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

  • Declare a War on Waste!
    published on August 18th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The second installment of a documentary TV series "Hugh's War on Waste" highlights one man's attempt to spearhead radical change throughout the U.K. related to food and clothing waste. Host of the BBC One show launched in 2015, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, an English celebrity chef, broadcaster, writer and environmental activist, suggests that farmers, retailers and consumers all contribute to the tons of waste occurring across the U.K. every day.

    Fearnley-Whittingstall asserts Britons throw away about one-third of all the food produced within its borders. Moreover, 20 percent of the crops grown in the U.K. never get eaten because quality standards in supermarkets call for the wholesale rejection of fruits and vegetables that are not "absolutely perfect" in terms of size, shape and appearance.

    Because "Hugh's War on Waste" has stirred a global "Waste Not" movement, I invite you to take this opportunity to consider how you can be a more conscious consumer. If you routinely throw away half-eaten meals and perfectly useable clothing, or frequently toss food because it spoils before you made a plan to eat it, this documentary is for you!

    Grocers Discard Massive Amounts of Edible Food

    Fearnley-Whittingstall points out that Britons purchase more than 40 million tons of food annually, which, for the most part, is channeled through seven supermarkets, including the five largest (based on sales volume): Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose (which is owned by John Lewis).1 His "War on Waste" campaign targets these big retailers, most of whom claim on their websites that food waste is not an issue.

    In fact, Sainsbury's and Tesco claimed they were doing everything they could to ensure food that was still suitable for human consumption was getting to people in need. However, after going "dumpster diving" at two prominent retailers, Fearnley-Whittingstall was shocked to discover just how much edible food was, in reality, being liberally tossed out by grocery stores. About the late-night discovery of massive food waste at one Waitrose store, he said:

    "This branch of Waitrose has binned hundreds of pounds worth of perfectly good food tonight, but that's not something they'll be admitting to their customers. Here's what it says on the Waitrose website: 'Surplus food that is fit for consumption is donated to local charities.'

    That's the front-facing message Waitrose is putting out to all their customers about their food-waste policy, and I think it's flawed… Either they are deliberately misleading their customers or Waitrose doesn't know what's happening in their stores."

    Waste Less, Save More

    Armed with the video footage, Fearnley-Whittingstall arranged a meeting with Quentin Clark, head of sustainability at Waitrose. Prior to seeing the video evidence, Clark claimed Waitrose follows a three-step process for handling edible food it deems to be no longer sellable:

    1. Promote the item to customers at a reduced price
    2. Offer the item to employees at a further-reduced price
    3. Donate the item to local charitable organizations within the local community

    When Clark was shown highlights of the dumpster-diving excursion, he seemed genuinely surprised at the amount of edible food that had been tossed at the Waitrose store in Old Sodbury. Responding on camera, he stated, "Our commitment is that we don't want any food fit for human consumption to be disposed of."

    After further discussion, Clark agreed Waitrose had work to do to refresh its corporate policy on the handling of food waste. He added, "We are not intending to deliberately deceive … because we don't want food that should be eaten to not be eaten."

    In 2016, supermarket giant Sainsbury launched its "Waste Less, Save More" program, a five-year plan aimed at helping customers save money by reducing waste. The initial plan was to get customers to reduce waste by 50 percent. Alas, by the end of the first year, it became clear this goal would not be met, and the supermarket chain ended up scaling back its expectations.2 Turns out behavior is more difficult to change than expected.

    Introducing Waste-Not, Want-Not Cafes and Food-Waste Warehouses

    Even before the production of the documentary, resourceful people were recovering wasted food from the garbage bins of local grocery stores and repurposing it. Among them were Catie Jarman and Sam Joseph, owners of a Bristol pop-up café called Skipchen — a name combining "skip," which is the British word for a large-topped waste container and "chen," from the word "kitchen."

    At the time of filming, Skipchen had been serving reclaimed food to its customers for months using a "pay-as-you-feel" business model. To get a firsthand look at the waste, Fearnley-Whittingstall accompanied Jarman and Joseph on one of their late-night visits to Tesco and Waitrose stores. As usual, they plundered skips that were chockfull of bottled drinks, bread, candy, fruit, meat, vegetables and other edible fare.

    Jarman and Joseph estimate they have fed some 25,000 people during the past seven years with the bread, meat, produce and other items they have reclaimed on their middle-of-the-night scavenging rounds. At the time of filming, Skipchen, which is affiliated with the Real Junk Food Project, was one of about 10 "waste-not, want-not" cafes scattered across the U.K.

    These food-waste restaurants offer quality meals at prices determined by the customer, based on what he or she can afford.3 According to The Independent, the U.K.'s first food-waste supermarket opened last year in Pudsey, near Leeds — another brainchild of the Real Junk Food Project:4

    "Food-waste campaigners from the Real Junk Food Project have opened 'the warehouse' … Customers are invited to shop for food thrown out by supermarkets and other businesses. The food is priced on a 'pay as you feel' basis, and has already helped desperate families struggling to feed their children."

    Adam Smith, founder of the Real Junk Food Project, hopes to open similar warehouses in cities across the U.K. "Every city will now obtain central storage and run a 'people's supermarket,' as well as Fuel for School," he said. Fuel for School is a project that delivers surplus bread, dairy products, fruit and vegetables from local supermarkets to schools, where it helps to feed some 12,000 students each week.5

    Charitable Organizations Step in to Redistribute Excess Food

    Continuing his investigation into retail food waste, Fearnley-Whittingstall interviewed Lindsay Boswell, chief executive officer of FareShare, a charity that has as its mission to redirect food waste to community groups that provide meals to people in need. Boswell suggested large retailers prefer oversupply to undersupply as a strategy for keeping customers happy.

    He said: "The biggest crime in the food industry is to not be able to meet demand, and that starts when you and I walk into a supermarket. If the shelf is bare, we'll go to their rival." As a result, most stores purchase excessive amounts of food that often goes to waste before it can be sold. Stated Fearnley-Whittingstall, "As long as overproduction is the cornerstone of the supermarket business model, there will always be perfectly good food going to waste."

    In 2016, FareShare rescued 13.5 tons of wasted food while supporting more than 6,700 charities, which combined serve an estimated 28.6 million meals to people in need.6

    A report7 issued by the Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP), a U.K. charity focused on waste reduction and sustainability, indicated nearly 2 million tons of food is wasted in the nation's grocery supply chain annually. In 2015, only 47,000 tons of the 270,000 tons of potentially available, edible food waste was passed on to organizations that redistributed it.

    Boswell believes the WRAP figure is understated, suggesting, "as much as 400,000 tons of good, in-date surplus food could be redistributed to feed people each year."8 He says his goal is to increase the amount of wasted food FareShare saves from just 2 percent to 25 percent. Clearly, there is more work to do.

    The Quest for Aesthetically-Pleasing Fruits and Vegetables

    Fearnley-Whittingstall visited a family farm in Norfolk where 20 tons of parsnips had been deemed unsellable for purely cosmetic reasons. The family had been supplying parsnips to Morrisons since the 1980s, but was forced out of business due to, in their opinion, unreasonable demands placed on them by the corporation. Fearnley-Whittingstall commented:

    "The idea a parsnip should be selected under some kind of beauty-contest rules is absurd. Often you are talking about a size variation of a couple of millimeters, and this is the sole basis on which edible produce is being rejected."

    In support of their strict cosmetic standards, supermarket chains around the globe have long claimed consumers won't buy unshapely produce. In the movie, two corporate executives from Morrisons, which has nearly 500 stores across the U.K., balked at the idea of displaying less-than-perfect produce. One executive stated:

    "The thing is, customers look at a product that is scarred or oddly shaped and think, 'I don't want to buy that product.' The worst thing would be to move the problem with unsightly produce that exists on the farm into our supermarkets."

    The Crooked Veggie Campaign

    After the documentary aired, Asda, the U.K.'s third-largest grocery-store chain, launched a variety of "wonky (crooked) vegetables" under the label of "Beautiful on the Inside." Waitrose also experimented with selling imperfect produce, including knobby tomatoes that, in the past, would not have been deemed acceptable.

    Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has little fondness for what he dubs "the industrial food machine," declares he is tired of powerful manufacturers and retailers dictating the nation's food standards. He told Saga Magazine:9

    "Grow a carrot that doesn't look sufficiently carroty — one that might have a minuscule deviation from the approved elongated orange triangle — and it will never see a supermarket shelf. Pluck a tomato you couldn't mistake for a billiard ball, and the chances are you will be stuck with it."

    Tristram Stuart, an expert on the environmental and social impacts of food waste, who has been investigating the hidden world of supermarket waste for years and was interviewed by Fearnley-Whittingstall for the film, said:

    "Every farmer I speak to is resentful of the waste they experience. They grow the food throughout the year, and then they see it rot in their fields when orders and standards change unexpectedly. But they can't do anything about it because, if they complain against the supermarkets, they risk losing their business."

    10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

    According to Fearnley-Whittingstall, "On average, U.K. families throw away a shocking £700 ($912) of perfectly good food every year — often because they've simply bought too much in the first place." The most-wasted fresh foods, he states, are bread, fruit, milk, potatoes and salad.10 The Mirror suggests 24 million slices of bread, 1.5 million sausages and 1.1 million eggs are being dumped every day.11

    Besides being mindful while you are shopping, below are 10 tips you can apply to your life today to help you reduce food waste. Several of these tips were actively promoted in the documentary.

    Shop wisely 

    Plan meals, use lists and avoid impulse purchases. Says Fearnley-Whittingstall, "It's hard to beat the discipline of a good old-fashioned shopping list: Plan ahead and then stick with the program."12

    Buy local

    Locally produced foods are fresher, can be kept longer and leave a smaller ecological footprint.

    Buy imperfect fruits and vegetables

    Rather than searching for the perfect specimens, don't be afraid to buy fruits and vegetables containing blemishes or bruises.

    Get educated about dates

    Use-by and best-by dates are manufacturer suggestions and may not necessarily correlate to the item being unsafe for consumption. In fact, many foods are safe and consumable well after their use-by date. Apply common sense, and use your eyes and nose to assess if something is safe to eat. Check out some tips on handling moldy food items.

    Freeze food

    Instead of letting food spoil, freeze it before it has a chance to go bad. Freezing overripe fruit, for example, is the first step in transforming it into juice pops or homemade sorbet.

    Store fresh food properly

    Retain fresh fruits and vegetables in their original packaging and avoid washing them until you are ready to eat them. Also, to prevent oxygen from accelerating decay, press or squeeze excess air out of the bag before securing it with a twist tie or zipper-type seal.

    Consider juicing

    Juicing is an excellent way to finish up aging produce while improving your health and managing your weight at the same time.

    Choose smaller portions

    When you prepare larger meals at home, be sure to have a plan for eating or freezing the leftovers. At restaurants, ask about half-portions, which are often available upon request and sometimes even at a reduced price.

    Eat your leftovers

    Change your mindset about eating leftovers at home, and order only what you can reasonably eat at restaurants, particularly if your usual habit is to bring leftovers home but not eat them. About cooking with leftovers, Fearnley-Whittingstall said, "[It] isn't just about making do — in my experience, meals made from bits and pieces ferreted from the fridge are often the most satisfying and delicious of all."13

    Compost food scraps

    Composting food scraps, including any wasted food, returns nutrients to the soil and reduces organic waste in landfills.

    Clothing: Another Huge Area of Unnecessary Waste

    As he went snooping through garbage cans around the U.K. as part of his investigative efforts related to the movie, Fearnley-Whittingstall was quite surprised by the amount of perfectly decent clothes that were being discarded. He noted:

    "We're binning over £150 million ($195.4 million) worth of clothes every year, and they end up either being incinerated or buried in a landfill. Clothes are cheaper than they've ever been, and on average we own four times more garments than we did 30 years ago. A lot of people go clothes shopping these days not because they need new clothes, but because it makes them feel good."

    In the course of his exploration into why so many wearable clothes were being indiscriminately tossed, Fearnley-Whittingstall interviewed several teenagers about their clothing preferences and shopping habits.

    He was shocked to learn about vlogs, or video blogs, focused on the "high" achieved from what could only be described as an addiction to clothes shopping. He readily admitted he had never heard of vloggers such as Patricia Bright, Tanya Burr or Zoella, who show off and chat about their latest purchases via YouTube for millions of loyal and adoring fans.

    Cheap 'Fast Fashion' Encourages Shopping Addiction

    Fearnley-Whittingstall believes these vloggers are "part of a turbo-charged fashion industry that seems hellbent on persuading you to buy more than you need." Because clothes are so cheap, he suggests, you may not think twice about throwing them away to make room for more. One teen shopaholic said:

    "About every two weeks, I go for a big shop. There's no need to buy as much as I buy, but I like it. I don't regret spending money. I just think, 'Oh, like, I'm happy now that I've bought myself something.'"

    Realizing he could do little to influence the nation's love affair with fashion, Fearnley-Whittingstall hoped simply to make people more aware of the options they have when it comes to clothes they no longer want. In dramatic fashion, he dumped a pile of 10,000 individual clothing items, weighing a whopping combined total of 7 tons, in the middle of a busy shopping mall.

    The crowd that gathered around, and later picked through the pile as part of a free clothing giveaway, had trouble guessing how long it takes the whole of Britain to throw away that amount of clothing. Guesses ranged from one week to several days or just a few hours. The crowd was shocked to learn it takes just 10 minutes! The cost of such gross waste has far-reaching effects. Says Fearnley-Whittingstall:

    "When you throw this stuff away, you throw away all the work that's gone into them and all the resources, the water, the oil, the energy, the machines and the human labor. That all goes in the garbage, too. Chucking away clothes at our current rate is clearly an environmental disaster."

    How You Can Help in the Battle Against Waste

    "Hugh's War on Waste," which is fueled by Fearnley-Whittingstall's inquisitive nature and confrontational personality, hits on important topics that are worthy of serious consideration at a macro level, but even more importantly, at a personal level. Each of us must face the reality that our habits and lifestyle choices, without a doubt, affect the environment and people around us. Food waste, for example, is a serious issue — not just in the U.K., but worldwide.

    It's unnecessary for people to go hungry while others waste pounds of good, edible food that is readily available. It makes no sense for surplus food to be trashed when it could easily be redistributed to charitable organizations in the local community. Like Fearnley-Whittingstall, I believe large grocery store chains and food conglomerates should be held accountable for their part of the waste equation.

    I would encourage you to assess your own waste patterns. To get started, choose one or two of the food-waste tips shown above and begin today to make positive changes in how you handle food.

    You might also consider checking with your local grocery store to find out what they do with surplus and expired food. Most certainly there is a food pantry, homeless shelter or soup kitchen that could benefit from donated food items. Everyone deserves access to healthy food, and you may be able to help make a connection to ensure the availability of food to those who are in need. For more information and ideas, check out "Hugh's War on Waste" and the "Waste Not" campaign on Facebook14,15 or Twitter.16,17

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  • Just Dump Your Smelly Sponge
    published on August 18th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    What common household item has around 362 different species of bacteria residing inside it? You’ve probably already guessed from the title it’s your average, everyday kitchen sponge, but did you know killing those little critters takes more than a few minutes in a microwave, as per some of the latest “kitchen hacks” advice?

    It seems that nuking (microwaving) used sponges does kill some of the bacteria, but not the worst ones, according to a study published in Scientific Reports and titled “Microbiome analysis and confocal microscopy of used kitchen sponges reveal massive colonization.”1 The study explains something previous research has missed; namely, that a used kitchen sponge generally carries not just a lot of germs, but a lot of different species of germs. As The New York Times asserts:

    “It may nuke the weak ones, but the strongest, smelliest and potentially pathogenic bacteria will survive. Then, they will reproduce and occupy the vacant real estate of the dead. And your sponge will just be stinkier and nastier and you may come to regret having not just tossed it.”2

    There are bacteria, then there are pathogens, which Science Daily describes as “a biological agent that causes disease or illness.”3

    Kitchen Sponge Microbiome: Yikes

    In the study, a research team led by Markus Egert, a microbiologist at the University of Furtwangen in Germany, examined the DNA and RNA in samples from 14 used sponges and found 362 bacteria species. Besides the surprise of that, the researchers were flummoxed by the density of all those microbes jammed into such a tiny space. In total, about 82 billion bacteria inhabited a single cubic inch of sponge.

    The scientists used a few different tools to detect the different bacteria types, including fluorescence and laser microscopy. Not all the sponges were old or loaded with food particles, and some had been “cleaned.”

    With what we know about bacteria, it’s no surprise that they love hanging out in used sponges, what with all the raw chicken juice, seafood and other random food bits, not to mention whatever germs might be on food packaging handled by people who haven’t washed their hands. Such cross-contamination is a leading cause of foodborne disease.

    And people often use sponges to wipe down the kitchen sink, refrigerators, cutting boards, can openers, garbage pails and countertops, the last of which is the recipient of everything from grocery bags to kids’ toys to your cellphone. These items may have come into previous contact with your bathroom sink, the floor of your car and your neighbor kid’s mouth.

    Part of the problem with sponges in particular is that they’re generally held under a faucet of warm to hot running water, which simply jump-starts additional bacteria, as the moisture and warmth creates the perfect living environment for them. One of the worst is a particularly prolific microbe called Moraxella osloensis, which lives on human skin and can cause infections in people with weak immune systems.

    That nasty dirty-laundry smell is often caused by these bacteria, as is the mildew-meets-microbe odor you may smell the moment you walk toward your kitchen sink. Other dirty-sponge bacteria generally include E. coli, campylobacter (which is the main cause of many types of diarrhea), Enterobacter cloacae, Klebsiella (which can cause pneumonia), Proteus (a common cause of urinary tract infections), salmonella and staphylococcus, Fox 8 Cleveland4 reports.

    Your Kitchen Sponge Contains More Germs Than Your Toilet

    As it turned out, the 14 sponges the scientists used in their research ended up containing more bacteria than your average toilet. In fact, a Forbes article asks, “Do you wash your dishes in the toilet?” Of course, not all toilets are the same, just as not all sponges are the same.

    It has everything to do with how long they’ve been used, and by whom and for what. But here’s the kicker: Egert equated the number of bacteria with that of human stool samples and commented, “There are probably no other places on earth with such high bacterial densities.”5

    Back to equating your kitchen sponge’s dirty innards with that of your toilet’s, it may seem a little harsh since you don’t (presumably) actually poop in your kitchen sink. Further studies show that many people don’t wash their hands correctly, or as often as they think they do. In addition, your kitchen, being the hub of the house, is the room most frequented by friends and family, and along with them, their germs.

    Thrift: It Only Works When It Does

    There’s an old saying: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” That’s true much of the time, but it doesn’t make sense to keep nuking your sponges if it’s not killing potentially illness-causing bacteria. People who take their thrifty nature seriously often do what they can to save money, so they pride themselves on such steps as washing out their sponge and placing it in the microwave on high for a few minutes, believing it will disinfect it.

    You may also do this is you’re environmentally conscious and looking to avoid or reduce waste. However, while the sponge may smell a little better, that doesn’t mean it’s done the job, the scientists add.

    “The odor is a compound produced by the bacterium’s metabolism. It eats fat. It excretes fat. And that fatty excrement stinks … Disinfecting it, as many have tried, does not necessarily work.

    You can microwave a sponge, throw it in the laundry or dishwasher, douse it in vinegar or other cleansing solutions or even cook it in a pot. But the researchers discovered more of the potentially pathogenic bacteria, like Moraxella osloensis, on the sponges collected from people who said they routinely disinfected them.”6

    To reiterate, the problem is that the bacteria actually gets worse when the sponge is microwaved. If it can’t be cleaned completely, it’s best to bite the bullet and get a new sponge, especially, Egert says, “if it starts to move.”7

    If you just can’t see pitching a sponge that seems, from appearances, to be perfectly fine, you might run it through a laundry cycle at the hottest setting with a natural powder detergent and bleach — in a load of white items, perhaps — then use it somewhere it will be less crucial for it to be pathogen free, such as the bathroom.

    Microwaves Don’t Work the Way Some People Think They Do

    Microwaves also don’t kill bacteria in food as many people think they do. The German study revealed that it’s great to have a cleaning routine, but as comfortable as you may be with it, the fact is most people aren’t cleaning their sponges as thoroughly as they think they are. In the microwave, they might not be sanitizing their sponges long enough or hot enough.

    Here’s why: Microwaving or boiling it will wipe out a significant number of the bacteria, but those said to be cleaned regularly did not have any fewer bacteria than the ones that hadn’t been cleaned at all. It’s like the old saying that you can’t read a book by its cover, aka, just because something doesn’t look dirty (read: loaded with harmful, disease-causing and along with arguably some benign microorganisms, as well) doesn’t mean it isn’t.

    Another study describes a community picnic in Juneau, Alaska, after which dozens of people took home leftover roast pork (which had been prepared and flown in from a Seattle restaurant) and reheated it. Of the 43 people who ate the leftover pork, 21 of them — 49 percent — got sick with salmonella poisoning. According to the study:

    “Of the 30 persons who ate reheated meat, all 10 who used a microwave oven became ill, compared with none of 20 who used a conventional oven or skillet … Compared with conventional methods of reheating, microwave ovens had no protective effect in preventing illness. To prevent outbreaks such as this one, care must be taken to assure that food is both properly cooked and handled and properly reheated.”8

    It should be noted that the restaurant that prepared the roast pork thawed two frozen pigs for several hours at room temperature, then cooked them in a gas-fired flame broiler. One of the pigs was left unrefrigerated for anywhere from 17 to 20 hours after being cooked.

    Microwave Your Underwear — What?

    Whether or not you’re aware, there’s a school of thought that microwaving your underwear will get rid of bacteria better than detergent and do it without exposing you to toxic agents from many of the products on the market. Is this a good idea?

    Some believe the yeast that may be lingering in undergarments need to be zapped in the microwave to be sure the microorganisms are truly and sincerely dead, but honestly is it a good idea? To get rid of potentially bacteria-ridden underwear, microwaves aren’t a good way to do it for a plethora of reasons:

    • Synthetic material in underwear could melt or even catch on fire
    • Early microwave models can leak radiation


    • A better way is to wash your undergarments separately, then tumble dry for a minimum of 30 minutes
    • Add 2 cups of 10 particles per million (ppm) of colloidal silver, an antibacterial, to the rinse cycle
    • Keep your washer clean by routinely doing an empty “load” using hot water and one-half cup of white vinegar and one-half cup of baking soda

    Recommended Steps Regarding Used Sponges

    The first thing Forbes recommends is that you wash your hands well before, during and often while busy in the kitchen doing things like flipping through your cookbook, using your phone, peeling carrots and putting dishes in the dishwasher. That’s usually how it goes in a busy kitchen.

    You’re not required to pitch the sponge you just got out yesterday (necessarily), but once a week might be good. Only you know how much you use it, and what you’ve used it for. If you used it to wipe the baby’s mouth, soaked up milk spilled from the floor and cleaned the sink drain with it, you probably have some cleaning to do. Forbes9 offers three ways to sanitize your sponges, which, as mentioned, may have varying results:

    • Boiling them
    • Microwaving
    • Soaking them in bleach — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of bleach per quart of warm — not hot — water for at least one minute

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) microwaving sponges kills 99.99999 percent of the bacteria present on them, while dishwashing kills 99.9998 percent.10 If using your microwave, Michigan State University11 advises:

    • Make sure the sponge is completely wet because otherwise it could catch fire in the microwave (or worse, explode).
    • Place the wet sponge in the microwave on high for one minute, which is sufficient to kill bacteria.
    • Be careful when removing the sponge as it will be hot. You may want to set a timer for 10 to15 minutes to give it a chance to cool before removing.

    You may be interested in knowing that getting rid of bacteria in sponges appears to work best in a lab environment and not so well in actual kitchens, Fox 8 Cleveland12 says, maybe because they’re getting a wide range of uses that some might raise their eyebrows at (but then, everybody’s germ tolerance is different).

    However, in light of the aforementioned information, you may want to use other methods. The dishwasher is another idea. Needless to say, sponges with metallic scrub pads shouldn’t be disinfected or sanitized in the microwave, so the dishwasher method works: First, use the hottest and longest cycle on your dishwasher, then use the dry cycle.

    If you ‘re just not sure, even if it appears to be OK (but especially if it doesn’t) dumping your sponge into the nearest garbage pail once a week or so and starting with a new one is your best bet (although one microbiologist advised once a month13). Not only will you be assured you’re not spreading germs all over your kitchen and to the visitors therein, it’s just a good habit to get into. Next, you probably want to take a look at your dishcloths.

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  • How to Grow Dandelion Greens
    published on August 17th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Dandelion greens are nutritious, delicious and versatile. They can be added to salads, soups and stews or sautéed and served as a side dish. What you may have only thought of as a pesky weed in your yard is actually a flowering herb with significant health benefits.

    The dandelion plant belongs to the largest plant family — the Asteraceae or sunflower family — which includes more than 22,000 species, such as daisies and thistles. The dandelion alone has more than 100 different species, all of which are beneficial to your health.1 In fact, every part of the dandelion can be used, from the roots to the leaves and flowers.

