Natural Health Blog & News

 

 

How Farmed and Frankenfish Salmon Endanger Our Most Perfect Food

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

In November 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AquaBounty salmon, a genetically engineered (GE) “frankenfish” that’s being touted as a way to solve overfishing and world hunger. The GE salmon are engineered to grow about twice as fast as typical farm-raised salmon, an eerie feat achieved by inserting the DNA from two other fish, a growth-promoting gene from a Chinook salmon and a “promoter” gene from the eel-like ocean pout.

This genetic tweaking results in fish with always-on growth hormone, and because they grow so much faster than other salmon, they also require less food. The fish are being grown on land and have several other supposed safeguards in place to prevent both escape and breeding with wild populations but, in nature, nothing is foolproof.

If you live in the U.S., the fish haven’t reached grocery store shelves — yet — but there’s a chance they could become the first GE animal food to be sold in the U.S. to date, with completely unknown consequences.

GE Salmon, Already Sold in Canada, May Soon Be in US Grocery Stores

While the FDA approved AquaBounty’s salmon over two years ago, a rider attached to an Alaskan budget bill imposed an import ban, effectively blocking the FDA from allowing GE salmon into the U.S. In Canada, however, the GE fish are already being sold and eaten, to the tune of 5 tons in 2017 (none of which were labeled as such).1 Meanwhile, AquaBounty has recently acquired a fish farm in Indiana, where they’re making plans to start raising GE salmon.

“That means the company’s salmon could be on sale in the U.S. by 2019, which would make it the first genetically modified animal food ever sold and eaten in this country,” wrote Richard Martin, senior editor for energy at S&P Global Market Intelligence, for BioGraphic. “Opposition, naturally, is fierce.”2

The creation of GE salmon is anything but natural. For the last 13 generations of AquaBounty salmon, dating back to a single GE fish from 1992, every fish carries a copy of the “mutant” gene set that leads to the supergrowth and is passed down to the next generation. As such, gene splicing doesn’t take place at every AquaBounty facility, although intense breeding of the GE fish does. Martin explained:3

“At spawning time, conventional females are milked of their eggs by hand, a method that requires two fish wranglers per female — one to handle the fish and another to hold the container that collects the eggs. The technicians use the same squeeze technique to extract semen, or ‘milt,’ from the males … When combined, the eggs and milt produce fertilized eggs.

The technicians place the developing embryos in a stainless-steel tube where they are subjected to high pressure. This renders all the embryos’ cells triploid, meaning they have three sets of chromosomes instead of two, which makes the fish incapable of reproducing …

After a period of incubation at the Bay Fortune hatchery [on Prince Edward Island, Canada], the sterile, all-female transgenic embryos are flown to a rearing facility in the highlands of Panama, where the resulting salmon are grown to maturity before being reimported into Canada …

Eventually, AquaBounty plans to produce market-ready fish at a new facility under construction at Rollo Bay, on Prince Edward Island, and at the Indiana facility — an existing fish production factory that belonged to a now-defunct aquaculture company.”

Most Americans Say They Would Not Eat GE Fish

In the U.S., negative public opinion has been instrumental in keeping GE fish off store shelves. In 2013, a New York Times poll revealed that 75 percent of respondents would not eat GE fish and 93 percent said such foods should be labeled as such.4 Yet, as in Canada, which does not require GE seafood to be labeled, the FDA concluded that AquaBounty salmon is “not materially different from other Atlantic salmon” and thus would not require any special labeling.5

If the frakenfish does end up in U.S. stores in the next year, then, you won’t be able to distinguish it from other salmon. Further, many experts are concerned that the release of GE salmon hasn’t been thought through and could pose a risk to wild salmon species.

Martin quoted Anne Kapuscinski, a professor of sustainability science at Dartmouth College, and George Leonard, chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy, who stated, “The future of GE fish farming will surely involve larger fish farms, with less confinement, in many different environments.”6

As such, no one knows what future expansion could mean for the marine environment. A lawsuit led by the Center for Food Safety, and joined by U.S. tribes in the Pacific Northwest, including the Quinault Indian Nation, is challenging the FDA’s approval of AquaBounty’s salmon, alleging the agency “has not adequately assessed the full range of potentially significant environmental and ecological effects presented by the AquaBounty application.”7

The lawsuit is pending, but for now the FDA continues to maintain that AquaBounty’s salmon “is as safe to eat as any nongenetically engineered … Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious.”8 They also state the approval “would not have a significant impact on the environment of the United States,” but the Center for Food Safety sees it differently, stating:9

“Salmon is a keystone species and unique runs have been treasured by residents for thousands of years. Diverse salmon runs today sustain thousands of American fishing families, and are highly valued in domestic markets as a healthy, domestic, ‘green’ food.

When GE salmon escape or are accidentally released into the environment, the new species could threaten wild populations by mating with endangered salmon species, outcompeting them for scarce resources and habitat, and/or introducing new diseases.

Studies have shown that there is a high risk for GE organisms to escape into the natural environment, and that GE salmon can crossbreed with native fish. Transgenic contamination has become common in the GE plant context, where contamination episodes have cost U.S. farmers billions of dollars over the past decade. In wild organisms like fish, it could be even more damaging.”

Aquaculture’s Farmed Salmon Are Environmentally Destructive

In the U.S., farmed salmon is one of the most popular seafood choices, with many being misled to believe it is a safe choice for dinner. In reality, while farmed salmon is not genetically engineered like AquaBounty’s frankenfish, it is still one of the worst seafood choices available in terms of pollutants and the environment. One of the major problems is that farmed salmon are typically raised in pens in the ocean, where their excrement and food residues are disrupting local marine life. The potential for escape is also high.

Even land-based salmon aquaculture is problematic, according to research published in Scientific Reports, which performed an analysis of four salmon aquacultures in Chile.10

The facilities, often described as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) of the sea, pump water from rivers into their hatcheries, then pump it back out to the river once it’s no longer clean. The researchers found the water is often contaminated with dissolved organic matter (DOM) — a mixture of liquid excrement, food residue and other salmon excretions, along with disinfectants and antibiotics.

The release of DOM into Chile’s rivers is causing significant ramifications for the entire ecosystem. Upstream of the fish farms, the researchers detected higher amounts of natural algae biofilms on rocks, which help to produce oxygen and provide food for organisms that fish later eat.

Downstream, however, biofilms had a greater abundance of bacteria, which use up oxygen and may lead to low-oxygen environments that could threaten many species. The researchers suggested that no additional fish farms should be installed on Chilean rivers, noting, “[R]ivers should not be misused as natural sewage treatment plants.”11

Viruses, Sea Lice From Farmed Salmon Threaten Wild Fish

Since farmed salmon pens are often placed along wild salmon runs, they pose a severe threat to wild salmon stocks that pass by, exposing wild fish to diseases that run rampant among the confined fish, such as sea lice, pancreas disease, infectious salmon anemia virus and piscine reovirus. Piscine reovirus is a highly contagious blood virus that causes heart disease in the affected fish.

The virus was first discovered in Norwegian salmon farms and has proven to be nearly impossible to eradicate. And, with the spread of this disease into wild populations, wild salmon may soon go extinct. Alexandra Morton, a Canadian marine biologist who has spent decades studying the impact of salmon farming on wild salmon, has also reported that sea lice from salmon farms are eating young wild salmon to death, while Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has failed to take action.

In fact, an oceanic watchdog group recently reported a sea lice outbreak in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Fish farms in the area had salmon lice up to 10 times higher than the rate that requires treatment, at numbers that could prove lethal to wild salmon. While DFO requires salmon farms to monitor and control sea lice via the use of chemicals in feed or hydrogen peroxide baths, the measures don’t appear to be working — and are toxic in and of themselves.

British Columbia has granted aquaculture company Cermaq Canada a permit to apply 2.3 million liters of Paramove 50, a pesticide, to 14 salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound in order to fight sea lice. Not only may the pesticide be toxic to other marine life such as Dungeness crab, prawns and herring, but it’s also known to suppress salmon immune systems, making them even more susceptible to viruses. In turn, wild salmon swimming by may be further exposed to deadly diseases.

“So just as the young salmon are passing by the farms, we could shock these farmed fish into getting PRV or that becoming HSMI (heart and skeletal muscle inflammation disease) which is deadly to wild salmon,” watchdog group Clayoquot Action Campaigns director Bonny Glambeck told The Narwhal.12 She continued in a news release:13

“This outbreak is an environmental disaster — we are seeing wild juvenile salmon carrying lethal loads of salmon lice … These fish have been given a death sentence … We don’t expect the new pesticides that they want to use will work. It’s not working in Norway right now. Studies show there is no way these fish will survive to spawn and reproduce … Basically the industry is unable to control sea lice. So that’s why we want to see these farms come out of the oceans.”

Tire Chemicals, PCBs Common in Farmed Salmon

Nutritionally speaking, farmed salmon are also a far inferior choice to the wild variety. For starters, their pens are often placed near shore, which means they’re close to land-based sources of pollutant runoff. In addition, they’re fed a diet of ground-up fishmeal, which may lead to concentrated levels of PCBs.

In a global assessment of farmed salmon published in the journal Science, PCB concentrations in farmed salmon were found to be eight times higher than in wild salmon.14 Similarly, when the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested farmed salmon from U.S. grocery stores, they found farmed salmon had, on average:15

  • 16 times more PCBs than wild salmon
  • 4 times more PCBs than beef
  • 3.4 times more PCBs than other seafood

Further, ethoxyquin, developed by Monsanto in the 1950s, is a rubber stabilizer (used in the production of tires), pesticide, preservative and antioxidant all in one that’s often added to farmed salmon feed. While it doesn’t have the health benefits normally associated with dietary antioxidants, it does prevent oxidation of fats, which is why it’s used in different types of animal feed, including fish feed and pet food.16

But studies have also shown ethoxyquin adversely affects cell metabolism, especially the metabolic pathways of renal and hepatic cells in rats, and the mitochondria in bovine hearts and kidneys. Due to its potential toxicity, the EU has strict limits for ethoxyquin levels in fruits, nuts, vegetables and meat. However, since it was never intended for use in fish, and fish feed manufacturers never informed health authorities that they were using it, there are no limits on how much of the chemical is allowed in seafood.

On top of more toxins, farmed salmon lack the correct ratio of healthy fats that many people are seeking when eating a “healthy” fish meal. Half a fillet of wild Atlantic salmon contains about 3,996 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 and 341 mg of omega-6.17 Half a fillet of farmed salmon from the Atlantic contains just a bit more omega-3 — 4,961 mg — but an astounding 1,944 mg of omega-6;18 more than 5.5 times more than wild salmon.

While you need both omega-3 and omega-6 fats, the ratio between the two is important and should ideally be about 1-to-1. The standard American diet is already heavily skewed toward omega-6, thanks to the prevalence of processed foods, and with farmed salmon, that unhealthy imbalance is further magnified rather than corrected.

Choose Wild Salmon for Your Health — and the Environment

If you’re wondering how can you tell whether salmon is wild or farm-raised, the flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of its natural astaxanthin content. It's also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed. Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled "Atlantic Salmon" currently comes from fish farms.

The two designations you want to look for are "Alaskan salmon" and "sockeye salmon," as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed. So canned salmon labeled "Alaskan Salmon" is a good bet, and if you find sockeye salmon, it's bound to be wild. As for GE salmon, if it comes to your grocery store it’s not currently slated to be labeled as such, but it’s another variety of Atlantic salmon, so steering clear of Atlantic salmon in favor of wild varieties will help you steer clear of adding this frankenfish to your dinner plate.

 

Stomach Band Claimed to Resolve Obesity

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

In the U.S., more than 2 in 3 adults are either overweight or obese, while 1 in 13 is considered to have extreme obesity.1 As obesity rates have risen so, too, have obesity-related diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis. It's still commonly believed that the best way to lose weight is to simply eat less and exercise more, but this health dogma fails for many, in large part because of an emphasis placed on low-fat, high-carb foods and counting calories.

As a result, people struggling with obesity may turn to extreme measures like bariatric surgery as a last resort to lose weight. A misguided article in The Atlantic even went so far as to call bariatric surgery the "obesity cure" and scold states with some of the highest rates of obesity for not covering the sometimes-deadly medical procedure in their Medicaid programs.2 If you're currently trying to lose weight, please understand that there is a better way.

Bariatric Surgery Is Not an 'Obesity Cure'

Bariatric surgery costs tens of thousands of dollars, making it inaccessible for many people if the procedure isn't covered by their insurance. This may be a blessing in disguise, however, as complications, from bleeding and infection to blood clots and death, can and do occur. Nonetheless, The Atlantic called out Mississippi — the state with the second-highest rate of obesity in the U.S. — and Montana as being the only two states that don't cover bariatric surgery in their Medicaid programs.

Many other states don't cover the surgery in their state employee plans, and even when coverage is offered, there may be barriers that make qualifying for the surgery difficult, such as a requirement to quit smoking or lose a certain amount of weight first. But the solution to Mississippi's 37 percent obesity rate isn't surgery to shrink the stomach, which is merely an invasive Band-Aid that puts your long-term health at risk. There are three primary types of weight loss surgery:3

  • Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band: This involves placing a ring around your stomach, which makes you feel full faster. An inflatable balloon is attached to the band that can be adjusted in size to change the size of your stomach pouch.
  • Gastric sleeve: This surgery involves removing most of your stomach, leaving only a banana-shaped portion that's closed with staples. In addition to physically reducing the amount of food you can eat, the removal of part of your stomach alters your gut hormones and gut bacteria, which play a role in appetite and metabolism.
  • Gastric bypass: In addition to stapling your stomach so only a small pouch remains in the upper section, gastric bypass involves cutting your small intestine and attaching it to the stomach pouch. By bypassing most of your stomach and upper part of your small intestine, your body absorbs fewer calories when you eat, but the surgery will also alter your gut hormones and bacteria.

In a review of 164 studies, bariatric surgery was found to be effective in helping people lose weight and keep it off as well as reduce rates of obesity-related health problems.4 However, "risks of complication, reoperation and death exist," the researchers noted. The study found a complication rate of 17 percent, whereas another 7 percent required a second surgery.

In addition to the risk of infection or leaking from the areas of the stomach that have been stapled, bariatric surgery can make it difficult for you to absorb nutrients from the food you eat, leading to related health problems like anemia and osteoporosis. Gallstones can also develop, and many patients are prescribed gallstone prevention medication after surgery, whereas gastric bands can also erode into your stomach — a complication that requires removal.

Strictures are another potential problem, which refer to narrowing of the newly shaped stomach or connection between the small intestine and stomach. The narrowing can cause nausea, vomiting and trouble swallowing when you try to eat swallow food, and must be fixed with additional medical procedures. The way your body processes alcohol may also be affected, so patients must be aware that drinking alcohol could be problematic after bariatric surgery.5

Ketogenic Diet: How to Eat to Lose Weight

Bariatric surgery is in no way a cure for obesity; it instead confines you to a lifetime of abnormally restricted eating patterns and risks of complications. A far better option is to learn to eat the way your body needs to lose weight: If you can deal with the restricted eating that’s required following bariatric surgery, you can learn to eat a ketogenic diet, which is the “secret” to healthy weight loss and a true “cure” for obesity.

A ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal net carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high healthy fat consumption — the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis. In fact, it's what I recommend for most people who would like to optimize their health and maintain a healthy weight. A ketogenic diet helps access your body fat so that it can be shed. Obese people in particular can benefit from this method. In one study, obese test subjects were given a low-carb ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet.

After 24 weeks, researchers noted that the low-carb group lost more weight (9.4 kilograms) compared to the low-fat group (4.8 kilograms).6 Another sstudy also showed that patients following a very low-carb ketogenic diet lost more weight than those following a low-fat diet, making it “an alternative tool against obesity."7 Unfortunately, a high-carb, low-fat diet is usually recommended for people who are trying to lose weight, which is counterproductive and a prime culprit in creating the obesity epidemic that we're facing today.

A ketogenic diet will help you optimize your health by converting from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat as your primary source of fuel. My book, “Fat for Fuel,” explains the many metabolic advantages you gain once your body regains the ability to burn fat for fuel. When your body burns primarily carbs for fuel, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are created, which damage cellular mitochondrial membranes and DNA, leading to the degenerative diseases that are so prevalent today.

Healthy dietary fats, which are a cleaner-burning fuel, create far fewer ROS and free radicals. This lays the groundwork for many of the metabolic benefits of this program. Fats are also critical for the health of cellular membranes and many other biological functions. The only "side effects" of a ketogenic diet are beneficial ones, like a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes8 and other chronic diseases and even a reduced appetite.9

Adding Intermittent Fasting Can Increase Your Weight Loss Results

Losing weight isn't about calorie counting so much as it is about choosing the right calories and consuming them at the proper frequencies. I recommend limiting your eating to two meals per day, either breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner, within a six- to eight-hour window each day. This meal timing is a form of intermittent fasting, as by eating all your meals within a certain span of time each day, you end up fasting daily as well. Longer water fasts also offer powerful health benefits, although you need to work your way into them.

One strategy I've found to be extremely helpful is to gradually increase the time of your daily intermittent fasting until you're fasting 20 hours a day. After about a month of this, doing a four- or five-day-long water fast will not be nearly as difficult, as you're already used to not eating for extended periods. Importantly, water fasting activates autophagy, allowing your body to clean itself out, and triggers the regeneration of stem cells.

Remarkably, whereas low-calorie dieting will cause morbidly obese people to develop skin folds that must be surgically removed after significant weight loss, this typically does not occur when you lose the weight by water fasting.

Your body actually metabolizes the excess skin as you go along, because it's in such efficient regeneration mode. In fact, if you're severely overweight or have Type 2 diabetes, water fasting may be the answer you've been looking for. A fasting-mimicking diet has even been shown to reverse diabetes in animal studies.10

What You Need to Get Started

If you're obese, you cannot guess when it comes to the amount of fat, net carbs and protein you eat to follow a ketogenic diet. In the beginning, I highly recommend measuring and tracking them using:

  • A kitchen scale to weigh food items
  • Measuring cups to measure food amounts
  • A nutrient tracker. I recommend using www.cronometer.com/mercola, as it is the most accurate nutrient tracker available, it's free and it's already set up for nutritional ketosis

Based on the personal base parameters you enter, such as height, weight, body fat percentage and waist circumference, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats (including your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio) to put you into nutritional ketosis. To start, you'll need to avoid processed foods as well as those that contain high amounts of carbohydrates, such as milk, as they may cause you to consume more than the allotted amount of carbs that you need for a day.

You’ll want to consume high amounts of fiber, preferably from green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and parsley, and nonstarchy vegetables, along with plenty of healthy fats, such as:

Avocados

Grass fed meats

Coconut oil

Raw cacao butter

Organic pastured eggs

Grass fed butter

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon or other healthy sources of animal-based omega-3 fats

Raw nuts, such as macadamia and almonds

In my view, the single most important driver of obesity is consuming over 50 grams of net carbs (carbohydrates minus the fiber) a day and excessive protein. Once you get net carbs below 50 grams, moderate your protein intake to 0.5 gram per pound of lean body weight, along with higher amounts of high quality fat, your body will start to regain its ability to burn fat as its primary fuel. Once you become an efficient fat burner, it will become virtually impossible to be overweight.

Once you are burning fat for fuel, you'll need to cycle healthy carbs back in to feed your gut microbes and ensure healthy insulin functioning. After a day or two of "feasting," you then cycle back into nutritional ketosis (the "fasting" stage) for the remainder of the week. By periodically pulsing higher carb intakes, consuming, say, 100 or 150 grams of carbs opposed to 20 to 50 grams per day, your ketone levels will dramatically increase and your blood sugar will drop.

Exercise Complements a Ketogenic Diet

Your diet is the most important factor in losing weight, but once you’ve gotten the hang of following a ketogenic diet, exercise will also be important. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which research has shown to offer greater fitness and health gains in a fraction of the time compared to typical moderate or low-intensity gym workouts, may be particularly beneficial.

In a study of overweight and obese adults, HIIT and moderate-intensity continuous training led to similar improvements in body composition over 10 weeks, but HIIT required about 40 percent less training time to receive those benefits.11 If you're obese, the nitric oxide dump is an excellent starting point that can help you to improve your mitochondrial health in just three or four minutes three times a day.

By combining HIIT with a ketogenic diet and regular daily movement (limiting your sitting time as much as possible), weight loss will be the natural result of rebalancing your body's chemistry.

And unlike bariatric surgery, which puts you at risk of serious infections, additional medical procedures and death, losing weight via a ketogenic diet will slash your risk of other chronic diseases while increasing your longevity. You’ll shed excess weight and be healthier for the long run, making it a true obesity cure that can work for virtually everyone.

 

Two Major Legal Victories in Federal Court Case to End Water Fluoridation

 

 

By Stuart Cooper
Campaign Director, Fluoride Action Network

In November 2016, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) together with a coalition of organizations and private citizens, including Food & Water Watch, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology, and Moms Against Fluoridation, presented a petition1 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling on the agency to exercise its authority to prohibit the addition of fluoridation chemicals to the public’s drinking water supplies under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

FAN’s petition was made on the grounds that a large body of animal, cellular and human research shows that fluoride is neurotoxic at doses within the range now seen in fluoridated communities, and included over 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing these health risks.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) allows individuals to petition the EPA to regulate and prohibit the “particular use“ of a chemical if the petitioner can show that it presents an unreasonable risk to the general public or susceptible subpopulations. TSCA specifically gives the EPA the authority to prohibit drinking water additives.

However, in an attempt to put up an unreasonable roadblock the EPA dismissed our petition based on a questionable interpretation of Congress’s recent amendments to TSCA. In response, FAN and our coalition partners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California legally challenging the EPA’s denial of our petition.

It also prompted the Natural Resources Defense Council to file an amicus brief challenging EPA’s strained interpretation of the law.2 Since challenging the EPA in court, a lot has happened to move us closer to a successful outcome. We have won our first two battles in federal court, new government-funded research has been published which strengthens our case, and our day in court has been scheduled.

Two Legal Victories as EPA Tries to Dismiss Case and Limit Evidence

The EPA’s motion to dismiss FAN’s petition was heard November 30 by federal Judge Edward M. Chen, of the Northern District Court of California in San Francisco. Our attorney, Michael Connett, argued the motion on behalf of FAN. Only days before Christmas, the judge gifted us our first legal victory. December 21, 2017, Chen denied the EPA’s motion3 to dismiss the case. This ruling was covered by Reuters4 and various legal and regulatory journals.

Two and a half weeks later, on February 7, 2018, we won a second major legal victory. This time, the EPA tried to put up another roadblock by limiting the scope of discovery. In other words, EPA worked to prohibit our attorneys from obtaining internal EPA documents, and to prohibit our experts from relying upon recently published studies. According to Chen:5

The text of the TSCA, its structure, its purpose and the legislative history make clear that Congress did not intend to impose such a limitation in judicial review of Section 21 citizen petitions. The Court therefore DENIES the EPA’s motion.”

Connett noted:6 If you look at the legislative history, Congress wanted a robust mechanism for citizen oversight over EPA. This court’s decision highlights for environmental groups that Congress created a powerful tool. Had the EPA prevailed we would have been prohibited from including any new fluoride neurotoxicity study published after our petition was submitted in November 2016, including the landmark U.S. government-funded 12-year study7 by Bashash et al. published in September 2017. This study is critical in demonstrating that fluoride is neurotoxic and has no place in the public water supply.

New Government-Funded Research Links Fluoride to IQ Loss

It is difficult to overstate the importance of this new study,8 published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, linking fluoride levels in the urine of pregnant women with lower measures of intelligence in their children. This is especially true because it was funded by the following U.S. agencies: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA. As noted by the authors:

In this study, higher levels of maternal urinary fluoride during pregnancy (a proxy for prenatal fluoride exposure) that are in the range of levels of exposure in other general population samples of pregnant women as well as nonpregnant adults were associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function in the offspring at 4 and 6–12 y old.”

The authors from several universities in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico followed over 300 mother-child pairs in Mexico City for a 12-year period. They found a strong relationship between the mothers’ exposure to fluoride (as measured in their urine) and lowered IQ in their offspring at 4 and again at 6 to 12 years of age. The urine levels of the pregnant woman in the study were the same as is found in pregnant women in the U.S. (0.5 to 1.5 mg/Liter, or ppm). At these levels the authors reported a staggering loss of six IQ points.

Most of the Mexican women had urine fluoride between 0.5 and 1.5 mg/L. Studies have found that adults in the U.S. have between about 0.6 and 1.5 mg/L, almost exactly the same range. From the low end of that range to the high end is a difference of 1 mg/L, which is what caused the five to six IQ-point difference in the children of the study mothers.

Furthermore, the study was very carefully conducted by a group of researchers who have collectively produced over 50 papers on the cognitive health of children in relationship to environmental exposures.

The lead investigator of this study, Dr. Howard Hu from the University of Toronto, commented on the quality of the study in the Canadian National Post,9 “This is a very rigorous epidemiology study. You just can’t deny it. It directly related to whether fluoride is a risk for the neurodevelopment of children.”

This new study thus helps to confirm the health risks described in our petition, and will be an invaluable piece of evidence for our attorneys as they develop our case over the next year.

It has also inspired a FAN campaign called Moms2B Avoid Fluoride. We launched the campaign in April to advise pregnant women to avoid fluoride, particularly fluoridated water, because of the potential for harm to the brain of the fetus. With your help, we can educate the next generation of parents, so they can take action to avoid fluoride exposure during this critical time in the development of their child.

Donate Today

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

The Next Step — Discovery and Our Day in Court

The judge has scheduled the trial for the beginning of August 2019. This gives the FAN legal team less than 16 months for pretrial procedures. Thanks to the court’s recent ruling, we have the right to obtain various internal documents from the EPA through a process known as “discovery,” which will last up through November. We will also have the right to depose EPA’s experts under oath.

Our legal team will also be recruiting our own expert witnesses for the trial, including experts in developmental neurotoxicology, endocrinology, epidemiology, toxicology and risk assessment. According to Connett, “These experts will be needed to explain how fluoride affects the brain and how the levels that Americans now ingest in fluoridated areas are in the range at which harm can occur, particularly among vulnerable populations.”

Fluoride Lawsuit Opens Door to More Citizen Petitions; Attorneys Urge Industry to Help EPA

According to legal experts who’ve been quoted in related news coverage, FAN’s lawsuit will likely be precedent setting in determining how the court deals with citizen petitions for chemical regulation under TSCA going forward. Experts have also said our case is likely to inspire an increase in the filing of citizen petitions and lawsuits by environmental, animal welfare and public health watchdog groups to compel the EPA to enact safer regulations on toxic chemicals.10

Watchdog groups no longer have to convince the EPA of unreasonable risk; they can now have an objective judge decide based on an independent review of the evidence. Because of Chen’s ruling to deny the EPA’s motion to dismiss our case, TSCA law will now be interpreted to allow the EPA to be petitioned to regulate single uses of substances, rather all uses, which was the EPA’s position. This change will make it easier for activists to force the EPA to review the risks of specific chemicals used commercially.

In response to our success, some attorneys for industry have publicly called on industry groups to follow and help defend the EPA’s position (or lack of action on regulating toxic chemicals).11 But we will continue on, and will keep our focus on providing the Court with the best available evidence on the risks of adding industrial fluoride chemicals to over 200 million Americans’ water supply.

TSCA Lawsuit Timeline and Media Coverage

You can learn more about our lawsuit against the EPA using these additional resources available on our website and updated regularly:

Invest in an End to Fluoridation

FAN has been the leading educational and advocacy organization campaigning to end the reckless practice of water fluoridation throughout the world for over 17 years. We are up against governments with huge budgets to defend outdated policies, special interests with big money, ill-informed professional bodies and a largely oblivious media, which keeps the public, and itself, in the dark on the issue.

With each passing year, our effort gets more and more urgent because of the continuing revelations of the dangers posed to our children, especially with respect to the development of their brains. The latest example is the September 2017 Bashash study12 — the most important fluoride/IQ study to date — which we discuss above.

There are now over 220 animal studies13 that link fluoride exposure to the disruption of various aspects of brain function, over 40 studies14 that show fluoride interferes with the ability of animals to learn and remember and 52 human studies15 that have associated exposure to fluoride with loss of IQ. And some of the best of these studies have been carried out at doses exceeded by many children in fluoridated communities.

Using standard risk assessment techniques, former U.S. EPA risk assessment specialist William Hirzy, Ph.D., has shown that 1.4 mg/day is associated with a lowering of IQ by five IQ points in one well-conducted Chinese study16 (Xiang et al., 2003a, 2003b).

We cannot allow this practice to continue to harm the public. With your support, we can make ending water fluoridation the greatest public health achievement of the 21st century. Our historic lawsuit offers both a significant opportunity for an end to the practice, as well as an opportunity for you to play a key role in making it happen.

Please consider investing in our efforts by making a tax-deductible donation to the Fluoride Action Network, a project of the American Environmental Health Studies Project.

Donate Today

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

 

Why Are Walnuts and Seaweed Good for Your Gut?

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

The importance of fiber to your diet is nothing new. The dietary fiber you get from foods such as nuts and seaweed, for example, acts as a food source for your gut microbiota, helping your beneficial bacteria do their jobs. This involves breaking down complex foods, providing your body with nutrients and helping you feel full.

Most people eat nuts because they are a convenient snack. While almonds and cashews are popular choices, you now have a new reason to choose walnuts. A study at the University of Illinois underscores the value of walnuts not only because they are a healthy fat and good source of fiber, but also because of the specific ways they may benefit your gut microbiome.

Similarly, research out of Stanford University involving seaweed takes gut bacteria to the next level in that scientists have identified a means of manipulating bacterial strains for potential therapeutic use. Both bodies of research underscore the need for optimizing your gut, which I consider to be one of the most important factors in your overall health and well-being. I say that because 70 to 80 percent of your immune system resides within your digestive tract.

Why Walnuts Are Good for You

If you routinely eat nuts but overlook walnuts, you may be missing out. According to PreventDisease.com walnuts have some impressive health benefits:1

  • A diet rich in walnuts and other nuts has been shown to play a role in supporting heart health2,3
  • Approximately 90 percent of the phenols — including flavonoids, phenolic acids and tannins — found in walnuts reside in its skin
  • Eating a handful of walnuts daily is said to reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease; walnuts have also been shown to slow tumor growth in animals4,5
  • If you are a man eating a Western-style diet, studies suggest consuming higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are found in walnuts, may increase your sperm quality6
  • Consuming walnuts is thought to improve your brain function and cognition7

“Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid and fiber and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants,” states registered dietitian Lauri Byerley, Ph.D., research associate professor of physiology at Louisiana State University Health New Orleans School of Medicine. “Now, an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to your gut microbiota.”8

How Walnuts Support Your Gut Bacteria

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition9 suggests walnuts affect your gut microbiota — the trillions of mostly beneficial microorganisms inhabiting your gut — in beneficial ways.10 Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by Hannah Holscher, Ph.D., assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, fed 18 participants either 42 grams (about one-third cup) of walnuts or no walnuts during two three-week periods that were separated by a one-week “washout” period.

Blood and fecal samples were collected and analyzed at the beginning and end of each study time frame to evaluate the effects of walnuts on fecal microbiota, bile acids and metabolic markers of health. Walnut intake was shown to increase levels of three bacteria: Clostridium, Faecalibacterium and Roseburia, which produce a metabolic byproduct called butyrate that is believed to improve colon health.

It’s important to note, however, Holscher and her team did not measure butyrate levels. She says, “[W]e can't say that just because these microbes increased that butyrate also increased. We still need to answer that question."11 Other interesting highlights from the research include:12

  • Faecalibacterium, which has attracted attention as a potential probiotic bacterium, has been shown to reduce inflammation in animals and animals with higher amounts of it also have better insulin sensitivity
  • Participants who consumed walnuts had lower levels of secondary bile acids, which is significant because, according to Holscher, secondary bile acids have been found to be higher in individuals with colon cancer
  • Individuals consuming walnuts had blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that were 7 percent lower than the group that did not consume the nuts13

The work Holscher and her team completed builds on earlier research14 conducted at Louisiana State University in 2017. Working with lab rats for up to 10 weeks, Byerly and her colleagues discovered the walnut-eating group had different bacteria in its descending colon than rats eating a replacement diet containing comparable amounts of fat, protein and fiber.

In my opinion, the replacement diet of corn oil, protein casein and a cellulose fiber source was horrible and not an effective basis of comparison to walnuts. With the walnut diet, researchers noted the presence of increased amounts of beneficial bacterial. They also observed the numbers and types of bacteria changed, as did the bacteria's functional capacity. Said Byerly:15

"We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other nonrelated studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and diseases like inflammatory bowel disease. Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics, suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic."

Seaweed Also May Have a Beneficial Impact on Your Gut Health

In a study published in the journal Nature,16,17,18 researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have shown it’s possible to manipulate animal diets as a means of influencing their gut bacteria. In fact, the team, led by Justin Sonnenburg, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford, was able to control the amount of bacterium growing in mice intestines simply by adjusting the amount of a specific carbohydrate in their food and water.

Previously, a 2010 study19,20 published in Nature investigated the transfer of carbohydrate-active enzymes from marine bacteria to the human gut, particularly among Japanese people due to seaweed comprising a large portion of their diet. About the current body of work Sonnenburg said:21

"We're all endowed with a microbial community in our guts that assembled in a chaotic manner during our first few years of life. Although we continue to acquire new strains throughout life, this acquisition is a poorly orchestrated and not-well-understood process. This study suggests it could be possible to reshape our microbiome in a deliberate manner to enhance health and fight disease."

Despite the increased attention on the importance of gut health and probiotics, regardless of the source, little is known about why certain strains are more successful than others. As such, Sonnenburg and his colleagues speculated that a “dietary boost” would give specific bacterial strains an advantage inside the gut microbiome.

After choosing members of Bacteroides, the most prominent genus in human guts, the researchers sought to determine if the bacteria could use a carbohydrate called porphyrin, found in the sea vegetable nori. As to the choice of nori and that particular carbohydrate, Sonnenburg stated:22

"The genes that allow a bacterium to digest porphyran are exceedingly rare among humans that don't have seaweed as a common part of their diet. This allowed us to test whether we could circumvent the rules of complex ecosystems by creating a privileged niche that could favor a single microbe by allowing it to exist in the absence of competition from the 30 trillion other microbes in the gut."

Will Doctors One Day Be Able to Directly Manipulate Your Gut Bacteria to Fight Disease?

After identifying a nori-eating strain of Bacteroides, the Stanford scientists attempted to introduce it to three groups of lab mice:23

  • Two groups of mice had their gut bacteria wiped out and replaced with naturally occurring gut bacteria from two healthy human donors, each of whom donated exclusively to just one group of mice
  • The third group of mice retained a mouse-specific composition of gut microbiota

When all three groups were fed a standard mouse diet, researchers were successful in engrafting the porphyrin-digesting strain in only two groups, and only to varied and limited degrees. However, when the three groups were fed a porphyrin-rich diet, the bacteria engrafted at similar levels in all mice.

Notably, the team discovered they could precisely calibrate the size of the engrafted bacteria population simply by increasing or decreasing the amount of the isolated nori compound. About the results, which stunned researchers, Sonnenburg said:24

"The results of this dilution experiment blew us away. The direct effect of diet on the bacterial population was very clear. We can use these gene modules to develop a vast toolkit to make therapeutic microbial treatments a reality. Porphyran-digesting genes and a diet rich in seaweed is the first pair, but there could potentially be hundreds more. We'd like to expand this simple paradigm into an array of dietary components and microbes.

Our growing ability to manipulate [gut microbes] is going to change how precision health is practiced. A physician whose patient is about to begin immunotherapy for cancer may choose to also administer a bacterial strain known to activate the immune system, for example.

Conversely, a patient with an autoimmune disease may benefit from a different set of microbiota that can dial down an overactive immune response. They are just a very powerful lever to modulate our biology in health and disease."

Other Ways You Can Nourish Your Gut

Besides eating a few more walnuts and adding sea vegetables to your diet, below are other ways you can intentionally nourish your gut microbiome.

Fermented foods: I often highlight the importance of eating fermented foods to help "heal and seal" your gut. Culturing vegetables is easy and inexpensive and you also can make your own homemade yogurt, kefir or kimchi. These foods are not only packed with good bacteria, but also are detoxifying, immune-boosting and nutrient-rich. Fermented foods provide a wider variety of beneficial bacteria than you could ever receive in supplement form.

Prebiotic foods: A great way to support your friendly gut bacteria is by providing them with prebiotics, which are found primarily in fiber-rich foods. Lab research25 involving young rats found that dietary prebiotics have a significant effect on your rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep cycles. The following whole foods help add prebiotic fiber to your diet and improve the health of your microbiome, thus improving your overall health:26,27

Apples

Asparagus

Banana

Beetroot

Breast milk

Burdock root

Cashews

Chicory root

Couscous

Fennel bulb

Garlic

Grapefruit

Green peas

Jerusalem artichokes

Jicama

Konjac root

Leeks

Nectarines

Onion

Persimmon

Pistachios

Pomegranate

Savoy cabbage

Seaweed

Shallots

Snow peas

Tamarillo

Probiotics: While I highly recommend you obtain most of your nutrients from real food, probiotic supplements can be helpful if you are unable to eat fermented foods. For probiotics to do their job, you must nourish your microbiome with real food. That’s true because pathogenic, disease-causing bacteria thrive on sugar and processed food.

By eating whole, natural foods — plenty of healthy fats and organic vegetables, as well as moderate amounts of grass fed meat — you’re supporting the growth of your beneficial gut bacteria. Research suggests the benefits of probiotics aren’t limited to your gut, but also affect your immune system, mental health, mood and even your brain function. Probiotics have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression.

Sporebiotics: Spore-based probiotics, or sporebiotics, which are part of a group of derivatives of the microbe called bacillus, are a great complement to probiotics. Sporebiotics consist of the cell wall of bacillus spores, and they help boost your immune tolerance, especially when it comes to antibiotics.

Chronic low-dose exposure to antibiotics through your food, particularly with respect to meat sourced from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), takes a toll on your gut microbiome. This can result in chronic ill health and an increased risk of drug resistance.

Whatever steps you take — eating walnuts and sea vegetables, eliminating sugar and processed foods, adding prebiotic foods, incorporating fermented foods, taking probiotics or sporebiotics, or all of the above — I encourage you to begin optimizing your gut. A healthy gut will boost your immunity, help your body resist disease and positively affect your health and well-being in ways that may surprise you.

 

Eggs Are Good for Your Cholesterol

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

Chicken as the foundation of a delicious home-cooked meal has been an American mainstay for decades. Not centuries, you might ask? As a matter of fact, up until the 1920s, homesteaders filled chicken coops with chickens to fulfill one main purpose: to produce eggs.

Chickens weren't regarded as much beyond egg production until a new concept featuring chicken as a main course took flight in the late '40s. It was based, not surprisingly, on the food industry's initiative to find more uses for said chickens. Today we have a plethora of chicken recipes, from broth to casseroles to fried, not to mention nuggets. But what happened to eggs?

Eggs became a target based on the faulty premise of the medical establishment that eating too many yolks would drive up cholesterol and pack your carotid arteries with plaque. As recently as 2012, eggs were still being maligned and even deemed as health-damaging as smoking cigarettes, according to a Canadian journal.1 Many still believe this, and it's the misinformation that's damaging health, not egg consumption.

According to a recent study2 led by Nick Fuller at the University of Sydney, Australia, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eggs, "despite conflicting evidence continuing around the world," are not responsible for heart disease or high cholesterol. In fact, they're one of the most nutritious foods in your kitchen. When he led the first portion of the study, Fuller wrote that eggs can support several aspects of health, including eye, blood vessel and heart health, healthy pregnancies and fat regulation, noting:

"Despite being vilified for decades, dietary cholesterol is understood to be far less detrimental to health than scientists originally thought. The effect of cholesterol in our food on the level of cholesterol in our blood is actually quite small."3

Whether Two Eggs or a Dozen, Egg Intake Shows No Negative Results

The latest study notes that people with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes ate a dozen eggs a week for a year, at which point a series of tests showed no negative results whatsoever. Study participants consumed high (12), medium and low (two) eggs per week for the first three months. Times Now News explains:

"This was aimed at maintaining optimal weight for the three months. In a bid to lose weight, the same members were asked to embark on a weight loss plan while consuming the same amount of eggs they were consuming earlier. For six months, the participants continued on their consumption of eggs while they were monitored by the researchers."4

Prior to the study, Australian Men's Health observes, cardiovascular risk factors such as blood sugar and blood pressure levels were taken into account when the researchers gathered the results, as those are considered risk factors associated with egg consumption.

Interestingly, the study concluded that the 128 individuals in the study lost weight even on a high-egg diet and continued to lose when the study came to a close. Backing up the study results, the Australian Heart Foundation notes that "eggs are extremely nutritious (and) contain good quality protein and are a source of healthy fats including omega-3 fats."5 As for the cholesterol content:

"Eggs don't altercate the LDL levels in blood. An egg contains only 212 mg of cholesterol which is lesser than even the half recommended dietary allowance of cholesterol for a day. Since the liver already produces a large amount of cholesterol every day, consumption of eggs balances the ratio with the liver's production. In fact, eggs increase the HDL or good cholesterol levels in your body."6

Cholesterol in your blood known as LDL is narrowed down to two subtypes: dense, small particles and large, fluffy particles. The dense small-particle LDL type is what can be identified as a risk factor for increasing your heart disease risk, while people with large LDL particles have a lower risk, but here's the kicker: Eggs convert small LDL particles to large particles.7

The Problem With Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Is One of Perception

One of the biggest problems in the discussion regarding saturated fats and cholesterol is that the medical community hasn't explained it to the public very well, probably because there's a lot of confusion on the part of this collective majority.

The fact is, even though it may raise cholesterol, your lipid profile may actually improve when you eat more saturated fat, especially when you cut the amount of carbohydrates you consume, according to Dr. Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiologist consultant at Croydon University Hospitalin London.

Saturated fat not only increases your HDL, it also increases large, fluffy LDLs, which is what you want. On top of that, LDL has been grossly exaggerated as a risk factor for heart disease, with the exception of people who have a genetic abnormality. Malhotra notes:

"The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades. Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks.

Furthermore, the government's obsession with levels of total cholesterol, which has led to the overmedication of millions of people with statins, has diverted our attention from the more egregious risk factor of atherogenic dyslipidaemia [elevated levels of triglycerides and small-dense LDL and low levels of HDL cholesterol]."8

Interestingly, many of the scientists who are noting the increase in egg consumption and its role in causing "high cholesterol" talk about saturated fat as if it's still an enemy. Body and Soul explains:

"The truth is that cholesterol is a very important part of the body — and an essential element to good health. It is a structural molecule that is an essential part of every single cell membrane. It is used to make steroid hormones such as testosterone, (estrogen) and cortisol; helps your metabolism work efficiently; and produces bile acids, which helps the body digest fat and absorb important nutrients. The truth is, without cholesterol we wouldn't even exist."9

Reasons to Start (or Continue) Eating Eggs

Instead of focusing on the faulty science that made you worry unnecessarily about consuming too much cholesterol, there are numerous reasons to go ahead and enjoy them. They're loaded with vitamins and minerals; in fact, just one boiled egg imparts these very good-for-you nutrients, in terms of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI):

6 percent of the RDI in vitamin A

5 percent of the RDI in folate

7 percent of the RDI in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

9 percent of the RDI in vitamin B12

15 percent of the RDI in protein

15 percent of the RDI in vitamin B2

9 percent of the RDI in phosphorus

22 percent of the RDI in selenium

In addition, eggs contain a healthy amount of calcium, zinc and vitamins D, K, E and B6, as well as healthy fats. Lutein and zeaxanthin are important antioxidants that build up in the retinas of your eyes. This effectively protects your vision by inhibiting the development of cataracts and macular degradation, two of the world's most common and serious eye ailments.

Along with the high amounts of vitamin A, your vision is further defended with every egg you eat. Fuller reiterated that other nutritional advantages come through "micronutrients like carotenoids (for eye health), arginine (for healthy blood vessels) and folate (for healthy pregnancies and heart health)," according to the University's news release.10

Choline: Eggs Are a Main Source

One very important aspect of eggs is the rich source of choline — about 113 milligrams (mg) in a single egg, nearly 25 percent of your DRI — which is necessary for building cell wall membranes, producing the molecules crucial for brain signaling and to make the brain chemical acetylcholine, involved in storing memories.

It also helps prevent the buildup of homocysteine in your blood (linked to heart disease) and reduces chronic inflammation. Choline plays a crucial role in pregnant women, as it helps to prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida and, again, is very important for the brain development of unborn babies.

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, only 8 percent of U.S. adults are getting enough choline and only 8.5 percent of pregnant women are consuming adequate amounts.

Researchers added, "This research illustrates that it is extremely difficult to achieve the adequate intake for choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement."11 Conversely, symptoms associated with low choline levels include memory problems, lethargy and brain fog. Because your body can only synthesize small amounts at a time, you need to get it from your diet on a regular basis.

Eggs: Not Just for Breakfast

Perhaps just as important as what eggs do for your health may be what eggs do for your food. Not just for breakfast, eggs are used to make everything from healthy pancakes to egg salad. Incredible Egg12 notes five of the egg's top cooking functions; eggs:

  • Bind ingredients in prepared foods like meatloaf and salmon patties
  • Leaven baked "high-rises" such as soufflés and sponge cakes
  • Emulsify mayonnaise, salad dressings and hollandaise sauce
  • Clarify soups and thicken custards
  • Add color, flavor, moisture and nutrients to baked goods

The good news is, some of the egg dishes you may have been avoiding, not to mention eggs by themselves, yolk and all, are back on the table. That said, it's important to understand that not any old egg is "good" for eating. Organic, pastured eggs are the best by far, as they're not produced in a CAFO, or concentrated animal feeding operation, which yields eggs far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella.

Everything you need to know about every aspect of egg production and what constitutes farm-fresh eggs can be found right here. You'll note that the best way to eat your organic, pastured eggs is raw or very lightly cooked, such as poached, soft-boiled or overeasy with very runny yolks. However, if you're looking for something a little different, here's a healthy, delicious recipe, inspired by the National Heart Foundation of Australia:13

Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 medium (or 3 1/5 cups) sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 ounces baby spinach
  • 3.5 ounces grated mozzarella
  • 3.5 ounces grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Cracked black pepper to season

Procedure:

  1. Bake your sweet potatoes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for 45 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and stir for eight minutes until soft. Add the sweet potatoes shaking the pan for five minutes until light golden. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the skillet, then top with spinach. Sprinkle with mozzarella and cheddar. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl until well combined. Add parsley and season with pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the potato and spinach. Gently shake the pan to allow the egg to spread out for quicker cooking. Cook for 10 minutes or until the base and edges are firm but the top still a little soft. Remove from heat.
  4. Preheat an oven to about 350 degrees F. Place the frittata (still in the skillet) in the oven and cook for five minutes or until top is firm and light golden. Loosen the edges and cut into wedges. Serves 4.

 

What Is Camu Camu Good For?

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

Chances are, if you live in the U.S. and Europe, you may not have heard of camu camu (Myrciaria dubia, sometimes also referred to as cacari and camocamo), a small orange-red fruit, similar in size to that of a large cherry, with a tart flavor. The camu camu tree grows along Amazonian riverbanks in South America, and due to rapid perishability, you’re not likely to find it at the supermarket.

You can, however, find it in powder and tablet form, the former of which can be added as a light flavoring to various foods and beverages. As information about the nutritional composition of camu camu is becoming more widely available, demand has started to grow. As noted in a 2015 systematic review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:1

“The presence of inflammation can contribute to an accelerated aging process, the increasing presence of comorbidities, oxidative stress, and an increased prevalence of chronic pain. As patient-centered care is embracing a multimodal, integrative approach to the management of disease, patients and physicians are increasingly looking to the potential contribution of natural products.

Camu camu, a well-researched and innovative natural product, has the potential to contribute, possibly substantially, to this management paradigm. The key issue is to raise camu camu's visibility through increased emphasis on its robust evidentiary base and its various formulations, as well as making consumers, patients, and physicians more aware of its potential.”

A Vitamin C Powerhouse

Camu camu is perhaps most well-known for its vitamin C content, which exceeds even that of acerola cherries, which I personally grow at my home. Research suggests camu camu can contain anywhere from 1,882 to 2,280 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per 100 grams of fresh fruit.2

Acerola cherries, which come in at a close second, typically contain around 1,680 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Kiwi, another fruit noted for its vitamin C content, contains less than 93 mg per 100 grams, and both lemons and oranges contain just 53 mg per 100 grams.

As the fruit ripens, vitamin C content starts to diminish, though, so where the fruit is available in its raw form, it’s often eaten before fully ripened. This, however, will impact its flavor, as maximum flavor emerges when the fruit is fully ripe. Vitamin C is an important immune booster and helps defend against viral attacks and inflammation.

As such, camu camu is hailed for its ability to ameliorate ailments such as cold sores, herpes, shingles, cold and flu. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body doesn't store it. And, unlike most other mammals, humans do not have the ability to make vitamin C, which means you need to get it from your diet.

Vitamin C is also an essential cofactor in enzymatic reactions. In this way, it plays a role in your body's production of collagen, carnitine (which helps your body turn fat into energy), and catecholamines (hormones made by your adrenal glands). Vitamin C is also used by your body for wound healing, repairing and maintaining the health of your bones and teeth, and plays a role in helping your body absorb iron.3

A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also helps block some of the damage caused by DNA-damaging free radicals. Over time, free radical damage may accelerate aging and contribute to the development of heart disease and other health conditions. It's through this antioxidant effect that it's thought vitamin C may play a role in protecting heart health.

Other Nutritional Facts

Camu camu also contains a number of other valuable nutrients, including the following:4,5,6,7,8

Potassium, required for healthy heart and kidney function

Manganese: An excellent source of manganese, camu camu provides over 100 percent of your daily value per 100 grams of fresh fruit

Copper: Each 100 grams of fresh fruit provides about 10 percent of your daily value of copper

Carotenoids such as lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye and brain health

Flavonoids, primarily quercetin and kaempferol derivatives, the former of which has been shown to have very potent antiviral activity; 100 grams of fresh fruit contains about 400 mg of quercetin

Valine, an essential amino acid needed for the prevention of muscle breakdown. It’s also important for healthy function of your nervous system and supports cognitive function

Leucine, another essential amino acid needed for healthy muscle and bone growth and recovery. It’s also needed for the production of growth hormones

Serine, an amino acid that plays an important role in digestion, as it helps break down protein and polypeptide bonds

Gallic acid, which has antioxidant, antiviral and antifungal properties

Ellagic acid, which has antioxidant and antidiabetes properties. Limited evidence also suggests it may have anticancer effects

Dietary fiber: 100 grams of camu camu powder contains just over 33 grams of fiber

Beneficial Brain Effects

As you can see, camu camu contains a number of different antioxidants, making this fruit a potent weapon against free radical damage. Research suggests it can help reduce plaque buildup in the brain — a hallmark of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease9 — and boost cognitive function in younger adults, including improving focus, memory and concentration.

It’s also been shown to help relieve mood swings and anxiety, in part by acting as a mild sedative. It’s magnesium content, while not extraordinary, helps relax your body and mind, and antioxidants are thought to ease depression by eliminating inflammation. Aside from vitamin C, the anthocyanins, catechins and flavonols present in the fruit are also powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

Anti-Inflammatory, Antiviral and Antibacterial Properties

The anti-inflammatory effects of camu camu can also be helpful against any number of other inflammation-based conditions, such as arthritis, gout and migraine headaches. Smokers may also benefit from its high vitamin C content. In one study,10 smokers drank either camu camu juice or took vitamin C supplements each day for one week.

The camu camu group showed evidence of reduced oxidative stress, which plays a significant role in the development and pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, whereas the vitamin C group showed no change in antioxidant markers. The fruit also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and can help stave off a number of viral and bacterial infections, including E. coli and herpes.

Other Potential Uses for Camu Camu

Studies have also shown camu camu may:

Lower risk of infertility, specifically by protecting and supporting the health of the reproductive organs11

Facilitate growth and toning of muscle, thanks to its diversity of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other plant compounds. As such, camu camu may be a valuable workout supplement

Improve digestion, thanks to its fiber content

Lower risk of diet-induced obesity12

Lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, courtesy of fiber, which helps regulate insulin activity13

Support eye health and protect vision, courtesy of carotenoids.14 Carotenoids are important for the prevention of macular degeneration, the No. 1 cause of blindness in the elderly, as well as cataracts

Lower your risk of cancer, again thanks to the high amounts of about a dozen different antioxidant compounds in the fruit.15 Camu camu juice has also been shown to have antigenotoxic effects,16 meaning it helps reduce DNA damage that can lead to mutations and cancer

Normalize a woman’s menstrual cycle, thanks to its high vitamin C content, which has been shown to lengthen the luteal part of the menstrual cycle17,18

Increase progesterone production, again courtesy of vitamin C19

Protect against liver damage20

Contraindications and Warnings

While camu camu does not appear to have allergenic properties, and is generally safe, people with conditions related to high uric acid levels should use them cautiously, as these fruits may exacerbate uric acid-related conditions such as gout.

There’s also limited evidence to suggest they may interfere with the workings of chemotherapy drugs, so be sure to discuss the use of camu camu with your oncologist if you are undergoing cancer treatment. One case-report of acute hepatitis, thought to have been caused by daily camu camu supplementation, has also been reported.21

 

Weekly Health Quiz: Herbicides, EMFs and Creativity

 

 

1 Which of the following foods has been shown to lower blood pressure?

  • Regular cow's milk
  • Kefir and other fermented foods

    Research shows people who consume probiotics on a regular basis (in the form of yogurt, kefir or supplements, for example) tend to have lower blood pressure than those who do not consume probiotics. Learn more.

  • Wheat and other grains
  • Fruit

2 Which of the following is the most widely used herbicide in the world, with nearly 5 billion pounds (over 2 billion kilograms) being applied to farmland worldwide each year?

  • Chlorpyrifos
  • DDT
  • Atrazine
  • Glyphosate

    Between 1974 — the year glyphosate entered the U.S. market — and 2014, glyphosate use in the U.S. increased more than 250fold. The global use is close to 5 billion pounds a year, with approximately 300 million pounds being applied on U.S. farmland. Learn more.

3 Which of the following plant materials have been found to be helpful against ovarian cancer, reducing metastasis and slowing tumor growth?

  • Hemp cannabidiol (CBD)

    Recent research suggests CBD from hemp may be helpful against ovarian cancer, reducing metastasis and slowing ovarian cancer better than the current ovarian cancer drug Cisplatin. Learn more.

  • Green tea flavonols
  • Resveratrol
  • Quercetin

4 Self-control is dependent on the activation of your prefrontal cortex, an area that gets "short-circuited" when you're angry. Which of the following strategies has been shown to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex in as little as eight weeks?

  • Taking supplemental antioxidants
  • Brief daily meditation

    Scientifically proven ways to strengthen your prefrontal cortex and improve your self-control include eating a healthy diet, getting enough quality sleep, exercising regularly and managing daily stress. Brief daily meditation has been shown to increasing activity in the prefrontal cortex in as little as eight weeks. Learn more.

  • Walking barefoot (grounding)
  • Regular sun exposure

5 Which of the following strategies has been shown to increase creative output by an average of 60 percent?

  • Sun exposure
  • Grounding
  • Walking

    Stanford University research shows walking increases creative output by an average of 60 percent, compared to sitting still. Walking also boosts health and increases longevity. Learn more.

  • Infrared saunas

6 Which of the following sources of electromagnetic fields is the most common in residential homes?

  • Electric fields

    Electric fields are the most common in modern homes, thanks to the use of unshielded wiring. It's important to measure electrical fields and not just magnetic fields when checking EMF levels, as the former can also have a very detrimental effect on your health. Learn more.

  • Magnetic fields
  • Radio frequencies
  • Cellphones and Wi-Fi Routers

7 Which of the following statements is true?

  • Fluoride should not be removed from tap water as it is easy to filter out
  • Drinking fluoridated water helps prevent cavities
  • Fluoride is stored in your soft tissue
  • More than 180 studies show fluoride is a neurotoxin that can damage the brain

    More than 180 studies show fluoride causes neurotoxic harm. There's also evidence showing fluoride is an endocrine disruptor and that it suppresses thyroid function. Learn more.

 

Guilt-Free Butternut Squash ‘Risotto’ Recipe

 

 

Recipe From PaleoHacks

Risotto is one of the many Italian dishes that have made their way into the hearts of thousands, even millions, of people around the world. A common staple food in Italy, risotto has been around for hundreds of years, starting from the point when rice was introduced to the region.

Although risotto is traditionally made with grain, changes in the recipe are now being done, giving you a surplus of healthier and tastier variations. One example is this delicious, no-grain butternut squash “risotto” from Felicia Lim of Paleohacks.

Butternut Squash Cauliflower Risotto

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and divided
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried garlic and parsley mix
Salt to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Procedure:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Toss the cubed butternut squash with 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Spread the pieces in a single layer on a baking tray.
  • Roast for 40 minutes, flipping over the squash halfway through.
  • While the squash is cooking, make the cauliflower rice by placing the florets in a food processor and pulsing them into the size of rice.
  • Melt the remaining coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  • Mix in the cauliflower rice and sauté for two minutes. Add the water, bay leaves, dried garlic and parsley. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
  • Once the butternut squash is ready, mix it into the cauliflower risotto until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Add salt. Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

What Is Risotto?

Being one of the top producers of rice in Europe, it’s no surprise that this grain is a main ingredient in a number of Italian recipes, including arancini and risotto. One common misconception: The term “risotto” does not directly refer to the grain used, but refers to the process in which the grain is cooked.

The traditional way that risotto is prepared is by using good quality rice and broth. The slow cooking process allows the rice to fully absorb the broth, lending it a rather creamy and flavorful taste.

Risotto is traditionally made with short, starchy rice, with Arborio and Carnaroli being two of the most popular choices. However, if you want to make a gluten-free dish, cauliflower works as a great substitute.

Why Cauliflower Is a Worthy Substitute for Rice

While rice itself contains specific nutritional components, it may also pose risks, especially if high amounts are eaten regularly, as it has been shown to increase postprandial blood glucose response. Cauliflower, on the other hand, has proven to be a deserving substitute not just for its rice-like texture, but also due to its nutrient density. In fact, cauliflower contains a surplus of flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidants, which may help combat numerous body conditions. Some of the benefits you may get from cauliflower include:

  • Reduced inflammation: Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory component that may help inhibit inflammatory responses in the body. In a 2017 animal study, it was found that cauliflower leaf powder supplementation may help animals combat inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Lower risk for cancer: Cruciferous vegetables have been linked to cancer prevention due to their bioactive compounds, one of which is sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been found to be chemoprotective by facilitating a cytotoxic response in cancer cells.

 

  • Enhanced brain development in babies in-utero: Cauliflower contains high amounts of choline, a component that is essential for brain development. In a 2004 study, it was found that prenatal choline supplementation may promote the development of hippocampal pyramidal cells and, in turn, improve memory and other brain functions in adulthood.

Get These Benefits From Butternut Squash

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) is a variety of winter squash that is loaded with numerous nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A and C. Some of the benefits that you may get if you decide to try out this recipe are:

  • Aids in digestion. A 1-cup serving (205 grams) of butternut squash contains 6.6 grams of fiber, which may help improve digestion and fight constipation.
  • May combat macular degeneration. Butternut squash contains high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C. These nutrients may help slow down or stop the progression of macular degeneration by fighting oxidative stress.
  • Helps maintain heart health. A cup of butternut squash contains 582 mg of potassium, a mineral that has been found to regulate blood pressure.

Follow These Tips to Choose the Right Squash

A lot of people might find it extremely hard to pick just the right squash since the ripening process is opposite to that of other fruits or vegetables. However, if you’re not entirely sure how to pick one out, there’s nothing to worry about. Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure that you get just the right vegetable for this recipe:

  • Choose a squash that has a firm and matte exterior. Unlike other fruits, the exterior of a squash hardens the more it ripens.
  • Knock on the squash’s skin to check for ripeness. Ripe squashes usually sound hollow, while unripe ones sound dull.
  • Avoid squashes that have a moldy stem, cracks or soft spots. This usually means that the squash is already overripe and unfit for consumption.

Another thing to note is that winter squashes were found to contain high pesticide residue, which means that they absorb more pesticides compared to other fruits and vegetables. So, if you’re planning on shopping for squashes for this recipe, it would be best that you go for organic ones. Better yet, you can make your way to your local farmers market where you can ensure the quality and source of the produce you’ll be eating.

Why Should You Use Coconut Oil for Cooking?

The abundance of cooking oils available in the market today may make it hard for you to determine what the safest or healthiest option is. The good news is that you don’t have to look far and wide to search for the perfect oil to cook with, as the best one is actually widely available, albeit it’s been demonized by the food industry for a number of years.

Coconut oil has been around for hundreds of years, with people using it for dietary or personal care purposes. Because of the impressive components found in coconut oil, including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil offers a handful of health benefits you can get once you make the switch. Coconut oil may help:

  • Improve brain function. Coconut oil contains high levels of medium-chain fatty acids, which are readily absorbed and converted into ketones. Ketones are used as a healthy fuel alternative for the brain, reducing its dependence on glucose. MCT supplementation has also been linked to better cognitive function in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Protect you from cardiovascular diseases. Although coconut oil has been claimed to heighten your risk for cardiovascular disease, scientific studies prove otherwise. In fact, a 2016 study showed that the reduction of saturated fat intake had little impact in reducing mortality caused by cardiovascular disease. In addition, coconut oil has been found to increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels, which may lower heart disease risk.
  • Combat harmful pathogens in the gut. The overgrowth of G. albicans, a fungal pathogen that may infect the GI tract and cause bloodstream infection, may be controlled by coconut oil, according to an animal study published in the Nutrition and Metabolism journal.

This Butternut Squash Risotto Is a Delicious and Nutrient-Filled Dish for Your Family

As a popular dish, risotto may be one of the recipes that’s hard to tweak because of its distinct texture and flavor profile. However, this has not stopped cooks and chefs from around the world from changing it up, paving the way for healthier options, which include this Butternut Squash Risotto recipe. If you’re tired of the usual risotto they serve at Italian restaurants or you just want to prepare something new for yourself or your family, this recipe would be perfect.

It’s also important to learn how to cook this vegetable properly. Fortunately, there are several different methods you can try. Read my article, “How to Cook Butternut Squash,” for more helpful tips.
 
About the Blog:
Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo, from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.

 

Update on the Movement Against Water Fluoridation

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

In this interview, Paul Connett, PhD, toxicologist, environmental chemist and the founder FAN, Fluoride Action Network (FAN), an organization that has fought to remove toxic fluoride from water supplies across the world, provides an important and exciting update on FAN's progress during this past year.  FAN is an organization that has fought to remove toxic fluoride from the water supply across the world.

Over the past 18 years, FAN has helped hundreds of communities around the US, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Israel and New Zealand fight the reckless and unethical practice of water fluoridation.  

Unprecedented Lawsuit Against EPA

In November 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and several individual mothers, filed a petition calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to the drinking water under provisions in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The petition included more than 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing the risks of water fluoridation to human health, including more than 180 studies published since 2006 showing fluoride causes neurotoxic harm and reduces IQ.

"Under the TSCA, the EPA has authority to ban the uses of chemicals that present unreasonable risks to the general public or to susceptible subpopulations. We've brought this case on the grounds that adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water presents an unreasonable risk to the general public, especially to some susceptible subpopulations," Connett explains.

In its February 27, 2017, response,1 the EPA claimed the petition had failed to "set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride." Fortunately, the TSCA statute provides citizens with the ability to challenge an EPA denial in federal court, which is where we are now.

"Water fluoridation needs to end," Connett says. "The United States needs to follow the path of Europe and take fluoride out of the water supply. Those who want it can get it in toothpaste and dental products, which gives everyone the right to choose whether they want to use fluoride or not.

We can apply fluoride in a targeted fashion to the one tissue of the body that stands to benefit — the teeth — and keep it away from everywhere else, particularly to the brain. The focus of our lawsuit is on fluoride's effects on the brain, for which there is a large and growing body of research."

Federal Judge to Assess Fluoride Hazards

The current White House administration has vigorously opposed federal regulatory actions and has already reversed many of the environmental safety precautions previously established. This raises serious questions with regard to fluoride, because even if the lawsuit against the EPA turns out to be successful, the Trump administration could easily do something to eliminate its impact. While this is certainly a risk, Connett explains the importance of this historic case.

"One of the reasons we are excited about having this case now in federal court is that it takes this issue away from the federal health agencies, which have really been unable to get past the dogma on this issue.

Here, we have a federal judge who's going to look at the evidence. What's powerful about this TSCA statute, is it commands that the judge not defer to the EPA. The judge can't simply say, 'It's good enough for the EPA, it's good enough for me.' The language in the statute says that it is to be a de novo proceeding, meaning without deference to the federal agency.

Not only that, but we had a lengthy argument earlier this year where EPA tried to limit the scope of what we could bring to the court's attention. The judge denied that motion. We are going to be able to get discovery against the EPA. We're going to be able to request internal documents. We're going to be able to submit interrogatories to them and depose their experts.

It's going to be a nice fact-finding mission for us, in addition to having an opportunity to have the best evidence presented by the best experts before this federal judge. If the judge agrees with us [and] finds that there's an unreasonable risk, he has the authority to order EPA to begin proceedings to eliminate the risk of fluoride in drinking water. That would be a truly historic and unprecedented situation. We really are excited about the potential that this case brings."

Help Fund Legal Action to End Water Fluoridation

The trial date has been set for August 2019. While Michael is recruiting experts to testify in this case FAN continues its campaign to educate the public of fluoridation's dangers, especially the threat it poses to the developing brain.

In May FAN launched an urgent campaign to warn women to avoid fluoride during pregnancy in response to a major US government funded study which found a strong correlation between fluoride exposure during pregnancy and lowered IQ in offspring (Bashash et al, 2017 and Thomas et al, 2018).

The government and the media should be issuing these warnings but they aren't. So FAN – a relatively small non-profit organization – has taken on this huge task itself. Please help fund this important campaign by making a tax-deductible donation to FAN.

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

Legal Expectations

FAN's contention in this case is that adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water presents an unreasonable health risk. If the court agrees, the judge would order EPA to initiate a rule-making proceeding to eliminate that risk. And, while the judge cannot tell the EPA exactly what to do, the most obvious solution that would eliminate this risk would be to no longer add fluoride to drinking water.

Now, there are many powerful organizations that still support water fluoridation, including the American Dental Association (ADA), which supports not only fluoridation but also mercury fillings. The ADA has become quite notorious for ignoring the risks of toxic substances. With that in mind, Connett suspects that if FAN wins the case, there will be a rash of lobbying and pressure on the EPA to find a way to address the problem without actually banning fluoridation outright.

"We can cross that bridge when we get to it, but the EPA potentially could consider lowering the fluoride levels even further," he says. "But I think, really, if the judge finds that there's unreasonable risk, the one real solution that fixes the problem is just banning fluoridation. That's what the United States should be doing …

Western Europe demonstrates to us that this is possible. Countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, they used to fluoridate some of their water supplies, but they decided to end the practice. Western Europe shows us that we can do it here as well.

When you couple the new research linking low-level fluoride exposures to adverse effects on the brain with the fact that we now know you don't need to swallow fluoride for the one benefit it may provide, then it makes no sense to be forcing hundreds of millions of people to swallow this every day — not just through their water supply, but also through the foods and beverages that our water is used for."

Water Fluoridation Gives False Appearance of Dental Care

One of the reasons why it's so important to eliminate water fluoridation is because this chemical is very difficult to remove. You can remove some or a significant amount using distillation, reverse osmosis and special filtration media, but the vast majority of water filters that people have access to will not remove fluoride. So, you might filter your water, thinking you've purified it, but you haven't eliminated one of the most significant hazards.

A primary target population for fluoridation is low-income communities, on the grounds that they have less access to dentists and are therefore in greater need of dental care. However, water fluoridation in no way, shape or form addresses this very real need. Adding fluoride chemicals to the drinking water is not dental care. As noted by Connett, "It's an illusion of dental care." What's worse, low-income populations are also more likely to suffer the ill effects of fluoride, as few can afford to buy expensive water filtration systems.

"There's plenty of reason to believe that lower income populations will be more vulnerable to fluoride's toxicity, because we know that good nutrition and healthy diets are critical to making one less susceptible to fluoride's toxicity," Connett says. "Having inadequate levels of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, protein — those are things we know can cause you to be more susceptible to suffering harm from fluoride.

We know that deficient nutrient intakes are more common in low-income populations, as well as certain diseases, like kidney disease and diabetes. Both of which make one more susceptible to fluoride toxicity, [yet] lower income populations are the very population targeted with fluoridation campaigns today. It's a very problematic situation."

What's Motivating the Promoters of Fluoridation?

Considering the evidence against fluoride, you might wonder what the motivation for the promoters might be. Just what incentives do the ADA and other industries have for continuing to promote it? One major factor is simply organizational and political inertia. Fluoride has been vigorously promoted as a health promoting tactic for decades. It's extremely difficult for those organizations to now change their tune and admit they were wrong this whole time, and have actually caused people harm.

In the early days of water fluoridation, there were of course political and financial incentives. Chris Bryson's book, "The Fluoride Deception," reveals the role the war-making industries in the U.S. — the aluminum, steel and bomb industry in the '30s, '40s and '50s — and their role in funding fluoride research.

"They had every interest in the world to not find fluoride to be harmful at low levels, because they were exposing workers and communities to fluoride pollution," Connett says. "They were the very people funding a lot of the key early research to explain how fluoride affects human health.

I think you had a corruption of the science early on in this issue. But the question of 'Why do we fluoridate water?' Honestly, it's a hard question. It's a complex question. I think there are a lot of people who absolutely and genuinely believe it's a good thing."

One of the most encouraging developments we're now seeing is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding much-needed studies looking at how fluoride affects the brain at low levels. The first NIH-funded paper was published last fall by a team of researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Michigan, Harvard and Indiana University. In the past, most of these kinds of safety studies were done by ardent pro-fluoridation advocates.

"There was a pretty vigorous suppression of scientific dissent in the early days of fluoridation. Today, we're seeing the emergence of independent researchers who now have the means to study this issue. We're starting to see the emergence of a more vigorous academic debate. I think that's a really important development … that will help us get out of the politics," Connett says.

How Fluoride Affects Your Brain and Thyroid

As noted by Connett, there are more than 50 human population studies that have linked elevated fluoride levels with neurological effects, particularly lower IQ. More than 200 animal studies also support this link, showing fluoride has adverse effects on the brain, including detrimental effects on learning and memory. The evidence quite clearly shows that fluoride is a neurotoxin. The evidence also shows fluoride is an endocrine disruptor.

The question is at what doses do such effects occur, and how do these doses vary based on individual susceptibility? According to Connett, the evidence suggests brain effects occur at doses that are very close to what many Americans are getting on a daily basis.

More than 20 papers have found effects of fluoride exposure on IQ at around 2 parts per million (ppm), and in the U.S., the recommended fluoride level in water is 0.7 ppm. "It's within the factor of 3. That's a pretty small margin," Connett notes, because you're also getting it from other foods and beverages, plus fluoridated toothpaste.

Fluoride also affects your thyroid gland. In fact, in the '50s and '60s, fluoride was used as a drug to lower thyroid activity in patients with overactive thyroid.

By adding fluoride to water, it may be lowering thyroid function in people with normal or underactive thyroid, leading to hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism, which carries a range of significant health effects, including obesity, heart disease and depression. We also know that suboptimal thyroid functioning during pregnancy can affect a child's cognitive development, so this may actually be one of the mechanisms by which fluoride affects the brain.

Fluoride Also Harms Your Teeth and Bones

Systemic fluoride also damages teeth, causing staining and pitting of the enamel known as dental fluorosis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 58 percent of American adolescents now have some form of dental fluorosis.

"Tens of millions of kids now have dental fluorosis, which is a visible sign of overexposure," Connett says. "Which begs the question, 'If fluoride is affecting the tooth-forming cells and causing this visible effect, what is it doing to the tissues in the body that we can't see?' [The high rate of fluorosis today] highlights that we're getting way more fluoride than was ever envisioned by the proponents of fluoridation back in the '40s and '50s.

When they started fluoridation back in the 1940s and '50s, the proponents of the policy … stated that they wanted to keep the level of dental fluorosis in the population to no more than 10 to 15 percent of children, and only in its mildest forms. Beyond that [it] would be a public health issue, they said. Fast-forward 70 years to where we are today, and you have 58 percent of American adolescents … with dental fluorosis.

We are far past the level that the proponents — not the opponents — considered permissible and acceptable when the policy began.

We really need to take a step back and look at this and say, 'Is there any need whatsoever to be supplementing every person's daily intake of fluoride by adding it en masse to water supplies and, with it, all our processed foods and beverages?' There's simply no need, because it's so easy to get fluoride. If you want it, you just … buy toothpaste with fluoride in it."

As for your bones, fluoride has somewhat paradoxical effects. While it tends to increase the density of trabecular bone in the spine, it decreases the bone density in cortical bone, which is more prevalent in the appendicular skeleton such as leg and arm bones, as well as the hip.

And, while the density might be increased in certain types of bone, the new bone structure is structurally inferior bone that is more prone to fracture. "I think U.S. health authorities were premature to dismiss concerns about fluoride's effects on the bone. I think that remains a substantial concern with the current exposures," Connett says.

 

Important Facts on Depression: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

 

 

It’s normal for people to sometimes feel sad, disappointed or disheartened, especially when they experience low points in their life. However, these “blues” usually go away when any happy circumstances occur.

But in some people, this low mood becomes persistent and lasts a long time — for weeks, months or even years. And if it comes with other hallmark symptoms, such as lack of interest in enjoyable activities, a feeling of hopelessness or thoughts about self-harm or even suicide, then watch out: You may be suffering from depression.

Depression Defined: Know the Facts

The Mayo Clinic defines depression, also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), as "a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” This debilitating condition affects you entirely — how you behave, think and feel — and paves the way for emotional and physical problems to arise. Depressed individuals usually struggle with completing their day-to-day tasks, feeling as if there’s no more point in living.1

According to the Australian nonprofit organization Beyond Blue, there are different subtypes of depression depending on the symptoms, the intensity and their triggers. Some of the most common ones include manic depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or “the winter blues” and antepartum and postpartum depression (occurs specifically in pregnant women and new mothers).2

Depression is a widespread global problem, with over 300 million people dealing with this severe mood disorder today.3 Even in developed, industrialized countries, depression is rampant. In fact, in the United States, between 2013 and 2016, 8.1 percent of Americans who were 20 years old and older suffered from depression in a given two-week period.4

This Disorder Is Now a Prevalent Problem

Depression is not a simple condition that you can “snap out of.” If not addressed immediately, it can damage your physical health, leading to low immunity and worsened pain, or worse, substance abuse. According to a study published in Current Opinion in Psychiatry, up to 33 percent of people suffering from clinical depression are prone to drug or alcohol problems.5

Even more alarming is the link between depression and suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, depression is the psychiatric diagnosis that is most commonly linked to suicide.6 It’s said that 30 to 70 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from major depression or bipolar disorder.7,8

Keep an Eye Out for the Signs — Before It’s Too Late

Depression does not discriminate between gender, race or social status. Anyone can be predisposed to it. Given its potentially dangerous effects, it’s only wise to take the necessary precautions to address and treat this disorder before it spirals out of control. But a word to the wise: Antidepressants and other medications are NOT the best solution for depression, and may even have more debilitating and long-term side effects.

Read these articles and learn important facts about depression, including its hallmark symptoms, devastating effects and how to avoid it. Plus, learn natural yet useful remedies that will help alleviate this disorder but will not put you at risk for side effects, unlike conventional antidepressant medications. Stay informed now, so you can avoid or address this mental disorder immediately.

MORE ABOUT DEPRESSION

Depression: Introduction

What is Depression?

Depression in Men and Women

Childhood Depression

Depression During Pregnancy

Depression Duration

Depression Causes

Types of Depression

Depression Symptoms

Depression Effects

Depression Treatment

Depression Prevention

Depression Diet

Postpartum Depression

Manic Bipolar Depression

Major Depressive Disorder

Depression Test

Chronic Depression

Seasonal Depression

Psychotic Depression

Depression FAQ

Next

What is Depression?

 

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Gluten?

 

 

The word “gluten” has become such a buzzword in recent years, most likely because of the sudden popularity of the gluten-free diet that’s been endorsed by famous personalities. Before you consider trying this diet, read this page first to learn about gluten, and how it can negatively impact your body and health in the long run.

What Is Gluten?

A type of protein, gluten is composed of glutenin and gliadin molecules that form an elastic bond when mixed with water. Gluten is highly noted for its adhesive abilities that can maintain a compact structure for holding bread and cakes together, and providing a spongier texture. This ability isn’t surprising, considering that the word “gluten” is derived from the Latin word for “glue.”

While it does wonders for these foods, the same cannot be said for your body. Research has shown that gluten can be quite harmful for you because of the vast range of complications it might cause (more on this to come in a while).

What Does Gluten Do to Your Body?

A major caveat linked to gluten is its tendency to impede proper nutrient breakdown and absorption from foods, regardless if they have gluten or not. This may prevent proper digestion because excess gluten leads to the formation of a glued-together constipating lump in the gut. Afterward, the undigested gluten prompts the immune system to attack the villi, or the fingerlike projections lining your small intestine.1 This may lead to side effects such as  diarrhea or constipation, nausea and abdominal pain.

Excessive gluten consumption and further small intestine damage and inflammation may predispose a person to nutrient malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis, other neurological or psychological diseases, and complications linked to the skin, liver, joints, nervous system and more.

What Are the Types of Food That Contain Gluten?

Gluten is predominantly found in whole grains like rye, barley, triticale and oats; in wheat varieties like spelt, kamut, farro, durum; and in other products like bulgar and semolina.2 Wheat-based flours and byproducts that also contain high quantities of this protein include:3,4,5,6

Wheat-Based Flours Wheat Byproducts

White flour

Whole wheat flour

Graham flour

Triticale

Wheat germ

Wheat bran

Pasta

Couscous

Bread, bread crumbs and croutons

Flour tortillas

Cookies, cakes, muffins and pastries

Cereal

Crackers

Beer

Gravy, dressings and sauces

Conventional oats (these have a high chance of being contaminated during the growing, harvesting or processing stages

If there’s another compelling reason why you shouldn’t eat processed foods, it’s because these items often contain gluten. Here are examples of foods with gluten, even though they’re not made from grains:7,8

Processed broth and bouillon cubes9

 

Fried foods

 

Candies

 

Lunch meats and hot dogs

Cold cuts

Dumplings

Self-basting poultry

Crab cakes

Imitation fish

Seasoned rice10

Matzo

Modified food starch11

Salad dressings

Seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods

Processed yogurt12

Ice cream cones

Even worse, manufacturers deceive customers by “hiding” gluten products like wheat under other names in food labels, such as:13,14

Malts

Starches and other derivatives

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)

Hydrolyzed wheat protein15

Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Common Signs of a ‘Gluten Allergy’ You Should Watch Out For

Consuming too much gluten can prompt various complications, such as a gluten allergy, wherein the immune system produces “weapons” to combat gluten in your system. However, a gluten allergy is not to be confused with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity16 or celiac disease.17 It is quite similar to other food allergies, since these are all responses to a particular allergen. Some of the most common gluten allergy symptoms are:

Coughing

Nasal congestion

Sneezing

Tightness of throat

Asthma

Tingling

Itching

Tongue and/or throat swelling

A metallic taste in your mouth

Abdominal pain

Muscle spasms

Vomiting

Diarrhea


As the book “Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies” further highlights, a gluten allergy may lead to adverse effects such as anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic shock that may affect different organs. People may experience agitation, hives, breathing problems, reduced blood pressure levels, fainting or even death, if the reaction is very severe.18

Warning Signs of Gluten Intolerance

Should the immune system have an unusual response to gluten in your system, then it might be a sign that you have gluten intolerance.19 Sometimes it can be mistaken for celiac disease (another gluten-related disorder) or a wheat allergy.20 The root cause of a gluten intolerance is not fully understood, although it has been linked to the digestive system, compared to celiac disease where a genetic link has been found.21

Typical gluten intolerance symptoms include bloating, belly pain, diarrhea, tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell. Someone with a gluten intolerance might also experience these indicators, although these are less frequent and already affect areas beyond the gut:

Joint or muscle pain

Anxiety

Headache

Nausea

Confusion

Numbness

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. This will help you determine whether you have gluten intolerance or if the symptoms occur because of other health reasons. This greatly applies if you or someone you know has severe belly pain. An extreme stomachache is not a sign of gluten intolerance, so it might be due to another potentially devastating disease that may require immediate treatment.

Having gut-related symptoms checked immediately may be helpful too, as numerous conditions that target the gut can overlap with other diseases. Fortunately, these can be examined during a checkup and your doctor may rule out other causes. Take note that symptoms of gluten intolerance are generally similar to those of celiac disease, although the reactions that people with these conditions experience aren’t identical.

To diagnose a gluten intolerance, it’s important that you continue eating your usual meals, especially if it’s abundant in foods with gluten. This could help the doctor determine the main cause of the symptoms. An inaccurate diagnosis might occur if the patient decides to stop eating gluten-loaded foods prior to, or during, a consultation.22

Common Indicators of Gluten Sensitivity

In various studies, gluten sensitivity is also called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) as celiac disease patients are sensitive to gluten too. The difference between a gluten sensitivity and celiac disease is that the former may be triggered not just by wheat, but by other grains like rye and barley, too, as these grains are known to have the glutenin and gliadin proteins (or protein fragments) also found in wheat.23

Typical symptoms of gluten sensitivity include nausea, skin irritation, bloating and gas, brain fog and fatigue. However, these indicators can widely vary and may also occur alongside gynecologic conditions, lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.24

Because there is no specific laboratory test for gluten sensitivity, your physician will have to rule out other possible causes. In some cases, patients may need to be checked for wheat allergy or celiac disease. Should test results be negative, a gluten-free diet may be advised.25 However, if any of the aforementioned tests deliver positive results, then you may want to continue eating gluten-rich foods for a more accurate diagnosis.26

Why a Gluten-Free Diet Works

A gluten-free diet is an important course of action for combating gluten-related disorders, and picking gluten-free foods is the first step in doing so. Because there are foods that are incorrectly labeled “gluten-free,” it may be quite tricky at first to select the correct items. A set of guidelines on proper gluten-free labeling standards released in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may help. The organization states that for a food product to bear the gluten-free label and be considered such, it must be:

Naturally gluten-free: Rice, non-GMO corn, quinoa, sorghum, flax and amaranth seed are naturally gluten-free grains.

Refined to remove gluten: Gluten must be removed from any gluten-containing grain. As such, the final product should not contain more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

Extreme vigilance is only likely if you have celiac disease, since exposure to gluten can cause sickness and threaten your health in the long run. What’s great about a gluten-free diet is that nearly everyone can benefit from it, whether you have a gluten intolerance or not. Grains, even whole sprouted varieties, tend to cause many problems because of the following factors:

Wheat hybridization

Gluten

Other wheat proteins

Fructans

Milling or baking process

Glyphosate contamination

Grains have high net carbs, so removing them from your diet can help improve mitochondrial function. Taking care of your mitochondrial health is important if you want to reduce your risk for problems linked to insulin resistance, such as being overweight and having high blood pressure levels, as well as diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Prior to beginning a gluten-free diet, consult a dietitian or health expert who can give advice on how to effectively avoid foods with gluten while eating a healthy and balanced diet.27

Best Foods to Eat if Following a Gluten-Free Diet

Once you’re given the go-signal to try a gluten-free diet, stock up on these natural and unprocessed foods:28,29

Beans (provided that you try to sprout and/or ferment your beans to reduce its lectin content, which may negatively impact your health in the long run)

Seeds (chia, pumpkin or sunflower)

Nuts (pecans, macadamias or walnuts)

Organic and pasture-raised eggs

Organic and grass fed meats that aren’t breaded, batter-coated or marinated

Fish (wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and herring) that aren’t breaded, batter-coated or marinated

Organically grown, GMO-free fruits and vegetables

Raw, grass fed milk or yogurt

Healthy fat sources (raw  grass fed butter, coconuts and coconut oil, olives and olive oil and avocados)

If you think going on a gluten-free diet limits eating choices and preparations, you’d be surprised to know that it won’t. Type “gluten-free recipes” on a search engine and you’ll see a wide variety of gluten-free recipes, ranging from savory to sweet. A good and delicious example is this Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes Recipe from MindBodyGreen:30

Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes Recipe

  • 1/2 cup Dr. Mercola's coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 organic, pastured eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dr. Mercola's coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup raw cow's milk or coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of Dr. Mercola's Himalayan salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons organic, raw grass fed butter, plus more for serving
  • Pure maple syrup to drizzle (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
  2. Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients: the eggs, coconut oil, milk and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. (If it feels a little dry, add more milk until it reaches the consistency you're after).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add scoops of batter (about a 1/4 cup each) for silver dollar pancakes. Cook for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Slather with butter and drizzle maple syrup as desired.

This recipe makes about 16 small pancakes.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Additional Reminders When Following a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten Free & More magazine highlights these important tips for people who are following a gluten-free diet:31

Read labels carefully: Knowing how to read labels properly will greatly help if you’re following a gluten-free diet. Ideally, never assume something is gluten-free even if the word “gluten” isn’t anywhere in the list.32 As mentioned earlier, some manufacturers purposely use other names to hide gluten in their products.

If you’re in doubt, don’t buy the product: If you cannot verify that the product is free of grains, don’t buy or eat it at all. The same principle applies if you cannot find an ingredients list on the product.

Remember that being wheat-free doesn’t automatically make a food gluten-free: This is because spelt, rye or barley-based ingredients, all of which contain gluten, may be used in products with a wheat-free label on them.

Introduce new foods slowly: Ensure that you incorporate only one new food at a time, and take note of symptoms before adding another item.

Be a “food detective”: Call, email or write a letter to a food manufacturer to verify a product’s ingredients. Take note of the ingredient and the lot number of the food. Once you are in touch with a representative, clearly state your concerns and be persistent, polite and patient.

 

Does a Full Moon Affect Human Behavior?

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

This natural phenomenon takes place once every 29.53 days, or roughly once a month. As it did in March 2018, it sometimes appears twice a month. It occurs when the moon is completely illuminated by the sun's rays as a result of the Earth being nearly directly aligned between the sun and the moon. By now, you probably know what it is: a full moon.

Urban legend suggests the full moon brings out the worst in both people and situations. If you talk to emergency room (ER) personnel, firefighters, paramedics and police officers, they very likely will share a story or two about the “lunacy” that occurs on nights when the sky is enlivened by a full moon.

By the way, the word lunacy and a related term “lunatic,” which was coined in the mid-16th century to refer to a temporary insanity in humans attributable to changes in the moon, have their origin in the Latin root “luna,” which means moon.

According to Scientific American, “Belief in the ‘lunar lunacy effect,’ or ‘Transylvania effect,’ as it is sometimes called, persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages, when humans were widely reputed to transmogrify into werewolves or vampires during a full moon.”1 But is it true? Does a full moon negatively affect human behavior? Let’s take a closer look at the facts.

The Full Moon Has Been Said to Cause Accidents, Crimes, Suicides and More

Eric Chudler, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the department of bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, has compiled research highlighting possible links between a full moon and human behavior. Below are the major categories of activities and experiences noted by Chudler that have been associated with increased activity during a full moon:2

Anxiety and depression

Animal bites

Accidents

Crime

Drug overdoses

ER visits

Hospital admissions

Suicides

Violence and aggression

According to Chudler, while urban legend persists, the scientific results related to how full moons affect human behavior are somewhat inconclusive. He states:3

“Perhaps one of the first things you notice about [lunar] studies is that the results are inconsistent. Some studies show a particular behavior will occur more often during the full moon and other studies show no relationship between the behavior and the full moon.

Although most experiments fail to show a relationship between the phase of the moon and abnormal behavior, the belief in the ‘lunar effect’ is still strong among many people. Unfortunately, the occasional newspaper story that describes strange behaviors during a full moon only reinforces this myth.”

German Researchers Debunk Influence of Friday the 13th, Full Moons and Zodiac Signs

While anecdotal evidence may suggest a full moon triggers strange human behavior, such as more ER visits, more psychiatric admissions and more traffic accidents, the scientific evidence doesn’t seem to support the belief there is a so-called “dark side of the moon” when it is full.4

For example, a 2011 study published in the World Journal of Surgery suggests that while a significant portion of medical staff believe lunar phases can affect human behavior, the evidence does not support such a conclusion. The study authors said:5

“The influence of superstition, moon calendars and popular belief on evidence-based medicine is stunning. More than 40 percent of medical staff is convinced that lunar phases can affect human behavior. The idea that Friday the 13th is associated with adverse events and bad luck is deep-rooted in the population of Western industrialized countries. The­ aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that these myths are transferable to real-life surgery.”

After analyzing operation records of nearly 28,000 patients who underwent some type of surgery during a nine-year period from August 2001 and August 2010 — a period punctuated by 111 full moons — researchers at University Hospitals of Saarland in Homburg/Saar, Germany, found patient characteristics did not differ with respect to lunar phases, zodiac signs or occurrences of Friday the 13th. The study authors said:6

“Full moon phases, the presence of Friday the 13th and zodiac signs influenced neither intraoperative blood loss nor emergency frequency. No statistical peaks regarding perforated aortic aneurysms and gastrointestinal perforations were found on a full moon or Friday the 13th.

Scientific analysis of our data does not support the belief that moon phases, zodiac signs or Friday 13th influence surgical blood loss and emergency frequency. Our data indicate such beliefs are myths and far beyond reality.”

Research Aside, Doctors and Police Subscribe to ‘Full Moon Madness’

Regardless of the scientific evidence, many doctors, such as Dr. John Becher, past president of the American Osteopathic Association and current treasurer of their board of trustees, believe the full moon has a very real effect on the ER. Having practiced emergency medicine for nearly 40 years, including more than 30 years as residency director of emergency medicine at the former City Avenue Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Becher noticed changes in the 11-bed psychiatric emergency center area during full moons.

“You could almost tell the phase of the moon by how crowded that area … was,” says Becher. “Anytime the moon was full, that area was overflowing.”7 Dr. Paul Allegretti, program director for emergency medicine residency at Midwestern University-Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Illinois, also believes the ER seems busier when the moon is full. “I think people are sicker and it seems like more unusual things happen when the moon is full, though I don’t think I could ever prove it,” he says.8

According to BBC News, police in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after research in 2007 suggested an increase in violent incidents when the moon was full.9 The late Andy Parr, a Brighton inspector, said, "From my experience, over 19 years of being a police officer, undoubtedly on full moons, we do seem to get people with … stranger behavior [who are] more fractious [and] argumentative. And I think that's something that's been borne out by police officers up and down the country for years."10

Not All Doctors Are Convinced the Full Moon Matters

A 2004 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Science11 suggests a full moon has little or no direct bearing on ER admissions. Researchers from the Sina Trauma and Surgery Research Center in Tehran analyzed more than 54,000 patient cases, representing trauma admissions to three Tehran-based hospitals, during a 13-month time period. About the relationship between rate of admissions and full moons, the study authors said:12

“In our study the number of trauma patients was not increased during the full moon days [as compared to] other days of the lunar month. Statistical analyses of data didn't exhibit a positive relationship between full moon days and increased trauma patient admission to ERs. An association between assault and attempted suicide was not observed around the full moon days either … and [neither was there an] increase in severity of traumatic injury sustained during full moon days.”

In terms of anecdotal evidence, the aptly named Dr. Eric Moon, an ER physician who has more than 12 years’ experience working the night shift at St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago, ascribes little value to urban legends linking medical events and full moons.

“For as long as I’ve worked in the emergency department, whenever there’s a full moon, invariably someone will make a comment about how it’s going to be a rough night,” he said. While his co-workers buy into the full moon myth, Moon thinks attempts to link lunar phases with ER work have little merit. “We frequently have crazy nights in the ER when the moon is full because that’s just the nature of the ER, no matter what phase the moon is in,” he noted.13

Dental Events Also Shown to Be Unaffected by Lunar Cycles

While you may hear a lot about how a full moon can affect physical health, what might its effects be on oral health? Can a full moon impact what’s going on inside your mouth? A 2015 study published in BMC Oral Health14 suggests there is no observable relationship between the occurrence of odontogenic abscesses (OA), also known as tooth abscesses, and lunar phases.

In the study, a group of German researchers analyzed the records of more than 1200 patients who experienced a dental emergency during 2012. All patients were surgically treated at the AllDent Dental Center emergency unit in Munich. The incidence of tooth abscess was correlated to “daily meteorological data, biosynoptic weather analysis and cyclic lunar activity.” Based on their analysis, the study authors concluded:15

“There was no seasonal variation in OA incidence. None of the meteorological parameters, lunar phases or biosynoptic weather classes were significantly correlated with OA incidence, except the mean barometric pressure, which was weakly correlated … There is no evidence supporting a correlation between the incidence of OA and the weather or lunar activities.”

Can a Full Moon Affect Your Sleep?

If you’ve ever wondered if a full moon affects your sleep, scientists from Switzerland’s University of Basel may have the answer. As noted in the journal Current Biology,16 their 3.5-day study involved 33 volunteers who were not told of the purpose of the research, nor could they see the moon from their beds. The research was conducted in a dark room inside a sleep lab under close supervision. In terms of a so-called “lunar influence” on sleep, during a full moon the researchers noted the participants:17

  • Took five minutes longer to fall asleep
  • Experienced 20 minutes less sleep, as assessed by an electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Spent 30 percent less time in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) deep sleep, which was also assessed by EEG

The study authors noted those changes were associated with an overall decrease in subjective sleep quality as well as diminished endogenous melatonin levels. About the research, they stated, “This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues.”18

Professor Christian Cajochen, Ph.D., head of the center for chronobiology at the University of Basel and one of the study authors, added, "The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not see the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase."19

While some suggest poor sleep may come from the moon being brighter when it’s full, the current study controlled for brightness. This factor seems to suggest that you cannot manage potential full moon-related sleep issues simply by wearing an eye mask or using blackout curtains.

U.K. sleep expert Neil Stanley, Ph.D., says he found the University of Basel study intriguing. That said, he also believes more research is needed with a larger group of individuals over a longer period of time to substantiate any potential lunar effects on sleep. "It's one of those things you would instinctively believe, so to actually find an effect is interesting," he said. "Unfortunately, there has been no further research in this area since that study."20

Given the interest in blue moons and super moons these days, Stanley suggests some of the sleep issues linked to full moons might just be due to its brightness and size. After all, you are less likely to notice a crescent moon and therefore unlikely to attach your sleep problems to it. Such realities, he suggests, could be “an example of confirmation bias — where people are more likely to notice and remember information that fits with their beliefs.”21

The Bottom Line About a Full Moon’s Effects

As you can see, the opinions about how a full moon may affect human life vary widely. While anecdotal information suggests “the lunar effect” is real and is noticeable on a regular basis, scientific evidence fails to attribute clear physical cause.

The common perception that more accidents, crimes, medical emergencies, violence and other terrible events happen under a full moon are just that, perceptions. In an attempt to describe how people perceive a full moon, a pair of scientists coined the term “illusory correlation,” which Scientific American describes as:22

“[T]the perception of an association that does not in fact exist. Illusory correlations result in part from our mind’s propensity to attend to — and recall — most events better than nonevents. When there is a full moon and something decidedly odd happens, we usually notice it, tell others about it and remember it.

We do so because such co-occurrences fit with our preconceptions. In contrast, when there is a full moon and nothing odd happens, this nonevent quickly fades from our memory. As a result of our selective recall, we erroneously perceive an association between full moons and myriad bizarre events.”

As noted by The Washington Post, “No one has ever been able to show consistently, with multiple studies, that the full moon has any effect on behavior.”23 Until research is presented to overturn this fact, it’s best to simply enjoy a full moon as a natural wonder and object of beauty. In terms of any unusual events that may coincide with a full moon — I suggest you take them at face value and embrace them as part of the human experience as you would any other night, moon or no moon.

 

Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist Reveals the Hidden Dangers of Electric Fields

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

In the featured video, Xiren, host of Know How Things Work, interviews Oram Miller, building biology environmental consultant, electromagnetic radiation specialist in Los Angeles, and director of learning and development for the Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (IBE, www.hbelc.org).

Many of Miller’s clients have electromagnetic sensitivities, but some simply want to have as healthy an environment as possible. In some cases, he’ll assess electromagnetic field (EMF) levels in a home before the client purchases the home or moves into an office space. In addition to writing about the health hazards of EMF on his website, www.createhealthyhomes.com, Miller also lectures on this topic, and has been interviewed a number of times.

He also co-written a book called “Breathing Walls,”1 which details design protocols to avoid and eliminate mold and chemical outgassing in new and remodeled homes.

One key focus of this EMF interview, which is typically overlooked, is the importance of measuring electric fields and not just magnetic fields. Electric fields are sort of the “unknown EMF,” Miller says, but can have just as detrimental an effect on your health as other more well-known EMFs on everybody’s minds today.

Factors That Affect the Health of Your Home

As mentioned in this interview, a wide array of factors affect the health of your home — and you. This includes factors that affect indoor air quality, such as mold, chemical outgassing, radon, asbestos, lead, natural gas, carbon monoxide and more. Then there’s the EMF sources:

  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

Wiring errors, found in up to one-third of homes in the US, along with current on grounding paths such as incoming metal water service supply pipes and TV cables, are common sources of magnetic fields. IBE recommends a knowledgeable electrician and plumber to remediate and correct these problems.

Likewise, unshielded plastic-jacketed (Romex) wiring is a common source of another type of EMF, called electric fields, which are an unknown source of EMFs in all homes. Unfortunately, many in the EMF community don’t know that electric fields hide within their homes and often don’t look for them when measuring EMFs, Miller says.

Yet, electric fields have long been one of the most disease causing types of EMFs in homes over the decades (with wireless devices now fast catching up and dirty electricity also being widely present).

Electric and magnetic fields must be measured separately. Some of the EMF meters in use over the years have not been sensitive enough, measuring only extremely high electric fields that are far above what IBE considers dangerous. New combination EMF meters, fortunately, are now far more sensitive than older models when measuring electric and radio frequency fields.

When it comes to choosing a new home, three primary EMF sources that will cause Miller to tell a client to not purchase the home are:2 overhead or underground powerlines with excessively high magnetic fields (because shielding is not effective), a cell phone tower in close proximity, and/or ungrounded nonmetallic Romex circuits, which cause high electric fields and prevent the grounding of computers and appliances. Most other sources of EMFs can be mitigated, including EMFs from wiring errors, electric currents on grounding paths, and RFs from indoor and most outdoor wireless sources.

Health Effects of EMF Exposure

While skepticism still prevails, there’s extensive — and growing — research showing EMFs are harmful to human health. “There are considerable [biological] changes that occur,” Miller says. For example, research has shown EMFs:3

Create excess oxidative stress

EMFs activate voltage gated calcium channels located in the outer membrane of your cells.4,5,6,7,8 Once activated, the VGCCs open up, allowing an abnormal influx of calcium ions into the cell. The excess calcium triggers a chemical cascade that results in the creation of peroxynitrites, extremely potent oxidant stressors believed to be a root cause for many of today’s chronic diseases.

Inside your body, peroxynitrites modify tyrosine molecules in proteins to create a new substance, nitrotyrosine and nitration of structural protein.9 Changes from nitration are visible in human biopsy of atherosclerosis, myocardial ischemia, inflammatory bowel disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and septic lung disease.10

Open the blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins to enter your brain

Fragment DNA

Studies have shown EMFs cause DNA fragmentation. Significant oxidative stress from peroxynitrites may also result in single-strand breaks of DNA.11

Damage mitochondria, and impair proton flow and ATP production

The enzyme ATP synthase — which passes currents of protons through a water channel, similar to current passing through a wire — generates energy in the form ATP from ADP, using this flow of protons. Magnetic fields can change the transparency of the water channel to protons, thereby reducing the current. As a result, you get less ATP, which can have system-wide consequences, from promoting chronic disease and infertility to lowering intelligence.

Alter cellular function due to excessive charge

In a previous interview, Alasdair Philips, founder of Powerwatch,12 explained how EMF exposure alters cellular function by way of excessive charges. Essentially, the cell functions as a gel, held together by electric charge. When the charge becomes excessive due to a massive influx of electrons, the function of the cell is disrupted.

Raise the risk for abnormal cell growth and cancer, including leukemia and cancer of the brain, acoustic nerve, salivary gland, eyes, testes, thyroid and breast

As early as 2011, the evidence was strong enough for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, to declare cellphones a Group 2B “possible carcinogen.”13 Since then, a number of studies have found support for EMF having carcinogenic potential, including two recent government-funded studies.14,15,16

Has neurological effects

Studies dating back to the 1950s and ‘60s show the nervous system is the organ most sensitive to EMFs. Some of these studies show massive changes in the structure of neurons, including cell death and synaptic dysfunction. Consequences of chronic EMF exposure to the brain include anxiety, depression, autism and Alzheimer’s disease, which Martin Pall, Ph.D., details in a 2016 paper.17

Contributes to reproductive problems in both sexes

For example, prenatal exposure to magnetic fields can nearly triple a pregnant woman’s risk of miscarriage. Several other studies have come to similar conclusions.19,20,21,22,23 In men, studies show EMF radiation from cellphones and laptops reduces sperm motility and viability,24,25 and increases sperm DNA fragmentation.26

Alters your microbiome, turning what might otherwise be beneficial microbes pathogenic. This too can have far-ranging health effects, since we now know your microbiome plays an important role in health.

Why Some People Develop Symptoms and Others Don’t  

Researchers agree that nearly all people exposed to EMFs are in fact biologically affected by them. However, only one-third develop symptoms. The difference between these individuals and the two-thirds that do not develop symptoms is that asymptomatic individuals still have the capacity to repair the cellular damage that is being incurred.

That doesn’t mean you’ll remain asymptomatic forever, though. Once the accumulated damage reaches a certain level, symptoms will begin to develop. Common warning signs and symptoms include ringing in the ears, dizziness, heart palpitations, headaches, insomnia, foggy thinking and chronic fatigue.

Over time, the cellular and mitochondrial damage being generated can set the stage and contribute to any number of health problems, including cancer. However, it’s important to remember that the primary hazard of EMFs, including cellphone radiation, is not cancer but, rather, systemic cellular and mitochondrial damage, which threatens health in general and can contribute to any number of health problems and chronic diseases.

Protecting Yourself From Excessive EMF Is Important for Optimal Health

There’s no doubt in my mind that EMF exposure is a significant health hazard that needs to be addressed — especially if you’re already struggling with chronic health issues, as your recovery will be severely hampered if your body is constantly assaulted by these unnatural fields. As stressed by Miller in this interview, be particularly mindful of electric fields, as these often get overlooked, as well as the many wireless devices you keep close to your body all day long.

The good news is there are a number of ways to reduce unnecessary exposure to EMFs — be they electric fields, magnetic fields, RF and/or dirty electricity — and many are quite inexpensive or free.

One of the best prevention strategies I've found so far is to reduce exposure to voltage transients that are on your electric wires typically in the 2 to 100 KHz range (commonly referred to as “dirty electricity”), while also reducing exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) electric field frequencies in the 60 Hz range. Both are especially important to do during sleep, as this is a most important time for your brain.

During deep sleep, your brain's glymphatic system is activated, allowing it to detoxify and eliminate accumulated waste products, including amyloid-beta proteins, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

In addition, 60 Hz AC electric fields from the hot (live) wire of plastic-jacketed circuits found in walls and floors extend 6 to 8 feet into a room, as well as from plastic power cords that you plug in. These electric fields encompass your entire body when you sleep, even when you shut lights off, as most beds are near a wall. They are not, however, as much of a problem for most healthy people in the daytime, except when you are near lamps or use ungrounded computers.

Electric fields come from voltage, not current, and pass right through sheetrock and plastic insulation. It is important to know that electric fields at 60 Hz from house wiring and plastic cords are always present, even in homes with little or no dirty electricity. Electric fields are not reduced by plugging in dirty electricity filters but rather by turning off breakers, using metal-clad circuits in walls, and by rewiring lamp cords with shielded cable, such as MuCord.

Electric fields from house wiring and plastic cords within 6 to 8 feet of your bed prevent the release of melatonin from your pineal gland at night when you sleep. Melatonin prevents hormone-dependent tumors, infections, insomnia, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It also promotes detoxification of the liver and lymphatic system, helping to avoid multiple chemical sensitivities.

Improvements in these conditions are reported by clients of building biologists who reduce AC electric fields in sleeping areas as part of their routine EMF evaluations. Avoiding AC electric fields at night allows the body to spend more time in deep, restorative stage four sleep every ninety minutes during our sleep cycles. This results in more restful sleep and more energy in the daytime.

In most areas, the only way to accomplish this is by turning off the electricity around your bed by flipping the circuit breaker(s) that run to and through your bedroom. Miller advises this is best done in conjunction with a trained building biologist (http://hbelc.org/find-an-expert). Electricians can then install a cut-off switch so you can shut these circuits off remotely from your bedroom.

Remedial Strategies to Lower EMF Exposure

Below are several suggestions, many by Oram Miller himself, that will help reduce your EMF exposure. You can also find guidance and solutions for mitigating electric and magnetic fields at the end of Miller’s “Healthy Wiring Practices”27 document. There, he also discusses specific workarounds for various devices, including cellphones, MacBooks, Roku and Apple TV.

Nighttime remediation

Flip off breakers (or a remote switch) at night to circuits in and around your bedroom to reduce 60 Hz AC electric fields. If you have metal-clad wiring and can keep your breakers on at night, use manual or remote plug-in switches at outlets to kill power to plastic lamp cords within 6-8 feet of the bed, or rewire lamps with MuCord from LessEMF.com.

Almost all dirty electricity in the bedroom will automatically be eliminated when you sleep if you flip off breakers to reduce 60 Hz AC electric fields, because dirty electricity rides on the voltage, which will be switched off. If you have metal-clad wiring, voltage will stay on.

In that case, use filters to remove voltage transients from your electricity and use meters to confirm that they are in a safe range. Keep filters more away from the bed, as they emit a localized magnetic field of about 2 to 3 feet.

Use a battery-powered alarm clock, ideally one without any light. I use a talking clock for the visually impaired.28

Consider moving your baby’s bed into your room, or keep doors open between your bedrooms, 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.

For more extensive RF shielding, you can consider painting your bedroom walls and ceiling (and floor, if necessary) with special shielding paint, which will block RF from inside, as well as outside sources, such as cell towers, smart meters, radio/TV towers and neighbors’ Wi-Fi routers and cordless telephones in an apartment or condo building.

Windows can be covered with metal window screen or transparent film. Line your curtains with RF-shielding fabric. For your bed, consider a shielding bed canopy.

Daytime strategies to reduce unnecessary EMF exposure

To reduce an important type of 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 coming from voltage transients since it appears that most of them are generated by the frequencies that the filters remove.

Avoid daytime 60 Hz electric fields when using your computer by making sure it has a three-pronged, grounded plug rather than a two-pronged, ungrounded plug. Disconnect the two-pronged adapter on your Apple MacBook transformer and connect a grounded AC power cord.

If your PC laptop has a power cord with a two-pronged plug, connect a USB Ground Cord from LessEMF.com to a USB port on your computer and a properly grounded outlet. You can order shielded AC power cords for any PC computer tower or iMac from Safe Living Technologies (slt.co) or Electrahealth.com.

You can connect to the internet with iPhones and iPads while in airplane mode using a Lightning to Ethernet adapter and putting the device in airplane mode. You will need a Cat-6 or 7 shielded, grounded Ethernet cable as well as an Ethernet grounding adapter kit from Electrahealth.com to avoid electric fields.

Metal lamps emit high electric fields because the metal, especially in floor lamps, amplifies electric fields. Reduce this by rewiring with shielded MuCord from LessEMF.com.

Keep unshielded power cords away from your legs and feet at your home (and office) computer to avoid electric fields while you work. Transformers plugged into surge protectors under your desk emit high magnetic fields. Move them more than 2 to 3 feet away from your feet.

Connect your desktop computer to the internet via a wired Ethernet connection. Then, just as importantly, 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 and disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth whenever possible.

Ideally, work toward hardwiring your house so you can eliminate Wi-Fi altogether. Remember to always manually shut off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your router and computer when you do so. That does not happen automatically when you plug in an Ethernet cable.

It’s important to realize that if you have a Wi-Fi router, you essentially have a cellphone tower inside your home. Even more importantly, remember that the device right in front of you that communicates with the router also sends out harmful RF signals, right into your body. Most people forget about this because radio signals are invisible. You cannot see or smell them like you can cigarette smoke, and they are silent.

Ideally, you’d eliminate your Wi-Fi and simply use a wired connection to get on the internet. If you absolutely must have a router, you can place it inside a shielded pouch or wire mesh box and then move it as far away from where you sit as possible. Never have the router in a bedroom or within 15 to 20 feet of one. You can find shielded pouches and mesh boxes online, or make your own using Swiss Shield fabric.

If you have a newer, thinner laptop without any Ethernet ports, various adapters will allow you to connect to the internet with a wired Ethernet connection from any Thunderbolt, USB or USB-C port. This is also true for the Lightning port on iPhones and iPads. Keep electric field EMFs low when you do this (see above).

When looking for a corded telephone for your landline or VoIP connection, be careful not to purchase a hybrid corded/cordless model. They have a corded handset but contain a wireless transmitter inside that is always on. Look for the designation “DECT 6.0” on the box and phone, as well as a cordless extension inside the box.

Even if you never use the extension, the base unit continues to silently transmit a radio frequency signal 24/7, especially when sitting on your bedside table, desk or kitchen counter. Switch to corded landline telephones and use them when at home. Call forward your cellphone to your landline number when home and put your cellphone in airplane mode.

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 some cellphones can emit signals, which is why I put my phone in a Faraday bag.29

When using your cellphone, use the speaker phone and hold the phone at least 3 feet away from you. Use an air tube earphone for privacy. 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 when traveling 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. Measure magnetic fields near electronics and digital clocks at the front of stoves and dishwashers. Stand clear of these (below 1 mG). Avoid induction cooktop units altogether, as they emit very high magnetic fields far into your kitchen.

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 on some models when you connect to a wired Ethernet cable (you can with Sony smart TVs).

Consider using a large computer monitor as your TV instead, as they don’t emit Wi-Fi. Also, avoid “smart speakers,” which continuously emit RF signals into the room.

Avoid electric beds and chairs. If you do use them, plug them into a power strip and flip that off when sleeping or sitting in them. Avoid high electric fields from ungrounded wires and metal frames. Also avoid magnetic fields from transformers that may be right under your body, and Wi-Fi in the foot of some beds. Switch these off in all cases when sleeping.

Replace CFL bulbs with incandescent bulbs, as CFLs produce dirty electricity. 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. Many LEDs are cleaner than CFLs, but incandescent bulbs are best, including new halogen incandescent bulbs.

Dimmer switches are another source of dirty electricity, so consider installing regular on/off switches rather than dimmer switches. Central lighting control systems (Crestron, Lutron) tend to have cleaner dimming modules. Request hardwired, not wireless, keypads when using central control systems, especially near beds.

Refuse smart meters as long as you can or, when you cannot opt out, add a shield to an existing smart meter, some of which have been shown to reduce radiation by 98 to 99 percent.30

 

What Happens in Your Brain When You Experience Pleasure?

 

 

By Dr. Mercola

Your brain is a powerful instrument that often seems to have "a mind of its own." This is certainly the case when it comes to how it handles pleasure, which has been shown to affect both the nucleus accumbens, or reward center, and frontal cortex regions of your brain.

If you've ever wondered about the roots of addiction and the role played by your brain, you should know that all addictions — whether it be food, sex, drugs or alcohol — have a similar hijacking effect on your brain. Fortunately, most addictive patterns are completely reversible and there is hope for a better brain and life.

What's Going on in Your Brain When You Experience Pleasure?

Pleasure — the good feeling you get in response to drugs, food, sex and other stimulants, including the simple act of doodling1,2 — is driven by the release of various neurotransmitters throughout your brain, including dopamine.3 As you probably know, dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward. When dopamine is released, it tells your brain to expect something rewarding. It also drives you to seek rewards and modulates how rewarding each one will be.

Furthermore, dopamine plays a role in supporting cognition and voluntary movement. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett, Ph.D., lecturer and tutor at the U.K.'s Cardiff University Center for Medical Education, and creative genius behind The Guardian's popular "Brain Flapping" column, says:4

"Anything that causes us to experience pleasure, in any context, invariably involves activity in the brain's mesolimbic reward pathway. It's a deeply embedded area of the brain, made up of many links between the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area.

It's very complex, but basically these regions are responsible for reviewing what we're experiencing and deciding whether it warrants the sensation of pleasure, and supplying this pleasure, or 'reward,' if the answer is yes. The neurological processes that govern this area use dopamine, hence dopamine's frequent labelling as the 'pleasure chemical.'"

The Conversation states all drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin, release dopamine, as do other rewarding experiences like eating, gambling and having sex. On the other hand, they note, "decreases in dopamine within reward systems are associated with depression, a lack of pleasure or motivation and withdrawal."5

It follows then that mental illnesses like schizophrenia are characterized by too much dopamine release, thereby resulting in psychotic symptoms. In contrast, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease are thought to be tied to the premature death of dopamine cells responsible for motor coordination.6 Burnett believes your reward pathway is influenced by the reality that there are an unlimited number of things you can experience as well as countless connections and links to each one of those experiences.

It's as if your brain's reward system, Burnett says, is like one huge computer server that houses all the digital records pertaining to the entire world's supply of money. It would be difficult to imagine all the people and things that would be attached to this one server, not to mention all the ways and occasions it would be activated.7 Your brain's reward center is just like that — handling nonstop "transactions."

Unfortunately, anytime there are breakdowns in your decision-making process, you become vulnerable to pathological behavior, which is associated with most addictions. When you are addicted to a particular substance or experience, you adopt a type of "I'll do whatever it takes" attitude to achieve your desired outcome.

Over time, as the addictive attachment grows, it matters very little whether you still find the activity or experience to be pleasurable. No matter what you want to do, it becomes nearly impossible to stop the behavior or habit.

The Role of Dopamine in Food and Other Substance Addiction

The correlation between food addiction and recreational drug addiction is striking, and likely stronger than you may suspect. As mentioned, dopamine plays a critical role in all forms of addiction.

Two big ones to discuss are addictions involving food and drugs, topics discussed in my video interview above featuring Dr. Pamela Peeke, an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine, nutrition and fitness, and the author of The New York Times best-seller book "The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction."

The groundwork for the revelations about the role of dopamine in addictions was provided by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, an addiction psychiatrist who has admitted to nursing her own compulsive attachment to chocolate. Her breakthrough came with the introduction of high-detail brain imaging devices like functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, which offered high quality views of the brain.8

By studying the brain's reward center, Volkow realized you only feel pleasure or reward when dopamine binds with its receptor, called the D2 receptor. D2 receptors are located throughout the reward center in your brain. When dopamine links to this receptor, immediate changes take place in your brain cells, resulting in a "hit" of pleasure and reward. Peeke suggests some brains are more susceptible to addiction than others. She states:

"People who are vulnerable — who have an early history of any kind of abuse or trauma, mood issues or a history of addiction themselves and/or genetically in their family — these people are at much higher risk to develop an addictive-like eating behavior. This is especially true when they regularly consume what we now call 'the hyperpalatables' — refined, processed sugars, unhealthy fats and salt."

While it is difficult to estimate accurately just how many people struggle with addictive eating, we know it affects both men and women and involves a wide spectrum of problematic behaviors.

Addictive eating ranges from the mildly affected who are able to control the addiction through modified lifestyle habits like calorie counting, to seriously compulsive overeaters who live daily with the significant health consequences caused by obesity. While most people think addictive eating is a problem only for overweight people, it actually affects people of all sizes.

"It's not just about weight because some of my toughest addictive-eating behavior people are very small people," Peeke says. "They struggle every day. Addictive-like eating actually covers the entire gamut of the weight spectrum."

How Addictions Develop

The primary directive of your body (and mind) is survival, and it will go through all sorts of adaptations to achieve this goal. When you overindulge in hyper-stimulators like alcohol, sex, street drugs or sugar your brain's reward center takes note that you've become overstimulated. Because your brain perceives this state to not be good for your survival, it compensates by decreasing your sense of pleasure and reward. The first step it takes is to downregulate your D2 receptors, basically eliminating some of them.

Although this is a survival strategy, it creates another problem because now you don't feel nearly the same pleasure and reward you had when the addiction began. This is true regardless of whether your addiction was to food or drugs. As a result, you develop tolerance, meaning you crave more and more of your fix but are unable to achieve the same "high" you once enjoyed. Eventually, says Peeke, you are compelled to continue feeding the addiction not solely for the pleasure or reward outcomes.

Instead, the primary reason you keep feeding the addiction is to avoid the pain and angst of withdrawal, which you do not want and cannot tolerate. Interestingly, Volkow's work revealed the changes taking place in the brains of drug addicts and food addicts are identical.

Regardless of the addictive substance, she noted very little dopamine bonding with its D2 receptors in addicted brains, mainly because the number of receptors had been drastically reduced due to continual exposure to the addictive substance. About this finding, Peeke said:

"In the normal brain's PET scan of the reward center, you see a beautiful red-orange because it's all lit up where the dopamine is bonding with the D2 receptors. You show the person a sunset or something pleasurable, and you can see beautiful binding going on.

What do you see in the addictive brain? Not a whole lot; almost no orange there. For that matter, those D2 receptors are so low in number these people are in angst. They crave more and more and more of whatever their fix is."

Overall, Volkow's study was able to show:

  1. Food addiction is real
  2. Changes that take place in your brain's reward center are identical for all addictions
  3. Your brain's reward center is just one of the affected regions; your frontal cortex is also impacted

About the impact addiction has on your frontal cortex, Peeke stated:

"This means you have an impairment of the 'CEO of the brain' in its ability to rein in impulsivity, irritability, impatience and all of the things associated with withdrawal and addiction. In this condition, you can't stay vigilant. It's hard to pay attention. You can't be mindful. You're unable to plan, organize or strategize. Basically, you're out of control. Now, you have an out-of-control CEO of the brain and you've got a hijacked reward center. What you have is a full-on addiction."

Early Trauma Sets the Stage for Future Addiction

As alluded to above, Peeke notes you may be particularly susceptible to addiction if you've experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or other trauma during your formative years. Trauma during childhood, adolescence and/or young adulthood can significantly affect your frontal cortex, thereby setting the stage for addiction.

Assistant professor Susan Mason, Ph.D., division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, working with the Nurses' Health Study II, showed women who had the highest levels of abuse during childhood had a 90 percent increased incidence of food addiction.9

In her book, Peeke also talks about the role of epigenetics, noting there's a "sweet spot" between the ages of 8 and 13 when your genome is particularly vulnerable to epigenetic influence.

This means your genes are being turned on or off, leaving molecular markers based on what is happening to you. The influences of your experiences, she says, go on to shape how you self-soothe and whether or not you become self-destructive. If not addressed, these issues will follow you into adulthood and set the tone for many aspects of your life.

Even if you do not have a history of abuse or trauma, Peeke suggests you may still be set up to act in either a self-soothing or self-destructive manner with respect to addictive behaviors. For example, you repeatedly may give into cravings when you are sleep-deprived or stressed, which could also set the stage for future addiction.

Beyond that, it may not be the actual addictive food or drug setting off the highest levels of dopamine release in your brain. Instead, it is likely the cues and triggers associated with them. Says Peeke:

"Just by showing people pictures or getting them triggered, they have very high levels of dopamine secretion … when they actually consume, especially if they're addictive, they're not experiencing the same level of reward that merely anticipating the fix provides."

Exercise and Mindfulness Can Help You on the Road to Recovery

If you are feeling trapped in an addiction and are wondering what steps you can take to find relief, in addition to seeking professional help, you may want to try exercise and mindfulness meditation. With respect to exercise, physical activity prompts neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, which contributes to healing in your brain's frontal cortex and reward center.

Similarly, meditation has been shown to epigenetically turn off inflammatory gene groups, while turning on genes responsible for increasing neurogenesis. As such, both activities are important with respect to long-term recovery from addictions of any kind. Adds Peeke:

"With physical activity, with every step you take you're able to change gene expression along the entire spectrum of the metabolic syndrome to be able to augment brain health and brain healing from the entire addictive process ...

Now, with nutrition, there's no question, you absolutely can't keep hammering yourself with addictive products for which you say yes to loss of control and yes to feeling shame, blame and guilt. Instead, you're going to substitute what I call false addictive fixes with healthy fixes.

In the mind, it's checking in with one's self, being able to augment the mental capacity to be able to say yay or nay. You must organize and strategize to be able to decrease impulsivity, irritability and impatience …

You must heighten your vigilance and mindfulness, which is king here. When you're mindful, you take it hour by hour, moment by moment, so you're able to stay on track. People who have addictive-like habits tend to want to speed along. Instead, slow down and take a breath. Relax. Remind yourself you can do this."

In terms of healthy fixes, Peeke suggests if you're addicted to sugary soda, for example, you can clear out all sodas and replace them with beautiful glass decanters filled with pure water to which you can add berries, slices of citrus or cucumbers and mint leaves. Peeke's book is filled with many more options and substitutes she has developed through years of experimentation in addiction centers.

You can also experiment with imagery, which can be very powerful and engaging to the mind, whether positive or negative. Some do well with negative imagery, such as picturing a skull and crossbones on an addictive food. Others respond to positive imagery, such as pictures of healthier food choices like salads and fresh fruits and vegetables. Below is another helpful exercise provided by Peeke:

"I ask every person to sit down and develop something I call 'The Power Why.' Why do you want to do this at all? Why not just continue whatever addictive behavior you've got going? Why do you want to change? You've got to dig deep. You can't just say, 'Well, I want to be healthy.' What else is important in your life? You want to be here to do what? Close your eyes and go deep into your why."

One of Peeke's examples is the story of a nearly 300-pound woman who struggled with figuring out her why until she was told she was going to receive a national award for the work she had done in her community. The award would be presented a year later on stage with her entire family in attendance. At that point, says Peeke:

"Something clicked in her brain for her why. She said, 'I want to be proud of myself. I want to walk the talk. If I'm promoting health and well-being, I've got to live it.' And that's what did it. One year and 150 pounds later … she stood proudly before the audience and accepted her award … That was 12 years ago and she's still living the recovery lifestyle."

Next Steps You Can Take to Fight Food Addiction

If you suffer with weight issues and suspect food addiction might be an issue, I highly recommend reading Peeke's book. It is a great resource to get educated about what's going on inside your body and brain with respect to the addiction. You'll also find tools to help you explore the roots of your addictive eating and create a recovery lifestyle you can feel good about and live long term. Peeke provides practical strategies you can apply to break the addictive cycle once and for all.

In this way, you can begin to take control of your health. Find more information on her website DrPeeke.com and check out her TedxWallStreet talk in the video above. In addition, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another simple, effective and highly recommended tool that can rapidly help you eliminate your food cravings naturally.

 

Myrrh Oil: Benefits of This Holy Oil

 

 

You may have heard of myrrh from Biblical stories, as it’s one of the precious gifts (together with gold and frankincense) offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus. This valuable element actually has a long history of use, especially in ancient civilizations. Today, myrrh is most commonly known — and used — as an essential oil. Keep on reading to learn more about its many benefits.

What Is Myrrh Oil?

Myrrh oil comes from a dried resin extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree, which belongs to the Commiphora plant genus.1 Like frankincense, myrrh comes from the Burseraceae plant family.2

Native to Northern Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Oman, Arabia and Yemen, the tree grows up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) high, and can be identified by its bluish grey, silvery or white bark and knotted branches.3,4 The word “myrrh” comes from "murr," which means "bitter" in Arabic, probably referring to the bitter taste of the resin.5

Myrrh was very popular among ancient cultures. The Chinese valued it as a medicine, while Egyptians used it not just  for their sun-worshipping rituals, but also to embalm their pharaohs.6 In fact, myrrh was mentioned in “Ebers Papyrus,” one of the oldest Egyptian medical texts, which dates back to 1550 BC.7

Even the Greek soldiers made use of this resin, bringing it with them to battle to stop their wounds from bleeding.8 To extract myrrh, the bark of the tree is cut, and a pale yellow sap comes out. This gum is then allowed to dry, which then causes it to turn into a reddish-brown color.9 The dried pieces of resin are then steam-distilled to make myrrh oil. Myrrh oil has a yellow or greenish-yellow color, and a rich, balsamic and earthy aroma.10,11

Uses of Myrrh Oil

Both myrrh resin and myrrh oil have a long history of medicinal use, and are valued for their wound-healing properties. The Egyptians used myrrh to treat hay fever and heal herpes.12 The essential oil is also traditionally used to enhance emotional and spiritual well-being.13

Maintaining healthy skin is also one of myrrh oil’s renowned uses, as it helps restore the health of skin cells to help minimize the appearance wrinkles. It also has antibacterial properties that make it helpful against skin conditions like acne, eczema and athlete’s foot, to name a few.14 This is why it’s commonly added to many skin care products today. Myrrh oil is also used for:15

Adding fragrance for perfumes

Embalming

Flavoring food products

Myrrh oil is also a valuable aromatherapy oil that can be used for massages, mixed in bathwater or simply applied on the skin. You can also:16

Use it as a mouthwash to help eliminate dental infections

Put it in a cold compress to help ease inflammation

Dilute it with a safe carrier oil and use to promote the healing of wounds or ulcers

Composition of Myrrh Oil

There are many health-enhancing compounds in myrrh oil, such as terpenoids, a class of chemicals with inflammation-fighting and antioxidant effects. It also contains up to 75 percent sesquiterpenes, which are compounds that can affect certain parts of your brain, particularly your hypothalamus, pituitary and amygdala. These brain regions play an integral role in controlling your emotions and response to hormones in your body.17

Other components of myrrh include alpha-longipinene, beta-cadinene, eugenol, esters, cuminic aldehyde, acetic acid and formic acid.18,19

Benefits of Myrrh Oil

Myrrh oil’s benefits can be attributed to its powerful antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, expectorant and antispasmodic properties. According to the book “The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide,” it can help with many health conditions, such as:20

Respiratory problems: Myrrh oil works well against coughs, colds and sore throat. It also helps relieve congestion and expel phlegm.

Digestive ailments: It promotes digestive health and helps ease stomach upset, dyspepsia, diarrhea, indigestion, hemorrhoids and flatulence.

Gum and mouth diseases: It helps relieve toothache, gingivitis and mouth ulcers, and also freshens your breath. Myrrh oil is even used as a natural ingredient in mouthwashes and toothpaste.

Immune system health: A 2010 study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal found that an emulsion made from myrrh may help protect against lead-induced hepatotoxicity, oxidative stress and immunotoxicity among animal test subjects.21

A study conducted by Chinese researchers, published in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, also found that extracts made from myrrh resin may be effective against human gynecologic cancer cells.22

How Does Myrrh Oil Work?

Myrrh oil is said to promote the health of the limbic center of your brain, which plays a role in its emotionally soothing effects. It’s also said to stimulate the endocrine glands and chakra centers in the body. This essential oil helps stimulate cell tissues, support proper circulation and restore physical energy.23 You can use myrrh oil by:

Diffusing or inhaling it: You can also add a few drops to hot water and inhale the steam.

Applying it topically: Apply it on your skin to get its skin rejuvenating and healing properties. Mix it with a safe carrier oil and blend with other essential oils. Myrrh oil blends well with frankincense, bergamot, cinnamon, rosemary  and sweet orange oils.24

Taking it internally: Myrrh oil has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used as a food additive and flavoring agent.25 However, I do not advise ingesting it without the supervision of a qualified health care provider.

Is Myrrh Oil Safe?

If used in moderation and in the correct dosage (especially when ingesting it), myrrh oil is generally safe for adults. However, as with other essential oils, I advise you to use this oil with caution. Myrrh oil is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing moms.

A study in JBRA Assisted Reproduction journal noted that a pregnant woman experienced abdominal pain after using myrrh oil, which might indicate that the oil can act as a uterine stimulant.26 Young children and people with certain health problems should also refrain from using this oil. To make sure that myrrh oil will not have any allergic effects when applied topically, dilute it in a carrier oil and do a skin patch test on your inner arm first.

Side Effects of Myrrh Oil

WebMD states that if myrrh oil is consumed in excessive amounts — up to 2 to 4 grams — it may affect your heart rate and irritate your kidneys. Other possible side effects of myrrh and its essential oil include:27

Skin rashes

Worsened systemic inflammation

Lowered blood pressure

Uterine bleeding

Making a fever worse

Diarrhea

Some people with sensitivities to myrrh oil may also experience allergic contact dermatitis28 when using this oil. Myrrh may also interfere with diabetes medications, leading to dangerously low blood sugar levels, as well as anticoagulants, so I advise that you avoid the essential oil it if you are taking these medications.29

Back To The Top Of The Page