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Lower eccentric hamstring strength and single leg hop for distance predict hamstring injury in PETE students
Buy Article: $51.63 plus tax (Refund Policy)       Abstract: Hamstring injuries have not been under research in physical education teacher education (PETE) students so far. Within the frame of the development
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Why more sleep could help you shed pounds 26 May 2015, 17.17 Medical
Why more sleep could help you shed pounds
May 21, 2015, 8:13 AM|If you're trying to drop a few pounds, you might want to spend more time sleeping. Clinical psychologist and sleep medicine specialist Michael Breus joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss how your sleep
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Jump-start your built-in detox system with a natural cleanse
May 22, 2015, 8:14 AM|Juicing, cleansing and fad diets may not be the best way to re-boot your body. Samantha Heller, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and author of "The Only Cleanse: A 14-day Natural Detox Plan to
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Nitazoxanide: A first-in-class broad-spectrum antiviral agent
Nitazoxanide: A first-in-class broad-spectrum antiviral agent   JavaScript is disabled on your browser.Please enable JavaScript to use all the features on this page. JavaScript is disabled on your browser.
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Pre-clinical curriculum complaint corner. 26 December 2014, 02.49 Medical
Pre-clinical curriculum complaint corner.
RustedFox said: ↑ The "old guard" administrators will either embrace change or die. Eventually.When you say (copy/paste, sorry): "After all, if you could master the preclinical years via podcasts, why couldn't the system be
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Waveform capnography 26 December 2014, 02.49 Medical
Waveform capnography
We do waveform capnography on every patient that gets conscious sedation (Nasal cannula) and continuous monitoring on ALL intubated patients in the hospital. I am at a community/academic hospital on the south side of Chicago,
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Viagra and heart disease 19 October 2014, 22.24 Medical
Viagra and heart disease
October 20, 2014 Viagra could be used as an effective treatment in men with early stage heart failure and cardiac hypertrophy according to a new study. Italian researchers analysed data from 24 clinical trials to assess
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Distinguishing Bipolar Disorder From Other Psychiatric Disorders in Children
October 2014, 16:516 Date: 15 Oct 2014 Rent the article at a discount Rent now * Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT. Get Access Abstract Pediatric onset bipolar disorder (BD) is a challenging
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Tapping in Times Square 08 October 2014, 23.44 Medical
Tapping in Times Square
October 7, 2014, 5:03 AM|Nick Ortner, best-selling author of "The Tapping Solution," claims that tapping, also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), can help calm the body in times of stress or crisis. He teaches us
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Obama Considers Tighter Ebola Screening for Travelers From West Africa
Tighter Ebola Screening Considered for Travelers And calls on other nations to do more to help control the deadly epidemic WebMD News from HealthDay By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter MONDAY, Oct. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News)
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In Liberia and U.S., Precautions for Two Ebola Workers
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS September 27, 2014 MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s chief medical officer is placing herself under quarantine for 21 days after her office assistant died of Ebola. Bernice Dahn, a deputy
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Future perspective of probiotics in dermatology: an old wine in new bottle.
Probiotics are live microbial food supplements that are beneficial to the host health when administered in adequate amounts. Probiotics do have an exciting concept in digestive functions, but these live microbes have wider
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Pump Up: Ablation Reverses Poor LV Function in Atrial FibPump Up: Ablation Reverses Poor LV Function in Atrial Fib
LAS VEGAS, NV — Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) climbed and symptoms vastly improved, on average, in patients initially with atrial fibrillation (AF) and LVEF
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Understanding Today’s Trends in Healthcare and the Clinical Laboratory and Pathology Testing Marketplace
Category: Coding, Billing, and Collections, Compliance, Legal, and Malpractice, Digital Pathology, Laboratory Management and Operations, Laboratory News, Laboratory Operations, Laboratory Pathology, Managed Care Contracts &
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Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptors in the brain: controlling food intake and
          body weight
A subscription is required for you to read this article in full. If you are a subscriber, you may sign in to continue reading. Already have an account? Click here to sign into your account. Don't have an account? Click here
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The arcuate nucleus mediates GLP-1 receptor agonist liraglutide-dependent weight loss
Article tools Author information Related Video Need help? J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI75276. Copyright © 2014, The American Society for Clinical Investigation. Research Article Anna Secher1, Jacob Jelsing2,
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New gene mutations for Wilms tumor found 06 September 2014, 20.26 Medical
New gene mutations for Wilms tumor found
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Medical Center, Dallas, have made significant progress in defining new genetic causes of Wilms tumor, a type of
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China Bribery Probe: GSK Manager Charged with Corruption; Concerned Pharma Executives May Leave China
The Chinese bribery allegations against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have taken a scary turn for pharmaceutical executives working abroad. According to Chinese authorities, Glaxo's employees engaged in a bribery scheme with doctors
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7 Stunning Ways Life Was Different in the 1960s 06 September 2014, 20.26 Medical
7 Stunning Ways Life Was Different in the 1960s
The 1960s has great cachet. The decade earned it with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and big-time advances in civil rights, women's rights, and more. But wow, did that decade begin in a dim place. Here are just a few of the
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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
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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
Read More 539 Hits 0 Ratings
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,
Read More 570 Hits 0 Ratings
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
Read More 915 Hits 0 Ratings
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
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Change The World!

Latest Published Articles



Ice Cream, We All Scream PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

In the last year, three people have died and 10 more have become ill due to listeria bacteria in Blue Bell ice cream products. Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries is the fourth largest ice cream maker in the US.

Earlier this month, the company pulled all of its products from store shelves after listeria was found in tests of its half-gallon ice cream containers. Just days later, a second US ice cream maker, Jeni's, also recalled all of its ice creams, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches from the market, and temporarily closed all of its shops.

Their recall was also due to possible listeria contamination, which was found in a sample tested by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Consuming food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes can lead to a foodborne illness called listeriosis.

In healthy people, the illness is generally mild and causes stomach symptoms, but it can be serious and even deadly for pregnant women and fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Ironically, this is also the disease the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) often uses as its "poster child" in its warnings against drinking raw milk, but this actually deflects from the fact that people are dying from listeria found in other commonly eaten foods – like pasteurized ice cream.

Evidence of Listeria Found at Blue Bell Plants as Early as 2010

The fact that people have died from eating ice cream becomes all the more tragic because Blue Bell Creameries found strong evidence of listeria at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma plant back in 2013 – but did not improve its sanitation efforts as a result.1

According to findings released by the FDA, tests at the plant indicated a "presumptive positive" for listeria after the bacteria was found on non-food-contact surfaces, including floors and pallets used to store ingredients.

You would think such findings would prompt the company to test food areas and the ice cream itself for contamination, but such tests were reportedly not conducted. Seattle attorney and food safety expert Bill Marler told the Chronicle:2

"That's as bad as it gets… You're just not doing what you're supposed to do… It's almost like they were looking for it in areas that if they found it there they didn't get in much trouble… They just didn't look for it in areas where the risk to the consumer was the highest."

Water condensation was also found to be dripping into sherbet containers during production and may have contaminated ice cream mix. Testing conducted by Blue Bell also revealed levels of coliform bacteria in 2014 that exceeded those allowed by Oklahoma. Marler continued:3

"When you look at coliform and listeria for the Broken Arrow plant you have a systemic cleaning problem that goes on for years… You know you have a problem."

According to Blue Bell's website, they were also notified by the CDC in 2015 that the DNA fingerprint from the listeria found in Blue Bell products was linked to cases of listeriosis dating back to 2010.4

Where Are the Calls to Ban Pasteurized Ice Cream?

An entire section of the FDA website is devoted to warning Americans about the "dangers" of raw milk. There it states that more than 1,500 people in the US became sick from raw milk from 1993 to 2006.5 This is just over 115 people per year, on average… in a country were 9 million people get sick from foodborne illness annually.6

As for deaths linked to raw milk, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long claimed that between 1998 and 2008 there were two deaths from raw milk. In 2012, Mark McAfee, the owner of Organic Pasture Dairy, challenged these claims and sought more details from the CDC, which he only got after he threatened to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

It turns out those deaths weren't caused by anyone drinking raw milk from US farms… they were caused by a form of cheese that isn't legal under current FDA regulations, called queso fresco. McAfee wrote the following in 2012:

"I submitted a FOIA request to the CDC to request data on the two deaths that the CDC database claims were from raw milk. The data I received back from the CDC showed that in fact there had been no death from raw milk at all.

The two deaths had been from illegal Mexican bathtub cheese and not raw milk from any place in America. Why does the CDC persist in publishing this erroneous information?

If the CDC is a scientific organization and not a data spinning, twisting arm of Big Ag dairy processors, processors that hate raw milk because they lose control over markets when farmers connect directly to consumers with clean raw milk, I would urge you to correct the data that is posted at your raw milk website and include the correct data.

There have been no deaths from raw milk or even raw milk products in America from an American source of raw milk. That is the data that the CDC gave me."

Deaths from Raw Milk: 0… Deaths from Ice Cream: 3

So we have raw milk, a product that has caused no deaths since 1998… and pasteurized ice cream, which caused three deaths in the last year. No one is even suggesting that pasteurized ice cream be banned from sale, or that Blue Bell Creameries, which has a history of ignoring contamination at its plants, be shut down.

But the sale of raw milk continues to be illegal across much of the US, while the government continues to target peaceful raw milk farmers producing a safe, healthy food for people who want it.

Outrageously, aggressive armed raids by federal agents against Amish raw milk farmers are not uncommon. Raw milk isn't the only food on the chopping block, either. Raw milk cheeses and heritage-breed pigs are also being targeted, and there's no telling what other small-farm, niche foods may be next. Meanwhile, other foods are killing and sickening millions.

Which Foods Have Caused the Most Recent Listeria Outbreaks?

According to the CDC, 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths due to listeriosis occur every year in the US. Aside from pasteurized ice cream, what other foods are responsible for the most recent listeria outbreaks? You'll notice raw milk is nowhere on this list. According to CDC data:7

  • 2011: Whole cantaloupes were responsible for 147 illnesses, 33 deaths, and one miscarriage. This was the largest listeriosis outbreak in US history.
  • 2012: Pasteurized Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese sickened 22 people, and four deaths occurred.
  • 2013: Three types of pasteurized cheese made by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company of Waterloo, Wisconsin sickened six people, with one death reported.
  • 2014: Pasteurized cheese products made by Roos Foods have sickened eight people with one death reported.

Other foods found with listeria contamination in 2014 and 2015 include pre-packaged caramel apples, organic and conventional spinach, and hummus. A 2011 study also revealed deli meats to be the most risky choice, as ready-to-eat foods like these can become contaminated after cooking during the packaging process.8

According to the 2011 report, the risks associated with deli meats from the supermarket deli are five times higher than prepackaged deli meats. Raw vegetables are also a potential source of contamination, as are other meats.

A report produced by the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), a partnership of the US Department of Agriculture, the FDA, and the CDC, also revealed which foods are most likely to make you sick… and CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) beef and vegetables (often contaminated by CAFO pollution) were the top sources of foodborne illness.9

You Can Get Sick from Eating Virtually Any Food

Of the 9 million people who get sick from eating food each year, 55,000 are hospitalized and 1,000 will die.10 These are the estimates from IFSAC, which are actually far lower than those given by the CDC in 2011. According to those estimates, the problem is far worse with 48 million people being sickened by foodborne diseases each year, including 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.11 According to the IFSAC report, certain foods cause so many illnesses each year that shopping at your supermarket is like playing a game of Russian roulette. It's possible to get sick from eating a cheeseburger, a bowl of salad, or a slice of cantaloupe.

And, yes, it's possible to get sick from drinking raw milk, too, but it's less of a risk than is posed by many other foods, particularly if you use a high-quality source. Research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD even showed you are about 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk!12 So why is raw milk being singled out, especially when it hasn't been linked to a single death in nearly a decade?

Government agencies have painted the picture that if you go to a farm and purchase high-quality farm-fresh milk (i.e. raw milk), you're walking away with a food that is crawling in dangerous bacteria. The way they make it sound, you'd think you could get sick just by looking at it. But I'd take my chances on the farm any day.

The fact is, the majority of foods that are making people sick are coming not from small organic farms selling raw-milk products… they're coming from CAFOs and the mega-companies that use their products, like Blue Bell. Yet, despite the fact that people have died, there is no consumer outrage calling for all pasteurized ice cream to be removed from shelves. There are no armed raids going down at the ice-cream plants, either, to seize the contaminated goods.

Join the Fight for Food Freedom

The fight over raw milk stands as a symbol of the much larger fight for food freedom. Who gets to decide what you eat? You? Or the FDA? If the FDA and other government agencies are allowed to impose their view of "safe food" on consumers, raw milk won't be the only thing lost—all food will be pasteurized, irradiated, and genetically engineered.

The effort to reclaim our right to buy and consume raw milk is leading the way for everyone who wants to be able to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice. So please, get involved! I urge you to get involved with the following action plan to protect your right to choose your own foods:

  1. Get informed: Visit www.farmtoconsumer.org or click here to sign up for action alerts. To review the raw milk laws in your state, see the Farm-to-Consumer.org's Raw Milk Nation page.
  2. Join the fight for your rights: The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) is the only organization of its kind. This 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization provides a legal defense for farmers who are being pursued by the government for distributing foods directly to consumers. Your donations, although not tax deductible, will be used to support the litigation, legislative, and lobbying efforts of the FTCLDF.
  3. Support your local farmers: Getting your raw milk from a local organic farm or co-op is one of the best ways to ensure you're getting high-quality milk. You can locate a raw milk source near you at the Campaign for Real Milk Website. California residents can find raw milk retailers by using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

As with all foods, the source matters, and this is just as true with raw milk as any other food. If you're interested in raw milk, here are tips for finding high-quality raw milk sources.

How to Minimize Your Risk of Foodborne Illness

Sometimes, foodborne illness may be inevitable, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk. This includes commonsense measures like washing your hands and sanitizing counters/cutting boards after handling potentially contaminated foods, rinsing fruits and vegetables before eating, and storing foods at the proper temperature.

One important factor impacting whether your food is "safe" isn't total storage time, but rather how much time it spends in the temperature "danger zone" (between 40-120 degrees Fahrenheit).13 You'll want to avoid leaving your groceries in a hot car for too long, for instance, as this will generally promote foodborne illness.

It's important to keep in mind that the potential for foodborne illness applies to ANY food, and where it comes from is probably the greatest indicator of whether it's likely to be safe or contaminated. So ultimately the key to making sure that any food you eat is safe is to get it from a high-quality source. I can't stress the importance of this enough.

When you get your produce from small farmers that raise their food in natural settings using clean water, as opposed to massive agribusiness conglomerations that use sewage sludge as fertilizer, there is very little risk in eating these foods raw. The same goes for meat, eggs, and raw dairy products, as well.

I also suggest browsing through my Sustainable Agriculture resource page to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of safe, high-quality food. Not only are these sources likely to raise food in more sanitary conditions than a CAFO, but there's a better chance that it will also be locally grown. The closer you are to the source of your food, the fewer hands it has to pass through and the less time it will sit in storage -- so the better, and likely safer, it will be for you and your family.

Finally, along with the practical precautions mentioned above, lowering your chances of becoming ill from food poisoning also involves keeping your immune system healthy by following these five steps to boost your immune system health.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Sorting Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

There’s so much confusion regarding health information in the media. How do you determine which advice to follow and what to take with a grain of salt? Dr. Malcolm Kendrick wrote the book Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense to help you answer that question.

