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Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's Strengthens

By Dr. Mercola

Alzheimer?s disease ? for which conventional medicine believes there is no effective treatment or cure ? currently affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans1 and prevalence is projected to triple by 2050.2,3 Within the next two decades, this severe and lethal form of dementia may affect as much as one-quarter of the U.S. population. Already, more than half a million Americans die from the disease each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind heart disease and cancer.4,5  

The good news is that lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and sleep can have a significant impact on your risk. As previously noted by Dr. Richard Lipton6 of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where they study healthy aging, lifestyle changes ?look more promising than the drug studies so far.? As with health in general, your diet plays a crucial role. Processed foods tend to be nearly devoid of healthy fat while being excessive in refined sugars, and this combination appears to be at the heart of the problem.

High-Sugar Diet Significantly Raises Your Risk of Dementia

One of the most striking studies7 on carbohydrates and brain health revealed that high-carb diets increase your risk of dementia by a whopping 89 percent, while high-fat diets lower it by 44 percent. According to the authors, ?A dietary pattern with relatively high caloric intake from carbohydrates and low caloric intake from fat and proteins may increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia in elderly persons.?

Studies also strongly suggest Alzheimer?s disease is intricately connected to insulin resistance;8 even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia.9 Diabetes and heart disease10 are also known to elevate your risk, and both are rooted in insulin resistance.

This connection between high-sugar diets and Alzheimer?s was again highlighted in a longitudinal study published in the journal Diabetologia in January 2018.11 Nearly 5,190 individuals were followed over a decade, and the results showed that the higher an individual?s blood sugar, the faster their rate of cognitive decline.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetics Have Higher Risk for Alzheimer?s

The connection between sugar and Alzheimer?s was first broached in 2005, when the disease was tentatively dubbed "Type 3 diabetes.? At that time researchers discovered that your brain produces insulin necessary for the survival of your brain cells.12 A toxic protein called ADDL removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, thereby rendering those neurons insulin resistant, and as ADDLs accumulate, your memory begins to deteriorate.

Curiously, while low insulin levels in your body are associated with improved health, the opposite appears to be true when it comes to the insulin produced in your brain. Reduced brain insulin actually contributes to the degeneration of brain cells, and studies have found that people with lower levels of insulin and insulin receptors in their brain often have Alzheimer?s disease.

According to researchers,13 "These abnormalities do not correspond to Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but reflect a different and more complex disease process that originates in the central nervous system.?

In 2016, researchers at John?s Hopkins department of biology discovered that nerve growth factor, a protein found in your nervous system that is involved in the growth of neurons, also triggers insulin release in your pancreas.14 So there appears to be a rather complex relationship between body insulin, brain insulin and brain function, and we?ve probably only begun to tease out all of these connections.

Case in point, even Type 1 diabetics are at increased risk for Alzheimer?s, even though their bodies don?t produce insulin at all. Melissa Schilling, a professor at New York University, investigated this paradox in 2016. As reported by The Atlantic:15

?Schilling posits this happens because of the insulin-degrading enzyme, a product of insulin that breaks down both insulin and amyloid proteins in the brain ? the same proteins that clump up and lead to Alzheimer?s disease. People who don?t have enough insulin, like those whose bodies? ability to produce insulin has been tapped out by diabetes, aren?t going to make enough of this enzyme to break up those brain clumps.

Meanwhile, in people who use insulin to treat their diabetes and end up with a surplus of insulin, most of this enzyme gets used up breaking that insulin down, leaving not enough enzyme to address those amyloid brain clumps. According to Schilling, this can happen even in people who don?t have diabetes yet ? who are in a state known as ?prediabetes.??

Sugar Damages Brain Structure and Function

Research16 published in 2013 showed that sugar and other carbohydrates can disrupt your brain function even if you?re not diabetic or have any signs of dementia. Here, short- and long-term glucose markers were evaluated in healthy, nondiabetic, nondemented seniors. Memory tests and brain imaging were also used to assess brain function and the actual structure of their hippocampus.

The findings revealed that the higher the two blood glucose measures, the smaller the hippocampus, the more compromised its structure, and the worse the individual?s memory was. According to the authors, the structural changes in the hippocampus alone can partially account for the statistical link we see between glucose and memory, as your hippocampus is involved with the formation, organization and storage of memories.

The results suggest glucose directly contributes to atrophy of the hippocampus, which means that even if you?re not insulin resistant or diabetic, excess sugar can still hamper your memory. The authors suggest that ?strategies aimed at lowering glucose levels even in the normal range may beneficially influence cognition in the older population.?

A similar study17 published in 2014 found that Type 2 diabetics lose more gray matter with age than expected, and this brain atrophy also helps explain why diabetics have a higher risk for dementia, and have earlier onset of dementia than nondiabetics.

As noted by Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, these findings ?suggest that chronic high levels of insulin and sugar may be directly toxic to brain cells? adding that ?This would definitely be a potential cause of dementia.?18

Even Mild Insulin Resistance Speeds Cognitive Decline

A study19 published just last year also confirmed the link between insulin resistance and dementia, particularly among those with existing heart disease. Nearly 490 seniors were followed for two decades, and as in other studies, those with the highest levels of insulin resistance scored the worst on cognitive tests, especially tests for memory and executive function.

A take-home message here is that you don?t have to be a diabetic to be at increased risk. As noted by senior study author Dr. David Tanne, a faculty member of Tel Aviv University in Israel, "Even people with mild or moderate insulin resistance ? are at increased risk over time ? Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance and, as a result, protect your brain as you get older.?

Progress Made in the Development of a Blood Test for Alzheimer?s

In related news, researchers have announced great strides being made in the development of a blood test to detect Alzheimer?s.20 The test is designed to detect amyloid beta, the toxic protein known to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer?s patients. In a recent trial,21 the test was 90 percent accurate in detecting the disease in a pool of 370 participants.

At present, the only way to measure amyloid beta is by brain scan or a spinal tap, both of which are invasive and expensive, and can only detect the disease once it has sufficiently progressed. While promising, further trials must be done to confirm the diagnostic accuracy of the blood test before it can be released and used in medical practice.

One of the most comprehensive assessments of Alzheimer?s risk is Dr. Dale Bredesen's ReCODE protocol, which evaluates 150 factors known to contribute to the disease. This protocol also identifies your disease subtype or combination of subtypes so that an effective treatment protocol can be devised.

You can learn more about this in ?ReCODE: The Reversal of Cognitive Decline,? which is my interview with him. In his book, you will also find a list of suggested screening tests and the recommended ranges for each test, along with some of Bredesen?s treatment suggestions. The full protocol is described in Bredesen?s book, ?The End of Alzheimer?s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline.?22

Turmeric May Lower Alzheimer?s Risk, Study Shows

Other recent developments include a study showing curcumin supplementation may lower the risk of Alzheimer?s by improving memory and focus.23 The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,24 included 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 who reported mild memory lapses. None had a diagnosis of dementia at the time of their enrollment. Participants randomly received either 90 milligrams of curcumin (Theracurmin supplement) twice a day for 18 months, or a placebo.

A standardized cognitive assessment was administered at the start of the study and at six-month intervals thereafter, and the level of curcumin in their blood was measured at the beginning and end of the study. Thirty of the participants also underwent positron emission tomography (PET) scans to assess their level of amyloid and tau deposits before and after treatment, both of which are strongly associated with Alzheimer?s risk.

Those who received curcumin saw significant improvements in memory and concentration, while the control group experienced no improvement. PET scans confirmed the treatment group had significantly less amyloid and tau buildup in areas of the brain that control memory, compared to controls. Overall, the curcumin group improved their memory by 28 percent over the year-and-a-half-long treatment period.

Curcumin has also been shown to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),25 and reduced levels of BDNF have been linked to Alzheimer?s disease. Yet another way curcumin may benefit your brain and lower your risk of dementia is by affecting pathways that help reverse insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia and other symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity.26

Preventive Strategies

According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and author of ?Grain Brain? and ?Brain Maker,? anything that promotes insulin resistance will ultimately also raise your risk of Alzheimer?s. To this I would add that any strategy that enhances your mitochondrial function will lower your risk. Considering the lack of effective treatments, prevention really cannot be stressed strongly enough.

In 2014, Bredesen published a paper that demonstrates the power of lifestyle choices for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer?s. By leveraging 36 healthy lifestyle parameters, he was able to reverse Alzheimer?s in 9 out of 10 patients.

This included the use of exercise, ketogenic diet, optimizing vitamin D and other hormones, increasing sleep, meditation, detoxification and eliminating gluten and processed food. You can download Bredesen?s full-text case paper online, which details the full program.27 Following are some of the lifestyle strategies I believe to be the most helpful and important:  

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. Ideally, keep your added sugar 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 also 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 carbs with healthy fats

Diet is paramount, and the beauty of following my optimized nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually all chronic degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's. It?s important to realize that your brain actually does not need carbs and sugars; healthy fats such as saturated animal fats and animal-based omega-3 are far more critical for optimal brain function.

A cyclical ketogenic diet has the double advantage of both improving your insulin sensitivity and lowering your Alzheimer?s risk. As noted by Perlmutter, lifestyle strategies such as a ketogenic diet can even offset the risk associated with genetic predisposition. (Estimates suggest genetics account for less than 5 percent of Alzheimer?s cases.

An estimated 75 million Americans have the single allele for ApoE4. Those who are ApoE4 positive have a 30 percent lifetime risk of developing the disease. Approximately 7 million have two copies of the gene, which puts them at a 50 percent lifetime risk. It's unknown how many Americans have the TOMM40 gene or others that may affect your risk.)

When your body burns fat as its primary fuel, ketones are created, which not only burn very efficiently and are a superior fuel for your brain, but also generate fewer reactive oxygen species and less free radical damage. A ketone called beta hydroxybutyrate is also a major epigenetic player, stimulating beneficial changes in DNA expression, thereby reducing inflammation and increasing detoxification and antioxidant production.

I explain the ins and outs of implementing this kind of diet, and its many health benefits, in my new book ?Fat for Fuel.? In it, I also explain why cycling through stages of feast and famine, opposed to continuously remaining in nutritional ketosis, is so important.

Pay close attention to the kinds of fats you eat ? 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.

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. MCT oil is also a great source of ketone bodies.

Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3

Lowering your insulin will also help lower leptin levels which is another factor for Alzheimer?s. If your insulin is high, you?re likely consuming too much sugar and need to cut back.

Optimize your omega-3 level

Also make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats. High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. Ideally, get an omega-3 index test done once a year to make sure you?re in a healthy range. Your omega-3 index should be above 8 percent and your omega 6-to-3 ratio between 0.5 and 3.0.

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. Once you have worked your way up to where you?ve been doing 20-hour daily intermittent fasting for a month, are metabolically flexible and can burn fat as your primary fuel, you can progress to the far more powerful five-day water fasts.

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,28 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.

Optimize your magnesium levels

Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Keep in mind that the only magnesium supplement that appears to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier is magnesium threonate.  

Optimize your vitamin D, ideally through sensible sun exposure

Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer's and, indeed, 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.29

If you are unable to get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, take daily supplemental vitamin D3 to reach and maintain a blood level of 60 to 80 ng/ml. That said, it?s important to recognize that sun exposure is 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.? There is some suggestion that certain mineral waters high in silicic acid may help your body eliminate aluminum.

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.

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 (cellphones, Wi-Fi routers and modems)

Radiation from cellphones and other wireless technologies trigger excessive production of peroxynitrites,30 a highly damaging reactive nitrogen species. Increased peroxynitrites from cellphone exposure will damage your mitochondria, 31,32 and your brain is the most mitochondrial-dense organ in your body.

Increased peroxynitrite generation has also been associated with increased levels of systemic inflammation by triggering cytokine storms and autonomic hormonal dysfunction.

Optimize your sleep

Sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain. Without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in, and catching up on sleep during weekends will not prevent this damage.33,34,35 Sleep deprivation causes disruption of certain synaptic connections that can impair your brain's ability for learning, memory formation and other cognitive functions. Poor sleep also accelerates the onset of Alzheimer's disease.36

Most adults need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Deep sleep is the most important, as this is when your brain?s glymphatic system performs its cleanout functions, eliminating toxic waste from your brain, including amyloid beta. For a comprehensive sleep guide, see ?33 Secret's to a Good Night's Sleep.?

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.

Try This Essential Oil to Ease Muscle Aches and Sprains

With its narrow frame and sparse appearance, botanists consider spruce lagging behind its other conifer counterparts from the Pinacea plant family in terms of splendor. However, what spruce lacks in appearance, it makes up for with its wide array of impressive healing properties. Discover more about this essential oil.

What Is Spruce Oil?

Spruce oil is derived from the bristly, needlelike, and blue-green leaves and twigs of spruce trees, which are cousins to other ornamental conifers like cedars, firs, and pine. Spruce have reddish brown trunks that initially grow anywhere from 12 to 18 inches until they reach their maximum peak of 35 feet.

There are different species of spruce aside from the most common black spruce (Picea mariana), but not all of them produce healthy essential oils. Some other oil-bearing spruce species include:

  • Hemlock or Eastern spruce (Tsuga canadensis)
  • Norway or common spruce (Picea abies)
  • White Spruce (Picea glauca)

Spruce thrives in the cold, wet climate of North America. It is commonly found in Canada from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, in some of the northern states of the continental U.S., and in Alaska, Labrador, and Newfoundland.

Uses of Spruce Oil

Native Americans used to concoct their own ointment, salves and lotion with spruce, honey and alum to treat skin problems such as boils, burns, skin inflammation, sores and wounds. They also used the balsam of spruce as a chewing gum and spread it as caulking or glue. They even ate the inner bark and shoots of the tree.

Spruce oil is frequently added in soap, air fresheners and household cleaner formulations to lend its fresh scent and act as a disinfecting agent. Because of its pleasant earthy scent, its calming effects and its ability to ease anxiety and stress, spruce oil is also a favorite in meditation rituals like grounding.1

For pet care, combine spruce oil with cedarwood oil. Apply it on your pet's coat, use in bath preparations, or use as a spray to get rid of fleas and ticks.2

Composition of Spruce Oil

Spruce oil smells sweet, soft, warm and inviting, similar to fir or pine, yet much smoother and milder. It is viscously thin and has a crystal clear to pale yellow color. In terms of its chemical constituents, spruce oil contains 55 percent monoterpenes ? including camphene, ?-Pinene and y-3-Carene ? y-Bornyl acetate, and sesquiterpenes. Spruce oil has hormone-and cortisone-like properties that stimulate the thymus gland and the hypothalamic?pituitary?adrenal axis (HPA).3

Benefits of Spruce Oil

Spruce oil has potent antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, antiseptic, disinfectant, expectorant and stimulant properties. It works wonders for respiratory ailments, wound healing, viral infections, arthritis, rheumatism and other forms of muscle aches and pains.

Since spruce oil positively affects many systems in the body, particularly the endocrine system, it's no surprise that it can deliver a wide range of well-documented health benefits, which include helping in:4

Stimulating and fortifying the immune system

Controlling some cases of hyperthyroidism

Regulating the adrenal hormone to help the body deal with stress and "fight-or-flight" situations

Relieving respiratory tract infections like asthma or bronchitis

Working as an expectorant to relieve mucus

Fighting off fatigue, including nervous exhaustion and chronic fatigue

Soothing skin conditions, such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and seborrhea dermatitis

Calming skin outbreaks triggered by hormonal imbalance or stress

How to Make Spruce Oil

Spruce oil is extracted through steam distillation from its leaves, which are usually harvested between the months of January and April when essential oil levels are at their highest. Branches that are exposed in the sun yield more spruce oil compared to the ones hidden in thick, dense forests. The 25-year-old spruce trees are known to produce twice as much essential oil than those 45 years and older.

During the steam distillation process, the botanical material is placed in a still and is subjected to extremely high temperatures in order to extract the essential oil.5

How Does Spruce Oil Work?

Because of its soothing components, spruce oil is frequently used in massages, saunas, and steam baths. Spruce oil may be used topically, inhaled directly through aromatherapy or as a tonic. Some oils that complement spruce oil well include cedarwood, clary sage, galbanum, lavender, oakmoss, pine and rosemary.6

In cases when you or someone in your family is suffering from muscle aches, painful joints, poor circulation, strains and sprains, I highly recommend that you use spruce oil topically with a milder carrier oil. Combining spruce oil with helichrysum oil, which is known for its toning properties, is suggested to help soothe injuries to the muscles, ligaments and tendons while speeding up healing and preventing the formation of unsightly scars. 7

Is Spruce Oil Safe?

Spruce oil is generally regarded as safe. However, any application without prior dilution to a gentler carrier oil may cause skin irritation in some individuals.8

To prevent this from occurring, one practical precautionary measure I advise when using essential oils for the first time is performing a skin patch test. Simply apply a tiny drop of spruce oil on a small portion of your skin and wait for at least 24 hours. If any reaction comes up, discontinue use.

On the other hand, if you're pregnant or a nursing mother, I advise you not to use spruce oil ? or any other essential oil for that matter ? without your physician's recommendation, to avoid any complications. This caveat is the same if you have any medical condition and are currently taking prescription medication.

Side Effects of Spruce Oil

Apart from the possibility of skin irritation or skin sensitizing, spruce oil currently has no known side effects. Nevertheless, always err on the side of caution. Consult a natural holistic practitioner or an aromatherapy specialist before incorporating any herbal oil into your supplement or treatment regimen.

Grape-Derived Compounds to Help Beat Depression

By Dr. Mercola

A polyphenol preparation made from Concord grape juice, grape seed extract and trans-resveratrol has shown promise for treating depression, according to an animal study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.1 Two phytochemicals in particular ? dihydrocaffeic acid (DHCA) and malvidin-3'-O-glucoside (Mal-gluc) ? appeared to be responsible for the beneficial effects, which included modulating inflammation and synaptic plasticity, essentially increasing resilience against stress-induced depression in mice.2

Previous research has found that a single dose of resveratrol can improve blood flow to your brain and may enhance several aspects of brain function, including lowered inflammation that may extend to protection again depression.3 The featured study revealed that the grape-derived compounds target cellular and molecular pathways associated with inflammation while modulating synaptic plasticity, disruptions of which have been linked to depression.

DHCA was found to reduce a pro-inflammatory compound called interleukin 6 (IL-6) while Mal-gluc modulates synaptic plasticity, a fundamental brain function that controls your ability to sense and store complex information and respond to external stimuli.

With chronic stress (or acute traumatic stress) acting as the most significant factor in a person?s susceptibility to depression,4 the fact that the specialized grape preparation promoted resilience against stress in mice was also highly notable. Study author Giulio Maria Pasinetti, Ph.D., professor of neurology, said in a news release:5

"Our approach to use a combination treatment of DHCA and Mal-gluc to simultaneously inhibit peripheral inflammation and modulate synaptic plasticity in the brain works synergistically to optimize resilience against chronic stress-induced depression-like phenotypes ?

The discovery of these new, natural grape-derived polyphenol compounds targeting cellular and molecular pathways associated with inflammation may provide an effective way to treat a subset of people with depression and anxiety, a condition that affects so many people."

Why Conventional Treatments for Depression Often Fail

Nearly 7 percent of U.S adults suffered from a depressive episode in the past year6 while, worldwide, 350 million people suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability.7 Despite this, only about one-third of Americans with depression get treated,8 which puts the remaining two-thirds left untreated at increased risk of suicide and with a lower quality of life.

Yet, major problems exist with conventional depression treatments, which typically center on antidepressants. For starters, the side effects can be serious. Antidepressant users have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes,9 even after adjusting for other risk factors, like body mass index (BMI).10 Antidepressant use has also been linked to thicker arteries, which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke,11 along with increased risk of heart attack12 and, ironically, suicidal thoughts.

The drugs are also linked to dementia, with researchers noting ?treatment with SSRIs, MAOIs, heterocyclic antidepressants, and other antidepressants was associated with an increased risk of dementia,? and as the dose increased, so too did the risk.13 Importantly, the drugs are also known to deplete various nutrients from your body, including coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12 ? in the case of tricyclic antidepressants ? which are needed for proper mitochondrial function. SSRIs may deplete iodine and folate.14

Importantly, studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression.15 In fact, Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, has conducted meta-analyses of antidepressants in comparison to placebo and has concluded that there?s virtually no difference in their effectiveness, noting, ?The difference is so small, it?s not of any clinical importance.?16

What is different, however, is the potential for side effects, which is far greater among antidepressants than placebos. Not to mention, the widely-held belief that depression is due to low levels of serotonin or other chemicals in your brain is only a theory ? one that?s been largely disproven. Antidepressants targeting the chemical imbalance theory remain the go-to treatment for this condition nonetheless. As the grape compound researchers wrote in Nature Communications:17

?Currently available treatments for major depressive disorder (MDD) mainly target neurochemical or neurobiological mechanisms. Conventional pharmacological treatments produce temporary remission in <50 percent of patients. Thus, there is an urgent need for a wider spectrum of novel therapeutics to target newly discovered underlying disease mechanisms.?

Nature May Be Home to a Number of Depression Busters

As mentioned, the grape compound resveratrol, also found in raspberries, mulberries and other dark berries, pomegranates, red wine and dark chocolate, has previously been shown to have antidepressant effects in mice and rats. In one study, resveratrol showed ?antidepressant-like effect[s],? possibly due to activation of hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).18 BDNF promotes healthy brain neurons and levels tend to be low in people with depression.

Yet, grapes are just one natural source of compounds that may give your mental health a boost. The psychedelic drug psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, is another that continues to show promise for treating depression. In a small study of 19 patients with treatment-resistant depression, all of them experienced improvements in symptoms one week after receiving a single dose of psilocybin, and half of them were no longer depressed five weeks post-treatment.19

Brain scans showed actual brain changes occurred in areas involved in depression, including less activity in the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions, and more stable activity in the default-mode network (links between activity in the network and depression have been found).20 The researchers suggested the participants? brains may have been ?reset? in a sense, helping them to overcome depression.

Unfortunately, psilocybin is a Schedule 1 drug, like marijuana, so trials cost about 10 times that for other legal drugs, and in order to take the research to the level where it could potentially be turned into a psychiatric treatment, phase 3 clinical trials are needed with thousands of participants. For that to occur, psilocybin would need to be rescheduled. Light exposure is another way nature provides for your mental health.

Exposure to sunlight will help optimize your vitamin D levels (another factor linked to depression21) as well as influence your mental state via other mechanisms, like regulating your circadian rhythm and production of serotonin, which is released in response to sunlight exposure. If you don?t have access to regular sunlight, full-spectrum light therapy can be a useful alternative. Light therapy alone and placebo were both more effective than Prozac for the treatment of moderate to severe depression in an eight-week-long study.22

Supplements Useful for Depression

Other proven mood boosters are readily available via the food you eat or, alternatively, in the supplement aisle. These include:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium supplements led to improvements in mild-to-moderate depression in adults, with beneficial effects occurring within two weeks of treatment.23
  • Omega-3 fats, which have been shown to lead to improvements in major depressive disorder.24 Make sure you're getting enough omega-3s in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, or a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement.
  • B vitamins. Low levels of B vitamins are common in patients with depression, while vitamin B supplements have been shown to improve symptoms.25
  • Folate. Folate helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. One 2012 study found people who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression than those who ate the least.26
  • Probiotics. A small study involving adults diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and depression found the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum provided depression relief. At six weeks, 64 percent of the treatment group had reduced depression scores compared to 32 percent of the control group that received a placebo.27 Eating fermented foods regularly is an excellent way to supply your body with an ongoing source of probiotics.

Other options include SAMe, an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.28

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a serotonin precursor, is another natural alternative that outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression29 ? more than can be said about antidepressants. St. John's Wort has also been shown to provide similar relief to mild or moderate depression as antidepressants but with fewer side effects.30

Treating Depression Requires a Holistic Approach

Depression is a complex condition with varied causes that requires a similarly varied approach in treatment. What works to cure your depression may be different from what works for your neighbor?s. However, in addition to the supplements above, one strategy that will benefit most everyone is regular exercise.

Even a minimal amount of exercise may be enough to combat depression in some people ? as minimal as one hour a week, according to an 11-year study in which people who engaged in regular leisure-time exercise for one hour a week were less likely to become depressed. On the flipside, those who didn?t exercise were 44 percent more likely to become depressed compared to those who did so for at least one to two hours a week.31

Please keep in mind that physical activity should include not just ?exercise? but also plenty of nonexercise daily movements, such that you?re in motion more so than not (except while you?re sleeping). Spending time in nature ? gardening, hiking or visiting a park ? may also help to relieve anxiety and depressive symptoms, as can practicing mindfulness meditation32 and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).33 Attention to your diet is also crucial, particularly in limiting the amount of processed foods and sugars you?re eating.

On the other hand, foods that are good for your mood include dark chocolate, bananas, turmeric and even organic black coffee. Taking care of yourself by leading a healthy lifestyle (eating right, getting high-quality sleep, exercising and relieving stress regularly) is a crucial element to fighting and recovering from depression. However, if you?re in the throes of a depressive episode, it?s difficult to focus on making long-term plans or lifestyle changes.

In this case, reach out for help from a health care provider, close friend or family member, and if you are feeling desperate or having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Overmedicating Our Elders

By Dr. Mercola

According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports,1 you may be in the minority if you don't regularly take a prescription drug. In a sample of nearly 2,000 American adults, more than half regularly took prescription medications and the average adult took four. The total number of prescriptions filled by Americans increased by 85 percent from 1997 to 2016. However, the total population increased by only 21 percent during that same period.

Every age group is at risk for being diagnosed with a condition they may not actually have, and subsequently being prescribed medications they do not need. Many choose an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication to feel better. You might assume that OTC drugs are safe, but availability does not equate to being risk-free. Some current OTC medications were once available by prescription only.

In an increasingly litigiousness environment, and under a very real fear of medical malpractice lawsuits, physicians often feel pressured to prescribe medications designed to relieve symptoms, but not seek the foundational cause of your condition. When physicians do not follow published standards of care and instead seek to provide individualized care to their patients, they may be publicly criticized by colleagues and potentially rebuked by their professional organization.

One group of individuals who are at high risk of receiving prescription medications for diseases or illnesses they do not actually have are nursing home residents who suffer from dementia.2

Alzheimer?s disease Changes Cognition and Behavior

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and irreversible neurological disorder that slowly destroys memory and cognitive functioning. Eventually, the individual is unable to carry out even some of the simplest tasks and cannot remember people in their lives who were once very important. Although estimates vary, many experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease3 and it is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Some of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are memory problems.4 Early symptoms do not often interfere with everyday life, but as the disease progresses, symptoms continue with a decline in cognition and impaired reasoning or judgment. Ultimately, changes occur throughout the brain leading to difficulty communicating and a complete dependence on others.

In a study published in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology,5 researchers concluded patients with Alzheimer's disease experience emotions that persist well beyond their memory of what happened to cause the emotion. This has important implications in management and care, and may offer an explanation for behavioral changes that occur as the disease progresses.

Alzheimer?s disease can trigger sudden changes in mood or behavior6 for no apparent reason, and changes in personality, including extremely confused, suspicious or fearful behavior. These emotions lead to significant changes in behavior, during which individuals may become violent or attempt to flee their environment.

Chemical Restraints Increase Risk of Death

In an effort to control difficult behaviors common with dementia and Alzheimer?s disease, it has not been uncommon for physicians to prescribe antipsychotic drugs to individuals in nursing home facilities, even when there is no diagnosis of schizophrenia or other serious mental illness for which these drugs are intended. In essence, the medications are being used as a chemical restraint.

In a 2018 study published by the Human Rights Watch,7 researchers found approximately 179,000 nursing home residents were being given antipsychotic drugs with the intent to control their behavior. Although the use of antipsychotic drugs has dropped by approximately 30 percent since 2012 when the government began a national partnership with nursing homes8 to reduce the use, a significant number of residents continue to receive prescription medications for which there is no medical cause.

Medicare and Medicaid Services have requested an additional 15 percent reduction by 2019, but Human Rights Watch contends this is not nearly enough.9 The study also strongly suggests informed consent procedures should be strengthened and nursing homes should have established minimum staffing levels in order to reduce the use of sedation to make it easier for the staff.

While the need to reduce risk of harm to an individual with dementia is real, the use of antipsychotic medications comes with a black box warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stating:10 ?Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.?

The Alzheimer?s Association11 suggests drugs to control behavior needs to be minimized, and only be used when the patient is at risk of harming themselves or others. The dosage should also be tailored to the individual?s symptoms and circumstances, and the physician must account for the underlying medical cause of dementia, as this may influence the selection of any medications chosen.

For instance, it is inadvisable for individuals with dementia with Lewy bodies (abnormal proteins inside nerve cells of Parkinson?s patients) to take antipsychotic drugs.12

Older Americans Take Too Many Drugs

The study from the Human Rights Watch underscores the necessity for greater control over prescription medications in the elderly population. Nearly 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 are taking at least five prescription medications each day to treat chronic health conditions.13 That figure increases to nearly 46 percent among those aged 70 to 79. While the overuse of painkillers has received national attention, the problem with multiple specialists and pharmacy use, and over prescription in the elderly, has not.

Adverse drug events occur in at least 15 percent of seniors, and in nearly half of those cases the problem may have been prevented with greater communication between physicians and pharmacies treating the same patient.14 Taking multiple prescriptions often result in side effects that may be misinterpreted as a new problem and thus trigger the prescription of yet another medication. This can be a gradual journey, occurring over several years.

Additional medications are often prescribed following hospitalization and many times are not communicated to the individuals? primary care physician. The elderly are at risk of overmedication and suffering side effects that can be life-threatening. A study published in 2015 showed Americans of all ages who took at least five prescription drugs had nearly doubled between 2000 and 2012.15

Another study from the University of Michigan reported those older than 65 taking at least three psychiatric medications had doubled between 1995 and 2004.16

University of Michigan geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Donovan Maust commented on a phenomenon he calls ?clinical inertia,? which he describes as a reluctance to change the status quo on patient medications or treatments that originated with another practitioner.17 For instance, when a physician inherits a new patient, the doctor often assumes drugs were prescribed for a good reason, even if that reason is not documented in the medical record.

Another study18 documented the overprescription of antidepressants in older adults, even in the absence of a major depressive disorder. In comparing emotional distress between two groups of older adults prescribed with antidepressants, the researchers found those who had better emotional health were prescribed antidepressants in the absence of major depressive disorder, suggesting further research is needed into the effectiveness of antidepressant medications in the elderly.

Opioid Epidemic Is a Powerful Example of Overprescription

The heroin and opioid epidemic is killing an ever-increasing number of Americans at an astonishing rate. In 2014, nearly 30,000 people died from opioids, known as narcotic prescription painkillers, and heroin.19 This number exceeded those who died from car accidents in the same year. Prescriptions for these medications has risen by 300 percent over the last 10 years, feeding a heroin epidemic when addicts are no longer allowed to refill prescriptions or surpass their tolerance for their prescription dosage.

In 2009, the American Geriatrics Society changed guidelines to recommend ?that over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, be used rarely and that doctors instead consider prescribing opioids for all patients with moderate-to-severe pain.?20 Recommendations such as this are driving the rise in prescription medications, especially narcotic painkillers.

The focus of these recommendations is not reduction of pain in the elderly, but rather the experts? financial ties to drug companies as paid speakers, consultants and advisers.21 According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), spending on opioids within the Medicare system has grown at a rate faster than spending on all drugs.22

The report clearly demonstrates Medicare recipients receive multiple prescriptions for opioids that are prescribed for reasons other than cancer pain or terminal illness (the traditional use of these strong medicines).23 Some states report prescription rates of over 40 percent in Medicare patients.24 Despite the number of opioids prescribed, there is no scientific evidence of long-term benefits from the use of these drugs.25

However, research does confirm the risk of addiction is high, and opioids have been identified as a gateway to heroin addiction when prescriptions are no longer available.26,27

Deprescribing Movement Slowly Gaining Momentum

Cardiologist Dr. Rita Redberg, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, is working with other physicians trying to reverse the trend of overprescription using a grassroots movement they call ?deprescribing.?28

This is a process of systematically discontinuing medications that either are duplicates of other medications the patient is already taking, or are unnecessary for care. The idea originally began in Canada and Australia, but is growing in the U.S., with the hope of reducing the number of drugs unnecessarily prescribed to seniors.

Dr. Ranit Mishori, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University, describes the challenges, saying:29 ?That's what we're taught as physicians: to prescribe drugs. We are definitely not taught how to take people off meds.? While support is growing for reducing the number of medications seniors are taking, the difficulty lies in understanding how best to do this safely.

Supporters are also facing advertising campaigns that encourage consumers to request medications and a strong inclination for physicians to continue treatment protocols established by their colleagues.

Talk Openly With Your Family and Physician About Prescription Medications

It is vital to the protection of your health and the health of your family that you speak openly with your physician and health care providers. Make sure you understand the side effects of medications, the necessity of the medication and whether there is potential for addiction. Also, inform your physician of other medications you use, and use one pharmacy to fill your prescriptions so the pharmacist is able to track potential drug interactions and adverse effects you may experience.

Before accepting a prescribed medication, speak with your physician about potential changes to lifestyle choices that may reduce your need for medication and improve your health. Consider alternative pain treatments that don't require medication and seek out a diet filled with organically grown, nongenetically modified whole foods. To help reduce your pain naturally and discover more about what you can do to prevent health problems, see my previous articles:

86 Percent of Teens Are Loaded With Gender-Bending Chemicals

By Dr. Mercola

Bisphenol-A (BPA) was first created by a Russian chemist in 1891, but wasn't used in the manufacture of products until the 1950s when it was used to produce resilient and often transparent plastics. Today, BPA is found in countless personal care products, water bottles, cashier receipts and the lining of canned goods.

Although research shows BPA is detrimental to human health, the market was valued at over $13 billion in 2013 and expected to reach $20 billion in 2020.1 Unfortunately, as the demand for BPA-free products is rising, substitute chemicals that are nearly identical to BPA are being substituted and thought to produce the same negative human health effects.

Recently, a study from the University of Exeter determined the extent to which BPA is found in the human population.2 The study was a collaborative research project between community-based resources (high school students) and the University of Exeter researchers.

BPA Found in Nearly 90 Percent of Teens

The study tested the urine and blood of 94 students in Great Britain and found 86 percent of the teenagers had hormone-disrupting contaminants in their system. Although currently legal in Europe, the European Chemicals Agency3 reclassified BPA in 2017 as a substance of "very high concern" as it has probable serious effects on human health.4

The research project was carried out in a real-world setting to provide students with the experience of scientific research. The students designed, participated in and published the study, including how changes in their lifestyle or diet may have an impact on the amount of BPA in their bodies.5

The results support several previous studies, including one by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of over 2,500 individual urine samples.6 This data is representative of exposure throughout the U.S., whereas the current study is a small sample of adolescent students from Great Britain.

The ubiquitous nature of BPA in the environment and marketplace makes it difficult to prevent exposure. Following the first round of testing, students were asked to avoid products that may contain BPA for one week.7 Follow-up testing revealed very little change in the students? urine and blood samples despite the short time BPA stays in the body. Tamara Galloway, Ph.D., ecotoxicologist from the University of Exeter, commented on the results of the study, saying:8

"Our students who followed the BPA-free diet reported that it would be difficult to follow it long term, because labeling of BPA products was inconsistent. They found it difficult to source and identify BPA-free foods."

BPA can be found in plastics used to protect foods, in the lining of cans, on-the-go drink bottles, plastic shower curtains and store receipts, just to name a few. Printed thermal cashier receipts use BPA in the manufacture of paper designed to react to heat. Disturbingly, research has demonstrated using hand sanitizer may increase your risk of absorbing BPA from your environment by a factor of 100 or more by changing the permeability of your skin.9

Following the study, the researchers from Exeter University called for better labeling on packaging in order to allow consumers to make healthier choices. Lorna Harries, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the University of Exeter Medical School, commented:10

"Most people are exposed to BPA on a daily basis. In this study, our student researchers have discovered that at the present time, given current labelling laws, it is difficult to avoid exposure by altering our diet. In an ideal world, we would have a choice over what we put into our bodies. At the present time, since it is difficult to identify which foods and packaging contain BPA, it is not possible to make that choice."

Children Are at Increased Risk

BPA is an estrogenic endocrine disruptor. In other words, it represents a complex risk to human health by mimicking, or partially mimicking, hormones that naturally occur in your body. This can produce overstimulation, or interfere or block the way in which hormones are made or controlled. The interruption in the endocrine system may produce negative results in reproductive, neurological and immune systems of both children and adults.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, research demonstrates endocrine disruptors have the greatest risk when exposure occurs during prenatal and early childhood development,11 as this is when organ and neurological systems are being formed and completed. Other studies have demonstrated that BPA also places young children at risk for future heart disease, independent of heart conditions related to obesity.12

Researchers have also uncovered a relationship between BPA and heart problems in adults. A research team from the University of Cincinnati studied how BPA affected male and female mice and found there is greater threat to a woman's heart health from exposure to BPA than to a man.13 The aim of the study was to determine the effects on heart function.

Male and female mice exhibited changes to blood pressure and heart rate, however the female mice could not handle the BPA exposure as well. Researchers have also identified an association between BPA and egg maturation in humans, interference with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland and a suggestion that these actions may affect puberty, ovulation and lead to infertility.14 

Effect on Health Care Cost Is Substantial

The impact on health care costs has been considerable. In a study evaluating the cost impact in Europe, researchers found chemical exposures add at least $175 billion to annual health care costs.15 The study included only those chemicals with the highest probability of causation for disease. A broader analysis would likely have resulted in a greater burden of disease and even higher health care costs.

The researchers detailed costs that were related to obesity, neurological disorders and male reproductive disorders believed to be the result of exposure to BPA. But the data included only 5 percent of all known endocrine disruptors, making this the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., microbiologist and director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, commented:16

"The point is that there is a wide variety of effects being seen in the general population related to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. We have increasing amount of data raising concerns about their use. We are seeing effects from [chemical] levels that are present in the general population."

Male impotence may also be affected. In one study, high levels of BPA increased the risk of problems with sexual desire, ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.17 Studies have associated even low-dose levels of BPA with heart disease, blood pressure changes, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, breast and prostate cancers.

Endocrine Disruption Dangers Start in the Womb

Dangers begin when infants are exposed before birth.18 Exposure to BPA has the potential to affect the developing brain as demonstrated in a study where researchers found an association between infant girls exposed to BPA before birth and behavioral problems, including anxiety and over activity. There did not appear to be a link between BPA measured in a pregnant woman's urine and male behavioral problems.

A study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)19 engaged the services of five laboratories to examine the umbilical cord blood of 10 African-American, Hispanic and Asian children. The researchers found more than 200 chemicals in each of the newborns, demonstrating the vulnerability of the developing infant to environmental exposure. Dr. Anila Jacob, senior scientist at EWG, commented on the results, saying:20

"We know the developing fetus is one of the most vulnerable populations, if not the most vulnerable, to environmental exposure. Their organ systems aren't mature and their detox methods are not in place, so cord blood gives us a good picture of exposure during this most vulnerable time of life."

Prenatal exposure may also increase your child's risk of wheezing as they become toddlers.21 This places children at greater risk for short- and long-term problems associated with asthma,22 including shortness of breath, difficulty with weight maintenance, obesity and poor quality sleep. For some people, this may also lead to remodeling of their airway, causing a loss of lung function and alteration in mucus production.23

Science Supports Claims BPA Is a Danger to Your Health

The number of independent, evidence-based scientific data continues to mount against the effects of BPA on human health. The United Nations Environmental Program in association with the World Health Organization produced a report24 outlining the negative health effects of BPA. However, the plastics industry has cast a doubt over this data. Both the sheer magnitude of distribution and convenience of the products produced make it difficult to determine how to reduce or eliminate this toxic chemical from human use.

It wasn't until 2002 that one of the first international reports on endocrine disrupting chemicals was written and presented to the international community.25 Evidence continues to grow supporting scientific statements that synthetic chemicals disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to disease across an individual?s life span. But, as these chemicals are lucrative for manufacturers, the industry fuels the debate with industry-biased information, called "manufactured doubt," to cover their investment.

The term "manufactured doubt" originated as the information communicated is more sleight of hand than evidence-based, driving policy actions affected by personal values and financial gain rather than concern for health. In an effort to further muddy the waters, industry groups such as the American Chemistry Council has called for "sound science" in the evaluation of endocrine-disrupting chemical data.

The origin of the term "sound science" can be traced back to use during original studies on the safety of tobacco. Author and epidemiologist David Michaels, Ph.D., notes:26

"The vilification of any research that might threaten corporate interests as ?junk science? and the sanctification of its own bought-and-paid-for research as ?sound science? is indeed Orwellian ? and nothing less than standard operating procedure today. But to give credit where credit is due, the sound science/junk science dichotomy has worked wonders as a public relations gimmick and has gained widespread acceptance in the current debate over the use of scientific evidence as policy."

Despite a large body of scientific evidence that BPA poses a significant threat to the health of children and adults, the industry continues to assure their consumers that BPA is safe for children. The U.S. Toy Association states:27 "No federal or state jurisdiction has restricted the use of BPA and toys." And the British Plastics Federation asserts28 "that at current exposure levels, plastics containing BPA pose no consumer health risks for any age group."

Another Industry Assures You?re Safe While Covering Up Health Risks

"The Devil We Know," a documentary released at the Sundance Film Festival, chronicles how former DuPont employees, residents and attorneys went up against the chemical company to expose the dangers of a toxin found in Teflon products.29 The chemical, C8, is found in stain and water-resistant apparel, dental floss and microwave popcorn bags, to name just a few.

However, C8 has been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases and reproductive problems.30 DuPont was aware that C8 was highly toxic yet continued to discharge it into the waterways around the manufacturing plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and sell it to the American public.

At first the company believed it was only those working in the factory who were affected by the chemical, but it wasn't long before it became clear that those who lived outside the factory were actually exposed to higher amounts of the toxin. At this point the company sent a team to collect water samples downstream and found the chemical had indeed been transported far from the plant.

When residents began experiencing symptoms, including tumors in themselves and their pets, they initiated research that eventually led to evidence C8 was responsible for the illness in their community and that DuPont was fully aware of how they were poisoning their factory workers, residents and consumers.31

Regulators Do Not Protect Your Health

These are but two examples of how regulators and governmental officials are either unable or unwilling to protect your health. In a commentary in Environmental Health News,32 epidemiologist, pediatrician and leading advocate of children?s health, Dr. Philip Landrigan, discusses the sad state of affairs that has befallen the environment and, by extension, human health. Exposure to toxins in your tap water, food, air and home increases your exposure to chemicals that have a history of triggering disease, illness and disability.

Children today are exposed to a far greater number of toxins than children just 20 years ago. Many of these chemicals have become widespread throughout the environment and found even in the deep trenches of the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. Biomonitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have routinely found toxins in umbilical cords as well as in the blood and urine of Americans of all ages.

In the U.S., chemicals are presumed safe until proven otherwise. In other words, manufacturers are given a free pass to use chemicals without evaluation for toxicity. Even after they've been proven to cause harm, action may not be taken. For example, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed an insecticide, chlorpyrifos, poses a significant threat to unborn babies, but EPA administrator Scott Pruitt refuses to take action.33

It has become incumbent on you to take responsibility for reducing exposure by controlling your personal environment and reducing the number of chemicals and toxins used. Within your own home, you decide what products to purchase and what to leave at the store.

Voting with your pocketbook has a significant effect on manufacturers. Look for products that are organic and choose to eat a mainly whole food diet that does not come prepackaged in plastic. Reducing the number of pesticides in your body also reduces your personal risk to illness.

Consider the same process in your own yard and garden at home, using pesticides as the ultimate last resort rather than your first choice. Consider using a whole house water filter and filtering the air you breathe at home. Take precautions while driving in heavy traffic and use your influence with other parents and your school administration to change your child?s school environment.

Finally, you can take action on a larger scale in your own city or town, state or even nationally. Elected officials have an enormous influence on the health of your child. Landrigan points out that it's important to remember democracy is not a spectator sport.34 For the health of your children and your grandchildren, everyone must become involved, even to the minimal extent of learning about government officials before you vote for them.

New Study Links Cellphone Radiation to Heart and Brain Tumors

By Dr. Mercola

Mounting evidence suggests electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation from cellphones can trigger abnormal cell growth and cancer.1,2 As early as 2011, the evidence was strong enough for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, to declare cellphones a Group 2B ?possible carcinogen.?3 Two government-funded studies4 bring renewed attention to this link.5,6,7,8

The $25 million research conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) ? an interagency research program started by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 1978 and now housed at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) ? includes two separate studies: one on mice and one on rats. The studies, in which 3,000 animals were exposed to the type of radiation emitted by 2G and 3G cellphones, are said to be the most extensive to date.

Cellphone Radiation Linked to Brain and Heart Tumors in Male Rats

The researchers found male rats were more likely to develop heart tumors, while female rats and newborns exposed to high levels of radiation during pregnancy and lactation were more likely to have low body weight. DNA damage and damage to heart tissue was also observed in both male and female rats, but not mice.

Other types of tumors did occur in both types of animals, though, including brain, prostate, liver and pancreatic tumors. According to the researchers, if these results can be confirmed, then cellphone radiation may indeed be a ?weak? carcinogen.

The animals in these studies were exposed to cellphone radiation for nine hours a day for two years (basically the full life span of a rat). According to the researchers, this level of exposure is far greater than what humans are exposed to, making it difficult to extrapolate the impact cellphone radiation might have on humans.

Personally, I disagree with this view, as many people, especially the younger generation, have their cellphones turned on and near their body 24/7. Many are literally sleeping with their phone beneath their pillow. Unless your phone is in a faraday bag, airplane mode or turned off completely, it is still emitting radiation, so you?re still exposing yourself to microwave radiation even when you?re not talking on the phone. I believe the fact that this reality is completely ignored is a serious oversight.

As noted by The New York Times,9 the heart tumors (malignant schwannomas) found in male rats are ?similar to acoustic neuromas, a benign tumor in people involving the nerve that connects the ear to the brain, which some studies have linked to cellphone use.? The scientists also expressed surprise at the finding of DNA damage, as the conventional belief is that nonionizing radiofrequency radiation cannot harm DNA.

?We don?t feel like we understand enough about the results to be able to place a huge degree of confidence in the findings,? John Bucher, Ph.D.,10 senior scientist at the National Toxicology Program told reporters. Bucher also noted that ?The patterns of damage to brain tissues in these animals are not particularly consistent with tumor outcomes.? To me, this statement offers no comfort whatsoever. Brain damage is brain damage, even if it doesn?t specifically lead to cancer!

Brain Tumors Are Not the Most Pressing Concern

In fact, the primary hazard of cellphone radiation is not brain cancer per se but rather systemic cellular and mitochondrial damage, which is harmful to health in general and can contribute to any number of health problems and chronic diseases. An estimated 80,000 U.S. men, women and children are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year.11 Meanwhile, 787,000 people die each year from heart disease.12 The relative rarity of brain cancer may lead you to believe that your cellphone is safe.

After all, when 91 percent of the adult population of the U.S. carries a cellphone13 and less than 0.02 percent14 develop a brain tumor, it may appear that using a cellphone is benign. The evidence shows it?s not. Even these NIH studies reveal DNA and cellular damage, even though the researchers insist there?s no explanation as to why. This, despite the fact that a number of other scientists and EMF specialists have presented evidence for a number of different mechanisms of harm.

For example, research15 by Allan Frey, Office of Naval Research, reveals cellphone radiation weakens cell membranes and your blood-brain barrier. Some of his experiments showed that dye injected into animals was able to penetrate into the brain when exposed to pulsed digital signals from microwaves. This research was done in the 1960s, before the introduction of cellphones. At the time, radar and microwaves were the main focus.

Today, these findings are particularly notable since cellphones are held close to the brain. The take-home message is that radiation from your cellphone weakens your blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins in your blood to enter your brain, and into the cells of your entire body. But that?s not all. Following I will summarize evidence produced by a number of other experts in the field, who claim to have identified one or more mechanisms of harm.

Same Data, Different Interpretations

Before I get into the mechanisms, it?s worth noting that when partial results from the NTP's animal studies were initially released two years ago, the findings were followed by a public health warning. In fact, the preliminary findings were released early because the researchers deemed it too important to wait.

Christopher Portier, Ph.D., retired head of the NTP who was involved in the launch of the study, insisted the findings showed clear causation. ?I would call it a causative study, absolutely,? he told Scientific American.16 ?They controlled everything in the study. It?s [the cancer] because of the exposure.?

In November 2016, David McCormick, Ph.D., director of the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute where the study was conducted, was equally clear, telling reporters,17 ?What we are saying here is that based on the animal studies, there is a possible risk cellphone RF [radio frequency] is potentially carcinogenic in humans. These are uncommon lesions in rodents, so it is our conclusion that they are exposure related."

As noted by Microwave News,18 while some of the pathology data was updated since the initial release in 2016, the changes are minor. The interpretation, however, has changed rather dramatically. Now, even though the findings haven?t changed, the NTP insists it?s ?not a high-risk situation? and that the risk to human health is negligible.

Microwave News lists a number of possible political reasons for the sudden turnaround, including new NTP leadership, the current White House administration?s disdain for science that threatens big business, and the fact that the major telecommunications players today are Apple, Google and Microsoft ? all major Wall Street darlings. Whatever the reason, it?s clear the NTP is now downplaying findings that, just two years ago, were considered of significant importance for public health.

Please Write the US Government to Express Your Concerns 

Remember that you have power and can make a difference. You have done it in the past and can do it again. Let's rise up in mass and express the massive whitewashing that is being catalyzed by the telecommunications industry to suppress the truth and expose you and your family to dangerous levels of EMF so they can increase their profits.  You can simply send an email by MARCH 12 to Canden Byrd ntp-meetings@icf.com.  I am confident that with your support we can start to make a difference.

EMFs Produce Potent Oxidant Stressors

Martin Pall, Ph.D., has identified and published research describing the likely molecular mechanisms of how EMFs from cellphones and wireless technologies damage plants, animals and humans.19,20,21,22 The process begins when low?frequency microwave radiation activates voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs)23 ? channels in the outer membrane of your cells. Once activated, the VGCCs open up, allowing an abnormal influx of calcium ions into the cell.

This increased intracellular calcium and the accompanying increase in calcium signaling appears to be responsible for a majority of the damage that occurs.

The excess calcium activates nitric oxide, and while nitric oxide has many health benefits, massively excessive nitric oxide reacts with superoxide, producing peroxynitrites, extremely potent oxidant stressors believed to be a root cause for many of today?s chronic diseases.24 Nitric oxide is the only molecule in your body produced at high enough concentrations to outcompete other molecules for superoxide and is a precursor for peroxynitrite.25

Inside your body, peroxynitrites modify tyrosine molecules in proteins to create a new substance, nitrotyrosine and nitration of structural protein.26 Changes from nitration are visible in human biopsy of atherosclerosis, myocardial ischemia, inflammatory bowel disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and septic lung disease.27

Significant oxidative stress from peroxynitrites may also result in single-strand breaks of DNA.28 This pathway of oxidative destruction ? triggered by low?frequency radiation emitted from mobile devices ? may partially explain the unprecedented growth rate of chronic disease since 1990,29 and is a far greater concern than brain tumors.

EMFs More Likely to Cause Neurological Dysfunction, Heart Problems and Infertility Than Brain Cancer

According to Pall?s theory, the physical locations where VGCCs are the densest are indicative of the diseases you might expect from chronic excessive exposure to EMFs. As it turns out, the highest density of VGCCs are found in your nervous system, the pacemaker in your heart and in male testes. As a result, EMFs are likely to contribute to neurological and neuropsychiatric problems, heart and reproductive problems.

Indeed, studies dating back to the 1950s and ?60s show the nervous system is the organ most sensitive to EMFs. Some of these studies show massive changes in the structure of neurons, including cell death and synaptic dysfunction. When the VGCCs are activated in the brain they release neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine hormones.

In animals exposed to EMFs there are massive, cumulative effects in the brain. Genetic polymorphism studies also show that elevated VGCC activity in certain parts of the brain produces a variety of neuropsychiatric effects.

Hence, consequences of chronic EMF exposure to the brain include anxiety, depression, autism and Alzheimer?s disease, which Pall details in a 2016 paper.30 Research also suggests excessive EMF exposure is contributing to reproductive problems in both sexes.

Most recently, researchers showed prenatal exposure to power-frequency fields can nearly triple a pregnant woman?s risk of miscarriage.31 According to lead author and senior research scientist at Kaiser Permanente?s research division, Dr. De-Kun Li,32 ?This study provides fresh evidence, directly from a human population, that magnetic field exposure in daily life could have adverse health impacts,? adding his findings ?should bring attention to this potentially important environmental hazard to pregnant women.?

According to Li, there are at least six other studies, in addition to two of his own, showing this link.33,34,35,36,37 EMF exposure may also play a significant role in testicular cancer and male infertility. Studies have linked low-level electromagnetic radiation exposure from cellphones to an 8 percent reduction in sperm motility and a 9 percent reduction in sperm viability.38,39 Wi-Fi equipped laptop computers have also been linked to decreased sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation after just four hours of use.40

Excessive Charges Alter Cellular Function

Alasdair Philips, founder of the Power Watch41 ? a British organization committed to uncovering EMFs? effects on health ? believes there?s even more to it than what Pall has discovered. He references Gerald Pollack?s work on the fourth phase of water, so-called exclusion zone (EZ) water, which is the kind of water you have in your body.

?It's a completely different model of how the cell functions,? Philips says. ?The cell functions as a gel, if you like, held together by electric charge. The calcium-gated channel is part of that, but actually, it isn't a membrane with a few things sticking through it.

It's actually ? electric charges on molecules. Yes, Pall's [hypothesis] is very important and it's probably one of the key mechanisms, but there's a whole lot of things ? [T]he cell is just malfunctioning because it's got so much charge? [I]t?s an enormous incoming stream of electrons, and that changes completely what the cells are doing.?

EMFs Impair Proton Flow and ATP Production

Paul Héroux, Ph.D., professor of toxicology and health effects of electromagnetism at the faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, also stresses the impact EMFs have on the water in your body. The mechanism of action proposed by Héroux involves the enzyme ATP synthase, which passes currents of protons through a water channel (similar to current passing through a wire).

The protons have to go through about 20 molecules of water to get through this channel. ATP synthase is extremely ancient and common to all living systems. It basically generates energy in the form ATP from ADP, using this flow of protons.

Magnetic fields can change the transparency of the water channel to protons, thereby reducing the current. As a result, you get less ATP, which can have system wide consequences, from promoting chronic disease and infertility to lowering intelligence. Héroux explains:

?When you impair the flow of protons to ATP synthase, you increase mitochondrial membrane polarization ? If you increase the polarization of the mitochondria by 14 percent, you will have a 70 percent increase in the reactive oxygen species coming out of complex one, which is the leading edge of the oxidative phosphorylation chain.

Essentially, my explanation is that by physical action on water, you can change the transparency of the most critical enzyme in the human body, modulate the amount of ATP, increase the escape of electrons from complex one; thereby explaining practically all of the observations related to EMF. Of course, the moment ATP is perturbed in a cell, there are calcium signals being emitted all over the place, because calcium is possibly the most critical intracellular messenger.?

While Pall?s work focuses on EMFs? effects on calcium ions, Héroux focuses on its impact on electrons and protons, which are far more sensitive to magnetic fields. But although the mechanisms of action are slightly different, the end result is more or less identical and hinges on the fact that EMFs increase oxidative stress and decrease ATP.

In a nutshell, what we?re talking about here is the creation of excess oxidative stress, which in turn can damage cell membranes and proteins, and break DNA bonds. Interviews with Philips and Héroux should be released shortly, so keep your eyes open for them to learn more.

Protecting Yourself From Excessive EMF Is Important for Optimal Health

As you can see, a number of different mechanisms of harm have already been proposed, so the claim that there?s ?no evidence? of harm, and that scientists have ?no idea? of how harmful effects such as those found by the NIH might occur, simply isn?t true. There?s even evidence suggesting that radiation affects your microbiome, turning what might otherwise be beneficial microbes pathogenic. This too can have far-ranging health effects, since we now know your microbiome plays an important role in health.

France is imposing a complete ban on cellphone use by students during school hours.42 The ban, which takes effect in September 2018, will affect primary and secondary schools. Students will not be permitted to use their phones even at breaks, lunch or between classes. California also recently issued consumer guidance on how to lower cellphone radiation exposure (after initially trying to cover up the hazards).43

There?s no doubt in my mind that EMF exposure is a significant health hazard that needs to be addressed if you?re concerned about your health. Here are several suggestions that will help reduce your EMF exposure:

Connect your desktop computer to the internet via a wired Ethernet connection and be sure to put your desktop in airplane mode. Also avoid wireless keyboards, trackballs, mice, game systems, printers and portable house phones. Opt for the wired versions.

If you must use Wi-Fi, shut it off when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping. Ideally, work toward hardwiring your house so you can eliminate Wi-Fi altogether. If you have a notebook without any Ethernet ports, a USB Ethernet adapter will allow you to connect to the internet with a wired connection.

Shut off the electricity to your bedroom at night. This typically works to reduce electrical fields from the wires in your wall unless there is an adjoining room next to your bedroom. If that is the case you will need to use a meter to determine if you also need to turn off power in the adjacent room.

Use a battery-powered alarm clock, ideally one without any light. I use a talking clock for the visually impaired.44

If you still use a microwave oven, consider replacing it with a steam convection oven, which will heat your food as quickly and far more safely.

Avoid using ?smart? appliances and thermostats that depend on wireless signaling. This would include all new ?smart? TVs. They are called smart because they emit a Wi-Fi signal, and unlike your computer, you cannot shut the Wi-Fi signal off. Consider using a large computer monitor as your TV instead, as they don?t emit Wi-Fi.

Refuse smart meters as long as you can, or add a shield to an existing smart meter, some of which have been shown to reduce radiation by 98 to 99 percent.45

Consider moving your baby?s bed into your room instead of using a wireless baby monitor. Alternatively, use a hard-wired monitor.

Replace CFL bulbs with incandescent bulbs. Ideally remove all fluorescent lights from your house. Not only do they emit unhealthy light, but more importantly, they will actually transfer current to your body just being close to the bulbs.

Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body unless in airplane mode and never sleep with it in your bedroom unless it is in airplane mode. Even in airplane mode it can emit signals, which is why I put my phone in a Faraday bag.46

When using your cellphone, use the speaker phone and hold the phone at least 3 feet away from you. Seek to radically decrease your time on the cellphone. I typically use my cellphone less than 30 minutes a month, and mostly when traveling. Instead, use VoIP software phones that you can use while connected to the internet via a wired connection.

Helping People Eat Healthy Food Is Illegal

By Dr. Mercola

While living in California, Heather Kokesch Del Castillo made a living as a holistic health coach, founding Constitution Nutrition in 2014 and providing one-on-one health coaching for clients. No licensing is required in California to provide dietary counseling, but Del Castillo sought out licensing privately anyway and completed a certification program in New York for holistic health coaching.

Her husband, who is in the military, was then transferred to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where Del Castillo naturally continued on with her successful coaching, helping clients eat healthy, lose weight and live better lives.1 That is, until 2017 when she received an email from "Pat Smith," posing as a prospective client. It turned out he was actually an undercover agent with the Florida Department of Health, who later showed up at her door with a cease-and-desist letter and a $754 fine.

A licensed dietician had reported Del Castillo for helping people to eat healthy food without a license, which is required to practice nutrition/dietetics in the state. If she didn't stop, she would face jail time and more fines ? $1,000 for each "offense" ? so she closed her doors and "has been turning away willing clients ever since," the Institute for Justice (IJ) reported.

However, she hasn't given up just yet. With the help of IJ, a law firm for liberty and advocate for First Amendment rights, Del Castillo filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health in a First Amendment lawsuit:2

"On October 3, 2017, Heather joined with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to strike down Florida's unconstitutional restrictions on who can give safe dietary advice that customers want to buy. Together, Heather and IJ will vindicate her right ? and the rights of all Floridians ? to offer nutrition advice and health coaching without the fear of being prosecuted or shut down by the government."

Spreading Healthy Dietary Advice Is a Crime?

No one would argue that it's against the law to chat with a friend about a certain food or dietary program. Nor would it be illegal to recommend one to an acquaintance, share one on a blog or even write a book about the topic. "In fact, under Florida law, it would be perfectly legal if Heather published her advice in a book," IJ notes, which is what makes it all the more puzzling that giving out the same advice in person is regarded as a crime.

For those wondering why Del Castillo didn't simply take the extra steps to become licensed in Florida, it was a burdensome process that would have required significant time and money.

First, she would have to earn a bachelor's degree with a major in nutrition or a related field, then complete 900 hours of supervised practice, pass a dietitian exam and pay additional fees. This is a military family, remember, so she may only be living in Florida for another couple of years ? at which point she'd be moving to a new location that could have entirely new licensing requirements.

"Occupational licensing boards are increasingly operating as special-interest censors, while licensed practitioners ? eager to keep out would-be competitors ? often scour advertising spaces in search of people to file complaints against," IJ noted.3

Occupational licensing laws disproportionately harm military families who frequently move from state to state, yet are unable to transfer their professional credentials across state borders. However, at the base of the lawsuit is the fact that ordering this holistic health coach to cease-and-desist is a violation of the First Amendment. According to IJ:4

"[U]nder binding Supreme Court precedent, laws that restrict speech based on its subject matter are subject to the most rigorous level of constitutional scrutiny. Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the mere fact that a person is paid for their speech has no effect on its level of constitutional protection.

In this case, there is no possibility that the state of Florida can satisfy the highest level of constitutional scrutiny ? In this area, as in most areas of life, the First Amendment protects the right of listeners to decide for themselves which speakers are worth listening to."

'Caveman Blogger' Fought for Right to Offer Nutrition Advice ? and Won

Del Castillo's case is not unique in the U.S. Health and nutrition blogger Steve Cooksey, whose blog features nutrition principles based on the Paleo Diet, received a 19-page letter from the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, complete with threats of arrest. Like Del Castillo, he was accused of dispensing a type of "nutrition advising" or "nutrition counseling" without a license.

The board ordered that Cooksey take down the nutritional advice or face prosecution ? and even said he could not offer such advice for free to friends over the phone or email!

Cooksey enlisted the help of the Institute for Justice and filed a free speech lawsuit against the State Board in 2012. "In February 2015, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition surrendered and issued new guidelines making clear that Cooksey and other speakers like him have the right, for free or for pay, to offer advice and guidance on nutritional issues," IJ reported.5 It was a major victory, but 21 U.S. states still have nutritional licensing laws in place that restrict the freedom of food speech.

As reported by CrossFit bloggers Russell Berger and Russ Greene, "Nutritional licensure largely traces back to a special interest group, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [AND]. Not surprisingly, the AND often grants special treatment to AND-certified nutritionists and dietitians, at the expense of fitness trainers, health coaches and anyone else who would like to warn others about junk food."6

AND Threatens Your Freedom of Choice About Health and Nutrition

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the U.S. American Dietetic Association (ADA)) is threatening your freedom of choice about whom you consult for nutrition and dietary advice. Their mission is to censor the broader nutrition community, which includes many well trained and educated practitioners, such that you get your nutritional advice only from one of their conventionally trained Registered Dietitians (RD), who has undergone nutritional brainwashing and sticks to the official party line.

Many are not aware that AND has been partnered with and sponsored by junk-food giants, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars and Kellogg.7 Besides showcasing their food products, they were also allowed to sponsor or hold educational sessions at the meeting. Coca-Cola has even sponsored ongoing educational webinars year-round in which registered dietitians were "educated" by Coca-Cola to get continuing education credits.

According to Michele Simon, president of Eat, Drink, Politics, an industry watchdog consulting group, and author of the report, "And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: Are America's Nutrition Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food?": "Among the messages taught in Coca-Cola-sponsored continuing education courses are: sugar is not harmful to children; aspartame is completely safe, including for children over one year."8

Since that report came out in 2013, it seems AND cleaned up their corporate sponsorship somewhat, although as of 2017 they still count Splenda and Campbell Soup Company (parent company of highly processed foods like Spaghettio-Os, Goldfish crackers and Pepperidge Farm cookies) among their sponsors.9 Still, dietary advice from many RDs is likely to be heavily biased by information from food-industry bigwigs. It's not a coincidence that, as The Russells reported:10

"In every single case where nutritionists and dietitians attempted to suppress food speech, the victim had recommended cutting back on refined carbohydrates and added sugar. We know of no exceptions.

Nor have we found a single case where the dietetics lobby ever went after the proxies of Coca-Cola, Nestlé and the like for giving patently false nutritional information. If licensure is about protecting the public, why do dietitians and nutritionists always use it against sugar opponents and never go after food industry apologists?"

In fact, even RDs that dare to share nutrition advice that's "outside the box" may be in jeopardy in AND's eyes. Cassie Bjork, RD, former licensed dietician, is one such example. She gave up her dietitian license after fighting with her state licensing board for five years over what nutritional advice she could give:11

"I told my clients to forget fat-free or low-fat and embrace full-fat diets; to eschew calorie counting and eat more of the right things; to swap out margarine for good old-fashioned butter; to quit slaving at the gym and work out less but more efficiently ? the board didn't like what I was doing.

They didn't think I should be talking about thyroid, hormones, supplements or really anything other than low-fat, no-fat, low-cal food. The results I got for clients, in the end, didn't matter. They wanted me to stick to 'the rules.' And so I had a choice: I could change how and what I teach, or I could relinquish my license."

Is AND Seeking a Nutritional Therapy Monopoly?

It's interesting that a licensed dietician was responsible for tipping off the Florida Department of Health about Del Castillo's holistic health coaching, as the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH-USA) has previously uncovered government surveillance, undercover sting operations and other suspicious activity by state dietetic and health boards ? all similar to what was experienced directly by Del Castillo.

"ANH-USA has uncovered widespread surveillance (including undercover sting operations), aggressive investigations, and prosecutions of nutrition professionals.

These actions, together with the levying of criminal penalties, have been undertaken by state health departments and state dietetics boards that are enforcing monopolistic laws sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. More often than not, they are supported by local law enforcement or the offices of state attorneys general.

The AND ? is not a medical organization, but a trade group that represents the interests of Registered Dietitians (RDs, who are certified by the AND's credentialing arm). The AND has about [100,000] members. These non-RD nutrition professionals are being targeted by these states' RD monopoly laws, despite the fact that many of them have advanced degrees and a tremendous number of clinical hours to their credit.

They are being prosecuted for 'practicing dietetics without a license' or for referring to themselves as 'a nutritionist' in media or marketing materials. One of the AND's key agenda items is to pass 'scope-of-practice' laws in each state whereby only RDs can legally offer nutrition services ? even basic services like providing nutrition advice or nutrition consulting."12

While AND claims its licensing standards are in the interest of protecting public health, this would imply that seeking nutritional information from someone other than an RD is dangerous. But AND has not provided evidence of adverse events or harm occurring in any such cases.

Instead, ANH-USA points out, "The thrust behind the inclusion of nutritionists in ADA's licensing legislation is to eliminate competition. This is what we call a monopoly. When ADA controls the practice of nutritional therapy and determines the terms on which individuals have access ? you have a monopoly."13

As it stands, in states that have laws under which only RDs can provide information about healthy food and diet, your health freedom is at risk. While it's reasonable for AND to require anyone calling themselves an RD to undergo their specified training and requirements, it's a whole other matter to seek to eliminate all other competition from the marketplace and turn others seeking to provide nutritional advice into criminals.

This harms everyone who seeks the freedom of choice in where to get nutritional information. And, as ANH-USA pointed out, "This explicitly excludes other nutrition professionals who are often better educated, more experienced, and better qualified than RDs. For example, a Ph.D. in nutrition may be told he or she may not legally offer nutrition advice, while a college-educated member of the AND can."14

By the way, in another attempt to monopolize all nutrition designations, AND also added an optional new registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) credential, making a point to highlight "every registered dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist is a registered dietician."15

Whom you decide to trust when making changes to your diet can make or break your health, but, as a consumer, be aware that the credentials after your nutritionist's (or dietician's, or health coach's) name are not necessarily the deciding factor in whether or not they're providing you with valuable nutrition information. Ultimately, be sure such information is coming from an independent, unbiased source ? not one that's beholden to industry or silenced by bureaucratic red tape.

Federal Agency Kills Kratom

By Dr. Mercola

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing its crusade to take down kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), a plant in the coffee family that?s earned the reputation for being an alternative to opioids. Native to tropical Southeast Asia, people in the area have used kratom leaves as an herbal remedy for centuries not only to relieve pain but also to increase energy and enhance well-being.

According to the American Kratom Association (AKA), a grassroots advocacy organization that is trying to keep kratom legal, kratom is not a drug, an opiate or a synthetic substance. In fact, they state it?s more like coffee and tea than any other substances. That said, kratom binds to some of the same opioid receptor sites as opioid drugs, which may be why many people find it so effective.

?Chocolate, coffee, exercise and even human breast milk hit these receptor sites in a similar fashion,? AKA notes.1 The FDA, however, in their latest statement against this age-old plant, is using this fact to ?underscore its potential for abuse? and otherwise warn people to stop taking the remedy.2

FDA Says Scientific Analysis Provides ?Even Stronger Evidence? Against Kratom

In November 2017, the FDA issued a public health advisory regarding risks associated with kratom use, suggesting that its usage could ?expand the opioid epidemic.? The FDA claimed at the time that calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding kratom increased tenfold from 2010 to 2015 and said 36 deaths were associated with the use of kratom-containing products.3

They also cited ?serious side effects? like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms associated with its use although, as the Huffington Post noted, ?[T]hese potentially deadly symptoms don?t appear in any sort of discernible pattern in the cases the FDA cites, and they?re not well-documented elsewhere.?4 In February 2018, the FDA?s latest warning was released, this time with supposedly ?even stronger evidence? of kratom?s potential for abuse.

The agency tested kratom using its Public Health Assessment via Structural Evaluation (PHASE) methodology, a 3-D computer program normally reserved for evaluating the abuse potential of newly identified street drugs. The technology looks at how a substance is structured at a molecular level, how it might behave inside your body and how it may affect your brain.

When testing kratom, the FDA analyzed the 25 most prevalent compounds in the plant, concluding ?all of the compounds share the most structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.? They then moved on to determine the plant?s potential targets in the body, predicting that 22 of the 25 compounds bind to mu-opioid receptors and two of the top five most prevalent compounds in kratom activate opioid receptors.

?The new data provides even stronger evidence of kratom compounds? opioid properties,? the FDA said, noting that some of the compounds may bind to receptors in the brain that impact neurologic and cardiovascular function, which they said could contribute to side effects like seizures and respiratory depression.

In addition, the agency said kratom binds strongly to mu-opioid receptors, ?comparable to scheduled opioid drugs.? Taken together, the FDA then decided that kratom should be deemed a drug: ?Based on the scientific information in the literature and further supported by our computational modeling and the reports of its adverse effects in humans, we feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids.?5

Yet, as kratom researcher Andrew Kruegel, a Columbia University chemist, told the Huffington Post, ?They don?t have to do this to claim that kratom is an opioid, because it is ? But the question is whether it?s an atypical opioid, which is my preferred terminology. Does it have a better side effect profile than the classical opioid drugs like morphine that we use every day? That?s the key question here.?6

Kratom Has Mild Risks Compared to Opioids

In August 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative followed, including a petition with over 140,000 signatures against it, so the agency reversed its decision.

But the FDA?s latest warning seems to be a clear push to make kratom illegal in the U.S. after all. It?s a sad fact that more than 91 Americans fatally overdose on opioids every day,7 and of the more than 33,000 Americans killed by opioids in 2015, nearly half of them involved a prescription for the drugs.8 Yet, the FDA allows opioids to be dispensed with abandon while now singling out kratom, which many believe to be a safer alternative for those struggling with chronic pain or even opioid addiction.

AKA points out that kratom?s risk profile appears far safer than that of opioids or even other pain relievers like acetaminophen. In November 2016, AKA also released a report by Jack Henningfield, Ph.D., vice president of research, health policy and abuse liability at PinneyAssociates, concluding that there is ?insufficient evidence? for the DEA to ban or restrict kratom under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The report, which includes more than 50 pages of testimonies from responsible kratom users, analyzed the eight factors of the CSA, concluding the DEA had no grounds for CSA scheduling of kratom, let alone a ban:

"Based on all lines of evidence considered in the 8-factor analysis, kratom's potential for abuse, tolerance, and dependence is lower than that of many schedule IV and V drugs and is well within the range of many nonscheduled drugs and substances (e.g., caffeine, nasal nicotine spray, fluoxetine, bupropion, dextromethorphan).

Although kratom and its primary alkaloids MG and 7-OH-MG share certain characteristics with controlled substances, as do many nonscheduled substances, there does not appear to be a public health risk that would warrant control of kratom products or their alkaloids under the CSA."9

In fact, AKA noted that according to Henningfield?s analysis, ?[K]ratom?s potential for abuse and dependence is no greater than such widely used and unscheduled substances as ?nutmeg, hops, St. John?s Wort, chamomile, guarana and kola nut.?

Are Kratom Deaths Really Caused by Kratom?

The latest FDA statement cited 44 deaths related to kratom, up from the 36 cited in November. Yet, a closer look at the deaths reveals, at best, sloppy reporting and, at worst, a tendency to blame kratom for deaths it did not cause. According to the Huffington Post:10

"Almost all of the FDA's cases involve subjects who were found to be on multiple substances at the time of their death, with the vast majority including either illicit or prescription drugs that carry well-known fatal risks. One incident describes a teenager who had hanged himself after struggling with depression and prescription drug abuse. He tested positive for a variety of drugs, including kratom, as well as alcohol and a handful of prescription drugs."

The Post revealed numerous cases that were linked to kratom only by a thread, like a man who had ?fallen out a window, broken his arm and refused treatment before dying? who was found to have nine substances in his bloodstream, one of which was mitragynine, the primary active substance in kratom. Another ?kratom death? was a man who died from complications of deep vein thrombosis and another ruled a ?death by homicide due to a gunshot wound to the chest.?11

In another example, a Tennessee news outlet broadcast a quote from a Georgia county coroner claiming there had been 17 deaths linked to kratom in Georgia in 2017. AKA has called on the TV station to retract the ?fake news? report, as they say there is nothing in the public medical record showing even one death linked to kratom.12

Henningfield?s report further reiterated the lack of evidence that kratom has led to any deaths, noting, ?To date, in the U.S., there have been no confirmed reports of death that can be considered ?causatively? due to kratom overdose. How many, if any deaths, are ?probably? classified as kratom poisoning deaths is not clear.

This is consistent with the far larger and longer Southeast Asian experience of very few serious adverse events. In both the U.S. and Southeast Asia, the low toxicity of kratom is in striking contrast to the experience with opioids.?13

Is FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Helping Glaxo?

An estimated 3 million to 5 million Americans use kratom, which in the absence of many reports of adverse effects or substance abuse could be evidence in itself of kratom?s safety.14 Further, many of these people rely on kratom because they found opioids to be too dangerous or too addictive. By banning kratom, it could drive more people to seek out prescription opioids, which are known to be deadly, or drive them to purchase kratom on the black market.

If the FDA were really concerned about public health, they would not lump a diverse group of deaths that happened to involve kratom as ?kratom-caused deaths.? Instead, the would seek to identify the true culprit as well as conduct a comprehensive review on kratom?s safety profile and potential benefits, particularly in comparison to opioids. Yet, what we?re seeing is a curious push from the FDA to warn the public about kratom, perhaps in preparation for its eventual ban.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, it?s important to note, has close ties to Big Pharma, having received more than $400,000 from the industry between 2013 and 2015,15 and millions over the course of his career.16

Prior to joining the FDA, he served on the board of three pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, whose predecessor Smith Kline & French held patents on certain alkaloids isolated from kratom.17 The patents, which were issued in the 1960s, have since expired, but there is much speculation about whether Gottlieb is targeting kratom to protect GlaxoSmithKline or some of his other Big Pharma allies.

In the FDA warning, it?s mentioned that ?[w]e have been especially concerned about the use of kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms? along with a suggestion to use one of three FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of opioid addiction (a vicious cycle in which drug companies profit on both ends of the opioid epidemic, selling drugs that both cause the addiction and treat it).

But, as noted in The Journal of the American Ostepathic Association, in a systematic analysis of kratom user reports, ?[T]he vast majority of users reported beneficial effects in the management of opioid withdrawal and pain, depression and anxiety.?18

There is so much beneficial potential suggested by kratom research to date ? and such a wealth of science about prescription opioids? harms ? that it would seem remiss for the FDA to brush off or, worse, ban this herbal supplement that appears to be far safer than opioid drugs ? unless an ulterior motive was at play. The Journal of the American Ostepathic Association report continued:19

?One strong piece of evidence suggesting that kratom may have extensive therapeutic potential is that several U.S. patents have either been issued or are pending for companies and individuals who are interested in developing kratom-based drugs. These patents would not have been submitted or issued unless there was evidence for medicinal applications of kratom-derived substances.?

Even Kratom Should Be Used With Caution

While kratom appears to have a favorable safety profile compared to opioids, this isn?t to say that kratom usage is without risk. It?s important to recognize that kratom is a psychoactive substance and should not be used carelessly. There's very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next.

Also, while it may be useful for weaning off opioids, kratom itself may be addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it's still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it. Also, please understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers. If you?re looking for safer options for pain relief than opioid drugs, please see these options for treating pain without drugs.

Medical Board Ordered to Pay Millions for Harassment

By Dr. Mercola

Over the years, it's become increasingly evident that medical licensing boards are misusing their considerable power over doctors to impede free speech and maintain the status quo of the medical industry, which in large part is dictated by drug company interests. Any doctor who "steps out of line" can easily be reined back in by the threat of having his or her license revoked.

In this way, medical boards ensure that "standard practice" is maintained ? even when standard practice does more harm than good, or goes against a doctor's sense of integrity or medical expertise.

In 2012, a large National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study presented evidence in support of chelation therapy for people with cardiovascular disease.1 The trial to assess chelation therapy (TACT), demonstrated that by removing heavy metals from patients with coronary disease, incidence of death, heart attacks, stroke, coronary revascularization and angina was lowered, occurring at a rate of 26.5 percent in the treatment group compared to 30 percent in the placebo group.

Interestingly, diabetic patients, which made up one-third of the participants, benefited the most. Chelation therapy has been a controversial topic for many years, and its popularity among alternative health practitioners has been widely criticized as unscientific, unnecessary and potentially dangerous. The results from TACT were therefore highly unexpected. It was the kind of "inconvenient" evidence that gave alternative practitioners the ammunition they needed.

The Case of Dr. Geier

Enter Dr. Mark Geier, a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in genetics, who spent 10 years of his scientific career at the NIH, wrote more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers and worked as a professor of genetics at Johns Hopkins University. In the video above, Geier discusses some of his work and his involvement in the effort to make vaccines safer. Over his three decades' long study of vaccine efficacy and safety, Geier came to believe mercury was a liability.

More specifically, he argued for the idea that mercury binds to testosterone, and the treatment protocol he developed involved the use of the testosterone-suppressing drug leuprolide (Lupron) and chelation. Lupron is used in the conventional treatment of precocious puberty.

Off-label, the drug is also used to chemically castrate sex offenders. While I had some personal disagreements with his use of dangerous drugs loaded with side effects, like Lupron, in his detoxification protocol, he was certainly correct in identifying mercury as a pernicious toxin.

As reported by The Washington Post,2 Lupron is "considered dangerous for young people and not known to alleviate symptoms of [autism]," and in 2011, the Maryland Board of Physicians suspended his license over his continued use of the treatment.3 Over the next two years, all 12 of his medical licenses were suspended, and several were revoked altogether, including his Maryland license.

The story might well have ended there, had it not been for the Maryland Board of Physicians' decision to continue to pursue and humiliate Geier, and Geier suing the board for harassment ? and winning.4

Medical Board Sued for Harassment 

In 2012, the medical board claimed Geier was prescribing drugs for himself and his family even though his license was suspended. A public cease-and-desist order posted online included a list of the specific drugs Geiger had allegedly prescribed for himself, his wife and his son ? a serious violation of the health insurance portability and accountability (HIPAA) law, which protects patients' privacy and health information.5

The Geiers say they were "horrified" when they realized their private medical details were on show for all the world to see, and critics indeed seized the opportunity to bring even more public attention to it by mocking their use of the medicines in various blog posts and online forums. During a 2014 deposition, Geier's wife Anne said, "How would you feel if somebody put your medical records up and then they laughed at you and made fun of you? They humiliate you. The whole thing has just ruined my life."

While the medical board claims the inclusion of such private details was "an honest mistake," the Geiers sued the board, arguing the publication of their health information was an act of vengeance, aimed at punishing Geier for advocating unconventional ideas, specifically the idea that thimerosal-containing vaccines may play a role in autism.

Making matters worse, an administrative law judge determined the allegations against Geier were meritless to begin with, as Geier was not the prescribing doctor; his son, David Geier, was.     

Ruling: Maryland Medical Board Ordered to Pay $2.5 Million

As reported by The Washington Post February 3:6

"? Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin sided with the Geiers, awarding them $2.5 million in damages. He called the order a significant breach of medical privacy and accused the board and its staff of failing to preserve emails related to the case and pleading ignorance about the order on the witness stand.

'If their testimony were to be believed, which the court does not, it is the worst case of collective amnesia in the history of Maryland government and on par with the collective memory failure on display at the Watergate hearings,' Rubin wrote in a December opinion.

He ordered 14 board appointees, the board's lead attorney and the lead investigator on the Geier case to pay half of the damages out of their own pockets, between $10,000 and $200,000 apiece, depending on their net worth."

The fact that the board members are being held personally liable is a first. Normally, taxpayers foot the entire bill when government officials are caught in wrongdoing. But as noted by The Bolen Report,7 "[W]hat the officials of the Maryland Board of Physicians did was not in pursuit of the people's business. It was for pharma profit." Fortunately, this time the scheme backfired, delivering a very real sting.

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Medical boards have gained tremendous power over doctors' ability to practice medicine that is outside the standard of care, and while standards are certainly needed to protect patients, one could easily argue that medical boards have taken to misusing that power. As the saying goes,8

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Geier's case is just one among many examples showing that license revocation and other career-ending punishments are being used to stifle not only free speech but also free thinking and, indeed, the open-minded investigation that should be a cornerstone of science itself.

Doctors who question or even express an interest in having an open discussion about vaccines are particularly vulnerable to harassment and intimidation. For example, last year Dr. Daniel Neides, medical director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, was fired after publishing an article in which he questioned the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine ? questioning triggered by his own experience of getting violently ill after receiving a flu shot, even though it was thimerosal-free.

"Within 12 hours of receiving the vaccine, I was in bed feeling miserable and missed two days of work with a terrible cough and body aches," he wrote.9 Four other administrators who received the same vaccine had the same reaction. Puzzled by these coincidences, he decided to investigate vaccines a bit further, and he didn't like what he found. But this vaccine anecdote was not the main gist of the article.

Neides was actually speaking about the "constant toxic burden that is contributing to the chronic disease epidemic" in broader terms, urging people to take matters into their own hands and do what's necessary to protect ourselves from the constant onslaught of toxins in our air, water, food and, yes, medicine. Neides was publicly shamed and branded as an anti-science, "anti-vax" quack, and was let go shortly thereafter.

The Case of Dr. Neides

Neides spoke out about his career-ending article at a recent Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom meeting, and what inspired him to start incorporating a functional medicine approach into his medical practice.

He also talks about Dr. Paul Thomas, author of "The Vaccine-Friendly Plan," a physician who opened his eyes to understand what one of the core problems with excessive vaccinations is, namely the fact that some people are unable to effectively detoxify the poisonous adjuvants and preservatives used in the vaccines, be it aluminum, mercury (thimerosal) or formaldehyde.

Neides also frankly admits he had "absolutely no idea" the hepatitis B vaccine, which is injected into babies on the first day of life, contains 250 nanograms of aluminum. "I didn't personally do my due diligence on vaccination," he says, noting that inflammation and inability to detoxify are two hallmarks of chronic disease. "Nothing was off the table in that article," he says, and that is why vaccines were included among the many sources of toxic exposures discussed in the article.

The only thing critics saw, however, was an attack on vaccines from a person who should know better. Some also questioned his integrity by pointing out that two years earlier, he had strongly advocated for vaccinations. "I did!" he says, "but I'm not the same person two years later. The whole idea of continuing education is to learn, and then take those principles and adopt them into your practice. As I began to see with my own eyes what was going on, I changed my point of view."

Three Pillars of Heavy Metal Detoxification

Getting back where we started, to the issue of chelation therapy, it's important to realize that it has its downsides. According to Chris Shade, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts in the world on the subject of heavy metal detoxification, the best and safest route for most patients is to upregulate certain aspects of your biochemistry to optimize the natural mobilization of toxins.

Inorganic mercury and cadmium are two heavy metals that cause significant damage to your kidneys. They tend to build up there, causing a downward spiral where the more damage there is to the proximal tubules, the more metals accumulate and the more damage is created. Chronic renal insufficiency is a potential and very serious side effect.

For many, chemical chelation isn't really necessary. If you do choose to use it, make sure you're working with a highly skilled clinician in this area. Shade's work has led to treatment strategies that are far safer and more effective than earlier detox methods. Shade's suggestions, which you can learn more about in this previous interview, are divided into three steps:

1. Optimize your filtration mechanisms. Detoxing involves moving the toxin out of the cell into your blood circulation, and then filtering out the metals through your kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, you need to begin by assessing your filtration capacity before you start moving toxins out of your tissues.

If you're feeling awful when detoxing, it means toxins are building up in circulation faster than they're being filtered out. To ensure your filters are working properly, begin by supporting your kidneys, liver and GI tract, and use binders to capture and eliminate metals and toxins in your GI tract. Overlooking this step and going straight to mobilizing heavy metals with a chelating agent will tax your kidneys, potentially causing more damage.

2. Address detoxification biochemistry. Next, you need to optimize the metabolic biochemistry needed for detoxification. This involves glutathione and the enzymes and transporters that work with it, such as the enzyme glutathione S-transferase. The most well-known and reliable nutraceutical that helps accomplish this is R-lipoic acid (sometimes also called R-alpha-lipoic acid). Nutraceuticals that upregulate Nrf2 are also very helpful. These include haritaki, broccoli seed extract and garlic.

If everything is working well in your body, you can simply use precursors to glutathione, like N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which will support glutathione production. If things aren't working well, a direct delivery of glutathione in the form of nanoliposomal glutathione that absorbs under your tongue is recommended.

Whether you can make do with precursors or need direct delivery of glutathione has a lot to do with how well your glutathione system is working, and your current state of health. Poor immune function is a sign of glutathione insufficiency, and a tipoff that a precursor might not be enough.

3. Pulsed chelation, if absolutely needed. The chelating agent EDTA is a powerful biofilm breaker. When taken systemically it opens up biofilms throughout your body, revealing various organisms to your immune system. As a result, you may experience immune reactions. In many such cases, you may need some type of antimicrobial.

Avoid indiscriminate chelation for lead, and always work with a qualified physician. If you go through the glutathione system upregulation discussed above, you're getting mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead and a whole host of other toxins out, including fluorinated, brominated, chlorinated hydrocarbons and pesticides. Start low and keep pulsing on and off. Over time, the toxic manifestations of lead will cease as your body becomes better able to mobilize it. 

Magnesium ? One of the Most Important Nutrients for Heart Health

By Dr. Mercola

Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and recent research shows even subclinical deficiency can jeopardize your heart health. Magnesium is also important for brain health, detoxification, cellular health and function, and the optimization of your mitochondria. In short, magnesium has enormous potential to influence your health and general well-being, especially the prevention of heart disease and cancer, but also for general energy and athletic performance.

Why You Need Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body and is involved in more than 600 different biochemical reactions. For example, magnesium plays an important role in:

Creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of your body1,2

Metabolism of calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, iron, sodium, hydrochloric acid, acetylcholine and nitric oxide, as well as 300 enzymes and the activation of thiamine.3

Magnesium is also required for DNA, RNA and protein synthesis and integrity,4 and plays a role in the creation of chromosomes5

Mitochondrial function and health. Magnesium is required both for increasing the number of mitochondria in your cells and for increasing mitochondrial efficiency

Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is important for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes6,7,8,9 (In one study,10 prediabetics with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by 71 percent)

Relaxation of blood vessels and normalizing blood pressure

Detoxification, including the synthesis of glutathione, considered by many to be your body's most powerful antioxidant

Muscle and nerve function, including the action of your heart muscle

Antioxidant defense via a number of different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory activity and support of endothelial and mitochondrial function11

Maintenance of ionic gradients ? keeping intracellular sodium and calcium low and potassium high ? and maintaining cellular and tissue integrity12

Catalyzing mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, which helps prevent anxiety and depression. It also provides mental and physical relaxation and is considered an important stress antidote13

Lowering the damage from electromagnetic fields (EMF) by blocking voltage gated calcium channels

Supporting healthy brain function. Magnesium acts as a buffer between neuron synapses, particularly those involved with cognitive functions (learning and memory).

Magnesium "sits" on the receptor without activating it, protecting the receptor from overactivation by other neurochemicals, especially glutamate, an excitotoxin that can harm your brain if it accumulates.

Magnesium also helps prevent migraine headaches14 by relaxing blood vessels in your brain and acting as a calcium channel blocker15

Even Subclinical Magnesium Deficiency Can Wreak Havoc on Your Heart Health

Since it's required for the healthy function of most cells in your body, a lack of magnesium can lead to significant health problems. Magnesium is particularly important for your heart health, helping you maintain normal blood pressure and protect against stroke. According to a 2013 scientific review,16 which included studies dating as far back as 1937, low magnesium may in fact be the greatest predictor of heart disease ? not cholesterol or saturated fat intake. At the time, lead author Andrea Rosanoff, Ph.D., told journalists:17

"These numerous studies have found low magnesium to be associated with all known cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, arterial plaque buildup (atherogenesis), hardening of the arteries and the calcification of soft tissues. This means we have been chasing our tails all of these years going after cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diet, when the true culprit was and still is low magnesium."

As explained by British cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Gupta,18 magnesium supports heart health via a number of different mechanisms. For starters, it combats inflammation, thereby helping prevent hardening of your arteries and high blood pressure. It also improves blood flow by relaxing your arteries, and helps prevent your blood from thickening, allowing it to flow more smoothly. All of these basic effects are important for optimal heart function.

A recent paper in the Open Heart journal warns that even subclinical deficiency can lead to cardiovascular problems. According to the authors:19

"? 'Various studies have shown that at least 300 mg of magnesium must be supplemented to establish a significantly increased serum magnesium concentrations ?' In other words, most people need an additional 300 mg of magnesium per day in order to lower their risk of developing numerous chronic diseases.

So while the recommended ? recommended dietary allowance [RDA] for magnesium (between 300 and 420 mg /day for most people) may prevent frank magnesium deficiency, it is unlikely to provide optimal health and longevity, which should be the ultimate goal."

Higher Magnesium Level = Lower Disease and Mortality Risk

A 2016 meta-analysis20 of 40 studies involving more than 1 million participants in nine countries also found that, compared to those with the lowest intakes, those with the highest magnesium intakes had:

  • A 10 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease
  • 12 percent lower risk of stroke
  • 26 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes

Increasing magnesium intake by 100 mg per day lowered participants' risk for:

  • Heart failure by 22 percent
  • Stroke by 7 percent
  • Diabetes by 19 percent
  • All-cause mortality by 10 percent

Magnesium Is Necessary for Mitochondrial Health

Mitochondria, tiny bacteria-derived organelles residing inside your cells, are the main energy producers in your body, as they're responsible for creating adenosine triphospate (ATP). Mounting evidence suggests that most health problems can be traced back to mitochondrial dysfunction, so making sure you get the right nutrients and precursors your mitochondria need for optimal performance is extremely important for health, disease prevention and physical performance.

As explained by Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., in the video above, magnesium plays an important role. Without it, other strategies aimed at improving mitochondrial health simply won't work properly.

As just one example, athletic performance is in part dependent on your oxidative capacity (the ability of your muscle cells to consume oxygen), and your oxidative capacity relies on your mitochondria's ability to produce ATP by consuming oxygen inside the cell. You can increase your oxidative capacity in two ways, and both require magnesium:

  1. Increasing the total number of mitochondria in your cells by engaging in exercise. However, in order for new mitochondria to be created, you must have sufficient amounts of magnesium. 
  2. Increasing the efficiency of your mitochondria to repair damage and produce ATP. This process also requires magnesium as a co-factor.

Magnesium Is Also Essential for Cell Division

Recent research21 also shows that magnesium is critical for chromosome folding, which allows cells to divide, multiply and regenerate to make up for lost or damaged cells. According to the authors, "The findings provide a new mechanism for chromosome organization."

Using a newly developed type of ion detector called magnesium ratiometric indicator for optical imaging (MARIO), Japanese researchers were able to demonstrate how changes in the concentration of free magnesium ions inside cells affects the folding of chromosomes. In summary, the researchers found that:

  • Chromosomes, which have a negative charge, are neutralized by free magnesium, which is what allows the chromosomes to condense during cell division.
  • Free magnesium ions dramatically increase during cell division, peaking "during the transition from metaphase to anaphase, which marks the period in cell division that the cell membrane begins showing signs of breaking into two cells."
  • There's a "clear relationship" between the ATP level in the cell and the number of free magnesium ions. The less ATP present, the greater the free magnesium level and the more chromosome condensation occurs, allowing for more efficient cell division. The authors' hypothesis is that "ATP-bound magnesium is released by the hydrolysis of ATP." (Hydrolysis refers to the chemical reaction during which energy stored in ATP is released).

Most People Are Magnesium Deficient

Magnesium resides at the center of the chlorophyll molecule, so if you rarely eat fresh leafy greens, you're probably not getting much magnesium from your diet. Furthermore, while eating organic whole foods will help optimize your magnesium intake, it's still not a surefire way to ward off magnesium deficiency, as most soils have become severely depleted of nutrients, including magnesium.

Magnesium absorption is also dependent on having sufficient amounts of selenium, parathyroid hormone and vitamins B6 and D, and is hindered by excess ethanol, salt, coffee and phosphoric acid in soda. Sweating, stress, lack of sleep, excessive menstruation, certain drugs (especially diuretics and proton-pump inhibitors) also deplete your body of magnesium.22 For these reasons, many experts recommend taking supplemental magnesium. Taking a magnesium supplement is particularly advisable if you:23

Experience symptoms of insufficiency or deficiency24

Have hypertension

Engage in strenuous exercise on a regular basis. Research shows just six to 12 weeks of strenuous physical activity can result in magnesium deficiency,25 likely due to increased magnesium demand in your skeletal muscle

Are taking diuretics or medication for hypertension, especially thiazides, which have been shown to induce undetectable magnesium deficiency26 (while patients may have normal or even high serum magnesium, their bodies are actually depleted of magnesium)

Have had or are planning heart transplant or open heart surgery

Are at risk for or have had a heart attack, or if you experience ventricular arrhythmia

Are insulin resistant or diabetic (as this increases magnesium depletion)

Have congestive heart failure

How to Boost Your Magnesium Level

The RDA for magnesium is around 310 to 420 mg per day depending on your age and sex,27 but many experts believe you may need 600 to 900 mg per day, which is more in line with the magnesium uptake during the Paleolithic period.28 Personally, I believe many may benefit from amounts as high as 1 to 2 grams (1,000 to 2,000 mg) of elemental magnesium per day, as most of us have EMF exposures that simply cannot be mitigated, and the extra magnesium should help lower the damage from that exposure.

Elemental refers to how much pure magnesium is in each mg or what percent is actual magnesium which changes the actual dose as they are all different.  You need far more of some than others as they have lower percentage of magnesium. Generally most supplements provide about 10-15% of the total dose as elemental magnesium after you factor in absorption.

One of the best forms is magnesium threonate, as it appears to be the most efficient at penetrating cell membranes, including your mitochondria and blood-brain barrier. Another effective way to boost your magnesium level is to take Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths, as the magnesium will effectively absorb through your skin. I seek to use about two ounces a week. I am also fond of magnesium maalate as malic acid is a Krebs cycle intermediate useful for ATP production.

I prepare a supersaturated solution of Epsom salts by dissolving 7 tablespoons of the salt into 6 ounces of water and heating it until all the salt has dissolved. I pour it into a dropper bottle and then apply it to my skin and rub fresh aloe leaves over it to dissolve it. This is an easy and inexpensive way to increase your magnesium and will allow you to get higher dosages into your body without having to deal with its laxative effects.

If you agree with the higher doses of magnesium, it is best to take it in evenly divided doses throughout the day to prevent loose stools. It can be taken with or without food. If you're also taking calcium, take them together. If you exercise regularly, consider taking your calcium and magnesium in a ratio of one part calcium to two parts magnesium with your pre-workout meal.29

While the ideal ratio of magnesium to calcium is thought to be 1-to-1, most people get far more calcium than magnesium from their diet; hence, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

To measure your magnesium level and gauge how much magnesium you might need, get an RBC magnesium test (which measures the amount of magnesium in your red blood cells) and track your signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency (see below). Also keep an eye on your potassium and calcium levels, as low potassium and calcium are common laboratory signs of magnesium deficiency.30

Common signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency include the following.31,32 For a more exhaustive list of signs and symptoms, see Dr. Carolyn Dean's blog post, "Gauging Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms."33 If you regularly experience any of these, chances are you need more magnesium.

Seizures; muscle spasms, especially "charley horses" or spasms in your calf muscle that happen when you stretch your leg and/or eye twitches

The Trousseau sign.34 To check for this sign, a blood pressure cuff is inflated around your arm. The pressure should be greater than your systolic blood pressure and maintained for three minutes.

By occluding the brachial artery in your arm, spasms in your hand and forearm muscles are induced.

If you are magnesium deficient, the lack of blood flow will cause your wrist and metacarpophalangeal joint to flex and your fingers to adduct. For a picture of this hand/wrist position, see Wikipedia35

Numbness or tingling in your extremities

Low potassium and calcium levels

Insulin resistance

Increased number of headaches and/or migraines

High blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and/or coronary spasms

Low energy, fatigue and/or loss of appetite

Protect Your Health by Optimizing Your Magnesium Intake

While you may still need magnesium supplementation, it would certainly be wise to try to get as much magnesium from your diet as possible. Organic unprocessed foods would be your best bet, but if they're grown in magnesium-depleted soil, even organics could be low in this vital mineral. Dark-green leafy vegetables lead the pack when it comes to magnesium content, and juicing your greens is an excellent way to boost your intake.

Other foods that are particularly rich in magnesium include the following.36 Including more magnesium-rich foods in your diet along with magnesium supplementation, if needed, can go a long way toward optimizing your health and preventing chronic disease, and is an extremely cost-effective way to lower your risk of heart disease.

Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder

One ounce (28.35 grams) or raw cacao nibs contain about 65 mg of magnesium.

Avocados

One cup of avocado on average (values differ depending on whether they come from California or Florida) contains about 44 mg of magnesium. Avocados are also a good source of potassium, which helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium.

Seeds and nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds score among the highest, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 191 mg, 129 mg and 41 mg of magnesium respectively. Cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts are also good sources; one-fourth cup of cashews contains 89 mg of magnesium.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices pack lots of nutrients in small packages and this includes magnesium. Some of the most magnesium-rich varieties are coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves.

Organic, raw grass fed yogurt and natto

Yogurt made from raw organic grass fed milk with no added sugars; 1 cup of natto yields 201 mg of magnesium.

Weekly Health Quiz: Plants, Pollution and Digestion

1 A potent adaptogen, this perennial plant has been shown to boost vitality and mood by modulating your immune function and enhancing nervous system health, and may offer powerful protection against burnout.

  • Rhodiola Rosea

    Rhodiola rosea is a powerful adaptogen known to enhance vitality by helping your body adapt to physical, chemical and environmental stress. Learn more.

  • Ginseng
  • Holy Basil
  • Rosemary

2 CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzpatrick resigned from her post a day after it was publicly revealed that she had bought stocks in:

  • Fracking industry
  • Tobacco industry

    Mere months into her new job as director of the CDC, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald purchased stocks in a Japanese tobacco company, even though smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. She resigned the day after her new investments were publicly exposed. Learn more.

  • Processed food industry
  • Soda industry

3 Which of the following industries has been identified as a major contributor to India's rapidly growing water pollution problem and a culprit in growing antibiotic-resistance?

  • Water treatment
  • Pharmaceutical

    Between 2010 and 2015, the number of contaminated waterways in India more than doubled, and the severe water pollution problem can be, to a significant extent, traced back to the drug industry. Drug companies that outsource production of ingredients to India are now urged to take proactive steps to end pollution within their supply chain. Learn more.

  • Agriculture
  • Petroleum

4 Studying the circulatory system of plants, Andrew Fletcher, a mechanical engineer, stumbled on a discovery that led to the following therapy:

  • Earthing
  • Blood flow restriction training
  • Inclined bed therapy

    In plants, the interplay between gravity and varying density of fluids is what causes the sap to circulate up and down in a perpetual loop. The same mechanism appears to apply to human biology as well, which is the basis for inclined bed therapy. Learn more.

  • Homeopathy

5 In addition to its value as a culinary and ornamental plant, this ancient herb has medicinal value to aid digestion, boost cognitive function, manage diabetes and treat inflammation.

  • Parsley
  • Sage

    Beyond its culinary uses, sage has medicinal value to aid digestion, boost cognitive function, manage diabetes and treat inflammation, among others. Learn more.

  • Rosemary
  • Marjoram

6 To build a strong and productive nation, president-elect John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to:

  • Read more
  • Get higher education
  • Build and maintain physical fitness

    JFK was a firm believer in the idea that physical fitness leads to a healthy mind, body and spirit, and that it produces academic excellence. In 1960, he challenged Americans to view personal fitness as a citizen's duty to build a strong, healthy nation. Learn more.

  • Build improved weapons systems

7 The TB12 Method is named after which professional athlete?

  • Toby Bailey
  • Terry Baker
  • Tom Brady

    The TB12 Method, named after NFL quarterback Tom Brady, focuses on pliability training ? deep force muscle work that lengthens and softens muscles at the same time through rhythmic contraction and relaxation. Learn more.

  • Troy Bell

Why This Meat Is so Healthy

By Dr. Mercola

Even though grass fed and grain-finished beef sales have grown by 1,500 percent since 2012, according to ABC News, they are still overshadowed by conventional beef sales in the U.S., which topped $105 billion in 2015.1 While there is a long way to go before grass fed beef will become as popular as its conventional counterpart, the tides are changing as more consumers are demanding higher quality, safer meat products.

Once again, the health benefits of grass fed beef ? to both the consumer and the soil ? are making news. An ABC News feature highlights the success Texas farmers had in surviving a multiyear drought using regenerative agriculture practices and rotational grazing. The solution to their success was so simple and it can be applied anywhere: healthy soil + healthy grass = healthy grass fed beef.

Grass to the Rescue: Grass Fed Cows Save Drought-Stricken Texas Farms

As featured on ABC News? ?Food Forecast? program,2 the native grasses used to pasture grass fed beef is more than just animal feed ? it?s vital to the survival of both the soil and ranching way of life. Among those interviewed by program host Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist for ABC News, was cattle rancher Jon Taggart of Grandview, Texas, who has been raising grass fed and grass-finished cows for slaughter since 1999. To bring his meat to market, Taggart owns and operates three stores in Texas that sell pastured beef.

In 2011, as other ranchers watched feed grasses dry up and die when oppressive heat and drought gripped Texas, Taggart continued operating his business as usual. ?I'm proud to say we harvested cattle every week of the year through that entire drought,? he told ABC News. The drought, by the way, lasted into 2015.

While millions of cattle were moved out of Texas to survive the heat and shortage of edible forage, Taggart did not destock a single animal, or turn to supplemental feeding. He attributes his success to the fact his farm was replete with what he calls ?those deep-rooted native grasses that were designed [to survive those droughts] by somebody a lot bigger than us.?

After initially raising grain-finished cows ? meaning the animals, after starting a grass diet, were fed corn and other grains at the end of their lives as a means of increasing their size and weight just before slaughter ? Taggart and others began feeding their cows exclusively on grass. As you may imagine, feeding large herds of farm animals grass on a continuous basis requires an abundant and diverse crop of seasonal grasses.

Said Taggart, ?We want an extremely diversified plant population: warm season grasses, cool season grasses, grasses that germinate early and grasses that germinate later.? Cultivating a variety of grasses enables Taggart?s soil to remain fortified and healthy despite challenging weather conditions, including drought. His farmland retains water and other essential nutrients so the soil remains healthy year-round.

Focusing on Soil Health Breathes Life Back Into Farmland

When the 2011 drought hit, Jonathan and Kaylyn Cobb, one of the owner/operator families of Green Fields Farm in Rogers, Texas, were ready to sell their family ranch due to the poor condition of its soil.3 ?We didn?t have any life in our soil and ? we weren?t aware of it at all,? says Jonathan Cobb. ?We killed everything that wasn?t what we were trying to grow because that is all we knew.?

After putting their home up for sale, the couple met with sixth-generation cattle farmer and regenerative agriculture consultant Allen Williams, Ph.D., who called out their dry powdery soil as the root problem. To save their soil and their farm, Williams suggested they begin raising entirely grass fed cows using a system of rotational grazing. His advice transformed their perspective on farming and gave them a vision for the value and importance of regenerative land management.

The foundation of rotational grazing is the development of paddocks ? large plots of grass ? and the systematic movement of herds from one paddock to another for forage. This cycle of rotation allows the grass to recover and regrow naturally in each paddock as the cows move on to a new one. Not only do the cows get plenty of exercise, but they also gain weight at a healthy pace. After taking Williams? advice, the Cobbs changed their entire approach to farming, which returned health, vitality and structure to their soil.

Now, with rotational grazing solidly in place, Jonathan Cobb said his cows gain, on average, 3.5 pounds a day on a totally grass fed diet consisting of about 40 pounds of daily grass intake per animal. ?It sounds funny to say, but we bought cattle for the soil,? states Kaylyn Cobb. ?The reason we brought cattle back onto the land was because we knew it was a fundamental element needed to restore life to the soil.?

Why Is Soil Quality so Important?

According to Taggart, the Cobbs and Williams, soil is a key factor in not only farming but livestock operations, too.4 In particular, the Cobbs have learned good soil aggregation and structure are paramount to success. ?It used to be thought you had to use a plow and till up the soil to get oxygen in there,? stated Jonathan Cobb. ?We know now every time you?re doing that you lose aggregation and just have powdery soil. Worms are the only tillage we need ? they aerate the soil for us.?

About the value of worms, Kaylyn Cobb asserts, ?Now that the soil health has improved, we have soil aggregates and earthworms that make channels so the water can go into soil. All of this life [in the ground] is like a sponge, and we can take more water in and store it in our soil.? Williams comes alongside ranchers with the goal of regenerating soil which, in turn, enables them to raise healthy livestock in a manner that is both efficient and profitable.

Based on consulting with more than 6,000 farmers and ranchers, he asserts soil health is a vital consideration for any successful farm. The motivation should be the same, he says, regardless of whether the cows are grain- or grass fed. Said Williams:

?I want every farmer and rancher who is growing livestock to adopt these adaptive-grazing practices, and to build their soil organic matter and soil health. ? [T]his is going to make a whole sea change in the way our soil functions, the way our ecosystem works, and our water quality and our climate.?

Cows and Grass: They Naturally Go Together

Taggart suggests pairing cows with farmland represents a ?return to nature.? Cows, he notes, are ruminant animals. ?They have four parts to their stomachs for a reason, and that?s so they can digest grass, which we don?t do very well,? he says. ?They can convert [grass] into a protein that we are able to consume.? Because cows were designed to eat grass and they?ve been doing it for millennia, Taggart believes the system ?works very well if you kind of get out of the way and let it happen.?

That is the approach he took on his ranch, which amounts to about 1,400 acres. When he first took over, about 900 acres of it was farmland. Right way, Taggart began converting the farmed land back to native grasses. Those grasses and a system of rotational grazing have fueled Taggart?s success and allowed his operation to remain productive throughout periods of challenging weather. Not only do cows eat grass, but as they are rotated across pastures full of it, they bring many benefits to the life cycle, including:5

  • Grazing cuts grass blades and releases seeds, spurring new and continuous growth
  • Cow manure is a natural fertilizer and helps the grass grow
  • Trampling assists in working animal manure and other decaying organic matter into the soil, resulting in a rich humus
  • Soil erosion is reduced because grass, unlike grains, regrows naturally and does not disturb the soil
  • Healthy soil keeps carbon dioxide underground and out of the atmosphere

The Roots of Regenerative Farming

Among the most influential voices for the development of regenerative farming is rangeland consultant Allan Savory, president and founder of the Savory Institute, a Boulder, Colorado, nonprofit with a vision to restore grasslands around the world. Savory estimates he?s trained upward of 10,000 ranchers, representing a collective 40 million acres of global pasture, on "holistic management and planned grazing," which is his trademark method of regenerative agriculture.

To advance his practices, Savory has launched a global network of farmers who desire to move beyond sustainability to regeneration, and they are committed to employing his techniques. About Savory and his network, EatingWell states:6

?They believe ? farmers have a duty to go further, by steadily improving their land with the goal of bringing it closer to what was here before the advent of modern agriculture, a time when lush prairies covered much of the central United States.

The grasses provided food for vast herds of bison and other herbivores that, in turn, fertilized the soil ? a symbiotic relationship that promoted a hearty regrowth of vegetation, improved nutrient content and allowed the ground to hold more moisture. Regenerative agriculture attempts to mimic these conditions with livestock, such as cattle, sheep and goats.?

Experts like Savory believe grazing livestock could reverse desertification and also help reduce greenhouse gases. In fact, the Savory Institute suggests if degraded grasslands were turned around on a large scale, ?enough carbon could be sunk into the soil to lower greenhouse gas concentrations to preindustrial levels in a matter of decades.?7

Soil managed regeneratively, including the addition of grazing livestock, has the ability to trap and store large amounts of carbon that otherwise would remain in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated U.S. farm and grazing land collectively stores about 20 million metric tons of carbon a year. The results suggested U.S. farm soils keep out more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they put in.

The USDA stated, ?With improved management, farms and rangelands have the potential to store an additional 180 million metric tons annually, for a total of 200 million metric tons a year. This would be 12 to 14 percent of total U.S. emissions of carbon.?8 If advocates of regenerative farming are correct about the impact of their practices on the environment, then eating grass fed meat might be the best thing you can do for the environment.

Why Conventional Meat Is Bad for You

Many so-called experts continue to suggest meat production ? especially beef ? contributes to environmental destruction. Therefore, the logic follows, if you give up eating meat from farm animals, you will help reduce your carbon footprint.

As Williams, Savory and others attest, the reality is not all meat production is the same, especially when it comes to beef. While all cows begin their lives foraging for grass on open pasture, about 97 percent of U.S. cattle spend their last days in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where they are fattened with grain prior to slaughter.9

This system of using CAFOs, which are hotbeds for disease and antibiotic misuse, is energy-intensive and responsible for the high carbon emissions normally associated with livestock operations. If you need more convincing about the dangers of CAFOS, also known as factory farms, check out my ?The Truth About Factory Farms? infographic.

Of particular cause for alarm is the long-standing practice CAFOs have of feeding low doses of antibiotics to farm animals, which enables pathogens to survive, adapt and eventually thrive. The reality that nearly 80 percent of antibiotics administered in the U.S. go into farm animals should give you a sense of why CAFOs are becoming increasingly more well-known for their role in spreading deadly antibiotic-resistant disease.

Antibiotic Use in CAFO Animals Is Out of Control

Instances of antibiotic resistance continue to rise, with about 2 million drug-resistant infections occurring annually in the U.S., resulting in the deaths of an estimated 23,000 people.10 Similarly, about 25,000 Europeans annually succumb to drug-resistant infections.11

According to The Guardian,12 livestock raised for food in the U.S. are given, on average, five times the amount of antibiotics as compared to farm animals in the U.K. Presently, the free use of growth hormones in the U.S. has resulted in a ban on imports of American beef throughout Europe. Research by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, a U.K. lobby group, asserts antibiotic use in conventionally raised farm animals in the U.S. as compared to the U.K. is:13,14

  • Nine times as much in the case of cattle raised for beef
  • 5.5 times higher for turkeys
  • Three times higher in chickens
  • Twice as high for pigs

About the disparity in antibiotic use between the U.S. and U.K., Suzi Shingler, campaign manager for Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said:

?U.S. cattle farmers are massively overusing antibiotics. These findings show the huge advantages of British beef, which is often from grass-reared animals, whereas U.S. cattle are usually finished in intensive feedlots. Trade negotiators who may be tempted to lift the ban on U.S. beef should not only be considering the impact of growth hormones, but also, antibiotic resistance due to rampant antibiotic use.?

While livestock may occasionally require antibiotics to cure an infection, CAFOs routinely misuse antibiotics in an attempt to speed up animal growth or to offset overcrowding and poor hygiene. According to the CDC, 12 antibiotic-resistant pathogens pose a "serious threat? to public health, and one-third of them are food-related infections, including Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella and Shigella.

Given the high risk of contamination associated with conventional meat, grass fed meat ? as Taggart, Williams and others have asserted ? is the healthiest and safest meat for you to eat. Stay away from all meat that is grain-fed or grain-finished. Get to know your local farmers and seek out local sources for high-quality grass fed meat.

Soil-Based Agriculture Is Vital to Our Future on Planet Earth

Soil-based agriculture, especially organic and regenerative agriculture, is essential to human survival because these types of farming center around holistic land-management practices designed to improve biodiversity, soil health and water scarcity. As mentioned, these approaches also build healthy soils capable of drawing down excess carbon in the atmosphere.15 Healthy soil connects to everything up the food chain, from plant and insect health all the way up to animal and human health.

As such, health truly begins in the soil in which your food is grown. Moving toward a system where 100 percent of your food is produced using organic and regenerative practices is imperative not only for renewing the Earth?s precious resources but also for sustaining human life. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help bring about positive change, check out my article ?How to Use Regenerative Farming Principles to Grow Healthier Food in Your Own Garden.?

What Makes Mustard Spicy?

By Dr. Mercola

Everyone has individual likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to heat in their food. Look at the menus at certain restaurants, for instance, and you might find tiny jalapeno icons next to certain dishes to signify their heat level. One jalapeno means mildly hot; five indicate as fiery as they can make it.

A perfect example of a food ? or rather a condiment ? that?s very popular and comes in widely varying degrees on the heat index is mustard, which can definitely rival jalapenos in the heat index. Some like it hot, as the saying goes.

There are multiple varieties of mustard to satisfy your cravings, but have you ever wondered what provides the flavor and heat? There?s actually a plant known as mustard, a Brassica (or more scientifically, a Brassicaceae, sometimes referred to as mustards) correctly and its seed is the agent, in a matter of speaking, that supplies the spice.

In and of themselves, tiny, round mustard seeds aren?t hot or spicy. It?s when they?re ground or broken open and mixed with liquid that the zing emerges. There are a few types of mustard seeds: white, brown and black. White mustard seeds produce heat on your tongue, but it?s the darker seeds that impart the pungent essence in your nose. This type of flavor is longer-lasting and more intense.

That?s why the traditional yellow mustard you?re probably familiar with requires white mustard seeds, and the stronger varieties of this popular condiment come from using darker seeds. In fact, yellow mustard is the second most-used condiment in the U.S., no doubt because it works so well with so many types of meat as well as seafood. Experimenting with different types of mustards is a tasty way to get acquainted with all the different types.

Mustard: The Science Behind the Heat

One of the compounds in mustard seeds that imparts the aforementioned zing is called sinigren, a glucosinolate or natural constituent of pungent plants found in this Brassica veggie.

When sinigren is broken down, it emits an enzyme called myrosinase, and that in turn creates mustard oil. It?s the oil that produces the heat when liquid is added, such as cold water. It?s so strong that if you should attempt to make your own homemade mustard, the heat can burn and blister your skin. Savvy mustard makers wear protective gloves for this reason.

The process doesn?t happen immediately. It takes about 15 minutes for the chemical process of turning up the heat to take place and reach its peak intensity. Because this intensity begins to rapidly diminish, the process of making the spicy condiment requires the addition of an acidic agent to stop the flavor degeneration. Unfortunately, the acidic agent brings about a flavor that masks that of the mustard itself. So does heat.

Warm temperatures can also obstruct the strength of the mustard (known as ?prepared spicy mustard?), so if you want to make your own (directions are at the bottom), make sure the liquid you add to the mix is at least room temperature. It must be noted that myrosinase is crucial in the conversion of glucosinolates into isothiocyanates, because that?s where its chemoprotective elements come from.

As a matter of fact, you can ?stack? the benefits by eating more than one type of Brassica vegetables together. Organic mustard seed powder is a powerful way to do it.

Mustard History: The Back Story

Like most other plant-based foods, mustard is ancient. The early Romans and, later, the French ground the seeds and mixed them with wine to create a paste fairly similar to the way we eat it today. In fact, the English name means ?burning must,? must being the unfermented juice of wine grapes.

Greek scientist Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. reportedly used mustard on scorpion stings, and Hippocrates used it for poultices and other medicine, such as mustard plasters for toothaches. Even before the spice trade became a ?thing,? The Spruce notes:

?The Romans took the mustard seed to Gaul, where it was planted in vineyards along with the grapes. It soon became a popular condiment. French monasteries cultivated and sold mustard as early as the ninth century, and the condiment was for sale in Paris by the 13th century. In the 1770s, mustard took a modern turn when Maurice Grey and Antoine Poupon introduced the world to Grey Poupon Dijon mustard. Their original store still can be seen in downtown Dijon.?1

While the mustard plant has been traced to Europe, it actually has more worldwide origins. You?ll find more than 40 varieties, which is why there?s ?Chinese mustard,? ?Indian mustard? and ?German mustard.? Most are based in one of three continents: Africa, North America and Asia.

Today, the highest production in the world does have more to do with the seeds than the leaves, but altogether the highest producers in 2015, in order, were Canada, Nepal, Myanmar, Russia, Ukraine, China, the U.S., France, the Czech Republic and Germany.

Nutritional and Medicinal Aspects of Mustard

Mustard seeds aren?t the only useful part of the plant. The leaves also have nutritional, culinary and even medicinal applications. They?re used in salads, usually mixed with other greens, and can be combined with select other items, such as walnuts and wine vinegar or avocado oil, and sautéed.

According to the George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to helping people eat and cook for optimal health, mustard greens are a cool season crop, so in the U.S. they can be planted similarly to lettuce. Most production is in the Northwest and upper Midwest, such as North Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Montana and Oregon. Additionally:

?Because purple and red mustard leaves are becoming more popular in many grocery stores, don't be surprised to find mustard ?greens? that are actually vibrant purple or purple/red in color. Red Giant, Ruby Streaks, Purple Osaka, Garnet Giant, Japanese Red, and Scarlet Frills are varieties that you might find in your local supermarket.?2

Phenols are some of the most hard-working antioxidants. The term encompasses such phytonutrients as flavonoids, and mustard greens contain some of the highest levels among veggies, along with other leafy greens: collard greens, kale and purslane, which contain kaempferol, isorhamnetin, quercetin and ferulic acid.

In addition, other than kale, mustard greens contain the highest concentration of isorhamnetin, a phenolic scientists have been studying for years in relation to its dramatic and beneficial impact on cancer, as well as isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are sulfur-containing nutrients.

The George Mateljan Foundation adds that mustard greens are included in a list of vegetables containing high levels of ITCs, and ?mustard greens easily came out on top!?3 The leafy veggie is among the top vegetables worldwide in terms of its excellent vitamins K, A and E, calcium and iron content. Copper, vitamin B2, manganese, protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and phosphorus levels in mustard greens are also very high.

Sinigren: One of Mustard?s Hardest Working Nutrients

As for the sinigren content, one study conducted at North-West University in South Africa mentions it in regard to its notation in Ayurvedic texts for its natural pharmaceutical properties:

?Studies conducted on the pharmacological activities of sinigrin have revealed anti-cancer, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, wound healing properties and biofumigation.?4

The benefits of sinigren are multidirectional, positively impacting your liver and pancreas.5 There are also a number of powerful health benefits from the sinigren (Allyl isothiocyanate or AITC) content in mustard and other Brassica vegetables, including the suppression of:6

  • Bladder and liver cancers ? An animal study showed that pure sinigren inhibited bladder cancer growth by nearly 34 percent and blocked its muscle invasion by 100 percent.7 Liver cancer cell proliferation also showed ?significant downregulation? and metastasis suppression due to AITC.8
  • Postprandial hypertriglyceridemia ? Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include high blood triglyceride concentrations, which were lowered in another study.9
  • Antimicrobial effects ? E. coli and other foodborne pathogens may be inhibited, along with several damaging cellular structures and metabolic pathways, due to the presence of glucosinolate sinigrin.10
  • Studies showed a link between AITC intake and the incidence of stomach and lung cancers.11
  • Antioxidants in AITC showed that another Brassica vegetable, Brussels sprouts, when cooked, was DNA protective.12

Another Spicy Plant-Based Food: Horseradish

Apart from the heat derived from jalapenos or ghost peppers, there?s an array of interesting plant-based foods to please your palate. Horseradish is another example. Armoracia rusticana (horseradish) is a perennial Brassicaceae in the same family as the rather tame broccoli and cabbage, but a few in the family are quite warm, such as radishes and wasabi.

Studies show horseradish, too, has a number of cancer-protective compounds, some the same, such as sinigren, and others slightly different, such as phosphatidylcholines, alpha-tocopherol and ubiquinone, than those in mustard. One study indicates that the growth of colon, lung and stomach cancer cells was inhibited by various but impressive degrees.13

Nutritional aspects of horseradish are varied and plentiful. It contains vitamin C, fiber, potassium, magnesium, zinc and manganese. Organic Facts14 lists a number of health advantages that studies show can result from consuming horseradish, as it:

Boosts your disease immunity

Strengthens your bones

Contributes to weight loss

Contains diuretic properties

Acts as an antibacterial

Helps in pregnancy

Improves digestion

Boosts your metabolism

Reduces blood pressure

Improves respiratory conditions

Interestingly, the unique, pungent qualities of horseradish?s allyl isothiocyante compounds could be described as plant-based ?defensive poisons,? according to Nature?s Poisons:

?If you?ve ever been around a horseradish plant, or fondled a root, you?ve noticed that there is no animosity towards you. No odor, no burning of the eyes, no nothing.

That?s because the magic of horseradish is contained within the horseradish cells ? When the leaves or roots of a horseradish plant are chewed by a predator, the cells are burst open and release sinigrin, a glucosinolate. When exposed to sinigrin ? nothing happens. But wait, also released from the cells is the enzyme myrosinase.?15

The article goes on to explain that myrosinase acts as a catalyst or ?grenade? that hydrolyses or adds water to sinigrin to turn it into glucose and allyl isothiocyanate, which can (and usually do) act as a serious eye irritant and burn your lungs when you breathe it in, not to mention the smell. Animals hate it and usually steer clear of it.

How to Make Mustard and Horseradish Sauces

Also according to Nature?s Poisons, the conversion of sinigren into allyl isothiocyante changes the pH from a neutral pH of 7 to a more acidic pH of 4. In the process, a compound known as aglycone converts to allyl cyanide, but don?t worry; your body metabolizes and disperses it throughout your body. You can grow horseradish easily if all you have is a root and some dirt. However, note that it is an invasive plant, growing quickly in areas you might not want it. Making your own prepared horseradish is as simple as this:

?Finely grate horseradish root in a ventilated space, wait a few minutes for the chemistry magic to happen, and once the desired ?hotness? of the horseradish is reached, add acidic vinegar. Done. Simple as that. Pretty cool, huh??16

According to The Spruce,17 the procedure for making your own version of mild yellow mustard is quite simple as well. This recipe makes enough to fill two 4-ounce jars, which you can sterilize during the cooking process. The mustard can be stored in the refrigerator for as long as a year. Cut the recipe in half to make less.

Ingredients for Homemade Yellow Mustard

  • 1/2 cup dry-ground yellow mustard seed powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider (or distilled white) vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon natural salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Procedure:

  1. Add cold water to the mustard seeds, then whisk all the ingredients together in a small saucepan until smooth and it becomes a liquid. Boil over medium heat for seven to eight minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat to cool for five minutes, during which time it will begin to thicken (a process that can continue for as long as two days).
  3. Transfer the mustard to the jars and fasten the lids securely. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

An important note is that sampling your mustard in less than 24 hours after making it is not recommended; you must cool your heels at least 24 hours as the result will otherwise be ?disgustingly bitter.? The flavor will mellow, and it will be worth the wait.

How the TB12 Method Can Help You Achieve Peak Performance at Any Age

By Dr. Mercola

In this interview, Alex Guerrero, cofounder of TB12 and personal body coach for Tom Brady ? one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history ? shares the natural and holistic program he developed with Brady, called the TB12 Method. Tom was told at one point that surgery for one of his injuries was unavoidable. This training method was said to have helped resolve his injury and return to the field, without surgery. 

The pair recently launched ?The TB12 Method? mobile app on iOS, and co-wrote a New York Times best seller book about their philosophy, called ?The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.? A primary focus of the program is pliability training ? deep force muscle work that lengthens and softens muscles at the same time those muscles are rhythmically contracted and relaxed. 

?I've been practicing this for a little over 20 years now, and when I first started, it was with the idea of just doing some good deep tissue work and helping athletes recover from whatever their injuries were at the time,? Guerrero says.

?Some of [my] clients ? would feel better and would go back out and do their training, and then they would hurt themselves again ? It became a pattern, and at some point I thought, ?I really need to see what this mechanism of injury really is. And why are they feeling better but not getting better??

As I started to ? watch them actually train, I realized that everything they were doing, all their biomechanical movements ? were all learned behavior. The brain was developing more neural pathways as it related to the way they were wanting to move. So, I thought our treatment principles should be based on the same thing.

And if the brain can create neural pathways based on functional movement, then I should be able to do some functional movement during my treatments so that the brain can create more neural pathways for getting better as opposed to just feeling better.?

Pliability Training

As he began working on muscle tissues through active ranges of motion, and having the client actively involved in the movement, they not only felt better but actually stopped reinjuring themselves. That?s when he realized that being pliable is different from being flexible.

Pliability actually correlates to how your brain connects to your body. In other words, it involves a neurological component in which the muscle-brain connection is being reeducated and rewired. According to Guerrero, pliability training is a good substitute for a regular warmup and/or cool down. He explains:

?In Tom's case, we will do pliability treatments [on the] lower limbs, calves, hamstrings, quads, hips, hip flexors and his right arm pre-practice. We do that to stimulate the nervous system. We want to activate his nervous system and get it primed and ready to perform its function of running and moving in quick ways, to be able to go out and throw the football 200 times and not be sore in his elbow or shoulder.

We get the nervous system warmed up that way, rather than just doing some long tosses, or throwing or running. My belief is that, if you can actively stimulate the nervous system to do the function you're asking it to perform at the time you need it to perform, it can do that.

You're neural-primed and ready to go do those things. That's our warmup. And then you practice, or do your exercise or whatever you want to do ? and then we ? reset ? [W]e want the brain to understand [it] can go out and do two hours of physical activity and not be sore.?

To the outsider, the treatment looks much like a massage, but there are important differences. (There are some muscle groups you can work on yourself, but typically you will need a therapist to perform this treatment on you.) The main difference is your participation in the process. During regular massage, you?re basically just lying there, relaxing. To create sustainable pliability, however, you need to perform active movement to engage your brain.

How TB12 Was Developed

Part of the inspiration behind this method goes back to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), in which Guerrero has a master?s degree. TCM is a holistic medicine that takes into account the fact that the physical body, emotional body and spiritual body are interconnected and inseparable. While studying for his master?s, Guerrero also went to massage school to get certified in massage therapy. TB12 is a synthesis of those two schools of thought.

?Understanding biomechanics and learning how people move and function, and then creating that mind-body connection, is how I came up with [the TB12 Method] over the course of time,? he says. ?When I first started ? I would try a technique on [the client] and see how they felt. [They?d] go out and practice, come back, try it again, and see how they felt.

Over the course of some time, I was able to refine it. In sports and athletics, you don't have a lot of time, especially in professional sports ? so, I had to figure out how I could get an athlete?s body to change the way it thought about the injury mechanism in a quick amount of time.

Through practice, I was able to change the way the brain thought about how the injury occurred, or even the muscle memory pattern, and I was able to change those over the course of the two- or three-day treatment cycle. I could pretty much take any injury that an athlete had, that was soft tissue related, and get them better in two or three days.?

Bioceramics and Other Novel Fitness Aids

I?ve previously written about the benefits of photobiomodulation, where red or near-infrared light is used to activate mitochondrial recovery mechanisms. Many professional teams, including the U.S. Olympic track team are using it. Guerrero uses it as well, along with fabrics embedded with bioceramic powder that creates infrared in response to body heat.

?We've used far infrared for a long time, and we're continuing to see how we can advance it so it becomes more user friendly,? he says. They?re already seeing good results with sleepwear embedded with bioceramics, which allows your body to be engulfed in far-infrared for multiple hours each night.

?It has worked out really well and we've done a lot of studies on them. There are certainly a lot of data points on those. Now we've gone from the pajamas to actual bed sheets that we have our athletes and our clients sleep in ? You're creating more ATP production and getting greater blood oxygen levels.?

With Pliability, Your Age Becomes Just Another Number 

As you get into your 50s and 60s, you typically lose about 50 percent of your pliability. This is also when many people end up developing disabilities and start losing their range of motion. Guerrero?s pliability program can reverse some of that. One of the reasons you lose so much of your pliability is because virtually all movement is learned behavior, and few of us have learned proper body mechanics during our lives. Hence, the older you get, the less muscle pump function you have.

?Let's say you put in an average of 2 million steps a year. If you have a biomechanical asymmetry greater than 5 percent left to right, that load is going somewhere ? your soft tissue should take that load, but if it can't take that load over the course of time, your structure takes the load. That's why we're seeing knee replacements and a lot of hip replacements with people that age.

My feeling is that, if you're able to maintain pliability, or even if you get into that 50- or 60-year-old range ... as you increase their ability to have better muscle pump function through these pliability treatments, and get neural-primed and educate your body to support whatever your acts of daily living are, you?re able to function much more comfortably.

Our oldest client is 87; his best friend is 85. Their goal was to go ride the Tour de France circuit on their bikes. I thought that was a crazy goal, right? But they figured it would take them three months and they wanted to go do that. So, we put together a program for them, and they did it. They came back five months later, and not only did they do [the Tour de France], but they also decided to go on a [scuba] diving expedition ?

[A]ging [then] becomes a number, and your only ability to not do something is based on the muscles' ability to support whatever your acts of daily living are. I feel that pliability is the key to being able to accomplish that, [and] you can start to make physiologic change over the course of 14-day cycles. Over two weeks you can start to create new neural pathways for the way that you want to function and move ?

I certainly think you can accomplish whatever your heart sets out to accomplish. That's one of the reasons why we developed our TB12 Method app. People can download the app, see what it is they want to accomplish, click on that part of it, and then start their pliability program, their resistant band based program, their eating program ? all those things [that will] help them sustain their peak performance.?

Why Resistance Bands?

An interesting fact about Brady is that he nearly eliminated the use of weights several years ago. The idea behind that was that heavy lifting should not be done at the expense of pliability. Guerrero explains:

?Again, because everything is learned behavior ? when you do a lot of heavy weights, and you do them slow and controlled, and then you go out on the field and you ask your body to move fast and furious, it's counter [productive]. The body just doesn't neural-prime that way. So, we do weights, we just don't do a lot of really heavy weights.

A majority of our workouts are resistance band-based, primarily because [Tom] is getting older ? [and] we can both do accelerating and decelerating muscle groups at the exact same time, which you really cannot do with weights ? You can still get 500 pounds of pressure on a resistance band.

So, for example, Tom doesn't do bench presses, but when he has to test for bench press, he can still lift 225 pounds, 18 times. We don't lose any power or strength by doing [resistance bands]. We?re just looking to keep our muscles long and lean so that they can be functional for what you're asking them to do every day.?

Many of these workouts are included in the TB12 Method mobile app, so you can experiment with them yourself. Another interesting way to adopt the TB12 Method at home is through the use of vibrating rollers and vibrating spheres, which I'd never heard of before. These, too, are used to provide nervous system stimulation and greater blood circulation. Using a vibrating roller will also warm up and relax the muscle far faster than regular foam rolling will.

The vibrating sphere is basically a ball that does the same thing. You can find these items on TB12sports.com. Needless to say, hydration is important, but water alone may not do the trick. You also need to replenish lost electrolytes. Guerrero recommends drinking half of your total body weight in ounces of water each day.

Most athletes, and most people in general, are somewhat dehydrated, and to offset that, especially if you?re active, you need to add trace minerals. This will aid the regenerative process. Certain macrominerals, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium, are also important. TB12 Electrolytes, a product which can be found on the TB12 website, contains these along with 72 trace minerals. It?s flavorless and contains zero sugar. You simply mix it with water.

The TB12 Method

The TB12 Method is based upon 12 principles. These 12 principles encompass physical fitness, emotional stability and spiritual soundness. Guerrero believes it?s important to find a balance between all three.

?I think we do that through the type of workouts we do ? through pliability treatments, through cognitive exercises, proper diet and nutrition, hydration, rest and recovery,? he says. ?Those are all things we feel are very important to be able to tie in those three areas of our physical bodies ? I think a lot of people look at us ? as being different, maybe even controversial, but we certainly don't see it that way.

We really feel like this is something that certainly can be mainstream, and I think over the course of the years that we've been doing this, we're certainly seeing a lot more people take hold of it, understand it, apply it and really feel the benefits of it. I would say that for people who want to sustain their peak performance, first define what that means to you. You need to then tailor your program so that it is specific to you and your needs, because all of us are different.

We're different shapes, sizes, heights, weights. We move differently, we behave differently, we do things in a different way. So, a one-fits-all type of thing never really made a lot of sense to me ?

Once you?re able to define what sustaining peak performance is, I believe that age is just a number. And again, our oldest client is 87, and they're out riding bikes and diving with whales, enjoying the success of what they've accomplished through their life, and that's what I think everybody can have.?

More Information

I too am confident you can retain full functionality well into old age, but you do have to work at it. I believe TB12 can be a really valuable aid in that quest. Another one of Guerrero?s clients is a 77-year-old woman who runs four marathons a year ? and that?s how she defines her peak performance.

?I believe our method can help people redefine their lives so that they can go out and do the things they really enjoy doing,? he says. To learn more about this program, pick up a copy of ?The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.?

You can also download the TB12 Method app (currently available for iOS only). Last but not least, for those of you who cannot visit Guerrero?s facility to get the treatment, there?s good news. A certification program is in the works, which will be launched in spring 2018. If you?re an athletic trainer or health care provider interested in becoming a certified TB12 therapist, you can sign up for more information and updates on TB12sports.com. Eventually, the website will also contain a list of certified TB12 body coaches.

How Long Does It Actually Take to Bake Chicken?

Chicken has been a staple food throughout the world for thousands of years. It?s absolutely easy to cook, and can be paired with just about any ingredients to whip up a tasty and fulfilling meal. What?s more, organic pasture-raised chickens are rich in high-quality protein, and are also excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, including:[1],[2]

Niacin

Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B6

Riboflavin

Selenium

Phosphorus

Vitamin A

Choline

 

From chicken noodle soup to chicken pudding dessert (also called Tavuk gö?sü, a Turkish delicacy)[3], [ECF1] there are various ways to enjoy this healthy meat. However, just because it?s easy to cook doesn?t mean that you don?t have to pay attention to how you?re cooking it.

Keep in mind that you have to cook chicken thoroughly, as there are foodborne organisms associated with it, which may harm your health if ingested. Some of these harmful bacteria include:[4]

·         Salmonella enteritidis: This strain of Salmonella is found in the intestinal tracts of livestock, and is usually associated with poultry and shell eggs.[5] According to the World Health Organization, salmonella is one of the main causes of diarrheal diseases. It may also be life-threatening, especially for people with a weak immune system.[6]

·         Staphylococcus aureus: Staphylococcus aureus causes food poisoning. Its symptoms, which include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and dehydration, may occur one to six hours after ingestion.[7]

·         Campylobacter jejuni: Campylobacter from raw chicken may cause a life-threatening form of food poisoning. Since this bacteria can spread to other surfaces, it may be ingested by using unwashed cutting boards and utensils.[8]

·         Listeria monocytogenes: This bacteria causes a serious infection known as Listeriosis. Just like other foodborne diseases, its symptoms also start with fever and diarrhea. However, it may also affect other parts of the body over time, including the bones, joints, chest and abdomen.[9]

·         Escherichia coli (E. coli): E. coli is usually found in the intestines of animals and humans. Although most of its strains are fairly harmless, some may still cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and respiratory illnesses if ingested.[10]

Don?t let these bacteria discourage you from eating chicken, though. As long as you?re handling and cooking its meat properly, you and your loved ones should be safe. One important safety tip you should remember is to designate separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables. Avoid using the cutting board that you just used to prepare your chicken (or other meats) to cut vegetables, as this will lead to cross contamination.

While you?re at it, you may also want to consider baking your chicken. Baking chicken is one of the healthiest cooking options you have.[11] Plus, it allows you to effortlessly create your own recipe by mixing different sauces, spices and marinades.

However, baking chicken can be a bit tricky. If you bake it for too long, you might end up with dry, tasteless meat. Putting it in the oven for only a short period of time can also be disastrous, as it may end up uncooked, posing the threat of bacterial contamination.

How Long Does It Take to Bake Chicken?

There?s a variety of chicken cuts that you can bake, which is why it?s sometimes hard to tell which of the cuts need to be in the oven for a longer time versus a shorter time. The cooking time and temperature for baking chicken may also vary depending on its weight, the recipe that you?re cooking and the oven that you?re using.

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, chicken must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Take note of this standard since it may help you determine whether a chicken is safe for consumption or not, especially if you don?t know exactly how long you should bake it. When checking for the internal temperature, place the food thermometer in the innermost part of the thighs and wings or in the thickest part of the breast.

The ideal baking time for a whole chicken that weighs 5 to 7 pounds is approximately two hours and 15 minutes. However, it may take 50 percent longer to cook if it?s baked in a frozen state. You should also allow at least 10 minutes standing time for bone-in chickens.[12]

A Guide to Baking Different Chicken Parts

As I?ve mentioned above, the average cooking time for different chicken parts may vary. If you?re planning to bake different cuts, then you should know how long each of them takes to cook to ensure that you end up with a juicy and flavorful meat. Here are the approximate cooking times for specific chicken parts if baked at a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit:[13]

·         Whole chicken: A whole chicken that weighs 3 to 4 lbs. takes around 75 to 90 minutes to bake, while a chicken that weighs 5 to 7 lbs. takes 2 to 2 1/4 hours.[AMDN2] 

·         Chicken breast: It takes 20 to 30 minutes to bake a 4-ounce boneless chicken breast. For bone-in chicken breast that weighs 6 to 8 ounces, the baking time is 30 to 40 minutes.[AMDN3] 

·         Chicken thighs: It will take you 40 to 50 minutes to bake a bone-in chicken thigh that weighs 4 to 8 ounces. For boneless chicken thighs, the cooking time is approximately 10 to 15 minutes.[AMDN4] [14]

·         Chicken tenders: Boneless and skinless chicken tenders take 15 to 20 minutes to cook if baked at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.[15][AMDN5] 

·         Chicken wings: It can take 30 to 40 minutes to bake chicken wings that weigh 2 to 3 ounces.[AMDN6] 

·         Chicken legs: It takes 40 to 50 minutes to bake a chicken leg that weighs 4 to 8 ounces. Moreover, a 4-ounce drumstick takes approximately 35 to 45 minutes to cook.[AMDN7] 

The cooking times discussed above are applicable for unstuffed chickens, so you should allow an additional 15 to 30 minutes cooking time for stuffed ones. If you?re still unsure of whether or not the chicken is baked after its average cooking time, double-check its internal temperature using your food thermometer before you take it out of the oven.

Get Baking: Try Out This Healthy and Savory Chicken Recipe Now!

Now that you know the best baking time for every chicken part, you should put your knowledge to the test and try out this flavorful, keto-friendly Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe from world-renowned chef Pete Evans:

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Ingredients:

·         2 pounds free-range chicken drumsticks

·         2 bay leaves

·         Lime wedges, to serve

·         1 handful of coriander leaves, to serve

·         Roasted vegetables, to serve

 

Jerk marinade:

·         1 red onion, chopped

·         3 scallions, chopped

·         6 large garlic cloves, crushed

·         4 habaneros, deseeded and chopped

·         3 tablespoons lime juice

·         3 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos

·         3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

·         1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

·         1 tablespoon honey (optional)

·         1 tablespoon thyme leaves

·         1 tablespoon paprika

·         2 teaspoons ground allspice

·         2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

·         1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

·         1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

Procedure:

1.                   To make the jerk marinade, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a smooth paste.

2.                   Transfer the marinade to a large shallow bowl, add the chicken and bay leaves and turn the chicken to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results.

3.                   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

4.                   Bring the chicken to room temperature 20 minutes before cooking.

5.                   Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken drumsticks, in batches and cover, basting occasionally with the marinade, for five minutes or until browned on all sides.

6.                   Place the chicken in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Cover with foil and allow it to rest for five minutes before serving.

7.                   Arrange the chicken and lime wedges on a platter and sprinkle over the coriander leaves. Serve with roasted vegetables.

Why Using Organic Pasture-Raised Chickens Is a Big Deal

As I?ve mentioned above, chickens are a great source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. However, this is only true for organic pasture-raised chickens ? the only type of chicken that I recommend eating. Those that come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) offer little to no nutritional value. What?s worse is that they also make you more susceptible to foodborne infections and antibiotic-resistant diseases.

If you really want to make the most out of the nutrition that chickens have to offer, make sure that you get pasture-raised ones from local farmers. These organic chickens are antibiotic-free, and are allowed to forage freely for their natural diet of worms, insects and seeds. As a result, they contain superior nutritional value that can help improve your overall health[ECF8] .[AMDN9] 

 
 

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