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Your digestive tract is probably the most underappreciated system of your body, often ignored until its screams of discontent become loud enough to grab your attention.
By the time your gut reaches this degree of disgruntlement, the problems have usually been developing for months — or years — and are challenging to resolve.
Instead of waiting for obvious signs of a problem, why not perform some regular “gut maintenance” that will lessen your chances of developing a problem in the first place?
Your gut is much more than a food processing tube — it houses about 85 percent of your immune system. This is in large part due to the 100 trillion bacteria that live there, both good and bad that can stimulate secretory IgA to nourish your immune response.
When your GI tract is not working well, a wide range of health problems can appear, including allergies and autoimmune diseases. If you suffer from any major illness, you simply will NOT be able to fully recuperate without healing and sealing your gut. Balancing the menagerie of microorganisms that occupy your GI tract is a key part of maintaining your immune health, which will be the focus of this article.
Your stomach is where digestion really gets rolling, with the introduction of more enzymes and a whole lot of acid. Fortunately, your stomach is uniquely designed for this process, as it is SO acidic. Its lining must actually regenerate at a feverish pace — just to keep up with the continuous digestion of itself! You require a brand new stomach lining every few days.
Your Stomach Actually Protects You from Infections
A recent article in Scientific American1 explores an alternate explanation about how your stomach works. The “sieve hypothesis” suggests your stomach may operate as a sieve or filter, preventing some of the more harmful microbes from passing through to your small intestine. Evidence for this is not new. It comes from a 1948 study by Dr. Orla-Jensen, a retired professor from the Royal Danish Technical College — a study that has essentially been “lost” in the literature for more than 60 years.
The professor argued that your stomach uses acid to kill pathogenic disease-causing bacteria, fungi, viruses, worms and protozoa, while allowing the more beneficial microbes (which are acid-tolerant) to pass through. If your stomach is unsuccessful at killing these pathogens, then they can dominate your intestines, damaging and eroding your intestinal walls and causing illness.
Your stomach generally becomes less acidic as you age, particularly after age 70. In his study, Orla-Jensen compared the gut bacteria of young people with that of healthy seniors, as well as with seniors suffering from dementia. He found that as people age, they have a greater proportion of pathogenic microbes to beneficial microbes in their intestinal tracts. This was particularly pronounced in seniors with dementia… which begs the question about whether dementia could actually be caused by an “intestinal infection.”
A study done at UC Davis found that E. coli and salmonella bacteria in mice produce fiber-like structures very similar to the inflammatory brain plaques seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease2. Your brain is shaped by bacteria in your digestive tract. Bacteria in your gut actually control how your brain cells express specific genes.3 Other studies report that disturbed gut flora in seniors contributes to accelerated aging, frailty and premature death.
More research is needed in order to understand the exact relationship between dysbiosis and dementia. But at the very least, these studies underscore the importance of maintaining high levels of beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract. In fact, this bacterial community may be in charge of your entire metabolism.
Unhappy Gut Bacteria May Make You Fat
Inflammation from bacterial endotoxins may be a factor helping to drive the obesity epidemic.4 Junk food causes nasty microbes to bloom and friendly bugs to decline, just as sugar and refined carbohydrates feed the bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for tooth decay. Sugar and processed foods make your “friendly” microbe community unfriendly — even downright hostile. Humans today have lost the microbial diversity that once kept us healthy.
When dysbiosis occurs, bacteria release noxious byproducts called endotoxins. Endotoxins increase the permeability of your gut wall (“leaky gut syndrome”) and make their way into your bloodstream, triggering system wide inflammation. It’s been shown that the hypothalamus, which houses the appetite control center of your brain, is often inflamed and damaged in obese individuals. When inflammation affects your brain, and especially your hypothalamus, your entire metabolism changes.
So, here’s how it goes…
When you consume junk foods, certain bacteria flourish and produce endotoxins, which your immune system detects and, interpreting these endotoxins as an attack, responds with inflammation. Your body changes its metabolism to redirect energy for “battle.” The result is overproduction of insulin, increased fat storage, dampening of your appetite control signals, and eventually obesity. The best way to reverse this inflammation and restore a healthy metabolism is by eliminating excess sugar and processed food, and adding more friendly, beneficial bacteria from naturally fermented foods.
Cultured Vegetables Are the Ultimate Superfood
One of the leading experts in the optimization of intestinal flora is Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who developed the GAPS nutritional protocol (Gut and Psychology Syndrome/Gut and Physiology Syndrome). For decades, Dr. McBride has successfully treated adults and children with severe illnesses, including autism, epilepsy, mood disorders, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and many more, with her GAPS protocol.
A key component of the GAPS program is the daily consumption of fermented foods. Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of probiotics than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora. In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including:
Mineral absorption, and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2 (vitamin K2 and vitamin D are necessary for integrating calcium into your bones and keeping it out of your arteries, thereby reducing your risk for coronary artery disease and stroke5)
Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
Lowering your risk for cancer
Improving your mood and mental health
Introducing Cultured Vegetables into Your Diet — The Right Way
Download Interview Transcript
Now that you understand the importance of optimizing your GI flora, let’s take a look at just how easy it is to accomplish this task by making fermented vegetables at home, in your own kitchen. If you aren’t accustomed to these foods, you may have to work them into your diet gradually. Many folks really enjoy the taste of fermented vegetables, which really have a pleasantly salty-tart flavor.
According to nutritional consultant Caroline Barringer, just one quarter to one half cup of fermented veggies, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health.
If you’ve never eaten fermented foods, too large a portion may provoke a healing crisis, which occurs when the probiotics kill off pathogens in your gut. When these pathogens die, they release potent toxins. If you are new to fermented foods, you should introduce them gradually, beginning with as little as one teaspoon of sauerkraut with a meal. Observe your reactions for a couple of days before proceeding with another small portion, and increase your dose gradually, as tolerated.
Realize that many food preferences develop very early in life, so the sooner you can introduce fermented vegetables to your child, the better. Traces of the flavors of the foods mothers eat are perceptible in their breast milk and amniotic fluid. Babies whose mothers eat things like garlic or broccoli while pregnant tend to be more likely to enjoy these foods later in life.
Making Cultured Veggies at Home: Equipment Checklist
Culturing your own vegetables is not difficult, but as with anything, having the right tools makes the job much easier and more fun. I have spent the last six months streamlining the process and refining my basic recipe. One of the key ingredients though is the starter culture. We are in the middle of a very extensive testing process to provide a culture that will give you large amounts of vitamin K2 in your fermented vegetables. We hope to have that available later this year if all goes well. In the meantime, you can use the following kitchen tools to make your own fermented vegetables:
Food Processor: You’ll be cutting up large quantities of raw vegetables, which is very labor intensive without a food processor. Make sure yours has a shredding disc, as a typical S-blade will result in too fine a chop, which makes for a pulpier, mushier end product.
Juicer: My own experimentation has resulted in selecting celery juice as the basic brine for my cultured veggies, making a juicer necessary.
Good Knives: Make sure you have a set of good quality, sharp knives for prepping your vegetables.
Cutting Board: A large, sturdy cutting board is a must.
Very Large Bowl: This bowl should be large enough to hold the entire batch of shredded veggies, so a large capacity stainless bowl is a necessity.
Canning Jars: Basic wide-mouthed 32-ounce Mason jars are all that is necessary for both fermenting and storing the vegetables. These are inexpensive and easy to find at your local hardware store, grocery, or online. Make sure they are wide-mouthed, as you’ll need to get your hand or a tool down into the jar for tightly packing the veggies.
Krautpounder: This solid wood tool that looks like a small baseball bat is very handy for tightly packing the shredded veggies into your jars and eliminating air pockets.
Making Cultured Veggies at Home in Six Easy Steps
The following are the basic steps to making wonderful cultured vegetables at home. For additional information, refer to our previous article on this topic.
Vegetable and Herb Selection: The first step is gathering up your veggies. Make sure they are all organic. Cabbage (red or green) should be the “backbone” of your blend, comprising about 80 percent (I use green). Choose dense, tightly packed heads. Five or six medium-sized cabbages will yield 10 to 14 quart jars of fermented vegetables. Remember to reserve some cabbage leaves for the jar tops (see Step 3).
Add in hard root vegetables of your liking, such as carrots, golden beets, radishes and turnips. Peel your veggies as the skins can impart a bitter flavor. I also enjoy adding red bell pepper, Granny Smith apples, and even a hot pepper, like a habanero (make sure you wear gloves!). One pepper for the entire batch is plenty.
Aromatics can be added in small quantities — a little goes a long way, as fermenting concentrates the pungent flavors. Tasty additions include peeled garlic, peeled ginger, and herbs such as basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, or oregano. Onions tend to overpower the mix, no matter how little are used, so I avoid them.
Finally, you can add sea vegetables or seaweed to increase the mineral, vitamin, and fiber content. You can add pieces of whole dulse, or use flakes. Wakame and sea palm do not have any kind of fishy flavor but need to be presoaked and diced into the desired size. Arame and hijaki DO have a fishy flavor.
Culture and Brine: For your brine, I recommend using a starter culture dissolved in celery juice. One quart of celery juice is adequate for 10 to 14 quarts of fermented veggies. While you can do wild fermentation (allowing whatever is naturally on the vegetable to take hold), this method is more time consuming, and the end product is less certain. Inoculating the food with a starter culture speeds up the fermentation process. I currently recommend using two of our Complete Probiotics as the starter culture until we get our refined version which will make more vitamin K2.
High Vitamin K2 Starter Culture As I said above, we are in the middle of a very extensive testing process to provide a culture that will give you large amounts of vitamin K2 in your fermented vegetables and we hope to have that available later this year if all goes well. In the meantime i recommend using two of our Complete Probiotic Capsules for every quart of fermented vegetables as that is very close to what our final culture will be.
