By Dr. Mercola
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect two million Americans every year, causing at least 23,000 deaths. Even more die from complications related to the infections, and the numbers are steadily growing.
It's now clear that we are facing the perfect storm to take us back to the pre-antibiotic age, when some of the most important advances in modern medicine – intensive care, organ transplants, care for premature babies, surgeries and even treatment for many common bacterial infections – will no longer be possible.
Experts have been warning about the implications of antibiotic resistance for years, but it's time to face the facts. Many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to even our strongest antibiotics and are causing deadly infections.
The bacteria are capable of evolving much faster than we are. Secondly, drug companies have all but abandoned the development of new antibiotics because of their poor profit margins.
Antibiotic Resistance: How Did This Happen?
Antibiotic overuse and inappropriate use – such as taking antibiotics to treat viral infections -- bears a heavy responsibility for creating the antibiotic-resistant superbug crisis we are facing today.
According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as much as half of all antibiotics used in clinics and hospitals "are either unneeded or patients are getting the wrong drugs to treat their infections."1
There's more to the story than this, however, as antibiotic overuse occurs not just in medicine, but also in food production. In fact, agricultural usage accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the US,2 so it's a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption.
Nearly 25 million pounds of antibiotics are administered to livestock in the US every year for purposes other than treating disease, such as making the animals grow bigger faster.
In other parts of the world, such as the EU, adding antibiotics to animal feed to accelerate growth has been banned for years. The antibiotic residues in meat and dairy, as well as the resistant bacteria, are passed on to you in the foods you eat.
"The more you use an antibiotic, the more you expose a bacteria to an antibiotic, the greater the likelihood that resistance to that antibiotic is going to develop. So the more antibiotics we put into people, we put into the environment, we put into livestock, the more opportunities we create for these bacteria to become resistant."
This is a much bigger issue than antibiotics simply being left behind in your meat. For instance, bacteria often share genes that make them resistant. In other words, the drug-resistant bacteria that contaminates your meat may pass on their resistant genes to other bacteria in your body, making you more likely to become sick.
Drug-resistant bacteria also accumulate in manure that is spread on fields and enters waterways, allowing the drug-resistant bacteria to spread far and wide and ultimately back up the food chain to us. You can see how easily antibiotic resistance spreads, via the food you eat and community contact, in the CDC's infographic below.
Source: CDC.gov, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013
One-Third of the Most Dangerous Resistant Pathogens Are Found in Your Food
According to the CDC's report, there are 12 resistant pathogens that pose a "serious" threat to public health. One-third of them are found in food. The four drug-resistant pathogens in question are:
- Campylobacter, which causes an estimated 310,000 infections and 28 deaths per year
- Salmonella, responsible for another 100,000 infections and 38 deaths annually
- E. coli
Previous research suggested you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store.4 But it may be even worse. Using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011. EWG nutritionist and the report's lead researcher, Dawn Undurraga, issued the following warning to the public:5
"Consumers should be very concerned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of most American supermarkets... These organisms can cause foodborne illnesses and other infections. Worse, they spread antibiotic-resistance, which threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective."
What Happens When a Country Takes Its Livestock Off Antibiotics?
In the US, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are hotbeds for breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the continuous feeding of low doses of antibiotics to the animals, who become living bioreactors for pathogens to survive, adapt, and eventually, thrive. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) ruled that antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health, worldwide, and the primary cause for this man-made epidemic is the widespread misuse of antibiotics.6
Measures to curb the rampant overuse of agricultural antibiotics could have a major impact in the US, as evidenced by actions taken in other countries. For example, Denmark stopped the widespread use of antibiotics in their pork industry 14 years ago. The European Union has also banned the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed over concerns of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
After Denmark implemented the antibiotic ban, it was later confirmed the country had drastically reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their animals and food. Furthermore, the Danish 'experiment' proved that removing antibiotics doesn't have to hurt the industry's bottom line. In the first 12 years of the ban, the Danish pork industry grew by 43 percent -- making it one of the top exporters of pork in the world. As reported by Consumer Reports:7
"What happens when a country takes its livestock off antibiotics? In 2000 Denmark's pork industry ceased using antibiotics to promote the growth of its animals. Instead of eviscerating the nation's pork industry, those moves contributed to a 50 percent rise in pork production, according to a 2012 article in the journal Nature.8
Frank Aarestrup, D.V.M., Ph.D., head of the EU Reference Laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance and author of the article, attributes Denmark's success to three factors: laws banning the improper use of antibiotics, a robust system of surveillance and enforcement, and rules that prevent veterinarians from profiting from selling antibiotics to farmers. 'Farmers and their livestock can thrive without the heavy use of antibiotics,' Aarestrup wrote. 'With a little effort, I believe that other countries can and must help their farmers to do the same.'"
What's Standing in the Way of Curbing Antibiotic Use in the US?
In a word, industry. For instance, the American Pork Industry doesn't want to curb antibiotic use, as this would mean raising the cost of producing pork by an estimated $5 for every 100 pounds of pork brought to market. The pharmaceutical industry is obviously against it as well. Even though they're not keen on producing new antibiotics to bring to the market, they want to protect those that are already here – especially those incredibly lucrative varieties that are used perpetually in animal feed. Even Dr. Aarestrup, who helped Denmark cut the use of antibiotics in livestock by 60 percent, wrote about the intense industry pressures he faced:9
"Reducing Denmark's reliance on antibiotics was far from easy. My lab was visited by pharmaceutical executives who did not like what we were finding, and I would be cornered at meetings by people who disagreed with our conclusions. I have even been publicly accused of being paid to produce biased results. Despite such challenges, it has been satisfying to see that Danish farmers and their livestock can thrive without the heavy use of antibiotics. …The practice continues unabated in the United States, despite a statement from the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]… suggesting that farmers should stop voluntarily."
FDA Again Fails to Take Appropriate Action on Agricultural Antibiotics
The FDA issued its long-awaited guidance on agricultural antibiotics on December 11, 2013.10 Unfortunately, it's unlikely to have a major impact in terms of protecting your health. The agency is simply asking drug companies to voluntarily restrict the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine by excluding growth promotion in animals as a listed use on the drug label.11 This would prevent farmers from legally using antibiotics such as tetracyclines, penicillins, and azithromycin for growth promotion purposes. But it certainly does not go far enough to protect public health. The guidance contains far too many loopholes for any meaningful protection.
