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Turkey Tracks: Robb Wolf’s Reaction to the Red Meat=Cancer Study

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Turkey Tracks:  March 22, 2012

Robb Wolf’s Reaction to the Red Meat=Cancer Study

Son Michael sent me Robb Wolf’s Reaction to the red meat=cancer study recently released by Harvard.

Robb Wolf is a biochemist who decided to blend his knowledge of nutrition with healthy exercise.  I wrote about his book in my last Tipping Points Essay (No. 41) and will use his analysis to discuss the dangers of eating grains and legumes.  That information is in many reputable places now, so I’ll also include some of them.  But Robb does a really good job of simply explaining the issues.

What I like about Robb’s reaction is that he goes to some lengths to explain that it’s NOT ok to use badly crafted scientific studies that support your personal belief system.  He references some bad studies that support low-carb diets to illustrate and calls for a return to using solid science that searches for accuracy and, dare I say it, “truth.”

Here’s Robb’s reaction:


And, here’s Robb’s book:

Written by louisaenright

March 22, 2012 at 10:29 am

Interesting Information: New Harvard Study on Red Meat and Cancer = Junk Science

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Interesting Information:  March 17, 2012

New Harvard Study on Red Meat and Cancer = Junk Science

I was quilting and listening to NPR news the other day when I heard a story about there being a “new” study that linked red meat and cancer.

Information about the type of study came late in the story, and I’d be willing to bet that what most people heard was “Harvard” and “red meat causes cancer.”

Before emoting on this blog, I poked around a bit and found out more information.  Here’s the press release from Harvard:


And, here’s a story from Business Week:



Now, before you panic about your grass-fed red meat consumption, let’s do a bit of thinking together…

First of all, the study uses QUESTIONNAIRES to determine what people are eating.  This kind of methodology is famously inaccurate and, thus, unscientific.  You can poll 121,342 people, as this study did, and it’s still unscientific because it is always already inaccurate.  People lie for their own reasons or don’t remember exactly.

Second, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.  One famous example of this kind of thinking–leaping from a perceived association to hard fact–would be the very wrong connection between high cholesterol counts and heart attacks.  Do you know how many people have been seriously maimed by taking statins?  I don’t know, but I’ve written a Tipping Points essay on how they waste muscles in the body.  Since Big Pharma and our docs have made a fortune making statins and/or dispensing them, you can bet a LOT of people have been harmed.

Third, the so-called “killer” red meats here are PROCESSED red meats (hot dogs), bacon (not a red meat and made with nitrates), and FAST FOOD hamburgers (notoriously poor quality hamburger, which is probably full of pink slime).  This study is NOT covering high quality red meats, like grass-fed beef, which is free of disease and which is chock full of high-density nutrients.  The distinctions between types of red meat are NOT made in the study’s announcement.  Rather, all red meat is just lumped together and damned.

So, you can bet that if folks are eating a lot of hot dogs and fast food hamburgers, they are also drinking SODAS (full of sugar) and ordering FRENCH FRIES.  How many people eating a fast food hot dog or hamburger are going to order water with a slice of lemon???  Or, NOT order some french fries?

By the way, it’s not all that hard to find good quality–as in nitrate free–bacon and hot dogs.  And to find hot dogs not padded with soy.  And grass-fed beef is getting real traction in the market now.  Yes, it costs more.  It takes longer to bring the cow to market.  So, savor this beef  fully and cook with ALL the beef parts, not just the hamburger and the steaks.

Here’s a quote from the “Business Week” article, by Betsy Booren, the director of scientific affiars for the American Meat Institute Foundation:

All of these studies struggle to disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat and admit that they can’t do it well enough to use their conclusions to accurately recommend people change their dietary habits….What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.

Fourth, don’t be fooled by slippery math.  I’m beginning to think of this kind of math exercise as “medical math.”  The study’s writers claim that their analysis showed that people who ate red meat–excuse me, who ate processed hot dogs, bacon, fast-food hamburgers, sodas, and french fries–had an increased risk of 16 percent risk of getting cancer.  Well, the study included 121,342 people, and 9464 people died from cancer.  That’s 8 % of the total.

Here’s more math.  That 16% is part of an unnamed total risk of cancer.  If that total risk is 8%, then you have to take 16% of the 8%, which increases the 8% by 1.28%, which makes the total 9.28%.  That’s a whole lot less that 16%.

Fifth, the study recommends eating more plant-based foods and other forms of protein.  Yet, plants are NOT nutrient dense.  And, they add in a lot of fiber and a lot of sugar (fruits, grains!) which we don’t handle well.  In short, we can’t digest cellulose.  We do not have the enzymes to process cellulose, and too much of it puts a lot of stress on our bodies.  As I’ve discussed in many of my essays now–see the essays on Gary Taubes’ WHY WE GET FAT, for instance–we can get every single nutrient we need, including all 8 essential fatty acids, from meat.  We could stop eating all carbohydrates and thrive.  That’s not junk science; that’s real science with MANY quantifiable test results behind it.

Are there micronutrients in vegetables and fruits that support health?  Probably.  Go slow with fruits, however.  They have a lot of sugar.  So, that’s why I really like the Paleo diet, as it mixes high-quality meat with veggies and fruits.  The Paleo diet drops grains, legumes (a poor source of protein and a problem to digest), and dairy.  I have access to high-quality raw dairy, and I do include it.  Do take a look at the Dr. Terry Wahls video posted earlier on this blog.