Packing the Jars: Once you have your shredded veggies and brine mixture combined in your large bowl, tightly pack the mixture into each Mason jar, and compress using a masher to remove any air pockets. Top with a cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides. Make sure the veggies are completely covered with brine and that the brine is all the way to the top of the jar, to eliminate trapped air. Put the lids on the jars loosely, as they will expand due to the gases produced in fermentation.
Fermentation: Allow the jars to sit in a relatively warm place for several days, ideally around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer, veggies are typically done in three or four days. In the winter, they may need seven days. The only way to tell when they’re done is to open up a jar and have a taste. Once you’re happy with the flavor and consistency, move the jars into your refrigerator.
Storage: Refrigerating your vegetables drastically slows down the fermentation. They will keep for many months this way, continuing to mature very slowly over time.
Enjoy! Always use a clean spoon to take out what you’re eating. Never eat out of the jar, as you will contaminate the entire batch with bacteria from your mouth. Make sure the remaining veggies are covered with the brine solution before replacing the lid.
Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse examines why science appears to be under attack, and why public trust in key scientific theories has been eroded – from the theory that man-made climate change is warming our planet, to the safety of GM food, or that HIV causes AIDS.
He interviews scientists and campaigners from both sides of the climate change debate, and travels to New York to meet Tony, who has HIV but doesn’t believe that that the virus is responsible for AIDS.
This is a passionate defense of the importance of scientific evidence and the power of experiment, and a look at what scientists themselves need to do to earn trust in controversial areas of science in the 21st century.
By Dr. Mercola
Air pollution and chemicals found in common household- and personal care goods are major sources of exposure that can lead to an accumulation of toxins in your body.
Recent news articles have highlighted a number of sources of such toxic exposures, as well as new research linking traffic pollution to higher risk of heart disease.
The best advice I could give you should you happen to live in a heavily polluted area is to move, but I realize that isn’t always a practical option.
For most people, it’s better to focus your attention on your immediate environment, which you have more, if not full, control over. After all, what you put on, in, and keep around your body on a daily basis is going to have the greatest impact on your health.
Traffic Pollution Increases Risk of Heart Disease and Heart Attack
According to a German study presented at the EuroPRevent 2013 congress in Rome, long-term exposure to fine particle matter air pollution is associated with atherosclerosis, or thickening of the arteries.1 According to the featured article:2
“The study was based on data from the German Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a population-based cohort… with a mean age of 60 years…
Results showed that in the 4,238 subjects included in the study, small particulate matter and proximity to major roads were both associated with an increasing level of aortic calcification—for every increase in particle volume up to 2.4 micrometers the degree of calcification increased by 20.7 percent and for every 100 meter proximity to heavy traffic by 10 percent.”
Previous research has also identified traffic noise as a risk factor, and this latest study confirms that both small particulate matter and sound pollution are independently associated with subclinical atherosclerosis. According to Dr. Hagen Kälsch, who presented the research:
“These two major types of traffic emissions help explain the observed associations between living close to high traffic and subclinical atherosclerosis… The considerable size of the associations underscores the importance of long-term exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise as risk factors for atherosclerosis.”
Interestingly, both noise and fine particle matter are believed to increase your cardiovascular disease risk through similar biologic pathways, namely by causing an imbalance in your autonomic nervous system (ANS). Your ANS is intricately involved in regulating biological functions such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, clotting and viscosity.
Another study by a French research team found that all the main traffic pollutants, with the exception of ozone, were strongly associated with an increased risk for heart attack. These pollutants include:
Carbon monoxide (CO)
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
Reducing Air Pollution Can Alleviate Atherosclerosis
A third study, this one by American researchers, published in the journal PLoS Medicine,3 involved nearly 5,400 participants in six US cities between the ages of 45 and 84. None of the subjects had heart disease. Air pollution levels were measured at each participant’s home, and then compared to ultrasound measurements of their blood vessels. Both levels were then rechecked at least three years later.
On average, the thickness of the carotid artery increased by 0.014 millimeters per year after other risk factors such as smoking were accounted for. Those who had higher levels of exposure to fine particulate air pollution experienced thickening of the inner two layers of the carotid artery (which supplies blood to your head) quicker than those exposed to lower levels of pollution. According to the authors:
“Linking these findings with other results from the same population suggests that persons living in a more polluted part of town may have a 2 percent higher risk of stroke as compared to people in a less polluted part of the same metropolitan area.”
The good news is that reducing exposure to fine particulate air pollution can help slow the thickening of your carotid artery. An accompanying PLoS commentary4 urges policy makers to take note and enforce science-based clean air standards to help reduce healthcare costs:
“It has been known since the last century that ambient air pollution can trigger acute cardiovascular morbidities, and a comparative risk assessment of established triggers of myocardial infarctions concluded that a rather substantial fraction of these acute and life-threatening events can be attributed to current levels of air pollution. However, it is of importance to understand the causes of atherosclerosis, given that its prevention or deceleration could drastically delay and reduce the burden of CVDs…
In sum, the MESA study further supports an old request to policy makers, namely that clean air standards ought to comply at least with the science-based levels proposed by the World Health Organization. And we know it works: better air quality improves health—in rabbit, mice, men, and women alike.”
Chemicals from Personal Care Products Pervasive in Chicago Air
In related news, Scientific American5 recently reported that chemicals found in personal care products such as deodorants, lotions and conditioners, are detectable in Chicago’s air at “alarming” levels. The chemicals in question, cyclic siloxanes, are known to be toxic to aquatic life. According to Keri Hornbuckle, an engineering professor at the University of Iowa, these airborne compounds are pervasive all around us. Hornbuckle and her team evaluated air samples from downtown Chicago, IL (my home town) and two locations in Iowa.6 As reported by Scientific American:
“Concentrations were 10 times higher in Chicago’s air than in the air of West Branch, Iowa, and four times higher than in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. But whether there are any risks from breathing the chemicals is unknown. There have been no studies to measure people’s exposures or investigate potential health risks. In Chicago’s air, the most prevalent compound, known as D5, was at levels three times greater than what polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) typically are there. PCBs are persistent chemicals banned in the 1970s. D5 is most commonly used in soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners.”
Another chemical, known as D4, is commonly used in polishes, detergents, sealants, adhesives and plastics. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), D4 is toxic to wildlife, and to certain species, including rainbow trout, it’s toxic at the levels found in our environment. In animal studies, the compound has been shown to cause tumors and reproductive problems. Like so many other chemicals, it acts like a weak estrogen. D5, on the other hand, has been shown to cause problems in the nervous systems, liver, and immune system in animals. Despite this, no country on earth is currently regulating either of these chemicals.
New Report Shows Lipsticks and Lip Glosses Contain Toxic Metals
A study recently published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives confirms previous findings that link lipstick to toxic metal exposure.7 California scientists found nine toxic metals in the 32 lipsticks and lip glosses tested, including:
According to the researchers, some metals were detected at high enough levels to “raise potential health concerns,” and although no name brands were identified, they advised the public to “treat these results as applicable to all lipsticks.” According to their findings, a woman who frequently reapplies lipstick or lip gloss may ingest as much as 87 milligrams of the product each day. An “average user” may ingest about 24 milligrams a day. At the average rate, 10 of the 32 products tested would exceed your “safe” level of chromium, which has been linked to certain tumors. High use could also result in overexposure to aluminum, cadmium and manganese.
Ten Retailers Urged to Discontinue Potentially Toxic Products
To tackle the problem of toxic chemical exposures, health and environmental groups are launching a national campaign aimed at 10 major retailers, urging them to discontinue the sale of products containing potentially toxic materials and develop a plan to phase out the use of the listed chemicals within the next 12 months.8
Nearly four dozen groups have signed on for the campaign, including the Breast Cancer Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The retailers targeted include Kroger, Walgreens, Home Depot, CVS Caremark, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Safeway. More than 100 chemicals are listed on the Campaign’s phase out list, and these chemicals can be found in hundreds, if not thousands, of products, including:
Personal care products
Stain-resistant fabrics and furniture
Common Chemicals to Avoid
Some of the most well-known chemical hazards that most people are exposed to on a daily basis include:
BPA and BPS: Bisphenol-A (BPA) can be found in a wide variety of plastic products, such as water bottles, microwaveable plates, tooth sealants, canned foods, and baby toys. It’s a potent endocrine disruptor that can also interfere with your thyroid hormones. Brain damage, decreased intelligence, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism were also found to be potential side effects.
California recently added BPA to its “dangerous chemicals” list,9 which means any product using the chemical will likely be required to include a warning label.
Bisphenol-S (BPS) has been shown to have estrogenic activity comparable to estradiol, the most potent human estrogen.10 It’s also capable of enhancing estradiol-mediated cell signaling, making it a particularly potent endocrine disruptor. Furthermore, recent research has shown BPS can induce apoptosis (cell death) and interfere with cellular secretion of prolactin (PRL)—a hormone that regulates hundreds of biological functions, including metabolism, reproduction and lactation.
Phthalates: Another chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics is phthalates, which make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient. They’re also one of the most pervasive endocrine disrupters so far discovered. These chemicals have increasingly become associated with changes in the development of the male brain as well as with genital defects, metabolic abnormalities and reduced testosterone in babies and adults.
PFOA: Non-stick cookware is the primary source of dangerous perfluorinated chemicals (PFOAs), which have been linked to cancer, birth defects and thyroid disease. I highly recommend you throw away your non-stick cookware immediately and replace it with either ceramic or glass. My personal choice is ceramic cookware, because it’s very durable and easy to clean, and there’s virtually no risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde, most commonly known as embalming fluid, serves a number of purposes in manufactured products. It is actually frequently used in fabrics to give them a variety of “easy care properties” as well as being a common component of pressed-wood products. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals, and may cause cancer in humans. Other common adverse health effects include fatigue, skin rashes, and allergic reactions. Choosing all natural materials for your clothing and furniture can help cut down on your exposure.
