By Dr. Mercola

Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans,1 is a devastating degenerative brain disease that develops slowly over time, and tends to be quite lethal in its final stages.

According to the latest data, the death toll from Alzheimer’s exceeds half a million Americans per year.2 This places Alzheimer’s in the top three killer diseases in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.

There’s no conventional cure, and few if any successful medical treatments available once Alzheimer’s sets in. There is, however, compelling evidence indicating that your diet plays a significant role. This means you may have quite a bit of control when it comes to prevention.

In previous articles, I’ve discussed the links between high-carb, low-fat diets, and Alzheimer’s. Sugar, it turns out, is a major promoter of the disease. Some research even suggests that Alzheimer’s may be a form of “brain diabetes,” instigated by high sugar/fructose consumption.

The dietary links do not end there, however. More recently, investigators have raised the possibility that this severe form of dementia may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)...

The Intriguing Connections Between Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow, and Chronic Wasting Disease

The key player here is an infectious protein called TDP-43. This protein has already been linked to a number of animal and human diseases, including:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Mad Cow disease
  • Chronic wasting disease, a transmissible neurological disease in deer and elk

Researchers have found that this protein may also play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease,3 as it is correlated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, thereby causing memory loss.

By examining the autopsied brains of more than 340 Alzheimer’s patients, the researchers found that TDP-43 was present in nearly 200 of them. As reported by MedicineNet.com:4

“The study is unlike some others because it looked at two types of patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's after death -- those who showed symptoms in life and those who didn't.

Abnormal levels of TDP-43 were found in those who had the disease and were significantly affected by it... [T]he investigators found that those with abnormal levels of TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have thinking problems such as memory loss at death than the other patients.

How could people have signs of Alzheimer's, but not have symptoms? That's not clear... But, maybe people who have [beta-amyloid] plaques and [tau] tangles don't develop symptoms unless they also have TDP-43, the researchers hypothesized.” [Emphasis mine]

Feeding Animals Animal-Byproducts Is a Common CAFO Farming Technique, and It Can Be Deadly

The common denominator between Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease5 is forcing natural herbivores to eat animal parts. Animal byproducts are in a variety of ways mixed into the feed given to CAFO livestock, and we have repeatedly seen the devastating effects of this practice.

Even in cases where omnivores, such as pigs, are fed byproducts of animals of their own kind, the practice still poses significant problems, as an infection originating in even a single sick animal can rapidly spread this way.

Over the past year, nearly 10 percent of the entire swine population in the US has been wiped out by a highly lethal virus traced back to pig’s blood used in piglet feed for example.

As explained by the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, the infectious agent that causes both Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease is believed to be prions—an infectious type of protein—not bacteria or viruses. While some prions6 serve beneficial cell functions, others, acting like an infectious agent, are known to cause neurodegeneration. TDP-43 is in this latter category.

According to a University of Pennsylvania report titled, “The Saga of a Disease Protein,”7 TDP-43 reacts to oxidative stress, suggesting that antioxidant therapy might be helpful for disease prevention.

Mad Cow Disease Is a Man-Made Plague

Mad Cow Disease is another classic example of why the CAFO “cannibal” solution, i.e. feeding animal parts back to the same species of animal tends to be a bad idea. One of the primary ways Mad Cow Disease is transmitted is when cows are fed bone meal and waste products from other cattle infected with the disease.

As a result, it's now illegal to feed beef-based products to cows. Alas, the beef industry circumvents this rule by using a feed product known as "chicken litter,” and that too can introduce this devastating disease into our food system.

Mad Cows Disease is still a factor when using chicken litter because this rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, and feathers, is also comprised of nearly one-third spilled chicken feed, which includes cow meat and bone meal used to feed the chickens—the very ingredients that are supposed to be off limits for cows.

So, any cow that eats chicken litter may also be consuming various cow byproducts–the very same feed products that spurred Mad Cow Disease in the first place.

Pigs, chickens, and turkeys can also be fed cattle byproducts, and current laws permit byproducts of those animals to be fed back to cattle.8 This is yet another loophole that can allow Mad Cow agents to infect healthy cattle—and you, should you end up eating any of these infected meats.

The CAFO-Alzheimer’s Connection

Eating CAFO meat carries a number of health risks, including the rare occurrence of Mad Cow disease. But could the infectious prions associated with Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and Alzheimer’s be spread via CAFO meats as well? Mad Cow Disease is a prion disease that can spread like wildfire in CAFOs. And there’s speculation that diseased cattle, which is ground up for feed to chickens and other non-bovine animals, may be retransmitting the disease by virtue of it passing on through the food chain, albeit indirectly.

When a foreign protein is introduced, your body will respond with inflammation. Chronic inflammation, we know, is a hallmark of most degenerative diseases. TDP-43 is one such foreign protein, but it certainly isn’t the only foreign protein you might ingest via CAFO foods.

CAFO livestock are also given feed consisting primarily of genetically engineered (GE) grains, and GE plants are also known to produce unfamiliar proteins—some of these proteins have in fact never existed in the human food chain prior to the introduction of GE foods. It’s no small wonder then that researchers keep finding that GE foods tend to be far more allergenic than non-GE foods.9

Now, when it comes to CAFO meats, be it chicken, pork, or beef, you’re being exposed to any number of foreign proteins—and TDP-43 might be one of them... Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), or the human version of Mad Cow, has a long incubation period, and few dementia-related deaths in the US are ever investigated. An infected person usually starts having symptoms in their 60s. As noted by the Centers for Food Safety,10 the symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s, and include staggering, memory loss, impaired vision, and dementia.

Mad Cow Keeps Resurfacing...

In 2012, a California dairy cow was diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow Disease). According to the USDA, milk from cattle infected with Mad Cow is safe for human consumption, but dairy cows can also be processed into meat, and if they’re infected with BSE, such meat can cause vCJD when consumed.11 As noted by Center for Food Safety,12 which reported on the 2012 outbreak:

“Tissue from infected cows’ central nervous systems (including brain or spinal cord) is the most infectious part of a cow. Such tissue may be found in hot dogs, taco fillings, bologna and other products containing gelatin, and ground or chopped meat. People who eat contaminated beef products are at risk of contracting the human version of mad cow disease... The disease slowly eats holes in the brain over a matter of years, turning it sponge-like, and invariably results in death. There is no known cure, treatment, or vaccine for BSE diseases. The incubation period for ‘mad cow’ disease in cattle is thought to be approximately 5 years; it may be latent in humans for a decade or more before manifesting itself.”

This year, Mad Cow is rearing its ugly head again, this time claiming the life of a Texas man. He was the fourth American victim of the disease.13

Chronic Wasting Disease—Another Aspect of the Same Problem

Another type of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) disease is known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which is now rapidly spreading among deer and elk. As with Mad Cow, the disease is the result of domesticating wild animals, as discussed in the featured video. CWD now affects animals in 22 US states, and 68 game farms in Saskatchewan, Canada now have infected animals, imported via game farm animals from the US... CWD-infected animals shed the infectious prions in saliva and urine, starting around three months after being infected. They remain contagious for the remainder of their life, contaminating land and water as they go along.

According to some experts, the prions causing CWD are the most resistant disease agent currently known. As noted in the featured video, should CWD spread among humans the way it’s spreading through the deer population, HIV-Aids would seem like “a walk in the park” in comparison.

Game farms cater to hunters who are more or less guaranteed a kill, and the potential for CWD to spread to humans through consumption of these game animals is a serious concern. A recent paper in the journal Landes Bioscience14, 15 offers the following sobering assessment on the ability of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to affect humans:

“We hypothesize that both BSE prions and CWD prions passaged through felines will seed human recPrP more efficiently than BSE or CWD from the original hosts, evidence that the new host will dampen the species barrier between humans and BSE or CWD. The new host effect is particularly relevant as we investigate potential means of trans-species transmission of prion disease.”

Losing Your Mind for the Sake of a Burger

The idea that neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS may be spread via CAFO foods is not entirely new. A 2005 study16 published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, titled: “Thinking the unthinkable: Alzheimer's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Mad Cow disease: the age-related reemergence of virulent, foodborne, bovine tuberculosis or losing your mind for the sake of a shake or burger,” states:

“In the opinion of experts, ample justification exists for considering a similar pathogenesis for Alzheimer's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and the other spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow disease. In fact, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Alzheimer's often coexist and at this point are thought to differ merely by time-dependent physical changes. A recent study links up to 13 percent of all ‘Alzheimer's’ victims as really having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.” [Emphasis mine]

The researchers also note that bovine tuberculosis serves as a vector for human Mad Cow Disease. Bovine tuberculosis (caused by Mycobacterium bovis and M. avium-intracellulare or paratuberculosis) is one of the most prevalent disease threats in American CAFOs, and the researchers quote USDA data suggesting that anywhere from 20-40 percent of American dairy herds are infected at any given time! According to the authors:

“The health risk for milk tainted with M. bovis has been known for decades and there was a time not so long ago when ‘tuberculin-tested’ was printed on every milk container. Schliesser stated that meat from tuberculous animals may also constitute a significant risk of infection. At the turn of the 20th century 25 percent of the many US deaths from TB in adults were caused by M. bovis. Dairy products aside, when past and present meat consumption are factored in, there is three times the risk of developing Alzheimer's in meat eaters as opposed to vegetarians.

The investigation into the causal trail for Creutzfeldt-Jakob, indistinguishable from Alzheimer's except for its shorter, lethal course might have grown cold where it not for Roel's and others who linked mad cow in cattle with M. bovis and related paratuberculosis on clinical, pathologic and epidemiological grounds. The southwest of the UK, the very cradle of British BSE and CJD outbreaks, saw an exponential increase in bovine tuberculosis just prior to its spongiform outbreaks. All of this brings up the unthinkable: that Alzheimer's, Cruetzfeldt-Jackob, and Mad Cow Disease might just be caused by eating the meat or dairy in consumer products or feed.[Emphasis mine]

Are We Paying Far Too High a Price for Cheap Meat?

In my opinion, the answer to that question is yes. We are paying an exorbitantly high price for factory farmed foods. Some of the health effects associated with CAFO animal products are easier to estimate than others. In all likelihood, the news that Alzheimer’s disease, which now appears to be the third leading cause of death in the US, may be the result of a slower-acting form of Mad Cow or Chronic Wasting Disease is bound to come as a complete shock for most people. And yet the links between the diseases are quite compelling, and they all point to one main culprit: factory farming practices, which eliminate hygiene and replace animals’ natural diets with unnatural grain diets, into which animal byproducts are mixed in.

This “cannibal” solution, and the loopholes that end up permitting same-species cannibalism, has set in motion a disease-producing cycle that can only be stopped by putting an end to such unnatural food production practices. The bottom line is, an animal’s diet matters greatly. You cannot judge the benefits of the animal’s diet based on added weight gain or added milk production alone... There can be all sorts of unforeseen ramifications when you alter the natural course of nature, including never-before-seen diseases.

Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will not only help protect your health, it will ultimately benefit everyone, including the animals, by putting the brakes on farming practices that are actively sowing the seeds of degenerative diseases... The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, 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.




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By Dr. Mercola

If you were around in the early 1900s, a time when tuberculosis and pneumonia were among the leading causes of death, your doctor might have prescribed a drug called heroin to treat your cough.

As explained in the intriguing podcast,1 linked above, heroin was first synthesized by chemist Charles Romley Alder Wright in 1874, but he abandoned it after running animal tests.

More than two decades later, Felix Hoffman, who worked with Bayer pharmaceutical company, again synthesized the drug, and the company’s head of the pharmacological laboratory, Heinrich Dreser, decided to move forward with it.

Dreser deemed heroin to be “an original Bayer product” (despite being aware of Wright’s earlier discovery) and, after testing it on animals and humans in 1898, presented the drug to the Congress of German Naturalists and Physicians.

Heroin, it was claimed, was a miracle drug “10 times more effective than codeine as a cough medicine,” worked better than morphine as a painkiller and had “almost no toxic effects,” including being non-addictive…

Heroin Was a Blockbuster Drug… Until Its Addictive Nature Quickly Became Known

Heroin, which acts as a sedative and respiratory depressant, worked well in suppressing coughing fits, making it a medical breakthrough at the time. Mixed into cough syrup and glycerin solution, taken as a tablet, or even as a heroin “salt,” the drug was marketed to physicians as being non-addictive. This may have been possible, in part, because of its form. According to TodayIFoundOut:2

When heroin is orally ingested, its effects are drastically reduced due to the fact that it is converted to morphine when it is metabolized by your body.

This may partially explain why the addictive effects of heroin were not instantly apparent, as is often the case with modern methods junkies use to partake in this drug which result in it being able to cross the blood-brain barrier extremely quickly.”

In the early 1900s, heroin was popular in more than 23 countries, with Bayer producing one ton of the drug in its first year alone. However, by 1913 the number of heroin addicts had skyrocketed to the point that Bayer was forced to stop producing the drug.

You should know that prescription opiates are chemically similar to heroin, and virtually indistinguishable as far as your brain is concerned. (And heroin is actually still used medically, often for post-surgery pain, in certain countries, including the UK.3)

As explained by Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone "are all classified as opioids because they exert their effect by attaching to the opioid receptor found in our brain and spinal cord."4

For instance, hydrocodone, a prescription opiate, is synthetic heroin. So, if you're hooked on hydrocodone, you are in fact a good-old-fashioned heroin addict. But most people assume that because it’s a “prescription” drug, it’s safe, or should not carry the same negative stigma as a street drug. This is, sadly, far from the truth.

Heroin Addiction Was Rampant in 1913; In 2014, It’s Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Fatal prescription drug overdoses actually surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in 2007. Many of the overdoses (36 percent) involve prescription opioid painkillers, which were actually the cause of more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

To put this into perspective, in 2009, nearly 29,000 people died from unintentional drug overdoses, which is the equivalent of losing an airplane carrying 150 passengers and crew every day for nearly 6.5 months – a scenario that would simply be absolutely unacceptable in terms of public health risks.5

Pain is one of the most common health complaints in the US, but record numbers of Americans are, sadly, becoming drug addicts in an attempt to live pain-free. According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month.6

By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US, which equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans.7 And those narcotics are responsible for 46 deaths each and every day...

Americans use the most opioids of any nation—twice the amount used by Canadians, who come in second place in terms of prescriptions.8 The problem has become noticeable enough that even US officials now warn that narcotic painkillers are a driving force in the rise of substance abuse and lethal overdoses.

Preliminary research presented at the 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona also found that 12.6 percent of all primary care visits made by Americans between 2002 and 2009 involved prescriptions for sedatives and/or narcotic painkillers (opioids).9 The study also found:

  • The number of prescriptions for sedative drugs rose by 12.5 percent a year
  • Patients receiving a narcotic painkiller were 4.2 times more likely to receive a second prescription for a sedative
  • The number of joint prescriptions of opioids and sedatives also increased by 12 percent a year in that time frame
  • Prescription sedatives and narcotic painkillers are responsible for at least 30 percent of narcotic painkiller-related deaths
  • Besides deaths caused by overdose, other risks associated with sedative use include falls in the elderly, emergency room visits, and drug dependence

Just One Prescription May Leave You ‘Addicted for a Lifetime’

CDC Director Tom Frieden put the serious danger of using narcotic painkillers even one time into perspective: "Patients given just a single course may become addicted for life," he recently warned.10 Painkillers work by interacting with receptors in your brain resulting in a decrease in the perception of pain. They are inherently addictive, as they also create a temporary feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria, that can easily lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Ironically, the trademarked name “heroin” is thought to be derived from the German word “heroisch,” or heroic, which is how the Bayer workers who tested the drug on themselves said it made them feel.11 Still, why certain people become addicted (to heroin or prescription painkillers) while others get by unfazed has remained a mystery.

Researchers from the University of Derby set out to determine what might be influencing painkiller addiction and dependence by conducting an anonymous survey of people who had pain and had used painkillers in the last month. They found three predictors that they said identified those most at risk of developing painkiller dependence. It included those who:12

  • Used prescription painkillers more frequently
  • Have a prior history of substance abuse (often unrelated to pain relief)
  • Are less accepting of pain or less able to cope with pain

According to the authors, pain, prior substance abuse, and psychological factors may all play a role in a person’s likelihood of addiction. One thing is for certain, you can certainly not gauge who is an addict by looks or occupation. In fact, painkiller addiction spans all ages and walks of life. The problem, once primarily seen in inner cities, is now spanning to rural areas, hitting people of all ethnic backgrounds and income levels, from business professionals to single mothers to retirees.

For instance, a significant number of older adults, particularly those in the baby boomer generation, are struggling with both illicit and prescription drug abuse. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that the number of people in their 50s who are abusing illicit or prescription drugs more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 2.7 to 5.8 percent in this population. Among those 65 and older, 414,000 used such drugs in 2010.13

At the other end of the spectrum, one in four teens has misused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, according to survey results from the partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation.14 Prescription drugs don’t hold the same stigma as illegal recreational drugs, even though they can be far more deadly, leading teens to regard the former as a “safe” way to get high. Prescription drugs have even been described by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as the “drug of choice” second only to marijuana for today’s teens.15

Prescription Painkillers May Lead to Heroin Use

In many ways, we’ve come full circle from the early 1900s when heroin was used as cough medicine. Today, drugs that are just as potent are prescribed as a solution for pain, leading quickly to addiction for, perhaps, the majority of patients. From there, it may actually progress to heroin use. Over the past five years alone, heroin deaths have increased by 45 percent -- an increase that officials blame on the rise of addictive prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora, all of which are opioids (derivatives of opium, like heroin).16

This connection finally received some media attention following the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor. He died from heroin overdose in early 2014.17 Last year, Hoffman entered rehab when addiction to prescription painkillers led him to switch to heroin. But please don’t be misled that it takes heroin use to cause a fatal overdose. All opioids depress your heart rate and breathing. Large doses can cause sedation and slowed breathing to the point that breathing stops altogether, resulting in death.

Are You in Severe Pain?

I strongly recommend exhausting your options before resorting to a narcotic pain reliever, and I'll list a number of alternatives at the end of this article. That being said, if you’re in severe pain, I agree that these drugs do have a place, and can be a great benefit when used cautiously and correctly with appropriate medical supervision.

However, it's also quite clear that these drugs are being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit, drug use. I strongly suspect that the overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of this problem. So if you are dealing with severe or chronic pain, my first suggestion would be to see a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments and the underlying causes of pain.

Ideally, it is best to find a knowledgeable practitioner who can help you attack the pain from multiple angles, giving you both relief and healing. One option that is receiving increasing attention in the US is cannabis. It’s the cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis that has medicinal properties. CBD is an excellent painkiller and has been used successfully to treat a variety of pain disorders. If your pain is severe enough, it might even be worth moving to one of the many states where medical cannabis is legal, as it can be a real life changer.

In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, such as California, you can join a collective, which is a legal entity consisting of a group of patients that can grow and share cannabis medicines with each other. By signing up as a member, you gain the right to grow and share your medicine. I do, however, still recommend working with a health care practitioner who can guide you on the most effective dosage and form of use (cannabis may be inhaled, smoked, vaporized, taken orally, or even applied topically (in oil form)).

19 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

I strongly recommend exhausting other options before you resort to an opioid pain reliever. The health risks associated with these drugs are great, and addiction is a very real concern. Below I list 19 non-drug alternatives for the treatment of pain. These options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. This list is in no way meant to represent the only approaches you can use.

They are, rather, some of the best strategies that I know of. I do understand there are times when pain is so severe that a prescription drug may be necessary. Even in those instances, the options that follow may be used in addition to such drugs, and may allow you to at least reduce your dosage. If you are in pain that is bearable, please try these first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind.

  1. Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
  2. Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat. My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they manipulate prostaglandins.)
  3. Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
  4. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
  5. K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy. If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis, or other inflammation-based pain, I’d strongly encourage you to try out K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers. K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing—both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, or even bones.
  6. The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body, and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip. For more information about this groundbreaking technology, and how it can help heal chronic pain, please listen to my previous interview with Dr. Harrington.

  7. Chiropractic. Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain, such as low-back pain. Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.
  8. Acupuncture can also effectively treat many kinds of pain. Research has discovered a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.
  9. Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
  10. Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  11. Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  12. Curcumin: In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.18
  13. Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  14. Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
  15. Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
  16. Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  17. Cayenne cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
  18. Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic, as mentioned.19 At present, 20 US states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes, and flavonoids. As discussed in this previous post, varieties of cannabis exist that are very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel "stoned"—and high in medicinal CBD. The Journal of Pain,20 a publication by the American Pain Society, has a long list of studies on the pain-relieving effects of cannabis.
  19. Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and other mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.
  20. Grounding, or walking barefoot on the earth, may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.


Sources:


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By Dr. Mercola

Earlier this month, we ran a report on the CDC anthrax blunder. As if that weren't bad enough, there have been additional exposures since we posted that report. This time, it involved the shipment of live, highly contagious, and deadly H5N1 avian influenza samples.

As previously reported, as many as 841 scientists and staff members at a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) biolab were exposed to live anthrax in June. The live pathogen had been sent from a higher-security facility.

Biosafety protocols were apparently not followed at either of the facilities. The anthrax sample was supposed to have been inactivated prior to transfer, but due to multiple protocol breaches, it was still "live" upon arrival.

In addition to failing to properly inactivate the pathogen, samples were also found to have been transferred in Ziploc bags, and stored in unlocked storage refrigerators in an area where unauthorized personnel were free to wander by.

The director of the CDC's Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory, Michael Farrell, was reassigned,2 from his posts, voluntarily resigned on July 22.3, 4 Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, head of the CDC, has now issued a report5 that admits to sloppy work ethics at the lab.

The Old Adage Holds True: If You Fail to Plan, You're Planning to Fail...

According to the CDC's internal investigation, senior staff members at the receiving facility had not created a written plan for the researchers to follow when studying the deadly pathogen.

Scientists also did not review existing literature before beginning their work. What few instructions were obtained were given over the phone, and poor communication led to some of the errors. As noted by Rutgers University chemistry professor Richard H. Ebright:6

"It is ironic that the institution that sets US standards for safety and security of work with human pathogens fails to meet its own standards. It is clear that the CDC cannot be relied upon to police its own select-agent labs."

The report also admits to two additional anthrax incidents, both of which occurred in 2006. Neither of these incidents had previously been disclosed to the public. In both instances, the CDC "accidentally" shipped live anthrax to two different labs.

A third erroneous shipment involved live botulism bacteria. It seems we can all count ourselves lucky that the CDC hasn't killed large numbers of people yet through all these sloppy mistakes!  

As noted in a recent Scientific American article,7 intentional and/or unintentional releases of deadly agents from high security laboratories have actually proven far more deadly, not to mention far more frequent, than any organized terrorist attack using bioweapons...

For the moment, Dr. Frieden has shut down the CDC's bioterror labs, and no shipments are allowed to leave the agency's highest-security labs, pending a thorough review of safety protocols.

CDC Accidentally Ships Wrong Flu Virus to Poultry Researchers

Incredibly, there's been yet another accidental release of a deadly virus since the anthrax debacle, and CDC leaders didn't even learn about it until a month after it occurred.

Turns out CDC scientists shipped deadly H5N1 avian influenza samples to a Department of Agriculture poultry research lab.8 They were supposed to send a far more benign variety for study... The error appears to have been discovered when all of the exposed chickens died.

The Agriculture Department reported the frightful mix-up on May 23, but CDC staffers didn't report the error to senior management at the CDC until July 7! Dr. Frieden was reportedly "stunned and appalled" upon hearing the belated news.

"The recent revelations have created a crisis of faith in the federal agency, prompting calls for an independent body to investigate such episodes in the future, as well as for sweeping changes at the agency and to a sprawling web of research labs..." the New York Times9 writes.

One can only wonder: had this accidental exposure actually resulted in some sort of mini pandemic, would this mistake ever have seen the light of day? More than likely, it would have been covered up and used as justification for additional vaccinations.

Deadly Pathogens Discovered in an Old Storage Room

The bad news doesn't end there, I'm afraid. Several weeks ago, scientists were shocked to discover a number of old, unapproved vials of the deadly smallpox virus in a "forgotten storage room" on the National Institutes for Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Now, they've reportedly uncovered a total of one dozen boxes containing nearly 330 vials of an array of pathogens, including dengue and spotted fever.10 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the responsibility of overseeing the lab.

Apparently, the vials had been sitting in that storage room for nearly 50 years! Some estimate the specimens date back to somewhere between 1946 and 1964. The smallpox vials were dated 1954. How all of these pathogens got there, and how they could possibly have been overlooked for this long, is still a mystery.

Smallpox killed hundreds of millions of people before being eradicated in 1977, and there it is—sitting in an old cold-storage room in an unapproved lab. What if a natural catastrophe had wiped out the building? What if they'd gotten stolen? Clearly, they would not have been missed! Thankfully, the vials were well-packed and intact, and no accidental exposure appears to have occurred.

Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), told reporters: "The fact that these materials were not discovered until now is unacceptable. We take this matter very seriously, and we're working to ensure that this doesn't happen again." Indeed, it seems several of our federal agencies have their hands full with biosafety investigations, from the USDA and CDC, to the FDA... As reported by CNN,11 the CDC has created "a high-level group of leaders who will work on lab safety issues," and is also working on the creation of an external lab safety advisory group.

The agency also claims to have devised a rapid-response command structure, which has been lacking. How the premiere agency responsible for biosafety could be lacking a rapid-response structure in the first place is yet another mystery, if you ask me...  The CDC promised to clean up its act back in 2012 when repeated safety lapses came to light.12 It didn't happen, and we ended up with the largest accidental exposure to a bioweapon in US history. Let's see if the agency gives the task the time and attention it deserves this time.

The Dreadful History of Biolab Errors

The sad truth is that, over the years, there have been many other deadly biolab mistakes, including but not limited to the following:

In 1971, a former Soviet biological weapons testing facility released a deadly strain of hemorrhagic smallpox—allegedly during an open-air test. Hundreds were quarantined, 50,000 people were vaccinated, and three people died.13
In 1978, a University of Birmingham laboratory inadvertently released the smallpox virus, which ended up killing a British medical photographer.14
In 1979, there was an "accidental atmospheric release" of anthrax in Sverdlovsk, Russia,15 which killed 64 of the 94 infected individuals.16
During the mid-1980s, Bayer sold millions of dollars worth of an injectable blood-clotting medicine to Asian, Latin American, and some European countries, knowing it was tainted with the AIDS virus. This is yet another example of how deadly pathogens can make their way out of the lab, and into the human population.
In 2001, US Army biodefense scientist Bruce Ivins allegedly mailed letters containing a live research strain of anthrax from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Shortly thereafter, he committed suicide. Five people died from the exposure.
In 2004, a lab in Maryland accidentally sent live anthrax to a California children's hospital. The CDC investigated the incident and created recommendations designed to make sure something like this would never happen again, yet the near-identical chain of mistakes and protocol failures just occurred at their own facility.17
In 2009, Baxter accidentally sent vaccines contaminated with live and deadly avian (bird) flu to a research facility in Europe. The mistake originated in a Baxter plant operating under Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL3) status -- meaning that high-level precautions are supposed to be in place to make sure an accident like this never happens. The company blamed the incident on human error, again demonstrating that, apparently, it takes just one absent-minded dingbat to circumvent the highest level biosafety system currently in existence.
In 2012, it was discovered that the bioterror germ lab at the CDC in Atlanta (the same building where the latest anthrax safety breach occurred) has had repeated problems with airflow systems designed to help prevent the release of infectious agents such as anthrax, dangerous strains of influenza, the SARS coronavirus, and monkeypox.

Air from a research lab in one of the Biosafety Level 3 buildings was being vented into a so-called "clean" area, where visitors are not required to wear protective gear. While no one was infected, the problems were major violations of laboratory operating standards.18, 19
Also in 2012, a vaccine researcher at the Northern California Institute for Research died shortly after being infected with the Neisseria meningitides bacteria at work. He was working on a vaccine against the pathogen, and according to the site chief was following required precautions for working with the deadly pathogens.20

New Biorisk Management Standards Are Clearly Needed

There's no doubt that biosafety problems such as the ones discussed above pose a grave danger to public health. And when the gold standard of biorisk safety—the CDC—itself repeatedly fails to follow its own safety protocols, you know we're in trouble... Even with new biorisk management standards, such as those backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), it's questionable whether the risks associated with bioterror research labs can really be eradicated.

Pandemic viruses that could kill off large portions of the population are generally kept for vaccine development. We're repeatedly warned that a deadly outbreak could occur at any moment, and we're told that it's imperative to give vaccine manufacturers the leeway needed to create new vaccines, fast.

What they never tell you, however, is that this research in and of itself poses the greatest risk for creating the outbreak in the first place! It seems quite clear that we cannot blindly accept safety assurances from our federal agencies, not even the CDC, which is in charge of biosafety. It's also clear that we're in dire need for independent oversight of these kinds of facilities.





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By Dr. Mercola

If you shop in a typical US supermarket or big-box store, there may be more to your food purchases than meets the eye. Even the simplest of foods – apples, oranges, and chicken, for example – are commonly altered, treated with chemicals, or even injected with artificial coloring.

If you value pure real food, there's no getting around the fact that buying your food directly from a farm (or via a farmer's market), or, alternatively, growing it in your own backyard, are among the last remaining ways to secure such unadulterated food for your family.

6 Food-Industry Tricks That Might Shock You

TIME recently featured six food-industry tricks that should be common knowledge, but instead are mostly swept under the carpet. The food industry would rather you believe that your apple is just an apple, rather than a fruit with an added wax coating, for example – and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

As TIME reported:1

"…your food goes through a lot to make it to you, from being treated with antibiotics to getting a chlorine bath and a wax coating. Many of these steps are no big deal… but some are bad for your health and others huge money wasters."

1. Farm-Raised Salmon Is 'Colored' Pink

Wild salmon swim around in the wild, eating what nature programmed them to eat. Therefore, their nutritional profile is more balanced and complete, with micronutrients, fats, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants like astaxanthin, which gives salmon its naturally pink, or in the case of sockeye salmon, red-colored, flesh.

Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are fed an artificial diet consisting of grain products like corn and soy (most of which is genetically modified), along with chicken and feather meal, artificial coloring, and synthetic astaxanthin.

Ironically, synthetic astaxanthin is not approved for human consumption, but is permitted to be used in fish feed that humans ultimately eat. How rational is that?

Astaxanthin is added to turn their flesh pink – the color most people expect their salmon to be. Natural salmon get astaxanthin from green algae. However, farmed salmon, without these synthetic "pigment pellets" added to their diets, would be an unappetizing grey color.

There are other reasons to avoid farm-raised salmon (and farm-raised seafood of all kinds). For instance, levels of critical omega-3 fats may be reduced by about 50 percent in farmed salmon, compared to wild salmon, due to increasing amounts of grain and legume (e.g. soy) feed.

The other issue with farmed salmon is the high levels of contaminants. The Norwegian Department of Health has raised serious concerns about high levels of contaminants in farm-raised salmon. The contaminants in question originate in wild fish, courtesy of environmental pollution.

These toxic contaminants bind to the fat molecules in wild fish, and when these fish are ground up for use in fishmeal together with added high-fat fish oils, ultimately these molecules can enter your body where they bind to your cells.

In 2006, Russia actually banned Norwegian farmed salmon, claiming it contained excessive amounts of lead and cadmium (originating from the feed).

Norway is the world's top producer of farmed salmon. Last year, reports of farmed salmon toxicity actually spread through Norwegian news, and the Norwegian Health Department went on the record warning against eating too much farmed salmon due to contamination concerns.

2. Your Oranges Might Be Dyed

Why would orange producers go to the trouble of dying an orange orange? Because early in the season, some oranges might not be orange enough to attract consumers, so some Florida oranges are sprayed with Citrus Red No. 2.

This artificial dye is toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the bladder and possibly other organs. It is not allowed to be used in California oranges.

Citrus Red No. 2 is not intended for consumption, which is why it's typically added to juice oranges. If your oranges are dyed, it should state it on the bag's label; be sure to avoid using the zest or peel of dyed oranges in your cooking.

3. Many Foods Are Dyed

It's not only oranges that may be dyed with artificial colors. Your wheat bread may contain caramel color, as might your roast beef deli meat. Pickles spears are often dyed yellow to make the look more appealing, as are countless other foods.

In their 58-page report, "Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks," CSPI revealed that nine of the food dyes currently approved for use in the US are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions -- and these results were from studies conducted by the chemical industry itself.2

For instance, Red # 40, which is the most widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of tumors of the immune system in mice, while also triggering hyperactivity in children.

Blue #2, used in candies, beverages, pet foods, and more, has been linked to brain tumors. And Yellow #5, used in baked goods, candies, cereal, and more, may not only be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals, but it's also linked to hyperactivity, hypersensitivity, and other behavioral effects in children.

4. Produce Often Gets a Wax Coating

Some produce is waxed after harvest to withstand the long journey to market unscarred and to protect against the many hands that touch it. While the wax is supposed to be food-grade and safe, there are different types used:3

  • Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree)
  • Beeswax
  • Shellac (from the lac beetle)
  • Petroleum-based waxes

The natural waxes are far preferable to the petroleum-based waxes, which may contain solvent residues or wood rosins. Produce coated with wax is not labeled as such, but organic produce will not contain petroleum-based wax coatings (although it may contain carnauba wax or insect shellac).

The other potential issue is that wax seals in pesticide residues and debris, making them even more difficult to remove with just water. To reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your vegetables and fruits, you need a cleanser that also removes the wax, which is what my fruit and vegetable wash does. Produce that is often waxed includes:

Cucumbers Bell peppers Eggplants
Potatoes Apples Lemons
Oranges Limes

 

5. Olive Oil Might Be Mixed with Cheaper Oils

Olive oil is a common target of food fraud, in which it is deliberately adulterated at your expense, according to the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention's (USP) Food Fraud Database. Even "extra virgin" olive oil is often diluted with other less expensive oils, including hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape seed, and walnut. But these other oils will not be listed on the label, nor will most people be able to discern that their olive oil is not pure. If you live in an area where olive oil is made, buying from a local producer is the ideal solution as it allows you to know exactly what's in your oil.

If not, try an independent olive oil shop that can tell you about the growers, or at least seek out a brand name that you trust to produce quality oil from your local supermarket. If at all possible, taste the oil before you buy it. While this won't necessarily be a guarantee of quality (especially if you're not skilled at picking out all the potentially subtle taste differences), it can help you to pick out the freshest-tasting oil possible (and if you open a bottle at home and find that it tastes rancid or "bad," return it to the store for a refund).

6. Chicken Is Given a Chlorine Bath

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) permits poultry producers to put all the poultry through an antimicrobial wash, using chlorine and other chemicals to kill pathogens. We already have a problem with antibiotics causing antibiotic-resistant "super germs" when used in the animals' feed, and this likely makes the problem even worse. Workers in the plants have also reported health problems from the chemical washes, including asthma and other respiratory problems. Not to mention, it's unclear how much of the chlorine residue remains on the chicken when you eat it. In the European Union (EU), the use of chlorine washes is not only banned, but they won't even accept US poultry that's been treated with these antimicrobial sprays.

Germans Alarmed Over US 'Chlorhuehnchen' (Chlorine Chicken)

Both the USDA and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claim that giving chickens a chlorine bath is safe, but that's not enough to convince many Germans, who are now among the most vocal opponents to a free trade agreement between the US and EU. The so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, could generate an estimated $100 billion a year in economic growth for both the US and the EU, but many Germans believe a trade agreement with the US would compromise their food safety and quality. According to Reuters:4

"The phrase 'Chlorhuehnchen,' or chlorine chicken, has entered the parlance of everyone from taxi drivers to housewives since trade negotiations began a year ago. An Internet search for the term generates thousands of results, bringing up cartoons of animals dumped in vats of chemicals and stabbed with needles. A majority of Germans believe chlorine-washed chicken is a danger to human health despite its successful use in the United States to kill bacteria, according to survey by pollster Forsa."

The US Food Industry Allows These Dodgy Practices That Are Banned in Europe

If it surprises you that the EU may be more forward thinking when it comes to food safety than the US, it shouldn't. Thanks to a largely industry-beholden government and regulatory system, Americans are simply not being afforded many of the same protections given to Europeans. For instance, the EU has historically taken a strict, cautious stance regarding genetically modified (GM) crops, much to the chagrin of biotech giant Monsanto and in stark contrast to the US.

While GM crops are banned in several European countries, and all genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled, the US has recently begun passing legislation that protects the use of GM seeds and allows for unabated expansion, in addition to the fact that GM ingredients do not have to be labeled on a federal level. In another example, chicken litter, a rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, feathers, and spilled feed, is marketed as a cheap feed product for US cows. The beef industry likes it because it's even cheaper than corn and soy, so an estimated 2 billion pounds are purchased each year in the US.

However, any cow that eats chicken litter may also be consuming various beef products intended for chickens – raising concerns about Mad Cow Disease. And it's not only the spilled feed that's the problem; the infectious agent can also be passed through the chicken manure as well. In the US, the use of poultry litter in cow feed is unrestricted. Europe banned all forms of animal protein, including chicken litter, in cow feed in 2001. Want yet another example? The drug ractopamine is banned in 160 countries, including Europe, Taiwan, and China.

If imported meat is found to contain traces of the drug, it is turned away, while fines and imprisonment result for its use in banned countries. Yet, in the US an estimated 60-80 percent of pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter because it increases protein synthesis. In other words, it makes animals more muscular… and this increases food growers' bottom line.

Adding insult to injury, up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket, and this drug is also known to cause serious disability, including trembling, broken limbs and an inability to walk, in animals. It's also killed more pigs than any other animal drug on the market. While Europe has remained steadfast on its Ractopamine ban, including refusing imported meat treated with it, the US is actively trying to get other nations to change their minds and accept Ractopamine-treated pork.

What Are the Worst Processed Food Additives?

Processed foods can last a long time on the shelf without going bad, thanks to their chemical cocktails of preservatives and other additives. Unfortunately, their makers put a lot of money and time into strategies to increase shelf life and create attractive packaging, with little attention put on the foods' nutrient value or how it will actually detract from lasting health. Limiting your intake of processed foods is crucial to optimal health, but, if you choose to eat them, be aware of these worst offenders to avoid if you want to protect your health (many of these are already banned in other countries due to health risks):

Ingredient Found in Health Hazards
Coloring agents: blue #1, blue #2, yellow #5, and yellow #6 Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese Most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is a carcinogen
Olestra (aka Olean) Fat-free potato chips Depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids. Side effects include oily anal leakage
Brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO) Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas Competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which can lead to hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer. The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous, corrosive chemical linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss
Potassium bromate (aka brominated flour) Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips See bromine above. Associated with kidney and nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal discomfort
Azodicarbonamide Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods Linked to asthma
BHA and BHT Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer BHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. BHT can cause organ system toxicity
Synthetic hormones: rBGH and rBST Milk and dairy products Linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers
Arsenic Poultry EPA classifies inorganic arsenic as a "human carcinogen"

Beat the Food Industry at Their Own Game: Choose Real Food

When it comes to staying healthy, avoiding processed foods and replacing them with fresh, whole foods is the "secret" you've been looking for. Additionally, the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater the chance of contamination, alteration, and adulteration becomes. If you are able to get your food locally, you eliminate numerous routes that could expose your food to contamination with disease-causing pathogens and other intentionally added (yet still disease-causing) additives. Quite simply, swapping your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods may seem like a radical idea, but it's a necessity if you value your health.

And when you put the history of food into perspective, it's actually the processed foods that are "radical" and "new." People have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented. If you want to eat healthy, I suggest you follow the 1950s (and before) model and spend quality time in the kitchen preparing high-quality meals for yourself and your family.

If you rely on processed inexpensive foods, you exchange convenience for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills. It's also important to source your food directly from high-quality, local sources so you can determine that your chicken is not doused in chlorine and your apples are not coated in wax, for instance. For a step-by-step guide to make this a reality in your own life, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan along with these seven steps to wean yourself off processed foods.



Sources:


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By Dr. Mercola

Are organic foods healthier, and therefore worth the extra expense? The scientific debate over this issue has raged on for many years now. I believe the answer is clear-cut, at least if you believe that toxic chemicals have the capacity to harm your health...

Two years ago, meta-analysis by Stanford University1 received widespread media coverage, and with few exceptions, conventional media outlets used it to cast doubt on the value of an organic diet.

This despite the fact that the analysis—which looked at 240 studies comparing organically and conventionally grown food—found that organic foods are less contaminated with agricultural chemicals. In an effort to further clarify the 2012 findings, a group of European scientists evaluated an even greater number of studies, 343 in all, published over the last several decades.

Organic Foods Have Higher Levels of Important Antioxidants

Just like the Stanford study, the new analysis2, 3, 4, 5, 6 also found that while conventional and organic vegetables oftentimes offer similar levels of many nutrients, organic foods have fewer pesticide residues. They also have on average 48 percent lower levels of cadmium,7 a toxic metal and a known carcinogen—a clear bonus, if you ask me.

One key nutritional difference between conventional and organics however, is their antioxidant content. According to the featured findings, organic fruits and vegetables can contain anywhere from 18-69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally-grown varieties. According to the authors:

“Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies.

Additionally, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops... Significant differences were also detected for some other (e.g. minerals and vitamins) compounds.” [Emphasis mine]

Antioxidants are a very important part of optimal health, as they can control how fast you age by fighting free radicals. So the fact that organic foods contain far higher levels of them vouches for the stance that organic foods are healthier in terms of nutrition, in addition to being lower in pesticides.

Co-author Charles Benbrook notes8 that one reason you’re advised to eat more fruits and vegetables is in fact to get more antioxidants into your diet. “And if organic produce provides more of them, we think that's a big deal,” he says. I couldn’t agree more.

There are also a number of other studies that support the claim that organically grown produce contain higher levels of nutrients in general. For example, in 2010 PLOS ONE published a study9 that was partially funded by the USDA, which found that organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than non-organic strawberries.

Nutrient Content in Food Has Dramatically Declined

Ironically, LA Times10 noted that It's not entirely clear to scientists whether the human body can absorb the extra antioxidants in organic foods and put them to use.” To me, this line of reasoning shows a remarkable depth of ignorance, if not outright deception.

The nutrient content of foods has dramatically declined across the board since the introduction of mechanized farming in 1925. For example, as explained by Dr. August Dunning, chief science officer and co-owner of Eco Organics, in order to receive the same amount of iron you used to get from one apple in 1950, by 1998 you had to eat 26 apples!

Were people prior to the 1950s eating foods that were “unnecessarily” nutrient-dense? Was most of their diet superfluous, in terms of the amount of nutrients a body can get by on?

The idea that your body wouldn’t put the extra nutrients to good use is just plain silly! You did not suddenly develop a new set of genetic instructions over the past 60+ years that allow your body to thrive on toxins and “not know what to do” with antioxidants! So please, do not fall for that kind of nonsense.

One of the primary reasons food doesn’t taste as good as it used to is also related to the deterioration of mineral content. The minerals actually form the compounds that give the fruit or vegetable its flavor. All of these issues go back to the health of the soil in which the food is grown.11

Healthy soils contain a huge diversity of microorganisms, and it is these organisms that are responsible for the plant’s nutrient uptake, health, and the stability of the entire ecosystem. The wide-scale adoption of industrial agriculture practices has decimated soil microbes responsible for transferring these minerals to the plants.

In 2009, the American Association for the Advancement of Science featured a presentation on soil health and its impact on food quality,12, 13 concluding that healthy soil indeed leads to higher levels of nutrients in crops.

Agricultural chemicals destroy the health of the soil by killing off its microbial inhabitants, which is one of the primary problems with modern farming, and the reason why the nutritional quality of conventionally-grown foods is deteriorating. As reported by Scientific American14 back in 2011:

“A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding ‘reliable declines’ in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.

Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition... The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent.”

Contemporary Industrial Agriculture Decimates Soil Microbes

The photographic adventure of NPR commentator and science writer Craig Childs offers a clear view of the death and destruction brought on by modern agriculture—genetic engineering-based monoculture in particular. Childs decided to replicate a photo project by David Liittschwager, a portrait photographer who spent years traveling the world dropping one-cubic-foot metal frames into gardens, streams, parks, forests, and oceans, photographing anything and everything that entered the frame. Around the world, Liittschwager's camera captured thousands of plants, animals, and insects within the cubes, with entirely different “worlds” of plants and animals living as little as a few feet away from each other.

However, when Childs set up his camera among the genetically engineered corn stalks on a 600-acre farm in Iowa, he found NO signs of life with the exception of an isolated spider, a single red mite, and a couple grasshoppers...

The fact of the matter is that the "faster, bigger, cheaper" approach to food is slowly draining dry our planet's resources and compromising your health. The earth's soil is depleting at more than 13 percent the rate it can be replaced. We have already lost 75 percent of the world's crop varieties over the last century. Over the past 10 years, we've had 100 million tons of herbicides dumped onto our crops, polluting our soil and streams. And genetically engineered (GE) crops are now speeding up the destructive process by completely altering the composition of soil bacteria in the fields where such crops are grown.

Pesticide Exposure May Be Greater Than Reported, Thanks to GMOs

It’s worth noting that certain types of pesticides are not even counted when researchers assess pesticide contamination on food. The soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), produces Bt toxin—a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. This pesticide is actually permitted in organic farming, where it’s applied topically. It’s known to photodegrade over time, making it fairly harmless by the time the food reaches your plate.

However, genetically engineered “Bt” crops, such as Bt corn, are equipped with a gene from the Bt soil bacteria. These plants actually produce the Bt toxin internally, in every cell of the plant, from root to tip. This plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the topical spray. It cannot be washed off, and it does not photodegrade. This internal Bt toxin is not counted in pesticide counts, yet it’s present in every single kernel!

The Health Hazards of These Pesticide-Producing Plants

Monsanto and the EPA consistently claimed that the genetically engineered Bt corn would only harm insects. The Bt toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. These claims have since turned out to be false. In 2011, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:15

  • 93 percent of pregnant women tested
  • 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies
  • 67 percent of non-pregnant women

The study authors speculated that the Bt toxin was likely ingested via the normal diet of the Canadian middle class—which makes sense when you consider that genetically engineered (GE) corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, and other corn products. They also suggested that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are. Other research16 has revealed that the Bt toxin produced in GE plants is toxic to humans and mammals, and triggers immune system responses, including:

  • Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections
  • An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease to MS and cancer
  • Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases

Why Spraying Antibiotics on Fields Is a BAD Idea

As suggested earlier, some pesticides have antibiotic properties, and very effectively and aggressively kill off the microorganisms in the soil. Glyphosate is a perfect example, and is one of the primary pesticides used on other types of GE crops, particularly those known as “Roundup Ready.” These crops are engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of the chemical. The idea is that by being “immune” to the chemical, only weeds will be killed off, allowing farmers to liberally spray their fields.  

But when farmers spray glyphosate on their fields, not only are they destroying the fertility of the soil, they’re also promoting chemical resistance in the field AND antibiotic resistance in the human food chain... Indeed, weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, making the weed problem an ever-worsening one. But that’s not all. Livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are routinely fed GE feed—typically GE corn and soy—which destroys the animal’s gut bacteria and promotes disease.

And, feces from animals raised in CAFOs are used as fertilizer on crop fields, which scientists now admit is yet another way antibiotic-resistant disease appears to be promulgated! Modern agriculture is truly stuck in a vicious circle where the “garbage in-garbage out” motto rules supreme...





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