cancer

  • 12 Tips to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

    As a plastic surgeon, I witnessed the horrors of breast cancer almost every day while taking care of my breast reconstruction patients. I became even more alarmed as I watched my patients become younger and younger until finally, women in their twenties with breast cancer began walking through my door. Then this disease became too personal—it claimed the life of my own mother in 1994. I knew there had to be a good explanation for why breast cancer had become an epidemic in this country and ways that women could prevent it. So, I turned to the medical literature to look for answers. There I discovered thousands of studies that point out exactly why we have a breast cancer epidemic—what we are doing and not doing that contributes to this devastating and deadly disease.

    Here are 12 research-proven tips to lower your risk:

    Tip #1: Eat fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables—every day.

    Organically grown plants—particularly those in the cruciferous family, for example, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale are filled with a variety nutrients, vitamins, and plant chemicals that act as powerful natural medicines against breast cancer.

    Tip #2: Nix red meat

    Woman who eat the most red meat—especially when cooked at high temperatures or grilled—have up to a 400 percent higher risk of breast cancer.

    Tip #3: Avoid all health-destroying fats. Consume health-promoting fats every day.

    Saturated animal fats, trans fats, partially hydrogenated fats, and hydrogenated fats fuel breast cancer, whereas healthy fats— especially omega-3 fatty acids—offer protection. Supplemental flaxseed oil or purified fish oils are crucial for good health.

    Tip #4: Eat 2–3 tablespoons of ground organic flaxseeds every day.

    Flaxseeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, are high fiber, and contain one hundred times more cancer-fighting lignans than any other known edible plant. Supplements containing lignans are also available, such as Brevail made by Barlean’s Organic Oils.

    Tip #5: Drink green tea every day or take it as a supplement.

    Women who drink green tea have a much lower risk of breast cancer—and if they get breast cancer, their chances of surviving are much greater.

    Tip #6: Consume turmeric every day.

    Almost 7,000 studies have documented turmeric’s potent anticancer properties, which include powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Inhibiting the growth of over 17 different kinds of cancer, turmeric is considered the “#1 Anticancer Spice.”

    Tip #7: Take an immune-boosting medicinal mushroom supplement called AHCC.

    Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) has been the subject of hundreds of studies showing that it supports every cell type in the immune system and lowers the risk of numerous types of cancer, including breast cancer. AHCC is prescribed in hospitals in Japan because it significantly improves survival and takes away many of the side effects of chemotherapy.

    Tip #8: Avoid refined sugar—use a natural sweetener such as Stevia instead.

    Sugar is cancer’s favorite food. The more of it you eat, the faster cancer will grow.

    Tip #9: Take a week or two, once or twice a year, to purify your body.

    Detoxing works! Just one five-day series of the Ayurvedic purification procedures known as panchakarma has been shown to cut your load of toxins in half. There are also home detox programs that are effective. Eat a diet of pure organic fresh vegetables and fruits, drink plenty of purified water, and add a few detoxifying herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, cilantro, and spirulina. Infra-red saunas help boost the release of toxins.

    Tip #10: Go to bed by 10:00 p.m. and get up before 6:00 a.m.

    Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is a powerful antioxidant that arrests and deters breast cancer in many ways. Staying up past 10 p.m. significantly decreases melatonin and increases your risk of numerous diseases including breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

    Tip #11: Embrace at least thirty minutes of aerobic activity every day.

    Just thirty minutes of aerobic activity three to five times a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Regular rigorous exercise can lower your risk by as much as 80 percent!

    Tip #12: Practice a stress-reducing technique every day.

    Stress has been found to contribute to about 90 percent of all illnesses, including breast cancer. Research shows that the daily practice of a type of meditation, called Transcendental Meditation (TM), can lower your risk of most diseases by as much as 50 percent. Tai chi, qi gong, and yoga are great stress-busters too. The regular practice of special breathing exercises called pranayama improves stress-hormone balance, blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.

    Each of these tips can have a big impact on your risk. I recommend starting with one—the easiest for you to do—and then add another every week. The more you do, the lower your risk will be and the healthier you will become and feel. Finding a partner or buddy to help support you to incorporate these tips into your daily life will add greatly to your success. Remember, breast cancer is a largely preventable disease, as are most other chronic diseases. You have tremendous influence over your health. By following many of these simple tips, you can easily tip the odds in your favor of living a long, radiantly healthy life.

    May Cover & Article Photo Credit: Laurie Turner, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Choosing Organic To Help Protect Against Cancer

    Choosing Organic To Help Protect Against Cancer Elly McGuinness

    You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Help Protect Against Cancer
    Plant based foods are well known for their vitality-providing properties as a result of being high in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A vitamin and mineral supplement might contain twenty different vitamins and minerals, any of which could be synthetically derived.

    Synthetic or natural, a supplement cannot replicate the life giving properties of foods that are found in nature. A head of broccoli, or a single apple can contain not twenty, but hundreds of nutrients that all have their own magical way of interacting and providing nourishment for our bodies.

    Phytonutrients comprise a large range of important substances that help protect plants from threats such as germs, bugs and fungi, and many have been shown to have a beneficial effect on human health. Some of the more commonly known phytonutrient groups include carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols.

    According to Web MD,1 more than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and tea, again reiterating the point that it is unlikely that we can replicate this complexity and interaction via a supplement pill.

    Salvestrols are a class of phytonutrients that are emerging as having huge potential in the prevention and treatment of cancer. This unique class of phytonutrients in essence works by interacting with an enzyme found in cancer cells and producing a toxin that causes death of that cancer cell, whilst leaving non-cancerous cells unaffected.2

    Numerous studies have linked diet and cancer and this link becomes even more probable just by recognizing that there is a higher incidence of cancer in the developed world as opposed to the underdeveloped world.3

    The WHO has initiatives in place to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity levels with the aim of reducing the incidence of cancer. Layering on this with an added focus on organically grown produce would likely have significant and far reaching benefits.

    Professor Gerry Potter and his Salvestrols research team analyzed thousands of fruit, vegetable and herb samples. Through this, they discovered that Salvestrols were present in very small amounts and often not at all in produce found in the local supermarket while much of the organic produce they tested had Salvestrols in abundance.4

    Modern farming practices have had a huge impact on the life-giving properties of the food we consume. When we understand the links between soil health and the subsequent health of our bodies, we begin to understand the consequences of depletion of tiny but hugely important compounds such as Salvestrols.

    To reiterate, Salvestrols are part of the plants protection mechanism from bugs and other pathogens. If a plant is not subject to pathogens because chemicals (e.g., pesticides) are used to keep those pathogens away, then the plants do not receive a signal to produce Salvestrols,5 thus reducing the nourishment that the plant provides for our bodies. Studies that have found higher antioxidant levels in imperfect produce (e.g. apples with scars)6,7 are likely a result of the plants innate protection mechanisms kicking into place as it works hard to fight back.

