Archives for category: Health

By Dr. Mercola

Mounting research suggests that your microbiome—colonies of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes living in your gut—may be one of the preeminent factors determining your health and longevity.

Feeding health-promoting gut bacteria with a healthy diet, avoiding hospitals (which are hotbeds for drug-resistant bacteria), and boycotting processed foods and animal foods raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)—both of which tend to have an adverse effect on your microbiome—may be keystone strategies for longevity.

Beneficial Microbes Prevent Disease

A number of studies have begun to identify specific species of bacteria that appear to have specialized functions and abilities to prevent disease.

For example, in one study, DNA analysis of diseased sections of intestine removed from patients suffering from Crohn’s disease revealed that one particular bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, was lower than normal.

While researchers have linked the presence of specific bacteria to various diseases, this finding suggests certain species may be actively involved in preventing certain disease states.

When Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was transferred into mice, it protected them against induced intestinal inflammation, suggesting this particular species may play an important anti-inflammatory role in the human microbiota. As reported by Scientific American:1

“Each of us harbors a teeming ecosystem of microbes that outnumbers the total number of cells in the human body by a factor of 10 to one and whose collective genome is at least 150 times larger than our own. 

In 2012 the National Institutes of Health completed the first phase of the Human Microbiome Project, a multimillion-dollar effort to catalogue and understand the microbes that inhabit our bodies. The microbiome varies dramatically from one individual to the next and can change quickly over time in a single individual… 

[A] burgeoning body of research suggests that the makeup of this complex microbial ecosystem is closely linked with our immune function. Some researchers now suspect that, aside from protecting us from infection, one of the immune system’s jobs is to cultivate, or ‘farm,’ the friendly microbes that we rely on to keep us healthy.” 

Specific Microbes with Health-Promoting Functions

One group of microbes that appear important for maintaining healthy immune function is the clostridial group of microbes—ironically enough, this group is related to Clostridium difficile, which can cause severe and life-threatening intestinal infections.

But whereas C. difficile prompts chronic inflammation, the clostridial clusters help maintain a healthy and well-functioning gut barrier, preventing inflammatory agents from entering your bloodstream.

The featured research suggests that while certain genetic factors can predispose you to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s, it’s actually the loss of anti-inflammatory microbes that ultimately allow the disease to blossom. As noted by Scientific American:2

“[A]lthough… other good bacteria besides F. prausnitzii exist, this similarity hinted at a potential one-size-fits-all remedy for Crohn’s and possibly other inflammatory disorders: restoration of peacekeeping microbes… 

The tremendous microbial variation now evident among people has forced scientists to rethink how these communities work. Whereas a few years ago they imagined a core set of human-adapted microbes common to us all, they are now more likely to discuss core functions—specific jobs fulfilled by any number of microbes.”

Inflammatory bowel diseases are not the only health problems affected alterations in your microbiome. Other research has found that onset of type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease) in young children tends to be preceded by a change in gut bacteria.

Previous research has also found that certain microbes can help prevent type 1 diabetes, suggesting your gut flora may indeed be an epigenetic factor that plays a significant role in this condition.

Research also suggests there’s a connection between certain types of bacteria and body fat that produces a heightened inflammatory response that contributes to the metabolic dysfunction associated with type 2 diabetes.

In addition, preliminary research3  presented in 2010 revealed that transplanting fecal matter from healthy thin people into obese people with metabolic syndrome led to an improvement in insulin sensitivity, again suggesting that such conditions can be effectively addressed by correcting the microbial composition of your gut.

Antibiotic Overuse Has Fueled More Deadly Infections

Just as some bacteria help prevent disease, others promote it. One such bacterium is Clostridium difficile,4 the prevalence of which has steadily risen as a result of massive antibiotic overuse, especially in farm animals.

According to the latest statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half a million Americans were infected with Clostridium difficile in 2011, and 29,000 of them died within a month of diagnosis.5,,7Besides the human death toll, fighting C. difficile costs hospitals a staggering $4.8 billion per year.8

Hospitals are the number one location where you’re apt to contract this type of infection, but the CDC also notes that many appear to have contracted it during visits to doctor’s and dental offices.9 Nursing homes are also hotbeds for this hard-to-treat infection. As reported by Reuters:10

“The study11 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on the Clostridium difficile bacterium, which can cause deadly diarrhea. The findings… highlight how overprescription of antibiotics has fueled a rise in bacteria that are resistant to treatment.

People who take antibiotics are most at risk of acquiring C. difficile because these medications also wipe out ‘good’ bacteria that protect a healthy person against the infection. 

‘Antibiotics are clearly driving this whole problem,’ Clifford McDonald, CDC senior advisor for science and integrity, said… One in every three infections occurred in patients 65 and older, the study found, with more than 100,000 C. difficile cases found in US nursing homes.”

Fecal Transplants Found Effective Against C. Difficile Infections

One novel treatment that has been shown to be quite effective against C. difficile infections is the fecal transplant.12 Fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) is a relatively simple procedure that involves taking feces from a healthy donor and transferring it to the patient during a colonoscopy.

