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Mercola Natural Health Articles Get a healthy dose of natural health news that you can actually use! In this podcast, Dr. Joseph Mercola provides you with practical lifestyle tips and important health alerts. Dr. Mercola is an internationally renowned natural health physician and a doctor of osteopathy. He has made significant milestones in his mission to bring people practical solutions to their health problems. A New York Times Best Selling Author, Dr. Mercola is author of The No-Grain Diet and Take Control of Your Health. He has also been featured in TIME magazine, LA Times, CNN, Fox News, ABC News with Peter Jennings, Today Show and other major media resources. To know more about him visit www.mercola.com.

  • Get Proper Sleep Nightly
    published on January 17th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    Lack of sleep has been scientifically linked to a wide array of health problems and is so common, it’s been identified as a public health epidemic by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A review of hundreds of sleep studies concluded that, as a general rule, most adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours — or right around eight hours — of sleep per night to maintain good health.

    Your body, indeed every organ and even individual cells, contains biological “clocks” that regulate everything from metabolism to psychological functioning. Even half your genes have been shown to be under circadian control, turning on and off in cyclical waves.

    All of these body clocks are synchronized to your master circadian clock, situated in your brain, which in turn is synchronized to the rising and setting of the sun, provided you don’t confuse it with artificial lighting at night and/or insufficient sunlight during the day, that is. Over the long term, skimping on sleep — which is a surefire way to dysregulate your circadian body clock — can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems.

    Lack of Sleep Puts Your Health at Risk

    Research has shown that insufficient sleep and/or poor quality sleep can increase your risk for:

    Accidents at work and on the road

    Getting less than six hours of sleep leaves you cognitively impaired. In 2013, drowsy drivers caused 72,000 car accidents in which 800 Americans were killed and 44,000 were injured.1 Even a single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.

    Weight gain

    Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night has been shown to raise your risk of weight gain by increasing levels of appetite-inducing hormones.2


    One 2015 study3 linked "excessive daytime sleepiness" with a 56 percent increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.


    More than half of people diagnosed with depression also struggle with insomnia. While it was long thought that insomnia was a symptom of depression, it now seems that insomnia may precede depression in some cases.4 About 70 percent of those with sleep apnea, whose sleep is repeatedly disrupted throughout the night, also tend to suffer from symptoms of depression.5

    Impaired memory formation and increased risk of memory loss6

    Sleep is essential not just for cementing events into long-term memory but also for making sense of your life. During sleep, your brain pulls together and extracts meaning, while discarding unimportant details. In fact, sleep increases your ability to gain insights that would otherwise remain elusive by about 250 percent.

    So, during sleep, part of your brain is busy stabilizing, enhancing and integrating new memories. It’s also extracting rules, and the “gist” of what’s happening in your life. Reduced productivity at work and poor grades in school are other associated side effects of insufficient sleep. Creativity is also diminished.

    Impaired sexual function7

    Chronic diseases

    Sleep deprivation decreases your immune function,8 which can have a snowball effect, raising your risk for cardiovascular disease,9,10 Alzheimer’s11 and cancer, just to name a few. In the case of cancer, another critical mechanism involved is disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone with antioxidant and anticancer activity.

    It both inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells and triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Melatonin also interferes with the new blood supply tumors required for their rapid growth (angiogenesis). A number of studies have shown that night shift workers are at heightened risk of cancer for this reason.

    Are You Sleep Deprived?

    Daytime sleepiness is typically a tipoff that you’re not getting enough sleep, but sometimes signs of sleep deprivation may be less obvious. The late Nathaniel Kleitman, Ph.D., professor emeritus in physiology at the University of Chicago and a well-recognized pioneer in sleep research,12 developed a “sleep onset latency test,” to determine if you're sleep deprived. Here's how it works:13

    1. In the early afternoon, grab a spoon and head off to your darkened bedroom to take a nap. Place a metal tray on the floor beside your bed and hold the spoon over the tray as you attempt to fall asleep. Be sure to check the time as you lay down. (If you don't have a spoon and metal tray handy, you can still take this test by setting an alarm for 15 minutes to see if you fall asleep before it goes off.)

    2. When you fall asleep and the spoon crashes down onto the tray, waking you up, immediately check the time again and note how much time has passed.

    If you fell asleep within five minutes, it means you're severely sleep deprived.

    If it took you 10 minutes to fall asleep, you could still use more sleep.

    If you managed to stay awake for 15 minutes or more before falling asleep, you're probably well rested.

    Improve Your Sleep and Health by Adopting a Neutral Sleeping Position

    While sleep problems can be caused or exacerbated by a number of different factors, many of which are covered in “Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed,” three of particular importance — primarily because they’re so frequently overlooked — are your sleep position, light pollution and exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

    In the video above, chiropractor and exercise physiologist Dr. Peter Martone discusses the benefits of adopting a neutral sleeping position. If you’re a side- or stomach sleeper and find yourself frequently tossing and turning at night and/or wake up with aches and pains, your sleeping position may be a primary culprit. As noted by Martone, for sound, healthy sleep, you need to sleep on your back, with your neck and spine in a neutral position.

    The key to achieving this is to prop a pillow under your neck, not your head, as this allows you to maintain a proper spinal curve. For a demonstration on how to use your pillow to support your neck rather than simply elevating your head, please see the video.

    If you’re unaccustomed to sleeping on your back, this change will take some getting used to. So, go slow, and give yourself ample time to adjust. In the beginning, you may only be able to remain on your back for a few minutes at a time. You may even experience more pain rather than less when you first start out.

    This is my preferred sleep position ever since Peter taught it to me. I also tape my mouth shut with paper tape before I go to sleep to prevent myself from breathing through my mouth. Mouth breathing is something you’ll want to avoid, but it’s hard to do when you are unconscious.

    In Martone’s experience, it takes an average of three to four months to convert from a side sleeper to a back sleeper, and even longer if you’re used to sleeping on your stomach. In addition to the video above, you can also find a number of helpful techniques on his website, www.AtlantisWellness.com/sleep.

    I converted to sleeping exclusively on my back several months ago and really enjoy it. It’s certainly not the only way to improve your sleep (and health), but it may be worth considering if frequent tossing and turning is disrupting your sleep. 

    Conquer Light Pollution to Improve Sleep

    Light pollution is another major contributor to poor sleep quality. By disrupting your circadian clock and impairing melatonin secretion, light exposure at night will affect the length, depth and overall quality of your sleep. Electronic screens are major sleep thieves, robbing you of the ability to fall asleep quickly.

    Research has shown that the more time you spend on electronic devices during the day, and especially at night, the longer it takes to fall asleep and the less sleep you get overall.14,15 Teenagers who used electronic devices such as MP3 players, video games, tablets, smartphones and/or computers for more than five hours a day were 3.5 times more likely to get fewer than five hours of sleep per night. They were also 49 percent more likely to need more than an hour to actually fall asleep.

    Aside from electronic screens, LEDs and fluorescent lights are particularly troublesome as they emit blue light that is not balanced by red and near infrared frequencies.16 Importantly, LEDs may promote age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. To learn more about this, please see my interview with Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology.

    Incandescent lights emit red and near infrared wavelengths and very little in the blue wavelengths, making them a far healthier type of lighting. Just beware of the light intensity, as too bright a light can cause problems even if it’s well-balanced. Once the sun has set, the lower the light in your home the better. Candlelight is ideal. Salt lamps are another option that will not have an adverse impact on your health and sleep quality.

    If you choose to watch TV after sunset, then you must be particularly cautious as most new TVs are “smart,” meaning they communicate wirelessly by Wi-Fi and it is impossible to turn off. Fortunately, there is a simple solution. You can use a computer monitor for your screen, which does not have a Wi-Fi signal.

    Even better would be to watch TV through a computer that is hooked up with a wired Ethernet and is in airplane mode. The advantage of doing this is that you can use a blue light screen blocker. Iris is the absolute best one and I have used it for many years.

    If you use Iris at night, you won’t need blue blocking glasses. If you are unable to hook your monitor to a TV, then you will need to use the glasses. While blue light blockers work, glasses with red lenses actually work even better, as they not only block blue light but also yellow and green.

    Avoid Nighttime EMF to Bolster Sleep Quality and Health

    Another factor that can have a significant impact on your sleep quality and health is EMFs emitted from wiring and electronic devices. This is true regardless of the time of your exposure, but it’s particularly problematic at night:

    • There’s evidence showing EMF exposure reduces melatonin production,17 making it particularly important to eliminate EMFs in your bedroom. As mentioned, melatonin not only regulates your sleep-waking cycle; it’s also a powerful antioxidant, and low levels have been repeatedly linked to an increased risk of cancer.18
    • Sleep is the most important time for your brain, as its detoxification processes occur only during deep sleep. During deep sleep, your brain's glymphatic system is activated, allowing it to detoxify and eliminate accumulated waste products, including amyloid-beta proteins, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. EMF exposure has also been linked to neuronal changes that affect memory and your ability to learn.19
    • EMFs harm your body’s mitochondria by producing excessive oxidative damage, so “marinating” in EMFs all night, every night, can cause or contribute to virtually any chronic ailment, including premature aging.

    One of the easiest ways to avoid or radically limit your nighttime electric field exposure from the wiring in your room is to pull the circuit breaker to your bedroom before going to bed. You can have an electrician install a remote breaker for convenience, which is what I have done. This will virtually eliminate electric fields in your bedroom, unless you have adjacent rooms with wiring in them, in which case you will need to measure the electric fields with a meter after you shut off the power to see if it goes into the lowest range.  

    If your building code requires electrical wiring to be in a conduit, you’re in luck, as this means all you need to do to eliminate this radiation is to unplug any electronic equipment or lighting.

    Another really important step is to turn off your Wi-Fi at night. It would be best to hard wire your home so you have no Wi-Fi 24/7 in your home, but I realize many are unwilling or unable to take this step. Please, don’t justify that it doesn’t make a difference because your neighbor has their Wi-Fi on all the time.

    It’s important to realize that the Wi-Fi in your home is nearly always more of a danger to you than what’s coming from outside your home. You can confirm this by measuring the microwave signals with a meter, and see what your exposure is.

    Emergency Sleep Remedies

    If you’re currently not sleeping enough, or getting poor quality sleep, your chief aim would be to a) make sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of sleep each night by going to bed earlier, and b) addressing any and all factors that prevent you from falling asleep quickly and staying asleep throughout the night, including your sleep position, light pollution and EMF exposure discussed above.

    For even more tips on how to improve your sleep quality, see “Nobel Prize-Winning Science Highlights Importance of Good Sleep for Health.” In the short term, you could try a gentle sleep aid while implementing more permanent lifestyle and/or environmental changes. Natural sleep remedies that may help you get a good night’s sleep include:

    • Melatonin. Start with as little as 0.25 milligrams (mg) and work your way up in quarter-gram increments from there until you get the desired effect.
    • Valerian root. Studies have found valerian root helps improve the speed at which you fall asleep, depth of sleep (achieving deep sleep 36 percent faster20) and overall quality of sleep.21 Start with a minimal dose and use the lowest dose needed to achieve the desired effect, as higher dosages can have an energizing effect in some people. Typical dosages used in studies range between 400 mg and 900 mg, taken anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before bed.
    • Chamomile. This herb is typically used in the form of infusions, teas, liquid extracts or essential oils made from the plant's fresh or dried flower heads. It has sedative effects that may help with sleep, which is why chamomile tea is often sipped before bed.
    • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). The chemical 5-HTP promotes production of serotonin, thereby giving mood a boost and enhancing sleep. In one study, an amino acid preparation containing both GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) and 5-HTP reduced time to fall asleep, increased the duration of sleep and improved sleep quality.22

    Take Control of Your Health by Making Sleep a Priority

    In a world where technology facilitates and even encourages around-the-clock activity and connectivity, it becomes an individual responsibility to protect your health by setting boundaries and creating your own rules for when and how you’re going to be “connected.” Sleep is one of the foundation pillars of optimal health; you sacrifice it at great risk to your mental, emotional and physical well-being. So, if you’re not getting enough quality sleep, start by addressing the basics:

    Make sure you go to bed early enough.

    Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning and/or around solar noon to “set” your master clock, and to avoid blue light exposure after sunset for the same reason.23 Blue-blocking glasses can be used to counteract artificial lighting and electronic screens.

    Sleep in complete darkness (use blackout shades or an eye mask). Research24 reveals even dim light exposure during sleep can affect your cognition the next day.

    Find your ideal temperature for sleeping. Studies suggest the optimal temperature for sleep is quite a bit cooler than many realize — between 60 and 68 degrees F. Temperatures above or below this tend to increase restlessness. Something as simple as sleeping naked may do the trick if you don’t want to crank down the temperature on your air conditioning. One of the established benefits of sleeping in the buff is improved sleep quality, in part by preventing overheating.

    One study showed a surface skin temperature difference of as little as 0.08 degrees F (or 0.4 degrees C) led to sounder sleep.25,26,27 Studies have also found sleeping in the nude has several other health benefits, including improved metabolism and blood circulation.

    Make your bedroom an EMF-free zone to optimize nighttime brain detoxification and protect your mitochondrial health.

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  • Your Ultimate Guide to Optimal Fitness
    published on January 17th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

  • Depression Not Caused by Chemical Imbalance
    published on January 17th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Do you know what causes depression? Many people would respond that it’s due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance theory has been widely promoted by drug companies and psychiatrists alike, to the extent that it’s accepted as fact. The glaring problem is that the chemical imbalance theory is just that — a theory — and worse still, it’s a theory that has been largely discredited.

    The theory was first proposed by scientists in the 1960s after it appeared certain antidepressant drugs worked by altering brain chemicals, but it was stated that “the findings are inconclusive.”1 Yet, the theory was proposed at a time when treating mental illness via psychoanalysis was falling out of favor while viewing it as tied to a physical or biological mechanism was in vogue.

    The idea quickly spread, becoming the medical dogma for depression, despite concrete evidence proving its worth. “The fact that practicing physicians and leaders of science bought that idea, to me, is so disturbing,” Steve Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, told Quartz.2 The news outlet continued:

    “It’s not hard to see why the theory caught on: It suited psychiatrists’ newfound attempt to create a system of mental health that mirrored diagnostic models used in other fields of medicine. The focus on a clear biological cause for depression gave practicing physicians an easily understandable theory to tell patients about how their disease was being treated.”3

    Prozac, Zoloft Bring Chemical Imbalance Theory for Depression to the Mainstream

    The release of the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) in the late 1980s was a game changer for depression treatment in that the drug’s maker, Eli Lilly, heavily promoted the chemical balance theory as a marketing gimmick to sell the drug. With fewer side effects than some of the earlier antidepressants, Prozac became a blockbuster drug and the poster child for the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants, which target the neurotransmitter serotonin.

    “There was, of course, no demonstrable evidence showing that depressed patients had any imbalance, but Lilly ran with it,” Psychology Today noted. “Before long, psychiatrists and psychiatric patients alike came to identify with the idea that mental disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.”4

    Zoloft (sertraline), another SSRI, was another major player in spreading and perpetuating the chemical balance theory, with their television ads going so far as to say, “While the causes are unknown, depression may be related to an imbalance of natural chemicals between nerve cells in the brain. Prescription Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.”5

    It’s important to note that in the time since Prozac flooded the market, depression still remains poorly treated, despite a plethora of new antidepressant options to choose from. SSRIs work by preventing the reuptake (movement back into the nerve endings) of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

    This makes more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood since low serotonin levels are said to lead to depression. Yet, as written in the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, it’s a largely disproven theory:6

    “Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Indeed their supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory. But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by the drug companies reveal that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect.

    Some antidepressants increase serotonin levels, some decrease it, and some have no effect at all on serotonin … The serotonin theory is as close to any theory in the history of science having been proved wrong.”

    Harvard: Depression ‘More Complex’ Than a Brain Chemical Imbalance

    It’s quite possible that people who are depressed may have an imbalance of certain chemicals in their brain. But to speculate that that imbalance is the cause of their symptoms is overly simplistic. For instance, it’s known that psychological stress can cause biological changes in the brain, including a reduction in the size of the hippocampus, which is used for learning and memory.7 In turn, it’s known that some people with depression have a smaller-than-average hippocampus.8

    “Evidence of biological changes correlating with environmental stressors is vastly different from evidence that mental illnesses are ‘caused’ by biological deficits,” scientists wrote in a 2008 report on the chemical imbalance theory,9 and this is an important point. Even Harvard Medical School acknowledges that while brain chemicals may play a role in your mood, it is not accurate to suggest that one being too high or too low is at the root of depression. They state:10

    “Research suggests that depression doesn't spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.

    It's believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression … There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.”

    One theory posits, for instance, that stress could be a major contributor to depression because it suppresses the production of new neurons in the hippocampus. In order to feel better, people with depression may need to increase neurogenesis (the generation of new neurons), which takes weeks.

    This would explain why many people who take antidepressants don’t notice any improvement for several weeks.11 If the action was really on neurotransmitters, the patient should feel better right away when levels increase. Instead, triggering the growth of neurons could be the secret, which is a process that can be triggered naturally via exercise.

    Believing Depression Is Caused by Chemical Imbalance Worsens Outcomes

    Aside from the serious implications of prescribing drugs under a false premise, the chemical balance theory is also dangerous in that it takes away ownership from the patient. If a person feels a chemical imbalance in their brain is to blame for their depression, they may believe taking medications is the only option to feel better. According to Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University in Virginia, upon “buying into a biomedical explanation for their depression:”12

    “They become pessimistic that recovery is possible. They become less confident that they can manage and regulate negative moods that arise (and they always do). The notion that depression is their brain's fault does not lessen the stigma or self-blame one bit.

    And they no longer believe that psychotherapy is a credible or useful strategy for treating their depression and instead, are ready to be dispensed a pill cure. Essentially, they become less flexible in their options for treating depression and less confident that they will escape its clutches.”

    Indeed, a 2014 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy revealed just that — attributing depressive symptoms to a chemical imbalance made people more pessimistic about their prognosis and led them to believe that drugs would be more effective than psychotherapy.13 At the same time, they still felt the same amount of self-blame. It’s important to note that feeling depressed is not anyone’s fault, nor should they feel blamed for or ashamed of their feelings.

    However, pinning its cause on a chemical imbalance is likely to worsen outcomes rather than improve them. It’s a vicious cycle as well, because the chemical imbalance theory makes people assume that medications are the best course of treatment. But here again research has shown that people with depression who are treated with medication have poorer long-term outcomes compared to those who are not.14

    Antidepressants Work No Better Than Placebo

    Nearly 7 percent of U.S adults suffered from a depressive episode in the past year15 while, worldwide, 350 million people suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability.16 Despite this, only about one-third of Americans with depression get treated,17 which puts the remaining two-thirds left untreated at increased risk of suicide and with a lower quality of life.

    That said, the antidepressant drugs that are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance in the brain are largely ineffective, which means that even when some people attempt to get treatment, they’re left suffering. Studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression.18

    Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, has conducted meta-analyses of antidepressants in comparison to placebo and has concluded that there’s virtually no difference in their effectiveness, noting, “The difference is so small, it’s not of any clinical importance.”19 What is different, however, is the potential for side effects, which is far greater among antidepressants than placebos.

    For instance, antidepressant users have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,20 even after adjusting for other risk factors, like body mass index (BMI).21 Antidepressant use has also been linked to thicker arteries, which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.

