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Medical News Reports

Testosterone Treatment Lawsuit News: New Filing Alleges...
New York, New York (PRWEB) August 22, 2014 Testosterone treatment lawsuits (http://www.testosteronelawsuitclaims.com/) continue to be filed in U.S. courts on behalf of men who allegedly suffered serious cardiovascular events
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3D-printed vertebra used in spine surgery 22 August 2014, 19.28 Medical
3D-printed vertebra used in spine surgery
Surgeons in Beijing, China, have successfully implanted an artificial, 3D-printed vertebra replacement in a young boy with bone cancer. They say it is the first time such a procedure has ever been done. During a five-hour
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Not "depression":  Manic-depression and Robin Williams
Was it “depression” that killed Robin Williams, as most media reports say? Or depression mixed with alcohol and drugs.  But “depression” isn’t a diagnosis or a disease; like fever, it’s a set of symptoms that can
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A cross-sectional analysis of the relationship between uric acid and coronary atherosclerosis in patients with suspected coronary artery disease in China
Research article Yujiao Sun, Xin Yu, Ying Zhi, Song Geng, Hua Li, Ting Liu, Ke Xu, Ling Chen, Chunwei Wu and Guoxian Qi BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2014, 14:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-14-101 Published: 16 August
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GARFIELD-AF Off and Running in the United StatesGARFIELD-AF Off and Running in the United States
Editor's Note: This discussion was recorded in March 2014 at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions in Washington, DC. Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD: Hello. This is Dr. Sam Goldhaber, for the Clot Blog at
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Liberia president apologises for high toll for Ebola health workers
(Reuters) - Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf apologised on Saturday for the high death toll among the country's healthcare workers who have fought an Ebola outbreak, which has killed nearly 1,000 people in three
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From stem cells to cardiomyocytes: the role of forces in cardiac maturation, aging, and disease.
Stem cell differentiation into a variety of lineages is known to involve signaling from the extracellular niche, including from the physical properties of that environment. What regulates stem cell responses to these cues is
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A nationwide clinical quality improvement pilot: interventions to improve chlamydia screening
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Aspirin could dramatically cut cancer risk, according to biggest study yet
Doctors warn that before aspirin can be used to prevent cancer, there are questions over dosage and who is likely to have side-effects. Photograph: Tim Boyle/Getty An aspirin a day could
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How do sleep trackers work? 28 July 2014, 20.03 Medical
How do sleep trackers work?
The average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep each night, though unfortunately many get a lot less. Approximately 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, which may be why there's tremendous interest in popular
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The lessons health care can learn from Steve Jobs
By Clement Bottino, MD, Fellow in General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Primary Care Center Steve Jobs Memorial outside an Apple store. Image flickr/Ron Cogswell Like many people across the country, I was sad
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Zoo In Argentina Says 'Sad Bear' Too Old To Go To Canada
hide captionArturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, lives in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza. The plight of the "sad bear" has spawned more than 400,000 signatures on a petition to get him moved to a "better life" in
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Sex Addiction May Function Like Drug Addiction In The Brain
A new study suggests that sex addiction may work a lot like drug addiction in the brain. There’s been a long debate about whether compulsive sexual behavior – including frequent thoughts about sex, having sex, or watching
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Hypertension and treatment outcomes in Palestine refugees in United Nations Relief and Works Agency primary health care clinics in Jordan
Original Article A. Khader1, L. Farajallah1, Y. Shahin1, M. Hababeh1, I. Abu-Zayed2, R. Zachariah3, A. Kochi4, A. Kapur5, A. D. Harries6,7,*, I. Shaikh1 and A. Seita1 Article first published online: 12 JUL
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The Problem with Perfectionism — How to Truly Succeed!
  Follow me on Twitter!   Are you a perfectionist? Many perfectionists are very hard on themselves when it comes to perceived imperfections, faults, and shortcomings. You may think that you’re not good enough in some
Read More 215 Hits 0 Ratings
NPR Listeners Show A Keen Ear For Temperature 06 July 2014, 22.30 Medical
NPR Listeners Show A Keen Ear For Temperature
1 min 20 secDownload NPR conducted an online poll asking listeners if they could hear the difference between cold and hot water simply by listening to the sound of the water being poured. Most listeners were
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Pediatric Pit Crew CPR 29 June 2014, 15.19 Medical
Pediatric Pit Crew CPR
A reader asks, “Does your Pit Crew CPR process work for pediatrics?”See also: Pit Crew CPR – The Explicit Details The answer is, “Yes!” with some minor modifications. We are developing a class for Pediatric Pit Crew
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ASD, ADHD, mental health conditions and psychopharmacology in neurogenetic syndromes: parent survey
Original Article C. Reilly1,2,*, J. Senior2 and L. Murtalgh2 Article first published online: 25 JUN 2014 DOI: 10.1111/jir.12147 © 2014 MENCAP and International Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual and
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Depressed? It May Be Celiac Disease 27 June 2014, 16.43 Medical
Depressed? It May Be Celiac Disease
Melanie had been feeling out of sorts for years. No matter how well she slept, she was often fatigued. She had frequent headaches. She had diarrhea so often, she figured it was just how her body worked. She wryly said that she
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Survey: Nurses Harsh on Overweight Patients 27 June 2014, 16.43 Medical
Survey: Nurses Harsh on Overweight Patients
Meeting Coverage Published: Jun 21, 2014 By Ed Susman , Contributing Writer, MedPage Today NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nurse practitioners responding to a survey indicated a critical attitude when dealing with overweight
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Consensus Guidelines -- Hepatitis C ManagementConsensus Guidelines -- Hepatitis C Management
Koff RS. Review article: the efficacy and safety of sofosbuvir, a novel, oral nucleotide NS5B polymerase inhibitor, in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2014; 39:
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Prenatal and perinatal factors in eating disorders: A descriptive review
Review Anu Raevuori MD, PhD1,2,3,4,*, Milla S. Linna MD1 and Anna Keski-Rahkonen MD, PhD, MPH1 Article first published online: 19 JUN 2014 DOI: 10.1002/eat.22323 Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals,
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Psychological Distress Affects Tobacco Use Differently for Men and Women
Follow us on Facebook A new study in the American Journal of Health Behavior finds that women are more likely than men to use tobacco products after experiencing severe psychological distress. The researchers, led by Mary
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Dr. Oz scolded at Senate hearing on diet scams
Popular TV talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz is defending his claims of "miracle" weight-loss supplements amid criticism from members of Congress. Oz testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday on deceptive advertising for
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Fear of aging moderates post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among older adults exposed to hurricane sandy.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Authors: Palgi Y, Shrira A, Goodwin R, Hamama-Raz Y, Ben-Ezra M PMID: 24927879 [PubMed - in process] (Source: The American Journal of Geriatric
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Expression of SSEA-4 in GBM [Biochemistry] 15 June 2014, 20.23 Medical
Expression of SSEA-4 in GBM [Biochemistry]
Yi-Wei Loua,b, Pao-Yuan Wangb,c, Shih-Chi Yehb,d, Po-Kai Chuangb,e, Shiou-Ting Lib, Chung-Yi Wub, Kay-Hooi Khoof, Michael Hsiaob, Tsui-Ling Hsub, and Chi-Huey Wongb,1 aInstitute of Biochemical Sciences, National Taiwan
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Light Therapy Improves Sleep, Behavior in Alzheimer's PatientsLight Therapy Improves Sleep, Behavior in Alzheimer's Patients
MINNEAPOLIS — Light therapy tailored to increase circadian stimulation during the day has benefits for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias living in long-term care facilities, a new study
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Practicing Mind-Body Exercises to Prevent or Control Smoking
At the national level, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), estimates that 42.1 million people, or 18.1% of all adults (aged 18 years or older) in the United States smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is more
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Coke ad: It takes 23 minutes to burn off a soda
NEW YORK - Coca-Cola (KO) is taking on obesity, this time with an online video showing how fun it could be to burn off the 140 calories in a can of its soda. In the ad, the world's biggest beverage maker asks what would happen
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Victoza Accused of Causing Pancreatitis 08 June 2014, 22.37 Medical
Victoza Accused of Causing Pancreatitis
Endocrinology Published: Jun 6, 2014 The watchdog group Public Citizen has conducted its own analysis of FDA adverse event reports and concluded that the type 2 diabetes drug liraglutide (Victoza) likely causes
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"Godfather of ecstasy" dies at 88 05 June 2014, 15.48 Medical
"Godfather of ecstasy" dies at 88
Alexander ("Sasha") Shulgin, known as the "Godfather of ecstasy," died on Monday. The 88-year-old, who passed away after a long battle with liver cancer, is credited with inventing a number of psychedelic drugs. He is most
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Houttuynia cordata Attenuates Lipid Accumulation via Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Pathway in HepG2 Cells.
Houttuynia cordata (H. cordata) from the family Saururaceae is a perennial herb native to Southeast Asia. It possesses a range of medicinal properties to treat several disease symptoms including allergic inflammation and
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Acute Lipotoxicity Regulates Severity of Biliary Acute Pancreatitis without Affecting Its Initiation.
Obese patients have worse outcomes during acute pancreatitis (AP). Previous animal models of AP have found worse outcomes in obese rodents who may have a baseline proinflammatory state. Our aim was to study the role of acute
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Committee opinion no. 600: ethical issues in the care of the obese woman.
: Rates of obesity in the United States have increased rapidly over the past several decades, and physicians should be prepared to care for obese patients in a nonjudgmental manner, being cognizant of the medical, social, and
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We're more stressed at home than we are at work: Juggling household chores means a day at the office seems easier in comparison
Preparing meals and getting children ready for school is key stress culprit Levels of stress hormone cortisol in saliva soared in home environmentWomen are more affected by stress in the home than menThis is because they often
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Thousands of dogs, and 3 people, sickened by jerky pet treats
Rewarding your favorite canine with a tasty treat may pose health risks. The Food and Drug Administration released updated information on Friday about an ongoing investigation into illnesses and deaths caused by jerky pet
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Antioxidants 18 May 2014, 19.02 Medical
Antioxidants
May 12, 2014 Eating an antioxidant found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries does not help people live longer new research reveals. An Italian study of over 780 people has found eating a diet rich in the antioxidant
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The guide to perfect sleep - top experts share their best slumber tips and tricks
Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for your cognitive and physical health[GETTY - Pic Posed by Models] AVOID STIMULANTS AND KEEP YOUR ROOM DARK Paul Tierney is an ear, nose and throat consultant at the Spire Hospital
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CAC Scores Predict Aspirin Benefit in Primary PreventionCAC Scores Predict Aspirin Benefit in Primary Prevention
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Predicted benefit from daily aspirin therapy for primary prevention exceeds risk when coronary artery calcium (CAC) imaging scores reach or exceed 100, whereas the risks surpass benefits at a CAC score of 0,
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WITHDRAWN: Low back pain across the lifecourse
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Energy requirements, protein-energy metabolism and balance, and carbohydrates in preterm infants.
Energy is necessary for all vital functions of the body at molecular, cellular, organ, and systemic levels. Preterm infants have minimum energy requirements for basal metabolism and growth, but also have requirements for unique
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I lost 4lb by joining the cult of kale says MARIANNE POWER
Marianne Power spent a week eating kale in different waysShe tried the vegetable in a smoothie, salad, facemask and even ice creamMarianne believes she feels healthier and has continued eating kaleBy Marianne Power
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Woman's wisdom teeth operation left her in agony for SIX YEARS
Without proper scans of teeth, there is a danger of permanent nerve damage Carol Russell, 46, from Birmingham, can't even kiss her children Her wisdom tooth was removed in 2008 but several operations couldn't stop the
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athenahealth Announces 2013 Meaningful Use Attestation Rate and Early Stage 2 Performance Data
WATERTOWN, Mass., April 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- athenahealth, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHN), a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management, and care coordination, today announced
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Can you afford to eat healthily? 26 April 2014, 22.11 Medical
Can you afford to eat healthily?
April 23, 2014 We’ve found out over a third of the UK are struggling to eat healthily. Our survey revealed two thirds of people in the UK wish they could eat more healthily, but 42% said they can't because it’s too
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Risk of completed suicide after bariatric surgery: a systematic review - Peterhänsel C, Petroff D, Klinitzke G, Kersting A, Wagner B.
Affiliation Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; Leipzig University Medical Center, Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases Germany,
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Embryos with Genetic Disease Destroyed for Their Stem Cells, Cell Lines Added to NIH Registry
King's College in London is proud that they have provided 16 new embryonic stem cell lines to the United States' National Institutes of Health (NIH) registry of stem cell lines eligible for federal funding. On the King's
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TEMPORARY REMOVAL: Successful bipolar catheter ablation of ventricular premature complex from the posterior papillary muscle
[unable to retrieve full-text content](Source: Heart
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Major Drop in MI, Stroke, Amputation in Diabetes Since 1990Major Drop in MI, Stroke, Amputation in Diabetes Since 1990
Over the past 2 decades, the incidence of diabetes-related complications among Americans with diabetes has fallen substantially, a new study shows. Rates of MI and death from hyperglycemic crisis have each plummeted by
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Edwards Favored Over Medtronic In Recent Artificial Heart Valve Trials
By Ryan Brinks After back-to-back days of research announcements from makers of competing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) devices, the Edwards Lifesciences Sapien XT recently gained an edge over the Medtronic
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Many New Parents Unaware of Safety Guidelines 14 April 2014, 18.58 Medical
Many New Parents Unaware of Safety Guidelines
A new parent’s health literacy, defined as their ability to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information, can affect their ability to follow recommendations to protect infants from injury, finds a new study in
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Weight Loss Efforts Start Well, But Lapse Over Time
Learning you have an obesity-related disease motivates many to start a weight loss program, but troubling health news is often not enough to sustain weight loss efforts, finds new research in the American Journal of Preventive
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The silent and apparent neurological injury in transcatheter aortic valve implantation study (SANITY): concept, design and rationale
Study protocol Jonathon P Fanning, Allan J Wesley, Michael Seco, Eamonn M Eeles, Oystein Tronstad, David G Platts, Darren L Walters, Wendy Strugnell, Adrian G Barnett, Andrew J Clarke, Judith Bellapart, Michael P Vallely,
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Obesity, traumatic brain injury, childhood abuse, and suicide attempts in females at risk - Brewer-Smyth K.
Abstract PURPOSE: This study tested the hypothesis that obesity is related to history of traumatic brain injury (TBI), severity and frequency of childhood physical (CPA) and sexual abuse (CSA), and suicide attempts, adjusting
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Selfless schoolteacher saves pupil's life by giving her a kidney
Alya owes her life to her hero teacher Ray (R)[ARCHANT] When generous Ray Coe, 53, heard how Alya Ahmed Ali was seriously ill, he was keen to hear if he could help her. The 13-year-old, from Stratford, east London, suffers from
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The man against meaningful use 03 April 2014, 21.18 Medical
The man against meaningful use
Seeing as healthcare generally lags at least 10 years behind other industries in the realm of adopting technology, it takes a lot to say a health company is doing groundbreaking work. But NantHealth executives believe they've
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Peripheral neuromodulation: a review. 03 April 2014, 21.18 Medical
Peripheral neuromodulation: a review.
Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is likely the most diverse and rapidly expanding area of neuromodulation. Its expansion has become possible due to both technological and clinical advances in pain medicine. The first
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‘Bio-Bot’ That Swims Like Sperm Is An 'Exciting Advance’ In Self-Propelled Biological Robots
  The “bio-bot,” a microscopic biological machine, could be used to explore viscous environments.     Engineers are pioneering a new way to explore the viscous fluids of biological environments, like the inside
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Cardio Notes: Diet, Heart Rate Link Unclear 30 December 2013, 23.30 Medical
Cardio Notes: Diet, Heart Rate Link Unclear
Cardiovascular Published: Dec 29, 2013 By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today The relationship between the Mediterranean diet and heart rate was murky in a randomized trial, and poor sleep spelled trouble
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8,000 people get tummy tucks on NHS 30 December 2013, 23.30 Medical
8,000 people get tummy tucks on NHS
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Baseline obesity status modifies effectiveness of adapted diabetes prevention program lifestyle interventions for weight management in primary care.
Objective. To examine whether baseline obesity severity modifies the effects of two different, primary care-based, technology-enhanced lifestyle interventions among overweight or obese adults with prediabetes and/or metabolic
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China investigates after vaccine suspected in seven deaths
(Reuters) - Chinese health authorities are investigating after seven infants died following inoculation with a hepatitis B vaccine, state media reported on Monday. China has been beset by a series of product safety scandals
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Combination of Umeclidinium Bromide and Vilanterol in COPDCombination of Umeclidinium Bromide and Vilanterol in COPD
Anzueto, A., Decramer, M., Kaelin, T., Richard, N., Taberrer, M., Harris, S. et al. (2013) The efficacy and safety of umeclidinium/vilanterol compared with tiotropium in COPD. In: American Thoracic SocietyCongress,
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Is disordered eating behavior more prevalent in adolescents with early‐onset type 1 diabetes than in their representative peers?
Empirical Article Christina Baechle M.Sc1,*, Katty Castillo Ph.D1, Klaus Straßburger Ph.D1, Anna Stahl-Pehe Ph.D1, Thomas Meissner M.D2, Reinhard W. Holl M.D3, Guido Giani Ph.D1, Joachim Rosenbauer M.D1, In Cooperation with
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Small Vessel Vasculitis and Mononeuropathies in DiabetesSmall Vessel Vasculitis and Mononeuropathies in Diabetes
A Case Report Sahar F Zafar, Jerry Clay Goodman, Eroboghene E Ubogu Disclosures J Med Case Reports. 2013;7(229)  Abstract and Introduction Abstract Introduction We report a rare case of fulminant vasculitic
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13-year-old brain dead after tonsil surgery 23 December 2013, 01.19 Medical
13-year-old brain dead after tonsil surgery
A routine tonsillectomy may have left a 13-year-old girl brain dead, according to her family members who are hoping for a miracle. Jahi McMath went to Children’s Hospital Oakland to get her tonsils removed last week,
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The Consumer: Should We Toss Our Vitamin Pills? 23 December 2013, 01.19 Medical
The Consumer: Should We Toss Our Vitamin Pills?
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press Demand for vitamin and mineral supplements has risen, with 2011 sales of $30 billion.One in two adults takes a daily vitamin pill, and Americans spend tens of billions of
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Cancer rates worldwide on the rise, fueled by breast cancer
GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Worldwide, 14 million people developed cancer last year up from 12.7 million cases in 2008, the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Switzerland said. David Forman, bead of the
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Spiritual Life Reports

When you are paralyzed into in-action 20 November 2012, 18.02 Spiritual
When you are paralyzed into in-action
How to put the dynamic of hope into action. You have the same DNA as Gandhi, Václav Havel and Goenawan Mohamad DAVID RICKEY — Hope is a great four-letter word, but it gets lost in the shuffle of our lives if it
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To die for 09 August 2012, 15.37 Spiritual
To die for
Will Baby Boomers choose to expire in hospitals and nursing homes? Or will they take matters into their own hands? BY DAVID RICKEY —  Would you prefer to die on purpose — or with purpose? Late, great writers like Arthur
Read More 5770 Hits 1 Rating
Meditation lite 23 May 2012, 18.50 Spiritual
Meditation lite
They say that meditation is sitting on a cushion and emptying your mind. But I do mine while I’m thinking BY DAVID RICKEY  — I know it doesn’t come as a surprise to say that meditation is important for spiritual growth.
Read More 5714 Hits 0 Ratings
Can an ‘Easter moment’ cure loneliness and fear?
How would you survive the loss if your best friend, mentor or shrink were crucified? You’d have to awaken your own inner guru. DAVID RICKEY — His career was short and ended with his crucifixion. It looked like failure. What
Read More 5865 Hits 0 Ratings
Decoding codependence 20 March 2012, 01.46 Spiritual
Decoding codependence
If we are all co-dependents now, what is America’s turn-around? * BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence” describes a
Read More 7604 Hits 0 Ratings
Haiti, consciousness and charity 20 March 2012, 01.46 Spiritual
Haiti, consciousness and charity
A psychotherapist and Episcopal priest makes healing in Haiti a life – and spiritual – mission BY DAVID RICKEY – Haiti is a fascinating place in its own right, but for me it serves as a kind of microcosm of issues that
Read More 6597 Hits 0 Ratings
What is codependence? 10 March 2012, 17.32 Spiritual
What is codependence?
If we are all co-dependents now, what is America’s turn-around? * BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence” describes a
Read More 6372 Hits 0 Ratings
Are we All codependents now? * 07 March 2012, 16.12 Spiritual
Are we All codependents now? *
If America is the most codependent culture on the planet, what is the turn-around? BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence”
Read More 6628 Hits 0 Ratings
We are All codependents now * 03 March 2012, 23.44 Spiritual
We are All codependents now *
If America is the most codependent culture on the planet, what is the turn-around? BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence”
Read More 6683 Hits 0 Ratings
On Ash Wednesday: Is your life filled by Ego, or Grace?
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down. Ashes on your forehead can begin a reorientation of your heart. BY DAVID RICKEY — In the Judeo-Christian tradition, ashes are a symbol of penitence and mortality. In the Old
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Data on Serious Hospital Errors Will Now Be Withheld from the Public PDF Print E-mail

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.

For example, hospital-acquired infections affect one in 25 patients across the US,5, 6 but among Medicare patients, this statistic jumps to one in nine.7

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:

  • Citizens for Patient Safety23
  • ProPublica Patient Harm24

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Drink plenty of pure water
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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What Attracts Mosquitos and How to Repel Them PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Summertime calls most of us to spend time outdoors, but this means we must share our space with mosquitoes. Scientists say that about one in five people are especially appetizing targets for the little bloodsuckers... are you one of them?d

Of the 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, roughly 200 can be found in the US, which all differ in their persistence, biting habits, and ability to transmit disease.

Protecting yourself from mosquito bites not only prevents that horrid itching but can also lessen your chances of contracting several mosquito-borne illnesses, such as encephalitis, yellow fever, malaria, West Nile virus, or dengue.

It is estimated that between one and two million people worldwide die each year from mosquito-borne illnesses, the most common being malaria.1

Most commercial insect repellants contain a chemical called DEET, which should be used with caution, if at all. Many studies have found DEET to have harmful effects.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks for keeping biting bugs at bay, and they don't involve applying toxic chemicals to your skin. There are also several natural remedies that can help take the sting out of your insect bites, should your preventative efforts fail.

Although the above video is highly informative, it is dangerously wrong at the end as it states that insect repellants with DEET are the only ones that work. That is simply untrue as there are many safer and effective alternatives, like the bug spray we have in our store.

Mosquitoes Plan Their Attack from Behind the 50-Yard-Line

Mosquitoes are attracted to a number of chemical compounds that they can detect from an impressive 50 yards away. The males are not interested in your blood, but the females are a different story, thirsting after the protein and iron in your blood to produce their eggs.

At this point in our scientific knowledge base, we know that mosquitoes are attracted to the following:

  • Bacteria: One trillion microbes live on your skin and create your body odor. Humans have only about 10 percent of these microbes in common—the rest vary between individuals. Some of us have a collection of microbes that are particularly irresistible to mosquitoes.
  • Chemical compounds: When they are sniffing us out, mosquitoes hone in on a wide variety of chemicals—277 were isolated as potential mosquito attractants from human hand odors in one 2000 study.2
  • Some of their favorites are lactic acid, ammonia, carboxylic acid, and octenol (present in human breath and sweat). Mosquitoes are especially drawn to carbon dioxide.

    The more you emit, the more attractive you are to them. Larger people naturally emit more carbon dioxide than smaller people, which is one of the reasons adults seem to be bitten more often than children.

  • Movement and heat: Mosquitoes are drawn to both movement and heat. So if you're exercising outside on a warm summer evening, you're the perfect target—especially if you're short of breath!

Mosquitoes Like OLD Sweat, Not Fresh Sweat

It was once believed that mosquitoes were attracted to human sweat, but science has disproven that the sweat itself attracts them. Instead, they are drawn by the chemical changes produced by bacteria in your sweat.3, 4

Sweat itself is odorless until bacteria act upon it. Although mosquitoes are not attracted to fresh sweat, if you offer them up some "fermented sweat," they'll be all over you.

A 1999 study5 found that human sweat was attractive to malarial mosquitoes after one to two days of incubation. During this time, bacteria in the sweat multiplied, which changed its pH from acidic to alkaline as sweat components decomposed into ammonia.

They also found that malarial mosquitoes flock to foot odor—they will even bite a pair of smelly socks if you hang them up after wearing them for a few days.

Not only do mosquitoes find some odors irresistible, but others have been found to impair their ability to find their hosts—and some of these compounds are secreted by your body. One of these compounds is 1-methylpiperzine, which blocks mosquitoes' sense of smell so effectively that they are rendered oblivious to the presence of a juicy human hand nearby.6

Insect sprays containing 1-methylpiperzine are in the works, but thus far scientists have not been able to determine how to keep the substance from evaporating off of your skin, as naturally occurs over time.

Certain people seem to secrete more of these natural substances than others, making them essentially invisible to mosquitoes, which may help explain why some folks seem to be bitten more than others.

Steer Clear of Chemical Repellants, Especially DEET

Currently, DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is used in hundreds of products, in concentrations of up to an astounding 100 percent. If a chemical melts plastic or fishing line, it's not wise to apply it to your skin—and that is exactly what DEET does. Children are particularly at risk for subtle neurological changes because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals in the environment, and chemicals exert more potent effects on their developing nervous systems. Based on 30 years of clinical studies, DEET exposure can potentially cause the following adverse health effects:7

Memory loss HeadachesMuscle weakness, muscle and joint pain
Impaired brain cell function, neurotoxicity8, 9 TremorsSeizures
Skin irritation, hives, blistering Nausea and vomitingHypotension
Bradycardia Shortness of breathPain, irritation, and watering eyes

Another potentially harmful chemical found in many bug sprays is permethrin. This chemical is a member of the synthetic pyrethroid family, which is known to be neurotoxic. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also deemed permethrin carcinogenic—capable of causing lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems, and chromosomal abnormalities. Pyrethroids have recently been linked to behavior problems in children as well.

Permethrin is very toxic to the environment—especially to bees and aquatic life—and is extremely toxic to cats.10 Even a few drops can be lethal to your feline companion. It is used as an ingredient in some topical flea products, so when you see "for dogs only" on the label, it likely contains permethrin. For more information, please refer to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) extensive 2013 review of bug repellant ingredients.11

Simple Preventative Measures to Avoid Mosquito Bites

Naturally, the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to prevent coming into contact with them in the first place. You can avoid insect bites by staying inside between dusk and dawn, which is when they are most active. Mosquitoes are also thicker in shrubby areas and near standing water. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has a helpful factsheet12 of things you can do to prevent mosquito breeding on your property. Their "Three Ds" of protection are the following:

  • Drain—Mosquitoes require water in which to breed, so carefully drain any and all sources of standing water around your house and yard, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage and recycling bins, spare tires, bird baths, etc.
  • Dress—Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing—long sleeved shirts and long pants, hats, and socks
  • Defend—While the AMCA recommends using commercial repellents, I highly recommend avoiding most chemical repellents for the reasons already discussed; try some of the natural alternatives instead

Bat houses are becoming increasingly popular since bats are voracious consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes. For more on buying a bat house or constructing one yourself, visit the Organization for Bat Conservation.13 Planting marigolds around your yard also works as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance that bugs dislike. A simple house fan may also help keep mosquitoes at bay if you're having a get-together in your backyard. Dragonflies are also very useful. I have literally thousands of them flying in my backyard. They are the two-inch variety and I haven't had a problem with mosquitoes as they are nearly as effective as bats at reducing the mosquitoes.

Plants Hold the Key to Repelling Mosquitoes Safely

Fortunately, there are highly effective repellents on the market comprising natural botanical oils and extracts that are every bit as effective as DEET, but with none of the potentially harmful effects. You can also make your own repellent using:

  • Cinnamon leaf oil (one study found it was more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET)
  • Clear liquid vanilla extract14 mixed with olive oil
  • Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100 percent pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java Citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market
  • Catnip oil (according to one study, this oil is 10 times more effective than DEET)15
  • Lemon eucalyptus was found very effective in a 2014 Australian study;16 a mixture of 32 percent lemon eucalyptus oil provided more than 95 percent protection for three hours, compared to a 40 percent DEET repellent that gave 100 percent protection for seven hours

Use a natural formula  that contains a combination of citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and vanillin to repel mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, ticks, and other biting insects,which is recommended in a June 2014 article on AlterNet.17.

Extra Thiamine May Make Mosquitoes Think You Stink

A study back in the 1960s indicated that taking vitamin B1 (thiamine) may be effective in discouraging mosquitoes from biting. However, studies since then have been inconclusive.18 The theory is, taking more vitamin B1 than your body requires causes the excess to be excreted through your urine, skin, and sweat. Vitamin B1 produces a skin odor that female mosquitoes seem to find offensive.

This vitamin is water-soluble, and there is no danger of toxicity—even at high doses—so it is a safe measure to try. Dr. Janet Starr Hull recommends taking one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. You may also want to forgo bananas during mosquito season, as something about how they are metabolized appears attract mosquitoes. Research also suggests that regularly consuming garlic or garlic capsules may help protect against both mosquito and tick bites.

Treating Bites and Stings with Herbs and Natural Agents

Once you've been bitten, the objective changes from repelling to treating the itch and inflammation caused by the bite. Fortunately, a variety of herbs and other natural agents are soothing to the skin, and many have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. So, for your occasional mosquito bites, try some of the following:

Aloe Vera: Contains more than 130 active compounds and 34 amino acids that are beneficial to your skin Calendula: An herb with soothing, moisturizing, and rejuvenating propertiesChamomile: The most soothing herb of all, whether used in a tea or applied to the skin; rich in the bioflavonoids apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin
Cinnamon: In addition to possibly repelling mosquitoes, cinnamon has antibacterial and antifungal propertiesCucumbers: Helpful for reducing swellingRaw organic honey: An especially powerful variety is Manuka honey from New Zealand, made from bees that feed on flowers of the Manuka bush, also known as the "Tea Tree"
Lavender: One of the most popular essential oils for its calming scent, lavender is soothing and antimicrobialNeem oil: Effective against fungal conditions, boils, eczema, and ringworm, and it would undoubtedly help an insect bite as wellTea Tree oil: Helpful for healing cuts, burns, infections, and a multitude of other skin afflictions; also a good antimicrobial and antifungal
Basil: Contains camphor and thymol, two compounds that can relieve itching; crush up some fresh herb and apply directly to the bite, or buy the essential oilLemon and lime: Both have anti-itch, antibacterial, and antimicrobial actions; avoid applying citrus juices to your skin when outdoors, however, as blistering can occur when exposed to sunlightPeppermint: The cooling sensation can block other sensations, such as itching, and provide temporary relief; either crushed fresh leaves or the essential oil will do
Jewelweed: A wildflower that grows throughout in the Eastern US, helpful for reducing itching from many types of skin ailments, including poison oak and ivy19, 20Tea bags: Swiping a cooled tea bag over your bites can help, as the tannins in the tea act as an astringent, to reduce swelling Apple cider vinegar: Add two to three cups to your bath and soak for 30 minutes; the acidity helps relieve itching
Baking soda: Dissolve in your bath and soak for 30 minutes Witch hazel: Make a paste out of witch hazel and baking soda, and apply directly to your bite to reduce swelling

Hot or Cold Therapies Can Take the Sting Out of a Bug Bite

You can also use either ice or heat to ease the discomfort from bug bites. An article in Scientific American21 recommends using a simple ice pack to treat painful insect bites in lieu of analgesics. According to an article published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin,22 there is little evidence supporting the efficacy of commercial preparations for insect bites, including antihistamines and topical corticosteroids. The authors conclude that the best course of action for mild local reactions is to simply clean the area and apply a cold compress.

Alternatively, applying heat directly to the bite also appears to relieve itchiness, which was confirmed by a 2011 German study.23 One simple way is to apply a heated spoon directly to the area, as demonstrated by Lifehacker.com.24 Just hold the spoon under hot tap water for about a minute to heat the metal, then press it against the bite for a couple of minutes. Naturally, make sure the spoon is not too hot. It shouldn't be scalding enough to actually hurt, so please use some common sense, and make sure to test it on your own skin before applying the heated utensil to a child.

A higher-tech version of a heated spoon is the Therapik—a handheld wand that provides targeted heat for the treatment of itchy bites. Gizmodo25 tested it and concluded that it works as advertised, giving it four out of five stars. The receptors that respond to heat are the same ones that respond to cold, so you will likely achieve the same benefits with a metal spoon taken from your freezer, or simply rubbing ice cubes on it. I have also found that simply covering your bite with tape works really well to suppress the itch.

How to Enjoy the Outdoors Without the Buzzkill

With a little planning and preparation, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors without getting eaten alive. Remember the Three Ds of protection from mosquitoes: drain, dress, and defend. Eliminating the breeding grounds for mosquitoes is the first step to limiting their numbers. Planting marigolds around your yard and maybe installing a bat box or two can also go a long way toward preventing them in the first place. When it comes to defense, I recommend avoiding harsh chemical concoctions and experimenting with some natural alternatives instead.

Some may work better than others for each individual, as mosquitoes in particular are attracted to certain biochemical components in your skin, and different types of mosquitoes have different attractions and aversions. Should your preventive measures fail, there are well over a dozen different home remedies that can help, from herbs to baking soda to ice packs or heat, whether in the form of a heated or cold spoon, compress, or electronic gadget, or maybe even just a piece of tape.
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9 Health Benefits of Cucumbers PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin, and watermelon (the Cucurbitaceae family). Like watermelon, cucumbers are made up of mostly (95 percent) water, which means eating them on a hot summer day can help you stay hydrated.

However, there's reason to eat cucumbers all year long. With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.

Plus, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.

9 Reasons to Eat Cucumbers

1. Protect Your Brain

Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that appears to play an important role in brain health. In addition to improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline,1 fisetin has been found to prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in mice with Alzheimer's disease.2

2. Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Cucumbers contain polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), which may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.3 They also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties. According to the George Mateljan Foundation:4

"Scientists have already determined that several different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins."

3. Fight Inflammation

Cucumbers may help to "cool" the inflammatory response in your body, and animal studies suggest that cucumber extract helps reduce unwanted inflammation, in part by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes (including cyclo-oxygenase 2, or COX-2).5

4. Antioxidant Properties

Cucumbers contain numerous antioxidants, including the well-known vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol,6 which provide additional benefits.

For instance, quercetin is an antioxidant that many believe prevents histamine release—making quercetin-rich foods "natural antihistamines." Kaempferol, meanwhile, may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.

5. Freshen Your Breath

Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. According to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.7

6. Manage Stress

Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress.

7. Support Your Digestive Health

Cucumbers are rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fiber. If you struggle with acid reflux, you should know that drinking water can help suppress acute symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily raising stomach pH; it's possible that water-rich cucumbers may have a similar effect.

Cucumber skins contain insoluble fiber, which helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.

8. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Cucumbers are very low in calories, yet they make a filling snack (one cup of sliced cucumber contains just 16 calories).8 The soluble fiber in cucumbers dissolves into a gel-like texture in your gut, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber-rich foods may help with weight control.

9. Support Heart Health

Cucumbers contain potassium, which is associated with lower blood pressure levels. A proper balance of potassium both inside and outside your cells is crucial for your body to function properly.

As an electrolyte, potassium is a positive charged ion that must maintain a certain concentration (about 30 times higher inside than outside your cells) in order to carry out its functions, which includes interacting with sodium to help control nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and heart function.

Cucumbers Make a Great Base for Vegetable Juice

There are many ways to enjoy cucumbers, such as fermented or raw in vinegar-based salads. If you're looking for something different, cucumbers make an ideal base for your vegetable juice due to their mild flavor and high water content. In fact, a simple juice of cucumber and celery is ideal for those new to juicing.

From there you can work your way up to red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, and escarole, along with parsley and cilantro. Juicing is actually an ideal way to consume cucumbers.

When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without having to be broken down. When your body has an abundance of the nutrients it needs, and your pH is optimally balanced, you will feel energized and your immune system will get a boost.

Organic Cucumbers Are Worth It

If you're wondering whether you should choose organic cucumbers over conventionally grown varieties, I'd suggest organic. Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Further, cucumbers are often waxed after harvest to withstand the long journey to market unscarred and to protect against the many hands that touch it. While the wax is supposed to be food-grade and safe, there are different types used:9

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

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

The other potential issue is that wax seals in pesticide residues and debris, making them even more difficult to remove with just water. To reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your vegetables and fruits, you need a cleanser that also removes the wax, which is what my fruit and vegetable wash does. You could also peel the cucumber, but that is one of the most nutrient-dense parts of the cucumber (the other is the seeds), so it's better to consume it if you can.

What Else Are Cucumbers Good For?

Flavonoids and tannins in cucumbers have been found to have both free-radical scavenging and pain-relieving effects, while it has a number of traditional folk uses as well. As written in the Journal of Young Pharmacists:10 "Traditionally, this plant is used for headaches; the seeds are cooling and diuretic, the fruit juice of this plant is used as a nutritive and as a demulcent in anti-acne lotions."

As the fourth-most widely cultivated "vegetable" in the world (cucumbers are technically a fruit), cucumbers are widely available, but seek to get them from a local farmer's market if you can. Even better, cucumbers are very easy to grow, even if you only have access to a patio. They thrive in containers (provide they have somewhere to climb on) and produce ample produce from a small number of plants, so you could try your hand at growing them yourself.

Visit Our Food Facts Library for Empowering Nutrition Information

If you want to learn even more about what's in the food you're eating, visit our Food Facts library. Most people are not aware of the wealth of nutrients available in healthful foods, particularly organic fruits and vegetables. By getting to know your food, you can make informed decisions about how to eat healthier and thereby boost your brain function, lower your risk of chronic disease, lose weight, and much more.

Food Facts is a directory of the most highly recommended health foods to add to your wholesome diet. Its purpose is to provide you with valuable information about various types of foods including recipes to help you maximize these benefits. You'll learn about nutrition facts, scientific studies, and even interesting trivia about each food in the Food Facts library. Remember, knowing what's in your food is the first step to choosing and preparing nutritious meals each and every day. So visit Mercola Food Facts today to get started.

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Why Your Brain Needs a Garden PDF Print E-mail

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.

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Vitamin D for Depression, Dementia, and Diabetes PDF Print E-mail

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]

Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder6 (SAD), and in 2007, researchers noted that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression and fibromyalgia.7

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. 

vitamin d levels
Sources

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.

Donate Today!

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."

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Are You Allergic to Rain? PDF Print E-mail

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
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Yelling

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.
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Should You Worry About an Ebola Outbreak in the US? PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

For the third time in the history of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the agency has raised its level of emergency alertness to "Level 1"—this time in response to the Ebola virus, following outbreaks in West Africa.

CDC Level 1 emergency response, reserved for the most dire health emergencies, was declared for the first time in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, and again in 2009 for the H1N1 influenza outbreak.1

On August 8, the World Health Organization (WHO) also declared the Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency.2

The outbreak began late last year. Affected areas include Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. At the time of this writing, of the 1,711 people infected 932 have died in these three areas. Nine people have also been diagnosed with the disease in Nigeria.3

While the death rate for Ebola can be upwards of 90 percent, the current outbreak has a death rate of about 55 percent.4

Two American aid workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, have contracted the disease, and have been flown back for treatment in the US, aboard a specially-equipped plane. At least one of the victims is being treated at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.5, 6

What Is Ebola?

The Ebola virus7 was first discovered in 1976 when an outbreak occurred in Sudan. So far, five subtypes have been identified:

  1. Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV), identified in 1976, is thought to be the most virulent
  2. Sudan ebolavirus, (SEBOV)
  3. Ivory Coast ebolavirus (ICEBOV)
  4. Ebola-Reston (REBOV), isolated from monkeys in the Philippines in 1989. In 2009, this variant was thought to have been transferred from pigs to humans
  5. Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BEBOV). The first outbreak of this virus occurred in the Bundibugyo District, Uganda, in 2007.8 The virus was deposited with the CDC in November 2007, and was patented in 2009.9 It is the most closely related to the ICEBOV strain, but it's more virulent

The current outbreak involves Zaire ebolavirus, which produces symptoms within six to 16 days of infection. The virus leads to severe immunosuppression, but most deaths are attributed to dehydration caused by gastric problems. Early signs of infection include:

  • Non-specific flu-like symptoms
  • Sudden onset of fever, diarrhea, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, and abdominal pains
  • Other, less common symptoms include sore throat, rashes, and bleeding

As the infection sets in, shock, cerebral edema (fluid on the brain), coagulation disorders, and secondary bacterial infections may occur. Hemorrhaging tends to begin four to five days after onset of the initial symptoms, which includes bleeding in the throat, gums, lips, and vagina. Vomiting blood, excreting tar-like feces indicative of gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver and/or multi-organ failure can also occur.

How Ebola Spreads

According to Fabian Leendertz, an epidemiologist and disease ecologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, the West African outbreak is spreading via contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. Those at greatest risk are women caring for sick relatives, those handling the dead, and health care workers.

However, he notes that Ebola doesn't spread as easily as most people might think. Again, person-to-person transmission requires close personal contact with an infected individual or their body fluids during the late stages of infection, or after death.10

Leendertz recently told Science News11 that "even if an infected person were to hop on a plane and fly to the United States, Europe, or elsewhere, tight health care measures would ensure that Ebola will never get far."

Researchers have also confirmed that Ebola is not airborne. Like HIV/AIDS, the Ebola virus requires contact with bodily fluids of an infected person.

Interestingly, the Ebola virus is inactivated by UV radiation.12 It certainly isn't the first time sunlight has been shown to be beneficial in the fight against disease, although bacteria appears to be more susceptible to UV radiation than viruses.

Additionally, regular sun exposure will help optimize your vitamin D, which is crucial for overall robust immune function. Americans in particular may want to take that advice to heart, seeing how most are vitamin D deficient and therefore more open to infections of all kinds.

Where Did the Ebola Virus Come from?

Potential hosts of the Ebola virus include humans, various monkey species, chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons, duikers (a type of African antelope), two species of rodents, one species of shrew, and three species of fruit bats. The current outbreak in West Africa is thought to originate from either bats or primates.

This is a Flash-based audio and may not be playable on mobile devices.

In a recent NPR interview,13 David Quammen, author of Spillover, a book that traces the evolution of viruses that move from animals to people, said:

"[T]here's a group of diseases, called zoonotic diseases, which pass from nonhuman animals into humans. And spillover is the moment when a new virus has the opportunity to leap from a bat, monkey or rodent into its first human victim. We're pretty sure that's what happened with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa...

We don't know where Ebola lives permanently — its so-called reservoir host. A reservoir is the animal in which a pathogen or virus lives inconspicuously, without causing symptoms...

There was one Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was suspected that the first case involved contact with a big fruit bat. There were some large, migratory fruit bats roosting along the river in this area.

One man in particular bought a bat at a market and carried it home. Then, I believe, the infection passed from him to his daughter. There was a strong, but not definite, implication that the killing of fruit bats, and the selling and buying of them in the market, is what triggered an outbreak."

Fast-Tracked Ebola Vaccines Moving Into Human Trials

A number of vaccines are in the works, with human trials already underway. One human trial is set to begin in September.14 According to Newsweek:15

"Once phase 1 testing is completed in January [2015], Fauci expects phase 2 will be conducted on both American and African populations. 'If it proves to be safe, you expand the trial,' he says. 'All of that, the second phase, takes several months. You need to scale up production of the virus.'

From there, if the vaccine is successful in both US and African populations, it may skip the third phase of trials and go directly to Africa. According to Fauci, the earliest this might happen is 'sometime before the end of 2015'—a timetable he describes as 'lightning speed.'"

According to Biotechnology Focus,16 Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation already began a Phase 1 human clinical trial of a drug called TKM-Ebola back in January. This drug is being developed under a $140 million contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD). (Monsanto has also invested in Tekmira, which is a developer of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics.17) In 2013, the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center at Vanderbilt University also received a $4.4 million grant from the US DoD for Ebola vaccine development and other Ebola treatments.18 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also been working on an Ebola vaccine for more than a decade.

Debate Grows Over Use of Experimental, Untested Drugs

A debate is now growing over the use of experimental drugs to combat the Ebola outbreak. As noted by WebMD,19 an experimental treatment called ZMapp, formulated in January, is based on genetically engineered tobacco leaves. The drug is a joint venture between Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Kentucky Bioprocessing, and is being developed in collaboration with LeafBio of San Diego, Defyrus Inc. of Canada, the US government, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.20

The two American aid workers who contracted Ebola both received this drug, despite the fact that it's only been tested in monkeys. The scientists working on the drug haven't even published the initial findings of their research, and the drug has not gone through the FDA drug approval process yet.

"Making the serum is slow, in part, because the plants must be grown for several weeks before they are 'infected' with a type of protein. 'Basically the plants act like a photocopier of the proteins,' WebMD explains.21  Once they're infected... it takes a week for the plants to make enough of the protein to harvest and distill into a useable drug... [T]he compound... is a combination of three antibodies that are thought to help in two ways.

One of the antibodies alerts the immune system to infected cells so they can be destroyed... the other two antibodies probably prevent the virus from making more copies of itself. 'We're still trying to figure out exactly how it works,' [Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., professor of immunology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA] says. 'But it seems to neutralize the virus.'"

Dr. Kent Brantly is said to have recovered after receiving the drug, Thomas Geisbert, MD, professor of infectious disease at The University of Texas Galveston Medical Branch, who has studied the Ebola virus for more than 25 years, urges everyone to be cautious about interpreting the effect of the drug. It may or may not have had anything to do with Brantly's recovery. There are still many unanswered questions about the safety and efficacy of this genetically engineered plant-vaccine. As noted by Dr. Ollmann above, they don't even understand how it works yet! It should come as no surprise then that they have no idea what the side effects might be...

Such worries are not foremost on the mind of investors in companies creating Ebola drugs however. As noted by NPR:22 "Interest in drugs that might be used to treat Ebola virus has hit a fever pitch, but the buzz isn't simply about fear of Ebola, or about saving lives in poor nations of West Africa. It's also about money... [Tekmira] trades on the stock market, so—no surprise—there's a fair amount of chatter online by investors pumping up the prospects of the putative Ebola drug and hoping to make a buck." According to Time Magazine,23 the price of Tekmira stock shot up by 45 percent once the company announced the FDA approved limited use of the drug in already infected Ebola patients.

'New Drugs Are Not the Answer to Ebola,' Infectious Diseases Expert Says

Meanwhile, common-sense basics like hygiene, nutrition, vitamin D, and intravenous vitamin C are overlooked. Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD recently published an article24 addressing potential Ebola remedies, noting that vitamin C may be of particular importance:

"To date, not a single virus has been tested that is not inactivated (killed) by a large enough dose of vitamin C (ascorbic acid)... A primary way in which vitamin C destroys viruses, or sets them up for destruction by the immune system, is by activating the 'Fenton reaction.' In a nutshell, this reaction can proceed inside the virus, inside cells in which viruses are replicating, and on the surfaces of the viruses themselves.

The result of this reaction that is stimulated by the presence of vitamin C, one or more transition metal cations, and the local presence of peroxide is the immediate production of hydroxyl radicals. These radicals are the most reactive oxidizing agents ever identified. As such, they radically upregulate oxidative stress and end up destroying whatever is in their immediate environment."

I've also interviewed Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized expert on vitamin C, about its benefits in serious cases of H1N1 infection. According to Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the most powerful tool against Ebola is basic medical care.25

"The real area of focus... should be setting up medical infrastructure in the affected countries to provide sick people with basic medical support such as replacement fluids and blood. That will have a much bigger effect on health than a few batches of experimental medications," he told USA Today.26  

There's really no reason to suspect that Ebola would actually become a major threat in the US, as airborne transmission is unlikely.27 But scaring Americans is undoubtedly a profitable venture...

Fear-Mongering Is a Lucrative Business

The Ebola panic is very reminiscent of the 2005 bird flu hoax, and the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) scare—another Level 1 "emergency" that turned out to be grossly hyped to promote the sales of unnecessary vaccines that turned out to be riddled with horrible side effects, including the devastating sleeping disorder, narcolepsy.

In 2005, President Bush made the public prediction that two million Americans might die from the bird flu. Similar predictions were issued in 2006, 2007, and again in 2008. Those fears were exposed as little more than a cruel hoax, designed to instill fear, and line the pocketbooks of various individuals and industry. I became so convinced by the evidence AGAINST the possibility of a bird flu pandemic that I wrote a New York Times bestselling book, The Bird Flu Hoax, revealing the massive fraud involved with the epidemic that never actually happened.

Then, in 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned its 194 member nations to expect up to 1/3 of the world's population to be infected with the swine flu (H1N1). Massive amounts of casualties were again predicted; dangerous vaccines were fast-tracked, and antiviral drugs later shown to be useless were stockpiled. The antiviral flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza were found to shorten duration of symptoms by less than a day, and had no effect on the number of hospitalizations. One British study concluded that Tamiflu drugs given for the swine flu was "a waste of £500 million," as it did nothing to halt the spread of influenza.28, 29, 30 According to The Telegraph:31

"The review, authored by Oxford University, claims that Roche, the drug's Swiss manufacturer, gave a 'false impression' of its effectiveness and accuses the company of 'sloppy science.' The study found that Tamiflu, which was given to 240,000 people in the UK at a rate of 1,000 a week, has been linked to suicides of children in Japan and suggested that, far from easing flu symptoms, it could actually worsen them."

In reality, the 2009 flu season turned out to be far milder than average, despite the H1N1 variant of the influenza virus being in circulation. An explosive CBS News investigation published in October 2009 clearly showed that the vast majority of "swine flu cases" were not even influenza at all, let alone H1N1. Rather, based on lab testing, the vast majority of people who reported flu-like symptoms actually had some other type of cold or upper respiratory infection.

Now, health officials warn that an Ebola outbreak in the US is just "one airline passenger away." While theoretically plausible, panic should be tempered by the fact that the American medical system is far better equipped to contain a non-airborne virus like Ebola, compared to West Africa. According to Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,32 it would be "extraordinarily unlikely that it will be an outbreak at all because of the way we take care of people, how we have the capability of isolating them, how we understand what one needs to do to protect the health care providers and the kinds of health care facilities we have."

Why Does the CDC Promote Unreasonable Fear and Panic?

The fact is, the CDC is trumping up the fear factor, while simultaneously downplaying its own role in potentially creating a devastating outbreak through its own negligence. Mere weeks ago, the CDC was found to have accidentally released two dangerous pathogens: anthrax and H5N1 avian influenza. Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, head of the CDC, recently issued a report that admits to sloppy work ethics at the lab.33 If you ask me, we should probably be more afraid of what the CDC does with the Ebola virus than anything...

The CDC promoted and was intimately involved with the film Contagion, which was in part filmed at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, GA.34 In the summer of 2011, the agency again gave a nod to Hollywood, creating a Zombie Preparedness Campaign;35, 36 ostensibly to bring awareness to pandemic, hurricane, earthquake, and other disaster preparedness.

Promoting Fear to Further Financially-Driven Agendas

As I've discussed many times previously, there are tremendous hazards inherent with fast-tracking vaccines. By their very definition, fast-tracked vaccines are those that have received very little safety testing prior to being used, and US regulations already place ALL the risk on the public receiving the vaccine, regardless of whether the vaccine is mandated or voluntary. Vaccine makers can more or less create a lethal vaccine and get away scot free at this point; they're that well-protected against liability for adverse events of pandemic vaccines.

The PREP Act removes your right to a trial jury unless you can provide clear evidence of willful misconduct that resulted in death or serious physical injury. But that's not all. But first you must apply for and be granted permission to sue by the DHHS Secretary. The most problematic aspect of the PREP Act is that it removes all financial incentive to make a safe product. In fact, vaccine makers now have a negative incentive to test it for safety, because if they are aware of problems, then they could potentially be held liable for willful misconduct!

As long as they can prove they "didn't know" of any problem, they will not be liable for damages. Hence, it's in their best interest to know as little as possible about the adverse reactions it might cause. It seems unimaginable, but under these pandemic conditions, you and your children are little more than unpaid human trial subjects for experimental, fast-tracked vaccines (and other pandemic drugs).

For the most part, most all of the conventional media portrays the entire vaccine process as something heroic and vital to the health of our culture, and they will be reluctant to ever promote any news that contradicts this belief. But as recent history shows, the GREATEST danger could actually be the CDC and other bioterror labs.