The patient basically receives a transplanted population of healthy flora that can go to work correcting any number of gastrointestinal problems, including C. difficile infection.

According to Dr. Mark Mellow, medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, fecal transplants lead to rapid resolution of symptoms in 98 percent of patients with Clostridium difficile who have not responded to other treatments.

While I believe fecal transplantation can be lifesaving in some circumstances, I want to make it clear that you will likely never have to resort to receiving donated feces if you address your gut health on a daily basis—by avoiding factors that kill off your beneficial gut bacteria, and continuously “reseeding” your gut through a healthy diet and regular use of fermented vegetables. Also, any time you take an antibiotic, it is important to take probiotics and/or fermented vegetables to repopulate the beneficial bacteria in your gut that are killed by the antibiotic, right along with the pathogenic bacteria. If you don’t, you’re leaving the door wide open for further health problems.

Beware of the Risks of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospitals are notorious hotbeds for drug-resistant disease, and hospital-acquired infections now affect one in 25 patients! Some of these infections are resistant to antibiotics, which is why avoiding hospitals, barring an acute, life-threatening condition, is good advice. You could enter with a minor ailment only to come out with one that is much worse…

In an effort to rein in some of these hospital-acquired drug-resistant infections, the US government is now finalizing new cleaning protocols for duodenoscopes13,14—camera-equipped flexible tubes that are threaded through your mouth, down your throat, through your stomach into the top of your small intestine. These reusable medical instruments have been implicated in a number of hospital-acquired drug-resistant outbreaks. In the latest outbreak, two of the seven patients affected died. The family members of one of them recently spoke out,15 chastising the hospital for not disclosing the risks of contracting such lethal infections upon admission.

According to Dr. John Allen, president of the American Gastroenterological Association:16 “This problem has been known since at least 1987. It certainly is disturbing that a fundamental design issue with these scopes would cause problems for this long.”

Factory Farming Is a Major Promoter of Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens

While antibiotics are certainly overprescribed in medicine, the primary driver of deadly “superbugs” is actually factory farming. Animals raised in CAFOs are routinely given low doses of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent diseases resulting from the crowded and unsanitary conditions of these facilities. Eighty percent of all antibiotics sold in the US are fed to livestock, so eating CAFO-raised foods is likely to be the greatest source of antibiotics for many people.

Not only may this low-dose ingestion of antibiotics have an adverse effect on the composition of your microbiome, thereby affecting your health, about half of all meats sold in American grocery stores have also been found to harbor drug-resistant bacteria that can cause severe food-borne illness. This is one of the reasons why I recommend eating only organically-raised, grass-fed or pastured meats and other animal products, such as dairy and eggs, as organic standards do not permit non-medical use of antibiotics.

Processed Food Ingredients That Decimate Your Microbiome

Besides avoiding CAFO-raised animal food products, you’d also be wise to reconsider your consumption of processed foods of all kinds. Not only are processed foods very high in added sugars—high fructose corn syrup in particular—but recent research has also found that emulsifiers found in processed foods have a very detrimental effect on your microbiome. As reported by Time Magazine:17

“Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other ‘gums,’ all of which keep ingredients—often oils and fats—from separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found on supermarket shelves, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties. Now, a new study18… suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract.”

In this study, widely used food additives caused chronic colitis in mice with already abnormal immune systems. In mice with healthy immune function, they resulted in mild intestinal inflammation and subsequent metabolic dysfunction that led to obesity, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance. Most notably, the emulsifiers were fed at levels that an average person would be exposed to if eating a lot of processed foods, suggesting these additives may indeed affect the health of many Americans.

Food additives such as these are all approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), again highlighting the severe limitation of our current regulatory system. A 2013 study19 published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that nearly 80 percent of the food additives approved by the FDA lack testing information that would help the agency estimate the amount people can safely consume before suffering health consequences…

Optimizing Your Gut Flora May Be One of Your Most Important Disease Prevention Strategies

Overusing antibiotics on humans and animals that do not need them has led to a pandemic of antibiotic-resistant disease, and both medical and agricultural uses are in dire need of serious revisions. Unfortunately, such changes are slow in the making, and I advise you not to wait for the food and medical industry to correct the problem. It seems quite clear that optimizing your gut flora may be one of the most important things you can do for your health, and here you can wield your personal power to the fullest, by making healthy food and medical choices.

Not only can optimizing your gut health help normalize your weight and ward off diabetes, it’s also a critical component for a well-functioning immune system, which is your primary defense against all sorts of disease—including infections. Reseeding your gut with beneficial bacteria is key for preventing pathogenic microbes and fungi from taking over and wreaking havoc with your health. To optimize your microbiome, keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Eat plenty of fermented foodsTraditionally fermented and cultured foods are one of the best routes to optimal digestive health. Healthy choices include lassi, fermented grass-fed organic milk such as kefir, various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots, and natto (fermented soy). Fermented vegetables, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into our gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people. As an added bonus, they can also a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using a starter culture that is optimized with bacterial strains that produce high levels of vitamin K2.
  • Take a probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics is an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

