Monthly Archives: January 2012

GM Modified Food: Banned in Germany but we are still Eating it!

By Dr. Mercola

Monsanto, the world leader in genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds, has been named the worst company of 2011 by Natural Society — for “threatening both human health and the environment.”

I couldn’t agree more. I have long designated Monsanto the most dangerous corporation on the planet, and clearly this is a growing sentiment …

According to Forbes:

“Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google’s first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is ‘Monsanto evil.’

Readers… voted Monsanto the world’s most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote.”

What’s Wrong With Monsanto?

You may be wondering what Monsanto — the world’s largest seed company whose net income for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 totaled $126 million (up from $9 million in 2011) — has done to have earned such ire.

The list is long, easily enough for a novel, but to sum it up, biotech giant Monsanto has created some of the most dangerous products on the planet, including Agent Orange, dioxin, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)… and genetically modified seeds.

The latter is one of the most pressing concerns because GM crops are now a mainstay of American agriculture.

Ninety percent or more of all US-grown corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets are genetically modified versions, which means that virtually all processed food items contain at least one or more genetically modified ingredients.

GM foods are, from what I perceive, one of the most significant threats that we have against the very sustainability of the human race. Why? In a nutshell, these toxins are being linked to a growing repertoire of assaults against human health and the environment — and they are already migrating into fetal blood, which means future generations are now at risk.

Monsanto is Destroying the Food System Via Their GMO Crops

Virtually all of the claims of benefit of GM crops – increased yields, more food production, controlled pests and weeds, reductions in chemical use in agriculture, drought-tolerant seeds – have not materialized.

The Global Citizens’ Report on the State of GMOs states:

  • Contrary to the claim of feeding the world, genetic engineering has not increased the yield of a single crop.
  • Herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops were supposed to control weeds and Bt crops were intended to control pests. Instead of controlling weeds and pests, GE crops have led to the emergence of super weeds and super pests … Herbicide resistant crops such as Roundup Ready cotton can create the risk of herbicide resistant “superweeds” by transferring the herbicide resistance to weeds.
  • Despite claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) used, quite the opposite has occurred, with 1.6 billion pounds of glyphosate (the active in ingredient in Roundup) being applied to American soil in 2007 alone. This is of great concern both because of the negative impacts of these chemicals on ecosystems and humans, and because there is the danger that increased chemical use will cause pests and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even more chemicals in order to manage them.
  • Monsanto has been claiming that through genetic engineering it can breed crops for drought tolerance and other climate-resilient traits. This is a false promise.
  • Among the false claims made by Monsanto and the Biotechnology industry is that GE foods are safe. However, there are enough independent studies to show that GE foods can cause severe health damage.

Thanks to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s non-selective, broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, that is sprayed on massive acreages of GM Roundup Ready soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the United States each and every year, super weeds are growing at an alarming rate. It’s estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, the situation is getting progressively worse.

Extremely hardy Roundup-resistant weeds are already boosting costs and cutting crop yields for U.S. farmers. And with world food stores already strained, diminished crop production is a serious problem. In addition, the creation of these superweeds is leading farmers to douse their fields with ever increasing amounts of herbicides in a desperate attempt to stop their spread.

Along with the environmental devastation, research published in 2010 showed that glyphosate causes birth defects in frogs and chicken embryos at far lower levels than used in agricultural and garden applications. And numerous animal studies suggest reproductive problems are a common side effect of glyphosate exposure and the consumption of genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops.

Quite shockingly, the amount of glyphosate residue you can be exposed to through food is remarkably high, and is very close to the maximum residue limit (MRL) legally allowed According to GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, there is so much glyphosate in GM soybeans, when they were introduced, Europe had to increase their allowable residue levels by 200-fold! For more information, please listen to this informative interview with Dr. Don Huber, an expert in an area of science that relates to the toxicity of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Why GM Foods Should be Labeled with a Skull and Crossbones

Monsanto wants you to simply trust them because they’re “experts” and because their industry-funded studies “prove” their GM foods are safe. But these same experts also told you PCB’s, Agent Orange, and DDT was safe, and we now know those claims were far from accurate.

Of course, in terms of reliability, there’s a big difference between corporate science, which tends to primarily favor and support corporate interests, and independent science, performed without preconceived bias. Scientists have, in fact, discovered a number of health problems related to genetically modified foods, including:

  • An analysis of 19 animal studies revealed that nearly 10 percent of blood, urine, organ and other parameters tested were significantly influenced by GMOs, with the livers and kidneys faring the worst.
  • A 2009 Brazilian study discovered that female rats fed GM soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy.
  • A study performed by Irina Ermakova with the Russian National Academy of Sciences reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, while the death rate in the non-GM soy group was only 10 percent. Additionally, the babies in the GM group were smaller, and, worst of all, could not reproduce. In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova’s feeding trials were completed, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55 percent.
  • Milk treated with the Monsanto-developed genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) contains higher levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone linked to breast, prostate and colon cancers in humans.

Evil Monsanto Continues to Spreads its Poisonous Tentacles

Genetically engineered seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. Peru is also following the precautionary principle, and has even passed a law that bans genetically modified ingredients within the nation for 10 years.

In the United States, certain states are passing legislation that protects the use of GM seeds and allows for unabated expansion. To date, 14 states have passed such legislation and Michigan’s Sen. Bill 777, if passed, would make that 15. The Michigan bill would prevent anti-GMO laws and would remove “any authority local governments may have to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, use, or planting of agricultural, vegetable, flower or forest tree seeds.”

Bills like these are obviously music to Monsanto’s ears, which spends millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government at the federal level for favorable legislation that supports the spread of their toxic products.

In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government — a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter. If we all had several million to drop solely on lobbying efforts, suffice to say the world would be a very different place. If you aren’t familiar with the power of lobbying please view the recent 60 minutes expansion on it, which is one of the best 60 Minute episodes I have seen in 40 years.

Furthermore, once you realize just how many of Monsanto’s employees have shifted into positions of power within the federal government, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to see how this biotech giant has managed to so successfully undermine common sense.

Unfortunately, it’s primarily multinational corporations like Monsanto that have this type of clout, and they use it to further their power, wealth and control — not only in the United States, but throughout the entire world.

For instance, as reported by Netline, Monsanto and other biotech companies have collaborated with the Gates Foundation via the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to inject genetically modified crops into Africa. And Monsanto’s golden rice is being pushed in Asia as a way to alleviate vitamin A deficiency, which is common in developing countries where people don’t have regular access to beta-carotene-rich foods, like vegetables and fruits.

But it doesn’t take much digging beneath the surface to uncover the true motives of seeking to plant golden rice in the developing world, and they have much more to do with dollars and cents than they do with alleviating nutritional deficiencies. In fact, there’s reason to believe that GM golden rice will do little to improve vitamin A levels in the poor — and may actually make vitamin A deficiency worse.

It would be naive at this point to think that these collaborations are designed to solve any other problem than how to help Monsanto monopolize the world’s food supply with expensive GM seeds that have to be purchased each year and require expensive and toxic chemical treatment. After all, if you own the rights to all the food grown everywhere, you literally rule the world …

You Can Stop Supporting Monsanto by Boycotting GM Foods

It’s quite clear that genetically engineered foods threaten not only biodiversity and the environment; they can also pose potentially serious threats to animal and human health when consumed. Unfortunately, the revolving door between Monsanto and the biotech industry as a whole and the agencies in charge of industry legislation makes it very difficult to stop the ongoing madness.

That does not mean it’s impossible, however. But it does require your active participation.

First and foremost, avoid buying GM foods! Since the industry has so far successfully squelched every attempt at getting genetically engineered foods labeled, avoiding them requires you to be an educated consumer.

  • Print out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and refer to it often. It can help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
  • Better yet, always buy USDA 100% Organic products when possible, as these do not permit GM ingredients, or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the GMO’s you’re exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you’re not inadvertently consuming something laced with GM ingredients.
  • When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
  • For ongoing updates, follow our Non-GMO’s page on Facebook.

We CAN shift the balance by simply voting with our pocketbooks and forks. Europe successfully did this over a decade ago, without any government assistance, and Americans can drive GMO’s out of our food supply as well, but it requires educating the public about what GM foods are.

Important Action Item: Support California’s Ballot Initiative to Label GMO’s!

In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to “immediately” require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired.

Fortunately, 24 US states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the ballot for 2012.

Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaigns.

Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. Last month, a coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on next year’s ballot.

I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can.

If you live in California, volunteer to gather petition signatures. If you live outside of California, please donate to help support this Initiative and spread the word to everyone you know in California. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S., so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

Volunteer today Volunteer today

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Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef – The Secret Sauce

The Secret Sauce in Grass-Fed Beef

  If you are steering away from red meat due to the negative press on saturated fats, you may be happy to hear that a very powerful fatty acid primarily found in beef and dairy products has been linked to long-term weight management and health. This potent nutrient is called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, and the best possible sources of CLA are grass-fed beef and raw dairy products that come from grass-fed cattle.

Many ranchers are responding to the call by U.S. consumers by shifting from traditional, factory-farmed, grain-fed methods of raising cattle to a free-range, all-grass diet.  Even the USDA is waking up to the consumer demand for grass-fed products. Their June 2010 publication of Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy Outlook indicates that grass-fed beef represents 3 percent of the total U.S. beef production and has been growing about 20 percent for several years.

CLA Benefits Across the Board

A host of research has been conducted on animals, under microscopes, and with humans to determine the impact of CLA on disease.  Results have shown CLA to be a potent ally for combating:

  • Cancer:   Animal studies show that as little as 0.5 percent CLA in your diet could reduce tumors by over 50 percent, including the following types of cancer:
    • Breast
    • Colorectal
    • Lung
    • Skin
    • Stomach
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insulin resistance: CLA’s actions actually mimic the effect of synthetic diabetic drugs. Testing on mice with type 2 diabetes have shown CLA to improve insulin action and reduce circulating glucose. Even better, the early results from human trials are just as positive, when consuming CLA for longer than eight weeks.
  • Inflammation
  • Immune system invaders
  • Food-induced allergic reactions
  • Body Composition:  Exciting research with humans has shown that CLA has been beneficial in lowering body fat, with even greater improvement in those who combine exercise with dietary intake of CLA. Animal research has been even more promising, with significant improvements seen in both reducing body fat and in increasing lean body mass.
  • Previous studies have shown that CLA reduces body fat while preserving muscle tissue, and may also increase your metabolic rate.  A study published in the  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who took 3.2 grams of CLA a day had a drop in fat mass of about 0.2 pounds a week (that’s about one pound a month) compared to those given a placebo.