    A diet abundant in organically grown fruit and vegetables will help ensure a daily intake of Salvestrols to aid the body in ridding itself of cancer cells as they arise. Those who are already at risk or who are fighting active disease may wish to explore supplementation of their organic diet with Salvestrols.

    Shop for Organic Groceries!

    The information in this article is not intended to replace advice given by your primary care physician.

    References
    1. http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/phytonutrients-faq
    2. Schaefer, Brian A. Linking Diet & Cancer: Salvestrols.Nature's defence against cancer. Clinical Intelligence Corp, 2012. page 36.
    3. http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_cancer.aspx
    4. Schaefer page 39.
    5. Schaefer page 40.
    6. http://publik.tuwien.ac.at/files/PubDat_194363.pdf
    7. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10535-011-0176-6#/page-1
  • Consumers Beware: Toxins Lurking in Your Clothing!

    Focus on Health…

    • Today’s clothing industry is a seven trillion dollar a year industry that uses an astounding 8,000 synthetic chemicals;
    • Consumers have the mistaken illusion that synthetic fibers in clothing are safe;
    • For over half a century people have been reacting negatively to chemicals interacting with their skin causing disorders like infertility, respiratory diseases, contact dermatitis and, yes, even cancer;
    • The more synthetic clothing you wear, the greater your risk of absorbing toxic chemicals that can precipitate health conditions most often not attributed to synthetic fibers.

    Key Points…

    • Your skin is the largest organ of elimination and absorption—what goes ON the skin goes IN the body;
    • When toxins are absorbed through your skin, they are taken-up by the lymphatic system, then into the blood stream and eventually the liver—the chemical-processing plant of the body responsible for removing toxins;
    • Your skin also keeps you healthy by actually venting approximately one pound of toxins daily;
    • Petrochemical fibers restrict and suffocate your skin—shutting down toxic release rather than allowing it to escape—contributing to your total body burden and may be the trigger for the onset of disease;
    • A “toxic soup” is created when combining multiple chemicals that interact to create an even more toxic substance and health consequences than individual chemicals by themselves.

    Fabric may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about living a healthier lifestyle, but it definitely should be considered. Even many “health nuts” don’t realize that synthetic fabrics are teaming with chemicals and dyes that cannot be washed out, making them a potential health hazard.

    Most synthetic fabrics, from towels to dress shirts and bed linens, are treated with chemicals during and after processing. These chemicals not only leach into the environment, impacting groundwater, wildlife, air and soil, but they also may be absorbed or inhaled directly.

    “The use of man-made chemicals is increasing, and at the same time we have warning signals that a variety of wildlife and human health problems are becoming more prevalent,” says Dr. Richard Dixon, Head of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Scotland. “It is reckless to suggest there is no link between the two and give chemicals the benefit of the doubt. Urgent action is needed to replace hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives especially in clothing and other consumer products.”

    WWF is so concerned about one fairly new clothing additive that they advised parents to check their children’s clothing labels. If the chemical is on it, they advise switching to clothing made from natural fibers whenever possible.

    Teflon in Your Trousers
    The chemicals that the WWF was warning about are perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which include the non-stick additive Teflon. These chemicals are increasingly being added to clothing because it makes them last longer and also can make them wrinkle-free. Most clothing labeled “no-iron” contains PFCs.

    I have written about and consulted with patients worldwide regarding their allergic responses from synthetic fibers—bedding, clothing, car interiors, exercise/athletic clothing, mattresses, hats, etc.—that said, the frequency of recent incidents is very alarming to me and it should be to you. The allergic responses now commonly being reported as a result of these synthetic chemicals include, but are definitely not limited to:

    • Skin rashes and lesions that can be cancerous
    • Nausea
    • Unexplained fatigue
    • Burning and itching
    • Unexplained headaches
    • Blurred vision
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Reoccurring sinus infections not previously experienced
    • Sudden inflammation and pain; especially in soft tissues

    Keep in mind that if you have mysterious “invisible illnesses” that linger and yet you’re told “everything is within normal range,” it’s time to look into whether the fibers your clothes and bedding are made of could be the problem; it is for many.

    Recent Case History:
    The following is a quote from a patient of mine who I have worked with via long-distance for years. Hopefully her experience will assist others when mysterious skin eruptions appear and to further make my point about the toxicity of chemicals used in synthetic fibers and coloring.

    “I wore a white cotton tank top with orange embroidery around the neck line. After a few hours the skin around the neck line was scratchy and bothersome so I removed the garment. I noticed small red irritation where the embroidery touched my skin but really thought very little of it as I assumed it would go away. After a few weeks the skin still appeared irritated so I started using my ‘safe’ moisturizing lotion. When this had no affect I saw a dermatologist and explained the situation. He determined the skin was pre-cancerous and prescribed a cortisone ointment for the next five weeks. If the skin is not completely healed at the end of this time the doctor said we need to remove it. I questioned the dermatologist about how and why this happened and he informed me that skin irritations such as these can lead to cancer.

    I have been very careful to wear only 100 percent cotton for years and soak/wash any new clothes four times (powdered milk soak, safe detergent, vinegar, baking soda) prior to use since I have been immune challenged for years.

    I have noticed that even if I touch my father’s colored cotton/polyester blend shirts/socks that I feel an odd sensation in my fingertips. This does not persist but is a very strange feeling. I have similar experiences with the cloth grocery bags from health food stores that make me immediately put it down. It is not the exact feeling of a static shock but close. The dermatologist shared with me that he has seen this type of reaction from other patients that can only be attributed to toxic chemicals and dyes used in manufacturing.”

    Which Fabric Finishes “Scream” Toxic Chemicals?

    1. Easy Care—Wrinkle-free, shrinkage-free—these garments release formaldehyde;
    2. Water Repellent—Fluoropolymers (as in Teflon) are used to repel oil and water;
    3. Flame Retardants;
    4. Bacterial and Fungicidal Chemicals—Triclosan and nano-particles are used for these purposes, dangerous neurotoxins and irritants.

    Fabrics containing Formaldehyde—linked to a 30 percent increase in lung cancer, skin/lung irritation and contact dermatitis:

    • Anti-cling, anti-static, anti-shrink
    • Waterproof
    • Perspiration-proof
    • Moth-proof and mildew resistant
    • Chlorine resistant

    It’s also used in dyes and printing to fix the design and prevent “running.” It is widely used in bedding so it’s best to use bedding that is all cotton and in light or white colors to eliminate risk from formaldehyde used to set colored fabrics.

