age 15 … What they're doing is mimicking their parents and what they see around them …"

    How to Address Dysfunctional Breathing

    The origins of dysfunctional breathing can also be traced back to excessive sitting. The average American sits 13 to 16 hours a day, which puts your body into an unnatural posture. According to Vranich, your posture affects as much as 30 percent of your breathing.

    You may also have learned improper breathing through sports. Constrictive clothing such as tight waist bands, compression garments and bra straps add to the problem. Sucking in your gut also worsens the situation.

    "Even if you're not pulling in your gut because you think it makes you look thinner, you're bracing because of anxiety. Think about it. That's actually a posture that most of us have very often," Vranich says. "It's this braced middle … because it makes us feel better.

    We feel like we're ready to run or to strike. The problem with all of those things is that it takes the breath and it pushes it up, [turning it into] a vertical breath …

    Luckily, dismantling it is fairly easy because somewhere in your body, you remember having breathed horizontally … [and since] it does make you feel better [when breathing horizontally], you start doing it."

    The book, "Breathe," is a useful resource that provides a variety of different exercises and strategies to address this dysfunctional breathing. One such strategy Vranich calls "rock and roll." You can do it either standing or sitting.

    Begin by relaxing and unbracing your midsection. Take a deep breath in and actually feel the middle of your body get wider. Let your belly go. On the exhale, roll backward, tipping your hips underneath you while pressing your fingers gently into your belly, giving it a little squeeze.

    These movements are exaggerated because learning a new mechanical movement is easier if you start by exaggerating it. Eventually, this will teach your body to use the diaphragm to breathe. So, on the inhale, let your belly go. On the exhale, roll back and squeeze.

    "This is the most important breath," Vranich says. "If you do anything at all, this is the most wonderful one … You want to get yourself trained to breathe that way all the time."

    Remember to Engage Your Diaphragm When Breathing

    One of the key things to remember is to work with and engage your diaphragm when breathing, as this will allow you to change your breathing more easily, and make the change permanent. This is what the "rock and roll" breathing exercise teaches you.

    "[While] the Buteyko [Breathing technique] focuses on your carbon dioxide levels, breathing through your nose, and posits that most people over-breathe … I focus on style of breathing.

    I really look to see where you're breathing from, because in my experience that has been what really resonates with people and what creates the most change," Vranich says. "Although I touch on Buteyko Breathing in my book, I try to bring in breathing exercises from as many different places as possible, because I want there to be information that resonates with a really diverse group of people.

    I talk about breathing that happens in singing … in martial arts … In "Breathe," I bring in everything I possibly can, as far as breathing, to really give you a choice to see which of these different exercises works for you. But my main gift, I'd like to think, is that I look at where you're breathing from."

    You might know that muscles will atrophy from lack of use. If you've been breathing improperly for several decades, it may take some time to retrain your breathing muscles before you can breathe optimally. Even athletes can have weak breathing muscles, because in order to be strong, they have to be worked out separately. It doesn't happen automatically simply because you're breathing heavily, and it has nothing to do with lung capacity. Your breathing muscles include your:

    • Intercostals: Muscles that run between your ribs, allowing your chest wall to move
    • Diaphragm: That thin sheet of muscle that extends across your thoracic cavity below your heart and lungs, above your digestive system
    • Obliques: The largest, outermost muscles of the lateral, anterior abdomen that give you that six-pack look
    • Pelvic floor

    How to Strengthen Your Breathing Muscles

    Working those muscles and really engaging them when breathing will have a dramatic effect on your ability to breathe well. Your inhale is governed by your diaphragm, while the exhale is primarily governed by your intercostals and obliques. Oftentimes, feeling short of breath is due to insufficient exhalation leaving excess residual air in your lungs. With age, your intercostals and obliques can weaken, thereby weakening your ability to exhale fully.

    "When I teach, I teach the extremes so that you understand the mechanics. I make that exhale a squeeze. When you think about exhaling, most people think, 'Inhale, exhale, let go,' and that really messes us up. That idea of 'exhale, let go' makes you relax and flop down when you actually want to be narrowing your body on the exhale …

    If you can think about your belly button getting closer to your spine and even your ribs coming together, that's a really good exhale, which will obviously make your next inhale much better," Vranich explains.

    While about 50 percent of people can change their breathing for the better simply by reading the book or taking a single-session breathing class, to really change your breathing for life, most people need to commit to doing the exercises several times a day for one to three weeks.

