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Mainely Tipping Points 44: THE WHOLE SOY STORY

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Mainely Tipping Points 44:  December 7, 2012

Part I:  THE WHOLE SOY STORY

 

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.        

Mainely Tipping Points Essay 43: Part III: Paleo Diet: What’s Wrong With Legumes?

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Mainely Tipping Points Essay 43:  November 16, 2012

Paleo Diet, Part III:  What’s Wrong With Legumes?

 

To recap from Parts I and II, Paleo Diet advocates argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy and were superbly healthy.

 But, what’s wrong with beans and peanuts, also known as legumes?

 Rob Wolf, in “The Paleo Solution,” puts it simply:  “dairy and legumes have problems similar to grains:  gut irritating proteins, antinutrients…protease inhibitors, and inflammation.”  Antinutrients, like phytates, bind to metal ions, like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper, which make them unavailable for absorption by our bodies.  Protease inhibitors prevent the breakdown of proteins which means your body cannot “effectively digest the protein in your meal” (98-99, 93).  In other words, antinutrients and protease inhibitors cause malabsorption and disease.    

 

Nora T. Gedgaudas, C.N.S., C.N.T., in “Grains:  Are They Really a Health Food?:  Adverse Effects of Gluten Grains” (“Well Being Journal,” May/June 2012), notes that “legumes typically contain 60 percent starch and only relatively small amounts of incomplete protein, and they also contain potent protease inhibitors, which can damage one’s ability to properly digest and use dietary protein and can also potentially damage the pancreas over time, when one is overly dependent on them as a source of calories.”  (Gedgaudas’ web site is http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com.) 

 William Davis, MD, in “Wheat Belly,” notes that the carbohydrate in legumes contains amylopectin C, which is the least digestible of the amylopectins—which leads to the chant “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat ‘em, the more you…”.  Yet, the reality of the indigestible matter is not so funny:  “undigested amylopectin makes its way to the colon, whereupon the symbiotic bacteria happily dwelling there feast on the undigested starches and generate gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen, making the sugars unavailable for you to digest” (33).

 Davis goes on to note that amylopectin B is “the form found in bananas and potatoes and, while more digestible than bean amylopectin C, still resists digestion to some degree.  Remember that wheat has amylopectin A, which is the most digestible form of the amlopectins and, thus, can raise blood sugars more than eating a sugar-sweetened soda or a sugary candy bar.  The lesson here is that “not all complex carbohydrates are created equal….”   And Davis cautions that as the carbohydrate load of legumes “can be excessive if consumed in large quantities,” it’s best to limit servings to about a ½ cup size (33, 213). 

 Wolf is less compromising when it comes to combining plant-based foods, like beans and rice, to obtain essential amino acids—which we must eat as we cannot make them on our own.  The eight essential amino acids are “plentiful in animal sources and lacking to various degrees in plant sources.”  Wolf notes that “many agricultural societies found that certain combinations (like beans and rice) can prevent protein malnutrition.”  But, relying on the work of anthropologists who have compared them, Wolf notes that “most vegetarian societies…are less healthy than hunter-gathers and pastoralists.”  That’s because “plant sources of protein, even when combined to provide all the essential amino acids, are far too heavy in carbohydrate, irritate the gut, and steal vitamins and minerals from the body via anti-nutrients.”  Wolfs’ final assessment:  “Beans and rice, nuts and seeds, are what I call “Third World proteins.’  They will keep you alive, they will not allow you to thrive” (208-209).

 Wolf cautions that unless you are lean and healthy, don’t eat fruit.  He adds, further, that “there is no nutrient in fruit that is not available in veggies, and fruit may have too many carbs for you” (214)

 Dr.  Natasha Campbell-McBride expanded on the 1950s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) of Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas and created the “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) diet.  (That history is in my Mainely Tipping Points Essay 31 on my blog:  https://louisaenright.wordpress.com.)  Haas recognized the connections between diet and disease, especially in the debilitating digestive disorders, and put patients on a diet that eliminated dairy, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, like potatoes.  (Dairy is slowly added back after healing has started, beginning with cultured forms, like yogurt.  But, some patients are not able to tolerate dairy permanently.)  Haas’s SCD diet emphasized bone broths, meat stews that included animal fat, vegetables, and some fruits.  The results were, and are, amazing. 

 Dr. Campbell-McBride was one of many now, like Wolf and Davis, who made the further connection that too many starchy carbohydrates foment conditions in the gut that allow out-of-control yeasts to degrade the gut lining—which allows food particles to escape into the blood stream and trigger autoimmune reactions.  Campbell-McBride is one of the first to realize that these out-of-control yeast populations produce toxins that affect the brain and create problematic behavior.  Conditions like autism, for instance, might not really be autism, but effects of inappropriate diet and malfunctioning body systems. 

 Sally Fallon Morell and Mary G. Enig, Ph. D. of The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) hold a place in their 1999 “Nourishing Traditions,” for most legumes—if properly soaked and cooked so that phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are destroyed and difficult-to-digest complex sugars are made more digestible and if legumes are cooked and eaten with at least small amounts of animal protein and animal fat. 

 Morell and Enig write that soybeans, however, should only be eaten sparingly and only after fermentation into miso, tempeh, and natto because the chemical package in soy is so powerful and so dangerous (495-496).  A  commercial method has never been fully developed that renders soy completely safe.  But, more on soy in Mainely Tipping Points 44 .  (Note that tofu is not a fermented soy food.) 

 Morell and Enig are careful to caution that “vegetable protein alone cannot sustain healthy life because it does not contain enough of all of the amino acids that are essential.”  Indeed, “most all plants lack methionine, one of the essential amino acids” (495-496).  Further, both Morell and Enig have made clear repeatedly in the WAPF journal “Wise Traditions” that the current government support for plant-based diets is dangerous and unscientific.          

 In the end, what Paleo diet advocates are asking is why, in the first place eat foods with such high carbohydrate loads, inferior protein, and so many dangerous chemicals —especially when a diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds supplies nutrients in dense, safe, satisfying forms. 

 This Paleo question is especially good to contemplate if one is overweight and experiencing the attendant health issues that accompany that condition and are trying to make changes.  Or, if one has ongoing digestive disorders which really must be addressed. 

 

Mainely Tipping Points 42: What’s Wrong With Grains?

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Mainely Tipping Points 42:  May 9, 2012

Part II:  The Paleo Diet 

What’s Wrong With Grains?

 

Paleo Diet advocates argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy and were, as described in Part I of this series, superbly healthy.

What is it about grains that makes so many, varied researchers (see Part I) forbid us to consume grains or caution us to prepare them properly if we do?

First, we’re eating too many grains on a daily basis.  Luise Light, M.S., Ed.D, wrote WHAT TO EAT, in part, to make the case that Americans are eating way too many grains.  As detailed in Tipping Points 12, Light was hired by the USDA to produce the 1980 food guide.  Light’s team of scientists concurred that two (women/children) to three (men) daily servings of whole grains were optimal.  A serving is usually one piece of bread or one-half cup of grains.  When Light sent the new food guide to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture (a political appointee), it came back changed:   grain servings now numbered six to eleven.  Light was horrified, furious, and feared, especially, that the alteration would increase national risks of obesity and diabetes.    

William David, M.D., a preventive cardiologist who recently published WHEAT BELLY, a “New York Times” bestseller, describes how many feet grain products occupy in the average grocery store (pg. 13).  How much of your grocery store does the bread aisle, the cereal aisle, the pasta aisle, the cracker aisle, the cookie aisle, the chip aisle, the baking aisle, the wheat products in the fresh and frozen food cases, and the store bakery occupy?  How many servings of grains are you eating daily?

Secondly, grains are mostly carbohydrate.  Wheat, David writes, is “70 percent carbohydrate by weight, with protein and indigestible fiber each comprising 10 to 15 percent” and with a tiny bit of fat rounding out the package (32).  Today, a host of American nutritional “experts” promote eating whole-grain products as they are complex carbohydrates, unlike simple sugars. 

