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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.

  • Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good?
    published on April 25th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Vitamin D, often referred to as "the sunshine vitamin," is different from other vitamins in that it influences your entire body.

    And, while scientists refer to vitamin D as a vitamin, it is actually a steroid hormone obtained from sun exposure, food sources and supplementation. Vitamin D receptors have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones.

    Unfortunately, dermatologists and the media do the public a great disservice by recommending avoiding the sun to decrease skin cancers.1,2

    This is because these "experts" fail to realize that vitamin D deficiency not only raises your risk of skin cancer3 but many of the most common cancers as well, which claim far more lives than the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma.

    Breast4 and prostate5,6 cancers are just two examples where low vitamin D renders you more vulnerable to more aggressive forms of the disease. Low vitamin D also raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases.

    The scientific evidence, now running in excess of 34,000 studies, details the many benefits of UV exposure, both for vitamin D production and other benefits that are completely unrelated to vitamin D.

    The most important thing you can do to prevent skin cancer is to spend a sufficient amount of time in the sun as frequently as possible, ideally close to daily to maintain an optimal vitamin D level.

    A primary risk factor for skin cancer is intermittent overexposure, not sensible exposure. Appropriate sun exposure means, first and foremost, avoiding sunburn. As long as you avoid sunburn you are getting the benefits of sun exposure.

    Sunscreen Chemical Is Lethal to Horseshoe Crabs

    Avoid shielding yourself from the sun's rays by slathering on chemical sunscreens, many of which have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer, as noted by clinical laboratory scientist Elizabeth Plourde, Ph.D.,7 in the video above. Sunscreens have also been implicated in the destruction of corals and other sea life.

    A recent symposium on emerging environmental contaminants highlighted the environmental dangers associated with widespread sunscreen use. According to University of Delaware marine biologist Danielle Dixson, the chemical oxybenzone in sunscreens is lethal to horseshoe crab eggs.

    In Delaware, beach season coincides with the spawning season of horseshoe crabs, and since they lay their eggs in the sand in shallow water, they're particularly vulnerable to chemical contaminants introduced by beachgoers.

    Researchers estimate sunscreen-wearing beachgoers introduce as much as 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen into the world's oceans each year. As reported by Cape Gazette:8

    "'Sunscreen exposure strongly influences the development, growth and survivorship of the horseshoe crab egg and larvae,' [Dixon] concluded …

    The chemical found in Hawaiian Tropic used in Dixson's study is oxybenzone, which has been found to alter the DNA of coral, increase susceptibility to coral bleaching and disrupt the endocrine systems of marine animals.

    Research has found the chemical impacts aquatic life at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion — the equivalent of one drop of water in about six Olympic-size pools, Dixson said."

    Sunscreens Contain Many Potentially Hazardous Chemicals

    While some sunscreen manufacturers have switched from oxybenzone to avobenzone, researchers like Dixon note no studies have been done to confirm whether avobenzone is actually a safer choice. Chances are, it's not.

    Disturbingly, recent research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found 96 percent of the U.S. population has oxybenzone in their bodies, and this chemical is a known endocrine disruptor linked to reduced sperm count in men and endometriosis in women.9

    Disturbingly, at least nine of the sunscreen ingredients the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved are known endocrine disruptors.10

    Aside from oxybenzone — which is found in 70 percent of sunscreens — other commonly used chemicals that can enter your bloodstream and can cause toxic side effects, including hormone disruption, include but are not limited to:11,12

    Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)

    Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

    Octyl salicyclate

    Phenylbenzimidazole

    Octocrylene

    Octisalate

    Dioxybenzone

    Menthyl anthranilate

    Homosalate

    Octinoxate

    Cinoxate

    Parabens

    Many sunscreens also contain vitamin A and/or its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, which have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer by increasing the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread.

    Beware of Nanoparticles

    Spray-on sunscreens13 pose an additional hazard by releasing toxic particles into the air. The FDA has previously expressed concern that inhaling these products may be risky, especially to children, and has warned parents to avoid spray-on sunscreens.14,15

    The two agents of greatest concern are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as these are the two most often used in spray-on sunscreen products. These two minerals are the safest topical sunscreen agents around, but inhaling them is a whole different story.

    Most studies to date have shown that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe and unlikely to penetrate your skin when applied topically, as long as they are not nanosized.

    But when these minerals are inhaled, they have been shown to irritate lung tissues and potentially lead to serious health problems,16 and the finer the particles, the worse their effects appear to be.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as a "possible carcinogen" when inhaled in high doses.17 According to IARC:18

    "Titanium dioxide causes varying degrees of inflammation and associated pulmonary effects including lung epithelial cell injury, cholesterol granulomas and fibrosis. Rodents experience stronger pulmonary effects after exposure to ultrafine titanium dioxide particles compared with fine particles on a mass basis."

    Safe Versus Unsafe Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide

    Most nanoscale particles (microscopic particles measuring less than 100 nanometers)19 found in American sunscreens are either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.20 Animal research has shown that inhaled nanoparticles can reach all areas of your respiratory tract and, since your lungs have difficulty clearing small particles, they may be allowed to pass into your bloodstream.

    Other studies have proven some nanoparticles are even able to cross your blood-brain barrier. If allowed to enter your lungs or penetrate your skin, nanoparticles therefore have the potential to cause widespread damage to your cells and organs, immune system, nervous system, heart and brain.21,22 Some scientists postulate that the toxic effects of nanoparticles relate to their size being in the range of a virus, which may trigger your body's immune response.23

    Inhaling higher amounts of zinc oxide can also lead to "metal fume fever,"24 characterized by chest pain, cough, dyspnea, reduced lung volumes, nausea, chills, malaise and leukocytosis. One animal study found zinc oxide nanoparticles to be cytotoxic, interfering with zinc homeostasis, elevating zinc levels and resulting in apoptosis (cell death).25

    An Indian study concluded that zinc oxide particles cause toxicity in human lung cells possibly through "stress-induced apoptosis."26

    Human studies are sorely lacking as to the health effects of inhaling of zinc oxide particles, especially at lower levels, such as from brief exposure to sunscreen spray. However, using these spray-on products are clearly an unnecessary risk since safer options are readily available. Your safest bet is to use topical zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that does not contain nanosized particles.

    Sun Avoidance Promotes Early Death

    One of the most compelling reasons for getting regular, sensible sun exposure on bare skin is that it promotes optimal physical and psychological health and helps prevent chronic diseases of all kinds. As noted in a scientific review27 by dermatologist Dr. Richard Weller, sun exposure has cardiovascular benefits independent of vitamin D, and cardiovascular disease is a far greater public health problem than skin cancer.

    In fact, research suggests your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke is 800 percent greater on average than your risk of dying from skin cancer.28 One of the key messages in Weller's paper is that public health messages really should be determined based on all-cause mortality, not a singular disease.

    "Sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, but sun avoidance may carry more of a cost than benefit for overall good health," he writes. Another study29 published in the journal Public Health Nutrition in 2012 also concluded that:

    "The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM (cutaneous malignant melanoma) risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure. Important scientific facts behind this judgment are given."

    Even though Weller is ahead of the pack in recognizing the importance of sun exposure, he and most other physicians don't understand why this is so. There are many reasons, but two large ones are:

    • Exposure to the sun increases nitric oxide production, which will relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure and decrease platelet activation, making your blood thinner and less likely to clot and form a stroke or heart attack. Nitric oxide will also improve your immune function.
    • Red and infrared rays are rarely discussed but recent research has shown that red at 660 nm and near infrared at 830 nm both have powerful benefits on improving mitochondrial function. This is because cytochrome c oxidase, which is one of the electron transport chains in the mitochondria, are chromophores for those wavelengths and when they absorb that energy the efficiency of ATP and mitochondrial cellular energy is increased. 

    Sun Avoidance Is as Risky as Smoking

    A study30,31 driving home this risk-benefit reality was done in Sweden. More than 25,500 Swedish women between the ages of 25 and 64 were followed for 20 years. Detailed information about sun exposure habits and confounding factors were obtained and analyzed in a "competing risk" scenario. Overall, women who got regular sun exposure did have a higher risk for melanoma compared to sun avoiders, but they also had a lower all-cause mortality risk, likely due to their increased vitamin D levels.

    Women with active sun exposure habits ended up having a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and non-cancer death compared to those who avoided the sun. According to the authors:

    "Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking. Compared to the highest sun exposure group, life expectancy of avoiders of sun exposure was reduced by 0.6 [to] 2.1 years."

    In short, if you're concerned about mortality, and not just mortality from one specific disease (melanoma), the scales are decidedly tipped toward sun exposure being of tremendous benefit. Five of the many noteworthy properties of spending some quality time in the sun include:32

    1. Pain-killing (analgesic) properties
    2. Increased subcutaneous fat metabolism
    3. Regulation of human lifespan (solar cycles appear to be able to directly affect the human genome, thereby influencing lifespan)
    4. Daytime sun exposure improves evening alertness
    5. Conversion to metabolic energy (i.e., we may "ingest" energy directly from the sun, like plants do)

    Measure Your Vitamin D in Summer and Winter

    As a general rule, I recommend measuring your vitamin D level twice a year, in the middle of the summer and winter, to ascertain your annual high and low. Ideally, you want your serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) to be between 40 and 65 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) year-round. Anything below 20 ng/mL is considered a serious deficiency state that increases your risk of both acute and chronic ill health.

    When it comes to optimizing your vitamin D through sensible sun exposure, keep your skin color in mind. African Americans are more prone to vitamin D deficiencies as they produce less vitamin D3 than do Caucasians in response to usual levels of sun exposure. As a general rule, the darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need, and vice versa.

    Remember the absolute best way to optimize your vitamin D level is by sensible sun exposure. I haven't swallowed oral vitamin D for over 10 years now and my level is rarely below 70 ng/mL, but that is because I made a conscious effort to move down to Florida and walk in the sun for 90 minutes nearly every day.

    I realize that not everyone can do this, and if you can't, then taking a supplement is likely a wise choice. I just want you to recognize it is a significantly inferior alternative as you are also missing out on the nitric oxide, and the red- and near-infrared benefits from the sun mentioned above.

    Reduce Your Risk of Sunburn With 'Internal Sunscreens'

    As mentioned, one of the primary risk factors of skin cancer is sunburn, which is an inflammatory process. Aside from paying careful attention to covering up before you get burned, you can reduce your risk of sunburn by eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and/or taking an astaxanthin supplement. The latter has been shown to work as an effective internal sunscreen, protecting your skin from UV radiation damage.

    In addition to copious testimonials and anecdotal evidence, scientific studies have substantiated these skin protective effects.33 In one study, subjects who took 4 milligrams (mg) of astaxanthin per day for two weeks showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin. Animal studies lend further evidence to astaxanthin's effects as an internal sunscreen:

    • In one study, mice were fed various combinations of astaxanthin, beta-carotene and retinol for four months. Astaxanthin was substantially effective in preventing photoaging of the skin after UV radiation, as measured by markers for skin damage34
    • A rat study found astaxanthin was found to be 100 times stronger than beta-carotene and 1,000 times stronger than lutein in preventing UVA light-induced oxidative stress35
    • The Journal of Dermatological Science published a study in 2002 finding astaxanthin is able to protect against alterations in human DNA induced by UVA light exposure36

    How to Choose a Safer Sunscreen

    There are thousands of sunscreens on the market and it may seem daunting to find a safe one. The majority of chemical sunscreens contain endocrine disruptors, which are particularly risky for pregnant women, infants and small children. These can disrupt growth and development, cause early puberty and result in small testicle size and low sperm count in boys. They also have carcinogenic potential.37

    Among the worst are those containing oxybenzone, synthetic fragrances and retinyl palmitate. When choosing a sunscreen, your safest choice is a lotion or cream with zinc oxide. It's stable in sunlight and provides the best protection from UVA rays.38 Your next best option is titanium dioxide. Just make sure the product:

    • Does not contain nano sized particles
    • Protects against both UVA and UVB rays

    Keep in mind that SPF protects only from UVB rays, which are the rays within the ultraviolet spectrum that allow your skin to produce vitamin D. The most dangerous rays, in terms of causing skin damage and cancer, are the UVA rays. Avoid sunscreens with an SPF above 50.

    While not intrinsically harmful, the higher SPF tends to provide a false sense of security, encouraging you to stay in the sun longer than you should. Moreover, higher SPF typically does not provide much greater protection. In fact, research suggests people using high-SPF sunscreens get the same or similar exposure to UV rays as those using lower-SPF products.

    Other Safe Sunning Tips

    I recommend spending time in the sun regularly — ideally daily. Sunshine offers substantial health benefits, provided you take a few simple precautions to protect yourself from overexposure. Here are my top five safe sunning tips:

    1. Give your body a chance to produce vitamin D before you apply sunscreen. Expose large amounts of your skin (at least 40 percent of your body) to sunlight for short periods daily. Optimizing your vitamin D levels may reduce your risk of many internal cancers, and actually reduces your risk of melanoma as well.

    2. Stay out just long enough for your skin to turn the very lightest shade of pink. Shield your face from the sun using a safe sunscreen or hat, as your facial skin is thin and more prone to sun damage, such as premature wrinkling.

    3. When you'll be in the sun for longer periods, cover up with clothing, a hat or shade (either natural or shade you create using an umbrella). A safe sunscreen can be applied after you've optimized your skin's daily vitamin D production, although clothing is your safest option to prevent burning and skin damage.

    Keep in mind that in order for sunscreen to be effective, you must apply large amounts over all exposed areas of your skin. This means the product should not trigger skin allergies and must provide good protection against UVA and UVB radiation. It also should not be absorbed into your skin, as the most effective sunscreen acts as a topical barrier.

    4. Consider the use of an "internal sunscreen" like astaxanthin to gain additional sun protection. Typically, it takes several weeks of daily supplementation to saturate your body's tissues enough to provide protection. Astaxanthin can also be applied topically, which is why it's now being incorporated into a number of topical sunscreen products.

    5. Consuming a healthy diet full of natural antioxidants is another highly useful strategy to help avoid sun damage. Fresh, raw, unprocessed foods deliver the nutrients that your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 and animal-based DHA omega-3 oils in your skin, which are your first lines of defense against sunburn.

    Vegetables also provide your body with an abundance of powerful antioxidants that will help you fight the free radicals caused by sun damage that can lead to burns and cancer.





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  • Can Spinal Adjustments Relieve Lower Back Pain?
    published on April 25th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The American Chiropractic Association states at any one time, nearly 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain.1 In 2012, the American Physical Therapy Association surveyed and found more than one-third of adults were affected, but two-thirds of them chose not to seek treatment.2

    As the population of the U.S. was nearly 313 million at the time of the survey,3 an estimated 103 million were suffering lower back pain, and both national and state level estimates of the prevalence of lower back show it's rising. On any given day, 2 percent of the U.S. population is disabled by back pain.4

    Chronic back pain may occur consistently, or you may experience times of remission when the pain dissipates and you move about freely without discomfort. Chronic back pain, defined as being present for 12 weeks or more,5 occurs in approximately 20 percent of people.6

    Most cases of lower back pain are related to a mechanical issue. In other words, the pain is related to a musculoskeletal condition, and not the result of an underlying medical condition such as kidney stones, cancer, arthritis or fracture.7

    Fortunately, many musculoskeletal issues may be successfully addressed without the use of surgery or dangerous drugs. A recent study has demonstrated the average person experienced a one-point reduction in lower back pain following spinal manipulation.8

    Spinal Manipulation May Reduce Lower Back Pain and Improve Function

    The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), was a meta-analysis of 26 medical studies involving 1,700 patients with lower back pain between 2011 and 2017.9

    The spinal manipulation was performed by a variety of professionals, including chiropractors, physical therapists, osteopaths and massage therapists.10

    The results from this study demonstrate a modest improvement in pain following a spinal manipulation, which is approximately the same amount of pain relief as over-the-counter pain relievers or non-inflammatory non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications.

    The researchers also found spinal manipulation had an effect on overall function. The average person reported greater ease and comfort in their day-to-day activities, such as walking, sleeping or turning in bed.

    These results are not considered "clinically meaningful improvement," according to Dr. Wolf Mehling, from Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.11

    However, while these results appear to be modest in nature, it is important to recognize the results are an average, and that the participants only underwent manipulation.

    In other words, they were not given any additional rehabilitative exercises designed to maintain functional movement of the spine gained after manipulation, or to reduce inflammation in the area of pain.

    None of the studies found serious side effects from the treatment. Some patients did experience slight muscle stiffness or headache following the adjustment.12 Dr. Richard Deyo, an internist and professor of evidence-based medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, wrote an accompanying editorial, saying:13

    "Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is a controversial treatment option for lower back pain, perhaps in part because it is most frequently administered by chiropractors.

    Chiropractic therapy is not widely accepted by some traditional health care practitioners. This may be, at least in part, because some early practitioners of chiropractic care rejected the germ theory, immunizations and other scientific advances."

    Early traditional medical practitioners also rejected germ theory, immunizations and other scientific advances.

    The controversy may also be, in part, due to the fact that chiropractors often rely on nutrition and exercise to alleviate musculoskeletal issues, rather than prescribing dangerous drugs or surgery that may do more harm than good.

    What Causes Back Pain?

    Determining the cause of your back pain is as important as the treatment you choose. If you don't treat the underlying cause of the pain, it may simply return.

    One common cause is an imbalance of muscle contraction and stretching that results from long hours of sitting at your job, commuting and relaxing at home in the evening hours.

    Sitting shortens the iliopsoas muscles that connect your bones in the lumbar region of the spine to the top of your femur. This may cause severe pain when standing, as the change in position pulls your lower back forward. Many end up going through medical procedures to "fix" this problem, or taking drugs for long periods of time.

    Pain can also be triggered by a simple activity or movement, such as bending over to pick up an object from the floor. However, this type of pain often originates in the prior months from poor posture, obesity or poor physical condition facilitated by inactivity.

    Each of these factors places stress on the lower back that it was not designed to withstand. Over time, like any other overuse injury, the area becomes weakened and the muscles inflamed, triggering pain and discomfort.

    One way to help prevent lower back pain triggered by weak muscles or poor posture is to develop firm abdominal muscles that act like a built-in corset, holding your gut and stabilizing your spine and discs.

    This is an effective method of treating the cause of lower back pain, instead of just the symptom of pain. Using drugs to mask pain, or muscle relaxers to mask an inflammatory response, will not change the cause and it's likely you'll experience recurring pain.

    Spinal Fusion is Not the Answer

    Spinal fusion surgery rarely cures chronic back pain. In the past 15 years, the number of spinal fusions performed has exploded by nearly 600 percent, while the rate of success has actually plummeted.14 Insurance reimbursement for procedures and rising cost of surgical hardware have contributed to the financial growth.

    A case study in Florida demonstrated how fees for this procedure grew from $47 million a year to $2 billion, adjusted for inflation.15 Originally, fusions were used to treat an unstable spine after a catastrophic accident that left the spine fractured, so patients were not bedridden for two months while the vertebrae healed.

    At some point in the 1980s the surgery was also used for degenerative disc disease, to stabilize the area through a period of instability. Lower back pain associated with degenerative disc disease is often linked with excessive stress on the spinal discs, resulting in tearing or bulging and pain.

    Triggers include excess weight, poor posture and cigarette smoking.16 However, eliminating motion in the area of disc degeneration does not affect the original cause and therefore you remain at risk for continued damage to your spine.

    Dangers of Using Drugs to Mask Back Trouble

    Traditional health practitioners are often quick to prescribe pain medications, including NSAIDs and even opioids, for chronic back pain. While the drugs may provide immediate pain relief, the effect is temporary.

    Unfortunately, the pain relief may tempt you to over exert inflamed muscles and, in some cases, you may suffer hyperalgesia, or an increased sensitivity to the pain. Drugs and opioids mask the pain, but do not address the cause of the problem, leaving you in worse shape than before you took the medication.

    While there is reason to use a short-term course of medication in severe cases, the best form of treatment is to address the cause and change the way you use your body to affect a long-term improvement.

    Moreover, drugs come with severe side effects, even those dispensed over-the-counter. NSAIDs may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, as well as severe gastrointestinal bleeding, increased blood pressure and kidney damage.17

    As significant as those side effects are, opioid prescriptions come at an even higher cost. Opioid painkillers, like OxyContin, commonly prescribed for back pain, are highly addictive and one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs today.

    Back pain has actually become one of the primary triggers for the growing opioid addiction epidemic.

    The bottom line is that painkillers come with severe health risks, especially when combined with other medications, such as muscle relaxers and anti-seizure medication. Using pain medications also potentially sets up a vicious cycle, during which you may over exert yourself while the pain is masked, causing more injury to inflamed muscles.

    Effective Strategies to Reduce Back Pain Without Drugs

    There are effective strategies to reduce your risk of developing lower back pain, or preventing further damage, all without using drugs. Your physician may recommend painkillers to dull the ache in your lower back, but without making permanent changes to the way you use your back, you'll likely not get rid of the underlying problem.

    Spinal manipulation has been a safe and effective practice used for the last century.18 While it is an effective means of reducing pain in your lower back, a full evaluation and follow-up exercises may also help prevent lower back pain as you learn how to use your back and lower extremities properly, including lifting, walking, sitting and standing.

    Even if you aren't currently experiencing back pain, I would advise you to consider the following treatment strategies to prevent an occurrence or recurrence of lower back pain:

    Regular stretching

    I strongly advise you to engage in a regular stretching program. My favorite is active isolated stretching (AIS), developed by Aaron Mattes. It's completely different from the traditional type of stretching, and is a great way to get flexibility back into your system.

    Stop smoking

    Smoking reduces blood flow to your lower spine, increasing the risk of disc degeneration.

    Optimize your vitamin D level

    Get enough vitamin D from sun exposure daily, as vitamin D helps keep your bones, including your spine, strong.

    Maintain optimal weight

    Carrying extra weight, especially around your middle, increases stress on the lower back and changes your center of gravity, also changing your posture.

    Protect your back

    You use your back muscles with most body movements, so it is important to protect your spine, especially while lifting. Do not bend forward to lift, but rather lower your body to the ground by bending your hips and knees while keeping your back straight. Use the muscles in your thighs and hips to rise again, holding the object close to your body to distribute the weight more evenly.

    Don't lift a heavy object above your shoulder level and avoid twisting your body while carrying a heavy object.

    Mind your posture

    You also protect your back by using good body mechanics to sit, stand, walk and sleep. It may feel like it is second nature to perform these daily activities, but when done incorrectly, you may be increasing chronic stress to your lower back.

    Practice proper posture while sitting and standing every hour. Pay careful attention to consciously suck in your belly and rotate your pelvis slightly up.

    At the same time, keep your head back, with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This posture will keep your spine in proper alignment. Do this every hour while sitting and standing, holding muscles tight, for several minutes.

    Stay hydrated

    Your muscles and spinal discs depend on water to maintain good health and reduce inflammation.

    Wear low-heeled shoes

    High heels may make a fashion statement, but you'll likely pay the price after just a short time as high heels put your hips and lower back into poor alignment, placing stress on your lower back.

    Switch positions

    Remaining in place for long periods of time can increase the experience of stiffness in your muscles and reduce flexibility in your joints. Switch positions in your chair frequently; check your posture and don't stay standing in one position for very long.

    Two Highly Effective Treatment and Preventive Strategies

    Two highly effective means of preventing lower back pain are closely related — staying active and practicing interrupted sitting may help to improve muscle strength and coordination, reduce stiffness and improve blood flow. Exercise and movement are two ends of the same spectrum. Exercise is important to raise your heart rate and improve muscle strength, while non-exercise movement is important for overall health.

    Both are also important to your back health. The benefits of exercising for 30 minutes or more each day may actually be counteracted by sitting for long periods of time. While you may not be able to avoid sitting at your desk at work, it is important to make accommodations to improve your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health. At this time I believe it is important to be standing as much as possible during the day.

    Consider a modified desk at work where you can stand to work 50 minutes and sit for 10 minutes an hour, instead of standing 10 minutes and sitting 50. Balance boards can increase the amount of work your muscles do and increase circulation while standing. The benefits of standing and walking as much as possible during the day, using good posture, cannot be overstated. In fact, using these strategies was exactly how I eliminated my own back pain.

    Foundation Training Hits Back Pain Where It Starts

    I am convinced that non-exercise movement, or the way you move your body when doing everyday activities, may be the most important component of exercise. Dr. Eric Goodman is an expert in structural biomechanics. He developed Foundation Training, based on exercises that teach you how to optimize posture and reduce body pain. In this interview he discusses the importance of body position to your overall health.

    The secret to the program is simplicity — you don't need a gym or specialized equipment. By incorporating this series of powerful movements into your daily routine, you learn how to move better and use your body the way it was designed to be used. This reduces pain and discomfort, and significantly reduces your risk of overuse injuries.

    A major contributor to back pain is sitting for eight to 10 hours each day. Walking with good posture can maximize the benefits of movement and is foundational for optimal health. Using simple body weight exercises, you integrate muscle movement and elongate your core and posterior chain. These are the muscles that connect your pelvis through your lower back and up to your trapezius muscles in your upper back.

    By improving the power, coordination and integration of these muscles, you may alleviate many chronic musculoskeletal pain issues, including your lower back. This means Foundation Training will not only help lower back pain, but also train your muscles to work functionally and may help reduce other pain that results from poor posture or improper use. In the video below, Goodman walks you through three simple Foundation exercises to improve your posture.





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  • Half the World Is Drinking Contaminated Water
    published on April 25th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act was supposed to ensure clean water for swimming, fishing and drinking.1 Unfortunately, after more than four decades of regulations, American waterways are in serious jeopardy.

    Toxic runoff from industries, improper disposal of medications and agricultural runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and large factory farms all contribute to a severe water pollution problem.

    Not only are groundwater aquifers rapidly depleting, but much of the world's water supply has become too contaminated to drink or bathe in. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly two billion people don't have safe drinking water.2

    Forced to drink contaminated water, hundreds of thousands of people die from preventable diseases each year. Not only a problem for developing countries, water across the world is contaminated with pollutants that treatment plants are not prepared to filter.

    Water Pollution Threatens Your Health

    Pollution is not only affecting the health of humans, but also plants and animals on which we depend for our food supply. For example, the South Asian water basin should supply water to more than 750 million people, but the water is not even usable for irrigation due to arsenic contamination and excess salt.3

    Factory farms are undoubtedly the greatest contributor to water pollution in the U.S., posing multiple threats to humans, plants and wildlife. Aquatic creatures are dying at higher than normal rates, and are born disfigured. Frogs with six legs or male fish that lay eggs are just two examples.

    A recent U.S. Geological Survey found an alarming number of white sucker fish with prominent cancer tumors in several of Lake Michigan's tributaries. These fish are bottom feeders, eating from the sediment on the river bottom and their health is an indication of how quickly the environment is degrading.

    As fish are succumbing to cancer due to toxins in the environment, it's no great surprise that cancer has become one of the leading causes of death in humans, who are at the top of the food chain.

    Ultimately, water pollution threatens the health of all who touch it, and the effects seen on wildlife may be a preview of what can be expected in humans.

    Two Billion People Drink Water Polluted With Feces

    In an attempt to address the world water pollution problem, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. There are a series of targets countries may use to eradicate poverty and improve living conditions, including affordable water and sanitation, by 2030.

    However, according to WHO, many countries may significantly fall short of this goal without a radical increase in their community investments.4

    The most recent WHO report acknowledged that countries had raised annual budgets for hygiene, water and sanitation an average of 4.9 percent in the past three years, yet that may not be enough. According to Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO's public health department:5

    "Today, almost [2] billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

    Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrheal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma."

    According to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, since 1990 2.6 billion people have gained access to clean water sources, but nearly 663 million are still without access.6

    And, more than 80 percent of wastewater contaminated by human waste is discharged into rivers and oceans without any pollution removal. This may be purposefully or as the result of treatment plant failure.

    On February 9, 2017, King County wastewater treatment plant in Seattle suffered an electrical failure. The failure resulted in catastrophic damage to the plant, after which nearly 30 million gallons of raw sewage and untreated runoff poured into Puget Sound, off the coast of Washington.7

    Other toxic water conditions related to agricultural runoff include the recent algae bloom that closed beaches and killed thousands of fish off the coast of Florida.8 The blooms occurred after nitrogen rich water from Lake Okeechobee was drained and subsequently released into the ocean.

    High levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water, from farm fertilization runoff, triggered algae growth, choking out oxygen in the water and creating a toxic waste area.9

    US Drinking Water Contains Pharmaceuticals and Pesticides

    Research has demonstrated U.S. drinking water is contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, antibacterial products and medications.10 In an ambitious testing project, scientists are gathering samples from the Hudson River to measure levels of pharmaceutical pollution in the waterway.11

    Past testing detected antidepressants, blood pressure medicine and decongestants, among others.

    This round of testing will include a larger portion of the Hudson River and comes immediately following a federal report that showed male fish in the Wallkill River, a tributary of the Hudson, were developing female characteristics. Dan Shapley, water quality director of the Hudson Riverkeeper advocacy group said:12

    "There is a big universe of chemicals that we just don't know what their impact is. It took years for us to understand that greenhouse gases change the Earth's temperature, that nutrients added to water devastates coral reefs. We're just starting to look at what pharmaceuticals can do."

    Two years ago, 83 of 117 chemicals were found in samples from the Hudson, including insect repellent DEET. Researchers are hoping this latest survey of the river will help pinpoint the sources, as the male fish developing female characteristics are from one of New Jersey's most protected water areas.

    Unlike volumes of information available on the health effects of pathogens, the science on long-term exposure to small amounts of a chemical soup mixture of pharmaceuticals is still in its infancy. Research recently released in Environmental Science and Technology found evidence of complex blends of organic pollutants.13

    Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and tested streams across the U.S., looking for 719 organic chemicals in 38 different sources.14

    Every stream, including those from undeveloped and uninhabited areas, had at least one chemical, and some as many as 162. Since many were designed to have biological activity, the scientists believe the potential for complex interactions warrants further study.

    Hexavalent Chromium Spill Reaching Lake Michigan

    Following an accident at U.S. Steel Midwest Plant in Portage, Indiana, an undisclosed amount of hexavalent chromium was discharged into a tributary of Lake Michigan.15

    This toxic metal was the focus of the biographical film, "Erin Brockovich," about a woman who investigated the discharge of this cancer causing chemical near a small town in California. Her data gathering on the deaths and disease in the area brought national attention to this chemical.

    Also called chromium-6, the chemical has found its way into two-thirds of the drinking water across the U.S. An analysis of federal water testing data16 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found hexavalent chromium at levels determined to be unsafe by public health officials.17

    Chromium-6 does occur naturally in the environment, but large amounts are also produced during manufacture of industrial projects, requiring costly disposal.

    Even in small amounts, this metal can cause birth defects, stomach cancer, skin burns and pneumonia. Even though it is classified as a carcinogen, there are no federal standards set for maximum exposure.18 In a statement, Brockovich said:19

    "Houston, we have a problem. More than 20 years ago, we learned that this dangerous chemical poisoned the tap water of California communities, and now these tests and EWG's report show that roughly 218 million Americans are being served drinking water polluted with potentially dangerous levels of this known carcinogen.

    But in that time the EPA hasn't set drinking water standards for any previously unregulated contaminant, and there are disturbing signs the agency may again do nothing about chromium-6. This is an abject failure by the EPA, including members of Congress charged with overseeing the agency, and every American should be outraged by this inaction."

    US Government Policies May Increase Your Risk

    While more than half the world is drinking water contaminated by pollution — whether animal or human waste, agricultural runoff or pharmaceutical products — proposed federal regulations would likely loosen standards and drive water and environmental pollution to even higher levels.

    In a recent sample of water taken from streams that feed the Iowa River, researchers found 63 percent had at least one neonicotinoid, a class of insecticide.20 More concerning were samples from local tap water and from water released at the treatment plant at the University of Iowa, which had three main neonicotinoids, demonstrating filtration was not effective.

    Moving forward, the risk of water pollution may only increase as past environmental protection regulations are rolled back under the new White House administration. Legislation has already been signed that ends a coal mining rule set in place under President Obama, in which waterways were protected from coal mining waste.21

    The Stream Protection Rule required mining companies to restore mined areas to their previous condition. Companies complained it was too expensive. It was just one of the campaign promises that came to fruition after the presidential election, likely to create more damage to the environment.22 Gina McCarthy,  EPA administrator under President Obama commented:23

    "I don't know why they've decided that our core values no longer include clean air and clean water. But that seems to be what this is about. It's executive orders that are threatening the safety of our drinking water for 117 million Americans."

    The changes to environmental policy of this administration make it highly likely water pollution, affecting both the health of the environment and the people drinking it, will only increase, triggering far more damage in the coming years than can reasonably be anticipated now.

    Can a Clay Pot Be the Answer?

    Water pollution and filtration in countries where people are forced to gather water from streams and wells increase the risk these sources are polluted with feces and other pathogenic contaminants. Water pollution in these areas often trigger diarrhea, which is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 5.24

    Simple, locally manufactured, ceramic filters, used for household filtering in developing countries, have been shown to reduce the number of children and adults suffering from pathogenic water contamination.25 The most widely implemented design is from a mission-based organization, Potters for Peace. Harvard graduates Kathy Ku and John Kye have also developed a ceramic filtering device as a for-profit business.26

    Using clay pots for filtration has several advantages and disadvantages.27 On the upside, the pots have proven to reduce the levels of bacteria and protozoa in the water. They are simple to use and have a long life if the filter remains unbroken. However, this type of filtration is not effective against viruses, may break over time and has a low flow rate, filtering between 1 and 3 liters per hour if the water is clear. If cloudy with sediment, the receptacles must be cleaned after each use.

    Although clay pots are an effective means of primary filtration when water treatment is unavailable,28 additional home filtration is often necessary, even when tap water is delivered to your home from wastewater treatment plants.

    Cut Unintended Intake of Drugs and Dangerous Chemicals at Home

    Many drugs and chemicals pass through water treatment plants, ending up in your home. In this video, I discuss how you can reduce your exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxins. It will require a global scale change to stop water pollution that is taking a heavy toll on health and the environment. But, in the meantime, you can make changes at home to protect yourself and your family.

    It is best to adopt the idea that your tap water is less than pure. One of the most comprehensive water testing kits I recommend is from National Testing Laboratories. To assure you drink and bathe in the least contaminated water possible, it is best to filter at the point of entry to your home and at the point of use, such as your sink or shower.

    Unfiltered water also exposes you to chlorine vapors, used to treat the water supply. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other governmental agencies report most homes have measurable levels of chloroform gas, courtesy of chlorine treated water. If you can afford only one filter, it is best to place one on your shower head, as you inhale aerosolized chlorine in the shower and absorb it through your skin. You can actually absorb three times more chemicals from showering or bathing than from oral intake.

    If you get your water from a municipal water supply and don't have a whole house filter, be sure to open up windows on opposing sides of your home to get cross ventilation. Keep the windows open for five to 10 minutes a day to remove chloroform gases. One of the best types of filters I've found uses a three-stage filtration process — a micron sediment pre-filter, a KDF water filter and a high-grade carbon water filter. This combination filters chlorine, disinfection byproducts and many other contaminants.





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  • Study Shows Slashing Pesticides Won't Hurt Production
    published on April 24th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    "The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health," according to recent research published in Nature Plants,1 and I couldn't agree more.

    Even many farmers are interested in cutting their usage, especially in the midst of growing lawsuits alleging that the most commonly used herbicide, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), may be causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in farmers.

    In some ways the cards are stacked against them, however, as the people who often advise farmers on pesticide usage are agrochemical company employees, working on commission. Reducing pesticide usage is not in their, or the companies', best financial interest, which only encourages overuse.

    Without knowledge of how to reduce pesticide usage, and how it might affect yields, many farmers are reluctant to try.

    The Nature Plants study is a major step forward, however, as it found most farmers can reduce their pesticide usage without decreasing their productivity and profits — and in some cases the move may even increase them.

    Most Farmers Could Reduce Pesticide Use by 42 Percent

    In a study of nearly 1,000 French farms, there was no conflict seen between low pesticide use and high productivity and profitability in 77 percent of the farms.

    Further, the researchers found 59 percent of them could cut pesticide usage by 42 percent without harming their production. Forty percent of these farms would even improve their production as a result.2 According to the study:3

    "This corresponded to an average reduction of 37, 47 and 60 [percent] of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, respectively … Our results demonstrate that pesticide reduction is already accessible to farmers in most production situations."

    The findings are eye-opening, especially since the pesticide industry has long maintained that their products are necessary to feed the world. Worldwide, an estimated 7.7 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and that number is steadily increasing.4

    Crop rotation, mechanical weeding and other non-chemical forms of pest control were mentioned as ways that farmers could successfully lessen pesticide use. The major barrier at this time appears to be education. Study co-author Nicolas Munier-Jolain of France's National Institute for Agricultural Research told The Guardian:5

    "If you want real reduction in pesticide use, give the farmers the information about how to replace them …

    This is absolutely not the case at the moment. A large proportion of advice is provided by organizations that are both selling the pesticides and collecting the crops. I am not sure the main concern of these organizations is to reduce the amount of pesticide used."

    Pesticide-Treated Seeds Offer No Significant Gains

    Agricultural pesticides come in many forms. While many people think of them as the type sprayed onto crops after planting, seeds are often treated as well. The majority of soybean, corn, canola and sunflower seeds planted in the U.S. are pre-coated with neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics).

    Neonics persist and accumulate in soils, and since they're water-soluble they leach into waterways where other types of wildlife may be affected.

    Yet, according to an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), treating soybean seeds with neonicotinoids provides no significant financial or agricultural benefits for farmers.6

    The researchers also noted there are several other foliar insecticides available that can combat pests as effectively as neonicotinoid seed treatments, with fewer risks.

    Other studies suggest reducing the use of pesticides may actually reduce crop losses.7 The reason for this is because neonic-coated seeds harm beneficial insects that help kill pests naturally,8 thereby making any infestation far worse than it needs to be.

    According to other research, ecologically-based farming that helps kill soybean aphids without pesticides could save farmers in four states (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin)nearly $240 million in losses each year.9 But despite such findings, farmers have very limited ability to avoid neonic-treated seeds.

    Fungal Pesticides Offer a Non-Chemical Alternative

    Biopesticides, which are those derived from natural alternatives, are projected to grow at a faster pace than chemical pesticides in the coming years. Among them are fungal-based pesticides, which are made from parasitic fungi that infect insects, ultimately killing them.

    So-called entomopathogenic fungi, which can kill insects, collectively make up about 1,000 species — enough to target virtually every agricultural pest, according to University of Maryland entomologist Raymond St. Leger.10

    Unlike synthetic pesticides, many of which are losing effectiveness due to resistance, fungi interact with pests in a way that makes the development of resistance unlikely. Further, as NPR reported, the risks, if any, are minimal:11

    "Nemat Keyhani, a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, says fungus is compatible with organic farming, harmless to vertebrates — like humans, birds, dogs and cattle — and has a low environmental impact."

    Currently, biopesticides cost more than synthetics, take longer to work and must be applied more often. They can also be environmentally sensitive, losing effectiveness at certain temperatures or humidity levels, which means it may be some time before they push synthetics out of the market.

    However, as they grow in popularity, new biopesticides may be developed that tackle some of these issues, making them more attractive to farmers. Already, NPR noted, fungus-based pesticides exist that can do things synthetic pesticides could only dream of.

    "[The] fungus — Metarhizium, or the green muscardine fungus — is frequently used in the field, shielding crops from beetle grubs, wireworm, corn root worms and countless other insects.

    One variant is now being used to develop biopesticides … that can cause a mushroom to grow from a pest's dead body to distribute spores that warn other insects."12

    Research Highlights Glyphosate Exposure Risks for Pregnant Women

    If there were only one major reason to cut back on pesticide usage, it would be to protect future generations. Not only do these chemicals threaten the Earth as we know it, but they pose a direct risk to developing babies.

    In research presented at a 2017 Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) conference in Washington, D.C., it was demonstrated that women exposed to higher glyphosate levels during pregnancy had babies born earlier and with lower adjusted birth weights.

    What's more, the chemical was detected in more than 90 percent of the mothers in the study. Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook said:13

    "This herbicide is practically being tested on newborn children today. Preterm birth and small size may lead to serious health problems later in life, from IQ loss to greater risk of serious diseases, and the outcomes may be even more severe for the following generation.

    These exposures have to stop in order to protect the health of American children."

    Glyphosate has made headlines recently because it's the most used agricultural chemical in history and also because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined it is a probable carcinogen.

    Further, figuring out just how much glyphosate the average person may be exposed to in a day is proving to be an overwhelming task because it's showing up just about everywhere, from Cheerios to coffee creamer.

    Glyphosate Residue Found in 30 Percent of Canadian Foods

    While the U.S. government has yet to test popular foods for this ubiquitous chemical, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has, revealing that nearly 30 percent of the more than 3,000 foods they tested contain glyphosate.14 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.

    Eating non-organic GE foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body.15 However, even non-GE foods can contain high levels of glyphosate, which are likely the result of the common practice of using the herbicide as a desiccant shortly before harvest.

    In northern, colder regions farmers of wheat and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest. Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, Monsanto urged farmers to spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crop and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).

    In some cases, non-GE foods may be even more contaminated with glyphosate than GE crops, because they're being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.

    Monsanto Sued for Misleading Labeling

    Monsanto has long maintained that glyphosate is safe, but it's been added to California's Proposition 65 list of substances that can cause cancer. In addition, it's come out that Monsanto secretly collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to downplay reports that glyphosate causes cancer.

    More than 700 cases have been filed against Monsanto related to Roundup health risks, but this is expected to grow into the thousands in the months to come.16 Meanwhile, the non-profit consumer groups Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that Roundup's labeling is misleading and deceptive.

    Part of the suit relates to Monsanto's language that Roundup targets an "enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets" because, according to the lawsuit, the enzyme is found in people and pets. The suit alleges:17

    "Monsanto aggressively markets Roundup as safe for humans and animals, despite newer studies indicating that glyphosate may be carcinogenic and affect human and animal cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems.

    Reasonable consumers must and do rely on Monsanto to report honestly Roundup's effects on humans and animals and whether the enzyme it targets is found in people and pets. No reasonable consumer seeing these representations would expect that Roundup targets a bacterial enzyme that is found in humans and animals and that affects their immune health."

    Soil Health Is Key to Feeding the World

    It's clear that pesticides are not the answer to solving world hunger; they're a contributor to environmental and human health demise. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has offered incentives for farmers to plant corn for use in ethanol, a non-food crop that may be worse than oil as a fuel source.

    Not only that, but in North Dakota, where many farmers swapped their wheat crops for corn to produce ethanol, the soil is becoming LESS fertile as a result. Yale Climate Connections spoke with Emeric Erickson, a North Dakota farmer, who explained that spring wheat establishes quickly and shades the soil, trapping moisture.18

    Corn crops, on the other hand, are slow to become established, which means the soil gets a lot more direct sunlight that evaporates away the moisture, leaving behind salts from the groundwater. "The salty soil left behind is not as fertile," Erickson says, which suggests, Yale notes, "Farmers must choose between short-term profit and long-term soil health [as] an unintended consequence of the ethanol boom."

    Planting a variety of crops is key to restoring soil health and ultimately feeding the world, as is reducing pesticide usage. The featured study proves this can be done without harming profits and yields, but pesticide makers certainly don't want this news to get out. Fortunately, some farmers are moving toward regenerative, soil-friendly agriculture, anyway, with promising results.

    According to David Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington and author of "Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life":19

    "It makes no sense to continue incentivizing conventional practices that degrade soil fertility. We must begin supporting and rewarding farmers who adopt regenerative practices. Once we see through myths of modern agriculture, practices that build soil health become the lens through which to assess strategies for feeding us all over the long haul.

    … I now see adopting farming practices that build soil health as the key to a stable and resilient agriculture. And [some] farmers [have already] cracked this code, adapting no-till methods, cover cropping and complex rotations to their particular soil, environmental and socioeconomic conditions."





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  • Smithfield Is Engineering Pigs for Use in Human Transplants
    published on April 24th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, is branching out from ham and bacon toward the business of organ transplantation. The CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) giant has even created a new bioscience unit for this purpose, in the hopes of growing pig organs that could one day be transplanted into humans.1

    In 2013, Smithfield was bought by WH Group (formerly known as Shaunghui), the largest meat processing company in China.2 At $7.1 billion — 30 percent above its estimated market value — it was the largest-ever Chinese buyout of an American company.

    Smithfield is now part of a public-private tissue engineering consortium, along with pharmaceutical and other health care companies, that's being funded via an $80 million U.S. Department of Defense grant.3

    The move isn't surprising. Reuters reported that "materials" from 16 million Smithfield pigs, including pancreases, intestinal membrane and thyroid glands, are sent for medical uses every year.

    The market for such products, as well as pork byproducts used for pet food and other non-food purposes, is more than $100 billion in the U.S. alone.4 Courtney Stanton, VP of Smithfield Bioscience, told Business Insider, just how they plan to cash in on the less popular (food wise) pig parts:5

    "First and foremost, we are a food company … Part of that responsibility is making sure we utilize the entire animal, and minimize waste. There are many parts of the animal which are not typically eaten.

    However, we have found valuable uses for these parts such as supplying them to the medical community."

    Are Pig-Human Organ Transplants Coming?

    It hasn't happened yet, but the research is moving this way. One of the hurdles is that the organs could transmit viruses from pigs to people, but this has been somewhat tackled via technology like the gene-editing tool CRISPR, to "delete" the virus genes. There's also a risk that the pig organs could be rejected in humans.

    Other companies in the market, which come from the biotech industry, have bred pigs with human genes added to their livers, kidneys and hearts.6

    Earlier this year, researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, made history by creating a human-pig hybrid, a task achieved by injecting days-old pig embryos with human pluripotent stem cells.7 Such cells, like embryonic stem cells, are able to divide indefinitely and become any type of cell in the body.

    The human-pig embryos were then transferred into adult pigs and allowed to grow for up to four weeks, before they were "removed and analyzed."8 The ability to grow human organs in pigs is undoubtedly an intriguing area of research, especially as about 76,000 Americans sit in wait of healthy organs for transplant.9

    But the reality is that these GMO technologies could have unforeseen and devastating consequences. "The work inevitably raises the specter of intelligent animals with humanized brains and also the potential for bizarre hybrid creatures to be accidentally released into the wild," The Guardian noted.10

    Indeed, no one knows if inserting human cells into non-human animal embryos might lead to the creation of non-human animals with human consciousness. For Smithfield, however, ethical considerations don't appear to be top of mind.

    The company is one of four multibillion-dollar transnational companies — Tyson, JBS and Cargill are the others — that produce about 85 percent of U.S. CAFO meat.

    As Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association put it, "[W]hat the Big Four fear … is the thought of consumers waking up to the horrors of factory farms, and the filthy, contaminated meat that comes out of these animal prisons."

    North Carolina's Pig CAFOs Produce 10 Billion Gallons of Fecal Waste Annually

    North Carolina is the second biggest pork-producing state, which means it's home to more pig CAFOs than average. Smithfield owns most of them in the state.11 Some CAFOs treat animal feces in open-air lagoons and dispose of the waste by spraying it onto nearby fields.

    The creation of new CAFO lagoons, and the spray systems, were banned in 2007, but older farms were allowed to continue their use. The term "lagoon" is a misnomer, by the way.

    Cesspool would be more accurate, as CAFOs do not treat the animal feces in any way. They simply add it to the often-unlined lagoons until they figure out where they can spray it.

    In the meantime, the liquefied waste often leaches into groundwater and wells, poisoning drinking water. When it's sprayed onto fields, it often runs off into waterways, where the excess nutrients lead to algae overgrowth that depletes the water of oxygen and kills fish and other marine life.12

    It's hard to imagine the magnitude of waste being produced by Smithfield's North Carolina CAFOs, but this may help — the state's pig CAFOs alone produce nearly 10 billion gallons of fecal waste annually, which is enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to an analysis of maps and data of the state's CAFOs by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).13

    Manure spills can and do happen, both from hog and other animal CAFOs. Earlier this month, for instance, a staggering 190,000 gallons of waste spilled from an above-ground storage tank at Tony Silveira Dairy in Tillamook, Oregon, because of a broken valve.

    Tillamook Bay, which is home to several commercial oyster growers, was closed to shellfish harvesting as a result.14

    CAFOs Are Knowingly Placed in Flood-Prone Hurricane Regions, Increasing Risks

    Some North Carolina CAFOs face a unique threat that the others don't: hurricanes. Many pigs drown in confinement when flooding occurs, since many of the CAFOs are knowingly placed in flood-prone areas.

    Aside from the ethical ramifications, there is also the added issue of how to dispose of millions of decaying and likely disease-ridden carcasses.

    The year of Hurricane Floyd, eastern North Carolina experienced a "large increase" in visits to health services for intestinal infections in counties with high concentrations of pig farming that were affected by the hurricane.15 Even a splash of floodwater on your face or open cut could be enough to cause infection.

    Floodwaters from hurricanes can cause the already dangerous lagoons (which emit toxic fumes and often leach toxins into groundwater) to overflow, allowing tons of untreated animal feces to flood the area.

    This isn't only theoretical; it's already happened in 1996 following Hurricane Fran, in 1998 following Hurricane Bonnie, in 1999 following Hurricane Floyd, practically every year in many locations — including in 2016 following Hurricane Matthew.

    It's not only Smithfield that's guilty of these environmental and ethical affronts — other CAFOs are also culpable — but Smithfield is the only one of late that's getting into the business of human organ transplantation, where ethics should be held in the highest regard.

    If you want to see what a Smithfield CAFO looks like, watch the video above. In the featured clip, Mark Devries, who's been investigating the environmental effects of CAFOs for years, flies a drone over one of Smithfield's CAFOs.

    Several warehouse-style buildings are lined up next to a giant open air cesspool the size of four football fields, filled with the excrement from the thousands of pigs housed in the buildings.

    Xenotransplantation Coming in 2017?

    Xenotransplantation, or cross-species organ transplants, could occur as early as 2017, as part of a clinical trial, according to Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church. Church formed a company called eGenesis Bio that is developing "humanized pigs" in order for their organs to be transplanted into humans without being rejected. The trial would involve people who are too sick to receive human organ transplants.

    Speaking to Reuters, Church said Smithfield would be a welcome addition to this emerging market. "Even though we've got companies like eGenesis that would make the first pigs, you still need someone who will breed them and do it to scale," he said.16 Unfortunately, raising a large amount of pigs at little cost is what Smithfield knows how to do best.

    The Department of Defense-funded coalition, meanwhile, which Smithfield is also a part of, says its goal is to develop "next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells, tissues and organs for wounded service members."17

    If organs can one day be grown inside animals, we're then faced with the realities of whether this — raising animals for the sole purpose of organ harvesting — can and should be done, ethically speaking. It falls into the realm of research moving full-steam ahead before we've adequately stopped to consider whether we should move forward at all. The same might be said for raising animals in CAFOs.

    For Now, You Can Carefully Consider Where You Get Your Food

    The era of food companies merging with biotechnology is only just beginning. Genetically engineered (GE) salmon has already been approved, paving the way for more GE animals to emerge.

    We've also seen GE "pharmaceutical" corn used in an experimental trial for hepatitis B vaccine (grown in an environmentally sensitive area along California's central coast, just 100 feet from a critical habitat for threatened wildlife species, no less). Smithfield's move into pig-to-person organ transplants is not a huge leap, but it's one that further blurs the line between farmers and corporate machines.

    For now, you can take a precautionary stance by consciously considering where your next meal will come from. You vote three times a day when you choose the foods for your meals. Will you vote for the system that is systematically destroying your health, animal welfare and the planet — or will you support those who are changing the world for the better, one meal at a time?

    There are basically two different models of food production today, and there's growing conflict between them. The first, and most prevalent, is the CAFO model that takes a very mechanistic view toward life, whereas the other — the local, sustainable farm model — has a biological and holistic view.

    I encourage you to support the small family farms in your area that respect the laws of nature and use the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat to create synergistic, self-supporting, non-polluting and GMO-free ecosystems. Whereas industrial agriculturists want to hide their practices from you, traditional farmers will welcome you onto their land, as they have nothing to hide.

    Whether you do so for ethical, environmental or health reasons — or all of the above — the closer you can get to nature the better. You'll want to get your meat, chickens and eggs from smaller community farms with free-ranging, pastured animals, organically fed and locally marketed. This is the way food has been raised and distributed for centuries, before it was corrupted by politics, corporate greed and the blaring arrogance of the industrial food industry.

    You can do this not only by visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also by taking part in farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs. The following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner.

    wher eto buy locally grown food

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





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  • Modern Agriculture Drives Hunger, Obesity and Disease While Simultaneously Threatening Food Chain and Worsening Water Crisis
    published on April 24th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    "Regenerative food, farming and land use can provide a solution to the health crisis, the water crisis, environmental degradation, climate change, rural poverty, hunger and war." ~ Ronnie Cummins, Founding Meeting of Regeneration International, June 9, 2015, Finca Luna Nueva, Costa Rica

    If you'd walked up to a farmer 100 years ago and told him farming would one day threaten life on Earth, he probably would have laughed in your face, saying such a thing simply isn't possible.

    Agriculture is necessary for food production, and therefore for life, the farmer would have said with firm conviction — and farming the land or raising cattle is not going to unduly harm anything or anyone.

    Today, however, such an impossible scenario is precisely what we're facing. Virtually every growing environmental and health problem can be traced back to modern food production. This includes but is not limited to:

    • Food insecurity and malnutrition amid mounting food waste
    • Rising obesity and chronic disease rates despite growing health care outlays
    • Diminishing fresh water supplies
    • Toxic agricultural chemicals polluting air, soil and waterways, thereby threatening the entire food chain from top to bottom
    • Disruption of normal climate and rainfall patterns

    The good news is there are viable answers to all of these problems that do not merely scratch at the surface, and the answers hinge on the widespread implementation of regenerative agriculture and decentralized food distribution.

    It's easy to forget that at one point, not so long ago, all food was organically grown in a way that supported the ecosystem and environment as a whole. This all changed in the 1940s when the Green Revolution took hold and industrial, chemical-dependent farming techniques quickly spread to become the norm.

    Industrial Farming Has Proven Itself a Failed Experiment

    Farming has sustained mankind for millennia. Industrial farming, on the other hand, has managed to create a series of unsustainable situations in less than 70 years, and evidence suggests we will not make it until the end of the century if we continue along the path of degenerative food and farming.

    Topsoil destruction, erosion and desertification are exacerbated by tilling, monocropping and not using cover crops. Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned that at the current rate of topsoil degradation, all the world's topsoil will be gone in less than 60 years.1

    At that point, it'll be "game over" because without topsoil you cannot grow food no matter how many chemicals you add to it. Closely related problems are the loss of soil fertility and biodiversity, which is directly related to the loss of natural carbon in the soil.

    An estimated 80 percent of soil carbon in heavily farmed areas has already been lost,2 due to destructive plowing, overgrazing and the use of soil-destructive, carbon-depleting chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    Industrial monocropping has also led to the loss of diversity. Seventy-five percent of the world's crop varieties have gone the way of the dinosaurs in the last 100 years, and another 20 percent of all plants worldwide are threatened with extinction.3

    Toxic contamination adds to the problem. According to studies by the Chinese government, 20 percent of arable land in China is now unusable due to pesticide contamination,4 and important crop pollinators such as butterfly and bee populations have collapsed, thanks to widespread pesticide application.5

    Modern agriculture also promotes water waste through use of flood irrigation, destruction of soil quality and poor crop choices.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 80 percent of U.S. consumptive water (and more than 90 percent in many Western states) is used for agricultural purposes6 and, worldwide, groundwater is being used up at a faster rate than it can be replenished.

    According to James Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the majority of our global groundwaters "are past sustainability tipping points,"7 which means it's only a matter of time until we run out of fresh water.

    Without food or drinkable water, the end of civilization as we know it is pretty well-assured. The question is will enough people have the foresight to change course?

    Industrial Food System Promotes Both Obesity and Malnourishment

    The industrialization and centralization of food production was done to increase farmers' capacity to grow more food at a lower cost. Unfortunately, a core principle was lost in this efficiency equation — that of food quality and nutrient density.

    Today, we have ample amounts of "good-looking" foods, thanks to genetic engineering and agricultural chemicals. What you don't see is the loss of nutrients. Tests reveal that the nutrient content of foods has dramatically declined since the introduction of mechanized farming in 1925.8

    As just one example, to receive the same amount of iron you used to get from one apple in 1950, by 1998 you had to eat 26 apples; today you have to eat 36, and this is a direct consequence of industrial farming techniques and use of chemicals that destroy soil quality by killing essential microbes.

    We now know that, just as the human gut microbiome plays integral roles in human health, so the soil microbiome influences nutrient uptake and plant health. Soil microbes even help regulate the invasion of pests.

    It's not surprising then that as nutrient density declined and toxic exposures via food increased, obesity and chronic disease rates have dramatically risen — so much so that obesity now threatens to overtake hunger as the No. 1 global health concern.

    Obesity Is Becoming Greater Health Concern Than Hunger

    In 1950, an estimated 700 million people were starving; obesity affected approximately 100 million, primarily in wealthy nations. These statistics have changed dramatically over the past six decades as the industrialization of agriculture has become the norm.

    By 2010, the world's hungry had grown to 800 million while the number of obese citizens ballooned to 500 million. Four years later, 641 million people were obese,9,10,11,12 and estimates suggest that by 2030, more than 1 billion people worldwide will fall into this category.

    This would not be happening were it not for the adoption and spread of processed foods as dietary staples.

    Along with excess body weight come a wide range of other health problems and associated health care costs. In the U.S., just eight obesity-related diseases account for 75 percent of health care costs.

    These diseases include type 2 diabetes — which now affects nearly 1 in 11 adults worldwide13 — non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.14 In fact, 1 in 5 American deaths is now associated with obesity.15

    The ramifications of poor diet and toxic exposures from food are perhaps most notable in the U.S., where for the first time in two decades, life expectancy has actually declined.16,17,18

    Remarkably, half of all Americans now struggle with some kind of chronic illness,19 and the cost of health care in the U.S. accounts for 17 percent of the gross domestic product.20 The direct and indirect annual cost of diseases attributed to obesity alone tops $1.4 trillion.21

    All of these statistics tie back to our food supply, starting with how food is grown. On the whole, there's really no way to reverse these disease rates without addressing agriculture and food production. Our very lives depend on it.

    Hunger Is the Result of Inadequate Food Distribution and Waste, Not Lack of Production

    While the chemical technology industry claims we cannot feed a growing population without industrialization, chemicals and genetically engineered seeds, few facts support this ideology.

    On the contrary, studies have repeatedly shown organic farming is more likely to succeed in feeding a population of 9 billion strong, especially during drought conditions.

    A recent report by two U.N. experts — Hilal Elver, the UN's special rapporteur on the right to food and Baskut Tuncak, the special rapporteur on toxics — also firmly refutes the notion that pesticides are essential to ensure sufficient amounts of food for a growing world population.22

    In fact, the report calls for a global treaty to phase out toxic chemicals and transition toward sustainable farming practices worldwide, to preserve and promote human and environmental health. According to Elver and Tuncak:23

    "The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading. In principle, there is adequate food to feed the world; inequitable production and distribution systems present major blockages that prevent those in need from accessing it …"

    Food waste is another facet of this inequitable system. It's been estimated that one-third24 to one-half25 of all the edible food in the world — as much as 2 billion tons' worth26 — is simply thrown away each year. In 2010, 133 billion pounds of food were wasted at the retail and consumer levels in the U.S. alone, with two-thirds of it attributed to household food waste.

    So, while 13 percent of American households struggle to obtain enough food,27 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. This is a problem that simply cannot be solved through increased use of pesticides, GMOs, animal drugs and intensive confinement factory farms.

    The fact that industrial farming and cheap food is not the answer becomes even more obvious when you consider that the poorest Americans actually have the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease.28 They're not suffering the effects of lack of food or starvation. They're suffering from obesity-related disorders resulting from cheap processed foods, devoid of much-needed nutrition — the only foods many of these people have access to and can afford.

    Solving Obesity and Hunger by Sharing Fresh Surplus

    While there are many solutions for reducing individual household waste, we really need to think bigger. We need to radically improve the supply channels between producers and consumers to ensure food gets equitably distributed, rather than thrown away somewhere along the way. We're not wanting for ideas here. It's just a matter of implementing them more widely.

    For example, Ample Harvest has created a novel and effective food bank distribution system for fresh produce. Billions of pounds of fresh foods are in fact available, but the conventional food bank distribution system does not allow those foods to enter the system. Instead, all that fresh nutritious food is tossed into urban landfills.

    Meanwhile, the poor end up eating mostly processed fare that promotes obesity and chronic disease. Ample Harvest connects farmers and home growers who have too much food with those who really need it by donating the produce directly to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. AmpleHarvest.org now has a database of nearly 8,000 participating food pantries across the U.S.

    The system is very efficient, and associated costs are a mere fraction of other national food programs. It's also universal in that it can work in any community, large or small. And it works with both home growers and larger farms. This is just one example showing that food insecurity can be inexpensively and relatively easily solved. But to do so, we need to step outside of the conventional distribution channels and create new ones.

    Regenerative Agriculture Is a Must for Food and Water Sustainability

    In addition to destroying soil and denaturing our food, industrial agriculture is also draining aquifers and polluting waterways across the globe, thereby threatening human survival in more ways than one. The frightening reality is we're running out of drinkable water and poisoning what little is left.

    One-third of the largest groundwater aquifers are already nearing depletion,29 with three of the most stressed aquifers being located in areas where political tensions run high as it is.30 To give you an idea of how quickly groundwater is being depleted, consider what's happening in the High Plains Aquifer (also known as the Ogallala) in the American Midwest.

    Here, the water level has been dropping by an average of 6 feet per year, while the natural recharge rate is 1 inch or less.31 Once this aquifer is depleted — and many wells have already run dry in the area — 20 percent of the U.S. corn, wheat and cattle output will be lost due to lack of irrigation and water for the animals.

    The average American will feel the effects of aquifer depletion directly as well, because with scarcity comes price hikes. According to a report32 from Michigan State University, published earlier this year, if water prices continue to rise at the current rate, five years from now nearly 36 percent of Americans may be unable to afford their monthly water bill.

    Corporate Agribusiness Has Become the No. 1 Water Polluter

    Precious water sources are also threatened by pollution from large-scale monocrop farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).33 According to a report34 by Environment America, corporate agribusiness is "one of the biggest threats to America's waterways." Tyson Foods Inc. was deemed among the worst, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014.

    Researchers have warned that many lakes around the world are now at grave risk from fertilizer runoff that feeds harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria),35,36 and once established, it's far more difficult to get rid of than previously thought. The answer, according to the authors of this study, is better land-use management that addresses fertilizer runoff. Dramatic reductions in fertilizer use are also recommended.

    Indeed, the long-term solution to many of our water quality and water scarcity issues is to phase out the use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers and soil additives, and to grow crops and raise food animals in such a way that the farm contributes to the overall health and balance of the environment rather than polluting it and creating a dysfunctional ecosystem.

    Addressing Three Key Food Production Areas Can Help Solve Multiple Environmental Crises

    Three key areas of food production that can help solve many of the environmental crises currently facing us are:

    1. Regenerative agriculture (food crops)
    2. Regenerative grazing (livestock)
    3. Restorative fishing (seafood)

    As noted in my interviews with a number of sustainable farming pioneers and ecological experts over the past few years, the separation of livestock from crop farming is a significant part of the problem. This was supposedly done to increase efficiency and reduce costs, but the hidden costs of this segregation are quite enormous.

    Our modern agricultural system, which focuses on monocropping and CAFOs as two separate food streams, puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the actual burning of fossil fuels, contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all vehicles in the U.S. combined, turns farmland into desert and reduces organic matter in soil, thereby reducing rainfall and worsening droughts. We'll take a closer look at all of these issues in subsequent sections.

    Industrial Agriculture Prevents Critical Carbon Sequestration

    Carbon management — pulling carbon out of the air and sequestering it into the soil — is a critical aspect of environmental health and the growing of food. Scientists have also noted the importance of carbon sequestration for the reversal of climate change.37 Through their leaves, plants use sunlight (photosynthesis) to remove carbon dioxide from the air, converting it into a carbon fuel used to stimulate and promote their own growth.

    Up to 40 percent of that carbon fuel also goes to the roots of the plant, where it's leaked out into the soil. There, it becomes food for soil microorganisms. So, the plant nourishes the soil as much as the soil nourishes the plant. As mentioned earlier, we've already lost up to 80 percent of the soil carbon in heavily farmed areas — a fact that really highlights the urgent need to improve carbon sequestration.38

    A key strategy to sequester carbon in soil is to use cover crops. In other words, soil should never be left exposed, as without root systems holding the soil in place, soil erosion speeds up. Mixed grasses also nourish the soil microbiome, which need the plant interaction. Nature abhors monoculture. In 1 square foot of pristine prairie land, you'll find about 140 different plants, and this is the type of natural biodiversity regenerative farmers aim to mimic. As noted by Regeneration International:39

    "Storing carbon in the soil and maintaining perennial living soil cover (trees, pasture, grazing animals …) brings a host of benefits, including: increased soil fertility and biological activity, improved wildlife and pollinator habitat, less vulnerability to disease, increased crop yield, increased drought and flood resilience and increased water-holding and filtration capacity."

    Fertilizers Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in More Ways Than One

    Scientists have also declared farming and fertilizers as the No. 1 cause of particulate matter air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe today, specifically the nitrogen component of fertilizers.40,41 Industrial food and farming also release dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

    Interestingly, while fertilizer mining operations produce their share of greenhouse gases42 — yet another environmental hazard I've not touched on here, but have written about in previous articles — most of these emissions actually occur upon application. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, 1 out of every 100 kilos (220 pounds) of nitrogen fertilizer applied to farm land ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), an ozone-depleting greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2.43

    In 2014, the amount of N2O created by nitrogen fertilizer spread on American farmland was equal to one-third of the N2O released by all cars and trucks in the U.S. More recent research suggests the real number may be three to five times higher than that.

    Grazing Animals Are an Important Part of Regenerative Agriculture

    By preventing carbon sequestration, industrial farming contributes to desertification — turning land into desert — which cannot support plant life and photosynthesis, thereby worsening atmospheric CO2 levels. According to Allan Savory, an African ecologist, dramatically increasing the number of grazing livestock is really the only thing that can successfully reverse both desertification and rising CO2.44,45

    An article46 by Pure Advantage notes how "there is no current or envisioned technology that can simultaneously sequester carbon, restore biodiversity and feed people. But livestock can …" Indeed, Gabe Brown, a regenerative land management pioneer, discussed this in depth in our 2014 interview, covered in "How to Regenerate Soil Using Cover Crops and Regenerative Land Management."

    As explained in Peter Byck's short film, "One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts," farm animals form symbiotic relationships where one species helps keep parasites from overwhelming another. It is the separation of crops and animals into two distinctly different farming processes that has led to animal waste becoming a massive source of toxic pollution rather than a valuable part of the ecological cycle.

    The success of Will Harris' grass fed ranching operation in Georgia (detailed in my July, 2016 interview with him),47 and thousands of other ranches across the U.S. and the world, also testify to the regenerative power of grazing animals. The percentage of organic matter in soil is a good indicator of quality, and Harris has been able to increase organic matter in his soil from less than 0.5 percent to as much as 5 percent in a 20-year period.

    Not only does increasing organic matter in soil and pastures produce higher-quality produce, meat and dairy, it also saves water in two ways: First, by retaining more rain water and reducing irrigation needs; and second, by encouraging rainfall and preventing extended droughts. In fact, satellite data reveals plant-soil evapotranspiration may exert a far greater influence on weather and rainfall patterns than previously thought.48

    The more organic matter there is in the soil, the more moisture is captured and released back into the atmosphere through plant transpiration. Remarkably, for each 1 percent increase in organic matter, each acre of soil can retain another 20,000 gallons of water.

    Raising organic soil matter by 1 percent in Oklahoma alone would allow the soil there to retain an additional 894 billion gallons more water after each rainfall of 1 inch or more! As noted by Beef Producer, which reported the satellite findings:49

    "This is exciting because it strongly suggests grazing and farming that builds soil is not only directly beneficial to those practicing it for higher yields, lower inputs, more profit and more drought resiliency, it also appears it helps make more rain for everybody."

    Land Rehabilitation Projects Confirm Even Large-Scale Environmental Devastation Can Be Reversed

    Based on the current state of affairs, it's easy to see the situation as hopeless. However, there is good news. Land rehabilitation projects — both by private farmers and larger government-sponsored endeavors such as the Chinese Loess Plateau regeneration project — unequivocally confirms that we can reverse even severe and large-scale environmental destruction. 

    The Loess Plateau was until recently one of the poorest regions of China, where centuries of agriculture had eroded once-fertile soils into a desert-like landscape, unable to support plant growth. Similar situations exist all over the world. The documentary above features soil scientist John D. Liu of the Environmental Education Media Project, who has followed the Loess Plateau regeneration project for over 15 years.

    Today, the once barren landscape is again filled with thriving forests, and farmers are again producing abundant amounts of food. This just goes to show that, given a fair chance, the entire ecosystem can regenerate itself, and with the appropriate interventions, it can do so faster than would occur naturally. This, truly, is the beauty of regenerative agriculture. As so eloquently summarized by Tim LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute:50

    "Regenerative agriculture is an approach to food and farming systems that works with nature's rhythms in ways to feed our growing population, to regenerate topsoil, to enhance biodiversity and to ensure life now and long into the future. Specifically,regenerative agriculture regenerates or builds fertile topsoil, primarily through the practices that increase soil organic matter and soil carbon.

    This essential soil nutrient not only aids in increasing soil biota diversity and health, but increases biodiversity both above and below the soil surface, while increasing water holding capacity, sequestering carbon thus drawing down climate damaging levels of CO, and improves soil structure to reverse civilization threatening human caused soil loss."

    Restoring grasslands is of particular significance, as evidenced by researchers comparing the effect of naturally restored forest versus grassland on carbon sequestration in the Loess Plateau.51 According to the authors, "[N]aturally restored grassland would be a more effective vegetation type for [soil organic carbon] sequestration due to higher carbon input from roots …"

    Regenerative Agriculture Builds Sustainable Economies Too

    The good news doesn't end there. While profitability is commonly cited as a determining factor for why farmers "cannot" farm organically anymore, research refutes such scaremongering. One such study52,53 found organic farmers earn anywhere from 22 to 35 percent more than their industrial counterparts.

    What's more, regenerative agriculture can also help create regenerative economies based on values and principles that go far beyond merely making money,54 thereby benefiting society in practical ways beside a cleaner, healthier environment and more nutritious, less toxic food.

    In a 2015 article, John Fullerton, founder and president of Capital Institute, presented the organization's views on regenerative capitalism, which is built on universal principles of health and wholeness. "We have identified eight key, interconnected principles that underlie systemic health," he writes. These eight principles, which he proposes be part of a regenerative economic system, include:

    Right relationship: Economy based on the understanding that damage to any single part ripples outward to damage every other part of the system

    Holistic wealth: The understanding that true wealth is more than just money. It can also be measured in wellbeing of the whole and broadly shared prosperity

    Innovation, adaptation, responsiveness

    Empowered participation

    Seeking balance: "A regenerative economy seeks to balance: efficiency and resilience; collaboration and competition; diversity and coherence; and small, mediu and large organizations and needs.

    It runs directly against the (short term) "optimize" ideology that is at the root of modern financial logic"

    "Edge effect" abundance: "Creativity and abundance flourish synergistically at the "edges" of systems … For example, there is an abundance of interdependent life in salt marshes where a river meets the ocean …

    At those edges the opportunities for innovation and cross-fertilization are the greatest"

    Robust circulatory flow of money, information, resources, goods and services

    Honoring community and place: "A regenerative economy nurtures healthy and resilient communities and regions, each one uniquely informed by the essence of its individual history and place"

    How to Affect Change, Seven Days a Week

    A growing number of home owners are now responding to the call for cleaner, healthier foods by converting their front and backyards into edible landscaping using organic and regenerative methods.

    But even if you're not growing your own foods, you can still help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more regenerative systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, local produce over "cheap" conventional varieties commonly sold in larger grocery chains. Remember to choose organic, grass fed beef, poultry and dairy, in addition to organic produce. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

    American Grassfed Association

    The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

    Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; and born and raised on American family farms.

    EatWild.com

    EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

    Weston A. Price Foundation

    Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

    Grassfed Exchange

    The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

    Local Harvest

    This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

    Farmers Markets

    A national listing of farmers markets.

    Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food From Healthy Animals

    The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

    Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

    CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

    FoodRoutes

    The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

    The Cornucopia Institute

    The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

    RealMilk.com

    If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area.

    The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund55 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.56 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

    For more information on Regenerative food, farming and land use, visit the website of Regeneration International.





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  • Lower High Blood Pressure With More Potassium-Rich Foods, Less Sugar
    published on April 23rd, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Americans struggle with high levels of certain diseases like cardiovascular disease and related high blood pressure. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks this malady, also known as hypertension, as playing the leading role in heart disease.1

    Conventional medicine says eating too much sodium is one cause of high blood pressure, but more studies are revealing that it's actually an imbalance between your sodium intake and your potassium levels that may be the problem. According to one study:

    "Findings suggest that public health efforts directed toward increasing consumption of K+ [potassium]-rich natural foods would reduce BP [blood pressure] and, thus, cardiovascular and kidney disease."2

    Potassium deficiency, known as hypokalemia, can be so serious that it could be fatal. One sign that you may be deficient is high blood pressure, but other things to look for include:

    • Fatigue
    • Muscle weakness
    • Abdominal pain and cramps
    • Abnormal heart rhythms
    • Muscle paralysis

    Potassium: The 'Good Salt'

    There are a few facts about potassium that few people are aware of. First, it's an essential mineral, but another thing to note is that, as an electrolyte, it plays a crucial role in regard to your blood pressure.

    In spite of loads of studies and reports to the contrary, the fact is that it's the balance between salt and potassium that will balance the health of your cells, not lowering your salt intake, unless of course, you're talking about processed table salt.

    Foods With High Potassium Content Help Lower Blood Pressure Levels

    People with higher intakes of potassium tend to have lower blood pressure levels, so finding the foods to eat that contain it will definitely be good for you. For a good balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, eat fresh, whole, potassium-rich foods. I recommend:

    Swiss chard

    Avocado

    Spinach

    Crimini mushrooms

    Broccoli

    Brussels sprouts

    Celery

    Romaine lettuce

    Additionally, Authority Nutrition3 notes other foods with high potassium content, such as leafy greens, tomatoes and sweet potatoes, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, melons, bananas, oranges and apricots. Fruits should be eaten in moderation, however, due to the fructose content.

    Besides significantly lowering your blood pressure, pomegranate juice may protect your cells from negative effects like premature aging.

    It's also high in antioxidant polyphenols to cut your cancer and heart disease risks, and more antioxidants from tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid than green tea and red wine, Prevent Disease adds.4

    Fruit polyphenols have been shown to have such a positive influence on potentially fatal heart-related issues that related research may even help change recommendations on what fruits are most beneficial to consume for optimal cardiovascular protection, one study concluded.5

    A Florida study6 reported that 1 cup of blueberries a day may lower blood pressure and relax arteries. Around 50 hypertensive women were given either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder or a placebo powder to eat, with the result that the first group, on average, had a 7 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure.

    Raw grass fed yogurt is rich in probiotics, which helps keep blood pressure at balanced levels.

    A review of several studies7 found that probiotics may benefit this area of your health naturally because they help optimize your cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels. And small amounts of dark chocolate provide flavonoids that cause blood vessels to dilate.8

    Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Lower Your Blood Pressure

    Most people will say they want to live a "healthy" life, but it's usually small, day-to-day decisions that make the difference in the long run. Blood pressure affects your body in a systemic way. If you struggle to maintain healthy levels, you may want to take a good look at your diet.

    Conventional wisdom usually tells you to limit your salt intake, but the most impactful way to do the job is to cut down on sugar. As "bad" as salt is touted to be, sugar is far worse.

    While you probably already know that processed foods are far too high in refined sodium, it's refined sugar that's the real culprit in the high incidence of high blood pressure and, consequently, the trickle-down effect of diseases that all too often follow along behind, such as metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack.

    More and more studies indicate that sugar can be implicated in high blood pressure levels.9 In fact, one study shows that women who drank just one soda per day had higher levels that those who drank less than that.10

    Researchers at the University of California–San Francisco and Touro University California conducted a study11 published in the journal Obesity that looked at the effects of limiting sugar intake. The study subjects were 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 years.

    For nine days, all the children ate meals, snacks and beverages with reduced sugar; however, they were allowed to eat fruit. Their fasting blood sugar levels, glucose tolerance and blood pressure were recorded before each meal.

    All of them were given the same amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates as before, including hot dogs, chips and pizza, but added sugar was replaced with bagels and cereal. In fact, sugar went from 28 percent to 10 percent. Carbs and fructose were reduced from 12 percent to 4 percent.

    What Happens When Children Are Given Less Sugar to Eat?

    Before long, the diet proved successful, as the scientists noted decreased blood pressure, improved cholesterol and improved liver function. Fasting blood glucose levels fell five points, while insulin levels dropped by a third.

    This is particularly astonishing since the added sugar was replaced with bagels and cereal, which are far from healthy. Imagine if it had been replaced with vegetables or healthy fats! Lead author Robert Lustig stated:

    "This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar.

    (The study indicates) that sugar contributes to metabolic syndrome, and is the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity."12

    The Epoch Times quoted senior study author Jean-Marc Schwarz:

    "These findings support the idea that it is essential for parents to evaluate sugar intake and to be mindful of the health effects of what their children are consuming. When we took the sugar out, the kids started responding to their satiety [fullness] cues.

    They told us it felt like so much more food, even though they were consuming the same number of calories as before, just with significantly less sugar. Some said we were overwhelming them with food."13

    Active African-Americans Are Less Apt to Develop High Blood Pressure

    Certain factors make high blood pressure more prevalent in some people than in others. One study based in Jackson, Mississippi, showed that African-Americans are less apt to develop high blood pressure if they're physically active on a daily basis.

    Further, study subjects who reported engaging in the ideal amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity were about 24 percent less likely to have high blood pressure years later in comparison to those who didn't.

    As it happens, African-Americans have the highest blood pressure rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., making heart attack, stroke and kidney disease risks more prevalent, and even early death. Unfortunately, the odds are high for this demographic. Dr. Keith Diaz of Columbia University Medical Center in New York explained:

    "If you're African-American, your odds of developing hypertension [are] pretty high. If you're worried about hypertension or high blood pressure, one of the things you can do to prevent it is physical activity and exercise."14

    None of the 1,311 participants in the study had high blood pressure when they started it between 2000 and 2004. They were checked again between 2005 and 2008, and again between 2009 and 2013. Half them were monitored for at least eight years.

    The upshot? Those getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise — specifically from programmed physical activity as opposed to household tasks —  were 24 percent less likely to have developed high blood pressure than people who didn't.

    How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

    Most doctors charged with helping their patients with high blood pressure issues will hand their patients a pharmaceutical prescription, but there are remedies for this condition that cost far less, financially, physically, overall time consumed and long-term effects combined. Time15 and Authority Nutrition listed several, including:

    • Breathe. Mindfully slowing the breaths you take and breathing more slowly helps you relax, and relaxing helps improve your heart rate, makes your arteries more flexible and lowers your blood pressure, naturally.
    • Relax. Stress does more to negatively affect your body than you can imagine. Bouts of anger or stress, triggering your "fight or flight" hormones, can literally increase your risk of developing heart-related issues. Try the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other natural methods to calm and soothe your mind.
    • Curb the coffee and alcohol. While there are studies that contend that moderate alcohol intake can provide heart benefits, overdoing it can raise your blood pressure, as well as cause subsequent health problems. Caffeine can also be a culprit, and it may come from drinking soda. Give it a rest — literally.
    • Walk and exercise regularly. Your heart is strengthened and pumps blood more efficiently, lowering arterial pressure. Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve both.16
    • Lose weight. Even losing 5 percent of your total weight can significantly lower your blood pressure,17 and the effect is even greater when you exercise.18




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  • An Avocado a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
    published on April 23rd, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Sometimes people have more than one serious health complication. If those problems happen to be three or more of the most prevalent risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high triglycerides and a large waistline, they merge into a single disorder known as metabolic syndrome.

    Metabolic syndrome represents one very serious illness, affecting 40 percent of the U.S. population over age 40.

    Scientists from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), conducting a review of 129 scientific studies on the topic of avocados and metabolic syndrome, now call this malady "the new silent killer."1 Dr. Charles H. Hennekens says:

    "The major factor accelerating the pathway to metabolic syndrome is overweight and obesity. Obesity is overtaking smoking as the leading avoidable cause of premature death in the U.S. and worldwide."2

    Parvathi Perumareddi, doctor of osteopathic medicine and assistant professor of integrated medical science at FAU, explained:

    "The pandemic of obesity, which begins in childhood, is deeply concerning. Adolescents today are more obese and less physically active than their parents and already have higher rates of type 2 diabetes.

    It is likely that the current generation of children and adolescents in the U.S. will be the first since 1960 to have higher mortality rates than their parents due mainly to cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke."3

    It's something you have control over, however. The review concluded that metabolic syndrome is preventable in most cases using dietary measures. In fact, the featured study revealed that one way you can help prevent metabolic syndrome is by eating avocados.4

    Avocados: 'It Would Be Hard to Eat Too Much'

    Here's why registered dietician Cynthia Sass, with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health, calls avocados worthy of superfood status: They can effectively combat nearly every aspect of metabolic syndrome.

    According to Sass, the "impressive range of studies" the researchers perused also covered the nutritional impact the firm, velvety flesh of this pear-shaped green-black food, technically a fruit, can make on several other areas of the body, not just metabolic syndrome symptoms.

    It's possible that more than just the fruit itself may be good for you; researchers found possible benefits from consuming the leaves, peels, oil and even the large pit at the center of avocados (although Sass suggested that sticking to the peeled, pitted flesh would be best until further studies can be done).

    Time online notes that avocados not only help stave off belly fat — the worst type of fat to carry — but eating them offers such high amounts of healthy fat compared to other fruits, eating too much would be very difficult to do. Further, it's versatile and filling, as well, Sass noted:

    "Fortunately avocado is very satiating. It's almost like they have a built-in stop-gap. This is yet another example of how not all calories are created equal. Avocado blends well with both sweet and savory ingredients, and provides the satisfaction factor that makes dishes decadent."5

    Combine avocados with salsa or fruit chutney to make guacamole; mash them with a bit of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for a quick vegetable or pita dip, or a delicious addition to egg salad. Serve mashed avocado on poached or lightly cooked over-easy eggs or slice, salt and eat them all by themselves.

    The beauty is that it's not just about the versatility and flavor of avocados; the nutritional profile is incredible.

    Additional information from the study about this plant-based food, Science Daily said, was that they're also "lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic and cardioprotective."6

    Avocados and Cholesterol

    If you don't get any other concept about how avocados can literally change your health, this might move you: The high fat content in avocados is a good thing — it's not "bad" fat. In fact, it's good, necessary fat from oleic acid, which is the same monosaturated fatty acid contained in olive oil.

    Oleic acid is associated with decreased inflammation, which helps stave off such diseases as cancer.7

    Further, neither avocados nor avocado oil are hydrogenated or loaded with trans fats or other unhealthy oxidized fats like most canola, safflower, corn or other vegetable oils you're urged to cook with may be. Avocado oil can even be drizzled over salads and used in recipes calling for other oils.

    Avocado oil also has a relatively high smoke point compared to olive oil, making it a better choice for cooking,8 although coconut oil is best for that purpose.

    While some people remain concerned that eating high-fat foods like avocados may adversely affect their cholesterol levels, the opposite is actually true (plus, cholesterol is not the evil it's made out to be).

    According to the review, people who eat avocados have higher levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol than those who do not. Eating avocados may also lower triglyceride levels compared to eating high-carb diets or diets without avocado.9

    Beneficial Nutrients That Make Up Avocados

    The California Avocado Commission reports that avocados contain about 22.5 grams of fat, and two-thirds of that is monounsaturated. Other essential nutrients include fiber, vitamins, folic acid, vitamin E and more potassium than you'd find in a banana.

    SELFNutritionData reports that avocado also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, ion, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). In regard to the dietary reference intake (DRI), 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of avocado contain:10

    Vitamin K: 26 percent

    Folate: 20 percent

    Vitamin C: 17 percent

    Potassium: 14 percent

    Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): 14 percent

    Vitamin B6: 13 percent

    Vitamin E: 10 percent

    Niacin: 9 percent

    According to Authority Nutrition:

    "This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 'net' carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food."11

    Avocados for Your Heart, Arthritis, Blood Sugar Levels and Weight Loss

    Research shows several other positive aspects about avocados: One of the most interesting is that people who eat more of them generally weigh less and have smaller waistlines than people who don't, even if their overall caloric consumption is smaller.

    The fiber content can also be thanked for this aspect of avocado consumption. It's both soluble, which amounts to 75 percent, and insoluble fiber, the former of which is linked to good gut bacteria, which affects your body's optimal function.12

    Avocados also were found to be more filling than other foods. In one study, participants were divided and each half given a meal to eat, one of which contained avocados.

    Afterward, a questionnaire revealed that 23 percent of those in the avocado group felt more satisfied and had a 28 percent lower desire to eat within the next five hours.13

    All these factors are what help make avocados an incredibly healthy food to add to your diet. One study notes that avocados contain high amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and phytosterols, and explains:

    "Eight preliminary avocado cardiovascular health clinical studies (have) consistently demonstrated positive heart healthy effects on blood lipids profiles.

    This is primarily because of avocado's … monounsaturated fatty acids and high-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA and PUFA) content, but its natural phytosterols and dietary fiber may play potential secondary … roles.

    Avocados also have a diverse range of other nutrients and phytochemicals … In particular, avocado's potassium and lutein may help promote normal blood pressure and help to control oxidative/inflammatory stress."14

    More and More Avocado Advantages

    Antioxidants absorption is another important element to eating this nubby green fruit. In fact, when you add it to salsa or salad, you'll absorb three to five times more fat-soluble carotenoids because of the avocado's lipid content. This, in turn, may help protect your body against free radical damage.15

    In other words, when you eat carotenoid-rich foods along with healthy fat avocados, your body becomes better able to absorb more of their fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotenes, as well as lutein, zeaxanthin and other antioxidants.

    The antioxidants have been noted for their prominent roles in keeping your vision healthy. One study shows the antioxidants protect your macula, located near the center of your eye where your vision is clearest, from short-wavelength visible light, and help prevent age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts.16

    Here's another benefit that's very important: Avocados carry a very light load of chemical pesticide spray residue in comparison with other plant-based foods, so it's not necessary to try to find (or grow) organic varieties. They are a fruit, but unlike so many others, avocados don't contain high levels of fructose. Instead, the healthy fat they offer rivals that of coconut oil, organic raw butter, and raw nuts such as pecans and almonds.

    Did you know that avocado oil is also good for your hair and skin? It makes your skin softer and more supple, and renders your hair smoother and less frizzy and tangled than without it, especially if your hair is dry. In fact, it has many of the same properties as coconut oil.





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  • Burning Fat for Fuel Increases Quality and Quantity of Life
    published on April 23rd, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Humans suffer more chronic and debilitating diseases today than ever before; more than half of all Americans struggle with chronic illness, and 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. are obesity-related. These discouraging statistics are largely the result of an inappropriate diet.

    Most of us eat far too much sugar and grains, and far too little healthy fat. Many also eat too much protein, and most of it of poor quality processed food to boot.  Unfortunately, the notion that glucose is the preferred fuel for your body is a pervasive one.

    Everyone from diabetics to top athletes are advised to make sure they eat "enough" carbs to keep their systems from crashing. This misguided advice is at the heart of many of our current health failures. It's also a driving factor in our diabetes, heart disease and cancer epidemics.

    Dietary fats are actually the preferred fuel of human metabolism, and this can be traced back to our evolutionary roots. One of the keys to long-term weight management and good health is healthy mitochondrial function, and for that you need to get your net carb, protein and fat ratios correct.

    This is the focus of my latest book, "Fat for Fuel." It's by far the most important book I've ever written, and the one I've poured the most heart and soul into because I believe this information has the power to reverse the cancer epidemic and save countless lives.

    Shipments of "Fat for Fuel" will begin on May 16. Reserving your copy now will entitle you to six free bonuses. Preordering will also help push the book onto the best seller list, which will go a long way toward informing and educating others.

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

    How to Improve Mitochondrial Function Through Diet

    To improve your mitochondrial function through diet, the key is to eat in such a way that your body is able to burn fat as its primary fuel rather than sugars. Ketogenic diets are very effective for this, as is intermittent fasting and longer water fasts for those who are overweight.

    An important yet rarely discussed facet of nutritional ketosis that I explain in "Fat for Fuel" is feast-and-famine cycling. The reason for this has to do with the fact that continuous, long-term nutritional ketosis can actually be counterproductive.

    Long-term uninterrupted use of a ketogenic diet can trigger a rise in blood sugar by driving your insulin level too low. This paradoxical situation can arise because the primary function of insulin is not to drive sugar into the cell, but to suppress the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).

    If your blood sugar is high due to chronically and excessively low insulin, eating a piece of fruit or other sugar-containing food will actually lower your blood sugar rather than raise it.

    All of this can be avoided by cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis, basically going through a one-day-per-week fast and one or two days a week of feasting, where you eat double or quadruple the amount of net carbs.

    Your body is designed to have the metabolic flexibility to use both glucose and fat for fuel. The problem is, most people lack the ability to burn fat. This metabolic inflexibility is the direct result of eating a high-carb diet for a long period of time.

    As a result, they struggle with weight issues and poor health. Even if they are not overweight they may be "skinny fat" with loads of excess dangerous visceral body fat. Feast-and-famine cycling helps reestablish the metabolic flexibility to burn fat. Another important dietary factor is avoiding late-night eating.

    Feeding your body at a time when it needs the least amount of energy will simply result in cellular damage due to the excess production of free radicals. For this reason, I often suggest limiting your eating to breakfast and lunch — a "Peak Fasting" strategy that allows you to fast for 16 or more hours each day.

    Having the Metabolic Flexibility to Burn Fat for Fuel Is Key for Optimal Health

    When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

    This is why being an efficient fat burner is so crucial for optimal health. Ketones also mimic the life span extending properties of calorie restriction (fasting), which includes improved glucose metabolism and reduced inflammation. As noted in a recent study1 on this topic:

    "The extension of life span by caloric restriction has been studied across species from yeast and Caenorhabditis elegans to primates … Here, we propose that the life expansion produced by caloric restriction can be duplicated by the metabolic changes induced by ketosis …

    [E]xtension of life span results from decreased signaling through the insulin/insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling (IIS) pathway … An effective method for combating free radical damage occurs through the metabolism of ketone bodies …

    A dietary ketone ester also decreases circulating glucose and insulin leading to decreased IIS … [K]etosis results in transcription of the enzymes of the antioxidant pathways.

    In addition, the metabolism of ketone bodies results in a more negative redox potential of the NADP antioxidant system, which is a terminal destructor of oxygen free radicals."

    Good Fats Improve Glucose Metabolism and Reduce Inflammation

    The importance of good fats is also evidenced in another recent study,2 which shows animal-based omega-3 fats reduce the autoimmune responses associated with type 1 diabetes (aka insulin-dependent diabetes), an autoimmune disorder in which your body attacks and destroys the beta cells responsible for creating insulin.

    Here, omega-3s were actually found to help regenerate these beta cells in non-obese mice with type 1 diabetes, significantly improving glucose metabolism and lowering inflammatory markers, decreasing the overall incidence of the disease. As reported by Medical News Today:3

    "Both nutritional supplementation and genetic therapy normalized blood sugar and insulin levels for a minimum of 182 days, stopped the development of autoimmunity, blocked the lymphocytes from entering the regenerated islets in the pancreas, and drastically increased the levels of beta cell markers.

    These results suggest that omega-3 PUFAs may serve as a new therapy for type 1 diabetes."

    Fasting Also Helps Regenerate the Diabetic Pancreas

    Other recent research shows that fasting can have a similar influence, actually triggering the regeneration of the pancreas in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.4 As reported by the BBC:5

    "In the experiments, mice were put on a modified form of the "fasting-mimicking diet." It is like the human form of the diet when people spend five days on a low-calorie, low-protein, low-carbohydrate but high unsaturated-fat diet … with around 800 to 1,100 calories a day.

    Then they have 25 days eating what they want — so overall it mimics periods of feast and famine. [A]nimal experiments showed the diet regenerated a special type of cell in the pancreas called a beta cell. These are the cells that detect sugar in the blood and release the hormone insulin if it gets too high.

    Dr. Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California, said: 'Our conclusion is that by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back — by starving them and then feeding them again — the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that's no longer functioning.'"

    Fasting May Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

    Another researcher specializing in fasting is diabetes expert Dr. Roy Taylor. In a recent calorie restriction trial, type 2 diabetics ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks. All were disease-free by the end of their fast. Three months later, after returning to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants were still disease-free. Taylor's team is now testing this type of fasting regimen on a much larger group of 300 people with type 2 diabetes. As reported by The Guardian:6

    "… Taylor, who leads the group, thinks that fasting is beneficial because it gets rid of dangerous fat in and around your organs, including two that are important in sugar control — the pancreas and the liver … 'If you have fat around these organs it clogs up the way they work and your body can't control its blood sugars,' says Taylor.

    After about 12 hours of fasting, he says, the body uses up all the glycogen in the liver, its go-to source of energy, and starts to dip into its fat deposits. 'The first type of fat to go is that dangerous fat around the organs, freeing them up to do their job properly.' He stresses that people with diabetes should not fast without consulting their doctor — a combination of insulin drugs and fasting can be lethal."

    Intermittent Fasting Promotes Health and Longevity

    Longo's team has also looked at the health effects of a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) in humans. One hundred participants did three cycles of FMD, which involves semi-fasting for five days each month. The FMD diet is low in calories, sugars and protein, but high in healthy unsaturated fats. After three months, the participants had:7

    • Lost an average of 7.5 pounds and had reduced visceral fat and waist circumference
    • Lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone linked to cancer and aging
    • Lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker
    • Lower blood pressure

    Sports medicine doctor and fitness guru Dr. Gabe Mirkin also recently wrote an article in The Epoch Times8 describing different intermittent fasting regimens, and how intermittent fasting has benefited his and his wife's health. For starters, his wife, Diana, lost 15 pounds in six weeks, and Gabe lost 30 pounds over the course of a few months.

    Historically speaking, net carbohydrate intake (total carbs minus fiber) has always been quite low. Likewise, the diseases we now know are associated with insulin resistance — which is primarily caused by excess consumption of refined carbs — have been quite rare.

    Switching from a high-carb diet to one high in healthy fat with moderate protein and low in net carbs helps rebalance your body's chemistry. A natural side effect of this is weight loss, and improved weight management, once you're at an ideal weight. One explanation for this is that you don't actually get fat from eating too much and exercising too little. Nor do you get fat from eating healthy fat. Obesity is typically the result of a high-carb diet, which over time leads to an inability to burn fat for fuel.

    Fructose Is a Major Culprit in Obesity and Ill Health

    Diets high in refined fructose are particularly troublesome, as fructose activates the enzyme fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes cells to accumulate fat. When this enzyme is blocked, fat cannot be stored in the cell. In essence, fructose is the dietary ingredient that causes cells to accumulate fat. Dietary carbohydrates, especially fructose, are also the primary source of a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate, which causes fat to become fixed in fat tissue.

    At the same time, high carb intake raises your insulin levels, which also prevents fat from being released. Furthermore, no amount of exercise can compensate for this. This is why it can seem nearly impossible to lose weight when you're eating a lot of refined carbs and foods containing high fructose corn syrup, and why cutting carbs is so critical when you're trying to lose weight.

    Keep in mind that when we're talking about harmful excess carbs (aka excess net carbs), we're only referring to grains and sugars, not vegetable carbs. Vegetables contain valuable fiber, and when you cut grain/sugar carbs you actually need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat.

    You also need to dramatically increase healthful fats such as avocados, coconut oil, egg yolks, raw grass fed organic butter, olives, and nuts like macadamias and pecans that are both low in protein and carbs and high in healthy fat.

    The Importance of Fiber Carbs

    Fiber from vegetables are important for several reasons, including building a healthier gut microbiome, stabilizing your blood sugar and improving fat burning.9 Fiber is in fact a carbohydrate, but unlike sugars and starches you don't digest it. However, your gut bacteria do, and benefit from it. This is one of the reasons why vegetables, which are low in net carbs, will typically not take you out of ketosis, and you can eat as many veggies as you want.

    Fiber can be broadly divided into soluble and insoluble types, and ideally you want to get plenty of both. Soluble fiber helps your body extract and absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat, subdues blood sugar and insulin spikes after eating and keeps you feeling full longer. Insoluble fiber curbs ghrelin, the hunger hormone, thereby preventing hunger pangs from setting in and lowering the risk of overeating. It also boosts your body's fat burning ability by nourishing gut bacteria involved in metabolism.

    A third category of fiber, which includes both soluble and insoluble fiber, is prebiotic fiber and digestive-resistant starches. These provide nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria that ferment the fiber, breaking it down into short-chain fatty acids that have potent anti-inflammatory properties and help maintain the structural integrity of the lining in your gut. Raw garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, green bananas and unripe papaya or mango are good sources.  

    How to Implement a Ketogenic Diet  

    To implement a ketogenic diet (a diet high in healthy fats, adequate in protein and low in net carbs), the first step is to eliminate packaged, processed foods. The emphasis is on real whole foods, plenty of healthy fats and as few net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) as possible. This typically involves dramatically reducing or temporarily eliminating all grains and any food high in sugar, particularly fructose, but also galactose (found in milk) and other sugars — both added and naturally-occurring.

    As a general rule, you'll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you're actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, a nutrient tracker can be an invaluable tool.

    I believe www.cronometer.com/mercola is the most accurate and best nutrient tracker available. Like my nutrition plan, this nutrient tracker is completely free. It's set up for nutritional ketosis, so based on the base parameters you enter, such as height, weight, body fat percentage and waist circumference, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats (including your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio) to put you into nutritional ketosis.

    This is what will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel rather than sugar, which in turn will help optimize your mitochondrial function and overall health and fitness. Another key to success on a high-fat, low-carb diet is to eat high-quality healthy fats, not the fats most commonly found in the American diet (the processed fats and vegetable oils used in processed foods and fried restaurant meals). Examples of high-quality healthy fats include:

    Olives and olive oil (make sure it's third party certified, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils.

    Also avoid cooking with olive oil. Use it cold)

    Coconuts and coconut oil (excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing)

    Animal-based omega-3 fat from fatty fish low in mercury like wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and/or krill oil

    Butter made from raw grass fed organic milk

    Raw nuts, such as macadamia and pecans

    Seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds

    Avocados

    Grass fed meats

    MCT oil

    Ghee (clarified butter); lard and tallow (excellent for cooking)

    Raw cacao butter

    Organic, pastured egg yolks

    To Learn More, Join Me at My Upcoming Live Lecture

    There are many professionals or others who would like to dive deep into the details, and if you fall into that category, I want to offer you some opportunities to learn more. On June 14 and 15, 2017, I will be in Colorado Springs for the SopMed's third medical ozone and ultraviolet light therapy training. The 14th I will be giving a three-hour course that goes into many of the details that are not discussed in my new book "Fat for Fuel," either because I learned of them later or there was not room to fit them in the book.

    I am also speaking in Florida in November. If you are a physician and are interested in learning about how you can use the ketogenic diet and other therapies for cancer, heart disease, Lyme and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, please be sure and come to our ACIM conference in Orlando, Florida, on November 2 through 4 at the wonderful Florida Conference and Hotel Center.

    If you are a patient, there will be a separate and less expensive track on the same date and location. However, you will need to come back to this page in a few days as the registration page for the event is still not up.





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  • Breathing Program to Improve Mental and Physical Health in Two Weeks
    published on April 22nd, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    It may be hard to believe, but 9 out of 10 adults breathe incorrectly, thereby impairing their health and exacerbating anxiety and depression. Fortunately, learning to breathe correctly is not a complicated affair.

    In this interview, Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of "Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health," shares a breathing program she developed that can help improve your physical and mental health in a short amount of time.

    Psychologists do not typically focus on breathing. As is often the case with health pioneers, it was her personal health problems that led Vranich onto this path.

    "What happened is that one year in New York, I woke up and had this dull throbbing pain in my jaw. I went to the dentist and found out I was not only grinding my teeth, I was pulverizing them because of stress …  

    Being someone who sort of thrived on stress, I reached a point where it wasn't working for me anymore … [F]inding out I had to pay thousands of dollars to get teeth replaced and fixed was my [aha] moment.

    Most people take a yoga class or have a stiff drink. I decided for the yoga class. I loved the breathing we did in yoga … When I left yoga, I tried to find other classes that had to do with breathing. Most of them were vague, as far as their scientific explanations of what was going on, although they were lovely …

    [C]oming from a science background, I really wanted to know why things were happening … Long story short, I found all types of breathing in sports, martial arts, birthing, singing [and] free diving. I put all those practical elements together and came up with the breathing class I give now.

    I went back to my own patients [who] had anxiety and depression, and it worked really well with them … They would spend chunks of the session really wanting to do breath work. That's how the transition happened."

    Proper Breathing Is a Cornerstone of Good Health

    In her book, "Breathe," Vranich accurately points out that breathing is a cornerstone of good health, and that changing the way you breathe can have an enormous impact, improving your sleep, cognition, eating habits, resilience to stress and more.

    It can even lower your inflammation level, improve gastrointestinal (GI) function, increase longevity and reduce pain. When you're in pain, you tense up, which in turn affects your breathing, making it shallower. This actually makes the pain feel worse, and can lead to a vicious circle where the pain becomes constant.

    When it comes to breathing style, there are two basic types: vertical and horizontal breathing. Most people breathe vertically. This type of breathing makes you feel a bit taller on the in-breath, as it raises your chest and shoulders.

    "Unfortunately, it's anatomically incongruous," Vranich says. "Your neck and shoulders were never meant to be breathing muscles. You're not using the best part of your lungs. You're actually telling your nervous system that you are in a stressed-out state.

    If you're not already in a stressed-out state, it's going to make you more stressed … Horizontally is the way you see all animals on the planet breathe. They breathe and widen where the biggest part of their lungs are …

    If you ask a 5-year old to take a breath, they just widen like a little puffing fish … It's their deep breath. It's perfect. You take a 10-year-old and ask them to take a deep breath and all of a sudden, it's completely changed.

    The 10-year-old will raise their shoulders, puff up their little chests and take this vertical, apical breath. If it doesn't happen by age 10, definitely by age 15 … What they're doing is mimicking their parents and what they see around them …"

    How to Address Dysfunctional Breathing

    The origins of dysfunctional breathing can also be traced back to excessive sitting. The average American sits 13 to 16 hours a day, which puts your body into an unnatural posture. According to Vranich, your posture affects as much as 30 percent of your breathing.

    You may also have learned improper breathing through sports. Constrictive clothing such as tight waist bands, compression garments and bra straps add to the problem. Sucking in your gut also worsens the situation.

    "Even if you're not pulling in your gut because you think it makes you look thinner, you're bracing because of anxiety. Think about it. That's actually a posture that most of us have very often," Vranich says. "It's this braced middle … because it makes us feel better.

    We feel like we're ready to run or to strike. The problem with all of those things is that it takes the breath and it pushes it up, [turning it into] a vertical breath …

    Luckily, dismantling it is fairly easy because somewhere in your body, you remember having breathed horizontally … [and since] it does make you feel better [when breathing horizontally], you start doing it."

    The book, "Breathe," is a useful resource that provides a variety of different exercises and strategies to address this dysfunctional breathing. One such strategy Vranich calls "rock and roll." You can do it either standing or sitting.

    Begin by relaxing and unbracing your midsection. Take a deep breath in and actually feel the middle of your body get wider. Let your belly go. On the exhale, roll backward, tipping your hips underneath you while pressing your fingers gently into your belly, giving it a little squeeze.

    These movements are exaggerated because learning a new mechanical movement is easier if you start by exaggerating it. Eventually, this will teach your body to use the diaphragm to breathe. So, on the inhale, let your belly go. On the exhale, roll back and squeeze.

    "This is the most important breath," Vranich says. "If you do anything at all, this is the most wonderful one … You want to get yourself trained to breathe that way all the time."

    Remember to Engage Your Diaphragm When Breathing

    One of the key things to remember is to work with and engage your diaphragm when breathing, as this will allow you to change your breathing more easily, and make the change permanent. This is what the "rock and roll" breathing exercise teaches you.

    "[While] the Buteyko [Breathing technique] focuses on your carbon dioxide levels, breathing through your nose, and posits that most people over-breathe … I focus on style of breathing.

    I really look to see where you're breathing from, because in my experience that has been what really resonates with people and what creates the most change," Vranich says. "Although I touch on Buteyko Breathing in my book, I try to bring in breathing exercises from as many different places as possible, because I want there to be information that resonates with a really diverse group of people.

    I talk about breathing that happens in singing … in martial arts … In "Breathe," I bring in everything I possibly can, as far as breathing, to really give you a choice to see which of these different exercises works for you. But my main gift, I'd like to think, is that I look at where you're breathing from."

    You might know that muscles will atrophy from lack of use. If you've been breathing improperly for several decades, it may take some time to retrain your breathing muscles before you can breathe optimally. Even athletes can have weak breathing muscles, because in order to be strong, they have to be worked out separately. It doesn't happen automatically simply because you're breathing heavily, and it has nothing to do with lung capacity. Your breathing muscles include your:

    • Intercostals: Muscles that run between your ribs, allowing your chest wall to move
    • Diaphragm: That thin sheet of muscle that extends across your thoracic cavity below your heart and lungs, above your digestive system
    • Obliques: The largest, outermost muscles of the lateral, anterior abdomen that give you that six-pack look
    • Pelvic floor

    How to Strengthen Your Breathing Muscles

    Working those muscles and really engaging them when breathing will have a dramatic effect on your ability to breathe well. Your inhale is governed by your diaphragm, while the exhale is primarily governed by your intercostals and obliques. Oftentimes, feeling short of breath is due to insufficient exhalation leaving excess residual air in your lungs. With age, your intercostals and obliques can weaken, thereby weakening your ability to exhale fully.

    "When I teach, I teach the extremes so that you understand the mechanics. I make that exhale a squeeze. When you think about exhaling, most people think, 'Inhale, exhale, let go,' and that really messes us up. That idea of 'exhale, let go' makes you relax and flop down when you actually want to be narrowing your body on the exhale …

    If you can think about your belly button getting closer to your spine and even your ribs coming together, that's a really good exhale, which will obviously make your next inhale much better," Vranich explains.

    While about 50 percent of people can change their breathing for the better simply by reading the book or taking a single-session breathing class, to really change your breathing for life, most people need to commit to doing the exercises several times a day for one to three weeks.

    The Importance of Stretching

    Stretching helps improve your range of motion and flexibility, and proper breathing is an important aspect of effective stretching as well. Conversely, stretching can also improve your breathing. Vranich explains: 

    "Since your intercostals are two layers of muscle on the inside of your ribs, the best way you can stretch them is by inhaling and then stretching … [This opens] up the spaces between your ribs … Add air to the ribcage, on the inside, and then stretch. Add a little bit more. It's called air packing — air packing comes from free diving — then stretch a little bit deeper. You can actually focus on the side that's collapsing and give that a little crunch …

    Now, I love spinal twists. If you don't have any injuries, if you've been OK'd for doing spinal twists, doing spinal twists on the exhale will definitely get you deeper into the twist using the breath … Whatever chair you're on, taking the back of your seat … and pulling yourself around on the exhale will get you deeper into the twist."

    More Information

    "Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health" is a really excellent book if you want to explore different ways to improve your breathing. Vranich also teaches her breathing course live across the U.S. and conducts private sessions via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout. An online course is also being prepared at the time of this interview.

    Health professionals, such as physical therapists, life coaches, personal trainers, yoga instructors and other coaches and therapists of all kinds can also become certified breathing coaches through her Breathe Certification Teacher Training Program. This year, teacher trainings are scheduled for Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. At present, there are about 50 health professionals certified in her program. You can find more information about this, and a whole lot more, on TheBreathingClass.com.





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  • Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad: Sweet and Fiery in Every Bite
    published on April 22nd, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    Recipe From Megan Olson of PaleoHacks

     

    Wasabi: You either love it or hate it. This condiment has an intense aroma and strong horseradish-like taste that can take some people aback, although those who are adventurous with their food seem to like it. This green root is popular in Japanese cuisine and is usually served alongside slices of raw fish or mixed with sushi rice.[i]

     

    If you’re interested in trying wasabi but don’t want that very spicy sensation after eating it, you can make this Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad Recipe by Megan Olson of PaleoHacks. What makes this dish stand out is the unique sweet and spicy avocado and wasabi dressing. Eating this salad is sure to deliver multiple flavors with each bite.

     

    Ingredients

     

    For the avocado wasabi dressing:

    1 large, ripe avocado

    2 teaspoons wasabi paste

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    Juice of 1 organic lemon

    Salt to taste

     

    For the salad:

    2 cups mixed greens

    1/4 cup shredded carrots

    4 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

    2 teaspoons sesame seeds

    Microgreens for garnish

     

    Procedure:

     

    1.       Prepare the dressing by adding avocado, lemon juice, salt and wasabi paste to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until avocado is smooth and creamy. Then add extra virgin olive oil. Blend on high for 1 minute until fully emulsified. Transfer dressing to a glass jar.

    2.       Prepare the salad by layering the greens in a large bowl followed by the shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, sesame seeds and microgreens. Drizzle the avocado wasabi dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

     

    This recipe makes 1 serving.

    Preparation time: 10 minutes

     

    Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad Recipe: A Good Choice for a Health Boost

     

    Salads, especially those made from fresh and organic produce, are one of the healthiest foods you can eat if you want to lose some weight, boost your health or both. This Crisp and Spicy Avocado Wasabi Salad Recipe is no exception.

     

    However, this isn’t your typical salad, mainly because of the avocado and wasabi dressing that has a good contrast of sweet and spicy. Plus, the numerous health benefits you can get from the dressing and the vegetables make this a top-notch salad you can save for yourself or share with another.

     

    Wickedly Spicy Wasabi’s Health Benefits

     

    Because wasabi is typically used in small servings, it does not typically qualify as a significant nutrient source. Nevertheless, adding authentic wasabi to your diet may have potential benefits because of its nutrients, namely:[ii]

     

    ·         Minerals: Potassium, calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc

    ·         Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and C

    ·         Protein

     

    Wasabi also exhibited anti-bacterial properties, and was most effective against the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. The roots were the strongest when it came to destroying the bacteria, although other plant parts were shown to kill the organisms too.[iii] Other studies also highlighted the wasabi stem’s capabilities against the E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus strains.[iv]

     

    Additional research revealed wasabi’s other capabilities, and these were all traced to compounds called isothiocyanates[v] in the plant:

    ·         Reduced cancer risk: Initial research showed that the compounds 6-MITC [6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] and I7557 [6-methylsulfonyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] may help prevent pancreatic cancer cell growth.[vi]

     

    Meanwhile, another study found that the 6-MITC [6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate] compound may inhibit growth of breast and skin cancer.[vii] However, more research has to be done to fully confirm this link.

     

    ·         Anti-platelet aggregation: The isothiocyanates may assist with preventing platelet aggregation,[viii] or the clumping together of red blood cells that may eventually cause blood clots.

     

    ·         Anti-inflammatory: Isothiocyanates showed potential in inhibiting inflammation-related conditions like asthma and inflammatory bowel disease and in decreasing symptoms of arthritis, a known inflammatory condition. Wasabi is known to block prostaglandin, the neurotransmitter responsible for inflammation and pain.

     

    To reap wasabi’s known benefits, you must use real and authentic wasabi, which is typically found only at specialty stores and high-end dining places. Beware of most wasabi sold in sushi places and groceries: They’re impostors that contain artificial colors and flavors and genetically modified (GM) ingredients like corn and soy. If you cannot find authentic wasabi, you can try making “wasabi” using horseradish, turmeric and spirulina.

     

    There are also side effects associated with wasabi, such as diarrhea and nausea (because of its strong flavor and aroma).[ix] Increased consumption of wasabi, especially in large doses, can induce liver damage because of a chemical called hepatotoxin present in the plant, so make sure to use it in moderation.[x]

     

    How Does Avocado Support Your Health?

     

    Aside from providing a mild sweetness to the dressing, the many benefits your body can reap from the avocado make this an important fruit you should add to your diet. Avocado contains vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, 9, C, E and K, and nutrients like potassium and fiber, but most of the positives connected to it come from its high monounsaturated fat content. These healthy fats are not only used by the body as fuel, but can also help:[xi]

     

    ·         Maintain proper brain function

    ·         Keep cholesterol levels in the healthy range

    ·         Improve heart health

    ·         Absorb fat-soluble nutrients like alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein from other foods

    ·         Prevent degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

     

    To top it all off, there is a low risk that an avocado is contaminated with pesticides because of its thick skin. The “Clean 15” report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), hailed avocado as the plant with second least amount of pesticide residue, so it’s OK to buy conventionally grown varieties.

     

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Your Best Bet for Salads

     

    While coconut oil remains to be the best type of oil you can use when cooking dishes, you can drizzle high-quality extra virgin olive oil or plain olive oil all over salads like this. Just like avocado, this oil contains healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower heart disease risk. These fats were also shown to benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, thereby reducing type 2 diabetes risk. Other benefits of olive oil include:

     

    Gentle on the digestive system

    Has a high potential in preventing gallstones and soothing ulcers

    Has liver-protective properties

    Offers anti-viral and antimicrobial properties

    A storehouse of beneficial nutrients for eye health like vitamin A

    Good source of vitamin E and minerals like copper, fiber and iron

     

    Unfortunately, most olive oils sold nowadays are adulterated, meaning the product is made inferior by adding cheap and oxidized omega-6 vegetable oils like sunflower or peanut oil or non-human grade olive oils.[xii] To avoid deception by profit-hungry olive oil producers, look for these qualities when purchasing olive oil:

     

    ·         Rancidity: Olive oil is considered rancid if it smells like crayons or putty, tastes like rancid nuts and/or has a greasy mouthfeel.

     

    ·         Fusty flavor: This refers to the instance wherein olives sit too long prior to milling, resulting in fermentation in the absence of oxygen. While this fusty flavor is incredibly common in olive oil and already considered normal, it’s not ideal. Olive oil that has a fermented smell that’s similar to sweaty socks or swampy vegetation should be avoided.

     

    If you’re not exactly sure what fusty flavor is, you can look through Kalamata olives and find a brown and mushy piece, rather than a purple or maroon-black and firm olive. The brown and mushy piece tends to have a fusty flavor.

     

    ·         Moldy flavor: Olive oil that tastes dusty or musty was probably made from moldy olives, an occasional olive oil defect.

     

    ·         Wine or vinegar flavor: If the oil tastes like it contains undertones of wine, vinegar or even nail polish, it’s a sign that the olives underwent fermentation with oxygen, which produces this sharp and undesirable flavor.

     

     

    About the Author:

    Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo: from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.

     





  • What Happens to Your Leftover Bar of Hotel Soap?
    published on April 21st, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease and reduce your risk of infectious illness. In the U.S. and other developed countries, it's easy to take a bar of soap for granted, but not everyone has ready access to this life-saving commodity.

    This is particularly atrocious because in the U.S., where one-third of the world's soap is used, there are 4.6 million hotel rooms. And what comes with each of those hotel rooms?

    At least one bar of soap. Most people do not use up the entire bar of soap during their hotel stay and simply leave the unused portion behind.

    Have you ever wondered what happens to that leftover soap? It often gets thrown away. The Global Soap Project estimates that the U.S. hotel industry throws away 2.6 million bars of soap daily.1

    It's an unspeakable waste but one that the charity Clean the World, which partners with the Global Soap Project, is making a dent in via their soap recycling program.

    The recycling, which ends up costing hotels just 75 cents per room a month, allows leftover soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner to be melted down, sterilized and formed into new soap that is sent all over the world.2

    Soap Is a Lifesaver

    Lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) contributes to two of the three leading causes of death in children 5 and under in the developing world: pneumonia and diarrhea — both of which can be reduced with access to soap.3

    In fact, according to the Global Soap Project, washing hands with soap reduces the risk of pneumonia in children by nearly 50 percent. Further, they estimate that 1.4 million deaths could be prevented every year just by handwashing with soap. They explain:4

    "Handwashing with soap is the single most effective way to prevent those deaths. In fact, soap is more effective than vaccines, medications or clean water initiatives alone.

    Research has shown that soap can reduce diarrheal disease by nearly one-half and rates of respiratory infection by about one-quarter."

    Since 2009, Clean the World has sent 40 million bars of soap to 115 countries, saving an untold number of lives in return.5 They're working to not only increase soap in schools around the globe, which could result in 1.9 billion school days gained, but also to provide soap to health care facilities and communities.

    They note that 35 percent of health care facilities in low-and middle-income countries do not have soap and water for handwashing. This allows infections to spread readily, including to mothers and newborns during childbirth. According to Clean the World:6

    "In 2013, more than 2.7 million newborns did not survive a month, and 99 percent of these neonatal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. However, 1 in 5 newborn deaths could be prevented with safe water, sanitation and clean hands."

    How the Hotel Soap Recycling Program Works

    About 4,000 hotels have partnered with Clean the World to recycle the leftover soap products from their hotel rooms. As CNN reported:7

    "The recycling process is simple. Clean the World provides collection materials, training and packaging to a hotel's housekeeping staff. The staff then collects soap, shampoo, conditioner and body washes and ships it all to the charity's recycling centers."

    The organization has hotel partners in all 50 U.S. states and Canada, including major hotel chains, Bed & Breakfasts and timeshares. If you want to choose your lodging needs when traveling accordingly, you can view an interactive map of Clean the World's hospitality industry recycling partners.

    The impact of this recycling program is striking. The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, for instance, has contributed more than 103,000 pounds of soap, while Disney World's Port Orleans Resort in Orlando, Florida, has recycled more than 82,600 pounds — that's the equivalent of about 550,000 and 440,683 bars of soap, respectively.8

    Even the eight-room Ivy Lodge in Newport Rhode Island has contributed 325 pounds, or 1,732 bars, of soap, proving that even small outlets can make a big difference. Clean the World also distributes hygiene kits to those in need in the U.S. and is planning to expand to China and the Middle East. Founder Shawn Seipler told CNN:9

    "This year [2017] we had $20 million combined revenue and 70 global team members. We were in a garage eight years ago. That is a real testament to the hospitality industry and their commitment to making an impact."

    The Value of a Bar of Soap

    When you consider the many deadly diseases that can be prevented with a bar of soap, its value becomes priceless. According to the CDC, in lower income countries, access to soap is limited, and even when it is available it's typically used for laundry and bathing, not necessarily handwashing.10

    Efforts are underway to spread awareness about the importance of using soap for the purpose of washing hands. The World Health Organization notes:11

    "Using proper toilets and hand washing — preferably with soap — prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta which otherwise contaminate water resources, soil and food.

    This contamination is a major cause of diarrhea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis and trachoma [the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide]."

    Worldwide, the CDC also reports that washing hands with soap and water could cut deaths associated with diarrhea by up to half while reducing the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent.12

    Research published in The Lancet further placed "the potential number of diarrhea deaths that could be averted by handwashing at about a million (1.1 million; lower estimate 0.5 million; upper estimate 1.4 million)."13

    When researchers looked specifically at the effect of promoting household handwashing with soap among children at the highest risk of death from diarrhea, they found that it led to a 53 percent lower incidence of diarrhea among children 15 years and under.14

    Among infants, the handwashing promotion and soap led to 39 percent fewer days with diarrhea, and severely malnourished children also benefited, experiencing 42 percent fewer days with diarrhea.

    Instilling the Importance of Handwashing in the US

    Perhaps surprisingly, in the U.S., where soap is generally not hard to come by, less than half of people wash their hands after using the toilet.15

    Further, even those who do may not be doing so correctly. In a study of more than 3,700 bathroom-goers in a college town, only 5 percent washed their hands properly, in a way that would kill infection and illness-causing germs.16

    Among the rest, 33 percent didn't even use soap and 10 percent neglected to wash their hands at all after using the restroom. Others did not wash their hands long enough to be effective at removing germs.

    There were some trends noted, too. Older generations typically washed their hands more frequently, and for longer, than younger generations, and women tended to wash their hands more often, and more effectively, than men.

    Still, the study suggests that a lot of people — the majority — are receiving a false sense of security when they wash their hands, believing them to be clean when in fact they've done little to actually remove the germs. Even among health care workers, it's estimated that proper handwashing is carried out less than half of the time it should be.17

    How to Wash Your Hands Effectively

    If you have regular access to soap, consider yourself lucky — and take a few moments to learn how to get the most from washing with it. To make sure you're actually removing the germs when you wash your hands, follow these guidelines:

    1. Use warm, running water and a mild soap (avoid antibacterial soap)
    2. Work up a good lather, all the way up to your wrists, scrubbing for at least 15 or 20 seconds (most people only wash for about 6 seconds)
    3. Make sure you cover all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers, and around and below your fingernails
    4. Rinse thoroughly under running water
    5. In public places, use a paper towel to open the door as a protection from germs that the handles may harbor

    Since your skin is one of your primary defenses against bacteria, resist the urge to become obsessive about washing your hands. If you wash them too harshly or too frequently, you can extract many of the protective oils in your skin, which can cause your skin to crack and potentially even bleed, which could invite infection. So how often should you wash your hands? Use commonsense, but for additional advice the CDC recommends:18

    Before, during and after preparing food

    Before eating food

    Before and after treating a cut or wound

    After using the toilet

    After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

    After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste

    After touching garbage

    After handling pet food or pet treats

    After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

    Before and after caring for someone who is sick

    If you're interested in helping Clean the World's soap recycling project, they will help you to organize a fundraiser or awareness campaign, as they don't accept soap donations from individuals or small groups. At the very least, check into participating lodging partners when you travel, so you'll know the bar of soap you leave behind will be put to good use instead of tossed in the trash.





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  • Back to Eden — How Simple, Natural Methods Can Take the Work Out of Gardening, and Boost Your Harvest
    published on April 21st, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    The featured documentary, "Back to Eden," reveals a simple organic gardening method that not only can transform your personal garden, but may even be part of the food solution needed on a global scale.

    Far from being life sustaining, our modern, large-scale, chemical-dependent farming methods strip soil of nutrients, destroy critical soil microbes, contribute to the creation of deserts where nothing will grow, and saturate farmlands with toxic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that then migrate into ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.

    This video really inspired me and, after watching it, I called my local tree cutting service and was able to get three truckloads of wood chips dropped on my driveway for free. I then wheelbarreled them onto my landscape.

    The great thing about the wood chips is that they are waste and most companies will give you all you want. I plan on adding more every few months.

    One important aspect I learned, though, is that the wood chip pile will tend to decompose rather rapidly if you don't spread it on your landscape right away. So, it's best to spread the chips over a few days and not leave it in a pile.

    Otherwise you will wind up needing to wear a mask to avoid inhaling the dust when you use a pitchfork to move the chips into your wheelbarrel.

    I am convinced that "Back to Eden's" gardener, Paul Gautschi, makes loads of sense and that this is a crucial part of the equation for creating healthy soil to produce healthy plants. Wood chips not only seem to eliminate the need for any fertilizer or mineral supplements, but also to help reduce watering and make weeding a snap.

    If the religious overtones of this film don't appeal to you, I hope you will overlook them because regardless of your religious beliefs, the information shared still has tremendous value, and is sure to be of interest to anyone concerned with sustainable agriculture. As presented by Documentary Storm:1

    "Dana & Sarah Films, a nomadic grassroots film production company, travel to Washington where Paul Gautschi has developed a revolutionary gardening technique that is estimated to cut back on the need for irrigation by up to 95 percent.

    Paul is known locally as a master arborist and is now inspiring people across the nation to experiment with his gardening methods by starting their own 'Back to Eden' gardens."

    'Back to Eden' — Nature Is Self-Sustaining

    What many fail to realize is that your health ultimately depends on the health of the soil — this is what allows your food, the vegetables and fruits, to grow nutrient-dense. When soils are depleted of nutrients, the foods grown in it will be deficient in critical minerals and phytonutrients as well.

    Unfortunately, that's the state of a large portion of the Earth's soils today. Clearly, the answer to correcting soils depleted of nutrients is NOT to add even more chemical fertilizers.

    The "magical" ingredient that maintains and maximizes soil health is actually the microorganisms living in the soil. This includes bacteria, fungi, protozoa and microscopic roundworms called nematodes.

    Far from being scourges to be avoided, microorganisms are an essential necessity for optimized plant growth.

    We now understand that it is the cooperation between these microorganisms, the soil's biome and the plants' roots — called rhizosphere — that is ultimately responsible for allowing the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil in which it's grown.

    As discussed in the featured film, nature is self-sustaining. When left alone, the ground becomes covered with leaves and organic materials that then turn into lush compost that adds 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, Gautschi doesn't need to water any of his plants, even in the summer. And his garden yields plenty of large, well-formed, juicy fruits, berries and vegetables.

    While you certainly can purchase wood chips, Paul suggests contacting your local tree service to get large amounts. These are basically tree branches that have gone through a wood chipper.

    They usually have to get rid of all these wood chips anyway so, like me, you may be able to get it for next to nothing, opposed to buying bags of mulch from a gardening center. As stated by Documentary Storm:

    "In these days of genetically modified organisms, leafy greens replete with pesticides, drought, fruits and vegetables that are deficient of nutrients, soil that is depleted of minerals, and a myriad of problems and side effects that have risen because of the aforementioned, Paul Gautschi seems to have an answer that almost seems too simple to believe."

    Others have duplicated his efforts, reaping the same fantastic results. For example, the film also features Ronald and Sylvia Richardson, who were inspired to follow in Gautschi's footsteps after a visit to his garden in 2010, and the McOmber family, who have also successfully implemented his methods in their garden.

    A Nearly Magical Soil Amendment, the Results of Which Will Shock You

    One of the keys to a truly successful garden is to improve the microbiology of the soil. Many people don't appreciate that it's NOT commercial products like Miracle-Gro® you put in your garden that give you disease-resistant and nutrient-dense food, but the diverse collection of bacteria, fungi and parasites that actually transfer the nutrients from the soil into the plant.

    Miracle-Gro® will supply some nutrients, but these salts actually kill the soil microbes. Although the film does not discuss this, I believe that one of the primary reasons why Gautschi's experiment is so successful is due to the beneficial effect on microorganism growth.

    When the article initially ran, I experimented in my own garden by spreading 15 gallons of vortexed compost tea (basically compost tea that has been stirred, creating a vortex in the bucket) nearly every day for six months.

    Each ounce of the tea had hundreds of trillions of beneficial microbes. Since I was applying 2,000 ounces to my garden, that's a lot of microbes! While that provided some benefit, I was still disappointed with the results.

    What I learned from that experience is that these microbes need a home to hang out in, live and multiply. Without a proper home they simply die, soon after being applied. As it turns out, Biochar fits the bill perfectly.

    Shortly after this interview initially ran I applied biochar to my property and I now have a deep, rich topsoil with wonderful edible landscape. Biochar is created by slowly burning biomass like wood chips, corn stalks, coconut shells or any similar organic material in a low-oxygen environment, such as a kiln.

    When burned this way, the carbon in the organic material is not released into the atmosphere as CO2; rather, it traps the carbon and forms a type of charcoal that has a reef-like structure, which serves as a magnificent microbial home. Besides providing excellent living quarters for soil microorganisms, Biochar also has a number of other benefits, including:

    1. Returning much of the depleted carbon to the soil (carbon sequestration), where it can remain for hundreds or even thousands of years
    2. Improving overall soil quality and fertility
    3. Raising the soil's water retention ability
    4. Potentially helping to "filter" toxic chemicals in the soil, much like carbon-based water filtration systems can filter toxins out of your water

    Biochar Strongly Supports Plant Growth

    The introduction of Biochar into soil is not like applying fertilizer; rather, it's the beginning of a process — most of the benefit is achieved through the activity of the microbes and fungi that take up residence in the treated soil. They colonize its massive surface area and integrate into the char and the surrounding soil, dramatically increasing the soil's ability to nurture plant growth.

    One of the major benefits of Biochar is that it is highly stable and typically lasts for many centuries, if not longer, so it is one soil amendment that does not need to be regularly applied. In this respect, it is far superior to wood chips. As explained in a recent Ecologist2 article, research shows Biochar can more than double a plant's yield! The researchers also discovered the "how" behind this remarkable result. As reported in the article:

    "They also tracked for the first time the changes in genetic expression that followed from applying biochar. The response of more than 10,000 genes was followed simultaneously, and two growth promoting plant hormones — brassinosteroids and auxins, together with their signaling molecules — were stimulated by the biochar.

    Professor Taylor said: 'Our findings provide the very first insight into how biochar stimulates plant growth — we now know that cell expansion is stimulated in roots and leaves alike and this appears to be the consequence of a complex signaling network that is focused around two plant growth hormones.'"

    Urban Gardening Is the Answer to Many of Our Problems

    There's no doubt that urban gardening is an important step toward building a more sustainable food system. In fact, I've been encouraging everyone to plant a "Victory Garden" as a proactive step toward fixing our broken food system and improving your health. Victory Gardens are named after the gardens that people were encouraged to plant in their back yards and in parks and other public places during World Wars I and II.

    As a result, in 1944, 40 percent of the produce grown in the U.S. was in people's backyards. I really think it's possible to catalyze a similar movement for a different purpose. The new reality is that for most people, it is very difficult to obtain high-quality, nutrient-dense foods unless you grow them yourself.

    Food grown in your own garden is overall fresher, more nutritious and tastes better than store-bought food — and you can't beat the price. Urban gardens are also key to saving energy, protecting water quality and topsoil, and promoting biodiversity and beautifying densely populated communities. It may even be the U-turn we need to rein in out-of-control rates of depression, much of which may be rooted in the feeling of being disconnected from nature, and hence disconnected from our own selves.

    According to a survey by Gardeners' World Magazine, 80 percent of gardeners reported being "happy" and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners. Monty Don, a British TV presenter and garden writer, attributes the wellbeing of gardeners to the "recharging" you get from sticking your hands in the soil and spending time outdoors in nature.

    This seems more than reasonable when you consider the health benefits associated with grounding, also known as earthing. As detailed in the documentary film "Grounded," the surface of the Earth holds subtle health-boosting energy, and all you have to do is touch it.

    Walking barefoot on the Earth transfers free electrons from the Earth's surface into your body that spread throughout your tissues. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep and enhance your wellbeing. Many a gardener will attest to the sense of wellbeing obtained from sticking your hands in the dirt as well, and this is separate from the pleasure of accomplishment that comes from eating your own home-grown food.

    Basic Biochar Guidelines

    If you're planning on starting a garden, I heartily endorse Biochar. You just need to make sure it is activated by either combining it with compost, rock dust powder or my favorite, human urine. Urine is a phenomenal source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and will bind strongly to the carbon in the Biochar rather than draining away.

    The nitrogen balances the carbon in the Biochar and serves as food for the microbes, which in turn feed the plant for the long term. A friend of mine did this last year in his garden and his plants produced so many vegetables they almost seemed like mutants.

    Wetting the Biochar is also important to promote beneficial earthworms. One 2011 study3 found that earthworms tend to avoid dry Biochar, but that wetting the char resulted in "statistically undetectable avoidance." According to the authors:

    "[I]nsufficient moisture could be a key factor affecting earthworm behavior in soil amended with dry biochar. To avoid desiccation of invertebrates and enable their beneficial ecosystem services, we recommend wetting biochar either before or immediately after soil application."

    You can certainly add Biochar to existing plants, shrubs and trees but, ideally, it's best if it's in the soil prior to planting, so the plants have an ideal form of nutrition early on. If you have a small garden, you might need only a few hundred pounds. Larger landscapes will require more.

    Gardeners Beware: Pesticides Also Kill Off Beneficial Earthworms

    Getting back to earthworms for a brief moment, these creepy crawlers also play an important role in maintaining the health of the soil. Pesticides, which are commonly sprayed on crops to protect them against being ravaged by pests, also have a devastating effect on earthworms living beneath the soil, which is yet another reason to avoid chemical gardening.

    Research shows that earthworms exposed to pesticides grow to only half their normal weight. Since pesticide exposure also has a detrimental impact on their ability to reproduce, untreated soils can contain as much as two to three times as many earthworms as treated soils. As reported by the Cornucopia Institute:4

    "Pesticides have a direct impact on the physiology and behavior of earthworms, a Danish/French research team reports after having studied earthworms that were exposed to pesticides over generations. 'We see that the worms have developed methods to detoxify themselves, so that they can live in soil sprayed with fungicide.

    They spend a lot of energy on detoxifying, and that comes with a cost: The worms do not reach the same size as other worms, and we see that there are fewer of them in sprayed soil. An explanation could be that they are less successful at reproducing, because they spend their energy on ridding themselves of the pesticide,' the researchers, Ph.D. student Nicolas Givaudan and associate professor, Claudia Wiegand, say."

    Working WITH Nature Rather Than Against It: That's the Future of Farming

    Researchers are increasingly starting to recognize gut microbiota as one of your most unappreciated "organs."5 It may even be more appropriate to view your body as a "super organism" composed of symbiotic microorganisms. Probiotics are even becoming widely accepted and adopted in the conventional medical community to support health.

    In soil, we have a very similar process. The health of the plants and those who eat those plants all stand to benefit from the optimization of soil microbiology. Optimizing soil biology also strengthens plants against pest infestations without having to resort to chemical warfare that kills far more than the insects they're designed to destroy.

    Research shows that there's constant communication going on between plants via the rhizosphere (root ball). Plants "talk" to one another through aerial emissions — the volatile gasses they emit — and also through the mycelial networks in the soil. This is a major insight that deepens our understanding of the importance of nurturing and maintaining healthy soil microbiomes.

    It also explains why you don't really need synthetic chemicals to grow large amounts of food. On the contrary, the chemicals used in modern agriculture are killing the very foundation of health — the microbiomes in the soil. In short, if you support and nurture the microbiome in soil, it in turn will provide you with good nutrition and optimal health through the food grown in it. As noted by Documentary Storm:

    "A sustainable permaculture revolution is at hand as a solution to earth's mistreatment and the unwillingness of the U.S. government to protect its citizens from agribusiness giants ...

    When the burden of proof is in the hands of the affected to prove the food-like products are negatively affecting their health, the safest thing to do is grow the most nutritious food we can at the smallest expense in order to push these food-like products out of market. Paul's garden is an example of sustainable permaculture at its best."

    About the Directors

    I believe in bringing quality to my readers, which is why I wanted to share some information about Dana Richardson and Sarah Zentz, producers and directors of "Back to Eden." We sat down with Dana and Sarah to learn a little more about what goes in to making these films. Thank you to Dana and Sarah for sharing with us.

    What was your inspiration for making this film?

    I​n 2010 we heard a story about Paul Gautschi, a gardener who practiced a no-till, non-GMO, organic gardening method that was capable of being implemented in diverse climates and soil conditions around the world. At that time, awareness was increasing about GMO​s​ and ​the impacts of​ conventional farming​ practices​ on the health and wellness of our bodies and the environment.

    We knew that Paul's organic gardening method was a simple, sustainable solution​ to the global food crisis​ that needed to be documented and shared with the world.

    Our goal was to create a visually engaging and educational documentary that taught people around the world how to grow a "Back to Eden Garden" and thus reap the abundant harvest and numerous health benefits of Paul Gautschi's organic gardening method. 

    What was your favorite part of making this film?

    Meeting Paul Gautschi was a life-changing experience. On a daily basis we walked with Paul in his gardens and orchards, experienced eating the sweetest tasting fruits and vegetables, learned how to grow our own organic food, and were immeasurably blessed by his incredible knowledge and generous spirit.

    Where do the proceeds to your film go?

    If you buy the film through our website www.backtoedenfilm.com, the proceeds go directly ​toward spreading the message of Back to Eden gardening around the world

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





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  • Gear Up for Improved Health With Galbanum Oil
    published on April 19th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    When it comes to purchasing essential oils, there are a lot of factors that affect your decision to buy them or not: value for money, freshness, effectiveness or all of the three. There are oils that can give you all of these qualities with just a few drops, and galbanum essential oil happens to be one of them.

    What Is Galbanum Oil?

    Galbanum essential oil comes from the plant of the same name (Ferula galbaniflua).1 The plant is native to countries in southern Europe, North Africa and West Asia, particularly in Iran, where it's said to have originated.

    Typically, the Levant or soft variety of the plant is used when making the essential oil, and not the Persian variety,2 because the Levant produces more essential oil during extraction.3 Galbanum oil has a pale yellow color, thick consistency, and a fresh scent reminiscent of green bell peppers.4,5

    Uses of Galbanum Oil

    Galbanum oil's capabilities did not take a long time to get noticed, with ancient civilizations putting this oil to use long ago. The Roman and Greek civilizations used it in incense sticks, bath water and cosmetics like balms and perfume.

    Meanwhile, the Egyptians used it for incense and cosmetics, as well as for embalming the dead. Some of these uses still continue today.

    Galbanum oil is mainly used medicinally. If you have wounds, boils, or scars from acne, pimples or pox, this essential oil can help with the healing process. If you have spasms, galbanum oil may provide a relaxing effect to your muscles.

    If you feel like your skin needs an additional boost, galbanum oil can help rejuvenate and give it a younger look. It uplifts sagging skin and removes wrinkles, stretch marks and fat cracks. It's also used as an ingredient for cosmetics and perfumes.6

    Apart from uses on your body, this essential oil can also help keep your household clean, as it drives insects and parasites like mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, ants, fleas, bed bugs and lice away from humans and pets.

    Galbanum essential oil is also used to flavor food products like beverages, confectionaries, baked goods, gelatins and puddings, meats and meat products, snack foods and gravy.

    Composition of Galbanum Oil

    Substances found in galbanum essential oil include alpha- and beta-pinene, car3-ene, (+)-limonene, terpinolene, linalool, borneol, fenchone, cadinol, cadinene, and myrcene.

    Benefits of Galbanum Oil

    Galbanum oil's benefits extend to many different parts of your body. It's been said that this essential oil can help relieve:

    • Arthritis and rheumatism through boosting blood circulation in the body
    • Spasms (especially in the respiratory tract, intestines and nerves)
    • Sores and ulcers, whether internal or external
    • Congestions that result from bronchitis, or are present in the nasal tract, bronchi, traches, larynx, pharynx and lungs
    • Health problems caused by obstructed or improper circulation

    It also assists in:

    • Accelerating the growth of new tissues and cells
    • Easier breathing and a good night's sleep, especially if you have a cold, cough, and/or bronchitis
    • Regulating production of hormones that affect production of sebum
    • Promoting and stimulating circulation of blood and lymph in the body
    • Recovering from shock, trauma, and depression

    How to Make Galbanum Oil

    Galbanum essential oil is made by steam distillation of the resin from the plant.

    How Does Galbanum Oil Work?

    If you want to use galbanum essential oil, you can do so via the following methods:7

    • Topically: Dilute first with a carrier oil and apply to area that needs it (around two to four drops)8
    • Diffusion: Pour a few (around three to four) drops of galbanum essential oil into your diffuser
    • Direct inhalation: Dilute the essential oil with water, then enjoy the aroma

    Is Galbanum Oil Safe?

    Galbanum oil is safe and is FDA-approved as a food flavoring agent and additive.9 However, make sure to always follow the prescribed dosage. Consult a physician before allowing a child or pregnant woman to use this essential oil.10

    Side Effects of Galbanum Oil

    Prior to use, consult with a physician and take an allergen patch test to determine if you can use this essential oil or not. While there are no recorded cases of galbanum oil adverse reactions, it's still crucial to use it in moderation.




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  • Sleep Deprivation Costs Billions and Makes People Rude
    published on April 19th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Did you get enough sleep last night? If your answer is no, you're in good company. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests 35 percent of U.S. adults are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night.1

    When you consider that some people probably need closer to eight hours to be optimally healthy, that percentage jumps even higher. What's at stake when you skimp on sleep, either by choice or consequence? Your emotional and physical health can suffer, and this has steep ramifications for your work life, too.

    Lack of Sleep May Lead to Arguments at Work

    If you've noticed fellow employees acting unusually quick to anger, their sleep schedule could be to blame. Research conducted by Laura M. Giurge at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in the Netherlands, found that even one night of too little sleep may lead to unwanted behavior at work the next day.2

    Giurge conducted the study by sending out text messages to employees, who rated their sleep quality and reported on unwanted behaviors at work, such as acting rude toward co-workers, going home early without notifying their boss or taking a longer lunch break than allowed.

    Sleep quality was found to influence behavior at work the next day, especially in people with a low "moral identity." These people put less value on moral traits like fairness and kindness overall, and were also more likely to engage in unwanted behaviors at work after a night of poor sleep.

    " … [D]isplay of unwanted behavior is not a fixed character trait," said Giurge, adding that such behaviors can vary from day to day.

    Poor sleep may make it harder for people to stop engaging in such behaviors, as well as to overcome feelings of failure when displaying the undesirable behaviors. In turn, Giurge said, "This can lead into a possibly destructive cycle."3

    It could be that poor sleep lessens a person's self-control, which in turn increases the rate of selfish impulses leading to unwanted behaviors — even workplace theft.4 According to the Rotterdam School of Management, employees' "misbehaving" at work adds up, to the tune of $200 billion a year in the U.S. alone.5

    Children's Behavior Also Affected by Lack of Sleep — Even Years Later

    It's no secret that kids may act out if they didn't get enough sleep, but recent research suggests lack of sleep in early childhood may even affect behavior years later.6,7

    Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston used evaluations from mothers and teachers to determine executive function and behavior among more than 1,000 children.

    While sleep duration between the ages of 6 months and 2 years was not linked to later behavior, sleep at ages 3 to 4 was. Those who slept less than 10 hours a day at age 3 or 4 had lower scores on executive function and behavior at age 7. Likewise, 5- to 7-year-olds who slept for nine hours a night or less also had lower scores.

    "Insufficient sleep in the preschool and early school years is associated with poorer mother- and teacher-reported neurobehavioral processes in mid-childhood," the researchers concluded.8

    For kids, simple steps, like keeping a predictable bedtime schedule, removing TVs and smartphones from the bedroom, and winding down before bed with a story, can help with achieving high-quality sleep.

    Lead author Dr. Elsie Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, told Reuters, "What we found was that insufficient sleep in children was associated with poorer executive function and behavior."9

    Cutting Back on Sleep to Get More Done May Be Counterproductive

    Lacking in this fundamental human necessity takes a heavy toll, raising the risk of chronic diseases, obesity and premature death while costing the U.S. economy up to $411 billion a year in lost productivity alone.10

    So, if you're burning the midnight oil hoping to get ahead on work or schoolwork, it may be counterproductive, as you're likely to be less productive and mentally slower the next day.

    In one animal study, sleep-deprived mice lost 25 percent of the neurons located in their locus coeruleus, a nucleus in the brainstem associated with wakefulness and cognitive processes.11 The research also showed that "catching up" on sleep on the weekend will not prevent this damage.

    Some jobs, like firefighting, require extended shifts and late-night hours that can disrupt circadian rhythms and lead to sleep deficiency that may also affect safety and the ability to function on the job.

    Research shows that instituting a sleep health program, along with screening for sleep disorders, at fire stations led to 46 percent fewer disability days used. Those who took part in the program were also 24 percent less likely to file at least one injury report during the study.12

    It's even been shown that people with an elevated number of insomnia symptoms are twice as likely to leave a paid job due to poor health than those with no or low symptoms.13

    Lack of sleep, specifically insomnia, has been proven to adversely affect many aspects of workplace performance, including, according to research published in Sleep Medicine Reviews:14

    • Excess absenteeism
    • Elevated accident risk in the workplace
    • Reduced workplace productivity
    • Inhibited career progression
    • Degraded job satisfaction

    Lack of Sleep Influences Your Risk-Taking, Decision-Making and More

    Your brain's prefrontal cortex (PFC), which influences such behaviors as risk-taking and social behavior, is vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation. Research published in PLoS found that after just one night of sleep deprivation, all participants suffered from increased sleepiness and decreased alertness.15

    Differences were noted among men and women, however, in that men tended to make riskier decisions following sleep loss while women tended to become more averse to risks.

    Sleep loss also affects decision-making. In separate research, participants underwent two nights of total sleep deprivation followed by two nights of recovery sleep, then performed a decision-making test.16

    A well-rested control group (who had slept normally) performed better on the tests than the sleep-deprived group. Particularly revealing was when the rules for the test were reversed… and none of the sleep-deprived volunteers got the right answer, even after 40 tries.

    The study's lead author told NPR, "It wasn't just that sleep-deprived people were slower to recover… Their ability to take in new information and adjust was completely devastated."17

    The researchers concluded that sleep deprivation is particularly problematic for decision-making involving uncertainty and unexpected change. They concluded:

    "Blunted reactions to feedback while sleep deprived underlie failures to adapt to uncertainty and changing contingencies. Thus, an error may register, but with diminished effect because of reduced affective valence of the feedback or because the feedback is not cognitively bound with the choice.

    This has important implications for understanding and managing sleep loss-induced cognitive impairment in emergency response, disaster management, military operations and other dynamic real-world settings with uncertain outcomes and imperfect information."

    Are You Willing to Risk All of This to Stay Up Late?

    Sleep deprivation, or a lack of quality sleep, has a significant impact on your brain health and your overall health and wellness. There are good reasons you may want to develop good sleep habits and strive to achieve quality sleep every night — and certainly consider going to bed earlier if your sleep deprivation is the result of staying up too late by choice.

    Increased risk of car accidents

    Increased accidents at work

    Reduced ability to perform tasks

    Reduced ability to learn or remember

    Reduced productivity at work

    Reduced creativity at work or in other activities

    Reduced athletic performance

    Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease

    Increased risk of depression

    Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

    Decreased immune function

    Slowed reaction time

    Reduced regulation of emotions and emotional perception

    Poor grades in school

    Increased susceptibility to stomach ulcers

    Exacerbation of current chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and cancer

    Cutting one hour of sleep a night increases the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress18

    Contributing to premature aging by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep

    What Works for a Good Night's Sleep?

    If you're having trouble sleeping, I suggest reading my Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for 33 tips on improving your sleep. Tracking your sleeping patterns and time spent asleep using technological devices (like smart belts or bracelets) may be helpful for some people, but getting back to the basics of improving your sleeping environment is of crucial important.

    No. 1 on my list? Avoid exposure to blue light, including LEDs, after sunset. Wearing blue-blocking glasses is a simple way to achieve this. Further:

    Avoid watching TV or using your computer/smartphone or tablet in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed.

    Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure regularly. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you are in darkness all day long, it can't appreciate the difference and will not optimize your melatonin production.

    Get some sun in the morning. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night.

    Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your clock radio up at night or get rid of it altogether. Move all electrical devices at least 3 feet away from your bed. You may want to cover your windows with drapes or blackout shades, or wear an eye mask when you sleep.

    Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose, as are natural, non-toxic candles.

    Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their upstairs bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees F.

    Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.

    Avoid using loud alarm clocks. Being jolted awake each morning can be very stressful. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, you might not even need an alarm, as you'll wake up naturally.

    Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home. If possible, install a kill switch to turn off all electricity to your bedroom. If you need a clock, use a battery-operated one.





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  • Science Reveals Why Nature Sounds and Deep Breathing Are so Relaxing
    published on April 19th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    Many feel an intrinsic pull to spend time in nature and this makes perfect sense. Your brain and body are largely hard-wired to sync with nature — the rising and setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons, for example.

    I personally find my 90-minute daily beach walks, where I can hear the ocean surf, capture the sunshine on my skin and practice deep breathing exercises in the clean ocean air, to be one of life's gifts that I am most grateful for.

    It's no wonder then that when our senses get to take in nature at its finest — the sounds of a babbling brook, the scent of lush earth in a forest preserve or even the sight of a green oasis in the middle of a city — it sets off a cascade of physical and psychological benefits.

    Nature sounds are frequently used for meditation, as the sounds of insects, birds, wind and flowing water are known to induce a state of calm. Now, science explains the "how" behind this influence.

    How Nature Sounds Help You Relax

    Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that sounds of nature affect your brain, lowering fight-or-flight instincts and activating your rest-and-digest autonomic nervous system.1,2,3

    Participants listened to two different types of sound — nature sounds and sounds from a manmade artificial environment — while lying in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner that measured their brain activity.

    During each five-minute soundscape, they also performed tasks designed to measure attention and reaction time. Nature sounds produced brain activity associated with outward-directed focus, whereas artificial sounds created brain activity associated with inward-directed focus.

    The latter, which can express itself as worry and rumination about things related to your own self, is a trait associated with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Nature sounds also produced higher rest-digest nervous system activity, which occurs when your body is in a relaxed state. External attentional monitoring tasks and mental concentration also improved.

    Importantly, participants performed best on tasks requiring attention when listening to nature sounds that they were familiar with. This, the researchers contend, highlights the importance of being selective when purchasing a sound app, CD or environmental sound machine.

    If you're unfamiliar with rainforest monsoons or chirping crickets, such sounds may not be as relaxing to you as the sounds of wind through trees, waves crashing on a beach or bird song.

    Overall, nature sounds also had the greatest effect on those who were the most stressed. Lead author Cassandra Gould van Praag, Ph.D., said:

    "We are all familiar with the feeling of relaxation and 'switching-off' which comes from a walk in the countryside, and now we have evidence from the brain and the body which helps us understand this effect.

    This has been an exciting collaboration between artists and scientists, and it has produced results which may have a real-world impact, particularly for people who are experiencing high levels of stress …4

    I would definitely recommend a walk in natural surroundings to anyone, whether they're currently feeling frazzled or not. Even a few minutes of escape could be beneficial."5

    Nature Sounds Speed Recovery From Psychological Stress

    Previous research6 has also demonstrated that listening to nature sounds helps you recover faster after a stressful event. Here, subjects were exposed to nature sounds or the sound of a noisy environment after performing a stressful mathematical task.

    Skin conductance level was used to measure sympathetic activation (fight-or-flight response) and high frequency heart rate variability was used to measure parasympathetic activation (relaxation response).

    When nature sounds were played, the sympathetic nervous system recovery was faster, suggesting it facilitates recovery from sympathetic activation after a psychological stressor.

    Research into the physical and emotional effects of sound actually goes back decades. As noted in the study just mentioned:7

    "In 1984, Ulrich demonstrated that patients whose windows faced a park recovered faster compared with patients whose windows faced a brick wall.

    Since then, several studies have demonstrated restorative effects of natural compared with urban environments; these effects include increased well-being, decreased negative affect and decreased physiological stress responses.

    Ulrich suggested that natural environments have restorative effects by inducing positive emotional states, decreased physiological activity and sustained attention.

    This agrees with Kaplan and Kaplan's theory that nature environments facilitate recovery of directed attention capacity and thereby reducing mental fatigue, and with results showing that positive emotions improves physiological recovery after stress."

    City Life Linked to Anxiety and Mood Disorders

    Other studies have found city dwellers are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and schizophrenia than those living in more rural environments.8,9

    Researchers from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University in Canada set out to determine whether changes in neural processes might be responsible for these findings.

    They used fMRI to monitor the brains of 32 healthy adults asked to complete difficult math problems while being timed and hearing negative verbal responses. Those who lived in urban environments had increased activity in the amygdala area of the brain, which is involved in emotions such as fear and responses to threats.

    Those who lived in cities during the first 15 years of their life also had increased activity in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, which helps to regulate the amygdala. In short, those who grew up in an urban environment had a greater sensitivity to stress.

    In an accompanying editorial, Daniel Kennedy, Ph.D., and Ralph Adolphs, Ph.D., both of the California Institute of Technology, explained that city living likely affects everyone differently, and your level of autonomy may play a role in how stressful it is for you:10

    "There are wide variations in individuals' preferences for, and ability to cope with, city life: [S]ome thrive in New York City; others would happily swap it for a desert island. Psychologists have found that a substantial factor accounting for this variability is the perceived degree of control that people have over their daily lives.

    Social threat, lack of control and subordination are all likely candidates for mediating the stressful effects of city life, and probably account for much of the individual differences seen."

    Should you find yourself in a city, struggling to keep stress at bay, you may want to consider seeking out parks, creating a natural sanctuary on your balcony or rooftop, or even indoors, using plants and an environmental sound machine. YouTube also has a number of very long videos of natural sounds, such as the one featured above. You could simply turn it on and leave it on while you're indoors.

    Your Breath Also Affects Your Stress

    Another way to release stress and trigger your relaxation response is through breath work. Many breathing experts agree that 9 out of 10 people breathe poorly, which can have ramifications for both your physical and psychological health. Shallow breathing activates your sympathetic response, which is involved in releasing cortisol and other stress hormones.

    Controlled deep breathing — known as pranayama in yoga — on the other hand, helps trigger your relaxation response as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn slows down your heart rate and digestion while promoting a state of calm. Modern research suggests the benefits of controlled breathing are real and may improve health conditions ranging from insomnia and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

    Controlled breathing exercises have also been found to modify stress-coping behaviors and initiate appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone, which is a term that describes your heart's ability to respond to and recover from stressors.11 Scientists at Stanford University have also mapped out the connections between your breath and your thoughts, behaviors and feelings. As reported by The New York Times:12

    "[H]ow the mind and body regulate breathing and vice versa at the cellular level has remained largely mysterious. More than 25 years ago, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles first discovered a small bundle of about 3,000 interlinked neurons inside the brainstems of animals, including people, that seem to control most aspects of breathing. They dubbed these neurons the breathing pacemaker."

    Stanford Scientists Reveal Why Deep, Slow Breathing Is so Calming

    Now, scientists have started using new genetic techniques to probe individual neurons within this breathing pacemaker. So far, they've identified 65 different types of neurons in this area, which are thought to regulate different aspects of breathing. One of these neuron types, when disabled, prevented mice from getting stressed out when placed in unfamiliar surroundings. The article explains:

    "It turned out that the particular neurons in question showed direct biological links to a portion of the brain that is known to be involved in arousal. This area sends signals to multiple other parts of the brain that, together, direct us to wake up, be alert and, sometimes, become anxious or frantic.

    In the mellow mice, this area of the brain remained quiet. 'What we think was going on was that the disabled neurons normally would detect activity in other neurons within the pacemaker that regulate rapid breathing and sniffing,' says Dr. Kevin Yackle … who … led the study.

    The disabled neurons would then alert the brain that something potentially worrisome was going on with the mouse since it was sniffing, and the brain should start ramping up the machinery of worry and panic. So a few tentative sniffs could result in a state of anxiety that, in a rapid feedback loop, would make the animal sniff more and become increasingly anxious …  

    [W]ithout that mechanism, it would remain tranquil … The implication of this work … is that taking deep breaths is calming because it does not activate the neurons that communicate with the brain's arousal center."

    Breathing Exercise to Control Anxiety

    Whether you breathe through your mouth or your nose also has important health implications, with the latter being far preferable. The Buteyko Breathing Method helps to reverse health problems associated with improper breathing, the most common of which are overbreathing and mouth breathing. Typical characteristics of overbreathing include mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing, noticeable breathing during rest and taking large breaths prior to talking.

    When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume down toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain. Controlling anxiety and quelling panic attacks is one of the areas where the Buteyko Method can be quite useful.

    If you're experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or if you feel very stressed and your mind can't stop racing, try the following breathing technique. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you enter a more relaxed state:

    1. Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
    2. Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
    3. Breathe normally for 10 seconds
    4. Repeat the sequence

    Breathe Well, Sleep Well, Live Well

    I recently interviewed Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of "Breathe," in which she shares a breathing program she developed that can help improve your physical and mental health in a short amount of time. The full interview will be published on Sunday, April 23. I've included a condensed version of the interview above.

    Vranish accurately views breathing as a cornerstone of good health, noting that changing the way you breathe can improve your sleep and eating habits, lower inflammation, improve gastrointestinal (GI) function, increase longevity and reduce pain.

    There are two basic breathing styles: vertical and horizontal breathing. Most people breathe vertically. This type of breathing makes you feel a bit taller on the in-breath, as it raises your chest and shoulders, which actually triggers your sympathetic nervous system, essentially signaling your body that you're stressed out. As noted by Vranich, "If you're not already in a stressed-out state, it's going to make you more stressed."

    Correct breathing will cause your midsection to widen, while not raising your shoulders or puffing out the upper part of your chest. At first, you may find it difficult to take a proper breath, as your midsection may be too tight. An exercise that uses exaggerated motions to relearn proper breathing is as follows:

    • Begin by relaxing and unbracing your midsection.
    • Take a deep breath in and actually feel the middle of your body get wider.
    • Let your belly go.
    • Then, on the exhale, roll backward, tipping your hips underneath you while pressing your fingers gently into your belly, giving it a little squeeze.
    • Eventually, this will teach your body to use the diaphragm to breathe.

    She also points out that, oftentimes, feeling short of breath is due to insufficient exhalation leaving excess residual air in your lungs. Engaging your diaphragm and intercostals — the muscles that run between your ribs, allowing your chest wall to move — will allow you to take more complete in and out breaths. For more pointers on healthy breathing, please listen to the full interview this coming Sunday.

    3 Steps to Proper Breathing

    While taking big, deep breaths is commonly recommended by yoga teachers and others, this can actually be counterproductive. Ideally, you want your breathing to be very calm and light — so light that the hairs in your nose barely move.

    This type of breathing, which is part of the Buteyko school of thought, helps you to enter and remain in a calm, meditative state while lowering your blood pressure and reducing nasal congestion for easier breathing. The following three steps will help your breath become lighter with practice.

    1. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly. Your belly should move slightly in and out with each breath, and your midsection should get wider, while your chest should remain unmoving.
    2. Close your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose. Focus your attention on the cold air coming into your nose and the slightly warmer air leaving it on the out breath.
    3. Slowly decrease the volume of each breath, to the point it feels like you're almost not breathing at all (you'll notice your breath getting very quiet at this point). The crucial thing here is to develop a slight air hunger. This simply means there's a slight accumulation of carbon dioxide in your blood, which signals your brain to breathe.

    You may feel a slight air shortage at first, but this should be tolerable. If it becomes uncomfortable, take a 15-second break and then continue. After three or four minutes of air hunger, you'll start experiencing the beneficial effects of CO2 accumulation, such as an increase in body temperature and an increase in saliva. The former is a sign of improved blood circulation; the latter a sign that your parasympathetic nervous system has been activated, which is important for stress reduction.





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  • Drug Overdoses Are the 9th Leading Cause of Death in the US
    published on April 18th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    According to the U.S. surgeon general, more Americans now use prescription opioids than smoke cigarettes.1 This makes sense when you consider prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009,2,3 and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide.4

    In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.5 A result of this over-prescription trend is skyrocketing deaths from overdoses.6,7

    The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, specifically, include8 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

    As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently."9

    There are safe options to treat pain, but education — both among doctors and patients — is sorely lacking. This is why I frequently write about this issue, and hope you'll do your part in spreading the word.

    Far too many people in the prime of their life are losing it to painkiller addiction, and often they simply had no idea a prescription painkiller for a temporary injury or pain would send them into the throes of drug addiction.

    Drug Overdoses Now 9th Leading Cause of Death in the US

    In 2014, prescription drug overdoses, a majority of which involved some type of opioid, killed more Americans than car crashes (49,714 compared to 32,675).10 This held true for 2015 as well, despite 2015 being hailed as the deadliest driving year since 2008.

    In all, 38,300 Americans died in car crashes in 201511 — a sharp rise thought to be related to a combination of cheaper gas prices and hence increased travel, and using smartphones while driving.12 A rise in overdoses also suddenly placed drug overdoses in the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.

    In 2015, 52,404 Americans died from drug overdoses; 33,091 of them involved an opioid and nearly one-third of them, 15,281, were by prescription.13,14,15 Meanwhile, kidney disease, listed as the 9th leading cause of death on the CDC's top 10 list, killed 48,146.16

    The CDC does not include drug overdoses on this list, but if you did, drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids), would replace kidney disease as the 9th leading cause of death as of 2015, inching its way toward the 8th slot, currently occupied by respiratory complications such as pneumonia, which took 55,227 lives in 2015.

    Why Are Pregnant Women Prescribed Narcotics?

    A statistic that shows just how overprescribed and misused opioid drugs are is the prescription rate for pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

    Despite carrying risks of pregnancy-related problems and birth defects, shockingly, nearly one-third of American women of childbearing age are prescribed opioid painkillers17 and more than 14 percent of pregnant women were prescribed opioids during their pregnancy.18

    Reasons for prescribing these extremely dangerous drugs include back and/or abdominal pain, migraine, joint pains and fibromyalgia. Clearly, if you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant, you should go to great lengths to avoid narcotic drugs. If you wouldn't consider taking heroin, you shouldn't take a narcotic pain reliever.

    Yet, in 2015, 27 million Americans either used illegal drugs and/or misused prescription drugs, and addiction to opioids and heroin now costs the U.S. more than $193 billion each year.

    Please, take care to avoid becoming part of this devastating trend. Studies show addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Worse, 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription.19

    According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for both men and women dropped between 2014 and 2015, for the first time in two decades, and overdose deaths appear to be a significant contributor.20,21,22

    Drug Industry Is Responsible for Mass Addiction

    Many believe the drug companies that create and sell these drugs need to be held accountable for America's rapidly escalating drug problem, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs.

    As noted by the Organic Consumers Association,23 the drug industry has "fostered the opioid addiction epidemic" by:

    Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which prior to reformulation in 2010 could be snorted or shot. Many addicts claimed the high from OxyContin was better than heroin.

    From a chemical standpoint, OxyContin is nearly identical to heroin, and has been identified as a major gateway drug to heroin.

    Changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for lower back pain and other pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.

    Promoting long-term use of opioids, even though there's no evidence that using these drugs long-term is safe and effective.

    Downplaying and misinforming doctors and patients about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. OxyContin, for example, became a blockbuster drug mainly through misleading claims that Purdue Pharma knew were false from the start.

    The basic promise was that it provided pain relief for a full 12 hours, twice as long as generic drugs, giving patients "smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night."

    However, for many the effects don't last anywhere near 12 hours, and once the drug wears off, painful withdrawal symptoms set in, including body aches, nausea and anxiety. These symptoms, in addition to the return of the original pain, quickly begin to feed the cycle of addiction.24

    Drug Enforcement Administration Struggles to Hold Drug Makers Accountable for Black Market Sales

    Evidence has repeatedly shown opioid makers have acted with callous disregard for human life, yet they keep getting off the hook with little more than a slap on the wrist. The Washington Post recently published an article detailing the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) failure to bring an opioid maker to justice.25

    In 2011, the DEA began investigating Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest manufacturers of oxycodone in the U.S. This was the first time the DEA targeted a drug manufacturer for violating laws designed to prevent black market sales of legal narcotics.

    To date, it's also the largest prescription drug case the DEA has ever pursued. Federal prosecutors accused Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of ignoring "its responsibility to report suspicious orders as 500 million of its pills ended up in Florida between 2008 and 2012."

    In all, 66 percent of all oxycodone sold in Florida between those years was shipped to suspected "pill mills" selling prescription drugs to addicts.

    In 2010 alone, one distributor, Cincinnati-based KeySource Medical, shipped 41 million oxycodone tablets made by Mallinckrodt to Florida. That's enough pills to give every man, woman and child in the state 2.5 pills each. Cardinal Health, one of the largest drug distributors in the U.S., was also sending extremely large amounts of Mallinckrodt-made oxycodone pills to Florida.

    One Delray Beach doctor named Barry Schultz received 92,400 oxycodone pills from Sunrise Wholesale in just 11 months. He once prescribed 1,000 pills to a single patient, all in one day — a clearly suspect prescription by any reasonable standard.

    At the time these enormous shipments were made, the street value of one "oxy" pill was $30. Schultz was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2016 after being charged with drug trafficking and one case of manslaughter, following the overdose death of one of his patients. As noted in the featured article:26

    "'Mallinckrodt knew through law enforcement reports that Barry Schultz was diverting controlled substances, and that the diverted oxycodone was supplied by Mallinckrodt through Sunrise,' prosecutors later wrote in an internal document sent to the company. 'When Mallinckrodt continued to distribute oxycodone to Sunrise for such purposes, and continued to pay incentives in the form of chargebacks for the product sales to Barry Schultz, Mallinckrodt was diverting oxycodone.'"

    A pharmacy in Sanford, Florida, also stood in receipt of suspicious amounts of pills. Over the course of four years, it received 5.8 million oxycodone pills — nearly 20 times more than the state average for pharmacies.

    By law, drug manufacturers must notify the DEA when suspicious orders such as these occur. Mallinckrodt stood accused of 44,000 federal violations, totaling $2.3 billion in fines. In all, federal prosecutors claimed 222,107 Florida orders were "excessive" and should have been reported to the DEA as suspicious.

    Oxycodone Maker Gets Off Scot-Free — Again

    Yet, despite a massive five-state investigation spanning several years, the U.S. government has taken no legal action against Mallinckrodt, and likely never will. "Instead, the company has reached a tentative settlement with federal prosecutors," The Washington Post writes, adding:

    "Under the proposal, which remains confidential, Mallinckrodt would agree to pay a $35 million fine and admit no wrongdoing … The case shows how difficult it is for the government to hold a drug manufacturer responsible for the damage done by its product. DEA investigators appalled by rising overdose deaths said they worked for years to build the biggest case of their careers only to watch it falter on uncertain legal territory and in the face of stiff resistance from the company.

    'They just weren't taking this seriously, and people were dying,' said a former law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is pending … 'It wasn't their kids, their wives, their husbands, their brothers. It was some hillbilly in Central Florida, so who cares?'"

    A $35 million fine is a drop in the bucket for a company that boasts $3.4 billion in annual revenue, with a net profit of $489 million,27,28 and will do absolutely nothing to deter it or other drug companies from continuing business as usual. As noted by The Washington Post:

    "Drug manufacturers have paid much larger fines for other misdeeds. Glaxo­SmithKline was fined $3 billion, and Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion for illegally promoting off-label drug use and paying kickbacks to doctors. Purdue Pharma paid a $600 million fine, and three of its executives pleaded guilty to charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the risks of the painkiller that is widely blamed for setting off the nation's opioid crisis: OxyContin.

    All of those cases were initiated by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. The largest fine the DEA has levied against a drug distributor was the $150 million that McKesson, the nation's largest drug wholesaler, recently agreed to pay following allegations that it failed to report suspicious orders of painkillers. For a company the size of Mallinckrodt, a $35 million fine is 'chump change,' one government official said."

    Drug Industry Ensures Leniency by Hiring DEA and DOJ Agents

    Last year, seven U.S. senators demanded to find out why there has been such a sharp decline in enforcement actions by the DEA against wholesalers suspected of distributing prescription narcotics to the black market.29

    According to The Washington Post, DEA lawyers began delaying and blocking enforcement efforts by DEA agents against opioid distributors in 2013, suddenly insisting on increasingly higher standards of proof before moving cases forward. This included proof of intent — a factor that is very difficult to prove and typically only required in criminal cases.

    In 2011, the DEA took 131 actions against distributors. By 2014, that number had dropped to 40. In that same time frame, the number of "immediate suspension orders" dropped from 65 to nine. (The suspension order allows the agency to freeze shipments of narcotics, effective immediately.) The question is why. I've written about the dangers of the revolving door policy that allows regulators to be hired by industry and vice versa on numerous occasions.

    In this case, former DEA and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials hired by the drug industry fought for lenience and a "soft approach" to the burgeoning drug addiction problem.30 They succeeded, thereby allowing the problem to grow more or less unrestrained, despite official promises to the contrary. Many DEA officials did in fact suspect Clifford Lee Reeves II, the lawyer in charge of approving their cases, of secretly working for the drug industry.

    New FDA Chief Unlikely to Take Hard Line Against Opioids

    Unfortunately, President Trump's nominee for head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is also in the opioid industry's pocket, having received nearly $45,000 in speaker's fees from opioid manufacturers and distributors.31 During his confirmation hearing, Gottlieb stated he believes the U.S. opioid crisis is a "public health emergency on the order of Ebola and Zika" that requires dramatic action, and promised that developing a strategy to curb the opioid epidemic would be his "highest and most immediate priority."32

    The question is whether or not he'll actually follow through. Gottlieb's drug industry ties are so significant, he's agreed to recuse himself for one year from decisions involving more than 20 different drug companies with whom he has decades' long financial connections.

    As noted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University:33 "Our country is in desperate need of an FDA commissioner who will take on the opioid lobby, not one who has a track record of working for it." Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) also criticized Trump's choice for the FDA saying,34 "Gottlieb's record indicates that he would not take the epidemic and the FDA's authority to rein in prescription painkillers and other drugs seriously."

    Prescription Painkillers Are Gateway Drugs to Heroin and Other Deadly Highs

    Oxycontin and other opioid pain killers have been identified as the primary gateway drugs to heroin.35 Chemically, these drugs are very similar and provide a similar kind of high. According to a 2013 U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin have previously used prescription painkillers.36 Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in your brain, thereby blocking pain signals.

    This also has the effect of creating a sensation of pleasure or euphoria — and addiction. Over time they can also result in increased pain perception, setting into motion a cycle where you need increasingly larger doses, making a lethal overdose more likely.

    Oxycontin's high rate of addiction is the result of a short half-life (the amount of time the drug stays in your system before you are left wanting more). Opioids are also very potent immune suppressors. As such they can wreck your health in serious ways, leaving you far worse off than where you started.

    Many users are also turning to much stronger types of opioids, such as fentanyl, which is seeing the fastest rate of growth in use. Deadly overdoses involving fentanyl rose by 50 percent between 2013 and 2014, and another 72 percent between 2014 and 2015. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 percent more potent than morphine.

    Besides a more potent high, price is another factor driving its popularity. Since it can be created in a lab, it's far cheaper than heroin, which in turn is cheaper than prescription opioids.

    A recent NPR story37 reveals the tremendous impact fentanyl is having on many people's lives. Allyson, a 37-year old client at the AAC Needle Exchange and Overdose Prevention Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says she's lost 30 friends to these deadly painkillers. "Basically, my entire generation is gone in one year," she said.

    Are You or Someone You Love Addicted to Painkillers?

    Some of the marketing material for opioids claims the drug will not cause addiction "except in very rare cases," describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a "benign state" and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn't true. Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

    It's important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you've been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you're likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

    With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a long list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous articles, "Treating Pain Without Drugs," and "New Treatment Guidelines for Back Pain Stress Non-Drug Interventions."





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  • Light at Night Damages Your Health and Potentially Future Generations
    published on April 18th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    There is a significant cost to your health from light pollution resulting from living in a 24/7 society. A growing number of street lights and lit signs obscure the night sky, and your bedroom is likely dimly lit from street lamps, digital equipment or alarm clocks.

    It’s not possible to “feel” the changes in your brain and body from outdoor street light that seeps in around your bedroom curtains or the dim glow from your alarm clock.

    Yet, even a dim light at night affects your natural sleep cycle and produces biological changes which, in turn, may affect your risk for health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and depression.

    I have been a long-time advocate of sleeping in complete darkness. Even a small amount of light is enough to make a difference in your health. And now, recent research demonstrates your exposure to light pollution may affect the health of your children.

    Light Exposure at Night May Alter Immunity of Future Generations

    In a study at Ohio State University, researchers concluded exposure to light at night may produce immune and endocrine disruptions.1 To isolate the effect light has on sleep quality and not on interruption of sleep, they used naturally nocturnal hamsters that normally sleep during daylight hours.

    The hamsters were separated into two groups; for nine weeks one group was exposed to dim light all night while the other was exposed to standard light days and dark nights. Following this the hamsters were allowed to mate and then all were returned to standard lighting conditions.

    Initially, the researchers noted an increase in body mass of both male and female hamsters exposed to dim light at night.2 The next generation was also raised under standard lighting conditions. The researchers ran a series of tests on the hamster pups once they achieved adulthood.3

    They found parental history of light exposure prior to conception left the following generation of hamsters with an impaired immune response and decreased endocrine activity.

    These health conditions were passed down through either parent’s genetic material, meaning it didn’t matter whether it was the mother or father that was exposed to dim light at night; the effect could be traced to either parent.

    The impaired adaptive immune function noted in the hamster offspring illustrates a transgenerational effect of light at night.

    While the exposure did not change the DNA sequence of the hamsters, it did affect the epigenetic expression of that DNA. Epigenetics describes changes to genetic expression not occurring from an actual sequence change in DNA, but rather how the genes are expressed.

    For instance, exposure to environmental factors such as nicotine or alcohol may trigger sections of DNA to be switched on or off.

    These changes in genetic expression can be passed to offspring while still maintaining the exact genetic sequencing. In this study, light exposure at night changed the epigenetics of the hamster offspring, negatively affecting their immune system.

    Light Pollution Also Affects Your General Health

    Senior author Randy Nelson, Ph.D., professor and chair of neuroscience at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center commented on the significance of the results:4

    “Now, we’re seeing for the first time in these hamsters that it’s possible this damage isn’t just being done to the affected individuals, but to their offspring as well. These weren’t problems that developed in utero. They came from the sperm and the egg.

    It’s much more common to see epigenetic effects from the mothers, but we saw changes passed on from the fathers as well.

    I think people are beginning to accept that light pollution is serious pollution and it has health consequences that are pretty pronounced — an increase in cancers, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and anxiety disorders.

    We should be concerned about the increasing exposures to light at night from our tablets and phones and TVs.”

    Exposure to light at night, even when awake doing shift work or dim light exposure when sleeping, may be associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal ailments and mood disorders, regardless of the type of illumination.5

    In both the recent study and others,6 animals exposed to light during night hours had greater weight gain. In some mice, up to 50 percent more weight was gained over eight weeks, despite identical activity levels and available food.

    Other studies show that rates of cancers dependent on hormones, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer, increase with exposure to light at night.7

    The suppression of melatonin, a sleep regulating hormone, by blue light emitted from electronic media and other lighting, is linked with reduced sleep quality and interrupted sleep.8 Poor sleep quality increases your risk of depression and may impact your reproductive health as well.9

    Mitochondrial Damage Is at the Center of Poor Health

    Mitochondrial function plays an important role in many of the diseases and changes associated with aging, and melatonin plays a unique part in stabilizing the function of molecular mechanisms and biogenesis of your mitochondria.10 Melatonin acts as an antioxidant and regulator of mitochondrial functions.11

    It is selectively used by mitochondrial membranes, a function not exhibited by other antioxidants. The hormone effectively prevents oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction.

    As exposure to light, and specifically blue light, severely impacts your melatonin production, it also has a substantial effect on your overall health.

    Your mitochondria are tiny powerhouses inside the cells of your body. They are the primary source of energy for your cells, and thus your body. Since mitochondrial function is at the heart of everything that happens in your body, optimizing it is extremely important for good health and disease prevention.

    For example, one of the universal characteristics of cancer is serious mitochondrial dysfunction with radically decreased numbers of functional mitochondria.

    A disruption of your circadian rhythm, and therefore your secretion of melatonin and subsequent effect on mitochondria, has been associated with aberrant cell proliferation and cancer.12

    Mitochondrial dysfunction also plays a central role in insulin resistance, the hallmark symptom of diabetes.13,14 Glucose and lipid metabolism are principally dependent on mitochondria to generate energy. Insulin resistance from mitochondrial dysfunction may contribute to subsequent increases in heart disease.

    Cell death and survival are critical to neurodegeneration, and mitochondrial function is an important determinant of both.15

    The relationship between melatonin and mitochondrial function has led to the emergence of melatonin as a potential therapeutic tool for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.16

    How Much Light Is Too Much?

    Your body requires exposure to bright daylight, especially in the early morning, to produce healthy amounts of melatonin each night. While melatonin helps regulate sleep and protects your mitochondria, that isn’t all it does.

    It is also a free radical scavenger that helps support your immune system and thymus gland, and helps you feel good in the morning. It also may protect your brain against aging. Your body secretes all the melatonin it needs based on natural circadian rhythms that are largely reliant on light.

    Getting sunlight in the morning is one way to help reset your circadian clock daily. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight sends a strong message that it’s time to rise and shine. In this way, your body is less likely to be confused by weaker light signals later in the day.

    My rule of thumb is, if there is enough light in your bedroom at night to see your hand in front of your face, then there is too much light. Your body requires light during the day to produce healthy amounts of melatonin, but at night light inhibits production. So, it’s difficult to get too much light during the day and easy to get too much at night.

    The problem of light pollution has become so pervasive that the American Medical Association (AMA) has issued statements warning against light at night. In 2012, during their annual meeting, the AMA voted on a policy recognizing that exposure to light at night can disrupt sleep and LED street lamps could create dangerous driving conditions.17

    In 2016, the AMA again voted on guiding principles for the selection of public lighting options.18 The policy statement specifically addressed the new “white light” LED street lamps being erected around the U.S. to save energy, and the vote was unanimous.19

    The concern is prompted by the color spectrum used in the LED street lights. The AMA recommends a color temperature no greater than 3000 Kelvin (k). The color temperature of the LED lighting currently being installed ranges between 4000 k and 5000 k, containing high levels of short-wavelength blue light in the spectrum.

    Color of Your Light Matters

    As detailed in my interview with Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology, lighting is an important health consideration. Natural sunlight simply cannot be beat, but unless you spend a majority of your time outside, you'll need to give some serious consideration to the kind of artificial lighting you use at home and at work.

    Not all artificial light is created equally. The LED lights installed in major cities are harsh, triggering complaints from local residents. Blue lighting from LED lights reduces contrast at night and therefore reduces visibility. While this limits everyone’s ability to see potential danger, it is especially difficult for people over 50 to see well in this lighting.20 According to the AMA statement:21

    “Unshielded LED lighting causes significant discomfort from glare. Discomfort and disability glare can decrease visual acuity, decreasing safety and creating a road hazard. Various testing measures have been devised to determine and quantify the level of glare and vision impairment by poorly designed LED lighting.”

    Electric lighting is not inherently dangerous to humans or animals. However, it is important to balance safety at night against long term health. Light pollution has an effect on plants and animals, including preventing some trees from recognizing seasonal variations, and affecting the breeding cycles and foraging of wildlife.22 According to the AMA statement in 2016:23

    "Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting. The new AMA guidance encourages proper attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting to LED lighting that minimize detrimental health and environmental effects."

    Additionally, the AMA estimates that LED street lights have a five times greater impact on natural sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps they are replacing.24 Recent surveys have found these brighter residential blue wavelength street lights are associated with excessive sleepiness during the day, impaired daytime functioning, obesity and dissatisfaction with sleep quality.

    These effects may be improved when cities begin using LED lighting options operating at 3000 k or less, often called warm white lights. These lights help balance the need for safety, reduced financial cost and smaller carbon footprint against your long-term health and the health of plants and animals exposed to external lighting.

    Use REVERSE Sunglasses After the Sun Sets

    In addition to eliminating all light exposure when you go to bed, it is also really important to filter light after sunset. The only light source our ancient ancestors had at night was from fire, which has virtually no blue or green light. Exposure to these light frequencies after the sun sets virtually assures that you will lower your melatonin and melanopsin levels. It also increases your risk of blindness from macular degeneration.

    So, head on over to Amazon25 and pick up a pair of reverse sunglasses to protect your vision after dark. The glasses are only $9 and they are far superior to traditional blue-blockers as they also filter out the yellow and green that can impair retinal health. They are my absolute new favorite now, and I only use the amber blue-blockers during the day when I need to lecture in a dark hall illuminated by artificial light.

    Also Beware of Electromagnetic Frequency Emitted From Electronic Light Sources

    While wearing a sleep mask may help reduce the amount of light seeping through your eyelids, it is also important to address the electromagnetic field (EMF) emitted from electronic devices that is at least as dangerous as the light. Although blue light at night reduces your melatonin secretion, and therefore antioxidant protection for your mitochondrial function, EMF from electronic devices also damages mitochondria by producing oxidative damage.

    Thus, your computer, cell phone and other electronic devices may be doing double duty health damage. One major concern of exposure to EMF has been the development of cancer.26 Scientists have long believed that cancer is initiated by damage to a cell’s genetic structure, but the initial damage can actually be traced to mitochondrial damage.

    DNA damage triggered by EMF also leads to changes in cell function and cell death. EMF sources in your home, such as WiFi routers, cell phones and microwave ovens, may increase your risk of cancer.27,28,29 In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as a 2B carcinogen, or possibly carcinogenic to humans.30

    It is REALLY important that you turn off your Wi-Fi every night before you go to bed to minimize your exposure. In future articles I will discuss how you can use a Faraday cage to really improve protection from these sources.

    EMF also has a detrimental effect on the health of your brain, altering function and potentially fueling dementia. Even though measured EMF from cell phones is considered low, studies have demonstrated it can alter your brain function and activity.31 EMF from cell phones and Wi-Fi is also linked to changes in brain neurons that affect memory and the ability to learn.32

    Interestingly, EMF from cell phones may also reduce the number of antioxidants available in your saliva, one of the first lines of defense your body has against microbial infections.33 Talking on a cell phone for up to one hour may reduce your salivary antioxidant levels by 25 percent. The proximity of your parotid salivary glands to where your cell phone is held during a conversation increases exposure to EMF.

    EMF Found Where You May Not Expect It and How to Guard Your Health

    Protecting yourself from EMF radiation begins by knowing what devices are emitting EMF and then developing alternatives to reduce exposure. This is not an exclusive list, but while you may have expected to see some of the devices on the list, others may come as a surprise.

    Cellphones

    Cordless phones

    Bluetooth headsets

    Refrigerators

    Radios

    Televisions

    Wi-Fi modems and routers

    TV remote controls

    Microwave ovens

    Alarm clocks

    Lamps

    Outlets

    Powerlines and cell phone towers

    Smart meters (transmitting your utility usage wirelessly to your utility company)

    Computers including laptops, e-readers and tablets

    The importance of the health of your mitochondria cannot be overstressed. Read about how you can protect your mitochondrial health in several of my previous articles:

    One of the strategies I’ve recently started having great success with is a modified Faraday cage over my bed. You may easily incorporate shielding material at home using different types of EMF conductive fabric for different applications, such as bedding, curtains or canopies.

    Remember, as you spend at least seven or eight hours each day in your bedroom, it is an important place to start reducing EMF exposure. If building your own bed canopy with proper conductive material is not something you want to attempt, you can purchase a bed canopy kit fitting twin to king size beds.





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  • Diabetes Taking a Higher Toll on Life Than Suspected
    published on April 18th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    In a time when information travels at the speed of the internet, there continues to be a staggering amount of misinformation shared about type 2 diabetes. The distortion of the truth contributes to the growing epidemic across the world, with estimates that 422 million have been diagnosed with diabetes.1

    Just as overwhelming are the numbers of people who suffer from prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

    An estimated 38 percent of Americans have prediabetes2 and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of them don't know they have it.

    Unfortunately, even your own physician may share outdated information with you that won't help to stabilize or reverse the condition. Despite the growing prevalence of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), the fact is that type 2 diabetes is completely preventable with a few simple, inexpensive lifestyle adjustments.

    Impaired insulin and leptin sensitivity are two of the underlying triggers for hyperglycemia and the diagnosis of diabetes.

    The rapidly rising number of people affected demonstrates the cause is not due to genetics, but is rather prompted by changes to national nutrition guidelines initiated by the now-refuted Seven Countries Study.

    Published in the 1950s by economist Ancel Keys, Ph.D., the study sparked a rather large increase in the quantity of carbohydrates recommended and a severe reduction in healthy fats.3 This triggers cellular resistance to the hormones insulin, ghrelin and leptin, and is the real foundation of high blood sugar.

    Diabetes Now the No. 1 Cause of Death in Mexico

    Today, diabetes is the leading cause of death in Mexico, followed closely by ischemic heart disease, a common consequence triggered by hyperglycemia.4 Diabetes accounted for 14.7 percent of all deaths in the country.

    According to early 2000 estimates, the total number of diabetics in Latin American countries will exceed the combined number in the U.S., Canada and Europe by 2025.5 The financial cost from disability and treatment in Latin America reached over $65 million in the early 2000s.6

    Rising rates of obesity in the last 40 years in Mexico has fueled the growing diabetes epidemic.7 The percentage of Mexico's population that is overweight and obese has grown from less than 40 percent in 1975 to over 64 percent in 2014, just under the U.S. rate of 67 percent, but far past the global rate of 38 percent. 

    Increasing weight gain is also related to soda consumption. In 2012, Mexico was the world's leading per capita consumer, drinking approximately 176 liters (46.5 gallons) per person, per year.8 By 2016, after a 2014 sugar tax was imposed, per capita consumption fell slightly to 163 liters (36 gallons) per person, per year.9

    Drinking Coke has become such a cultural decision that, according to Dr. Salvador Villalpando, childhood obesity specialist at the Federico Gomez Children's Hospital in Mexico City:

    "About 10 percent of kids are being fed soda from zero to [6] months of age. By the time they reach [2] it's about 80 percent. It's cultural.

    Mexican mums like having chubby kids in their homes as it shows they're feeding them properly. And they are so used to feeding them sodas, they don't stop even when there is clean water."

    Costly Supplies Limit Care

    People with diabetes in Mexico struggle not just with the disease and dietary choices, but also accessing medical care and supplies. Medication and supplies may cost as much as monthly housing in Mexico.10

    Dr. Carlos Aguilar Salinas, vice head of the endocrine department at Mexico's National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, said:11

    "In the middle of the 1970s and especially after the '80s, the prevalence of diabetes exploded. Diabetes is now one of the biggest problems in the health system in Mexico. It's the first cause of death. It's the first cause of disability. It's the first cause of early retirement. It's the main cost for the health system."

    In 2015 there were over 11 million people diagnosed with diabetes,12 in a country with a total population of 127 million. The sheer number of people requiring care and follow up is straining the public health care system and reducing access to medical care.

    The system pays for severe complications of the disease, but the daily management of the condition is left largely to the patients. Unfortunately, this has left people open to influence by swindlers promising a cure in a bottle or shot, costing thousands of pesos on products that are useless and may be toxic.13

    Diabetes Kills More Americans Than Previously Believed

    The number of people with diabetes in the U.S. is also growing, and recent research demonstrates more people may be dying from the condition than was originally believed.

    According to The Obesity Society, type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly 90 percent of all diagnosis of diabetes,14 and obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The CDC ranks diabetes as the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.15

    However, analysis of death certificate information and follow up indicates a greater number of deaths should be attributed to diabetes. For the study, researchers analyzed data for participants who had previously participated in the National Health and Nutrition Survey and the National Health Interview Survey.

    Participants who subsequently died during the study were evaluated based on self-reporting for diabetes. The researchers then searched the death certificates for cause of death.

    Based on the survey data, over 11 percent had died from complications of diabetes, but less than 4 percent had diabetes complications mentioned on their death certificates.16 The researchers found:17

    "The proportion of deaths in which diabetes was assigned as the underlying cause of death (3.3 to 3.7 percent) severely understated the contribution of diabetes to mortality in the United States.

    Diabetes may represent a more prominent factor in American mortality than is commonly appreciated, reinforcing the need for robust population-level interventions aimed at diabetes prevention and care."

    Cost of Treating Diabetes Is Higher Than Other Diseases

    The financial cost of treating diabetes extends to traditional medical care, indirect costs, disability and cost of treating complications. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in 2013 diabetes health care costs were over $101 billion and topped the list of the costliest health care expenses.18

    Researchers traced costs related to 155 disease for 18 years.19 They found only 20 of those diseases were responsible for over half of all medical costs in the U.S. In terms of total dollars spent, diabetes was the most expensive.

    However, in their list of top 10 costly health care diagnoses, four others were health conditions commonly associated with a diagnosis of diabetes.

    Ischemic heart disease ranked second on the list, costing over $88 billion. Other health problems associated with diabetes include vision and hearing problems, hypertension and depression.20 Indirect disability costs may also be related to nerve dysfunction, kidney disease, vision loss and Alzheimer's disease.21

    Until now, the link between hyperglycemia and the increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease, a progressive form of dementia, has not been clear. In a recent study, researchers discovered hyperglycemia damages immune function, impairing response in early Alzheimer's disease.22

    The study, published in Scientific Reports, found hyperglycemia modified macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF or MMIF) in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

    This may suggest sugar damage to MIF reduces some of the enzyme's functions and blocks others completely. This may be related to the process that allows Alzheimer's to develop.

    Studies are gradually unearthing the complex changes in the brain that occur with the development of Alzheimer's that may start as much as 10 years prior to clinical symptoms. During this pre-symptomatic period, toxic changes are setting the stage for development of disease.

    Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy Increases Risk of Diabetes in Children

    Doctors have long known that high blood sugar during pregnancy has a harmful effect on the growing baby. A recent small Danish study now suggests that when an infant is exposed to high blood sugar levels in utero it may trigger the production of altered fat cells, making the children more likely to develop metabolic disease in adulthood.23

    Researchers tested the adult children of 206 women who had diabetes during their pregnancy. The children had larger fat cells and secreted more leptin, a hormone made by fat cells that influences your feelings of hunger. Some of the women had diabetes prior to the pregnancy, while others developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. They compared the results against a control group of children whose mothers didn't have diabetes.24

    The results from this study offer some clues about how hyperglycemia during pregnancy may increase the risk of diabetes later in life. Lead author Ninna Hansen of the University of Copenhagen talked about the results, saying:25

    "Fetal hyperglycemia affects fat stem cells and these defects can be detected several years later. If (high blood sugar) or diabetes is present during pregnancy, our study supports the importance of aiming at normal blood glucose levels to reduce the negative impact on the cells of the unborn baby. Women who are lean and fit before pregnancy have a reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy."

    Hyperglycemia during pregnancy also increases the risk to children for other disabilities, including cognitive disability,26 birth defects27 and autism.28 Infants born to mothers who experienced hyperglycemia during pregnancy may also have an increased risk of experiencing health difficulties immediately following birth including respiratory distress, hypoglycemia, polycythemia and iron abnormalities.29

    Daily Screen Time May Predict Risk of Diabetes

    Past research has demonstrated an associated risk between spending more than three hours in front of a screen each day with type 2 diabetes in adults. However, a link between screen time and the risk of type 2 diabetes in children has been unclear.30 To probe this link, researchers surveyed nearly 4,500 children between ages 9 and 10 years.

    Several factors associated with the development of diabetes in children were measured, including total body fat, insulin resistance, blood pressure and physical activity.31

    Of those surveyed, 41 percent spent one hour or less in front of a screen daily, while 28 percent spent between one and two hours, and 18 percent spent three or more hours each day.32 The researchers found a strong correlation between three or more hours of screen time and high levels of leptin, fasting glucose and insulin resistance. They commented on the results, saying:33

    "Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls and in different ethnic groups from an early age. This is particularly relevant, given rising levels of type 2 diabetes, the early emergence of type 2 diabetes risk, and recent trends suggesting that screen time related activities are increasing in childhood and may pattern screen-related behaviors in later life."

    Mitochondrial Dysfunction Is at the Heart of Diabetes and Most Other Disease

    In this short TED talk, Dr. Sarah Hallberg discusses the success she has treating people with diabetes, reducing their blood sugar using dietary choices. At the core of the pathology behind diabetes is mitochondrial dysfunction and eating a high-carbohydrate diet that bathes your mitochondria in glucose, which in turn suppresses mitochondrial metabolism.34

    Your mitochondria are tiny energy producers inside most of your cells. They are the primary source of energy required to keep your body functioning optimally.

    As mitochondrial function is at the heart of your health, optimizing it is extremely important to health and disease prevention. Mitochondrial dysfunction may lead to cardiovascular disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, stroke and neurological dysfunction. In essence, at the core of many diseases are dysfunctional mitochondria, and the diseases are simply different labels for a foundational pathology at the cellular level.

    The good news is type 2 diabetes is easily preventable, and nearly 100 percent reversible. Four key lifestyle strategies to accomplish this are exercise (ideally including some high-intensity interval training once you're able), non-exercise movement throughout each day, Peak Fasting and a whole food-based ketogenic diet. I explain the details of how to implement this kind of diet in my new book, "Fat for Fuel."





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  • Antibiotics Increase Bowel Cancer Rates
    published on April 17th, 2017 at 07:37 AM

    By Dr. Mercola

    When you take antibiotics, there are both short- and long-term risks, the latter of which may not become evident until long after you've stopped taking the drugs (making it next to impossible to connect the two). One of their greatest risks is also their mechanism of action: wiping out the bacteria in your gut.

    When this occurs, the infection-causing bacteria should be eliminated, but so, too, are all of the other bacteria making up your microbiome.

    In 2014, researchers linked antibiotics use to a slightly increased risk (8 percent to 11 percent) of developing colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, possibly because of alterations to the gut microbiome.1

    Likewise, past research has also shown that people with less bacterial diversity in their gastrointestinal tracts are more likely to develop colon cancer.2

    The latest research further suggests altering your microbiome via antibiotics also reduces your resistance to bacteria that could increase the development of precancerous growths in your colon, known as polyps.

    Long-Term Antibiotics Use May Increase Colon Polyps

    Colon polyps are small masses of cells that can develop on the lining of your colon. While typically harmless, colon polyps can be precursors to colorectal cancer, which includes both cancers of the colon and rectum, and may lead to cancer development if left untreated.

    New research, published in the journal Gut, used data from more than 16,600 women aged 60 years and older, spanning 2004 to 2010. Women who had used antibiotics for two months or more were at an increased risk of developing colon polyps.3

    Specifically, those who used the drugs for a total of at least two months in their 20s and 30s had a 36 percent increased risk of polyps compared to those who did not.

    Among women who used the drugs long-term in their 40s and 50s, the risk of polyps increased by 70 percent.4 Even taking antibiotics for 15 days or more, at any age range, was associated with an increased risk of polyps. Medical News Today reported:

    "[W]hen women who had not taken antibiotics in their 20s to 50s were compared with individuals who had taken them for more than 15 days between the ages of 20 and 59, there was a 73 percent increased risk of adenoma diagnosis."5

    While the study only addressed prescription antibiotics, there's also a chance that consuming antibiotics via your food (such as CAFO meats) could also be involved.

    Research Accumulates Suggesting Antibiotics May Influence Colon Cancer Risk

    The researchers pointed out that not only do antibiotics "fundamentally alter the gut microbiome by curbing the diversity and number of bacteria, and reducing the resistance to hostile bugs," but bacteria that may require antibiotics treatment may also be inflammatory, another risk factor for colon cancer development.6

    Lead researcher Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told CBS News:7

    "This suggests that alterations in the naturally occurring bacteria that live in one's intestines caused by antibiotics might predispose individuals to colorectal cancer … More research needs to be done to understand the interaction between alterations in one's gut bacteria and future risk of colorectal cancer."

    As mentioned, this isn't the first time antibiotics have been implicated in colorectal cancer. In 2016, another study found increasing use of antibiotics was associated with an increasing risk of colorectal cancer, especially when used frequently.8

    As the study noted, "Microbiotical dysbiosis induced by a Western diet seems to be associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer," so why, too, wouldn't antibiotics usage, which also affects microbiota?

    What to Know Before Getting a Colonoscopy

    Health officials in the U.S. recommend anyone over the age of 50 at average risk of colorectal cancer be screened via colonoscopy every 10 years or by flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.

    The primary tools used to test for colon cancer are flexible sigmoidoscopes and colonoscopes. Neither of these expensive pieces of equipment are disposable. This means they must be thoroughly cleaned inside and out and sterilized before each use, and therein lies the problem.

    As discussed by David Lewis, Ph.D., a retired microbiologist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the video above, the disinfection process used does not properly sterilize these tools, posing a risk of illness.

    Earlier this year, another medical scope, a duodenoscope used in the treatment of cancer, gallstones and bile and pancreatic duct problems, was tied to at least 25 outbreaks with drug-resistant bacteria, which sickened 250 people.9

    This is particularly concerning, since the scope was recalled in 2016 after it was found a small mechanism on the scope could spread bacteria between patients.

    The company reportedly fixed the problem, and now Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is asking for proof that the scope can be properly disinfected between patients, as the company suggested.10

    Colonoscopy Prep May Also Contribute to Gut Imbalances

    The tools used in most colonoscopies cannot be autoclaved (heat sterilized), and testing reveals the disinfection techniques and agents used 80 percent of the time are grossly inadequate. As a result, the tools can spread all manner of infections from one patient to another.

    Considering multi drug-resistant bacterial infections are on the rise, this is a tremendous concern. The good news is you can protect yourself and dramatically reduce your risk of infection by asking the right questions before you schedule your appointment:

    How is the endoscope cleaned between patients?

    Specifically, which cleaning agent is used?

    If the hospital or clinic uses peracetic acid, your likelihood of contracting an infection from a previous patient is slim

    Glutaraldehyde, or the brand name Cidex (which is what 80 percent of clinics use), does NOT properly sterilize these tools. If glutaraldehyde is used, cancel your appointment and find a clinic that uses peracetic acid

    How many of your colonoscopy patients have had to be hospitalized due to infections?

    Another consideration is the prep for the procedure, which typically involves flushing out your intestinal tract with harsh laxatives. Like antibiotics, this, too, has the potential to lead to dysbiosis and other gut imbalances.11

    It's just one more fact to be aware of when weighing the benefits and risks of colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.

    Protecting Your Colon Health Starts With Protecting Your Gut Health

    The health of your gut affects that of your entire body, which is why protecting your colon health shares many of the same principles as protecting your gut health. For instance, according to one study, dried plums (i.e. prunes) may lower your risk of colon cancer by building your gut bacteria.12

    Adequate fiber is also important. For every 10 grams of fiber you add to your daily diet, your risk of colon cancer decreases by 10 percent.13 Vegetables are your best source of fiber. Psyllium seed husk, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds also provide valuable sources of soluble and insoluble fiber.

    Overall, I believe about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed daily is an ideal amount to aim for. Fermented foods are also gaining recognition as an important tool for both gut health and disease prevention, including colon cancer. For example, butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid created when microbes ferment dietary fiber in your gut, has been shown to induce programmed cell death of colon cancer cells.14

    In short, eating a high-vegetable, fiber- and fermented food-rich diet is key for preventing colon cancer, and the reason for this is directly related to the way it affects your gut microbiome. According to one study, "intestinal bacteria can act in concert with diet to reduce or increase the risk of certain types of colorectal cancer."15

    Avoid Antibiotic-Laden CAFO Meats and Processed Meats

    Both processed meats and red CAFO meats have been linked to colon cancer, and it's important to understand that many of these contain antibiotic residues as well as other compounds that may influence your cancer risk.

    Processed meats, such as bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs and some sausages, are those preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding chemical preservatives. The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.

    A 2007 analysis by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found that eating just one sausage a day may raise your risk of bowel cancer.16 Specifically, 1.8 ounces of processed meat daily — about one sausage or three pieces of bacon — was found to raise your likelihood of the cancer by 20 percent.

    Research also suggests that people who eat the most red meat (in one study this was five ounces a day) have a 24 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer than those who eat the least.17 Red meat is likely not the problem in and of itself, however; the way it's cooked, and the source it comes from, likely play a role. Grass fed beef, for instance, contains cancer-fighting compounds.

    When it comes to meats, I recommend eating organically raised grass fed meats only and cooking them only lightly (rare, not well-done). For the record, I believe most people need some animal protein to be optimally healthy, but most eat far more protein than is necessary (or healthy).

    What Else Can Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer?

    Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S., aside from skin cancers, as well as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, and the second in men.18 More than 95,500 cases of colon cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017, according to the American Cancer Society, so taking steps to prevent it is important.

    It's important to avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics, not only due to their potential link to colon cancer but also for a myriad of other reasons. Be mindful of choosing organic, antibiotic-free meats and dairy products as well. In terms of other methods to lower your colon cancer risk, there are many lifestyle-based changes you can make.

    1. Eat More Vegetables

    Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else — like magnesium. Results from one meta-analysis indicated that for every 100-milligram increase in magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal tumor decreased by 13 percent, while the risk of colorectal cancer was lowered by 12 percent.19

    Beyond magnesium, plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.

    2. Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels

    Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. In one study published in the journal Gut, people with higher blood levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop colorectal tumors.20 This may be because vitamin D is beneficial for your immune system, which in turn may help to limit the growth of cancerous tumors.

    3. Exercise

    There is convincing evidence that regular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer.21 One study revealed that physically active men and women have about a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer compared with inactive persons, for instance.22

    4. Limit Your Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking

    Both excessive alcohol intake and smoking are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. When it comes to alcohol, I generally define "moderate" alcohol intake (which is allowed in the beginner phase of my nutrition plan) as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor, with a meal, per day. As you progress further in the nutrition plan, I do recommend eliminating all forms of alcohol. If you're a smoker, you can find tips for quitting here.

    5. Maintain a Healthy Weight and Control Belly Fat

    A number of studies have linked obesity to an increased risk for about a dozen different cancers, including cancer of the colon. In a 2014 study that analyzed data from more than 5 million people over the age of 16, every 11-pound increase in body weight was associated with an increased risk for 10 types of cancer.23

    If you're overweight or obese, even small amounts of weight loss can lead to significant benefits for your health. In terms of cancer prevention, losing excess belly fat is particularly important, as belly fat is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer regardless of your body weight.





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