By Dr. Mercola
Nearly 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics, of which only an estimated 10 percent have been evaluated for safety. Many do not realize that cosmetics can be brought to market without having to undergo an approval process.
Cosmetics are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but they're not FDA-approved. This means that only AFTER a product is deemed harmful, adulterated or misbranded will the FDA take regulatory action.1 The only cosmetic ingredients requiring FDA premarket approval are color additives.
So who is responsible for ensuring cosmetics and personal care products are safe? The answer is the companies that manufacture and market the products. It's a classic example of the fox guarding the henhouse, which puts us all at serious risks.
Not only do FDA regulations not require specific tests to demonstrate safety, but companies are also not required to share whatever safety information they might have with the FDA. This poses an obvious conflict of interest, and as recent lawsuits show, this can have serious consequences for public health.Baby Talcum Powder Increases Woman's Risk of Ovarian Cancer
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is a well-known and trusted "baby friendly" brand, producing a range of baby products and feminine hygiene items. Unfortunately, J&J has failed the public trust yet again. And the lack of regulations relating to cosmetics is what helped them bury the dangers of one of its flagship products.
In 2008, I warned women to cease using talcum powder. I noted there were several studies showing that applying talcum powder to the genital area might raise a woman's risk of ovarian cancer if the powder particles were to travel up through her vagina and get lodged in her ovaries.2
As noted by Robinson Calcagnie Inc., a legal firm representing talcum powder victims, more than 20 such studies exist.3 Some date back to 1971, when British researchers found talc particles embedded in a majority of the ovarian tumors investigated.4
While the measure of risk varies from study to study, the results suggest women may increase their risk for ovarian cancer anywhere from 30 to 90 percent by applying talcum powder to their genital area.5
A 2008 study concluded that using talc as little as once a week raised a woman's risk of ovarian cancer by 36 percent. Daily users faced a 41 percent increased risk.6Johnson & Johnson Faces Legal Challenges Over Carcinogenic Talcum Powder
According to Robinson Calcagnie:
"The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] has designated 'perineal [genital] use of talc-based body powder is possibly carcinogenic to humans.'
However, manufacturers of talc-containing products, such as [J&J] and its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products, have refused to acknowledge the link between talc and ovarian cancer and have failed [to] adequately warn consumers of the risks.
Now, more than 1,000 women across the country have filed lawsuits against [J&J] and its talc distributor Imerys, claiming the companies knew of the association between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer yet failed to adequately warn consumers."Johnson & Johnson to Pay $72 Million in Damages to Ovarian Cancer Victim
In February, 2016, a jury found J&J's talcum powder had contributed to 62-year old Jacqueline Fox's ovarian cancer, awarding Fox $72 million in damages.7
Ten million dollars was awarded for compensatory damages. Another $62 million in punitive damages was awarded to her family members, as Fox died last fall, succumbing to the disease after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago.
Fox's deposition was delivered via a prerecorded statement, in which she said she'd been using J&J's talcum powder and Shower to Shower body powder for 35 years. She now believed these products were responsible for killing her. Fox was the first to receive financial compensation.
Waiting for their day in court are another 1,200 women who, like Fox, claim J&J knew about the risks yet failed to warn them about the dangers of its talcum products. One Missouri-based law firm was contacted by 17,000 individuals after hearing about Fox's case, so the number of plaintiffs is likely to increase exponentially with time.8
The second defendant in the case, Imerys Talc America, was not found to be at fault. According to the jury foreman, Krista Smith, internal J&J documents clearly showed the company was hiding their knowledge about the products' risks.
"We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff's family but firmly believe the safety of the cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence."J&J Hid Dangers of Talc for 40 Years
Two additional court cases have tied J&J's talcum powder to ovarian cancer. On May 2, 2016, jurors awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million in damages. Ristesund, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, had used J&J's talcum products for 40 years.
After her hysterectomy, doctors did indeed find talcum powder in her ovarian tissue. According to the Huffington Post, internal documents and memos sealed the deal for jurors in this case as well, proving the company "tried to cover up and influence the boards that regulate cosmetics."11
Talcum powder is a magnesium trisilicate mineral. In the 1970s, concerns were raised when talc was found to contain cancer-causing asbestos. In 1973, it was written into law that all talcum powders must be asbestos-free.
However, the ovarian cancer connection is actually not related to the asbestos but is an independent risk factor. As reported by the Huffington Post:
"In 1993, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) published a study on the toxicity of non-asbestiform talc and found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity. Talc was found to be a carcinogen, with or without the presence of asbestos-like fibers.
In response to the federal NTP study, the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association formed the Talc Interested Party Task Force (TIPTF). Johnson & Johnson was a member of the trade lobby and was the primary actor and contributors of TIPTF.
The stated purpose of TIPTF was to pool financial resources of these companies in an effort to collectively defend talc use and to prevent regulation of any type over this industry."The Talc Cover-Up
Interestingly, Johnson & Johnson owned Splenda and before I wrote my book Sweet Deception, their New York legal firm wrote me a twenty page letter warning me not to publish the book or they would sue me for tens of millions in damages. Of course I published the book and they never sued me because everything I wrote was true.
But getting back to talc,as many other dangerous industries have done, TIPTF hired scientists to produce biased research that was then used to give consumers a false sense of security.
This worked for a number of decades, but then, in 2006, the Canadian government classified talc as a D2A substance under its Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. D2A substances are considered "very toxic" and "cancer causing."
That same year, J&J's talc supplier, Imerys Talc, started adding warnings to the talc sold to J&J, providing safety information not only from the IARC but also the Canadian government.
J&J never passed these warnings on to consumers, and still don't, claiming the scientific evidence supports its safety.
J&J also continues to "educate" consumers about the safety of talc on its website, making no mention of having been found guilty of negligence by two separate juries, or the 1,200 pending cases charging talcum powder contributed to ovarian cancer.Some Talc May Still Be Contaminated With Asbestos
BASF and its lawyers are also facing fraud charges related to talc — in this case asbestos-contaminated talc. A class action lawsuit filed against them alleges the parties "conspired to hide and/or destroy evidence of asbestos exposure to prevent lawsuits."
As it turns out, while asbestos-containing talc has been banned since 1973, a company called Engelhard sourced talc from a mine in Vermont that contained asbestos. Engelhard was later acquired by BASF, which inherited the company's liabilities. According to the law office Bergman Draper Ladenburg:12
"Three Engelhard officials testified in depositions that there was in fact asbestos in the talc and that company officials hid this fact."J&J Has a Long History of Malfeasance
You may be surprised to realize that J&J actually has a long history of corporate malfeasance. AllBusiness.com named J&J as one of the Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s13 for deliberately destroying documents related to a criminal investigation of one its products. In the last three years alone the company has spent more than $5 billion to settle lawsuits related to its products.
2010 was a particularly bad year for J&J. First it was discovered the company hid drug manufacturing problems, and instead of recalling its defective Motrin tablets, it sent undercover agents disguised as regular shoppers to buy up remaining stock.
That same year, the government of British Columbia, Canada, filed suit against J&J, claiming they aggressively marketed the Ortho Evra contraception patch without disclosing serious side effects like blood clots, pulmonary embolism, strokes, heart attacks and deep vein thrombosis. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also accused the company of paying tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks to Omnicare Inc. to buy and recommend J&J drugs.14
Investigations also revealed J&J's No More Tears baby shampoo contained two potentially cancer-causing chemicals: quaternium-15, which releases formaldehyde (a skin, eye and respiratory irritant, and a known carcinogen), and 1,4-dioxane, known to be a likely carcinogen. After several years of pressure from consumer advocates, J&J finally removed these dangerous ingredients from its baby shampoo in 2014.15How Many Chemicals Does Your Beauty Routine Expose You to?
The average American woman uses 12 personal care products and/or cosmetics a day, containing 168 different chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). While most men use fewer products, they're still exposed to about 85 such chemicals daily, while teens, who use an average of 17 personal care products a day, are exposed to even more.16 Clearly, such chemical exposures are not insignificant, especially when they occur virtually daily for a lifetime.
When EWG tested teens to find out which chemicals in personal care products were found in their bodies, 16 different hormone-altering chemicals, including parabens and phthalates, were detected. There are other chemicals risks as well.
In the report "Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup,"17 Environmental Defense tested 49 different makeup items, including foundations, concealers, powders, blushes, mascaras, eye liners, eye shadows, lipsticks and lip glosses. Their testing revealed serious heavy metal contamination in virtually all of the products:
1. 96 percent contained lead
2. 90 percent contained beryllium
3. 61 percent contained thallium
4. 51 percent contained cadmium
5. 20 percent contained arsenicClick Here
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/personal-care-products.jpg" alt="personal care products" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;" /><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Your skin is your largest organ, and anything you put on it should contain only the best and safest ingredients from nature. So before slathering lotion or body wash on your skin, take a look at this infographic on toxic chemicals found in <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/personal-care-products.htm"><strong>personal care products</strong></a>. Discover these common yet deadly chemicals and how they can potentially sabotage your health and well-being. </p> <pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code><img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/personal-care-products.jpg" alt="personal care products" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Your skin is your largest organ, and anything you put on it should contain only the best and safest ingredients from nature. So before slathering lotion or body wash on your skin, take a look at this infographic on toxic chemicals found in <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/personal-care-products.htm"><strong>personal care products</strong></a>. Discover these common yet deadly chemicals and how they can potentially sabotage your health and well-being. </p></code></pre>
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the codHow to Reduce Your Chemical Exposures
The EWG has a great database to help you find personal care products that are free of potentially dangerous chemicals.18 Products bearing the "USDA 100% Organic" seal are among your safest bets if you want to avoid potentially toxic ingredients. Beware that products boasting "all-natural" labels can still contain harmful chemicals, so be sure to check the full list of ingredients.
Better yet, simplify your routine and make your own products. A slew of lotions, potions and hair treatments can be eliminated with a jar of coconut oil, for example, to which you can add a high-quality essential oil, if you like, for scent.
It's important to remember that your skin is your largest and most permeable organ. Just about anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream and distributed throughout your body. Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down.
When it comes to talcum powder, my recommendation is to avoid it altogether. Also remember that adult women are not the ones most commonly exposed to talc. Most parents generously apply baby talcum powder to their baby's bottom at each diaper change.
A safe substitute that can absorb moisture is cornstarch. In 1999, following reports of talcum dangers, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) came out with the recommendation to use cornstarch-based products in the genital area in lieu of talcum powder.19
By Dr. Mercola
McDonald’s food chain has been in the news after recently revealing 17 menu changes in response to customer complaints and declining sales. On the surface these changes appear to improve the quality of their menu items, but is it too little, too late?
McDonald’s highest selling burger,1 Big Mac, with a side order of fries and a coke, together deliver a whopping 940 calories packed with 123 grams of carbohydrates.2 Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end with the meal at McDonald’s.
Receiving more than a day’s worth of carbohydrates in one meal may trigger a drop in blood sugar in the following two to four hours, increasing hunger and the potential for overeating. The high carbohydrate load may increase your insulin resistance, prompting metabolic syndrome and may lead to weight gain.
The development of the fast food chain began decades ago in response to the ability to integrate mass production and food supply to a large geographical area.
The first fast food restaurants opened their doors in the early 1920s (A&W, 1919, and White Castle, 1921) but the industry didn’t flourish until McDonald’s revolutionized their food preparation and opened chains across the U.S.
From their first restaurant in 1940 to the first franchise in 1954, the McDonald brothers worked to streamline their operation, decrease their overhead and increase their returns. Today, the chain is struggling to change perception and align more closely with health conscious consumers.Changes in Response to Sales
Declining sales in the past two years prompted many of the newly announced changes to the menu at McDonald’s, and the changes have paid off. Sales rose 5.4 percent in the first quarter of this year and a quarterly profit of 35 percent compared to the same quarter last year.3
However, the health of the organization does not equate to healthier menu options for you. On August 1, 2016, McDonald’s announced several changes that affect nearly half of their menu. These include:4
• Removing artificial preservatives from items on the menu including Chicken McNuggets, omelets and scrambled eggs.
• Removing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from the buns.
• Serving chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.
Mike Andres, president of McDonald's U.S.A., says the company has been taking a hard look at the preparation and foods being served in the fast food chain. McDonald's had good reasoning for using ingredients such as HFCS and artificial preservatives, but their customers disliked them.
Quoted in The New York Times, Andres said: "Why take a position to defend them if consumers are saying they don't want them?"5 And Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald's North America supply chain, was quoted in Reuters, saying:
"We know that they don't feel good about high-fructose corn syrup so we're giving them what they're looking for instead."
Their effort to improve the image of the food chain prompted the company to file a trademark for the tagline, “The Simpler, The Better.”6 McDonald’s is emphasizing fresh cracked eggs in the Egg McMuffins, 100 percent “real” beef in their burgers and chicken now made with “simple pantry ingredients.”7Antibiotic Use in Chickens
In 2015, McDonald’s released a statement regarding antibiotic use in chickens and a promise to “stop using antibiotics important to human medicine” by 2017.8 In August 2016 they announced they had achieved this goal one year earlier than expected.9 However, in small print, at the bottom of the press release, is this statement:
“Farmers still use ionophores, a class of antibiotics that are not prescribed to people, to help keep chickens healthy.”
Ionophores are a class of antibiotics used exclusively in animals and more commonly in ruminant animals such as cows. The use of the antibiotic in poultry farming is to control parasitic illnesses in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where disease spreads quickly.
The most common form of ionophores antibiotic used in cattle is monensin, and those used in poultry farming include monensin, bambermycin, narasin and salinomycin.10
However, ionophores are used exclusively to prevent parasite infections in poultry and not as an antibiotic, including therapeutically when a chicken is sick.11
Like antibiotics, the parasite coccidia that ionophores are used to prevent, often become resistant to the drug over time. In beef, the drug is used to alter the gut flora in an attempt to improve nutrient utilization, or increase weight gain and the amount of meat per animal.12
In one study performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Cornell University, researchers demonstrated the monensin used in the beef industry and the selection of specific bacteria resistant to monensin resulted in a 32-fold increase in resistance to bacitracin, used in human medicine.13,14
Bacitracin was the only antibiotic to which the test bacteria developed a resistance. Ionophores are not used in human medicine because they are lethal to humans.15 This caveat appears to be important to poultry and beef farmers, but the effects the drug has on the meat and the end consumer are not well documented.
Attempting to explain how continued use of ionophores would not affect antibacterial resistance, microbiologist Dr. Charles Hofacre, a veterinarian and professor at the University of Georgia, made a sweeping statement in Poultry Health Today, saying:16
“The poultry industry has been using ionophores for over 40 years. We’d have seen a lot more resistance with antibiotics used in people if ionophores caused resistance to other classes of antibiotics.”Butter and Eggs Are Important Ingredients
Two other major changes McDonald’s has either pledged to make in 2016, or has already changed, are switching to more natural products in their foods, such as butter and eggs, and replacing HFCS with sugar.17
These are small steps in the right direction; however, neither the butter nor the eggs are sourced from organic, free-range animals. Not all butter and eggs are created equally.
Every meal you feed your cells has a compound effect on your long-term health. The nutritional value in butter and eggs from CAFO raised animals is significantly lower than pastured, organically raised animals.
McDonald’s admits that these changes increase the cost of producing the food, but said they would not pass those additional costs to the consumer “partly because a decline in commodity prices has reduced some food expenses.”18
Conventionally raised poultry and cows are typically fed genetically engineered (GE) feed laced with food additives. What the animal produces is only as good as what they are fed. According to Food Babe:19
"Conventional dairy cow feed is sometimes fortified with additional protein, omega-3 fatty acids and CLA from GMO rapeseed (canola) because the cows are not getting these nutrients naturally from the grass.
GMO alfalfa hay is also commonly fed to cows. So basically, conventionally raised cows are almost entirely getting their food from GMOs — food that was created in a laboratory, that hasn't been tested long term, but has produced horrific results in several alarming animal studies."HFCS and Sugar in the Buns
HFCS is more toxic than refined sugar. McDonald’s is acknowledging the need to change as their customers are demanding a menu offering more nutritionally dense products and foods with ingredients you can pronounce. In other words, more whole foods and less processed, preservative-laden, chemicals.
HFCS is high in net carbohydrates. While HFCS is not healthy, it’s not just the amount of carbohydrates you eat, but also the kind that is reflected on your bathroom scale and that creates insulin resistance.
The use of HFCS was also possibly financially driven as it is cheaper to manufacture and use than it is to pay government tariffs on the import of cane sugar.22 HFCS is also sweeter than most sugars, contributing to the reduced cost of using the product, and may contain mercury from the production process.
The switch to sugar in their buns will not appreciably reduce the overall grams of carbohydrates in the product or the number of calories. While removing HFCS is a healthier choice, it is only slightly healthier as the product continues to spike your insulin, increase your risk for weight gain and increase the inflammatory process in your body.23
Foods high in refined sugars and carbohydrates are not part of a healthy diet and may be the culprit behind your challenge with weight management. A high glycemic index from the carbohydrates cause a quick surge in blood sugar, which is stored in muscle and turned to fat when it isn’t used.Marketing Requirements Are Driving This Train
Stephen Dutton, food analyst at food industry Euromonitor International, quoted in The Washington Post, said:24 "It's more about perception about the actual healthfulness of the product rather than its nutrition value."
And perception drives sales for the company. Steve Easterbrook became the chief executive at McDonald’s in March 2015, and since then the company has been making changes to their product line. Several changes include serving breakfast all day, expanding into self-serve kiosks and interior remodels, none of which change the calorie count or nutritional value of the food served.
These changes are further evidence of major chains trying to improve the image of their restaurants, against their competition. Other chains are exploring alternative food options, such as the Waffle Taco mash-up from Taco Bell and Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos, the addition of more real egg to the Dunkin’ Donuts’ egg patty, or actual pepper instead of “black pepper flavor” at Taco Bell.25
While McDonald’s is attempting to change perception by making small improvements to their food supply and remodeling their restaurants, it hasn’t changed the carbohydrate count, calories or lack of nutritional value in the food served. Your best bet continues to be eating real whole food.Whole Food Choices Download Interview Transcript
In this interview, Australian chef Pete Evans talks about how delicious and easy it can be to eat a healthy diet to improve your health and daily life. Planning your meals at the beginning of your week and spending some time doing food preparation will help you stick to a healthy diet.
I also recommend keeping an assortment of your favorite fresh raw veggies in the refrigerator, and raw nuts for snacking, since the more raw foods you can incorporate into your diet, the higher your nutrient intake. I personally aim to consume about 80 percent of my diet raw.
By the way, it's a myth that eating healthy, natural foods is prohibitively expensive. In fact, consuming a fresh, organic diet doesn’t have to cost much more than a diet filled with processed foods and junk foods. For tips on which foods aren’t important to purchase organic, see my previous article titled, “12 Foods You Don’t Have to Buy Organic.”
Nothing less than the very future of humanity is at stake if the insanity of denatured, processed foods continues unabated. In the United States, fast food is available just about everywhere, including hospitals and schools. This type of diet:
• Exponentially increases your risk of obesity and diabetes
• Is loaded with dangerous additives like trans fats, HFCS and MSG
• Contains GE ingredients
• Lacks the nutrients your body needs to thrive, let alone maintain health
It’s everything your body doesn’t need. It’s time to realize that the average diet has shifted too far from what your body requires, and that there are no magic pills to save you from the ramifications. You’ll begin to experience improved health when you return to a diet of locally grown, fresh, whole and natural foods.
By Dr. Mercola
Slightly less than 7 percent, or 15.9 million Americans, have been diagnosed with ulcers.1 Approximately 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.2 Although treatment has improved after physicians acknowledged the primary cause of ulcers, the number of new cases has not declined.
Unfortunately, while there are new drugs on the market to reduce the production of acid in an effort to reduce your symptoms, these drugs don’t treat the underlying cause and come with their own set of side effects and problems.
The more common types of medications used to treat ulcers may also ultimately worsen the condition of your stomach lining and your overall health. The aim of these drugs are to significantly reduce stomach acid. However, this acid is a valuable chemical contributor to digestion and not the culprit behind your ulcer.
How do you know if you should see your physician about a potential ulcer? Before reading a list of symptoms, it’s important to have an understanding of the basic anatomy of your digestive system, the different types of ulcers and your available treatment options.What You Need to Know About the Anatomy of Your Digestive System
Your stomach is kidney shaped and located just below your ribs on the left side. Food passes through your esophagus and a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter, before passing into your stomach.
The lower end of your stomach has another sphincter, called the pyloric sphincter, connecting your stomach with the beginning of your small intestines, called the duodenum.
The duodenum is about 12 inches long, and helps your body regulate the amount of food flowing out of your stomach. You have glands inside your stomach wall that produce acid and pepsin, an enzyme that helps digest food. Normally your stomach produces mucus to protect your mucosal lining from the acid.
If you have an ulcer in your digestive tract, this defense against the acid may break down. Often this is the result of an infection with helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium. The acid forms sores on the lining of either your duodenum (duodenal ulcer) or your stomach (gastric ulcer).
These ulcers are called peptic ulcers or peptic ulcer disease (PUD) and are named for their location in your digestive tract. Sometimes these ulcers can heal on their own. However, 35 percent of gastric ulcers will cause serious complications, such as bleeding or perforation (hole) of the stomach wall when not properly addressed.3
Other complications include bleeding, inflammation of the stomach or duodenum, infection, or narrowing or blockage where the duodenum leaves the stomach. In the last instance, food begins to leave your stomach more slowly until it is finally completely blocked or obstructed. This may cause vomiting.4How to Tell If You Have an Ulcer
Symptoms of a peptic ulcer may vary slightly, depending upon the location, the degree of inflammation and whether or not you are suffering from a partial block to your duodenum.
✓ A gnawing or burning pain in the middle or upper stomach between meals or at night
✓ Feeling full after eating a small amount of food or bloating
✓ Increased symptoms eating foods high in fat
✓ Losing weight without trying
✓ Loss of appetite
Severe cases may result in:
• Dark or black stool from bleeding
• Vomiting blood (looks like coffee grounds)
• Severe pain in the mid- to upper abdomen
• Trouble breathing
• Vomiting partially digested food from blockageCommon and Uncommon Causes of Peptic Ulcers
In some cases, symptoms of an ulcer may resolve when you remove the triggering agent. For instance, medications may impact the quality of your stomach lining, reducing protection against normal acid production.9
Medications known to have this effect include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen. Even enteric coated aspirin or other prescription medications may increase your potential for increased acid production and ulcer formation.
Excessive alcohol intake may trigger ulcer formation, as will smoking, chewing tobacco or radiation treatments to your abdomen.10 Excessive acid production may also occur from gastrinomas, or tumors formed in the cells producing acid in your stomach.
However, by far, the most common cause of ulcerations in the stomach or duodenum is the result of an overgrowth of the bacteria H. pylori. This bacteria damages the mucus protecting the lining of your stomach from your stomach acid.11
In 2005, the Nobel Assembly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Drs. Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren for their discovery of the link between the bacteria helicobacter pylori and gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.12
Called an “unexpected discovery,” Marshall and Warren linked inflammation and ulceration of the stomach to an infection from bacteria.
Although the ulcerations appear to heal by reducing the gastric acid in the stomach, they often quickly relapse because the treatment did not reduce the level of bacteria or treat the inflammatory response.
H. pylori causes a chronic infection and inflammation that may or may not be symptomatic. Normally your stomach’s high acidity is a poor environment for bacterial growth.
Treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduces the acidity and allows bacteria to flourish. Other studies also support the theory that reflux diseases are triggered, in part, by an overgrowth of bacteria.13,14,15The Value of Stomach Acid
Stomach acid is necessary for not only the digestion and breakdown of the food you eat, but also to protect your body against bacterial growth.
Your gastrointestinal tract is home to a large part of your immune system, protecting you from invaders by producing acids and accommodating colonies of beneficial bacteria that act as your defensive army.
The environment inside your stomach is normally highly acidic (pH 4). This acts as a defense against harmful pathogens that are unable to live in such an acidic setting. The majority of the acids are hydrochloric acid and pepsin. As you age, reaching your 30s and 40s, your stomach begins to produce less acid, giving you less protection.
Whether you experience low levels of stomach acid from aging or from the use of antacids, there are secondary effects that may negatively impact your health.
• Bacterial Overgrowth
Lack of stomach acid increases the growth of bacteria in your stomach, which may lead to malabsorption of nutrients and has been linked to inflammation of the stomach wall.16
• Poor Nutrient Absorption
One of the most common causes of impaired function of digestion and the absorption of nutrients is the reduction of stomach acid production. This occurs in both the elderly and individuals on long-term antacid treatments.17 Acid breaks down proteins, activates hormones and enzymes and protects your gut against overgrowth of bacteria.
• Decreased Resistance to Infection
Your mouth, esophagus and intestines are home to a healthy growth of bacteria, but your stomach is relatively sterile. Stomach acid kills most of the bacteria coming from your food or liquids, protecting your stomach and your intestinal tract from abnormal bacterial growth.19 At the same time, your stomach acid prevents bacteria growing in your intestines from moving into your stomach.
Reducing stomach acid changes the pH of the stomach and allows external bacteria to grow. Some antacids may reduce stomach acid between 90 and 95 percent, increasing your risk of salmonella, c. difficile, giardia and listeria infections.20,21
Other studies have linked the use of acid-reducing drugs to the development of pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB) and typhoid.22,23,24 The distortion of the gut microbiome affects your immune system and may increase your overall risk of infection.PPIs and H2 Blockers Treat the Symptoms, Not the Cause
When PPIs were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they were intended to be taken for no more than six weeks. However, today, it is not uncommon to find people who have been taking these drugs for more than 10 years.25 Both PPIs and H2 Blockers may initially reduce your symptoms as they reduce the amount of acid produced in your stomach, and thus reduce the acidity affecting the ulcerations. However, the reduction in acidity also encourages bacterial growth.
Also, when you stop taking these anti-acid drugs, your acidity will tend to rise, resulting in more ulcerations from the action of the acid on your stomach walls. This is why quitting cold turkey is not recommended. You need to gradually cut down on these drugs. Appropriate treatment will address the action that caused your stomach ulcer.
You may need to reduce or eliminate your use of NSAIDs and reduce your alcohol intake or frequency of tobacco use. There are several methods you and your physician may discuss to determine if H. pylori is the culprit behind your peptic ulcers.26
• Carbon Isotope Urea Breath Test
H. pylori convert urea into carbon dioxide. Ten minutes after consuming a special substance with urea, the carbon dioxide in your breath is measured. This test can accurately determine if you have an H. pylori infection and is used after treatment to determine if it was successful.
• Blood Test
A blood test can measure antibodies to H. pylori to determine if you have been exposed to the bacteria. This test can remain positive for years after an infection and so cannot be used to determine if any treatment was successful.
• Stool Test
H. pylori can be detected in your stool and so can be used to determine if you have an infection.
• Tissue Biopsy
This is the most accurate method to determine if you have an infection. A tissue sample from your stomach lining is taken during an outpatient endoscopy procedure.Effective Treatment Choices
In this short video, I review why PPIs are a very poor choice to treat ulcers, and what options you have to reduce your pain and control the growth of H. pylori in your gut.
If your test for H. pylori is positive, you have two choices for treatment. Many people around the world have H. pylori in their gut,27 but not everyone is symptomatic. The bacteria is spread through mouth-to-mouth contact, and contaminated food and water.28 Food and lifestyle choices enable the bacteria to proliferate in your gut and create the symptoms of a peptic ulcer.
You may choose a combination of antibiotics to control the bacteria,29 but discover you must make other long-term choices to achieve lasting relief. Alternatively, you may choose to use the strategies listed below to both affect relief from the ulcers and continue to control the population of H. pylori in your gut, thus addressing the root cause of the problem.
Processed foods and sugars create an imbalance in your digestive microbiome and promote the growth of pathogenic microbes. Eating real, ideally organic foods is the first step toward re-establishing a healthy gut. Reduce or completely eliminate the foods you’ve found that trigger your pain. Many people find it necessary to eliminate mints, caffeinated drinks, coffee, alcohol, nicotine and chocolates as their gut is healing.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce these pathogenic bacteria is to reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria. You can use either traditionally fermented foods or a high-quality probiotic supplement. These can naturally help to reduce the bacterial growth of H. pylori in your gut.Other Nutritional Recommendations
Drink a lot of clean water from a good source, up to a gallon a day divided equally throughout the day. This will help to dilute the acid in your stomach and help relieve discomfort. Include a high quality source of omega-3 fats, to improve your immune system and give your body the raw materials needed to attack the infection. My personal preference is krill oil.
Bone broth can help rebuild the tissue in your stomach lining. Bone broth naturally contains gelatin and cartilage, essential building blocks for tissue growth. It also increases gastric acid secretion, normally inhibited by PPIs and H. pylori bacteria.30 The broth contains glutamine, which plays a small but important role in cell metabolism and cell growth in your small intestines.31
Vitamin D is also important to address any bacterial overgrowth in your body. Optimized vitamin D levels can be obtained through sensible sun exposure, ideally daily, or through the use of an oral vitamin D3 supplement. It’s important to remember to take vitamin K2 (MK-7 form) if you are using oral vitamin D3 to reduce your risk of hardening your arterial walls.
A tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 6 ounces of water daily can help to balance your gastric acid production and create an inhospitable environment for H. pylori growth. Ginger root also has a protective effect on your gastrointestinal tract. Put two slices of fresh ginger root in 16-ounces of hot water and allow it to steep for about 30 minutes.
Drink it about 20 minutes before a meal. In one study the use of ginger root proved six to eight times more potent in the treatment of heartburn than Prevacid.32
California about to pass the 'Medical Pedophiles Protection Act' to criminalize journalists for posting videos that document medical abuse of children, seniors and surgical patients
Facebook censors photo of ovarian cancer patient because the truth exposes the criminal drug industry
Not just marijuana: The FDA has always denied the existence of therapeutic benefits associated with ALL plants
CNN caught lying about Secret Service threatening Trump campaign over gun remarks, so why should public believe them on GMOs and Obamacare?
By Dr. Mercola
Antibiotic-resistant disease has become a serious public health threat, and the evidence shows the routine use of antibiotics in food animals such as cows and chickens plays a major role in the development and spread of these drug-resistant bacteria.1
The weight of the evidence is such that no one in their right mind would publicly argue that antibiotics in agriculture are of no consequence. Yet that's exactly what Sanderson Farms is doing.
I predict the company will ultimately pay a steep price for its foolish and reckless behavior, but in the meantime it is perpetuating a practice that is putting your health and those that you love and care for at risk.
Sanderson Farms does not see the obvious irony of their "100% Natural" marketing claim that is plastered on their packages, websites and commercials. If "antibiotic-free" chicken is a marketing gimmick, "100% Natural" chicken raised by Sanderson Farms is about the biggest chicken fraud of all time.Perdue Farms' Success Proves Antibiotics Are Unnecessary
A number of poultry producers have already taken steps to cut down or eliminate antibiotics from their production. Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride and Foster Farms have all announced they're implementing procedures to reduce their use.
Tyson has vowed to "largely eliminate" antibiotics used in human medicine by September 2017.4 Meanwhile, Perdue Farms — the nation's fourth largest poultry producer — started cutting back on antibiotics in 2002. It stopped using gentamicin altogether in 2014.
According to a recent report by Mother Jones,5 the only antibiotic remaining in use at Perdue is narasin, which is used to treat a parasitic intestinal condition called coccidiosis. This antibiotic is not used in human medicine, and only about one-third of Perdue's chickens ever receive it.
Perdue clearly shows that meat can be profitably mass-produced without the use of antibiotics. The company also demonstrates that eliminating antibiotics can make the meat safer.
Perdue received the highest safety score in a 2010 Consumer Reports test6 that checked for the presence of the foodborne pathogens salmonella and campylobacter in commercial chicken meat. Fifty-six percent of Perdue's chickens were free of both pathogens.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of Tyson and Foster Farms' chickens tested positive for one or both bacteria. Organic store brand chickens had no salmonella at all, but 57 percent still harbored campylobacter.
According to Consumer Reports, "This is the first time since we began testing chicken that one major brand has fared significantly better than others across the board." Even back then, Perdue's exemplary success was attributed to its more stringent policies on antibiotics.Sanderson Farms Bucks Trend to Cut Down on Antibiotics
Back in May, I urged you to pressure Sanderson Farms to come to its senses and join other major poultry producers in taking proactive steps to reduce its antibiotic use.
Remarkably, the company decided to go public with its decision to continue using antibiotics instead, saying the antibiotic-free chicken trend is nothing but a marketing ploy devised to justify higher prices! As reported by The New York Times:7
"'There's a lot of confusion about the labels used to market chicken,' said Mike Cockrell, chief financial officer at Sanderson. 'We have decided we're not going to sacrifice our environmental goals, our animal welfare goals or our food safety goals for marketing purposes.'
The ads feature two blue-collar men, Bob and Dale, in plaid shirts and baseball caps talking about the labels on chicken. 'The ones that say 'raised without antibiotics,'' Dale says in one of the ads, 'That's just a trick to get you to pay more money.'"Sanderson Denies Link Between Overuse of Antibiotics and Rising Drug-Resistance
According to Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, "There is not any credible science that leads us to believe we're causing antibiotic resistance in humans."8
This stance is not only ignorant. It's dangerous and flies in the face of dozens of studies. If you cause antibiotic resistance to develop in the animals, you're inevitably causing it in humans. Literally millions of lives are at stake if we do not address the elephant in the room that is agricultural antibiotics. As noted in the featured article:9
"[S]cientific research from around the world had demonstrated that antibiotic use in animals that produce food has a negative impact on public health.
"'There have been a number of well-documented epidemics where animals given antibiotics were carrying disease-causing bacteria that were resistant to those antibiotics that made people very sick,' [Dr. Robert Tauxe, director of the division of food-borne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the CDC] said."Sanderson Confuses and Mixes Up Concerns
Sanderson also claims that no commercially sold chicken, whether treated with antibiotics or not, will contain antibiotics by the time you buy it since the antibiotics must be stopped in time before slaughter in order to ensure the drugs are no longer in the animals' system.
However, this really does NOT address the actual concerns about antibiotic use in chickens. As noted by Tauxe:
"When animals are given antibiotics, they have to be stopped within enough time for the antibiotics to wash out of their systems before slaughter. Our concern remains, however, the bacteria on the meat and poultry that are resistant to the antibiotics the animals were given."
Precisely. So who's confusing the public now? I would argue that Sanderson, in a foolhardy effort to protect an antiquated and hazardous practice, is confusing the public with "facts" that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, but are designed to increase their profits at the expense of public health.
When animals are given antibiotics, it promotes drug resistance in the microbes found in and on the animal, and those drug-resistant bacteria can then be spread to those who handle or eat the tainted meat.
This is true whether the chicken contains traces of antibiotics or not. So while eating trace amounts of antibiotics is a concern,10 it's not the most significant one.Putting a Price Tag on Public Health
Paying a few pennies more per pound of chicken is a small price to pay for an antibiotic-free bird, and I'm certainly not the only person who feels this way. The fact that Perdue has been growing faster than any of its competitors is evidence of this sentiment. Perdue also proves that Sanderson is wrong in its assessment of the ramifications of going antibiotic-free. As reported by The New York Times:
"'We looked at it, and we would need more corn, more water, more soybean meal, more housing, more electricity,' [Butts] said. 'But sustainability calls for using less of everything.' In interviews this year, however, Perdue said that its move to all but eliminate antibiotics from its operations — it still medicates sick flocks — had not raised its costs nor increased the mortality rate of its chickens."
Interestingly, Sanderson claims they don't use antibiotics for growth promotion, yet they've determined that more food would be required if they didn't use antibiotics. That sure sounds like the antibiotics they use are expected to contribute to growth, doesn't it?Sanderson Aims to Convince Ignorant Consumers With Its Ads
According to Butts, Sanderson Farms' work with focus groups reveals that consumers are confused about the exact meaning of different antibiotic-free labels. He also claims that after hearing Sanderson's justification for using antibiotics, most people in the focus groups agreed that it made sense to them.
Butts also noted that while about 20 percent of people had already made up their minds about whether or not they were willing to buy antibiotic-treated chicken, another 20 percent based their decision purely on price. The remaining 60 percent Butts refers to as "the movable middle" — people willing to listen to facts and reason — and these are the people Sanderson is trying to sway with their ads.
Too bad their ads are filled with deceptive lies contributing to the needless deaths of tens of thousands every year in the U.S. alone. If Sanderson really wants to help educate the public about antibiotics, it should track and publicly share the types and amounts of antibiotics it uses. Data like that could be very useful for scientists trying to understand the impact of agricultural drugs on public health, for better or worse.Sanderson Blames Drug Resistance on Medical Institutions
Considering the fact that 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used in agriculture, and the amount of evidence showing agricultural use of antibiotics is driving the drug resistance epidemic, I can only wonder where Sanderson is getting its information. In a press release, the company says:11
"While Sanderson Farms recognizes that antibiotic resistance is an issue that must be taken seriously, many industry experts agree the issue is related to the overuse and over-prescription of antibiotics in humans, and more closely linked to medical institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, rather than agricultural processes that have been in place for decades."
Who are these industry experts, exactly? Because, for many years now, scientists have repeatedly warned that agricultural use of antibiotics is a bad idea that must be curbed. The industry didn't listen, and today we have a very serious situation on our hands — a situation Sanderson apparently wants to drag out to the bitter end, no matter what the cost, as long as it doesn't cost the company any extra money.
The argument that antibiotic use in chickens cannot be part of the problem simply because it's been done for decades really sounds like something out of the tobacco industry's playbook. It's about as ignorant an argument as you can get, really. Just because something has been routinely done for a long time is not a guarantee of safety, especially when scientists have clearly demonstrated how routine use of these drugs in animals promotes resistance in bacteria.
Many tests have also shown that at least half of all meats sold in the U.S. is contaminated with some form of bacteria, including drug-resistant ones. According to the CDC,12 there are 12 antibiotic-resistant pathogens that pose a "serious" threat to public health, and one-third of them are found in food.Viable Alternatives to Antibiotics Exist
Sanderson claims it cannot produce healthy chickens without antibiotics, yet Perdue has already been doing it for well over a decade. In lieu of antibiotics, Perdue keeps its birds healthy using natural remedies like probiotics and oregano. As in humans, by keeping the chickens' intestines "well-seeded" with healthy bacteria, pathogens are suppressed and immune function is boosted.
Certain strains of probiotics (which Perdue guards as a trade secret) have also been shown to boost the chickens' growth rate. As noted by Mother Jones, Perdue has also taken a number of other steps to improve the wellbeing of its flocks:13
"Perdue even turns off the lights in the chicken houses for four hours a night so the birds can rest. In the past, lights were left on 24 hours per day on the theory that chickens kept awake eat more and thus get fatter faster. Reducing stress by letting the birds rest ... makes them healthier — and since healthy birds grow faster, the extra sleep has the same effect as constant feeding."
Another alternative warranting further investigation would be colloidal silver, which has a history of use that stretches back thousands of years. As noted in a 2013 study,14 which assessed silver's ability to reduce or prevent post-surgical infections, its bactericidal activity is well established. Researchers have also demonstrated that silver can boost the effectiveness of antibiotics by thousands of times.15Antibiotic-Free Operations Require Strict Sanitation
Perdue and other poultry producers shared their insights on going antibiotic-free at this year's Poultry Science Association's meeting in New Orleans. Randolph Mitchell, vice president of technical services at Perdue Farms, noted that once you transition over to no-antibiotics-ever (NAE) or antibiotic-free (ABF) production, sanitation becomes a paramount priority. This is also what raises production costs, not reduced performance or increased mortality.
"Batal asked whether removing antibiotics because they might contribute to antimicrobial resistance in human medicine or because a segment of consumers don't want them is truly responsible. She argued antibiotic-free flocks need more time, energy, food and water than conventional birds. Using antibiotics, therefore, is the responsible choice. The nutritionist urged the audience to not work against its own interest."Can You Believe the AUDACITY of Sanderson Farms?
Adding insult to injury, Sanderson Farms advertises their chicken as 100 percent natural, its slogan being that the only thing in their chicken is chicken.17 An interactive presentation on its website features cartoon chickens playing volleyball and lounging in front of fans, suggesting that Sanderson's chickens are well cared for and lead a rather splendid, carefree life.
Anyone who has ever seen the inside of a broiler concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) knows how unlikely it is for that representation to be true.
I fail to see how antibiotic-treated chicken are 100 percent natural. I'm fairly certain a large portion of the population would assume the "100 percent natural" label implies that the animals were raised in accordance with tradition, which does NOT include genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy or the routine use of antibiotics.
They're wrong, of course, since the "natural" label is completely unregulated and therefore has no meaning whatsoever. But it's ironic that while Sanderson creates a campaign to expose antibiotic-free labeling claims as a sham, it's using the natural label as if it actually means something. It's also interesting to note the timing of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) decision to audit meat and poultry claims this fall.
Claims such as antibiotic-free and hormone-free will be evaluated to ensure they're not misleading and that they are in compliance with regulations. According to Dan Engeljohn, USDA assistant administrator for the Office of Policy and Program Development: "Because there is a great deal of profit that can be made from mislabeled product that might be misleading, we do need to put a little focus there."18 I wonder whether Engeljohn will give the 100 percent natural label equal attention?Tell Sanderson and KFC to Get With the Program
If you're as upset about Sanderson Farms' ignorance as I am, I suggest you contact Sanderson and tell him to do the right thing for public health and phase out antibiotics. You can use their online Contact Page to write them an email, or better yet, call them at 1-800-844-4030, or write a letter to:
Attn: Joe Sanderson, CEO
PO Box 988
Laurel, MS 39441
KFC is another major food company that has so far failed to take the situation seriously. While many restaurant chains, including McDonald's, Subway and Taco Bell have vowed to limit or discontinue use of chicken raised with antibiotics, KFC has made no move in that direction. You can reach KFC by calling 1-800-CALL-KFC, or fill out their feedback form, available on the KFC website.
By Dr. Mercola
Amidst growing fear-based propaganda warning of the threat of Zika virus comes a quiet admission from health officials in Brazil: Zika alone may not be responsible for the rise in birth defects that plagued parts of the country.
While there is some evidence suggesting Zika virus may be linked to the birth defect microcephaly, and the virus has been spreading throughout Brazil, rates of the condition have only risen to very high rates in the northeast section of Brazil.
Since the virus has spread throughout Brazil, but extremely high rates of microcephaly have not, officials are now being forced to admit that something else is likely at play.
Dr. Fatima Marinho, director of information and health analysis at Brazil's ministry of health, told the journal Nature, "We suspect that something more than Zika virus is causing the high intensity and severity of cases."1Nearly 90 Percent of Brazil Microcephaly Cases Occurred in the Northeast
Since last November, more than 1,700 confirmed cases of congenital microcephaly or other birth defects of the central nervous system have been reported in Brazil.
When the cases first began and were reportedly linked to Zika virus, health officials believed they'd see "an explosion of birth defects" across Brazil, according to Marinho.2 But that hasn't happened.
Data compiled by Marinho and colleagues, which has been submitted for publication, suggest socio-economic factors may be involved. Most of the women who gave birth to babies with microcephaly were poor and lived in small cities or on the outskirts of big cities.
In addition, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides.
Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area.
• Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly3
• The CDC lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as known risk factors4
• The CDC also notes certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis and others, are risk factorsData Is Lacking to Confirm Zika-Microcephaly Link
It's also been suggested that microcephaly may be the result of Zika virus occurring alongside other infections, such as dengue and chikungunya.
The Brazilian doctor who first reportedly established the link between Zika virus and microcephaly is even considering whether another disease, Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), may be involved, as BVDV proteins were also detected in the brains of three fetuses with microcephaly.
BVDV causes birth defects in cattle but is not known to infect people. Researchers suggested that infection with Zika virus may make it easier for BVDV to infect humans.5
Adding to the complexities, much of the microcephaly data from Brazil comes from incomplete hospital reports. In most cases, tests to confirm Zika infection were not carried out.
In June 2016, the Zika in Infants and Pregnancy Study was launched in Puerto Rico. It aims to monitor up to 10,000 pregnant women to examine Zika virus along with nutritional, socio-economic and environmental factors and their potential link to birth defects. However, the results of a similar study have only raised further doubts.12,000 Zika Cases Confirmed in Pregnant Colombian Women — Zero Microcephaly Cases
According to a report by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), there are serious questions about whether Zika virus is the cause of microcephaly. They cite the preliminary results of a New England Journal of Medicine study, which followed nearly 12,000 pregnant Colombian women infected with Zika virus.6
No cases of microcephaly were reported in their babies as of May 2016, yet four cases of microcephaly were reported among women who had Zika infection with no symptoms and were therefore not included in the study.
The researchers then speculated that this means there could be four times as many cases of Zika infection that are unreported, for a total of at least 60,000 Zika-infected pregnancies in Colombia.
Using this data, an analysis revealed the rate of microcephaly to be what would be expected in any area, whether Zika is in the picture or not, which is 2 cases in 10,000 births.7 According to NECSI:8
"This gives a consistent interpretation that there is no direct link between Zika and microcephaly except for random co-occurrence.
We note that the base rate of microcephaly in the absence of Zika is 140 per year in Colombia, which is consistent with the approximately 50 microcephaly cases in the first [four] months of 2016, only [four] of which have been connected to Zika. When interpreting Zika as the cause, background cases must be subtracted."
By June 2016, 11 total microcephaly cases had been reported in women with Zika infections in Colombia. If Zika and microcephaly are linked, NECSI pointed out that the total number of microcephaly cases should rise dramatically in the next few months, reaching more than 10 microcephaly-Zika births each week.9
NECSI also suggested, "An alternative cause of microcephaly in Brazil could be the pesticide pyriproxyfen, which is cross-reactive with retinoic acid, which causes microcephaly, and is being used in drinking water."10WHO Expert: Zika Response 'Completely Hysterical'
Florence Fouque, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert on animals that carry viruses, called the public response to the Zika virus "completely hysterical."11 She blamed the hysteria on the findings that the virus affects pregnant women and can be sexually transmitted.
"It's like AIDS," she told PRI. "People make this link and that's why they are really afraid."12 At one restaurant in downtown Miami, Florida, where a handful of Zika cases were detected in August 2016, insect repellent was placed on all the tables.13
Even Oliver Brady, an epidemiologist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was asked by Brazilian officials to assess the Zika-microcephaly situation, said there's no conclusive evidence that Zika causes birth defects in humans.
He told PRI that while animal studies have shown the virus attacks brain cells, this isn't "final proof:"14
"You see that with a lot of arboviruses [viruses spread by mosquitoes and other insects] … They have pathogenic qualities and if you put them in the right tissue then they will cause some sort of damage. And they tend to be quite transmissible across a variety of barriers anyway.
So it doesn't necessarily mean that that's the mechanism that's happening out there in the field, even if it does work in the lab."National Institutes of Health Launches Trial for Experimental Zika Vaccine
The U.S. is among those ignoring data and rushing to launch a vaccine against Zika virus before it's even known whether it's causing birth defects. What is known, however, is that experimental vaccines have real risks, which are often downplayed in the wake of perceived global "emergencies" such as Zika.
In August 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it launched a clinical trial of an experimental Zika vaccine — again, before there is conclusive proof that Zika causes microcephaly.
Eighty healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35 will be vaccinated with varying doses of the experimental vaccine. No placebos will be given. The vaccine is said to be similar to a West Nile Virus vaccine that was previously developed by the NIH, but has not yet been approved. This alone should be a red flag, as should the disastrous outcome of the CYD-TDV vaccine, the first dengue vaccine approved by WHO in April 2016.Dengue Vaccine Hints at Potential Problems With Zika Vaccines
Dr. Scott B. Halstead, former senior adviser of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative and the founder of Children's Vaccine Initiative, told the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy:15
"It's happened. We have a vaccine that enhances dengue … It's clear as the nose on my face: Vaccine recipients less than 5 years old had five to seven times more rates of hospitalizations for severe dengue virus than placebo controls."
He's referring to the results of a three-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine,16 which suggest the vaccine causes antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). Halstead explained:17 "Over time, you make and keep protective levels of antibody from the initial infection, but you lose the cross-reactive antibodies … That allows a second dengue infection to cause severe illness … "
At this point, it's unknown how this relates to Zika virus, but it's possible that pre-existing immunity to dengue may lead to more severe infection with Zika virus. The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy quoted concerns voiced by Dr. Philip K. Russell, the former director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, as well as founding president and chairman of the Sabin Vaccine Institute:
"Russell said that the fact that Zika is occurring in areas where dengue has been endemic hints at a serious potential problem with ADE and Zika vaccine development. 'The current epidemic of Zika, which is usually mild disease, is made a lot worse in these populations,' Russell said. 'I think there's a major effect, but the studies haven't been done yet to sort that out.'More Toxic Exposures Are Not the Answer
Many areas are ramping up pesticide spraying to combat Zika virus. A Clean Water Act permit is generally required to spray pesticides in areas where they might end up in water. The permit is intended to keep the toxic chemicals from contaminating water, but now the Zika virus has been used as an excuse to do away with this common-sense precaution.
The language was inserted into the Zika Vector Control Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives. It would exempt pesticide applicators from needing a Clean Water Act permit, even when spraying near water. Critics argued the bill would do little to help fight Zika virus, since mosquito-control agencies already have authority to apply pesticides in emergency situations to prevent the spread of infectious disease without applying for permits.
Opponents say the bill has nothing to do with combating Zika and, instead, has been on the table for years, with the majority pushing for its passage "under whatever name" was convenient at the time.18 A White House spokesman also said it hasn't ruled out relaxing restrictions on some pesticides to fight Zika.19
By removing requirements for permits when spraying pesticides near water, it's likely the use of these chemicals will skyrocket, including via aerial spraying, which was recently started in Miami, Florida.Aerial Mosquito Spraying May Increase Autism Risk
Unfortunately, many may suffer as a result. In research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting, aerial pesticide exposure was linked to an increased risk of developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder among children.20 The study compared children living in zip codes where aerial pesticide spraying was used each summer to combat mosquitoes that carry the eastern equine encephalitis virus with children living in non-aerial-spraying zip codes.
Children exposed to the aerial pesticide spraying were about 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism or have a documented developmental delay than those living in areas that used other methods of pesticide application (such as manual spreading of granules).
If authorities use the supposed threat of Zika to increase aerial spraying, it could increase children's risk of brain disorders, which is the opposite of what anti-Zika campaigns are supposed to achieve.Mosquito Experts Admit Zika Threat Risk 'Near Zero'
Even mosquito experts are questioning the extent of emergency that actually exists. Chris Barker, Ph.D., a mosquito-borne virus researcher at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD:21 "I think the risk for Zika actually setting up transmission cycles that become established in the continental U.S. is near zero."
Barker expects Zika to go the way of other tropical diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever and chikungunya, in the U.S. with small clusters of outbreaks in southern states and little activity elsewhere. You needn't go dousing your backyard in chemicals in an attempt to stay safe from Zika virus (whose connection to birth defects is still being explored).
If, however, mosquitoes are bothersome for you, draining standing water, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage and recycling bins, spare tires, bird baths, children's toys and so on, is important.
This is where mosquitoes breed, so if you eliminate standing water you'll eliminate many mosquitoes. A simple house fan could also help keep mosquitoes at bay if you're having a get-together in your backyard or, for a longer-term solution, try installing a bat house (bats are voracious consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes). Regularly consuming garlic may also help protect against mosquito bites, as may the following natural insect repellants:
• Clear liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil
• Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100 percent pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java Citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market
By Dr. Mercola
Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) generate cheap meat and massive profits by cramming thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands or — with chickens — even millions, of animals into cramped, enclosed quarters.
Out of sight of the public, animals raised in CAFOs spend their days indoors, typically never getting to feel the sun on their backs or grass and soil beneath their feet.
By treating the animals as objects, the industrial farmers simply focus on fattening the animals up at the most rapid pace possible, often with the assistance of drugs and unnatural diets of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy.
No attention is paid to the fact that the animals suffer immensely, both physically and psychologically — and it shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that the environmental ramifications of such a destructive system are also widely ignored.The Price of Pork
According to the most recent census of agriculture data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. hog and pig industry had annual sales of $22.5 billion in 2012.
While some pig farms exist in virtually all U.S. states, the industry is heavily concentrated in a handful of states, namely Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota and Illinois.1
Further, while family and individually owned farms made up 83 percent of pig operations, they accounted for just 41 percent of sales. Corporations, which own just 8 percent of pig farms, accounted for 34 percent of sales.
In Illinois, for instance, pig CAFOs have exploded in number in recent years, producing cheap meat that comes at a high environmental and ethical price.
"The state Department of Agriculture, which is charged with promoting livestock production as well as regulating it, often brushed aside opposition from local officials to issue about 900 swine confinement permits in the last 20 years.
Long-standing community residents were left feeling their rights had been trampled and the laws stacked against them.
In a wide-ranging investigation that spanned dozens of Illinois counties and analyzed more than 20,000 pages of government documents, the Tribune also found that the growth of these confinements has created a persistent new environmental hazard."Environmental Hazards, Whistleblower Complaints Ignored
The Chicago Tribune revealed that nearly half a million fish from 67 miles of rivers were killed by pig waste that had entered local waterways over a 10-year period.
The consequences for this massive environmental destruction were insignificant; only small penalties were enforced against multimillion-dollar corporations, many of them repeat offenders.
Further, the investigation revealed that Illinois officials were not taking whistleblower allegations of animal cruelty seriously. According to the Chicago Tribune:4
"Inspectors dismissed one complaint, state files show, after simply telephoning executives to ask if it was true that their workers were beating pigs with metal bars.
Other states and local agencies have moved aggressively to address the problems caused by large hog confinements. Illinois has not, the Tribune found, even as consumers demand more humane treatment of livestock and stronger environmental protections."Local Residents Often Have No Say When CAFOs Are Built in Rural Towns
Local residents also suffer when industrial pig CAFOs come to town. In one case, an $800,000 pig CAFO was allowed to be built in partnership with pork producer Cargill Pork without notifying nearby residents.
A loophole in Illinois law allowed the facility to be built without being considered "new" because the owner had once raised pigs on the farm. Nearby residents not only see their property values tank but also face health risks from the noxious gasses and waste coming from the industrial farms.
They have little say in the matter when CAFO executives make plans to move into town.
In Illinois, for instance, residents can request a hearing by getting 75 signatures on a petition, but the hearings are little more than a place for CAFO execs to tout their plans — they're informational only and many residents believe the meetings are meaningless and felt their comments were ignored or ridiculed, according to the Chicago Tribune.5Life Near CAFOs: 'American Dream Turned Into a Nightmare'
Even at the state level, the Agriculture Department does not have the authority to deny applications for CAFO permits, and often approve them even after local commissioners vote against such proposals.
Further, hearings may only be held on facilities that plan to raise 2,500 pigs or more, so Illinois CAFOs may be built to hold 2,400 to 2,499 pigs — just under the threshold that could trigger a hearing.
As a result, CAFOs continue to be built at an alarming rate, at the expense of the animals, local residents and the environment. Alex Formuzis, senior vice president, communications and strategic campaigns for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), wrote of the reality of living near a CAFO:6
"The smell from the manure and ammonia plume dangling above your property is so strong it often triggers vomiting, nausea and lung and eye irritation. The tap water could very well contain traces of the offending and dangerous swine waste, too, forcing you to buy and drink bottled water.
The waste saturates your property and builds up along the exterior of the house, attracting droves of flies, mosquitos, rats and snakes. Depression sets in as you and your family face the fact you've become prisoners in your own home.
A home you own, pay taxes on and had hoped would be a safe and comfortable place to live, raise a family and grow old in. This is a slice of the American dream turned into a nightmare, courtesy of the industrial swine operation that borders your property."Stronger Oversight Urged for Illinois Pig CAFOs
In response to the Chicago Tribune investigation, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (a primary pusher of ethanol, another environmental catastrophe), called for increased oversight to protect animals from abuse and prevent mistreatment, noting:7
"The mistreatment of these animals by the operators identified in the Tribune series hurts smaller farms, their employees and the surrounding communities …
There's no excuse for the cruelty being reported by the Tribune. Any reports of animal cruelty should be thoroughly investigated and those operators held accountable."
The investigation used data from court records, workers' compensation claims, state animal abuse reports and worker interviews to reveal the abuse. In contrast, the Illinois Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare had no animal welfare infractions or violations on record in the past five years.
Durbin also called for the CAFOs' "reckless polluting" to end. The Chicago Tribune investigation revealed one 2012 instance where a waste spill from an 8,000-pig CAFO called Hopkins Ridge Farms in Iroquois County, Illinois, killed nearly 150,000 fish and more than 17,500 freshwater mussels.
In 2016, the 20 miles of polluted creek is only beginning to recover, but no penalties or cleanup costs have been recovered from the CAFOs' owners, who also operate other facilities in Illinois and Indiana and reportedly deny the spill was their fault. According to the investigation:8
"Analyzing thousands of pages from state agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and the attorney general's office, the Tribune found that pollution incidents from hog confinements killed at least 492,000 fish from 2005 through 2014 — nearly half of the 1 million fish killed in water pollution incidents statewide during that period.
Pig waste impaired 67 miles of the state's rivers, creeks and waterways over that time. Using either measure, no other industry came close to causing the same amount of damage."
Outrageously, the Illinois Department of Agriculture cannot even consider a CAFO owner's environmental record when considering an application to build a new facility, and many new permits have been issued to repeat polluters. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which are tasked with protecting waterways, have little say in where new CAFOs can be built.Where Will Your Next Meal Come From?
You vote three times a day when you choose the foods for your meals. Will you vote for the system that is systematically destroying your health, animal welfare and the planet — or will you support those who are changing the world for the better, one meal at a time?
There are basically two different models of food production today, and there's growing conflict between them. The first, and most prevalent, is the CAFO model that takes a very mechanistic view toward life, whereas the other — the local, sustainable farm model — has a biological and holistic view.
I encourage you to support the small family farms in your area, particularly local organic farms that respect the laws of nature and use the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat to create synergistic, self-supporting, non-polluting and GMO-free ecosystems. Whereas industrial agriculturists want to hide their practices from you, traditional farmers will welcome you onto their land, as they have nothing to hide.
Whether you do so for ethical, environmental or health reasons — or all of the above — the closer you can get to the "backyard barnyard" the better. You'll want to get your meat, chickens and eggs from smaller community farms with free-ranging, pastured animals, organically fed and locally marketed. This is the way food has been raised and distributed for centuries, before it was corrupted by politics, corporate greed and the blaring arrogance of the industrial food industry.
You can do this not only by visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also by taking part in farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs. The following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner.Click Here
By Dr. Mercola
Everyone needs a bit of TLC now and then. Sometimes certain body parts could use a little extra, such as your posterior region.
That's where a sitz bath may come in handy. Another term for sitz bath is hip bath, which helps describe the part of the anatomy having difficulty (referred to in many anatomy textbooks as the perianal area).
Rather than a full-fledged bath in a standard bathtub, a warm, relaxing sitz bath takes care of cleansing and soothing delicate areas with minimal pressure. Part of the beauty of this bottom-bathing option is that you don't even have to take all your clothes off!
It goes without saying that this is a delicate topic, because it's a delicate area, and people sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about it. But if you've never had toosh troubles, it's good to know how to deal with them beforehand.
Sitz baths have been used for many problems related to the nether regions, probably for millennia. And for a few hundred years, Epsom salt has been added to contribute to the healing nature of your sitz bath because of the valuable minerals it imparts.Epsom Salt: A Brief History
Not a salt for food, Epsom salt is named after a mineral compound discovered in the early 17th century in a salt spring in the small town of Epsom, just south of London.
Recognizing Epsom's water had restorative powers, visitors began coming to drink it for its laxative capabilities. Bathing in it achieved even more therapeutic benefits, from relieved muscle cramps to diminished headache pain to reduced inflammation.
For a while, Epsom was a spa town. The salt was acquired by boiling down the spring water, which a chemist named Nehemiah Grew discovered was rich in magnesium sulfate (hence the scientific name hydrated magnesium sulfate), first called "bitter purging salts" and, later, Epsom salt. (The sulfur has benefits as well.)
Enterprising enough to obtain a royal patent for exclusive rights to the mineral and its curative properties, Grew's Epsom salt soon became a widely available and inexpensive over-the-counter commodity, which removed the necessity of having to travel to the well. Today, a water pump is the only vestige of the area's earlier fame.Epsom Salt Sitz Bath Efficacy
Few realized the importance of magnesium in the 1700s. According to Care 2,1 it's the second-most abundant element in your cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in your body, and optimal magnesium levels are critical.
Research indicates Americans may have five times more calcium than magnesium in their bodies, while the ratio should be 2 to 1. Further, the site notes magnesium:
"Helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, American's magnesium deficiency helps to account for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related illnesses, chronic fatigue and a number of other ailments.
Our magnesium levels have dropped by half in the last century due to changes in agriculture and diet. Industrial farming has depleted magnesium from soil and the typical American diet contains much less magnesium than that of our forefathers.
And in fact, the modern American diet with its fat, sugar, salt and protein actually works to speed up the depletion of magnesium from our bodies."
While magnesium and sulfur aren't easily absorbed through your digestive tract, they are absorbed via your skin. That's why soaking in hydrated magnesium sulfate — Epsom salt — is so beneficial for maintaining optimal levels of these important minerals.Epsom Salt's 'Intrinsic Pharmacological Mechanisms'
Magnesium sulfate has been recognized for its ability to relieve constipation as well as to improve:
✓ Formation of brain tissue and digestive tract proteins
✓ Nerve function via electrolyte regulation
✓ Joint protein formation
✓ Inflammation, pain and muscle cramps
✓ Pancreas stimulation for digestive enzymes
✓ Nutrient absorption
The Epsom Salt Council is one of the most prolific sources of information about the incredible advantages provided by taking Epsom salt baths.
Many of the above benefits are discussed on the site's Health Uses and Benefits2 page, such as helping your immune system fight off germs to the sulfur in Epsom salt killing fungus and bacteria.
Additional Epsom salt benefits listed by Web MD3 include easing foot pain, including ingrown toenails, sunburn pain, psoriasis, fibromyalgia and arthritis pain (due to inflammation) and even insomnia.
A large review of randomized controlled trials, retrospective reviews and observational studies regarding magnesium sulfate therapy in preeclampsia or eclampsia resulted in the conclusion: "The evidence to date confirms the efficacy of magnesium sulfate therapy for women with eclampsia and severe preeclampsia.4 Enzyme Stuff5 reported:
"Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Salts are just molecules that form because the parts have opposite electrical charges that bind together. Magnesium has a positive charge.
Sulfate has a negative charge, and performs all sorts of unique biological functions. The two elements … break apart and separate in liquid."
The article reiterated that magnesium and sulfate are absorbed into your body through your skin, even when it dries.
"Many people on a typical 'modern' processed diet are very deficient in magnesium as well, which Epsom salts also supplies in a highly available form. Main effects of insufficient magnesium are hyperness, irritability, anxiety and muscle twitching or spasms."Epsom Salt Qualification
The U.K.-based Magnesium Online Library6 asserts that "Bathing in Epsom salts is a safe and easy way to increase sulfate and magnesium levels in the body."
However, medically based studies from the U.S. supporting this claim are few and far between, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals can be sketchy. Below an article titled "Solid Epsom Salt Research?"7 someone commented:
"I believe that the Epsom Salt theory is more practiced in naturopathic healing. Because that is not 'FDA Approved,' you will not find a lot of medical back-up. If drug companies don't make money, there will not be a lot of studies."
Articles such as one submitted by ABC News, "The Truth About Epsom Salt,"8 do a pretty good job of "debunking" any hint of benefit from Epsom salt baths, in spite of a mountain of anecdotal evidence over several decades, if not centuries, and assertions by people who do not stand to profit from their statements.Who Needs a Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath may be the solution for several delicate cases, such as pain and itching after surgery, post-pregnancy tenderness, hemorrhoids,9 painful bowel movements, vaginal infections and anal fissures, which are fine tears in the delicate skin tissue around the area Medical News Today calls "the exit ring."
Hemorrhoids (aka "piles") describe veins inside the anus that become inflamed and swollen, causing pain and discomfort, a common difficulty:
"Such a problem could be bigger hemorrhoids or ones that push outside the anus. Sitz baths may be useful for a number of other reasons, including after surgery anywhere in the seat area. A sitz bath could help with the healing process and comfort after an anorectal or vaginal operation, for example."10
Beyond that, without proper hygiene, irritation in the undercarriage region is probably a given. When inevitable itching or irritation takes place, scratching usually follows. As Medical News Today advises:
"Getting itchy from a lack of hygiene can lead to scratching. Scratching makes any itching even worse and can damage the skin. Gentle bathing is better than scratching for normal hygiene. It is also better for easing and reducing things that have already started to itch."11
A sitz bath is a soothing way to cleanse the area without rubbing or scrubbing, which can exacerbate the problem. It also improves blood flow to that part of your anatomy, which aids healing. Sitz baths can be taken as many as three times a day, for 10 to 15 minutes each time, depending on your needs.Sitz Baths for Vaginal Discomfort and Infections
Women have complex parts that are subject to unique problems, so gentle, thorough and consistent cleansing practices are essential. However, yeast infections, bladder infections and other problems require special care and consideration, as Medical News Today notes:
"Bathing could help with the discharge problems that can occur with the Bartholin's glands. These glands produce fluid to lubricate sex. They are usually pea-sized glands that are not noticeable and cannot be felt.
There is a noncancerous growth that can happen to Bartholin's glands and cause problems for women. They can become enlarged and painful, and can get infected. Along with the medical diagnosis and care needed for any cysts and infections, sitz bathing can be helpful."12
While some studies claim there's no evidence against adding foaming bubble solutions, shower gel or shampoo to the water when taking a sitz bath, others advise that doing so may cause or further irritate urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in children. It also may irritate existing problems and could disturb the pH balance of your vagina, causing irritation or even worsening an infection.
That said, one study noted, "We believe that the enjoyment of bubble baths outweighs the limited evidence of their proposed harm."13 Although not necessary, if you choose to add soap make sure it's natural and free of harsh chemicals.Sitz Bath Instructions and Options
One simple way to get your shower and your sitz bath, too, is to place a shallow container in your shower to sit in and enjoy both at the same time. Or, you can fill the pan, soak in it, then finish with a shower.
The first thing you need is a clean tub (either the entire tub or your sitz bath pan), sans harmful chemicals. One very effective cleaning method is to thoroughly spritz your tub with white vinegar, wait a few minutes, then sprinkle on some baking soda, which has just enough fine grit to remove soap residue. Scrub away, then rinse thoroughly.
Take a sitz bath in the tub by running 4 or 5 inches of warm water into it, making sure it's not bottom-scaldingly hot, but is hot enough to dissolve about 2 cups of Epsom salt. Step in and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Add an essential oil such as bergamot oil, if you'd like. Relax! Rinse both yourself and the tub afterward.
You can find sitz bath kits in most pharmacies for as little as $10 to $20, with designs that depend on your needs. They consist of a round, shallow basin that fits over the porcelain rim of a standard toilet and often include a sturdy plastic bag with a tube attached to one end so you can put the basin in place and fill it from the tub.
A similar method is a bidet, which is like a mini shower for the back passage and used solely for cleansing, either by itself or as a backup plan for toilet paper. Common in Europe, a bidet is sometimes a separate unit next to the toilet, or part of it, and is often found in hotels.
It's important to understand that a bidet is not a toilet. It's used after using the toilet for cleaning the genitals and bottom, not for disposing waste.
By Dr. Mercola
A vegetable many people associate with the Southern U.S., okra is more correctly identified as a warm-weather crop, so it's found in areas of Africa, where it may have originated, as well as South America and the Middle East.
Okra is the color of a fresh corn husk, has the shape of a spike (which is why it's also known as lady's fingers and, in some cultures, bamia pods) and the texture of a grooved cucumber. Sliced, it might remind you of a tiny star fruit.
Okra pods measuring 2 to 3 inches long grow on a large, leafy and perennial plant with beautiful, hibiscus-type flowers. From the Malvaceae (mallows) family — surprisingly along with cocoa, hibiscus and cotton — it bears the botanical name Abelmoschus esculentus and may have a history as old as the pyramids.
These amazing little edibles are best harvested early so they don't become tough, which can happen quickly, since from the time they flower until optimal harvest time can be a matter of just four days, according to the Farmer's Almanac.1 Ideally, they should be harvested every few days.
Removing some of the lower leaves of the plant after the first harvest is said to speed production. In spite of its ability to thrive in hot weather, it does appreciate around 1 inch of water per week.
Wearing gloves during harvest will prevent the fruit's tiny spines from irritating your skin (depending on the variety), similar to some cucumbers.
Uncut, uncooked okra can be placed in freezer bags and frozen for later preparation, or you can can it,2 the result of which is said to taste like it just came from the garden. In some areas of the world, okra seeds are also known as one of the best-tasting coffee substitutes.3Culinary Uses for Okra
While some people equate the taste of okra to the flavor of eggplant, the texture is different, which will give it a different ambiance altogether. When cooked down, it develops a gelatinous quality that lends itself well to soups. (In fact, okra mucilage has been used as a sizing for glazed paper products in China.)4
One of this veggie's best calling cards is that the entire fruit can be used, including the seeds (after trimming off the ends), and because it can be used raw, curried (especially the seeds), pickled and more, the culinary options are plentiful.
In the Caribbean, people often serve okra with fish in a soup. Its leaves can be cooked in a manner not unlike beet greens or dandelion greens or eaten raw in salads. (One way to do this is to add other types of greens, such as Romaine, arugula or spinach, for a variation in flavors and crunch.)
Okra can be sliced or chopped, stir fried with other veggies such as zucchini, onions and red or green bell peppers and made into burritos or tacos with cheese, or served on top of cooked quinoa.
In the Middle East, bamiya is a hearty stew made using okra along with beef or lamb. An Indian-inspired dish might combine okra and onions sautéed in butter seasoned with coriander, ginger, cumin, salt and pepper.5Traditional Medicine Using Okra
Because it's an ancient crop used for food from way back, okra was also known as a bona fide medicinal. The leaves were used for pain relief and urinary problems. In the Congo, it was a remedy to help ensure a safe delivery for pregnant mothers. In Malaya, the root has been applied as a treatment for syphilis.
The mucilage has even been used as a plasma replacement and topically as a moisturizer. Cooked down and added to water, it's referred to as "supreme" for people suffering weakness or depression.
It's still used to treat lung inflammation and sore throat and to add bulk to stools as a laxative, as well as to rid the body of liver toxins, according to Holistic Online.6 The same site noted okra's effectiveness for acid reflux, atherosclerosis, cataracts, colorectal cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS).Nutritional Aspects of Okra
References to the gelatinous mucilage in okra, especially when cooked, are parallel to applications noted by nutritionists who recommend it for people suffering from constipation, as it does help move food through your gut.
Okra is an excellent fiber source to maintain a healthy digestive system and also contains good amounts of calcium, iron and magnesium. It also provides 43 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of manganese and 36 percent of the RDA of infection-fighting vitamin C.
One cup of raw okra (100 grams) contains 33 calories and includes a whopping 44 percent of the bone-strengthening vitamin K you need for one day, which is important as a co-factor for blood-clotting enzymes.
Nutrition and You7 also notes that the folate in okra imparts 22 percent of the RDA in a 1-cup serving, which is important for pregnant mothers to decrease the risk of neural tube defects in their babies. Medical News Today reveals:
"People who do not eat enough folate are at a higher risk for breast, cervical, pancreatic, lung and other cancers. Researchers are unsure of why folate intake and cancer risk are connected.
There is no evidence that taking a folate supplement lowers the risk for cancer. As a result, getting folate from food like okra is important. Getting enough folate is especially important for women who are pregnant and people who are dependent on alcohol."8
Vitamin A content in okra, important for good vision and more, includes flavonoid antioxidants, such as beta-carotenes, xanthan and lutein. Other nutrients include thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, niacin, phosphorus and copper.
To go along with its traditional uses, the compounds in okra help maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes.Okra's Impact on Blood Sugar
For diabetic individuals, animal studies suggest okra pods may help alleviate diabetic affects, due to its myricetin content. Myricetin is a flavonoid also found in blueberries, garbanzo beans, turnips and chia seeds, among other foods.
The myricetin in okra was isolated and dispensed to rats, which responded with increased sugar absorption in their muscles, consequently lowering their blood sugar.
Still, the study indicates that myricetin may prove to be an important breakthrough in the fight against diabetes. In fact, ISRN Pharmaceutics published a study in 2012,11 explained in Medical News Today:
"Researchers fed rats liquid sugar as well as purified okra through a feeding tube. Rats who consumed the okra experienced a reduction in blood sugar spikes after feeding. The study's authors think this is because the okra blocked the absorption of sugar in the intestines."12
As noted, the study indicated the okra may have blocked sugar absorption in the intestines, but also introduced the idea that it may also obstruct the effectiveness of the diabetes drug metformin, so simultaneous ingestion is not recommended.
The Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences13 submitted another study pointing to a possible link between okra and decreased blood sugar levels.
Scientists maintained the blood sugar level of rats for a period of 14 days, then fed them powdered okra peel extracts and seeds amounting to 2,000 milligrams per day per kilogram of body weight.
At the conclusion of the study, no poisonous effects were observed. While the rats that ate the okra had lowered blood sugar levels after 28 days, the end of the study precluded discovering how long the decreased levels may have been maintained.More Health Benefits From Eating Okra
Like most other vegetables, okra provides a unique set of nutrients and, therefore, a unique set of plant-based nutrients with all the related vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting compounds.
A protein in okra, called lectin, is also found in peanuts and beans. In one study,14 researchers extracted lectin from okra to test on breast cancer cells and found the cancer growth to not only decrease by 63 percent, but to kill 72 percent of the cancer cells. In another review published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal:15
"The preliminary phytochemical studies showed that flavonoids, tannins, sterols and triterpenes were present in okra. Phytoconstituents, such as flavonoids are commonly present in vegetables and fruits, which provide the health-benefits, associated with diets rich in plant-food.
Flavonoids are a class of secondary plant phenolics, found ubiquitously in fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants, which are known to play a pivotal role as dietary antioxidants for the prevention of oxidative damage in the living system.
Furthermore, a large number of biological actions of flavonoids have been attributed to their potent antioxidant properties; as they act in different ways, including direct quenching ROS, chelation of metal ions and regeneration of membrane-bound antioxidants."
A 2013 study demonstrated that the antidepressant activity in okra was linked to mood improvement, which could make it helpful for people suffering from depression.16 Interestingly, Kantha Shelke, a food scientist at Corvus Blue LLC and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, said okra was the "preferred vegetable" among athletes at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, possibly for more reasons than its taste.
"Because of its physiological effects, it has gained some interesting names including 'green panax' in Japan and 'plant viagra' in the USA. The polysaccharides in okra are thought to open up the arteries in a similar way to Viagra."17Possible Safety Risks Associated With Okra Consumption
Besides the possibility that eating okra while taking the diabetic drug metformin may lower the drug's effect, experts note that this vegetable also elicits an allergy reaction in some people.
Additionally, okra contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances in many plant-based foods. Over-consumption may produce a kidney stone risk in certain individuals with that predilection. Okra contains high amounts of fructan, which is a carbohydrate that can induce diarrhea, cramps and bloating in some people, so people with irritable bowel syndrome are advised against ingesting foods containing this substance.
By Dr. Mercola
Mounting research drives home the importance of animal-based omega-3 fats for heart health. After reviewing this topic carefully, I am now convinced that maintaining a healthy level of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be one of the most important food priorities.
DHA is a 22 carbon omega-3 fat from seafood. Omega-3 fats can be obtained from both marine animal and plant sources, but contrary to popular belief, they are NOT interchangeable.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an 18-carbon omega-3 fat found in plants like flax and chia seeds does convert to DHA, but typically less than 1 to 3 percent, which is nowhere near the amount you need for brain and heart health.
While plant and animal omega-3 fats are important for health, the animal-based DHA is the one most strongly associated with heart health and other important health benefits.
Additionally, DHA through its electron cloud, has the ability to turn light directly into DC electric current, which is particularly important for establishing your biological clock and circadian rhythm.DHA and EPA Protect Your Heart Health
Recent research suggests eating fatty fish and other omega-3 rich foods, including certain plant-based sources, may lower your risk of a fatal heart attack (myocardial infarction) by about 10 percent.1,2,3 Taken AFTER a heart attack, omega-3 fats can also significantly improve your odds of survival.
One large trial found that heart attack survivors who took 1 gram of omega-3 fat each day for three years had a 50 percent reduced chance of sudden cardiac death.4 Another recent placebo controlled study5 found that high doses of omega-3 supplementation helps your heart heal after a heart attack.6,7,8,9,10
A total of 360 heart attack patients were divided into two groups. The treatment group took 4 grams of the prescription omega-3 fish oil called Lovaza. The placebo group received corn oil. After six months, the treatment group showed a 5.6 percent reduction in scarring of undamaged heart muscle.
Their hearts were also better able to pump blood compared to the controls. That said, it may be worth noting that corn oil is a terrible placebo. Placebos are supposed to be completely inert, like water. Corn oil is actually a harmful industrially processed GMO-contaminated omega-6 fat that clearly adversely affects your heart.
I don't say this to diminish the results, but it's been shown that prescription omega-3, due to it being a semi-synthetic form of marine omega-3 that is bound to ethyl esters,11 tends to have a poor absorption rate compared to natural triglyceride forms (such as fish oil or krill oil).12
Using a corn oil placebo could therefore make the drug appear more potent than it really is. According to Reuters:13
"Some people are better able to absorb and utilize fish oil, and those with the biggest increase in red blood cell levels of omega-3 levels had a 13 percent reduction in leftover blood in the left ventricle, compared to a 6 percent reduction for the fish oil group overall."Animal-Based Omega-3 Benefits Heart Health in Many Ways
Animal-based omega-3 fats, especially DHA, benefit your cardiovascular health in a number of different ways, by:
✓ Lowering blood pressure
✓ Lowering triglyceride concentrations
✓ Improving endothelial function (which helps promote growth of new blood vessels)
✓ Counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia
✓ Helping prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)
✓ Preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries
✓ Counteracting inflammationOther Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats
Your heart is by no means the only organ that needs omega-3s for optimal functioning. These healthy fats are also important for digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory and learning, and basic cell division and function of cell receptors. For example, research suggests omega-3s are important for:
✓ Brain and eye development in babies, and preventing premature delivery
✓ Delaying progression to psychosis among patients at high risk for schizophrenia
✓ Improvement in premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea19
✓ Reducing your risk of Crohn's disease
✓ Reducing your risk of colon cancer.22
Colon cancer patients who consumed a minimum of 0.3 grams of omega-3 from fish each day also reduced their risk of dying over the next decade by 41 percent23
✓ Reducing your risk of kidney disease24
✓ Reducing your risk of autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and nephropathyThere Are Crucial Differences Between Animal- and Plant-Based Omega-3s
✓ Marine animal-based omega-3
• Sources: Fatty fish (such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and herring), fish and krill oils.
• Primary omega-3 content: DHA and EPA, long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) consisting of 22 and 20 carbons respectively, which your body can readily use.
• Biological effects: DHA and EPA are structural elements with many biological effects, most notably anti-inflammatory activity and communication within the cell and between cells. DHA is especially important, as it is a component of every cell in your body.
More than 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA, making it very important for brain health. All other omega-3 fats are found only in trace amounts, including ALA, regardless of how much ALA you consume.30
EPA and DHA also likely play a role in helping your body properly utilize sunlight. They also have a profoundly important influence on mitochondrial health.
✓ Plant-based omega-3
• Sources: Certain plants, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, nuts (especially walnuts) and leafy greens.
• Primary omega-3 content: ALA: a shorter-chained PUFA consisting of 18 carbons. Plant-derived omega-3s are devoid of EPA/DHA.
ALA is a precursor to EPA and DHA. However, an enzyme is required to convert the shorter 18 carbon ALA into long-chained omega-3. In most people, this enzyme doesn't work very well and hence the conversion rate is exceptionally small.
Typically, less than 1 percent of the ALA is converted to DHA.31 Your conversion is also dependent on having adequate levels of other vitamins and minerals.
So, while a tiny amount of the ALA you consume can be converted by your body into long-chain omega-3, it's a highly inefficient strategy and nowhere near as helpful as supplying DHA and EPA from marine sources.
• Biological effects: Source of energy (fat).
As you can see, ALA is primarily a source of energy, while EPA and DHA are structural elements. So EPA and DHA are not just "food;" they're elements that actually make up your cells, and those are two completely different functions. EPA and DHA are extensively distributed throughout your body, including your heart and brain, which is why deficiency is so detrimental to your brain and heart function.
Moreover, research shows there are specific transporters in your blood-brain barrier, the placenta (in pregnant women) and likely also in your liver, which transport the EPA and DHA molecules in a very precise way into the cell membranes where they belong.Why I Recommend Krill Oil Over Fish Oil Total Video Length: 5:40
Fatty fish and fish oil have long been the go-to sources for animal-based omega-3 fat. Krill oil is a more recent source, and research suggests it has a number of benefits over fish and fish oil. One of the most important differences is that fish oil is bound to triglycerides and methyl esters while krill oil is bound to triglycerides and phospholipids.
Esters aren't efficiently absorbed whereas phospholipids are. The fact that krill oil is bound to phospholipids makes its EPA and DHA more bioavailable than fish oil. Phospholipids are in fact extremely important for life, as this membrane is required for everything that makes up a cell.
Phospholipids are also one of the principal compounds in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which you want more of, and by allowing your cells to maintain structural integrity, phospholipids help your cells function properly. (You can learn more about this in the video above.) Krill oil is also able to efficiently cross your blood-brain barrier to reach important brain structures.
In fish oil, the omega-3s are attached to triglycerides and esters that must be broken down in your gut to its base fatty acids of DHA and EPA. About 80 to 85 percent is simply eliminated in your intestine. Another reason for the superior bioavailability of krill oil has to do with the fact that it contains phosphatidyl choline (a precursor for the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine).