But, David writes that the carbohydrate in wheat is split between amylopectin A (75 percent) and amylose (25 percent).  Amylopectin A is “efficiently digested by amylase to glucose, while amylose is much less efficiently digested, some of it making its way to the colon undigested.”  Amylopectin A is the most digestible of the amylopectin forms found in plants, which means that wheat increases blood sugar more than other complex carbohydrates.  In effect, “eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.” (32).  Indeed, the glycemic index of whole grain bread (72) is higher than sucrose (59) or of a Mars bar (68) (pg. 32). 

Third, grains, like all plants, have developed powerful—and mostly underestimated– chemical properties in order to carry out their life agendas.  Rob Wolf, in THE PALEO SOLUTION, notes that if you eat a grain, “that’s it for the grain.”  But, grains don’t go down “without a fight” and  grains are “remarkably well equipped for chemical warfare” (88).

Wolf does a really good job of explaining the adverse impact on humans of the chemicals in grains—information that is both widely available and, for the most part, ignored.  This subject is complicated:  I can only try to summarize the highlights.  Hopefully, you will investigate more deeply, especially if you are having digestive problems, arthritis, diabetes, neurological problems, or infertility.     

All grains, writes Wolf, contain a variety of proteins, called lectins.  These proteins cause more damage when derived from the gluten-containing grains—wheat, rye, barley, and oats.  Lectins are “not broken down in the normal digestive process,” which leaves “large, intact proteins in the gut.”  Grains also contain protease inhibitors, which “further block the digestion of dangerous lectins “ (85-99).

Serious problems occur when undigested proteins “are transported intact through the intestinal lining.”  For one thing “these large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites,” so the body begins to create antibodies to attack them.  In addition, the undigested lectins damage the intestinal lining during passage, which allows “other proteins to enter the system,” and the body creates antibodies for them.  These antibodies can attach themselves to organs and, even, your brain.  Attachment causes a “wholesale immune response” that destroys the tissue of that organ (85-99).

When the intestinal wall is damaged, writes Wolf, the “chemical messenger, cholecystokinin (CCK) is not released—so the gall bladder and the pancreas malfunction, which results in nondigestion of the fats and proteins we have eaten.  Removing the gall bladder is the mainstream solution, but this procedure is akin to “killing the `canary in the coal mine.’ “  Wolf believes removing grains from the diet and allowing the gut to heal is a better solution.

Grains, notes Wolf, also contain antinutrients, like the phytates, which help prevent premature germination of the grain.  Phytic acid, in humans, binds to calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, which means your body can’t absorb these minerals.  Malabsorption is one reason ancient peoples who started settled agricultural lives “lost an average of six inches in height” (93-94). To partially mitigate the impact of phytic acid, the Weston A Price Foundation advocates grains be soaked, sprouted, or fermented.

Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT, in “Grains:  Are They Really a Health Food?:  Adverse Effects of Gluten Grains” (May/June 2012, “Well Being Journal”), notes that grains contain goitrogens, which are substances that inhibit the thyroid.  She also notes that “chronic carbohydrate consumption, in general, depletes serotonin stores and greatly depletes the B Vitamins required to convert amino acids into many needed neurotransmitters”—which may be a cause of today’s “rampant serotonin deficiencies, clinical depression, anxiety, and some forms of ADD/ADHD in our populations” (3). 

Fourth, grains are addictive.  Wolf says grains “contain molecules that fit into the opiate receptors in our brain….the same receptors that work with heroine, morphine, and Vicodin” (96).  Gedgaudas says the morphine-like compounds in gluten-containing grains, called exorphins, are “quite addictive” and leave “many in frank denial of the havoc that gluten can wreak” (5).  She calls gluten a “cereal killer” (4).  Davis agrees and writes that grains can produce the same vicious circle of addiction and withdrawal that crack cocaine does (44-45).   

Fifth, and maybe the most important reason of all, as Davis explains in WHEAT BELLY, is how since the 1950s the wheat that humans have eaten for the past several centuries has been radically changed by industry to increase yield and to allow patents.  These changes have introduced gene changes that “are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of genes apart” from the pre-1950s wheat (22).  Wheat now contains a new “protein/enzyme smorgasbord” that has never been tested on humans (22). 

Davis warns that if you eliminate wheat for several weeks and try to eat it again, you will likely have extreme reactions.  In his clinical practice, however, eliminating wheat has consistently produced weight loss, the loss of the dangerous “wheat belly,” and the cessation of many chronic conditions. 

In Tipping Points 32, I discussed Konstantin Monastyrsky’s 2008 book, FIBER MENACE:  THE TRUTH ABOUT FIBER’S ROLE IN DIET FAILURE, CONSTIPATION, HEMORRHOIDS, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, ULCERATIVE COLITIS, CHROHN’S DISEASE, AND COLON CANCER.  Monastyrsky believes one should eliminate grains gradually as the body has to adjust, which is what I am doing—though I am having severe reactions when I eat wheat these days.  Swedish Bitters, a tonic made from greens, helps with any constipation that ensues with the cessation of eating a lot of grain fiber.       

 

Mainely Tipping Points 41: Part I, The Paleo Diet

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Mainely Tipping Points 41

The Paleo Diet, Part I

 

Loren Cordain, THE PALEO DIET COOKBOOK, is a professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department at Colorado State University.   Cordain focuses on the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health, and well being in modern humans.  Cordain is generally acknowledged to be the world’s leading expert on the Paleolithic diet.  He has analyzed 229 hunter-gatherer societies and published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. 

 Robb Wolf, THE PALEO SOLUTION:  THE ORIGINAL HUMAN DIET, is Cordain’s student.  Wolf is a former research biochemist who now co-owns the NorCal Strength & Conditioning gym, ranked by Men’s Health as one of the top 30 gyms in America.  Wolf explains why grains are so hard for humans to digest and how they foster a “leaky gut” condition which, in turn, leads to an array of chronic diseases, including neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

 

 Dr. Terry Wahls, MINDING MY MITOCHONDRIA:  HOW I OVERCAME SECONDARY PROGRESSIVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) AND GOT OUT OF MY WHEELCHAIR, is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine.  In 2003 she was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and soon became wheel-chair bound.  When mainstream medicine could not slow her disease, she started to research how nutrition could help the mitochondria in her brain.  Within eight months of starting a hunter-gatherer diet, she could walk again with a cane.  Today, she rides her bike, rides horses, and lectures worldwide on what she has learned.  Take a look at her short, informative lecture at a November 2011 TED (The Technology Entertainment and Design) conference, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Those promoting the Paleo Diet argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy. 

“Hunter-gathers, pastoralists, and agriculturalists have been extensively studied since the mid-1800’s,” notes Wolf.  Archeological evidence, he explains, demonstrates clearly that Paleo people were superbly healthy.  Their bones, explains Wolf, “looked like those of high-level athletes” (148).

Paleo peoples “were as tall or taller than modern Americans and Europeans, which is a sign they ate a very nutritious diet.  They were virtually free of cavities and bone malformations that are common with malnutrition.  Despite a lack of medical care, they had remarkably low infant mortality rates, yet had better than 10 percent of their population live into their sixties” (39).  (Remember Paleo peoples lived in very dangerous times.)  The Paleo peoples were “virtually free of degenerative disease such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  They also showed virtually no near-sightedness or acne” (39). 

With the shift to agriculture, humans “lost an average of six inches in height” (93).  These early Neolithic farmers had about seven cavities on average per person.  Infant mortality rates increased:  “the most significant difference was between the ages of two and four when malnutrition is particularly damaging to children.”  These farmers had bone malformations typical of infectious diseases and did not live as long.  Deficiencies in iron, calcium, and protein were common (40-41).   

