By Dr. Mercola
In 1986, California passed a ballot initiative called Proposition 65, which required consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Rather than label their products sold in California as likely carcinogenic, most companies reformulated their product ingredients so as to avoid warning labels altogether, and most did this on a national scale, not just in California, to avoid carrying a separate inventory of products.
After it was revealed that a common additive known as “caramel coloring” on labels, or 4-methylimidazole (4-MI) scientifically, used in many sodas may cause cancer, soda bigwigs Coke and Pepsi announced that they would reformulate their caramel coloring in order to avoid adding a cancer warning label to their products in California.
But did they really?
Pepsi Products Outside of California Still Contain Carcinogenic Caramel Coloring
It’s been more than a year since Coke and Pepsi declared they would be reformulating their products to remove 4-MI in their caramel coloring.
This artificial brown color is made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressures and at high temperatures. This produces the chemicals 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, which have been found to cause lung, liver and thyroid cancer in lab rats and mice.
However, when the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) tested samples of Coke and Pepsi products from California and other states for 4-MI, they found marked discrepancies in the Pepsi products:
“If you live in California, Coke and Pepsi products are made without 4-MI, a chemical known to cause cancer. But in testing of cola products from ten states, CEH found high levels of 4-MI in ALL Pepsi cola products, while 9 out of ten Coke products were found without 4-MI problems.”1
Pepsi responded to CEH’s findings by stating they plan to remove the chemical for the rest of the US by February 2014 and are also planning to remove the chemical globally. Still, CEH’s executive director called Pepsi’s delay “inexplicable” and urged the company to “take swift action” to provide the same safer product that’s being sold in California to all Americans.2
It’s Not Unusual for Food Manufacturers to Use Toxic Chemicals in Markets Where They Can Get Away with It…
This is but one example of a product being forced to clean up its act in one region, but allowed to continue being sold with known toxic ingredients in less-strict regions. The product manufacturers rarely make moves to improve product safety on their own, doing so only when bad press or the threat of a cancer warning forces their hand.
Case in point, a list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for US foods recently made the news and included various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominated flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST, and arsenic.
For clear examples, take a look at a recent article on 100DaysOfRealFood.com.3 In it, author Vani Hari shows the ingredient labels of several common foods sold in the US and the UK, such as Betty Crocker’s Red Velvet cake mix, McDonald’s French fries, and Pizza Hut’s garlic cheese bread.
Amazingly, while these foods can be created using a bare minimum of additives in the UK (and sometimes none), in the US they’re absolutely LOADED with chemicals.
The same premise goes for the Pepsi being sold in California, which right now contains fewer toxic chemicals than Pepsi being sold in other parts of the US. The difference in this case, however, is that it’s likely only a matter of time before the rest of Pepsi’s products catch up to the California standard, as even though Prop 65 only applies to one state, it typically has a national impact.
Soda Is Still Toxic Even If 4-MI Is Removed…
The more unhealthful chemicals removed from the market, the better, of course. But please don’t take the removal of 4-MI from Coke and Pepsi to mean that it is somehow a safe or healthy beverage.
There’s nothing healthy or natural about soda, even if it one day contains a ‘safe’ form of caramel coloring. Drinking soda is in many ways worse for you than smoking, and it is only because of massive marketing campaigns from the industry that these sugary beverages are deemed so acceptable. The primary reason why soda is so dangerous to your health?
The fructose content of the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used in many popular soda brands has been grossly underestimated. Around 100 years ago the average American consumed a mere 15 grams of fructose a day, primarily in the form of fruit, not industrially produced isolate, which is infinitely different on a physiological level. One hundred years later, one-fourth of Americans are consuming more than 135 grams per day, largely in the form of soda.
Fructose at 15 grams a day or less is generally harmless (unless you suffer from high uric acid levels). However, at nearly 10 times that amount it becomes a major contributor to obesity and nearly all chronic degenerative diseases. Instead of consisting of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, many soda brands, including Coke, Pepsi and Sprite, contain as much as 65 percent fructose, nearly 20 percent higher than originally believed.4 Thanks to the excellent work of researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr. Richard Johnson, we now know that fructose:
- Is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat
- Tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body's appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone"), doesn’t drive glucose into the cell to create satiety, and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone"), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
- Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure — i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
- Over time leads to insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.
- Leads to a dopamine- and opioid-mediated hedonistic syndrome, which causes an insatiable desire to consume more of the same, despite the broad range of adverse, even life-threatening, health effects caused by excessive fructose consumption.
Diet Sodas Are EVEN Worse!
You may be thinking you can avoid many of the pitfalls of soda by switching to diet varieties, but the artificial sweeteners they contain are in many ways worse than fructose.
People who drink diet soft drinks daily may be 43 percent more likely to suffer from a vascular event, including a stroke or heart attack, for instance.5 Diet soda has also been linked to weight gain. In one study, diet-soda drinkers’ waists grew 70 percent larger than the waists of non-diet soda drinkers. Furthermore, those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had a 500 percent greater increase in waist size!6
Still other research revealed that mice eating food laced with the artificial sweetener aspartame (commonly used to sweeten diet soda) had higher blood sugar levels than mice eating food without it, which suggests it may increase your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.7 Plus, whether diet or regular, most soda contains many of the following toxic elements:
High fructose corn syrup: Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat!