    The results of a study of 513 twin veterans, presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans in 2011, found that antidepressant use resulted in greater carotid intima-media thickness (the lining of the main arteries in your neck that feed blood to your brain).22

    This was true both for SSRIs and antidepressants that affect other brain chemicals. Further, the use of antidepressants is also associated with an increased risk of heart attack, specifically for users of tricyclic antidepressants, who have a 36 percent increased risk of heart attack.23

    Meanwhile, the drugs are also linked to dementia, with researchers noting “treatment with SSRIs, MAOIs, heterocyclic antidepressants, and other antidepressants was associated with an increased risk of dementia,” and as the dose increased, so too did the risk.24

    The drugs are also known to deplete various nutrients from your body, including coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12 — in the case of tricyclic antidepressants — which are needed for proper mitochondrial function. SSRIs may deplete iodine and folate,25 and you’re even more likely to relapse if you’re treated with antidepressants than if you’re treated via other methods, including placebo or exercise.26,27 Given the lack of effectiveness and the risks involved, Kirsch and colleagues concluded:28

    “When different treatments are equally effective, choice should be based on risk and harm, and of all of these treatments, antidepressant drugs are the riskiest and most harmful. If they are to be used at all, it should be as a last resort, when depression is extremely severe and all other treatment alternatives have been tried and failed.”

    Alternative Treatments for Depression

    If the chemical imbalance theory is false, the case for choosing antidepressants as a first-line treatment for depression is incredibly weak. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to drugs for treating depression, including nutritional interventions, light therapy, exercise and more. If you’re struggling with depression, you needn’t suffer in silence. Seek help, from a counselor, a holistic psychiatrist or another natural health practitioner to start the journey toward healing.

    That said, if you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis. If you’re in a place where you feel you can begin to make positive changes, here are some of the top alternative treatments for depression to consider:

    Exercise. Those who didn’t exercise were 44 percent more likely to become depressed compared to those who did so for at least one to two hours a week.29

    Light therapy. Light therapy alone and placebo were both more effective than Prozac for the treatment of moderate to severe depression in an eight-week-long study.30

    Omega-3 fats, which have been shown to lead to improvements in major depressive disorder.31 Make sure you're getting enough omega-3s in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, or a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement.

    Optimize your vitamin D levels, another factor linked to depression32

    Magnesium. Magnesium supplements led to improvements in mild-to-moderate depression in adults, with beneficial effects occurring within two weeks of treatment.33

    B vitamins. Low levels of B vitamins are common in patients with depression, while vitamin B supplements have been shown to improve symptoms.34

    Mindfulness meditation35 and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). In a study of 30 moderately to severely depressed college students, the depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.36

    Cognitive behavioral therapy, which works as well as antidepressants and may reduce your risk of relapse even after it’s stopped.37

    Limit sugar. Men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years than those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day.38

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  • Friendly User's Guide for the Timing of Nutritional Supplements
    published on January 16th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    According to an investigation published in JAMA in 2016, 52 percent of American adults reported using nutritional supplements in 2012, a statistic that has remained stable since 1999.1 While the use of multivitamins has decreased somewhat, from 37 to 31 percent in that timeframe, use of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements have dramatically increased.

    Vitamin D use jumped from just over 5 percent to 19 percent, and fish oil supplements increased from just over 1 percent to 12 percent. Among the most popular supplements are probiotics, omega-3, multivitamins, vitamin C, turmeric, calcium and magnesium.2 In all, Americans spent an estimated $21 billion on nutritional supplements in 2015.3

    While dietary supplements are generally safe, when and how you take them — such as with or without food, or before or after exercise4 — can make a difference both in terms of safety and effectiveness. Certain supplements may also be contraindicated for certain health conditions or if you’re taking a particular drug. Following, you’ll find helpful guidance on the use of common supplements, including many sold in my online store.

    Quick Guide to the Timing of Supplements

    taking supplements users guide

    >>>>> Click Here <<<<<

    On the Timing of Vitamins and Minerals

    Since multivitamins contain an array of both water- and fat-soluble vitamins, and in some cases minerals as well, it’s generally recommended you take half of your daily dose in the morning, with breakfast, and the other half with your main meal (dinner for most people, or lunch if you’re intermittently fasting). While you may not notice any ill effects if you take it on an empty stomach, taking your multivitamins with food is a safer bet overall.

    Both B vitamins and nonliposomal vitamin C may cause stomach upset and nausea when taken on an empty stomach, for example, and fat-soluble vitamins will do you little good unless you take them with a small amount of fat, such as an egg or half an avocado. Avoid going overboard on the fat, however, as too much grease can interfere with the absorption of water-based vitamins.

    When taking individual vitamins and minerals, you may need to pay attention not only to the timing of them, but also their combination with other supplements you’re taking, and their ideal ratios. For example:

    Fat-soluble vitamin K2 is best taken with your largest meal that contains fat. This could be during the day or at your evening meal. Calcium can be taken during the day but magnesium is best taken at night, without food. Unfortunately, the ideal ratio of vitamin K2 to D is still undetermined, so there are no hard and fast rules here. Some experts suggest 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day will meet the needs of the “average” healthy person, but if you’re taking high-dose vitamin D, you’ll need a bit more.5

    While nontoxic, people who are taking vitamin K antagonists, i.e., drugs that reduce blood clotting by reducing the action of vitamin K, are advised to avoid vitamin K2 (MK-7) supplements.

    Zinc, on the other hand, should not be taken with a calcium and/or iron supplement, as these may hinder your body’s absorption of zinc.

    Similarly, avoid taking calcium or vitamin E with iron, as these nutrients interfere with iron absorption. Iron is also best taken on an empty stomach, either in the midmorning or midafternoon.6

    Magnesium, which is one of the most important minerals to supplement with as most all of us are deficient, helps your body relax, is best taken in the evening, and can be taken with or without food. If you’re also taking calcium, take them together.

    If you exercise regularly, consider taking your calcium and magnesium in a ratio of one part calcium to two parts magnesium with your pre-workout meal.7 While the ideal ratio of magnesium to calcium is thought to be 1-to-1, most people get far more calcium than magnesium from their diet; hence, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

    Oral B12, which tends to be poorly absorbed no matter what, is best taken on an empty stomach to optimize absorption. This is less of an issue if you are using a sublingual form of B12. B12 may interact with a variety of medications,8 including those for bone loss, cancer, gout, high blood pressure and acid indigestion, such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, so check for contraindications before you start taking it on a regular basis.

    Timing of Fats and Fiber Supplements

    Fiber may inhibit your body’s absorption of fat, so most fiber supplements, including “green” supplements like powdered spirulina and kelp, are best taken separately from any fatty acid supplements you may be taking. If you’re working out, remember that fiber supplements will slow the movement of food through your stomach and intestines.

    For this reason, fiber is best taken at least three or four hours before exercise or competition. Alternatively, take it toward the end of the day. Whole husk psyllium, which is an excellent fiber supplement, is ideally taken two hours after a meal with a full glass of water.

    As for omega-3 supplements such as fish- or krill oil, these could potentially cause indigestion if taken immediately before a workout, so consider taking them with breakfast, along with any multivitamin you may be taking. Also keep in mind that krill oil supplements are contraindicated for those allergic to shellfish, and neither fish nor krill oil should be taken if you have a blood coagulation disorder or are on anticoagulant medication.

    Timing of Enzymes and Probiotics

    Enzymes such as bromelain, papain, trypsin and others are used not only as digestive aids but also for enhancing muscle recovery and decreasing inflammation. Depending on your aim, you’ll need to alter the timing. When taken with a meal, they will improve your digestion. For muscle enhancement and/or anti-inflammatory effects, you’ll want to take them on an empty stomach post-workout, either in the morning or afternoon.

    Probiotics help improve your gut microbiome by supplying beneficial bacteria. They are best taken on an empty stomach, two to three hours before your first meal, or after your final meal for the day. Also remember that to reap the benefits from a probiotic supplement, you need to reduce your intake of processed foods and sugar. Otherwise, you’re essentially just throwing your money away.

    On the Timing of Antioxidants

    As a general rule, antioxidant supplements such as resveratrol, astaxanthin, vitamin E and ubiquinol (the reduced version of Coenzyme Q10) are fat soluble and best taken with a fatty meal. Ubiquinol is best taken in divided doses with a fatty meal while, vitamin E and astaxanthin can be taken once a day with a fatty meal to increase absorption. Resveratrol-containing supplements such as Purple Defense can be taken on an empty stomach.

    If you’re an athlete, or work out regularly, several studies have shown that taking antioxidant supplements immediately prior to exercise has the curious effect of decreasing insulin sensitivity. It also hampers your body’s ability to defend itself against oxidative damage. As noted by Ben Greenfield:9

    “By shutting down the body’s need to for natural antioxidant activity that helps adapt to stress and respond to exercise, antioxidant consumption in high doses of a single isolated antioxidant (like vitamin C or vitamin E) could potentially blunt the workout benefit.

    For this reason, antioxidant beverages and capsules should be A) full spectrum …  and B) consumed only in moderation, and not as a consistent part of the pre-workout or during workout nutrition protocol. Take-Away Message: Take antioxidants with a pre-race meal, and only before very difficult workouts. Otherwise, limit antioxidants to low to moderate intake only, and attempt to consume as far as possible from an exercise session.”

    Do You Really Need All the Supplements You’re Taking?

    As a general rule, the better and more wholesome your diet, the fewer supplements you will need. Eating real food, ideally organically grown to avoid pesticide exposure, is really the most appropriate way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs. Vegetarians and vegans, who may think they’re eating the best diet possible, are perhaps among the few who actually have to pay really close attention to their nutritional needs, as many important nutrients are only found in animal foods.

    The animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA are just one example. B12 is another really important one that vegans forgo, which can wreak havoc on your health. Over time, chronic B12 deficiency can lead to serious, irreversible conditions, including depression, dementia, neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, fertility problems, heart disease and cancer — all the things a vegan diet is thought to prevent.

    That said, dietary supplements can be quite beneficial if you know or suspect you might have a particular deficiency, and/or if you’re trying to address a particular health problem. Just keep in mind that the more supplements you take, the more complicated it gets to get it right. Are you taking each one at the most appropriate time and in the correct combination — and in the proper ratio — with other nutrients?

    Eating a whole food diet circumvents most of these issues, as your body knows exactly what to do with the nutrients it obtains from food, regardless of the hour or combination (although a case can be made for food combinations and ideal meal times as well). If you’re taking handfuls of supplements but still eat mostly processed foods, make this the year you start making changes.

    My Nutritional Plan, which is available online free of charge, can guide you through it step-by-step. The money you spend on supplements may provide far greater benefits if spent on real food instead.

    That said, to ensure you’re getting the most from the supplements you do take, make a list, and check the best timing and combination of each one. While I’ve given you a few examples above, you’ll find more examples in the infographics provided at the beginning of this article, and below.

    taking supplements users guide daytime nighttime

    >>>>> Click Here <<<<<

     Comments (86)

  • Eat Your Way to Good Health With These Delicious Recipes
    published on January 16th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

  • How Alcohol Damages Your DNA
    published on January 16th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, just over 26 percent of people over 18 reported binge drinking in the previous 30 days of the study when it was performed in 2015.1 Another 7 percent reported heavy alcohol use. This is congruent with the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report showing that substance abuse in the U.S. is skyrocketing, including alcohol abuse.2

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol poisoning kills six people every day.3 These are deaths related to short-term consumption of toxic amounts of alcohol that leads to central nervous system depression and shutdown in critical areas of the brain controlling breathing, heart rate and body temperature, ultimately resulting in death.4 This statistic does not address other negative effects alcohol has on your health.

    In addition to being a central nervous system depressant, alcohol is a carbohydrate lacking in real nutritional value. Nearly one-third of Americans are obese and according to the CDC, in 2014 there was no state in the U.S. with a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.5

    Although scientists have found associations between alcohol consumption and negative health conditions such as pancreatitis and stomach cancer, what has been missing is the precise nature in which alcohol damages your body. New research shows that as your body processes alcohol, a transient toxic compound is produced that attacks DNA.6

    Alcohol Damages DNA and Increases Risk for Cancer

    The research7 demonstrated the effect alcohol had on blood stem cells in mice. The researchers gave ethanol to mice and then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to study genetic damage on the body by acetaldehyde, produced during the metabolic processing of alcohol.

    The researchers from Cambridge University’s MRS Laboratory of Molecular Biology found a buildup of acetaldehyde happened when there is too much for the body to break down, or when mechanisms to reduce acetaldehyde function poorly.8

    While previous research had pinpointed acetaldehyde as the culprit that caused DNA damage, those studies were performed on cell cultures and not on a living body. However, the evidence was strong enough to prompt the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, their highest risk category.9 The researchers chose to study blood stem cells since they quickly replicate and readily spread genetic damage throughout the body.10 

    Lead author Dr. Ketan Patel commented on the extent of the damage their data revealed, saying:11 "We saw huge amounts of DNA damage in these cells. Bits of DNA were deleted, bits were broken and we even saw parts of chromosomes being moved about and rearranged."

    The researchers found acetaldehyde breaks and damages DNA in blood cell stem cells, leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering DNA sequences.12 This DNA damage increases your risk for seven types of cancer, including breast and bowel cancer. Patel explained:13

    "Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage."

    The study also examined the body’s ability to protect itself from acetaldehyde and identified a family of enzymes that break the compound down into acetate, which your cells can use for energy. However, millions of people, especially those of Southeast Asian descent, either don’t have these enzymes, or the enzymes are faulty.14 This increases their risk of acetaldehyde accumulation, triggering greater DNA damage and a flushed face.

    A second line of defense is a repair mechanism that helps repair DNA. However, Patel has found this doesn’t always work, and some individuals carry mutations in the mechanism.15 Data has revealed the number of deaths related to alcohol consumption and cancer has increased 62 percent in 12 years, rising from 3.6 percent in 2003 to 5.8 percent of deaths worldwide in 2015.16 Patel went on to say:17

    "Our study highlights that not being able to process alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA damage and therefore certain cancers. But it's important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defense mechanisms are intact."

    Factors That Influence Your Tolerance to Alcohol

    There are several ways alcohol may influence your risk of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society warns just a few drinks each week can increase your risk of breast cancer.18 The risk is higher in women who have low folate levels. Alcohol affects your hormones and an increased estrogen level triggered by alcohol is linked to breast cancer. Hormone levels are also affected in men, which can lead to infertility.19

    Alcohol’s effect on your body is influenced by your body weight, ratio of muscle to fat, and how much and what kind of food you’ve recently eaten. Alcohol is one of the more addictive substances, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates 1 in 12 Americans abuse alcohol or are dependent on the drug.20

    Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S. and up to 40 percent of hospital beds are used to treat alcohol related conditions, with the exception of maternity and ICU beds.

    Your pattern of consumption doesn’t appear to make a difference in the severity of your symptoms.21 Those who binge drink every week or two suffer some of the same conditions as those who drink daily. Dr. Alex Wodak, emeritus consultant at the Alcohol and Drug Service in Sydney Australia’s St. Vincent Hospital, describes the differences:22

    "I’ve been in France early in morning and people, generally men, order a coffee and have a nip of brandy or whiskey, and they top up regularly during the day. They’re never intoxicated but there’s a formidable physical toll from all of that.

    In the north of Europe, that kind of drinking style is very uncommon and what’s more common is for people to have two-thirds of a bottle of spirits once a week and they set fire to a soccer stadium or slash train seats or belt their wife up or someone in the street they don’t like the look of."

    Since alcohol is a carbohydrate, it not only damages your liver and raises levels of DNA-damaging acetaldehyde, but it also increases your risk of obesity. Health care costs tied to overconsumption of sugar account for at least one-third of health care costs spent each year in America.23 This equates to nearly $1 trillion each year. An increase in weight is linked to osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and gout, just to name a few.

    Alcohol Affects More Than DNA

    Alcohol triggers changes in more than your DNA, affecting nearly every cell and organ system in your body. In your brain, alcohol affects your limbic system that controls your emotions, which is why alcohol lowers your inhibitions. Your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows in response to alcohol, leading to more impulsive behavior and poor judgment. Chronically, in as little as one month, you may experience:24,25,26

    • Increased liver stiffness, which increases your risk of liver cirrhosis.
    • Diminished memory formation due to ethanol buildup in the brain. This is why you may not remember what you did while you were drunk. Alcohol also causes your hippocampus to shrink, which affects memory and learning.
    • Systemic inflammation. Alcohol significantly increases five inflammatory markers.27 Studies have shown even a single binge causes a dramatic rise in inflammation. In other words, your body reacts to alcohol in the same way as it reacts to injury or infection.
    • Increased stress on your heart, raising your risk for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, high blood pressure and stroke. Blood alcohol levels spike two to three hours after your last drink, which means it may occur in the middle of the night during sleep. This raises your risk of accidental death due to choking on your own vomit and/or suffering cardiac failure or stroke while sleeping.
    • Significantly increased endotoxin levels. Alcohol causes gut damage, allowing bacteria to escape from your gut into your bloodstream. Regular consumption also leads to elevated endotoxin levels,28 suggesting "sensible" drinking limits likely need to be much lower than the current 14 to 21 units current recommended in the U.K.29 How low is still unclear.

    Less Is Always Better

    Alcohol is a known cancer risk factor that contributes to cancer deaths. In research published by the American Cancer Society, scientists analyzed cancer diagnosis and death data compiled from the CDC and National Cancer Institute. They found 42 percent of cancer diagnoses and 45 percent of cancer deaths could be attributed to preventable or modifiable risk factors.30 Those factors included smoking, excess weight, alcohol intake, low consumption of fruits, vegetables, fiber and calcium, and lack of physical activity.

    The researchers analyzed over 1.5 million cases of cancer and over 600,000 cancer deaths to evaluate whether a link existed between these modifiable factors and cancer. They found that lung and colorectal cancers had the highest number of diagnoses and deaths that could be attributed to preventable factors.31

    Cigarette smoking was responsible for the greatest number of cases of cancer diagnosed, while obesity and being overweight was responsible for the second greatest number. Although alcohol related cancers ranked third on the list, alcohol is a contributing factor to obesity.

    A combination of two of these modifiable factors, smoking and alcohol intake, are also related to the development of visible age-related signs.32 While most people are concerned with external appearance, it’s important to remember that damage done to your skin by these toxins is likewise being done to your internal cells and organ systems.

    If you currently are a drinker, it is vital to consider how this impacts your overall health and increases your risk for several different health conditions. Research suggests that reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake and raising your exercise level will help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

    This makes sense when you consider the fact that exercise may be one of the most effective strategies for protecting and strengthening your heart, so much so that research shows regular exercise can significantly lower your health care costs if you have heart disease. According to one study, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, five times per week, could result in annual health care savings of more than $2,500 per person.33

    Exercise and Supplements May Reduce the Negative Effect on Your Body

    Exercise is a foundational pillar to good health and may also help counteract inflammation in your body caused by alcohol.34,35 The data demonstrated those who got 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week reduced the biological impact of drinking, while those who got five hours or more of moderate activity experienced the same mortality as those who never drank.

    Other research has demonstrated that long time drinkers who exercise regularly have less damage to white matter in their brains than those who exercise very little or not at all.36 Exercise may also reduce your risk of becoming dependent. Just like alcohol, exercise releases dopamine, a brain chemical associated with rewarding behaviors. Experiencing this feel good chemical may reduce your desire for alcohol and may help those who are dependent to lessen their cravings.37

    Although this may help in the short run, alcohol impedes your desire for physical fitness and reduces your testosterone production, making it more difficult to build muscle. While I don’t recommend drinking, if you know you’ll be having a few drinks, using one of the following natural protocols prior to drinking may help minimize the damage to your body. However, this will not reduce your susceptibility to alcohol poisoning or other adverse events associated with binge drinking. So, please, use common sense and drink responsibly.

    N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): NAC is a form of the amino acid cysteine. Many of its benefits relate back to the fact that it helps boost production of glutathione, an important antioxidant your body produces naturally that helps reduce free radical damage and plays a role in the detoxification of heavy metals and other harmful substances. It also reduces acetaldehyde toxicity that causes many hangover symptoms.38

    Try taking NAC (at least 200 milligrams) 30 minutes before you drink to help lessen the alcohol's toxic effects. NAC is both safe and inexpensive, and has been commercially available for a long time. It's also generally well-tolerated and has no known serious side effects.

