By Dr. Mercola
Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, it’s safer, too.
While many believe that milk must be pasteurized before it can be safely consumed, it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for eons before the invention of pasteurization.
It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk; specifically that from cows raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions, which is what you find in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). It really needs to be pasture-raised, NOT pasteurized.
Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk. Their living conditions promote and maintain their health and optimize their milk in terms of the nutrients and beneficial bacteria it contains.
The Case Against Pasteurization
Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, damages milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and actually promotes the growth of disease-causing pathogens.
Normally, healthy microbes help keep pathogens in check, but since pasteurization kills everything, a massive void is left and it is very easy for disease-causing microbes to contaminate the great culture media in a pasteurized product.
Pasteurization also destroys many of the enzymes that are needed for digestion. As a result, drinking pasteurized milk can tax your pancreas, contribute to leaky gut or holes in the lining of your intestine, and promote disease—particularly allergies.
All of this makes the war on raw milk all the more disconcerting. There are many raw foods sold, yet raw dairy is being singled out for elimination.
Could you imagine if raw oysters, for example, suddenly became a “forbidden” food? Everyone knows there are risks to eating raw oysters. Yet people do it all the time and feed them to their children.
The fact is, ANY food, if poorly handled, carries the risk for disease. Ironically enough, the vast majority of foodborne illness is actually caused by highly processed foods, including pasteurized milk.
Raw Milk Access Threatened in Illinois
At present, my home state of Illinois is pushing to restrict raw milk sales. According to WGEM news:1
“The FDA estimates up to 400,000 Illinois residents drink raw milk and local dairy farmers say those consumers will lose out if new restrictions are put in place...”
For over 30 years, the unlicensed on-farm sale of raw milk has been legal by government policy in Illinois. It’s a policy that has worked well and with no reports of foodborne illness attributed to Illinois raw milk producers going back at least as far back as 1998, if not further back.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued proposed regulations on September 5 that a number of raw milk producers believe would put them out of business. The burdensome, restrictive rules include provisions that would require a producer with even just one cow or goat to have a permit and would be subject to regular inspections and testing; the rules would also prohibit unlicensed dairy farmers from giving raw milk to guests at their home.
A workgroup consisting mostly of IDPH officials and dairy industry reps drafted the proposed rules; raw milk producers and consumers were also part of the workgroup but their input was ignored. The group wasn’t funded by the legislature but rather by a grant from FDA, the most anti-raw milk government agency in the country. An FDA official who was part of that workgroup stated that FDA considers all raw milk potentially adulterated.
Opposition by raw milk producers and consumers to the rules is also understandable when you consider that the proposed rules would place regulation with an agency (IDPH) that was complicit in an attempt to ban raw milk in the state legislature earlier this year. In March, a consortium of county health departments tacked on an amendment to ban raw milk sales in a bogus bill to amend the Access to Restrooms Act (i.e., changing the word “the” to “the”). IDPH knew of the effort but did nothing to stop the consortium when it had the chance to do so. This happened just a few months after raw milk producers and consumers worked in good faith with IDPH to draft reasonable regulations governing raw milk sales and production in Illinois.
An official with IDPH has admitted that the regulations the department wants to become law would not be passed by the Illinois legislature if submitted as a bill. If it wouldn’t pass through the people’s branch of government, why should the agency adopt it as law?
IDPH will be holding a hearing on the proposed rules on Thursday, November 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.at the Illinois Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Shortly after the hearing, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will begin its review of the proposed regulations. JCAR has the power to reject the regulations. Illinois residents are encouraged to attend the November 6 hearing and to contact JCAR, asking its members to reject the proposed rules. Click here for details.
Raw Milk Issue Goes to Wisconsin Supreme Court
Meanwhile, parties to three different cases in Wisconsin are petitioning the state’s Supreme Court to decide, among other matters, whether obtaining and consuming raw milk is in fact a constitutional right. As reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette:2
“The plaintiffs ‘believe they have a fundamental constitutional right to choose what they eat and to choose where that food comes from,’ food rights activist Gayle Loiselle said. ‘We have constitutional rights to conduct business directly between farmers and citizens without government interference and without middlemen like food processors or distributors.’"
At present, Wisconsin allows “incidental” sales of raw milk; however, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) interprets “incidental sales” in such a way as to limit the availability of raw milk to the consumer as much as it possibly can (e.g., one-time purchase at a given farm).
In one of the cases, a suit brought by members of the Nourished By Nature food buyers club (NBN) and farmers Mark and Petra Zinniker to get a court order upholding an agreement in which the Zinnikers boarded cows wholly owned by NBN and provided raw milk to club members, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Fiedler declared that
- Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd.
- Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow.
- Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer.
- The Zinniker Plaintiffs' private contract does not fall outside the scope of the States' police power.
- Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.
In another of the cases, dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges for violations of the state Food and Dairy code, but was convicted on a fourth charge for violating a holding order when he removed food from refrigerators in his farm store that had been sealed by DATCP during a farm raid. Jurors later complained that the judge presiding over the trial, Guy Reynolds, prevented them from hearing evidence that would have changed their verdict on the hold order.
The judge’s conduct was biased against Hershberger throughout the trial; at one point, the judge admonished attorneys and witnesses for Hershberger that they were not to say the words “raw milk” and “liberty” before the jury.
The Wisconsin court cases typify what is happening elsewhere in the country where judges rubber-stamp the actions of overreaching government agencies interfering with people trying to obtain the foods they want to eat.
Raw Milk Bans Are Not Really About Food Safety; They’re About Market Control...
While the US government, public health, and dairy industry officials say they want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk because of safety concerns, it’s quite clear that safety isn't the motivating factor.
The REAL issue is control of the dairy market.
You might think that, should raw dairy become the norm, the dairy industry would simply follow suit and switch over to producing raw products. But it’s not that simple. In fact, it would be virtually impossible for a CAFO operation to start producing safe raw milk.
CAFO cows tend to produce milk that is unhealthy and unsafe to drink raw because grains, antibiotics, and growth hormones, are necessary since the animals live in such unsanitary conditions. This changes the pH balance and the natural bacteria present in the cow's gut. This in turn affects the natural beneficial bacteria and pathogens can widely contaminate the milk.