    The Importance of Stretching

    Stretching helps improve your range of motion and flexibility, and proper breathing is an important aspect of effective stretching as well. Conversely, stretching can also improve your breathing. Vranich explains: 

    "Since your intercostals are two layers of muscle on the inside of your ribs, the best way you can stretch them is by inhaling and then stretching … [This opens] up the spaces between your ribs … Add air to the ribcage, on the inside, and then stretch. Add a little bit more. It's called air packing — air packing comes from free diving — then stretch a little bit deeper. You can actually focus on the side that's collapsing and give that a little crunch …

    Now, I love spinal twists. If you don't have any injuries, if you've been OK'd for doing spinal twists, doing spinal twists on the exhale will definitely get you deeper into the twist using the breath … Whatever chair you're on, taking the back of your seat … and pulling yourself around on the exhale will get you deeper into the twist."

    More Information

    "Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health" is a really excellent book if you want to explore different ways to improve your breathing. Vranich also teaches her breathing course live across the U.S. and conducts private sessions via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout. An online course is also being prepared at the time of this interview.

    Health professionals, such as physical therapists, life coaches, personal trainers, yoga instructors and other coaches and therapists of all kinds can also become certified breathing coaches through her Breathe Certification Teacher Training Program. This year, teacher trainings are scheduled for Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. At present, there are about 50 health professionals certified in her program. You can find more information about this, and a whole lot more, on TheBreathingClass.com.

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  • Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad: Sweet and Fiery in Every Bite
    published on April 22nd, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    Recipe From Megan Olson of PaleoHacks


    Wasabi: You either love it or hate it. This condiment has an intense aroma and strong horseradish-like taste that can take some people aback, although those who are adventurous with their food seem to like it. This green root is popular in Japanese cuisine and is usually served alongside slices of raw fish or mixed with sushi rice.[i]


    If you’re interested in trying wasabi but don’t want that very spicy sensation after eating it, you can make this Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad Recipe by Megan Olson of PaleoHacks. What makes this dish stand out is the unique sweet and spicy avocado and wasabi dressing. Eating this salad is sure to deliver multiple flavors with each bite.




    For the avocado wasabi dressing:

    1 large, ripe avocado

    2 teaspoons wasabi paste

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    Juice of 1 organic lemon

    Salt to taste


    For the salad:

    2 cups mixed greens

    1/4 cup shredded carrots

    4 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

    2 teaspoons sesame seeds

    Microgreens for garnish




    1.       Prepare the dressing by adding avocado, lemon juice, salt and wasabi paste to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until avocado is smooth and creamy. Then add extra virgin olive oil. Blend on high for 1 minute until fully emulsified. Transfer dressing to a glass jar.

    2.       Prepare the salad by layering the greens in a large bowl followed by the shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, sesame seeds and microgreens. Drizzle the avocado wasabi dressing over the salad and serve immediately.


    This recipe makes 1 serving.

    Preparation time: 10 minutes


    Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad Recipe: A Good Choice for a Health Boost


    Salads, especially those made from fresh and organic produce, are one of the healthiest foods you can eat if you want to lose some weight, boost your health or both. This Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad Recipe is no exception.


    However, this isn’t your typical salad, mainly because of the avocado and wasabi dressing that has a good contrast of sweet and spicy. Plus, the numerous health benefits you can get from the dressing and the vegetables make this a top-notch salad you can save for yourself or share with another.


    Wickedly Spicy Wasabi’s Health Benefits


    Because wasabi is typically used in small servings, it does not typically qualify as a significant nutrient source. Nevertheless, adding authentic wasabi to your diet may have potential benefits because of its nutrients, namely:[ii]


    ·         Minerals: Potassium, calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc

    ·         Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and C

    ·         Protein


    Wasabi also exhibited anti-bacterial properties, and was most effective against the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. The roots were the strongest when it came to destroying the bacteria, although other plant parts were shown to kill the organisms too.[iii] Other studies also highlighted the wasabi stem’s capabilities against the E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus strains.[iv]


    Additional research revealed wasabi’s other capabilities, and these were all traced to compounds called isothiocyanates[v] in the plant:

    ·         Reduced cancer risk: Initial research showed that the compounds 6-MITC [6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] and I7557 [6-methylsulfonyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] may help prevent pancreatic cancer cell growth.[vi]


    Meanwhile, another study found that the 6-MITC [6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] compound may inhibit growth of breast and skin cancer.[vii] However, more research has to be done to fully confirm this link.