PBDEs: These flame-retardant chemicals have been linked to altered thyroid levels, decreased fertility and numerous problems with development when exposure occurs in utero. PBDEs are commonly found in household items like upholstery and television and computer housings. Fortunately, several states now ban the use of PBDEs, so there is some progress toward reducing exposure.
Another common source of PBDEs is your mattress, and since you can spend up to a third of your life in bed, this is a significant health concern. Mattress manufacturers are not required to label or disclose which chemicals their mattresses contain. Look for 100 percent wool, toxin-free mattresses. Another viable option is to look for a mattress that uses a Kevlar, bullet-proof type of material in lieu of chemicals for fire-proofing. Stearns and Foster uses this process for their mattresses, which is sufficient to pass fire safety standards.
What Can You do to Reduce Unnecessary Chemical Exposure to Your Family?
Rather than compile an endless list of what you should avoid, it’s far easier to focus on what you should do to lead a healthy lifestyle with as minimal a chemical exposure as possible:
As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides and fertilizers.
Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity.
Eat mostly raw, fresh foods, steering clear of processed, prepackaged foods of all kinds. This way you automatically avoid artificial food additives, including dangerous artificial sweeteners, food coloring and MSG.
Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA-containing liners).
Have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).
Only use natural cleaning products in your home.
Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a great database11 to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals. I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.
Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.
Replace your Teflon pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware or a safe nonstick pan.
When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric, or install a glass shower door. Most all flexible plastics, like shower curtains, contain dangerous plasticizers like phthalates.
Limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residues and accumulate in your body over time.
Avoid spraying pesticides around your home or insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective and natural alternatives out there.
Limiting Chemical Exposure is Important for Optimal Health
A typical American comes in regular contact with some 6,000 chemicals and an untold number of potentially toxic substances on a less frequent basis. Disturbingly, many of them have never been fully tested for safety. To protect your health, it’s important to make these positive and gradual steps toward decreasing your chemical exposure.
While you make the switch to remove and reduce chemicals around your home, remember that one of the ways to significantly reduce your toxic load is to pay careful attention to what you eat. Organically-grown, biodynamic whole foods, along with fermented foods, are really the key to success here, and, as an added bonus, when you eat right, you’re also optimizing your body’s natural detoxification system, which can help eliminate toxins your body encounters from other sources.
Environmental pollution is a massive problem, but for most there aren’t many immediate solutions to address it. Your time is better spent focusing on your environment; your home, and all the products you use or come in contact with on a daily basis. Cleaning that up can go a long way to reduce your toxic load, and hence decrease your risk of chemical-induced health problems.
An international protest is planned for May 25 against biotechnology company Monsanto in six continents and demonstrations are planned in tens of countries. Monsanto, a titan of the emerging biotech industry, has come under attack from environmentalists, agriculturalists and average consumers over the company’s conduct in the realm of genetically-modified organisms and genetically-engineered foods. Despite research on the effects of GMO crops being largely considered inconclusive, Monsanto has lobbied hard in Washington and around the globe to be able to continue manufacturing lab-made foods without the oversight that many have demanded. Nick Bernabe , the director of Social network “March against Monsanto” joins us for more.
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By Dr. Mercola
Yep, it’s time for yet another pandemic flu drill… “WHO says new bird strain is “one of most lethal” flu viruses,” Reuters1 recently declared.
Every few years, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and related agencies drum up another flu emergency; each promised to be worse than the last, and this year you’re likely to start hearing a lot more about “lethal bird flu” again.
What many don’t realize is that these agencies actually need these faux flu emergencies to practice — to fine-tune their strategies and test the latest disease surveillance systems.
They also need them to justify their own existence, not to mention growth and expansion. As noted in a recent article by Medical News Today2:
“After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the potential threat of bioterrorism, many new advanced systems for disease surveillance and notification have been developed and implemented throughout the world.
The goal of these systems is not only to detect a possible biological attack, but to characterize emerging pathogens so that a public health response can be implemented rapidly.
‘You can’t test these systems on a day-to-day basis,’ says… Michael A. Stoto, PhD… ‘The only way to test these systems is how they perform in a real public health emergency.’
… ‘What really made a difference in 2009 was that people from the US and Mexico talked to each other through a formalized system of communication,’ he says. ‘I think taxpayers and policymakers want to know if the billions invested after 9-11 to prepare for a biological event is paying off. I think the answer is ‘yes.’”
One Profitable Flu Hoax After Another…
So far, these pandemic threats have never been anywhere near as lethal as predicted. Unfortunately, many are still hopelessly addicted to fear, so these dramatic warnings will likely continue to be successful in enabling WHO and CDC health officials to accumulate more power and control.
Hyping fear of microorganisms has already led to an increase in the numbers of state vaccine mandates, which are now threatening people’s health and right to get an education or keep a job.
In recent years, we’ve seen a number of aggressively hyped flu pandemics that were based more on media spin than on hard science and never materialized.
While it’s prudent to be aware that a pandemic involving a mutated, lethal microorganism could occur in the future, what we’ve repeatedly seen is that the possibility has been massively over-sold in the past, allowing drug companies to rake in billions of dollars for fast-tracked, inadequately tested vaccines and other dangerous and/or ineffective anti-viral drugs.
Sadly, each time a greater number of people tend to end up being harmed by the drugs and ”pandemic” vaccines than actually succumb to the viral infection.
The 2005 bird flu hoax: Headlines warned the U.S. was facing a cataclysmic extermination event, with a projected two million Americans at risk of potentially succumbing to the bird flu. The best case scenario had public health experts warning that the bird flu could kill at least 200,000 Americans. Then, as now, constant references to the tragic 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic heightened the fear factor to a fever pitch, despite the fact that the scientific data did not support any of these hyped claims.
Of course, 200,000 people in the US did not die from bird flu in 2005. The number was zero. I even wrote a NY Times best seller book on the topic, The Great Bird Flu Hoax.
At that time, they mysteriously translated the minuscule number of deaths of bird handlers that had occurred worldwide into an impending extermination-level event from a virus that did not — and still does not — readily spread from birds to humans, nor between humans.
Most of the people who acquire the infection were, and still are, bird handlers in continuous contact with sick birds. How anyone in their right mind could envision similar circumstances among the general population of the United States is a mystery, but it goes to show that it’s unwise to throw common sense to the wind…
Bird flu hoax repeats: In 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, hyped warnings over the bird flu were repeatedly exposed as little more than a cruel hoax, designed to instill fear and line the pocketbooks of industry and various vested individuals.
The 2009 swine flu hoax: After four consecutive years of bird flu warnings that just refused to come to fruition, the H1N1 swine flu became front-page news again. This turned out to be yet another faux threat that cost tax payers billions for fast-tracked vaccines, which wrought havoc across the world. Ironically, the 2009 H1N1 “pandemic” actually turned out to be one of the MILDEST flu seasons in recent years with a low number of reported influenza-related deaths.
Meanwhile, the fast-tracked 2009 H1N1 vaccine turned out to be the most reactive flu vaccine ever created, harming far more people than the virus itself.
The dire predictions of 2012: The summer of 2012 was filled with dire predictions of bird flu sufficiently mutating to cause a human pandemic, immediately followed by urgent calls for fast-tracked vaccines.
New Bird Flu Strain ‘One of the Most Lethal’ WHO Claims
If we are to believe recent reports3, a new more easily transmittable strain of bird flu has emerged in China, reportedly killing 22 people since its discovery in March. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson, the strain is far more lethal than another strain of bird flu that has “killed hundreds” since 2003. According to the featured article4:
“The H7N9 flu has infected 108 people in China since it was first detected in March, according to the Geneva-based WHO. Although it is not clear exactly how people are being infected, experts say they see no evidence so far of the most worrisome scenario — sustained transmission between people. An international team of scientists led by the WHO and the Chinese government conducted a five-day investigation in China, but said they were no closer to determining whether the virus might become transmissible between people.
… Another bird flu strain – H5N1 – has killed 30 of the 45 people it infected in China between 2003 and 2013, and although the H7N9 strain in the current outbreak has a lower fatality rate to date, Fukuda said: ‘This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we’ve seen so far.’ … Based on the evidence, ‘this virus is more easily transmissible from poultry to humans than H5N1…’”
While each death is tragic, flu death statistics can’t compare to the death toll wrought by pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. If you want to protect your health, at least compare the odds. In 2009/2010, many who gambled on the fast-tracked pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine sacrificed their health and in some cases their lives to what at final count turned out to be one of the mildest flu seasons in years. An estimated 125,000 people die each year in the US from prescription medications taken correctly as prescribed. And in just six years (from 2006 to 2013), more than 100 deaths were reported after vaccination with the HPV vaccine Gardasil.
No investigation or remedial action whatsoever has been launched by public health authorities in response to these “lethal medicine” statistics. Yet, each time a new influenza virus is identified, we’re supposed to “do the right thing” without asking any questions —meaning, “just get your damn vaccine,” as so bluntly stated by NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman during the 2009 swine flu pandemic debacle. That wouldn’t be such a problematic demand were it not for the fact that pandemic flu vaccines are virtually untested in adequate clinical trials before they are released to the public, and therefore carry unknown risks over and above the “normal” risk you take with any vaccination.
H7N9 Vaccine At Least 6 Weeks Away
To further feed people’s stomach-churning anxiety over potentially lethal bird flu viruses proliferating and mutating, current media articles warn that the remedy, an H7N9 vaccine, is still several weeks away from being developed.
“If the strain proves to be a candidate for a pandemic outbreak, it might be a while before health professionals have a vaccine to protect against the strain, according to Joseph Kim, president of Inovio, a California-based company that is currently in the initial stages of developing an H7N9 vaccine,” US News writes5.
‘The fastest we’d be able to have a vaccine to test in animals for H7N9 would probably be 4-6 weeks from now,’ he says…. Under normal circumstances, the path from animal testing to ‘small scale human tests’ to full approval takes another couple months ‘in an accelerated path,’ Kim says.
