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Thursday, October 30, 2014

14 Ways to Be a Happier Person

By Dr. Mercola

For most adults, happiness doesn't just happen automatically. Yet, many of us expect it to be that way. You may dutifully plan out virtually every aspect of your life from your career to what to eat for dinner, and in so doing assume that it will bring you happiness.

This assumption would be incorrect in most cases, however. Because unless you actively pursue it, happiness can be quite elusive. Part of the problem adults have is that, as a child, your parents will ensure your happiness by planning entertainment and making sure you have fun.

Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, a social psychologist, director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Positivity, pointed out in TIME that even in college, your relationships with friends tend to continue to drive the happiness you experienced as a child.1

"But after that, the scaffolding of having a good day is taken away, and nobody is telling you how to provide that for yourself," she says.

And therein lies the problem. Left to your own devices (be honest), your day probably consists primarily of what has to be done, with very little, if any, time left for what you want to do. And that's not a recipe for happiness.

Ordinary Moments Make You Happier as You Get Older

You hear a lot in the media about people ticking items off of their "bucket lists…" i.e. the list of experiences you wish to have before you "kick the bucket." Such lists usually consist of extraordinary experiences, like world travel or completing a marathon, but are these really the moments that will make you happy?

One study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that while younger people tend to value extraordinary experiences, as people get older they tend to place more value on ordinary moments, such as drinking a good cup of coffee or "having a long and fun conversation with my son."2 The researchers explained:3

"Younger people, who view their future as extensive, gain more happiness from extraordinary experiences; however, ordinary experiences become increasingly associated with happiness as people get older, such that they produce as much happiness as extraordinary experiences when individuals have limited time remaining.

Self-definition drives these effects: although extraordinary experiences are self-defining throughout one's life span, as people get older they increasingly define themselves by the ordinary experiences that comprise their daily lives."

This is good news, because it suggests that learning to savor the small things in life can make a big difference in your level of happiness.

14 Ways to Become Happier

In many ways happiness is a choice, and you can create it by following a certain routine. In fact, happy people tend to follow similar habits that set them apart from their sad and stressed-out peers. If you'd like to join them, read on. These are the top tips positive psychologists have to offer to, as TIME put it, "infuse your days with more pleasure."4

1. Make Happiness Your Goal

It's thought that genetics account for about 50 percent of your "innate" happiness while life circumstances make up another 10. The rest is under your control, and the first step to harnessing it is to choose it and believe you can be happy.

Research shows, for instance, that when people were told to attempt to feel happier when listing to music, they were (as opposed to those who were told to simply relax).5 It was the intention to become happier that made a difference.

2. Know What Makes You Happy

If it's been awhile since you've felt truly happy (that carefree joyous state you probably had as a child), you may have forgotten what it is that gets you there. Take time to reflect on what gives you joy (and not just the "obvious," like your family, but also little things, hobbies, and interests).

3. Prioritize Happiness

If you have an hour free, do you spend it doing something fun? Or do you spend it catching up on housework, tackling an extra work project, or otherwise working? The latter is a "minor form of insanity," according to happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener, PhD.6

And it certainly won't help you get happier. To break free of this trap, make a point to schedule your weeks around events (or ordinary activities) that make you feel truly happy and alive.

4. Savor the Pleasant Moments

People who take the time to savor pleasant moments report higher levels of happiness, regardless of where the day takes them.7 If you don't already do this, keeping a daily diary of pleasant moments and whether or not you truly savored them, might help.

You might be surprised at how much happiness is to be had in your everyday life. Try appreciating the scent of your coffee, relishing in the feeling of your soft bed, or enjoying the sunrise before you start your day.

5. Protect Your Time

There's only so much time in a day, so be sure to protect your attention and time from unnecessary and unproductive distractions. This includes texts, tweets, and emails, which take you away from the true pleasures in life. If necessary, turn off social media completely.

Research suggests that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more their moment-to-moment happiness declines and the less satisfied with life they become.8

6. Think Happy Thoughts

Simply thinking about a positive event, and smiling as a result, can make you happier and more upbeat (more so than simply fake smiling). A genuine smile includes the facial muscles around your eyes, and can actually prompt brain changes linked to increased mood.

7. Spend Money on Experiences, Not 'Things'

Research suggests experiences make us happier than possessions; the "newness" of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and "being alive" both during the experience and when you reflect back on it. However, experiences won't make you happy either if you're only doing them for bragging rights… and not because you really want to.

8. Be Playful with Your Significant Other

If your relationship with your significant other has become all about "business," it's a sign that you need to lighten up and add some fun back in. This can be as simple as sending your spouse a playful text, cooking a new recipe together, or enjoying a romantic bubble bath.

9. Have a Back-Up Plan for Bad Days

When you're having a bad day and your mood is sinking, have a plan in place to lift it back up. This could be calling a close friend, watching a comedy, or going out for a jog – you know what works best for you.

10. Find Your Sense of Purpose

Happiness isn't only about pleasure; it's also about having a sense of purpose. The term "eudaimonic well-being" originated with Aristotle, and describes the form of happiness that comes from activities that bring you a greater sense of purpose, life meaning, or self-actualization. This could be your career or it could be gleaned from volunteering or even taking a cooking class.

11. Socialize, Even with Strangers

Having meaningful social relationships is important for happiness, but even people who engage in "social snacking" report greater happiness. Social snacking describes the little ways you connect with others, including strangers, on a daily basis. In general, the more you mingle and chat with the people around you, the more cheerful and brighter your mood is likely to be.

12. Get Away

Taking time away from the daily grind is important for helping you recharge. And while even a weekend getaway can give you a boost, a longer trip is better to help you create meaningful memories. These memories can be tapped into later to help boost your happiness. Experts recommend a two-week vacation, ideally, even if it's to a locale close to home.

13. Do Acts of Kindness

When people make a point to conduct three to five acts of kindness a week, something magical happens… they become happier. Simple kind acts – a compliment, letting someone ahead of you in line, etc. – are contagious and tend to make all of those involved feel good.

14. Plan Your 'Sunday Funday'

Plan your day off a week in advance to maximize the pleasure it brings you. Experts suggest incorporating PEP – or, physical, escape, and people – for best results. This means, try to do something physical, something that allows you to escape and relax and something that gets you involved with others whose company you enjoy.

Happiness Is Good for Your Mind and Body

One of the best parts of being happy is that the feeling of happiness – whether you equate it with optimism, joy, well-being, personal achievement, or all of the above – goes hand-in-hand with healthier habits. People who are in good spirits tend to eat better, exercise more frequently, and get better sleep than those who are not. This could be, in part, because leading a healthy lifestyle helps you achieve your goals, leading to happiness.

It could also be that such habits lead to better health, which in turn lends itself to a better mood and happiness. Positive thoughts and attitudes are able to prompt changes in your body that strengthen your immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and chronic disease, and provide stress relief. It's even been scientifically shown that happiness can alter your genes!

A team of researchers at UCLA showed that people with a deep sense of happiness and well-being had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger antiviral and antibody responses.9 This falls into the realm of epigenetics—changing the way your genes function by turning them off and on. So try out the happiness tips above. You don't have to do them all, of course. Even a few will likely make a difference in your feelings of happiness and also, as a result, boost your physical health.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

American Meat Production Uses More Antibiotics Than Ever, Despite Growing Threat of Antibiotic-Resistant Disease in Consumers

By Dr. Mercola

The featured Frontline News documentary investigates the roots and ramifications of the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. The US uses nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise food animals.1, 2 This accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US.3

The ramifications of this routine practice can be seen in hospital wards across the nation, as it is one, if not the primary driver of antibiotic-resistant disease in humans.

According to CDC statistics,4 two million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a result of those infections.

In my view, this is a very compelling reason to switch to organic, grass-fed (pastured) varieties, as growth promoting drugs such as antibiotics are not permitted in organic farming.

Large-Scale Agriculture and Hospitals Breed Drug-Resistant Superbugs

One organism alone—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—now kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide.5

The victims include young, otherwise healthy people, raising suspicions that the MRSA infections originate from the food they eat. Drug-resistant tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, and gonorrhea are also on the rise.

As reported by Frontline, researchers have found that people living close to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also suffer drug-resistant infections at much higher rates than others, again suggesting that antibiotic-resistant bacteria originate from large-scale agriculture.

Hospitals have traditionally been the primary source of dangerous infections. At present, one in 25 patients end up with a hospital-acquired infection, and many of these infections are drug resistant.

But it’s the use of antibiotics in agriculture that breeds these hardy bacteria most efficiently. And by allowing this practice to continue, simple infections will become increasingly lethal, and even minor routine surgeries become exceedingly risky.

One of the most prestigious research hospitals in the US recently struggled with an outbreak of a highly lethal antibiotic-resistant superbug, Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC), which spread from one patient to another in a highly complex and in some cases untraceable pattern.6 What’s worse, many of these bacteria, including KPC, have developed resistance to multiple drugs.  

A 2013 paper by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) titled “Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens,”7 report that between 1973 and 2011, there were 55 antibiotic-resistant foodborne outbreaks in the US. More than half of these outbreaks involved pathogens resistant to five or more antibiotics!

Meat Is Frequently Tainted with Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Large scale meat production is a primary breeding ground of drug-resistant bacteria, as low doses of antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock to promote growth and compensate for unsanitary living conditions. Previous research8 has suggested you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when shopping at your local grocery store.

Frontline also reports that meat may be a source of potentially lethal infections—not simply because you’re eating antibiotics and therefore building resistance, but because the meat is tainted with drug-resistant bacteria that can cause disease if the meat is improperly handled or undercooked.

One example given is drug-resistant urinary infections, which are on the rise. If the antibiotics fail to wipe out the bacteria, the infection can progress to your kidneys, which allows the bacteria access to your blood. The result is sepsis, which kills 40,000 Americans each year.

Using state of the art genome sequencing, researchers were able to compare E.coli samples found on supermarket meat with E.coli samples collected from patients with drug-resistant urinary tract infections. In this way, they were able to genetically link more than 100 urinary tract infections to tainted supermarket meat products.

When Greed Trumps Human Welfare, Tragedy Is Sure to Follow

It’s frustrating to realize that voices of reason were ignored several decades ago, allowing for our current nightmare to emerge. As far back as 1977, then-commissioner of the FDA Donald Kennedy, a Stanford University biology professor, wanted to reduce the use of antibiotics in healthy livestock because it would likely to give rise to drug resistance that might threaten the human population.

As reported by the Washington Post:9

“Kennedy’s proposal ran into a wall of opposition. The Texas Farm Bureau warned of ‘a devastating effect on animal agriculture.’ The Mississippi Pork Producers Association said it would cause ‘a tremendous economic blow to our industry.’

The National Broiler Council said it would set an ‘ultimately disastrous precedent.’ The National Turkey Federation said it was based on 'flimsy scientific evidence.'

Then came the final verdict: Congress told Kennedy to stand down. His proposal was shelved, largely at the behest of the farmers and their powerful champion in the House, Rep. Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.).”

Industry Is Still Looking Out for Itself at Your Expense

When it comes to protecting business at any cost, nothing has changed in the past four decades. In response to the featured Frontline documentary, the livestock industry went into overdrive to cover up the attention.

They’ve even taken steps to divert web searches to their own sites, according to a memo sent by a National Pork Board official, using Paid Search Engine Optimization (SEO).10 According to Reuters:11

"’The industry will tie any consumer searches for 'PBS Frontline' and 'Antibiotics' to the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance site, Food Source,’ the email stated. ‘Included in these searches will be the terms 'pork, antibiotics and Frontline.' In those cases, users will be directed to the National Pork Board and [National Pork Producers Council] NPPC site PorkCares.org.’"

Political Paralysis and Industry Greed Is Killing Thousands Each Year

Despite evidence showing that agricultural antibiotics create drug resistance that could end up killing people, very little is being done to curtail the situation. After years of prodding, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally issued updated guidance on agricultural antibiotics on December 11, 2013,12 but all it did was ask drug companies to voluntarily restrict the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine by excluding ‘growth promotion in animals’ as a listed use on the drug label.13

Reaffirming the US government’s unwillingness to act against industry interests, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recently announced a five-year plan to address antibiotic resistance.14 A five-year plan is simply too little, too late. We don’t have that kind of time to waste. For each year we delay affirmative action, tens of thousands of Americans die, and the resistance problem keeps growing.

The industry is fond of pointing out the lack of proof directly connecting the antibiotics used in livestock to human disease outbreaks. This is by careful design to deceive you. The industry is not required to collect or report usage data. And without data on how and when drugs are used, such direct connections are very difficult to prove. That said, as shown in Frontline’s documentary, genetic genome sequencing can and does provide compelling evidence for claims that that some drug-resistant infections are caused by bacteria found on supermarket meats—directly linking the act of consuming tainted meats with the contraction of a drug-resistant infection.

When asked why we don’t we have information on antibiotic usage in livestock after more than four decades of use, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s beyond lame excuse was that they’re still trying to figure out what kind of data is needed... In the video, she also notes that the FDA believes this voluntary approach is going to be the most effective and speedy way to eliminate antibiotics for growth promotion purposes. This is the same woman who received more than a million dollars from the largest seller of mercury to dentists and then overrode legislation that would limit mercury sales.

The meat industries have agreed to reduce usage, but if no data is collected to verify which drugs are being reduced, and by how much, how can the FDA possibly ascertain the effectiveness of their approach? So far, promptings to reduce usage appears to have fallen on deaf ears. According to the most recent FDA report, antibiotic usage actually INCREASED by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, and nearly 70 percent of the antibiotics used are considered “medically important” for humans…15

Probiotics Might Save the Day

With antibiotics falling by the wayside, finding new remedies to fight infections is becoming critically important. Fecal transplant, in which donor feces from a healthy person are transplanted into a patient, is one novel option that is starting to gain more widespread acceptance. For example, fecal transplants have been shown to lead to rapid resolution of symptoms in 98 percent of patients with Clostridium difficile who don’t respond to multiple previous treatments. Frozen capsules containing fecal bacteria from healthy donors are another, less invasive way to “transplant” healthy bacteria into an ailing patient. As reported by NPR:16

“Twenty people with recurrent C. diff infections took 15 pills a day, about the size of a large multivitamin, for two days. Fourteen of them were free of diarrhea almost immediately, with no recurrences. The other six tried the treatment again; that did the trick for four of them. The two people who failed to get results were in poorer health overall, the study17 found. But the treatment worked for people from age 11 to age 89. The Mass General group has since treated another 21 people with the pills, with similar success.”

While I believe fecal transplantation can be lifesaving in some circumstances, I want to make it clear that you will likely never have to resort to receiving donated feces if you address your gut health on a daily basis—by avoiding factors that kill off your beneficial gut bacteria, and continuously “reseeding” your gut through a healthy diet. That includes avoiding sugars, all processed foods and meats from CAFOs, which may contain antibiotic residues, and may be tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria to boot.

Also, any time you take an antibiotic, it is important to take probiotics to repopulate the beneficial bacteria in your gut that are killed by the antibiotic right along with the pathogenic bacteria. If you don’t, you’re leaving the door wide open for further health problems.

Avoiding Antibiotics in Your Food Is an Important Safety Aspect

My suggestion to you is: don’t wait for the government to implement an action agenda. Instead, take decisive action for yourself and your own family. Seek out trusted sources of food that do not use antibiotic pesticides and/or antibiotic growth promoters. Many small farmers use organic principles even if they have not been able to afford organic certification, so your local farmer is a good place to start. Some grocery chains also offer 100% grass-fed meats these days.

If not, ask them to start carrying it. I’ve also made connections with sources I know provide high-quality organic grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, both of which you can find in my online store. I believe the strongest message you can send is to change how you spend your food dollars. And by opting for antibiotic-free, pasture raised and finished meats, you’re actively supporting farmers who are not contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistance.

How to Find Organic Foods Locally

Your best bet for finding healthy food is to connect with a local farmer that raises animals according to organic standards, allowing them to roam freely on pasture. In the US, the following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods:

Weston Price Foundation18 has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.
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.
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.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
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.

Obesity May Speed Aging of the Liver

By Dr. Mercola

Obesity is associated with a significant number of health problems, including insulin resistance, cancer, and others, and now researchers may have uncovered a reason why. While most of your tissues and organs age at the same rate, certain factors may cause aging to accelerate.

For this reason, you may be “older” than your chronological age indicates, or certain organs may be more aged than others – a measure known as “epigenetic age.” One such factor linked to an acceleration of epigenetic aging is obesity, particularly in your liver.

Obesity Accelerates Aging in Your Liver

If you’re obese, new research found, your liver may be aging faster than the rest of your body, putting you at risk of chronic disease. For each increase in 10 body mass index (BMI) units, the epigenetic age of the liver grew by 3.3 years.1

Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics and biostatistics at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, explained:2

"Assume there is a man who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 130 pounds. This slender man would have a body mass index of 20… Compare him to a man of the same age and height who weighs 230 pounds. The liver of this obese man -- who has a BMI of 35 -- would probably be five years older than that of the slender man."

Obesity surgery had no apparent effect on the age of the liver, even when it resulted in rapid weight loss. Further, obesity did not appear to impact aging in fat, muscle, or blood – only the liver.

Hovath and colleagues were able to measure the precise epigenetic age of liver samples using an “epigenetic clock” that Hovath developed. It’s based on DNA methylation—a process by which a methyl group (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) is added to part of a DNA molecule.

DNA methylation is a crucial part of normal cell function, allowing cells to "remember who they are and where they have been" and is important in regulating gene expression.

DNA methylation also suppresses the genes for things you don't want, such as viral and other disease-related genes, and abnormal DNA methylation plays a critical role in the development of nearly all types of cancer.

The Fructose Connection: How It Causes Both Obesity and Liver Damage

The reason obesity might accelerate aging in your liver could have to do with an underlying cause of both weight gain and liver damage: fructose. You may already be aware that fructose – the sugar found in everything from high fructose corn syrup and fruit juice to agave syrup and honey – is harmful when consumed in excess.

This is precisely what most Americans do. However, you may be surprised to learn that fructose is, in many ways, very similar to alcohol in the damage that it can do to your body… and your liver.

Unlike glucose, which can be used by virtually every cell in your body, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it.3

Since nearly all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, and, if you eat a typical Western-style diet, you consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regard to the metabolic havoc it wreaks.

According to Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, fructose is a "chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin." And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – not cellular energy, like glucose.

His findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,4 where Dr. Lustig explained the three similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct, ethanol (alcohol):

  1. Your liver's metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream), and fatty liver
  2. Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol
  3. By "stimulating the 'hedonic pathway' of the brain both directly and indirectly," Dr. Lustig noted, "fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol"

Fructose Is a Leading Cause of the Obesity Epidemic

Fructose not only damages your liver; it’s also a leading cause fueling the obesity epidemic in both adults and children. In order for you to significantly gain weight, you must first become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that helps you regulate your appetite. When your leptin levels rise, it signals your body that you’re full, so you’ll stop eating.

However, as you become increasingly resistant to the effects of leptin, you end up eating more. Many people who are overweight also have an impairment in their body’s ability to oxidize fat, which leads to a low-energy state. The question then is: what drives this basic process? Why do you become leptin resistant in the first place?

Dr. Richard Johnson is the head of nephrology at the University of Colorado and is actively engaged in clinical research. Over the past 25 years, much of his research (which is funded by the National Institutes of Health) has focused on fructose and obesity-related diseases.

His hypothesis is that, rather than being driven by eating too many calories and lack of exercise, obesity is primarily driven by eating too much refined sugar, particularly fructose.

Dr. Johnson’s research clearly shows that refined sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance in animals, and it’s very effective at blocking the burning of fat.

“When you give fructose to animals, they lose their ability to control their appetite, they eat more, and they exercise less. Fructose looks like it’s playing a direct role in weight gain,” he says.

His research also reveals that fructose has effects independent of this mechanism to induce this metabolic syndrome. Whereas fructose increases weight through the standard mechanism of stimulating more food intake and blocking the burning of fat, even when you control caloric intake, fructose can affect body composition.

This is because when you eat fructose, you actually generate more fat in your liver for the same amount of energy intake, compared to other types of sugar... For example, if you calorically restrict an animal but give it a high-fructose diet or a high-sugar diet, it will still produce fatty liver and will still become insulin resistant. According to Dr. Johnson, fructose has two effects:

  1. It stimulates weight gain through its effects on your appetite and by blocking the burning of fat
  2. It also changes your body composition to increase body fat even when you are on a caloric restriction

How Much Fructose Is Safe to Eat?

Four out of five Americans have insulin and leptin resistance. This also includes people who are overweight, diabetic, hypertensive, or taking a statin drug. If you fall into this category, it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources.

Those who are normal weight and relatively healthy may also benefit from reducing their intake of fructose, particularly from foods containing high fructose corn syrup or sugar, as the effects of high sugar and HFCS intake may have effects that build up over time.

Fruits also have fructose but contain many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. For someone who is obese, one has to be careful with eating fruits that have substantial fructose content. Some fruits, such as lemons and limes, have minimal fructose content and are safe. Other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi, and berries, also have relatively low fructose content and high levels of nutrients. However, fruit juices, dried fruits, and some fruits that are rich in fructose (such as pears, red apples, and plums) should be eaten relatively sparingly.

According to Dr. Johnson, if you exercise regularly, a small amount of fructose can actually be quite beneficial, because the fructose will accelerate glucose absorption in your gut and improve muscle performance. But it really depends on how your body metabolizes the fructose. Your body normally cannot absorb fructose well. But the more fructose you eat, the more the transporters that allow for fructose uptake in your gut are turned on. Hence, the more fructose your body will absorb. Lean children, for instance, tend to only absorb about half of the fructose they consume, whereas obese children who have fatty liver disease absorb close to 100 percent. This may further explain the featured finding that obesity is linked to accelerated aging in your liver.

The 19 Best Foods for Your Liver

If you’re overweight or obese, in addition to losing weight you may want to focus on including more liver-protective foods in your diet. A first step would be to be sure you’re drinking enough water, which will help flush toxins and waste products from your body. A general guide is to drink enough water so that your urine is pale yellow in color. As for foods, the right combination of nutrients will help keep your liver functioning optimally. Some of the best foods for your liver have been compiled by Rodale News and are listed below:5

Fermented foods: Fermented foods like cultured vegetables provide your body with beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and provide detoxification support. The fermented food kimchi, for instance, has been found to help your body break down pesticides.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, and daikon): These help your liver neutralize toxins, including chemicals, pesticides, medications, and carcinogens.
Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and dandelion greens): These contain rich amounts of sulfur, which helps your liver with detoxification. Dandelion greens in particular are known for supporting liver detoxification and health.
Sea vegetables: Various types of seaweed and brown algae also support detoxification and may also help prevent your body from absorbing heavy metals and other environmental toxins. Be sure the sea vegetables come from a non-polluted water source.
Sprouts: Sprouts contain high levels of enzymes that serve as catalysts for important body functions. Recent research suggests that broccoli sprouts may help your body detox environmental pollutants such as benzene.6 From my perspective, broccoli, watercress, and sunflower sprouts are foods that virtually everyone can and would benefit from growing.
Garlic, onions, shallots, and leeks: These foods are rich in sulfur, including the sulfur-based compound allicin, which is critical for liver detoxification.
Organic, pastured eggs: Eggs are a high-quality source of protein that includes all eight essential amino acids. Your liver needs these to help detoxify your body. Choline, found in egg yolks, also helps protect your liver from toxins.
Artichokes: These contain cynarin and silymarin, which support liver health.
Mushrooms: Maitake, shiitake, and reishi mushrooms are known for their potent immunosupportive agents and also contain L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant to help neutralize free radicals.
Berries: Berries are rich in phytochemicals, including anthocyanin, which might inhibit the proliferation of liver cancer cells.
Coconut oil: This healthy saturated fat is so easy for your body to digest that no pancreatic fat-digesting enzymes are needed. This puts less stress on your liver and helps it function optimally.
Avocados: These contain healthy monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, and glutathione, which is important for liver health.
Organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil: High-quality olive oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds that help your liver decrease oxidative stress in your body (consume this oil unheated).
Flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds: These contain plant-based omega-3 fats to fight inflammation along with healthy fiber.
Herbs: Many herbs support liver detoxification and function. This includes ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, fennel, and turmeric (curcumin).
Organic, grass-fed meat: By avoiding meat raised on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and instead choosing grass-fed meat exclusively, you’ll help avoid pesticides, chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics that further tax your liver.
Wild-caught sardines, anchovies, and salmon: These provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. You can also find these in krill oil.
Whey protein powder: Whey protein provides the amino acids necessary for glutathione production, which is essential for liver protection and function. Choose organic whey protein from grass-fed cows.
Spirulina: This blue-green algae is a potent detoxifier. Animal studies suggest spirulina can also protect your liver, probably as a result of its high antioxidant properties and its ability to synthesize or release nitric oxide.

Is Coffee Beneficial for Your Liver?

Coffee has earned a negative reputation due to its caffeine content, but accumulating research suggests it may have beneficial effects, especially on your liver. One recent study revealed that people who drink three cups of coffee a day were 25 percent less likely to have abnormal liver enzyme levels than those who drank none,7 and this was true whether the coffee was caffeinated or not.8 Other research found that drinking two or more cups of coffee a day may reduce your risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66 percent.9

And a Japanese study found those who drank coffee daily, or close to it, had about half the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a type of liver cancer, than people who never drank coffee;10 coffee is also associated with less severe liver fibrosis, lower levels of fat in your liver, and lower rates of hepatitis C disease progression.11 If you're interested in the health benefits, drink your coffee black, without sugar, non-dairy creamer or cream, or flavorings. If you really can't stand your coffee black, you could try adding non-dairy alternatives like unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Also, make sure it’s organic to avoid more pesticide exposures to your liver.

Are You Struggling with Obesity?

If you're currently struggling with weight control, I urge you to read my top tips for conquering obesity now. However, a simple change for most people to make would be replacing sugary beverages with pure water and, on occasion, a healthy, anti-obesity option like hibiscus extract tea, which also offers liver-protecting potential. In addition, intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to help you resolve your insulin and leptin resistance. It’s also one of the fastest ways to shed excess pounds, as it helps shift your body from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel. To me, the most remarkable aspect of intermittent fasting is that once you make the transition, your hunger and cravings for sweets virtually disappears.

Granted, in order to get it right, you need to severely restrict your sugar and fructose intake. A healthy diet becomes all the more important when you start intermittently fasting. Ideally, you’ll want to swap your non-vegetable carbs for healthy fats. Most benefit from anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fat, such as avocado, olives, eggs, butter, nuts (I prefer macadamia and pecans), and coconut oil for example. This is done until the insulin resistance resolves and one has normal weight, no diabetes or hypertension, and is no longer taking statin drugs. Then one can decrease the fat and replace them with healthy carbs. For a more in-depth review, please see this previous article on how intermittent fasting can help you live longer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New, More Toxic Breed of Crops Gain Approval

By Dr. Mercola

Two major categories of genetically engineered (GE) seeds currently account for 99 percent of all acreage dedicated to GE crops in the US:

  1. Those engineered to withstand high amounts of herbicide, such as Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties
  2. Those engineered to produce their own internal insecticide (so-called Bt crops)

The widespread use of these GE crops has led to chemical resistance among weeds and insects alike, despite initial assurances from the chemical technology industry that such an outcome was highly unlikely.

Well, the results are now too evident to ignore—weed resistance has been documented on 60 million acres on farms across the US, and Bt resistant rootworm is being reported in the US and Brazil.

As GE seeds became the norm, chemical resistance rapidly emerged. As a result, farmers have been applying increasingly higher amounts of pesticides in an effort to keep up with rising resistance.

The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year,1, 2 and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. What we need is not a new breed of chemical-resistant crops, but that’s exactly what we’re getting...

Even More Toxic GE Crops and Herbicide Receive Approval

Instead of taking a proactive approach to save the environment and human life, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently decided to deregulate Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops.

These crops are not only resistant to glyphosate, but also carry resistance to toxins like 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange, and Dicamba, which has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The chemical 2,4-D and other herbicides of this class have also been linked to:

  • Immune system cancers
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Reproductive problems

Then, on October 15, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced3 its final decision to register Enlist Duo—a new herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemical, to be used on corn and soybeans genetically engineered  to tolerate both 2,4-D and glyphosate.

This was the final barrier standing between this new generation of GE crops and their widespread commercialization. According to the EPA:4

“The agency’s decision reflects a large body of science and an understanding of the risk of pesticides to human health and the environment... EPA scientists used highly conservative and protective assumptions to evaluate human health and ecological risks for the new uses of 2,4-D in Enlist Duo.

The assessments confirm that these uses meet the safety standards for pesticide registration and, as approved, will be protective of the public, agricultural workers, and non-target species, including endangered species.

The agency evaluated the risks to all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and took into account exposures through food, water, pesticide drift, and as a result of use around homes. The decision meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard of ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ to human health.”

EPA Thinks a Few Restrictions Will Safeguard Against Resistance...

To “ensure that weeds will not become resistant to 2,4-D,” the approval of Enlist Duo comes with certain restrictions. For example, Dow is required to search for resistant weeds and report any occurrences of resistance to the EPA.

Farmer education and remediation plans are also part of these additional requirements that must be met. To prevent drift, farmers will not be permitted to spray Enlist Duo from the air, or apply it when the wind speed exceeds 15 miles per hour.

Farmers must also leave a 30-foot “no spray buffer zone” around treated crops.  The registration is set to expire in six years, at which time the EPA will evaluate the emergence of resistance.

I do not believe in these assurances of safety. Nor do I think adding a different set of toxins to the growers’ mix will ameliorate resistance. Instead, what we’ll end up with is simply an increasingly toxic food supply and further environmental destruction. As noted by Pesticide Action Network:5

USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production to increase between 500 percent and 1,400 percent over the course of nine years, depending on farmers’ practices and changes in Dow’s share of corn and soybean seed markets.

In making this decision, EPA officials failed to consider several important health and safety factors.

By ignoring the potential synergistic effects of 2,4-D and glyphosate, not addressing the cumulative impacts of the expected increase in 2,4-D use, and failing to implement an appropriate 10-fold safety factor to limit exposures — as required under the Food Quality Protection Act — EPA has given Enlist Duo an unjustified approval, based on a flawed and inadequate review of the chemical’s harms.

In addition, neither USDA nor EPA have looked at the economic impact that Enlist Duo drift will have on surrounding farms and communities.” [Emphasis mine]

Center for Food Safety also cites a 2012 study published in the journal Bioscience, which concluded that this new generation of GE crops “will trigger still more intractable weeds resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D.”  

We Need a New Direction, Not More Toxins

A lot of harm can be done in six years, and we simply don’t have the time to sit back and wait to see how bad it can get. Just how bad does it have to get before our government starts taking these problems seriously?

What we need is a whole new direction for our agricultural system. We need a system that is NOT reliant on chemicals—one that is not only sustainable, but also regenerative.

Toxic chemicals form the very basis of GE agriculture. Chemicals are added into the soil, on the seed, on the plant, and on some crops herbicides are also added right at harvest, to increase seed release. This technique is called desiccating.

For example, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago, and Dr. Stephanie Seneff suspects this practice may be the reason why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in celiac disease since then... It’s important to realize that agriculture today is not driven by true agricultural companies. Patented seeds are actually a creation of the pesticide industry. While they try to portray themselves as “biotechnology” companies, they’re really chemical technology companies, and they have no financial incentive whatsoever to discontinue or even reduce the use of chemicals.

Research Bias Is a Direct Threat to Human Health 

As for the “large body of science” the EPA claims to base its foolhardy decision on, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of this research has major conflicts of interest as it is done by the company selling the chemicals. This fact was directly addressed in a January 2014 report6 on 2,4-D, jointly published by Testbiotech, GeneWatch UK and Pesticides Action Network Europe:

“Many of the publications are authored by the manufacturers’ scientists or are sponsored by the manufacturers of 2,4-D. This leads to large confusion, because on the one hand these papers are scientific, peer reviewed papers, but on the other hand, it can be assumed that the financial interest leads to a bias towards studies showing no negative effects. A recent study by Diels et al. (2011) has shown that in studies with genetically engineered crops, there is a strong relation between funding and outcome.

Some industry financed publications leave out important information, for example Ross et al. (2005), who do not mention results which show a high dermal uptake of 2,4-D... Basically, the industry funded/authored studies lead to a ‘dilution’ of information—a tactic also applied by the tobacco industry. The parallels between the tobacco industry and the pesticide industry are manifold, not only in their argumentation and strategy, but also in the final results – despite the evidence - cancer causing agents are not prohibited.”

All Available Legal Options Will Be Pursued to Stop These Dangerous Crops

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network, has called the lack of protection from the EPA and USDA “shocking,” saying:7 “It’s time for real reform in these agencies. We need a new system of government oversight that is powerful enough to say ‘No’ to Dow and Monsanto when their products will harm the health and livelihoods of our farmers and rural communities.”

In response to the USDA’s and EPA’s complete failure to protect the American public against the growing threat of a toxic food supply and devastating pest resistance that could decimate our natural resources, the Center for Food Safety has announced8 it will “pursue all available legal options to stop the commercialization of these dangerous crops.” Sixty members of Congress have signed a letter opposing the approval and release of 2,4-D tolerant corn and soybeans. On June 30, 35 prominent doctors, scientists, and researchers also issued a letter of opposition to the EPA.9 According to Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR):10

For years, the scientific community has been sounding the alarm about the increased use of herbicides and the link to a multitude of health problems. It’s shocking that EPA thinks it’s a good idea to allow the widespread use of a toxic chemical once found in Agent Orange on this nation’s farm fields.  EPA should be working to reverse the trend of chemicals that poison our food supply, water and soil. It will be just a matter of time before weeds develop a resistance to 2,4-D, and the chemical industry comes up with an even more dangerous and potent product.”

Indeed, there’s already a lineup of new GE crops with built-in resistance to a variety of toxic chemicals awaiting federal approval (below). In addition to 2,4-D and Dicamba, each and every one of these will eventually cause resistance. And more than likely, we’ll end up seeing multi-chemical resistance, just as we now have antibiotic-resistant bacteria with multiple-drug resistance:

  • ALS-tolerant crops (Pioneer Hi-Bred)
  • Bromoxynil-tolerant crops (Calgene)
  • Imidazolinone-tolerant crops (BASF)
  • Isoxaflutole-tolerant crops (Bayer)
  • Sulfonylurea-tolerant crops (DuPont)

The Way Out of This Nightmare Starts at Home

The way off this out-of-control chemical treadmill will decimate profits for the chemical technology industry, and THAT is why they do not want you to know which foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If Americans started making dramatically different food choices, it could quickly revolutionize the US agricultural system because farmers will grow that which sells. If people want uncontaminated organic foods, that’s what farmers will grow—and there’s already evidence that biodynamic farming can be done even on the large scale. In fact, using biodynamic principles, you can grow a lot more food on fewer acres.

Real solutions are available. What’s lacking is the political will to stand up to the chemical technology industry and break its iron grip on our food supply. But we can still get it done, by making conscious choices each and every time we shop for food. Remember, your money either goes to support the chemical-based system that threatens the survival of the earth and your descendants, or it supports a system that can regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment so that healthy food and healthy people can thrive. To make conscious choices, we need information, and that is why GMO labeling is so crucial.

New, More Toxic Breed of Crops Gain Approval

By Dr. Mercola

Two major categories of genetically engineered (GE) seeds currently account for 99 percent of all acreage dedicated to GE crops in the US:

  1. Those engineered to withstand high amounts of herbicide, such as Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties
  2. Those engineered to produce their own internal insecticide (so-called Bt crops)

The widespread use of these GE crops has led to chemical resistance among weeds and insects alike, despite initial assurances from the chemical technology industry that such an outcome was highly unlikely.

Well, the results are now too evident to ignore—weed resistance has been documented on 60 million acres on farms across the US, and Bt resistant rootworm is being reported in the US and Brazil.

As GE seeds became the norm, chemical resistance rapidly emerged. As a result, farmers have been applying increasingly higher amounts of pesticides in an effort to keep up with rising resistance.

The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year,1, 2 and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. What we need is not a new breed of chemical-resistant crops, but that’s exactly what we’re getting...

Even More Toxic GE Crops and Herbicide Receive Approval

Instead of taking a proactive approach to save the environment and human life, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently decided to deregulate Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops.

These crops are not only resistant to glyphosate, but also carry resistance to toxins like 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange, and Dicamba, which has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The chemical 2,4-D and other herbicides of this class have also been linked to:

  • Immune system cancers
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Reproductive problems

Then, on October 15, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced3 its final decision to register Enlist Duo—a new herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemical, to be used on corn and soybeans genetically engineered  to tolerate both 2,4-D and glyphosate.

This was the final barrier standing between this new generation of GE crops and their widespread commercialization. According to the EPA:4

“The agency’s decision reflects a large body of science and an understanding of the risk of pesticides to human health and the environment... EPA scientists used highly conservative and protective assumptions to evaluate human health and ecological risks for the new uses of 2,4-D in Enlist Duo.

The assessments confirm that these uses meet the safety standards for pesticide registration and, as approved, will be protective of the public, agricultural workers, and non-target species, including endangered species.

The agency evaluated the risks to all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and took into account exposures through food, water, pesticide drift, and as a result of use around homes. The decision meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard of ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ to human health.”

EPA Thinks a Few Restrictions Will Safeguard Against Resistance...

To “ensure that weeds will not become resistant to 2,4-D,” the approval of Enlist Duo comes with certain restrictions. For example, Dow is required to search for resistant weeds and report any occurrences of resistance to the EPA.

Farmer education and remediation plans are also part of these additional requirements that must be met. To prevent drift, farmers will not be permitted to spray Enlist Duo from the air, or apply it when the wind speed exceeds 15 miles per hour.

Farmers must also leave a 30-foot “no spray buffer zone” around treated crops.  The registration is set to expire in six years, at which time the EPA will evaluate the emergence of resistance.

I do not believe in these assurances of safety. Nor do I think adding a different set of toxins to the growers’ mix will ameliorate resistance. Instead, what we’ll end up with is simply an increasingly toxic food supply and further environmental destruction. As noted by Pesticide Action Network:5

USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production to increase between 500 percent and 1,400 percent over the course of nine years, depending on farmers’ practices and changes in Dow’s share of corn and soybean seed markets.

In making this decision, EPA officials failed to consider several important health and safety factors.

By ignoring the potential synergistic effects of 2,4-D and glyphosate, not addressing the cumulative impacts of the expected increase in 2,4-D use, and failing to implement an appropriate 10-fold safety factor to limit exposures — as required under the Food Quality Protection Act — EPA has given Enlist Duo an unjustified approval, based on a flawed and inadequate review of the chemical’s harms.

In addition, neither USDA nor EPA have looked at the economic impact that Enlist Duo drift will have on surrounding farms and communities.” [Emphasis mine]

Center for Food Safety also cites a 2012 study published in the journal Bioscience, which concluded that this new generation of GE crops “will trigger still more intractable weeds resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D.”  

We Need a New Direction, Not More Toxins

A lot of harm can be done in six years, and we simply don’t have the time to sit back and wait to see how bad it can get. Just how bad does it have to get before our government starts taking these problems seriously?

What we need is a whole new direction for our agricultural system. We need a system that is NOT reliant on chemicals—one that is not only sustainable, but also regenerative.

Toxic chemicals form the very basis of GE agriculture. Chemicals are added into the soil, on the seed, on the plant, and on some crops herbicides are also added right at harvest, to increase seed release. This technique is called desiccating.

For example, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago, and Dr. Stephanie Seneff suspects this practice may be the reason why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in celiac disease since then... It’s important to realize that agriculture today is not driven by true agricultural companies. Patented seeds are actually a creation of the pesticide industry. While they try to portray themselves as “biotechnology” companies, they’re really chemical technology companies, and they have no financial incentive whatsoever to discontinue or even reduce the use of chemicals.

Research Bias Is a Direct Threat to Human Health 

As for the “large body of science” the EPA claims to base its foolhardy decision on, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of this research has major conflicts of interest as it is done by the company selling the chemicals. This fact was directly addressed in a January 2014 report6 on 2,4-D, jointly published by Testbiotech, GeneWatch UK and Pesticides Action Network Europe:

“Many of the publications are authored by the manufacturers’ scientists or are sponsored by the manufacturers of 2,4-D. This leads to large confusion, because on the one hand these papers are scientific, peer reviewed papers, but on the other hand, it can be assumed that the financial interest leads to a bias towards studies showing no negative effects. A recent study by Diels et al. (2011) has shown that in studies with genetically engineered crops, there is a strong relation between funding and outcome.

Some industry financed publications leave out important information, for example Ross et al. (2005), who do not mention results which show a high dermal uptake of 2,4-D... Basically, the industry funded/authored studies lead to a ‘dilution’ of information—a tactic also applied by the tobacco industry. The parallels between the tobacco industry and the pesticide industry are manifold, not only in their argumentation and strategy, but also in the final results – despite the evidence - cancer causing agents are not prohibited.”

All Available Legal Options Will Be Pursued to Stop These Dangerous Crops

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network, has called the lack of protection from the EPA and USDA “shocking,” saying:7 “It’s time for real reform in these agencies. We need a new system of government oversight that is powerful enough to say ‘No’ to Dow and Monsanto when their products will harm the health and livelihoods of our farmers and rural communities.”

In response to the USDA’s and EPA’s complete failure to protect the American public against the growing threat of a toxic food supply and devastating pest resistance that could decimate our natural resources, the Center for Food Safety has announced8 it will “pursue all available legal options to stop the commercialization of these dangerous crops.” Sixty members of Congress have signed a letter opposing the approval and release of 2,4-D tolerant corn and soybeans. On June 30, 35 prominent doctors, scientists, and researchers also issued a letter of opposition to the EPA.9 According to Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR):10

For years, the scientific community has been sounding the alarm about the increased use of herbicides and the link to a multitude of health problems. It’s shocking that EPA thinks it’s a good idea to allow the widespread use of a toxic chemical once found in Agent Orange on this nation’s farm fields.  EPA should be working to reverse the trend of chemicals that poison our food supply, water and soil. It will be just a matter of time before weeds develop a resistance to 2,4-D, and the chemical industry comes up with an even more dangerous and potent product.”

Indeed, there’s already a lineup of new GE crops with built-in resistance to a variety of toxic chemicals awaiting federal approval (below). In addition to 2,4-D and Dicamba, each and every one of these will eventually cause resistance. And more than likely, we’ll end up seeing multi-chemical resistance, just as we now have antibiotic-resistant bacteria with multiple-drug resistance:

  • ALS-tolerant crops (Pioneer Hi-Bred)
  • Bromoxynil-tolerant crops (Calgene)
  • Imidazolinone-tolerant crops (BASF)
  • Isoxaflutole-tolerant crops (Bayer)
  • Sulfonylurea-tolerant crops (DuPont)

The Way Out of This Nightmare Starts at Home

The way off this out-of-control chemical treadmill will decimate profits for the chemical technology industry, and THAT is why they do not want you to know which foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If Americans started making dramatically different food choices, it could quickly revolutionize the US agricultural system because farmers will grow that which sells. If people want uncontaminated organic foods, that’s what farmers will grow—and there’s already evidence that biodynamic farming can be done even on the large scale. In fact, using biodynamic principles, you can grow a lot more food on fewer acres.

Real solutions are available. What’s lacking is the political will to stand up to the chemical technology industry and break its iron grip on our food supply. But we can still get it done, by making conscious choices each and every time we shop for food. Remember, your money either goes to support the chemical-based system that threatens the survival of the earth and your descendants, or it supports a system that can regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment so that healthy food and healthy people can thrive. To make conscious choices, we need information, and that is why GMO labeling is so crucial.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Broccoli-Sprout Compound May Improve Symptoms of Autism

By Dr. Mercola

Science has proven time after time that food is potent medicine.  Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it’s one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around.

For example, a compound in broccoli, glucosinolateglucoraphanin, produces a metabolite called sulforaphane that can significantly improve your blood pressure and kidney function1 by normalizing a process called DNA methylation.

Interestingly, preliminary research suggests sulforaphane may also be of particular benefit for those with autism—improving verbal communication and decreasing repetitive behaviors.

Broccoli Compound May Improve Symptoms of Autism

While limited in scope, the study still shows that food is an important part of the treatment plan for autism, and can have a significant impact on behavior. A total of 44 boys and men diagnosed with autism were enrolled in the study.

Some received sulforaphane in capsule form, while the controls received a placebo. As reported by Time Magazine:2

“The compound was chosen because it can help trigger a heat-shock response, a series of biological events that protect cells from stress during fevers; some people with autism have been known to see improvement in regard to repetitive behaviors, for example, during fevers.

Around 80 percent of the participants had a history of experiencing the ‘fever effect.’”

Positive results were observed within as little as four weeks. Communication improved, as did symptoms of hyperactivity and irritability. By the end of the 18-week study, about 50 percent of those receiving sulforaphane experienced improved ability to interact socially.

About one-third of those treated did not have any noticeable results however, so more research needs to be done to ascertain how and why the compound works in certain cases. Still, considering the many health benefits of broccoli, there’s certainly no reason to avoid it.

On the contrary, I believe part of the reason for its beneficial effect on autistic symptoms may be related to its ability to affect gene expression, inhibit certain detrimental gut bacteria, and promote detoxification of harmful environmental pollutants.

All of these factors play a role in autism, and pretty much anything that will have a beneficial effect on them is likely to be useful to some degree.

Sulforaphane Benefits Gene Expression and Gut Health

Sulforaphane is an organic sulfur compound found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, and arugula—but broccoli sprouts is the richest source.

Sulforaphane has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. It also kills cancer stem cells, which slows tumor growth. As noted earlier, it also normalizes DNA methylation, which plays a role in a number of diseases, including hypertension, kidney function,3 gut health,4 and cancer.

In simple terms, DNA methylation5 is the process by which a methyl group (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) is added to part of a DNA molecule.

This is a crucial part of normal cell function as it allows cells to “remember who they are and where they have been.” DNA methylation also suppresses viral- and other disease-related gene expression.

Sulforaphane influences bacteria as well. For example, broccoli sprouts have been shown to inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria thought to cause gastric ulcers. Interestingly, H. pylori may also play a role in autism.