In addition to knowing what to add to your diet and lifestyle, it’s equally important to know what to avoid, and these include:

Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotic supplement) Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plus genetically engineered grains, which have also been implicated in the destruction of gut flora Processed foods. Excessive sugars, along with otherwise “dead” nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria. Food emulsifiers such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan gum also appear to have an adverse effect on your gut flora.20

Unless 100% organic, they may also contain GMOs that tend to be heavily contaminated with pesticides such as glyphosate

Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water Antibacterial soap Agricultural chemicals, glyphosate(Roundup) in particular

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  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) – A non-profit organization that seeks to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending your right of informed choice.
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The research by Dr. Rory Collins has been widely used to justify putting millions of people on statin drugs to lower their cholesterol. However, after being challenged to release his data


icon1.png on side effects, he has changed his tune. Now he is claiming that there may be serious side effects but that he has not seen data on that – the same data that previously he said he would not share with others. Statins are the world’s best-selling pharmaceutical drugs of all time. Can you smell the stench?

Statin Drug Scandal: Cholesterol-lowering Drug Researchers Start Backtracking

Health Impact News Editor Comments

The cholesterol-lowering statin drug empire continues to crumble. This past Sunday (February 15, 2015) the Sunday Express in the UK published a headline story stating that Oxford professor Dr. Rory Collins, whose research had been used to support putting millions of patients on statin drugs, was reassessing the data behind those studies for possible drug side effects they might have missed previously.

According to the Express:

Although the original research looked at the effect of statins on the heart and considered cancer risks


icon1.png it did not examine other side effects.

A Pharmaceutical Scandal that Can No Longer Be Hidden?

This announcement by Dr. Collins is stunning, to say the least, and points to a massive cover-up and scandal related to statin drugs.

In 2014, Dr. Collins supported calls in the UK to put more people on statin drugs. However, he met with some opposition, and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a couple of articles documenting some of the side effects of statin drugs, which would call into question new government guidelines that would encourage physicians to put more patients on the already popular class


icon1.png of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Statins are the world’s best selling pharmaceutical drugs of all time, with no close competitors.

Dr. Collins criticized the  BMJ articles, and demanded that they retract them. According to Dr. Malcolm Kendrick:

He stated that these articles were irresponsible, worse than Andrew Wakefield’s work on the MMR vaccine, and that thousands would die if they were scared off taking their statins by such articles. (Source.)

Heart of the Matter – Part 1

video here   Vimeo

Heart of the Matter Part 2 – Cholesterol Drug War

video here    Vimeo

– See more at:

In her recent article she makes a very stark warning that by the year 2025, half of all American children could have autism. That’s an alarming increase over one decade.

She claims it all comes down to a chemical called glyphosate, commonly found in Monsanto’s herbicide, RoundUp. So what happens when a human comes in contact with that chemical?……

(From Diseases of the brain are rampant in America today, and evidence suggests that a popular class of pharmaceutical drugs may be largely to blame. They’re known as statins, and the science behind how they function in the body reveals that these powerful drugs gradually degrade the brain by depriving it of cholesterol, leading to memory problems, dementia and other similar conditions.

In his book Lipitor: Thief of Memory, Dr. Duanne Graveline, M.D., wrote about his horrific experience with statins, and how they caused him to suffer two transient global amnesia events as well as chronic neuropathy. The former astronaut and aerospace medical research scientist explains how these traumatic events were the direct result of statins altering his brain.

His good friend Dr. David Brownstein also highlighted the mechanics behind this damage on his blog, pointing out that statins work by poisoning an enzyme known as HMG-CoA reductase, which the body uses to produce cholesterol, adrenal hormones, sex hormones and memory proteins. HMG-CoA reductase is also responsible for maintaining cell energy, which is needed by every system of the body.

Artificially blocking or otherwise inhibiting this vital enzyme is a recipe for health disaster, explains Dr. Brownstein, which is why he advises against anyone taking statin drugs. He also questions why any cognizant doctor would prescribe them, knowing that as many as 3.6 million people have reported brain dysfunction as a result of their use.

“You can’t poison a crucial enzyme or block an important receptor for the long-term and expect a good result,” explained Dr. Brownstein in his book Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do.

Statins destroy the body and they don’t even work

Based on the thousands of entries published in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Adverse Events Database, statins have been linked to everything from short-term memory loss and disorientation to chronic depression and dementia. This same database reports well over 100,000 adverse events in other areas as well, which based on the 1-10% reporting rate probably translates into millions of people harmed by statins.

As we’ve reported in multiple instances, statin use is linked to liver damage, kidney poisoning, muscle pain and degradation, and heart failure, as well as many other health conditions. And the worst part is that statins have never even been shown to work as claimed, which means they’re both ineffective and highly destructive.

“Perhaps we could live with all these adverse drug reactions if statins significantly lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease. But, they don’t,” wrote Dr. Brownstein on his blog.

“Statins have never been convincingly shown to prevent a first heart attack in both men and women. In men, the best of the statin studies show a 1-4% reduced risk of preventing a secondary cardiac event. In women, the numbers are worse.”

This is highly disconcerting in light of calls by some medical professionals for statins to be handed out like candy, or even dripped into public water supplies alongside fluoride. This so-called “medicine” is wreaking havoc on public health, and it doesn’t even provide any legitimate therapeutic benefits. So why is it still on the market?

“These drugs frequently cause muscle damage, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, muscle aches, exercise intolerance (even in the absence of pain and elevated CPK — a muscle enzyme), sexual dysfunction, liver and nerve damage and other problems in 10-15 percent of patients who take them,” added Dr. Mark Hyman.

“They can also cause significant cellular, muscle, and nerve injury as well as cell death in the ABSENCE of symptoms.”


Learn more:

Phthalates and BPA Linked to IQ Reductions in Children

By Dr. Mercola

A number of chemicals found in plastic products are known to act as endocrine disruptors. Being similar in structure to natural sex hormones, they interfere with the normal functioning of those hormones.

This is particularly problematic in children who are still growing and developing, as the glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of your body.

Your endocrine system as a whole is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals have in fact been linked to a number of reproductive health problems.

Phthalates are among the most pervasive of all known endocrine disrupters. According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency1 (EPA), more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year.

They’re primarily used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient, but they can also be found in air fresheners, dryer sheets, and personal care products like shampoo, shower gels, and makeup. Their prevalence in personal care products is thought to be the reason why women tend to have higher levels of phthalates in their system than men.

Furniture, upholstery, mattresses, and wall coverings can also contain phthalates. They’ve even been detected in infant formula and baby food (likely because they migrated from the packaging materials).

Phthalates Now Linked to Reduced IQ in Children

While previous research has linked phthalate exposure to birth defects, low sperm count, polycystic ovary disease, and early or delayed puberty, just to name a few, recent research suggests prenatal phthalate exposure may also lead to reduced IQ in children.2,3

They also found an association between phthalate concentrations in the mother’s system during pregnancy and the child’s ability to concentrate, working memory, their perceptual reasoning skills, and the time it took for the child to process and retrieve information at the age of seven. As reported by CNN Health:4

“Women who had a high amount of the chemicals called di-n-butyl phthalate and di-isobutyl phthalate in their bodies during pregnancy gave birth to children who had markedly lower IQ scores, according to a new study running in the journal PLOS One.5

The study found that by the age of seven, children exposed to more of these chemicals had IQs that were more than six points lower than children exposed to lower levels of the chemicals…

The results from this study were not entirely what the authors expected. ‘We are a little surprised at the magnitude of the IQ drop,’ Factor-Litvak said… ‘We are not happy about the finding since phthalates are very ubiquitous in the environment.'”

The exact cause for the reduction in IQ is still unknown, as this was only an observational study, but previous animal research has found that:6

  • Phthalates may affect the activity of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Estrogen plays an important role in brain development
  • The chemical may interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, which plays a role in the timing of brain development
  • Phthalates may also disrupt brain activity related to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can produce symptoms like inattention and hyperactivity

BPA Can Have a Direct, Immediate Impact on Cardiovascular Health

Phthalates are not the only endocrine disruptor that can produce chronic health problems. Like phthalates, bisphenol-A (BPA) can be found in countless personal care and plastic products, including the liner of canned goods, plastic- and non-stick food containers, plastic wraps, water bottles, and cashier’s receipts.

BPA, which mimics the hormone estrogen, has been linked to:

Structural damage to your brain Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian toxicity,7 and infertility8
Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning Heart disease
Increased fat formation and risk of obesity Stimulation of prostate cancer cells
Altered immune function Increased prostate size, decreased sperm production, and hypospadias9 (penis deformation)

Now we can add high blood pressure to this list. According to a brand new randomized, controlled trial,10 BPA from cans or plastic bottles can raise your blood pressure within just a few hours of ingestion.11 As reported by the New York Times:12

“The study found that when people drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose dramatically within two hours – and so did their blood pressure. But on days when they drank the same beverage from glass bottles, which don’t use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or blood pressure…

[T]he findings suggest that for people who drink from multiple cans or plastic bottles every day, the repeated exposure over time could contribute to hypertension.”

The amount of BPA leaching from the lining of cans may actually be more significant than previously thought. After drinking from a can, the levels of BPA in the participants’ urine rose by about 1,600 percent, compared to when they drank soy milk stored in glass.

According to the authors, the effects may be caused by the fact that BPA blocks estrogen receptors that are involved with repairing blood vessels and controlling blood pressure. By disrupting your thyroid hormone, BPA may also affect your blood pressure indirectly. Lead author Dr. Yun-Chul Hong told the New York Times:13

“‘Clinicians and patients – particularly hypertension or cardiovascular disease patients – should be aware of the potential clinical problems for blood pressure elevation when consuming canned food and beverages.’ …He recommended that people choose fresh foods and glass bottles over cans and plastic containers, and he urged manufacturers ‘to develop and use healthy alternatives to BPA for the inner lining of can containers.'”

Amid Negative Publicity, FDA Reaffirms BPA’s Safety

The industry trade group, the American Chemistry Council, has continually insisted that BPA is safe,14 and has opposed both state and federal legislative proposals to ban the chemical.

Interestingly, just three days prior to the online publication of the featured BPA study, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official announcement15 in which it reaffirms BPA’s safety. After a four-year long review16 of 300 studies, the FDA has concluded that “BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in food.” The agency also stated that “the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging.”

It is beyond irrational to conclude anything other than this verdict is a favor to the chemical industry. There is damning evidence against the use of BPA—particularly in food-related products that is being ignored. Ironically, Bloomberg,17 in reporting on the FDA’s announcement, even mentions that there are “more than 800 academic studies that have concluded bisphenol-A could harm reproduction and development.” So why did the FDA only review 300? And which 300 did they choose? And if there are 800 showing developmental harm, how is it that they managed to pick 300 that fail to make such a connection?

FDA’s Assessment Is NOT in Line with International Findings

The fact of the matter is, when industry funds research, the results are FAR more likely to support the industry’s claim of safety and effectiveness, and we know that many BPA studies were funded by the chemical industry. As discussed in a previous article, there’s also a hidden network at play. Not only has the chemical industry borrowed the tobacco industry’s strategies to keep their products on the market, they’re also using tobacco industry ‘experts’ to back up their safety claims…

For example, industry-funded studies get published in certain journals that in many cases have links to the tobacco industry. The chemical industry has also relied on scientists that previously helped discredit the science linking smoking and second-hand smoke exposure to disease. Leaked minutes18 from a 2009 meeting of the BPA Joint Trade Association also revealed some of the tactics involved in shaping public opinion, regardless of the scientific facts.

Members of this trade association include the American Chemical Council, the American Chemistry Council, Coca-Cola, Del Monte, and many others. In this meeting, they explored a variety of messaging strategies. The attendees agreed that “the holy grail spokesperson” would be “a pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.” One of the most disturbing aspects of the chemical industry’s efforts to hide hazardous effects is that they purposely target those who are the most vulnerable to damage, such as young children and pregnant women.

The FDA’s assessment also flies in the face of a recent report co-produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), titled: “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals,”19 issued on February 19, 2014This report suggests an outright ban on endocrine disrupting chemicals may be needed to protect the health of future generations. Touted as the most comprehensive report on endocrine disrupting chemicals to date, it highlights a wide variety of health problems associated with exposure, including:

Non-descended testes in young males Breast cancer in women Prostate cancer in men
Developmental effects on the nervous system in children Attention deficit /hyperactivity in children Thyroid cancer

According to the report:

 “The diverse systems affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals likely include all hormonal systems and range from those controlling development and function of reproductive organs to the tissues and organs regulating metabolism and satiety. Effects on these systems can lead to obesity, infertility or reduced fertility, learning and memory difficulties, adult-onset diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases.” 

Beware: BPA-Free Claims Are Not an Assurance of Safety

In response to consumer demand for BPA-free products, many manufacturers have switched to using a different chemical called bisphenol-S (BPS). However, BPS appears to be just as toxic as BPA. In some cases, it appears to be even worse! Trading one endocrine-disrupting chemical for another is hardly making products any safer so, unfortunately, the “BPA-free” label may not mean much. Last year, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch discovered that even minute concentrations—less than one part per trillion—of BPS can disrupt cellular functioning.

Metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, and even cancer, are potential ramifications of such disruptions. Other animal tests20 also show that BPS has very similar effects as BPA. For example, researchers studying the effects of BPS on zebra fish embryos found that fish exposed to BPS in similar concentrations as that found in the water of a nearby river experienced explosive neuronal growth, which led to hyperactive and erratic behavior.

Fish embryos exposed to BPS had a 170 percent increase in neuronal growth; while those exposed to BPA had a 240 percent increase. Another study using rats found that exposure to either BPA or BPS caused heart arrhythmia in the females. Here, the dose used was similar to concentrations found in humans. The researchers discovered that BPS blocked an estrogen receptor found only in the females, which disrupted the calcium channels. This is also a common cause of heart arrhythmia in humans.

Tips to Help You Avoid Toxic Chemicals

Although it’s virtually impossible to steer clear of ALL potentially hazardous chemicals, you can certainly minimize your exposure by keeping some key principles in mind.

  1. Eat mostly fresh, raw whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of BPA and phthalates—particularly cans, but also foods packaged in plastic wrap.
  2. Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans.
  3. Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap. Use glass containers if heating food in your microwave, as heat tends to increase the release of chemicals from plastic. Be aware that even “BPA-free” plastics  typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad as BPA.
  4. Use glass baby bottles for your infants.
  5. Be careful with cash register receipts. If you use a store regularly, encourage the management to switch to BPA-free receipts. I shop at Publix for my food and when I called them about the receipts it turns out they already switched. Nevertheless it is wise to limit your contact with all these receipts.
  6. Look for products that are made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses, and more. When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings, the latter of which is another source of phthalates.
  7. Choose toys made from natural materials to avoid plastic chemicals like phthalates and BPA/BPS, particularly for items your child may be prone to suck or chew on.
  8. Breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, for at least the first year (as you will avoid phthalates exposure from infant formula packaging and plastic bottles/nipples).
  9. Use natural cleaning products, or make your own.
  10. Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database21 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
  11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one.
  12. Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives. While most ingredients in feminine hygiene products are undisclosed, tests suggest they may contain dioxins and petrochemical additives.
  13. Look for fragrance-free products; phthalates are often used to help the product hold its fragrance longer. Artificial fragrance can also contain hundreds—even thousands—of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners, dryer sheets, air fresheners, and scented candles for the same reason.
  14. Check your home’s tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary. You may also want to use an alternative to PVC pipes for your water supply.
  15. Teach your children not to drink water from the garden hose, as many are made with phthalate-containing plastics. They are typically more expensive but usually higher quality hoses and well worth the investment.


By Dr. Mercola

As noted in the featured video, there are currently five different artificial sweeteners on the market. The one you’re most likely to encounter is aspartame, which also tends to be the worst of the bunch.

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are primarily promoted to diabetics and those concerned about their weight. This despite the fact that artificial sweeteners have repeatedly been shown to produce the exact opposite effects:

Over time, artificial sweeteners have also crept into a wide variety of products not directly targeting diabetics and dieters.

Artificial sweeteners are added to about 6,000 different beverages, snacks, and food products, making label-reading an ever pressing necessity. Disturbingly, food industry groups are now trying to hide the presence of artificial sweeteners in certain foods…

Like GMOs, Industry Wants to Hide Artificial Sweeteners in Foods

Last year, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) filed a petition with the FDA requesting the agency amend the standard of identity for milk and 17 other dairy products, in order to allow for the addition of artificial sweeteners without having to indicate their use on the label.

The IDFA claims the proposed amendments would “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products” since many children are more inclined to drink flavored milk products than unflavored milk.

Not only is IDFA behind the push to put aspartame in milk,  but they are also one of four trade organizations suing Vermont1 in an effort to overturn the state’s GMO labeling law, which was passed in May.

It would seem that, far from being concerned about providing Americans with high quality dairy, the IDFA is wholly invested in deceiving the American public for the benefit of the chemical technology industry. Why else would they be so insistent on hiding ingredients that are suspected of harmful effects?

Artificial Sweeteners Cause Metabolic Confusion

One of the reasons why artificial sweeteners do not help you lose weight relates to the fact that your body is not fooled by sweet taste without accompanying calories.2,3

When you eat something sweet, your brain releases dopamine, which activates your brain’s reward center. The appetite-regulating hormone leptin is also released, which eventually informs your brain that you are “full” once a certain amount of calories have been ingested.

However, when you consume something that tastes sweet but doesn’t contain any calories, your brain’s pleasure pathway still gets activated by the sweet taste, but there’s nothing to deactivate it, since the calories never arrive.

Artificial sweeteners basically trick your body into thinking that it’s going to receive sugar (calories), but when the sugar doesn’t come, your body continues to signal that it needs more, which results in carb cravings.

Besides worsening insulin sensitivity and promoting weight gain, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners also promote other health problems associated with excessive sugar consumption, including:

    • Cardiovascular disease and stroke4,5,6
    • Alzheimer’s disease. While poor diet is a major driver of Alzheimer’s in general (the primary culprits being sugar/fructose and grains, especially gluten), the key mechanism of harm here appears to be methanol toxicity—a much-ignored problem associated with aspartame in particular.

In a previous interview, toxicology expert Dr. Woodrow Monte (author of the book While Science Sleeps: A Sweetener Kills7), explains the links between aspartame and methanol toxicity and the formation of toxic formaldehyde.

Research Overwhelmingly Refutes ‘Diet’ Claims of Artificial Sweeteners

Contrary to industry claims, research over the last 30 years—including several large scale prospective cohort studies—have shown that artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions that promote fat storage and weight gain—often to the researchers’ great surprise.

Below is sampling of some of the studies published through the years, clearly refuting the beverage industry’s claims that diet soda aids weight loss. The 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine8 is particularly noteworthy.

It provides a historical summary of artificial sweeteners in general, along with epidemiological and experimental evidence showing that artificial sweeteners tends to promote weight gain. It also illustrates that as usage of artificial sweeteners has risen, so has obesity rates.

obesity trends
Source: Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine June 8 2010: v83(2)
Preventive Medicine 19869 This study examined nearly 78,700 women aged 50-69 for one year. Artificial sweetener usage increased with relative weight, and users were significantly more likely to gainweight, compared to those who did not use artificial sweeteners—regardless of their initial weight.

According to the researchers, the results “were not explicable by differences in food consumption patterns. The data do not support the hypothesis that long-term artificial sweetener use either helps weight loss or prevents weight gain.”

Physiology and Behavior, 198810 In this study, they determined that intense (no- or low-calorie) sweeteners can produce significant changes in appetite. Of the three sweeteners tested, aspartame produced the most pronounced effects.
Physiology and Behavior, 199011 Here, they found that aspartame had a time-dependent effect on appetite, “producing a transient decrease followed by a sustained increase in hunger ratings.”
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 199112 In a study of artificial sweeteners performed on college students, there was no evidence that artificial sweetener use was associated with a decrease in their overall sugar intake either.
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 200313 This study, which looked at 3,111 children, found that diet soda, specifically, was associated with higher BMI.
International Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders200414 This Purdue University study found that rats fed artificially sweetened liquids ate more high-calorie food than rats fed high-caloric sweetened liquids. The researchers believe the experience of drinking artificially sweetened liquids disrupted the animals’ natural ability to compensate for the calories in the food.
San Antonio Heart Study, 200515 Data gathered from the 25-year long San Antonio Heart Study also showed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the likelihood of serious weight gain – far more so than regular soda.16 On average, for each diet soft drink the participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 200517 In this two-year long study, which involved 166 school children, increased diet soda consumption was associated with higher BMI at the end of the trial.
The Journal of Pediatrics, 200618 The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study included 2,371 girls aged 9-19 for 10 years. Soda consumption in general, both regular and diet, was associated with increase in total daily energy intake.
Journal of Biology and Medicine, 201019 This study delves into the neurobiology of sugar cravings and summarizes the epidemiological and experimental evidence concerning the effect of artificial sweeteners on weight.

According to the authors: “[F]indings suggest that the calorie contained in natural sweeteners may trigger a response to keep the overall energy consumption constant. …Increasing evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners… [A]rtificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.” 

Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 201020 This review offers a summary of epidemiological and experimental evidence concerning the effects of artificial sweeteners on weight, and explains those effects in light of the neurobiology of food reward. It also shows the correlation between increased usage of artificial sweeteners in food and drinks, and the corresponding rise in obesity. More than 11,650 children aged 9-14 were included in this study. Each daily serving of diet beverage was associated with a BMI increase of 0.16 kg/m2
Appetite, 201221 Here, researchers showed that saccharin and aspartame both cause greater weight gain than sugar, even when the total caloric intake remains similar.
Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 201322 This report highlights the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.23,24 The researchers speculate that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners may induce metabolic derangements.
Nature, 201425 This study was able to clearly show causality, revealing there’s a direct cause and effect relationship between consuming artificial sweeteners and developing elevated blood sugar levels.

People who consumed high amounts of artificial sweeteners were found to have higher levels of HbA1C—a long-term measure of blood sugar—compared to non-users or occasional users of artificial sweeteners.

Seven volunteers who did not use artificial sweeteners were then recruited, and asked to consume the equivalent of 10-12 single-dose packets of artificial sweeteners daily for one week.

Four of the seven people developed “significant disturbances in their blood glucose,” according to the researchers. Some became pre-diabetic within just a few days. The reason for this dramatic shift was traced back to alterations in gut bacteria. Some bacteria were killed off, while others started proliferating.

PLOS One, 201426 This study, which was done on rats, using aspartame, also found an increased risk of glucose intolerance. Animals that consume artificial sweeteners ended up with raised levels of propionate—short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) involved in sugar production. Consumption of artificial sweeteners shifted gut microbiota to produce propionate, which generated higher blood sugar levels.

Latest Research Reveals New Mechanism of Harm

Research published in the journal Nature27 in September of this year (see list above) reveals another, previously unknown, mechanism by which artificial sweeteners make you pack on unwanted pounds and disrupt your metabolic function. Most importantly, this study proves causation. In recent years, we’ve learned that gut microbes play a significant role in human health. Certain gut microbes have been linked to obesity, for example, and as it turns out, artificial sweeteners disrupt your intestinal microflora28,29,30,31—thereby raising your risk of both obesity and diabetes.

Specifically, the researchers found that artificial sweeteners alter metabolic pathways associated with metabolic disease. Decreased function was observed in pathways associated with the transport of sugar in the body, for example. Artificial sweeteners were also found to induce gut dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in otherwise healthy people. Of the artificial sweeteners tested, saccharin (Sweet’N Low) had the strongest impact, followed by sucralose and aspartame. Glucose intolerance is a well-known precursor to type 2 diabetes, but it also plays a role in obesity, because the excess sugar in your blood ends up being stored in your fat cells.According to the authors of this widely publicized study:32

“[W]e demonstrate that consumption of commonly used non-caloric artificial sweeteners formulations drives the development of glucose intolerance through induction of compositional and functional alterations to the intestinal microbiota… Collectively, our results link non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) consumption, dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities, thereby calling for a reassessment of massive NAS usage.”

The following month, another study came out with very similar findings. This one, published in PLOS One,33 found that when rats were fed aspartame, it shifted their gut microbiota, causing it to produce propionate—short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) involved in sugar production—which led to elevations in blood sugar.

Reclaim Your Health by Ditching Artificially Sweetened ‘Diet’ Foods

When you add together the various routes of harm—from confusing your body with sweet taste without calories, to altering your gut bacteria for the worse—it becomes easy to see how artificial sweeteners have likely played a role in worsening the obesity and diabetes epidemics since their emergence in our food supply. I strongly recommend avoiding all artificial sweeteners, and to read food labels to make sure you’re not inadvertently consuming them. They’re added to some 6,000 different beverages, snacks, and food products, so there’s no telling where they might be hiding.

