Research Proves Causation—Sugar Consumption Increases Risk for Chronic Disease

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By Dr. Mercola

What is the proper role of sugar in our society? It used to be a condiment; now it’s a diet staple. Mounting evidence clearly shows that refined sugar is a primary factor causing not just obesity, but also chronic disease.

According to Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF), sugar acts as a chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin (poison) when consumed in excess.

You might recognize Dr. Lustig from one of the most popular YouTube videos on sugar that has over 5 million views. You might also have seen him on 60 Minutes, which ran a report on the dangers of sugar in 2012.

You might also have seen him sparring with Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher. Or you might know him from his book, Fat Chance.

Never before have humans consumed as much sugar as we do today, and the ramifications of this dietary change are quite clear. Fructose, found in most processed foods, is by far the worst form of sugar, causing the greatest amount of harm in the shortest amount of time.

For example, in one clinical trial, test subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease in just two weeks.

Chronic Disease Has Risen in Lockstep with Sugar Consumption

Historically, sugar was used as a condiment. As early as 1200 BC, India developed a process to extract cane juice, called khanda, which is where we got the word “candy” from.

“It was for nobility and it was hard to come by, until about year 1700, when the pot still allowed for mass production of refined sugar. It was still extraordinarily expensive until the middle of 18th -19th century,” Dr. Lustig says.

“At that point, we started seeing it appearing in various venues. We started seeing the growth of American sugar industry in Louisiana, Texas, and Hawaii. That’s when we started seeing chronic metabolic disease.

In fact, the very first demonstration of an increase in chronic metabolic disease was in 1924, when Hayden Emerson, the commissioner of health of New York City, noticed a seven-fold increase in diabetes rate in the [city’s] population.

Then in 1931, Dr. Paul Dudley White (cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital) called attention to the fact that we had an epidemic of heart disease.

Finally, in 1988, we learned about the advent of adolescent type 2 diabetes. These are the three seminal hallmarks of chronic metabolic disease pervading our population. It goes up in lockstep with our increase in per capita sugar consumption.”

The bottom line is that sugar used to be something we added to coffee and tea. We had full control over the amount we ate. Today, we consume about 20 times more sugar than our ancestors did, and we have very little control over the amount since it’s become a diet staple.

It’s now found in virtually every processed food you can think of. On average, sugar makes up 15 percent of total calories consumed (about 19.5 teaspoons per day), and your liver, which processes sugar, simply cannot handle that kind of load. When you overload your liver in this way, you inevitably end up with chronic metabolic disease.

“Basically, sugar is metabolized virtually identically to that of alcohol, and we are now seeing diseases in children that we never saw before, and they are alcohol-related diseases, like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Kids don’t drink alcohol but they certainly consume sugar, and that’s the point,” Dr. Lustig says. “Sugar is the alcohol of the child. And we are all overdosed.

We have gone beyond our limits and we are now evidencing a massive increase in chronic metabolic disease that is chewing through the health care resources of every developed and developing country on the planet, and this is unsustainable.”

Insulin Resistance—A Hallmark of Metabolic Syndrome

According to Dr. Lustig, whatever organ becomes insulin resistant ends up manifesting its own chronic metabolic disease. For example, when you have insulin resistance of the liver, you end up with type 2 diabetes.

When you have insulin resistance of the brain, you end up with Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin resistance of the kidney leads to chronic renal disease, and so forth. All of these diseases are insulin resistant states. The question is what causes the insulin resistance in the first place?

“[W]e have some new data that we are very excited about, which demonstrate that if you overload the mitochondria, the little energy-burning factories within cells, in any given organ, you’ll end up manifesting various forms of chronic metabolic disease,” Dr. Lustig says.

“The chemical that overloads the mitochondria best is trans-fats. But the chemical that overloads the mitochondria next best is sugar. Trans fats and sugar pretty much characterize the processed food diet.”

In November 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed trans fats from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. This is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of reverting back to healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, lard, and butter, trans fats have been replaced with other non-saturated vegetable oils, that when heated, produce toxic aldehydes which cause cellular damage.

We may not realize the full ramifications of this switch until a decade or two down the line. Sugar, on the other hand, is going to be even more difficult to dislodge from the food system.

According to SugarScience.org, added sugars hide in 74 percent of processed foods under more than 60 different names.1 And yet, getting rid of the excess sugar in processed food is exactly what needs to be done.

“As long as sugar is on that (GRAS) list, the food industry has license to use as much as it wants to in any given food stuff. So, sugar has become the biggest problem in our diet since the advent of trans fats,” Dr. Lustig says. “Granted, there are many problems with processed food. There’s too much of five things and too little of three things.

There’s too much trans fats; too much omega-6 fatty acids (which are pro-inflammatory); too much branched-chain amino acids (which also overload your liver and cause chronic metabolic disease)… too much alcohol, and too much sugar.

On the too-little side, there’s too little fiber, too few micronutrients, and too little omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. Processed food has a zillion things wrong with it. Unfortunately, processed food is what we subsidize. Processed food is what we expect people to consume because of 1) expense and 2) shelf life. That’s making a fortune for the food industry, but it’s killing us.”

Is There a Safe Threshold for Sugar?

According to Dr. Lustig, trans fats are “without question consumable poison.” But is sugar as bad or worse than trans fat? Dr. Lustig says no, it’s not worse, because while there is no threshold at which trans fats are safe, there may be a threshold below which sugar will not cause a problem. While there are individual differences, as a general rule the safety threshold for sugar appears to be around six to nine teaspoons (25-38 grams) of added sugar per day.

“That’s what the data suggest, because your liver does have the capacity to metabolize fructose, as long as the mitochondria don’t get overwhelmed,” Dr. Lustig says. “So as long as you keep it below the threshold, above which toxicity would occur, I think that, probably, sugar is okay.”

Whether or not you’re insulin resistant will play a role, as insulin resistance generates hyperinsulinemia. Hyperinsulinemia means that there’s more insulin at the fat cell, which means you’ll shunt more energy into those fat cells because that’s what insulin does. Insulin resistance is clearly associated with weight gain. But while many believe that insulin resistance is the result of weight gain, recent data argues against that notion, Dr. Lustig says. Instead, the data shows that insulin is whatdrives the weight gain.

When your liver turns excess sugar into liver fat and becomes insulin resistant, that generates hyperinsulinemia, and hyperinsulinemia drives energy storage into body fat.

Currently, about two-thirds of the American population is overweight. About one-quarter to one-third is diabetic or prediabetic, and another quarter of the population is hypertensive. Many also have high serum triglycerides.  Insulin resistance is a component of all of these health issues. According to Dr. Lustig, the data shows that at least 50 percent of Americans have some form of insulin resistance—whether you’re overweight or not—and that is what’s driving our seemingly out-of-control disease statistics.

Metabolic Disease in America

As Dr. Lustig notes, if you were to do a Venn diagram2,3 of the United States population, you’d have 240 million adults in that diagram, divided into two circles. One circle would be about twice as big as the other: the obese population forming a smaller circle of about 30 percent, and the non-obese population forming a larger circle of about 70 percent. Eighty percent (57 million people) of the obese population is metabolically ill. They have insulin resistance that manifests itself in a myriad of ways, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.

“The standard mantra is, ‘If they would just diet and exercise, they wouldn’t be obese and we could solve this problem,'”Dr. Lustig says. “This is patently untrue. It is true that 80 percent of the obese population is metabolically ill. But that means that 20 percent of the obese population is not. They’re metabolically healthy. They are called metabolically healthy obese. They will live a completely normal life, die at a completely normal age, and not cost the taxpayer a dime. They are just fat. They’re not contributing to our runaway medical train, as it were.”

Conversely, it turns out that of the 70 percent that are of normal weight (168 million people), 40 percent of them (67 million people) have insulin resistance on lab testing, and they manifest aspects of the metabolic syndrome as well. They too get type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia. The prevalence of metabolic disease among normal weight people is not as great as among obese people—40 percent versus 80 percent—but they do get ill and there are far more people in this group.

“When you do the math, there are more thin sick people than there are fat sick people,” Dr. Lustig says.  “The thin sick people are actually costing more, and when you do the math on the two together, the sick population is 124 million—that’s more than half of the US adult population. It turns out the thin sick people are costing us more…

And you can’t attribute this to gluttony and sloth or diet and [lack of] exercise, because they’re normal weight. If it’s not about behavior, then there’s only one other option: it must be about exposure. This is an exposure that obese people are exposed to and it’s an exposure that even normal weight people are exposed to. That is called the Western diet. The Western diet is replete with sugar. Sugar is mechanistically the thing that drives this insulin resistance.”

How Do You Resolve Insulin Resistance?

The answer can be summarized in two words: real food. According to Dr. Lustig, the overwhelming majority, 60-70 percent of the patients seen in his clinic are there as a result of their processed food diet.

“What we have to do is we have to move them back [to real food], and what we do is we explain what real food is. A lot of kids don’t even know what real food is. A lot of kids think that fruit flavored yogurt is real food; it is not. We explain that yogurt is sour milk [it’s not sweet]… So if you want yogurt, have plain yogurt and throw whole fruit in, just like what Europeans do. That’s called real food.”

Intermittent fasting may be another way to address insulin resistance. Although Dr. Lustig doesn’t think most people have to go this far, he believes it can work for some. When you fast, your liver burns off the available liver fat. So you’re temporarily depleting your liver fat stores, restoring metabolic stability to your liver and improving hepatic insulin sensitivity. That said, he believes that the long-term answer for most people lies simply in eating real food.

“I think you can do this rationally, by eating properly all the way through the week rather than having to do intermittent fasting. I think, ultimately, the goal is get the liver fat down. And since the cause of the liver fat is dietary sugar, via the process of De novo lipogenesis… once you get rid of the sugar, the liver fat will go down, and we have data that supports that, both in adults and in children… I think, ultimately, what you have to do is get the liver fat down. Will intermittent fasting do that? Yes, it will. But will eating properly do that too? It does it even better,” he says.

“What we tell people are these very simple rules, all of which are evidence-based: get rid of every sugared beverage in the house. Then, eat your carbohydrate with fiber. Whole food is okay because the fiber mitigates the negative effects of the fructose on hepatic metabolism, because it reduces the rate of absorption… We don’t tell people they can’t eat sugar. But they have to eat sugar in a form that nature provided it, and it’s called whole fruit.”

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise is also an important component. Interestingly, Dr. Lustig notes that exercise works not by promoting weight loss; rather its benefits are related to the fact that exercise promotes muscle gain. It may be a fine distinction, but one worth noting nonetheless. There is a transcription factor known as Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1?), which is involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. When you turn up PGC-1?, you make more mitochondria. Increasing your sympathetic muscle tone. This is what exercise does, it turns on PGC-1?. So, in short, exercise increases muscle mass, which increases mitochondria, and this in turn improves insulin sensitivity.

“Every doctor who tells their patient, ‘Well, if you’d exercise, you’d lose weight.’ Given what we know now, this statement is tantamount to malpractice, because it isn’t true. There are no studies that show [exercise leads to weight loss]. Yet, exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself and we should be promoting it, but we have to explain to patients what the outcome variable they should be looking at is. And the outcome variable is belt size [waist size], because they will reduce their visceral fat. They will lose inches, not pounds. And losing inches means improved metabolic health,” Dr. Lustig explains.

Research Proves Causation—Sugar Definitely Increases Risk for Disease

At present, there are 15 agencies and 51 separate agreements controlling food regulatory activities in the US, and according to Dr. Lustig, “no one knows what the other hand is doing, and the food industry takes complete advantage of this.” Dr. Lustig and many others are pushing for a national food policy. He also insists that “it’s time for us to take food back as a mode of therapy.” And if food is medicine, doctors really must be taught a thing or two about nutrition…

“We have the data. We don’t have correlation anymore. Now, we have causation. We have causation for sugar and obesity (although sugar is not the only cause). We have causation for sugar and diabetes, for heart disease, and for fatty liver disease… We now have causation. It’s time to do something about it.”

For example, a paper by Yang, et al, published in JAMA Internal Medicine last year looked at consumption of added sugar over two decades, as a percentage of total calories, concluding that it significantly contributed to cardiovascular deaths. People who consumed 30 percent of their daily calories as added sugar (like many teenagers are) had a four-fold greater risk of dying from heart disease.

“If you think we got a problem now, wait until our teenagers hit heart disease age; things are really going to be even worse shortly,” he notes. “Food should confer wellness, not illness, and it used to. But then, the food industry got involved. And now it confers illness, not wellness. We have to take back our food.”

To counter the propaganda provided by profit-driven industry interests, dozens of scientists at three American universities—including Dr. Lustig—have created a new educational website called SugarScience.org,4 aimed at making independent research available to the public. To learn more about what the science really says about sugar, I highly recommend browsing through the site.

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Documentary “Shots in the Dark” Delves into Catastrophic Vaccine Reactions

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By Dr. Mercola

As a result of today’s skyrocketing rates of chronic disease and disability among children, including autism, some scientists are questioning the safety of large-scale vaccination programs.

In spite of serious adverse effects among some particularly vulnerable people—many of whom are children—public health officials and many doctors giving vaccines continue to bury their heads in the sand, refusing to even acknowledge there’s a problem.

The featured documentary, “Shots in the Dark: Silence on Vaccine,” takes a hard look at vaccine toxicity and its impact on families. Although released in 2011, the concerns raised are still relevant today.

Current research casts a shadow of doubt about vaccines being as safe as people have been led to believe. Several concerned scientists and many vaccine safety critics are sounding the alarm in hopes of gaining the attention of a public that tends to believe, without question, what doctors and the media say—that vaccines are unquestionably safe for everyone.

Certainly the original intention behind mass vaccination programs was a noble one—to reduce the spread of dangerous infections and increase our children’s odds of living long, healthy lives.

However, cases of severe, debilitating vaccine-triggered illnesses are becoming less of a rarity and lead to the logical conclusion that we may be trading artificial, temporary vaccine acquired immunity for life-long illness and disability.

Vaccine Safety Studies Severely Outdated – By Almost 100 Years!

There is increasing evidence that vaccines cause children to suffer more adverse reactions than any other pharmaceutical product.

Some of the recent research points to vaccines playing a key role in cases of autism, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome and other major illnesses, particularly among individuals who are predisposed to react adversely to vaccine components.

Vaccines contain a variety of toxic compounds, including thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) and aluminum hydroxide, the most commonly used adjuvant which may be even more dangerous than mercury.

Vaccines are a $30 billion per year industry. Decades ago there used to be dozens of vaccine manufacturers, but today just five big drug corporations dominate the lucrative world vaccine market: Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline.

Vaccine manufacturers, government health officials, medical trade associations and the majority of physicians reject outright any suggestion of a cause-and-effect relationship between vaccines and serious illness, relying on poorly designed studies, some dating back to the late 1920s.

With the scientific advancements over the past century, those studies are seriously dated. For example, in the 1920s we had no idea that certain compounds interact to produce toxic and mutating effects on human DNA.

There is no way to predict how vaccines may be causing new mutations and damaging you or your child’s DNA because it simply hasn’t been studied. There is much we didn’t know then about how the brain and immune systems develop and function, and much we still don’t know.

Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1 recommends 69 doses of 16 vaccines for your child, starting on his or her day of birth and continuing through age 18—including 49 doses before the age of six. This is more than double the number of vaccines prescribed 30 years ago.

Such a regimen typically manipulates and deals a heavy blow to your child’s developing immune system, raising his or her risk for development of brain dysfunction and autoimmune disorders.

Vaccine Adjuvants Linked to Dangerous Gene Mutations

The official line is that vaccines don’t cause a type of brain and immune dysfunction that is labeled by doctors as “autism” or “autism spectrum disorder.” However, rates of autism, along with many other chronic immunological and neurological diseases have exploded over exactly the same time period that our infants and children have been hit with increasing numbers of vaccines.

Autism rates are approximately 200 times higher than they were 30 years ago. In 1985, autism affected one child in 10,000 in America. In 2014, it was one in 50. Senior MIT Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff estimates that, based on current projections, half of all children will have autism by the year 2025! 2

Vaccine advocates claim that autism is a “genetic disease,” but that’s an outdated model. Emerging evidence suggests that autism is actually anepigenetic disease—meaning, autism is triggered by de novo mutations that change a child’s genes.

But what’s causing these mutations and DNA changes? They are likely caused by a number of coexisting factors, related to the toxic nature of our modern world. Environmental chemicals and other toxins can turn genes on that would ordinarily be dormant, and turn genes off that would normally protect you.

For example, some researchers have correlated elevated autism rates with the introduction of vaccines that use human fetal cell lines and retroviral contaminants. There is also scientific evidence that the mercury preservatives and aluminum adjuvants in vaccines are creating health problems.

Scientist Finds Direct Evidence of Mercury Overload in Autistic Children

Human exposures to mercury and aluminum have increased dramatically over the past 30 years. The human body isn’t equipped to break down and eliminate these heavy metals, so they tend to accumulate in tissues over time. It’s been a challenging task for scientists to tease out exactly what effect this increased mercury load has on long term health.

For example, researchers have found that some people have a more difficult time excreting mercury from the body than others potentially due to genetic or other biological differences. Accumulation of mercury in the human body can have devastating effects on health.

Dr. Robert Nataf, Director of the Philippe Auguste Laboratory in Paris, France, was tasked with exploring the biology of children diagnosed with autism. He found direct evidence of mercury toxicity in the children, who had elevated porphyrin levels. Porphyrins are essential compounds that help you fight toxins, and he found porphyrins specific to mercury elevated in autistic children, which suggests mercury overload.

Prior studies have shown that when a person has mercury poisoning, the body’s cells cannot build the intercellular transport network (microtubules) necessary to get substances made by the cell to where they are needed. The result of this blockage can be chronic illness. In the documentary, Dr. Nataf uses this metaphor: “Mercury is like a highway accident. The result is a weakening of the cell’s functioning. When a cell weakens, it starts making mistakes, creating malformations.”

Aluminum Adjuvants May Cause Your Body to Attack Itself

In the video above, Dr. David Ayoub discusses how the aluminum in vaccines may be even more dangerous than mercury. Aluminum is to your brain and central nervous system as cigarette smoke is to your lungs, producing tremendous oxidative stress. When you review the signs and symptoms of aluminum toxicity, they are quite similar to the symptoms of autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

Aluminum hydroxide is the oldest and most commonly used vaccine adjuvant and is considered “safe,” in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. An adjuvant’s role is to hyper-stimulate the immune system to mount a strong antibody response to the lab altered virus or bacteria introduced into the body by a vaccine. It was once thought that the body eliminated aluminum hydroxide within a few days of an aluminum containing vaccine being injected into it, but scientists now know this isn’t necessarily true.  For genetic or biological reasons that we don’t yet understand, some people appear predisposed to poor aluminum detoxification, so it accumulates in their tissues and leads to myalgias, fatigue, cognitive deficiencies and other health problems.

Although somewhat rare, another illness that can result from injected aluminum hydroxide is macrophagic myofasciitis3(MMF), marked by disabling pain in your muscles, skin and fascia. Muscle biopsies of those with MMF show dark fibrous structures in the cytoplasm of their macrophages, proven to be aluminum hydroxide. The macrophages in their muscle tissue form masses called granulomas, and the resulting inflammation causes widespread pain throughout their bodies.

The aluminum vaccine adjuvant is doing what it was designed to do, telling the immune system to mount a strong response, but when aluminum is lodged in your muscle, your body can attack itself and elicit a classic autoimmune reaction. Aluminum can travel around your body easily, unimpeded, piggybacking on your iron transport system. It crosses biological barriers that normally keep other types of toxins out, such as your blood-brain barrier. Over time, aluminum can accumulate in your brain and cause brain inflammation. Aluminum toxicity may be contributing to the Alzheimer’s epidemic, as well as other neurological and immune disorders commonly seen today.

Vaccines May Contain Six Times More Aluminum Than Labels Say

If you go by the aluminum content on vaccine labels, the amount kids are getting is excessive, but if you add in the aluminum NOT listed on the labels—”accidental exposure” due to contamination—it’s a much more serious problem. Dr. Ayoub cites one study that found five to six times more aluminum in vaccines than what was actually listed on the labels. Vaccines are not the only source of aluminum exposure—it’s present in the air, water, food, beverages, cosmetics, anti-perspirants and other consumer products. Not surprisingly, as children’s aluminum burden has increased, so has the prevalence of childhood neurological disorders.

Can Vaccines Cause Permanent Brain Damage?

Although there are a number of biological mechanisms that have been implicated in facilitating vaccine-induced brain inflammation and immune dysfunction, clues about the effects of heavy metal toxicity on your brain can be found in the relatively new field of neuroimmunology. The brain’s immune system is comprised of cells called microglia, which function similarly to the macrophages found in other parts of the body. You have as many microglia in your brain as neurons—they cover nearly all of your brain tissue, and they are mobile, moving about in order to identify and destroy foreign particles that pose a threat to your neurons.

Playing a key role in your brain’s immune response, microglia produce a number of inflammatory molecules. This inflammatory response is a two-edged sword. If inflammation does not resolve, it can damage cerebral tissue—damage that CAN be permanent. When microglia are confused, they sometimes become “hyperactive” and attack everything, which can lead to cognitive deficiencies, demyelination, permanent brain damage or even death.  This is how vaccine adjuvants may cause permanent brain damage, especially among infants and children with genetic susceptibilities and underlying neurological or immune system disorders that may or may not have been diagnosed.

If your child has a hypersensitive immune response pattern that’s different from the norm, he or she may be at increased risk for suffering a vaccine reaction.  At the present time, it is well known that the large gaps in vaccine safety science mean that doctors have few ways to reliably predict which child is going to experience such a reaction. Parents are seldom warned of all vaccine risks, even when their child has had a previous vaccine reaction or has a known neurological or immune system disorder that has the potential to raise those risks!

Most Adverse Vaccine Reactions Are Never Connected

Proving causation is extremely difficult with vaccine reactions. Unless symptoms of a vaccine reaction are immediate and dramatic, parents and doctors may not connect a child’s health deterioration to vaccinations a child received. When parents report a reaction to their child’s physician, they are typically told the illness couldn’t possibly be related to the vaccine – it is just a “coincidence” say most pediatricians. Only the most extreme, dramatic and life-threatening vaccine reactions end up in federal vaccine court—the ones where the “dots” are easily connected. Unfortunately, at that point the damage is already done, and all too often it’s permanent.

The CDC’s VAERS database (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System)4 lists 8,000 different adverse vaccine reactions, from localized swelling and anaphylactic shock to autism, coma and death.5 Because of the factors already discussed, the actual number of reactions is probably much higher than the database reports. The vast majority of adverse reactions are never reported.

Government’s Best Kept Secret: The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Given the furor that erupts when anybody publicly questions vaccine safety, you would think that US government officials are certain that vaccines are safe for everyone. But in reality, they’ve known about serious vaccine risks for decades and they know that some people are more susceptible to having vaccine reactions that lead to permanent injuries and death.

At the insistence of vaccine manufacturers pressing Congress for a shield from vaccine injury lawsuits, 30 years ago Congress established the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Vaccine injury cases are adjudicated in the US Court of Claims, also known as “Vaccine Court.”6 The VICP is supposed to provide non-adversarial, expedited financial compensation for vaccine victims according to provisions in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act,7 which absolved vaccine manufacturers, pediatricians and other vaccine providers of nearly all responsibility and liability for vaccine injuries and deaths.

Unfortunately, two out of three vaccine victims applying to the VICP are turned away empty-handed. Very few families ever see a dime from this program, or they have ridiculously long waits for their cases to be heard and settled. Many parents are unaware that the compensation program even exists and miss the short filing deadlines for filing a vaccine injury claim in the VICP (two years following a vaccine death and three years following the first symptom of a vaccine injury).

The families seeking compensation are in vaccine court not because they were opposed to vaccination but because of what happened when they DID vaccinate their children. In the documentary “Bought,” vaccine safety activist Dawn Loughborough says this about VICP:

“We used to have this idea we were protecting children from infectious diseases. And we created the National Vaccine program with children in mind, but somewhere in time protecting the program became more important than what’s happening to our children.”

Do No Harm?

Another issue standing in the way of ensuring that pharmaceutical products licensed by the FDA are safe is ensuring that those who are involved in the licensing and safety monitoring process are free from conflicts of interest. For example, there is evidence that individuals with ties to the pharmaceutical industry occupy a significant number of seats on FDA advisory committees that review new prescription drug licensing applications.

Apparently, conflicts of interest are rampant with a recent published study8 revealing that on average, 13 percent of the members of FDA advisory committees in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) have a financial interest in the company whose drug is up for committee review. The Precautionary Principle—establish safety first—has been replaced with do whatever it takes to rush a drug to market.

Then, when it has been found to cause severe and sometimes fatal health outcomes, like Vioxx, health officials simply deal with the fallout later. And then there is the pharmaceutical lobby, arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington with more than 600 lobbyists doling out funds to political candidates of both parties—in exchange for their loyalty, of course. This is why getting anything done in Congress that the drug industry doesn’t want done is next to impossible.

Please Share Your Story

It’s about time we had some good science to accurately assess how many people are being injured by vaccines, and who is most at risk.  The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the rug like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” from one-size-fits-all vaccination policies.

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please report it and talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with one another, then everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. If you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper, write a letter to the editor. Make a call to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the story. We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies, or public health officials promoting vaccine mandates, to dominate the conversation.

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.

THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.

National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations, and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.

Signing up for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the “other side” of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn’t be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), atwww.NVIC.org:

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, and school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

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The Remarkable Effects of Exercise on Cognition and Brain Cell Regeneration

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By Dr. Mercola

Scientists have been linking physical exercise to brain health for many years. In fact, compelling evidence shows that physical exercise helps build a brain that not only resists shrinkage, but increases cognitive abilities.1

For example, we now know that exercise promotes a process known as neurogenesis, i.e. your brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells, regardless of your age.

The featured article in Real Simple magazine2 highlights a number of brain-boosting benefits of exercise, including the following.

Exercise Shields You from Stress and Depression

Exercise is one of the “secret weapons” to overcoming depression, and studies have shown its efficiency typically surpasses that of antidepressant drugs. In fact, research has shown that in most cases these drugswork no better than a placebo and can also have serious side effects.

One of the ways exercise promotes mental health is by normalizing insulin resistance and boosting natural “feel good” hormones and neurotransmitters associated with mood control, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA.

Swedish researchers3 have also teased out the mechanism by which exercise helps reduce stress and related depression. As it turns out, mice with well-trained muscles have higher levels of an enzyme that helps metabolize a stress chemical called kynurenine.

Their finding suggests that exercising your muscles actually helps rid your body of stress chemicals that can lead to depression. According to the authors:4

 “Our initial research hypothesis was that trained muscle would produce a substance with beneficial effects on the brain. We actually found the opposite: well-trained muscle produces an enzyme that purges the body of harmful substances. So in this context the muscle’s function is reminiscent of that of the kidney or the liver.”

Recent research has also shown the clear links between inactivity and depression. Women who sat for more than seven hours a day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sat for four hours or less per day. Those who didn’t participate in any physical activity at all had a99 percent higher risk of developing depression than women who exercised.

To Boost Creativity, Get Moving!

As noted in the featured article, exercise can also boost your creativity, and help you come up with new solutions to problems. For example, researchers at Stanford University found that walking can increase creativity up to 60 percent.5,6 Even a casual stroll around your office can be helpful.

According to the authors:7

“Four experiments demonstrate that walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after… Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

Exercise Boosts Brain Growth and Regeneration

As mentioned earlier, fascinating research shows that your brain is capable of rejuvenating and regenerating itself throughout your life. This information is completely contrary to what I was taught in medical school. At that time, it was believed that once neurons die, there’s nothing you can do about it. Hence deterioration and progressive memory decline was considered a more or less inevitable part of aging. Fortunately, that’s simply not true.

According to John J. Ratey, a psychiatrist who wrote the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, there’s overwhelming evidence that exercise produces large cognitive gains and helps fight dementia. The featured article cites research8 showing that those who exercise have a greater volume of gray matter in the hippocampal region of their brains, which is important for memory. According to the authors:

“After controlling for age, gender, and total brain volume, total minutes of weekly exercise correlated significantly with volume of the right hippocampus. Findings highlight the relationship between regular physical exercise and brain structure during early to middle adulthood.”

Exercise also prevents age-related shrinkage of your brain, preserving both gray and white matter in your frontal, temporal, and parietal cortexes, thereby preventing cognitive deterioration.9,10 The authors stated that:

“These results suggest that cardiovascular fitness is associated with the sparing of brain tissue in aging humans. Furthermore, these results suggest a strong biological basis for the role of aerobic fitness in maintaining and enhancing central nervous system health and cognitive functioning in older adults.”

Similar findings have been found by other scientists. For example, one observational study11 that followed more than 600 seniors, starting at age 70, found that those who engaged in the most physical exercise showed the least amount of brain shrinkage over a follow-up period of three years.

How Does Exercise Affect Brain Power?

One of the mechanisms by which your brain benefits from physical exercise is via a protein called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Exercise initially stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5, which in turn triggers the production of BDNF. BDNF is a remarkable rejuvenator in several respects. In your brain, BDNF not only preserves existing brain cells,12 it also activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and effectively makes your brain grow larger.

Research13 confirming this includes a study by Kirk Erickson, PhD, in which seniors aged 60 to 80 who walked 30 to 45 minutes, three days per week for one year, increased the volume of their hippocampus by two percent. The hippocampus is a region of your brain important for memory. Erickson told WebMD:14

“Generally in this age range, people are losing one to three percent per year of hippocampal volume. The changes in the size of the hippocampus were correlated with changes in the blood levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).”

Erickson also found that higher fitness levels were associated with a larger prefrontal cortex. He called exercise “one of the most promising non-pharmaceutical treatments to improve brain health.” Two additional mechanisms by which exercise protects and boosts your brain health include the following:

  • Reducing plaque formation: By altering the way damaging proteins reside inside your brain, exercise may help slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In one animal study,15 significantly fewer damaging plaques and fewer bits of beta-amyloid peptides, associated with Alzheimer’s, were found in mice that exercised.
  • Decreasing BMP and boosting Noggin: Bone-morphogenetic protein (BMP) slows down the creation of new neurons, thereby reducing neurogenesis. If you have high levels of BMP, your brain grows slower and less nimble. Exercise reduces the impact of BMP, so that your adult stem cells can continue performing their vital functions of keeping your brain agile.In animal research,16,17 mice with access to running wheels reduced the BMP in their brains by half in just one week. In addition, they also had a notable increase in another brain protein called Noggin, which acts as a BMP antagonist. So, exercise not only reduces the detrimental effects of BMP, it simultaneously boosts the more beneficial Noggin as well. This complex interplay between BMP and Noggin appears to be yet another powerful factor that helps ensure the proliferation and youthfulness of your neurons.

Exercise Prevents Both Brain and Muscle Decay

Showing the interconnectedness between muscle and brain health, BDNF also expresses itself in the neuro-muscular system where it protects neuro-motors from degradation. The neuromotor is the most critical element in your muscle. Without the neuromotor, your muscle is like an engine without ignition. Neuro-motor degradation is part of the process that explains age-related muscle atrophy.

So BDNF is actively involved in both your muscles and your brain, and this cross-connection appears to be a major part of the explanation for why a physical workout can have such a beneficial impact on your brain tissue. It, quite literally, helps prevent, and even reverse, brain decay as much as it prevents and reverses age-related muscle decay. The most important message from studies like these is that mental decline is by no means inevitable, and that exercise is as good for your brain as it is for the rest of your body.

Diet and Fasting Also Plays a Role

Interestingly, fasting and exercise trigger very similar genes and growth factors that recycle and rejuvenate both your brain and muscle tissues. These growth factors include BDNF and muscle regulatory factors (MRFs). These growth factors signal brain stem cells and muscle satellite cells to convert into new neurons and new muscle cells respectively. This also helps explain why exercise while fasting can help keep your brain, neuro-motors, and muscle fibers biologically young.

For more information on how to incorporate intermittent fasting into your exercise routine for maximum benefits, please see my previous article, “High-Intensity Interval Training and Intermittent Fasting – A Winning Combo.” Besides the issue of when you eat, what you eat is of great importance. Sugar suppresses BDNF, which helps explain why a low-sugar diet in combination with regular exercise is so effective for protecting memory and staving off depression. Sugar, and fructose in particular, will also obliterate your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH) when consumed within two hours after a workout, and HGH production is a major benefit of high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Exercise Can Help Keep You Sharp Well Into Old Age

While it’s never too late to start exercising, the earlier you begin and the more consistent you are, the greater your long-term rewards. Having an active lifestyle is really an investment in your future well-being, both physically and mentally. I believe that, overall, high-intensity interval training really helps maximize the health benefits of exercise, while simultaneously being the most efficient and therefore requiring the least amount of time. That said, ideally you’ll want to strive for a varied and well-rounded fitness program that incorporates a wide variety of exercises.

I also strongly recommend avoiding sitting as much as possible, and making it a point to walk more every day. A fitness tracker can be very helpful for this. I suggest aiming for 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day, in addition to your regular fitness regimen, not in lieu of it. The science is really clear on this point: you do not have to lose your mind with advancing age. Your brain has the capacity to regenerate and grow throughout the entire human lifespan, and exercise is perhaps the most potent way to ensure your brain’s continued growth and rejuvenation.

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Advances in Understanding of Depression Offers New Hope

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By Dr. Mercola

Depression is thought to affect about one in 10 Americans.1 In 2010, antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed type of medication in the US,2 hinting at the severity of the problem.

Contrary to popular belief, depression is not likely caused by unbalanced brain chemicals; however there are a number of other biological factors that appear to be highly significant. Chronic inflammation is one. As noted in the featured article:3

“George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, has spent years studying depression, and has come to the conclusion that it has as much to do with the body as the mind.

‘I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition anymore,’ he says. ‘It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.’

The basis of this new view is blindingly obvious once it is pointed out: everyone feels miserable when they are ill. That feeling of being too tired, bored and fed up to move off the sofa and get on with life is known among psychologists as sickness behaviour.

It happens for a good reason, helping us avoid doing more damage or spreading an infection any further. It also looks a lot like depression.”

One researcher even goes so far as to suggest depression should be rebranded as an infectious but non-contagious disease,4 while the author of the featured article playfully compares depression with an allergic reaction—in this case “an allergy to modern life”—considering the many environmental factors that are known to cause inflammation, from diet to toxic exposures and stress.

Scientists have also found that your mental health can be adversely impacted by factors such as vitamin D deficiency and/or unbalanced gut flora—both of which, incidentally, play a role in keeping inflammation in check, which is really what the remedy to depression is all about.

Inflammation and Depression

As discussed in an article by Dr. Kelly Brogan, depressive symptoms can be viewed as downstream manifestations of inflammation.

“The source itself may be singularly or multiply-focused as stress, dietary and toxic exposures, and infection… [I]nflammation appears to be a highly relevant determinant of depressive symptoms such as flat mood, slowed thinking, avoidance, alterations in perception, and metabolic changes,5she writes.

Certain biomarkers, such as cytokines in your blood and inflammatory messengers like CRP, IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha, show promise as potential new diagnostic tools, as they’re “predictive6 and linearly7 correlative” with depression.

For example, researchers have found8 that melancholic depression, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression, are associated with elevated levels of cytokines in combination with decreased cortisol sensitivity (cortisol is both a stress hormone and a buffer against inflammation). As explained by Dr. Brogan:

“Once triggered in the body, these inflammatory agents transfer information to the nervous system, typically through stimulation of major nerves such as the vagus, which connects9 the gut and brain. Specialized cells called microglia in the brain represent the brain’s immune hubs and are activated in inflammatory states.

In activated microglia, an enzyme called IDO (indoleamine 2 3-dioxygenase) has been shown10 to direct tryptophan away from the production of serotonin and melatonin and towards the production of an NMDA agonist called quinolinic acid that may be responsible for symptoms of anxiety and agitation.

These are just some of the changes that may conspire to let your brain in on what your body may know is wrong.”

Using Brain Scans to Help Choose Treatment Type

Speaking of biomarkers, research11 by Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, may also pave the way toward a more refined and customized treatment plan. Her research is discussed in the video above.

Dr. Mayberg has identified a biomarker in the brain that can be used to predict whether a depressed patient is a good candidate for medication, or might be better off with psychotherapy. As noted by the New York Times:12

“Patients who had low activity in a brain region called the anterior insula measured before treatment responded quite well to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT} but poorly to Lexapro; conversely, those with high activity in this region had an excellent response to Lexapro, but did poorly with CBT….

[T]he insula is centrally involved in the capacity for emotional self-awareness, cognitive control and decision making, all of which are impaired by depression. Perhaps cognitive behavior therapy has a more powerful effect than an antidepressant in patients with an underactive insula because it teaches patients to control their emotionally disturbing thoughts in a way that an antidepressant cannot.”

The Links Between Gut and Mental Health

A number of studies have confirmed that gastrointestinal inflammation specifically can play a critical role in the development of depression, suggesting that beneficial bacteria (probiotics) may be an important part of treatment. For example, a Hungarian scientific review13 published in 2011 made the following observations:

  1. Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases as well as with cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes and also cancer, in which chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor.Thus researchers suggested “depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome.”
  2. An increasing number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammation with probiotics, vitamin B, vitamin D, may also improve depression symptoms and quality of life by attenuating pro-inflammatory stimuli to your brain.
  3. Research suggests the primary cause of inflammation may be dysfunction of the “gut-brain axis.”

Your gut is literally your second brain — created from the identical tissue as your brain during gestation — and contains higher levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with mood control.

It’s important to understand that your gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of serotonin regulation and actually produce more serotonin than your brain. Optimizing your gut flora is a key part of the equation to optimize your levels. If you consume loads of processed foods and sugars, your gut bacteria will be severely compromised because processed foods tend to decimate healthy microflora. This leaves a void that is filled by disease-causing bacteria and yeast and fungi that will promote inflammation and decrease the health of your second brain.

Low-Sugar Diet Is an Important Anti-Depressant Tool

Besides distorting your microflora, sugar also triggers a cascade of other chemical reactions in your body known to promote both chronic inflammation and depression. For starters, excessive sugar consumption leads to elevated insulin levels. That can have a detrimental impact on your mood and mental health by causing higher levels of glutamate to be secreted in your brain, which has been linked to agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Sugar suppresses activity of a key growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) which promotes healthy brain neurons. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, which animal models suggest might actually be causative.

Cultured and fermented foods, on the other hand, help reseed your gut with a wide variety of healthy bacteria that promote mental and physical health as long as your keep your sugar and processed food intake low. For instance, one 2011 study14found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus has a marked effect on GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowers the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.  So the three-prong dietary answer for treating depression is to:

  1. Severely limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains, as all forms of sugar feed pathogenic bacteria in your gut. The easiest way to do this is to avoid processed foods, and start cooking from scratch using whole ingredients. As a standard recommendation, I suggest limiting your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.
  2. Avoid foods with genetically engineered ingredients, as they too have been implicated in the destruction of gut flora, along with promoting chronic inflammation. Keep in mind that conventionally-grown foods may also be contaminated with glyphosate, which has been found to selectively destroy beneficial, health-promoting gut bacteria, so ideally, you’ll want to make sure as much of your food as possible is organically grown to avoid pesticide exposure.
  3. Introduce fermented foods into your diet to rebalance your gut flora.

Beware that your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to and can be harmed by the following, all of which should be avoided:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotic supplement) Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plus genetically engineered grains
Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Antibacterial soap

Vitamin D Deficiency Predisposes You to Depression

Vitamin D deficiency is another important biological factor that can play a significant role in mental health. In one 2006 study,15 seniors with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those with higher levels. It’s worth noting that the mean vitamin D level was just under 19 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state. In fact, 58 percent of the participants had levels below 20 ng/ml. A 2007 study16 suggested that vitamin D deficiency is responsible for symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with fibromyalgia. Vitamin D deficiency is also a well-recognized cause in Seasonal Affective Disorder17 (SAD). A double-blind randomized trial18 published in 2008 also concluded that:

It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.”

More recently, researchers19 found that seniors with depression had vitamin D levels that were 14 percent lower than those who were not depressed. Here, those with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml had an 85 percent increased risk of depression, compared to those with levels above 30 ng/ml. Yet another paper20 published in 2011 noted that:

Effective detection and treatment of inadequate vitamin D levels in persons with depression and other mental disorders may be an easy and cost-effective therapy which could improve patients’ long-term health outcomes as well as their quality of life.”

Based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general physical and mental health appears to be somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml. So, if you’re depressed, you’d be well advised to get your vitamin D level checked, and to address any insufficiency or deficiency. The D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth is one cost effective testing solution. As for optimizing your levels, sensible sun exposure is the ideal way. Alternatively, use a tanning bed with an electronic ballast, and/or an oral vitamin D3 supplement.  GrassrootsHealth has a helpful chart showing the average adult dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. Keep in mind that if you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to take vitamin K2 and magnesium, as these nutrients work in tandem.

vitamin d levels

There Are Many Alternatives to Drug Treatment

Antidepressant drugs come with a long laundry list of risks, and are therefore best left as a last resort, if all else fails. Medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker has detailed the many drawbacks and benefits of various treatments in his two books: Mad in America, and Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, noting that physical exercise actually comes out on top in most studies—even when compared against antidepressant drugs.

Exercise primarily works by helping to normalize your insulin levels while simultaneously boosting “feel good” hormones in your brain. But researchers have also discovered that exercise allows your body to eliminate kynurenine, a harmful protein associated with depression.21 And, again showing the link between inflammation and depression, your body metabolizes kynurenine in the first place via a process that is activated by stress and inflammatory factors… While I addressed several dietary factors to restore health to your gut, I also recommend supplementing your diet with a high quality animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil. This may be the single most important nutrient for optimal brain function, thereby easing symptoms of depression. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also contribute to depression, and affects one in four people.

Last but not least, make sure you get enough sleep. The link between depression and lack of sleep is well established. Of the approximately 18 million Americans with depression, more than half of them struggle with insomnia. While it was long thought that insomnia was a symptom of depression, it now seems that insomnia may precede depression in some cases.22 Recent research also found that sleep therapy resulted in remarkable improvements in depressed patients. The take-home message here is that one or more lifestyle factors may be at the heart of your depression, so you’d be well advised to address the factors discussed in this article before resorting to drug treatment—which science has shown is no more effective than placebo, while being fraught with potentially dangerous side effects.

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Corn Syrup Is More Toxic Than Refined Sugar, Researchers Conclude

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By Dr. Mercola

Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism.

He’s become quite well-known in recent years for stating that excessive amounts of sugar in your diet has toxic effects. He’s also pointed out that processed fructose is far worse, from a metabolic standpoint, than refined sugar.

Now, new research1,2 from the University of Utah confirms Dr. Lustig’s stance, showing that corn syrup is more toxic to female mice than table sugar. Not only did corn syrup adversely impact the animals’ rate of reproduction, it also caused premature death.

From a chemical standpoint, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is similar to table sugar, but it does contain higher levels of fructose.

Manufacturers have long claimed that HFCS contains at most 55 percent fructose (and 45 percent glucose). This is very close to white sugar, which contains about 50 percent fructose (and 50 percent glucose).

That said, tests have revealed that the fructose level in HFCS can reach as high as 65 percent. It is this elevated fructose level is one piece of the explanation for why HFCS is so much worse for you than refined sugar.

Corn Syrup Found to Be More Toxic Than Table Sugar

According to senior author Wayne Potts,3 “this is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses.” As reported by Reuters:4

“The study showed that female mice fed a diet which contained 25 percent of calories from added fructose and glucose carbohydrates known as monosaccharides that are found in corn syrup died at a rate 1.87 times higher than female mice on a diet in which 25 percent of calories came from sucrose.

The mice on the fructose-glucose diet produced 26.4 percent fewer offspring than their counterparts on the diet containing added table sugar…

The study suggests humans, especially women, could face adverse health effects tied to consuming too much corn syrup, which is found in many processed food products…

Between 13 and 25 percent of Americans are estimated to eat diets containing 25 percent or more of calories from added sugars, according to the paper.”

According to the authors of this paper, 42 percent of the added sugar found in the US diet comes from corn syrup; 44 percent comes from sucrose. The remaining 14 percent of added sugars are in the form of natural sweeteners such as honey, molasses, and fruit. .

Worldwide however, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) accounts for only eight percent of added sugar consumption, so Americans are far more likely to consume excessive amounts of HFCS than many other nationalities, and our disease statistics tend to mirror that as well.

High fructose consumption is in fact a primary contributor to most chronic disease states, starting with insulin resistance, which can then progress into related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.

Heart Failure Patients with High Blood Sugar Have Higher Risk of Early Death

In related news,5 researchers claim that testing blood sugar levels of patients suffering heart failure can help identify those at greatest risk of death. According to the study’s lead author Dr. Douglas Lee:6

“Our findings suggest that the measurement of blood sugar levels in all patients arriving at emergency departments with acute heart failure could provide doctors with useful prognostic information and could help to improve outcomes in these patients.

Among patients without pre-existing diabetes, the majority (51 percent) had blood glucose levels on arrival at hospital that were within ‘normal’ limits but greater than 6.1 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) [110 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)].”

Among non-diabetics, the risk of death within one month of their heart failure was 26 percent higher among those with even slightly elevated blood sugar levels, compared to patients whose blood sugar levels were in the low-normal range.

Those with blood sugar levels nearing the criteria for diabetes had a 50 percenthigher risk of death within the month following their heart failure. Elevated blood sugar levels were also associated with a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

American Agricultural Policies Promote High Disease Rates

There’s a common belief that healthy food is inherently more expensive, and thus can only be for the wealthy. But healthy food could easily be more affordable for everyone, were it not for agribusiness CEOs, their lobbyists, and the politicians in their pockets.

Both corn and sugar beet crops are heavily subsidized in the US. The reason why buying a loaf of processed white bread is cheaper than buying a pound of broccoli is directly related to agricultural subsidies, which favor all the ingredients that make up a junk food diet.

As noted by Business Insider,7 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) spends nearly $1.3 billion a year on subsidies for our most commonly used junk food ingredients, including corn, wheat, soy, and sugar beets.

Sugar used to be a condiment; now it’s a diet staple. According to SugarScience.org, added sugars hide in 74 percent of processed foods under more than 60 different names.8

If subsidies were really based on nutritional value, then neither corn nor sugar beets would fit the bill… As it stands, agricultural subsidies are used to grown ingredients that form the very foundation of a junk food diet.

US Sugar Industry Enjoys a Particularly Sweet Deal…

Interestingly enough, processed food could be even cheaper than it already is. Not that this would necessarily be a positive thing, but it highlights the fact that processed junk foods are a real profit center—both for food industry and our politicians.

According to University of Michigan–Flint economist Mark J. Perry,9 US policies such as minimum price guarantees for domestic sugar, along with high tariffs for imported sugar, ends up costing American consumers about $3 billion per year in inflated processed food prices. As noted in a recent article by Reason Magazine:10

“Taking candy from a baby is easy. Taking sugar from a senator? Not so much… [I]t’s not just the nation’s 3,913 sugar beet farms and 666 sugarcane farms that crave the sugar program’s artificially sweetened revenues. The program also persists because it offers a steady source of money to elected officials.

In a June 2014 report, Bryan Riley, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, noted that while sugar constitutes just two percent of the total value of US crop production, the nation’s sugar farmers account for 35 percent of the crop industry’s total campaign contributions and 40 percent of its lobbying expenditures.

Over the years, major sugar companies such as American Crystal Sugar and Florida Crystals have donated millions of dollars to individual candidates and political action committees. According to OpenSecrets.org, the industry as a whole has donated $41.7 million since 1990.”

Processed foods have become such major profit centers, food manufacturers have absolutely no incentive to switch to selling whole, unadulterated foods. I believe our food system can be changed, but only if enough people understand the simple truths of healthy eating and refuse to buy sugar-laden processed foods. Four years ago, Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard-affiliated pediatrician, wrote a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),11 offering concrete suggestions to turn this disease-producing diet trend around, such as:

  • Restructuring subsidies
  • Regulating the marketing of food to children
  • Adequately funding school lunch programs
  • Using existing and future technologies to allow the food industry to retain profits while producing more healthful products

Those are all good suggestions, but while politicians debate and search for their moral compasses, I would suggest doing your own homework and changing your own diet.

Do You Know How Much Sugar You Consume Every Day?

We’ve long acknowledged that the Western diet is associated with increased rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer. Yet the conventional paradigm is extremely reluctant to accept that it is the sugar content of this diet that is the primary culprit. Doctors and health officials alike are still trying to convince you that you can have your cake and eat it too, as long as it’s “in moderation.”

The crux of the problem is that if you eat a diet consisting primarily of processed foods, moderation immediately goes out the window, because virtually all processed food items contain some form of added sugar. Oftentimes, just ONE food item can contain an entire day’s worth of sugar!

Sweetened beverages may be among the worst culprits. Take Vitamin Water, for example. One 20 oz bottle contains around 30 grams of sugar,12 which equates to THREE Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts. That one bottle alone is also TWICE the daily recommended fructose allowance for people with insulin resistance, and it’s five grams over the limit for non-insulin resistant folks! On average, sugar makes up 15 percent of total calories consumed in the US (about 19.5 teaspoons per day), and your liver, which processes sugar, simply cannot handle that kind of burden.

When you overload your liver in this way, you inevitably end up with chronic metabolic disease. According to available data, the safety threshold for sugar appears to be around six to nine teaspoons (25-38 grams) of added sugar per day. Any more that, and you’re setting yourself up for an insulin resistance. And again, processed fructose tends to cause more severe metabolic dysfunction than regular sugar, in part because it’s more readily metabolized into fat than any other sugar.

The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance in turn progresses to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The metabolism of fructose by your liver also creates a number of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.

To Avoid Chronic Disease, Be Mindful of Your Fructose Consumption

Mounting evidence clearly shows that refined sugar and processed fructose are primary factors causing obesity and chronic disease, including heart and cardiovascular disease. A paper by Yang, et al, published in JAMA Internal Medicine last year looked at consumption of added sugar over two decades, as a percentage of total calories, concluding that it significantly contributed to cardiovascular deaths. People who consumed 30 percent of their daily calories as added sugar (like many teenagers are) had a four-fold greater risk of dying from heart disease.

The evidence is quite clear: If you want to normalize your weight, and dramatically reduce your risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, you need to address your processed food consumption. Refined sugar, processed fructose, grains, and other sugar-forming starchy carbohydrates are largely responsible for your body’s adverse insulin and leptin reactions, which underlie these and other chronic disease states.

If you’re insulin/leptin resistant, have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or are overweight, you’d be wise to limit your total sugar/fructose intake to 15 grams per day until your insulin/leptin resistance has resolved. This applies to at least half of all Americans. For all others, I recommend limiting your daily fructose consumption to 25 grams or less, to maintain optimal health. The easiest way to accomplish this is by swapping processed foods for whole, ideally organic foods. This means cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients. My free nutrition plan offers a step-by-step guide to feed your family right.

Healthy Diet Summary

Remember, processed foods are the main source of all the primary disease-promoting culprits, including high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, processed grains, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and other synthetic additives that may aggravate metabolic dysfunction. Since you’re cutting out a lot of energy (carbs) from your diet when you reduce sugars and grains, you need to replace them with something. The ideal replacement is a combination of:

  • High quality healthy fat (including saturated13 and monounsaturated). Those with insulin resistance benefit from upwards of 50-85 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fats. Good sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats. (Remember, fat is high in calories while being small in terms of volume. So when you look at your plate, the largest portion would be vegetables.)
  • As many non-starchy vegetables as you want
  • Low-to-moderate amount of high quality protein. Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. When selecting animal-based protein, be sure to opt for organically raised, grass-fed or pastured meats, eggs, and dairy, to avoid potential health complications caused by genetically engineered animal feed and pesticides.

Most Americans eat far too much protein, so be mindful of the amount. I believe it is the rare person who really needs more than one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Those that are aggressively exercising or competing and pregnant women will need about 25 percent more, but most people rarely need more than 40-70 grams of protein a day.

To determine your lean body mass, find out your percent body fat and subtract from 100. This means that if you have 20 percent body fat, you have 80 percent lean body mass. Just multiply that by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. To determine whether you’re getting too much protein, simply calculate your lean body mass as described above, then write down everything you’re eating for a few days, and calculate the amount of daily protein from all sources.

Again, you’re aiming for one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, which would place most people in the range of 40 to 70 grams of protein per day. If you’re currently averaging a lot more than that, adjust downward accordingly. You could use the chart below or simply Google the food you want to know and you will quickly find the grams of protein in the food.

Red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood average 6-9 grams of protein per ounce.An ideal amount for most people would be a 3 ounce serving of meat or seafood (not 9 or 12 ounce steaks!), which will provide about 18-27 grams of protein Eggs contain about 6-8 grams of protein per egg. So an omelet made from two eggs would give you about 12-16 grams of protein.If you add cheese, you need to calculate that protein in as well (check the label of your cheese)
Seeds and nuts contain on average 4-8 grams of protein per quarter cup Cooked beans average about 7-8 grams per half cup
Cooked grains average 5-7 grams per cup Most vegetables contain about 1-2 grams of protein per ounce
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How Avocado Can Help Improve Your Cholesterol, Heart, and Brain Health

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By Dr. Mercola

Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy, while being low in fructose. Not surprisingly, improved weight management1,2 is one of the health benefits of avocado consumption, and its high-fat, low-sugar content is likely a key factor contributing to this effect.

Research3 has also found that avocados are helpful for regulating your blood sugar levels. This is an important benefit for most people, considering that one in four American are either diabetic or pre-diabetic.

According to the California Avocado Commission, a medium Hass avocado contains about 22.5 grams of fat, two-thirds of which is monounsaturated. They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamin E
  • B-vitamins
  • Folic acid
  • Potassium (more than twice the amount found in a banana), which can help balance your  vitally important potassium to sodium ratio

Due to its beneficial raw fat content, avocado enables your body to more efficiently absorb fat-soluble nutrients (such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein) in other foods eaten in conjunction.

One 2005 study4 found that adding avocado to salad allowed the volunteers to absorb three to five times more carotenoids antioxidant molecules, which help protect your body against free radical damage.

An Avocado a Day May Help Lower Bad Cholesterol

Previous research has suggested that avocados might help improve lipid profiles, both in healthy individuals and in those with mild hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol levels).

In one such study,5 healthy individuals saw a 16 percent decrease of serum total cholesterol level following a one-week long diet high in monounsaturated fat from avocados.

In those with elevated cholesterol levels, the avocado diet resulted in a 17 percent decrease of serum total cholesterol, and a 22 percent decrease of both LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, along with an 11 percent increase of the so-called “good” HDL cholesterol.

More recently, researchers at Pennsylvania State University tested three different cholesterol-reducing diets, to assess and compare their effectiveness.6,7,8 Forty-five overweight participants were enrolled in the study, and were assigned to follow one of the tree diets:

  1. Low-fat diet, where saturated fats were substituted for more carbohydrates, including plenty of fruit and whole grains
  2. Moderate-fat diet (without avocado), where saturated fats were substituted with monounsaturated fats in the form of canola and sunflower oil. About 34 percent of daily calories came from fat, but aside from that, it was very similar to the low-fat diet, which included poultry and low amounts of red meat
  3. Moderate-fat diet with avocado. Aside from including one whole Hass avocado per day, this diet was identical to the other moderate-fat diet, and the overall fat ratio was the same

The results, reported by the NPR,9 “surprised” the researchers:

“At the end of the study, the researchers found that the avocado diet led to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, compared with the other two diets.

To put the difference in perspective, the avocado diet decreased LDL cholesterol about 14 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Compare that with a decrease of about 7 mg/dL for the low-fat diet, and about a 8 mg/dl drop from the moderate-fat diet.

“I was surprised to see the added benefit [of the avocado],” Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition scientist at Penn State and the lead author of the study, tells us.” It’s something in the avocado” other than just the fat composition, she says.”

All Fats Are Not Created Equal

It’s worth noting that canola and other vegetable oils (used in the moderate-fat diets in the featured study) are typically hydrogenated, which  means they contain trans fats, and trans fats wreak havoc on your heart and cardiovascular health. So I for one am not surprised at the results of this study.

Previous research10 has actually shown that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (found in soybean, corn, and safflower oil) leads to increased small, high-density LDL particles, increased oxidized LDL, and reduced HDL.

Research has confirmed that large LDL particles do not contribute to heart disease. The small, dense LDL particles, however, do contribute to the build-up of plaque in your arteries, and trans fat increases small, dense LDL. (Saturated fat, on the other hand, increases large, fluffy—and benign—LDL.)

Research has also shown that small, dense LDL particles are increased by eating refined sugar and carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, and most processed foods. Together, trans fats and refined carbs do far more harm than saturated fat ever possibly could. One tool designed to help you eliminate trans fats are the Naturally Savvy Get Healthy Challenges that I helped create.

A Note on the DASH Diet…

On a brief side note: In the CBS video above, they also make mention of the DASH diet, which has been found to lower blood pressure by as much as five points, rivaling the effects of blood pressure lowering medications.

The DASH diet is quite similar to the Mediterranean diet, promoting the consumption of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, and recommends avoiding sugars, red meat, and salt.

Many believe that the low-sodium is responsible for its success. However, there’s compelling evidence suggesting that the real reasons it works so well for both hypertension and weight loss is because it increases potassium and restricts your intake of fructose—as does the Mediterranean diet.

Fructose is actually a far more important factor than salt when it comes to hypertension. The connecting link between fructose consumption and hypertension lies in the uric acid produced. Uric acid is a byproduct of fructose metabolism, and increased uric acid levels drive up your blood pressure.

Now, when you reduce sugar in your diet (from sources such as added sugars, processed fructose, grains of all kinds, and processed foods), you need to increase the amount of healthy fat. And avocado is an excellent choice to bolster your fat consumption and overall nutrition.

I have been consuming an avocado daily for the last several years. On most days, I will add a whole avocado to my salad, which I eat for lunch. This increases my healthy fat and calorie intake without seriously increasing my protein or carbohydrate intake. You can also add about ¼ to 1/3 of an avocado as a healthy banana substitute when making smoothies or your protein shake.

Avocado Benefits Your Heart and Brain

Besides its beneficial influence on your cholesterol, avocados have also been found to provide other heart-healthy benefits. For example, one interesting 2012 study11 found that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a hamburger significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound Interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to eating a burger without fresh avocado.

Also, just like avocado does not raise your blood sugar levels, fresh avocado did not increase triglyceride levels beyond what was observed when eating the burger alone, despite the avocado supplying extra fat and calories. According to lead author David Heber, MD, PhD, the findings offer “promising clues” about avocado’s ability to benefit vascular function and heart health. Healthy fats are also vital for optimal brain function, and for the prevention of degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. As noted in a recent issue of Scientific American:12

“The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low carbohydrate diet, which unfortunately is relatively uncommon in human populations today,” reports David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain. “Mayo Clinic researchers showed that individuals favoring carbohydrates in their diets had a remarkable 89 percent increased risk for developing dementia as contrasted to those whose diets contained the most fat.

Having the highest levels of fat consumption was actually found to be associated with an incredible 44 percent reduction in risk for developing dementia.” …‘Good’ fats include monounsaturated fats, found abundantly in olive oil, peanut oil, hazelnuts, avocados and pumpkin seeds, and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6), which are found in flaxseed oil, chia seeds, marine algae oil and walnuts.”

To Maximize Benefits, Peel Your Avocado the Right Way

Interestingly, the manner in which you de-skin your avocado can affect how much of its valuable phytonutrients you get out of it. UCLA research has shown that the greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids, for example, is located in the dark green fruit closest to the inside of the peel. In 2010, the California Avocado Commission issued guidelines for getting the most out of your avocado by peeling it the right way.13 To preserve the area with the greatest concentration of antioxidants, you’re best off peeling the avocado with your hands, as you would a banana:

  1. First, cut the avocado length-wise, around the seed
  2. Holding each half, twist them in the opposite directions to separate them from the seed
  3. Remove the seed
  4. Cut each half, lengthwise
  5. Next, using your thumb and index finger, simply peel the skin off each piece

How to Get More Avocado into Your Diet

While avocado is commonly eaten raw, on salad or alone, there are many other ways to include avocado in your diet. Its creamy, mild flavor tends to go well with many foods, making it a refreshing and nutritious addition to various recipes. For example, you can use avocado:

  • As a fat replacement in baking. Simply replace the fat called for (such as oil, butter, or shortening) with an equal amount of avocado
  • As a first food for babies, in lieu of processed baby food
  • In soups. For examples, see Lucy Lock’s Chilled Mediterranean Soup, or her Raw Creamy Carrot Soup
  • As a banana substitute in smoothies or your protein shake

The California Avocado Commission’s website14 contains hundreds of unique recipes that include avocado. All in all, avocado may be one of the most beneficial superfoods out there, and may be particularly valuable if you’re struggling with insulin and leptin resistance, diabetes, or any other risk factors for heart disease. Last but not least, avocados are also one of the safest fruits you can buy conventionally-grown, as their thick skin protects the inner fruit from pesticides.

On top of that, avocados have been rated as one of the safest commercial crops in terms of pesticide application,15 so there’s no real need to spend extra money on organic avocados. I’ve had my own team test avocados from a variety of growers in different countries, sold in several major grocery stores, and they all tested free and clear of harmful chemicals. For more fun and interesting avocado facts, check out the following infographic.

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The Forgotten History of Vaccinations You Need to Be Aware Of

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By Dr. Mercola

Vaccines are one of the most controversial medical therapies, and it’s impossible to make an informed decision unless you know both sides of the story. In the process of knowing both sides, the historical context is critical.

Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,1 is a nephrologist who has committed the latter part of her medical career to exposing the “lost history” of vaccinations.

Barbara Loe Fisher of NVIC commented that this is one of the rare books that conducted in-depth research documenting the medical history related to mass vaccination programs and infectious diseases.

I have read the book from cover to cover and would strongly recommend that you pick up a copy if you have even the remotest interest in this topic, especially if you believe in the safety and necessity of vaccines, as the comprehensive documentation will likely cause you to reevaluate your position.

It is an absolutely fascinating read, and in some ways demonstrates that enforcement of vaccine programs could be far worse today, when compared to historical standards when people were imprisoned and even killed when they refused to comply.

I will likely reread the book again so I can be well armed to articulately express my concerns on why one needs to have serious reservations on the validity of vaccines, based on historical precedents.

Why This Book Was Written

Dr. Humphries’ interest in this area began in 2009, when several of her patients told her that they’d been perfectly healthy until they got one vaccine or another. Prior to this, she’d been, as she says, “agnostic” about vaccination.

“I had vaccinated my dialysis patients; I, myself, was vaccinated; and I pretty much believed what I was taught in medical school,” she says.

Then she started noticing that her patients were being ordered to get vaccinated on their first day of admission into the hospital—often when they had serious diseases: inflammatory diseases, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and one patient with cancer on chemotherapy.

“My patients were getting vaccinated on their first hospital day before I even saw them, and the order had my name on it,” she says. “This alerted me that there was something going on that I had not approved of.

I complained to the hospital administration about it. It was from resistance that I was met with that, ironically, led me into this path.”

Countering Vaccine Arguments Led to Startling Conclusions

The conventional paradigm states that vaccines are safe and effective, and can be given to virtually anybody regardless of how sick they are.

In order to address and counter the arguments she was given for this routine policy, she had to research vaccination, which led her to discover that there is absolutely nothing in the medical literature to support vaccinating an acutely ill person.

“At some point, they called in an expert to set me straight,” she says. “The arguments that I got from the experts still were not lining up with science.

My patients were acutely ill, they had inflammatory diseases, and I didn’t want them vaccinated. I was told that I was confusing the nursing staff by discontinuing vaccines in my patients. That was how it all started.”

Arguments often used by vaccine advocates include the oft-parroted sound byte that ‘diseases like smallpox and polio were eradicated by vaccination.’ Hence vaccines rank among the greatest medical interventions known.

As a result, she ended up researching smallpox and polio—even though it really had nothing to do with what was happening to her patients. Alas, this was when Dr. Humphries started coming to some really startling conclusions.

“In my research, I was startled [to realize] that what I found was completely counter to what I have been told and taught my entire life. I now don’t believe that smallpox vaccines eradicated smallpox. I now don’t believe that polio vaccines eradicated polio.

The stories are very twisted, long, and complicated, and the vaccines have changed over time. It’s really easy to kind of throw up smokescreens here and there and make whatever argument one might want to, because people are so ignorant and because the story is so complicated.”

The Story Behind the Smallpox Vaccine

Every vaccine has a story behind it, Dr. Humphries says. The smallpox vaccine, for example, was actually developed long before the medical establishment knew anything about the human immune system. The revelations on smallpox alone are fascinating enough to purchase this book, and is far more detailed than the summary in this article.

The vaccine was actually developed based on a rumor circulating among dairy maids. The rumor was that when a dairy maid had been infected with cowpox—which is a common infection on the udder of the cow—she would no longer be susceptible to smallpox.

The rumor was a persistent one, as rumors can be, despite the fact that there were plenty of dairy maids who developed smallpox after having cowpox. But this rumor is what led Edward Jenner to develop the first smallpox vaccine.

“Basically, it was made by scraping pus off the belly of a cow,” Dr. Humphries says. “Sometimes there was some goat genetic disease in there. There was horsepox mixed in there.

There was sometimes human pox mixed in and some glycerin. They would shake it up; they would take kind of a prong, and puncture the skin several times…

What I didn’t realize was that there were many people who developed serious smallpox disease and died after they were vaccinated. The severity of disease was often worse in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated.

There are statistics that show that the death rate was higher in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated.”

When the smallpox vaccine was developed, there was also no way to accurately diagnose the type of pox disease a person had. It may have been chickenpox, monkeypox, or smallpox, but back then, any kind of pox disease was considered smallpox—even though the vaccine didn’t actually have the human smallpox virus in it. Animal pox virus was always used. According to Dr. Humphries, it was the most contaminated vaccine that’s ever been on the market.

“If you look at a town like Leicester in England, that town was noticing that they had one of the highest vaccination rates in the vaccinated world and their smallpox breakout was higher than ever,” Dr. Humphries says“The people in the town had a rally. The mayor and some of the health officials were there. They all agreed that they were going to stop vaccinating… The result was quite different from the predictions.

The predictions were that there was going to be a bonfire of disease set upon the planet and that these people in Leicester were risking the health of the world by not making vaccination mandatory. But once they stopped smallpox vaccines they had the lowest rate of smallpox infection and deaths.

What we show in our book – and we show the graphs of the disease rates and the death rates – was that both of them went down precipitously after the vaccinations were stopped. That story right there tells you that vaccines were not what made the disease go away; what made the disease go away was isolation and sanitation.”

Smallpox Rate

Smallpox Deaths

Smallpox Vaccine

Antibody Is the Wrong Way to Ascertain Immunity

One of the major arguments against vaccine-induced immunity is that it primarily stimulates the humoral immune system and not the cellular immune system. Antibodies are produced by the humoral immune system and then routinely measured to determine “immunity.” The problem with this approach is that you can have high antibody levels and still get the disease. It’s very difficult and expensive to measure the cellular immune response, and immunologists admit that they are still in the dark about a lot of the finer points of the overall immune response.

When you use antibody titers or blood levels  to check for immunity, all you’re doing is getting a picture of what happened (you had an immune response); it doesn’t tell you whether you’re going to be immune in the future, because antibodies are only one aspect of the immune response, and in some cases are not even necessary to easily combat the sickness and become immune.

For example, those with agammaglobulinemia—a disease where you cannot make antibodies — can get infected with measles, recover uneventfully, and still respond to subsequent challenges of the virus in a normal healthy fashion and not get sick. These individuals will have lifelong immunity to measles, the same as someone without agammaglobulinemia.

Traditionally, the way immunity is determined is to do a test that measures antibodies, which is the humoral immune system. But there’s no good way to assess the cellular immune system. It’s a really imprecise science at best. As Dr. Humphries notes:

“It’s not only imprecise; sometimes it’s downright inaccurate. You can have very high antibody levels, like numerous case reports of people who have hugely high antibody levels for tetanus, or normal antibodies, and have gotten some of the worst cases of tetanus. I have papers that show that people without antibody for polio have actually been able to respond to the virus as if they were already immune. The antibody really is a real wrong roadmap to look at to tell what’s really going on. Sometimes there’s correlation, but it’s certainly not a given.”

The Story Behind the Polio Vaccine

The other prime argument for the justification and support of today’s highly aggressive vaccination program is the alleged success of the polio vaccine. But here again, the historical perspective fails to support the vaccination paradigm.

“The story behind polio is absolutely fascinating when you look at the politics that went on researching the vaccine, and how scientists were fired if they disagreed with the program going on through the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. That was the vaccine that Jonas Salk developed,” Dr. Humphries says.

Before the Salk vaccine became available, if you were admitted to the hospital any doctor could diagnose you with polio based on two physical examinations within 24 hours, to check for paralysis in one or more muscle groups. We now know that a number of viruses can cause paralysis, but back then, all instances were thought to be due to polio virus. When the polio vaccine was developed, a problem emerged. Swedish scientists were trying to tell the US scientists that formaldehyde inactivation was not going to work as planned.

Their warning, however, fell on deaf ears. This was unfortunate, as they turned out to be correct. Live poliovirus, which was put in an injectable vaccine, would appear to be inactivated right after it was made, but sometimes it would “resurrect” in the vial… In essence, the formaldehyde did not kill off all the polioviruses in these vaccines, which led to live polio viruses being injected. As a result, more people developed paralysis from the vaccine in 1955 than would have developed it from a wild, normal natural poliovirus.

Something had to be done to make it appear as though the vaccine was working. So what they did was change the diagnostic criteria for polio. Sadly this is a very common practice in medicine. When the observations don’t fit your expectations, change or rig the system so that they do. With polio, the original criteria was two examinations within 24 hours. This was changed to two examinations within 60 days. This was helpful in cooking the books, because within 60 days, most people recover from their bout with poliomyelitis.

“All those people who were formerly called polio were no longer categorized as polio because they recovered from their paralysis within that time,” Dr. Humphries explains.

Then there was the issue of testing. Prior to the vaccine, there was no testing done on blood or stool samples. After the vaccine came along, there was an epidemic in Michigan around 1958. About 2,000 people were diagnosed with polio. In disbelief over the outbreak, serological testing was done, and they discovered that the polio virus was found in only a small minority—about one-quarter of those who displayed symptoms of infection. Interestingly, in the remainder they discovered a different virus or no virus at all! And, subsequently, those patients were no longer “counted” as having polio.

“So simply by doing the diagnostic testing and changing the diagnostic criteria, the rates of polio plummeted, whether or not there was ever a vaccine. These were the kind of things that were going on back then,” Dr. Humphries says.

Oral Polio Vaccine Propagates Transmission of Vaccine Virus

It’s important to realize that the injected polio vaccine does nothing to prevent transmission of the virus, and after an oral polio vaccine you become a reservoir of virus that can mutate or combine with other bowel viruses, creating new strains that are often more virulent to those around you. According to Dr. Humphries, the only thing the injectable vaccine theoretically does is give you some blood immunity, similar to tetanus. This means it is only going to be effective if your blood meets the virus before the virus meets your nervous system.

Once vaccine makers realized just how difficult it was to inactivate the polio virus, and many people ended up contracting polio from the vaccine, they decided to abandon the injectable polio vaccine and create an oral vaccine instead, which is more similar to the natural route of infection. Again, controversy ensued. The oral vaccine did interrupt transmission of the wild type virus, but it propagated transmission of the vaccine virus instead.

“The fact of the matter is that you can attenuate a virus all you want, which means that you pass it through different animals to make it mutate enough that it’s not quite as lethal or virulent at some point. But once you put that vaccine or that virus back into its natural host, it mutates back to the way it was,” Dr. Humphries explains.

“You can give a baby an oral polio vaccine and it can be attenuated. But even in the vial, before you give it to that baby, those viruses are starting to revert back to their former problematic state. And then once the baby swallows that, the baby will generate some immunity in the intestine. But what’s going to come out of that baby is going to be mutated vaccine virus. Oftentimes this is problematic, especially in people who are immunosuppressed.”

In the 1990s the US quit using the oral vaccine, and switched back to the injectable vaccine. To address the hazards of injecting improperly or inadequately inactivated polio virus, certain adjustments to the formulation were made. Modern polio vaccines are propagated and inactivated differently from earlier versions, and different countries also use different strains of the polio virus. Older polio viruses used to contain three strains of the virus. Today, some countries will only use one or two.

Polio Was ‘Eradicated’ NOT by the Vaccine But Through Redefinition

As noted by Dr. Humphries, it’s very easy to defeat the polio vaccine argument, as most incidences of polio disappeared because the disease was redefined—not because there was an actual change in disease prevalence. In fact, it could be argued that the vaccine did more harm than good, since some versions caused polio, and others propagated new mutated strains of the virus. According to Dr. Humphries, at one point, the only polio cases in the US were vaccine-induced. Yet even though there are no cases of wild polio being discovered, the polio vaccine remains part of the US vaccine program…

“Even today, you can just go on to the CDC website and the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). You can see that cases of polio in this country by and large occur when people get the oral vaccine in another country and then come here. When they say that polio is only a plane ride away, the truth is that disease from polio vaccine is also a plane ride away… Like I said, the injected vaccines do not interrupt propagation of the virus. If somebody comes to this country who has recently had an oral polio vaccine and he’s shedding a highly virulent strain, people in this country can start passing it around.”

Polio Epidemic Historically Related to Increase in Sugar Consumption

Here’s another interesting tidbit that no one ever talks about: In the past, it has sometimes been suggested that a large part of the polio epidemic was related to increases in sugar consumption. Dr. Benjamin Sandler wrote an entire book about this, and Dr. Humphries refers to his work in her book as well. She explains the connection as follows:

“Polio’s an enterovirus [i.e. a virus that enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract and thrives there]. The integrity and the flora population in your bowel is extremely important when it comes to dealing with any kind of bowel infection. A diet that’s high in sugar is going to 1) impair your cell-mediated immune system and 2) trash your gut flora… [It was] shown that in populations who cut back on their sugar intake, the rates of polio plummeted… But it was so unbelievable that nobody really listened to him.

It was the same as when Dr. Frederick Klenner tried to say that he cured 100 percent of patients with intravenous vitamin C and [it] just didn’t register. The… low-sugar diet was very effective because of the effect it has on the immune system and on the bowel flora. The same with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT); DDT really trashes the bowel, the intestinal walls, and the flora…. Not only can DDT give you all the symptoms of polio all by itself, it can also make the poliovirus much more virulent and active in the body for the same reason: it disturbs the normal function of the bowel.”

DDT exposure has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s worth noting that the contemporary equivalent of DDT, glyphosate, according to Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, is far more toxic than DDT. It definitely has been shown to decimate your microbiome, and glyphosate preferentially kills bacteria known to be beneficial for human health.

‘You Cannot Dabble in the Topic of Vaccination’

Dr. Humphries left a successful practice making $300,000 a year to be a poorly paid researcher. For her it was worth it, because her integrity wouldn’t allow her to turn a blind eye to what she knew to be wrong.

“If you want to make these [vaccine] arguments, we have to have information and we have to have knowledge. We have to understand the history, the medical literature, the biology, the chemistry, the physiology, and the immunology. That is not easy. You cannot dabble in the topic of vaccination. If you do, you’re likely going to be toppled by the pro-vaccine lobby because they’re doing their homework.

I felt it was more important to do my homework and make these arguments that I wanted to make… I do lectures if people invite me. I have toured through Scandinavia. Our book has been translated into two different languages [Spanish and German]… Right now I’m really immersed in the topic of infant immunity because there is so much information that has just come out in the past few years that, in my opinion, turns the vaccine paradigm for infants completely on its head.

Instead of arguing about any particular vaccine, if you understand the way the infant immune system is designed, you can automatically see that if you were going to toss any kind of a vaccine in there, you might give them some short-term immunity, but you’re also going to change their immune systems so that it can’t function the way it was designed to function… The arguments against vaccines when you really understand the infant immune system I think are irrefutable.”

Science of Epigenetics Changes Everything Yet Again…

Epigenetics is another field where biology is being turned on its head and all the old paradigms are being tossed out. Epigenetic science now tells us that our genes are NOT our destiny, and the problem is that once you start to epigenetically tinker with the infant immune system, you are basically depositing what Dr. Humphries refers to as “little cluster bombs” that will eventually “explode into a big problem.” As an example, she cites a study by Nikolaj Orntoft, in which African girls were injected with a tetanus vaccine to see which genes might be upregulated or downregulated. What they found is that there’s really no way to predict which genes will be affected.

So not only will each individual have a unique response to any given vaccine, based on their current health status, we’re also epigenetically predisposed to respond differently in terms of the side effects we might develop. This means that having a vaccine compensation table for reimbursement for vaccine damage is nonsensical as we’re bound to have different genes upregulated after vaccines are given.

“We can have cancer genes upregulated, or autoimmune diseases upregulated. This has been shown in modern literature that used these highly sophisticated gene techniques to actually watch what happens after the vaccine is injected. I think this is really powerful information to show that, when vaccines started, they knew nothing about the immune system. Then scientists knew something about the immune system, but now we know about the genetics of the immune system and the epigenetics of the immune system, and that’s got to be taken into account…”

Most Doctors Are Completely Uninformed, Which Means You Cannot Make an Informed Choice

Dr. Humphries stresses the importance of “thinking long and hard” about how much information you’ve been given beforeyour child is given a vaccine.

“[Vaccines] can have tumorigenic kidney cells of a cocker spaniel in it. It can have human fetal cells with retroviruses. [It can have] aluminum, which is one of the most horrible things to inject into any sort of life form, especially into a muscle… Parents really need to know that their doctors are not informed and therefore they cannot give informed consent, and that they really need to think about it because you cannot unvaccinate.

The fear of, “Oh, what if my child gets a disease”—that’s where knowing the history is really important because what we’re talking about is under which conditions people become susceptible . That’s really more important than transmission. Because, yes, measles transmits very rapidly through the population, but it actually has a lot of benefits to the immune system—so much so that they’re using it to treat cancer today.”

We really need to understand each disease – what the risk of it is, how it’s transmitted, what the vaccine effectiveness is, and what the risks are. Dr. Humphries also notes that the human body is designed in such a perfect way that there is a system in place to handle just about anything that happens to it, provided we’ve treated our body properly.

“Babies who come into this world in a normal and natural way, who are breastfed for an appropriate amount of time, that’s the best protection you could ever give to your baby’s immune system or brain. Consider that when the fear starts to creep in. If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you’re already giving the most powerful thing on the planet that can be given to that baby,” she says.

More Information

People have been scared into believing vaccines are the answer to prevent disease, but when you look at the historical evidence, the arguments used simply fall apart. There’s just no question that improving your innate immune system—through reducing sugar and processed foods in your diet, improving your gut flora, leading a healthy lifestyle, and having adequate vitamin D levels, ideally through sensible sun exposure,—will provide a far more effective immune response and virtually eliminate any risk of developing a life threatening infection.

The key is to have the courage to trust in this truth—that your body is designed to maintain health. Its natural course and direction is to be healthy not sick. If you have a healthy lifestyle, exposure to nearly all of these infectious agents will ultimately make you healthy and stronger. This is similar to exercise, which actually tears your body down to make it stronger. Nature actually knows what it’s doing, whereas putting chemicals into your body based on human theories (or rumors!) that are oftentimes completely wrong, is unlikely to produce better results. As noted by Dr. Humphries:

“We have a highly profitable, lucrative religion that involves the government, industry, and academia. That religion is vaccination. People believe in vaccines. They’ll tell you, they believe in vaccines. But you ask them what they know about vaccines and it will be almost nothing. In fact the people who argue the loudest usually know the least when it comes to trying to convince you to take the vaccine. That’s been my experience.

Medical schools are bereft of information on the history of vaccination, on the contents of them, and the potential problems. We have the go-to doctors, like Dr. Paul Offit, teaching doctors how to talk to vaccine-refusing parents. We have doctors like Dr. Robert Jacobson putting out PowerPoint presentations to give to doctors, literally telling them to persuade the parents rather than to inform them…

Doctors are really being systematically brainwashed. Not only that, but if doctors do start to see problems… wake up to it; do their own research, and buck the system, they risk being treated the way I was. I was well respected through the entire state of Maine. People were referring their patients to me. My colleagues would come to me with their medical problems… But once I started to argue against the practice of vaccination, I was automatically tossed into the category of a quack…”

To learn more, I couldn’t more highly recommend Dr. Humphries excellent book, Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History, available in paper back and Kindle on Amazon. You can also find more information on the book’s website, dissolvingillusions.com.  I have read it cover to cover and plan on doing so again as there are loads of powerful information that helps combat the blindly foolish acceptance of nearly all media and professionals on the value of vaccinations.

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.

THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.

National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations, and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.

Signing up for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the “other side” of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn’t be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), atwww.NVIC.org:

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, and school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

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Documentary Film Explores the Enormous Price We Pay for Ignoring the Need for Sleep

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By Dr. Mercola

According to the documentary, Sleepless in America, coproduced by the National Geographic Channel, 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. Many get less than five hours of sleep per night. Percentage-wise, adolescents are among the most sleep deprived.

The consequences are dire, not just for the individual who isn’t getting enough rest, but for those around them as well. While most people don’t give lack of sleep much thought, there are in fact life-threatening consequences.

Notably, “experts now believe that sleep deprivation may have played a role in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Staten Island ferry crash, and the Three-Mile Island nuclear meltdown,” the film states. Countless people have also lost their lives to tired drivers who simply dozed off behind the wheel.

It’s important to realize that getting less than six hours of sleep each night leaves you cognitively impaired. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to health effects such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s,1and cancer. Depression and anxiety disorders are also adversely impacted by lack of sleep.

The Importance of Staying in Sync with Nature

Maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to sunlight during the day and darkness at night is one crucial foundational component of sleeping well.

This was addressed in a previous interview with researcher Dan Pardi. In it, he explains how exposure to bright daylight serves as the major synchronizer of your master clock—a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN).

These nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters your eye. You also have other biological clocks throughout your body that are synchronized to your master clock.

One reason why so many people get so little sleep, and/or such poor sleep, can be traced back to a master clock disruption. In short, most people spend their days indoors, shielded from bright daylight, and then spend their evenings in too-bright artificial light.

As a result, their body clocks get out of sync with the natural rhythm of daylight and nighttime darkness, and when that happens, restorative sleep becomes elusive.

An estimated 15 million Americans also work the night shift, and the adverse health effects of working nights are well documented. As just one example, three years of periodical night shift work can increase your risk for diabetes by 20 percent, and this risk continues to rise with time.

What Happens When You’re Sleep Deprived?

What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact oneaspect of your health… it impacts many. Among them are five major risks to your mental and physical well-being:

  1. Reaction time slows: When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re not going to react as quickly as you normally would, making driving or other potentially dangerous activities, like using power tools, risky. One study even found that sleepiness behind the wheel was nearly as dangerous as drinking and driving.2
  2. Your cognition suffers—both short- and long-term: A single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day. In one animal study,3 sleep deprived mice lost 25 percent of the neurons located in their locus coeruleus, a nucleus in the brainstem associated with cognitive processes.

Hence, if you’re sleep-deprived you will have trouble processing information and making decisions. This is why it’s so important to get a good night’s sleep prior to important events at work or home.

For example, research discussed in the film found that diagnostic mistakes shot up by 400 percent among doctors who had worked for 24 consecutive hours.

Sleep deprived medical residents also reported a 73 percent increase in self-inflicted needle sticks and scalpel stabs, and when driving home from work, they had a 170 percent increased risk of having a serious motor vehicle accident.

Research4 also suggests that people with chronic sleep problems may develop Alzheimer’s disease sooner than those who sleep well. One of the reasons for this is because sleep is critical for brain detoxification—a process during which harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer’s are cleared out.

  1. Memory and learning declines: The process of brain growth, orneuroplasticity, is believed to underlie your brain’s capacity to control behavior, including learning and memory. However, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important for synaptic plasticity.

Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened while you slumber.

  1. Emotions are heightened: As your reaction time and cognition slows, your emotions will be kicked into high gear. This means that arguments with co-workers or your spouse are likely, and you’re probably going to be at fault for blowing things out of proportion.

The amygdala controls basic emotions like fear and anger. As discussed in the film, another area of your brain called your frontal cortex, plays a key role in the regulation of emotions, and sleep is vital for its function.

When you’re well rested, your frontal cortex is nicely connected to your amygdala—that deep emotional center—and works almost like “a break to your emotional gas pedal.”

Sleep deprivation causes a disconnect between these two brain centers, allowing your emotions to run amok. Sleep deprivation also plays an important role in mental illness, and tends to result in more adverse psychiatric outcomes.

  1. Immune function and health deteriorates: Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,5 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.

For example, research shows that sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.6

You Need Around Eight Hours of Sleep Every Night

The studies are quite clear and most experts agree, you are seriously fooling yourself if you think you can do fine on less than eight hours of sleep. But eight hours of sleep is not eight hours in bed. If you go to bed at 10 pm and get out of bed at 6 am, you might say you’ve slept for eight hours. In reality, you probably spent at least 15-30 minutes falling asleep and may have woken during the night one or more times.

With the advent of fitness-tracking devices such as Jawbone’s UP, however, we now have access to actual sleep data (and more) from wristband users. The data is quite useful on a personal level and they helped me understand that I need to start getting to sleep around 9.30 PM if I hope to get a full eight hours of sleep, which I now typically do.

Newer devices, like Jawbone’s UP3 that should be released in early 2015, can even tell you what activities led to your best sleep and what factors resulted in poor sleep. It’s also fascinating on a larger scale, as the data reveal insights into sleep patterns from around the world.

The Glorification of Sleep Deprivation

According to the 2013 International Bedroom Poll by the National Sleep Foundation,7 25 percent of Americans report having to cut down on sleep due to long workdays. On average, Americans get only 6.5 hours of sleep on weeknights, but report needing 7.25 hours in order to function optimally. As noted in a previous article in The Atlantic:8

“For some, sleep loss is a badge of honor, a sign that they don’t require the eight-hour biological reset that the rest of us softies do. Others feel that keeping up with peers requires sacrifice at the personal level—and at least in the short-term, sleep is an invisible sacrifice.”

Modern man’s penchant for equating sleep with unproductiveness (if not outright laziness) can be traced back to the heyday of Thomas Edison, who was known for working around the clock. According to the featured article:9

“Edison spent considerable amounts of his own and his staff’s energy on in publicizing the idea that success depended in no small part in staying awake to stay ahead of the technological and economic competition.”  No one… did more to frame the issue as a simple choice between productive work and unproductive rest …

Over time, children’s books and magazines began to promote this type of Edisonian asceticism… Edison encouraged all Americans to follow his lead, claiming that sleeping eight hours a night was a waste and even harmful. “There is really no reason why men should go to bed at all,” he said in 1914.”

This culture of sleep deprivation started with the invention of the light bulb, and has only gotten worse with the proliferation of light-emitting electronics, which disrupt your natural waking-sleeping cycle. The following infographic, created by BigBrandBeds.co.uk, illustrates how your electronic gadgets wreak havoc on your sleep when used before bedtime.10

The Importance of Addressing Sleep Apnea

As discussed in the film, sleep apnea is another common cause of sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea is the inability to breathe properly, or the limitation of breath or breathing, during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea consists of the frequent collapse of the airway during sleep, making it difficult to breathe for periods lasting as long as 10 seconds. Those with a severe form of the disorder have at least 30 disruptions per hour. Not only do these breathing disruptions interfere with sleep, leaving you unusually tired the next day, it also reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can impair the function of internal organs and/or exacerbate other health conditions you may have.

The condition is closely linked to metabolic health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and according to research,11 even a modest weight reduction can halt the progression of obstructive sleep apnea. Shedding excess pounds might even cure it, according to one five-year long study.12 That said, you do not have to be obese to suffer from sleep apnea. As discussed by Dr. Arthur Strauss, a dental physician and a diplomat of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, factors such as the shape and size of your mouth, and the positioning of your tongue, can also play a significant role.

If your sleep apnea is related to your tongue or jaw position, specialty trained dentists can design a custom oral appliance to address the issue. These include mandibular repositioning devices, designed to shift your jaw forward, while others help hold your tongue forward without moving your jaw. Relief may also be found in the form of speech therapy treatment called oral myofunctional therapy, which helps to re-pattern your oral and facial muscles. For more information about this, please see my previous interview with Joy Moeller, who is a leading expert in this form of therapy in the US.

How to Support Your Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Better for Optimal Health

Making small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for all of the details, but to start, consider implementing the following changes to ensure more shut-eye:

  • Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 pm, and these devices emit light that may stifle that process. You can also download a free application called F.lux13 that automatically dims your monitor or screens in the evening, which can help lessen the adverse effects if you have to use them in the evening.
  • Get some sun in the morning, and at least 30 minutes of BRIGHT sun exposure mid-day. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night. Also, if you work indoors, make a point to get outdoors for at least a total of 30-60 minutes during the brightest portion of the day.
  • Sleep in a dark room. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your body’s clock and your pineal gland’s melatonin production. I recommend covering your windows with drapes or blackout shades, or using an eye mask.
  • Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their upstairs bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees F.
  • Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.
  • Avoid electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measureEMF levels in various areas of your home. Ideally, you should turn off any wireless router while you are sleeping. You don’t need the Internet on while you’re asleep.
  • Use a fitness tracker to track your sleep. Chances are you’re not getting nearly as much sleep as you think, and using a fitness tracker that monitors your sleep can be a useful tool to help motivate you to get to bed earlier so you can get eight hours of sleep. When I first started using a fitness tracker, I was striving to get 8 hours of sleep, but my Jawbone UP typically recorded me at 7.5 to 7.75. Part of the equation too is going to bed earlier, as most of us have to get up at a preset time.
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Diet and Exercise Can Curb Effects of Parkinson’s Disease, and Promote Overall Immune System Health

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By Dr. Mercola

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder in which neurons in dopamine-producing cells within a region of your brain known as the substantia nigra, which is required for normal movement, begin to die.

Symptoms, which typically progress over time, include tremors, slow movement, rigid limbs, stooped posture, an inability to move, reduced facial expressions, and a shuffling gait.

The condition can also cause depression, dementia, speech impairments, personality changes, and sexual difficulties.

The condition affects as many as one million Americans,1 for whom day-to-day activities can be a real challenge. However, recent research2 suggests thatexercise may be beneficial; improving balance, mobility, and overall quality of life.

A ketogenic diet may also be helpful, and fasting has been shown to have an overall beneficial impact on the immune system and brain function, helping to protect against cellular changes associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Exercise Benefits Those with Parkinson’s

In the featured study,3 a total of 231 Parkinson’s patients were divided into two groups. One group received their usual care while the other participated in 40-60 minutes of exercise three times a week for six months. In those with less severe disease, those who exercised reported a 70 percent reduction in falls.

According to the authors:

“An exercise program targeting balance, leg strength, and freezing of gait did not reduce falls but improved physical and psychological health. Falls were reduced in people with milder disease but not in those with more severe Parkinson’s disease.”

Other research has found similar benefits. For example, one 2012 study4,5found that low-intensity treadmill exercise improved gait speed, and both high- and low-intensity exercises improved cardiovascular fitness. Not surprisingly, stretching and resistance exercises were also found to improve muscle strength.

Another 12-year-long Swedish study,6,7 which included nearly 43,400 people, concluded that six hours of moderate exercise daily may reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 43 percent.

The Toxic Origins of Parkinson’s

There appears to be a pronounced toxic influence at work in Parkinson’s disease, which makes dietary considerations all the more important. Nearly a dozen commonly used pesticides have been linked to Parkinson’s, for example, suggesting your best bet is to stick to an organic diet as much as possible.

Even ambient exposure to pesticides has been found to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease considerably,8 and having a specific genetic variant increases the risk of the disease following pesticide exposure six-fold.9

Parkinson’s disease is still classified as idiopathic, meaning it has no identifiable cause. But one reason it is likely on the rise is due to many environmental toxins that now bombard your body on a daily basis, with pesticide exposure becoming an undeniable risk factor.

Avoiding pesticide exposure – around your home, in your community, and via the food you eat – is clearly important for reducing your Parkinson’s risk, as is reducing your exposure to environmental toxins of all kinds. Another important and often overlooked environmental risk factor is amalgam dental fillings, 50 percent of which is mercury—a known neurotoxin.

Mercury becomes a biochemical train wreck in your body, causing your cell membranes to leak, and inhibits key enzymes your body needs for energy production and removal of toxins. Mercury toxicity can lead to major inflammation and chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.

Fasting Helps Improve Immune System and Brain Function

Fasting is known to have a number of health benefits, including weight loss and improved insulin and leptin sensitivity, but new research10 also suggests fasting helps bolster your immune system function. If you are underweight though, you should be very careful about implementing fasting without professional supervision. According to study co-author Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute:11

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back.”

White blood cells are your primary disease-fighters. Interestingly enough, when you fast, a “regenerative switch” is activated, promoting stem cell-based regeneration of your hematopoietic system, which is involved in the production of blood. As reported by Medical Daily:12

“After the test subjects went without food for two to four days over the course of six months, the hematopoietic system killed older and damaged immune cells and generated new ones. The system is made up of the organs involved in creating new blood, leading the scientists to believe their findings will have major impacts on healthier aging…

With each fast, the white blood cell depletion triggered new cells in the immune system. When the enzyme PKA was reduced along with the cells in the fasting process, that’s when Longo and his team realized there was a switch being flicked on. The switch made it possible to create new cells and also lowered the levels of IGF-1, a hormone that’s linked to aging, tumor growth, and cancer risk.”

In addition to that, there’s exciting research indicating that intermittent fasting can have a very beneficial impact on your brain function, too. Research by Dr. Mark Mattson13 suggests that fasting every other day (restricting your meal on fasting days to about 600 calories) tends to boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region. BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Your Body Was Built for Periodic Cycles of “Feast and Famine”

Part of what appears to be driving bodily disease processes is the fact that we eat too frequently. When you’re in constant “feast mode,” your body actually forgoes much of its natural “repair and rejuvenation programming.” Periodic fasting provides a number of health benefits that most people seek: from improved cardiovascular health and reduced cancer risk, to gene repair and longevity. I strongly recommend it if you have insulin/leptin resistance. Traditional fasting, in which you don’t eat for 24-72 hours, is not a very appealing strategy for most people, however. Fortunately, there are other options that can make compliance a lot easier.

Newer research shows that you can get most if not all of the same benefits of severe calorie restriction through intermittent fasting, i.e. an eating schedule where you eat your regular meals on some days, and dramatically cut calories on others. Yet another alternative, and my personal favorite, is to simply restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight-hour window.

This type of eating schedule is quite easy to comply with once your body has shifted over from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel. Also, you don’t need to stay on a fasting regimen for life. Once your insulin resistance improves and you are normal weight, you can start eating more food as you will have reestablished your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.

Ketogenic Diet Offers Hope for Parkinson’s

Besides intermittent fasting, yet another dietary intervention that may be of particular importance for those with Parkinson’s is the so-called ketogenic diet. One 2006 study14,15 suggests that a diet high in fat (upwards of 90 percent) and nearly devoid of protein and carbohydrates has neuroprotective effects in both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s sufferers.

While this was an admittedly extreme form of ketogenic diet, when used on patients with Parkinson’s disease, it resulted in improvements in balance, tremors, and mood. There are various theories as to how it helps, including shifting your brain’s metabolism from blood sugar to ketone bodies, a secondary energy source derived from fat metabolization.

Your heart, as well as other muscles, operates quite efficiently when fueled by ketones. Your muscles can store more glucose (as glycogen) than your brain because they have an enzyme that helps them maintain their glycogen stores. But your brain actually lacks this enzyme, so it prefers to be fueled by glucose. When your blood glucose levels are falling, your ketone levels are typically rising, and vice versa. You might be wondering, then, how your brain is able to function when you’re in a state of ketosis.

It turns out that your body has a mechanism for providing your brain with a fuel source it CAN use when glucose is in short supply. When your glucose is low, your brain tells your liver to produce a ketone-like compound called beta-hydroxybutyrate (or beta-hydroxybutyric acid). This compound is able to fuel your brain very efficiently, especially with “practice.” The more efficient your body is at burning fats, the more easily it can move seamlessly between its fat-burning and carbohydrate-burning engines, and the more stable your blood sugar will be.

Your Diet Determines Your Metabolic Function

The problem for most Westerners, whose diets are typically heavy in sugar and carbs, is that they’ve lost their ability to burn ketones efficiently. If this is you, then carbohydrates are ever-present and your liver can’t remember how to produce ketones because it hasn’t needed to. Your fat-burning engine has essentially been switched off… The sad fact is, if you eat the standard American diet, chances are you’ve lost your ability to burn body fat, despite carrying around an enormous supply of it!

Eliminating excess sugar and grains from your diet will help you “retrain” your body how to burn fat for fuel. Typically, restricting your carbohydrates to 30 or 40 grams per day, along with an appropriate amount of protein (thought to be around one-half gram per pound of lean body weight), is enough to “starve” your brain into ketosis. Exercising, particularly while fasting, is also very effective for jumpstarting your fat-burning engine. The more consistently you exercise, the better your body will be at using your own fat stores for energy.

Strategies That Can Add Years to Your Life, and Help Prevent Parkinson’s Disease, Too

A key factor for living a long healthy life is optimizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and there’s cause to believe that this is important for neurological disorders like Parkinson’s as well. Exercise, intermittent fasting, and eating a diet high in healthy fat, along with low amounts of non-vegetable carbs and moderate amounts of protein can likely go a long way toward preventing and treating Parkinson’s and many other health concerns. Additional lifestyle factors to take into consideration include the following:

  • Eating an organic, whole food diet. For a complete guide about which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my comprehensive nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods that come from healthy, sustainable and preferably local sources. For the highest nutritional benefit, eat a good portion of your food raw. This type of diet will naturally optimize your insulin signaling. Refined sugar and processedfructose in particular can act as a toxin when consumed in excess, driving multiple disease processes in your body – including insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and systemic inflammation.
  • Enjoy a comprehensive exercise program. Even if you’re eating the best diet in the world, you still need to exercise—and exercise effectively—if you wish to optimize your health. You should include core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and the right kind of stretching, as well as high-intensity “burst-type” activities. Consider combining this withintermittent fasting to supercharge your metabolism. Also remember that chronic sitting is an independent risk factor for an early demise, so strive to reduce sitting as much as possible. I also recommend walking 7,000-10,000 steps each day, over and above your regular fitness regimen.
  • Optimize your vitamin D. Researchers report that there is a correlation between insufficient levels of vitamin D and the development of early Parkinson’s disease. The important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level, which should ideally be between 50-70 ng/ml year-round, and the only way to determine this is with a blood test. Sun exposure or a tanning bed is the preferred method, but a vitamin D3 supplement can be used when necessary. If you take supplemental vitamin D, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K2 and magnesium as well.
  • Get plenty of animal-based omega-3. Omega-3 fats, such as that found in krill oil, serve an important role in protecting your brain cells. It works in part by preventing the misfolding of a protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
  • Avoid as many chemicals and toxins as possible. This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives. An organic diet is the best way to limit exposure to pesticides associated with Parkinson’s disease. Also avoid prescription drugs in favor of more natural approaches, whenever possible.
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EFT is an Effective Tool for Anxiety

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By Dr. Mercola

The effects of stress on your mental and physical health are being studied more intensively these days. Anxiety can be considered a type of stress response, typically involving a sense of fear, dread, or apprehension.

A brief period of anxiety is a natural, adaptive response to a potential threat, which puts your body into a heightened state of arousal to keep you out of harm’s way—your heart beats faster and your respirations increase as your muscles are prepared for action.

For instance, the anxiety you may feel while hiking near a steep drop-off will likely make you more alert and careful in your movements. The problem arises when anxiety becomes a permanent state, in the absence of any real threats.

When anxiety becomes chronic—as it is for an estimated 40 million Americans—it can increase your risk for a number of mental and physical health problems. If you find you spend a good deal of time feeling anxious, then it’s important to take steps to reduce that anxiety before it has a chance to damage your health.

While you can’t eliminate anxiety from your life entirely, energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), demonstrated in the video above, can help you reduce your stress by correcting the bioelectrical short-circuiting that can happen when anxiety becomes chronic.1

Anxiety and Stress Have Similar Effects on Your Brain

Although stress and anxiety are not the same thing, they do significantly overlap in terms of their effects on your body. While stress often occurs in response to an external stimulus (like an argument with your spouse), anxiety tends to be more of an internal state.

Many experts believe that anxiety disorders result from a combination of nature (your genetics) and nurture (your environment).

In other words, individuals who are abused or neglected as children have a higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder, but whether or not it manifests depends in part on their innate ability to cope with stressful situations, “internal resources,” personality traits, and social support system.

Anxiety evokes the same “fight or flight or freeze” response as stress, meaning that anxiety will trigger a flood of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol that help you respond in an emergency.

It’s normal to feel anxiety with a stressful event, such as before public speaking or in anticipation of a job interview, but normally anxiety will fade once the event passes.

Is Your Brain Becoming Wired for Anxiety?

If you experience anxiety for long enough, your brain may become “wired” for it, such that any potentially undesirable situation sounds a biological alarm. Chronic anxiety might cause you to constantly look out for potential threats when none exist.

Worse yet, some people are so used to feeling anxious that they don’t realize there’s a problem and simply suffer in silence. Prolonged anxiety can lead to social isolation, physical symptoms, and related mental health problems, including depression.

Chronic anxiety and anxiety disorders may persist for months or even years, regardless of the coming and going of life events. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains how your brain processes anxiety:2

“Several parts of the brain are key actors in the production of fear and anxiety… scientists have discovered that the amygdala and the hippocampus play significant roles in most anxiety disorders.

The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is believed to be a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret these signals. It can alert the rest of the brain that a threat is present and trigger a fear or anxiety response.

The emotional memories stored in the central part of the amygdala may play a role in anxiety disorders involving very distinct fears, such as fears of dogs, spiders, or flying. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories.”

Anxiety Can Lead to a Number of Physical Illnesses

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 85 percent of all disease has an emotional element (and this is probably a conservative estimate), and stress and anxiety may top the list.

When you’re stressed, the stress hormones that prepare your body for the perceived emergency also temporarily suppress parts of your immune system, which reduces your response to pathogens and other foreign invaders.

So, if you’re stressed all the time, as with chronic anxiety, you are setting yourself up for a crash, in terms of your overall health. The list of stress-related health problems is long and growing longer all the time. The following is just a sample:

  • Lowered immune system function
  • Heightened inflammatory response (researchers found that dwelling on a stressful event can increase your levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in your body3)
  • Increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Altered brain chemistry, blood sugar and hormone balance
  • Increased risk of cancer and tumor growth rate4

Anti-Anxiety Drugs

It is estimated that only one-third of people with anxiety disorders receive treatment,5 and the majority of that “treatment” is limited to prescription drugs. Anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, which include Ativan, Xanax, and Valium, are a poor solution and come with many potentially serious risks, including memory loss, hip fractures, and addiction.

Up to 43 percent of older adults use benzodiazepines for anxiety and insomnia, often chronically, even though their long-term effectiveness and safety remain unproven. People who take these drugs are nearly four times more likely to die prematurely than people who don’t, and also have a 35 percent greater risk of cancer. There is also evidence that benzodiazepine use by older adults results in a 50 percent higher risk for dementia.

Benzodiazepines exert a calming effect by boosting the action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), in the same way as opioids (heroin) and cannabinoids (cannabis). This in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in your brain.

Taking anti-anxiety medications over time can result in addiction or physical dependence, and getting off of them can be a major challenge—and very unpleasant, as “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome” is characterized by panic, insomnia, sweating, vomiting, seizures, muscular pain and a plethora of other symptoms that can persist for up to two weeks.6 I believe there are better ways to manage anxiety.

Tapping Your Troubles Away

Energy psychology techniques, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), can be very effective for reducing anxiety by correcting the bioelectrical short-circuiting that causes your body’s reactions—without adverse effects. You can think of EFT as a tool for “reprogramming” your circuitry, and it works on both realand imagined stressors.

EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture for more than 5,000 years to treat physical and emotional ailments, but without the invasiveness of needles. Following a 2012 review in the American Psychological Association’s journal Review of General Psychology, EFT is moving closer to meeting the criteria for an “evidence-based treatment.”

Recent research has shown that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states, including anxiety. EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.7,8 If you recall NIMH’s explanation about how your amygdala and hippocampus are involved in anxiety disorders, you can see why tapping is such a powerful tool. EFT has also been shown to lower cortisol levels.9

Although you can learn the basics of EFT on your own, if you or your child has a serious anxiety disorder, I highly recommend that you consult a qualified EFT practitioner. For serious or complex issue you need a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT to help guide you through the process, as it typically takes years of training to develop the skill to tap on and relieve deep-seated, significant issues.

Teach Yourself How to Tap—And Then Teach Your Entire Family

EFT is simple to learn and can be done effectively by both adults and children. We have a number of free articles, videos, and tutorials on our website that will help you learn how to do it, and then the more you tap, the more skilled you’ll become. EFT is a great tool to teach to your children to help them diffuse their everyday stresses, thus preventing them from festering or evolving into chronic anxiety.

Children with mood problems such as anxiety are being drugged at an alarming rate, which certainly doesn’t help them learn how to regulate their emotions. If your child’s anxiety is out of control, then there’s a good chance it will persist into adulthood, setting him up for all of the problems already discussed. Many mood and behavior problems can be addressed safely and effectively without drugs. Suitable approaches include nutrition, appropriate exercise, avoidance of environmental toxins, and tools such as EFT. Learning to regulate emotions helps children to better manage their own moods and behaviors, improves self-esteem, and empowers them to feel more “normal” and less stigmatized.

You can learn the basics of tapping on your own and then teach the process to your child, or you can recruit the help of a professional EFT practitioner. I invite you to use the following resources to learn the mechanics of EFT, as well to help you gain an appreciation for its wide-ranging application.

The Major Contributors to Anxiety That Many Fail to Consider

If you suffer from anxiety, make sure you are addressing basic factors that are often overlooked with mental health issues. Specifically, make sure to address the following:

  • Too much sugar. Many studies have demonstrated the connection between a high-sugar diet and poor mental health. High sugar and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can result in falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. In turn, hypoglycemia causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, and panic attacks. Additionally, sugar fans the flames of inflammation in your body.
  • Leaky gut and poorly functioning second brain. As explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause a variety of psychiatric symptoms, including anxiety and depression. Reducing gut inflammation is imperative when addressing mental health issues,10 so optimizing your gut flora is a critical piece. Your gut sends more signals to your brain than the brain sends to it. It also has more neurons and produces more neurotransmitters than the brain. So optimize your gut health by eliminating sugar and increasing beneficial bacteria. Make sure to include plenty of naturally fermented vegetables in your diet to help balance your gut flora, and if that’s not an option for you, consider a high-quality probiotic supplement.
  • Inactivity. Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. Exercise also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress. Stand up as much as possible, as compelling research now tells us that prolonged sitting has an extremely detrimental impact on your health, even if you exercise regularly. Intermittent movement may be even more important than regular exercise, so make a goal of walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps daily.
  • Animal-sourced omega-3 deficiency. Your diet should include a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats, like krill oil. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA play an important role in emotional health, and deficiencies have been linked to mood disorders. Research has shown a dramatic 20 percent reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3s.11
  • Food additives and GMO ingredients. A number of food additives and dyes are thought to negatively affect mental health, and many have been banned in Europe. Potential culprits to avoid include Blue #1 and #2 food coloring; Green #3; Orange B; Red #3 and #40; Yellow #5 and #6; and the preservative sodium benzoate. Recent research also shows that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, which is used in large quantities on genetically engineered crops, limits your body’s ability to detoxify foreign chemical compounds. As a result, the damaging effects of those toxins are magnified, potentially resulting in a wide variety of diseases, including brain disorders that have both psychological and behavioral effects.
  • EMF. Limit your exposure to radiofrequency microwave radiation, cell and portable phones, and electro-pollution. This is especially true for your sleeping environment where rest and repair occur.
  • Other toxic exposures. Avoid all known toxins as much as possible, such as MSG and artificial sweeteners including aspartame, mercury from “silver” amalgam fillings, and fluoride in the water supply, just to name a few.
Sources and References
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