    Consider that, like alcohol, one way that Tylenol causes damage to your liver is by depleting glutathione. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from the acetaminophen may be largely preventable. This is why anyone who overdoses on Tylenol receives large doses of NAC in the emergency room — to increase glutathione.

    B vitamins: NAC is thought to work even better when combined with vitamin B1 (thiamine).39 Vitamin B6 may also help to lessen hangover symptoms. Since alcohol depletes B vitamin in your body, and B vitamins are required to help eliminate alcohol from your body, a B-vitamin supplement taken beforehand, as well as the next day, may help.

    Milk thistle: Milk thistle contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants known to help protect your liver from toxins, including the effects of alcohol. Not only has silymarin been found to increase glutathione, but it also may help to regenerate liver cells.40 A milk thistle supplement may be most useful when taken regularly, especially if you know you'll be having cocktails on more than one occasion.

    Vitamin C: Alcohol may deplete your body of vitamin C, which is important for reducing alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver. Interestingly, one animal study showed vitamin C was even more protective to the liver than silymarin (milk thistle) after exposure to alcohol.41

    Making sure you're getting enough vitamin C, either via supplements or food, is another trick to use prior to indulging in alcoholic beverages. Vitamin C is actually such a powerful detoxifier that if you take large doses prior to receiving dental anesthesia, the anesthesia will be significantly weakened and may not work.

    Magnesium: Magnesium is another nutrient depleted by alcohol, and it's one that many are already deficient in.42 Plus, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce some hangover symptoms. If you don't eat a lot of magnesium-rich foods, taking a magnesium supplement before an evening involving drinking may be helpful.

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  • Go Grass Fed Organic — AGA Certified
    published on January 15th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    Choosing organic foods is a straightforward way to lower your exposure to pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), but an even better option is to look for foods, particularly meat and dairy, that are organic and grass fed. Cows are designed to eat grass, but the majority of beef and dairy products in the U.S. come from cows that eat corn and grain, perpetuating the unethical, unhealthy and environmentally devastating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that dominate industrial agriculture.

    In exchange for cheap meat and dairy, we’re paying a hefty price, one that may be infinite in the damage it’s causing via pollution and damage to human health. On the other hand, farms producing grass fed meat and dairy products are able to naturally regenerate the soil and maintain ecological balance without relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    Meanwhile, grass fed products such as milk and cheese are valued for their seasonal variations in flavor, along with their superior nutritional profile. While the market is still small — labeled grass fed beef makes up just 1 percent of the U.S. beef market — it’s growing fast. Sales of labeled grass fed beef reached $272 million in 2016, up from $17 million in 2012 — which means sales have doubled each year.1

    Grass Fed Foods Are Better for You

    From a health standpoint alone, there’s good reason to go organic and grass fed as much as possible. Milk from cows raised primarily on pasture has been shown to be higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene and the healthy fats omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).2 Grass fed beef is better for you too, with CLA levels increasing by two- to threefold when cattle are grass finished as opposed to grain finished.3

    This is a significant benefit, as CLA is associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease and optimized cholesterol levels. The ratio of dietary fats is also healthier in grass fed beef. According to Back to Grass: The Market Potential for U.S. Grassfed Beef, a report produced by a collaboration between sustainable agriculture and ecological farming firms:4

    “Although the exact physiologic mechanisms behind these benefits are not completely understood, grassfed beef (and dairy) can provide a steady dietary source of CLAs. The optimal ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is believed to be between 1-to-1 and 4-to-1. Seven studies that compared the overall fat content of different beef types found that grassfed beef had an average ratio of 1.53, while grain-fed beef had a less healthy average ratio of 7.6.”

    Grass fed meat is also higher in antioxidants like vitamins E and A, the report noted, along with the enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase, which mop up free radicals that could otherwise hasten oxidation and spoilage. Grain feeding cows also encourages the growth of E. coli in the animals’ gut, as it leads to a more acidic environment. Grain-fed cows live in a state of chronic inflammation, which increases their risk of infection and disease, and necessitates low doses of antibiotics in feed for disease-prevention purposes.5

    This isn’t the case with grass fed cattle, which stay naturally healthy as they’re allowed access to pasture, sunshine and the outdoors. In a Consumer Reports study of 300 raw ground beef samples, grass fed beef raised without antibiotics was three times less likely to be contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria compared to conventional (CAFO) samples.6

    The grass fed beef was also less likely to be contaminated with E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus than the CAFO meat. So while giving you more nutrition, you’re also less likely to be exposed to drug-resistant pathogens when eating grass fed food.

    Grass Fed Meat and Dairy Are Better for the Environment

    The CAFOs that produce most U.S. meat and dairy are among the top polluters on the planet, for myriad reasons. For starters, there’s the massive amounts of manure that collect in CAFO “lagoons,” leading to toxic air and water pollution, along with the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides (not to mention water) used to grow the grains that the livestock eat.

    U.S. CAFOs produce 500 million tons of manure annually, which is three times the amount of sewage produced by humans. This is far more manure than can be safely applied to farm fields in the U.S.7 In a report released by environmental group Mighty Earth, massive manure and fertilizer pollution churned out by meat giant Tyson Foods is blamed for causing the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance.8

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the area of low oxygen, which can kill marine life, is nearly 9,000 square miles, which is about the size of New Jersey.9 The dead zone is primarily the result of nutrient pollution from agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed. The excess nutrients promote the growth of algae that decomposes, using up oxygen needed to support life.

    Mighty Earth singled out Tyson, and another meat giant Smithfield, as top contributors to the dead zone because they have the highest concentration of meat facilities in the areas with the highest levels of nitrate contamination. In addition, Tyson’s feed suppliers are responsible for the majority of grassland prairie clearance in the U.S., which “dramatically magnifies the impacts of fertilizer pollution.”10 Meanwhile, as reported by Consumer Reports, the very act of feeding livestock grains is also problematic:11

    “Turning grain into meat is an inefficient process: It takes 7 kilograms of grain to produce 1 kilogram of beef. As a result, the conventional beef industry consumes vast amounts of corn and soybeans. Those crops require significant amounts of water: It takes about 1,000 tons of water to grow 1 ton of feed. In addition, nonorganic farms use synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetically engineered seed to grow the feed crops, which raises a variety of sustainability concerns.”

    In contrast, raising animals on pasture using rotational or regenerative grazing approaches can increase soil organic matter, soil fertility and water-holding capacity, while naturally reducing erosion and encouraging crop diversity. Unfortunately, as farmers increasingly plant mostly wheat, rice, soy and corn (including for animal feed), more than 75 percent of crop genetic diversity has disappeared since the 1900s, leaving fields increasingly vulnerable to pests, disease and drought.12

    Grass Fed Is More Humane, Tastes Better

    To be considered humane, animals should be raised without pain, injury or disease, as well as fear or distress. They should be given proper food and water as well as the ability to express normal behavior. These basic elements of animal welfare are missing from CAFOs, which keep animals confined for long periods of time without adequate space or access to the outdoors. As noted by the “Back to Grass” report:13

    “Standing on dirt (or sometimes concrete) flooring, often covered with thick layers of mud and manure, can produce health issues such as foot rot (causing swelling and lameness) and digital dermatitis, a bacterial infection that can also lead to lameness and intense discomfort. In feedlots, antibiotics are used to prevent outbreaks of diseases, which spread easily from animal to animal when livestock are confined in the same area over a long period of time.

    Antibiotics are also used in feedlots to prevent acidosis (a spectrum of conditions that arise when the microbes in the rumen ferment the starches in grain feed), which can produce harmful effects ranging from stomach bloat to sudden death.”

    Animals raised on pasture are healthier, which means they’re not routinely fed antibiotics, and are allowed to live out their lives as cows should, grazing and feeling the sun on their backs. It’s important to understand, however, that choosing organic doesn’t necessarily mean the animals were raised more humanely. Cows produce more milk, faster, when they’re fed grain in the barn, as opposed to grazing on grass on pasture.

    Industrialized organic dairies are capitalizing on this by skimping on grazing time, raising thousands of cows in veritable CAFOs, yet still gaining the USDA organic label that suggests otherwise. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not doing nearly enough to protect the integrity of its organic label, which is why I encourage you to look for The American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, a much-needed grass fed standards and certification for American-grown grass fed meat and dairy.14

    The standard allows for greater transparency and conformity15 and is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations about grass fed dairy, while being feasible for small farmers to achieve.

    An AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.16 I strongly encourage you to seek out AGA-certified meat dairy products as they become available. In the Midwest, the Kalona SuperNatural brand was the first dairy brand to become AGA-certified.

    Grass fed foods are healthier for you and the planet, and better for the environment, but there’s yet another reason to seek them out: their taste. “There is a growing consensus among chefs and gastronomical experts that high-quality grass fed beef not only rivals but is in fact better-tasting than grain-fed beef. It has a ‘beefier’ and more complex taste,” Back to Grass pointed out.17

    Returning to Grasslands Is Key

    Yet another reason to “go grass fed” is that regenerative agriculture, including converting cornfields back to grasslands and saving natural grasslands that exist, is key to fixing many environmental problems. This type of land management system promotes the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by sequestering it back into the soil where it can do a lot of good. Once in the earth, the CO2 can be safely stored for hundreds of years and actually adds to the soil's fertility.

    Unfortunately, since the early 1800s, grasslands in North America have decreased by 79 percent — and in some areas by 99.9 percent.18 This expansion of cropland at the expense of grasslands is tragic, as grasslands are biologically productive and support a wide variety of plant and animal life.19 As Undark explained:20

    “Perhaps paradoxically, the expansion of cropland ‘may actually be undermining the very agricultural productivity it seeks to gain,’ write the authors of … [an] Environmental Review Letters study.

    Compared to cropland, grasslands ‘harbor significantly greater plant, microbial, and animal diversity, and generate higher levels of nearly all agriculturally vital ecosystem services, including pest suppression and pollination.’ To break prairie, then, is to dismantle the very supply chain that underpins American agricultural abundance.”

    Imports of grass fed beef, which make up 75 percent to 80 percent of U.S. grass fed beef sales by value, are another hurdle. Australia and Brazil can produce grass fed beef at a lower cost, as their climate allows for year-round grazing. U.S. consumers may not know the grass fed beef they purchase isn’t from the U.S., however, because as long as a piece of imported beef passes through a USDA-inspected plant, it can be labeled as a "Product of the USA."

    As the Back to Grass report put it, accurate labeling is imperative to "ensure that consumers are getting what they think they're buying."21 Not only may you be buying imported beef without knowing it, the grass fed beef you're buying may not be as wholesome as you expect it to be, thanks to weak standards.

    This is another reason why looking for the AGA logo on your meat and dairy is important, as it ensures the animals were born and raised on American family farms, fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest, and raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.22

    Perhaps you can't do anything about how large-scale industrial farms continue to plow up valuable grasslands, but you can make a difference for yourself, your family and community that might have residual effects. Buying grass fed or pastured animal products, including beef, bison, chicken, milk and eggs, is an excellent start to support both your health and regenerative farming methods that are protecting, not polluting, the planet.

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  • Pesticides Are Found in 85 Percent of Fresh Produce
    published on January 15th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Eating fresh produce is essential to staying healthy and warding off chronic disease, but if you purchase conventional varieties, you’re probably getting some pesticide residues along with many of your bites.

    The health effects of these residues are being debated, but considering the many health risks linked to pesticides — from infertility and birth defects to endocrine disruption, neurological disorders and cancer1 — there’s good reason to keep your exposure as low as possible, including opting for organic produce as much as possible.

    According to the latest pesticide residue report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which used 2015 data and was released in November 2016, about 85 percent of the more than 10,000 samples they tested contained pesticide residues.2 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also compiled an annual pesticide residue report using 2015 data, which was released in November 2017.3 It, too, showed the majority of U.S. fruits and vegetables are contaminated with pesticide residues.

    Most US Produce Contains Pesticide Residues

    The FDA’s sampling of nearly 6,000 foods revealed that fruits and vegetables are most frequently contaminated with pesticide residues. Notably, 82 percent of domestic fruits and 62 percent of domestic vegetables had such residues, including:4

    • 97 percent of apples
    • 83 percent of grapes
    • 60 percent of tomatoes
    • 57 percent of mushrooms
    • 53 percent of plums

    Among imported fruits and vegetables, 57 percent and 47 percent contained residues, respectively, and the imported varieties were more likely to contain illegal levels of pesticide residues compared to the domestic samples. Raising red flags is the fact that the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos was the fourth most-prevalent chemical in the samples out of the more than 200 pesticides detected.5

    The chemical, known to disrupt brain development and cause brain damage, neurological abnormalities, reduced IQ and aggressiveness in children, has a half-life on food of several weeks, making nonorganic foods a major source of exposure. The FDA was quick to point out that “over 98 percent of domestic and 90 percent of imported foods were compliant with federal standards,” but this isn’t saying much if the federal standards are too lax to protect public health.

    Former EPA senior scientist and director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, Tracey Woodruff, told Environmental Health News, “Risk assessment practices at federal agencies have not been updated for modern scientific principles, including accounting for the fact that people are exposed to multiple chemicals and that certain groups, such as genetically susceptible, the very young and old can be at greater risk of exposure.”6

    FOIA Requests Reveal 2,4-D Use Is Expected to Rise

    According to Environmental Health News, an internal memo from the FDA, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, estimated the use of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) would increase by threefold in the next year due to the approval of genetically engineered (GE) crops designed to withstand it.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of Enlist Duo — an herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemical that combines 2,4-D with Roundup, to be used on corn and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate both 2,4-D and glyphosate — in 2014.

    “The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that by 2020, the use of 2,4-D on America's farms could rise between 100 percent and 600 percent now that it has been approved as part of Enlist Duo,” the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) stated,7 echoing the FDA’s estimate. 2,4-D is one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, which was used to defoliate battlefields in the jungles of Vietnam, with horrendous consequences to the health of those exposed.

    It’s also a common ingredient in “weed and feed” lawn care products, because it kills weeds without harming grass, fruits or vegetables, the latter of which makes it very popular among farmers. This is concerning because IARC ruled 2,4-D a possible human carcinogen in 2015, and there is concern it may increase the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and soft-tissue cancer known as sarcoma.

    Further, it’s an endocrine-disrupting chemical that may negatively affect thyroid hormones and brain development. It may also be associated with birth defects, reduced fertility and neurological problems.

    How Much Glyphosate Is in Your Food?

    One pesticide that’s notably missing from the FDA’s latest report is glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide worldwide. The agency stated that they completed preliminary testing of soybeans, corn, milk and eggs for glyphosate residues in fiscal year 2017, with plans for “expanded testing to other foods in FY [fiscal year] 2018,” however as for what the results have been so far, they’ve only stated, “Preliminary results for glyphosate testing showed no pesticide residue violations for glyphosate in all four commodities tested (soybeans, corn, milk and eggs).”8

    This is again a rather arbitrary point, since in July 2013, right in the midst of mounting questions about glyphosate's safety, the EPA went ahead and raised the allowable limits of glyphosate in both food and feed crops.9 And as reported by Environmental Health News:10

    “Neither FDA nor USDA has routinely tested for glyphosate despite the fact it is the world's most widely used herbicide, and testing by academics, consumer groups and other countries has shown residues of the weed killer in food. The FDA said in early 2016 that it planned to start testing for the weed killer, and documents show that one FDA chemist reported finding residues in honey and in oatmeal products, but overall results of the program testing have not been released publicly.

    Details of the testing program are being kept secret, and in the documents released by FDA through the FOIA, large blocks of information are blacked out. FDA declined to comment about the status of the glyphosate and 2,4-D testing, including when it might publish some results.”

    Glyphosate is used in large quantities on GE glyphosate-tolerant crops (i.e., Roundup Ready varieties), and its use increased nearly fifteenfold since 1996.11

    Glyphosate is also a popular tool for desiccating (or accelerating the drying out) of crops like wheat and oats, with University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine researchers noting in JAMA that Roundup is “applied as a desiccant to most small nongenetically modified grains.” So for both the GE crops and non-GE grains, glyphosate “is found in these crops at harvest.”

    Glyphosate Linked to Gut Disturbances, Breathing Problems

    Concerns over glyphosate’s toxicity have been mounting since the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen." But that’s not the only problem. Glyphosate is toxic to many microbes as well as to most plants, and one likely effect of chronic low-dose oral exposure to glyphosate is a disruption of the balance among gut microbes toward an overrepresentation of pathogens.

    A 2018 study published in Toxicology Reports revealed that long-term exposure to Roundup led to alterations in the gut microbes of rats, specifically altering the firmicutes to bacteroidetes ratio in female rats, such that firmicutes were decreased and bacteroidetes increased.12 This could have implications for how glyphosate contributes to disease, since separate research has found, for instance, that diabetics tend to have fewer firmicutes and more plentiful amounts of bacteroidetes compared to nondiabetics.13

    A positive correlation for the ratios of bacteroidetes to firmicutes and reduced glucose tolerance has also been found. Further, other research has linked exposure to pesticides at work with an increased risk of breathing problems, chronic bronchitis and “symptoms that are consistent with airflow obstruction.” In fact, people exposed to pesticides at work had a 22 percent increased risk of developing chronic lung disease.14

    It’s estimated that up to 20,000 farmworkers are poisoned by pesticides each year, although the actual number is likely far higher, as many of the workers may not seek medical care or may be misdiagnosed if they do seek treatment.15 While the FDA drags their feet on getting pertinent information on glyphosate levels in food out to the public, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has revealed that nearly 30 percent of the more than 3,000 foods they tested contain glyphosate.16

    This included nearly 37 percent of grain products, 47 percent of bean/pea/lentil products and more than 30 percent of infant food and cereal. Even 7 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables contained the residues.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S. researchers tested urine levels of glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) among 100 people living in Southern California over a period of 23 years — from 1993 to 2016.17 At the start of the study, very few of the participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, but by 2016, 70 percent of them did.

    The prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased by 500 percent during the study period while actual levels of the chemical, in ug/ml, increased by a shocking 1,208 percent. If you’d like to know your personal glyphosate levels, you can now find out. The Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your own exposure to this toxic herbicide, while also participating in a worldwide study on environmental glyphosate exposures.

    Going Organic Can Reduce Your Pesticide Exposure

    Eating nonorganic GE foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body.18 A study of close to 4,500 people in the U.S. also found that those who "often or always" ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.19

    So choosing organic foods as much as possible is an important way to lower your exposure to pesticides and, in fact, avoiding pesticides is the No. 1 reason why people go organic.20 Not only do these chemicals pose a direct risk to human health, including to developing babies,21 but they also threaten the Earth as we know it. Glyphosate residues of 653 parts per billion (ppb) have even been detected in some honey samples — an amount that’s more than 10 times the European limit of 50 ppb.22

    Bees, as pollinators, travel from plant to plant. With grasslands being increasingly converted into GE corn and soybean fields where glyphosate and other pesticides are amply sprayed, it’s easy for them to become contaminated and then transfer that contamination to their honey. Research published in the journal Nature Communications has similarly revealed that pollen collected next to corn fields is contaminated with up to 32 different pesticides.23

    At this point, the effects of these chemical exposures on bees and other pollinators is unknown, but common sense would indicate that they can’t be good. So remember that you are actually “voting” for less pesticides and herbicides with every organic and grass fed food and consumer product you buy. In addition, it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” — going 100 percent organic is ideal, but every organic purchase you make helps.

    If you must choose between which products to purchase organic, I recommend prioritizing organic animal foods and then using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen” list for produce, which are among the most heavily contaminated with pesticides and therefore the most important plant foods to buy organic. As of 2017, these include:24











    Sweet bell peppers


    For the nonorganic produce you consume, washing with a solution of baking soda may help to remove some of the pesticides on the surface of the fruit or vegetable,25 although it won’t remove chemical residues that have penetrated beyond the peel.