For example, farmers would still be allowed to use antibiotics for therapeutic purposes, which would allow them to continue feeding their animals antibiotics for growth promotion without actually admitting that's the reason for doing so. As reported by Scientific American:12
"[T]he success of the FDA's new program depends on how many companies volunteer to change their labels over the next 90 days in alignment with the FDA cutoff period. (Companies that do change their labels will have three years to phase in the changes.) And then there are myriad questions about how this would be enforced on the farm."
In short, while giving the superficial appearance of taking warranted action to protect public health, the reality is that they're simply shills for the industry. Michael Taylor,13 FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, and former VP for public policy at Monsanto, is again responsible for caving in to industry at the expense of human lives.
Why Did FDA Ignore Risk Factors from the Very Beginning?
According to a recent report14 from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the FDA has known that using antibiotics in factory farms is harmful to human health for over a dozen years, yet it took no action to curb its use. And now, all they're doing is asking drug companies, who make massive amounts of money from these products, to voluntary restrict their use.
The report also found that 26 of the 30 drugs reviewed by the FDA did not meet safety guidelines issued in 1973, and NONE of the 30 drugs would meet today's safety guidelines... As reported by Rodale Magazine,15 the FDA is supposed to look at three factors when determining the safety of an antibiotic-based feed additive. Based on the three factors listed below, the NRDC's report16 concluded that virtually ALL feed additives containing penicillin and tetracycline antibiotics—both of which are used to treat human disease—pose a "high risk" to human health, and should not be permitted:
- The chances that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are being introduced into the food supply
- The likelihood that people would get exposed to those bacteria
- The consequences of what happens when people are exposed to those bacteria—would they still be able to get treated with human antibiotics?
Looking on the Brighter Side
The impending superbug crisis has a three-prong solution:
- Better infection prevention, with a focus on strengthening your immune system naturally
- More responsible use of antibiotics for people and animals, with a return to biodynamic farming and a complete overhaul of our food system
- Innovative new approaches to the treatment of infections from all branches of science, natural as well as allopathic
There are some promising new avenues of study that may result in fresh ways to fight superbugs. For example, Dutch scientists have discovered a way to deactivate antibiotics with a blast of ultraviolet light before bacteria have a chance to adapt, and before the antibiotics can damage your good bacteria.17
And British scientists have discovered how bacteria talk to each other through "quorum signaling" and are investigating ways of disrupting this process in order to render them incapable of causing an infection. They believe this may lead to a new line of anti-infectives that do not kill bacteria, but instead block their ability to cause disease.18 But the basic strategy that you have at your disposal right now is prevention, prevention, prevention—it's much easier to prevent an infection than to halt one already in progress.
Natural compounds with antimicrobial activity such as garlic, cinnamon, oregano extract, colloidal silver, Manuka honey, probiotics and fermented foods, echinacea, sunlight and vitamin D are all excellent options to try before resorting to drugs. Best of all, research has shown that bacteria do not tend to develop resistance to these types of treatments. The basic key to keeping your immune system healthy is making good lifestyle choices such as proper diet, stress management and exercise.
You Can Take Action to Help Save Antibiotics from Extinction
Avoiding antibiotic-resistance is but one of several good reasons to avoid meats and animal products from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This is in part why grass-fed pastured meat is the only type of meat I recommend. If you're regularly eating meat bought at your local grocery store, know that you're in all likelihood getting exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a low dose of antibiotics with every meal... and this low-dose exposure is what's allowing bacteria to adapt and develop such strong resistance.
The FDA's stance toward antibiotics in livestock feed is unconscionable in light of the harm it wreaks, and its weakness makes being proactive on a personal level all the more important. Quite simply, the FDA has been, and still is, supporting the profitability of large-scale factory farming at the expense of public health.
You can help yourself and your community by using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and by purchasing organic, antibiotic-free meats and other foods from local farmers – not CAFOs. Even though the problem of antibiotic resistance needs to be stemmed through public policy on a nationwide level, the more people who get involved on a personal level to stop unnecessary antibiotic use the better. You can help on a larger scale, too, by telling the FDA we need a mandatory ban on sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for livestock—not weak, voluntary guidance.
FDA Deputy Commissioner and ex-Monsanto attorney Michael Taylor will leave quite a legacy behind. He's not only served Monsanto and the other pesticide producers quite well, he seems to carry the same sentiment over to the antiobiotic crisis. The FDA claims that a voluntary guideline "is the most efficient and effective way to change the use of these products in animal agriculture." It would appear that Taylor's concern for human health takes a very distant back seat to industry profits...
To make your voice heard, please sign the Organic Consumer's Association's petition, calling for a mandatory ban on sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for livestock.
CDC Reveals Disturbing Truth about Factory Farms and Superbugs
Do Antibiotics in Animal Feed Pose a Serious Risk to Human Health?
By Dr. Mercola
Anti-viral flu drugs like Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) are conventional medicine's go-to option for treating the flu, despite their risk of serious side effects and unproven benefits.
In fact, these drugs are stockpiled in many countries, including the US, for treating and preventing seasonal and pandemic influenza.
The World Health Organization (WHO) even classifies Tamiflu as an “essential” medicine, which they say are “selected with due regard to public health relevance, evidence on efficacy and safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness.”1
Writing in BMJ, however, researchers are now questioning Tamiflu’s status as an essential medicine, as well as its merit for stockpiling, in light of new findings showing it to be only minimally effective and ridden with side effects.
Findings Provide ‘Reason to Question’ Stockpiling of Tamiflu
In a first-of-its-kind review, researchers used complete clinical study reports to resolve data discrepancies and reporting bias that had previously been uncovered in regard to Tamiflu research. Clinical study reports are “unpublished, extensive documents with great detail on the trials that formed the basis for market approval.”
Until recently, these documents were only available to manufacturers and regulators, but, after a four-year effort, the researchers were able to assess these regulatory documents (all 160,000+ pages of them).
What they found was that the evidence does not support claims that these drugs lower the risk of complications from the flu (such as pneumonia) or that the benefits outweigh the risks.
