Sunday, November 30, 2008

Miraculous Milk

Nature's perfect food? Certainly for young mammals. Developed through evolution to provide all the nutrients needed for young rapidly growing mammals to thrive and mature.

Miraculous? Definitely!

The miracle of milk is that it provides all the nutrients that mammals need for optimal health in a highly bioavailable form that also includes beneficial probiotics and immune system support. Humans began routinely drinking milk from animals around the time that herding of animals began many thousands of years ago. Groups that included milk in their diet thrived and spread across much of the old world, quite possibly from the added health benefits from consuming dairy. In these cultures, milk was often revered as a special food that conferred good health. Milk was an important mainstay in the diet of most Europeans and European colonists of the new world.

Got grass ?As large cities grew in industrialized areas, the demand for milk increased. It wasn't long before large factory dairies appeared in many cities to supply this demand. Unfortunately, the cows were crowded in filthy conditions and fed unnatural diets that made them sick. The sick animals and filthy environment resulted in poor quality milk that was heavily contaminated with pathogens that quickly made many people sick from drinking it. In order to sell this filthy milk, the dairy owners turned to pasteurization to kill the pathogens in the milk. This approach was cheaper than trying to clean up their operations. Today, this has become the paradigm for cheap milk for the masses - quantity at the expense of quality.

Got Raw Milk?



Pasteurization

Can you imagine pasteurizing and homogenizing a mother's milk before giving it to her child? When pasteurized cow's milk is given to calves, they don't thrive and many die prematurely. Many of the important healthful aspects of milk are destroyed by the heat of pasteurization, including beneficial probiotic bacteria, enzymes that promote bioavailability of nutrients, and other special proteins that stimulate the immune system and suppress harmful microbes. Pasteurization is simply an excuse to sell filthy milk. Now most of the public can only buy dead milk from filthy factory farms. Pasteurized milk won't immediately make you sick unless it becomes contaminated, but it will likely contribute to allergies, asthma, and inflammation, and won't provide the proper nutrition for good health.

Requiring milk to be pasteurized to avoid harmful bacteria is like requiring all vegetables and meat to be cooked before being sold. We as consumers have a right to buy clean and healthy unprocessed foods. Many more people are sickened from eating contaminated vegetables and meat, as well as contaminated pasteurized milk, than from raw milk. Most cases of illness from raw milk have resulted from filthy factory farmed milk being accidentally or intentionally distributed without pasteurization. Ironically, raw milk from clean dairies is very resistant to harmful microbes, whereas pasteurized milk is not. That's why raw milk turns sour at room temperature, but sour raw milk will not make you sick. It's known as clabbered milk and was commonly used before the days of refrigeration. On the other hand, pasteurized milk rapidly goes rancid at room temperature and will make you sick.

The real solution to food borne illness is to provide clean food for sale in the first place. Proper farming techniques can provide clean food, including dairy. Animals should be fed their natural diet for optimal health of the animals and for optimal nutrition in the meat and milk they provide. Most factory farmed feed-lot and dairy animals are fed unnatural diets of grain and soy that make the animals sick and more likely to spread pathogens such as e-coli. To keep them alive, they are given massive amounts of antibiotics, which in turn helps to develop strains of harmful bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The dairy animals are also given hormones to make them produce more milk, but of lesser nutritional quality. These tactics allow the production of cheap, but poor quality milk, to outsell competitors and drive larger profits.

Many health practitioners now advise patients to eliminate dairy from their diet because of the harmful effects of this degraded and sorry substitute for real milk. Too bad most of them don't know about the excellent health benefits of fresh clean raw milk. More and more people are learning about real milk as the word spreads from those who switch to raw milk and find that it is a true panacea for good health, unlike the dead milk most people buy.

Raw Milk and Raw Eggs


The Milk Cure

In the past, raw milk from pasture-fed cows was used to successfully treat many diseases. As recently as the early 1900's, patients were treated by feeding them nothing but raw milk from pastured cows, about 5 to 10 quarts a day, in small amounts about every half hour. Dr. J. R. Crewe, of the Mayo Foundation, forerunner of the Mayo Clinic, in 1929 reported that this treatment was used "chiefly in tuberculosis, diseases of the nervous system, cardiovascular and renal conditions, hypertension, and in patients who are underweight". He also reported that "when sick people are limited to a diet containing an excess of vitamins and all the elements necessary to growth and maintenance, which are available in milk, they recover rapidly without the use of drugs and without bringing to bear all the complicated weapons of modern medicine". Unfortunately, the milk cure is not very profitable and was soon replaced by more profitable therapies, including drugs and surgery. In this day of very expensive medical treatments, maybe we need to strongly reconsider the milk cure as a first resort. Modern medicine should be the last resort.


