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Mercola Natural Health Articles

GMOs Revealed


By Dr. Mercola

While genetically modified organisms (GMOS), and the pesticides that go along with them, are touted as the solution to feed the world, the reality is a far cry from this industry-spread ideal. In reality, 86 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural exports in 2015 went to 20 destinations with low numbers of hungry people and high rates of human development scores.1 The top recipient? Canada.

In 2013 as well, U.S. farms contributed only 2.3 percent of the food supply to the countries with the most starving people.2 Such countries, unbeknownst to many Americans, actually produce most of their own food already. What they need is not for the U.S. to step up its production of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy, but to be given resources to distribute and increase access to food while helping local farmers to earn a good living.

If we took GMOs off the market today, we would still be feeding the world with the same inefficacy that we are today. We have starvation. We have the biggest famine in human history happening over in sub-Saharan Africa right now.” However, the problem with GMOs is one much larger than failed promises or misguided expectations.

Instead, it’s a form of technology that threatens human health, the environment and the very food supply we depend on. At the foundation, “GMOs Revealed” seeks to answer a question that’s relevant to all of us:

“What if the desire to use technology to enhance our world and save lives has evolved into a lust that, when paired with corporate greed and politics, becomes a catastrophic mass experiment that harms you and your family? Genetically modified foods, also known as GMOs, represent one of the most controversial issues in the world today. What is more vital to humanity, to each of us, than our food supply?”

The Not-so-Green Revolution

As Bush explains, many of the problems with industrialized agriculture began with the Green Revolution, which is not at all “green” as its name suggests. It's easy to forget that at one point, not so long ago, all food was organically grown in a way that supported the ecosystem and environment as a whole. This all changed in the 1940s when the Green Revolution took hold and industrial, chemical-dependent farming techniques quickly spread to become the norm.

When WWII ended, there was a glut of petroleum, and in petroleum are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — three nutrients needed for crops to grow. The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Green Revolution that led to the introduction of petroleum-based agricultural chemicals, which quickly transformed agriculture, both in the U.S. and abroad.

President Lyndon Johnson's Food for Peace program actually mandated the use of petroleum-dependent technologies and chemicals by aid recipients, and countries that could not afford it were granted loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

However, as happens in humans, when you isolate only a few nutrients and remove many others, you end up with a weakened immune system. “And so our plants started to fail,” Bush said, “and started to be prone to insects and fungi and viruses.” Again, instead of looking to the root of the problem of why the plants were failing, chemical companies introduced pesticides and herbicides to kill weeds and bugs.

Meanwhile, companies like Monsanto got into the business of killing plants via Agent Orange, which was used to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War. After the war ended, it was time to repurpose their efforts to developing chemicals like organophosphates and glyphosate, which is now the active ingredient in Roundup.

Glyphosate Impacts on Human Health and the Environment

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is an herbicide like no other, as more tons of it have been sprayed worldwide than any other herbicide before it. Writing in Environmental Sciences Europe, scientists noted that in the U.S. and likely globally, “no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.”3

“Glyphosate will likely remain the most widely applied pesticide worldwide for years to come,” they continued, which is alarming as its environmental and public health risks become increasingly apparent. Glyphosate is used in large quantities on GE glyphosate-tolerant crops (i.e., Roundup Ready varieties).

Its use actually increased nearly fifteenfold since such GE crops were introduced in 1996.4 Glyphosate is also a popular tool for desiccating (or accelerating the drying out) of crops like wheat and oats, a use that began before the introduction of GE crops.

Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway is present in human gut bacteria as well as soil bacteria and plants. In an interview I conducted with Bush in 2017, he explained:

"Glyphosate blocks an enzyme pathway … called the shikimate pathway. These enzymes are responsible for making some of the most important compounds in food [including] ringed carbon structures, such as tryptophan, that are the backbone of hormones. If you take away tryptophan from the plant chain or the plant kingdom by killing this pathway in bacteria and plants, the plant cannot make these essential signaling molecules …

It wipes out about four to six of the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks for all proteins in your body … There are only 26 amino acids. You take away four to six of those [and] you just lost a huge percentage of biology. There's a family of compounds called alkaloids … [When you] remove the alkaloids from food, what you see is the disease burst we have going on across so many organ systems in our bodies.

There's a family of [alkaloids] that are anti-parasitic … [others] are antidiabetic … anticancer … antihypertensive … anti-mood disorder … antiasthma, anti-eczema type of compounds.

You go through the list of alkaloids and [realize that if you add a] chemical to our food chain that wipes out the production of [alkaloids] … we [lose] the medicinal quality of food that has existed for thousands of years … [By using glyphosate] we robbed the soil and the plant from the ability to make these essential medicinal [compounds]."

Further, research by Bush and colleagues has found that glyphosate actually hits the cell membranes of the intestine, which upregulates the receptor for gliadin, the gluten breakdown product that causes gluten sensitivity. He believes that the surge in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can be tied to the use of glyphosate as a desiccant, which, together with drying out the wheat early (leading to an abnormally high gluten-to-fiber ratio), created a perfect storm for biologic damage.

Gaining Access to Healthy, Non-GMO Food

Affordability and availability are two common hurdles to choosing organic, non-GE food. The third expert in GMOs Revealed’s first episode is Gunnar Lovelace, CEO of Thrive Market, which cut out the middleman to provide online access to organic and non-GMO foods at affordable prices. Yet, another issue is the lack of labeling on GE foods in the U.S., which is why Thrive only carries products that are non-GMO. Lovelace said:

“The idea that we’re going to engineer food crops like corn, wheat, soy and cotton to withstand systemic poisoning and the destruction of topsoil, the infiltration into water systems and 90 plus percent of Americans now testing positive for glyphosate through these Roundup Ready crops that are now in all … the packaged goods … that to me is the definition of insanity …

There are all sorts of studies that we’re destroying topsoil at an alarming rate and there are only 60 harvests left on the planet. And so the way that we are producing, distributing and marketing and consuming food is going to leave this planet completely unsustainable for us and for our children.”

Thrive was also instrumental in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to allow participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly known as the food stamp program — to shop online for food. This will allow people living in “food deserts” without access to healthy foods an option to secure healthier choices. The company launched a petition for the cause in June 2016 and had gained more than 310,000 signatures just a few months later. “People are voting with their dollars and they’re voting with their values,” Lovelace said.

If you’re new to healthy eating and are wondering what step to take first to get yourself and your family on the right track, Lovelace echoed one of my key tenets of healthy living: eat whole foods. “We need to eat food with way fewer ingredients, so the fewer ingredients listed the better … buy truly nutrient-dense food from a local farmer at a farmers market … eat as many veggies as possible.”

Keep in mind, too, that it’s important to choose organic, non-GMO animal products as well. The use of genetic engineering is prohibited in organic products — a significant benefit. Importantly, not only are GE seeds prohibited but animals raised on organic farms may not be fed GE alfalfa or GE corn. Over the past two decades, the majority of the anti-GMO movement was focused on GMOs found in processed foods and a small number of whole GE foods. Yet that's only 20 percent of the GMOs in the human food chain.

Twice as much (40 percent) goes into the making of animal feed for CAFOs. The only way to change that trend is by not buying CAFO animal products, be it poultry (including eggs), pork or beef. While fruits and vegetables are the top selling category of organically grown food,5 it’s important to choose organic and grass fed meat and dairy products as well.

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Can Your Eyes Reveal Health Problems?


By Dr. Mercola

Because dozens of diseases and illnesses are known to show symptoms in your eyes, ophthalmologists and optometrists are often among the first to help you recognize certain medical conditions.1 An internal study of 120,000 patients by insurance company VSP Vision Care highlights the value of vision care. Their data suggests an eye exam was the first indicator of problems in:2

  • 62 percent of imbalanced cholesterol cases
  • 39 percent of high blood pressure cases
  • 34 percent of diabetes cases

If you are unsure what your body might be trying to tell you with respect to changes in your eye health and vision, you’ll want to continue reading. While your eyes may be a window to your soul, they can also reveal health problems elsewhere in your body.

Changes in Blood Vessels Within Your Eyes Can Predict Future Memory Loss

A new study published in the medical journal Neurology3 once again links your eye health to the potential future risk of memory loss. As reported by CNN Health,4 the study suggests small changes in the blood vessels within your eyes at age 60 can predict your likelihood of experiencing cognitive decline during the next few decades of life.

Because the very small blood vessels in your brain are unable to be seen using standard brain imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers hypothesized studying blood vessels in the eye might provide clues about what’s happening in the brain. 

Prior studies have already affirmed that diseases of your vascular system put you at increased risk of cognitive impairment as you age. The current study tracked 12,317 men and women aged 50 to 73 over a 20-year period to test the hypothesis that retinal vascular signs are strongly associated with cognitive decline.5

At the onset, participants were evaluated for their memory and thinking skills. Two additional rounds of tests occurred during the next 20 years. Three years into the study, researchers used a special camera to take photos of each person’s retina, thereby providing a snapshot of what is going on in the microvasculature in the eye. From that one measure, scientists can identify retinal signs indicative of retinopathy, also known as damage to the retinal blood vessels. Those tests revealed:6

  • 95 percent of participants showed no signs of damage to their retinal blood vessels
  • 3 percent had mild retinopathy
  • 2 percent had moderate to severe retinopathy

After analyzing the data,7 the researchers noticed participants with moderate to severe retinopathy were more likely to score significantly lower on memory and thinking tests than their healthy-eyed peers. (While results were stronger for people with diabetes, the linkage was equally significant for those who did not have diabetes.)

These participants, in fact, saw their average test scores decline by 1.22 standard deviation units during the 20-year study. In contrast, participants with healthy eyes experienced declines of 0.91 standard deviation units.

About the outcomes, the study authors stated, “Retinopathy was associated with accelerated rates of 20-year cognitive decline. These findings support the exploration of more sensitive measures in the eye … which may provide surrogate indexes of microvascular lesions relevant to cognitive decline in older adults.”8

If Your Eyes Are Unhealthy, It’s Likely Your Brain May Be Unhealthy Too

Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief of the National Eye Institute’s consult service, who was not involved in the study, affirmed the research results, saying:9

“If the retinal blood vessels are unhealthy, there's every reason to think the brain blood vessels are unhealthy as well. The blood vessel supply is essential to all function — the function of all organs — and so if the blood vessels are unable to do their job, there's no way the brain can be functioning as well as a brain that has a good [blood] supply."

When asked for her opinion related to screening the eye and retina for potential negative conditions in the brain, such as memory loss, Bishop said, “I share a common hope we could detect things early enough and have interventions early enough to change the course of a negative [brain] event."10

Since your brain is neatly tucked inside of your skull, the eyes are, in effect, the only part of the brain that can be seen directly. This happens when your eye doctor uses an ophthalmoscope and shines a bright light into your eye as part of an eye examination. The light reveals your retina and blood vessels and can also detect any potential issues with your optic nerve, which carries visual messages from your retina to your brain via electrical impulses.

"Looking in an eye really is a fabulous experience," says Dr. Charles Wilkinson, a retina specialist and past president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "It's the only place you can see blood vessels bouncing along their merry way, [and] you can see the optic nerve, which is part of the brain."11

What Else Can Your Eyes Tell You About Your Health?

Beyond cluing you into a possible future risk of memory decline, your eye health has been associated with a growing list of conditions and diseases that can tell you a lot about your health.

Dr. Justin Bazan, an optometrist and medical adviser to the nonprofit The Vision Council, highlights the importance of studying the blood vessels found in your eyes. "They do have a direct link and correlation to systemic disease," he said. By tracking eye changes that occur with disease, says Bazan, it may be possible to predict cardiovascular events, such as stroke, as well as mental changes related to conditions like Alzheimer's disease.12

For that reason, Bazan suggests you undergo routine eye exams for more than just obtaining new glasses or refilling your prescription for contact lenses. He believes these appointments are also opportunities for you to learn more about the health of your eyes and how your ocular health affects your overall health and well-being. Some of the diseases known to affect your eyes include the following:13


While you or your doctor will likely detect signs of malignancy before it would be uncovered in an eye exam, cancers of the breast, as well as leukemia and lymphoma, often signal their presence in your eyes.

Bazan explains that one of the most common types of cancer detected involves the basal cells in the sensitive skin surrounding your eye.  Another devastating cancer is ocular melanoma — cancer in the cells of the eye. Although it is uncommon, it “definitely does occur, and it is devastating," Bazan says.


Fluctuations in vision, such as blurry vision, may be a sign of diabetes. "Diabetes can be seen in the eyes," Bazan said. "[People] may experience periods where their blood sugar is out of control, which causes changes to the lens inside the eye, and when you cause changes to the lens, it ultimately impacts vision." Although similar vision changes can be attributed to aging, it’s best to rule out diabetes as a potential cause.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is also easily observed in your eyes, notes Bazan. Damaged blood vessels can cause hemorrhages and leaking, both of which are visible during eye exams.

Cholesterol imbalance

"High cholesterol is one of the easiest things to pick up in an examination because it's on the front of the eye,” states Bazan. It’s common for heart conditions caused by a buildup of plaque to raise concerns during an eye exam, he says.

When plaque builds up in your carotid artery, Bazan notes, “sometimes those little plaques will break off and then travel into the eye, where they clog arteries in the eye, and that leads to very obvious changes to the vascular structure in the back of the eye." While a diagnosis could not be made based on the eye exam alone, it’s likely your doctor would recommend an MRI and other tests to troubleshoot the condition.


Uveitis, or red and swollen eyes, occurs as a result of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Other effects lupus can have on your eyes include: blood vessel changes in your retina, changes in the skin around your eyelids, damage to the nerves in the muscles controlling eye movement and dry eyes.14 "If you have a condition where there is systemic inflammation, it is almost always going to manifest in the eye as uveitis,” Bazan said.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

When examining the eyes of an MS sufferer, the doctor will notice a change in the color and appearance of the optic nerve. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a vision problem is often the first symptom of the disease:15

“The visual symptoms that occur in MS may be the result of optic neuritis — inflammation of the optic nerve — or lesions (damaged areas) along the nerve pathways that control eye movements and visual coordination. Optic neuritis may result in blurring or graying of vision, or blindness in one eye. A scotoma or dark spot may occur in the center of the visual field.”

This would lead to more thorough testing to confirm the diagnosis of MS.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Sometimes eye problems like conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) that are not easily resolved may be an indicator of a bigger problem. "My first patient in optometry school had conjunctivitis … that was unresponsive to [the] typical eye drops used to treat it," Bazan stated. After further testing, the patient was diagnosed with the STD chlamydia.

Certain types of herpes infection may also cause conjunctivitis. Bazan says he’s seen syphilis as well, which can cause your pupil to turn a grayish color. Due to its impact on your white blood cells, HIV also can cause visible changes to your retina.

Thyroid disease

Thyroid disease can be revealed in your eyes in more than one way. Dry eye disease can be associated with thyroid disease, notes Bazan, because your thyroid controls the hormones responsible, in part, for producing teardrops.

Thyroid conditions can also cause your extraocular muscles, which are responsible for controlling eye movement, to become stiff and enlarged. Bulging eyes are a sign of Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism.

Strategies to Help You Improve and Safeguard Your Vision

Below are several recommended steps you can take to help improve and safeguard your vision. Most of these steps involve vision-related dietary changes.

Avoid trans fat. A diet high in trans fat appears to contribute to macular degeneration by interfering with omega-3 fats in your body. Trans fat is found in many processed foods and baked goods. Some high trans fat foods to avoid include cookies, crackers, doughnuts, french fries, fried chicken, margarine, pastries and shortening.

Care for your cardiovascular system. As mentioned, high blood pressure can cause damage to the small blood vessels on your retina, obstructing free blood flow. One of the primary ways to maintain optimal blood pressure is to dramatically reduce your fructose intake. While your doctor may be down on salt, sugar is worse on your blood pressure than salt.

My standard advice is to keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including fructose from fruit. If you have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or insulin resistance, you’d be wise to restrict your fructose to 15 grams or less per day until your condition improves.

Eat dark green leafy vegetables. Studies have shown a diet rich in dark leafy greens (preferably fresh, organic) promotes eye health. Consuming high amounts of carotenoid-rich vegetables, especially ones rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, also encourages healthy vision.

Get plenty of healthy omega-3 fat. Consuming omega-3 fats has been shown to be protective of healthy vision. Unfortunately, due to widespread pollution and farmed fish, you should restrict your choice of fish to anchovies, sardines, herring or wild Alaskan salmon. If you must use a supplement, I recommend krill oil, which also contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant I’ll discuss below.

Normalize your blood sugar. Excessive sugar in your blood can pull fluid from the lens of your eye, affecting your ability to focus. It also can damage the blood vessels in your retina, which will obstruct blood flow.

Quit smoking. Smoking increases free radical production throughout your body, putting you at risk for less-than-optimal health in many ways, including the risk of vision problems. If you need an incentive to stop, check out the side effects of smoking, along with some tips on how to quit.

Antioxidants: Your Greatest Allies for Healthy Eyes

Antioxidants neutralize dangerous free radicals throughout your body, including your eyes. Four antioxidants known to benefit your eyes are: astaxanthin, black currant anthocyanins, lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin, found in high concentrations in the macula lutea, are believed to serve two primary roles: absorb excess photon energy and quench free radicals before they damage your lipid membranes.

The highest concentration of lutein in your eyes is in your macula — the tiny central part of your retina responsible for straight ahead and detailed vision. More specifically, lutein is found in the macular pigment and is known for helping to protect your central vision. Lutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid, found in green leafy vegetables, as well as yellow and orange fruits and vegetables.

Some of the top lutein-containing vegetables (in order of lutein content) are kale (raw and cooked), as well as cooked spinach, collards, turnip greens and green peas. Pastured organic egg yolk is also an excellent source of both lutein and zeaxanthin. While lutein and zeaxanthin benefit your eyes, astaxanthin has emerged as the best carotenoid for eye health and the prevention of blindness. Astaxanthin provides protective benefits against a number of eye-related problems, including:

Age-related macular degeneration



Inflammatory eye diseases such as iritis, keratitis, retinitis and scleritis

Cystoid macular edema

Retinal arterial occlusion

Diabetic retinopathy

Venous occlusion

Astaxanthin also helps maintain appropriate eye pressure, energy levels and visual acuity. Because the above list includes several of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.,16 this powerful antioxidant becomes increasingly important.

As mentioned earlier, krill oil is a great source of both healthy omega-3 fat and astaxanthin. If you want to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 2 to 4 milligrams per day. If you are taking a krill oil supplement, be sure to factor in the amount of astaxanthin you are already receiving from krill and adjust the recommended dosing accordingly.

You need your eyes for a lifetime and they are most definitely worth protecting. Beyond being a window to your soul, you now know they are also an important indicator of your health. Take steps today to safeguard your vision. A great first step may be to schedule that eye exam you’ve been putting off! You won’t regret having your eyes checked by a professional or the peace of mind that comes with proactively taking control of your health.

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How to Grow Cherries


By Dr. Mercola

Cherries are a favorite summer treat with a number of valuable health benefits, thanks to their antioxidants and powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. If the steep price and limited availability of commercial cherries leaves you wanting each season, consider growing your own.

General Growing Guidelines

Cherry trees will grow about 1 foot per year, provided they get sufficient amounts of nutrients. They’ll start producing fruit in two to four years, and can produce anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds of cherries per tree per year once fully mature.

Ideal soil conditions: Cherry trees need deep, loose, slightly acidic soil

Light requirements: All cherry varieties need a minimum of six hours of full sun. Eight to 10 hours of full sun is better

Fertilizer recommendations: Fertilize your tree three times a year: in early spring, when the tree starts to set flowers, and again in the fall. Worm castings and compost tea are ideal for early spring and flowering in the first year. In the fall, use a phosphorous-rich fertilizer to encourage root growth that will get the tree ready for dormancy. (For a more in-depth discussion on fertilizer usage, see the featured video)

Water needs: After planting your tree, give it 1 gallon of water per day for the first three weeks. For the next two weeks, cut back to 1 gallon every two days. After that, make sure it gets about 1 gallon of water per week. You can gauge the tree’s water needs by keeping a close eye on the cherries as they begin to ripen.

Excessive dryness will cause the fruit to shrivel, while water logging will cause the fruit to crack and split. Certain cultivars are better suited for wet conditions, so look for a cultivar that resists cracking if you live in an area prone to heavy rains in the summer.

Sweet Versus Tart Cherry

Conventional cherries can be divided into two primary categories: sweet and tart (sour). The Duke cherry is a hybrid mix of both sweet and tart. Sweet varieties are typically eaten fresh, while tart cherries develop a fuller flavor when used in cooking, which is why they're often used in baked desserts. Both kinds can be grown in your home garden, depending on your hardiness zone.1

Tart cherry trees are self-pollinating, grow to about 20 feet in height and begin to bear fruit at an earlier age than sweet cherry. They can be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 4, 5 and 6, and require about 1,000 chill hours below 45 degrees F during winter months. They tend to grow better in moderately heavy soil, and should be spaced about 20 to 25 feet apart for optimal growth.

Sweet cherry is suitable for USDA zones 5 through 9, and need about 150 to 300 chill hours during winter months. Sweet cherry trees can grow up to 35 feet, unless you buy a dwarf variety. The type of soil you have in your yard can help guide your choice. If you have heavy soil, Mazzard sweet cherry is a good choice, whereas Mahaleb sweet cherry grows better in lighter soils. Damil is a dwarf variety of sweet cherry that can tolerate wetter, heavier soils.

Some sweet cherry cultivars are self-pollinating, including Stella, Black Gold and North Star. Others may need companion trees to ensure successful pollination. Van, Sam, Rainier and Bing cherries can pollinate any cross-pollinating variety except their own kind.2

Acerola Cherry

Since I live in Florida, my personal favorite is the Barbados or West Indian cherry, more commonly known as the acerola cherry,3 which is a phenomenal source of vitamin C. Each acerola cherry provides about 80 milligrams (mg) of natural vitamin C, and since the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C in the U.S. is a mere 75 to 90 mg, just one of these cherries can provide you with all the vitamin C you need for the day!

Acerola cherries cannot tolerate transportation and storage, so you won’t find them in the store. Deterioration can occur within four hours of harvesting and they ferment quickly, rendering them unusable in five days or less. Unless you intend to use them for juicing, they also do not fare well being kept in the freezer. If you live in a subtropical climate like Florida, you can easily grow them, however, and eat them straight off the bush as they ripen for several months out of the year.

Growing Cherry From Seed

If you have the patience, you can grow your cherry tree from seed.4 To do this, simply collect the pits from the cherries you eat — ideally bought from a local grower to make sure they’re suitable for growing in your area. Commercial cherries also produce less reliable results due to the way they’ve been transported and stored.

Soak the pits in a bowl of warm water for five minutes, then lightly scrub off any remaining fruit flesh. Let the pits dry on a paper towel in a warm area for three to five days, then place them in a tight-lidded container and refrigerate for 10 weeks. The refrigeration mimics the winter chill period required to trigger germination. 

Before planting, allow the seeds to thaw to room temperature. Place two to three seeds in a small pot and water them into the soil. Keep the soil moist until the seeds begin to sprout. Once the seedlings reach a height of about 2 inches, remove the weakest plants so that only one plant per pot remains.

Continue keeping the seedling in a sunny window until the last frost has passed, at which point you can transplant it into your garden. If planting multiple trees, space them at least 20 feet apart. Add mulch to encourage water retention and slow down weed growth.

Propagating Cherry From a Cutting

Another option, and a far easier and more reliable one, is to propagate your cherry tree from a semi-hardwood or hardwood cutting. Both tart and sweet cherry can be propagated this way. Gardening Know How offers the following instructions:5

“Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken from the tree in the summer when the wood is still slightly soft and partially mature. Hardwood cuttings are taken during the dormant season when the wood is hard and mature. First, fill a 6-inch clay or plastic pot with a mix of half perlite and half sphagnum peat moss. Water the potting mix until it is uniformly moist. Select a branch on the cherry that has leaves and two to four leaf nodes, and preferably one that is under 5 years of age.

Cuttings taken from older trees should be taken from the youngest branches. Using sharp, sterile pruning shears cut off a 4- to 8-inch section of the tree at a horizontal angle. Strip any leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting. Dip the end of the cutting into rooting hormone. Make a hole in the rooting medium with your finger. Insert the cut end of the cutting into the hole and tamp down the rooting medium around it.

Either place a plastic bag over the container or cut the bottom out of a milk jug and place it over the top of the pot. Keep the cutting in a sunny area with a temperature of at least 65 F. Keep the medium moist, misting it twice a day with a spray bottle. Remove the bag or milk jug from the cutting after two to three months, and check the cutting to see if it has rooted.

Tug the cutting lightly. If you feel resistance, continue to grow until the roots fill the container. When the roots have encompassed the pot, transfer the cutting to a gallon container filled with potting soil.”

As with most other plants, allow the tender cherry tree to acclimatize to the outdoors by placing it in a shady spot during daytime hours for a week before transplanting it in the ground, following the directions given previously. The featured video will also talk you through the key planting points.

Common Pests and Diseases

Waterlogging causing the fruit to crack and birds emptying the tree of fruit are two common problems. For the former, ensure proper drainage. To keep birds from flying away with your harvest, cover the tree with netting as the fruit starts to form. Planting mulberry trees nearby can also help lure birds away from your cherry trees, but won’t prevent them from eating your cherries as well.

As for insect infestations and plant disease, cherry tends to be more vulnerable than tart cherry, although both can fall prey to a number of pests and diseases, including the following. For tips and tricks on eliminating these pests, see provided references:

Cherry fruit fly6

Green fruit worm7

Peach tree borer8


Plum curculio10

Shothole borers11

Black cherry aphids12

Pear thrips13

Brown rot14

Bacterial canker15

Black knot16

Cherry leaf spot17

Health Benefits of Tart and Sweet Cherries

Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, which help prevent and relieve arthritis and gout. Sweet cherries such as Bing are also useful against gout, as they lower both uric acid and C-reactive protein levels.18 In one study,19 gout patients who ate a one-half cup serving of cherries per day for two days had a 35 percent lower risk of a subsequent gout attack. Those who ate more cherries, up to three servings in two days, halved their risk.

Tart cherries may also be useful for general muscle soreness. A study20 involving long-distance runners found that tart cherry juice significantly reduced post-exertion pain. Other research has confirmed tart cherry juice is a valuable endurance sports drink.21

Thanks to their high vitamin C content, both sweet and tart cherries may also help stave off exercise-induced asthma, the symptoms of which include cough, wheezing and shortness of breath when exercising. A meta-analysis22 from Finland found vitamin C may reduce bronchoconstriction caused by exercise by nearly 50 percent.

Sweet Cherry Nutrition Facts

Sweet cherries are a great source of potassium,23 which is important for maintaining normal blood pressure. It plays an important role in your fluid balance and helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium. Sweet cherries also contain a number of antioxidants and plant compounds with medicinal benefits, including:

Beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A (retinol), important for healthy vision.

Vitamin C, the “grandfather” of the traditional antioxidants, the health benefits of which have been clearly established. It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.

Anthocyanins, including quercetin. Sweet cherries have three times the amount of anthocyanins than tart cherries, and those with deep purple pigments (opposed to red) have the highest amounts.

Quercetin is among the most potent in terms of antioxidant activity and has been shown to be an effective antiviral, capable of warding off influenza and a number of other viral illnesses. As a group, anthocyanins have been shown to promote cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of mutated cells, thereby reducing your cancer risk.

Cyanidin,24 an organic pigment compound with powerful antioxidant activity. By promoting cellular differentiation, it reduces the risk of healthy cells transforming into cancer cells. One study found cyanidin isolated from tart cherries was superior to that of vitamin E and comparable to commercially available antioxidant products.25

Ellagic acid, this polyphenolprevents the binding of carcinogens to DNA and strengthens connective tissue,” thereby preventing the spread of cancer cells.26 It also inhibits DNA mutations and inhibits cancer by triggering apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.

Melatonin,27 a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps lower inflammation and associated oxidative stress. It also plays a vital role in sleep, cancer prevention and general regeneration.

Based on daily environmental signals of light and darkness, your pineal gland has evolved to produce and secrete melatonin to help you sleep. Research suggests consuming tart cherry juice increases your melatonin levels, thereby improving time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. According to the researchers:28

"… consumption of a tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and might be of benefit in managing disturbed sleep."

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Time for Tarragon


By Dr. Mercola

Herbs improve taste and add flavor to many meals, as well as increase the nutritional density in the foods you eat. Many herbs provide protection against diseases, can clear toxins from your body and may provide you with vitamins and minerals. Each time you add flavor with herbs or spices you are essentially upgrading your food without adding a single calorie.

Gram for gram, herbs rank even higher in antioxidant density than fruits and vegetables. They are often grown for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary herbs are typically derived from the green leafy part of the plant, while the medicinal herb can come from a shrub or other woody part of the plant. By contrast, spices are derived from seeds, bark, roots, fruit or other parts of the plant.

The tarragon plant is a perennial herb from the sunflower family and often grows wild across much of North America. The herb is popularly used in cooking and such a vital part of French cuisine it is one of the “Fines Herbes.” These herbs are four of the most commonly used in French cooking and include parsley, chervil and chives.1

History of Tarragon: The Little Dragon

The word tarragon is derived from the Latin word dracunculus meaning “little dragon.”2 Thought to be native to Siberia and Mongolia, the plant genus (Artemisia) comes from the Greek name Artemis, goddess of the moon. In Roman mythology the moon goddess is Diana, who was said to have given tarragon to a centaur.3

The word tarragon also has ties to French, referencing a little dragon. Much of the association with dragons is related to the serpentine shape of its roots. The active ingredients found in tarragon oil have been found effective for a variety of different ailments. The herb has been cultivated for nearly 600 years and thought to be brought to Italy by invading Mongols, who used it as a sleep aid and breath freshener.

Some historians believe Saint Catherine brought tarragon to France while visiting Pope Clement VI in the 14th century. However, she could not have done this as she was only 5 years old when Clement VI died.4 Other histories have tarragon arriving in France in the 1500s. If St. Catherine was the one who brought it to France, most likely it was after her visit to see Pope Gregory VI in 1376.5

After adoption by the French, this unique herb catapulted into culinary prominence. Although it is used sparingly in other cultures, in France, Germany, Poland and Denmark you'll find it used in salads and meats.6

Grow Tarragon at Home for Fresh Cooking All Year

Tarragon has a flavor reminiscent of anise and licorice. Gardeners find it makes an attractive border as the plant has an upright growth and delicate leaves. Tarragon is a perennial plant with thinly shaped leaves and a hint of silver in the light, making them distinctive in garden beds.7 Easy to grow in your garden, tarragon requires only well-drained soil, regular watering and plenty of sun. If you live in southern climates, the Mexican type may be a better choice as it will not lose flavor in extreme heat.

The French variety of tarragon is suited for growing in pots in your kitchen and can be planted directly in the ground. This means you can enjoy your herb year-round. The serpentine root system puts out little runners, spreading the plant rapidly through your garden. For this reason, you may want to have a dedicated spot for tarragon or restrict the root system by planting in a large pot and then sinking the container into the ground.8

The plants grow up to 3 feet tall, depending upon the type of tarragon. Most French tarragon plants flower a white, somewhat greenish globe, which are tiny and sometimes easy to miss. The flowers appear mid- to late summer, but are sterile and do not produce seeds.9 French tarragon is unusual as it spreads by rhizomes or cuttings, but not from seeds. When grown in your garden, clumps should be divided every three to four years so the plant maintains the characteristic aromatic flavor.

Russian tarragon plants can be propagated from seeds, but most gardeners grow the French variety as it is more aromatic and flavorful than the Russian variety.10 During winter months, cut the stems to ground level and mulch them for protection. Most tarragon plants are hardy up to 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.11 Or, if you are growing your tarragon in pots, they can be brought into your home and placed in a sunny window before the first frost.

Cultivate, Propagate and Harvest Your Garden

While growing your own herbs is a convenient way of having fresh ingredients whenever you need them, you also have the additional benefit of avoiding pesticides and other chemicals used in commercially grown plants. In the featured video, you’ll discover how easy it is to grow tarragon at home. Tarragon plants enjoy a soil pH level between 6.5 and 7.5 and spacing approximately 18 to 24 inches for adequate air circulation and good drainage. While the plants do have an active root system, the roots are relatively delicate.12

French tarragon plants only propagate through division or stem cuttings as seeds are rare. Root division can be done in the mid spring as the new shoots break ground. These plants may be planted and kept outside while stem cuttings can be taken during the summer months and rooted indoors.13 Take care while dividing the roots to prevent damage, using a knife instead of a hoe or a shovel.

You may take cuttings from young stems in the early morning hours by cutting 4 to 8 inches just below a node. Remove the lower leaves and dip the end into a rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in moist potting soil and keep it consistently misted and in a sunny area. Once roots have formed, the plant can be transplanted into your garden after the danger of frost is past.

Take care not to over water the plants during the growing season and ensure you’re planting your French tarragon in an area that is partially shaded in the afternoon. Mulch around the base of the plant to discourage root rot and keep the moisture near the surface of your herb. Fertilize the soil at the time of planting with a rich compost. After this, there is no further need to add fertilizer. The plants can be pruned to maintain its shape and divided in the spring every two to three years to maintain health and flavor of the plant.14

There is no specific time during which you must harvest tarragon. You can begin using the leaves as soon as the plant has enough to sustain growth. Leave at least one-third of the leaves on the plant. As the leaves are very delicate, you'll want to use kitchen shears to cut them from the plant. Bruising the leaf releases oils and reduces the power it has in your cooking.15

The flavor of tarragon is strongest when it's fresh. However, if you've picked too much you can try storing it in a freezer bag in the freezer or placing it in a glass with water at the bottom. Another option is to wrap the base in a damp towel, place it in a plastic bag and then keep it in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, freezing the plant has better flavor retention than drying it.16

The Little Dragon Is Healthy and Tasty

Tarragon has a dense nutrient profile, containing vitamins A, B, C and flavonoids. The plant is also an excellent source of minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium.17 When eaten regularly, tarragon may help reduce the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack as it supports cardiovascular health. The plant may also slow blood clotting, which may increase the risk of bleeding if it's taken as a supplement.18

The plant is a natural diuretic and may help reduce water retention.19 Polyphenolic compounds and dietary fibers found in tarragon may help to lower blood sugars naturally in individuals who suffer from diabetes.20 The presence of iron helps in the production of red blood cells and the presence of zinc may help repair damage to your intestinal mucosa and support your immune system.

As the plant contains eugenol oil, tarragon has a numbing effect helping to reduce mouth and tooth pain. Consider drinking the tea or simply chewing on the leaves. Tarragon tea may also help with insomnia because of its calming effect and can help fight bad breath and reduce body odor.21

Uses of Tarragon Essential Oil at Home

Tarragon is useful in the kitchen and can also be made into an essential oil with aromatherapeutic properties. The aroma is like the fresh plant and has a slightly spicy taste. Aromatherapeutic properties include:22


Tarragon essential oil has effective antimicrobial properties. When diluted and applied on your underarms, it can help prevent the development of bad odor.


Tarragon oil can help improve blood flow throughout your body and eliminate uric acid. This combination may reduce the risks of developing rheumatism and arthritis.


Improved blood flow helps increase the distribution of oxygen, nutrients and antioxidants in your body, stimulating optimal health.


Tarragon essential oil has a stimulating effect on your brain, nervous, digestive and endocrine systems, which helps support growth and improve your immune system.

Tarragon essential oil can be used in several different ways:

Massage: Mix 2 to 4 drops of tarragon essential oil with a carrier oil and massage it on your body to enjoy the therapeutic benefits.

Bathwater: Add the oil to your bathwater and soak to enjoy the effects.

Tooth pain: Mix 1 to 2 drops in a cup of warm water and gargle to help relieve toothaches or sore throat.23

Potential Side Effects of Tarragon and Tarragon Essential Oil

Before using tarragon essential oil, you must be aware of its potential side effects. It contains estragole, also known as methyl chavicol, which can be poisonous in high doses. As tarragon has an effect on the female reproductive system and has been used to treat menstrual problems, it should never be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.24

If you are sensitive to plants in the Asteraceae family, such as ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums or marigolds, tarragon may produce an allergic reaction. And, as the plant is known to reduce clotting time, you should stop eating it prior to having surgery. Nevertheless, in controlled doses, the benefits can typically be enjoyed without any serious complications.

Consult with your doctor and pharmacist before using the oil to ensure there are no contraindications with any medications you take or underlying medical condition you may have.25 Do a skin patch test on your arm prior to use by placing a diluted drop on your skin to check for irritation or allergic reactions. Should any side effects occur, stop using the oil immediately.

Tips for Cooking With Tarragon

The Spruce offers several tips for cooking with tarragon.26 You'll find both fresh and dried tarragon at the grocery store but will notice when tarragon is dry, the oils dissipate and the flavor is much less intense. Tarragon may also be found at specialty markets and farmers markets.

  • To retain the most flavor, use your tarragon fresh or freeze it in whole sprigs in an airtight bag. Always use frozen tarragon within three to five months.
  • Heat will intensify the flavor of the herb.
  • Tarragon vinegar can easily be made at home by placing fresh sprigs into a sterilized bottle of distilled white vinegar. Continue steeping this until it suits your taste, sampling after several days. Once the desired strength is achieved, carefully remove the sprigs.
  • White vinegar can also be used to preserve fresh tarragon while stored in the refrigerator. Use preserve tarragon in sauces, butters or any recipe where fresh is not required.
  • Although the taste may be new, try using it in a baked potato, potato salad or egg dishes as an introduction to your palate. Tarragon works well with tomatoes and carrots as well and can be used on a grilled summer vegetables or green salad.

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Goldenseal: An Herb That Could Be Worth Its Weight in Gold


Native Americans have been using goldenseal for a long time, and have revered it for its wide array of health benefits. This valuable herb is believed to work against numerous ailments, from upset stomach to jaundice, and may even have cancer-protective properties. But because it’s so sought after, the population of this wild-growing plant is now dwindling. Discover important facts about goldenseal and find out why this age-old herb is considered one of the most versatile traditional cures of all time.

What Is Goldenseal?

A low-sprawling woodland plant that belongs to the Ranunculaceae, or buttercup, family, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is native to eastern North America, from Ontario, Canada, to south Georgia in the U.S.; and from Oklahoma to South Carolina.

It once grew thick in the Ohio River valley, but today is considered endangered, critically imperiled, rare, uncommon or threatened in Canada and 27 U.S. states, including Tennessee, where it is considered commercially exploited due to over-collection for the herbal industry.1,2,3

The plant grows up to 1 foot tall, and can be identified through its 1-foot-wide palm-shaped leaves, an erect and hairy stem and small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in spring and turn into a cluster of red, inedible berries. The flowers bloom into stamens (arm-like spokes), and do not have petals.

As a threatened species, goldenseal was added to Appendix 11 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species list in 1997, which means that it now must be artificially propagated for commercial use, with its roots, rhizomes, rootstocks and bulk powder highly regulated for trade.4

Goldenseal plant is also known as eye root, hydraste, eyebalm, Indian turmeric, orange root and yellow root, to name a few. Its most well-known moniker, however, is based on its thick yellow rhizome, or the root. Goldenseal root is said to be the source of this plant’s medicinal powers. This is the part that’s dried and turned into goldenseal powder or capsules, as well as tinctures and creams.5

The roots are also dried to use in teas.6 However, this is also the reason why these plants are disappearing. Unlike other herbs and spices whose leaves and flowers can be safely harvested while keeping the plant intact, goldenseal’s root, once harvested, destroys the plant. And because goldenseal seeds take five to seven years before they can mature, replacing the plant at the same rate it is harvested is difficult.7

Goldenseal Has Been Used for a Long Time

Native Americans greatly valued goldenseal herb, using not only the root, but the leaves and flowers as well. They also used goldenseal root as a potent yellow dye for clothing. Nevertheless, what stands out more are the numerous health benefits of this simple little plant. These native tribes have actually used goldenseal, both medicinally and culturally, for hundreds of years.

For example, the Cherokee mixed goldenseal root with bear fat to use as a topical insect repellent, while the Iroquois drank it to treat fevers and pneumonia. Overall, many Native Americans east of the Mississippi River considered goldenseal a medicinal agent for fighting coughs and tuberculosis, for easing digestive issues and as a potion for eye and skin infections and earaches. Some even used it to treat gonorrhea.8,9,10

Goldenseal’s Health Benefits Are Far-Reaching

But what exactly makes goldenseal so useful for your health? The secret is in the three active alkaloids that it contains, namely hydrastine, palmatine, canadine and berberine.

Berberine, in particular, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and immune-boosting properties.11,12 It works against various bacteria, fungi and protozoa, and may even help treat gastrointestinal issues. Berberine was even said to have antidiabetic properties13 and may help control blood sugar and lipid metabolism just as efficiently as the diabetes drug metformin.14

Today, although scientific research is still ongoing, 15 goldenseal root is used as a complementary medicine to treat AIDS, while commercial products in supplement form tout it for cold symptoms, hay fever, rhinitis and nasal congestion.16,17 Some people take goldenseal for various respiratory and digestive issues.18 It is also used as an eyewash.19

Aside from the three alkaloids mentioned, goldenseal also offers essential oils, fatty oil and resin. This potent combination can help contribute to the herb’s many health benefits, such as:20,21,22

Improved gut and gastrointestinal tract (GI) health.23 If you suffer from irregular bowel movements, ulcer, constipation, cramping and bloating, goldenseal may help your system get back on track.It also promotes better digestion and increased bile secretion.

Relief from sinus conditions. Powdered goldenseal root may help reduce infection and inflammation in the sinus cavities.

Healing of skin ailments. Thanks to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, goldenseal may be effective against acne, eczema, dry skin and psoriasis. It may even help eliminate dandruff.

Protection for the liver. An animal study published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research has found that goldenseal may have hepatoprotective effects24 that can help protect the liver and prevent liver failure.

Reduce the risk of cancer. When used with other herbs like red clover, goldenseal may help minimize the risk of certain cancers. One study published in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology journal25 even demonstrated the effects of berberine for melanoma.

Due to its potent antibiotic effects, some people have found goldenseal effective against urinary tract infections (UTI).26 The berberine in this herb also helps keep infectious bacteria like E. coli27 from attaching to your cell walls.

Goldenseal blends well with some herbs, even helping boost their health-protective properties. One popular herbal combination that’s said to provide immense benefits is goldenseal and Echinacea. When taken in tandem, these two herbs are said to help strengthen your immune system and help keep colds and flu at bay.28

Growing Goldenseal

Goldenseal thrives best in moist forest soils or damp meadows, and often grows wild. However, because this herb is becoming scarce in its natural habitat and is in danger of becoming extinct, then you may want to consider growing your own goldenseal plant. The North Carolina State University provides helpful guidelines in growing goldenseal:29

“Goldenseal can be propagated from rhizome pieces, root cuttings, 1-year-old seedlings or seed. It takes five to seven years to grow harvestable roots from seed and three to five years to grow harvestable roots from rhizome pieces. Root cuttings or seedlings usually take four to six years.

Site selection is the most important factor for producing healthy goldenseal. Goldenseal grows best in a rich, moist, loamy soil with good air and water drainage. Planting on a slight slope will improve drainage. Do not plant in a bottom or in a heavy, poorly drained soil. Goldenseal needs to be grown in the shade, which can be provided artificially or by a natural forest canopy.”

The site also notes that due to the plant’s endangered status in the state, those who wish to cultivate this herb in their backyard need to acquire a permit from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Plant Industry Division.

Here’s a Goldenseal Tea Recipe You Can Try

One of the easiest ways to get the benefits of goldenseal is to make an herbal tea from the powdered root or the leaves. Here’s one simple recipe from Organic Facts30 that you can try:

Goldenseal Tea


1 teaspoon goldenseal powdered root or leaves

2 to 3 cups boiling water

Raw honey or lemon, to taste


1. Boil the water in a kettle.

2. Put 1 teaspoon of goldenseal powdered root or leaves in a teacup.

3. Pour the boiling water over the goldenseal and allow to steep for 15-20 minutes.

3. Strain the tea and serve hot. Add lemon or raw organic honey, to taste.

Note: the tea can have a bitter flavor that many may not be able to tolerate, so adding a teaspoon of raw honey may be a good idea.31 You can also add a teaspoon of echinacea to this recipe.

Be Aware of These Potential Goldenseal Side Effects

If taken in small and moderate doses, in proper preparations such as tinctures, capsules or tea, goldenseal is most likely harmless. However, I still recommended that you consult your physician to ensure that this herb is safe for you, especially if you’re dealing with any medical condition.

Some health experts claim that fresh, raw goldenseal plant may be poisonous and cause serious reactions, such as mouth and throat irritation, paralysis, burning or tingling on the skin, respiratory failure and even death.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid using goldenseal, as a potentially hazardous chemical in the herb can cross the placenta or make its way into breastmilk. It’s not safe for young children and babies either. Newborns who have been exposed to goldenseal have also experienced brain damage (kernicterus).32

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Real Food Is a Potent Ally Against Depression


By Dr. Mercola

According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide,1,2 affecting an estimated 322 million people globally, including more than 16 million Americans, 6 million of which are seniors.3 Statistics also reveal we're not being particularly effective when it comes to prevention and treatment. Worldwide, rates of depression increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.4

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or some other mental health problem, remember that your diet is a foundational aspect that must not be overlooked. As noted in a 2015 study5 published in the medical journal Lancet:

"Although the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders, suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology."

The Compelling Link Between Food and Mood

Recent research6,7,8 looking at the effects of the antihypertensive DASH diet on mental health concluded this kind of dietary pattern, which is low in sugar and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, can help reduce the risk of depression in seniors. Overall, people who followed the DASH diet were 11 percent less likely to develop depression over the following six years, whereas those following a standard Western diet, high in red meat and low in fruits and vegetables, had the highest rates of depression.

It's worth noting that while many conventional experts recommend the DASH diet, it is not necessarily ideal for optimal health, as it also promotes whole grains and low-fat foods, including low-fat dairy. Healthy fats, including saturated animal and plant fats and animal-based omega-3, are quite crucial for optimal brain health. I believe the reason the DASH diet produces many beneficial results is because it is low in sugar and high in unprocessed foods — not because it's low in fat.

Other studies have shown that unprocessed foods, especially fermented foods, help optimize your gut microbiome, thereby supporting optimal mental health,9,10 whereas sugar, wheat (gluten) and processed foods have been linked to a greater risk for depression, anxiety and even suicide. The primary information highway between your gut and your brain is your vagus nerve, which connects the two organs.11

Your gut also communicates to your brain via the endocrine system in the stress pathway (the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis), and by producing mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. These communication links help explain why your gut health has such a significant impact on your mental health.

The Strong Link Between Sugar and Depression

A number of food ingredients can cause or aggravate depression, but one of the most significant is sugar, particularly refined sugar and processed fructose.12 For example, in one study, men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years compared to those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day (which is still far higher than the 25 grams per day recommended for optimal health).13

This held true even after accounting for other contributing factors, such as socioeconomic status, exercise, alcohol use, smoking, other eating habits, body weight and general physical health. Lead author Anika Knüppel,14 a research student in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, commented on the findings, saying:15

"Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term. People experiencing low mood may eat sugary foods in the hope of alleviating negative feelings. Our study suggests a high intake of sugary foods is more likely to have the opposite effect on mental health in the long-term."

Research16 published in 2002, which correlated per capita consumption of sugar with prevalence of major depression in six countries, also found "a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and the annual rate of depression." A Spanish study17 published in 2011 linked depression specifically to consumption of baked goods.

Those who ate the most baked goods had a 38 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate the least. This makes sense when you consider baked goods contain both processed grains and added sugars.

How Sugar Wreaks Havoc on Your Mood and Mental Health

Sugar has been shown to trigger depression and other mental health problems through a number of different mechanisms, including the following:

Feeding pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake more beneficial bacteria.

Suppressing activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, and animal models suggest this may actually be a causative factor.

Triggering a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation, which over the long term disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain.

Contributing to insulin and leptin resistance, which also plays a significant role in your mental health.

Affecting dopamine, a neurotransmitter that fuels your brain's reward system18 (hence sugar's addictive potential19,20,21) and is known to play a role in mood disorders.22

Damaging your mitochondria, which can have bodywide effects. Your mitochondria generate the vast majority of the energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) in your body.

When sugar is your primary fuel, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are created, which damage cellular mitochondrial membranes and DNA. As your mitochondria are damaged, the energy currency in your body declines and your brain will struggle to work properly.

Healthy dietary fats, on the other hand, create far fewer ROS and free radicals. Fats are also critical for the health of cellular membranes and many other biological functions, including and especially the functioning of your brain.

Among the most important fats for brain function and mental health are the long-chained animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. Not only are they anti-inflammatory, but DHA is actually a component in every cell of your body, and 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA.

Eating Real Food Is Key

A paper23 published in Nutritional Neuroscience last year looked at evidence from laboratory, population research and clinical trials to create "a set of practical dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression, based on the best available current evidence." According to this paper, the published evidence reveals five key dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression:

  • Following a "traditional" dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian or Japanese diet
  • Increasing consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds (note that autoimmune diseases are rampant and whole grains and legumes are loaded with lectins and best avoided. See my interview with Dr. Steven Gundry for more details)
  • Eating plenty of omega-3-rich foods
  • Replacing unhealthy processed foods with real, wholesome nutritious foods
  • Avoiding processed foods, fast food, commercial baked goods and sweets

Processed Foods Are Problematic in More Ways Than One

Three brain- and mood-wrecking culprits you'll automatically avoid when avoiding processed foods are added sugars, artificial sweeteners24 and processed vegetable oils — harmful fats known to clog your arteries and cause mitochondrial dysfunction. Gluten also appears to be particularly problematic for many. If you're struggling with depression or anxiety, you'd be well-advised to experiment with a gluten-free diet.

Certain types of lectins, especially wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), are also known for their psychiatric side effects. WGA can cross your blood brain barrier25 through a process called "adsorptive endocytosis," pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath26 and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor,27 which is important for the growth, maintenance and survival of certain target neurons.

Processed foods are also a significant source of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and toxic herbicides like Roundup. In addition to being toxic and potentially carcinogenic, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been shown to preferentially decimate beneficial gut microbes. Many grains need to dry in the field before being harvested, and to speed that process, the fields are doused with glyphosate a couple of weeks before harvest.

As a result of this practice, called desiccation, grain-based products tend to contain rather substantial amounts of glyphosate. This reason alone is enough to warrant a grain-free diet, but if you do choose to eat whole grain products, make sure it's organic to avoid glyphosate contamination.

Your beverage choices may also need an overhaul, as most people drink very little pure water, relying on sugary beverages like sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavored water for their hydration needs. None of those alternatives will do your mental health any favors.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Protects and Supports Good Mental Health

As mentioned above, one of the mechanisms by which good nutrition bolsters mental health is by cutting down inflammation in your body, and a high-sugar diet is exceptionally inflammatory. A number of studies have linked depression with chronic inflammation.28,29

For example, a study30 published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2016 concluded that depressed patients had 46 percent higher levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein in their blood. Interestingly, they also had 16 percent lower levels of low fractional exhaled nitric oxide, which adds further support for doing exercises that boost nitric oxide cycling, such as the Nitric Oxide Dump exercise. As explained in the study:

"Nitric oxide (NO), in addition to being an inflammatory mediator, is also a neurotransmitter at the neuron synapses. It modulates norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and glutamate and thus is speculated to play a role in the pathogenesis of depression. Nitric oxide is also currently seen as a marker of airway inflammation and can be measured during exhalation.

Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) may represent both constitutive and inducible NO. Small studies suggest that subjects with depressed mood have low levels of FeNO … Subjects with depression also have low levels of plasma and platelet NO. The low systemic levels of NO have been postulated to be responsible for the increased risk of cardiovascular events observed in subjects with depression, as NO produces vasodilatation …

In summary, this large population-based study found that depression is associated with high levels of CRP and low levels of FeNO. These findings corroborate the premise that inflammation could play a role in the pathophysiology of major depression and that major depression may be seen as a psychoneuroimmunological disorder."

Four Powerful Dietary Interventions

In addition to transitioning from a diet of processed fare to real food, consider:

Implementing a cyclical ketogenic diet, high in healthy fats, low in net carbs with moderate amounts of protein. This kind of diet will optimize your mitochondrial function, which has significant implications for mental health. In fact, one noticeable effect of nutritional ketosis is mental clarity and a sense of calm. The reason for this welcome side effect has to do with the fact that when your body is able to burn fat for fuel, ketones are created, which is the preferred fuel for your brain.

Intermittent fasting will also help optimize your brain function and prevent neurological problems by activating your body's fat-burning mode, preventing insulin resistance and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, the latter of which has been identified as a causative factor in depression.31,32

While you may achieve some of the benefits from intermittent fasting simply by respecting the time boundaries, regardless of the foods you consume, it is far better if you consume high-quality unprocessed food.

Since you'll be eating less, it's vitally important that you get proper nutrition. Healthy fats are essential because intermittent fasting pushes your body to switch over to fat-burning mode. Particularly if you begin to feel tired and sluggish, it may be a sign that you need to increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet.

Water fasting. Once you're starting to burn fat for fuel, gradually increase the length of your daily intermittent fasting to 20 hours per day. After a month of 20-hour daily fasting, you're likely in good metabolic shape and able to burn fat as fuel. At that point, you can try a four or five-day water-only fast.

I now do a quarterly five-day fast, as I believe this is one of the most powerful metabolic health interventions out there. A five-day fast will effectively clean out senescent cells that have stopped duplicating due to aging or oxidative damage, which would otherwise clog up your optimal biologic function by causing and increasing inflammation.

Exercise and get regular movement throughout your day. Exercise is one of the most effective antidepressant strategies out there, beating most medical interventions for depression.

Electromagnetic Field Exposures Could Be Wreaking Havoc With Your Mental Health

Another foundational strategy to prevent or treat depression and anxiety is to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Studies have linked excessive EMF exposure to an increased risk of both depression and suicide.33 Addiction to or "high engagement" with mobile devices can also trigger depression and anxiety, according to recent research from the University of Illinois.34

Research35 by Martin Pall, Ph.D., reveals a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies, which helps explain why these technologies can have such a potent impact on your mental health. Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), which are activated by microwaves. When activated, a cascade of biochemical effects occurs that result in the creation of extremely destructive hydroxyl free radicals.

Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease. The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes. Hence, health problems such as Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility can be directly linked to excessive microwave exposure.

So, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technologies, in addition to addressing your diet and exercise. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom. The electric wiring inside your bedroom walls is probably the most important source to address.

Your best bet here is to turn off the power to your bedroom at night. This will work if there are no adjacent rooms. If there are, you may need to shut those rooms off also. The only way to know would be to measure the electric fields. For additional lifestyle guidelines that can help prevent and/or treat depression, see the nondrug solutions section at the end of this previous article on depression.

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Volunteer Work Is Good for Your Brain


By Dr. Mercola

Only about 25 percent of Americans volunteer,1 despite the fact that doing good for others stands to benefit everyone involved. Volunteer work is unique in that it often involves social, physical and cognitive dimensions, and research has shown that retired seniors who engage in activities that require moderate effort in two or more of these dimensions slash their risk of dementia by 47 percent.2

“An active and socially integrated lifestyle in late life protects against dementia and AD [Alzheimer’s disease],” the researchers wrote,3 and volunteering is one way to achieve this. Since volunteers are needed in a seemingly endless variety of organizations, from animal shelters and schools to food pantries and youth services, there’s a volunteer opportunity to appeal to virtually everyone. It costs you nothing, save for some time, and while giving back to those around you you’ll reap impressive benefits to your brain.

Volunteering Lowers Your Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Decline

The brain benefits of volunteering are so great that researchers writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggested doctors should start writing their senior patients prescriptions for volunteer work. They found that in individuals aged 60 and over, volunteering regularly decreased the risk of cognitive impairment over a 14-year period:4

“Consistent civic engagement in old age is associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment and provides impetus for interventions to protect against the onset of cognitive impairment. Given the increasing number of baby boomers entering old age, the findings support the public health benefits of volunteering and the potential role of geriatricians, who can promote volunteering by incorporating ‘prescriptions to volunteer’ into their patient care.”

Separate research published in The Journal of the Economics of Ageing similarly revealed that taking part in volunteer work “significantly forestalls” the progress of cognitive decline in people aged 60 years and older.5 "Volunteering is a pathway through which you can increase brain activity," Michelle Carlson, associate professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told AARP.6 Carlson co-wrote a small study of older women who were at high risk of cognitive decline.

They engaged in volunteer work 15 hours a week for six months, assisting elementary school teachers with children’s literacy and academic achievement. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), it was shown the women had increases in brain activity in areas involved in executive functions, along with behavioral improvements to match.7

Volunteering may even lead to increases in volume in brain regions such as the hippocampus, which is involved in memory, as opposed to the declines in volume typically seen with age. One study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, for instance, revealed that men and women who volunteered for two years had increases in brain volume of up to 1.6 percent and 0.54 percent, respectively, while those in a control group experienced declines in volume.

“These findings showed that purposeful activity embedded within a social health promotion program halted and, in men, reversed declines in brain volume in regions vulnerable to dementia,” the researchers concluded.8 What’s more, the longer the volunteering took place, the greater the brain benefits appeared to be.

Volunteering May Buffer Daily Stress, Benefit Your Heart

Exactly how volunteering helps brain health remains to be seen, although it’s been suggested that the social element of helping others, along with the stimulation of learning new things, could be factors.9 It’s also quite possible that the brain benefits stem, at least in part, from other bodywide benefits that volunteering offers. Volunteering can lower your risk of depression and anxiety10 and even boost your psychological well-being.11

Volunteering to help others 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. When researchers tested the buffering role of daily volunteer work on stress levels, it was found that salivary cortisol levels were lower on days when participants volunteered compared to days they did not, offering legitimate stress-buffering effects. Researchers wrote in Social Science & Medicine:12

“Our findings are suggestive of a unique, but unobserved, neurobiological mechanism underlying the link between volunteering and better health. Volunteer programs designed to help others in need may be considered as an intervention strategy for individuals living under stressful conditions.”

Research from Carnegie Mellon University further revealed that people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not.13 The type of volunteer work appeared to be irrelevant. Rather, it was the amount of time spent doing it that mattered. Indeed, social interaction, and the stress relief it can provide, is likely one major reason why volunteering has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, as it's a well-known fact that stress elevates blood pressure.

The study’s lead author, Rodlescia Sneed, also pointed to social interactions as a key reason why volunteering is so beneficial, noting in a press release:14

"As people get older, social transitions like retirement, bereavement and the departure of children from the home often leave older adults with fewer natural opportunities for social interaction … Participating in volunteer activities may provide older adults with social connections that they might not have otherwise. There is strong evidence that having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes."

Impressive, Whole-Body Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering’s many benefits are not limited to one area of the body like your brain or your heart but rather appear to extend bodywide. Volunteerism is linked to lower all-cause mortality in older adults,15 for instance, and additional benefits such as the following have also been noted:16

  • Greater life satisfaction
  • Greater self-esteem
  • Increased personal control
  • Fewer depressive symptoms
  • Delaying the onset of functional limitations that predict psychological distress among older adults

Physical activity is another area where volunteering shines, as many types of volunteer work require moderate physical exertion. People who volunteer have been found to be more physically active than those who do not,17 while “the simple act of walking to and from a volunteer site may promote increased activity among otherwise sedentary individuals,” researchers wrote in Psychology and Aging.18

In fact, when older adults in fair health engaged in intensive volunteering in an elementary school for 15 hours or more each week, continuing for the full duration of the school year, they reported a number of physical improvements, including improved stair-climbing speed and increased walking speed.19 Even people with chronic or serious illnesses stand to benefit from volunteering.

According to a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a U.S. agency that helps Americans help others through service, people suffering from chronic pain had reductions in pain intensity and disability when they volunteered to help others with chronic pain.20 "Making a connection" and "a sense of purpose” were two themes that emerged during the study, suggesting that these are primary reasons why volunteering proves to be so rewarding to volunteers.

In another study, people who volunteered following a heart attack reported reductions in despair and depression, which are linked to an increased risk of mortality, along with a greater sense of purpose.21 Research has even shown that states with a high volunteer rate have lower rates of mortality and incidences of heart disease.22 According to CNCS:23

“While these studies may differ in terms of their specific findings, they consistently demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health; when individuals volunteer, they not only help their community but also experience better health in later years, whether in terms of greater longevity, higher functional ability or lower rates of depression.”

Meeting the ‘Volunteering Threshold’

It’s unclear exactly how much volunteer work is necessary to reap its physical and mental rewards. However, some findings indicated that volunteering for about 100 hours a year may offer the greatest health advantages, and CNCS states that “it is not the case that the more an individual volunteers, the greater the health benefits.” Instead, they suggest there is a “volunteer threshold” that must be met — volunteering at least one or two hours a week — and after that no additional health benefits are gained from volunteering more.

That being said, another study found that volunteering 40 hours or less per year, or volunteering for just one organization (as opposed to two or more), led to the lowest risk of mortality,24 while others have suggested that volunteering too much may overwhelm an individual, with negative health consequences.

In addition, older volunteers may stand to gain the greatest health benefits compared to younger volunteers, possibly because in the case of seniors, volunteering may provide important ties to the community along with a sense of purpose.25

Still other research suggests that while volunteering regularly is associated with higher levels of mental well-being, this isn’t apparent until age 40 and beyond.26 Ultimately, if you’re considering volunteering, you should choose a cause that matters to you and invest as much time as you comfortably can. If you start to feel stressed by the obligation to volunteer, it may be a sign you’ve committed too much time.

Volunteering should leave you feeling good about your accomplishments and excited to continue your contribution. Ideally, for the greatest health, mental and emotional gains, especially as they pertain to your brain, seek out volunteer opportunities that provide opportunity for social connection and mental stimulation, and which help you to feel a sense of purpose, such as tutoring.

On the other hand, volunteer work that requires more physical activity, such as gardening, can increase your weekly activity, offering another set of benefits. And while you’re at it, be sure you keep a positive attitude and are volunteering for the right reasons. It’s possible, and has been shown by at least one study, that motives for volunteering matter, and people who volunteer for altruistic reasons enjoy increased longevity, whereas those who do so for more selfish reasons do not.27

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Beyond GMOs and Fast Food Nation: Regenerating Public Health


By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association

After decades of chemical-intensive agriculture, factory farms and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food, and an ongoing war against natural systems and traditional knowledge, America's rural communities, environment and public health are rapidly deteriorating.

The fatal harvest of Big Food Inc. includes rural economic decline and depopulation throughout the Americas, forced migration from Mexico and Central America, water and air pollution, aquifer depletion, pollinator and biodiversity destruction, soil erosion and fertility loss, climate destabilization, food contamination and nutrient degradation, and deteriorating public health.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress and the White House, aided and abetted by collaborators north and south of the border, are still dishing out their standard culinary message: Shut up and eat your GMOs.

Don't worry about toxic food and obesity, heart disease, learning and behavioral disorders, the cancer epidemic, food allergies, asthma and other chronic diseases. Forget about mutant genes, pesticide residues, antibiotics, hormone-disruptors, saturated fat, refined carbs, salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, e-coli, slaughterhouse waste, added sugar and a growing list of other horrors in your food, food packaging and drinking water.

Agribusiness, the Farm Bureau, and an army of public relations flacks want us to stop complaining. They want you to believe that if we work together — farmers and consumers — we can make Fast Food Nation great again. Just follow the example of our corpulent commander in chief in the White House: Chow down on a juicy Big Mac today, and every day. Keep the faith in America's industrial food system and Monsanto's minions — indentured scientists, politicians, dieticians, regulatory agencies and the mass media.

Factory Farmed GMO Food Is a Public Health Disaster

Without going into the alarming damage of industrial agriculture to our environment, climate and social fabric, which you can read about in the essay "Degeneration Nation 2018: The Darkest Hour," let's focus on the impact of America's degenerative food and farming system on public health.

The U.S. now spends more money on so-called health care than any other nation on Earth — $3.5 trillion a year. Yet, public health continues to deteriorate. This degeneration arises not only from an increasingly toxic environment laced with 84,000 industrial and agricultural chemicals, but via the cheap, unhealthy grub featured in supermarkets and dished up in restaurants, schools and institutional settings.

Even the government admits that:1 "About half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns …" Approximately 85 percent of Americans do not consume the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recommended intakes of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development.2

In this "Fast Food Nation," the conventional (i.e., chemical-tainted, genetically engineered, factory-farmed) U.S. diet is made up primarily of highly-processed packaged foods, garnished with small amounts of low-grade produce (fried potatoes, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes), with a typical supersized main course of factory-farm meat, eggs and dairy.

The vitamin and nutritional composition of these conventional foods and food-like substances is typically far below the nutritional density of fresh organic whole foods (organic produce and grains) grown on fertile soil, and 100 percent organic grass fed or pastured meat, eggs and dairy. Research3 consistently shows that organic foods are significantly higher in vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols and total antioxidants, especially in no-till regenerative organic systems.4

Poor Nutrition and Disease Go Hand in Hand

The fact that organic produce contains significantly more antioxidants than chemical food5 is especially important given that higher levels of antioxidants are associated with reduced risks for chronic diseases, including heart and brain disease and certain cancers.

Since the advent of industrial agriculture and GMOs, the nutritional value of foods, including important trace minerals and micronutrients, has dramatically declined, in large part due to the degradation of the soil from heavy tillage, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In contrast, healthy microbe-rich soil associated with regenerative (soil-centered) organic practices, produces crops with higher levels of nutrients. As Dr. Mercola has previously pointed out:

"The sad fact is, most of the food consumed by Americans today is not real food — it's genetically engineered, saturated with pesticides and added chemicals, and processed in a number of different ways. Many are so used to prepackaged foods, they struggle to understand what real food is."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 87 percent of Americans don't eat the USDA-recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day; 91 percent do not consume the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.  And, assuming the average person did consume these recommended amounts, unless these fruits and vegetables are organic — or better yet organic and regenerative — even the USDA admits that conventionally grown (i.e., nonorganic) vegetables and fruits contain far less nutrition than their counterparts 50 years ago. National Public Radio cited a nutrition expert:6

"'We have a serious disconnect between agriculture and health policy in our country,' said Marion Nestle,7 a leading nutrition researcher and author at New York University. 'The USDA does not support 'specialty crops' [like vegetables] to any appreciable extent and the Department of Commerce' figures show that the relative price of fruits and vegetables has gone up much faster than that of fast food or sodas.'

So while Americans are told to eat fruits and vegetables for their health, the government has meanwhile mostly just subsidized other crops that end up in cheaper, less healthy processed food. 'Price has a lot to do with this,' she adds.'"

Factory Farms Are Major Sources of Environmental Pollution

America's appetite for cheap meat and animal products has spawned an intensive confinement, factory farm system of production that not only makes us sick, but pollutes our water8 and air,9 exploits workers,10 is causing an antibiotic resistance crisis11 and is unconscionably inhumane.12

Factory-farm (GMO grain-fed) meat, eggs and dairy, compared with 100 percent grass fed and organic pastured products, are lower in omega-3 fatty-acids and typically contain less vitamin E, beta-carotene, antioxidants and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.

The public health and economic consequences of our degraded environment and food system are alarming. A recent Rand Corporation study13 found that 60 percent of Americans are now suffering from at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis; 42 percent have two or more, and that these chronic diseases now account for more than 40 percent of the entire U.S. health care spending of $3.5 trillion.

As indicated earlier, most of these chronic diseases are attributable to toxic food or other contaminants in our environment. One of every 2 Americans are now expected to come down with cancer in their lifetime. According to recent research, U.S. men born in 1960 have a lifetime cancer risk of 53.5 percent. For women, it's 47.5 percent.14

Seventy percent of U.S. drinking water15 is now contaminated with Monsanto's top-selling herbicide, Roundup, and 93 percent of consumers have traces of this toxic poison (active ingredient glyphosate) in our urine.16

Today in the U.S., 1 in 13 children has a serious food allergy; 6 to 24 percent have serious intestinal problems; 20 percent are obese; 60 percent have chronic headaches; 20 percent suffer from mental disorders and depression; while 1 in every 41 boys and 1 in every 68 girls are diagnosed with autism.17

A New Recipe

The movement for healthy, eco-friendly and humane food that many of us are now calling the "organic and regenerative food and farming movement,"18 has made huge strides in the past several decades in the U.S. and worldwide, fighting GMOs and industrial agriculture and promoting organic and regenerative food and farming.19

But now is not the time to sit back and just be satisfied with what we've accomplished. We must build on our success and ride our momentum to a future where organic and regenerative food and farming are the norm, not just the alternative. Here's what we need to do next:

Boycott GMOs, including every nonorganic packaged food product that displays a QR code.

Since Congress stabbed us in the back in 2016, killing mandatory GMO labeling and substituting new federal regulations that will replace Vermont's on-package mandatory GMO labels with QR Codes and 1-800 numbers, these QR Codes must become a veritable "skull and crossbones" symbol on food and beverage containers, helping us launch the largest boycott in modern history.

The easiest way, of course, to avoid GMOs is to buy organic, today and every day, or else look for the "Non-GMO Project" seal on food products. Keep in mind, however, that many "Non-GMO Project" labeled foods (unless they are also labeled organic) are produced using pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Boycott factory-farmed meat, dairy and poultry, i.e., everything that isn't labeled or marketed as organic or 100 percent grass fed or pastured.

Factory farms are the lynchpin of GMOs, industrial agriculture and fast-food restaurants. The U.S. factory farmed meat, dairy and poultry cartel is an out-of-control, trillion-dollar industry based on cruel, filthy, disease-ridden and environmentally destructive animal prisons (euphemistically called concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs).

Factory farm production is characterized by GMO- and pesticide-tainted animal feeds, labor exploitation, false advertising, corporate corruption of government, and the use of massive amounts of dangerous pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones and growth promoters.

Factory-farmed meat, dairy, poultry and fish are the No. 1 cause of water pollution, soil degradation, food system greenhouse gas emissions and human diet-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

We will never get rid of GMOs, chemical-intensive monocrops, antibiotic resistance, animal cruelty and agriculturally derived greenhouse gas emissions until we eliminate factory farms, which now imprison 95 percent of farm animals in the U.S., and 70 percent of all farm animals in the world.

Right now, the overwhelming majority of U.S. farmland is used to raise factory farm-destined animals before they are sent to the feedlots, or to grow GMO- and chemical-intensive grains to feed them. We need to stop feeding herbivores (cattle, sheep, goats) GMO- and pesticide-contaminated grain, and instead put the world's billions of farm animals back onto the pastures, rangelands and agro-forestry paddocks where they belong.

Make organic, grass fed and regenerative food and farming the dominant force in the market by 2025.

We need to educate consumers and change public policy so as to make organic and regenerative food at least 50 percent of the market by 2025, just as France and other nations are starting to do.

To do this, we will need to eliminate the multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidies for industrial agriculture and GMOs that make chemical food seem inexpensive compared to organic and grass fed food, despite industrial food's massive and costly damage to the environment, public health and the climate.

Pressure investors, universities, municipalities, states and pension funds to divest, not only from fossil fuel companies, but also from industrial agriculture corporations, and reinvest in organic and regenerative agriculture, to reach our goal of 50 percent organic and regenerative by 2025.

Lobby governments — local, state and federal — to move to zero fossil fuel emissions and support the International 4/1000 Initiative20 to sequester as much carbon in our soils and forests through regenerative farming, grazing and land use as humans are currently emitting.

Move beyond single-issue thinking ("my issue is more important than your issue") and silos and "connect the dots" between food and farming and all the burning issues: health, justice, poverty, climate change, environment, peace, forced migration, humane treatment of farm animals and democracy.

Work together to build a Movement of Movements powerful enough to bring about a revolution in food, farming and land use, not just in the U.S. but in all the nations of the world. Subscribe to the weekly online newsletter of the Organic Consumers Association by clicking here: Subscribe to Organic Bytes.

About the Author

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder and International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of the Regeneration International steering committee. Ronnie has been active as a writer and activist since the 1960s, with extensive experience in public education, grassroots mobilization, and marketplace pressure campaigns.

Over the past two decades he has served as director of US and international campaigns dealing with sustainable agriculture issues including food safety, genetic engineering, factory farming, and global warming.

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Why Colleges Hide the Truth


By Dr. Mercola

Decades of research show excess sugar damages your health, yet for many years the sugar industry was successful in burying the evidence and misdirecting the public.1,2 Industry-funded research is often bent on proving the efficacy of their product, in much the same way the sugar industry ensured their financial security by burying data demonstrating negative health effects.

One example is the anti-inflammatory medication Vioxx, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after research demonstrated it was “scientifically proven” for arthritis. Only after causing an estimated 60,000 deaths was the drug finally pulled from the market.3

“Scientifically proven” has become a catchphrase used in published studies and is one the public and physicians can easily misinterpret. Research studies and statistics can be set up to demonstrate a drug or food is safe based on the initial question asked at the start of the study. This allows the researchers to orchestrate the results, increasing the perception that science has proven a concept, while in reality the data have been heavily manipulated to support a preconceived objective.

When applied appropriately and executed in an unbiased and unprejudiced manner, the scientific method works. Unfortunately, in the case of many studies the research is not unbiased or unprejudiced, leading to selective results serving the agenda of the industry funding the study. This is a serious flaw that ultimately affects your health care and one the industries are fighting to keep secret.

Your Right to Know Stands in the Way of Industry Interests

Your food choices may be guided by recommendations from friends, physicians and even advertising. These recommendations may take the form of dietary guidelines, such as those emanating from the sugar industry, as they continually seek to shift blame for heart disease to fats. Food manufacturers may make claims, as do yogurt companies about your intestinal health. However, these recommendations often conflict with independent research.

In his work to achieve greater transparency, Gary Ruskin, organizer at the consumer health watchdog organization U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), continues his investigation into the connections between food industries, agrochemical companies and universities where research is performed.4 Acting on a hunch that interactions between these groups would reveal secrets, Ruskin filed multiple freedom of information act (FOIA) requests to receive public records crucial to uncovering details of interactions between these groups.

A number of his requests have produced documents exposing relationships between companies like Syngenta and Monsanto and universities, such as the University of Florida. Large agrochemical companies are fighting to keep these ties a secret, as they speak volumes about the research bias underlying many health recommendations today.

In an effort to complete his search of publicly-accessible records not released in the FOIA request, he filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida alleging they violated the Florida Sunshine Law.5

The Sunshine Law6 provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at the state and local levels to any gathering where two or more members of the same board discuss actions that may come before the board. In a press release discussing the lawsuit against the University of Florida, Ruskin states:7

“We are conducting an investigation of the food and agrochemical industries, their front groups and public relations operatives, their ties to universities, and the health risks of their products. The public has the right to know if and when taxpayer-funded universities and academics are collaborating with corporations to promote their products and viewpoints. We seek these records to learn more about the University of Florida's collaboration with the agrochemical industry.”

Legal Wranglings Deepen

While we may hope influence of the scope demonstrated by the sugar industry won't happen again, only transparency will alleviate this concern. It is apparent industries and universities have no desire to assure public health by opening their records to scrutiny. In an effort to squash the lawsuit against the University of Florida, Drew Kershen, retired University of Oklahoma professor who has served on the board of directors of companies with ties to Monsanto, argued these documents would violate his privacy.

The motion for summary judgment was denied. Subsequently, Kershen filed a discovery request in order to question Ruskin about why he wants the records in the first place.

Michael Morrissey, cofounder of MuckRock — a nonprofit collaborative news site for journalists, researchers, activists and citizens to request and share government documents8 — believes this line of questioning is concerning,9 because if the information is open to one person, it is open to everyone and it should not matter why the requester is asking for documentation.

Food Industry Uses Academics to Push Their Agenda

Links between the sugar industry and researchers, or between agrochemical companies and researchers, are not the only two associations the food industry has had as they seek to push their financially-driven agenda on the American people. USRTK maintains an investigation page on their website10 where findings are listed on topics such as Coca-Cola, glyphosate and Disney-funded food research. Journalists use this documentation in developing articles about manufacturers and industry giants.

For instance, an article in Forbes11 using data discovered by USRTK outlines the connection between Coca-Cola and researchers who compared diet soda to water and found sodas were healthier; a study where subjects switched from regular to diet soda to lose weight, and one which questioned the methodology in a study finding a link between soda and diabetes. Each of these studies came to a favorable conclusion for the Coca-Cola Co. and each were paid for, or financially supported by, Coca-Cola.

Universities are also involved in another hot button health concern: genetically modified foods. In 2015 The New York Times12 exposed University of Florida professor Kevin Folta as an industry-funded third-party expert on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Folta, who had vehemently denied ever receiving any money from Monsanto, was caught having been less than forthright about his conflicts of interest when his email correspondence with Monsanto was released in response to one of USRTK’s FOIA requests.

In response, Folta sued The New York Times,13 also filing a subpoena against Ruskin and two other employees, essentially demanding the organization produce over 100,000 documents. While FOIA public records are available under federal law, they reveal details of relationships between organizations and industries affecting public health. In a new diversionary strategy, private parties are attempting to prevent disclosure of documentation supporting their involvement, thus holding up the entire process.

Blocking Conflict of Interest Issues Requires Secure Safeguards

In an op-ed published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,14 Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, discusses the conflict of interest existing between the food industry and nutritional research, making several salient points.15 He notes:

  • National Institutes of Health funding has decreased by 22 percent in the decade leading to 2013, with only a small fraction of the budget supporting nutritional research.
  • At the same time total spending for research on nutrition across all federal agencies was approximately $1.5 billion per year, compared to $60 billion spent on drugs, biotechnology and medical devices.
  • Since a substantial burden of diet related diseases and scarce federal funding increases danger to the public, there must be greater alignment between public health and the mission of nutritional research in order projects do not exploit public good.
  • Industry sponsors should have no role in project design, implementation, analysis or interpretation of the data.
  • Funding must be transparent and fully acknowledged.

Universities Motivated to Protect Academics and Financial Associations

In documentation released from the University of Florida, Folta instructed Monsanto on how to avoid disclosing funding for his work by depositing money into the University's Special Help for Agricultural Research and Education (SHARE) contribution account.

Universities have strict conflict of interest rules in place, but the foundation can receive contributions and then issue money to the individual researcher’s program, thereby circumventing the conflict of interest rules. This loophole exists because the foundation operates as a separate, nonpublic entity.

Although it's in the best public health interest to avoid conflict of interests between those doing the research and those funding it, most donations to university foundations are granted a waiver for indirect costs, expenses necessary for the operation of the organization, such as salaries for accountants, but not associated with one particular department.

By being granted a waiver for indirect costs, corporations can essentially piggyback their donations onto students and taxpayers and simultaneously keep their funding hidden. As noted by the sponsored research administration at Florida State University:16

"It is important to remember that the inclusion of these charges results in the support of research efforts across the campus. To request waivers of negotiated and allowable charges means a decreased SRAD [Sponsored Research and Development Trust Fund] pool and a corresponding reduction in the research and creative activities that the university stimulates and supports."

Hidden Ties Influence Research Results and Your Health

Hidden ties between university researchers and industry affects your health care as biased research influences your physician’s decisions. Publication bias affects every field of medicine, and positive findings are twice as likely to be published as negative ones. Nearly half of the clinical trials by drug companies have not come to light in the past decade.

For example, prompted by trial litigation, researchers sifted through previous data determining the safety of the antidepressant drug Paxil, finding evidence contradicting the drug company’s claim that the drug was safe for teens.17 Former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell, believes the record may also be distorted by what is not said as much as what is published. She commented:18

"Any reputable journal is at the mercy of what is submitted to it and must choose from whatever comes over the transom. Many studies never see the light of day because their findings are negative. There is a heavy bias toward positive studies, and this negative bias is a real problem. A company may conduct 1,000 trials; if two are positive, they get FDA approval and are published. The other 998 never see the light of day."

Funding Significantly Influences Research Results

In an effort to assess the level of research bias in industry-funded studies, researchers analyzed 60 published studies that looked at the health effects of soda, examining potential links between funding sources and study outcomes.19 Essentially, what they wanted to know was whether negative studies (studies that failed to find an association between sugary beverages and obesity and diabetes) were more likely to have received industry funding than positive studies.

As suspected, of the 60 studies, 26 found no link between sugary drinks and obesity or diabetes and ALL were funded by the beverage industry. In the 34 studies where a relationship was found, only one had received industry funding. As noted by the researchers,20 "This industry seems to be manipulating contemporary scientific processes to create controversy and advance their business interests at the expense of the public's health."

Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest industry-funded “science” undermines public health while creating financial windfall for manufacturers. Until safeguards are instituted to eliminate the influence manufacturers have on scientific outcome, it will be important to evaluate the funding behind any recommendations you decide to take to heart.

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E-cigs Deliver Appalling Amounts of Heavy Metals


By Dr. Mercola

While the gradual demise of traditional cigarettes has been heralded as an achievement for better health, the dangers of the alternative many have chosen may be just as alarming. If you smoke e-cigarettes (e-cigs), it is important to know researchers have demonstrated you may be exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals and heavy metals with each puff.

It is currently believed that e-cigs do not expose you to the thousands of toxic compounds the average conventional combustion cigarette contains, but researchers are only beginning to understand the toxicities involved in smoking e-cigarettes. In some ways, these man-made tobacco alternatives are just as dangerous to your health as regular cigarettes, but may have different consequences.

Smoking traditional cigarettes harms nearly every organ in your body and triggers many different diseases, including many cancers, reduced lung function, chronic obstructive lung disease and coronary artery disease.1 Recent research published in Environmental Health Perspectives now demonstrates vapor and aerosol samples from e-cigarette liquid may release heavy metals dangerous to human health.2

Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Vapor From E-Cigarettes

The study was conducted by scientists at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They examined devices owned by 56 users, finding a significant number of them generated aerosol with unsafe levels of lead, nickel, chromium and manganese.3 Participants were recruited from vaping conventions and e-cigarette shops in the Baltimore area. The devices were brought to the laboratory where researchers tested for the presence of 15 metals.4

The results were consistent with past studies, finding a minimal amount of heavy metal in the e-liquid, but much larger amounts in the liquid that had been exposed to heating coils.5

This difference suggested the heavy metals were originating from the heating coils within the e-cigarette tank. Heavy metal concentrations were also higher in devices where the owners frequently change the coils. Of the different metals measured in the aerosol, lead, nickel, chromium and manganese were most concerning as they are highly toxic when inhaled.

Nearly 50 percent of the vapor samples had lead concentrations higher than limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).6 Concentrations of the other three metals either approached or exceeded safety limits set by the EPA.  Researchers observed the heating coils were made of nickel, chromium and several other metals, making this the most obvious source of contamination. However, the source of lead remained a mystery.

Inhaled lead can attack your brain and central nervous system, as well as your kidneys, liver and bones.7 In adults, lead may stay dormant in teeth and bones for years but may be reactivated during pregnancy. It can poison a developing baby and trigger brain damage. Also concerning was the amount of arsenic detected in the refill liquid and the tank in 10 of the 56 devices.

The researchers suggested it’s important for regulators to determine the cause for the presence of arsenic8 as it can trigger cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.9 Past studies have demonstrated e-cigs release higher levels of nickel, zinc and silver.10 The lead author of one study commented, "Some of these metals are extremely toxic even in very low amounts."11 The author added in a statement:12

"The metal particles likely come from the cartridge of the e-cigarette devices themselves — which opens up the possibility that better manufacturing standards for the devices could reduce the quantity of metals in the smoke. Studies of this kind are necessary for implementing effective regulatory measures. E-cigarettes are so new, there just isn't much research available on them yet."

Secondhand Aerosol Dangerous for Bystanders

E-cigarettes deliver nicotine and other chemicals using a heated liquid, but not combustion in the way traditional cigarettes function. Heat is created by a battery, creating an aerosol containing nicotine. As you inhale the vapor, you receive nicotine and flavor chemicals, experiencing the same effect from nicotine in cigarettes without the high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons associated with smoking traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes and vaping pens come in a variety of shapes and sizes but all deliver the same composition of chemicals. And, while the user inhales most of the vapor and aerosolized toxins, some of it also enters the environment to affect the health of bystanders. In a study from the University of Southern California,13 researchers conducted experiments in offices where volunteers had smoked traditional cigarettes and e-cigs.

Air sample analysis revealed smoking e-cigs resulted in a tenfold decrease in carcinogenic particulate matter, but toxic metals from e-cigarette secondhand smoke was much higher than regular cigarette smoke. Another study looked at the structure of e-cigarette devices, testing whether aerosolized metal was derived from the components.14 They found components were sometimes missing or had evidence of use before packaging. Elements identified in e-cig aerosol were known to cause respiratory disease.

Researchers also felt the presence of silicate particles found in the aerosol necessitated improved quality control in the design and manufacture of devices to protect the health of users and bystanders.

Bystanders may be lulled into a false sense of security as the vapor from e-cigs often has little to no scent and appears to dissipate quickly. However, research from the University of California San Francisco15 demonstrates e-cigs pollute the air with nicotine and fine particulate matter that is easily absorbed by bystanders through inhalation.

Despite the lower levels of nicotine pollution e-cigs produce, researchers found people exposed to e-cigarette air pollution have a similar level of cotinine — a measure of the amount of nicotine taken into the body — as those exposed to traditional secondhand cigarette smoke.16 The reason for this discrepancy remains unclear.

Highly Reactive Free Radicals Cause Damage

In a study commissioned by Japan's Health Ministry, researchers found acetaldehyde and formaldehyde in the vapor produced by several types of e-cig devices.17 At least one brand had more than 10 times the level of carcinogens found in a traditional cigarette. Researchers from the University of Louisville18 conducted quantitative analysis on older and newer model cartridges.

The older models had a fixed battery output while the next generation devices had a variable output, allowing the user to increase heat produced by the battery. Emissions of aldehydes from all the devices, both new and older, created a health risk for the user and bystander.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has detected the antifreeze chemical diethylene glycol in e-cigarette cartridges, which is linked to cancer.19 According to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, secondhand smoke from e-cigs may contain at least 10 chemicals that have been identified on California's proposition 65 list of reproductive toxins and carcinogens.20

Diacetyl is an artificial flavor used by popcorn makers21 to add a buttery taste to microwave popcorn. The chemical is linked to respiratory damage22 and permanent scarring of the airway, aptly named “popcorn lung.” In an evaluation of 51 e-cigarette flavors on the market, Harvard researchers found 47 of the 51 contained flavoring chemicals, including diacetyl.23 The chemical was detected in more than those flavors sounding “buttery,” including fruit-flavored, alcohol-flavored and candy-flavored e-cigarettes.

Aerosol released by e-cig devices has been analyzed and found to have the presence of highly reactive free radicals.24 In traditional cigarette smoke, these highly reactive free radicals are associated with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease. The researchers found e-cig levels were more than you may be exposed to in heavily polluted air, but less than what you find in traditional cigarette smoke.

Decline of Vaping May Be Threatened

The first recorded instance of an e-cigarette device was in 1963 when Herbert Gilbert filed a patent on his design.25 The idea did not become popular at the time and it wasn't until 2003 when a Chinese pharmacist revolutionized the design enabling smokers to inhale nicotine without combustion.

Today, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in America.26 Nearly 40 million adults smoke cigarettes and 4.7 million middle and high school students have used at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)27 state e-cigarettes contain potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, flavorings, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. Nicotine is the addictive substance and is a known toxin to developing babies. Exposure harms adolescent brain development until your early to mid-20s.

In 2014, smoking among high school students had declined, but use of e-cigs had increased. Fortunately, according to a 2017 survey by the CDC,28 the number of students using e-cigs has steadily declined since 2014. The CDC attributes the decline to a combination of tobacco restrictions, taxes and advertising.

While these strategies have demonstrated success, the American Lung Association believes budget cuts proposed by President Trump, which will eliminate the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, will threaten this progress. American Lung Association CEO Harold Wimmer told NBC news:29

“Funding to states would also be severely cut, making it even harder to prevent and reduce tobacco use in local communities across the country. Congress must reconsider this ill-advised budget and robustly fund the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.”

Matthew Myers, president for the campaign for tobacco-free kids, agrees, saying:30

“The dramatic, long-term decline in youth cigarette smoking is a public health success story of extraordinary importance. Our progress stems directly from implementing proven strategies, including higher tobacco taxes, comprehensive smoke-free laws, effective FDA oversight of tobacco products and marketing, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and hard-hitting media campaigns, like the campaigns conducted by the CDC, the FDA and Truth Initiative in recent years. In addition, California, Hawaii and over 245 cities and counties have now raised the tobacco sale age to 21.”

How To Make Quitting Smoking Easier

I believe the "secret" to quitting smoking is to get healthy first, which will make quitting mentally and physically easier. Exercising is an important part of this plan, as research shows people who engage in regular strength training double their success rate at quitting smoking compared to those who don't exercise.31 Healthy eating is another crucial factor to improving your health and strengthening your ability to quit. In short, if you want to quit, here are three basic tips to get started:

  • Read through my comprehensive free nutrition plan to get started eating right.
  • Develop a well-rounded exercise regimen. This is your ally to fighting disease and to quitting smoking. Strength training is an important part, but also remember to incorporate high-intensity interval exercises, core-strengthening exercises, stretching and regular nonexercise movement (like walking and cutting back on sitting).
  • Find a healthy emotional outlet. Many use exercise, meditation or relaxation techniques for this, and these are all great. I also recommend incorporating Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). This can help clear out emotional blockages from your system (some of which you might not even realize are there), thus restoring your mind and body's balance and helping you break the addiction and avoid cravings.

Once you are regularly doing these three things, then you can begin to think about quitting smoking. At this point many are ready to try quitting "cold turkey." If you need a distraction, these six things to do instead of smoking may help. Finally, if you're a parent, talk with your children about the risks of smoking, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes. The easiest pathway to not smoking is to avoid starting in the first place.

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The Big Bad Flu Data — What You Need to Know About Vaccine Effectiveness and Alternatives


By Dr. Mercola

How effective is the flu vaccine, and will getting vaccinated reduce the severity of your illness even if the vaccine is a poor match to circulating influenza virus strains? While public health officials insist vaccination is the best way to prevent the seasonal flu, the evidence calls this assumption into question, and most health care professionals won’t even get the flu shot if it’s voluntary.1

In its 2014 meta-analysis2 of the available research on inactivated influenza vaccines, the Cochrane Collaboration (which is considered by many as the gold-standard for scientific meta-reviews), reviewed evidence related to influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) that people experience during flu seasons and stated:

“Over 200 viruses cause ILI, which produces the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches, pains, cough and runny nose) as influenza. Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot distinguish between ILI and influenza because both last for days and rarely cause serious illness or death. The types of virus contained in influenza vaccines are usually those that are expected to circulate in the following influenza seasons, according to recommendations of the World Health Organization (seasonal vaccine).”

The Cochrane researchers concluded that:

“Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza and ILI (moderate-certainty evidence), as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case, and 29 would need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of ILI. Vaccination may have little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations (low-certainty evidence) or number of working days lost.”

If 71 people have to be vaccinated in order for a single case of influenza to be avoided, this means that flu shots have a rather abysmal effectiveness rating. And it isn’t surprising that flu shots have “little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations or number of working days lost,” considering its ineffectiveness at preventing illness. Similarly, while many assert that getting vaccinated will render flu symptoms less severe — should it fail to protect you after all — there’s really no good evidence for this either.

Interim Estimates of Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Are In

On February 16, the CDC published interim estimates of the 2017/2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s effectiveness for the U.S.3 Based on data from 4,562 children and adults enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network between November 2, 2017 and February 3, 2018, the CDC reports the overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against “influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness” was 36 percent. More precisely, vaccine effectiveness is estimated to be:

  • 25 percent effective against the A(H3N2) virus
  • 67 percent effective against A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses
  • 42 percent effective against influenza B viruses

In 2015, a CDC analysis4 revealed that, between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time, so this year’s low effectiveness rating (36 percent) comes as no great surprise. However, there’s a significant problem with how this effectiveness rating is attained. As in previous years, the 4,562 individuals upon which this statistic is derived were all diagnosed with an acute respiratory illness. No healthy people were included.

To be eligible for inclusion, they had to have developed an acute respiratory infection with cough at least seven days prior to admittance. They also could not have been treated with antiviral medication. Participants were interviewed about their health status, symptoms, and flu vaccination status.

Swabs were taken to identify the virus responsible for the infection. In all, 38 percent of subjects tested positive for influenza virus (the rest had respiratory symptoms that looked like influenza but were actually caused by other types of viruses or bacteria).

The percentage of patients who were vaccinated ranged between 45 and 59 percent, depending on which of the five study sites they belonged to. Of those who tested positive for influenza, 43 percent had received the 2017/2018 seasonal flu vaccine. Of those whose illness was related to another type of viral or bacterial organism, 53 percent had been vaccinated against seasonal influenza.

Ironically, CDC officials continue to “recommend influenza vaccination because the vaccine can still prevent some infections with currently circulating influenza viruses,”5 completely ignoring that simple vitamin D supplementation has greater efficacy and none of the risks associated with flu shots.

If preventing “some” infections is good enough for vaccines, why isn’t preventing more of them with vitamin D a viable alternative? I’ll discuss this further toward the end of this article, as research clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of vitamin D when it comes to prevention of illness during the flu season.

Does Vaccination Really Lessen Flu Symptoms?

While health officials are fond of saying that getting a flu shot will lessen your symptoms should you contract influenza, French researchers disagree, noting that “very few studies have addressed the question of whether the vaccine mitigates influenza severity among those who develop the illness despite being vaccinated.”

Vaccine researchers in France decided to test the hypothesis by looking at data from vaccinated and unvaccinated elderly patients diagnosed with influenza. The results were published in April 2017.6 What they found was a rather insignificant lessening of symptoms, limited to a reduction in initial headache complaints among those who had been vaccinated:

“Compared to non-vaccinated influenza patients, those who had been vaccinated had a slightly reduced maximum temperature and presented less frequently with myalgia, shivering and headache. In stratified analyses, the observed effect was limited to patients infected with A(H3) or type B viruses. After adjusting by age group, virus (sub)type and season, the difference remained statistically significant only for headache, which was less frequent among vaccinated individuals.”

How and Why the Flu Shot Might Make You More Susceptible to the Flu

Not only is substantial scientific evidence for symptom alleviation lacking, there’s reason to suspect influenza vaccine may actually have the ability to make you more vulnerable to infection, and there are plenty of anecdotal reports that for some people it can be more severe than infection acquired from exposure to influenza viruses in the environment.

In a September 2017 Medium article,7 Andre Angelantoni counters claims made by Carol Lynn Curchoe, Ph.D., who in an earlier article8 stated that “Getting the flu shot ‘primes’ your body to recognize and fight all strains of the flu.” This, apparently, has become a commonly accepted myth, even among some health professionals but, as explained by Angelantoni, the vaccines don’t work that way:

“[Your] immune system is being programmed by the flu shot making it ready for the exact strains in the shot. It does not protect against other strains but instead opens you up to other flu strains and infection from other pathogens. It’s called heterologous immunity … an extension of basic immunology. 

After all … Prevnar is superseded by Synflorix and Prevnar 13 because the body was not ‘primed’ to handle all strains of pneumococcus. It’s not clear where [Curchoe] got the idea that the flu vaccine has this magical ability that other vaccines do not and [she] provide[s] no reference for [her] assertion; it appears to be a completely made up ‘fact.’”

Heterologous Immunity and Directional Programming of Your Immune System

Angelantoni goes on to cite research I’ve covered on a number of occasions, such as the 2010 Canadian study9 that found people who were vaccinated against seasonal influenza were more susceptible to the pandemic H1N1 strain; the 2014 ferret study10 in which these effects were replicated; as well as a 2012 Chinese study11 that found a child’s chances of contracting a respiratory infection after getting the seasonal flu shot rose more than fourfold.

“Heterologous immunity roughly means ‘unequal immunity’ and it’s the concept that the immune system is programmed in a directional way,” Angelantoni writes. “This can sometimes work in the body’s favor if a subsequent antigen is similar enough to the one for which antibodies have just been made.

In this case, the directionality means that the body is already prepared to some degree because it has encountered a pathogen ‘similar enough’ to the new one. However, often it works against the body, too, as in the case of the flu vaccines. The body learns how to protect against the strains given in the shot and thereby — by design — becomes less able to handle other strains and other invaders.”

As noted in a 2014 paper on heterologous immunity:12

“Immunity to previously encountered viruses can alter responses to unrelated pathogens … Heterologous immunity … may be beneficial by boosting protective responses. However, heterologous reactivity can also result in severe immunopathology. The key features that define heterologous immune modulation include alterations in the CD4 and CD8 T cell compartments and changes in viral dynamics and disease progression.”

In other words, while influenza vaccine may offer some level of protection against the three or four viral strains included in the vaccine, depending on whether the vaccine used is trivalent or quadrivalent, it may simultaneously diminish your ability to ward off infection by other influenza strains and other types of viral or bacterial infections.

Heterologous immunity is also addressed in a 2013 paper,13 which notes that “vaccines modulate general resistance,” and “have nonspecific effects on the ability of the immune system to handle other pathogens.” It also states that:

“… [O]ur current perception of the immune system is … simplistic. It was, to a large extent, shaped in the 1950s with the formulation of the clonal selection hypothesis. This line of thinking has emphasized the adaptive immune system and the specific antigen recognition and specific memory, which have been crucial in vaccine development, perhaps at the expense of examining cross-reactive features of the immune system as well as the memory capacity of the innate immune system.

Although tens of thousands of studies assessing disease-specific, antibody-inducing effects of vaccines have been conducted, most people have not examined whether vaccines have nonspecific effects because current perception excludes such effects.”

Poor Immune Response Blamed for Low Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

Poor influenza vaccine effectiveness is often blamed on viral mutations occurring while the selected influenza viruses are grown in the lab but, according to a team of researchers from the University of Chicago and Harvard University, poor immune responses in individuals appear to be a more likely reason. In their study,14 the flu vaccine failed to elicit a strong immune response in most participants. As explained in the press release:15

“What’s at play seems to be a phenomenon known as ‘original antigenic sin.’ Flu vaccines are designed to get the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the specific strains of the virus someone may encounter in a given year. These antibodies target unique sites on the virus, and latch onto them to disable it.

Once the immune system already has antibodies to target a given site on the virus, it preferentially reactivates the same immune cells the next time it encounters the virus. This is efficient for the immune system, but the problem is that the virus changes ever so slightly from year to year. The site the antibodies recognize could still be there, but it may no longer be the crucial one to neutralize the virus.

Antibodies produced from our first encounters with the flu, either from vaccines or infection, tend to take precedence over ones generated by later inoculations. So even when the vaccine is a good match for a given year, if someone has a history with the flu, the immune response to a new vaccine could be less protective.”

Philip Morris to Produce Next GMO Flu Vaccine Grown in Tobacco Plant

The fact that most flu vaccine viruses are grown in eggs, which allows the influenza virus to mutate ever so slightly, does contribute to mismatches between the vaccine and the most prevalent circulating influenza A and B strains in a given flu season, however. In a study published last year, egg adaptations were found to have caused mismatches in the most commonly used influenza vaccine during the 2016/2017 season. It may be a factor in this year’s low vaccine efficacy rating as well.

Some flu vaccine manufacturers are now starting to switch to vaccine strain viruses grown without eggs, using either genetically modified insect cells or canine kidney cells. The Canadian biotech company Medicago — owned by Philip Morris and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma — has also begun stage 3 clinical trials on a genetically engineered flu vaccine manufactured in Nicotiana benthamiana, a type of tobacco plant known for its ability to make proteins at a high rate of speed.16

Medicago is also using “virus-like particles” in lieu of inactivated influenza viruses. The particles have “the structure of the influenza virus but not its full genetic code.”

The company theorizes that these virus-like particles will “mobilize special immune cells to eliminate flu-infected cells, regardless of the subtype they may have mutated into.” This combination of factors allows Medicago to produce a vaccine in as little as six weeks, compared to the six months it normally takes to produce an egg-based vaccine.

As reported by Forbes,17 “The vaccine is produced by introducing genetic material from the flu virus into the plants, which are then incubated for four to 10 days. The plants act like mini-bioreactors, producing the [virus-like particles] in their leaves.”

Optimizing Vitamin D Effective During Flu Season

One can only speculate, at this point, what the side effects of injecting a genetically engineered tobacco plant-based flu vaccine into your body might be. Fortunately, you don’t have to pin your hopes on such developments — studies have repeatedly demonstrated the excellent track record of vitamin D for preventing respiratory infections. Most recently, a 2017 scientific review18,19 of 25 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin D supplementation cuts rates of acute respiratory infections among all participants.  

The studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries, and showed that people who regularly took vitamin D supplements were less likely to contract acute respiratory tract infections compared to those who did not take supplemental vitamin D. Those with blood levels below 10 ng/mL, which is a serious deficiency state, cut their risk of infection by half.

People with higher vitamin D levels reduced their risk by about 10 percent. According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.20 Another statistic showing vitamin D is a very effective strategy in preventing respiratory illness during the flu season is the NNT.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Cochrane Collaboration concluded in 2014 that the NNT for the flu vaccine is 71. In this 2017 respiratory infection study, the NNT for vitamin D was 33, meaning one person would be spared from acute respiratory infection for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement.

Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. If you’re going to gamble, which odds would you rather have — a 1 in 71 chance of being protected against respiratory infection, or a 1 in 33 chance (or 1 in 4 should you be severely vitamin D deficient)? In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available.

Tamiflu or Quercetin?

Should you or your child get sick and a doctor or pediatrician recommends Tamiflu,21 please understand that this antiviral drug shortens the duration of flu symptoms by less than 17 hours.22,23 It also does not reduce viral transmission and does not lower your risk of complications, such as pneumonia.24,25

Some scientists have also warned that Tamiflu’s serious risks outweigh the benefits.26 These risks include convulsions, brain infections, psychosis and  other neuropsychiatric problems.27,28 The drug is particularly risky for children, and more than half of all children taking Tamiflu suffer side effects from the drug.29,30

Considering Tamiflu’s risks and limited effectiveness, quercetin is safe and effective. Quercetin, a plant flavonol found naturally in apples, plums, red grapes, green tea, elder flower and onions, packs a powerful antiviral punch.31 Some of its mechanisms of action include inhibiting the ability of viruses to infect cells and inhibiting replication of already infected cells. A number of studies have confirmed quercetin’s effectiveness against viral infections, including the following:

A 1985 study found quercetin inhibits infectivity and replication of herpes simplex virus type 1, polio-virus type 1, parainfluenza virus type 3 and respiratory syncytial virus.32

A 2010 animal study found that quercetin inhibits both influenza A and B viruses. Two other important discoveries were made. Firstly, the viruses were unable to develop resistance to quercetin and, secondly, when used concomitant with antiviral drugs (amantadine or oseltamivir), the effect was significantly amplified — and it prevented drug-resistance from developing.33

A 2004 animal study investigating quercetin’s effect on influenza used a strain of the H3N2 virus. According to the authors:34

“In the mice, instillation of influenza virus A/Udorn/317/72(H3N2) intranasally resulted in a significant decrease in the pulmonary concentrations of catalase, reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase … These effects were observed on the 5th day after viral instillation.

Oral supplementation with quercetin simultaneous with viral instillation produced significant increases in the pulmonary concentrations of catalase, reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase … 

It is concluded that during influenza virus infection, there is ‘oxidative stress.’ Because quercetin restored the concentrations of many antioxidants, it is proposed that it may be useful as a drug in protecting the lung from the deleterious effects of oxygen derived free radicals released during influenza virus infection.”

In 2014, researchers noted that quercetin appears to be “a promising treatment for the common cold,” caused by the rhinovirus, adding that “Quercetin has been shown to reduce viral internalization and replication in vitro, and viral load, lung inflammation and airways hyper-responsiveness in vivo.”35

By attenuating oxidative damage, it also lowers your risk of secondary bacterial infections, which is actually the primary cause of influenza-related deaths. Importantly, quercetin increases mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle, which suggests part of its antiviral effects are due to enhanced mitochondrial antiviral signaling.

A 2016 study found quercetin offered protection against influenza A virus H1N1 by modulating protein expression. More specifically, the regulation of heat shock proteins, fibronectin 1 and prohibitin was instrumental in reducing viral replication.36

A second study published in 2016 found quercetin inhibited a wide spectrum of influenza strains, including H1N1, H3N2 and H5N1. According to the authors, “This study indicates that quercetin showing inhibitory activity in the early stage of influenza infection provides a future therapeutic option to develop effective, safe and affordable natural products for the treatment and prophylaxis of [influenza A viruses] infections.”37

Prevention of Respiratory Infections Shouldn’t Be so Risky

Aside from vitamin D and quercetin, maintaining good levels of vitamins B1 and C may go a long way toward keeping you healthy through the flu season and beyond. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,38 and vitamin C also boosts the effectiveness of quercetin. Taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

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Fight Crime With Gardens


By Dr. Mercola

In U.S. cities, about 15 percent of land sits unused, vacant or abandoned. These spaces, which translate to an area the size of Switzerland, are associated with increased crime and stress to residents, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Plots of land with low-lying trees and shrubs, for instance, have been associated with a greater fear of crime, researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), as the vegetation may hide potential attackers and illegal activity.1

Vacant lots that have been cleaned up or "greened" seem to have the opposite effect and are linked with greater feelings of personal safety and lower levels of violence and crime.

Charles Branas, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, and colleagues decided to find out where vacant land restoration could have a citywide impact on crime and resident well-being, so they worked with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development to clean up hundreds of vacant lots in Philadelphia.

'Greening' Vacant Lots Reduces Crime and Violence, Increases Feelings of Safety

The researchers specifically chose interventions that were inexpensive, scalable and sustainable, such that one day they could be applied to other U.S. cities. The main intervention involved removing trash and debris from the lots, grading the land, planting grass and trees to create a park-like setting and installing a low wooden fence around the perimeter to signal that the lot was being cared for.

The cost for the intervention averaged about $5 per square meter (3.8 miles) with upkeep coming in at about 50 cents per square meter. The lots were regularly maintained throughout the study period. Another set of lots received a second intervention, which consisted of cleaning the lots of trash and debris and maintaining the cleaning for the duration of the study. A third set of control lots, which received no attention, was also included. A total of 541 lots were involved in the study.

Outcomes were measured over three years via police reports of crime and nuisance as well as surveys of 445 nearby residents. "We tested the effects of these interventions on the commission of violence and crime, as well as perceptions of fear and safety among individual study participants, at a citywide level," the researchers wrote.2

Significant benefits were reported due to the greened lots, including a significant reduction in gun violence, burglaries and nuisances, with the latter two falling by 22 percent and 30 percent respectively.

Further, in neighborhoods below the poverty line, the transformed lots reduced overall crime by more than 13 percent and gun violence by nearly 30 percent.3 Residents also reported significant benefits, including feeling 58 percent less fearful of going outside due to safety concerns. A 76 percent increase in their use of outside spaces was also reported. According to the study:4

"[S]tructural dilapidation and blight can be key causes of negative outcomes in terms of people's safety, both their perceptions of safety and their actual, physical safety. When left untreated, vacant and blighted urban spaces contribute to increased violence and fear. The physical components of neglected and impoverished urban environments can be changed in inexpensive and sustainable ways as a direct treatment strategy for violence and fear in cities.

Restoration of vacant spaces using well-delineated interventions … is a scalable and politically acceptable strategy that can significantly and sustainably reduce persistent urban problems like gun violence."

Gardens Not Only Prevent Crimes but Are Good for Rehab Too

As any avid gardener knows, there’s something intrinsically soothing about getting outside and putting your hands in the dirt. Such productive stress relief, then, would seem to be a natural match for prison systems looking to rehabilitate prisoners while also providing a valuable product: food. Prior to the 1970s, many prisons, including Alcatraz, had gardens. Then came an era when, as The Washington Post put it, “lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key justice took hold."5

Gardens in prisons disappeared, along with their many profound, yet little-recognized, benefits. Preliminary research in California prisons suggests that among prisoners who participated in gardening programs, less than 10 percent returned to prison.6 Typically, more than 60 percent will be sent back to prison after committing new crimes or violating parole,7 so the simplistic act of gardening seemed to have a significant effect in keeping people out of prison.

That amounts to an approximate savings of $40 million to the state and taxpayers based on the average state cost to incarcerate someone at $47,421, according to the Insight Garden Program (IGP), which helps U.S. prisons establish gardens.8 IGP director Beth Waitkus told the Post, "The demand is huge … Prisons see the value of this. When you have to tend to a living thing, there's a shift that happens in a person."9

Some prison garden programs use their harvests to feed inmates, both saving money and adding to the quality and taste of the food. Others donate food to low-income areas, allowing prisoners to give back to areas where many of them were raised. Still other prison gardens generate so much food that they're even able to donate to churches, nursing homes and schools.

Gardens Lead to Transformations

Gardens have the power to not only transform physical spaces but also the people who tend to them. San Quentin State Prison in California is among those participating in the IGP. Research suggests that prison gardens and other environmental programming "contribute profoundly toward transformative values re-identification, which is integral to a rehabilitative experience that inspires lasting change."10

In addition, for people who are incarcerated and facing personal crisis, gardening improved the sense of personal control along with deepened environmental understanding. IGP also reported on Waitkus' master thesis, which looked at the effects of a garden on the physical environment and social climate of the prison yard at San Quentin State Prison. The following benefits were noted:11

  • The garden was the only place where different races could congregate and work in teams without fear of violence from others
  • Gardens invited attention, use and refuge
  • Being in or near a garden reduced stress
  • Gardeners gained benefits from directly working with nature, creating the possibility for hope and further change

Spending time in nature to nurture plants gives people in prisons a chance to learn new information, perform complex tasks and problem solve,12 while at the same time offering mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits. Researchers wrote in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine that interacting with nature positively affects multiple dimensions of human health:13

"Physiological effects of stress on the autonomic nervous system are lessened. Psychologically, deficits in attention can be restored or minimized, and people report feeling greater satisfaction with a variety of aspects of life.

The presence of the natural world promotes social health by encouraging positive social interaction and lessening the frequency of aggressive behavior. Spiritual well-being is enhanced through the experience of greater interconnectedness, which occurs when interacting with the natural world."

IGP has since expanded, operating in eight prisons in California as well as facilities in Indiana and a re-entry program for people leaving New York facilities. One graduate of the program, a man named Julius, credits IGP with making him a better person:14

"Now that I'm out, I'm more active in the community and in work. When the garden is planted, and the work is done, and the vegetables grow, it brings a lot of people together. That's the way community grows … Learning about different plants and herbs inspired me. There were a lot of herbs that I didn't know about. Plants can help you a lot. There's actually stuff you can grow that can cure the problem.

Knowing that it is actually good for the body, I try to eat healthier and set a good example for others in my community. I was going through a rough time in my life, and IGP helped pull me out of anger issues. I'm more caring than I was in the past. When I'm having problems or having a bad time, I take some time to meditate and try not to stress about it."

Sustainability in Prisons Project Helps Build Healthy Communities

Another example of how prisons are connecting with nature — with stellar results — is the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), a partnership founded by the Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections. The program offers science, sustainability and environmental education programs in all 12 Washington state prisons, leading to such impressive outcomes as:15

  • Growing about 492,000 pounds of produce for food banks and prison kitchens in one growing season
  • Raising and releasing more than 13,000 caterpillars and adult butterflies onto lowland prairies as part of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly program
  • More than 1,100 students have graduated from a 50-hour environmental course in preparation for environmental careers, resource savings and positive community involvement
  • Since 2009, more than 2 million rare and endangered species were grown and delivered to lowland prairies as part of the program's prairie conservation nurseries

SPP has more than 180 programs in all, from beekeeping and worm composting to land restoration and plant and animal habitat. Many former SPP participants report forming "environmental identities" that last after they're released. Participants have, for example, pursued environmental education and environmental careers as well as shared what they learned with their families and communities.16

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Prison System (PSS) also operates a composting program that keeps 685 tons of food waste out of landfills every year, turning it into compost instead. The program also saves Philadelphia $40,000 a year in landfill costs.17 PSS built a composting facility via a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and now creates so much "black gold" that they give it away to the community for free.

There’s also the Philadelphia Prison Orchard Project, which got its start from a donation of 200 fruit trees. The prison-created compost is used to fertilize the orchard, and inmates are able to work in both areas. PPS has partnered with Temple University and inmates can earn a vocational certificate in organic farming after completing the program.

Reaping the Benefits of Gardening in Your Own Backyard

Prisoners are only one population that stands to benefit from gardening. Benefits have also been revealed for older adults. In those who are institutionalized, gardening promotes an “internal locus of control and well-being,” similar to what is experienced by prison inmates. A decrease in sadness and anxiety was noted among institutionalized older adults who gardened, while in general gardening by older adults is linked to:18

  • Feelings of accomplishment
  • Well-being and peace
  • A decrease in depressive symptoms
  • A protective effect on cognitive functions
  • The development of social links

Gardening has also been shown to increase fruit and vegetable intake among school-aged children,19 while offering benefits for veterans, including lower cortisol levels, improvements in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and greater quality of life.20

A study in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports also concluded, "A regular dose of gardening can improve public health," noting that gardening is associated with reductions in depression and anxiety and increases in life satisfaction, quality of life and sense of community.21 There's even research showing that people with chronic pain had significant reductions in anxiety, depression and fatigue, and an increase in the ability to manage their pain — all from therapeutic vegetable gardening.22

Of course, growing your own vegetables and fruits is also one of the best ways to ensure ready access to fresh, nutrient-dense and chemical-free food, which is one of the most compelling reasons of all to try gardening. If you’re ready to get started, here are 10 DIY gardening hacks to help you create the perfect garden.

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Doctor Wants to ‘Snuff Out’ Pharmaceutical Skeptics


By Dr. Mercola

In the vaccination debate, what happens all too often is notan open, scientifically based discussion but, rather, inappropriate name-calling and threats. It has been suggested by doctors and attorneys promoting forced vaccination policies that experienced and enlightened physicians who question vaccine safety be stripped of their medical licenses, that parents who oppose vaccine mandates be imprisoned and that online discussions of vaccine risks and failures be censored.

It's also not unusual for doctors to criticize, belittle or refuse to see children whose parents question the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has taken this to another level entirely, going so far as to bully parents of vaccine-injured children and classify the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) as a "hate group."

"[Anti-vaccine organizations] camouflage themselves as a political group, but I call them for what they really are: a hate group," Hotez told Duke University's The Chronicle. "They are a hate group that hates [our] family and hates [our] children."1 Yet, as explained by Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC president and cofounder:2

"In the 21st century, the term 'hate group' is most frequently used to describe groups of individuals associated with 'hate crimes,' which are defined by state laws and include threats, harassment or physical harm. Hate crimes are motivated by prejudice against someone's race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability …

A child health advocacy group that points out vaccine science research gaps, criticizes paternalism in medical practice and challenges the use of utilitarianism as the moral foundation for public health policy does not qualify as a 'hate group.'"

Hotez Bullies Parents of Vaccine-Injured Children

In a global health lecture at Duke University, Hotez called on scientists to "engage the public" to counter the "anti-vaccine movement," which he blamed as a key cause of preventable deaths. He said the movement had been propelled by "anti-vaccine websites" like, which is, unquestionably, the best resource for accessing referenced information on U.S. vaccine policy and law and the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

"The article reported that Hotez castigated politicians from the 'peace, love, granola' political left, who believe that 'we have to be careful what we put into our kid's bodies,' and politicians from the political right, who tell doctors like him 'you can't tell us what to do with our kids,'" Fisher said, adding:3

"But Dr. Hotez reserved the bulk of his venom for parents of vaccine-injured children. Like a schoolyard bully who engages in name calling when he can't come up with anything intelligent to say, he slapped the label 'anti-vaccine' onto parents of vaccine-injured children speaking about what happened to their children after vaccination."

Hotez, by the way, is a vaccine developer, a former president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. And this isn't the first time he's criticized those who favor vaccine choice and safety. He's gone so far as to say that the movement calling for increased scientific study into vaccine efficacy and risks, and calling for protection of informed consent, should be "snuffed out," i.e., crushed or killed. As noted by The Vaccine Reaction, published by NVIC:4

"In March [2017] … Scientific American published an article by Peter Hotez, M.D., of Texas Children's Hospital, also inciting violence against people who do not agree with current government vaccine policies. Dr. Hotez stated: 'An American anti-vaccine movement is building and we need to take steps now to snuff it out.'"

In 2015, USA Today published a column by Alex Berezow advocating that "anti-vax" parents should be imprisoned. At the time that seemedto be a draconian proposal, but certainly less so compared to today's calls by vaccine developers and forced vaccination proponents like Hotez, who use violent imagery to suggest violent suppression of people who object to one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and advocate for the human right to informed consent.

Further, Hotez also serves as a director on the board of The Immunization Partnership (TIP), a Texas-based coalition that supports the universal use of vaccines, electronic vaccine-tracking registries and mandatory vaccination laws.

"During the 2017 legislative session in Texas, TIP representatives directly gave testimony and lobbied for bills that would make it harder for families to decline vaccines or choose to vaccinate their children using a schedule that differs from the CDC's recommended schedule," the NVIC advocacy team explained last fall during Vaccine Awareness Week .

A 'One-Size-Fits-All' Vaccine Policy Isn't Right for Everyone

No matter where you stand in the vaccination debate, most would agree that in the case of medical care, one size does not fit all. What works for your child (or yourself) may not work for your neighbor's, but in the case of vaccinations they're prescribed exactly the same for every child. Today we know, however, that some children, like those with mitochondrial disorders, are at increased risk from vaccinations. Others are as well.

For instance, Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of "Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History," is a nephrologist who has committed the latter part of her medical career to exposing the truth of vaccinations. She was accustomed to giving vaccinations to her patients with kidney disease, including those on dialysis, until she realized that hospital patients were experiencing worsening kidney function and kidney failure after being vaccinated.

Initially Dr. Humphries thought these may have been anomalies or unfortunate coincidences, but as the number of cases continued to rise, even in those who were previously healthy with no known medical problems, the association became too great to ignore. She uncovered a link between the aluminum adjuvant and mercury in many vaccines and health damage.

For genetic or biological reasons that we don't yet understand, some people appear predisposed to poor aluminum detoxification, so aluminum accumulates in their tissues and leads to myalgias, fatigue, cognitive deficiencies and other health problems. Aluminum is also known to be toxic to kidney patients on dialysis, which is why the water used for this processed is carefully screened to be sure its aluminum free (as well as free of other toxins).

In addition to aluminum being toxic for some people who are chronically ill, there are also questions as to whether it's safe to vaccinate babies with aluminum-containing vaccines. When aluminum, for instance, is injected into the body, it's known to disrupt enzymes, cross the blood-brain barrier, bind to DNA and act as a gene disrupter and act as a cell signaling and membrane toxin. As Humphries said:

"We're very careful as nephrologists when treating babies because the kidney functions of babies isn't the same as adults — it's vastly reduced. But when it comes to vaccines, this reduced kidney function in infants is always left out of the discussion."

More Research Is Urgently Needed to Uncover Vaccine Safety or Lack Thereof

In 2013, a JAMA Pediatrics study evaluated aluminum levels in 2-month-old infants following the administration of three vaccines at once, which is given per usual according to the infant vaccine schedule. This exposes the child to 1,200 micrograms of aluminum. Urine and blood were collected, but no significant changes in levels of aluminum were seen after vaccination.5 The researchers described the finding as "reassuring," but as Humphries noted, where did the aluminum go?

If it wasn't excreted and blood levels didn't rise, it means it was retained in tissues. Despite this, infants are routinely vaccinated without regard for their immature kidney function. According to Humphries, "Aluminum is also injected into many babies on the day of birth in the hepatitis B vaccine.

That's 250 micrograms of aluminum at a time when kidney function is even lower than it is at 2 months." The fact remains that studies are urgently needed to determine if vaccines are safe for sick people, babies and in many other special cases. Further, you can see, then, how vaccine mandates may turn out to be health disasters for some people.

"The doctors operating the mandatory vaccination system with an iron fist, who refuse to acknowledge or address the suffering of people for whom the risks of vaccination turned out to be 100 percent," Fisher stated, "would do well to reflect upon the primary role they have played in the crisis of public trust in the safety of vaccines and doctors forcing everyone to use them."6

Indeed, trying to get unbiased, truthful information about vaccines is not easy, and the cards are very much stacked against you receiving the truth, especially when those who dare to question vaccine safety are often ridiculed or threatened.

Yet burning questions exist, like why aren't efforts being made to identify children who may be at increased risk of vaccine side effects in order to prevent any unnecessary harm? An individual's response to a vaccine is actually influenced by manyfactors. For instance, an individual's gut microbes may help determine their immune response to vaccines.

Infants that responded to the rotavirus vaccine had a higher diversity of microbes in their gut, as well as more microbes from the Proteobacteria group, than infants who did not mount the expected immune response.7

Epigenetic science, which now tells us that our genes are not our destiny, is another variable in vaccine safety, because no one knows how vaccines affect your genes (and it's likely different in every person). Part of the problem is that once you start to epigenetically tinker with the infant immune system, you are basically depositing what Humphries refers to as "little cluster bombs" that will eventually "explode into a big problem."

As an example, she cites a study by Nikolaj Orntoft, in which African girls were injected with a tetanus vaccine to see which genes might be upregulated or downregulated (basically "turned on" or "turned off"). What they found is that there's really no way to predict which genes will be affected.

So not only will each individual have a unique response to any given vaccine based on their age, current health status and microbial makeup, but individuals are also epigenetically predisposed to respond differently in terms of the side effects we might develop.

Yet, doctors like Hotez, instead of opening up the playing field for legitimate questions into vaccine safety and efficacy, would rather engage in name-calling (NVIC and other vaccine choice organizations are "exporting … anti-vax garbage" to communities around the world, he said)8 and have parents who disagree with him "snuffed out."

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

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

When you ask your physician about vaccine safety, you will most likely get a canned answer, one assuring you vaccines are safe. At the very least, physicians should be explaining to parents that their children can get a blood titer test that measures the level of antibodies in their blood. If the levels are high enough, a person is considered "immune" to that particular disease and no further vaccinations or boosters should be necessary.

If your doctor is unwilling to discuss titers with you, find one who is. From my point of view, there can be little doubt that we need to review the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccination program in the U.S. This review needs to include methodologically sound investigative studies that are not compromised by conflicts of interest within industry and government. As Fisher stated in 2016 when criticizing vaccine orthodoxy and urging everyone to defend civil and human rights when it comes to vaccination:9

"Vaccine injury and death does not discriminate between races or social classes, except when people are kept ignorant, economically dependent and unable to make informed choices.

While we still have freedom of speech, press, thought, conscience and religion in America, please exercise and defend those civil and human rights at every opportunity. If we all stand up for the freedom we have left today, we will not lose more of it tomorrow. Knowledge is the antidote to vaccine orthodoxy because knowledge is power."

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Without Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Backfire


By Dr. Mercola

I’ve previously written about the importance of taking vitamin K2 when you’re taking high-dose supplemental vitamin D to avoid complications associated with excessive calcification in your arteries. Now, research highlights the vital importance of taking magnesium in combination with vitamin D as well.

Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, is a component necessary for the activation of vitamin D, and without sufficient amounts of it, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D you’re taking.1,2,3,4

This may actually help explain why many need rather high doses of vitamin D to optimize their levels — it could be that they simply have insufficient amounts of magnesium in their system to activate the vitamin D. As noted by co-author Mohammed Razzaque, professor of pathology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania:5

"People are taking vitamin D supplements but don't realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, vitamin D is not really useful. By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to lower the risks of vitamin D deficiency, and reduce the dependency on vitamin D supplements.”

Without Additional Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Be Ineffective

According to this scientific review,6 as many as 50 percent of Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit, as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form. As reported in the press release by the American Osteopathic Association:7

“… [C]onsumption of vitamin D supplements can increase a person's calcium and phosphate levels even if they remain vitamin D deficient. The problem is people may suffer from vascular calcification if their magnesium levels aren't high enough to prevent the complication. Patients with optimum magnesium levels require less vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient vitamin D levels …

Deficiency in either of these nutrients is reported to be associated with various disorders, including skeletal deformities, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome. While the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for males and 320 mg for females, the standard diet in the United States contains only about 50 percent of that amount. As much as half of the total population is estimated to be consuming a magnesium-deficient diet.”

Higher Magnesium Intake Lowers Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency

Indeed, previous research has indicated that higher magnesium intake helps reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency — likely by activating more of it. As noted in one 2013 study:8

“Magnesium plays an essential role in the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation substantially reversed the resistance to vitamin D treatment in patients with magnesium-dependent vitamin-D-resistant rickets … High intake of total, dietary or supplemental magnesium was independently associated with significantly reduced risks of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency respectively.

Intake of magnesium significantly interacted with intake of vitamin D in relation to risk of both vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Additionally, the inverse association between total magnesium intake and vitamin D insufficiency primarily appeared among populations at high risk of vitamin D insufficiency.

Furthermore, the associations of serum 25(OH)D with mortality, particularly due to cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, were modified by magnesium intake, and the inverse associations were primarily present among those with magnesium intake above the median. Our preliminary findings indicate it is possible that magnesium intake alone or its interaction with vitamin D intake may contribute to vitamin D status.”

Vitamin D Lowers Mortality Risk Associated With Heart Disease

Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is vital for the prevention of many diseases, including but not limited to Type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness), Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and well over a dozen different types of cancer (including skin cancer). Vitamin D also exhibits its infection-fighting abilities in the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds and flu.

Studies have also linked higher vitamin D levels with lowered mortality from all causes.9,10,11 Most recently, a Norwegian study12 published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found “a normal intake of vitamin D” significantly reduces your risk of death if you have cardiovascular disease.13

About 4,000 patients diagnosed with stable angina pectoris (chest pain caused by coronary heart disease) were followed for 12 years. The average age at the outset of the study was 62. Overall, those with vitamin D blood levels between 16.8 and 40 ng/mL (42 to 100 nmol/L) had the lowest mortality risk.

Evidence Suggests Higher Vitamin D Levels Are Better

Interestingly, these findings are actually at odds with mounting research showing 40 ng/mL is at the low end of optimal. The new target is 60 to 80 ng/mL, but even a level upward of 100 ng/mL appears safe and beneficial for certain conditions, especially cancer. For example:

  • Having a serum vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL has been shown to reduce your risk for cancer by 67 percent, compared to having a level of 20 ng/ml or less; most cancers were found to occur in people with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 ng/mL14,15
  • Research published in 2005 showed women with vitamin D levels above 60 ng/mL had an 83 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with levels below 20 ng/mL16
  • A 2007 study found women over 55 who raised their average serum level to 38 ng/mL lowered their risk of all invasive cancers, including breast cancer, by 77 percent17

Other recent research18 has also highlighted the importance of vitamin D for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, showing it plays a vital role in protecting and repairing damage to your endothelium. The findings also suggest vitamin D3:

  • Helps trigger production of nitric oxide — a molecule known to play an important signaling role in controlling blood flow and preventing blood clot formation in your blood vessels
  • Significantly reduces oxidative stress in your vascular system, which is important to help prevent the development and/or progression of cardiovascular disease

According to vitamin D researcher Dr. Michael Holick, author of “The Vitamin D Solution: A Three-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem,” vitamin D deficiency — defined as a level below 20 ng/mL — can raise your risk of heart attack by 50 percent. What’s worse, if you have a heart attack while vitamin D deficient, your risk of dying is nearly guaranteed.

Vitamin D Levels Below 20 ng/mL Are Inadequate for Optimal Health

Vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL have repeatedly been shown to raise your risk for a number of other problems as well, including depression19 and Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests 20 ng/mL is not even adequate for the prevention of osteomalacia (softening of your bones).

In the case of depression, having a vitamin D level below 20 ng/mL will raise your risk by as much as 85 percent, compared to having a level above 30 ng/mL,20 and evidence suggests vitamin D deficiency may be a significant driver of the rise we see in both mood and mental disorders such as psychotic21 and obsessive-compulsive22 disorders.

As for diabetes, an analysis23 by GrassrootsHealth reveals people with a median vitamin D level of 41 ng/mL have a diabetes rate of 3.7 per 1,000, whereas those with a median serum level of just 22 ng/mL have a diabetes rate of 9.3 per 1,000. In other words, raising your level above 40 ng/mL can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent.

All in all, there’s very little reason to believe that a level as low as 16 ng/mL would be protective against death if you have heart disease. Research also shows higher vitamin D levels can help prevent and/or treat:

Dry eye syndromes24,25 and macular degeneration26,27

Autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis

Gastrointestinal diseases28

Infectious diseases, including influenza and HIV29,30

Inflammatory rheumatic diseases31 such as rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoporosis and hip fractures

Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease32,33 and epilepsy. In one study,34 epileptics given a one-time megadose of vitamin D3, ranging from 40,000 IUs all the way up to 200,000 IUs, followed by a daily dose of 2,000 to 2,600 IUs a day for three months to bring each individual’s vitamin D status to at least 30 ng/mL, resulted in significant improvements.

Ten out of 13 had a decrease in the number of seizures, five of which experienced more than a 50 percent reduction. Overall, the group had a 40 percent reduction in the number of seizures.

Lupus. According to researchers in Cairo,35 most patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have some level of vitamin D deficiency, defined as a level of 10 ng/mL or less, or insufficiency, a level between 10 and 30 ng/mL.

Obstructive sleep apnea. In one study, 98 percent of patients with sleep apnea had vitamin D deficiency, and the more severe the sleep apnea, the more severe the deficiency.36

Falls, fractures, dental health and more. A 2006 review37 looking at vitamin D intakes and health outcomes such as bone mineral density, dental health, risk of falls, fractures and colorectal cancer, found “the most advantageous serum concentrations of 25(OH)D begin at 30 ng/mL, and the best are between 36 to 40 ng/mL.”

Obesity. Research38 has shown vitamin D supplementation (4,000 IUs/day) combined with resistance training helps decrease your waist-to-hip ratio — a measurement that is far better at determining your risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease than body mass index.

Neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS).39,40,41 Research shows MS patients with higher levels of vitamin D tend to experience less disabling symptoms.42

Assess Your Vitamin D and Magnesium Levels

The best way to optimize your vitamin D level is through sensible sun exposure. Unfortunately, this can be difficult for many, especially during the winter season and/or if you live in northern regions. If you cannot obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin D through sun exposure, taking a supplement is recommended. Remember that the only way to determine how much sun exposure is enough and/or how much vitamin D3 you need to take is to measure your vitamin D level, ideally twice a year.

The D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth is a cost-effective way to do this, while simultaneously progressing valuable research. To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. To assess your magnesium level, check your RBC magnesium level and track signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency to determine how much magnesium you need. Low potassium and calcium are also common laboratory signs indicating magnesium deficiency.

The Interplay of Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin K2

When supplementing, also remember to take synergistic effects with other nutrients into account. If you take high-dose vitamin D, you may also need to increase your intake of:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin K2
  • Calcium

These four nutrients — vitamins D and K2, calcium and magnesium — all work in tandem, and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work optimally. Lack of balance between these four nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and why some experience symptoms of vitamin D toxicity. Here’s a summary of some of the most important correlations between these nutrients:

Excessive vitamin D in combination with lack of vitamin K2 may cause overabsorption of calcium, which in turn may result in calcium deposits in your heart and kidneys. Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place — in your teeth and bones and out of soft tissues and arteries.

While the optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be established, taking somewhere between 100 to 200 micrograms (mcg) of K2 is beneficial. Telltale signs of vitamin K2 insufficiency include osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes. You’re also more likely to be deficient if you rarely eat vitamin K2-rich foods (see listing below).

Vascular calcification is also a side effect of low magnesium, so when taking vitamin D3, you need both vitamin K2 and magnesium to make sure everything is working properly.

Maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio is also important, as magnesium helps keep calcium in your cells so they can function better. Historically, mankind ate a diet with a calcium-magnesium ratio of 1-to-1,43 which is likely close to ideal.

Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

Eat a Varied Diet and Get Sensible Sun Exposure

The take-home message is that anytime you’re taking supplemental magnesium, calcium, vitamin D3 or vitamin K2, you must take all the others into consideration as well. While supplements can be helpful in some instances, your best and safest bet is to simply eat more calcium-, magnesium- and vitamin K2-rich foods, along with sensible sun exposure.

Food-derived nutrition is typically going to be the most beneficial, and this is particularly true for calcium. When you take a biologically foreign form of calcium, or when your body's ability to direct calcium to the right places becomes impaired (as when you are deficient in vitamin K2 and/or magnesium), calcium is deposited where it shouldn't be, such as in your arteries. It's more likely your body can use calcium correctly if it's plant-derived calcium. Here’s a quick summary of foods known to be high in these important nutrients:

Vitamin K2

Grass fed organic animal products such as eggs and butter, fermented foods such as natto, goose liver pâté and vitamin K2-rich cheeses such as Brie and Gouda


Almonds and cashews, bananas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, brown rice, free-range pastured egg yolk, flaxseed, grass fed raw milk, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and leafy green vegetables, especially spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, collard greens, kale, Bok Choy and romaine lettuce


Raw milk from grass fed cows (who eat plants), leafy green vegetables, the pith of citrus fruits, carob and wheatgrass

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Daffodils Contain Potent Alkaloid


By Dr. Mercola

You may be surprised to learn that daffodils are not only being admired as lovely harbingers of spring, but also, according to new research, as plants with potent cancer-fighting potential. It turns out daffodils contain a natural alkaloid called haemanthamine (HAE) that inhibits the protein production cancer cells depend on to grow and flourish.

Although daffodils have been used medicinally dating back to the ancient Greeks, this may well be the first time modern scientists have uncovered a molecular explanation for their anticancer properties.1 Daffodils belong to the Amaryllidaceae (also commonly known as Amaryllis) family of plants, which possess not only anticancer properties, but also anticholinesterase, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial and antiviral effects, too.

While this news is intriguing, it's important to mention it is unsafe to eat daffodils because the entire plant is highly toxic. If you swallow any part of it you can expect to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Rather than risk illness, a safer approach would be to wait for researchers to transform the promising plant extracts into a nontoxic form of anticancer therapy.

Daffodils Contain Powerful Anti-Malignancy Alkaloid

While you probably wouldn't suspect their medicinal properties by looking at them, daffodils (Narcissus) are found within one of about 20 medicinal plant families known for their pharmacologically active compounds. Long enjoyed for their brightly colored petals arrayed in the shape of a star and frilly trumpet-shaped heads, daffodils are now joining the ranks of cancer-fighting plants.

New research published in the journal Structure2 highlights the discovery of a natural extract in daffodils known for its ability to kill cancer cells. Led by molecular biologist Denis Lafontaine from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium, the research evaluated the anticancer properties of HAE, a natural daffodil alkaloid known to have strong physiological effects in humans.3

The current research, as well as previous efforts by Lafontaine's team and other scientists, has validated HAE's anticancer effects by overcoming the resistance cancer cells have to apoptosis (cell death). Lafontaine and his colleagues suggest HAE activates an "antitumoral surveillance pathway." Because cancer cells require protein synthesis to grow and flourish, requiring the involvement of cell organelles known as ribosomes, HAE acts on the ribosomes, thereby inhibiting protein production.

According to Medical News Today, "The nucleolar stress thus induced triggers a chain reaction that culminates with the elimination of cancer cells: It activates a tumoral surveillance pathway, which stabilizes a protein called p53, which, in turn, leads to cell death." 4 Beyond their anticancer effects, the study authors suggest Amaryllidaceae alkaloids have other beneficial properties.

They said, "Their biological activities are not restricted to anticancer effects but include potential anticholinesterase, antimalarial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects."5 Now that these beneficial extracts have been made known, researchers are attempting to identify the most promising of four Amaryllidaceae alkaloids to see which, if any, can be further developed into a useful form of anticancer therapy.6

Research Validates the Potential of HAE and Other Plant Alkaloids

The research out of ULB is but one of several studies involving plant alkaloids and their potentially therapeutic properties with respect to human health. A 2015 study published in Phytochemistry Letters7 evaluated the cell-killing activities of Amaryllidaceae alkaloids against gastrointestinal cancer cells with the intention of identifying potential natural products for use in future anticancer medications.

The study authors said: "In this study, we demonstrated that HAE, haemanthidine and lycorine showed strong cytotoxicity against … colorectal adenocarcinoma cells … our data indicate that alpha-C2 bridged HAE may be a perspective anticancer drug candidate."

A 2017 study8 out of the Czech Republic evaluated the anticancer and antiproliferative potential of 22 Amaryllidaceae alkaloids using a panel of human cell types, real time cellular analysis and lab mice. The results showed HAE, haemanthidine and lycorine as exerting the highest antiproliferative activity.

These three alkaloids also exhibited significant cell-killing abilities against all tested cell lines. Unfortunately, in tests involving Ehrlich tumor-bearing mice, HAE failed to show a statistically significant reduction in tumor size or a lengthening of survival time. About the mixed results, the study authors stated, "Taken together, these results provide a new clue and guidance for exploiting Amaryllidaceae alkaloids as anticancer agents."

Many Medicines Are Based on Plant Compounds

The current research involving daffodils is just one of countless studies focused on the medicinal benefits of plants. Authors of a 2011 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine had this to say about the usefulness of harnessing the healing power of nature:9

"Almost 70 percent of the prescription and over the counter medicines that are being used for the treatment of many diseases is derived from plants and natural sources.

Pharmacologists, medical doctors, scientists and pharmaceutical companies study the plants and herbs that are traditionally used for treatment of various diseases. After vigorous study, they identify the particular molecule that has therapeutic properties. These molecules undergo various modifications and mutations in laboratories. And then, it is mass produced … and .. marketed."

Beyond HAE, there are several other naturally occurring therapeutic molecules found in the Amaryllidaceae family of plants that have long been used in human health, including:10,11

  • Ephedrine: An anti-asthmatic derived from the Chinese plant known as ma huang, which the Chinese have been using for more than 2,000 years to treat breathing disorders and wheezing; its derivative ephedra has been used as a stimulant for weight loss and appetite suppression
  • Morphine: A potent, highly addictive painkiller derived from the opium poppy that has been used for thousands of years
  • Quinine: An antimalarial agent prized for its fever-reducing abilities that is derived from cinchona bark in Peru; quinine has been used to treat malaria since the 1600s

Don't Eat Daffodils; They Are Poisonous

Given their innocuous looks and ready availability, you may think daffodils are harmless. The reality is the entire plant is toxic and should never be eaten. On some occasions, their unopened tops have been mistaken for garlic chives and their bulbs confused with onions or shallots. (If you are interested in edible plants, check out my article on 42 Flowers You Can Eat.)

Based on an increase in the number of poisonings related to store-bought daffodils in prior years, in 2015 Public Health England issued a warning to all major supermarkets about daffodil toxicity.12 In a letter with the subject heading "Steps to Avoid Daffodil Poisonings This Spring," professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director for Public Health England, said:13

"Each spring stores such as yours provide a wide selection of flowers, particularly cut daffodils and daffodil bulbs. Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when the bulbs are mistaken for onions, and the stems or leaves are mistaken for a type of vegetable popular in China.

As I'm sure you are aware, daffodils are dangerous if eaten, and poisoning can occur as a result. We are asking you, along with all other major supermarkets, to ensure that daffodils, both the bulbs from which they sprout and the cut variety, too, are displayed well away from the produce or fruit and vegetable area."

Prior to the warning being issued, 63 people had become ill during the recent six years. In 2014, the National Poisons Information Service, a service provided by Public Health England, answered 27 calls about daffodil poisoning.14

According to BBC News, 10 members of Bristol's Chinese community were treated for daffodil poisoning in 2012 after apparently mistaking the green parts of an immature plant for a chive used in Chinese cooking.15 The U.S. National Capital Poison Center cautions against adults, children and pets ingesting daffodils, noting:16

"When swallowed, [daffodils] can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Eating the bulb can cause severe irritation of the mouth and stomach upset. These symptoms are usually not life threatening and resolve within a few hours."

How to Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe Around Daffodils

Should you or someone you love experience a mild exposure to daffodils, a good first step is to rinse the mouth well and drink water or milk. For more serious exposures involving persistent vomiting and diarrhea, watch for signs of dehydration.

Seek medical treatment if your contact with daffodils results in intense throat pain, difficulty swallowing or drooling. Registered nurse Serkalem Mekonnen, a certified specialist in poison information at the U.S. National Capital Poison Center, provides the following helpful information about daffodil toxicity:17

  • Lycorine is the toxic chemical present in all parts of the daffodil and its highest concentration is in the bulb
  • The mouth irritation experienced from consuming daffodil bulbs results from chemicals called oxalates,which have been described as "microscopic and needle-like"
  • If you swallow parts of the bulb, you will experience burning and irritation on your lips, tongue and throat; your skin also may become irritated, which is why it is always a good idea to wash your hands after handling and planting daffodil bulbs
  • Animals that have eaten very large amounts of daffodils may suffer from more severe effects, including drowsiness, liver damage and low blood pressure (fortunately, these effects have never been reported in humans)
  • For the safety and well-being of small children and pets, avoid growing or displaying daffodils in areas where they live and play; never leave unplanted bulbs unattended

The Best Ways to Fight Malignant Disease Don't Involve Daffodils

While the research on daffodils, and specifically HAE, is a hopeful sign in the ongoing effort to identify cancer-fighting medications, you don't have to wait for a new cancer treatment to fight cancer.

Below are a few of the healthy practices you can embrace today to improve your health and ensure you don't become a cancer statistic. Some of them are discussed in the video above featuring my interview with cancer-prevention expert Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy, author of the book "The Cancer Revolution" and medical director of the Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California.

  • Eat a ketogenic diet: Optimizing your body's ability to burn fat as its primary fuel by eating a ketogenic diet and/or fasting is a foundational aspect of cancer prevention and treatment. I describe a modified ketogenic cyclical diet that accomplishes this in my book "Fat for Fuel." Even if you're undergoing conventional cancer treatment, nutritional ketosis can be tremendously helpful. A specific diet area to watch is your protein consumption — eat only a moderate amount of organic, grass fed meat.
  • Detoxify your body regularly: While there are many ways to eliminate toxins, because your skin is your largest organ of elimination one of the simplest and safest ways is sauna. Specifically, I recommend you use a low EMF, far-infrared sauna coupled with a near-infrared light. Not only is a sauna useful for detoxification, but cancer cells also do not fare well in extreme heat. If possible, add ozone to your sauna to achieve even more anticancer benefits.
  • Get regular exercise: A number of studies18,19 suggest regular exercise is the best way to slash your odds of getting cancer, as well as reduce your chances of experiencing a recurrence. A comprehensive fitness routine is essential for optimal health. Some of my personal favorites include: core training, high-intensity interval cardio, peak fitness, strength training, stretching and walking (set a goal for 15,000 steps a day).
  • Optimize your vitamin D level: If you want to slash your risk of cancer, it's essential you spend adequate time in the sun, or supplement with proper amounts of vitamin D3. To prevent chronic diseases like cancer you should aim for a vitamin D blood serum level in the 60 to 80 nanograms/milliliter range year-round. If you choose a vitamin D supplement, be sure to also take vitamin K2 and magnesium since they work synergistically.
  • Simplify your cleaning supplies and personal care products: Given the amount of toxic chemicals used in household cleaners and personal care products, it's important you take stock of your exposures. A fantastic documentary about the toxic effects of these products is called Stink!. It would be well worth your time to get educated about the negative effect air fresheners, cleansers, deodorants, detergents, perfumes, shampoos, soaps and the like can have on your health.

While yellow daffodils are often used by cancer societies as a symbol of hope, and the current research highlights the plant's potential cancer-fighting properties, your best strategy to avoid becoming a cancer statistic is to take steps to optimize your health. Begin today. Start with the list above and add other beneficial practices along the way. Soon, you'll be well on your way to improved health and well-being.

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Grass Fed Dairy Study Shows How Much Better It Really Is


By Dr. Mercola

If you've heard about omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, you may be aware that while they're essential human nutrients, consuming too much omega-6s and not enough omega-3s can raise your risk of developing heart disease, obesity and diabetes. The trouble is, the majority of Americans eat 10 to 15 times the amount of omega-6s compared to what they eat in omega-3s.

According to a recent study1 published in Food Science & Nutrition, cows fed a diet based on 100 percent organic grass and legumes produce milk with more omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA, another extraordinarily heart-healthy fatty acid), which provides a substantially healthier balance of fatty acids. The improved fatty acid profile in grass fed organic milk and dairy products brings the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to a near 1-to-1, compared to 5.7-to-1 in conventional whole milk.

Studies have previously determined that eating organic beef or dairy lowers omega-6 intakes and at the same time increases omega-3 intakes as well as CLA, another extraordinarily heart-healthy fatty acid. Collaborative clinical studies conducted in four countries, including the U.S., have concluded that cows on a 100 percent organic grass- and legume-based diet produce milk with higher omega-3 and CLA levels, which makes for more balanced levels of fatty acids.

Undertaken at Newcastle University in England, Southern Cross University in Linsmore, NSW Australia, the University of Minnesota and Johns Hopkins University, the studies further indicated that the superior fatty acid profile in grass fed organic milk and dairy products, which the researchers refer to as "grassmilk," is far preferable to the ratio of fatty acids found in conventional whole milk. Science Daily noted other benefits:

"Daily consumption of grassmilk dairy products could potentially improve U.S. health trends. In addition to the well-established metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, there are additional benefits for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children.

Various forms of omega-3 fatty acids play critical roles in the development of eyes, the brain, and the nervous system. Adequate omega-3 intakes can also slow the loss of cognitive function among the elderly."2

The benefits of consuming grass fed milk over the conventional kind are quite dramatic when you examine the nutritional benefits, because they translate to health in a big way. Study coauthor Charles Benbrook, a visiting scholar at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, noted the "near-perfect balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in grassmilk dairy products" in helping consumers find a fairly quick and easy way to reduce their cardiovascular and metabolic disease risks.

How Cow's Milk Is 'Managed' in the U.S

Science Daily noted that the colleagues involved in the study, "Enhancing the Fatty Acid Profile of Milk through Forage-Based Rations, with Nutrition Modeling of Dietary Outcomes," compared the fatty acid profile of U.S. cow's milk produced using one of three production systems:

  • "Grassmilk" cows, for the most part, consume a 100 percent organic grass and legume-based diet, which they either forage themselves in pastures or are fed via stored silage or hay.
  • Organic cows' feed is made up of around 80 percent Dry Matter Intake, aka DMI from forage-based feed, along with 20 percent grain and feed concentrates.
  • Conventional feeding systems for cows consist of around 53 percent DMI and the remaining 47 percent from grain and concentrates, a combination that takes in more than 90 percent of all milk cows in the U.S.

However, Bradley Heins, researcher, associate professor of dairy science at the University of Minnesota and coauthor of the study, suggests that converting from conventional feeding systems to grass-based pasture and forage-feeding to meet increased consumer demand for organic dairy products may boost profitability and market share for producers.

Grass fed milk offers the most omega-3s — 0.05 grams per 100 grams of milk as opposed to the 0.02 grams in conventional milk. That's a 147 percent increase in omega-3s, making it the obvious choice for anyone interested in eating (and drinking) to benefit their health. As for the omega-6 content, grass fed milk delivers 52 percent less compared to conventional cow's milk and 36 percent less than organic milk.

Grass fed milk also provides the most CLA, with 0.043 grams per 100 grams of milk compared to 0.019 grams in conventional milk and 0.023 grams in organic. When you do the research and discover such vast differences in the nutritional profiles of milk depending on how it's "managed," it doesn't take long to surmise that the conventional approach to milk production may fast be approaching obsolescence, which has caused a major ripple in the dairy community.

Ripples in the Dairy Industry

It's probably not hard to see that the dairy industry could be impacted by the release of the nutritional superiority of grass fed over conventionally raised milk, and even the milk wearing an organic label, but the ways it's been impacted probably weren't anticipated. However, as the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) observes, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) still has a ban on the interstate sale or distribution of raw milk.

To remedy that, the Real Food Consumer Coalition (RFCC)3 submitted a petition April 26, 2017, requesting that the FDA lift its ban on raw milk and allow raw milk dairy farmers to "distribute unpasteurized milk in interstate commerce, as long as it bears a warning label and instructions for safe handling." The Coalition calls the present ban an unnecessary burden on family farmers and notes:

"There are only seven states — Montana, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Iowa and Delaware — where raw milk is expressly illegal. Still, FDA regulations make raw milk contraband whenever it crosses state lines. Even though the threat of federal prosecution has pushed most farmers away from raw milk sales, 3 percent of the public (approximately 9.4 million people) still regularly consume unpasteurized milk."4

The RFCC contends that raw milk could be a big boost to the economy. In fact, one study found that if Wisconsin had just 100 raw milk dairy farms and each served 50 families, it would pour $10 million into the state's economy.5 More importantly, such a boost would be the encouragement U.S. farmers in rural areas need, especially since they've been closing their proverbial doors at unprecedented rates.

An example from Vermont is cited by National Public Radio (NPR) in an article titled, "As Big Milk Moves In, Family-Owned U.S. Dairy Farms Rapidly Fold." It tells the story of a small milking farm that went under in early 2017: "They are the last remaining dairy herd in Weathersfield, and they'll be auctioned off this week. This is a growing trend in the changing dairy industry — in the state and beyond."6

Between 1950 and 2012, the number of farms with milking cows, NPR reports, plunged from 3.5 million to around 58,000. The problem is that milk prices aren't high enough to sustain the business. In fact, they're not much higher than they were 40 years ago, even while the cost of living has risen exponentially. But it's become a global trend, as something similar is happening in China, Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Problems Flourish in the Dairy Industry

It's not just plummeting milk prices that have caused problems. Northeastern farmers are suing their co-op, Dairy Farmers of America, and Dean Foods, the latter being the largest milk producer in the U.S., saying they conspired to monopolize the market and drive down prices, even though it was clear the milk producers involved would have no buyers. According to Bloomberg:

"Dairy farmers are suffering because the companies that send their milk to the grocery store refuse to pay them what it costs them to produce the milk. On the West Coast, cooperatives created to sell dairy products have been accused by their members of pocketing millions of dollars in an elaborate accounting scheme."7

Tellingly, one dairy co-op even provided suicide hotline numbers to the farmers in its network, according to Valley News,8 based in New Hampshire. Supporting this scenario, a recent NPR article reports that three farmers in one relatively small dairy cooperative took their own lives; most in the industry put it down to the emotional and financial toll, depressed prices, more milk than there is a demand for and lower prices overseas. One farmer noted that he's making about 75 percent of what he needs in order to breakeven.

While organic dairy farmers are making more money for their product compared to conventional dairy operations, prices are still below production costs. Still, farmers are reluctant to throw in the towel because of an "agrarian imperative" and other factors, from financial pressure to "a sense of powerlessness in an industry where prices are set by the government, combined with social isolation, and a self-reliant spirit that may make them loathe to seek help," NPR reports.9

OCA notes that for a while organic dairy farmers were selling raw milk directly to consumers, which helped them stay flush through price fluctuations until, it adds, "Organic Valley banned the practice."10

Why Opt for Raw Grass Fed Milk?

Besides modern testimonials regarding the health advantages of drinking raw organic grass fed milk over cartons of CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) milk from standard grocery stores, medical books from the early 1900s cite case studies associated with improvements and remedying chronic disease and disorders, including:

Crohn's disease


Lyme disease


Urinary tract infections



Lactose intolerance



A study of around 1,000 infants in rural areas of France, Germany, Finland, Austria and Switzerland followed their milk consumption throughout their first year of life, specifically in regard to the types of cow's milk they drank and their susceptibility to respiratory infections. Researchers found that those who drank raw milk had a 30 percent lower risk of developing such infections and fever.11

There's something called the "farm effect" that may help explain why about 50 percent of Americans suffer from allergic sensitization, which makes them more susceptible to allergic disease. Meanwhile, the OCA notes that the Amish, 80 percent of whom purportedly drink raw milk compared to 3 percent of Americans at large, are among the least allergic populations in the developed world.

"In Europe, the consumption of unpasteurized milk also correlates with protection against allergic disease. European children who consume raw milk have more T-cells, which help the immune system restrain itself when facing substances that are not true threats. A healthy population of these and other 'suppressor' cells is important in preventing allergies and asthma. The higher the quantity of those cells, the less likely is a diagnosis of asthma."12

The implication is that the "farm effect" is synonymous with a "raw milk effect," as children's immune systems seem to be protected, especially when they're young, when they're exposed to raw milk and microbes commonly found on farms.

That's one reason why the OCA is asking the FDA to acknowledge the health advantages of raw milk and to begin allowing dairy farmers to produce and distribute unpasteurized milk via interstate commerce, even as it complies with warning labels and safe handling instructions. If you're interested in helping with this endeavor, here's your chance. Click here to ask the FDA to lift its ban on raw milk.

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Weekly Health Quiz: Biology, Heart Attacks and Alzheimer's


1 Which of the following is a necessity for all biological processes in your body, catalyzing biochemical reactions that otherwise cannot occur?

  • Vitamin D
  • Antioxidants
  • Protein
  • Enzymes

    Enzymes are necessary for all physiological processes. They catalyze biological functions that otherwise would not occur at physiological temperatures, so they're absolutely vital for optimal health and life. Learn more.

2 WebMD was recently acquired by a global investment firm with ties to which industry?

  • Tobacco

    Last year, KKR announced its acquisition of WebMD. KKR used to own tobacco conglomerate RJR Nabisco, and after buying the Weekly Reader, research showed its tobacco ties led to subtle changes in anti-tobacco messaging that sent a contrary message to children. Learn more.

  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Marijuana

3 Vehicle emissions have long been a primary source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to the creation of ozone and fine particulate matter pollution. Which of the following sources has now been identified as being just as great a source of VOCs as car exhaust?

  • Building materials such as brick and cement
  • Household plants
  • Computers and other technologies
  • Consumer household products, especially chemical cleaning products

    VOCs released by consumer and industrial products are two to three times higher than previously estimated, and contributions to air pollution from household products are now estimated to be 50 percent of VOC air pollution. Learn more.

4 Which of the following is a leading cause of heart attacks in otherwise healthy women under 55?

  • Extreme physical exercise
  • Extreme emotional stress and/or "heartbreak"
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)

    Symptoms of an uncommon type of heart attack known as SCAD are easily overlooked, as few SCAD patients have risk factors for heart disease. Yet it's a leading cause of heart attacks in healthy women under 55; 80 percent of SCAD patients are women and 20 percent have recently given birth. Learn more.

  • Smoking

5 Rhabdomyolysis is a condition triggered by:

  • Muscle trauma

    Muscle trauma due to overexercise, accidents, prolonged immobilization, medication or certain metabolic and genetic disorders can lead to rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can lead to kidney damage, renal failure and death. Learn more.

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Hormone imbalances

6 While dozens of variables can have a significant influence on Alzheimer's, this degenerative neurological disease is primarily rooted in:

  • Insufficient exercise
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Lack of mental engagement
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction

    Dr. Dale Bredesen has identified more than four dozen variables that can have a significant influence on Alzheimer's, but at the heart of it all is mitochondrial dysfunction. Learn more.

7 Which of the following organizations provide the highest level of organic standards and certification?

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Organic Certifiers
  • Quality Assurance International
  • Biodynamic/Demeter

    The next-gen in organics is regenerative organics, also known as biodynamic farming, which has far stricter rules than USDA organics. Demeter is a global biodynamic certification agency. Learn more.

This Rich and Cheesy Beef Casserole Might Just Be Your New Favorite


A lot of people want to cook a wholesome and filling meal at home, but can‘t do so because they’re either too tired, too busy, or do not have enough time on their hands. In the end, they resort to ordering takeout or having food delivered to their home. But did you know that it’s possible to cook a delicious and nutritious meal without slaving away in the kitchen for hours? All it takes is a bit of creativity (and some spice) to transform a few simple ingredients into something that will delight your palate and nourish your body. 

1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 organic Roma tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
8-ounce can organic tomato sauce
1/2 cup organic beef stock
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coconut oil 
Himalayan salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1 cup raw cheese of your choice 

1. Season ground beef with salt and pepper and brown in a large oven safe pan. Drain beef, remove from the pan and set aside.
2. In the same pan over medium heat, add the coconut oil. 
3. Sauté the cabbage and onion until softened, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, cinnamon, ground cloves and beef stock. Whisk to incorporate ingredients.
6. Add ground beef to the pan and pour the tomato sauce mixture and mix thoroughly. 
7. Top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

When Buying Ground Beef, Look for Organic and Grass Fed Varieties

This simple and easy-to-prepare stir fry recipe uses beef, a superior source of protein and other nutrients, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been found to be a potential cancer fighter. However, for this recipe (and other recipes calling for ground beef), I advise you to buy ONLY organic, grass fed ground beef for safety reasons.

Conventional ground beef from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which are notorious breeding grounds for diseases, can expose you to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and even fecal bacteria like E. coli. One test even revealed that 100 percent of all ground beef samples contained bacteria that can cause life-threatening blood or urinary tract infections. 

The truth is that ground beef is actually more problematic than solid meat cuts. In whole cuts, the bacteria are found on the surface of the meat, and are destroyed once the meat is cooked thoroughly. When you grind meat, though, the same bacteria get mixed throughout the meat, contaminating all of it. What’s more, ground beef is usually made from a number of different animals — and if one animal is contaminated, the entire batch will be, too.

Once you find organic beef (from pasture raised cows, raised by a trustworthy local farmer), make sure to cook it thoroughly. However, avoid burning it, as burnt meat can cause carcinogenic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to form. Organic beef is not only safer, but also nutritionally superior than CAFO beef, as it is higher in:

Total omega-3s  (it has a healthier ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids)
B-vitamins riboflavin and thiamine
Minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and potassium
Vitamin E
Vaccenic acid (which can be transformed to CLA)

Don’t Forget the Other Standout Ingredients in This Recipe

The second equally nutritious ingredient in this recipe is cabbage, which is an excellent source of fiber, folate, vitamin B6, manganese and vitamins B1, B5, B6 and K, as well as powerful antioxidants. These beneficial phytonutrients help protect against several types of cancer, including colon, prostate and breast cancer. 

Cabbage also contains an impressive amount of vitamin C — it can give you 54 percent of the recommended daily value for this nutrient. Vitamin C is a potent free radical-scavenging nutrient that helps protect you against infections. Other nutrients in this humble vegetable include phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium.

While the recipe above calls for completely cooking or “softening” the cabbage, this method may remove most of the nutrients in the vegetable. If you want to get all the benefits of cabbage, cook it as minimally as possible instead. Leaving it tender crisp preserves the delicate nutrients while giving your dish a delicious crunch.

Tomatoes and tomato sauce also make up a bulk of this recipe, but note that they are a nightshade plant, and therefore may contain lectins. The good news is that cooking them can effectively diminish much of their lectin content, and at the same time increase the lycopene content. 

Lycopene is perhaps the most well-known compound in this food, and is said to have anticancer and antistroke effects. It’s also been Identified with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, according to one study. 

Raw cheese adds not only a delicious saltiness to this dish, but also a plethora of nutrients. When made from the milk of grass fed, pastured animals, cheese is an excellent source of:

High-quality saturated fats and omega-3 fats
High-quality protein and amino acids
Vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B12, D and K2 and minerals like zinc, calcium and phosphorus
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is known for its potential to fight cancer and boost metabolism 

Finally, herbs and spices, particularly cloves and cinnamon, add a depth of flavor to this recipe. Cloves add a sweet and earthy taste to your dishes, and also boast of antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that stand out from other spices.  On the other hand, cinnamon, one of the most studied spices in the world, has been found to help improve a wide array of health conditions, such as inflammation, dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular health, dental health and more. 

Recent Successes and What’s in Store for Organic Industry in 2018


By Dr. Mercola

Our annual GMO Awareness Week is upon us, and in this interview, Ronnie Cummins, executive director and cofounder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) details the current state of the opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A lot has happened since last year’s campaign.

At present, there are 457 million acres of GMO crops growing around the world according to the genetic engineering (GE) industry. That’s about 10 percent of the 4 billion acres of cropland in the world. The good news is this GMO acreage has remained largely unchanged for the last three years. There’s even some evidence of a slight decline. This lack of growth is undoubtedly a reflection of growing consumer awareness about GMOs and the toxic chemicals that accompany them.

Organic Sector Is Growing

Evidence of growing consumer awareness and concern about chemical hazards can also be seen in the growth of the organic and grass fed sectors. In the U.S., the organic food and products sector has grown to $50 billion a year and the certified non-GMO sector is now at $30 billion annually.

“It’s a healthy section in the marketplace that is not genetically engineered, and it’s growing,” Cummins says. “In response to consumer demand, more and more farmers are moving away from GMO crops in the U.S., either planting less or making the transition to non-GMO and organic [as] consumers are becoming aware of the fact that GMOs are really just delivery systems for toxic pesticides.

The whole reason why Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and the rest are patenting and manufacturing GMO seeds is so they can sell their proprietary pesticides. There’s no such thing as a GMO crop that’s not accompanied by toxic herbicides or insecticides. They’re also always accompanied by massive amounts of chemical fertilizers.

[GMOs] are primarily grown to feed animals on factory farms and to produce ethanol or biodiesel. Animals in factory farms that are eating the GMOs with the pesticide residues in them are also being injected with or consuming antibiotics and other veterinary drugs to keep them alive under those hellish conditions. All in all, it doesn’t add up to a very attractive thing for consumers. That’s the reason why this first generation of GMO crops is leveling off.”

New Generation of GMOs Coming to Market

Unfortunately, we now face a new generation of GMOs, and they may be even more dangerous than the first generation of glyphosate-resistant and Bt-producing crops released in 1996. Glyphosate-resistant GE plants are designed to withstand otherwise lethal doses of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, whereas Bt crops are engineered to produce their own insecticide — Bacillus thuringiensis — internally, inside each cell of the plant.

While these traits were touted as a godsend for farmers, the promise of weed-free fields didn’t pan out as promised. Instead, chemical-resistant superweeds and superbugs rapidly developed, necessitating the use of more and more chemicals to keep them in check. The illogical and ultimately devastating answer provided by the chemical technology industry is a new generation of crops engineered to withstand more toxic chemical combinations, such as 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops.

With the release of these next-gen crops, the devastation was near-immediate and undisputable. Dicamba is extremely toxic and prone to drift. It’s nearly impossible to apply it properly and avoid damaging non-target areas. Almost immediately, farmers started reporting severe crop damage caused by drift, and it quickly became apparent that the only way to avoid such damage is to grow dicamba-resistant crops.

By late September last year, 368 complaints had been filed in Illinois,1 and Iowa had received 258 reports — a “record number” — by early September.2 Farmers in Arkansas reported the same problem. The damage was so extensive, a number of states, including Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi, imposed temporary bans on the use of dicamba-containing pesticides last summer.3 In all, more than 3 million acres in the U.S. suffered dicamba damage last year.4

September 10, 2017, the law firm Morgan & Morgan filed a class-action lawsuit5 against Monsanto, BASF and DuPont, the three largest manufacturers of dicamba-based herbicide formulations in the U.S., alleging dicamba “is highly volatile and can travel considerable distances and cause injuries to plants several miles away,” and that dicamba makers “deceptively marketed their latest dicamba formulations as ‘low-volatility’ herbicides that would not be as prone to off-target movement.”

California to Require Cancer Warning for Roundup

Despite such ongoing struggles, other victories have been achieved. Early last year, a California judge decreed Roundup must indeed carry a cancer warning label in order to be sold in the state. Ever since the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization, reclassified glyphosate as a "probable carcinogen" (Class 2A), there has been tremendous debate and upheaval in the world.

The IARC’s decision was based on "limited evidence" showing the weed killer can cause Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with "convincing evidence" linking it to cancer in animals.

“… Monsanto, the biotechnology industry and certain members of U.S. Congress … are trying everything they can to prevent the implementation of this law. But it’s very unlikely they’re going to be able to prevent California Proposition 65 from going into effect, because it’s a very clear law. It’s been on the books since 1986. Glyphosate, the Roundup residue, meets the criteria … [so] it looks like California is going to go forward with the designation of Roundup as a carcinogen.”

Chemical Technology Industry Fails to Regain Popularity

California’s cancer warning on Roundup is expected to be implemented next year. Warning labels will not necessarily be required on food, unless they meet a certain threshold of contamination, but signage will be required anywhere Roundup is sold and used, such as in hardware stores, feed stores and in and around agricultural fields.

“It’s going to be a big black eye for Monsanto,” Cummins says. “That’s one of the reasons they’re starting to market a new generation of Frankencrops such as dicamba-resistant seeds …  

[T]he controversy around Monsanto — probably the most hated corporation in the world — is also hampering Bayer Chemical’s attempt to buy out Monsanto for $66 billion. They’ve having great difficulties, especially in the European Union, around that. But I think Monsanto and the rest of the genetic engineering industry recognize that this first generation of crops are no longer working.

The weeds are developing resistance to Roundup. Consumers are getting aware of the fact that Roundup residues damage your health. It’s come out that the Bt crops are also not working — the pests they’re supposed to kill are developing resistance. Also, Bt damages your immune system …

Monsanto and Dow have developed a new generation of 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant seeds and crops but these are even more controversial in the marketplace. Dicamba has damaged thousands of farmers’ crops. It’s even banned right now in Arkansas. It spreads throughout the environment and kills any plant that’s not genetically engineered dicamba-resistant. These crops are not working either.”

Dicamba and 2,4-D Have Long Been Known To Be Too Toxic to Use

Ironically, when Roundup Ready crops were brought to market in ’96, one of the justifications for the use of Roundup was that older pesticides such as 2,4-D (an ingredient in Agent Orange, a chemical warfare agent used with devastating effect during the Vietnam War) and dicamba were simply too dangerous, both to the environment and human health.

Meanwhile, Roundup was claimed to be biodegradable and nontoxic. Now that Roundup has been shown to be far from benign, causing chemical resistance in weeds, antibiotic-resistance in soil and damaging human health, the industry’s answer is to reintroduce the very chemicals previously discarded as being far too toxic to use! Clearly, they did not magically lose their toxicity over the past 20 years, yet the industry is pretending as if none of these concerns ever existed.  

“Even farmers who would normally be pro-chemical or pro-biotech have been suing Monsanto, because when their neighbors spray dicamba, it kills everything around it,” Cummins says. “Monsanto likes to claim [they’ve] got this new formulation that is not as volatile [and] doesn’t travel as far under ordinary conditions. But that’s just not true.

It just shows that, in their desperation, they’re going to — in the case of dicamba — force every farmer to use it or else their crops are going to be killed by it. I think it’s going to be a hard sell for both dicamba and 2,4-D, especially with consumers becoming more aware of the fact that, for certain pesticides, there are no safe levels at all. We’ve simply must get rid of these pesticides.”

Strategic Plan for 2018

So, what’s the plan for reversing the spread of GMOs in 2018? Here’s a rundown of OCA’s strategy:

OCA will continue to provide funding to the U.S. Right to Know organization (USRTK) which, while independent from OCA, has done a masterful job of creating media coverage about the dangers of Roundup residues and pesticides in general. Also, through freedom of information act filings, USRTK has exposed a number of deeply damaging truths about the industry’s use of academics to promote a corporate agenda while pretending to be independent experts.

OCA will also continue educating consumers about the fact that GMOs are really just delivery systems for pesticides (i.e., their primary cause for being is to increase pesticide sales), and that the only way to avoid dangerous pesticide residues and GMOs is to buy organic food, both when shopping for your daily groceries and when eating out.

As noted by Cummins, evidence suggests there’s really no safe level for Roundup, so the fact that it’s the most commonly used pesticide in the world poses significant problems for public health. French researchers have demonstrated that even at 0.1 parts per billion, glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup — severely damages the health of lab animals.

Glyphosate is detected in the urine of 70 to 80 percent of Americans right now (including some who eat mostly organic food) and is found in 90 percent of water samples. On the whole, glyphosate appears to be a significant contributor and driver of chronic disease, and anyone concerned about their long-term health cannot afford to ignore the potential impact of glyphosate any longer. 

This year, OCA will also ramp up independent lab testing of nonorganic products claiming to be “all-natural,” “natural,” “eco-friendly,” “free-range,” “grass fed,” and so on. As noted by Cummins, “There’s a huge fraud going on in the marketplace. Big food companies understand that consumers want organic … 57 percent of American consumers say they know that organic food is superior …

It’s against the law for them to call it organic unless it’s certified, but they’re using terminology … to convince consumers that if … it says all-natural, that means it’s just about like organic, but it’s a lot cheaper.” OCA estimates there are up to $400 billion worth of fraudulently labeled food in supermarkets across the U.S. This includes meat, dairy products, eggs and processed foods. OCA is sending samples of these products to independent labs for testing, to ascertain what’s really in them.

Ben & Jerry’s Still in the Hot Seat

Two of the most heinous deceivers out there are Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Sanderson Farms (the only chicken producer that obstinately refuses to even consider reducing its use of antibiotics). Ben & Jerry’s has since the very beginning presented itself as a company built on environmental values and all-natural ideals. Yet, testing of their products reveal they’re not so natural after all. It’s all just a well-crafted façade. 

When we look at [Ben & Jerry’s products], we’re finding Roundup residues in them, both in the United States and in Europe, where we’ve tested all of Ben & Jerry’s most popular ice cream brands,” Cummins says. “We’re also [assessing] the damage their dairy suppliers are doing to the environment, which is a disaster in Vermont and other areas. They’re basically factory farm-supplied, pesticide-intensive operations, where the cows are not grazing out on pasture.

They’re eating GE corn and grains. It’s showing up in the products. Since August, we have staged demonstrations and press conferences. We’ve done extensive testing. We’ve exposed the fact that Ben & Jerry’s is a fraud. Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever (the third largest food corporation in the world).

We’ve told Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever, ‘If you want to get back in the good graces of consumers, because you’re quickly losing your reputation, you need to go organic as quickly as possible. Get those cows grazing on pasture, not eating GE corn sprayed with Roundup and atrazine.’

They have agreed to make nominal changes so far. Unilever announced in October — when we exposed their European brands as being contaminated with Roundup — [that] in 2018, 7 to 8 percent of their production will be organic. They said by the year 2020, two years from now, none of their added ingredients — wheat, chocolate and so on — will be sprayed with Roundup. They’re going to basically clean up their act over time.

But, we’ve seen Unilever’s behavior in the past. It’s easy to make promises. It’s easy to make nominal changes in your production, but we’re not letting up. We’re continuing to test their products for other contaminants. We’re continuing to work with people who are exposing the environmental damage they’re doing …

Roundup use in Vermont has doubled over the last few years. In large part due to the fact that all the corn nonorganic dairy farms feed their cows is genetically engineered. So, their brand image is being tarnished.”

OCA Takes Legal Action to Stop Deceptive Marketing Practices

As reported in previous articles, Sanderson Farms claims the antibiotic-free trend is nothing but a marketing ploy devised to justify higher prices. This, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence showing this routine practice is a major driver of antibiotic-resistant disease, which is already killing an estimated 23,000 Americans each year.

OCA is presently in negotiations with Sanderson Farms to cease and desist their false advertising. OCA has also taken legal action against General Mills, as their so-called natural granola bar, Nature’s Valley, is contaminated with Roundup, as well as baby food companies like Earth’s Best, which claims their baby food is organic even though it contains ingredients prohibited in organics.

“What we’re seeing across the board is that if companies are challenged in court — and in the court of public opinion — over their false advertising, they’ll realize at some point that they’re going to lose. They’re already losing their reputation. They will either go organic or they will stop claiming that their stuff is natural, all-natural or other misleading terms that are out there.

There’s a lot of meat being called grass fed that’s not grass fed. There’s a lot of beef that has labels on it that say ‘Product of the U.S.A.’ when it’s imported … Companies are resorting to fraud in their labeling and advertising because they understand that consumers want organic and they want grass fed. Until they can provide that, the only way to keep their profits up is to mislead consumers.”

Next-Gen Organics

While the chemical technology industry is rolling out their next-gen GMOs, the organic industry is slowly introducing the next-gen in organics — regenerative organics, many of the principles of which are embodied in biodynamic farming. Organic dairy products are certainly better than conventional factory farmed products, but just because something is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t mean the cows are 100 percent grass fed, as they should be.

Research shows there are clear nutritional differences between herbivores (such as cows) that are fed grain, especially pesticide-contaminated GE grain, and animals fed a wholly natural diet of grass. The American Grassfed Association and others have pioneered standards for grass fed beef. We’re now also starting to see those standards being applied to dairy products, and we’re starting to see 100 percent grass fed organic milk and yogurt products. Cummins adds:

“Across the board, we’ve always had Grade A and Grade B organics. A lot of consumers haven’t fully understood this, but they’re starting to. Biodynamic organic is the higher (A) grade. The way farms are certified under biodynamic is much stricter than the normal USDA organic. It’s been great to move from chemical agriculture, factory farms and GMOs into a situation where organic is a powerhouse now — it’s over 10 percent of all produce …

But we need to take it to the next step, where we focus on organics and traditional principles where you have to improve the soil every year on a continuous basis. You need to pay attention to soil health if you’re going to have optimum nutrition.

Now, people have also realized that … we can actually reverse climate change by making the soil healthier; producing plants that have a supercharged photosynthesis that actually suck down the excess carbon from the atmosphere and put it in the soil where it used to be.

Regenerative organic and regenerative food farming and land use, they’re starting to catch on. It appears it’s going to be a global phenomenon that’s going to make organic move from being just a niche market to where, in 10 years, the majority of food is going to be grown organically and regeneratively.”

Be Part of the Change

Ultimately, regenerative food and farming is the end goal. We not only want to identify and expose market fraud and deception, which the OCA does quite well, but we also want to encourage, inspire and catalyze the transition to regenerative agriculture practices that has stronger standards, such as those developed by the American Grassfed Association and Demeter, the latter of which provides biodynamic certification.

These are the things the annual GMO Awareness Week aims to achieve, and by contributing to this campaign, you support OCA’s work throughout the year. Changing an industry is a slow game, but over time, we see tremendous results. You can make a difference, and we really appreciate your participation. Without your support, none of the changes we’ve seen over the past several years would have been possible.

So, please, consider making a generous donation to the OCA today. As in previous years, I will more than match your gift and donate $3 for every dollar you donate. Remember, OCA is a nonprofit organization and, as such, all your gifts are fully tax deductible.

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Unique Care Facilities Offer Hope for Dementia Patients


By Dr. Mercola

Like autism among children, Alzheimer’s among seniors has reached epidemic proportions, with no slowdown in sight. On the contrary, evidence suggests the trend is worsening. At present, Alzheimer’s affects about 5.4 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.1 The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, 1 in 6 adults will be living with dementia, which means elderly dementia care facilities will soon be in critical demand.

More than 80 percent of current care home residents have significant memory problems or full dementia.2 More than 15 million Americans also provide unpaid care for family members with dementia, and 35 percent of caregivers say their personal health has declined as a result of the strain, compared to 19 percent of those who care for elderly without dementia.

With younger family members footing the bill, the cost of a good residential home is out of reach for many, causing some families to consider options outside of their own national borders. The 16x9 News Online documentary special, “Dementia: The Unspooling Mind,” explores innovative models of dementia care in Thailand and the Netherlands — unique residential complexes designed to keep this vulnerable population safe, happy and well-cared for.

Netherland’s Dementia Village

On the outskirts of Amsterdam in a small town called Weesp, is Hogeweyk, also known as Dementia Village.3 As this is typically a person’s last residence, the goal at Hogeweyk is to provide the most normal life possible, reminiscent of each individual's formative years. It has the sort of manufactured reality depicted in the movie “The Truman Show,” where Jim Carrey portrays a man who discovers his entire life is actually a reality TV show.

There is only one way into the village and one way out. All doors open automatically, except those to the outside world. This four-acre village was built with the specific needs of dementia patients in mind, designed around common and familiar social and cultural building blocks.

For example, residents with shared interests and backgrounds live together in “lifestyle groups,” with the design and decoration of the 23 homes tailored to each type. Together, the residents manage their own households in most respects, with staff members helping out as needed.

The cost is nearly $8,000 per month, but the government provides subsidies so that each resident’s rent will never exceed $3,600. The entire complex is geared toward giving residents a high quality of life; to provide them with a sense that their life is still worth living — they can have fun and have a purpose.

There are all sorts of amenities, including a cafe and parks with gardens and fountains along streets where the residents can freely roam.4 Village staff are everywhere, cleverly blending in as ordinary town folk. Caretakers staff the restaurant, the grocery store, the hair salon and the movie theatre. They also have the ability to surveil the resident’s living quarters without being intrusive.

Care From the Heart  

Thailand, “the land of smiles,” has two “dementia resorts,” both of which are a stark contrast to your typical nursing home. At the Baan Kamlangchay center,5 which translates to “care from the heart,” there are no locks, gates or fences at all. The center, which houses a dozen residents in a small village of eight homes, was established by Martin Woodtli, a Swiss psychologist who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.

According to Woodtli, patients at his center generally don’t require drugs to stay calm. Nor do they need locked doors to keep residents safe. Instead, they’re never without an attendant, so they have the benefit of continuous human interaction and supervision, and have freedom to move about. He says his guests “feel part of a family, a community, and that’s very important.”6 Patients are accompanied to local markets, temples and restaurants, and receive personal around-the-clock care — all for $3,800 per month.

When considering whether or not to place a loved one in a care center far from home, the most challenging part is leaving their loved one behind, not knowing if he or she is aware of what’s happening or feels abandoned. This is, of course, a very personal decision with multiple factors weighing differently in every situation, and each patient is different.

The majority of dementia patients placed far away from home are in the most advanced stages of the disease. Experts report that while many with early dementia would find it difficult to adjust to life in a foreign place, separated from their families, many in advanced stages adjust surprisingly well to a place with good care, because they “live in a world of earlier memories.”

Chiang Mai Care Resort

A second Thai care center,7 a former four-star tourist resort located about 30 minutes from Chiang Mai, is owned by Peter Brown, a British entrepreneur who converted the resort into a care facility after his mother developed dementia and couldn’t get adequate care in the U.K. The resort now houses about 70 patients who, according to Brown, “are having the time of their lives.”

Brown’s goal is to give each guest as much independence as their individual condition allows. Care Resort Chiang Mai sits on 11 acres of trees, gardens, swimming pool, fishponds and a lake. There are different designs ranging from studios to one- and two-bedroom villas, each equipped with a full nursing care station. Sightseeing excursions and a spa are a regular part of their treatment.

When you consider the average cost of full-time care for a family member with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. is between $3,700 and $6,900, depending on your state of residence,8 it’s easy to see why some families are considering what might be called radical options, such as care centers on the opposite side of the globe.

Continued efforts need to be made to improve the quality of life and quality of care for people living with dementia, and this requires the kind of “outside the box” thinking as demonstrated in the care centers featured in this video. In the final days and hours of life, whether the person at your loved one’s bedside is you or a caregiver thousands of miles away, it’s important that they’re being cared for with dignity and respect.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Is at the Heart of Alzheimer’s

While there is no conventional cure for Alzheimer’s, a number of lifestyle strategies show promise for preventing and slowing down its progression. Dr. Dale Bredesen, director of neurodegenerative disease research at the UCLA School of Medicine, discusses these alternatives in his book, “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline.” If you missed my interview with him, I highly recommend viewing it now (for the full interview, see the original article, linked above).

Bredesen has identified more than four dozen variables that can have a significant influence on Alzheimer’s, but at the heart of it all is mitochondrial dysfunction. This makes logical sense when you consider that your mitochondria are instrumental in producing the energy currency in your body, and without energy, nothing will work properly. Your mitochondria are also where a majority of free radicals are generated, so when your lifestyle choices produce higher amounts of free radicals, dysfunctions in mitochondria are to be expected.

The accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA are also a primary driver of age-related decline. Importantly, Bredesen’s work sheds light on why amyloid is created in the first place. Amyloid production is actually a protective response to different types of insults, each of which is related to a specific subtype of Alzheimer’s. Bredesen explains:

“If you’ve got inflammation going on, you are making amyloid because … it is a very effective endogenous antimicrobial. [I]n that case, it’s not really a disease … [It’s] a falling apart of the system. You’re making amyloid because you’re fighting microbes, because you’re … inflamed, because you are decreased in your trophic support (insulin resistance, and so on) or because [you’re toxic].

Guess what amyloid does beautifully? It binds toxins like metals, mercury and copper. It’s very clear you’re making [amyloid] to protect yourself. It’s all well and good if you want to remove it, but make sure to remove the inducer of it before you remove it. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk.”

The program Bredesen developed is a comprehensive approach that addresses the many variables of Alzheimer’s at their roots. Interestingly, if you have the ApoE4 gene, which increases your risk for Alzheimer’s, you would be wise to implement intermittent fasting or do longer fasts every now and then.

In fact, this gene appears to be a strong clinical indication that you need to fast on a regular basis to avoid Alzheimer’s. The reason for this is because the ApoE4 gene helps your body survive famine. Unfortunately, it also promotes inflammation. Fasting appears to help cancel out this inflammatory proclivity.

Alzheimer’s Screening Tests

Bredesen also recommends a number of screening tests to help tailor a personalized treatment protocol. For example, if you have insulin resistance, you want to improve your insulin sensitivity. If you have inflammation, then you’ll work on removing the source of the proinflammatory effect. If your iron is elevated, you’ll want to donate blood to lower it, and so on.

Alzheimer’s Screening Tests

Test Recommended range


40 to 60 ng/mL


Less than 16 U/L for men and less than 9 U/L for women

25-hydroxy vitamin D

40 to 60 ng/mL

You can get the test here

High-sensitivity CRP

Less than 0.9 mg/L (the lower the better)

Fasting Insulin

Less than 4.5 mg/dL (the lower the better)

Omega-3 index and omega 6:3 ratio

Omega-3 index should be above 8 percent and your omega 6-to-3 ratio between 0.5 and 3.0 

You can get the omega-3 index test here

TNF alpha

Less than 6.0


Less than 2.0 microunits/mL

Free T3

3.2-4.2 pg/mL

Reverse T3

Less than 20 ng/mL

Free T4

1.3-1.8 ng/mL

Serum copper and zinc ratio


Serum selenium

110-150 ng/mL


5.0-5.5 μm

Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol)

12-20 mcg/mL

Body mass index (which you can calculate yourself)


ApoE4 (DNA test)

See how many alleles you have: 0, 1 or 2

Vitamin B12


Hemoglobin A1c

Less than 5.5 (the lower the better)


4.4-10.8 mcmol/L

Strategies to Help Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s important to realize that dementia, including Alzheimer's, is largely a preventable disease, predicated on lifestyle choices that enhance mitochondrial function. Following are a summary of suggestions that can boost your mitochondrial health and help protect your brain health well into old age:

Eat real food, ideally organic

Avoid processed foods of all kinds as they contain a number of ingredients harmful to your brain, including refined sugar, processed fructose, grains (particularly gluten), vegetable oils, genetically engineered ingredients and pesticides like glyphosate. Ideally, keep your added sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you already have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.

Opting for organic produce will help you avoid synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Most will benefit from a gluten-free diet, as gluten makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they sensitize your immune system and promote inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.

Replace refined carbohydrates with healthy fats

Healthy fats such as saturated animal fats and animal-based omega-3 are very important for optimal brain function. Healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, butter, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, grass fed meats and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia.

Avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats that have been modified in such a way to extend their longevity on the grocery store shelf. This includes margarine, vegetable oils and various butter-like spreads. Contrary to popular belief, the ideal fuel for your brain is not glucose, but ketones, which are produced when your body converts fat into energy.

The medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil and MCT oil are a great source of ketone bodies. Also make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats. High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help prevent cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.

Optimize your gut flora

To do this, avoid processed foods, antibiotics and antibacterial products, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and be sure to eat traditionally fermented and cultured foods, along with a high-quality probiotic if needed. Dr. Steven Gundry does an excellent job of expanding on this in his new book “The Plant Paradox.”

Intermittently fast

Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jump-start your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the insulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s.

Move regularly and consistently throughout the day

It's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,9 thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1 alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer's have less PGC-1 alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.

Excess sitting is associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological illnesses. Stand up and walk as often as possible, with a goal of walking about 10,000 steps a day.

Optimize your magnesium levels

Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.

Get sensible sun exposure

Research shows people living in northern latitudes have higher rates of death from dementia and Alzheimer's than those living in sunnier areas, suggesting vitamin D and/or sun exposure are important factors.10

Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer's. If you are unable to get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, make sure to take daily supplemental vitamin D3 to make your blood level at least 60 to 80 nanograms per milliliter.

Sun exposure is also important for reasons unrelated to vitamin D. Your brain responds to the near-infrared light in sunlight in a process called photobiomodulation. Research shows near-infrared stimulation of the brain boosts cognition and reduces symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including more advanced stages of the disease.

Delivering near-infrared light to the compromised mitochondria synthesizes gene transcription factors that trigger cellular repair, and your brain is one of the most mitochondrial-dense organs in your body.

Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body

Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity; however, you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.

Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body

Common sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, nonstick cookware and vaccine adjuvants. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, “First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity.”

Avoid flu vaccinations

Most flu vaccines contain both mercury and aluminum.

Avoid statins and anticholinergic drugs

Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Adults who use benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan for anxiety or insomnia are about 50 percent more likely to develop dementia, especially if used chronically.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10, vitamin K2 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Limit your exposure to non-native electromagnetic fields (EMF from cellphones and other wireless technology)

The primary pathology behind EMF damage is caused by the reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrites,11 which damage your mitochondria, and your brain is the most mitochondrial-dense organ in your body. Peroxynitrite is an unstable structural ion produced in your body after nitric oxide is exposed to superoxide, and this complex chemical process begins with exposure to low-frequency microwave radiation from your cellphone, Wi-Fi and cellphone towers.12,13

Increased peroxynitrite generation has also been associated with autonomic hormonal dysfunction and increased levels of systemic inflammation by triggering cytokine storms. Martin Pall, Ph.D., has published a review14 in the Journal of Neuroanatomy showing how microwave radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi routers, computers and tablets (when not in airplane mode) is clearly associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer’s.

To reduce your risk, limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.

I also strongly recommend turning off the electricity to your bedroom at the circuit breaker every night. This will radically lower electric and magnetic fields while you sleep. This will help you get better, more sound sleep, allowing your brain to detoxify and cleanse itself out each night.

Get plenty of restorative sleep

Studies indicate that poor sleeping habits cause brain damage and may accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s by impeding your brain’s ability to clear out toxins and waste.

Manage your stress

Researchers have found that nearly three out of four Alzheimer's patients experienced severe emotional stress during the two years preceding their diagnosis. One of my favorite stress-busting tools is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

Challenge your mind daily

Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

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