    You Need to Know…

    • Most governments restrict formaldehyde levels in clothing… but NOT the U.S. One of the worst offenders is China. Beware of “Made in China” labels.
    • Use of formaldehyde in clothing is extremely widespread. There have even been lawsuits alleging high levels of it in Victoria’s Secret bras.
    • High temperatures and humidity make “poison clothes” even worse—they open your pores and increase chemical absorption.
    • You absorb formaldehyde from multiple sources daily, so don’t be fooled by manufacturers’ reassurances.
    • Disperse Blue Dyes may look gorgeous—even regal—but they put you at high risk for contact dermatitis. . . especially dark blue, brown, and black synthetic clothing. It’s important to note—laundering does not reverse that risk.
    • Worse. . . Disperse Blue # 1 is classified as a human carcinogen due to high malignant tumor levels in lab animals.
    • Incidentally, you might be interested to know that this dye also shows up in cosmetics and semi-permanent hair dyes.

    Fire and Burn Hazards
    The U.S. Marine Corps now prohibits troops in Iraq from wearing synthetic clothing while off base . . . after too many unfortunate burns from soldiers wearing polyester, acrylic, and nylon—which readily melts in high heat and fuses to the skin. (What did you expect? This stuff is a first cousin to plastic—both products of the oil industry.)

    Of course, that begs the question of whether flame retardants are safer. . .

    Historical Perspective. . .
    Flame Retardant use began in 1971, when government required children’s sleepwear to be self-extinguishing; their solution was to add Brominated Tris. Studies measuring urine samples showed that this chemical is readily absorbed.

    Brominated Tris is a mutagen*, and causes cancer and sterility in animals and have also shown they cause testicular atrophy and sterility.
    *Mutagens cause inheritable mutations by damaging DNA

    Tris was banned in children’s clothing in 1977 (but lives on in upholstered furniture foam, baby carriers, and bassinets). Today most synthetic fabrics contain a new generation of flame retardants bonded into the fabric, which must survive 50+ washings.

    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Burn Center, only 36 children a year suffer serious injuries from sleepwear catching fire. My heart goes out to these tragic victims and their families. But is the toxic contamination of millions of children worth protecting 36 children per year from burns?

    The Way I See It. . .
    This sort of regulation is a product of the “precautionary principle”—the notion that there should be no limit to the amount of money spent or the amount of inconvenience inflicted on millions of people when it comes to preventing rare dangers that affect a tiny number of people. The mania for making our society risk-proof and accident-proof actually increases danger in many cases.

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission exempts certain sleepwear from flammability standards. Two companies selling kids’ sleepwear without flame retardants are L.L.Bean and Lands’ End.

    But it’s not just children’s sleepwear—demand is high for fire-retardant uniforms and civilian clothing.

    Lab studies show that flame retardants (PBDEs) can cause a slew of health issues—thyroid problems, brain damage, ADHD symptoms, fertility problems and even cancer.

    The insecticide permethrin is now in civilian outdoor wear and military uniforms even though no long-term studies have assessed its safety.

    Focus on Health…
    • Scientists find that restrictive bras suppress the lymphatic system—needed to flush toxins from your breasts and lymph nodes and to help prevent breast cancer;
    • Despite wide appeal of synthetic athletic apparel, medical studies show that synthetic fibers cause muscle fatigue— which can make the difference between winning and losing for competitive athletes;
    • A study of 24–27-year-old-males, showed that natural linen long sleeved shirts were worn for five hours—and then polyester ones were worn for another five hours. Their arms were monitored during both with electrodes measuring skin temperature and velocity of the men's muscle tissue. No changes were measurable when they wore linen. However, when they donned polyester they endured a range of muscle disruptions.
    Key Points…
    • While individual chemicals might not endanger your health, the synergistic effect of multiple chemicals (a “toxic soup”) interacting can have unpredictable negative health effects;
    • Choose natural fibers. While not always as easy to find, its best to do so when possible:

    Cotton — preferably organic still remains the “king” of textiles. Organic accounts for less than one percent of worldwide production;
    Flax — one of nature’s strongest fibers;
    Hemp — grows without any need for fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides because it’s naturally insect-resistant. Its fibers are reported to be four times stronger than cotton. This is NOT the hemp known for its mind-altering properties;
    Silk —known as the “queen of fabrics.” Watch out for the use of synthetic dyes in this fiber.
    Wool —most of today’s wool is contaminated with chemicals, i.e., pesticides used to kill parasites. But organic wool is becoming more common.
    Other — alpaca, angora, camel, cashmere, mohair, ramie, aluyot.

    You Need to Know…
    The Organic Trade Association estimates that one non-organic cotton T-shirt uses one-third pound of pesticides and fertilizers. Cotton production uses one-fourth of the entire world’s fertilizers. It’s another good reason to choose organic cotton to add to the ones above.

    Don’t get over-whelmed, start small. Choose organic for clothing closet to your skin most of the time—underwear, sleepwear, camisoles, sheets/pillow cases, etc. Build on your organic wardrobe as you replace items.

    Are You Getting a Charge? Electrostatic charges accumulate in synthetic clothing. There are reported incidents of shocking mini-explosions from mixing layers of synthetic clothing with synthetic carpeting. And get this…synthetic undergarments contribute to infertility in men.

    A 24-month study of male dogs wearing either loose-fitting polyester underpants or loose-fitting cotton ones showed that wearing polyester created significant decreases in sperm count and degeneration of the testes. The animals wearing cotton suffered no side effects. (And, please, no emails to the editor about dogs wearing underwear. I agree, it sounds silly but no humans would volunteer!)

    Scientists hypothesize that polyester traps body heat, encourages chemical absorption, and creates electrostatic buildup… which all affect sperm count.

    Personal Perspective...
    I'm mindful of the problems with synthetic fibers and dyes because (cancer concerns aside) I'm sensitive to a wide range of chemicals as are most of my patients.

    A few years ago I bought a beautiful set of sheets from an upscale store. The label said they were 100 percent cotton, but after sleeping in them a few nights I experienced all my old fibromyalgia pains that had long ago resolved (unless I eat foods in the nightshade genre or consume MSG) and I was now again experiencing bone and muscle pain from head to toe. Repeated washings didn't get out whatever the offending substance was—it never does.

    I got a terrible reaction from the dyes or maybe the chemicals used to make those all-cotton sheets "no-iron." You can only imagine what true synthetic cloth can do to us; after all, it's largely a product of the oil industry. After I switched to a high-quality set of organic sheets, all my symptoms were resolved.

    Invisible Saboteurs...
    We have the illusion that clothes made from synthetic fibers are safe, but the materials are in fact full of invisible chemicals the clothing industry prefers we donft think about.

