Monthly Archives: June 2012

Is the Meat You Are Eating Being Fed Animal Feces?

By Dr. Mercola

Mad Cow Disease (the common term for Bovine Spongiform Encepholopathy (BSE) made headlines once again in April 2012, when a dairy cow at a rendering facility in California was found to have the disease.

BSE, a progressive neurological disorder of cattle that can be transmitted to other species, including humans (in people it’s called Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease) is a devastating condition that typically leads to progressive dementia and death, often within a year of the onset of symptoms.

One of the primary ways Mad Cow Disease is transmitted is when cows are fed bone meal and waste products from other cattle infected with the disease.

As a result, it’s now illegal to feed beef-based products to cows … but the beef industry has found ways to circumvent this rule by using a feed product known as “chicken litter.”

Cows Fed “Chicken Litter” May be Indirectly Eating Parts From Cows

Chicken litter, a rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, feathers and spilled feed, is marketed as a cheap feed product for cows. The beef industry likes it because it’s cheaper than even corn and soy, so an estimated 2 BILLION pounds are purchased each year; yes, this is a very serious amount of this product being fed to animals.

As if the idea of your burger being the product of manure and feathers isn’t unsettling enough, about one-third of the chicken litter concoction is spilled feed, which includes cow meat and bone meal often used to feed chickens but which is supposed to be off limits for cows.

However, any cow that eats chicken litter may also be consuming various beef products intended for chickens – the very same feed products that spurred the Mad Cow Disease outbreak in the first place! And it’s not only the spilled feed that’s the problem; the infectious agent can also be passed through the chicken manure as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:i

“The primary animal-health protective measure [against Mad Cow Disease] is a feed ban. In 1997, the FDA implemented regulations that prohibit the feeding of most mammalian proteins to ruminants, including cattle. This feed ban is the most important measure to prevent the transmission of the disease to cattle. The feed ban was strengthened in 2008, by additional prohibitions on those tissues that have the highest risk of transmitting BSE. These additions to the feed ban prohibit the use of brain and spinal cord from cattle 30 months of age and older for use in any animal feed.”

It sounds like once again profits have won out over public safety, and while cases worldwide have declined dramatically (from a peak of 37,311 cases in 1992 to 29 cases in 2011), allowing cow parts back into cattle feed, albeit indirectly, could easily reverse this progress.

That is, if progress has really been made. In Europe, all older cattle are tested for Mad Cow Disease, and in Japan every cow slaughtered for human consumption is tested, a move that experts say would add just pennies to a pound of beef if implemented in the United States.ii

But U.S. regulators are still only testing 40,000 of the 35 million cattle slaughtered annually … it was only by happenstance that the 2012 case was detected as part of the USDA’s surveillance program for cattle. Only just over 0.1 percent of U.S. cattle are tested prior to entering the food supply, so there’s really no way of knowing how many cattle with Mad Cow Disease might end up on dinner plates.

USDA is Failing in Protecting Animal Feed, Americans from Mad Cow Disease

The USDA is simply not doing enough to prevent the spread of, and to detect, BSE cases. This includes not only the chicken litter feed that’s commonly fed to cows, but also, according to the physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:iii

  • “U.S. feed producers are blatantly violating restrictions on feed production. Despite a 1997 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on the feeding of most mammalian remains to ruminants, which unfortunately includes significant exceptions impairing the protective intent of the law, a January 2001 FDA report showed that, of 180 renderers, 16 percent lacked warning labels on feeds designed to differentiate those intended for ruminants from those for nonruminants, and 28 percent had no system to prevent the actual mixing of these feeds.
  • The Government Accountability Office issued a follow up report in 2005, noting many program weaknesses in compliance inspections, including FDA’s guidance for inspectors to visually examine facilities and equipment and review invoices and other documents instead of routinely sampling cattle feed to test for potentially prohibited material.
  • Although the World Health Organization called for the riskiest parts of bovine tissues (i.e., brain, eyes, spinal cord, intestines) not to be used in the human food supply or in animal feed to protect from BSE, the United States still allows the feeding of these potentially risky tissues to people, pigs, pets, poultry, and fish.
  • There are few restrictions on the use of animal byproducts, including blood and blood products, gelatin, milk, and milk products, in feeds through which prions may be transmitted.
  • There are no limits on the use of nonruminant, such as pig or horse, remains in feeds, due to an exemption in the 1997 ban. Because prions are so difficult to destroy, if the remains of a BSE-infected cow are fed to a pig or horse and then the pig or horse remains are fed to cows, the cows may subsequently be infected. Similarly, ruminant remains can be fed to poultry and, in turn, poultry feces are routinely used in cattle feed.
  • There are no limits on the “recycling” of beef or other meat products in the form of garbage from restaurants or other institutions for use in animal feeds.”

What Else is Lurking in Your CAFO Beef?

There’s a reason why CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are traditionally hidden from public view, and why certain states (like Iowa, where big agriculture rules the roost economically and politically) are considering making undercover videos taken on such farms – which often show shocking scenes of animal cruelty and filth – illegal.

They don’t want you to see what’s really going on! If you did, there’s no way most people would be able to stomach eating the meat they’re producing. Here’s just a short list of some of the unpleasantries that can be found in your factory-farmed burger or steak:

  • Drugs and heavy metals: Residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides and heavy metals enter the food system when producers bring animals to slaughter that still have these toxins in their system. This occurs more often than you might think.
  • Antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant disease: About 80 percent of all the antibiotics produced are used in agriculture — not only to fight infection, but to promote unhealthy (though profitable) weight gain. Feeding livestock continuous, low-dose antibiotics creates a perfect storm for widespread disease proliferation – and, worse yet, antibiotic-resistant disease.
  • Extreme growth promoters: Ractopamine, aka Paylean and Optaflexx, is banned in 160 countries, including Europe, Taiwan and China. If imported meat is found to contain traces of the drug, it is turned away, while fines and imprisonment result for its use in banned countries. Yet, in the United States 45 percent of pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter because it increases protein synthesis. In other words, it makes animals more muscular … and this increases food growers’ bottom line.
  • Cloned animals: In 2007, the FDA released a formal recommendation to allow milk and meat from cloned animals on grocery store shelves, without labels indicating them as such. Their most recent recommendation also gives the green light to cloned animals being used for food.iv If you eat beef from conventional sources, there’s a possibility you’ve already eaten this type of food, as some ranchers admit cloned cattle have made it into the food chain and, quite possibly, your dinner table.

Even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack couldn’t say for sure whether cloned meat was already on the market when asked whether Americans are eating unlabeled clones right now.v

It’s Important to Think About Where You Get Your Meat

I realize that not everyone has the access or the resources to purchase organic, sustainably and humanely farmed pasture-raised meat. But the more of us who demand that our food standards be raised to a higher level, the faster CAFOs will be run out of business, which means safer, higher quality meat for all.

I just got back from a road trip to Joel Salatin’s farm in Virginia. He is one of the leaders in this movement and we shot about four hours of video with him, which I hope to share soon. It will open your eyes to the possibility and provide a very strong incentive for you to search out local producers of high-quality food.

Your typical supermarket, even Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, are typically not going to be good resources for this. Independently owned smaller food markets may offer some better alternatives, as do many health food stores, but ideally I encourage you to support the small family farms in your area, particularly organic farms that respect the laws of nature and use the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat to create synergistic, self-supporting, non-polluting, GMO-free ecosystems.

You can do this not only by visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also by taking part in farmer’s markets and community-supported agriculture programs and food coops. Often you can save money this way, too, by cutting out the middleman and getting your food right from the source. Foods from small, organic farms are available in more areas than you might think. Some great resources to obtain wholesome food that supports not only you but also animal welfare and the environment:

  • Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • Farmers’ Markets — A national listing of farmers’ markets.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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’60 Minutes’ Reports on the Dangers of Sugar

By Dr. Mercola

If you haven’t viewed the video at the top, please schedule 20 minutes and do so as you will thoroughly enjoy this 60 Minutes vindication of sugar’s dangers.

In a ground-breaking news story, 60 Minutes reports that new research coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions is finding that sugar is a toxin that can lead to major chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

This is jolting to people who don’t realize that even if they don’t add it to their foods, hidden sugar, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is in virtually all processed foods, from yogurts and sauces to breads and sodas.

Although some experts argue that “sugar is sugar,” test subjects in strict clinical trials who were monitored 24 hours a day, who consumed HFCS, developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease within two weeks.

Other studies indicate that if you limit your sugar, no matter what form you get it in, you decrease your chances of developing cancer—including breast and colon cancers.

What’s even more startling is that a growing number of studies are also showing that the more sugar you eat, the less satisfied you are.

It Pays to Listen to Alternative Health Experts…

This is another perfect example of how it can take the conventional medical establishment YEARS to catch up to the truth.

I’ve been writing about the dangers of high sugar consumption for over 15 years, ever since I started this web site back in 1997, as this is (or at least should be) part of the very basics of “proper nutrition.”

So if you’re a longtime subscriber to this newsletter (or other alternative health news), you’ve had a tremendous head start.

As time went on, it first became increasingly clear that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was more problematic than regular sugar (sucrose), and later, that whichever form of sugar you consume, it can act as a literal toxin in your body when consumed in excess.

Back in the year 2000, I published the work of Bill Misner, Ph.D. in an article that was aptly named Killer Sugar—Suicide With a Spoon. Then, about two years ago, I came across one of Dr. Robert Lustig‘s lectures, and I immediately knew he was right—sugar is a toxin; at least in the high amounts most American’s are getting it in.

As Dr. Lustig states in his article on the website Diet Doctori :

“The problem with sugar isn’t just weight gain … A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.”

That same year, the brilliant work of Dr. Richard Johnson also convinced me that fructose is the worst of the two (although it’s really like choosing between two evils.) Now, finally, 60 Minutes, which is one of my favorite TV shows, has revealed the truth to the masses, and yes, some people are absolutely shocked by it. Interestingly, as I have gotten to know Dr. Johnson, I learned that I actually inspired him to pursue this topic further. Very shortly, we plan to be publishing his new book, The Fat Switch, which promises to turn the health world on its head with his exciting discoveries.

How High Fructose Corn Syrup has Decimated Human Health

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) entered the American market in 1975. Food and beverage manufacturers quickly began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup when they discovered that it could save them a lot of money. Sucrose costs about three times as much as HFCS. HFCS is also about 20 percent sweeter than table sugar, so you need less to achieve the same amount of sweetness.

Around that same time, dietary fats were blamed for heart disease, giving rise to the “low-fat craze,” which resulted in an explosion of processed nonfat and low fat convenience foods—most of which tasted like sawdust unless sugar was added. Fructose was then added to make all these fat-free products more palatable. Yet as the low-fat craze spread, rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity skyrocketed…

Clearly, this plan was seriously flawed from the get-go, and it’s not difficult to see that trading fat for sugar is not a wise move.

We now know, without a doubt, that it’s the excessive fructose content in the modern diet that is taking such a devastating toll on people’s health.

At the heart of it all is the fact that excessive fructose consumption leads to insulin resistance, and insulin resistance appears to be the root of many if not most chronic disease. Insulin resistance has even been found to be an underlying factor of cancer. Fructose also raises your uric acid levels—it typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion, which in turn can wreak havoc on your blood pressure, insulin production, and kidney function. So far, scientific studies have linked fructose to about 78 different diseases and health problemsii . For example, fructose may:

Raise your blood pressureiii , and cause nocturnal hypertensioniv Insulin resistance / Type 2 diabetesv Non-alcoholic fatty liver diseasevi (NAFLD)
Raise your uric acid levelsvii, which can result in gout and/or metabolic syndromeviii Accelerate the progression of chronic kidney diseaseix Intracranial atherosclerosisx(narrowing and hardening of the arteries in your skull)
Exacerbate cardiac abnormalities if you’re deficient in copper Have a genotoxic effect on the colon Promote metastasis in breast cancer patientsxi
Cause tubulointerstitial injuryxii (injury to the tubules and interstitial tissue of your kidney) Promote obesityxiii and related health problems and diseases Promote pancreatic cancer growthxiv

 

Here’s an excellent illustration showing how carbohydrates and sugars affect your health.

Source: Nutrients. 2011 March; 3(3): 341–369.

Contamination and Genetic Engineering Adds to the Health Hazards of HFCS

And, as if the negative metabolic effects are not enough, there are other issues with HFCS that can have a negative impact on your health:

  • More than one study has detected unsafe mercury levels in HFCSxv .
  • Crystalline fructose (a super-potent form of fructose the food and beverage industry is now using) may contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.
  • Nearly all corn syrup is made from genetically engineered corn, which comes with its own set of risks. For example, Bt toxin found in genetically engineered Bt corn has now been detected in the bloodstream of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, and in 80 percent of the umbilical cord of tested babies. There’s already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in genetically engineered corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. The fact that it flows through our blood, and that is passes through the umbilical cord into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the US since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.

Using Uric Acid Levels as a Marker for Fructose Toxicity

The link between fructose and uric acid is so strong that you can actually use your uric acid levels as a marker for fructose toxicity. According to the latest research in this area, the safest range of uric acid appears to be between 3 and 5.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), and there appears to be a steady relationship between uric acid levels and blood pressure and cardiovascular risk, even down to the range of 3 to 4 mg/dl.

Dr. Richard Johnson suggests that the ideal uric acid level is probably around 4 mg/dl for men and 3.5 mg/dl for women. I would strongly encourage everyone to have their uric acid level checked to find out how sensitive you are to fructose.

As you know, two-thirds of the US population is overweight, and most of these people likely have uric acid levels well above 5.5. Some may even be closer to 10 or above. Measuring your uric acid levels is a very practical way to determine just how strict you need to be when it comes to your fructose consumption. As an example, if you’re passionate about fruit and typically eat large amounts of it, but find out you have a uric acid level above 5 (or better yet, 4 if you’re a man, and 3.5 if you’re a woman), then you may want to consider lowering your fruit consumption until you’ve optimized your uric acid levels, to avoid harming your body.

How Much Fructose are You Consuming?

It’s no secret that we are eating more sugar than at any other time in history. In 1700, the average person ate four pounds of sugar a year. Today, about 25 percent of all Americans consume over 134 grams of fructose a day, according to Dr. Johnson’s research. That kind of consumption equates to more than 100 pounds of sugar per year! And it just so happens this statistic dovetails nicely with the statistics showing that one in four Americans is either pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes.

As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.

For most people it would actually be wise to limit your fruit fructose to 15 grams or less, as you’re virtually guaranteed to get “hidden” fructose from just about any processed food you might eat, including condiments you might never have suspected would contain sugar.

Keep in mind that fruits also contain fructose, although an ameliorating factor is that whole fruits also contain vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of fructose. Again, one way to determine just how strict you need to be is to check your uric acid levels. If you feel strongly that fruits are exceptionally beneficial to you and don’t believe my recommendation then at least promise me you will do a test. Consume whatever level of fructose and fruits you believe is healthy for a few days and then measure your uric acid level. If is outside the healthy ranges listed above, then I strongly suggest you listen to your body’s biochemical feedback and reduce your fructose consumption until your uric acid levels normalize.

Juices are nearly as detrimental as soda, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost. While processed foods will tell you how much sugar/HFCS it contains on the label (just remember to calculate how many servings of it you’re eating), whole fruits can be trickier. Here’s a helpful chart, courtesy of Dr. Johnson, to help you keep track of your total fructose consumption from fruit.

Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Limes 1 medium 0
Lemons 1 medium 0.6
Cranberries 1 cup 0.7
Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9
Prune 1 medium 1.2
Apricot 1 medium 1.3
Guava 2 medium 2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6
Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8
Raspberries 1 cup 3.0
Clementine 1 medium 3.4
Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4
Blackberries 1 cup 3.5
Star fruit 1 medium 3.6
Cherries, sweet 10 3.8
Strawberries 1 cup 3.8
Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0
Pineapple 1 slice (3.5″ x .75″) 4.0
Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3
Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Boysenberries 1 cup 4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange 1 medium 4.8
Nectarine 1 medium 5.4
Peach 1 medium 5.9
Orange (navel) 1 medium 6.1
Papaya 1/2 medium 6.3
Honeydew 1/8 of med. melon 6.7
Banana 1 medium 7.1
Blueberries 1 cup 7.4
Date (Medjool) 1 medium 7.7
Apple (composite) 1 medium 9.5
Persimmon 1 medium 10.6
Watermelon 1/16 med. melon 11.3
Pear 1 medium 11.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 12.3
Grapes, seedless (green or red) 1 cup 12.4
Mango 1/2 medium 16.2
Apricots, dried 1 cup 16.4
Figs, dried 1 cup 23.0

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Coconut Oil And Breast Milk Contains Lauric Acid Antibacterial Antiviral Anti-Aging

Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) has a long shelf life, because it has antioxidants and is resistant to oxidation when using as a cooking oil. Expeller pressed and organic virgin is best, it is minimally processed. A little goes a long way when applying onto your skin, just a pinch is all you need for your face and neck. It’s safe to use on just about anyone, unless you have an allergy to nuts, so make sure to test it out first. For more info, please refer to links below, thanks for watching and Cheers to good health! Coco means "monkey face" Nucifera means: Nut Bearing Helpful Links Coconut Research Center www.coconutresearchcenter.org Dr. Mercola articles.mercola.com Natural News www.naturalnews.com Book by Bruce Fife: "The Coconut Oil Miracle" You may purchase coconut oil online at Vitacost, Amazon, Mountain Roseherbs and stores such as: Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fred Meyer, Kroger stores, Vitamin stores…Although I found that buying online is less expensive and at times Vitacost and Amazon offers free shipping. Feel free to use my referral link below, new customers get a $10 Off coupon. Thanks! www.vitacost.com

Source: YouTube

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Red Meat Can be Part of a Healthful Diet

By Dr. Mercola

At some point, “red meat” became taboo in the nutritional world. If you put good old-fashioned grass-fed, organically-raised meat in a nutrition analyzer, you’d find it’s one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

Still, many people want to believe that all red meat is unhealthy. A new study out of Harvard once again attempts to demonize red meati.

And despite being profoundly flawed, the study was written up by a number of media outlets, such as The New York Times and CNN Health; their headlines warning that red meat will send you into an early grave.

Among many other problems, the nutrition data for the study was collected via food questionnaires, meaning people had to recall what they’d eaten in the past.  Needless to say, this doesn’t make for great accuracy. The New York Times reported on the study, statingii:

“People who ate more red meat were less physically active and more likely to smoke and had a higher body mass index, researchers found.

Still, after controlling for those and other variables, they found that each daily increase of three ounces of red meat was associated with a 12 percent greater risk of dying over all, including a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 10 percent greater risk of cancer death.

The increased risks linked to processed meat, like bacon, were even greater: 20 percent over all, 21 percent for cardiovascular disease and 16 percent for cancer. If people in the study had eaten half as much meat, the researchers estimated, deaths in the group would have declined 9.3 percent in men and 7.6 percent in women.”

Where’s the Science?

Fortunately, many astute health experts have already issued rebuttals to the mass media versions of this shoddy study that has received far more media attention than it could ever possibly deserve. Chris Kressler, L.Ac. sums up the general agreement when he writesiii:

“In my fantasy world, researchers don’t make the most rookie mistake in the book (claiming that correlation is causation) and science reporters actually have a clue how to critically analyze a scientific study, rather than just parroting what they read on the AP newswire. Alas, reality is not so forthcoming.”

In my view, one of the best rebuttals I’ve seen is by investigative health reporter Gary Taubes. Zoe Harcombe also produced a more in-depth evaluation of the many problems in this studyiv. In his blog post titled, Science, Pseudoscience, Nutritional Epidemiology, and Meat, Gary Taubes writesv:

“Back in 2007 when I first published Good Calories, Bad Calories I also wrote a cover story in the New York Times Magazine on the problems with observational epidemiology. The article was called “Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy?vi” and I made the argument that even the better epidemiologists in the world consider this stuff closer to a pseudoscience than a real science.

… The article itself pointed out that every time in the past that these researchers had claimed that an association observed in their observational trials was a causal relationship, and that causal relationship had then been tested in experiment, the experiment had failed to confirm the causal interpretation — i.e., the folks from Harvard got it wrong. Not most times, but every time. No exception. Their batting average circa 2007, at least, was .000. Now it’s these very same Harvard researchers — Walter Willett and his colleagues — who have authored this new article claiming that red meat and processed meat consumption is deadly; that eating it regularly raises our risk of dying prematurely and contracting a host of chronic diseases.

… Science is ultimately about establishing cause and effect. It’s not about guessing. You come up with a hypothesis — force x causes observation y — and then you do your best to prove that it’s wrong. If you can’t, you tentatively accept the possibility that your hypothesis was right. Peter Medawar, the Nobel Laureate immunologist, described this proving-it’s-wrong step as “the critical or rectifying episode in scientific reasoning.”… The problem with observational studies like those run by Willett and his colleagues is that they do none of this. That’s why it’s so frustrating. The hard part of science is left out and they skip straight to the endpoint, insisting that their interpretation of the association is the correct one and we should all change our diets accordingly.” [Emphasis mine]

Confounding Factors

One of the major problems with using this study to make dietary recommendations or modifications is the fact that the association between disease and eating meat was actually quite small. According to Harcombe, a nutritionist, obesity researcher, and author of The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?vii:

“The overall risk of dying was not even one person in a hundred over a 28 year study. If the death rate is very small, a possible slightly higher death rate in certain circumstances is still very small. It does not warrant a scare-tactic, 13% greater risk of dying headline – this is ‘science’ at its worst.”

Again, it’s imperative to keep in mind that the observation of an association does not mean that one thing actually causes the other. It may, but in order to determine the truth you have to conduct studies to test your hypothesis. Here, we have multiple confounding variables at play; all of which could very well have skewed the results. For example, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol consumption, and higher calorie intake can clearly contribute to an early demise, and as meat consumption went up, so did these confounding factors…

Taubes brings up another excellent point in his article, namely the “compliance” or “adherer effect.” This is a confounding factor that is virtually impossible to account for, but it appears to be quite powerful.

In a nutshell, it describes the effect that occurs in groups of people who are simply consistently compliant with a certain recommendation. Interestingly enough, whether it’s taking a real medication or taking a placebo, in both cases, those who dutifully take it as prescribed fare better than those who do not. Taubes states that somehow, these people are simply “different,” but in what way, exactly, is still unknown. What is apparent, however, is that when you compare “adherers” with “non-adherers” you are comparing two types of people that are essentially incomparable because their mindset and overall dedication to their health is very different.

Most likely, this overall healthier, more dedicated mindset means they’re engaging in all sorts of other proactive, preventive behaviors as well that are not include or measured in the study.

According to Taubes:

“No amount of “correcting” for BMI and blood pressure, smoking status, etc. can correct for this compliance effect, which is the product of all these health conscious behaviors that can’t be measured, or just haven’t been measured. And we know this because they’re even present in randomized controlled trials. When the Harvard people insist they can “correct” for this, or that it’s not a factor, they’re fooling themselves. And we know they’re fooling themselves because the experimental trials keep confirming that.”

What experimental trials is Taubes referring to? While Willett et.al. may not have done the randomized-controlled trials necessary to investigate the association they claim to have found between premature death and higher meat consumption, such studies have been done by others.

“They’re the trials that compare Atkins-like diets to other more conventional weight loss diets,” Taubes writes. “These conventional weight loss diets tend to restrict meat consumption to different extents because they restrict fat and/or saturated fat consumption and meat has a lot of fat and saturated fat in it. Ornish’s diet is the extreme example.

And when these experiments have been done, the meat-rich, bacon-rich Atkins diet almost invariably comes out ahead, not just in weight loss but also in heart disease and diabetes risk factors… The Stanford A TO Z Study is a good example of these experimentsviii. Over the course of the experiment — two years in this case — the subjects randomized to the Atkins-like meat- and bacon-heavy diet were healthier. That’s what we want to know.”

Recent Study Finds Red Meat Associated with Improved Mental Health

Interestingly enough, another recently published Australian studyix concluded that women who avoid red meat appear to be at increased risk of clinical depression. Women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming less than the recommended amount. Eating very high amounts of red meat was also associated with increased rates of depression.

The researchers suggest a moderate amount of lean red meat—about three to four 6-8 ounce servings per week—may actually be important for mental health. However, they also recommend being careful with the type of meat you choose. As reported by PsychCentral.comx:

[Felice] Jacka [Ph.D., associate professor from Deakin's Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit] also suggests sticking with grass-fed meats whenever possible. “We know that red meat in Australia is a healthy product as it contains high levels of nutrients, including the omega-3 fatty acids that are important to mental and physical health. This is because cattle and sheep in Australia are largely grass-fed. In many other countries, the cattle are kept in feedlots and fed grains, rather than grass. This results in a much less healthy meat with more saturated fat and fewer healthy fats.”

Healthy versus Unhealthy Meats

Many people are still in the dark about the vast differences between concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and organically-raised, grass-fed beef, both in terms of nutrient content and contamination with veterinary drugs, genetically modified organisms, and disease-causing pathogens. Most CAFO cows are fed grains (oftentimes genetically engineered grains, which make matters even worse), when their natural diet is plain grass. This difference in the animals’ diet creates vastly different end products.

Modern mass production of food has created a wide array of safety problems. In fact, once you delve into the world of the food industry, it becomes clear that eating much of it is like playing a game of Russian roulette with your health.

While I’m not going to address them all here, one problem in particular, which relates to the issue of meat, is the issue of contamination with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. As much as 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are for animals, primarily to serve as growth enhancers. The excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture is the primary reason for the rampant increase in antibiotic-resistant disease in humans. As for pesticides, most people do not realize that conventionally-raised meat is actually one of the primary sources of pesticide exposure—not fruits and vegetables! This due to the fact that CAFO animals are raised on a diet consisting primarily of grains, which are of course sprayed with pesticides.

Decayed Meat Treated with Carbon Monoxide to Make it Look Fresh…

Additionally, many of the methods employed to make food “safer” actually deepen rather than solve them. Take so-called atmospheric packaging, for example. You might not be aware that more than 70 percent of all beef and chicken in the United States, Canada and other countries is treated with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, which can make seriously decayed meat look fresh for weeks!

Although carbon monoxide is a gas that can be fatal when inhaled, the meat industry insists that it is not harmful to human health when ingested via atmospheric packaging, which utilizes carbon monoxide gas to extend the shelf life and resist spoilage. Whatever the truth of that may be, eating spoiled meat is not going to do your health any favors…

According to Currentxi :

C. perfringens bacteria, the third-most-common cause of food-borne illness, has been proven to grow on what is considered fresh meat … about half of the fresh meat products [tested for these bacteria] are positive despite them being within the expiry period. One hundred percent of … these cases come from packagers who adopted atmospheric packaging methods such as the use of carbon monoxide gas”.

Why I Only Recommend Eating Organic Grass-Fed Animals

The natural diet for ruminant animals, such as cattle, is grass. When left to feed on grass-only diets, levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA are three to five times more than those fed grain-based diets. And that’s just for starters. A joint effort between the USDA and Clemson University researchers in 2009 determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed for human healthxii. In a side-by-side comparison, they determined that grass-fed beef was:

Lower in total fat Higher in total omega-3s
Higher in beta-carotene A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

Always Avoid Processed Meats

As for processed meat, I am firmly convinced they do increase risk of disease and should NEVER be consumed. That’s also the conclusion reached by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) after reviewing more than 7,000 clinical studies examining the connection between diet and cancer.

Processed meats are those preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or the addition of chemical preservatives. This includes bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, some sausages and hamburgers (if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives) and more. Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring and flavoring. The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. The latest research from WCRF is only the most recent of a slew of evidence linking processed meats to cancer.

A 2007 analysis by WCRF found that eating just one sausage a day can significantly raise your risk of bowel cancer. Specifically, 1.8 ounces of processed meat daily — about one sausage or three pieces of bacon — raises the likelihood of the cancer by 20 percent. Other studies have also found that processed meats increase your risk of:

Hot dogs, bacon, salami and other processed meats may also increase your risk of diabetes by 50 percent, and lower your lung function and increase your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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What Drove Us to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day?

By Dr. Mercola

You’ve seen it on the old Food Pyramid. You might have heard it from your doctor.

And you’ve certainly heard it countless times in conjunction with just about any diet ever created: if you want to be healthy you need to drink 8 glasses of water daily.

But what would you say if you knew the 8 glasses-a-day recommendation was a myth that actually evolved from a long-forgotten obituary of a doctor who advocated drinking lots of water?

And, what would you say if you I told you that the scientific evidence for needing 8 glasses of water a day just isn’t there?

8 Glasses a Day Not Backed by Science

Water is, of course, essential for your survival. Every day, your body loses water through urine and sweat. This fluid needs to be replenished, for while you can survive for months without food, without water you wouldn’t last more than a few days. If you get the fluid/water replacement issue right, then you have made one of the most important and powerful steps you can in taking control of your health.

But just how much water do you need to drink to replenish what you’ve lost? Writing in the American Journal of Physiology, Heinz Valtin of Dartmouth Medical School notes:i

“Despite the seemingly ubiquitous admonition to “drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day” (with an accompanying reminder that beverages containing caffeine and alcohol do not count), rigorous proof for this counsel appears to be lacking.

This review sought to find the origin of this advice (called “8 X 8” for short) and to examine the scientific evidence, if any, that might support it. The search included not only electronic modes but also a cursory examination of the older literature that is not covered in electronic databases and, most importantly and fruitfully, extensive consultation with several nutritionists who specialize in the field of thirst and drinking fluids. No scientific studies were found in support of 8 X 8.

Rather, surveys of food and fluid intake on thousands of adults of both genders, analyses of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals, strongly suggest that such large amounts are not needed because the surveyed persons were presumably healthy and certainly not overtly ill.”

As for the origins of this now widely accepted dietary dogma, the closest reference Valtin uncovered was a brief mention in the obituary of a well-known nutritionist by the name of Fredrick J. Stare, which said he was an “early champion of drinking at least six glasses of water a day.”

Interestingly, Dr. Stare, who was a professor of nutrition and the head of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, was a notable friend to industry, notorious for his outspoken support for food additives and water fluoridation. He also had ties to the tobacco industry and was a strong supporter of the sugar industry; he even reportedly earned the moniker “The Sugar King” at Harvard.ii

At one point, sometime during the late ‘50s, early ‘60s, Dr. Stare went so far as to publish an article stating that claims made by the Boston Nutrition Society that white bread was devoid of nutrients and a contributor to disease were “a cruel and reckless fraud.”iii In other words, Dr. Stare believed white bread to be perfectly healthy, and openly criticized those who questioned food additives or excessive sugars in the diet, which isn’t surprising considering his financial ties to Nabisco, Kellogg and the Cereal Institute.

The point is … Dr. Stare is also being credited with perhaps being among the first to promote drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day as healthy, which, given the source, deserves to be questioned.

Also mentioned by Valtin was a 1945 recommendation by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council, which recommended 2.5 liters of water as a “suitable allowance” of water for most adults. They, however, pointed out that “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” but it could be that people interpreted this to mean that 2.5 liters of water is the right amount to drink each day. The advice was repeated again in 1948, without a scientific backing.

Of course, consuming large quantities of water has been used as a medical therapy since the 19th century, when “hydropathists” advised patients to drink copious amounts of water to cure their ills. People have long been exploring the body’s need for water, as well as what the optimal “dose” appears to be … but to date there’s not much compelling evidence that the “8 8-ounce glasses a day” is the be all and end all in water consumption.

Are Bottled Water Companies Behind the Push to Drink More Water?

Last year, Dr. Margaret McCartney, a general practitioner from Scotland, wrote a commentary for the British Medical Journal arguing that the advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day is “thoroughly debunked nonsense” being spread by bottled water companies in order to churn up more profit.iv She pointed out that Hydration for Health, an initiative to promote drinking more water, is sponsored and created by French food giant Danone, which produces Volvic, Evian, and Badoit bottled waters. Interestingly, even claims that the elderly and children especially need to drink more water may also be unfounded.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionv concluded that:

“… Healthy older adults maintain water input, output and balance comparable to those of younger adults and have no apparent change in hydration status.”

McCartney also pointed out research done by Professor Stanley Goldfarb, physician and nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues, which also found:vi

“There is no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water. Although we wish we could demolish all of the urban myths found on the internet regarding the benefits of supplemental water ingestion, we concede there is also no clear evidence of lack of benefit. In fact, there is simply a lack of evidence in general.”

Interestingly, Goldfarb was contacted by Danone after the paper was published, McCartney notes:

“After he wrote his article, he was contacted by Danone, and taken out to dinner by two of its representatives. They didn’t try to dissuade him from his views, but they did show him a graph intimating that sales fell after the editorial was published.”

Drinking Too Much Water Can be Dangerous

There’s a misconception with water consumption that the more you drink, the healthier you’ll be. This is true to a point, particularly if you drink water in lieu of sugar-laden beverages like soda and fruit juice, but if you drink too much water, the sodium levels in your blood may drop to dangerously low levels, causing hyponatremia — a condition in which your cells swell with too much water. While most of your body’s cells can handle this swelling, your brain cells cannot, and most of the symptoms are caused by brain swelling. This condition is most common among athletes, although anyone can be affected by drinking excessive amounts of water.

Symptoms of hyponatremia include:

Confusion Decreased consciousness; possible coma Hallucinations Convulsions
Fatigue Headache Irritability Loss of appetite
Muscle spasms, cramps, or weakness Nausea Restlessness Vomiting

Most People DO Need to Drink More Water

Clearly, staying well hydrated is essential. But whether or not you actually need eight glasses of water or more each and every day is questionable, because hydration needs are so individual, and vary from day to day. You may very well need eight glasses of water a day.

Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water a day may not be likely to cause you harm; it’s just that the evidence is lacking on whether that is the magic number for everyone, and most likely it appears that it is not.

The reality is that many people are dehydrated and would benefit from drinking more water each day, and from making water their primary source of fluids.

It does now appear that the notion that caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea cannot be counted as part of your fluid intake, as they act as a diuretic that will dehydrate you even further, may be another mythvii — so if you drink these beverages you can “count” them as part of your fluid consumption. However, the bottom line is that you may not need to “count” your fluid intake at all. Instead, just let your body be your guide.

Your Body Will Let You Know When it’s Time for a Drink

Your body will tell you when it’s time to replenish your water supply, because once your body has lost between one to two percent of its total water, your thirst mechanism lets you know that it’s time to drink some water!

Since your body is capable of telling you its needs, using thirst as a guide to how much water you need to drink is one way to help ensure your individual needs are met, day-by-day. Of course, if it’s hot, exceptionally dry outside, or if you are engaged in exercise or other vigorous activity, you will require more water than normal. But again, if you drink as soon as you feel thirsty, you should be able to remain well hydrated even in these cases.

The color of your urine will also help you determine whether or not you might need to drink more. As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin B2, also found in most multi-vitamins), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow, then your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in many hours, that too is an indication that you’re not drinking enough. (Based on the results from a few different studies, a healthy person urinates on average about seven or eight times a day.)

Pure clean water is the ideal beverage of choice for hydration, but remember you can get valuable fluids from fresh fruits, vegetables and certain foods, like homemade broth, too.

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How Your Gut Flora Influences Your Health

By Dr. Mercola

A new study in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice shows that microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract form an intricate, living fabric of natural controls affecting body weight, energy, and nutritioni. The findings may offer new ideas on how to treat nutrition-related maladies, including obesity and a range of serious health consequences linked to under-nutrition, the scientists said.

An article in Science Daily reported on the featured findings, statingii:

“The microbes in the human gut belong to three broad domains, defined by their molecular phylogeny: Eukarya, Bacteria, and Achaea. Of these, bacteria reign supreme, with two dominant divisions — known as Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes — making up over 90 percent of the gut’s microbial population… Within the bacterial categories… enormous diversity exists.

Each individual’s community of gut microbes is unique and profoundly sensitive to environmental conditions, beginning at birth. Indeed, the mode of delivery during the birthing process has been shown to affect an infant’s microbial profile. Communities of vaginal microbes change during pregnancy in preparation for birth, delivering beneficial microbes to the newborn.

At the time of delivery, the vagina is dominated by a pair of bacterial species, Lactobacillus and Prevotella. In contrast, infants delivered by caesarean section typically show microbial communities associated with the skin, including Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium.

While the full implications of these distinctions are still murky, evidence suggests they may affect an infant’s subsequent development and health, particularly in terms of susceptibility to pathogens.” [Emphasis mine]

How Your Baby’s Gut Flora Impacts His/Her Future Health

The health implications of this variation in gut bacteria acquired from birth is exactly what Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride‘s research sheds light upon. Her research shows there’s a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, your brain, and your immune system, starting from birth. She has developed what might be one of the most profoundly important treatment strategies for a wide range of neurological, psychological, and autoimmune disorders—all of which are heavily influenced by your gut health.

I believe her Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and Gut and Physiology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional program is vitally important for MOST people, as the majority of people have such poor gut health due to poor diet and toxic exposures, but it’s particularly crucial for pregnant women and young children.

Children who are born with severely damaged gut flora are not only more susceptible to disease; they’re also more susceptible to vaccine damage, which may help explain why some children develop symptoms of autism after receiving one or more childhood vaccinations.

According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, most autistic children are born with perfectly normal brains and sensory organs. The trouble arises when they fail to develop normal gut flora. In a previous interview, she explained the chain of events that is typical for many, if not most, autistic children:

“What happens in these children [is that] they do not develop normal gut flora from birth… As a result, their digestive system—instead of being a source of nourishment for these children—becomes a major source of toxicity. These pathogenic microbes inside their digestive tract damage the integrity of the gut wall. So all sort of toxins and microbes flood into the bloodstream of the child, and get into the brain of the child.

That usually happens in the second year of life in children who were breast fed because breastfeeding provides a protection against this abnormal gut flora. In children who were not breastfed, I see the symptoms of autism developing in the first year of life. So breastfeeding is crucial to protect these children.

… If the child’s brain is clogged with toxicity, the child misses that window of opportunity of learning and starts developing autism depending on the mixture of toxins, depending on how severe the whole condition is, and how severely abnormal the gut flora is in the child.”

It’s important to understand that the gut flora your child acquires during vaginal birth is dependent on the mother’s gut flora. So if mother’s microflora is abnormal, the child’s will be as well. Autism isn’t the only potential outcome in this case. GAPS may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of either autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities. Digestive issues, asthma, allergies, skin problems and autoimmune disorders are also common outgrowths of GAPS, as it can present itself either psychologically or physiologically.

The Importance of Fermented Foods and Probiotics

Maintaining optimal gut flora, and ‘reseeding’ your gut with fermented foods and probiotics when you’re taking an antibiotic, may be one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health. If you aren’t eating fermented foods, you most likely need to supplement with a probiotic on a regular basis, especially if you’re eating a lot of processed foods. As explained by Dr. Campbell-McBride, poor diet in general, and each course of antibiotics extols a heavy price:

“Every course of antibiotics tends to wipe out the beneficial bacteria and that gives a window of opportunity for the pathogens to proliferate, to grow uncontrolled, and to occupy new niches in your gut. The beneficial flora recovers, but different species of it take between two weeks to two months to recover in the gut and that’s a window of opportunity for various pathogens to overgrow.

What I see in the families of autistic children is that 100 percent of mom’s of autistic children have abnormal gut flora and health problems related to that. But then I look at grandmothers on the mother’s side, and I find that the grandmothers also have abnormal gut flora, but much milder.”

In essence, what we have is a generational build-up of abnormal gut flora, with each generation becoming ever more prone to being further harmed from the use of antibiotics—and vaccines as well. To learn more about GAPS, please see this previous interview with Dr. Campbell-McBride.

How Your Gut Impacts Your Metabolism and Genetic Expression

As time goes on, we’re gaining more and more information about the important roles gut flora plays in maintaining overall health. The good news is that this is an area you can exercise a lot of control over. Your diet can quickly alter the composition of your gut flora. Processed foods high in sugar and chemical additives and low in nutrients is a surefire way to decimate the beneficial bacteria in your gut, allowing the harmful pathogenic kind to thrive.

Research has also shown that your microflora has a significant impact on gene expression, such as the genes responsible for vitamin biosynthesis and metabolism. Probiotics have been found to influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner—some of which affect your body in a manner resembling the effects of certain medicines!

A recent study published in the journal Natureiii found that “gut microbial communities represent one source of human genetic and metabolic diversity.” According to the authors:

“To examine how gut microbiomes differ among human populations, here we characterize bacterial species in fecal samples from 531 individuals, plus the gene content of 110 of them. The cohort encompassed healthy children and adults from the Amazonas of Venezuela, rural Malawi and US metropolitan areas and included mono- and dizygotic twins.

Shared features of the functional maturation of the gut microbiome were identified during the first three years of life in all three populations, including age-associated changes in the genes involved in vitamin biosynthesis and metabolism.

Pronounced differences in bacterial assemblages and functional gene repertoires were noted between US residents and those in the other two countries. These distinctive features are evident in early infancy as well as adulthood. Our findings underscore the need to consider the microbiome when evaluating human development, nutritional needs, physiological variations and the impact of westernization.” [Emphasis mine]

Three Global Varieties of Gut Bacteria

You might not be aware of this, but scientists are now busy mapping the microbes in your body in much the same way as they mapped the human genome. The Human Microbiome Projectiv was launched in October 2008, with the goal to catalogue all the bacterial inhabitants in the human body. Researchers have identified most of the microbes in the human gut, but they still don’t know much about the actions of each individual microbe, or how they work together. An article published in Wired Magazine last year discussed this fascinating workv. It also features an illustrative graphic of the primary microbes found in humans across the globe. vi

According to another study, also published in the journal Naturevii last year, each of us harbors one of three primary “communities” of bacteria. The health ramifications of each are still being teased out.

  1. Bacteriocides
  2. Prevotella
  3. Ruminococcus

According to Wired:

“In terms of function, each of the enterotype-defining genera has been linked to nutrient-processing preferences — Bacteroides to carbohydrates, Prevotella to proteins called mucins, or Ruminococcus to mucins and sugars — but far more may be going on. “Exactly what they are doing in there is still to be explored,” said Arumugam, who also mentioned enterotype-based differences in drug metabolism as another possible implication of the findings.”

The Ideal Way to Optimize Your Gut Health

The ideal balance of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria in your gut is about 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad. Maintaining this ideal ratio is what it’s all about when we’re talking about optimizing your gut health. Historically, people didn’t have the same problems with their gut health as we do today for the simple fact that they got large quantities of beneficial bacteria, i.e. probiotics, from their diet in the form of fermented or cultured foods, which were invented long before the advent of refrigeration and other forms of food preservation.

You can ferment virtually any food, and every traditional culture has traditionally fermented their foods to prevent spoilage. There are also many fermented beverages and yoghurts. Quite a large percent of all the foods that people consumed on a daily basis were fermented, and each mouthful provides trillions of beneficial bacteria—far more than you can get from a probiotics supplement.

Here’s a case in point: It’s unusual to find a probiotic supplement containing more than 10 billion colony-forming units. But when my team actually tested fermented vegetables produced by probiotic starter cultures, they had 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria. Literally, one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic! Fermented foods also give you a wider variety of beneficial bacteria, so all in all, it’s your most cost effective alternative.

Fermenting your own foods is a fairly straight-forward and simple process, and can provide even greater savings. To learn more, please listen to my interview with Caroline  Barringer, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) who has been involved with nutrition for about 20 years. She’s now one of Dr. Campbell-McBride’s chief training partners, helping people understand the food preparation process.

Download Interview Transcript

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10 Shocking Medical Mistakes

By Dr. Mercola

It’s no secret that medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

At a quarter million every year, they’re so prevalent that if you were to add them all up, they most likely would be at least No. 3 on the death list, according to Dr. Peter Pronovost, and anesthesiologist and critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

What’s shocking is that the harm often is preventable.

In an effort to help consumers become their own patient advocates, CNN has compiled this list of the top 10 mistakes hospitals make, and what you can do prevent them.

1. Treating the Wrong Patient

If your identity gets mixed up with someone else’s, you can get the wrong medications or even the wrong surgery. Most hospitals now give patients a wristband with your full name, date of birth and a unique barcode. Make sure this is checked and verified before every medical procedure.

2. Surgical Souvenirs

Surgical tools or other objects are left inside people after surgery far more often than you’d like to think. This is often the result of surgical staff failing to count, or miscounting, equipment during the procedure. Unexpected pain, fever and swelling after surgery are all indications that you could have a surgical tool still inside you.

Just how often does this occur? One study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that about 1,500 Americans have objects left inside of them following surgery every year.i Surgical sponges, which can fill up with blood and resemble bodily tissues, are by far the most common item left behind, but incidents involving clamps, retractors, electrodes and other objects have also been reported. If you have an emergency surgery, your likelihood of being impacted by an object left behind increases by 900 percent, and by 400 percent if unexpected changes occur during the procedure. Being overweight or obese also increases the risk.

Before heading in to surgery, alert your surgeon and attendants that you are aware of this issue, and ask them to be especially careful. Also make sure counts of surgical equipment are routine at the institution where the surgery is being performed.

3. Lost Patients

Patients with dementia or other mental disorders can wander off, get lost, become trapped in closets and even die from hypothermia, dehydration and other hazards. A GPS tracking bracelet can ensure that your loved one will always be easily locatable.

4. Fake Doctors

Sometimes con artists like to pretend they’re doctors, offering medical treatments that make them rich but will only make you sicker. CNN gave the example of Sarafina Gerling, who wore a back brace advertised online by a man found guilty of insurance fraud. Gerling thought the brace would help her scoliosis, but it only made the condition worse. Make sure any health care practitioner you receive treatment from is, in fact, qualified to do so.

5. The ER Waiting Game

Emergency rooms and hospitals only have so much space, so when beds are full it can mean you’re forced to wait for medical care — and that wait time can sometimes be the difference between life and death, or the loss of limbs, as happened to Malyia Jeffers, a baby who waited five hours for medical care while flesh-eating bacteria spread through her body.

6. Air Bubbles in Blood

If the hole in your chest isn’t sealed correctly (airtight) after a chest tube is removed, air bubbles can enter the wound and cut off blood supply to your lungs, heart, kidneys and brain — a life-threatening event. Before having a chest tube removed, ask the nurse how you should be positioned to avoid air bubbles, and make sure the hole will be sealed airtight.

7. Operating on the Wrong Body Part

It can happen if a surgeon misreads your chart, or if the chart is incorrect. Surgical drapings can also cover marks made on a person’s body to indicate where the surgery is to be performed. If you are having surgery, make sure you confirm with the surgeon, nurses and other staff that they have the correct body location on which to operate — and if any marks are drawn to indicate the area, make sure they are in the proper location.

8. Infection Infestation

Hospital-acquired infections are alarmingly common, and sadly they’re often deadly. In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections each year, and a whopping 100,000 people die as a result. According to the 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America report,ii analysis of approximately 40 million Medicare patients’ records from 2007 through 2009 showed that 1 in 9 patients developed such hospital-acquired infections!

The saddest part is, most of these cases could likely have been easily prevented with better infection control in hospitals—simple routines such as doctors and nurses washing their hands between each patient, for example. Be aware and make sure doctors, nurses and other health care providers wash their hands before touching you; if you feel uncomfortable speaking up … realize that doing so could literally save your life.

9. Lookalike Tubes

Medical tubing serves a variety of unique purposes in hospitals, for instance delivering medication, fluids, food, gases or blood to different areas of the body — the veins, arteries, stomach, lungs, etc. Unfortunately, many varieties of medical tubing are interchangeable and easily connectable, meaning it is very simple to mistakenly connect a feeding tube to an intravenous line, or IV fluids to an oxygen tube, leading to suffocation.

There have been cases reported where a spinal anesthetic used for pain relief during childbirth was mistakenly put into a vein, killing the 16-year-old recipient, and a healthy young pregnant woman and her unborn daughter died after a feeding tube was mistakenly connected to an intravenous line, sending liquid food directly into her veins — a fatal, and completely avoidable, mistake.iii

With nurses often working overtime or covering too many patients at once, it is all too easy to connect a tube improperly, leading to an often fatal outcome for the patient. A simple solution would be to change the design of the tubes so tubing for different functions are no longer compatible with one another, but so far the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been slow to take action. Until that change takes place, protect yourself by asking nurses to trace all medical tubing back to its original source to prevent mishaps.

10. Waking up During Surgery

If you receive an under-dose of anesthesia, your brain may be “awake” even if you can’t move your muscles. Unable to move or speak, you may still feel the surgery taking place. Express any concerns you have with your surgeon and anesthesiologist prior to surgery, including asking about options for local anesthesia in lieu of being put to sleep.

Medical Errors are Alarmingly Common — How to Save Your Life if You’re Admitted to the Hospital

Download Interview Transcript

According to the 2011 Health Grades report, the incidence rate of medical harm occurring in the United States is estimated to be over 40,000 harmful and/or lethal errors each and EVERY day.iv

In my recent interview (above) with Dr. Andrew Saul, co-author of Hospitals and Health: Your Orthomolecular Guide to a Shorter Hospital Stay (which is available on Amazon), he explained that the lowest estimate makes hospitals one of the top 10 causes of deaths in the United States … and the highest estimate makes hospital and drugs the number one cause of death in the United States.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing the information on this site about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management with you is because it can help keep you OUT of the hospital. But if you do have to go there, you need to know how to play the game.

My primary suggestion is to avoid hospitals unless it’s an absolute emergency and you need life-saving medical attention. In such cases, it’s worth taking one of Dr. Saul’s recommendations, which is to bring a personal advocate — a relative or friend who can speak up for you and ensure you’re given proper care if you can’t do so yourself. If you’re having an elective medical procedure done, remember that this gives you greater leeway and personal choice—use it!

Many believe training hospitals will provide them with the latest and greatest care, but they can actually be far more dangerous.

As a general rule, avoid elective surgeries and procedures during the month of July because this is when brand new residents begin their training. According to a 2010 report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, lethal medication errors consistently spike by about 10 percent each July, particularly in teaching hospitals, due to the inexperience of new residents.v Also be cautious of weekends.

I recommend you watch the video above for more potentially life-saving tips in the event you find yourself in a hospital. Knowing how to prevent disease so you can avoid hospitals in the first place is clearly your best bet. But knowing what to do to make your hospital stay as safe as possible is equally important.

Understand that you, the patient, are the most powerful entity within the entire hospital system. However, the system works on the assumption that the patient will not claim that power. Knowing your rights and responsibilities can help ensure your hospital stay is a safe and healing one.

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Coming Soon: New Technology to Help ‘Persuade’ You to Vaccinate

By Dr. Mercola

Faster than a speeding bullet, closer to the speed of sound―in the very near future your next vaccine may be injected into your body quicker than the blink of your eye.

And it’ll be nearly painless, if scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are right about an invention they unveiled recently.

Drugs Administered Via High-Pressured Jet

The mechanism consists of a tiny, high-pressured jet that eliminates needles and delivers drugs directly into the skin. Traveling at around 340 meters per second, the device works similarly to a mosquito’s proboscis. If it works the way researchers plan, it may very well spell the end of needles used for injections.

So far they’ve been able to use it to deliver drugs through both the retina in the eye and the middle and inner ear, and they’re working on a similar device that takes powdered drugs and makes them liquid-like when they’re injected into the skin.

For people who loathe needles, or those who use injectable drugs frequently, the device certainly shows promise – but this is far from the first time researchers have come up with a needle-free injection system.

Every year, Americans receive 16 billion injections of various medications and vaccines, and companies have long been clamoring to devise a new device that could eventually replace needles altogether.

Needle-Free Injections Have Been Around Since the 1800s

The first “jet injection” systems reportedly came about in the 1860s, and were used to deliver liquid medications. Later, in the 1950s, the U.S. military used gas-powered “jet guns” to vaccinate masses of troops. Notorious for problems, such as skin wounds and contamination with blood-borne pathogens between patients, the devices were eventually banned in 1997.i

Newer needle-free systems are smaller than their predecessors and could be available for personal use, unlike the jet injection systems of the past, which were largely used for mass vaccination programs. But don’t think this isn’t the plan for the newer models as well.

Needle Fears Often Cited as a Primary Reason for Vaccination “Non-Compliance”

Writing in the journal Vaccine,ii researchers noted:

“Needle fears are a documented barrier to immunization in children and adults … Needle fear was present in 2/3 of children and 1/4 of adults. Needle fear was the primary reason for immunization non-compliance for 7% and 8% of parents and children, respectively.”

Government regulators and drug companies alike know they can probably get more people vaccinated if they offer needle-free vaccines, which is why vaccines that are administered nasally are sometimes offered as an alternative. In October 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave marketing clearance to one needle-free product called the PharmaJet Needle-Free Injection System. The company promptly rolled out production and partnered with Kroger Pharmacy to offer needle-free flu shots during the 2011/2012 flu season. Bioject, another producer of a needle-free injector, also planned to offer needle-free flu shots last year at Publix and Fred Meyer stores in several U.S. states.

Shortly thereafter, however, the FDA warned doctors, nurses and pharmacists not to use the devices for flu shots. Even though they had received FDA clearance, the FDA noted that vaccines are currently labeled with specific instructions on how they should be administered, and there are currently no flu vaccines approved for administration by jet injector.iii But it’s not likely to stay that way for long.

A Drug is Still a Drug, No Matter How It’s Administered

Needle-free technology is a boon for those rare cases when someone is terrified of needles but needs an injectable drug … but when deciding on a vaccination or a medication it’s important to evaluate not only the route by which it is administered, but also the drug itself.

Public health officials have long insisted that vaccines are the best way to protect the public health. As a result, the number of doses of vaccines included in the childhood vaccination schedule has tripled over the past 30 years, from 23 doses of seven different vaccines in 1980 to 69 doses of 16 different vaccines in 2010.

However, alongside the rise in administered vaccines, we’ve also seen a significant rise in children with chronic disease and disabilities. For whatever reason, our kids are getting sicker. Infant mortality has also risen. In 1960, America ranked 12th in infant mortality among all nations of the world. By 2005, we ranked 30th. Furthermore, more full-term babies die before their first birthday in the US than in most European countries,iv and the US gives its infants more vaccines than any other country in the world.

So, could it all be a coincidence?

The truth is, we don’t know

No one has formally and independently studied the health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, and this is something that needs to be done not just for each individual vaccine, but also for multiple vaccine combinations. 

It’s not only vaccines that are the problem. If you’re an “average” 65-year-old (or older) adult living in the United States, you fill more than 31 prescriptions per year. Those aged 19 to 64 take more than 11 prescription drugs per year, while even children take an average of 4, according to statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation.v In the vast majority of cases, drugs are overused and overprescribed, even in cases where the risks far exceed any potential benefits.

So one of the most important questions to ask yourself and your health care practitioner before deciding to take any drug is:

Do I really need it?

Oftentimes you’ll find the answer is no. So I hope that you will view drugs as a last resort instead of a first choice, and will instead embrace the massive shift in thinking to realize that your body can often heal itself if you give it the proper “tools.”

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Major Progress at Eliminating Fluoride in Water Supplies by Fluoride Action Network

By Paul and Ellen Connett

A year ago, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) joined the Health Liberty Coalition, formed by Mercola.com, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and Consumers for Dental Choice.

The purpose of forming the nonprofit partnership was to advocate and actively campaign for the freedom of individuals to make personal health decisions, and to increase access to unbiased and accurate health information.

Since 2004, FAN has been dedicated to this same goal, and we were happy to join with the strong, dedicated team of advocates, researchers, and health professionals that make up the Health Liberty Coalition.

FAN is a nonprofit and international network of medical and scientific professionals who are focused on broadening public awareness about the toxicity of fluoride compounds and the health impacts of current fluoride exposures, particularly from fluoridation of the public drinking water.

When we joined the Health Liberty Coalition last year, FAN had just helped convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to phase out ALL sulfuryl fluoride pesticides from the U.S. food supply after a vigorous nine-year effort together with the Environmental Working Group and Beyond Pesticides.

This gas fumigant, used to kill insects and rodents in food processing warehouses, leaves extremely high levels of fluoride residue “in or on” stored foods.  We were also witnessing the beginning of a groundswell of fluoride-free campaigns and victories throughout the world that have freed at least 53 communities with 3.5 million residents from fluoridation since the October 2010 victory in Waterloo, Ontario.

Since joining the coalition, the fluoride-free movement has grown significantly. With the help of the Health Liberty coalition and Dr. Mercola, who has inspired many fluoride-free campaigners with his call for action at the local-level, the momentum has continued to build to what could be the tipping point for the end of fluoridation.

Removing Fluoride One Community At A Time

FAN’s Director, Dr. Paul Connett, has said repeatedly that, “we need to beat fluoridation one open mind and one community at a time.” Since 1990, more than 300 communities have “beat fluoridation” with a city council or referendum vote to end the practice. This number doesn’t include the hundreds, if not thousands of communities, who have rejected the start of fluoridation programs in their city.

In just the past year alone, FAN has confirmed that at least 40 communities have voted to end fluoridation for more than 2 million residents, including in major urban areas such as:

  • Fairbanks, Alaska (pop. 80,000)
  • College Station, Texas (pop. 100,000)
  • Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada (pop. 140,000)
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico (pop. 500,000)
  • Pinellas County, Florida (pop. 700,000)

Many of these victories were the result of regular citizens who opposed fluoridation, organizing local campaigns to educate their neighbors and local decision-makers about the serious health risks associated with the practice. But we have also seen something else happen that is a clear sign that our movement is growing at an accelerated rate.

Recently, prominent legislators and city councilors representing large cities have begun introducing fluoride prohibition legislation and resolutions. This is a sign that the issue is becoming less controversial in the eyes of decision-makers, and is losing its status as an undebateable issue.

The pro-fluoridation lobby—led and funded by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pew Charitable Trust, and Delta Dental—are no longer able to hide the true facts about water fluoridation from decision-makers:

- The U.S. FDA classifies ingested fluoride for purposes of reducing tooth decay as an “unapproved” drug. Drugs shouldn’t be in our drinking water,

- Water fluoridation is a violation of your individual right to informed consent to medication,

- Fluoride is not a nutrient. There is not a single process in your body that requires fluoride,

- Bottle-fed infants receive the highest doses of fluoride as they rely solely on liquids for food, combined with their small size. A baby being fed formula reconstituted with tap water receives approximately 175-200 times more fluoride than a breast-fed infant,

- 41% of all American children aged 12-15 now have dental fluorosis, a discoloration and pitting of the enamel caused by overexposure to fluoride as a child,

- Ingesting fluoride has been found to damage soft tissues (brain, kidneys, and endocrine system), as well as teeth (dental fluorosis) and bones (skeletal fluorosis). There are also 24 studies demonstrating a strong relationship between fairly modest exposure to fluoride and reduced IQ in children

- The chemicals used to fluoridate water supplies are largely hazardous by-products of the fertilizer industry and have never been required to undergo randomized clinical trials for safety or effectiveness by any regulatory agency in the world, and

- A multi-million dollar U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) -funded study found no relation between tooth decay and the amount of fluoride ingested by children.

At the municipal-level, there are a number of major campaigns heating up in heavily populated areas, showing just how quickly the momentum is building in opposition to fluoridation:

New York City (pop. 8.1 million)Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. hosted a fluoride-free rally at city hall on May 15th to promote his resolution prohibiting fluoridation of NYC drinking water. A fluoride-free victory in NYC would gain international attention and likely lead to a domino-effect of victories throughout North America. The bill awaits a public hearing, which is at the discretion of Health committee Chair. If you would like to get involved with the NYC campaign, please contact FAN’s New York state coordinator. You can also help by calling the Chair of the Health committee to urge her to hold a public hearing on Vallone’s fluoridation prohibition resolution.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (area pop. 1 million) – In May, Alderman James Bohl introduced fluoridation prohibition legislation. A 7-hour long public hearing was held, which included testimony from Dr. Paul Connett, Dr. Bill Osmunson, and Dr. Yolanda Whyte, and many others (watch the full hearing). The committee is holding the legislation briefly as they collect more information and evidence from both sides. If you live in the Milwaukee area and would like to get involved, please contact End Fluoride Milwaukee (on Facebook). If you are a Milwaukee resident, or a medical or scientific professional, please contact Milwaukee Aldermen.

Phoenix, Arizona (pop. 1.5 million) — The city council is reassessing their fluoridation program. The issue was raised by Councilman Tom Simplot and local fluoride-free campaigners. The city currently spends more than $500,000 annually on fluoridation, and currently joins only 9 other Arizona communities in fluoridating their water. The city council is expected to study the issue and meet on September 11, when it will hold further hearings and decide the fate of the practice. If you live in the Phoenix area and would like to get involved, please contact FAN’s Phoenix coordinator. You can also help by contacting the Phoenix Mayor and City Council.

Santa Fe, New Mexico(pop. 70,000) — City councilors are considering, and reportedly “leaning towards“, ending fluoridation. Santa Fe is 1 of only 2 towns in New Mexico that add fluoride to their drinking water. The issue was raised by Councilor Chris Calvert who felt the health risk and $32,000 cost was enough reason to end the practice. If you live in the area, or are a medical or scientific professional, please contact the council and urge them to support an amendment ending fluoridation.

Anchorage, Alaska(pop. 300,000) — On June 6th, the Anchorage Assembly Public Safety Committee held a fact-finding meeting on fluoridation. Future meetings are expected, and the locals are organizing for win. If you live in the Anchorage area, please contact FAN’s Anchorage coordinator. You can also contact Anchorage Councilors and urge them to end fluoridation like Fairbanks and Juneau.

Making A Statement At The State-Level

FAN has also been increasing our focus on influencing fluoride-policy at the state-level. Over the past decade, we have seen the dental-lobby spending more effort and money trying to influence state-legislators to pass bills mandating statewide fluoridation. Just last year, Arkansas legislators passed a fluoride mandate bill without hearings, without public discussion, and as quickly and undemocratically as possible.

This year, the dental-lobby was again trying to force fluoridation down the throats of non-consenting citizens in New Jersey, Vermont, and Florida, where legislation and amendments mandating fluoride were introduced. Fortunately, strong opposition to these mandates have killed the bills in Vermont and Florida before hearings were ever held, and the mandatory fluoridation bill in New Jersey seems to have stalled before getting a vote by either the Assembly or Senate.

On the fluoride-free side, this year two bills were introduced in NH calling for a prohibition of fluoridation. In Illinois, legislators introduced a bill to end the state-wide fluoridation mandate there. And in Tennessee, a legislator introduced a bill to study the effects of fluoride on the human body, and another legislator introduced a bill requiring accountability for drinking water additives.

But the biggest state victory over the past year was in New Hampshire. On August 4th, 2012, the state of New Hampshire will become the first state to require fluoridating communities to warn their citizens about the fluorosis risk the additive poses to infants. On June 7, Governor John Lynch signed HB1416, “an act relative to a required fluoride statement.” The law will require the following notice on all consumer confidence reports, which must be mailed to all water consumers, be posted online, and available at city halls:

“Your public water supply is fluoridated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your child under the age of 6 months is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance of dental fluorosis. Consult your child’s health care provider for more information.”

This new law is a proactive approach to reducing NH fluorosis rates by notifying parents about the risk posed to their infants by fluoridated water. Not only should the law cause more parents to take preventative action by reducing infant fluoride exposure, but it should also inspire them to question why this toxic substance is in their tap water in the first place if it isn’t safe for infant consumption. This marks a point when the State of New Hampshire has officially recognized that fluoridated water poses a risk to NH infants; a risk backed up by countless studies and a growing fluorosis epidemic that afflicts 41% of U.S. adolescents.

The legislation was opposed by more than a dozen groups, including the NH Dental Association, the NH Oral Health Coalition, Delta Dental, the American Water Works Association, the Municipal Association, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services. Even with this strong opposition from the well-financed dental lobby, the bill was still passed by the NH House by a vote of 253-23, and passed unanimously by the NH Senate. HB-1416 was also signed quickly by Governor John Lynch, rather than being approved without his signature, showing his strong support for this action.

It was a strong group effort, and it showed the dental lobby that we plan on influencing future fluoride policy at the local-level AND the state-level.

Working Together We Can Eliminate the Toxic Poison Fluoride from Our Water Supply

We on the FAN team are dedicated to keeping this momentum growing. If this next year is anything like the last, then the practice of fluoridation is certainly seeing it’s last days. We expect to continue building and supporting local campaigns throughout the world, winning local battles that will create ripples of influence globally. We not only expect to fight and defeat the dental lobby’s state-mandate strategy, but also continue to go on the offensive with legislation reversing existing mandates, creating infant warning statements, and prohibiting fluoridation completely.

Over the next year we also plan on increasing awareness of the fluoride risk to infants and fluorosis. This means opposing the sale of fluoride-added Nursery Water, and urging fluoride manufacturers to print labels on packaging that warn parents not to reconstitute the formula with fluoridated tap water. In conjunction with our infant warning campaign, we will also be planning and executing a campaign to bring greater awareness to fluorosis, which is the discoloration and molting of tooth enamel caused by overexposure to fluoride.

Many people don’t even realize they have dental fluorosis, and many dentists don’t report fluorosis cases or even alert their patients to the problem or it’s cause. We want to expose the fluorosis epidemic and give victims an outlet to share their story and their frustration with fluoridation.

FAN will continue to build our supporter and advocate network, and create more resources for campaigners.  Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for citizens to organize around the opposition to fluoridation, and to successfully remove the toxic additive from their drinking water.  This will involve improvements to our website, our downloadable materials, our advocacy resources, and our social networks.

We on the FAN team are committed to:

  1. Establishing the principle that the public water supply should never be used to deliver medicine;
  2. Ensuring that any medicine given to people be pharmaceutical grade-not an industrial waste product contaminated with known human carcinogens like arsenic, for which there are no safe levels;
  3. Upholding the principle that what medicines we take is an individual choice;
  4. Making sure that public health policies are shaped by honest science;
  5. Securing Environmental Justice for all our citizens. Some people simply cannot afford to use bottled water or buy expensive filters, and both Black and Mexican American children are more susceptible to fluoride’s toxic effects (CDC, 2005, Table 23);
  6. Protecting our babies and children from fluoride’s known harmful effects. 41% of US adolescents now have dental fluorosis (CDC, 2010); 25 studies indicate an association with lowered IQ and moderate fluoride exposure, and Bassin’s unrefuted 2006 study conducted at Harvard University indicates that young boys exposed to fluoridated water in their 6th-8th years have a 5-7 fold increased risk of succumbing to osteosarcoma by the age of 20. Osteosarcoma is a rare but frequently fatal bone cancer.
  7. Upholding the Precautionary Principle. The risks from fluoride are simply too great to be ignored, especially considering that any potential benefit is small or even nonexistent. Who in their right mind could possibly justify the potential for lowering IQ, weakening bones with lifelong exposure, or even risk killing a handful of children each year in order to save what amounts to possibly only 0.6 of one tooth surface out of over 100 tooth surfaces in a child’s mouth, based on the largest survey ever conducted in the US (Brunelle and Carlos, 1990)?

FAN will continue to fight for these things – and we will do so against any odds until the fluoridating world comes to its senses. But this is easier to do when we know we have the support of people like you.


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Why Is Big Corn Continuing to Run ‘Corn Sugar’ Ads Even After FDA Denial?

By Dr. Mercola

In 2010, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow manufacturers the option of using the term “corn sugar” instead of “high fructose corn syrup” (HFCS) on food labels.

This renaming was a clever marketing ploy that would have easily hidden HFCS on labels, which is precisely what CRA wanted since so many people are now aware of the risks of consuming HFCS, and are seeking to avoid it in droves.

Fortunately, at the end of May, the FDA finally took a stand and told CRA they weren’t going to allow the re-naming of HFCS to “corn sugar” … but somehow CRA is still getting away with advertising it as such on TV …

No Corn Sugar on Labels, But OK on TV Commercials?

You have probably seen CRA’s marketing campaign on television. The commercials try to reduce shopper confusion and anxiety, showing actors who say they now understand that “whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference”.

The claim that all sugars are metabolized by your body in the same way is an outdated belief that has been shattered in more recent years by a growing body of scientific research, which I’ll get to shortly. However, the main issue is that while the FDA has stepped in to say that calling HFCS “corn sugar” is not acceptable, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whose job it is to decide whether or not ads aired on television are deceptive, has not.

The Consumerist asked the FTC to comment on the issue, but they refused, saying they would only issue a statement after an investigation had been conducted. But as The Consumerist pointed out, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are conducting one on this issue currently, or plan to in the future … For now, while the FDA says HFCS cannot be called corn sugar on food labels, the FTC still allows them to advertise it as such on TV!

Why the FDA Denied the “Corn Sugar” Naming Petition

In a letter response to CRA’s petition, the FDA gave salient reasons for denying the use of “corn sugar” to refer to HFCS,i the first being that HFCS is a liquid syrup, not a granular, dried, crystalized food as the word “sugar” implies:

“FDA’s regulatory approach for the nomenclature of sugar and syrups is that sugar is a solid, dried, and crystallized food; whereas syrup is an aqueous solution or liquid food … FDA’s approach is consistent with the common understanding of sugar and syrup as referenced in a dictionary …,” they state.

“Consequently, the use of the term “corn sugar” for HFCS would suggest that HFCS is a solid, dried, and crystallized sweetener obtained from corn. Instead, HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose. Thus, the use of the term “sugar” to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties.”

The FDA also took issue with CRA’s attempts to eliminate the term corn sugar as an alternative name for dextrose, for which it is often used. For those who aren’t aware, dextrose is pure glucose and contains no fructose. For this reason, I recommend it as a safer alternative to most other sugars on the market. Even the FDA acknowledged that swapping corn sugar, which is often taken to mean “dextrose,” for HFCS could put people who are sensitive to fructose at risk:

“Moreover, “corn sugar” has been known to be an allowed ingredient for individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption, who have been advised to avoid ingredients that contain fructose. Because such individuals have associated “corn sugar” to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when “high fructose corn syrup” is not, changing the name for HFCS to “corn sugar” could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern.” 

It’s the Fructose, in Excess, That’s the Problem

It’s important to note that both sugar and HFCS are problematic, as they both contain similar amounts of fructose, the true culprit.

Sucrose (table sugar) is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is anywhere from 42 to 55 percent fructose depending on which type is used. Glucose is the form of energy your body is designed to run on. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy, and it’s metabolized in every organ of your body; about 20 percent of glucose is metabolized in your liver. Fructose, on the other hand, can only be metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it.

Since all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, and, if you eat a typical Western-style diet, you consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regards to the metabolic havoc it wreaks. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, fructose is a “chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin.” And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat—not cellular energy, like glucose.  When you compare the health outcomes of fructose versus alcohol consumption, you end up seeing a very familiar pattern—the diseases they cause are virtually identical, according to Dr. Lustig and colleagues.

Chronic Ethanol Consumption Chronic Fructose Consumption
Hypertension Hypertension
Cardiomyopathy Myocardial infarction
Dyslipidemia Dyslipidemia
Pancreatitis Pancreatitis
Obesity Obesity
Hepatic dysfunction (ASH) Hepatic dysfunction (NASH)
Fetal alcohol syndrome Fetal insulin resistance
Addiction Habituation, if not addiction

 

The reason why HFCS may, in fact, be even worse than table sugar, despite having similar fructose content, is due to its liquid form. When you consume fructose in liquid form, such as drinking a soda, it places even more of a burden on your liver. The effect on your liver is not only sped up but also magnified.

“Sugar is sugar” no matter what form it’s in, is a misstatement that can, quite literally, kill you—albeit slowly.

Is Coca-Cola’s Chief Scientific Officer in Touch with Reality?

In a commentary that would be almost comical if it weren’t true, the vice president and chief scientific and regulatory officer at Coca-Cola lashed out at critics who blame the soda industry for the obesity epidemic, and offered the perfect recipe for slimming down: exercise and low-calorie, no-calorie Coke, or full-calorie in smaller cans.

Coca-Cola clearly has a role to play in developing solutions,” Applebaum said.ii “Helping people manage their calories is nothing new to us. … But it’s not just about options―it’s also about information. In 2009 we added calorie amounts on the front of nearly all of our packages to make it easier for people to choose beverages that are right for them.”

Applebaum added that Michelle Obama did the right thing by tapping celebrities like Beyonce to remind children that activities like dance can be just as entertaining as a video game.

Coca-Cola is not the sole cause of the obesity epidemic … but it’s certainly a major contributor. There’s no getting around the fact that, from a health perspective, drinking Coke or any soft drink is a disaster. Just one extra can of soda per day can add as much as 15 pounds to your weight over the course of a single year,iii not to mention increase your risk of diabetes by 85 percent.iv

Is Any Amount of Fructose Safe?

Fructose per se is not necessarily toxic – in small amounts, and especially when complexed with the vital food factors found within whole, organic and raw fruit There are instances when your body can use it. The problem is that people consume so MUCH of it, and in such a highly processed form, that it turns toxic by virtue of the fact that your body cannot use it. It simply gets shuttled into your cells and stored as fat.

So it’s mainly the MASSIVE DOSES you’re exposed to that make it dangerous.

If you want to shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight long-term, and RADICALLY reduce (and in many cases virtually eliminate) your risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, then start getting serious about restricting your consumption of fructose to no more than 25 grams per day. If you’re already overweight, or have any of these diseases or are at high risk of any of them, then you’re probably better off cutting that down to 10-15 grams per day.

I’ve also included a chart below of fructose levels in fruit to give you an idea of what 25 grams a day looks like.

Graphic courtesy of Caitlin Covington for Greatist.comv

Just remember, fruit is only one source, as fructose is a staple ingredient in the vast majority of sweetened beverages and processed foods of all kinds, from pre-packaged meals to baked goods and condiments. Fructose is in HFCS, yes, but it’s also in table sugar and these other sweeteners below, which are typically considered “healthy.” You’ve got to pay attention to all of them, as they are all adding to your fructose load.

Honey Date sugar Coconut sugar Brown rice syrup
Fruit juice Molasses Maple syrup Sucanat
Sorghum Turbinado Agave syrup  

 

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