By Dr. Mercola
Vitamin D research has repeatedly shown that vitamin D can improve a number of brain disorders, including depression and dementia—the most devastating form of which is Alzheimer's disease.
Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain.
Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.
Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on your brain through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
Vitamin D Deficiency Drastically Raises Your Risk for Dementia
According to one recent study,1 , 2 seniors who have low vitamin D levels may double their risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, compared to those with vitamin D levels in the normal range:
- Those with low levels had a 53 percent increased risk for dementia, and a 70 percent higher risk of Alzheimer's
- Severely deficient individuals had a 125 percent higher risk for dementia and 120 percent higher risk for Alzheimer's
As noted by the authors: "This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions."
The Link Between Depression and Dementia
Other recent research has found links between depression and dementia, and between vitamin D deficiency and depression. One eight-year-long study3 from Rush University Medical Center found that higher levels of depression translated into greater risk for dementia later on.
The severity of the depression was also linked to the speed of memory decline—the worse the depression, the faster the decline in memory. According to lead researcher Robert S. Wilson:
"These findings are exciting because they suggest depression truly is a risk factor for dementia, and if we can target and prevent or treat depression and causes of stress we may have the potential to help people maintain their thinking and memory abilities into old age."
Studies4 point to the fact that low vitamin D levels also predispose you to depression, so the links between vitamin D, dementia, and depression indeed appear to be quite real.
In essence, vitamin D deficiency raises your risk of both depression and dementia, so the fact that depressed individuals have a higher risk of dementia then becomes rather logical—but the root of the problem is likely to be a lack of vitamin D, not depression in and of itself.
Vitamin D Deficiency Predisposes You to Depression
In one previous study, seniors with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. More recent research was discussed in a Times Online article:5
"The Amsterdam research, which tracked over 1,200 people aged 65 to 95, showed that blood vitamin D levels were 14 percent lower in individuals with major and minor depression compared with non-depressed participants.
A study in the United States indicated that vitamin D deficiency occurred more often in certain people, including African-Americans, city dwellers, the obese, and those suffering from depression.
People with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with vitamin D levels greater than 30 ng/mL" [Emphasis mine]
A double-blind randomized trial8 published in 2008 also concluded that: "It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship."
Vitamin D May Reduce Depression and Diabetic Pain
Vitamin D supplementation has been found to reduce both depression and diabetic pain.9, 10 Here, researchers assessed how vitamin D supplementation affected women with type 2 diabetes who were also diagnosed with depression.
At the outset of the study, 61 percent of participants reported neuropathic pain (shooting or burning pain in their legs and feet); 74 percent reported numbness and tingling in their extremities. The participants were given 50,000 IUs of vitamin D2 once a week for six months. At follow-up, both depression and pain scores had improved.
According to lead researcher Todd Doyle, Ph.D., vitamin D supplementation "is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes." However, I would note that you'd probably get even better results using vitamin D3 rather than prescription D2. In fact, previous research suggests vitamin D2 might do more harm than good in the long term.
Optimizing Your Vitamin D Also Reduces Your Risk of Diabetes, New Study Suggests
Bringing the focus of this article full circle is research showing that vitamin D may also play a role in type 2 diabetes; so now we have a number of cross-links between vitamin D and dementia, depression, and diabetes. One Indian study found that vitamin D and calcium supplementation in combination with exercise can aid prediabetic individuals by preventing the progression into full blown diabetes.
Since exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your insulin and leptin sensitivity, this certainly makes sense, and may make it more difficult to ascertain which of the two factors—vitamin D or exercise—had the greatest impact. Either way, both are part and parcel of diabetes prevention, so the results still speak to the power of simple lifestyle modifications. As noted by Nephrology News:11
"Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to prediabetes, which is a blood glucose, or sugar, level that is too high but not high enough to be considered diabetes. It is unclear, however, if bringing low vitamin D blood levels to normal through supplementation will affect progression to diabetes.
In the new study, every unit increase in vitamin D level after supplementation of the vitamin decreased the risk of progression to diabetes by eight percent... 'Without healthy lifestyle changes, nothing works to prevent diabetes in at-risk individuals,' said the lead author, Deep Dutta, MD, DM... 'However, our results are encouraging because the addition of vitamin D and calcium supplements is easy and low in cost.'" [Emphasis mine]
Here, a vitamin D level below 30 ng/ml was considered insufficient. All participants in the study were prediabetic. The treatment group received a once-weekly dose of 60,000 IUs of vitamin D3, along with 1,250 milligrams (mg) of calcium carbonate daily, for eight weeks. A second group received only the calcium supplement. Both groups were advised to get 30 minutes of daily exercise. More than two years worth of follow-up revealed that:
- Just under 11 percent of those receiving both vitamin D3 and calcium became diabetic, while 26.5 percent of the calcium-only group developed diabetes
- Blood sugar levels normalized in over twice as many of those in the vitamin D/calcium group, compared to the calcium-only group (41.8 percent versus 20.4 percent respectively)
US Seniors Are at Particular Risk for ALL of These Problems
As noted in a recent MedicineNet article,12 60 percent of seniors seen in emergency rooms (ER) across the US are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition—despite 95 percent of them having primary care physicians, and 96 percent having health insurance, and being otherwise mentally competent. Those most likely to be malnourished were seniors who:
- Suffered from depression
- Lived in assisted-living facilities
- Had trouble swallowing or chewing due to issues with their dentures or dental pain
- Had difficulty shopping for groceries
Vitamin D sufficiency is important both when it comes to preventing depression and pain, but a vast majority of seniors are also vitamin D deficient. So here again we see how a vicious cycle can be set into motion by vitamin D deficiency.
How to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level
When it comes to vitamin D, you want to be in the "optimal" range, not the "normal" one. Based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general health appears to be somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml.