There is also no evidence to support claims that the drugs help to reduce viral transmission, which undoubtedly is a key reason why they would be stockpiled by the government or labeled as “essential” by WHO. The review revealed:
- Both drugs shorten the duration of flu symptoms by less than a day (specifically, by just 16.8 hours)
- Tamiflu did not affect the number of hospitalizations. Relenza trials did not record this data
- The effects of the drugs on pneumonia and other flu complications were unreliably reported and included limitations in diagnostic criteria, problems with missing follow-up on participants
- Tamiflu was associated with nausea, vomiting, headaches, kidney problems, and psychiatric events and may induce serious heart rhythm problems
According to the researchers:2
“Based on our assessments of the regulatory documents (in excess of 160,000 pages), we came to the conclusion that there were substantial problems with the design, conduct, reporting and availability of information from many of the trials... We identified problems in the design of many of the studies that we included, which affects our confidence in their results.”
Tamiflu’s Mechanism of Action in Question
It has been stated that Tamiflu helps to interrupt viral transmission and reduce complications, but the review found that this is not supported by the data. The meager reduction in symptoms, they suggested, may be “unrelated to an inhibition of influenza virus replication” and instead could be due to Tamiflu’s role as a central nervous system depressant.
Tamiflu and Relenza are part of a group of anti-influenza drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which work by blocking a viral enzyme that helps the influenza virus to invade cells in your respiratory tract.
The problem is that your nervous system also contains neuraminidase enzymes essential for proper brain functioning, and when blocked with these dangerous drugs, severe neurotoxicity may ensue (especially in the infants and children whose blood-brain barrier has not yet developed sufficiently).
Serious side effects include convulsions, delirium or delusions, suicidal behavior, and at least 14 deaths in children and teens3 have been reported as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections. Japan actually banned Tamiflu for children in 2007 because of the steep risks.
It was also around this time that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began reviewing reports of abnormal behavior and other brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken Tamiflu.4 Further, the drug commonly causes a myriad of side effects that, ironically, resemble the flu symptoms the drug claims to treat.5 The researchers concluded:
“Given that oseltamivir is now recommended as an essential medicine for the treatment of seriously ill patients or those in higher risk groups with pandemic influenza, the issues of mode of action, lack of sizeable benefits, and toxicity are of concern.
This is made worse by the record and stated intentions of governments to distribute oseltamivir to healthy people to prevent complications and interrupt transmission on the basis of a published evidence base that has been affected by reporting bias, ghost authorship, and poor methods.
We believe these findings provide reason to question the stockpiling of oseltamivir, its inclusion on the WHO list of essential drugs, and its use in clinical practice as an anti-influenza drug.”
You can decide for yourself whether these risks are worth a measly 16.8-hour reduction in your flu symptoms:
Nausea Vomiting Diarrhea Headache Dizziness Fatigue Cough Neuropsychiatric disorders, including suicidal behavior, hallucinations, seizures, delirium, and other behavioral side effects (such as reports of children jumping off roofs shortly after taking the drug)
Donald Rumsfeld Was Chairman of the Company That Developed Tamiflu
While increasing numbers of researchers are demanding answers about why a potentially harmful, barely effective drug like Tamiflu is being stockpiled by the US government, it bears repeating that former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was made the chairman of a company called Gilead in 1997. You may have heard that drug company Roche manufactures Tamiflu, but it was actually developed by Gilead decades ago, and they gave Roche the exclusive rights to market and sell Tamiflu in 1996 (an agreement they attempted to terminate in 2005).6
Rumsfeld held major portions of stock in Gilead, and was reported to have made more than $5 million from selling shares of the company around the time of the bird flu hoax in 2005 (when the US placed an order for 20 million doses of Tamiflu at a price of $100 per dose... in case you weren’t counting, that comes to a staggering $2 billion). Mr. Rumsfeld was on the board of Gilead between 1988 and 2001, and when he left to join the Bush administration he reportedly retained a large shareholding (worth $25 million or more). In short, he handsomely profited from the government’s stockpiling of Tamiflu... and likely still is.
If Drugs Don’t Work for the Flu Then What Does?
Flu season is mostly behind us in the US, but it’s not too soon to start bolstering your immune system for next year. A healthy immune system is the key to avoiding illnesses like the flu; as long as your immune system can stay one step ahead of the virus, you’ll feel better again quickly... and in some cases may not even know you were “sick.”
Toward that end, if your diet contains a lot of refined sugars, grains, and processed foods, you’re not doing your body any favors. Instead of giving your body the fuel it needs to function optimally, which means being healthy enough to fight off infectious viruses, you’re giving it more toxic elements that it must overcome.
For instance, eating too many carbohydrates in the form of sugar and grains is very unbalancing for your gut flora. Sugar is “fertilizer” for pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi that can set your immune system up for an easy assault by a respiratory virus. Most people don't realize that 80 percent of your immune system actually lies in your gastrointestinal tract. That's why controlling your sugar intake is crucial for optimizing your immune system.
Additionally, making sure you’re ingesting plenty of beneficial bacteria in the foods you eat (specifically fermented foods) is also crucial, as is optimizing and having your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are at a therapeutic 50-70 ng/ml year-round. I believe optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the most potent preventive strategies available, followed by diet (including fermented foods to optimize your gut flora), stress relief, exercise, and sleep. There are other factors that can come into play too, of course. The following guidelines will also act in concert to support your immune system and help you avoid getting sick. You can also read my complete guide to fight the flu naturally here.
- Take a High-Quality Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils (think vegetable oils), as it will seriously damage your immune response.
- Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth, or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap using synthetic chemicals for this – conventional antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
- Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, ideally with the crook of your elbow (to avoid contaminating your hands). If possible, avoid close contact with those who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.
- Use Natural Immune-Boosters. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic, both of which offer effective protection against a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance and the development of “super germs.”
- Avoid Hospitals. I'd recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to recover from illness that is not life threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.
Science Behind Tamiflu Recommendations “Missing in Action”
Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body
By Dr. Mercola
In 2010, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued an Invasive Species Order1 (ISO) to "help stop the spread of feral swine and the disease risk they pose to humans, domestic pigs, and wildlife as well as their potential for extensive agricultural and ecosystem damage."
While this sounds perfectly reasonable considering how much damage wild pigs can cause, the way this order is being used by the DNR is far from it. Hybrid or heritage swine, such as those raised by Bakers Green Acres,2 a family-run farm, are not feral in the sense that they run around in the wild.
However, according to the DNR, Bakers' pigs fell under the classification of "feral swine" because they're cross bred with Russian boar—an illegal breed—and Mangalitsa pigs. They also share one particular trait with feral pigs—the shape of their tail, to be precise.