But in the case of a pandemic, the animal testing stage is sometimes skipped and the vaccine is immediately used to treat humans. ‘In a pandemic setting, you can potentially grow the vaccine and use them without human testing in emergency cases,’ Kim says.” [Emphasis mine]
And therein lies the rub. Pandemic vaccines are among the most high-profit and low-risk business ventures for vaccine makers. They stand to make billions of dollars in revenue while being completely shielded from liability if the vaccine turns out to be hazardous, like it turned out to be in 2009. Not to mention they save a ton of money on development, since drug companies can duck under FDA standard pre-licensure testing regulations and skip certain types of either animal or human testing—or BOTH! It’s a triple-win for liability free vaccine manufacturers assured of big profits and a risky game of Vaccine Roulette for you.
This macabre situation was created in the U.S. when Congress passed the 2006 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (the PREP Act), which is part of the “Bioshield” legislation Big Pharma lobbied for and was enacted following 9-11 reportedly to address national “biosecurity” concerns. The PREP Act removes your right to a trial jury in a civil court unless you can provide clear evidence of willful misconduct by the vaccine maker that resulted in death or serious physical injury. But first, you must apply for and be granted permission to sue by the DHHS Secretary.
The most problematic aspect of the PREP Act is that it removes all financial incentive to make a safe product in the first place. In fact, vaccine makers now have a negative incentive to test it for safety, because if they are aware of problems, then they could potentially be held liable for willful misconduct! As long as they can prove they “didn’t know” of any problem — a statement widely used during the 2009/2010 season — they will not be liable for damages. Hence it’s in their best interest to know as little as possible about the adverse reactions it might cause.
How to Protect Yourself Against the Flu Without Vaccination
Be prepared to hear more fear mongering about the H7N9 bird flu. In the meantime, I’d like to remind you that a healthy immune system is your best and primary defense against any viral threat. Following these simple guidelines will help you keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with. Or, if you do get sick with type A or B influenza, you are better prepared to recover without serious complications—which by the way will give you a longer lasting naturally acquired immunity to the strain of influenza you experienced.
Optimize Your Gut Flora. This may be the single most important strategy you can implement as the bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is to avoid sugars as they will feed the pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, processed foods and most grains should be limited and replaced with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs and nuts. Once you change your diet, then regular use of fermented foods can radically optimize the function of your immune response.
Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I’ve previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm your levels are within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.
Ideally, you’ll want to get all your vitamin D from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed, but you can also take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. According to the latest review by Carole Baggerly (Grassrootshealth.org), adults need about 8,000 IU’s a day to reach a serum level of 40 ng/ml. Be sure to take vitamin K2 if you are taking oral vitamin D as it has a powerful synergy and will help prevent vitamin D toxicity.
Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the quality of your immune response almost immediately, and as you likely know, a healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illness. It also can decimate your beneficial bacteria and feed the pathogenic yeast and viruses. Be aware that sugar (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice. If you are healthy, then sugar can be consumed but the LAST thing you should be eating when you are sick is sugar.
Get Plenty of Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
Get Regular Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of responding to infection before it spreads. Be sure to stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, it would be wise to radically reduce the intensity of your workouts while you are sick. No Peak Fitness exercises until you are better.
Take a High-Quality Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.
Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap for this – antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those, who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.
Use Natural Immune Boosters. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, these do not appear to lead to resistance, so they can be used again and again.
Avoid Hospitals. I’d recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you’re having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.
Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions
With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to informed consent to vaccination and fight to protect and expand vaccine exemptions in state public health laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.
Vaccine Awareness Week
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.
Signing up for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choices and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips..
So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with each other, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.
I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the “other side” of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.
We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn’t be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:
NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.
Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One that Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.
However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.
So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.
By Dr. Mercola
The six decades’ old fast food franchise KFC recently rolled out Original Recipe boneless chicken in its 4,500 US locations.1 The new slogan: “No mess. No fuss. No bones about it.”
The company is so convinced boneless chicken is the way of the future that they’re actually considering eliminating on-the-bone chicken from its menu altogether. According to the featured article:
“McDonald’s execs began experimenting with a range of non-burger options: chicken pot-pies, bone-in fried chicken, deep-fried onion chunks. None of them were successful, until they offered customers deep fried chicken chunks. The McNugget was born.
That was 1980, when about 80 percent to 85 percent of chicken consumed in the US was unprocessed… Ten years later, the numbers had almost reversed…
While the rotisserie chicken made a bit of a comeback in the mid-‘90s, the idea of eating the whole bird was, for the most part, a thing of the past… According to internal KFC surveys, nearly four out of five servings of chicken in the US today are off-the-bone, the inverse of 30 years ago.”
Why might this be “a big deal”? Well, for one, processed chicken nuggets, regardless of brand, are far more likely to contain all sorts of additives and fillers you’d be better off without.
For example, I wrote about the questionable ingredients of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets back in 2010. Only half of Chicken McNuggets are actual meat. The other 50 percent includes corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents and completely synthetic ingredients.
In a 2003 lawsuit against McDonald’s, Federal Judge Robert Sweet2 even questioned “whether customers understood the risks of eating McDonald’s chicken over regular chicken.” But there’s yet another reason for my questioning the trend of going boneless, and it’s even less savory than that…
The Future of Food: Bioengineered Meat
Few are talking about this, but scientists have been working on bioengineering “cultured” meat for the past decade. According to a September 2011 Huffington Post article,3 scientists at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands claimed to be as little as 12 months away from delivering the world’s first bioengineered synthetic hamburger.
As of this writing, the hamburger has yet to be presented, although I doubt that means the plan has been abandoned.
The article also pointed out that London’s Royal Society had released a global food supply report, in which they called for a synthetic meat solution to feed the world’s growing population without causing environmental destruction.
“The only barriers? Overcoming the social stigma and the RS scientists say it could take another decade before it rolls out to the masses,” the article states.
Then, in February 2012, The Economist4 followed up on the research. Other Dutch scientists, led by Dr. Mark Post at the Eindhoven University in the Netherlands, expressed hopes of decimating animal husbandry altogether by altering how meat for the masses is produced. The article explains how this laboratory-created meat is created:
“Dr. Post’s cultures, grown from stem cells, are sheets 3cm long, 1.5cm wide and half a millimeter deep. To make the world’s most expensive hamburger 3,000 of them will be needed. The stem cells themselves are extracted from cattle muscle and then multiplied a millionfold before they are put in Petri dishes and allowed to turn into muscle cells.
When they have done so, they are encouraged to exercise and build up their strength by being given their own gym equipment (pieces of Velcro to which they can anchor themselves in order to stretch and relax spontaneously). The fatty cells of adipose tissue, needed for juiciness, are grown separately and then combined with the muscle cells before the whole thing is cooked.
Producing meat in Petri dishes is not commercially viable, but Dr. Post hopes to scale things up—first by growing the cells on small spheres floating in tanks and ultimately by using scaffolds made of biodegradable polymer tubes, which would both add the third dimension needed for a juicy steak and provide a way of delivering nutrients and oxygen to the steak’s interior.”
Sure, companies like KFC may have a point when they say they’re just changing their meals to meet the needs of the “chicken nugget generation.” But a side effect of getting used to the idea that chicken meat doesn’t have bones is that, at any point, the meat used in these processed nuggets could be exchanged for bioengineered meat, and no one would be the wiser…
I sincerely doubt bioengineered meat would be advertised, since it’s hardly a selling point—at least in the beginning. What the potential health ramifications might be from eating such meats are completely unknown, but it’s clearly not going to be identical to meat from an animal.
More Data Ties Human Illness to Farm Antibiotics
Seeing how commercially available bioengineered meat is still a ways away from being a reality you have to contend with, let’s bring the focus back to something more relevant to the present day, namely antibiotics in CAFO meats. Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion. These agricultural uses account for about 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the US,5 so it’s a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption.
On The Rise
According to a recent NPR report,6 data published by a joint government program7 from tests conducted on supermarket meat samples collected in 2011 by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, reveals the presence of several disease-causing bacteria, including the super-hardy antibiotic-resistant versions of salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. According to NPR:8
“The implications were significant — that the bacteria had become resistant to antibiotics back at the farm because farmers were overusing them. The findings, released through the joint program of the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got little attention when they were published in February. But this week, the Environmental Working Group, which opposes some of the livestock industry’s use of antibiotics, analyzed the government data and highlighted some of their startling implications in a report.”
The report9 in question, aptly named “Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets,” points out that many of the meats tested contained “startlingly high levels” of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on:
81 percent of ground turkey
69 percent of pork chops
55 percent of ground beef
39 percent of chicken breasts, wings and thighs
Want Safer Meat? Buy Organic Pastured/Grass-Fed
Writing for the New York Times,10 David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1990 to 1997, also recently sounded warning bells over the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in livestock, urging the FDA to take the matter seriously. So far, the agency has only restricted on class of antibiotics, cephalosporin, from routine use in livestock.11
“While the FDA can see what kinds of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are coming out of livestock facilities, the agency doesn’t know enough about the antibiotics that are being fed to these animals,” he writes. “This is a major public health problem, because giving healthy livestock these drugs breeds superbugs that can infect people. We need to know more about the use of antibiotics in the production of our meat and poultry. The results could be a matter of life and death.”
The misuse of antibiotics in livestock has now become “a direct source of foodborne illness,” EWG points out. Worse yet, because animals are given these antibiotics continuously, in low doses, pathogens are becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs, which means they no longer work to treat human disease either. The end result is that people are dying from infections that were once easily treatable.
Despite this, organic foods, which are by law produced without such pathogen-promoting methods, are the ones being consistently targeted “for safety reasons.” The truth of the matter is, conventionally grown mass-produced foods pose the greatest danger to your health, in multiple ways, and are the ones to be avoided if you’re at all concerned about food safety.
“To be safe, consumers should treat all meat as if it may be contaminated, mainly by cooking thoroughly and using safe shopping and kitchen practices (see EWG’s downloadable Tips to Avoiding Superbugs in Meat),”12 EWG suggests.13
One of the best ways to avoid contaminated meat is to avoid meat from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), aka “factory farms,” and buying organic, pastured or grass-fed meats instead. Growth promoters such as antibiotics are not permitted in organic animal farming, and organically-raised animals are also healthier as a result of being pastured, so overall you’re getting far “cleaner,” healthier meat.
Organic, Cage-Free, Free-Range, or Pasture-Raised?
When it comes to chicken, there are a number of designations floating around, such as “organic,” “free-range,” “pastured” and “cage-free.” But while you may think these are interchangeable, they’re actually not. In many ways these labels are little more than creative advertising.
The definitions of “free-range” are such that the commercial egg industry can run industrial farm egg laying facilities and still call them “free-range” eggs, despite the fact that the birds’ foraging conditions are far from what you’d call natural. For example, regulations on the use of the term “free-range” do not specify the amount of time the hens must spend outdoors or the amount of outdoor space each hen must have access to. Nor do they indicate that the hen must have access to a pasture diet.
True free-range hens (and eggs), now increasingly referred to as “pasture-raised,” are from hens that roam freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms.
Large commercial egg facilities typically house tens of thousands of hens and can even go up to hundreds of thousands of hens. Obviously they cannot allow all of them to forage freely. They can still be called “cage-free” or “free-range” though, if they’re not confined to an individual cage. But these labels say nothing about the conditions they ARE raised in, which are still deplorable. So, while flimsy definitions of “free range” and “cage-free” allow such facilities to sell their products as free range, please beware that a hen that is let outside into a barren lot for mere minutes a day, and is fed a diet of corn, soy, cottonseed meals and synthetic additives is NOT a free-range hen, and simply will not produce the same quality meat and/or eggs as its foraging counterpart.
Certified organic poultry is also the only poultry product that is 100 percent guaranteed to be antibiotic-free.14
So to summarize, what you’re really looking for is chicken and eggs that are both certified organic and true pasture-raised. Barring organic certification, which is cost-prohibitive for many small farmers, you could just make sure the farmer raises his chickens according to organic, free-range standards, allowing his flock to forage freely for their natural diet, and aren’t fed antibiotics, corn and soy. Last year, I visited Joel Salatin at his Polyface farm in Virginia. He’s truly one of the pioneers in sustainable agriculture, and you can take a virtual tour through his pasture-raised chicken farm operation in the following video.
Shopping Guidelines for Real, Health-Promoting Food
It is very difficult to control the quality of your food if you’re eating in a restaurant, which is why I recommend that you prepare the vast majority of your food yourself. If you’re going to occasionally dine out, you would be best served to avoid fast food places. Reclaiming your kitchen is part and parcel of healthful living, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. Whether you are grocery shopping or looking for dining options, the table that follows lists criteria to look for in identifying high-quality, health-promoting foods. If the food meets these criteria, it is most likely a wise choice and would fall under the designation of “real food.”
Grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods) Not genetically modified
Contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs Does not contain any artificial ingredients, including chemical preservatives
Fresh (keep in mind that if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may be the better option) Did not come from a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO)
Grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free access to the outdoors) Grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)
If you’re “hooked” on fast food and other processed foods, please review my article about how to wean yourself off fast food in seven easy steps. If you’re currently sustaining yourself on fast food and processed foods, this is probably the most positive life change you could ever make.
And if you have children, remember that feeding your children home cooked meals can have far reaching benefits, extending even to your future grandchildren. Yes, that’s right! It is now well known that dietary changes can prompt epigenetic DNA changes that can be passed on to future generations. For instance, pregnant rats fed a fatty junk food diet had daughters and granddaughters with a greater risk of breast cancer. Making wise food decisions can literally “override” genetic predispositions for disease.
Oral Myofacial Therapy—A Breakthrough Technique to Treat Symptoms Relating to Breathing Problems, TMJ, Headaches and and more…From Doc. Mercola
Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a profoundly useful treatment that may help treat the symptoms of a a wide variety of health issues, from opening airways to headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), to poor digestion, just to name a few. It may be the most profound therapy available for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, which is a pervasive problem that affects many.
Myofunctional therapy is the “neuromuscular re-education or re-patterning of the oral and facial muscles1.”
The therapy includes facial and tongue exercises and behavior modification techniques to promote proper tongue position, improved breathing, chewing, and swallowing. Proper head and neck postures are also addressed. There are good studies to substantiate that it may resolve jaw problems and orthodontic relapse working in a multi-disciplinary team.
It may also be an alternative or adjunctive treatment to facial plastic surgery, to help get rid of lines and saggy facial muscles, which is exciting. In fact, in Brazil, some myofunctional therapists work with plastic surgeons.
Joy Moeller, whom I had the good fortune of meeting as a result of an earlier interview with Carol Vander-Stoep (author of the book Mouth Matters), is a leading expert in this form of therapy in the US.
At the end of that interview with Carol, we discussed the issue of being “tongue tied,” and she happened to look into my mouth. A large population of Americans are estimated to have health problems related to poor orofacial function, and the vast majority have no idea their problems stem from the dysfunction of their mouth (primarily the tongue), breathing habit, and forward head and neck muscle function. Turns out I was one of them.
As a result, I got on a treatment plan with Joy, who is the premier expert on myofunctional therapy in the US. We’ve been doing regular Skype sessions for about the last six months, and not only am I making great progress in resolving my tongue tie, it’s had a profoundly beneficial effect on my posture and amount of deep sleep as well.
Of course, adult problems associated with tongue-tie are best prevented in infancy beginning with ensuring the normal duration of breastfeeding, however, tongue-tie often goes undetected by OBGYNs and pediatricians who, having been educated in a bottle-feeding culture, fail to connect the related breastfeeding issues. When feeding issues present, such as recurring maternal pain, thrush or mastitis, poor latch, inefficient emptying of the breast, poor infant growth, reflux, sensory issues, poor gut function and poor sleep, it is best to immediately contact an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who can do an assessment and direct you to resources for proper revision (using laser or scissors) and supportive structural therapy.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Gaining Popularity
In Brazil, a country that has really embraced this therapy and applies it in a number of medical fields, there are more than 20 universities doing PhD level research in orofacial myofunctional therapy. In the US, it’s currently a post-graduate course. Fortunately, it is gaining in popularity, and according to Joy, this year there will be a big push to get more dental hygienists, speech pathologists, and physical therapists to adopt the technique. Stanford School of Medicine has just come out with compelling research this year.
In addition to teaching with the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (AOMT) and practicing for nearly 35 years, Joy has authored 15 articles, a children’s book called Tucker the Tongue Finds His Spot, and is currently writing chapters for two textbooks. Joy encountered myofunctional therapy 35 years ago, as a result of tirelessly seeking to resolve the many health problems her young son was experiencing. At the time, she was a dental hygienist, and the dentist she worked with had taken a course in the field.
“My son had many problems. He was born through a breech birth. He had severe colic as a baby. He couldn’t latch on. He was bottle-fed and had a pacifier and a sippy cup,” she says.“By the time he was three, he had severe ADHD, and he couldn’t breathe easily. He was breathing through his mouth. He had failure to thrive. He wasn’t chewing his food properly. Everything had to be liquid or soft in order for him to eat it. By the time he was seven or eight, he had severe headaches. His headaches were so bad that he couldn’t go to school.”
She sought help from numerous doctors, from psychologists, neurologists, to vision therapists. One doctor even suggested brain surgery. Fortunately, her dentist employer finally asked to have a look at the boy and discovered his tongue placement was incorrect.
“So, we started doing these exercises,” she says. “Within three weeks, his headaches stopped completely. “
How Does Myofunctional Therapy ‘Work?’
Myofunctional therapy doesn’t just address your oral cavity and tongue—it addresses all the facial muscles; the head and neck. It teaches you to breathe through your nose and rest your tongue against the roof of your mouth. You also exercise all your facial muscles, and work on functional posturing and chewing.
“You have to look at function, the way the body functions,” Joy says. “If you’re not chewing your food enough, your body is working overtime to try to digest it. It’s having the ability for the muscles to support the [oral] arches. I see so many people that have had orthodontics, after which their teeth move. They feel it’s their fault, because they didn’t wear their retainers. However, it is because the muscles are not retaining that [position], because the muscles have not adapted to the structure.
If we can do more preventive work at a younger age to prevent the problem or the disorder (because it is a disorder even from the start), then we’re ahead of the game.”
Chewing is very important, but most people don’t chew their food enough. This may lead to poor digestion, poor nutritional uptake, and other related health problems. When you chew adequately food is not only physically broken down, thus increasing its surface area, it chemically augments the enzymatic activity of salivary amylase to partially digest starch. This enzyme works to pre-digest the food, and signal your stomach that food is “on the way.” There’s a very specific reflex that goes from your jaw, down into your stomach and digestive tract, which stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes. Unless you’re chewing, you’re not going to have optimum enzymatic power to break apart your food and metabolize it properly.
According to Joy:
“There is this condition called failure to thrive in which the child finds it difficult to chew comfortably. Our kids just stop growing like they should. Dr. Karl Nishimura, a DDS from Orange County, California states that if the tongue is not going up to the roof of the mouth when a person swallows; the sphenoid bone does not rotate properly and growth hormones are not being released from the pituitary gland. The whole pumping action of your tongue going up to the roof of your mouth during swallowing (500-1000 times a day), may help to expand the nasal cavity and also stimulate the sphenoid bone to rotate and secrete hormones from the pituitary gland.”