I believe we need to consider the financial motives behind the promotion of pandemics and the vaccines that go along with them. It is vital for you to carefully research ALL sides of the vaccine issue and not merely trust federal public health authorities, most physicians, and the media, as they are largely influenced by massive conflict of interest and collusion. Seek other independent and objective views like those at NVIC before you make any important decisions about deciding to vaccinate.

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Good News: Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Paleo Diet Hits the Mainstream PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

My book, The No Grain Diet, was published in 2003 and my clinical recommendation included eliminating gluten as a first line intervention before I would fine tune a patient’s diet.

It’s taken well over a decade, but the Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Paleo (GFLCP), which is essentially the same kind of high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet I’ve been promoting, is now hitting the mainstream. Gluten-free diets are also becoming widely recognized.

For those with celiac disease, avoiding gluten is vital, but physicians are also starting to recognize that many have some sort of gluten intolerance, and fare better on a gluten-free diet.

Now, the US Food Administration (FDA) will start to crack down on food manufacturers misusing the gluten-free label, which is good news for those trying to avoid gluten.

Four years ago, I warned that many food products bearing the gluten-free label were in fact contaminated with sometimes high amounts of gluten. In one study, even naturally gluten-free products tested positive to gluten, courtesy of cross-contamination during processing.

New Gluten-Free Labeling Standard Is Now in Force

In August 2013, the FDA issued a standard for gluten-free labeling, requiring any product bearing the label to contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. As reported by CNN1 at the time:

“The new regulation is targeted to help the estimated 3 million Americans who have celiac disease, a chronic inflammatory auto-immune disorder that can affect the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and crossbreeds of these grassy grains.

‘Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating celiac disease...’ said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg... ‘The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health.’"

According to the rule, in order for a food to bear the label “gluten-free” it must be:

  • Naturally gluten-free
  • Any gluten-containing grains must have been refined in such a way to remove the gluten. The final product may not contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten

Naturally gluten-free grains include rice, corn (just make sure it’s non-GMO), quinoa, sorghum, soy (which I don't recommend eating for other reasons), flax, and amaranth seed. The following foods may NOT use the gluten-free label:

  • Foods containing whole gluten-containing grains
  • Foods made with gluten-containing grains (such as wheat, rye, barley, or any their derivatives) that are refined but still contain gluten
  • Foods that contain 20 parts per million of gluten or more as a result of cross-contact with gluten containing grains

Most People Can Benefit from Avoiding Grains

The deadline for compliance was August 5, 2014.2, 3 You may still find some products manufactured before the deadline that may not conform to this standard, however.

The gluten-free labeling standard should make it much easier to comply with a gluten-free diet, whether you’re suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity or not.

Celiac disease is really just one of several autoimmune disorders that can be significantly improved by avoiding grains. The autoimmune thyroid disease known as Hashimoto’s is another disorder where gluten avoidance is very important.

There’s also compelling evidence that high-grain diets fuel Alzheimer’s disease, and that avoiding gluten can help prevent and treat this devastating brain disorder. Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter’s book Grain Brain goes into this in detail.

Similarly, if you want to avoid heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or even cancer, you'd also want to severely limit your grain consumption, or avoid grains entirely. The reason for this is because grains and sugars are inherently pro-inflammatory and will worsen any condition that has chronic inflammation at its root.

In my experience, about 75-80 percent of ALL people benefit from avoiding grains, even whole sprouted grains, whether you have a gluten intolerance or not. The ONLY carbohydrates your body really needs are vegetable carbs. All sugar/fructose and all grains, including the "healthful" ones, will tend to raise your insulin levels, which is a detriment to your health.

Low-Carb Paleo and Ketogenic Diets Embraced by Athletes

I’m quite pleased to see that the high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet I’ve been recommending is now being embraced by a number of athletes. This eating plan is in stark contrast to traditional carb- and protein-loading.

The idea behind carb-loading is to saturate yourself with carbs so your muscles will have plenty of glycogen to go on while you exercise. This can work well for really fit athletes that have an intense workout regimen.

However, I believe it is totally inappropriate for the vast majority of non-athletes that exercise casually. There’s also compelling reasons for professional athletes to rethink carb-loading, for the fact that high-fat, low-carb diets provide more long-lasting fuel and has an overall better impact on metabolism.

Athletic superstars like NBA players LeBron James and Ray Allen claim to have switched to a low-carb diet with beneficial results.4

Other athletes jumping onto the high-fat, low-carb diet include Ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson, pro cyclist Dave Zabriskie, and ultra-marathoner Timothy Olson. Former Ironman triathlete Ben Greenfield is said to have followed a ketogenic diet while training for the 2013 Ironman World Championships.

“After switching to a ketogenic diet, Ben experienced improved stamina, stable blood sugar, better sleep, and less brain fog,” the featured article5 states. “Greenfield, author of Beyond Training, no longer follows the ketogenic diet, but advocates consuming plenty of healthy fats.”

Ironman Triathlete: High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet with High Intensity Training Is a Winning Combination

Former Ironman triathlete Mark Sisson is another tremendously fit athlete who has reportedly improved his athletic performance, body composition, and energy levels after ditching carb-loading for a high-fat, low-carb, Paleo style diet. He subsequently went on to write the popular book, The Primal Blueprint.

Even more interesting, he reports getting fitter on this diet while simultaneously exercising less. As I’ve discussed on many occasions, high intensity interval training can cut your workout routine down from an hour to about 20 minutes, three times a week, without any reduction in efficacy. On the contrary, you can reap better fitness results by exercising this way, and that’s exactly what Sisson experienced as well.

High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet Benefits Pediatric Epilepsy and Cancer Recovery

High-fat, low-carb ketogenic diets are also well-recognized in certain fields of medicine. For example, children with epilepsy are frequently prescribed a ketogenic diet to control their seizures when medications are ineffective.6 The ketogenic diet benefits your brain by making your brain cells burn ketones (which are byproducts of fat burning) instead of sugar. According to epileptologist Ahsan Moosa Naduvil Valappil, MD:7

“[The ketogenic diet is] based on a ratio of fat to carbohydrates and proteins. A normal diet contains a 0.3:1 fat-to-carb and protein ratio, but the classical ketogenic diet is based on a 3 or 4:1 ratio… This means that the diet includes 3-4 grams of fat per 1 gram of protein and carbohydrate... Research has shown that more than 50 percent of the children with epilepsy who eat this diet can have their number of seizures cut in half. About 10-15 percent of children will stop having seizures... Fats like butter, heavy whipping cream and olive oil are recommended. Carbohydrates are strictly limited.”8

Ketogenic diets may also be key for cancer recovery. All of your body's cells are fueled by glucose. This includes cancer cells. However, cancer cells have one built-in fatal flaw – they do not have the metabolic flexibility of your regular cells and cannot adapt to use ketone bodies for fuel as all your other cells can. So, when you alter your diet and become what's known as "fat-adapted," your body starts using fat for fuel rather than carbs. When you switch out the carbs for healthy fats, you starve the cancer out, as you're no longer supplying the necessary fuel – glucose – for their growth.

The Benefits of Mimicking the Life of Our Ancient Ancestors

During the Paleolithic period many thousands of years ago, people ate primarily vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots, and meat. These foods form the basis of the Paleo diet, although there are slight variations of it. Unfortunately, many Paleo diets recommend switching the carbs for protein rather than fat, which can have detrimental consequences. I’ll discuss this more below. Today, these staple foods have been largely replaced with refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cereal, bread, potatoes, and pasteurized milk products. This processed food diet has promoted the rise of a wide array of chronic and debilitating diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Going back to basics and refocusing your diet on fresh, whole, unprocessed, "real" food is foundational for optimizing your health and addressing just about any health condition. You can easily mold your diet around the principles of Paleo eating by following my nutrition plan. Episodes of intermittent fasting may also be important, as our ancestors clearly did not have access to food on a 24/7 basis like we do today. I believe it to be one of the most profound interventions for the 21st century. While my nutrition plan goes into many details, as a general rule I advocate eating a diet that is:

  • High in healthy fats. Many will benefit from 50-85 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fat from avocados, organic grass-fed butter, pastured egg yolks, coconut oil, and raw nuts such as macadamia, pecans, and pine nuts
  • Moderate amounts of high-quality protein from organically raised, grass-fed or pastured animals. Most will likely not need more than 40 to 70 grams of protein per day, for the reasons I’ll discuss below
  • Unrestricted amounts of fresh vegetables, ideally organic

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Your body needs protein for bone and muscle maintenance and for the creation of hormones, among other things. However, you do need to be careful to not consume too much. The average American consumes anywhere from three to five times as much protein as they need for optimal health. I believe very few people will need more than one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Those that are aggressively exercising or competing and pregnant women should have about 25 percent more, but most people rarely need more than 40-70 grams of protein a day.

To determine your lean body mass, find out your percent body fat and subtract from 100. This means that if you have 20 percent body fat, you have 80 percent lean body mass. Just multiply that by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos.

The rationale behind limiting your protein is this: when you consume protein in levels higher than recommended above, you tend to activate the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which can help you get large muscles but may also increase your risk of cancer. There is research suggesting that the "mTOR gene" is a significant regulator of the aging process, and suppressing this gene may be linked to longer life. Generally speaking, as far as eating for optimal health goes, most people are simply consuming a combination of too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat.

It is particularly important though to make sure you increase your protein intake by 25 percent when you are working out with strength training. Your body will need the additional amino acids to build muscle tissue.  

Translating Ideal Protein Requirements Into Foods

To determine whether you’re getting too much protein, simply calculate your lean body mass as described above, then write down everything you’re eating for a few days, and calculate the amount of daily protein from all sources. Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.

Again, you’re aiming for one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, which would place most people in the range of 40 to 70 grams of protein per day. If you’re currently averaging a lot more than that, adjust downward accordingly. You could use the chart below or simply Google the food you want to know and you will quickly find the grams of protein in the food.

Red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood average 6-9 grams of protein per ounce.

An ideal amount for most people would be a 3-ounce serving of meat or seafood (not 9- or 12-ounce steaks!), which will provide about 18-27 grams of protein
Eggs contain about 6-8 grams of protein per egg. So an omelet made from two eggs would give you about 12-16 grams of protein.

If you add cheese, you need to calculate that protein in as well (check the label of your cheese)
Seeds and nuts contain on average 4-8 grams of protein per quarter cupCooked beans average about 7-8 grams per half cup
Cooked grains average 5-7 grams per cupMost vegetables contain about 1-2 grams of protein per ounce

Take Control of Your Health with a Health-Promoting Diet and Exercise

I recommend minimal to no consumption of grains and sugars in my Food Pyramid for Optimal Health, which summarizes the nutritional guidelines espoused in my Nutrition Plan. Again, most people would benefit from getting at least 50 percent of your daily calories from healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, nuts, and raw butter until they are able to burn fats as their primary fuel and have no evidence of insulin/leptin resistance. In terms of bulk or quantity, vegetables would be the most prominent feature on your plate.