    A hundred years ago, clothing was made of natural fibers like cotton, flax, wool, and silk—synthetics weren't developed until the early 1900s.

    Although rayon was introduced in 1924, the first truly synthetic fiber was nylon, made by DuPont from the petro-molecule toluene. Nylon was first used because it was a popular material for women's stockings and later panty hose.

    Other synthetics followed:
    • Acrylic (1950), aka, "wash-and-wear fabrics"—a "revolutionary time-saving leap" for homemakers.
    • Polyester (1953), "wrinkle free" fabrics developed from xylene and ethylene.
    • Spandex and olefin (1959), which became the mainstay of sportswear, swim suits, and thermal underwear. Olefin is produced by "cracking" petroleum molecules into propylene and ethylene gases.

    The Way I See It
    Don't wait until you or a loved one has a health issue before changing the products you purchase. Yes, organic cotton does cost a bit more...but then...isn't it more cost effective to stay healthy than to get well?

    I'm especially concerned about pregnant woman and their newborn children, make the decision as parents and grandparents to create a safe nontoxic nursery beginning with non-toxic no VOC paint to hard surface flooring, the crib and bedding and the clothing used for a newborn whose immune system is not fully developed to provide maximum protection, naturally. 

    Resources:
    1. www.cancerdefeated.com Clement, Anna Maria, and Clement, Brian, Killer Clothes: How Seemingly Innocent Clothing Choices Endanger Your Health . . . And How to Protect Yourself! Hippocrates Publications, 2011. p. 75.
    2. http://www.cool-organic-clothing.com/organic-clothes.html Much of the information in this article was taken from the book Killer Clothes, by the Clements.
    Resources:

    1. www.cancerdefeated.com
    2. Clement, Anna Maria, and Clement, Brian, Killer Clothes: How Seemingly Innocent Clothing Choices Endanger Your Health . . . And How to Protect Yourself! Hippocrates Publications, 2011. p. 75.
    3. http://www.cool-organic-clothing.com/organic-clothes.html

  • Continuing the Case for Supplemental Vitamins

    Taking Supplementation Seriously Part II:

    Last month, we started a dialogue on whether supplementation is the appropriate course for insuring a nutritionally complete diet. We examined a very simple case, the multivitamin: a supplement designed to provide the base set of essential nutrients that are requisite for normal human metabolism. In response to the case against multivitamin usage (“proper diet alone should be adequate in providing essential nutrients”), we considered how 1) widespread deficiency of several nutrients in the U.S. diet, 2) the demonstrated reduction in nutrient availability in the modern food supply, and 3) the subclinical deficiencies in several nutrients that can result from caloric restriction and exercise, suggest that supplementation of essential nutrients may be warranted in some individuals. Here we expand the list of observations to consider when making the decision whether to include a multivitamin in your daily health regimen.

  • Garlic And Aged Garlic Extract In Cancer Prevention

    Garlic has been an important herbal remedy for centuries. Painted on the walls of Egyptian tombs and placed in the tombs, for consumption in the afterlife, as early as 3700 BC, garlic was used as a remedy for heart disease, cancer and other ailments, as documented in ancient Egyptian medical documents, dating from 1550 BC.

  • Ready Aim Inflict

    The venerated father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, has had many of his wise sayings immortalized over the past two millennia. Most of us know a version of the following: “As to diseases, make a habit of two things—to help, or at least, to do no harm.” However, there is one quote attributed to Hippocrates that has all but disappeared from a list of his most quotable quotes. Hippocrates poised the rhetorical question, “What is Woman?” to which he supplied the answer: “Disease!”

  • The Power of Leptin Breaks Through Chronic Health Barriers

    Editor's Note: This third story in Kat James' series featuring the power of the little-known hormone, leptin, highlights common, living examples of the vast range of health issues dramatically and predictably affected by the recovery of function of the hormone, leptin, which circulates in all humans and most other animals and impacts literally all biological functions. For introductory and other stories on leptin's power, view James' first two articles on the subject in TotalHealth. Catching Up With Leptin Pioneer Kat James and Transforming Journeys Part 1.

    TRANSFORMED BEYOND BELIEF:
    Former Pescatarian Couple Breaks Through Chronic Health Barriers With The POWER OF LEPTIN

    Charles and Toby Geschwind—both in their early seventies— have seen more than their share of major health scares. Having become self-described natural health investigators out of necessity they've thus far succeeded in averting their own respective health disasters. Toby sent her own form of ovarian cancer into remission with a combination of diet and chemotherapy, though her cancer came back recently, and the chemo caused uncomfortable digestive and regularity challenges. Charles' prostate cancer and diabetes went into remission with his mix of conventional and nutritional treatment choices, though his pre-diabetes has lingered, and life-long heart beat irregularities have persisted, requiring (at least according to his somewhat famous cardiologist) life-long control with prescription drugs, which carry their own significant risks.

    In November of 2017, Charles and Toby happened on a lecture I gave in New York City and learned of my educational retreats focused on helping people recover the functioning of the master hormone, leptin (a hormone in our bodies that is malfunctioning in most North Americans). My health protocols—honed over seventeen years of hands-on coaching— were derived from my own original protocol that healed my own near-fatal health crises.

    Charles and Toby were part of a retreat group that convened at the<br />historic 1880s Harlem Jazz and Gospel Mansion to learn about leptin.
    Charles and Toby were part of a retreat group that convened at the historic
    1880s ‘Harlem Jazz and Gospel Mansion” to learn about leptin.

    In spite of many reservations, including their kosher restrictions, avoidance of red meat for ten years due to Charles' "A-fib" (irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, and diabetic history, plus their relegation of fat (especially animal fat) to the dietary villain list on the advice of Charles' well-known cardiologist…my promotion of high-fat, meat, cholesterol, and certain dairy foods and limitation on so many of their low-fat and "health foods" including oatmeal, beans, and several fruits sounded like crazy talk at first to the Geschwinds. But the success stories, such as that of Shianne Lombard's, told here in TotalHealth a few months back, plus many more accounts of dramatic turnarounds in digestive, weight, sleep, energy and other issues they could relate to, convinced them to join me at a retreat in a landmark mansion in upper Manhattan only ten days following that lecture. Among many other "oddities," plunging into my protocol would involve moving past their pescatarian (fish was their only animal food) limitations, finding their optimal individual fat and protein ratios, incorporating certain strategic dairy products they'd long since "banned", and incorporating targeted supplements, while cutting out basically anything that would cause a rise in their own individual insulin and leptin hormones (this is an individualized factor subject to one's health and hereditary history). But plunge in they did. And about ten days later, both had literally transformed into very different biochemical beings.

    Charles started my regimen two days prior to the retreat, going through the expected low-energy day. By the day after he arrived at the retreat he was surprised to experience his first sleep through the night with only one waking in at least twenty years of waking 4–5 times. This common sign of recovered leptin function (leptin function recovery takes as little as three to four days) has proved permanent for Charles up to this writing, a month and a half later. His face started to change visibly to everyone by the second day at the mansion coinciding with loss of fluid (again, coinciding with the usual transitional timing and signs of leptin sensitivity).

    Toby began the regimen two days later, and thus went through the transitional discomforts on-site at the retreat. Weaning off of sugar as one's primary fuel and transitioning to the body burning fat as its new primary fuel, accompanies a drop-out in energy and marked die-off of sugar-fed yeast and fungi which can cause low energy and flu-like symptoms for a day or two. Seeing Charles changes (and that of several others at the retreat) in advance of hers was all the encouragement she needed to wait it out. On the fourth day Toby began to feel better. In the meantime, both Toby's and Charles' first bites of high-quality, grass-fed meat were surreal for them. Their bodies' immediate positive responses were encouraging (I could relate as I watched them, remembering my own first bite of meat after seven years away from it).

    Once home, physical changes were even more obvious and progressive, yet the initial surprise and opposition to the new diet from family members popped up. In Charles' words: "At first it was difficult for all of us to accept Kat's principles which were the opposite of everything we'd been told to do for our cancer, my heart disease, and my pre-diabetes. My younger sister is a nutritionist and told us it went against all she'd learned as well. But when we got home and my whole family noticed how different I looked and the continued changes, including my being able to walk greater and greater distances and up stairs without getting out of breath, they began to support our new way of life fully. The teller at my bank even called me over and commented on how I was looking. The change in only a handful of days was that dramatic.

    Within a week after we got home, Toby's cramps and poor elimination issues that had worsened with chemo soon fully resolved and our energy went through the roof. At that point, even my nutritionist sister was on-board with this approach.

    Labs at One Month: No More A-Fib, High Blood Sugar, or High Blood Pressure

    Charles' celebrity cardiologist was less embracing of what he'd embarked on and—even after dramatic swings to normal range blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart test values—still didn't really want to hear about it. "I took all of the blood pressure, blood sugar, stress, and heart monitor tests around December 5th," said Charles. "He called me the next day and told me to get off of my Metoprolol (a heartbeat-regulating drug with some significant side-effects) 'right away.' We re-tested my heart the day after I went off the drug and he told me that without medication my heart rate was now normal. 'I don't know what you did, but all of your numbers are perfect' is all he said. He is considered one of the most brilliant cardiologists, but when I started to tell him about this regimen, I could tell he did not want to hear about it. This is the first time in at least twelve years that I'm testing normal. I've had a racing heart all of my life. Now, for the first time, I have no a-fib.

    My new ability to sleep through the night since the second day on this protocol has also continued ever since. I could never fall asleep at a decent hour before and always got up numerous times. Now I'm up at seven taking a walk because I want to. That's something I've never done. Both Toby's energy and mine is through the roof. My clothes keep getting looser. My favorite Movado watch was too tight to wear on October 30th. I had a link removed a couple of weeks after the retreat because it was too loose. My clothes have continued to get looser and looser. I'm gaining strength and muscle. I can now walk for long periods without getting out of breath.

    What's amazing is I've always been an overweight, yo-yo dieter. This time I don't feel any self-deprivation. I used to be a bottomless pit. Now, all craving is gone. I look at and smell the "normal" food others are eating that I used to eat and it literally nauseates me now. I just don't want those foods. I do love what I'm eating now, though. That first steak was mind-blowing and I now feel how my body needs it now and then."

    Toby was initially even more hesitant than Charles to reintroduce red meat. But after her grimacing first bite, a change in expression followed "this is pretty darn good" she remarked in front of the group. And with all of the other tenets of the program in place, her physical (and ideological) transformation soon became apparent. Once home, to her amazement, her chronic cramping, digestive and elimination problems subsided within a week to the point of being completely resolved.

    Toby's CA-125 Tests and Cancer Considerations
    Cancer Antigen 125 (CA-125) is a tumor marker test that is used to measure cancer-related proteins in the blood. It's reliability is controversial, but Toby is a strong advocate for all women getting the test, as high numbers very often coincide with cancer being present whereas below 35, and particularly single-digit numbers generally correspond with less presence of cancer.

    "Toby's CA-125 reading was 375 when she was first diagnosed in March, 2012 and then the day of the operation one week later it was 775. After her chemo and dietary changes she had gotten the number as low as 10.3. After the retreat it tested at 8.7, which is hard to get down to because the test also picks up various inflammation issues too. Needless to say she is very happy."

    A quick search of the terms "leptin" and "cancer" will give further illumination as to their relationship. What you want to strive for, as with insulin, is to avoid rises in leptin, due to dietary sugars. When leptin rises, so does proliferation of various cancers. Recovering leptin function is only possible when leptin levels are kept consistently low through dietary avoidance of carbs and sugar.

    On His Toes
    Charles was scheduled to have surgery on two of his toes, which had become immobile, at the end of November. After several other cases of recovered toe mobility with my protocol, I suggested that he postpone the operation with his doctor's approval. Now scheduled for three weeks after the publication of this article, Charles is hopeful that the surgery can be cancelled as he is seeing return of flexibility to those toes.

    "This program was the best thing we've ever done for our health. We even learned to do this with all of our kosher requirements, which makes all the difference to us. The richness and flavor of the food has convinced us that we could do this long-term. In fact not long after the retreat, we went to an elaborate Chanukah party where there were tons of inappropriate food choices...we weren't at all tempted to go off course."

    Hear Charles' live radio interview on The Kat James Show.

    Keep an eye out for my upcoming Dental Transformation story and consider joining my Costa Rica Total Transformation® later this month, which will serve as the exotic tropical backdrop for several transformation stories in- progress coming up.

  • The Special Nutritional Needs of Men

    Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part III

    This article is the third in the series begun with “Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin” and continued with “The Special Nutritional Needs of Women.” Here it is observed again you do not need to believe “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” in order to accept that men and women have different nutritional needs. Men lead in eight of the top ten causes of death in the United States. As it is often remarked, because men are more reluctant than women to seek medical care, when they do so, their illnesses typically have advanced to a more serious degree. It would seem that men, even more than women, would do well to adopt defensive measures to preserve their health. However, men should not depend on the supplements used by their wives or women friends. Some preventative measures are strictly gender-specific. The following suggestions are designed to help men take charge of their health while the ball is still in their court.