It is widely known that autistic children tend to suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems, with those experiencing the worst GI problems often having the most severe cases of autism.

In one study,6 researchers analyzed the gut microflora of 20 healthy and 20 autistic children using fecal samples, and found distinct differences between the two groups.

Specifically, those with autism had reduced levels of Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae, compared to healthy children. These belong to groups of carbohydrate-degrading and/or fermenting microbes, and may be critical for healthy interactions between microbes in the gut.

The presentation below discusses the links between H. pylori and autism and language delays, noting that H. pylori can instigate leaky gut and influences genes associated with the speech disorder apraxia7 that affects many autistic children.

Other Health Benefits of Broccoli

Other research has shown that broccoli can be helpful in the prevention of:

  • Heart disease
  • UV radiation damage to your skin when applied topically8
  • Osteoarthritis9, 10, 11, 12
  • Allergies13
  • Diabetes14

The sulforaphane from broccoli plays a role in activating more than 200 different genes, which accounts for its varied effects. Fortunately, you don’t have to consume vast volumes of broccoli to reap its benefits. In one study,15 just four servings of broccoli—about 10 broccoli spears—per week was found to protect men from prostate cancer.

Broccoli Sprouts Combat Exposure to Environmental Pollutants

Another major benefit of broccoli sprouts relates to its ability to detox pollutants, as demonstrated in recent research.16, 17, 18  This is important for virtually everyone these days, but especially women planning a pregnancy. Autistic children are known to have higher levels of environmental toxins in their system, and this underlying toxic burden plays a significant role.

For example, one recent study19, 20, 21, 22 found that every one percent increase in genital malformations in newborn males within a particular US county was associated with a 283 percent increased rate in autism. According to the researchers, genital malformations are signs of exposure to harmful toxins.

The correlation between genital malformation and autism in turn offer strong support for the notion that autism is the result of parental overexposure to environmental toxins. Another study23 published last year also found that autistic children have markedly higher levels of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also had fewer healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. With regards to the detoxifying powers of broccoli sprouts, Time Magazine noted that:24

“Broccoli sprouts specifically are a source of glucoraphanin, which creates sulforaphane when chewed or swallowed. That compound accelerates the body’s ability to detoxify from various pollutants...”

The three-month long study included about 300 Chinese men and women living one of the most polluted areas of China, a rural community in the Jiangsu Province. The test group drank half a cup a day of a beverage consisting of sterilized water, pineapple and lime juice, with dissolved freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder. The control group drank the same mixture without the addition of the sprouts.

After urine and blood tests were collected and analyzed, the researchers found that the test group, who received the broccoli sprout powder, excreted far greater levels of two carcinogens. Excretion of benzene increased 61 percent, and the rate of excretion of acrolein increased by 23 percent. Benzene is usually found in car exhaust fumes, but can also be ingested via soda, where it can form from benzoate salt—used as a preservative. Acrolein forms from the breakdown of certain indoor air pollutants, from the burning of organic matter such as tobacco, and the burning of fuels like gasoline.

Factors That Likely Contribute to Autism

With autism spectrum disorder now affecting as many as one in 50 children,25 it seems reasonable to assume that there are MANY factors contributing to this problem. Evidence suggests it’s rooted in a combination of toxic overload and other aggravating factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • Gut dysbiosis, especially in combination with vaccines and their additives like mercury (thimerosal), aluminum, and others, which are known to damage your mitochondria—the powerhouses in your body’s cells that produce energy. Your gastrointestinal system is often referred to as your “second brain,” containing some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system.
  • Vitamin D deficiency. The link between vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the proportionate jump in autism has been highlighted by Dr. John Cannell. Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain. I believe vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is a MAJOR contributing factor to autism, especially when you consider that vitamin D also helps in the detoxification of mercury. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, any subsequent toxic assaults—regardless of the source—will be further magnified.
  • Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from cell phones, cell towers, and Wi-Fi devices, which can trap heavy metals inside of nerve cells, accelerate heavy metal toxicity, and hinder natural detoxification processes.
  • Microbial toxins, such as mold. Children with autism not only have overwhelmed detoxification pathways and often heavy metal toxicity, but, according to Dr. Klinghardt, their bodies are also frequently beset by toxic microbes, including neuro-borreliosis, and possibly other Lyme co-infections.
  • Mercury toxicity. Pregnant mothers may inadvertently contribute to their child’s toxic load via dental amalgams, 50 percent of which are mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Healing the Gut May Be Key for the Treatment of Autism

Getting back to the issue of food, while broccoli sprouts may certainly be useful, parents of autistic children would do well to consider implementing the GAPS diet. Women planning a pregnancy can also reduce their chances of having an autistic child by paying careful attention to their gut health, along with avoiding toxic exposures of all kinds.

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, pioneered by neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who successfully reversed her son’s autism. In her research, she discovered that nearly all mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because babies inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of your baby's immune system.

Babies who develop abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems, which put them at higher risk for suffering vaccine reactions. If your baby has suboptimal gut flora, vaccines can become the proverbial "last straw" — the trigger that "primes" his/her immune system to develop chronic health problems.  This helps explain why not every child is damaged by vaccines, and why autism rates keep rising. More children are now born with elevated toxicity levels and damaged gut flora right from the start... Such is the legacy of our increasingly toxic world. Tack on a few exacerbating factors, and the child’s body simply cannot handle the onslaught.

The best way to prevent GAPS is for the mother to avoid all processed foods, sugar, antibiotics (including CAFO meats and antibacterial soaps) and birth control pills prior to conception as these cause yeast and fungi to grow and also cause leaky gut. This can then be followed by breastfeeding and avoiding the use of antibiotics during (intrapartum) and after delivering.  It’s also a good idea to make sure your baby’s microbiome is healthy before getting any vaccinations. Fortunately, it's possible to rather inexpensively identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby's life, which can help you make better-informed decisions about vaccinations, and about how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.

The entire process for identifying children who would be at risk for developing autism from a vaccine is described in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, but to sum it up, in her practice she starts out by collecting a complete health history of the parents, and their gut health is assessed. Then, within the first few days of life, the stool of the child can be analyzed to determine the state of her gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child's immune system. These tests are available in most laboratories around the world and cost a very reasonable amount, about $80 to $100 per test.

In my view, it is absolutely VITAL to perform this analysis BEFORE you consider vaccinating your child. If the test results are normal, the likelihood of autism after vaccines is dramatically reduced. If you find that your baby has abnormal gut microflora, or begins to develop symptoms of autism a year or two later, the GAPS program should be started immediately, as the younger the child is when you start the treatment, the better the results.

Broccoli-Sprout Compound May Improve Symptoms of Autism

By Dr. Mercola

Science has proven time after time that food is potent medicine.  Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it’s one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around.

For example, a compound in broccoli, glucosinolateglucoraphanin, produces a metabolite called sulforaphane that can significantly improve your blood pressure and kidney function1 by normalizing a process called DNA methylation.

Interestingly, preliminary research suggests sulforaphane may also be of particular benefit for those with autism—improving verbal communication and decreasing repetitive behaviors.

Broccoli Compound May Improve Symptoms of Autism

While limited in scope, the study still shows that food is an important part of the treatment plan for autism, and can have a significant impact on behavior. A total of 44 boys and men diagnosed with autism were enrolled in the study.

Some received sulforaphane in capsule form, while the controls received a placebo. As reported by Time Magazine:2

“The compound was chosen because it can help trigger a heat-shock response, a series of biological events that protect cells from stress during fevers; some people with autism have been known to see improvement in regard to repetitive behaviors, for example, during fevers.

Around 80 percent of the participants had a history of experiencing the ‘fever effect.’”

Positive results were observed within as little as four weeks. Communication improved, as did symptoms of hyperactivity and irritability. By the end of the 18-week study, about 50 percent of those receiving sulforaphane experienced improved ability to interact socially.