    Peeling is another option to reduce pesticide residue, but this also means you’re removing the healthy compounds contained in the peel (and there can still be residues that have penetrated into the produce flesh). For these reasons, the best way to avoid pesticide residues in your food is to choose those that haven’t been exposed to them to begin with, i.e., go organic.

     Comments (27)

  • Stay on Top of the Latest Health News and Environmental Issues
    published on January 15th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

  • Benefits of Coffee and Tea
    published on January 14th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    Just as you can make or break your health via the foods you choose at each meal, you can support or sabotage your well-being one beverage choice at a time. At one end of the spectrum would be soda — one of the absolute worst choices to drink. At the other, pure water — arguably the best for quenching your thirst and supporting optimal health.

    For those times when you're looking for something to savor and sip, an excellent alternative is coffee or tea, both of which have earned a solid spot among healthy beverages, with some caveats, however.

    After water, coffee and tea are the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide, and they’re also top sources of both caffeine and antioxidant polyphenols for Americans. Tea, particularly green tea, has been linked with a reduced risk of stroke, diabetes and depression, and improved blood pressure, abdominal obesity and glucose levels, while coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of premature death and cardiovascular death, for starters.1

    "Coffee is a complex beverage containing hundreds of biologically active compounds," researchers wrote in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology,2 and this is why it, and tea, have such far-reaching health potential. From your heart to your vision to your brain, there are many reasons to enjoy a cup (or a few) of coffee or tea daily — organic, preferred.

    Health Benefits of Coffee From Your Heart to Your Brain

    Research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017 found that compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers had a 7 percent lower risk of heart failure and an 8 percent lower risk of stroke for each additional cup of coffee consumed per week.3 Separate research linked coffee consumption to a lowered risk of heart disease, cancer, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and diabetes.4

    In the latter study, the largest risk reduction came from drinking three to four cups daily, but they suggested drinking more would likely benefit health, not harm it.

    As for your brain health, increased coffee (and tea) consumption was linked to a lower risk of glioma brain tumor, such that people in the top category of coffee consumption were 91 percent less likely to have glioma compared with those in the bottom category.5 It may help your brain function as well, with research showing that drinking one to two cups of coffee daily may lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, cognitive decline and cognitive impairment compared to drinking less than one cup.6

    Drinking coffee may even enhance long-term memory consolidation7 and, if you drink the caffeinated variety, improve attention and alertness while decreasing your risk of depression.8 Caffeine can be a double-edged sword, with excess consumption causing adverse effects, and everyone's tolerance to caffeine is unique. However, most people naturally adjust their coffee consumption to avoid the jittery feeling that comes from too much caffeine. Researchers wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine:9

    "At low to moderate doses, caffeine has well-known psychostimulant effects such as improved psychomotor performance, increased vigilance, elevated arousal (lesser somnolence and greater activation), and increased sensations of well-being and energy.

    The known effects of caffeine are dose-dependent, but typically biphasic, i.e. low doses are perceived as pleasant and stimulating whereas a reverse effect is observed with higher doses. Most individuals seem to adapt their caffeine consumption to their own tolerance, so that the habitual is within the range between reinforcing and aversive effects."

    Tea Offers Many Health Benefits, Too

    Many of the health benefits offered for coffee consumption can also be gained by drinking tea, so a case can be made for adding either (or both) to your daily diet. For instance, drinking green tea is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes, as well as mortality due to heart disease. Research also shows holistic benefits to green tea consumption, including lower blood pressure, oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.10

    In terms of heart health, green tea improves both blood flow and the ability of your arteries to relax, with research suggesting a few cups of green tea each day may help prevent heart disease.11 One of green tea’s claims to fame is the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Studies show EGCG can be helpful for the prevention of arterio­sclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack and stroke — in part due to its ability to relax your arteries and improve blood flow.12 In addition, tea may also benefit:

    Type 2 Diabetes

    One study found people who consume six or more cups of green tea daily had a 33 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those who consumed less than one cup per week.13

    Weight Loss

    There is some evidence that long-term consumption of green tea catechins is beneficial for burning fat and may work with other chemicals to increase levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis.

    Bone Health

    Green tea polyphenols combined with a form of vitamin D called alfacalcidol could boost bone structure and strength, according to a study in mice. The mixture may reverse damage to bones caused by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced chronic inflammation, which could in turn reduce the risk of osteoporosis.14

    Vision Health

    Catechins in green tea could help protect you against glaucoma and other eye diseases, as research found that the compounds travel from your digestive system into the tissues of your eyes. During the study, the catechins found in green tea were absorbed into various parts of the eyes anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after rats were given tea.15


    Green tea components have been shown to downregulate the expression of proteins involved in inflammation, cell signalization, cell motility and angiogenesis, while an association between green tea intake and decreased risk of cancers (including ovarian and breast16) has been reported.17

    Previous research has shown that green tea polyphenols act on molecular pathways to shut down the production and spread of tumor cells.18 They also discourage the growth of the blood vessels that feed the tumors. EGCG even acts as an antiangiogenic and antitumor agent, and helps modulate tumor cell response to chemotherapy.19

    Different Types of Tea May Offer Different Benefits

    Much of the fanfare surrounding tea goes to green tea, but there are many different varieties to consider. Black and green tea (as well as oolong, dark and white teas) come from the same plant, an evergreen called Camellia sinensis. It is the processing method and degree of oxidization (exposure to oxygen) that create the different tea types. While black tea is oxidized, green tea is not oxidized at all after the leaves are harvested.

    This minimal oxidation may help to keep the beneficial antioxidants in green tea intact, although both green and black teas have beneficial effects. Generally speaking, the less the tea is oxidized, the lower its caffeine content and higher its antioxidants. White tea is actually the least processed of all teas, while oolong is semi-oxidized, placing it between green and black teas in terms of caffeine and antioxidant levels.20

    There are also herbal teas, which vary quite dramatically in flavor and health effects (herbal teas are actually not considered "true" teas, as they do not come from Camellia sinensis, but they can be beneficial and enjoyable nonetheless). What types of benefits do different types of tea offer?

    • Green and black tea for your gut: Both green and black tea may alter gut microbes in a way that's beneficial for preventing weight gain and obesity.21
    • Oolong tea for weight management and heart health: The polyphenols in oolong tea help control fat metabolism in your body by activating certain enzymes. A 2001 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that participants who ingested either full-strength or diluted oolong tea burned 2.9 to 3.4 percent more total calories daily.22
    • Hibiscus tea for overall health: High in vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants, studies suggest hibiscus tea may improve blood pressure, help prevent metabolic syndrome, protect your liver and even provide anticancer effects.23
    • Matcha for an antioxidant boost: Matcha is a type of green tea, but unlike regular green tea, in which you steep and discard the leaves, when you drink matcha you consume the entire leaves, which are ground micron fine. Studies indicate that 1 cup of matcha may provide the antioxidant equivalent of 3 cups of regular green tea and as much as 137 times more antioxidants than low-grade green tea.24

    Coffee and Tea Caveats: Choose Organic and Ditch the Dairy

    The health potential of your coffee and tea depends on several factors, beginning with quality. Coffee, which is a heavily pesticide-sprayed crop, should always be organic, as well as shade-grown. Coffee is a shade-loving plant, but growers often strip forests to make growing and harvesting easier. This destroys the ecological habitat of many natural pest deterrents, such as birds and lizards, while the pests flourish, resulting in additional pesticide use in nonshade-grown varieties.

    It’s equally important to choose organic tea, when available, as well as choose varieties grown in nonpolluted areas, as tea plants readily absorb lead and fluoride from the soil. Selecting organic will help you avoid pesticides, while choosing tea grown in a pristine environment will ensure that the least amount of fluoride, heavy metals and other toxins from soil and water possible leaches into the leaves. A clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea.

    You'll also want to avoid adding health-busting additives like sugar to your coffee or tea. Even milk is best avoided, as the proteins in milk may bind to and neutralize the antioxidants in tea, such that its health benefits are significantly reduced. For instance, one study found, "Milk counteracts the favorable health effects of tea on vascular function."25 Similar effects have been noted in coffee, with one study revealing that the antioxidant capacity of coffee was "significantly decreased by milk addition."26

    Further, while most people can safely consume coffee and tea, if you're pregnant you should avoid both due to the caffeine. Not only has coffee consumption during pregnancy been linked to low birth weight babies,27 but also heart problems28 and behavioral disorders in later life.29

    Tricks to Boost the Health Benefits of Your Coffee or Tea

    All you need to do to enjoy the health benefits of coffee and tea is slowly sip and savor your organic unsweetened brew. However, if you want to kick the benefits up a notch higher, there are a couple of tricks to do so. For tea, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, which may help to stabilize its beneficial catechins so you can absorb more of them.30

    For coffee, adding in coconut oil or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil may help you to burn fat and improve your mitochondrial function. Start with a small amount, such as 1 teaspoon of MCT oil, working your way up to 1 or 2 tablespoons, to avoid gastrointestinal side effects. You can also blend in a pat of raw grass fed butter. This recipe is a favorite among those following a ketogenic diet.

    In fact, many consider MCTs "the ultimate ketogenic fat," as it allows you to eat slightly more net carbs while still staying in nutritional ketosis. Without MCTs, you'd have to cut carbs more drastically in order to maintain ketosis, and hot coffee is an ideal carrier for MCT oil. Ultimately, whether you prefer your coffee black or with MCT oil, or your tea with or without lemon, these beverages represent a simple way to increase your intake of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds daily.

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  • Is Fermented Blueberry the Most Powerful Tonic?
    published on January 14th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Blueberries are often called a “superfood,” and for good reason. They are packed with antioxidants that help your body keep free radicals in check and fight inflammation. Along with other berries, blueberries are among your best dietary sources of bioactive compounds like anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol. Furthermore, blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins K1, C and B6, as well as manganese and fiber.

    While the benefits of the whole berry are well-known — particularly as it relates to antiaging, blood sugar, heart disease and vision health — research suggests fermented blueberries may be even more potent and beneficial. In animal studies, fermented blueberry juice has been shown to help with memory loss, cancer, diabetes and obesity. The research suggests cultured blueberry juice is a powerful tonic worthy of your time and attention.

    Can Blueberry Vinegar Help With Memory Loss?

    According to Alzheimer’s Disease International,1 an estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia, and more than 9.9 million new cases are diagnosed annually. Assuming the rate of incidence continues to rise, 75 million people are expected to suffer from dementia by 2030. These statistics underscore the need for new and better treatment strategies for cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    A study2,3 published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry involving lab mice with amnesia suggests blueberry vinegar, which is produced by fermenting fresh blueberries, effectively improves short-term memory. After having amnesia induced through a drug called scopolamine, the mice were given either 120 milligrams per kilogram (mg per kg) of blueberry vinegar or 120 mg per kg of blueberry extract every day for a week. Researchers noted the following results in the mice given blueberry vinegar:

    • A reduction in the breakdown of acetylcholine in their brains, which is significant because people with Alzheimer’s disease generally have low levels of acetylcholine, and blocking acetylcholine receptors is known to disrupt learning and memory
    • An increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein known for its role in nerve cell growth and maintenance

    Fermentation Boosts Bioactive Benefits

    While previous research highlighted natural compounds (such as those in blueberries) as beneficial in helping reduce dementia-related memory loss, the current work emphasizes the role fermentation plays in increasing their bioactivity. The study authors said, "Fermented products, such as vinegar, might act to preserve the phenolic compounds that are easily oxidized during food processing and that are impacted by factors such as maturity, storage and processing."4

    The mice consuming blueberry vinegar performed better on the two tests used to check their memory. Based on the outcomes, the researchers stated, “These findings also strongly suggest blueberry vinegar could be a useful functional material or food to provide the neuroprotective action against oxidative damage in hippocampal tissue.”5

    More research is needed to confirm the usefulness of blueberry vinegar with respect to memory problems in people with dementia. Along those lines, judging blueberry vinegar to be less risky than taking toxic dementia drugs, the Los Angeles Times commented:6

    “Drugs that stop the breakdown of acetylcholine have been invented, but are deemed unsafe for regular use. They don't last very long, and excess consumption could be toxic to the liver. Blueberry vinegar, however, seemed to have a similar effect without any of the drawbacks of the dangerous drugs.

    Researchers agree further testing is necessary before people start rushing to buy the fermented fruits; but since there's really no drawback … blueberry vinegar could be a great superfood for boosting your brain health as you age.

    [S]o if you're crafting your own [vinaigrette] or looking for a healthy way to dress your salad, blueberry vinegars could be a great ingredient. No food has yet been found that can fully reverse cognitive decline, but it's comforting to know there are some memory-boosting foods out there.”

    Fermented Blueberry Juice Shown to Have Antidiabetic Effects

    Animal research suggests cultured blueberry drinks may also be effective in preventing diabetes and obesity. In one such study,7 researchers at the University of Illinois developed an alcohol-free blueberry-blackberry "wine" and tested its antidiabetic effects on lab mice on a high-fat diet. Specifically, scientists wanted to see if the phenolic compounds from the fermented berry beverage would reduce diet-induced obesity and hyperglycemia in the mice.

    Earlier on, the team had found berries fermented at low temperatures produced higher concentrations of anthocyanins — phenolic flavonoid pigments that give them their bright colors. Anthocyanins are known to increase insulin sensitivity, decrease blood glucose levels and promote insulin secretion.

    About the results, Elvira de Mejia, Ph.D., professor of food science, University of Illinois, stated:8 "We saw a reduction of glucose in the blood … markers of inflammation went down too. That’s very, very, important. With obesity, less fat means less inflammation and less oxidative stress.”

    Research9,10 featured in the International Journal of Obesity made use of a “biotransformed” blueberry juice fermented using Serratia vaccinia, a bacterium found on the fruit’s skin. Lab mice, previously bred to be leptin-resistant, which predisposed them to diabetes, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity, were treated with either the fermented juice or regular blueberry juice for three days.

    “Consumption of fermented blueberry juice gradually and significantly reduced high blood glucose levels in diabetic mice,” said lead study author Tri Vuong. “After three days, our mice subjects reduced their glycemia levels by 35 percent.”11

    Notably, compared to the control group, the mice drinking the fermented juice ate less and gained less weight. “Results of this study clearly show biotransformed blueberry juice has strong anti-obesity and antidiabetic potential,” stated senior author Pierre Haddad, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, University of Montreal.12

    A 2017 study13 published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine sought to isolate the active compounds within fermented blueberry juice believed to contribute to its antidiabetic activity. Overall, catechol was found to be the most notable of the compounds discovered. As noted by the authors:

    “[T]he results of this study confirmed that fermentation of blueberry juice confers it antidiabetic potential in liver and skeletal muscle cells through the regulation of key hepatic enzymes implicated in gluconeogenesis and glycogen synthesis, and the enhancement of skeletal muscle glucose uptake.

    Using a phytochemical fractionation approach, we now demonstrate that this activity resides principally in phenolic fractions and can be attributed, at least in part, to chlorogenic acid, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid and catechol.”

    Blueberry Extract Shown to Kill Toxic Cervical and Mammary Cells

    A study presented in Pathology and Oncology Research14,15 reflects the usefulness of blueberry extract in the fight against cancer, particularly with respect to cervical cancer. Researchers have discovered adding blueberry extract to radiation therapy can significantly improve the efficacy of the treatment.

    According to the American Cancer Society,16 more than 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year in the U.S., and nearly 4,200 American women will die of the disease. Radiation therapy continues to be the primary treatment method for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, the high-energy radiation used to eradicate the cancer cells also damages healthy cells in the process.

    Lead author Dr. Yujiang Fang, Ph.D., academic pathologist and assistant professor, department of microbiology and immunology, Des Moines University, Iowa, and his team sought to determine whether blueberry extract could be used as a radiosensitizer — a compound useful for making cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation. Previously, Fang and his colleagues found resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine, to be effective in sensitizing prostate cancer cells to radiation.17

    In the current study, blueberry extract was tested alone and in combination with radiation therapy. The extract alone reduced cancer cells by 25 percent, whereas radiation alone decreased cancer cells by just 20 percent.

    However, when blueberry extract and radiation were combined, the number of cancer cells dropped by about 70 percent. As such, Fang believes not only does blueberry extract make cervical cancer cells more responsive to radiation, but it may also reduce abnormal cell growth that fuels cancer development. “Along with reducing cell proliferation, the extract also 'tricks' cancer cells into dying,” Fang said.18

    Another study,19 detailed in the Journal of Translational Medicine, evaluated the effects of a fermented blueberry drink on breast cancer stem cell development using lab mice.

    The researchers stated that polyphenol enrichment of blueberry juice through fermentation “increases its chemopreventive potential by protecting mice against tumor development, inhibiting the formation of cancer stem cells and reducing lung metastasis.” As such, it is believed a fermented blueberry drink may represent an alternative medicine therapy in the treatment of breast cancer.

    Other Health Benefits Associated With Blueberries

    A 1-cup serving of blueberries provides the following percentages of your recommended dietary allowance of:20

    • Vitamin K1: 36 percent
    • Vitamin C: 24 percent
    • Vitamin B6: 5 percent
    • Manganese: 25 percent
    • Fiber: 14 percent (3.6 grams)

    Blueberries also contain decent amounts of vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin) and E, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. In addition to their vitamin and mineral content, the phytonutrients in blueberries provide important health benefits.

    Blueberries pack tremendous antioxidant power, which helps your body keep free radicals in check and fight inflammation. Along with other berries such as cranberries and strawberries, blueberries are among the best dietary sources of bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol.

    Studies indicate blueberries reduce your risk of:21,22,23

    • Cancer: Besides cervical cancer, blueberries have been shown to be effective in the fight against cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus and small intestine, most likely due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
    • Eye problems: The antioxidants in blueberries are also known to help prevent or delay age-related eye problems and vision loss, including cataracts, dryness, infections, macular degeneration and myopia
    • Excessive aging: Due to their high antioxidant content, blueberries can help reduce the signs of aging such as age spots, hair loss and wrinkles
    • High blood sugar: Results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies,24 involving more than 187,000 participants, concluded greater consumption of specific whole fruits, such as blueberries, is significantly associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes
    • Urinary tract infections: Blueberries and cranberries contain an antioxidant called epicatechin, known to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the lining of your bladder that causes urinary tract infections

    Blueberries Help Protect Your Heart

    Blueberries are well-known for helping protect your heart and lower your blood pressure. Past research has revealed women ages 25 to 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries (and strawberries) per week had a 32 percent lower risk of having a heart attack.25 Anthocyanins are the primary agents responsible for protecting your heart, and they are particularly known to benefit the endothelial lining of your circulatory system, possibly preventing plaque buildup in your arteries, as well as promoting healthy blood pressure.

    Other research has shown these antioxidants to protect against heart disease by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, while enhancing capillary strength and inhibiting platelet formation.26

    A study27 involving postmenopausal women suggests blueberry consumption positively affects blood pressure. The participants, suffering from either prehypertension or hypertension, received a placebo powder or freeze-dried blueberry powder equivalent to about 1 cup of fresh berries daily for eight weeks. Despite no significant changes in the placebo group, the women supplementing with blueberries realized a 5 to 6 percent drop in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings.

    Make Your Own Blueberry Vinegar

    As demonstrated in the video above, you can easily make blueberry vinegar at home using just three ingredients: 1 cup of fresh blueberries, 2 cups of vinegar and sweetener equivalent to 2 tablespoons sugar. For the best results, be sure to use organic ingredients. Blueberry vinegar is useful as a salad dressing or marinade, especially for fish.

    While Blueberries Are Beneficial, Watch Your Total Fructose Intake

    Although blueberries are undoubtedly a healthy food, you will want to moderate your intake of them. One cup of blueberries contains approximately 15 grams of fructose. My standard advice is to keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including fructose from fruit. If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or insulin resistance, you’d be wise to restrict your fructose to 15 grams or less per day until your condition improves.

    Also keep in mind that blueberries are on the Environmental Working Group’s list of 48 fruits and vegetables containing higher amounts of pesticide residue.28 Both domestic and imported blueberries sold within the U.S. are sprayed with toxic pesticides, so be sure to buy organic.

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  • Weekly Health Quiz: Tea, Gardens and Mouthwash
    published on January 14th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    1 It is currently believed that EMF exposure causes a chain reaction of what type of metabolic process that is believed to be responsible for most of the bodily effects of EMF radiation, including damage to your mitochondria:

    • Excess oxidative stress

      Notably, it is the excess calcium in the cell and increased calcium signaling that are responsible for a vast majority of the biological effects of EMFs. Learn more.

    • Disruption of the blood-brain barrier
    • Red blood cell and bone marrow disruption
    • Fatty liver disease

    2 The No. 1 reason why people choose to buy organic is to:

    • Avoid pesticides

      Choosing organic foods lowers your exposure to pesticides linked to cancer, damage to children's IQ and neurobehavioral development and other health problems. Learn more.

    • Support small farmers
    • Cut back on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
    • Support more humane treatment of animals

    3 For a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened soda that's more flavorful than pure water, choose:

    • Diet soda
    • Fruit juice
    • Sports drink
    • Hibiscus tea

      Unlike soda, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and premature death even in low daily amounts, hibiscus tea is high in vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants, and studies suggest it may protect your health in a number of ways. Learn more.

    4 Which of the following is an example of a digestive-resistant starch?

    • Unripe banana

      Digestive-resistant starch, found in chilled, cooked potatoes and unripe banana, are low-viscous dietary fibers that does not break down as it travels through your digestive tract. By slowly fermenting in your large intestine, they feed gut bacteria that support optimal health. Learn more.

    • Uncooked potato
    • Pickled mushrooms
    • Fermented vegetables

    5 While gardens have many benefits, the most important reason you should plant one (especially given the many issues associated with industrial agriculture) is:

    • Growing your own food is one of the most cost-effective means of boosting your nutrition and health
    • Gardens help create a more sustainable global food system, giving more people access to fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food

      While gardens have many benefits, the most important reason you should plant a garden (especially given the many issues associated with industrial agriculture) is because gardening helps create a more sustainable global food system, giving you and others access to fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food. Learn more.

    • Gardening is a great form of exercise, benefiting your physical and emotional well-being
    • Gardens prevent soil degradation and encourage biodiversity

    6 Which of the following health problems has been linked to twice-a-day use of mouthwash?

    • Type 1 diabetes
    • Type 2 diabetes

      A well-balanced oral microbiome is important for optimal health. Twice-daily use of mouthwash has also been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes — an effect thought to be due to its antimicrobial activity. Learn more.

    • Heart disease
    • Throat cancer

    7 Which of the following is the most widely used pesticide in the world?

    • Chlorpyrifos
    • Atrazine
    • Dicamba
    • Glyphosate

      Monsanto has created global pesticide dependence using very strategic schemes, turning glyphosate into the most widely used pesticide in the world. Learn more.

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  • Classic Sauerkraut Recipe With Spices
    published on January 13th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    Recipe by Pete Evans


    German cuisine is often thought to be stodgy because the country lacked a variety of crops to grow until the last 200 years. As a result, Germans have often adopted the cooking methods of nearby nations, but added their own twist to it. Most often, their dishes are made using traditional preparations such as curing and pickling to prolong foods’ shelf life and make them readily available to the people.[i]

    One German dish that has become popular around the world is sauerkraut, which literally translates to “sour cabbage.” Interestingly, this dish originated in China over 2,000 years ago. Historians believe that workers who built the Great Wall of China began fermenting cabbage using rice wine so they would have something to eat during the nongrowing season. Afterward, Genghis Khan conquered China and brought the recipe to Europe as he was expanding his empire.[ii]

    Sauerkraut today is typically made using salt and a mixture of spices to add more flavor. However, adding a starter culture to the ingredients can boost the health benefits immensely due to its many different probiotic strains. In this sauerkraut recipe from Pete Evans, who co-wrote my latest book with me, the “Fat for Fuel Ketogenic Cookbook,” this concept is very much followed. I heartily recommend you give this German dish a  try, as it can complement a lot of foods, especially cooked meats. 



    ·         1 teaspoon of whole cloves 

    ·         1 1/2 pounds of red cabbage 

    ·         1 green apple, cored but skin on 

    ·         1/2 teaspoons of sea salt 

    ·         1 teaspoon of ground allspice 

    ·         1 packet of Kinetic Culture Starter for vegetables

    ·         2 cinnamon sticks 

    ·         1 orange, sliced into rounds 

    ·         1 radish, thinly sliced 




    1.    You will need a sterilized preserving jar (1.5 liters or 1 quart; you will have some filling left over) with an airlock lid for this recipe. You will also need to sterilize the knife, spoon, chopping board and glass or stainless steel bowl and jug you will be using. To do this, wash the jar and utensils thoroughly in very hot water or run them through a hot rinse cycle in the dishwasher. 

    2.    Place the cloves in a small piece of muslin, tie into a bundle with kitchen string and set aside.

    3.    Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Choose one of the outer leaves, wash well and set aside.

    4.    Shred the cabbage and apple in a food processor with a shredding attachment, or use a mandolin or knife to chop by hand.

    5.    Transfer the cabbage and apple to a large glass or stainless steel bowl and sprinkle over the salt and allspice. Mix well, cover and set aside.

    6.    Dissolve the starter culture in water according to the packet instructions (the amount of water will depend on the brand you are using). Add to the cabbage along with the bag of cloves, cinnamon, orange and radish and gently mix.

    7.    Fill the prepared jar with the cabbage mixture, pressing down well with a large spoon or potato masher to remove any air pockets. Leave 2 centimeters (.78 inch) of room free at the top. The cabbage mixture should be completely submerged in the liquid, so add more water if necessary. 

    8.    Fold up the reserved cabbage leaf and place it on top of the mixture, then add a small glass weight (a shot glass is ideal) to keep everything submerged. Close the lid, then wrap a tea towel around the side of the jar to block out the light.

    9.    Store the jar in a dark place with a temperature of 60 to 73 degrees for 10 to 14 days. (You can place the jar in a cooler to maintain a more consistent temperature.)

    10. The longer you leave the jar, the higher the level of good bacteria present and the tangier the flavor. 

    11. Chill before eating. Once opened, the sauerkraut will last for up to two months in the fridge submerged in the liquid. If unopened, it will keep for up to nine months in the fridge. 


    Cabbage Is the Foundation of Sauerkraut


    Cabbage is a versatile vegetable, as it can be used in salads, soups and countless other dishes. Furthermore, it is a healthy food in its own right. Among cruciferous vegetables, cabbage contains some of the most powerful antioxidants, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, thiocyanates and sulforaphane. Research has shown that these compounds may help lower your risk of several types of cancer and manage healthy cholesterol levels.

    In addition, cabbage is rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that can help with proper bone metabolism, as well as limit neuronal damage in your brain, thereby lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also rich in dietary fiber that may help promote a healthy digestive tract by promoting regular bowel elimination.

    Probiotics Can Support Your Overall Well-Being in Many Ways


    Fermented vegetables are loaded with probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can provide a wealth of benefits to your system. Aside from fresh produce, milk is another food that’s commonly fermented, with yogurt being one of the most popular derivatives.

    I strongly recommend that you consume probiotic-rich foods regularly because they help reseed your gut flora. Research has shown that these beneficial bacteria may help with the following:

    Immune system enhancement

    Reduced risk of bacterial infections and other stomach-related diseases caused by microbes

    Improvement of symptoms of lactose intolerance

    Reduced instances of developing constipation or diarrhea

    Improvement of premenstrual syndrome

    Improved mental health, mood control and behavior

    Weight management (found in other fermented vegetables)


    One other notable benefit I’d like to highlight about fermenting is that it can improve the nutritional value of your food. Research shows that sauerkraut is a good high-fiber, low-calorie source of vitamin C with 1 cup providing 35 percent of the USDA’s daily recommendations for vitamin C. It also is a good source of folate, vitamin K, calcium, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium.[iii]

    Spices Add More Nutrients and Flavor to the Recipe


    Once you’ve fermented your vegetables, don’t just stop there. You can improve the taste further by adding a variety of spices, allowing you to explore your creativity and taste. In this recipe, several spices are used, namely:

    ·         Cloves: These are basically dried flower buds from the Syzygium aromaticum tree, and are known for their sweet and earthy taste. In terms of health benefits, they contain eugenol, a compound that has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that may help fight infection.

    ·         Allspice: This spice comes from dried berries of the Pimenta dioica plant, and plays a huge role in Jamaican jerk chicken.[iv] Its flavor combines cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and is known for aiding digestion, boosting immunity and improving blood circulation.[v]

    ·         Cinnamon:  This spice adds a sweet, woody scent to your sauerkraut. In addition, it’s rich in manganese, a mineral that plays a role in various biological processes. It is known to help improve bone strength, regulate blood sugar levels, support strong connective tissues and promote healthy brain function.

    Make Sure to Use High-Quality Ingredients for This Recipe


    When fermenting your cabbage, make it a point to use a high-quality probiotic that contains various strains to ensure that your gut flora is able to flourish and diversify. Lastly, don’t forget to use organic produce to help minimize your risk of ingesting toxins and other chemicals that are common among conventionally produced ingredients.


    About Pete Evans


    Pete Evans is an internationally renowned chef who has joined forces with Dr. Mercola to create a healthy cookbook that’s loaded with delicious, unique Keto recipes, ideal for people who want to switch to a ketogenic diet. The “Fat for Fuel Ketogenic Cookbook” is the perfect tool to help get you started on your ketogenic journey. CLICK HERE to order your copy now.

    Pete has had numerous noteworthy contributions to the culinary world. He has not only cooked for the general public, but he’s also cooked a royal banquet for the Prince and Princess of Denmark, a private dinner for Martha Stewart, and even represented his hometown at the gala GʼDay USA dinner for 600 in New York City. Pete’s career has moved from the kitchen into the lounge room with many TV appearances including Lifestyle Channel’s “Home show,” “Postcards from Home,” “FISH,” “My Kitchen Rules” and “Moveable Feast.”


  • Improve Your Health by Avoiding Pesticides
    published on January 13th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    Monsanto has become a global powerhouse capable of twisting entire governments according to its will. As a result, the company has saturated the global environment with its toxic chemicals, largely through questionable if not outright immoral and illegal means. Carey Gillam, an investigative journalist, dives deep into the backstory of Monsanto and the catastrophic consequences of their influence on the global culture in her book, “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science."

    "I've been a journalist my whole adult life, more than 25 years,” Gillam says. Most of her career was spent as a reporter with Reuters, a highly respected global news organization. In the 1990s, she was assigned to move to Kansas and  tasked with reporting on issues concerning food and food production.

    "I came to Kansas City and immediately started digging in and trying to learn everything about Monsanto, which had then just introduced genetically engineered (GE) crops," she says. "I thought genetic engineering sounded cool … I used Roundup; it worked great … I came with no preconceived biases.

    As a reporter, you really learn to set aside any bias because it's not fair and it's not the way that you accurately learn about and report information. The book is really the culmination of 20 years of being heavily involved in this world and spending a lot of time with Monsanto, and with Dow, DuPont and farmers.

    Glyphosate — Roundup — is sort of the vehicle for my book. Monsanto and the story of how they pushed this weed killer to become the most widely used in the world … [was] strategically by design … The point I hope this book makes is that glyphosate and Monsanto are really the poster children for a much larger problem — a corporate push for pesticide dependence …"

    Glyphosate — The Most Widely Used Pesticide on Earth

    Glyphosate is registered in 130 countries and its use has gone up exponentially since the introduction of glyphosate-resistant GE crops. Farmers now apply nearly 5 billion pounds (over 2 billion kilograms) of glyphosate to farm crops each year, worldwide.1 Approximately 300 million pounds are applied on U.S. farmland.

    Needless to say, pesticide exposure has also exponentially increased. Urine output of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, shot up by more than 1,200 percent between 1993 and 2016.2 Gillam’s book reveals how GE crops were the true catalyst for this tremendous surge in glyphosate use, since they were in fact designed to encourage farmers’ use of this chemical.

    “It's been a brilliant move by Monsanto,” she says. “We've gone from about 40 million pounds a year in North America to about 300 million pounds a year. It's used on … about 70 different commonly consumed food crops. Everything from avocados and almonds to cherries.” Indeed, just because a food is not genetically engineered does not mean it’s pesticide free.

    "Monsanto also was smart enough to market it to farmers [of] wheat, oats and barley … to be sprayed directly on the crops shortly before harvest. When the grain is mature, they say the farmers can then go ahead and spray it directly on the crops. The crops will then dry out and … the farmers can harvest the crop in a more even and consistent way.

    [This] might be good for farmers, it might be good for sales — for glyphosate producers — but it leaves a lot of glyphosate residue in the finished foods.

    We have documented glyphosate residues in oatmeal, baby oatmeal that you're serving your kids, and in wheat and bread products. Glyphosate has even been found in honey — organic honey even, which is more [due to the] function of bees … than it is pesticide application. Again, it's pervasive in our food, our water, our soil, our air and our own bodies," Gillam says.

    Glyphosate Is a Potent Toxin

    Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup, but while toxic in and of itself, Roundup as a formulation is even more harmful. Some believe it's significantly more toxic, as certain surfactants allow glyphosate to be more effectively absorbed. Additionally, the "gly" in glyphosate stands for glycine, a very common amino acid your body uses to make proteins.

    As a result, your body can substitute glyphosate for glycine, which results in damaged proteins being produced. Glyphosate also affects the shikimate pathway and destroys your microbiome, thanks to its antibiotic activity.

    Roundup has also been linked to certain cancers. In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), reclassified glyphosate as a "probable carcinogen" (Class 2A),3 based on "limited evidence" showing the weed killer can cause Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with "convincing evidence" linking it to cancer in animals.

    "Monsanto flipped out as you might imagine, and has been campaigning to discredit IARC ever since. [But] documents show … they knew ahead of time … [and expected] IARC [would] find it to be either probably or possibly carcinogenic. They anticipated this and internally said they were vulnerable with the epidemiology and the toxicology, because they have also seen the body of scientific evidence grow showing problems with glyphosate.

    But yet to the world they have publicly made it appear as though they're shocked; they’re outraged. [They’re saying,] ‘How could IARC find [glyphosate] to be a carcinogen? [They’re telling people] that's crazy and [that] these IARC scientists have a political agenda and they're using junk science!’ [This is how Monsanto] set up organizations and different methods to try to discredit IARC. They've gone after IARC scientists.

    They really have been on a mission for these past two-and-a-half years to get that classification basically cast aside, and they now are pushing Republicans in Congress to strip funding from IARC … [R]ather than actually looking at the science, listening to the experts, being concerned about how to possibly mitigate exposure to humans and the risk to humans … they're trying to discredit these scientists and twist the truth."

    This is a classic strategy. The same thing happened in the tobacco industry, and is also happening in the telecommunication and pharmaceutical industries. By discrediting objective scientists who have integrity to report the truth, they delay the inevitable collapse of their business. Confusion and doubt alone are enough to maintain their business as usual.

    "All the different strategies they've employed to suppress science, to harass scientists, to discredit individuals, to control regulators and influence regulators, to ghostwrite and manipulate the scientific content — when you put that altogether, it's a really alarming story of how we the public and our policymakers are being misled and put in danger … over the long term by this [chemical] industry corruption,” Gillam says.

    Thousands of Lawsuits Pending Against Monsanto's Roundup

    Since the IARCs classification of glyphosate as a class 2A carcinogen, an estimated 3,500 individuals have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming the weed killer caused their Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Many of the cases in this multidistrict litigation are being handled in federal court in San Francisco under one judge. Internal documents obtained during discovery have been released by plaintiff attorneys, and have become known as “The Monsanto Papers.”

    "It's pretty scary stuff when you see that what they say publicly is so very different from what they say internally, and how they work too," Gillam says. "I was looking at a new [document] today [in which] one Monsanto scientist makes reference to published peer reviewed papers that he has worked on but don't bear his name. This goes into the ghostwriting [issue], where they write papers but [the papers] appear to be from unbiased independent individuals."

    Some of the evidence also reveals the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has colluded with Monsanto to protect the company's interests by manipulating and preventing key investigations into glyphosate's cancer-causing potential. Gillam explains:

    "There was a health and human services department review of glyphosate that was underway. Monsanto wanted it to go away. They talked internally about how worried they were about it. They went to the top brass at EPA and asked for assistance. They got it, and it went away. You can see all of that in internal emails and freedom of information documents.

    We can see these conversations going on. Again, it serves Monsanto. It doesn't serve the public very well. The office of inspector general is now investigating collusion between EPA and Monsanto because of this and many other examples of EPA working on behalf of Monsanto."

    Main Problem: Corporate Interests Allowed to Trump Public Safety

    When it comes to the harm glyphosate exposure can cause, cancer is really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It may not even be the most significant issue. Glyphosate has the ability to cause widespread systemic and metabolic damage capable of causing or worsening just about any disease, and that is far more troublesome than its potential carcinogenicity. And, as Gillam stresses in her book, the even larger issue is that we're also being exposed to many other toxic pesticides, and often in combination.

    "Chlorpyrifos, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the fourthmost prevalent pesticide found on food samples today,” Gillam says. “It's found on about 80 percent of fruits, for example. Chlorpyrifos, a Dow insecticide, has been shown to cause neuro-developmental problems in children [and] pregnant women …

    It's banned for household use because it's known to be so dangerous. It was scheduled to be banned for farming this year. Dow's chemical went to the EPA and sat down with the Trump folks and gave a million bucks to the Trump inaugural fund, and guess what — it's not going to be banned anymore.

    This is a bigger problem of corporate profits trumping public safety. Our policy makers, our regulators, are not protecting the public. They are listening to the corporations … That is the bigger message of the book 'Whitewash.'"

    Testing Your Glyphosate Levels

    While both the USDA's Pesticide Data Program and the FDA measure pesticide residues in foods, neither of them include glyphosate in their testing, ostensibly because it’s too expensive and partly because glyphosate has been assumed safe (based on Monsanto’s own evidence).

    The USDA did promise to start testing for glyphosate residues last year, yet mere days before the testing was scheduled to begin, it was called off. The reason has never been disclosed. The only time the USDA tested for glyphosate was in 2011, when 300 soybean samples were tested and all were found to be contaminated. The FDA also started a limited testing program for glyphosate in 2016, but did not go public with the program.

    "They had one of their lead chemists in Atlanta do some testing," Gillam says. "He found oatmeal products [and honey] with high glyphosate levels … and he was mysteriously pulled off pesticide residue testing. A memo has gone out that basically says, 'Please don't look for glyphosate in honey anymore.' They suspended the program but now they say it's back on, but we still don't have any data on glyphosate residues in food, which to me just seems really suspicious."

    The good news is you no longer need to rely on the government when it comes to glyphosate testing. You can test your own levels, thereby assessing your own individual exposure. If your levels are high, you would be wise to address your diet and consider buying more organic foods. The Health Research Institute Labs (HRI Labs) in Davenport, Iowa, has developed home test kits for both water and urine.

    Doctors Need to Learn More About Pesticide Exposure

    The current threshold for HRI, which is the one you want to be using or a lab that uses this sensitivity, is half a part per billion or 40 parts per trillion. If you're below that threshold, your exposure is low and you're unlikely to experience adverse effects. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in terms of educating medical professionals about the importance of pesticide testing. Last year, Gillam asked her doctor to check her glyphosate level and the doctor had never even heard the word.