Wolf notes that if the timeline of human history is compared to a 100-yard football field, the first 99.5 yards comprises all of human history except for the last 5,000 years.  In the last 10,000 years most humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the settled agricultural lifestyle of the last 5,000 years.  Television, the Internet, and refined vegetable oils, notes Wolf, only take up the “last few inches” of this timeline (38-39).  Surely the last quarter-inch would include today’s fake, franken foods.

In essence, explains Wolf, humans “moved from a nutrient-dense, protein-rich diet that was varied and changed with location and seasons to a diet dependent upon a few starchy crops.  These starchy crops provide a fraction of the vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  These ‘new foods’ create a host of other health problems ranging from cancer to autoimmunity to infertility” (41). 

Our health researchers, Wolf argues, lack a scientific framework from which to study and assess information on what we should eat, so their answers “change in response to politics, lobbying, and the media.”  I would add two other factors:  individual economic self-interest (paycheck scientists and those who personally benefit from promoting certain diets) and the presence of a personal belief system not grounded in science, such as “salt is bad.”  As a result, Wolf argues, “our `health maintenance system’ [is] more parasitic than symbiotic….After all, it’s hard as hell to make money off healthy people….” (34).  Now, writes Wolf, with regard to our health, “common” is being mistaken for “normal” (11). 

With some small exceptions, the following diets are closely related to the Paleo Diet:  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet;  Gary Taubes’ WHY WE GET FAT, which advocates the diet used by the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at the Duke University Medical Clinic; Konstantin Monastyrsky’s FIBER MENANCE, which promotes a low-fiber diet; and Dr. Joseph Mercola’s NO GRAIN DIET.  (Except for Mercola’s NO-GRAIN DIET, these books have been discussed in earlier Tipping Points essays.) 

The above diets agree that grains are a problem.  Where diversity emerges is over whether or not to eat legumes and dairy and, if so, which legumes and what kinds of dairy. 

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), which I really like because they are practicing good science, recommends raw/real dairy.  WAPF allows, cautions about, or discards legumes based on how hard it is to mitigate their anti-nutrient chemical packages.  Thus, soy is not recommended.  And whole grains are allowed if they are properly soaked or sprouted to mitigate their anti-nutrient chemical properties. 

For myself, I avoid grains, especially refined grains.  I pretty much avoid legumes, too, mostly because it’s clear my body does not like them and because they are an inferior protein source.  Dairy I love, especially fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir, and piima.  There are many peoples still present today who thrive on real milk.  The Laplanders (reindeer), the Masai (cows), and the grasslanders from inner Mongolia (sheep) spring immediately to my mind.  Granted, some of this milk is consumed in a fermented form, but we’re still talking healthy people who consume dairy products.

Whenever we attempt to adopt food ways from other eras or other regions, we inevitably bring our own belief systems into the mix.  Cordain is no different.  His emphasis on lean, grass-fed meat betrays the anti-saturated fat campaign that has permeated our culture since the 1970s.  Of course early people used animal fat; it was the only fat they had unless they lived near coconut trees or the sea.  Eskimos lived mostly on fat and were supremely healthy.  And, pemmican was made from a 1:1 ratio of fat and meat, with some dried fruit pounded in.  (Somewhere I read that some pemmican was found in a grave that was thousands of years old and that it was still good—which speaks to the power of saturated fats as a preservative.)  

Cordain’s anti-salt stance also betrays the presence of belief system, not science.  Healthy salt is essential for humans and for preserving food, as was discussed in Tipping Points 40. 

Cordain recommends using dried egg whites in smoothies as a protein source.  But, the scientists at the WAPF argue that powdered protein powders of all kinds have broken chemical structures and are dangerous.  Also, egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with protein digestion.  We need the egg yolk to digest the egg white, and for the body to obtain optimal levels of nutrition, the egg white needs to be cooked. 

Cordain gets into trouble with his “non Paleo” diet list.  He allows olive, coconut, walnut, macadamia, and flaxseed oils.  Yet, most nut/seed oils are highly refined and dangerous.  One needs to buy unrefined oils, and finding unrefined olive and coconut oils is fairly easy.  I did find some unrefined grapeseed oil in Portland recently; that’s a rare commodity.  

Cordain uses lemons and limes to season salad greens, but vinegar is not allowed.  Yet, wine is.  Vinegar and wine are the same thing essentially. 

Diet sodas, which are toxic chemical brews, are allowed.  Mercy!

Still, in general, I do believe the essence of the Paleo diet—grass-fed, free-range meats; wild fish; wild seafood; vegetables; fruits; nuts; and seeds—to be healthy.  Medically, this way of eating can heal and support the body. 

Just ask Dr. Terry Wahls. 

Mainely Tipping Points 40: “The Battle to Save the Polish Countryside”

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Mainely Tipping Points 40

“The Battle to Save the Polish Countryside”

 

Sir Julian Rose inherited Rose of Hardwick House in 1966, when he was 19 years old.  By 1975, at age 28, he began converting the farm to organic production.  In 1984 he moved to the farm full time and began what Wikipedia calls “an intense campaign to promote ecological food and farming in the face of the rapid rise of industrial agriculture.”  He has made numerous broadcasts on national radio and television and has written many articles, all of which call for the support of local and regional food economies rather than global ones. 

In November of 2000, Sir Julian Rose was invited by Jadwiga Lopata to come to Poland and co-direct The International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC), which she had founded.  Poland was trying to join the European Union, and Rose and Lopata knew that what Rose calls “the renowned biodiversity” of the Polish countryside soon would be under attack.  Rose has chronicled what ensued in a short article, “The Battle to Save the Polish Countryside,” which is widely available online, including at the Weston A. Price Foundation web site:  http://www.westonaprice.org/farm-a-ranch/the-battle-to-save-the-polish-countryside.    

Why should we care about Poland’s agricultural situation?  The answer is simple:  what is happening in Poland is also happening in Maine now and has already happened across large parts of the United States.  If we are aware of this economic pattern, which is so heavily supported by the political arena, we can each take steps to fight it.  What is at stake is nothing less than our freedom, since our freedom to choose clean, nutrient-dense foods that support our bodies, food that is grown by farmers we know, is being replaced by dirty, poisonous, fake foods that are making us sick while they are making the 1 percent richer. 

And we are sick.  Leigh Erin Connealy, MD, who runs a cancer center in California, said in a recent interview with Kevin Gianni in the online Healing Cancer World Summit that today, cancer is the number 1 killer and will strike one in two men and one in three women.  That’s a plague, isn’t it?  Our broken food system is part of what has gone wrong.

Rose wrote that he and Lapata addressed “the Brussels-based committee responsible for negotiating Poland’s agricultural terms of entry into the EU.”  No one on the committee was from Poland, though 22 percent of the Polish population was involved in agriculture, mostly on small farms.  Rose told the committee that in Britain and other EU countries, restructuring agriculture had “involved throwing the best farmers off the land and amalgamating their farms in to large scale monocultural operations designed to supply the predatory supermarket chains.” 

The committee’s chair countered by saying that the EU’s policy objectives involved ensuring “that farmers receive the same salary parity as white collar workers in the cities” and that the only way to accomplish this goal was to restructure and modernize Polish farms so that they could “compete with other countries’ agricultural economies and the global market.”  Thus, said the chairwoman, one million farmers would need to be shifted off the land and into city and service industry jobs that would improve their economic position.

 Rose countered by pointing out that as unemployment was running at 20 percent, he didn’t see how jobs could be provided for “another million farmers dumped on the streets of Warsaw.”  After a long silence, a committee member from Portugal noted that since her country had joined the EU, 60 percent of small farmers had left their land and that the EU didn’t care about small farmers.

 Rose and Lopata began trying to educate the Polish people about what EU restructuring would actually mean for them.  Rose described the changes in Britain to the Polish parliament:  restructuring had meant “the ripping up of 35,000 miles of hedge rows; the loss of 30 percent of native farmland bird species, 98 percent of species-rich hay meadows, thousands of tons of wind-and-water-eroded top-soil, and the loss from the land of about fifteen thousand farmers ever year, accompanied by a rapid decline in the quality of food.” 

I can tell you that in my lifetime, I have witnessed, around Reynolds, Georgia, the loss of the hedge rows and the loss of the quail that once lived in them.  I have seen the topsoil blowing off of the open fields.  And, seen deep fissures in the eroded land.  Worst of all, I have seen and smelled the toxic poisons sprayed onto the fields and the food growing in them.  I have seen the skull and cross bone signs posting those fields and come home smelling of noxious chemicals because I had walked past those fields—weeks after they had been sprayed.  And they want us to eat this food, to put this food into our bodies?

Poland joined the EU in 2004. And, the restructuring began.  Farmers who took the proffered agricultural subsidies and free advice found themselves, as did Rose himself before them, “filling out endless forms, filing maps, and measuring every last inch of your fields, tracks and farmsteads.  It meant applying for `passports’ for your cattle and ear tags for your sheep and pigs, resiting the slurry pit and putting stainless steel and washable tiles on the dairy walls, becoming versed in HAASP hygiene and sanitary rules and applying them where any food processing was to take place, and living under the threat of convictions and fines should one put a finger out of place or be late in supplying some official detail.”  What is being lost is “our independence and our freedom—the slow rural way of life shared by traditional farming communities throughout the world.”

 Behind the EU agricultural policies, writes Rose, were agribusinesses and seed corporations who wanted to “get their hands on “Poland’s relatively unspoiled work force and land resources.”  The newly passed EU regulatory policies helped. 

Among the “most vicious of anti-entrepreneurial weapons,” writes Rose, are the “sanitary and hygiene regulations” which are “enforced by national governments at the behest of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.”  These “hidden weapons of mass farmer destruction” became the main tool for replacing small farmers with “monocultural money-making agribusiness.”

By 2005, writes Rose, or a mere one year later, “65 percent of regional milk and meat processing factories had been forced to close because they `failed’ (read:  couldn’t afford) to implement the prescribed sanitary standards.  Some 70 percent of small slaughterhouses have also suffered the same fate.  Farmers increasingly have nowhere to go to sell their cattle, sheep, pigs, and milk.”  And, with the destruction of this infrastructure, farmers are forced off the land. 

In Maine, the state government has rescinded a small farmer’s ability to raise and slaughter up to 1,000 chickens and sell them—despite the fact that no one has been made sick.  Small farmers can no longer share slaughtering equipment, a time-honored practice in rural America.   At local farmers’ markets, state government officials have attempted to stop farmers and venders from providing tastes of their foods, unless they can provide hot water for washing hands. 

And, the FDA stopped a local organic farmer from selling fresh-pressed cider at local stores or at the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association’s  (MOFGA) fall fair, even though, again, there had been no reports of illness.  (Oddly, unpasteurized cider can be taken across state lines as long as it is properly labeled, unlike raw milk.) 

Who got the MOFGA fair business?  A large grower who either pasteurizes or treats cider with ultraviolet light and who grows apples with Integrative Pest Management (IPM) practices, which means they pause before they go ahead and spray.

The sanitary and hygiene weapons, writes Rose, are now “scything their way through Romanian family farms, whose extraordinary diversity and peasant farming skills are a ready match for Poland’s.”  Rose predicted in 2008 that Turkey would soon be targeted.

This “global food economy,” writes Rose, is “the instrument of a relatively small number of very wealthy, transnational corporations.”   Rose lists Monsanto, Cargill, and their “fellow seed operatives Dupont, Pioneer, and Syngenta.”  What evolves is the patenting of seeds, so farmers have to buy new seeds each year, and the massive use of toxic agricultural chemicals that are killing the structure of the soil.   

Rose describes how the push to introduce GMO seeds into Poland has been relentless.  Under Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland tried to ban “the import and sale of GMO seeds and plants in Poland” and to ban GM animal feed by 2008.  As of 2010, this battle continues.  Industry harnessed support from agricultural professors and the media.  (Much of the Polish media is foreign owned, and industry makes huge contributions to academia).  And, the EU has stated that blanket banning of GMOs violates free-trade dictates.  

Meanwhile, Smithfield pigs are being raised on Polish soil and being fed Monsanto soy.  These pigs have flooded the market; their cheapness has undercut pigs raised by traditional pork farmers.  Further, with some of the US’s grain crops going to make biofuels, conventional feeds have become expensive.  So, GM soy and corn, once avoided in Europe, are now the “only cheap option available” in Poland.   

Poland still has one and a half million family farms.  These farmers could mount “a full blown peasants’ revolt to recapture the right to grow, eat and trade their superb farmhouse foods, thus freeing themselves from the increasing stranglehold that the bureaucratically perverse sanitary and hygiene regulations have imposed upon them.”

Rose writes, there are those “who are waking up to the stark choices that confront all of us:  capitulate to the forces of `total control’ or wrest back control of life and work to rejuvenate local communities to do the same.”   

Support your local farmers!   

Mainely Tipping Points 39: SENOMYX’S PATENTED CHEMICAL FLAVOR ENHANCERS

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Mainely Tipping Points 39

Feb. 1, 2012

 

SENOMYX’S PATENTED CHEMICAL FLAVOR ENHANCERS

 

Lee Burdett is a food and health blogger:  http://blog.wellfedfamily.net.  Her Summer 2011 WISE TRADITIONS article, “Senomyx:  The Brave New World of Flavor BioEngineering,” follows Sally Fallon Morell’s article “The Salt of the Earth,” discussed in Tipping Points 38.  Both writers are concerned with the substitution of chemicals for real food, and both articles can be found online at the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) web site, which is linked on the right sidebar of this blog.  Morell and the WAPF are really worried about what a chemical substitution for real salt might do to the health of the general population.     

Senomyx, writes Burdett, is a ten-year old publicly traded high-tech research and development company based in San Diego.  Senomyx’s work is “closely related to the pharmaceutical industry….”  Indeed, “the majority of their corporate executives came from Pfizer, Novartis and Merck.”  And “their advisory board is populated by neurobiologists, neuropharmacologists and one Nobel prize-winning chemist.”  Synomyx “achieved an 85 percent increase in profits from 2009 to 2010.”

Why is any of this information important?  Because, explains Burdett, Synomyx is a “new player in the big food processing game.”  Synomyx has developed patented flavor enhancers by using what they call their “proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems.”  These systems allow Senomyx to test “an enormous volume of chemicals” and to determine if a particular chemical concoction is “effective or tasty.”  Once found, Synomyx patents the concoction. 

Synomyx has five flavors in various stages of completion, writes Burdett:  Savory Flavors, Sweet Taste, Salt Taste, Cooling Flavors, and Bitter Blockers.  Senomyx has already patented some savory flavor ingredients  and  some sweet flavor ingredients, including a sucralose enhancer.  The savory flavor ingredients were tested against monosodium glutamate (MSG) and inosine monophosphate (IMP)—which is “an expensive MSG enhancer.”  The sweet flavors were tested against various carbohydrate-based sugars and against artificial sweeteners.   Synomyx is working on  cooling flavors; bitter blockers, which will be used as additives in soy foods as they are “too bitter for most people to eat;” and on salty flavors. 

Synomyx, writes Burdett, has given the name SNMX-29 to “the protein they believe is the primary human salt taste receptor.  Now, they will use their “enormous flavor enhancing library to pinpoint which one stimulates SNMX-29 precisely the way sodium chloride does.”  And, “once this is achieved all that is left is for some company to buy the rights to insert that perfect salt enhancer into a food, replacing the need for much of the sodium currently used.”

Synomyx’s chemical flavors, writes Burdett, “stimulate your taste buds without them actually tasting anything.  This subterfuge fools your brain into thinking you have tasted an intensely sweet or savory (unami) flavor.  Much like MSG, these flavor enhancers operate on the neurological level to produce these reactions.  They bypass normal tasting processes and, because of their ability to react directly with the brain’s receptors, send signals directly to the location in your brain where specific flavors are registered.” 

Synomyx’s chemical flavors have not been tested for safety, explains Burdett, because very small amounts are used.  Thus, these chemicals “have not undergone the FDA’s usual safety approval process for food additives.”  But, science is discovering more and more that small amounts of chemicals are dangerous and that eating small amounts multiple times in a day does add up.    

In addition, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA)—which is an industry-funded organization—granted Senomyx’s MSG-enhancer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in “less than eighteen months.”  So, this chemical has been patented and is “already in products on the market.”  Two sweet flavors and two Bitter Blockers have been given GRAS status by FEMA.  As these chemical flavors “are not actually ingredients but rather `enhancers,’ they are not required to be listed in a package’s ingredients except as `artificial flavors.’“  If you are buying packaged foods, likely you’re already eating them.     

The Ajinomoto Group (which mostly operates in China), Cadbury/Kraft, Campbell’s Soup, Firmenich (a Swiss perfume and flavoring company), Solae (soy-based foods), Nestlé, and PepsiCo—all of which have many trade names—are using Senomyx’s flavor enhancers.  For instance, writes Burdett, PepsiCo (which includes the Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Quaker, and Gatorade brands) “recently signed a four-year contract with Senomyx that included a thirty-million dollar up front payment from Pepsi to Senomyx to use their sweet enhancers.”

Burdett notes these sweet chemical flavors can replace 75 percent of sucralose and 50 percent of table sugar.  And, she notes that Synomyx CEO Kent Snyder has cited the need for Synomyx’s salt enhancement program “because salt reduction is such a high priority for food companies and the medical community `due to the association of high salt intake with cardiovascular disease.’ “ 

Yet, we know from Sally Fallon Morell’s article, “The Salt of the Earth,” that salt is “vital to health” and “there is no substitute for salt.”  We know that adequate sodium chloride “must be obtained from salt.”  We know that a 2010 government-funded study published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” found that “even modest reductions in salt intake are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death” and that “lower sodium is associated with higher mortality.”

As with all of these food issues, there is a history.  The salt wars, writes Morell, “began in 1972 when the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, a coalition of thirty-six medical organizations and six federal agencies essentially declared that salt was an unnecessary evil.”  Industry was, of course, involved in this erroneous view.  Morell cites the example of Kristin McNutt, who had been hired by the MSG Foundation .  (Decreasing salt increases consumption of artificial flavorings, like MSG.)  McNutt testified before the McGovern Committee hearings that resulted in the demonization of saturated fats and the promotion of highly processed, dangerous vegetable oils.  McNutt said the following in a lecture before the Society for Nutrition Education in the early 1980s:  “ `It’s just like what we did before the McGovern Committee hearings.  In order to get media attention, we said that salt causes high blood pressure.  We knew it wasn’t true but we had to get their attention.” 

Now, low-salt is part of an elaborate belief system supported by misguided groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and many of our government organizations, like the FDA and the USDA, whose 2010 guidelines lower salt intake, writes Morell, to below the “absolute requirement for salt.”  Industry, including the medical industry, will be the only beneficiary of these unscientific decisions.  And, the food industry stands to make even more money if it does not have to pay for actual sugar and salt.

Chemical flavors are pharmaceuticals and as such should be safety tested.  Certainly they should be properly listed on food labels.  Why aren’t they?  Michael Pollan in IN DEFENSE OF FOOD explains that in 1973, the FDA “simply repealed the 1938 rule concerning imitation foods.”  This action opened the regulatory door to all manner of faked food ingredients.  “All it would take now,” writes Pollan, “was a push from the McGovern’s Dietary Goals for hundreds of `traditional foods that everyone know’ to begin their long retreat from the supermarket shelves and for our eating to become more `scientific’ “(34-36). 

So, don’t be afraid of consuming real, Celtic-type salt.  Avoid packaged, processed foods, especially those with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Cook, eat, and enjoy meals made from organic, locally grown, nutrient dense foods.  Buy a copy of NOURISHING TRADITIONS if you need help.  An hour making a soup or stew or roasting a chicken yields several nights of meals.  In addition to protecting and nourishing your health, your food will be delicious and fully satisfying.

 

Mainely Tipping Points 38: Please Pass the Salt

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Mainely Tipping Points 38:  January 23, 2012

PLEASE PASS THE SALT

If you were to make me choose between sugar and salt, I’d choose salt every time.  I’m almost always the first one at the table to say “please pass the salt.”

I like to think I inherited my salt-loving tendency from my maternal grandmother—Louise Phillips Bryan of Reynolds, Georgia.  So, when the salt wars began in the 1970s—that time when many of the false, unscientific notions about food and body chemistry took root–I didn’t pay a bit of attention.  Grandmother lived to be ninety and ate mostly local, nutrient-dense food.  She ate fried bacon nearly every morning alongside her three (small) buttered pancakes, with, if she had it, homemade blackberry jam.  If not, she had locally made cane syrup, whose molasses-like pungency can curl your toes.   

I think Grandmother would have lived much longer if she hadn’t taken—apparently largely unsupervised– an early form of an estrogen replacement supplement.   Like many women of that time, she was told that post-menopausal estrogen would help keep her facial skin supple.  She died of uterine cancer.     

So, given all the ongoing warnings about the dangers of salt, imagine my delight at discovering in just the past few years that there is a real salt that’s full of good-for-you minerals.  It’s that reasonably priced grey, wet “Celtic” salt that can be found in our local coops (cooperative membership stores) and, sometimes, in expensive, small jars in mainstream grocery stores.  (The pricy, pink Himalayan salts are also ok, but are mined, so some of the nutrients are long-gone.  Nothing beats the barely processed, grey Celtic-type salt for overall health benefits.)   

The first versions of this Celtic-type salt came from the coast of Brittany, in France; thus, the “Celtic” name association.  According to Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig, PhD, in NOURISHING TRADITIONS, this real salt contains about 82 percent sodium chloride; 14 percent macro-minerals, “particularly magnesium”; and “nearly 80 trace minerals,” including “organic iodine from the minute bits of plant life that are preserved in the moist Celtic sea salt” (48-49). 

This Celtic-type salt is also made in Maine, up near Machias, by the Maine Sea Salt Company.   Owner Stephen C. Cook evaporates salt water in solar houses without added heat.  He advertises that he never heats this water to speed up the process and never uses drying agents.  He makes both the grey Celtic salt and a whiter, drier salt which might be more processed in that the water might be heated before going into the solar house.  One warning:  real salt attracts moisture, so store it in a covered container or a salt pig. 

I’m finding that this Celtic-type salt is really salty—a little goes a long way.  And, as my taste buds have welcomed real salt, I’m also finding that “pouring” fake salt with added iodine is not very—well–salty.     

White sea salt has usually been highly processed with both heat and chemicals, which kills its nutrients, including the natural iodine salts.  White sea salt is probably better than “pouring” salt because it isn’t a fake salt and it does not contain additives.  But, be sure to check the label.  It is, however, a dead food.    

“Pouring” salt is a fake salt.  Morell and Enig explain that potassium iodide is added in amounts “that can be toxic”–in order “to replace the natural iodine salts removed during processing.”  Additives, including dangerous aluminum compounds, are added to enable the “pouring.”  Dextrose is added to “stabilize the volatile iodide compound,” which turns the mixture purple, so a bleaching agent is used to turn the “salt” white again (48-49). 

Morell and Enig write that the iodine in iodized salt is an inorganic version that can cause thyroid problems if used in excess.  And they note further that certain vegetables, like cabbage and spinach, can block iodine absorption.  In addition to Celtic-type salt, we also get iodine from “sea weeds, fish broth, butter, pineapple, artichokes, asparagus and dark green vegetables.”  Morell and Enig also caution that one needs “sufficient levels of vitamin A, supplied by animal fats” to properly utilize ingested iodine.  Among the signs of iodine deficiency are muscle cramps and cold hands and feet (44).  

Salt is a powerful preservative.  It’s also a powerful enzyme activator.  Morell and Enig write that Dr. Edward Howell, the noted enzyme researcher whose work I’ve referenced in earlier essays, observed that those whose diets are composed almost entirely of raw foods, like the Eskimos, do not need much salt; but those who subsist on a diet composed largely of cooked foods, like the Chinese, require greater amounts of salt to activate enzymes in the intestines” (48). 

Howell’s observation resonates with the growing body of knowledge that links much of our health to how well our gut is functioning.  Anyway, Howell’s observation probably explains why I feel the need to salt the cooked foods I eat and don’t put much salt on salad.  Probably, we each have already found our own salt balances and sensitivities—unless we have been needlessly terrified about salt consumption. 

Morell and Enig note that early research showed a correlation between salt and high-blood pressure.  But, correlation is not causation.  And, indeed, subsequent research, including a “large study conducted in 1983 [Robert A. Holden et al] and published in the July 15, 1983, Journal of the American Medical Association, found that dietary salt did not have any significant effect on blood pressure in the majority of people.  In some cases, salt restriction actually raised blood pressure.”

Since 1983, many studies have demonstrated not only that there are no benefits to a low-sodium diet, but that, as Morell notes in “The Salt of the Earth,” in the Summer 2011 “Wise Traditions,” which is available online,  “lower sodium is associated with higher mortality.”  Major studies vindicating salt are listed in a sidebar article (“More Studies Vindicating Salt”).   Morell cites a 2010 “government-funded study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association” which found that “even modest reductions in salt intake are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.”  

The Weston A. Price Foundation folks are very worried about our government’s unscientific low-sodium position.  In “The Salt of the Earth,” Fallon writes that salt is “vital to health” and that there is no viable substitute.  The human body’s “interior is salty, and without salt the myriad chemical reactions that support enzyme function, energy production, hormone production, protein transport and many other biochemical processes simply can’t work.”

Anecdotally, I can tell you that one of our family members fell prey to the low-sodium demonization of salt.  She landed up in the hospital in a lock-down ward because she could not distinguish reality from her hallucinations and bad dreams and was utterly terrified.  With restored salt levels, she reclaimed her sanity in short order.     

Fallon explains that though our bodies require “salt concentrations in the blood to be kept constant,” Western people today “consume about half the amount of salt that they consumed traditionally.”  Real salt, writes Fallon, “provides two elements that are essential for life and for good health:  sodium and chloride ions.”  Neither can be manufactured by the body, so must be obtained from food.  Sodium is present in a variety of foods, but chloride ions can only be obtained from salt

So, why do our government’s 2010 food guidelines lower salt from 6 grams to 3.5 grams—which is less than the one teaspoon of our absolute daily salt requirement?  And why are food companies not objecting, since they rely on salt for flavor?  Perhaps it’s because a fake chemical salt is being readied to enter the market. 

Mainely Tipping Points 37: Statins: Profitable Toxins

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Mainely Tipping Points 37

STATINS:  PROFITABLE TOXINS

 

Stephanie Seneff is a senior research scientist in the EECS (Electrical Engineering, Computer Science) department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Her degrees–a B.S. in biology, and an M.S., E.E., and Ph.D. in EECS—were awarded by MIT.  She researches within the interdisciplinary intersections of medicine, computer science, and electrical engineering, or the highly-respected biomolecular discipline.   

Seneff’s article, “Cholesterol:  The Essential Molecule–and The Adverse Effects and Overuse of Statins” (Well Being Journal, November/December 2011, 13-24), is the most complete, chemical explanation I have read of why statins are not a solution to the prevention of heart attacks. Statins, Seneff explains, create a situation where muscles are destroyed and where, eventually, the whole body is seriously at risk. 

Once again, drug industry researchers and medical doctors only looked at one piece of an illness puzzle—prevention of heart attacks–without understanding the actual causes and without acknowledging the long-term impact of their drug (statins) solution.  (Surely they know the harm statins do and are ignoring this harm because statins are so profitable.)  After exhaustive research, Seneff says the following:  “I will…make the bold claim that nobody qualifies for statin therapy, and that statin drugs can best be described as toxins” (13).  And, “I would in fact best characterize statin therapy as a mechanism to allow you to grow old faster” (22).

In addition, the drug industry and doctors have played a game I think of as “medical math.”  Seneff notes that a meta-study reviewing seven drug trials and 42,848 patients over a three- to five-year period did show a 29 percent decreased risk of a major cardiac event.  But as heart attacks were “rare among this group, what this translates to in absolute terms is that 60 patients would need to be treated for an average of 4.3 years to protect one of them from a single heart attack.  However, essentially all of them would experience increased frailty and mental decline….” (14).       

Seneff’s article describes the chemical components within the body when cholesterol is fully present and when it has been compromised.  Her explanations are clear and fully understandable, but complicated.  If you are taking statins or are contemplating them, I urge you to read Seneff’s article.  Meanwhile, I will do my best to synthesize the high points so that you can understand why it is so dangerous to use statins to reduce cholesterol in your body. 

Furthermore, many, many studies—some of them long-term studies—clearly show that people—and especially women–with high cholesterol counts live longer than those with low cholesterol counts.  This information is readily available, and it is a mystery to me why our doctors continue to ignore it.

 Statins interfere with the synthesis of cholesterol, a nutrient, explains Seneff, that has been demonized by the drug industry and doctors, but which is essential to human health.   “Cholesterol is absolutely essential to the cell membranes of all our cells, where it protects the cell not only from ion leaks but also from oxidation damage to membrane fats” (14).  Reducing cholesterol “places a much bigger burden on the body to synthesize sufficient cholesterol to support the body’s needs, and it deprives us of several essential nutrients” (14).       

Further, Seneff notes, “there are three distinguishing factors that give animals an advantage over plants:  a nervous system, mobility, and cholesterol.”  Cholesterol, which is “absent from plants, is the key molecule that allows animals to have mobility and a nervous system” (14). In a nutshell, when statins reduce cholesterol, they force the body to jerry-rig alternative chemical systems that lead eventually to body-wide damage (20).

One mythology today is that elevated serum levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is a problem.  But, Seneff explains, “LDL is not a type of cholesterol, but… [is] a container that transports fats, cholesterol, vitamin D, and fat-soluble anti-oxidants to all the tissues of the body.”  Because these nutrients are not water-soluble, they “must be packaged up and transported inside LDL particles in the blood stream.”  Thus, “if you interfere with the production of LDL you will reduce the bioavailability of all these nutrients to your body’s cells” (15).

The LDL package, explains Seneff, is “vulnerable to attack by glucose and other blood sugars, especially fructose.”  If “gummed up” by sugars, “the LDL particles become less efficient in delivering their contents to the cells,” they “stick around longer in the bloodstream,” and the “measured serum LDL level goes up” (15).  But, worse, after the LDL particles have delivered their contents, they “become small dense LDL particles, remnants that would ordinarily be returned to the liver to be broken down and recycled.”  However, “the attached sugars interfere with this process…so the task of breaking them down is assumed instead by macrophages in the artery wall and elsewhere in the body.”  These “small dense LDL particles become trapped in the artery wall so that the macrophages can salvage and recycle their contents, and this is the basic source of atherosclerosis” (15). 

The liver, explains Seneff, produces the LDL particles.  Statin therapy “greatly impacts the liver, resulting in a sharp reduction in the amount of cholesterol it can synthesize.”  Also, the liver breaks down fructose and converts it into fat.  So, when there is a lot of fructose in the system, the liver becomes burdened with the task of converting it to fat and cannot “keep up with the cholesterol supply.”  Both conditions mean that “fats cannot be safely transported”(16).

Additionally, as the liver is burdened with handling the fructose, “it produces low quality LDL particles” (16).  So, harmful chain reactions begin to occur, such as the following:  fructose builds up in the blood stream, which causes more damage; the skeletal muscle cells are severely affected; and the brain, which houses 25 percent of the body’s cholesterol, is impaired.  Diabetes and arthritis are also associated with statin therapy (19, 21).   

When overburdened, the liver shifts the processing of excess fructose to the muscle cells, explains Seneff.  The muscle cells themselves begin to use an alternative fuel source that requires an abundance of fructose and which allows the production of lactate, which is a high-quality fuel for the heart.  This desperate production of lactate is why statin therapy can lead to a “reduction in heart attack risk.” (17).

But, continues Seneff, “the muscle cells get wrecked in the process” (17).  In effect, the muscles “can no longer keep up with essentially running a marathon day in and day out.”  The muscles “start literally falling apart, and the debris ends up in the kidney, where it can lead to the rare disorder rhabdomyolysis, which is often fatal” (20).  The drug industry readily admits to muscle pain and weakness with statin use (17).

The dying muscles also “expose the nerves that innervate them to toxic substances, which then leads to nerve damage such as neuropathy, and ultimately amyloid lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a very rare, debilitating, and ultimately fatal disease that is now on the rise due (I believe) to statin drugs” (20).

Also, as the cells struggle with ion leaks caused by insufficient cholesterol, they begin to replace a potassium/sodium system with a calcium/magnesium-based system.  The result is the “extensive calcification of artery walls, heart valves, and the heart muscle itself.”  Indeed “research has shown that statin therapy leads to increased risk of diastolic heart failure” (20). 

Seneff is very interested in the role of cholesterol sulfate.   Cholesterol sulfate is “very versatile.  It is water soluble, so it can travel freely in the blood stream, and it enters cell membranes ten times as readily as cholesterol, so it can easily resupply cholesterol to cells” (24).

Cholesterol sulfate, explains Seneff, is produced by the skin in large quantities with sun exposure.  Seneff  thinks that “the natural tan that develops upon sun exposure offers far better protection from skin cancer than the chemicals in sunscreens.”  And, Seneff thinks we should eat foods “rich in both cholesterol and sulfur”—“eggs are an optimal food, as they are well supplied with both of these nutrients” (24).     

To avoid heart disease, Seneff suggests cutting back on fructose intake, eating whole foods instead of processed foods, and eating foods which are good sources of lactate (sour cream, yogurt, and milk products in general).  (One can use goat-milk products if cow’s milk is a problem.)  Strenuous physical exercise helps “get rid of any excess fructose and glucose in the blood, with the skeletal muscles converting them to the much coveted lactate” (23) 

Seneff further advises:  “spend significant time outdoors; eat healthy cholesterol-enriched, animal-based foods like eggs, liver, and oysters; eat fermented foods like yogurt and sour cream; eat foods rich in sulfur like onions and garlic.  And, finally say `no-thank-you’ to your doctors when they recommend statin therapy” (24).

Mainely Tipping Points 36: Stopping Fluoride

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Mainely Tipping Points 36

PART 3:  STOPPING FLUORIDATION

 

An October 13, 2011, article in “The New York Times” by Lizette Alvarez reported that about 200 jurisdictions in the United States have chosen to end fluoridation in the last four years.  The most recent is Pinellas County, on Florida’s west coast.  Eleven small cities or towns opted out this past year, including Fairbanks, Alaska. 

In Maine, municipal voters must vote directly to begin or discontinue fluoridation.  It’s difficult to patch together a list, but it seems as if the following Maine jurisdictions have voted to end fluoridation:  Mt. Desert, Jackman, Moose River, Lincoln, Seal Harbor, and Norridgewock.  In November, Damariscotta and Newcastle will vote on ending fluoridation.

In THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE:  HOW HAZARDOUS WASTE ENDED UP IN OUR DRINKING WATER AND THE BAD SCIENCE AND POWERFUL POLITICS THAT KEEP IT THERE (2010), Paul Connett, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H.S. Micklem, DPhil, note that since no one federal organization is in charge of the fluoridation program, stopping it at the federal level will be very difficult.  The best way, write Connett et al, is through local, democratic efforts.  After reading this book, which is an exhaustive study of the history and safety of fluoridation, I hope Camden and Rockland citizens—and other citizens of other towns–will join together to opt out of fluoridation in the near future.

When Mt. Desert voted in 2007 to end fluoridation—by a ratio of four to one—over thirty health officials met in Augusta for a press conference where they condemned the decision (Craig Idlebrook, “Mount Desert Fluoride Vote Sparks Debate,” “Working Waterfront,” 1 May 2007).  Yet, the 2006 EPA-commissioned report by a twelve-member panel of the National Research Council (NRC) had very clearly raised warning flags about fluoridation’s negative effect on the human body and had flatly stated that the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4 ppm was not protective of human health. 

To clarify, the NRC is part of the National Academies.  And, the 2006 NRC report is the most recent report from the National Academy of Sciences on fluoridation.  The twelve panel members were told to review toxicologic, epidemiologic, and clinical data on fluoride and exposure data on orally ingested fluoride from drinking water and other sources.  The panel was not charged to investigate risk-benefit assessment.  Nevertheless, as Connett et al document repeatedly and as panel member Kathleen Thiessen notes, the NRC panel implicated fluoride, even at low levels, as causing damage to human bones and teeth.  The report also implicated fluoride as adversely interfering with many systems of the body (142-147). (Parts 1 and 2, Tipping Points 34 and 35, highlight some of that information.)

 In January 2011—a full five years after the 2006 NRC report—the EPA got around to lowering their current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm to 0.7 ppm.  (But the 4 ppm MCL remains in place.)  And, in January 2011, the EPA announced it will move toward banning fluoride pesticides used on food because children are currently over-exposed to fluoride (Dan Shapley, “EPA Will Ban Fluoride Pesticide Used on Food,” 11 January 2011, www.thedailygreen.com). 

Already, our well-meaning health officials are writing letters to local papers endorsing fluoride.  These are likely good people who want what’s best for their communities.  The mistake they are making is that they are relying on endorsements from major health organizations who have not done their own, or any, analysis or who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo—maybe because any backsliding could result in major law suits. 

So, if you see vague, uncited endorsements like “studies show,” or “the scientific evidence is clear,” seek more information because the 2006 NRC report does not support that position.  Nor do the very reputable authors of THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE.  Go online and poke about the NRC report yourself.  It’s on the National Academy of Sciences web page:  FLUORIDE IN DRINKING WATER:  A SCIENTIFIC REVIEW OF EPA’S STANDARDS, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11571.  Even reading the Summary is instructive. 

Remember, endorsements are not scientific inquiry.  And, the history of fluoridation is made of up endorsements piled up like a house of cards.  What has already fallen out of this face-saving mess is your health.     

As for fluoridation’s success in preventing dental caries, that case hasn’t been made.  Fluoride itself has never been subjected to rigorous, randomized clinical trials, explain Connett et al (270).  Further, communities opting out of fluoridation worldwide have not experienced increased cavities.  Indeed, Connett et al argue that benefits have been “wildly exaggerated” in the absence of good studies.  Further still, in 1999, the Center for Disease Control admitted that if fluoride works at all to strengthen teeth, it works topically, not through ingestion (13). 

So, tell me again, why are we putting it in our water, especially since it is so toxic for so many?

Also, I do think that we have to put our health officials on notice that continuing to “drink the Kool-Aid” about fluoride and not doing due diligence themselves is not ok.  We rely on our health officials for solid information, so if they are going to take a public position, I would urge them to read Connett et al and the 2006 NRC report first.  You can’t read either without rethinking fluoride drastically. 

One argument—made by James Donovan, CEO and President of the Lincoln County healthcare system, which is the Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, in THE FREE PRESS, October 24th—is that all you have to do is drink the fluoridated water to cheaply protect your teeth.  Oddly, a civil engineer from Louisiana made the following comment on this blog:

 “I know that people drink only 1/2% (one-half percent) of the water they use. The remaining 99 ½ % of the water with toxic fluoride chemical is dumped directly into the environment through the sewer system.  For example, for every $1000 of fluoride chemical added to water, $995 would be directly wasted down the drain in toilets, showers, dishwashers, etc., $5 would be consumed in water by the people, and less than $0.50 (fifty cents) would be consumed by children, the target group for this outdated practice.  That would be comparable to buying one gallon of milk, using six-and-one-half drops of it, and pouring the rest of the gallon in the sink.”