The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
Fructose also interferes with your brain’s communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
Benzene. While the federal limit for benzene in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb), researchers have found benzene levels as high as 79 ppb in some soft drinks, and of 100 brands tested, most had at least some detectable level of benzene present. About 150 empty calories, most of which will turn into fat. Phosphoric acid, which can interfere with your body's ability to use calcium, leading to osteoporosis or softening of your teeth and bones. Between 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, which can cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, and perhaps some forms of cancer. Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy/seizures. Artificial food colors, including the caramel coloring discussed above, which has been found to cause lung, liver and thyroid cancer in lab rats and mice. Tap water: I recommend that everyone avoid drinking unfiltered tap water because it can carry any number of chemicals including chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, cadmium, and various organic pollutants. Tap water is the main ingredient in bottled soft drinks. Sulfites. People who are sulfite sensitive can experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death. Sodium benzoate, a common preservative found in many soft drinks, which can cause DNA damage. This could eventually lead to diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's.
Do You Want to Kick Your Soda Habit?
Sparkling mineral water spruced up with fresh lemon or lime juice, a drop or two of natural peppermint extract, liquid stevia, cucumber slices or a few crushed mint leaves is a refreshing, healthy alternative to soda. There is also the traditional cultured beverage Kombucha, which offers a refreshing, fizzling soda alternative while also packing a health-promoting probiotic punch. If you need help beating your soda cravings, try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and particularly Turbo Tapping, for an effective solution. If it’s the energy boost from caffeine- and sugar-laden soda that you’re after, there are a number of ways to give your body lasting energy that don’t involve consuming ingredients that may harm your health. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet with limited sugar, fructose and processed foods, and increasing your intake of animal-sourced omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. krill, wild salmon, free-range eggs, to support your energy levels. See my nutrition plan for a naturally energy-enhancing diet.
- Releasing draining emotional stress and negativity with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
- Sleeping when you’re tired, and make sure you’re getting high-quality sleep while you’re at it
- Exercising, and be sure to include high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness for near endless energy
- If you need a supplement, do the above steps first and then try options that are designed to increase your level of foundational energy at the mitochondrial level, such as vitamin B12, ubiquinol and magnesium
Do the Chemicals That Turn Soda Brown Also Cause Cancer?
These 150 Calories Go Straight to Your Bulging Belly - at the Rate of 1 Pound per Week...
By Dr. Mercola
It seems like everywhere you look on food shelves today, from the baby food aisle to the dairy case, just about everything is fortified with iron.
But is that really a good thing?
When most people think about dietary iron, they wonder if they're getting enough. This is an important consideration, but research shows you're more likely to have too much iron than not enough – and this can pose serious risks to your health.
Excess Iron Far More Common Than Iron Deficiency
Iron is essential for virtually every life form, including humans, where it is a key part of various proteins and enzymes, involved in the transport of oxygen and the regulation of cell growth and differentiation, among many other uses.
One of the most important roles of iron is to provide hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells) a mechanism through which it can bind to oxygen and carry it throughout your tissues, as without proper oxygenation your cells quickly start dying.
If you have too little iron, you may experience fatigue, decreased immunity or iron-deficiency anemia, which can be serious if left untreated.
However, if you have more iron than your body needs to satisfy your hemoglobin requirement (for cell oxygenation), the excess becomes a dangerous surplus. This is an issue that deserves attention, as research examining iron levels in Americans shows that more people have iron levels that are considered too high, than levels that are deficient. In one study of more than 1,000 people, only 3 percent were iron deficient, but 13 percent had iron overload.1
What are the Health Risks of Too Much Iron?
Your body has a limited capacity to excrete iron, which means it can easily build up in organs like your liver, heart and pancreas. This is dangerous because iron is a potent oxidizer and can damage your body tissues contributing to serious health issues, including:
- Liver cancer
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Alzheimer's disease
- Bacterial and viral infections
Regarding Alzheimer's, high iron levels in your blood can lead to the production of free radicals that can damage neurons in your brain. It's also believed that iron accumulates at high levels, and is extremely reactive, in the beta-amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
Iron is also known to accumulate specifically in brain regions associated with memory and thought processes, which are gradually lost as Alzheimer's progresses. Research has shown that reducing excess iron in your brain can alleviate Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice,2 while measuring brain iron has been suggested as a way to detect Alzheimer's disease in its early stages.3
How Iron Levels and a Faulty Gene Can Cause Bowel Cancer
Cancer researchers have also found new evidence that bowel cancers are two to three times more likely to develop when dietary iron is too high in your body.4 The research was done with mice, but the study's authors said it can potentially help them find effective ways of reducing the odds of developing bowel cancer in those who are at high risk.
