The fear of losing cognitive ability tends to overshadow the fear of physical disability; 60 percent of American adults say they are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about memory loss.1
Chances are, you’re among this majority. The good news is that your brain is a dynamic organ, constantly adapting and changing, for better or for worse.
While some activities, such as lack of sleep, can have a detrimental effect on your memory and brain function, a healthy lifestyle will support your brain health over the long haul, and can even encourage your brain to grow new neurons—a process known as neurogenesis or neuroplasticity.
This phenomenon was not known when I was in medical school. Back then, we were taught that the loss of brain cells was an irreversible condition and there was nothing you could do to change it.
It’s Never Too Late for Your Brain to Regenerate Brain Cells
Your brain’s hippocampus, i.e. your memory center, is particularly adaptable and capable of growing new cells throughout your entire lifetime, even into your 90s, provided you give it the tools to do so!
For example, one year-long study found that adults who exercised were actually enlarging their brain’s memory center by one to two percent per year, where typically that center declines in size with age.
According to John J. Ratey, a psychiatrist who wrote the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, there’s overwhelming evidence that exercise produces large cognitive gains and helps fight dementia. Indeed, research has shown that exercise helps protect your brain by:
•Improving and increasing blood flow to your brain
•Increasing production of nerve-protecting compounds
•Improving development and survival of neurons
•Altering the way damaging proteins reside inside your brain, which appears to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
In animal studies, significantly fewer damaging plaques and fewer beta-amyloid peptides, associated with Alzheimer’s, were found in mice that exercised. Diet, sleep, and exercise are three lifestyle factors that can significantly influence your brain health and memory. Here, we’ll discuss the influence of exercise, as recent research has again confirmed its ability to improve memory.
One way by which exercise benefits your memory is by prompting nerve cells to release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. These growth factors signal brain stem cells and muscle satellite cells to convert into new neurons and new muscle cells respectively.
This in part explains how exercise benefits both your muscles and your brain at the same time. One growth factor in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning. Fasting also triggers BDNF, and in combination (i.e. exercising while fasting) can go a long way toward keeping your brain, neuromotors, and muscle fibers biologically young.
Lifting Weights Improves Memory, Study Shows
A 2010 study2 on primates revealed that regular exercise helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys. This is a benefit the researchers believed would hold true for people as well. More recently, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta found that a mere 20 minute weight training session could improve long-term memory in the participants. You can see that in the above video.
According to lead researcher Lisa Weinberg: “Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost.” In this experiment, 46 volunteers were randomly assigned to one of two groups—one active, and one passive. Initially, all of the participants viewed a series of 90 images, classified as either positive, neutral, or negative. Afterward, they were asked to recall as many images as they could.
Next, the active group was told to do 50 leg extensions at personal maximum effort using a resistance exercise machine. The passive participants were asked to simply sit and let the machine move their leg for them. Two days later, the participants were again shown a series of images, including ones they’d not seen previously. Interestingly, even though it was two days since they performed the leg extensions, those in the active group had markedly improved image recall. As reported by Medical News Today:3
“The researchers found about 50 percent of the original photos were recalled by the passive group, while the active group remembered about 60 percent of the images. All of the participants were better at recalling the positive and negative images than the neutral images, but this was even more true for the active participants. The researchers suggest that this is because people are more likely to remember emotional experiences following short-term stress.
The team believes their results are consistent with previous research in a rodent model that found stress responses result in releases of norepinephrine – a hormone that may improve memory… The Georgia Tech study looked at weight exercises, but… other forms of resistance exercise – such as squats or knee bends – would most likely produce similar results.”
Exercise Builds New Brain Cells and Boosts Brain Performance
The hippocampus belongs to the more ancient part of your brain known as the limbic system, and plays an important role in the consolidation of information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory, as well as spatial navigation. Previous animal research4 has found that not only does exercise activate hippocampal neurons, it actually promotes their growth. In one study,5 exercising mice grew an average of 6,000 new brain cells in every cubic millimeter of tissue sampled. The growth occurred in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain, and the mice showed significant improvements in the ability to recall memories without any confusion. A number of other studies have investigated the impact of exercise on brain performance and IQ. Some of the research highlights6 include:
•Among elementary school students, 40 minutes of daily exercise increased IQ by an average of nearly four points
•Among 6th graders, the fittest students scored 30 percent higher than average students, and the less fit students scored 20 percent lower
•Among older students, those who play vigorous sports have a 20 percent improvement in Math, Science, English, and Social Studies
•Students who exercised before class improved test scores 17 percent, and those who worked out for 40 minutes improved an entire letter grade
•Employees who exercise regularly are 15 percent more efficient than those who do not, which means a fit employee only needs to work 42.5 hours in a week to do the same work as an average employee does in 50
Exercising After Studying Boosts Retention
In a Danish study,7 published in 2012, men were asked to learn a tracking skill on a computer, which required them to use a joystick to trace a red line as it squiggled across the screen. Some of the men exercised before learning the new task, some did no physical exercise at all, and some exercised just after learning the new skill. At follow-up testing an hour later, the men’s performance remained about the same, but as the experiment went on, those who exercised gained a clear advantage. Those who fared the best belonged to the group who exercised just after learning the task.
At testing sessions one day, and then one week, later, they traced the line more accurately and with greater agility. The group that exercised prior to learning the new skill also performed better than those who didn’t exercise (though not as well as the group that exercised after). It appears, then, that if you want to help strengthen your memory, the new information you’re receiving can be more successfully imprinted into your brain for later recall if you work out immediately following your study session.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Strength Training Routine
The type of exercise program that will benefit your brain is identical to the one that will benefit the rest of your body. Ideally, you’d want to strive for a comprehensive routine that includes high-intensity interval exercise (HIIT), strength training, core work, and regular intermittent movement to avoid the hazards associated with prolonged sitting. If you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve sat too long. Stretching is also important, especially if you’re doing sprints.
High intensity exercises form the core of my Peak Fitness program and can be done using a number of different machines, such as a recumbent bike or an elliptical, or you can do sprints. HIIT maximizes your secretion of human growth hormone (HGH), optimizes your metabolism, and helps regulate your insulin and blood sugar. And nothing beats it in terms of efficiency. You can complete an entire Peak Fitness workout in 20 minutes or less. For detailed instructions and a demonstration, please see my previous article, “High Intensity Interval Training 101.”
You can also turn your strength training routine into a high intensity exercise by slowing it down. This technique offers the same benefits as other high intensity exercises, and may actually be even more beneficial in some ways. It’s a particularly well-suited form of high intensity exercise for older individuals. Super-slow weight training is safer than conventional weight lifting as it actively prevents you from accidentally harming your joints or suffering repetitive use injury.
In the video below, I discuss and demonstrate the proper execution of a number of different super-slow weight training exercises. They can all be done using either free weights or machines. The benefit of using a quality machine is that it will allow you to focus your mind on the effort, as opposed on the movement. The typical super-slow resistance workout can be completed in about 15 minutes. Just one or two of these workouts are needed each week, as you need to make sure you’re sufficiently recovered.
Download Interview Transcript
Your Brain Craves Regular Activity
If you work out religiously for three months, then suddenly stop for an extended period, your muscle tone isn’t the only thing that will suffer. Your brain will too. Two studies presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience revealed just how quickly the brain benefits of exercise fade if your exercise program stops.8
In the first study, active rats that had a week of inactivity were pitted against completely inactive rats while performing memory tests. The previously active rats completed the tests much faster and had at least twice as many new neurons in the hippocampus region of their brains. But remember, this was after just one week of inactivity. At three weeks of inactivity, their new neurons began to decrease, as did their performance on the memory test. After six weeks of inactivity, the neurons declined even more, as did their memory test scores, leading the study authors to suggest the “exercise-induced benefits may be transient.”
In the second study, rats that were active for 10 weeks, followed by three weeks of inactivity, had brains that were nearly identical to those of rats that had been completely inactive. The bottom line is that your brain needs regular, ongoing physical activity, not just a brief stint here and there. The same can be said for your body, as mounting research now shows that bouts of exercise, even when done regularly, cannot counteract the ill effects of many hours’ worth of sitting. So another key for overall health is to avoid sitting as much as possible. At minimum, strive to move about or stand up for 5-10 minutes for every hour of sitting.
The public conversation about whether we should have the freedom to choose how we want to maintain our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health has become one of the most important public conversations of our time.
It is a conversation that challenges us to examine complex public policy, scientific, ethical, legal, philosophical, economic, political, and cultural issues.
This may appear to be a new conversation but it has been around for centuries.1 At the center of this new and old public conversation about health and freedom, is the topic of vaccination.2, 3
What unites those defending an open discussion about vaccination and health is a commitment to protecting bodily integrity4, 5 and defending the inalienable right to self-determination,6 which has been globally acknowledged as a human right.7, 8, 9
Whether you are a health care professional practicing complementary and alternative medicine or specializing in homeopathic, naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, or other holistic health options,10 or you are a consumer advocate working for the right to know and freedom to choose how you and your family will stay well, many of you have a deep concern about health and freedom.
Vaccination: Most Hotly Debated of All Health Freedom Issues
The most divisive and hotly debated of all health freedom issues is the question of whether individuals should be at liberty to dissent from established medical and government health policy and exercise freedom of thought, speech, and conscience when it comes to vaccination.11, 12, 13
In the health freedom movement, there are some who will defend the legal right to purchase and use nutritional supplements, drink raw milk, eat GMO-free food, remove fluoride from public water systems and mercury from dental amalgams, or choose non-medical model options for healing and staying well, but are reluctant to publicly support the legal right to make vaccine choices.
A Sacrosanct Status for Vaccination
Vaccination is a medical procedure that has been elevated to a sacrosanct status by those in control of the medical-model based health care system for the past two centuries. Vaccination is now being proclaimed as the most important scientific discovery and public health intervention in the history of medicine.14, 15, 16
Using religious symbols and crusading language, medical scientists describe vaccination as the Holy Grail.17, 18, 19, 20 Vaccines, they say, are going to eradicate all causes of sickness and death from the earth and anyone who doubts that is an ignorant fool.21, 22, 23, 24, 25
In the 1970s, pediatrician and health freedom pioneer Robert Mendelsohn, who described himself as a medical heretic, warned that medical science has become a religion and doctors have turned the act of vaccination into “the new sacrament.”26
In the 21st century, if you refuse to believe that vaccination is a moral and civic duty and dare to question vaccine safety or advocate for the legal right to decline one or more government recommended vaccines.
You are in danger of being branded an anti-science heretic, a traitor, and a threat to the public health.27, 28 You are viewed as a person of interest who deserves to be humiliated, silenced, and punished for your dissent.29, 30, 31, 32
Exercising Freedom of Thought, Speech, and Autonomy
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize,” said Voltaire,33, 34 the great 18th century writer during the Age of Enlightenment, who was imprisoned several times in the Bastille for defending freedom of thought and speech before the French Revolution.
As contentious as the public conversation about vaccination, health, and autonomy has become, we cannot be afraid to have it. There has never been a better time to challenge those ruling our health care with an iron fist. We have the power and all we need to do is exercise it.
Information Is Power
We have the tools in the 21st century to bring about a modern Age of Enlightenment35 that will liberate the people so we can take back our freedom and our health.
The electronic communications revolution has provided a global platform for us to access the Library of Medicine36 and evaluate the quality and quantity of vaccine science used to make public health policy and create vaccine laws.
The World Wide Web allows us to circumvent the paid mainstream media dominated by industry and governments and publicly communicate in detail on our computers, tablets, and smart phones exactly what happened to our health or our child’s health after vaccination.37, 38, 39, 40
We are connected with each other in a way that we have never been before and it is time to talk about vaccines and microbes and the true causes of poor health.
It is time to face the fear that we and our children will get sick and die if we don’t believe and do what those we have allowed to rule our health care system with an iron fist tell us to believe and do.
Who Will Control the Multi-Trillion Dollar US Health Care System?
What is at stake in this debate between citizens challenging the status quo and those resisting constructive change is: who will control the multi-trillion dollar US health care system?41
If people have the right to know and freedom to choose how to heal and stay healthy, a free people may think independently and choose to spend their money on something different from what they have been carefully taught to spend their money on right now.42
A free people may reject sole reliance on the expensive and, some say, ineffective pharmaceutical-based medical model that has dominated US health care for two centuries.43, 44, 45
A free people may refuse to buy and eat GMO foods.46 A free people may walk away from doctors, who threaten and punish patients for refusing to obey orders to get an annual flu shot or decline to give their children every single government recommended vaccine on schedule – no exceptions and no questions asked.47
The most rational and compelling arguments for defending health freedom, including vaccine freedom of choice, are grounded in ethics, law, science, and economics. The human right to voluntary, informed consent to vaccination is the best example of why Americans must not wait any longer to stand up and defend without compromise the inalienable right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity.
NVIC: Defending Ethical Principle of Informed Consent
I and the more than 100,000 followers and supporters48 of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center, take an informed consent position with regard to vaccination. Since our founding in 1982, we have defended the ethical principle of informed consent to vaccine risk-taking because vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury, death, and failure.49
Because informed consent to medical risk taking is the central ethical principle guiding the ethical practice of medicine.50 We support the “first do no harm” precautionary approach to public policymaking, which focuses on how much harm can be prevented from a policy or law and not how much harm is acceptable.51
NVIC Supports Your Health Choices and Vaccine Exemptions
We do not advocate for or against use of vaccines. We support your human and legal right to make informed, voluntary health care decisions for yourself and your children and choose to use every government recommended vaccine, a few vaccines or no vaccines at all.52 NVIC has worked for more than 30 years to secure vaccine safety and informed consent provisions in public health policies and laws, including flexible medical, religious, and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions.
We are doing this in an increasingly hostile environment created by an industry-government-medical trade alliance that is lobbying for laws to compel all Americans to use every government recommended without deviation from the official schedule or face a growing number of societal sanctions.53 Although historically, children have been the target for vaccine mandates, authoritarian implementation of federal vaccine policy is not just for children anymore, it is rapidly expanding to include all adults.54, 55
Californians Stood Up for Personal Belief Vaccine Exemption
In 2012, many California residents traveled to Sacramento to protest a law introduced by a pediatrician legislator to make it harder for parents to file a personal belief vaccine exemption for their children to attend school. They responded to Action Alerts we issued through the online NVIC Advocacy Portal and lined the halls of the state Capitol building, many with their children, and waited for hours and hours to testify at several public hearings.
Mother after mother and father after father, grandparents, nurses, doctors, and students of chiropractic, came to the public microphone. Some talked about how vaccine reactions left their children sick and disabled but they can’t find a doctor to write a medical exemption so their children can attend school; others talked about how their babies died after vaccination; and others simply opposed restriction of the legal right for parents to make medical decisions for their minor children.
It was a remarkable public witnessing by articulate, courageous citizens pleading with their elected representatives to do the right thing.
The right thing would have been for lawmakers to vote to leave the personal belief vaccine exemption alone so parents could continue to make vaccine decisions for their minor children without being forced to beg a hostile doctor or government official for permission to do that. That didn’t happen.56 Today, parents in California are forced to pay a pediatrician or other state-approved health worker to sign a personal belief vaccine exemption and the doctor can refuse to sign and parents are reporting many pediatricians ARE refusing to sign.
Californians Inspired Colorado Citizens to Stand Up in 2014
Yet, because in 2012 California citizens made a powerful public statement by participating in the democratic process and taking action with calls, letters, emails, and personal testimony, in 2014, Colorado citizens were inspired to do the same when the personal belief vaccine exemption was attacked in that state.
Because in 2012, enough people in California did not sit back and assume the job of defending health freedom would get done by someone else, in 2014, enough people in Colorado did not assume it would get done by someone else.57 And this time, we were able to hold the line and protect the personal belief vaccine exemption in that state from being eliminated or restricted.58
This time, there were enough lawmakers in Colorado, who listened and carefully considered the evidence.59 They did not cave in to pressure from drug industry, government, and medical trade lobbyists60, 61, 62, 63 labeling a minority of citizens as “ignorant,” “selfish,” “crazy,” and in need of having their parental and civil rights taken away for defending the human right to self determination and informed consent to vaccine risk-taking.
The Right to Make a Risk Decision Belongs to You
I do not tell anyone what risks to take and never will. The right and responsibility for making a risk decision belongs to the person taking the risk. When you become informed and think rationally about a risk you or your child will take – and then follow your conscience – you own that decision. And when you own a decision, you can defend it. And once you can defend it, you will be ready to do whatever it takes to fight for your freedom to make it, no matter who tries to prevent you from doing that.
Einstein: ‘Never do anything against conscience’
Albert Einstein, who risked arrest in Germany in the 1930s when he spoke out against censorship and persecution of minorities, said, “Never do anything against conscience even if the State demands it.”64 It takes strength to act independently. When the herd is all running toward the cliff, the one running in the opposite direction seems crazy. People who think rationally and act independently even when the majority does not, may be the only ones to survive!
Gandhi: ‘Speak Your Mind’
Gandhi was often persecuted by the ruling majority for challenging their authority and using non-violent civil disobedience to publicly dissent. He said, “Never apologize for being correct, for being ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”65 Sharing what you know to be true empowers others to make conscious choices.
Jefferson: ‘The Minority Possess Their Equal Rights’
The authors of the US Constitution made sure to include strong language securing individual liberties, including freedom of thought, speech, and conscience. They did that because many of the families immigrating to America had personally faced discrimination and persecution in other countries for holding beliefs different from the ruling majority.
In his first Presidential inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson warned: “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority posses their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”66
Getting Vaccinated Is Not a Patriotic Act
There is no liberty more fundamentally a natural, inalienable right than the freedom to think independently and follow your conscience when choosing what you will risk your life or your child’s life for. And that is why voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking is a human right.
Despite what you are being told by paid propaganda experts67, 68 spinning the conversation about vaccination and health in the media today, getting vaccinated is not a patriotic act69 and declining to use a government recommended vaccine is not a criminal act.70 It is a choice.
All Born Equal But Not the Same
Vaccination must remain a choice because, while we are all born equal, with equal rights under the law, we are not born all the same. Each one of us is born with different genes and a unique microbiome71 influenced by epigenetics72 that affects how we respond to the environments we live in. We do not all respond the same way to infectious diseases73 and we do not all respond the same way to pharmaceutical products like vaccines.74, 75, 76, 77 Public health laws that fail to respect biodiversity and force everyone to be treated the same are unethical and dangerous.
My Son’s Severe DPT Vaccine Reaction
The first time I really understood what it means to belong to a minority was after I witnessed my son, Chris, suffer a convulsion, collapse shock, and brain inflammation within hours of his fourth DPT shot when he was two and a half years old. I remember that day in 1980 when I took my exceptionally bright, healthy two and a half year old son to the pediatrician with all the trust and faith of a young first time mother.
Saying words at seven months, speaking in full sentences and identifying words by age two, my precocious, cheerful little boy had a friend, Timmy, who lived across the street and also got four DPT shots by age two. Timmy was born to a different mother and father with a different genetic, biological, and environmental history. Timmy did not have a milk allergy or a family history of autoimmunity and allergy like Chris. He had not experienced a severe local reaction after his third DPT shot like Chris had and, unlike Chris, Timmy had not just finished a course of antibiotics before he was vaccinated a fourth time.
Timmy did not have a reaction to his booster DPT shot. Chris did. Within hours of vaccination, I watched my son’s eyes roll back in his head and his head fall to his shoulder as if he had fallen asleep sitting up. It was a classic post-DPT vaccine convulsion and collapse shock reaction78 and I didn’t know. Then, when he slept for hours without moving and I thought he was just taking a really long nap, I didn’t understand that he was unconscious79 and could have died in his bed and I would never have known why because my pediatrician did not tell me about DPT vaccine risks or how to identify vaccine reaction symptoms.80, 81, 82, 83
Vaccine Induced Brain Inflammation and Regression
The immune mediated brain inflammation, also known as encephalopathy,84, 85, 86 that Chris experienced after DPT vaccination was followed by progressive deterioration in physical, mental, and emotional health, including chronic infections, constant diarrhea, new allergies, failure to thrive, loss of previous cognitive skills, inability to concentrate, and personality and behavior changes.
Chris could no longer do what he could do before his fourth DPT shot. He became a totally different child.
After repeated testing, he was diagnosed with minimal brain damage, including multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder and placed in a special education classroom for the learning disabled where he stayed through his public education until the end of high school. Chris and I know how very fortunate he was that the severe vaccine reaction he experienced did not take his life or leave him with far more serious brain and immune dysfunction like so many of the children we have both come to know since then.
Today, Chris is a videographer and competitive power lifter. He has worked hard to compensate for the learning disabilities that made his childhood a frustrating, unhappy, and sometimes dangerous time in his life. Recent testing has revealed that Chris has an exceptional ability to engage in abstract thinking and that, when his learning disabilities are discounted, he has a high IQ, which is one reason why he was so frustrated and lost in a special education system that does not have a place for children like him.
Vaccine Reaction Survivors: The Walking Wounded
Chris is a vaccine reaction survivor. He is among the walking wounded, who are not left with severe vaccine injuries, but whose futures are compromised in childhood when the risks of vaccination turn out to be 100 percent. How many mothers do not witness a child’s vaccine reaction and never understand why their children’s physical, mental, and emotional health suddenly regressed after vaccination? How many of those children are filling the special education classrooms, doctor’s offices, mental health facilities, and prisons in America?
The Risks of Trusting Without Verifying
What happened to my healthy son after vaccination in 1980 sent me on a journey to learn more and find out why doctors are not talking about vaccine risks and why a commercial product that can brain damage and kill people is being mandated. In part, I was driven by disappointment in myself as a college educated woman, who had come from a family of doctors and nurses and had worked as a writer at a teaching hospital before I became a Mom.
Why did I irrationally assume that vaccines were 100 percent safe and effective? Why had I blindly trusted a doctor instead of examining vaccination with the same due diligence that I had researched nutrition and toxic exposures during pregnancy and had taken prepared childbirth classes to weigh the merits of an epidural versus natural childbirth and breast feeding versus bottle feeding?
A Journey to Find Out Why
Some of my questions were answered during the two years of research that medical historian Harris Coulter and I conducted, when I learned that pertussis vaccine contains lethal pertussis toxin87, 88, 89 and endotoxin,90, 91 as well as aluminum and mercury,92, 93 which can make the blood brain more permeable.94, 95, 96
That research culminated in the publishing of our 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark.97 Harris and I were the first to report an association between vaccine induced brain inflammation and a spectrum of brain dysfunction that doctors give labels like seizures, learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism. But it would take another 25 years of research and interfacing with politicians and serving on committees with doctors in industry, government, and medical trade to answer the rest of my questions.98
Everybody Knows Somebody
In 1982, when I joined with parents of DPT vaccine injured children and co-founded the non-profit charity that is known today as the National Vaccine Information Center, the number of Americans questioning the safety of vaccines was so tiny, it could not even by measured in public opinion polls.
Three decades later, national polls reveal that the majority of parents in America say the Number One child health concern they have is about the safety of vaccines.99 That is because in the 21st century, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated, and was never healthy again.
Militarization of Vaccine Policy: Fear Replacing Trust
And people are talking about it, especially mothers taking their children to pediatricians because we are the ones who carry our babies inside us for nine months and give birth and feed and nurture them through infancy and are responsible for their health and we are the ones who usually quit work and stay home and care for them when they are never well anymore.
Mothers are asking their doctors logical questions about vaccination and when their doctors react to those questions with irrational rage or cold refusal to provide medical care if one or more vaccines are declined, it becomes obvious that there is something very wrong with doctors using threats to push and enforce use of a pharmaceutical product.100, 101, 102, 103 The militarization of vaccine policy in the United States is eroding the trust that used to exist between the people and their doctors and that broken trust is being replaced by fear.104, 105
From 23 Doses of 7 Vaccines to 69 Doses of 16 Vaccines
One of the reasons parents are asking more questions about vaccination is that there have been big changes in US vaccine policy and law since 1982. In 1982, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told pediatricians to give children 23 doses of seven vaccines before age six, with the first vaccinations starting at two months old.106 Today, the CDC has upped that number to 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18, with 49 doses of 14 vaccines given between the day of birth and age six.107
That is twice the number of vaccines children in the 1980s got by age six and three times as many vaccinations as Americans used to get during their whole life! But these new vaccines are not for diseases like smallpox and polio. They are for infant diarrhea and chickenpox, which are rarely fatal in this country, and hepatitis B, which requires direct exposure to infected blood and cannot be easily transmitted in public.108
Jacobsen v. Massachusetts: State Police Powers Affirmed
These are not the kind of infectious diseases the justices of the 1905 US Supreme Court probably had in mind when they issued their ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts.109 In that precedent setting split decision, the high court majority ruled that state legislatures could use police powers to force a minority of dissenting citizens to use smallpox vaccine for what medical doctors and government officials judge to be the greater good of the majority. Those early 20th century justices based their decision in part on a false premise argued by lawyers representing public health officials, who argued that medical doctors could predict ahead of time who will be injured or die from smallpox vaccination.
Doctors have never been able to predict with any certainty who will be injured and die from vaccination. In affirming the constitutional right of states to use police powers to enact public health laws, the Supreme Court was also reaffirming the roles of state government versus the federal government in public health law. Anything not defined in the US Constitution as a federal responsibility has traditionally defaulted to the states. Public health was not defined in the Constitution as a federal responsibility so public health laws have always been state laws and this is why vaccination laws vary from state to state.110, 111
A Utilitarian Rationale Turned Into Law
It is important to note that the Supreme Court ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century was clearly based on a utilitarian rationale that a minority of citizens opposing vaccination should be forced to get vaccinated in service to the majority. Utilitarianism was a popular ethical theory in the late 19th and early 20th century in Britain and the US and was used by government officials as a mathematical guide to making public policy that ensured “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.”112, 113 Today, utilitarianism has a much more benign and lofty name attached to it: “the greater good.”
Minorities at Risk When State Employs Militant Utilitarianism
Perhaps that is because utilitarianism went out of fashion in the mid-20th century after, beginning in 1933, the Third Reich employed the utilitarian rationale as an excuse to demonize minorities judged to be a threat to the health and well being of the State.114 Enlisting the assistance of government health officials,115, 116, 117, 118 the first minority to be considered expendable for the good of the State were severely handicapped children, the chronically sick and mentally ill, the “useless eaters” they were called.119, 120
And when the reasons for why a person was identified as a threat to the health, economic stability, or security of the State grew longer to include minorities who were too old or too Jewish or too Catholic or too opinionated or simply unwilling to believe what those in control of the State said was true… as the list of those the State branded as persons of interest to be demonized, feared, tracked, isolated, and eliminated grew, so did the collective denial of those who had yet to be put on that list.121, 122
Jacobsen v Massachusetts Used to Embrace Eugenics in US
Prophetically, in 1927, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes invoked the Jacobsen v. Massachusetts “greater good” utilitarian decision to justify using the heel of the boot of the State to force the sterilization of a young Virginia woman, Carrie Buck, who doctors and social workers incorrectly judged to be mentally retarded like they said her mother was.123 In a chilling statement endorsing eugenics,124 Holmes revealed the morally corrupt core of utilitarianism that still props up mandatory vaccination laws in the US.
Pointing to the Jacobsen vs. Massachusetts decision, Holmes declared that the state of Virginia could force Carrie Buck to be sterilized to protect society from mentally retarded people. Coldly, Holmes proclaimed, “three generations of imbeciles are enough” and “The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.”125 The 1905 US Supreme Court majority made fundamental scientific and ethical errors in their ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts. It is clear that medical doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be injured or die from vaccination and that is a scientific fact.126, 127
Utilitarianism Is a Discredited Pseudo-Ethic
Utilitarianism is a discredited pseudo-ethic that has been used to justify horrific human rights abuses not only in the Third Reich128, 129 but in human scientific experimentation130 and the inhumane treatment of prisoners and political dissidents here and in many countries,131, 132, 133, 134 which is why it should never be used as a guide to public policy and law by any government.
Although we may disagree about the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence used by doctors and governments to declare vaccines are safe at the population level, at our peril do we fail to agree that, while the State may have the power, it does not have the moral authority to dictate that a minority of individuals born with certain genes and biological susceptibilities give up their lives without their consent for what the ruling majority has judged to be the greater good.
Our Lives Are Defined by the Choices We Make
The journey we take in this life is defined by the choices we make. And if we are not free to make those choices, the journey is not our own. And the choices we make that involve risk of harm to our physical body, which houses our mind and spirit, those choices are among the most profound choices we make in this life, which is why we must be free to make them.
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 make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
National vaccine policy recommendations 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 voluntary 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 choice rights 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 one another, 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 website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), 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, and 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.
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Two out of three Americans are now either overweight or obese. Obesity has become the number one form of malnutrition in the country, and no group has been hit harder than our children.
Childhood obesity in the US has nearly tripled since 1980, and one in five kids is now overweight by age six; 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese.1
As noted in a recent article by investigative health reporter Martha Rosenberg,2 the weight of the average American increased by 24 pounds in the four decades between 1960 and 2000.
In her article, she reviews five scientifically-backed factors that contribute to Americans’ expanding waist lines, which I’ll review here. I’ve also covered all of these more in-depth in previous articles, so for additional details, please follow the hyperlinks provided.
Contrary to popular belief, obesity is not simply the result of eating too many calories and not exercising enough.
While those are part of the equation, there are a number of other environmental and lifestyle factors that are likely to play a much more significant role, if nothing else because most people don’t realize they’re affected by them, and therefore fail to address them.
#1: Antibiotics in Food and Medicine
Compelling evidence suggests antibiotic overuse and obesity are intricately linked, although the reasons why didn’t become clear until we discovered how your microbiome influences your weight.
Antibiotics can save your life if they’re necessary, such as if you develop a serious bacterial infection, but you don’t need antibiotics for every ear, nose, or throat infection you come down with.
Remember that antibiotics are useless against the viral infections that cause the common cold and the flu, and when used for this purpose, they will only harm your health by wiping out the good bacteria in your gut.
Beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are, in fact, so crucial to your health that researchers have compared them to “a newly recognized organ,” and have even suggested we consider ourselves a type of “meta-organism.”
This is an acknowledgment of the fact that we cannot be healthy without the participation of a vast array of beneficial microbes. While overused in medicine, the primary source of antibiotic exposure is actually through your diet.
The US uses nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise food animals.3, 4 This accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US.5 In livestock, antibiotics are used both to ward off disease and to promote weight gain.
Research suggests antibiotics have the same effect in humans. According to data analyzed by journalist Maryn McKenna,6 the states with the highest levels of antibiotic overuse also have the worst health status in the United States, including the highest rates of obesity.
#2 Other Growth-Enhancing Drugs Used in Livestock
Other growth-enhancing drugs are also used to fatten up livestock, and these too may wreak havoc on your health. Ractopamine is one example. This beta-agonist drug works as a growth promoter by increasing protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular.
In human medicine, beta-agonists are also found in asthma medication, and stubborn weight gain is in fact a common complaint among asthma patients using Advair (a beta-agonist drug)—so much so that the manufacturer has added weight gain to the post-marketing side effects.
Many of the growth-enhancers routinely used in the US are banned around the world for their potential health hazards, which go far beyond weight gain.
Side effects such as reduced reproductive function, birth defects, disability, and death are reported side effects of ractopamine in various animals, and if you’re eating CAFO animal products on a daily basis, there’s no telling what it might be doing to your health…
Many confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also use hormones to boost growth, and this routine practices is also banned in many other countries. As noted by Rosenberg:7
“[B]anned in European countries are the hormones US cattle growers rely upon, such as oestradiol-17, trenbolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol. Zeranol may have more actions than just making mammals fat.
It is a ‘powerful estrogenic chemical, as demonstrated by its ability to stimulate growth and proliferation of human breast tumor cells in vitro at potencies similar to those of the natural hormone estradiol and the known carcinogen diethylstilbestrol,’ says the Breast Cancer Fund.
Translation: it may be linked to US breast cancer rates, too. No wonder Europe doesn’t want our beef.”
#3: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Including Pesticides
Many common household chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, a number of which are found in plastic products. These chemicals are similar in structure to natural sex hormones such as estrogen, and can interfere with their normal functions.
Some of the most pervasive examples include bisphenol-A (BPA), PCBs, phthalates, triclosan, agricultural pesticides, and fire retardants.
As Rosenberg notes, endocrine disruptors are not only associated with an elevated risk for infertility, low sperm counts, precocious puberty, diabetes, and other health problems. They’ve also been linked to obesity.
“As early as 2003, the journal Toxicological Sciences8 addressed effects that endocrine disruptors have on fetal development that likely play a role in adult obesity,” Rosenberg writes.
Interestingly, many endocrine disrupting chemicals have been found to promote weight gain specifically at below-toxic levels. As noted by the authors of that paper:
“This article presents data showing that the current epidemic in obesity cannot be explained solely by alterations in food intake and/or decrease in exercise.
There is a genetic predisposition component of obesity; however, genetics could not have changed over the past few decades, suggesting that environmental changes might be responsible for at least part of the current obesity epidemic…
Indeed, many synthetic chemicals are actually used to increase weight in animals. This article provides fascinating examples of chemicals that have been tested for toxicity by standard tests that resulted in weight gain in the animals at lower doses than those that caused any obvious toxicity. These chemicals included heavy metals, solvents, polychlorinated biphenols, organophosphates, phthalates, and bisphenol A. This is an aspect of the data that has generally been overlooked.”
Certain agricultural chemicals, glyphosate in particular, may also affect your weight by obliterating healthy gut bacteria. Recent research has shown that glyphosate causes extreme disruption of microbes’ functions and lifecycles, and preferentially affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow… In the US, the vast majority of the glyphosate you’re consuming comes from genetically engineered (GE) sugar, corn, soy, and conventionally-grown desiccated wheat. Besides altering your gut flora, glyphosate also enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.
#4: Artificial Sweeteners
The business of artificial sweeteners is built on the idea that no- or low-calorie sugar substitutes will help you lose weight. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened “diet” foods and beverages tend to stimulate your appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.
Part of the problem is that artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking that it’s going to receive sugar (calories), and when the sugar doesn’t arrive, your body signals that it needs more, which results in carb cravings. This connection between sweet taste and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades.
Artificial sweeteners also produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions9 that promote weight gain. A 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine10 is of particular relevance, as it offers a great historical summary of artificial sweeteners and the epidemiological and experimental evidence showing that artificial sweeteners tends to promote weight gain. It also illustrates that as usage of artificial sweeteners has risen, so has obesity rates. According to the author of the review:
“Intuitively, people choose non-caloric artificial sweeteners over sugar to lose or maintain weight… But do artificial sweeteners actually help reduce weight? Surprisingly, epidemiologic data suggest the contrary. Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain.”
Another study, cited in a recent Democrat & Chronicle article,11 “found that frequent drinkers of diet sodas had waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than non-drinkers of diet soda.”
#5: Aggressive Stealth Marketing of Junk Food
Last but not least, there’s the issue of junk food marketing, which is particularly detrimental when aimed at kids. Kids are quite literally being deceived and manipulated into destroying their health potential by junk food companies seeking revenue. There’s really nothing “accidental” about rising childhood obesity rates when you take deceptive marketing into account… Marketing to children has actually turned into a full-blown science. For example, “the nag factor” has been studied to the point that marketers can be advised on what kind of tantrums are most likely to push parents into giving in to their child’s demands!
The avenues for marketing have also grown exponentially over the past 30 years, thanks to rapidly evolving technological advances. Marketing is no longer restricted to TV and magazine ads. Kids are now exposed to marketing via brand licensing, product placement, schools, stealth marketing, viral marketing, DVDs, games, and the internet. According to a 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM),12 children aged 2-11 now see an average of more than 10 television food ads per day. And nearly all (98 percent) of these are for products that are high in processed, damaged fats, sugar, and/or sodium. Most (79 percent) are low in fiber.13
What we’re seeing is a rise of “360 degree immersive marketing,” designed to turn children into loyal lifelong consumers, and when it comes to processed foods, kids are being brainwashed into believing junk foods will make them healthy and happy. The truth, however, is diametrically opposed to such propaganda…
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter14 recently warned that “obesity is a bigger global health threat than tobacco use.” The American Society of Clinical Oncology15 (ASCO) also recently issued a position statement on obesity and cancer, in which they too state that “obesity is quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer.” During this year’s World Health Organization’s annual summit, De Schutter urged nations to join forces to place stricter regulations on unhealthy foods, saying: “Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed.”
The Health Ramifications of Obesity Can Be Lethal
Cheap food leads to high health care costs. Obesity-related illness is predicted to raise national health care costs by $48 billion annually over the next two decades.16 Diseases attributable to obesity17 include but are not limited to the following. Keep in mind that while obesity is associated with metabolic syndrome and the diseases mentioned below, it is not their cause; it is simply a marker. The common link among them is metabolic dysfunction, and excessive sugar/fructose consumption is a primary driver. So even if you don’t yet have clinical signs of metabolic dysfunction, the fact that you’re gaining excess weight is sign enough.
Type 2 diabetes Cancer (especially breast, endometrial, colon, gallbladder, prostate, and kidney18) Heart disease and enlarged heart Sleep disorders (including sleep apnea) Pulmonary embolism Hypertension
Polycystic ovarian syndrome Gastro-esophageal reflux disease Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) Hernia Erectile dysfunction Dementia
Urinary incontinence Chronic renal failure Lymph edema Cellulitis Stroke Lipid problems
Pickwickian syndrome Depression Osteoarthritis Gout Gallbladder disease Asthma
Your Weight Reflects Your Lifestyle Choices
As you can see, a number of factors can contribute to your weight problem. Simply eating fewer calories and exercising more usually doesn’t work very well, and the reason for that is because not all calories are the same. Rather than focusing on calories, you need to address the quality of the foods you eat, and avoid chemical exposures. Many people end up throwing their hands up in disgust when trying to clean up their diet, complaining that once they start to read labels, they realize there’s “nothing safe to eat.” If this sounds like you, you’re probably still looking at processed foods, trying to figure out which ones are “good” for you, and that’s the problem.
The list of ingredients to avoid is just about endless, and keeping track of it can be really discouraging. The answer is to create a list of healthy options instead, which is far shorter and easier to remember. And, when it comes to advertising, keep in mind that whole unadulterated “real foods” are rarely if ever advertised, so if you’re seeing an ad for a food that promises to do you a world of good, it’s probably misleading…
The following short list of just three super-simple, easy-to-remember guidelines will not only improve your nutrition, it will also help you avoid countless chemical exposures that can affect your weight:
1.Buy whole organic foods, and cook from scratch. First of all, this will automatically reduce your sugar consumption, which is the root cause of insulin resistance and weight gain. If you buy organic produce, you’ll also cut your exposure to pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients, and in ditching processed foods, you’ll automatically avoid artificial sweeteners and harmful processed fats.
Speaking of fats, most people need upwards of 50-85 percent healthy fats in their diet for optimal health. Sources of healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw organic dairy, coconuts and coconut oil, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts and seeds, organic pastured egg yolks, and grass-fed meats. For more detailed dietary advice, please see my free Optimized Nutrition Plan.
2.Opt for organic grass-fed meats to avoid genetically engineered ingredients, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other growth promoting drugs.
3.Opt for glass packaging and storage containers to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Vitamin D has been shown to improve a number of brain disorders, including dementia and its most severe form, Alzheimer’s disease,1 the latter of which now affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans.2
The latest mortality statistics places Alzheimer’s in the top three killer diseases in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.3 Vitamin D deficiency is also rampant. Researchers estimate that half of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency.
Among seniors, that estimate reaches as high as 95 percent. While certainly not the sole cause of dementia, evidence suggests vitamin D may be a very important factor for successful prevention.
A wide variety of brain tissue contains vitamin D receptors, and when they’re activated by vitamin D, it facilitates nerve growth in your brain. Researchers also believe that optimal vitamin D levels boosts levels of important brain chemicals, and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.
Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on your brain through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, which are well established.
‘Most Robust Study of Its Kind’ Confirms Link Between Low Vitamin D and Dementia
The link between low vitamin D and dementia has again been confirmed with the publication of a robust six-year long study4 conducted by an international team of researchers. As reported by Science Daily:5
“[S]tudy participants who were severely vitamin D deficient were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease…
[A]dults in the study who were moderately deficient in vitamin D had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia of any kind, and the risk increased to 125 percent in those who were severely deficient.
Similar results were recorded for Alzheimer’s disease, with the moderately deficient group 69 percent more likely to develop this type of dementia, jumping to a 122 percent increased risk for those severely deficient.”
The authors concluded that: “Our results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease. This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions.”
The findings also suggest there’s a threshold level of circulating vitamin D, below which your risk for dementia increases. This threshold was found to be right around 50 nmol/L, or 20 ng/ml. Higher levels were associated with good brain health.
Based on previous research, I believe 20 ng/ml is still too low, and potentially dangerously so… When it comes to vitamin D, you really want to be in the optimal or clinically relevant range, and as the years have gone by, researchers have progressively moved that target range upward.
At present, based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general health appears to be somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml, or 125-175 nmol/L—a far cry from the threshold suggested in this study.
vitamin d levels
References for target ranges
Sun Exposure Is the Ideal Way to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level
I believe sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D levels. As a general rule, you’ll want to expose large amounts of bare skin to the sun until it turns the lightest shade of pink, if you’re light-skinned.
This typically occurs in about half the time it would normally take you to burn. So if you know you tend to get sunburned after 30 minutes, you’d want to stay in the sun for about 15 minutes.
Those with darker skin may need to pay closer attention to notice when this slight reddening occurs. It’s really impossible to give any firm recommendations for how long you need to stay in the sun to optimize vitamin D production, as it varies greatly depending on a number of factors, such as:
Antioxidant levels and diet in general Age
Skin color and/or current tan level Use of sunscreen
Latitude and altitude (elevation) Cloud cover and pollution
Ozone layer Surface reflection
Season Time of day
Other Alternatives: UVB emitting lights or Supplements
Your second-best option would be to use lights that emit UVB.
If your circumstances prevent either of these strategies, then you’re left with taking a vitamin D supplement. GrassrootsHealth has a helpful chart showing the average adult dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. Many experts agree that 35 IUs of vitamin D per pound of body weight could be used as an estimate for your ideal dose.
Be sure to take vitamin D3—not synthetic D2—and take vitamin K2 in conjunction with it. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, and without sufficient amounts, calcium may build up in areas such as your arteries and soft tissues.
This can cause calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries—a side effect previously thought to be caused by vitamin D toxicity. We now know that inappropriate calcification is actually due more to lack of K2 than simply too much vitamin D.
Magnesium Is Also Important for Vitamin D Activity
Magnesium is another important player—both for the proper function of calcium, and for the activity of vitamin D, as it converts vitamin D into its active form. Magnesium also activates enzyme activity that helps your body use the vitamin D. In fact, all enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium to work. Magnesium also appears to play a role in vitamin D’s immune-boosting effects. As noted by magnesium expert Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND:6
“The effectiveness and benefits of vitamin D are greatly undermined in the absence of adequate levels of magnesium in the body. Magnesium acts with and is essential to the activity of vitamin D, and yet most Americans do not get their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this important mineral.”
As with vitamin D and K2, magnesium deficiency is also common, and if you’re lacking in magnesium and take supplemental calcium, you may exacerbate the situation. Vitamin K2, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D all work in tandem with each other, which is why it’s important to pay attention to their ratios. Vitamin A, zinc, and boron are other important cofactors that interact with vitamin D, and indeed, zinc deficiency has also been identified as a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease.
When taking supplements, it can be easy to create lopsided ratios, so getting these nutrients from an organic whole food diet and sensible sun exposure is generally your best bet. Dietary sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, such as kelp, dulse, and nori. Vegetables can also be a good source. As for supplements, magnesium citrate and magnesium threonate are among the best.
My Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies
Because there are so few treatments for Alzheimer’s, and no available cure, you’re really left with just one solid solution, and that is to prevent it from happening to you in the first place. Diet is part and parcel of a successful prevention plan, and my optimized nutrition plan can set you on the right path in this regard. As explained by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the book, Grain Brain, Alzheimer’s is a disease predicated primarily on lifestyle choices; the two main culprits being excessive sugar and gluten consumption.
Another major factor is the development and increased consumption of genetically engineered (GE) grains, which are heavily contaminated with glyphosate—a herbicide thought to be worse than DDT, and DDT has already been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s… GE sugar and grains are now pervasive in most processed foods sold in the US, so swapping out processed fare for whole foods is an important part of the equation. In terms of your diet and other lifestyle factors, the following suggestions may be among the most important for Alzheimer’s prevention:
•Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders
•Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they don’t belong. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s
•Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.
•Increase consumption of all healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3. Healthy fats that your brain needs for optimal function include organically-raised grass-fed meats, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, avocado, nuts, organic pastured egg yolks, and butter made from raw grass-fed milk. High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are also helpful for preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
•Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or intermittently fast. Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. As mentioned above intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the inulin/leptin resistance that is also a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s. To learn more, please see this previous article.
•Improve your magnesium levels. Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.
•Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.
•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 BDNF, (brain derived neurotropic factor) and PGC-1alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brains 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.
•Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer’s.
•Avoid and eliminate 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 and eliminate aluminum from your body: Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, “First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity.”
•Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
•Avoid anticholinergics 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.
•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 electromagnetic fields (EMF) created by wireless devices. The BioInitiative Report,8 initially published in 2007, and again in 2012 by an international working group of scientists, researchers, and public health policy professionals, concluded that the existing standards for public safety are completely inadequate to protect your health. The report includes evidence that electromagnetic fields and exposure to radiofrequencies can have a detrimental impact on Alzheimer’s disease, along with a whole host of other chronic health problems.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.
To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”
By Dr. Mercola
Before there was modern-day medicine and its pharmacopeia of synthetic drugs, there were plants, and ancient civilizations knew how to use them strategically to treat common ailments and even life-threatening diseases.
The ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, a scroll from 1550 BC that’s over 100 pages long, details 700 medicinal herbs and how to use them. The Greek Corpus Hippocraticum from the 16th century BC also details the use of herbal medicine.1
Later, during the 1800s and early 1900s, the knowledge of herbal medicine was passed down from one generation to the next. Typically, the woman of the house was well versed in the use of herbs for healing, and would act as the family’s physician not only to treat illnesses but also to prepare various herbal wellness tonics and other remedies.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population still uses traditional remedies, including plants, as their primary health care tools.2 Meanwhile, the majority of new drugs (70 percent) introduced in the US are derived from natural products, primarily plants.3
Unfortunately, the reverence for the use of medicinal plants in everyday life has largely been lost in the US. But if you are interested in using natural remedies to support your health, you should know that there are many right at your fingertips.
7 Medicinal Plants You Can Use to Benefit Your Health
Below is an excellent starting point to learn how to harness the power of medicinal plants. This is only a small sample, of course, and once you get your feet wet, you’ll likely be inspired to explore more and more uses for these healing wonders.
Ginger is one spice that I recommend keeping on hand in your kitchen at all times. Not only is it a wonderful addition to your cooking (especially paired with garlic) but it also has enough medicinal properties to fill several books.
Ginger is best known for its antinausea effects but also has broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40 scientifically confirmed pharmacological actions. It is anti-inflammatory, making it valuable for pain relief for joint pain, menstrual pain, headaches, and more.
The pain-relieving potential of ginger appears to be far-reaching. Along with help for muscle and joint pain, ginger has been found to reduce the severity of migraine headaches as well as the migraine medication Sumatriptan – with fewer side effects.4
Ginger also shows promise for fighting cancer, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, asthma, bacterial and fungal infections, and it is one of the best natural remedies available for motion sickness or nausea (from pregnancy or chemotherapy, for example).
Taking one gram of ginger daily may help reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, or those with migraines and ginger has been shown to work better than a placebo in relieving morning sickness.5
Ginger is also a must-have if you struggle with indigestion, and it does more than simply relieve pain. Ginger contains powerful protein-digesting enzymes and helps to stimulate the emptying of your stomach without any negative effect, and it’s an antispasmodic agent, which may explain its beneficial effects on your intestinal tract.
Many people enjoy ginger tea on a regular basis, and this is one of the simplest ways to use it. Simply chop off a couple of inches of ginger root and let it steep in hot water for fresh ginger tea. I would advise against using it daily as it can lead to an allergy and is what happened to me about twenty years ago.
You can also peel the root using a paring knife and then slice it thinly (or grate it or mince it) to add to tea or cooked dishes. You can’t go wrong by adding ginger to stir fries or even your favorite homemade chicken soup. For serious issues, a natural health care provider can help you get the maximum therapeutic benefits of ginger.