  • Total Health Management Requires Conscious Living

    An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study of chemicals found in human body fat through biopsy showed the wide array of toxic chemicals that each of us carries within. The “toxic load,” also known as “total body burden” or “bio-accumulation” occurs when the body exceeds the capacity of the organs of detoxification to reduce or neutralize toxins. Since the end of the Second World War, our planet has been experiencing a dramatic chemical revolution. Our existence, at the cost of our health and quality of life, now depends upon thousands of synthetic chemicals that are used to create virtually everything we associate with modern life—agriculture, health care, energy production, food supply, household and personal care products, and manufacturing all pumping tons of chemicals—most sold to consumers or dumped into the environment. A portion of these foreign chemicals, referred to as xenobiotics (foreign to the body), end up within the human body.

    “The contamination of our world is not alone a matter of mass chemical spraying. Indeed, for most of us this is of less importance than the innumerable small-scale exposures to which we are subjected day by day, year after year. Like the constant dripping of water that in turn wear away the hardest stone, this birth-to-death contact with dangerous chemicals may in the end prove disastrous. Each of these recurrent exposures, no matter how slight, contributes to the progressive buildup of chemicals in our bodies and so to cumulative poisoning…Lulled by the soft sell and the hidden persuader, the average citizen is seldom aware of the deadly materials with which he is surrounding himself; indeed, he may not realize he is using them at all.”
    Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

    INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
    With over 75,000 chemicals currently registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, only very small fractions are assessed for their toxicity in humans. In fact, only about 25 percent of commonly used chemicals have undergone even the most basic toxicity testing— even fewer are tested for their effects on the developing fetus, brain or the immune system. Chemicals, like criminals, are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, because of our lax environmental laws, most of these toxic offenders never go on trial and are presumed safe until widespread harm occurs or the public demands accountability.

    The use of mercury in dental amalgam fillings is a perfect example of toxic chemical “grandfathers” that remain in widespread use without any adequate safety testing required of the manufacturers. I worked in dentistry for many years prior to embarking on my career in natural health. I am one of those victims of heavy metal poisoning as a result of not only handling mercury in the course of dentistry, but also as a result of a mouthful of mercury amalgam fillings from age seven to eighteen. The only way we can preserve or repair our health from these toxic saboteurs is through education and finding safe alternatives.

    Most of these untested chemicals make their way into natural ecosystems and end up in the human body. Because of this, we are unknowing victims in a giant, uncontrolled experiment with billions of humans functioning as the experimental animals. It’s making millions very sick. As a result of this toxic exposure and buildup, we’re developing “invisible illnesses” like fibromyalgia, arthritic disorders, chronic fatigue, lupus, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Gulf War syndrome, multiple skin disorders, a myriad of chemically-induced immune system disorders, and yes, even cancer.

    Future generations may look back upon this era with contempt for the indiscriminate way we’ve allowed toxic chemicals to pollute our world, erode our quality of life, and in general cause disease and death.

    A PHYSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE
    Dr. Claudia Miller, Department of Family Practice, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, believes we are on the threshold of a new theory of disease— one that recognizes the impact of toxic chemicals. In a paper discussing chemical intolerance in Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, Miller wrote:

    “In the late 1800’s, physicians observed that certain illnesses spread from sick, feverish individuals to those contacting them, paving the way for the germ theory of disease. The germ theory served as a crude but elegant formulation that explained dozens of seemingly unrelated illnesses affecting literally every organ system.

    “Today, we are witnessing another medical anomaly—a unique pattern of illness involving chemically exposed people who subsequently report multi-system and new-onset chemical and food intolerances. These intolerances may be the hallmark for a new disease process, just as fever is a hallmark for infection.”

    Miller and other prominent scientists believe this new disease process is the key to the emergence of a totally new type of chemically related disorders and undiagnosed diseases. Disorders such as Gulf War syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, environmental illness, chemical sensitivities and multiple allergic response syndromes (MARS), are now believed to have a common denominator, toxic overload.

    POISONS WITHIN
    Toxic stress comes from more than the absorption of environmental chemicals. A wide range of potentially toxic substances are generated from processes at work within our body. When the natural mechanisms of detoxification malfunction, or when internally generated toxins are produced in excessive amounts faster than the ability of the organs to detoxify and neutralize, significant health disorders and disease result.

    For example, if a person does not have sufficient intake of vitamin B6, B12, or folic acid to meet their body’s specific demands, their cells are unable to properly metabolize and excrete the amino acid methionine—an important nutritional substance derived from protein digestion. When this occurs, a normally harmless amino acid is broken down into toxic homocysteine, a waste material that damages arteries and causes atherosclerosis.

    Even the processes within cells that generate energy from food molecules and oxygen result in the release of toxic free radicals — unstable molecules that have to be snuffed out by a complex system of dietary and internally generated antioxidants. If these complex antioxidant systems fail to perform properly, accelerated aging, disease and eventually death occurs.

    Toxins are also continuously generated from microbial activity in the digestive tract. Everything we eat is either absorbed into the body or it ends up in the colon where it is fermented by over 400 different species of bacteria and several kinds of yeast. Some of the fermentation by-products are harmless substances like lactic acid, but a wide variety of more toxic substances are also produced; ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, butane, cadaverine, and putrescine—a few of the many microbial toxins generated in our own gut. Most of these toxic by-products remain in the gut and those that are absorbed are quickly neutralized by the liver. However, if unfriendly gut microbes overgrow, or if liver function is compromised, serious health problems occur.

    Many individuals living with chronic health problems suffer, in part, because of the condition commonly known as “leaky gut syndrome,” in other words, autointoxication, meaning they are being poisoned by the toxic substances within their body—the condition does not have to be acute for the person to manifest symptoms.

    This condition, technically known as increased intestinal permeability, occurs when the normally leak-proof lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed or damaged and tiny gaps open up between intestinal cells. In this condition, large molecules from partially digested food and microbes pass through the leaky gut and into the surrounding blood and lymph.

    When a person has leaky gut, every meal places an unhealthy load on their immune system, particularly their liver, resulting in an increase in overall body burden—often escalating into multiple allergic response syndromes (MARS™). Once this occurs, the allergic responses to food and the environment can escalate to multiple chemical sensitivities and even anaphylactic shock. As a recovered victim of leaky gut syndrome and MARS, I can attest to the life-threatening and life-altering challenges that a victim of these disorders endures. In order to achieve full recovery, complete life-style changes must be implemented. The best insurance against these disorders is knowledge. However, knowledge without action is just as deadly as no knowledge.