The pituitary gland is the master hormone gland. It secretes many different hormones that are critical for your optimal health. A major focus of myofunctional therapy is exercises that train your tongue to spontaneously rest on the roof of your mouth. Many mistakenly believe that the tongue is a muscle, but it’s actually an organ, which has very strong muscles in it. It contains one of the strongest working groups of muscles in your body. The job of the tongue is to protect the airway, encourage normal forward facial growth when postured correctly in the roof of the mouth, aid speech, and move food around when chewing.
If your tongue is restricted due to a lingual frenulum (the string underneath your tongue being too tight) you’ll have a hard time moving food into the molar area where chewing is concentrated, and consequently you will not be able to chew it properly. The tongue is also connected to the hyoid bone which is in your neck, so if your tongue is not functioning properly, it may lead to forward-head posturing. In this position your tongue is resting down and forward, and it’s just enough to pull your entire head forward, thus throwing you out of balance.
Many Have a Disorder That May Benefit from Myofunctional Therapy
A large percentage of people have some type of oral-facial disorder that would benefit from myofunctional therapy. The reason for such high numbers is because so many people have been exposed to situations that prevent their tongues from functioning correctly and naturally. Such items include:
Thumb and/or Digit / non-nutritive sucking habits
Processed foods (even baby foods)
According to researchers from Albert Einstein University, when a child mouth breathes this in turn may lead to learning disabilities and behavior problems due to lack of oxygen to your brain. Mouth breathing also promotes allergies and other common ailments. Once your tongue doesn’t function properly, it may also affect your oral posture and your ability to breathe correctly as it may cause your airway to collapse. More importantly, mouth breathing encourages a low tongue posture
“Everybody is going to the gym now, working out, lifting weights, but they forget about their face muscles,” Joy says. “Your face and tongue muscles are so important, because they influence your ability to speak, chew, swallow, and breathe correctly. It’s so critical.”
Why You Should Consider a Myofunctional Therapist
The initial myofunctional therapy evaluation is extensive, starting with an in-depth look at habits, such as: Is the cat sleeping with you? What temperature do you keep your bedroom at during sleep? Do you consume dairy products? Seemingly innocent factors such as these can cause one to mouth breathe. Experiencing frequent nosebleeds, colds, or wearing ill fitting glasses that slip down your nose can also “teach” you to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose.
This initial evaluation is very important in order to devise an effective treatment protocol. There are hundreds of exercises, and each individual is unique. It’s a grave mistake to think that you can just do a few basic exercises from a book for a few weeks and be done. In order to really repattern all the muscles involved, you need to do it slowly, over time, to reprogram your muscle memory.
“You really need somebody to support you over time in order for it to hold. Otherwise, just like everything else, in two years, it’ll relapse. We have to look at everything,” Joy says.
So, we will not be posting a series of simple exercises to solve your problems. Rather, I would urge you to find a trained therapist who can customize the exercises based on your specific anatomy, and enter into a long-term coaching relationship. I hired Joy to work with me for a full year. As explained by Joy:
“Each person is like a snowflake, they’re different. There are different parts to the therapy. We have to sequentially activate the orofacial muscles. The first part is just for all the muscles working to get the lips to stay together. We activate the masseter muscles in a symmetrical pattern and develop nasal breathing as primary by developing a lip seal and a palatal tongue rest position… I use some of the Buteyko breathing exercises as well. The Buteyko Breathing Method is a powerful set of health-care guidelines and methodology for reversing over-breathing or hyperventilation. I incorporate the breathing exercises into my therapy.
The second part is actually chewing (being able to masticate and manipulate the food in the correct place), and swallowing, where your tongue is going up and back rather than down and forward. In order to habituate this even in our sleep, we must swallow correctly.
We can then work more aggressively on functional posturing. If someone is sitting with a forward upward tilted head, it’s virtually impossible to swallow comfortably. A forward head posture causes an alteration in the swallowing mechanism due to muscle tension. We can correct the actual functional posturing, give you exercises, and make you aware of where your tongue is at all times. Pretty soon, correct tongue posture becomes a habit. It becomes a different function that your body adapts to.
Another one of our goals is to get your lips closed all the time, except when you’re speaking or eating Your nose’s primary function is inhaling oxygen, followed by filtering air, warming, and moisturizing it, and also killing micro-organisms with the natural production of nitric oxide.There’s also an enzyme that’s excreted by the little hairs in your nose that actually has an anti-allergy effect on the body. Actually, it’s healthier to breathe through your nose on every level because your body gets more usable oxygen thus maintaniing a more normal carbon dioxide level which is better.”
Many Health Professionals are Starting to See the Benefits of Myofunctional Therapy
Orofacial myofunctional therapy can be used in a number of areas to address a wide range of problems. It’s an obvious fit for speech pathologists, for example. If your tongue is restricted, or if you’re swallowing down and forward, you’re going to talk with the “S” lisp. If the sides of your tongue are not activated, you’re going to sound a bit like Donald Duck when pronouncing words like “sucker” or “succotash.” This happens because the sides of your tongue are too lax. By tightening, toning, and re-patterning the muscles of your tongue, it will enhance some speech disorders. Physical therapists are also learning about its benefits.
“In the last class that we did, we had three physical therapists who were so excited because they had TMJ problems themselves, and they’ve worked for over 20 years in TMJ treatment for jaw problems,” she says. “They knew that there was something with the tongue, but they didn’t know how to fix it. They’re starting to get involved in it now.”
Dental hygienists are another obvious “fit” for myofunctional therapy, as mouth-breathing is one major cause of dental diseases. According to Joy, who has a background as a dental hygienist, it’s one of the major causes of periodontal disease, malocclusion and decay. The bacteria in your mouth need air to live, so when mouth breathing, or just resting with your mouth open; you’re supplying them with much-needed oxygen. This makes them stronger and more virulent, and the plaque and biofilms they form is much thicker. Also, if a person is mouth breathing, the tongue drops down and the arches may collapse, leading to crooked teeth.
Might Myofunctonal Therapy Benefit You?
Some of the risk factors indicating you might be able to benefit from this approach include those on the following list (please note this is not an all-inclusive listing). Interestingly, if you consume a high-sugar diet, the myofunctional therapy treatment is not going to be as effective because of your ability to focus and have strong muscles. So, if you decide to enter into a coaching relationship with an myofunctional therapist, please be sure to pay careful attention to your diet as well, as this could have a huge impact on your results.
Orthodontic Relapse Bottle Feeding Developmental delays, such as low muscle tone Long Face syndrome
Speech problems Allergies Frequent headaches TMJ problems
Thumb sucking Bloating due to air swallowing Food texture sensitivities Neck pain
Nail or lip biting or other oral habits Frequent choking, gagging or trouble swallowing Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea Snoring
Simple Techniques to Try Right Now
While I highly recommend working with a trained myofunctional therapy professional, there are some simple techniques you can do without seeing anyone. One of the most important ones is to simply sleep on your back, as this helps your posture and helps open up your airway so you can breathe better. If you have sleep apnea or GERD, just raise the headboard of your bed the size of a brick so that your tongue does not drop into your airway. Also sugar is refined and people do not have to chew to break down the food. Unrefined foods must be chewed more and therefore the muscles are working. Another one is to stop touching your face, and instead remember to keep your tongue firmly placed against the roof of your mouth.
“People have a tendency to do like the thinker, leaning, just touching and playing with their hair, biting their lips, and all these little habits. They don’t realize what they’re doing is they’re trying to get that remembered endorphin feeling, as in thumb sucking because it feels good to touch your hair or your face. When you exhibit these habits, you affect your posture and put pressure on your jaw or face and distract the muscle function.”
As explained earlier, if your tongue is functioning in the right place, the result will help maintain proper development of the arches, thus encouraging the teeth to line up correctly and enhance the ability to breathe properly. You want your tongue to rest behind the first ridge on the roof of your mouth. All those ridges on the roof of your mouth is the natural resting place of your tongue. Some people have very sharp ridges as a result of it not resting there.
“If your tongue is resting in between your teeth, or against your teeth, or when you swallow it’s pushing or it’s resting down in the floor of your mouth, it may prevent your jaw joints from functioning normally.,” Joy explains.
“A lot of people have this TMD pain and headaches that radiate from the TMJ. They may have had a splint or some kind of an appliance fitted. Sometimes this treatment may help, and sometimes it doesn’t because of the associated patterning of muscles. According to Oral Pain Management Specialists, at least 90 percent of TMJ problems are related to the muscles (not working right), because of habits or because of swallowing disorders.”
Grinding and clenching your teeth is another sign you may need to retrain your orofacial muscles. Grinding is often related to some form of sleep disorder. It’s an upper airway obstruction that the body attempts to move the jaws in order to open the airway because things aren’t functioning properly. To get all your oral-facial and neck muscles working correctly can make a huge difference. It will also change the way your face looks, as it actually may change the facial structure. Your skull bones may shift in a slow, comfortable manner.
“Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, your face is your face.’ But you know, I see a lot of people that have these long-face syndromes from sleeping on their sides or stomach, mouth-breathing, and resting their tongue in the wrong place. You change that and there are little cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts. They break down and build up, break down and build up, and within a very short time – months – the whole shape of their face changes.”
How to Find an Myofunctional Therapsit
The Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (AOMT) has developed a website where you will be able to find both training schedules for professionals seeking education, and a listing of qualified practitioners worldwide. The name of the site is www.myoacademy.com. In the meantime, you can also review Joy’s personal website, www.myofunctional-therapy.com.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to find a practitioner in your local area, as nowadays the therapy sessions can be done via Skype, using the video feature. We do all our sessions via Skype privately. In the US, there are as many as a few hundred practitioners. However, stay clear of anyone who is just going to give you a page from a book. That doesn’t work. Make sure the therapist you select is going to give you a thorough evaluation and customize the exercises to your needs. Joy recommends looking for someone with a health background who has taken a continuing education course in Myofunctional Therapy, such as:
Dentist, orthodontist, or dental hygienist
Sleep medicine doctor
Physical and/or occupational therapist
There is also a great group of people who are interested in finding help with airway problems that traditional care may leave unanswered. The American Association of Physiological Medicine & Dentistry (AAPMD) is a multidisciplinary group formed to build a bridge between physicians, dentists, other health care practitioners and the public to provide integrated care for children and adults.
Life is a journey, and I’m constantly learning new information. Here, at the age of nearly 60, I finally found out about myofunctional therapy, and it’s making a major health difference for me. I’m deeply grateful for all that Joy has taught me, and for her persistence and dedication over these last three and a half decades to help increase the awareness of this profoundly effective approach.
Ultimately, you can have the best health, you can eat an absolutely perfect diet, or you can have the perfect exercise plan, but if you’re not sleeping, breathing and chewing well, it’s physically impossible to be optimally healthy. Fortunately, it’s never too late. No matter what your age, you can retrain your oral-facial and neck muscles to help you achieve better sleep and proper breathing and digestion.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. This fatal and progressive condition destroys brain cells, resulting in memory loss and severe thinking and behavioral problems (aggression, delusions, and hallucinations) that interfere with daily life and activities.
The cause is conventionally believed to be a mystery. While we know that certain diseases, like type 2 diabetes, are definitively connected to the foods you eat, Alzheimer’s is generally thought to strike without warning or reason.
That is, until recently.
A growing body of research suggests there may be a powerful connection between the foods you eat and your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, via similar pathways that cause type 2 diabetes. Some have even re-named Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes.”
Top Dietary Factor Now Implicated in Skyrocketing Dementia Rates
Faulty insulin (and leptin), signaling caused by a high non-fiber carb diet is an underlying cause of insulin resistance, which, of course, typically leads to type 2 diabetes. However, while insulin is usually associated with its role in keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, it also plays a role in brain signaling.
In a 2012 animal study,1 researchers were able to induce dementia by disrupting the proper signaling of insulin in the brain.
All in all, it seems clear that your diet plays a tremendous part in Alzheimer’s, and the low-fat craze may have wrought more havoc than anyone could ever have imagined. It was the absolute worst recommendation possible, limiting the nutrient you, and your brain, need the most in your diet.
The disease is currently at epidemic proportions, with 5.4 million Americans — including one in eight people aged 65 and over — living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans. If that comes to pass, it would then be more prevalent than obesity and diabetes is today!
How Carbohydrates Can Activate Disease Processes
Dr. Ron Rosedale, a prominent expert in the low-carb, high-quality fat approach to improving your health, was possibly the first person to advocate both a low-carb and moderate protein (and therefore high fat) diet. Most low-carb advocates were very accepting of, if not promoting, high protein, and protein was, and still is, often recommended as a replacement for the carbs.
However, a high-fat, low-carb diet is very different than a high-protein, low-carb diet and this is a major source of confusion by both the public and researchers when doing studies and publishing conclusions as if all low-carb diets are the same.
You cannot live without protein, as it’s a main component of your body, including muscles, bones, and many hormones. We also know that protein was instrumental in advancing our intelligence. However, most people today are indulging in hormone laced, antiobiotic loaded meats conveniently available at fast food restaurants and processed meats in grocery stores.
How Much Protein is ‘Enough?’
Dr. Rosedale believes the average amount of protein recommended for most adults is about one gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass, or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. (As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight.
If your total weight is 200 pounds, you would divide 160 by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms and come up with 72.7 grams of protein. If you are doing vigorous exercises or are pregnant you can add up to another 25 percent or another 18 grams in this illustration to increase your total to 90 grams per day.)
This is something that makes sense to me and something I seek to apply personally, but this is partly because I foolishly had my amalgam fillings removed 20 years ago by a non-biologically trained dentist that caused serious kidney damage, so I can’t tolerate high levels of protein anyway. However, it seems obvious to me that most people consume too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat.
So it would make sense that the majority of your diet should be comprised of good fats, followed by good proteins like whey protein concentrate from grass-fed cows, and organic grass-fed beef, pastured organic eggs and chicken, and fish like wild caught salmon.
Your healthiest option is to ensure your carbs come primarily from fresh, organic vegetables, high-quality protein, and eat primary a high fat diet. Depending on the type of carbs (high fiber or not), most people need anywhere between 50-75 percent fat in their diet and sometimes even higher for optimal health.
Another Brain-Boosting Alternative: Intermittent Fasting
Recent research has also shown that intermittent fasting triggers a variety of health-promoting hormonal and metabolic changes similar to those of constant calorie restriction — including reduced age-related brain shrinkage. According to Professor Mark Mattson,2 head of neuroscience at the U.S. National Institute on Ageing:
“Suddenly dropping your food intake dramatically — cutting it by at least half for a day or so — triggers protective processes in the brain.”
He likens the effects to those from exercise, stating intermittent fasting could help protect your brain against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Constant calorie restriction typically includes restriction of protein, and as discussed above, some of the beneficial effects of calorie restriction may actually be due to the reduction in protein. Likewise, intermittent fasting, where meals are either restricted to a small window of time each day, or calories are restricted on specific days of the week, will also typically lead to a reduction in the amount of protein you consume.
Again, going back to the featured study, the animals were only given a protein-restricted diet every other week for four months — essentially, they were on an intermittent fasting-type diet. So we’re not promoting going vegan here. Just cutting your protein back to what your body really needs, and no more. The science on this is relatively new and there are many different protocols but I personally have evolved to the point where I do it on most days. I will make exceptions a few times a month.
Alzheimer’s Might be ‘Brain Diabetes’
No discussion of brain health can be complete without emphasizing the need to dramatically cut down on the sugars in your diet. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the same pathological process that leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may also hold true for your brain. As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of sugar and insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage.
You may already know I have become passionate about warning of the dangers of fructose. There is NO question in my mind that consuming more than 25 grams of fructose regularly will dramatically increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Consistently consuming too much fructose will inevitably wreak havoc on your body’s ability to regulate proper insulin levels.
Additionally, fructose has other modes of neurotoxicity, including causing damage to the circulatory system upon which the health of your nervous system depends, as well as profoundly changing your brain’s craving mechanism, often resulting in excessive hunger and subsequent consumption of additional empty carbohydrate-based calories. In one study3 from UCLA, researchers found that rats fed a fructose-rich and omega-3 fat deficient diet (similar to what is consumed by many Americans) developed both insulin resistance and impaired brain function in just six weeks.
More Tips for Avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease
The beauty of following my newly revised Nutrition Plan is that it helps treat and prevent all chronic degenerative diseases, from the common ones like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s to the ones you have never heard of or can’t even pronounce. It is divided into three helpful sections, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced to help you start at the right level.
The plan is the first step in addressing Alzheimer’s disease. In spite of how common memory loss is among Westerners, it is NOT a “normal” part of aging. While even mild “senior moments” may be caused by the same brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, these cognitive changes are by no means inevitable! People who experience very little decline in their cognitive function up until their deaths have been found (post-mortem) to be free of brain lesions, showing that it’s entirely possible to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place… and one of the best ways to do this is by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Limit fructose. Most people will benefit from keeping their total fructose consumed below 25 grams per day.
Only use moderate amounts of protein. The featured studies provide compelling evidence that in most cases you will want to limit your protein to the levels discussed in the article. Most people consume 200-300 percent more protein than their body can use and the altered metabolism and metabolic breakdown products can be pernicious to human health.
Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain barrier, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition.
Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer’s patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed.4 Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.
Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer’s.
Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3. This is indirectly related to fructose, as it will clearly lead to insulin resistance. However other sugars (sucrose is 50 percent fructose by weight), grains and lack of exercise are also important factors.
Vitamin B12. According to a small Finnish study recently published in the journal Neurology,5 people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin) the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent. Very high doses of B vitamins have also been found to treat Alzheimer’s disease and reduce memory loss.
Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate, such as the one described in my nutrition plan. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.
High-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (I recommend avoiding regular consumption of most fish because, although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish are now severely contaminated with mercury.) High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
Coconut Oil may offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. One of the primary fuels your brain uses is glucose, which is converted into energy. When your brain becomes insulin resistant, atrophy due to starvation can occur. However, ketone bodies, or ketoacids can also feed your brain, perhaps better, and prevent brain atrophy. It may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in patients affected by diabetes or Alzheimer’s.
Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil.
Astaxanthin is a natural pigment with unique properties and many clinical benefits, including some of the most potent antioxidant activity currently known. As a fat-soluble nutrient, astaxanthin readily crosses your blood-brain barrier. One study6 found it may help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress, as well as make a potent natural “brain food.”
Eat plenty of blueberries. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanidin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Gingko biloba: Many scientific studies have found that Ginkgo biloba has positive effects for dementia. Gingko, which is derived from a tree native to Asia, has long been used medicinally in China and other countries. Sixteen years ago, in one of the first issues of my newsletter, I posted the results of a 1997 study from JAMA that showed clear evidence that Ginkgo improves cognitive performance and social functioning for those suffering from dementia. Research since then has been equally promising. One study in 2006 found Gingko as effective as the dementia drug Aricept (donepezil) for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s type dementia. A 2010 meta-analysis found Gingko biloba to be effective for a variety of types of dementia.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can help stabilize cognitive functions among Alzheimer’s patients and may slow the progression of the disease.
Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
Avoid aluminum, such as antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc.
Exercise regularly. It’s been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,7 thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has also shown that people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brains8 and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s. I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.
Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Avoid anticholinergic and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.
Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.
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Infections associated with antibiotic resistant “super germs” are increasing in hospitals across the United States. First it was MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), once rare but now far too commonplace in medical settings.
Although mortality rates have decreased, MRSA is believed to kill 18,650 people each year in the US, which is more than are killed by AIDS.1 But recently, concerns have shifted to even more dangerous bacteria called CRE.