Cultured Milk

Before the days of refrigeration, milk was consumed fresh, shortly after milking, or was cultured for later consumption. Raw milk can be cultured by it's own microbes to create clabbered milk or buttermilk, or with added cultures to make products like yogurt, kefir, and cheeses. Raw cultured dairy offers the same benefits of raw milk and may be a better option for those with blood sugar problems, since the amount of milk sugar is reduced by culturing. Cultured dairy made from pasteurized whole milk may not be as beneficial and "low fat" dairy may even be detrimental to health.

Nutrients in Human Milk

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has compiled nutrient data on human milk, which is shown in the table below, along with the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for children ages 1 to 3 from the US Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, for comparison. This table shows data for the amount of milk required to achieve 100% of the calcium DRI. It is interesting to note that when the calcium DRI is satisfied, the average human milk is greatly deficient in iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, manganese, and vitamins B1 (thiamin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), E (alph-tocopherol), D (cholecalciferol), and K (phylloquinone), with less than 50% of these nutrients compared to the DRI. In contrast, copper and vitamins A and C in human milk are two to five times higher than the DRI when calcium is at 100% of the DRI. If we assume that the average human milk documented by the USDA is sufficient for good health of the child at the quantity necessary to provide 100% of the calcium DRI, then the implication for the deficient nutrients is that either the DRIs are over-estimated for these nutrients, or the bioavailability of these nutrients is much less in foods other than milk (or some combination of these two possibilities). As for copper and vitamins A and C, perhaps the DRIs for these nutrients are too low relative to calcium.

Nutrients in Human Milk
(click to enlarge)

Comparing Milk from Humans, Cows, and Goats

Milk from all mammals is similar in content, though each mammal produces milk best suited to the needs of their own offspring. However, even within species, the nutrients in milk can vary substantially depending on the diet of the mother. Mammals eating a healthy native diet will produce the healthiest milk. When important native foods are missing from the diet, milk quality will suffer.

Even though milk evolved primarily to boost the survival odds for offspring, it has the complete package of nutrients, probiotics,and enzymes to sustain adults of many species as well. Human use of milk from herded animals over thousands of years is a prime example. Nonetheless, it is interesting to compare the nutrients in human milk versus those in cow's milk. The table below shows nutrient data for human, cow, and goat milk for comparison. Human milk has less protein and more fat and carbohydrate that cow and goat milk, possibly because human babies don't grow as fast as young cows and goats. Human milk is also lower in most minerals, except for iron, copper, manganese, and selenium. It is substantially lower by weight in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Human milk is substantially higher in vitamin C than cow or goat milk and substantially higher in vitamins A and B3 (niacin) than cow milk. Human milk is much lower in vitamin B12 than cow milk and substantially lower in vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B9.

Nutrients in Human, Cow, and Goat Milk
(click to enlarge)

Milk Intolerance

Not all humans can properly digest milk, for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is that a large number of people lose the ability to produce the digestive enzyme lactase as adults. Lactase is needed to digest the lactose sugar in milk. Most people who are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk because it has lactase provided by bacteria in the milk. However, this natural lactase is destroyed by pasteurization. Consequently, lactose intolerant individuals will have difficulty digesting pasteurized milk and will suffer unpleasant symptoms such as excessive gas or diarrhea. A few individuals have difficulty digesting the casein protein in milk. This problem may be aggravated by inadequate stomach acidity. The type of casein from the most modern breeds of cow, like the pervasive Holsteins, appears to cause the most problems. The casein from older breeds, like Jerseys and Guernseys, or from goat milk is usually better tolerated by these individuals.

Update 3/21/09 A1 and A2 Milk

The primary reason for casein related health problems may be the form of the casein. The casein in human, goat, and sheep milk is the A2 form of casein that is well tolerated by humans. However, most modern cows also have the A1 form of casein, which is not as well tolerated. Heritage breeds like Jersey and Guernsey have much less of the suspect A1 casein. However, the much more common Holsteins often have as much as 50-70% of the casein as A1, while pure-bred Jerseys have more like 10-30% of the casein as A1. Since Holsteins dominate milk production in many areas, these populations are exposed to greater risk of problems from the A1 form of casein, including auto-immune disease, heart disease , type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia. For more details read The Devil in the Milk and Beta Casein A1 and A2 in Milk and Human Health.

References and Further Reading

What Is Real Milk?
Raw Milk - History, Health Benefits and Distortions

The Health Benefits of Raw Milk from Grass-Fed Animals
The Health Benefits of Raw Milk

Milk: It Does a Body Good
What's in Raw Milk?

Milk History

Real Milk Cures Many Diseases

The Raw Milk Revolution

Where to Find Raw Milk

United States

Other Countries

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vaccine Overload


The companies that develop and manufacture vaccines for profit and the clinics that provide the vaccines also for profit, would have us believe that vaccines will save us from disease while causing negligible harm. They point to the dramatic drop in disease as evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines and claim that risks in taking vaccines are minimal and well worth the benefit.

But a closer and independent look at the data paints a different picture. While some vaccines may confer a reduced likelihood of infection, all vaccines have significant side effects, with substanitial numbers of severe adverse reactions, sometimes resulting in death. Not surprisingly, there have been no long-term safety studies for vaccines where the health of vaccinated children is compared with an unvaccinated control group! We need to take a very careful and unbiased look at the benefits and risks of any vaccine before accepting it.

Most infectious diseases were already declining rapidly before vaccines were introduced, with little evidence that vaccines have made an improvement. Some vaccines are notoriously ineffective, such as the influenza vaccine. Many people who take the vaccine get the flu anyway. Even the most effective vaccines offer no more than about 40 to 60 percent effectiveness and some vaccines are actually suspected of causing cases of the disease they are supposed to prevent.

Against this backdrop of uncertainty about the effectiveness of the vaccines, we have the problem of side effects caused by vaccines. In order to make a vaccine work, it must strongly stimulate the immune system into responding to the target agent given in the vaccine, usually a disabled version of the target infectious agent. But strongly stimulating the immune system has its own hazards, one of which is possible triggering of allergies to other non-infectious agents that just happen to be present when the vaccine is given or shortly thereafter. The rapid rise in asthma and allergies in recent years could be one of the consequences. Another hazard is the possible triggering of auto-immune problems like lupus and type I diabetes, and neurological problems, like autism. The pertussis vaccine has actually been used to induce auto-immune disease in laboratory animals. Another problem is that vaccines are often given several at a time to young children. This practice is likely to compound the effect on the immune system, which is not fully developed in young children. Yet another problem is that some of the adjuvants used to stimulate the immune system are poisons in their own right and can cause harmful side effects, such as aluminum hydroxide and aluminum phosphate. Finally, the production and preservation of vaccines introduces even more potentially harmful compounds directly into the blood, such as foreign animal proteins used to incubate the infectious agent, poisonous formaldehyde used to deactivate live infectious agents, and thimerosal with poisonous mercury which is still used to preserve some vaccines.

An excellent resource for vaccine information is the National Vaccine Information Center. They have information about individual vaccines as well as state laws and exceptions regarding vaccines.
Further Reading

An Introduction to the Vaccination Controversy

Vaccines and Autism

Why Vaccines Aren't Safe

Do Vaccines Work and Are They Safe?

Vaccines: A Second Opinion

Avoid Flu Shots, Take Vitamin D Instead

Significant Harm from Just ONE Mercury-Containing Vaccine

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cholesterol Confusion

Everyone knows what cholesterol is now - that stuff that clogs arteries and causes heart attacks, right?

Wrong!

When you get a blood test for "cholesterol", what they are measuring is not the chemical cholesterol directly, but instead is the total amount of certain lipoproteins that just happen to contain some cholesterol. It's a bit of a misnomer - sort of like calling a car an engine. Let's measure the weight of all those engines on the road by totaling the weight of all the cars on the road. What's worse, there are many other vehicles on the road that have engines but are not cars, like trucks and buses. Does it make sense to total the weight of just cars as an indication of the weight of engines on the road?

There is a chemical called cholesterol and it's an essential part of every cell membrane. It's a precursor to several important hormones and to vitamin D. It's considered both a sterol and a lipid, but not a fat. All fats are lipids, but not all lipids are fats. Cholesterol and fats are not soluble in water, but are needed by our cells. In order to transport cholesterol and fats through our blood, which is largely water, our body bundles them into packages of protein, fat,and cholesterol that can be carried in the blood. These packages are lipoproteins.

There are several kinds of lipoproteins the body uses for different purposes. They are classified by their density, which also roughly corresponds to their size. The largest and least dense are chylomicrons, followed by very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). Both of these contain cholesterol but are not included in total "cholesterol" blood tests. Next are low density lipoproteins (LDL), intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL), and high density lipoproteins (HDL).

In blood tests, the VLDL is called "triglycerides", even though all lipoproteins contain triglycerides (more confusion?) and "total cholesterol" is the total of LDL, some IDL, and HDL.

So how do cholesterol and lipoproteins relate to heart disease?