    BODY BURDEN—The Chemical Assault
    The human race is now contaminated with hundreds of synthetic chemicals, which were not found in our ancestors. Exposure in the womb to these contaminants can cause birth defects and affect our children’s future ability to reproduce and their susceptibility to diseases, including cancer. In some cases, developmental problems can result and affected children may never reach their full potential. Put simply, the integrity of the next generation is at stake. Protecting our children from the legacy of these chemicals is a major challenge and responsibility of modern society.

    CHEMICAL TRESPASS?— Pesticides in Our Bodies
    Many U.S. residents carry toxic pesticides in their bodies above government assessed “acceptable” levels. “Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability,” makes public for the first time an analysis of pesticide-related data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a study of levels of chemicals in 9,282 people nationwide (2,644 of whom were tested for pesticides).

    Many of the pesticides found in the test subjects are linked to serious short- and long-term health effects including infertility, birth defects, learning disorders, childhood and adult cancers. Chemical Trespass finds that children, women and Mexican Americans shoulder the heaviest “pesticide body burden.” For example, children—the population most vulnerable to pesticides—are exposed to the highest levels of nerve-damaging organophosphorous (OP) pesticides. CDC data shows the average six year-old sampled is exposed to the OP pesticide chlorpyrifos (commonly known by the product name Dursban) at four times the level the EPA considers “acceptable” for a long-term exposure.

    Future articles will discuss specific challenges and the modifications necessary to live healthy in a toxic world through nutrition-based medicine employing pluralistic health principles, naturally.

  • What Puts ‘SUPER’ in Superfoods?

    The term “Superfood” was first used in the 1990s when a cookbook that was co-written by Dr. Michael Van Straten, a practitioner of alternative medicine, appeared in the bookshops. It was titled Superfoods and it claimed to provide the reader with information regarding various nutrients to help the body improve resistance against diseases and stress. Since that time, “superfoods” is primarily associated with fruits, vegetables and any other food products that are considered to be healthy for the body.

    As time progressed, however, nutritious Mother Nature made foods that once held the superfood distinction, were overthrown by exotic foods, as if they were the only ones now worthy of the superfoods monarchy. In fact, the superfoods term has been used so frequently by food and product promoters over the past decade, the public now believes that these exotic foods have near-magical qualities to compensate for their high prices.

    Whenever a scientific study provides evidence regarding a positive effect of some chemical property or properties found in a so-called superfood, that superfoods promotional influence is instantly boosted and more companies can jump on the superfood bandwagon.

    This is yet another reason why food promoters are constantly searching for yet undiscovered sources of remarkable nutrients. The public is continuously bombarded with new food products that allegedly can provide all sorts of healthy benefits to the body single-handedly. Over the years, the term “superfood” has retained its appeal to the public but it is now used mainly to create hype about a product to make it more marketable. With all the marketing gimmicks aside, what really constitutes a superfood?

    Up until now, there is no scientifically accepted definition of “superfood.” As mentioned, the term is generally used to refer to foods that are jam-packed with nutrients and can provide health benefits to your body1 Contrary to the marketing claims, there is no food product—no matter how exotic—that can single-handedly provide all of your health needs. Limiting yourself to eating these so-called superfoods can actually result in an impaired, one-sided diet that can do you more harm than good.

    Vitamins and minerals usually work in synergy and thereby need to work with one another in order to be able to provide what the body needs. This is a fact that is usually overlooked by people in their desire to get a one-way ticket to good health. Superfoods also work in synergy, and therefore—in more cases than not—it is wise to consume them as a package, or the whole food.

    Food scientists can easily isolate one or two components of a superfood, and even though those components might look good based on a study or two, nature doesn’t work in isolation. This is why you don’t find a single isolated tocopherol (an isomer of vitamin E) in a food like almonds, but instead an array of mixed tocopherols, all of which work in synergy. Research has even shown that when we consume only one form of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), it is at the detriment of the other forms, which potentially harms the body.2

    Berry, Berry Good
    The members of the berry kingdom are great examples of superfoods. These edible, fleshy and colorful fruits are full of antioxidants that can actually help in reversing and preventing diseases that are associated with free radicals.3 Free radicals are unstable molecules that react with various body chemicals, causing irreversible damage to our cells.4 As a person grows older, the damage caused by free radicals often worsens, which may speed up the process of aging and contribute to age-related health concerns. Antioxidants can help prevent premature aging by quenching the destructive action of free radicals.5 Berries, especially those with dark color, have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants—flavonoids and anthocyanidins—found in nature.6

    Anthocyanidins play an important role in memory function and can help decrease the rate of a person’s mental decline. Actually, a study was able to show that age-related cognitive decline reduced by about 1.5 to 2.5 years just by eating berries at least once a week.7 In addition, the same antioxidant can also fight the development of macular degeneration, an eye disorder usually brought about by old age.8

    The risk of cancer and heart diseases, on the other hand, can be reduced by various flavonoids, especially quercetin.9 The immune system already has its own troop of cancer-fighting cells, but a study has shown that quercetin can greatly increase the number of anti-cancer cells in the body.10 It also can regulate cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which are two primary factors for heart disease.11

    Vitamin K
    However, berries are not the only sources of nutrients that can fight heart disease. Green leafy vegetables are a great source of Vitamin K, which can also decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Unbeknownst to many, vitamin K works hand in hand with Vitamin D. Osteocalcin, a protein hormone present in Vitamin K, binds Vitamin D into your bones thus promoting bone health and prevents it from being deposited in your blood vessels.12 Thus, protecting your blood vessels from being clogged and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

    Nature is full of colors. More than just aesthetics, the different colors of natural products can actually give you a clue to the nutrient levels in them. Although some fruits or vegetables may have more nutrients than others, this does not mean that they are the only ones that provide the nutrients that you need. The next time that you eat, make sure that you have a colorful plate in front of you. This is your true and surefire ticket to good health.

    References

    1. MedicineNet. (n.d.). Definition of Superfoods. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=125459.
    2. Chen H, et al. Mixed tocopherol preparation is superior to alpha-tocopherol alone against hypoxia-reoxygenation injury. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Feb 22;291(2):349-53.
    3. Paredes-López O, et al. Berries: improving human health and healthy aging, and promoting quality life. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Sep;65(3):299–308. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0177-1.
    4. WebMD. (n.d.). Free Radicals. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/free-radicals.
    5. WebMD. (n.d.) Antioxidants – Topic Overview. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-topic-overview.
    6. Stibich, Mark. (2014, May 1). Anti-Aging Properties of Berries. Retrieved from http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongnutrition/qt/berries_aging.htm.
    7. Park, Alice. (2012, April 26). Brain Food: Berries Can Slow Cognitive Decline. Time
    8. Wang JJ, et al. Genetic susceptibility, dietary antioxidants, and long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration in two populations. Ophthalmology. 2014 Mar;121(3):667–75.
    9. Knekt P, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Sep;76(3):560–8.
    10. Brito AF, et al. Quercetin in cancer treatment, alone or in combination with conventional therapeutics? Curr Med Chem. 2015 Aug 12.
    11. Dower JI, et al. Effects of the pure flavonoids epicatechin and quercetin on vascular function and cardiometabolic health: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;101(5):914-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.098590. Epub 2015 Feb 25.
    12. Mercola. Without Vitamin K2, Vitamin D May Actually Encourage Heart Disease. (2011, July 16) Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/16/fatsoluble-vitamin-shown-to-reduce-coronary-calcification.aspx.
  • Why Choose Organic?

    Why Choose Organic? Elly McGuinness

    You may have heard that ‘going organic’ is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it’s such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Reason 1: Glyphosate
    You may be aware that organic food and products are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or chemicals. Advocates of conventional farming (the type that does allow use of these artificial substances) argue that recommended levels of these chemicals are not exceeded.

    This statement may be true for one chemical in one product but it does not consider the sheer number of potentially toxic chemicals that we are subjected to in modern society—in our food, our water, in the materials we use to make products and clothing, and in the air we breathe.

    A chemical may be tested and found to be safe at a certain level, but it is unlikely that the full cocktail of chemicals contained in a product have been tested. Molecular biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini has demonstrated that the full formulations of pesticides are much stronger than the declared active ingredient. Additionally, the ‘active’ ingredient may not be the most toxic ingredient in pesticide formulations.1

    Coupled with these issues, there is little consideration for variations in sensitivity between individuals, nor for the consequences of being exposed to so many different chemicals over the course of a day, or a lifetime.

    Glyphosate is a chemical under hot discussion in the farming world. Being on the market in the form of the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide Roundup, virtually all conventional produce and food products contain traces of this chemical. As with all subjects of debate, there are many studies that claim Roundup herbicide poses no risk to humans.2

    However, in March 2015 the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.3,4,5

    Advocates for organic farming believe it is wise to err on the side of caution—who wants to risk a build-up of toxic residue that could lead to serious health problems? It is much safer to ban ‘questionable’ chemical ingredients and to find a proven safe alternative than to live by the mantra of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

    The links between glyphosate and a wide range of health concerns and conditions are becoming increasingly evident. Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has found strong links between glyphosate use, and the rise in celiac disease. She explains that the villi in the gut are destroyed by glyphosate, which reduces the person’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals and can result in gut problems.6

    Glyphosate has been highlighted as a potential endocrine disruptor7 and has shown a strong correlation with the increased incidence of many diseases, from cancer to dementia, to autism.8,9,10 The World Health organization lists the adverse health effects caused by glyphosate as airway, skin, and mucous membrane irritation, abdominal, pain, nausea, vomiting, shock, dyspnea, respiratory failure.11

    For consumers who are not convinced about the safety of food production methods using synthetic chemicals such as glyphosate, the only ways to currently drastically reduce exposure are by choosing certified organic produce and products, growing your own, or by getting food from a local farmer who you know is not using these chemicals.12,13,14

    For those who are not sure how to start shifting from a conventional to an organic diet, or who have concerns around personal budgeting restraints, a good place to start making changes is by focusing on the ‘dirty dozen’— a list of the twelve foods in New Zealand that have been identified as having the highest pesticide residues.

    Reason 2: Healthy soil, healthy body
    Many people are now choosing organic as one way to help optimize their health and wellbeing. The vitamin and mineral content of fresh produce and other foods will vary based on how the soil is cared for, the environment they are grown in, and how they are processed, among other things.

    In organic farming, caring for the soil is of the utmost importance, because it forms the basis for health, for all life forms. As Sophie Grigson and William Black explain, “Healthy soil encourages healthy plants, plants which are strong and disease resistant, which means there is less need for artificial pesticides in organic production.” Their book “Organic—a new way of eating” highlights the fact that if we feed the soil, the plants will look after themselves.15

    Sally Fallon reiterates this in her book “Nourishing Traditions,” when she explains that nitrogen fertilizers used in conventional (non-organic) farming produce high yields, in part by pulling minerals from the soil. In turn, the food suffers because the vitamin and mineral contents are depleted. She explains that vitamin and mineral content between conventional and organic crops can vary hugely, and that some commercially raised oranges have been found to contain NO vitamin C!16

    The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ really does ring true. If you are consuming food that was once a sickly animal who was fed routine courses of antibiotics and a genetically engineered diet of pesticide sprayed grains that it is unable to digest, how healthy do you think you will be?

    If you are eating food that has been sprayed copious times with a herbicide that has been engineered to kill EVERYTHING around it, except that particular crop, how do you think this affects the health of the soil, and the subsequent health of your body? Similarly, with the skin being the largest organ in the body, and readily absorbing anything you rub on it, have you considered what is entering your system via this method (by way of creams and lotions)?

    Yes, our bodies are amazing, and yes they can process and eliminate a certain degree of ‘rubbish.’ But, when they become overloaded they are unable to summon the resources required to neutralize the onslaught of poisons entering them. Therefore it makes sense to limit our intake of toxins wherever we are able to do so; for example by making organic choices.

    Organic farming helps ensure you are receiving the best quality for your body, allowing your cells to be as healthy and strong as possible. Growth hormones, protein rich feeds and the routine use of antibiotics are not allowed, nor are synthetic chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides or pesticides.

    If you consider health as a holistic word encompassing people, animals, and the planet, then choosing organic is a positive step in this direction.

    Endnotes:

    1. “Food Matters – Life matters!” article. Organic NZ magazine. May/June 2015.
    2. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10408444.2013.770820.
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate.
    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Agency_for_Research_on_Cancer#IARC_categories.
    5. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/widely-used-herbicide-linked-to-cancer/.
    6. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/14/glyphosate-celiacdisease-connection.aspx.
    7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257596/.
    8. http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/92/JOS_Volume-9_Number-2_Nov_2014-Swanson-et-al.pdf.
    9. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/monsantos-roundup-enough-make-yousick.
    10. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/monsantos-sealed-documentsreveal-truth-behind-roundups-toxicological-dangers.
    11. http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/3/07-041814-table-T1.html.
    12. https://www.organicnz.org.nz/node/120.
    13. Organic – a new way of eating.” Sophie Grigson and William Black. Headline Book Publishing 2001.
    14. Nourishing Traditions." The Cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Revised second edition. Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig. Ph.D. 1999, 2001 New trends Publishing Inc.
    15. http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/policy-law/food-monitoring-programmes/foodact-1981/frsp/documents.htm.
    16. http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/2003_04-Analyses_Environmental.pdf