Monday, December 25, 2017

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Factory Farms Destroy Drinking Water Worldwide

By Dr. Mercola

Two of the primary polluters of our world and destroyers of our environment are also the primary sources of our food: large-scale, factory-style crop farms (both genetically engineered (GE) and conventionally-grown food crops), and confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

GE crop fields and CAFOs tend to go hand in hand—especially in the US—and they not only deplete aquifers of valuable drinking water, they also pollute what little fresh drinking water remains.

Most people don’t realize that agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s fresh water. This is a challenge because over one billion of the seven billion people on Earth don’t even have access to safe, clean drinking water.

Add to that the soil destruction and depletion that’s occurring courtesy of modern agricultural practices and it’s quite clear that our primary food suppliers also pose a very serious threat to the future of our food and water supplies...

A Business Insider1 article published in August last year shows aerial photos of factory farms across the US that reveal, in disgusting detail, how the American countryside is being destroyed by their presence.

At present, the vast majority of the major food crops grown in the US are genetically engineered, and 99 percent of food animals in the US are raised in these large-scale feedlots. Yet many Americans still do not realize exactly how their food is raised or grown, and all the “hidden” costs associated with factory-style farming.

Des Moines, Iowa Sues Over Fertilizer Runoff

According to the Environmental Protection Agency2 (EPA), US states with high concentrations of CAFOs report 20-30 serious water quality problems annually. In Iowa, factory farms are now accused of polluting two rivers that supply drinking water to the city of Des Moines.

High levels of nitrates have been detected in the water, which is both difficult and costly to remove. Des Moines’ water utility spent $900,000 on nitrate filtering in 2013, and is now threatening to sue three neighboring counties (Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun Counties) over the fertilizer runoff tainting these rivers.

According to Bill Stowe, general manager of the Des Moines Water Works, the public water supply is “directly risked by high nitrate concentrations." As reported by NPR:3

“Stowe says the source of these nitrates is pretty clear. Farmers spread nitrogen fertilizer on their corn fields, it turns into nitrate and then it commonly runs into streams through networks of underground tile pipes that drain the soil.

Those drainage systems are managed, in some cases, by county governments, and Des Moines Water Works is now proceeding on the theory that those governments can be held legally responsible for the pollution that their pipes carry.

When they build these artificial drainage districts that take water, polluted water, quickly into the Raccoon River, they have a responsibility to us and others as downstream users... We need to get down to specific steps that they need to take. If they aren't willing, we'll see them in federal court."

Unfortunately, the toxic waste created by factory farms cannot be completely contained or eliminated, no matter what you do. It has to go somewhere, even if it doesn’t go directly into a valuable water source.

The long-term solution is to alter our farming practices to root out toxic chemicals and soil additives, and to grow crops in such a way that the farm is contributing to the overall health and balance of the environment rather than polluting it and creating a dysfunctional ecosystem.

Victory Against Polluting CAFOs in Oregon

In related news, the Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) and Center for Food Safety (CFS) recently won a summary judgment4 against four CAFO dairies in Lower Yakima Valley, accused of violating critical environmental protection laws.

According to the lawsuit, the massive above-ground manure lagoons at these dairies leak toxic waste such as nitrates and other pollutants into soils and public water supplies, thereby posing a major threat to public health and the environment.  

In 2012, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report5 showing that 20 percent of the 331 wells tested in the Lower Yakima Valley had nitrate levels above federal drinking water standards, and more than 24,000 residents rely on water from these private wells.

The health hazards of nitrates include blue baby syndrome, cancer, autoimmune diseases, reproductive problems, and more. According to the press release:6

“The groups have won summary judgment, confirming that industrial dairies’ manure indisputably threatens public health. The decision affirms CARE and CFS’s argument that the manure management practices of these industrial dairies may contribute to drinking water contamination, are insufficient to protect public health and the environment, and that these industrial dairies should be held responsible.

 ...Today’s landmark decision connects these industrial dairies to contamination of the drinking water of thousands of Lower Yakima Valley residents.

 ‘It is long past due that these dairy factories be held accountable for their toxic waste and compromising of human health,’ said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. These dairies’ practices harm drinking water and the environment, and we are gratified that the Court agrees that such pollution is unlawful.”

Next, the groups will proceed to trial, where the court will be provided with evidence to establish what needs to be done to clean up this toxic mess. Jessica Culpepper, Food Safety and Health attorney at Public Justice noted that:

“This precedent-setting victory is a clear indication that mega-dairies like Cow Palace may not continue to operate in a way that dumps their mess on the people and the environment.

By creating far more manure than the dairy could possibly manage and allowing its facility to operate under filthy conditions, it has endangered not only the environment and a community’s drinking water supply, but the health and safety of the animals, the farmworkers, and dairy consumers as well.”

Indiana Senator Introduces Bill to Thwart Moratoriums on New CAFO’s

Victories such as the one just mentioned are becoming increasingly important in light of the power of the agricultural lobby, which is constantly fighting to keep regulations on these mega operations as loose and carefree as possible. In response to rising numbers of moratoriums against new CAFO’s in Indiana, state Senator Jean Leising introduced Senate Bill 249, which would prevent a county, municipality or township “from adopting an ordinance, resolution, rule, policy, or other requirement” that prohibits the building of any livestock structure, provided the operation is in accordance with zoning and state laws.

According to environmentalist attorney Kim Ferraro, who is the water and agriculture policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council:7 “It’s one thing to want to be a state that promotes agriculture. It’s a whole other thing to completely strip the rights of local governments and citizens to protect themselves from harm.”

Indiana already has laws on the books that encourage the building of CAFOs and restrict local governments’ ability to pass ordinances to prevent new factory farms from being built. Laws have also been passed that make it more difficult for residents to win a nuisance lawsuit against CAFOs for noxious odors, for example. Former Jay County commissioner Milo Miller Jr has described Leising’s bill as a “bunch of crap,” adding:  

“They say they want the counties to have local control, but it’s ‘Do it our way’. What kind of local control is that? Who knows what’s best in the county? The state legislature or the county officials?”

Fresh Water Supplies at Risk Across the Globe

Water pollution is a serious problem around the world, primarily as a result of toxic agriculture practices. A story in The Blade8 discusses a new study9 that suggests many of the world’s lakes are at risk due to farm fertilizer runoff, which feeds harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Once this algae is established, it’s more difficult to get rid of it than previously thought. “Nitrogen and phosphorus in the algae itself gets recycled and combines with fresh runoff to form more algae, resulting in a near-perpetual cycle of goopy green stuff that is difficult to break in certain bodies of water,” the article explains.

The answer, according to the authors of this study, is better land-use management that addresses fertilizer runoff. A dramatic reduction in fertilizer use is also recommended. Lead author and Dartmouth College biology professor Kathryn Cottingham believes that “aggressive reductions in runoff could yield immediate benefits.”

At Current Rate, There’s Only Two Generations of Topsoil Left...

A related problem is topsoil destruction and erosion, which is exacerbated by tilling, monocropping, and not using cover crops. According to Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), if the current rates of degradation continue, all of the topsoil around the world will be gone in 60 years. If that’s not a sobering thought, I don’t know what is. That means we have less than two generations’ worth left of “doing business as usual.” After that, it’ll be game over because without topsoil you cannot grow food, no matter how many chemicals you throw on top of it.

“Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation,” Scientific American10 writes.

