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Monthly Archives: November 2011
By Dr. Mercola
“If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t.”
But this doesn’t stop countless processed food manufacturers from boldly labeling their products as 100% natural in the hopes of appealing to health-minded shoppers like you.
After all, products labeled as “natural” or “sustainable” account for $50 billion in sales annually, or 8 percent of total retail grocery sales, and the numbers are likely growing.
When you see a supposedly “natural” product, like ConAgra’s Wesson brand vegetable oils claim to be, you would probably assume they contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which by definition are not found in nature.
But Wesson oils, specifically the Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend, do in fact contain GMOs, prompting a class-action lawsuit over their misleading “100% natural” label claim.
Any GM Product is, by Definition, NOT Natural
The lawsuit alleges that ConAgra’s use of GM corn and soy in their cooking oils disqualifies the product as being labeled “all-natural.” The plaintiffs cite two very fitting definitions of genetic modification to prove their point, including one from biotech giant, and leading GM seed creator, Monsanto.
“According to Monsanto, GMOs are: “Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs.” The complaint also quotes a GMO definition from the World Health Organization: “Organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”
It will be interesting to see how the lawsuit turns out, as a conviction against ConAgra could have important consequences for the manufacturers of countless other processed foods. Virtually all processed foods contain GM ingredients, unless they are certified organic, and many of them also claim to be all natural.
How do GM Food Manufacturers Get Away with Using the “All-Natural” Claim?
The natural food label on processed food has no standard definition and really no meaning at all. The term is only regulated on meat and poultry, for which an item labeled natural may not contain any artificial flavors, colors or chemical preservatives. But in the processed food arena, a “natural” product can be virtually anything — genetically modified, full of pesticides, made with corn syrup, additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
The main point to remember is that as it stands, in the United States a food can be labeled 100% natural even if it contains GM ingredients. The ConAgra lawsuit is poised to change all of that, but only if the suit is successful …
Even Organic Foods May be Contaminated with GM Ingredients
The problem with GM ingredients infiltrating the food supply are two-fold. First are the manufacturers like ConAgra, who intentionally use GM corn, GM soy and other GM ingredients but “greenwash” their labels to keep it quiet. Then there is the problem of GM contamination, which is becoming progressively more difficult to control.
If you’ve followed the debate about genetically engineered crops for some time, you may remember that the USDA initially proposed that the organic rules should allow GM foods to be labeled organic. Fortunately, the public outcry stopped this atrocious proposal. In fact, it was the second largest citizen response up until that time for any proposed regulation. After several hearings around the United States, the final organic rule did not allow for GM ingredients.
However, we’re now facing significant contamination, both in the fields and during processing, and as a result it’s becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee a food will not contain any kind of GM substance. This is an industry fact that holds true for all organic retailers. Even the Non-GMO project has admitted this. The approval of GM alfalfa this year will only make matters worse, as alfalfa is a powerful pollinator.
“Contamination is an intentional strategy,” Dr. Philip Bereano, professor emeritus at the University of Washington and an engaged activist concerning GM foods, says. “It’s an intentional strategy by both the government and the industry. We have statements to that effect… Contamination in the field by pollen flow; contamination in the processing. They use the same railcars for engineered and non-engineered crops and things like that.”
Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association also discussed this in an interview, warning that any alfalfa growing within a five mile radius of GM alfalfa will immediately become contaminated. The ramifications of this contamination are actually far worse than you might think, because alfalfa is a major food source for organic dairy cows. So once organic alfalfa becomes contaminated, organic milk and beef goes out the window too.
Total Video Length: 01:28:08
Download Interview Transcript
Echoing Dr. Bereano’s beliefs exactly, Cummins also said:
“I believe that this is an act of premeditated genetic pollution of the gene pool of alfalfa and related plants by Monsanto. They know exactly what they’re doing.
They understand is that if you pollute enough alfalfa across the country to where it becomes impossible to grow organic alfalfa that isn’t contaminated, perhaps then the organic community will weaken and allow genetically engineered animal feed under the rules of organic production.”
GM contamination is really getting worse by the day. Just a few months ago, Riceland Foods, the largest rice cooperative in the U.S., filed suit against Bayer Corporation after its natural long-grain rice was contaminated with Bayer’s unapproved GM rice—and they won. The jury determined that Bayer caused “tremendous harm to Riceland and the entire industry,” awarding Riceland $11.8 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages.
This type of contamination is going on all over the world, which is why we cannot rest on our laurels and must fight against the approval of each and every new GM crop. You cannot contain them. They absolutely WILL contaminate their conventional and organic counterparts, which will mean ultimately the entire food supply will contain GMOs.
New GM Dangerous Described as a Health “Emergency”
Research by Dr. Don M. Huber, an internationally recognized plant pathologist and professor emeritus at Purdue University, has unearthed new evidence of potential harm to both livestock and humans from GM crops. On January 17, he alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism related to GM corn and soy, which appears to be responsible for plant death, as well as infertility and spontaneous abortion in animals fed GM crops.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Huber urged the government to immediately stop deregulation of Roundup Ready crops, and to delay the approval of alfalfa until further research has been conducted.
The letter reads, in part:
“Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science! … I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high-risk status.
In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.”
Unfortunately, his strong words fell on deaf ears, and GM alfalfa was approved anyway. I urge you to watch the video below, featuring Dr. Huber. In it he explains the science behind the new organism, and the threat it poses.
Eat “Natural” Processed Foods at Your Own Peril
There’s no doubt in my mind that if you want to maintain good health, you simply must educate yourself about how the foods you eat are produced. When you compare unadulterated, organic foods to conventional processed foods (most of which contain GM ingredients), there’s simply no question that one is real, natural food, and the other is anything but!
Since the U.S. government prevents the labeling of GM foods, it’s imperative to educate yourself on what they are, and to help spread awareness. First and foremost, avoid most processed foods, unless it’s labeled USDA 100% Organic. You can also avoid GM foods that are not found in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:
|Soy||Sugar from sugar beets|
|Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils)||Some varieties of zucchini|
|Canola (canola oil)||Crookneck squash|
The free Non-GMO Shopping Guide is a great resource to help you determine which food brands and processed food products are GM-free. Print it out for yourself, and share it with everyone you know. If you feel more ambitious you can order the Non-GMO Shopping Tips brochure in bulk, and bring them to the grocery stores in your area. Talk to the owner or manager and get permission to post them in their store.
Remember, 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, which is a disaster for your health even if you’re buying “natural” processed foods.
And GM ingredients are only one reason for this … many processed foods will also contain any number of other health hazards, including pesticides, antibiotics, hormone-disrupting chemicals, rancid fats, chemical additives, colors and preservatives, and an untold amount of other chemically-derived byproducts and toxins that may or may not claim to be “natural” on their labels.
The 9 Signs of Truly Natural Food
If a “natural” label claim is no measure of food quality, then what is? First and foremost, you’ll want to focus your purchases on items that have no labels at all … namely fresh vegetables, preferably organic and locally grown. Grass-fed, organic meats and raw dairy products are also staples your family can safely invest in. To help you find organically grown, wholesome food in your area, check out these helpful resources:
- Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
- Local Harvest — This Web site will help you find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- USDA Farmer’s Markets database
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes — The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSA’s, and markets near you.
- A Campaign for Real Milk — To help you find resources for pasture-fed, unprocessed, raw dairy products.
Next, whether you’re shopping at a supermarket or a farmer’s market, here are the 9 signs of a high-quality, healthy food:
- It’s grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
- It’s not genetically modified, and contains NO GM ingredients
- It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
- It does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
- It is a whole food, and this means it will not have a long list of ingredients (for instance, high-quality almond butter should contain almonds (preferably raw) and maybe sea salt — no added oils, sugars, etc.)
- It is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh local conventional produce, the latter is the better option)
- It did not come from a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO)
- It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
- It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)
When you keep these principles in mind when you shop for food, the definition of the word “natural” on a label becomes a moot point. You needn’t rely on buzz words and other “green” marketing tricks to determine a truly healthy food. Instead opt for the freshest foods in the least processed and least altered forms, and this will almost always be the healthiest choice.
Birth ratios ideally should be 2:11 children per female articles.mercola.com
By Dr. Mercola
Ever since the global financial crisis of 2008, people everywhere have tightened their belts and cut down on spending, including slicing their food budgets.
But supermarkets employ all kinds of strategies to get you to spend more money, and food manufacturers are applying ever more sophisticated tactics to sell their wares.
First, let’s take a look at the simple stuff…
Daily Finance recently listed a few ways to avoid the most obvious traps, including:
- Resist the smells: Some grocers even pipes in artificial scents to inspire you to buy more.
- Forget the end caps: The spots at the ends of each aisle contain “sale items” that aren’t very cheap — but which are conveniently placed.
- Scan top and bottom shelves: The most expensive stuff is often deliberately placed at eye level. Take a moment to scan the entire shelf.
- Appreciate the plain stuff: Product packaging is usually exceptionally bright. Less-gaudy house brands may be cheaper.
- Don’t fall for hyped numbers: Signs may say “10 for $10,” or “2 for $5,” but you’ll usually get the same price if you buy only one, so do the math!
The High Level Psychology of Successful Retailing
An interesting Time Magazine article by Martin Lindstrom further reveals just how advanced the sales tactics are these days. One of the latest tricks of the trade is to appeal to your natural hoarding instinct during these financially strained times.
Lindstrom recounts his visit to a sales laboratory outside of Chicago last year, where he was given an inside look at the more scientific side of retail.
He describes a large “control room” reminiscent of NASA’s operations area, with rows of people intently observing shoppers on hundreds of screens, evaluating their behaviors and reactions to various displays and signage.
“Take a careful look at this lady,” said one of the monitors, pointing to a middle-aged woman on the screen. “She’s about to enter our latest speed-bump area. It’s designed to have her spend 45 seconds longer in this section, which can increase her average spend by as much as 73 percent. I call it the zone of seduction,” Lindstrom writes. “The sign in front of the display read: “1.95. Maximum three cans per customer.” Before the shopper slowly sauntered off, she had carefully selected three cans for her cart.”
How You’re Being Subconsciously Manipulated to Buy, Buy, Buy…
What kind of “magic” made this shopper respond according to their predictions? Through sophisticated “trials” such as these, they’ve determined that:
- During lean times, primitive survival instincts kick in, prompting you to purchase items that appear to be “limited” in some way. In this case, by restricting the sale to three cans per customer, the shopper’s subconscious drive to hoard was aroused
- Displaying a dollar sign on the display decreases the likelihood of you making a purchase, because it’s instinctively equated with “cost” or “spending.” As Lindstrom says, “Removing the sign helps the consumer sidestep the harsh reality of outstanding bills and longer-term financial concerns.”
- Larger shopping carts equate to increased spending
- The quality of the flooring can increase or decrease your speed when shopping. Flooring that make “clickety-clac” sounds tend to automatically slow down your pace, which increases the likelihood that some well-crafted sign will catch your attention and lead you to make a purchase you had not originally planned
While this may sound simplistic, these tactics can be profoundly effective. By simply changing the flooring of that section of the store, removing the dollar sign, and adding a three-cans-per-customer restriction, the sale of that particular canned food increased sevenfold!
“The next time you go grocery shopping, take a look at the signs, the type of floor, and even the carts. Everything has been designed with an eye towards getting you to grab those three cans of something that was not on your list. The more attention you pay to the details, the more aware you’ll become of how you’re being manipulated,” Lindstrom writes.
Be Aware and Prepared When Shopping to Reduce Wasteful Spending
You can avoid some of these manipulation tactics by:
- Shopping with a list: Preparing a list will help keep you focused—ideally on fresh, whole organic foods. Only buy what you need
- Shop the store’s perimeter: The outermost edge of the supermarket contains the healthier, non-processed foods. Once you become serious about healthy eating, you’ll rarely have to venture into the isles
- Focus on fresh vegetables: The deeper and more vibrantly colored produce is packed with the most nutrients. They’re also usually less expensive than canned versions
- Check the nutrition labels: The label helps you to identify ingredients, maximize nutrients and compare products
- Do your own math, and check the per unit price: Bring a calculator with you to the store or use your smartphone. As previously stated, signs boasting “2 for $5″ may not be an indication of a bargain at all. Check the individual price to determine whether buying two is really cheaper than just one.
Also remember to compare sizes when evaluating the price of competing brands. Additionally, manufacturers of various products have begun tinkering with the pricing formula for multi-packs. It used to be that multi-packs were cheaper per unit than smaller or individual packs, but today you’ll frequently find that smaller packages are cheaper per unit! Again, it can pay to pay attention to the details…
Why Processed Foods Can Rack up Your Food Bill
Many are still under the mistaken impression that processed or prepared foods are less expensive than whole foods. However, in reality, prepared foods can cost up to double the price of the unprepared versions, so buying whole foods that you can make into meals, rather than buying prepared foods in a box, can actually lead to great savings.
More importantly, by skipping the processed foods, you’ll also cut down on your chances of inadvertently serving your family genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified (GM) foods in the US food supply currently carry no labeling requirements whatsoever. Unfortunately, over 90 percent of both US corn and soy crops are GM, and these two foods or their many derivatives (soybean oil, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, modified food starch, tofu, etc) are the most common ingredients in processed foods.
This means if you’re eating any processed foods you’re likely getting a daily dose of GM corn or GM soy or their many derivatives. These are also the most heavily sprayed crops in the history of agriculture, so you’re also getting far more pesticides and herbicides.
Last but not least, there are even bigger, indirect savings that come with eating whole foods.
Consider, for example, the difference in medical care needs between those who eat whole foods, and those who instead eat processed and factory farmed foods containing MSG, carcinogens or nerve poisons such as pesticides, trans-fats, massive amounts of sugar, and artificial synthetic sweeteners.
The food you buy can have a very direct impact on your overall health, and influence whether or not you will become chronically ill. The question is, will you spend a little more now, or a lot more later when your poor diet habits start taking their toll?
You are up against very sophisticated strategies and tens of billions of dollars in advertising and marketing designed to convince you that processed food is either harmless or somehow good for you, when in fact it’s a nutritional disaster that should be avoided entirely. To take control of your health you have to cut through the slick advertising and psychological sales tactics, plan your fresh, healthy meals, make a shopping list and stick to it. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some work on your part.
Healthy Shopping Guidelines
Once you’ve implemented the basic strategies listed above, the following guidelines can take you one step further in your quest for healthful food:
Learn to identify:
High-quality food — Whether you’re shopping at a supermarket or a farmer’s market, here are the signs of a high-quality, healthy food:
- It’s grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
- It’s not genetically modified
- It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
- It does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
- It is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh local conventional produce, the latter is the better option)
- It did not come from a factory farm
- It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors) When it comes to beef, look for grass-fed varieties
- It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)
Organics – There are a few different organic labels out there, but only one relates directly to foods: the USDA 100% Organic seal. It’s the best way to ensure you’re getting what you pay for when shopping organic.
The labeling requirements of the NOP apply to raw, fresh products and processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients. In order to qualify as organic, a product must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity. (For the complete National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances under the USDA organic label, see this link.)
Genetically modified foods – Avoiding genetically modified (GM) food is just as important for your health as seeking out high-quality organics. In fact, they go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, GM ingredients are everywhere, so whenever you use pre-made, pre-packaged, processed foods of any kind, GM becomes an issue.
Fortunately, www.ResponsibleTechnology.org has created a Non-GMO Shopping Guide, available for free at www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com. By making sure to avoid all GM food products, you will actively help change not just your own health for the better, but the entire food industry.
Other health-harming ingredients – This is quite a bit trickier, since there are a vast number of additives, preservatives and food colorings that can wreak havoc with your health in the long term. However, I would suggest starting with the most obvious culprits, including MSG, artificial sweeteners, and fructose. Here are helpful guidelines for each:
- MSG – A great resource on how to find hidden sources of MSG, please see the website www.MSGMYTH.com for detailed listings
- Fructose – Any time you see ‘corn syrup’ or any variation thereof, on the label, avoid it, especially if it’s at the top of the list of ingredients.
In his book, The Sugar Fix, Dr. Johnson reviews the effectiveness of reducing fructose intake to help prevent or treat obesity. His book also provides detailed tables showing the content of fructose in different foods, including whole foods, like fruits – an information base that isn’t readily available elsewhere.
- ALL artificial sweeteners should be avoided, including:
You can easily be led astray if you don’t know what to look for, so please, educate yourself on what ‘healthy food’ really is, and the subversive sales tactics used to lure you into buying less than healthful fare. There are few, if any, shortcuts to real health and it all starts with what you feed your body, so make educated choices.
By Dr. Mercola
With all its designer drugs and state-of-the-art machinery, you’d think modern medicine is the perfect fix for providing patient-focused care.
You might also expect that Americans would be the healthiest people on Earth, seeing that the U.S. is the epicenter of all this technology, and especially since we spend more on health care than any other country in the world.
Yet, every year in the U.S., seven out of 10 deaths are due to preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and obesity.
How can that be?
How is it that we’re not just chronically ill, but also lagging behind most industrialized nations in life expectancy?
The answer lies in how we approach health care: like it or not, the real focus of modern medicine is on selling disease and making money, not making you well.
New Disease Definitions and Phony Parameters Feed Pharma’s Pockets
From blood pressure guidelines to mental illness definitions and dozens of other physical ailments, modern medicine’s bottom line for only treating symptoms is to expand the indications for the drug pipeline. And that’s not just in the United States. For most of the world, the definition of health “care” has become interchangeable with drug interventions. I put the word “care” in quotations to indicate this is modern medicine’s definition, not mine.
I’ll explain my personal definition of health care later in this article, but for the standard paradigm, it’s apparent it means not only lowering the minimum acceptable parameters for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, but creating new “diseases” to be “treated.” The result is that more people than ever are now on drugs for preventable chronic conditions. Unfortunately, all these drugs haven’t made us healthier. Instead, we just keep spending more money, with 75 percent of every health care dollar going to chronic disease treatment.
In 2008 alone, Americans spent $2.3 trillion on this type of health “care” – three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and more than eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980.
In other parts of the world, 36 million people die every year due to chronic diseases – which health officials predict will cost $47 trillion a year by 2030. The numbers are so staggering that the United Nations has formed a special committee just to address strategies for addressing chronic disease. The committees met several times, most recently in New York City, where they declared war on salt, junk food, and tobacco as their first move toward reigning in health care costs.
Sick Pills for Well People
Doctors realize merely treating symptoms does not remove the disease. They also know it’s lifestyle choices, not salt, junk food, or tobacco, that are responsible for making us ill. So why are drugs typically their first line of “patient-centered” care, particularly when so many of them have side effects that can only be treated with more drugs? And what makes health officials think that taxing, banning or regulating salt, junk food, and tobacco is going to solve the chronic disease crisis?
In her book, “Death by Modern Medicine,” Dr. Carolyn Dean talks about how, for well over a century, the definition of health care has been pills-and-drugs. It’s a deliberately schemed and manipulated paradigm that’s been packaged and sold through:
- The insurance industry’s (including Medicare’s and Medicaid’s) methodology for payment, which doesn’t recognize nutritional care or proven naturopathic approaches to health care
- Direct-to-Consumer advertising
- Influencing physicians and other health care providers through gifts, honoraria for speaking engagements, and financial support for training programs, which is simply another form of advertising
- Intense lobbying by PhRMA and individual drug makers such as Merck and Pfizer
Big Bucks for Buying Doctors’ Attention
When it comes to making payments to physicians it wants to influence, the pharmaceutical industry is very generous, Pharma Marketing Blog notes:
“Last year (2010) a mere dozen pharmaceutical companies paid $760 million to physicians and other health care providers for consulting, speaking, research and expenses, according to ProPublica’s ‘Dollars for Docs’ project.”
These “gifts” ranged from $50 to $2,000 for a single meal, to thousands of dollars for speaking fees, ProPublica said. In fact, one pain specialist, Gerald M. Sacks, allegedly racked in $270,825 from four different Big Pharma companies in one year! Whether that bonus income influenced Dr. Sacks’ prescribing practices is unknown, but what we do know is that just between 1997 and 2005, the amount of five major painkillers sold in the U.S. jumped 90 percent – and in 2011 prescription drug overdoses replaced car accidents as the No. 1 reason for accidental deaths in the U.S., with painkillers topping the list.
It’s scandalous how this happens, Dr. Dean says, because when it’s all said and done, the advertising and marketing aren’t even based on science!
According to a study published in 2004:
“…only 6 percent of drug advertising material is supported by scientific evidence. Therefore, most of what you read about a drug is pure fiction, and doesn’t help a person to make an informed choice about what they are taking, what it will do, and how it may harm them. Drug companies are making claims based on lies.”
“High amount of misinformation puts patients’ health at risk” because “doctors tend to base their decisions on the information and advertising material sent out by drug companies.”
That’s right. Doctors rely on drug companies to tell them how to treat their patients, and with what drug. What’s disturbing is that drug studies often result in bias favoring the sponsoring company, meaning that what your doctor is learning from drug reps may be highly slanted toward you getting a prescription for something that has little or no science behind it.
Now you know why Americans consume nearly 40 percent of all pharmaceutical products sold! As Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber say in their book, “Trust Us, We’re Experts,” it’s the best science money can buy. However, there are two other cash-cows that drug companies love even more since it is becoming progressively more difficult to patent new drugs.
Vaccines are the New Revenue Source for Drug Companies
Vaccines are a highly controversial topic and if you still believe that most benefit from them I would encourage you to do some additional research. I have a dedicated section on this site where you can learn more. First, vaccines have not eliminated disease in the world; and secondly, they are huge moneymakers, no matter what health officials want you to think. When it comes to vaccine safety, information, and choice, I recommend the National Vaccine Information Center, which has the most informative vaccine website I know of, where you can educate yourself on vaccine choices.
When it comes to revenues, vaccines are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the pharmaceutical industry, with a projected $36.3 billion-a-year business by 2013. This business is helped along by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) which recommends vaccines in the U.S., which in turn prompts states to follow up by mandating them. But don’t believe the old line that all this recommending and mandating only costs doctors money. Although the government regulates what pediatricians can charge for vaccines, it also gives some nice “incentives” for making sure you and your child get fully vaccinated.
Dubbed the “AFIX” approach, these incentives consist of an:
- Assessment that evaluates how well-vaccinated a provider’s patients are, compared to what the CDC would like them to be;
- Feedback to providers on what they can and must do to improve immunization rates;
- Incentives to motivate physicians to step up their efforts to push vaccines on their patients; and
- eXchange of information about how each provider’s vaccine status compares to other providers, state norms and expected outcomes.
The incentive part of AFIX is quite broad: referred to as “opportunities for partnerships and collaboration,” they range from “small tokens” of appreciation and “resources,” to “assisting” with staffing, including paying for nurses and community-based vaccinators (i.e. those giving shots in drug stores). No wonder so many entities are suddenly on-board with the latest flu vaccine push! The truth is vaccines are Pharma’s latest money machines.
Cancer—Another Major Revenue Stream
For more than forty years the war on cancer has been waged with abysmal results. It’s no secret that we are not winning the war on cancer, partly because the FDA is a rogue, out-of-control agency that systematically sabotages serious threats to the current model. Proven cancer cures like that of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who showed a tremendous success rate for his antineoplastin treatment over 30 years ago are a great example of this suppression.
The “science” behind the FDA’s decisions on what cancer studies can be introduced to the public is in the politics, and the fact that Pharma feeds the FDA’s pockets, through direct fees drug companies pay the FDA to get their products reviewed, and the less-reportable, more lucrative bonuses drug companies give the FDA for such things as travel expenses and speakers’ fees.
The bottom line is, as Dr. Samuel Epstein says in his book, “The Politics of Cancer,” this industry is fed and led by politics.
Drug company research and publicly-funded budgets for the likes of the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the National Institute of Health are dependent on treating cancer, not preventing it. The reason is obvious: the $50 billion-a-year cancer business is growing by 15 percent a year. If they cure cancer, there goes the bottom line.
Disease Prevention 101: A Healthy Lifestyle
The best way to avoid the pitfalls of modern medicine, especially dangerous drugs, is to modify your lifestyle. Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a significant impact on your health, normalizing your insulin and leptin levels is probably the most important. There is no question that this is an absolute necessity if you want to avoid disease. That means modifying your diet to avoid excessive amounts of fructose, grains, and other pro-inflammatory ingredients like trans fats, and exercising regularly.
These additional strategies can further help you stay healthy:
- Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels to between 50 and 70 ng/ml.
- Animal based omega-3 fats – Correcting the ratio of omega-3 to healthful omega-6 fats is a strong factor in helping people live longer. This typically means increasing your intake of animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, while decreasing your intake of damaged omega-6 fats (think trans fats).
- Get most of your antioxidants from foods –Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
- Use coconut oil – Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and lower your cholesterol, among other things.
- Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Use great caution when it comes to prescription drugs – Pharmaceutical drugs kill thousands of people prematurely every year – as an expected side effect of the action of the drug. And, if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need any of them in the first place.
- Learn how to effectively cope with stress – Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so developing effective coping mechanisms is a major longevity-promoting factor.
Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden emotional problems.
Incorporating these healthy lifestyle guidelines will help set you squarely on the path to optimal health and give you the best shot at living a much longer life. Remember, it’s never too late to take control of your health. And when you do go to the doctor, know that it’s OK to ask questions and opt for less medical intervention while choosing a more natural way of healing your body – you should NEVER think that you’re not supposed to, or can’t, ask questions of the person you’ve entrusted with your body.
By Dr. Mercola
On his website “Livin’ La Vida Low Carb,” Jimmy Moore examines the notion of “safe starches,” a concept promoted by Paul Jaminet, PhD. in his book, Perfect Health Diet.
Dr. Jaminet claims that those on low-carb diets who add “safe starches” such as white rice and potato back into their diet will usually improve their health and improve insulin sensitivity.
I had a chance to listen to Dr. Jaminet at the Dallas Weston A. Price Conference and was impressed with his ability to consolidate research information.
He is a Ph.D. researcher, an astrophysicist, and his wife Shou-Ching is a Harvard biomedical scientist who does not personally treat patients.
I spoke with Dr. Jaminet briefly after his presentation and he agreed to be interviewed soon.
From all his research he developed a very nice graphic that I believe many would find useful.
As you can see he suggests eliminating all grains and legumes.
This is a fairly radical approach that most people are not applying.
Dr. Rosedale’s approach is even more carb restrictive.
You can read Dr. Jaminet’s response to Dr. Rosedale here, and his earlier statement to which Dr Rosedale was replying here. It is really unusual to have two such prominent experts carry on a civil and erudite discussion on such an important topic. If you have the time and interest I would strongly recommend that you read their detailed debate.
Dr Jaminet uses the term “safe starch” to refer to starchy foods that lack protein toxins, regardless of their starch content. UK-based senior nutritionist Emily Maguire argues that terming any starch foods as “safe” could also result in a very misleading impression.
She especially questions potatoes and white rice being included as “safe” foods in any form of low carb recommendation, as their high glycemic index shows that these foods cause the greatest spike in blood sugar levels.
Dr. Ron Rosedale is a physician who first educated me about the importance of insulin. He has used low-carb diets to treat his patients with obesity, diabetes and chronic diseases for over two decades. He was even invited by prominent groups in India to help them with their health challenges, as they have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. He further argues that there is no such thing as a “safe” non-fiber starch (such as rice or potatoes).
You can read Dr. Rosedale’s entire long detailed letter at Jimmy Moore’s site. Please note it is about 20 percent down this very long page.
According to Dr. Rosedale:
“Eating starch will raise blood sugar to some extent in all living beings that do so, and that will cause some degree of harm in everybody. Therefore, the term ‘safe starch’ is an oxymoron. ‘Tolerably harmful’? Perhaps for some”.
Do You Really Need Starches?
Moore’s article does include a well-written personal account of a Paleo Diet enthusiast who claims adding potatoes and rice back into her diet in moderate amounts corrected recurring anxiety attacks that developed after about five months on a strict low-carb diet. In her words:
“I saw a holistic nutritionist. I had tests run in which he could tell how my digestion was doing (urine and saliva testing). Lo and behold, I was digesting fats and carbs well, but my protein digestion was not good…
When I told him that I was waking up most nights around 3 or 4 in the morning with racing heart, he said he believed that I was waking up because my liver was trying to do its thing at this time, but was running out of glucose, giving me low blood sugar. In response to low blood sugar, the adrenals release adrenaline, which was causing the rapid heartbeat and eventually woke me from sleep…”
Once she added in one to two 3oz servings of starch in the form of potatoes or rice daily, the anxiety symptoms disappeared. It’s hard to argue with such personal experiences.
But some nutrition experts with a long history of treating patients with diet, such as Dr. Rosedale, disagree with the premise that these so-called “safe starches” are beneficial in the long term for most people. He maintains that those who do suboptimally on a low carbohydrate diet do so as a result of substituting high protein for the carbohydrates, and Rosedale is adamantly against this. The majority of people who reduce carbohydrates raise protein due to the fat phobia perpetuated by the medical establishment for the last half-century. The Rosedale diet is higher in fats and oils and maintains a protein intake that is not higher than necessary.
One of the risks of promoting the idea of “safe starches” is that it grants “permission” to consume them, when most people probably shouldn’t. Dr. Rosedale points out that while glucose is certainly not toxic in and of itself, foods that raise your blood sugar levels essentially are “toxic” in that they set in motion a cascade of detrimental health effects. The same can be said for fructose. It’s not a toxin in and of itself, but when consumed in excess (anything above 15-25 grams/day for most people), its effects are toxic to your system and will surely have a negative impact on your health.
Now, we do have to remember that discussions such as these are aimed at the majority of people. While I have the enormous respect for Dr. Rosedale’s genius in this area and deeply appreciate his first teaching me about the importance of insulin and leptin, he leaves little room for biochemical individuality. I suspect many if not most would do very well with his recommendations, but some may not. That said, I would caution you to be very careful about ignoring them.
The sheer fact that two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and one-in-four American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes tells us that the majority, probably well over two-thirds of the U.S. adult population, needs to be very careful about eating foods that will raise their insulin levels—as starches like potatoes and rice certainly will.
If you haven’t achieved the health outcomes you are seeking, it would seem reasonable to apply the rigid carb restrictions that Dr. Rosedale advises and see if it helps.
Why there’s No Such Thing as a “Safe Starch”
In many ways this is an advanced topic and for the majority of people going into areas that they will likely never explore. It really is for those seeking to achieve exceptional high levels of health, not for the over two thirds of the population that are overweight.
Dr. Rosedale offers a large volume of data to support his stance against starches in the featured article, and I highly recommend taking the time to read through it all, plus Dr. Jaminet’s reply. Here I will summarize a few of the key points Dr. Rosedale presents in opposition to the “safe starch” concept.
Dr. Jaminet had previously boiled down the debate into two key points:
- On low-carb diets, is it better to eat 100 grams (= 400 calories) of carbs per day, as Perfect Health Diet argues, or some lower number of carb
- Are “safe starches” the best source of carb calories?
I keep very careful track of my diet with one of the best diet apps on the iPad (in my opinion) called MyFitnessPal. My guess is most people are not keeping such detailed records of what they eat. I typically have about 60-70% of my diet as healthy fat and only consume about 100 grams of carbohydrates a day or less than 20% of my total calories. This amount is in line with Perfect Health Diet recommendations, but in my diet, most of the non-fiber carbohydrates are veggies. Only a few meals a week will include some grains as they are a real treat.
Dr. Rosedale is adamant that there simply is no such thing as a safe non-fiber starch. Why? Because consuming starches, especially potatoes and rice, will raise your blood sugar to some extent, which ultimately means that it will be detrimental to some degree in everybody.
My guess is that from a biochemical perspective he is probably right.
This is because when you raise glucose levels, you raise your insulin levels, which in turn increases insulin resistance—and insulin resistance is at the root of virtually all chronic disease, and speeds up the aging process itself. Dr. Rosedale also points out that contrary to Jaminet’s speculation, there is a threshold for blood glucose that predicates whether the carbs you eat will be beneficial or detrimental, such a threshold does not exist.
“Very simply, the higher the blood sugar rise, the more damage is done in some linear upward slope. This seems to be quite clear, and should put the issue to rest.” [Emphasis mine]
Since there is no threshold for blood glucose below which it will not do some level of harm (as it’s simply a sliding scale of harm), Dr. Rosedale states that the question of whether or not “safe starches” are the “best” types of carbs becomes moot.
Sugar is Not an Essential Nutrient
Most of you probably know that your body does need, and uses, glucose for energy. Without it you wouldn’t survive. Here, it’s important to understand that the debate is about whether or not you need to supply your body with sugar from your diet, or whether gluconeogenesis (the metabolic pathway that generates glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates) is the ideal mechanism.
Dr. Rosedale dispels the notion that sugar is a necessary dietary component (barring a hypoglycemic crisis).
“There is no known need to eat sugar or starches. If there were, it would be an essential nutrient, which glucose is not. It is not listed on any list of essential (or even conditionally essential) nutrients (that we must obtain [from our diet] because we cannot make them sufficiently ourselves), that I’m aware of.
Whether or not “glucose deficiency symptoms” exist, they would not be due to a lack of glucose.”
… [Jaminet] is correct to refer to so-called “glucose deficiency” as a symptom. However, it is not symptoms that we must treat. As much as possible we need to get down to the underlying disease. Even if the symptom had to do with glucose, the disease would not be due to a lack of glucose but rather to wrong instructions about what to do with it. Just consuming more of a nutrient or building block without the body properly knowing what to do with it is likely to cause more harm than good. Osteoporosis, for instance, at least in this country, is rarely due to a lack of calcium.
There is a strong positive correlation between those with osteoporosis and those with coronary calcifications. The calcium is there, it’s just in the wrong places.
… A disease is never a disease of the individual part. Diabetes is not a disease of blood sugar, osteoporosis is not a disease of calcium and heart disease is NOT a disease of cholesterol. A disease is caused not by the breakdown of the part itself, but corruption in the instructions to that part, a disruption in the unity of the whole.”
Why You Don’t NEED Sugar in Your Diet
When you “starve” your body of sugars and starchy carbs, your body starts to acclimatize itself to burn fatty acids and ketones (also known as ketoacids, or ketone bodies). Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy.
As an example, let’s look at your brain. One of the primary fuels your brain needs is glucose, which is converted into energy. But does that mean you need dietary sugar?
The mechanism for glucose uptake in your brain has only recently begun to be studied, and what has been learned is that your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your blood stream into the food it needs to survive. When your brain becomes insulin resistant—meaning, when its response to insulin is weakened to the point that it stops producing the insulin necessary to regulate blood sugar—it begins to starve and atrophy, causing many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Fortunately, your brain is able to run on more than one type of energy supply, namely ketones. Ketone bodies may even be able to restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in, as Dr. Mary Newport’s research on coconut oil as a treatment for Alzheimer’s suggests (coconut oil naturally contains 66 percent medium chain triglycerides, which are a primary source of ketones).
So, even when it comes to something as essential as providing fuel for your brain, there’s actually little or no evidence that consuming sugars is necessary, as long as you provide it with the proper—or likely preferential—fuel, which is healthy fat.
While Dr Jaminet recommends consuming 400 calories, or about 100 grams of mostly fiber-based carbs a day to avoid what he refers to as “glucose deficiency symptoms,” Dr. Rosedale counters these claims with research from the likes of George Cahill, by many considered one of the world’s experts in the metabolism of starvation.
“It takes at least several weeks to fully adapt to extremely low sugar intake, such that the body can effectively burn fatty acids and ketones… Let’s see what George Cahill has to say about glucose needs in a person well adapted to no carbohydrate intake… [Cahill] recently wrote a paper summarizing many of his long professional career’s findings. They are the following:
“Total splanchnic glucose production [to fulfill body needs] in several weeks’ starvation amounts to approximately 80 grams daily. About 10–11 grams/day come from glucose synthesis from ketone bodies, 35–40 grams from recycled lactate and pyruvate, 20 grams from fat-derived glycerol, and the remaining 15–20 grams from protein-derived amino acids, mainly alanine.”
“… An approximation for clinical use is that if a diet contains over 100 grams carbohydrate, there is no ketosis (<0.1 mM). As one decreases dietary carbohydrate, ketogenesis begins…Glucose administration to fasting normals reverses starvation metabolism rapidly…” [Emphasis mine.]
Therefore, Dr. Rosedale summarizes:
“[U]nder a fully adapted, zero carbohydrate milieu, one only needs approximately 80 g (~320 cal) of glucose daily, the vast majority of which could be derived from fat and non protein sources. Only 15 to 20g need come from proteins, and likely less if one was actually eating fat that would allow for greater glycerol production and protein sparing.” [Emphasis mine.]
In Dr Jaminet’s reply to Dr Rosedale, he argues that although people can survive on zero glucose consumption due to ketone generation, this is not optimal. For “perfect health,” one should provide the body with some dietary glucose. Dr. Jaminet acknowledges that some level of ketosis is desirable, but this can be achieved even with consumption of 100 grams carbohydrate daily if coconut oil is consumed, or transiently during the latter parts of the overnight fast.
Calorie Restriction for Longevity
As Dr. Rosedale mentions, calorie restrictions has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most effective strategies for reversing disease and extending lifespan.
First, sugar (whether it’s glucose or any other sugar) glycates, and glycation is one of the most devastating molecular mechanisms there is. Glycation is in large part responsible for the signs of aging. Second, ketosis, which is needed for gluconeogenesis (creation of glucose), will not occur if you consume more than about 100 grams of carbohydrates a day, according to Cahill’s research.
So the KEY to calorie restriction is understanding which calories to restrict!
Specifically, calories from carbs are the ones that need to go first, and need to be restricted the most severely.
The detrimental impact of sugar applies to everyone, without exception, to some degree. So while the health effects may be less noticeable in some than in others, it’s simply a matter of scale. Then, it’s a matter of time until your particular body “gives up” after having compensated and adjusted to the insult over a period of time. In this case, once your body loses its ability to compensate for the continuous influx of daily glucose consumption by spiking insulin and leptin (even if it’s moderate; remember it’s like a sliding scale of harm that is dose-dependent), you eventually develop insulin and leptin resistance.
Dr. Rosedale includes a number of relevant studies showing the harmful effects of carbohydrates. For all of them, please see the original article. Here are just a few:
- PLoS Genetics 2009: “[E]xcess of glucose has been associated with several diseases, including diabetes and the less understood process of aging. On the contrary, limiting glucose (i.e., calorie restriction) slows aging and age-related diseases in most species…The pro-aging effect of glucose signaling on life span correlated with an increase in reactive oxygen species and a decrease in oxidative stress resistance and respiration rate. Likewise, the anti-aging effect of both calorie restriction and the Dgit3 mutation was accompanied by increased respiration and lower reactive oxygen species production.”
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2000: “Blood samples were drawn from 14 normal subjects prior to, at 1, 2 and 3 hours following ingestion of 75 g glucose…We conclude that glucose intake…increases oxidative load [in leukocytes] and causes a fall in a-tocopherol concentration.”
Dr. Jaminet argues in response that while moderate carbohydrate restriction is good – thus his advocacy of a low-carb diet – too much carbohydrate restriction can be harmful. In particular, when carbs are scarce body temperature is lowered to conserve glucose, and low body temperature increases risk of infections which might shorten lifespan
Starches Raise Glucose which Contributes to Chronic Disease
So, to sum it up in the fewest number of words possible, know that:
Raising blood glucose raises insulin, which increases insulin and leptin resistance.
And avoiding insulin and leptin resistance is perhaps the single most important factors if you seek optimal health and longevity. Therefore, consuming more than about 80 grams of carbs per day, based on the research, cannot be recommended.
That said, are potatoes and rice, specifically, a more healthful choice than, say, bread or pasta?
No. As explained by Dr. Rosedale, these foods, or any other type of non-fiber starch, will result in the following adverse consequences, regardless of your current state of health:
- They will quickly be converted into glucose, which will raise your blood glucose
- As your blood glucose rises, your insulin- and leptin levels rise in response. While this mechanism is designed to optimize short-term survival, it’s not healthy for a long, post-reproductive lifespan. The immediate effects of spiking your insulin levels are now well known and include vasoconstriction, inhibited fat burning, and reduced production of glycerol substrates to make glucose, just to name a few. For more information, please read Dr. Rosedale’s article, Insulin and its Metabolic Effects
- Repeated elevations of insulin and leptin eventually lead to insulin- and leptin resistance, which are hallmarks of poor health
However Dr. Jaminet would counter that if you are going to include the carbs mentioned above, rice would be far superior to wheat due to the lectins, gluten and other items in wheat that serve as anti-nutrients and toxins, and that sweet potatoes would be far better than white sugary (fructose-rich) carb sources like white potatoes.
If you are looking for a new and solid eating plan based on solid science I would strongly recommend Dr. Jaminet’s book Perfect Health Diet. Your goal will be 50-70% of your diet as healthy fat which will radically reduce your carbohydrate intake. Most people will likely notice massive improvement in their health by following this approach as they are consuming FAR more grain and bean carbohydrates in their diet.
One of Dr. Jaminet’s final conclusions is
“A 20% carb diet, while not optimal for every single person, is healthy for nearly everyone. Twenty percent may be the best single prediction of the optimal carb intake for the population as a whole.”
If you are already healthy and seeking to take it to the next level and are willing to experiment then give Dr. Rosedale’s suggestions a try and eliminate nearly all non-fiber carbs. They will be very challenging to implement but may provide outstanding results. More information from Dr. Rosedale can be found here.
Whatever diet choices you make please remember ALWAYS listen to your body as it will give you feedback if what you are doing is right for your unique biochemistry and genetics. Listen to that feedback and adjust your program accordingly.
For even more information on this topic, you can follow the still-ongoing discussion between Dr. Rosedale and Dr. Jaminet in the Perfect Health Diet: Safe Starches Symposium.
By Dr. Mercola
A recent study published in the journal Circulation, Heart Failure, sought to ascertain whether fish or the fatty acids they contain are independently associated with risk for incident of heart failure among postmenopausal women.
The study looked at the diet of close to 85,000 women.
Their consumption of baked and broiled fish, fried fish, omega-3 fats and trans fats were determined from a questionnaire.
The study found that the manner in which the fish was cooked was crucially important.
“Increased baked/broiled fish intake may lower [heart failure] risk, whereas increased fried fish intake may increase [heart failure] risk in postmenopausal women.”
What’s interesting about this is that while fish is generally considered a healthful food due to its heart-healthy omega-3 fat content, the addition of harmful trans-fat (which you get when you deep-fry the fish in vegetable oil) effectively cancels out any health benefits of the fish you might otherwise have received.
So carefully choosing your cooking methods, and your cooking oils, can make or break your meal from a nutritional standpoint. Aside from that, I’ll also address other safety concerns that apply to virtually all fish today, and how to help circumvent these dangers.
The Importance of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fat for Heart Health
The relationship between animal-based omega-3 fat and heart-health has been well established, with deficiency equating to an increased risk of heart disease. These effects have been shown in hundreds of experiments in animals, humans, tissue culture studies, and clinical trials. But that’s not all. The overall health benefits of omega-3 fats go far beyond heart health.
In fact, if you go to the omega-3 fat page on GreenMedInfo.com, you will see a list of scientific studies demonstrating the benefits of omega-3s for more than 250 different diseases, which is powerful confirmation of their broad-reaching scope. One reason omega-3s are so good for you is their anti-inflammatory properties, especially the omega-3s from animal sources—EPA and DHA—found primarily in fish, shellfish and krill. These animal-based omega-3 fats act to prevent heart disease in a number of different ways.
For example, they:
Help prevent arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation) Inhibit synthesis of cytokines (which regulate inflammatory responses) and mitogens (which stimulate of T-cell activation) Are antithrombotic (prevent clotting) Help inhibit atherosclerosis Have anti-inflammatory properties Stimulate endothelial-derived nitric oxide. This helps protect your heart by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure Help reduce triglyceride (fat) levels in your blood Help lower high blood pressure (alleviate hypertension)
The Link Between Trans Fat and Heart Disease
For decades, you’ve been advised to consume vegetable oils instead of saturated fat in order to prevent heart disease. Unfortunately, the medical establishment chose to banish the wrong fat to improve health…
Human trials have conclusively demonstrated that vegetable oils DO NOT decrease atherosclerosis or decrease your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, studies have revealed that vegetable oils may increase your risk of heart disease, and might also increase your risk of cancer after a period of about five years!
In light of previous research into the harmful effects of trans fats on heart health, the results from the featured study do not come as a great surprise. It only strengthens the link between trans fats and heart disease, and indicates that this harmful effect is potent enough to cancel out the otherwise beneficial omega-3 content of the fish consumed. Previous research has also found that trans fats can interfere with your body’s use of omega-3 fats, which may also help explain why deep-fried fish resulted in greater harm.
So what’s the bottom line?
Avoid commercially deep-fried fish (and avoid deep frying in vegetable oil if you’re cooking it from scratch), because you’re likely not going to derive any benefit from the omega-3 in the fish. Meanwhile, baked or broiled fish, using good-old-fashioned butter—which is a healthful saturated fat—is a wiser choice, if you’re going to eat fish (and I’ll discuss the reasons why you may want to limit your fish consumption, despite it being such a rich source of omega-3).
How Trans Fats Harm Your Heart
Last year, scientists claimed to have finally discovered one of the mechanisms by which dietary trans-fats cause hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. It appears these damaged fats suppress the responsiveness of TGF-beta, a key protein that controls growth and differentiation in your cells. In a nutshell, trans fats cause dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level, and the ramifications are significant. One 2009 study revealed that among women with underlying coronary heart disease, eating trans-fats increased the risk of sudden cardiac arrest three-fold!
Besides heart disease, other studies have linked trans-fats to:
- Cancer: They interfere with enzymes your body uses to fight cancer.
- Diabetes: They interfere with the insulin receptors in your cell membranes.
- Decreased immune function: They reduce your immune response.
- Problems with reproduction: They interfere with enzymes needed to produce sex hormones.
Why Most Fish is No Longer a Healthful Food Choice
So, it’s pretty safe to say that fish steeped in trans-fat is not going to do your health any favors. But what about eating fish in general? Is it really an ideal source of essential omega-3 fats, as long as you cook it appropriately? In a perfect world, fish would be a near-perfect food — high in protein and full of essential nutrients and fats. But our world is not perfect, and, sadly, neither is our fish supply. Just take a look at these somber reports on the contamination levels of our fish stocks:
- A 2004 study on fish living in lakes and reservoirs found that more than half contained excessive levels of mercury — so much so they were deemed unsafe for children and pregnant women to eat.
- Laboratory tests in New York released in 2007 found so much mercury in tuna sushi that two or three pieces a week at some restaurants could be a health hazard. Ten percent of the tuna samples were unsafe for all consumers, because they contained mercury levels above 1.0 ppm, which is the legal action limit for fish sold in the U.S.
- According to a 2009 U.S. Geological Survey study, scientists detected mercury contamination in every fish sampled in nearly 300 streams across the United States. More than a quarter of these fish were found to contain mercury at levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- According to a 2009 report, the rate of mercury contamination in tuna and other Pacific fish has increased 30 percent since 1990.
- An estimated 40 percent of all U.S. exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna from the Pacific. And roughly 75 percent of all human exposure to mercury in general comes from eating fish!
Pregnant women in particular are dissuaded from consuming fish, as methylmercury can have lasting negative effects on your developing child’s health, affecting their attention span, language, visual-spatial skills, memory and coordination. It is estimated that nearly 60,000 children each year are born at risk for neurological problems due to methylmercury exposure in the womb.
It is for these reasons that I do not recommend eating fish — whether farm-raised or from an ocean, lake, river or stream — unless you have lab results in your hand that can attest to its purity.
An important point to remember though is that if you’re not eating fish, you need to make sure you’re getting your omega-3 from some other source. Fortunately, you can easily meet your omega-3 needs by taking a high-quality krill oil supplement, instead of risking your health by eating contaminated fish.
The Best and Worst Fish You Can Put on Your Plate
If you’re not willing to give it up completely, at least educate yourself on the “best” and “worst” fish options. The larger the fish, the likelier they are to have high levels of environmental toxins like mercury. Predatory fish such as large tuna, swordfish, shark and mackerel can have mercury concentrations in their bodies that are 10,000 times higher than those of their surrounding environment, according to The National Resources Defense Council.
There are still some safe areas out there, such as certain waters in Alaska, but it will require some patience to find fish from these sources. I finally found Vital Choice wild red salmon, the purity of which I’ve confirmed through third-party lab testing, and it’s currently the main source of fish I eat. Smaller fish, like anchovies and sardines, are also an option, as their small size makes them far less likely to be contaminated.
If you insist on eating typical, store-bought fish, however, and want to know more about the extent of your mercury exposure, I urge you to check out the online mercury calculator at GotMercury.org to get an idea of the risks. You can also ameliorate some of the dangers by taking a mercury chelator with your meal. Examples include green clays like Zeolite, or chlorella.
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that farm-raised fish is safer than wild-caught. In fact, farm-raised fish can be a far more hazardous choice. Studies have consistently found levels of PCBs, dioxins, toxaphene and dieldrin, as well as mercury, to be higher in farm-raised fish than wild fish. Further, farm-raised fish, like factory-farmed meat, is pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and even chemicals to change their color (such as to make salmon appear pink).
How You Cook Your Food Matters!
Last but not least, I want to stress the point that how you cook your food really does matter, and that cooking can destroy many of the inherent health benefits of most foods.
Francis Pottenger, a contemporary and friend of Weston A. Price, discovered that every food has a “heat labile point.” This is the temperature point at which food changes its chemical configuration. Pasteurization, deep-frying, and barbecuing are all forms of cooking where food is heated past the heat labile point.
Your body is designed to eat foods of certain chemical configurations—which is related to your ancestral history.
If these configurations change, whether due to ‘unnatural’ cooking methods, or chemical additives, your body may not be able to properly digest and assimilate that food as it doesn’t have the appropriate enzymes for the job. When the food does not digest and assimilate properly, it can sit in your gut, where it can become toxic. For example, carbohydrates can start to ferment; proteins putrefy, and fats become rancid. These toxins irritate the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and can upset your gut flora, causing overgrowth of candida and other pathogens. Many of today’s ills can be traced back to improper and unnatural cooking and processing.
Ideally you’ll want to eat as many foods as possible in their raw, unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season. I recommend consuming about 80 percent of your food raw, and only lightly cooking the remaining 20 percent.
Granted, unless you like sushi, few people would opt for raw fish, but as illustrated by the featured study, wisely choosing how you cook your fish can make a big difference. Carefully poaching or baking until tender and flaky, while avoiding over-cooking the fish are your best bets.
When cooking any kind of food, also keep the following tips in mind:
- Use a stable oil like coconut oil for all your cooking and baking
- Avoid using non-stick or aluminum cookware
- Avoid overcooking your food
Find the frequency that will mimic the frequency the brain produces during deep sleep. During deep sleep Dr. Mercola stated that Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released from the pituitary gland. If we can mimic this frequency externally and put it in the new Radiohead album, we may be able to heal ourselves and get a bit taller. It would be between 0 and 4 Hz
By Dr. Mercola
Dr. Meryl Nass is one of the leading experts on the anthrax vaccine, which is relatively obscure yet has an interesting history, with which Dr. Nass is very familiar.
Her interest in the anthrax vaccine goes back to 1988.
She was a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) when students at the University of Massachusetts looking into the University’s Pentagon contracts discovered a researcher who had previously worked at Fort Detrick and was doing work on anthrax.
“They thought this was probably germ warfare research and asked my group to look at it and help them understand it,” she says.
She was tasked with the investigation.
“When I read the contract, I found even though it was titled a contract for improved anthrax vaccines, it actually had to do with some primitive genetic engineering of anthrax,” she explains.
“I thought it was rather interesting and odd that the meaning of the contract had been hidden.
I thought I would just read a little bit more about anthrax and see what was going on with this government project.”
Identifying Biological Warfare
Dr. Nass quickly made two discoveries that appeared important. One was that the anthrax epidemic that occurred in Rhodesia during its civil war (and had killed about 200 people) had completely different characteristics than all other anthrax epidemics.
The other was that the U.S. army actually had a mission statement, and had signed a treaty that specified the type of defense research allowed under the Biological Weapons Convention. Yet the army seemed to be transgressing its own mission statement and treaty… Dr. Nass felt these facts should be made public.
“I felt I had a responsibility to identify biological warfare,” she says.
It seemed no one was really looking at epidemics to determine whether they were natural occurrences or deliberately caused. Dr. Nass believed there needed to be a methodology to make that determination in order to prevent biological warfare from being used.
“Up until then, if you used biological warfare nobody would be any wiser and you would get away with it without any consequences,” she says.
So, in her spare time, she began creating a model for investigating epidemics. She eventually published a paper that dissected the Rhodesian epidemic, which she found was likely due to biological warfare. That paper also showed how you could look at different aspects of an epidemic to determine whether it was natural or not.
The Deadly Nature of Anthrax
Unlike most other bacteria, anthrax is a bacteria that forms very potent spores that can remain alive under harsh conditions for 100 years or longer. Once the ideal conditions are present once again, the spores open up and start reproducing. If the spores germinate, they reproduce and create additional spores which last another 100 years. So once an area becomes contaminated with anthrax it tends to remain that way permanently.
The rugged survivability of the anthrax spore is what makes it such a powerful biological weapon. It can easily be dropped from an airplane or exploded in a bomb, for example.
Once the spores are inhaled they can cause overwhelming infection, and can be lethal in as little as two to seven days. It is, however, very responsive to antibiotics, and if antibiotics are administered before you become symptomatic, antibiotics tend to be 100 percent effective. The only type of antibiotic that does NOT work is the cephalosporins, as anthrax is naturally cephalosporin-resistant.
The Anthrax Vaccine
In 1997, the Defense Department announced it would vaccinate everybody in the military for anthrax. Dr. Nass, because of her familiarity with the anthrax literature, knew there were significant questions about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Animal studies had shown it to be rather ineffective. Questions had also been raised about its potential contribution to Gulf War Syndrome. Dr. Nass believes it’s a viable candidate as one of the contributing factors.
As is typical, there were potential financial conflicts of interest at play, which Dr. Nass details in her interview, so to learn more, please listen to it in its entirety or read through the transcript.
Hundreds of military personnel began falling ill once the anthrax vaccine became routine, and many within the military began fighting the mandate. The movement culminated in no less than 13 congressional hearings on the various aspects of the anthrax vaccine program.
“In 2001, there was a memo going around the Pentagon for consideration of stopping the entire anthrax vaccine program because it had caused more problems for the military than they wanted to deal with at that point,” she says.
Interestingly, anthrax does not appear to have ever been used against an army. There’s evidence of it being used on civilian populations in at least three instances, but the vaccine itself is probably a far greater health threat to military personnel than the threat of being exposed to anthrax.
The Anthrax Letters—A False Flag Event? If so, Why?
As you may recall, 10 years ago, the so-called “anthrax letters” incident occurred. According to a recent report , one of the widows from that event will receive a $50 million settlement from the U.S. government.
Dr. Nass has carefully studied this incident and, while there’s no definitive cause-effect connection, she believes the timing of the incident is suspect and could potentially have been motivated by a need to validate the use of the anthrax vaccine. Alternatively, it may have been a ruse to motivate the approval of war with Iraq, which we knew had anthrax, or to appropriate more money for biodefense.
Prior to that incident, there was no real incentive; why spend money on a threat that doesn’t exist?
“After the letters, you didn’t need any evidence,” she says. “The federal government has spent 60 billion dollars since the anthrax letters on biodefense… not only against anthrax but against many other agents as well. So that’s a 60 billion dollar boost to the biodefense industry. It’s a lot of money.”
The U.S. government also subsequently purchased $1.4 billion-worth of anthrax vaccine for public use, and recently signed a contract for another 45 million doses at $1.25 billion dollars. Score: $2.65 BILLION for the vaccine maker, for a vaccine that previously had sold for a mere $2 to $3 per dose for military recruits.
Pediatric Anthrax Vaccine—A Disaster in the Making?
According to Dr. Nass, the Department of Health and Human Services now wants to investigate the safety of the anthrax vaccine for pediatric use, and the National Biodefense Science Board has approved a pediatric anthrax vaccine trial.
“What are the ramifications of giving this pediatric anthrax vaccine, especially in light of the fact that physicians involved in the military immunization program note about a one to two percent serious side effect profile?” she asks.
“The FDA has a definition of a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine: That is it causes hospitalization, an ER visit, a permanent disability or death, or a life threatening event… For the anthrax vaccine, there are almost 7,000 adverse event reports… of which the FDA has said 757 are serious. So… 11 percent of the total were serious.”
The very idea to subject infants to such a potentially hazardous vaccine seems, quite frankly, unconscionable.
“It’s completely crazy, and it’s illegal,” Dr. Nass says.
“It can only be done because the Department of Health and Human Services is denying that there are serious adverse reactions. They have their National Biodefense Science Board, which by the way has two people who were very important in running the anthrax vaccine program in the military on that board, and their job is to protect the good name of the anthrax vaccine.
One is John Grabenstein. He ran the military vaccine program and ran the anthrax vaccine program first. He was instrumental in creating a whole series of scientific studies that were misrepresented and poorly done to try to show that the vaccine was safe when it wasn’t safe. He’s a very unethical researcher. He is a pharmacist with a PhD, and of course where did he go after he left the military? He went to Merck and works as a so-called scientist in their vaccine division… Merck knew that this guy was unethical; that he was cooking the books on the research, and they hired him anyway.”
Where’s the Liability when Something Goes Wrong?
If you’re in the military, you can’t sue the government for damages for injury that occurs during your military service (Fere’s Doctrine). Instead, you have the VA health system. The situation is just as dire for civilians when it comes to pandemic vaccines, such as the now infamous H1N1 swine flu vaccine, as well as anthrax.
Dr. Nass explains:
“The PREP Act, the Public Readiness Emergency Preparedness Act, was passed by congress on December 30th of 2005, signed into law in 2006. This said that if an emergency is declared, the manufacturer of a product made to address the emergency would be given almost a blanket waiver of liability. The doctors administering [the vaccine or drug], the distributors, and anybody in the government who had been part of the planning for a vaccine or a drug program, would also be given immunity to any liability. It was supposed to be for emergencies only.
On October 1, 2008, Secretary Levitt, who was then Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, issued an emergency declaration for anthrax. In consultation with Chertoff, who was the Secretary of Homeland Security, they decided that there was a “non-negligible” risk of anthrax, and therefore they had the right—because of the way the law was written—to declare an anthrax emergency.
What that meant was that now the manufacturer would have no liability if civilians got sick from the [anthrax] vaccine.
Because of this PREP Act which… extends through the end of 2015, anybody who gets anthrax vaccine cannot sue. The only avenue to get any benefits is if you can get them from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). There is a small amount of money that congress has designated to be provided to people who become ill or die from anthrax vaccine. However, you have to prove to DHHS that your illness is due to anthrax vaccine.
The DHSS is supposed to develop standards for determining what the vaccine might do, to see whether or not you have an injury that is caused by the vaccine. But DHHS has made no efforts to develop those standards, so there aren’t any. So as far as I know, DHHS has not given out any money to anybody, [and] you are prohibited from suing the manufacturer. If you did win and got some money out of DHHS, the maximum amount is about $300,000 for a death or total disability and this does not include recovery of any legal expenses involved to receive this and the legal fees could easily exceed the $300,000.”
Why Pandemic Vaccines are Automatically Riskier than Most Others
Another highly unfortunate if not downright unethical situation linked to the PREP Act is that it creates a negative incentive to do any safety research. The manufacturers carry the sole responsibility for determining the side effect profile, yet if they determine what those side effects are, and they’re serious, then they could be held liable. They’re only really shielded from liability for unexpected or unforeseen side effects, as pandemic vaccines typically need to be rushed.
You can’t spend years perfecting the formula when you’re dealing with an emergency. This is understandable. But in order to maintain deniability, they need to avoid determining what the exact side effects are.
Making matters worse:
“In general, the FDA has not required post-marketing studies to better define what the adverse event profile is of a drug or a vaccine,” Dr. Nass says, and this is true for ALL vaccines. There’s no post-marketing requirement.
“Until recently, the FDA said they didn’t even have the authority under congress to ask companies to do those studies. Now they can ask, but they don’t have the authority to enforce that request.”
Those harmed or killed by the H1N1 vaccine have no real legal recourse. You could try to file a claim with the DHHS, but again you run into the problem, and it is now your job to prove your health problem is related to the vaccine.
This is by design. And yes, it’s heartless.
Problem-Reaction-Solution. Take the Bait at Your Own Risk…
There is a process that some refer to as Problem-Reaction-Solution, in which you create or manufacture a problem; there is a public reaction, and then you provide the answer that will further your own agenda. With respect to the anthrax vaccine the problem created was bioterrorism. People reacted to the implied threat of further attacks with widespread panic, and the solution to these threats was, ultimately, a vaccine.
The PREP Act in combination with the Problem-Reaction-Solution process creates a massive opportunity for vaccine makers, as it allows them to “sneak in” new ingredients and adjuvants (immune-boosting additives with potentially unknown or risky profiles) under the guise of an emergency vaccine. Then, since it’s been used already, they can use these ingredients in other vaccines without having to go through a rigorous approval process…
“What the industry has found to be a very effective way of getting questionable products into the market for civilians is to use them first for emergency products,” Dr. Nass says.
“If you can make an anthrax, or a smallpox, or another vaccine for bioterrorism using these adjuvants… and you put the adjuvant into that product, you can then get it in the back door and start using it in other products as well, and get them into licensure much quicker—even things that ordinarily wouldn’t be able to be licensed. So that seems to be what’s going on. Novel adjuvants were added to the swine flu vaccine in almost every country in the world except the U.S.”
Squalene was adjuvant, and the reason it ultimately wasn’t used here was no doubt due to public outrage and pressure following an intensive education campaign, of which I and others, not to mention countless of my readers, were part. So, in the end, while the US government did purchase novel adjuvants, they ended up not being used.
“I think the public should know that these novel adjuvants, which are going to be dangerous for some people, are in the experimental bird flu vaccines,” Dr. Nass warns. “There are many in government who would like to start using the bird flu vaccine preemptively, just in case it might help when bird flu came along. Maybe you would only need a booster dose then; a vaccine that more precisely targets whatever comes up.
I think the public should be aware that in lots of other new vaccines these adjuvants are not really necessary to make the vaccine have an effect, and nobody is going to [officially] tell citizens that these new ingredients are in there.”
Dr. Nass has both a blog and a web site that contains a wealth of well-referenced information about swine flu-, seasonal influenza-, anthrax- and smallpox vaccines. Both can be found at: www.anthraxvaccine.org. Getting non-prejudiced information about vaccines is very difficult. Who can you trust? One source Dr. Nass feels she can recommend is The Cochrane Collaboration vaccine group, that was headed up by Tom Jefferson in the UK.
“He is a very honest guy,” Dr. Nass says. “He was a military physician in the UK. What they have published about vaccines I think is very reliable.”
The Cochrane Database has conducted five reviews on the effectiveness of flu vaccines in the past several years, and all five concluded that it doesn’t work and does not work well for others. I urge you to review Dr. Nass’ website and peruse her blog for more information. You cannot be too informed when it comes to vaccines! So do your homework, as that’s the only way to make a truly informed choice.
By Dr. Mercola
Organic foods are required by U.S. federal law to be produced in ways that promote ecological sustainability, without common toxic and genetically engineered ingredients.
But organic products are increasingly being forced to compete with products that are labeled as “natural.”
There are no restrictions on the term “natural”, and it often constitutes nothing more than meaningless marketing hype.
According to a recent report from the Cornucopia Institute:
“[There is a] vast differences between organic cereal and granola products and so-called natural products, which contain ingredients grown on conventional farms where the use of toxic pesticides and genetically engineered organisms is widespread.
… Our analysis reveals that “natural” products—using conventional ingredients—often are priced higher than equivalent organic products.
This suggests that some companies are taking advantage of consumer confusion.”
This is significant, because surveys have shown that more consumers pay attention to the “100% Natural” claim than the “100% Organic” label. In one such survey, 31 percent of respondents said the “100% Natural” label was the most desirable eco-friendly product claim, compared to just 14 percent who chose “100% Organic.” Food companies clearly know this, and they’re cashing in on your confusion.
Are You Being Misled by Your Favorite “All-Natural” Brand?
“Since breakfast cereals are popular with children, it is especially important for parents to be aware of the differences between “natural” products, with conventional ingredients, and certified organic ones. Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of synthetic pesticides and other inputs that are commonly used in “natural” products but prohibited in organics.”
Indeed, it’s not enough to be an avid label reader these days, you also have to know how the “labeling game” is being played by the food manufacturers. The average shopper would probably agree that the term “natural” evokes the idea that the food in question will not contain any added synthetic ingredients or chemicals, but because there is no standard definition of the term, with the exception of meat, “natural” in many cases equates to “conventional.”
The misuse of the term “natural” by companies who simply pay lip service to sustainability and the organic movement undermines companies that are sincere in their efforts to bring you eco-friendly, unadulterated, safe foods.
The Cornucopia report clearly shows that the terms “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable, and as a concerned shopper, you need to beware of the differences between the two, or risk paying more for what amounts to little more than a conventional product.
The report also unveils the real owners of many of your all-natural brands—a piece of information that is oftentimes not disclosed anywhere on the packaging, or even on the product’s website—which might give you a hint that the product may be produced in less than organic ways. For example, both Kashi and Bear Naked are actually owned by Kellogg Company… Synthetic ingredients and additives, toxic pesticides, fumigants and solvents frequently show up in products bearing the “natural” label, while these are strictly prohibited in organic production.
According to the report:
“On August 31, 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Kellogg/Kashi® for allegedly misleading consumers with its “natural” claims. One Kashi® product in particular, GoLean® Shakes, is composed almost entirely of synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients, according to the plaintiff.”
What You Need to Know About Organic Labels
It’s important to realize that there are several different organic labels out there, but only one relates directly to foods: the USDA Organic seal. This seal is your best assurance of organic quality. Growers and manufacturers of organic products bearing the USDA seal have to meet the strictest standards of any of the currently available organic labels.
- Products labeled “100% Organic” must contain only organically produced ingredients
- Products labeled “Certified Organic” must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients
- The label “Made with Organic Ingredients” can contain anywhere between 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients
In order to ensure you’re actually getting your money’s worth, you need to make sure the food you buy bears the “100% USDA Organic” label. The problem with the latter two labels is obvious. Anywhere from five to 30 percent of the ingredients may be conventionally-grown, so you’re still exposed to pesticide residues and other questionable ingredients. The “Made with Organic Ingredients” is often misused and misleading, just as the “natural” label, as it allows for plenty of conventionally-produced ingredients.
A “100% Organic” product on the other hand cannot be irradiated, and cannot contain preservatives or flavor enhancing chemicals, nor traces of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by the FDA.
It must also be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity—so it encompasses organic in a holistic way, from start to finish. Crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers, and livestock cannot be given growth hormones.
So, in terms of organic food, there’s really only one label that can provide you with any real measure of quality, and that’s the “100% USDA Organic” label. As the Cornucopia report clearly shows, the “natural” label can be close to worthless in terms of protecting you from harmful ingredients and informing you about the manner in which it was grown.
Bait and Switch…
The Cornucopia report also brings up the problem of bait and switch:
“Some companies that started out organic, and built consumer loyalty as organic brands, have switched to non-organic “natural” ingredients and labeling. Peace Cereal® is an example of “bait-and switch.”
In 2008, the company that owned the Peace Cereal® brand, Golden Temple, switched from organic to cheaper conventional ingredients, without lowering its prices. At the time of the switch, the company also did not change its package design, other than eliminating the USDA Organic seal and the word “organic” from its cereal boxes. Most egregiously, it did not change the barcode on the cereal boxes. Many retailers and shoppers were unaware of the switch until the Cornucopia Institute conducted an investigation in late 2010…
Today, Peace Cereal® is owned by Hearthside Food Solutions, which changed its logo to include “All Natural,” appearing right below the “Peace Cereal®” name. Hearthside/Peace Cereal® continues to charge customers as much as or more than many certified organic competitors.”
According to the report, other companies that performed similar bait and switch maneuvers include Annie’s Homegrown and Barbara’s Bakery. Cereal and granola companies that started out organic, and remain faithful to the organic label include:
- Food for Life
- Grandy Oats
- Nature’s Path
Interestingly enough, when comparing wholesale prices for multigrain and specialty grain flakes, the two least expensive products are by committed organic companies, effectively shattering the myth that organic has to be more expensive than conventional. In other price comparisons, “natural” brands using conventionally-grown ingredients were priced exactly the same as 100 percent organic companies.
“Natural” Label Does NOT Prohibit Genetically Modified Ingredients
The USDA certified organic label is your best guarantee that the food was produced without:
- Toxic pesticides
- Genetically engineered (GM) ingredients
- Carcinogenic fumigants
- Chemical solvents
This peace of mind is something the “100% Natural” label will NOT give you. Genetically modified (GM) ingredients are of particular concern when it comes to food products like breakfast cereals and granola bars, because, in the US, the vast majority of the most common ingredients in these products—corn, soy, and canola—are genetically modified.
Unfortunately, more than 60 percent of consumers erroneously believe that the “natural” label implies or suggests the absence of GM ingredients, according to a 2010 Hartman Group poll. If you’re one of the 60 percent, please understand that at the current time, the ONLY label that can protect you against GM ingredients is the USDA 100% Organic label.
Shocking Finding: Many Natural Brands Contain up to 100 Percent GM Ingredients!
The most disturbing finding presented in the featured report relates to GM ingredients found in so-called all-natural foods:
“The Cornucopia Institute sent samples of breakfast cereal to an accredited and highly reputable GMO testing laboratory. Samples were tested for the exact percentage of genetically engineered corn or soybeans, using the most sophisticated and accurate tests commercially available.
The results were stunning. Several breakfast cereal manufacturers that market their foods as “natural,” even some that claim to avoid genetically engineered ingredients and are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project, contained high levels of genetically engineered ingredients.”
Natural products that contained 100 percent genetically modified grains included:
|Kashi®||Mother’s®||Nutritious Living®||General Mills Kix®|
Two breakfast cereal products that are currently enrolled in the Non-GMO Project, Barbara’s Bakery’s Puffins and Whole Foods’ 365® Corn Flakes, contained more than 50 percent GM corn… Meanwhile, the control, Nature’s Path® USDA certified organic corn flakes, contained only trace amounts of GM contamination (less than 0.5 percent).
“These test results underscore the importance of the organic label, which ensures consumers that the manufacturer uses only non-genetically engineered ingredients. More extensive testing is necessary to draw conclusions regarding the truthfulness of “non-GMO” claims, but these preliminary results point to several problems. First, manufacturers can claim that they avoid purchasing genetically engineered ingredients, but these claims may be meaningless unless they are verified by a third party, such as an organic certifying agent.
In addition, many of the most reputable organic companies have developed their own testing protocols to ensure the purity of their products. Furthermore, the Non-GMO Project, which “enrolls” products before it verifies them as being non-GMO, may give consumers a false sense of security. Our test results reveal that several “enrolled” products were in fact made with GE ingredients.”
How to Find Healthy Food—100 Percent Organic or Not
As deplorable as this situation is, it’s not surprising. Food companies, as any other primarily profit-driven company, simply cannot let such a swelling market niche go untapped. However, if you realize that much of the all-natural claims are hype, it becomes easier to navigate around the deception.
To find brands that are committed to sustainable organic agriculture and avoiding genetically engineered ingredients use Cornucopia’s Cereal Scorecard.
Another factor to consider is the fact that many small family farms actually adhere to fully organic practices even though they may not have gone through the expense of obtaining organic certification. So labels aren’t everything when it comes to healthful food. But if you’re going to shop by the label, make sure it’s the USDA certified 100% organic label. Aside from that, to find the freshest, healthiest foods out there, here are a few other guidelines to live by:
- Frequent farmer’s markets where you can find fresh locally-grown foods that are in season
- Join a community-supported agriculture program if one is available near you (it allows you to buy produce, meats and other foods directly from the farm)
- Take part in organic food co-ops in your area
- Plant an organic garden; even a small space can produce a lot of fresh food and herbs
- If you must shop in a supermarket, look for locally grown items, which are likely to be fresher than other foods
URGENT Action Items!
The Cornucopia Institute is now in URGENT need of your help, and joining the Institute and/or signing up for their newsletter will assure you get timely updates on these important issues.
At the end of November, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will vote on a number of important issues with regards to organics, including:
- The approval of an organic egg regulation that would require organic chicken farmers to provide a mere two square feet per bird of outdoor space. This is a huge favor to industrial producers allowing their factory farmed eggs to fall under the designation of “organic.” Meanwhile, it will handicap family farms that are truly letting their birds out to pasture.
- A vote will take place to decide whether to allow a food additive produced by Martek Biosciences in organic foods. The product is an omega 3/omega-6 oil synthesized from fermented algae and soil fungus. The oil is extracted from this biomass using hexane, a neurotoxic byproduct of gasoline refinement that is specifically banned in organics.
Cornucopia investigated Martek’s patent and safety filings at the FDA, and discovered that the product also contains synthetic chemicals, stabilizers, carriers, and some of the ingredients are also genetically modified. (As it turns out, some of their products were developed by Monsanto before Martek bought the technical rights.)
“They’ve already added this to almost all infant formula in the United States,” Kastel warns. “Algae and fungus have never been a part of the human diet, let alone children’s. And now we see it in organic infant formula, and companies like Dean Foods are adding it to organic milk… it’s in every single formula available on the market… except for one organic brand [Babies Only brand, which contains DHA from eggs. All other organic brands appear to contain Martek's omega oil].
- The NOSB is also considering approving the addition of sulfites (artificial preservatives) to organic wine. This would be the first time artificial preservatives are allowed in organics
Organics has never been under such dire threats, so I urge you to please take a moment right now to print out, sign, and mail the proxy letter provided by Cornucopia back to them ASAP for hand delivery at the rapidly approaching NOSB meeting.
Corporate lobbyists will be present, and so will the Cornucopia Institute, to counter their claims and make sure your voice, in support of organic integrity, is heard.
So, please, print out this proxy letter right now. Sign it, and mail it, as soon as possible, to:
The Cornucopia Institute
PO Box 126
Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Also consider including a donation check with your letter, to support the invaluable work the Cornucopia Institute performs to protect your and your family’s right to clean, wholesome, truly organic food.
As of right now, there does not appear to be any additional benefit to contacting your congressman, but if the need arises, Cornucopia will notify all their members and subscribers with the information.
I can’t encourage you enough to participate in this process. It’s important to recognize that you CAN make a difference! Always remember that collectively, we have the most effective power in the marketplace that can exceed the power of these multibillion dollar, multinational corporations. We can vote with our pocket books. But we also need to make our voices heard; we have to let these agencies know that we are watching, we’re paying attention, and we’re not going to allow this immoral, if not downright illegal, industrial favoritism to continue.