They provide countless critical nutrients, while being sparse on calories. Next comes high-quality proteins, followed by a moderate amount of fruits, and lastly, at the very top, you’ll find grains and sugars. This last top tier of sugars and grains can be eliminated entirely. Another tremendous benefit is that once your body has successfully switched over from burning carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel, carb cravings tend to disappear as if by magic. To summarize, there are two primary ways to achieve this metabolic switch, and these strategies support each other when combined:

  • A high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet: This type of diet, in which you replace carbs with low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of beneficial fat, is what I recommend for everyone. This kind of diet is very helpful for normalizing weight and resolving insulin/leptin resistance.
  • Intermittent fasting: There are many reasons to intermittently fast. In my view, it’s one of the most effective ways to normalize your insulin and leptin sensitivity and shed excess weight, which is foundational for optimal health and disease prevention. You can boost your results further by exercising in a fasted state.
  • Besides turning you into an efficient fat burner, intermittent fasting can also boost your level of human growth hormone (aka the “fitness hormone”). High intensity interval training will do this as well. Intermittent fasting can also improve your brain function by boosting production of the protein BDNF, which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and triggers other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and helps protect your neuro-muscular system from degradation.

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Eat More Baked Fish PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Fish is often described as “brain food,” and that is largely because it contains omega-3 fats. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an omega-3 fat, is an essential structural component of your brain.

Approximately 60 percent of your brain is composed of fats — 25 percent of which is DHA. DHA is found in high levels in your neurons – the cells of your central nervous system, where it provides structural support.

Low DHA levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease, and since your body cannot produce omega-3 on its own, you must get it from your daily diet. DHA-rich foods include fish, liver, and brain, so it’s easy to know why (in the US, at least) fish is the preferred dietary source.

Eating Baked Fish May Improve Your Memory

A new study has added further support for adding more fish to your diet, although there are some important caveats to consider. The study found people who consumed baked (or broiled) fish at least once a week had more grey matter in their brain.

Specifically, compared to those who didn’t consume fish on a regular basis, regular fish eaters had 14 percent greater grey-matter volume in the area responsible for cognition and more than 4 percent greater volume in the area responsible for memory.1

The DHA molecule has unique structural properties that provide optimal conditions for a wide range of cell membrane functions, and grey matter is a particularly membrane-rich tissue.

Eating fried fish did not lead to this benefit, which isn’t surprising since carefully choosing your cooking methods, and your cooking oils, can make or break your meal from a nutritional standpoint.

Past research has also found that while eating baked and broiled fish improves heart health, eating fried fish increases heart failure risk.2 This is likely due to the trans fats and oxidized aldehydes in fried fish, which are not only linked to heart damage but also to brain damage (including brain shrinkage linked to Alzheimer’s disease).

While both broiled and baked fish were linked to better brain function, I would suggest sticking with baking (particularly at lower temperatures). I don’t generally recommend broiling, since high-temperature cooking (grilling, broiling, barbecuing, and frying) can lead to the formation of cancer-causing substances like heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in your food.

One surprising element to the study was that there was no association found between blood levels of omega-3s and brain benefits, which suggests there may have been other brain-boosting lifestyle factors at play in the frequent fish eaters.

Perhaps their diets were healthier in other respects as well. Still, the research speaks for itself when it comes to the health benefits of omega-3 fats, including for your brain.

Your Brain May Degenerate Without Enough Omega-3 Fats

The introduction of high-quality, easily digested nutrients from seafood into the human diet coincided with the rapid expansion of grey matter in the cerebral cortex -- a defining characteristic of the modern human brain.

Research is showing that degenerative conditions can not only be prevented but also potentially reversed with omega-3 fats. For example, in one study, 485 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 milligrams (mg) of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared with controls.3

Another study found significant improvement in verbal fluency scores after taking 800 mg of DHA per day for four months compared with placebo.4 Furthermore, memory and rate of learning were significantly improved when DHA was combined with 12 mg of lutein per day.

Interestingly, research suggests that the unsaturated fatty acid composition of normal brain tissue is age-specific, which could imply that the older you get, the greater your need for animal-based omega-3 fat to prevent mental decline and brain degeneration.

Still, omega-3s are also incredibly important for brain health during development, both in utero and during childhood. One study of 8- to 10-year-old boys looked at how DHA supplementation might affect functional cortical activity, and the results were quite impressive.

The data indicated that there were significant increases in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of the brain in the groups receiving supplemental DHA. This is an area of your brain that is associated with working memory.

They also noticed changes in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (the visual processing center) and the cerebellar cortex (which plays a role in motor control).5 Of course, the overall health benefits of omega-3 fats go far beyond brain health.

Omega-3 deficiency is believed to be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year! Yes, this deficiency was recently revealed as the sixth biggest killer of Americans, so taking this recommendation to heart could prove to be lifesaving.

Omega-3 Fats Might Help Your Brain Heal and ‘Preserve’ Your Brain in Old Age

It appears there is virtually no area of brain health left untouched by omega-3s. After a traumatic injury, the brain inflammation that occurs can continue for long periods of time unless, as leading omega-3 expert Dr. Barry Sears stated, "there's a second response that turns it off." Fish oil, it appears, can help do just that, when given in sufficiently high doses.

You can read about one remarkable case of omega-3 fats for healing brain injury here. Another study, published in the journal Neurology, reported that "older women with the highest levels of omega-3 fats… had better preservation of their brain as they aged than those with the lowest levels, which might mean they would maintain better brain function for an extra year or two."6

The researchers assessed the omega-3 fat levels in the red blood cells (RBCs) of more than 1,100 women then, eight years later, their brain volumes were measured using an MRI scan.

The women whose omega-3 levels were the highest—7.5 percent—at the outset of the study had 0.7 percent larger brain volume. Their hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory formation, was also 2.7 percent larger.

The researchers summarized their findings stating that "we did not find an association between RBC DHA + EPA levels and age-associated cognitive decline in a cohort of older, dementia-free women." However, their findings do suggest that omega-3 can be helpful in slowing down age-related brain atrophy. The study’s lead author also indicated that previous studies have shown eating non-fried oily fish twice a week and taking fish oil supplements can raise your mean red blood cell level of EPA and DHA to 7.5 percent—the same level as the women with the highest omega-3 levels had in his study.

Is Fish a Good Source of Omega-3 Fat?

It can be. Interestingly enough, and fortunately for us, the types of fish that tend to suffer the least amount of toxic contamination also happen to be some of the best sources of fat and antioxidants. So, by choosing wisely, the benefits of a diet high in fish can still outweigh the risks of contamination. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals that wind up in the environment. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, one being wild-caught Alaskan salmon. I eat about three ounces of Wild Alaskan salmon every other day or so.

The risk of authentic wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years. Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn’t feed on other, already contaminated, fish. You will want to avoid farm-raised salmon (and other types of farm-raised fish), which are notorious for being heavily contaminated (and disastrous for the environment).

Not only that, but farmed salmon may contain only about half of the omega-3 of wild salmon. Other fish with short life cycles also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, so it’s a win-win situation – lower contamination risk and higher nutritional value. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated. This includes:

  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Herring

Sardines, in particular, are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats, with one serving containing more than 50 percent of your recommended daily value.7 They also contain a wealth of other nutrients, from vitamin B12 and selenium to protein, calcium, and choline, making them one of the best dietary sources of animal-based omega-3s. If you eat fish frequently and want to take precautions, you can also do what I do: whenever I eat fish, I eat it with chlorella tablets. The chlorella is a potent mercury binder and if taken with fish will help bind the mercury before your body can absorb it, so it can be safely excreted in your stool.

Fish Oil Versus Krill Oil: What’s the Difference?

You’re probably aware that if you don’t eat a lot of fish, you can supplement your diet with omega-3 fats with fish oil. Less widely known is that you can also get your omega-3s from krill oil, and it may, in fact, be preferable to do so. A helpful form of plant-based omega-3 can also be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, but the most beneficial form of omega-3 (animal-based) -- containing two fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which are essential to fighting and preventing both physical and mental disease -- can only be found in fish and krill.

Why might you be better off with krill? The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it, and it won't cause belching or burping like many other fish oil products. Additionally, it contains almost 50 times more astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, than fish oil. This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue. In laboratory tests, krill oil remained undamaged after being exposed to a steady flow of oxygen for 190 hours. Compare that to fish oil, which went rancid after just one hour. That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage compared to fish oil!

When purchasing krill oil, you'll want to read the label and check the amount of astaxanthin it contains. The more the better, but anything above 0.2 mg per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity. To learn more about the benefits of krill oil versus fish oil, please see my interview with Dr. Rudi Moerck, a drug industry insider and an expert on omega-3 fats. If you don’t eat fish regularly, a krill oil supplement is one of the few supplements I recommend to virtually everybody. If you prefer to get your omega-3s from your diet, then be sure you’re eating sardines, anchovies, herring, and/or wild-caught salmon on a regular basis.

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More Pesticides Coming to Our Food PDF Print E-mail

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.

Donate 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.

Traitor Brands

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
IZZEPepsiCo
Naked JuicePepsiCo
Simply Frito-LayPepsiCo
Starbucks FrappuccinoPepsiCo
Honest TeaCoca-Cola
OdwallaCoca-Cola
Gerber OrganicNestle
Sweet Leaf teaNestle
Boca BurgersKraft/Mondelez
Green and Black'sKraft/Mondelez
Cascadian FarmGeneral Mills
LarabarGeneral Mills
Muir GlenGeneral Mills
AlexiaConAgra
Pam organic cooking spraysConAgra
Bear NakedKelloggs
GardenburgerKelloggs
KashiKelloggs
Morningstar FarmsKelloggs
Plum OrganicsCampbells
Wolfgang Puck organic soupsCampbells
RW KnudsenSmuckers
Santa Cruz OrganicSmuckers
Smuckers OrganicSmuckers
DagobaHersheys
Earthgrain breadBimbo Bakeries
Simply AsiaMcCormick
Thai KitchenMcCormick

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:

  1. 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
  2. Buy most of your foods from your local farmer's market and/or organic farm
  3. Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
  4. 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
  5. Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles
  6. 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
  7. Become an avid label reader. If a GMA member company owns the product, no matter what it is, don't buy it
  8. 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
  9. 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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This Doctor Changed His Life with Intermittent Fasting and High Intensity Exercise—You Can Too PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Is there such a thing as a fast diet? Dr. Michael Mosley, a physician like me, wrote a best-selling book on this subject, aptly called The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, which answers that question.