The role of the APC gene is this: when it's faulty or deleted, two proteins that trigger iron build-up in bowel cells get switched on. As the iron builds up, it activates a cell-to-cell signaling pathway that malfunctions in cancer called Wnt, which stimulates cancer cells grow uncontrollably. Dr. Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK said:5
"Finding ways of 'mopping up' the iron that is in the bowel could have a real impact on the number of people who develop the disease."
In the featured study, mice with a faulty APC gene that were fed a high-iron diet had a significantly greater risk of developing bowel cancer compared to mice with a working APC gene. Mice with a faulty APC fed a low-iron diet did not have an increased risk.
Who is at Risk of Iron Excess?
One of the best ways you can get rid of excess iron is by bleeding. As a result, most premenopausal women who are menstruating regularly rarely suffer from iron overload. However, most adult men and postmenopausal women tend to be at a high risk for iron overload and all of its toxicity, as they don't have this monthly blood loss.
Some people also have a genetic predisposition to absorbing too much iron, which is called either hemochromatosis or hemosiderosis. Interestingly, one of the most common causes of excess iron is the regular consumption of alcohol. Alcohol consumed on a regular basis will increase the absorption of any iron in your diet. For instance, if you drink some wine with your steak, you will likely be absorbing more iron than you need. Other potential causes of high iron levels include:
- Cooking in iron pots or pans. Cooking acidic foods in these types of pots or pans will cause even higher levels of iron absorption.
- Eating processed food products like cereals and white breads that are "fortified' with iron. The iron they use in these products is inorganic iron not much different than rust and it is far more dangerous than the iron in meat.
- Drinking well water that is high in iron. The key here is to make sure you have some type of iron precipitator and/or a reverse osmosis water filter.
- Taking multiple vitamins and mineral supplements, as both of these frequently have iron in them.
Fortunately, checking your iron levels is easy and can be done with a simple blood test called a serum ferritin test. I believe this is one of the most important tests that everyone should have done on a regular basis as part of a preventive, proactive health screen. The test measures the carrier molecule of iron, a protein found inside cells called ferritin, which stores the iron. If your ferritin levels are low it means your iron levels are also low.
The healthy range of serum ferritin lies between 20 and 80 ng/ml. Below 20 is a strong indicator that you are iron deficient, and above 80 suggests you have an iron surplus. The ideal range is between 40-60 ng/ml. The higher the number over 100 the worse the iron overload, with levels over 300 being particularly toxic and will eventually cause serious damage in nearly everyone that sustains those levels long term.
Tips for Getting Rid of Excess Iron
If your iron levels turn out to be high, what can you do?
Some people advise using iron chelators like phytic acid or IP6, but I don't think that is a wise approach, as donating your blood is a far safer, more effective and inexpensive approach for this problem. If, for some reason, a blood donor center is unable to accept your blood for donation you can obtain a prescription for therapeutic phlebotomy. At the same time, you will want to be sure to avoid consuming excess iron in the form of supplements, in your drinking water (well water), from iron cookware, or in fortified processed foods.
- Certain phenolic-rich herbs and spices, such as green tea and rosemary,5 can reduce iron absorption6
- Curcumin actually acts as an iron chelator, and in mice studies, diets supplemented with this spice extract exhibited a decline in levels of ferritin in the liver7
- Astaxanthin, which has been researched to have over 100 potential health benefits, has been shown to reduce iron-induced oxidative damage8
Little-Known Secrets about Optimal Iron Levels
Anemia Drug Made Billions but at What Cost?
By Dr. Mercola
Commercial cleaning products, even "green" ones like Simple Green, clean faster than soap and water can. But this is because they contain small amounts of the most powerful grease-cutting class of chemicals known -- glycol ethers.
Overexposure to glycol ethers can cause anemia, intoxication, and irritation of the eyes and nose.
In laboratory animals, low-level exposure to glycol ethers has caused birth defects and damage to sperm and testicles. The most commonly used glycol ether, 2-butoxyethanol, has been shown to cause liver cancer in animals. AlterNet reports:
"You are exposed to the glycol ethers when you inhale them as the cleaner is used ... Most glycol ethers can silently penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream ... If that were not enough, the glycol ethers also go through natural rubber gloves and many types of plastic gloves without changing their appearance."
The typical American home contains 3-10 gallons of toxic materials, in the form of about 60 different kinds of hazardous household cleaning products. That's right, the very things you use to clean your house are actually the primary sources of toxins and indoor air pollution that Americans expose themselves to year after year. And many of the new "green" alternatives now being offered by major corporations are only green in name, as you will soon discover.
The Cost of Cleaning Your Home
Having a clean home should never cost you something as valuable as your health, but that's exactly what you're putting at risk when you use household cleaners and laundry detergents filled with many of the hazardous chemicals on the market today.
The problem is, when the chemicals in these common household products hit your skin and lungs, they go directly into your bloodstream, bypassing your body's natural defense system against toxins (the liver and kidneys).
This type of indoor pollution is particularly harmful to your health because just one application of a typical household cleaner can leave dangerous chemicals lingering in your indoor air for hours at a time. For people who spend a large amount of their day indoors, this can amount to a frequent chemical attacks on your lungs.