And, of course, the more fluoridated water you ingest, the bigger your dose of fluoride and the larger your risk of harm.  Just drinking the water is “not the “holistic benefit to our overall health” that Donovan claims.

The ethical and moral components of this debate are deeply troubling.  Drugging a whole community, as Connett et al note, not only puts subsets of the population (like babies, diabetics, the elderly, the ill, the allergic) at real risk, this practice violates each person’s right to give informed consent, which is both “an ethical obligation and a legal requirement…in all fifty states of the United States” (3-4). Note too that in 2006, the American Dental Association advised against giving babies fluoridated water (“10 Facts about Fluoride,” Fluoride Action Network web site).  Poor families are faced with buying distilled water for formula—water that likely comes in a plastic bottle which brings into play a whole new set of contaminants.         

Why is our medical community, which must abide by legal requirements about informed consent in their work place, so willing to ignore them with regard to fluoride?  Especially since, as Connett et al note, tooth decay “is neither life threatening nor contagious at the community level” (269). 

So, I’m looking to young parents, especially, to work together to organize a vote to end fluoridation in Camden and Rockland.  Protect your children, yes.  But prevent, also, the skeletal fluorosis that is likely masquerading as arthritis when you become a senior citizen.   

 

Mainely Tipping Points 35: Part 2: THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE

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Tipping Points 35

PART 2:  THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE

 

In THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE:  HOW HAZARDOUS WASTE ENDED UP IN OUR DRINKING WATER AND THE BAD SCIENCE AND POWERFUL POLITICS THAT KEEP IT THERE (2010), Paul Connett, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H.S. Micklem, DPhil, demonstrate both that there is now documented worldwide evidence that low levels of fluoride are dangerously toxic for humans and that evidence for the effectiveness of fluoride in either making teeth stronger via ingestion or preventing tooth decay is very weak.  Connett et al conclude that the known, serious risks of fluoridation harm outweigh any claimed, but unproven, benefits.  

 With regard to fluoride’s effectiveness for tooth decay as an ingested drug, Connett et al note that in 1999, the CDC “finally conceded what many dental researchers had been reporting over the previous two decades:  Fluoride’s predominant mechanism of action was topical, not systemic.  In other words, if fluoride works at all, it does so via direct exposure to the outside of the tooth and not from inside the body” (13). 

 Connett et al explain that “the vast majority of countries in the world—including…nearly all European countries—do not fluoridate their water.”  And, World Health Organization data show that “rates of tooth decay in twelve-year-olds have been coming down as fast in non-fluoridated countries as in fluoridated ones.”  “Moreover, there is no evidence where fluoridation has been started and stopped in Europe that there has been a rise in tooth decay” (33).  Connett et al demonstrate that in most cases, countries rejecting fluoridation do so because health issues have “not been resolved” and because they do not “want to force it on people who didn’t want it” (32).  Connett et al show repeatedly that income level is “a far greater factor affecting dental decay than the percentage of the population that has fluoridated water” (40) and argue that “very high rates of tooth decay in the United States occur in cities that have been fluoridated for years” (170). 

 Connett et al explain that the fluoride added to public water is not a pharmaceutical grade drug—it’s a hazardous waste product from the phosphate fertilizer industry that cannot legally be dumped locally or into the ocean.  Once purchased by public water utilities, it becomes a “product” and escapes EPA’s “legal requirements for handling hazardous waste.”  No tests have been done to determine how much radioactive material or arsenic this hazardous waste contains (17-18). 

 A turning point in fluoridation should come as a result of the National Research Council’s (NRC) 2006 report on fluoridated water.  Connett et al show that this EPA-commissioned report determined that “fluoride was associated with damage to the teeth, bone, brain, and endocrine system and possibly caused bone cancer.”  The panel concluded that the “U.S. safe drinking water standard for fluoride (4 ppm) was not protective of health.”  And, “since the report was published, further evidence has emerged of lowered IQ associated with exposure to fluoride and of an increased incidence of osteosarcoma in boys who drink fluoridated water in the sixth to eighth years of life” (271, 181-194).     

 Fifty percent of all fluoride ingested stays in the body.  Fluoride calcifies in human bone and in the pineal gland, located between the two brain hemispheres, and concentrates in the kidneys. 

 Today, 32% of children in the United States in fluoridated areas have dental fluorosis, or visible damage to their tooth enamel, which means that “a child has swallowed too much fluoride before the permanent teeth have erupted” (270). For example, babies on formula in a 1 ppm fluoridated water system get up to 250 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby (x, 270).  Dental fluorosis is a sign of systemic toxicity (114)—which means, as the NRC report and Connett et al conclude, that fluoride is likely having a much greater adverse effect on the body than its promoters over the years have realized.

 Connett et al discuss a recent study in Mexico which connected the severity of dental fluorosis to the incidence of bone fractures in children and adults (169-170).  And they note that the practice of using high doses of fluoride to treat osteoporosis results in, among other outcomes, an increase in hip fractures and gastrointestinal damage (174-175, 130-133). 

 The NRC report determined that clinical Stage II skeletal fluorosis is an “ `adverse health effect, as it is associated with chronic joint pain, arthritic symptoms, slight calcification of ligaments, and osteosclerosis of cancellous [porous] bones’ “ (139).  Connett et al note that skeletal fluorosis mimics arthritis which makes it hard to diagnose and that the United States has very high rates of physician-diagnosed arthritis—rates which are rising, likely due to the fact that “the aging process will coincide with lifelong accumulation of fluoride in…bones and joints” (170-171).    

 The NRC report noted that fluorides can interfere with brain and body functions by both direct and indirect means; that fluorides can produce free radicals in the brain, which can increase the risk of developing Alzeimers; and that the consistency of the Chinese studies looking into the effect of fluorides on human intelligence warrant additional research (151-152).  The NRC panel was not able to rule out the “possibility that fluoridation is associated with an increased risk of Down syndrome in children of young mothers (144).  And, the panel concluded that fluoride “ `appears to have the potential to initiate or promote cancers’ “ (145). 

 The endrocrine system involves glands that secret hormones; e.g., the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pineal glands.  The NRC panel noted that fluoride “ `affects normal endocrine function or response’ “ both directly and indirectly and expressed concern about fluoride’s impact on the thyroid gland (158).    

 Connett et al point to the incomprehensible lack of research on fluoride’s impact on the thyroid and note the need to study fluoride’s impact on the development of goiter in the thyroid; the impact of fluoride on a normal or underactive thyroid, given that it “calms an overactive thyroid”; and  fluoride’s relationship to the development of hypothyroidism with its attendant problems of “depression, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, increased cholesterol levels, and heart disease” (157-165). 

 The NRC panel noted that “`any agent that affects pineal function could affect human health in a variety of ways, including effects on sexual maturation, calcium metabolism, parathyroid function, postmenopausal osteoporosis, cancer and psychiatric disease’” (165-166).

 With regard to diabetes, the NRC panel determined that fluoride exposure “`appears to bring about increases in blood glucose or impaired tolerance in some individuals and to increase the severity of some types of diabetes.’ “ The panel noted that since diabetics often drink more water, they will have higher fluoride intakes (166-167).

 Connett et al explain that as the kidneys concentrate fluoride, they are “particularly at risk” (198).  The NRC report noted that “ `the effect of low doses of fluoride on kidney and liver enzyme functions in humans needs to be carefully documented’ “ (197).  Connett et al note that EPA literature about pesticide poisoning warns that ingested fluorides have “ `a corrosive effect on the epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract’” (132).  Other areas of needed further study are the hepatic (liver), immune, and reproductive systems (198).   

 Part 3 will discuss what we can do about fluoridated water.