In fact, crazy as it may seem, the guidelines use physical characteristics as the determinant for deciding if a pig is considered an illegal invasive breed or not. As a result, the Department deemed Bakers' hybrid swine illegal, which is a felony offense. As reported by the Alliance for Natural Health:3
"The ISO4 shamelessly targets the heritage breeds favored by small and family farms, while protecting those favored by CAFOs. Under the ISO, possession of 'undesirable' pigs carries up to a two-year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine for each pig.
Moreover, the ISO allows the DNR to seize and destroy heritage breed of pigs raised by Michigan farmers on the spot—and without compensation."
Industry Is Hard at Work to Shut Down Farm-to-Table Systems
Make no mistake about it, this is a blatant attempt by industry-led forces to shut down farm-to-table operations that threaten the status quo of the factory farm model. Many hog farmers, and there are some 2,000 in Michigan, destroyed their heritage swine herds once the ISO was issued. But Bakers Green Acres did not. Instead, they sued the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for loss of livelihood.
The DNR retaliated by asking the judge to fine the Bakers $700,000 for possession of "illegal" pigs. Two years of harassment nearly destroyed the family farm, but finally, in early February, a court date was set. At last, the constitutionality of the ISO would be assessed by a judge...
Alas, things didn't go as planned. Within mere days, less than two weeks shy of the scheduled court date, the DNR suddenly reversed its stance, agreeing that Bakers' heritage pigs were perfectly legal after all.
This meant the judge had no choice but to dismiss the case. It also meant that the DNR didn't have to defend the legality and constitutionality of its ISO. Nor did it have to clarify its definition of what a "feral" pig really is.
And, last but certainly not least, it means the DNR does not run the risk of having to compensate farmers, including the Bakers, who suffered massive losses due to these seriously flawed guidelines. As stated by Pete Kennedy, President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:5
"For two years, DNR has said the Bakers' pigs are illegal, then two weeks before trial, they say the pigs are okay. Why didn't the state take this position two years ago? The state should compensate the Bakers for the losses it has caused the farm."
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund also noted that:
"Before the ISO went into effect, the farm's Mangalitsa pork was highly prized by local chefs and consumers. After the order, Baker lost access to USDA facilities to process his pork. The ISO not only cost Baker his pork sales to restaurants, but other farm products as well.
Baker's case has already made an impact beyond Michigan. In January the Indiana Board of Animal Health amended a regulation on wild hogs that partly based their legality on physical characteristics to clarify that the regulation did not apply to hogs raised on a farm."
Government Run Amok – Where Will It End?
In the end, while the Bakers won the right to raise hybrid swine, curly tails and all, this case is a perfect example of government run amok, trampling on constitutional rights just to protect Big Business.
Here, the DNR patiently waited, bleeding this small family-run farm dry before pulling an abrupt about-face to avoid losing what they knew would be a significant court battle that would free small farmers from a tyrannical law that unjustly targets small farmers of high quality heritage breeds.
As it stands, there's no guarantee that the DNR will not target other pig farmers over this issue... As stated by Harold Martin, the Michigan assistant attorney general:" I am not saying we won't apply the ISO. I am saying the ISO doesn't apply in this situation."6 The Bakers are not through, however.
"Now is the time to hold our leaders of the State of Michigan responsible for their actions," Baker writes. "From the DNR to the Attorney General's office to the Governor's office, we have been let down time and time again. The elected officials and bureaucrats that are not representing the Constitution of the people must be replaced."
As discussed in the featured video, Baker is producing a documentary about his case. You can pre-order a DVD copy on his website,7 which will help him finalize the film, and fund his ongoing work toward preserving constitutional rights in Michigan.
Oregon 'Raw Milk Gag Law' Challenged in Recent Lawsuit
Another case that demonstrates just how crazy the status quo can get is Oregon's anti-advertising laws for raw milk producers. The sale of raw milk has been and currently is legal in Oregon, but advertising the fact that you have raw milk to sell was not... Until 7th generation dairy farmer Christine Anderson8 sued Oregon's Department of Agriculture for First Amendment violations that is. As reported by Alliance for Natural Health:9
"For years... Anderson was legally forbidden from advertising her milk—she couldn't post flyers in local stores, advertise via email or on her own website, or even display a roadside sign reading, 'Raw Milk for Sale!' If she did, she'd be subject to $6,250 in fines, up to $10,000 in civil penalties, and even a year in jail.
How could advertising a perfectly legal product be illegal, and why didn't the state government want Oregonians drinking raw milk? Could it have something to do with the Dairy Farmers of Oregon, an anti-raw milk industry group whose explicit mission is to 'build demand' for conventional dairy? Or is it the Dairy PAC, which donates thousands of dollars to state representatives?"
This nonsensical law also banned consumer access to information about how a farm produces its milk, thereby preventing you from being able to compare it to other sources of milk. It's worth noting that there's no reasonable justification for any of this. Research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, featured in the summer 2011 issue of Wise Traditions,10 the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, shows you are about 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk.
Shielding you from raw milk advertisements is not protecting your best interests. If the US government really wanted to protect your health, it would ban junk food commercials and direct-to-consumer drug advertisements. Dr. Beals' research, which is based on the US government's own data, shows that between 1999 and 2010, there was an average of 42 cases of illness per year attributed to raw milk, and that includes both "confirmed" and "presumed" cases. In his report, Dr. Beals writes:
"From the perspective of a national public health professional looking at an estimated total of 48 million foodborne illnesses each year [from all foods]… there is no rational justification to focus national attention on raw milk, which may be associated with an average of 42 illnesses maximum among the more than nine million people (about 0.0005 percent) who have chosen to drink milk in its fresh unprocessed form. …Consumption of any food has some risk of illness or adverse reaction. And the consequence of basing public policy on horrific personal experiences is that all foods will ultimately be banned, and we will not be able to participate in any activity."
Oregon Dairy Farmers Now Allowed to Advertise Raw Milk Products
Fortunately, three months after filing suit with the help of Institute for Justice, which provides pro bono legal representation in cases such as these, the Department of Agriculture agreed to end its enforcement of the state's ban on the advertisement of raw milk. According to a February 13 press release11 by the Institute for Justice, Department of Agriculture director Katy Coba also agreed to ask the state legislature to repeal the law.
"'I am so excited that the State of Oregon has agreed that farmers like me should be able to advertise their legal products,' Christine said upon learning of the settlement. 'It will be such a relief to be able to carry on my business without feeling like I have to be looking over my shoulder for telling people about our farm and what I do.'"
Both of these cases demonstrate what those of us who want access to wholesome food are up against—unconstitutional shenanigans of the highest order! It's time for dissention, and to support each other, farmers and consumers alike, across state lines. Each and every case of infringement on your right to access healthy food must be vigorously and swiftly addressed. And the more voices that speak out against these kinds of repressions, the better our chances of success.
Is Your Food Supporting or Harming Your Health?
Virtually all of the meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) found in your local grocery store comes from animals raised in so-called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). If it wasn't raised in a factory farm, it will typically bear a clear label stating it's "grass-fed" or "USDA 100% organic."
Large-scale factory farming is the cheapest way to raise meat, thereby allowing for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there's a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and the ethical treatment of animals.
Far from being what most people would consider "a farm," these massive operations are more like industrial warehouses, stocked to the hilt with animals that are quite literally crammed together. Due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions in these livestock factories, most of the animals end up getting sick. And whether they're ill or not, they're still routinely given antibiotics and artificial hormones to promote growth.
The natural diet of a cow is plain grass, but CAFO-raised cows are fed pesticide-laden grains and other byproducts instead. Not only does this upset their digestive systems and alter the nutritional makeup of their meat, all of the feed additives also get transferred to you when you eat that meat. The routine use of antibiotics in particular has led to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now threaten human life.
The factory farm model also directly contributes to Americans' increasing reliance on processed junk foods, which in turn drives the rise in obesity and chronic disease. For the past several decades, the focus has been on creating ever-cheaper foods. Well, you cannot achieve top quality and rock-bottom prices at the same time. Something has to give, and quality nutrition definitely fell by the wayside as technology overtook the food and agricultural industry.
If You Want to Optimize Your Health, Bucking the System May Be Required...
The problem is, the food industry knows it cannot compete with wholesome organic foods, raw milk, artisan cheeses, and delicatessen like the Bakers' swine. Since they cannot compete, the next best thing, from their perspective, is to simply eliminate the competition. By limiting or eliminating your access to alternatives, you have no choice but to become a consumer of CAFO goods.
I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is an extremely positive one and, in the big scheme of things, is absolutely critical for optimal health, and for the protection of our environment. When it comes to meat, be it beef, pork, or poultry, the only type I recommend eating is meat that has been humanely raised according to organic principles.
By purchasing your meat from smaller farms, you're promoting their proliferation, and the return to saner, healthier ways of eating. In the end, that will benefit everyone in your community, including the animals. (The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of "ethical meat.") The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
The Despicable Reason Behind Raw Milk Bans
Organic Foods are Safer and Healthier than Conventional... True or False?
By Dr. Mercola
Agricultural chemicals are progressively making their way into your body whether you are trying to avoid them or not, according to several recent studies in the US and Canada. A prime offender is glyphosate, the main toxic ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. Glyphosate is both an herbicide and a pesticide.
Multiple scientific findings suggest that Monsanto and global regulatory bodies have been wrong about the lack of bioaccumulation of glyphosate-based agricultural chemicals.
If you are eating processed foods or foods from nearly any restaurant, odds are very high you are getting loads of this toxin, and if you are a pregnant woman, you may be passing them along to your unborn child via your baby's placenta, umbilical cord, and in your breast milk. This is gravely concerning as there is mounting scientific evidence that Roundup may be even more toxic than DDT.
As a result of the latest findings regarding bioaccumulation, testing commissioners have urged USDA and EPA to place a temporary ban on all use of glyphosate-based chemicals to protect public health, until more comprehensive testing is completed.
First Study to Confirm Glyphosate Levels in Breast Milk of American Moms
In the first ever testing for glyphosate in the breast milk of American women, Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse found high levels in 30 percent of the samples tested.1, 2 This strongly suggests that glyphosate levels build up in your body over time, despite claims to the contrary.
Breast milk levels were found to be 76 to 166 ug/l, which is 760 to 1,600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides.
Those levels are, however, lower than the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate in the US, set by the EPA based on the now-ridiculous premise that glyphosate does not bioaccumulate. There are currently no regulatory limits for glyphosate in breast milk.
Glyphosate has also been found in Americans' urine and drinking water. In those samples, levels were found to be more than 10 times higher than those tested in the EU in 2013. This is presumably due to the fact that the EU is now backing away from glyphosate usage and GE crops, whereas the US ignorantly races full speed ahead.
When seeking to understand this study, it is very important to note that many of the participants in this study were familiar with GMOs and had been actively trying to avoid them for several months to two years—which makes the findings even more disheartening. However, it is encouraging that expectant moms who were actively eating only organic, non-GE foods had lower levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.
In 2011, 250 million pounds of glyphosate were used in the US, and 1.3 billion pounds3 doused on fields worldwide. The EPA recently doubled the amount of glyphosate allowed in your food. Soybean oil is now allowed to contain a whopping 400 times the limit at which it can impact your health. Monsanto's sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on GE crops.
World GMO Expert Says Glyphosate May Be 'Even More Toxic Than DDT'
Dr. Don Huber is likely the leading GMO expert in the world, particularly in the area of toxicity. He is an award-winning, internationally recognized scientist and professor of plant pathology at Purdue University for the past 35 years. I strongly urge you to listen to my previous interview with Dr. Huber, at the top of this section, as well as Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview. This information will help you understand why GE foods pose such a serious risk to your health.
Epidemiological patterns show there's a rise in more than 30 human diseases in parallel with our increased usage of glyphosate and GE foods. There are no peer-reviewed scientific papers establishing the safety of GE crops. However, there are both clinical and peer-reviewed scientific papers showing the hazards of GE foods, including harmful secondary effects. Glyphosate is not "just" an herbicide/pesticide. It was originally patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, making them unavailable for your body. It is also patented as a potent antibiotic that can devastate human gut bacteria. Your gut flora is critical to the proper function of your immune system, and when this is disrupted, you can develop all sorts of health problems.
Bt Toxin Found in Umbilical Cords of Pregnant Women
This is not the first time scientists have suggested that glyphosate may have damaging effects on your health, and the health of your unborn baby. A 2011 Canadian study, published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, looked at the effects of fetal and maternal glyphosate exposure, with disturbing findings. This was the first study to show the presence of circulating pesticides from GE foods in women, both pregnant and non-pregnant.4 The study found Bt toxin in the bloodstreams of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, in both their circulating blood and placentas.
Among all women tested, 80 percent of the pregnant group tested positive for Bt toxin in their babies' umbilical cords, and 69 percent of non-pregnant women tested positive for Bt toxin. Bt is an insecticide, short for Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt toxin makes crops toxic to pests, but the industry claims the toxin poses no danger to the environment or your health. Their argument is that the protein breaks down in your gut, but the fact that Bt toxin can be measured in your blood is certainly evidence that this claim is simply not true. To add insult to injury, the EPA recently approved an exemption for Bt tolerance levels in GE soy foods and feed.
Even though this exemption is specific to soy, similar exemptions have already been approved for corn, cotton, and other crops, paving the way for pesticide companies like Monsanto to incorporate as much as they want into your food. Bt crops have the Bt-toxin gene built-in, so the toxin is not broken down and cannot be washed off—you simply cannot avoid consuming it. It also has the ability to migrate over to other crops, making contamination a serious concern.
Why Breastfeeding Is Still the Healthiest Option
While all of this is disconcerting, and worthy of consideration, please do not make the mistake of thinking your baby would be better off on infant formula than breast milk. I am in no way encouraging new mothers to stop breastfeeding. On the contrary, I hope you take the issue of breastfeeding seriously enough to take the necessary steps to avoid toxins like glyphosate to the greatest extent possible, in order to safeguard your most valuable food source, namely your breast milk. Besides, infant formula is likely to contain glyphosate residues at higher levels than those found in breast milk...
Breastfeeding is really important for developing your baby's immune system and development. Breast milk is a true Whole Food—it contains all the nutrients your baby needs. Studies have shown that breastfed babies gain added protection against:
|Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)||Eczema||Respiratory and other types of infections|
|Heart disease||Obesity||Type 1 and type 2 diabetes|
|Bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease||Asthma and allergies||Necrotizing enterocolitis among premature babies|
The nutritional properties of breast milk are not only good for the newborn's immune system, they are also good for the brain. Breastfed infants tend to have higher intelligence than formula-fed infants. This may be due to certain compounds found in breast milk, including omega-3 fatty acids. For instance, one study found that the verbal IQ of 7- and 8-year-old children who had been breastfed was about 10 points higher than those who were not. Another 18-year study of over 1,000 children found that those who were breastfed had higher intelligence and greater academic achievement than children who were formula-fed as babies. It is interesting to note that babies who are breastfed naturally spend more time in what is known as the "quiet alert" state, which is not only soothing for parents but also it is the state most conducive to the newborn's learning.
You May Want to Send Monsanto a Thank-You-Note for Your Gluten Allergy
As Drs. Seneff and Samsel reveal in a recent study5 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, glyphosate is probably the most harmful toxin we've ever encountered, both in our environment and on our dinner plates. Their findings show that two of the key problems caused by glyphosate in your body are nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity. The researchers propose that glyphosate is the most significant causal factor in today's epidemic of gluten intolerance, including full-blown celiac disease. Celiac disease and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe where an estimated five percent of the population now suffers from it. Drs. Seneff and Samsel mention the following as evidence of the connection between glyphosate and gluten allergies/intolerance:
- Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems reminiscent of celiac disease; celiac is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on these bacteria
- Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment of the enzymes necessary for detoxifying environmental toxins and other biological processes, and glyphosate is known to inhibit these enzymes
- Nutritional deficiencies seen in celiac disease (minerals such as iron, cobalt, and copper, and amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, and methionine) can be attributed to glyphosate's strong tendencies to chelate minerals and deplete amino acids
- Both celiac disease and glyphosate exposure have been associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate exposure
Monsanto Attempting to Muzzle Independent Researchers
More than one study has now shown that genetic material can jump from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom and exert "predictably unpredictable" effects. In 2011, a Chinese study6 found that mice take up RNA (ribonucleic acid, little pieces of genetic material) when they consume plants, and that RNA was found to influence gene expression in the mice—a phenomenon referred to as trans-kingdom gene regulation.7
These findings and others have the different branches of industry in a conundrum. On one hand, the medical industry could benefit if these RNA molecules could produce effects that would help treat disease... like, perhaps, lowering LDL or reducing inflammation. However, for Big Ag, trans-kingdom gene jumping is NOT good news, as they've been claiming that GE foods are safe because genetic material cannot pass from your gut into your bloodstream, then to various other cells where it can wreak havoc on your body. In other words, they like to deny the existence of this trans-kingdom gene regulation.
Private researchers are finding themselves caught in the middle. One such example is Vicki Vance, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has been doing private research in this area for many years. Vance is being hounded by phone calls from Monsanto. She believes Monsanto and other companies have a financial interest in discrediting the Chinese study (through her work), because it casts doubt on the safety of GE foods, thereby threatening their bottom line. Vance says:
"I was really surprised that Monsanto took the time and effort to try to squash my research because it's such a contrast — I'm a little old lady running a little lab in South Carolina. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I feel there's an effort from a large company with a lot of money toward discrediting the work of this other group and keeping people from publishing their work."
Converting Grasslands Into Cornfields Is Destroying Topsoil, Devastating Wildlife, and Worsening Pesticide Bioaccumulation
As severe as the threat of glyphosate-soaked foods is to your health, the threat to our environment may be even greater. Monoculture and the destructive agricultural practices required to raise GE crops ruin topsoil and rapidly turn grasslands into lifeless, barren expanses. We are moving closer to having NO viable farmland with which to grow food for our ever-increasing population.
Grassland soil is rich, and almost anything can be grown there. Grasslands once covered a quarter of the Earth, but many have now been turned into large commercial crop operations. Only five percent of the original prairie in the United States remains. A study published in February 2013 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that between 2006 and 2011, farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa—the Western Corn Belt—had plowed up 1.3 million acres of native grassland in order to plant corn and soybeans. In just four years, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota lost an area of wetlands the size of Rhode Island.8
Grasslands, and the wetlands that tend to go along with them, are among the most important ecosystems on the planet. They contain disproportionately high numbers of plant and animal species. In fact, more than one-third of US endangered species live exclusively in wetlands. The Nature Conservancy has called grasslands the world's most imperiled ecosystem. Once grasslands and prairies have been destroyed, they are virtually impossible to bring back. Grasslands also play a direct role in reducing pollution from glyphosate and other environmental toxins. According to The American Prospect:9
"Grasslands provide a range of critical 'ecosystems services,' soaking up rain and snowmelt and slowly releasing water in drier seasons, thereby reducing flooding and erosion and improving water quality by filtering out fertilizers and pesticides that run off of farmland. Fewer wetlands mean more chemicals making their way into local waterways and ultimately ending up in the area in the Gulf of Mexico known as the Dead Zone, where nutrient pollution has made it challenging for marine life to survive."
Turning grasslands into croplands has also resulted in widespread loss of wildlife habitat. Compared to grassland, cropland provides few or no resources for breeding birds. In fact, a recent study found that pesticides are the leading cause of declining grassland bird populations.10, 11 Bees and monarch butterflies are also taking a serious hit as glyphosate wipes out just about every plant that makes honey production possible, as well as killing off milkweed, the monarch's sole food and breeding source. Federal policies that support an unhealthy and unsustainable food system are largely to blame for the changing face of our Western prairies.
Mike Pompeo's DARK Days in Congress
One Congressional Representative has been goat-roped by the food and biotech industry (his donors include General Mills and Koch Brothers) into introducing legislation to block state GE labeling laws. Maybe the fact that two states have already passed GE labeling bills and another 30 states are poised to consider them, has the industry scrambling for new allies.12 Most Americans want to know what's in their food—and 64 nations already require GE foods to be labeled.
Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo has introduced a bill,13 dubbed by opponents as the DARK Act ("Deny Americans the Right to Know Act") because its aim is to keep you in the DARK about whether or not your food contains GE ingredients.14 The bill would allow companies to voluntarily disclose whether their foods contain GE ingredients—which is pretty laughable, as companies have always had that choice. But guess how many have opted to do so? That's right, zero! The DARK bill would allow foods labeled as "natural" to contain GE ingredients, and prevent the FDA from requiring mandatory labeling. The number and variety of GE foods reaching grocery store shelves is accelerating, and these foods are making it to market without proper testing or labeling. It's time to take action now!
We're Donating Our Sales Today to Help Fight the Spread of GM Crops in Jackson County, Oregon
A ballot measure to prohibit GM crops in Jackson County, Oregon has been introduced by organic farmers, who are afraid that GM sugar beets will taint their organic crops through cross-pollination. Jackson County is a major source of GM sugar beet seeds, which are used to produce a significant portion of commercial sugar beet seed used across the United States.
The measure will appear before Jackson County voters on the May 20th primary ballot – so if you live in this area, please get out to vote. In the meantime, the sugar industry and other agribusiness giants have come out in droves to try to defeat the measure. Already, the opposition has donated tens of thousands of dollars to mount an pro-GMO campaign, including:
- Monsanto ($183,294)
- DuPont Pioneer ($129,647)
- Syngenta ($75,000)
- Bayer ($22,353)
- BASF ($22,353)
- Dow AgroSciences ($22,353)
The Center for Food Safety reported that, all in all, opponents of the measure have a total of $799,000.
To date, the organic farmers supporting the GM ban have raised roughly $100,000 in funds to defeat this corporate opposition. So as you can see we want to help them get started.
With your help, we've already raised $15,000. You can donate to this fund, and rest assured we'll donate as well. In fact, a portion of all sales on our site will go directly toward funding a $10,000 donation to Measure 15-119 against GM crops in Jackson County. If you've been meaning to make a purchase, today is the day to do so to help make a difference through this crucial campaign.
If GM crops are banned in Jackson County, it could be a turning point for the US, with other regions soon following suit. You may also make a donation directly to the Vote YES on Measure 15-119 here:
And as always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically modified foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GM ingredients if it contains soy, corn, or sugar from sugar beets.
GMO-Science Takes a Blow as Studies Are Retracted
Research Reveals Previously Unknown Pathway by which Glyphosate Wrecks Health
By Dr. Mercola
Of all the foods Mother Nature provides, few foods offer more of a “botanical bonanza” for your health than garlic. Garlic is a bulbous root closely related to the onion, mentioned in historical documents dating back 5,000 years—before its fame wafted into the rest of the known world.
Speaking of wafting, garlic’s nickname “stinking rose” is well-deserved due to its undeniably pungent aroma that some find objectionable, but others find intoxicating.
Numerous studies show garlic’s amazing health potential in nearly every area of your body, from clogged arteries to gangrene to preventing insect bites and ear infections. There is even evidence that garlic is able to help slow your aging process. When it comes to this magical bulb, what’s not to love?
Garlic Epitomizes a ‘Heart Healthy Food’
Like so many other complex plant foods, garlic contains a wide range of phytocompounds that act together to produce a wide variety of responses in your body. Garlic is rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C, so it’s beneficial for your bones as well as your thyroid.
Garlic also helps your body cleanse itself of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.1 Green Med Info has also assembled a list of studies demonstrating garlic's positive effects for more than 150 different diseases.2 In general, its benefits fall into four main categories:
- Reducing inflammation (reduces risk of osteoarthritis as mentioned in the video above)
- Boosting immune function (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties)
- Improving cardiovascular health and circulation (protects against clotting, retards plaque, improves lipids, and reduces blood pressure)
- Toxic to 14 kinds of cancer cells (including brain, lung, breast, and pancreatic)
The fact that garlic is so effective in fighting multiple types of cancer is probably related to its potent antioxidant effects. Garlic contains the precursors to allicin—a compound I’ll be discussing in detail shortly. Allicin is one of the most potent antioxidants from the plant kingdom.
In fact, researchers have determined that sulfenic acid, produced during the rapid decomposition of allicin, reacts with and neutralizes free radicals faster than any other known compound—it’s almost instantaneous when the two molecules meet. And as an anti-infective, garlic has been demonstrated to kill everything from candida to herpes, MRSA, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and even HIV.
Garlic’s Secret Weapon: Allicin
Researchers have found that allicin is an effective natural "antibiotic" that can eradicate even antibiotic-resistant bugs. An added benefit is that the bacteria appear incapable of developing a resistance to the compound. However, the garlic must be fresh because the active agent is destroyed in less than an hour after smashing the garlic clove.
Garlic technically does not contain allicin, but rather, it contains two agents in separate compartments of the clove that react to form the sulfur-rich compound allicin when the plant needs it: alliin and an enzyme called allinase. So, what makes them react?
Garlic has a robust defense system to protect itself from insects and fungi. It enzymatically produces allicin within seconds when it is injured. The crushing of its tissues causes a chemical reaction between the alliin and the allinase, and allicin is produced—nature’s “insecticide.” This is what makes garlic such a potent anti-infective, as well as what produces that pungent aroma when you cut into it.
But allicin is short-lived, lasting less than an hour. Therefore, cooking, aging, crushing, and otherwise processing garlic causes allicin to immediately break down into other compounds, so it’s difficult to get allicin up to biologically active levels in your body.3
Plus, an Army of Sulfur-Rich Phytochemicals
More than 100 different compounds have been identified in garlic, some of which come from the rapid breakdown of allicin itself. The absorption, metabolism, and biological effects of all these compounds are only partially understood. So, although garlic is known to possess a wealth of health benefits, we still do not know exactly which benefits come from which compounds, what compounds get into which tissues, etc.
As powerful as allicin is as an anti-infective, it only makes sense that garlic’s other health effects come from the synergism of those many OTHER compounds. This is a complicated topic, and if you want to explore it further, the Oregon State’s Linus Pauling Institute has a comprehensive article in their online Micronutrient Information Center.4
What About Garlic Supplements?
Most commercial garlic supplements perform quite poorly when it comes to actually being able to form allicin in your body. Allinase is destroyed by the strong acids in your stomach, which is why most supplements are “enteric coated,” to keep them from dissolving until they enter your small intestine. But most supplements tested produce only minimal amounts of allicin under these tough digestive conditions. Many garlic supplements list “allicin potential” on the label, which refers to how much allicin could be formed when alliin is converted, not how much allicin is actually produced.
Claims of actual “allicin release” may be more reliable, but with digestive conditions being so individual and variable, I would be less than confident you’re getting what the label promises. Therefore, when it comes to garlic, I believe it is much better to eat the real food rather than rely on a supplement. And due to the fact that allicin won’t be formed unless the garlic clove is crushed, you have to crush it before swallowing to get the full benefit, or chew it up. If chewing up raw garlic is a bit too hardcore for you, then you may have cause for celebration: aged black garlic to the rescue!
Aged Black Garlic Has Arrived!
Developed in Korea, black garlic has been gaining popularity among Western foodies for several years now, but it has recently caught the eye of the health-minded due to studies revealing its impressive nutritional properties. Black garlic is produced by “fermenting” whole bulbs of fresh garlic in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures of about 140 to 170 degrees F for 30 days. No additives, no preservatives... just pure garlic. Once out of the heat, the bulbs are then left to oxidize in a clean room for 45 days. This lengthy process causes the garlic cloves to turn black and develop a soft, chewy texture with flavors reminiscent of “balsamic vinegar” and “soy sauce,” with a sweet “prune-like” taste. Aficionados claim the flavor will impress even the most avid garlic-hater, as the pungency and spiciness is gone.5
Although the process is consistently described as “fermentation,” it really isn’t that in the strictest sense, as the transformation does not involve microbial processes—specifically, enzymatic breakdown and the Maillard Reaction are responsible for the caramelization of the sugars, dark color and deep, complex flavor profile.6 As the pearly white cloves slowly transition into their final black appearance, compounds in the fresh garlic transform into a whole new range of compounds. Compared to fresh garlic, black garlic is low in alliin but it is astonishingly high in other antioxidants!
Double the Antioxidants of Fresh Garlic
In a 2009 mouse study, Japanese researchers found that black garlic was more effective than fresh garlic in reducing the size of tumors. The study was published in the journal Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Technology.7 In another study, black garlic was found to have twice the antioxidant levels as fresh—the aging/fermenting process appears to double the antioxidants. Black garlic is packed with high concentrations of sulfurous compounds, especially one in particular: s-allylcycteine (SAC).8 Science has shown a number of health benefits from SAC, including inhibition of cholesterol synthesis.9
Perhaps this is why Mandarin oil painter Choo Keng Kwang experienced a complete reversal of his psoriasis after just four days of eating half a bulb of black garlic a day—this, after trying countless medically prescribed skin creams that were all complete failures.
An advantage of SAC is that it is well-absorbed and much more stable than allicin and 100 percent bioavailable. Researchers are confident it plays a significant role in garlic’s overall health benefits.10 Be mindful, however, that black garlic’s benefits may be more effective than fresh garlic for some conditions but not others, given its allicin content is low. For example, I suspect it may not be as effective if you have an infection, as allicin is thought to be the primary anti-infective agent in garlic, and fresh garlic is higher in allicin than black. According to Blue Fortune Farm (which admittedly sells black garlic), black garlic has the following favorable nutrient profile:11
SAC (mg/g) Calcium (mg) Phosphorus (mg) Protein (g) Black Garlic 5.84 36.66 80 12.5 Raw Garlic 0.32 5.0 40 2.2
Sprouted Garlic Is Fresh Garlic, Multiplied...
Do you toss your garlic into the compost pile when it begins sending up those bright green shoots? You might want to stop doing that after you read the most recent report about sprouted garlic. In an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,12 garlic sprouted for five days was found to have higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting it also makes different substances.
Researchers concluded that sprouting your garlic might be a useful way to improve its antioxidant potential. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage.13 This isn’t really surprising when you consider the nutritional changes that typically occur in plants when they sprout. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. The same thing is likely happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic.
Growing your own sprouts is a great way to boost your nutrition, especially if you have limited space for gardening. Sprouted seeds of various kinds can contain up to 30 times the nutrition of homegrown organic vegetables and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats from the foods you eat. If you want more information, please refer to our earlier article about sprouting. While you can sprout a variety of different beans, nuts, seeds, and grains, sprouts in general have the following beneficial attributes:
- Support for cell regeneration
- Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
- Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
- Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses, and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
Black Garlic or White, They're Both Good
Whether you choose to go raw or adventure into the black, you can’t go wrong with garlic. It gives new meaning to the term “heart healthy food”! And garlic goes with just about everything. You can smother your roasting chicken with it, sauté it with veggies, add it to your salad dressing, or run it right through your juicer along with the other veggies for a real immune-booster. Whatever form of garlic you prefer, you can have some fun experimenting as you widen your culinary repertoire, and build your health at the same time!
How to Prevent and Treat Insect Bites Without Harsh Chemicals
Ear Tubes May Not Have Long-Term Benefits for Kids with Ear Infection