So, which Ingredients are Toxic?
Some of the ingredients in common household cleaners, laundry detergents, and even "green" cleaners that can create a toxic indoor environment include:
- Glycol ethers ? Widespread use in paints, perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and foods. Cause fatigue, lethargy, nausea, and possible liver and kidney damage.
- Phthalates ? Cause reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, cancer, organ damage.
- Perfumes ? Cause headaches, sinus problems, asthma, may cause intoxication and "addiction."
- Phosphates - Manufacturers have reduced eliminated phosphates from laundry products, but no action has ever been taken on dishwasher detergents. Causes widespread environmental damage.
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), a common ingredient in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe, and known to be a potent endocrine disrupter. It's already thought to be the cause of male fish transforming into females in waterways around the world!
- Formaldehyde, found in spray and wick deodorizers, is a suspected carcinogen.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including 1,4-dichlorobenzene ? Cause nose and throat irritation, dizziness, asthma.
- Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners may damage mucous membranes.
- Butyl cellosolve, found in many all-purpose and window cleaners. May damage your kidneys, bone marrow, liver and nervous system.
- Ammonia ? irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.
- Chlorine ? irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.
- Ethanolamines ? irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - skin irritant, eye irritant, potential cancer causer.
Why "Green" Cleaning Products May NOT Necessarily be Green!
As more and more consumers are learning about the dangers of the products they use in their homes, "green" environmentally friendly options have sparked an industry revolution with a growing number of companies offering their own versions of eco-friendly cleaners. Some examples are Clorox Green Works Natural All-Purpose Cleaner, Simple Green, and Purex Natural Elements.
Unfortunately, the terms "green" and "natural" are nothing more than marketing terms; they're not rigid well accepted scientific terms, and they do not automatically equate to safety. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who is even slightly familiar with how multinational corporations use marketing to manipulate the image of their products.
If you want a real treat, please pick up and read a highly recommended book on this subject called Subliminal Persuasion: Influence & Marketing Secrets They Don't Want You To Know. This book reveals the systematic techniques used to form opinions or ideologies, in ways that we never suspect. Multinational corporations, like big drug companies, are using these techniques all the time to deceive you.
Many large corporations are chomping at the bit, eager to reach into the wallets of modern, environmentally concerned consumers searching for green alternatives to the toxic stew of chemicals found in conventional cleaning products. "Green" cleaning products are a growing niche market, with green cleaning product U.S. sales totaling $100 million in 2010.
But most "green" cleaning products like Simple Green are still loaded with glycol ethers, which are anything but good for your health when inhaled or when they touch your skin. Folks, the simple truth is that if a substance cuts through grease and dirt any faster than soap and water, then there are chemicals in there that most likely aren't very good for your health.
Why Glycol Ethers are BAD for You
Glycol ether is a generic term for over thirty solvents derived from crude oil, all with different properties, which are used in applications ranging from paints to inks to degreasing agents and cleaning products. Generally speaking, glycol ethers are hazardous when they get on your skin or when they get in your lungs. This is especially true with cleaning products, which are often applied indoors and without proper ventilation.
The glycol ether named ethylene glycol monoethyl ether may be linked to lower sperm count in men, and has caused low birth weight and reproductive abnormalities in animal studies. Pregnant women and small children in particular should avoid expose to glycol ethers, as these groups are more susceptible to damage.
Reading the Labels Won't Always Help
I always advocate reading the labels on the foods and cleaning products you buy, but in the case of household cleaners even the most meticulous eye for labels won't get you very far.
Because many of the most dangerous chemicals will not even be on the label. The manufacturers have conveniently lobbied the government to exempt them from this requirement and can omit any ingredient that is considered a secret formula from its label. Many of these non-disclosed ingredients are actually toxic and carcinogenic.
Household goods are still very much an unregulated market. And, cleaning product manufacturers -- even those that claim to be "green" -- are not required by law to disclose all of their ingredients on their labels. So while it's still better to read the label than not, be aware that a lack of ingredient on a label doesn't necessarily mean it's not in the product!
How to Clean and Sanitize Without Harmful Chemicals
Some common household items, such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can get the job done just as well -- sometimes even better -- than their toxic counterparts. Here's a simple starter list of what you need to make your own natural cleaning products:
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Liquid castile soap
- Organic essential oils (optional)
- Mixing bowls
- Spray bottles
- Micro fiber cloths
For a great video on how to use these ingredients and other tips for cleaning your home without hazardous chemicals, please review the article: How to Keep Your Home Clean Naturally. For example, vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide works exceptionally well as both a disinfectant and sanitizer.
Cleaning mirrors and windows is as easy as adding a quarter-cup of white vinegar per quart of water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the mixture if windows or mirrors are really dirty, but be very careful not to use any that contain harmful antibacterial substances.
Most people know that baking soda is an ideal means to absorb odors in your refrigerator, but did you know it's also a real powerhouse when it comes to cleaning?
Half-a-Dozen Uses for Baking Soda
Here are half a dozen examples of how plain and simple baking soda can replace dangerous commercial cleaning products in your home:
- Use as a safe non-scratch scrub -- for metals and porcelain.
- To clean your oven -- simply sprinkle a cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning the grease will be easy to wipe up because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.
- To unclog a drain -- pour 1/2 - 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 - 1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it's working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.
- Deodorize dry carpets -- by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.
- To rid your garbage disposal of foul smells -- add vinegar to water for ice cubes, then let a few of them get chopped by your disposal.
- To clean your silver -- boil 2-3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Remove silver from the pan and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cotton cloth.
Genuine Green Products are Out There!
Dr. Bronner has long made a natural castile soap free of toxic chemicals. This is just one of many truly "green" products available to consumers who are discerning and want to avoid the glycol ethers and phthalates found in most cleaning and laundry products.
For the past four years I have been researching a safe alternative to conventional laundry detergents that are typically chocked full of perfumes, solvents and bleaches that don't belong anywhere near your skin.
I am pleased to announce that I have been able to develop a product that cleans your clothes just as good as conventional laundry detergent, but uses plant and vegetable enzymes to get the job done.
Final Thoughts on Green Cleaners
Don't be fooled by the marketing, or by ingredients that are purposely left off of labels.
The toxic chemicals listed above are found in a wide variety of everyday cleaners and detergents and pose a significant health risk. We are starting to see that now with increased and unexplained cancers, increased infertility and difficulty in reproduction, exploding neurological disorders, ADHD and autism in our children.
These diseases are thought by many to be linked to environmental causes. And many of the toxic ingredients in cleaning products are among the suspected culprits.
Remember, if you have trouble finding safe alternatives, there is nothing wrong with natural soap and water for cleaning most surfaces. It will take a little more elbow grease, and you'll have to rinse the soap off, but the benefit of avoiding toxic chemicals far outweighs any extra effort you might have to put in.
Additionally, we are in the process of developing a full line of Greener Cleaners.
Demand For "Greener" Cleaning Products Sparks Industry Changes
How Toxic is Your Average Laundry Detergent?
By Dr. Mercola
Levitical guidelines label the pig an "unclean" animal, and prohibit the consumption of pork.
Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there may be good reason to carefully consider your decision to include pork as part of your diet, as despite advertising campaigns trying to paint pork as a "healthy" alternative to beef, research suggests it may be hazardous to your health on multiple levels.
Pork consumption has a strong epidemiological association with cirrhosis of the liver -- in fact, it may be more strongly associated with cirrhosis than alcohol (although some have questioned the studies that indicate this, and point out that countries with high pork consumption tend to have low obesity rates.)
Other studies also show an association between pork consumption and liver cancer as well as multiple sclerosis.
What's behind this data?
Most U.S. Pigs are Fed Grains, Making Them High in Inflammatory Omega-6 Fats
One contributing factor is the diet upon which the pigs are raised, which will impact the level of polyunsaturated omega-6 fat it contains.
Too many polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) contribute to chronic inflammation, which causes all sorts of problems over the long-term. Inflammation is at the source of just about every chronic disease we see today.
Most pigs raised in the United States are fed grains and possibly seed oils, which dramatically increase their omega-6 content, as well as the highly inflammatory byproduct of omega-6 fatty acid metabolism: arachadonic acid. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, lard from pigs fed this type of diet may be 32 percent PUFAs. On the other hand, lard from pigs raised on pasture and acorns had a much lower PUFA content, at 8.7 percent, while those fed a Pacific Island diet rich in coconut had even less, only 3.1 percent.i
About one third of the staff at Mercola.com is based in the Philippines where pork is a very popular part of their diet. However, unlike the U.S. in which most of the pigs are fed grains, most of the pig diet in the Philippines is vegetable based. My staff tells me that there is a dramatic difference in the taste. So it is possible that many of the adverse consequences being ascribed to pork may be related to the pigs' diet.
As reported by Dr. Paul Jaminet, a trained astrophysicist and his wife Shou-Ching, a Harvard biomedical scientist, who together authored the book Perfect Health Diet:
"So the omega-6 content can cover a 10-fold range, 3% to 32%, with the highest omega-6 content in corn- and wheat-fed pigs who have been caged for fattening. Corn oil and wheat germ oil are 90% PUFA, and caging prevents exercise and thus inhibits the disposal of excess PUFA. Caging is a common practice in industrial food production."
Consumption of this PUFA-rich meat may very well be a factor in liver disease, as studies show feeding mice corn oil (rich in omega-6) and alcohol (which is metabolically similar to fructose) induces liver disease,ii and omega-6 fats have also been linked to cirrhosis of the liver.
However, even though most pork in the United States is likely to be high in omega-6 fats, it is not the largest contributor of omega-6 fats in the U.S. diet -- this honor goes to vegetable oils. Dr. Jaminet continues:
"Either fructose or alcohol can react with polyunsaturated fat to produce liver disease. Sugar consumption, for example in soft drinks, may be just as likely to combine with pork to cause a cirrhotic liver as alcohol. But no other common dietary component can substitute for the role of polyunsaturated fat in causing liver disease.