When you consume fish oil, your liver has to attach it to phosphatidyl choline in order for it to be utilized by your body. Your liver can skip this step when you take krill oil, as the phosphatidyl choline is already in there.Other Features That Make Krill Oil a Superior Choice
Please remember my primary recommendation for increasing your DHA levels is healthy seafood. However, if you are unable to do that for whatever reason and choose to use a supplement, then there are other considerations. Phospholipids are just the beginning. Studies have revealed krill oil differs from fish oil in a number of important ways. For example:
• Krill oil is more potent than fish oil. This means you need far less of it than fish oil, as confirmed by a 2011 study.32 Researchers gave subjects less than 63 percent as much krill-based EPA/DHA as the fish oil group, yet both groups showed equivalent blood levels.
• Krill oil has superior influence on your metabolism and genetic expression. Genes have "switches" that can be flipped on and off, which control virtually every biochemical process in your body, and nutrients like omega-3 fats control those switches.
Fatty acids also help to direct metabolic processes such as glucose production, lipid synthesis, cellular energy, oxidation and dozens of others. By stimulating certain mitochondrial metabolic pathways, including fatty acid oxidation, respiratory chain complexes and the Krebs cycle, krill oil helps restore healthy mitochondrial energy metabolism.
Various types and sources of omega-3 fat affect liver tissue differently, which is what a 2011 study33 was designed to examine. It compared the livers of mice fed krill oil to those fed fish oil by looking at the gene expression triggered by each. Although both fish oil and krill oil contain omega-3s, they differ greatly in how they affect the genes controlling your metabolism. Krill oil: 34,35
◦ Enhances glucose metabolism in your liver, whereas fish oil does not
◦ Promotes lipid metabolism; fish oil does not
◦ Helps regulate the mitochondrial respiratory chain; fish oil does not
◦ Decreases cholesterol synthesis, whereas fish oil increases it
Krill oil also resists oxidation, whereas fish oil is quite prone to oxidation, which in turn leads to the formation of free radicals — not what you're looking for when taking an omega-3 supplement! Fish oil is also low in antioxidants whereas krill oil contains astaxanthin, which is currently thought to be among the most potent antioxidants in nature. This is in large part what makes krill oil so stable and resistant to oxidation.
Last but not least, while fish are prone to all sorts of contamination, courtesy of water pollution, Antarctic krill are not prone to such contamination. Not only are they harvested from cleaner waters, but since krill are at the bottom of the food chain, they feed on phytoplankton, as opposed to other contaminated fish.
Krill are also far more sustainable than fish because they're the largest biomass in the world. Harvesting of krill is also carefully regulated, and only 1 to 2 percent of the total krill biomass is harvested each year.Click Here
Embed this infographic on your website:<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/krill-oil-vs-fish-oil.jpg" alt="krill oil vs fish oil infographics" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;" /><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Learn why krill oil is a safer and smarter choice than fish oil through the <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fish-oil-vs-krill-oil.htm"><strong>Fish Oil versus Krill Oil: The Cold, Hard Facts</strong></a> infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p> <pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code><img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/krill-oil-vs-fish-oil.jpg" alt="krill oil vs fish oil infographics" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Learn why krill oil is a safer and smarter choice than fish oil through the <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fish-oil-vs-krill-oil.htm"><strong>Fish Oil versus Krill Oil: The Cold, Hard Facts</strong></a> infographic. Visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p></code></pre>
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the codDosing Suggestions and the Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Omega-3 to Omega-6 Balance
As you increase your intake of animal-based omega-3 fats, the EPA and DHA content in your red blood cells increase. As your omega-3 ratio increases in the cell, it "pushes out" omega-6 at a ratio of about 1 to 1. While you need some omega-6 fats, most people get FAR too much of it in their diet these days.
Consumption of soybean oil, which is almost exclusively omega-6, rose 1,000-fold between 1909 and 1999. Modern processing and refinement add to the problem as it damages the omega-6 fats. In my view, it's reasonable to assume this massive increase in damaged omega-6 oils has significantly contributed to our current epidemics of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
In terms of how much omega-3 fat you need, there's been a lack of reliable ways of measuring them. The best way to measure your omega-3 level is using an Omega-3 Index test, which measures the omega-3 in your red blood cells. Your index should ideally be above 8 percent. So to customize your dosage, get your level measured and then adjust your dosage until you reach this optimal level.
I believe the Omega-3 Index test can be an enormously important health screen, and it's commercially available. As with vitamin D, getting your level tested is really the best way to customize your dosage to ensure sufficiency, because requirements for omega-3 will vary depending on your lifestyle: your intake of fatty fish, for example, and your level of physical activity.
Athletes tend to burn off their omega-3 quite rapidly, as the DHA gets burned as fuel rather than being used as a structural component of their cell membranes. Hence they will need higher dosages.
That said, a general recommendation is to take about 2 grams of krill oil per day. With fatty fish, two to three servings a week may be sufficient. Keep in mind that not all fish contain EPA and DHA though! Only fatty fish caught in cold waters will have these fats. Good examples include wild-caught Alaskan Salmon, sardines and anchovies.Setting the Record Straight on Plant- and Marine-Based Omega-3s
To recap, it's really important to realize that you cannot trade animal-based omega-3 for plant-based omega-3. Even if you take large amounts of plant-based omega-3 it simply will not provide you with the raw materials you need for health. This strategy doesn't work because your body cannot convert enough ALA into DHA and EPA.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who believe that. Even many health professionals have fallen for this misconception. If you're in this camp, I strongly urge you to reconsider. If you're an unwavering vegetarian and refuse to eat either fish or krill, you could potentially obtain some EPA and DHA from eating algae, although there are open questions about algae as a clean, healthy source.
Some vegans choose to use a marine-based DHA supplement extracted from algae. While this will certainly increase DHA levels, I believe it is far from ideal as it is highly concentrated, processed and unnatural. When we consume DHA from seafood it is accompanied by a wide variety of other long chain animal fats like EPA, but many others. Our body requires the balance of these fats in the proper ratios, and processed DHA from algae simply doesn't provide that.
Peanut butter is one of the most popular spreadable foods and can be slathered on just about anything you like for added flavor. Some even eat it straight from the spoon. It's versatile for sure, but it's not something I would recommend eating at all. Commercially processed peanut butter contains trans fats, which are linked to a number of health effects, such as memory impairment and heart disease.
I recommend that you make your own nut butter instead, made from raw, organic nuts and seeds that are brimming with healthy fats and nutrients. This recipe, which comes from POPSUGAR, shows you how to do just that.
2 total cups of two to four kinds of raw nuts such as:
• ¾ cup cashews
• ¾ cup almonds
• ½ cup sunflower seeds
1. Place the nuts in a food processor and grind until smooth for five minutes. You may blend it for a shorter or longer time as well, depending on your desired consistency.
2. Store unused nut butter in an airtight container and put it in the fridge.
Try Out These Nuts to Discover Your Own Unique Flavor
Each nut has its own distinctive flavor, so take your time to find your favorite. You can combine two, three or four different kinds in different measurements to adjust the taste accordingly. Try any of the following nuts for this recipe:
• Cashews: Originating from Brazil, cashews contain 20 percent of the daily recommended value for magnesium, a nutrient that may aid in reducing the frequency of migraines as well as improving blood pressure.
Cashews have generous amounts of copper that may aid in protection from heart disease and cancer. The amazing thing is that magnesium and copper in combination provide unique benefits, such as improved bone strength.
• Almonds: Probably one of the most popular nuts used around, almonds contain most of their benefits on their skin, which are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Almonds may help improve heart health, which was confirmed in a study published in the journal Circulation. In the study, participants with high cholesterol levels were able to lower their risk for cardiovascular disease through regular consumption of whole, raw almonds.
However, note that each almond contains almost 1 gram of protein, so your consumption should be strictly moderated. Excess protein will convert most of those calories to sugar, which may fuel the growth of cancer cells.
Another reminder about almonds — be careful where you purchase them from. Most almonds in the U.S. are sold as "raw" even though they've been pasteurized through dry roasting, steam processing or Propylene Oxide (PPO) treatment. The third method happens to be very harmful to your health, because PPO is a highly toxic compound once used as racing fuel. To find authentic raw almonds, look for providers that sell in them small quantities with a waiver on the pasteurization requirement.
• Walnuts: Among the nuts in this list, walnuts probably have the most well-rounded health benefits. For one, they're packed with compounds that may reduce prostate and breast cancer. They contain l-arginine as well, an amino acid that offers improved cardiovascular health.
Plant-based omega-3 is abundant in walnuts, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound and may also prevent pathological formation of blood clots. To top it off, they contain rare, powerful antioxidants, namely the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin. These antioxidants work well against free radical damage and may even thwart chemically-induced liver damage.
• Pecans: Grown all over the U.S., pecans were a staple food for Native Americans for hundreds of years. They're mostly known for their vitamin E content, which may help improve neurological function, cell protection and may even avert heart disease by preventing blood lipids from oxidizing. Pecans contain 245 percent of the daily recommended value per serving of manganese, a compound known to improve heart health.
• Macadamia nuts: One of my personal favorites, macadamia nuts are known for their oleic acid, a healthy, monounsaturated fat that may protect against heart disease and stroke. They're high in magnesium, manganese, and l-arginine, providing similar health benefits like walnuts.
• Pistachios: Powerful antioxidants such as lutein, beta-carotene and vitamin E are found in pistachios. Through regular consumption, the antioxidants have shown that they may help with lowered levels of bad cholesterol, according to a study published by the Journal of Nutrition.
Pistachios may even aid in weight management. In a study released by Nutrition, participants who ate unsalted pistachios daily lost an average of 0.7 inches from their waistline. Not only that, but they had reduced cholesterol by 15 points, improved blood sugar and lowered inflammation throughout their body.
• Sunflower seeds: Adding these to your daily diet can boost your immune system, thanks to their phytosterols. Other helpful compounds include vitamin E and B, copper and manganese, all providing their own benefits for optimal health.
Don't Be Afraid to Experiment
When it comes to making your own nut butter, don't be afraid to mix it up! The great thing about making your own nut butter is the freedom to create your own unique flavors. The possibilities are endless when you're the one in charge of what you're eating.
Before heading off to the kitchen to make your own nut butter, always make sure to purchase the ingredients from certified organic providers to keep yourself safe from pesticides and other harmful substances.
By Dr. Mercola
Eating a high-quality, high-fat diet may be one of the most useful interventions for many chronic diseases. Dr. Jeanne Drisko, who heads up the University of Kansas Integrative Medical Center, has used this nutritional protocol in a clinical setting for many years now.
Drisko is also the chairman and medical director for the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), a grassroots organization that helps educate consumers and patients about natural health strategies and important political issues that affect your access to alternative medicine.
"As many of us in integrative medicine, I started out very conventionally," Drisko says. "But with a personal health crisis, you suddenly learn there's not a lot in conventional medicine that works. I turned to integrative medicine and got much better ...
I ended up doing a fellowship with Hugh Riordan in Wichita, Kansas, who was one of the pioneers in intravenous vitamin C and a number of other integrative therapies. That was really what launched me into integrative medicine."
In 1998, the dean of the University of Kansas asked her to launch the KU Medicine Center,1 which now teaches students in integrative medicine.
The fellowship, which is one additional year after completion of a residency program, is even eligible for the board certification through the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).Clinical Use of Nutritional Ketosis
Part of Drisko's focus has been on the clinical use of nutritional ketosis, which is what I recommend for nearly everyone to improve their health. This all began when, at the prompting of the clinic's naturopath, they began investigating how shifts in the diet could improve outcomes in cancer patients treated with intravenous (IV) vitamin C.
"[T]he naturopath kept saying, 'We need to get them off the sugar. We need to get their diets improved.'
We worked together and found the responses with IV vitamin C were improved with more good fat, the essential fatty acid, medium-chain fat diet; the low sugar; and some good-quality protein," Drisko says.
"I never really put a name to it until Thomas Seyfried's book ['Cancer as a Metabolic Disease'] came out. That book was seminal for me. I was fortunate to be able to sit down with Tom, to have dinner with him, and to have been in communication with him since that book came out."
Seyfried and I will both be speaking at the Conquering Cancer Conference in Orlando, September 22 through 24. The event is sponsored by the Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine (ACIM).
Drisko will also participate in the brainstorming group at the ACIM Conquering Cancer Conference on September 25. You and/or your physician are invited to attend the general conference, which precedes this event. It should be one of the best cancer conferences of the year.
Cancer is not the only disease the KU Medical Center treats with a ketogenic diet. When asked what type of illness this intervention can benefit, she replies:
"Chronic illness generally ... We see a lot of young people that are very toxic and they have a lot of endocrine disruption, chronic illness and autoimmune disorders ... The ketogenic approach has been really helpful in getting them back [to] health with detoxification."Assessment and Evaluation
Patients initially receive a personalized integrative health assessment, which includes a comprehensive digestive stool analysis and a genetic panel. The latter allows you to evaluate the function of the detoxification, methylation and sulfation pathways.
They also receive an individualized nutrient evaluation and essays to determine mitochondrial function.
"We really like to look at the urinary organic acids. We look at lactate, pyruvate and the urinary organic acids to see how the mitochondria are functioning," Drisko explains.
"We also like to look at some of the medium-chain fat levels and then try and figure out if they're spilling some of these important fats in the urine or if they're burning them in the mitochondria [for] energy, and if they need cofactors like carnitine or some of the B vitamins ...
We use conventional labs or the Genova panel for the cardio-metabolic profile. It's an ION panel, but it adds some of the cardiac factors; lipid. That way, we can really assess some of the biochemical cofactors. I also like US Bio Tek ... [a] urinary metabolic panel. I get a lot of information from that."Determining Mitochondrial Function
If your mitochondria are functioning well, they will efficiently metabolize fat. If they don't, it suggests you're primarily burning carbohydrates as a primary fuel. Elevated lactate is typically found in people whose mitochondria are working at max capacity. However, there's a continuum.
In a chronically ill patient, particularly if the individual is toxic, the lactate will be high while some of the mitochondrial cofactors in the Krebs cycle will be either elevated or too low, indicating that the mitochondria are not working properly.
Poorly functioning mitochondria will also cause butyrates and certain fats to be eliminated via urine rather than being burned as fuel in the mitochondria. In cancer patients, this pattern of poor mitochondrial function becomes clearly evident.
"We've even done some metabolic cart testing in these patients, and at rest, they're burning glucose and their glycogen stores if they're really metabolically impaired," Drisko says.
Seyfried's book, which catalyzed Drisko's interest in this field, is a great resource. On the downside, it's expensive and best suited for health professionals.
An easier read is Travis Christofferson's book, "Tripping Over the Truth: The Metabolic Theory of Cancer," which provides a great overview of how mitochondrial metabolic dysfunction contributes to cancer, and may in fact be the primary cause.Sample Success Story
One sample success story from Drisko's clinical experience involves a young man who had been at an outdoor concert, spending the entire day in 98 degrees Fahrenheit heat. Prior to that day, he'd been healthy, but after that, he became chronically ill.
"He had thyroid dysfunction ... He had a drop in his testosterone levels. He had the onset of irritable bowel. He was a mess," Drisko says. "He went from doctor to doctor to doctor, as you can imagine. They finally told him he was just depressed and gave him antidepressants.
Someone referred him to our clinic. It turned out it was like sitting in a sauna all day for that young man, which released all these toxins that had built up ... He had lived near a farming community and been exposed to a lot of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.
Those are stored in your tissues. In sitting in that heat, it was like sitting in the sauna and releasing it. He didn't have the mechanism to clean it up and get it out of him. It was a toxic hit. When he came to me, we put him on appropriate doses of testosterone, got his thyroid in range, and just made him generally feel a little bit better. We cleaned up his gut and changed his diet."
After doing a genetics panel and urinary metabolic profile to assess the functionality of his detoxification pathways, they found his mitochondria were hardly working at all.
By removing sugars and processed carbohydrates and adding in healthy fats, including medium-chain triglycerides and higher-quality protein, he was able to turn his health around. He also received IV vitamin C and IV glutathione to aid with the detox process. "In time, he was pretty much back to baseline; off testosterone, no more irritable bowel, and on small dose of thyroid medication," Drisko says.Healthy Versus Dangerous Fats
When we're talking about implementing a high-fat diet, it's extremely important to identify which fats we're referring to, and how much.
As a general rule, you'll want at least 50 to 75 percent of your total calories (some may benefit from as much as 85 percent) from healthy fats, which include: olives, avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, organic pastured butter, cacao butter, raw nuts such as macadamia and pecans, seeds such as black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds, organic pastured eggs, grass-fed meats, lard and tallow.
If you're using the fats found in the typical American diet, you're undoubtedly going to get worse, not better. This is actually one of the reasons why the low-fat diet is in fact beneficial for some; because it lowers their intake of harmful polyunsaturated (PUFA) refined vegetable oils, primarily omega-6.