As a journalist for BBC in the UK, Dr. Mosley has really helped popularize one of the most powerful medical interventions I’ve ever encountered for helping people normalize their weight, namely intermittent fasting.

I’ve previously featured some of his TV documentaries on intermittent fasting and high intensity exercise in this newsletter. In those programs, Dr. Mosley reveals his own health journey, showing how he went from being overweight, diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol, to regaining his health.

“My doctor wanted to start me on drugs. But I said, ‘I want to see if there’s something better and alternative out there,’” he says. “I started exploring, and came across intermittent fasting...

I ended up testing all sorts of different forms of fasting, including alternate-day fasting. Eventually, I came up with something that I called the 5:2 Diet, which is really counting calories two days a week and eating normally the other five days.

I stuck to that for about three months. During that period, I lost about 20 pounds of fat, my body fat went down from 28 percent to 20 percent, and my blood glucose went back to normal.

That was two years ago and it stayed completely normal since... I have to say it’s been absolutely life-changing.”

Different Types of Fasting Regimens

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers an array of different fasting schedules. As a general rule however, intermittent fasting involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily, as in the case of the scheduled eating regimen I use myself.

In his explorations, Dr. Mosley tried a number of these different approaches, including a five-day fast, alternate day fasting (promoted by Dr. Krista Varady), and the 5:2 fast.

The five-day fast was very effective in that he lost weight and improved some of his biomarkers. But it was quite difficult to go a full five days without nearly any food whatsoever. The alternate day fasting also worked, but he found it to be a bit inconvenient.

“And then I came across some work done in England by Dr. Michelle Harvie, which was [fasting] two days a week. I thought, ‘I can handle two days a week.’ In a way, I kind of combined a number of different techniques together and ended up with the 5:2 plan.

One of my inspirations was the Prophet Muhammad because he had told his followers they all need to fast on a monthly basis for Ramadan but also cut your calories two days a week – Mondays and Thursdays. That’s what I did.

I’m not a very religious person, but I do believe that great religions have a lot to teach us, whether it is mindful meditation or indeed some of the benefits of fasting. I think the reason that these ideas persist is there is something very profound about them.”

On the 5:2 plan, you cut your food down to one-fourth of your normal daily calories on fasting days (about 600 calories for men and about 500 for women), along with plenty of water and tea. On the other five days of the week, you can eat normally.

Yet another version of intermittent fasting, and the one I personally recommend for most people who are overweight, is to simply restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight-hour window. It is more aggressive and, as a result, people will see results sooner.

I too have experimented with different types of scheduled eating for the past three years, and this is my personal preference as it’s really easy to comply with once your body has shifted over from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel.

It is important to note that this is not a permanent eating program and once your insulin resistance improves and you are normal weight, you can start eating more food as you will have reestablished your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.

Intermittent Fasting Actually CURBS Your Hunger

Many are hesitant to try fasting as they fear they’ll be ravenously hungry all the time. But one of the most incredible side effects of intermittent fasting that I’ve found is the disappearance of hunger and sugar cravings.

I’m a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and have studied nutrition for over 30 years, and I’d never personally encountered or experienced hunger cravings just disappearing like they did when I implemented intermittent fasting.

Dr. Mosley had the same experience once he began fasting. Others have also contacted him saying they’re astonished to realize that hunger no longer dominates their lives; they’re back in control. Now, you get hungry because your body needs fuel. But the vast majority of people in the world, certainly in the developed world, are eating foods that severely inhibit their ability to produce lipase and use fat as an energy source. Lipase is inhibited because of high insulin levels, and your insulin rises in response to eating foods high in carbohydrates.

“Absolutely. I think we’re just beginning to discover what insulin is capable of –not just in managing blood glucose but also in managing fat deposition and probably its link with cancer and dementia. I think we’re just beginning to grasp just how important it is,” Dr. Mosley says. When fasting, I recommend paying attention not only to the timing of your meals but also the quality of the food you eat. I believe it's important to eat a diet that is:

  • High in healthy fats. Many will benefit from 50-85 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fat from avocados, organic grass-fed butter, pastured egg yolks, coconut oil, and raw nuts such as macadamia, pecans, and pine nuts
  • Moderate amounts of high-quality protein from organically raised, grass-fed or pastured animals. Most will likely not need more than 40 to 70 grams of protein per day
  • Unrestricted amounts of fresh vegetables, ideally organic

Dr. Mosley on Intermittent Exercise

Dr. Mosley is also a proponent of high intensity interval training (HIIT), and recently finished a new book called Fast Exercise.

“The reason I got into high-intensity exercise (and this was three years ago) was because I was making a documentary for the BBC called The Truth About ExerciseI met a professor and he said, ‘I can give you many of the benefits of exercise for just a few minutes a week.’ I didn’t believe him. I did the program; it changed my life.”

After that, he began looking into the science behind it, again discovering that there’s a huge body of science showing the benefits of HIIT. Dr. Mosley has also started doing a form of high intensity weight training, which is like the strength-training equivalent of HIIT, based on research he found from the University of Texas. But there’s also another piece of the fitness puzzle that many are still unaware of, and that is the importance of avoiding sitting. When I first started seeing the studies showing that even fit people had an increased risk of dying if they sat for long periods of time, I couldn’t believe it.

I researched it and eventually came across Dr. Joan Vernikos, who’s a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research scientist. She wrote the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals. She really drove home the point of how important it is to engage in intermittent non-exercise movement throughout the day. As it turns out, your body needs to interact with gravity in order to function properly.

Ideally, you shouldn’t sit down for more than 15 minutes or so at a time. Personally, I set a timer to go off every 15 minutes. Once I got used to the routine of standing up several times an hour, I started adding some simple exercises to it. I’ve compiled a list of 30 videos for ideas about what you can do when you stand up, to maximize your benefits.

“I’m familiar with the work of Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Institute. He’s been shouting, ‘The chair is a killer!’ for a good 10 years now,” Dr. Mosley says. “I met him first about 10 years ago. He had very compelling evidence that you should get off your bottom and move around every 20 minutes or so, even if it’s only for a minute, and that being sedentary is itself a killer. It doesn’t matter if you go to the gym. You’re not going to undo 13 hours of sitting.”

Intermittent Fasting Benefits Your Brain

There’s exciting research indicating that intermittent fasting can have a very beneficial impact on your brain function, too. It may even hold the key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

“What really impressed me is when I went to the National Institutes on Aging and I met Dr. Mark Mattson. He’s got these genetically engineered mice. They’ve been genetically engineered so they will develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. Normally they’ll develop dementia around a year, which is the equivalent of about 40 or 50 in humans.

But when he put them on an intermittent fasting diet – alternate-day fasting diet in fact – they developed it at around two years, which is equivalent to being 90. When he put them on a junk diet, a junk food diet, they developed it at about nine months.

When he looked into their brains, he discovered that the ones who had been on intermittent fasting diet have grown 40 percent new brain cells particularly in the area associated with memory. He identified this thing called BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which seems to be driving those changes and also protecting the brains. He’s doing this big study in humans at the moment to see if the same thing happens with fasting humans.”

Mattson’s research suggests that fasting every other day (restricting your meal on fasting days to about 600 calories) tends to boost BDNF by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region. BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

BDNF also expresses itself in the neuro-muscular system where it protects neuro-motors from degradation. (The neuromotor is the most critical element in your muscle. Without the neuromotor, your muscle is like an engine without ignition. Neuro-motor degradation is part of the process that explains age-related muscle atrophy.) So BDNF is actively involved in both your muscles and your brain, and this cross-connection, if you will, appears to be a major part of the explanation for why a physical workout can have such a beneficial impact on your brain tissue — and why the combination of intermittent fasting with high intensity exercise appears to be a particularly potent combination.

Eating Like Our Ancestors Helps Optimize Biological Function

One of the arguments for intermittent fasting is that it mimics the way our ancestors ate. They didn’t have access to food 24/7, and underwent alternating intervals of “feast and famine.” The human body is adapted to this, and research shows that abstaining from food now and then actually optimizes biological function all-around.

“We know, for example, that it’s only in the periods when you don’t have food that your body goes into a sort of repair mode, because most of the time it’s going flat out. Your body’s really only interested in procreating, growing cells, always going on and on. But when you go without food for 12 to 14 hours, your body starts to think, ‘Well, let’s do a little bit of repair now.’ Some of the proteins get denatured. New ones get created. Your mitochondria cells originate. There’s a lot of fundamental biochemistry, which completely validates this argument,” Dr. Mosley says.

“As Dr. Mark Mattson said to me, in terms of the brain work, the time when you need to be smart is not when you have food. Because if you’re in a cave and you’ve got food, you reach out and grab it. You don’t have to be clever. The time you have to be smart is when you don’t have food. Because then you’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get out, you’ve got a plan, you’ve got to remember where you left the food before or where you found the berries, and how to hunt. It’s actually being without food that makes you smarter.”

Optimizing your brain function is yet another amazing benefit of applying these two powerful approaches – intermittent fasting and intermittent exercise. You’re actually able to think clearer, get more done, and be far more efficient. It’s a phenomenal side effect of following this type of program.

“At the moment, I’m in contact with a group in Ireland who are doing research trying to combine the two approaches, because as far as I know, it hasn’t been properly tested together. I believe that together it’s going to be much more powerful than separately. It would be nice to have this sort of scientific basis for that [recommendation].”

Finding an Eating Schedule That Works

There are many reasons to implement an intermittent fasting schedule. Adding high intensity interval training and making sure you stand up at regular intervals (several times per hour) can go a long way toward eliminating not only unwanted weight, but also metabolic syndrome and most chronic disease—including heart disease and dementia.

Dr. Mosley and I have both had bouts of diabetes, and close family members have struggled with it as well. Both of us were able to completely reverse our diabetes and regain normal insulin and leptin sensitivity through diet, intermittent fasting, and exercise. Type 2 diabetes is basically 100 percent curable, but you have to give it a sincere effort, and not quit after a few days.

If you struggle with food cravings, especially sugar, know that once you make this shift to burning fat instead of sugar as your body’s primary fuel, your hunger for unhealthy foods will vanish, and you will not have to exert enormous amounts of self-discipline to resist unhealthy foods any longer. You will be back in control!

Perhaps best of all, intermittent fasting is not something you have to do non-stop for the rest of your life. I believe that most who are insulin/leptin resistant would benefit from doing it continuously until the resistance resolves. However, once your weight is ideal, and you have no high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol ratios, or diabetes, then you can have more meals until or unless the insulin/leptin resistance returns.

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Health News Reports

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Should You Go Vegetarian to Control Your Blood Pressure?:     According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure is "the second greatest public health threat" in the US, and about half of all with hyperten...
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