The fact of the matter is that Big Dairy depends on pasteurization, and this is why dairy lobbyists will stop at nothing to persuade government agencies to restrict or outright ban raw milk produced by much smaller organic or pastured dairy farms.
It’s really about eliminating competition, not about eliminating a major safety hazard. If it were, raw seafood and uncooked meats would surely be outlawed as well. Another control factor relates to the processing industry itself. He who controls the processing controls the market, including pricing.
Data Shows Superior Safety of Raw Milk Compared to Other Foods
Three years ago, Wise Traditions published research by Dr. Ted Beals MD,3, 4 which reveals that you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods (most of which are processed) than you are from raw milk. If those aren’t reasonable odds for choosing raw milk, I don’t know what is. In his 2011 presentation given at the 3rd International Raw Milk Symposium, Dr. Beals also noted that:5
- The CDC estimates more than 845,000 Americans acquire diarrhea caused by contaminated food, but only an average of 34 of those cases are attributed to drinking raw milk
- CDC estimates an annual average of more than 63,150 Americans acquire diarrhea caused by food contaminated with E. coli. On average, just five of those are attributed to drinking raw milk
- CDC estimates an annual average of more than 1 million Americans acquire diarrhea caused by food contaminated with Salmonella. On average, three of those are attributed to drinking raw milk
Furthermore, “those who wish to ban all milk that is not pasteurized use the horrors of Listeria monocytogenes’ systemic diseases to support their cause,” he says. “They consistently broadcast the high mortality and focus on the susceptibility of women who might be pregnant, fetuses, newborns and the elderly. However, Listeria monocytogenes has never been a significant public health risk from drinking fresh raw milk.”
Citing health concerns make absolutely no sense whatsoever when statistics are reviewed. As of 2010, there were well over 9.3 million consumers of raw milk in the US, yet only an average of 42 illnesses annually could be traced back to raw milk consumption. Meanwhile, there are an estimated total of 48 million cases of foodborne illness occurring each year in the US—from foods other than raw milk! As noted by Dr. Beals in his 2011 presentation:
“It is irresponsible for a senior national government administrator to testify that because of those 42 people, raw milk is inherently hazardous, parents should not be allowed to decide which foods they serve their children and milk should be banned across the nation unless it has been pasteurized.”
If you’re curious, you can check the CDC’s Foodborne Outbreak Database6 for yourself to see which foods, and which pathogens or contaminants, have reportedly caused illness over the past decades. At present, the database contains reports from 1998 up until 2012. All sorts of foods are represented, from salads to breads, pastas, various meat dishes, potatoes, and even beer... So while raw milk is featured as a cause of illness, if we use 2012 as an example, coleslaw, chicken, fish, and salad were still more common sources of illness that year. Yet no one is suggesting we ban the sale of any of those foods “to protect human health.”
The Benefits Clearly Outweigh the Potential Risks of Drinking Grass-Fed Raw Milk
While pasteurized milk have few if any redeeming qualities besides being readily available at every convenience store, raw milk from grass-fed cows has a number of health benefits you simply will not obtain from drinking pasteurized and homogenized CAFO milk. For example, raw grass-fed milk is:
Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract High in omega-3 and low in omega-6, which is the beneficial ratio between these two essential fats Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies). These enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, making pasteurized milk much harder to digest Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live Lactobacilli Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and boosts metabolism Rich in healthy unoxidized cholesterol Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible It also contains phosphatase, an enzyme that aids and assists in the absorption of calcium in your bones, and lipase enzyme, which helps to hydrolyze and absorb fats
Where to Find Raw Milk
There are several resources out there to help you locate raw milk and other dairy products, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws, in case you don’t already know what your state’s rules are.
- The Campaign for Real Milk has a Real Milk Finder, listing sources in various US states
- You can also contact your local Weston A. Price chapter for a listing of raw dairy vendors
One alternative to raw milk that is now available in some US food stores is lightly pasteurized and non-homogenized organic milk. If your local store doesn’t carry it yet, you can ask them to do so. As a last resort, if you cannot obtain raw milk, or for whatever reason choose not to, you could opt for organic pasteurized milk. At least you’ll avoid many of the detriments of CAFO dairy that way—including antibiotics, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and other drugs. You’ll also avoid a source of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate, as CAFO cattle are typically fed genetically engineered grains.
Important Raw Milk Bills That Could Usher in More Food Freedom
Raw milk is the only food banned in interstate commerce. This makes it challenging for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines. Such nonsensical bans have resulted in an increasing number of violent crack-downs on peaceful dairy farmers who want nothing more than to provide their customers with high-quality food.
Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky has plans to introduce a series of “food freedom” bills; he introduced the first two of those bills this spring, legislation that could be a big step forward for the raw milk movement. According to Massie, these bills are intended to improve consumer food choices while protecting local farmers from federal interference:
- The Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4307): The bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products, offering relief for small farmers who have been harassed, fined, or prosecuted for distributing raw milk.
- The Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4308): This bill would prevent the federal government from interfering with trade of unpasteurized natural milk or milk products between states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal.
To protect food freedom and freedom of choice for all Americans, I urge you to contact your government representatives, and ask them to vote YES on both HB 4307 and HB 4308. The Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created an online petition to FAX your message to your U.S. Representative and both Senators. Please take a moment to sign the petition right now.
Raw Milk on the Rise -- No Illness Seen
Why is this "Unsafe" Food Banned When It's 35,000 Times SAFER Than Others?
By Dr. Mercola
At the end of 2013, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil had generated nearly 30,000 adverse reaction reports to the US government, including 140 deaths.1
This is probably a gross underestimate, because, although a federal law was passed in 1986 (the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) mandating that doctors and other vaccine providers report serious health problems or deaths that occur after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), there are no legal penalties for not reporting.
This means that the US uses a passive reporting system, with the vast majority of vaccine reactions never being reported. When doctors do report Gardasil vaccine reactions, for example, most of them do not send the report to VAERS but make reports directly to Merck (the vaccine's maker).2
Health problems associated with the Gardasil vaccine include immune-mediated inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders, suggesting that something is causing the immune system to overreact in a detrimental way—sometimes fatally.