    You probably know how difficult they are to eradicate from your yard. When you mow them each week, the plant accommodates and grows a shorter stalk.2 Dandelions have become masters of survival, which is likely what makes them such successful weeds. However, while you may not want them growing in your yard, there are benefits to growing your own patch of dandelions and harvesting the greens for your table.

    History of the Dandelion Herb

    The dandelion has been embraced across cultures and centuries, but has now been branded suburban enemy No 1. An estimated 80 million pounds of chemicals are poured on yards across the U.S. to eradicate the little flowering herbs, but year after year these hardy plants return. Before the invention of lawns, however, gardeners used to weed out the grass to make room for more dandelions.

    The name of the plant originated from the French who called it "dent de lion" or tooth of the lion, as the jagged edges of the leaves are suggestive of a lion's tooth.3 Although it is native to Europe and Asia, it has been carried around the world and is probably one of the most recognizable plants worldwide. It is believed the European settlers found the plant so useful they purposefully brought the dandelion with them to the New World.

    The official botanical name for the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. The pollen from the dandelion doesn't cause allergic reactions as the grains are too large. However, the sap from the plant may cause a common contact dermatitis resulting in swelling and itching.4

    The plant is known to grow just about anywhere, but loves direct sunlight. As the flower matures it forms a familiar white puff of seeds that can float as far as 100 miles in the wind before settling into the soil and seeding yet another plot of land.5 Some outdoorsmen claim the dandelion helps them predict the weather. After the flower has gone to seed, if rain is coming the head reportedly will cover the seeds to protect the seed ball until the threat of rain has passed.6

    Plant Your Dandelion Crop in the Spring

    If you are planting your own dandelion crop, it is probably best to plant them furthest from your neighbor's yard and remove the heads before they seed. You can grow a full crop in your backyard using an inexpensive hot house that allows sun in and keeps the seeds from spreading. Even with such precautions, seed can still leave the hothouse on your clothing or on the sole of you shoes, so you'll still want to remove the heads before the seed ball forms.

    When you are starting a crop, the first seeds can be sown outside approximately four to six weeks before the last frost.7 Once they have sprouted, which takes seven to 10 days,8 you'll want to thin them so they are 6 to 8 inches apart, allowing for full growth of the greens and plenty of room for the tap root. You can choose from a variety of different dandelion plants to meet your particular needs. The Clio produces upright greens that are easy to harvest and the Ameliore is a French strain with broader leaves and a milder flavor.9

    The root of the dandelion routinely goes 18 inches deep into the soil and is an excellent way of keeping the soil from compacting.10 The root is sturdy and often has little hairy rootlets that may remain in the ground when you harvest your plants and regrow a new plant.11 Although the plants are incredibly resilient to poor conditions, the quality of nutrition you receive from the greens will depend on the quality of the soil the herb grows in.

    Dandelions thrive in full sun, but will grow in partial shade. Use soil that drains well and compost the soil in the fall to encourage a strong spring crop. You can harvest the leaves and flowers throughout the summer months. The roots are best harvested during frost-free fall months.12 Before harvesting the leaves, cover the plants with a dark opaque cloth so the leaves blanch, reducing the bitterness of the greens.13

    The blossoms should be harvested when they are young and tender, just as they have bloomed. Putting them in a bowl of cold water will prevent them from closing before you eat them.14

    Dandelions will grow problem free. You won't have to treat for pests or change planting location unless they are planted in full shade. Dandelions may also be grown in container gardens, which makes covering them to blanch the leaves, or cutting the flower when they go to seed, much easier than if they are planted in your herb garden. Containers can also be set up high to reduce the potential for back pain as you are bending to care for the plants and prevent them from seeding your lawn or your neighbor's yard.

    Dandelions Have Significant Health Benefits

    Small birds eat the seeds of the dandelion; pigs, goats and rabbits eat the flowers and the nectar is food for the honey bee.15 But, beyond a food source for wildlife, the dandelion holds an amazing amount of health benefits for you as well. There are uses in your kitchen from the root to the flower, and health benefits to each part of the plant as well. Some studies have demonstrated the greens help produce antibodies to cancer.16

    Dandelion greens are high in calcium, iron and potassium.17 They are also rich in vitamins C, A, K,18 thiamine and riboflavin,19 and surprisingly rank ahead of both broccoli and spinach in nutritional value. A full cup of chopped greens is a low 24 calories, packing more nutrition in a serving than some of the vegetables you routinely grow in your garden each year.

    The vitamins and minerals provided in your dandelion greens help prevent Alzheimer's disease, eye disorders, support your immune system and the development of strong bones and teeth. Practitioners of folk medicine have been using dandelion root and leaves for centuries to prevent and treat several health conditions. The root of the plant increases the flow of bile that may help reduce gallstones, liver congestion and inflammation and jaundice.20

    The plant has a second name, "pis-en-lit," (wet the bed) — a name that refers to the diuretic effect of its greens.21 When eaten before bed, they may require you make several trips to the bathroom during the night. Some find the leaves to have a mild laxative effect that aids in movement through your digestive tract.22 Traditionally, the root of the dandelion has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, as it has mild anti-inflammatory effects.

    Time of harvest affects the properties of the root. Fall harvest has the greatest health benefits and produces an opaque extract with higher levels of inulin and levulin, starch-like substances that may help balance your blood sugar.23 Spring and summer harvest of the root produces a less bitter product, but with less potent health benefits.

    The herb has been used by Native Americans to help heartburn and upset stomach and the Chinese have used it to improve breast milk flow and reduce inflammation in the breast during lactation.24 The Europeans used dandelion greens to help relieve fever, boils, diarrhea and diabetes. As a precautionary note, dandelions may make the side effects of lithium worse, and may increase your risk of bleeding if you are taking a blood thinner.25

    Dandelions Propagate Profusely

    Dandelions growing in the center of your yard can be harvested and eaten as long as your yard is chemical free and your neighbors don't spray. Even if your neighbors use chemical pellets to treat the yard, the chemicals migrate to the edges of your yard, so don't harvest and eat the dandelions within 10 feet of your neighbor's yard.

    You may end up with dandelions in your own yard in places where you don't want them growing. There are several ways to remove them without resorting to chemicals. Even the pellets you sprinkle across your lawn to control weeds contribute to the damage done to wildlife in your area and groundwater pollution that affects the quality of drinking water. Over 5 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually across the world.26 These chemicals affect both plant life and the birds and wildlife that feed on the vegetation.

    In most instances the chemicals are fat soluble. This means there is significant biomagnification as the chemicals remain in the insect and animal bodies and accumulate up the food chain. A conservative estimate is that 672 million birds are exposed to pesticides in the U.S. annually and 10 percent of those, or 67 million, are killed outright from ingesting the chemicals.27 The extent of the damage done long term to the bird population is difficult to estimate.

    Birds exposed to chemicals also suffer "sublethal" effects that include thinning egg shells that break under the weight of the incubating adult, hormone disruption, impaired immune systems and a lack of appetite.28 Each of these consequences severely impairs the ability of the bird to reproduce, migrate and survive.

    Birds may be particularly vulnerable as they can both mistake the pesticide pellets for seed and eat insects that are also laden with chemicals, doubling the load of pesticides they ingest.

    Children are also more vulnerable than adults as they absorb more chemicals for their size relative to adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of the toxins in their bodies. A report by Environmental and Human Health Inc. found children exposed to pesticides had a higher incidence of childhood leukemia, soft tissue sarcomas and brain cancers.29

    Some assume these chemicals are safe for use as they are sold over-the-counter, but while the Environmental Protection Agency classifies four of the more common lawn chemicals as having insufficient data to assess the impact on the development of cancer in humans, all are associated with the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S., non-Hodgkin lymphoma.30

    These chemicals don't disappear after a couple of days either. They are incorporated into the leaves of the grass eaten by insects and your pet dog. They seep into the groundwater in your neighborhood, which affects the water that eventually reaches your tap. Residue is tracked indoors on the bottom of your shoes where it accumulates in the dust in your home.

    Get Rid of Your Lawn Dandelions Naturally

    There are several ways to keep your lawn clear of dandelions without resorting to toxic chemicals. Dandelions thrive in direct sunlight so when the grass grows 3 to 4 inches tall it helps to reduce the growth of the plant. The plant won't flower until all the leaves have formed and only if there is sufficient sunlight and moisture.31 In the short time-lapsed video above you can watch one dandelion go from flower to seed ball in two days.

    You can kill the plant, and therefore not worry about the tap root producing another plant, by spraying a mixture of white vinegar, water and salt directly on the plant. This will kill the surrounding plants as well, so use a direct spray and be careful where you aim it.

    Your third option is to pull the plants from the ground, being careful to pull up the tap root from the end as any root you leave will produce another plant. Work in your yard when the ground is moist, such as after a deep watering or a long slow rain. Mother Earth News recommends three different weeders designed specifically for dandelions to help you remain chemical free.32

    Each of the weeding options allow you to work standing up to reduce strain on your lower back and knees. The prices range between $20 and $30. Using a combination of all three strategies — length of grass, spraying individual plants with vinegar and salt and pulling individual plants — may help you keep a lawn free of dandelions and even address other types of weeds. Remember to address the plant before it goes to seed, as once the seeds begin to spread, all control is lost.

    Use the Leaves, Roots and Flowers in Recipes at Home

    In this short video, a chef from the Martha Steward test kitchen demonstrates making a chick pea and dandelion salad using fresh from the garden vegetables. Using the greens in a salad is just one way to use the plant — there are many more:33,34

    Roots can be dried, ground and brewed like coffee

    Dandelion wine made from the flowers

    Flowers fried in butter

    Dry the roots, roast a 300 degrees F and grind; add to hot chocolate

    Mix greens in potato salad or egg salad

    Sautéed like spinach and added to eggs, served as a side dish or in a quiche

    Cold pickling in a salt brine; heat may destroy the delicate leaves

    Kimchi made with dandelion greens

    Flowers mixed with apple peel or orange zest and made into jam

    Roots chopped fine and stir fried

    Dandelion pumpkin seed pesto

    Dandelion blossom cookies

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  • All About Growing Cabbage
    published on August 17th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    With its high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. As a cruciferous veggie, in the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, it also contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals that break down into indoles, sulforaphane and other cancer-preventive substances.

    Different types of cabbage (red, green and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates, which suggests you should try to eat a variety of cabbage for the best health effects. Its variety is another one of cabbage's pluses — it comes in hundreds of different types and is incredibly versatile. Eaten raw, cabbage is a mainstay of cole slaw and other summer salads. It's also one of the most popular base vegetables for creating your own homemade sauerkraut.

    Cooked lightly and quickly, cabbage also makes an excellent side dish to virtually any protein source and can be seasoned in a number of different ways depending on the type of cuisine. You may be tempted to rely on your local grocery store for cabbage, but growing your own is so much more rewarding, both in terms of freshness and flavor. What's more, growing cabbage is incredibly easy, and if you time your planting right you can expect to harvest it during the summer as well as the late cold-weather season.

    Choose the Right Varieties for the Growing Season

    Cabbage is one of those vegetables that taste better after a frost. This is because as temperatures drop, the cold causes the plants to break down energy stores into sugar, leading to a sweeter, tastier flavor. Some types of cabbage can even be grown in temperatures as low as 26 degrees F.1

    Most winter veggies are planted in mid- to late summer so they are strong and ready for when the temperatures drop, and then ripe for harvest in winter or early spring. Timing this depends on how long each plant takes to reach maturity, however, and this is where choosing the proper varieties is key.

    While some cabbage plants reach maturity in 90 days, early varieties take just 60 days to reach maturity. Further, you'll probably want to plant a crop to harvest during the summer months, as well.

    As Rodale's Organic Life noted, "Cabbage thrives in cool weather. In most areas, you can plant an early crop for fresh eating and a late crop — usually the more problem free and tastier of the two — primarily for winter storage. Choose early varieties such as 'Primax' for summer harvest; midseason and late-season cultivars for storage."2 Additional recommended varieties, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, include the following:3

    • "If you are planting for a fall harvest, try red or Chinese cabbage. Good varieties include 'Ruby Perfection' and 'Lei-Choy.'
    • For quick harvest time, try 'Golden Acre,' 'Primo' or 'Stonehead.'
    • 'Early Jersey Wakefield' resists splitting.
    • Disease-resistant varieties include 'Blue Vantage' and 'Cheers.'"

    Other considerations in cabbage variety include size, color and texture. With its variety of cool hues and ruffled and crinkled leaves, many people plant cabbage as much for its ornamental appeal as they do for its culinary uses. Some of the more popular varieties to consider include:4

    Savoy cabbage, which has dark green, crinkled outer leaves

    Red cabbage, which contains antioxidant anthocyanins that give it its purple color

    Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, matures quickly and has a mild flavor

    Green cabbage, which comes in a variety of sizes with differing times to maturity

    Pointed cabbage, which forms conical heads, helping to protect it from insects

    Mini cabbages, such as the "Gonzales" variety, which can be harvested when they're 6 inches in diameter, making them ideal for small gardens5

    It's Easy to Start Cabbage From Seed

    While you can purchase cabbage plants at most garden centers, it's easy to grow them yourself from seed. Start seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before your last frost of the spring for summer harvests, and 12 to 14 weeks before your first fall frost for late varieties. "Place in a sunny spot or under lights with temperatures between 60 degrees and 70 degrees F, and keep the soil uniformly moist. When daytime temperatures reach 50 degrees F and seedlings have three leaves, plant them outdoors," Rodale's Organic Life recommends. In addition, they note:6

    "Plant seedlings in the garden slightly deeper than they grew in flats. Space 6 to 12 inches apart in rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Wide spacings produce bigger heads, but young, small cabbages are tastier. To get both, plant 6 inches apart and harvest every other one before maturity. Stagger plantings at 2-week intervals for a longer harvest. tart your late crop in midsummer, sowing seeds in flats or directly in the garden. Space these seedlings farther apart than the spring crop."

    As for seeds, look for non-GMO, organic seeds or consider saving seeds from your own crop. The latter may be a challenge, as cabbage produces seed in its second year (it's a biennial crop). This means only areas with mild winters will allow the seedlings to survive through the winter and produce seeds come summer. An alternative is to transfer cabbage plants in a cool place for the purpose of harvesting seeds the next growing season, according to Mother Earth News:7

    "In colder climates, growers dig cabbage plants and move them to a cool root cellar for winter, burying the plants' roots in buckets of moist sawdust. The stored heads are trimmed and replanted in early spring."

    Cabbage Planting Tips

    A sunny, well-drained spot works best, and healthy soil will help your cabbage plants to thrive. Adding organic compost to your soil is recommended, as is a layer of mulch or wood chips to help lock in moisture. If your cabbage leaves start to yellow, adding compost tea, which is basically the liquid from compost steeped in water, to the soil as an extra feeding may boost plant growth and encourage faster maturation.8

    Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, meaning they deplete the soil of nutrients relatively quickly. Because of this, it's best to plant them apart from other heavy feeders like broccoli and cauliflower. In addition, rotate crops each year to discourage diseases. Excess water (including heavy rain) can cause cabbages to split. If you notice a split starting, or expect a heavy rain to hit, use a spade to sever the plant's roots in one or two spots, or twist the plant, pulling up slightly, to dislodge the roots.

    Both methods will slow the plant's growth, preventing splitting and bolting. If the cabbage does split, don't worry — it can still be used to make sauerkraut. As for pests, many, including harlequin bugs, slugs, snails and cabbage worms can be removed by hand (be sure to check the undersides of leaves). Damage from cutworms can be prevented by placing a "collar" made from a plastic cup around young seedlings (push it down about 1 inch into the soil). Common diseases to watch out for include the following:9

    "Black leg, a fungal disease, forms dark spots on leaves and stems. Black rot symptoms include black and foul-smelling veins. Club root prevents water and nutrient absorption. Fusarium wilt, also known as yellows, produces yellow leaves and stunted heads. Remove and destroy plants affected by these diseases. If club root has been a problem in your garden, test soil pH before planting and add ground limestone if needed to raise the pH to at least 6.8."

    Simple Harvest Tips

    When the cabbage head is firm to the touch, use a sharp knife to cut it from the stalk. Heads that don't feel firm are not yet ready for harvest. Smaller cabbage heads will often grow from the stem, provided you leave the outer leaves and roots, so don't pull it out of the ground yet. If you're not interested in encouraging a second crop to grow, the loose outer leaves can be tossed into your compost pile or eaten — it's up to you.

    Once the harvest is complete, pull the stem and root from the ground and compost the remainders (as long as the plant is healthy; avoid throwing diseases plants into your compost bin). Store cabbage in your refrigerator for two weeks or in cold storage (32 degrees to 40 degrees F) for five or six months (the latter being perfect for your winter harvest).

    If you're wondering how much cabbage to grow, Mother Earth News recommends about three cabbage plants per person for enjoying fresh and four plants per person (in addition) for storing cabbage to make sauerkraut.10 Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible, sometimes called tender-crisp, to preserve its many nutrients.

    Cabbage can also be juiced and fermented, which will provide your body with healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria and, if certain starter cultures are used, vitamin K2.

    Ready to Enjoy? Healthy Cabbage Crunch Salad

    There are many reasons to give cabbage a regular appearance at your mealtimes. It contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cabbage also contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check.

    Among them are anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol that, as mentioned, is particularly plentiful in red cabbage, although all types of cabbage contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Cabbage also contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1 and vitamin B5.

    B vitamins are not only important for energy, they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer's disease.

    If you're looking for a recipe to enjoy your cabbage raw that's a bit different than typical cole slaw recipes, try this healthy Cabbage Crunch Recipe. With fresh ginger, miso paste and ground sesame, along with both red and green cabbage, it's packed with both intense flavor and valuable nutrition.

    Ingredients (serves 6)

    • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped finely
    • 1/2 head white cabbage, chopped finely
    • 1/2 red onion, chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

    For the Dressing:

    • 1 teaspoon gomasio (ground sesame with salt)
    • 1 cup almond butter
    • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon white miso paste* (optional)


    1. Mix the cabbage with the chopped onions. Add cilantro and jalapeno.
    2. Place all the dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend briefly. Mix into salad mix and serve.

    *Can be found in the Asian aisle at the grocery store, or at an Asian market.

     Comments (62)

  • The Link Between Sugar and Depression
    published on August 16th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Foods have an immense impact on your brain, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan is the best way to support both your physical and mental health. Based on the evidence, avoiding sugar (particularly fructose) is an important prevention and treatment strategy for anxiety and depression, both of which are rising in prevalence.

    A number of studies have linked high-sugar diets to a higher risk of depression. Most recently, men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were found to be 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years compared to those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day.1,2,3

    This held true even after accounting for other contributing factors, such as socioeconomic status, exercise, alcohol use, smoking, other eating habits, body weight and general physical health. As noted by lead author Anika Knüppel,4 a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London: 5

    "Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term. People experiencing low mood may eat sugary foods in the hope of alleviating negative feelings. Our study suggests a high intake of sugary foods is more likely to have the opposite effect on mental health in the long-term."

    Other Research Showing High-Sugar Diets Promote Depression

    While the featured study could neither ascertain a mechanism for the link between sugar consumption and depression risk, nor could it establish causation, it adds support to other studies that have found the same link. For example, research6 published in 2002, which correlated per capita consumption of sugar with prevalence of major depression in six countries, found "a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and the annual rate of depression."

    A Spanish study7 published in 2011 linked depression specifically to consumption of baked goods. Those who ate the most baked goods had a 38 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate the least.

    Similarly, a 2016 study,8 summarized in the video above, found a strong link between high-sugar diets (high-glycemic foods such as processed foods, sweetened beverages and refined grains) and depression in postmenopausal women. The higher the women's dietary glycemic index, the higher their risk of depression. A diet high in whole fruit, fiber, vegetables and lactose was associated with lowered odds of depression.

    How Sugar Raises Your Depression Risk

    A number of other studies have also identified mechanisms by which excessive sugar consumption can wreak havoc with your mental health. For example, eating excessive amounts of sugar:

    Contributes to insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signaling, which play a significant role in mental health.

    Suppresses activity of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a key growth hormone that promotes healthy brain neurons. BDNF levels tend to be critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, and animal models suggest this may actually be a causative factor.

    Affects dopamine, a neurotransmitter that fuels your brain's reward system9 (hence sugar's addictive potential10,11,12) and is known to play a role in mood disorders.13

    Damages your mitochondria, which can have body-wide effects. Your mitochondria generate the vast majority of the energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) in your body. When sugar is your primary fuel, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are created, which damage cellular mitochondrial membranes and DNA.

    Needless to say, as your mitochondria are damaged, the energy currency in your body declines and your brain will struggle to work properly. Healthy dietary fats, on the other hand, create far fewer ROS and free radicals. Fats are also critical for the health of cellular membranes and many other biological functions, including and especially the functioning of your brain.

    Among the most important fats for brain function and mental health are the long-chained animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. Not only are they anti-inflammatory, but DHA is actually a component in every cell of your body, and 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA.

    Promotes chronic inflammation which, in the long term, disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system, thereby raising your risk of depression. A 2004 cross-cultural analysis14 of the relationship between diet and mental illness found a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk for depression and schizophrenia.

    It also concluded that dietary predictors of depression are similar to those for diabetes and heart disease. One of the hallmarks of these diseases is chronic inflammation, which sugar is a primary driver of. So, excessive amounts of sugar can truly set off an avalanche of negative health events — both physical and mental.

    Inflammation May Be the No. 1 Risk Factor for Depression

    Another previous study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal15 found inflammation may be more than just another risk factor. It may actually be the primary risk factor that underlies all others. According to the researchers:

    "The old paradigm described inflammation as simply one of many risk factors for depression. The new paradigm is based on more recent research that has indicated that physical and psychological stressors increase inflammation. These recent studies constitute an important shift in the depression paradigm: inflammation is not simply a risk factor; it is the risk factor that underlies all the others.

    Moreover, inflammation explains why psychosocial, behavioral and physical risk factors increase the risk of depression. This is true for depression in general and for postpartum depression in particular."

    In another study,16 the researchers suggested "depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome." Here, they refer specifically to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have also found depression is closely linked to dysfunction in the gut-brain axis, in which gut inflammation plays an important role.

    Artificial Sweeteners Are Also Strongly Associated With Depression

    Unfortunately, many are under the mistaken belief they can protect their health by swapping refined sugar for artificial sweeteners. Nothing could be further from the truth, as research suggests artificial sweeteners may actually be more detrimental to your health than regular sugar. For example:

    In a 1986 evaluation of reactions to food additives,17 aspartame (in commonly consumed amounts) was linked to mood alterations such as anxiety, agitation, irritability and depression.

    A 1993 study18 found that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to aspartame, suggesting its use in this population should be discouraged. In the clinical study, the project was halted by the Institutional Review Board after a total of 13 individuals had completed the study because of the severity of reactions within the group of patients with a history of depression.

    In 2008, researchers asserted that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders and may compromise emotional functioning.19

    Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in 2013 found that consumption of sweetened beverages — whether they're sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners — was associated with an increased risk of depression.20,21 The study included nearly 264,000 American adults over the age of 50 who were enrolled in an AARP diet and health study.

    At the outset, participants filled out a detailed dietary survey. At a 10-year follow-up, they were asked whether they'd been diagnosed with depression at any point during the past decade.

    Those who drank more than four cans or glasses of diet soda or other artificially sweetened beverages had a nearly 30 percent higher risk of depression compared to those who did not consume diet drinks. Regular soda drinkers had a 22 percent increased risk.

    To Cure Depression, Be Sure to Address Root Causes

    According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide,22,23 affecting an estimated 322 million people, including more than 16 million Americans. Globally, rates of depression increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.24 According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs. Among women in their 40 and 50s, 1 in 4 is on antidepressants.25

    While a number of different factors can contribute to depression, I'm convinced diet plays an enormous role. There's no doubt in my mind that radically reducing or eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet is a crucial step to prevent and/or address depression.

    One simple way to dramatically reduce your sugar intake is to replace processed foods with real whole foods. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower odds of depression and anxiety,26,27 an effect ascribed to antioxidants that help combat inflammation in your body. Certain nutrients are also known to cause symptoms of depression when lacking, so it's important to eat a varied whole food diet.

    Another major contributor to depression and anxiety is microwave exposure from wireless technologies, which I address below. To suggest that depression is rooted in poor diet and other lifestyle factors does not detract from the fact that it's a serious problem that needs to be addressed with compassion and non-judgment. It simply shifts the conversation about what the most appropriate answers and remedies are.

    Considering the many hazards associated with antidepressants (the efficacy of which have been repeatedly found to be right on par with placebo), it would be wise to address the known root causes of depression, which are primarily lifestyle-based. Drugs, even when they do work, do not actually fix the problem. They only mask it.

    Antidepressants may also worsen the situation, as many are associated with an increased risk of suicide, violence and worsened mental health in the long term. So, before you resort to medication, please consider addressing the lifestyle strategies listed below.

    Nondrug Solutions for Depression

    Limit microwave exposure from wireless technologies

    Studies have linked excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields to an increased risk of both depression and suicide.28 Power lines and high-voltage cables appear to be particularly troublesome. Addiction to or "high engagement" with mobile devices can also trigger depression and anxiety, according to recent research from the University of Illinois.29

    Research30 by Dr. Martin Pall reveals a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies, which helps explain why these technologies can have such a potent impact on your mental health.

    Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), which are activated by microwaves. When that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released, which stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria. The NO then combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite, which in turn creates hydroxyl free radicals, which are the most destructive free radicals known to man.

    Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease. The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes.

    Hence, health problems such as Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility can be directly linked to excessive microwave exposure.

    If you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.

    Get regular exercise

    Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. It also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress.

    Animal research also suggests exercise can benefit your mental health by allowing your body to eliminate kynurenine, a harmful protein associated with depression.31

    Spend more time outdoors

    Spending time in nature has been shown to lower stress, improve mood and significantly reduce symptoms of depression.32 Outdoor activities could be just about anything, from walking a nature trail to gardening, or simply taking your exercise outdoors.

    Get plenty of restorative sleep

    Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression. Ideally, get eight hours of sleep each night, and address factors that impede good sleep.

    Address negative emotions

    I believe it's helpful to view depression as a sign that your body and life are out of balance, rather than as a disease. It's a message telling you you've veered too far off course, and you need to regain your balance. One of the ways to do this involves addressing negative emotions that may be trapped beneath your level of awareness. My favorite method of emotional cleansing is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a form of psychological acupressure.

    Research shows EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states.33,34,35 It's particularly powerful for treating anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.36

    For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT37 to help guide you through the process. That said, for most of you with depression symptoms, this is a technique you can learn to do effectively on your own. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows how you can use EFT to relieve symptoms of depression.

    Optimize your gut health

    Your mental health is closely linked to your gut health. A number of studies have confirmed gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression.38 Optimizing your gut flora will also help regulate a number of neurotransmitters and mood-related hormones, including GABA and corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior.39

    To nourish your gut microbiome, be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and traditionally fermented foods. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir and natto. If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is recommended.

    Also remember to severely limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains, to rebalance your gut flora. As a standard recommendation, I suggest limiting your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.

    Optimize your vitamin D with sensible sun exposure

    Studies have shown vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression, and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores, ideally by getting sensible sun exposure.40,41,42

    In one such study, people with a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with a level greater than 30 ng/mL.43 For optimal health, you'll want to make sure your vitamin D level is between 40 and 60 ng/mL year-round, so be sure to get a vitamin D test at least twice a year.

    Optimize your omega-3

    The animal-based omega-3 fat DHA is perhaps the single most important nutrient for optimal brain function and prevention of depression. While you can obtain DHA from krill or fish oil, it is far better to obtain it from clean, low-mercury fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and fish roe.

    In addition to getting your vitamin D checked, I recommend getting an omega-3 index test to make sure you're getting enough. Ideally, you want your omega-3 index to be 8 percent or higher.

    Make sure your cholesterol levels aren't too low for optimal mental health

    You may also want to check your cholesterol to make sure it's not too low. Low cholesterol is linked to dramatically increased rates of suicide, as well as aggression toward others.44 This increased expression of violence toward self and others may be due to the fact that low membrane cholesterol decreases the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which are approximately 30 percent cholesterol by weight.

    Lower serum cholesterol concentrations therefore may contribute to decreasing brain serotonin, which not only contributes to suicidal-associated depression, but prevents the suppression of aggressive behavior and violence toward self and others.

    Increase your B vitamin intake

    Low dietary folate is a risk factor for severe depression, raising your risk by as much as 300 percent.45,46 If you're using a supplement, I suggest methylfolate, as this form of folic acid is the most effective. Other B vitamin deficiencies, including B1, B2, B3, B6, B8 and B12 also have the ability to produce symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders. Vitamin B12 deficiency, in particular, can contribute to depression and affects 1 in 4 people.

    One of the most recent studies47,48 showing the importance of vitamin deficiencies in depression involved suicidal teens. Most turned out to be deficient in cerebral folate. One of the 33 subjects was also severely deficient in CSF tetrahydrobiopterin, a critical cofactor for monoamine neurotransmitter synthesis.

    According to the authors, "All patients with cerebral folate deficiency, including one with low CSF levels of 5-MTHF and tetrahydrobiopterin intermediates, showed improvement in depression symptom inventories after treatment with folinic acid; the patient with low tetrahydrobiopterin also received sapropterin … Treatment with sapropterin, a tetrahydrobiopterin analogue, led to dramatic and long-lasting remission of depression."

    Helpful supplements

    A number of herbs and supplements can be used in lieu of drugs to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. These include:

    • St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum). This medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.49
    • S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe). SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.
    • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. Evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression,50 which is more than can be said about antidepressants.
    • XingPiJieYu. This Chinese herb, available from doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has been found to reduce the effects of "chronic and unpredictable stress," thereby lowering your risk of depression.51

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  • Sleep More, Weigh Less?
    published on August 16th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Nearly 71 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese. Among children, nearly 21 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds are considered obese, along with 17 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds and 9 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds.1 Exercise and, particularly, diet, definitely play a role in this epidemic, but there's another often-overlooked factor that may help people to keep their weight in check with little added effort. In fact, it requires nothing but getting more sleep.

    Like overweight and obesity, insufficient sleep is a public health problem in the U.S. — and it could be that the two are related. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 50 million to 70 million adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder, while more than 35 percent said they sleep fewer than seven hours during a typical 24-hour period.2

    Meanwhile, this lack of sleep is having serious consequences, like unintentionally falling asleep during the day (reported by 38 percent of survey respondents) or nodding off while driving (reported by nearly 5 percent). Your weight, however, may also suffer.

    Sleeping Well Associated With Smaller Waist, Lower Weight

    U.K. researchers looked into the connection between how long you sleep (sleep duration), diet and metabolic health among more than 1,600 adults.3 Past research has linked not enough sleep with an increased risk of metabolic diseases, including obesity, and this study found similar results. Sleep duration was negatively associated with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, which means the longer a person slept, the smaller their waist and lower their BMI were likely to be.

    Specifically, people who slept for an average of just six hours a night had a waist circumference more than 1 inch (3 centimeters) larger than those who slept for nine hours a night.4 Shorter sleep was also linked to lower levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol,5 and researchers noted, "[O]ur findings show that short-sleeping U.K. adults are more likely to have obesity, a disease with many comorbidities."

    Along these lines, a study published in the journal Sleep even found that sleeping in longer on weekends — also known as "catch up sleep" (CUS) — may positively impact your weight. On average, the group of participants who slept up to two hours longer on weekend days than weekdays had a significantly lower BMI than the non-CUS group.6 Lack of sleep influences hormone levels, including increasing the "hunger hormone" ghrelin and decreasing leptin, which is involved in satiety.

    By activating your endocannabinoid system, which is involved in modulating appetite and food intake, sleep deprivation can even give you the munchies, similar to marijuana use. In the featured study, while the researchers hypothesized that shorter sleep may lead to increased unhealthy eating, they found no such link in this case.

    How Does Sleep Affect Your Waistline?

    Sleep is intricately involved in your body's ability to function properly. Skimp on it, and your self-control will suffer, as will your willpower to make healthy eating choices. On a biological level, however, lack of sleep also disrupts important hormones — like, as mentioned, ghrelin and leptin — and metabolic function. Losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep each night can disrupt your metabolism enough to cause weight gain.

    In fact, each half-hour of sleep debt incurred during weeknights raised one study's participants' risk for obesity and insulin resistance by 17 percent and 39 percent respectively after one year.7 What this means is that if you need eight hours of sleep but consistently only get seven, you may theoretically raise your risk of obesity by about 34 percent and simultaneously jack up your chances of insulin resistance — which is a hallmark of most chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes — by 78 percent.

    In another revealing study, people who slept only five hours a night gained nearly 2 pounds a week while consuming extra calories, primarily late at night. On the contrary, people who slept nine hours a night maintained their weight and tended to eat fewer high-carbohydrate foods and unhealthy fats.8 The results are true even among children, which research revealed that children with the least amount of sleep are 4.2 times more likely to be obese.9

    If you're trying to lose weight, getting adequate sleep may make or break your results, with research from the University of Chicago showing that dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat than dieters who slept 5.5 hours.10 "Lack of sufficient sleep may compromise the efficacy of typical dietary interventions for weight loss and related metabolic risk reduction," the researchers wrote, continuing:11

    "The neuroendocrine changes associated with sleep curtailment in the presence of caloric restriction, however, raise the possibility that lack of sufficient sleep may compromise the efficacy of commonly used dietary interventions in such individuals. For instance, higher ghrelin concentrations may facilitate the retention of fat and increased hunger could compromise adherence to caloric restriction."

    How to Gauge If Your Health Is at Risk From Not Enough Sleep

    Worldwide, the average sleep duration on weekdays has declined by about 37 minutes over the last 10 years.12 Meanwhile, about 1 in 3 Americans is getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, and an estimated 83.6 million adults in the U.S. are sleep-deprived.13

    In addition to weight gain, too little sleep has been linked to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The featured study also revealed that short sleep may also interfere with thyroid hormones and raise C-reactive protein levels (CRP), which may promote inflammation and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.14

    Aside from chronic disease, sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,15 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases and acute illnesses like colds and flu. In fact, research shows adults who sleep less than six hours a night have a four times higher risk of catching a cold when directly exposed to the virus than those who get at least seven hours.16

    Sleeping less than five hours per night resulted in a 4.5 times higher risk. The study found that sleep was more important than any other factor when it came to protecting against the cold virus, including stress levels, age and smoking. You probably already know if you're sleep deprived, but in case you're not sure, the late Professor Emeritus Nathaniel Kleitman, physiologist and sleep researcher, came up with one of the simplest tests to determine if you're sleep deprived — and as a pioneer in sleep research, he was well qualified to know.

    Here's how it works: In the early afternoon, grab a spoon and head off to your darkened bedroom to take a nap. Place a metal tray on the floor beside your bed, and hold the spoon over the tray as you attempt to fall asleep. Be sure to check the time as well. Next, when you inevitably fall asleep and the spoon crashes down onto the tray, waking you up, immediately check the time again and note how much time has passed.

    If you fell asleep within five minutes, it means you're severely sleep deprived, according to Kleitman. If it took you 10 minutes to fall asleep, this is still a sign that you could use more sleep. If, however, you managed to stay awake for 15 minutes or more before falling asleep, you're probably well rested.17 If you don't happen to have a spoon and metal tray handy, you can still take this test by setting an alarm for 15 minutes to see if you fall asleep before it goes off.

    Most Adults Need Eight Hours of Sleep a Night

    Sleep needs vary depending on your age, activity levels and health status, but the studies are quite clear — and most experts agree — that eight hours of sleep a night is ideal. Keep in mind, however, that eight hours of sleep is not eight hours in bed. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. and get out of bed at 6 a.m., you might say you've slept for eight hours. In reality, you probably spent at least 15 to 30 minutes falling asleep and may have woken during the night one or more times.

    With the advent of fitness-tracking devices, however, we now have access to actual sleep data (and more) from wristband users. The data is quite useful on a personal level and can help you determine when you need to get into bed to realize a full eight hours of sleep. If your problem sleeping is less about when to go to sleep and more about having trouble sleeping once you're in bed, turn your attention to sleep hygiene.

    Perhaps the most important natural "trick" of all for improving your sleep is to make sure you're getting proper exposure to bright light during the day and no exposure to blue light at night. In the morning, bright, blue-light-rich sunlight signals to your body that it's time to wake up. At night, as the sun sets, darkness should signal to your body that it's time to sleep.

    Ideally, to help your circadian system reset itself, get at least 10 to 15 minutes of natural light first thing in the morning. This will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals later on.

    Then, around solar noon, get another "dose" of at least 30 minutes' worth of sunlight. A full hour or more would be even better. If your schedule is such that you have to get up and arrive at work before sunrise, aim to get at least that half-hour of bright sunlight sometime during the day.

    In the evening when the sun begins to set, put on amber-colored glasses that block blue light. You can also dim your lights and turn off electronic devices to reduce your exposure to light that may stifle your melatonin production. Better still, swap out LEDs for incandescent or low-voltage incandescent halogen lights. After sundown, you can also shift to a low-wattage bulb with yellow, orange or red light if you need illumination.

    A salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb is an ideal solution that will not interfere with your melatonin production. Candle light also works well. If you've already optimized your light exposure and are still struggling with sleep, see my 33 healthy sleep secrets for a more comprehensive list of strategies for a better night's rest.

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  • What Makes Spanish Marjoram Oil Special?
    published on August 16th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    Spanish marjoram oil can be easily confused with the essential oil from oregano, which is also called wild marjoram. But make no mistake, Spanish marjoram has numerous standout qualities that set it apart from other essential oils.

    What Is Spanish Marjoram Oil?

    Despite its name, Spanish marjoram oil is actually derived from the flowers and leaves of a bushy perennial plant from the family of thymes (Thymus mastichina). Originally from Spain, this wild thyme plant has a hairy stem, dark green oval leaves and clusters of small white flowers and grows up to 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) in height.

    Spanish marjoram oil has a stronger spicy, herbaceous and camphoraceous aroma compared to sweet marjoram oil. It has a thin consistency and can have an orange or amber color.

    Uses of Spanish Marjoram Oil

    Used since ancient times, Spanish marjoram was used in traditional herbal medicine by the Greeks. Romans crowned newlywed couples with wreaths made from the plant as a symbol of love, honor and happiness, while the tea made from it was often used by singers to soothe and preserve their voices.

    Today, Spanish marjoram oil is frequently used in aromatherapy. When blended with floral or citrus essential oils like lavender and bergamot oil, it effectively creates a relaxing and uplifting environment.1 It is also usually added into perfumes with masculine or oriental notes. Spanish marjoram oil is also added as an ingredient to season various food products, including meats, soups and table sauces.

    Composition of Spanish Marjoram Oil

    The chemical composition of Spanish marjoram oil is entirely different from that of sweet or garden marjoram oils. It contains a significant amount of cinceole (eucalyptol), which is responsible for its strong medicinal aroma. It also has d-a-pinene, A phenol, l-Linalool, acetic acid and isolaveric acid.

    Benefits of Spanish Marjoram Oil

    Spanish marjoram oil can be used therapeutically to help:2

    Ease dysmenorrhea

    Relieve tired and aching muscles

    Encourage sleep

    Studies show that this essential oil has potent decongestive, antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, analgesic and antifungal properties.3 Its mucolytic properties also provide favorable results for the treatment of respiratory complaints, such as coughs and bronchitis.4

    How to Make Spanish Marjoram Oil

    Spanish marjoram oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops of the thyme plant vernacularly called "almoraduz," which grows wild in the low sections of the provinces of Sevilla, Huelva, Granada and Almeria, Spain. The flowers bloom from April to June, which is also the time when oil production is usually at its peak.

    To make Spanish marjoram oil, a huge amount of botanical material needs to be steam distilled. As a matter of fact, 110 kilograms (242.5 pounds) of flowers and leaves will yield only 1.2 kilogram (42.3 ounces) of pure essential oil. Although another thyme plant (Thymus cephalotus L.) from the province of Jaen, Spain, produces an oil with similar properties to Spanish marjoram oil, the main source is still Thymus mastichina L.5

    How Does Spanish Marjoram Oil Work?

    To get the many healing benefits of Spanish marjoram oil, you can:

    Apply it topically to improve skin disorders like athlete's foot, cuts and sores

    Use it in massages to treat sprains and stiff joints

    Add it in baths and vaporizers to relieve nervous disorders and stress-related issues

    However, I personally do not advise taking Spanish marjoram oil or any essential oil, internally without your doctor's recommendation.

    Is Spanish Marjoram Oil Safe?

    Animal studies show that Spanish marjoram oil can have acute toxic effects when taken orally. In addition, cineole, one of its chemical components, has been reported to cause serious poisoning in young children who have accidentally inhaled Spanish marjoram oil. I do not recommend using any type of essential oil as a treatment or supplement without expert medical opinion, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have an existing medical condition, to prevent complications.

    Side Effects of Spanish Marjoram Oil

    Spanish marjoram oil may cause allergic skin reactions. This is why it's important to always perform a skin patch test and wait for a few minutes before applying it onto large portions of your skin. Diluting Spanish marjoram oil with a mild carrier oil is a good technique to reduce possible skin sensitizing side effects, if any.

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  • Fashion Waste Poised to Become Environmental Crisis
    published on August 15th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Over the past decades society has moved from using biodegradable, recyclable natural products to highly resilient and nonbiodegradable plastics made with toxic chemicals. Plastics invade nearly every area of your life — even parts you don't see, such as your clothing and microbeads in your makeup and facial products.

    Each of these contribute to a rapidly growing problem in the environment, especially our oceans, where plastic micropollution is quickly overtaking the fish population. Discarded plastics are polluting your food supply and ultimately finding their way into your body where they accumulate over time. The risk grows with every discarded bottle, bag, shower curtain and load of wash.

    Microfibers that enter the water supply from your washing machine are not the only ways fabric is fast becoming an environmental crisis. The fashion industry has nurtured people's desire for new clothes to the point that trends shift weekly. These rapidly changing trends naturally result in more clothing being discarded, ultimately clogging up our landfills.

    Clothing Purchases on the Rise

    The Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP) in the U.K. estimates the average piece of clothing lasts approximately 3.3 years, but this estimate may be too high.1 According to one British fashion company, many customers only keep new clothing for about five weeks before it ends up being donated or thrown out.

    Today, the average woman in the U.S. owns 30 different outfits, as compared to the nine she owned in 1930,2 and we throw away approximately 65 pounds of clothing per person each year. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry and watches than on higher education, and 93 percent of girls say shopping is their favorite activity.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the amount of clothing recycled is equivalent to taking 1 million cars off the road each year.3 But, 13 million tons of textiles still make it to U.S. landfills every year. The American apparel industry grosses $12 billion.4 Estimates are the average family in the U.S. spends $1,700 per person each year on clothing. The dollar amount is not significant as it represents a small percentage of annual spending, but the cost to the environment is steep.

    Fashion Industry Waste Laden With Toxic Chemicals

    While it may seem the number of textiles discarded are not important, as most fabric should be biodegradable, the reality is the large amount of clothing thrown away contains more than cotton. The textile industry has taken full advantage of chemicals available to protect the garment or make changes to the product without consideration for how these chemicals affect the environment.

    Procedures to treat clothing include using specialized chemicals, such as biocides, flame retardants and water repellents.5 Over 60 different chemical classes are used in the production of yarn, fabric pretreatments and finishing.

    When fabrics are manufactured, between 10 and 100 percent of the weight of the fabric is added in chemicals.6 Even fabrics made from 100 percent cotton are coated with 27 percent of its weight in chemicals. Most fabrics are treated with liquid chemicals to ready them for the fashion industry, going through several treatments before being shipped to a manufacturer.

    Many chemicals have known health and environmental issues. Greenpeace7 commissioned an investigation into the toxic chemicals used in clothing. They purchased 141 different pieces of clothing in 29 different countries. The chemicals found included high levels of phthalates and cancer-causing amines. The investigators also found 89 garments with nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). Levels above 100 ppm were found in 20 percent of the garments and above 1,000 ppm were recorded in 12 of the samples.

    Any level of phthalates, amines or NPEs found in clothing that remains against your body is unacceptable as they are hazardous materials. However, the dangers from these chemicals don't end when you finish wearing the garment. As the material makes it to a landfill, these chemicals leach out from the fabric and make it to the groundwater.

    Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have been widely used in textile marketing and have been linked in epidemiological studies with several different types of cancers in humans.

    These chemicals are so ubiquitous they've been found in the blood of polar bears and found in tap water supplies used by 15 million Americans in 27 states.8 Cheap, mass-produced clothing has given many individuals the chance to purchase the current style without breaking the bank. But an initial reduction in price on clothing may be at the expense of both people and the environment.

    Clothing Is Not the Only Undervalued Factor in the Fashion Industry

    Producing and selling sustainable clothing becomes more difficult each year as advertisers challenge you to purchase the newest fashion for the season and get rid of what's in your closet. This increase in demand has created not only a glut in the landfills, but also an industry that undervalues the human lives making the latest fashion.

    One of the largest death tolls in recent history in the garment industry happened in Bangladesh when an eight-story building collapsed, killing 1,100 people making clothing for high end manufacturers.9 Following the disaster, widespread reforms were promised, but a report from the Human Rights Watch suggests that not enough has been done to protect the lives of garment workers.10

    Nearly a decade ago T-shirts and low-cost clothing were made in the China province of Guangdong, known as the "world's workshop."11 Today much of the work has moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh, as soaring labor costs in China and their gradual shift from low-end to high-end manufacturing sent the garment industry searching for cheaper labor.

    In California, garment workers are paid by the piece, often amounting to approximately $6 an hour, well below the $10.50 minimum wage standard set in that state.12 Factory owners get away with low wages and poor working conditions as most of the workers are undocumented and afraid to speak out. These sweatshop tactics are what keep the cost of mass-produced department store clothing within reach of the average consumer.

    At the request of a U.S.-based garment brand, research was launched to explore the issues surrounding undocumented workers in the garment industry.13 They found that many of the people were at great risk of wage and working hour violations that placed their health and safety at risk. The workers were also at risk for abuse and harassment since they were undocumented and unwilling to report the conditions under which they were working.

    Synthetic Fibers Clogging the Oceans

    In your home, textile pollution begins in your washing machine. Testing has demonstrated that synthetic microfibers from clothing makes up 85 percent of shoreline debris worldwide.14 They tend to be particularly concentrated in beach sediment near wastewater treatment plants,15 indicating these plants are unable to filter the microfibers from the wastewater before dumping it into the environment.

    Current studies have found microfibers are more prevalent than microbeads, and are particularly dangerous as the fibers are small enough to easily be eaten by fish and other wildlife, accumulating in the gut and concentrating in the bodies of other animals higher up the food chain. Once in the water, plastics also block sunlight required for plankton and algae to survive.

    Since these microscopic plants are essential food for many smaller fish, the consequences of this pollution are experienced from the bottom of the food chain to the top — your dinner plate. To gain perspective on this problem, consider that in some ocean waters the amount of plastic outnumbers the amount of plankton 6-to-1.16 Included in these microfibers are toxic dyes, fabric treatments and flame retardants that add to the growing environmental problem posed by clothing.

    Tests have demonstrated that washing fleece jackets releases between 1.7 to 2.7 grams of microfiber into wash water and eventually into the environment.17,18 Estimates suggest a city of 100,000 people may deposit up to 240 pounds of microfibers every day, an amount equal to 15,000 plastic bags entering the waterways on a daily basis. There are a number of different factors that contribute the amount of fibers your clothing sheds with each washing, including:

    • Age: The older the fleece jacket, the more microfibers are released.19
    • Quality: Lower quality generic brand fleece can shed 170 percent more over the life span of the product than higher quality fleece.
    • Type:  Comparing acrylic, polyester and a polyester-cotton blend, acrylic was the worst, shedding microfibers up to four times faster than the polyester-cotton blend.20
    • Type of washing machine: Tests show top loading machines release about 530 percent more microfibers than front loading models.21
    • Water temperature, length and agitation strength of the wash cycle and the type of detergent used: Heat, agitation and harsh detergents all promote the breakdown and shedding of microfibers.

    There Are Significant Barriers to Recycling Clothing

    Recycling clothing may seem like the answer to the growing amount of textiles in landfills. However, there are several barriers to this solution, starting with production of the original piece. Much of the waste in the fashion industry is hidden from view before the final product even makes it to the department store racks.22

    Ready-made garments are assembled and sewn in large quantities. However, if the material is deemed inadequate due to color differences or when a mistake is made in the order, the garments are discarded. This accounts for up to 5 percent of the factory's waste. Considering one large factory may produce up to 240 million pieces each year, this means 12 million pieces of clothing may get discarded every year from a single factory.

    Waste from the cutting room or after a mistake is made in the order makes it to the streets of Bangladesh. Estonian designer and clothing waste researcher Reet Aus commented on the material waste he's seen as he follows unwanted garments out of the factory gates, saying:23

    "You don't even want to know. You see it by the side of the road being sold or just dumped, but a lot is burned. I know a brick factory near the garment district where the main fuel is garment waste. You can't really see anything around there, the pollution is terrible. Remember that thanks to the chemicals and finishing agents, used textile waste is basically toxic waste."

    With a growing awareness of the need to recycle, reuse or repurpose textiles to reduce the amount ending up in landfills, consumers are calling for more sustainable products. Companies are experimenting with ways to meet this demand while maintaining their own profit margins.

    The U.S. is proving to be a larger challenge. Jana Hawley, director of the University of Arizona's School of Family and Consumer Science, studied the textile industry for 20 years. She notes the difference between Europe and the U.S. is that Europeans value high-quality clothing they can keep for longer periods of time. She believes refocusing consumers to buy fewer clothes at higher prices could make a difference in reducing waste.24

    Some companies are looking at ways to recycle fabric in clothing that has been discarded, but the barriers are significant. Retailers would first have to motivate consumers to bring clothes back when they are finished with them. Manufacturers would then have to find ways to recycle the fabrics. Polyester may be melted and reformed, but cotton-based fabrics don't retain strength of the original fiber when broken down, and many textiles are made from a combination of different types of fibers.

