By Dr. Mercola

According to statistics collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million Americans wound up in the emergency room (ER) as a result of a car accident in 2012.

That equates to about 7,000 people per day, and the lifetime medical expenses associated with these accidents amount to about $18 billion. When you add in work lost over a lifetime due to injuries sustained, the cost jumps to $33 billion.

According to Ileana Arias, principal deputy director for the CDC:1

"Motor vehicle crash injuries occur all too frequently and have health and economic costs for individuals, the health care system, and society. We need to do more to keep people safe and reduce crash injuries and medical costs."

While there are many factors that make driving risky, including the use of cell phones, texting, drunk driving, and not using a seat belt, there's also the issue of prescription drug side effects.2 Many can cause drowsiness and/or other impairment that can make you dangerous on the road.

This may in fact be a major traffic safety issue that is largely ignored. Truly, if you're taking medication that impairs your driving skills, it's no different from driving drunk or high on illegal drugs.

FDA Admits: Certain Medications Make Driving Risky

According to research3 published earlier this year, prescription drugs and multiple drug combinations are frequently found in the blood of drivers involved in fatal car crashes on US roads.

Unfortunately, many simply assume that the combination of drugs prescribed to them is safe to take while driving because their doctor did not specifically warn them otherwise. This could turn out to be a fatally flawed assumption...

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should always read the label on any and all prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drug you're taking before getting behind the wheel.

Also make sure you're not taking more than one medication with the same active ingredient, as this will multiply its effect. And don't make the mistake of assuming that OTC drugs are safe to use while driving simply because you can pick them up without a prescription. OTC allergy and cold medications are particularly notorious for making you sleepy and potentially dangerous behind the wheel.

One 2013 CDC report estimates up to 33 percent of all fatal car crashes involve a drowsy driver,4 and contrary to popular belief, sleep aids do not actually make you more well-rested. On the contrary, sleeping pills are also associated with next-day impairment that could make you a danger behind the wheel. As reported by Medicine Net:5

"The [FDA] cautions that some common nonprescription medicines can impair your ability to drive and operate other vehicles and machinery safely. Some of the most common of these drugs include certain types of nonprescription antihistamines, anti-diarrheals, and anti-nausea medications...

'You can feel the effects some over-the-counter medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours,' Dr. Ali Mohamadi, a medical officer at the FDA, said in an agency news release.

"In some cases, a medicine can cause significant 'hangover-like' effects and affect your driving even the next day... 'If you don't read all your medicine labels and choose and use them carefully, you can risk your safety. If your driving is impaired, you could risk your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others,' Mohamadi said."

Polypharmacy Raises Your Risk of Impairment

Gone are the days when drunk drivers were our only concern—alcohol is but one of many drugs that can make you dangerous behind the wheel. And now many people, especially seniors, are on multiple prescription drugs (polypharmacy), which multiplies their impairment.

When you picture someone under the influence of drugs in your mind, you probably don't envision a grey-haired grandmother or grandfather, a middle-aged professional, or a soon-to-be retiree.

But the face of drug addiction in the United States has changed dramatically over the past few decades, and a significant number of older adults are now struggling with both illicit and prescription drug abuse.

According to statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation,6 seniors aged 65 and older fill, on average, 27 prescriptions per year, and National Institutes of Health7 (NIH) statistics show that the number of people in their 50s who are abusing illicit drugs more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 2.7 to 5.8 percent. Among those 65 and older, 414,000 used illicit drugs in 2010.

The most commonly abused prescription medications among seniors include:

  • Opioids (painkillers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl)
  • Depressants (including Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Sonata, prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders)
  • Stimulants (such as Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall)

Many people are still under the illusion that prescription drugs are somehow safer than street drugs, but it's important to realize that prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioids, very similar to heroin.

More Than One in Five Fatal Car Crashes Involve Driver on Multiple Medications

A CDC report8 issued this past summer analyzed data on drivers who tested positive for drugs after being involved in fatal crashes in the US between 1993 and 2010. Not surprisingly, the results were as disturbing as they were revealing. First of all, prescription drugs were involved in fatal car crashes at three times the rate of marijuana.

This is not meant to be an argument that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe, but it clearly shows that prescription drugs, especially when combined with alcohol, is an even greater hazard when you're on the road.9 Moreover, the study found that between 1993 and 2010, the number of drivers with three or more drugs in their system nearly doubled, increasing from 11.5 to 21.5 percent.

Drugs Used by Drivers Involved in Car Accidents
Source: White House Report, Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009 (PDF)

The fact that about one in five fatal car crashes involves an individual with multiple medications in their system should serve as a warning to all who think prescription drugs are safer than recreational drugs. As reported by Medicine Net,10 this trend is likely to worsen as aging Americans continue to rely on prescription drugs. At present, 90 percent of seniors aged 65 and over use prescription medications.11 According to the researchers, doctors can help prevent drugged driving by warning their patients about the risk of impairment while on certain drugs. They also suggested making mass transportation more affordable to dissuade drugged drivers from taking to the road.