True cholesterol does not really appear to be a player in heart disease. It is actually very important for good health. However, glycated proteins and fats as well as oxidized fats, all of which can be incorporated into lipoproteins, do appear to play a role. Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule, such as fructose or glucose, binds to a protein or fat and oxidized fats are generally polyunsaturated fats that have been oxidized into peroxides. Some types of glycated proteins and all fat peroxides can cause a variety of problems and are implicated in both heart disease and cancer.

For optimal health, and thus avoidance of heart disease and cancer, we should be striving to reduce our load of glycated proteins and oxidized fats. Elevated blood sugar and triglyceride levels are correlated with elevated blood levels of glycated protein. So, obviously, keeping blood sugar and triglyceride levels normalized is ideal. Eat starches with fat and protein to minimize blood sugar spikes after meals or snacks. Don't eat foods with added refined sugar and don't eat too much fruit. Low-carb diets and/or excercise tend to normalize blood sugar and triglycerides.
The fats most prone to oxidation are polyunsaturated fats. Large amounts of dietary polyunsaturated fat are new to the human diet. Up until the last couple hundred years, the typical amount of dietary polyunsaturated fat was around five percent of dietary calories or less. Only recently has the amount of polyunsaturated fat been increasing dramatically in the human diet as cheap vegetable oils have displaced healthier animal fats in commercial food products. Keeping dietary polyunsaturated fats under four percent of total calories is ideal. That means avoiding most processed foods like sauces, dressings, baked goods, and most cooking oils, and eating only small amounts of nuts. Most commercial sauces and dressings are loaded with soybean oil or other oils high in polyunsaturated fat. Most commercial cooking oils are also high in polyunsaturated fat and sometimes trans-fat (made from hydrogenated polyunsaturated fat). That means avoid most commercial fried and baked foods.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

WAP Diet

No, it's not another fad diet for losing weight!

It's really a philosophy for healthy eating that's been around for thousands of years and was put into perspective about 70 years ago by the work of Weston A. Price (WAP). The idea is to eat foods that kept our ancestors healthy and to avoid highly processed and refined foods that are low in nutrients and high in harmful additives. Actually, many people do lose weight using this approach to eating, but the main goal is getting good nutrition for optimal health. Normalizing weight is a fringe benefit :)

Not all of the foods that our ancestors ate were equally healthy. Some foods confer greater health than others. That's what Weston Price studied in the 1920's and 1930's when he traveled around the world to document the native foods that people ate and their health. His conclusion was that the healthiest native diets included animal seafoods, organ meats, and/or dairy in their diet. These are the foods that have provided optimal nutrition for thousands of years. He found that when people abandoned the healthy diet of their ancestors for a more modern diet of refined flour and sugar and highly processed foods, their health suffered greatly.

Today we see a massive shift to highly processed foods in much of the world and a corresponding rise in poor health. Rates of obesity are increasing rapidly as people follow sadly misguided conventional dietary and health advice and are confused and misled by advertising for manufactured fake foods. When they get sick, they are given expensive drugs that often cause more health problems than they solve. It's time to get back to the foods that kept people healthy for thousands of years and shun the modern manufactured fake foods.

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) has been teaching the about the WAP approach to eating for about 10 years now and is a good source for health and diet information. My experience is that each of us has to discover which ancestral foods are best for us by trial and error. Not all traditional foods are best for everyone. Try them out and find the ones that work best for your health. Here's a WAPF video that discusses Price's teachings:



Some people have food sensitivities to even some traditional foods that others are able to tolerate. Read here for more information about food sensitivities. That's why it's important to find the traditional foods that work best for your own health.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fluoride - Friend or Foe ?

Most of us were taught that fluoride is our friend and helps to prevent cavities and strengthen bones. But toxicologists rate fluoride as more poisonous than lead and almost as poisonous as arsenic. So how can it be our friend?

The supporting argument is that fluoride in small amounts is beneficial and only in large amounts is it harmful. Well, this is true of many beneficial minerals, but what does science show us about the benefits and toxicity of fluoride? The evidence suggests that fluoride has little if any beneficial effects and even at relatively low concentrations has a variety of serious harmful effects. Yes, topical application of fluoride at high concentration will kill bacteria in your mouth and that may possibly confer some benefit against tooth decay. But at what cost to your health?


Because of it's poisonous effects, fluoride is a common ingredient in many pesticides. That should tell us something. Too much fluoride can cause obvious bad symptoms, the most common of which is dental fluorosis. The rates of dental fluorosis have increased dramatically in the U.S. over the last several decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control, dental fluorosis now impacts 32% of American children, whereas in the 1940s, dental fluorosis rates in fluoridated areas averaged 10%. But that's not the only potential problem caused by too much fluoride. Fluoride apparently interferes with proper thyroid function and iodine metabolism in the body. It may be a factor in the recent epidemic of hypothyroidism, since low thyroid function is related to problems with iodine metabolism. Also, studies of fluoride levels in drinking water show a clear inverse relationship with intelligence in children. Apparently, higher levels of fluoride reduce the intelligence of children by negatively affecting brain development.

So many people were sold on the idea that fluoride is beneficial in preventing tooth decay that it has been added to public water supplies in much of the U.S.A. for many years, typically at concentrations of around one part per million (ppm). But is this really beneficial? In Europe, fluoride has been banned from water supplies in most areas, and yet levels of tooth decay are not higher as a result. There is little evidence to show that adding fluoride to drinking water prevents tooth decay. Unfortunately, adding fluoride to drinking water increases our exposure not only directly by drinking the water, but indirectly by consuming food and beverages that were processed with fluoridated water. Considering that we also get fluoride from pesticides in our food, from toothpaste, from non-stick cookware, household pesticide sprays, and from some pharmaceutical drugs, that can add up to quite a bit of fluoride intake. This increased fluoride exposure may be enough to explain the large increase in dental fluorosis and to raise suspicion in the large increase in hypothyroidism.

We were also taught that fluoride helps to strengthen our bones. This may possibly be true in very small amounts, but even this possibility is controversial. Animal studies show either no effect or a negative effect of fluoride on bone strength. But at the typical exposures today, fluoride may contribute significantly to bone brittleness and easier bone breakage.

If you drink fluoridated water, it typically has about one ppm or one milligram per liter (mg/l) of fluoride. That means if you drink two liters per day (about two quarts per day) you get two milligrams (mg) of fluoride per day just from your water alone.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, has set the Adequate Intake (AI) per day for fluoride at 4 mg for men and 3 mg for women (ages 14 and over). They list the "Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL)" at 10 mg per day. Unfortunately, it appears that this recommendation was heavily influenced by pro-fluoridation proponents and is much too high. The UL should probably be more like 2 to 4 mg per day and ideally we should try to keep total fluoride intake to less than one mg per day to minimize risk of harmful effects.

There are a few foods that have higher amounts of fluoride and should be consumed in modest amounts, including tea, wine, and raisins. Natural ground water can also be high in fluoride in some areas and may need to be tested before use as a drinking water supply.

Here's what the USDA reports for the concentration of fluoride (ppm):
1.15 Tea, green, brewed (23 samples)
2.72 Tea, green, decaffeinated, brewed (10 samples)
3.73 Tea, black, brewed, regular, all (63 samples)
1.05 Wine, red (14 samples)
2.02 Wine, white (17 samples)
2.13 Grape juice, white (12 samples)
2.34 Raisins (1 sample)

Note that 1 ppm = 1 mg/l = 0.24 mg per 8 ounce cup

The Linus Pauling Institute reports the following measurements of fluoride in brewed tea (ppm):
0.6-1.0 Oolong
1.2-1.7 Green
1.0-1.9 Black
2.2-7.3 Brick tea

The amount of fluoride varies by the age of the tea leaf. The newest buds have the least and the oldest leaves have the most. That means white teas made from the buds have the lowest fluoride and high quality teas made from younger leaves will have less than low quality teas and brick teas made from older leaves.

Organic teas may also tend to have less fluoride. The Weston A Price Foundation reported the following concentrations of fluoride (ppm):
0.86 Tap water
0.62 Filtered water
0.94 Organic black tea (made with filtered water)
0.90 Kombucha (made with organic black tea)

Regarding prevention of tooth decay, Weston Price found that people eating healthy native diets had little tooth decay. But when these same people began eating refined flour and sugar, tooth decay became rampant. The moral is that proper diet and hygiene will prevent tooth decay. Added fluoride is just another poison that we don't need in our water and diet.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cancer Concerns

Alternative Cancer Net

Cancer is one of the more feared diseases that unfortunately strikes many more people now than in the past. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all share a common theme - human cells gone awry and proliferating out of control such that they eventually disrupt normal bodily functions and eventually cause death. There are several factors that appear to play significant roles in causing cancer: diet, exposure to carcinogens, exposure to ionizing radiation, and genetics.

Cells may become damaged by poor nutrition or exposure to harmful chemicals or by ionizing radiation such as cosmic rays or x-rays. Most damaged cells die and cause no problems. But with trillions of cells constantly reproducing to sustain our bodies, sooner or later there will be cells that are damaged in such a way that they survive, but function abnormally. When these abnormal cells lose their normal propensity to die (apoptosis) they can proliferate out of control and then you have cancer.

Cancer and the Immune System

Research indicates that our immune system normally attacks and destroys cells that are no longer functioning properly, as is the case with cancer cells. Cancer is only able to proliferate when it can manage to avoid the body's defenses, which may happen if the immune system is weak or if the cancer is able to deceive the immune system into accepting it as normal. Excess dietary sugar and polyunsaturated fat both weaken the immune system. Some toxins and poisons can also weaken the immune system. Ironically, conventional chemotherapy for cancer also weakens the immune system.

Alternative Cancer Net

Cancer and Glucose

Another characteristic of cancer is that cancer cells are only able to burn glucose for energy, unlike normal cells, which can also burn fat for energy. They also consume much more glucose than normal cells. Because of this peculiarity, it is possible that high blood glucose levels may add fuel to the fire once it has started. A study in Korea showed that people with elevated fasting blood glucose levels had about a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of all types of cancer and about double the risk of pancreatic cancer. Another study found that people with elevated fasting insulin and glucose levels were about 50% more likely to have recurring colon polyps and about 2.4 times more likely to have advanced colon tumor recurrence. Low carbohydrate diets may help to slow down the run-away proliferation of cancer cells by helping to normalize blood insulin and glucose levels and to keep them from spiking after meals.

Alternative Cancer Net

Cancer and Genetics

Studies of identical twins suggest that most cancers have a genetic component to susceptibility, some cancers more than others. Thyroid, testicular, and laryngeal cancers and lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma appear to have a stronger genetic component. Also, cancers with early age diagnosis generally have a higher familial risk. However, the overall heritability has been estimated at only about 18% for all types of cancer on average, leaving environment as the major factor in causing cancer.

Dealing with Cancer

Once cancer begins to proliferate enough to cause symptoms, it is very often at an advanced stage and difficult to control. Billions of dollars have been spent over decades to find ways to cure cancer, but so far, no consistent cures have been found. Consequently, avoiding cancer is all the more important.

If cancer does strike, be sure to evaluate all of the options available before deciding on a strategy to try and overcome cancer. The Annie Appleseed Project is a good resource for finding information about complimentary and alternative methods of cancer treatment.

In reality, we all may be dealing with cancer. Our choices in life may affect whether cancer can take root and grow.

Make your choices carefully!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Causes of Death 2005 versus 1900

It's interesting to compare the causes of death in 1900 to those in more recent years. The causes of death have changed significantly since then. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) has statistics on life expectancy and cause of death for the United States going back to 1900. These statistics show that a lot more people died before the age of 40 back then than now. Life expectancy at birth has risen by 29 years from 49 in 1900 to 78 in 2005. But life expectancy at age 60 has increased by only about 8 years since 1900 as shown in the table below. Most of the large improvement in life expectancy at birth is because of much lower mortality in children in recent years.

CDC source:
Table 6. Expectation of life by age, race, and sex: United States, final 2004 and preliminary 2005

Based on CDC statistics in the two tables below, the death rate per 100,000 population has decreased almost in half from about 1,548 in 1900 to 799 in 2005. But in 1900, about a third of the deaths were from pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea, the top three causes. By comparison, in 2005, almost half of the deaths were from heart disease and cancer, the top two causes. In 1900, heart disease and cancer accounted for only 13 percent of the deaths. The rate of death from cancer has nearly tripled and the rate for heart disease has nearly doubled from 1900 to 2005. The rate of death from accidents was almost twice as high in 1900 as in 2005.

It is likely that hygiene and medicine have helped to greatly reduce deaths from infectious diseases, more than offsetting the large rise in heart disease and cancer. It is also likely that diet and lifestyle changes account for much of the increase in heart disease and cancer. Since 1900, Americans have greatly increased the comsumption of sugar, vegetable oils, food additives, pesticides, soy, and highly processed foods and these dietary changes may very well be largely responsible for increasing the rates of heart disease and cancer.

The accuracy of these statistics is probably somewhat crude at best. Many people have multiple problems when they die and assigning a cause may be just a best guess. The same problem exists in classifying disease in the first place. But nonetheless, these statistics are the best estimates we have.

CDC source for 2005 data:
Table B. Deaths and death rates for 2005 and age-adjusted death rates and percent changes in age-adjusted rates from 2004 to 2005 for the 15 leading causes of death: United States, final 2004 and preliminary 2005

CDC source for 1900 data:
Leading Causes of Death, 1900-1998

Update 2009 May 14
Be sure to read this great analysis:
The Coronary Heart Disease Epidemic

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Native Nutrition Photos

If you enjoy taking photos and/or looking at photos, there's a new Flickr photo group devoted to photos related to native nutrition, nourishing traditions, and paleo-diet. It includes photos of healthy traditional food, meals, food preparation and processing methods, cooking tools and techniques, as well as healthy people and animals, gardens, farms, and ways of growing your own food.

The idea behind this photo group is to share healthy ideas in the form of photos, along with helpful comments so that we can all help each other to learn and grow. The photos on this post are linked back to the original photos on Flickr. To see the group photo page click on this link: Native Nutrition. On the group photo page, click on the "More photos ..." link to see all of the group photos. Click on the individual photos to see a larger image, along with information about the photo and any comments.

Bison marrow bones
If you've never heard of Flickr before, it may be the world's largest repository of photos. Typically, about 3,000 to 4,000 photos are uploaded to Flicker *every minute* from all over the world. Today it ranked number 39 among the world's most visited web sites.

Enticement
If you'd like to join the group, it's easy. You can get a free account at Flickr for up to 200 photos. If you have SBC-Yahoo internet service, you get the "pro" account for free, which includes unlimited uploading of photos and otherwise costs about $25 a year. No April fooling :)

Sauerkraut.. The Elixer of Life!
Hope to see you soon - your photos, that is :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Real Farm!

I recently went to the Sand Creek Farm and dairy for a tour. About 10 or 15 families came for the tour. It's a beautiful and ideal farm run by Ben and Alysha Godfrey, near Cameron, Texas. The tour was great fun for all. There was a visit to the dairy, a ride on a horse drawn trailer, a visit to the field for a romp in some haystacks and a hands-on demonstration of plowing with horses, a visit to a pasture with pigs, chickens, and cows, and an opportunity to collect eggs from the hen house.

Click here to see a set of photos from the tour.
The photos can be viewed individually, by clicking on the photo miniatures, or as a slideshow, by clicking on the "View as slideshow" link on the upper right side of the page. Click on the "Map" link to see a map showing the location (use the zoom bar on the upper right to zoom out or switch to the satellite view).

Sand Creek Farm is a real farm, where the animals are pastured, well treated, and fed their natural diet. The dairy produces clean fresh real milk, cream, and cheese that are not damaged by pasteurization and homogenization. The crops and feed are organic. No GMO here!

Ben and Alysha were raised in the city and graduated from Texas A&M University with backgrounds in agriculture leadership and scientific nutrition. They are home schooling four beautiful daughters. Ben led the family to a farm in 2003. They more recently moved to a larger farm, where they are working to achieve a sustainable farm based on holistic principles of proper soil and animal health.

We need more farms like this one. Instead, most farms have become factories where profit is maximized at the expense of nutrition and health benefit. Animals are caged, poorly treated, and fed grossly unnatural diets. Plants are genetically modified to withstand pests and herbicides - not to make them healthier to eat. They are sprayed with harmful chemicals that end up in the bodies of animals and humans that consume them.

Food produced using traditional methods is much healthier. It can also be more expensive, but what better investment can you make than your health and the health of your family?

We vote with our dollars. Buy sustainable, traditional, humane, organic foods!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Health Check List

The typical modern diet is missing important foods that kept our ancestors healthy and instead is loaded with highly processed fake foods that are low in nutrients and high in additives that are not good for health. Also, modern lifestyles are often stressful and sedentary. Together, poor diet and lifestyle choices are largely responsible for declining health and quality of life in the modern world.

What can we do to improve our health?

1) Include animal seafoods and/or organ meats and/or raw dairy
(from Weston A Price study of most healthful native diets)

2) Eliminate refined sugar and minimize sweets
(keep total sugars to less than 5-10% of calories)
and if overweight, minimize starchy foods as well
(keep total carbohydrates to less than 10-20% of calories)

3) Eliminate artificial trans-fats (hydrogenated oils and fats)

4) Restrict polyunsaturated fats to less than 4% of total calories
and minimize omega-6 polyunsaturated fats

5) Get at least 30 minutes of active exercise daily
(appropriate for your level of conditioning)

6) Learn to avoid and properly handle stress
(relaxation, meditation, EFT, diet, exercise)

7) Get plenty of sleep (ideally 6 to 8 hours)

8) Get plenty of sun if possible
(avoid sunscreen but be careful not to get sunburned)

9) Take good quality high vitamin cod liver oil daily
(if you don't get adequate sun, seafood, and liver)

10) Include cultured and fermented foods and beverages
(if tolerated)

11) Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals
(artificial food additives, pesticides, natural food toxins,
unfermented soy, drugs, poisons, health care products)

12) Avoid foods that cause noticeable adverse effects
(identify possible food intolerances)

13) Choose fully pastured or wild animal foods
(from a clean environment and include bone broth)

14) Use coconut oil, tallow, and/or butter for cooking

15) Include a variety of plant foods to taste and tolerance
(prepared to optimize nutrient availability,
preferably high brix organic and locally grown)

16) If dairy is consumed, use raw and cultured dairy

17) If grains and nuts are consumed, soak or sprout them

18) Eat at least half of your food uncooked

19) Minimize or eliminate factory processed/packaged fake foods
(supports 2, 3, 4, 10)

20) When eating out, avoid fried foods, dressings, and sweet foods
(supports 2, 3, 4, 10)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Antibiotics - Probiotics

Modern medicine has conjured a deep fear of microbes that has led to gross over-use of antibiotics, most commonly for sinus and ear infections. Antibiotic literally means "against life", but is largely used to refer to medications that kill bacteria. Many of these medications are derived from mycotoxins produced by fungi for the purpose of killing competing bacteria. What most doctor's don't tell you is that many of the antibiotics they prescribe kill not only harmful bacteria, but also health promoting bacteria. Not only that, but when bacteria are suppressed, fungi can go into a feeding frenzy and multiply like crazy. And most fungi are not beneficial. What's worse, antibiotics also depress our immune system, allowing unaffected microbes to flourish. And furthermore, over-use of antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that can take advantage of any depressed immune system. Consequently, antibiotics should be reserved for only the most severe bacterial infections.

Most people don't realize there are many more microbes in our bodies than human cells, by at least a factor of two or three. We are really symbiotic cultures of human cells and microbes. Most of these microbes are in our digestive system and can weigh as much as three or four pounds. When we are healthy, most of the microbes are beneficial bacteria that help us digest our food and even add nutrients to our system and help support our immune health. This is "symbiosis". Taking powerful antibiotics greatly damages this symbiotic system by killing the beneficial bacteria and allowing harmful microbes, mainly fungi and resistant bacteria, to multiply, causing "dysbiosis". These unfriendly microbes can damage the mucosal lining of the intestines allowing undigested harmful proteins and chemicals to enter the body and the bad microbes can also generate toxins that are absorbed into our body. Dysbiosis often leads to food allergies and may trigger auto-immune diseases, which are malfunctions of our immune system. Dysbiosis may also cause or contribute to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

We are born without beneficial microbes in our digestive system, but mother's milk provides a host of beneficial microbes that quickly colonize our infant digestive systems. The microbes change in composition over time, influenced largely by the foods we eat. These beneficial microbes serve as our first line of defense in combating harmful microbes. When they are healthy, they can out-compete undesirable microbes and may even kill them directly. So, it is imperative to eat foods that promote the beneficial microbes. These can be foods that feed the microbes or foods that actually have live beneficial microbes to re-enforce the supply in our system. Foods with live beneficial microbes are called probiotic, which literally means "for life". Some of the best probiotic foods are raw dairy, fermented dairy such as kefir and yogurt, fermented beverages such as kombucha and beet kvass, and lacto-fermented vegetables such as traditional sauerkraut and pickles (unpasteurized). Foods that benefit the good microbes are called "prebiotic" and include vegetable foods with oligosaccharides. Foods high in refined sugar and refined carbohydrates may in quantity promote microbes that are not beneficial. Maintaining proper digestion is critical to our health.

So what can we do to avoid antibiotics? Ideally keep our immune system as healthy as possible to avoid infections in the first place. That means eating plenty of nutrient dense foods and minimizing dietary sugar, refined carbohydrates, and omega-6 fats that can hamper immune function. Also, eating foods with good saturated fats, such as pastured animal and dairy fats and coconut oil, helps to boost immune function. And consuming probiotic foods helps to maintain beneficial bacteria in the digestive system, which in turn helps to boost immune function. Choosing fresh organic foods and staying away from factory processed/packaged foods loaded with harmful food additives, preservatives, and pesticides also helps to reduce the burden on our immune system.

When infections do manage to bring illness, we need to boost the functioning of our immune system - preferably by diet as much as possible. Taking additional probiotic foods and/or supplements may help against many infections, especially gastro-intestinal infections. Herbal medicines may also provide help against many infections. Consult a naturopathic physician or herbal medicine practitioner for diagnosis and prescription. Bone broth is a traditional remedy that can also help our immune system fight many infections, Broth is Beautiful.

For an in depth and well-referenced discussion of dysbiosis read:
"The causes of intestinal dysbiosis: a review"