? We would expect that if pork can cause liver cirrhosis it will also promote liver cancer, since injured and inflamed tissues are more likely to become cancerous. Indeed, there is an association between pork consumption and the primary liver cancer. ? But fat composition is hardly likely to be the sole issue with pork. Most polyunsaturated fats in modern diets are derived from vegetable oils, not pork. It seems that there must be something else in pork besides polyunsaturated fat that is causing liver disease."
Most Pork is Consumed in Processed Form
Another reason to reconsider pork, in theory, would be the fact that most is consumed in processed form. Dr. Jaminet reports that in the U.S., pork consumption can be broken down as follows:
- Smoked ham 28%
- Sausage 13%
- Bacon 6%
- Processed lunchmeat 6%
- Other forms of processed pork 10%
Processed meats are those preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or the addition of chemical preservatives. Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring and flavoring. The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. It's for this reason that the USDA actually requires adding ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or erythorbic acid to bacon cure, as it helps reduce the formation of nitrosamines.
Meat cooked at high temperatures, as many processed meats often are, can also contain as many as 20 different kinds of heterocyclic amines, or HCAs for short. These substances are also linked to cancer. Heating meat at high temperatures also appears to increase the formation of nitrosamines, with well-done or burned bacon having significantly more nitrosamines than less well-done bacon.
Many processed meats are also smoked as part of the curing process, and smoking is a well-known cause of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which enter your food during the smoking process.
So it's known that eating processed meats exposes you to at least three cancer-causing substances: nitrates and nitrites (leading to nitrosamines), heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Ironically, despite this known connection, Dr. Jaminet reports that liver cancer appears to be even more strongly associated with the consumption of fresh pork than processed pork, which suggests another causative factor.
Does Pork Contain an Infectious, Disease-Causing Pathogen?
This is the conclusion reached by Dr. Jaminet, who suggests that an infectious pathogen in pork is responsible for the associated health conditions including liver disease and multiple sclerosis:
"Consider: Traditional methods of processing pork, such as salting, smoking, and curing, are antimicrobial. They were developed to help preserve pork from pathogens. So if processed pork is less risky than fresh pork, we should look for a pathogen that is reduced in number by processing.
If a pathogen is the cause, then it makes sense that fiber would be protective [fiber consumption is protective against pork-induced cancer]. Fiber increases gut bacterial populations. Gut bacteria get "first crack" at food and release proteases and other compounds that can kill pathogens. Also, a large gut bacterial population makes for a vigilant immune system at the gut barrier, making it more likely that pathogens will fail to enter the body. The gut flora are a valuable part of the gut's immune defenses."
So while pork is arguably "good" meat from a biochemical perspective, I believe there is enough scientific evidence to justify the reservations or outright prohibitions in many cultures against consuming it. Pigs are scavenger animals and will eat just about anything, alive, sick or dead. Their appetite for less-than-wholesome foods makes pigs a breeding ground for potentially dangerous infections. Even cooking pork for long periods is not enough to kill many of the retroviruses and other parasites that many of them harbor.
This is why my nutrition plan recommends consciously avoiding pork whenever possible.
Granted, the occasional consumption of pork might be fine, but it's a risk, and the more you consume it the more likely it is that you will eventually acquire some type of infection. The pork and swine industry has been continually plagued, and continues to be so to this day, by a wide variety of hazardous and deadly infections and diseases, including:
- PRRS -- A horrendous disease, which I first reported on in 2001, but which had been a nightmare for many nations since the mid-1980s, is still alive and kicking today. At one point referred to as "swine mystery disease," "blue abortion," and "swine infertility," the disease was finally named "Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome" (PRRS), and may afflict about 75 percent of American pig herds.
The PRRS virus primarily attacks the pig's immune system, leaving its body open to a host of infections, particularly in the lungs. Initial research revealed that the virus was transmitted via semen, saliva and blood, leaving pigs herded closely together and transported in close quarters by trucks more susceptible to infection.
However, according to research presented at the 2007 International PRRS Symposium, the disease is also airborne, making eradication efforts very difficult.
- The Nipah Virus ? Discovered in 1999, the Nipah virus has caused disease in both animals and humans, through contact with infected animals. In humans, the virus can lead to deadly encephalitis (an acute inflammation of your brain). I originally reported on this virus in 2000, but according to CDC data, the Nipah virus reemerged again in 2004.iii
- Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) ? According to a study in the journal Lancet, this virus can spread to people receiving pig organ transplants, and according to test tube studies, PERV strains do have the ability to infect human cells.iv
PERV genes are scattered throughout pigs' genetic material, and researchers have found that pig heart, spleen and kidney cells release various strains of the virus.
- Menangle Virus ? In 1998, it was reported that a new virus infecting pigs was able to jump to humans. The menangle virus was discovered in August 1997 when sows at an Australian piggery began giving birth to deformed and mummified piglets.
Is Organic, Pastured Pork Healthy?