Yet another study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology12 in 2012, found that people involved in car accidents are more likely to have taken psychotropic drugs for a period of days, weeks, or months prior to their accident. Psychotropic drugs are those that alter your mental processes and are typically prescribed for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other psychiatric disorders. Benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and insomnia drugs known as Z-drugs (including Sonata, Ambien, Imovane, and Lunesta) all have the potential to impair your driving.

Beware: Medications Also Cause Most Fatal Allergic Reactions

Even if a medication does not make you drowsy or less alert, it's also important to be aware that certain drugs can cause fatal allergic reactions. According to one recent study,13 medicines are the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions in the US—absolutely dwarfing the death rate from other allergens such as bee stings and food. Antibiotics and radiocontrast agents used in imaging studies are among the most hazardous. According to the New York Times:14

"Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers found 2,458 cases of fatal anaphylaxis from 1999 through 2010. Almost 60 percent of the deaths, or 1,446, were caused by reactions to drugs, and in cases where the specific drug was known, half were caused by antibiotics. The rate of drug-induced fatal reactions almost doubled over the period. Insect stings caused 15.2 percent of the fatalities and food 6.7 percent. The cause was not recorded in a fifth of the cases." [Emphasis mine]

Being a Responsible Driver Includes Avoiding Driving When Taking Drugs that May Impair Driving Ability

The risk of driving impairment from prescription medications has likely been underestimated for many years. There is no way to know how many of the accidents attributed to "drunk driving" have really been a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. When you take combinations of drugs, even those prescribed by your doctor, the mental and physical effects can be complex and unpredictable.

So, if you do choose to take psychoactive medications, or drugs that impair judgment and reaction time either by itself or in combination with other drugs, please exercise good judgment and avoid getting behind the wheel. Needless to say, talking on your phone or texting while driving raises your risk of a potentially fatal car crash in and of itself—and doing so while impaired exponentially raises that risk.





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 Comments (88)

By Dr. Mercola

In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson wrote the groundbreaking book Silent Spring, in which she warned of the devastating environmental impacts of DDT. It was among the first times the chemical industry had been openly criticized and brought the impacts of environmental pollution to the forefront of society.

Decades later, in 2002, the US Geological Survey conducted the first nationwide reconnaissance of the occurrence of pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other contaminants in wastewater.

After testing water samples from 139 streams across 30 states, they found contaminants in 80 percent of the streams sampled, and noted that most samples contained seven to 38 different toxins.1

“Little is known about the potential interactive effects… that may occur from complex mixtures of OWCs [organic wastewater contaminants] in the environment,” the researchers noted, and this is still very much true today.

Now, a new study looked at the contaminants found lurking in our water, and what they revealed showed a growing chemical cocktail that shows no sign of stopping.

Prescription Drugs, Pesticides, Caffeine, and More

When researchers tested the water of the Zumbro River in Minnesota, they found a wide variety of contaminants:2

  • Pesticides and insecticides
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-convulsive medications
  • Acetaminophen
  • Caffeine

As was noted more than a decade ago, the researchers again stated, “we don’t know what these background levels mean in terms of environmental or public health.”3

Yet, the sheer number and variety of contaminants are raising concerns among scientists. At the US Geological Survey, for instance, studies have revealed sewage tainted with steroid hormones and the antibacterial triclosan. They’ve also found antidepressants in fish and even toxins like birth control pills and detergents in the slimy coverings on stones in streams.4

As written in Environmental Science & Technology, editor-in-chief Jerald Schnoor, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa, explains the seeming impossibility of keeping tabs on the 89 million organic and inorganic substances registered by the American Chemical Society.5

Most of these are not in commercial use… but still, 15,000 new chemicals and biological sequences are registered every day. There are about 84,000 chemicals that are registered for commercial use and of those 2,400 are high-production volume chemicals (meaning more than 1 million pounds are produced per year).

Even among this list, the vast majority have yet to be proven safe, including 267 that have yet to even be sponsored for testing (and this includes, as Schnoor noted, some “suspicious candidates” like coal tar, creosote, methyl chlorobenzene, and trichloracetaldehyde).

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 Has Yet to Be Updated…

There are complex problems with environmental chemicals, in part because you can’t always predict how they will react in nature. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), for instance, appear to become even more toxic when they’re broken down by plants in the environment.

Even though they’ve been banned for decades they are still found contaminating the environment. So in addition to the potential threats of new chemicals on the market are the continued threat of those already on the market and even those that have long since been banned. As the New York Times reported:6

“…the development of new compounds and the increasing discovery of unexpected contaminants in the environment mean that the nation desperately needs a better system for assessing and prioritizing chemical exposures.

That includes revisiting the country’s antiquated chemical regulation and assessment regulations. The Toxic Substances Control Act went into effect in 1976, almost 40 years ago, and has not been updated since.”

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) allows high-production volume chemicals to be launched without their chemical identity or toxicity information being disclosed. It also makes it very difficult for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals. The National Resources Defense Council explained:7

“Under the law now, the EPA must prove a chemical poses an ‘unreasonable risk’ to public health or the environment before it can be regulated. Widely considered a failure, the law allowed 62,000 chemicals to remain on the market without testing when it first passed.

In more than 30 years, the EPA has only required testing for about 200 of those chemicals, and has partially regulated just five. The rest have never been fully assessed for toxic impacts on human health and the environment.

For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

These chemicals are found in toys and other children's products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and car interiors.”

Health Risks of Environmental Chemicals Can No Longer Be Ignored

It’s become clear that environmental chemicals, even at low doses, cause disturbances to hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems. Chemicals that have accumulated and persist in the environment – in our food, water, air, and household goods – have been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive problems, and more.

It’s difficult to quantify the damage potential of environmental chemicals, especially in utero. However the studies that have tried have yielded some disturbing results.

For instance, earlier this year a study published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology8 found that every 1-percent increase in genital malformations in newborn males within a particular county was associated with a 283 percent increased rate in autism.

According to the researchers, genital malformations such as micropenis, undescended testicles, and hypospadias (when the urethra forms on the underside of the penis) are signs of exposure to harmful toxins.

Other recent research has revealed that exposure while in the womb to DDT increases women’s risk of high blood pressure decades later. The research revealed that women exposed to the most DDT before birth were 2.5 to 3.6 times more likely to develop high blood pressure before the age of 50 than those with the lowest prenatal exposure.9

This means health problems you’re experiencing now could potentially be the result of chemical exposures before you were even born. What is perhaps even more shocking is that toxins you’re exposed to while in your mother’s womb can end up impacting the health of your great-grandchildren through inherited epigenetic changes.

So not only are environmental chemicals potentially jeopardizing the health of your children, they’re jeopardizing the health of multiple future generations.10

Chemical Industry Lobbying for Federal Chemical Law to Take Away States’ Regulatory Powers

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), whose 300-plus members include Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and General Mills, is pushing a Congressional bill called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014. The bill, dubbed the “DARK” (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would actually preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws. What does this have to do with chemical regulations?

Everything… as the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical giants like Dow, DuPont, BASF Corp., and 3M, is trying to do the same thing in regard to chemicals. They know an overhaul of the existing law is coming… and they’re trying to preempt states from being able to tighten up regulations (or take away those already enacted by “tougher” states like California). The American Chemistry Council has spent nearly $6 million on lobbying in the first half of 2014 alone.11

Water Filtration—A Must for Clean Pure Water…

For now, we’re forced to deal with a world in which environmental chemicals exist all around us. For this reason, I strongly recommend using a high-quality water filtration system unless you can verify the purity of your water. To be absolutely certain you are getting the purest water you can, you'll want to filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink.

I currently use a whole house carbon-based water filtration system, in addition to a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to purify my drinking water. You can read more about water filtration to help you make a decision about what type of water filtration system will be best for you and your family. Since most water sources are now severely polluted, the issue of water filtration and purification couldn't be more important.

Living Clean in a Contaminated World

Beyond pure water, organically grown, biodynamic whole foods are really the key to success here, and, as an added bonus, when you eat properly, you're also optimizing your body's natural detoxification system, which can help eliminate toxicants your body encounters from other sources. From there, simply leading a healthy lifestyle will help you to have as minimal a chemical exposure as possible. This includes the following:

  1. As much as possible, purchase organic produce and free-range, organic foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides, growth hormones, GMOs, and synthetic fertilizers.
  2. Rather than using conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity.
  3. Eat mostly raw, fresh foods, steering clear of processed, prepackaged foods of all kinds. This way you automatically avoid artificial food additives, including dangerous artificial sweeteners, food coloring, and MSG. Freshly grown sprouts are particularly nutritious, especially watercress, sunflower, and pea sprouts.
  4. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA- and BPS-containing liners).
  5. As mentioned, have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).
  6. Only use natural cleaning products in your home.
  7. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a useful database to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.12 I also offer one of the highest-quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.
  8. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
  9. Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  10. When redoing your home, look for "green," chemical-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
  11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric, or install a glass shower door. Most flexible plastics, like shower curtains, contain dangerous plasticizers like phthalates.
  12. Limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residues and accumulate in your body over time.
  13. Avoid spraying pesticides around your home or insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective, and natural alternatives out there.


Sources:


Related Articles:

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  Taking Acetaminophen During Pregnancy May Increase Your Child’s Risk of ADHD

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 Comments (43)

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:

  • Smoking
  • 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.



Sources:


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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.

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.





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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.

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.

One recent study2, 3 discovered that yogurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help protect children and pregnant women against heavy metal poisoning.

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. 

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.





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