Taking Control of Your Health Is Part of the Solution

There’s absolutely nothing sustainable about our current farming model. Instead of producing ecological balance and food for the masses, the result is global hunger, pollution, and water scarcity... Fortunately, there are answers; it’s just a matter of implementing them on a wider scale. Solutions include carbon sequestration techniques, regenerative land management practices, and holistic herd management. We must shift our focus to emphasize the biological system as a whole. Rebuilding functional ecosystems from the ground up will restore them to their fullest potential, and this needs to be our primary focus.

While the principles of regenerative farming are really ancient knowledge, it's not widely discussed or implemented. There's only a small segment of the population that even understands this natural system, and the potential it has for radically transforming the way we feed the masses AND protect the environment at the same time. This segment is slowly growing, however. And, while you may not be able to do anything about how large-scale commercial farms are being run at the moment, you can make a difference for yourself, for your family, and your community that might have residual effects.

Buying organic, thereby avoiding any and all GE foods is, I believe, a crucial step. This includes buying grass-fed or pastured animal products, such as beef, chicken, milk, and eggs. Besides that, you can also grow your own organic vegetables. If you take advantage of the farm-fresh sustainability that's becoming more prevalent as people take control of what they're consuming, you'll realize many benefits. First, you'll know where the foods you and your family eat come from, ensure optimal nutrition, and protect the health of future generations. The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:

  • Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  • Eat Wild: With more than 1,400 pasture-based farms, Eatwild's Directory of Farms is one of the most comprehensive sources for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada.
  • Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  • Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  • FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

High-Fiber Diet Linked to Disease Prevention and Lower Mortality

By Dr. Mercola

I've been interested in the health benefits of fiber for a long time—so much so, my classmates nicknamed me "Dr. Fiber" when I was in medical school in the '70s. This was mostly stimulated by reviewing studies by Dr. Denis Brukitt, who has a lymphoma named after him. He passed away about 20 years ago.

I've since come to appreciate that the type of fiber in your diet, as well as your gut health, play a major role in harnessing fiber's health potential while avoiding its potential pitfalls.

High-Fiber Diet Reduces All-Cause Mortality

Mounting research suggests that a high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases. This includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. As discussed in the featured video, research also shows it can help heart patients live longer.

Studies have also linked a high-fiber diet to beneficial reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation—all of which can influence your mortality risk.

One recent meta-analysis1 evaluating the impact of a high-fiber diet on mortality pooled data from 17 different studies tracking nearly 1 million Europeans and Americans. As reported by Scientific American:2

"Yang's team divided participants into five groups based on their daily fiber intake. Those in the top fifth, who ate the greatest amount of fiber daily, were 16 percent less likely to die than those in the bottom fifth, who consumed the least amount of fiber.

In addition, eight studies showed a 10 percent drop in risk for any cause of death with each 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake."

Another recent study3,4 produced similar results. Here, every 10-gram increase of fiber intake was associated with a 15-percent lower risk of mortality, and those who ate the most fiber had a 25-percent reduced risk of dying from any cause within the next nine years, compared to those whose fiber intake was lacking.

Research5 published in 2013 also found that for every seven grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by seven percent. This equates to increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables by about two additional portions per day.

Why Cereal Grains May Be Counterproductive

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends getting 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. A more general recommendation is to make sure you get 20-30 grams of fiber per day. I believe about 32 grams per day is ideal.

Unfortunately, most people get only half that, or less—despite the fact that most people eat diets high in grains. Part of the problem is that your best source of dietary fiber comes from vegetables and most people simply aren't eating enough veggies...

The featured article6 cites a researcher who suggests that cereal grains may offer "the best risk reductions for colorectal and cardiovascular disease." I disagree with recommendations to boost your consumption of cereal grains, because this completely ignores the issue of glyphosate contamination in many modern grains.

For example, about 15 years ago, farmers began dousing non-organic wheat with glyphosate just before harvest—a process known as desiccation—which increases yield and kills rye grass.

As a result, most of the non-organic wheat supply is now heavily contaminated with glyphosate, which has been linked to celiac disease and other gut dysfunction. Needless to say, this is the exact converse of what you're trying to achieve by adding fiber to your diet... Cereal grains may have been a good source of fiber in the past, but not anymore.

Moreover, a high-grain diet tends to promote insulin and leptin resistance, and that, too, is counterproductive as it actually promotes many of the chronic diseases that healthy fiber can help reduce, most notably type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Besides, most whole grain products on the market are highly processed, which further deteriorates their value. Instead, focus on eating more vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The following whole foods, for example, contain high levels of soluble and insoluble fiber.

Psyllium seed husk, flax hemp, and chia seeds Berries Vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Root vegetables and tubers, including onions, sweet potatoes, and jicamaAlmondsPeas
Green beansCauliflowerBeans

Healthy Fiber Provides Fodder for Beneficial Gut Microbes

The benefits of fiber can in part be explained by its beneficial impact on the microorganisms in your gut. Soluble fibers, such as psyllium, are probiotics that help nourish beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria assist with digestion and absorption of your food, and play a significant role in your immune function. 

Opting for an organic version of psyllium will prevent exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers that are present in nearly all commercial psyllium products.

I also recommend choosing one that does not contain additives or sweeteners, as these tend to have a detrimental effect on your microbiome. Sugar, for example, feed potentially pathogenic microorganisms, which is the converse of what you're trying to achieve.

In recent years, it's become overwhelmingly clear that in order to be truly healthy, you need a healthy gut. For example, a recent article in The Atlantic7 addressed the links between your gut microbiome and your risk for rheumatoid arthritis, noting that:

"Several recent studies have found intriguing links between gut microbes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases in which the body's immune system goes awry and attacks its own tissue. A study8 published in 2013... found that people with rheumatoid arthritis were much more likely to have a bug called Prevotella copri in their intestines than people that did not have the disease. [A]nother study9... found that patients with psoriatic arthritis, another kind of autoimmune joint disease, had significantly lower levels of other types of intestinal bacteria."

Alterations of the human microbiome through inappropriate and unnatural diet changes appear to be part and parcel of rising disease rates. In essence, we've strayed too far from our natural diet, which promotes a healthy gut flora. A major culprit is food processing, which removes many of the vital nutrients. Add to that the use of agricultural chemicals such as glyphosate, and decimated soil nutrients secondary to industrial agriculture , and it should be clear that what we're eating today is very far indeed from what our ancestors ate even a two or three generations ago. As a result, our microbiome is changing, and it's changing for the worse.

Research Shows Bacteria Plays Role in Colon Cancer and Parkinson's

Researchers have even begun to look at the influence of gut bacteria in the formation of certain kinds of cancer, as well as neurological diseases such as Parkinson's. One such study10 found that 89 percent of cancerous tumors removed from the right side of the colon were covered in biofilm—a thick layer of densely packed colonies of bacteria. Interestingly, only 12 percent of tumors removed from the left side of the colon had biofilms on them.

"The presence of these biofilms may represent an increased likelihood of colon cancer and could offer a new way to predict a person's risk for the disease,' WebMD11 notes, adding: 'Like tooth plaque and slime on pond stones, these biofilms may coat the mucus layer of cells lining the colon, according to background information from the study.'

'There, the biofilms may cause inflammation and some noncancerous bowel diseases,' said Dr. Cynthia Sears, professor of medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health... The reasons for the difference between the right and left side of the colon are unknown... The risk of developing colon cancer may be five times higher in people with biofilms on the right side of the colon, compared to those with no biofilms..."