Seasoned journalist Katie Couric recently gave airtime to two mothers whose daughters' health suddenly deteriorated after Gardasil shots, prompting an inappropriate smear campaign against her. What it should have done was further encourage an open, honest discussion about the safety of this vaccine, which appears to be highly questionable.
The truth is that a growing body of medical literature is showing the HPV vaccine is linked to nervous and immune system disorders in some young women and girls. If you're a parent or a young person being encouraged to give this vaccine to your child or get it yourself, you deserve to know what the research really shows.
Two Studies Link HPV Vaccine with Nervous and Immune System Disorders
In one recent case study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine,3 researchers described the case of a 14-year-old girl who developed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) with chronic fatigue two months following Gardasil vaccination.
POTS is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions in your body such as your heart rate, balance, digestion, bladder control and sleep. While rare, incidence of POTS appears to be increasing and emerging evidence suggests it may be an autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. As reported by GreenMedInfo:4
"Immunization is considered a potential pathway for this pathogenesis via something called 'molecular mimicry' -- where antibodies against vaccine components 'cross-react' with innate body proteins."
The study authors also suggested that in this case the POTS fulfilled the criteria for a condition known as autoimmune/auto-inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). ASIA was first identified in 2011, and has highlighted the underlying mechanisms of how vaccines, and particularly their adjuvants (such as aluminum), may be triggering disease.
In the Journal of Autoimmunology,5 Dr. Yehuda Schoenfeld described the diagnostic criteria for ASIA, which includes "weakness, anxiety, rashes, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, and the onset of a range of autoimmune diseases from Systemic Lupus Erythematosis to Rheumatoid Arthritis -- sometimes years after an initial reaction."6
In the case study, the girl suffered many of these symptoms following vaccination and a psychiatric evaluation ruled out the possibility that they were psychogenic. This included symptoms such as:
Persistent headaches Dizziness Recurrent fainting Muscle pain Numbness Increased heart rate Breathlessness Visual disturbances Fear of loud sounds Cognitive impairment Insomnia Gastrointestinal disturbances Weight loss
POTS is reported in the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in only 0.07 percent of cases, but its symptoms are listed in up to 16 percent of cases (and up to five times more frequently in connection to Gardasil compared to other vaccines), which suggests it is being significantly underreported.7
6 More Reports of Young Women Developing POTS Following Gardasil Vaccination
The second study, which was published in the European Journal of Neurology,8 described six patients who developed POTS from six days to two months following HPV vaccination. This included:
- A 20-year-old athletic woman who developed weight loss, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, rapid heart rate, and exercise intolerance two weeks after her first dose of HPV vaccine.
- A 22-year-old previously healthy woman who experienced a sudden onset of diarrhea, nausea, and weight loss about two months after receiving her third HPV vaccine.
- A previously healthy 12-year-old girl who began experiencing episodic loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate six days after her second dose of HPV vaccine. Her symptoms improved and then returned three weeks after a third dose of HPV vaccine.
- A 15-year-old girl who developed new-onset dizziness and headaches four weeks after her first dose of HPV vaccine, which progressed to dizziness, shaking, muscle twitching, and weakness within two months.
- A 14-year-old girl who experienced numbness, tingling, fatigue, headache, nausea, and weight loss starting five days after her first dose of HPV vaccine.
- An 18-year-old woman who developed tingling and numbness three weeks after her first Gardasil vaccine, and then back pain, neck stiffness, fatigue, dizziness, urinary incontinence, and blurry vision over the following three months.
According to the researchers: "Correct diagnosis of POTS and awareness that POTS may occur after vaccination in young women is essential for prompt and effective management of this condition." Unfortunately, an interval of just six weeks is often used as evidence of a causal association, while many of the women's symptoms do not occur for months.
This can make it easy for health officials and vaccine makers to pass the symptoms off as coincidence or due to another cause entirely, even though there is research showing that post-vaccination adverse reactions involving the immune system may not show up for months to years following immunization.9
Gardasil Death Confirms Presence of HPV DNA Fragments
Earlier this year, a lab scientist, who discovered HPV DNA fragments in the blood of a teenage girl who died after receiving the Gardasil vaccine, published a case report in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology.10 The otherwise healthy girl died in her sleep six months after receiving her third and final dose of the HPV vaccine. A full autopsy revealed no cause of death.
Sin Hang Lee with the Milford Molecular Laboratory in Connecticut confirmed the presence of HPV-16 L1 gene DNA in the girl's postmortem blood and spleen tissue. These DNA fragments are also found in the vaccine. The fragments were protected from degradation by binding firmly to the particulate aluminum adjuvant used in the vaccine. "The significance of these HPV DNA fragments of a vaccine origin found in post-mortem materials is not clear and warrants further investigation," he wrote.
Lee suggested the presence of HPV DNA fragments of vaccine origin might offer a plausible explanation for the high immunogenicity of Gardasil, meaning that the vaccine has the ability to provoke an exaggerated immune response. He points out that the rate of anaphylaxis in girls receiving Gardasil is far higher than normal—reportedly five to 20 times higher than other common vaccinations.
The Effectiveness of the HPV Vaccine Is Unproven
Please be aware that the very real risks of HPV vaccination come with only a very dubious benefit, at best. In 2012, a systematic review of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine by researchers at University of British Columbia showed that the vaccine's effectiveness is not only overstated (through the use of selective reporting or "cherry picking" data) but also unproven. In the summary of the clinical trial review, the authors state it quite clearly:11
"We carried out a systematic review of HPV vaccine pre- and post-licensure trials to assess the evidence of their effectiveness and safety. We found that HPV vaccine clinical trials design, and data interpretation of both efficacy and safety outcomes, were largely inadequate. Additionally, we note evidence of selective reporting of results from clinical trials (i.e., exclusion of vaccine efficacy figures related to study subgroups in which efficacy might be lower or even negative from peer-reviewed publications).
Given this, the widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions (or such which are at odds with factual evidence) and significant misinterpretation of available data. For example, the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70% reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer(let alone cervical cancer death), nor that the current overly optimistic surrogate marker-based extrapolations are justified.