    "She said, 'I have no idea what you're talking about. I can't order that test,'" Gillam says. "It's not part of mainstream medicine and it should be, I think. I've talked to people at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about that. How are we ever going to correlate [pesticide exposure] to disease … if we don't track it?

    There are various integrative medical doctors affiliated with laboratories who will run testing for glyphosate, heavy metals and other pesticides, but mainstream medicine is not there, and not even turning in that direction it seems like."

    US Right to Know — Fighting for Truth and Transparency

    After decades with Reuters, Gillam left the news organization in 2015 to join U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a nonprofit organization working for transparency and accountability in the U.S. food system. By filing freedom of information act (FOIA) requests with regulatory agencies and other institutions, USRTK has exposed a number of massive frauds.

    "We're a very small, very poor nonprofit. What we do, primarily, is file FOIA requests with our federal government regulatory agencies. I do EPA, FDA and USDA. We also file state records requests with taxpayer funded universities to see where all that corporate money is flowing and how it's influencing research and what's happening. It's been really alarming because it has opened a window into this world … of profound corporate influence on people — academic professors for instance.

    We know about the collusion with regulators, but these academic professors who are teaching our young people and writing policy briefs to our lawmakers, giving presentations around the world — in many cases we're seeing Monsanto made the presentations for them; sent them the slide shows, wrote the papers for them that appear on websites under their names.

    It's amazing, the network Monsanto and the chemical industry have developed around the world, of individuals who appear to be independent and nonbiased who are really collaborating with the chemical industry. It's astonishing …

    [A] recent example [is] Henry Miller … Through the emails, we were able to see that Monsanto was assigning him, and drafting for him, these articles that would appear in Forbes Magazine. Many times, word for word … Written by Monsanto, appearing in Forbes Magazine under a name of someone who looks to be independent.

    Forbes Magazine, after these documents came out, severed its relationship with him, but this is again one example of one individual. [This] is happening all over the place …

    I had to sue the EPA over one of my most recent requests dealing with glyphosate and the cancer assessment. They have turned over several thousand documents after we filed that lawsuit, so that's useful. The government is not eager to cooperate, certainly, and neither are these academic universities.

    We've been attacked and [it's been] alleged that we're trying to stifle science, harass scientists and all sorts of false things like that, when all we really want is truth and transparency for the public and the taxpayer. If these academics really believe GMOs are wonderful and glyphosate is safe and these chemical companies are going to save the world, that's fine. But disclose the relationship, disclose the funding, disclose the collaborations. Then people can make up their own minds."

    More Information

    To learn more about Monsanto’s impact on the food system, the dangers of pesticide exposure and the corruption of science, be sure to pick up a copy of “Whitewash.” For about $20, you get access to Gillam’s 20-plus years of professional experience researching and reporting on these issues. She provides deep insights to what is happening with your food, and what the solutions are, such as shopping organic and growing your own.

    "It's interesting to note that while we don't test [foods for glyphosate] here in the U.S. … we do test grains and alfalfa and other things that are going overseas. We have a grain inspection agency that does glyphosate testing on different grains. Not those destined for American dinner plates but those destined for foreign dinner plates. Why? Because so many countries around the world don't want glyphosate residues in their food …

    It's important and it's serious … but it's hard to get people interested … I'm hoping people will [read the book and] understand that it's not so much about one chemical, it's about what has been done to our food system, to our health — how one company … [has been able] to push this into our world in a twisted and manipulated way that leaves us in the dark, and leaves them reaping the profits. It's not fair and it's something we all need to be aware of."

    Be Part of the Solution

    Just six short years ago, we catalyzed the project to have GMOs labeled in California. While we lost the vote, the campaign catapulted GMOs into the awareness of millions of Americans who had never before heard the term. The issue of pesticide exposures is the next level of awareness people need to reach. You can help this process by educating yourself and sharing your findings with those you know.

    Also, know that while ignorance can put you in a tough place, health wise, information can set you free. It's easier than you may have imagined to take control of your health. All you have to do is make different choices. One of the most basic strategies is to eat real food, organically grown without pesticides. Once you've gotten into that habit, check your urine for glyphosate to evaluate your eating habits. If your levels are still high, you're still being excessively exposed, be it through water, food or your environment.

    Last but not least, "We need to make decisions for ourselves to eat healthier, but I'm [also] hoping that people will be motivated to try to have an influence on public policy, and to push for more transparency and more healthy choices," Gillam says. Indeed, tackling government corruption will require all of us to get more involved in the political process.

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  • Stubborn, Optimistic, Purposeful People Live Longer
    published on January 12th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    No matter where you live or how old you are, you're probably interested in living longer. If you're reading this, chances are you're in an ever-increasing quest to live better, eat better and generally take better care of yourself. But how might someone's mental outlook influence their longevity? According to new research1 published in International Psychogeriatrics, living longer is not necessarily just a matter of chance. Approaching life with purpose and optimism has been shown to make a significant difference in a life well lived.

    It takes intestinal fortitude to live in a world where it feels, in many respects, that to do what's best for you, you have to row against the tide. While many simply go with the flow, it takes courage and, yes, possibly a stubborn streak, to hold out for excellence and perseverance; to live life with purpose and not just what floats your boat at the moment.

    Researchers from Sapienza University in Rome and the University of California San Diego collaborated to study people living in nine remote villages in Southern Italy who lived, in some cases, well past the age of 90 and even to 101.

    Their health was compared with that of family members whose ages ranged from 51 to 75 years. One fascinating thing the scientists found was that, although some of the younger people may have been in better physical shape, the oldsters enjoyed better mental health. One may wonder how the researchers went about assessing the outcomes of the data they gathered. Newsweek noted:

    "Data was gathered using both measurable assessments for mental and physical health, including factors like optimism and depression, in addition to interviews that gathered personal stories about traumatic life events and beliefs. The team also analyzed the younger participants on the same rating scales but also asked them to describe their older relatives' personalities."2

    How Being Stubborn Can 'Ground' You

    Characteristics like having a positive attitude contributed to a more upbeat mindset for the older people involved in the study, the assessments determined. Newsweek quoted study co-author Dilip Jeste, from the University of San Diego School of Medicine and director of its Center for Healthy Aging, who explained:

    "The main themes that emerged from our study, and appear to be the unique features associated with better mental health of this rural population, were positivity, work ethic, stubbornness and a strong bond with family, religion and land."

    The researchers believe the "Old World" mentality maintained by many of the older participants, evidenced by a tendency toward a domineering, stubborn, "in control" approach to life, helped those older individuals establish a grounded frame of mind; fear of judgment from others wasn't part of their mentality. Boxing legend Jake LaMotta, the "Raging Bull," who died on September 19, 2017, at the age of 95, had one such outlook on life.

    His life was one of brawling and brutality, but against incredible odds he is remembered as one of the greatest middleweight boxers in history. As Today observed, the oldest people living tend to live their lives by controlling, to the greatest degree possible, their own lives and destinies. They have many things in common:

    "The nonagenarians and centenarians were positive, optimistic and hopeful despite traumatic events in their lives, like the deaths of their spouses or children. They worked hard all their lives and were still active in their old age. They loved their families, but were 'controlling, domineering and stubborn,' wanting things to be done their way."3

    Jeste called the nonagenarians' and centenarians' collective stick-to-itiveness "well-deserved stubbornness" and said reaching their advanced ages was a test of their sustainability as a sign that with age comes wisdom.

    How Wisdom Comes With Age

    From the point of view of older generations, their ability to have lived so long, and the success of the things they poured their lives into for 90-plus years, justified their complete lack of desire to conform to anyone else's needs or demands. Jeste noted:

    "When you are young, there's a lot of peer pressure and you always feel that you're not doing as well as some other peer. When you are older … the expectation changes — expectations of other people and expectation of self. You accept yourself better."4

    With age comes a sense of balance — an "all things considered" approach that views being agreeable as not a betrayal of one's personal code, but evidence of a greater understanding of what's at stake and what's truly important in life. Swarthmore College conducted a study in 20165 in which researchers concluded that life experience shouldn't be minimized as it sometimes is by the young. As Science Daily assessed, "With age comes wisdom, at least when it comes to knowing that things aren't always as they appear."6

    The researchers found that older people tended to assess the correct slope of a hill better than young adults simply because the former group has a greater set of life experiences to draw from. More importantly, interpreting the slant of a slope may be a metaphor for all of life, the study authors conjectured:

    "Whereas much research on aging emphasizes perceptual decline, when it comes to space perception for navigation, older adults do well. And they also seem to have acquired wisdom with their years about the difference between how things seem and how things are. This is a point well worth making."7

    Perspective, Understanding and Giving Grace

    In talking to younger relatives for their impressions of their elders' personalities, characteristics and qualities, it's telling that one younger relative in the study of Italian oldsters described her father as "a dictator."

    We probably all know an elderly person who has not chosen to take the proverbial high road and instead chooses to look back on the landscapes of their lives with regrets of the past and anxiety for the future rather than focusing with gratitude and grace — both for themselves and for others — in the ever-present here and now.

    That's undoubtedly why the researchers also encountered older people with a tendency to be domineering, inflexible and the ones in control. It's easy to see how people with such a bent would find it particularly hard to face the changes that come with age, with their circumstances often dictated by a decrease in financial or physical freedom. While some people might call that survival skill "stubbornness," someone else might call it "grit."

    It might not be a refusal to budge for the sake of being a curmudgeon, a feeling they've earned the right or an urge to make up for times they might have felt slighted or taken advantage of. It might be self-preservation.

    It's got to be tough to be deferential in the face of hard times, like the loss of loved ones, lost jobs, unmet expectations and consequences of things that might not have gone quite as one planned or hoped, especially as old age is taking its inevitable toll. As late actress Betty Davis once quipped, "Old age ain't no place for sissies."

    'You're as Old as You Feel' Versus 'Mind Over Matter'

    One of the most important things you can do in any situation is to look at the bright side, and that's probably more true with approaching old age as any other situation in life. It's one thing to notice older people who aren't handling it as well as we feel they could or should, but the bell tolls for us just as surely as it does for the archetypal "them." Time certainly does march on.

    Like practicing a speech before you give it or planning a trip to an unknown city, imagining how it might go, planning for contingencies and determining how you'll react if something doesn't go as swimmingly as you hoped is a prudent course of action. It's true also as you begin looking at your twilight years.

    But there's something that's both galvanizing and encouraging about viewing (and living) advanced age with an outlook that everything will be all right, no matter what happens. That's why a positive attitude may very well be worth its weight in gold.

    In fact, studies suggest that how you approach the aging process can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you feel that because you have a certain number of candles on your birthday cake it means it's time to fade into insignificance and obscurity, you almost certainly will. On the other hand, if you adopt a can-do, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach to life with every new day, the odds are you'll live longer.

    More importantly, you'll be happier and healthier as you do it. If you ever find yourself thinking "people my age should act or feel this way or that way," resist it. Instead of allowing words and phrases like "cognitive decline," "crotchety" or "feeble" to fill your thoughts of what "old age" looks like, focus on positive terms such as "knowledgeable," "experienced" and "wise" instead. It's much more than bamboozling yourself; write your own scenario and it may come true.

    Going the 'Healthy Eating and Exercise' Route

    If you know down deep that you don't have the most positive outlook on life but still want to live to be a ripe old age, you can learn strategies for becoming happier and more optimistic. That being said, eating right and keeping your body limber and your heart strong with regular daily movement and exercise is also important. In fact, one doctor advises that the best way to make up physically for a not-so-positive attitude would be to exercise. As behaviors go, it might be top priority to postpone an early death.

    A recent study at the University of Kansas, however, found that people are generally eager to live into old age, but only if they're in good health.8 When 90 people from Germany, China and the U.S. were interviewed, study author David Ekerdt, Kansas University professor of sociology and gerontology, noted a certain reluctance on the part of the participants to specify how long they wanted to live, ostensibly because the "must be healthy" prerequisite was a caveat.

    Ekerdt believed the reluctance stemmed from the way people in general feel about the aging process. Depending on cultural norms, ideas about life either flowing on in a smooth continuum or being sharply divided sequences of time seem to be placed in four stages of life, the third being the stage that might be referred to as retirement. The fourth stage was described by some participants in terms that included words like disability and decline.

    A willingness to prolong life was dependent on being able to maintain their current state of health or what they might deem acceptable. According to Ekerdt, "Some felt their lives had already reached a stage of completion, and others as a form of fate acceptance."9 An upside was that the older individuals in the study claimed to resonate with mottos like "Add life to years, not just years to life." The best way to do it is by making lifestyle choices that will help increase your potential for a long, healthy life.

    The Search for Significance

    One thing the researchers in the featured study noticed right away in talking to the older people was that connection was of great significance, and recognizing their own significance was fundamental for emotional survival. A desire to be close to family and friends in the emotionally connected sense was one more thing the older people shared in common. Like the television show "Cheers," it's important to have connection — for there to be at least one place you can go "where everybody knows your name," Jeste says.10

    Another study11 reported that people who had positive rather than negative ideas about what aging looked like lived an average of 7.5 years longer than their more negative counterparts. Variables like age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and functional health notwithstanding, the will to live is powerfully suggestive, and more often than not, it's about the love of friends and family, The Sacramento Bee12 noted.

    It's one of the most crucial aspects of being able to live happily, even if it's not forever after. No matter how old you are, people need to know they're wanted, to feel at home, to look forward to seeing familiar faces and knowing they can freely share both stresses and joys, but such freedom is missed most by the elderly when they no longer have it. Further, social support of that magnitude doesn't have to come from a hundred friends, but ideally it should be at least two good friends or relatives to fulfill that sense of belonging we all need.

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  • Dental Dedication: Improve Your Oral Health
    published on January 12th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    It’s unfortunate how many fail to fully appreciate the importance oral health has on their overall health. The fact of the matter is, the delicate balance of bacteria in your mouth is as important to your health as your gut microbiome. When certain bacteria become overabundant, various oral problems start to develop.

    Periodontal disease, for example, which affects the soft tissues and bone, is initiated by an increase in Porphyromonas gingivalis, which impairs your immune response, while dental caries had been causally linked to Streptococcus mutans.1 Your oral health, in turn, impacts the rest of your body, and can have a significant impact on your disease risk.

    Type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease are strongly connected, for example.2 Research also shows that failing to brush twice a day increases your risk of dementia by as much as 65 percent, compared to brushing three times a day, and good oral hygiene has been shown to lower your risk of pneumonia by about 40 percent.3

    When bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease enter into your circulatory system, your liver releases C-reactive proteins, which have inflammatory effects. Inflammation, in turn, is known to be a disease-causing force leading to most chronic illness. For example, inflamed and diseased gums may raise your risk of a fatal heart attack by up to 10 times.

    What’s worse, according to Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry, heart attacks related to gum disease are fatal 9 times out of 10. So, a major part of oral health is attending to your oral microbiome. If you’ve been lax about your oral health, make this the year you grab the proverbial bull by the horn and really make an effort to address the health of your mouth.

    Ditch Mouthwashes and Fluoridated Toothpaste to Improve Your Oral Microbiome

    Your oral microbiome is like your gut microbiome in the sense that it needs to be well-balanced in order to support optimal health. Even otherwise harmless bacteria can have pathogenic effects if the balance gets too disrupted. However, while ingesting probiotics will improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, this strategy does not work for your oral cavity. Instead, the key to improving your oral microbiome is, first and foremost, to cease the indiscriminate killing of microbes in your mouth.

    This means abstaining from harsh alcohol-based mouthwashes and toothpastes containing fluoride and antimicrobial ingredients such as triclosan. Fluoride not only harms your microbiome, but also has many other detrimental health effects. In fact, fluoride overexposure from toothpaste, fluoridated water and other sources has led to a virtual epidemic of fluoride damage.

    At present, 4 out of 10 adolescents in the U.S. have fluoride-damaged teeth — a condition known as dental fluorosis. Fluoride is also an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar level.4 Fluoride has also been linked to brain damage and lowered IQ in children.5 While your teeth need certain minerals and nutrients, fluoride is not one of them, and even topical application of fluoride has come under question.6

    Brush With Coconut Oil and Baking Soda Twice a Day

    Daily tooth brushing is the most basic of oral care. Research suggests the ideal brushing time is two minutes, and the ideal pressure is 150 grams, which is about the weight of an orange. Brushing your teeth too hard and longer than necessary may cause more harm than good, so there’s no reason to brush harder or longer. Ideally, brush twice or three times a day — in the morning, evening and 30 to 60 minutes after your main meal.

    The reason why brushing immediately after eating is not recommended is because doing so may actually weaken rather than strengthen your tooth enamel. This counterintuitive finding was revealed in a 2004 study,7 which found that brushing your teeth too soon following eating or drinking, especially acidic foods and drinks such as soda, accelerates dentin erosion. As reported by The New York Times.8

    “Acid attacks the teeth, eroding enamel and the layer below it, called dentin. Brushing can accelerate this process, said Dr. Howard R. Gamble, president of the Academy of General Dentistry. ‘With brushing, you could actually push the acid deeper into the enamel and the dentin,’ he said.

    In one study, a group of volunteers were followed for three weeks as researchers examined the impact of brushing on their teeth after they drank diet soda. The scientists found an increase in dentin loss when brushing in the 20 minutes after drinking soda. But there was considerably less wear when brushing took place 30 or 60 minutes afterward.”

    Try Making Your Own Toothpaste

    As for toothpaste, I recommend using nonfluoridated versions for all the reasons mentioned earlier. Also check the ingredient list for other harmful ingredients such as triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, diethanolamine, parabens and microbeads. Your safest bet is make your own toothpaste, which is both simple and inexpensive.

    For example, you could simply mix coconut oil and baking soda with a pinch of Himalayan salt. High-quality peppermint essential oil can be added for flavor and cavity prevention. Start with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil and baking soda, and add more of one or the other until you get an agreeable consistency. (Slightly firmer consistency tends to be easier to use.) Here’s another, clay-based, recipe by MindBodyGreen:9


    • 1/2 cup bentonite clay
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 2/3 cup water
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon stevia (optional)
    • 1 to 4 drops peppermint essential oil


    Mix the clay and salt in a bowl. Add the water. Mix well. Add the rest of ingredients and mix until it forms a paste. Store it in a jar with a lid. Every time you go to use it, spoon some onto your toothbrush. Dampen the paste by putting your brush under some gently running water and brush as usual.

    Add Flossing to Your Daily Routine

    While most people brush their teeth every day, the practice of flossing is more frequently overlooked. This is unfortunate, as flossing is perhaps even more important than brushing. It removes bacterial precursors of plaque, which eventually turns into hard tartar that cannot be removed by regular brushing or flossing. Tartar is what eventually causes the damage that leads to decay and tooth loss. Most people are aware that flossing is a recommended practice for optimal oral health, yet statistics suggest:10

    • 32 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 30 never floss
    • 37 percent floss, but not daily
    • 30 percent floss on a daily basis
    • More women than men never floss

    If you’re among those who rarely or never floss, consider adding this practice to your daily routine. One way to improve your odds of making this a daily habit — especially if your excuse is lack of time — is to build up slowly. On the first day, simply floss a single tooth. The next day, do two. On Day Three, floss three teeth, and so on, until you’re in the habit of flossing your entire mouth each day.

    Basic Flossing Guidelines

    To ensure a proper floss:

    • Use a piece of floss that is about 15 to 18 inches long and wrap each end around your index fingers. If you have wider spaces between your teeth, use Super Floss, which is thicker
    • Gently slide the floss between your teeth. Avoid snapping the floss down into your gums
    • At the gum line, wrap the floss around the side of the tooth in the shape of a “C,” and gently but firmly slide the floss up and down the tooth and side-to-side, making sure you get down into the gum line as well. Make sure you scrub both sides of the adjacent teeth before moving on to the next set
    • Repeat on the rest of your teeth, including the back side of your last tooth

    If dexterity is an issue, use soft plaque removers instead of floss. Similar to toothpicks, they allow you to clean between your teeth with one hand. If brushing, flossing or using a plaque remover causes your gums to bleed, this is a warning sign that bacteria are at work, causing damage. If left to fester, it can easily cause chronic inflammation elsewhere in your body. The answer is to gently floss and brush more often, until your gums no longer bleed from brushing or flossing. If bleeding persists longer than a week, see a dentist.

    Trade Your Mouthwash for Oil Pulling

    Next, if you’ve never tried oil pulling with coconut oil, consider trying it now. Recent research11 suggests using mouthwash twice a day may increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within three years by as much as 55 percent. As reported by British Diabetes News,12 “Scientists at Harvard University were analyzing links between over-the-counter mouthwash and its potential to predispose people to metabolic disorders because of the antibacterial ingredients mouthwash contains.”

    More than 1,200 overweight individuals between the ages of 40 and 65 who were at high risk of Type 2 diabetes were included in the study. Seventeen percent of the control group went on to develop Type 2 diabetes over the next three years, whereas 20 percent of those who used mouthwash once a day, and 30 percent of those using mouthwash twice a day developed diabetes. The latter was deemed to be a statistically significant increase, suggesting the connection warrants further examination. According to the authors:

    “The indiscriminate routine use of antibacterial mouthwash products may cause more harm than good, in light of recent studies, and further supported by findings from this study … Mouthwash use may also have a detrimental impact on diabetes control and possible complications, as these share some common … pathways with blood pressure and diabetes."

    Oil pulling has been scientifically verified to help eliminate unhealthy biofilm, debris and harmful bacteria from your teeth, much like mouthwash. It basically acts as a safe and natural detergent, without the adverse effects. Some believe oil pulling may have even more extensive benefits to your health. While I cannot support all of those claims, I do have firsthand knowledge of how oil pulling benefits oral health as I have been pulling consistently since 2011.

    In the video above I describe how I use oil pulling in my own oral health practices and the benefits you may experience as well. One of the reasons it works so well for cleansing your teeth and gums is because bacteria have fat-soluble membranes that break down with the mechanical action of swishing and pulling the oil through your teeth.13 Coconut oil also has the added advantage of inhibiting Streptococcus mutans, the chief bacteria responsible for cavities.14

    Basic Oil Pulling Instructions

    Here are the basic instructions for how to do it:

    • Measure out about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. You may find this is too much or not enough, but it's a good place to start
    • Swish the oil around your mouth, using your tongue and cheeks to pull the oil through your teeth. Coconut oil is solid below 76 degrees F (24.4 degrees C) but will quickly liquefy once you start moving it around your mouth. Try to relax your jaw muscles to avoid muscle fatigue
    • Although you’re using it like you would a mouthwash, avoid gargling and be careful not to swallow the oil. If you feel the urge to swallow, spit it out and start again
    • After several minutes, the oil begins to thicken, becoming milky white. After five to 10 minutes of pulling, spit the oil into your garbage can or outdoors. Spitting it into the sink may cause your drain to clog

    Increasing the pH in your mouth after pulling may reduce bacterial growth even further. To do that, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 6 ounces of water and gargle. This will alkalize the pH of your mouth, and since bacteria thrive in an acidic environment, the increased pH will discourage growth.

    I personally use 1 teaspoon of potassium bicarbonate to normalize the oral pH and then swallow it to help normalize systemic pH. I like potassium bicarbonate better than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as most of us are deficient in potassium, not sodium.

    Nutritional Supplements That Support Oral Health

    Last but not least, you may also consider taking nutritional supplements that support gum and oral health, such as:

    Vitamin C, which helps improve and preserve periodontal health by improving your body’s defense mechanisms.15

    Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Bleeding gums is often a sign of CoQ10 deficiency. If you’re an adult, the reduced version of CoQ10, called ubiquinol, tends to be more readily absorbed.

    Vitamin K2. The second highest concentration of vitamin K2 in your body is in your salivary glands, and vitamin K is secreted in saliva. Research16 shows that when vitamin K2 is administered, it reduces bacterial counts in your saliva. Specifically, vitamin K2 reduced the concentration of a bacteria involved in tooth decay, Lactobacillus acidophilus, from a count of 323,000 to 15,000.

    This is intriguing, since fermented vegetables, which are loaded with friendly bacteria that improve digestion, alter the flora in your mouth as well. And when made using a special culture, fermented vegetables are an excellent source of vitamin K2. Since the addition of vitamin K2-rich fermented vegetables to my diet, my plaque has decreased by half and is much softer.

    Homeopathic tissue salts such as silica, calcarea fluorica (calcium fluoride), calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate. (Calcium fluoride should not be confused with the chemical formulation of sodium fluoride found in toothpaste, which is toxic and carries a poison warning).

    Develop a Comprehensive Oral Health Plan

    Caring for your teeth and gums is an essential part of your overall health and wellness. It's important to address nutrition, oral care and the products you use. To summarize, here’s a five-step plan that can help you improve your oral health this year:

    1. Reduce your net carbohydrate intake to meet your insulin level requirement. I suggest you reduce your overall net carbs (total grams of carbohydrates minus your grams of fiber intake) if your fasting insulin level is over 5. Aside from sugar, avoid carbs like beans, legumes and grains such as rice, quinoa and oats, as well as highly-processed grain products like bread, pasta, cereal, chips, bagels and fries. These begin digestion in the mouth and impact the health of your teeth the most.

    Limit your daily fructose intake to 25 grams or less. Even fructose found in fresh fruit should be limited until you’ve normalized your insulin and leptin levels. If you’re already struggling with Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance, consider restricting your total fructose to 15 grams per day until your insulin sensitivity has been restored.

    Focus on eating a diet of fresh, whole foods, including grass fed meats and organic and fermented vegetables. This helps ensure you get plenty of minerals for strong bones and teeth. If needed, consider adding one or more nutritional supplements to support your oral health.

    2. Brush twice or three times a day, 30 to 60 minutes after drinking and/or eating.

    3. Use nonfluoridated toothpaste, or make your own using natural ingredients such as coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils. There is no compelling reason to expose yourself to dangerous chemicals when other natural alternatives are easily available, highly effective and cost efficient.

    4. Floss daily.

    5. Pull with coconut oil once a day, ideally first thing in the morning, for five to 10 minutes to reduce bacterial growth, strengthen your teeth, reduce bad breath and lower your risk of gum disease.

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  • How to Grow Milk Thistle
    published on January 11th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Most people actually consider milk thistle a pesky weed, and while it can be quite invasive, it also possesses remarkable medicinal benefits that make it worth keeping around. Most notably, this tall, thorny herb with spiky flowers has been prized for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties. It is also highly regarded as a liver tonic due to high amounts of a chemical compound known as silymarin.

    Silymarin is a group of flavonoids (silibinin, silidianin and silicristin) known to help repair your liver cells when they’ve been damaged by toxic substances. These flavonoids also protect new liver cells from being destroyed by toxins. As such, milk thistle greatly improves the overall functioning of your liver, with specific applications related to cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver inflammation and liver damage from alcohol and other intoxicating substances.

    While all parts of the milk thistle plant are edible, silymarin is contained in the seeds only. Because a single plant produces thousands of seeds that spread very easily, you’d be wise to check with your local cooperative extension office to find out if milk thistle is considered an invasive species in your area. If it is, you may be banned from growing it.

    The History of Milk Thistle

    Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — also known as Mary thistle and holy thistle — is a common flowering herb1,2 within the Asteraceae family. Some of its close relatives include aster, daisy, dandelion, sunflower and ragweed. It is highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties and has been used in traditional Chinese, European and Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,000 years. It originated in Southern Europe, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region, but now grows wild around the world.

    Under almost any conditions, milk thistle grows 3 to 4 feet tall, featuring glossy, milky-white veined leaves and bright magenta or purple flowers beset with prickly spines. Its name results from the milky white sap its leaves release when they’re crushed. Since its healing properties were first described in 40 A.D. by Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides, particularly related to treating snakebites,3 milk thistle has been used to treat a variety of ailments.

    Today, milk thistle is available in a capsule, extract or powder form shown to benefit your liver, gallbladder, heart or prostate. According to the National Institutes of Health, silymarin is the most commonly used herbal supplement in the U.S. for liver problems.4 It is also useful as an essential oil.

    Considerations Before Growing Milk Thistle at Home

    Before you think about planting milk thistle in your garden or yard, be sure to check with your local cooperative extension to ensure it is not banned. Washington state5 recognizes the plant as a “Class A Noxious Weed” that must be eradicated when found. Although occasionally found in gardens, it is illegal to buy or sell milk thistle in Washington state.

    Arkansas and Oregon also have restrictions. Even if you live elsewhere and are permitted to plant it, be forewarned: Milk thistle is a highly invasive weed that can quickly spread all over your yard, and neighboring yards as well. Milk thistle spreads quickly based on the reality a single flower head contains nearly 200 seeds.

    Because these seeds germinate in temperatures ranging anywhere from 32 to 86 degrees F, this hardy plant can remain viable for nearly a decade. Once it is established and its seeds are allowed to spread, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to stop it. Because milk thistle is also toxic to livestock, you will want to take care in planting it outdoors if you live on a farm or maintain farm animals of any kind.

    How to Grow Milk Thistle

    Barring those concerns, you’ll find milk thistle is easy to grow. It will tolerate any soil, and can get by even in drought conditions. Basically, you can plant them and leave them and they will still thrive. Below are steps you can take to plant milk thistle in your garden or yard:6,7


    1. Choose a sunny or lightly shaded area
    2. Direct sow milk thistle seeds in the spring after the last expected frost
    3. Place seeds shallowly — at a depth of about a quarter of an inch — in groups of three to four seeds each
    4. Space seed groupings about 30 to 36 inches apart
    5. Water well to encourage growth (alternately, you can soak the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting them)
    6. After seedlings appear, thin each group to the one strongest plant
    7. Seeds will germinate in about three weeks in temperatures around 54 to 59 degrees F

    When starting seedlings indoors, plant seeds about two months before the last frost. Fill starter pots with peat moss and follow the planting instructions above. Milk thistle seeds sown directly outdoors produce biennial plants in most climates, which means they will flower their second season. Plants started indoors are grown as annuals and will flower in the first year.

    Milk thistle flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. In addition, many species of birds seek out the seeds for food. During late summer when the flowers dry out, it’s common to see birds clinging to the spiny stalks of milk thistle and swaying in the wind as they chomp away on the seeds.

    Harvesting Milk Thistle

    Given their many thorns, it is best to put on a pair of thick gardening gloves before attempting to touch milk thistle, especially when harvesting their flowers for seeds. Keep in mind the average milk thistle plant may possess upward of 6,000 seeds! About 90 percent of them will remain viable after harvest.8

    If you plan to collect seeds, you will want to harvest them before the plants fully mature. If the plants mature unattended, the seed heads will break on their own, making seed harvesting impossible. This is because when milk thistle flowers begin to dry out (usually in the fall), they produce silvery-white, tufted seed heads known as pappus (similar to dandelions). To extract the seeds from the flower heads you will need to:9,10

    • Cut dried blossoms off the plant from the base of the flower head
    • Place the flower heads in a paper bag and keep the bag in a warm location for about a week to allow them to dry completely
    • Put the dried flower heads into a burlap sack, shake the bag well and then use your hands to coax the remaining seeds from the heads
    • Dump the seeds into a bucket and separate out the unwanted chaff
    • Once all the chaff is removed, store your milk thistle seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them

    How Milk Thistle Benefits Liver Health

    Whether or not you are able to grow your own, high-quality, organic milk thistle is inexpensive and readily available at your local health food store. Under the direction of your doctor, you may want to consider adding milk thistle to your diet if you are dealing with a liver-based problem such as:11

    Additionally, animal studies involving silymarin suggest it is useful to reduce liver injury caused by a number of drugs and environmental toxins, including:12

    Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

    Alcohol, drugs and psychotropic medications

    Chemotherapy and radiation

    Industrial chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride, toluene and xylene13

    Iron overload

    Poisonous liquids such as phenylhydrazine

    Seven Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

    In case you are wondering how milk thistle can benefit you if you do not have liver issues, check out these seven additional ways milk thistle is purported to support your health:14,15

    Assists with antioxidant activity

    Milk thistle seeds contain a potent antioxidant called silymarin, which helps your body fight free radicals and reduce inflammation

    Boosts prostate health

    Silymarin and a related milk thistle compound called isosilybin B not only have been shown to support prostate health through normal cell development, but also to be effective in the treatment of prostate cancer.16

    Counteracts mushroom poisoning

    Intravenous administration of silymarin is the only known remedy used to stabilize cell membranes and inhibit absorption of toxins from Amanita phalloides. This deadly mushroom, known as the death cap, is commonly mistaken for edible varieties.

    Encourages healthy skin

    Due to its antioxidant properties, silymarin is believed to have protective effects on your skin. In lab research, it has exhibited preventive and anticancer effects against skin cancer.17

    Improves lipid profiles

    Most likely due to the presences of silymarin, along with other flavonoids, milk thistle is thought to encourage proper lipid absorption and synthesis in your body. A 2012 study18 showed silymarin was effective to significantly reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while significantly elevating HDL (“good”) levels.

    Promotes normal blood sugar

    Research suggests silymarin decreases fasting blood sugar levels. Authors of one such study said: “[S]ilymarin treatment in Type 2 diabetic patients … has a beneficial effect on improving the glycemic profile.”19

    Supports your liver, kidneys and gallbladder

    Milk thistle has long been known to support your liver, kidneys and gallbladder health. Silymarin helps your liver grow new cells by boosting protein synthesis, and it has been effective in addressing toxin-induced liver aliments, including the treatment of liver diseases and liver cancer.20 It protects your kidneys against inflammation, free radical damage and toxins. Silymarin has also been shown to prevent the formation of gallstones.21

    How to Use Milk Thistle

    Given its many health benefits, you may be interested in knowing how to use milk thistle. Below are some ways you can incorporate this unique herb into your diet:22

    • Powdered: Use a mortar and pestle to crush milk thistle seeds into a powder that can be added to soups, stir-fries and other dishes
    • Salads: Because the entire plant is edible, you can add milk thistle flowers, leaves, roots and stalks to salads or incorporate them into cooked dishes
    • Smoothies: For a healthy liver smoothie,23 soak 2 tablespoons of milk thistle seeds in filtered water overnight; the next morning, add the milk thistle (and soaking water), 1 cup of lemon juice,1/3 cup of lycium berries and 1.5 cups of ice to your blender and combine until smooth
    • Snacks: Although it may be a bit of an acquired taste, milk thistle seeds can be eaten dry, as is
    • Tea: Crush either or both milk thistle seeds and dried leaves to make a loose tea blend you can steep in an infuser with hot water; add a healthy sweetener of your choice to tone down the somewhat bitter flavor, or add a peppermint teabag for a different taste sensation24

    Milk Thistle Oil

    In addition to oral milk thistle supplements, you can also purchase it in essential oil form. Extracted from the ripe seeds, milk thistle oil is abundant in sterols, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin E, giving it nutritive and skin-protective properties.25 It may actually help soothe skin problems like acne, eczema and rosacea.26 Milk thistle oil is also commonly added to cosmetics. Here’s one way you can use milk thistle oil on your hair:27

    • Add one drop of milk thistle oil to 10 drops of your preferred carrier oil
    • Massage the diluted oil all over your scalp 10 minutes before showering
    • Wash and style your hair as usual

    Buying Milk Thistle Supplements

    You can find milk thistle at most health food stores under the names silymarin or silybum. Your best options are extracts of milk thistle with silybum or silymarin standardized to 70 to 80 percent. The recommended daily intake is 420 milligrams in divided doses.28 While you can stay on milk thistle indefinitely, it is not generally recommended. Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking milk thistle on a continuing basis, especially if you are using other medications.

    Is Milk Thistle Right for You?

    If you have concerns about your liver health or are interested in any of the other potential health benefits — anticancer, antidiabetic and heart-boosting properties — of silymarin, you may want to give milk thistle a try. If you are not able to grow it in your area, a high-quality milk thistle supplement may be worth considering. While milk thistle is the richest known source, you can also find silymarin in artichokes, turmeric and coriander (cilantro).

    Despite its many beneficial properties, milk thistle is not for everyone. According to WebMD, you should not take milk thistle if any of the following conditions apply:29

    • You experience bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea or an upset stomach after taking it
    • You are breastfeeding or pregnant
    • You have a ragweed allergy
    • You have cancer of the breast, uterus or ovaries, endometriosis or fibroid tumors (mainly because milk thistle can mimic the effects of estrogen)

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  • Grow Your Own Food
    published on January 11th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    Growing your own food is a convenient and cost-effective means of boosting your nutrition and health. Garden-grown organic vegetables and fruits are nutrient-rich and represent the freshest produce available. Growing your own crops not only improves your diet, but it also:

    • Enhances and protects precious topsoil
    • Encourages composting, which can be used to feed and nourish your plants
    • Minimizes your exposure to synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and other toxins
    • Promotes biodiversity by creating a natural habitat for animals, birds, insects and other living organisms
    • Improves your fitness level, mood and sense of well-being, making gardening a form of exercise

    While gardens have many benefits, the most important reason you should plant a garden (especially given the many issues associated with industrial agriculture) is because gardening helps create a more sustainable global food system, giving you and others access to fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food.

    Sprouts Are a Nutrient-Dense Food Easily Grown in Small Spaces

    If you are new to gardening and unsure about where to start, consider sprouts. Sprouts are an easy-to-grow, but often overlooked, superfood with a superior nutritional profile. You can grow sprouts even if you don’t have an outdoor garden, and you should consider them if you live in an apartment or condo where space is limited. (For more tips on growing food in small spaces, Alex Mitchell's book, “The Edible Balcony: Growing Fresh Food in Small Spaces,” is an excellent resource.)

    A powerhouse of nutrition, sprouts may contain up to 30 times the nutrition of organic vegetables grown in your garden, and they enable your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals such as calcium and magnesium bind to protein, making them more bioavailable. Furthermore, the quality of the fiber and protein content of most beans, grains, nuts and seeds improves when sprouted.

    Sprouting also helps reduce toxic lectins, the sugar-binding plant proteins known to attach to your cell membranes, which are often a hidden source of weight gain and ill health. The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids also increases dramatically during the sprouting process. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, sprouts have been shown to:

    • Defend against free radical damage due to the antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals they contain
    • Inhibit abnormal cell growth due to being abundantly rich in oxygen (bacteria and viruses generally cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment)
    • Protect your body against disease, including cancer, due to their alkalinizing effects (many tumors are acidic)
    • Support cell regeneration

    I grow sunflower sprouts in trays because they provide some of the highest quality vegetables you can eat. Sprouted sunflower seeds also contain an abundance of chlorophyll, which will help detoxify your blood and liver. Beyond their superior nutritional benefits, sprouts are inexpensive to grow and can be added to salads, sandwiches, smoothies and vegetable juices.

    Home Gardening Is the Answer to Many of Our Problems

    There's no doubt that home gardening is an important step toward building a more sustainable food system. I've been encouraging readers for years to plant gardens as a means of making high-quality, nutrient-dense foods more readily available. After all, food grown in your own garden is fresher, more nutritious and tastes better than store-bought food — and you can't beat the convenience and price. Those are just a few of the many benefits of putting a garden in your backyard.

    According to a survey1 by Gardeners' World magazine, 80 percent of gardeners reported being "happy" and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of nongardeners. Many of the happy feelings undoubtedly come from sticking your hands in the soil and spending time in nature, which includes vital sun exposure that helps promote your body's synthesis of vitamin D.

    In addition, walking barefoot outdoors and making contact with the soil provides you with the many health benefits associated with grounding, also known as earthing. As detailed in the documentary film, “Grounded,” walking barefoot on grass or bare ground transfers free electrons from the Earth's surface into your body that spread throughout your tissues, providing beneficial effects.