If you choose to eat pork, I would recommend seeking a naturally raised, pastured source, as there's no question that pigs raised on CAFOs will not only be higher in omega-6 fats, but also may be more likely to harbor disease, not to mention be treated inhumanely.
That said, I can't even safely recommend consuming pasture-raised pork, because of a study in Emerging Infectious Diseases citing concerns about pastured pigs being vulnerable to Trichinella spiralis infection, due to their exposure to wild hosts that carry the disease.v
I would also seek out pork that was raised primarily on vegetables rather than grains. Pasture-raised pig farming has expanded with increased demand from health conscious consumers, and that study noted 28 U.S. farms were located within 50 kilometers of a previously infected site.
If you still want to continue buying pasture-raised pork, I'd advise you to at least take a look at this CDC map, which details areas where outbreaks have occurred, to avoid purchasing meat from a potentially unsafe location. Other than that, I would simply recommend you consider avoiding pork altogether, even organic pasture-raised versions, in favor of healthier and safer protein sources, like organic grass-fed beef, lamb, bison and chicken.
- i Weston A. Price Foundation November 25, 2011
- ii J Nutr. 2004 Apr;134(4):904-12.
- iii Emerging Infectious Diseases Volume 10, Number 12?December 2004
- iv Lancet. 1998 Aug 29;352(9129):692-4.
- v Emerging Infectious Disease Volume 14, Number 7?July 2008
What are the Most Common Food Infections?
Scientific American Finds U.S. Pig Farms May Be 'Flu Factories'
The website Green Med Info has assembled a list of studies that found evidence of over 40 conditions that chlorella can help to prevent or ease.
The conditions include:
- Acute Stress
- Liver Cancer
According to one of the studies on the subject:
?Chlorella vulgaris (CV) has been reported to have antioxidant and anticancer properties ... Our study shows that CV has definite chemopreventive effect by inducing apoptosis ... in hepatocarcinogenesis [liver cancer] induced rats?.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Chlorella, a single-celled fresh-water algae, is one of the most heavily researched algae in the world. It's often referred to as a near-perfect food as research through the years have identified an astounding range of health benefits. While being well known for its ability to detoxify your body by binding to toxins and carrying them out of your system, that's certainly not all it's good for.
Chlorella's Impressive Range of Health Benefits
As you will see, chlorella seems to fit the description of a "wonder nutrient" that serves far more than just one function. Here's a sampling of some of the health benefits associated with this green algae:
|Repairing nerve tissues||Increasing your energy levels|
|Enhancing your immune system||Normalizing your blood sugar|
|Improving digestion||Normalizing your blood pressure|
|Promoting healthy pH levels in your gut, which in turn helps good bacteria to thrive||Removing potentially toxic metals from your body|
|Enhancing your ability to focus and concentrate||Eliminating bad breath|
Chlorella can also be of benefit to vegetarians and vegans looking for proteins and B vitamins from a non-animal source. About 60 percent of it is protein, and because it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs, it's considered to be a "complete protein."
Chlorella also rich in:
- Vitamin B12
Six Health Conditions Chlorella May Help Prevent or Treat
As mentioned earlier, chlorella has and still is being researched for a number of health conditions. Here's a list of six common health problems and diseases where chlorella may be of particular benefit:
- Insulin resistance?Earlier this year, researchers discovered that chlorella has the ability to improve fructose-induced insulin sensitivity. As I?ve discussed on numerous occasions, excessive fructose consumption is the number one cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In this animal study, after being fed fructose-rich chow for four weeks, the rats were then given chlorella three times a day for five days, which brought their elevated glucose-insulin values back to normal.
The authors concluded that: ?Oral administration of chlorella has the ability to improve insulin sensitivity, which may be used as an adjuvant therapy for patients with insulin resistance.?
- Detoxification. Is particularly helpful when used in conjunction with an infrared sauna and taken two hours before you go in the sauna. This way the chlorella will be in your intestine and read to bind to the toxins that are released when you are in the sauna. It will bind irreversibly to the toxins and be safely excreted when you have your bowel movement.
- Diabetes?Additional evidence supporting the theory that chlorella can improve insulin sensitivity can be found in an earlier study. Here, the algae was found to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in the liver in type 1 diabetic rats. The authors suggest chlorella?s hypoglycemic effects may be due to improved glucose uptake in the liver and the soleus muscles. Another mechanism may be related to decreased levels of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), since insulin sensitivity is usually blunted by elevated NEFA in type 1 diabetes.
- Hypertension?The results from a placebo-controlled, double-blind study published two years ago suggest that chlorella can significantly decrease high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension. The authors proposed that it may be a beneficial dietary supplement for preventing hypertension, with no apparent adverse side effects.
- Anemia, proteinuria and edema in pregnant women?Pregnancy-induced hypertension and anemia are common, and potentially dangerous. One of the primary causes for these conditions is the woman?s nutritional status. A study published last year found that chlorella may help improve both of these conditions in pregnant women, likely due to its high folate, B12 and iron content.