Likewise, the notion that HPV vaccines have an impressive safety profile is only supported by highly flawed design of safety trials and is contrary to accumulating evidence from vaccine safety surveillance databases and case reports which continue to link HPV vaccination to serious adverse outcomes (including death and permanent disabilities). We thus conclude that further reduction of cervical cancers might be best achieved by optimizing cervical screening (which carries no such risks) and targeting other factors of the disease rather than by the reliance on vaccines with questionable efficacy and safety profiles." [Emphasis mine]
Teach Your Kids to Get Informed, and Your Daughters to Get Their Pap Smears
Health officials report statistics that about 79 million Americans have the sexually transmitted HPV virus, and 14 million are newly infected each year.12 At face value, this might make parents rush to get their children vaccinated, but it sounds far more frightening than it actually is. Gardasil is now recommended as a routine vaccination for young US girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 and even boys between the ages of 11 and 21 are advised to get it for partial protection against genital warts and cancers of the penis and rectum.
To reduce transmission of HPV to girls, thereby preventing cervical cancer deaths (which is highly questionable, as noted above). However, this is all highly questionable when you consider the fact that most HPV infections do not lead to cancer and, instead, clear up on their own within two years. There's no treatment necessary and often no adverse health effects in 90 percent or more of HPV infection cases! Likewise, cervical cancer accounts for less than ONE percent of all cancer deaths, while anal cancer claims approximately 300 a year. So, this vaccine is certainly not aimed at any major public health threat, no matter which way you look at it.
If you are a parent, it is important to educate your pre-teens and teenagers so they know that the risks of getting or transmitting HPV infection can be greatly reduced, if not virtually eliminated, by choosing abstinence or use of condoms. Furthermore, even if they get vaccinated, there are still recommendations for girls and women to have pap screens every few years to detect any cervical changes that may indicate pre-cancerous lesions because there is little guarantee that either Gardasil or Cervarix (another HPV vaccine) will prevent HPV infection or cervical and other cancers.
Routine pap smear testing is a far more rational, less expensive, and less dangerous strategy for cervical cancer prevention, as it can identify chronic HPV infection and may provide greater protection against development of cervical cancer than reliance on HPV vaccinations. Cervical cancer cases have dropped more than 70 percent in the US since pap screening became a routine part of women's health care in the 1960s, as it can detect pre-cancerous cervical lesions early so they can be effectively removed and treated.
Risk factors that increase your chances of developing chronic HPV infection include:
- Co-infection with herpes, chlamydia, or HIV
- Having multiple sex partners
- Compromised immunity
- Long term use of hormonal contraceptives
Most of these are modifiable risk factors and you can boost your immune system health to help reduce your risk of contracting or having complications from infections, by following my nutrition plan.
Your Right to Informed Consent Is Under Attack
I cannot stress enough how critical it is to get involved and stand up for your fundamental human right to exercise informed consent to medical risk-taking and your legal right to obtain non-medical vaccine exemptions. This does not mean you have to opt out of all vaccinations if you decide that you want to get vaccinated or give one or more vaccines to your child. The point is that everyone should have the right to evaluate the potential benefits and real risks of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, and opt out of getting any vaccine or drug they decide is unnecessary or not in the best interest of their health or their child's health.
While it seems "old-fashioned," the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and legally obtain vaccine exemptions is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community. Vaccine use recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choices can have the greatest impact.
Signing up for the National Vaccine Information Center's free online Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org not only gives you immediate, easy access to your state legislators so you can become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when state and national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard.
So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Contact Your Elected Officials
Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you! It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state.
These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.
Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.
I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.
We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We should be treating people like human beings instead of guinea pigs.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:
- NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
- If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
- Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors, employers, or school officials for making independent vaccine choices.
Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One Who Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination. However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines. So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for you or your child.
Gardasil and the Public Flogging of Katie Couric
Oncology Dietitian Exposes Fraud in CDC’s HPV Vaccine Effectiveness Study
By Dr. Mercola
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, about their long-awaited and much-needed Yogurt Report. The interview took place at the recent Heirloom Seed Festival in Santa Rosa, CA, where we both had the honor of speaking.
The idea for the Yogurt Report was seeded about two years ago. I was out of town and a friend requested yogurt, so I went out looking for some in a local grocery store.
To my dismay, I couldn't find a single healthy yogurt... They were all junk food disguised as "health food." Previous to this experience, I was unaware of how truly degenerated most commercial yogurts had become.
I believe this is really a strong case of deception, so I turned to The Cornucopia Institute. It required two years of investigation, but they've now released their Yogurt Buyer's Guide and scorecard.1
If you're eating yogurt to help optimize your gut flora, you need to review this report. Chances are you're currently eating yogurt that has more similarities with candy than anything else...
Have You Been Deceived?
Most commercial yogurts are chockfull of artificial colors, flavors, additives, and sugar, typically as fructose (high fructose corn syrup), which actually nourishes disease-causing bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut. Since your gut has limited real estate, this smothers your beneficial bacteria and gets you sick.
Sugar also promotes insulin resistance, which is a driving factor of most chronic disease. Virtually all commercially available yogurts use pasteurized milk (heated high temperature) even before it is reheated to make the yogurt itself, and this has its own drawbacks.
The top-rated yogurts are generally VAT pasteurized at relatively low temperatures, and are made from raw milk rather than previously pasteurized milk. While not as advantageous as making yogurt from raw milk in your own home, it's certainly better than most commercial yogurt.
The report also took a look at the food industry's labeling campaign, Live and Active Cultures, which is supposed to help consumers select products with high levels of healthy probiotics.
To assess probiotic content, Cornucopia tested yogurt purchased directly from the grocery stores instead of following the industry's practice of testing levels at the factory. As it turns out, many of the brands bearing the Live and Active Cultures label contain LOWER levels of probiotics than the top-rated organic brands in Cornucopia's scorecard that are not part of the Live and Active campaign.
The report also includes a comparative cost analysis of commercial yogurt brands. The good news is that many organic yogurts are actually less expensive, on a price-per-ounce basis, than conventional, heavily-processed yogurts.
Cornucopia Files Complaint; Requests FDA Investigation
As noted in their press release:
“Based on its industry investigation, The Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal complaint with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking them to investigate whether or not certain yogurt on the market, manufactured by such companies as Yoplait, Dannon, and many store brands including Walmart’s Great Value, violate the legal standard of identity for products labeled as yogurt.