About one-third of those treated did not have any noticeable results however, so more research needs to be done to ascertain how and why the compound works in certain cases. Still, considering the many health benefits of broccoli, there’s certainly no reason to avoid it.

On the contrary, I believe part of the reason for its beneficial effect on autistic symptoms may be related to its ability to affect gene expression, inhibit certain detrimental gut bacteria, and promote detoxification of harmful environmental pollutants.

All of these factors play a role in autism, and pretty much anything that will have a beneficial effect on them is likely to be useful to some degree.

Sulforaphane Benefits Gene Expression and Gut Health

Sulforaphane is an organic sulfur compound found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, and arugula—but broccoli sprouts is the richest source.

Sulforaphane has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. It also kills cancer stem cells, which slows tumor growth. As noted earlier, it also normalizes DNA methylation, which plays a role in a number of diseases, including hypertension, kidney function,3 gut health,4 and cancer.

In simple terms, DNA methylation5 is the process by which a methyl group (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) is added to part of a DNA molecule.

This is a crucial part of normal cell function as it allows cells to “remember who they are and where they have been.” DNA methylation also suppresses viral- and other disease-related gene expression.

Sulforaphane influences bacteria as well. For example, broccoli sprouts have been shown to inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria thought to cause gastric ulcers. Interestingly, H. pylori may also play a role in autism.

It is widely known that autistic children tend to suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems, with those experiencing the worst GI problems often having the most severe cases of autism.

In one study,6 researchers analyzed the gut microflora of 20 healthy and 20 autistic children using fecal samples, and found distinct differences between the two groups.

Specifically, those with autism had reduced levels of Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae, compared to healthy children. These belong to groups of carbohydrate-degrading and/or fermenting microbes, and may be critical for healthy interactions between microbes in the gut.

The presentation below discusses the links between H. pylori and autism and language delays, noting that H. pylori can instigate leaky gut and influences genes associated with the speech disorder apraxia7 that affects many autistic children.

Other Health Benefits of Broccoli

Other research has shown that broccoli can be helpful in the prevention of:

  • Heart disease
  • UV radiation damage to your skin when applied topically8
  • Osteoarthritis9, 10, 11, 12
  • Allergies13
  • Diabetes14

The sulforaphane from broccoli plays a role in activating more than 200 different genes, which accounts for its varied effects. Fortunately, you don’t have to consume vast volumes of broccoli to reap its benefits. In one study,15 just four servings of broccoli—about 10 broccoli spears—per week was found to protect men from prostate cancer.

Broccoli Sprouts Combat Exposure to Environmental Pollutants

Another major benefit of broccoli sprouts relates to its ability to detox pollutants, as demonstrated in recent research.16, 17, 18  This is important for virtually everyone these days, but especially women planning a pregnancy. Autistic children are known to have higher levels of environmental toxins in their system, and this underlying toxic burden plays a significant role.

For example, one recent study19, 20, 21, 22 found that every one percent increase in genital malformations in newborn males within a particular US county was associated with a 283 percent increased rate in autism. According to the researchers, genital malformations are signs of exposure to harmful toxins.

The correlation between genital malformation and autism in turn offer strong support for the notion that autism is the result of parental overexposure to environmental toxins. Another study23 published last year also found that autistic children have markedly higher levels of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also had fewer healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. With regards to the detoxifying powers of broccoli sprouts, Time Magazine noted that:24

“Broccoli sprouts specifically are a source of glucoraphanin, which creates sulforaphane when chewed or swallowed. That compound accelerates the body’s ability to detoxify from various pollutants...”

The three-month long study included about 300 Chinese men and women living one of the most polluted areas of China, a rural community in the Jiangsu Province. The test group drank half a cup a day of a beverage consisting of sterilized water, pineapple and lime juice, with dissolved freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder. The control group drank the same mixture without the addition of the sprouts.

After urine and blood tests were collected and analyzed, the researchers found that the test group, who received the broccoli sprout powder, excreted far greater levels of two carcinogens. Excretion of benzene increased 61 percent, and the rate of excretion of acrolein increased by 23 percent. Benzene is usually found in car exhaust fumes, but can also be ingested via soda, where it can form from benzoate salt—used as a preservative. Acrolein forms from the breakdown of certain indoor air pollutants, from the burning of organic matter such as tobacco, and the burning of fuels like gasoline.

Factors That Likely Contribute to Autism

With autism spectrum disorder now affecting as many as one in 50 children,25 it seems reasonable to assume that there are MANY factors contributing to this problem. Evidence suggests it’s rooted in a combination of toxic overload and other aggravating factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • Gut dysbiosis, especially in combination with vaccines and their additives like mercury (thimerosal), aluminum, and others, which are known to damage your mitochondria—the powerhouses in your body’s cells that produce energy. Your gastrointestinal system is often referred to as your “second brain,” containing some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system.
  • Vitamin D deficiency. The link between vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the proportionate jump in autism has been highlighted by Dr. John Cannell. Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain. I believe vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is a MAJOR contributing factor to autism, especially when you consider that vitamin D also helps in the detoxification of mercury. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, any subsequent toxic assaults—regardless of the source—will be further magnified.
  • Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from cell phones, cell towers, and Wi-Fi devices, which can trap heavy metals inside of nerve cells, accelerate heavy metal toxicity, and hinder natural detoxification processes.
  • Microbial toxins, such as mold. Children with autism not only have overwhelmed detoxification pathways and often heavy metal toxicity, but, according to Dr. Klinghardt, their bodies are also frequently beset by toxic microbes, including neuro-borreliosis, and possibly other Lyme co-infections.
  • Mercury toxicity. Pregnant mothers may inadvertently contribute to their child’s toxic load via dental amalgams, 50 percent of which are mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Healing the Gut May Be Key for the Treatment of Autism

Getting back to the issue of food, while broccoli sprouts may certainly be useful, parents of autistic children would do well to consider implementing the GAPS diet. Women planning a pregnancy can also reduce their chances of having an autistic child by paying careful attention to their gut health, along with avoiding toxic exposures of all kinds.

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, pioneered by neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who successfully reversed her son’s autism. In her research, she discovered that nearly all mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because babies inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of your baby's immune system.

Babies who develop abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems, which put them at higher risk for suffering vaccine reactions. If your baby has suboptimal gut flora, vaccines can become the proverbial "last straw" — the trigger that "primes" his/her immune system to develop chronic health problems.  This helps explain why not every child is damaged by vaccines, and why autism rates keep rising. More children are now born with elevated toxicity levels and damaged gut flora right from the start... Such is the legacy of our increasingly toxic world. Tack on a few exacerbating factors, and the child’s body simply cannot handle the onslaught.

The best way to prevent GAPS is for the mother to avoid all processed foods, sugar, antibiotics (including CAFO meats and antibacterial soaps) and birth control pills prior to conception as these cause yeast and fungi to grow and also cause leaky gut. This can then be followed by breastfeeding and avoiding the use of antibiotics during (intrapartum) and after delivering.  It’s also a good idea to make sure your baby’s microbiome is healthy before getting any vaccinations. Fortunately, it's possible to rather inexpensively identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby's life, which can help you make better-informed decisions about vaccinations, and about how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.

The entire process for identifying children who would be at risk for developing autism from a vaccine is described in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, but to sum it up, in her practice she starts out by collecting a complete health history of the parents, and their gut health is assessed. Then, within the first few days of life, the stool of the child can be analyzed to determine the state of her gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child's immune system. These tests are available in most laboratories around the world and cost a very reasonable amount, about $80 to $100 per test.

In my view, it is absolutely VITAL to perform this analysis BEFORE you consider vaccinating your child. If the test results are normal, the likelihood of autism after vaccines is dramatically reduced. If you find that your baby has abnormal gut microflora, or begins to develop symptoms of autism a year or two later, the GAPS program should be started immediately, as the younger the child is when you start the treatment, the better the results.