As for HOW to optimize your vitamin D levels, I firmly believe that sensible sun exposure is the best way. There's a smartphone app called DMinder (dminder.info) that will tell you how much UV radiation you're getting and how many IUs of vitamin D you're making based on your local weather conditions (reported from the weather service) and other individual parameters such as your skin tone and age. It will also tell you when to get out of the sun, to protect yourself from sunburn.
If you can't get enough sunshine, then a safe tanning bed would be your next best option. Most tanning equipment use magnetic ballasts to generate light. These magnetic ballasts are well known sources of EMF fields that can contribute to cancer. If you hear a loud buzzing noise while in a tanning bed, it has a magnetic ballast system. I strongly recommend you avoid these types of beds and restrict your use of tanning beds to those that use electronic ballasts.
If your circumstances don't allow you to access the sun or a safe tanning bed, then you really only have one option left, and that is to take a vitamin D supplement. GrassrootsHealth has a helpful chart showing the average adult dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. Many experts agree that 35 IUs of vitamin D per pound of body weight could be used as an estimate for your ideal dose.
The Vitamin D Council aims to raise awareness among the general public on the growing vitamin D deficiency pandemic and the benefits of sun exposure. They are currently at the end of fund drive but there is still time to participate. Your support will allow them to increase their efforts in reducing the burden of vitamin D deficiency and begin the many exciting projects they have lined up.
If You Opt for Oral Vitamin D, Remember Vitamin K2
Keep in mind that if you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to take vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn't be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the consequences similar to vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries.
The reason for this is, when you take vitamin D, your body creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins that move calcium around in your body. Without vitamin K2, those proteins remain inactivated, so the benefits of those proteins remain unrealized. So remember, if you take supplemental vitamin D, you're creating an increased demand for K2. Together, these two nutrients help strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
Test Your Levels at Least Once a Year—Even if You're Healthy
I recommend testing your vitamin D level at least once a year, in the middle of the winter when your level would be at its lowest. This will give you an idea of the extent of your insufficiency. Ideally, you'd want to get your level tested several times a year, at regular intervals, to ensure you're continuously staying within the ideal range. Once you know your pattern and can comfortably predict that you will not fall below 60 ng/ml, then it would be fine to shift to annual testing.
I believe vitamin D testing should be at the top of virtually everyone's list—but especially pregnant women and cancer patients. It's important to remember that optimal vitamin D levels appear to offer powerful PREVENTION of a whole host of chronic diseases, so please, do not wait for a problem to appear before addressing your vitamin D status.
The D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth is one cost effective solution. To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."
How Vitamin D Can Help Slash Your Risk of 7 Different Acute and Chronic Diseases
Correction of This Vitamin Deficiency Shown to Improve Seizure Control in Epilepsy
By Dr. Mercola
Mirabel Osler, an English writer and garden designer, famously said: "There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling."
Indeed, gardening, a pastime taken up by 72 percent of US households,1 awakens a primal urge that many of us have to connect with the earth. By putting your hands in the soil, you are able to physically unite with nature on an elemental level.
At the same time, gardening gets you outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, helping your body produce much-needed vitamin D. It gets you moving, providing important exercise, and allows you to connect socially with other gardeners.
When you garden, you're adding beauty to the landscape and habitat for birds, bees, frogs, worms, and so much more. Depending on what you garden, you can reap a harvest of fruits and vegetables to feed your family. You can also indirectly feed your brain for better mood and emotional health, and to satisfy your curiosity for knowledge.
In fact, learning is the fourth top reason why people say they garden -- after to grow safe, healthy food, get exercise, and add beauty to their yard.2 Perhaps it's no coincidence that people garden, in part, to stimulate their brains, as gardening has been shown to impact brain health considerably.
Spending Time in a Garden May Help Calm Dementia Patients
A new systematic review examined the impact of gardens and outdoor spaces on the mental and physical well-being of people with dementia. The research suggested that garden use, whether it be watering plants, walking through a garden or sitting in one, led to decreased levels of agitation or anxiety among the patients.3
As for why the garden may help induce calm, Dr. Mark Stecker, chairman of neurosciences at Winthrop-University Hospital, who was not involved with the study, said:4
"When your brain is impaired, you go back to your basic instincts. Many people have always enjoyed the outdoors. They may not have an explicit memory of that, but it's an implicit memory. And they find it comforting to be outside."
This makes sense, especially considering researchers in the Netherlands have found that gardening is one of the most potent stress-relieving activities there is.5 In their trial, two groups of people were asked to complete a stressful task; one group was then instructed to garden for half an hour while the other group was asked to read indoors for the same length of time.
Afterward, the gardening group reported a greater improvement in mood. Tests also revealed they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, compared to those who tried to relax by quiet reading.
Interestingly, while spending time in a garden may help relieve some dementia symptoms, it may also help to reduce your risk of developing dementia in the first place. As reported by CNN:6
"Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36 percent and 47 percent lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, even when a range of other health factors were taken into account.
These findings are hardly definitive, but they suggest that the combination of physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the mind."
Gardening May Make You Happy Via Antidepressant Microbes in the Soil
According to a survey by Gardeners' World magazine, 80 percent of gardeners reported being "happy" and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners.7 Perhaps it's no coincidence that gardeners are happier…
Mycobacterium vaccae is a type of bacteria commonly found in soil, which people may ingest or inhale when they garden.8 Remarkably, this microbe has been found to "mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide."9 It helps to stimulate serotonin production, helping to make you feel happier and more relaxed. No wonder so many people describe their garden as their "happy place."
In one animal study, mice that ingested Mycobacterium vaccae had a demonstrated reduction in anxiety and improved learning. The researchers noted that natural exposure to microbes may be important for emotional health and behavior: 10
"Recent studies show that contact with tolerogenic microbes is important for the proper functioning of immunoregulatory circuits affecting behavior, emotionality and health…
Collectively, our results suggest a beneficial effect of naturally delivered, live M. vaccae on anxiety-related behaviors… supporting a positive role for ambient microbes in the immunomodulation of animal behavior."
A Free Way to Drastically Improve the Health of Your Soil
Nurturing the health of your soil may benefit you on multiple levels, not only by exposure to mood-boosting microbes but also because healthy soil is what allows your food, the vegetables and fruits, to grow nutrient-dense foods.
Nature is self-sustaining, and when left alone the ground will get covered with leaves and organic materials that then turn into lush compost, adding nutrients back to the soil. This top layer of organic material also shields the soil and helps retain moisture.
Imitating nature by covering your garden with wood chips will result in less watering and improved yield. The most cost-effective solution is to contact your local tree service, where you can get large amounts of wood chips (tree branches that have gone through a wood chipper) for free, rather than purchasing mulch from a garden center.
It is important to distribute all the chips within 1-2 days though, otherwise they tend to decompose and you will breathe in some nasty dust as you move them. You can see my recent article for more information on wood chips. Besides wood chips, I strongly encourage you to consider adding biochar to your garden, to optimize the health of your soil. This soil amendment can truly transform your garden, in terms of dramatically boosting yields.
One of the keys to a truly successful garden is to improve the microbiology of the soil. It is this diverse collection of bacteria, fungi, and parasites that actually transfer the nutrients from the soil into the plant. While synthetic fertilizers like Miracle Grow will supply some nutrients, these salts actually kill the soil microbes! As a result, your garden will not become "self-sustaining" and it will worsen over time.
To thrive and multiply, these soil microbes need a home to hang out in, or else they simply die shortly after application. Biochar serves this function perfectly as do wood chips as, over time, they are converted to carbon stable humates. I've applied about eight tons of biochar on my property, and I'm now noticing major improvements. Biochar is not free, but wood chips typically are. I have applied 30 tons of chips and hope to double or triple that amount soon. Nitrogen sources like human urine can be a helpful approach to balance the mixture.
Gardening Helps You Get Grounded
There's another way that gardening may help your mood and brain health, and that is grounding. As detailed in the documentary film Grounded, the surface of the earth holds subtle health-boosting energy, and all you have to do to harness it is touch it. Walking barefoot on the earth transfers free electrons from the earth's surface into your body that then spread throughout your tissues.
Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and enhance your well-being. Monty Don, a TV presenter and garden writer, attributes the wellbeing of gardeners to the "recharging" you get from sticking your hands in the soil and spending time outdoors in nature.11 To maximize grounding while you're gardening, try doing so barefoot.
Are You Ready to Try Out Your Green Thumb?
Aside from increasing your sense of well-being and calm, keeping a garden can also improve your health by providing you with fresher, uncontaminated food; nutrient-dense food that is simply unavailable in your grocery store. It will also help you reduce your grocery bill. You don't need vast amounts of space either.
Even apartment dwellers can create a well-stocked edible garden. You can use virtually every square foot of your space to grow food, including your lateral space. Hanging baskets are ideal for a wide variety of crops, such as strawberries, leafy greens, runner beans, pea shoots, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. You can also grow sprouts like sunflower seeds and reap a harvest in 7-10 days.
And instead of flowers, window boxes can hold herbs, greens, radishes, scallions, bush beans, strawberries, chard, and chilies, for example. Just start small, and as you get the hang of it, add another container of something else. To learn more, please see my previous article on creating edible gardens in small spaces. Before you know it, large portions of your meals could come straight from your own edible garden. I recommend getting your feet wet by growing sprouts, which can be grown at any time of year. And with fall nearly upon us in the US, you can even create a winter garden.
Gardening Provides Many Health Benefits, Including Moderate to High Intensity Exercise
The Rise of Organic Gardening
By Dr. Mercola
Harm and death caused by medical errors are a huge problem, and a major reason why the current, fatally flawed medical paradigm is in such desperate need of transformation.
Preventable medical mistakes are actually the third leading cause of death in the US, right after heart disease and cancer, claiming the lives of 210,000 Americans each year.
When you add in diagnostic errors, errors of omission, and failure to follow guidelines, the number skyrockets to an estimated 440,000 preventable hospital deaths each year.
According to the most recent estimates published last year,1 preventable medical mistakes account for about one-sixth of all deaths that occur in the US annually. This is more than 4.5 times higher than 1999 estimates.2
When you consider instances where medical errors cause some form of harm but not necessarily death, the incidence rate may be as high as 40,000 per day!3
As a general rule, staying out of the hospital is one of your best ways to prevent dying unnecessarily, and this is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about sharing preventive health strategies with you -- tips like eating right, exercising, and reducing stress.
Exceptions would naturally include cases of accidental trauma or surgical emergencies. This is where modern medicine can be truly lifesaving.
Federal Government Ends Public Disclosure of Medical Errors
According to Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and author of the book Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Healthcare, eliminating medical errors must become a national priority.
But rather than tackling the issue, the US federal government has quietly decided to “solve” the problem by burying it and shielding it from scrutiny... USA Today4 recently reported that:
“The federal government this month quietly stopped publicly reporting when hospitals leave foreign objects in patients' bodies or make a host of other life-threatening mistakes.
The change, which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denied last year that it was making, means people are out of luck if they want to search which hospitals cause high rates of problems such as air embolisms... or giving people the wrong blood type.
CMS removed data on eight of these avoidable ‘hospital acquired conditions’ (HACs) on its hospital comparison site last summer but kept it on a public spreadsheet that could be accessed by quality researchers, patient-safety advocates and consumers savvy enough to translate it. As of this month, it's gone. Now researchers have to calculate their own rates using claims data.”
Low-Income Areas Are More Susceptible to Poor Medical Care Outcomes
Statistics show that some hospitals are far riskier than others, which is why removing data for certain avoidable hospital acquired conditions is a step in the wrong direction.
On the average, you have a 54 percent lower risk of dying in a five-star rated hospital compared to the national average. Hospitals catering primarily to Medicare patients tend to be among the worst.
According to HealthGrades,8 which provides quality ratings on nearly 5,000 American hospitals, more than 164,470 in hospital complications could potentially have been avoided had all Medicare recipients from 2008 through 2010 gone to top rated hospitals for their procedures.
A recent article in Endocrine Today9 notes that diabetics living in low income areas may be 10 times more likely to have their feet or legs amputated compared to diabetics living in more affluent areas.
According to Carl D. Stevens, MD, MPH, who investigated these correlations: “When you have diabetes, where you live directly relates to whether you’ll lose a limb to the disease.”
Hospital-Acquired Infections on the Rise
Hospitals have become particularly notorious for spreading lethal infections. In the United States, more than two million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections each year, and anywhere from 75,000 to 100,000 people die as a result. The most common hospital-acquired infections include:
- Central line-associated bloodstream infections
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
- Surgical site infections after surgery
- Clostridium difficile infections
Most of these cases could likely have been easily prevented with better infection control in hospitals—simple things such as doctors and nurses washing their hands between each patient, for example. Antibiotic overuse and inappropriate use also bears a heavy responsibility for creating this crisis. While antibiotics are certainly overprescribed in medicine, the largest source of antibiotic exposure is actually via your food.
Agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US. Tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics are administered to American livestock each year for purposes other than treating disease, such as making the animals grow bigger faster.
The antibiotic residues in meat and dairy, as well as the resistant bacteria, are then passed on to you in the foods you eat. As just one example, no less than 80 different antibiotics are allowed in cows’ milk. The CDC10 has previously concluded that as much as 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is in fact linked to food.
We’ve Shifted from Science Based Medicine to Science BIASED Medicine
How in the world did conventional medical treatments become one of the top three leading causes of death? A major part of the problem stems from the fact that we’ve made a rather dramatic shift AWAY from true science based medicine. Instead, what we have now is science biased medicine, and we’re reaping the results thereof.
John Ioannidis, author of the 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings are False”11, 12 published in PLoS Medicine, is one of the world's most important experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team of researchers have repeatedly shown that the majority of the conclusions biomedical researchers arrive at in their published studies are exaggerated or completely wrong.
Doctors use these studies—90 percent of which may be flawed or incorrect13—to prescribe drugs or recommend surgery. Is it any wonder then that American doctors kill at least 210,000 patients each year? With the odds stacked so sharply against a proper treatment, perhaps we’re lucky that the numbers aren’t even greater than that...
The Challenges of Science Bias
One of the first challenges you come across when trying to analyze the results of a study is to confirm that the study is free of any conflict of interest that would pervert the results and the meaning of the analysis. This means researching the author(s) of the study, its funders, and the motivations behind the design of the study. This is no easy task.
There’s also the problem of study findings being withheld and never published, simply because the results were not in favor of the treatment tested. The only real exception to this is researchers receiving grants from the federal government. They must register their trials on ClinicalTrials.gov, and they must publish their results regardless of the outcome.
Negative findings are just as critical as favorable findings. You may have twice as many negative findings as positive ones, but if only the positive ones (flawed or not) see the light of day, it will severely skew the overall “scientific basis” for the treatment. In essence, the treatment is based on scientific bias instead... Unfortunately, the vast majority of research is now being funded by industry, which has led to the systematic destruction of scientific integrity and validity.
Another factor that creates scientific bias is that the studies most likely to be published in the first place are those that oversell results that are considered important—results that oftentimes turn out to be false upon further investigation.14 Prestigious journals boast that they’re very selective, turning down the vast majority of submitted papers. The assumption is that they publish only the best scientific work. But Dr. Ioannidis' 2008 study, “Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science,”15 showed that out of the nearly 50 papers published in leading journals (studies that had been cited by more than 1,000 other scientists -- in other words, well-regarded research) almost a third were refuted by other studies within the span of a few years.
According to a 2013 paper published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings,16 reversals of recommendations based on new information are common across all classes of medical practice. Over the past decade alone, 146 previously established practices, treatments, and procedures have been reversed. The question is, are established treatments being replaced by seriously flawed, science biased ones? It seems likely that this is playing a very large role as to why the death toll from medical mistakes keeps climbing.
More Recent Evidence Showing a Strong Trend Toward Bias in Medical Research
In a recent article, Dr. Robert Pearl, MD brings up even more evidence showing that scientific bias is now par the course in modern medicine:17
- The 2012 report by the Cochrane Library, “Industry Sponsorship and Research Outcome,”18 concluded that industry-funded studies resulted in “more favorable results and conclusions” about the sponsored product compared to studies funded by independent parties.
- Earlier this year, Harvard Medical School published a study19 assessing the impact of conflicts of interest in plastic surgery. According to the authors: “Studies authored by groups with conflicts of interest are significantly associated with reporting lower surgical complications and therefore describing positive research findings.”
- Another recent study20 investigating the impact of conflicts of interest in wound therapy research also found that studies funded by a manufacturer were extraordinarily likely to be in favor of the sponsored product. The study looked at 24 peer-reviewed papers published in highly respected medical journals. Nineteen of them were funded by a manufacturer of one of two devices, and 18 of those manufacturer-funded studies ended up favoring the device made by the funding manufacturer; only one study came to a “neutral” conclusion.
As noted by Dr. Pearl:21 “From a statistical perspective, this is nearly an impossible outcome. Flip a coin 19 times and there’s a 1 in 524,288 chance it comes up heads each time. We might expect that if the two alternative products were relatively equivalent and the research truly unbiased, the product sold by the non-funding company should come out on top about half the time. To have no study go against the funding company yields nearly impossible odds. And if they are not equivalent, the better product should be identified in nearly all studies, regardless of the source of the researcher’s funding. There is no way to interpret these results, except to assume the researchers themselves were biased based on who paid for their work.”
The question is, how do we prevent this kind of bias from corrupting science? One solution is to shift the burden of financing research back onto the government. As noted by Dr. Pearl, adding a small fee to the sales price of drugs and medical devices could also be used to fund independent research. Another solution suggested in Dr. Pearl’s article could be for peer-reviewed journals to refuse to publish studies funded by one single company. By forcing competitors to fund joint research projects should theoretically promote more unbiased conclusions.
Hospitals Can Be Hazardous to Your Health in Multiple Ways
From my perspective, checking yourself into a hospital should be an option of last resort, when you have exhausted all others (barring an actual life-threatening emergency) and likely facing a potential fatal outcome if you don’t go into the hospital. Medical mistakes and potentially life-threatening infections are not the only risks you take when checking yourself into the hospital. They’re also notorious for giving you the wrong solution for your problem. Drugs and surgery, for example, are both widely overused options that can cause far more problems than they solve.
If a hospital stay is necessary, you would do well to heed the advice of Dr. Andrew Saul, co-author of the book Hospitals and Health: Your Orthomolecular Guide to a Shorter Hospital Stay.22 He suggests making sure you bring a personal advocate with you—a relative or friend who can speak up for you and ensure you’re given proper care if you are too incapacitated to do so yourself.
Help for Victims of Preventable Medical Errors
If you or a loved one find yourself a victim of a preventable medical mistake, you’re advised to start out by writing a letter or calling the patient relations department, which every hospital is mandated to have. If you’re still dissatisfied, write a letter to the hospital’s general council (attorney). You can also connect with patient communities such as:
Basic Tenets of Optimal Health
All in all, leading a common-sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to avoid unnecessary hospital visits. I believe there are certain basic tenets of optimal health that remain valid no matter what science decides to come up with next. Following these healthy lifestyle guidelines can go a very long way toward keeping you well and prevent chronic disease of all kinds:
- Proper Food Choices: For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods. Avoid sugar, and fructose in particular. All forms of sugar have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging. I believe the two primary keys for successful weight management are severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and increasing healthy fat consumption. This will optimize insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health.
- Regular exercise: To make your exercise as effective as possible, make sure you include high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength, and vigor. HGH also helps boost weight loss.
- Stress Reduction: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Meditation, prayer, social support, and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using simple tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden, emotional problems.
- Drink plenty of pure water
- Maintain a healthy gut: About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and research is stacking up showing that probiotics—beneficial bacteria—affect your health in a myriad of ways; it can even influence your ability to lose weight. Regularly consuming traditionally fermented foods is the easiest, most cost effective way to ensure optimal gut flora
- Optimize your vitamin D levels: Research has shown that increasing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk of death from ALL causes. Sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your level.
- Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Get plenty of high-quality sleep: Regularly catching only a few hours of sleep can hinder metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.
What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Healthcare
How Doctors Do Harm
By Dr. Mercola
Dust mites, animal dander, molds, and pollen are among the most common environmental triggers of asthma attacks and allergy symptoms. For some, however, a spring or summer thunderstorm may lead to a flare-up of symptoms.
Research shows an association between thunderstorm activity and worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms; one study found a 3 percent increase in emergency-room visits for asthma attacks in the 24 hours following thunderstorms.1 As the researchers explained:
"While a three percent increase in risk may seem modest, asthma is quite prevalent… and a modest relative increase could have a significant public health impact in the population."
What Causes Thunderstorm Asthma?
The phenomenon, known as "thunderstorm asthma," isn't so much an issue of people being allergic to rain. Instead, thunderstorms form the "perfect storm," literally, of circumstances to increase breathing difficulties. Researchers wrote in the journal Thorax:2
"The most prominent hypotheses explaining the associations are that pollen grains rupture by osmotic shock in rainwater, releasing allergens, and that gusty winds from thunderstorm downdrafts spread particles and/or aeroallergens, which may ultimately increase the risk of asthma attacks."
In other words, pollen and mold particles that may otherwise be too big to get into your lungs (and instead tend to cause mostly nose-related symptoms) suddenly become broken up by a thunderstorm. This allows entrance into the lungs, potentially leading to an asthmatic reaction, even in some people who have never had asthma before.
It's also been suggested that storms' electrical charge makes tiny pollen and mold particles stickier, increasing the likelihood that they'll cause trouble in your lungs once inhaled.3 As written in Current Allergy and Asthma Reports:4
"The weather system of a mature thunderstorm likely entrains grass pollen into the cloud base, where pollen rupture would be enhanced, then transports the respirable-sized fragments of pollen debris to ground level where outflows distribute them ahead of the rain.
The conditions occurring at the onset of a thunderstorm might expose susceptible people to a rapid increase in concentrations of pollen allergens in the air that can readily deposit in the lower airways and initiate asthmatic reactions."
So what can you do? Pay attention to weather reports, especially if you've experienced thunderstorm asthma before. Although the condition is relatively uncommon, it's known to strike without warning, so if a thunderstorm is coming, stay indoors and close up your windows to avoid unnecessary exposure to ruptured pollen grains.
Your Mind May Trigger Asthma Symptoms
If it seems surprising that a thunderstorm would trigger asthma and allergy symptoms, then you'll probably be shocked to learn that your mind may do so, too.
In one recent study, asthmatics were exposed to a harmless odor (phenylethyl alcohol, a rosy, pure scent that has no known harmful properties). One group was told the odor was therapeutic while a second group was told the odor might cause respiratory issues.
There were marked differences in how the two groups reacted to the scent, with those who believed the odor was harmful experiencing significantly more airway inflammation. Furthermore, the elevated levels of inflammation stayed that way for 24 hours, which in turn might increase sensitivity to other asthma triggers, resulting in a negative cascade effect.5
Meanwhile, the group who was told the odor was therapeutic had no increase in airway inflammation, even among those who said they were highly sensitive to many odors.
Considering that strong odors, including perfumes, deodorants, cleaning supplies, scented candles, hair spray, personal care products, and more, are widely publicized as potential asthma triggers, could it be that asthmatics' expectation of harm when exposed to these scents is part of the problem?
The study's lead author, Cristina Jaén, Ph.D., noted,6 "It's not just what you smell, but also what you think you smell." The study suggests that managing fear and anxiety about asthma triggers may help to improve your symptoms. This isn't as far-fetched as it may initially seem, as strong emotions are a recognized asthma trigger that may lead to rapid breathing and more.7 This includes:
- Laughing or crying too hard
- Feeling stressed or anxious
The helps explain why the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been demonstrated to be helpful in about 80 percent of asthma cases. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles.
You can use EFT directed toward your asthma symptoms or to help relieve emotional trauma that may be causing you chronic stress. You can also use it to eliminate phobias you may have about certain triggers causing you an asthma attack.
Tapping with EFT has been shown to alter conditioned responses, such that, if you've become conditioned to experience asthma symptoms in response to various triggers, it might help you to break free.
Got Asthma? Try Buteyko Breathing
There are many natural strategies for treating asthma, which I review in the video above. One that you may not have heard of is a simple technique called The Buteyko Breathing Method—named after the Russian physician who developed the technique--which can help restore normal breathing patterns, improve the delivery of oxygen to tissues and organs, increase the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood, and radically improve your overall health and fitness.
Asthmatics typically breathe through the mouth. They also tend to breathe heavier and have a higher respiratory rate than non-asthmatics. According to Patrick McKeown, who is one of the top teachers of the Buteyko Method in the world, there's a feedback loop, in that the heavier breathing volume that's coming into your lungs cause a disturbance of blood gasses, including the loss of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide is not merely a waste gas. Although you breathe to get rid of excess CO2, it's very important that your breathing volume is normal, in order to maintain a certain amount of CO2 in your lungs.The heavier you breathe, the less oxygen that's actually delivered throughout your body due to lack of carbon dioxide, which causes your blood vessels to constrict.
The Buteyko Method teaches you how to bring your breathing volume back toward normal or, in other words, to reverse chronic hyperventilation or chronic overbreathing. When your breathing is normal, you have better oxygenation of tissues and organs.
Exposing Babies to Dust Mites, Pet Dander, and Other Allergens May Reduce Asthma and Allergy Risk
A child raised in an environment devoid of dirt and germs, and who is given antibiotics that kill off all of the bacteria in his gut, is not able to build up natural resistance to disease, and becomes vulnerable to illnesses later in life. This theory, known as the hygiene hypothesis, is likely one reason why many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled in the last few decades, and now new research is further backing it up. One study, presented at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, exposed babies to oral dust-mite drops twice a day from the age of 6 months to 18 months.8
Dust mites are one of the most common allergens in the US and the UK, and are a common trigger for asthma symptoms as well. Remarkably, the dust-mite exposure reduced the incidence of allergy by 63 percent, and this was among infants at high risk of allergy (they had a history of allergy in both parents). Among the infants exposed to dust mites, only 9.4 percent developed allergy to dust mites or other allergens, compared to more than 25 percent in the placebo group.
In a separate study, researchers found that urban babies exposed to cockroach, mouse, and cat allergens (via house dust), as well as to certain types of bacteria, during their first year of life were less likely to suffer from wheezing and allergies at the age of 3.9 In fact, wheezing was three times more common among children who grew up in homes without allergen exposure. Dr. Todd Mahr, an allergist-immunologist and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Section on Allergy & Immunology, told WebMD:10 "The environment appears to play a role, and if you have too clean of an environment the child's immune system is not going to be stimulated."
Why Does Your Immune System Need Dirt to Stay Healthy?
Your immune system is composed of two main groupst's not just what you sm that work together to protect you. One part of your immune system deploys specialized white blood cells called Th1 lymphocytes, which direct an assault on infected cells throughout your body. The other major part of your immune system attacks intruders even earlier. It produces antibodies that try to block dangerous microbes from invading your body's cells in the first place. This latter strategy uses a different variety of white blood cells, called Th2 lymphocytes. The Th2 system also happens to drive allergic responses to foreign organisms.
At birth, an infant's immune system appears to rely primarily on the Th2 system, while waiting for the Th1 system to grow stronger. But the hygiene hypothesis suggests that the Th1 system can grow stronger only if it gets "exercise," either through fighting infections or through encounters with certain harmless microbes. Without such stimulation, the Th2 system flourishes and the immune system tends to react with allergic responses more easily.
In other words, the hygiene hypothesis posits that children and adults not being exposed to viruses and other environmental factors like dirt, germs, parasites, and even certain viruses results in their not being able to build up resistance, which makes them more vulnerable to illnesses. In addition to allergies and asthma, eczema, autoimmune diseases, and even heart disease11 have been associated with the hygiene hypotheses. Fortunately, it's easy to avoid being "too clean," and in turn help bolster your body's natural immune responses. Try:
- Letting your child get dirty. Allow your kids to play outside and get dirty (and realize that if your kid eats boogers, it isn't the end of the world).
- Not using antibacterial soaps and other antibacterial household products, which wipe out the microorganisms that your body needs to be exposed to for developing and maintaining proper immune function. Simple soap and water are all you need when washing your hands. The antibacterial chemicals (typically triclosan) are quite toxic and have even been found to promote the growth of resistant bacteria.
- Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics. Remember that viral infections are impervious to antibiotics, as antibiotics only work on bacterial infections.
- Serving locally grown or organic meats that do not contain antibiotics.
- Educating yourself on the differences between natural and artificial immunity, and making informed decisions about the use of vaccinations.
Sure-Fire Strategies to Help Asthma Naturally...
Ginger May Benefit Patients with Asthma
By Dr. Mercola
One of the “benefits” of genetically modified (GM) crops is supposed to be a significant reduction in the use of chemicals, such as highly toxic herbicides and pesticides.
The idea, theoretically anyhow, was that herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant plants, which make up the majority of GM crops, would make it easier to kill weeds and diminish crop loss to harmful pests.
They would require farmers to use far less chemicals to control weeds and pests, so the pesticide companies, like Monsanto, assured us. In practice, however, this “promise” has been consistently broken.