Other recent research12 sheds light on the connection between carb-rich diets and colon cancer. As it turns out, certain bacteria that thrive on sugar produce a chemical that activates the growth of tumor cells. There's a gene mutation that has been linked to one out of five cases on non-inherited colon cancer. This mutation prevents cells from repairing errors that arise during DNA replication.

This is known as "the mismatch DNA repair system," and it causes accelerated cell division. This research shows that carbohydrates and the bacteria that feed on them can speed up this dysfunctional process. Basically, carb-loving bacteria release a chemical that pushes colon cells that lack the ability to repair DNA errors to multiply in an uncontrollable manner, thereby producing tumors. As reported by Science News:13

"In country after country where people have switched to Western-style diets heavy in refined sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, the incidence of colorectal cancer has increased, says geneticist Scott Bultman of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the study. Until now, the underlying connection between food and colon cancer has been cloudy.

'This study gives a good mechanism for how diet is tied to colon cancer," Bultman says... If the mouse experiments mimic human cancers, then shunning high-carbohydrate, Western diets could allay or prevent the disease for many people,' says Bultman. Following a well-balanced diet, with fewer refined sugars and more fiber, is good for the microbiome and likely has an effect on cancer predisposition."

Moving on to research14 looking at the influence of bacteria in Parkinson's disease, here, those with Parkinson's disease have far less bacteria from the Prevotellaceae family than those who do not have the disease. What these bacteria actually do, and how they influence Parkinson's is still unknown however. Yet another family of bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae was linked to the severity of Parkinson's symptoms. Parkinson's patients with more severe balance issues and difficulty walking were found to have higher levels of these bacteria.

Your Environment, Especially Your Diet, Shapes Your Immune System

As you probably know, your immune system is the first line of defense against any and all illness, whether acute or chronic. A recent article in Science magazine15 discusses the role of the environment in shaping your immune system. In a study on twins, immunologist Mark Davis of Stanford University set out to determine the influence of genetics on immune system function. His paper,16 "Variation in the Human Immune System Is Largely Driven by Non-Heritable Influences," reveals the nature of his findings. 

As reported by Science:

"After recruiting 210 identical and fraternal twins between 8 and 82 years old, Davis and colleagues took blood samples and measured more than 200 parameters of their immune systems. For example, they measured the numbers of 95 kinds of immune cells and 51 kinds of proteins [and found] that identical twins' immune systems were too different for the variation to boil down to genetics.

Indeed, environment overshadowed inheritance in three-quarters of the measurements, and half showed no measurable genetic influence. Moreover, younger twins were more similar than were older twins, evidence that as the twins aged and were exposed to different environments, their immune systems diverged over time."

Environmental Differences Also Affect Your Vaccine Response

Interestingly, they also evaluated whether or not genetics might influence the twin's responses to flu vaccines. As I've discussed on many occasions, both genetic and epigenetic or environmental factors can predispose a child to vaccine damage—and an unhealthy microbiome appears to be a particularly potent risk factor. Here, they discovered that "the variation in responses was almost entirely the result of environmental differences."

What this means, in practical terms, is that vaccine safety cannot be ascertained by, say, a genetic test. At present, the only indication I know of is testing to check your baby's gut flora, as described in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's GAPS book. As Dr. Campbell explains, establishment of normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in appropriate maturation of your baby's immune system. Hence, babies who develop abnormal gut flora are left with compromised immune systems.

According to Dr. Campbell, vaccinations were developed for children with perfectly healthy immune systems. GAPS children, therefore, are NOT suitable to be vaccinated with the standard vaccination protocol. Her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome contains an entire chapter outlining what healthcare professionals need to do to improve the vaccination strategy, because the standard vaccination protocol is bound to damage GAPS babies.

For a Health Boost, Increase Your Fiber

While I'm no longer known as Dr. Fiber, I still hold firm to my belief in the benefits of dietary fiber as long as most of it is coming from high-quality, preferably organic, vegetables. Fiber undoubtedly contributes to overall good health and longevity, and can have a positive influence on your disease risk by feeding and promoting the proliferation of healthy gut bacteria. Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, can serve as a powerful bowel movement normalizer. If you are constipated it will soften your stools and if you have loose stools it will form them better.

I believe it is best to not rely on grain-based fiber sources, as this threatens your health in too many ways, from raising your insulin and leptin levels, to increasing your risk of glyphosate exposure. Processed grains are particularly harmful, and are second only to refined sugar and fructose in terms of promoting chronic disease. If there's one thing you do NOT need, it's sugar—from any source.

Instead, get your fiber from fresh locally grown organic vegetables, nuts, and seeds. If you still fall short of the recommended 30-32 grams per day (20 grams being a bare minimum), supplementing with organic psyllium husk can help bring you closer to this ideal amount. Just make sure that the psyllium is organic. Avoid non-organic psyllium like the plague as it is loaded with pesticides.

Monday, January 26, 2015

7 Foods That Will Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year

By Dr. Mercola

When you take a trip to your local grocery store, it’s easy to take the displays of fresh produce for granted – along with the fact that out-of-season produce is available virtually year-round. Pineapples in the Midwest in the middle of winter? Green beans in February?

No problem, if you live near a supermarket. Yet, there’s something to be said for choosing your produce seasonally. That is, focusing your meals around the foods that are naturally at their peak of ripeness.

Eating Seasonally Tastes Good and Is Good for You

According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, seasonal eating helps with digestion, because it favors easier-to-digest foods in the winter when your body is hard at work burning energy to keep you warm (and therefore theoretically has less energy to devote to digestion).

Seasonal produce will be fresher, too, which means its nutrients won’t have time to degrade like the same food left to sit in cold storage for days or weeks. One study found that in-season broccoli (fall) contained nearly twice as much vitamin C as out-of-season (spring) broccoli.1

The seasonality of the broccoli had an even bigger impact on vitamin C levels than whether it was organically or conventionally grown. When you eat seasonally, you’re also supporting the environment and your local community, because to get in-season foods you often have to shop locally.

In 2010, thousands of chefs voted cooking with seasonal locally grown produce as the top food trend … but there’s nothing “trendy” about it. People have been eating seasonally since the beginning. As the Cleveland Clinic put it:2

“Eating foods when nature produces them is what people the world over have done naturally through most of history, before mega-supermarkets dotted the landscape and processed foods became ubiquitous.

Seasonal eating is also a cornerstone of several ancient and holistic medical traditions, which view it as integral to good health and emotional balance.”

7 Foods That Taste Best in Winter

Perhaps best of all, seasonal produce will be at its peak in flavor, too, even if it’s in the middle of winter. Many winter-season vegetables taste better after a frost. This is because as temperatures drop, the cold causes the plants to break down energy stores into sugar, leading to a sweeter, tastier flavor.3

With that in mind, the seven foods that follow taste best in the winter, making them ideal to add to your seasonal shopping list.

1. Kale

One cup of kale contains just around 30 calories but will provide you with seven times the daily recommended amount of vitamin K1, twice the amount of vitamin A and a day's worth of vitamin C, plus antioxidants, minerals, and much more.

This leafy green also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases – plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, and an impressive number of beneficial flavonoids.

Kale has a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio – an exceptionally high amount of protein for any vegetable, and one reason why it has recently been acclaimed as the “new beef.

Surprisingly, like meat, kale contains all nine essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within your body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine – plus, nine other non-essential ones for a total of 18.

Kale’s sometimes-bitter flavor becomes sweeter in winter and, impressively, kale can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.4

2. Brussels Sprouts

Like kale, Brussels sprouts become sweeter in winter, so if you think you don’t like them, try them again now. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains just 56 calories but is packed with more than 240 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for vitamin K1, and nearly 130 percent of the RDA for vitamin C.

Plus, Brussels sprouts are a good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins. They even contain protein. But not only do Brussels sprouts contain well-known antioxidants like vitamin C…

They also contain others that are much less known – but equally as important, like kaempferol, isorhamnetin, caffeic, and ferulic acids, and the relatively rare sulfur-containing compound called D3T (3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione).

This means that when you eat Brussels sprouts, you’re helping your body to ward off chronic oxidative stress, which is a risk factor for many types of cancer and other chronic diseases.

You can steam Brussels sprouts and toss them with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, or butter. You can roast them and quarter them, then toss them like a salad with onions, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

If your Brussels sprouts become overly “smelly,” mushy, or turn a muted green, they’re probably overcooked. Ideally, they should be bright green with a slightly crisp texture and pleasant, nutty/sweet flavor, even after they’re cooked.

3. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip,” which is actually a spot-on way to describe this vegetable’s flavor. This is a great plant to add to your winter garden, as it thrives in cool weather. When planted several weeks before a frost, you can expect a harvest in just a few weeks.5

This root vegetable is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, along with such nutrition superstars as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

Glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds found in kohlrabi, appear to have anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and antibacterial benefits.

Kohlrabi can be cooked as you would carrots or turnips, but it can also be eaten raw (and this may be the best way of all).  Kantha Shelke, a food scientist at Corvus Blue LLC and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), told TIME:6

“Kohlrabi’s chemopreventive effects makes it particularly healthy … Kohlrabi contains isothiocyanates which are effective against cancer. The chemopreventive compounds are more bioavailable from fresh–about three times as much as from cooked–kohlrabi.

 The higher bioavailability is associated with a higher chemopreventive activity, which might be the reason why raw kohlrabi is preferentially consumed by health-conscious people.”

4. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens have a peppery flavor that’s better after a frost, and they make a perfect warming food on a cold winter day. Notably, they are a phenomenal source of vitamin K1 (providing 922 percent of the recommended daily value in just one cup) and vitamin A (96 percent of the recommended daily value).

Mustard greens are another standout member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, with research showing they rank second only to Brussels sprouts in terms of the cancer-fighting glucosinolates they contain.  

If you’re trying to balance out your cholesterol levels, mustard greens may help, as they bind to bile acids in your digestive tract. According to the George Mateljan Foundation:7

When bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body. Since bile acids are made from cholesterol, the net impact of this bile acid binding is a lowering of the body's cholesterol level. It's worth noting that steamed mustard greens (and all steamed forms of the cruciferous vegetables) show much greater bile acid binding ability than raw mustard greens.”

5. Parsnips

Parsnips are root vegetables that resemble carrots but are whitish in color and have a sweet, nutty flavor. Their flavor is best after a hard frost. Parsnips are rich in nutrients like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C. Eating foods rich in potassium is important because this nutrient helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium. An imbalance in your sodium-potassium ratio can lead to high blood pressure and may also contribute to a number of other diseases, including heart disease and stroke.

6. Collard Greens

Collard greens outshined even mustard greens in their ability to bind to bile acids in your digestive tract, which may help support healthy cholesterol levels.8 Plus, like mustard greens, they’re rich in vitamins K1 and A, along with cancer-fighting glucosinolates that support healthy detoxification and fight inflammation. Collard greens also contain a wealth of antioxidants, including not only vitamins C and A but also vitamin E, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol. This will help your body to ward of chronic oxidative stress, which may contribute to chronic disease and premature aging. Like the other winter vegetables mentioned, collard greens become sweeter after a frost.

7. Cabbage

Some types of cabbage can be grown in temperatures as low as 26 degrees F.9 What is cabbage good for? Cabbage contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cabbage also contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check.

Among them are anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol that’s particularly plentiful in red cabbage, although all types of cabbage contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Cabbage also contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1, and vitamin B5. B vitamins are not only important for energy, they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

Starting a Winter Garden

Many people assume that the best time to start a garden is in early spring. Depending on where you live, however, you can garden virtually year-round. Even in the northernmost areas of the US, a wide variety of vegetables can be grown during the winter, especially with the assistance of a few simple temperature-shielding strategies, such as cold frames, cloches and row covers. For your winter garden, your most important date to know is your "first frost" date. You'll want to plant your seeds early enough that the plants will be established before getting subjected to a light freeze. So your first step is to check your hardiness zone to see when your first frost is expected.

Most winter veggies are planted in mid to late summer so they are strong and ready for when the temperatures drop, and then ripe for harvest in winter or early spring. Timing this depends on how long each plant takes to reach maturity. And, remember, some vegetables, such as those listed above, develop a better flavor after a frost, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. The following tables list the best vegetables for a winter garden and how long it takes each to mature, on average.

There are certain varieties of each veggie that are more suitable for cooler temperatures, and the seed packet often gives you this information. If not, make use of the staff's expertise at your local nursery—they usually know what varieties perform best in your area and are usually eager to help. With a bit of planning, next winter you can be feasting on parsnips, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and more, all grown right in your own backyard.

90 Days to Maturity

Beets CarrotsParsnips Rutabagas
Brussels sprouts Globe onions Garlic Cabbage
BroccoliCauliflower Fava Beans  

60 Days to Maturity

Early carrots Leeks Turnips Kohlrabi
Early cabbage Collard greens Swiss chard Peas
Kale     

30 Days to Maturity

Chives Radishes Leaf lettuceSpinach

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Herbed Chicken Salad Recipe

By Dr. Mercola

Chicken salad is mentioned in US cookbooks dating back to the early 1800s,1 but it’s likely this traditional dish came to be long before that. It’s said the Chinese were actually the first to mix together chicken with oil and spices, creating the first variation of Asian chicken salad.

American chicken salad, at its most basic level, is a mixture of chicken and mayonnaise (or a similar “binder”) along with various additions like celery and onions. It was reportedly first served in America at a Rhode Island meat market called Town Meats in 1863. The owner mixed leftover chicken with mayonnaise, tarragon and grapes and customers loved it.2

If you’re looking for a filling and healthy lunch or dinner, try the herbed chicken salad recipe below,3 and be sure to keep reading for tips on how to make classic chicken salad healthier than ever.

Healthy Herbed Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/4 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup fresh dill sprigs

2 oil-packed anchovies, drained

1 small garlic clove

1⁄3 cup homemade mayonnaise (based on avocado or olive oil and egg, see below)

1⁄3 cup raw sour cream

2 Tbs. lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. cooked organic, free-range chicken, shredded

2 jarred roasted red peppers, well-drained and chopped (or substitute fresh roasted peppers)

3 inner celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced

8 cups mixed salad greens

1/2 lb. tomatoes, chopped

Procedure:
  1. Make the herbed mayonnaise: In a food processor, pulse the herbs, anchovies, and garlic until coarsely chopped. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon juice and process until smooth. Season to taste with the pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the herbed mayonnaise with the chicken, peppers, and celery. Serve on the salad greens and garnish with the tomatoes.

The Quality of Your Chicken Matters


One factor that will make or break the quality of your chicken salad is, not surprisingly, the chicken. Be prepared that if you watch the video above – a clip from Food, Inc. that shows the reality of industrial chicken farms or CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) – you may lose your appetite.

You’ll see chickens with oversized breasts, which distort their body proportions so badly they can barely walk. You’ll see chickens that are diseased and dying (or already dead), all packed into a huge dark pen. This is inhumane, clearly, but it’s also unhealthy – grossly so.

Nearly all (99 percent) of American chickens come from CAFOs like the one in the video above (or worse). These animals are typically fed genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans, which is a far cry from their natural diet of seeds, green plants, insects and worms.

Byproducts of processing, such as chicken feathers and other animal parts, can also be added to the feed. This unnatural diet further exacerbates disease promulgation.

To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding, lack of vitamin D (as CAFO chickens may never see the light of day), and an unnatural diet, the animals are routinely fed antibiotics.

Those antibiotics pose a direct threat to human health, and contaminate the environment when they run off into lakes, rivers, aquifers, and drinking water. According to a landmark "Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report" published by the CDC, at least 2 million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections.4

According to a University of Florida report that reviewed data on the 14 pathogens that cause 95 percent of total cases of food-borne illness, poultry was found to cause more food-borne disease than any other food, amounting to $2.4 billion in costs of illness.5

The primary bacteria to blame were Campylobacter, followed by Salmonella.  Campylobacter bacteria are found on chicken carcasses in slaughterhouses and in commercial poultry products – including on the outside of poultry packaging – where they can easily infect you, your children or even your pets.

This Is How Chicken Is Supposed to Be Raised...


I strongly encourage you to avoid CAFO chicken and instead choose food sourced from local farms that are raising chickens the right way. The chickens should be allowed outside and they should be able to roam and eat insects and other natural foods. Please watch my video above with farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm to see how this looks in the real world.

Fortunately, finding high-quality pastured chickens (and organic eggs) is relatively easy, as virtually every rural area has small farmers with chickens. If you live in an urban area, visiting the local health food stores and farmers' markets are typically the quickest route to finding high-quality local chicken sources. If you’re buying chicken from a typical grocery store, be aware that labels can be misleading. Look for organic “pasture raised” poultry – and follow up with the producer to find out exactly how much time the chickens spend on pasture.

How to Make Homemade Mayonnaise

The other factor that can make or break the health value of your chicken salad is the mayonnaise. Most prepared mayos are made with primarily GE soybean oil, one of the most harmful oils you can eat. This type of oil, whether partially hydrogenated, organic, or made from newer soybean varieties modified in such a way as to not require hydrogenation, are highly processed and wreak chaos in your body at the cellular level, paving the way for problems ranging from obesity and diabetes to reproductive disorders and heart disease.

The majority of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered and, as a result, are saturated with dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, which has been linked to a growing list of serious health problems. Even though you may not consider mayonnaise a sweet product, most commercial varieties also contain high fructose corn syrup or other forms of fructose, which adds to the toxic load on your liver.

If you think you can't live without your mayo, consider using an organic variety made with olive oil or grapeseed oil. Many people also enjoy mashed avocado in place of mayonnaise, or you can simply make your own homemade mayo. Mayonnaise is easy to make in a blender and, when made with healthy oils and fresh, organic eggs, is actually good for you. If you make your own, it won't last as long but it will taste much better, and you just make smaller batches.

Good mayo requires only a few basic ingredients: olive oil, organic egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, and a little unprocessed salt. Whip the ingredients together (adjust the amounts to your taste) and you have a spread that’s not only good for you, but tastes so delicious you won’t ever want to go back to the store-bought version.

Poached or Roasted? What’s the Best Way to Prepare Chicken for Chicken Salad?

If you’re a seasoned cook or foodie, you may be familiar with the debate over poached or roasted meat for chicken salad. The former, poached, yields a moist, smooth chicken salad while the latter, roasted, adds flavor and more texture. There’s no “right” answer, and you might end up using whatever type you have on hand. Making chicken salad is an excellent way to use up leftover roast chicken, and if you’re in a pinch some health food stores have organic rotisserie chicken already cooked. 

Perhaps the best way to prepare the chicken for your chicken salad, however, is to poach the meat in the process of making a healthy bone broth using a whole chicken. You’ll know the meat is ready when it starts to separate from the bone. Simply remove the chicken for your chicken salad and continue simmering the broth (which you can later eat alone or make into a chicken soup).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Research Proves Causation—Sugar Consumption Increases Risk for Chronic Disease

By Dr. Mercola

What is the proper role of sugar in our society? It used to be a condiment; now it’s a diet staple. Mounting evidence clearly shows that refined sugar is a primary factor causing not just obesity, but also chronic disease.

According to Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF), sugar acts as a chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin (poison) when consumed in excess.

You might recognize Dr. Lustig from one of the most popular YouTube videos on sugar that has over 5 million views. You might also have seen him on 60 Minutes, which ran a report on the dangers of sugar in 2012.

You might also have seen him sparring with Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher. Or you might know him from his book, Fat Chance.

Never before have humans consumed as much sugar as we do today, and the ramifications of this dietary change are quite clear. Fructose, found in most processed foods, is by far the worst form of sugar, causing the greatest amount of harm in the shortest amount of time.

For example, in one clinical trial, test subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease in just two weeks.

Chronic Disease Has Risen in Lockstep with Sugar Consumption

Historically, sugar was used as a condiment. As early as 1200 BC, India developed a process to extract cane juice, called khanda, which is where we got the word “candy” from.

"It was for nobility and it was hard to come by, until about year 1700, when the pot still allowed for mass production of refined sugar. It was still extraordinarily expensive until the middle of 18th -19th century," Dr. Lustig says.

"At that point, we started seeing it appearing in various venues. We started seeing the growth of American sugar industry in Louisiana, Texas, and Hawaii. That's when we started seeing chronic metabolic disease.

In fact, the very first demonstration of an increase in chronic metabolic disease was in 1924, when Hayden Emerson, the commissioner of health of New York City, noticed a seven-fold increase in diabetes rate in the [city’s] population.

Then in 1931, Dr. Paul Dudley White (cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital) called attention to the fact that we had an epidemic of heart disease.

Finally, in 1988, we learned about the advent of adolescent type 2 diabetes. These are the three seminal hallmarks of chronic metabolic disease pervading our population. It goes up in lockstep with our increase in per capita sugar consumption.”

The bottom line is that sugar used to be something we added to coffee and tea. We had full control over the amount we ate. Today, we consume about 20 times more sugar than our ancestors did, and we have very little control over the amount since it’s become a diet staple.

It’s now found in virtually every processed food you can think of. On average, sugar makes up 15 percent of total calories consumed (about 19.5 teaspoons per day), and your liver, which processes sugar, simply cannot handle that kind of load. When you overload your liver in this way, you inevitably end up with chronic metabolic disease.

"Basically, sugar is metabolized virtually identically to that of alcohol, and we are now seeing diseases in children that we never saw before, and they are alcohol-related diseases, like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Kids don’t drink alcohol but they certainly consume sugar, and that’s the point,” Dr. Lustig says. “Sugar is the alcohol of the child. And we are all overdosed.

We have gone beyond our limits and we are now evidencing a massive increase in chronic metabolic disease that is chewing through the health care resources of every developed and developing country on the planet, and this is unsustainable."

Insulin Resistance—A Hallmark of Metabolic Syndrome

According to Dr. Lustig, whatever organ becomes insulin resistant ends up manifesting its own chronic metabolic disease. For example, when you have insulin resistance of the liver, you end up with type 2 diabetes.

When you have insulin resistance of the brain, you end up with Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin resistance of the kidney leads to chronic renal disease, and so forth. All of these diseases are insulin resistant states. The question is what causes the insulin resistance in the first place?

"[W]e have some new data that we are very excited about, which demonstrate that if you overload the mitochondria, the little energy-burning factories within cells, in any given organ, you'll end up manifesting various forms of chronic metabolic disease," Dr. Lustig says.

“The chemical that overloads the mitochondria best is trans-fats. But the chemical that overloads the mitochondria next best is sugar. Trans fats and sugar pretty much characterize the processed food diet.”

In November 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed trans fats from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. This is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of reverting back to healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, lard, and butter, trans fats have been replaced with other non-saturated vegetable oils, that when heated, produce toxic aldehydes which cause cellular damage.  

We may not realize the full ramifications of this switch until a decade or two down the line. Sugar, on the other hand, is going to be even more difficult to dislodge from the food system.

According to SugarScience.org, added sugars hide in 74 percent of processed foods under more than 60 different names.1 And yet, getting rid of the excess sugar in processed food is exactly what needs to be done.

"As long as sugar is on that (GRAS) list, the food industry has license to use as much as it wants to in any given food stuff. So, sugar has become the biggest problem in our diet since the advent of trans fats," Dr. Lustig says. "Granted, there are many problems with processed food. There's too much of five things and too little of three things.

There's too much trans fats; too much omega-6 fatty acids (which are pro-inflammatory); too much branched-chain amino acids (which also overload your liver and cause chronic metabolic disease)... too much alcohol, and too much sugar.

On the too-little side, there's too little fiber, too few micronutrients, and too little omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. Processed food has a zillion things wrong with it. Unfortunately, processed food is what we subsidize. Processed food is what we expect people to consume because of 1) expense and 2) shelf life. That’s making a fortune for the food industry, but it’s killing us.”

Is There a Safe Threshold for Sugar?

According to Dr. Lustig, trans fats are “without question consumable poison.” But is sugar as bad or worse than trans fat? Dr. Lustig says no, it’s not worse, because while there is no threshold at which trans fats are safe, there may be a threshold below which sugar will not cause a problem. While there are individual differences, as a general rule the safety threshold for sugar appears to be around six to nine teaspoons (25-38 grams) of added sugar per day.

“That’s what the data suggest, because your liver does have the capacity to metabolize fructose, as long as the mitochondria don’t get overwhelmed,” Dr. Lustig says. “So as long as you keep it below the threshold, above which toxicity would occur, I think that, probably, sugar is okay.”

Whether or not you're insulin resistant will play a role, as insulin resistance generates hyperinsulinemia. Hyperinsulinemia means that there's more insulin at the fat cell, which means you'll shunt more energy into those fat cells because that's what insulin does. Insulin resistance is clearly associated with weight gain. But while many believe that insulin resistance is the result of weight gain, recent data argues against that notion, Dr. Lustig says. Instead, the data shows that insulin is what drives the weight gain.

When your liver turns excess sugar into liver fat and becomes insulin resistant, that generates hyperinsulinemia, and hyperinsulinemia drives energy storage into body fat.

Currently, about two-thirds of the American population is overweight. About one-quarter to one-third is diabetic or prediabetic, and another quarter of the population is hypertensive. Many also have high serum triglycerides.  Insulin resistance is a component of all of these health issues. According to Dr. Lustig, the data shows that at least 50 percent of Americans have some form of insulin resistance—whether you’re overweight or not—and that is what’s driving our seemingly out-of-control disease statistics.

Metabolic Disease in America

As Dr. Lustig notes, if you were to do a Venn diagram2,3 of the United States population, you'd have 240 million adults in that diagram, divided into two circles. One circle would be about twice as big as the other: the obese population forming a smaller circle of about 30 percent, and the non-obese population forming a larger circle of about 70 percent. Eighty percent (57 million people) of the obese population is metabolically ill. They have insulin resistance that manifests itself in a myriad of ways, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.

"The standard mantra is, 'If they would just diet and exercise, they wouldn't be obese and we could solve this problem,'" Dr. Lustig says. "This is patently untrue. It is true that 80 percent of the obese population is metabolically ill. But that means that 20 percent of the obese population is not. They're metabolically healthy. They are called metabolically healthy obese. They will live a completely normal life, die at a completely normal age, and not cost the taxpayer a dime. They are just fat. They're not contributing to our runaway medical train, as it were."

Conversely, it turns out that of the 70 percent that are of normal weight (168 million people), 40 percent of them (67 million people) have insulin resistance on lab testing, and they manifest aspects of the metabolic syndrome as well. They too get type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia. The prevalence of metabolic disease among normal weight people is not as great as among obese people—40 percent versus 80 percent—but they do get ill and there are far more people in this group.

“When you do the math, there are more thin sick people than there are fat sick people,” Dr. Lustig says.  “The thin sick people are actually costing more, and when you do the math on the two together, the sick population is 124 million—that’s more than half of the US adult population. It turns out the thin sick people are costing us more...

And you can't attribute this to gluttony and sloth or diet and [lack of] exercise, because they're normal weight. If it's not about behavior, then there's only one other option: it must be about exposure. This is an exposure that obese people are exposed to and it's an exposure that even normal weight people are exposed to. That is called the Western diet. The Western diet is replete with sugar. Sugar is mechanistically the thing that drives this insulin resistance."

How Do You Resolve Insulin Resistance?

The answer can be summarized in two words: real food. According to Dr. Lustig, the overwhelming majority, 60-70 percent of the patients seen in his clinic are there as a result of their processed food diet.

"What we have to do is we have to move them back [to real food], and what we do is we explain what real food is. A lot of kids don't even know what real food is. A lot of kids think that fruit flavored yogurt is real food; it is not. We explain that yogurt is sour milk [it's not sweet]... So if you want yogurt, have plain yogurt and throw whole fruit in, just like what Europeans do. That's called real food."

Intermittent fasting may be another way to address insulin resistance. Although Dr. Lustig doesn’t think most people have to go this far, he believes it can work for some. When you fast, your liver burns off the available liver fat. So you’re temporarily depleting your liver fat stores, restoring metabolic stability to your liver and improving hepatic insulin sensitivity. That said, he believes that the long-term answer for most people lies simply in eating real food.

"I think you can do this rationally, by eating properly all the way through the week rather than having to do intermittent fasting. I think, ultimately, the goal is get the liver fat down. And since the cause of the liver fat is dietary sugar, via the process of De novo lipogenesis... once you get rid of the sugar, the liver fat will go down, and we have data that supports that, both in adults and in children... I think, ultimately, what you have to do is get the liver fat down. Will intermittent fasting do that? Yes, it will. But will eating properly do that too? It does it even better," he says.

"What we tell people are these very simple rules, all of which are evidence-based: get rid of every sugared beverage in the house. Then, eat your carbohydrate with fiber. Whole food is okay because the fiber mitigates the negative effects of the fructose on hepatic metabolism, because it reduces the rate of absorption... We don't tell people they can't eat sugar. But they have to eat sugar in a form that nature provided it, and it's called whole fruit."

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise is also an important component. Interestingly, Dr. Lustig notes that exercise works not by promoting weight loss; rather its benefits are related to the fact that exercise promotes muscle gain. It may be a fine distinction, but one worth noting nonetheless. There is a transcription factor known as Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α), which is involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. When you turn up PGC-1α, you make more mitochondria. Increasing your sympathetic muscle tone. This is what exercise does, it turns on PGC-1α. So, in short, exercise increases muscle mass, which increases mitochondria, and this in turn improves insulin sensitivity.

"Every doctor who tells their patient, 'Well, if you'd exercise, you'd lose weight.' Given what we know now, this statement is tantamount to malpractice, because it isn’t true. There are no studies that show [exercise leads to weight loss]. Yet, exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself and we should be promoting it, but we have to explain to patients what the outcome variable they should be looking at is. And the outcome variable is belt size [waist size], because they will reduce their visceral fat. They will lose inches, not pounds. And losing inches means improved metabolic health," Dr. Lustig explains.

Research Proves Causation—Sugar Definitely Increases Risk for Disease

At present, there are 15 agencies and 51 separate agreements controlling food regulatory activities in the US, and according to Dr. Lustig, “no one knows what the other hand is doing, and the food industry takes complete advantage of this.” Dr. Lustig and many others are pushing for a national food policy. He also insists that “it’s time for us to take food back as a mode of therapy.” And if food is medicine, doctors really must be taught a thing or two about nutrition...

“We have the data. We don’t have correlation anymore. Now, we have causation. We have causation for sugar and obesity (although sugar is not the only cause). We have causation for sugar and diabetes, for heart disease, and for fatty liver disease... We now have causation. It’s time to do something about it.”

For example, a paper by Yang, et al, published in JAMA Internal Medicine last year looked at consumption of added sugar over two decades, as a percentage of total calories, concluding that it significantly contributed to cardiovascular deaths. People who consumed 30 percent of their daily calories as added sugar (like many teenagers are) had a four-fold greater risk of dying from heart disease.

"If you think we got a problem now, wait until our teenagers hit heart disease age; things are really going to be even worse shortly," he notes. "Food should confer wellness, not illness, and it used to. But then, the food industry got involved. And now it confers illness, not wellness. We have to take back our food."

To counter the propaganda provided by profit-driven industry interests, dozens of scientists at three American universities—including Dr. Lustig—have created a new educational website called SugarScience.org,4 aimed at making independent research available to the public. To learn more about what the science really says about sugar, I highly recommend browsing through the site.

Documentary “Shots in the Dark” Delves into Catastrophic Vaccine Reactions

By Dr. Mercola

As a result of today's skyrocketing rates of chronic disease and disability among children, including autism, some scientists are questioning the safety of large-scale vaccination programs.

In spite of serious adverse effects among some particularly vulnerable people—many of whom are children—public health officials and many doctors giving vaccines continue to bury their heads in the sand, refusing to even acknowledge there's a problem.

The featured documentary, "Shots in the Dark: Silence on Vaccine," takes a hard look at vaccine toxicity and its impact on families. Although released in 2011, the concerns raised are still relevant today.

Current research casts a shadow of doubt about vaccines being as safe as people have been led to believe. Several concerned scientists and many vaccine safety critics are sounding the alarm in hopes of gaining the attention of a public that tends to believe, without question, what doctors and the media say—that vaccines are unquestionably safe for everyone.

Certainly the original intention behind mass vaccination programs was a noble one—to reduce the spread of dangerous infections and increase our children's odds of living long, healthy lives.

However, cases of severe, debilitating vaccine-triggered illnesses are becoming less of a rarity and lead to the logical conclusion that we may be trading artificial, temporary vaccine acquired immunity for life-long illness and disability.

Vaccine Safety Studies Severely Outdated – By Almost 100 Years!

There is increasing evidence that vaccines cause children to suffer more adverse reactions than any other pharmaceutical product.

Some of the recent research points to vaccines playing a key role in cases of autism, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome and other major illnesses, particularly among individuals who are predisposed to react adversely to vaccine components.

Vaccines contain a variety of toxic compounds, including thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) and aluminum hydroxide, the most commonly used adjuvant which may be even more dangerous than mercury.

Vaccines are a $30 billion per year industry. Decades ago there used to be dozens of vaccine manufacturers, but today just five big drug corporations dominate the lucrative world vaccine market: Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline.

Vaccine manufacturers, government health officials, medical trade associations and the majority of physicians reject outright any suggestion of a cause-and-effect relationship between vaccines and serious illness, relying on poorly designed studies, some dating back to the late 1920s.

With the scientific advancements over the past century, those studies are seriously dated. For example, in the 1920s we had no idea that certain compounds interact to produce toxic and mutating effects on human DNA.

There is no way to predict how vaccines may be causing new mutations and damaging you or your child's DNA because it simply hasn't been studied. There is much we didn't know then about how the brain and immune systems develop and function, and much we still don't know.

Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1 recommends 69 doses of 16 vaccines for your child, starting on his or her day of birth and continuing through age 18—including 49 doses before the age of six. This is more than double the number of vaccines prescribed 30 years ago.

Such a regimen typically manipulates and deals a heavy blow to your child's developing immune system, raising his or her risk for development of brain dysfunction and autoimmune disorders.

Vaccine Adjuvants Linked to Dangerous Gene Mutations

The official line is that vaccines don't cause a type of brain and immune dysfunction that is labeled by doctors as "autism" or "autism spectrum disorder." However, rates of autism, along with many other chronic immunological and neurological diseases have exploded over exactly the same time period that our infants and children have been hit with increasing numbers of vaccines.

Autism rates are approximately 200 times higher than they were 30 years ago. In 1985, autism affected one child in 10,000 in America. In 2014, it was one in 50. Senior MIT Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff estimates that, based on current projections, half of all children will have autism by the year 2025! 2

Vaccine advocates claim that autism is a "genetic disease," but that's an outdated model. Emerging evidence suggests that autism is actually an epigenetic disease—meaning, autism is triggered by de novo mutations that change a child's genes.

But what's causing these mutations and DNA changes? They are likely caused by a number of coexisting factors, related to the toxic nature of our modern world. Environmental chemicals and other toxins can turn genes on that would ordinarily be dormant, and turn genes off that would normally protect you.

For example, some researchers have correlated elevated autism rates with the introduction of vaccines that use human fetal cell lines and retroviral contaminants. There is also scientific evidence that the mercury preservatives and aluminum adjuvants in vaccines are creating health problems.

Scientist Finds Direct Evidence of Mercury Overload in Autistic Children

Human exposures to mercury and aluminum have increased dramatically over the past 30 years. The human body isn't equipped to break down and eliminate these heavy metals, so they tend to accumulate in tissues over time. It's been a challenging task for scientists to tease out exactly what effect this increased mercury load has on long term health.

For example, researchers have found that some people have a more difficult time excreting mercury from the body than others potentially due to genetic or other biological differences. Accumulation of mercury in the human body can have devastating effects on health.

Dr. Robert Nataf, Director of the Philippe Auguste Laboratory in Paris, France, was tasked with exploring the biology of children diagnosed with autism. He found direct evidence of mercury toxicity in the children, who had elevated porphyrin levels. Porphyrins are essential compounds that help you fight toxins, and he found porphyrins specific to mercury elevated in autistic children, which suggests mercury overload.

Prior studies have shown that when a person has mercury poisoning, the body's cells cannot build the intercellular transport network (microtubules) necessary to get substances made by the cell to where they are needed. The result of this blockage can be chronic illness. In the documentary, Dr. Nataf uses this metaphor: "Mercury is like a highway accident. The result is a weakening of the cell's functioning. When a cell weakens, it starts making mistakes, creating malformations."

Aluminum Adjuvants May Cause Your Body to Attack Itself

Total Video Length: 41:58

Download Interview Transcript

In the video above, Dr. David Ayoub discusses how the aluminum in vaccines may be even more dangerous than mercury. Aluminum is to your brain and central nervous system as cigarette smoke is to your lungs, producing tremendous oxidative stress. When you review the signs and symptoms of aluminum toxicity, they are quite similar to the symptoms of autism, ADHD, Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases.

Aluminum hydroxide is the oldest and most commonly used vaccine adjuvant and is considered "safe," in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. An adjuvant's role is to hyper-stimulate the immune system to mount a strong antibody response to the lab altered virus or bacteria introduced into the body by a vaccine. It was once thought that the body eliminated aluminum hydroxide within a few days of an aluminum containing vaccine being injected into it, but scientists now know this isn't necessarily true.  For genetic or biological reasons that we don't yet understand, some people appear predisposed to poor aluminum detoxification, so it accumulates in their tissues and leads to myalgias, fatigue, cognitive deficiencies and other health problems.

Although somewhat rare, another illness that can result from injected aluminum hydroxide is macrophagic myofasciitis3 (MMF), marked by disabling pain in your muscles, skin and fascia. Muscle biopsies of those with MMF show dark fibrous structures in the cytoplasm of their macrophages, proven to be aluminum hydroxide. The macrophages in their muscle tissue form masses called granulomas, and the resulting inflammation causes widespread pain throughout their bodies.

The aluminum vaccine adjuvant is doing what it was designed to do, telling the immune system to mount a strong response, but when aluminum is lodged in your muscle, your body can attack itself and elicit a classic autoimmune reaction. Aluminum can travel around your body easily, unimpeded, piggybacking on your iron transport system. It crosses biological barriers that normally keep other types of toxins out, such as your blood-brain barrier. Over time, aluminum can accumulate in your brain and cause brain inflammation. Aluminum toxicity may be contributing to the Alzheimer's epidemic, as well as other neurological and immune disorders commonly seen today.

Vaccines May Contain Six Times More Aluminum Than Labels Say

If you go by the aluminum content on vaccine labels, the amount kids are getting is excessive, but if you add in the aluminum NOT listed on the labels—"accidental exposure" due to contamination—it's a much more serious problem. Dr. Ayoub cites one study that found five to six times more aluminum in vaccines than what was actually listed on the labels. Vaccines are not the only source of aluminum exposure—it's present in the air, water, food, beverages, cosmetics, anti-perspirants and other consumer products. Not surprisingly, as children's aluminum burden has increased, so has the prevalence of childhood neurological disorders.

Can Vaccines Cause Permanent Brain Damage?

Although there are a number of biological mechanisms that have been implicated in facilitating vaccine-induced brain inflammation and immune dysfunction, clues about the effects of heavy metal toxicity on your brain can be found in the relatively new field of neuroimmunology. The brain's immune system is comprised of cells called microglia, which function similarly to the macrophages found in other parts of the body. You have as many microglia in your brain as neurons—they cover nearly all of your brain tissue, and they are mobile, moving about in order to identify and destroy foreign particles that pose a threat to your neurons.

Playing a key role in your brain's immune response, microglia produce a number of inflammatory molecules. This inflammatory response is a two-edged sword. If inflammation does not resolve, it can damage cerebral tissue—damage that CAN be permanent. When microglia are confused, they sometimes become "hyperactive" and attack everything, which can lead to cognitive deficiencies, demyelination, permanent brain damage or even death.  This is how vaccine adjuvants may cause permanent brain damage, especially among infants and children with genetic susceptibilities and underlying neurological or immune system disorders that may or may not have been diagnosed.

If your child has a hypersensitive immune response pattern that's different from the norm, he or she may be at increased risk for suffering a vaccine reaction.  At the present time, it is well known that the large gaps in vaccine safety science mean that doctors have few ways to reliably predict which child is going to experience such a reaction. Parents are seldom warned of all vaccine risks, even when their child has had a previous vaccine reaction or has a known neurological or immune system disorder that has the potential to raise those risks!

Most Adverse Vaccine Reactions Are Never Connected

Proving causation is extremely difficult with vaccine reactions. Unless symptoms of a vaccine reaction are immediate and dramatic, parents and doctors may not connect a child's health deterioration to vaccinations a child received. When parents report a reaction to their child's physician, they are typically told the illness couldn't possibly be related to the vaccine – it is just a "coincidence" say most pediatricians. Only the most extreme, dramatic and life-threatening vaccine reactions end up in federal vaccine court—the ones where the "dots" are easily connected. Unfortunately, at that point the damage is already done, and all too often it's permanent.

The CDC's VAERS database (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System)4 lists 8,000 different adverse vaccine reactions, from localized swelling and anaphylactic shock to autism, coma and death.5 Because of the factors already discussed, the actual number of reactions is probably much higher than the database reports. The vast majority of adverse reactions are never reported.

Government's Best Kept Secret: The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Given the furor that erupts when anybody publicly questions vaccine safety, you would think that US government officials are certain that vaccines are safe for everyone. But in reality, they've known about serious vaccine risks for decades and they know that some people are more susceptible to having vaccine reactions that lead to permanent injuries and death.  

At the insistence of vaccine manufacturers pressing Congress for a shield from vaccine injury lawsuits, 30 years ago Congress established the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Vaccine injury cases are adjudicated in the US Court of Claims, also known as "Vaccine Court."6 The VICP is supposed to provide non-adversarial, expedited financial compensation for vaccine victims according to provisions in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act,7 which absolved vaccine manufacturers, pediatricians and other vaccine providers of nearly all responsibility and liability for vaccine injuries and deaths.

Unfortunately, two out of three vaccine victims applying to the VICP are turned away empty-handed. Very few families ever see a dime from this program, or they have ridiculously long waits for their cases to be heard and settled. Many parents are unaware that the compensation program even exists and miss the short filing deadlines for filing a vaccine injury claim in the VICP (two years following a vaccine death and three years following the first symptom of a vaccine injury).

The families seeking compensation are in vaccine court not because they were opposed to vaccination but because of what happened when they DID vaccinate their children. In the documentary "Bought," vaccine safety activist Dawn Loughborough says this about VICP:

"We used to have this idea we were protecting children from infectious diseases. And we created the National Vaccine program with children in mind, but somewhere in time protecting the program became more important than what's happening to our children."

Do No Harm?

Another issue standing in the way of ensuring that pharmaceutical products licensed by the FDA are safe is ensuring that those who are involved in the licensing and safety monitoring process are free from conflicts of interest. For example, there is evidence that individuals with ties to the pharmaceutical industry occupy a significant number of seats on FDA advisory committees that review new prescription drug licensing applications.

Apparently, conflicts of interest are rampant with a recent published study8 revealing that on average, 13 percent of the members of FDA advisory committees in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) have a financial interest in the company whose drug is up for committee review. The Precautionary Principle—establish safety first—has been replaced with do whatever it takes to rush a drug to market.

Then, when it has been found to cause severe and sometimes fatal health outcomes, like Vioxx, health officials simply deal with the fallout later. And then there is the pharmaceutical lobby, arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington with more than 600 lobbyists doling out funds to political candidates of both parties—in exchange for their loyalty, of course. This is why getting anything done in Congress that the drug industry doesn't want done is next to impossible.

Please Share Your Story

It's about time we had some good science to accurately assess how many people are being injured by vaccines, and who is most at risk.  The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the rug like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" from one-size-fits-all vaccination policies.

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please report it and talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, then everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. If you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper, write a letter to the editor. Make a call to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the story. We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies, or public health officials promoting vaccine mandates, to dominate the conversation.