Making matters worse, 85 to 90 percent of those oils are from corn and soy, most of which are genetically engineered (GE), which means they're more heavily contaminated with glyphosate residues from Roundup. I suspect glyphosate may be an important contributor to mitochondrial dysfunction.
While typically never measured, Drisko has a new integrative medicine fellow who will be doing a research project to actually measure glyphosate residues in patients. I look forward to seeing the results of that research. In short, the key to success on a high-fat diet is to eat high-quality healthy fats. MCT oil is particularly beneficial, but need to be implemented with some care.
"I think a person, a physician or a health food coach really needs to be well versed in the use of these fats, because they can be difficult for patients to take. I have one patient that comes to mind that have a lot of GI distress from the use of these fats. We're always looking for a different way to administer these important medium-chain triglycerides (MCT)," Drisko says.MCT Versus Coconut Oil
One of the challenges with MCT oils is that if you consume high amounts, they can cause loose stools and gastrointestinal side effects. I've experienced that myself, even though I thought I was tolerant to it from eating high amounts of fat already and previously using 5 to 6 tablespoons of MCT. The problem was I'd stopped taking the MCT oil for awhile, and when you stop and restart it takes a while for your GI system to readjust.
Once your tolerance increases, you can have 5 to 6 tablespoons of MCT oil per day. But you wouldn't want to start with more than a teaspoon of MCT oil. Interestingly, Drisko notes that chronically ill people actually tend to have an increased tolerance to MCT, whereas healthy people have a lower tolerance. One of the ways you can improve your tolerance is by taking the powdered form.
Most of the commercial brands have eight-carbon (C8) and 10-carbon (C10) fats. They usually contain a 50/50 combination of both. I prefer taking C8 alone (caprylic acid), as it converts to ketones far more rapidly than the C10 fats.
Using coconut oil will provide a mixture of C6, C8, C10 and C12 fats, the latter of which is lauric acid. There are benefits to all of them. However, MCT oil is very refined, making it more appropriate for clinical use. When MCT oils are therapeutically used to fuel the mitochondria, they can be very effective.
"With cancer care, combining all of these approaches into a package: the ketogenic diet, the intravenous vitamin C, lifestyle changes ... we have seen some really life-threatening cancer cases become a chronic illness, such as ovarian cancer ... We have a handful of [ovarian cancer patients] that are 10 years out from their diagnosis of Stage 4.
It can work. It does not always work, but I think we're fine-tuning our approach such that I think we're going to find more and more benefit as we progress," Drisko says.Compliance Is Everything
It goes without saying that treating your illness with nutrition and lifestyle changes requires you to change and stick with it. It's not easy. However, the more severely ill a person is, the more apt they are to make drastic changes in order to save their life. Although, sometimes not even the prospect of death can sufficiently inspire a person to do everything that is necessary.
"We have pretty compliant patients by the time they end up here," Drisko says. "It is a cash-paid clinic. It's outside of the university insurance system. Very motivated patients come here, which is what we want. We have so many patients; we don't have time for people that aren't interested.
The best way to make the system work is to have integrative dietitians as part of the team. I lay everything out, do all the testing, and then I hand them over to the dietitian ... They're the coach of that patient. They don't just see them one time. They're on a regular schedule. They're coming back. They're having phone conferences. It's a real aggressive time commitment for that patient, but it really keeps them on the straight and narrow...
[P]atients are actually asking the oncologists if they can come over here or they're telling them they are going to come over here. Then they get proper nutritional advice. But if they are in an oncology clinic, they are going to get the pink M&Ms for the breast cancer. They're going to get the donuts on the cart. I think conventionally, there still isn't a lot of understanding of how important basic diet is in cancer care."
One tool that will radically improve your ability to understand what you're eating and follow a ketogenic diet is a nutrient tracker. There are a number of them available, but the most accurate one is Cronometer.com/Mercola. That's our revision of the basic tracker, and it's already set up for nutritional ketosis.More Information
You can find more information about the KU Medicine Center on www.kumc.edu, including contact information should you want to make an appointment.
Also, if you have an interest in or passion for learning more about cancer, be sure to attend the ACIM Conquering Cancer Conference in Orlando, September 22 through 24. I will be there along with a long list of other excellent speakers. There, you'll learn more about how to implement a ketogenic diet and so much more.
You may also attend the Conference for Intravenous Vitamin C hosted by KU Integrative Medicine September 30 through October 1, 2016.
Under Our Skin 2: Emergence – Trailer from Open Eye Pictures on Vimeo.
By Dr. Mercola
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, although some data suggest it may actually be over 440,000.1,2 While exact numbers are difficult to ascertain, what is known is that the prevalence is rising.
Since national surveillance began in 1982, the number of annual Lyme cases reported has increased nearly 25-fold. The disease is also creeping out geographically.3,4 Between 1993 and 1997, 43 U.S. counties had a high incidence of Lyme disease. By 2012, the number of hotspots had risen to 182.5
Today, Lyme disease is becoming more widely recognized as an actual disease, but sufferers still meet plenty of resistance from the medical community and insurers. In years past, Lyme sufferers were often told their problem was psychiatric; in essence, the symptoms were "all in their head."Under Our Skin
"Under Our Skin 2: Emergence" is a sequel to the award-winning and Academy Award semifinalist documentary "Under Our Skin,"6 which exposed the hidden story of "medical and scientific malfeasance and neglect," as thousands of people with Lyme disease go undiagnosed, or get misdiagnosed each year.
"Under Our Skin" had a tremendous impact, raising awareness among patients, doctors and health authorities alike. Since the film's release in 2014, the CDC has raised its estimated prevalence of Lyme by 10 times, making it more prevalent than HIV and breast cancer combined in the U.S.
Even more importantly, scientific hypotheses presented in the film — such as the theory that Lyme organisms may thrive in biofilms, which helps explain why treatment is so difficult and recurrence so common — have now become widely accepted.
However, despite progress Lyme patients still face an uphill battle. "Emergence" examines the deepening crisis, as prevalence is rising far faster than the evolution of diagnosis and treatment.
Around the world, controversy around Lyme disease is still brewing, and the film reveals medical collusion and conflicts of interest that keep Lyme patients suffering. The film ends on a hopeful note however, by showing how patients in the original film have managed to improve their health and reclaim their lives.The History of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease was named after the East Coast town of Lyme, Connecticut, where the disease was first identified in1975. 7 By 1977, the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis, also known as the deer tick) was linked to transmission of the disease.
In 1982, Willy Burgdorfer, Ph.D., discovered the bacterium responsible for the infection: Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi),8 a relative to the spirochete bacterium that causes syphilis. The bacteria are released into your blood from the infected tick.
We now know there are five subspecies of B. burgdorferi with more than 100 strains in the U.S. and some 300 strains worldwide, many of which have developed resistance to antibiotics.
Part of what makes B. burgdorferi such a formidable foe is its ability to take different forms in your body, depending on the conditions. This clever maneuvering helps it to hide and survive.
Its corkscrew-shaped form also allows it to burrow into and hide in a variety of your body's tissues, which is why it causes such wide-ranging multisystem involvement.
Increasing the complexity further, some symptoms may also be due to co-infections, caused by other disease-causing organisms that like to travel with the B. burgdorferi bacterium. Many Lyme patients have one or more of these co-infections, which may or may not respond to any given treatment for B. burgdorferi.
To learn more about the symptoms and prevention of Lyme disease, make sure to check out the award-winning films "Under Our Skin" and "Under Our Skin 2: Emergence."Click Here to Order NOW Urban Sprawl Has Contributed to Rising Lyme Prevalence
Since the late 1970s, the spread of Lyme disease has primarily been blamed on deer. However, more recent evidence suggests rodents like mice and rats are a far more serious threat,9 and the rise in Lyme disease has been traced back to the elimination of natural predators.
Ticks are not born with the Lyme spirochetes. They pick up the bacteria when feeding on an infected host.10 Research indicates that white-footed mice infect 75 to 95 percent of larval ticks that feed on them, while deer only infect about 1 percent.
According to a 1996 study,11 rats are even more infectious than mice, noting that "the capacity of rats to serve as reservoir hosts for the Lyme disease spirochete, therefore, increases risk of infection among visitors to ... urban parks."
Another study12 published the following year also found that Norway rats and black rats were exceptionally effective hosts, infecting nearly all ticks that fed on them.
The main predators of small rodents like mice and rats are foxes, birds of prey and snakes. Agricultural and urban sprawl has decimated the habitats of these natural predators of mice and rats, allowing disease-carrying rodent populations to rise unabated.
Moreover, while snakes and birds of prey like hawks, falcons and owls are losing their natural habitats, the coyote population not only is thriving in most states, but is also killing off the only predators of rodents left, namely foxes and cats.
A study13 that looked at these factors found that increases in Lyme disease in the Northeast and Midwest U.S. in the past three decades consistently correlated to declines in red fox.
It also found that as fox populations decrease and rodents increase, coyotes do not help control small rodent populations because they prefer much larger prey.Other Contributing Factors
Besides mice and rats, and to a lesser degree deer, Lyme can also be spread by other insects besides ticks, including mosquitoes, spiders, fleas and mites.
Complicating matters further, there's yet another tick-borne disease on the loose. Researchers have identified a tick-borne illness that is very similar to Lyme, caused by Borrelia miyamotoi (B. miyamotoi). The CDC14 describes B. miyamotoi as a distant relative to B. burgdorferi, being more closely related to bacteria that cause tick-borne relapsing fever. This disease is characterized by recurring episodes of fever, headache, nausea and muscle or joint aches.
This bacterium was first identified in Japanese ticks in 1995. Since then, it's been found in several rodent species (and the ticks that feed on them) in the U.S., as well as in ticks feeding on European red deer, domestic ruminants and white-tailed deer. According to the CDC:15
"Given that B. miyamotoi uses the same vector ticks as B. burgdorferi and that the range of I. scapularis ticks continues to expand, it seems inevitable that the human population will be increasingly exposed to B. miyamotoi."What Makes Lyme Disease Such a Challenging Disease?
Symptoms of Lyme disease typically start out with unrelenting fatigue, recurring fever, headaches and achy muscles or joints. The disease may then progress to muscle spasms, loss of motor coordination and even intermittent paralysis, meningitis or heart problems. For a more complete list of symptoms, see the Lyme Research Alliance symptom's checklist.16
On an interesting side note, a 2014 paper17,18 published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology argues that ticks should be reclassified as venomous; their salivary proteins being similar to those found in scorpion, spider, snake and bee venoms. An estimated 8 percent of tick species are in fact capable of causing paralysis with a single bite.
The simplest presentation of Lyme disease is the orthopedic forms, which tend to affect the larger joints. When the microbes and the associated immune reactions are situated in the connective tissue, the infection presents as a "vague, dispersed pain," which is easily misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.
A major challenge with Lyme disease is that its symptoms imitate so many other disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and even Alzheimer's disease, making proper identification difficult and time consuming.19 What's worse, many Lyme sufferers outwardly look quite healthy and their blood work often raises no cause for concern, which is why Lyme disease has also been called "the invisible illness."Better Diagnostics for Lyme Are Sorely Needed
A big problem facing Lyme patients and their treating doctors is the difficulty of reaching a proper diagnosis. Conventional lab tests are unreliable, and one reason for this is because the spirochete has the ability to infect your white blood cells. Lab tests rely on the normal function of white blood cells to produce the antibodies they measure. If your white cells are infected, they don't respond to infection appropriately.
In order for blood tests to be truly useful, you need to be treated first. Once your immune system begins to respond normally, only then will the antibodies show up. This is called the "Lyme Paradox." You have to be treated before a proper diagnosis can be made.
That said, I recommend the specialized lab called IGeneX because they test for more outer surface proteins (bands), and can often detect Lyme while standard blood tests cannot. IGeneX also tests for a few strains of co-infections such as Babesia and Erhlichia.Patients and Doctors Fight for Recognition of Chronic Lyme
As if the difficulties of getting a proper diagnosis and treatment were not enough, Lyme sufferers face additional hurdles when they don't fully recuperate after the initial treatment. The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), which publishes guidelines for a number of infectious diseases, claims there's no scientific evidence to back up the theory that Borellia infection can become chronic.20
IDSA's 2006 clinical practice guidelines for Lyme disease21,22 claim that Lyme is easily cured with two weeks of antibiotics, requiring 28 days in rare cases. However, the references they base this on reflect a clear bias. Of the 400 references they cite, half are based on articles written by their own people.
Their literature review in no way represents the total body of science related to the study of Lyme disease.23 An antitrust investigation into IDSA's panel members conducted in 2007 also revealed rampant conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, such discoveries have not resulted in positive change.
In 2009, IDSA created a new panel to review the ethics of the original 2006 members that created the Lyme guidelines. The Final Report24 concluded that the original guidelines were "based on the highest-quality medical/scientific evidence available," and that the authors "did not fail to consider or cite any relevant data."
As a result, chronic Lyme patients continue having to fight for their right to treatment, as IDSA's guidelines have sweeping impacts on Lyme disease medical care. Insurance companies frequently restrict coverage for long-term treatment based on IDSA's guidelines. Physicians' treatment decisions are also guided by its recommendations.
Opposing IDSA is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), the members of which argue that many patients suffer long-tem consequences and require far longer treatment than recommended by IDSA.Signs of Slow but Steady Progress
There are signs of progress though:
• Last year, a new Lyme research center attached to the rheumatology division at Hopkins Bayview Medical Center was created. Led by Lyme researcher Dr. John Aucott, the research center will focus on chronic Lyme.25
• In February, 2016, lymedisease.org reported that the National Guidelines Clearinghouse, "a federal database that provides treatment information to health care professionals and insurance companies," had removed IDSA's treatment guidelines from its website, leaving only ILADS guidelines.26
The IDSA guidelines are also due for revision, although major changes are probably unlikely. On the upside, IDSA has reluctantly agreed to include a Lyme patient on its guideline's panel this time, after being pressured by Lyme disease advocate groups, patients and U.S. Congressmen. Until the IDSA guidelines are updated, for which there is no known deadline as of yet, ILADS treatment guidelines are the only ones listed by National Guidelines Clearinghouse.
• At the end of June 2016, the Delaware Senate and House passed House Bill 291, which calls for the creation of an oversight board to educate health care professionals about Lyme disease.27
• On July 31, 2016, the Massachusetts Senate passed the Lyme disease insurance bill (H4491). Effective immediately, the bill calls for mandatory insurance coverage for the long-term treatment of chronic Lyme, setting a precedent for other states to follow.28Take Prevention Seriously
Considering the difficulty of diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, taking preventive measures should be at the top of your list:
• Avoid tick-infested areas, such as leaf piles around trees. Walk in the middle of trails and avoid brushing against long grasses path edgings. Don't sit on logs or wooden stumps.
• Considering the high infection rate of rats, you'd be wise to take precautions if you're in an area where rats have been sighted.
• Wear light-colored long pants and long sleeves, to make it easier to see the ticks.
• Tuck your pants into socks, and wear closed shoes and a hat, especially if venturing out into wooded areas. Also tuck your shirt into your pants.
• Ticks are very tiny. You want to find and remove them before they bite, so do a thorough tick check upon returning inside, and keep checking for several days following exposure. Also check your bedding for several days following exposure.
As for using chemical repellents, I do not recommend using them directly on your skin as this will introduce toxins directly into your body. If you use them, spray them on the outside of your clothes and avoid inhaling the spray fumes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list29 indicating the hourly protection limits for various repellents.
If you find that a tick has latched onto you, it's very important to remove it properly. For detailed instructions, please see lymedisease.org's tick removal page.30 Once removed, make sure you save the tick so that it can be tested for presence of pathogenic organisms.
About the Director
I believe in bringing quality to my readers, which is why I wanted to share some information about the director, Andy Abrahams Wilson, from "Under Our Skin 2: Emergence". We sat down with Andy to know a little more about what goes in to making these films. Thank you to Mr. Wilson for sharing with us.
What was your inspiration for making this film?
Lyme disease is a canary in the coal mine and case study for what's poisonous in both our environment and our science. At the epicenter a tiny microbe looms, providing a powerful symbol for an issue that is hidden and lurking — so small yet immense, so real but unrecognized. What has gotten under our skin is not just a microorganism, but a lethal system which has abandoned some of the most needy and threatens us all.
Our own human skin is a microcosm of the earth, and the extent to which the earth's body is out of balance, so is our own. With "Under Our Skin" and its sequel "Emergence," it is my mission to show the horror of an illness and an ill system that too long has been ignored. But I also want to show the human and natural beauty right next to it. Sometimes indistinguishable, the beauty and horror are intertwined.
If the films merely perpetuate the idea that the natural world is perilous, or that human nature is corrupt, we miss out on the beauty that surrounds us. On the other hand, if we are lulled by convention and don't look beneath the surface, we risk infection by the equally dangerous maladies of ignorance and indifference.
What was your favorite part of making this film?
As the director, my favorite part of the film was being a witness to the hundreds of Lyme sufferers interviewed through the four years of production. This witnessing can be incredibly healing, especially for people whose voices have not been heard or validated. Of course, once the film was completed, the personal stories about how the film changed — or even saved — people's lives was the icing on the cake. To create art that helps heal is the best reward possible.
Where do the proceeds to your film go?
Open Eye Pictures, the production and distribution company behind the film, is a nonprofit specializing in films that educate and activate. All proceeds from the film go back into the mission of the company to bring awareness and impact change through film. We have an ongoing Lyme outreach and community engagement program which is supported sole by proceeds from film sales.
Together with your help we can continue to spread the word about this harmful disease so that we can take control of our health and the health of our children. For the month of August, we are offering a combo deal of Under Our Skin Parts 1 and 2 for a discounted price so be sure to take advantage of this great deal.
By Dr. Mercola
In the featured video, journalist Abby Martin discusses Monsanto's rise to power and how the company has managed to saturate the global environment with its toxic chemicals, largely through immoral means.
In May, the University of San Francisco revealed the results from a testing project that began in 2015. The tests, commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), found that 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of the chemical glyphosate in their urine.1
Glyphosate is the most widely used agricultural chemical in the world, and it's an active ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup. As noted by the Detox Project:2
"Glyphosate, labeled a 'probable human carcinogen' by the World Health Organization's cancer agency IARC in 2015, has now been revealed to be ubiquitous in the first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America...
Glyphosate was found ... at an average level of 3.096 parts per billion (ppb). Children had the highest levels with an average of 3.586 ppb. The regions with the highest levels were the West and the Midwest with an average of 3.053 ppb and 3.050 ppb respectively."Glyphosate Contamination Is 'Everywhere'
Glyphosate has been found in a wide array of samples, including blood, urine, breast milk, drinking water and more. Results from a German study3 published in 2012 showed that even people who have no direct contact with agriculture have significant concentrations of glyphosate in their urine.
In fact, every single urine sample collected from city dwellers around Berlin tested positive for glyphosate, with values ranging from 0.5 to 2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), which is between five and 20 times the permissible upper limit for glyphosate in German drinking water, set at 0.1 ng/ml.
Why do most people have traces of this probable carcinogen in their bodies, regardless of where they live?
The answer is because glyphosate is sprayed on virtually all food crops around the world. In fact, glyphosate is the most heavily used weed killer in history. Roundup is the most commonly used formulation but glyphosate can also be found in other pesticide formulas.4
Since 1974, 1.8 million tons of glyphosate have been applied to US fields; two-thirds of that volume has been sprayed in the last 10 years.5
In 2014 alone, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply 0.8 pounds of the chemical to every acre of cultivated cropland in the US Between 1974 and 2014, 9.4 million tons of glyphosate was used worldwide.Glyphosate Threatens Ecological, Animal and Human Health
As noted by The Center for Biological Diversity, the heavy use of glyphosate — particularly on genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready crops, which are also developed by Monsanto — has been implicated in the dramatic decline in Monarch butterflies.
Evidence6,7 has also linked glyphosate to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and honeybee starvation,8 along with toxicity to soil, woodland plants, amphibians, fish, aquatic environments and mammals,9 causing reproductive problems and endocrine disruption.
According to other recent research, glyphosate may also promote antibiotic resistance by disrupting gut bacteria and dysregulating manganese utilization (manganese accumulation in bile acids allows Salmonella to gain a stronghold there).Monsanto, a 'Sinister Threat to the Planet's Ecosystem'
Considering the many concerns raised by scientists about the toxic nature of glyphosate and formulations containing glyphosate (which typically turn out to be even more toxic than glyphosate in isolation), you'd think the US government, if not Monsanto itself, would take action to protect human health.
Instead, they've done the converse. In fact, it could easily be said that without the support by government officials and regulators, Monsanto would never have been able to achieve its current power status.
As noted by Martin:
"Monsanto has already proven it cannot be trusted to care about anything but money, especially when lives are at stake.
A quick look at the corporation's scandalous history reveals it is a sinister threat to the planet's ecosystem, economies around the world, as well as the livelihoods and very lives of millions of people."
The company's history goes all the way back to 1901, when John Francis Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works in St. Luis, Missouri. His father-in-law, a sugar merchant named Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto provided funding.
"During the sugar shortage in World War I, the Monsanto Company convinced America the solution was buying its fake sweetener, saccharin," Martin says. The company was also enlisted to help with American bomb making.
"From its inception, the corporation employed the shadiest of tactics to avert laws that infringed on profits," Martin says. To circumvent the regulations and high taxes in St. Luis, Monsanto moved its business four miles south, establishing its own town, Monsanto, Illinois.
Not surprisingly, regulations were lax in the town of Monsanto, and corporate taxes were low. As a result, the town attracted a number of other factories. According to Martin, "the town's head even admitted to The Wall Street Journal that it was created to be a sewer. Today, it's a toxic wasteland."A History of Concealment
Monsanto became a leading producer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), producing nearly all PCBs sold in the US, an estimated 1.25 billion pounds. As noted by Martin, the toxicity of PCBs were known, and concealed, by Monsanto executives.
In 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of decades of "outrageous acts of pollution" in the town of Anniston, Alabama, where it dumped PCBs into the local river and secretly buried the toxic chemical in a landfill.11
The charge of "outrageous" in Alabama law requires the act to be "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society."
Indeed, internal documents revealed Monsanto had full knowledge of the severity of the pollution problem it caused for at least three decades, and decided to cover it up. As reported by The Washington Post at the time:12
"In 1966 ... Monsanto managers discovered that fish dunked in a local creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dropped into boiling water. In 1969, they found a fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB level. But they never told their neighbors, and concluded that 'there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges' ...
[D]ocuments – many featuring warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" – suggested a company-wide preoccupation with maintaining its $22-million-a-year PCB monopoly regardless of health or environmental risks. 'We can't afford to lose one dollar of business,' one internal memo declared.
A committee the company formed to address controversies about PCBs had only two formal objectives: 'Permit continued sales and profits' and 'protect image of ... the corporation.'"US Government Shields Monsanto From PCB Fallout
Seattle recently filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for PCB pollution. They want Monsanto to pay to help clean up pollution it caused in the Duwamish River and also wants to hold the company responsible for making the river's fish too contaminated to eat.13
San Diego has also sued Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs,14 while San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, California and Spokane, Washington have filed lawsuits against Monsanto for continuing to produce and promote PCBs despite knowing their hazards.15
However, it remains to be seen whether these lawsuits will ever move forward. Congress is in the process of updating the Toxic Substances Control Act and the House of Representatives has conveniently slipped in a clause that many are calling a "gift" to Monsanto, as the paragraph shields the company from legal liability related to PCBs.Monsanto's War Contributions: Atomic Bomb, DDT and Agent Orange
Most people are unaware that in 1943, Monsanto joined the US war machine. Monsanto head Charles Allen Thomas received an invitation from the Pentagon, asking him to join the Manhattan Project. Monsanto's laboratories subsequently produced polonium for the atomic bomb, which ended up being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
According to Martin, Monsanto was also responsible for irradiating American citizens on US soil, supplying radioactive iron for human experiments. Between 1945 and 1947, Vanderbilt University researchers fed radioactive iron to nearly 900 pregnant women to test the effects of radiation on the human body and fetus.
Monsanto also produced one of the world's first pesticides, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT. Advertised not only as harmless but actually good for human health, DDT was widely used without any safety precautions whatsoever to kill off disease-carrying mosquitoes.
For three decades, marketing campaigns assured DDT's safety and benefits, despite the growing number of scientific investigations suggestion otherwise. Today the toxicity of DDT is well-recognized, but it was public pressure that forced the US government to finally ban the chemical in 1972.
Monsanto's contributions to the US war machine continued during the Vietnam War, when the company became a leading producer of Agent Orange, a defoliant that had severe health consequences for those exposed to it, thanks to the presence of dioxin. According to Martin, Monsanto and the US government were aware of the toxic nature of dioxin, but hid it from the public.
Still to this day, Vietnamese people, American veterans and chemical plant workers suffer the consequences of exposure. In the town of Nitro, where Monsanto dumped dioxin for years without informing the residents, people also suffer elevated rates of cancer and other health problems. Byproducts from the manufacture of Agent Orange were also dumped into New Jersey's Passaic River for decades, turning it into one of the most contaminated waterways in the US.Monsanto Tries to Rebrand Itself
In 1977, Monsanto hired the PR firm Bain & Company to help them reshape public opinion about the company, which had grown increasingly negative. Bain employee Mitt Romney was selected for the task, and Romney suggested Monsanto rebrand itself as a life affirming company by shifting its focus toward food and agriculture. Under Romney's guidance, Monsanto slogans such as "Feeding the World" were born.
But this corporate facelift was as shallow as they come, because Monsanto didn't stop making toxic chemicals. Nor did it change the way it does business. For example, Monsanto acquired Searle, the maker of aspartame, a toxic sweetener now found in more than 6,000 food products and beverages. Martin describes the history behind this controversial sweetener, and the political connections that ultimately allowed aspartame to flood the market, despite studies suggesting it may be harmful to human health.
Monsanto also contributed recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to the US food system. This synthetic hormone increases milk production in cows. However, research suggests that drinking milk from rBGH-treated cows may also increase your risk of cancer.
Monsanto's entry into agriculture may have been the most destructive of all. By producing genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant seeds and the pesticides that go with them, Monsanto has been able to spread its toxic influence even further than ever before. Remarkably, the company tries to pass itself off as a "sustainable agricultural company," despite the fact that its chemical-based methods are anything but.Monsanto Has Long History of Lobbying Against Warning Labels
Since its inception, Monsanto has repeatedly fought attempts to warn people about the potential health risks associated with their products. Repeatedly, the company has insisted their products are completely safe, even when they knew it wasn't true. Monsanto has vehemently fought:
- rBGH-free labeling
- Food labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Glyphosate toxicity warning labels
Monsanto's history really speaks for itself, and its current behavior tells us nothing has changed since the days of DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. The only thing that has changed is that now the company is able to ensure that virtually every person on the planet is affected by its toxic chemicals, via food.
By Dr. Mercola
The size, shape and color of your bowel movements can tell you a lot about your health. This is why you should take a minute to observe what's in the toilet bowl before flushing it away.
The "perfect" stool should be shaped like a torpedo. It should be smooth, soft and easy to pass, as opposed to small and hard (pellet-like) or overly loose.
The appearance and frequency of your stool gives you clues about how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and can even signal serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.
Further, making dietary changes will often lead to significant changes in your stool, which you can use as a visual tool to monitor your underlying health.Analyze Your Stool Online Using StoolAnalyzer
Because you're living in the 21st century, it's no longer necessary to make guestimates about what type of changes you should make to improve your health and, thereby, the condition of your stool. You can instead use an online tool called StoolAnalyzer to make these suggestions for you.1
As it says on StoolAnalyzer.com, "This program is designed to help you analyze your feces and change your diet so that you can achieve the 'perfect stool.'"2 The program takes just a few minutes to complete and includes visual images to help you analyze your poop, asking questions regarding your poop's:
- Behavior (floating versus sinking)
You'll receive a score based on a 100-point scale (with 100 being a perfect score) along with dietary recommendations to improve the health of your stool.
This is not a substitute for an ongoing relationship with a holistic health care provider, but it can give you an idea of what's healthy and what's not when it comes to your stool.The Bristol Stool Chart
Another handy tool for gauging the health of your digestive tract and stool is the Bristol Stool Chart. Like StoolAnalyzer, this chart takes into account shape and texture of your stool, as well as how difficult or easy it is to pass.
Normal stool is shown in types 3, 4 and 5, "like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft" to "soft blobs that pass easily." Type 4, however, is ideal.3Signs of Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Stool
The next time you have a bowel movement, compare what you see in the toilet with the information in the chart below. You should be able to accurately gauge whether your stool is healthy or unhealthy.
If yours is the latter, it's time to make some dietary changes and consult with a holistic health professional to figure out what's gone awry in your digestive tract.Healthy Stool Unhealthy Stool
Healthy Stool: Medium to light brown
Unhealthy Stool: Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
Healthy Stool: Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of pieces
Unhealthy Stool: Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
Healthy Stool: About 1 to 2 inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long
Unhealthy Stool: Narrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely make a call to your physician
Healthy Stool: S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine
Unhealthy Stool: Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice.
If you have black, tarry stools, it's best to be evaluated by your health care provider
Healthy Stool: Quiet and gentle dive into the water; it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little "whoosh" sound — not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a shower
Unhealthy Stool: White, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician. Antacids may also produce white stool.
Healthy Stool: Natural smell, not repulsive (I'm not saying it will smell good)
Unhealthy Stool: Yellow stools may indicate giardia infection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert's syndrome. If you see this, call your doctor.
Healthy Stool: Uniform texture
Unhealthy Stool: Presence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)
Healthy Stool: Sinks slowly
Unhealthy Stool: Floaters or splashers
Unhealthy Stool: Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain
Unhealthy Stool: Very bad odor: If your stool has an extraordinarily bad odor, it should not be ignored. I am referring to an odor above and beyond the normally objectionable stool odor.
Stinky stool can be associated with a number of health problems, such as a malabsorptive disorder, Celiac disease, Crohn's disease and chronic pancreatitis.How Often Should You Poop?
There is a wide variation in what's considered normal bowel-movement frequency. Specifically, three bowel movements per day to three per week may be normal for you, and the frequency may change from day to day or week to week. This is because many factors influence your bowel habits, including:
✓ Hormonal fluctuations
✓ Sleep patterns
What's most important is to monitor how you feel and how easily your bowel movements occur. If you're not moving your bowels often enough, you may need to push or strain, and you may feel uncomfortably bloated or gassy. When you do go, the stool may be dry and hard or pellet-like, which are signs of constipation.
Straining is not normal during a bowel movement, nor is experiencing feelings of incomplete elimination, bloating, crampiness or sluggishness after going number two. If you're over the age of 65, your risk of becoming constipated increases significantly.
Chronic, untreated constipation can lead to fecal impaction, which can be a serious medical condition. Laxatives should be avoided at all cost and used only as a last resort, not only due to the potential side effects but also because your body may become dependent on them.
Laxatives may decrease your colon's ability to contract and can even eventually damage your large intestine's nerves, muscles, and other tissues. Fortunately, although constipation is very common, it is also usually temporary and relatively easy to resolve — without resorting to laxatives — by using the natural strategies at the end of this article.You're Probably Missing Out on These Two Pooping Principles
If you're an adult, you may think you know all there is to know about moving your bowels. However, if you live in the developed world you may be missing out on a key strategy that could make pooping much easier: squatting.
Your body is designed to eliminate while squatting, while modern-day toilets put your body in an unnatural position. Sitting on a modern toilet is designed to place your knees at a 90-degree angle to your abdomen while squatting places your knees much closer to your torso.
This changes the spatial relationships of your intestinal organs and musculature, optimizing the forces involved in defecation. Squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and allows for complete emptying of your cecum and appendix without straining, which prevents fecal stagnation and the accumulation of toxins in your intestinal tract.
Non-westernized societies, in which people squat, do not have the high prevalence of bowel disease seen in developed nations; in some cultures with traditional lifestyles, these diseases are uncommon or almost unknown. Special toilets and stools that get your body into a more "squatty" position can help you get closer to the ideal even if you've been sitting for decades. What's the other pooping principle you may be missing out on?
A bidet! Bidets provide superior hygiene, are gentler on your skin and are better for the environment than toilet paper; with a bidet seat, you can even install one right on your existing toilet. Bidets are common in certain parts of Europe, South America, the Middle East and Japan; they haven't caught on widely in the U.S., but their use does appear to be increasing.4Tips to Optimize Your Bowel Movements
The strategies that follow will help to optimize your digestive health, reverse and prevent constipation and support healthy bowel movements. They're safe for children and adults alike.
✓ Remove all sources of gluten from your diet (the most common sources are wheat, barley, rye, spelt and other grains)
✓ Eat a diet that includes whole foods, rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains
✓ Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function
✓ Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kefir (if you tolerate dairy); add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you're not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone
✓ Increase your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed daily)
✓ Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water
✓ Get plenty of exercise daily
✓ Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as painkillers like codeine or hydrocodone, which will slow your bowel function.
Antidepressants, and antibiotics can also cause a variety of GI disruptions
✓ Address emotional challenges with tools like the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
✓ As mentioned, consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels, which has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids