fast food wrapperPerfluoroalkyls, which are chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers, are being ingested by people through their food and showing up as contaminants in blood.

Perfluoroalkyls are stable, synthetic chemicals that repel oil, grease, and water. They are used in surface protection treatments and coatings for packages.

The specific chemicals studied were polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs), which are the breakdown products of the perfluorinated carboxylic acids used in coating the food wrappers.

Common Dreams reports:

“The researchers used the PAP concentrations previously observed in human blood together with the PAP and PFCA concentrations observed in the rats to calculate human exposure to the chemical perflurooctanoic acid, PFOA.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Perfluoroalkyls, which are chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers, are being ingested by people through their food and showing up as contaminants in blood.

Perfluoroalkyls are stable, synthetic chemicals that repel oil, grease, and water. They are used in surface protection treatments and coatings for packages. The specific chemicals studied were polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs), which are the breakdown products of the perfluorinated carboxylic acids used in coating the food wrappers.

You know that eating fast food is not good for you, but now you have a new reason to avoid it as it turns out that even the wrapper used to store the food until you eat it is toxic.

You may not realize it, but you and your family are continually exposed to a hazardous class of chemicals called perfluoroalkyls, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

Common, everyday sources of exposure include:

Drinking water

Air

Dust

Food packaging / Fast food wrappers

Microwave popcorn

Non-stick pots and pans

Cord blood and breast milk

Stain-proof clothing

Carpet and fabric protectors

Flame retardants

 

According to recent survey results, these chemicals can be detected in nearly all people in the US, including children! 

And it’s not just PFOA and PFOS that show up. The CDC’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, 2009 (which is considered the most comprehensive assessment to date of the exposure of the U.S. population to chemicals in our environment), detected a total of 12 different types of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in Americans tested.

I’ve written many articles about one of the most common sources of these hazardous chemicals, namely non-stick cookware. But the study above brings up yet another pervasive source – fast food wrappers!

Regulators’ Assumptions Proven All Wrong – Again!

Three years ago, environmental chemists Scott Mabury and Jessica D’eon established that food wrappers are indeed a source of perfluorinated chemicals, specifically polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters, known as PAPs.

PAPs are byproducts of perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs, which include PFOA), which are commonly used to coat different types of food wrappers.

In this study, the pair shows that these chemicals can, and do, transfer from the wrappers into the food, and that food wrappers are in fact a source of human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA.

According to Madbury, our regulators made three assumptions about these chemicals, all of which have now been proven wrong:

  1. The chemicals will not migrate from the paper into the food
  2. The chemicals will not become available to your body
  3. Your body will not process these chemicals

The Many Health Dangers of PFCs

These chemicals are part of an expanding group of chemicals commonly referred to as “gender-bending” chemicals, because they can disrupt your endocrine system and affect your sex hormones.

But researchers have also linked them to a range of other health dangers.

In animal studies, PFOA has been associated with:

  • “Significant increases in treatment related deaths” in rat offspring at doses that did not affect the mothers
  • Serious changes in the weight of various organs, including the brain, prostate, liver, thymus, and kidneys
  • The deaths of a significant number of rat pups of mothers that had been exposed to PFOA
  • Damage to the pituitary at all doses in female rat offspring (The pituitary secretes hormones that regulate growth, reproduction, and many metabolic processes. Change in pituitary size is associated with toxicity)
  • Tumor development after prolonged exposure

Other studies have linked various PFC’s to:

  • Infertility — A study published in the journal Human Reproduction last year found that both PFOA and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), dramatically increased the odds of infertility.

    PFOS increased the risk of infertility anywhere from 70 to 134 percent, while PFOA was linked to a 60 to 154 percent increase in the chance of infertility.

  • Thyroid disease — A study published in May of this year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that PFOA can damage your thyroid function. Individuals with the highest PFOA concentrations were more than twice as likely to report current thyroid disease, compared to those with the lowest PFOA concentrations.

    Your thyroid contains thyroglobulin protein, which binds to iodine to form hormones, which in turn influence essentially every organ, tissue and cell in your body. Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. Thyroid disease, if left untreated, can lead to heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis.

  • Cancer — PFOA has been associated with tumors in at least four different organs in animal tests (liver, pancreas, testicles and mammary glands in rats), and has been associated with increases in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers.

    The EPA has ruled PFCs as “likely carcinogens,” and has stated that PFOA “poses developmental and reproductive risks to humans.”

  • Immune system problems — Several studies by scientists in Sweden indicate that PFC’s have an adverse effect on your immune system. As described in a report on PFC’s by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), PFOA was found to decrease all immune cell subpopulations studied, in the thymus and spleen, and caused immunosupression.
  • Increased LDL cholesterol levels – A recent study in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine implicates both PFOA and PFOS. Children and teens with higher PFOA levels had higher levels of total cholesterol and LDL or “bad” cholesterol, while PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, including both LDL cholesterol and HDL or “good” cholesterol.

For more information on the studies linking PFC’s with various health problems, please review the Environmental Working Groups extensive report on this topic.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Health?

I strongly recommend avoiding any product you know contain these toxic compounds, particularly non-stick cookware, but also foods sold in grease-proof food packaging, such as fast food.

Clearly, if you’re eating fast food, PFC’s from the wrapper may be the least of your problems, but I think it’s still important to realize that not only are you not getting proper nutrition from the food itself, the wrappers may also add to your toxic burden.

Most important of all, however, is ditching your non-stick cookware, because they’re a MAJOR source of PFC’s, particularly PFOA. The moment you heat them, they start to liberate fluoride vapors that are so toxic they will kill small birds!

Every time you cook with them, you inhale these chemicals, and the food in the pan absorbs them too, turning every home-cooked meal toxic…

As for identifying other products to avoid, the Environmental Working Group has done an extensive search for common products containing PFC’s. You can look through their listings here.

Keep in mind that avoiding these products is especially crucial for pregnant women or couples who want to have children, since PFC’s can have a serious impact on your fertility, and on your baby’s delicate hormonal system.

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fruit juiceDrinking too much soda or fruit juice will increase your risk of developing gout, a painful form of arthritis, according to a new study.

Women who drank two cans or more of non-diet soda a day, or 12 ounces or more of orange juice a day, were more than twice as likely to develop gout. Women who drank just one soda or 6-ounce glass of juice per day were at 74 percent and 41 percent greater risk, respectively.

CNN reports:

“The culprit appears to be fructose … [F]ructose increases levels of the chemical uric acid, which causes gout. When uric acid levels in the body get too high, the acid hardens into sharp crystals that are deposited in joints.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by painful, stiff and inflamed joints. It can occur in any joint of your body, but most commonly occurs in your big toe.

The stiffness and swelling are a result of excess uric acid forming crystals in your joints, and the pain associated with this disease is caused by your body’s inflammatory response to the uric acid crystals. 

Gout affects between 2 million and 5 million Americans, and the prevalence is increasing, both in the US and other developing countries.

This comes as no surprise, because the principal reason for the rising incidence of this painful type of arthritis stems from our modern diet, which is chockfull of fructose, mainly in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

New Evidence Confirms Fructose/Uric Acid/Gout Connection

The latest JAMA study, cited above, used data from the 22-year long Nurses’ Health Study, which included nearly 79,000 women.

The analysis showed that women who drank more than two cans of soda per day were more than twice as likely to develop gout, compared with women who rarely drank soda.

Drinking 12 ounces or more of orange juice daily had the roughly the same effect.

Additionally, as reported by CNN:

“Women who had just one soda or 6-ounce glass of OJ per day were at 74 percent and 41 percent greater risk, respectively, compared with women who rarely drank either.

The culprit appears to be fructose, says the lead author of the study, Dr. Hyon Choi, M.D., a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.”

A similar study on men was published two years ago.

In that study, men who drank two or more sugary soft drinks a day had an 85 percent higher risk of gout than those who drank less than one a month.

The risk significantly increased among men who drank five to six servings of sugary soft drinks a week. Fruit juice and fructose-rich fruits such as oranges and apples also increased the risk.

This is why I always recommend paying equal attention to the fructose consumed in the form of fruit juices and even whole fruits, and not just that from soda and processed foods. For a helpful chart showing the fructose content of common fruits, please see this link.

As a general rule, I recommend limiting your total fructose intake to 25 grams per day, from ALL sources.

Since virtually all processed foods contain HFCS, it’s a wise move for most people to also limit total fructose from fruit to 15 grams per day. You could easily exceed the max of 25 grams due to this ‘hidden’ fructose in your diet, even if you consumed no soda or fruit… 

Fructose is the ONLY Sugar that Raises Uric Acid

I became fully aware of the dramatic and devastating impact fructose has on your uric acid levels when I interviewed Dr. Richard Johnson on this topic, earlier this year.

Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on how fructose — which is the number one source of calories in the American diet – causes obesity, diabetes, and a number of other common diseases, including:

  • Gout
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease 
  • Fatty liver disease

As it turns out, a major component of all of these diseases is elevated uric acid, and more recent research shows that fructose is the ONLY type of sugar that will raise your uric acid levels!

Fructose is distinctly different from other sugars as it’s metabolized through very specific pathways that differ from those of glucose, for example, and it is through this distinct metabolic action that uric acid is generated.

In fact, fructose typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion.

However… Glucose Boosts Harmful Effects of Fructose!

Yes, although glucose will not increase uric acid levels, it will accelerate fructose absorption! So when you MIX glucose and fructose together, you actually absorb more fructose than if you consumed fructose alone.

This is an important piece of information for people who want to make a better effort at controlling their weight and prevent disease.

At What Point Does Uric Acid Start Creating Disease?

According to Dr. Johnson’s research, uric acid appears to take on a lead role in creating health problems when it reaches levels in your body of 5.5 mg per dl or higher.

At this level, uric acid is associated with an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, as well as diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.

Dr. Johnson believes the ideal range for uric acid lies between 3 to 5.5 mg per dl.

How to Limit Your Fructose Consumption

According to Dr. Johnson’s research, a quarter of the US population consumes a whopping 134 grams of fructose a day. This is a staggering amount of fructose when you consider the fact that you need to restrict your fructose intake to below 25 grams a day in order to maintain good health.

This makes it pretty easy to see how so many fructose-related diseases have peaked to such unfathomable levels.

For example, this statistic dovetails nicely with the statistics showing that one in four Americans is also either pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes.

So, just how much fructose are you consuming every day?

I strongly advise you take a look at all the labels of everything you put in your mouth, and make sure you’re taking the serving size into account…

In his book, The Sugar Fix, Dr. Johnson provides detailed tables showing the content of fructose in different foods – an information base that isn’t readily available when you’re trying to find out exactly how much fructose is in various foods.

I do realize that reducing sugar/fructose in your diet can be tough for some people. After all, sugar is just as addictive as cocaine! But it is possible, and Dr. Johnson provides helpful guidelines for doing so in his book.

It calls for following a very low fructose diet for two weeks, which has the effect of “rebooting” your system and re-sensitizing your body to the fructose.

Additional Guidelines for Preventing and Treating Gout

If left untreated gout can become increasingly painful and lead to joint damage. So if you experience sudden, intense pain in your joints, especially your big toe, it’s important to seek help.

However, I strongly recommend avoiding drug therapies for gout, and drugs specifically designed to reduce uric acid levels. It makes little sense to gamble with side effects when most people can successfully reduce their uric acid levels simply by limiting or eliminating excessive fructose from their diet!

In addition, the following strategies can help you successfully address (or prevent) gout:   

  1. Modify your diet to fit your nutritional type. To help determine your nutritional type, take my free online nutritional typing test. We have charged thousands of people $29 for this test in the past, but now we’re able to offer the test entirely free of charge, so please, take advantage of this beneficial tool.
  2. Avoid drinking soda, fruit juice and other sweet beverages. As discussed above, these types of drinks are a primary source of excessive fructose. Instead, drink plenty of pure water, as the fluids will help to remove uric acid from your body. Cutting back on all forms of sugar and grain in your diet is also important.
  3. Limit or eliminate alcohol consumption, particularly beer. Alcohol in general, and beer specifically, may also raise the levels of uric acid in your blood.
  4. Exercise. Being overweight increases your risk of gout, and regular exercise will help you to maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall health.
  5. Try tart cherries or concentrated tart cherry juice. Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids. Both of these compounds slow down the enzymes Cyclo-oxyygenase-1 and -2, which helps to relieve and prevent arthritis and gout in your body.

Interestingly, we have had many readers state that alfalfa tablets have provided a fair measure of relief and improvement from gout as well. I have no experience with this but it would certainly seem another avenue to explore since it is a natural product with virtually no downside or side effects.

Nutmeg has also shown promise for relieving gout symptoms, so if you enjoy this spice feel free to add it liberally to your diet.

For even more information about gout and how to treat it without resorting to potentially dangerous drugs, please see my article Five Steps to Overcoming Gout Naturally.

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girl watching tvNo matter how physically active a child is, time spent in front of the computer or television screen is associated with psychological problems.

In other words, children can’t make up for TV time by spending extra hours exercising.

The findings also suggest that the way children spend their sedentary time, in addition to how much time they spend being sedentary in the first place, matters for their mental health.

According to Live Science:

“… [R]esearchers asked 1,013 British 10- and 11-year-olds how much time each day they spent in front of a computer or TV. The children also wore accelerometers around their waists for a week to track their physical activity and sedentary time …

The study found that … more than two hours a day in front of a TV or computer was associated with more emotional and behavioral difficulties.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

I’ve written about the wide variety of health benefits that exercise provides, one of which is treating depression and boosting mental health. These benefits apply to children as well as adults, and, in fact, the younger you start, the greater the long-term benefits.

However, there’s nary a household in the US that doesn’t have at least one TV, and/or a computer, and for all their potential benefits, TV-watching and computer use also has a long list of drawbacks, especially where children are concerned.

Most troubling is the finding that you may not be able to compensate for time spent in front of the TV or the computer screen. Because regardless of your child’s overall level of physical activity, spending more than two hours a day on these digital displays may be all it takes to impact their mental and emotional health…

Kids Spend an Astounding Amount of Time Watching TV or Using Computer

Today, less than one-third of kids aged 6 to 17 get at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise a day.

Compare that to the TV-watching statistics below, and you’ll realize just how troublesome the above findings may be. It may even be a crucial part of the equation that might explain why so many children are now using anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs.

Visual digital media such as television programming and educational DVD’s are being increasingly introduced to an ever younger audience.

Unfortunately, contrary to what you’ve been told, this type of educational material may actually retard language development rather than speed it up!

British psychologist Aric Sigman writes in his 2008 paper titled, DOES NOT COMPUTE, Screen Technology in Early Years Education:

“. [T]he scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching specially developed baby DVDs and videos such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby, children under 16 months understood an average of six to eight fewer words than children who did not watch them.

One of the authors stated,” The evidence is mounting that they are of no value and may in fact be harmful.

Given what we now know, I believe the onus is on the manufacturers to prove their claims that watching these programs can positively impact children’s cognitive development. The bottom line is the more a child watches baby DVDs and videos the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter.

Wow!

So much for Baby Einstein and teaching your child to use a computer as soon as they’re able to press a button, with the hopes of boosting their development…

The Steep Price of Letting Your Child have a TV in Their Bedroom

Keeping a TV in your child’s bedroom is not a wise parenting decision, based on the evidence available.

A growing body of research shows strong links between a TV in the bedroom and numerous health and educational problems.

Children with TVs in their bedroom:

  • Score lower on school tests
  • Are more likely to have sleep problems
  • Are more likely to be overweight
  • May have an increased risk of smoking
  • Tend to consume more unhealthy foods

Exercising More May Not Be Enough, Unless You Also Shut Off the TV…

Clearly, the vast majority of kids and teens are in dire need of more exercise. However, based on the findings reported in the journal Pediatrics this month, exercising more may not be enough to compensate for the detrimental impact of TV and computer use.

The other side of the equation is shutting off your TV and computer more often…

As reported by Live Science:

“The study found that regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or whether a child had hit puberty, more than two hours a day in front of a TV or computer was associated with more emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Most importantly, the connection between screen time and psychological problems held regardless of how much overall physical activity the kids engaged in.”

What that means is that it’s not a sedentary lifestyle that poses the greatest risk to your child’s mental health, but rather the activities your child engages in while being sedentary.

Other sedentary activities, such as reading or doing homework, had no detrimental impact on the children’s mental health.

Another interesting fact was that the total amount of time spent on sedentary activities in general also did not have a negative impact on mental health – only the amount of time spent watching TV or in front of the computer impacted their psychology and behavior.

The researchers found that:

  • Children who spent more than two hours a day watching TV or using a computer were 61 and 59 percent more likely to experience high levels of psychological difficulties, respectively
  • Children who spent more than two hours a day watching TV, and also failed to meet physical activity guidelines, were 70 percent more likely to experience high levels of psychological difficulties
  • This risk increased to 81 percent for children who used a computer for more than two hours a day while also failing to meet recommended exercise guidelines

Watching TV Changes Your Brain Chemistry

While much of the TV debate focuses on advertising messages and the impact of violent or sexually explicit programming on young minds, there’s an even more disturbing aspect to television.

As it turns out, TV may be harmful no matter what programs your kids are watching or what ads they’re exposed to!

Yes, television in and of itself is one of the most powerful brainwashing devices there is.

According to research by Dr. Aric Sigman, a British psychologist, watching TV actually causes physiological changes – mainly changes in your brain chemistry – and there’s nothing beneficial about them.

These changes have little to do with the content you’re watching, but rather the fact that when you’re watching a TV or computer screen, you’re in essence entraining your brain to function and process information differently.

Watching a TV (or computer screen) produces an almost narcotic effect on your brain, actually numbing areas that would be stimulated by other activities, like reading.

And, the longer you watch, the easier your brain slips into a receptive, passive mode, meaning that messages are streamed into your brain without any participation from you. This of course is every advertiser’s dream, and accounts for much of the success companies achieve by putting ads on TV.

Watching TV also disrupts the production of the hormone melatonin, according to Dr. Sigman, which could be playing a role in sleep disturbances and even causing early puberty in adolescents.

The 15 Potential Side Effects of Watching TV

Through his research, Dr. Sigman has identified 15 negative effects that he believes can be associated with watching television:

  1. Obesity
  2. Trouble healing
  3. Heart trouble
  4. Decreased metabolism
  5. Eyesight damage
  6. Alzheimer’s disease
  7. Decreased attention span
  8. Hormone disturbances
  9. Cancer
  10. Early puberty
  11. Autism
  12. Sleep difficulties
  13. Increased appetite
  14. Limited brain growth
  15. Diabetes

How to Get Your Kids Moving

I think there’s no doubt that it is imperative to limit your child’s TV, computer, and video game time, in addition to encouraging your child to spend more time doing some form of physical activity.

Overweight and obese children will need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and may benefit from closer to 60 minutes. But even if your child is not overweight, you should encourage him or her to take part in physically engaging activities after school and on the weekends – the benefits are just too plenty and too varied to be ignored, including boosting mental health.

Encourage your child to engage in activities that are naturally interesting to them, such as playing on the monkey bars, rollerblading, skateboarding, dancing or playing basketball with friends. Allow your kids to exercise in bursts throughout the day — a game of tag here, a bike ride there — so they don’t feel pressured or like they’re being “punished.”

Like adults, kids need variety to their exercise routines, so be sure your child is getting in aerobic, interval training, weight-training, stretching and core-building activities. This may sound daunting, but if your child participates in a gymnastics class, sprints around the backyard after the dog often and rides his bike after school, you’ll be covered.

Interestingly, burst-type interval exercises are typically what most children will do spontaneously, and even young children can begin implementing Peak 8 exercises. This type of high-intensity exertion is what most people are missing from their exercise program.

Last but not least, remember that you act as a role model by staying active yourself.

If your kids see you embracing exercise in a positive way, they will naturally follow suit. Plus, it’s easy to plan active activities that involve the whole family and double up as fun ways to spend time together. Hiking, bike riding, canoeing, swimming and sports are all great options.

Think of it this way . by taking the time to get your kids interested in exercise now, you’re giving them a gift that will keep them healthy and happy for the rest of their lives. Combine that with reduced TV and computer use, and you’re giving your child the best platform possible for a healthy, long life – physically, mentally and emotionally.

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manganese formulaAccording to a report in Science Daily, a new Canadian study shows that children exposed to high concentrations of manganese in drinking water performed worse on tests of intellectual functioning than children with lower exposures.

The results were published in an article in Environmental Health Perspectives.

While manganese is naturally occurring in soil and groundwater around the world, some of Canada’s groundwater contains an unusually high amount of it, giving the researchers an opportunity to study whether excessive manganese can adversely affect human health.

“We found significant deficits in the intelligence quotient (IQ) of children exposed to higher concentration of manganese in drinking water,” said lead author Maryse Bouchard.

Yet, some areas where lower IQs were reported also registered concentrations below current guidelines. In response to the study, some of the affected municipalities have already decided to install special filtration systems.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

You probably know that manganese is an essential nutrient, but were you aware that when consumed in excess, manganese becomes a potent neurotoxin?

Studies on miners and steelworkers, for example, have shown that excessive exposure to manganese can cause manganese poisoning, Parkinson’s disease, and Wilson’s disease, for example.

Manganese occurs naturally in soil and can therefore be present in groundwater to a greater or lesser degree. Hence some people who drink well water could be exposed to higher naturally-occurring levels of manganese.

But there is another source of manganese that many people are completely unaware of, which may be even more significant than groundwater, and that is soy infant formula!

Soy formula is frequently used when a baby is allergic to milk, or if the parents are somehow convinced that soy is a healthier alternative. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, because soy formula could easily be considered one of the most DANGEROUS food products on the market.

I always recommend breast feeding, if at all possible, but if you can’t, please educate yourself about the dangers of soy formula!

This is such an important issue because so many mothers end up using formula in lieu of breast feeding or after breast feeding for a short time, not realizing just how bad most formulas are for their baby’s health, particularly soy formula.

I’ve been concerned about this for a long time, and my team has now been working on an infant formula for an entire year. We still have about another year to go, but once we’re done we should be able to offer the best commercial infant formula available in the US.

Soy Infant Formula is LOADED with Manganese!

Yes, researchers have found that soybean plants absorb manganese from the soil and concentrate it, so that its use in soy-based infant formula can result in as much as 200 times the level found in natural breast milk!

Such high concentrations can wreak havoc on your baby’s immature metabolic systems.

I rarely talk about absolutes but this is one instant where I will say: NEVER give your child soy formula. (I guess the only exception would be if there was a catastrophe and soy formula was the only food source temporarily available to keep your baby alive.) 

Because just like this latest study confirms, high concentrations of manganese, such as those found in soy formula, can lead to brain damage in infants and altered behaviors in adolescents.

In the study reported by Science Daily, researchers discovered that higher concentrations of manganese in groundwater significantly lowered the IQ of the children who drank it, even though the levels were below current guidelines.

A total of 362 children, aged six to 13, living in homes with individual or public wells were examined to test cognition, motor skills and behavior.

Science Daily reports:

“The average IQ of children whose tap water was in the upper 20% of manganese concentration was 6 points below children whose water contained little or no manganese.

The analyses of the association between manganese in tap water and children’s IQ took into account various factors such as family income, maternal intelligence, maternal education, and the presence of other metals in the water.

. For co-author Donna Mergler, “This is a very marked effect; few environmental contaminants have shown such a strong correlation with intellectual ability.”

The authors state that the amount of manganese present in food showed no relationship to the children’s IQ.”

For Maximum Health Hazard, Just Add Fluoridated Water…

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are a number of other factors that make soy formula an even more dangerous option.

One of these factors is the fact that fluoride can increase manganese absorption, so if you mix the powdered- or concentrated soy formula with fluoridated water, you’re worsening matters even further!

Fluoride and manganese interact in a number of ways through various pathways.

For example, fluorides can cause zinc deficiency which in turn can cause damage to your brain by altering your manganese levels.

This is because fluorides act as a TSH (thyroid-stimulating-hormone) analogue, and along with iodine, zinc and selenium are also controlled by TSH. And when you’re deficient in zinc, the manganese levels in your brain become altered.

Other Health Dangers of Soy Formula

Another significant issue is the estrogen in soy.

A soy-fed baby receives the equivalent of five birth control pills’ worth of estrogen every day! These babies’ isoflavone levels are typically anywhere between 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than in non-soy fed infants.

Unfermented soy is not a healthy option for anyone, but when you’re feeding soy to an infant, you’re really setting the stage for a number of health problems.

Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies linking soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility-even cancer and heart disease.

For more information about the many ways soy can damage your health – and certainly your baby’s, if you’re feeding them soy formula – please review this recent report.

It’s also worth noting that at least 91 percent of soy grown in the US is also genetically modified (GM), and this too can have serious health effects.

Not only is the soy loaded with toxic pesticide, the plants also contain genes from bacteria that produce a protein that has never been part of the human food supply. Hence, GM soy has been linked to an increase in allergies.

Disturbingly, the only published human feeding study on GM foods ever conducted verified that the gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of our gut bacteria and continues to function. This means that years after you stop eating GM soy, you may still have a potentially allergenic protein continuously being produced in your intestines.

Even more frightening is the potential for GM soy to cause infertility in future generations, which has been evidenced by recent Russian research.

Soy-based formula also typically includes cornstarch, cornstarch hydrolysate (remember, any corn derivatives are also suspect of being GM), tapioca starch, or sucrose instead of lactose.  

(Did you know that many infant formulas actually have MORE sugar than a can of soda? Do you really feel comfortable giving your precious newborn a can of soda for EVERY meal?  If not, then it would sure seem best to avoid them ALL like the plague.)

All these things considered, it’s truly shocking that soy formula is even allowed on the market.

The Benefits of Breast Feeding, and Healthier Alternatives

One of the best gifts you can give your child is to start out their life with a sound nutritional foundation, and the best way to do this is by breastfeeding. In fact, statistics show a clear correlation between feeding infants artificial formula and increased infant mortality within the first year.

It’s important to realize that there are at least 400 nutrients in breast milk that are NOT found in formula. Of course, the healthier that a new mom eats, the healthier her breast milk will be, too.

While any amount of breastfeeding is better than none at all, it is clearly to your advantage, and best for your baby’s health, to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first 6 months. Then, at the age of 6 or 9 months, you can begin to supplement with solid foods (while still continuing to breastfeed as well).

What exactly does your baby stand to gain by being breastfed?

  • Lower risk of respiratory tract and middle ear infections
  • Lower risk of eczema
  • Lower risk of obesity
  • Added protection against heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and allergies
  • Improved brain function and immune system function

There are benefits to mom, too. The main ones are a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer, a faster return to your pre-pregnancy weight, and increased bonding between you and your baby.

There are certain medical conditions that can prevent a woman from breastfeeding, however the majority of women are able to breastfeed successfully. If you need help, contact a lactation consultant in your area for tips and support. You can also visit La Leche League, which is a phenomenal resource for breastfeeding moms.

If for some reason you’re not able to breastfeed, or you have adopted a baby, your next best option is to make a healthy infant formula using raw milk. You can find homemade formula recipes here.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, we’re also in the process of producing the finest infant formula on the market. I’m hoping to have it available in about a year.

How Can You Protect Your Child from Excessive Manganese Exposure?

First and foremost, do not give your child soy formula or other unfermented soy foods.

As for manganese in your well water, your best bet is to use a high quality filtering system using activated carbon. A well designed activated carbon filter system is the simplest, most convenient, and most user friendly option to purify your drinking water.

A good system will likely consist of multiple filter cartridges; one to protect the carbon from larger contaminants in the water, and another containing carbon designed to remove trihalomethanes – a dangerous disinfection byproduct. Some systems also contain a backup carbon filter to ensure that all contaminants have been filtered out. 

For more information about filtering systems and water quality, please see this previous article.

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memory lossGetting older, in and of itself, is not the cause of so-called “senior moments”. A new study found that even these mild memory lapses are caused by the same brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Researchers found that in the last four to five years of life, people’s memory showed a very rapid decline. Pathologic lesions were found to be related to this rapid decline. The preceding years showed a much more gradual decline that was the actual result of normal aging.

According to Newswise:

“… [R]ecognizing that the earliest changes in memory are related to Alzheimer’s pathology can lead to early diagnosis and will be critical information if a treatment is developed that can alter the pathologic course of the disease.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

I’ve often said that memory loss is not at all a “normal part of aging,” and this latest research further supports this stance. You do not have to accept those “senior moments” as being inevitable or unavoidable.

In fact, if you notice memory lapses, you may want to seriously consider making some immediate lifestyle changes to help reverse, or at least minimize further damage, because as this research shows, all deterioration of cognitive function appears to be caused by the same type of brain lesions found in those with Alzheimer’s disease – the most severe form of dementia…

If your memory is currently sharp as a tack, you’re either doing everything right already, or you can ensure it’ll stay that way by implementing the healthy brain strategies I’ll discuss in this article.

Interestingly, you’ll find that many of the same lifestyle changes that will lower your risk of diabetes will also improve your chances of keeping your mind intact.

Surprising Finding – Even Mild Memory Loss is Caused by Pathological Changes

Brain lesions have been associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s for some time, but the researchers were surprised to discover that even very mild memory loss appears to be linked to the presence of the same type of damage seen in more serious cases of cognitive decline.

Newswise reports:

“The very early mild cognitive changes once thought to be normal aging are really the first signs of progressive dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s disease.” said Robert S.Wilson, PhD, neuropsychologist at Rush University Medical Center.

“The pathology in the brain related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias has a much greater impact on memory function in old age than we previously recognized.”

This may sound frightening to some, but remember, you CAN prevent cognitive decline, and I’ll discuss several of the most effective strategies below.

Those who experienced hardly any decline in their cognitive function up until their death, were also found (post-mortem) to be free of brain lesions, further emphasizing the importance of preventing the damage from occurring in the first place.

Newswise quotes Dr. Wilson as saying:

“Our study finds that Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are the root cause of virtually all loss of cognition and memory in old age.

They aren’t the only contributing factors; other factors affect how vulnerable we are to the pathology and to its effects. But the pathology does appear to be the main force that is driving cognitive decline in old age.”

As mentioned in the Newswise article, noticing these initial changes, such as the minor memory lapses that are typically associated with “just getting older,” can be very important and should not be ignored. However, most likely the conventional treatment will end up being some form of pharmacological intervention.

This is typically NOT going to be your best bet.

The Best Strategy to Prevent Memory Loss and Cognitive Decline

Diet and exercise work hand-in-hand, forming your primary defense against all disease, including brain disorders of all kinds.

Previous studies have shown that elderly individuals who consume a healthy diet are in fact less likely to suffer symptoms of dementia as they age, and an increasing amount of research attests to the power of exercise to keep your mind sharp.

Avoiding sugars and grains, and being mindful of eating foods that do not cause major spikes in your glucose levels, is very important if you want to optimize your health and maintain optimal brain function, regardless of your age.

Because while increasing age is the greatest risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s, insulin resistance and diabetes are also factors that significantly increase your risk. Diabetics have up to a 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, for example.

Exercise is a Vital Component of Brain Health

John J. Ratey, a psychiatrist who wrote the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, says that there is overwhelming evidence that exercise produces large cognitive gains and helps fight dementia.

He claims you can easily “push back cognitive decline by anywhere from 10 to 15 years” by incorporating an exercise regimen three to four times a week – even if you begin during middle age, and exercise at a moderate rate.

Although the mind-body research into the benefits of exercise against dementia may still be in its infancy, there is compelling evidence that regular exercise promotes essential cell and tissue repair mechanisms, including growth of new brain cells.

Physical exercise may also protect against mild cognitive impairment by:

  • Promoting production of nerve-protecting compounds
  • Increasing blood flow to your brain
  • Improving development and survival of neurons
  • Decreasing your risk of heart and blood vessel diseases that can impact brain function

In essence, exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing your nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage.

Eat Your Veggies to Protect Against Mental Decline

Boosting your vegetable intake is a surefire way to optimize your health, and may also help prevent age-related mental decline.

Research has shown that vegetables such as spinach may be beneficial in slowing down age-related central nervous system and cognitive behavioral deficits. Nutritional intervention with vegetables may even play an important role in reversing cognitive decline.

What makes veggies such a powerful ally against cognitive decline?

Vegetables are key sources of antioxidants, nutrients that disarm harmful molecules called free radicals — the undesirable byproducts of various metabolic functions, which damage cells. Over time, this damage, called oxidative damage or oxidative stress, is believed to play a leading role in age-related changes in your health.

Your brain may be particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of free radicals because it is relatively deficient in antioxidants to begin with. Free radical destruction is thought to be a contributing factor to the decline in memory and motor performance seen in aging.

This is another reason for eating whole foods, and not just supplements.

Foods containing a variety of phytochemicals, including phytochemicals with antioxidant properties, offer much greater protection and health benefits than individual nutrients.

However, even when it comes to something as healthy as vegetables, it’s important to know which ones are the most beneficial for you, as we’re all created differently. The way to determine which ones may be best for your individual constitution, I strongly recommend taking my free online nutritional typing test.

Eating vegetables that work best for your nutritional type, which is based on your personal biochemistry, can truly maximize the health benefits you can reap from your diet.

Omega-3s are Vital for Healthy Brain Function

Probably one of the most essential nutrients for your brain are omega-3 fats. In fact, 50 percent of your brain is an omega-3 fat called DHA.

A number of studies have shown that omega-3s can offer protection against cognitive deterioration.

Several protective mechanisms have been suggested, including:

  • Reducing inflammation in your brain
  • Limiting the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Influencing membrane functioning
  • Regenerating nerve cells

Unfortunately, the ideal source of omega-3 — fish — is typically not a safe source anymore, as most fish are now severely contaminated. This is why I recommend getting your omega-3 from a high quality krill oil instead. In addition to being more absorbable than fish oil, it’s also loaded with beneficial antioxidants and is clearly the most sustainable source of animal-based omega-3 on the planet.

Foods to AVOID to Keep Your Mind Sharp

In addition to knowing what kinds of foods to add to your diet, it’s equally important to know what to avoid, in order to protect the health of your brain.

Four foods in particular can be pinpointed as the enemies of optimal brain health:

  1. Sugars, especially fructose
  2. Grains
  3. Aspartame
  4. Soy

Excessive sugar and grain consumption are the driving factors behind insulin resistance, and as mentioned at the beginning of this comment, the strategies that protect your brain are very similar to those for avoiding diabetes.

There is simply no question that insulin resistance is one of the most pervasive influences on brain damage, as it contributes massively to inflammation, which will prematurely degenerate your brain.

Ideally, you’ll want to restrict your total fructose consumption to below 25 grams a day. This includes refraining from eating too many fruits, if you normally eat a lot of them. If you consume more than 25 grams a day of fructose you can damage your cells by creating insulin and leptin resistance and raising your uric acid levels.

Berries tend to be lower in fructose, and wild blueberries, for example, are high in anthocyanin and antioxidants, and are well-known for being beneficial against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

However, the answer is definitely not to use artificial sweeteners instead!

Aspartame, for example, is an excitotoxin that can literally destroy your brain cells. There are many studies showing the dangers of aspartame. For example, one study published in 2000 found that aspartate shortens the memory response, impairs memory retention and damages hypothalamic neurons in mice.

And the results from a 2002 study published in the journal Nature suggest that aspartate may cause mental retardation, although the mechanism by which it does that is still unknown.

Other animal studies have linked aspartame to brain damage and brain tumors, even in low doses.

I believe aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are dangerous to your health in so many ways, I even wrote an entire book on this topic called Sweet Deception.

Unfermented soy products are another common food that should be avoided if you want to maintain healthy brain function.

One well-designed epidemiological study linked tofu consumption with exaggerated brain aging. Men who ate tofu at least twice weekly had more cognitive impairment, compared with those who rarely or never ate the soybean curd, and their cognitive test results were about equivalent to what they would have been if they were five years older than their current age.

What’s more, higher midlife tofu consumption was also associated with low brain weight. Shrinkage does occur naturally with age, but for the men who had consumed more tofu showed an exaggeration of the usual patterns you typically see in aging.

Dr. Kaayla Daniel has written an excellent book, The Whole Soy Story, which covers the health dangers of soy in great depth and I highly recommend it to anyone still under the illusion that soy is a health food.

Other Brain-Healthy Lifestyle Strategies

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll also want to:

  1. Optimize your vitamin D levelsthrough safe sun exposure, a safe tanning bed and/or vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D plays a very important role in brain development and function, so get tested regularly to make sure you maintain healthy levels year-round.
  2. Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, such as traveling, learning to play an instrument or doing crossword puzzles, is associated with a decreased risk of 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.
  3. Avoid mercury. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed.

    Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a qualified biological dentist to have your amalgams removed. (Be sure to only use a high-quality biologically trained dentist who is familiar with the removal of amalgam fillings or your health could get ruined.)

  4. Avoid aluminum, commonly found in items such as antiperspirants and aluminum cookware.

    Avoid flu vaccinations as well, as they contain both mercury and aluminum!

  5. Avoid fluoride. Fluoride is another powerful neurotoxin. The most common sources would be in your water and toothpaste. But it is also a part of some antibiotics (like Cipro), soy protein, and pesticides, so seek to have as much of your food organically grown as possible, and filter your tap water with a reverse osmosis filter to eliminate the fluoride.

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