    Commit to Care What You Wear

    There may not be one answer to reduce the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and pollutes waterways, but there are several steps you can take that will help. Purchasing clothing made from organic cotton is an excellent start. Natural fiber garments may minimize the amount of microfiber shedding common with synthetic fibers.

    Consider joining Regeneration International's "Care What You Wear"25 campaign, which aims to educate consumers and expose problems in the $3 trillion global fashion industry that uses degenerative agricultural practices, exploits laborers and publishes advertising that makes their customers feel inferior when they aren't wearing the latest style.

    These problems cannot be fixed overnight, but when people vote with their pocketbook to support brands that take steps to clean their supply chain, we move closer to the solution. To avoid toxic chemicals and reduce environmental pollution associated with the washing and wearing of clothes, consider the following recommendations:

    Opt for organic cotton, hemp, silk, wool and bamboo fabrics. While such items typically cost more than non-organic cotton and synthetics, buying fewer items will allow you to spend more on each item. On the upside, higher quality organic items tend to last far longer with proper care, so you get your money's worth in the end.

    Opt for items colored with nontoxic, natural dyes when possible. Businesses investing in organic farming and natural dyes include PACT (undergarments and loungewear), Boll & Branch (bed linens, blankets and towels), Jungmaven (organic hemp and cotton T-shirts), Industry of All Nations (clothing) and many others.

    Consider garments labeled with the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label. This indicates the fabric has been tested by an independent laboratory and found to be free of harmful levels of more than 100 substances, including azo dyes, phthalates, heavy metals, pesticides and allergenic dyes.

    Avoid screen printed items, as they typically contain phthalates.

    Look for the Bluesign System Certification,26 which tells you the item has been manufactured with a minimal amount of hazardous chemicals, or none. Avoid trademarked technical fabrics, as most are coated with chemicals that will eventually wash out.

    Be mindful of when and how you wash synthetic clothing. Wash synthetic clothing as irregularly as possible using a mild detergent. Line dry instead of putting them in the dryer. The heat and agitation will break down fibers.

    Handwashing or using the gentle cycle with cold water will also minimize the shedding of fibers, as will using a front loading washing machine. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets. They leave a film on the fabric that blocks the wicking ability of the fiber.

    Install a microfiber filter on your washing machine.

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  • Natural Remedies for the Prevention of Dry Eyes
    published on August 15th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Although many accept declining eye sight as a part of natural aging, it is really more of a side effect of our modern lifestyle. Aging does not automatically equate to failing vision, cataracts or dry eyes, provided you've properly nourished your eyes through the years. Unfortunately, statistics demonstrate that many Americans are suffering the effects of years of poor lifestyle choices. In people over age 40:1

    • 24.4 million people have cataracts
    • 2.7 million have glaucoma
    • 4.2 million suffer impaired vision
    • 4.88 million suffer dry eye

    The risk of developing dry eye increases with age and women appear to suffer with the condition more than men.2 You may have experienced some of the symptoms of dry eye after having been outside in windy conditions or a long day wearing contact lenses. These symptoms may include a scratchy sensation over your eye, or feeling as if there is something in your eye. It may feel as if your eyelids are heavy, be more difficult to blink or you may experience blurred vision.

    The medical term for dry eye is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Left untreated, the condition may lead to serious damage to your eyes. In the past, dry eye was treated by adding moisture, such as normal saline. Today, there is a better understanding of the complexity of some of the substances in your tears and how they function in your eye.3

    Three Layers to a Teardrop

    There are several layers to the tears your eyes produce naturally, and up to 1,500 proteins.4 Tears are actually a complex mix of mucus, water, fatty oils and different proteins designed to keep the surface of your eye smooth and protected from environmental pathogens and irritants. You have three different types of tears and each has a different chemical mix produced by three different glands.5

    • Meibomian glands produce an outer, oily layer that keep your tears from evaporating too quickly, thus enabling the tears to remain on your eye and protect the organ.
    • Lacrimal glands produce the middle layer of watery tears and water-soluble proteins that help to nourish the cornea and conjunctiva, or mucous membrane covering the entire front of the eye and inside of your eyelids.
    • Goblet cells produce the innermost mucin layer of tears, or glycoprotein component of mucous. This binds the water from the aqueous layer produced by the lacrimal glands to ensure your eye remains wet.

    When your eye is healthy, a continuous bath of basal tears will cover and protect your cornea. This is the clear, dome-shaped outer surface of the eye over the pupil.6 Every time you blink, these basal tears nourish the cells of the cornea. The second type of tear is called reflex tears. These are produced in reflex to an irritant in the eye, or exposure to external irritants such as wind, smoke or onions.7

    The third type of tear is the one you may be most familiar with: emotional tears. These are produced after a powerful emotional stimulation and may have higher amounts of proteins than other tears. However, science has not yet conclusively demonstrated this.

    This process produces approximately 1.2 ml of tears each day and half a liter each year.8 When insufficient tears are produced, or the composition changes, it can affect both the health of your eye and your vision. Eyesight may be affected as adequate amounts of tears on the surface of your eye affect how your eye focuses light and color.

    Your Tears Serve Several Functions

    One function of your tears is to keep your eyes moist and functioning optimally. When your eyes become dry, the conjunctiva that covers the eye and inside of your eyelids also becomes dry. This is the condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca.9 Tears serve other functions as well.

    Emotional, or weeping, tears are formed when you experience great joy or sorrow. Actually, any powerful emotional response may generate tears, including anger. Women often cry more than men. According to one estimate, women cry on average 5.3 times per month compared to men who cry 1.4 times per month.10 However, the gender differences may also be related to cultural differences as Western cultures give greater freedom to women than they do to men to cry.

    This emotional shedding of tears has healing power as it helps to release powerful emotional triggers, including stress, anger, sadness, grief and joy.11 These emotional tears actually contain stress hormones and other toxins that accumulate during stress. William Frey, biochemist and director of the Psychiatry Research Laboratories at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, commented on his research into the biological role emotional tears play in health, saying:12

    "What now needs to be done is a study of the actual crying behavior of people with stress-related illnesses. People say they feel better after crying, and our data show this is so. Crying is an exocrine process.

    That is, a process in which a substance comes out of the body. Other exocrine processes, like exhaling, urinating, defecating and sweating, release toxic substances from the body. There's every reason to think crying does the same, releasing chemicals that the body produces in response to stress."

    Crying may also stimulate your body to produce endorphins, "feel good" hormones to help balance your emotional state.13 Even when the emotional or situational problem persists, crying may help you feel better and improve your decisions about that situation.

    What Triggers Dry Eye?

    Dry eye can result from an immediate environmental stimulus, such as a windy day, or can turn into a chronic condition if there's a problem with your tear glands. There are two main types of chronic dry eye:14

    • Deficiency: triggered by an inadequate production of tear volume
    • Evaporative: more common, this condition is triggered by an acceleration of tear evaporation due to poor-quality tear production

    There are health conditions that affect both the quality of the tears your body produces and the amount of tears produced. Health conditions that may trigger one of the two reasons for chronic dry eye include:15

    Lasik surgery

    Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause

    Sjögren's syndrome





    Rheumatoid arthritis

    Thyroid disorders

    Vitamin A deficiency

    Environmental conditions that may contribute to the development of situational dry eye include:16



    Medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills and medications for anxiety, Parkinson's disease and high blood pressure

    Seasonal allergies

    Prolonged periods without blinking

    Extended period at the computer

    Most people report symptoms such as feeling a gritty sensation in the eye during blinking or photosensitivity. You may experience blurred vision as your tears help focus light, or feel eyestrain or fatigue from consistent straining to see clearly. These symptoms usually fluctuate during the day as the amount of tear production or quality of your tears may vary.

    Possible Complications

    Your eyes thrive in a moist environment, so depriving the eye of moisture may lead to significant complications.17 Without a moist level of tears to protect your eye, you are open to a greater number of infections. These infections can result in inflammation of the conjunctiva that covers the eye and inside the eye lids. However, conjunctival inflammation does not only occur with infection; it may be triggered from lack of moisture on the eye alone.

    Left untreated, dry eye may increase the number of corneal abrasions and ulcerations to the cornea that may ultimately lead to deterioration of your vision. Ulcerations of the cornea is called keratitis, which may lead to permanent scarring.18

    Natural Strategies to Help Prevent Dry Eyes

    While recommended treatments may include tear-stimulating drugs, artificial tears or eye drops to control the inflammation caused by the dry eye, like all other health conditions, prevention is your best medicine. If you currently have dry eye, you'll want to incorporate these strategies while slowly weaning off your current medications with your physician, to reduce your risk for complications.

    The following strategies may help prevent problems with reduced tear production or poor-quality tears, or help reverse the current pattern. Use them while reducing the environmental factors that increase your dry eye discussed below.

    N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC)

    A derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine, NAC has antioxidant properties and is widely used to reduce the viscosity (consistency) of secretions in bronchopulmonary disorders.19 Ophthalmologists use it to treat corneal abrasions and ulcers, and dry eye.

    In the long term, you may develop mucus plaques on the corneal surface of your eye with dry eye. NAC can help to dissolve these plaques and improve the health of your eye.20 Researchers believe NAC plays a role in protecting the surface of the eye. In animal research, NAC has been shown to suppress the inflammatory response.21

    In a human study comparing NAC with artificial tears, objective findings in the group using NAC were significantly better than those using artificial tears, although there were no significant subjective findings in the patients.

    The use of NAC increases the production of glutathione, which is the principal antioxidant for your eyes, protecting against oxidative damage. Researchers have found nearly all ophthalmological diseases are linked with low levels of glutathione.22


    Your body begins using omega-3 fats before you're born to help develop your vision.23 Those benefits continue through adulthood, and omega-3 may be a useful remedy for dry eye.

    In a study with more than 450 participants, a daily dose of 360 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 240 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), helped reduce symptoms of dry eye in people whose condition was aggravated by computer use.24 At the end of the three-month trial, the individuals taking the omega-3 supplement enjoyed significantly fewer symptoms and reduced abnormal tear evaporation.

    In another study using fish oil and flaxseed oil, nearly 70 percent were asymptomatic after three months as the supplement appeared to increase tear production.25 A double-blind study of 38 postmenopausal women found omega-3 supplementation helped stabilize corneal surface regularity.  

    You can boost your omega-3 by eating foods like wild-caught salmon, sardines and anchovies, or by taking a fish oil supplement. Krill oil is another option. Krill oil has a unique combination of both omega-3 fats and astaxanthin, the latter of which also offers natural protection against ultraviolet light.26


    Astaxanthin is a carotenoid produced by a form of microalgae. This pigment is used by the algae to protect itself from the environment when water begins to dry up. It's the carotenoid that gives salmon, shrimp, lobster and crab their pink coloring. The highest concentration is found in the muscle of wild-caught salmon, which biologists believe give the fish the endurance they need to swim long distances upstream.27

    This powerful antioxidant helps to protect your eyes as it prevents unstable molecules from damaging cells and boosts your immune system by increasing the number and activity of macrophages and T-cells. Astaxanthin also protects your eyes against macular degeneration, blindness and cataracts.28

    Light therapy and eyelid massage

    Using a technique called intense-pulsed light therapy followed by massage of the eyelids helped 87 percent of people in a study with severe dry eye to experience reduced symptoms.29

    Vigorous exercise

    According to Dr. Reza Dana, professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, "A lot of evidence supports the benefits of rigorous exercise. It fosters blood flow, helps regenerate tissues and, by increasing heat, promotes the release of oils in the eyes."30

    Reduce Environmental Factors That Increase Dry Eye

    There are also environmental factors you can modify that may help reduce situational dry eye, and reduce the influences that may aggravate chronic dry eye. Although simple, the end results may improve your quality of life and reduce your daily discomfort. Tears are spread over your eyes as you blink, so activities that increase the time between blinking may aggravate your symptoms, such as sitting in front of a computer.

    Cut back on screen time and take periodic breaks to rest your eyes. Wearing blue-blocking glasses in the evenings reduces eyestrain and may also help increase your production of melatonin before sleep.

    Closing your eyes for a couple of minutes or blinking repeatedly may help distribute your basal tear layer more evenly across your eye.

    Smoking cessation and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke may help reduce symptoms.

    Wraparound sunglasses help protect against wind.

    Wear water-tight goggles when swimming in fresh or salt water.

    Reduce or eliminate your use of contact lenses.

    Sit up high on the computer so you are looking down on the screen to minimize exposure of your eye surface.

    Adjust the air flow from air conditioners and fans so they don't blow directly on your face.

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  • One-Third of American Adults Prescribed Opioids Each Year, and Opioid Deaths Now Leading Cause of Death for People Under 50
    published on August 15th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Opioids kill patients more frequently than any other medication used for nonfatal conditions,1 yet disturbing statistics reveal more than one-third of American adults were prescribed these dangerous drugs in 2015.2 Even more shocking, opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.3

    More than half of all opioid prescriptions in the U.S. are also issued to patients suffering from anxiety and depression,4 despite the fact that this increases their risk for addiction. Overall, studies show addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain.5

    While back pain is one of the most common reasons for receiving a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever,6 a surprising number of people — especially teens and young adults — receive these potent drugs from their dentist. Women are also increasingly being prescribed opioids during pregnancy and after delivery,7 creating addicts in the womb and destroying families by creating drug-dependent mothers and infants.

    Of the 1.1 million pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid in 2007, nearly one-quarter of them filled a prescription for an opioid drug.8 Not surprisingly, statistics9 reveal a disconcerting rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Between 2000 and 2009, the prevalence of NAS increased from 1.2 to nearly 3.4 per 1,000 live births.

    1 in 3 American Adults Prescribed Opioids Every Year! 

    According to Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland, 38 percent of adults (about 92 million people) in the U.S. were prescribed an opioid drug in 2015.10,11,12,13 Women, people over the age of 49 and those without college degrees were most likely to receive a prescription, and the unemployed, uninsured and adults with an annual family income below $50,000 had the highest prevalence of opioid misuse and addiction.

    An estimated 5 percent of adults (11.5 million people) misused the drugs, and nearly 1 percent (some 1.9 million people) reported addiction. Interestingly, while women are prescribed opioids more frequently than men, men have a higher rate of misuse — 13 percent compared to 9 percent respectively. Of those misusing the drug:

    • 41 percent reported getting leftover medication from family or friends14,15
    • 64 percent said their use of the drug was motivated by need for physical pain relief
    • 11 percent said they took the pills to relax or get high

    According to Compton:16

    "Overall, the results indicate that the medical profession is doing a poor job of appropriately prescribing opioid painkillers. Even though the rates have leveled off, we have a long way to go in improving medical care so these are not as overprescribed as they are currently [T]here are a lot of leftover medications. In many cases, physicians could write smaller prescriptions, or avoid them completely for those who benefit from ibuprofen or acetaminophen."

    Nearly 70,000 Physicians Were PAID to Prescribe Opioids

    A recent paper17 hints at one of the reasons why opioids are still so vastly overprescribed. Between 2013 and 2015 alone, 68,177 physicians received in excess of $46 million in payments from drug companies marketing narcotic pain relievers.18 In all, that amounts to 1 out of every 12 doctors in the U.S. As noted by pediatrician Scott Hadland, who led the study, "The next step is to understand these links between payments and prescribing practices and overdose deaths."

    Conventional Pain Management Needs Radical Overhaul

    Dr. Karen Lasser, associate professor of medicine and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine's Clinical Addiction Research & Education (CARE) Unit, told CBS News pain management needs significant revision:19

    "Doctors need to adopt a stepped-care approach to pain management. With this approach, doctors would first try to manage pain using nondrug means — such as physical therapy, yoga or acupuncture — or prescribe milder pain medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

    There would be guidelines for all the medications you should try before you get to opioids. In addition, patients should have to sign an opioid treatment agreement outlining the risks and benefits of such therapy, so they understand the potential for addiction."

    Oral Surgeons and Dentists Are Major Opioid Prescribers

    Oral surgeons and dentists, in particular, need to reconsider their prescribing habits. Each year, about 3 million Americans, most under the age of 25, have their wisdom teeth removed, and most if not all receive a prescription for opioids. This, despite research20,21 showing a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen actually works better than opioids for the treatment of pain following wisdom tooth extractions.

    As noted by The New York Times,22 "dentists and oral surgeons are by far the major prescribers of opioids for people ages 10 to 19," and even short-term use is associated with future opioid misuse and addiction among teens and young adults.

    In fact, children who receive an opioid have a 1 in 3 chance of "lifetime illicit use." According to recent research,23 of the people who received a mere 12-day supply of an opioid, 1 in 4 were still taking the drug one year later, and that includes all age groups. Children and teens are at higher risk for continued use once they're exposed.24

    Overdose Deaths Continue to Climb

    While you certainly hear more about the dangers of opioids these days, growing awareness has yet to impact death statistics. According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics, more Americans died from opioid overdoses in the first nine months of 2016 than in the first nine months of 2015. When broken down into quarters, you can see the death toll from drug overdoses steadily climbing, quarter by quarter.25

    First quarter of 2015: 16.3 overdose deaths for every 100,000 people
    Second quarter of 2015: 16.2 overdose deaths per 100,000
    Third quarter of 2015: 16.7 overdose deaths per 100,000
    First quarter of 2016: 18.9 overdose deaths per 100,000
    Second quarter of 2016: 19.3 overdose deaths per 100,000
    Third quarter of 2016: 19.9 drug overdose deaths per 100,000

    Other recent research drives home the severity of the problem, showing opioid deaths have been significantly underestimated. According to this report,26 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, mortality statistics involving drug overdoses from 2008 through 2014 underestimated opioid-related deaths by 24 percent. Overdose deaths involving heroin was underestimated by 22 percent.

    Spike in Fatal Car Crashes Linked to Opioid Use

    Overdose deaths are not the only problem associated with skyrocketing opioid use. It's also causing people to die on our roadways. Statistics reveal driving under the influence of drugs now causes more fatal car crashes than drunken driving.

    According to a report27,28,29 compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, prescription and/or illegal drugs were involved in 43 percent of fatal car crashes in 2015, while 37 percent involved illegal amounts of alcohol.

    Another recent report30 found drivers killed in car crashes while under the influence of opioids specifically rose seven-fold between 1995 and 2015. Among male drivers killed, the prevalence of prescription narcotics in their system increased from 1 percent in 1995 to 5 percent in 2015. Among women, narcotic pain relievers were implicated in 1 percent in 1995 and 7 percent in 2015.

    According to lead author Stanford Chihuri, staff associate in the department of anesthesiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, "The significant increase in proportion of drivers who test positive for prescription pain medications is an urgent public health concern.31 "

    Co-author Dr. Guohua Li, professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, added,32 "The opioid epidemic has been defined primarily by the counts of overdose fatalities. Our study suggests that increases in opioid consumption may carry adverse health consequences far beyond overdose morbidity and mortality."

    Avoid Driving Under the Influence of Narcotics

    It's important to realize that illegal drugs are far from the only drugs capable of impairing your judgment behind the wheel. Hundreds of medications can impair your driving ability, including some sold over-the-counter. Opioids are certainly part of that list. Drugs — both prescription and illegal — in combination with alcohol is particularly risky.

    So, please, if you absolutely must take a prescription painkiller, carefully assess your ability to drive safely. Ideally, let someone else drive. And, if you know someone who is using an opioid, remember that just as with alcohol, "friends don't let friends drive impaired."

    President Trump Declares State of Emergency

    In related news, a government opioid commission recently called for President Trump to declare a state of emergency to force Congress to fund strategies to curtail and treat opioid addiction.33,34,35

    The commission is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Other members include Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Bertha Madra, a psychobiology professor at Harvard Medical School. In their White House report, the commission states:36

    "According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) … 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose … The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled. The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined. In fact, between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 people in this country died due to drug overdoses — this is a death toll larger than the entire population of Atlanta …

    In 2015, nearly two-thirds of drug overdoses were linked to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl … [H]ere is the grim reality: Americans consume more opioids than any other country in the world. In fact, in 2015, the amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.

    Since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses in America have quadrupled … Not coincidentally, in that same period, the amount of prescription opioids … quadrupled as well. This massive increase in prescribing has occurred despite the fact that there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain Americans have reported in that time period.

    We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor's offices and hospitals in every state in our nation."

    President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency on August 10, saying, "The opioid crisis is an emergency … It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had … We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."37

    Pain and Hopelessness Fuel Opioid Crisis

    According to recent research, half of all Americans are living with chronic illness,38 and many addiction specialists believe pain and hopelessness are driving the opioid crisis in the U.S. As noted in The Washington Post:39

    "Fatal overdoses from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and heroin overdoses have gone up about six-fold since 2001. But other drugs also play a role. A Post analysis of federal health data found that white women are five times as likely as white men, for example, to be prescribed drugs for anxiety in tandem with painkillers, a potentially deadly combination.

    Meanwhile, the suicide rate among middle-aged white women has risen in parallel with prescriptions for often-ineffective psychiatric drugs. Both have roughly doubled since 1999 … According to federal health officials, nearly 1 in 4 white women ages 50 to 64 are [sic] being treated with antidepressants. Binge drinking is also on the rise, as women close the gap with heavier-drinking white males."

    Limiting the availability of opioids and making overdose-reversal drugs (naloxone) and treatment for drug addiction more readily available are certainly part of the answer. But it's not enough. We have to take a much deeper look at the root of the problem. What is causing all this physical and emotional pain in the first place?

    Clearly, the U.S. health care system is blatantly ineffective at treating chronic health problems. Whether ill health is promoting hopelessness or the other way around is difficult to ascertain, but the two appear to be closely intertwined and need to be addressed together. Somehow or another, we need to refocus our efforts to create lives worth living, and improve access to and information about basic disease prevention, such as healthy foods and foundational health-promoting lifestyle strategies.

    Nondrug Solutions for Pain Relief

    It's important to realize that in addition to the risk of addiction, opioids can also severely impair your health by suppressing your immune function. In fact, several studies show that one primary risk for HIV and AIDS is opiate exposure.40,41,42,43 In cancer patients, opiates have a tendency to produce a rapid decline in health as the drug causes their immune system to falter.

    So please remember, opiates are highly immunosuppressive drugs that raise your risk of any number of diseases, as your immune system is your frontline defense against all disease. It's particularly important to avoid opioids when trying to address long-term chronic pain, as your body will create a tolerance to the drug.

    Over time, you may require greater doses at more frequent intervals to achieve the same pain relief. This is a recipe for disaster and could have lethal consequences. Following is information about nondrug remedies, dietary changes and bodywork interventions that can help you manage your pain.

    Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet

    Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.

    Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat

    Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, by manipulating prostaglandins.) Good sources include wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies, which are all high in healthy omega-3s while being low in contaminants such as mercury. As for supplements, my favorite is krill oil, as it has a number of benefits superior to fish oil.

    Optimize your sun exposure and production of vitamin D

    Optimize your vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain. Sun exposure also has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects that are unrelated to vitamin D production, and these benefits cannot be obtained from a vitamin D supplement.

    Red, near-, mid- and far-infrared light therapy (photobiology) and/or infrared saunas may also be quite helpful as it promotes and speeds tissue healing, even deep inside the body.

    Medical cannabis

    Medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic and is now legal in 29 U.S. states. You can learn more about the laws in your state on medicalmarijuana.procon.org.44


    Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is another plant remedy that has become a popular opioid substitute.45 In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom and list it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. However, following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative, the agency reversed its decision.46

    Kratom is likely safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain. However, it's important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should not be used carelessly. There's very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next.

    Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it's still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.

    Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

    EFT is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, and negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.

    K-Laser, class 4 laser therapy

    If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis or other inflammation-based pain, I'd strongly encourage you to try K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers.

    K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation and enhance tissue healing — both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments or even bones. The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip.


    Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain such as low back pain.

    Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate health care training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.


    Research has discovered a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck and shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis and headaches.

    Physical therapy

    Physical therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.

    Foundation training

    Foundation training is an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat his own chronic low back pain. It's an excellent alternative to painkillers and surgery, as it actually addresses the cause of the problem.


    A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, fibromyalgia pain and spinal cord pain.47

    The review revealed massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.

    Mind-body methods

    Methods such as hot and cold packs, aquatic therapy, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy48 and various mind-body techniques, including meditation and mindfulness training can also result in astonishing pain relief without drugs.

    For example, among volunteers who had never meditated before, those who attended four 20-minute classes to learn a meditation technique called focused attention (a form of mindfulness meditation) experienced significant pain relief — a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.49


    Walking barefoot on the earth may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.


    Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 milligrams (mg) or more per day to achieve this benefit.


    This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.


    In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.50


    Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients.


    This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.

    Cetyl myristoleate (CMO)

    This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and carpal tunnel syndrome. I used a topical preparation for this.

    Evening primrose, black currant and borage oils

    These contain the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is particularly useful for treating arthritic pain.

    Cayenne cream

    Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.

    Low-dose naltrexone (LDN)

    Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses (LDN, available only by prescription), it triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain.

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  • Factory-Farmed Meats Quickly Replaced With Grass Fed
    published on August 14th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Industrial agriculture, characterized by vast swatches of genetically engineered corn and soybean fields and livestock raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), is swiftly destroying the planet and worsening human health in the process. In exchange for cheap meat, we're paying a hefty price, one that may be infinite in the damage it's causing via pollution.