In 2012, research showed that GM crops have led to a 404-million pound increase in overall pesticide use from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011. This equates to an increase of about 7 percent per year.
The excessive use of agrichemicals by farmers has now, in turn, led to herbicide resistance, both in weeds and pests, leaving farmers to struggle with an increasingly difficult situation. More than two dozen weed species are now resistant to glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup.
But instead of getting to the bottom of the weed-resistance problem, which is the GM crops at its foundation, US regulators are adding fuel to the fire and getting ready to approve more GM crops that, ironically, call for even more use of herbicides…
New GM Crops Target Weed Resistance with More Herbicides
In a draft "environmental impact statement" (EIS), the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has recommended that Monsanto’s new GM cotton and soybean plants should be approved.1
The so-called "Roundup Ready Xtend” crops are resistant to both glyphosate and the herbicide dicamba. Since millions of acres of weeds are now resistant to glyphosate, farmers will be able to douse crops with both glyphosate and dicamba. APHIS also issued a final EIS for Dow AgroSciences’ GM “Enlist” corn and soybeans, which are resistant to glyphosate and 2,4-D.
Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, has already found rapidly increasing weed resistance is driving up the volume of herbicide needed by about 25 percent annually.
The new approvals could drive it up by another 50 percent, according to research published in Environmental Sciences Europe:2
"Contrary to often-repeated claims that today's genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.
If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50 percent.
The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
The final decision won’t be made until after a 30-day public review period, but it unfortunately seems the die has been cast. The approvals would come despite intense opposition from consumer, environmental, and farmer groups, which have voiced valid concerns that the increased use of herbicides on the GM crops will only lead to increasing weed resistance in the long run.
Even APHIS acknowledged that Monsanto’s Xtend crops could increase the chance of dicamba-resistant weeds.3 Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network North America, told Reuters:4
"We are outraged… Despite all of this public outcry, what these decisions show is that USDA is much more interested in working with Dow and Monsanto and getting their products to market than in protecting the public."
GM Crops Are Not ‘Substantially Equivalent’ to Non-GM Crops
From a regulatory perspective, GM crops are considered “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This means, in essence, that they are essentially the same, with no meaningful differences for your health or the environment.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has (so far) not required labeling of GM foods because they are deemed to be “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. It is also due to substantial equivalence that no oversight or long-term safety testing has been required of GM crops. Monsanto put it this way:5
“As long as the introduced gene protein is determined safe (an initial step in the safety assessment) and the GM and non-GM crops are alike in all respects, the GM crop is said to be substantially equivalent, or ‘equal to,’ their conventional counterparts and are not expected to pose any health risks.
Experts in the field of food safety are satisfied that this approach is sufficient and reliable to assure the GM crops are as safe [as] their conventional counterparts. This expert community does not see a need and thus does not recommend long-term tests in humans in order to establish food safety.”
The problem with this approach? GM crops are not substantially equivalent to non-GM crops. As evidenced by a recent study published in Food Chemistry, there are marked differences between the two types of crops in terms of herbicide residues and nutritional quality.6
For instance glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and AMPA (aminomethylphosponic acid, the major degradation product of glyphosate).
On average, GM soy contained 11.9 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate, although the highest residue level found was 20.1 ppm. Meanwhile, no residues were found in conventional non-GM or organic varieties. (Similar results were found in a 2012 nutritional analysis of GM corn, which was found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to none in non-GM corn.)
Nutritionally speaking, the authors wrote that “soybeans from different agricultural practices differ in nutritional quality” and “organic soybeans showed a more healthy nutritional profile than other soybeans.”
Organic soybeans contained higher levels of protein and zinc and lower levels of omega-6. The 2012 analysis similarly found non-GM corn to be far more nutritious, with 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GM corn. The authors concluded: “This study rejects that GM soy is ‘substantially equivalent’ to non-GM soybeans.”
What’s the Big Deal About Glyphosate Residues in Your Food?
Glyphosate residues in the amount of “parts per million” might not seem like such a big issue, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While Monsanto insists that Roundup is safe, a peer-reviewed report authored by Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant, and a long-time contributor to the Mercola.com Vital Votes Forum, and Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), reveals how glyphosate wrecks human health.7
They argue that glyphosate residues, found in most commonly consumed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GM sugar, corn, soy, and wheat, “enhance the damaging effects of other foodborne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.” Interestingly, your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate’s primary mechanism of harm.
Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway IS present in bacteria, and that’s one key to understanding how it causes such widespread systemic harm in both humans and animals.
Now, with the impending approval of the new GM crops, you’re going to see increased exposure to even more herbicide residues, including the highly toxic dicamba and 2,4-D. If you eat processed foods, most of which are made with GM corn and soy ingredients, you’re consuming glyphosate residues, and will then be exposed to the forthcoming dicamba and 2,4-D residues as well, probably in each and every bite. Knowing this, and the fact that tests show people in 18 countries across Europe already have glyphosate in their bodies,8 this should leave you very, very concerned…
Heirloom Seed Library Shut Down by Feds to Stop Agri-Terrorism
While the US Department of Agriculture has been busying itself with approving Monsanto and Dow’s latest GM profit centers, it hasn’t been too busy to do a bit of competition clearing for its pet companies. The Cumberland County Library System in Pennsylvania set up a “seed library” at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library earlier this year. Locals could borrow heirloom seeds for the growing season and then replace them at the end of the year. The library thought the system would encourage “residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring self-sufficiency skills.”9
All was well in the community… until the US Department of Agriculture sent a letter telling them they were violating the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds. For good measure, the USDA also sent in a high-ranking official and lawyers to meet with the library. As Global Research reported, the USDA was only doing their job, stopping possible “agri-terrorism” at the hands of community residents planting heirloom tomatoes…
“Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down. Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, ‘continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.’
Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of ‘agri-terrorism.’... While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.” 10
The Great Boycott Is Here
The insanity has gone far enough. It’s time to unite and fight back, which is why I encourage you to vote with your wallet and boycott every single product owned by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights.