Eating a clove or two of fresh garlic a day may indeed keep the doctor away, in part because it has immune-boosting, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects. Many of garlic’s therapeutic effects are derived from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which are also what give it its characteristic smell. In general, garlic’s benefits fall into four main categories:
1.Reducing inflammation (reduces the risk of osteoarthritis and other disease associated with inflammation)
2.Boosting immune function (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties)
3.Improving cardiovascular health and circulation (protects against clotting, retards plaque, improves lipids, and reduces blood pressure)
4.Toxic to at least 14 kinds of cancer cells (including brain, lung, breast, gastric, and pancreatic)
In addition, garlic may be effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and research has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.6 This is one of the reasons why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can consume.
In order to get the health benefits, the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.
Allicin, in turn, rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to “activate” garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.
A single medium-size clove or two is usually sufficient and is well-tolerated by most people. The active ingredient, allicin, is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic, so garlic pills are virtually worthless. Black garlic, which is basically fermented garlic, and sprouted garlic may contain even more antioxidants than regular garlic.
Peppermint offers benefits to the respiratory system, including for coughs, colds, asthma, allergies, and tuberculosis. In terms of digestive health, peppermint oil capsules have been described as “the drug of first choice” in IBS patients,7 and peppermint oil is an effective alternative to drugs like Buscopan for reducing colonic spasms.8
It may also relax the muscles of your intestines, allowing gas to pass and easing abdominal pain. Try peppermint oil or leaves added to tea for gas relief. Inhaling the peppermint aroma may offer memory enhancement and stress relief, and peppermint oil acts as an expectorant and decongestant, and may help clear your respiratory tract.
Use peppermint essential oil as a cold rub on your chest or inhale it through a vaporizer to help clear nasal congestion and relieve cough and cold symptoms. Peppermint oil may also help relieve tension headache pain. For headache pain, try dabbing a few drops on your wrist or sprinkling a few drops on a cloth, then inhaling the aroma. You can also massage the oil directly onto your temples and forehead. Peppermint essential oil is ideal for muscle and chest rubs, headache pain, dental care, and aromatherapy. You can even add it to your homemade cleaning supplies for extra antimicrobial power and natural fragrance.
When selecting peppermint for your own use, the fresh leaves will impart a superior flavor to dried leaves (such as for use in tea). Look for fresh leaves that are green in color without any dark spots or yellowing. In addition to using fresh mint leaves in tea, you can add them to soups, fruit salad, or gazpacho. Additionally, it is really easy to grow peppermint yourself and the plant works as a highly effective deterrent to many insects that might invade your garden or your home.
Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents.9 This oil is rich in esters, which are aromatic molecules with antispasmodic (suppressing spasms and pain), calming, and stimulating properties. The chief botanical constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool (a non-toxic terpene alcohol that has natural germicidal properties), terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. Other constituents in lavender oil that are responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties include cis-ocimene, lavandulyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, and geraniol.
lavender essential oil usesLavender oil is known for its calming and relaxing properties, and has been used aromatherapeutically for alleviating insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness, dental anxiety, and stress. It has also been proven effective for nearly all kinds of ailments, from pain to infections.
I am particularly fascinated by lavender oil’s potential in fighting antifungal-resistant skin and nail infections. Scientists from the University of Coimbra found that lavender oil is lethal to skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various Candida species.10 Lavender oil can also be used to:
•Relieve pain. It can ease sore or tense muscles, joint pain and rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. Simply massage a small amount of lavender oil onto the affected area. Lavender oil may also help lessen pain following needle insertion.
•Treat various skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles. It also helps form scar tissues, which may be essential in healing wounds, cuts, and burns. Lavender can also help soothe insect bites and itchy skin (lavender oil can help ward off mosquitoes and moths. It is actually used as an ingredient in some mosquito repellents).
•Keep your hair healthy. It helps kill lice, lice eggs, and nits. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCB) says that lavender is possibly effective for treating alopecia areata (hair loss), boosting hair growth by up to 44 percent after just seven months of treatment.11
•Improve your digestion. This oil helps stimulate the mobility of your intestine and stimulates the production of bile and gastric juices, which may help treat stomach pain, indigestion, flatulence, colic, vomiting, and diarrhea.
•Relieve respiratory disorders. Lavender oil can help alleviate respiratory problems like colds and flu, throat infections, cough, asthma, whooping cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. It can be applied on your neck, chest, or back, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
•Stimulate urine production, which helps restore hormonal balance, prevent cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), and relieve cramps and other urinary disorders.
•Improve your blood circulation. It helps lower elevated blood pressure levels and can be used for hypertension.
Thyme is a fragrant herb that makes a wonderful addition to your cooking, in part because it is rich in antioxidants. Thyme contains health-boosting flavonoids including apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin, and has been shown to protect and increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes. As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation:12 “In particular, the amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes was increased after dietary supplementation with thyme.”
Thyme is also nutrient dense, containing vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, manganese, copper, and dietary fiber. When used in cooked dishes, thyme may also help inhibit glycation and the formation of dangerous advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in your food, making thyme a potential preventer of heart disease and premature aging. Due to thyme oil’s antibacterial, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, hypertensive, and calming properties, it also has a long list of topical uses, including:
•Home remedy – Thyme oil is used to relieve and treat problems like gout, arthritis, wounds, bites, and sores, water retention, menstrual and menopausal problems, nausea and fatigue, respiratory problems (like colds), skin conditions (oily skin and scars), athlete’s foot, hangovers, and even depression.
•Aromatherapy oil – The oil can be used to stimulate the mind, strengthen memory and concentration, and calm the nerves.
•Hair product – It is said that thyme oil can prevent hair loss. It is used as a treatment for the scalp and is added to shampoos and other hair products.
•Skin product – Thyme oil can help tone aged skin and prevent acne outbreaks.
•Mouthwashes and herbal rinses – Like peppermint, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oils, thyme oil is used to improve oral health.
•Insecticide/insect repellent – Thyme oil can keep insects and parasites like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and moths away.
Chamomile is most popular in tea form for use to calm upset stomach and help support restful sleep. Germany’s Commission E (a government organization) has even approved the use of chamomile for reducing swelling on your skin and fighting bacteria. Chamomile is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also has antibacterial, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, muscle relaxant, and sedative properties. It is used to treat psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, diaper rash, slow-healing wounds, abscesses, and gum inflammation,13 and according to Herb Wisdom may also be useful for the following conditions:14
“The oil serves many medicinal purposes, but one of the best-documented uses is for relaxation. The oil has a calming effect on people, and can be used to help induce sleep, ease frayed nerves, and promote a general sense of calmness and well being. It is great for those with nervousness or anxiety problems. Aside from having mental calming properties, chamomile is also good at relaxing sore muscles and tight joints.
It can ease menstrual cramps and back aches, as well as relax the digestive system to ease upset stomach or indigestion issues. When applied topically to the skin, it soothes redness and irritation. For this reason, it is a common ingredient in skincare. It also eliminates itchiness and is good for those with allergic reactions. Sometimes chamomile is used on rashes. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can work to take down swelling caused by rashes or skin irritants.”
This flowering plant has traditionally been used as a liver tonic, useful for detoxification and improving liver function. Dandelion is known as a stimulant that is typically used for kidney and liver disorders. It is also traditionally used to reduce the side effects of prescription drugs, as well as to treat infections, gallbladder problems, water retention and swelling.15 Dandelion greens, which you can prepare simply by blanching them in boiling water for 20 seconds to help remove their bitter flavor (they can also be added to vegetable juice), contain many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. They are a particularly good source of vitamin A and may also have cancer-fighting properties.
Getting in Touch with Your Inner Healer: How to Use More Medicinal Plants
In the past, I have regarded herbs, in many cases, as a safer alternative to drugs, useful for treating various symptoms but not to treat the underlying cause. I have since revised my opinion on this quite significantly, and now realize that herbs can help support your health from a very basic level, just as foods do. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, you could walk into a drug store and find hundreds of herbal extracts for sale. Upwards of 90 percent of the population at that time knew how to use the medicinal plants growing in their backyards to treat common illnesses and injuries; they had too, as this was virtually the only “medicine” available.
With the rise of what is now known as conventional allopathic medicine shortly before World War I, herbalism slowly fell out of favor and became to be thought of as folk medicine. Rather than viewing nature as the source of healing, as had been done for centuries, people began to view drugs and other “modern” healing methods as superior. If you would like to start using medicinal plants more often, here are 9 tips to do so:16
1.Learn to identify three medicinal plants you don’t already know that grow in your region and learn their uses.
2.Add at least one of these herbs to your garden or to pots on your windowsill.
3.Make a tincture, tea, syrup, or salve. Or make one of each!
4.Harvest and dry mint, lemon balm, calendula, nettles, or any other plant growing in your region.
5.Find a plant to sit with quietly each morning for a week; draw the plant.
6.Identify one healing skill you would like to have but don’t, and find a way to learn it—perhaps by taking an herb or aromatherapy class.
7.Make an herbal first aid kit.
8.Organize local healers for emergency response in your community.
9.With medicinal plants grown in your region, learn how to treat one condition that you and/or someone in your family struggles with.
Believing an antibiotic will cure your illness is taken for granted by most people nowadays, but that is rapidly changing. According to the experts, the age of antibiotic drugs is coming to an end. And the implications are dire.
There are two primary reasons for this drug demise.
1.First, many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to even our strongest antibiotics and are causing deadly infections. The bacteria are evolving faster than we are.
2.Secondly, drug companies have all but abandoned the development of new antibiotics because of their poor profit margins.
The fact that the drug industry is showing no interest is itself an ominous sign! Big Pharma is much more interested in selling you drugs from which they can make a handsome profit, such as those marketed for cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s and erectile dysfunction.
Experts have been warning about the implications of antibiotic resistance for years, but never before have their warnings been so emphatic. Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said to PBS Frontline:1
“For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and magazine articles that asked ‘The end of antibiotics?’ Well, now I would say you can change the title to ‘The end of antibiotics, period.'”
Nature has found a way around every antibiotic we’ve come up with, and we’re quickly running out of options. We now face the perfect storm to take us back to the pre-antibiotic age, and there is no comprehensive plan going forward. If our few remaining effective antibiotics fail, we can expect significant casualties.
Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to fend off infection naturally—and prevention is key, NOW more than ever!
Superbugs 23,000… Humans Zero
According to a landmark “Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report” published by the CDC2 earlier this year, 2 million American adults and children become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections. Even more die from complications.
According to the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), just one organism—methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA—kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide.3
This death toll is really just an estimate, and the real number is likely much higher. The true extent of superbug infections remains unknown because no one is tracking them—at least not in the US.
Hospitals here are not required to report outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, unlike in the EU where they are at least making efforts to track them. The US is in desperate need of a surveillance program for reporting and tracking this growing threat.4
What we’re seeing is the evolution of bacteria. Basically, microorganisms have learned to teach each other how to outsmart the best pharmaceutical drugs we have to offer, and they are definitely winning the battle.
The 18 Most-Dangerous Pathogens of 2013
The majority of the highly dangerous bacteria are in the Gram-negative category, because that variety has body armor that makes it extremely tough. Some forms are now exhibiting “panresistance”—meaning, resistance to absolutely every antibiotic in existence. In the CDC’s report “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013,” the following 18 superbugs are identified as “urgent, serious and concerning threats” to humankind:5
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE): A family of Gram-negative bacteria that are prominent in your gut growing increasingly resistant to nearly all types of antibiotics
Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae: The sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to the last type of antibiotics left to treat it, having already become resistant to less potent antibiotics. Strains of the disease that are resistant to the class of antibiotic drugs called cephalosporins have appeared in several countries.
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter: Appeared in the US after Iraq and Afghanistan war vets returned home. Tough enough to survive even on dry surfaces like dust particles, making it easy to pass from host to host, especially in hospital environments
Drug-resistant Campylobacter: Campylobacter is the fourth leading cause of foodborne illness in the US. Campylobacter bacteria are unique in that they secrete an exotoxin that is similar to cholera toxin.
Fluconazole-resistant Candida (a fungus)
Extended spectrum beta-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLs): ESBLs are enzymes produced by certain types of bacteria, which renders the bacteria resistant to the antibiotics used to treat them. ESBL-producing E. Coli, for example, are resistant to penicillins and cephalosporins, and are becoming more frequent in urinary tract infections
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE): Increasingly common in hospital settings
Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Linked to serious bloodstream infections and surgical wounds, can lead to pneumonia and other complications; some are resistant to nearly every family of antibiotic
Drug-resistant Non-typhoidal Salmonella and Salmonella Typhi
Drug-resistant Shigella: An infectious disease caused by Shigella bacteria
Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff): Can live in the gut without causing symptoms but attacks when your immune system is weakened; C. Diff is on the rise—infections increased by 400 percent between 2000 and 2007—and is becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant
Methicillin-resistant and Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA and VRSA): Gram-positive bacteria infecting about 80,000 people each year, can lead to sepsis and death. Increasing in communities, although decreasing in hospitals over the past decade; recent evidence points to factory-scale hog CAFOs as a primary source; MRSA is also a significant risk for your pets
Drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae: A leading cause of pneumonia, bacteremia, sinusitis, and acute otitis media
Drug-resistant tuberculosis: Extensively resistant TB (XDR TB) has a 40 percent mortality rate and is on the rise worldwide; tuberculosis is one of the most infectious diseases because it’s so easily spread through the air when infected people cough or sneeze
Erythromycin-resistant Group A and Clindamycin-resistant Group B Streptococcus
Armed and Extremely Dangerous: NDM-1 and KPC
NDM-1, or “New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1,’” is a bacterial gene that confers “super-resistance” to conventional antibiotics. This gene is carried by a rising number of bacteria and makes them virtually unstoppable. What makes NDM-1 such a force to be reckoned with is that it can easily be passed from one bacterium to another, like a kid sharing his lunch—turning your ordinary bacteria into superbacteria. NDM-1 has now reached 48 countries. In the US, the CDC identified 16 cases in 2012, and that number has already doubled for 2013. Another type of highly drug-resistant bacteria is KPC, or Klebsiella pneumoniae Carbapenemase (KPC)-Producing bacteria. Both KPC and NDM-1 infections are highly lethal, causing death in about half of those diagnosed.
How the Modern Food System has Created an Unbeatable “Army” of Superbugs
Antibiotic overuse and inappropriate use bears a heavy responsibility for creating the superbug crisis we are facing today. According to Dr. Srinivasan, as much as half of all antibiotics used in clinics and hospitals “are either unneeded or patients are getting the wrong drugs to treat their infections.”1
The pervasive misuse of antibiotics by the agriculture industry is particularly reprehensible. Agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US. 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are administered to livestock in the US every year for purposes other than treating disease, such as making the animals grow bigger faster. In other parts of the world, such as the EU, adding antibiotics to animal feed to accelerate growth has been banned for years. The antibiotic residues in meat and dairy, as well as the resistant bacteria, are passed on to you in the foods you eat. Eighty different antibiotics are allowed in cows’ milk. According to the CDC, 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is in fact linked to food. In the words of Dr. Srinivasan:
“The more you use an antibiotic, the more you expose a bacteria to an antibiotic, the greater the likelihood that resistance to that antibiotic is going to develop. So the more antibiotics we put into people, we put into the environment, we put into livestock, the more opportunities we create for these bacteria to become resistant.”
Unfortunately, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has again reneged on its plan to withdraw approval of penicillin and tetracycline antibiotics for use in food-producing animal feed. By bowing to industry pressure, the FDA is allowing an unsafe practice to continue at the expense of your health.
Another contributing factor is the genetic engineering of our foods. As Jeffrey Smith explained at the recent GMO Summit, it’s possible that GMOs from food can transfer genetic material to your normal gut bacteria, conferring antibiotic resistance and turning them into superbugs. GMOs have been scientifically proven to activate and deactivate hundreds if not thousands of genes. We have no idea about the gravity of this risk, as no one has yet studied it.
Is Tainted Meat the “New Normal”?
Previous research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store. But it may be even worse. Using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011.
EWG nutritionist and the report’s lead researcher, Dawn Undurraga, issued the following warning to the public:6
“Consumers should be very concerned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of most American supermarkets… These organisms can cause foodborne illnesses and other infections. Worse, they spread antibiotic-resistance, which threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective.”
Recalls, Recalls, and More Recalls
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You would expect this widespread contamination of the food supply to make a lot of people sick—and that is exactly what we’re seeing. With so much contaminated food, it isn’t surprising that food recalls are an increasingly frequent segment on the nightly news. An ongoing outbreak of “Salmonella Heidelberg” has already sickened at least 472 people this year, who consumed tainted Foster Farms chicken from three central California processing plants. People have fallen ill across 20 states, from Washington State to Puerto Rico.7 Forty-two percent have required hospitalization, which is an uncommonly high rate due to the virulence of this strain.8 Why is it so virulent?
The Salmonella bacteria cultured from the ill were found to be resistant to combinations of the following antibiotics: ampicillin, chloramphenicol, gentamicin, kanamycin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, and tetracycline. The CDC warned, “Antimicrobial resistance may increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.”9
Big Pharma is Washing its Hands of the Crisis it Helped to Create
The drug industry has all but abandoned antibiotics research because these “wonder drugs” of the last half-century are becoming ineffective—and Big Pharma knows it. The “antibiotic bubble” has burst.10 According to Paul Stoffels, head of Johnson & Johnson:10
“The market for a new antibiotic is very small, the rewards are not there and so the capital is not flowing. In cancer, people pay $30,000, $50,000 or $80,000 (per patient) for a drug, but for an antibiotic it is likely to be only a few hundred dollars.”
Developing a new drug can take a decade of clinical trials and reportedly cost between $800 million to one billion dollars.11 Not only are antibiotics relatively inexpensive for you, but you are only required to take one for a week or two, which limits profits for the manufacturer. Why put money into a cheap drug that is only taken for a couple of weeks when they can focus their efforts on expensive drugs that people will believe they need to take for the rest of their lives? I guess, for the drug industry, antibiotics now fall into the “Why Bother” category.
Rather than being guided by improved patient outcomes, the industry is wholly guided by its endless quest for profits. According to the ISDA, the number of new systemic antibiotics approved by the FDA has plunged from 16 between 1983 and 1987 to JUST TWO in the past five years.9 Only four pharmaceutical companies are still working on developing new antibiotics. In terms of fighting gram-negative superbugs, there were only seven antibiotics in an advanced stage of development as of early 2013—and one belongs to a drug company that recently filed for bankruptcy.10
Visions of a Post Antibiotic-Apocalypse
Medicine has very few options when the antibiotic pipeline completely dries up. Hospitals are already resorting to some very unsavory treatments, resurrecting old drugs that were abandoned for good reasons.
For example, they have resurrected a toxic bug-killing chemical called Colistin12 (first introduced in 1952 and known to cause kidney damage) as a last-ditch effort to treat multidrug-resistant Gram-negative infections. Then there is the strategy of cutting off (or cutting out) the infected body part, which sometimes has to be performed several times, a few inches at a time as the infection migrates further into the patient’s body.
The bottom line is, if ALL antibiotics fail, it will in effect mark an end to modern medicine as we know it—and we are quickly heading in that direction.
Common illnesses such as bronchitis or strep throat may turn into deadly sepsis. Surgeries previously considered low risk or “routine,” such as hip replacements, might suddenly be too risky without antibiotics. And complex surgeries like organ transplants would essentially not be survivable.
So What’s the Solution?
The impending superbug crisis has a three-prong solution:
1.Better infection prevention, with a focus on strengthening your immune system naturally
2.More responsible use of antibiotics for people and animals, with a return to biodynamic farming and a complete overhaul of our food system
3.Innovative new approaches to the treatment of infections from all branches of science, natural as well as allopathic
There are some promising new avenues of study that may result in fresh ways to fight superbugs. For example, Dutch scientists have discovered a way to deactivate antibiotics with a blast of ultraviolet light before bacteria have a chance to adapt, and before the antibiotics can damage your good bacteria.13
And British scientists have discovered how bacteria talk to each other through “quorum signaling” and are investigating ways of disrupting this process in order to render them incapable of causing an infection. They believe this may lead to a new line of anti-infectives that do not kill bacteria, but instead block their ability to cause disease.14 But the basic strategy that you have at your disposal right now is prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s much easier to prevent an infection than to halt one already in progress.
Avoiding antibiotic-resistance is but one of several good reasons to avoid meats and animal products from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). This is in part why grass-fed pastured meat is the ONLY type of meat I recommend. If you’re regularly eating meat bought at your local grocery store, know that you’re in all likelihood getting a low dose of antibiotics with every meal… and this low-dose exposure is what’s allowing bacteria to adapt and develop such strong resistance.
What You Can Do Now
Fortunately, Mother Nature gives us a cornucopia of botanicals that put antibiotic drugs to shame in the battle against pathogenic microbes. Natural compounds with antimicrobial activity such as garlic, cinnamon, oregano extract, colloidal silver, Manuka honey, probiotics and fermented foods, echinacea, sunlight and vitamin D are all excellent options to try before resorting to drugs. Best of all, research has shown that bacteria do not tend to develop resistance to these types of treatments. Perhaps nature is smarter than most would like to think.
The basic key to keeping your immune system healthy is making good lifestyle choices such as proper diet, stress management and exercise.
Remember, opt for clean, whole foods (animal and plant based), organically raised without antibiotics and preferably locally sourced. Antibiotics simply aren’t needed when healthy animals are raised properly. One chicken farmer has demonstrated that even large-scale animal farms can manage without routine administration of antibiotic drugs by using an herbal remedy of oregano oil and cinnamon instead!
By taking control of your own health and building a strong immune system, you’ll minimize your risk of acquiring an antibiotic-resistant infection.
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[+] Sources and References
1 UPI October 27, 2013 2 CDC Threat Report 2013 Summary 3 Forbes May 7, 2013 4 NPR October 22, 2013 5 CDC Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the US, 2013 6 Huffington Post April 22, 2013 7 Food Poison Journal October 19, 2013 8 Los Angeles Times October 23, 2013 9 Pew Health Initiatives October 16, 2013 10 Chicago Tribune March 19, 2013 11 Forbes May 7, 2013 12 Medscape 2012 13 Popular Science October 8, 2013 14 News Medical August 14, 2013
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This map shows the intensity of shaking in the area of a magnitude-3.9 earthquake that struck near Youngstown, Ohio, on Dec. 31, 2011. Research has linked this earthquake to the underground injection of wastewater from fracking. Wastewater from the controversial practice of fracking appears to be linked to all the earthquakes in a town in Ohio that had no known past quakes, research now reveals.
The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting water, sand and other materials under high pressures into a well to fracture rock. This opens up fissures that help oil and natural gas flow out more freely. This process generates wastewater that is often pumped underground as well, in order to get rid of it.
A furious debate has erupted over the safety of the practice. Advocates claim fracking is a safe, economical source of clean energy, while critics argue that it can taint drinking water supplies, among other problems.
One of the most profitable areas for fracking lies over the geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which reaches deep underground from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and southern New York. The Marcellus Shale is rich in natural gas; geologists estimate it may contain up to 489 trillion cubic feet (13.8 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas, more than 440 times the amount New York State uses annually. Many of the rural communities living over the formation face economic challenges and want to attract money from the energy industry.
Before January 2011, Youngstown, Ohio, which is located on the Marcellus Shale, had never experienced an earthquake, at least not since researchers began observations in 1776. However, in December 2010, the Northstar 1 injection well came online to pump wastewater from fracking projects in Pennsylvania into storage deep underground. In the year that followed, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, the strongest registering a magnitude-3.9 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. The well was shut down after the quake.
Scientists have known for decades that fracking and wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes. For instance, it appears linked with Oklahoma’s strongest recorded quake in 2011, as well as a rash of more than 180 minor tremors in Texas between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 31, 2009.
The new investigation of the Youngstown earthquakes, detailed in the July issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that their onset, end and even temporary dips in activity were apparently all tied to activity at the Northstar 1 well.
For instance, the first earthquake recorded in Youngstown occurred 13 days after pumping began, and the tremors ceased shortly after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down the well in December 2011. In addition, dips in earthquake activity lined up with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and other times when injection at the well was temporarily stopped.
“Earthquakes were triggered by fluid injection shortly after the injection initiated — less than two weeks,” researcher Won-Young Kim, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., told LiveScience. “Previously, we knew (of) unusual earthquakes around Youngstown, Ohio, only on March 17, around 80 days after injection began. If we had better seismographic station coverage, or if we were more careful, we could have caught those early events.”
The earthquakes were apparently centered in an ancient fault near the Northstar 1 well, and Kim suggested pressure from wastewater injection caused this fault to rupture. The quakes crept from east to west down the length of the fault — away from the well — throughout the year, a sign that they were caused by a traveling front of pressure generated by the injected fluid.
The researchers did note that of the 177 wastewater disposal wells of this size active in Ohio during 2011, only the Northstar 1 well was linked with this kind of seismic activity, suggesting this ability to cause earthquakes was rare. Kim personally felt injecting wastewater deep underground “is a fairly good method of massive fluid waste disposal.”
Kim stressed these earthquakes are not directly related to fracking of rock for natural gas. “They are due to injection of waste fluid from fracking,” he noted.
In the future, “we need to find better ways to image hidden subsurface faults and fractures, which is costly at the moment,” Kim said. “If there are hidden subsurface faults near the injection wells, then sooner or later they can trigger earthquakes.”
In the future, operators of such wells may look for earthquakes for about six months after the beginning of operations, Kim said.
“However, there are cases when triggered earthquakes occurred nearly 10 years after the injection,” he noted.
Follow us @livescience, Facebook and Google+. Original article on LiveScience.
•7 Ways the Earth Changes in the Blink of an Eye
•7 Most Dangerous Places on Earth
•Can Oil Extraction Cause Earthquakes?
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Americans are slowly waking up to the sad fact that much of the food sold in the US is far inferior to the same foods sold in other nations. In fact, many of the foods you eat are BANNED in other countries.
Here, I’ll review 10 American foods that are banned elsewhere, which were featured in a recent MSN article.1
Seeing how the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic foods such as these might play a role in our skyrocketing disease rates.
#1: Farm-Raised Salmon
If you want to maximize health benefits from fish, you want to steer clear of farmed fish, particularly farmed salmon fed dangerous chemicals. Wild salmon gets its bright pinkish-red color from natural carotenoids in their diet. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are raised on a wholly unnatural diet of grains (including genetically engineered varieties), plus a concoction of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals not shown to be safe for humans.
This diet leaves the fish with unappetizing grayish flesh so to compensate, they’re fed synthetic astaxanthin made from petrochemicals, which has not been approved for human consumption and has well known toxicities. According to the featured article, some studies suggest it can potentially damage your eyesight. More details are available in yesterday’s article.
Where it’s banned: Australia and New Zealand
How can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised? The flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of its natural astaxanthin content. It’s also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.
Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” currently comes from fish farms. The two designations you want to look for are: “Alaskan salmon,” and “sockeye salmon,” as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed. Please realize that the vast majority of all salmon sold in restaurants is farm raised.
So canned salmon labeled “Alaskan Salmon” is a good bet, and if you find sockeye salmon, it’s bound to be wild. Again, you can tell sockeye salmon from other salmon by its color; its flesh is bright red opposed to pink, courtesy of its superior astaxanthin content. Sockeye salmon actually has one of the highest concentrations of astaxanthin of any food.
#2: Genetically Engineered Papaya
Most Hawaiian papaya is now genetically engineered to be resistant to ringspot virus. Mounting research now shows that animals fed genetically engineered foods, such as corn and soy, suffer a wide range of maladies, including intestinal damage, multiple-organ damage, massive tumors, birth defects, premature death, and near complete sterility by the third generation of offspring. Unfortunately, the gigantic human lab experiment is only about 10 years old, so we are likely decades away from tabulating the human casualties.
Where it’s banned: The European Union
Unfortunately, it’s clear that the US government is not in a position to make reasonable and responsible decisions related to genetically engineered foods at this point, when you consider the fact that the Obama administration has placed former Monsanto attorney and Vice President, Michael Taylor, in charge of US food safety, and serious conflicts of interest even reign supreme within the US Supreme Court! That’s right. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is also a former Monsanto attorney, but refuses to acknowledge any conflict of interest.
#3: Ractopamine-Tainted Meat
The beta agonist drug ractopamine (a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis) was recruited for livestock use when researchers found that the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular. This reduces the overall fat content of the meat. Ractopamine is currently used in about 45 percent of US pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter. Up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket, according to veterinarian Michael W. Fox.
Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have been “poisoned” from eating pigs fed the drug, and ractopamine is banned from use in food animals in no less than 160 different countries due to its harmful health effects! Effective February 11, 2013, Russia issued a ban on US meat imports, slated to last until the US agrees to certify that the meat is ractopamine-free. At present, the US does not even test for the presence of this drug in meats sold. In animals, ractopamine is linked to reductions in reproductive function, increase of mastitis in dairy herds, and increased death and disability. It’s also known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and is thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, and may cause chromosomal abnormalities and behavioral changes.
Where it’s banned: 160 countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan)
#4: Flame Retardant Drinks
If you live in the US and drink Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored sodas and sports drinks, then you are also getting a dose of a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant.
BVO has been shown to bioaccumulate in human tissue and breast milk, and animal studies have found it causes reproductive and behavioral problems in large doses. Bromine is a central nervous system depressant, and a common endocrine disruptor. It’s part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine and iodine. When ingested, bromine competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. This can lead to iodine deficiency, which can have a very detrimental impact on your health. Bromine toxicity can manifest as skin rashes, acne, loss of appetite, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias. According to the featured article:
“The FDA has flip-flopped on BVO’s safety originally classifying it as ‘generally recognized as safe’ but reversing that call now defining it as an ‘interim food additive’ a category reserved for possibly questionable substances used in food.”
Where it’s banned: Europe and Japan
#5: Processed Foods Containing Artificial Food Colors and Dyes
More than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — are added to US foods, including infant foods and foods targeted to young children. Meanwhile, many of these are banned in other countries, based on research showing toxicity and hazardous health effects, especially with respect to adverse effects on children’s behavior. For example, as reported in the featured article:
“Boxed Mac & Cheese, cheddar flavored crackers, Jell-O and many kids’ cereals contain red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6 and/or blue 2, the most popularly-used dyes in the United States. Research has shown this rainbow of additives can cause behavioral problems as well as cancer, birth defects and other health problems in laboratory animals. Red 40 and yellow 6 are also suspected of causing an allergy-like hypersensitivity reaction in children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that some dyes are also “contaminated with known carcinogens.”
In countries where these food colors and dyes are banned, food companies like Kraft employ natural colorants instead, such as paprika extract, beetroot, and annatto. The food blogger and activist Vani Hari, better known as “Food Babe,” recently launched a Change.org petition2 asking Kraft to remove artificial dyes from American Mac & Cheese to protect American children from the well-known dangers of these dyes.
Where it’s banned: Norway and Austria. In 2009, the British government advised companies to stop using food dyes by the end of that year. The European Union also requires a warning notice on most foods containing dyes.
#6: Arsenic-Laced Chicken
Arsenic-based drugs are approved for use in animal feed in the US because they make animals grow quicker and make the meat appear pinker (i.e. “fresher”). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated these products are safe because they contain organic arsenic, which is less toxic than the other inorganic form, which is a known carcinogen.
The problem is, scientific reports surfaced stating that the organic arsenic could transform into inorganic arsenic, which has been found in elevated levels in supermarket chickens. The inorganic arsenic also contaminates manure where it can eventually migrate into drinking water and may also be causing heightened arsenic levels in US rice.
In 2011, Pfizer announced it would voluntarily stop marketing its arsenic-based feed additive Roxarsone, but there are still several others on the market. Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the FDA calling for their removal from the market. In the European Union, meanwhile, arsenic-based compounds have never been approved as safe for animal feed.
Where it’s banned: The European Union
#7: Bread with Potassium Bromate
You might not be aware of this, but nearly every time you eat bread in a restaurant or consume a hamburger or hotdog bun you are consuming bromide, as it is commonly used in flours. The use of potassium bromate as an additive to commercial breads and baked goods has been a huge contributor to bromide overload in Western cultures.
Bromated flour is “enriched” with potassium bromate. Commercial baking companies claim it makes the dough more elastic and better able to stand up to bread hooks. However, Pepperidge Farm and other successful companies manage to use only unbromated flour without any of these so-called “structural problems.” Studies have linked potassium bromate to kidney and nervous system damage, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, and cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies potassium bromate as a possible carcinogen.
Where it’s banned: Canada, China and the EU
Olestra, aka Olean, created by Procter & Gamble, is a calorie- and cholesterol-free fat substitute used in fat-free snacks like chips and French fries. Three years ago, Time Magazine3 named it one of the worst 50 inventions ever, but that hasn’t stopped food companies from using it to satisfy people’s mistaken belief that a fat-free snack is a healthier snack. According to the featured article:
“Not only did a 2011 study from Purdue University conclude rats fed potato chips made with Olean gained weight, there have been several reports of adverse intestinal reactions to the fake fat including diarrhea, cramps and leaky bowels. And because it interferes with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, the FDA requires these vitamins be added to any product made with Olean or olestra.”
Where it’s banned: The UK and Canada
#9: Preservatives BHA and BHT
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are commonly used preservatives that can be found in breakfast cereal, nut mixes, chewing gum, butter spread, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer, just to name a few. BHA is known to cause cancer in rats, and may be a cancer-causing agent in humans as well. In fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Toxicology Program’s 2011 Report on Carcinogens, BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It may also trigger allergic reactions and hyperactivity, while BHT can cause organ system toxicity.
Where it’s banned: The UK doesn’t allow BHA in infant foods. BHA and BHT are also banned in parts of the European Union and Japan.
#10: Milk and Dairy Products Laced with rBGH
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is the largest selling dairy animal drug in America. RBGH is a synthetic version of natural bovine somatotropin (BST), a hormone produced in cows’ pituitary glands. Monsanto developed the recombinant version from genetically engineered E. coli bacteria and markets it under the brand name “Posilac.”
It’s injected into cows to increase milk production, but it is banned in at least 30 other nations because of its dangers to human health, which include an increased risk for colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer by promoting conversion of normal tissue cells into cancerous ones. Non-organic dairy farms frequently have rBGH-injected cows that suffer at least 16 different adverse health conditions, including very high rates of mastitis that contaminate milk with pus and antibiotics.
“According to the American Cancer Society, the increased use of antibiotics to treat this type of rBGH-induced inflammation ‘does promote the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but the extent to which these are transmitted to humans is unclear,'” the featured article states.
Many have tried to inform the public of the risks of using this hormone in dairy cows, but their attempts have been met with overwhelming opposition by the powerful dairy and pharmaceutical industries, and their government liaisons. In 1997, two Fox-affiliate investigative journalists, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, attempted to air a program exposing the truth about the dangers of rBGH. Lawyers for Monsanto, a major advertiser with the Florida network, sent letters promising “dire consequences” if the story aired.
Despite decades of evidence about the dangers of rBGH, the FDA still maintains it’s safe for human consumption and ignores scientific evidence to the contrary. In 1999, the United Nations Safety Agency ruled unanimously not to endorse or set safety standards for rBGH milk, which has effectively resulted in an international ban on US milk.4 The Cancer Prevention Coalition, trying for years to get the use of rBGH by the dairy industry banned, resubmitted a petition to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, in January 2010.5 Although the FDA stubbornly sticks to its position that milk from rBGH-treated cows is no different than milk from untreated cows, this is just plain false and is not supported by science. The only way to avoid rBGH is to look for products labeled as “rBGH-free” or “No rBGH.”
Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Israel, EU and Canada
Take Control of Your Health with REAL Food
There are many other examples where the US federal regulatory agencies have sold out to industry at the expense of your health, while other countries have chosen to embrace the precautionary principle in order to protect their citizens. If you want to avoid these questionable foods and other potentially harmful ingredients permitted in the US food supply, then ditching processed foods entirely is your best option. About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, so there is massive room for improvement in this area for most people.
Next, you’ll want to swap out your regular meat sources to organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised versions of beef and poultry. The same goes for dairy products and animal by-products such as eggs.
Swapping your processed-food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods is a necessity if you value your health. For a step-by-step guide to make this a reality in your own life, whether you live in the US or elsewhere, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan, starting with the beginner plan first.
By Dr. Mercola
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola Company rolled out an ad campaign encouraging people to unite in the fight against obesity. The irony of the situation was not lost on most people however, and the ads drew fire from consumers, consumer advocates and obesity experts1,2 alike.
After all, there’s no doubt that soda is one of the primary beverages responsible for skyrocketing obesity rates, and Coke’s campaign was seen as little more than an effort in damage control.
Soda sales are down, and Coca-Cola should be applauding this fact as it is matched by some small improvements with our childhood obesity rates. Instead, they are marketing sodas harder than ever to make up for lost sales.
Coca-Cola believes a calorie is just a calorie, and if you consume more than you burn – that’s why you become obese. In other words, their products and marketing to children are not to blame – the problem is that Americans just don’t exercise enough.
Now, Coca-Cola Co. has launched another ad campaign—this time to assure consumers that its no- or low-calorie beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe alternative. As reported in the featured article by AdWeek3:
“It’s Coca-Cola’s first ad explicitly defending its use of artificial sweeteners in an ad, but the print execution is an extension of the company’s campaign, launched this January, to combat detractors who blame it for contributing to obesity, by pointing to the host of diet and other beverages it sells beyond traditional, sugary cola.”
According to the ad, aspartame is a “safe, high-quality alternative to sugar.” Clearly they’ve not reviewed the hundreds of studies on this artificial sweetener demonstrating its harmful effects… Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson issued the following statement in response to Coca-Cola’s new ad4:
“Aspartame has been found to cause cancer5 — leukemia, lymphoma, and other tumors—in laboratory animals, and it shouldn’t be in the food supply.
We certainly want Coca-Cola to shift its product mix toward lower- and no-calorie drinks, but aspartame’s reputation isn’t worth rehabilitating with this propaganda campaign. The company would be better off phasing out its use of aspartame and accelerating its research into safer, natural sweeteners such as those extracted from the stevia plant.”
Sweet Beverages Linked to Skyrocketing Childhood Obesity Rates
As recently reported in the Guardian Express6, kids are 40 percent heavier today compared to just 25 years ago, and a growing number of studies have linked rising childhood obesity rates to increased consumption of sugary beverages—including those sweetened with no- or low-cal sweeteners:
“Aspartame has arguably been found to have the effects of increasing the appetite, fat storage stimulation, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain.
In addition to aspartame, one cup of your child’s favorite sugary drink contains nearly 11 teaspoons of sugar, at 128 calories per serving. If you equate that to a child having, on average, one cup of any soft drink containing these ingredients with each meal that is an additional 384 calories or more each day just in beverages,” the Guardian Express writes.
As a general rule, the beverage industry has denied or strongly downplayed its role in the childhood obesity epidemic, despite the fact that beverage companies spend over $1 billion annually on youth-targeted marketing—especially in school settings. According to the Guardian Express, 80 percent of American schools have contracts with Coke or Pepsi to stock their products in school vending machines.
It’s an untenable position, really. Clearly, marketing WORKS, or else they wouldn’t be doing it, and when ads target an audience of 2 to 17-year olds, it’s hardly an accident that kids in that age range opt for soda whenever they’re given a chance!
Americans currently get a majority of their daily calories from sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soda and other sweetened beverages.
Half of the US population over the age of two consumes sugary drinks on a daily basis7, and this figure does not even include 100% fruit juices, flavored milk or sweetened teas, all of which are sugary too, which means the figure is actually even higher.
Yet this is only one side of the equation. On the other, you have artificially sweetened beverages (and other “diet” foods), which, contrary to popular belief, carry just as much responsibility for the stubborn rise in obesity. Your body simply isn’t fooled by the lack of calories in these sweetened products, and studies have repeatedly confirmed that artificial sweeteners appear to cause even greater weight gain than calorie-laden sweeteners.
Falling for Flawed Calorie-Counting Advice Is a Costly Mistake
Coca-Cola’s multi-million dollar “anti-obesity” campaign focuses on the outdated idea that all calories are equal, regardless of where they come from, and that consuming more calories than you burn off results in weight gain8. It’s well worth noting that this “conventional wisdom” has been firmly debunked by science. It is in fact FAR more important to look at the source of the calories than counting them. Even Weight Watchers, the world’s largest diet company, finally recognized this two years ago.
The truth is, you do not get fat because you eat too many calories and don’t exercise enough. You get fat because you eat the wrong kind of calories. At the end of the day, your consumption of carbohydrates, whether in the form of grains and sugars (especially fructose), will determine whether or not you’re able to manage your weight and maintain optimal health.
This is because these types of carbs (fructose and grains) affect the hormone insulin, which is a very potent fat regulator. Meanwhile, fats and proteins affect insulin to a far lesser degree.
Unfortunately, calorie-counting is still a popular misconception, around which an entire industry of “diet” foods and beverages utilizing artificial no- or low-calorie sweeteners has been built. Alas, research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened “diet” drinks and foods actually tend to:
Stimulate your appetite
Increase cravings for carbs, and
Stimulate fat storage and weight gain
Artificial Sweeteners Actually INCREASE Weight Gain
It is my belief that the FTC should sue Coke and the other diet soda manufacturers, for fraudulent advertising as there are no studies showing that the use of diet sodas cause one to lose weight. In fact, they actually have been shown to cause weight gain. A 2012 study published in the journal Appetite9 showed that saccharin and aspartame both cause greater weight gain than sugar. In this study, rats were fed plain yogurt sweetened with either aspartame, saccharin, or sugar, plus their regular rat chow, for 12 weeks. According to the researchers10:
“Results showed that addition of either saccharin or aspartame to yogurt resulted in increased weight gain compared to addition of sucrose, however total caloric intake was similar among groups.”
The reason for the similar calorie consumption between the groups was due to increased chow consumption by the rats given artificially sweetened yogurt. This type of compensation has been found in previous studies11 as well, indicating that when your body gets a hit of sweet taste without the calories to go with it, it adversely affects your appetite control mechanisms, causing increased food cravings. This connection between sweet taste alone and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades. These two studies, for example, dating back to the late 80s and early 90s, both showed this link between artificial sweeteners and increased hunger:
Physiology & Behavior, 198812 – In this study, they determined that intense (no- or low-calorie) sweeteners can produce significant changes in appetite. Of the three sweeteners tested, aspartame produced the most pronounced effects.
Physiology & Behavior 199013 – Here, they again evaluated whether or not the mere taste of “sweet” increases hunger, by having human subjects chew gum for 15 minutes containing various levels of aspartame (0.05%, 0.3%, 0.5%, or 1.0%).
Interestingly, although those who chewed artificially sweetened gum reported increased hunger compared to the control group who were given nothing or unsweetened gum base to chew, the increase did not directly correlate with the aspartame concentration in the gum. Women experienced the greatest increase in hunger after chewing gum containing 0.3 percent aspartame (the second lowest concentration amount), while men were the hungriest after chewing on gum containing 0.5 percent aspartame. The authors stated:
“The highest aspartame concentrations had a time-dependent, biphasic effect on appetite, producing a transient decrease followed by a sustained increase in hunger ratings. Thus, the concentration of the sweetener, the sex of the subject, and the time after chewing, were all important determinants of whether ‘sweetness’ increased hunger”.
Diet Soda Linked to Same Health Problems as Regular Soda
Artificial sweeteners also appear to cause many other health effects typically associated with high sugar consumption. Most recently, a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism14 highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke15,16. The authors—who were “shocked” at the results—looked at studies published in the past five years that examine the relationship between diet soda consumption and health outcomes:
“This paper discusses these findings and considers the hypothesis that consuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interferes with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis. Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements,” they write.
Recent research has also demonstrated that aspartame worsens insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar, which is quite the blow for diabetics who obediently follow the recommendation to switch to diet sodas to manage their condition. The researchers used a dosage of aspartame that approximates the ADI for aspartame in the US (approx. 50 mg/kg body weight), and not only was aspartame found to decrease insulin sensitivity compared to controls, it also wrought havoc on brain function.
The Biological Explanation Behind Aspartame’s Harmful Side Effects
According to the “aspartame safety” page 117 issued by the Coca-Cola Company Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, “when aspartame is digested, your body breaks it down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol.” Methanol is one of the root problems with aspartame. However Coca-Cola (and many other food and beverage manufacturers) often misleadingly counter the claims of methanol being a harmful aspect of aspartame by pointing out that it also occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables.
For instance, Coca-Cola writes:
“Compared to amounts obtained from an aspartame-sweetened beverage, these components are consumed in much greater amounts from a variety of foods, including milk, meat, dried beans, fruits and vegetables… a serving of tomato juice provides about six times more methanol, compared to an equivalent serving of a beverage sweetened with aspartame.”
So why would methanol cause a problem in aspartame if it’s harmless in fruits and vegetables? There are two main points that need to be understood here:
Aspartame is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol. This is in sharp contrast to naturally-occurring methanol found in certain fruits and vegetables, where it is firmly bonded to pectin, allowing the methanol to be safely passed through your digestive tract.
Your body metabolizes methyl alcohol differently than every other animal. All animals, with the exception of humans, have a protective mechanism that allows methanol to be broken down into harmless formic acid. This is why toxicology testing on animals is a flawed model. It doesn’t fully apply to humans.
Here’s how this works: Both animals and humans have small structures called peroxisomes in each cell. There are a couple of hundred in every cell of your body, which are designed to detoxify a variety of chemicals. Peroxisome contains catalase, which help detoxify methanol. Other chemicals in the peroxisome convert the formaldehyde to formic acid, which is harmless, but this last step occurs only in animals. When methanol enters the peroxisome of every animal except humans, it gets into that mechanism. Humans do have the same number of peroxisomes in comparable cells as animals, but human peroxisomes cannot convert the toxic formaldehyde into harmless formic acid.
So, in humans, methanol ends up acting as a Trojan horse. It’s carried into susceptible tissues in your body, like your brain and bone marrow, where an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) converts it into formaldehyde. And since there’s no catalase present, the formaldehyde is free to cause enormous damage in your tissues.
Are Your Health Problems Related to Aspartame?
Symptoms from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Meanwhile, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and may cause birth defects.
Symptoms of methanol poisoning are very similar to the side effects of aspartame. Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well known by physicians, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions. It’s quite possible that you could be having a reaction to artificial sweeteners and not even know it, or be blaming it on another cause. To determine if you’re having a reaction to artificial sweeteners, take the following steps:
Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for two weeks.
After two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce your artificial sweetener of choice in a significant quantity (about three servings daily).
Avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.
Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.
If you don’t notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing your primary artificial sweetener for a few days, it’s a safe bet you’re able to tolerate it acutely, meaning your body doesn’t have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn’t mean your health won’t be damaged in the long run.
If you’ve been consuming more than one type of artificial sweetener, you can repeat steps 2 through 4 with the next one on your list.
If you do experience side effects from aspartame, please report it to the FDA (if you live in the United States) without delay. It’s easy to make a report — just go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page, find the phone number for your state, and make a call reporting your reaction.
Improve Your Health by Ditching Sweetened Drinks
Perhaps one of the most powerful scientific discoveries to emerge in the past several years is that the old adage “a calorie is a calorie” is patently false. The research clearly demonstrates that even if you control the number of calories you eat, if those calories come from fructose, you are at increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, or prediabetes, which includes insulin resistance, fatty liver, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.
So please, do yourself and your family a huge favor, and don’t allow yourself to get swept up in Coca-Cola’s multi-million dollar ad campaigns, which are based on flawed, inaccurate, misleading, and patently false conventions of thinking about obesity and the role of aspartame. Let’s not forget: Coca-Cola spent $1.2 million to defeat California Proposition 37 last November, which would have required genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled as such (which could have included soda containing GE high fructose corn syrup). That, in and of itself, is proof positive that Coca-Cola has no concern for health conscious consumers.
Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes, heart and liver disease, just to name a few. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain. So what should you drink?
Your best most cost effective choice is to drink filtered tap water. The caveat though is to make sure you filter your tap water. I’ve written a large number of articles on the hazards of tap water, from fluoride to dangerous chemicals and drugs, to toxic disinfection byproducts and heavy metals, so having a good filtration system in place is more of a necessity than a luxury in most areas.
Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.
Another option to consider is to bottle your own water from a gravity-fed spring. There’s a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find natural springs in your area. This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water. The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free! Just remember to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.
Tell Coke They’re a Joke!
Obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States, and you are being sorely misled by companies pretending to have a solution that, in reality, only worsen the problem. I strongly urge you to let the Coca-Cola Company know how you feel by telling them to stop their deceptive marketing of soda products.
Join me in taking a stand against false advertising and let your voice be heard. If you’re on twitter, send a tweet to #CokeCEO to let the Coca-Cola Company know you are not happy with their deceptive advertising. If you’re on Facebook, please share your thoughts with them on their Facebook Page. Please also email the Coca-Cola Company to let them know how you feel!