    It's clear the industry is unsustainable, and now it's been blamed for causing a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that's incompatible with life. Before the destruction continues, it's essential that transitions to regenerative agriculture occur. The good news is that such changes appear to be rapidly occurring in areas of the U.S.

    Tyson Foods Blamed for Causing Largest Dead Zone on Record

    In a report released by environmental group Mighty Earth, massive manure and fertilizer pollution churned out by meat giant Tyson Foods is blamed for causing the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico.1 According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the area of low oxygen, which can kill marine life, is nearly 9,000 square miles, which is about the size of New Jersey.2

    The dead zone is primarily the result of nutrient pollution from agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed. The excess nutrients promote the growth of algae that decomposes, using up oxygen needed to support life. Mighty Earth singled out Tyson and another meat giant, Smithfield, as top contributors to the dead zone for several key reasons:3

    • Tyson produces 1 out of every 5 pounds of meat in the U.S. and is the only company with processing facilities in each of the states contributing the highest levels of pollution to the Gulf of Mexico
    • Tyson and Smithfield have the highest concentration of meat facilities in the areas with the highest levels of nitrate contamination
    • Tyson's feed suppliers are responsible for the majority of grassland prairie clearance in the U.S., which "dramatically magnifies the impacts of fertilizer pollution"

    According to Mighty Earth, "To identify the companies responsible, the investigation maps the supply chains of the top meat and feed companies, and overlays it with data showing elevated nitrate concentrations in waterways that are experiencing high levels of fertilizer pollution." They continued:4

    "The report also mapped where these supply chains are driving destruction of natural grasslands, including native prairies, putting new regions at risk for fertilizer pollution. America's largest meat company, Tyson Foods, stood out for its expansive footprint in all the regions suffering the worst pollution impacts from industrial meat and feed production.

    Tyson produces one out of every five pounds of meat produced in the United States, and owns brands like Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park and Sara Lee, in addition to selling to fast food retailers like McDonalds. The company is consistently ranked among the top polluters in America."

    Rotational Grazing Is Making an Appearance in the Midwest

    The report urges Tyson and other meat giants to encourage their grain suppliers to use cover crops and reduce fertilizer usage. This is a start, but as demand grows for meat raised on pasture via small, local farms, it may prompt more widespread changes.

    A two-crop planting cycle of corn and soybeans, along with CAFOs that raise one type of meat, has become the dominant model in the Midwest, thanks to the federal farm policy that subsidizes these crops and regulations that make local meat processing nearly impossible. These favors to corn, soy and meat industries come with devastating consequences to human health and the environment.

    However, slowly some Midwest farmers are exploring other options, including rotational grazing, which allows them to bring in premium prices for their meat by catering to customers who are looking for food raised via natural, environmentally friendly and humane methods. NPR's The Salt recently reported on Wendy Johnson, an Iowa farmer who runs Joia Food Farm, on land rented from her family (which runs a conventional corn and soybean farm):5

    "Johnson's approach relies on grazing different types of animals on the same land in a carefully controlled pattern, which ideally will enhance the land they roam. When used with several different animals, the technique is sometimes called multi-species grazing.

    Johnson plans to rotate sheep through a series of small paddocks, followed by the meat chickens. The animals will eat what they please and fertilize with their waste. Laying hens and turkeys roam freely about her farm and yard. And she plans for pigs to eventually graze on organic crop fields where their natural rooting behavior should help improve soil health."

    Bison Are Also Making a Comeback, Helping to Restore Grasslands

    Bison ranches are also flourishing in some areas, such as in Montana at Turner Enterprises Inc., where vice president of ranch operations Mark Kossler says, "The grass business is the business we're in."6 The National Bison Association, which recently launched a "Bison Hump Day" campaign to encourage people to eat bison meat on Wednesdays, hopes to increase the bison population in North America to 1 million in the next decade.

    As with grass fed beef, free-ranging bison also have the potential to increase natural grasslands and reduce pollution in the U.S. Dave Cater, executive director of the National Bison Association, told Delicious Living:7

    "We think that more bison on the land is a good thing, not only for people that love to eat bison and people who love to raise bison, but for the land itself. This is the animal that helped shape the ecosystem of North America. We think that bringing more bison back helps restore acres of native grasslands and range lands."

    Raising bison on natural grasslands, helping to restore the environment, could be called the opposite of raising cattle in CAFOs. And it's catching on with some big-name food giants interested in cashing in on the growing bison market, including General Mills. The company recently acquired EPIC Provisions, a "mindful meat company" whose top seller is a Bison Bacon Cranberry Bar made with grass fed bison.8

    EPIC Provisions is changing the game in producing products made only with meat from suppliers following regenerative agricultural methods. What's more, they're helping potential producers who want to change their practices to meet their higher standards. General Mills clearly sees "green" with EPIC, in more ways than one.

    So far, the company's founders have promised not to sell out their greener ways now that they've been acquired by the food giant. "In our case, it's not about a large company changing EPIC. It's about EPIC changing General Mills," they told New Hope Network.9

    Grass Fed Producers Meet With Amazon

    If there were ever a sign that grass fed meat and dairy are catching on, it would be the "secret" meeting that took place between Amazon and a select group of grass fed farmers. Speculated to have taken place at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia, a grass fed farm that has reached somewhat of celebrity status among those in the know, it's unclear exactly what was discussed at the meeting — but several theories have been put out there. As The New Food Economy suggested:10

    "Amazon's move toward grassfed is straight out of the standard tech industry playbook: identify an industry struggling with bottlenecked demand, and use transformative tech to get people more of what they want … This is a huge opportunity for Amazon, which could use its logistical sophistication and enormous financial resources to build from scratch the supply chain that grass-based ranchers need.

    … But skeptics have a right to be concerned, too. Are the values of regenerative farming compatible with a steamrolling, publically traded tech titan? And what about the cultural piece: Can rural, mission-driven ranchers really partner up with Silicon Valley's most unctuous wheelers and dealers?"

    Whether or not Amazon's move to get into the grass fed market will turn out to be positive remains to be seen, but it's clear the growing industry is in need of a helping hand. While still thought of as a niche market, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York released a report showing that grass fed systems could be expanded — enough so to compete with the polluting and inhumane concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) currently supplying the majority of U.S. beef.11

    Two major hurdles stand in their way, the first being CAFOs, which have access to more efficient supply chains and slaughterhouses. For instance, farmers must use USDA-approved slaughterhouses, and laws place special restrictions on grass fed slaughtering.

    If a grass fed rancher doesn't have access to a slaughterhouse, he cannot stay in business. This shrewd strategy effectively maintains the CAFO status quo because grass fed farmers are often forced to ship their animals hundreds of miles for "processing" — a move that's both costly and stressful.

    Imports of grass fed beef, which make up 75 percent to 80 percent of U.S. grass fed beef sales by value, are another hurdle. Australia and Brazil can produce grass fed beef at a lower cost, as their climate allows for year-round grazing. U.S. consumers may not know the grass fed beef they purchase isn't from the U.S., however, because as long as a piece of imported beef passes through a USDA-inspected plant, it can be labeled as a "Product of the USA."

    Again, it's unclear whether a joint venture between Amazon and grass fed farmers would increase transparency or, on the flip side, secrecy. "If Amazon's grass fed supply chain ends up being as off-limits as its data centers," The New Food Economy noted, "that won't be an encouraging sign for the future of agriculture."12

    Grasslands and Cover Crops Are Crucial to Saving Our Soil and Water

    USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) convenes sessions around the U.S. in an effort to improve soil health and teach farmers how to use less fertilizer and produce the same, and in some cases better, yields. In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, Phil Robertson of Michigan State University explained three "game-changing" practices that could help make soils "net mitigating," meaning they capture more greenhouse gases than they emit.13

    1. No-till cultivation, in which crops are grown without plowing
    2. Advanced nitrogen fertilizer management, or applying only minimal amounts of fertilizer
    3. Cover crops

    The latter strategy alone, cover crops, can virtually eliminate the need for irrigation when done right. The cover crops also act as insulation, so the soil doesn't get as hot or cold as it would if bare. This allows microbes to thrive longer. Also, the soil biology heats up the soil, which can extend your overall growing season in colder areas, and it helps prevent soil erosion and reduces the need for agricultural chemicals.

    Even in the Midwest, where most fields are still covered in conventionally grown corn and soy, change is brewing. Mother Jones spoke with David Brandt, who farms 1,200 acres in Ohio and has transitioned to no-till and cover crops, with impressive results, including drastically reduced usage of fertilizers and herbicides.

    "[T]here are three things that set Brandt's practices apart from those of his neighbors — and of most American farmers. The first is his dedication to off-season cover crops, which are used on just 1 percent of US farmland each year.

    The second involves his hostility to tilling — he sold his tillage equipment in 1971. That has become somewhat more common with the rise of corn and soy varieties genetically engineered for herbicide resistance, which has allowed farmers to use chemicals instead of the plow to control weeds.

    But most … use 'rotational tillage' — they till in some years but not others, thus losing any long-term soil-building benefit. Finally, and most simply, Brandt adds wheat to the ubiquitous corn-soy rotation favored by his peers throughout the Corn Belt. Bringing in a third crop disrupts weed and pest patterns, and a 2012 Iowa State University study found that by doing so, farmers can dramatically cut down on herbicide and other agrichemical use."14

    While it would seem that farmers would be scrambling to adopt a more diversified cropping approach, along with beneficial strategies like cover crops and no-till, many barriers stand in their way. There can be significant costs in the short term to stray from their usual rotation, for instance, and planting cover crops requires more management and work hours.

    Further, many farmers lack the practical know-how to convert to more complex crop rotations, as well access to research showing that doing so would be beneficial. Federal farm policies also support the old system, as Mother Jones noted, "[F]ederal crop payouts and subsidized crop insurance buffer their losses, giving them little short-term incentive to change."15

    Where You Get Your Food Matters

    Sourcing your foods from a local farmer is one of your best bets to ensure you're getting something wholesome. And, you'll be supporting the small farms — not the mega-farming corporations — in your area. Ideally, support farmers who are using diverse cropping methods, such as planting of cover crops, raising animals on pasture and other methods of regenerative agriculture.

    The American Grassfed Association (AGA) has also introduced much-needed grass fed standards and certification for American-grown grass fed dairy,16 which will allow for greater transparency and conformity.17 The standard is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations about grass fed dairy, while being feasible for small farmers to achieve.

    An AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.18 I strongly encourage you to seek out AGA certified dairy products as they become available. In the Midwest, the Kalona SuperNatural brand is the first dairy brand to become AGA-certified.

    Another option is to join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Doing so can make a big difference in how well a small family farm can survive and thrive. As a CSA member, you buy a "share" of the vegetables the farm produces, and each week during growing season (usually May through October) you receive a weekly delivery of fresh food.

    Joining a CSA is a powerful investment not only in your own health, but in that of your local community and economy as well. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate CSAs and other farm-fresh foods in your area:


    EatWild.com provides lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other organic produce. Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

    Weston A. Price Foundation

    The Weston A. Price Foundation 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 grassfed 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 and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

    Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

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


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

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  • Monsanto Shill Fired by Forbes
    published on August 14th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    A common corporate tactic, well-honed by the tobacco industry, is to use "third-party experts" to bring the industry's message to the public under the cloak of independent opinion or expertise. The idea is that academic types are far more credible than industry employees when it comes to defending the industry's position.

    Over the years, I've written about many of these so-called "independent experts" that turned out to be anything but. Among them is Henry Miller, who was thoroughly outed as a Monsanto shill during the 2012 Proposition 37 GMO labeling campaign in California.

    Henry Miller Outed as Monsanto Puppet — Again

    The industry-funded "No on Prop 37" placed Miller front and center of its campaign, breaking all sorts of rules in the process. As the Los Angeles Times1 reported at the time, a No on 37 advertisement had to be pulled off the air because Miller was fraudulently identified as being part of the Stanford University faculty. Behind him in the shot was Stanford's recognizable vaulted campus walkway.

    Alas, not only is Miller not a Stanford professor (he's a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank that just happens to be housed on the Stanford campus), Stanford also has a policy to not take positions on candidates or ballot measures, and does not allow political filming on campus.

    Aside from promoting genetically engineered (GE) foods (he was actually the founding director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Biotechnology), Miller also has a long history2 of defending toxic chemicals such as neonicotinoid pesticides, DDT and cigarettes.

    He's even penned articles suggesting radioactive fallout might be beneficial for health, while claiming "Organic agriculture is to the environment what cigarette smoking is to human health" — apparently momentarily forgetting he's defended the safety of cigarette smoking.3

    Miller is also a friend of the infamous industry front group American Council for Science and Health (ACSH), which has defended everything from fracking and pesticides to bisphenol-A and GE foods. Now, Miller has made less than flattering headlines yet again — this time for being fired by Forbes Magazine for submitting articles ghostwritten by Monsanto.

    Unethical Ghostwriting More Common Than You Might Suspect

    Monsanto isn't feeding the world as they claim, but they sure are spoon-feeding scientists, academics and journalists. This shameful practice is far more common than anyone would like to think. Fortunately, Forbes had the integrity to do something about it this time.

    That doesn't always happen. The evidence4 against Miller emerged during the court-ordered discovery process of a class action lawsuit against Monsanto by people who claim they developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as a result of glyphosate exposure (the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, used by farmers and home gardeners alike).

    The documents, more than 700 pages in all, were posted online by the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman,5 which states the documents "allow people to see what is happening 'behind the curtain' of secrecy that normally shrouds ongoing litigation … These documents tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation, collusion with the Environmental Protection Agency, and previously undisclosed information about how the human body absorbs glyphosate." As reported by The New York Times:6

    "Documents show that Henry I. Miller … asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes's website in 2015 … A similar issue appeared in academic research.

    An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, appeared to express discomfort with the process, writing in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, 'I can't be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.' He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: 'We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.'"

    Miller Fired for Submitting Ghostwritten Material 

    While there's controversy about the legality of the release of these internal emails by plaintiff's attorneys to the public,7 Forbes' response was swift. Faced with evidence they'd published material under Miller's name that was in fact ghostwritten by Monsanto, Forbes not only fired Miller but also removed all of his work from their site.

    The article in question, published in 2015, attacked the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, which had classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Email correspondence reveals Monsanto asked Miller if he'd be willing to write an article on the findings, to which he replied "I would be if I could start from a high-quality draft."

    The subsequent article, which was near-identical to Monsanto's draft, was published in Miller's name, with no mention of Monsanto involvement.8 Forbes' site expressly states that "opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own," which in this case clearly was not true. Mia Carbonell, a Forbes spokeswoman, told The New York Times:  

    "All contributors to Forbes.com sign a contract requiring them to disclose any potential conflicts of interest and only publish content that is their own original writing. When it came to our attention that Mr. Miller violated these terms, we removed his blog from Forbes.com and ended our relationship with him."

    Correspondence Reveals Internal Knowledge of Roundup Dangers

    The released email correspondence also reveals Monsanto executives are clearly aware there are safety concerns with Roundup as a formulation, and its main ingredient, glyphosate, and have been for well over 15 years. As noted in the featured article:9

    "'In a 2002 email, a Monsanto executive said, 'What I've been hearing from you is that this continues to be the case with these studies — Glyphosate is O.K. but the formulated product (and thus the surfactant) does the damage.'

    In a 2003 email, a different Monsanto executive tells others, 'You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen … we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.' She adds, however, that 'we can make that statement about glyphosate and can infer that there is no reason to believe that Roundup would cause cancer.'"

    Proof of Industry Involvement in Retraction of Damning Research 

    The documents also show Monsanto pressured A. Wallace Hayes, then-editor of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, to retract a damning animal study by professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, which showed Roundup and GE corn caused cancer and early death. Hayes, it turns out, had entered into a contract with Monsanto shortly before the coordinated retraction campaign began.

    While Hayes denies Monsanto had anything to do with his controversial and widely criticized decision to retract Séralini's study, the email correspondence suggests otherwise.10 As noted by GM Watch:11  

    "Back in 2012, GMWatch founder Jonathan Matthews exposed the industry links of the supposedly independent scientists who lobbied the journal editor to retract the Séralini paper. Now we have first-hand proof of Monsanto's direct involvement …  [Monsanto scientist David] Saltmiras ... writes of how 'Throughout the late 2012 Séralini rat cancer publication and media campaign, I leveraged my relationship [with] the Editor i[n] Chief of the publishing journal …

    Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes … about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign … Sachs writes: 'I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency …

    I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper' … Sachs is keen to ensure that Monsanto is not publicly seen as attempting to get the paper retracted, even though that is precisely what it is doing. Sachs writes to Monsanto scientist William Heydens:

    There is a difference between defending science and participating in a formal process to retract a publication that challenges the safety of our products. We should not provide ammunition for Séralini, GM critics and the media to charge that Monsanto used its might to get this paper retracted. The information that we provided ... makes a strong case that the paper should not have passed peer review."

    Forbes Has Many Shills

    Ironically, as recently as November 2016, Miller delivered a critical salvo against a New York Times article in which Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Danny Hakim argued that GE agriculture is a failure because it has neither reduced pesticide usage nor led to increases in yields. Miller was one of the "independent experts" contacted for rebuttal by Forbes contributor Kavin Senapathy. She writes:12

    "… Miller tells me via email that '[t]he senior management at the Times takes valid criticism seriously, especially when it contains terms like 'bias,' 'dishonesty,' and 'inaccuracy.' He expects there will be an avalanche of complaints to the Times public editor at public@nytimes.com."

     You can contact Forbes to let them know how you feel about the biased stable of writes they hire by emailing them at readers@forbes.com. You can find similar bias in other articles at Forbes.13 14 15,16

    If Forbes really wants to clean up its act, its editors would take a moment to investigate any contributing author relying solely on information from these and other known industry shills and/or industry front groups. It's a pretty close-knit group of individuals, so the worst actors are not hard to identify based on their associations.

    Besides the Genetic Literacy Project and the ACSH, both with ties to Monsanto,17 there are many other industry front groups and websites specializing in astroturfing while pretending to be independent and science oriented. That includes but is certainly not limited to the following.18

    Science 2.0

    Science Codex

    GMO Answers

    Center for Consumer Freedom

    Independent Women's Forum

    Center for Inquiry

    Once you start to investigate these front groups, you'll find the same names appearing again and again, co-writing articles, interviewing each other and referring to each other's work back and forth.

    Aside from those already mentioned, well-known contributors speaking for the industry include Kevin Folta, professor and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at University of Florida — who, incidentally, was also contacted by Senapathy for comment on her Forbes piece against Hakim's "hack job on GMOs," and Keith Kloor.19

    Why Lack of Trust in Science Is Warranted

    It's bad enough that most published research findings turn out to be false due to poor design or bias, organizations such as these willfully promote flawed or flat-out manufactured science to support industry goals, while attacking research that conflicts with their aims — no matter how well done that research is. Complaints have been raised that many are "losing faith" in science and just don't trust it anymore. Considering the evidence, this makes perfect sense, as so much of it IS false.

    As noted in a 2005 paper20 titled, "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False," published in PLOS Medicine, John Ioannidis notes: "Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias."

    While science in general fails to hit the truth squarely on the head even under the best of circumstances, the chances of an industry-funded study being wrong is FAR greater than one done by independent researchers, who tend to be less vested in the outcome. There's really no disputing this.

    Not only has funding bias been repeatedly demonstrated in studies looking at funding and study outcomes, if it weren't true, the industry would not go to such great lengths to secretly hire academics, researchers and journalists to pretend as if they're speaking as independent experts. Nor would any of these front groups exist — groups pretending to be grassroots efforts by concerned citizens or organizations by science-loving academics, and so on. They wouldn't be necessary if industry-backed science were trustworthy.

    Illegitimate Science and Fake Journalism Are a Real Threat

    The fact of the matter is, these front groups and paid lackeys are not dealing in legitimate science or journalism. To hide that fact, they try to intimidate and shame people as "science-deniers." Regardless of how this class action lawsuit against Monsanto pans out, it has done a great public service, revealing just how far companies like Monsanto will go to deceive, and the amount of human suffering they're willing to cause in the name of profitability with nary a thought of remorse.

    With the evidence before us, why should anyone trust them, or anyone involved in their scheme? As the old adage goes, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Some of the released emails reveal Monsanto has not properly tested its chemical formulations, and that they are in fact terrified of doing so, for fear of what might be found.

    In document No. 28, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Stephen Adams states, "With regards to the carcinogenicity of our formulations we don't have such testing on them directly …"

    This email was dated December 10, 2010. In an email dating all the way back to 2001, Mark Martens — a former Monsanto employee with a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences — addresses the issue of formulation testing, saying, "I don't know for sure how suppliers would react — but if somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react — with serious concern. We have to really think about doing formulations even if they are not on the market …"21

    According to the plaintiff attorneys, "This document is relevant and reasonably likely to be used in this litigation as it contains explicit concerns by Monsanto regarding the biological plausibility of the formulated product to cause cancer."

    Emails written by a Monsanto toxicologist also show the company did not want to conduct any kind of safety studies on glyphosate, surfactant ingredients or the formulations. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but when a company chooses to remain ignorant of its product's dangers in order to absolve itself from responsibility for its effects, all the public gets are woes.

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  • Americans Are on More Drugs Than Ever
    published on August 14th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    If you’re a U.S. adult and don’t regularly take a prescription drug, you’re now in the minority, according to a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults by Consumer Reports.1 The revealing sample found that more than half of U.S. adults regularly take prescription medications, and the average adult takes four. If it seems like your friends and family are taking more drugs than they did in the past — or if adults use more meds than they did when you were a kid — it’s not in your imagination, either.

    Consumer Reports found that the total number of prescriptions filled by Americans (including children) increased by 85 percent from 1997 to 2016 — but the total U.S. population increased by only 21 percent during that time.

    $200 Billion a Year Spent on Improper Use of Prescription Drugs

    In some cases, prescription drugs are necessary, but in many they are not. In fact, a report by QuintilesIMS, formerly known as IMS Health, Institute for Healthcare Informatics revealed that $200 billion a year, or 8 percent of U.S. health care spending, is spent on medical care resulting from improper or unnecessary use of prescription drugs.2

    Medication errors and problems that arise from taking multiple medications are key problems, as is the misuse of antibiotics and inappropriate prescribing. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, more than 2 million serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) occur every year in the U.S, leading to 100,000 deaths. ADRs are actually the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., causing more deaths than pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia and accidents, including car accidents.3

    What’s more, these ADR statistics do not include the ADRs that occur among ambulatory (i.e., non-bedridden) patients, or those in nursing homes, the latter of which is estimated to be 350,000 yearly. The FDA calls ADRs “a significant public health problem that is, for the most part, preventable, noting that costs associated with ADRs are $136 billion a year, which is more than the total costs relating to cardiovascular or diabetic care.

    In addition, ADRs are responsible for 1 out of 5 injuries or deaths per year among hospitalized patients, and when an ADR does occur, the mean length of hospital stay, cost and mortality rate is double that for control patients.4

    Seventy-Five Percent of Doctor Visits End With a Prescription

    “About three-quarters of all visits to a physician end with a drug prescription,” according to a report in the journal Health Affairs.5 The FDA put the number at closer to two-thirds. Either one is shocking, as is the fact that the average American adult takes four prescription drugs, and 75 percent of Americans take at least one over-the-counter drug regularly as well.6 As the FDA notes, “ADRs increase exponentially with four or more mediations.”7

    For starters, many new drugs are brought to market after being tested on an average of 1,500 patient exposures, according to the FDA, which may not be enough to detect serious risks before they’re unleashed upon the masses. “Some drugs cause serious ADRs at very low frequencies and would require many more exposures to detect the reaction,” the FDA stated.8 Further, as Consumer Reports found:9

    “The percentage of Americans taking more than five prescription medications has nearly tripled in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And in our survey, over a third of people 55 and older were taking that many drugs; 9 percent were taking more than 10.

    … And seeing more than one doctor is now the norm: 53 percent of those in our survey taking prescription medications said they received them from two or more providers.”

    This only increases the risk of harm, as there may be no communication between a patient’s numerous health care providers. And unless you specifically bring up the medications you’re taking, a doctor may not consider them when giving you a new prescription.

    You Can’t Depend on Your Pharmacist to Catch Dangerous Drug Interactions

    Many people depend on their doctors and pharmacies to not prescribe or dispense potentially contraindicated drugs, but doctors are not always aware of all the medications their patients are taking (or their potentially dangerous interactions), and any fail-safes in place at pharmacies are also not measuring up.

    In a Chicago Tribune investigation of 255 U.S. pharmacies, it turned out that dangerous drug combinations are putting millions of Americans at risk, representing an “industrywide failure.”10 Fifty-two percent of the pharmacies investigated handed out drug combinations that could result in stroke, kidney failure, oxygen deprivation, unintended pregnancy, birth defects and other health risks.11

    The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requires pharmacists to alert the prescribing doctor if a serious interaction risk is detected, to determine if the prescription is correct and whether an alternative is available. Pharmacists were considered to have “passed” the test if they either contacted the prescribing doctor or warned the reporter about the drug interactions, but in most cases this wasn’t done.

    Simply stapling an informational sheet to the prescription was not deemed to provide sufficient warning, as many people simply throw the pamphlets away without reading them.12 Pharmacies do use computer software designed to flag potential interactions, but the alerts may occur so often that pharmacists start to glaze over them and may miss some of the most important warnings, the Tribune reported.

    Increase in Drugs, Decrease in Life Expectancy

    As the rate of prescription drug prescribing grows ever higher, U.S. life expectancy is not enjoying the same fate. In 2015, the latest year for which data is available, life expectancy for Americans dropped — from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.8 years in 2015. It’s a small change, but one that deserves increasing scrutiny, especially in light of the opioid epidemic and rising rates of obesity and chronic diseases driven by unhealthy lifestyles. U.S. life expectancy is also lower than in many other countries, as STAT News reported:13

    “In 2015, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was nearly 79 years, compared to 81 in the European Union. More than 30 nations have life expectancies exceeding ours, including Hong Kong and Japan (the highest at 84 each), as well as France, Iceland, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland (at 83 each).

    Even Cuba, with many fewer resources for health care than in the U.S., beats us (at 80). The poorest men in America have life expectancies similar to men in Honduras and Paraguay.”

    The cost of health care in the U.S. is also the highest in the world, and continues to rise. Health care now accounts for 17 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).14 But even though the U.S. spends more than $3 trillion on health care each year, it is the worst performing system ranked by multiple aspects of care.15

    Research also shows that most U.S. adults (more than 52 percent) are living with at least one chronic medical condition, mental illness or substance abuse/dependence, with “substantial overlap across the conditions.”16 Unfortunately, throwing more drugs at the problem, and then additional drugs to treat the inevitable side effects, only makes the problem worse. The system is rooted in maximized profits as opposed to helping people maintain or regain their health.

    The majority of the diseases we're trying to "manage" in this manner are lifestyle-related, and if you don't address this root cause, you'll never get better. You're just paying for overpriced bandages that do absolutely nothing to fix the underlying cause and create long-term health and wellness. From ADHD to back pain, heartburn and mild depression, all of these are chronic conditions that are often better treated with lifestyle changes and other nondrug options than prescription meds.

    Protecting Yourself From Dangerous Medication Errors

    If you’re currently taking prescription drugs, every time you take a medication, ask your doctor and your pharmacist about the side effects and whether it’s safe to take with any other medications (prescription or over-the-counter) or supplements you’re currently taking.

    Many common medications, including antibiotics, antidepressants and cholesterol and high blood pressure meds, can be dangerous if taken in the wrong combinations, so don’t simply assume any combination of drugs is safe because your doctor or pharmacist prescribed and dispensed it.

    Make a point of asking if the drugs you’re prescribed are safe when taken together, and remind both your doctor and the pharmacist about your other medications (including over-the-counter drugs). Ask, and then ask again, and if you experience any unusual symptoms after taking a new combination of drugs, ask your health care providers if the drug combination could be to blame.

    The ‘Deprescribing’ Trend

    It’s unusual for doctors to de-prescribe drugs, i.e., take patients off medications, but a number of physicians are joining the “deprescribing” trend and doing just that. “Deprescribing is the process of tapering, stopping, discontinuing or withdrawing drugs, with the goal of managing polypharmacy and improving outcomes,” a report in The Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy explained.17

    At your next physician’s visit, ask your health care provider if the drugs you’re taking are still necessary, or whether you could reduce your dosages or try nondrug treatment options instead. “There’s a big push in our country to practice medicine as if we are fixing machines with a broken part,” Dr. Victoria Sweet told Consumer Reports.

    “Take the pill, fix the symptom, move on. ‘Slow medicine’ means taking time to get to the bottom of what’s making people sick — including medications in some cases — and giving the body a chance to heal.”18 The problem, as Dr. Michael Finkelstein, aka “the Slow Medicine Doctor,” realized, is that even the best medical schools aren’t preparing physicians to heal patients properly.

    Instead, they’re trained in what is essentially fast medicine — surgery and prescription drugs, but nothing to get to the root cause of the disease. In addition, the entire health care system is primed for this approach, with insurance companies covering primarily conventional approaches like medications but not necessarily safer options like acupuncture, chiropractic care, cognitive therapy and more.

    Lifestyle changes, including healthy diet, are key, however, as is attention to your emotional health and happiness. Deprescribing is also often a part of the solution to feeling better. Research on the topic is growing, with promising results geared toward giving physicians guidelines on how to effectively help their patients get off unnecessary drugs. One review found that in many cases “medications could be successfully withdrawn with little to no harm to the patient; some trials also demonstrated benefits such as reduced fall risk.”19

    Ultimately, reducing your reliance on prescription and over-the-counter drugs is your best protection against drug interactions, and often is the route to improved health and wellness. This is done foundationally, by leading a healthy lifestyle and taking control of your health.

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  • Catechins Are Key to Good Health
    published on August 13th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    If not for the fact it's been scientifically proven, you might say the health advantages of green tea are legendary. You may have heard the proverb "History became legend, and legend became myth." This is certainly something that could be said about green tea, as unfortunately it's shifted far into the background for most Americans, undoubtedly because it pales in comparison in popularity to the bold brew known as coffee and the derivatives thereof.

    It's unfortunate because green tea contains a particularly powerful ingredient researchers have recognized for some pretty spectacular benefits. However, many of them have been known to ancient healers for millennia. The latest studies indicate a new interest that shouldn't be taken lightly. To unpack the benefits, there's one compound in particular — antioxidant catechins — with potential for your mind as well as your body. As study author Xuebo Liu explains:

    "Green tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, and is grown in at least 30 countries. The ancient habit of drinking green tea may be a more acceptable alternative to medicine when it comes to combating obesity, insulin resistance and memory impairment."1

    Study: How Green Tea Compound Can Protect Your Body and Brain

    How sad is it that a meal regimen loaded with sugar and all the wrong fats is often referred to as "the Western diet?" But a new study shows that epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, is a catechin that may help counteract the negative effects of this notoriously nutrition-deficient approach to food. While the initial study2 was done on mice, scientists believe the same antioxidant effects would apply to humans.

    The researchers' goal was to investigate the protective effects of EGCG treatment on insulin resistance and memory impairment induced by a high-fat and high-fructose diet (HFFD). The researchers divided 3-month-old mice into three groups and gave each group a different diet: the control group, a high-fat and high-fructose diet, and a HFFD plus EGCG. Although3 more research is needed to know exactly how much ECGC is needed, here's what they found four months later:4

    • EGCG prevented HFFD-elicited memory impairment and neuronal loss
    • EGCG significantly ameliorated insulin resistance and cognitive disorder by upregulating the insulin receptor response having to do with brain-signaling pathways
    • Long-term HFFD-triggered neuroinflammation was restored by EGCG supplementation, in part by inhibiting the expression of inflammatory mediators
    • EGCG also reversed high glucose and glucosamine-induced insulin resistance in neuronal cells by improving the oxidized cellular status and mitochondrial function

    Those are some pretty dramatic improvements — and to think the same may be available to humans simply by consuming EGCG is extremely compelling. In addition, the mice eating the HFFD were heavier than those eating the regular diet, and significantly heavier than the HFFD mice supplemented with EGCG. Further, the HFFD mice showed greater memory impairment than the others. 

    These aren't the first positive results; one study highlighted the effect of drinking green tea on breast cancer due to the high catechin content.5 Additionally, green tea aficionados who drink at least five cups per day were shown in another study to have a 28 percent decrease in their heart disease risk6 (the black tea also tested in the study reflected no such benefit).

    Forbes noted that most studies on green tea have been done on people in Asia, or at least on people eating what is considered an Asian diet, which is quite different from what is typically consumed in the U.S. However, believing the findings to be a sort of green light to gastronomical cart blanche is a move in the wrong direction, Forbes noted. "It's more an exploration of how powerful the effects of dietary antioxidants can be."7

    10 Benefits of Green Tea Extract

    If drinking green tea has those kinds of benefits for your health, you can imagine what else the catechin compounds can do for you. Authority Nutrition8 lists several possible advantages of green tea extract and/or supplementation, connected to a number of clinical studies:

    Health benefits range from promoting heart, liver and brain health to improving your skin and reducing your cancer risk9

    Green tea is high in EGCG, which may reduce oxidative stress by fighting cell damage caused by free radicals10

    Benefits exercise and recovery beyond exercise as it can reduce cellular damage and delay muscle fatigue11 and provide enhanced antioxidant protection and exercise performance12

    Protects your brain from Alzheimer's and dementia, decreases heavy metal toxicity,13 improves memory and increases brain function14

    Helps with weight loss due to the combination of catechins and caffeine,15 regulating thermogenesis hormones16

    May reduce your cancer risk, as EGCG helps balance cell production and death,17 and may lower risks of prostate and breast cancers18

    Improves skin, including dermatitis, rosacea, warts, skin aging and acne,19 improves elasticity, reduces sun damage

    Helps lower blood sugar by enhancing insulin sensitivity and regulating blood sugar production20 and decreasing fasting blood sugar levels21

    Benefits liver function by reducing inflammation from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), liver enzyme levels22 and fat content and inflammation23

    Antioxidants promote heart health by reducing blood fat levels,24 blood pressure, inflammation and triglycerides,25 and burns more calories26

    Interestingly, another study showed that individuals with higher than average waist sizes (central obesity) experienced a weight decrease after drinking green tea for 12 weeks, as well as lowered waist circumference and body mass index.27 Green tea extract can increase the antioxidant capacity in your body.

    Regarding cell damage from free radicals, another study notes their nefarious association with several serious diseases, as well as aging, which is another reason why drinking more green tea is a good idea, or even taking green tea supplements.28

    Another Toothsome Advantage of Green Tea Consumption

    Sensitive teeth often prevent people from drinking hot or cold beverages, but this is another problem green tea may help with. A green tea formulated toothpaste addresses the problem, and is said to ease the pain of sensitivity in teeth and preventing cavities as a bonus. This bit of research presents a remedy for a related dilemma, as existing toothpastes for sensitive teeth haven't had the best track record in retaining their effects for very long. Daily Mail notes:

    "Dental erosion is often the most common cause of pain or discomfort to the teeth. A phytochemical in the herbal drink has previously been shown to fight a bacteria which causes tooth decay. The new mixture combines this with an ingredient commonly used in sensitive toothpastes and an essential mineral for strong teeth."29

    Erosion that attacks tooth enamel exposes a bony tissue known as dentin, which contains microscopic hollow tubes that, when exposed, allows foods and hot and cold liquids to make contact with underlying nerve endings in the teeth, exacerbating the pain. Unprotected dentin can also speed up cavity formation.

    Dentists generally approach the problem by plugging the tubes with a mineral called nanohydroxyapatite, but brushing, teeth grinding and acid produced by bacteria and erosion over time breaks the material down, further exposing the dentin and causing resumed pain.

    Chinese researchers used both nanohydroxyapatite and green tea extract (which, incidentally, has been shown to successfully combat streptococcus mutans, which forms biofilms on teeth that can cause cavities) along with the nanoparticles of the mineral silica, which resists damage from acid. Additionally:

    "The team tested this on extracted wisdom teeth and found that the formula plugged the dentin tubules. It also released EGCG for at least 96 hours and stood up to tooth erosion and abrasive brushing and prevented biofilm formation (and) showed low toxicity."30

    Green tea also serves to freshen your breath due to its natural ability to keep sugar-based plaque from forming on teeth, and captures sulphur-containing compounds that can cause odor. Here are another couple of benefits from green tea that you can sink your teeth into: One or more cups of green tea a day can increases your chances of keeping your teeth as you age, a Japanese study reports, although sugar added to your tea may negate the effect. And say no to artificial sweeteners.

    Ditch the 'Western Diet' — Here's a Better Way of Eating

    Contrary to conventional advice, a ketogenic diet — which is very low in net carbohydrates and high in healthy fats — is actually a vital key to boosting mitochondrial function, thereby suppressing disease and supporting healing.

    The importance of avoiding unhealthy fats and using healthy fats in your diet simply cannot be overstated. 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, thereby creating fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

    Ketones also decrease inflammation, improve glucose metabolism and aid the building of muscle mass. Healthy fats also play an important role in maintaining your body's electrical system. As mentioned, a ketogenic diet focuses on the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis: minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of healthy fats. Green tea can also be included as a healthy beverage option to boost your overall health and well-being.

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  • What Is Aloe Vera Good For?
    published on August 13th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    When you think of aloe vera, you may remember it as a spiky plant with tiny spines along both sides of the thick, variegated leaves that fan out from their base. A succulent plant that grows wild in tropical regions, including the warmest areas and arguably thousands of households across the U.S., aloe vera has had a plethora of uses for thousands of years, both medicinal and nutritional. An open access website of peer-reviewed journals and blogs, Biomed Central, notes:

    "Such extensive human use of aloe vera is nothing new; historical sources suggest aloe vera trade routes were well-established in the Red Sea and Mediterranean regions as far back as the 4th century B.C … Over 500 species of aloes exist, spread over Africa, the Middle East and various Indian Ocean islands."1

    Part of its popularity is that it's a striking plant to look at, but the gel inside the leaves also has strong healing capabilities for a number of maladies and conditions. In fact, the gel could easily remedy many of the problems thousands of people purchase creams and lotions for, purportedly containing extracts from the aloe vera plant, but often containing only a fraction of the healing power available from the genuine article.

    Aloe vera's commercial success for cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food use worldwide, is estimated to be somewhere around $13 billion annually. As Medical News Today reveals:

    "Aloe vera contains various powerful antioxidant compounds. Some of these compounds can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria … Aloe vera definitely has some unique therapeutic properties, especially when applied as an ointment for the skin and gums."2

    Where Does the Healing Come From?

    It's the gel inside the leaves that contain the highest levels of bioactivity, but here's what's really amazing, according to holistic nutritionist and author Laura Dawn, who launched Happy and Raw.3 Aloe vera's got you covered at least eight different ways, as it's:









    These capabilities come from aloe vera's many compounds and phytonutrients, such as vitamins A, C and E, choline, folic acid and B1, B2, B12 and B3 (niacin). Minerals include selenium, zinc, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium and chromium. You'll also find high amounts of:

    • Polyphenol antioxidants — These help combat free radicals, which contribute to disease, infections and hasten the aging process.4
    • Fatty acids — Aloe contains plant sterols, which are valuable fatty acids, including campesterol and B-sitosterol, as well as linoleic, linolenic, myristic, caprylic, oleic, palmitic and stearic acids.5
    • Amino acids — There are about 22 amino acids, called the "building blocks of protein," that are necessary for your body, and aloe vera contains 18 to 20 of them, including all eight of those considered essential for human health.

    One study shows aloe vera contains 75 potentially active compounds, including lignin, saponins and salicylic acids and amino acids, 12 anthraquinones, which are phenolic compounds traditionally known as laxatives. It also provides campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol, and the hormones auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.6

    As an adaptogen, aloe boosts your body's ability to adapt to external changes and increases your ability to deal with stress, be it physical, emotional or environmental. Scientists believe adaptogens balance your system and stimulate your natural defense and adaptive mechanisms, further helping to combat illness and disease. Also:

    "Aloe alkalizes the body. Disease cannot manifest in an alkaline environment. Most people are living and subsisting on mostly acidic foods. For great health, remember the 80/20 rule — 80 percent alkaline forming foods and 20 percent acidic. Aloe vera is an alkaline forming food. It alkalizes the body, helping to balance overly acidic dietary habits."7

    Topical and Internal Benefits of Aloe Vera

    The first aloe vera-based ointment for sunburn entered the marketplace in 1959, but studies allow that it's effective for first- and second-degree burns. Whether it's a burn, puncture wound, cut, psoriasis8 or bug bites, topically applied aloe vera exerts powerful healing benefits.

    Aloe's analgesic qualities help with pain relief while preventing and relieving itching as an antipruritic. Being astringent, aloe gel causes body tissues to contract, which helps reduce bleeding from minor abrasions. As an antipyretic, it's used to reduce or prevent fever, and being 99 percent water, it's great for hydrating your skin. Happy and Raw asserts:

    "Aloe increases the elasticity of the skin making it more flexible through collagen and elastin repair. Aloe is an emollient, helping to soften and soothe the skin. It helps supply oxygen to the skin cells, increasing the strength and synthesis of skin tissue and induces improved blood flow to the skin through capillary dilation."9

    The Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry notes that aloe helps the body cleanse itself,10 and a four-study review acknowledged that it could reduce the healing time of burns by as much as nine days in comparison with conventional medicine's remedies.11 In addition, aloe vera:

    Reduces dental plaque, kills plaque-forming bacteria and Candida albacans12

    Helps heal and alleviates pain of canker cores13

    Improves cardiovascular health as beta sitosterol helps optimize cholesterol

    Aids digestion; reduces constipation due to the compound aloin, or barbaloin14

    Lowers blood sugar levels15

    Reduces inflammation

    Helps detoxify your body

    Boosts your immune system due to polysaccharides

    May improve skin, increase collagen production16 and alleviate wrinkles

    From all the above advantages from using aloe vera, weight loss is considered to be a secondary benefit simply because things like improved digestion, reduced constipation (aka regularity), detoxification and lowered blood sugar are all related, and have a varied but direct impact on your weight.

    Growing Aloe Vera Plants for Medicinal (and Other) Use

    Native to tropical regions, aloe vera plants can grow outdoors even in Northern climates during warm weather. Growing them in the ground is very straightforward. Rather than just plain soil, I would highly recommend adding compost and a layer of wood chips, which improve the soil quality and provide valuable plant nutrients.

    One thing about growing aloe vera is that it's incredibly easy to do, and the baby plants they produce are so plentiful, you can remove new shoots fairly regularly and pop them into separate pots to give away or fill several window sills with the spiky succulents.

    They grow faster when their roots aren't crowded, so leave several inches of space in between so they'll grow bigger faster. It's probably no surprise that these plants love bright light, but especially if they're in a pot, allowing them to bake in hot sun and high temperatures all day might scorch and kill them. Indirect light is best. If you don't grow it yourself, you can purchase a plant from many health food or grocery stores.

    Water your aloe plants well, but to keep rot from setting in, allow at least 1 or 2 inches of top soil to become completely dry in between waterings. Water less often in the winter. Additionally, when placing aloe vera plants in pots, even tiny plants, the pots must have drainage holes at the bottom. Otherwise they'll eventually become waterlogged and die unless you pick them out, dry the roots for a few days, then place them in dirt again.

    When a plant gets large enough, you can cut individual leaves off, as close to the ground (or just under the soil level) as you can. Carefully slice off the little spines on each side, slice off 2 or 3 inches (or as much as you need), then cut through the flat side of the leaf to expose and scrape off the gel for use as a cooling aftershave lotion or sunburn remedy.

    In fact, fresh gel from an aloe plant (rather than an aloe product) is one of the best remedies for sunburn. You can even slice open the leaves and open like a book to lay the exposed gel directly on skin needing its healing properties. For a refreshing drink, place a few teaspoons of the gel (not the skin) in a small glass bowl and use a hand mixer or high-speed blender for several seconds, then add a bit of fresh lime juice.

    Products Containing Aloe Vera (or Claiming to) Not Always What They Claim

    It's already been mentioned that the most potent way to get the effects of aloe vera is to use the plant itself, not some product containing percentages along with a lot of other stuff, including chemicals. There is such a thing as certification by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC), which was created in the early 1980s due to rampant abuse in the representation of many different consumer products claiming to contain at least a percentage, but many did not.

    There are still "wannabe" (aka scam) products with zero aloe content out there hoping for a corner of the market. In addition, Happy and Raw includes a paragraph addressing intake precautions:

    "This plant is incredibly medicinal, yet there are some cautions against long-term use. Just because a little is beneficial, doesn't mean that a lot is more beneficial. This is an incredibly potent plant and should be used with a level of respect for its potency. Long-term use can lead to loss of electrolytes, especially potassium. Tip: Avoid taking aloe internally during pregnancy, menstruation, if you have hemorrhoids or degeneration of the liver and gall bladder."17

    If you don't currently have an aloe vera plant in your home, you may find having one helpful for many of the problems listed above, or to try it as a fresh, healthy drink.

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  • How to Reduce Lectins in Your Diet
    published on August 13th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Lectins1 — sugar-binding plant proteins that attach to cell membranes — may be a hidden source of weight gain and ill health, even in an otherwise healthy diet. In fact, since lectins are present in most plant foods, if you're eating a whole food diet yet find yourself still struggling with weight gain and/or stubborn health problems, lectins may well be a hidden culprit.

    Many lectins are proinflammatory, immunotoxic, neurotoxic and cytotoxic. Certain lectins may also increase blood viscosity, interfere with gene expression and disrupt endocrine function.

    The problem with recommending an altogether lectin-free diet is that this would eliminate most plant foods,2 which should ideally make up the bulk of your diet. Moreover, in small amounts, some lectins can be quite beneficial,3 so 100 percent avoidance is likely neither possible nor ideal. They key then becomes finding a happy medium where the worst lectins are avoided, and the effect of others are tempered through proper preparation and cooking.

    How Lectins Can Wreck Your Health

    Before we get into strategies to reduce lectins in your diet, let's review the reasons why. As explained in Dr. Steven Gundry's4 book, "The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in 'Healthy' Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain," some plant lectins can contribute to leaky gut by binding to receptor sites on your intestinal mucosal cells, thereby interfering with the absorption of nutrients across your intestinal wall.

    As such, they act as "antinutrients," and can have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome by shifting the balance of your bacterial flora. Among the worst culprits are wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat and other seeds in the grass family.5

    Compared to WGA, gluten is a minor problem. According to Gundry, WGA is actually one of the most efficient ways to induce heart disease in experimental animals. Lectins in general are strongly associated with autoimmune disorders, so anyone struggling with a dysfunctional immune system may want to seriously consider experimenting with a low-lectin diet.

    One way by which lectins causes harm is through molecular mimicry. By mimicking proteins in your thyroid gland or joint spaces, for example, lectins can cause your body to attack your thyroid and contribute to rheumatoid arthritis. Part of these disease processes is the penetration of the gut wall by lectins and their co-travelers, lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), also known as endotoxins, which tend to elicit very strong immune responses.  

    Lectin-Rich Foods Best Avoided Entirely

    While it may be near-impossible to avoid all lectins, seeing how they're found in most plant foods, your first step would be to eliminate the worst offenders. If you have any kind of health problem in which lectins are a suspected contributor, it would be wise to eliminate the following entirely:6


    Corn-fed meats. This includes most meats sold in grocery stores. To avoid factory farmed, corn-fed meat, make sure the meat you buy is certified grass fed by the American Grassfed Association.

    Casein A1 milk. Casein A2 is the normal protein in milk, present in sheep, goats, water buffalos and some Jersey cows' milk. Unfortunately, most cows today are casein A1 producers. Most store-bought milk will be A1, even if it's organic. The A1 protein is metabolized in your gut to make beta-casomorphin, which can attach to the beta cell of your pancreas and incite an autoimmune attack.

    Many who believe they're lactose intolerant are actually just responding to the casein A1 in the milk. If you're going to drink milk, make it raw milk from organic, grass fed casein A2-producing cows. Jersey cows may produce either A1 or A2 casein, so you'll need to confirm the type of milk produced with the farmer. Holsteins are A1 producers and should be avoided.

    Peanuts, cashews and unfermented soybean products. If you want to eat soy, make sure it's traditionally fermented.

    High-Lectin Foods to Eat Sparingly

    The following foods are also high in lectins, but at least here you have a choice: You can either avoid these foods or eat them sparingly, and when you do, make sure you prepare and cook them properly. Research demonstrates that by sprouting, fermenting, soaking and cooking high-lectin foods, lectin content is dramatically reduced, making them safe to eat for most people. This group includes:7,8,9,10

    • Legumes (plant seeds in pods, such as peas and beans11)
    • Grains, especially whole grains
    • Nightshade fruits and vegetables (such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers and goji berries, just to name a few)
    • Curcubita (gourd) family fruits such as squash, pumpkin and zucchini

    Among the legumes, some beans are also lower in lectins than others, making them a safer bet.12 Among the moderate-to-low lectin varieties are rice beans, cowpeas, broad beans, lupin seeds, Great Northern beans and Pinto III cultivars. Among the lowest, and therefore the safest, are Polish pea varieties, cooked and raw green beans and lentils.13

    High-to-moderate varieties best avoided if you're susceptible to lectins are white kidney beans and soybeans. Red kidney beans are among the highest of all.  For comparison, white kidney beans contain one-third of the hemagglutinating units of toxic phytohemagglutinin found in raw red kidney beans, and broad beans contain just 5 to 10 percent of the lectins found in red kidney beans.

    Beans — Proper Prep and Cooking Guidance

    If you choose to eat beans, be sure to prepare and cook them properly. While absolutes are rarely called for, a warning is appropriate here: NEVER eat raw or undercooked beans, as they can have acute, toxic effects. As little as five beans can cause a reaction reminiscent of food poisoning. To make beans safe to eat, be sure to:

    • Soak the beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, frequently changing the water. Adding baking soda to the soaking water will boost the neutralization of lectins even further.14
    • Rinse the beans and discard the water used for soaking.
    • Cook for at least 15 minutes on HIGH heat. Cooking beans on too-low a heat can actually increase toxicity levels up to five times or more.15 Avoid any recipe calling for dry bean flour, as the dry heat of your oven will not efficiently destroy the lectins. The best way to destroy lectins is to use a pressure cooker like the InstaPot.16,17

    How to Optimize Health Benefits of Potatoes

    The lectin content in potatoes (a member of the nightshade family) will also be reduced by cooking, although these lectins tend to be more resistant to heat than those in beans. In the case of potatoes, cooking will reduce the lectin content by 50 to 60 percent. You can also boost the nutritional value of potatoes by chilling them after cooking.

    This increases the digestive-resistant starch in the potatoes — fibers that resist digestion in the small intestine and slowly ferment in your large intestine, where they act as prebiotics that feed healthy bacteria.18

    As an example, roasted and cooled potatoes contain 19 grams of resistant starch per 100 grams, whereas steamed and cooled potatoes contain 6 grams and boiled, cooled potatoes contain a mere 0.8 grams.19,20 Additionally, since they're not digestible, resistant starches will not result in blood sugar spikes. In fact, research suggests resistant starches help improve insulin regulation, reducing your risk of insulin resistance.21,22,23,24

    Safe Lectins

    Of the plant foods that are the safest, in terms of lectin content, are asparagus, garlic, celery, mushrooms and onions. Other excellent choices that you can eat without restrictions are:

    • Cooked tubers (root vegetables) such as sweet potatoes, yucca and taro
    • Leafy greens
    • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
    • Avocados (while avocados contain high amounts of lectins,25 these lectins are safe and healthy. Research26 shows that the specific type of lectin found in avocado, persea Americana agglutinin,27 is devoid of specificity for carbs; it interacts with proteins and polyamino acids instead)
    • Olives and authentic extra-virgin olive oil

    Other Ways to Reduce Lectins in Your Diet

    Aside from eliminating the worst offenders and cooking certain high-lectin foods properly, other ways to reduce lectins in your diet include:

    Peeling and deseeding your fruits and vegetables, as the skin or hull and seeds tend to contain the highest amounts. For example, if you're on a lectin-restricted diet, you may be able to eat deskinned almonds, but not almonds with the skin on.

    Opting for white grains over brown. This tip, suggested by Gundry, does run contrary to most recommendations that say brown varieties are healthier than white, but in this case, white rice and white bread may actually be preferable.

    Keep in mind, though that the only way to make bread safe to eat on a lectin-restricted diet is by raising the bread according to traditional methods, using yeast or sourdough, which effectively breaks down the gluten and other harmful lectins. You'd be hard-pressed to find this in your local grocery store, so you'd either have to buy it from a traditional artisan or bake it yourself.

    You'll also want to make sure the grain is organic, as most non-organic wheat grown in the U.S. is desiccated with glyphosate. This herbicide, which is toxic in and of itself, also potentiates gluten in people who are not even gluten-sensitive and interferes with your liver's ability to manufacture the active form of vitamin D. It also chelates important minerals, disrupts the shikimate pathway, decimates your microbiome and increases leaky gut, which allows more of the LPSs into your bloodstream.

    Sprouting seeds, grains and beans will deactivate lectins, although there are exceptions. For example, lectin content is actually enhanced when sprouting alfalfa.28

    Fermenting will also effectively reduce harmful lectins.29 When it comes to soy, fermented soy products are the only ones worthy of consumption. Sourdough is another example of a fermented product that makes bread safe to eat, in part by deactivating lectins. Of course, all sorts of vegetables can be fermented, thereby boosting their health benefits.

    Using a pressure cooker. Plant lectins are most effectively neutralized when cooked in a pressure cooker, so this handy kitchen gadget may be a worthwhile investment. Many swear by the InstaPot,30 which is a multipurpose pressure cooker. Avoid slow cookers, as they will actually increase lectin content due to the low temperature used.

    A study31 that compared the phytic acid content of soaked peas that were then either boiled regularly or cooked in a pressure cooker found pressure cooking reduced phytic acid content by 54 percent, compared to 29 percent through regular boiling. Pressure cooking may also preserve more nutrients than other cooking methods.

    Limit but Don't Eliminate All Lectins

    In summary, while I believe lectins have the potential to wreak havoc on health, complete avoidance is neither possible nor ideal. Conducting an online search for "lectin-rich foods" will yield lists that are so long, they basically encompass the entire vegetable kingdom. You cannot eliminate them all, and since SOME lectins have health benefits, you wouldn't want to, either.

    The key is to identify the worst culprits, cut those out, and make sure you prepare and cook certain high-lectin foods properly to make them safer to eat. Naturally, your individual situation will determine just how strict you need to be. Many people, especially those with autoimmune disorders, tend to be particularly sensitive to specific lectins found in specific foods.

    So, experimentation may be needed to identify them. As a general rule, I recommend paying particular attention to lectins if you are currently eating a healthy, whole food diet yet continue to have health problems. While not a guarantee for success, eliminating or reducing lectins just might be the missing key to your healing.

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  • How to Help Heal Mental Disorders With Nutrition
    published on August 12th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Can you use specific nutrients to improve your mental health? Yes, you can. William Walsh, Ph.D., president of the nonprofit Walsh Research Institute in Naperville, Illinois, and author of "Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain," specializes in nutrient-based psychiatry and nutritional medicine.

    He and I are both  fellows of the American College of Nutrition. He's designed nutritional programs for Olympic athletes, NBA players and major league baseball players. More importantly, he's spent a great deal of his career seeking to improve mental health through nutrition.

    "I started off in the hard science. I was an experimentalist," Walsh says. "I worked, in the beginning, in the nuclear field … with places like Los Alamos, the Institute for Atomic Research and University of Michigan Research Institute. I wound up at Argonne National Laboratory. While working as a scientist there, I started a volunteer project at the local prison, Stateville Penitentiary.

    I eventually got really interested in why people were violent …  [W]hen we started the ex-offender program, I got to meet the families that had produced a criminal. I found some wonderful families, caring and capable families, that have other children who turned out just fine …

    I began to realize we didn't understand why people had bad behavior. We then asked the question, 'Could it be something related to their brain chemistry or the body chemistry?'… I started doing lab studies of their blood, their urine and hair. I found out that they were very, very different from the rest of the population. That's how I got started."

    Biochemistry and the Criminal Brain

    Walsh received valuable direction after meeting Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, who was doing work on heavy metals and schizophrenia. As it turns out, levels of metals, including copper, zinc and manganese, were all abnormal in criminals compared to the general population.

    Walsh discovered four biochemical types of violent people. One of these was the sociopaths, all of whom had severe zinc deficiency, pyrrole disorder, low blood spermine and undermethylation. In all, it's an unusual combination of bad biochemistry. A collaborative investigation with Pfeiffer resulted in nutrient therapies for each of the behavior types.

    Pyrrole disorder is a stress condition commonly found in brain disorders. A urine test developed by niacin expert Abram Hoffer and Pfeiffer is the gold standard test for this genetic condition, which involves altered  biochemistry in your bone marrow and spleen.

    People who have pyrrole disorder may produce five to 10 times more pyrrole than normal — a byproduct of natural reactions, like the formation of hemoglobin. While harmless in and of itself, pyrrole bind to and draw out anything that is an aldehyde, such as B6. It also sharply depletes zinc.

    As a result, people with pyrrole disorder have exceptionally low levels of B6, and zinc which can have serious effects on brain function, affecting their memory and ability to read, for example. B6 deficiency is quite common among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well.

    The Earlier the Treatment the Better the Results

    "Eventually, [Pfeiffer] and I jointly evaluated 500 patients, mostly violent adults and violent children. We got our best results with the kids, young people with the same kind of chemistry, who were mostly very violent," Walsh says.

    "I have to say we didn't really succeed in finding a way to help the adult criminals. They would get better for six to eight months, and then I'd find out they were back in prison. That had a lot to do with the fact that they were abusing alcohol and illegal drugs … At about 1990, we decided to focus on children …

    It's been very successful. If we can get a child before their lives are ruined, before they pass puberty perhaps, our success rate [is] very high … The doctors report a striking improvement in behavior. Most of these kids, of course, [are] on drugs, everything from Ritalin to powerful antipsychotic  medications. Usually when we're finished and [have] balanced their chemistry, they can wean off the medication. They usually are fine without it …"

    Nutrients Involved in Synthesis or Functioning of Neurotransmitters Dictate Mental Function

    Later on, Walsh expanded to also include children with autism and ADHD. Fond of numbers, Walsh began amassing enormous databases. At present, he has one of the world's largest chemistry database for autism, depression and behavior disorders.

    "When you look at these millions of chemical analyses of blood, urine and tissues, it's obvious that there are very great differences," he says. "I found that for mental disorders, about six or seven chemical imbalances dominate mental function. There are hundreds and hundreds of important nutrients in the body, but in the brain, there are about six or seven that [seem] to dominate everything. Eventually, I found out why …

    [T]hese are the nutrient factors that are either involved in synthesis of a neurotransmitter or the functioning of a neurotransmitter. They include methylation — undermethylation or overmethylation. In our database, 70 percent of all humans in the United States have normal, typical methylation; 22 percent are undermethylated … 8 percent are overmethylated.

    About 70 percent of all people who have a mental disorder have one of these methylation disorders. The symptoms are completely different, and the treatment they need is completely different. We also found that most people [who have mental disorders] are depleted or deficient in zinc. That's the most common [deficiency] we see … Virtually everyone with a mental disorder seems to need zinc and improve on it."

    Copper Overload Linked to Autism, Schizophrenia and Postpartum Depression

    Copper is another important trace metal, as it plays a distinct role in the synthesis of norepinephrine, a major neurotransmitter. Divalent copper (Cu2+) is a dramatic factor in the ratio of dopamine and norepinephrine.

    Animal studies have shown that when animals are starved of copper until they only have 25 percent of the normal amount of copper in their blood, the ratio between norepinephrine and dopamine is changed by more than a factor of three. Most of us have the ability to homeostatically control copper. However, some do not have that ability.

    "It all has to do with an enzyme called metallothionein that is genetically expressed. Some people don't have that system working," Walsh explains. "These persons have copper overload, which we find virtually in every autistic patient, most patients with schizophrenia and almost everyone with postpartum depression.

    That's a recipe for very high norepinephrine — which means anxiety and depression — and low dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter), which is a hallmark of ADHD … a nasty combination.

    We find the sociopaths innately have low copper levels. People who have undermethylation tend to have low normal copper levels … The good news for mental disorders is that there are more than 100 really important biochemicals in the body, but only a few dominate mental disorders.

    If we had to do lab testing for 100 of them, it would be really difficult. If we had to adjust the levels of these and normalize 100 different factors, it would make life very difficult. But we found that by just focusing on maybe seven or eight nutrient factors, we could help 95 percent of the patients we see with nutrient therapy."

    How to Measure Your Zinc and Copper Status

    Zinc experts typically agree that plasma zinc provides the most accurate measurement. The taste test has some minor value but is among the least reliable. To accurately measure copper, serum copper is the way to go, and most labs throughout the world provide good copper assays.

    Walsh recommends doing a ceruloplasmin test at the same time, because then you can determine how much free radical copper you have, which gives you a good indication of your level of oxidative stress. A high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) test would also be useful as a marker of inflammation.

    "By the way, oxidative stress runs through every single mental disorder we see, without exception," Walsh says. "Every one of them seems to have extraordinary oxidative stress — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, a violent child or an autistic child."

    Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle strongly promotes oxidative stress, with processed foods, processed vegetable oils, excessive net carbs and excessive protein being some of the most potent factors. This kind of diet causes a reduction in ketones and a radical increase in reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals.

    Exposure to non-native electromagnetic fields, glyphosate and other pesticides, fluoride-contaminated water and other toxic exposures only add to the problem. Typically, copper and ceruloplasmin levels tend to go hand in hand, being either high or low together. The ideal level for copper, with respect to mental health, is somewhere between 75 and 100 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) in serum. The ideal amount of ceruloplasmin has to do with whatever your level of copper is.

    Ideally, the percentage of copper in your ceruloplasmin should be around 85 to 90 percent. "It's really great to do both simultaneously, because then you have a really good picture of not only the copper situation, but also the level of oxidative stress," Walsh says.

    The Importance of Methylation in Mental Health

    Walsh was among the first people to alert the world to the importance of methylation in mental health, especially autism. The No. 1 causes of undermethylation are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or mutations in the enzymes for the one-carbon cycle (the methylation cycle).

    "The No. 1 factor is the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which is one of the enzymes. That's the rate-limiting step for that whole cycle, for most people," Walsh explains. "Genetic testing services such as 23andMe can provide this kind of information.

    However, most human beings have enormous numbers of SNPs. They've already found 10 million snips (or mutations) in the human genome. Every human being has thousands of these SNPs. A really high percentage of people have even the more serious MTHFR SNPs — the C677T, the A1298C that people are always talking about.

    The thing that is often mistaken by nutritional scientists is that if a person has the homozygous, the double copies of the C677T, it doesn't necessarily mean they're undermethylated. It certainly doesn't mean that they will benefit if you give them methylfolate. That's one of the problems that we're finding.

    The reason is epigenetics. You have to consider the epigenetics and the methylation at the same time. There are three nutrient factors that affect epigenetics more than anything else: folates, methionine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). These have a really powerful impact on epigenetics."

    How Folates Affect Epigenetics

    Folates are serotonin reuptake promoters. However, even if an individual is undermethylated and has a problem related to low serotonin activity, such as depression or anxiety, folates should not be given, Walsh warns. The reason? If you give folate, their methylation will improve and the patient will actually get worse.

    The reason for this worsening is because, epigenetically, folates act as deacetylase inhibitors and sharply lower serotonin activity. Most autistic individuals will not have a serotonin problem and will thrive on methyl folate. However, an estimated 10 percent of autistic children and adults do have a serotonin issue and will severely regress if given methyl folate.

    "We've had thousands of patients who were undermethylated depressives. I've seen more than 3,000 cases of clinical depression. I've got this huge database. The largest phenotype … is undermethylation.

    But if you gave them any form of folate, they would get worse. Their methylation would improve, they would get worse, because it has a dramatic impact on serotonin reuptake. In contrast, methionine and SAMe are natural serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

    They do essentially the same thing that Prozac and Paxil do. Folates have the opposite effect. Folates are wonderful if you want to knock dopamine level down in schizophrenics or people who have high anxiety — overmethylated people. It's counterintuitive because folates are excellent methylating agents."

    To reiterate, some undermethylated people are intolerant to folates, and some overmethylated people thrive on folates even though folates improve methylation. As you can see, there are epigenetic complexities involved here, making self-diagnosis and self-treatment highly inadvisable.

    It could be quite risky to take these bits and pieces of information and try to apply them on your own. There are simply too many variables. So, the bottom line here is to make sure you're being treated by a knowledgeable professional.

    Heavy Metals and the Autistic Brain

    Walsh has tested 6,500 autistic patients. As a group, they have much higher toxic metal levels than their siblings or the general population. Walsh believes their toxic burden is likely due to an inborn predisposition that makes them more likely to accumulate toxins and/or vulnerable to the effects of toxins.

    "Thousands of these parents, maybe more than half, told a very sad story of how they had a child who was developing normally, was beginning to speak and was singing and charming their grandparents. Then maybe the child got sick.

    They took him to a pediatrician and the pediatrician — I've heard this story hundreds of times — said, 'Oh, you're behind on your shots. You're behind on your vaccinations.' They took a sick child and gave them multiple vaccinations, at that time, with thimerosal and mercury.

    Hundreds of these families said that within a day or two, their child changed forever. Lost all speech, the personality changed, they became sick. They became intolerant to served foods. They were just very troubled little human beings.

    When they went to specialists, eventually they wound up with the diagnosis of autism and were told that it was incurable and that there was no hope really for recovery. We've seen a lot of human misery just talking with these families. It's just a shocking and terrible thing."

    Walsh suspects autistic children have an insufficiency of natural antioxidants such as glutathione and metallothionein, rendering them more vulnerable to the effects of environmental exposures, including vaccines and poor diet. It's worth noting that 1 in 3 children diagnosed with autism does not have true autism caused by epigenetic variations.

    Many of these children have a good chance of recovery, whereas classic Kanner autism is a permanent, life-long epigenetic condition (named after Leo Kanner, who discovered autism in the 1940s1), although some measure of improvement can be made even in these cases.

    On Thimerosal

    Walsh has also investigated the thimerosal issue, looking for evidence of mercury toxicity in the brains of autistic children. In fact, he was the first person to actually measure mercury in autistic brains.

    He was able to receive brain tissue samples from Johns Hopkins, and using the Argonne facility called the Advanced Photon Source, he did over 1 million chemical analyses on brain tissue from autistic and non-autistic children. Every autistic child analyzed had received thimerosal-containing vaccinations.

    However, no mercury could be found in the brain tissue. One explanation for this is that the tests were done years after the vaccinations. The half-life of mercury in the human body is 42 days. The half-life of ethyl or methyl mercury in the brain is 70 days.

    "I think what it amounts to is that mercury is a terrible poison. It's a terrible insult," he says. "I think these vulnerable kids should never be exposed to it. However, it doesn't stay in the body and it doesn't do continuing damage. I think after a year or so, it has left the body, even though there are tens of thousands of families who are trying therapies that will take the mercury out of their child's brain when it's no longer there."

    Metallothionein Promotion Nutrient Therapy for Autism

    The fact that autistic children tend to have extraordinary copper and zinc imbalances means their metallothionein protein is not functioning. Metallothionein is required for homeostatic control of copper and zinc. Walsh has developed a metallothionein promotion nutrient therapy: a formulation of 22 nutrients known to enhance genetic expression and function of metallothionein. This protocol has been used on more than 2,000 autistic patients, with measurable improvements in outcome.

    "The most important antioxidants in the brain are somewhat different than the rest of the body. I call them the three musketeers. It's glutathione, metallothionein and selenium. It's specific to the brain," he explains.

    Technically, selenium is not an antioxidant per se, but it does increase glutathione levels and enhances the function of metallothionein and, in the brain, glutathione and metallothionein work together. Glutathione is your first line of defense. The problem is, autistic children typically have a poor diet (it's hard to get them to eat anything) and with the oxidative overload, they quickly run out of glutathione. When you run low on glutathione in your brain, your metallothionein level increases.

    "Metallothionein doesn't work unless you have oxidized glutathione. It's a hand in glove situation. It's the backup system for glutathione in the brain, and we know that without selenium, that whole system doesn't work well," Walsh explains.

    I take selenium every day. It's a trace mineral, so you don't need much, up to about 200 mcg per day, and you definitely need to be mindful not to overdose. As noted by Walsh, of all the trace metals, selenium has the narrowest division between deficiency and overload, so you need to be careful when supplementing.

    Zinc also needs to be normalized, as it is the No. 1 factor for enabling metallothionein to function and support glutathione. According to Walsh, for mental and physical health, you need a plasma zinc level between 90 and 130 mcg/dL. Many mental patients have a genetic weakness in zinc normalization; they're born with zinc deficiency, and need far higher amounts than typical to maintain a healthy zinc level.

    Changing the Face of Psychiatry

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

    The Walsh Research Institute is a public charity with no financial interests, and they are slowly but surely helping to change mainstream psychiatry. Walsh has given talks at the highest levels, including the Surgeon General's office, the U.S. Senate and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He's also spoken at American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meetings several times.

    "The last time I went there, they finally listened to me … I was there about two and a half years ago. I gave an invited talk on depression. I basically explained to them they're doing depression wrong. They actually listened to me. I showed them our huge chemistry database and explained that depression is a name given to at least five completely different disorders, each involving different symptoms and each involving different neurotransmitters that are malfunctioning.

    Then I described each one of these biotypes and actually showed them that if they would simply do some inexpensive blood and urine testing, they could identify which people would be good candidates for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or which ones would do better on benzodiazepine, but even more importantly, how they can correct it with nutrients."

    There were 17,000 psychiatrists at this meeting from all over the world, and Walsh was 1 of 4 speakers at a well-attended session. Afterward, there was tremendous demand for more information, which gives hope. Walsh also offers a training program for doctors. In the U.S., 45 psychiatrists went through the program last year. In all, 500 physicians and psychiatrists in 32 countries have taken his program so far.

    Why SSRIs Induce Violence

    One major problem with SSRI antidepressants is the risk of self-harm and aggression as a side effect. Overmethylated, low-folate depressors are intolerant so SSRIs, and evidence suggests this genetic intolerance may have been a factor in many school shootings. Walsh, who has studied this phenomenon, notes 42 of the 50 major school shootings in the U.S. since 1990 were done by teens or young adults taking an SSRI.

    "I discussed this … before the APA … I tried to explain to them that they … can do a blood test; they can find out which children or which adults are more likely to become violent if they get an SSRI. I've written about this several times; published it in magazines …

    If you buy Prozac or Paxil, the insert inside warns that some people … are prone to suicidal or homicidal behavior. We now know which ones they are!"

    More Information

    To learn more, visit www.WalshInstitute.org. There you can also purchase Walsh's book, "Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain." Questions and information requests can be sent to Dana@WalshInstitute.org, or you can call (630) 506-5066.

    "Our website has a resources section that recommends quality labs, compounding pharmacies and a list of doctors who we've trained, who are now able to do this kind of therapy," Walsh says.

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  • Crisp and Refreshing Apple, Fennel and Walnut Salad With Apple Cider Vinaigrette
    published on August 12th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    Recipe From Catherine Katz


    For many people, one of their fondest summer memories is holding outdoor barbecue parties with their loved ones. Salads, of course, are always a welcomed treat when it comes to these get-togethers. Whether it’s a simple crunchy coleslaw or a "smashed” cucumber salad garnished with feta cheese, salads are a wonderful complement to any meal, providing a crunchy contrast to grilled meats and other savory food selections.


    Here’s a delicious but easy-to-prepare salad that you can enjoy: Crisp and Refreshing Apple, Fennel and Walnut Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette. This recipe comes from Catherine Katz, and has been published on her blog, Cuisine City, as well as on the website Naturally Savvy. Try this wholesome salad recipe today!


    Salad Ingredients:

    1 large organic fennel bulb, rinsed and sliced thinly

    1 organic green apple, skin on, rinsed and coarsely grated

    1/4 cup chopped walnuts


    Vinaigrette Ingredients:

    1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1/8 teaspoon salt



    1. Place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a medium salad bowl and whisk briskly.

    2. Place the salad ingredients in vinaigrette bowl and toss to coat well.


    This recipe makes four to six servings.


    Simple, Budget Friendly and Versatile: Everything You Want in a Salad


    You don’t need to raid your fridge’s crisper section just to come up with a delicious salad. In fact, this easy recipe uses only three ingredients — and yet the result is absolutely satisfying!


    Perhaps one of the best things about this salad is that its vinaigrette is made with a superstar ingredient: apple cider vinegar (ACV). Not only does ACV provide a rich and tart flavor to this recipe, but it can boost your health in numerous ways, as well.


    Fun Facts About Fennel


    Did you know that every part of the fennel, from the feathery fronds to the seeds inside, is edible? Yet, the most utilized part is the crunchy pale green root, also known as the bulb. It has a mild yet distinct licorice flavor, and goes great not just in salads, but in stews and soups, as well.


    And if you think that it’s only recently that fennel is gaining ground as a healthy ingredient, think again — it’s actually been used since ancient times. Roman author Pliny used it to treat 22 different health problems.[i] Meanwhile, medieval emperor Charlemagne decreed that every garden should have fennel growing in it, so people could take advantage of its healing properties.[ii]


    Other systems of medicine, such as Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also make use of fennel. But what exactly does fennel have to offer?


    For starters, it has good amounts of vitamin C, which can help eliminate free radicals from the body and may help reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. It also has dietary fiber, which prevents buildup of bad cholesterol and absorbs water in the digestive system, potentially improving digestion.


    Other standout nutrients in fennel include potassium, folate, manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, copper and phosphorus, all of which have their own impressive, health-boosting benefits. For example, potassium is necessary for regulating bone cell generation, heart rate and muscle activity, as well as lowering high blood pressure. Meanwhile, folate is essential for pregnant women, as it helps reduce the risk of birth defects in their unborn children.


    You can easily buy fennel at farmers markets, but here’s a great idea: Why not grow it in your garden? Check out this article on how to grow fennel at home.


    Remember: Buy Organic Apples


    Apples are available year-round on supermarket shelves, but please keep in mind to always buy them organic. This is because apples are among the most pesticide-laden fruits today, and are included in the Environmental Working Group’s 2017 “Dirty Dozen” list.[iii]


    You won’t regret making this choice, though, because organic apples are one of the most nutritionally packed fruits out there. They are loaded with vitamins C and A, which are both essential antioxidants for resisting infections and eliminating free radicals. Fiber is also abundant in apples, as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B6, which work to support metabolism and other vital processes in the body.


    You can get copper, iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and calcium from apples, too — minerals that are crucial to maintaining optimal blood pressure levels and controlling heart rate.


    Wonderful Walnuts: One of the Healthiest Nuts Available


    While I typically advise consuming macadamias and pecans, you certainly can’t go wrong with adding walnuts to your meals. Walnuts are gaining attention in the health community today, as they’ve been linked to a wide array of benefits.


    One study, for example, found that people who were at high risk of diabetes were able to improve their blood vessel wall function and had lower bad cholesterol levels after consuming 2 ounces of walnuts daily for six months, and then removing them for another six months. There also were improvements seen in other heart health variables, such as blood pressure and body fat.[iv]


    These benefits are not surprising, considering that walnuts offer the highest level of antioxidants among all nuts. Some unique examples include the flavonol morin, the tannin tellimagrandin and the quinone juglone — all of which are powerful at scavenging free radicals.[v]


    In addition, walnuts contain l-arginine, an amino acid that has numerous vascular benefits, especially for people suffering from, or have an increased risk of, heart disease. You can also get plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from walnuts, which has anti-inflammatory benefits.


    Just remember to eat walnuts (and other nuts) in moderation, as consuming them in excessive amounts may lead to too much dietary protein in your system, which can expose you to many health problems. Walnuts actually fall into the mid-range level, as far as carbs and protein are concerned. You can eat them every day, but please do so in moderate quantities.


    Tart and Refreshing, This Apple Cider Vinaigrette Offers You Wholesome Benefits


    The basic vinaigrette uses two base ingredients, oil and vinegar, which are blended with a variety of herbs and spices to give it depth of flavor. While most recipes call for red wine vinegar, black vinegar or balsamic vinegar, this one uses ACV, which is perhaps one of the most beneficial (yet understated) condiments you have in your kitchen pantry.


    So what exactly does apple cider vinegar do? This video offers an excellent summary of how it can benefit your body:


    Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlIYWi2mNvE


    Aside from cooking, apple cider vinegar can have home cleaning and personal hygiene purposes. Check out this article on ways to use apple cider vinegar at home.


    One last reminder: Use organic, unfiltered and unprocessed vinegar. It should be murky, unlike distilled white vinegar, which is clear (and is best used for cleaning). The murkiness comes from the “mother,” which is a cobweb-like substance that contains all the benefits this liquid can give. The mother is a sure sign that you’re using a high-quality product.


    About the Blog:


    Founded by a Holistic Nutritionist and a trusted expert on healthy living, Naturally Savvy’s main focus is to make sure its readers eat organic and non-GMO whole foods, while learning how to integrate nutrition into their daily lives. The website shares the latest news on healthy living, how to properly read food labels and other tips to make you and your family live a happy and healthy life.

  • Birthday Candles Increase Bacterial Count on Cake
    published on August 11th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Like the rest of your body, the health of your mouth is dependent on the foods you eat. However, failing to develop the habit of brushing your teeth will also increase your risk of heart disease.1 Advanced gum disease may actually increase your risk of a fatal heart attack 10 times. Poor oral health also increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to 700 percent, and to systemic inflammation that is linked to a number of different types of health conditions.

    Unbalanced microflora in your mouth is also responsible for tooth decay. These bacteria then enter your bloodstream, increasing your levels of C-reactive protein that have an inflammatory effect on your whole body. Your oral health and hygiene help to prevent cavities and have an effect on your gut microbiome. You affect your oral microbiome with your oral hygiene habits, foods you eat and drinking fluoridated water or using fluoridated toothpaste.

    By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you reduce the proliferation of bad bacteria. Proper brushing and flossing and regular cleanings with a mercury-free dentist will help ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy naturally. It's also worth noting that while probiotics do not have a direct effect on your oral microbiome, addressing your gut flora can indeed make a big difference in your oral health.

    However, the addition of bacteria from someone else’s mouth is not the type of probiotic supplementation that creates a healthy gut microbiome. Recent research found blowing on your food, or birthday cake, may increase the bacteria on the food by up to 1,400 percent.2

    Blowing on Food Transfers Bacteria

    Paul Dawson, Ph.D., food science professor at Clemson University, said his teenage daughter gave him the idea for a study that demonstrated large numbers of bacteria are transferred when you blow on food, such as when you blow out birthday candles.3 This is not his first study evaluating food safety, as he routinely conducts food analyses with his students at the university.

    Dawson and his students simplified the study parameters by using a cake shaped Styrofoam piece, covered in foil and then frosted. The students and professor first ate pizza to simulate being at a birthday party and then placed candles in the fake cake and blew them out. Once all the students had a chance to blow out candles on their own fake cake, the frosting was retrieved, diluted in sterile water and spread on agar plates to encourage bacterial growth.

    Not all of the bacteria from your mouth will grow on agar plates, but this classic method of measuring bacterial growth gave a baseline for comparison with previous studies.4 Dawson and his students found a lot of bacteria on the frosting from each of them. What surprised them was the variation between students and from blow to blow. On average, each time the candles were blown out the amount of bacteria increased 14 times.

    However, in one case it increased the amount of bacteria 120 times.5 Why some people transfer more bacteria than others remains unclear. While this transfer of bacteria may sound gross, it’s typically harmless, and is highly unlikely to make you sick. If birthday cakes contributed significantly to spreading diseases, the practice would have become obsolete.

    As noted by Dawson, “It’s not a big health concern in my perspective. In reality if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal.” After all, a single French kiss can exchange as many as 80 million bacteria between mouths.6 That said, if you’re sick, it’s a good idea to refrain not only from French kissing but also from blowing out cake candles.

    Contaminated Cake Unlikely to Spread Disease

    Since the study was published, Dawson has heard from several people interested in how they may be able to protect their cakes from bacterial spray when the candles are blown out. There is even a current patent for a sanitary birthday cake cover and candle system7 to protect birthday cake consumers from extra bacteria.

    However, most cakes won’t give you a cold and there are other ways you exchange bacteria with your family members you don’t find disgusting, such as drinking from someone’s cup or kissing. Moreover, it’s actually pretty difficult to catch a cold from saliva unless the individual has such a bad cough that viruses from the respiratory tract make it to the mouth.

    Professor Emeritus Ron Eccles, former director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, commented on the ability to get a cold from saliva, saying, “The virus travels in the mucus from the respiratory system.

    Unless you have a bad cough, and some of the respiratory mucus has made its way into your saliva, the cold virus will not be transmitted by kissing.” And, unless you are coughing or sneezing, and blowing candles at the same time, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a cold from the bacteria that makes it to your birthday cake.

    What’s in Your Mouth?

    There are an estimated 300 different species of bacteria living in your mouth at any given time.8 Scientific photographer Steve Gschmeissner swabbed the inside of several mouths and took pictures of the bacteria under an electron microscope, demonstrating the incredible variety and scope of bacteria that live in the human mouth.

    Bacteria may be found growing inside your cheeks, under your gums and on your teeth and tongue. Some of the bacteria are harmless and others help control the bacteria that causes tooth decay, the major contributors to which are Lactobacillus and Streptococcus mutans.9 Although part of the normal flora growing in your mouth, when it grows out of control and gains access to your teeth, it may lead to cavities.

    Eating foods high in sugars creates a sticky film over your teeth, providing an ideal environment for bacteria in your mouth to adhere to teeth, grow quickly and cause damage.10 Even foods you may normally think of as healthy, such as raisins, are innately sticky and high in fructose, providing bacteria the nutrients they need to thrive.

    The bacteria start the process by digesting sugars, producing lactic acid that lowers the pH of the mouth and encourages demineralization of the enamel covering your teeth. The bacteria also produce plaque that allows the bacteria to adhere to the teeth even longer.11 Bacteria then collect in the fissures in your teeth and a cavity begins to grow.

    Poor oral health, including gum disease and multiple untreated cavities, are related to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease and premature birth or low birth weight babies.12,13 Chronic periodontitis may also lead to kidney disease and a loss of structural support for your teeth.14

    Periodontal Disease and Cavities Are Dangerous to Your Health

    Although you don’t want to eliminate the bacteria living in your mouth, as they serve a purpose, you do want to reduce your risk for periodontal disease and cavities. Periodontal disease may range from simple inflammation of your gums to a serious infection that affects your gums and bone that support your teeth.15 Plaque and bacteria on your teeth lead to inflammation of your gums, also called gingivitis. When left untreated it can result in periodontitis, the more severe form of periodontal disease.

    In this case, pockets form around the tooth, allowing more bacteria to enter and your gum line often recedes. As this progresses, you may lose support for your teeth in your gums and bone. Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic health problem in children.16 It is infectious, progressive and painful, and may be irreversible when left untreated. By third grade, over 70 percent of children in California have had dental caries, or cavities.

    Severe dental disease may require emergency room treatment as cavities may lead to an abscess.17 These are pockets of pus that may develop in the tooth or gum that lead to pain, pressure, foul taste in your mouth and fever.18 Sometimes the pain stops when the infection destroys the pulp and nerve in your tooth, but it has not disappeared. Left untreated, an abscess may lead to sepsis as the infection travels through the rest of your body, and eventually to death.

    Importance of a Healthy Oral Microbiome

    Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry, has over 30 years' experience in biological dentistry. In this interview, he discusses the importance of your oral microbiome to your overall health, not the least of which is preventing cavities and periodontal disease.

    Achieving good oral health is really about a balanced oral microbiome and not about killing the bacteria in your mouth. In other words, it’s about working with your body to achieve good health and not about following advertising that promises fresh breath after using antimicrobial agents and alcohol-based mouthwashes.

    Your oral microbiome is related to your gut microbiome, but each is unique unto itself. As your mouth is the entry point to your gut, it has a protective element to defend your body from viruses and bacteria in your environment trying to gain access. Your oral bacteria also work with your saliva to begin the process of digestion. Curatola says:

    "When we look at the oral microbiome, it's an essential component of the salivary immune system; it aids in digestion, and it even makes vitamins. We are looking at ways to promote oral microbiome homeostasis. When we do that, we see amazing things happen, so amazing that you might not get the flu this winter ... [I]mmune competence is a very important first line of defense, and that immune competence starts in the mouth."

    Interestingly, probiotics do not work in the mouth, so it's not as simple as adding more beneficial microbes. As an initial step, you need to stop killing microbes in your mouth and encourage the balance of bacteria by reducing the nutrients that promote overgrowth. Curatola explains:

    "Pathogens are now being recognized as resident microbes that are out of balance. When they're under attack, they hunker down, they flick a switch ... What we're recognizing is that the same bacteria that keep us alive can have a pathogenic expression when disturbed. I have been kind of tooting the horn about getting out of the 'pesticide business.' I'm also speaking about natural pesticides.

    Not just triclosan, clorhexidine and those synthetic types, but also tea tree oil, tulsi oil, oregano oil and other antimicrobial oils that, albeit they're herbal, they have a potent disturbing effect on the oral microbiome.

    In the mouth, you don't want to have a 'scorched earth policy' or nuking all the bacteria and hoping the good bugs come back. What we found in our research is that good bugs basically have a harder chance of setting up a healthy-balanced microbiome when you disturb them, denature them or dehydrate them with alcohol-based products."

    Improve Your Oral Health Naturally

    I used to be severely challenged with plaque — so much so I required very frequent visits to the dental hygienist just to keep up with it. Once I started adding fermented vegetables regularly to my diet, however, the plaque buildup was dramatically reduced.

    In addition to an alkalizing, antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory diet, Curatola recommends eliminating detergent-based products such as toothpaste and antibacterial and alcohol- and fluoride-based mouthwashes. Again, it's important to remember that your mouth is an organ that protects your body from dangerous infections and disease — provided it's nourished enough to do its job. The following links can also help you find a mercury-free, biological dentist who can help you optimize your oral health:

    Consumers for Dental Choice

    Holistic Dental Association

    Talk International

    International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine (IABDM)

    Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS). Email them at: dams@usfamily.net or call 651-644-4572 for an information packet

    Huggins Applied Healing. You'll need to fill out a form and they will connect with you to find a suitable dentist in your area

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  • ‘What the Health’ — Where This Vegan PR Film Went Wrong
    published on August 11th, 2017 at 03:12 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    According to the sugar industry, sugar is harmless and may even be an important part of a healthy diet. Industry recommendations suggest getting 25 percent of your daily calories from sugar. This, despite research1 showing people who get 25 percent or more of their calories from sugar triple their risk of death from heart disease compared to those who get 7 percent or less of their calories from the sweet stuff.

    The sugar industry promotes the myth that saturated fat is to blame for weight gain and ill health, not sugar, along with the thoroughly debunked energy balance theory. Fortunately, some great books have now been written exposing the history and extent of the cover-ups. Two examples are science journalist Gary Taubes' book, "The Case Against Sugar," and Marion Nestle's "Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)."

    Which brings us to the topic of today's article: The documentary "What the Health,"2 which is currently one of the most viewed documentaries on Netflix. Sadly, this film nonchalantly ignores the accumulated evidence against sugar in a misguided effort to promote vegan ideology.

    What the Health?

    Funded through an Indiegogo campaign,3 this film is supposed to "expose collusion and corruption in government and big business" that is keeping us sick. In reality, it's a call to veganism, but some of the arguments are so flawed, it might as well be considered a freebie to the sugar industry.

    While I agree in principle with recommendations to avoid all processed foods and meats raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), there are nuances with regard to meat consumption that I believe are vitally important if you're interested in optimal health.

    According to the film, the focus on sugar as a contributor to obesity, diabetes and ill health has steered people away from the real culprits, which they claim are meat and animal fat. Again, while I often warn against excessive consumption of animal protein, important details are overlooked in this film. Worse, the suggestion that sugar isn't a problem is counterproductive to the point of rendering the film useless and laughable in terms of helping people take control of their health and well-being.

    As far as I can tell, most if not all of the medical experts4,5,6,7,8,9 featured in the film are vegans and promote veganism to their patients, although they're not introduced as such. The directors, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and the executive producer Joaquin Phoenix are also vegan. As a result, the film presents a profoundly unbalanced view of what makes for an optimal diet. Some of the views presented are so demonstrably wrong, I found it difficult to watch.

    Sugar Versus Fat — The Devil's in the Details

    For example, Dr. Neal Barnard, adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, claims that diabetes is not caused by a high-carb, high-sugar diet. In his view, diabetes is caused by fat buildup caused by a meat-based diet. To treat diabetes, Barnard recommends a low-fat vegetarian diet, free of any and all animal products, without any restrictions on carbohydrates.10

    While a high-vegetable diet is certainly beneficial, the low-fat, unrestricted-carb recommendation is upside-down and backward. Time and again, low-carb, high-fat diets have proven superior for controlling insulin resistance, which is the hallmark of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. Yet the film completely ignores the low-carb approach.

    According to Barnard, the sugar in the cookie is what lures you in, but it's the butter in the cookie that makes you fat. I believe it must be pointed out that unless you're baking homemade cookies, cookies are not made with butter. Most cookies sold in grocery stores are made with processed vegetable oils, harmful fats that indeed damage your health and contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and chronic ill health. But to vilify ALL fats is a fatal error.

    Animal fats from organic, grass fed animals fall into the category of healthy fats, while processed vegetable oils are in the harmful category. Since most cookies are made with vegetable oil, as opposed to real butter, the fat in cookies is indeed part of the problem. But this harmful fat cannot be compared to saturated animal fat such as real butter from organic, grass fed animals, which has many important health benefits.

    You also cannot overlook the influence of the sugar in the cookie. When it comes to processed foods in general, the combination of sugar and harmful vegetable oils is a lethal combination.

    Why Does Sugar Get a Free Pass?

    Dr. Garth Davis, a weight loss surgeon and author of "Proteinaholic,"11 is another vegan doctor who ignores the overwhelming evidence against sugar. "Sugar is not great," he says, but it "does not cause inflammation … The focus on sugar has taken the focus off meat, dairy [and] eggs …" He goes so far as to say, "carbs cannot make you fat, in and of themselves."

    Sugar doesn't cause inflammation? Carbs are incapable of making you fat? I'm at a loss to explain how any rational unbiased health professional  could still hold, let alone promote these views unless they have some hidden agenda or ulterior motive. The medical literature is filled with evidence showing processed sugar is one of the most inflammatory foods there is.12 It's not the only one, but to give it a free pass is profoundly ignorant considering the evidence.

    Excessive sugar clearly promotes insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is the fire that feeds chronic inflammation. Insulin resistance also promotes obesity, and fiber-free carbohydrates clearly are the primary culprit when it comes to packing on pounds, with processed fructose being readily converted to body fat.

    Is Eating Meat a Healthy Choice?

    An estimated 16 million Americans are vegans, which is typically considered a healthy and environmentally sound choice. However, there are drawbacks of strict veganism that need careful consideration. Mara Kahn's book, "Vegan Betrayal: Love, Lies, and Hunger in a Plants-Only World," reveals many oft-ignored facts about this strictly plant-based diet. Part of the confusion is that many vegans appear quite healthy in the earlier stages.

    This isn't so surprising when you consider the fact that many switch from processed foods to a mostly raw plant-based diet. The influx of live foods will undoubtedly improve your health. In the long term, however, the absence of all animal-based foods can take a toll, as certain nutrients cannot be obtained from the plant kingdom.

    Carnosine, carnitine, taurine, vitamin B12 and long-chained omega-3 fats are just a few examples. As noted by Dr. Steven Gundry, author of "The Plant Paradox," in which he explains the detrimental health impacts of plant-based lectins, his vegan patients tend to be some of the unhealthiest of all. The reason for this is because most vegans are not vegetable eaters but rather grain- and bean-eaters, and grains and beans are very high in inflammatory lectins — plant proteins that cause harm through molecular mimicry.

    Surprisingly, lectins such as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat and galactans, found in beans, even promote fat storage — despite their source being the plant kingdom. Even more surprising, considering the heart health claims allowed for whole wheat, WGA is one of the most efficient ways to induce heart disease in experimental animals.13

    As chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University School of Medicine — a Seventh Day Adventist institution — Gundry also ate a vegetarian diet for about 15 years, and had "never been sicker" in his life. Despite running 30 miles a week and spending an hour in the gym each day, he was severely overweight, had high blood pressure and prediabetes.

    Does this mean it's impossible to be healthy on a vegan diet? Absolutely not. But it does mean vegans need to be more mindful of how to avoid the complications associated with an all-plant diet, especially if it's weighted toward grains and legumes loaded with autoimmune-stimulating lectins.

    Ethical Protein

    There's evidence showing animal proteins contribute to aging, and vegan Seventh Day Adventists are among the longest living humans on the planet. However, if you're going to live on plants alone, you need to figure out how you're going to obtain animal-based nutrients. In my view, there's strong support for including small amounts of healthy animal protein in your diet.

    Most Americans eat far more protein than required for optimal health, and this excess can trigger ill health by activating the mTOR pathway, which plays an important role in cancer and aging. Replacing carbs with protein is an unwise choice, as high-protein diets tend to have poor health outcomes in the long term. Net carbs need to be replaced with healthy fat, and protein needs to be restricted to what your body needs for growth and repair, which is actually far less than you might think.

    Estimates suggest you only need about one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Quality is also a determining factor when it comes to the benefits and drawbacks of animal protein. Meat, dairy and eggs from CAFOs are best avoided altogether. Organically-raised, pastured or grass fed animals, on the other hand, offer superior nutrition — and as just mentioned, you don't need very much.

    Moreover, surveys show people convert to veganism primarily for ethical reasons, but veganism is not the only ethical diet out there. In fact, organic grass fed animals serve a very important role in regenerative agriculture.

    Such animals not only contribute to environmental regeneration and ecological balance, but they're also a very ethical choice in terms of eating, as they're not abused or maltreated. They live their life as nature intended, roaming freely, eating a species-appropriate diet that supports their health and well-being. And then, at the species-appropriate time, they are humanely slaughtered for food.

    What's Wrong With CAFO Beef?

    There are many troubling practices in mainstream beef production, where animals are raised in CAFOs. For starters, feed additives have a number of problematic aspects, and can contaminate both the food and the environment. Antibiotics are routinely given to factory farmed animals to prevent disease and promote rapid growth, and this is a major driving factor behind antibiotic-resistant disease. Very rarely are antibiotics administered to organic grass fed animals.

    Moreover, there's a great deal of research taking place all over the world to determine the best ways to regenerate the environment, and cattle are a key ingredient. According to Richard Teague, Ph.D., who's been researching the impacts of cattle grazing for decades, careful management of the animals' movements is essential. Densely congregated animals that are moved frequently is optimal.

    The goal is to mimic the environmental impact that would be had by herds of wild animals. When you do that, it has dramatically positive impacts for the soil health, the water, the production of the water, and even for climate change. Most people believe that grazing is a negative, but that's not true. Grazing is actually essential to balanced ecosystem functioning.

    It stimulates plant growth, and helps press the seeds into the ground. The cattle also deposit urine and dung onto the land, which act as fertilizer. In this way, grazing herds accelerate the building of fertile topsoil. They also affect the water cycle because for every one percentage of organic matter in topsoil, 27,000 additional gallons of water is maintained in that water per acre.

    Researchers have even found that when you have an intact ecosystem, which includes grazing animals, the soil microbes process large amounts of methane. According to Nicolette Hahn Niman, an environmental lawyer, sustainable rancher and author, Australian researchers found the total methane emitted from cattle in a well-managed system was fully offset by the soil microbes.

    Is Eating Fish, Dairy and Eggs Safe and Healthy?

    While the film starts out with a valid premise — the idea that processed meats are bad for your health, as the film progresses, more and more foods are tossed into the proverbial dustbin, until the entire animal food spectrum is covered.

    According to this film, anything that comes from the animal kingdom promotes obesity, diabetes and chronic ill health. Not a single animal food gets a qualitative or quantitative pass. Personally, I believe most food groups have their problems these days. The key is to understand how quality and quantity influences your health.

    Clearly, most fish are  contaminated with toxins these days, but if you choose wisely, the benefits of fish can still outweigh the hazards. To avoid environmental toxins, select wild-caught fish that are low on the food chain (farmed fish actually contain higher levels of toxins than most wild-caught fish). To get the most nutritional benefits, choose cold water, fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies and herring. These are high in long-chained omega-3 fats, which are actually structural elements that make up your cells.

    The same thing goes for dairy and eggs. Quality and quantity are key considerations. CAFO milk and eggs have few redeeming qualities and are best avoided. Organic, pastured and grass fed milk and eggs, on the other hand, have a number of benefits. Cholesterol, for example, far from being a villain, plays a key role in regulating protein pathways involved in cell signaling and is needed within your cell membranes.

    Your body is composed of trillions of cells that need to communicate with each other. Cholesterol is one of the molecules that allow these communications to take place. For example, cholesterol is the precursor to bile acids, so without sufficient amounts of cholesterol, your digestive system can be adversely affected.

    It also plays an essential role in your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for synapse formation, i.e., the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things and form memories.

    'What the Health' Falls Short by Regurgitating Old Health Fallacies

    "What the Health" is a success in terms of promoting veganism. Sadly, it relies on outworn myths to deliver its hidden message and ulterior motivations. While the filmmakers and featured experts are all vegan, this is not expressed, leaving the average viewer to conclude that simply by following the trail of evidence, the filmmaker eventually reached the conclusion that a strict plant-based diet is the sanest, safest, healthiest alternative.

    In reality, the film was undoubtedly created with the intention to promote the vegan lifestyle right from the start. That's fine, as this is the U.S. and there are still First Amendment freedom of speech privileges.

    What disturbs me is that they chose to promote the dangerous position that sugar and net carbs have no bearing on health, and that it's all about animal foods — meats, saturated fats and cholesterol. In summary, the film presents a flat out wrong picture of what's causing obesity, diabetes and related diseases. This is an absolute travesty, as it's taken decades to turn the tide against these fallacies.

    Your body is designed to have the metabolic flexibility to use both fat and glucose for fuel — not just one or the other. The reason conventional dietary advice has failed so miserably is because eating a high-carb diet for a long period of time results in the loss of this metabolic flexibility, making you unable to effectively burn fat for fuel.

    None of this is addressed in this film, which instead reverts back to demonizing all dietary fats while giving sugar, of all things, a free pass. Additionally, the dangers of lectins from many "healthy" plants is completely ignored.

    Eat Your Veggies, but Beware of False Sugar Claims

    I'm not opposed to vegetarianism. I eat very small amounts of animal protein; mostly fish. Occasionally, I'll have some organic American grass fed certified meat. But meats are not a cornerstone staple in my diet, and I believe most people could benefit from lowering their meat consumption. I don't believe it should be entirely excluded, however, because animal foods do contain very valuable nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Organic pastured eggs and raw butter are another source of incredibly healthy nutrients.

    If ethics and animal welfare are your concerns, I would encourage you to investigate and educate yourself on humanely-raised animal foods. Yes, the animal will die in the end, but there's a tremendous difference between the life of an animal raised in a CAFO and one raised on pasture that is allowed to live a full, healthy and stress-free life. There's also a big difference in the way they're slaughtered.

    At the end of the day, it is ultimately your responsibility to choose for yourself and your children between the life of an animal somewhere — even if only a few rodents caught in a harvester — or your own health. A balance must be struck between optimizing your health and causing the least amount of unnecessary suffering.

    Opportunities to Learn More

    If you're interested in learning more about how to use a ketogenic (high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein) diet to optimize health and prevent disease, be sure to attend the ACIM conference in Orlando, Florida, November 2 through 4 at the wonderful Florida Conference and Hotel Center.

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