    Grounding has been shown to enhance well-being, improve sleep, reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If you are a gardener, you undoubtedly can attest to the uptick of energy and positive feelings that accompany the work. An additional pleasure comes from cultivating and eating your own homegrown food.

    Wood Chips Can Help Make Your Garden Self-Sustaining

    What many fail to realize is that your health ultimately depends on the health of the soil because it is the vehicle through which vegetables and fruits can become nutrient-dense. When soils are depleted of nutrients, the foods grown in them will be deficient in critical minerals and phytonutrients. Unfortunately, that's the state of a large portion of the Earth's soils today. Despite many years of adding chemical fertilizers, most soils remain depleted of nutrients.

    Soil health is maintained and maximized by the microorganisms living in the soil, such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Far from being scourges to be avoided, microorganisms are an essential necessity for optimal plant growth. It is the cooperation between these microorganisms, the soil's biome and the plants' roots — called rhizosphere — that enable the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil in which it's grown. The 2011 film ”Back to Eden” underscores the premise that nature is self-sustaining.

    At the end of the growing season, when left alone, the ground becomes covered with leaves and organic materials that turn into lush compost, adding nutrients back to the soil. This top layer of organic material also shields the soil and helps retain moisture. By imitating nature and simply covering his garden with wood chips, the movie's gardener Paul Gautschi finds he does not need to water his garden and yet it continually yields plenty of large, well-formed, delicious fruits, berries and vegetables.

    While you could purchase wood chips from a garden store, I suggest you contact a local tree service instead. They usually have far larger and less expensive options they need to get rid of anyway so, like me, you may be able to get a big load at a minimal cost. It will take some time and a number of phone calls but you will typically be pleased with the results.

    After successfully using wood chips in my own garden and yard, I agree they are a crucial part of the equation for creating healthy soil to produce healthy plants. They not only eliminate the need for fertilizer and mineral supplements, but also reduce the need for watering and weeding.

    Industrial Agriculture Is a Risky Choice

    Without access to homegrown food, you become dependent on the global industrial agriculture system, which I assure you does not have your health in mind. Far from being life-sustaining, the world's large-scale, chemical-dependent farming methods:

    Degrade and contaminate soil

    In the average diet, grains account for about 70 percent of daily calories, and grains are grown on about 70 percent of the acreage worldwide. The continuous replanting of grain crops each year leads to soil degradation, and 40 percent of the world's agricultural soil is now classified as either degraded or seriously degraded.

    Top soil is also lost, which means our current modes of operation simply will cease to be effective at some future point. Experts suggest we have less than 60 years of topsoil remaining.2

    Contaminate and overconsume water supplies

    Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of our fresh-water use. When the soil is poor, water is wasted because it simply washes through the soil and away from the plant's root system. According to Environment America,3 corporate agribusiness is "one of the biggest threats to America's waterways."

    Tyson Foods Inc. was noted as the second-worst polluter, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014. The report authors stated: "The company's pollution footprint includes manure from its contract-growers' factory-farm operations, fertilizer runoff from grain grown to feed the livestock it brings to market … and waste from its processing plants."

    Contribute to greenhouse gas emissions

    While fertilizer production produces its share of greenhouse gases, most of the emissions occur when it is applied to crops.

    According to the International Panel on Climate Change,4 1 out of every 100 kilograms of nitrogen fertilizer applied to farmland ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) and known to deplete the ozone. In 2014, those released gases equaled the average annual emissions of 72 million cars driven in the U.S.

    Reduce biodiversity

    To achieve efficiencies of scale, industrialized agriculture demands a monoculture, wherein farmers grow a single crop exclusively. Sadly, monoculture has contributed to dietary changes that promote ill health. Today, the primary crops grown on large-scale industrial farms are canola, corn, soy, sugar beets and wheat — the core ingredients in processed foods known to promote disease, nutritional deficiencies and obesity.

    Threaten food safety and promote disease

    Agricultural overuse of drugs, especially antibiotics, has led to the development of drug-resistant disease, which has now become a severe health threat. Pandemic outbreaks are also becoming more prevalent in concentrated animal feeding operations, revealing the inherent flaws of industrialized animal farming.

    As noted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: "The rapid spread of new disease strains ... is one very visible reason why the expansion of factory-style animal production is viewed as unsustainable."5

    Jeopardize food security

    Due to the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, industrial agriculture has a devastating effect on important pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. Says The New York Times: “Plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of global crop-production volume, with a value of as much as $577 billion a year."6

    Promote nutritional deficiencies and poor nutrition

    Industrial farming is set up and subsidized to grow ingredients used in processed foods — this is the cheapest way to feed the 7.5 billion people on the planet. What people really need for optimal health is more fresh, nutritious produce.

    According to research presented at the 2016 American Heart Association's Epidemiology/Lifestyle meeting,7 adding one more serving of fruits and vegetables a day could prevent as many as 3.5 million deaths from heart disease in just two years.

    Necessitate the use of unnatural farming methods and chemicals

    Industrialization led to the separation of crops and livestock farming into two different specialties, a change that has done tremendous harm. As a result, a host of land maintenance services that animals previously provided for free are now less-effectively handled using chemical and mechanical means, much to the detriment of humans, animals and the environment alike.

    Quality Soil Is Key: The Five Principles of Regenerative Agriculture

    Thankfully, there are better solutions than industrial agriculture. Regenerative agriculture, which makes use of cover crops, focuses on no-till and supports herbivore grazing, can help solve many of our most pressing problems, including reducing atmospheric CO2 levels and normalizing weather patterns.

    After visiting with Gabe Brown, a pioneer in regenerative land management, on his farm in Bismarck, North Dakota, I am even more convinced that growing nutrient-dense food is only possible with healthy soil. Brown suggests there are five basic principles to growing topsoil and building a healthy soil ecosystem on farms. Because his guidance also applies to home gardens, you should:

    1. Avoid disturbing the soil microbiome.The less mechanical disturbance the better, which means no tillage, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides.
    2. Protect the soil's surface. Use cover crops, untreated lawn clippings, mulch and wood chips to maintain soil biology, prevent water evaporation and lower soil temperature, which is particularly important on hot days.
    3. Diversify your crops. Having a diverse array of plant life is essential to healthy soil, and cover crops help fulfill this requirement.
    4. Maintain living roots in the ground as long as possible. Growing something at all times is key to soil vitality, so be sure to plant a cover crop after you harvest your vegetables.
    5. Integrate livestock and other animals, including insects. To mimic the large herds of wild animals, such as bison and elk, that previously roamed the Northern Plains, Brown pastures chickens, cows, lambs and pigs to benefit the soil and ensure a highly nutrient-dense finished product. Flowering plants that attract pollinators and predator insects will naturally help ward off garden pests.

    Gardening Tricks That Work

    Try these gardening tricks that involve another beneficial practice, recycling:8

    • Make green tea fertilizer: By steeping a green tea bag in 1 quart of water, you can create a simple fertilizer, when cooled, that can be applied once every four weeks. You can also make compost tea.
    • Reuse glass bottles for self-watering: Fill empty glass beverage and food bottles with water, then place them upside down into terra cotta irrigation spikes positioned inside your containers. This provides your plants with a self-watering system that will last for days.
    • Transform old milk jugs for garden uses: You can create a do-it-yourself watering can by poking holes in the cap of a gallon jug and filling it with water. If you are short on pots for growing herbs, simply cut the tops off gallon jugs and fill them with potting soil to make your own portable herb garden.
    • Use coffee filters for transplanting: If you know you'll be transplanting your plant at a later date, place a coffee filter into the bottom of the first pot prior to planting. The filter will help keep the soil together when it's time for transplanting.

    Starting Seedlings Indoors Can Extend Your Growing Season

    Whether you're working with containers or have an outdoor garden patch, you can get an early start by growing seedlings that can later be planted outdoors after the danger of spring frost has passed. Growing seedlings, which can take between four and 12 weeks to sprout, will allow you to harvest your vegetables four to six weeks earlier than had you planted the seeds directly outdoors.

    This can also be particularly useful in areas where the growing season is short. When growing plants such as artichokes and asparagus from seeds, it is best to start them indoors. The University of Maine, which has a helpful website describing how to grow seedlings, says:9 "Using transplants instead of direct seeding is especially important for plants that take a long time to mature or are sensitive to frost, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and melons." To grow seedlings, you need just a few supplies:

    • Fresh organic seeds, ideally heirloom varieties
    • Containers about 2 to 3 1/2 inches deep with drainage holes
    • Soil blend, such as a fine-textured mix of equal parts of peat moss and vermiculite or perlite

    Once your seedlings are grown and the outdoor temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, they will require a period of "hardening off" to prevent them from going into shock when planted into the ground. This is done by placing them outdoors for a few hours a day over several days in a semi-shaded location, gradually increasing their sun exposure. Transplant your seedlings into your garden in the late afternoon when the weather is cooling down or on a cloudy day, and water the plants thoroughly.

    No matter what you choose with respect to gardening, I hope you will do your part to grow your own fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food. You won't regret the investment. Each of us must take steps now to save the planet, our food supply and ourselves. To do so, it's clear that small-scale organic and sustainable farming must not only prevail, but also flourish.

     Comments (39)

  • Fiber Is Your Food Foundation
    published on January 10th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

    This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

    By Dr. Mercola

    Most people, Americans in particular, need to eat more fiber. The evidence suggests a high-fiber diet can help manage your weight,1 which impacts over two-thirds of the population. Even more importantly, researchers have discovered that short-chain fatty acids produced by bacteria that feed on plant fiber are major epigenetic communicators. In other words, they actually communicate with your DNA, thereby providing protection against a number of different diseases.2,3,4

    Studies have also confirmed that high-fiber diets help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause5 — a side effect linked to a reduction in chronic disease risk. When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds, not grains, as grains tend to promote insulin and leptin resistance.

    Also, research confirms that in order to work, the fiber must be unprocessed.6,7 Processed supplement fiber such as inulin powder does not provide gut bacteria with what they need. It’s far better to use a supplement that is processed from sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) that inulin is typically extracted from.

    Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp and chia seeds are other excellent fiber sources.

    Different Types of Fiber

    There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Ideally, you need both on a regular basis. Digestive-resistant starches can be considered a third type of fiber, differentiated from insoluble fiber by the fact that many of their benefits result from the fermentation process that occurs as they move through your large intestine.8

    Soluble fiber, found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer, which can help with weight control. Soluble fiber also hinders the breakdown and digestion of dietary cholesterol, which can help normalize your cholesterol level.

    Likewise, it slows down the rate at which other nutrients are digested, including carbs, so they're not as likely to raise your blood sugar. Some foods rich in soluble fiber also help feed good bacteria in your gut.

    Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery and carrots, does not dissolve and stays basically intact as it moves through your colon. By adding bulk to your stool, it helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.

    Insoluble fiber is also sometimes called roughage, a term that, to a degree, describes its function. As it moves through your colon, it helps move along food particles that may tend to adhere to the sides. Food that remains stuck to your colon may cause bloating, pain and constipation, as well as other problems.

    Digestive-resistant starch. To this we may also add digestive-resistant starches, found in chilled, cooked potatoes,9 seeds, tapioca starch and unripe tropical fruits such as banana, papaya and mango. These naturally occurring resistant starches are basically low-viscous dietary fibers. Like insoluble fiber, digestive-resistant starch is not broken down as it travels through your digestive tract and therefore adds bulk to your stool. They’re also powerful prebiotics.

    By slowly fermenting in your large intestine, they feed gut bacteria that support optimal health. Best of all, they don't spike your blood sugar the way the completely ripened fruit would do, so they're also much more likely to improve insulin regulation.10,11

    Why Add More Fiber to Your Diet?

    Dietary fiber basically slows down your digestion and fills up space in your stomach and intestines, both of which will help manage your portion sizes and help you feel fuller longer. But that’s hardly the sole reason to eat more fiber. More importantly, all three types of fiber help nourish a healthy gut microbiome and serve to decrease your risk of several health-compromising conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, along with a number of gut-related health problems.

    One study showed that for every 10 grams of fiber you add to your overall fiber intake, you lower your risk for all-cause mortality by 10 percent.12 Another study13 published in 2014 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.

    A report14 funded by the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation found that were U.S. adults over the age of 55 with heart disease to take psyllium dietary fiber daily, it could save nearly $4.4 billion a year. These cost savings are largely related to an 11.5 percent reduction in coronary heart disease-related medical events.

    Researchers have also found that low-fiber diets can have generational effects by passing on an impoverished gut flora to your children. The study15,16 in question found that low-fiber diets cause “waves of extinction” in the gut of mice, and that this altered gut flora gets passed on to offspring. As much as 60 percent of the microbe species suffered severe decline in the low-fiber group.

    In some cases, their numbers remained low even after the mice were again given high-fiber meals, suggesting it can be quite difficult to repopulate certain gut bacteria once they’ve been severely diminished. Each successive generation of offspring in the low-fiber group also ended up with less diversity than their parents, suggesting the problem is compounded over generations.

    The Many Health Benefits of Fiber

    There are many good reasons to add more fiber to your daily diet, including the following:

    Improved blood sugar control

    Soluble fiber may help to slow your body's absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control. Research also shows that women with the highest soluble fiber intake had 42 percent less insulin resistance.17

    In another study, people who had the highest intake of fiber (more than 26 grams a day) also had an 18 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake (less than 19 grams a day).18 The fiber may benefit diabetes by altering hormonal signals, slowing down nutrient absorption and/or altering fermentation in the large intestine, along with promoting feelings of satiety.19

    Better heart and cardiovascular health

    An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.20 High-fiber diets are also associated with beneficial reductions in blood pressure21,22,23 and cholesterol, as well as improved insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation, all of which help lower your risk for heart disease.

    Interestingly, recent research24 has discovered that a smell receptor (Olfr78) in your kidneys (which is also found in your nose) actually receives messages from gut bacteria that help regulate your blood pressure. As reported by Scientific American,25 “The researchers have uncovered a direct, molecular-level explanation of how the microbiome conspires with the kidneys and the blood vessels to manipulate the flow of blood.”

    The smell in question is that of acetate and propionate, which are produced when fiber is fermented. As noted in the article, “more than 99 percent of the acetate and propionate that floats through the bloodstream is released by bacteria as they feed … Bacteria are therefore the only meaningful source of what activates Olfr78 — which, further experiments showed, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure.”

    Stroke prevention

    Researchers have found that for every 7 grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent.26 This equates to increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables by about two additional portions per day.

    Improved immune function

    Fiber fuels beneficial bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids that help regulate your immune function. These fats and ketones help increase T regulatory cells that help prevent autoimmune responses. These specialized immune cells are also critical for regulating intestinal inflammation.27

    Other research28,29 has linked T cells called Tregs to the prevention and reversal of metabolic syndrome, in part by stimulating oxidative metabolism in your liver and adipose tissue.

    Improved mitochondrial health

    The short-chain fatty acids produced through fiber fermentation also serve as substrates for your liver to produce ketones that efficiently fuel your mitochondria and act as powerful metabolic signals.

    Weight management

    Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people,30 likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness. However, there's more to it than that. When microbes in your gut digest fiber, a short-chain fatty acid called acetate is released. The acetate then travels from your gut to the hypothalamus in your brain, where it helps signal you to stop eating.

    Skin health

    Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.

    Prevention of gut problems such as diverticulitis and leaky gut

    Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis — inflammation of your intestine — by 40 percent.31 Sufficient amounts of fiber will also help prevent the breakdown of your gut barrier, thereby lowering your risk for leaky gut and related health problems.

    Leaky gut refers to a condition in which physical gaps between the cells that line your intestinal barrier develop, thereby allowing undigested food particles into your blood stream.32 A gut protein called zonulin regulates the opening and closing of these holes in the cell wall of your intestine.

    When a gap develops, larger molecules such as food particles can get through, thereby causing allergic reactions and other problems such as Type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

    Hemorrhoid prevention

    A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids caused by chronic constipation.

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) relief

    Fiber may also provide some relief from symptoms of IBS.

    Reduced risk for gallstones and kidney stones

    A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.

    Most Beneficial Sources of Dietary Fiber

    While grains are still heavily promoted as good sources of fiber, they’re actually one of the least optimal sources out there. Today, nonorganic wheat and many other grains are routinely doused with glyphosate just before harvest — a process known as desiccation — which increases yield and kills rye grass. As a result of this practice, most grains, especially nonorganic wheat, is heavily contaminated with glyphosate, which has been linked to celiac disease and other gut dysfunction.

    Needless to say, this is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve by eating more fiber. Cereal grains may have been a good source of fiber in the past, but not anymore. A high-grain diet also promotes insulin and leptin resistance, thereby raising your risk for chronic diseases such as 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 of the following:

    Organic whole, unsweetened husk psyllium.33 Taking psyllium three times daily could add as much as 18 grams of fiber to your diet

    Chia seeds.34 A single tablespoon will provide about 5 grams of fiber

    Sprouts such as sunflower sprouts


    Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts

    Root vegetables and tubers, including onions, sweet potatoes and jicama

    Mushrooms such as button, chanterelle, maitake, shiitake and oyster mushroom35

    Peas and beans. Keep in mind beans are best avoided if you are sensitive to lectins

    How Much Fiber Do You Need?

    As for how much you need, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests daily targets for women and men at 25 and 38 grams of fiber respectively,36 while the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends getting 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. I believe both of these may be insufficient for optimal health.

    My recommendation for daily fiber intake is 25 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. When adding more fiber to your diet, do it gradually, and be sure to drink plenty of water along with it. Without sufficient amounts of water, the fiber will not pass smoothly through your system, and may result in constipation instead.

    When a Low-Fiber Diet May Be Helpful

    Despite all of its benefits, there are times when a high-fiber diet may be temporarily contraindicated. If you have chronic digestive symptoms like diarrhea, flatulence, stomach pains, reflux, leaky gut syndrome, food allergies or food intolerance, you’d be wise to implement the GAPS program. GAPS stands for Gut and Physiology Syndrome. The first part of the GAPS Introduction Diet is to remove fiber, as it feeds microbes.

    As mentioned, your digestive system is not designed to actually break down fiber. This task is performed by the microorganisms in your gut. If your gut is filled with pathogenic bacteria and/or yeast and fungi, fiber may actually make your symptoms worse.

    The digestive system of those with GAPS is predominantly populated by pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi, which is why fiber must be carefully eliminated from your diet for a period of time, to help starve them out. If you’re interested in trying this out, I highly recommend getting Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome,” which provides the full protocol.  

    Make a Commitment to Eat More Fiber This Year

    Remember, dietary fiber has many benefits, as long as most of it is coming from high-quality whole food sources such as fresh organic vegetables, organic psyllium and chia seeds. Adding more mushrooms to your diet is also recommended, as they have great medicinal value over and above any fiber content. I personally take six different mushroom powders every day.

    Fiber 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. They also contribute to the production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which increase mucin in the gut that decreases leaky gut and also improves the health of your gut lining.

    While not mentioned above, fermented vegetables are another excellent choice, as not only are you getting valuable fiber from the vegetables, this fiber is also preloaded with beneficial bacteria that nourish your gut. And gut health is really paramount if you’re seeking to improve your health and prevent or treat any kind of disease.

    Remember to avoid grain-based fiber sources, as this can threaten your health in a number of different ways, from raising your insulin and leptin levels, to increasing your glyphosate exposure. Processed grains are particularly harmful and are second only to refined sugar and fructose in terms of promoting chronic disease.

    So, make this year the year you give fiber the consideration it deserves, and add more veggies, nuts, seeds and berries to your diet. Again, if you still fall short, organic psyllium and/or chia seeds are a great way to boost your fiber intake.

     Comments (47)

  • Discover the Answers to Your Common Health Questions
    published on January 10th, 2018 at 08:48 AM

    By Dr. Mercola



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