Subjects took six grams of chlorella per day, starting somewhere between the 12th to the 18th week of gestation, until delivery. The chlorella group had significantly lower rates of anemia compared to the control group. They also had fewer incidences of proteinuria and edema; two symptoms associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension. Here too, the authors concluded that: ?Chlorella supplement may be useful as a resource of natural folate, vitamin B-12 and iron for pregnant women.?
- Fibromyalgia?Although the individual results were varied, it may be worth considering chlorella if you suffer with fibromyalgia. A study published in 2000 tested the effectiveness of two commercially available chlorella-based products on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and the overall results showed a 22 percent decrease in pain intensity. However, while seven patients reported improvement in their fibromyalgia symptoms, six reported no effect at all, and five claimed their symptoms had worsened during the trial... So keep that in mind if you decide to try it. While it may help some, it might not work at all for others.
- Liver cancer?A study published in 2009 discovered that chlorella triggers cell death (apoptosis) in rat liver cancer cells, which suggests it may be useful in the prevention of liver cancer. The authors concluded that: ?Our study shows that chlorella has definite chemopreventive effect by inducing apoptosis via decreasing the expression of Bcl-2 and increasing the expression of caspase 8 in hepatocarcinogenesis-induced rats.?
For additional research findings, check out Green Med Info's chlorella page, which lists more than 40 health conditions for which chlorella may be of benefit.
Chlorella?A Potent Detox Agent
Heavy metal toxicity, just like chemical toxicity, has become one of the most pressing health hazards of our day, and this is where chlorella may be profoundly useful. Its ability to bind to heavy metal toxins, allowing them to be safely excreted from your body, has been well established. It's particularly crucial for systemic mercury elimination, because the majority of mercury is rid through your stool. Once the mercury burden is lowered from your intestines, mercury from other body tissues will more readily migrate into your intestines where chlorella will work to remove it.
You can also add cilantro, which works as a synergetic detoxification aid along with the chlorella. This combination is particularly useful to take when you're consuming seafood, as most are invariably contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals. Ideally you would take it with the meal so the chlorella can bind directly to the toxins while they are in your gut, before they absorbed into your body.
In order to optimize heavy metal detox, you'll want to take at least four grams of chlorella every day, year-round.
Be aware that side effects may occur. As your body starts to detox, you may initially experience some slight nausea, and/or mild diarrhea. If these symptoms are too bothersome, you may want to lower your dose initially, and slowly increase the dose. As your body is cleansed of toxins, these side effects should disappear. Infrared saunas are another phenomenal detox approach. I seek to do a 20 minute sauna virtually every day I am home. I will be writing more about this useful tool in the near future.
The Crucial Detail that Determines Chlorella's Effectiveness
The key to chlorella's detoxing abilities lies within its membrane, but the fibrous cell wall of chlorella is actually indigestible to humans. This is why most chlorella products use the term "broken cell wall," to describe the fact that the chlorella has been rendered digestible.
If a product does not specifically tell you that the cell wall has been broken, you are likely flushing your money down the toilet as the chlorella will simply pass right through you without doing you any good. As Ginny Banks explains in this previous interview, it's in your best interest to make sure you're getting a high quality product for this reason.
How to Verify the Quality of a Chlorella Product
While there are a number of proprietary methods to break the cell wall, the key comparison you need to pay attention to is the nutritional profile of the end product. In addition to making sure it's "broken cell wall" chlorella, this is the other factor that will help you evaluate the quality of any given product. Keep in mind that, according to the legal requirements, a natural product may contain plus or minus 20 percent of the stated level of any nutritional component. Therefore, I recommend sticking with reputable companies only, as they will adhere to certain processes that increase your chances of getting the levels of nutrients stated on the label.
Recent changes to the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) guidelines and the labeling requirements now make it much easier for you to investigate and verify company claims, because companies are now required to list their phone number and website on every label. They must also maintain a paper trail showing where the material came from and any testing that has been done.
Key questions to ask when calling a company directly include:
- How often do you test batches for nutritional consistency?
- Ask for a specification sheet ('spec sheet'), or the Certificate of Analysis, known as the 'C of A'. These are documents that itemize every single test that the final product gets tested for.
- How and where is the chlorella grown? Variations in climate and season can cause nutritional variations, but if the chlorella is grown in artificial ponds the producer has greater control over consistency. You'll also want to make sure the chlorella is grown in unpolluted areas, since chlorella binds to heavy metals.
- Does the producer test for heavy metal contamination? A high quality producer will perform regular heavy metal analysis', for which there should also be a verifiable paper trail. And organic producers must adhere to even more stringent rules in order to become certified organic, which is another sign of a clean, high quality product.
Although I do not promote the use of many supplements in general, believing it is far better to get your nutrition from food, there are exceptions to this rule. In this case though, chlorella truly is a food, but it must be properly processed into supplement form in order to unlock its greatest health benefits. Whether you want to help reduce your toxic burden, prevent a particular health ailment, or just boost overall nutrition, I believe chlorella can be a phenomenal addition to a healthy diet.
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