By Dr. Mercola
Food allergies are the fifth leading chronic illness in the US – and their incidence is on the rise.1 From 1997 to 2007, food allergies increased 18 percent among children under 18 years,2 and today an estimated one out of every 13 children has a food allergy.3
It’s known that food allergies tend to run in families, which suggests a genetic component. However, other theories for why food allergies are becoming commonplace point to a more complex environmental, as well as lifestyle-related, cause.
Why Are Allergies on the Rise?
One of the primary hidden contributing factors to allergies is the food you eat, and I am not talking about food allergies. If you eat poor-quality foods, especially ones that cause insulin/leptin resistance, you will increase your risk of allergies.
When you’re allergic to a substance, your immune system mistakenly believes it is dangerous and produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in an attempt to neutralize it. Chemicals such as histamine released into your bloodstream during this process can lead to a battery of symptoms any time you eat the food (although symptoms may not appear until hours later).
What’s behind this immune system dysfunction is still being explored, although a leading theory is the hygiene hypothesis. A child raised in an environment devoid of dirt and germs, and who is given antibiotics that kill off all of the bacteria in his gut, is not able to build up natural resistance to disease, and becomes vulnerable to illnesses later in life.
This is likely one reason why many allergies and immune system diseases have doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled in the last few decades. Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of food allergies,4 while some theorize that food additives, genetic modification, hormones, and herbicides added to foods may be triggering some cases.
Genetic engineering, for instance, can increase existing allergens, or produce new, unknown allergens. Both appear to have happened in genetically modified (GM) soy, which is found in the majority of processed foods. At the same time, more children are being born and raised with severely damaged gut flora, which is largely the product of poor diet and antibiotics overuse, leading to Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), as I’ll explain shortly.
Allergies Are Everywhere and Cluster in Groups
New research has revealed that allergies are virtually everywhere in the US, with no region being allergy-free. The study of more than 8,000 people revealed that 45 percent of people aged six and over tested positive for at least one allergen, as did 36 percent of children aged one to five.5
There were some variations by region, such as in large metropolitan areas, where 50 percent of residents were sensitized to at least one allergen, compared to 40 percent in rural areas. In urban areas, outdoor allergens were more common than in rural areas, possibly because respiratory allergies are associated with air pollution.
Also noteworthy was the finding that allergies tended to cluster in groups. People with sensitivities to dust mites were more likely to be sensitive to grass and tree pollen, for instance, while those with peanut sensitivity more likely to also have plant allergies. This might imply that when it comes to allergy treatment, a more holistic approach to treatment is warranted, with the most sensible starting point your gut (where 80 percent of your immune system resides).
Modifying Your Diet May Fight Asthma
Allergies and asthma often occur together, so it’s not surprising that modifying your diet, and thereby your gut health, appears to be an effective treatment for both of these conditions. In a recent animal study, mice fed a high-fiber diet had stronger resistance against asthma-like attacks than mice fed a low-fiber or regular diet.6
In fact, when mice fed a fiber-rich diet were exposed to dust mites, they had less airway inflammation than the low-fiber mice. As reported by Scientific American:7
“Seems that fiber supports gut bacteria that produce anti-inflammatory molecules called short chain fatty acids. These molecules then enter the bloodstream, where they can influence the immune system. An over-reactive immune system can play a role in allergies and asthma. But the fatty acids can calm down the immune reaction.”
Separate research also showed that school-aged children who drank raw milk were 41 percent less likely to develop asthma and about 50 percent less likely to develop hay fever than children who drank store-bought (pasteurized) milk.8
The researchers believed that the beneficial effect may have been due to non-denatured whey proteins, including bovine serum albumin (BSA) and alpha-lactalbumin, in the raw milk, which may support immune system health and healthful inflammation levels.
If You Have Allergies, Tend to Your Gut Health
Remember, the quality of and the types of food you eat are related to your allergy risk. One of the ways they mediate that is through your gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria play a crucial role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract.
They also aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens. Friendly bacteria even train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately. This important function prevents your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens, which is the genesis of allergies.
However, as mentioned earlier, abnormalities in your immune system are a common outcome of GAPS, as when your gut flora is abnormal, your gut lining is more prone to deteriorate, since it is actively maintained by your gut flora.
Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria, and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream -- hence the term leaky gut syndrome.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a steady flow of toxic substances "leaking out" into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation. Besides being associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, leaky gut can also be a contributing factor to allergies. In 2010, researchers similarly concluded that eating a junk food diet increases kids’ risk of allergies:9, 10
“Pediatrician Dr. Paolo Lionetti, of Florence University, and colleagues said children in industrialized countries who eat low-fiber, high-sugar 'Western' diets may reduce microbial richness -- potentially contributing to a rise in allergic and inflammatory diseases in the last half-century.”
For some, the answer to resolving food (and other) allergies is to "heal and seal" your intestines, which the GAPS nutritional program is designed to do. If you have severe food allergies, the GAPS Introduction Diet, which uses fermented foods and other natural strategies, like probiotics, to restore balance to your gut flora, may help heal your food allergy completely.
A comprehensive allergy program needs to address optimizing your diet, intestinal health, and vitamin D levels while avoiding potential triggers. This includes a focus on fermented foods, high-fiber vegetables, and minimal processed foods and sugar. If fermented foods are not a regular part of your diet, a probiotic supplement may be beneficial.
Provocation Neutralization May Offer Permanent Allergy Relief
Remember, improving your diet according to my free Nutrition Plan is your first step for the reasons detailed above. However, even if you have a perfect diet, allergies may persist. If that is the case the best approach to date I have found is provocation neutralization (PN), which is taught by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM). PN can be very effective for allergy relief. I was a member of the AAEM and administered this treatment in my office when I was practicing. PN offers many allergy sufferers permanent relief without adverse side effects. The success rate for this approach is about 80 to 90 percent, and you can receive the treatment at home.