The suggested protein alternatives each have problems.  Fish is full of mercury in, increasingly, levels that are not healthy.  We’ve cut our fish consumption down considerably.  It’s now a real treat.  Commercial chicken, besides being utterly tasteless, is full of arsenic and has been fed a lot of GMO soy and corn.  We avoid commercial poultry and buy organic if we’re forced to buy commercial chicken.  We’re lucky here in Maine to have access to pastured chickens for meat.  But, if you find your local farmers and ask, you can probably find some free-range meat chickens.  As for nuts–give me a break.  Nuts are NOT protein dense.

Sixth, here’s another scientific fact for you:  only red meat contains sufficient quantities of vitamin B12 in forms your body can use.  If you lack B12, or no longer can process it from your foods, you’ll get dementia.

So, I agree with Rob Wolf, THE PALEO SOLUTION, about this kind of “science.”  It’s junk.  It’s a waste of time, money, and energy.  It has no core principles at its heart.  It’s why people are so confused about what to eat.

Shame on you, Frank Wu!!!

Damn junk food for the problem it is, yes.  But don’t participate in the correlation in place of causation problem.  And don’t lump grass-fed beef into this study and say so clearly.  Grass-fed red meat is totally different from commercial pink-slimed meat produced in CAFO lots.  Don’t confuse people like this.

And, shame on NPR for even reporting on this story.  It amounts to advertising “facts” that anything but.

Written by louisaenright

March 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Interesting Information: Bacterium Resistance to Antibiotics in Meat

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Interesting Information:  August 14, 2013

Bacterium Resistance to Antibiotics in Meat

I don’t buy meat in supermarkets.

It’s too dangerous these days.

And I quit buying ground turkey or chicken when I noticed some years back that the packages had been flavor “enhanced” with commercial products.  That’s a red flag for me that something is definitely wrong.

Here’s a little article that appeared in the Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener newsletter (June-August 2013, page 10).

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, an FDA, USDA and CDC program, found that more than half the 480 samples each of ground turkey, pork chops and ground beef collected from supermarkets in 2011 tested positive for a bacterium resistant to antibiotics.  The USDA says almost 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture.  (“Report on U.S. Meat Sounds Alarm on resistant Bacteria,” by Stephanie Strom, The New York Times, April 16, 2013; www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/business/report-on-us-meat-sounds-alarm-on-superbugs.html?_r=0).

The answer to this dilemma is NOT to quit eating meat in favor of a plant-based diet.  I’m hoping that I’m showing that plants come with pretty strong chemical packages that need to be mediated (and isn’t by most folks) and that plants are not nutrient dense.  AND, that appropriately raised meat is part of a holistic circuit on a farm and is good for us in that it contains all of the essential amino acids in the correct proportions that our body can use.  A good diet blends the foods available to us and, hopefully, we eat these foods in their established seasons.

Resistance to antibiotics is a very serious condition.  It means that we don’t have anything to stop the superbugs that we have created with our dirty meat farming practices.

I am encouraged with all the work being done on gut integrity–and the realization that wiping out all our gut flora and fauna with antibiotics creates even more serious illnesses–which occur in a cyclical way if antibiotic use is not curtailed.

It’s time to fall back on building strong immune systems folks…

As for meat–go out into the country surrounding your cities or suburbs and find some farmers who will raise clean, hopefully soy-free meat for you.  In the end, this practice is cheaper as illness is very expensive.

Written by louisaenright

August 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Tipping Points 10: Meat Chickens

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Tipping Points 10

June 9, 2010


Meat Chickens

 I am helping raise fifty pastured meat chickens with Pete and Rose Thomas of the Vegetable Shed on Route 173 in Lincolnville.  I am mostly a bystander at this stage.  I paid for our twenty chicks when they arrived, am paying for half of the feed as Pete and Rose are doing all the work, paid for half of some of the start-up equipment, and go admire how healthy and beautiful the chickens are about once a week.  I will help slaughter them later this month.

We got twenty pastured chickens in a Community Shared Agriculture arrangement last fall, and we would have done so again.  But, as Pete and Rose helped us acquire and manage our layers, it emerged that they wanted to raise some Silver Cross meat chickens.  They agreed to let us be partners, and we’re all learning a lot as we go along.

After watching the movie JULIE AND JULIA, where Julie Powell cooks all 536 recipes in Volume One of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (1961) in one year and blogs about the experience, I pulled out my Volume One—nearly 50 years old now and one of the cookbooks I brought with me when we culled books and moved to Maine.  I made the master leek and potato soup recipe.  Delicious!  Next, as I’ve never been a strong baker, I challenged myself with the cake section.  I was amazed at how many eggs and how little flour and sugar the French one-layer cakes contained.  And, real butter cream icing is velvet on the tongue; has an intense, satisfying flavor; and is smooth all the way down.  Yummo!

Then, I discovered the DVD set of eighteen of the early Julia Child television shows, made throughout the 1960s.  One of these shows is “How To Roast A Chicken.”  Julia lines up six chickens to compare their sizes and purposes:  a broiler, a fryer, a roaster, a capon (castrated rooster), a stewing fowl, and an “old lady” hen fit only for soup.  The broiler Julia shows weighs 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds and is 2 to 3 months old.  The roasting chicken is 4 to 7 pounds and is 5 ½ to 9 months old.

Nowadays, we are raising 4 to 5-pound Cornish Cross chickens in six or seven weeks.

And, they are tasteless.  In her memoir MY LIFE IN FRANCE, Julia sums up the problem she encounters in 1955 when she begins to experiment with chicken cookery:  “The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear” (213).

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (NCAT), beginning in the 1950s, industry worked to develop a chicken that was meatier, was broad-breasted, grew rapidly, converted feed efficiently, had limited feathering which minimized plucking, and which had “other traits considered desirable for rearing very large numbers of birds in confinement.”  Uniformity dictates this model.  If all the birds are the same size, processing equipment can be designed for maximum technical efficiency (http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/poultry_genetics.html).

In April 2009, Harvey Ussery, in “Backyard Poultry Magazine,” noted that the development of the Cornish Cross has “pushed muscle tissue growth to extremes, at the expense of balanced growth of all other systems—resulting in failed tendons and crippled legs, compromised immune systems, heart failure, and other problems.”  This chicken is given antibiotics and arsenic to “force still faster growth.”  And, since they are raised in “filthy, high-stress conditions,” antibiotics are required from “day one to slaughter” (“Sunday Dinner Chicken:  Alternatives to the Cornish Cross,” Apr/May 2009, “Backyard Poultry Magazine,” www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Cornish+Cross+Alternatives.html.).

Ussery vowed never again to “coddle such a compromised bird” when he lost twenty-two in two hours during a temperature spike.  The distressed birds, wrote Ussery, were at slaughter weight.  And, they “sat…in the shade of their pasture shelter, panting desperately, and died—rather than walk six feet for a drink of water outside the shelter.”  Meanwhile, his group of “young New Hampshires, the same age as the Cornish Cross to the day, [were] scooting about the pasture like little waterbugs, crossing their entire electronetted area when they needed a drink of water.”

Steve Hode of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, who raises chickens in Windsor, Maine, says the flesh of the Cornish Cross chickens is so soft that it dissolves in your mouth without much chewing.  Further, Hode noted, the bones of these chickens, because they grow so fast, never develop the density that makes for mineral-rich bone broths.

The efficient feed conversion factor means that meat chickens are fed, as are industrial layers, 90 percent corn and 10 percent soy.  Feeds, even organic feeds, contain the synthetic protein methionine and an array of chemicals and waste-product oils.  Changing to 70 percent corn and 30 percent soy solves the protein problem, but affects production costs as less carbohydrate (corn) means a longer growth time, more money for additional feed, and more manure (“There’s a synthetic in my organic chicken,” Rodale Institute, 1 April 2005, http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/columns/org_news/2005/0405/methionine.shtml).  A 70/30 mixture does not solve the problem of making omnivore chickens vegetarians, which affects the omega 3 to 6 ratio of the meat.

According to the Lion’s Grip web site, what chickens prefer to eat is much more diverse.  Too see this list is to understand how blighted a diet of 90 percent corn, 10 percent soy, and a bunch of chemicals is.  Chickens need ample grass and living plants, especially clover; subterranean flora and fauna; insects; and protein that raises the omega 3 content of flesh and eggs so that it is equal to the omega 6 content, like fish, meat, milk worms, and nuts.  A grain supplement should only be given free choice and should be based on a mixture of five or more grains.  Legumes should be offered with grain to balance grain proteins.  Salt should come from free-choice kelp, and calcium from oyster shells or grass-fed bone.  Oils, like the highly processed, already rancid waste products from industry, should never be added to chicken feed   (www.lionsgrip.com/chickensidealfeed.html).

We are feeding our chickens commercial organic feed, as we have not yet worked out how else to feed a large flock of organic chickens outside what the so-called free market has standardized.  We do not like giving the chickens soy, synthetic chemicals, and waste products from industry.  But we have not yet located local grain mixtures and protein sources that are economically feasible and not too time consuming to organize.

Four major transnational companies supply 80 to 90 percent of the chicks to the worldwide commercial meat chicken industry, some in the form of hatching eggs sold to independent hatcheries.  Alternatives to the Cornish Crosses are limited, but some of these companies are now offering a slower growing Cornish Cross, like our Silver Crosses, which are slaughtered closer to their sexual maturity.  And, and at least one of these companies, Hubbard, a French company, is offering a chicken sold under the Red Label system in France that is most commonly known here as a Freedom Ranger.  This chicken, apparently, takes twelve weeks to grow, forages pasture well, and is loaded with flavor.

Our Silver Cross chickens come from Henry Noll in Pennsylvania.   While still a Cornish Cross, they are slower growing and will take at least 9 weeks to grow to 5 pounds.  Crossed with a Barred Rock, they are a beautiful silver grey with barred feathers and red combs.  Pete and Rose, who ate one last fall, say they definitely taste better than the flavor-challenged standard Cornish Cross.

Our chickens are very lively and have huge yellow feet and legs.  You can tell which ones are roosters now, and they are, suddenly, looking quite heavy.  However, all of them eat like piranhas.  It’s eerie to watch them eat.  And they are eating us out of house and home.  They will eat the grass and clover in their large, movable pen only if grain is withheld.

So, for fall and the future, we are looking to the Freedom Ranger chicken.  Ussery describes the meat as being “incomparably better.”  And NCAT says the “meat is flavorful and firm, but not tough.”  Freedom Rangers are also good layers.

Do not ask us to sell our meat chickens to you.  We cannot.  The food Nazis at the Quality Assurance and Regulation Division of the Maine Department of Agriculture, in the name of food safety and without any evidence of problems, will likely be successful in revoking the 1,000-bird poultry exemption for small farmers.  Now, any farmer who wants to sell even one chicken must build his/her own, very expensive processing facility, which would only be used a few weeks a  year.  Additionally, equipment may not be shared between farmers.

Here’s exactly how government helps the big and uniform get bigger and more uniform.  Here’s how small, local, and diverse gets driven out of the market.  Here’s how tasteless chickens are created.

Interesting Information: AARP BULLETIN: 10 Medical Tests to Avoid–Choosing Wisely Campaign

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Interesting Information:  March 17, 2014

AARP BULLETIN:  10 Medical Tests to Avoid

Choosing Wisely

I remember a time when one went to the doctor only when one was sick.

Imagine that…

Then came the days when doctors went on the hunt for disease–under the paradigm of finding illness before it got cranking.  In the process, a whole host of yearly tests became part of the annual physical.

Imagine my surprise when the AARP BULLETIN came floating in this weekend with a front-page feature on “10 Tests to Avoid” by Elizabeth Agnvall.

Here’s how the first paragraph reads:

Doctors are warning that some of the common medical tests routinely taken by Americans do more harm than good, waste billions of health care dollars annually [$225 billion] and could endanger your health or even your life.  Among the tests targeted as overused by prestigious panels of doctors were annual Pap smears, regular PSA tests, regular EKGs and even routine yearly physicals.  Overuse of such tests leads to dangerous side effects, pain, radiation exposure, unnecessary surgery–even death, the doctors said.

This campaign is called Choosing Wisely and is joined by a diverse number of partners exploring the overuse of these yearly tests.  Among them are The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, many individual doctors from diverse medical specialties, AARP, and the medical director at Consumer Reports (John Santa, MD).

Here’s the list:

1.    Nuclear stress tests, and other imaging tests, after heart procedures.

2.    Yearly electrocardiogram or exercise stress test

3.    PSA to screen for prostate cancer

4.    PET scan to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.

5.    X-ray, CT scan or MRI for lower back pain

6.    Yearly Pap tests

7.    Bone density scan for women before age 65 and men before age 70

8.    Follow-up ultrasounds for small ovarian cysts

9.    Colonoscopy after age 75

10.  Yearly physical

To read more information about each test, here’s the url to the article:


WARNING:  the article also recommends eating “plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains for fiber,” cutting down on fatty foods, red meat, and processed meats.  My reading warns against eating too many fruits as our modern fruits carry heavy sugar loads and fructose is increasingly being seen as a problem.  Sugar causes inflammation in your body and is likely the root cause of chronic disease.  The vegetables and meat in your diet supply plenty of fiber–grains add too much and can cause constipation and are a source of too much sugar.  Fatty animal fats from animals raised properly are GOOD FOR YOU.  Red meat (grass-fed, organic) is the only place you get vitamin b12 in a form your body can easily use–there’s no science behind the anti-red meat campaign.  Commercial processed meats are often carriers of pathogens.  Fermented, traditionally made “processed” meats (like salami, proscuitto, for instance) are good for you.

Interesting Information: Mammograms: Yes or No?

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Interesting Information:  May 25, 2013

Mammograms:  Yes or No?

I don’t get mammograms any more.

I’m more afraid of the danger the smashing of my breasts and the x-rays pose for my body than I am of the fear-mongering that might make me want to get a mammogram.

It’s not that I’m not afraid of getting cancer.  It’s that I don’t think mammograms are useful for either detecting or dealing with breast cancer.

And that’s because for the past five years, I’ve been seeing a lot of information that questions this whole practice.

For instance, the authors of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2012; 367:1998-2005) conclude that “nearly one-third of the women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer would never have developed the full-blown disease if left untreated.”  Apparently cancers come and go in our bodies all the time and may be connected to how our bodies deal with and cure illness.

Here’s a further synopsis of this study, taken from The Weston A. Price Foundation’s journal, Wise Traditions (winter 2012, pg. 14)–all of which is available for free online:

Nevertheless, in such cases [seeing possible cancer] patients typically undergo dangerous and invasive procedures such as surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy.  H. Gilbert Welch, author of the study, speculated that as mammography technology has become more advanced, doctors are discovering breast lesions in such an early stage of development, it is virtually impossible to distinguish them from the benign cell clusters.  Even worse than the false positives is the fact that the mammograms “fail to catch forms of breast cancer that develop rapidly, explaining why the more widespread use of screenings has done so little to curb the rate at which late-stage breast cancer is found.”  According to Welch, “The sad fact is that there’s a subset of women who develop such an aggressive form of cancer it literally can’t be caught early.”  No one is voicing the thought that the mammograms themselves  may be causing these virulent tumors.

In other words, as I’ve read in numerous places elsewhere, mammograms don’t statistically affect the outcome of bona-fide breast cancer.

The same is apparently true for prostate cancer testing.  All the terrible, stressful  procedures don’t affect the outcome of the disease.  John and I often thought that we wished we had never known about the disease, that we had just lived our lives in bliss until some part of the disease made itself felt in a way that we sought out pain relief.

And doctors are still pushing failed dietary practices that cause diabetes (low fat, high carb, no red meat), are concerned with “high” cholesterol figures when that whole line of thought has been debunked, are still suggesting statins for treatment of a non-disease, are still pushing vaccines without adequate science to support them, will give antibiotics that wipe out all your gut flora and fauna at the drop of the hat, etc., etc., etc.  No wonder they have lost, at least, my confidence.

Truth in writing:  I come from a family of doctors and nurses.  They are all good, caring people.  I know a lot of doctors who are good caring people and who were wonderful to us when John was sick.  They are good people caught in a bad system.  Some of them are more willing to buck the system than others.  And am I glad they are there if I’m in a car wreck?  You betcha.  But for ongoing health care–I’ve taken to saying “stay away from them; they will kill you if you let them.”

Let’s call modern medicine what it really is:  an industry.

What I would like to see is a change in the medical paradigm where the focus is on treating disease from a holistic paradigm, not just treating symptoms, which usually means drugs, surgery, radiation, hormones, and chemotherapy.  These protocols are not working well, if at all.

For instance, the MONTH of radiation John had turned out not to have been needed at all (a suspicious spot on an x-ray was not suspicious after all).  Not surprisingly, his PSA began to rise radically.  My own take is that the month of radiation significantly weakened his body, which made him sicker.  The next treatment up in the standards of care was hormone therapy.  But hormones degrade the bones, so guess what?  The cancer showed up  in John’s bones next.  The oncologist also wanted to do chemotherapy, in spite of the fact that statistics clearly showed it would not prolong life.  The best she could do was to say that “it might make you feel better.”  Really?  Flooding your body with a terrible poison every three weeks might make you fell better?  And bless her heart, for she was a caring person and wanted to help, she offered the hope card:  miracles happen, why not you?  And the treatment for degraded bones?  A drug that basically turns bones into cement, which makes them brittle, and which has horrific side effects.  We stopped the cancer ride at the hormone therapy stop.  But how many desperate people don’t stop?

We do not have another mainstream paradigm than these failed standards of care–crafted by Big Pharma and not science.  And doctors who stray from the “standards of care” are penalized or lose their licenses.  That’s how industry works.  Industry does not care about science; it cares about money.  Practitioners within it are, simply, workers.  All freedom has been lost for them.

AND, the amount of $$$$ involved in treating symptoms is, simply, mind boggling, so the industries involved will fight change tooth and toenail.  The only component that can create change is the grassroots understanding of the problem and a consequent refusal to participate in practices that cause harm and do not work.  We have to take the $$$$ out of the mix.  Do you have any idea what a month of useless radiation costs?

Healing disease is going to have to involve cleaning up what’s causing disease (bad food and a degraded habitat).   The notion that we can degrade the world and create a technological fix to the disease that occurs has to be understood as a nonstarter.

Cancer will strike 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 2 men.  (Or it’s the other way around.)

Contrary to hype, most will not survive to live out their lives.  Five years is not “survival.”

Cancer is a plague.

Isn’t it time for us to insist on cleaning up the mess we have made?

If not for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren.







Written by louisaenright

May 25, 2013 at 11:43 am

Interesting Information: Fat-Soluble Vitamins Need FAT

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Interesting Information:  May 23, 2013

Fat-Soluble Vitamins Need FAT

Yep!  They need the right kind of FAT to activate best in your body–and that’s a fat low in polyunsaturated fatty acids–which includes most vegetable oils.

You can supplement all you want–with food, with supplements–but if you don’t have enough good dietary FAT, the fat-soluble vitamins don’t go to work.

Chris Masterjohn is the young scientist that The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is helping to develop.  He has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois, studying the interactions between vitamins A, D, and K.  His blog is “The Daily Lipid,” which is supported under the Cholesterol-And-Health.com web site.   So you can see he is following in the footsteps of Dr. Mary Enig, who is an internationally recognized expert on fats and the human body.

Masterjohn is a frequent (and welcome) contributor to WISE TRADITIONS, the quarterly journal of the WAPF.  THe winter 2012 issue has an important Masterjohn article:  “Nutritional Adjuncts to the Fat-Soluble Vitamins,” found at http://www.westonaprice.org/fat-soluble-activators/nutritional-adjuncts-to-the-fat-soluble-vitamins.

This article is important because it illustrates that the current scientific paradigm of studying components of foods in isolation leads us to making really bad decisions.  An illustration would be the recent uproar about one component in red meat studied in isolation.  The result:  red meat might be dangerous to eat.  BUT, BUT, BUT, that component never exists in isolation in red meat.  It operates alongside all the other components, or synergistically.  And, red meat is the ONLY place we get vitamin B12 IN A FORM where our body can use it.  (Aren’t you wondering after all these years of folks trying to demonize red meat WHY?  First it was the fat.  Now it’s an isolated component.  Who is paying for this research anyway?  Where are we dealing with a belief system and where is good science?)

We need a new paradigm.  We need to study how components operate SYNERGISTICALLY , or how they react with each other and need each other to give us the best of what they have to offer.  Masterjohn traces the history of how science tried to understand how the fat-soluble vitamins work by isolating each one.  As a result, researchers did not get to an understanding of the truth of these vitamins.  The result was that people were told they needed more vitamin A.  No, it’s really vitamin D.  And vitamin K only works to help coagulate blood.  The role of vitamin K2 was dismissed entirely as it appears in very small quantities.  (Bigger is not always better.)

Masterjohn writes that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 “interact synergistically to support immune health, provide for adequate growth, support strong bones and teeth, and protect soft tissues from calcification.”

And, said another way:   “We now know that vitamins A and D also cooperate together to regulate the production of certain vitamin K-dependent proteins.  Once vitamin K activates these proteins, they help mineralize bones and teeth, support adequate growth, and protect arteries and other soft tissues from abnormal calcification, and protect against cell death.”

BUT, the synergism is bigger than just these three vitamins:

Magnesiumn is “required for the production of all proteins, including those that interact with vitamins A and D.

Vitamins A and D “support the absorption of zinc and zinc supports the absorption of all the fat-soluble vitamins.”

Many of the proteins involved in vitamin A metabolism and the receptors for both vitamins A and D only function correctly in the presence of zinc.

Dietary fat is necessary for the absorption off at-soluble vitamins.

Nature provided these ingredients for us in nutrient-dense foods.  Trying to obtain them through supplements can drastically throw off how they interact with each other–which means trouble in the body.

Masterjohn argues that we need to eat the right kinds of fat to access the crucially important fat-soluble vitamins:

Human studies show that both the amount and type of fat are important.  For example, one study showed that absorption of beta-carotene from a salad with no added fat was close to zero.  The addition of a lowfat dressing made from canola oil increased absorption, but a high-fat dressing was much more effective.  Canola oil, however, is far from ideal.  Studies in rats show that absorption of carotenoids is much higher with olive oil than with corn oil.

Similarly, studies in humans show that consuming beta-carotene with beef tallow rather than sunflower oil increases the amount we absorb from 11 to 17 percent.

Why is the animal fat a better fat in terms of absorption?  Masterjohn poses that the lower the fats are in polyunsaturated fatty acids, the better they work inside our bodies.  He poses that polyunsaturated fatty acids likely promote the oxidative destruction of fat-soluble vitamins in the intestines before we are able to absorb them.”

Nutrient-dense foods derive from animals:  meat, milk, eggs, REAL cod-liver oil (not the pasteurized kind with vitamins added back), etc.  Yes, plants are important sources of useful components, but our bodies work best with nutrient-dense foods.

Mainely Tipping Points 44: THE WHOLE SOY STORY

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Mainely Tipping Points 44:  December 7, 2012



Just the other day I stood in front of a store cooler with $40 worth of a premiere brand of bratwurst sausages in my hand.  How delicious they would be for dinner grilled and served alongside applesauce, pan-sautéed cabbage, corn bread, and assorted pickles and mustards.  Almost absentmindedly, I glanced at the ingredients on the label and was startled to see soy protein isolate.  I put the sausages back into the cooler for two reasons:  I don’t think our food should be padded with soy “meat extenders” so industry can make more money, and I don’t think commercial soy is at all safe to eat, especially the highly processed forms like soy protein isolate. 

The person I rely on for soy information is Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, the author of THE WHOLE SOY STORY:  THE DARK SIDE OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE HEALTH FOOD (2005).  Daniel is known as the “naughty nutritionist” because with outrageous humor she specializes in debunking food myths, like the myths surrounding commercial soy.  And, Daniel comes with the kinds of credentials and training which allow her to understand the value of what she is researching, like why some studies have good designs and are executed properly and why others are corrupt, in that they have been designed and paid for by industry to make commercial soy appear to be safe and, even, healthy, when it is not. 

If you are totally confused by the alphabet soup that follows many names in the nutrition field, take a look at Daniels article “What Should I Do to Be a Nutritionist?   Making Sense of All Those Confusing Degrees and Credentials,” published in the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) journal, “Wise Traditions,” Fall 2009, http://www.westonaprice.org/health-issues/what-should-i-do-to-be-a-nutritionist.  Daniels walks the reader through what kind of nutritional programs are available and what their strengths and pitfalls are.  She explains what kinds of organizations certify people with dietary and nutritional training, which lets them begin to use the coveted initials behind their names. 

You’ll find, too, that this terrain is a minefield of disingenuous claims.  For instance, , anyone can claim to be a nutritionist, so the alphabet soup tells everyone what kind of training and testing has been involved.   And, Daniels notes that Mary Enig, PhD, MACN, “is fond of saying [that] `Dietitians are trained to dispense processed food.’ (That MACN behind Enig’s name is the coveted Master of the American College of Nutrition, “a prestigious category for those who have made outstanding contributions over an extended period of time to the field of nutrition.”)  

Daniels herself studied under the legendary H. Ira Fritz, PhD, CNS, FACN.  The CNS stands for Certified Nutritional Specialist, and the FACN designates that Fritz is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition.  The FACNs, explains Daniels, “hold doctoral degrees, [have] expertise as practitioners or educators and [have] a publication track record.”  (Dr. Enig’s MACN is a step above the FACN, which she also holds.) 

Dr. Fritz is now emeritus professor at both Union and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and was, in addition to Daniels, mentor to a number of “superstars” in the field of nutrition.  Daniels herself is a CNN, or Certified Clinical Nutritionist, which is a very respected credential.  And, she is a board member (Vice President) of the WAPF and regularly publishes articles in its journal “Wise Traditions,” where she also has a column on soy issues.  And, she blogs at the WAPF web site and on her own blog, http://liberationwellness.com.    

With the publication of THE WHOLE SOY STORY, Daniels acquired a national reputation.  She appeared on the Dr. Oz show, where that megalomaniac did not allow her to speak more than one sentence.  (Oz ended that segment by passing out stalks of soy to the audience, each fluttering with raw edamame pods.)  She appeared on the Oz show as counter to Dr. Mark Hyman, a pro soy advocate, who did not seem to know that soy milk and tofu are not fermented soy products, which are safer to eat.  Her in-depth response to Hyman in the Fall 2010 “Wise Traditions” is worth reading, in that it discusses in a short article many of the myths and dangers of eating untreated soy:  http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/response-to-dr-mark-hyman.  Daniels has been on ABC’s View From the Bay, NPR’s People’s Pharmacy, and will soon appear on PBS Healing Quest.  She was WAPF’s 2005 recipient of the Integrity in Science Award.

I am taking a lot of time setting up Daniel’s credentials because I hope this activity helps readers understand not only what I am looking for when navigating the maze of whom to believe when it comes to nutrition, but how readers, too, should discern the value of what they are reading.  We can no longer rely on studies from Harvard as being reliable just because they come from Harvard.  One has only to look at the recent study denouncing red meat done to see that Harvard nutrition scientists are perfectly capable of producing terrible, useless studies.  (See my blog, https://louisaenright.wordpress.com/?s=red+meat.).  Daniels has solid credentials, she works with people at the WAPF who also have solid credentials, and for THE WHOLE SOY STORY she looked at the history of soy, at all the major soy studies, at the major soy issues, and at the major soy industry proponents.

