The Relationship Between Vitamin D and Insulin Resistance

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that influences virtually every cell in your body, which is why maintaining a healthy level is so important. Low vitamin D levels are widely known to harm your bones, leading them to become thin, brittle, soft or misshapen.

But vitamin D is equally important for your heart, brain, immune function and much more. For example, there’s an important connection between insufficient vitamin D and insulin resistance and/or diabetes, both type 11 and type 2.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Influence Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk

According to recent research, vitamin D deficiency affects your glucose metabolism and may actually be more closely linked to diabetes than obesity. In a study of 118 people, those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, regardless of their weight.

Among obese people, those without metabolic disorders had higher levels of vitamin D than those with such disorders, and among lean people, those with metabolic disorders were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D. According to one of the study’s authors:2

“The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”

It’s not the first time vitamin D has been shown to play a role in diabetes. One Indian study found that vitamin D and calcium supplementation, in combination with exercise, can prevent pre-diabetes from progressing into full-blown diabetes.

For every unit increase in vitamin D levels, the risk of progression to diabetes in people with pre-diabetes went down by 8 percent.3

Another study4 published in 2013 found that type 2 diabetics given 50,000 IUs of oral vitamin D3 per week for eight weeks experienced “a meaningful reduction” in fasting plasma glucose and insulin. Other research showing this link includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Animal studies have shown vitamin D is a foundational factor necessary for normal insulin secretion5,6 and that vitamin D improves insulin sensitivity7,8
  • One study involving nearly 5,680 individuals with impaired glucose tolerance showed that vitamin D supplementation increased insulin sensitivity by 54 percent9
  • The mechanisms by which vitamin D reduces insulin resistance include its effect on calcium and phosphorus metabolism and by upregulating the insulin receptor gene10

Vitamin D May Lower Risk of Hyperglycemia in Those Taking Atypical Antipsychotics

Certain drugs can raise your risk of metabolic dysfunction. For example, statin drugs can trigger drug-induced diabetes. Atypical antipsychotics such as quetiapine, a bipolar medication, have also been linked to an increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes.

In the latter case, research suggests vitamin D3 may counteract these effects. As reported by The American Journal of Managed Care:11

“Atypical antipsychotics have long been associated with an increased risk of hyperglycemia — which can lead to new-onset diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, coma and even death.

Some proposed mechanisms for this effect include weight gain, decreased insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells and insulin resistance.

To determine whether there were any medications that could decrease this likelihood of hyperglycemia, researchers analyzed the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting (FAERS) system — a database that logs self-reported adverse effects or medication errors submitted by patients.

By cross-referencing atypical antipsychotics and hyperglycemia, the study authors found that patients who had been simultaneously prescribed to take vitamin D and quetiapine were somehow less likely to have hyperglycemia.”

Subsequent animal studies produced similar results. Mice given vitamin D and quetiapine had significantly lower blood sugar levels compared to mice given quetiapine alone. According to lead author Takuya Nagashima, vitamin D inhibits quetiapine from reducing an enzyme that causes hyperglycemia.

Based on these results, the authors suggest combining antipsychotics with vitamin D supplementation to “efficaciously safeguard against antipsychotic-induced hyperglycemia accompanied by insulin resistance.”

Other Benefits of Vitamin D

Researchers have pointed out that raising levels of vitamin D among the general population could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year.

Incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half, or more. Recent research reveals raising your serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 40 ng/ml can slash your risk of invasive cancers by 67 percent!

In the interview above, Dr. Michael Holick — a well-known vitamin D researcher — expands on these and many other health benefits of vitamin D. For instance, optimizing your vitamin D levels can help protect against:

Cardiovascular disease

Vitamin D is very important for reducing hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, heart attack and stroke. According to Holick, one study showed that vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of heart attack by 50 percent.

 

Autoimmune diseases

Vitamin D is a potent immune modulator, making it very important for the prevention of autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Infertility

Vitamin D may help stimulate the production of hormones including testosterone and progesterone, and has been shown to boost fertility in both men and women.

Vitamin D is also associated with semen quality in men and may improve menstrual frequency in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).12

DNA repair and metabolic processes

One of Holick’s studies showed that healthy volunteers taking 2,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D3 per day for a few months upregulated 291 different genes that control up to 80 different metabolic processes.

Some of these processes help improve DNA repair and boost immune function, while others affect autoxidation (oxidation that occurs in the presence of oxygen and /or UV radiation, which has implications for aging and cancer, for example).

Migraine

Recent research also suggests vitamin D can play a role in migraines. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that many who suffer from migraines have deficiencies in vitamin D, riboflavin (B2) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).13

Girls and women who suffered migraines were particularly prone to having CoQ10 deficiency, while boys and men were more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Those with chronic migraines were more likely to have CoQ10 and riboflavin deficiencies, compared to those with episodic migraines.

Neurological/psychological/mental disorders

Vitamin D also plays a major role in neurotransmission, and vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a number of neurological and brain disorders, including cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease (in one study, those who were most vitamin D deficient had a 31 percent increased relative risk of suffering neurocognitive decline), schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, epilepsy and depression.

Cold and flu

Vitamin D has potent infection-fighting abilities, and can be beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds and flu.

What’s the Best Way to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level?

There is no doubt that vitamin D is imperative for good health and disease prevention. It may even help counteract some of the deleterious metabolic effects caused of certain drugs. But there’s no lack of controversy when it comes to the issue of how to optimize your vitamin D. Most of the researchers specializing in vitamin D agree that sensible sun exposure is the ideal way though.

First of all, vitamin D3 supplements do not confer the identical effects as the vitamin D your skin generates in response to UV exposure. Secondly, sun exposure has additional health benefits that are unrelated to vitamin D production.

For example, UVA exposure produces nitric oxide (NO), which has a blood pressure-lowering effect. In fact, the entire solar spectrum is important for optimal health. We’re not dependent solely on the narrowband wavelength of about 295 nanometers (nm), which is where vitamin D is made.

However, unless you make a concerted effort, chances are you’re simply not getting enough sun exposure to raise your vitamin D level. As noted in a recent British study, adolescent Britons are not getting enough sun exposure even in the middle of summer to elevate their vitamin D to a healthy level, prompting the authors to suggest changes to the U.K.’s vitamin D guidelines.

As reported by Endocrine Today,14 “more than one-quarter of the adolescents in the study had inadequate vitamin D levels even during summer, the period when participants spent the most time outdoors.” According to the authors:

“Current U.K. national guidance on vitamin D acquisition assumes those aged 4 to 64 years gain their vitamin D requirements from sunlight alone, thus there is no recommended nutrient intake. Meanwhile, substantial proportions of the global population, including the U.K., are reported to have low vitamin D status, and rickets has returned as a clinical concern …

As U.K. current sun exposure patterns do not provide an adequate source of vitamin D, amendments are required to recommendations on vitamin D acquisition in this age group. While wider skin surface area exposure to sunlight might safely increase vitamin D status, oral vitamin D supplements may be beneficial during this critical time for bone development.”

 

When to Take a Vitamin D3 Supplement

Indeed, while sun exposure is the ideal route, it can be difficult for many to achieve an optimal vitamin D level this way. Your lifestyle, location, age, ethnicity, time of year, weather conditions and a number of other factors influence how much vitamin D your skin will make in response to sun exposure. The fact that vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is widespread even in sundrenched areas like India attests to this difficulty.

In some cases, making changes to your routine in order to get more regular sun exposure may do the trick. Key points to remember is that you need to expose large areas of skin to the sun, and on a frequent basis (ideally daily). However, under ideal conditions you may not need more than a few minutes of exposure.

The worst thing you could do is to bake in the sun for hours on end on the weekends. You definitely want to avoid burning your skin, as this will only cause skin damage that could potentially increase your risk for skin cancer.

If sensible sun exposure is either not feasible or isn’t sufficient to raise your vitamin D to a healthy level, then taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement is a wise choice. If you decide to supplement with vitamin D please consider using one that also has vitamin K2, as it works synergistically with vitamin D to maximize the benefits.

The only way to know how your sun exposure is affecting your vitamin D level is to get your vitamin D tested. I recommend doing this twice a year, in January and June/July, to get a reading on your lowest and highest levels. This will tell you whether you might be in need of a supplement. It will also guide you in terms of dosage.

In short, your ideal dosage is one that will help you maintain a clinically relevant vitamin D level of 40 to 60 ng/ml year-round. For some this may be 2,000 IUs a day. For others, it could be 8,000 IUs a day or more.

The Role of Vitamin D in Disease Prevention

A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.

According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. Dr. Robert Heaney is the research director of GrassrootsHealth and is part of the design of the D*action Project as well as analysis of the research findings.

GrassrootsHealth shows how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”

Vitamin D Kit
Order button

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Where Do We Go From Here?

GrassrootsHealth is now undertaking a new project entitled the Protect our Children NOW! (POC) project. The aim of this project is to acquire participation of at least 500 pregnant women in a community, and to increase their serum levels to the suggested level of at least 40 ng/ml based on the clinical trial by Hollis & Wagner.

In addition, the project will take these results in two years and “march” on the various institutions in the state/government/to the March of Dimes, to demand that action be taken to protect the world’s next generation.

Among other items, the projects expected impact is likely to be a reduction in preterm births, (in some cases up to a 50 percent reduction). The project already has the blessing of the scientists, the physicians at the Medical University of South Carolina (which are implementing it in their practices) and even the insurance company.

Any community can implement this and make a difference for themselves and others. For further information contact Jen Aliano, Project Manager, at jen@grassrootshealth.org.

Sources and References

 

Food Monopoly Aimed at Controlling Population Destroys Environment and Poses Serious Threat to Human Health

Source

By Dr. Mercola

 “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” ~ Henry Kissinger, Ph.D.

“In so many poorer countries food is money, food is power.” ~ Catherine Bertini, executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program1

Yes, food is power, and all around the world we now see how the monopolization of the food supply has created a vast gulf between the “have” and the “have nots.” Far from fostering greater food security, we’ve become more food insecure than ever before.

It’s quite simple really. If you have access to clean, nutritious food, you survive and thrive. If you don’t, disease and premature death is your lot.

Today, malnutrition is not a problem relegated to developing countries. Never before have affluent nations had so many malnourished yet obese people — a paradox rooted in a poor and toxic diet, churned out by industrial crop growers, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and fish farms.

The strategy to control people by controlling the food supply, first through the conversion from many small farms to fewer, gigantic farming operations and associated price fixing schemes, and later through the creation of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, effectively destroyed family farming both in the U.S. and abroad.

It wasn’t that long ago (2011) that a class-action lawsuit on behalf of consumers was filed against a number of dairy companies and trade groups, charging they killed more than half a million young cows in order to artificially inflate the price of milk — a classic price fixing scheme, and certainly not the first, nor likely the last.2,3

In 2013, the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) paid a $158.6 million fine to settle a 2007 lawsuit alleging the DFA conspired with a number of companies to suppress milk prices by closing bottling plants and stifling competition.4

Consolidation, Concentration, and Monopolization

Today, 95 percent of all grain reserves in the world are controlled by just six multinational agribusinesses.5 The same concentration of power can be seen all through agriculture, from beef packers (four companies) to flour milling (four companies) and pork packers (four companies).6

As noted by The Natural Farmer, this consolidation and concentration has occurred through horizontal integration, vertical integration, and global expansion.7

Along with the destruction of family farms we also lost a tremendous amount of diversity, both in terms of the types of foods grown and the flora and fauna existing in the areas surrounding the farms.

All of this, and more, has occurred under the guise of improving food availability and safety. Yet all of these “improvements” have led to nothing but corruption, destruction and disease.

Worst of all, these corporations have become so wealthy and (as a result) politically powerful, that in order to really affect change, we must do it from the ground up, by altering our daily shopping habits.

Support House and Senate ‘Meat Processing Revival’ Bills

Slaughterhouse consolidation is particularly problematic for small farmers specializing in organic and pastured meats. As noted by National Public Radio (NPR) last year:8

“Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, farmers who want to sell meat commercially across state lines must get their animals slaughtered and processed at a meat plant that has been approved by the USDA.

Government meat inspectors are required to be on the floor anytime those plants are operating.

To make it easier for more homegrown meat to reach consumers, a small but vocal group of farmers and local food advocates is trying to change federal meat inspection law.”

March 8, 2016 Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act (S. 2651), which would allow states to permit sale of meat processed locally, thereby making it easier for small farms and ranches to serve their consumers.9

Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced an identical bill, H.R. 3187,10 in the House of Representatives last summer. I encourage you to call your senators and urge them to support the PRIME Act.

You can find their contact information by clicking the button below, or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Plant Species and Food Choices Are Dwindling

As noted by Irish Times,11 more than one-fifth of all plant species are now threatened with extinction. Reasons why include out-of-control plant diseases and changes in climate.

But factory farming is also a significant contributing factor. In fact, factory farming in and of itself is an “anti-biotic” in that it is “against life.”

Chemical monocropping (the repeated growing of a single crop on a vast amount of land using chemical additives like fertilizers and pesticides) prematurely denatures the soil, promotes “super pests” and “super weeds,” and destroys diversity of both plants and insects in the wild, not to mention curtail food choices at your local grocery store.

Pesticide Exposure From Food Is Now a Serious Threat to Health

More than 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used on U.S. farmlands each year,12and chemical exposure through food is now a serious health threat.

Worldwide, 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year, and many of these chemicals are either known or suspected to be harmful to human health. As noted by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR):13

“The required toxicity studies do not include many important endpoints such as immune system toxicity, endocrine system disruptions, learning deficits, or chronic illnesses.

Yet, all of these endpoints have been linked to pesticide exposure. Harm also occurs because pesticides are reviewed only every 15 years, leaving long lag times between science and regulations.

Recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) research revealed another problem with pesticide regulation: the majority of pesticide products are granted “conditional registrations” without all required information.

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own analysis confirmed NRDC’s findings that 69 percent, or 11,000, of all 16,000 pesticide registrations are conditional. An NRDC report of this problem is currently in preparation.

The failure of conditional registrations was highlighted this summer when the conditionally approved herbicide Imprelis® was linked to tree deaths around the country, prompting the manufacturer, DuPont, to recall the pesticide.”

 

Industrial Agribusinesses Destroy Family Farms and Quality Foods

In North Dakota, a 1932 state law banning nonfamily corporations from owning farmland or operating farms has been challenged by agribusiness lobbyists, calling the law discriminatory and unconstitutional.

In March 2015, the state Legislature passed a bill that would “relax the corporate farming ban,” The New York Times (NYT) writes,14 adding that North Dakota residents are now voting on a referendum that would allow corporate farms to buy up and displace many of the 30,000 family farmers currently in business.

“A vote against the measure would repeal the new legislation and restore the law that had governed farm and dairy operations in the state for more than eight decades. 

While the debate is very much focused on maintaining the character of North Dakota, it also taps into widespread fears about the disappearance of family farms throughout the United States and the spread of big corporations and their farming methods into rural America,” The NYT writes.

Such fears are well-founded. But farmers are not the only ones who should be concerned about industrial agribusinesses taking over. This is an issue that affects every single person who likes to eat food. Monoculture and livestock CAFOs do not make food tastier and/or more nutritious. Nor do they make it safer.

On the contrary, factory farms produce inferior quality food that is far more prone to cause foodborne outbreaks and spread pandemic diseases among farm animals (and in some cases among humans too).

It’s important to understand that human life is interrelated with the environment, and most epidemics, such as AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, and Lyme disease, just to name a few, are a direct result of man’s failure to live in harmony with nature. By severely disrupting our environment, we create our own demise.

We now know that CAFOs create a negative feedback loop where safety hazards are compounded and spread around, affecting animals, humans and the environment in equal measure.

CAFOS and Processing Monopolies Promote and Cause Deadly Outbreaks

The congregation of thousands or tens of thousands of animals in confined spaces is a recipe for disease, and CAFOs have become notorious for spreading pandemic diseases and causing serious food outbreaks. Now the situation is being ratcheted up another notch, with the presence of bacteria equipped with the much-feared mcr-1 gene — a gene that confers resistance to antibiotics of last resort.

First discovered in China last year,15,16,17 it’s now been detected in Europe, Scandinavia,18 and most recently, in the U.S. The first American report occurred in March, when the gene was found in a pork sample from a slaughterhouse in South Carolina. In May, Escherichia coli (E.coli) carrying the gene was discovered in a pork sample collected in an Illinois slaughterhouse, as well as in a Pennsylvania patient admitted with an E. coli infection.19,20,21 As noted by The Washington Post:22

“Each of the three U.S. cases involves different strains of E. coli. The latest animal case suggests the gene is already circulating through multiple routes here … In all three cases here, the gene was carried on a plasmid, a mobile piece of DNA that easily can transfer the gene to other bacteria. That would result in a kind of super-superbug, invincible to every life-saving antibiotic available.”

 

Foodborne Illness Kills 5,000 Americans Each Year

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), foodborne diseases cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, costing the health care system as much as $6 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity.23

Bacteria account for 75 percent of the outbreaks, with Salmonella being the most common culprit. However, in the past two decades, a number of “previously unrecognized” foodborne pathogens have emerged, including:

Campylobacter jejuni (poultry products) Listeria monocytogenes (dairy products) Clostridium botulinum Shigella
Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (ground beef) Bacillus cereus Clostridium perfringens (beef) Staphylococcus aureus (pork)

There’s no telling what the death toll might amount to should many or all of these foodborne pathogens develop antibiotic resistance, but it might be a fair guess that many of the hundreds of thousands hospitalized might not recover.

Part of what’s causing foodborne illness rates to rise relates to the centralization of meat processing, coupled with outdated slaughterhouse inspection rules. Since 1906, meat inspection has relied on noticing changes in the sight, smell, or feel of the meat. But foodborne microorganisms cannot be detected this way.

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point program (HACCP) was created to identify areas in the food processing chain where contamination might take place, and based on the findings of the HACCP, procedures such as using microbiological tests at key control points have been developed. However, the program is useless unless microbial control is mandated.

At present, slaughter line speeds are too fast to perform these tests, and few are willing to voluntarily comply with them as slowing down the pace cuts into profits. Cross-contamination is another serious problem largely relegated to factory farms, processing monopolies, and industrial food processing plants.

Most recently, Listeria-contaminated sunflower seeds led to the recall of about 100 different food products, including Brown & Haley Mountain Thins trail mix and more than 33,600 pounds of Trader Joe’s’ broccoli and kale chicken salad.24

That kind of scenario simply could not happen in a small-scale, local food system, and it’s precisely why — if you’re concerned about food safety — your most effective strategy is to support your local farmers by buying their food and cooking from scratch, rather than buying processed fare and foods imported from all over the globe.

Across the World, Farmland Ownership Is Being Gobbled up by the Few

North Dakota certainly isn’t the only place industrial agribusinesses seek to infiltrate and take over. GRAIN, an international non-profit organization that supports small farmers and social movements around the world, has documented more than 490 cases of corporate land grabs over the past decade. These deals cover more than 30 million hectares (74,131,614.3 acres) in 78 countries. According to GRAIN:25

“While some of the worst land grabs have been shelved or toned down, a number of new deals are appearing, many of which are ‘hard-core’ initiatives to expand the frontiers of industrial agriculture. We say hard-core because these deals are large, long-term and determined to avoid the pitfalls that earlier deals ran into.

Much of the Asian-led oil palm expansion in Africa, and the advance of pension funds and trade conglomerates to secure access to new farmlands, fall into this category.

Increasingly, gaining access to farmland is part of a broader corporate strategy to profit from carbon markets, mineral resources, water resources, seeds, soil and environmental services. As land deals rise and fall, policymakers and corporate boards are hard at work trying to facilitate their success.

Instead of the wild land rush of before, we now have multiple ‘frameworks’ and ‘guidelines’ on how to conduct these deals while minimizing social and environmental costs. All of these new rules are voluntary, however, and do more to obfuscate the problem than to solve it.

Many argue that the heightened political attention around land grabbing has helped bring land and agrarian reform back into public debates in parliaments and other legislative fora. But the main objective of regulatory processes is still to formalize land markets and titles, which experience tells us will lead to further concentration of land in the hands of few.”

 

Industrial Farms Are Proliferate Polluters of Soil, Water and Air

I cannot get over the irony of the fact that agriculture is now one of the worst polluters of all industries out there, contaminating not only soil, but air and water as well. For example, according to a report26 by Environment America, Tyson Foods, Inc. is the worst polluter of U.S. waterways, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014, second only to a steel manufacturing company.

In third place, we have the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), followed by Cargill and another steel manufacturer. Of the top 15 polluters on this list, six are food companies, commingling with some of the largest chemical producers in the world, including DuPont and BASF.

Even paper and gasoline producers, two industries well-known for their environmental impacts, are cleaner! International Paper and Exxon Mobil are ranked No. 14 and 15 respectively, releasing less than 20 percent of Tyson’s toxic emissions into our waterways.

And guess what? Farms are exempt from federal water-pollution regulation.27 This is despite agriculture being the primary reason why America’s waterways fail to meet Clean Water Act standards.28,29 (For an interesting story about how an Indiana teen is proposing to tackle nitrogen and phosphorous pollution in Lake Eerie with the use of duckweed, see this June 15 Student Science article.30)

Agriculture is also responsible for nearly one-fifth of the entire U.S. carbon footprint, and that still does not include all of the fuel, transport emissions and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use.31 A 2009 article also pointed out the following:32

 “The Pew Charitable Trust and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study in 2008 and determined that the U.S. factory farming system is dangerously out of control and that many practices, including animal confinement, and the prophylactic-use of antibiotics and hormones must be phased out. A second study, also in April of 2008, by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded much the same.

Both studies found that the current factory farming paradigms are simply not sustainable for the land, the drinking water, the confined animals, the rivers, and the oceans, and they are seriously damaging our public health. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reminded us that we will be subsidizing these bad farming practices once again on April 15th when we pay our taxes. That is the second payment for ‘cheap food.'”[Emphasis mine]

No one in their right mind, or at least no one who has ever experienced a factory farm first-hand or even read a book or watched a video about what’s going on, supports CAFOs. That’s why corporate agribusiness is working overtime to pass state “Ag Gag” laws making it a crime to take photos of CAFOs.

That’s why the beef cartel and Big Food spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep you in the dark not only about CAFOs, but also about whether or not your food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and about the country-of-origin of your food.

Boycott Factory Farm Food System

The time has come to shift the American diet away from unhealthy, polluted and polluting factory farmed food. Factory farms are a disaster, not only for the animals, but also for the communities where manure and chemical fertilizers and pesticides pollute the air, the soil, streams, lakes, rivers and drinking water.

The same goes for gigantic monoculture farms growing mostly GE grains and corn with vast amounts of toxic pesticides and fertilizers. The 2015 edition of “Factory Farm Nation,” a report by Food and Water Watch, reveals the many problems with and high cost of factory farming.33

If you worry that regenerative agriculture might not be able to compete with conventional chemical agriculture in terms of yield,don’t. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that organic yields are comparable to conventional, and about 30 percent higherduring drought conditions.

For more information, I recommend reading through the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) report, “From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems.”34 It’s important to realize you do have options, even if they may not be quite as convenient as going to your local grocery store. Your best alternative is to grow your own, although this also requires the greatest level of time and commitment.

The idea of planting Victory Gardens goes back to World War I and II, and was advertised as a way for patriots to make a difference on the home front. Planting these gardens helped the citizens combat food shortages by supplying themselves and their neighbors with fresh produce.

Planting your own Victory Garden can go a long way toward healthier eating and in the long run, it can provide incentive for industry-wide change, and a return to a diet of real food for everyone, everywhere. A great way to get started on your own is by growing sprouts. They may be small, but sprouts are packed with nutrition and best of all, they’re easy and inexpensive to grow.

Where to Find Real Food

Your next best option is to buy fresh produce, pastured eggs, raw organic dairy and grass-fed meats from a local farm or farmers market. There are positive signs that people are taking such advice to heart. According to Michael Pollan, the total number of farmers in the U.S. has begun to rise for the first time since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began keeping track.35

Most of these farmers are younger people who have embraced the notion of growing real, healthy food. If you live in the US, the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

EatWild.com

EatWild.com provides lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other organic produce. Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

FoodRoutes

The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com

If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. You can also find a slew of information about raw milk on their “facts about real raw milk” page.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund36 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.37 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

Sources and References

Mid-Year Health Check: How Do You Measure Up?

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Making a commitment to live healthier is an ongoing process. It’s virtually impossible to make all the needed changes in one fell swoop. To assist you with this process, I’ve created a plan you can implement little by little, one step at a time.

Perhaps you made a New Year’s resolution to live healthier. The following list consisting of nine general categories will give you an indication of how far you’ve actually come.

If you’re still missing a few pieces, make the commitment to address one item at a time going forward. I’ve created a helpful Health Check Tip Sheet you can print out and post in a conspicuous location to keep you motivated.

For more in-depth information on any given topic, please follow the hyperlinks provided.

#1 Replace Soda With Water, Tea and Black Organic Coffee

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption.

Making the commitment to swap your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water and the occasional cup of tea and/or organic black coffee can go a long way toward improving your health.

Remember, the only beverage your body really needs is clean, pure water. In fact, many common health complaints are simply due to dehydration, including tiredness, headache, irritability, confusion, constipation, dry skin and more.

Unfortunately, most water supplies are heavily polluted these days, even in the United States, so a high-quality water filtration system is a wise investment. Most water supplies contain a number of potentially hazardous contaminants, including fluoride, drugs and disinfection byproducts (DBPs), just to name a few.

How much water do you need each day for optimal health? While many still recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day, individual water needs vary so widely, your best bet is to:

  • Use your thirst as a guide. Once your body has lost 1 to 2 percent of its water content, you will feel thirsty. This is a sign that you need to replenish the lost liquids
  • Look at the color of your urine. Drink enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow (keep in mind certain vitamin supplements can affect the color of your urine)
  • Monitor the frequency of urination. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an indication you need to drink more

Besides water, tea and coffee also have their place if you enjoy them. According to the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you can safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day without detrimental effects.1

Recent research even suggests drinking up to six cups of coffee a day may actually be beneficial for your heart and cardiovascular health, and is inversely associated with premature death.2,3,4,5,6

Tea and Coffee Caveats

Both coffee and tea contain caffeine (provided it’s not decaffeinated), which has been linked to adverse health effects such as elevated blood pressure, gastric upset and anxiety. However, both coffee and tea contain other health-promoting ingredients that appear to outweigh the drawbacks of caffeine.

Among them are beneficial antioxidants, and according to researchers, coffee, (because of the volume consumed, not because of its high amount) is the primary source of antioxidants in the American diet.7 As with water, quality and purity is not a given though. You need to use discernment with these beverages.

Most coffee is heavily contaminated with pesticides, so when we speak about the benefits of coffee, let it be understood that we’re talking about coffee that is:

  • Organic (ideally fair trade), to avoid pesticides
  • Freshly ground. Once ground, coffee quickly goes stale and rancid, so for optimal freshness grind your own coffee beans
  • Dark roast, such as French Roast, espresso or Turkish coffee tends to have the highest amounts of beneficial antioxidants. Dark roast coffee also produces more of a chemical that helps prevent the production of excess stomach acid, so it may be easier on your stomach8
  • Served black, meaning without milk or sugar. Adding dairy may interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids, while the added sugar will contribute to insulin resistance, which is at the heart of most chronic disease
  • Brewed with non-bleached filters to avoid chlorine and DBPs such as dioxin

As for tea, both black and green teas tend to be naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides. This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil.

So, as with coffee, when selecting tea, opt for organic (to avoid pesticides), grown in a pristine environment (to avoid fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from contaminated soil and water).

#2 Eat 2 Meals a Day Within an 8-Hour Window

Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way has a number of health benefits, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function and preventing cellular damage from occurring.

As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window each day, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.

Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide. There are also a number of other intermittent fasting plans to choose from, should this daily eating schedule not appeal to you.

 

EFT Can Increase Your Intermittent Fasting Success

Compliance is a critical factor for any intermittent fasting plan, and stress about fasting can sabotage your success. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can be a helpful ally here, allowing you to tap away your anxiety about fasting. It’s one of the most powerful tools for reducing stress and anxiety I know of.

In 2012, a triple blind study9 found that EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent — more than any other intervention tested. Do you worry you’ll be hungry all the time? Are you afraid you’ll feel deprived or suffer unbearable cravings? Are you worried it won’t work for you? EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman covers all of these issues in her video — and more.

The first few weeks of fasting are typically the most challenging, while your body is making the necessary biochemical adjustments to its metabolic engine. Tapping can be extraordinarily beneficial for eliminating anxiety and cravings during this time. EFT is easy to learn and once you do, it’s always at your fingertips — whenever and wherever you need it.

#3 Clean Up Your Diet

As for what to eat when you do eat, the most basic of recommendations is to simply eat REAL FOOD. With that foundation in mind, I also recommend you:

Replace net carbs with healthy fats

Replace net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber; think sugars and grains) with high-quality healthy fats. Fats are a “cleaner” type of fuel for your body compared to carbs, and most would benefit getting anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of daily calories from healthy fats, such as that from avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured eggs, coconuts, coconut oil, organic nut oils, raw nuts (especially macadamias and pecans), seeds, and grass-fed meats.

Dietary fats can be generally classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (PUFA). A “saturated” fat means that all carbon atoms have their bonds filled with hydrogen atoms and as a result they are far less likely to oxidize and go rancid. Fats in foods contain a mixture of fats, but in foods of animal origin a large proportion are saturated.

Research shows avoiding saturated fat does NOT help prevent heart disease or improve longevity. In fact, saturated fats have protective effects. The benefits of saturated fat are many, and some appear to be uniquely traceable to saturated fat. For example, you need saturated fats for brain and immune system health.

Another argument is that animal foods in general, including meat cheese, butter, dairy, and eggs, contain high amounts of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble, and you have to have the fat that comes naturally in animal foods along with the vitamins in order to absorb those vitamins.

The fats you need to avoid to protect your heart health are trans fats and processed vegetables oils, which are high in damaged omega-6 fats and PUFAs.

Eat more fiber

You can have virtually unlimited amounts of high-fiber vegetables, which are low in net carbs, Several studies have shown a 10 percent drop in risk for any cause of death with each 10-gram-per-day increase in fiber intake.

Soluble fiber helps nourish beneficial bacteria that assist with digestion and absorption of your food, and play a significant role in your immune function. Studies have also linked a high-fiber diet to beneficial reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation — all of which can influence your mortality risk.

Vegetable juicing

Vegetable juicing is an easy way to boost your vegetable intake, providing your body with important nutrients in an easily digestible form. The bulk of your juice should come from organic, green veggies – spinach, celery, kale, Swiss chard, etc. — not fruits, which are too high in fructose.

Grow (and eat) sprouts

Sprouts allow you to get the most benefit out of a plant in its most biologically concentrated form. When you sprout foods, you increase proteolytic enzymes that make both carbohydrates and proteins digestible. Sprouts are not only an excellent source of fiber, they also offer some of the highest levels of nutrition available, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage, plus various plant chemicals unique to any given sprout.

Sunflower seed and pea shoots are both typically about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables, and are among the highest in protein. Sprouts are one of the easiest foods to grow at home, even in small spaces, allowing you to improve your diet at a low cost. You can find sprout starter kits and different kinds of sprouting seeds in my online shop.

Optimize your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio

It’s important to understand the difference between plant- and animal-based omega-3 fats. Many believe plant-based omega-3 is preferable to animal-based omega-3, but they’re not really interchangeable. Ideally, you want both, but animal-based omega-3 is particularly important for optimal health and many are deficient in it.

Part of the problem is not eating enough omega-3 rich foods, like wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fatty fish like sardines. The other side of the equation is eating far too many processed vegetable oils like corn, soy, and canola, which are high in damaged omega-6 oils. Ideally, you want an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of about 1:1. To achieve that, you likely need to increase your animal-based omega-3 and decrease your omega-6.

Barring high consumption of fatty fish, your next best option is to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement. I prefer krill oil, as it’s both superior in its activity to fish oil, and more environmentally sustainable.

Moderate your protein consumption and choose quality over quantity

Eating too much protein may be more hazardous to your health, than eating too much sugar. I recommend eating a moderate amount of high-quality protein (think grass-fed meats and eggs, for example), based on a formula of one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (or 1 gram per kilo of lean body mass).

Eat fermented vegetables

In the U.S., the preparation of fermented foods is a largely lost art. I’m trying to change that, as fermented vegetables are such an inexpensive and effective way to optimize your gut microbiome and improve both your physical and mental health. When your GI tract is not properly balanced, a wide range of health problems can appear, including allergies and autoimmune diseases.

In fact, over the past several years, research has revealed that microbes of all kinds — bacteria, fungi, and even viruses — play instrumental roles in the functioning of your body, influencing everything from vitamin production and detoxification, to your affecting your weight and mood.

Fermented foods are packed with beneficial microorganisms that most people do not get elsewhere. Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health.

To learn how to make your own, please review the video below and read through my previous article, “Tips for Fermenting at Home.” Aside from your choice of vegetables, all you need are some wide-mouth glass jars with lids. There are other accessories that can be helpful, such as pounders, weights and carbon filter jar lids that help reduce odors, but they’re not essential.

One addition you may want to consider though is a starter culture. Besides speeding up the fermentation process, some can provide additional benefits. I like using a starter culture specifically designed to optimize vitamin K2. My research team found we could get 400 to 500 micrograms of vitamin K2 in a 2-ounce serving of fermented vegetables using such a starter culture, which is a clinically therapeutic dose for K2.

Clean up your condiments

Commercially prepared condiments are typically a mixture of low-quality, genetically engineered ingredients, chemical preservatives, fillers and taste and texture enhancers that have potential health risks. Fortunately, making your own isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. Recipes for homemade mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, ketchup and barbeque sauce can be found in my article, “What’s in Your Condiments?

#4 Get 8 Hours of Restful Sleep Each Night

Research shows most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night for optimal health. What makes sleep deprivationso detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many. It has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.

For example, 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.10 Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep. This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction).

Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. The resulting increase in appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Poor or insufficient sleep is also the strongestpredictor for pain in adults over 50.11

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed). If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene. You can also find useful tips in my “Top 5 Natural Sleep Aids” article.

Key recommendations for improving the amount and quality of your sleep include getting plenty of natural sunlight exposure in the early morning and mid-day, and avoiding blue light exposure in the evening. This includes avoiding electronic screens, which emit blue light unless you’ve installed light-altering software like f.lux. Another alternative is to use amber-colored glasses that block blue light, which can be purchased for about $10 on Amazon.

This is an ideal solution if you don’t want to change out your light bulbs and skip watching television before going to bed. Also make sure your sleeping quarter is dark to prevent melatonin suppression, which will make it difficult to fall asleep. I recommend installing thick drapes for this reason, but a far cheaper alternative is to use a sleep mask. An eye mask filled with lavender can be particularly soothing.

#5 Mind Your Oral Health

Poor oral health can contribute to systemic inflammation, raising your risk for bad breath, dementia, pneumonia, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease and head and neck cancers. So make it a habit to brush twice a day and floss daily. Oil pulling with coconut oil is another strategy that can help improve both your oral and general health by deep-cleaning your mouth and drawing out toxins. It also helps promote microbiome homeostasis, which is important for oral health.

Personally, this technique has significantly reduced my plaque buildup, allowing me to go longer between visits to the dental hygienist. How is it done? Simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. Work the oil around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 15 minutes.

When done, spit out the oil (do NOT swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water. I typically spit mine out on the soil outside of my house, being careful to avoid any plants, to avoid clogging up my sink. If you want, you could dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water and rinse with that. Himalayan salt contains more than 85 different minerals that can also help promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.

#6 Sit Less, Walk More and Work on Your Flexibility

The average American adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting, which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout cannot counteract its adverse effects on your health. While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature.

Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. Your body is designed to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead. To get more movement into your daily life, consider implementing the following:

Set a goal to walk about 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five U.S. miles, or six to nine kilometers). This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have. Daily walking has been shown to provide anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.

Walk barefoot more often. Your body is finely tuned to “work” with the Earth in the sense that there’s a constant flow of energy between your body and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.

The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process of grounding is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance well being and much more

Stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. A stand-up desk is certainly a worthwhile investment if you have an office job.

Work on your flexibility. Also make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are just some of your options.

#7 Get Your Vitamin D Level Tested

I recommend testing your vitamin D twice a year: around January, when your level will be at its lowest, and June or July, when it’ll be at its peak. This will help guide you as to how much vitamin D you may need to take in order to maintain a clinically relevant level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter year-round. Testing your vitamin D is easy. You don’t even need a doctor’s prescription.

As a service that is part of GrassrootsHealth’s vitamin D education efforts, I offer vitamin D testing kits in my online shop. I make no profit from these kits. It’s the same price you would pay were you to enroll in the GrassrootsHealth D*Action project.

#8 Make Stress Reduction a Daily Priority

Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may account for up to 70 percent of the average American physician’s caseload.12 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer. Research suggests these costs could be drastically cut simply by learning how to relax.13

There are many options here, so try a few to determine which works best. Here are just a few suggestions. For more tips and tricks, check out my “23 (Scientific) Happiness Hacks” article:

Daily meditation or mindfulness training: both are excellent for stress relief and relaxation. One simple way to incorporate these techniques into your life is to meditate for five or 10 minutes first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.

Yoga: regular yoga practice has been shown to have a positive effect on both sleep and stress. It’s also been shown to alleviate mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Keep a gratitude journal: people who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, are happier, and better able to reach their goals, and studies show that those who keep a gratitude journal typically end up exercising more and have fewer health complaints. Studies have also linked gratitude to improved sleep, reduced stress, enhanced well-being, improved heart health.

Learn EFT: one of the most effective tools against anxiety is EFT, which helps correct the biochemical short-circuiting that occurs with chronic anxiety. You can think of EFT as a tool for “reprogramming” your circuitry, and it works on both real and imagined stressors.

Start a garden: gardening is an excellent “blues buster,” helping relieve acute stress and attention fatigue associated with a fast-paced life. Many gardeners start out gardening because they want to sample some homegrown food but end up sticking with gardening because of how it feeds their mind and soul.

That said, anyone who’s really serious about improving their health will eventually conclude that growing your own food is an important part of the answer. For helpful tips on making your garden a success, please review my previous articles on usingwood chips and biochar to optimize your soil quality.

#9 Help Others and Be Active in Your Community

Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it’s also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you’ll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.

In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn’t.14 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.15

The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There’s a definite social aspect, as if you’re socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.

Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.

Sources and References

Obesity Is a Biochemical Problem Rooted in Excessive Fructose Consumption

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Dr. Robert Lustig’s 2009 video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” has now garnered nearly 6.5 million views on YouTube. The featured video is a follow-up on that original lecture.

In it, he discusses the metabolic influence of sugar and processed foods on obesity and related diseases. He also reviews the importance of diet versus exercise when weight loss is your goal.

Delving into the science behind different types of sugar, Lustig explains the metabolic differences between glucose and fructose, which is at the very heart of the obesity and diabetes problems.

What Do Rising Obesity and Diabetes Rates Suggest?

According to Lustig, 6 million American children were overweight or obese in 2001. Today that number exceeds 23 million.1 This is despite all the anti-obesity campaigns and measures launched since then.

Clearly, nutritional and weight loss recommendations provided to the public over the past 15 years are deeply and fundamentally flawed.

Worldwide, obese people now outnumber the starving by 30 percent. Fifteen years ago, this statistic was the reverse. Today, 5 percent of the global population is also diabetic. According to Lustig, these kinds of statistics suggest that obesity and diabetes are not due to behavior, but rather exposure.

If the trends continue, it’s been estimated that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese, and 100 million Americans — nearly one-third of the current population — will have diabetes by 2050. Meanwhile, Medicare is expected to be broke by 2026.

The fact of the matter is we’ve been following the same reasoning for the past 30 years, and the problem of obesity and diabetes keeps getting worse by the year. It is time to reframe how we view the problem, and how we resolve it.

Visceral Versus Subcutaneous Obesity

While 80 percent of the obese population is sick, it’s important to realize that metabolic dysfunction affects normal weight people as well. In fact, about 40 percent of normal weight individuals have the same health problems as those who are obese.

Lustig shows a cross-section image of the internal abdominal cavity of two individuals. They both weigh the same, yet one is healthy and the other is not. The one struggling with health issues has far more visceral fat — the fat that accumulates around the internal organs.

The number on your scale does not tell you how your fat is distributed. It also cannot tell you how much of your weight is due to fat (subcutaneous fat, which is not necessarily bad for your health and visceral fat, which is quite hazardous), and how much is bone or muscle.

Your waist circumference can give you a decent clue, but even this measurement isn’t foolproof, as there are many thin people who fall into the “thin on the outside and fat on the inside” category, a condition referred to as TOFI.

Those with TOFI have the same health problems as obese people, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

In short, obesity in and of itself is not the root cause of failing health worldwide. It’s merely another symptom. The real problem is metabolic syndrome, which accounts for 75 percent of all healthcare dollars spent in the U.S. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that include:

Diabetes Hypertension Lipid abnormalities Cardiovascular disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) Polycystic ovarian disease Cancer Dementia

Obesity and the Law of Thermodynamics

The law of thermodynamics says that “the total energy inside a closed system remains constant.” Obesity is said to be a result of this law. However, there are two different interpretations of this law.

1.The calories-in, calories-out interpretation. According to this interpretation, you have to use up the calories you ingest, or else the excess calories will turn into body fat and result in weight gain.

If this interpretation was correct, then the solution to weight gain would be a matter of energy balance, which is what the processed food and soda industries would like you to believe.

Since excess food consumption and lack of exercise are both behaviors, based on this interpretation, obesity is caused by personal shortcomings or choice.

The dogma associated with this interpretation is that “a calorie is a calorie,” and it doesn’t matter where the calories come from because they all produce the same results.

2.The energy deposition interpretation. If you accept that calories are NOT created equal and that obesity is the result of aberrant energy deposition, you can interpret the law of thermodynamics in a whole new way.

Essentially, in order to store fat, you have to increase your insulin level, and in order to raise your insulin you have to eat foods that cause it to spike.

As your insulin level becomes chronically elevated, insulin resistance sets in, which facilitates fat deposition. What foods raise insulin? The scientific evidence tells us that the most effective food source to raise insulin is fructose.

But there’s more. As previously explained by Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D, thermodynamics is about the movement of energy. The second law of thermodynamics says that “energy will be lost and energy will be used up in creating available energy,” and the thermic effects of nutrients vary.

For example, the thermic effect of protein, i.e. the energy used up in making protein available to your body, is somewhere around 25 to 30 percent whereas the thermic effect of carbohydrates is around 6 to 8 percent. In addition to that, your body self-regulates based on available energy.

If this interpretation is correct, and Lustig insists it is, the solution to weight gain has nothing to do with “energy balance.” Instead, the answer is to eat real food, which are low in sugar (and devoid of HFCS) and high in fiber and healthy fats.

Moreover, it removes the stigma that obese people are simply gluttonous and lazy, as behavior follows biochemical reactions and not the other way around. Ultimately, this interpretation reveals that obesity is a problem caused by a toxic (and addictive) food environment, not behavior.

Obesity Is a Biochemical Problem

To recap, Lustig persuasively argues that the primary reason causing all of these visceral fat-related health problems is excessive fructose in our diet. Granted, ALL sugars contribute to weight gain to a certain degree, but highly refined and processed fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), wreaks the most biochemical havoc, by negatively affecting your leptin and insulin sensitivity, which results in metabolic syndrome.

Leptin deficiency, a hereditary medical condition that affects about 14 people in the entire world, causes extreme obesity as the lack of this satiety hormone makes the brain think it’s starving all the time. What most people suffer with today is leptin resistance— a condition in which your body has lost its ability to register the signals from leptin. Still, the effect is much the same.

Leptin resistance, just like leptin deficiency, also causes you to become lethargic, as the brain doesn’t want to expend any energy when it believes it doesn’t have the energy to waste. So, as Lustig explains, obesity is a biochemical problem. It’s not about gluttony and sloth, which are largely voluntary behaviors.

According to his research, it’s quite clear that biochemistry drives behavior, so gluttony and sloth are the downstream results of biochemical dysfunction. They’re not the cause of the biochemical dysfunction.

Other Dietary Considerations

I have not had a chance to discuss this with Lustig and I’m not sure if his position has changed since he recorded this video, but I believe there are two other considerations that may be as significant, or even more of a contributing factor than sugar. Believe me, I’m a strong advocate of avoiding sugar, but that isn’t the entire story.

One also needs to limit protein, as excessive protein may have more of a deleterious health effect than excessive sugar. Most people would benefit from restricting the protein intake to 1 gram (gm) per kilogram (kg) of lean body mass.

So if you reduce net carbs and protein, you are only left with dietary fat, which may be one of the biggest culprits. Most of the fat people eat is unhealthy and consists of processed omega-6 vegetable oil (most of that fat is from soybean oil). In fact, the amount of soybean oil consumed in 2000 was more than 1,000 times higher than it was 100 years ago in 1900.

Insulin Blocking Leptin Is Another Factor

Leptin resistance correlates with higher amounts of body fat. So what blocks leptin from working properly? According to Lustig, once you solve that question, you solve the obesity problem. The answer to this question is insulin.

Insulin resistance produces weight gain, and there’s a biological purpose for this. During puberty and pregnancy, you need to gain excess fat for hormone production and the growth of another human being. So from a biological perspective, there are two life periods during which leptin should be blocked to allow for fat accumulation.

The problem is that for some reason, leptin is now being blocked by elevated insulin levels in a vast number of people all the time. So what causes chronically elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance? The answer is sugar, and more specifically fructose, which places a far greater metabolic burden on your body.

How Fructose Metabolism Gives Rise to Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity

A summary of fructose metabolism is as follows:

Every cell in your body utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is “burned up” immediately after you consume it. When you consume glucose, your liver only has to break down 20 percent of it.

By contrast, cells don’t use fructose for energy, so 100 percent of the fructose you eat is metabolized in your liver. Your liver is the only organ equipped with a fructose transporter, called GLUT5. Rather than being used as a quick energy source, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL, the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which are then stored as body fat.

When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat; 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat.

Fructose metabolism is very similar to ethanol metabolism, which has a multitude of toxic effects. The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and NAFLD.

As your body becomes increasingly resistant to insulin, your pancreas keeps releasing ever higher amounts of insulin in an effort to curb your rising blood sugar levels. Eventually, your pancreas loses the battle; your blood sugar levels keep rising, and you end up with metabolic syndrome and full-blown diabetes.

Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.

The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.

Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose, on the other hand, does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn fails to suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and blocks leptin signaling (the “satiety hormone”). The end result is overeating and insulin resistance. In short, fructose tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body’s natural appetite-control system.

The Dose Determines the Poison

While fructose is not a toxic substance in and of itself, when it’s consumed in excessive doses, your liver simply cannot metabolize it. And when the overexposure is chronic, metabolic syndrome develops, and this is true even if you’re not obese.

In short, fructose overconsumption damages your pancreas, liver and brain much like alcohol does, yet, despite its similarities, alcohol is regulated and fructose is not. As Lustig says, “You’d never consider giving your kid a beer, but you wouldn’t think twice about giving him a Coke, yet they do the same thing. That’s the problem.”

Another problem relates to the Maillard reaction, i.e., the browning reaction that occurs when glucose chemically interacts with the amino acid group of proteins.

This is what you see when you look at a piece of deep-fried chicken or a piece of toast, for example. Now, the Maillard or browning reaction also takes place inside your body. It’s a normal part of the aging process. The question is, how fast will this happen inside your body? The answer: the higher your fructose intake, the faster this chemical reaction takes place and the faster you age.

Diabetes Rates Correlate to Sugar Availability

By conducting an economic analysis of diet and diabetes prevalence, Lustig’s team was able to determine that changes in sugar availability were the only factor that correlated with changes in diabetes prevalence. For every 150 calorie increase, there was a 0.1 percent increase in diabetes. However, if those 150 calories came from soda, diabetes prevalence increased 11-fold, to 1.1 percent.

Extrapolating data further, Lustig claims that 25 percent of diabetes worldwide is attributable to sugar alone — not obesity or total calorie consumption, but sugar consumption specifically. Moreover, his research reveals how long it takes for increases in sugar consumption to translate into increases in diabetes. No matter which country you look at, three years after a spike in sugar consumption, diabetes rates rise.

“We have causal medical inference that sugar causes obesity,” Lustig says, which means that while more research is always needed, we already have enough evidence to act.

Sugar Is a Highly Addictive Substance

Adding insult to injury, sugar is also addictive. In fact, it’s been shown to be more addictive than cocaine. Sugar hijacks the reward center in your brain, causing brain changes identical to those in drug addicts and alcoholics. A critical player in all forms of addiction, including food addiction, is the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Groundbreaking research into addiction has revealed that you will not feel pleasure or reward unless dopamine binds with its receptor, called the D2 receptor, which is located all throughout the reward center in your brain. When dopamine links to this receptor, immediate changes take place in brain cells and then you experience a “hit” of pleasure and reward.

However, when you indulge in too much of any hyper-stimulator, be it cocaine, alcohol, sugar or caffeine, your brain’s reward center notes that you’re overstimulated, which the brain perceives as adverse to survival, and so it compensates by decreasing your sense of pleasure and reward. It does this by downregulating your D2 receptors, basically eliminating some of them.

But this survival strategy creates another problem, because now you don’t feel anywhere near the pleasure and reward you once had when you began your addiction, no matter whether it’s food or drugs. As a result, you develop tolerance which means that you want more and more of your fix, but never achieve the same “high” you once had. And so, cravings grow stronger. Addiction to any one substance also increases your risk of cross-addiction to other addictive substances.

Eating REAL Food Is the Answer

The concerted effort by the processed food industry to make their products as addictive as possible has the unfortunate side effect of stimulating your metabolism to burn carbs (sugar) as its primary fuel. As long as you are burning carbs as your primary fuel, you will strongly crave these types of foods.

The solution is to decrease the amount of processed foods and net carbs (total carbs minus fiber — think sugars) you eat, and replace them with real foods, i.e. high-quality whole foods, especially low net-carb vegetables.

As noted by Lustig, every single diet that works is a diet based on real food. Also remember that net carbs (i.e. non-fiber carbohydrates) need to be replaced with healthy fats to successfully achieve this metabolic switchover. Overall, a real food diet is high in fiber and healthy fats, and low in net carbs.

If you suffer from junk food cravings, especially cravings for sugar, know that intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways to end them. Sugar cravings will dramatically diminish, if not vanish altogether, once your body starts burning fat instead of sugar as its primary fuel.

To protect your health, I recommend spending 90 percent of your food budget on real food, and only 10 percent or less on processed foods. Unfortunately, most Americans do the opposite, which is why so many struggle with junk food cravings, weight gain and poor health.

Remember, virtually ALL processed foods are loaded with HFCS. According to Lustig, of the 600,000 items in the U.S. food supply, 80 percent of them contain HFCS and other added sugars. And the reason for this is because the food industry knows that when they add sugar, you eat and buy more of it, for all the reasons discussed above.

If anyone tries to tell you “sugar is sugar,” or “a calorie is a calorie,” they are way behind the times. As you can see, there are major differences in how your body processes fructose and glucose. The bottom line is: fructose leads to increased visceral fat, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome — not to mention the long list of chronic diseases that result from it.

To learn more, please see the Institute for Responsible Nutrition’s (IRN) website, responsiblefoods.org. IRN is an organization that Lustig helped set up for the purpose of “providing medical, nutritional and legal analysis and consultation to promote personal and public health against Big Food.”

Sources and References

The Importance of Daily Flossing

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Your dental health is an important component of your physical health. It’s a frequently underappreciated aspect that can have a profound systemic influence. In fact, thousands of studies have linked oral disease to systemic disease.

Your mouth is like a window to your health; the soft tissues and your teeth reflect what’s going on in the rest of your body. Inflammation is well-known as a “ravaging” and disease-causing force, and gum disease and other oral diseases produce chronic low-grade inflammation.

When the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease enter into your circulatory system, it causes your liver to release C-reactive proteins, which have inflammatory effects on your entire circulatory system.

Health Risks Associated With Poor Oral Health

People who fail to brush their teeth twice a day may be putting themselves at risk of heart disease,1,2 and advanced gum disease can raise your risk of a fatal heart attack up to 10 times.

There’s also a 700 percent higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among those with gum disease, courtesy of the inflammatory effects of unbalanced microflora in your mouth. Other health effects associated with poor oral health include an increased risk of:3

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Dementia: failing to brush twice a day increases your risk of dementia by as much as 65 percent, compared to brushing three times a day
  • Pneumonia: good oral hygiene has been shown to lower your risk of pneumonia by about 40 percent. Other research has shown that people with periodontitis have a 300 percent greater chance of contracting pneumonia
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED is more than twice as common among those with periodontitis than those without ED
  • Kidney disease and more

Overall, your diet is the most significant determinant of your oral and dental health, but how you clean your teeth can also make a big difference. Flossing, for example, is an important strategy, yet one-third of American adults never floss. If you’re one of them, I’d encourage you to reconsider.

The Importance of Flossing

Flossing is perhaps even more important than brushing because it removes bacteria that are the precursors of plaque, which if left to fester will turn into tartar that cannot be removed by regular brushing or flossing.

Tartar is what eventually causes the damage that leads to decay and tooth loss. Most people are aware that flossing is a recommended practice for optimal oral health, yet nearly one-third of Americans never floss.

Remarkably, 1 in 5 Americans also does not brush their teeth twice a day.4 According to a recent investigation:5

  • 32.4 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 30 never floss
  • 37.3 percent floss, but not daily
  • 30.3 percent floss on a daily basis
  • More women than men never floss
  • Low-income participants are less likely to floss than those in higher income brackets

Flossing Guidelines

Use a piece of floss that is about 15 to 18 inches long, wrapping each end around your index fingers. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it around the side of the tooth in the shape of a “C.”

Scrub the area by moving the floss up and down, and back and forth. Make sure you scrub both sides of the adjacent teeth before moving on to the next set.

If you have wider spaces between your teeth, use Super Floss, which is thicker.6 If dexterity is an issue, use soft plaque removers. Similar to toothpicks, they allow you to clean between your teeth with one hand. A double-pronged floss holder is another option.

While flossing, you can get telltale signs of potential health problems. For example, bleeding gums is a warning sign that you have bacteria in your mouth causing damage, which can easily spread through your blood stream and cause chronic inflammation elsewhere in your body.

The answer is to gently floss and brush more often, until your gums no longer bleed from brushing or flossing. If bleeding persists longer than a week, see a dentist.

Keep in mind that a Waterpik cannot replace flossing. These types of irrigation tools can also be hard on your gums. The truth is, if you brush and floss, you have no need for a Waterpik. That said, it can be beneficial if you have braces.

Tooth Brushing Guidelines

Research suggests the ideal brushing time is two minutes, and the ideal pressure is 150 grams (gm), which is about the weight of an orange.7 Brushing your teeth too hard and longer than necessary can cause more harm than good.

Researchers found that brushing longer than two minutes, and/or using pressure greater than 150 gm does not remove any additional plaque, so there’s a “Goldilocks’ zone” when brushing, and there’s no reason to keep going past that point.

When it comes to toothpaste, I recommend using non-fluoridated versions. There are a growing number of such toothpastes on the market these days, as more people are becoming aware of fluoride’s downsides and dangers.

Other toxic toothpaste ingredients to avoid include triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol and diethanolamine (DEA).

Alternatively, you could make your own toothpaste8 using ingredients such ascoconut oil, baking soda (which acts as an abrasive and helps with whitening), and a pinch of Himalayan salt. High-quality peppermint essential oil can be added for flavor and cavity prevention.

The Case for Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. When combined with the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, I believe it can be a powerful tool to improve your oral health. The high lauric content of coconut oil makes it a strong inhibitor of a wide range of pathogenic organisms, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa.

However, it also helps promote oral microbiome homeostasis, which is really important, as you don’t want to kill all microbes.

Oil pulling is thought to improve oral and physical health by reducing your toxic load. By swishing and “pulling” the oil between your teeth, it helps draw out pathogens that might otherwise migrate into other areas of your body. When done correctly, oil pulling has a significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing effect.

Naturopathic physician and coconut oil expert Dr. Bruce Fife has compared the benefits of oil pulling to changing the oil in your car:9

“It acts much like the oil you put in your car engine. The oil picks up dirt and grime. When you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean.

Consequently, the engine runs smoother and lasts longer. Likewise, when we expel harmful substances from our bodies our health is improved and we run smoother and last longer.”

Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but it has a relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils and the large amounts of unsaturated fats make it particularly sensitive to oxidation and going rancid.

I strongly believe coconut oil is a far superior option. I also think it tastes better. Coconut oil has a lipophilic effect, helping to eliminate unhealthy biofilm from your teeth. As noted by Authority Nutrition,10 it’s particularly effective at killing Streptococcus mutans, an oral bacterium responsible for a majority of tooth decay.

Coconut oil also contains a number of valuable nutrients that help promote oral health. That said, from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, either oil is likely to work.

So how do you do it? It’s quite simple, actually. You simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. Work the oil around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 15 minutes. This process allows the oil to dislodge and neutralize pathogens and other debris.

When done, spit out the oil (do NOT swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water. I typically spit mine out on the soil outside of my house, being careful to avoid any plants. If you want, you could dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water and rinse with that. Himalayan salt contains more than 85 different microminerals, so this is another all-natural strategy that can help promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.

Poor Oral Health Is a Risk Factor for Oropharyngeal Cancers

Poor oral hygiene has also been linked to an increased risk for head and neck cancers. As noted in a recent analysis of 13 studies that were part of the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) Consortium, lack of tooth brushing and low frequency of dental visits consistently raised the risk of head and neck cancers.11,12

Poor oral health is also an independent risk factor for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which could contribute to oral cancers such as cancers of the throat, tonsils, and base of tongue, if left untreated for long periods of time.

In one 2013 study,13,14 participants with poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of HPV infection than those with healthy mouths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV,15 but according to this study it could be as high as 80 percent.

The researchers speculate that good oral hygiene could help prevent HPV infection, thereby lowering your risk for oropharyngeal and other cancers associated with untreated HPV infection.

The Importance of Nourishing Your Oral Microbiome

Part of oral health is attending to your oral microbiome — the colonies of beneficial microbes residing in your mouth. Achieving oral health is really about promoting balance among the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in your mouth.

And contrary to popular belief, antimicrobial agents and alcohol mouthwashes designed to “kill bad bacteria” actually do far more harm than good in this regard, as they can be indiscriminate killers. The key is to nourish the beneficial bacteria, so they can naturally keep the potentially harmful ones in check.

Your oral microbiome, while connected to your gut microbiome, is quite unique. By promoting oral microbiome homeostasis, you can improve your digestion and salivary immune system, the latter of which helps protect you against disease, such as the common cold and flu. Your oral microbiome even plays a role in making vitamins.

Interestingly, probiotics do not work in the mouth, so it’s not as simple as adding more beneficial microbes into your oral cavity. Instead, as an initial step, you need to cease killing too many microbes in your mouth. Scientists are now starting to recognize that many of the same bacteria that perform beneficial functions can have pathogenic expression when disturbed. So avoiding disrupting the microflora in your mouth is typically more helpful than trying to kill everything off.

Even natural antimicrobial herbs can disrupt your oral microbiome. This includes tea tree oil, tulsi oil and oregano oil. The problem stems from the fact that beneficial bacteria end up having less of a chance of developing a healthy and balanced microbiome when you disturb them too much.

Promoting Oral Health Through Nutrition and Homeopathy

So what are your alternatives? While probiotics do not have a direct effect on your oral microbiome, addressing your gut flora can make a big difference. Fermented vegetables and other traditionally fermented foods are an ideal source, but if you don’t eat fermented foods, then a high-quality probiotic is certainly recommended.

I used to be severely challenged with plaque, but once I started eating fermented vegetables on a daily basis, and doing oil pulling with coconut oil, the plaque buildup was dramatically reduced. Your diet can also make or break your teeth, as it were, by influencing inflammation. Avoiding the following dietary culprits can go a long way toward reducing or preventing inflammation in your mouth and body:

  • Refined sugar/processed fructose and processed grains
  • Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
  • Foods cooked at high temperatures
  • Trans fats
  • Damaged omega-6 fats found in processed vegetable oils

Certain nutrients are very important for optimal gum health. Vitamin C is one. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is another. CoQ10 is a critical cofactor in the Krebs cycle, which is how energy is created in your cells. Bleeding gums, for example, can be a sign of CoQ10 deficiency. There are also a number of homeopathic tissue salts that can be beneficial for oral health, including:

  • Silica
  • Calcarea fluorica (calc. fluor.) or calcium fluoride
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Calcium carbonate

4 Strategies That Can Improve Your Oral Health

Research revealing the connection between the microorganisms in your mouth and cancer (as well as many other health problems) makes it clear that oral hygiene is a necessary prerequisite if you want to be healthy. Major problems can result from the overgrowth of opportunistic oral pathogens, including oropharyngeal cancers. In addition to avoiding fluoride and mercury fillings, my top four recommendations for optimizing your oral health are as follows:

  1. Eat a wholesome diet of real food: fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-pastured meats, poultry, eggs and dairy; nuts and seeds. Minimize consumption of sugar and processed food
  2. Add in some naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee or kefir
  3. Brush your teeth twice daily, and floss every day
  4. Oil pulling

When it comes to oral hygiene and preventing cavities, please remember, drinking fluoridated water and brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste is not the answer because fluoride is more toxic than lead. Rather it’s about your diet, and about proper dental care: brushing and flossing.

By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Following up with proper brushing and flossing, and getting regular cleanings will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy naturally.

Sources and References

Rash of Foodborne Outbreaks Highlight Dangers of Industrialized Food System

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Pandemic outbreaks are becoming more prevalent in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), revealing the inherent flaws of industrialized animal farming. When you remove diversity from a farm, you raise the risks of the operation, including the risk of disease.

Prior to CAFOs, when a virus would emerge, some small farms would lose part or all of their animals, but the numbers would be limited. It didn’t explode into a massive epidemic where millions of animals and countless food products are affected across the country, and in some cases around the world.

As noted by online science magazine Nautilus,1 the combination of factory farms and air travel “forms a viral expressway to pandemics.”

Factory Farms Make Food Production Riskier

The first bird flu pandemic emerged in 2005, with repeats in 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, followed by the threat of a swine flu pandemic in 2009, the origin of which was traced to an infected pig in Mexico.

As reported in the featured article,2 the 2009 swine flu virus was also eventually  linked to an infected pig in a Chinese slaughterhouse, documented in 2004.

The viral strains were not identical, but close enough for researchers to conclude that the 2009 virus probably evolved through the mixing of gene segments of viruses found in pigs around the world.

When animals (and other foods3) are shipped from one location to another, they bring with them potentially brand new pathogens that can then mingle and mix with local pathogens.

“Most mutant strains are failures. But sometimes a strain is produced through genetic recombination and reassortment that’s more ‘fit’ in the Darwinian sense than either of its ancestors.

The viruses that dwelled inside the 2004 Hong Kong pig and its deadly cousin in Mexico were triple-recombinant. They assembled genes that originated from strains of human, pig, and bird flu together into a single strain,” Nautilus writes.

“Scientists couldn’t pinpoint how H1N1 jumped from swine to humans in 2009. But they do know that once it did, modern air travel became a viral expressway.”

Large-scale factory slaughterhouses magnify the risks, as animals from multiple CAFOs are all processed in one area, allowing infection in a single animal from a single farm to contaminate very large batches of meat — and any number of processed foods into which those contaminated meats are included.

Foodborne Outbreaks Are on the Rise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella is on the rise in the U.S.4 The agency is currently investigating no less than seven multi-state outbreaks related to contaminated poultry (including live chickens) that have infected more than 300 people.

But chicken isn’t the only food prone to Salmonella. Factory farmed eggs, of course, are a high-risk food in this regard, but so are plant foods.

Even antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present in agricultural soils, typically deposited there via contaminated manure and/or so-called biosolids (toxic sewage waste frequently passed off as organic potting soil)5 — and this is yet another route for harmful bacteria, including drug-resistant strains, into the food system.

In recent weeks there has been a remarkable uptick in foodborne disease outbreaks, affecting a number of foods and nutritional products you normally would not suspect, including:

Flour. General Mills has voluntarily recalled more than 10 million pounds of flour after it was suspected as the source of Escherichia coli O121(E. coli), which has sickened 38 people in 20 states. Ten of them required hospitalization.6

The recall includes three brands of flour: Gold Medal, Gold Medal Wondra and Signature Kitchens, sold at Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Shaws, Vons, United Supermarkets, Randalls and Acme retailers.

Sunflower seeds. Listeria-contaminated sunflower seeds have led to the recall of about 100 different food products, including Brown & Haley Mountain Thins trail mix and more than 33,600 pounds of Trader Joe’s’ broccoli and kale chicken salad.7

Multi-vitamins. Nature Made recently issued a voluntary recall of several of its gummy vitamins and vitamin D tablets due to potential Salmonellaor Staphylococcus (Staph) contamination.8

Drug-Resistant Bacterial Gene Is Spreading Around the World as Anticipated

Add to this the fact that E. coli carrying the drug-resistant mcr-1 gene has now been detected in the U.S., and the situation can be considered dire indeed.

Mcr-1 was discovered in pigs and people in China just last year.9,10,11 It’s a mutated gene that confers resistance to the drug colistin, an antibiotic of last resort in human medicine.

The shareable DNA also contains seven other genes that confer resistance against other antibiotics.

What makes mcr-1 such a unique threat is the fact that the rate of DNA transfer between different types of bacteria is exceptionally high and rapid, suggesting bacteria of all kinds can quickly and easily become resistant to all available antibiotics (pan resistance).

Moreover, the researchers who found the gene warned it would likely spread to bacteria worldwide,12,13 and that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Originally detected in China in 2015, within months it was found in the blood of a Danish patient.

It was also found in five poultry samples purchased in Denmark that were imported from Germany between 2012 and 2014.14 Then just last month, the gene was found in a U.S. slaughterhouse sample (pork) and an American patient admitted with an E. coli infection.15,16,17

When you consider the frequency with which foodborne outbreaks occur, the knowledge that any given outbreak may involve a pan resistant bacteria is truly food for thought, if not cause for change.

Could Chicken Virus Promote Obesity?

In related news, research suggests certain chicken viruses may have the unexpected effect of causing obesity in infected humans. A 1997 study18 found that 1 out of 5 obese people tested positive for the presence of a chicken virus called SMAM-1.

Surprisingly, these people weighed on average 33 pounds more than obese people who tested negative for the virus. According to Dr. Michael Greger, director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States, and blogger at NutritionFacts.org:19

“SMAM-1 was the first chicken virus to be associated with human obesity, but not the last … [H]uman adenovirus Ad-36, a human obesity-associated virus first associated with obesity in chickens and mice … spreads quickly from one chicken to another via nasal, oral or fecal excretion and contamination, causing obesity in each chicken. This, of course, raises serious concerns about Ad-36-induced adiposity in humans …

The virus appears to both increase the number of fat cells by mobilizing precursor stem cells and increase the accumulation of fat within the cells. If we take liposuction samples of fat from people, the fat cell precursors turn into fat cells at about five times the rate in people who came to the liposuction clinic already infected. Fat taken from non-infected people that was then exposed to the virus start sucking up fat at a faster rate, potentially inducing obesity without increasing food intake.”

Barring the unethical testing on humans by infecting them with the virus, it’s difficult to prove that a chicken virus might cause a person to become obese. Indirect evidence and population studies, however, suggest about 15 percent of the U.S. population carry the obesity-promoting Ad-36 virus, and a research team in Taiwan that followed 1,400 Hispanic men and women for 10 years found that those infected did indeed gain more weight than their uninfected peers.20

UV Light Helps Combat Pathogens

The food and medical industries tend to combat harmful bacteria primarily through the use of antibiotics, but that strategy is directly responsible for putting us in this situation in the first place. Misuse of these drugs has spawned antibiotic-resistant bacteria that now kill an estimated 23,000 Americans each year. By 2050, the death toll from drug-resistant infections is expected to reach 10 million a year worldwide.

There are alternatives, but they must be widely implemented. And fast. UV light, for example, especially blue light, acts as a potent environmental disinfectant that could potentially be used both in medicine and food production. Research has found UV light can:

  • Reduce the spread of tuberculosis in hospital wards and waiting rooms by 70 percent21,22
  • Help kill 90 percent of drug-resistant bacteria in hospital rooms23
  • Kill drug-resistant strains of Staph and Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis) in as little as five seconds24
  • Disinfect water without the addition of other harsh chemicals25

Most recently, researchers found that so-called “far-UVC light” (UV light with a wavelength of around 200 nanometers) kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).26

The far-UVC wavelength cannot penetrate deeply enough into the human skin or eye to do any damage. It can however penetrate bacterial cells, due to their smaller size. The researchers are now investigating whether far-UVC may work in a clinical setting, with the hopes of being able to decrease hospital-acquired infections, which currently affect 1 in 25 hospital patients.

Researchers have also discovered it makes antibiotic drugs 1,000 times more effective and may even allow an antibiotic to successfully combat otherwise antibiotic-resistant bacteria.27,28 For at-home wound care, you may want to consider stocking a bottle of silver, which has potent antimicrobial effects.29,30,31,32,33

A 2010 study found colloidal silver effectively killed drug-resistant Staph, E. coli, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa,34 the latter of which typically occurs in hospitals and in people with weakened immune systems.35 Researchers have even found that using silver nanoparticles in food packaging can help prevent proliferation of foodborne pathogens such as Listeria.36,37

Diversification and Decentralization Is the Solution

In the long term, regenerative and local agriculture is the answer to these food safety issues, as well as many other problems. While it may not be the easiest solution to implement, it’s the best and most logical solution. By shifting back to smaller farms that serve their local community, you dramatically increase food safety by reducing the number of animals and people that could possibly be affected by any given outbreak.

Regenerative agriculture also does away with most drugs, as they’re not necessary in a well-designed system that supports rather than challenges the health of the animals, plants and soil. Some people question whether regenerative or organic agriculture would be economically viable, or whether that might make food insecurity even worse by raising food prices too high.

According to industrial agriculture insider John Ikerd, who has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics, neither of these concerns are particularly valid.

He insists that while transitioning over to a more sustainable type of food system may result in farm cost increases of 8 to 12 percent, the actual price you pay for the food would only rise about 2 percent — a small price to pay when you compare it to the possibility of contracting pan-resistant food poisoning, like E. coli or Salmonella poisoning for which NO drug will work.

Together We Can Create Safer, More Sustainable Food Systems

You can help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more regenerative systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, local produce over “cheap” conventional varieties commonly sold in larger grocery chains.

You can also slash your food bill by focusing on locally grown foods that are in season, typically a bargain at that time of year, or by growing some of your own. Remember to choose organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised beef, poultry, and dairy, in addition to organic produce.

While many grocery stores now carry organic foods, it’s preferable to source yours from local growers whenever possible, as much of the organic food sold in grocery stores is imported. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

EatWild.com

EatWild.com provides lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome and raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other organic produce. Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably-grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

FoodRoutes Network

The FoodRoutes Network “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com

If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF)38 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.39 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

Sources and References

The Three Pillars of Heavy Metal Detoxification

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Mercury is a pernicious neurotoxin. Removing it, however, needs to be done with great care, lest you cause even more problems.

Chris Shade, Ph.D., is probably one of the foremost experts in the world on the subject of heavy metal detoxification, and in this interview, he shares his wisdom on this important topic.

Shade received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he studied the environmental transformations of mercury.

He’s developed a patented liquid chromatographic mercury speciation technology that differentiates and identifies the exactly source of your mercury — whether it’s from your dental amalgams, or from eating contaminated seafood.

He’s also involved in developing new lipid-based delivery systems for nutraceuticals, including liposomes and micro-emulsion systems to address the need for effective and affordable detoxification.

“We had sophisticated computational tools for telling us what kind of ligands (binding molecules) are holding the mercury. What I was tasked with was developing an analytical system for separating different forms of mercury out,”he says.

“You’ve got methylmercury (which is the form that builds up in fish) and then you have inorganic mercury. In the environment, inorganic mercury is everywhere …

I developed these chromatographic tools that would enable a high-throughput analysis of biological samples to separate these different forms.”

 

The Mercury Tri-Test

In your body, glutathione is the dominant agent that binds to and helps move mercury (and other heavy metals) out of your tissues. Part of effectively eliminating mercuryinvolves methods that help upregulate certain aspects of your chemistry that then mobilizes and moves the mercury out.

I actually used Shade’s diagnostic tests and detox processes about five years ago to help me detox from mercury amalgams, and was able to cut my mercury level down to normal, quite quickly.

The test he developed is called the Mercury Tri-Test, because it looks at three different kinds of samples: blood, hair, and urine. You always have more mercury in your tissues than in your blood. But there’s a steady state or ratio between what’s in your blood and what’s in your tissues.

Hair is an excretion marker for methylmercury, while urine is an excretion marker for inorganic mercury. These levels should be directly proportional to the levels in your blood.

“The most telling of these, the most importantly diagnostic of these ratios, is looking at the inorganic mercury in the blood compared to the inorganic mercury in the urine.

For a given amount of inorganic [mercury] in the blood, there should be roughly a seven-fold increase in the urine, as [mercury] is filtered out in the urine. But what we find that a lot of people have low [mercury in] urine, and high [mercury in their] blood.”

 

What the Blood to Urine Ratios Indicate

The reason for this has to do with retention toxicity. If two people have 10 amalgams, the sicker of the two will be the one whose urine output of mercury is lower; typically due to damage to the active transport system in the proximal tubules of the nephrons.

More specifically, when the mercury in your blood rises above the 1:7 ratio to the urine, it means your proximal tubule transporters in your kidneys have been damaged.

Your kidneys filter everything in your blood. After the general filtration, in the proximal tubules your body resorbs ions and nutrients it needs to keep, while toxins are actively shuttled out into the urine flow.

“This is what we’re measuring — that movement into the urinary flow of the toxic conjugates. That area in the proximal tubules is very, very easily damaged. In mouse models, a combination of endotoxin and mercury exposure creates that damage to those transport proteins.

Obviously, probably the biggest thing on the radar of integrative and functional medicine right now is leaky gut syndrome and gastrointestinal (GI) problems. They are the number one cause of getting high endotoxin levels in your body.

If you have a high mercury level and a leaky gut, you’re very likely to damage the very transport system that’s getting that mercury out of your body.

That’s going to lead to [increased] inorganic mercury levels in the blood. That diagnostic is really important. If that ratio’s off, we need to start by treating your kidneys before we go into the main detoxification.”

 

The Difference Between Inorganic Mercury and Methylmercury

The Mercury Tri-Test is the only clinical test out there that differentiates between the inorganic form of mercury (typically found in amalgam fillings) and organic mercury or methylmercury (from fish), allowing you to tailor the most ideal detoxification protocol for your situation.

While many believe all mercury is the same, this is not necessarily the case. Inorganic mercury is much more toxic to the extracellular matrix and thus to connective tissues.

If you’re having joint problems or fibromyalgia-like pain, you need to work on getting rid of this inorganic mercury, and you need to make sure your kidney transporters are working well.

Metylmercury is a less cytotoxic (toxic to the cells) form of mercury. If you only have methylmercury in your body, it’s all going through glutathione conjugation to your liver, and on to your GI tract.

On the cellular level, the inorganic mercury, is more disruptive because it can bind to more sulfhydryl groups and disrupt more chemistry than methylmercury can.

“For instance, if somebody only has methyl mercury exposure from eating fish and has no amalgams … they’re going to break down a certain amount of the methyl mercury into the inorganic mercury pool. But that’s not a fixed rate. That’s an individual reaction that we don’t really understand.

I suspect it’s related to oxidative stress. But some people break down a lot and really build up this inorganic mercury pool despite not having amalgams; some people breakdown only a little bit.

Those who break down a lot are much more at risk from toxicity from their fish than if they’re not doing that. They have two forms of mercury building up in their blood, including the worst one — the inorganic mercury. It’s important that we divide those and see how well you’re excreting the two.”

 

Primary Sources of Mercury Exposure

Seafood is essentially the sole source of methylmercury. However, it’s a major source of mercury, and it can be problematic if you eat a lot of seafood. The type of seafood you eat also plays a big role. At the top of the food chain, a shark might have 4 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm methylmercury in its tissues. According to Shade, swordfish is routinely 1 to 5 ppm, and tuna is routinely in the 1 to 2 ppm range

Toward the bottom of the food chain you have sardines and anchovies, which may contain 1 to 10 parts per billion (ppb) of methylmercury, or nearly 1,000 times less mercury.

Wild salmon like Coho and sockeye can be in the 10 to 100 ppb range — a hundred-plus-fold lower level than high-level shark, tuna, and swordfish. Depending on the fish you compare, there could be a thousand-fold difference between the mercury levels. To put that into perspective, it’s like eating 1,000 pounds of anchovies versus 1 pound of shark. So if you eat fish on a regular basis, it’s really important to look for species known to be low in mercury.

“A dentist I know, Dr. Dave Regiani, had mercury levels measured with us. I said, ‘You obviously don’t eat any fish. He goes, ‘I eat fish every day.’ So I said, ‘Sardines and anchovies?’ He said, ‘You got it.’ It looks like he’s not eating fish at all. When you get down into kippers, anchovies, and sardines, you can eat them at will all day long, and you’re never going to build up high levels [of mercury].”

Inorganic mercury exposure is dominantly from dental amalgam and the breakdown of fish-based mercury into the inorganic form. Airborne mercury is the third and least troublesome source. Exceptions include some older buildings, such as old medical, dental, agricultural, and scientific buildings, where mercury levels could be quite significant.

How Mercury Damages Your Health

Inorganic mercury and cadmium are the two heavy metals that cause the most damage to your kidneys. They tend to build up there, causing a downward spiral where the more damage there is to the proximal tubules, the more metals accumulate, and the more damage is created. Many have suffered damage from doing chelation for this reason. By using the Tri-Test, you can determine whether chelation is a good idea or not.

When you take a chelating agent, such as DMSA, you solubilize a lot of mercury in the form that needs to be filtered out through the proximal tubules. This can be a risky type of mercury detoxification and typically isn’t necessary. Nevertheless, if you choose to use it, make sure you are working with a highly skilled clinician in this area.

This is because if your kidneys are not working properly, then mercury gets bound up, causing inflammatory damage around the kidneys, which can actually worsen the problem by causing chronic renal insufficiency. (On a side note, a relatively low-protein diet [typically less than 40 to 50 grams per day] can be a beneficial strategy if you have kidney problems such as this.)

“The central nervous system and nephrotoxicity (or kidney toxicity) are the most well-understood damages,” Shade says. “It should be said that in neurotoxicity, the most common site for damage is the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor or the glutamate receptor, which causes hyperglutamate activity, which leads to anxiety.

Glutamate excess or excess activity of the glutamate receptor makes a chronic peroxynitrite free radical cascade coming off of those receptors that causes neuroinflammation, which gives you brain fog and fuzzy thinking. It also causes a lot of anxiety and disrupts your autonomic nervous system function … That’s another downward spiral.

Thyroid problems is also a huge one — hypothyroid activity or lack of thyroid activity. It’s mostly damaging the deiodinase, which takes the T4 and moves it to T3. If you’re looking at your thyroid labs and you have a high T4 but a low T3, mercury, cadmium, or arsenic are the most dominant players in breaking that chain.

Inorganic mercury also builds up in connective tissue, leading to a lot of joint pains. If you’re having lower back pain, a lot of hip pains, connective tissue pains, or diffused pains like fibromyalgia, and you have dental amalgams, that’s a very common situation. We see people’s joint pains and connective tissue pains clear up a lot when they get rid of their amalgams and clear all that mercury out.”

 

The Importance of Optimizing Your GI Tract

Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems, and Shade’s work has led to treatment strategies that are far safer and more effective than earlier detox methods used by many alternative practitioners, including myself and Shade.

“Most of us are pioneers because we poison ourselves and had to figure ourselves how to get out of that. That was exactly what I did and that’s exactly how this all came about …

Nigel Plummer, Ph.D., (one of the probiotic leaders of the world) and Dr. Robert Rountree (one of the leaders in GI and functional medicine) were speaking back to back at the Colorado Functional Medicine Forum, talking about how the GI tract reacts to the toxins coming through it and is signaling your immune systems on how to do things.

At the time, I was doing really badly with my DMSA chelation protocol, and I suddenly realized I was accumulating mercury in the GI tract and not moving that out. That was stagnating the system. I started taking strong mercury binders. We have one called Intestinal Metal Detox (IMD), which is a silica particle saturated with sulfhydryl groups. One 6-gram bottle of that is equal to 3,000 to 5,000 chlorellas, which is what had been used naturopathically.

Once I cleared that metal out of the GI tract, it seemed to open up the liver’s ability to work with the small intestine, start moving that load out of there, and take the load away from the kidney. It worked so well, that provoked me to do a lot of research and figure out exactly why it worked,” Shade says.

In short, when there’s inflammation and/or toxin build-up in the GI tract, the movement of toxins from the liver and the GI tract ceases, and everything gets shuttled over to the kidneys. Unless you can open up that liver-GI path, you end up overloading your kidney with toxins. Then, if you try to mobilize all that mercury with a chelator, it all hits the kidneys and cause even more damage. So part of the solution is to “clear out” the GI path first.

Detox Step 1: Optimize Your Filtration Mechanisms

Intestinal Metal Detox (IMD) is a powerful mercury and heavy metal chelator, hundreds of times more potent than chlorella. It helps take the pressure off your kidneys by restoring the natural dominant detox pathway — from your liver to your GI tract and out through fecal excretion. So the first part of the detox involves clearing the metal out of your GI tract with specific metal binders.

The primary endotoxin binder is charcoal, and clay binds to aflatoxin. Ideally, you’ll want to use a combination of IMD/chlorella, charcoal, and clay to cover all the bases. Quicksilver Scientific is the sole source for IMD. Chlorella, charcoal and clay can be found in most health food stores and grocery stores.

“I like a cocktail of GI binders, including a metal-specific one like IMD or chlorella, charcoal (which gets almost all the other mycotoxins, except for aflatoxin), and clay (which gets aflatoxin but not the other mycotoxins). Then you’ve got the pesticides and herbicides. In that mix of different binders, you’re going to be able to get almost all of them. It’s really important in a detox to have a good cocktail of GI binders,” Shade says.

Remember, detoxing involves moving the toxin out of the cell; squeezing the toxin out of the cell into your blood circulation, and then filtering out the metals through your kidneys, liver, and GI tract. However, you need to begin by assessing your filtration capacity before you start moving toxins out of your tissues. If you’re feeling awful, it means toxins are building up in circulation faster than they’re being filtered out.

To ensure your filters are working properly, begin by supporting your kidneys, liver, and GI tract, and use binders to capture and eliminate metals and toxins in your GI tract.

Classic herbs known to support healthy liver and kidney function include: dandelion, milk thistle, and bitters like gentian and myrrh. For added kidney support, cranberry (a diuretic), solidago (goldenrod), and corn silk can be used. Shade’s favorite is goldenrod. General kidney and liver support formulas are also viable options.

Adding burdock will help clear your blood. Dandelion is a good all-around option as it supports blood, liver, and kidney. Be sure to drink lots of water to flush the toxins out.

Detox Step 2: Address Detoxification Biochemistry

Next, you need to optimize the metabolic biochemistry needed for detoxification. That biochemistry involves glutathione and the enzymes and transporters that work with it, such as the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST), which is responsible for catalyzing and moving the mercury off the cellular proteins onto the glutathione.

There are several well-known nutraceuticals that help accomplish this. The most well-known and most reliable is lipoic acid. R-lipoic acid is the biologically active form, which is the most useful. Alpha-lipoic acid does work, but that’s a mixture of R-lipoic acid and S-lipoic acid, the latter of which actually works against the process. So R-lipoic acid (sometimes also called R-alpha-lipoic acid) is the one to look for.

“R-lipoic acid hits a switch called nuclear factor erythroid 2 (Nrf2). It’s a protein made to translocate into the nucleus. It hits promoter regions on genes. Promoter regions are signals for families of genes to turn on. If you want to accomplish something, there’s usually not just one protein that does it; there’s a family of proteins.

A promoter regions brings up a family of proteins. The Nrf2 promoter region is called the antioxidant response element. It brings up the family of detox or chemo-protection genes.

There are a number of different nutraceuticals and also pro-oxidants that do that … My favorite is called haritaki or terminalia chebula. It’s an Ayurvedic plant filled with polyphenols … Then you’ve got sulfur compounds from brassicas. Sulforaphane is a well-known one from broccoli seed extract. Erucin comes from all the brassicas.

You’ve got allicin and diallyl disulfide from garlic. All of these upregulate Nrf2. They create little free radical cascades that hit that Nrf2 and move it into the nucleus, so that you can detoxify the compounds. So in effect, these compounds are well targeted mild toxins that stimulate a response from the body.”

 

Which Is Best? Precursors or Direct Delivery or Glutathione?

If everything is working well in your body, you can simply use precursors to glutathione, like N-acetylcysteine (NAC) which will support glutathione production. If things aren’t working well, Shade recommends using a direct delivery of glutathione.

It’s important to realize that most oral glutathione supplements do not work. It’s simply going to break down to its constituent amino acids, so it’s not an effective intervention. Shade recommends and uses a nanoliposomal glutathione that absorbs under your tongue and is far easier and less expensive than IV glutathione.

Again, whether you can make do with precursors or need direct delivery of glutathione has a lot to do with how well your glutathione system is working, and your current state of health. Poor immune function is a sign of glutathione insufficiency, and a tip-off that a precursor might not be enough. In studies on HIV positive patients, 1,000 times more precursor than glutathione was necessary to restore cellular function in those with active disease.

“Another example of that is the herpes family. Cell cultures of herpes 1, the herpes that you get on your lip, will grow in a petri dish and kill all the cells. If you put glutathione in first, it doesn’t grow at all. If you start it and it starts killing the cells, and you throw glutathione in it, it stops it in its tracks. In fact, liposomes are a topical as well as a systemic. They were originally used in the cosmetic industry.

You can use a liposomal glutathione topically to penetrate in and help stop the propagation of a virus in a cold sore or any other herpes diseases,” Shade says. “You hear reports from people who get their amalgams out, detoxify and bring their glutathione system up that they stop getting recurring herpes infections, because herpes is living in the situation of reduced glutathione in the immune system.”

 

Leave Chelation for Last

The chelating agent EDTA is a powerful biofilm breaker. When taken systemically it opens up biofilms throughout your body, revealing various organisms to your immune system. As a result, you may experience immune reactions. A lot of the fatigue that people feel when chelating is in fact due to immune reactions to organisms, and is reflective of systemic biofilm-based infections. According to Shade, “If you’re not having success with detox, you need to go after microbial injections almost every time.”

Also, it’s important not to indiscriminately chelate for lead. If you go through the glutathione system upregulation discussed above, you’re not just getting mercury, cadmium, and arsenic out. You’re also getting a whole host of other toxins, including fluorinated, brominated, chlorinated hydrocarbons, pesticides, and herbicides.

“Start low, work up, and pulse on and off. That’s the key to making that happen. That will stop the toxic manifestations of lead. But mobilizing lead out of the body using EDTA, DMSA, or 2,3-Dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS) has to be done with a qualified practitioner.

I would say, do the glutathione system upregulation. Get rid of all that other junk. Really build up your body’s own ability to deal with these toxins, and then mobilize the lead. And always do that with a practitioner,” Shade says.

 

Addressing Toxic Metals Besides Mercury

To detect heavy metals besides mercury, Shade uses an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) scan of blood for nutrient and toxic metals. This is important, because you need to have your nutrient metals in order before you can go after toxic metals. Most of the toxic metals displace zinc, and zinc drives many important metabolic reactions. If you have low zinc, you’re not going to be able to detoxify metals well.

If you have high copper and low zinc, you will present symptoms of heavy metal poisoning, and it will be synergistically toxic with any heavy metals present in your system. High calcium and low magnesium stops detoxification by restricting magnesium-dependent transporters and by putting you in a state of chronic inflammation. You also need to have adequate molybdenum, selenium, and lithium in order to detoxify.

“You need to bring up the ones that are low, and you need to stop supplementing or stop exposing yourself to the ones that are high. It’s a little bit more complex with copper. But generally, when you get the glutathione system in order and when you get methylation in order, the copper levels will come down.

Now as far as the toxic metals, when we do glutathione system upregulation, we handle mercury, cadmium, and arsenic — three of the Big Four. The only one we really want to chelate for is lead. If lead is very high, you need the guidance of a qualified licensed practitioner to use either our liposomal EDTA or a little bit of DMSA and DMPS.

In general, I don’t like DMSA and DMPS unless you’ve already cleared the system of the mercury, you’ve normalized the glutathione system, and you’ve established very importantly that your kidneys are able to filter those chelates.”

 

Three Pillars of Detoxification

The three pillars of detoxification in general and metal detoxification in particular are:

1.Cleanse and clear your GI tract of metals and toxins using a thiol-functionalized silica (Intestinal Metal Detox, or IMD) with a practitioner, or chlorella, plus charcoal and clay, which bind to all the other toxins. Herbs like dandelion and goldenrod are good for added liver and kidney support. Burdock and dandelion helps clear your blood. Be sure to drink extra water to flush the toxins out.

Remember, if you’re detoxing and feeling really unwell, you need to clear more toxins out of your GI tract and blood. When you do that, back off your Nrf2 upregulators, and instead take more GI binders, and more liver and kidney supporting herbs. Drink a lot of water. When you’re feeling clear again, restart the Nrf2 upregulators.

2.Glutathione optimization. Increase glutathione levels either by using precursors (such as N-acetylcysteine [NAC], or a liposomal glutathione formulation.

3.Nrf2 upregulation in the cells using R-lipoic acid, polyphenols, and sulfur-based compounds from cruciferous vegetables and alliums. The Ayurvedic herb haritaki is beneficial, as are sulforaphane (broccoli seed extract), and allicin and diallyl disulfide (garlic). All of these upregulate Nrf2 and aids detoxification.

Last but not least, remember that detoxing is a marathon, not a sprint. Start all your doses low and work your way up. Do not jump in and do too much all at once. Typically, detoxing will take anywhere from three to 12 months; sometimes longer. Also, pulse the treatment on and off, or else it will lose its effectiveness.

“You have to do it and then let it come down. Stimulate. Relax. Stimulate. Relax. We start with five days on, two days off. If that’s a little heavy for you, four days on, three days off. Once we get a little deeper into it, we move it up to 10 days on, four days off.

A study regarding that: when they looked at upregulation of these genes using phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) in mice, they saw that when they gave them a high dose, they went up to a max expression in 10 days. That was three-fold their baseline.

On the same dose, over the next 20 days, going up to 30 days, the expression went down, down, down, until it was back at baseline. Meaning, when you use these compounds that upregulate every day, they stop working for you. You’ve got to take them; then stop. Take them. Stop.”

 

The Many Benefits of Meditation

Source

By Dr. Mercola

There is growing evidence to show that meditation can make you healthier and happier. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is sometimes used to treat depression, and brain imaging technology suggests meditation actually changes your brain in a number of beneficial ways.

MRI scans have shown that long-term meditation can alter the structure of your cerebral cortex, the outer layer of your brain. Additionally, brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing have been shown to be thicker in those who meditate.

Previous studies have linked meditation to benefits such as improved attention, memory, processing speed, creativity, and more. Recent research also suggests that meditation helps counteract age-related loss of brain volume.

In short, meditation can be viewed as a form of brain exercise that strengthens it and keeps it “younger” longer. Other studies reveal the benefits of meditation are not limited to your brain; it also has anti-inflammatory effects and affects gene expression—all of which can boost overall physical health and longevity.

Long-Term Meditation Tied to Reduced Loss of Brain Volume

One of the most recent studies1,2 in this field looked at 50 long-term meditators and 50 control subjects between the ages of 24 and 77. Among the controls, advancing age correlated with a loss of brain volume, as expected.

Those who meditated, however, were found to suffer less age-related brain atrophy. As reported by GMA News:3

“People who reported meditating for an average of 20 years had higher brain volumes than the average person…

[T]he study’s senior author told Reuters Health that the team of researchers expected to see more gray matter in certain regions of the brain among long-term meditators. “But we see that this effect is really widespread throughout the brain,” said Dr. Florian Kurth…

[T]he meditators’ brains appeared better preserved than average people of the same age. Moreover, the researchers were surprised to find less age-related gray matter loss throughout the brains of meditators.”

 

How Meditation Increases Productivity

In the featured Google talk, meditation expert Emily Fletcher explains the differences between two popular styles of meditation, and how they affect your brain.

She also discusses the similarities between meditation and caffeine. Both have the effect of energizing you and boosting your productivity, but meditation accomplishes this without the adverse effects associated with caffeine.

As explained by Fletcher, caffeine is similar to the chemical adenosine, produced by your brain throughout the day. Adenosine makes you sleepy, and caffeine effectively blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain, thereby disallowing your brain from recognizing how tired it is.

While this may not be harmful in and of itself in the short-term, caffeine also stimulates more neural activity in your brain, which triggers your adrenal glands to release the stress chemical adrenaline.

Eventually (whether you’re drinking lots of coffee or not), remaining in a chronic state of “fight or flight” that adrenaline engenders can lead to any number of stress-related disorders.

Meditation, on the other hand, energizes you and makes you more productive without triggering an adrenaline rush. According to Fletcher, meditation provides your body with rest that is two to five times deeper than sleep.

Meditating for 20 minutes also equates to taking a 1.5 hour nap, but you won’t have that “sleep hangover” afterward. Instead, you’ll feel awake and refreshed, and as she says, “more conscious.”

Meditation de-excites your nervous system rather than exciting it further. This makes it more orderly, thereby making it easier for your system to release pent-up stress. It also makes you more productive.

She notes that many are now starting to recognize meditation as a powerful productivity tool. Contrary to popular belief, taking the time to meditate can actually help you gain more time through boosted productivity than what you put into it. In a previous interview,5 Fletcher stated:

“[People say] I’d love to meditate, I know that I need it but I’m so busy right now, my life is just too crazy to meditate. And what they don’t understand is that once you start practicing you actually end up having more time. It’s this weird paradox that happens.

Even though you’re making a pretty significant time contribution to your day to meditation, because it in turn makes your brain function so much better, that you end up accomplishing your tasks much faster and so you end up with more time in your day and your sleep becomes more efficient because you’re using your sleep as a time for sleep because you use the meditation as a time for stress relief.”

 

Benefits of Meditation Beyond Brain Health

Stress is a well-recognized culprit that can promote ill health across the board, and the ability of meditation to quell stress is an important health benefit. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently published a study claiming they’ve found the biological mechanism by which mindfulness affects physical health.

In a nutshell, meditation impacts your biology and physical health via “stress reduction pathways” in your brain. As explained in the press release:6

“When an individual experiences stress, activity in the prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases, while activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.

Studies have suggested that mindfulness reverses these patterns during stress; it increases prefrontal activity, which can regulate and turn down the biological stress response.

Excessive activation of the biological stress response increases the risk of diseases impacted by stress (like depression, HIV and heart disease).

By reducing individuals’ experiences of stress, mindfulness may help regulate the physical stress response and ultimately reduce the risk and severity of stress-related diseases.”

Such effects may explain why meditation can help to relieve stress-related diseases such as:

High blood pressure Sleep disturbances and fatigue
Chronic pain Gastrointestinal distress and irritable bowel syndrome
Headaches Skin disorders
Respiratory problems such as emphysema and asthma Mild depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Other research, such as that at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine has sought to quantify the benefits of the relaxation response by assessing gene expression before and after meditation, and have compared effects of short- and long-term meditation routines.

Among their findings, they discovered that meditation has anti-inflammatory effects. In one study,8 participants who participated in an eight-week long meditation program, as well as longer-term meditators saw increases in anti-oxidant production, telomerase activity, and oxidative stress.

Among their findings, the Benson-Henry researchers discovered that meditation has anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, participants in an eight-week long meditation program, as well as longer-term meditators, saw increases in anti-oxidant production, telomerase activity, and oxidative stress.

The researchers noted that benefits appear to be dose related, with changes even after one session7.

Two Styles of Meditation

In the featured video, Fletcher discusses various benefits of two common styles of meditation:

  1. Mindfulness, a directed-attention, waking state practice in which you keep bringing your attention back to the now. It’s a practice of single-tasking, originally developed for monks, who remain focused on the present moment in all activities.

Besides improving your focus and boosting your mental cognition, mindfulness training has also been found to reduce levels of stress-induced inflammation,10 which could benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma. It also helps relieve feelings of stress and anxiety.

2.Self-induced transcendence is a non-directed style of meditation, in which you access a fourth state of consciousness that is different from waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Transcendence style meditation, which is what Fletcher teaches, strengthens your corpus callosum, the bridge between your two brain hemispheres.

Your left brain is in charge of the past and the future, language, math, and critical thought, while your right brain is in charge of “right now,” intuition, inspiration, connectedness, creativity, and problem solving.

By strengthening the connection between your right and left hemispheres, you gain access to more creative problem solving, and increase your productivity without adding stress. About 40 minutes into the video, Fletcher leads you through a simple meditative technique involving breathing and guided visualization that helps balance the two hemispheres of your brain.

Helpful Tools

Fletcher discusses the value of using a fitness tracker that tracks your sleep, noting that meditation can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. A fitness tracker can help you gauge your progress. I’m a major fan of this type of technology, as it can be very difficult to change a behavior unless you’re able to track it your progress.

When I first started using a fitness tracker, I was striving to get eight hours of sleep, but my Jawbone UP typically recorded me at 7.5 to 7.75. I have since increased my sleep time, not just time in bed, but total sleep time to over eight hours per night. According to Fletcher, meditation may actually boost the quality of your sleep to the point that you don’t need to sleep as long, as you can become more fully rested in a shorter amount of time when you’re not waking up in the middle of the night.

Slowing your breathing through meditation and/or using the Buteyko breathing technique also increases your partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2), which has enormous psychological benefits. Biofeedback devices such as the emWave211 can also help personalize your interventions and improve progress toward toning your parasympathetic nervous system. I find that using this breathing technique with the Muse device I describe below really helps me to meditate more effectively.

My Experience with Meditation

I have tried to meditate unsuccessfully off and on for over 25 years. I suspect that many of you have had similar experiences. The biggest challenge is to know if you are doing it correctly. You can watch all the videos you want, but ultimately you’re left to navigate the course to relaxed brain waves unguided. That is where Muse plays such an important role, as it provides you real-time feedback on how well you are doing.

If you wanted access to this technology a few years ago, you would have needed a literal closet full of equipment costing over $10K. But now for a tiny fraction of that cost, along with your smart phone or tablet, you can get a personal tutor to guide you on how to meditate.

The audio feedback consists of waves and wind. Your goal is to calm your mind so there is the least amount of sound. You will know you are successful when you start to hear birds. It took me several sessions to hear the birds but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy. A great 12-minute session will allow you to collect over 100 birds.

I made a game out of it and sought to get 10,000 birds, which I did after about six months of use. You can start out slow and put your toes in the water by meditating for three minutes once or twice a day. If you have more time and are motivated, you can even do 20-minute sessions, but for most people, 12-minute sessions once or twice a day is enough. I picked up my Muse last summer and it took me a few months to get the hang of it, but that was largely because I did not have anyone telling me about how to do it.

Once I got into the groove, I was really surprised to receive an email from the founder of Muse, asking me questions about my use. He had no idea I run a health website but merely contacted me because I was in the top 100 users in the world. I later learned after talking to him that I was in the top 10 users based on my amount of time spent in a deep meditative state.

My interest in increasing my sleep to eight hours per night occurred shortly after I got my Muse, and they merged very nicely. Now, I find that if I wake up early and can’t go back to sleep, I will meditate for up to an hour as it provides many of the same benefits of sleep. If you are unable to fall back to sleep, this is a great option.

Also, I find my best meditation time is in the morning, right after I awaken, as I can get into the deepest states of relaxation at that time. Applying the Buteyko breathing also really helps to calm the mind and get into deep states of relaxation.

Sources and References

Yoga Benefits Your Brain Function and Mental Health

Source

By Dr. Mercola

Low-impact exercises such as yoga have a number of benefits. Not only can it provide the physical benefits of exercise, yoga may also help stave off cognitive decline, according to a recent study of older adults with early warning signs of waning memory.

While I believe most benefit from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for optimal health, there’s no doubt that yoga can also be beneficial. It has mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits that can be very helpful for those struggling with stress-related health problems.

Yoga can be viewed as a form of moving meditation that demands your full attention as you gently shift your body from one asana (yoga position) to another.

As you learn new ways of moving and responding to your body, your mind and emotions may shift and change as well. In a sense, you not only become more physically flexible, but your mental outlook and approach to life may gain some needed flexibility as well.

Yoga Helps Mitigate Cognitive Decline

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that physical activity helps keep your mind sharp with age, and this goes for activities such as yoga as well. Overall, inactivity is enemy No. 1 if you seek to optimize your cognitive function. According to the New York Times:1

“There also is growing evidence that combining physical activity with meditation might intensify the benefits of both pursuits.

In an interesting study2 … people with depression who meditated before they went for a run showed greater improvements in their mood than people who did either of those activities alone.

But many people do not have the physical capacity or taste for running or other similarly vigorous activities. So for the new study … researchers … decided to test whether yoga, a relatively mild, meditative activity, could alter people’s brains and fortify their ability to think.3,4

They began by recruiting 29 middle-aged and older adults … who … were anxious about the state of their memories and who, during evaluations … were found to have mild cognitive impairment, a mental condition that can be a precursor to eventual dementia.

The volunteers also underwent a sophisticated type of brain scan that tracks how different parts of the brain communicate with one another.”

The participants were divided into two groups. One group enrolled in a brain-training program consisting of mental exercises for one hour per week. They were also asked to practice at home for 15 minutes a day.

The second group participated in a Kundalini yoga class for one hour per week. They were also taught Kirtan Kriya meditation, which involves the use of mantras and fluid hand movements. They were asked to practice this meditation at home for 15 minutes each day.

Yoga Outperforms Standard Brain Training

After 12 weeks, all subjects again underwent cognitive tests and brain scans. Overall, all participants had improved to some degree, but the yoga group not only fared slightly better on memory tests, they also reported improvements in their mood. As reported in the featured article:

“The brain scans in both groups displayed more communication now between parts of their brains involved in memory and language skills.

Those who had practiced yoga, however, also had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability now to focus and multitask.

In effect, yoga and meditation had equaled and then topped the benefits of 12 weeks of brain training. ‘We were a bit surprised by the magnitude’ of the brain effects, said Dr. Helen Lavretsky … who oversaw the study.”

 

Why Yoga Is so Beneficial for Your Brain

Over the years, a number of studies have honed in on the brain benefits of yoga. For example, studies have found that:

Twenty minutes of Hatha yoga improves your brain function (speed and accuracy of mental processing) to a greater degree than 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging).5,6 Potential mechanisms include enhanced self-awareness and reduced stress.

Yoga helps improve mental health, including psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.7,8,9,10

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Yoga helps improve teenagers’ emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. As noted by yoga educator and writer Iona Smith:11

“During adolescence, the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of language and reason) are still being formed, leaving teens to overly rely on their amygdala (the seat of emotions) …

The brain’s malleability during adolescence marks a crucial stage in both cognitive and emotional development.

Luckily, researchers are now able to paint a clearer picture of some of the factors that allow students to thrive throughout high school and into adulthood, such as self-awareness, managing distressing emotions, empathy, and navigating relationships smoothly.

When students hone these skills, they are not only happier and healthier emotionally, but are also better able to focus on academics.”

By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders.

Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy,chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA).12

Other Mind-Body Benefits of Yoga

Other studies have demonstrated that regular yoga practice can impart a number of different physical, mental and emotional benefits, including the ones listed below.13,14,15,16

One explanation for yoga’s wide-ranging effects is that it actually alters genetic expression — through its beneficial effects on your mind! In fact, the relaxation response triggered by meditative practices has been shown to affect at least 2,209 genes.17

Improved immune function18 Improved sleep19,20
Reduced risk for migraines21 Lowered risk of hypertension and heart disease22,23
Lowered cortisol (stress hormone) level by down regulating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and calming sympathetic nervous system24 Improved sexual performance and satisfaction in both sexes25,26

How Yoga Aids Weight Loss and Promotes Good Health

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, yoga has also been shown to aid weight loss. In one study,27 overweight yoga participants lost an average of 5 pounds (lbs) whereas the non-yoga group gained 13 lbs. This held true even when accounting for differences in diet. Typically, HIIT is the most effective for weight loss, and the key to its effectiveness is the intensity. So how can the effectiveness of yoga — which is the converse of HIIT in terms of intensity — be explained?

According to Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, yoga’s benefits are related to the fact that it does the opposite of more strenuous exercise. Rather than boosting your heart rate and stimulating your nervous system, yoga puts you in a parasympathetic state that lowers both your blood pressure and heart rate, and this helps promote a positivecascade of health effects.

This makes sense if you consider the adverse biological effects of stress. By promoting systemic inflammation, chronic stress can be a factor in everything from weight gain to high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s also been shown to trigger the onset of dementia. What’s worse, stress-induced weight gain typically involves an increase in belly fat, which is the most dangerous fat for your body to accumulate as it increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Stress actually alters the way fat is deposited because of the specific hormones and other chemicals your body produces when you’re stressed. For example, recent research28 shows that chronic stress stimulates your body to produce betatrophin, a protein that blocks an enzyme that breaks down body fat. So by reducing stress you reduce inflammation, and along with it your risk for any number of health problems, including stubborn weight.

A 2011 review29 of published clinical studies on yoga also concluded that yoga movements stimulate skin pressure receptors that boost activity in your brain and vagus nerve, both of which influence the production and release of various hormones. As vagus nerve activity increases, the levels of stress hormones like cortisol decrease. It also triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role not only in your mood, but also in appetite control and sleep patterns.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Fitness Program

Yoga and other simple restorative exercises tone and strengthen your body, increase circulation and oxygen flow, energize you for the day and help you unwind in the evening. However, studies support the use of yoga to strengthen brain function and improve common psychiatric disorders (along with many other health benefits, including pain relief and increased flexibility and strength).

I believe it’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises into your routine for optimal results. Ideally, you’ll want a comprehensive fitness program that includes HIIT and resistance training, along with flexibility- and core-building exercises like yoga. Daily non-exercise movement is also important, and simply walking more each day can go a long way toward warding off many common health problems.

Sources and References

How Melatonin May Benefit Depression, Autoimmune Disorders, and Cancer

Source

By Dr. Mercola

The hormone melatonin plays many important roles in your health, from helping you sleep better to strengthening your immune system, slowing down brain aging, reducing migraine attacks, protecting bone mass, and preventing cancer.

Lack of sun exposure during the day combined with artificial lighting late into the night disrupts your biological clock and hence, your melatonin production, and this disruption can provoke a number of adverse health effects.

In fact, melatonin has been the subject of preclinical research on over 100 different disease applications, many of which go hand in hand with your need for sleep.

Melatonin for Sleep and Beyond

Your master biological clock resides in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of your brain (SCN), which is part of your hypothalamus. Based on signals of light and darkness, your SCN tells your pineal gland when it’s time to secrete melatonin, and when to turn it off.

In scientific studies, melatonin supplementation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep, experience less restlessness, and prevent daytime fatigue.

Keep in mind that you may only need a very minimal dose. I recommend taking only 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg to start, and adjusting upward from there. Taking higher doses, such as 3 mg, can sometimes make you more wakeful instead of sleepier, so start low and adjust your dose as needed.

Melatonin has also been found to reduce the effects of jet lag when traveling across multiple time zones.1 And children suffering with eczema, a condition that oftentimes prevents good sleep, may also get more shut-eye with melatonin supplementation,2according to recent research.

Interestingly, melatonin also helped dampen the severity of the eczema, hinting at its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the benefits of melatonin go far beyond sleep. Three specific areas I’ll address in this article are its role in depression, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Normalizing Your Circadian System Helps Alleviate Depressive Symptoms

Your melatonin level inversely rises and falls with light and darkness, and both your physical and mental health is intricately tied to this rhythm of light and dark. When it’s dark, your melatonin levels increase, which is why you may feel tired when the sun starts to set.

Conversely, when you’re exposed to bright artificial lighting at night, including blue light emitted from TVs and electronic screens, you may have trouble falling asleep due to suppressed melatonin levels.

Light exposure when you wake up at night can also be problematic as I explain in my video above. However you don’t have to stumble around as red and orange wavelengths will not suppress melatonin production.

You can use a red light to guide you to the bathroom. If you have a clock in your bedroom make sure it has a red LED display. Blue would be the worst as it is the one that shuts down melatonin most effectively.

Winter Blues SAD

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, also called “the winter blues”) is associated with lack of sun exposure, and scientists generally recommend full-spectrum light therapy over SSRIs like Prozac or Zoloft for this condition.

Interestingly, recent research suggests light therapy may be preferable even for major depression, outperforming Prozac in those with moderate to severe depression. One of the reasons it works so well likely has to do with the fact that bright light helps reset your biological clock, or circadian rhythm.

Melatonin supplementation can help do this to a certain extent as well, but not as effectively as exposure to bright light during daytime. Light may also work in a way similar to antidepressants by regulating neurotransmitter function.

Light Therapy — More Effective Than Prozac

The study3,4,5,6,7 in question set out to compare the effectiveness of light therapy alone and in conjunction with the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac).

The eight-week long trial included 122 adults between the ages of 19 and 60, who were diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The participants were divided into four groups, receiving:

  • Light therapy (30 minutes per day upon waking using a 10,000 lux Carex brand day-light device, classic model) plus a placebo pill
  • Prozac (20 mg/day) plus a deactivated ion generator serving as a placebo light device
  • Light therapy plus Prozac
  • Placebo light device plus placebo pill (control group)

In conclusion, the study found that the combination of light therapy and Prozac was the most effective — but light therapy-only came in close second, followed byplacebo.

That’s right, the drug treatment was the least effective of all, and LESS effective than placebo! At the end of the study, remission was achieved by:

  • Just over 19 percent in the Prozac only group
  • 30 percent in the placebo group
  • Nearly 44 percent in the light therapy only group
  • Nearly 59 percent in the active combination group

How Melatonin May Aid in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that, like SAD, has been linked to vitamin D deficiency from lack of sun exposure. Interestingly, recent research suggests that a drop in autumn and winter relapses may be linked to peak melatonin levels, which occurs during these darker months.

Conversely, spikes in relapses occurring during spring and summer — which tend to be less common but do occur — may be related to decreased melatonin levels. The research,8 led by neuroscientist Mauricio Farez at the Dr. Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research, looked at 139 MS patients living in Buenos Aires.

Thirty-two percent of them experienced a reduction in relapses during fall and winter, compared to spring and summer. As reported by Scientific American:9

“Past research has shown that melatonin can have a protective effect against MS and that shift work, which disturbs melatonin production, can increase the risk of developing the disease. According to the authors, this research is one of the first to bring together epidemiological evidence with results from both human cells and animal models …

[And it] may help to resolve a ‘seasonal paradox’ — MS flare-ups should decrease during warmer, brighter months when people receive more exposure to sunlight and thus produce more vitamin D, which also has anti-inflammatory properties. But some studies, including this one, show that relapses increase in the spring and summer pointing to the possibility that other environmental factors, such as melatonin levels, are involved.”

To test their hypothesis, mice with autoimmune encephalomyelitis (the animal model of MS) received daily injections of melatonin. As a result, clinical symptoms were reduced, and harmful T cells, which are pro-inflammatory, were reduced, whereas regulatory T cells were increased. Similar effects were shown in petri dish experiments. As noted in the featured article:

“Melatonin regulates pathways central to the immune response, so these results may pertain to other autoimmune diseases, particularly where seasonal flare-ups occur, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis …”

 

Melatonin’s Role in Fighting Cancer

Cancer is another area where melatonin plays a major role. The evidence suggests it may be an important adjunct to cancer treatment,10 as it also helps protect against the toxic effects of radiation therapy. Cells throughout your body — even cancer cells — have melatonin receptors, and melatonin is in and of itself cytotoxic, meaning can induce tumor cell death (apoptosis). It also:11

  • Boosts production of immune-optimizing substances such as interleukin-2, which helps identify and attack mutated cells that lead to malignant cancer
  • Inhibits development of new tumor blood vessels (tumor angiogenesis), which slows the spread of the cancer
  • Retards cancer progression by activating the cytokine system, which helps inhibit tumor growth, and by stimulating the cytotoxic activity of macrophages and monocytes
  • By its antioxidant action it also limits oxidative damage to DNA
  • Inhibits tumor growth by counteracting estrogen. (At night, when melatonin production peaks, cell division slows. And when melatonin latches onto a breast cancer cell, it has been found to counteract estrogen’s tendency to stimulate cell growth)

Melatonin has a calming effect on other reproductive hormones besides estrogen as well, which may explain why it seems to protect most effectively against sex hormone-driven cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, prostate, testicular and breast cancers12 — the latter of which has received the greatest amount of scientific attention. Some of the studies on melatonin for breast cancer include the following:

  • The journal Epidemiology13 reported increased breast cancer risk among women who work predominantly night shifts
  • Women who live in neighborhoods with large amounts of nighttime illumination are more likely to get breast cancer than those who live in areas where nocturnal darkness prevails, according to an Israeli study14
  • From participants in the Nurses’ Health Study,15 it was found that nurses who work nights had 36 percent higher rates of breast cancer
  • Blind women, whose eyes cannot detect light and therefore have robust production of melatonin, have lower-than-average breast cancer rates16
  • When the body of epidemiological studies are considered in their totality, women who work night shift are found to have breast cancer rates 60 percent above normal, even when other factors, such as differences in diet, are accounted for17

Melatonin May Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients

Other cancers may also benefit. In 2004, the Life Extension Foundation collaborated with Cancer Treatment Centers of America on the first clinical trial evaluating melatonin’s effect in patients with lung cancer.

The results,18 which were published in conjunction with the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting, found a tumor response in just over 29 percent of those receiving melatonin at night, compared to just under 8 percent of those receiving it in the morning, and 10.5 percent of placebo recipients. As reported by Life Extension Magazine:19

“European clinical studies indicate that in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, five-year survival and overall tumor regression rates were higher in patients concomitantly treated with melatonin than in those treated with chemotherapy alone. While no patient treated with chemotherapy survived after two years, five-year survival was achieved in 3 of 49 patients treated with chemotherapy and melatonin.

The researchers hope that similarly promising results could eventually convince mainstream medical practitioners to administer melatonin in combination with standard cancer treatment regimens to patients in earlier stages of cancer treatment.”

 

The Importance of Light and Dark for the Synchronization of Your Body Clocks

Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light, which is why your levels should be highest just prior to bedtime. This perfectly orchestrated system allows you to fall asleep when the sun sets and awaken refreshed with the sunrise, while also providing potential anti-aging and disease-fighting benefits.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, which is a signal that your melatonin production is off, I suggest making sure you’re sleeping in total darkness and to turn lights down at least an hour or so before bedtime. Also, avoid watching TV and using computers and other electronic gadgets at least an hour prior to bed.

All of these devices emit blue light, which will decrease your melatonin if you work past dark, so ideally you’d want to turn these items off once the sun goes down. If you have to use these devices you can wear yellow glasses that filter the blue wavelengths out and/or use free software like f.lux.

To light rooms at night, use “low blue” light bulbs that emit an amber light instead of the blue that suppresses melatonin production. An equally important factor is the quality of light you’re exposed to during the day. Without sufficient sunlight during the day, your circadian clock may fall out of sync.

Most incandescent and fluorescent lights emit very poor-quality light. What your body needs for optimal functioning is the full-spectrum light you get outdoors, but most of us do not spend much time outside to take advantage of this healthy light.

Using full-spectrum light bulbs in your home and office can help ameliorate this lack of high-quality sunlight during the day, but cannot fully replace it. So do make an effort to go outside for at least 30 to 60 minutes each day during the brightest portion of the day, i.e. right around noon. This will help “set” your circadian clock and help you sleep better.

For Optimal Health, Make Sure You Sleep Well

Remember, when your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin, which means it has less ability to fight cancer, and less protection against free radicals that may accelerate aging and disease. So if you’re having even slight trouble sleeping, I suggest you review my “33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep” for more guidance on how to improve your sleep-wake cycle.

If you’ve made the necessary changes to your sleep routine and find you’re still having trouble sleeping, a high-quality melatonin supplement may be helpful.

The amount of melatonin you create and release every night varies depending on your age. Children usually have much higher levels of melatonin than adults, and as you grow older your levels typically continue to decrease. This is why some older adults may benefit from extra melatonin.

The same goes for those who perform night shift work, travel often and experience jet lag, or otherwise suffer from occasional sleeplessness due to stress or other reasons. Start with a dose of about 0.25 to 0.5 mg, and increase it as necessary from there. If you start feeling more alert, you’ve likely taken too much and need to lower your dose.

Sources and References