The provocation refers to "provoking a change" and neutralization refers to "neutralizing the reaction caused by provocation." During provocation neutralization, a small amount of allergen is injected under your skin to produce a small bump called a "wheal" on the top layers of your skin, and then it is monitored for a reaction.
If you have a positive reaction, such as fatigue, headache, or a growth in the size of the wheal, then the allergen is neutralized with diluted injections or with drops of the same allergen that go in your mouth. If you want to see some actual videos of provocation neutralization being done, see Dr. Doris Rapp's website, www.DorisRappMD.com. It is important to remember that the PN program is in addition to, not a replacement for, a comprehensive allergy recovery program, such as the GAPS “heal and seal” approach outlined here.
Peanut Allergy Treatment 'a Success'
Probiotics Linked to Reduced Risk of Allergies, Psoriasis, Colitis, Periodontal Disease and More
By Dr. Mercola
From time to time, medical experts reverse course on certain practices and procedures when science dictates a change in the standard of care. One classic example of a "reversal" is when hormone therapy for menopausal women came to a screeching halt when so many women developed blood clots, stroke, and breast and uterine cancers.
In an attempt to determine the overall effectiveness of our medical care, the Mayo Clinic tracked the frequency of these medical reversals over the past decade and published a report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, August 2013.1
The results are discussed by lead researcher Dr. Vinay Prasad in the featured video. Prasad and his team found that reversals are common across all classes of medical practice, and a significant proportion of medical treatments offer no benefit at all.
In fact, they found 146 reversals of previously established practices, treatments and procedures over the past 10 years. Many new medical treatments gain popularity over older standards of care due to clever marketing more than solid science.
Conflicts of interest are rampant in medical research. Shiny new medical treatments nearly always come with hefty price tags, which helps drive up the already astronomical cost of health care in this country. In addition to the end of routine hormone therapy for menopausal women, you will probably recall the following policy reversals over the past decade:2
- Changing the schedule for women's Pap tests and men's rectal exams, both of which used to be yearly
- Moving the starting age for women's yearly mammograms from age 40 to 50
- Use of COX-2 inhibitors such as Vioxx (a non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug, or NSAID, that directly targets the COX-2 enzyme; Vioxx killed more than 60,000 people before being pulled from the market in 2004)
More Than Half of All Medical Procedures Are of No Benefit and Many Actually Cause Harm
The most telling data in the report show just how many common medical treatments are not helping patients at all—or are actually harming them. Of the studies that tested an existing standard of care, 40 percent reversed the practice, compared to only 38 percent reaffirming it. The remaining 22 percent were inconclusive.
This means that between 40 and 78 percent of the medical testing, treatments, and procedures you receive are of NO benefit to you—or are actually harmful—as determined by clinical studies. Prasad writes:3
"Reversal harms patients who undergo the contradicted therapy during the years it was in favor and those patients who undergo the therapy in the lag time before a change in medical practice.
Most importantly, it creates a loss of faith in the medical system by physicians and patients. The solution to reversal is upfront, randomized clinical trials for new clinical practices and a systematic method to evaluate practices already in existence."
In an editorial, John P. A. Ioannidis, MD stresses the importance of not only promoting effective medical practices, but also disseminating knowledge about ineffective practices that should be abandoned.
Many therapies continue long after they are deemed useless or harmful, due to inertia in the system. He suggests using incentives to urge physicians to begin testing the effectiveness of common practices and calls for a renewed commitment to rigorous clinical research.4
Top 10 Failures of the American Health Care System
In 2007, the Commonwealth Fund conducted a large survey comparing the health care attitudes and experiences of people across seven countries: Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States.5 The results are quite telling about how broken the American health care system really is.6 Of the seven countries, Americans were the least likely to report being "relatively satisfied" with their healthcare. Let's take a look at 10 of the most significant findings of that survey.
1. We Spend the Most Money on Health Care, But Get the Least in Return
The US spends more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain, and Australia, yet the US ranks last in health and mortality when compared with 17 other developed nations.
Sadly, 30 cents of every dollar spent on medical care in America is wasted, which amounts to $750 billion annually. That is the same amount the Department of Defense estimates we spent on the ENTIRE Iraq War! This $750 billion of waste is made up of inefficient delivery of care and excessive administrative costs, unnecessary services, inflated prices, prevention failures, and outright fraud. The largest defrauder of the federal government is the pharmaceutical industry.7
Thirty-five percent of Americans have difficulty paying their medical bills,8 and nearly two-thirds of all bankruptcies are linked to inability to pay medical bills due to being uninsured or underinsured. Medical impoverishment is nearly unheard of in wealthy nations, other than the US, because all have some form of national health insurance.9
By dissecting medical bills, Time Magazine writer Steven Brill says we can see exactly how and why you are overspending and where your money is going. Americans are being grossly overcharged; even nonprofit hospitals are making greater profits than some prosperous for-profit businesses. The entire system unfairly affects the poor and uninsured as they are charged the FULL inflated price, while those with coverage have their costs radically reduced through pre-negotiated lowered rates.
How much will you spend for a hospital stay? Certainly more than you would pay for even the most extravagant vacation! The average cost of a hospital say is $18,000, compared to $6,200 among OECD nations, according to this George Washington University infographic.10 Things add up quickly when you're in an American hospital.
For example, a liter of normal saline rings up at $546.11 This one-liter bag of saline contains about nine grams of salt (less than two teaspoons), which costs 44 cents to a dollar to produce. But then the bag makes its way from the manufacturer through a series of giant group-purchasing middlemen and distributors before arriving at your hospital's pharmacy. Upon arrival, that IV bag has a mystery formula applied to it, and a price is magically determined, which is then recorded on your hospital's "chargemaster." No one really understands how these prices are calculated.
Only recently did the federal government release the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common medical procedures, revealing tremendous and seemingly random variation in the costs of services.12 For example, if you need a hip replacement, you can spend $5,300 in Ada, Oklahoma, or you can fork over $223,000 for exactly the same procedure in Monterrey Park, California.13 You can find out how your state compares in average fees for service using an interactive online chart created by the Washington Post.14
2. Our Chronic Disease Rates Are Extraordinarily High
Americans have the second highest rate of chronic disease of the seven countries examined, with Australia being number one. With all of the money we're spending, what are we missing? This statistic reflects poor preventative care and lack of attention to lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and "electron deficiency" (insufficient contact with the Earth).
The majority of Americans (adults and children) are becoming insulin-resistant due to their junk food based diets, loaded with sugar, processed grains, and chemical additives. Insulin dysfunction is putting many in a state of perpetual inflammation and driving up the rates of chronic disease. Americans consume nearly 4,000 calories per day on average—more than anyone else in the world.15 Yet, they are malnourished because most of these calories are from processed food, therefore devoid of nutrition.
3. Poor Coordination of Care
This issue is tied to the problem of waste. We drop the ball when it comes to managing patient care, especially if you have a complicated illness requiring multiple providers. As a result, we have poor access to medical records, duplicate testing, gaps in communication, confidentiality violations, and rushed and fragmented health care. According to an infographic based on data from multiple sources, created by Jonathan Govette:16
- 3 out of 10 lab tests are reordered because the results can't be found
- 68 percent of specialists receive no information from the primary care provider prior to the referral visit; 60 to 70 percent of referrals go unscheduled; and 25 percent of appointments are missed
- 7,000 people die every year from sloppy physician handwriting
4. Most Americans Do Not Have a Primary Care Provider
One of the reasons Americans' health care is so poorly managed is that they are least likely to have primary care providers. There are 0.5 general physicians per 1,000 people in the US, but the average among OECD nations is 1.23.17 Americans are also the most likely to say that their physician doesn't know important information about their medical history, which has dire implications for quality of care and increases the likelihood of medical errors. And, speaking of errors...
5. Americans Are the Most Frequent Victims of Medical Errors
It can be argued that medical errors are leading cause of death in the US—higher than heart disease, higher than cancer. The latest review18 shows that about 1,000 people die EVERY DAY from hospital mistakes alone. This equates to four jumbo jets' worth of passengers every week, but the death toll is largely ignored. Types of errors include inappropriate medical treatments, hospital-acquired infections, unnecessary surgeries, adverse drug reactions, operating on the wrong body part—or even on the wrong patient! One in four hospital patients are harmed by preventable medical mistakes in this country, and 800,000 people die every year as a result. Of those 800,000, 250,000 die as a result of medication errors.
6. Fewer Americans Are Receiving Health Care
Americans do have shorter waits for non-elective surgeries, compared with other developed nations. Only four percent of us wait more than six months, which is considerably less than the Canadians (14 percent) or Britons (15 percent). However, when you consider how many Americans lack access to any health care at all, the wait-time advantage disappears.
Nearly one-third of Americans are uninsured or underinsured.19 Twenty-five percent do not visit a doctor when they're sick, due to the cost. Twenty-three percent can't fill their prescriptions. This is far worse in America than in any of the other countries surveyed. In Canada, only five percent skipped care, and in the UK only three percent. As you know, I'm not a fan of using the standard health care approach in every situation. However, if you become acutely ill or injured, lack of access to care can be devastating.
7. We Don't Pay Physicians in Proportion to Their Quality of Care
Most other countries reward physicians for good care with financial incentives. For example, in the UK, 95 percent of physicians are paid, at least in part, according to the quality of care they deliver. In Australia, it's 72 percent. The US scores lower than anyone else, at 30 percent.
8. Our Health Care Is Inconvenient
Americans' access to after-hours services (early in the morning, later in the evening, and on weekends and holidays) is just mediocre. For access to evening hours, we lag behind Australia, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand. A full 67 percent of Americans—more than in any other country—say it's difficult to get care on nights, weekends, or holidays without resorting to the emergency room, where care is costlier and, if your injury is not life threatening, inefficient and time consuming. Only 30 percent of Americans report that they can access a doctor on the very day they need one, as opposed to 41 percent of Britons and 55 percent of Germans.
9. American Physicians Don't Listen to Their Patients
About 70 percent of Americans are satisfied with their physician's "bedside manner," which is lower than the Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders. But we are five percent more satisfied than the Britons, and well above the Germans or Dutch. However, when you look at specifics, we compare less favorably. Americans are less happy about how well their physicians explain things to them, how long they spend with them, or how smoothly their appointments go, with respect to things like coordinating records and scheduling.
10. Most Americans Are Dissatisfied with the Current System
You've probably heard reports claiming that Britons and Canadians are highly dissatisfied with their health care system, but this survey proved that Americans have them beat by a substantial margin. Americans were the least likely of all seven countries to report relative satisfaction with their health care system.
Only 16 percent of Americans report being happy, compared with 26 percent in the UK and 42 percent in the Netherlands. Thirty-four percent of Americans want a complete overhaul in the health care system, whereas only 12 percent of Canadians and 15 percent of Britons say the same. So we pay the most for our health care, but we have the lowest satisfaction ratings—even lower than those who spend more time "waiting in line." Ezra Klein of the Washington Post makes an excellent point:20
"There is no other area of American life where we collectively accept such a bad deal. We spend more than any other nation on our military, but our military is unquestionably the mightiest in the world. We spend the most on our universities, but our universities are the best on the planet. But we spend the most on our health care—twice as much as anyone else—and our health system is mediocre-to-poor, with 47 million of us lacking the insurance necessary to easily access it."
Affordable Health Care Act: Getting MORE of What Isn't Working
The US does not have a health care system; we have a disease-management system dependent on expensive drugs and invasive surgeries. It's a system with a mission to maximize profits, as opposed to helping people maintain or regain their health. The Affordable Health Care Act is likely to make matters worse rather than better, as the Act does not include any illness prevention strategies. Nor does it contain any measures to rein in out-of-control health care costs related to overcharges. Instead it expands an already flawed model of "care" that is one of the leading causes of both death and bankruptcy for Americans.
Ronald Reagan hit it right on the nose when he said, "Government doesn't solve problems—it subsidizes them." Integrative medicine (IM) is a better alternative to the current system, as it offers a combination of conventional medical therapies and complementary or alternative therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence for safety and effectiveness. The more you take responsibility for your own health by nurturing your body, the less you will need to rely on the "disease care" system that passes for health care in this country.
How Doctors Do Harm
Hospital Errors Kill Well Over 180,000 Americans Annually – Why are Super-Safe Supplements and Natural Health Under Attack?
By Dr. Mercola
If you're interested in protecting your brain health and preventing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, the research is pouring in in support of a key dietary strategy… namely, avoiding sugar and carbohydrates, including gluten.
Last year, I interviewed Dr. David Perlmutter—probably the leading natural medicine neurologist in the US, from my perspective—whose New York Times best-selling book, Grain Brain, has brought this issue to the forefront of medicine.
He recently expanded on this topic in an interview in Alternative and Complementary Therapies,1 where he cites even more research showing a high-carb diet may be detrimental to your brain.
Higher Blood Sugar Levels Are Bad for Your Brain
According to recent research published in Neurology, chronically higher blood sugar levels have a profoundly negative influence on cognition, which the researchers believe is "possibly mediated by structural changes in learning-relevant brain areas."2
One of the most important aspects of the study, however, was that these negative effects occurred even in people without type 2 diabetes, which suggests even if you're "healthy," keeping your blood sugar levels lower than what is typically considered "normal" is probably still best for your brain health. The researchers noted:
"…strategies aimed at lowering glucose levels even in the normal range may beneficially influence cognition in the older population."
This isn't entirely surprising, as separate research has found that impaired insulin response was associated with a 30 percent higher risk of Alzheimer's disease,3 and overall dementia and cognitive risks were associated with high fasting serum insulin, insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, and glucose intolerance.
However, the new study and another published last year4 suggest higher blood sugar levels may be detrimental to your brain even if you don't have any of the former conditions.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the same pathological process that leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may also hold true for your brain. As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage.
High-Carb Diet May Increase Your Dementia Risk by 89 Percent
In one of the most striking studies on carbohydrates and your brain, researchers revealed that those who consumed higher amounts of carbs in their diets had an 89 percent increased risk of dementia. As for those whose diets were highest in fat… their risks decreased by 44 percent.5 Dr. Perlmutter says:6
"We live with this notion that a calorie is a calorie, but at least in terms of brain health, and I believe for the rest of the body as well, there are very big differences between our sources of calories in terms of the impact on our health.
Carbohydrate calories, which elevate blood glucose, are dramatically more detrimental to human physiology, and specifically to human health, than are calories derived from healthful sources of fat.
The diet that I recommend—high in fat and low in carbohydrates—has simply been what we have eaten for a million years, so it has a bit of a track record. The notion that this is a revolutionary new diet has to be put into context. In reality, the diet that people are now consuming.
This is dreadfully high in carbohydrates and low in fat, as our governmental institutions are recommending, is the biggest challenge to human physiology that we have ever experienced, and this is very, very worrisome."
One of the reasons why a high-carbohydrate diet is so damaging is due to fructose. You may already know I am passionate about warning of the dangers of refined fructose.
There is NO question in my mind that regularly consuming more than 25 grams of fructose per day will dramatically increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Consuming too much fructose will inevitably wreak havoc on your body's ability to regulate proper insulin levels.
Research also shows that rats fed fructose syrup showed significant impairment in their cognitive abilities—they struggled to remember their way out of the maze. They were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity.
Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier.7 There is another component of a high-carb diet that may be equally as damaging, however.
Gluten Sensitivity May Also Harm Your Brain
Dr. Perlmutter stresses that gluten sensitivity is involved in most chronic disease, including those affecting your brain, because of how gluten affects your immune system. Unfortunately, many people, physicians included, still believe that if you don't have celiac disease or digestive symptoms, gluten is fair game and you can eat as much of it as you like.
Full-blown celiac disease, which is an extreme form of immune-mediated gluten sensitivity primarily affecting the small intestine, affects an estimated 1.8 percent of people in Western cultures. But non-celiac gluten sensitivity may actually affect as much as 30 to 40 percent of all people, and according to Dr. Alessio Fasano at Massachusetts General Hospital, virtually all of us are affected to some degree.
This is because we all create something called zonulin in the intestine in response to gluten. These difficult to digest proteins known as prolamines, found in wheat, barley, and rye, make your gut more permeable, which allows undigested proteins to get into your bloodstream that would otherwise have been excluded. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity.
According to Dr. Perlmutter, much of our current disease burden stems from the fact that we are contaminating our immune systems with proteins to which the human immune system has never, in the history of humankind, been previously exposed to. I believe another major factor is the development of genetically engineered (GE) grains, which are now pervasive in most processed foods sold in the US.
These GE crops create proteins never before encountered in any natural grain or food, so GE grains deliver a double whammy against your immune system. Food allergies clearly appear to be one of the most noticeable side effects of a GE-grain diet. Dr. Perlmutter explains the role of gluten in brain health:8
"In terms of gluten consumption, we have come a long way from our understanding that celiac disease exists, and we now recognize that, according to top researchers, non-celiac gluten sensitivity also exists, which may affect 30% of humanity. Marios Hadjivassiliou [MD, department of neurology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, United Kingdom] has said, so poetically, that gluten sensitivity may at times be a pure neurologic disease that is basically extraintestinal, and that we do not need to have intestinal issues to define gluten sensitivity. In fact, we are now seeing literature that points the finger clearly at gluten sensitivity as a culprit in a variety of neurologic problems, including depression, cognitive dysfunction, seizures, and even headaches."
Your Brain Needs Healthful Fats
High-carb diets have yet another downfall and that is there tendency to be low in beneficial fats – a ratio that has been supported by "official" dietary guidelines that vilified fats for decades. According to Dr. Perlmutter, our current dietary fat phobia "has absolutely been the cornerstone of our most common degenerative diseases of the day, including Alzheimer's." Why? Because when you cut dietary fat and keep protein about the same, you're going to fill in the gaps with health-harming carbohydrate foods, predominantly grains.
Beneficial health-promoting fats that your body—and your brain in particular—needs for optimal function include organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called organic grass fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil, and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, and avocado, for example. Dr. Ron Rosedale first mentored me in the importance of insulin resistance and a moderate protein (and therefore high fat) and low-carb diet. Most low-carb advocates were very accepting of, if not promoting, high protein, and protein was, and still is, often recommended as a replacement for the carbs.
However, a high-fat, low-carb diet is very different than a high-protein, low-carb diet and this is a major source of confusion by both the public and researchers when doing studies and publishing conclusions. Dr. Rosedale believes the average amount of protein recommended for most adults is about one gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass, or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. (As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight.) In short, most people consume too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat. The key is to eat high-quality natural fats, and a lot of them. Dr. Perlmutter expands:
"…the quality of the fat that we consume is absolutely fundamental. When we're saying high-fat diet, we're not talking about prepared foods on the Twinkie aisle at the grocery store that contain modified trans fats; hydrogenated fats that are clearly coffin nails. They're a great risk for brain disorders, heart disorders, diabetes, etc. We're talking about these beautiful, natural fats that we have been consuming for more than two million years."
Tipping the Scales Toward a Healthier Brain
Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. This fatal and progressive condition destroys brain cells, resulting in memory loss and severe thinking and behavioral problems (aggression, delusions, and hallucinations) that interfere with daily life and activities.
It's one of the most feared diseases because there is currently no cure… but there are steps you can take toward prevention. Your brain is not "programmed" to shrink and fail as a matter of course as you age. We now know that every activity in which you engage—be it exercise, the foods you eat, the supplements you take, your personal relationships, your emotional state, your sleep patterns—all of these factors dramatically influence your genetic expression from moment to moment. And this, in turn, influences your overall health and risk of disease, including in your brain.
Lifestyle strategies that promote neurogenesis and regrowth of brain cells include the following. All of these strategies target a specific gene pathway called BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes brain cell growth and connectivity as demonstrated on MRI scans. So if you're looking for the most straightforward way to lower your risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's, this is the plan to follow. As you'll notice, a great deal of the plan involves modifying your diet to lower unhealthful carbs and increase healthful fats:
- Reduce (non-vegetable) carbohydrate consumption, including sugars and grains.
- Increase healthy fat consumption.
- Increase your omega-3 fat intake and reduce consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. I prefer krill oil to fish oil here, as krill oil also contains astaxanthin, which appears to be particularly beneficial for brain health. As explained by Dr. Perlmutter, astaxanthin is very "focused" on reducing free radical-mediated damage to fat, and your brain is 60-70 percent fat. Personally, I believe there is very compelling evidence to supplement with 12 mg of astaxanthin to prevent Alzheimer's.
- Exercise. Physical activity produces biochemical changes that strengthen and renew not only your body but also your brain—particularly areas associated with memory and learning.
- Reduce overall calorie consumption, including intermittent fasting.
How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease—A Neurologist Speaks Out
Eating Loads of Carbs May Cause You to Lose Your Mind
By Dr. Mercola
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are similar in structure to natural sex hormones such as estrogen. By mimicking natural hormones, they have a number of adverse effects on both humans and wildlife, including developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune system damage.
One of the most talked about endocrine disrupters is bisphenol-A (BPA), a pervasive chemical used in plastics and the lining of canned goods. These are thought to be the two primary routes of exposure, but research is uncovering another route that has received little attention: thermal receipt paper.
Cash-Register Receipts Are an Overlooked Source of BPA Exposure
You probably don't think twice about handling a cash-register receipt on your way out of the grocery store (or replacing that paper in the register if you work there). But you should.
Thermal paper has a coating that turns black when heat is applied (the printer in a cash register applies heat to the paper, allowing it to print numbers and letters). It also contains BPA, and research shows that handling this type of paper is enough to increase your bodily levels.
Though the amount of BPA transferred from a receipt may be small, think about how many times you handle receipts in any given week. It's these frequent, small exposures that add up over time, significantly contributing to your body's toxic load.
And for those who are most vulnerable to BPA's toxic effects – pregnant women, infants, and children – handling receipts may pose an unnecessary risk that few are aware of.
Handling Receipts Increases Your Levels of BPA
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health recruited 24 students and staff members to take part in the study. Considering the toxic nature of BPA on development, it was required that the participants were not pregnant.
They were then asked to handle receipts for two hours with their bare hands. Before this, 20 of the 24 participants had measurable levels of BPA in their urine. Afterward, BPA was found in all of the participants' urine. The concentration of BPA in the urine samples increased as well.1
One week later, for the second part of the study, the participants handled receipts with gloves on, which led to no significant increase in BPA levels. The findings were clear enough that the researchers suggested cashiers and bank tellers may want to wear gloves if they handle receipts frequently.
This is especially important if they're pregnant or of child-bearing age (nitrile gloves were used in the study; it's not yet known if latex or other gloves will prevent BPA exposure).
BPA May Transfer to Your Skin After Holding a Receipt for Just 5 Seconds
Past research also suggests caution is warranted when handling receipts, even if you only hold them long enough to put in your wallet. A study in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry found that of 13 thermal printing papers analyzed, 11 contained BPA.2
Holding the paper for just five seconds was enough to transfer BPA your person's skin, and the amount of BPA transferred increased by about 10 times if fingers were wet or greasy (such as if you've just applied lotion or eaten greasy food).
Finally, because receipts are often stored next to paper currency in people's wallets, paper currency may also be contaminated with BPA. In a study published in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers analyzed paper currencies from 21 countries for the presence of BPA, and the chemical was detected in every sample.3
They also measured the transfer of BPA from thermal receipt paper to currency by placing the two together in a wallet for 24 hours. This dramatically increased the concentrations of BPA on the money, which again suggests that handling receipts, and potentially paper currency, may increase your BPA levels.
Eating Canned Foods Is an Even Greater BPA Threat
While handling receipts was a definite source of BPA exposure, it "only" increased levels by about one-quarter of what would be expected from eating canned soup.4 BPA is commonly thought of as a plastics chemical, but it's becoming clear that canned goods may be an even greater route of exposure than plastics.
According to one study, eating canned soup for five days increased study participants' urinary concentrations of BPA by more than 1,000% compared to eating freshly made soup.5 For this reason, avoiding canned goods as much as possible is one of my topmost recommendations for avoiding exposure to this ubiquitous chemical toxin.
This is not to downplay the importance of avoiding BPA-containing plastics, of course, but ideally you should seek to avoid as many sources of BPA (and other endocrine disrupters) as possible. In terms of BPA, this includes avoiding:
- Canned foods and soda cans
- All BPA-containing plastics and food packaging
- Certain tooth sealants
- Certain BPA-free plastics (which can contain similar endocrine-disrupting chemicals)
- Receipts and currency (seek to limit or avoid carrying receipts in your wallet or purse, as it appears the chemical is transferring onto other surfaces it touches. It would also be wise to wash your hands after handling receipts and currency, and avoid handling them particularly if you've just put on lotion or have any other greasy substance on your hands, as this may increase your exposure)
'ADA' Plastics Chemical Found in Hundreds of US Foods
The reason why it's so important to minimize your exposure to even low levels of environmental chemicals is because there are so many of them out there. BPA is just one. Another is azodicarbonamide (ADA), a chemical that recently made headlines after Subway announced it would remove ADA from its bread.
Azodicarbonamide is used as a dough conditioner and flour bleaching agent in commercial baking; it's also used to improve elasticity in yoga mats, shoe rubber, and other materials, like synthetic leather. There is concern that azodicarbonamide might cause chronic diseases including cancer and, possibly, asthma and allergies, and some US consumer groups have called for it to be removed from foods.
While ADA is banned as a food additive in Australia and some European countries, a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that it is used in close to 500 US foods, including breads, bagels, tortillas, hamburger and hot dog buns, pizza, pastries, and more made by name brands such as Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker's, Fleischman's, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Tyson, and Wonder.6
The World Health Organization has reported that ADA may increase the risk of respiratory problems and skin irritation in workers that handle the chemical and EWG points out that this is yet one more additive that has not been extensively tested to determine its health effects in humans. As EWG reported:7
"One thing is clear: ADA is not food, as food has been defined for most of human history. It is an industrial chemical added to bread for the convenience of industrial bakers. In centuries past, flour fresh from the mill had to age several months before it could be kneaded into dough and popped into the oven. But in 1956, a New Jersey chemical, pharmaceuticals and engineering firm called Wallace & Tiernan, best known for inventing a mass water chlorination process, discovered that ADA caused flour to 'achiev[e] maturing action without long storage.'"
As further reported by EWG senior scientist David Andrews, Ph.D:8"ADA is just one example of an American food supply awash in chemical additives that can be mixed into foods with little oversight or safety review… Americans have regularly eaten this chemical along with hundreds of other questionable food additives for years."
The 'Dirty Dozen' Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals
Many of you have heard of BPA, and some of you may now be familiar with ADA in bread. However, many common household goods, personal care products, and food and water are major sources of chemical exposure that can lead to an accumulation of toxicants in your body and cause hormone disruption. I certainly don't expect you to memorize them all, however being aware of the most pervasive endocrine disrupters is the first step to minimizing your exposures. The EWG's "dirty dozen" list for the 12 worst endocrine disruptors are the following.9 I've written about many of these in prior articles, so for more information about any particular one, please follow the links provided.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) Dioxin Atrazine Phthalates Perchlorate Fire retardants Lead Mercury Arsenic Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) Organophosphate pesticides Glycol ethers
19 Tips to Reduce Your Chemical Exposure
Implementing the following measures will help you avoid the worst endocrine-disrupting culprits as well as other chemicals from a wide variety of sources. To sum it up, try to stick with whole foods and natural products around your home. The fewer ingredients a product contains, the better, and try to make sure anything you put on or in your body – or use around your home – contains only substances you're familiar with. If you can't pronounce it, you probably don't want it anywhere near your family.
- As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
- Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is about the only fish I eat for these reasons.
- Buy products that come in glass containers rather than plastic or canned, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents.
- Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
- Use glass baby bottles and BPA-free sippy cups for your little ones. Some manufacturers have even moved to glass, since BPA-free products may contain other toxic bisphenols.
- Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a common source of chemicals such as bisphenols (e.g. BPA and BPS) and phthalates.
- Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
- Filter your tap water—both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine-disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it. According to the EWG, perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
- Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic, and/or 100% organic. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, upholstery, and more.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove house dust, which is often contaminated with traces of chemicals.
- When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, or carpet padding, ask what type of fire retardant it contains. Be mindful of and/or avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid, and other brominated chemicals. As you replace these toxic items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, and cotton.
- Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
- Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings, and anything your child may be prone to suck on.
- Only use natural cleaning products in your home or make your own. Avoid products that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME)—two toxic glycol ethers that can damage fertility and cause fetal harm.10
- Switch over to organic brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. Remember, you can replace many different products with coconut oil and baking soda, for example. The Environmental Working Group has a great database11 to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals. I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.
- Replace feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives.
- Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
- Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds -- even thousands -- of potentially toxic chemicals.
- Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.
BPA and Narrowed Arteries: New Study Links Plastics Chemical with Coronary Artery Stenosis
Worst Endocrine Disruptors Revealed, and They Could Be Raising Your Family’s Cancer Risk
By Dr. Mercola
America is as obese as it possibly can be, yet the government and media refuse to take responsibility for this tragic problem. Although obesity rates among American preschoolers declined by 43 percent in the past decade, teenage and adult obesity are deplorable and show no signs of improvement.1
These findings were broadcast on all of the nation's major news stations and in most major newspapers2, 3, 4 with many claiming "victory" in the fight against childhood obesity. While this all sounds like good news, I disagree with such proclamations.
The study, published in JAMA,5 found that obesity rates among two- to five-year olds dropped from 14 percent in 2003 to eight percent in 2012. The researchers suggest that decreased consumption of high-calorie drinks and higher rates of breast feeding might account for the decline.
No reduction in obesity rates was found among any other age group, however. And obesity rates for women over the age of 60 actually rose by about 21 percent. Eventually, nearly all Americans end up obese which contributes to a lifetime of chronic disease.
Americans Have Far from Conquered Obesity
One-third of American children and teens (aged two to 19), and more than two-thirds of adults are still either overweight or obese. One out of eight preschoolers is still in the obese category, along with 18 percent of kids aged six to 11—up from seven percent in 1980.6
From my perspective, we're still FAR from being in a position to jump for joy or pat ourselves on the back. The study authors themselves concluded:
"Overall, there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence in youth or adults between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. Obesity prevalence remains high and thus it is important to continue surveillance."
While it may sound promising that overall obesity rates have "stabilized," what that REALLY means is that we have maxed out, we are as fat as we can possibly be as a nation, and show no signs of improvement.
Other statistics clearly show that Americans, including children, are sicker than ever, and it's absolutely obvious that this is a direct result of corrupted federal policies and the junk food industry marketing to kids, getting them addicted to sugar as soon as possible with famous cartoon characters and flashy images. Don't be fooled by this latest PR stunt to make you think they're finally getting something right.
The anti-obesity campaign is NOT working. And while some reporters have stated that the drop in obesity among toddlers is due to successful physical fitness programs, such as First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign (which launched in 2010), I fail to see this connection.
Improved breastfeeding rates are the most likely primary factor contributing to the decline seen in this age group (two- to five-year olds). This is the one area I can appreciate, after decades of disastrous infant formula marketing to new moms, it appears we are finally acknowledging the critical value of breastfeeding.
According to the CDC,7 the percent of babies breastfeeding at six months increased from 35 percent in 2000 to 49 percent in 2010, and infants still breastfeeding at 12 months increased from 16 percent to 27 percent during that same time period. While most infant formulas are about 50% carbohydrates, breast milk is naturally around 18%, which is the obvious problem that contributes to infant obesity.
Federal policies have not budged when it comes to issues that matter the most, or could have the greatest impact. Subsidizing the growing of genetically engineered (GE) corn, soy, and sugar beets continues to fuel the production of cheap, processed junk food that fatten us up and cause cascading health problems, courtesy of the insulin resistance such a diet brings.
Subsidizing the growing of GE soy and corn for hydrogenated vegetable oils is the primary source of clogged arteries leading to countless unnecessary heart attacks.
The combination of junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers' agriculture lobbying, and the willingness of our federal politicians to be lobbied because of their greed for money and power has not changed one bit in the past decade. If anything, it's only gotten more insidious.
New USDA Rule May Stop Soda and Junk Food Advertising in Schools
As a general rule, the beverage industry also still denies or strongly downplays its role in the childhood obesity epidemic, despite the fact that beverage companies spend over $1 billion annually on youth-targeted marketing—especially in school settings—and sodas have been repeatedly shown to massively promote obesity in study after study.
Hopefully, we'll soon see a reduction in junk food advertising in schools at least. First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced a new US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would phase out advertising of sugary drinks and junk food on school grounds. Historically, the junk food industry always finds a way to buy their way back into schools as a desperately needed source of revenues. As reported by NBC News:8
"US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new rules would eliminate marketing for products that cannot be sold in schools. 'If you can't sell it, you ought not to be able to market it,' Vilsack said. He said companies spend $149 million a year on marketing food and drinks to kids in school...
The Federal Trade Commission says the heaviest marketers are candy and snack food manufacturers, beverage companies, and fast food restaurants, which make use of posters and scoreboards. They also give students coupons, for instance offering pizza as a prize for students who read a certain number of books, and they place advertisements in school television programs and other educational materials. California banned sodas and junk food from public schools in 2005 and Connecticut did in 2006, but most states don't have policies."
True Cost Accounting—Understanding the Real Cost of Cheap Food
I was in the Philippines last month and over there fresh fruits and vegetables are inexpensive and processed junk food is costly. So there are strong economic incentives for them to eat healthy. However, the converse is present in the US. For some families, access to fruits and vegetables is very limited, forcing them to rely on the heavily subsidized processed foods at their local markets. Others realize they can get a value meal at numerous fast-food restaurants for far less money than it takes to purchase foods to cook from scratch. But all this cheap food comes with a hidden price tag.
The featured video discusses a number of principles associated with food, such as the principle of true cost accounting,9 which helps you understand the real cost of the food you buy. When you make purchasing decisions based solely on price, without asking why the food is so inexpensive, you're actually supporting a long list of social and environmental ills that, ultimately, you still end up paying for in one way or another.
While Americans pay less for their weekly grocery bill than people in most other nations, the true cost of all this cheap food is staggering. Declining health and rising health care costs are two of the most obvious considerations. Parents need to wake up and face the reality that processed foods have dramatically changed over the years. The level of processing and chemical additives has increased exponentially, and today's pre-packaged convenience foods have been processed and altered to the point of being virtually unrecognizable, nutritionally, from real food.
Processed food is typically NOT interchangeable with fresh whole food, no matter what it says on the bag. Unfortunately, many still do not know that the "natural" label is completely worthless, as foods bearing the "natural" label can still, legally, be chockfull of chemicals, additives, and genetically engineered ingredients.
Children Are Highly Susceptible to GMO Side Effects
In the US, parents also have to contend with the fact that a vast majority of this cheap food is genetically engineered and heavily contaminated with the toxic herbicides like glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. Experts like Dr. Don Huber strongly believe that glyphosate is actually more toxic than DDT.
Compelling evidence now suggests that glyphosate residues, found in most commonly consumed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GE sugar, corn, soy, and wheat, enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease. Glyphosate also severely disrupts your gut flora, thereby further exacerbating metabolic havoc and poor health. Children are clearly at greatest risk here. The sooner their gut flora becomes severely compromised, the sooner their health will begin to fail. If they're fed GE foods from infancy, they may be facing serious health issues by the time they're in their teens!
This is a valid concern, as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can even be found in infant formulas, and no one really knows what the health risks of such ingredients might be, especially long-term. It's important to remember that pound for pound, infants experience greater exposure to chemicals than adults, and have immature and porous blood-brain barriers, which allow greater chemical exposures to reach their developing brains. Hence, an all-organic diet is really crucial for infants and young children.
Breastfeeding is clearly the best option. Besides lacking the full arsenal of critical nutrients obtained from breast milk, many infant formulas also contain far too much sugar (your baby doesn't need any). But it's not just a matter of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that makes breast milk far superior to formula. Breast milk also contains substances that may significantly enhance your baby's gut and support the healthy development of her entire nervous system.
Teach Your Kids the Basic Tenets of Optimal Health
Do not make the mistake of underestimating the power of your influence as a parent when it comes to laying down potentially lifelong habits. Leading by example is one of the most effective teaching tools there is. Children will simply not know which foods are healthy unless you, as a parent, teach it to them.
Remember, wholesome food is "live" and typically raw food, and the hallmark of live food is the fact that it will wilt and decompose. The fact that fast food burgers, buns, and fries show no signs of decomposing, even after a decade, is a clear indication that it's not real food and serves no beneficial purpose as part of your child's diet.
If you're unsure about how to get your family on the right track, my optimized nutrition plan offers a step-by-step guide to feeding your family right. You can find even more help in the book I wrote on the subject, called Generation XL: Raising Healthy, Intelligent Kids in a High-Tech, Junk-Food World. As a quick overview, here are some of the most important lifestyle strategies you can teach your child that will serve him or her well for the rest of their life:
- Proper food choices: For a comprehensive guide, see my free optimized nutrition plan. Generally speaking though, you'll want to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed or minimally processed foods. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw.
Avoid processed sugar, and refined fructose in particular. All forms of sugar have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging. I believe the two primary keys for successful weight management are severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and increasing healthy fat consumption. This will optimize insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health. Sources of healthy fats include:
Olives and olive oil Coconuts and coconut oil Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk Raw nuts, particularly macadamia Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados Grass-fed meats Palm oil Unheated organic nut oils
- Regular exercise: Even if you're eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. HGH also helps boost weight loss.
So along with core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching, I highly recommend that two to three times a week you do Peak Fitness exercises, which raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 20 to 30 seconds, followed by a 90-second recovery period.
- Stress reduction: Your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Meditation, prayer, social support, and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using simple tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden, emotional problems.
- Drink plenty of clean pure water.
- Maintain a healthy gut: About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and research is stacking up showing that probiotics—beneficial bacteria—affect your health in a myriad of ways; it can even influence your ability to lose weight. A healthy diet is the ideal way to maintain a healthy gut, and regularly consuming traditionally fermented foods is the easiest, most cost effective way to ensure optimal gut flora.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels: Research has shown that increasing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk of death from ALL causes. Sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels as your body has built-in "fail-safe" mechanisms that prevent detrimental side effects from occurring. For more information on how to safely and effectively optimize your vitamin D levels, please see my previous article, "How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help You Optimize Your Health."
If you opt for oral vitamin D supplements, make sure you use D3, not prescription D2, as the latter may do more harm than good. Also, if you take supplemental vitamin D, you're creating an increased demand for K2—not K1 that is typically in vegetables as it will not work synergize with vitamin D. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries. Together, vitamin D and K2 help strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
- Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Get plenty of high-quality sleep: Regularly catching only a few hours of sleep can hinder metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.
More Tips for Creating a Healthy Eating Environment for Kids
Ultimately, teaching your child the importance of healthy foods and exercise is the key to maintaining health. With that in mind, here are a few more tips to foster a healthy view of food and self-esteem in your child:
- Lead by example and seek to maintain optimal body weight for yourself and your spouse
- Refrain from making jokes about your child's weight, even if no harm is intended
- Explain the health risks of being overweight to your child, but avoid comparing your overweight child to other children, including thinner siblings
- Cook healthy meals for your family, and let your child be involved in making dinner, but avoid making your child eat different food than the rest of the family
- Encourage your child to make healthy food choices and praise them when they do instead of putting your child down about weight or eating habits
- Instead of using food as a reward or punishment, have healthy snacks available at all times, and explain to your child the benefits they'll get from eating these fresh, whole foods; use non-food items, such as stickers or special outings/activities as rewards instead
How Do Babies Become “Too Fat to Toddle”?
Almost Everyone Eats it, But it's a "Breeding Ground" for Disease