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Sepsis is a top cause of death in hospitals

 

 

Sepsis is a medical emergency that may become fatal or leave an individual with a significant disability. Data from the CDC1 show that every year at least 1.7 million adults in the U.S. develop sepsis and 1 of every 3 who die in the hospital has sepsis.

While these numbers are shocking, a review of the literature2 shows the incidence of sepsis has grown over the last three decades at a rate faster than population growth.

The percentage of severe sepsis cases has also increased from 25% in 1993 to 44% in 2003, indicating that not only is the incidence of sepsis rising, but also the number of severe cases.3 Sepsis develops as an overwhelming immune response to an infection.4

The Sepsis Alliance calls this one of the most common misconceptions about the condition, as sepsis is not an infection but rather the body's response to an infection.5 The second most common misconception is sepsis begins in the hospital. However, sepsis is more likely to start in the community from an infection caused by bacteria or a virus, parasite or fungus.

The immune response triggered by an infection may lead to leaky blood vessels, blood clots, poor blood flow, and in severe cases organ failure.6 When blood pressure drops in combination with a weakened heart it leads to septic shock.

The underlying trigger, an infection, often starts in the community. This may explain why it is often misdiagnosed in the beginning, which increases the potential risk for disability and death.7

Missed diagnosis leads to death and disability

A missed diagnosis may sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that 74.1% of all serious harms from mistaken diagnoses occurred due to a vascular event, infection or cancer.8

The findings came from an analysis of 11,592 claims of missed diagnosis from 55,377 cases. They were pulled from an extensive medical malpractice claims database. The researchers identified diseases accounting for the majority of morbidity and mortality using the Controlled Risk Insurance Company (CRICO)'s Comparative Benchmarking System, which represents 28.7% of all U.S. malpractice claims.9

They pulled data from events that happened between 2006 and 2015 and found that the average age of individuals who had a missed diagnosis was 49 years. More than half (51.7%) were female, including 53% who died. The most frequent conditions found in the categories were stroke, sepsis and lung cancer.

The financial cost of the severe cases was $1.8 billion in malpractice awards over 10 years.10 Data from malpractice cases showed that missed and delayed diagnoses that cause death or disability are most often associated with cancer, vascular issues and infections.11 Dr. David Newman-Toker, director of the Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, commented on the results:12

"We know that diagnostic errors happen across all areas of medicine. There are over 10 thousand diseases, each of which can manifest with a variety of symptoms, so it can be daunting to think about how to even begin tackling diagnostic problems.

Our findings suggest that the most serious harms can be attributed to a surprisingly small number of conditions. It still won't be an easy or quick fix, but that gives us both a place to start and real hope that the problem is fixable."

According to the press release, the researchers believe their data confirm13 "inaccurate or delayed diagnosis remains the most common, most catastrophic and most costly of medical errors." The authors noted it will take a systemwide effort, including research and quality improvement, to focus on interventions to reduce errors.14

Recognize the symptoms of sepsis

Sepsis affects both genders across all age groups and socioeconomic categories. If you have an infection that progresses to sepsis, this may increase your risk of death. Researchers have found the death rate of those with sepsis is 10% compared to the 1% of hospitalized patients who don't develop sepsis.15

In this study,16 researchers found most of the patients in two groups already had sepsis when they were admitted to the hospital; the Sepsis Alliance reports this is common.17 Those who had less severe symptoms when they showed up were in the majority of those who died. This may be related to a delay in diagnosis in those who present with less severe symptoms.

It's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis so you can see your doctor right away and ask about it. One of the reasons sepsis may be misdiagnosed is it often looks like something else. Many of the symptoms may be confused with a bad cold or the flu.

However, the symptoms tend to develop more quickly than you would expect. The Sepsis Alliance recommends using the acronym TIME to remember some of the more common symptoms:18

T — Temperature higher or lower than normal?

I — Have you now or recently had any signs of an infection?

M — Are there any changes in mental status? For example, do you feel confused or are you extra sleepy?

E — Are you experiencing any extreme pain or illness; do you have the feeling that you may die?

While sepsis may be triggered by a virus, parasite or fungus, most cases are triggered by bacteria, and your doctor may not be able to pinpoint the source of the infection.19 Sepsis often produces:20,21,22

A high fever with chills and shivering

Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)

Unusual level of sweating (diaphoresis)

Dizziness

Confusion or disorientation

Slurred speech

Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting

Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

Severe muscle pain

Low urine output

Cold and clammy skin

Skin rash

New York regulated care slightly reduces number of deaths

Your physicians and health care staff are humans, capable of making mistakes and misdiagnosis. After the study was published, Newman-Toker commented:23

"For many patients, misdiagnosis causes severe harm and expense, and in the worst cases, death. This study shows us where to focus to start making a difference for patients. It tells us that tackling diagnosis in these three specific disease areas could have a major impact on reducing misdiagnosis-related harms."

Researchers from the second study call for more standardization of treatment to reduce hospital mortality, writing:24

"Performance improvement efforts in the treatment of sepsis have primarily focused on standardizing care for the most severely ill patients, whereas interventions for treating other patients with sepsis are less well defined. Given their prevalence, improving standardized care for patients with less severe sepsis could drive future reductions in hospital mortality."

New York state was the first to begin a sepsis regulation program, mandating implementation of specific protocols if sepsis was suspected.25,26 Lead author Dr. Jeremy Kahn of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine commented on the idea of standardizing care:27

"Rarely in the U.S. do we force hospitals to implement specific clinical protocols. Typically, quality improvement is achieved through financial incentives and public reporting. For the first time, state officials are enshrining in regulations that hospitals must follow certain evidence-based protocols when it comes to sepsis. And our study finds that, at least in New York, it seemed to work."

After evaluation of more than 1 million sepsis admissions in 509 hospitals in New York and comparing those against four control states that were not using standardized sepsis regulations, the team found the number who died in hospital in New York was slightly lower.28

After accounting for confounding factors, New York state's death rate from sepsis was 3.2% lower than would have been expected, compared to results the control states experienced over the same years.

What you need to know before you go to the hospital

While any reduction in deaths from sepsis is a step in the right direction, the standardized care enacted in New York in 2013 included only lactate measurements and antibiotic and vasopressor treatments done within the first three and six hours of admission, including:29

Within the first three hours Within the first six hours

blood cultures before antibiotics

30 mL/kg fluid bolus for patients with hypotension or lactate>4 meq/L

lactate measurements

vasopressors for hypotension refractory to fluids

broad-spectrum antibiotics

re-measurement of lactate

This treatment protocol completely overlooks the rising number of antibiotic-resistant infections and the sepsis protocol developed by Dr. Paul Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia.30

Although Marik's protocol was published after New York enacted the standardized treatment protocol, it doesn't appear it will be integrated right away. Marik's protocol relies on the synergistic effect of hydrocortisone, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and thiamine (HAT) for the treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock.31

In his initial retrospective study of patients treated in his hospital, they found that those treated with the protocol suffered an 8.5% mortality rate as compared to 40.4% in the control group.32 The overall reduction in numbers of individuals who succumbed to sepsis is vastly different than those reported in the New York study where hospitals experienced a 3.2% overall reduction.33

Researchers evaluating the same protocol in patients presenting with septic shock after cardiac surgery found the combination reduced the need for vasopressors in adult surgical patients.34 A review of clinical studies found patients who were treated with the protocol demonstrated beneficial effects without safety concerns.35

In a follow-up paper,36 Marik recommended daily measurements of procalcitonin (PCT) as an essential component of the strategy. During the pilot study his team noted an 86% decrease in procalcitonin compared to a 34% decrease in controls. He believes with the HAT protocol, people were more likely to survive because of reduced inflammatory responses and fewer instances of organ failure.

He also found the decline in PCT37 was not found with single use of vitamin C. Marik reported treating more than 1,200 patients with the protocol and noted PCT decline was reproducible with just a few exceptions. If PCT baseline levels failed to fall by 50% in the first 24 hours they realized the wrong antibiotic was given or there was inadequate source control.

Marik wrote that this finding may improve patient outcomes by allowing for an early change in antibiotics or a more aggressive source control,38 or actions that are taken to control the infection.39

Partial protocol not effective

Administering one or two of the three factors in the protocol and expecting positive results is like giving half a dose of antibiotics and expecting it to work. It is important to note that Marik uses the protocol as an adjunct, or addition to, antibiotic therapy and not as the only treatment.40

The protocol was designed so that all three work together. However, some critics argue that the treatment has41 "yet to be proven safe and effective in randomized clinical trials," which they believe42 "exemplifies the phenomenon some called 'science by press release.'"

One such critic is Dr. Steven Simpson, chief medical officer at Sepsis Alliance.43 He points out the FDA has only approved one drug, Xigris, to treat sepsis that was passed largely on the basis of one phase-3 trial that stopped early when the researchers believed the results were positive.44

However, 10 years later the drug company pulled Xigris from the market as it failed to show any survival benefit in a placebo control trial involving 1,697 patients.45 Dr. H. Bryant Nguyen, director of the ICU at Loma Linda was involved in a retrospective study comparing the outcomes in patients who had and had not received the HAT protocol.46

The letter in JAMA reports this study showed no significant differences in the primary or secondary clinical outcomes, mortality or hospital length of stay. Nguyen commented to JAMA he was completely astonished some already considered HAT a standard of care despite what JAMA called a "dearth of evidence."47

With Nguyen's study, it is important to note that patients were included in the HAT experimental group if they received at least one dose of the protocol.48 In other words, the researchers were evaluating results based on patients who may have received just one dose. That is like evaluating the effectiveness of an antibiotic after having received one dose.

In another recent study,49 scientists evaluated how well vitamin C and thiamine work to help people with sepsis. They found it did not improve survival, and this is most likely because the protocol is based on administration of all three compounds.

Synergistic effect of hydrocortisone and vitamins C and B1

Despite critiques of low-cost, easily accessible treatments for sepsis, there is ample evidence the treatment is safe and effective.50,51,52,53,54,55

While each part of the protocol is safe on an individual basis, they must be administered together to work effectively. Marik explains56 the combination targets multiple areas of the body's response to an infection and helps restore the dysregulated immune response.

This then helps prevent organ failure and death. He goes on to discuss the excess production of reactive oxygen species underlies many of the damaging processes in sepsis.57 His team found the optimal dose of vitamin C was about 6 grams per day.

Corticosteroids help suppress the overactive immune responses in sepsis, but past studies Marik cited showed that while they have a biological effect when administered alone, the effect on patient outcomes is limited. The use of steroids is for the synergistic effect with vitamin C and thiamine.58

Thiamine deficiency has been found to be common among those suffering from sepsis,59,60,61 which leads to a reduction in activity of enzymes dependent on thiamine. This may trigger a sequence of metabolic events that compromises ATP production and energy. Marik finds:62

"Thiamine may act synergistically with glucocorticoids and vitamin C to limit mitochondrial oxidative injury and restore mitochondrial function and energy production. The anti-inflammatory properties of these agents likely restore the activity of the PDC, thereby improving ATP production. However, the interaction between thiamine and ascorbic acid is complex, and likely dependent on the clinical context and ascorbic acid dosing."

Currently, a large ongoing trial is underway to test this treatment protocol. Researchers are using a prospective, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled, randomized, adaptive sample size trial enrolling those with sepsis who have respiratory and/or circulatory compromise.63

Watch for post-sepsis syndrome

While some will recover fully from sepsis, for many the problems do not end at discharge from the hospital. Survivors may suffer physical, psychological and/or neurological consequences for the rest of their lives. The combination of symptoms is called post-sepsis syndrome and usually lasts between six and 18 months. Symptoms of post-sepsis syndrome may include:64,65

Lethargy (excessive tiredness)

Changes in peripheral sensation

Repeated infections at the original site or a new infection

Poor mobility

Muscle weakness

Shortness of breath

Chest pains

Swollen limbs

Joint and muscle pains

Insomnia

Hair loss

Dry flaking skin and nails

Taste changes

Poor appetite

Changes in vision

Difficulty swallowing

Reduced kidney function

Feeling cold

Excessive sweating

Depression

Flashbacks

Nightmares

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Poor concentration

Short-term memory loss

Mood swings

Clouded thinking

Anxiety

Sadness

Currently, there is no specific treatment for post-sepsis syndrome, but many get better over time. The U.K. Sepsis Trust66 recommends managing individual symptoms and supporting optimal health as you're recovering. They encourage survivors to talk with friends and family and not to suffer with their symptoms in silence, as this helps to get through the difficult time.

Not all medical professionals are aware of post-sepsis syndrome, so it may be helpful to talk about your symptoms and ask for a referral to someone who may help manage your mental, physical and emotional challenges. Some survivors find their immune system is not as effective as long as a year following their recovery, resulting in one infection after another, including coughs and colds.

 

Cholesterol does not cause heart disease

 

 

For the past six decades, the U.S. dietary advice has warned against eating cholesterol-rich foods, claiming dietary cholesterol promotes arterial plaque formation that leads to heart disease. We now have overwhelming evidence to the contrary, yet dogmatic thinking can be persistent, to say the least.

After decades’ worth of research failed to demonstrate a correlation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans1,2 finally addressed this scientific shortcoming, announcing “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

To this day, the evidence keeps mounting, showing there’s no link between the two. Similarly, the evidence supporting the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to lower your risk of heart disease is slim to none, and is likely little more than the manufactured work of statin makers — at least that’s the implied conclusion of a scientific review3 published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology in 2018.

Cholesterol myth kept alive by statin advocates?

The 2018 review4 identified significant flaws in three recent studies “published by statin advocates” attempting “to validate the current dogma.” The paper presents substantial evidence that total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are not an indication of heart disease risk, and that statin treatment is of “doubtful benefit” as a form of primary prevention for this reason. According to the authors:5

“According to the British-Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, a theory in the empirical sciences can never be proven, but it can be shown to be false. If it cannot be falsified, it is not a scientific hypothesis. In the following, we have followed Popper’s principle to see whether it is possible to falsify the cholesterol hypothesis.

We have also assessed whether the conclusions from three recent reviews by its supporters are based on an accurate and comprehensive review of the research on lipids and cardiovascular disease (CVD) …

Our search for falsifications of the cholesterol hypothesis confirms that it is unable to satisfy any of the Bradford Hill criteria for causality and that the conclusions of the authors of the three reviews are based on misleading statistics, exclusion of unsuccessful trials and by ignoring numerous contradictory observations.”

As reported by Reason.com:6

“A comprehensive new study on cholesterol, based on results from more than a million patients, could help upend decades of government advice about diet, nutrition, health, prevention, and medication …

The study … centers on statins, a class of drugs used to lower levels of LDL-C, the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol, in the human body. According to the study, statins are pointless for most people …

The study also reports that ‘heart attack patients were shown to have lower than normal cholesterol levels of LDL-C’ and that older people with higher levels of bad cholesterol tend to live longer than those with lower levels.

No evidence cholesterol influences heart disease risk

Indeed, the authors of the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology analysis point out that were high total cholesterol in fact a major cause of atherosclerosis, “there should be exposure-response in cholesterol-lowering drug trials.”7 In other words, patients whose total cholesterol is lowered the most should also see the greatest benefit. Alas, that’s not the case.

A review of 16 relevant cholesterol-lowering trials (studies in which exposure-response was actually calculated), showed this kind of exposure-response was not detected in 15 of them. What’s more, the researchers point out that the only study8 showing a positive exposure-response to lowered cholesterol used exercise-only as the treatment.

Patients with high total cholesterol should also be at increased risk of death from CVD, but the researchers found no evidence of this either, not-so-subtly pointing out that this is “an idea supported by fraudulent reviews of the literature.” They provide the following example of how research has been misrepresented:9

“The hypothesis that high TC [total cholesterol] causes CVD was introduced in the 1960s by the authors of the Framingham Heart Study. However, in their 30-year follow-up study published in 1987, the authors reported that ‘For each 1 mg/dl drop in TC per year, there was an eleven percent increase in coronary and total mortality’.

Three years later, the American Heart Association and the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published a joint summary concluding, ‘a one percent reduction in an individual’s TC results in an approximate two percent reduction in CHD risk’. The authors fraudulently referred to the Framingham publication to support this widely quoted false conclusion.”

Contradictory findings routinely ignored or misrepresented

To determine whether the three reviews under analysis had misrepresented previous findings, they scoured the three papers for quotations from 12 studies reporting results “discordant with the cholesterol hypothesis.” Only one of the three reviews had quoted articles correctly, and even then, only two of the dozen studies were quoted correctly.10

“About half of the contradictory articles were ignored. In the rest, statistically nonsignificant findings in favor of the cholesterol hypothesis were inflated, and unsupportive results were quoted as if they were supportive. Only one of the six randomized cholesterol-lowering trials with a negative outcome was cited and only in one of the reviews.”

The researchers also highlight a large meta-analysis that simply ignored “at least a dozen studies” in which no or inverse association was shown. Overall, the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology analysis found that “the association between total cholesterol and CVD is weak, absent or inverse in many studies.”

No link between LDL and heart disease either

The Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology paper11 also tears apart claims that high LDL causes atherosclerosis and/or CVD. Just as with total cholesterol, if high LDL was in fact responsible for atherosclerosis, then patients with high LDL would be diagnosed with atherosclerosis more frequently, yet they’re not, and those with the highest levels would have the greatest severity of atherosclerosis, yet they don’t.

The researchers cite studies showing “no association” between LDL and coronary calcification or degree of atherosclerosis. Ditto for LDL and CVD. In fact, a study looking at nearly 140,000 patients with acute myocardial infarction found them to have lower than normal LDL at the time of admission.

Even more telling, another study, which had originally reported similar findings, still went ahead and lowered the patients’ LDL even more. At follow-up three years later, they discovered that patients with an LDL level below 105 mg/dl (2 mmol/L) had double the mortality rate of those with higher LDL.12

Interestingly, the authors suggest this inverse relationship may be due to low LDL increasing your risk for infectious diseases and cancer, both of which are common killers.

They also review evidence showing older people with high LDL do not die prematurely — they actually live the longest, outliving both those with untreated low LDL and those on statin treatment. One such study13,14 — a meta-analysis of 19 studies — found 92% of individuals with high cholesterol lived longer.

Benefits of statin treatment are overblown

Lastly, the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology paper analyzes statin claims, showing how studies exaggerate benefits through a variety of different tactics. Again, in some cases, by simply excluding unsuccessful trials.