His fabulous book will teach you how to identify common research flaws and help you sift through misleading and meaningless data. An important resource if you are a serious student of health.

Dr. Kendrick has also written The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth about What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It, which is another great book. Like me, he’s a trained family doctor whose journey led him to abandon much of what’s promoted in conventional medicine.

“The first time it really hit home, I was at a conference in Gleneagles... At that meeting the results of the first ever trial on treating mild to moderate hypertension came out.

Prior to that, no one has done a study. It was done in the UK under the Medical Research Council. When the results came out, there was great fanfare.

But once I teased out all the figures... it worked out that the total number of deaths from stroke and heart disease in the placebo group was 124, and in the treatment group, it was 124. I thought, ‘Well, nothing happened. This was a complete waste of time...’

I realized that basically, research, data, facts, and figures seem to have no effect on some people. I think that was when I suddenly thought, ‘Hold on, this is nonsense.’”

Quite often, this kind of “nonsense” is a manipulation effect designed by the people who funded or put these studies together. Over the past decade, Dr. Kendrick has developed 10 tools the average person can use to help identify the truth in any given study.

The book is an important tool that teaches you how to tear apart any study promoted in the media as a breakthrough. The reality is most of the time it isn’t, and the book will explain how you can make that determination yourself.

Correlation Does Not Prove Causation

A basic tenet of science is that correlation does not imply or prove causation. This is one of Dr. Kendrick’s 10 principles. It’s a common mistake to get excited about associations that in reality frequently amount to nothing.

“People will look at a group of people, studying what they eat and do over many years. Then they say, ‘Oh, look, they drink red wine and they don’t get heart disease.’ They immediately come out and say, 'Red wine protects you against heart disease.’

I always go, ‘No. It could mean that. But what it probably means is that people who drink red wine may be better off; maybe they’re more educated, maybe they exercise, maybe they eat vegetables as well, maybe they don’t smoke, or maybe they do a hundred of other things.’

Even though it’s something highly correlated... it doesn’t mean it is [causative].”

On the other side of this coin, lack of association disproves causation.

“We have studies like that,” Dr. Kendrick says. “There’s a huge study in Austria of 150,000 people, which showed that the higher your cholesterol level was, the longer you lived. And the lower your cholesterol level was, the shorter you lived. These [findings] don’t see the light of day. They are published, but silenced...”

Many Times They Just Make Stuff Up

While it’s hard to comprehend, some health recommendations are completely fabricated and are not based in any science. Dr. Kendrick wrote about this in a recent article for The Independent:1

“If you are a man, it has virtually become gospel that drinking more than 21 units of alcohol a week is damaging to your health. But where did the evidence to support this well-known ‘fact’ come from?

The answer may surprise you. According to Richard Smith, a former editor of the British Medical Journal, the level for safe drinking was ‘plucked out of the air.’

He was on a Royal College of Physicians team that helped produce the guidelines in 1987. He told The Times newspaper that the committee's epidemiologist had conceded that there was no data about safe limits available and that ‘it's impossible to say what's safe and what isn't.’

Smith said the drinking limits were ‘not based on any firm evidence at all,’ but were an ‘intelligent guess.’ In time, the intelligent guess becomes an undisputed fact.”

According to Dr. Kendrick, the linear model for blood pressure—which states the higher your blood pressure is, in a linear fashion, the greater your risk of dying—was also made up.

Ditto for recommended cholesterol levels, and healthy versus unhealthy obesity levels. Believe it or not, none of these are based on real data. The recommendation to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables is equally made up, yet recommendations such as these become set in stone.

People believe it must be based on solid evidence and therefore true. One of the most impressive comments he made in the interview is: “Don’t believe it. They just made it up.”

Absolute Risk versus Relative Risk, and Number Needed to Treat

Absolute risk versus relative risk can be used to make something sound far worse than it really is, or conversely, make something appear better than it is. Most doctors even struggle to understand what these two terms actually mean. Dr. Kendrick explains absolute versus relative risk with the following example:

“You get 100 people and you put them on a blood pressure-lowering medication, and you get 100 people and put them on a placebo. After a year, two people have died in the placebo group; one person has died in the blood pressure-lowering group.

That’s an absolute difference of one percent [one out of 100], and a relative difference of one death versus two; that’s 50 percent.

Now, take 1,000 people and do the same. In the thousand-people group, one person dies in the blood pressure arm and two people die in the placebo arm. The difference is absolute: It’s 0.1 percent. The relative risk difference is one versus two—it’s 50 percent...

When it comes to things like statins, which they say reduces the risk of heart disease by 40 percent, you say, ‘What was the underlying risk? Was it one in 10,000, one in two, one in a million?’ Unless you know that, the statistic is meaningless. I think relative risk should never be mentioned in any clinical study. It should be absolute risk all the time. [Relative risk] is the standard, and it shouldn’t be because it’s just ridiculous.”

Overall Mortality versus Specific Cause of Death

Another way medical findings can be twisted is by focusing on the prevention of specific causes of death. For example, a study might claim that a cholesterol-lowering drug reduces the risk of dying from heart disease, but the people in the study may have died in greater numbers from other health problems instead. Naturally, you cannot die from heart disease if you die from another disease first. As a result, some research ends up forming the basis for health recommendations that actually do more harm than good.

“It’s the overall mortality you have to look at—ALL causes of possible death. What was the impact? When you look at, say, alcohol consumption, it increases the risk of mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer... But when you look at the overall figures, it reduces the overall mortality risk. So you can take all of these things, add them together, and basically ignore them on the basis that you’re going to have to die of something,” Dr. Kendrick says.

Another perfect example is sun exposure.

“Dermatologists have taken over the world on sun exposure and said, ‘Oh, people are getting skin cancer so you must never allow a photon go straight to your skin.’ To which I say, I’ve seen studies where women who have higher sun exposure are 50 percent less likely to get breast cancer.

Men who have higher rates of sun exposure have are 50 percent less likely to get aggressive prostate cancer. Men and women who have higher rates of sun exposure are 75 percent less likely to get colorectal cancer... Frankly, the research I’ve looked at says sun exposure protects against malignant melanoma; it doesn’t cause it. Therefore the whole thing is a crock.”

Sun exposure also protects against heart disease, improves bone strength, reduces osteoporosis, and reduces your chance of developing multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Does it raise your risk of deadly skin cancer? If you get burned, yes, it may, but the overall health benefits FAR outweigh the potentially elevated risk of melanoma. Part of the problem is you cannot see that which does not happen.

If you tan and get melanoma, your dermatologist will tell you it’s your fault for not following his recommendations to stay out of the sun. But if you never come down with colorectal cancer, no one will pat you on the back and say, “Great job! You successfully avoided cancer because you spent so much time in the sun.”

Longest Running Study in the World Refutes Conventional ‘Facts’

One of the examples in Dr. Kendrick’s book is the Framingham Study, which was one of the longest studies ever done in the world. It has been going on for about seven decades. One of the conclusions reached was that people whose cholesterol was reduced by one millimole per liter, which equates to about 40 milligram per deciliter, raised their risk of dying of heart disease in the next 14 years by 500 percent.

Falling cholesterol was determined to be the most important risk factor for heart disease mortality in this study, yet this finding has received virtually no publicity, as it runs contrary to conventional recommendations to lower your cholesterol to prevent heart disease. They also discovered that the more saturated fat people ate, the lower their cholesterol level was during the length of the study. This too is completely contrary to conventional recommendations to avoid saturated fat because it raises your cholesterol.

Mammography is another area where science and “conventional wisdom” is often at odds. Dr. Peter C. Gotzsche, a professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis, and director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, wrote an excellent book on this subject called Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies, and Controversy. After studying it for years, he came to the conclusion that mammography probably does more harm than good.

The Cochrane Collaboration, by the way, is a worldwide effort of researchers who have no industry connections, who collaborate to review and evaluate available evidence on any given topic and then come to a conclusion. The Cochrane Database the gold standard for objective, impartial, non-biased meta-reviews.

Non-Disclosure of Negative Data and Other Shenanigans

Other common tactics of misdirection include the non-disclosure of negative studies and good old-fashioned conflicts of interest. As noted by Dr. Kendrick: “In the States, they have the non-disclosure of negative data on antidepressants. They only publish positive studies, and the negative ones aren’t published. You then have a bias of infinity. There are hundreds of these things that go on.”

His book also addresses the now infamous revolving door between the government and the drug industry. One classic example is Julie Gerberding, who headed up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—an agency charged with overseeing vaccines and drug companies—for a number of years before becoming the president of Merck’s vaccine division.

If you don't see the enormity of the influence her former high-level ties to the CDC can have, just consider the fact that Merck makes 14 of the 17 pediatric vaccines recommended by the CDC, and 9 of the 10 recommended for adults, and while vaccine safety advocates are trying to rein in the number of vaccines given to babies, safety concerns keep falling on deaf ears.

“You should be banned forever from working with the industry if you’re in the position of authority making decisions about drugs and medications,” Dr. Kendrick says. “If we have to get opinion leaders and experts, people running studies, that’s fine. You can do that if you like. But you cannot then sit on the guideline committee.

You cannot be the person who says, ‘This is how we’ll be treating X.’ Look at the cholesterol-lowering guidelines. How many conflicts of interest are there? Last time I looked at the guidelines made in 2004, there were 107 conflicts of interest, 70 directly with statin manufacturing companies. How can this be? This is nonsense.”

More Information

Anyone who’s a serious student of health needs a copy of Dr. Kendrick’s book, Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense, in their library. It goes into far more details than we’ve covered in this interview. It’s definitively eye-opening, and will empower you to make sounder choices for you and your family when it comes to your health and lifestyle.

It is an important tool to help you take control of your health and avoid deception by the media and drug companies. You don’t have to be fooled by drug industry manipulation once you know some of the tricks they use. Dr. Kendrick also has a blog, DrMalcolmKendrick.org, where he discusses this and other health-related topics.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
See How Quickly Eating Organic Can Rid Your Body of Pesticides PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

In order to qualify as organic, a product must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity. Crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

In this way, when you eat organic what the food doesn't contain is just as important as what it does. This is especially true when it comes to pesticides. You might have wondered just how much a difference eating organic actually makes. Is it worth the (sometimes) higher price or the effort it may take to seek out mostly organic food?

Research conducted by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute found out just that. You can get the gist of the study by watching the video above. According to Coop Sverige, which commissioned the study:1

"We wanted to know more about what happens in the body when switching from conventional to organic food. The result was so interesting that we made a film to share with the masses. We want to inspire more people to eat organic – we think it's good for both people and the environment."

Just Two Weeks of Eating Organic May Significantly Lower Pesticide Levels in Your Body

The study was refreshingly straightforward. A family of five, which included three children, typically ate mostly conventional, non-organically grown food. For the study, the family continued eating only conventionally grown food for one week.

They then switched to an entirely organic diet, which they followed for two weeks. Urine samples from all the family members were taken throughout the course of the study and analyzed for their pesticide content. After just two weeks of eating organic, pesticide levels declined significantly. According to the report:2

"The results of the survey clearly show that some pesticides are absorbed into the body through diet. By choosing organic products, it is possible by and large to avoid the consumption of these chemicals through food.

Compared with the period when the family consumed conventionally grown food, the concentrations of pesticide residues decreased on average by a factor of 6.7 when the family ate organic food.

The children in particular had lower concentrations during the period of organic food consumption. Levels of most, but not all tested pesticides fell in the adults."

Earlier this year, a separate study published in Environmental Health Perspectives came to similar conclusions.3 It looked at the diets of nearly 4,500 people living in six US cities, assessing exposure levels to organophosphates (OPs), which are among the most commonly used insecticides on US farms.

Not surprisingly, those who ate conventionally grown produce were found to have high concentrations of OP metabolites, whereas those who ate organic produce had significantly lower levels. Those who "often or always" ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce. According to lead author Cynthia Curl:

"If you tell me what you typically eat, I can tell you how high your pesticide exposure is likely to be. The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference."

Pesticide Levels Detected Below Allowable Limits… But Does This Equate with Safety?

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) insists pesticide residues on food are no cause for concern. More than half of all foods tested last year had detectable levels of pesticide residues, but most, the USDA claims, are within the "safe" range.

In the featured study, the researchers also pointed out that even when the family was eating conventionally grown food, their pesticide levels fell below the acceptable daily intake (ADI), which suggests it would pose no risk to their health. However, this assumption misses out on a key factor: cumulative exposure. According to the report:4

"The concentrations measured in the urine show that although pesticides are present in the body, the levels are low and, when converted, are estimated to be below the ADI value (acceptable daily intake) by a good margin. The ADI value is the maximum quantity of a substance that a person can consume daily throughout his or her lifetime without this posing any risk to their health.

It is therefore unlikely that a single substance would pose any risk to humans. That said, the system currently used for risk assessing chemicals is suitable only for one substance at a time.

There is, therefore, no approved method for making an overall assessment of the effect of multiple chemicals simultaneously (i.e. combination effects, popularly known as the 'cocktail effect'). There is an awareness that this is a major shortcoming."

The USDA's assurances of safety are also lacking, as the Department does not test for one of the most pervasive and most harmful agricultural chemicals of all, namely glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. As reported by Reuters:5

"As has been the case with past analyses, the USDA said it did not test this past year for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide and the world's most widely used herbicide.

A USDA spokesman who asked not to be quoted said that the test measures required for glyphosate are 'extremely expensive... to do on a regular basis...'

…Many genetically modified crops can be sprayed directly with glyphosate, and some consumer and health groups fear glyphosate residues in foods are harmful to human health, even though the government says the pesticide is considered safe."

What Are the Real Health Risks of Pesticide Exposure?

More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the US each year, an amount that has quintupled since 1945. This includes 20,000 products made from varying formulations of more than 1,000 chemicals, sprayed everywhere from farm fields and gardens to playgrounds and schools.6 In children, there is increasing evidence that these ubiquitous chemicals are especially damaging, not only at high exposure levels but also at low, chronic levels to which millions are exposed.

The CHAMACOS study followed hundreds of pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, California, an agricultural mecca that has had up to a half-million pounds of organophosphates sprayed in the region per year. The children were followed through age 12 to assess what impact the pesticides had on their development.7 It turns out the impact was quite dramatic, and mothers' exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:8

  • Shorter duration of pregnancy
  • Decreased neonatal reflexes
  • Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
  • Increased risk of attention problems in children

As the dangers of organophosphates become clear, farmers have shifted toward other supposedly safer chemicals, like neonicotinoids and pyrethroids. The former group of chemicals is a leading suspect behind the massive bee die-offs occurring across the US, and the latter have shown equally concerning health effects as organophosphates. One study tested urine samples from 779 Canadian children, aged 6-11, and even at that young age, 97 percent of the children had pyrethroid breakdown products in their urine. Ninety-one percent also had traces of organophosphate pesticides.9

A 10-fold increase in urinary levels of one pyrethroid breakdown product was associated with twice the risk of a child scoring high for behavioral problems, such as inattention and hyperactivity. And according to a 2006 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review, animal research has also shown that even low levels of some of these compounds have an adverse effect on:10

Immune function Nervous system development Behavioral development
Thyroid Liver Reproductive hormones

Glyphosate Residues on Your Food May Be Harmful

Nearly 1 billion pounds of glyphosate is doused on both conventional and genetically modified (GM) crops worldwide each year, although GM crops receive the heaviest amounts. It's important to realize that processed foods undoubtedly expose you to this toxic contamination, courtesy of the GM soy, GM sugar beets, and vegetable oil used.11 The same goes for meats from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), as GM soy is a staple of conventional livestock feed.

It's quite crucial to understand that glyphosate contamination in GM crops is systemic, meaning it is present in every cell of the plant, from root to tip. It's not just an issue of topical contamination—although that certainly adds to the level of contamination. Normally, you need to thoroughly wash your produce to help remove topical residues, but you cannot remove glyphosate from GM produce, as it has been absorbed into the cells of the plant.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined glyphosate to be a “probable carcinogen” (Class 2A), based on “limited evidence” showing that the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with “convincing evidence” it can also cause cancer in animals.12

Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations have also been shown to induce DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, as well as human and animal cells in vitro. Research published in 2013 showed glyphosate residues "enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease."

A Norwegian study published in Food Technology also found that GM soy contains high levels of glyphosate, along with a poorer nutritional profile, leading the researchers to question its quality and safety.13 Evidence also suggests glyphosate may be a key player in Argentina's growing health problems, where birth defects and cancer rates have skyrocketed among GE corn and soya farming communities. According to Dr. Medardo Vasquez, a neonatal specialist at the Children's Hospital in Cordoba, featured in the documentary film People and Power — Argentina: The Bad Seeds:

"I see newborn infants, many of whom are malformed. I have to tell parents that their children are dying because of these agricultural methods. In some areas in Argentina, the primary cause of death for children less than one year old is malformations."

Additional Benefits of Eating Organic

Lowering your exposure to pesticides and other agricultural chemicals is just one reason to consider eating organic as much as possible. One of the benefits of eating organic, for instance, is that the foods will be free of GM ingredients – and this is key to avoiding exposure to toxic glyphosate. In addition to fewer pesticide and chemical residues, organic foods have, on average, 48 percent lower levels of cadmium, a toxic metal and known carcinogen.14

Organic meats are also far less likely to contain drug-resistant bacteria, which is yet another major health threat.15 Organic rules do not permit antibiotics to be used, whereas conventional farmers routinely give their animals antibiotics to promote rapid growth. Meanwhile, organic fruits and vegetables can contain anywhere from 18-69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown varieties. According to the study authors:16

"Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies. Additionally, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops... Significant differences were also detected for some other (e.g. minerals and vitamins) compounds."

There are also a number of other studies to support the claim that organically grown produce contain higher levels of nutrients in general. For example, in 2010 PLOS ONE published a study showing organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than non-organic strawberries.17

Which Foods Are the Most Important to Buy Organic?

Everyone can be harmed by pesticides, but if you're a woman of childbearing age or have young children, taking steps to reduce your exposure is especially important. Ideally, all of the food you and your family eat would be organic. That being said, not everyone has access to a wide variety of organic produce, and it can sometimes be costlier than buying conventional. One way to save some money while still lowering your risk is by focusing on purchasing certain organic items, while "settling" for others that are conventionally grown.

Animal products, like meat, butter, milk, and eggs, are actually the most important to buy organic, since animal products tend to bioaccumulate toxins from their pesticide-laced feed, concentrating them to far higher concentrations than are typically present in vegetables.

Unlike conventional fruits and vegetables, where peeling and washing can sometimes reduce the amounts of these toxins, the pesticides and drugs that these animals get exposed to during their lives can become incorporated into their very tissues, especially their fat. So if you're on a budget, choose organic animal foods first.

Beyond animal foods, the pesticide load of different fruits and vegetables can vary greatly. Consumer Reports analyzed 12 years of data from the USDA's Pesticide Data Program to determine the risk categories (from very low to very high) for different types of produce.18 Because children are especially vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, including pesticides, they based the risk assessment on a 3.5-year-old child. They recommended buying organic for any produce that came back in the medium or higher risk categories, which left the following foods as examples of those you should always try to buy organic.

Strawberries Green Beans
Sweet Bell Peppers Hot Peppers
Tangerines Nectarines
Cranberries Sweet Potatoes

Tips to Minimize Your Dietary Pesticide Exposure

Your best bet for minimizing health risks from pesticide exposure in your food is to avoid them in the first place by eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home or apartment. Alternatively, you can try growing some of your own produce using organic methods right in your own backyard.

If you know you have been exposed to pesticides, the lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi may help your body break down pesticides. So including fermented foods like kimchi in your diet may also be a wise strategy to help detox the pesticides that do enter your body.

Following are some great resources to obtain wholesome organic food. Eating locally produced organic food will not only support your family's health, it will also protect the environment from harmful chemical pollutants and the inadvertent spread of GM seeds and chemical-resistant weeds and pests. Finally, if you can't find organic produce, don't use that as an excuse to skimp on veggies altogether. As Consumer Reports noted:19

"Though we believe that organic is always the best choice because it promotes sustainable agriculture, getting plenty of fruits and vegetables—even if you can't obtain organic—takes precedence when it comes to your health."

Also remember that some local foods are grown using organic standards, even though they might not be certified organic. One of the benefits of getting your food straight from the farm via the resources below is that you can often meet the farmer and ask about pesticides and other chemical usage before you buy:

  1. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  2. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  3. Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  4. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  5. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Completely New Models of Dementia Care Are Emerging Across the Globe PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

The documentary special "Dementia—The Unspooling Mind" explores innovative models of care for dementia sufferers in Thailand and the Netherlands.

These unique residential complexes are the result of out-of-the-box thinking on how to keep this vulnerable population safe and relatively happy for the remainder of their days.

Dementia villages offer excellent individual care for a moderate monthly price. But the downsides are that the wait list is long and you may have to buy Granny a one-way ticket to a destination thousands of miles from home.

In 2015, an estimated 5.3 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. This number is expected grow each year as the proportion of the US population above age 65 continues to rise.1 The global cost of dementia is now $600 billion per year and is expected to soar even further.2

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, the number of people who make it past their 80th birthday will almost quadruple to 395 million—and one in six will be living with dementia.

More than 80 percent of current care home residents have significant memory problems or full dementia.3 With younger family members footing the bill, the cost of a good residential home is out of reach for many, causing some families to consider options outside of their own national borders.

The Exorbitant Cost of Dementia Care

When you consider what it costs to provide full-time care to a family member with Alzheimer's or other dementia, it's easy to see why some families are considering what might be called radical options—such as care centers on the opposite side of the globe.

Like the US, the average cost of residential or nursing care in the UK ranges from $3,600 to more than $5,000 per month. In Switzerland, the price tag's even higher at $5,000 to $10,000 per month.4 The exception seems to be Thailand.

Thailand is known for medical tourism. There, the cost of nursing care is significantly lower, and yet care quality remains high, according to most reports.

Thai culture places a large emphasis on looking after its elderly, which has paved the way for a different approach to care. A basic residential care package in Thailand is closer to $3,000 per month—and that package is likely to be more comprehensive.

Two 'Dementia Resorts' in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The film features two dementia care centers in Thailand, both located in the northern city of Chiang Mai—and both are in stark contrast to a typical "nursing home" or long-term care facility.

The first center is Baan Kamlangchay,5 established by Martin Woodtli, a Swiss psychologist who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.

According to Woodtli, patients at his center generally don't require drugs to stay calm or locked doors to keep them safe. Instead, they're never without an attendant, so they have the benefit of continuous human interaction and supervision.

He says his guests "cannot explain it, but I think they feel part of a family, a community, and that's very important."6

About a dozen patients live in individual houses within one Thai neighborhood and are accompanied to local markets, temples, and restaurants, and receive personal around-the-clock care—all for $3,800 per month.

The second care center,7 located about 30 minutes from Chiang Mai, is owned by Peter Brown, a British entrepreneur who converted it from a four-star tourist resort. Brown's goal is to give each guest as much independence as their individual condition allows.

Care Resort Chiang Mai sits on 11 acres of trees, gardens, fishponds, and a lake. There are different designs ranging from studios to one- and two-bedroom villas, each equipped with a full nursing care station. Sightseeing excursions and a spa are part of their treatment.

'Dementia Village' in Weesp, the Netherlands

Perhaps the most interesting place of all is located in the Netherlands. On the outskirts of Amsterdam in a small town called Weesp, is Hogeweyk, also known as Dementia Village.8 Since 2009, more than 150 dementia patients have called this village "home."

As this is typically a person's last residence, the goal at Hogeweyk is to provide the most normal life possible, reminiscent of each individual's formative years.

Dementia Village has the sort of manufactured reality depicted in the movie "The Truman Show," where Jim Carrey portrays a man who discovers his entire life is actually a reality TV show.

There is only one way in and one way out... all doors open automatically, except those to the outside world. This four-acre village was built with the specific needs of dementia patients in mind, designed around common and familiar social and cultural building blocks.

For example, residents with shared interests and backgrounds live together in "lifestyle-groups," with the design and decoration of the 23 homes tailored to each type of lifestyle. Together, the residents manage their own households, in terms of washing, cooking, etc., with the help of staff members playing various roles.

Within each house, residents have their own large bedroom and then share a living room, kitchen, and dining room with their housemates. They buy their groceries at the Hogeweyk supermarket and get their medical needs tended at the outpatient clinic.

The village has all sorts of amenities, including a cafe and parks with gardens and fountains along streets where the residents can freely roam.9 Village staff are everywhere, cleverly blending in as ordinary town folk. According to CNN:10

"Caretakers staff the restaurant, grocery store, hair salon, and theater -- although the residents don't always realize they are caretakers—and are also watching in the residents' living quarters."

The cost of Hogeweyk is $8,000 per month, but families never pay more than $3,600 per resident, thanks to government subsidization. At the time this special was made, Dementia Village had a waiting list of 82.

Families Must Make Heart-Wrenching Decisions

"The pain of this disease is often felt more by family who still hold the memories instead of those who've lost hem."

When considering whether or not to place a loved one in a care center far from home, the saddest part for the family is often leaving their loved one behind, not necessarily knowing if he or she is aware of what's happening or feels abandoned. This is, of course, a very personal decision with multiple factors weighing differently in every situation, and each patient is different.

The majority of dementia patients placed far away from home are in the most advanced stages of the disease. Experts report, while many people with early dementia would find it difficult to adjust to a foreign community where they're separated from their families, many in advanced stages adjust surprisingly well to a place with good care, because they "live in a world of earlier memories."

Continued efforts should be made at improving the quality of life and quality of care for people living with dementia, and this requires this type of "outside the box" thinking. Studies show that loneliness11—as opposed to living alone—is linked to the onset of Alzheimer's, as well as emotional stress. In the final hours of life, whether the person at your loved one's bedside is you or a caregiver thousands of miles away, it's important that they're not a "stranger" to the dying person and that they're being cared for with dignity and respect.

Reducing Your Risk for Dementia Through Diet

Download Interview Transcript

Since there's no conventional cure for dementia, the issue of prevention is absolutely critical. Evidence points to lifestyle factors as the driving forces behind dementia, and fat avoidance and carbohydrate overconsumption are at the heart of it, as Dr. Perlmutter discusses in the interview above. The following list of basic nutritional strategies will help keep your brain healthy as you age:

  1. Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you'll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum, with your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance. Avoid all artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, which studies have linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
  2. Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that gluten adversely affects your blood-brain barrier and makes your gut more permeable, which promotes inflammation and immune dysfunction, and both of these are believed to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
  3. Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods.
  4. Increase consumption of healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3 fats. Make sure you're getting enough omega-3 fats, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, and krill oil, which helps protect your brain.
  5. Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or fast intermittently. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the insulin/leptin resistance that's a primary factor in the development of Alzheimer's.
  6. Improve your magnesium level. Preliminary research suggests increased magnesium levels in the brain may result in decreased Alzheimer's symptoms. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not cross the blood-brain barrier, but magnesium threonate appears to cross so it may be superior to other forms.
  7. Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate and zinc. Without question, fresh vegetables are the best form of folate. Avoid taking a folic acid supplement, which is the inferior and synthetic version of folate. Research suggests zinc deficiency can contribute to Alzheimer's by promoting the accumulation of defective proteins in your brain, which is one of the hallmarks of the disease.
  8. Avoid environmental toxins and chemicals as much as possible. The rise in Alzheimer's disease may be related to genetically engineered foods and how they're grown; herbicides like glyphosate are mineral chelators, binding up important nutrients, such as zinc.

Other Lifestyle Guidelines That Help Protect Your Brain

Besides diet, there are a number of other lifestyle factors that affect your neurological health. To minimize your risk for developing dementia, make sure you address the following:

  • Regular exercise AND minimize sitting. Exercise supports your brain by helping it produce new neurons, thereby helping prevent neural degeneration. Excess sitting is associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological illnesses. Stand up and walk as often as possible, with a goal of walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day.
  • Get plenty of restorative sleep. Recent studies indicate that poor sleeping habits cause brain damage and may accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's.
  • Manage your stress. Researchers have found that nearly three out of four Alzheimer's patients experienced severe emotional stress during the two years preceding their diagnosis. One of my favorite stress-busting tools is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Keep your vitamin D level between 50-70 ng/ml, as there are strong links between insufficient vitamin D and Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin D may enhance important chemicals in your brain, protecting your brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. Vitamin D may also benefit dementia by its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
  • Eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. Once you've optimized your diet, consider implementing a mercury detox protocol and then finding a biological dentist to safely remove your amalgams.
  • Eliminate aluminum from your body. Many people with Alzheimer's are found to have high aluminum levels in their brain. Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc.
  • Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain mercury and aluminum, which are well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
  • Avoid drugs—especially anticholinergics, statins, and benzodiazepines. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.
  • Statin drugs are also problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain. Studies show that adults who use benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, etc.) for anxiety or insomnia are about 50 percent more likely to develop dementia, especially if used chronically.

  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation—especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language—is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's.
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Key Strategies for Optimizing Your Sleep PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Are you tired of being tired? If you feel sleepy during the day, there’s a good chance you need to get more sleep or better quality sleep. Even if you think you can “get by” on five or six hours a night, your body is not easily fooled.

Poor sleep impacts virtually every aspect of your health. Your sleep-wake cycle actually drives biological activity at the cellular level, so circadian disruptions tend to ripple out through your entire body.

This explains why many studies clearly show that poor quality sleep has been linked to everything from weight gain to cancer to premature aging.

One of my favorite tools for resolving anxiety contributing to insomnia is EFT, or “emotional freedom technique.” EFT combines tapping on certain points of your body with making statements that help pinpoint the underlying issues, as demonstrated in the video above.

EFT helps to release worries, fears, and physical symptoms that stand between you and a good night’s sleep.  

In addition to your reaction to daily stress, several other factors can interfere with your sleep, such as your pre-sleep routine, room temperature, and lack of daily light exposure. Read on if you want the secrets to achieving permanent, deeply restorative sleep.

The Risks of ‘Just Getting By’ on Minimal Sleep

Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,1 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of so many different chronic diseases.

Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye double their chances of dying from heart disease.2

According to research from Great Britain,3 poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over age 50,4 and people with chronic sleep problems may develop Alzheimer's disease sooner than those who sleep well.

Interrupted sleep is equally harmful, leading to depressed mood, fatigue, and confusion. Besides making you more susceptible to pain and impaired cognition, poor sleep can also:

  • Harm your brain by halting new neuron production. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), resulting in fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus
  • Pave the way to a pre-diabetic state, and make you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can lead to weight gain
  • Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your production of growth hormone, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training)
  • Increase your risk of cancer
  • Increase your risk of dying from any cause

How to Determine How Much Sleep You Need

Dr. Rubin Naiman, a Clinical Psychologist, author, teacher, and leader in integrative approaches to sleep and dreams, recommends simply sleeping "enough hours that your energy is sustained through the day without artificial stimulation, with the exception of a daytime nap," which he believes you are biologically programmed for.

While I generally agree with this functional description rather than trying to come up with a specific numeric range, the bulk of the scientific evidence indicates that most people need around eight hours of sleep for optimal health.

So in addition, I would suggest watching out for physical or biological symptoms that might indicate you’re not sleeping enough. For example, when I push myself and don't get enough high-quality sleep, I'm predisposed to postprandial hypoglycemia or tend to get tired after eating lunch.

Pay attention to clues your body may be giving you. For example, if you need an alarm clock to wake up and you awaken feeling tired and groggy, you probably need to go to sleep earlier (or get more restful sleep).

It’s also said that if you fall asleep within a few minutes of your head hitting the pillow, you’re probably sleep deprived. A well-rested person will take about 10 to 15 minutes to fall asleep at night.5

You might want to consider the use of a fitness tracker. In addition to providing exertion and fitness data, the latest technology includes sleep-monitoring algorithms, which can be quite useful and have minimal EMF exposure.

Newer devices, like Jawbone’s UP3 (up for release later this year) can even tell you which of your activities led to your best sleep and which interfered with your sleep.

Empty Out Your Stress Backpack BEFORE You Hit the Pillow

Many people who’ve learned EFT report excellent results when using it for sleep problems, especially if anxiety is a contributing factor. One of the reasons EFT works so well is that it’s such a powerful stress-reduction tool.

Tapping allows you to reprogram your body's reactions to many of the unavoidable stressors of everyday life, making it easier to take them in stride, and when your stressors improve, you will naturally sleep better.

In 2012, a triple blind study6 found that EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent—more than any other intervention tested. This is enormously significant, as there are few things that will destroy your health faster than stress!

Researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine discovered that how you cope with stress might have even MORE impact on your sleep than the number of stressors you encounter. They also found that mindfulness therapies worked best for suppressing the "mental chatter" that inhibits the onset of sleep. Lead author of the study Vivek Pillai, PhD wrote:7

“While a stressful event can lead to a bad night of sleep, it's what you do in response to stress that can be the difference between a few bad nights and chronic insomnia.”

Tapping Your Way Toward Peaceful Slumber

The first and most important thing is to examine the underlying issues in your life that may be causing your ongoing pattern of wakefulness. This is crucial if you want to obtain lasting relief from your sleep difficulty. A sleep disturbance is always caused by something, be it physical, emotional, or both.

Anxiety and anger are two mental states that are incompatible with sleep. Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities is another common sleep blocker. To identify the cause of your wakefulness, analyze the thoughts that circle in your mind during the time you lie awake. Themes will emerge. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • What are these thoughts concerned with?
  • Do they relate to a specific theme or themes in my life?
  • Is there a particular concern or worry that refuses to leave me alone at night?
  • Do I have a problem that insists on seeking an answer right away?
  • Can solving this problem wait until morning?

One strategy is to compile a list of your current concerns. Once you have your list, simply start tapping on each issue, one at a time—anxiety, anger, job stress, physical pain, or whatever—EFT has worked on just about everything at one time or another. To learn how to tap, please refer to our free EFT guide. For specific instructions about how to adapt EFT for insomnia, including what to say as you tap, please read our prior article by EFT Master Patricia Carrington. You can also tap along with Julie as you watch the video featured at the top of this page.

Optimize Your Light Exposure for Better Sleep

Download Interview Transcript

Making sure you get some measure of bright sun exposure daily is also important for optimal sleep. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you’re in darkness all day long, your body can't appreciate the difference and will not optimize melatonin production. Sleep researcher Dan Pardi recommends getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of outdoor light exposure during the daytime in order to "anchor" your master clock rhythm, in the morning if possible. More sunlight exposure is required as you age.

Once the sun sets, avoid light as much as possible to assist your body in secreting melatonin, which helps you feel sleepy. It can be helpful to sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland's melatonin production. If you need a bit of light to navigate down the hall in the wee hours of the night, install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue light does. Salt lamps are lovely for this purpose. You can also download a free application called F.lux that automatically dims your computer device screens.8

Additional Sleep Tips

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way toward ensuring you uninterrupted, restful sleep—and thereby better health. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines, but for starters, consider those listed in the table below. If you’ve tried everything to no avail, you might want to consider consulting a qualified sleep specialist. Sleep disorders such as insomnia can be treated in as little as several sessions, without medication. Dr. Silberman recommends a sleep specialist who does cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Many people keep their homes too warm (particularly their bedrooms). Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This raises your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you’re ready for sleep.
Avoid loud alarm clocks. Being jolted awake each morning can be very stressful. If you are regularly getting appropriate sleep, you might not even need an alarm.
Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it's still daytime. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 pm and 10 pm, and these devices may stifle that process.
Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other detrimental biological effects. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home. Ideally, you should turn off any wireless router while you are sleeping—after all, you don’t need the Internet when you sleep.
Pre-sleep routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps keep your sleep on track, but having a consistent pre-sleep routine or “sleep ritual” is also important. For instance, if you read before heading to bed, your body knows that reading at night signals it’s time for sleep. Sleep specialist Stephanie Silberman, PhD suggests listening to calming music, stretching or doing relaxation exercises.9
Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy. Harvard sleep expert Dr. Lawrence Epstein10 advises creating a clear association between your bed and sleep. In fact, if you’re having trouble sleeping, he even advises against reading, watching TV, texting, or using your computer in bed. He says it’s OK to do those things in your bedroom but avoid doing them in your bed.
Relaxation exercises: Progressive relaxation and breathing exercises can help you relax. “Trying to relax” typically backfires, instead building up tension and frustration that often leads to more wakefulness. But there are specific progressive relaxation techniques that do work. Try the “Relaxing Staircase Technique,” for example.11 Mindfulness therapies have also been found helpful for insomnia.12
Physical activity. Getting adequate exercise every day improves sleep quality and is a major anxiety-reducer. Be careful about exercising just before bedtime, as it can be too stimulating for some people, although studies show that vigorous evening exercise can augment sleep for many.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other drugs. According to Dr. Epstein, two of the biggest sleep saboteurs are caffeine and alcohol, both of which also increase anxiety. Caffeine’s effects can last four to seven hours. It isn’t just coffee—remember that tea and chocolate also contain caffeine. Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, but it makes sleep more fragmented and less restorative. Many other drugs can also interfere with sleep.
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Flame Retardants Do More Harm Than Good, Research Shows PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Common household items such as couch cushions, carpeting, mattresses, and electronics can be a source of exposure to toxic flame retardant chemicals in your day-to-day life.

Many of these chemicals have been linked to serious health risks, including infertility, birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays,1 reduced IQ and behavioral problems in children, hormone disruptions,2 and cancer.

In fact, flame retardant chemicals have been identified as one of 17 "high priority" chemical groups that should be avoided to reduce breast cancer.3,4 These chemicals are also poisoning both pets and wildlife, according to recent tests.

Yet, despite their wide-ranging health risks, they continue being used—ostensibly because they save lives in case of fire. But is the accumulated cost to human and environmental health really worth it?

More and more researchers say no, it's not. Even firefighters are now speaking out against the use of fire retardant chemicals in everyday household products, noting that they don't even work as expected.5

Tests show not only do they not work, but they actually release toxic fumes when they burn—toxins that may be more far more likely to kill you than the fire itself.

The featured video reveals how little we really know about flame retardant chemicals and how, contrary to most people's belief, the government is not conducting chemical testing to make sure they're safe before being brought to market.

Who's Actually Looking Out for Your Health?

In 1973, the US government mandated that all children's sleepwear had to be fire resistant. Brominated Tris was the chemical of choice—until 1977, when researchers discovered that Tris can increase cancer risk. Tris was subsequently banned from use in pajamas, but that didn't put an end to its proliferation.

Another version of the chemical, chlorinated Tris, began being used in furniture, along with a number of other flame retardant chemicals, most if not all of which have a questionable safety profile. As noted in the featured article:6

"The gateway for this development was a 1975 California regulation known as Technical Bulletin 117. Upholstery foam is highly combustible. The California regulation required it to withstand a small flame — from a cigarette lighter, for instance, or a candle — for 12 seconds.

To pass that test, furniture makers treated naked foam with large quantities of chemical retardants. By dint of the sheer size of California's marketplace, the 12-second flame rule effectively became the national standard.

The problem with this mandate, researchers later concluded, was that it did not reflect real life. Who takes a match directly to the foam inside a sofa cushion?

What catches fire first is the fabric encasing the foam. And when that fabric is ablaze, the flames are intense enough to overwhelm whatever retardants coat the foam. So much for any fire-deterrence benefit."

Moreover, the chemicals do not remain inertly bonded within the foam or upholstery. They escape in the form of dust, making their way into everything from babies' mouths to breast milk and water supplies.

One recent study7 found that every dust sample collected from American homes contained Tris phosphate (TDCIPP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). Ninety-one percent of urine samples from the residents also contained metabolites of Tris phosphate, and 83 percent had metabolites of TPHP.

This echoes other tests, which have shown that an estimated 90 percent of Americans have flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies, and many have six or more types in their system.8

American mothers have levels of flame retardants in their breast milk that are about two orders of magnitude greater than in European countries where these chemicals are not permitted,9 and children have been found to have levels of flame retardants that are as much as five times higher than their mother's.10

Needless to say, bioaccumulation can have serious health consequences over the course of a lifetime, although health problems may not be readily attributable to day-to-day chemical exposure. According to Linda S. Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:11

"Some of the effects that we're seeing are effects on the developing nervous system. We're seeing effects on the developing reproductive system. In a population of children that have been exposed to the flame retardants, those children have lower I.Q,12,13 more difficulty in learning."

Do Flame Retardants Really Prevent Fires and Save Lives?

The chemical industry insists that flame retardant chemicals save lives by slowing the onset of a fire, but where's the real evidence for that? In 2013, I wrote about the deceptive campaigns14 that led to the proliferation of fire retardant chemicals.

According to the chemical industry, fire-retardant furniture increases your escape time 15-fold in the case of a fire. This claim came from a study using powerful, NASA-style flame retardants, which provided an extra 15 seconds of escape time. But this is not the same type of chemical used in most furniture. Tests have shown that the most widely used flame-retardant chemicals actually provide no meaningful benefit in case of a fire, while increasing the amounts of toxic chemicals in the smoke.

The primary industry front group responsible for perpetuating the myth that flame retardant chemicals save lives is "Citizens for Fire Safety." But far from being a consumer group, it's actually a trade association for the three largest manufacturers of flame retardant chemicals in the world, and its agenda is to maintain and increase the proliferation of flame retardants in consumer goods.

Home fires have dropped by 50 percent since the introduction of flame retardant chemicals,15 and chemical manufacturers are quick to equate this with the chemicals' success. But home fires have likely dropped for a number of other reasons.

For starters, smoking habits have greatly changed, and far fewer people are puffing away in bed these days. Cigarettes have also received a chemical addition that makes them self-extinguishing. Smoke detectors have also become the norm in modern homes.

Toxic 'Whack-a-Mole' Game Played with Flame Retardants

In 2012, California lowered its fire resistance standard. A piece of furniture no longer needs to withstand an open flame, but rather a smoldering object such as a lit cigarette. This reduced the amount of chemicals needed to meet the standard. It's even possible to find products without flame retardants.

But that doesn't mean the hazard has been removed, because these chemicals have made their way into an ever increasing number of products. Childhood exposure is still of great concern, as flame retardant chemicals—including chlorinated Tris—have been detected in 80 percent of children's products tested,16 including nursing pillows, baby carriers, and sleeping wedges.

Scientists are now taking a stronger stance against flame retardants as a group, noting that addressing chemicals one-by-one just prolongs the endangerment of public health indefinitely.17 To end the "whack-a-mole" game where one dangerous chemical is replaced by another untested chemical, a coalition of medical, consumer, and worker safety groups have created a petition18,19 asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban all organohalogens, the most commonly used flame retardants found in children's goods, furniture, mattresses, and electronics' casings. This class of chemicals includes:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), banned in 1977 due to health concerns
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), phased out in 2005 once it was discovered that it was just as hazardous as the PCB's it replaced
  • Tris phosphate (TDCIPP), listed as a human carcinogen under California's Proposition 65,20 has also been linked to heart disease, obesity, and cancer21
  • Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), associated with altered hormone levels, reduced sperm concentrations, and endocrine disruption22
  • Firemaster 550, which replaced PBDEs that were removed from the market,23 has since been linked to heart disease, obesity, and cancer24

Fire Fighters Take Up the Fight Against Flame Retardants

In Minnesota, fire fighters have been fighting for the passage of a bill to phase out 10 different kinds of flame retardants, highlighting the risks to their own health. The bill would ban the manufacture and wholesale distribution of treated items in Minnesota by 2017. The following year, retail sale of such items, no matter where they were manufactured, would also be banned. Six other states are reportedly also considering similar bans, and Oregon, Maine, and Vermont have already passed similar legislation.

According to the Star Tribune:25

"At a time when cancer accounts for more than half of line-of-duty firefighter deaths nationwide, the union wants Minnesota to follow the suit of three other states that have begun phasing out certain flame retardants by eventually banning their manufacture and sale in Minnesota."

In an effort to end House leaders' reluctance to act on the bill, fire fighters put on a demonstration, lighting furniture on fire,26 to show that treated furniture only delays the fire by a few seconds, while releasing significantly higher amounts of smoke, carbon monoxide, and cancer-causing fumes.

In a WGBH news report from last year (see video below), Dr. Susan Shaw, an environmental health scientist with the Marine Environmental Research Institute addresses some of these risks, again noting the minuscule benefit you get from living in a house surrounded by flame retardant items. She also testified before a House Committee on May 11, saying: “firefighters inhale, ingest, and absorb hundreds of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals during every phase of firefighting — suppression, knockdown/ventilation, and cleanup.”

On May 11, a compromise was reached, with the chemical industry agreeing to phase out four commonly used flame retardants. According to the Star Tribune:27

The initial 10-chemical ban was opposed by the Chamber, the American Chemistry Council and the North American Flame Retardant Alliance, a coalition that said the proposed ban was too broad... The House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee, after hearing Monday’s [May 11, 2015] testimony, passed the modified bill, which is expected to be approved by the full House and Senate...

Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters union President Chris Parsons expressed mixed emotions about Monday’s compromise. 'We are leaving off the list six carcinogenic flame retardants, so in that regards I’m not pleased about it,' said Parsons, a St. Paul fire captain. 'But does it move the conversation further, does it get us closer to our goal? Yes. In the meantime will firefighters continue to be exposed? That I’m not happy about.'”

American Chemistry Council Lied about its Lobbying Role

It’s tragic that lying industry lobbyists keep winning, forcing firefighters to compromise their health by absorbing these toxic chemicals while on the job—not to mention playing with the health of virtually every American on a daily basis as well. The chemical industry, just like the tobacco industry, has been repeatedly caught lying to keep their wares on the market, and this is no exception.

When California tried to ban flame retardants in 2007, Citizens for Fire Safety spent $22 million to defeat the measure. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has maintained that it had nothing to do with the campaign that led toxic flame retardants to be kept on the market, but that’s a lie, Grant David Gillham says. Gillham was a political consultant in charge of the industry front group Citizens for Fire Safety. In a recent interview, he admitted: “They flat out lied about it. They denied that they ever did anything with us." Contrary to ACC statements, Gillham claims he was instructed by an ACC executive to make sure his association with the chemical industry remained secret. According to Public Integrity:28

“The council’s credibility is crucial as it currently works with a bipartisan group in the Senate to rewrite the law governing the regulation of toxic chemicals. The bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act passed a Senate committee recently by a vote of 15 to 5 and last week picked up 14 new senators as co-sponsors, virtually assuring it can pass the Senate.

Still, nearly every major environmental group opposes it, in part because the American Chemistry Council supports it. 'This is an industry that lies,' said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization. 'I think at this point anybody would be foolish to believe them when they say they are serious about reining in the abuses that they’ve committed.'”

Citizens for Fire Safety was caught using unethical tactics in its lobbying efforts to keep flame retardants on the market, including paying $240,000 to Seattle burn surgeon David Heimbach, who gave heart-wrenching but false testimony about babies being killed in fires because flame retardants weren’t used. The infants Heimbach identified were later discovered to be completely fictional.

Pets and Wildlife Suffer Health Effects from Flame Retardant Chemicals

Humans aren't the only ones suffering from overexposure to flame retardant chemicals. Research29 from Sweden suggests hyperthyroidism in cats may be due to exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Blood from 37 cats diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and 23 with normal thyroid function were tested. The cats with overactive thyroid all had elevated levels of PBDEs, which gets ingested when the cat licks itself.

Another study has found high levels of flame retardant chemicals in wild birds, such as hawks and falcons, brought into rehabilitation centers. According to a Vancouver news station:30

"Birds found with the highest levels of contaminants in their system were in Vancouver, but Langley had a Cooper's hawk with the highest-ever recorded levels at 197,000 parts per billion of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardant). In 13 Cooper's hawks examined from Greater Vancouver, the average was 1,873 parts per billion of PBDE."

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic Flame Retardants

A staggering 80,000 chemicals are used in household goods and furnishings, and few of them have been tested for safety. Listing items to avoid would be near impossible. The most comprehensive recommendation is to opt for organic or "green" alternatives no matter what product is under consideration—be it a piece of furniture, clothing, kids toys, cleaning product, or personal care item.

This is by far the easiest route, as manufacturers are not required to disclose the chemicals they use to make their products comply with safety regulations, such as fire safety regulations. Your mattress, for example, may be soaked in toxic flame retardants, but you will not find the chemicals listed on any of the labels. That said, below are some additional guidelines to consider that can help reduce your exposure to flame retardants:

  • Polyurethane foam products manufactured prior to 2005, such as upholstered furniture, mattresses, and pillows, are likely to contain PBDEs, so inspect them carefully and replace ripped covers and/or any foam that appears to be breaking down. Also, avoid reupholstering furniture by yourself as the reupholstering process increases your risk of exposure.
  • If in doubt, you can have a sample of your polyurethane foam cushions tested for free by scientists at Duke University's Superfund Research Center. This is particularly useful for items you already have around your home, as it will help you determine which harmful products need replacing.

  • Older carpet padding is another major source of PBDEs, so take precautions when removing old carpet. You'll want to isolate your work area from the rest of your house to avoid spreading it around, and use a HEPA filter vacuum to clean up.
  • You probably also have older sources of the PBDEs known as Deca in your home as well, and these are so toxic they are banned in several states. Deca PBDEs can be found in electronics like TVs, cell phones, kitchen appliances, fans, toner cartridges, and more. It's a good idea to wash your hands after handling such items, especially before eating, and at the very least be sure you don't let infants mouth any of these items (like your TV remote control or cell phone).
  • Look for organic and "green" building materials, carpeting, baby items, and upholstery, which will be free from these toxic chemicals. Furniture products filled with cotton, wool, or polyester tend to be safer than chemical-treated foam; some products also state that they are "flame-retardant free."
  • PBDEs are often found in household dust, so clean up with a HEPA-filter vacuum and/or a wet mop often.
  • As you replace PBDE-containing items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, and cotton. This is particularly important for items you sit or sleep on for many hours each day.

I recommend looking for a mattress made of either 100% organic wool, which is naturally flame-resistant, 100% organic cotton or flannel, or Kevlar fibers (Stearns and Foster is one brand that sells this type of mattress). There are a number of good options on the market. I've also put together an assortment of wool and silk bedding, including organic cotton and wool mattresses you can choose from when it comes time to replace your mattress, pillows, and comforters with chemical-free versions.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Just One Hour of This Daily Can Make You Obese PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

In the US, more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Physical inactivity, and particularly watching TV, which exposes children to junk-food commercials and presents a prime opportunity for unhealthy snacking, is known to increase this risk.

Nearly 20 years ago, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, along with experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health, concluded that a child's weight increases with the number of hours he or she spends watching television each day.

This isn’t entirely surprising, but a new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego in April 2015 revealed a finding that is… watching just one hour of TV a day may be enough to lead to an unhealthy weight.

One Hour of TV a Day Linked to Overweight and Obesity

Using data from more than 11,000 children, researchers from the University of Virginia found kindergartners and first graders who watched just one hour of TV daily were more likely to be overweight or obese than children who watched less.1

The association was strong, with one hour of daily TV linked to a 60 percent greater risk of becoming overweight and a 73 percent greater likelihood of obesity. Computer use was not associated with higher weight, perhaps because, despite being a sedentary activity, it doesn’t expose children to as many junk-food advertisements and is less conducive to snacking.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children and teens spend no more than two hours daily engaged in screen time, the average US kindergartner watches more than three hours of TV a day. Dr. Mark D. DeBoer, an associate professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Virginia and author of the study, told Fox News:2

We hope that the American Association of Pediatrics consider reducing its allowed TV viewing to one hour daily for young children and recommend that parents replace their children's TV viewing time with opportunities for physical activity and educational activities.”

Keep the TV Out of Your Child’s Bedroom

One basic way to help limit the amount of TV your child watches is to keep the TV out of his or her bedroom. In a survey of more than 3,000 fifth graders, half of the children said they had either a television, DVD player, or video game in their rooms.3

More than half (57 percent) of them said they would use these devices even after they were supposed to be asleep, for instance staying up later to watch TV in bed. As you might suspect, those who had access to electronic devices generally slept less, and shorter sleep duration is linked to obesity.

Getting just one extra hour of sleep a night was linked to a 28 percent lower risk of being overweight and a 30 percent lower risk of being obese, according to the study. On the other hand, kids who used electronic devices at bedtime were nearly 1.5 times more likely to be overweight.

Among those who had three or more such devices in their bedroom (such as a TV, computer, and video games), the risk jumped to over 2.5 times. When you’re sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. At the same time it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

In addition, sleep-deprived people tend to eat more sweet and starchy foods rather than vegetables and dairy products. Researchers suspect these cravings stem from the fact that your brain is fueled by glucose (blood sugar); therefore, when lack of sleep occurs, your brain searches for carbohydrates.

In short, sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you've already eaten. Encouraging less sleep is just one way that TV watching may contribute to weight gain…

Artificial Light from TV May Promote Weight Gain

When you turn on a light at night, you immediately send your brain misinformation about the light-dark cycle. The only thing your brain interprets light to be is day. Believing daytime has arrived, your biological clock instructs your pineal gland to immediately cease its production of the hormone melatonin.

Whether you have the light on for an hour or for just a second, the effect is the same — and your melatonin pump doesn't turn back on when you flip the light back off. Melatonin appears to improve weight control by increasing “beige” fat, which is a heat-generating type of fat that helps your body to burn calories rather than store them. If you’re regularly exposed to light at night, including from a television or computer, you’re missing out on this fat-burning potential.

In one study, mice that were exposed to dim light during the night gained 50 percent more weight over an eight-week period than mice kept in complete darkness at night.4

They also had increased levels of glucose intolerance, a marker for pre-diabetes. The weight gain occurred even though the mice were fed the same amount of food and had similar activity levels, and the researchers believe the findings may hold true for humans as well.

Separate research also found mice exposed to longer periods of light gained fat because their brown fat wasn’t working as efficiently.5 Like beige fat, brown fat is a heat-generating type of fat that burns energy instead of storing it, which explains its role in proper weight management. In the mice exposed to excess light, however, the brown fat converted fatty acids and glucose to heat more slowly than usual.6

Junk Food Marketers Are Targeting Your Kids

According to a 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM),7 children age 2 to 11 see an average of more than 10 television food ads per day. And nearly all (98 percent) of these are for products that are high in processed, damaged fats, sugar, and/or sodium. Most (79 percent) are low in fiber.8 According to the IOM:

"The marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages is linked to overweight and obesity. A 2006 IOM report provided evidence that television advertising influences the food and beverage preferences, requests, and short-term consumption of children."

In the wake of rising rates of childhood obesity and other chronic conditions that are undoubtedly linked to poor diets – high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain behavioral problems, and so on – intentionally trying to hook kids on junk foods might be considered a crime or certainly immoral.

At the very least, it’s clearly on par with what the tobacco industry did for decades, hooking young kids on their addictive and lethal products before they were even old enough to know better. It’s an instance where increased regulatory action might have been beneficial, and in fact was beneficial – before the protections were taken away.

In the late 1970s, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tried to ban all ads aimed at kids below the age of 8. But then industry stepped in and convinced Congress to block such attempts. Instead of banning advertising to children, Congress passed “The FTC Improvement Act,” which stripped the FTC of the power and authority to regulate marketing to children.

The final blow came in 1984, when the entire industry was deregulated. Before deregulating children’s TV marketing, children’s spending had risen at a modest 4 percent per year.

After deregulation, children’s spending skyrocketed to 35 percent per year, from $4.2 billion a year in 1984 to $40 billion a year in 2013—an 852 percent increase in less than three decades. Combining junk food with TV is a particularly deadly combo, as you’ve got two culprits of weight gain and disease: inactivity and sugar.

Sugar Blamed for Obesity Epidemic

While there are a myriad of reasons why children shouldn’t be watching much TV, it’s important to note that an abundance of junk food and sugary beverages is probably an even greater factor in weight gain than TV.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers stated it’s time to “bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity.” While rates of obesity have risen sharply over the last three decades, rates of physical activity have stayed largely the same.9

The culprit, they say, is a poor diet loaded with excess sugar and carbohydrates. The review noted that poor diet is responsible for more cases of disease than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined.10 The review also blasted the food industry, which they argue is using marketing tactics that are “chillingly similar” to the tobacco industry. As reported in the Telegraph:11

The ‘false perception’ that exercise matters more than healthy eating is due to how the food industry is marketed… They use the example of Coca-Cola associating its products with sport, ‘suggesting it is OK to consume their drinks as long as you exercise.’

They claim the public health messaging around diet and exercise, and their relationship to the epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity, has been corrupted by ‘vested interests.’ Celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end, they said.”

The study pointed out some revealing statistics, such as for every excess 150 calories of sugar there was an 11-fold increase in type 2 diabetes compared to 150 calories consumed from fat or protein – independent of a person’s weight and physical activity level. Meanwhile, lead author Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, told the Telegraph:12

Cutting down on carbs was also found to be the single most effective intervention for reducing all the features of the metabolic syndrome and should be the first approach in diabetes management, with benefits occurring even without weight loss, he said. Instead, fat appears to be the ideal fuel for most exercise.”

Beyond Obesity: Why Kids Shouldn’t Watch Much TV

The fact that sugar may play an even greater role in obesity than physical inactivity is certainly not a carte blanche to watch as much TV as you want. Even among adults, research has shown watching more than 14 hours of TV per week was associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, obesity, and high cholesterol in both men and women.13

In children, however, TV is especially damaging. For instance, in a study of children aged 3 to 9 years, kids with TVs in their bedrooms, and those exposed to more background TV, performed more poorly on theory-of-mind assessments.14 That is, they had a lower understanding of different mental states, including other people’s beliefs and desires.

A 2015 study that examined sleep patterns and mental health among 1,000 children also found that those with sleep disorders at age 4 were more likely to have mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, at age 6.15 In addition, Dr. Aric Sigman, a British psychologist, analyzed 35 different scientific studies on television and its effect on the viewer.16 He found it produces an almost narcotic effect on your brain, actually numbing areas that would be stimulated by other activities, like reading. Dr. Sigman has identified 15 negative effects that he believes can be blamed on watching television, stating:

“Watching television, irrespective of the content, is increasingly associated with unfavorable biological and cognitive changes. These alterations occur at viewing levels far below the population norm. Given the population’s sheer exposure time to this environmental factor it is more than puzzling to consider how little awareness and action has resulted.”

The risks Dr. Sigman revealed include:

Obesity Delayed healing Heart trouble Decreased metabolism Damaged eyesight
Alzheimer's disease Decreased attention span Hormone disturbances Cancer Early puberty
Autism Sleep difficulties Increased appetite Limited brain growth Diabetes

Tips for Helping Kids Maintain a Healthy Weight

Helping children lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, typically takes a comprehensive lifestyle shift, just as it often does with adults. You can start by cutting back on TV. According to Dr. Sigman and other experts, children under age 3 should watch no TV at all, while those ages 3-7 should watch no more than 1.5 hours a day. For older kids, two hours of TV and/or computer/video game use should be the daily limit. You may choose to watch less than this, of course, but ideally not more.

Meanwhile, encourage your kids to be active. Organized sports, dance, swimming lessons, martial arts, and free play outdoors are all ways to keep your kids moving instead of being sedentary. You might start an after-dinner tradition of taking a walk as a family, or walk to and from school with your child, to fit in more daily movement. Next, eliminating excess sugar and fructose will also be important. Children can easily cut down on the amount of sugar they eat by eliminating soda and juice and only drinking water.

This step alone can have a dramatic affect on your child’s weight and health, since every daily soft drink or sugar-sweetened beverage consumed increases the risk of obesity by a whopping 60 percent. It’s important for parents to encourage their children to eat healthy, nutritious foods, focusing on fresh whole foods (preferably organic whenever possible).

You should allow your child to eat when he’s hungry, however. Children need calories and nutrients to grow and develop -- just make sure to encourage healthy foods and bypass junk and processed foods. You can find even more help in the book I wrote on the subject, Generation XL: Raising Healthy, Intelligent Kids in a High-Tech, Junk-Food World. In addition, here are six more tips to foster a healthy view of food and self-esteem in your child.

Lead by example and seek to maintain optimal body weight for yourself and your spouse Refrain from making jokes about your child’s weight, even if no harm is intended
Explain the health risks of being overweight to your child, but avoid comparing your overweight child to other children, including thinner siblings Cook healthy meals for your family, and let your child be involved in making dinner; avoid making your child eat different food than the rest of the family
Encourage your children to make healthy food choices and praise them when they do instead of putting your child down about weight or eating habits Instead of using food as a reward or punishment, have healthy snacks available at all times, and explain to your child the benefits they’ll get from eating these fresh, whole foods; use non-food items, such as stickers or special outings/activities as rewards instead
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
The Not So Secret Truth About Yogurt PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Yogurt can be incredibly healthy, rich in high-quality protein, beneficial probiotics, calcium, B vitamins and, even cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). But the key words are "can be."

Most yogurts sold in US grocery stores resemble dessert more than a health food. Americans are accustomed to added sugar and flavors in their yogurt, which negates much of its health potential. Around the world, however, yogurt is often enjoyed in its traditional – and far better for you – form.

Savory Yogurt Is Popular Around the Globe

Sugar-sweetened, fruit-flavored yogurts are among the most popular in the US, but in other countries you'll find yogurt paired with garlic, cumin, olive oil, and lemon. Around the world, plain yogurt, in all of its sour glory, is often served as a regular side dish with meals.

It's used as a base for dressings and sauces on meats and vegetables alike, and in Mongolia, where some families lead nomadic lifestyles, it's even dried until it hardens into a mass, making it a nutrient-dense food that can be carried with them.1

Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of "Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World's Creamiest Healthiest Food," wrote in the Washington Post:2

"When I whisk garlic into yogurt, I'm hardly a renegade. After all, the two foods pair frequently in such dishes as Greek tzatziki and Turkish ali nazik kebab, char-grilled eggplant, and lamb sauced with garlicky yogurt.

And garlic isn't the only yogurt booster, of course. In Lebanon, labneh — that super-strained, lightly salted version — gets dusted with za'atar and drizzled with olive oil, no sugar bowl in sight. In South Asia, roasted cumin is as common a feature in the region's raitas as it is in its cooling, savory lassis."

In the US, savory yogurt is beginning to catch on. It's not unusual to find Greek yogurt dips and salad dressings, for instance, even at conventional grocery stores. However, according to a 2014 report by market research firm Mintel, sweet, fruit-flavored yogurts still dominate the market. Sternman Rule continued:3

"Of the top 10 yogurts and yogurt drinks launched between 2010 and 2014, seven were fruit flavored, with plain (at number 3), vanilla (number 4), and honey (number 9) filling out the ranks."

The Largest Category of Yogurt Consumers Do So for Health Reasons

Ironically, the Mintel report found the largest percentage of yogurt consumers (44 percent) eat yogurt for health reasons, and because they believe yogurt is a healthy choice compared to other options.4

This is ironic because most US yogurt is far from a health food. If you're eating yogurt to help optimize your gut flora, for instance, chances are you're currently eating yogurt that has more similarities with candy than anything else, courtesy of its added sugar content.

When Yoplait yogurt was created in 1999, for instance, it contained 100 percent more sugar per serving than the company's Lucky Charms cereal! Yet everyone recognized yogurt as a wholesome food, and sales of Yoplait soared.

Even today, one six-ounce container of Yoplait yogurt may contain 26 grams of sugar (for the red raspberry flavor, for example).5 Earlier this year, in an effort to give their brand a healthier image, General Mills announced it would slash the sugar in Yoplait Original by 25 percent. But even with the reduction, it will still be close to 20 grams of sugar in one container.

The negative effects from sugar content far outweigh the marginal benefits from the minimal amount beneficial bacteria they contain. Remember, the most important step in building healthy gut flora is avoiding sugar, as that can cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial flora.

Many other yogurts contain artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and additives, yet masquerade as health food. Mark A. Kastel, co-director of The Cornucopia Institute, which released the Yogurt Report last year, said:6

"What is most egregious about our findings is the marketing employed by many of the largest agribusinesses selling junk food masquerading as health food, mostly aimed at moms, who are hoping to provide their children an alternative, a more nutritious snack. In some cases, they might as well be serving their children soda pop or a candy bar with a glass of milk on the side."

Many Yogurt Products Are Not Even Real Yogurt

If you want to know which commercial yogurts are healthy and which are not, refer to The Cornucopia Institute's Yogurt Report. Their investigation found many products being sold as yogurt do not even meet the standards for real yogurt. The report also includes a comparative cost analysis of commercial yogurt brands.

The good news is many organic yogurts are actually less expensive, on a price-per-ounce basis, than conventional, heavily processed yogurts (although some of the organic brands of yogurt actually contained some of the highest amounts of sugar). As noted in their press release:

"Based on its industry investigation, The Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal complaint with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking the agency to investigate whether or not certain yogurts on the market, manufactured by such companies as Yoplait, Dannon, and many store brands including Walmart's Great Value, violate the legal standard of identity for products labeled as yogurt.

The Cornucopia Institute requests that the legal definition of 'yogurt' be enforced for product labeling, just as it is for products labeled 'cheese.' The reason that Kraft has to call Velveeta® 'processed cheese-food' is that some of the ingredients used, like vegetable oil, cannot legally be in a product marketed as 'cheese,' Kastel added.

Cornucopia alleges that some of the ingredients that manufactures are using in yogurt, like milk protein concentrate (MPC), typically imported from countries like India, do not meet yogurt's current legal standard of identity."

How to Distinguish Between Healthy and Unhealthy Yogurt

The top-rated yogurts are generally VAT pasteurized at relatively low temperatures and are made from raw milk rather than previously pasteurized milk.

While not as advantageous as making yogurt from raw milk in your own home, it's certainly better than most commercial yogurt. You'll also want to seek out organic yogurt and that made from 100% grass-fed or pastured milk. And you'll want whole milk, not low-fat or skim. As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation:7

"Because grass feeding of cows can increase the healthfulness of fats in their body, milk from those cows can be a source of high-quality fats for making yogurt. Lactic acid bacteria used to ferment milk into yogurt have now been shown to take some of its fatty acids and convert them into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

A fairly conservative estimate of the CLA in grass-fed yogurt would be about 8 milligrams per liquid ounce. Research is linking our CLA intake to decreased risk of many health problems, including heart attack, blood sugar imbalance, excessive inflammation, and loss of bone mass.

One of the reasons we generally recommend grass-fed yogurts from whole milk is that nonfat and skim-milk yogurts—while still healthy in many ways—cannot naturally provide this same level of CLA or other high-quality fats like the omega-3s found in most whole milk yogurts."

In addition, many yogurts claim to contain Live and Active Cultures, but this label might not mean what you think. The Cornucopia report took a look at the food industry's labeling campaign, Live and Active Cultures, which is supposed to help consumers select products with high levels of healthy probiotics.

To assess probiotic content, Cornucopia tested yogurt purchased directly from grocery stores instead of following the industry's practice of testing levels at the factory. As it turns out, many of the brands bearing the Live and Active Cultures label contain LOWER levels of probiotics than the top-rated organic brands in Cornucopia's report and scorecard that are not part of the Live and Active campaign.

Yogurt Is Surprisingly Easy to Make at Home

If you can’t find any of the top-rated yogurt brands in a grocery store near you, one option is to call the store manager and request it. Many stores will bring in new products, especially if multiple customers request them. Another option is to join a local food coop, which may sell grass-fed raw dairy products, including yogurt. Your absolute best bet when it comes to yogurt, however, is to make your own using a starter culture and raw grass-fed milk.

Raw organic milk from grass-fed cows not only contains beneficial bacteria that prime your immune system and can help reduce allergies, it's also an outstanding source of vitamins (especially vitamin A), zinc, enzymes, and healthy fats. Raw organic milk is not associated with many of the health problems of pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps, and it's surprisingly easy to turn your raw milk into yogurt. All you need is a high-quality culture starter added to a quart of raw milk, which you leave at room temperature overnight.

By the time you wake up in the morning, you will likely have kefir. If it hasn't obtained the consistency of yogurt, you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge. If you want to sweeten up your homemade yogurt naturally, try adding in some whole berries or dried (unsweetened) coconut. But remember, it's delicious when combined with savory flavors, too, so don't be afraid to add in some garlic, shallots, dill, or other spices to make a yogurt-based dip, dressing, or sauce.

Cultured foods should be a regular part of your diet, and if you eat enough of them you will keep your digestive tract well-supplied with beneficial bacteria. However, don't make the mistake of using sweetened commercial yogurt as your source of culture food. Raw, grass-fed kefir and yogurt, whether made at home or purchased from a local farm, is a true health food and virtually the only type of yogurt worthy of eating.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Avian Flu Outbreak Among Chickens—What This Disaster Can Tell Us About Our Food Production PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Three large egg-producing states in the US are in the midst of an avian flu outbreak. Iowa—where about 20 percent of all US eggs are produced—declared a state of emergency on May 1.1

Minnesota and Wisconsin declared states of emergency last month, and dozens of countries have imposed partial or total bans on US poultry.

It's estimated that 25 percent of all chickens in Iowa have been infected,2 and millions of chickens and turkeys in the three states have already been killed in an effort to contain the disease.

According to Reuters:3

"Iowa officials started receiving noticepur about an outbreak of the virus beginning on April 21. The pathogen is highly contagious for turkeys, chickens, and other poultry. While it's not a threat to humans, it can lead to high costs over the loss of livestock and property, and quickly exhaust local emergency responses..."

CAFOs Are a Constant Threat to Health

This outbreak is really not surprising. In fact, it's exactly what you can expect when you dramatically disrupt the natural order of things, and produce food under wholly unnatural circumstances.

Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are major warehouse-style growing facilities where animals are crowded together by the thousands, or in the case of chickens, tens of thousands.

These animals are fed a completely unnatural diet of glyphosate-containing genetically engineered (GE) grains mixed with antibiotics—a surefire recipe for drug resistance and out-of-control spread of disease, both among animals and humans.

This problem is certainly not restricted to chicken CAFOs. The same applies to cattle and hog farms as well. As an example, hog farmers are six times more likely than the general population to carry drug-resistant Staph bacteria.4

In this case, two different strains of avian influenza have been detected in chicken CAFOs across the US. The H5N2 strain is circulating in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin, while the H5N8 strain is found in California and in Idaho.

And, while there are safeguards in place to contain deadly disease outbreaks from spreading, poultry veterinarians note that those strategies appear to have failed, as the influenza managed to spread across 14 states in five months.

Amy Mayer, an Iowa Public Radio reporter told PBS5 that scientists are still struggling to figure out how the outbreak was able to spread as widely as it has. "They thought they had a pretty decent understanding of how this virus could spread, but the way it is moving right now has really caused them to rethink some of those ideas..." she says.

Reuters6 also noted that:

"Wild birds are thought to be carriers of the flu virus, which can be tracked onto poultry farms by people or trucks that come into contact with contaminated feces. It may also be carried into barns by wind blowing in contaminated dirt or dust.

US and state officials had thought that quarantining infected farms and killing birds would prevent the virus from moving to neighboring farms.

However, veterinarians now think the disease was transmitted between farms... If confirmed, a lateral spread 'would represent a failure in biosecurity,' said John Glisson, vice president of Research for the US Poultry and Egg Association."

Factory Farmed Foods Responsible for Most Foodborne Outbreaks

US authorities are very heavy-handed when it comes to "protecting" you from unadulterated organic foods, such as raw milk and artisan cheeses, ostensibly because such foods have not been processed to the point that any and all microbes have been eradicated.

Sterile equates to "safe," is the general idea, yet nothing could be further from the truth.

The focus on eradicating microbes from our food supply and our immediate environment, including our bodies, has led to dramatic changes in the microbiome of Americans, and the health ramifications of this runs the gamut from obesity to an increased risk for most chronic diseases.

Scientists have now realized that we need microbes to stay healthy, slim, and mentally well-adjusted. And animals need them too, in order to stay healthy, and therein lies the problem.

CAFOs are notorious for routinely administering antibiotics (which indiscriminately kill both beneficial and pathogenic bacteria) to the animals in order to keep them well enough for slaughter. Antibiotics also make the animals grow fatter, faster, which is another reason for their use.

Regardless of the justification, the end result is the same. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics in agriculture has led to the rise of antibiotic resistance that now claims the lives of 23,000 Americans each year.

It also reduces the animals' overall immune function and health, which ultimately equates to an inferior food product, compared to eating a truly healthy, organically raised specimen.

Despite the fact that CAFOs are responsible for virtually all foodborne outbreaks, the US government keeps protecting this model of food production.

As reported by Oregon Live,7 several hundred people have been struck with severe food poisoning over the course of a decade by chicken originating from Foster Farms.

"State officials pushed federal regulators to act, but salmonella-tainted chicken flowed into grocery stores, first in the Northwest, then across the country. Oregon investigators became so familiar with the culprit they gave it a name: the Foster Farms strain," the article states, noting that the USDA repeatedly chose not to warn the public or issue a recall of Foster Farm's tainted chicken.

It almost seems as though CAFOs are "too big to bust," and instead it's the tiny mom-and-pop artisan food makers that get raided at gunpoint over some potential food safety issue, just so the image of "food safety" can be maintained...

Sterilizing Food Does Not Make Unsafe Food Much Safer...

Non-organic foods are also typically sterilized before making their way to your local grocery store, either through pasteurization, irradiation, or antimicrobial chlorine baths, just to name a few of the available procedures.

Despite such precautions, you still have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy it from your local grocery store. In some cases, the risk may be even greater. Using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken.

In the US, nine million people get sick from foodborne illness each year.8 While meats tend to top the list of offenders, conventionally grown veggies are also responsible for their fair share of foodborne illness, and the reason for this is also traceable right back to CAFOs.

CAFOs collect the animals' waste in massive open-air cesspits, the runoff from which can contaminate water used to irrigate crops elsewhere. That's how a deadly fecal pathogen like E. coli O157:H7 can end up contaminating spinach for example. Putting sludge originating from CAFOs as fertilizer on crop fields is another route of exposure.

Why Organic Standards Might Be Corrupted

CAFO-procured dung is also becoming a problem within the organic community, as the standards allow organic farmers to spread manure on their fields—without regard for where that manure came from. It's one thing to spread manure from grass-fed cattle on your organic fields; another to douse it with manure from cattle whose excrement is teeming with drugs and potentially drug-resistant bacteria.

On April 28, 2015, organic rancher Nancy Utesch read the following statement (reprinted here in part) to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in LaJolla, California:

"My husband and I are farmers raising 100 percent grass-fed beef on our 150 acre farm in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. Sitting... on the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, my once vibrant community now is home to 15 industrial mega-farms, known as CAFOs... When community members gather where I live, we talk manure; its make-up and its management.

Being subjected to the massive amounts of CAFO wastes generated where I live has made me seriously question the practice of organic standards allowing CAFO wastes spread on organic ground and crops. This dirty secret in organics must be stopped and the sooner the better!

These wastes are full of BGH, antibiotics, hormones, copper sulfates, pesticide residues, GMO residues, chemical barn cleaners, pharmaceuticals, and possibly municipal wastes. Where I live, industrial waste is included.

This industrial waste comes from rendering facilities, mink ranch, and slaughterhouse wastes of blood, hair, and paunch (the stomach and intestine wastes of slaughtered animals), cheese wastes heavy in chlorides, cattle truck wash, lime slurry, and a myriad of other things combined to make a toxic soup--delivered weekly by the tons to farmers and landowners -- who receive a tipping fee for taking these wastes. Very little oversight takes place with these wastes, which are self-monitored and logged.

These types of wastes carry with them the threats of pathogens, endocrine-disrupting compounds, and a general make-up that is harmful to human health and our soils... In 2013 research from the National wildlife Health Center in Madison revealed that 'Prions, the infectious deformed proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in deer--can be taken up by plants such as alfalfa, corn, and tomatoes.'