12 (scientifically supported) reasons why salt is good for you!

Salt is good for you?!

Perhaps you’ve heard some of the buzz in the health blog world about salt. Perhaps you are asking yourself, salt is good for me? Yep, it is! The idea is contrary to the pretty blatant lies told to us by the American Heart Association… and thank goodness, because salt makes food taste amazing.

There is no need to suffer through bland, unsalted meals in the sake of health. Here are 12 reasons why salt is good for you:

1. The premise that salt leads to hypertension has never been scientifically supported. On the contrary, studies show that a reduced-sodium diet leads to health issues. In one study, subjects consuming less than 2300 mg. (the recommended daily allowance) of sodium per day had significantly higher mortality rates (meaning a higher risk of death) than the subjects consuming 2300 mg. or more sodium per day.

2. Salt aids blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity. A low-salt diet increases insulin resistance and even moderate dietary salt restriction is shown to cause systemic insulin resistance (study #1 and #2).

Learn why unrefined salt is good for you3. Salt is a natural antihistamine. A pinch of salt sprinkled on the tongue may help improve an allergic reaction or an asthma attack (source).

4. Your body needs salt to maintain the proper stomach pH. Stomach acid is hydrochloric acid and salt is sodium chloride. Proper stomach acid levels are absolutely foundational for good digestion, but 90% of Americans have low stomach acid. Learn how to correct low stomach acid naturally.

5. Salt lowers adrenaline spikes. Adrenaline is a necessary and important stress hormone, but it is just that… a stress hormone. When adrenaline patterns are out of rhythm, it takes a toll on the body (source).

6. Salt improves sleep quality. It boasts anti-stress and anti-excitatory qualities due to its suppression of stress hormones and it increasing of the metabolic rate. This may explain why many people report that a low sodium diet interferes with sleep and an adequate amount of dietary salt improves sleep quality.

Interestingly, if you often wake up with your heart pounding between 2 and 4 AM, it is probably because of an adrenaline spike. The most important change is to reduce both physical and mental stress, as well as eating a healthy diet. But one immediate fix to help you go back to sleep is just a pinch of salt and sugar (or salt and honey, if you prefer) sprinkled on the tongue to calm the adrenaline peak (read more about it in this book!).

7. Adequate salt consumption encourages a healthy weight and fast metabolism. First, one study showed that increased salt intake leads to an increase in the elimination of cortisol and lower blood cortisol levels. Imbalanced or excess cortisol means weight gain and a stagnant metabolism.

8. Salt supports thyroid function by reducing circulating stress hormones. For example, cortisol is anti-thyroid, but salt combats excess cortisol.

9. Salt supports hyperosmolarity of the extracellular fluid. Slight hyperosmolarity–more solutes in the extracellular fluid than in the cell–actually increases the cell’s metabolic rate (source). That means salt can speed up your metabolism! On the other hand, when the extracellular fluid is hypo-osmotic in relation to the cell, it impairs the breakdown of proteins and glucose and thereby lowers the cell’s metabolism.

10. Increased sodium intake also correlates with increased thermogenesis–heat production by the body (the study is here).

11. Adequate salt supports balanced hormones. Hormone and nutrition researcher Ray Peat explains the correlation between the salt-regulating hormone aldosterone and mineral loss:

One of the things that happen when there isn’t enough sodium in the diet is that more aldosterone is synthesized. Aldosterone causes less sodium to be lost in the urine and sweat, but it achieves that at the expense of the increased loss of potassium, magnesium, and probably calcium… Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, but a little extra salt in the diet makes it easier to retain the magnesium in our foods.

12. Salt makes food taste good. Salt adds a satiety factor to food and makes meals enjoyable. Adequate salt content of food makes it easier to enjoy quality instead of quantity, thereby encouraging mindful eating and weight management.

What salt is best?

Salt is good for you if it is the right type. With that said, regular processed salt is better than no salt, that’s for sure.  But the better option is unrefined salt, which is rich in trace minerals and free of additives.

I had the opportunity to speak with a salt expert at Real Salt, and I asked him how the popular types of unrefined salt compare. We discussed Real Salt, Himalayan Salt and Celtic Sea Salt. As it turns out, these salts share an extremely similar mineral profile. While some producers of himalayan salt boast that their salt contains 84 trace minerals, that is a false marketing claim. These three types of unrefined salts all contain about 60 important trace minerals, although the amounts of minerals vary slightly from salt to salt.

Oh, this is obvious but I should say it anyways… don’t rely on high-sodium processed food for salt! That is not a good source of sodium. Make food from scratch and salt it yourself.

How much salt should I eat?

Food should be salted freely and to taste. When the metabolism is slow and the thyroid is not optimally functioning, it may be beneficial to consume extra salt whenever possible. This could include salting all beverages and using liberal salt when cooking and baking.

If you have kidney disease or hypertension, it is a good idea to consult with a medical practitioner before increasing salt intake.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Let your salt craving and desire for seasoning dictate how much salt to consume.

Have you been on a low-sodium diet? How does salt fit into your life now?