When bacteria such as Klebsiella produce the enzyme carbapenemase (referred to as KPC-producing organisms), the class of antibiotics called carbapenems will not kill them, giving rise to the name carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.2 CRE has been dubbed a “nightmare bacteria” by the CDC’s Director Tom Frieden because of their extreme resilience—it’s nearly impossible to kill them.
These super germs pose a triple-threat that makes them nearly impossible to kill with conventional antibiotics:3
CRE are resistant to virtually all antibiotics, including the ones doctors use as a last-ditch effort to treat an infection
The organisms can transfer their virility to other bacteria, making containment much more of a challenge.
CRE bacterial infections are quite deadly, with a fatality rate as high as 50 percent.
According to a CDC Fact Sheet:4
About four percent of US hospitals had at least one patient with CRE infections during the first half of 2012, and about 18 percent of long-term care hospitals had at least one case of CRE
CRE germs have increased from one to four percent over the past decade, and one type has increased from two to 10 percent
These nightmare bacteria have now been confirmed in medical facilities in 42 states over the past ten years5
The Star of This Horror Show: Klebsiella
Klebsiella6 are Gram-negative bacteria that can cause a number of different infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis. Klebsiella are often found in the human intestinal tract, where they are normally harmless. But if your immune system is compromised and you get exposed to this especially virulent form of Klebsiella, the consequences to you can be deadly. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible. Factors that may increase your risk include the following:
Hospitalization (especially in an ICU), major surgery, or severe illness
Prolonged use of invasive medical devices
Immunocompromised states (e.g., diabetes, cancer, poor diet, excess stress)
Antimicrobial therapy (by killing the weaker microbes, which allows the more virulent types to flourish)
Inadequate infection control practices
According to the CDC, Klebsiella infections tend to occur in patients whose care requires medical devices such as ventilators and IV catheters. The infection is spread by contaminated medical equipment and by physical contact between patients and healthcare personnel. These superbugs are growing increasingly resistant to the standard sterilization procedures used on medical equipment.
According to Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, if these bacteria spread to more common organisms such as E. coli, which are common causes of urinary tract infections, then the problem will be far more serious than it is now. And if the hypervirulent organisms make their way into the general public, we’ll really have a problem on our hands.
Well, it appears that may already be happening.
According to an article in Science Daily,7 drug-resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae have been identified in several North American cities (including Buffalo, New York) and in Europe, Canada, Israel, and South Africa. University of Buffalo researchers characterize it as “under-recognized” by both physicians and microbiology laboratories. Infections typically present as a liver abscess in young and healthy people in the community, then tends to spread to other areas of their body, such as their lungs, brain and eyes, where it can cause brain damage and/or blindness. Between 10 and 30 percent of cases are fatal, which is a frighteningly high number for an otherwise healthy population!
What’s Fueling the Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs?
In order to effectively combat this issue, it’s important to realize that antibiotic-resistant infections are a man-made problem caused by overuse of antibiotics both in medicine and agriculture. It’s not merely lack of hygiene or improper disinfection techniques that have made these superbugs impervious to nearly all of the drugs at our disposal. Superbugs have been known to survive on medical equipment that’s been disinfected with bleach!
About 70 percent of antibiotic use in the United States is for agricultural purposes. Animals are often fed low-dose antibiotics to prevent diseases and promote growth, and not only are those antibiotics transferred to you via your meat and even manure used for fertilizer but they also result in producing a highly antibiotic-resistant subpopulation of bacteria that end up on and within your food and eventually your body if you eat it.
The antibiotic resistance problem is abundantly evident when you look at what’s commonly found in grocery store meat and poultry—nearly half of the meat in the US is crawling with antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
The prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock is unnecessary if the animals are raised correctly. One chicken farmer has demonstrated that even large-scale animal farming can manage without routine administration of antibiotic drugs by instead using an herbal blend of oregano oil and cinnamon.
Antibiotic overuse is a major threat to public health. Recent research shows children whose mothers took antibiotics during their pregnancies were more likely to develop asthma. It is also well known that the use of intrapartum antibiotics at birth in women who have tested positive for group B Streptoccous results in significantly increased risk of late-onset, serious antibiotic-resistant infection in those infants.8
A baby gets his or her first “inoculation” of gut flora from the mother’s birth canal during childbirth, which is why a mother’s use of antibiotics during pregnancy or at birth may predispose her child to asthma and a variety of other ailments, including neurological dysfunction and autoimmune disorders. You can help yourself and your community by using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and by purchasing organic, antibiotic-free meats and other foods.
IF You are Hospitalized, These Vital Strategies Could Save Your Life
Download Interview Transcript
In the US, more than two million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year, and 100,000 people die as a result. According to the 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study,9 the rate of medical harm exceeds 40,000 incidents per day.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of requiring hospitalization, then I strongly suggest being proactive in your care. There are strategies you can use to minimize your chances for adverse events related to your hospital stay. A good start is to listen to my interview with Dr. Andrew Saul, linked above, who is an expert on this matter. You might want to purchase a copy of the book he co-authored, Hospitals and Health.
Ideally, you should always have a personal advocate with you when you’re in a hospital—someone who can look after your best interests in the event you’re unable to speak for yourself. Understand that you, the patient, are the most powerful entity within the entire hospital system. However, the system works on the assumption that the patient will not claim that power. Knowing your rights and responsibilities can help ensure your hospital stay is a safe and healing one.
Protecting Yourself from CRE and Other Deadly Infections
The key to protecting yourself from infections of all kinds is twofold: first, you must optimize your immune system, and the second part is minimizing your exposure to infectious agents. As stated above, keep your antibiotic drug use to a minimum, avoiding them whenever possible, including those making their way into your food supply.
If you do truly require antibiotics, then take them exactly as prescribed. Insist that all medical personnel and visitors wash their hands before touching you or handling medical equipment that will touch you. Refrain from touching other patients, and if you do, make sure your hands are clean. Wash you hands often, including after the following:
After using the restroom, or ideally use a bidet so you don’t even have to touch your rectal area. The bidet will clean it far cleaner than paper and you only have to dry yourself.
Before preparing or eating food.
Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and after coughing or sneezing or blowing your nose.
Before and after touching wound dressings or bandages.
After touching hospital surfaces such as bed rails, bedside tables, doorknobs, remote controls, or your phone.
Fending off Super Germs Means Supercharging Your Immune System
Your lifestyle choices are the most critical factors in determining the health of your immune system, which determines your ability to resist infections. The stronger your immune defenses, the less chance a microbe will have of gaining a foothold in some part of your body. Below are some basic strategies for supercharging your immune system. You may also want to download my free special report about how to protect yourself from super germs.
Optimize your diet. Avoid foods that tax your immune system such as synthetic trans fats, fried foods, processed foods, sugar and grains; reduce carbohydrates (sugar, grains, fructose) and protein, replacing them with high-quality fats. Fifty to 70 percent of your total intake should be fat. Most of your diet should be fresh, whole foods, like organic vegetables and grass-pastured meats and dairy, and beneficial fats, such as butter and fermented dairy from grass-pastured animals, cheese, egg yolks, and avocados.
A great portion of your immune system resides in your GI tract, which depends on a healthy, balanced gut flora. One of the best ways to support this is by incorporating naturally fermented foods into your diet, working up to 4-6 ounces per day. One large serving of several ounces of fermented foods can supply you with around 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, which is about 10 percent of the population of your gut.
The best way to learn how to ferment foods properly is to get the GAPS book or listen to my interview with Caroline Barringer. You can take a high quality probiotic supplement, but the actual fermented foods offer the highest benefit.
Exercise regularly. Exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and eliminating pathogens in your body. Make sure your fitness plan incorporates weight training, high intensity exercises, stretching and core work.
Get plenty of restorative sleep. Recent research shows sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or disease, which is why you may feel ill after a sleepless night.
Have good stress-busting outlets. High levels of stress hormones can diminish your immunity, so be sure you’re implementing some sort of stress management. Meditation, prayer, yoga, and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are all excellent strategies for managing stress, but you’ll have to find what works best for you.
Optimize your vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that inadequate vitamin D can increase your risk for MRSA and other infections, which can likely be extended to other superbugs. Your best source of vitamin D is through exposing your skin to the sun or using a safe tanning bed. Monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm they’re in the therapeutic range, 50-70 ng/ml. If you can’t get UV exposure, consider taking an oral vitamin D supplement.
In addition to the basic lifestyle measures listed above, there are several natural agents that science has shown to be naturally antibacterial. The following deserve special mention.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C’s role in preventing and treating infectious disease is well established. Intravenous vitamin C is an option, but if you don’t have access to a practitioner who can administer it, liposomal vitamin C is the most potent oral form. For more information on vitamin C, listen to my interview with Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized vitamin C expert. If you chose to use supplement vitamin C liposomal C seems to be the best form to use.
Garlic. Garlic is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It can stimulate your immune system, help wounds heal, and kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria (including MRSA and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis), plus has shown more than a hundred other health promoting properties.10 For highest potency, the garlic should be eaten fresh and raw (chopped or smashed.)
Olive leaf extract. In vitro studies show olive leaf extract is effective against Klebsiella, inhibiting its replication, in addition to being toxic to other pathogenic microbes.
Manuka honey. Manuka honey, made from the flowers and pollen of the Manuka bush, has been shown to be more effective than antibiotics in the treatment of serious, hard-to-heal skin infections. Clinical trials have found Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties such as MRSA.
Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic proven to kill many bacterial strains (including MRSA).11, 12
Colloidal silver. Colloidal silver has been regarded as an effective natural antibiotic for centuries, and recent research shows it can even help eradicate antibiotic-resistant pathogens. If you are interested in this treatment, make sure you read the latest guidelines for safe usage of colloidal silver as there are risks with using it improperly.
Copper. Replacing fixtures with certain copper alloys can help kill bacteria, even superbugs. Installing copper faucets, light switches, toilet seats and push plates in germ-infested areas such as hospitals and nursing homes could potentially save thousands of lives each year.