    ·         Anti-platelet aggregation: The isothiocyanates may assist with preventing platelet aggregation,[viii] or the clumping together of red blood cells that may eventually cause blood clots.


    ·         Anti-inflammatory: Isothiocyanates showed potential in inhibiting inflammation-related conditions like asthma and inflammatory bowel disease and in decreasing symptoms of arthritis, a known inflammatory condition. Wasabi is known to block prostaglandin, the neurotransmitter responsible for inflammation and pain.


    To reap wasabi’s known benefits, you must use real and authentic wasabi, which is typically found only at specialty stores and high-end dining places. Beware of most wasabi sold in sushi places and groceries: They’re impostors that contain artificial colors and flavors and genetically modified (GM) ingredients like corn and soy. If you cannot find authentic wasabi, you can try making “wasabi” using horseradish, turmeric and spirulina.


    There are also side effects associated with wasabi, such as diarrhea and nausea (because of its strong flavor and aroma).[ix] Increased consumption of wasabi, especially in large doses, can induce liver damage because of a chemical called hepatotoxin present in the plant, so make sure to use it in moderation.[x]


    How Does Avocado Support Your Health?


    Aside from providing a mild sweetness to the dressing, the many benefits your body can reap from the avocado make this an important fruit you should add to your diet. Avocado contains vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, 9, C, E and K, and nutrients like potassium and fiber, but most of the positives connected to it come from its high monounsaturated fat content. These healthy fats are not only used by the body as fuel, but can also help:[xi]


    ·         Maintain proper brain function

    ·         Keep cholesterol levels in the healthy range

    ·         Improve heart health

    ·         Absorb fat-soluble nutrients like alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein from other foods

    ·         Prevent degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia


    To top it all off, there is a low risk that an avocado is contaminated with pesticides because of its thick skin. The “Clean 15” report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), hailed avocado as the plant with second least amount of pesticide residue, so it’s OK to buy conventionally grown varieties.


    Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Your Best Bet for Salads


    While coconut oil remains to be the best type of oil you can use when cooking dishes, you can drizzle high-quality extra virgin olive oil or plain olive oil all over salads like this. Just like avocado, this oil contains healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower heart disease risk. These fats were also shown to benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, thereby reducing type 2 diabetes risk. Other benefits of olive oil include:


    Gentle on the digestive system

    Has a high potential in preventing gallstones and soothing ulcers

    Has liver-protective properties

    Offers anti-viral and antimicrobial properties

    A storehouse of beneficial nutrients for eye health like vitamin A

    Good source of vitamin E and minerals like copper, fiber and iron


    Unfortunately, most olive oils sold nowadays are adulterated, meaning the product is made inferior by adding cheap and oxidized omega-6 vegetable oils like sunflower or peanut oil or non-human grade olive oils.[xii] To avoid deception by profit-hungry olive oil producers, look for these qualities when purchasing olive oil:


    ·         Rancidity: Olive oil is considered rancid if it smells like crayons or putty, tastes like rancid nuts and/or has a greasy mouthfeel.


    ·         Fusty flavor: This refers to the instance wherein olives sit too long prior to milling, resulting in fermentation in the absence of oxygen. While this fusty flavor is incredibly common in olive oil and already considered normal, it’s not ideal. Olive oil that has a fermented smell that’s similar to sweaty socks or swampy vegetation should be avoided.


    If you’re not exactly sure what fusty flavor is, you can look through Kalamata olives and find a brown and mushy piece, rather than a purple or maroon-black and firm olive. The brown and mushy piece tends to have a fusty flavor.


    ·         Moldy flavor: Olive oil that tastes dusty or musty was probably made from moldy olives, an occasional olive oil defect.


    ·         Wine or vinegar flavor: If the oil tastes like it contains undertones of wine, vinegar or even nail polish, it’s a sign that the olives underwent fermentation with oxygen, which produces this sharp and undesirable flavor.



    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.


  • Back to Eden — How Simple, Natural Methods Can Take the Work Out of Gardening, and Boost Your Harvest
    published on April 21st, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The featured documentary, "Back to Eden," reveals a simple organic gardening method that not only can transform your personal garden, but may even be part of the food solution needed on a global scale.

    Far from being life sustaining, our modern, large-scale, chemical-dependent farming methods strip soil of nutrients, destroy critical soil microbes, contribute to the creation of deserts where nothing will grow, and saturate farmlands with toxic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that then migrate into ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.

    This video really inspired me and, after watching it, I called my local tree cutting service and was able to get three truckloads of wood chips dropped on my driveway for free. I then wheelbarreled them onto my landscape.

    The great thing about the wood chips is that they are waste and most companies will give you all you want. I plan on adding more every few months.

    One important aspect I learned, though, is that the wood chip pile will tend to decompose rather rapidly if you don't spread it on your landscape right away. So, it's best to spread the chips over a few days and not leave it in a pile.

    Otherwise you will wind up needing to wear a mask to avoid inhaling the dust when you use a pitchfork to move the chips into your wheelbarrel.

    I am convinced that "Back to Eden's" gardener, Paul Gautschi, makes loads of sense and that this is a crucial part of the equation for creating healthy soil to produce healthy plants. Wood chips not only seem to eliminate the need for any fertilizer or mineral supplements, but also to help reduce watering and make weeding a snap.

    If the religious overtones of this film don't appeal to you, I hope you will overlook them because regardless of your religious beliefs, the information shared still has tremendous value, and is sure to be of interest to anyone concerned with sustainable agriculture. As presented by Documentary Storm:1

    "Dana & Sarah Films, a nomadic grassroots film production company, travel to Washington where Paul Gautschi has developed a revolutionary gardening technique that is estimated to cut back on the need for irrigation by up to 95 percent.

    Paul is known locally as a master arborist and is now inspiring people across the nation to experiment with his gardening methods by starting their own 'Back to Eden' gardens."

    'Back to Eden' — Nature Is Self-Sustaining

    What many fail to realize is that your health ultimately depends on the health of the soil — this is what allows your food, the vegetables and fruits, to grow nutrient-dense. When soils are depleted of nutrients, the foods grown in it will be deficient in critical minerals and phytonutrients as well.

    Unfortunately, that's the state of a large portion of the Earth's soils today. Clearly, the answer to correcting soils depleted of nutrients is NOT to add even more chemical fertilizers.

    The "magical" ingredient that maintains and maximizes soil health is actually the microorganisms living in the soil. This includes bacteria, fungi, protozoa and microscopic roundworms called nematodes.

    Far from being scourges to be avoided, microorganisms are an essential necessity for optimized plant growth.

    We now understand that it is the cooperation between these microorganisms, the soil's biome and the plants' roots — called rhizosphere — that is ultimately responsible for allowing the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil in which it's grown.

    As discussed in the featured film, nature is self-sustaining. When left alone, the ground becomes covered with leaves and organic materials that then turn into lush compost that adds nutrients back to the soil. This top layer of organic material also shields the soil and helps retain moisture.

    By imitating nature and simply covering his garden with wood chips, Gautschi doesn't need to water any of his plants, even in the summer. And his garden yields plenty of large, well-formed, juicy fruits, berries and vegetables.

    While you certainly can purchase wood chips, Paul suggests contacting your local tree service to get large amounts. These are basically tree branches that have gone through a wood chipper.

    They usually have to get rid of all these wood chips anyway so, like me, you may be able to get it for next to nothing, opposed to buying bags of mulch from a gardening center. As stated by Documentary Storm:

    "In these days of genetically modified organisms, leafy greens replete with pesticides, drought, fruits and vegetables that are deficient of nutrients, soil that is depleted of minerals, and a myriad of problems and side effects that have risen because of the aforementioned, Paul Gautschi seems to have an answer that almost seems too simple to believe."

    Others have duplicated his efforts, reaping the same fantastic results. For example, the film also features Ronald and Sylvia Richardson, who were inspired to follow in Gautschi's footsteps after a visit to his garden in 2010, and the McOmber family, who have also successfully implemented his methods in their garden.

    A Nearly Magical Soil Amendment, the Results of Which Will Shock You

    One of the keys to a truly successful garden is to improve the microbiology of the soil. Many people don't appreciate that it's NOT commercial products like Miracle-Gro® you put in your garden that give you disease-resistant and nutrient-dense food, but the diverse collection of bacteria, fungi and parasites that actually transfer the nutrients from the soil into the plant.

    Miracle-Gro® will supply some nutrients, but these salts actually kill the soil microbes. Although the film does not discuss this, I believe that one of the primary reasons why Gautschi's experiment is so successful is due to the beneficial effect on microorganism growth.

    When the article initially ran, I experimented in my own garden by spreading 15 gallons of vortexed compost tea (basically compost tea that has been stirred, creating a vortex in the bucket) nearly every day for six months.

    Each ounce of the tea had hundreds of trillions of beneficial microbes. Since I was applying 2,000 ounces to my garden, that's a lot of microbes! While that provided some benefit, I was still disappointed with the results.

    What I learned from that experience is that these microbes need a home to hang out in, live and multiply. Without a proper home they simply die, soon after being applied. As it turns out, Biochar fits the bill perfectly.

    Shortly after this interview initially ran I applied biochar to my property and I now have a deep, rich topsoil with wonderful edible landscape. Biochar is created by slowly burning biomass like wood chips, corn stalks, coconut shells or any similar organic material in a low-oxygen environment, such as a kiln.

    When burned this way, the carbon in the organic material is not released into the atmosphere as CO2; rather, it traps the carbon and forms a type of charcoal that has a reef-like structure, which serves as a magnificent microbial home. Besides providing excellent living quarters for soil microorganisms, Biochar also has a number of other benefits, including:

    1. Returning much of the depleted carbon to the soil (carbon sequestration), where it can remain for hundreds or even thousands of years
    2. Improving overall soil quality and fertility
    3. Raising the soil's water retention ability
    4. Potentially helping to "filter" toxic chemicals in the soil, much like carbon-based water filtration systems can filter toxins out of your water

    Biochar Strongly Supports Plant Growth

    The introduction of Biochar into soil is not like applying fertilizer; rather, it's the beginning of a process — most of the benefit is achieved through the activity of the microbes and fungi that take up residence in the treated soil. They colonize its massive surface area and integrate into the char and the surrounding soil, dramatically increasing the soil's ability to nurture plant growth.

    One of the major benefits of Biochar is that it is highly stable and typically lasts for many centuries, if not longer, so it is one soil amendment that does not need to be regularly applied. In this respect, it is far superior to wood chips. As explained in a recent Ecologist2 article, research shows Biochar can more than double a plant's yield! The researchers also discovered the "how" behind this remarkable result. As reported in the article:

    "They also tracked for the first time the changes in genetic expression that followed from applying biochar. The response of more than 10,000 genes was followed simultaneously, and two growth promoting plant hormones — brassinosteroids and auxins, together with their signaling molecules — were stimulated by the biochar.

    Professor Taylor said: 'Our findings provide the very first insight into how biochar stimulates plant growth — we now know that cell expansion is stimulated in roots and leaves alike and this appears to be the consequence of a complex signaling network that is focused around two plant growth hormones.'"

    Urban Gardening Is the Answer to Many of Our Problems

    There's no doubt that urban gardening is an important step toward building a more sustainable food system. In fact, I've been encouraging everyone to plant a "Victory Garden" as a proactive step toward fixing our broken food system and improving your health. Victory Gardens are named after the gardens that people were encouraged to plant in their back yards and in parks and other public places during World Wars I and II.

    As a result, in 1944, 40 percent of the produce grown in the U.S. was in people's backyards. I really think it's possible to catalyze a similar movement for a different purpose. The new reality is that for most people, it is very difficult to obtain high-quality, nutrient-dense foods unless you grow them yourself.

    Food grown in your own garden is overall fresher, more nutritious and tastes better than store-bought food — and you can't beat the price. Urban gardens are also key to saving energy, protecting water quality and topsoil, and promoting biodiversity and beautifying densely populated communities. It may even be the U-turn we need to rein in out-of-control rates of depression, much of which may be rooted in the feeling of being disconnected from nature, and hence disconnected from our own selves.

    According to a survey by Gardeners' World Magazine, 80 percent of gardeners reported being "happy" and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners. Monty Don, a British TV presenter and garden writer, attributes the wellbeing of gardeners to the "recharging" you get from sticking your hands in the soil and spending time outdoors in nature.

    This seems more than reasonable when you consider the health benefits associated with grounding, also known as earthing. As detailed in the documentary film "Grounded," the surface of the Earth holds subtle health-boosting energy, and all you have to do is touch it.

    Walking barefoot on the Earth transfers free electrons from the Earth's surface into your body that spread throughout your tissues. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep and enhance your wellbeing. Many a gardener will attest to the sense of wellbeing obtained from sticking your hands in the dirt as well, and this is separate from the pleasure of accomplishment that comes from eating your own home-grown food.

    Basic Biochar Guidelines

    If you're planning on starting a garden, I heartily endorse Biochar. You just need to make sure it is activated by either combining it with compost, rock dust powder or my favorite, human urine. Urine is a phenomenal source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and will bind strongly to the carbon in the Biochar rather than draining away.

    The nitrogen balances the carbon in the Biochar and serves as food for the microbes, which in turn feed the plant for the long term. A friend of mine did this last year in his garden and his plants produced so many vegetables they almost seemed like mutants.

    Wetting the Biochar is also important to promote beneficial earthworms. One 2011 study3 found that earthworms tend to avoid dry Biochar, but that wetting the char resulted in "statistically undetectable avoidance." According to the authors:

    "[I]nsufficient moisture could be a key factor affecting earthworm behavior in soil amended with dry biochar. To avoid desiccation of invertebrates and enable their beneficial ecosystem services, we recommend wetting biochar either before or immediately after soil application."

    You can certainly add Biochar to existing plants, shrubs and trees but, ideally, it's best if it's in the soil prior to planting, so the plants have an ideal form of nutrition early on. If you have a small garden, you might need only a few hundred pounds. Larger landscapes will require more.

    Gardeners Beware: Pesticides Also Kill Off Beneficial Earthworms

    Getting back to earthworms for a brief moment, these creepy crawlers also play an important role in maintaining the health of the soil. Pesticides, which are commonly sprayed on crops to protect them against being ravaged by pests, also have a devastating effect on earthworms living beneath the soil, which is yet another reason to avoid chemical gardening.

    Research shows that earthworms exposed to pesticides grow to only half their normal weight. Since pesticide exposure also has a detrimental impact on their ability to reproduce, untreated soils can contain as much as two to three times as many earthworms as treated soils. As reported by the Cornucopia Institute:4

    "Pesticides have a direct impact on the physiology and behavior of earthworms, a Danish/French research team reports after having studied earthworms that were exposed to pesticides over generations. 'We see that the worms have developed methods to detoxify themselves, so that they can live in soil sprayed with fungicide.

    They spend a lot of energy on detoxifying, and that comes with a cost: The worms do not reach the same size as other worms, and we see that there are fewer of them in sprayed soil. An explanation could be that they are less successful at reproducing, because they spend their energy on ridding themselves of the pesticide,' the researchers, Ph.D. student Nicolas Givaudan and associate professor, Claudia Wiegand, say."

    Working WITH Nature Rather Than Against It: That's the Future of Farming

    Researchers are increasingly starting to recognize gut microbiota as one of your most unappreciated "organs."5 It may even be more appropriate to view your body as a "super organism" composed of symbiotic microorganisms. Probiotics are even becoming widely accepted and adopted in the conventional medical community to support health.

    In soil, we have a very similar process. The health of the plants and those who eat those plants all stand to benefit from the optimization of soil microbiology. Optimizing soil biology also strengthens plants against pest infestations without having to resort to chemical warfare that kills far more than the insects they're designed to destroy.

    Research shows that there's constant communication going on between plants via the rhizosphere (root ball). Plants "talk" to one another through aerial emissions — the volatile gasses they emit — and also through the mycelial networks in the soil. This is a major insight that deepens our understanding of the importance of nurturing and maintaining healthy soil microbiomes.

    It also explains why you don't really need synthetic chemicals to grow large amounts of food. On the contrary, the chemicals used in modern agriculture are killing the very foundation of health — the microbiomes in the soil. In short, if you support and nurture the microbiome in soil, it in turn will provide you with good nutrition and optimal health through the food grown in it. As noted by Documentary Storm:

    "A sustainable permaculture revolution is at hand as a solution to earth's mistreatment and the unwillingness of the U.S. government to protect its citizens from agribusiness giants ...

    When the burden of proof is in the hands of the affected to prove the food-like products are negatively affecting their health, the safest thing to do is grow the most nutritious food we can at the smallest expense in order to push these food-like products out of market. Paul's garden is an example of sustainable permaculture at its best."

    About the Directors

    I believe in bringing quality to my readers, which is why I wanted to share some information about Dana Richardson and Sarah Zentz, producers and directors of "Back to Eden." We sat down with Dana and Sarah to learn a little more about what goes in to making these films. Thank you to Dana and Sarah for sharing with us.

    What was your inspiration for making this film?

    I​n 2010 we heard a story about Paul Gautschi, a gardener who practiced a no-till, non-GMO, organic gardening method that was capable of being implemented in diverse climates and soil conditions around the world. At that time, awareness was increasing about GMO​s​ and ​the impacts of​ conventional farming​ practices​ on the health and wellness of our bodies and the environment.

    We knew that Paul's organic gardening method was a simple, sustainable solution​ to the global food crisis​ that needed to be documented and shared with the world.

    Our goal was to create a visually engaging and educational documentary that taught people around the world how to grow a "Back to Eden Garden" and thus reap the abundant harvest and numerous health benefits of Paul Gautschi's organic gardening method. 

    What was your favorite part of making this film?

    Meeting Paul Gautschi was a life-changing experience. On a daily basis we walked with Paul in his gardens and orchards, experienced eating the sweetest tasting fruits and vegetables, learned how to grow our own organic food, and were immeasurably blessed by his incredible knowledge and generous spirit.

    Where do the proceeds to your film go?

    If you buy the film through our website www.backtoedenfilm.com, the proceeds go directly ​toward spreading the message of Back to Eden gardening around the world

    >>>>> Click Here <<<<<

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  • What Happens to Your Leftover Bar of Hotel Soap?
    published on April 21st, 2017 at 03:29 PM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease and reduce your risk of infectious illness. In the U.S. and other developed countries, it's easy to take a bar of soap for granted, but not everyone has ready access to this life-saving commodity.

    This is particularly atrocious because in the U.S., where one-third of the world's soap is used, there are 4.6 million hotel rooms. And what comes with each of those hotel rooms?

    At least one bar of soap. Most people do not use up the entire bar of soap during their hotel stay and simply leave the unused portion behind.

    Have you ever wondered what happens to that leftover soap? It often gets thrown away. The Global Soap Project estimates that the U.S. hotel industry throws away 2.6 million bars of soap daily.1

    It's an unspeakable waste but one that the charity Clean the World, which partners with the Global Soap Project, is making a dent in via their soap recycling program.

    The recycling, which ends up costing hotels just 75 cents per room a month, allows leftover soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner to be melted down, sterilized and formed into new soap that is sent all over the world.2

    Soap Is a Lifesaver

    Lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) contributes to two of the three leading causes of death in children 5 and under in the developing world: pneumonia and diarrhea — both of which can be reduced with access to soap.3

    In fact, according to the Global Soap Project, washing hands with soap reduces the risk of pneumonia in children by nearly 50 percent. Further, they estimate that 1.4 million deaths could be prevented every year just by handwashing with soap. They explain:4

    "Handwashing with soap is the single most effective way to prevent those deaths. In fact, soap is more effective than vaccines, medications or clean water initiatives alone.

    Research has shown that soap can reduce diarrheal disease by nearly one-half and rates of respiratory infection by about one-quarter."

    Since 2009, Clean the World has sent 40 million bars of soap to 115 countries, saving an untold number of lives in return.5 They're working to not only increase soap in schools around the globe, which could result in 1.9 billion school days gained, but also to provide soap to health care facilities and communities.

    They note that 35 percent of health care facilities in low-and middle-income countries do not have soap and water for handwashing. This allows infections to spread readily, including to mothers and newborns during childbirth. According to Clean the World:6

    "In 2013, more than 2.7 million newborns did not survive a month, and 99 percent of these neonatal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. However, 1 in 5 newborn deaths could be prevented with safe water, sanitation and clean hands."

    How the Hotel Soap Recycling Program Works

    About 4,000 hotels have partnered with Clean the World to recycle the leftover soap products from their hotel rooms. As CNN reported:7

    "The recycling process is simple. Clean the World provides collection materials, training and packaging to a hotel's housekeeping staff. The staff then collects soap, shampoo, conditioner and body washes and ships it all to the charity's recycling centers."

    The organization has hotel partners in all 50 U.S. states and Canada, including major hotel chains, Bed & Breakfasts and timeshares. If you want to choose your lodging needs when traveling accordingly, you can view an interactive map of Clean the World's hospitality industry recycling partners.

    The impact of this recycling program is striking. The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, for instance, has contributed more than 103,000 pounds of soap, while Disney World's Port Orleans Resort in Orlando, Florida, has recycled more than 82,600 pounds — that's the equivalent of about 550,000 and 440,683 bars of soap, respectively.8

    Even the eight-room Ivy Lodge in Newport Rhode Island has contributed 325 pounds, or 1,732 bars, of soap, proving that even small outlets can make a big difference. Clean the World also distributes hygiene kits to those in need in the U.S. and is planning to expand to China and the Middle East. Founder Shawn Seipler told CNN:9

    "This year [2017] we had $20 million combined revenue and 70 global team members. We were in a garage eight years ago. That is a real testament to the hospitality industry and their commitment to making an impact."

    The Value of a Bar of Soap

    When you consider the many deadly diseases that can be prevented with a bar of soap, its value becomes priceless. According to the CDC, in lower income countries, access to soap is limited, and even when it is available it's typically used for laundry and bathing, not necessarily handwashing.10

    Efforts are underway to spread awareness about the importance of using soap for the purpose of washing hands. The World Health Organization notes:11

    "Using proper toilets and hand washing — preferably with soap — prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta which otherwise contaminate water resources, soil and food.

    This contamination is a major cause of diarrhea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis and trachoma [the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide]."

    Worldwide, the CDC also reports that washing hands with soap and water could cut deaths associated with diarrhea by up to half while reducing the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent.12

    Research published in The Lancet further placed "the potential number of diarrhea deaths that could be averted by handwashing at about a million (1.1 million; lower estimate 0.5 million; upper estimate 1.4 million)."13

    When researchers looked specifically at the effect of promoting household handwashing with soap among children at the highest risk of death from diarrhea, they found that it led to a 53 percent lower incidence of diarrhea among children 15 years and under.14

    Among infants, the handwashing promotion and soap led to 39 percent fewer days with diarrhea, and severely malnourished children also benefited, experiencing 42 percent fewer days with diarrhea.

    Instilling the Importance of Handwashing in the US

    Perhaps surprisingly, in the U.S., where soap is generally not hard to come by, less than half of people wash their hands after using the toilet.15

    Further, even those who do may not be doing so correctly. In a study of more than 3,700 bathroom-goers in a college town, only 5 percent washed their hands properly, in a way that would kill infection and illness-causing germs.16

    Among the rest, 33 percent didn't even use soap and 10 percent neglected to wash their hands at all after using the restroom. Others did not wash their hands long enough to be effective at removing germs.

    There were some trends noted, too. Older generations typically washed their hands more frequently, and for longer, than younger generations, and women tended to wash their hands more often, and more effectively, than men.

    Still, the study suggests that a lot of people — the majority — are receiving a false sense of security when they wash their hands, believing them to be clean when in fact they've done little to actually remove the germs. Even among health care workers, it's estimated that proper handwashing is carried out less than half of the time it should be.17

    How to Wash Your Hands Effectively

    If you have regular access to soap, consider yourself lucky — and take a few moments to learn how to get the most from washing with it. To make sure you're actually removing the germs when you wash your hands, follow these guidelines:

    1. Use warm, running water and a mild soap (avoid antibacterial soap)
    2. Work up a good lather, all the way up to your wrists, scrubbing for at least 15 or 20 seconds (most people only wash for about 6 seconds)
    3. Make sure you cover all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers, and around and below your fingernails
    4. Rinse thoroughly under running water
    5. In public places, use a paper towel to open the door as a protection from germs that the handles may harbor

    Since your skin is one of your primary defenses against bacteria, resist the urge to become obsessive about washing your hands. If you wash them too harshly or too frequently, you can extract many of the protective oils in your skin, which can cause your skin to crack and potentially even bleed, which could invite infection. So how often should you wash your hands? Use commonsense, but for additional advice the CDC recommends:18

    Before, during and after preparing food

    Before eating food

    Before and after treating a cut or wound

    After using the toilet

    After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

    After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste

    After touching garbage

    After handling pet food or pet treats

    After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

    Before and after caring for someone who is sick

    If you're interested in helping Clean the World's soap recycling project, they will help you to organize a fundraiser or awareness campaign, as they don't accept soap donations from individuals or small groups. At the very least, check into participating lodging partners when you travel, so you'll know the bar of soap you leave behind will be put to good use instead of tossed in the trash.

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