This is just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo. This includes both natural and organic brands. You can start by using the list in the table below. The recent GM labeling victories in Vermont and Oregon clearly show that you have the power to incite great change. In this case, you can help change the food system by taking decisive action with your food dollars.
"We flood their Facebook pages, tarnish their brand names. We pressure financial institutions, pension funds and mutual funds to divest from Monsanto and the other GMA companies. Our motto for Monsanto and GMA products must become: Don't buy them. Don't sell them. Don't grow them. And don't let your financial institution, university, church, labor union or pension fund invest in them," Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) writes.11
"As soon as the GMA files a lawsuit against Vermont, the Organic Consumers Association, joined by a growing coalition of public interest groups, will launch a boycott and divestment campaign directed against all of the 300 GMA companies and their thousands of brand name products—including foods, beverages, seeds, home and garden supplies, pet food, herbicides and pesticides."
So far, between 2012 and 2014, Monsanto and the GMA have successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million! These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food industries. Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics. As noted by Ronnie Cummins:
"Until now the GMA colossus has ruled, not only in Washington DC, but in all 50 states. But now that Vermont has passed a trigger-free GMO labeling law, and Oregon is poised to do the same in November, the balance of power has shifted. Monsanto, the GMA and their allies are in panic mode. Because they know that when companies are forced to label or remove GMOs, and also are forced to drop the fraudulent practice of labeling GE-tainted foods as 'natural' or 'all natural,' in one state, they will have to do it in every state. Just as they've been forced to do in Europe, where mandatory GMO labeling has been in effect since 1997."
Are You Supporting Those Who Have Repeatedly Taken a Stand Against Your Health and Right to Know?
To defeat the GMA lawsuit against Vermont, money must be raised for legal assistance to the state. We must also intensify any and all efforts to educate others and put pressure on the marketplace to quell the GMAs radical power grabs. To this end, please make a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund today.
Other ways you can help is by refusing to invest in GMA member companies—even if indirectly through retirement and mutual funds. With enough pressure, we can pressure institutional investors like Fidelity, Vanguard, and State Street to dump the stocks they have in these companies. Moreover, we need to boycott ALL of the 300 companies who are still members of the GMA. Combined, they produce more than 6,000 brand name products, and all of these products are on the boycott list. This includes:
Foods Beverages Seeds Home and garden supplies Pet foods Herbicides and pesticides for home and professional use
This may seem as a monstrously difficult task... but if we work together and individually make an effort, collectively we can do it. There are 400 million Americans, and each person makes multiple purchasing and investment decisions each and every day of the year. Every action you take from here on counts. Pro-organic consumer groups will also launch programs placing emphasis on boycotting "Traitor Brands," meaning natural and organic brands that are actually owned by members of the pro-GMO GMA. As noted by Cummins:
"Health-conscious and green-minded consumers often inadvertently support the GMA when they buy brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Odwalla and others whose parent companies, all members of the GMA, have donated millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California (Prop 37) and Washington State (I-522)."
As a sign of solidarity, please sign the Boycott Pledge now.
While I cannot list all of them here, some of the 50 "natural" and/or organic Traitor Brands targeted by this boycott include those listed below. The reason for not focusing the boycott on the conventional parent companies is because pro-organic health-conscious consumers rarely buy Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi, or sugary breakfast cereals to begin with. The only way to really put pressure on these parent companies is by avoiding the brands they market to organic consumers – the brands you actually typically buy.
"Let's be clear. Junk Food and beverage companies who are members of the GMA are gobbling up organic and 'natural' brands because they recognize the huge profit potential in the fast-growing organic and natural markets. They want our business. If we stop buying their brands, they know there's a good chance we'll find alternative brands. And we might never look back," Cummins writes.
Natural/Organic Traitor Brand Owned By/Parent Company IZZE PepsiCo Naked Juice PepsiCo Simply Frito-Lay PepsiCo Starbucks Frappuccino PepsiCo Honest Tea Coca-Cola Odwalla Coca-Cola Gerber Organic Nestle Sweet Leaf tea Nestle Boca Burgers Kraft/Mondelez Green and Black's Kraft/Mondelez Cascadian Farm General Mills Larabar General Mills Muir Glen General Mills Alexia ConAgra Pam organic cooking sprays ConAgra Bear Naked Kelloggs Gardenburger Kelloggs Kashi Kelloggs Morningstar Farms Kelloggs Plum Organics Campbells Wolfgang Puck organic soups Campbells RW Knudsen Smuckers Santa Cruz Organic Smuckers Smuckers Organic Smuckers Dagoba Hersheys Earthgrain bread Bimbo Bakeries Simply Asia McCormick Thai Kitchen McCormick
Nine Additional Ways to Take Your Power Back
In addition to not buying Traitor Brand foods or beverages (even if they're certified organic), here are nine ways you can take power back from the corporate bullies that make up the Grocery Manufacturers Association:
- Stop buying all non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocados, organic pastured meat, dairy, and eggs, and raw nuts
- Buy most of your foods from your local farmer's market and/or organic farm
- Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
- Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch, local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants (Chipotlé is a rare exception), use processed foods made by GMA members for their meals
- Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles
- Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are "OMRI Approved," which means they are allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they're using OMRI Approved products as well
- Become an avid label reader. If a GMA member company owns the product, no matter what it is, don't buy it
- Download the Buycott app for your smartphone, which allows you to scan products to find out if they're part of the boycott before you buy them
- Join the Organic Consumers Association's new campaign, "Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know"
To learn more about this boycott, and the traitor brands that are included, please visit TheBoycottList.org. I also encourage you to donate to the Organic Consumers Fund. Your donation will help fight the GMA lawsuit in Vermont, and also help win the GMO labeling ballot initiative in Oregon in November.
Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference. By boycotting GMA member Traitor Brands, you can help level the playing field, and help take back control of our food supply. And as always, continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and share what you’ve learned with family and friends.
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