Since CLA cannot be manufactured in the human body, you must get it from your diet.  And your best dietary source of CLA is grass-fed beef.

What’s the Deal with Grass-Fed Beef?

The natural diet for ruminant animals, such as cattle, is grass.  When left to feed on grass-only diets, levels of CLA are three to five times more than those fed grain-based diets.  And that’s just the start.

A joint effort between the USDA and Clemson University researchers in 2009 determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed is better than grain-fed beef for human health.

In a side-by-side comparison, they determined that grass-fed beef was:

  1. Lower in total fat
  2. Higher in beta-carotene
  3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  6. Higher in total omega-3s
  7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

The Bull We’ve Been Fed – Dangers of Grain-Fed Cattle

If you’ve been reading my articles with any frequency, you’ll know that my dietary recommendations are largely based on scientific literature that clearly spells out the types of foods that human beings were naturally designed to eat.

This is no different for a cow.

When a ruminant is left to eat on its own, it doesn’t choose corn or soy to munch on… it selects grass.  Therefore, when a cow grazes on natural grass pastures, its body composition is affected accordingly:  the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is slightly above two.  In other words, two parts omega-6 to one part omega-3, which is very close to the ideal ratio between these two fats.

Conventionally raised cattle, on the other hand, are shipped to giant feed lots and fed corn to fatten them up, and this has an impact on your health as well.

When a cow’s diet primarily consists of grains, its body’s composition (and subsequently yours) changes.  In fact, previous studies on grain-fed steer found the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats was between 5-to-1 and 13-to-1, which is far from the ideal.

Since you are what you eat, the beneficial effects of eating grass-fed beef and dairy products with the proper balance of fatty acids are translated into health benefits for you.  These foods are rich in all the fats now proven to be health-enhancing, and low in the fats that have been linked with disease.

Since meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, this means that it is lower in calories as well. By switching to lean grass-fed beef, it is estimated that the average person in the U.S. could reduce intake up to 17,000 calories a year, which is equal to losing about six pounds!  Imagine how this could impact the national epidemic of obesity.

The Madness of Sick Cows

Another troubling aspect of grain-fed cattle involves the well-being of the animal and, consequently, the health effect this has on you.  Factory farming and feedlot conditions result in unhealthy animals.

A list of these consequences from Eatwild.com includes:

  1. Acidosis.  During the normal digestive process, bacteria in the rumen of cattle produce a variety of acids. Saliva neutralizes the acidity from grass-based diets, but grain-based eating in feedlots prohibits saliva production. The net result is “acid indigestion.”Animals with this condition are plagued with diarrhea, go off their feed, pant, salivate excessively, kick at their bellies, and eat dirt. Over time, acidosis can lead to a condition called “rumenitis,” and inflammatory response to too much acid and too little roughage and results in inefficient nutrient absorption.
  2. Liver abscesses.  From 15 to 30 percent of feedlot cattle have liver abscesses, which results when bacteria may leak out through ulcerated rumen in cattle and are ultimately transported to the liver.
  3. Bloat.  During digestion, cows produce gas and when they are on pasture, they belch up the gas without any difficulty.  Grain-based feeding cause these gasses to become trapped, and results in bloat. In more serious cases of bloat, the rumen becomes so distended with gas that the animal is unable to breathe and dies from asphyxiation.
  4. Feedlot polio.  A highly acidic digestive environment results in the production of an enzyme called “thiaminase” which destroys vitamin B-1, starving the brain of energy and creating paralysis.
  5. Dust pneumonia.  In dry weather, the feedlot can become a dust bowl which springs the cattle’s immune system into action and keeps it running on a constant basis, ultimately resulting in respiratory ailments and even death.

In addition, BSE, or mad cow disease results when cows are fed bone meal and waste products from other cattle infected with the disease.

Factory Farming Produces Inferior Food

In addition to everything already mentioned, factory farming has further  health consequences.

Factory-farmed, commercially-produced animals carry a greater risk of spreading E.coli infection to humans, for example, due to the higher incidence of harmful bacteria growth in grain-fed animals, and fecal contamination in feedlots and on kill floors. This is an extremely rare problem with grass-fed, organically-raised cattle as cows that graze on grasses naturally maintain the proper ratios of healthy bacteria in their guts.

In addition, you might not suspect that factory farmed steak to be a source of heavy metals, pesticides, and an array of potentially harmful drugs, but that’s exactly what you get.

Conventionally-raised meats contain residues of everything the animal was exposed to, which includes veterinary drugs, heavy metal residues, and pesticides from their grain-based diet.

Drugs such as growth hormones and antibiotics are given to cattle to increase growth and reduce illness, but invariably enter the food system when producers slaughter animals that still have these toxins in their system.

The use of growth hormones is becoming of particular concern as we’re now clearly noticing the dramatic effects they’re having both on growing youngsters and adults.

Many children are now entering puberty at the age of 9! And although this poses emotional challenges, the long-term health effects of this include an increased risk of heart disease and estrogen-sensitive cancers, for example. Leading scientists have also linked hormone-laced foods (plus other endocrine disrupting chemicals) to falling sperm counts and fertility problems in adults.

Lastly, environmental pollution from organic waste produced by cattle, and the enormous amounts of petro-chemical fertilizers used to produce feed crops is out of control.  Waste and waste treatment methods of grain-fed cattle are believed to be responsible for producing a significant portion of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (the three major gases that are largely responsible for global warming), along with other harmful gasses.

Many don’t think about this, but fossil fuels are used in everything from the fertilizers and pesticides that are sprayed onto the crop, to the transportation of the feed.

Grass, on the other hand, does not require fossil fuels to grow (rotating pastures does the job instead), and other health harming practices, such as injecting the livestock with hormones and antibiotics, are also not allowed in organic farming.

The inherent differences between these two farming practices are truly vast. They are two distinctly different industries with entirely different environmental impacts, producing what is, in the end, two distinctly different animals.

Grass-fed cows equate to healthier meat — which leads to a healthier you — and benefits the planet.

Grass-Fed Trumps Organic Beef

There’s one final note I’d like to make regarding grass-fed beef.

Oftentimes certified organic beef is misunderstood to be grass-fed; it’s not necessarily so.  Beef products that are considered to be “organic” come from animals being fed organic grains, especially corn, which still results in most of the negative health problems that I have highlighted earlier.

Don’t be fooled!

Be sure to specifically seek out beef that is classified as grass-fed. Even if it is not labeled organic, most grass-fed cattle are fed on grasslands with limited pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals, and will never see the inside of a feedlot.

You Can Taste the Difference

There is no question that the flavor, look, smell, and texture of grass fed beef differs from grain-fed beef.  I have been eating it since 2001, and personally enjoy the taste and all the health-giving benefits grass-fed beef delivers.

That said, the flavor, cooking method, and even the appearance will require a bit of an adjustment.  Many of my patients from Europe – where grass-fed products are more prevalent – had a difficult time getting used to grain-fed beef products in the U.S.  Once you make the shift, it is just a matter of time until you find the taste not only palatable but rather enjoyable.

Based on the research between grass-fed and grain-fed beef, the benefits of CLA in your diet, you owe it to yourself and to your family to make this switch.

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The Wrong Calcium Supplements may increase Breast Cancer and Heart Attacks

By Dr. Mercola

Calcium is one of the most popular dietary supplements on the market, largely because of the widely circulated mantra that mega-doses of this mineral are essential for building and maintaining healthy bones.

As a result, many people believe that taking a calcium supplement is a simple way to prevent bone fractures associated with osteoporosis.

What they have not been told is that while you can force increased bone mineral density with calcium supplements, you cannot be sure that this will result in greater bone strength.

Be Careful In Interpreting Bone Tests Results

Bone density, while an excellent measurement of compressive strength, does not reveal tensile strength, i.e. whether or not your bone will resist breaking from being pulled or stretched, as commonly occurs in a fall or similar trauma.

Moreover, “osteoporosis,” as presently defined by bone scans (DXA scan) using the T-score, inappropriately defines “normal bone density” according to the standard of a 25-year old, young adult.

In other words, if you are 40, 50, or even 100, the T-score-based system says your bones are not normal, or even diseased if they are not as dense as they were when you were a young adult.

If in fact they used the age-appropriate Z-score, most cases of “osteopenia,” and many cases of “osteoporosis,” would suddenly disappear because they were inappropriately classified from the start.

Do Calcium Supplements Predispose You to Breast Cancer?

Ultimately, the “calcium is good for your bones” mantra is yet another example of a good theory gone wrong, and represents how broadly deluded the mainstream medical community is about bone health and the nature of osteoporosis, and its highly fabricated twin condition “osteopenia.”

There are actually a number of studies indicating that mass market calcium supplements increase your risk for cardiovascular incidents and other problems, while offering little benefit to your bones. Only because something can increase your bone density: eating what amounts to chalk or pulverized bone meal, or worse, chemicals like the drugs Fosamax and Evista, does not mean this will translate into improved health for your bones, or any of your other organ systems.

Indeed, before jumping off the lemming-like cliff of conventional medical wisdom, consider there is a solid body of research indicating that higher bone density may actually increase the risk of malignant breast cancer by 300% or more! Considering that close to 1 in 4 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lives, with breast cancer top on the list, isn’t the neurotic fixation on increasing bone density with calcium supplements misplaced, especially when it may increase the overall risk of dying from cancer and, as we will see, cardiovascular disease (the #1 killer), as well?

Taking Calcium Might Increase Your Heart Attack Risk

Heart attacks may be caused by supplemental calcium from elemental sources, which include limestone, oyster shell, and bone meal, according to two meta-analyses of available research (a meta-analysis is a review and summary of the results of many clinical studies on the same subject).

The first, conducted in 2010 and involving over 8,000 people, showed that taking this kind of inorganic calcium supplement in amounts of 500 mg or more would increase your relative risk of heart attack by 27 percent.

Critics of the study pointed out that it only looked at calcium supplementation without vitamin D administered at the same time (vitamin D helps you absorb and utilize calcium). However, the second analysis showed that even when co-administered with vitamin D, elemental calcium still increased heart attack risk by 24 percent, with researchers concluding:

“Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D modestly increase the risk of cardiovascular events, especially myocardial infarction … A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in osteoporosis management is warranted.”

In fact, the second analysis was even more disturbing, as it found the calcium supplementation (in addition to vitamin D) increased the composite risk of heart attack and stroke by15%!

Calcium Can be Beneficial or Deadly Depending on Where it Ends Up in Your Body

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, necessary for not only bone health but also regulating your heartbeat, conducting nerve impulses, clotting blood and stimulating hormone secretions. Your body does not make calcium, and in fact loses calcium daily through your skin, nails, hair, sweat and elimination, which is why you must replace it via your diet.

It has been estimated, however, that your body excretes as little as 100 mg a day, making the current recommendations by the National Osteoporosis Foundation for women over 50 to take 1200 mg a day, a bit troubling. When we compare our calcium-rich diet to the traditional calcium-poor Chinese peasant diet, which was free of cow’s milk and calcium supplements, approximately 250 mg a day of plant-based calcium was all that was needed to fulfill their bodily needs – and this is a culture with no word for “osteoporosis” in its 3,000+ year old language!

Due to the fact that about 99 percent of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones and teeth, if you don’t get enough calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones to perform necessary functions. This is where the idea that supplementing with calcium could prevent calcium loss from your bones comes from — but it is an overly simplified theory that lacks solid evidence to back it up, especially in Western, modernized cultures which consume unprecedentedly large amounts of dairy-derived, fortification-based and supplemental calcium.

For instance, one 2010 article presented evidence for a total lack of support in the research for calcium supplements reducing fracture risk!

Moreover, in the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, a review tracking 78,000 nurses for 12 years found that the relative risk of hip fracture was 45% higher in those women who drank two or more glasses of milk per day versus those who drank one glass or less. Indeed, in countries where both dairy consumption and overall calcium levels in the diet are the lowest, bone fracture rates are also the lowest; conversely, in cultures like the United States where calcium consumption is among the highest in the world, so too are the fracture rates among the highest (see: The China Study).

The truth is that taking any calcium in excess or isolation, without complementary nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K2, which help keep your body in balance, can have adverse effects, such as calcium building up in coronary arteries and causing heart attacks. Even taking calcium with vitamin D does not appear to be enough to prevent these types of adverse effects.

So when you take a biologically foreign form of calcium (such as limestone, oyster shell, egg shell and bone meal (hydroxylapatite), or when your body’s ability to direct calcium to the right places becomes impaired (as when you are deficient in vitamin K2), calcium may be deposited where it shouldn’t be, which can lead to multiple health problems.

Often, much of the burden of removing the excess calcium falls on the kidneys, which is why it has been proven on numerous occasions that calcium carbonate rapidly calcifies arteries in those with compromised kidney function, especially hemodialysis patients. Calcium deposits are, in fact, major contributors and even causative factors in many conditions, including the following:

Cellulite and scar tissue Coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis Dental plaque and gum disease Hypothyroidism
Obesity and diabetes Alzheimer’s disease Breast cancer and cysts (fibrocystic breasts) Gallstones, colon cancer and Crohn’s disease
Kidney stones Ovarian cysts Cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration Bone spurs, stiff joints, osteoarthritis, tendonitis and bone cancer

Too Much Calcium May Create Mineral Deficiencies that Promote Disease

Robert Thompson, M.D. wrote a book on this subject called The Calcium Lie, which explains that bone is comprised of at least a dozen minerals, and the exclusive focus on calcium supplementation is likely to worsen bone density and actually increase your risk for osteoporosis. Dr. Thompson believes overconsumption of calcium creates other mineral deficiencies and imbalances that will increase your risk of heart disease, kidney stones, gallstones, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

If your calcium supplement is being turned into “little rocks” that are being deposited in your soft tissues and arteries, you can begin to understand how this could be increasing your risk for a heart attack, stroke or other health condition.

Many believe that arterial plaque is simply a buildup of cholesterol. But in reality, more than 90 percent of these fatty plaques are calcified. Cholesterol is soft and waxy and does not impair the elasticity of your arteries. But calcium deposits are like concrete, “hardening” your arteries and impairing their ability to expand. It is calcium — not cholesterol — that induces arterial stiffness and makes the plaque less stable and more prone to chipping off and subsequently inducing a life-threatening clot.

This is particularly important for postmenopausal women because hormone balance is necessary for proper calcium signaling — directing your body to deposit calcium into your bones. When hormones fall out of balance, this signaling causes calcium to slowly exit your bones and become deposited in your arteries instead. Simply taking a calcium supplement will not solve the problem because if your body cannot direct the calcium to the right spot, it will cause far more harm than good.

Why Vitamin K2 is Crucial if You Take Vitamin D and Calcium …

Vitamin K2 engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. As mentioned, a large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”

Vitamin K2 has also actually been found to decalcify certain tissues undergoing pathological (also known as ectopic) calcification.

Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries. In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you — by building up your coronary arteries rather than your bones. This is why if you take calcium and vitamin D but are deficient in vitamin K, you could be worse off than if you were not taking those supplements at all.

Food is the Best Source of Calcium

In order for calcium to do your body good, it must be in a bioavailable form and balanced out with vitamins D and K and other important trace minerals, as part of a total nutritional plan.

It’s more likely your body can use calcium correctly if it’s food-based calcium. Good sources include raw milk and cheese from pasture-raised cows (who eat the plants), leafy green vegetables, the pith of citrus fruits, carob, sesame seeds and wheatgrass, to name a few. It’s worth mentioning that the studies done about calcium from dairy products are all done with pasteurized dairy, rather than raw dairy products that have more of their nutrients intact, and this muddies the results of these studies.

Calcium from dietary sources is typically better absorbed and utilized than calcium from supplements, which is why studies involving calcium from natural food sources have shown favorable results, including a 25 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

You also need sources of silica and magnesium, which some researchers say is actually enzymatically “transmuted” by your body into the kind of calcium your bones can use. This theory was first put forth by French scientist Louis Kevran, a Nobel Prize nominee who spent years studying how silica, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals are related and transmutable into one another through low-energy nuclear transformation only found within living systems.

His theory explains how cows and chickens produce far more calcium in their milk and eggs than is found in their diet, or why, workers exposed to extremely high temperatures (130 degrees F) in the Middle East are known to consume salt tablets, which their bodies convert to potassium (as measured by their excreta), resulting in a reduction in their bodily temperature.

Good sources of bone-strengthening silica are cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and a number of herbs including horsetail, nettles, oat straw, alfalfa, and raw cacao, which is also extremely rich in highly bioavailable magnesium.

Dr. Thompson recommends the use of natural unprocessed salt as a far better alternative to calcium supplements because it provides the trace minerals you simply cannot get from food grown in today’s mineral-depleted soils. My favorite source of trace minerals is pure, unprocessed Himalayan salt, which contains 84 elements needed by your body.

The bottom line is, optimize your vitamin D levels through sun exposure and consume a variety of fresh, local organic whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, organic meats and eggs, unprocessed salt, and raw organic unpasteurized dairy, which will give you the bioavailable calcium your body needs along with the trace minerals and other cofactors it needs to be absorbed and properly utilized by your body.

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You ARE what you Eat!

By Dr. Mercola

“You are what you eat” is one of the most profound and instructive sayings ever to be passed down to us through the ages, and thanks to an explosion of exciting new research into the way that food directly affects your genes, it can no longer be written off as merely a metaphorical expression.

In fact, food provides far more than just the material “building blocks” and “fuel” for the ‘body-machine; it is also a source of genetic information, which is capable of informing the cells and processes within your body, for better or for worse.

What is quite amazing is the difference in biological response when comparing the right and wrong types of foods.

In fact, new research has revealed that eating the wrong plants can actually directly alter your genetic expression, which can lead to a myriad of diseases.

Micro-RNA Molecules from Your Food May Control Up to 30 Percent of Your Genes

Groundbreaking new research shows that microscopic RNA in the plants you consume enters your body and is actually capable of affecting the expression of up to 30% of your genes!

Never before could it have been imagined that your “genes” could be so profoundly affected by things you eat.

There is also the field of lectinology, which has opened our eyes to how plants – particularly grains and legumes – have a set of defenses, not unlike “invisible thorns,” which can cause direct, non-immune mediated harm to a wide range of tissues and organs within your body.

Medical science is beginning to awaken to how profoundly food is intertwined with health and disease, and how nutrients affect genes, and how our genes respond to nutrients. This, in fact, is the field of study known as Nutrigenomics – something, I believe, you will be hearing far more about as the science begins to gain wider appreciation. It is a burgeoning new field, in fact launched soon after the completion of a working draft of the Human Genome project (2003), which failed to provide the long sought after “holy grail” of modern biology.

In a nutshell, the project failed to identify one gene for every one protein in the human body, forcing researchers to look to epigenetic factors — namely, “factors beyond the control of the gene” – to explain how the body is formed, and how it works. What is the most important factor beyond the control of the gene? Diet.

Eating the Wrong Plants Can Mess With Your DNA Expression

Chances are you’ve never heard of micro RNA (miRNA) … but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been impacting your health … RNA is one of three major macromolecules, like DNA. Micro RNA are basically small pieces of RNA that interact with your genes, essentially stopping certain genes from being expressed.

MiRNA exists in human body fluid naturally; for instance, researchers have detected high expression levels of immune-related miRNAs in breast milk, particularly during the first 6 months of lactation. It’s thought that this genetic material is transferred from mother to baby to help modulate the development of the infant’s immune system. Cow’s milk also contains miRNA, which is currently being explored as a possible new standard for the quality control of raw milk.

However, micro RNA also exists in plants, and for the first time research has shown that eating the wrong plants may transfer this plant miRNA to humans — with potentially devastating implications.

The study, published in the September 2011 edition of the journal Cell Research, determined that microRNA from cooked plant foods like rice, wheat and potatoes can in fact collect in your blood and tissue, leading to a number of potential health problems.

The study further revealed that microRNA remains completely stable after not only cooking, but through the digestion process as well. Most importantly, the researchers found a significant quantity of microRNA in the human body, concluding that:

” … plant miRNAs are primarily acquired orally, through food intake.”

So whenever you eat rice and certain other plant foods, including potatoes and wheat, you are ingesting genetic material that may turn certain genes “off.” To date, microRNA has been implicated in a number of diseases ranging from cancer and diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease. But what exactly is microRNA, and why is it so important?

“Gene Regulators” in Your Rice, Wheat and Potatoes

MicroRNA has been widely shown to alter many critical biological processes, including apoptosis – the process of programmed cell death and DNA fragmentation. As a result, the dysregulation of microRNAs has been linked to cancer and various other diseases. However microRNA are also responsible for regulating your genes on a very large scale. As mentioned, it has been estimated that miRNAs account for less than 1% of genes in mammals, but that up to 30% of genes are regulated by them.

Amazingly, microRNAs are known to regulate the flow of genetic information by controlling the translation or stability of something known as messenger RNAs, which is a molecule of RNA that carries valuable genetic coding information within your body.

What’s more, this plant miRNA has been shown to interfere with human microRNA by mimicking it and binding to the receptors. In the study, researchers examined the two highest levels of these microRNAs in human participants, and found that it is shockingly prevalent among many dietary plant staples.

As results of the study show, three microRNAs were detected in rice and other foods including Chinese cabbage, wheat, and potato. Of course these are all highly common food staples for many families not only in the United States, but around the world. This means that you may be unknowingly consuming plant microRNAs that could be increasing your risk of cancer and other disease. Even more concerning is the fact that the study authors observed this effect in both healthy men and women, reporting:

“Upon investigation of the global miRNA expression profile in human serum, we found that exogenous plant miRNAs were consistently present in the serum of healthy… men and women.”

What you eat, therefore, is who you are in the most literal sense possible.

This fact, while often overlooked, is fundamental in understanding how to optimize your health. If you eat the right foods, you thrive; eat the wrong foods, and you suffer. The problem is the field of nutrition is infused with the same intensity of impassioned debate and confusion as religion and politics – and rarely, only rarely do you get a clear picture of what is good for you, as an individual.

It can take a lifetime to figure out how to perfect a diet, particularly one suitable for you as an individual. The good news is that modern research is beginning to make headway in figuring out what is good for virtually all humans, at least in most cases. Certain foods appear to be problematic for many … and most grains continue to be at the top of this list.

Lectins: “Invisible Thorns” of the Plant Kingdom

MicroRNAs are only one component of plant foods that stretch beyond the scope of vitamins and minerals … Did you know, for instance, that many of the plants we consume for food, particularly grains and legumes, contain chemical and physical defenses that protect against being eaten?

These include anti-nutrients that interfere with the digestion of starches (anti-amylase), proteins (protease inhibitors), minerals (phytate), and many other similar molecules. Sprouting, fermentation, cooking and processing can sometimes reduce and/or eliminate these substances, but not in all cases.

There is one category, of particular interest, known as lectins. Lectins get their name from the Latin word legere, from which the word “Select” derives – and that is exactly what they do: they select (attach to) a very specific number of biological structures.

Lectins are capable of disrupting the health of the creatures that consume them, often piercing through the protective coating of their digestive tracts, and gaining entry into systemic circulation.

Wheat, for instance, contains an exceptionally small lectin known as wheat germ agglutinin or WGA, which is capable of attaching to the surface proteins of nearly all of its natural predators, from bacterial to fungi, worms to insects, mice to men.

Because all of the these creatures are composed, in part, of the biopolymer n-acetyl-glucosamine, and because WGA is designed to attach – exactly and exclusively – to this glycoprotein (part sugar, part protein), it is Nature’s ingenious way of saying: “Hey, back off!” – at least when it comes to eating excessive amounts of the seed storage form of the mature grass plant, e.g. cereal grains.

In an article published on GreenMedInfo.com, Sayer Ji describes lectins as “invisible thorns,” explaining:

“Nature engineers, within all species, a set of defenses against predation, though not all are as obvious as the thorns on a rose or the horns on a rhinoceros. Plants do not have the cell-mediated immunity of higher life forms, like ants, nor do they have the antibody driven, secondary immune systems of vertebrates with jaws. They must rely on a much simpler, innate immunity.

It is for this reason that seeds of the grass family, e.g. rice, wheat, spelt, rye, have exceptionally high levels of defensive glycoproteins known as lectins. These ‘invisible thorns’ are an ingenius means of survival.”

Lectins were first discovered in castor bean casings, which contain the lectin ricin. Ricin is so toxic that only a dose the size of a few grains of salt can kill an adult if injected or inhaled. In fact, the US military investigated it for potential military use in the First World War. Like micro RNA, lectins are capable of directly affecting gene expression within cells.

The Very Real Danger of Genetically Engineered Foods

Given the fact that research now shows microRNA are appearing in humans who eat rice, it brings up many questions about the way the food we eat interacts with our physiology. While the Cell Research study had nothing specifically to do with genetically modified foods, the implications have everything to do with them.

MicroRNA appears to have dangerous implications for human health, so it stands to reason that genetic modification, which by definition involves organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered, may too. Further, it brings up a whole new way by which GM foods might harm human health, considering researchers have been using genes very similar to micro RNA to “turn off” certain plant genes.

As reported in The Atlantic:

“Researchers have been using this phenomena to their advantage in the form of small, engineered RNA strands that are virtually identical to miRNA. In a technique called RNA interference, or RNA knockdown, these small bits of RNA are used to turn off, or “knock down,” certain genes.

RNA knockdown was first used commercially in 1994 to create the Flavor Savr, a tomato with increased shelf life. In 2007, several research teams began reporting success at engineering plant RNA to kill insect predators, by knocking down certain genes. As reported in MIT’s Technology Review on November 5, 2007, researchers in China used RNA knockdown to make:

‘ …cotton plants that silence a gene that allows cotton bollworms to process the toxin gossypol, which occurs naturally in cotton. Bollworms that eat the genetically engineered cotton can’t make their toxin-processing proteins, and they die.’

And:

‘Researchers at Monsanto and Devgen, a Belgian company, made corn plants that silence a gene essential for energy production in corn rootworms; ingestion wipes out the worms within 12 days.’

Humans and insects have a lot in common, genetically. If miRNA can in fact survive the gut then it’s entirely possible that miRNA intended to influence insect gene regulation could also affect humans.”

The research on micro RNA also has implications on the very doctrine by which biotech companies make claim to GM food safety: substantial equivalence (the idea that there is no difference between GM and non-GM crops). There is obviously much left to be discovered about how DNA and RNA interacts with human beings … and it is becoming increasingly clear that plants with altered DNA cannot be “substantially equivalent” to their natural counterparts. The Atlantic continues:

” … if companies like Monsanto want to use processes like RNA interference to make plants that can kill insects via genetic pathways that might resemble our own, some kind of testing has to happen. A good place to start would be the testing of introduced DNA for other effects — miRNA-mediated or otherwise — beyond the specific proteins they code for. But the status quo, according to Monsanto’s website, is:

‘There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods. DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard.’

Given what we know, that stance is arrogant. Time will tell if it’s reckless. There are computational methods of investigating whether unintended RNAs are likely to be knocking down any human genes. But thanks to this position, the best we can do is hope they’re using them. Given it’s opposition to the labeling of GM foods as well, it seems clear that Monsanto wants you to close your eyes, open your mouth, and swallow.”

How Can You Eat to Optimize Your Genetic Expression?

Given the knowledge that the food you consume ultimately becomes the life source of your entire body, it is important that you eat well not only to utilize vital nutrients but also to optimize your genetic expression.

This is cutting-edge information, but it is becoming very clear that there is far more to “food” than vitamins and minerals. Research has only scratched the surface into micro RNAs and their impacts on human health, but the preliminary research suggests they may provide one more method by which grains may harm your health.

For most, it appears healthy eating entails limiting carbohydrates from grains and potatoes, and instead focusing on carbs from vegetable sources. This is in line with the “Paleo” way of eating, which involves focusing on foods that are in line with your genetic ancestry, such as vegetables, nuts and grass-fed meats, while limiting sugars and grains. Cereals, potatoes and bread were non-existent prior to the dawn of agriculture, and there’s reason to believe these foods are discordant with our ancient genome. . We need to relearn what foods are ideal for our bodies not just to live on, but to thrive on.

After all 10,000 years ago, around the time of the birth of the agrarian lifestyle, is a nanosecond in biological time, even while appearing ancient from the perspective of cultural time

You can find more information about how to eat to support positive genetic expression in my nutrition plan. Also keep in mind that your diet is but one way to influence your genetic expression. Your emotions, pharmaceutical drugs, exposure to pollutants, and even exposure to sunlight (vitamin D) and supplements like curcumin play a role in how your genes are expressed.

 

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Theobromine – a fat loss supplement

Used for over a hundred years as a diuretic, stimulant and vasodilator.
Theobromine is an extract of cocoa and many other plant species, most concentrated in the cocoa bean, and has a bitter taste. It is the main ingredient in chocolate, and is a white powder in supplemental form.
Also known as Riddospas, Riddovydrin, Santheose, Seominal, Theobrominum, Theoguardenal, and Theominal. 
Has a revivifying effect, and sometimes described as a mild aphrodisiac.
For maximum benefit it must be taken as a supplement, in a more pure form 
than is found in chocolate.
Body builders take it to reduce levels of water in the body to lose weight before competitions.
Most people benefit by taking the supplement, as it increases energy and mental status without the drawbacks of eating chocolate.Theobromine has three methyl groups instead of two found in caffeine, and this slows the clearance of theobromine from the body. This is why Theobromine is a longer acting than caffeine. Although related to caffeine, Theobromine does not affect the central nervous system, instead it induces relaxation of smooth muscle tissue and blood vessels. As a vasodilator, it is prescribed by doctors in order to relieve angina symptoms, and can allow more blood to flow, reducing blood pressure. Combined with its mild stimulating effect, this offers benefits to endurance athletes, allowing them to work at a higher intensity for longer.
Theobromine is found in many over-the-counter nutritional and weigh-loss supplements.
There is no essential requirement for Theobromine, so there are no deficiencies.

Dose: 500 mg one to two times daily, but no more.
Warning: 
Theobromine is a diuretic, so can affect the kidneys.  Studies have not found kidney damage in humans when Theobromine is used correctly at the recommended dose by healthy individuals. Large doses can be toxic in humans, and even smaller doses can be toxic for dogs and cats. Always consult with your doctor if you have any medical conditions.

By Brenton Wight – LeanMachine 

 

 

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Paleo Diet – different Views

Story at-a-glance

  • Grains contain anti-nutrients and lectins that can damage your gut, and humans did not consume them until relatively recently in biological time
  • We’re often told that whole grains are healthy, but the high-fiber bran portion of grain — the part that makes it a whole grain — actually contains many of the anti-nutrients
  • There is a sizeable body of scientific evidence showing that grains, as well as legumes, contain anti-nutrients that may increase intestinal permeability and cause leaky gut and associated symptoms
  • Eliminating grains (and sugars) from your diet, while introducing traditionally fermented foods, can help prevent leaky gut as well as other chronic health conditions

 

By Dr. Mercola

Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall.

These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes,that should be confined to your digestive tract, to escape into your bloodstream — hence the term leaky gut syndrome.

Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances “leaking out” into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation.

Also, your immune system may become confused and begin to attack your own body as if it were an enemy (autoimmunity).

Most often, leaky gut syndrome is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, but even healthy people can have varying degrees of intestinal permeability leading to a wide variety of health symptoms — and this can be influenced heavily by the foods you choose to eat.

Grains Contain Anti-Nutrients

In the United States, we’re told that grains (especially whole grains) are an important part of a balanced diet, necessary for obtaining our daily requirement of healthy nutrients and fiber.

However, according to a growing number of experts, including Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and an expert on Paleolithic lifestyles, humans are NOT designed to eat grains, and doing so may actually be damaging to your gut.

Dr. Cordain explains:

“There’s no human requirement for grains. That’s the problem with the USDA recommendations. They think we’re hardwired as a species to eat grains. You can get by just fine and meet every single nutrient requirement that humans have without eating grains. And grains are absolutely poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables and meat and fish.”

Ironically, since we’re often told that whole grains are the best for our health, the high-fiber bran portion of grain – a key part that makes it a whole grain — actually contains many of the anti-nutrients.But the problem isn’t only that there are superior sources of nutrients; grains actually contain anti-nutrients that may damage your health. Dr. Cordain states:

“Grains are the seeds of a plant. They’re its reproductive material, and plants don’t make their reproductive material to give away for free to other animals. If they did they’d become extinct, and so the evolutionary strategy that many plants, particularly cereal grains have taken to prevent predation is to evolve toxic compounds so that the predator of the seeds can’t eat them, so that they can put their seeds in the soil where they’re meant to be to grow a new plant and not in the gut of an animal to feed it.”

 

Grains — Especially Whole Grains — Increase Intestinal Permeability

There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that grains, as well as legumes, contain anti-nutrients and other problem substances that may increase intestinal permeability. This includes:

Gliadin

Gliadin is the primary immunotoxic protein found in wheat gluten and is among the most damaging to your health. Gliadin gives wheat bread its doughy texture and is capable of increasing the production of the intestinal protein zonulin, which in turn opens up gaps in the normally tight junctures between intestinal cells (enterocytes).

In celiac disease the body will make antibodies to gliadin after it is digested by the intestinal enzyme tissue transglutaminase, resulting in severe autoimmune damage to the delicate, absorptive surfaces of the intestines. It does not, however, require full blown celiac disease to suffer from the adverse effects of this protein. In fact, it is likely that our intolerance to gliadin and related wheat proteins is a species-specific intolerance, applicable to all humans, with the difference being a matter of the degree to which it causes harm.

This helps to explain why new research clearly shows gliadin increases intestinal permeability in both those with, and those without, celiac disease.

Lectins

Lectins are a key mechanism through which plants protect themselves against being eaten, and are found in highest concentrations in their seed form — which makes sense, considering that seeds are the plants’ “babies” and whose survival ensures the continuation of their species.

When animals consume foods containing lectins, they may experience digestive irritation, along with a wide range of other health complaints. The degree to which the adverse effects are expressed depends largely on how long that species has had to co-evolve with that particular form of plant food it is eating. Since humans have only been consuming unsprouted grains and beans in large amounts for approximately 500 generations, we still suffer far more than certain rodents and birds, who have had thousands of generations longer to adapt to this way of eating.

We are mostly exposed to lectins from grains, beans, dairy products and nightshade plants, such as potato, tomato, and chili peppers. However, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a prominent role to play in lectin-induced adverse effects, due to the fact that it is a relatively new form of wheat, and contains wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – a particularly resilient and problematic lectin, considering it is not eliminated through sprouting and is actually found in higher concentrations in whole wheat.

Studies indicate that it has the potential to contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects, including gut inflammation and damage to your gastrointestinal tract:

Pro-inflammatory–WGA stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers (cytokines) in intestinal and immune cells, and has been shown to play a causative role in chronic thin gut inflammation. Immunotoxicity–WGA induces thymus atrophy in rats , and anti-WGA antibodies in human blood have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, indicating that they may contribute to autoimmunity . In fact, WGA appears to play a role in celiac disease (CD) that is entirely distinct from that of gluten, due to significantly higher levels of IgG and IgA antibodies against WGA found in patients with CD, when compared with patients with other intestinal disorders.
NeurotoxicityWGA can cross your blood-brain barrier through a process called “adsorptive endocytosis,” pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons. Excitotoxicity– Wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially excitotoxic. Excitotoxicity is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, and other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and migraines.
Cytotoxicity—WGA has been demonstrated to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines, capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis). Disrupts Endocrine Function—WGA may contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance by blocking the leptin receptor in your hypothalamus. It also binds to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules , and interferes with the production of secretin from your pancreas, which can lead to digestive problems and pancreatic hypertrophy.
Cardiotoxicity—WGA has a potent, disruptive effect on platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and safely removing neutrophils from your blood vessels. Adversely Affects Gastrointestinal Function by causing increased shedding of the intestinal brush border membrane, reducing the surface area, and accelerating cell loss and shortening of villi. It also causes cytoskeleton degradation in intestinal cells, contributing to cell death and increased turnover, and decreases levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells, leaving them more vulnerable to damage.

As we noted earlier, the highest amounts of WGA is found in whole wheat, including its sprouted form, which is touted as being the most healthful form of all … The traditional ways of addressing many of these anti-nutrients is, in fact, by sprouting, fermenting and cooking. However, lectins are designed to withstand degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures. WGA lectin is particularly tough because it’s actually formed by the same disulfide bonds that give strength and resilience to vulcanized rubber and human hair.

New Report Warns of the Sugar in Cereals Marketed to Kids

One of the most common ways we consume grains is in the form of cereal, many of which are marketed to kids and adults alike as “health foods.” But cereal is anything but healthy, not only because of the grain it contains but also because many (particularly those for kids) contain excessive amounts of sugar.

A new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that many popular children’s cereal brands contain more sugar than snack cakes and cookies. For instance, one cup of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, which is nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, has more sugar than a Twinkie, while a one-cup serving of 44 other children’s cereals analyzed contain more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

If you need a recap of why sugar is a health disaster, you can find one here. However, as it pertains to leaky gut, you should know that sugar, like grains, can upset the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract, encouraging damage to your intestinal lining that can lead to leaky gut. So, sugary children’s cereals are a double-edged sword, assaulting your fragile gastrointestinal tract with both damaging sugar and grains. Please do your kids a great favor and offer them a healthier breakfast instead.

Are Grains Causing Your Leaky Gut Symptoms? This Food is the “Antidote”

As you might suspect, leaky gut can cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas and abdominal cramps, but it can also cause or contribute to many others you may not, such as fatigue, skin rashes, joint pain, allergies, psychological symptoms, autism and more.

It’s a vicious cycle because once your digestive tract has been damaged, it allows various gut contents to flood into your bloodstream where they wreak havoc on your health. The key to preventing this lies in altering your diet to eliminate the offending foods — including sugars and grains — as well as introduce healthier ones that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut. To restore gut health, and prevent leaky gut from occurring, eating traditionally fermented foods is essential.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains:

“Fermented foods are essential to introduce, as they provide probiotic microbes in the best possible form … fermented foods will carry probiotic microbes all away down to the end of the digestive system. Fermentation predigests the food, making it easy for our digestive systems to handle, that is why fermented foods are easily digested by people with damaged gut. Fermentation releases nutrients from the food, making them more bio-available for the body: for example sauerkraut contains 20 times more bio-available vitamin C than fresh cabbage.”

On Dr. Campbell-McBride’s web site you can find recipes for many traditionally fermented foods, including sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kvass and more.

If you regularly eat fermented foods such as these that have not been pasteurized (pasteurization kills the naturally occurring probiotics), your healthy gut bacteria will thrive. If these foods do not make a regular appearance in your diet, or you’ve recently taken antibiotics, a high-quality probiotic supplement will help give your gut bacteria the healthy boost it needs. Once your gut flora is optimized, your leaky gut should improve naturally. As Dr. Cordain explains:

” … when we have a healthy flora of bacteria in our gut, it tends to prevent leaky gut.”

Is a Return to the Paleo Diet Right for You?

During the Paleolithic period, many thousands of years ago, people ate primarily vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat—and a wide variety of it. Today, these staples have been largely replaced with refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cereal, bread, potatoes and pasteurized milk products… and a much narrower selection of fruits, vegetables, roots and nuts.

This is precisely the recipe for a leaky gut, and all of its associated health problems, which is why simply returning to a Paelo diet by eating foods that are concordant with your genetic ancestry may help you become healthier. This includes focusing on whole, unprocessed foods including vegetables (except corn and potatoes) and free-range organic meats, while avoiding sugars and grains.

As Dr. Cordain states:

“The nutritional qualities of modern processed foods and foods introduced during the Neolithic period are discordant with our ancient and conservative genome. This genetic discordance ultimately manifests itself as various chronic illnesses, which have been dubbed “diseases of civilization.” By severely reducing or eliminating these foods and replacing them with a more healthful cuisine, possessing nutrient qualities more in line with the foods our ancestors consumed, it is possible to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.”

 

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Toxic Orange Juice?

By Dr. Mercola

Inorganic arsenic, the form most likely to cause cancer, occurs naturally in the earth and is released into ground water that travels through rocks and soil. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits the amount of trace arsenic allowable in drinking water to 10 parts per billion (ppb).

However, arsenic has also been found in other drinks and foods, for which no safety limit has been set, raising concerns about overexposure through the diet.

Juices and Foods Tainted with Arsenic

This past summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a “voluntary suspension” of the arsenic-laced drug Roxarsone, which has been widely used on chickens raised in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) to control an intestinal parasite.

More recently, an investigation into arsenic and lead levels in apple- and grape juice prompted Consumer Reports to call for government standards to limit consumer exposure.

Ten percent of the 88 juice samples tested by Consumer Reports had arsenic levels exceeding the U.S. federal drinking-water standard. A quarter of them also had lead levels higher than the 5 ppb limit set for bottled water.

According to Consumer Reports:

The investigation included an analysis of the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database from 2003 to 2008.

The results of that analysis suggest that these juices may be an important contributor to dietary arsenic exposure.

Through interviews with physicians and authors of peer-reviewed studies, Consumer Reports also found mounting scientific evidence suggesting that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below federal standards for water can result in serious health problems, especially for those who are exposed in the womb or during early childhood. FDA data and other research reveal that arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods as well.

… In addition to juice, foods including chicken, rice, and even baby food have been found to contain arsenic — sometimes at higher levels than the amounts found in juice …”

In September, Dr. Oz also discussed this issue on The Dr. Oz Show. He claimed to have tested 50 different brands of apple juice, and found they ALL contained high levels of arsenic. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contested Dr. Oz’s findings, stating that his testing was inaccurate because he tested for both inorganic and organic arsenic, the latter of which is considered fairly harmless.

(As a side note, I was recently invited as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show for the third time. During that episode, we covered such issues as vitamin D, CoQ10, blood pressure medications, statins and antidepressants. For more information about that episode, please see this article that delves into those topics in greater detail than I was able to on the show.)

Are Arsenic Levels in Juice a Safety Hazard?

There are currently no official limits set for arsenic in juices, but according to a 2008 FDA hazard assessment, 23 ppb of inorganic arsenic would represent “a potential health risk.” However, the Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports) has warned that this level should NOT be used as a reference point for establishing a safety limit, because it does not take into account the now well-established carcinogenicity of inorganic arsenic.

The group has proposed the FDA set the limit for arsenic at three ppb—a far cry from the FDA’s stated “level of concern.”

The FDA has responded to the Consumers Union, indicating that the agency is considering creating a guidance for the permissible level of arsenic in apple juice. In a November 21 letter to the Empire State Consumer Project, the agency states it will collect and analyze up to 90 retail juice samples from across the US by the end of this year. However, the FDA already has data on arsenic in fruit juices. They’ve been sampling juices for several years, as part of the Total Diet Study (TDS). The results can be found on the FDA’s website.

In their letter, the FDA states “FDA monitoring has found that total arsenic levels in apple juice are typically low.” But is it low enough to protect public health?

Their sampling has already revealed that in some instances, the arsenic levels can be quite high. Consumer Reports points out that while the FDA had posted the results of 70 samples over a six-year period, an additional eight samples were not released until late November. All eight samples, which were collected in 2008 and 2009, contained arsenic levels of 23 ppb or higher.

The FDA’s Total Diet Study program also reveals that between 1991 to 2009, a quarter of the juice samples tested contained 10 ppb of arsenic or higher. Five percent contained 23 ppb or more of arsenic… So while the FDA may be technically correct in its statement that arsenic levels are typically low, their own data still shows that 25 percent of samples test above the EPA’s safe water limit, and that’s not necessarily negligible. Especially when you consider the increased risks of skin-, lung- and bladder cancer associated with repeated exposure to arsenic.

Juice Drinkers have Higher Arsenic Levels than Non-Juice Drinkers

According to Consumer Reports:

“We wanted to know whether people who drink juice end up being exposed to more arsenic than those who don’t. So we commissioned an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted annually by the National Center for Health Statistics… Our analysis was led by Richard Stahlhut, M.D., M.P.H., an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester with expertise in NHANES data…

Stahlhut reviewed NHANES data from 2003 through 2008 from participants tested for total urinary arsenic who reported their food and drink consumption for 24 hours the day before their NHANES visit.

Because most ingested arsenic is excreted in urine, the best measure of recent exposure is a urine test… The resulting analysis of almost 3,000 study participants found that those reporting apple-juice consumption had on average 19 percent greater levels of total urinary arsenic than those subjects who did not, and those who reported drinking grape juice had 20 percent higher levels.

The results might understate the correlation between juice consumption and urinary arsenic levels because NHANES urinary data exclude children younger than 6, who tend to be big juice drinkers. “The current analysis suggests that these juices may be an important contributor to dietary arsenic exposure,” says Keeve Nachman, Ph.D., a risk scientist at the Center for a Livable Future and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, both at Johns Hopkins University. “It would be prudent to pursue measures to understand and limit young children’s exposures to arsenic in juice.”

The Health Dangers of Arsenic

Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of chronic arsenic exposure can easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed as something else. For example, early symptoms include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Skin discoloration or lesions, including hyperkeratosis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic long-term exposure also increases your risk of:

  • Various cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes (A 2008 study linked low-level arsenic exposure to higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the US)
  • Reproductive problems

As recommended by Consumer Reports, if you’re concerned, or suspect your health problems may be related to arsenic poisoning, ask your doctor to test you to determine your arsenic levels. Just make sure you do not consume any kind of seafood for up to 72 hours prior to the urine test, as fish is high in naturally-occurring arsenic that can throw off your results.

Arsenic exposure in utero and during early childhood is particularly problematic, as it can cause lasting harm to children’s developing brains, and endocrine- and immune systems. For example:

  • A 2006 study found that Chileans exposed to high levels (peaking at 1,000 ppb) of naturally-occurring arsenic in drinking water in utero and during early childhood had a six times higher lung cancer death rate compared to Chileans living in areas with lower levels of arsenic in their water. And their mortality rate in their 30s and 40s from another form of lung disease was almost 50 times higher than for people without that arsenic exposure.
  • A 2004 study showed children exposed to arsenic in drinking water at levels above 5 ppb had lower IQ scores. Earlier studies have linked chronic arsenic exposure to a range of cognitive dysfunctions, including learning disabilities, memory problems, poor concentration, and peripheral and central neuropathies.
  • A study published in 2011 examined the long-term effects of low-level exposure on more than 300 rural Texans whose groundwater was estimated to have arsenic at median levels below the federal drinking-water standard. It also found that exposure was related to poor scores in language, memory, and other brain functions.

Sources of Arsenic

Naturally-occurring arsenic in groundwater is one of the most common sources of exposure, and those with private wells may face greater risks than those on public systems. If you have a well, you would be well advised to have your water tested and treated accordingly. For example, in Maine, where almost 50 percent of the population relies on private wells, the US Geological Survey has occasionally found arsenic levels in well water as high as 3,100 ppb! Disturbingly, tests have also found very high levels of inorganic arsenic in a variety of baby foods.

For example, according to Consumer Reports:

  • Last year, Brian Jackson, Ph.D., an analytical chemist and research associate professor at Dartmouth College reported finding up to 23 ppb of arsenic in lab tests of name-brand jars of baby food. Inorganic arsenic represented 70 to 90 percent of those total amounts.
  • A 2004 study conducted by FDA scientists in Cincinnati found arsenic levels as high as 24 ppb in baby food, with sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and peaches containing only the inorganic form.
  • A 2008 UK study found levels of inorganic arsenic in 20-ounce packets of infant rice cereals ranged from 60 to 160 ppb.

The reason why rice frequently contains high levels of inorganic arsenic is twofold. First, rice is very efficient at absorbing arsenic from the soil, and second, in the US, rice is frequently grown on land previously used to grow cotton, on which arsenic-based pesticides were heavily used. According to research by Andrew Meharg, professor of biogeochemistry at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, American-grown rice has among the highest average inorganic arsenic levels in the world. US rice contains nearly three times more arsenic than Basmati rice imported from Nepal, India, and Pakistan. Egyptian rice has the lowest inorganic arsenic levels of all.

Water Filtration—A Must for Clean Pure Water…

If you have well water, it would be prudent to have your water tested for arsenic and other contaminants. If you have public water, you can get local drinking water information from the EPA.

One of the most comprehensive test kits I’ve found is from National Testing Laboratories. We have these test kits available at cost, a significant discount from the standard online price. If you’re interested, you can purchase a test kit for Well Water or for City Water. Alternatively, you can also locate a certified lab by contacting your local health department or call the federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

In general, most water supplies contain a number of potentially hazardous contaminants, from fluoride, to drugs and disinfection byproducts (DBP’s), just to name a few. You can get a good idea of what types of contaminants could be in your drinking water right now by viewing this awesome graphic from GOOD Environment (reprinted with permission.) It gives you a look at the five most and least polluted water systems in America (in cities with more than 100,000 population), including pointing out the pollutants of largest concern.

Dirty Water Infographic

I strongly recommend using a high quality water filtration system unless you can verify the purity of your water. To be absolutely certain you are getting the purest water you can, you’ll want to filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink. I currently use a whole house carbon-based water filtration system, and prior to this I used reverse osmosis (RO) to purify my water.

You can read more about water filtration here to help you make a decision about what type of water filtration system will be best for you and your family. Since most water sources are now severely polluted, the issue of water filtration and purification couldn’t be more important.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Arsenic

Aside from your water supply, foods and beverages are also common sources of arsenic. Here are some common-sense guidelines to limit your and your family’s exposure:

  • Limit your child’s juice consumption. This is a general guideline for optimal health anyway, as juices contain high amounts of fructose that if taken in large quantities can cause very serious health problems.
  • Buy organic, pastured chicken. Organic standards do not allow organically-raised chickens to be given conventional feed grown with synthetic pesticides.
  • Avoid processed baby food. Not only are many baby foods contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals, they also tend to be loaded with sugar and trans fats, and some may even contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Instead, make your own baby food using all-organic ingredients. Simply cooking a squash or sweet potato, mashing it up and freezing it in an ice cube tray is an easy way to have ready-made multiple servings available for the rest of the week.

Egg yolk is another healthy food that requires little preparation. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, egg yolk should be your baby’s first solid food, starting at approximately 4 months, whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from free-range hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of your child’s brain and nervous system. (However, the egg whites may cause an allergic reaction so they’re best avoided until your child is at least one year old.)

 

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Statin Drugs Destroy Nerves and CAUSE Diabetes – PROOF!

By Dr. Mercola

Spending on cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins increased by $160 million in 2010, for a total spending of nearly $19 billion in the U.S., the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reported in their Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010.

In all, more than 255 million prescriptions were dispensed for these drugs in 2010, making them the most commonly prescribed type of medication in the United States.

Unfortunately, this excessive use is an artifact of a medical system that regards prescribing pills to lower cholesterol as a valid way to protect one’s heart health — even though the low “target” cholesterol levels have not been proven to be healthy … and cholesterol is actually NOT the underlying culprit in heart disease.

Worse still, these drugs, which are clearly not necessary for the vast majority of people who take them, are proven to cause serious and significant side effects, including, as new research shows, definite nerve damage.

Are You Taking Drugs You Don’t Need … and Getting Nerve Damage as a Result?

It must be understood that any time you take a drug there is a risk of side effects. Oftentimes, these risks are not fully understood, especially when multiple drugs enter the equation, and appear only after a drug has already been taken by millions of people. Even once a drug has been FDA-approved, you are depending on a limited number of clinical trials to dictate a drug’s safety … but it’s impossible to predict how a drug will react when introduced into your system, in a real-world setting. Not to mention, the accuracy of medical research is dubious at best.

In many ways, any time you take a drug YOU are the guinea pig, and unforeseen side effects are the rule, rather than the exception.

In terms of statin drugs, side effects are already clearly apparent; at GreenMedInfo.com you can see 304 conditions that may be associated with the use of these drugs, and this is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Among one of the more well-known risks is harm to your muscles and peripheral nervous system with long-term use. Indeed, new research on 42 patients confirmed that:

” … long-term treatment with statins caused a clinically silent but still definite damage to peripheral nerves when the treatment lasts longer than 2 years.”

If You Take Statins for Two Years or More, Nerve Damage Appears to be the Rule

What does it mean when you sustain damage to peripheral nerves? As reported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):

“Symptoms are related to the type of affected nerve and may be seen over a period of days, weeks, or years. Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of motor nerve damage. Other symptoms may include painful cramps and fasciculations (uncontrolled muscle twitching visible under the skin), muscle loss, bone degeneration, and changes in the skin, hair, and nails.”

At GreenMedInfo.com you can see 88 studies on statin-induced neurotoxicity (nerve damage), with12 studies further statin drugs directly to neuropathy, including chronic peripheral neuropathy. As explained by NINDS:

“Peripheral neuropathy describes damage to the peripheral nervous system, the vast communications network that transmits information from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to every other part of the body. Peripheral nerves also send sensory information back to the brain and spinal cord, such as a message that the feet are cold or a finger is burned. Damage to the peripheral nervous system interferes with these vital connections.

Like static on a telephone line, peripheral neuropathy distorts and sometimes interrupts messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Because every peripheral nerve has a highly specialized function in a specific part of the body, a wide array of symptoms can occur when nerves are damaged.

Some people may experience temporary numbness, tingling, and pricking sensations (paresthesia), sensitivity to touch, or muscle weakness. Others may suffer more extreme symptoms, including burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction. People may become unable to digest food easily, maintain safe levels of blood pressure, sweat normally, or experience normal sexual function. In the most extreme cases, breathing may become difficult or organ failure may occur.

Some forms of neuropathy involve damage to only one nerve and are called mononeuropathies. More often though, multiple nerves affecting all limbs are affected-called polyneuropathy.”

One of the more disturbing implications of this finding is that since statins damage the peripheral nerves, it is also highly likely that they damage the central nervous system (which includes the brain), as well. One study published in the journal Pharmacology in 2009, found statin-induced cognitive impairment to be a common occurrence, with 90% reporting improvement after drug discontinuation. There are, in fact, at least 12 studies linking memory problems with statin drug use in the biomedical literature, indicating just how widespread and serious a side effect statin-induced neurological damage really is.

Lower Your Cholesterol and Increase Your Diabetes Risk by Nearly 50%

As mentioned, neurological damage is only one potential risk of statins. They are also being increasingly associated with increased risk of developing diabetes.

Most recently, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed statins increase the risk of diabetes for postmenopausal women by 48 percent! Statins appear to provoke diabetes through a few different mechanisms, the primary one being by increasing your insulin levels, which can be extremely harmful to your health. Chronically elevated insulin levels cause inflammation in your body, which is the hallmark of most chronic disease. In fact, elevated insulin levels lead to heart disease, which, ironically, prevention of is the primary reason for taking a statin drug in the first place!

As written on GreenMedInfo:

“The profound irony here is that most of the morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes is due to cardiovascular complications. High blood sugar and its oxidation (glycation) contribute to damage to the blood vessels, particularly the arteries, resulting in endothelial dysfunction and associated neuropathies due to lack of blood flow to the nerves.

Statin drugs, which are purported to reduce cardiovascular disease risk through lipid suppression, insofar as they contribute to insulin resistance, elevated blood sugar, and full-blown diabetes, are not only diabetogenic but cardiotoxic, as well.”

A separate meta-analysis has also confirmed that statin drugs are indeed associated with increased risk of developing diabetes. The researchers evaluated five different clinical trials that together examined more than 32,000 people. They found that the higher the dosage of statin drugs being taken, the greater the diabetes risk. The “number needed to harm” for intensive-dose statin therapy was 498 for new-onset diabetes — that’s the number of people who need to take the drug in order for one person to develop diabetes.

In even simpler terms, one out of every 498 people who are on a high-dose statin regimen will develop diabetes. (The lower the “number needed to harm,” the greater the risk factor is. As a side note, the “number needed to treat” per year for intensive-dose statins was 155 for cardiovascular events. This means that 155 people have to take the drug in order to prevent one person from having a cardiovascular event.)

The following scientific reviews also reached the conclusion that statin use is associated with increased incidence of new-onset diabetes:

  • A 2010 meta-analysis of 13 statin trials, consisting of 91,140 participants, found that statin therapy was associated with a 9 percent increased risk for incident diabetes. Here, the number needed to harm was 255 over four years, meaning for every 255 people on the drug, one developed diabetes as a result of the drug in that period of time.
  • In a 2009 study, statin use was associated with a rise of fasting plasma glucose in patients with and without diabetes, independently of other factors such as age, and use of aspirin or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. The study included data from more than 345,400 patients over a period of two years. On average, statins increased fasting plasma glucose in non-diabetic statin users by 7 mg/dL, and in diabetics, statins increased glucose levels by 39 mg/dL.

Side Effects Often Don’t Show Up Immediately …

Oftentimes statins do not have any immediate side effects, and they are quite effective at lowering cholesterol levels by 50 points or more. This makes it appear as though they’re benefiting your health, and health problems that develop later on are frequently misinterpreted as brand new, separate health problems.

Again, the vast majority of people do not need statin drugs, and if you are one of them, taking them is only going to expose you to serious, unnecessary risks!

If your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, please be aware that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. HDL percentage is a far more potent indicator for heart disease risk. Here are the two ratios you should pay attention to:

  1. HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart disease.
  2. Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.

To understand why most people don’t need a statin drug, you first need to realize that cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease. Your body NEEDS cholesterol — it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function. For more information about cholesterol, and why conventional advice to reduce your cholesterol to ridiculously low levels is foolhardy, please listen to this interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff.

Urgent Information: If You Take Statins You Need CoQ10

It’s extremely important to understand that taking a statin drug without also taking CoQ10 puts your health in serious jeopardy. Unfortunately, this describes the majority of people who take them in the United States.

CoQ10 is a cofactor (co-enzyme) that is essential for the creation of ATP molecules, primarily in your mitochondria, which you need for cellular energy production. Organs such as your heart have higher energy requirements, and therefore require more CoQ10 to function properly (cardiac muscle cells have up to 200 times more mitochondria, and hence 200 times higher CoQ10 requirements, than skeletal muscle). Statins deplete your body of CoQ10, which can have devastating results.

As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure. Interestingly, heart failure, not heart attacks, is now the leading cause of death due to cardiovascular diseases. Coenzyme Q10 is also very important in the process of neutralizing free radicals. So when your CoQ10 is depleted, you enter a vicious cycle of increased free radicals, loss of cellular energy, and damaged mitochondrial DNA.

If you decide to take a CoQ10 supplement and are over the age of 40, it’s important to choose the “reduced” version, called ubiquinol. The reduced form is electron-rich and therefore can donate electrons to quench free radicals, i.e. function as an antioxidant, and is much more absorbable, as nutrients must donate electrons in order to pass through membrane of cells. In other words, ubiquinol is a FAR more effective form — I personally take 200 mg a day since it has such far-ranging benefits, including compelling studies suggesting improvement in lifespan.

How to Optimize (Not Necessarily Lower) Your Cholesterol Without Drugs

Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol! By modifying your diet and lifestyle in the following ways, you can safely modify your cholesterol without risking your health by taking statin drugs:

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet, replacing them with mostly whole, fresh vegetable carbs. Also try to consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • The average American consumes 50% of their diet as carbs. Most would benefit by lowering their carb intake to 25% and replacing those carbs with high quality fats.
  • Make sure you are getting enough high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil.
  • Other heart-healthy foods include olive oil, palm and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats, as described in my nutrition plan.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.

The goal of the tips above is not to necessarily lower your cholesterol as low as it can go; the goal is to optimize your levels so they’re working in the proper balance with your body.

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The Food that Robs our Brain Power

By Dr. Mercola

Grains should represent a small part of your diet, regardless of your age. I personally seek to avoid most grains, except rice.

But if you’re going to eat some grain-based foods, how much is too much?

This debate heated up earlier this year when two nutritional experts, Dr. Paul Jaminet and Dr. Ron Rosedale, engaged in a debate over how many starches are too many.

Dr. Rosedale believes there is no such thing as a “safe starch” and that all starchy carbohydrates should be avoided, which of course includes all grains.

Dr. Jaminet, on the other hand, is a little more forgiving of some of the “safer starches,” such as potatoes and rice. He believes some people need a small amount of these in their diets.

This is an interesting debate.

It’s well thought out and well articulated, but quite lengthy.

If you have time, I do recommended your reading through all of it to see the nuances of their contrasting views.

Controversial Carbs

The amount of carbohydrates one should consume for optimal health is a widely controversial topic. Fortunately we can gain some insights as to how much we might need by examining a child’s diet, which is critically important for proper brain development. As you would expect, the quality of a child’s diet will directly affect his or her cognitive functioning. Two recent studies highlight just how important this is.

STUDY #1: In the first study, Japanese researchers analyzed the relationship between breakfast staples and intelligence in children. They divided 290 healthy children into three groups according to their breakfast staple—rice, bread, or both. What they found was that children in the rice group had significantly more gray matter in their brains and showed a higher perceptual organization index, which is a component of intelligence. This supports the theory that children’s breakfast choices affect their cognitive function.

According to the study:

“… [O]ne possible mechanism underlying the difference between the bread and the rice groups may be the difference in the glycemic index (GI) of these two substances; foods with a low GI are associated with less blood-glucose fluctuation than are those with a high GI.”

STUDY #2: A 2011 cross-sectional study in Tehran, Iran, examined the relationship between long-term refined carbohydrate intake and non-verbal intelligence among 6 to 7-year-old schoolchildren. Researchers found that refined carbohydrate consumption and non-verbal IQ were inversely related for these Tehrani children. In other words, the more refined carbs the children were eating, the lower their non-verbal IQs. So how much starch is too much starch for breakfast—or any other meal, for that matter?

My Personal Experience with an Ultra-Low Carb Diet

After trying both approaches, my experience suggests that Dr. Jaminet’s position is more clinically relevant. The challenge is that most people will not be able to lower their carb level to the below 20 percent suggested by Dr. Rosedale. This very low level is a long reach from the average American diet, which is actually around 50 percent carbohydrate—it is simply too hard. Achieving Dr. Jaminet’s far more carb-liberal recommendations will be enough of a challenge for most.

When I eliminated all my grains and starchy vegetables, I actually experienced some negative effects. My energy levels declined considerably, and my cholesterol, which is normally about 150, rose to over 200. It appears I was suffering a glucose deficiency and this can trigger lipoprotein abnormalities. It also seemed to worsen my kidney function. So, while carbohydrate restriction is a miracle move for most people, like most good things in life, you can overdo it.

This information really underscores how important glucose is as a nutrient, and some people can’t manufacture glucose from protein as well as others, so they need SOME starches in their diet or else they will suffer from metabolic stress.

About half of your proteins have glucose attached to them, and if they don’t have glucose, they simply don’t work well, if at all. Your body needs glucose both as a substrate and as a fuel in order for these proteins to work well. If you drop below 200 calories of glucose per day, you might notice some negative consequences in the way you feel and even in some of your blood work, as I did.

My experience now shows me that I need to have some source of non-vegetable carbs. I still seek to avoid nearly all grains, except for rice and potatoes. I typically limit my total carbohydrate calories to about 25 percent of total daily intake, and my protein to about 15 percent, with the additional 60 percent coming from healthful fats like butter, egg yolks, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and animal fat.

However, that is what works for me. You must listen to YOUR body and perform your own experiment. The bottom line is how your body responds, and you’re the ONLY one who can determine that.

So, if you are going to try eating some grain-based foods, which ones are the least likely to cause a problem? How damaging is wheat versus rice? Or potatoes? Before casting a vote on this, it is important to understand how grains contain different amounts and types of natural toxins that can create problems with your health.

Avoid Carbs that are Loaded with Toxins

Aside from providing excessive calories as carbohydrates, one of the major adverse consequences of most grains is that they are loaded with toxins. In fact, as you’ll learn in the interview above, the average person gets about 1.5 grams of natural food toxins daily, which makes up more than 99.9 percent of all the toxins ingested. These are toxins made by plants, as opposed to manmade toxins, which serve to protect the plant from being eaten by mammals.

The one grain type that is virtually toxin free is white rice, which has far fewer toxins than brown rice. The vast majority of toxins in white rice are destroyed by cooking, which is why white rice is the only grain Dr. Jaminet recommends. One of the grain toxins with which you may be familiar is gluten.

“Gluten” comes from the Latin word for glue, so named because its adhesive properties hold bread and other baked goods together. Gluten is present in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. The glue-like properties interfere with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including the nutrients from other foods in the same meal. The result is a sticky, constipating lump in your gut, rather than a nutritious, easily digested meal.

This undigested glutinous gut-bomb may trigger your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, causing diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and/or abdominal pain. Severe reactions are classified as “celiac disease,” and milder reactions fall under the category of “gluten intolerance.” Over time, your small intestine can become increasingly damaged and less able to absorb nutrients, such as iron and calcium. This in turn can lead to anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems.

Modern wheat (and other grains) differs greatly from the wheat our ancestors ate. The proportion of gluten protein in wheat has increased enormously as a result of hybridization. Legumes are also loaded with lectins, which is why most who follow a Paleo type diet avoid them.

Lectins: The Plant Kingdom’s Weapon of Mass Destruction

Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that are widespread in the plant kingdom. Plants produce lectins to ward off their natural enemies, such as fungi and insects. However, lectins are not just the nemesis of fungi and insects, but are also plaguing humans. Please refer to the excellent video above by Chris Meletis, ND, who discusses the many dangers posed by these glycoproteins.

There are many types of lectins.

Some lectins (including those in wheat) bind to specific receptor sites on your intestinal mucosal cells and interfere with the absorption of nutrients across your intestinal wall and into your blood. So, they act as “antinutrients.”

Lectins are proteins that are looking to hook up with carbohydrates in your body. C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation, is one example of the many lectins you have circulating right now. Lectins are also used to determine blood type. Lectins trigger inflammation, stimulate a hyper-immune response, and increase your blood viscosity—all conditions that can predispose you to disease.

Wheat Lectin (WGA) is Cytotoxic, Neurotoxic, Cardiotoxic and Immunotoxic

Wheat lectin, or “wheat germ agglutinin” (WGA), is largely responsible for many of wheat’s pervasive ill effects. WGA is highest in whole wheat, especially sprouted whole wheat, but wheat isn’t the only grain with significant lectin. All seeds of the grass family (rice, wheat, spelt, rye, etc.) are high in lectins.

WGA has the potential to damage your health by the following mechanisms (list is not all-inclusive):

  • Pro-Inflammatory: WGA lectin stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers, even at very small concentrations
  • Immunotoxic: WGA lectin may bind to and activate white blood cells
  • Neurotoxic: WGA lectin can pass through your blood-brain barrier and attach to the protective coating on your nerves, known as the myelin sheath. It is also capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain neurons
  • Cardiotoxic: WGA lectin induces platelet aggregation and has a potent disruptive effect on tissue regeneration and removal of neutrophils from your blood vessels
  • Cytotoxic (Toxic to cells): WGA lectin may induce programmed cell death (apoptosis)

Research also shows that WGA may disrupt endocrine and gastrointestinal function, interfere with genetic expression, and share similarities with certain viruses.

The following foods contain chitin-binding lectins, which are very similar to wheat lectin:

Chitins are the primary binding target of wheat lectin; therefore, wheat lectin and chitin-binding lectin are functionally identical. This could be important information if you are struggling with celiac disease or other gastrointestinal issues. For a complete understanding about chitin-binding lectins, please read this article by Sayer Ji.

If You’re Sugar Sensitive, Beware of the SWEET Potato

Although sweet potatoes have some excellent nutritional components and are considered a “safe starch” by Dr. Jaminet, many people have problems from eating them because of their high fructose content. Dr. Jaminet actually recommends white potatoes over sweet potatoes. There are many different varieties of sweet potato, all varying in sugar content. An article on the Perfect Health Diet website discusses the difference between conventional sweet potatoes and other varieties.

The American sweet potato has been literally bred for sweetness. If you are trying to tease out the nuances of your potential carbohydrate foods, it’s worth noting the differences in the varieties.

The American sweet potato has nearly half the sugar content (6.5g per 100g) of grapes (15.5g per 100g). They are sort of half fruit, half starch! By contrast, yams are far less sweet, with only 0.5g of sugar per 100g. White potatoes actually contain more sugar than yams, at 1.2 g.

The Bottom Line

My conclusion is that there is a certain minimum carbohydrate threshold that you should not drop below. The sweet spot for most is 20 to 30 percent of your diet as carbs, but most likely 25 to 30 percent. Most of those calories can come from non-starchy vegetables, but you’ll probably need some starchy carbs, such as white potatoes or white rice, and starchy vegetables like carrots and squash.

Breast milk is considered by many to be the perfect food for infants. Breast milk is 40 percent carbohydrate, which is great for babies because they have an increased glucose demand related to their rapid brain development. Adults simply need less.

Regardless of which starchy foods you put on your plate, make sure they are as organic and unprocessed as possible, free of pesticides and chemical additives and NOT genetically modified. I believe that low toxicity, high quality nutrient-dense foods are the MOST important consideration for you and your child’s optimal health, as well as your child’s brain development.

Regardless of your dietary choices, please remember to ALWAYS listen to your body, as it will give you feedback about whether or not the approach you’ve chosen is right for your unique biochemistry and genetics. Listen to that feedback and adjust your program accordingly.

For more information on this topic, you can follow the still-ongoing discussion between Dr. Rosedale and Dr. Jaminet in the Perfect Health Diet: Safe Starches Symposium.

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The Benefits of Cherries are More Than A Wonderful Snack

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Did You Know…that a tart and delicious fruit has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and reduce your chance of developing heart disease and diabetes?

Results from a study carried out at University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggest that a diet high in a specific type of cherry can significantly decrease your risk factors for both heart disease and diabetes. benefits of cherries

For the study, researchers put 2 groups of rats on a high-fat diet intended to mimic a “western-style diet containing elevated saturated fat and cholesterol,” according to a report in Science Daily. One group’s diet was supplemented with whole tart cherry powder, made from Montmorency cherries.

Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus) are a part of the lighter-red variety of sour cherries — as opposed to the darker-red Morello variety. The tree which bears these cherries was named after Montmorency, a valley in France.

However, Montmorency cherries are grown not just in France, but also the United States (particularly in Michigan and in Wisconsin) and Canada.

The Sweet-Tart Juice of Health

Compared to their more common and milder-tasting cousins, tart cherries have lower sugar content and higher concentration of key chemical compounds. Consequently, most scientific studies use one of the tart varietals.

Montmorency cherries, with their unusually high concentration of melatonin, a powerful antioxidant, are thought to be the most medically promising of the bunch.

At the conclusion of the U-M study, the rats given the cherry supplement had a lower weight gain and lower build-up of body fat than the rats not given the cherries.

Additionally, their blood compared to the control rats showed lower total cholesterollower triglycerideslower plasma inflammation markers (TNF-alpha and interleukin-6) linked to a number of dangerous health conditions… and lower fat mass.

Benefits for Lean Rats and Fat Rats

Another study conducted one year previous the one reported by Science Daily also found that cherry-fed rats had…

  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Less fat storage in the liver
  • Lower oxidative stress

The rats in this earlier study, however, were all lean rats fed low-fat diets. Researchers conducted a follow-up study to determine whether the benefits of cherries could confer the same benefits for rats prone to obesity and eating higher fat diets.

For this reason, the second study included both lean rats and rats bred specifically toward obesity and insulin resistance.

Remarkably, the benefits of cherries were consistent for both fat and lean rats regardless of diet. Researcher Steven Bolling, M.D., a cardiac surgeon and the U-M lab’s director, said of the study, “The fact that these factors decreased despite the rats’ predisposition to obesity, and despite their high-fat ‘American-style’ diet is especially interesting.”

In fact, the research team found that those rats that were predisposed to obesity built up less belly fat — another key indicator of future heart problems.

Ultimately, the cherry-fed rats differed on several markers of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, including inflammation, blood lipids, obesity, and body composition.

The Secret Ingredient: Anthocyanins

It appears that health benefits of cherries’ are the result of anthocyanins – the antioxidant compounds responsible for the fruits’ deep, rich color.

These same pigments are found in several other varieties of darkly pigmented fruits, and according to E. Mitchell Seymour, M.S., senior scientist on the U-M study, “It was recently shown that regular intake of [these fruits] is associated with reduced mortality for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.”

Easy as Pie?

The U-M researchers noted that for a person to consume the same amount of cherries as the rats in the study did, you would need to eat a cup and a half of tart cherries daily.

You can, however, choose tart cherry juice as a more convenient yet equally effective — and entirely delicious — alternative to eating whole, raw cherries. In order to receive the maximum nutritional benefits of tart cherry juice concentrate, be sure to purchase only unpasteurized concentrate made from verified Montmorency cherries.

Ideally, whatever form of tart cherry you choose should be as unprocessed as possible, so you’ll be assured of getting the highest concentration of antioxidants possible.

Tart cherries can be purchased fresh (in season) or frozen from natural health food stores. Cherry juice and extracts are available year round in stores as well as by online order from many sources.

Submitted by Underground Health Reporter

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