“Furthermore, the most important outcome — an increase of life expectancy — has never been mentioned in any cholesterol-lowering trial, but as calculated recently by Kristensen et al.,15 statin treatment does not prolong lifespan by more than an average of a few days,” the authors state.16

Indeed, the study they’re referring to, published in BMJ Open in 2015, which looked at 11 studies with a follow-up between two and 6.1 years, found “Death was postponed between -5 and 19 days in primary prevention trials and between -10 and 27 days in secondary prevention trials.” The median postponement of death in primary prevention trials was 3.2 days, and in secondary prevention trials 4.1 days!

Considering the well-documented health risks associated with statins, this is a mind-bending finding that really should upend the dogma. And yet, the dogma remains, and may even strengthen in coming days.

JAMA editorial calls for end to ‘fake news’ about statins

The cholesterol myth has been a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, as cholesterol-lowering statins — often prescribed as a primary prevention against heart attack and stroke — have become one of the most frequently used drugs on the market. In 2012-2013, 27.8% of American adults over the age of 40 reported using a statin, up from 17.9% a decade earlier.17,18 But that was six years ago, I suspect over a third of adults over the age of 40 are now using statins.

In addition to the BMJ Open study cited above, an evidence report19 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, published November 2016 in JAMA, found 250 people need to take a statin for one to six years to prevent a single death from any cause; 233 had to take a statin for two to six years to prevent a single cardiovascular death specifically. To prevent a single cardiovascular event in people younger than 70, 94 individuals would have to take a statin.

As noted in a 2015 report,20 “statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” The paper points out that by using a statistical tool known as relative risk reduction, the trivial benefits of statins appear greatly amplified.

Scientific findings such as these are the core reason why statins are given negative press. However, we may soon see a reversal in the news cycle, with negative statin articles being tagged as “fake news.”

According to a June 2019 editorial21 in JAMA Cardiology, written by cardiologist Ann Marie Navar,22 statins are the victim of “fear-based medical information,” just like vaccines, and this is what’s driving patient nonadherence. Cardiovascular Business reported:23

“We know that what people read influences their actions, Navar said, and indeed, one 2016 study in the European Heart Journal found that on a population level, statin discontinuation increased after negative news stories about statins surfaced in those communities.

In another study, more than one in three heart patients said they declined a statin prescription solely for fears of adverse effects. ‘Measles outbreaks are highly visible: a rash appears, public health agencies respond, headlines are made and the medical community responds vocally,’ Navar wrote.

‘In contrast, when a patient who has refused a statin because of concerns stoked by false information has an MI, the result is less visible. Nevertheless, cardiologists and primary care physicians observe the smoldering outbreak of statin refusal daily.’”

Cardiovascular Business summarizes Navar’s suggestions for how doctors can fight back against false information about statins and build adherence, such as handing out yearlong prescriptions with automatic refills.24

When I first wrote about the censorship of anti-vaccine material occurring on every single online platform, I warned that this censorship would not stop at vaccines. And here we’re already seeing the call for censoring anti-statin information by glibly labeling it all “fake news.”

Chances are, the censoring of anti-statin information is already underway. A quick Google search for “statin side effects” garnered pages worth of links talking about minor risks, the benefits of statins, comparison articles, looking at two different brands — in other words, mostly positive news.

The scientific fact is, aside from being a “waste of time” and not doing anything to reduce mortality, statins also come with a long list of potential side effects and clinical challenges, including:

An increased risk for diabetes

Decreased heart function25

Nutrient depletions — Including CoQ10 and vitamin K2, both of which are important for cardiovascular and heart health

Impaired fertility — Importantly, statins are a Category X medication,26 meaning they cause serious birth defects,27 so they should never be used by a pregnant woman or women planning a pregnancy

Increased risk of cancer — Long-term statin use (10 years or longer) more than doubles women's risk of two major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma28

Nerve damage — Research has shown statin treatment lasting longer than two years causes “definite damage to peripheral nerves”29

How to assess your heart disease risk

cholesterol levels

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

As a general rule, cholesterol-lowering drugs are not required or prudent for the majority of people — especially if both high cholesterol and longevity run in your family. Remember, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests your overall cholesterol level has little to nothing to do with your risk for heart disease.

For more information about cholesterol and what the different levels mean, take a look at the infographic above. You can also learn more about the benefits of cholesterol, and why you don’t want your level to be too low, in “Cholesterol Plays Key Role in Cell Signaling.” As for evaluating your heart disease risk, the following tests will provide you with a more accurate picture of your risk:

HDL/Cholesterol ratio — HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24%.

Triglyceride/HDL ratio — You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.

NMR LipoProfile Large LDL particles do not appear to be harmful. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries. If they oxidize, they can cause damage and inflammation.

Some groups, such as the National Lipid Association, are now starting to shift the focus toward LDL particle number instead of total and LDL cholesterol to better assess your heart disease risk. Once you know your particle size numbers, you and your doctor can develop a more customized program to help manage your risk.

Your fasting insulin level — Heart disease is primarily rooted in insulin resistance,30 which is the result of a high-sugar diet. Sugar, not cholesterol or saturated fat, is the primary driver. Clinical trials have shown high fructose corn syrup can trigger risk factors for cardiovascular disease within as little as two weeks.31

Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar.

The insulin released from eating too many carbs promotes fat accumulation and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight. Excess fat, particularly around your belly, is one of the major contributors to heart disease.

Your fasting blood sugar level — Research has shown people with a fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dl have a nearly 300% increased higher risk of coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl.32,33

Your iron level — Iron can be a very potent oxidative stress, so if you have excess iron levels you can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should monitor your ferritin levels and make sure they are not much above 80 ng/ml.

The simplest way to lower them if they are elevated is to donate your blood. If that is not possible you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy and that will effectively eliminate the excess iron from your body.

 

Chemo could spread disease and create more aggressive tumors

 

 

Cancer is a disease of uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, also called a malignant growth or tumor. In 1971,1 President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, signing the National Cancer Act. His goal was to make a national commitment to find a cure, after which Fort Detrick was converted to a cancer research center and renamed the Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center.

Since then a number of chemotherapeutic and surgical treatments have been developed in an effort to treat cancer.2 In 1991, mortality rates from cancer began to decline, falling 0.5% per year from 1990 to 1995.3

In 1998, a major clinical trial reported neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer allowed women with large tumors to undergo a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy.4 The goal was to shrink the tumor using chemotherapy, so a smaller portion of the breast could be surgically removed.

Chemotherapy has been one of the primary treatments used in cancer. The objective has been to destroy the cancer cells so that it does not come back. However, chemo — technically a poison — travels throughout your entire body and affects every single cell, unlike radiation or surgical treatments which target precise locations.5

Short term benefit may lead to long term problems

As mentioned, the initial intention of using chemotherapy before surgical excision of breast cancer tumors was to improve the ability of the surgeon to remove the tumor and spare as much breast tissue as possible. But follow-up research to the original study in 1998 has found that although this treatment increases the number of times breast-conserving therapy may be used, it also increases the number of local recurrences of breast cancer in those same women.6

The authors of the research in The Lancet7 suggest downsizing tumor size using neoadjuvant chemotherapy should also include strategies to mitigate the increased local recurrence. However, other scientists8 suggest neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer tumors should be abandoned.

Dr. Jayant S Vaidya, consulting surgeon at several hospitals in London, including the University College London Hospitals,9 discussed some key points about the treatment in The BMJ, including the increased pathological response that doesn't translate into a survival benefit and the reliance on the immediate and dramatic responses seen with newer drugs that may not ultimately benefit patients.10

He was interviewed in a podcast with BMJ Talk Medicine, during which he discussed the original reasons for using neoadjuvant therapy and his analysis of recent research that doesn't support the use. At 7:33 in the podcast,11 Vaidya discussed how neoadjuvant therapy makes surgery less precise and more difficult for the surgeon to excise the tumor.

While the drugs reduce the size of the tumor, it leaves behind cancer cells in the surrounding tissue and essentially "melts" the tumor margin the surgeon uses to excise the tumor, he said. Additionally, researchers have found breast cancer disseminates using a system they call tumor microenvironment of metastasis (TMEM).12

Scientist have used TMEM to clinically validate markers predictive of metastasis in breast cancer patients. In one study,13 data demonstrated chemotherapy increases the activity of TMEM sites and promotes distant metastasis of breast cancer cells.

Unfortunately, in those who underwent neoadjuvant treatment, expression of TMEM increased, suggesting despite reducing the size of the original tumor, its use increased the risk of metastatic disease.14

Chemo-treated breast cancer grow vesicles promoting spread

Following these studies, an international team of researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland15 set out to understand how neoadjuvant chemotherapy may result in a higher risk of developing metastatic disease.

Using an experimental model,16 the researchers found two of the more commonly used medications, doxorubicin and paclitaxel,17 induced the release of small vesicles, which contained a protein (Annexin-A6) not released in the vesicles from untreated tumors.

These were then found circulating in the blood and, when reaching a lung tissue, would release their content stimulating cells to release a different protein, attracting monocytes from the immune system. Past studies had demonstrated this may facilitate the growth of cancer cells in lung tissue, the initial step in metastasis.18

The researchers found genetic inactivation of annexin-A6 in the cancer or host cells19 or blocking the monocytes20 could prevent the experimental breast cancers from lung metastasis.

Cancer rates and incidence

Cancer has a significant impact on societies across the world. According to the National Cancer Institute, the most common cancers in order of number diagnosed are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectal cancer and melanoma of the skin.21

The latest information from the CDC from 2016 reports 436 new cases of cancer for every 100,000 men and women and 156 deaths for every 100,000 men and women.22

In the U.S., the CDC data visualization map demonstrates a significant difference between the number of people diagnosed with cancer on the West Coast compared to those on the East Coast of the U.S. Rates on the West Coast are as low as 359.4 per 100,000 while on the East Coast they range up to 509.7 per 100,000.23

Approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer during their lifetime.24 In 2017, the economic burden for care was $147.3 billion, an increase from $137.4 billion in 2010.25

Mitochondria play a crucial role in development of cancer

Simply put, mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells, producing 90% of the energy generated inside your body.26 Every muscle contraction, biochemical reaction and cellular regeneration requires energy to be completed. When these little powerhouses become dysfunctional it affects your overall health.

Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., professor of biology at Boston College,27 is a leading expert and researcher in the field of cancer metabolism and nutritional ketosis. His work looks at the mechanism of cancer and the influence mitochondria have on the development and treatment of the disease.

Initially, it was Otto Warburg, Ph.D., a German physiologist, who proposed a difference in cancer cell energy production and metabolism, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1931.28 He hypothesized cancer growth occurred through an anaerobic breakdown of sugar, called fermentation. This is vastly different from the conversion of sugar to energy in normal cells through glycolysis.

In his work, Seyfried explains how fermentation in the mitochondria of cancer cells uses glucose and glutamine for fermentable fuels as they are unable to use ketones. For further discussion see my past article, "Why Glucose and Glutamine Restrictions Are Essential in the Treatment of Cancer."

Cancer is frequently a metabolic and not genetic condition

A traditionally held view is cancer is a genetic disease,29 but what Warburg discovered is cancer is really caused by a defect in the cellular energy metabolism of the cell, primarily related to the function of the mitochondria.

In my view, this information is a game changer as it relates to cancer and nearly every other disease, since at the core of most serious health conditions you find mitochondrial dysfunction.

Nuclear transfer experiments involve transplanting the nuclei of one cell into the cytoplasm (the material within a cell, excluding the cell nucleus) of another including the mitochondria. In studying the effect of mitochondrial function in cancer, researchers have transplanted the nuclei of a tumor cell into the cytoplasm of a healthy cell.30

The hypothesis is if cancer is nuclear-gene driven and the phenotype of cancer is dysregulated cell growth, meaning if genetic mutations are responsible for the observable characteristics of the disease, then those abnormal genes should be expressed in the new cytoplasm. But that's not what happened.31

However, what was observed was when the nuclei of cancer cells were transferred into a healthy cytoplasm, the new cytoplasm did not form cancer. It remained healthy and normal. Seyfried writes:32

"Cybrids contain a single nucleus with a mixture of cytoplasm from two different cells. Cybrids with normal mitochondria showed enhanced mitochondrial function including increased ATP synthesis, oxygen consumption and respiratory chain activities despite the presence of the cancerous nuclear genome.

A remarkable finding was that even though genes that encode most mitochondrial proteins are located in the nucleus, introduction of mitochondria derived from the non-cancerous cell to a cancer nuclear environment resulted in suppression of oncogenic pathways and the tumorigenic phenotype."

Additional evidence produced by Benny Kaipparettu, Ph.D., and colleagues at Baylor University33 showed transplanted normal mitochondria (with their nuclei intact) into cancer cell cytoplasm caused the cells to stop growing abnormally. In essence, this downregulated the oncogenes alleged to be driving the tumor and made the cells grow normally again.

On the other hand, when they took the mitochondria from a tumor cell and moved them into a very slow-growing type of cancer cells, the cancer cells began growing rapidly. As noted by Seyfried,34 "Low dose radiation can cause nuclear mutations but not cancer, whereas high dose radiation damages both the nucleus and mitochondria and can cause cancer." He goes on to say:35

"In other words, nuclear mutations alone are insufficient for producing tumors, whereas the tumorigenic phenotype can be produced in some cells without nuclear mutations. These findings seriously question the foundation of the somatic mutation theory of cancer."

Key principles in cancer treatment and prevention

Even though China has a larger population, their cancer rate is higher than the U.S.36 In this informative interview with Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., who in my view is one of the most prominent and knowledgeable cancer biologists in the world, we discuss the role mitochondria and metabolism play in the development of cancer.

As Seyfried discusses, under an electron microscope mitochondrial structure and number are abnormal, leading to abnormal function. These changes mean cancer mitochondria are only able to use glucose and/or glutamine in a fermentation process to produce enough energy to survive.

The respiratory process used in normal cells using glucose to produce energy is not available to the cancer cells because of the structural abnormality in the mitochondria. This information means targeting glucose and glutamine in the treatment of cancer all but eliminates their source of energy and starves the cells, so they can't survive.

By bringing the body into ketosis, the cancer cells are unable to use ketones in fermentation and therefore have no mechanism to make energy. Conversely, there is new information demonstrating that cancer is not a genetic disease. As Seyfried describes in the video:

"The nuclear transfer experiments are showing that it cannot be a genetic disease. There has been no scientific argument that I have seen, a rational argument, to discredit the multitude of evidence showing that the mutations are not the drivers but the effects. As a matter of fact, there's new information now where people are finding so-called genetic drivers of cancer expressed and present in normal cells."

He goes on to say:

"And now we're finding many cancers that have no mutations … yet they're fermenting and they're growing out of control. So, there's a number of new observations that are coming out that challenge this concept that cancer is a genetic disease. So, then, once you realize that it's not a genetic disease, then you have to seriously question the majority of therapies that are being used to try to manage the disease."

Seyfried believes that cancer is not a genetic disease, mutations are a downstream phenomenon and — most importantly — that we could drop the death rate by 50% in 10 years. This could be accomplished if cancer were treated as a mitochondrial metabolic disease targeting fermentable fuels, rather than using toxic therapies focused on downstream effects.

Most of the current toxic therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are focused on stopping replication of the cells, but by removing the cancer cells' fuel source, they will also die without the negative, and sometimes devastating, effects of therapy.

Guidelines to reduce your potential risk

Seyfried's landmark theory of cancer metabolism is available as a free PDF37 and many of his theories of energy production in cancer metabolism are found in his most recent paper,38 "Mitochondrial Substrate-Level Phosphorylation as Energy Source for Glioblastoma: Review and Hypothesis."

Very simply put, by removing the energy source for the cancer cells, you cause the cells to die. To reduce your risk consider using a cyclical ketosis dietary plan as it improves your metabolic flexibility and reduces your cells' dependence on glucose, the primary fuel for cancer cells.

Additionally, you may reduce your risk by ditching processed foods of all kinds, eating only whole, organic fruits and vegetables and grass fed, pasture-raised meats and poultry, maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D, reducing your exposure to toxins, drinking pure water, exercising regularly and getting at least eight hours of quality sleep each night.

 

Polio-like disease expected to increase this fall

 

 

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a very contagious enterovirus infection that usually causes mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, and most people recover from polio without lasting health problems (nonparalytic polio).1

However, severe complications of polio can cause partial or total body paralysis, breathing difficulties and death.2 The first clinical description of this contagious disease was given by Michael Underwood, a British doctor, in 1789. The first recorded outbreak of polio in the U.S. occurred in Vermont in 1894.3

As noted by the Polio Eradication Initiative, "In the early 20th century, polio was one of the most feared diseases in industrialized countries, paralyzing hundreds of thousands of children every year."4 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, "In the early 1950s, before polio vaccines were available, polio outbreaks caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year in the United States."5

Dr. Jonas Salk began studying polio in 1947, and in the mid-1950s developed the first inactivated injectable polio vaccine (IAV).6,7 A live attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV) was developed in the early 1960s, and quickly became the vaccine of choice around the globe.8

During the 1970s and '80s, routine use of OPV for child vaccination programs was adopted by countries around the world and, in 1988, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eradicate polio by 2000. The last known case of wild type polio in the Western Hemisphere is believed to have occurred in Peru in 1991.9,10

The live attenuated polio vaccine can cause vaccine strain polio paralysis in the person vaccinated or someone who comes into contact with the body fluids (urine, stool, saliva) of a recently vaccinated person shedding vaccine strain polio virus.11

It wasn't until 1999 that U.S. public health officials switched from recommending universal use of live OPV and started recommending the use of inactivated polio vaccine (IVP) again, "to eliminate the risk for vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis."12

Vaccine-derived polio on the rise

While the global poliovirus eradication effort appears to have been successful, the consequences of routine use of OPV are not fully known. In 2009, the World Health Organization warned that live polio vaccine may be responsible for a rise in vaccine strain polio termed Vaccine Derived Polio Disease (VDPD).13,14

Not only has live vaccine strain poliovirus been found to cause paralytic disease in some cases, but evidence also shows that mutated vaccine-derived viruses are responsible for some outbreaks.15,16 As reported by NPR in 2017:17

"For the first time, the number of children paralyzed by mutant strains of the polio vaccine are greater than the number of children paralyzed by polio itself. So far in 2017, there have been only six cases of 'wild' polio reported anywhere in the world …

By contrast, there have been 21 cases of vaccine-derived polio this year. These cases look remarkably similar to regular polio. But laboratory tests show they're caused by remnants of the oral polio vaccine that have gotten loose in the environment, mutated and regained their ability to paralyze unvaccinated children

'It's actually an interesting conundrum. The very tool you are using for [polio] eradication is causing the problem,' says Raul Andino, a professor of microbiology at the University of California at San Francisco."

A year later, as further evidence that VDPD is still frustrating public health officials, the Polio Global Eradication Initiative reported that worldwide in 2018 there were 104 confirmed cases of VDPV — and only 33 cases of wild poliovirus.18

We may be going from bad to worse

A 2016 study19 in the Journal of Virology highlighted the very real problems that human populations face from mutated vaccine-derived polioviruses:

"Until this outbreak, Sabin-like viruses (in distinction to more markedly evolved vaccine-derived polioviruses [VDPVs]) were reported to cause only sporadic cases of VAPP [vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis]. Consequently, VAPP cases were not considered to require outbreak-type responses.

However, the Biysk outbreak completely blurred the borderline between Sabin-like viruses and VDPVs in epidemiological terms. The outbreak demonstrated a very high disease/infection ratio, apparently exceeding even that reported for wild polioviruses.

The viral genome structures did not provide any substantial hints as to the underlying reason(s) for such pathogenicity … Altogether, the results demonstrate several new aspects of pathogenicity, epidemiology, and evolution of vaccine-related polioviruses and underscore several serious gaps in understanding these problems."

CDC warns polio-like disease is spreading

In 2009, WHO20 urged enhanced surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), of which one known cause is paralysis from wild type or vaccine strain polio.21 In October 2018, the Washington State Department of Health issued a 23-page Acute Flaccid Myelitis and Poliomyelitis Reporting and Investigation Guideline.22

The guidelines advised doctors about how to conduct a routine investigation of suspected cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), a polio-liked disease, as well as suspected cases of wild type or vaccine strain polio:

"Any person noted to have AFM has the potential to be a polio case. Immediately obtaining information about prior immunizations and recent travel or exposure to a recent OPV vaccinee is extremely important for every suspect AFM case."

In evaluating and determining the likelihood of a diagnosis, public health officials directed doctors to:

Review the clinical presentation, physical exam findings (particularly flaccid weakness).

Review immunization history and risk factors for infection (e.g., recent travel to a polio endemic area or possible exposure to a person that recently received oral polio vaccine).

Obtain history of any recent viral respiratory and/or gastrointestinal illness.

Confirm that clinical criteria including CSF findings and/or MRI test results are met for AFM cases.

If pursuit of laboratory testing is indicated, facilitate timely collection of appropriate specimens and expedite transport of those specimens to Washington State Health Laboratories (PHL).

If a commercial laboratory isolates polio virus in cell culture, request that the laboratory send the cell culture to PHL for confirmatory testing immediately.

State health officials also advised that:

"For a suspected polio case, contacts must be identified and monitored for symptoms. Collection of stool and serum samples from household members and other contacts associated with possible transmission settings may be required. For a confirmed polio case, vaccination should be offered to susceptible contacts with an emphasis on persons who have an ongoing risk of exposure."

July 9, 2019, the CDC issued a call for increased paralytic disease surveillance,23,24 urging health care professionals to be on the lookout for cases of AFM, which first drew the agency's attention in 2014. Cases of AFM have been increasing in the U.S., but the CDC maintains the cause is still unknown.

As described by the Cleveland Clinic,25 AFM "is characterized by muscle weakness and myelitis of the spinal cord's anterior horn cells following a viral illness." The disease affects primarily children. During the 2018 outbreak in the U.S., the median age of confirmed cases was 5.3 years.26 As for its diagnosis, the Cleveland Clinic says:

"Children with AFM typically present with acute onset of asymmetric flaccid paralysis, often rapidly progressing from normal strength to flaccid weakness with loss of reflexes within hours to a few days. A prodromal illness (typically febrile with respiratory symptoms) a few days prior to the onset of flaccid paralysis is common.

Perplexingly, the respiratory symptoms of the prodromal illness are frequently shared by sick contacts within the household, but they are spared any signs or symptoms of AFM. Patients also frequently report pain in the affected limb at the time of weakness onset.

There does not appear to be any ethnic or racial predispositions, pre-existing comorbidities that place these healthy children at increased risk or any association with vaccination status …

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions for AFM require two criteria: acute onset of flaccid limb weakness and MRI evidence of a gray matter lesion spanning one or more spinal segments."

According to the CDC, outbreaks of AFM have been recorded on a biennial basis since then, with spikes occurring in 2014, 2016 and 2018.27 While the symptoms of AFM mimic those caused by poliovirus, investigations have failed to find the poliovirus in any of the confirmed cases of AFM that were lab tested. The CDC stated in its July 2019 report that "Stool specimens from all patients with available specimens tested negative for poliovirus," while also acknowledging that:28

"Timing of respiratory specimen collection improved in 2018 compared with that in 2016, but still occurred a median of approximately three days after the onset of limb weakness and five days after the onset of any respiratory illness. Shedding of viruses in the respiratory tract can be transient, so delays in specimen collection could contribute to negative findings."

Mutated enterovirus D68 may be responsible

At present, other enteroviruses, especially coxsackievirus A16, enterovirus A71 and enterovirus D68, are suspected of being responsible for AFM.29

The AFM outbreak in 2014 in the U.S. occurred concurrently with an outbreak of EV-D68,30 a pathogen known to cause respiratory illness. A 2018 paper31 in Frontiers in Microbiology, "Enterovirus D68 — The New Polio?" highlights evidence identifying EV-D68 as a probable cause of AFM.

"The EV-D68 storyline shows many similarities with poliovirus a century ago, stimulating discussion about whether EV-D68 could be ascertaining itself as the 'new polio,'" the paper states.32

The authors also cite research showing EV-D68 has undergone genetic alterations "known to affect the translational efficiency and thought to increase the virulence." However, EV-D68 is only found in about half of all cases. Testing of samples taken during the 2014 AFM outbreak revealed EV-D68 in 47% of the samples collected within seven days of disease onset.33

Another study34 found the virus in 48% of respiratory samples collected from AFM patients. However, as noted in The Atlantic,35 the lack of active EV-D68 infection doesn't mean the virus cannot be the trigger of AFM:

"In many neurological infections, the worst symptoms aren't caused by the virus itself, but by the body's disproportionate immune response. That response can continue even after the virus has been cleared, which means that patients often test negative for whatever first triggered their illness.

All the researchers I spoke to think AFM likely behaves in this way, especially since there can be a seven-day gap between the condition's initial coldlike symptoms and the severe paralytic ones.

By the time parents seek medical help, their children could be suffering from their body's misplaced attempts to fight an enemy that's no longer there."

The ignored vaccine-paralysis link

However, while researchers are trying to pin down the viral cause, there may be something else going on here. For decades, it's been known that injections, including injections of vaccines, sometimes can cause paralysis under certain conditions — a phenomenon referred to as "provocation polio." Yet this issue is being largely, if not entirely, ignored in today's discussions about AFM.

In response to the 2016 BMJ article36 "Conflicts of Interest Compromise U.S. Public Health Agency's Mission," Allan S. Cunningham, a retired pediatrician, questioned whether Americans can "trust the CDC to honestly investigate the current AFM outbreak"37 specifically. In his response, Cunningham points out how the CDC is avoiding the well-recognized link between injections and paralytic disease:

"Antecedent injections have been suggested as possible co-factors by clinician-scientists who remember 'provocation paralysis;' Hill and Knowelden, for example, found a 20-fold risk of paralytic polio in children who received the DTP shot during the 1949 British polio epidemic …

During the 1990s the NEJM published a study in Romania linking vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP) to penicillin injections. Tissue studies have shown how muscle damage by an injection can provide a portal of entry to the CNS for neurotropic viruses."

Cunningham describes a conversation he said he had with an unnamed public health official about the 2016 AFM outbreak in Washington State, alleging the health official was aware of the provocation paralysis theory but was "wary of anti-vaccine forces who would misuse data suggesting a serious adverse effect of vaccinations," and that "for this reason he indicated that statistical details of the CDC's investigation would not be released to the news media."

"The CDC, the AAP and many public health officials are afraid that any bad news about vaccines will cause the public to turn away from life-saving vaccines," Cunningham writes.

"Along with the manufacturers, they are also afraid of the effect such news might have on incomes and careers. Will the CDC do an unbiased, thorough and transparent investigation of the current AFM outbreak?"

Similarly, in a November 2016 article,38 Marcella Piper-Terry, a biomedical consultant and founder of VaxTruth.org, pointed out that AFM following routine childhood vaccination is "nothing new." "The connection between childhood vaccination and provocation paralysis has been known since the polio outbreaks in the 1940s and 1950s," she wrote.

The history of provocation polio

Indeed, the 2014 Lancet paper,39 "Polio Provocation: Solving a Mystery with the Help of History," by Stephen Mawdsley, recounted this history, observing that "Evidence of this correlation was first published by German doctors, who noted that children who had received treatment for congenital syphilis later became paralyzed in the injected limb."

French and Italian studies corroborated the link between injections of DPT vaccine and provocation polio paralysis, Mawdsley stated, and by the end of World War II, "injection-induced polio emerged as a public health concern." He explained:40

"The application of epidemiological surveillance and statistical methods enabled researchers to trace the steady rise in polio incidence along with the expansion of immunization programs for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.

A report that emerged from Guy's and Evelina Hospitals, London, in 1950, found that 17 cases of polio paralysis developed in the limb injected with pertussis or tetanus inoculations.

Results published by Australian doctor Bertram McCloskey also showed a strong association between injections and polio paralysis. Meanwhile, in the USA, public health researchers in New York and Pennsylvania reached similar conclusions. Clinical evidence, derived from across three continents, had established a theory that required attention."

The mounting scientific evidence that emerged during the 1950s fueled concerns to the point that booster shots were discouraged whenever there was a polio outbreak and "laws mandating pediatric vaccinations before school attendance were relaxed."41

Immunization practices were also reformed and, according to Mawdsley, "Most health professionals … accepted that seasonal factors and cycles of disease were important to consider before immunizing children."42

Polio vaccine swept 'provocation polio' under the rug

The link between provocation paralysis and vaccine injections quickly receded with the advent of the polio vaccine and mass vaccination programs, however. Mawdsley stated:43

"Once polio vaccination programs established herd immunity among children and adults, the corresponding risk of toxoid-based injections inciting polio paralysis was effectively eliminated.

Orthodox public health and surgical practices were restored. Although medical scientists failed to understand the epidemiological mechanism behind polio provocation, the Salk and Sabin vaccines pushed the issue to the margins of clinical attention."

Mechanism of injection-induced polio revealed

In the 1990s, scientific advances allowed for a more thorough investigation of the link between vaccine injections and paralysis and, in 1998, the first paper44 describing the actual mechanism of injection-induced polio paralysis was published.

The research, conducted by two State University of New York researchers, Matthias Gromeier and Eckard Wimmer, revealed "that tissue injury produced by an injection aided the poliovirus to infect the body and readily journey to the spinal cord," Mawsdley writes, adding "For the first time, health professionals working in polio endemic regions had scientific evidence that pediatric injections could incite paralysis."

In areas where polio was controlled through vaccination, however, vaccine-induced paralysis "was insignificant," suggesting the polio vaccine effectively reduced the risk of other vaccinations causing paralytic disease.

A question Mawdsley does not address, however, is how the mutation of vaccine viruses affects this chain of events. We now apparently have vaccine-derived mutated polioviruses that are more virulent than the original poliovirus, and respiratory enteroviruses that are somehow able to trigger paralysis.

Mawdsley does note that concerns about provocation polio resurfaced in the 1980s when routine vaccination programs began to flourish, as the incidence of paralysis again began to rise.

Vaccination also linked to transverse myelitis

According to the Transverse Myelitis Association, AFM is a subtype of transverse myelitis,45 and this condition has also been linked to vaccinations. A 2009 systematic review46 published in the journal Lupus found:

"… 37 reported cases of transverse myelitis associated with different vaccines including those against hepatitis B virus, measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and others, given to infants, children and adults. In most of these reported cases the temporal association was between several days and 3 months, although a longer time frame of up to several years was also suggested."

Transverse myelitis is also recognized by the U.S. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) as a possible injury following receipt of several different types of vaccines.47,48 Piper-Terry writes:49

"In the 1980s, the United States government went on record as choosing the vaccination program over the well-being of children, publishing the following in the Federal Register (the daily journal of the U.S. government), in regard to the polio vaccine:

'… [A]ny possible doubts, whether or not well founded, about the safety of the vaccine cannot be allowed to exist in view of the need to assure that the vaccine will continue to be used to the maximum extent consistent with the nation's public health objectives.'"

A PDF copy of that Federal Register article, dated June 1, 1984, can be downloaded at the end of Piper-Terry's article.50 "We need to scream from the rooftops that it is time to stop the sacrifice of our children," she writes, adding:

"Please pray for … the families of all the children who are caught in the middle of what can only be described as a battle between innocent lives and … forces … fueled by the billions of dollars greasing the palms of those who make the decisions about mandatory vaccinations."

Signs and Symptoms of AFM

With cases of AFM on the rise in the U.S., it's important to be on the lookout for potential signs and symptoms of AFM, particularly in children. These include:51

Difficulty moving the eyes

Facial droop or weakness

Slurred speech

Loss of muscle tone

Drooping eyelids

Difficulty swallowing

Sudden arm or leg weakness

Loss of reflexes

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately as AFM can be life-threatening. The most severe symptom is respiratory failure due to flaccid breathing muscles. In this case, a ventilator may be required. Other neurological complications may also occur, some of which may lead to death.

You cannot find what you refuse to look for

Unfortunately, diagnosis can be difficult, and treatment even more so. According to the CDC:52

"There is no specific treatment for AFM, but a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses (neurologist) may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis. For example, neurologists may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness caused by AFM."

CDC officials state there are few tools for prevention of AFM: "Since we don't know the cause of most of these AFM cases or what triggers this condition, there is no specific action to take to prevent AFM."

Unfortunately, unless all of the potential causes of AFM are explored, including provocation polio, which has been linked to acute flaccid paralysis, we may continue to remain in the dark about the cause of this crippling condition for quite some time.

 

Drain tiling, the hidden accelerator of water pollution

 

 

I’ve written many articles discussing how industrial agriculture is a primary source of water pollution and toxic algae growth that result in huge dead zones where all aquatic life is suffocated.1 There are 18 major river basins2 in the continental U.S., with the largest belonging to rivers that feed the Mississippi River,3 currently the seventh-most polluted river in the world.4

A July 2, 2019, presentation5 in The Wall Street Journal offers an in-depth look at how agricultural expansion is driving the Mississippi River’s demise. You can scroll through fact boxes for each section of the river, starting in the north and moving all the way down to the Gulf.

Where the Mississippi River runs through Iowa, The Wall Street Journal points to artificial tile drainage being a major problem. It’s believed a majority of Iowa’s farmland has artificial drainage that increases the speed at which excess nutrients are delivered into the river, and ultimately the Gulf, which the Mississippi River empties into.

Dead zone in Gulf of Mexico keeps growing

Whatever enters a waterway upstream will travel downstream, and this includes runoff from agricultural lands. As explained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:6

“Farmers apply nutrients on their fields in the form of chemical fertilizers and animal manure … [W]hen nitrogen and phosphorus are not fully utilized by the growing plants, they can be lost from the farm fields and negatively impact air and downstream water quality.”

With the high levels of spring and summer rains seen in many parts of the Midwest this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates7 the summer 2019 dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will reach roughly 7,829 miles, which is about the size of Massachusetts, and bigger than the 5,770 square-mile, five-year average size.

According to The New Food Economy,8 Independence Day festivities had to be canceled in many Mississippi beach areas as toxic algae had taken over, making water play too risky a venture. The algae bloom also killed all the oysters in one of the state’s harvesting regions. 

Drain tiling, the hidden accelerator of water pollution

The speed of agricultural runoff is largely dictated by poor soil conditions that prevent water retention, but artificial drainage also appears to play a decisive role, adding to the problem by speeding up the runoff. As noted by Carleton College in Minnesota, tile drainage “provides an expressway by which water on the fields is drained away …”9

Drain tiling is a relatively unknown agricultural strategy, despite having been done for decades. In a nutshell, it involves installing a network of subsurface drainage tubes 2 to 4 feet below ground to siphon off excess water. As explained by Mike Winslow, staff scientist with the Lake Champlain Committee:10

“Groundwater flows through the pipes rather than the soil, because the pipes offer a pathway of least resistance. As a result, the groundwater table is lowered to the depth of the pipes thus ensuring that a crop’s roots won’t become water logged, and that fields drain earlier in the spring. The pipes are usually oriented to discharge into a nearby stream, though in some cases, the discharge may just be to an area lower in elevation.”

According to the Des Moines Register, about half of Iowa’s cropland would be unsuitable for farming were it not for drain tiling,11 as the water table is too close to the soil surface.

By lowering the water table, crops are able to develop deeper root systems, which augments growth. Chris Jones, a research engineer with The University of Iowa, cites research suggesting drain tiling can increase crop yields by 30% or more.12

According to the Des Moines Register,13 much of subterranean drainage in the U.S. was installed during the 1920s through 1940s. However, in recent years, there’s been a significant uptick in the practice, and it’s not entirely known just how much of our farmland is being artificially drained into our waterways.

As reported by the Twin Cities Pioneer Press,14 the Bois de Sioux Watershed District approved 2.9 miles of drain tile to be installed in 1999. Ten years later, in 2009, permits had risen to 779.3 miles, and in 2011, permits for 1,558.3 miles were handed out.

“While tiling data aren’t nearly as precise elsewhere, the surge is beyond dispute,” Pioneer Press notes,15 adding that, “In some places, grassy areas that once harbored wildlife are being plowed under and tiled to plant corn and soybeans.”

Drain tiling doubles speed of pollution delivery

While drain tiling may be an attractive option, allowing farmers to grow crops on less than ideal land, the practice has serious ramifications for the environment as it dramatically increases the speed at which nutrient runoff enters our rivers and streams.

Since the water is shuttled out through pipes, higher amounts of nutrients also enter the waterways, as it’s no longer being filtered through soil along the way. Rainwater that used to make its way into aquifers or simply evaporate is also being routed into our waterways instead.16 As reported by Des Moines Register:17

“Drainage tiles have cut in half the average time it takes nitrates to enter Iowa waterways, Keith Schilling, a research engineer at the University of Iowa, said.

That flow is even more dramatically accelerated in heavily tiled areas. ‘The tiles in particular short-circuit a lot of the natural processing that would go on as groundwater would slowly move through the system,’ he said.

That means the water misses the cleansing that would naturally occur through trees, shrubs and grasses in riparian buffers along streams. Or it could percolate through soil, potentially to the aquifer. Without it, experts say, it leads to higher concentration of nitrates in the river and waterways.”

Speaking about conditions at Lake Champlain, situated on New York’s Adirondack Coast, Winslow notes:18

“Tiling was seen as a way to increase the social and economic well-being of the region. Today, that has shifted and more researchers are exploring the effects of tiling on the ecosystem and nutrient loading to our waters. There is no question that the water discharged to streams via tiles carries nutrients which contribute to algae blooms.

Tile drains increase the discharge of nitrogen, which moves quickly through groundwater. However, nitrogen is usually considered secondary to phosphorus in promoting Lake Champlain algae blooms. Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus is not mobile in groundwater.

Instead, most of it attaches to soil particles. On the other hand, dissolved phosphorus, which is more easily taken up by algae than sediment-bound phosphorus, can be found in tile drainage. It is not clear however, whether tiling leads to an increase in phosphorus discharge …

In addition to nutrients, tiling changes the overall hydrology of the landscape. Historically, tiling has been used to drain wetlands, reducing the water storage capacity of the land. Water reaches stream courses more quickly from tiled fields, potentially exacerbating flooding and erosive stream flows.”

There’s no data on environmental effects

Similar concerns are echoed by experts in Minnesota. Tom Kalahar, a conservation technician for the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District, spoke with Twin Cities Pioneer Press, saying the Minnesota River is being treated “like a large drainage ditch.” Pioneer Press reports:19

“’I find it fairly alarming and hypocritical of federal and state governments to put all the emphasis on clean water and flood management and then continue to ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room,’ Kalahar added, referring to tiling.

‘To me, it tells us we’re nowhere near any serious change in water management in the state of Minnesota’ … Despite all the tiling going on, no one knows exactly how much is taking place in new areas, how much simply replaces or upgrades old systems, how much allows grasslands to be cultivated, or how much actually destroys or degrades wetlands, potholes and sloughs.

‘Is there data? No,’ Kalahar said. ‘Everybody should be shocked by that … It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the world … There is very little data being gathered. It’s the hidden infrastructure that the public doesn’t have a clue about. No government agency wants to regulate tiling because (regulation) is politically unpopular with the ag community.’”

There is evidence suggesting environmental harm is definitely being sped up by tiling, though. Aside from the fact that nitrate levels are rising and dead zones are growing, Pioneer Press20 cites research by Shawn Schottler that looked at how artificial drainage affects riverbank erosion and sediment levels in the Minnesota River.

His findings reveal an increase in both, and at an unnatural rate. According to Schottler, artificial drainage (in which he also includes runoff from parking lots, roads and yards) is “not the only driver, but it’s the major driver” of erosion and sedimentation.

Iowa lawsuit goes nowhere

March 2015, board trustees of the Des Moines Water Works sued three county boards that supervise several drainage districts over the high level of nitrates ushered by drainage tiles into the Raccoon River, which supplies drinking water to central Iowa residents. The utility sought “money damages and other remedies to recover its costs to remove nitrates from Raccoon River water.”21

Two years later, the District Court for the Northern District of Iowa ruled against the utility, dismissing all of its claims. According to a March 17, 2017 press release by Des Moines Water Works:22

The ruling states that drainage districts have no authority to redress Des Moines Water Works’ harm, thus the utility has no standing to sue the drainage districts.

Since the ruling concluded Des Moines Water Works could not bring this lawsuit, the ruling does not address whether agricultural drainage tile is a ‘point source’ as defined by the Clean Water Act.

The ruling also states Des Moines Water Works cannot assert claims based on the Iowa and United States Constitutions against drainage districts … While many in the agriculture community took issue with the lawsuit, nobody objected to the facts that we presented in the case …

In fact, Chief Justice Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court recognized in his opinion on January 27, that: ‘One of the fundamental principles of law is for remedies to be available when we discover wrongs. Pollution of our streams is a wrong, irrespective of its source or its cause.’”

Regenerative, grass fed, biodynamic agriculture is the answer

Regenerative farming reduces soil erosion and topsoil destruction23 while improving fertility and biodiversity.24 The process significantly diminishes water demand,25 thus reducing the need for irrigation. Regenerative farming also eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers, thereby protecting our waterways from toxic pollution and algal blooms.

It seems like an exercise in madness to keep spending time and money on strategies such as drain tiling just to be able to continue the status quo of industrial farming, rather than doing something completely different that will actually permanently solve a whole host of environmental problems.

Farmers install artificial drainage to protect profits, but evidence shows regenerative strategies will do that as well — without harming the environment in the process.

At some point, we must realize that our current food system is unsustainable and will lead to the destruction of mankind rather than nourish and sustain a growing population. Industry wide changes are perhaps most effectively driven by consumer demand, though, and demand has certainly been a driving force in rise of organics and grass fed beef.

There’s no doubt choosing biodynamically grown food is a positive solution that can improve fertilizer runoff and the environment as a whole. The use of regenerative agriculture techniques like cover crops and no-till farming, which improve soil health and reduce runoff and the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides, which then benefits waterways, has become a more or less essential long-term survival strategy.

Where to find environmentally friendly food

If you live in the U.S., the following resources can help you find farm fresh foods locally. While many grocery stores now carry organic foods, it’s preferable to source them from local growers whenever possible, as many organic foods sold in grocery stores are imported.

Also remember to choose organic, grass fed/pasture-raised beef, poultry and dairy, in addition to organic or biodynamic produce, as concentrated animal feeding operations are yet another major source of environmental pollution.

Demeter USA Demeter-USA.org provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands.

American Grassfed Association (AGA) 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% 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.

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 Fund26 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.27 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.organicpastures.com.

 

What is vaccine shedding?

 

 

When you're infected with a virus that causes an illness, that virus is shed in your saliva and other bodily fluids, and sometimes also via skin lesions. This means that a person who comes into direct contact with the shed virus may also become infected. The same holds true for live attenuated viral vaccines.

While inactivated vaccines use a killed version of the pathogen, live viral vaccines use a weakened (or attenuated) version of the virus. Typically, the live virus used in vaccine production is passed through a living cell culture or other host, such as chicken embryo, many times over until it becomes weakened to a point that it's not likely to make you sick when it's injected or, in the case of live oral vaccines, swallowed.

That being said, a live vaccine strain virus is still active and strong enough to trigger an inflammatory response in your body, prompting the creation of vaccine-acquired antibodies. There are a few problems with this, such as the possibility that the weakened vaccine-strain virus can revert to virulence, leading to serious complications identical or similar to complications of the natural disease the vaccine is supposed to prevent in the vaccinated person.1

Another noted problem is that the person who is given a live attenuated viral vaccine can asymptomatically shed and transmit vaccine-strain virus for a period of days, weeks or months and potentially infect close contacts, who can also experience symptoms of the very disease the vaccine was intended to prevent.

Live flu vaccine associated with increased viral shedding in exhaled breath

The possibility of vaccine strain viral shedding takes on renewed importance in the case of the government's strong recommendation for annual flu vaccination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual influenza vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older.

In the 2018 to 2019 flu season, CDC officials recommended health care providers "use any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine (inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4) with no preference expressed for one vaccine over another."2

The live influenza vaccine FluMist, which is approved for nonpregnant women as well as anyone aged 2 to 49 years, is administered in the form of a nasal spray.

While the CDC states that the live type A and B vaccine strain influenza viruses in FluMist are too weak to actually give recipients influenza, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case. One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of influenza virus released into the air.3

"Self-reported vaccination for the current season was associated with a trend toward higher viral shedding in fine-aerosol samples; vaccination with both the current and previous year's seasonal vaccines, however, was significantly associated with greater fine-aerosol shedding … ," the researchers stated.4

What's more, individuals who had been vaccinated in the current and previous season had 6.3 times more aerosol shedding than those who had received no vaccination in those two seasons. The researchers concluded:5

"The association of current and prior year vaccination with increased shedding of influenza A might lead one to speculate that certain types of prior immunity promote lung inflammation, airway closure and aerosol generation … If confirmed, this observation, together with recent literature suggesting reduced protection with annual vaccination, would have implications for influenza vaccination recommendations and policies."

Virus shedding is common following FluMist — and can transmit flu

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain influenza viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain influenza virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, "One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup."6

Another MedImmune study revealed that 89 percent of babies under 2 years who received FluMist shed vaccine-strain influenza virus, as did 20 percent of adults. The most virus was shed two to three days following vaccination, continuing for up to 11 days.7

While the CDC claims vaccine-strain virus shedding, and subsequent transmission of disease, is rare, they have also stated that people with a weakened immune system, or those who will be caring for someone with a weakened immune system within seven days of vaccination, should not receive the live attenuated influenza vaccine due to the "theoretical" risk that the recently vaccinated person could shed and transmit the vaccine-strain virus to immunocompromised individuals.

That being said, there's no way to know for sure how often vaccine-strain live virus shedding and disease transmission actually occurs. Barbara Loe Fisher, cofounder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), wrote a special report, The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Viral Vectored Vaccines: Vaccine Strain Virus Infection, Shedding and Transmission, which contains over 200 references and delves into virus shedding and vaccine virus shedding. She noted:8

"There is no active surveillance and testing for evidence of vaccine strain live virus shedding, transmission and infection among populations routinely being given multiple doses of live virus vaccines, including measles vaccine. Therefore, it is unknown exactly how many vaccinated children and adults in the U.S. or other countries are shedding and transmitting vaccine strain live viruses.

Whether or not vaccine strain live virus shedding, transmission and infection is causing undiagnosed or misdiagnosed health problems, especially among people with severe immune deficiencies or autoimmune and other immune system disorders, is an open question."

Which vaccines are capable of shedding?

Examples of live attenuated viral vaccines are measles, mumps, rubella, vaccinia (smallpox), varicella, zoster (which contains the same virus as varicella vaccine but in much higher amount), yellow fever, rotavirus and influenza (intranasal).9 As with the live virus influenza vaccine, there are many examples of other live attenuated viral vaccines spreading disease.

The live oral polio vaccine (OPV) is one of them. OPV is no longer used in the U.S., having been replaced by inactivated injectable polio vaccine in 1999, but OPV is still used in some developing countries. In 2017, there were 21 reported cases of vaccine-derived polio, compared to six cases of wild polio — marking the first time more cases of polio were caused by vaccine-derived strains than wild or naturally occurring strains.

In Syria alone, 15 children were paralyzed by vaccine-derived polio, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).10 Research published in the journal Cell also revealed that the live vaccine strain virus used in the oral polio vaccine can easily mutate and spread through a community.11 NPR reported:12

"After a child is vaccinated with live polio virus, the virus replicates inside the child's intestine and eventually is excreted. In places with poor sanitation, fecal matter can enter the drinking water supply and the virus is able to start spreading from person to person.

'We discovered there's only a few [mutations] that have to happen and they happen rather quickly in the first month or two post-vaccination," [lead study author Raul] Andino says. 'As the virus starts circulating in the community, it acquires further mutations that make it basically indistinguishable from the wild-type virus. It's polio in terms of virulence and in terms of how the virus spreads.'"

WHO also noted, "When a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened vaccine virus replicates in the intestine for a limited period … During this time, the vaccine virus is also excreted."13 In some people, however, the period of replication may not be so "limited."

One British man received three doses of attenuated live virus polio vaccine at 5, 7 and 12 months of age. He also received a booster at age 7, as was recommended. The man has a health condition that suppresses his immune system, making it more difficult for him to clear vaccine-strain poliovirus from the body.

Although he had no symptoms of the disease, when researchers tested his stool (more than 100 samples were taken over a period of 28 years), they confirmed high levels of the poliovirus even decades later.

Virus shedding is also possible after MMR vaccination

The CDC recommends the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 months, with a booster between ages 4 and 6 years. This live attenuated combination vaccine has also been associated with vaccine-strain virus shedding and disease transmission.

For instance, following live virus measles vaccination, measles virus RNA was detected in 10 of 12 children, as early as one day or as late as 14 days after vaccination.14 Vaccine virus-related measles has also been documented, including in one 2-year-old boy who became ill 37 days after receiving an MMR vaccine.

The researchers who published the case report explained, "Although this is the first such reported case, it likely represents the existence of additional, but unidentified, exceptions to the typical timeframe for measles vaccine virus shedding and illness."15

It's often the case that measles outbreaks are blamed on unvaccinated individuals, but this suggests that recently vaccinated individuals could also transmit a vaccine strain version of the disease.

Likewise, mumps vaccine strain virus has also been confirmed as being transmitted by recently vaccinated children to their parents, while live rubella vaccine virus can be transmitted via breast milk. The live attenuated chickenpox vaccine can also cause vaccine-strain chickenpox in healthy or immunocompromised vaccine recipients — or their close contacts. According to Fisher:16

"It is possible for healthy children and adults to transmit vaccine strain varicella zoster infection to other healthy children and adults. However, immune compromised persons are at special risk for contracting vaccine strain chickenpox infections and suffering complications.

Generally, it is advised that persons recently given chickenpox vaccine avoid close contact for at least six weeks after vaccination with potentially susceptible persons, such as immune compromised persons, pregnant women, newborn infants and premature babies, especially if a rash develops after vaccination."

Why are live virus vaccines still being used?

With documented cases of live virus vaccines contributing to vaccine strain virus shedding and transmission, it's clear there remain many questions about their safety and effectiveness. Yet, their use continues, in part because the immune response triggered by live virus vaccines is considered to be superior to that triggered by inactivated vaccines.

In short, live virus vaccines tend to stimulate an immune response that's more similar to one that would occur had you been exposed to the wild-type virus naturally. That being said, live virus vaccines rarely confer the same kind of longer lasting immunity that exposure to a naturally acquired infection can confer.

This is why booster shots are necessary, and why some have recommended that a third MMR vaccine dose be added to the U.S. vaccine schedule.

At the very least, it's important to be aware of the differences between attenuated live virus vaccines and inactivated vaccines, especially if you're part of a vulnerable population, such as very young children, the elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with acute or chronic health problems or a compromised immune system.

For now, however, there remain many unanswered questions regarding live virus vaccines and their ultimate impact on public health. As Fisher explained:17

"The impact of vaccine-strain virus shedding infection and transmission on individual and public health is a question that deserves to be asked and more thoroughly examined by the scientific community. The fact that children and adults given live virus vaccines have the potential to pose a health risk to both unvaccinated and vaccinated close contacts should be part of the public conversation about vaccination."

 

Vitamin D is essential for your heart

 

 

Vitamin D plays a significant role in several health conditions. It might be one of the simplest solutions to a wide range of problems. Despite the name, vitamin D belongs to a group of steroid molecules that are metabolized by the body in the liver and kidneys.1

According to the Vitamin D Council, your body undergoes numerous turns this molecule into a hormone that undergoes numerous changes during that process before it’s actually put to work managing calcium in your blood, bones and gut, and in helping your body’s cells communicate with each other.2

Vitamin D is optimally obtained through sun exposure, a small amount of food sources and supplementation. Since many dermatologists,3,4 other doctors and health care agencies like the CDC5 began telling people to avoid the sun and to use liberal amounts of sunscreen before going outside, deficiency in vitamin D has reached epidemic proportions.6,7,8,9,10

While the justification for avoiding the sun is it may reduce your risk of skin cancer, vitamin D deficiency raises your risk for many other cancers,11,12,13 including skin cancer.14

We now understand more about vitamin D than ever before in history. Many people are realizing that several of the long-held recommendations on sun exposure and vitamin D are not accurate and have contributed to declining health.

One condition recently linked to low levels of vitamin D is high blood pressure in children. In a study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers found that deficiency in infancy may lead to high blood pressure in later childhood and teen years.15

Childhood vitamin D deficiency predicts high blood pressure

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention16 showed 4% of those between 12 and 19 years had high blood pressure and another 10% had elevated blood pressure. An analysis of more than 12,000 participants led to these results using the 2017 clinical practice guidelines for high blood pressure.

Application of the new guidelines resulted in a net increase in the number of children and teens between 12 and 19 years with high blood pressure.17 High blood pressure may damage your heart and your health in many ways, including increasing your risk of heart failure and heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.18

Past research has demonstrated that low vitamin D levels in adults increases the risk of high blood pressure,19 but the degree to which it may affect children was unknown until a new study conducted at Boston Medical Center was published.20

In this study, researchers followed 775 children in ages ranging from birth to age 18 from 2005 to 2012 to investigate the effect vitamin D had on the development of high systolic blood pressure. For the purposes of the study,21 low vitamin D status was defined as less than 11 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) at birth and less than 25 ng/mL during early childhood.

The researchers22 compared those with low levels of vitamin D to children who were born with adequate levels. They found that children with low levels had about a 60% higher risk of elevated systolic blood pressure from ages 6 to 18.

Children who experienced persistently low levels throughout childhood were at double the risk of elevated systolic blood pressure between ages 3 and 18.23 Lead author Guoying Wang, Ph.D.,24 an assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins University, commented on the implications:25

“Currently, there are no recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to screen all pregnant women and young children for vitamin D levels. Our findings raise the possibility that screening and treatment of vitamin D deficiency with supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood might be an effective approach to reduce high blood pressure later in life.”

Vitamin D and estrogen may reduce metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of physiological symptoms associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.26

While having just one of these symptoms does not mean you have metabolic syndrome, it might mean you have a greater risk of serious disease. Metabolic syndrome also goes by the terms dysmetabolic syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, obesity syndrome and Syndrome X.27

The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases as women reach menopause, which may somewhat explain accelerated levels of heart disease after menopause.28 Scientists have theorized that these changes may be related to ovarian failure or the redistribution of fat to the stomach area, which is associated with estrogen deficiency.29

The combination of adequate vitamin D levels and normal estrogen levels have been well-documented as improving bone health.30 In a recent study,31 researchers found data to suggest that the same combination may help prevent metabolic syndrome.

They wrote that metabolic syndrome affects 30% to 60% of postmenopausal women globally. This has led some to recommend estradiol treatments for the first six years after menopause, to help prevent heart disease.

In that study,32 researchers looked at a cross-section of 616 postmenopausal women who were 49 to 86 years old and not taking estrogen, vitamin D or calcium supplements. At the end of the data collection period, they took blood samples to measure estrogen and vitamin D levels.

They found that higher levels of vitamin D were positively correlated with healthier blood pressure measurements, glucose levels and lipid profiles. The data also revealed that low estrogen levels increased the risk of metabolic syndrome in those who also had low vitamin D. They believe the results suggest33 a synergistic role between vitamin D and estrogen deficiencies in postmenopausal metabolic syndrome.

Vitamin D insufficiency may affect more than 75%

A simple math error accounts for one reason there are inaccuracies in the amount of vitamin D that is believed to be necessary to maintain good health. As pointed out in a 2014 paper,34 the then Institute of Medicine (which underwent a name change to the National Academy of Medicine in 2015)35 underestimated the need by a factor of 10 due to a miscalculation.

If corrected, the official recommendation would become 6,000 IUs a day for adults, not 600; however, the Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000.36 According to data published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,37 75% of American adults and teens are deficient in vitamin D, based on a sufficiency level of 30 ng/mL.

Insufficiency affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide38 and may be attributed to lifestyle activities, such as a reduced number of hours spent outside in the sun. Environmental factors are also at play, relating to air pollution reducing our exposure to sunlight. A low vitamin D level is an independent risk factor for various chronic diseases.

The only way to definitively identify a vitamin D deficiency is through blood testing. However, some general signs and symptoms may tell you it’s time to be proactive. You'll find a discussion in my past article, “Top 5 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency.”

Risk factors for low vitamin D levels include rarely spending time outdoors or always wearing sunscreen when you are, having dark skin pigmentation, being older than 50, being obese and having gastrointestinal problems. While regular, sensible sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D status, those in northern climates may need an oral supplement, especially during the winter months.

The only way to gauge how much supplement you need is to have your levels tested, ideally twice a year. Test once in the early spring, after the winter months to ensure you took enough supplement throughout the winter, and again in the early fall when your level is at its peak. You are aiming for a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL, with 40 ng/mL being the lowest cutoff for sufficiency.39,40 In fact, new research in 2018 showed that the optimal levels for cancer prevention are between 60 and 80.

Deficiency increases the risk of cancer and mortality

Although some may struggle with the concept that just one vitamin may have a significant impact on your health, wellness and longevity,41 or that vitamin D deficiency is problematic,42 there is ample research with evidence to the contrary. As I mentioned earlier, low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased risk for some cancers,43,44,45 bowel conditions,46,47 and skin conditions48 It also has a negative impact on your immune system.49

Vitamin D insufficiency is strongly associated with increased mortality. An epigenetic mortality risk score, developed based on whole blood DNA methylation, was used in one study50 aimed at determining whether vitamin D status was associated with this risk.

Another aim of the study was also to see if vitamin D and the mortality risk score could be used together to predict all-cause mortality in a general population of older adults. The researchers measured 1,467 participants whose ages ranged from 50 to 75. They found the combination was in fact a good indicator of the likelihood of all-cause mortality.51

Although a number of anticancer properties for vitamin D have been proposed, data suggest the metabolism and function of vitamin D is dysregulated in many types of cancers. Researchers believe this contributes to the development and progression of cancer. This means that understanding this dysregulation and function of vitamin D in cancer is of great importance.52

In addition to affecting cancers and all-cause mortality, low levels of vitamin D may also trigger dry eye syndrome53 and macular degeneration.54 I also believe vitamin D can have a beneficial impact on all autoimmune diseases. Many studies55,56,57 have found a strong link between multiple sclerosis and vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays a role in inflammatory rheumatic diseases,58 such as rheumatoid arthritis. According to one study,59 many with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have presented with some level of vitamin D deficiency, defined in the study as a level of 10 ng/mL or less, or insufficiency defined between 10 and 30 ng/mL.

As reported in another study, an elderly person who has a low vitamin D level may have “a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's.”60 Some scientists have also found links between depression and vitamin D deficiency61 and the impact low levels have on insulin resistance leading to Type 2 diabetes.62

D3 and K2 protect your arteries from calcification

While vitamin D is essential for good health and is best obtained from sensible sun exposure, if your levels are not high enough, you may need a supplement. However, it's vital you take vitamin D with sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 (MK7) as both are required to slow the progression of arterial calcification.63

Vitamin D improves bone development by helping you absorb calcium, while vitamin K2 directs the calcium to the skeleton and prevents it from being deposited in the arteries. There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. Vitamin K164 is primarily involved in blood coagulation while K2 has a more diverse range of functions.65

In one long-term study66 of 36,629 participants, researchers found vitamin K2 reduced the risk of peripheral artery disease in those with high blood pressure, but K1 had no effect. Other67 data suggest that the body absorbs vitamin K 10 times more when it is in the form of MK-7.

Vitamin K2 in the MK-7 form has been found to be bioactive. It regulates atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory diseases and osteoporosis.68 Vitamin K2 may lower the risk of damage to the cardiovascular system by activating a protein that prevents calcium from depositing in the walls of your blood vessels.69

If you consider supplementation, it is important to know that vitamin D2 and D3 are not interchangeable. In one study of 335 South Asian and white European women,70,71 researchers found that those taking vitamin D3 experienced twice the effectiveness in raising vitamin D levels in the body as compared to vitamin D2.

According to another data collection72 and analysis of 50 randomized controlled studies in the Cochrane database, researchers found vitamin D3 decreased mortality in elderly women who were in institutions and dependent care. Vitamin D2 did not have any solid effects on mortality.

Astaxanthin: Your internal sunscreen

Maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D through sensible sun exposure is the best way. However, too much sun may be just as much of a problem as too little. You may also want to avoid certain commercial sunscreens because they contain harmful chemicals that are easily absorbed through the skin. When this happens, you are exposed to a range of risks that outweigh the benefits.73,74

One option to consider is the use of astaxanthin, commonly called the “King of the Carotenoids.”75 The carotenoid found in astaxanthin is naturally occurring in a specific type of microalgae and in certain seafoods. The seafood with the highest amount of astaxanthin consume the microalgae, including wild-caught Alaskan salmon and krill.76

One of the benefits of this nutrient is its ability to protect your skin from the sun and to reduce the signs of aging. In one clinical trial77 involving 21 individuals, researchers found that after taking 4 mg of astaxanthin each day for just two weeks, the participants had an average 20% increase in the amount of time needed for UV radiation to redden their skin.

One study78 set out to evaluate the effects of supplementation with astaxanthin on UV-induced skin deterioration. Using 23 healthy Japanese participants in a 10-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation, the researchers found those taking astaxanthin had a reduction in loss of moisture. They also had improved skin texture and appeared to experience protective effects against UV skin deterioration.

In another study79 evaluating the effects of radiation on hairless mice, researchers found dietary supplementation with astaxanthin significantly lowered wrinkle formation and water loss. They suggested that the results point to dietary supplementation with astaxanthin as being helpful for protecting the skin and slowing skin aging.

Optimize your vitamin D levels

Remember, it’s best to optimize your vitamin D levels with sunshine rather than oral supplements. Before considering supplementation with vitamins D3 and K2 MK-7 form, first get tested since you can’t know your levels by looking in the mirror. GrassrootsHealth offers a simple combined test for vitamin D and omega-3, which are both important for maintaining optimal health.

While many labs and physicians use 40 ng/mL as a cutoff for vitamin D deficiency, please remember that an ideal level for health and disease prevention is between 60 and 80 ng/mL.80 Once you know your level consider using a simple tool from GrassrootsHealth to estimate the additional amount you need to take to reach your targeted level.

 

Have you tried OMAD diet?

 

 

You don’t have to look far to find options for eating — aka “diets” — designed to help you lose weight, build muscle or otherwise optimize your health. There’s the keto diet, which focuses on burning fat for fuel, the paleo diet, aimed at consuming what our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have eaten, gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan modes of eating, just to name a few.

Now there’s the OMAD diet, the acronym for “one meal a day.” It’s been called an extreme form of intermittent fasting (or 16/8), and involves eating all your nutrients in a one-hour time slot on a daily basis, with nothing else on the menu for the remaining 23 hours other than calorie-free beverage options. Another way it’s referred to is the 23/1 diet.

The premise is that you’ll end up eating less, but proponents, like Estonian-born Siim Land, a high performance coach who’s gained attention on the internet with OMAD advice and recommendations, says weight drops off quicker, and you feel more satiated eating a smaller number of calories.

As a writer, blogger, life coach, social media personality and entrepreneur, Land says his goal is to create more content about optimizing “physiology, mindset and performance — a lot of biohacking, self-improvement and other lifehack types of stuff.”1 He asserts there’s much about fasting that is misunderstood, which makes some people dismiss the concept as simple starvation. He makes two points:

“Starvation is a severe deficiency in energy intake. The body doesn’t have access to essential nutrients and is slowly wasting away by cannibalizing its vital organs. Fasting is a state of metabolic suspension in which you’re not consuming any calories. Despite that, your body is still nourished and gets the energy it needs.”

He recommends a one- to five-day fast or calorie restriction, which will have beneficial rather than detrimental effects. This is because unless someone is severely underweight, most people have enough stored energy to sustain them, and it in fact increases your metabolic rate by 14%.2

OMAD diet: Experts have their say

If you’ve ever found yourself missing a meal or two due to unforeseen circumstances, you may have noticed your functions, both physically and mentally, weren’t firing on all cylinders. It’s been called “hangry,” something we all have experienced.

While Land lists the potential benefits of an OMAD diet, beginning with rapid weight loss, scientific studies on the 23/1 method are very limited, and there are skeptics. According to Refinery29, “This (OMAD) pattern — along with the stringent rules around when you can and can’t eat — could easily harm your relationship to food and eating in the (long term).”3 Further:

“Although you’re technically ‘allowed to’ eat whatever you want during this one meal, you’re still eating way fewer calories (which are units of energy) than you would typically need in a day …

People claim the OMAD diet speeds up weight loss, and is extremely convenient — especially in the summertime when you’re traveling a lot. But, like many internet-famous diet trends, this should come with a massive disclaimer that it's not for everyone, and probably will do more harm than good.”4

Registered dietician, nutritionist and holistic health counselor Robin Foroutan says the OMAD approach is unnecessarily restrictive. She believes a single enormous meal in one sitting can have dire effects on proper digestion and absorption, plus fasting all day long and suppressing intense hunger makes it even more difficult to make healthy food choices. I also believe that timing of when you do all that eating is important, as you certainly don’t want to eat within three hours of bedtime.

SELF5 interviewed Brigitte Zeitlin, a certified nutritionist and registered dietitian, who observed, “Eating regularly throughout the day prevents dips in your energy, keeps you alert and focused.”

Zeitlin adds that without a frequent carb supply, your blood sugar can dip too low, leaving you feeling sluggish, irritated, and feeling like you can’t concentrate. “You are likely to overeat to make up for the lack of calories you took in throughout the day. That can cause nausea, constipation, bloating and exhaustion.”

Medical News Today6 notes that one reason OMAD is so popular is that you don’t need “cheat days” because nothing’s off the table, per se, and counting calories is unnecessary. However, some information from nutritionists and medical experts regarding both intermittent fasting and the OMAD in particular is erroneous,7 which muddies the waters.

Land, whom I plan to interview for an article soon, has studied this in detail, and he says he’s trying to clear that up. HIs book, “Metabolic Autophagy,” covers such topics as intermittent fasting, the OMAD diet and promoting longevity.

What to eat and not to eat on the OMAD diet

Looking at the body’s anabolic-catabolic cycles of nutrition and exercise, Land says, in theory, you could get away with eating junk food and still be healthy because the long period of fasting is a “huge buffering agent.” But, “If you want to lose fat, then eat about 500 to 600 calorie deficit. To gain weight, eat about 300 to 500 extra calories.”8

For people who have no specific physique goals, Land believes percentages of calorie distribution on the OMAD diet could loosely follow his model of 25% to 35% from protein, 40% to 50% from fat, and 10% to 20% from carbs.9 Foods to avoid are:

  • Inflammatory foods such as grains, processed meats such as hot dogs, trans fats and sugar
  • Allergenic foods that contain lectins, such as tomatoes, beans and bell peppers; also gluten and soy
  • Liquid calories, including soda, juice and alcoholic beverages
  • Foods that cause constipation or bloating, including cheese, dairy, beans, grains and legumes

Foods that would be acceptable and even desirable on the OMAD plan include:

  • “Whole food complete proteins,” as they come with all the essential nutrients you need, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, as well as organic, pastured eggs, fish, chicken and organic, grass fed meats, including organ meats
  • Healthy vegetables and fermented foods to improve your gut health and get 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day, such as sauerkraut and kombucha
  • Herbs and spices, especially thyme, dill, fennel seeds, rosemary, coriander and arugula
  • Healthy fats which include olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, nuts and seeds

Advantages and risks of fasting

Although there are intermittent fasting studies on men, there aren’t many that have involved women. Hormonal cycles and different nutritional requirements may introduce some differences. According to Medical News Today,10 women need more iron, and fasting may not adequately fulfill their need. However, fasting may help to:

  • Lower blood sugar levels and decrease weight11
  • Optimize eating and sleeping cycles for obese people and increase their life expectancy12
  • Benefit both your heart and verbal memory performance13

In 2010 researchers conducted a five-year study14 involving adolescent girls and found that fasting for 24 hours for weight control “would be a more potent predictor of binge eating and bulimic pathology onset than dietary restraint.” They concluded that such measures would increase the risk of bulimic episodes and other types of binge eating. However, skipping food for 24 hours is not what OMAD suggests.

Especially since OMAD has been identified as an extreme diet plan, possible risks have also been assessed, and some of those risks include extreme hunger and shakiness, weakness, fatigue, irritability and “foggy” thought processes. Certain people are advised not to try the OMAD method, including pregnant and nursing mothers, those with eating disorders such as anorexia, and people with diabetes.15

Comparing OMAD, intermittent fasting and the ‘warrior diet’

Whether discussing OMAD, intermittent fasting or the warrior diet,16 there are pros and cons to consider, according to Land, as discussed in the video:

  • Intermittent fasting is described by Land as being easy for beginners. It allows 16 hours for digestion and increases mental clarity. However, the timeframes may not be long enough to trigger significant autophagy, a natural process required to renew damaged cells, and the actual fasting state only begins when your food has digested. Additionally, hunger, sugar cravings and “cheating” may derail the process during your eight-hour eating time.
  • The warrior diet, which entails fasting most of the day, causes you to lose fat more easily and go deeper into ketosis. It’s easier because you have fewer cravings; you can eat a lot without worrying about calories; autophagy increases and digestion may improve. But the cons include more difficulty with strength and resistance training; a possible struggle with too much coffee and other stimulants; binge eating and possibly muscle loss as a result; and jeopardized sleep.
  • OMAD makes fat easy to lose and autophagy and mental clarity more readily acquired; Land says hunger practically disappears; your digestive system has more time to work; your body becomes more efficient at utilizing nutrients and you can eat more carbs while maintaining ketosis.

As for the cons of OMAD, Land says muscle is harder to build and protein synthesis is harder to gain; consuming the calories you need in such a small window is difficult and may lead to bloating and discomfort; sleep quality may suffer eating close to bedtime and the diet may cause metabolic stress if maintained for too long.

“OMAD and the warrior diet are definitely not optimal for muscle growth or resistance training, but they’re still very effective for maintenance and fat loss,” Land says. “At the minimum, I would still recommend (that you) stick to a daily eating schedule and try to consume all your calories within at least eight to 10 hours.” It benefits your circadian rhythm, he adds, as well as reducing insulin resistance and increasing metabolic effects and glucose tolerance.

Land: More observations of OMAD

After being on a combined OMAD and warrior diet for “at least three or four years,” Land says he’s never felt better. His reply to OMAD naysayers is that it’s not the “one hour” factor that makes people get sick, but their current lifestyle factors, including overeating, poor sleep and lack of exercise. However, he says, OMAD does have caveats:

“If you suffer from chronic stress, then eating once a day isn’t going to save you. If your nutrition in general isn’t nutrient intense — you’re not getting enough essential nutrients within that small time frame of OMAD, then, yes, it … might not inherently damage your health, but it won’t be as optimal as it could be.”

He maintains that if you’ve researched longevity and autophagy — a natural process triggered by intermittent fasting that’s required to renew damaged cells — intermittent fasting is the best thing you can do to prevent disease and slow the aging process. In fact, unless you’re a high-performance athlete, eating once a day is something to opt for, as “There’ isn’t any real physiological reason to be eating any more frequently.”

“It’s actually the opposite of what happens with a lot of frequent meals with a bunch of carbs and not controlling your other macronutrients,” Land says, adding that unhealthy eating keeps your body in a continuous fat state and doesn’t allow it to repair itself.

If an OMAD diet doesn’t currently appeal to you, he suggests starting with a standard 16/8 intermittent fasting diet, restricting your food intake to an eight-hour window. Either way, you should optimize your eating plans to maximize your results.

One rule is to limit your fasts, though; extended fasts aren’t recommended. If you’re doing a 16/8 but also including a 48-hour fast every week, or a three-day fast every week or so, he says, it balances itself out.

Top tips for sticking to an OMAD diet

OMAD is a “pretty effective strategy for doing intermittent fasting and losing weight,” Land says. Centering your calorie intake into one to two hours of your day may be a simple concept, “but some people can still mess it up.” For them, the above video offers Land’s top 10 tips to help with the OMAD diet:

  1. Go for long walks — Because your glycogen is already low and you’re producing ketones, walking in a fasting state is a great way to burn more fat.
  2. Drink salted water in the morning — A glass of water with a pinch of sea salt lowers your cortisol and helps with stress, digestion and gut health.
  3. Postpone caffeine — Drinking caffeine right after waking up stimulates cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone, sometimes referred to as nature’s built-in alarm clock. Wait two to three hours for naturally lower cortisol levels.
  4. Stay productive — With fasting you’re not wasting time eating (or thinking about it). Fasting increases focus and alertness while eliminating distractions.
  5. Avoid artificial sweeteners — Avoiding artificial sweeteners altogether is important if you have trouble controlling cravings but avoiding sugar itself is paramount. Stevia is a natural sweetener that doesn’t raise your glucose index.
  6. Train at the end of your fast — It preserves more muscle mass and benefits your body’s composition. Plus, your body needs the fuel before the workout.
  7. Plan your OMAD meal — If you reach for whatever you find in the refrigerator, you’ll likely compromise with “randomness, cluelessness and potentially bingeing.”
  8. Eat your OMAD early — While there’s no difference metabolically what time you eat, eating too late is notorious for compromising your sleep.
  9. Focus on nutrient-dense foods — During the few hours of eating, whether it’s a six- or one-hour window, healthy food intake is crucial.
  10. Change up your routine — While OMAD is quite effective, changing your eating times keeps your body more metabolically flexible.

Ways to approach the OMAD diet

How can you take in all the calories you need in a day in just one hour? I’m challenged by the concept, but especially if you’re working out, you would need to eat around 3,000 calories in one meal. Personally, I wouldn’t do it regularly or for an extended length of time; I like eating over a longer period.

Intermittent fasting is a better approach, because you have four to six hours to eat. That may not be a lot, but it’s better than restricting it to just one hour. However, if you’re intrigued by the concept of eating one meal a day in a short window of time, shrinking the window gradually might be a good way to get started.

If necessary, you could first try restricting your eating time within a six- or eight-hour window, then lower it to four or six hours, then to three before cutting it down to just one meal a day. However, some eat their one meal as dinner, which for some people is 6 p.m., 7 p.m. or even 8 p.m. But I wouldn’t choose to eat my one meal at that time of day; as I’ve said many times, it’s not good to eat right before bed.

Choosing your OMAD within an hour or two following an early-morning workout would be best. Tackling the one-meal-a-day regimen to build your muscles and maximize your catabolism involves the breakdown of nutrient molecules into the usable forms or building blocks, according to the scientific journal Nature Education. In essence:

“In this process, energy is either stored in energy molecules for later use, or released as heat. Anabolic pathways then build new molecules out of the products of catabolism, and these pathways typically use energy. The new molecules built via anabolic pathways (macromolecules) are useful for building cell structures and maintaining the cell.”17

When implementing a fasting regimen, your body begins to downregulate protein catabolism and upregulates growth hormones in response. In fact, Jason Fung, a Canadian kidney specialist who co-wrote “The Complete Guide to Fasting,” notes that your body never upregulates its protein catabolism or burns muscle. Instead, fasting kick-starts the burning of glycogen, aka sugar, in your liver, after which you begin burning fat as your fast continues.18

 

Weekly health quiz — EMFs, collagen and lead

 

 

1 Which of the following supplements has been shown to improve skin elasticity, hydration and dermal collagen density in older women?

  • Vitamin D2
  • Calcium
  • Probiotics
  • Collagen

    Oral collagen supplements have been shown to improve skin elasticity, hydration and collagen density in the dermis of older women. Learn more.

2 In 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court indemnified vaccine makers against lawsuits for vaccine injuries, the Court also ruled that government licensed vaccines are:

  • "Unavoidably unsafe"

    Congress officially acknowledged that vaccines can injure and kill in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that government licensed vaccines are "unavoidably unsafe." Today, well-referenced, factual information about vaccine risks and failures is automatically labeled as "misinformation" so it can be censored. Learn more.

  • "Unequivocally safe for all"
  • "Unsafe under all circumstances"
  • "Probably safe"

3 The following neurotoxin — known to cause cognitive and behavioral deficits — is still commonly found in homes built before 1978:

  • Methylmercury
  • Lead

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates as many as 24 million U.S. residences built before 1978 still contain lead, a potent neurotoxin known to cause cognitive and behavioral deficits. Learn more.

  • Asbestos
  • Radon

4 The following is one of the best things you can say to someone struggling with a cancer diagnosis:

  • Cheer up. Everything will be OK
  • Everything happens for a reason; it's all part of a greater plan
  • This must be a hard thing to go through

    Former cancer patients recommend not trying to relate to their suffering by comparing it to something you've experienced, telling them to look for the silver lining or suggesting that everything happens for a reason. Instead, ask what they need and offer help. "This must be a hard thing to go through" acknowledges their suffering and opens the door to let them talk about their fears and concerns. Learn more.

  • I know just how you feel. My mother went through the same thing two years ago

5 It's important to consider the purpose your new evergreen plants will serve in your garden since:

  • Some prefer acidic soil and others alkaline soil
  • They come in a variety of sizes from 1 foot tall to well over 60 feet
  • Some prefer to be out of strong wind and others provide a windbreak
  • All of the above

    It's important to consider the purpose your new evergreen plants will serve in your garden since they don't all prefer the same type of soil, some are dwarf plants and others grow well over 60 feet tall and some varieties must be kept out of strong wind. Learn more.

6 Common threats to public health include

  • the wide use of statins
  • fluoride in drinking water
  • the wide use of high fructose corn syrup
  • all of the above

    Fluoride in drinking water, high fructose corn syrup and the overuse of statins represent serious threats to public health. Learn more.

7 Which of the following appears to be a significant contributor to autism, and needs to be addressed if you have a child with autism?

  • Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure

    EMF exposure appears to be a significant contributor to autism, and many children improve when EMF exposures are addressed and minimized. Learn more.

  • Vitamin A and E deficiency
  • Glycine overload
  • Exercise deficiency

 

Benefits of Moringa compared to broccoli

 

 

Science has proven food can be potent medicine. Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it's one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around. While it contains several health-promoting compounds, one of the most widely studied is the isothiocyanate sulforaphane.1

The cancer-fighting properties of sulforaphane are perhaps the most well-known,2 but it has also been shown to benefit your heart3 and brain, boosting detoxification4 and helping prevent and/or treat high blood pressure,5 Alzheimer's6 and even autism7,8,9 and schizophrenia.10,11,12

Moringa — another brassica superfood

moringa microgreens

Another plant with many similar benefits is Moringa (Moringa oleifera), also known as horseradish tree or drumstick tree. While it looks nothing like broccoli, it is part of the brassica family and is considered a vegetable,13 despite growing like a tree.

I recently planted hundreds of organic Moringa seeds in my garden. You can see a few of them in the photo above. I don't plan on letting them grow to trees but rather have them densely planted and will harvest them as microgreens for my salad (see image above). Organic Moringa seeds are easy to obtain on Amazon but they only grow in subtropical climates.

Virtually every part of the plant is edible and has medicinal qualities, and most parts can be consumed either raw or cooked. Globally, the leaves, roots, pods and flowers are most typically consumed.14 You can also harvest the plant as a microgreen, which is what I plan on doing.

As noted in the mini-review "Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera," published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (APJCP) in 2014:15

"Moringa oleifera is a multi-purpose herbal plant used as human food and an alternative for medicinal purposes worldwide. It has been identified by researchers as a plant with numerous health benefits including nutritional and medicinal advantages.

Moringa oleifera contains essential amino acids, carotenoids in leaves, and components with nutraceutical properties … An important factor that accounts for the medicinal uses of Moringa oleifera is its very wide range of vital antioxidants, antibiotics and nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Almost all parts from Moringa can be used as a source for nutrition with other useful values."

Moringa is an excellent source of protein (dried leaves containing 30.3% crude protein and 19 amino acids16), fatty acids (44.57% being a-linolenic acid17), beta-carotene, phenolics, zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, kaempferol,18 flavonoids and isothiocyanates.19

As noted in a 2011 paper20 on the nutritional composition of Moringa leaves, "The values of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamin profiles reflect a desirable nutritional balance." A 2007 paper in Phytotherapy Research describes Moringa's benefits, noting that:21

"… [T]he leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, antiinflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine …"

Other studies22 report Moringa can help protect liver, kidney, heart, testes and lung health, has analgesic and antiulcer activity, offers protection against radiation, and helps modulate your immune system. Research has also confirmed Moringa has a very high degree of safety,23 although high doses of seed extracts, specifically, may have toxic effects.24

Like broccoli, Moringa contains potent anticancer compounds

Studies have shown sulforaphane found in broccoli supports normal cell function and division while causing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in colon,25 liver,26,27 prostate,28 breast29 and tobacco-induced lung cancer.30

Similarly, many of the health benefits of Moringa — which include the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases, neurodysfunctional diseases, diabetes and cancer — are also attributed to its glucosinolate31 and isothiocyanate32 content. The isothiocyanate in Moringa is called moringin.33 A 2018 paper34 in Scientific Reports reviewed the chemoprotective glucosinolates found in 12 species of Moringa, pointing out that:

"Glucosinolates (GS) are metabolized to isothiocyanates that may enhance human healthspan by protecting against a variety of chronic diseases …

We assess leaf, seed, stem, and leaf gland exudate GS content of 12 of the 13 known Moringa species … We document potent chemoprotective potential in 11 of 12 species, and measure the cytoprotective activity of 6 purified GS in several cell lines. Some of the unique GS rank with the most powerful known inducers of the phase 2 cytoprotective response.

Although extracts of most species induced a robust phase 2 cytoprotective response in cultured cells, one was very low (M. longituba), and by far the highest was M. arborea, a very rare and poorly known species …

Overall, cytoprotective enzyme inducer potency for 11 of 12 Moringa leaf extracts was comparable to that observed for broccoli seeds, which are the most potent plant source of this activity."

As explained in the Scientific Reports paper,35 glucosinolates are metabolized into active isothiocyanates by an enzyme called myrosinase. Myrosinate also produces the isothiocyanate moringin,36 a compound in Moringa also known as 4RBITC (after its chemical name, 4-(alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate). Like sulforaphane in broccoli, moringin has potent anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects.37

The isothiocyanate-related health benefits from cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and Moringa can thus be effectively augmented by pairing it with a myrosinase-containing food38 such as mustard seed39 (the most potent), daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula or coleslaw.

Moringa also has potent antibiotic activity

Like broccoli, Moringa has also been shown to have potent antibiotic activity against a wide variety of pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Candida and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).40

One significant benefit of Moringa over broccoli, however, is its economic viability. While broccoli is difficult to grow, Moringa is extremely hardy, drought resistant and easy to grow. As such, it offers valuable benefits to underserved populations worldwide where health care and Western medicines, including something as basic as antibiotics, are hard to come by.41 As noted in Scientific Reports:42

"… (4RBITC), the isothiocyanate created by hydrolysis of 'glucomoringin' … from M. oleifera is a potent and selective antibiotic against H. pylori.

Other studies have shown that the antibiotic activity of 4RBITC from M. oleifera is selective and potent against other important human pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. It also appears to be effective in controlling certain manifestations of both ALS and multiple sclerosis in mouse models.

A growing number of epidemiologic, animal, and clinical studies link dietary glucosinolates and their cognate isothiocyanates to protection against chronic diseases including a variety of cancers, diabetes, and autism spectrum disorder via the Keap1-Nrf2-ARE-mediated induction of phase 2 cytoprotective enzymes.

The coordinated Nrf2-mediated upregulation of this large group of enzymes is responsible for the very important indirect antioxidant activity of these isothiocyanates."

A 2005 study43 in Planta Medica, the effectiveness of several different isothiocyanates were compared to see which offered the most potent protection against H. pylori. Of the isothiocyanates tested, sulforaphane and moringin (4RBITC) were the most effective. As noted by the authors:44

"[W]e showed for the first time that ITCs other than sulforaphane also exhibit a potent effect against H. pylori … Among the compounds tested in the present study, 4RBITC and sulforaphane exhibited the highest inhibitory activity against H. pylori."

Moringa, a potent influenza remedy

Another component Moringa shares with broccoli, quercetin, is a plant flavonol that packs a powerful antiviral punch, combats inflammation and acts as a natural antihistamine. Quercetin (which is also available in supplement form) has been used to ameliorate obesity, Type 2 diabetes, circulatory dysfunction, chronic inflammation and mood disorders.45

As noted in one paper,46 "the most obvious feature of quercetin is its strong antioxidant activity which potentially enables it to quench free radicals from forming resonance-stabilized phenoxyl radicals."

A number of studies have also highlighted quercetin's ability to prevent and treat both the common cold47 and influenza,48 making it a safe alternative to antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu (a risky drug49 that does not reduce viral transmission and does not lower your risk of complications from the flu, such as pneumonia.50,51)

For example, a 2010 animal study found that quercetin inhibits both influenza A and B viruses. Importantly, they also discovered the viruses were unable to develop resistance to quercetin. What's more, when used concomitantly with antiviral drugs (amantadine or oseltamivir), the effect was significantly amplified, while preventing drug-resistance from developing.52 Quercetin has also been shown to be effective against:

  • "Bird flu" (H5N153)
  • "Swine flu" (H1N154,55 and H3N256)57
  • Herpes simplex virus type 1, polio-virus type 1, parainfluenza virus type 3 and respiratory syncytial virus58
  • Hepatitis B59 and C60,61
  • Dengue62

Moringa — even better than broccoli?

While broccoli and Moringa share many similarities, and offer many of the same health benefits, Moringa comes out on top in terms of economics. It's far easier to grow, even under challenging conditions, making it an excellent option in areas plagued by drought and other environmental challenges.

The fact that you can eat more or less the whole tree in a variety of different ways also makes it an attractive option. The long seed pods, colloquially known as Moringa drumsticks, are a common staple in Indian cuisine. For information and a few sample recipes, see NDTV Food's website.63

As mentioned earlier, you can also harvest these seeds, sow them, and harvest them like microgreens, i.e., while they're small like sprouts. For a quick review of how to do this, see the video below. For guidance on how to grow Moringa trees, see my previous article, "How to Grow Moringa Tree."

 

How to Cook Rice

 

 

Rice, whether long-, medium- or short-grain, is a staple in countries like India, China, Philippines, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam,1 Spain2 and Italy.3 It can be enjoyed savory or sweet4 and pairs well with various ingredients. Some common types of rice include white, brown, black, instant and wild, although you may also encounter other “special” types of rice like jasmine, basmati, Arborio, black japonica and mochi.5

 

What happens to your body when you’re dehydrated

 

 

Dehydration is a health concern that should never be ignored. Anyone can become dehydrated for various reasons, so it is important that you always hydrate yourself with filtered water. Read on to learn more about symptoms of dehydration and how you can prevent it.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration happens when you've lost too much water without replacing it, preventing your body from performing its normal functions.1 Remember that water makes up nearly 50% to 60% of your body, depending on your gender.2 It plays a large part in many bodily functions, such as lubricating your joints and retaining moisture in your eyes, keeping your skin healthy, eliminating toxins and facilitating proper digestion.

Proper intake of fluids is also vital for kidney function3 so, every time your body loses water, you need to replace those fluids to maintain balance between the salts, glucose and other minerals in your system.4

If you become dehydrated, drastic changes in your body can immediately occur. Research has shown that even mild dehydration can decrease brain tissue fluid, which can result in changes in brain volume.5 Your blood becomes more viscous as well, straining your cardiovascular system and putting you at risk of health issues like thrombogenesis.6 Dehydration also compromises your body's ability to regulate your temperature.7

Losing just 1% to 2% of your entire water content can cause thirstiness, a sign that you need to replenish the lost liquids.8 Mild dehydration can easily be treated but if it reaches extreme levels, it can be life-threatening and will require immediate medical attention.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Here are the mild and severe symptoms of dehydration, according to the Mayo Clinic:9

Mild to moderate dehydration

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Minimal urine
  • Dry, cool skin10
  • Muscle cramps

Severe dehydration

  • Extreme thirst
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry skin that doesn't bounce back when you pinch it
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • Little or no urination, and any urine color that is darker than usual
  • In serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Infants and children are more vulnerable to dehydration. HealthyChildren.org notes that immediate attention must be given to these age groups if they exhibit the following symptoms:11

Mild to moderate dehydration

  • Urinates less frequently (for infants, fewer than six wet diapers per day)
  • Plays less than usual
  • Parched, dry mouth
  • Fewer tears when crying
  • Sunken soft spot on the head (fontanelle)
  • Loose stools (if dehydration is caused by diarrhea). If dehydration is due to fluid loss, there will be fewer bowel movements

Severe dehydration

  • Very fussy
  • Excessively sleepy
  • Sunken eyes
  • Cool, discolored hands and feet
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Urinates only once or twice a day

Chronic dehydration can affect your organs and lead to kidney stones,12 constipation13 and electrolyte imbalances that may result in seizures.14 Whether it is mild, moderate or severe dehydration, the liquids lost from your body must be immediately replaced. If you become dehydrated and begin experiencing symptoms like those mentioned here, get professional treatment as soon as possible.

What causes dehydration?

There are various reasons why dehydration occurs, and the causes can be a result of both losing too many fluids and not taking in enough. For example, intense physical activity can cause you to sweat profusely and lose substantial amounts of water, so proper hydration is necessary to replenish what you've lost. Medical News Today says other causes of dehydration include:15

  • Diarrhea — This condition prevents your intestinal tract from absorbing water from the foods that you eat, making it the most common cause of dehydration.
  • Vomiting — Common causes include foodborne illnesses, nausea and alcohol poisoning.
  • Sweating — Vigorous sweating may occur for various reasons, such as if you have a fever, work in hot environments or engage in intense physical activity.
  • Diabetes Having high blood sugar levels can cause frequent urination and, subsequently, extreme loss of fluids in your cells, leading to dehydration.
  • Frequent urination — Nondiabetics may urinate frequently because of alcohol intake or from taking certain drugs like antihistamines, blood pressure medications and antipsychotics. Too much caffeine intake can cause you to urinate more frequently, too.16

Who is at risk of dehydration?

Everyone is prone to dehydration, but some people have a higher risk for it, such as those who engage in strenuous exercise. One example is mountain climbing. It is especially hard for hikers to stay hydrated because the pressure at high altitudes makes them sweat more and breathe harder.17

Professional athletes, particularly those who compete in marathons, triathlons and cycling tournaments, are also predisposed to dehydration. Research suggests that even low levels of dehydration can impair athletes' cardiovascular and thermoregulatory response.18

One study even revealed that dehydration can impair basketball players' performance. The study focused on 17 males ranging from 17 to 28 years old, and determined their performance based on different dehydration levels of up to 4%. The result showed that when there's an increase in dehydration, skill performance decreases.19

Infants are especially prone to dehydration since their bodies are composed of 78% water at birth, dropping to about 65% by age 1.20 Since their bodies are more vulnerable to water depletion, their need for water is greater than adults.

Elderly people are also at risk for dehydration since the thirst mechanism weakens as a person grows older. According to a 2016 study,21 20% of seniors are not getting enough water every day due to several causes, ranging from forgetfulness to a desire to fight incontinence by consuming fewer fluids, to simply being too frail to care for their personal needs.

Those who have chronic diseases that cause frequent urination such as diabetes or kidney problems have an increased risk of dehydration.22 If you have a chronic illness that causes dehydration, make sure to take the necessary steps to hydrate yourself at all times to protect your health.

How to prevent dehydration

Water plays such an immense role in your bodily functions, making it an essential part of your everyday life. Since dehydration can be life-threatening, it is important that you replenish your body with water immediately if you feel yourself becoming dehydrated.

Always bring water with you during exercise or any physical activity, especially when the temperature's too hot. One good rule of thumb to prevent dehydration is to drink as much water as it takes for your urine to turn light yellow. Dark urine means that your kidneys are retaining liquids in an effort to have enough for your body to perform its normal functions.

It is especially important to pay attention if you are sick with fever, are vomiting or have diarrhea, so you don't become dehydrated. Be sure to drink enough water to replace the liquids that you've lost. If you are vomiting or have diarrhea to the point that you can't drink enough to stay hydrated, you may need to visit an emergency department for help in maintaining hydration.

Sports drinks and other sweetened beverages will not keep you hydrated

Sports drinks are one of the most commercialized beverages today — from TV advertisements to popular athlete endorsers, mainstream media make it look like sports drinks are the answer to keeping you healthy and well-hydrated.

Beverage companies advertise that these drinks will help replenish the electrolytes in your body during exercise or outdoor activities, but the truth is the drinks with actual science studies behind them were created for high-performance athletes who deplete their water stores quickly, not for the average person looking to address thirst issues.

Indeed, downing too many of these drinks may even be detrimental to your health — particularly if they fall in a class of beverages known as "energy" drinks.23

A typical sports or energy drink contains high amounts of citric acid. According to a 2017 study from The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences, drinking sports or energy drinks that have citric acid can chip away the enamel in your teeth faster, leading to dental erosion.24 Sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade also come loaded with sugar — a BMJ study25 reported 19 grams and 30 grams, respectively, for a 500 mL (about 17 ounces) bottle of these two beverages.

Aside from sports drinks, there are other sweetened beverages that won't give you any benefit, like sodas. These are equally unhealthy for you, as a 20-ounce bottle of cola gives you 16 teaspoons of sugar, usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.26

Energy drinks come with their own set of problems: Consumed by 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults, these drinks are supplemented with ingredients hyped as energy boosters. From dangerous levels of caffeine to taurine to herbs and various sugars, what's in these drinks can cause "seizures, mania, stroke and sudden death" when consumed, and are a risk especially for anyone who is diabetic, has a heart, thyroid or kidney disease, or is taking certain medications.27

Commercial fruit juices are another group of heavily processed sweetened drinks that have too many sugars and not enough value to make them useful for hydrating purposes. For example, a 12-ounce can of Minute Maid's 100% Apple Juice contains 37 grams of sugar,28 which can put you at risk of diabetes, weight gain and obesity.

Choose to drink living water

If you're on a community water system, don't just turn on the tap and fill a glass or water bottle, as it may very well contain fluoride, as well as heavy metals and disinfection byproducts that can have ill effects on your health. Installing a water filter in your home, both at the tap and preferably also at the point of entrance, can help eliminate these harmful contaminants.

If you want the best water for you and your family, I suggest drinking structured or "living" water, such as deep spring water. According to Gerald Pollack, one of the world's leading research scientists on the physics of water, structured water or EZ "exclusion zone" water is the same type of water found in your body's cells. It has a negative charge, and works just like a battery by holding and delivering energy.

Since distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline, you should nourish your body only with structured water, as it contains the ideal PH range of 6.5 to 7.5, which enables your body to maintain a balanced and whole state.

I personally drink vortexed water since I became a fan of Viktor Schauberger, who did so much work regarding vortexing many years ago.29 By creating a vortex in your glass of water, you are putting energy into it and increasing EZ as well.

Ideal EZ water can be found in glacial melt, but since it is practically inaccessible for almost everyone, natural deep spring water is a good source. When storing water, use glass jugs and avoid plastic bottles since they contain bisphenol A and phthalates, which are linked to health issues, such as sexual dysfunction and disruption of thyroid hormone levels.30,31

Other natural thirst-quenchers for preventing dehydration

If you want to drink something more flavorful than water, you can opt for raw, organic green juice made from fresh vegetables. However, I recommend refraining from drinking juice with too many fruits as it will have high amounts of sugar and calories. Go for a green juice recipe that combines one or two fruits only and larger amounts of greens like spinach, celery or kale. That way, you can minimize your sugar intake and still get all the nutrients from the fruits and vegetables in their purest forms.

I advise keeping your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. If you have Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance or heart disease, it is wise to minimize your total fructose to 15 grams daily, including that from fruits.

Coconut water serves as a great replacement for sports drinks. It provides optimal health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory32 and antioxidant33 effects. A word of caution: Coconut water also contains sugar, albeit in smaller amounts compared to other fruits, so drink it in moderation, preferably after a cardio workout, when you need to replace minerals and fluids.

The key to avoiding dehydration: Listen to your body

No one but you can determine if you are hydrated enough. If you feel thirsty or you're sweating profusely, this is a signal that you need to replenish your body with water immediately. Don't wait for severe dehydration symptoms to occur before you take action, since this can be life-threatening.

Since anyone can become dehydrated even without any physical activity, keeping a bottle of filtered water nearby can help keep you hydrated. Remember that a healthy person should urinate seven to eight times each day, so if you're not urinating frequently it means you're not drinking enough water.

Remember: Nothing feels more refreshing than drinking cool water to replace the liquids that you've lost. It's also important to always listen to your body. Once you feel that urge to drink, opt for structured or filtered water rather than artificially sweetened beverages, which can have negative effects on your health.

 

Effects of electromagnetic fields on human health

 

 

Peter Sullivan, who has a master's degree in computer science with an emphasis on human-computer interaction, is the founder of Clear Light Ventures, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the health effects of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure.

Before founding Clear Light Ventures in 2007, he worked for several different Silicon Valley companies, including Netflix, where he worked his way up from a troubleshooter in customer support to a principal software designer at Netflix.

"My passion in the mid-'90s … was personal technology … I had all the gadgets," Sullivan says. "I even had some of the wearable tech in the mid-'90s … I was writing papers about this at Stanford. I was getting exposure to these things way earlier than most people.

Also … when I was working at Interwoven, I was next to a military base … the Onizuka Air Force Station. Turns out there was a space radar under this blue cube. I was getting really hammered by the space radar … I was doing everything right health-wise. I was eating well. I was exercising. Yet my health just kept declining.

I kept having issues with fatigue, etc. I would say the exposure that people are getting now, I was getting probably about 10 years ago. It took me a long time to figure it out … We're all making this mistake and making assumptions …

I said, 'I need to really be objective. I don't want to be that person who doesn't look at their own stuff.' I started including EMF in the environmental factors and the health factors that I was looking at … I did it because I started feeling things. My brain was telling me, 'This is all great stuff. It's really fun,' and my body was saying, 'Oh my God. I don't like that' …

I was getting a little bit of tinnitus or microwave hearing … If you're in this camp where your flickering light is annoying you or noise is starting to [become] an issue, you don't like fan noise and these sorts of things … you're probably getting into this realm, especially if you're having sleep disruption."

Searching for the root of his problems

In 2009, he got really diligent about assessing all of his exposures, including exposures to toxins, light, noise, air quality and so on. In the end, he discovered that electrical exposure, by far, was the biggest factor. He also discovered that the biggest loads on his immune system were in his mouth. He had mercury fillings, a root canal and cavitations.

As these dental issues were addressed, his EMF sensitivity improved. "I don't feel pain [in response to EMF exposure] anymore," he says, but he can still sense that a high EMF environment is not ideal. At his worst, between 2009 and 2013, he'd feel the effects simply driving by a cellphone tower. "I'd feel it in my head," he says.

Additional help arrived in the form of building biologist Alex Stadtner, who founded Healthy Building Science Inc. Sullivan started working with him in 2009, learning about magnetic fields, electric fields and wireless radiation. Another instrumental teacher was Dr. Sam Milham, who wrote the book "Dirty Electricity."

"I started measuring things. That was, really, I think, the key tipping point for me — how to manage dirty electricity that was affecting me at night," Sullivan says. "[Milham] is fantastic. He's done some great work. I funded a study that he was working on in schools, which is interesting. He wanted to measure neurotransmitters in children …

He measured a baseline of the kids in school, and then he measured it [after retrofitting the classroom] with a Stetzer meter and Stetzer filters … He noticed that the neurotransmitters changed dramatically. The ones that changed the most were dopamine and phenethylamine (PEA). PEA is related to self-control.

If you're a teacher, you kind of want your kids to have a little bit of self-control. I think even a lot of adults are losing self-control right now, and I think dirty electricity is a very key factor."

Four primary types of EMFs

There are four primary types of EMF exposures: 

  1. AC electric fields at 60 Hz (the "E" component of EMF) from house wiring and corded appliances (especially ungrounded ones; cords that have only two prongs rather than three)
  2. AC magnetic fields at 60 Hz (the "M" component of EMF) from power lines, wiring errors on house wiring, current on grounding paths, and from motors and transformers ("point sources") 
  3. Radio frequencies (RF) from cellphones, smart meters, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in just about everything these days
  4. "Dirty electricity" from transient voltage spikes from 2 to 100 KHz

While you can measure all of these, there's no one single meter that can provide you information about all of these EMFs. For a comprehensive assessment of your exposure, you will need more than one meter.

To understand each of these a bit better, you can think of a magnetic field as field lines generated by an electromagnet. These fields go right through your body. An electric field can be thought of as invisible lighting, as electrons are trying to ground.

"A lot of things, like a normal light next to your bed, even when it's not on, you could think of it as electrons leaking off the power line," he says. Wireless radiation can be thought of as light at a lower frequency than you can see, but pulsing very rapidly. If you could see it, you would see it flickering. Lastly, dirty electricity can be thought of as pollution of all of these other fields.

Common sources of EMFs and what you can do about them

In Sullivan's experience, getting rid of magnetic fields such as transformers and power boxes and cleaning up dirty electricity have been most helpful. Your refrigerator is another common source of magnetic fields. Your choice here is to either turn the appliance off or mover further away from it. With each doubling of the distance, you reduce your exposure by about 75%, Sullivan says, and this goes for electric and radiofrequency fields as well.

Like me, he recommends focusing on cleaning up your bedroom to make sure you sleep well. In fact, one of the most common symptoms of excessive EMF exposure is sleep disruption. "I like to make sure people create space for themselves — kind of an electronic-free zone — around their beds," he says.

One of the most common sources of magnetic fields in a bedroom would be a light-emitting diode (LED) clock radio. If you have one of those, move it to the far end of the room, or better yet, use a battery-powered clock. I use a talking clock, designed for the blind, to avoid light interfering with my melatonin production.

Whatever you do, avoid using your cellphone as your alarm clock. You really do not want your cellphone anywhere near you when sleeping, unless it's either turned off or in airplane mode.

"I'm surprised how much a cellphone can impact you," Sullivan says. "A cellphone even on the other side of the house, when it's on, can really impact the bedroom environment. My wife and I would charge our phones about 50 feet from our bedroom. I've had times when my wife has left it on and I [felt it]. It had an impact when I was really sensitive …

The other thing people have been bringing to the bedroom a lot lately is the fitness trackers and the sleep trackers. The Oura ring can go on airplane mode. Same with the Apple Watch … But a lot of people have been doing the Fitbits.

There are some other trackers that don't even have an option. They're on 24/7. They say it's low-power Bluetooth, but some of these low-power Bluetooths are really high-powered, and they're right next to your skin and body. It's a big factor at night."

As for electric fields, the most common source is the lamp near your bed. "Even when it's not on, it can be leaking off a big electric field," Sullivan warns. The wiring in the wall, and a circuit breaker box on the other side of the wall are other common sources of electric fields.

Today, many homes are also outfitted with a smart meter which, if situated on the other side of the wall, can be a significant problem. In these cases, you'd need to move your bed, or switch to another room for sleeping.

"This is a quick protocol that Dr. Toril Jelter came up with here in California, mostly for autistic kids. What you do is you turn off the wireless sources in the house. You turn off a baby monitor if you have one … Your cordless phone base station — the base station is constantly emitting, like a cell tower — you turn that off and your Wi-Fi. You just turn that off at night to start, ideally more.

At that point, you could still have dirty electricity … in your wiring in the bedroom. You could play around with turning off one or more circuits in the bedroom. Sometimes it would be one circuit for the whole bedroom; sometimes you might have one for the lights around the bottom or the circuit around the bottom where you plug the outlets in …

Go around and find those circuits. Maybe for a couple of weeks, turn those off and see how you sleep. Some people will find that they sleep better right away. That'll help you without spending any money. See how much this is impacting your body.

Again, that's a quick and dirty protocol without measuring. That may give you a nice 80% solution. Then if it feels like it works out well for you, then you can either buy a meter or work with a building biologist or environmental hygienist and all these other experts."

EMF and autism

Sullivan has been particularly passionate about helping the autism community understand the impact of EMF, as two of his own children were mildly on the spectrum. From his perspective, two primary culprits contributing to rising autism rates are glyphosate and EMF exposure.

"We treated [our children] biologically. I had a great doctor in this area. We started looking at toxins and toxic metals … [EMF] was one of the last things I came to. I want parents to realize that, 'Don't fixate on one thing. Don't even fixate just on EMF.'

I want you to look broadly at all these factors that are impacting health, that are increasing the rates of autism, child developmental issues and chronic health issues in general … There a lot of fixation now on vaccine ingredients … but people aren't looking at the 80,000 chemicals in commerce, including pollution, EMF issues and even lifestyle issues, like getting a certain amount of sun and other factors.

We're trying to get people to realize that it's not one thing … It's [about] total load … Our bodies are so resilient that by the time you see a symptom, you've really had multiple things fail … We need to be focusing on infections … mold, chemical toxins, some of the dental stuff we talked about, and food allergies as well. There's a lot going on.

I think the two factors that are most suspect from a rising perspective would be wireless and glyphosate … We've had magnetic fields and electric fields for about 100 years. Why didn't we have autism? What changed in the mid-'80s was we went to DECT digital phones.

We went from these nice, smooth analog signals that our cells are used to dealing with to these pulsed square digital waves that can impact the calcium channels, the vibrational receptors on the outside of the cell. We also switched to power supplies that went from AC to DC … called switching power supplies. They chop up the power in a way that creates little transients … That's essentially dirty electricity.

Instead of having a nice, smooth sine wave, you're getting all these little spikes. Those are biologically active. Those are small from a power perspective…I think that's really the key factor …

A cellphone in your pocket is a big risk factor for sperm damage, including DNA damage. There are about 30 or 40 studies on this … In autism, part of the situation is de novo mutations, mutations that are uninherited. This is a gene that was not in the father or the mother, and now it's in the child. We're looking for one of these factors that could be causing a de novo mutation.

One of the suspects, of course, is [carrying your] cellphone in your pocket. Mostly, it comes from the father's side. So, the dads need to start taking some prenatal or prepregnancy responsibility for their side of the equation to make sure that their sperm is not damaged and mutated. That's a big factor."

Demanding safer technologies

Unfortunately, with the introduction and rollout of 5G, exposure is going to exponentially increase everywhere, including in your own home. Many will end up with transmitters on a utility pole directly outside their house. Eventually, extreme exposure is going to be unavoidable. The question then becomes, can we make the technology safer? Are there any practical solutions? Sullivan says yes, we can, and there are.

"You don't want to fight against these big industries. [Instead], focus on what you want," Sullivan says. "Wouldn't it be ideal if these things actually were as safe as we assumed?

Step 1 is we're going to start quickly avoiding them, especially at night. But step 2 is … safe technology has to become a market requirement. It has to be something that we demand, especially in schools and other environments where we can't control [the exposure]. We have to start asking for reduced exposure.

There's a product in the market right now called Eco-WiFi. It's a special Wi-Fi where the firmware has been adapted so that you can lower the beaconing frequency. The beaconing frequency is the thing that says, 'I'm here. I'm here. I'm here.' It does that about 10 times a second. That's the tut-tut-tut sound you get from Wi-Fi.

Now, that can actually be dialed down to once per second. That doesn't slow your Wi-Fi down. It just slows your connection, fractionally slower, if at all. It's barely noticeable. Radiation can be reduced 90% by dialing that down to once per second, or even two or three times per second.

That's an easy thing to do. I just found out too that a company, Aruba, which I think is a Hewlett Packard company, has an adjustable setting for their beaconing system …

We want to start reducing the exposures on our end, but also want to start having things that kind of turn on and off, almost like your screen blanks and turns off to save power. There needs to be some signaling and protocols that start reducing all these beaconing frequencies that are going back and forth."

More information

To learn more, be sure to check out Sullivan's site, ClearLightVentures.com.

"I'm working on simplified instructions for parents with meters and meters that we recommend. Those are on my website," he says. "I have some wireless safety cards that we did, that we handed out to parents and organizations that give you some tips. [The handout] talks about the different symptoms and some of the basic science, so it makes this a bit more credible …

I've also done a booklet for [those with] children on the autism spectrum … called 'Simplifying Autism Improvement and Recovery' … It goes along with my talk, 'Simplifying Autism Improvement and Recovery' that is online. My most recent talk is 'Simplifying Autism: Removing Barriers.'"

Other helpful resources for those looking for more information include WirelessEducation.org, where you can also find resources for schools, and Joel Muskowitz's website, SaferEMR.com. Muskowitz is the director and principal investigator at the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley. "He doesn't cherry pick things … He's a great resource," Sullivan says.

 

The many potential health benefits of curcumin

 

 

Spices are one of the most important aspects of cooking, as they have the ability to improve the flavor and aroma of any food. In many countries, spices are a big part of their cuisine and are deeply ingrained in their culture. One such example is turmeric, which has been largely associated with Indian culture for thousands of years.1

Today, turmeric is utilized in cuisines all over the world, from South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes to popular recipes in American cooking. It's one of the core ingredients used to make curry dishes, and is the source of their distinctive yellow color and flavor. Turmeric has been used for centuries in ancient Ayurvedic medicine as well. Indians used it as an antiseptic for cuts and burns, and as a remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort and respiratory conditions, and more.2

But what makes turmeric such a valued spice? Through advancements in technology, modern medicine has discovered that turmeric contains curcumin, a naturally occurring antioxidant that is the source of turmeric's various health benefits.3

Studies regarding the benefits of curcumin

Due to the purported health benefits of turmeric over the centuries, many researchers have investigated this spice to discover the truth to these claims. The table below presents some of their findings about turmeric's capabilities, which you may find very remarkable:

May have anti-inflammatory effects — Curcuminoids found in turmeric may inhibit the activity and synthesis of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), which are enzymes related to inflammation.4 In one study conducted on rats, researchers discovered that curcumin profoundly helped reduce joint inflammation.5

Helps support your digestive health — Curcumin may have help maintain digestive health. In a study that involved five people affected with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), researchers found out that curcumin helped improve the symptoms of the participants.6

May help boost eye health — In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, patients affected with chronic anterior uveitis (inflammation of the uvea, or the middle layer of the eye7) were given 375 milligrams of curcumin three times daily for 12 days. Within two weeks, the participants experienced an improvement in symptoms, with no reported side effects.8

Support recovery after surgery — Those who have just undergone surgery may experience pain and tenderness at the site of operation, a problem that curcumin may help with. In one study, patients who received 400 milligrams of curcumin three times a day for six days, as part of their postoperative treatments, experienced an 84.2% decrease in pain intensity.9

May help keep your brain sharp — Recent research explored the potential neuroprotective benefits of curcumin. One such study suggested that curcumin may be effective against Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disease that causes your brain to gradually produce lower levels of dopamine, negatively affecting movement over time.10 Another study notes that curcumin may help with cognitive impairment.11

Helps lower cancer risk — Curcumin may play a role in diminishing the growth of cancerous cells by affecting pathways such as "mutagenesis, oncogene expression, cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, tumorigenesis and metastasis."12

Supports your mental health — Aside from keeping your brain healthy, curcumin may help promote the healthy functioning of various mental aspects, such as emotional and psychological well-being.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study, 123 participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder were given a placebo, a curcumin-saffron mixture, a low-dose curcumin extract and a high-dose extract. Results from the study indicate that those who took the curcumin and curcumin-saffron combination exhibited improvements in symptoms compared to the placebo group.13

Helps keep your skin healthy — Applying a curcumin-based cream on your skin may help keep it healthy and prevent the development of skin diseases. In a study that involved 10 subjects affected with vitiligo, researchers subjected them to a procedure that combined UVB therapy and curcumin cream, which resulted in significant repigmentation.14

In another study, patients suffering from psoriasis were provided a 450-gram curcumin supplement per day for 12 weeks. After the study, two participants reported an 83% to 88% improvement of symptoms.15

Helps lower risk of diabetes — According to a study published in Diabetes Care, consuming curcumin regularly may help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Over the course of nine months, researchers monitored 240 prediabetics who were given either a placebo or a curcumin supplement. Results indicated that 16.4% of the group who were provided a placebo had developed diabetes, whereas the curcumin group did not.16

Supports optimal cardiovascular function — Curcumin may help maintain normal heart function, according to several studies. In one example, researchers demonstrated that curcuminoids can help decrease myocardial infarction in people who received coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).17 In another study, researchers suggested that curcumin can help lower total cholesterol level, as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.18

Sources of curcumin and how you can increase your levels naturally

Turmeric is the best natural source of curcumin. Traditionally called "Indian saffron,"19 turmeric is a root herb that has a "tough brown skin with a deep, orange flesh."20 It has been a part of Indian culture for thousands of years21 and is now highly regarded because of its multitude of health benefits.

One of the easiest ways to add curcumin to your diet is to use it as an ingredient for rubs or marinades. You may also add it to a salad to give your vegetables more spice. You can also try the following ideas from The Kitchn:22

  • Add a dash of turmeric to vegetable or chicken soups to add warmth.
  • Sprinkle some turmeric over sautéed vegetables for more flavor and nutrition.
  • You can add turmeric into smoothies or mix it with grass fed milk to make "golden milk."

While adding turmeric to your foods is an easy way to obtain the benefits of curcumin, one of my issues with this method is that turmeric rhizomes contain only about 3% curcumin concentration. What's more, curcumin is poorly absorbed in your body. If you do add it to your foods, you're only absorbing about 1% curcumin. To work around this problem, you may try these two strategies:

  • Make a microemulsion — Mix 1 tablespoon of raw turmeric powder with two egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil.
  • Boil the powder — Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric into a quart of boiling water. It's important that when making this beverage, the water should be boiling to increase the bioavailability. After 10 minutes of boiling, you will have created a 12% solution that needs to be consumed right away.

If you don't find turmeric's flavor to be appealing, then a curcumin supplement may be a viable option for you.

Some considerations before buying a curcumin supplement

While curcumin has been studied extensively, there are some things you need to consider before buying a supplement. As mentioned earlier, natural curcumin has poor bioavailability, and the same case applies to many curcumin supplements.

In a study conducted by ConsumerLab.com, researchers discovered that 20 percent of turmeric and curcumin supplements sold in the market today deliver less than 15% of their promised curcuminoid compounds. This means that these products deliver only a small fraction of the amount that was promised.23

In light of this information, I recommend you follow this checklist when you're looking for a curcumin supplement. Make sure it:

  • Uses advanced technology to increase bioavailability — This is probably the most important item to look for. Research and review what type of technology the manufacturer uses to increase the absorption rate of their curcumin supplements and decide if it is effective or not.
  • Delivers all the essential curcuminoids — Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid, but demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin should also be included to provide well-rounded benefits.
  • Does not use unnecessary fillers and other additives — There's very little sense for a curcumin supplement to have other ingredients in the formula.
  • Comes from a trustworthy manufacturer — Do extensive research for company reviews, processes and policies. High-quality ingredients are worthless if the company making the products has questionable regulations and other controversies.
  • The supplement is derived from turmeric containing at least 95% curcuminoids — This characteristic ensures that you're getting the optimal amount of curcumin in your system.
  • Reasonably priced — The final product should be affordable, even with the latest technology to increase bioavailability.

Keep an eye out for these side effects of curcumin

Curcumin is generally safe for human consumption with very rare chances of developing side effects.24 In one study, 10 adults taking 490 milligrams of curcumin for a week did not develop any side effects.25 Even doses up to 1,200 to 2,100 milligrams did not have any adverse effects.26 That being said, there's still a small chance you may develop:

  • Headache and nausea — A 450-milligram dose may cause one or both of these two conditions.27,28
  • Digestive problems — Distension, acid reflux and diarrhea may occur when taking higher doses.29
  • Rash — An extremely high dose (8,000 milligrams) may cause a skin rash, but this is very rare.30
  • Lead exposure — One study showed that it's possible for certain brands of turmeric powders could be could be contaminated with lead, a heavy metal that can have adverse effects to your nervous system.31

Beware of turmeric powders that contain fillers such as barley and wheat flour.32 These substances contain gluten, and if your body can't digest it, you may develop symptoms of gluten sensitivity such as abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, brain fog, fatigue and joint pain.33

If you're currently taking anticoagulants like warfarin, do not use turmeric or curcumin supplements, as they can augment the effects of the drugs you're currently taking.34 In the same way, you should avoid turmeric-based foods to be on the safe side.35

When supplementing with curcumin, use high-quality products only

If you're going to take a curcumin supplement, always be vigilant and do your research before buying. Make sure that the company is reputable, uses advanced manufacturing process to increase bioavailability and the formula does not contain any fillers. This can help you ensure that you're purchasing a high-quality product.

Frequently asked questions about curcumin

Q: Is curcumin a good blood thinner?

A: Curcumin has been noted to have blood-thinning properties. If you're currently taking anticoagulants, curcumin may amplify the effects of these drugs.36 I recommend that you don't take curcumin supplements if you're taking blood-thinning medications.

Q: What is curcumin good for?

A: Curcumin may potentially benefit various aspects of your health, such as providing antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory properties that may help manage pain and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.37

Q: Are turmeric and curcumin the same thing?

A: Curcumin is essentially the beneficial compound found inside the rhizomes of turmeric. Curcuminoids can also be found in mango ginger, also known as Curcuma amada.38

 

Children are growing horns from using cellphones

 

 

The perils of too much screen time and cellphone use for children and adolescents run the gamut from triggering feelings of envy and depression1 to interfering with sleep and academic performance2 and even possibly increasing the risk of cancer.3

But one of the most shocking revelations potentially linked to cellphone use was quietly published in the Journal of Anatomy in 2016.4 It relates to enthesophytes, which are bony projections that form at an attachment site of ligament, tendon or joint capsule to a bone.

These bony protrusions may take on a spike, hook or horn-like appearance on X-rays, but have historically primarily been seen in the elderly, as the growths are thought to develop slowly over time,5 as the result of mechanical stress and strain — the type that results from overuse and repetitive movements performed over decades.

The study, however, found such growths — in particular a type of enthesophyte called enlarged external occipital protuberances (EEOP) — not on hunched-over elderly people, as one might expect, but rather on young adults, with researchers suggesting screen-based activities may be to blame.

41% of young adults found to have bony growths on their skulls

Researchers reviewed 218 X-rays of 18- to 30-year-old study participants with no symptoms and compared them to X-rays of age-matched mildly symptomatic participants. According to the study:6

“In recent years, the presence of an enlarged external occipital protuberance (EEOP) has been observed frequently in radiographs of relatively young patients at the clinic of the lead author.

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, reports concerning enthesophytes projecting out of the EOP are rare in the medical literature, although a few reports do exist in the anthropological and forensic science literature.

Accordingly, the aim of this study was to: (i) quantify the prevalence of EEOP within apparently healthy, asymptomatic, young adult participants; and (ii) compare these data with a cohort of mildly symptomatic age-matched individuals.”

An EOP was defined as a growth measuring at least 5 millimeters (mm), while an EEOP was considered 10 mm or more in size. EEOP was found in 41% of the population, with 10% having an EEOP measuring 20 mm or more.

The growths were significantly more common in males (67.4%) compared to females (20.3%), as well as tended to be larger in males. In fact, the longest EEOP measured in a male was 35.7 mm, compared to 25.5 in the female group.

“The high percentage (41%) of EEOP presentation in the test population was surprising,” the researchers noted. “The prevalence of an EEOP in the young age group may suggest that excessive forces are acting on the EOP at a younger age.”7

Is screen time causing horns to grow?

Enthesophytes can have many causes, which may be biomechanical, immunological or genetic in nature.8 In the featured study, however, the researchers stated that the young age of the population suggests that if the EEOPs are due to pathophysiological processes, the percentage of individuals affected should be considerably less than what was found.

“Secondly,” they noted, “if the presence of EEOP is due to aging and mechanical factors, the EEOP should appear at a more advanced age than that of the sample population. Accordingly, it would appear that additional factors must be considered as the predominant drivers for this phenomenon.”9

Such “additional factors” include extensive use of screen-based activities and the associated poor posture. Although the 2016 study did not look into this directly, they concluded:10

“ … [T]he absence of postural and ergonomic data restricts definitive conclusions on the causes of EEOP in the test population. However, the age of the population and high incidence of EEOP suggests that it is unlikely that the current observations are a result of aging-, genetic- or disease-related processes.”

In another study published in 2018, the researchers found that a combination of gender, the degree of forward head protraction and age was predictive of EEOP. Being a male and increased forward head protraction were most linked to prominent bone growths, whereas, paradoxically, age was linked to a decrease in growth size. They concluded:11

“We hypothesize EEOP may be linked to sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets.

Our findings raise a concern about the future musculoskeletal health of the young adult population and reinforce the need for prevention intervention through posture improvement education.”

Study author sells posture pillows

It’s always important to look at the source when considering scientific research, and these studies are no different. One of the study’s authors, David Shahar, is a chiropractor who specializes in treating the “forward head posture epidemic,”12 and has offered posture pillows for sale on his website.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the study data aren’t valid, but it’s a potential conflict that should have been disclosed in the peer-reviewed Scientific Reports where one of the studies were published — but it wasn’t.

Shahar told Quartz of the potential conflict, “I have been largely inactive in that front over the years of my research, and this research does not discuss any particularly related intervention methods,”13 although Quartz pointed to one statement that reads “the mitigation of poor postural habit through prevention intervention may be prudent.”14

Another potential issue is that the 1,200 participants used for the 2018 study came from a “clinician’s database,” which reportedly is Shahar’s database. As Quartz reported:15

“If you really wanted to get a look at the effects of smartphone use on neck health, you’d want data from the general population, not people who were already concerned about neck or back pain.

The paper acknowledges that issue, and excludes any patients who reported severe neck pain. But it doesn’t state that the patients came from Shahar’s personal practice, who may have skewed the data because they explicitly sought help with their posture.”

That being said, it’s certainly plausible that too much screen time could be leading to unexpected consequences due to the mechanical distortions is causes to your body. Such problems have been revealed before.

Problems with craning your neck over screens

Adults spend about 11 hours interacting with media daily, which includes six hours per day watching videos, 45 minutes on social media and three hours and 48 minutes on digital media (cellphones, computers and tablets).16 Much of this time, your head may be held in such a way that puts an unnatural strain on your neck and upper body.

“Shahar thinks the spikes form because the hunched posture creates extra pressure on the place where the neck muscles attach to the skull — and the body responds by laying down fresh layers of bone,” BBC News reported. “These help the skull to cope with the extra stress, by spreading the weight over a wider area.”17

The “horns” themselves aren’t dangerous, but instead are a “portent of something nasty going on elsewhere, a sign that the head and neck are not in the proper configuration," study co-author Mark Sayers, an associate professor of biomechanics at Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast, told The Washington Post.18

In a study of 207 children and adolescents with nonspecific neck pain, all of the participants had strong flexion, or bending, of the neck when using cellphones. The researchers noted:19

““Text neck,” a 21st-century syndrome, is a term derived from the onset of cervical spinal degeneration resulting from the repeated stress of frequent forward head flexion while looking down at the screens of mobile devices and “texting” for long periods of time.

Text neck is becoming more common as more people, especially teens and adolescents, hunch over smartphones. It is estimated that 75% of the world's population spends hours daily hunched over their handheld devices with their heads flexed forward.

In our sample, children and adolescents spent averages of 5 and 7 hours a day, respectively, with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smartphones and handheld devices. Cumulatively, this is an average of 1825 and 2555 hours a year, respectively, of excess stresses seen in the cervical spine area.”

The average adult head weighs 4.54 kilograms (10 pounds) to 5.44 kilograms (12 pounds). When you flex your head forward, the increased forces on your neck lead to changes in your cervical spine and supporting ligaments, tendons and musculature, while also leading to changes in the bony segments. This, in turn, can cause changes to posture and lead to related neck pain.20

Cellphone cancer risk confirmed

Aside from the postural risks, radiation from cellphones may cause tumors in rats. The findings stem from government-funded studies conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an interagency research program currently under the umbrella of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.21

The research involved both mice and rats, which were exposed to cellphone radiation for nine hours a day for two years — close to average life span for these rodents. Most concerning, male rats were more likely to develop tumors in their heart known as malignant schwannomas.

In making their conclusions, NTP uses the labels “clear evidence,” “some evidence,” “equivocal evidence” and “no evidence.” They found “clear evidence” that exposure to cellphone radiation led to heart tumors in the male rates, along with “some evidence” that it caused brain tumors adrenal gland tumors in the rats.22

Further, according to the National Institutes of Health, “The NTP studies also looked for a range of non-cancer health effects in rats and mice, including changes in body weight, evidence of tissue damage from RFR-generated heating and genetic damage. Researchers saw lower body weights among newborn rats and their mothers, especially when exposed to high levels of RFR during pregnancy and lactation.”23

The NTP studies only looked at radio frequency radiation (RFR) like that used in 2G and 3G cellphones. The coming 5G, or “5th Generation,” wireless network may cause even greater risks.

Tips for cutting back on screens and RFR/EMF exposure

Whether or not cellphone use is triggering the growth of horns on children, there are multiple reasons to cut back on your screen time, as doing so not only will help protect your posture but also help reduce your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and potentially cancer-causing RFR (not to mention will help you avoid exposure to disruptive blue light at night).

If your kids are using screens excessively, set time limits on their exposure, including television, computers, tablets and cellphones. When they do use screens, pay attention to proper posture and use stands to minimize the forward tilting of the head.

Also be sure to turn off screens at least an hour or two before bedtime. To further reduce your EMF and RFR exposure, read through the suggestions below and implement as many of them as possible.

Nighttime remediation

Use Stetzer or Greenwave filters to remove voltage transients from your electricity and use meters to confirm that they are in a safe range.

Use a battery-powered alarm clock, ideally one without any light. I use a talking clock for the visually impaired.24

Consider moving your baby's bed into your room instead of using a wireless baby monitor. Alternatively, use a hard-wired monitor.

If you must use Wi-Fi, shut it off when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping. Ideally, work toward hardwiring your house so you can eliminate Wi-Fi altogether. It's important to realize that if you have a Wi-Fi router, you have a cellphone tower inside your home. Ideally, you'd eliminate your Wi-Fi and simply use a wired Ethernet connection.

If you absolutely must have a router, you can place it inside a shielded bag when not in use. You can find shielded items online, or make your own using Swiss Shield fabric. If you have a notebook without any Ethernet ports, a USB Ethernet adapter will allow you to connect to the internet with a wired connection.

For more extensive shielding, you can consider painting your bedroom walls and ceiling with special shielding paint, which will block RF from outside sources, such as cell towers, smart meters and radio/TV towers. Windows can be covered with metal window screen or film. For your bed, consider a shielding bed canopy.

Daytime strategies to reduce unnecessary EMF exposure

To reduce EMF exposure during the daytime, consider using Stetzer filters to decrease the level of dirty electricity or electromagnetic interference being generated. You can also take these with you to work or when you travel. This may be the single best strategy to reduce the damage from EMF exposure since it appears that most of it is generated by the frequencies that the filters remove.

Connect your desktop computer to the internet via a wired Ethernet connection and be sure to put your desktop in airplane mode. Also avoid wireless keyboards, trackballs, mice, game systems, printers and portable house phones. Opt for the wired versions.

Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body unless in airplane mode and never sleep with it in your bedroom unless it is in airplane mode. Even in airplane mode it can emit signals, which is why I put my phone in a Faraday bag.25 They are really inexpensive and only $10 for two of them. I tested them and they are highly effective at blocking radiation.

When using your cellphone, use the speaker phone and hold the phone at least 3 feet away from you. Seek to radically decrease your time on the cellphone. I typically use my cellphone less than 30 minutes a month, and mostly when traveling. Instead, use VoIP software phones that you can use while connected to the internet via a wired connection, or better yet, use a landline telephone.

General household remediation

If you still use a microwave oven, consider replacing it with a steam convection oven, which will heat your food as quickly and far more safely.

Avoid using "smart" appliances and thermostats that depend on wireless signaling. This would include all new "smart" TVs. They are called smart because they emit a Wi-Fi signal and, unlike your computer, you cannot shut the Wi-Fi signal off. Consider using a large computer monitor as your TV instead, as they don't emit Wi-Fi.

Replace CFL bulbs with incandescent bulbs. Ideally remove all fluorescent lights from your house. Not only do they emit unhealthy light, but more importantly, they will actually transfer current to your body just being close to the bulbs.

Dimmer switches are another source of dirty electricity, so consider installing regular on/off switches rather than dimmer switches.

Refuse smart meters as long as you can, or add a shield to an existing smart meter.

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