Living in a CAFO community, I find the notion... of the spreading of CAFO wastes on food deemed organic beyond an oxymoron--it is OFFENSIVE. Obviously the uptake of these crops, feeding on CAFO wastes, affects the quality of the food and its status... [It] is NOT organic!

The unhappy marriage and unhealthy relationship of these two diversely different farming methods needs to be divorced... My trust in organics is the reason I am willing to pay premium prices for food I consider medicine. I find the use of industrialized farm wastes used in growing organic foods a real breach of trust and integrity in the organic standards."

An Organic Regenerative Food System Is a Far Safer Food System

The root of all these food safety issues is the manner in which the majority of our food is raised and grown. Agricultural giants tried to "better" what nature came up with, and the system is failing miserably. Now, the bird flu is obviously caused by a virus, and viruses are not directly affected by antibiotics, so I'm not suggesting that the use of antibiotics caused these lethal viruses to emerge. What I am suggesting is that the use of antibiotics—in combination with the large-scale confinement model—diminishes the birds' immune function, leaving them more susceptible to disease, such as the avian flu.

When they're cramped together by the tens of thousands, it's certainly no wonder that a virus can take out an entire farm in no time at all. Compounding the problem is the fact that CAFOs produce tremendous amounts of waste, which allows microbes—be they drug-resistant bacteria or lethal viruses—to spread through the environment, traveling via wind, water, and wild animals to neighboring farms.

In short, CAFOs create a negative feedback loop where safety hazards are compounded and spread around, affecting animals, humans, and the environment in equal measure.

The CAFO model virtually ensures that any breakout will be as extensive and widespread as possible. Food safety will undoubtedly remain elusive until or unless we change the way we grow and raise our food, meaning we need to revert back to that which actually works—a system where nature itself maintains a healthy balance with minimal input from manmade drugs, chemicals, and genetic tinkering.

Tyson Vows to Phase Out Antibiotics... Sort of

As reported by Civil Eats,9 Tyson Foods has announced it will strive to eliminate antibiotics from its American operations by September 2017. Perdue and Pilgrim's Pride have made similar vows:

"Together these companies produce about a third of the US chicken supply. It's part of a trend that has seen restaurant chains like McDonald's, Chipotle, Panera, and Chick-fil-A pledge to go antibiotic-free... The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has been campaigning to stop the overuse of antibiotics in farming for years, has called this 'the tipping point for getting the chicken industry off antibiotics.'"

The article does bring up a few considerations though. While these promises are indeed welcome, the US government does not oversee antibiotic use in livestock, so we're left to rely on the company's own self-reporting. A black spot marring Tyson's reputation for honesty is noted in the article:

"Tyson claimed to be producing antibiotic-free chicken in 2008, then was ordered by a federal court10 to change the label after the USDA found that the claims were false."

Tyson also has poultry operations in Mexico, China, and India, and the company has made no mention of addressing the use of antibiotics in those chickens. So is the industry really going to tackle this problem without regulation, or are promises such as these just another PR stunt to soothe our fears? According to Civil Eats:

"Ultimately, Tyson's announcement doesn't mean that the company will stop using antibiotics entirely, either. It may still use drugs important to humans to treat sick chickens. McDonald's and Tyson are also still allowing for the use of ionophores, an animal antibiotic that doctors don't prescribe to humans. In other words, many of the practices that make chickens sick to begin with may remain the same."

Wholesome Food Resources

I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat, raised without antibiotics and other growth-promoting drugs is really the only type of meat that is healthy to eat, in my view. The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane and sustainable manner:

  • Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  • Eat Wild -- With more than 1,400 pasture-based farms, Eatwild's Directory of Farms is one of the most comprehensive sources for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada.
  • Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  • Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  • FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

When looking for antibiotic-free meat, it's best to familiarize yourself with the various labels11 currently in use, as some are useful, while others can be downright deceptive:

100% USDA Organic label offers excellent assurance that antibiotics have not been used at any stage of production.
"No antibiotics administered" and similar labels also offer high assurance that antibiotics have not been used, especially if accompanied by a "USDA process Verified" shield.
"Grass-fed" label coupled with USDA Organic label means no antibiotics have been used, but if the "grass-fed" label appears alone, antibiotics may have been given.
"American Grass-fed" and "Food Alliance Grass-fed" labels indicate that in addition to having been raised on grass, the animal in question received no antibiotics.
The following three labels: "Antibiotic-free," "No antibiotic residues," and "No antibiotic growth promotants," have not been approved by the USDA and may be misleading if not outright fraudulent.
"Natural" or "All-Natural" is completely meaningless and has no bearing on whether or not the animal was raised according to organic principles. "Natural" meat and poultry products can by law receive antibiotics, hormones, and genetically engineered grains, and can be raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
Monsanto Bids to Take Over Syngenta—A Move to Assure a Pesticide-Saturated Future? PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Monsanto recently made a bid to take over European agrichemical giant Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide producer. The $45 billion bid was rejected, but there’s still a chance for a merger between these two chemical technology giants.

Monsanto is reportedly considering raising the offer, and as noted by Mother Jones,1 “combined, the two companies would form a singular agribusiness behemoth, a company that controls a third of both the globe's seed and pesticides markets.”

As reported by Bloomberg,2 the possibility of Monsanto taking over Syngenta raises a number of concerns; a top one being loss of crop diversity.

“...[A] larger company would eventually mean fewer varieties of seeds available to farmers, say opponents such as [science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, Bill] Freese.

Another is that the combined company could spur increased use of herbicides by combining Syngenta’s stable of weed killers with Monsanto’s marketing heft and crop development expertise.

‘Two really big seed companies becoming one big seed company means even less choice for farmers,’ said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a policy group in Washington.

‘From a public health and environmental perspective this is a complete disaster,’ said Bill Freese... ‘The more I look at this, the more it worries me and the more it needs to be opposed.’”

What’s in a Name?

According to one analyst, the takeover might boost Monsanto’s reputation, as Syngenta has been “less publicly enthusiastic” about genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Personally, I don’t foresee Monsanto ever being able to shed its toxic reputation, no matter how it tries to rebrand itself. It recently tried to do just that by declaring itself "sustainable agriculture company.”

But actions speak louder than mere words, and there’s nothing sustainable about Monsanto’s business. Taking on the Syngenta name would do nothing to change the obnoxious dichotomy between Monsanto’s words and deeds.

In fact, Mother Jones astutely notes that by trying to acquire Syngenta, Monsanto contradicts “years of rhetoric about how its ultimate goal with biotech is to wean farmers off agrichemicals.”

It’s quite clear Monsanto has no desire or plans to help farmers reduce the use of crop chemicals. On the contrary, it has and continues to push for the increased use of its flagship product, Roundup.

Roundup Also Being Used to Harvest Non-GMO Crops

Not only has Monsanto created a line of GE Roundup-ready seeds, it also promotes the use of Roundup on conventional crops, pre-harvest, as described in its Pre-Harvest Staging Guide.3

Applying herbicide directly before harvesting helps dry the crop, boosts the release of seed, and is said to promote long-term control of certain weeds.

The practice is known as desiccation, and according to researchers Samsel and Seneff,4 the desiccation of conventionally grown wheat appears to be linked to the rapid and concurrent rise in celiac disease.

Applying glyphosate, which was recently classified as a Class 2A probable human carcinogen, on crops directly before harvest is one of the dumbest things we could do to our foods, yet Monsanto wholeheartedly supports and promotes it.

Speaking of reputation, Syngenta is hardly a poster child for sustainability and right action either. Not only is it the main supplier of the “gender-bending” herbicide atrazine in the US, it also makes neonicotinoids—a class of insecticide linked to the mass die-offs of bees and other pollinators

Both of these chemicals have come under increasing scrutiny as researchers have learned more about their environmental and human health impacts, and both are banned in Europe while still widely in use in the US.

Suppressing Science for the Chemical Industry?

As scrutiny into the effects of chemicals has intensified, so has strong-arm tactics by the industry, which has successfully infiltrated the very agencies charged with their oversight.

An open letter5 signed by more than 25 farmworker, environmental, and food safety organizations was sent to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on May 5, demanding the agency investigate reports of retaliation and suppression of research relating to the dangers of neonicotinoids and glyphosate.6

"It is imperative that the USDA maintains scientific integrity and does not allow for harassment, censorship, or suppression of findings that counter the interests of industry," the letter states.

In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a citizen petition requesting that the US Department of Agriculture adopt new policies that would further job protection for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals.

The petition urges for the agency to adopt policies that would specifically prevent the ‘political suppression or alteration of studies and lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations and of scientific misconduct.’

PEER has found that more than 10 USDA scientists have faced consequences or investigations when their work called into question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals.

These scientists documented clear actions that violated their scientific integrity, including USDA officials retracting studies, watering down findings, removing scientists’ names from authorship, and delaying approvals for publication of research papers.”

Many Elementary School Children at Risk of Elevated Pesticide Exposure

Monsanto’s marketing materials still proclaim its GE crops reduce the need for pesticides, but usage has steadily and significantly risen since the advent of GE seeds. The rapid emergence of resistant superweeds have led the industry to invent crop seeds resistant to even more toxic herbicides, such as 2,4-D and dicamba.

According to Dr. Medardo Ávila-Vázquez,7 a pediatrician and neonatologist at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the National University of Córdoba, glyphosate use in connection to GMO seeds is having a notably deleterious effect on the health of the local people, particularly children.

In light of the approval of these next-generation pesticides, it would behoove us to take notice to such warnings, because our kids are also becoming increasingly exposed. As reported by Global Research,8 children attending hundreds of elementary schools across the US are in harm’s way as toxic weed killers are doused on nearby GE fields in ever greater amounts:

“A new EWG interactive map shows the amounts of glyphosate sprayed in each US county and tallies the 3,247 elementary schools that are located within 1,000 feet of a corn or soybean field and the 487 schools that are within 200 feet. Click on any county on the map to see how much GMO corn and soy acreage has increased there as well as the number of nearby elementary schools.”

You will see that several states are outlined. This is where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo. This new herbicide, which is a mix of glyphosate and 2,4-D, will be used on a new generation of GE corn and soybeans engineered to withstand both of these toxins. Many of these states are already heavily sprayed with Roundup, and with the introduction of Enlist Duo, children who go to school near these farm fields may be exposed to greater risks than ever before.

The Organic Effect

While environmental exposure is certainly a concern, most people are exposed to pesticides via their diet. Claimed to be the largest of its kind, a study9 published in the Environmental Health Perspectives looked at the diets of nearly 4,500 people living in six US cities, assessing exposure levels to organophosphates (OPs), which are among the most commonly used pesticides on American farms.

Participants’ organophosphate levels were estimated using USDA data10 on the average levels of pesticide residue found in the fruits and vegetables that each individual reported eating. To verify the accuracy of their estimates, they compared their calculated pesticide exposures to the actual levels of pesticide metabolites (breakdown products) excreted in the urine of a subset of 720 participants.

Not surprisingly, those who ate conventionally grown produce were found to have high concentrations of OP metabolites, whereas those who ate organic produce had significantly lower levels. Those who “often or always” ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce. According to lead author Cynthia Curl: “The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference.”

The “organic effect” was also recently demonstrated by a Swedish family that agreed to eat nothing but organic food for two weeks. 11 Pesticide levels were measured before and after the switch, and after a fortnight of eating an all-organic diet, the family members’ toxic load had diminished to virtually nothing. While many organic foods have been shown to contain higher levels of nutrients,12,13,14 one of the major benefits you reap from eating organic is what you don’t get from your diet—all those toxic chemicals!

A Stanford University meta-analysis15 published in 2012 found that people who eat an organic diet not only tend to have lower levels of toxic pesticides in their system, organic meats were also far less likely to contain multi-drug resistant bacteria, which is yet another major health threat.

Many still insist we don’t know what the health ramifications are from eating pesticide-tainted foods, but common sense will tell you the effect is not going to do your health any favors. Many pesticides also do have well-established health effects. Organophosphate (OP) pesticides, for example, have been linked to reduced IQ and attention deficits in children.16,17 Symptoms of exposure include weakness, headache, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Long-term exposure has been linked to neurological effects, such as18 confusion, anxiety, and depression. According to data19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75 percent of the US population has detectable levels of OPs in their urine, and unless you’re a farmer, or live near a farm, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure. Considering depression affects one in 10 Americans, who’s to say OP pesticide exposure isn’t part of the problem?

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

To protect your health, your best bet is to buy only organic fruits and vegetables. That said, not all conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are subjected to the same amount of pesticide load. One way to save some money while still lowering your risk is by focusing on purchasing certain organic items, while “settling” for others that are conventionally grown. To do this, I recommend familiarizing yourself with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce.20

Of the fruits and vegetables tested by the EWG for the 2015 guide, the following “dirty dozen” had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organically. Also remember that swapping your regular meat sources to organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised versions of beef and poultry may be even more important than buying organic fruits and vegetables. The same goes for dairy products and animal by-products such as eggs.

Apples Peaches Nectarines
Strawberries Grapes Celery
Spinach Sweet bell peppers Cucumbers
Cherry tomatoes Imported snap peas Potatoes

In contrast, the following foods were found to have the lowest residual pesticide load, making them the safest bet among conventionally grown vegetables. Note that a small amount of sweet corn and most Hawaiian papaya, although low in pesticides, are genetically engineered (GE). If you’re unsure of whether the sweet corn or papaya is GE, I’d recommend opting for organic varieties. To review the ranking of all foods tested, please see the EWG’s 2015 Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce.21

AvocadoSweet corn Pineapple
Cabbage Frozen sweet peas Onions
Asparagus Mangoes Papayas (non-GMO. Most Hawaiian papaya is GMO)
Kiwi Eggplant Grapefruit
Cantaloupe Cauliflower Sweet potatoes

Where to Find Healthy Food

One of the most compelling reasons to eat organic is to avoid toxins. Organic foods do tend to have a better nutritional profile, but even if they do not, the absence of drugs, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics is more than enough of a reason to make the switch to protect your health. For a step-by-step guide to making healthier diet choices, please see my freely available optimized nutrition plan, starting with the beginner plan.

While many food stores carry organic foods these days, your best bet is to source it from a local grower, as much of the organic food sold in grocery stores is imported. Not only has this food traveled a long distance, adding to the carbon footprint, but some countries may have more lax organic standards than others.

Buying local food also supports local farmers and promotes the establishment of a more sustainable local food system. If you reside in the US, the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in the vicinity of where you live. Even better would be to grow it yourself. The nation’s health would radically improve if we could reestablish World War II Victory gardens.

Weston Price Foundation22 -- has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.
Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
US Honeybee Losses Soar Over Last Year, USDA Finds PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

A world without bees would be a very different place. Bees are pollinators – and critical ones at that. Of the 100 different crops that make up 90 percent of the world’s diet, bees pollinate 70.

The crops that make up about one out of every three bites of food depend on bees to flourish. Without bees, the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that you may currently take for granted at your grocery store could cease to exist… and along with them, the many other species that depend on them for food.

In an effort to show the critical importance of bees, one Whole Foods store removed all produce from plants dependent on pollinators. This involved pulling 237 of 453 products (or 52 percent) from the shelves. A sampling of the produce that disappeared without bees included the following:1

Apples Onions Avocados
Carrots Mangos Lemons
Limes Honeydew Cantaloupe
Zucchini Summer squash Eggplant
Cucumbers Celery Green onions
Cauliflower Leeks Bok choy
Kale Broccoli Broccoli rabe
Mustard greens

Honeybee Losses Soar in the US

In the 1940s, there were 5 million managed honeybee colonies in the US. Today there are half that number, while demand for pollination services (for crops including almonds, berries, and more) has increased.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is basically defined as a dead bee colony with no adult bees, or a colony with a live queen and only immature bees present, is often blamed for the ongoing honeybee losses, but no “official” cause has been named. According to the USDA’s internal research agency, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS):2

Colony losses from CCD are a very serious problem for beekeepers. Annual losses from the winter of 2006-2011 averaged about 33 percent each year, with a third of these losses attributed to CCD by beekeepers. The winter of 2011-2012 was an exception, when total losses dropped to 22 percent.

A 1-year drop is too short a time period to count as definitive improvement in honey bee colony survivorship. At least 2 to 3 years of consistently lower loss percentages is necessary before it is possible to be sure that CCD is on the decline.”

Indeed, the latest numbers from the USDA show that honeybee losses are, in fact, continuing to climb. From April 2014 to April 2015, losses of honeybee colonies hit 42 percent, which is the second highest annual loss to date.3 This percentage is down from 45 percent in 2012-2013, but remained well above the three prior years’ annual measurements.

Honeybee Losses Are Occurring at an ‘Economically Unsustainable’ Level

The USDA considers 18.7 percent to be the benchmark beyond which the losses become economically unsustainable. Even at the 33 percent level, ARS noted:4

“If losses continue at the 33 percent level, it could threaten the economic viability of the bee pollination industry. Honey bees would not disappear entirely, but the cost of honey bee pollination services would rise, and those increased costs would ultimately be passed on to consumers through higher food costs.”

Jeff Pettis, a USDA senior entomologist, told Reuters regarding the latest numbers:5

"Such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling… The bees should be surviving better, but the numbers say otherwise.”

The fact that high summer losses have been noted is also important, as mite infestations are more likely to occur in the winter. Bayer, Syngenta, and other chemical companies have blamed mites as a reason for the bee deaths, but the latest summer losses weaken their argument, according to Pettis. Instead, pesticide exposure is a likely factor.

Pesticide-Coated Seeds May Be Killing Bees

The majority of soybean, corn, canola, and sunflower seeds planted in the US are coated with neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics). The chemicals, which are produced by Bayer and Syngenta, travel systemically through the plants and kill insects that munch on their roots and leaves.

Neonicotinoids are powerful neurotoxins and are quite effective at killing the pests… but they’re also being blamed for decimating populations on non-target pests, namely pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

This occurs because the pesticides are taken up through the plant's vascular system as it grows, and, as a result, the chemical is expressed in the pollen and nectar of the plant.

Despite accumulating evidence that neonics are implicated in widespread bee deaths across the US, Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow, which sell the treated seeds, have no intention of stopping.

In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops,6 and in the US, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that they were restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing dinotefuran, a type of neonicotinoid.

Neonicotinoids have been increasingly blamed for bee deaths (and were implicated in the 2013 mass bee die-off of 25,000 bumblebees along with millions of bee deaths in Canada), prompting the European Union (EU) to ban them for two years, beginning December 1, 2013, to study their involvement with large bee kills.

Meanwhile, an independent review by 29 scientists with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (which looked at 800 studies) put another nail in the coffin for neonicotinoids. The study found neonicotinoids are gravely harming bees and other pollinators (like butterflies). The research also showed serious harm to birds, earthworms, snails, and other invertebrates.7 One of the researchers, Jean-Marc Bonmatin with the National Centre for Scientific Research, said:8

"The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT… Far from protecting food production, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it."

Monoculture and the Destruction of Grasslands Lead to Bee Death

It’s imperative to understand that agriculture is a complete “system” based on inter-related factors, and in order to maintain ecological balance and health, you must understand how that system works as a whole. Any time you change one part of that system, you change the interaction of all the other components, because they work together. It is simply impossible to change just one minor aspect without altering the entire system, and this is in part why monoculture is so destructive.

Monoculture is the growing of just one type of crop on a massive scale – a growing method that is contrary to nature. NPR commentator and science writer Craig Childs decided to replicate a photo project by David Liittschwager, a portrait photographer who spent years traveling the world dropping one-cubic-foot metal frames into gardens, streams, parks, forests, and oceans, photographing anything and everything that entered the frame.

Around the world, his camera captured thousands of plants, animals, and insects within the cubes, with entirely different “worlds” of plants and animals living as little as a few feet away from each other. But whereas Littschwager’s camera captured several dozens of insects wherever he set up his frames, Childs found nothing stirring among the genetically modified (GM) corn stalks on one 600-acre farm in Iowa. As reported by NPR:9

“It felt like another planet entirely,” Childs said. “I listened and heard nothing, no birds, no clicks from insects. There were no bees. The air, the ground, seemed vacant. Yet, 100 years ago, these same fields, these prairies, were home to 300 species of plants, 60 mammals, 300 birds, hundreds and hundreds of insects… This soil was the richest, the loamiest in the state. And now, in these patches, there is almost literally nothing but one kind of living thing. We’ve erased everything else.

There's something strange about a farm that intentionally creates a biological desert to produce food for one species: us. It's efficient, yes. But it's so efficient that the ants are missing, the bees are missing, and even the birds stay away. Something's not right here. Our cornfields are too quiet.”

Midwest Bees ‘Get It from All Sides’

GM corn is the epitome of monoculture, and the vast majority of GM corn is treated with neonicotinoids like clothianidin or thiamethoxam. As reported by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), honeybees in the Midwest “get it from all sides” when the vast expanses of GM corn are planted, as they:10

  • “Fly through clothianidin-contaminated planter dust
  • Gather clothianidin-laced corn pollen, which will then be fed to emerging larva
  • Gather water from acutely toxic, pesticide-laced guttation droplets
  • Gather pollen and nectar from nearby fields where forage sources such as dandelions have taken up these persistent chemicals from soil that’s been contaminated year on year since clothianidin’s widespread introduction into corn cultivation in 2003”

And the neonicotinoids are not the only chemicals the bees have to worry about. According to PANNA:11

“Over the last 15 years, US corn cultivation has gone from a crop requiring little-to-no insecticides and negligible amounts of fungicides, to a crop where the average acre is grown from seeds treated or genetically engineered to express three different insecticides (as well as a fungicide or two) before being sprayed prophylactically with Roundup (an herbicide) and a new class of fungicides that farmers didn’t know they 'needed' before the mid-2000s.”

Measures that target single classes of pesticides, though a move in the right direction, may actually be falling short. In 2013, researchers analyzed pollen from bee hives in seven major crops and found 35 different pesticides along with high fungicide loads.12 Each sample contained, on average, nine different pesticides and fungicides, although one contained 21 different chemicals. Furthermore, when the pollen was fed to healthy bees, they had a significant decline in the ability to resist infection with the Nosema ceranae parasite, which has been implicated in CCD.

Pollinators Are Losing Their Natural Foraging Areas

In addition to exposure to agricultural chemicals, mass conversions of grasslands to corn and soy in the Midwest have dramatically reduced bees’ natural foraging areas. This is affecting not only bees but also other pollinators like the Monarch butterfly. Milkweeds are critical to the Monarch’s survival because they’re the only food source for Monarch larvae.

Milkweeds that used to abundantly line the Monarch’s flight path have been largely eradicated by modern agriculture. Not only are chemicals, including the herbicide Roundup, killing the milkweeds, but prairies are being replaced by cornfields, and roadsides are being mowed where milkweeds previously grew wild.

Many equate modern farming techniques with “progress,” when in fact many of our technological “advancements” are now threatening to destroy us right along with the entire planet. There are major differences between industrial farming and regenerative agriculture, and the foods produced by the former cannot be equated to the foods produced by the latter. GM plants and industrial farming contributes to every form of environmental devastation, while organic farming methods support, restore, and rejuvenate the ecosystem.

What Can Help to Save the Bees?

By plowing up grasslands to grow monocrops, we are contributing to environmental destruction and world hunger. One important factor that some experts believe is KEY for reversing environmental devastation is to return much of our land to grasslands and build a network of herbivore economics. There is no better way to improve the conditions for animals, protect pollinators, bring more revenue to farmers, and improve our health by purchasing nutritious foods from properly pastured animals.

By mimicking the natural behavior of migratory herds of wild grazing animals—meaning allowing livestock to graze freely, and moving the herd around in specific patterns—farmers can support nature's efforts to regenerate and thrive, while providing natural, chemical-free foraging area for pollinators and other beneficial insects.

The good news is that we don't need to invent yet another chemical or a new piece of farm equipment to solve this problem. We simply need to revert to a system that works with nature rather than against it. And this involves grazing cattle. My previous article discussing the work of ecologist Allan Savory goes into this process in greater detail.

Further, to avoid harming bees and other helpful pollinators that visit your garden, swap out toxic pesticide and lawn chemicals for organic weed and pest control alternatives. Even some organic formulations can be harmful to beneficial insects, so be sure to vet your products carefully. Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant an edible organic garden. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide good honeybee habitats. It's also recommended to keep a small basin of fresh water in your garden or backyard, as bees actually do get thirsty.

In order to support the Monarch butterflies, consider planting a locally appropriate species of milkweed in your garden, on your farm, or wherever you manage habitat. You can use the Milkweed Seed Finder to locate seeds in your area. Whatever you choose to grow, please avoid purchasing pesticide-treated plants. Cut flower growers are among the heaviest users of toxic agricultural chemicals, including pesticides, so if you must buy cut flowers, make sure you select only organically grown and/or fair trade bouquets.

Ideally, you'll want to grow your own pollinator-friendly plants from organic, untreated seed, but if you opt to purchase starter plants, make sure to ask whether or not they've been pre-treated with pesticides. Keep in mind that you also help protect the welfare of all pollinators every time you shop organic and grass-fed, as you are actually “voting” for less pesticides and herbicides with every organic and pastured food and consumer product you buy.

You can take bee preservation a step further by trying your hand at amateur beekeeping. Maintaining a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time each week, benefits your local ecosystem—and you get to enjoy your own homegrown honey!

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  

Page 1 of 80

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By Dr. Mercola About 75 percent of California residents have flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies, according to a late 2014 study.1 Many of them had no less than six different kinds, including one (chlorinated tris, or
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Vintage Looking Noveltree Bookshelf Ladder Inspired by Classic Libraries
Collect this idea Inspired by classic libraries which often hold towering high shelves to store the vast amount of old literature, the Noveltree by Nieuwe Heren is our star design project for the day. The books that are
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Surprising Modern Deronda Residence Located Just Below the Hollywood Sign
Collect this idea Deronda Residence is an imposing family home located near the apex of Beachwood Canyon, in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California. According to the architects at Space International, the project
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Connecting Three Historic Dwellings with a Modern Extension: Inspiring House in Vexin
Collect this idea Recently completed by French architect Jean-Philippe Doré, House in Vexin is an inspiring project that connects three historic homes with a modern extension. One of the main challenges was to renovate
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Hidden Illustrations Revealed Under UV Lighting by Canada’s Newest Passport Designs
Collect this idea For those interested in design and its infinite possibilities, have a look at these Canadian passports and their surprising security feature! Canada’s newest passport designs may look common at a first
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Bright Two-Room Apartment in Sweden Exhibiting an Interesting Modern Layout
Collect this idea Making the most of its central location in the lovely city of Gothemburg, Sweden, this bright and spacious two-room apartment offers extensive surrounding views. Spotted on Alvhem, the crib is located in a
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Doomsday Clock set at 3 minutes to midnight 24 January 2015, 00.25 Living
Doomsday Clock set at 3 minutes to midnight
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists adjusts the clock based on threats to humanity's survival. The world is "3 minutes" from doomsday. That's the grim outlook from board members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
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25 quotes that will rekindle your connection to nature
These wise words from great authors and naturalists provide wonderful material for meditating on wilderness and natural places. Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 10:30 AM Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock Photo: BlueOrange
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Surprise! Fish lurk in Antarctica's dark underworld
The aquatic creatures likely survive on microscopic marine creatures that have been released by melting glacial ice. A fish seen at the Ross Ice Shelf grounding zone beneath nearly 2,500 feet of ice. (Photo: Deep-SCINI UNL
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8 unforgettable photos of the sun taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory
Celebrating the NASA observatory's 100 millionth image of our favorite star. All photos: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA Over the weekend, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) hit a major milestone. Just under five years
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See 3 moons of Jupiter perform rare triple transit
Break out the telescopes tonight to see Io, Europa and Callisto crossing the face of Jupiter. An extremely rare event occurs on the night of Jan. 23, 2015, when three of Jupiter’s moons and their shadows cross the face of the
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Why energy efficiency is the fifth fuel 24 January 2015, 00.25 Living
Why energy efficiency is the fifth fuel
Better technology and more accessible data are helping drive new change. Energy efficiency is the right thing to do. But it is not often thought of as "sexy" in the same way as its cutting-edge clean energy cousins like wind or
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The Bitter Truth About Sugar 08 January 2015, 00.14 Health
The Bitter Truth About Sugar
By Dr. Mercola Dr. Robert Lustig, a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at UC San Francisco, has been on the forefront of the movement to educate people about the health hazards of sugar and
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Feds Vow to Publicize Vaccine Injuries Claim Program
By Dr. Mercola If you or your child were to be seriously injured after receiving a routine US government-recommended vaccination, your only recourse would be to apply to the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
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Updates on Ebola and Ozone Therapy 08 January 2015, 00.14 Health
Updates on Ebola and Ozone Therapy
By Dr. Mercola The most tweeted term in 2014 was "Ebola," a highly infectious and lethal disease that's been rapidly spreading in West Africa. In October, I interviewed Dr. Robert Rowen, a leading expert on oxidative
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Mom’s Best Fried Chicken Recipe 08 January 2015, 00.14 Health
Mom’s Best Fried Chicken Recipe
By Dr. Mercola Everybody loves good ‘ole fried chicken. But sadly, it’s almost impossible to enjoy a bucket of your favorite fried chicken guilt-free these days, with all the health concerns involving the trans-fats,
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Are You Trading Your Omega-3s for PCBs with Your Choice of Salmon?
By Dr. Mercola The omega-3 levels in farmed salmon seem to have entered a free fall. Today's farmed fillet may contain as little as half of the omega-3s as it did less than a decade ago, according to the International
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A Compelling Documentary About the Causes of Antibiotic Resistance, and How to Fix It
By Dr. Mercola Collectively, microorganisms outweigh the human population by 100 million times. They're all around you, and inside you. Your gastrointestinal tract alone houses some 100 trillion bacteria. The microorganisms
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Top 10 Articles of 2014 08 January 2015, 00.14 Health
Top 10 Articles of 2014
By Dr. Mercola Another year has passed and, for the 10th year in a row, Mercola.com remains the most visited natural health site on the Web. Ever since the inception of Mercola.com, I and my team have been committed
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Contradicting Previous Announcements That Obesity Among Kindergarteners Is Declining, New Research Shows Severe Obesity Is on the Rise
By Dr. Mercola As recently as February, a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in JAMA1 declared that obesity rates among two- to five-year olds declined by 43 percent in the past
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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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