We are being besieged at the moment with the idea that we should all eat mostly a plant-based diet.  Vegetables and fruits are touted as being chock full of wonderful ingredients that will make us healthy.  What is being lost in this current moment of insanity is not only that plants are not nutrient dense, but that plants manage their lives chemically and that some of those chemicals are so potent that they can cause quite a bit of harm to humans.  Many of the plants that we eat everyday can, if overdone or eaten without being treated to reduce the chemical load, cause serious trouble.  And, it’s easy to over eat certain foods since they are now available all year round.  Take spinach, for instance. It’s loaded with oxalates, which can cause kidney stones if eaten in excess.  Or, the grains and legumes I wrote about in the  Mainely Tipping Points Essay series on the Paleolithic diet, essays 41, 42, and 43, which are loaded with antinutrients that must be treated to be safe to eat.  For more information in this vein, see Daniels; “Plants Bite Back,” “Wise Traditions,” Spring 2010, http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/plants-bite-back.  

Soy is a dangerous plant food without a long history of use as a food.  And we are feeding it to animals and fish we eat and whose eggs we eat.  We are dumping soy into processed and packaged foods, including things like canned tuna fish and, unlabeled, in the hamburger in your local grocery store.  We are loading it with sugars and drinking it, to include putting it into baby formula.  We are, in short, wallowing in soy.

Here are some quotes from the flyleaf of THE WHOLE SOY STORY:  “Soy is NOT a health food.  Soy is NOT the answer to world hunger.  Soy is NOT a panacea.  Soy has NOT even been proven safe.”

And, here’s a quote to help start off this series on soy, again from the flyleaf:  “Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive problems, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, immune system breakdown, even heart disease and cancer.   Most at risk are children given soy formula, vegetarians who eat soy as their main source of protein and adults self-medicating with soy foods and supplements.”   

Next:  how soy got into our food chain.        

Interesting Information: 10 Salt Myths

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Interesting Information:  June 4, 2012

Ten Salt  Myths

This past Sunday’s New York Times ran a long piece by Gary Taubes called “Salt, We Misjudged You” (Opinion, 8-9).  Taubes traces the history of how salt became demonized in the 1970s and 1980s–without adequate scientific data to justify such a stance.  It might seem like “common sense” to relate salt intake to high blood pressure problems since salt can make one thirsty.  But that HYPOTHESIS has not proven to be true–as I related in Mainely Tipping Points Essay 38, located on this blog.

Meanwhile, Taube notes, many prominent organizations are promoting a low-salt diet, among them the USDA, the Institute of Medicine, the CDC, and the NIH.  Their view is based on a 30-day trial of salt, the 2001 DASH-Sodium study.  That study suggested that lowering salt intake “modestly lowered blood pressure,” but it “said nothing about whether this would reduce hypertension, prevent heart disease or lengthen life.”  And, I would ask, how would one know if the salt reduction was a factor or if other foods eaten or not eaten were factors?

The recommendations from these large organizations is ignoring, deliberately, recent research showing that salt reduction is dangerous to human health.  Recent research using some 100,000 people in 30 countries showed that salt consumption has been, Taubes writes, “remarkably stable among populations over time.”  Four recent studies “reported that the people eating salt at the lower limit of normal were more likely to have heart disease than those eating smack in the middle of the normal range.”  This “normal range” is considerably higher than recent recommendations by the USDA in its food guide.

In November of last year, Taubes writes, both the USDA and the FDA held hearings to “discuss how to go about getting Americans to eat less salt (as opposed to whether or not we should eat less salt).  Proponents speaking against salt consumption argued that “the latest reports suggesting damage from lower-salt diets should simply be ignored.”

OK.  That’s not scientific.  That’s BELIEF SYSTEM, and I’ve said many times on this blog, uncritical BELIEF SYSTEMS are dangerous.  They can, like this one about salt, kill you.  Taubes says the following:

“This attitude that studies that go against prevailing beliefs should be ignored on the basis that, well, they go against prevailing beliefs, has been the norm for the anti-salt campaign for decades.”

Mortin Satin, PhD, Vice President, Science and Research, The Salt Institute, writing in the Spring 2012 Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, lists 10 myths about salt (http://www.westonaprice.org/vitamins-and-minerals/salt-and-our-health).  Some will surprise you.

Myth 1:  We eat more salt than ever before.  NOPE.  Our salt consumption today is about one half of the amount consumed between the War of 1812 and the end of World War II–which was about 3.3 teaspoons per day.  Increased refrigeration and not using salt as a preservative are factors.

Myth 2:  Our knowledge of the major sources of salt in our diet (80% from processed foods) is unquestionable.  NOPE.  This notion is based on a single paper from 1991 which involved 62 people and dietary recall–which is not reliable.  (It’s amazing to me how often dietary recall is being used in studies  The most recent I can recall is that study saying red meat was bad for you.)

Myth 3:  Our salt consumption continues to rise every year.  NOPE.  See Myth 1.

Myth 4:  The thirty-year public health initiative in Finland represents a successful model of salt reduction.  NOPE.  Health benefits were marginally worse than countries that did not reduce salt consumption.

Myth 5:  Current levels of salt consumption result in premature cardiovascular disease and death.  NOPE.  Data shows that the higher the salt consumption, the longer the life expectancy.  (Mainely Tipping Points 38 discusses the connections between cutting salt consumption and heart problems.)