The Cornucopia Institute requests that the legal definition of “yogurt” be enforced for product labeling, just as it is for products labeled “cheese.”
“The reason that Kraft has to call Velveeta® ‘processed cheese-food’ is that some of the ingredients used, like vegetable oil, cannot legally be in a product marketed as ‘cheese’,” Kastel added.
Cornucopia alleges that some of the ingredients that manufactures are using in yogurt, like milk protein concentrate (MPC), typically imported from countries like India, do not meet yogurt’s current legal standard of identity.“
Why You Need Probiotics
Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria, mostly in your gut, which is more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your entire body. It's now quite clear that the type and quantity of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases.
A healthy microbiome is not only important for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, these bacteria also help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals, aid in the elimination of toxins, and are responsible for a good part of your immune system and mental health, including your ability to resist anxiety, stress, and depression.
As shown in earlier research, certain microorganisms are particularly efficient at binding to certain toxins and/or chemicals, including pesticides. Here, they found that L. rhamnosus had a preference for binding (and eliminating) mercury and arsenic.
According to the authors: "Probiotic food produced locally represents a nutritious and affordable means for people in some developing countries to counter exposures to toxic metals." Probiotics also have dozens of other beneficial pharmacological actions,4 including:
Anti-bacterial Anti-allergenic Anti-viral Immunomodulatory Anti-infective Antioxidant Antiproliferative Apoptopic (cellular self-destruction) Antidepressive Antifungal Cardioprotective Gastroprotective Radio- and chemo protective Upregulates glutathione and certain glycoproteins that help regulate immune responses, including interleukin-4, interleukin-10, and interleukin-12 Downregulates interleukin-6 (a cytokine involved in chronic inflammation and age-related diseases) Inhibits tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha inhibitor, NF-kappaB, epidermal growth factor receptor, and more
It's also important to realize that your gut bacteria are very vulnerable to lifestyle and environmental factors. Some of the top offenders known to decimate your microbiome include the following—all of which are best avoided:
Sugar/fructose Refined grains Processed foods Antibiotics (including antibiotics given to livestock for food production) Chlorinated and fluoridated water Antibacterial soaps, etc. Agricultural chemicals and pesticides Pollution
Brain Health Is Strongly Tied to Gut Health
While many think of their brain as the organ in charge of their mental health, your gut may actually play a far more significant role. Mounting research indicates that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.5 For example:
- One proof-of-concept study6, 7 conducted by researchers at UCLA found that yogurt containing several strains of probiotics thought to have a beneficial impact on intestinal health also had a beneficial impact on participants' brain function; decreasing activity in brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation such as anxiety.
- The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility8 reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.
- Other research9 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels—an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes—in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.
Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat can quickly alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats.
This is part and parcel of the problem with most commercially available yogurts—they're widely promoted as healthy because they contain (added) probiotics, but then they're so loaded with ingredients that will counteract all the good that they're basically useless... The negative effects of the sugar far outweigh any marginal benefits of the minimal beneficial bacteria they have. Remember, the most important step in building healthy gut flora is avoiding sugar as that will cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial flora.
Surprisingly, Mark Kastel notes that some of the organic brands of yogurt actually contained some of the highest amounts of sugar! It's important to realize that some yogurt can contain as much sugar as candy or cookies, which most responsible parents would not feed their children for breakfast. Artificial flavors are also commonly used.
Top Rated Yogurt Brands
That said, the good news is that there are healthy ready-made yogurts available. Listed below are five of the highest-scoring USDA 100% organic brands, according to the Cornucopia Institute's Yogurt Scorecard. For other high ranking brands, and/or to compare brands, please see Cornucopia's Yogurt Buyer's Guide and scorecard.10
- Traders Point Creamery
- Cedar Summit Farm
- Maple Hill Creamery
- Seven Stars Farm
You Can Easily and Inexpensively Make Your Own Yogurt
Your absolute best bet, when it comes to yogurt, is to make your own using a starter culture and raw grass-fed milk. Raw organic milk from grass-fed cows not only contains beneficial bacteria that prime your immune system and can help reduce allergies, it's also an outstanding source of vitamins (especially vitamin A), zinc, enzymes, and healthy fats. Raw organic milk is not associated with any of the health problems of pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps.
To find a local source of raw grass-fed milk, see RealMilk.com.
While delicious as is, you could add a natural sweetener to it. Mark suggests whole food sweeteners such as raw organic honey or maple syrup, for example. You can also add flavor without sweetening it up by adding some vanilla extract, or a squirt of lime or lemon juice. Whole berries or fruits are another obvious alternative. Just be mindful not to overdo it, especially if you're insulin or leptin resistant—and about 80 percent of Americans are.
Nourish Your Microbiome with Organic Yogurt for Optimal Health
Cultured foods like yogurt are good sources of natural, healthy bacteria, provided they're traditionally fermented and unpasteurized. One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is to obtain raw milk and convert it to yogurt or kefir. It's really easy to make at home. All you need is some starter granules in a quart of raw milk, which you leave at room temperature overnight.
By the time you wake up in the morning you will likely have kefir. If it hasn't obtained the consistency of yogurt, you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge.
A quart of kefir has far more active bacteria than you'd obtain from a probiotic supplement, and it's very economical as you can reuse the kefir from the original quart of milk about 10 times before you need to start a new culture pack. Just one starter package of kefir granules can convert about 50 gallons of milk to kefir! Cultured foods should be a regular part of your diet, and if you eat enough of them you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria.
There may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, but for day-to-day gut health maintenance, yogurt and other traditionally cultured or fermented foods are truly ideal choices.
If You Can't Beat Depression, This Could be Why
Six Surprising Foods with More Sugar than a Twinkie
By Dr. Mercola
Honey has been valued as a natural sweetener long before sugar became widely available in the 16th century. Honey production flourished in ancient Greece and Sicily, for instance, while animals other than humans – bears, badgers, and more – have long raided honeybee hives, risking stings for the sweet reward.1
Honey is truly a remarkable substance, made even more extraordinary by the process with which it is made. This blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids is quite unlike any other sweetener on the planet.
And while honey is high in fructose, it has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you’re healthy). Before I delve into those, here’s a brief “lesson” on how honey is made...
How Honey Is Made (Fascinating!)
It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey.2
Once the nectar is gathered, the bee stores it in its extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then passes it (via regurgitation) to another bee’s mouth. This process is repeated until the nectar becomes partially digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb.
Once there, the honeybees fan the liquid nectar with their wings, helping the water to evaporate and create the thick substance you know as “honey.” This honeycomb is then sealed with a liquid secretion from the bee’s abdomen, which hardens into beeswax. As Live Science reported:3
“Away from air and water, honey can be stored indefinitely, providing bees with the perfect food source for cold winter months.”
There are more than 300 kinds of honey in the US, each with a unique color and flavor that is dependent upon the nectar source. Lighter colored honeys, such as those made from orange blossoms, tend to be milder in flavor while darker-colored honeys, like those made from wildflowers, tend to have a more robust flavor.4
5 Honey Facts You Might Not Know
Honey, particularly in its raw form, offers unique health benefits that you might not be aware of. Among them…
1. Honey Makes Excellent Cough “Medicine”
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists honey as a demulcent, which is a substance that relieves irritation in your mouth or throat by forming a protective film.5
Research shows honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications, to soothe cough and related sleeping difficulties due to upper respiratory tract infections in children.6
2. Honey Can Treat Wounds
Honey was a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until the early 20th century, at which time its use slowly vanished with the advent of penicillin. Now the use of honey in wound care is regaining popularity, as researchers are determining exactly how honey can help fight serious skin infections.
Honey has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidants activities that make it ideal for treating wounds. In the US, Derma Sciences uses Manuka honey for their Medihoney wound and burn dressings.
Manuka honey is made with pollen gathered from the flowers of the Manuka bush (a medicinal plant), and clinical trials have found this type of honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties such as:
- MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)
- VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)
Compared to other types of honey, Manuka has an extra ingredient with antimicrobial qualities, called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). It is so called because no one has yet been able to discover the unique substance involved that gives it its extraordinary antibacterial activity.
Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process, which explains its general antiseptic qualities, but active Manuka honey contains "something else" that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.7
That being said, research shows that any type of unprocessed honey helped wounds and ulcers heal. In one study, 58 of 59 wounds showed “remarkable improvement following topical application of honey.”8
3. Honey Improves Your Scalp
Honey diluted with a bit of warm water was shown to significantly improve seborrheic dermatitis, which is a scalp condition that causes dandruff and itching. After applying the solution every other day for four weeks, “all of the patients responded markedly.” According to the researchers:9
“Itching was relieved and scaling was disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were healed and disappeared completely within 2 weeks. In addition, patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss.”
4. Help Boost Your Energy
A healthy, whole-food diet and proper sleep is the best recipe for boundless energy, but if you’re looking for a quick energy boost, such as before or after a workout, honey can suffice. This is particularly true for athletes looking for a “time-released fuel” to provide energy over a longer duration.10
5. Reduce Allergy Symptoms
Locally produced honey, which will contain pollen spores picked up by the bees from local plants, introduces a small amount of allergen into your system. Theoretically, this can activate your immune system and over time can build up your natural immunity against it.
The typical recommendation is to take about a teaspoon-full of locally produced honey per day, starting a few months PRIOR to the pollen season, to allow your system to build up immunity. And the key here is local.
This approach only works because it has pollen of local plants you may be allergic to. Honey from other parts of the country simply won’t work. While research on this has yielded conflicting results, one study found that, during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:11
- 60 percent reduction in symptoms
- Twice as many asymptomatic days
- 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms
- 50 percent decrease in usage of antihistamines
Interestingly enough, there were few differences between the two honey groups (those who took regular honey, versus those who took honey that contained birch pollen.) However, the birch pollen honey group used less histamines than those who used regular honey. The authors concluded:
"Patients who pre-seasonally used birch pollen honey had significantly better control of their symptoms than did those on conventional medication only, and they had marginally better control compared to those on regular honey. The results should be regarded as preliminary, but they indicate that birch pollen honey could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergy."
Honey for Herpes
Good-quality honey offers several topical wound-care benefits that can explain some of its success as a remedy for herpes sores:
- It draws fluid away from your wound
- The high sugar content suppresses microorganism growth
- Worker bees secrete an enzyme (glucose oxidase) into the nectar, which then releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with your wound
In one study, 16 adult subjects with a history of recurrent labial and genital herpes attacks used honey to treat one attack, and a commonly prescribed antiviral drug, Acyclovir cream, during another. (It's important to realize that neither the drug nor the honey will actually cure genital herpes. They only treat the symptoms.)
Interestingly, honey provided significantly better treatment results. For labial herpes, the mean healing time was 43 percent better, and for genital herpes, 59 percent better than acyclovir. Pain and crusting was also significantly reduced with the honey, compared to the drug. Two cases of labial herpes and one case of genital herpes remitted completely with the honey treatment, whereas none remitted while using acyclovir.12
3 DIY Honey Home Remedies
Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture, making it an ideal addition to moisturizers, shampoos, and conditioners. Along with its antimicrobial properties, honey makes a wonderful addition to homemade personal care products. The National Honey Board has a few you can try out for yourself:13
- Honey Hair Conditioner: Mix ½ cup honey with ¼ cup olive oil. Work a small amount through your hair until coated. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let sit for 30 minutes. Shampoo as normal and rinse.
- Honey Body Moisturizer: Mix 5 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons rose oil, and 2 cups almond oil in a medium-sized bottle. Apply as needed onto wet skin.
- Honey Almond Scrub: Mix 3 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 6 ½ tablespoons of finely crushed almonds. Rub the exfoliating scrub onto your face gently and rinse with warm water.
The Organic Consumers Association has also published this simple honey lemon cough syrup that’s useful to keep on hand during the winter months:14
Honey Lemon Cough Syrup
Lemon helps promote health by quickly alkalinizing your body, and honey will kill most bacteria while soothing your throat. This is a perfect choice for a quick cough remedy.
- Put a pint of raw honey in a pan on the stove on VERY low heat (Do not boil honey as this changes its medicinal properties).
- Take a whole lemon and boil in some water in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes to both soften the lemon and kill any bacteria that may be on the lemon skin.
- Let the lemon cool enough to handle then cut it in slices and add it to the pint of honey on the stove.
- Let mixture cook on warm heat for about an hour.
- Then strain the lemon from the honey making sure all lemon seeds are removed.
- Let cool, then bottle in a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.
This syrup will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator. To soothe a cough, take 1/2 teaspoon for a 25 lb. child and 1 teaspoon for a 50 lb. child, about 4 times a day, or as often as needed. Adults can take 1-tablespoon doses.
Is Honey a Healthy Natural Sweetener? How to Avoid Fake Honey
As far as natural sweeteners go, honey does have a place. The main thing to remember when it comes to honey is that not all honey is created equal. The antibacterial activity in some honeys is 100 times more potent than in others, while processed refined honey will lack many of these beneficial properties altogether. Your average domestic “Grade A” type honey found in the grocery store is likely highly processed.
It’s also been found that more than 75 percent of the honey on American supermarket shelves may be ultra-processed—to the point that all inherent medicinal properties are completely gone—and then smuggled into the country by the barrel drum. Nearly all of this “fake” honey is made in China. Some of these brokers will even create bogus country of origin papers. All 60 jars of "honey" tested by Food Safety News (FSN) came back negative for pollen, which is a clear sign of ultra-processing.15 According to FSN:
"The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies. The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others have also ruled that without pollen, there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources."
In their investigation, FSN discovered the following:
- 76 percent of honey samples bought at grocery stores (such as TOP Food, Safeway, QFC, Kroger, Harris Teeter, etc.) were absent of pollen
- 77 percent of the honey from big box stores (like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, and Target) were absent of pollen
- 100 percent of the honey sampled from drug stores (like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and CVS Pharmacy) were absent of pollen
The good news is all of the samples from farmers markets, co-ops, and natural stores like Trader Joe's had the full, proper compliment of pollen, as did organic brands from common grocery stores. When choosing honey, be sure it is raw, unfiltered, and 100% pure, from a trusted source.
Honey Should Be Consumed Only in Moderation
Honey has many healthy attributes, but it is also high in fructose, averaging around 53 percent. Each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, which means it can exacerbate pre-existing insulin resistance and wreak havoc on your body if consumed in excess. So when consuming honey, carefully add the total grams of fructose (including fruits) that you consume each day, and stay below 25 grams of total fructose per day.
Keep in mind, though, that if you have insulin resistance (i.e. if you are taking drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, or if you're overweight) you'd be better off avoiding all sweeteners, including honey, since any sweetener can decrease your insulin sensitivity and worsen your insulin resistance. If you’re healthy, however, eating raw honey in moderation could provide many of the benefits listed above.
The Honey You Should Never Buy - It May Be Tainted with Lead and Antibiotics
Raw Honey Works Better Than Drugs for Herpes!
By Dr. Mercola
Seasonal changes come with abundant health benefits, including a bounty of wonderfully tasty superfoods. Eating more fresh vegetables is one of the simplest steps you can take to improve your overall health.
A vegetable-rich diet can help protect you from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, and even slow down your body's aging process. I almost hesitated to write a top five list as there are so many wonderful vegetables.
Vegetables benefit all of your body's cells and tissues by infusing them with highly bioavailable nutrients that work synergistically for optimal health. Some of those nutrients even help you adapt to stress, such as the B vitamins and folate, omega-3 fats, magnesium, potassium, and glutathione.
A recent study1 found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit per day have a 42 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, compared to those who eat less than one portion—and vegetables pack the greatest punch.
Not all vegetables are nutritionally equal, however. If you want your vegetables to have the highest nutritional density, take a look at my list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables. Bear in mind that consuming a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to maximize your nutritional benefit.
In the July 2014 issue of Forbes2 is an article entitled "7 Best Anti-Aging Anti-Cancer Superfoods for Summer." Now let's take a look at my own top five—and why I think they deserve that honor.
The beautifully sweet but brightly acidic flavor of a tomato picked fresh from the garden makes for a tasty treat. But in addition to their vibrancy and flavor, tomatoes—especially organic tomatoes—are packed with nutrition, including a variety of phytochemicals that boast a long list of health benefits.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C (which is most concentrated in the jelly-like substance that surrounds the seeds), as well as vitamins A, E, and the B vitamins, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Some lesser-known phytonutrients in tomatoes include:
- Flavonols: rutin, kaempferol, and quercetin
- Flavonones: naringenin and chalconaringenin
- Hydroxycinnamic acids: caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and coumaric acid
- Glycosides: esculeoside A
- Fatty acid derivatives: 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid
Tomatoes are also a particularly concentrated source of lycopene — a carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and watermelon a pink or red color.
Lycopene's antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than other carotenoids such as beta-carotene, and research suggests it may significantly lower your risk for stroke and cancer.
It's estimated that 85 percent of dietary lycopene in North Americans comes from tomato products such as tomato juice or tomato paste.3 In addition to lowering your risk for stroke, lycopene from tomatoes (including unsweetened organic tomato sauce) has also been deemed helpful in treating prostate cancer.
If you consume ketchup, choose organic ketchup as it's been found to contain 57 percent more lycopene than conventional national brands.4 You should always store your tomatoes at room temperature; ideally, only store them in glass to reduce your BPA and phthalate exposure.
It would also be wise to cook any canned or bottled tomatoes as they tend to accumulate methanol very similar to aspartame. However, if you heat the tomatoes, the methanol is highly volatile and will boil away.
Avocados are nutritional gems, including being rich sources of monounsaturated fat that your body can easily burn for energy. Because they are so rich in healthy fats, avocados help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods.
They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folic acid.
A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition5 found that consuming a whole fresh avocado with either an orange-colored tomato sauce or raw carrots significantly enhanced your body's absorption of the carotenoids and conversion of them into an active form of vitamin A.6
The greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green flesh of the avocado, closest to the peel, so you're best off peeling your avocado with your hands, like a banana. Avocados have the following additional health benefits:
- Reducing excess cholesterol
- Reducing inflammation
- Combating cancer cells
- Protecting your liver
- Helping with weight management: According to a recent study, if you are overweight, eating just one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch may satiate you and tamp down excessive snacking
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Berries contain concentrated amounts of the disease-fighting phytochemicals found to boost your immunity, prevent cancer, protect your heart, and prevent seasonal allergies. Berries are lower in sugar than many fruits, so they are less likely to destabilize your insulin levels.
Women who eat more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week have been found to enjoy a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack, due to the fruits' high anthocyanin content.
In particular, blueberries have several known health benefits. They exert positive effects upon your lipid profile, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes. And because of their bountiful antioxidants, blueberries are one of the best fruits to protect you from premature aging. Blueberries have also been shown to alleviate inflammatory intestinal conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.
Two recent studies reveal even more about how berries can protect you against illness. One study published in the June 2014 issue of Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy7 identified a compound in black raspberries that suppresses the growth of tumor cells. Another recent study found that strawberries contain a compound called fisetin that may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.8
In spite of their mild favor and high water content (95 percent), cucumbers contain a number of necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as exerting anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), fisetin, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, manganese, silica, and fiber, and can help your body eliminate toxins. Recent studies show that cucumbers also contain powerful lignans that bind with estrogen-related bacteria in the digestive tract to potentially reduce your risk of several cancers, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate.
Other phytonutrients in cucumbers called cucurbitacins—part of a larger group known as triterpenes—strongly inhibit cancer cell development.9 Cucumbers' anti-inflammatory properties make them useful when applied topically for skin irritations and puffiness, for conditions such as sunburn and puffy eyes. Traditionally, cucumbers have been used to treat headaches and water retention.
5. Greens, Greens, and More Greens!
Consuming a variety of fresh organic greens is one of the absolute best things you can do for your body. Topping the list in terms of nutrient density are watercress (which are really easy to sprout at home), chard, beet greens, and spinach—but adding other gorgeous leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, collards, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, and escarole will just add to your overall nutrient infusion. Greens like spinach and kale are loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and sulforaphane. Spinach provides folate, which research shows can dramatically improve your short-term memory.
Eating folate rich foods may also lower your risk for heart disease and cancer by slowing down wear and tear on your DNA. Some leafy greens, including collards and spinach, contain vitamin K1, which is good for your veins and arteries. Beet greens are even more nutritious than beet roots, which should be eaten in moderation due to their high natural sugar content. Beet greens are even higher in iron than spinach and strengthen your immune system by stimulating your body's production of antibodies and white blood cells, while protecting your brain and bones.
Multiply Your Nutrition Times 30 with Sprouting
Sprouts are a superfood that many people overlook, as they offer a concentrated source of nutrition that's different from eating vegetables in their mature form. Sprouts provide some of the highest quality protein you can eat and can contain up to 30 times the nutrient content of homegrown organic vegetables. Some of the most common sprouts include alfalfa, mung bean, wheatgrass, peas, broccoli, and lentils—but my personal favorites are sunflower and watercress.
You don't have to be a gardener to enjoy sprouting. Growing sprouts in your kitchen is easy and requires little space and time. But if you ARE a gardener, don't throw out those extra seedlings when you're out thinning your broccoli patch—just toss them right into your salad because they're a nutritional goldmine! Sprouts have the following beneficial attributes:
- Support for cell regeneration
- Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
- Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
- Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses, and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
Boost the Nutrient Power of Your Harvest by Juicing and Fermenting
Eating foods that are local and in season will help ensure they are fresh and at peak nutritional value, as well as typically being less expensive. Summer through early fall is a time when you can stock up on your favorites—although they may be SO plentiful that you might not know what to do with them all! I have just the solution: juicing and fermenting.
Juicing provides an easy way for you to consume more vegetables in greater variety, in an easily assimilated form. Virtually every health authority recommends you get six to eight servings of vegetables and fruits each day, but very few people actually get that. Juicing is an easy way to reach your daily vegetable goal. Raw juice can be likened to a "living broth," as it is teeming with micronutrients and good bacteria that many people are lacking.
When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without needing to be broken down. Drinking your juice first thing in the morning can give you a natural energy boost without resorting to stimulants like coffee. Since the juice is so easily digested, it can help revitalize your energy levels in as little as 20 minutes. Juicing is also an excellent way to get your vegetables in if you have difficulty digesting fiber.
Fermenting is one of the best ways to turn ordinary vegetables into superfoods. The fermenting process (also known as culturing) produces copious quantities of beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health, as they help balance your intestinal flora and boost your immunity. When fermenting vegetables, you can either use a starter culture or simply allow the natural enzymes, and good bacteria in and on the vegetables, to do the work. This is called "wild fermentation."
Personally, I prefer a starter culture, because you have more control over the microbial species and can optimize it to produce higher levels of vitamin K2. For the last two years, we've been making two to three gallons of fermented vegetables every week or two in our Chicago office for our staff to enjoy. We use a starter culture of the same probiotic strains that we sell in our store as a supplement, which has been researched by our team to produce about 10 times the amount of vitamin K2 as any other starter culture.
Tips for Selecting the Best Vegetables
Generally speaking, the more vibrantly colorful the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be. I strongly advise you to avoid wilted vegetables because they lose much of their nutritional value. It is wise to eat a variety of dark green leafy vegetables, plus other vividly colored veggies (purple, red, yellow, and orange) to ensure you receive a broad range of those powerful plant nutrients. The following infographic demonstrates how the color of your veggies can give you a clue about which nutrients they provide. For an extensive review of the health benefits of vegetables, please explore our Mercola Food Facts Library.
Food for Thought
The bounty of harvest provides a perfect opportunity for you to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, and perhaps try a few you haven't tried before. The more variety you consume—especially local and seasonal—the higher their nutritional quality will be and the more you will benefit.
My top five vegetable superfoods are tomatoes, avocados, berries, cucumbers, and leafy greens (with watercress, collard greens, kale, and spinach topping the list). You can enrich your diet even further by adding juicing, sprouting, and fermenting to your dietary routine. Keep in mind that your goal is to consume the widest possible variety of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits to ensure the broadest complement of phytonutrients, which is the ultimate way to feed your body—and take control of your health.
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