Myth 6:  Cutting back on salt will improve the overall diet.  NOPE.  Salt enhances foods that would be bitter without it, like the all-important greens.  (Somewhere else I read that salt helps you break down and digest meats.)

Myth 7:  Reduced salt levels are critical to the DASH diet.  NOPE.  Data shows moving to a DASH diet significantly impacts blood pressure without any changes in salt consumption.  (I am NOT a fan of the DASH diet–too many carbohydrates and fructose.  It’s useful if you’ve been eating junk food, but I believe the GAPS diet and the Paleo diet are better choices.)

Myth 8: There is a clear relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.  NOPE.  There, famously, is not a clear relationship.  Satin gives a really good example using the standard hospital saline IV drip, which gives about 4.5 teaspoons of salt per day in addition to the teaspoon of salt taken in food.  Blood pressure, checked every 4 to 6 hours, does not change.

Myth 9:  Reducing salt intake can do no harm.   NOPE.  It can seriously harm you, and Satin gives a long list of worrisome outcomes.  Mainely Tipping Points 38 does as well.

Myth 10:  The U.S. Dietary Guideline process is valid.  NOPE.  Satin notes that these guidelines have not been peer-reviewed and are based on the lowest quality of information–opinion.  Or, in my terms, on BELIEF SYSTEM.  These guidelines are not independent or objective, according to Satin, who walks through why.   I would say that the USDA guidelines about so many food issues–among them consumption of salt, saturated fat, meat, the amount of carbohydrates deemed ok, and so many of the issues I’ve been covering in my essays–are now so far off track that it’s far, far better to totally ignore them.

Let your body decide your salt intake.  But, use GOOD salts–as discussed in Mainely Tipping Points 38.  They include real salt dried from seawater–not the fake salts in the grocery store.  Real salt is full of minerals.

Written by louisaenright

June 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Turkey Tracks: Vitamin B12 and My Favorite Dinner

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Turkey Tracks:  August 25, 2011

Vitamin B12 and My Favorite Dinner

Without a doubt, this dinner is my favorite:  Grilled STEAK, fresh corn on the cob, a big salad, and a piece of dark chocolate with caramel crunch and sea salt.

I am my father’s daughter.

Only, my father took many drugs for allergies and asthma.  Also, he had a sweet tooth, which did not help with his gut flora and fauna.  He probably had an overgrowth of yeasts in this gut.  And, as he aged, he, like many, started having trouble with stomach acid–so he couldn’t digest his food well.  I remember him going around with Tums all the time.  BUT, the problem more often is LOW stomach acid, not the reverse.  (Keep hydrochloric acid–HCL–with pepsin on hand for when you have stomach rumbles and acid reflux.)  And when that happens, the body struggles to process food.  The gut becomes damaged, so one starts experiencing malabsorption, which leads to malnutrition.  My mother used to say “I feed him really well, and he eats, but he’s just getting thinner and thinner.”

Here’s a quote from “Could It Be Vitamin B12?,” by Sally M. Pacholok and Jeffrey J. Stuart, in the Sept/Oct issue of WELL BEING JOURNAL, pages 16-20:

“A far more common cause of B12 deficiency, especially in people over fifty, is a condition called atrophic gastritis, an inflammation and deterioration of the stomach lining.  Atrophic gastritis reduces the secretion of the stomach acid that is needed to separate vitamin B12 from protein–a problem often made worse by proton-pump inhibitors and antacids or other medications.  In addition, older people have smaller numbers of the cells that produce intrinsic factor” (18).  (Intrinsic factor is a protein produced in the stomach that is necessary to process B12.)

My dad started getting vitamin B shots, but the body can’t utilize B12 if other ingredients, like intrinsic factor,  are not also in place.  It’s a really complicated and delicate balance.  A lack of vitamin B12, in particular, causes dementia, which slipped up on my dad gradually.  He died not knowing who we were or who he was.

A really strong source of B12 is red meat.  Liver has especially high levels.  But you can also get some from poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.  Bi-valves apparently have high levels of B12 (clams, mussels, oysters).  B12 is  produced in the guts of animals, so you cannot get it from plants.  If you want to read more, here’s an article from the Weston A. Price Foundation web site on B12:    http://www.westonaprice.org/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b12.

So, the corn on my plate came from Hope’s Edge CSA.  It’s such a treat when it comes in every year.  And, doesn’t it look pretty this year?  The lettuce, cukes, broccoli, onions, and beans came from our garden.  (I often put leftover veggies on the next day’s salad.)  Our lettuce, as the summer has been cool, has just lasted and lasted.  The carrots, beets, and tomatoes came from Hope’s Edge.  The salad dressing is homemade–good olive oil, some mustard, some fresh garlic, some fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar.  The iced drink is Kombucha, a fermented fruity tea drink which is great to sip before eating as it starts activating digestive juices.  The chocolate is Fair Trade.  And the milk is, of course, REAL.

It was a perfect summer meal!


In a small bowl, crush a clove of garlic with a fork.  If you add some salt, you can get a kind of paste while you mash.  Add herbs and pepper.  Add a tablespoon of Dijon-type mustard, add 2-3Tablespoons of red-wine vinegar.  Mix well.  Drizzle in olive oil while stirring with the fork–it will take about 3/4 cup for taste, and it will blend with the other ingredients so that it thickens.  You could add a raw egg for a richer version.  You can also just dump everything into a small jar (1 cup or more) and shake really well.

Written by louisaenright

August 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm