Nov
14
2020

Why We See More Food Allergies

A recent review in a BBC article explained why we see more food allergies. It is important to note that one of the more important food allergies are peanut allergies. Certainly, they have risen from 1 in 250 children in 1997 to 1 in 70 children in 2008.

By all means, allergies come in various degrees of severity; an anaphylactic reaction is the most severe form. Notably, in England there was a rise of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis from 1,015 in 2013 to 1746 in 2019. This is a 72% increase in 6 years!

Theories why there may be more food allergies now

There are a number of theories why food allergies have been on the rise. There is a consensus now that the right composition of the gut bacteria is important for normal immune reactions to take place.

Hygiene theory

David Strachan proposed the hygiene theory of allergies in 1989. Briefly, his observation was that children of larger families were less likely to develop allergies. He interpreted this to mean that infections among siblings stabilized the immune system. In the meantime, it has become obvious that the gut plays an important role for the immune system.

Graham Rook’s “old friends” theory

Graham Rook’s “old friends” theory came out in 2003. This theory states that friendly microbes in the environment are mixing with the gut flora. This trains the immune system to balance.

Gut bacteria theory

There is good evidence that the more a child is given antibiotics as a child, the more likely it is that the person develops a food allergy later. The mechanism seems to go via the gut flora. In a way this is the other coin of Graham Rook’s “old friends” theory. If you kill the “good friends” bacteria in the gut by antibiotics, the immune system strikes back with allergic reactions.

Dual-allergen exposure

By exposing the child at 4 to 11 months to peanuts or peanut butter, the immune system develops tolerance to the peanut protein (LEAP=learning early about peanut). A study showed that by doing this 80% of 5-year and older children and adults do not have a peanut allergy.

Prenatal vitamin D and food allergies

A German study found that prenatal exposure to higher amounts of vitamin D resulted in a higher risk of developing food allergies before the age of two.

Use antibiotics only when necessary

Gut biome studies showed that the use of antibiotics can have long lasting effects on the composition of the gut flora. A patient in sepsis may require antibiotics. But when the patient has recovered it is important that the bowel flora is restored with probiotics. This balances the immune system and avoids allergic reactions.

Immunotherapy for food allergies

Allergists have long used desensitisation techniques to deal with inhalant allergies. Allergy shots every two or three weeks can be very helpful to suppress immune reactions to inhalants. The same technique works also for many food allergies. The allergist tests the patient’s skin on the forearm to see what positive reactions occur. Based on these findings an allergy serum is composed. A small amount is injected in intervals. The smallest amount is given first and the concentration is gradually increased until the maintenance dose is reached. This causes the immune system to produce competing antibodies that reduce the antibody-mediated reaction to the food allergies.

Why We See More Food Allergies

Why We See More Food Allergies

Conclusion

Food allergies are increasing in frequency and severity. There are several theories why food allergies develop. The most likely one is that friendly bacteria in the environment become part of the gut environment in the newborn. If we have the right composition of gut bacteria our immune system reacts normally. Administering antibiotics frequently and overcleaning our kitchens with too many cleaning agents affects our bowel flora negatively. This disbalance can cause allergic reactions. On the other hand, exposing a newborn between the age of 4 and 11 months to a variety of adult foods including peanut products will desensitize the child to peanut protein and prevent future allergies. Those who are severely affected by food allergies can see an allergist for allergy testing and consider desensitisation through allergy injections.

Jul
29
2017

Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Some drink milk, others are lactose intolerant; this is the fact about drinking milk.

For a long time the dairy marketing board advertised with the slogan: “Got milk?”. But dairy milk consumption has declined over the past decades.

Why this is has been reviewed in this article. I like to review the problem of lactose intolerance, milk as a source of calcium to prevent osteoporosis and offer alternatives to milk consumption.

Lactose intolerance

Milk cows have been around in Europe for about 6000 years. But not everybody can tolerate milk products. Most of the Europeans, North Americans and Australians have adjusted the digestive enzymes in their duodenum to produce enzymes, called lactase that digest milk sugar (lactose) into glucose and galactose. But up to 75% of the world population (Africa, South America, Asia) is lactase deficient; they cannot tolerate dairy products. They get abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting from drinking a glass of dairy milk. This link explains why goat milk is better than cow’s milk for those who cannot tolerate cow’s milk.

It is also interesting that many people who are lactase deficient can tolerate cheeses, yogurt and other fermented milk products as the fermenting bacteria have digested the lactose.

Other problems with dairy products

Problems with mass production of dairy items are the following:

  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) are responsible for the majority of milk products on grocery market shelves. This means that the animals are fed unnatural corn, which leads to deficiencies and omega-6 fatty acids in the milk products.
  • Herds of animals receive antibiotics to prevent infections.
  • Farmers are administering bovine growth hormone (bST, bovine somatotropin) to stimulate more milk production. The antibiotics lead to superbugs in humans, the bST may be causing autoimmune diseases and breast cancer in humans. The healthiest milk is milk from grass-fed cows. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids. All of the milk products derived from this type of milk are also healthy.

Milk as a source of calcium

One key advertising slogan of the dairy industry used to be that milk would be such a good source of calcium, which would prevent osteoporosis. But milk also has a lot of animal protein in it, which acidifies blood. This means that the kidneys use calcium to neutralize acidic blood and excrete calcium. The net result is that there is more calcium leaving the body. Some of the calcium from the bone serves to keep the balance between acidity and alkalinity neutral.

This 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study involving 77, 761 women between the ages of 34 to 59 showed that a higher consumption of milk did not protect against hip and wrist fractures.

The myth that full fat milk causes heart attacks and strokes

There is another myth floating around, namely that full fat milk would be bad for the heart because of increased saturated fatty acids. But an Australian study showed that full fat milk is healthier for you than milk with less fat.

After 14.4 years of follow-up the group that consumed the most milk compared to the lowest fat intake group had a 69% lower death rate from cardiovascular disease!

A 2016 study showed that consumption of plain yogurt was associated with better health outcomes on the long term. Be more concerned about the sugar content than the fat content of yogurt!

Prevention of osteoporosis

For years numerous sources have indoctrinated us to accept a false concept. It is the concept of increasing milk consumption (“Got milk?”) for increased calcium intake and possible osteoporosis prevention. The sales mantra went like this: Milk-calcium-osteoporosis prevention. Now we know the real truth. Milk provides protein and calcium.  But  absorption of calcium is poor and the acidified blood is alkalinized through calcium from milk and from the bone leaking calcium into the blood and into the urine. The end result is a net loss of calcium from the bone, as it is more important to the body to keep the blood’s acid/base stable than to increase the calcium level in the bone. Sadly all the high consumers of milk from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study ended up having fractures from osteoporotic bones.

Prevention of osteoporosis requires intake of vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and calcium (supplement or diet) as I have reviewed in this blog. In addition regular exercise is also very beneficial as is bioidentical sex-hormone replacement. It is interesting that a large clinical trial that I mentioned in this blog showed after 7 years that there were 35% to 38% less fractures of the hip than in the placebo group. Vitamin K2 is essential to keep calcium in the bones and to keep calcium out of the blood vessel walls. Vitamin D3 is important for calcium absorption through the gut wall and to deposit calcium into bone. Without all of these ingredients it is not possible to prevent osteoporosis.

Alternatives to milk consumption

  1. One obvious step is to replace cow’s milk by goat milk. As you can see from this link, there are many advantages to goat milk. What I find important is the fact that those with lactase deficiency often can tolerate goat milk while they would otherwise react to cow’s milk. There are also many goat milk products like cheese and yogurt, all of which are very healthy. They do not contain any antibiotics or bovine growth hormone (bST), the use of which is confined to cows. Goat milk products are also an excellent source of protein.
  2. You can eat a more vegetable-based diet. A lot of vegetables and fruit have calcium and protein in them.
  3. You can consume almond milk instead of cow’s milk. The downside to know is the fact that almond milk is not a significant source of protein. It has the advantage of being slightly alkaline; this will ensure that the calcium absorbed in the gut will reach the bones as long as you also supplement with vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. The many “fake milk” products such as rice milk, coconut milk and hemp milk are also poor protein sources. The only product higher in protein is soymilk. But soy has its own problems: over 90 % of the crop in North America is genetically engineered, and soy is a known allergen. As of recent, another product based on pea protein is available, and the protein content is excellent, so it is worth looking for it (It is called “Ripple”).
Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Conclusion

Drinking milk as a source of protein and calcium has become an obsession a few decades back. In the meantime it turned out that drinking milk tips the acid-base balance in the direction of acidity. This causes osteoporosis, as the kidneys excrete all of the calcium from milk that is absorbed. On top of that even more calcium is taken out from bones to recalibrate the acid-base balance.

Up to 75% of the world population is lactose intolerant. They get sick from drinking cow’s milk. But they usually tolerate goat milk quite well. Considering the fact that antibiotics are used in cow milk production and recombinant bovine growth hormone as well, I have joined the crowd that prefers goat milk instead of cow’s milk. I take the supplements I mentioned for bone maintenance (vitamin D3 and K2) and I get lots of calcium also from vegetables and salads. I have no lactose intolerance, but that’s my take on milk.

Sep
14
2013

Food Processing Can Be A Danger To Your Health

Food processing is found everywhere: in pizzas, hamburgers, ready to eat deep frozen dinners, and in the myriad of packages that you see in the center of the grocery store. There are aisles and aisles of ready-made food packages including potato and corn chips, power bars, low fat yoghurt, and on and on it goes.

So, what are the problems with these foods?

Here are the major players that you will find (sometimes not) on the food ingredient lists.

Hidden sugar

With the recommendation for the past few decades that we should use low fat yoghurt a whole industry has sprung up surrounding low fat products. If you study the labels you will see that this has been done at the expenses of adding hidden sugar content. Don’t go for the berry or other fruit yoghurt, because it is over processed, sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This is a fast track to becoming a diabetic. Stick to plain yoghurt with 2 to 3 % fat, which has only the original milk sugar in it, but no additives. Also, in the US you ought to avoid any milk and milk products containing bovine growth hormone, which is solely there for increasing the milk farmer’s profit, but will seriously undermine your health (it blocks your growth hormone receptors). Ref. 1 and 3 explain in detail how the metabolism is being changed through added sugar and an overdose of starchy foods, which is the reason for the pancreas over producing insulin. This in turn causes such varied diseases like heart attacks, diabetes, inflammatory conditions like arthritis, MS, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Cut out cookies, excessively starchy foods like potatoes, bread, pasta and rice. Within half an hour of ingesting these your system will be overrun with sugar, the breakdown product of starchy food.

Added salt

Added salt is often used to preserve foods, to lengthen their shelf life and to stimulate your appetite. In restaurants it is added to stimulate your appetite for more liquids. As a result more beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) will be ordered, which is where the profit margin is highest. High amounts of salt will not be beneficial to you, as it will raise your blood pressure and on the long-term will cause high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. When you buy organic food, there is no added salt in it, although you get sodium chloride that is contained in the vegetables and fruit. Add very little salt, if any; instead add  herbs and spices, which contain valuable trace minerals.

Food Processing Can Be A Danger To Your Health

Food Processing Can Be A Danger To Your Health

Hidden fat

Whenever you have a food that was deep fried such as potato chips, corn chips or French fries, there is the danger of exposing yourself to trans fats from polyunsaturated fatty acids. This is also true for deep fried chicken or any other ready to eat foods that have been prepared in the deep fryer.This type of oil is often reused after it is filtered and advanced glycosylation end products (AGE’s) are accumulated in it. This ages your cells including your skin much faster. AGE’s also worsen diabetes by causing more complications like heart attacks and kidney failure. For the same reason you should avoid burning meats on the BBQ or food that you cook on a stove.

Hamburgers also have a lot of hidden fat, sometimes as much as 50%. This fat enters your bloodstream and is eventually deposited as fat deposits in your arteries. After decades of eating too many hamburgers and sausages your coronary arteries clog and you require a stent or a bypass surgery. If you do not want to become a statistic prematurely, cut out sausages, hamburgers and other processed meats replacing them with lean turkey breast, organic chicken and lean pork,venison or grass fed lean cuts of beef or bison.

MSG and other food additives

Many foods have artificial sweeteners in them, which includes excitotoxins like MSG and aspartame. MSG is added to stimulate your appetite, but it has devastating effects on your brain cells on the long term. The name may be disguised as yeast extract, sodium caseinate, broth stock, malt extract, natural flavors and others. Soda drinks either have added sugar, in which case your insulin response makes you want to eat more calories in a day leading to obesity and to dementia. Aspartame, which is used by diet conscious people as a low calorie drink, causes insulin resistance making you gain weight. It also damages your brain. I recommend the plant extract stevia, which is a sweetener that does not have the deleterious effects of aspartame. Sucralose (Splenda) was developed through research on insecticides when a student found out that it tasted sweet. Although Big Pharma has succeeded to introduce sucralose into the diet of diabetics, it is a sweetener that in my opinion is not safe. First it kills ants: a few years ago I did an experiment where I took a package of Splenda from Starbucks and sprinkled it on Hawaiian ants. In the beginning they were reluctant to eat it, but after a few hours they came and took it in. One day later there were only shriveled up dead ants left in the area where Splenda had been sprinkled. I refuse to eat insecticide-laced soda! Second, when you read the link about the “sweet deception about Splenda” above you find that it has reduced the growth rate of rats, caused anemia in mice, enlarged the liver and the brain of rats, shrunk ovaries of rats and caused kidney damage with calcifications in rats. We have no official human data, although millions of Splenda doses have been consumed.  Nobody has done clinical safety studies in man.

One of the food additives you may not think much about is gliadin, which is used in baking to bind the ingredients together. It is derived from wheat, which is usually the Clearfield variety of wheat (a dwarf variety). Dr. William Davis (Ref.1) has examined the effects of wheat and wheat products on humans in detail. Suffice it to say that it is safest to avoid wheat and wheat products entirely; otherwise you could develop bowel disease like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease; heart disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases, but also CNS disease like Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).

Other health problems associated with marketing and so-called “best practices” of agroindustry

Milk and milk products are not as innocent as in the past when no marketing boards were around. Animals are no longer freely roaming on green pastures, but are kept in high-density facilities and have to be put on antibiotics to prevent infectious illnesses. So we are told. In reality farmers have found out that antibiotics and bovine growth hormone will both increase milk production. The profit principle has been applied and as a result the consumers of milk and milk products have a change of their bowel flora from the antibiotics, which can cause heart attacks. The bovine growth hormone from milk and milk products causes breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Superbugs have emerged as a danger from treating beef animals with antibiotics in feeding lots leading to resistant bacterial strains that can cause human disease like flesh eating disease etc. These superbugs imported from the grocery store and meat market are what can make us sick! Eating only organic meat and organic foods are one way that we can use to protect ourselves. Organic milk or goat milk are alternatives to regular (unhealthy) milk.

Toxins in our foods

Roundup is so rampantly present in agroindustry to protect crops from weeds that traces of it are present in most regular crops. Despite claims that Roundup would be safe for the consumer, newer research has shown that it is not. Genetically modified crops are routinely sprayed with Roundup, as they are resistant to this herbicide, so I recommend to stay away from these crops as well.

Your best protection is to buy organic foods.

Heavy metals can be another source of food toxicity. Red wine was found to contain heavy metals, which could undermine that heart healthy effect of a glass of red wine per day.

Mercury is toxic to the central nervous system. It comes from the effluent of gold mines, the smog from coal burning and volcanic activity, which finds its way into the ocean. Fish is the main source of exposure to humans as explained in this link.

Conclusion

We need to be vigilant about the food we eat. The more it has gone through food processing, the more ingredients get mixed in. We need to ask questions about how the food that we eat was raised. Were food additives mixed in? Are they harmless or bad for our health? Beware of sugar as this causes insulin levels to raise causing obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Watch the addition of salt, which causes high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Avoid polyunsaturated fats, cook with olive oil instead. It’s the Mediterranean way of preventing heart attacks. No butter, no margarine, because this fat ends up in your arteries. Avoid wheat and wheat products that are often mixed into foods. Cook your own food whenever possible. Eat lots of vegetables and salads. Watch the glycemic index and avoid high glycemic index foods. Sweeten with stevia, but avoid all other sweeteners. This way you avoid the insulin response discussed above.

The dietitians of the US have summarized the problems the American public faces in Ref. 2. Essentially we need to take back the responsibility for our own food preparation and become less dependent on manufactured foods. A good collection of wheat-free recipes can be found under Ref. 3.

References

1. William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly. Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2011.

2. The Profession of Dietetics at a Critical Juncture: A Report on the 2006 Environmental Scan for the American Dietetic Association; Journal of the American Dietetic Association – Volume 107, Issue 7 (July 2007)

3.  William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

Last edited Oct. 4, 2014

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Jul
06
2013

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

When your grandmother grew up there was very little convenience food, maybe ketchup and yes, there was processed cheese and coke. There were also bread and butter.

Now we go through a large grocery store and the center of the whole store is occupied by convenience food, row after row.

What is convenience food? It is pre-cooked or processed food that sits on a shelf waiting to be bought and consumed. You may be able to just eat it the way it is (power bars, fruit yoghurt snacks, ice cream, breakfast cereals etc.) or you just have to microwave it for a minute or two (ready made meals, pizzas). Even, if you make a fresh salad, you top it with a salad dressing that has been processed and may contain chemicals that are not necessarily healthy for you.

This blog is meant to make you think and get educated as a consumer. As a physician I am guided by what is healthy for you, but at the same time food needs to be interesting and taste good and be affordable.

As fat, carbohydrates and protein are the main food groups that we eat, I will deal with each of these categories first followed by vitamins and minerals, which we also need.

Fats and oils

Many convenience foods are full of saturated fatty acids, which contribute to the overall calorie count of the package and are one of the main reasons why we gain weight and deposit fat into our arteries in preparation for a heart attack or stroke down the road. As you may know the worst form of fat is hydrogenated fat, also known as “trans fat”.

It contains free radicals from the hydrogenation process, which damage your cells and interfere with normal body metabolism. Read labels and avoid any foods that have a long shelf life as this is due to hydrogenated fats and chemicals known as food preservatives.

This food group also contains sausages and other processed meat; I wrote a separate blog about this recently.

If you eat cheese, reduce your saturated fat intake by buying cheese with only 18% fat (such as Cantenaar cheese, Jarlsberg light, skim milk mozzarella and goat cheese). Avoid the rich 45% type cheeses. The best oil in your kitchen would be an organic cold pressed olive oil. It figures prominently in Mediterranean cooking.

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

Sugar, starch and other carbohydrates

A large portion of snacks from the mid section of the grocery store contains all forms of sugar: high fructose corn syrup, sugar, honey, agave syrup, maple syrup etc.  You may think that a harmless fruit juice would be healthy until you see from the ingredient list on the label that it contains 5 to 6 teaspoons of sugar per cup (250 ml) of juice.

Unfortunately our body is not equipped to process all the sugar that the food industry wants us to consume and we develop insulin resistance; the liver converts the excess sugars into fat and deposits it into our arteries and as fat deposits between our guts (visceral fat) and as subcutaneous fat in the thighs, around the hips and the waist. It is no secret that a lot of obesity is related to overconsumption of sugar containing convenience foods (snacks and sugar-laden drinks).

Often low calorie alternatives contain aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). Aspartame is an excitotoxin damaging your brain cells and sucralose was developed in the 1950’s as an insecticide. We do not want to replace disease-promoting sugar with toxins as sweeteners. Safe alternatives for sugar are xylitol, mannitol, and stevia.

What is sometimes overlooked is the fact that your body digests bread, starchy foods such as potatoes, and pasta, rice and flour products like pizza or cookies within 30 minutes into sugar that is as harmful to your pancreas as plain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The body reacts with the same overproduction of insulin converting the excess sugar into fat and depositing it in your body as described above. Much of the obesity wave we see in the past 3 decades is due to baked goods like bagels, bread, pasta and pizza. It is much better to enjoy your stevia-sweetened coffee without any bakery pieces to go along with it.

Protein in meats, dairy products and sausages

You would think that a healthy cut of meat from the grocery store would be a good source of protein for you. You probably did not think that it could be contaminated with a superbug when you bought it. This is especially true for ground meats like hamburger meat. If you bought a portion of organic meat you can be more certain that you are buying a qualitatively superior product. I discussed this whole issue of superbugs in meat and meat products in this blog recently.

We need to be aware of the agroindustry, the feedlots and what they fed the animals. I only buy organic meat and organic dairy products as my source of protein. I avoid sausages altogether because of the food additives that they contain, which are cancer causing.

The problem with prepared meats like chicken nuggets and others is that they contain breading and food preservatives and they have been deep fried, which makes these items an unhealthy choice.

What are some of the problems with dairy products? Despite the allegations that bovine growth hormone would be harmless to your health, your body thinks otherwise. Your body has hormone receptors that are very specific and bovine growth hormone can block them so your own human growth hormone from the pituitary gland cannot function properly. This is why I would recommend only organic milk products. You may have heard that in many European countries bovine growth hormone is banned for that reason.

Next the fat content of dairy products needs to be monitored: go for low-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt. While we are talking about yoghurt, stay away from fruit yoghurts that have all kinds of sugar and food additives mixed in. Add fruit of your choice and stevia, if you need a sweet taste.

Vitamins and minerals

The more foods are processed, the less natural vitamins and minerals stay behind. Particularly vitamin C and the B complex group are affected, but also magnesium, which is an important co-factor to enzymatic reactions within our cells. Often processed foods contain too much salt with sodium displacing potassium from the cells resulting in a lack of energy and high blood pressure.

Your best prevention is to stick to as little processed food as possible and to eat organic. If you eat enough organic greens and vegetables, there is an ample supply of vitamins and minerals. Prepare your own soups as canned products are high in sodium; another unwanted additive is often sodium glutamate (MSG), which comes under many disguised names. It belongs to the group of excitotoxins like aspartame and is not welcomed by your brain cells.

Public Awareness

Lately there has been more of public interest and awareness to the detrimental effects of convenience foods. Alarming reports about the increase in the obesity rates, the rise in diabetes type 2 even in children have been in the media for some time. The publications are not only North American, but also European, as can bee seen in this link.

New legislation is being introduced in many states of the US regarding school snacks and vending machines in schools.

Not all food news is bad. Recently it was reported that fish oil could protect against the effects of junk food. Omega-3-fatty acids contained in fish oil are helping to rebalance the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6-fatty acids in food, which often is disbalanced towards an overabundance of omega-6 fatty aids in processed foods. Rebalancing the omega3/omega6 ratio in food helps to normalize the metabolism of the brain and prevents hardening of arteries.

What you can do to get healthy food

It starts when you buy food. Read labels and look for calories, sugar, fat and sodium content. You may be surprised how many stores carry organic foods now. The price may not be that much more. There is a useful app for your cell phone, Buycott, that you may want to download. This way you can scan items in the store and find out what ingredients are contained in a particular food item and which company produces it.

With meats it is particularly important to buy organic (because of superbugs and also because of the aspect that feed lot animals often receive antibiotics and hormones). Stick to organics also with vegetables and greens (xenoestrogens in non-organic greens that block hormone receptors). Milk products also need to be organic because of the bovine growth hormone facts mentioned above.

When you eat out, things become more difficult unless you find an organic food restaurant. You can always prepare your own salad for lunch with organic greens and a lean protein food, which you keep refrigerated until you are ready to consume it. On weekends a portable picnic in a park can be a great way to relax and socialize, especially in summer.

More information about nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

May
25
2013

What We Can Do About Superbugs

Introduction

This article is about what we can do about superbugs. Several decades ago nobody talked about superbugs. Then came stories of “flesh-eating disease” or necrotizing fasciitis. Since 2001 it became obvious that these cases have become more common. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was often the underlying cause.

Antibiotics for weight gain in cattle

Government bodies accuse physicians of overprescribing unnecessary antibiotics for viral colds and flus. All physicians had to attend educational programs as part of the continuing education programs to use antibiotics only sparingly.  But the frequency of these serious infections often requiring amputations and mutilating surgeries continued to escalate. Research into the phenomenon of increasing superbugs took place already in the 1970’s. In 1977 the FDA came to the conclusion that antibiotics were used widely in the US by the agroindustry for weight gain in livestock (pigs, cattle, chicken, turkeys). Although masked as protecting animals from infections, the real motivation of the farmer was to increase profits. The FDA recommendation in 1977 to change the practice of feeding livestock antibiotics did nothing to change that.

Farmers continued to use the old antibiotic feeding practice

After a court review in 2012 a New York court ordered the FDA to do something about the same problem. The answer was a lame recommendation of a voluntary program to downsize the use of antibiotics in livestock, requiring a vet and a prescription for antibiotics. The problem with this is that farms had no mandatory checks of livestock by trained inspectors. The ruling about antibiotic reduction contained no penalties for farmers who continued the old antibiotic feeding practice. Fast-forward to an American citizen who visited India recently as told in this story.

Superbugs are all over the world

It is clear that superbugs are all over the world. It is also clear from this article (and other literature I have reviewed) that 80% of today’s antibiotics are fed to livestock, not to treat infections, but because of their effect on weight gain in livestock and the associated larger profits. The result is that we are looking at farming practices that produce deadly superbugs. Next we are reading headlines about a recall of meat meat and meat products.

Here is an interesting list from the Environmental Working Group, which shows what percentage of meats in your neighborhood grocery store is contaminated, and these are the numbers for superbug contaminations: The worst is ground turkey with 81%, pork chops with 69%, ground beef with 55% and chicken breasts, wings or thighs with 39%.

What We Can Do About Superbugs

What We Can Do About Superbugs

Wash meat thoroughly

This shows how important it is to wash meat thoroughly and to cook it long enough to kill the superbugs. It is also extremely important to frequently wash your hands when you prepare meat. This avoids  colonizing your skin surface with superbugs. The first step is for a person to have skin surface flora with superbugs. The second step is to get a small abrasion or a skin sore where a superbug can enter. The final step is that this bug multiplies under the surface of the skin and starts a serious infection. If the immune system is not in top shape to eradicate these bugs right away, the next step may be flesh-eating disease or toxic shock syndrome.

Solutions to stay on top of Superbugs

In northern Saskatchewan, one the provinces of Canada, an 8 year community based study was done to see whether it would be possible to reduce community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) by a combination of hand washing and education regarding appropriate antibiotic use. Using this program it was shown that in the time period of 2006 to 2008 the infection rates went down from 242.8 to 129.3 infections/10,000 population, which is almost half of the infection rate from before.

Hospital associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

What can physicians and nurses do about hospital-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA) and other superbugs in the hospital? In a hospital it is extremely important that HA-MRSA free patients do not get exposure to this superbug . Their immune system is already weak from the underlying disease. This is how they got into the hospital. At Stanford University a robot was developed that emits pulsating ultra violet light to kill any leftover superbug after the initial cleanup with scrubbing using bleach and germicidal solutions. Support staff treat the isolation rooms with the double treatment and robots disinfect the operating rooms overnight. So far tests have shown a complete eradication of the superbugs with these methods.

Breaking the chain of infection

Since about 2005 the major food production animals have been shown to be colonized with superbugs (MRSA) as this publication shows.

With 80% of the world’s production of antibiotics still going into the agroindustry for weight gaining purposes, it is high time that international “laws with teeth” apply. The WHO needs to get action in this and the public needs to put pressure on politicians to achieve this. Medical history has shown that infectious epidemics can be cured by breaking the chain of infection. In the example regarding superbugs the story of interrupting the chain of infection is exactly the same here: As shown in this study from Stanford University MRSA bugs are not contained in organic foods. So, by attempting to eat 100% organic, which can be challenging at times, you can intercept the infectious cycle involving MRSA and other Superbugs.

Attempt to eat mostly organic foods

You do not get exposed to the meat from food production animals treated with antibiotics for growth purposes. In the meantime, you are protecting yourself by keeping fit, taking vitamins and supplements all with the hope that the immune system stays strong from this. By eating organic meats and meat products you also keep your body free of toxins that would weaken your immune system and set you up for getting autoimmune diseases down the road.

The end result is that people who follow this example avoid colonization from exposure to superbug-infected meat products.  At the same time this prevents exposure to other toxins that a manufacturer of organic food can not use. Here is a story of a company that produces meat products without antibiotics (organic meats).

Conclusion

You can interrupt the infectious cycle of superbugs by eating organic foods. Make sure your immune system is strong by exercising, supplementing with vitamins and minerals. Wash your hands with soap and clean water, particularly after handling meat or meat products. Do not take antibiotics for a long time unless there is a specific reason of  bacterial infection that requires it. Do not consume meats from animals that were fed antibiotics. Read food labels!

References

1. Stick to organically grown meats:  http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm

2. Super bugs in hospitals:  http://patients.about.com/od/atthehospital/a/hais.htm

3. Useful 2008 article : hand washing, reducing antibiotic use in humans and in animal feed are the solution to combat superbugs. http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/080401_mrsa

Last edited May 25, 2013

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Mar
24
2013

Living In A Toxic World

In the past nobody worried about toxicities except parents when their children were gnawing on lead paint. Paint always contained lead and people thought that it was only children we had to worry about, adults were “immune” to this. We learnt a lot about lead toxicity from early studies in Germany and it was there that EDTA was developed in 1935 to treat children with lead toxicity. During and after the Second World War when ships were repainted with lead containing paints a lot of soldiers were poisoned with lead and the EDTA treatment protocols that had been developed earlier for children were found to be also effective for adults.

Fast forward to 2013. We all have heard of lead poisoning from Chinese made toys, from Chinese fashion jewelry and we have heard of the melamine poisoning of baby food and candies. These are not the only poisonings. Mercury is in the air; it is also present in light bulbs and in cruise ship exhaust fumes from incineration of light bulbs and batteries. We have over 600 chemicals and carcinogens in cigarette smoke, which is perhaps the largest “legal” roulette game involving humans where several poisons are inhaled at once. Our water is chlorinated or fluoridated, which interferes with our thyroid gland function. Vegetables that are supposed to be healthy for us contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens.  They are known to cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Milk in the US often contains antibiotics and genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which again can cause various cancers in humans as this link shows.

rBGH is banned in Europe and in Canada. The problems do not stop at chemicals in our water, environment, food and air, the newest threat is genetically modified food like wheat, corn and high fructose corn syrup, which is manufactured from GMO corn. Other GMO foods are golden rice, sugar beet, yellow crookneck squash, cotton for cottonseed oil, soybeans, canola, Hawaiian papaya, just to name a few. GM food is illegal in most European countries, but the US is trying very hard to push for “fair trade practices” in order to expand the market for GM foods.

Living In A Toxic World

Living In A Toxic World

How does all of this affect your body? One of the publications from France found that genetically modified food is likely responsible for the increase of endometriosis in women. This link explains that xenobiotics-associated genetically modified foods contain glyphosate (a herbicide) and Cry1Ab protein that affects the women’s hormone metabolism and causes the lining of the uterus to become invasive to cause endometriosis.

There have been attempts to study toxicity of GM foods in animal experiments, but the pitfall was a wrong testing time of only 90 days , which was chosen for these experiments, and “no differences” were found between test and control animals (all the official statements about GMO food “safety” in the US are based on these “standard tests”). However, there are other studies that found significant differences after only 4 weeks of feeding rats and mice 10% GMO food mixed with regular feed as this link shows. The full impact of genetically modified foods will not be seen until 3 generations or more in animal experiments, which  is the equivalent of 90 years or more in humans (or 80 years from now given that significant amounts of GM food has been around in the food industry for about 10 years. One human generation is generally defined as 30 years. The animal studies show that with GMO food there is a higher mortality in rats and mice and that infertility is getting worse from generation to generation.

With respect to chemicals the toxic effects on the body can be seen a lot faster than with GMO foods. The toxins such as carcinogens and xenoestrogens are often fat-soluble, which means that obese people have more toxins stored than lean people. Mercury, cadmium and lead were found in a study to have caused specific protein folding problems within the cells. This explains bone marrow toxicity, liver and kidney toxicity and brain and heart toxicity. In other words these are the organs where cells contain most of the mitochondria in the body and heavy metals are blocking their energy metabolism leading to aberrant body functions. As a result auto-immune diseases have increased dramatically,inflammatory conditions are common , and cancer rates are up.

How do we defend ourselves in a toxic world?

1. Food preparation

First you need to switch from regular foods to organic foods. Also throw out all the foods in your fridge that are not organic and that contain MSG in it’s many disguises. MSG is an excitotoxin, which kills brain cells. These suggestions are also what Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton is recommending.

Organic foods do not contain any of the problematic GM foods. They are also free of rBGH, xenoestrogens, residual herbicides or residual insecticides. Switch to either organic milk and milk products or goat milk and goat milk products. As some toxins will be released from the fatty tissue, if you are obese or overweight and you loose weight, it is advisable to use psyllium seed husks as a supplement to bind the toxins in the gut for elimination. Fiber from  organic fruit and vegetables or oat bran are also beneficial.

On the long term it is less money to buy organic foods and prepare your own meals than going out to restaurants to eat. It is also much healthier and tasty. Avoid fast food chains as their processed foods contain artery clogging trans fats, GM foods and other questionable ingredients like “pink slime”. You do not need a cooking class to prepare a decent dinner. Read cookbooks for inspiration and modify the recipes to suit your own style. Remember to use only organic ingredients. You can’t create a healthy meal with non-organic ingredients mixed in (it’s like you start adding poisons). Break the old habits, do it right! Replace butter with olive oil. Replace sugar with organic stevia (a plant sweetener). Avoid flour (especially wheat flour). Replace it, if you must with flour from oats, spelt or farro (at this point none of them have been  genetically modified). Because wheat has been chemically modified in the 1960’s and 1970’s and gliadin is about 7-fold higher, brain receptors react differently than to the “old” wheat. As a result many individuals find that they want more- bread, pasta, wheat cereal, bagels…you name it! The huge surge in obesity is just the final result. Cutting out wheat and otherwise reducing the intake of grains may be a big step, but  is well worth the effort! Another problem with bakery products is that the food industry is using bromine for rising and chlorine for bleaching so this adds to the toxic burden of the thyroid gland. Cut out wheat, pasta and bread and you will gain health.

2. Detoxification

If you had a lot of exposure to heavy metals in the past, you may want to see a naturopath for intravenous chelation treatments with vitamin C (10 Grams) and glutathione (1250 mg) every two weeks for some time until they are out of your system. If you have a lot of silver/mercury amalgam tooth fillings, consider having them removed by a dentist and have them replaced with non-amalgam ceramic or gold inlets or crowns. Don’t use fluoride toothpaste despite your dentist’s recommendation: it is toxic as it poisons enzyme systems in your body and causes cancer of the intestines over a longer period of time. Use  a fluoride-free toothpaste from the health food store. After dental cleanings refuse the fluoride gel for the same reason. Brush your teeth frequently and floss your teeth regularly after meals. Your heart and cardiovascular system will thank you for this.

3. Eliminate other toxins from your personal care products

Check your cosmetics, shampoos, hair conditioners as well as your underarm deodorants, body wash, lip balm and sun tan lotion. Do they have parabens, triclosan (often in deodorants) or phthalates in them? They are weak carcinogens or immune disruptors. If they do, replace them with a healthier product from the health food store that does not contain these harmful ingredients. Use BPA free plastic containers for water during sport activities, they are quite affordable and can be ordered online. BPA free food containers are also available in super markets, department stores and some drug stores.

4. Clean up your home environment

Avoid toxic cleaning agents, solvents, paints, and other chemicals. If you have to deal with chemicals, be sure to ventilate your living spaces. Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint, if possible and air out well until dry. Always use vinyl gloves to protect your skin as any thinners or paints get absorbed through the skin within a few minutes and are toxic to your system. If there is construction in your house or you move into a newly constructed home, air out frequently by opening the windows on and off until the “new” chemical odors have gone. New clothes contain chemical agents from the factory; so wash them frequently until the chemicals are diluted out. Avoid fabric softeners as they are chemicals (or use a biological product, if you feel you must use one).

5. Pay attention to your water

As drinking water is treated with chemicals (fluorine, chlorine or bromine) to make it bacteria free, it is best to drink only reverse osmosis water, bottled water, distilled water or mineral water. The rest of the household water should be defluoridated, dechlorinated or debrominated with a good carbon filter. Talk to your water treatment company and get it done.

6. Hormone balance

The aging process and the toxins in our environment affect our hormone glands and we produce less hormones as we get older than our ancestors did, but our ancestors overall did not live as long as we are today. A lot of this is due to exposure to immune disruptors like BPA’s from the older water bottles and long-term exposure to xenoestrogens (from residues of artificial fertilizers on non-organic vegetables).

We need balanced hormones, it is important to have them checked by a knowledgeable doctor (either an A4M anti-aging physician or a naturopath) and replaced only by bio-identical hormone creams (not synthetic factory produced pseudo-hormones). Common problems as we age are hypothyroidism, sex hormone deficiencies both in women and men, but also human growth hormone deficiencies in some (measured by IGF-1 blood levels). Without proper hormone balance all the organic food in the world will not be the answer to good health.

7. Vitamin and mineral supplements

Finally, vitamin and mineral supplements are important to support the mitochondria in your cells. Although no vitamin and mineral list is ever complete, I have summarized what I consider to be essential here. Even, if you start simple with only vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3 and a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement you are doing great.

The only other thought is to take a slow-release capsule of iodine twice per day, which would protect you from radioactive iodine in the environment or food (Compounding pharmacies may be your best source). One capsule generally contains 5 mg of elemental iodine and 7.5 mg of iodide .As time goes on you may want to gradually investigate the other supplements to see whether they would be suitable in your particular case.

We all would like to enjoy a long and happy, disease-free life. This can no longer be achieved by sticking to the old eating habits (needless to say that smoking and drinking are out too, because they are toxic to your system). You may as well enjoy organic foods and gradually work yourself through the 7 points I mentioned above. This will ensure that the mitochondria of all your major organ systems will function at their best, and as a result you will feel energized!

More information on vitamins, minerals, supplements and detoxification:

http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

Apr
01
2007

Quick Test Predicts Sepsis

One of the big risks for a patient undergoing abdominal surgery has been the threat of peritonitis, which means infection in the abdominal cavity. Apart from pneumonia, which can be another one of those life threatening diseases, peritonitis remains a severe threat even today, as it is accounting for roughly 60% of mortality in the surgical intensive care units. It is not the peritonitis itself that is the killer but the spread of the infection through the blood stream to vital organs. Once the vitals are affected, infection will lead to a general shutdown: multiple organ failure or septic multi-organ dysfunction syndrome known as MODS, which is what kills the patient.
Our ancestors could not control sepsis. Antibiotics had yet to be discovered. Today the main challenge remains a timely detection of sepsis. Once sepsis has overrun the body, even antibiotic treatment comes too late for the patient.
The best methods that are currently available for the detection of sepsis are CAT scans and fine needle aspiration. Both have their shortfalls: the CAT scan may be unavailable and fine needle aspiration can increase the infection risk. One biomarker, the C reactive protein has only a limited use to predict septic MODS, as C reactive protein levels show a sharp increase in the presence of surgical trauma, regardless whether there is infection or not. German research has tested another potential blood sepsis marker, procalcitonin. Unlike the C reactive protein procalcitonin levels are not affected by surgical trauma, but it shows an increase in the presence of bacterial or fungal infection. There is a rapid automated assay for procalcitonin, the Kryptor PCT essay. It can be completed in 20 minutes, which is important, as time is of essence in emergency situations. Among 82 recruited patients with peritonitis, more than half had infections due to E.coli. Nine had fungal infections. Procalcitonin levels were markedly higher in patients who later went on to suffer MODS. All patients in the study were tested within 96 hours of the onset of symptoms. C reactive protein levels were not useful in terms of a predictive value.

Quick Test Predicts Sepsis

Kryptor PCT measures procalcitonin for quick diagnosis of sepsis

The test is useful for two purposes: it helps with the early detection of a septic condition, so treatment can start early. It also identifies patients who won’t develop septic MODS.The sensitivity and the accuracy of the test does not necessarily make it a true “sepsis marker”. Researchers believe that the degree of systemic procalcitonin reflects a weak immune system. The test picks up those patients who are susceptible to severe infections. As a result timely treatments can be started for them right away.

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, March 15,2007, page 3

Last edited December 5, 2012

Jun
01
2006

Probiotics Help Gut Against Stress

In times of stress our bodies react: the heart will beat faster, palms will feel sweaty, and a difficult situation may manifest itself in other reactions of the body. In every day’s terms we speak about something “being a pain in the neck”, or the fear of an exam showing up as “butterflies in the stomach”.
Dr. Mary Perdue of the Intestinal Diseases Research Program at Mc Master University in Hamilton, Ontario went a step further. The fact that mental stress can bring physiologic changes in the lining of the intestine has been known for some time. As a result the epithelium (the lining) is more vulnerable to the attack of pathogenic bacteria. The researchers put a solution of lactobacillus to the test, to see whether these gut-friendly bacilli could offer some help. Stressed rats that received the treatment with lactobacillus showed a remarkable degree of protection. The stressed and treated animals were almost as resistant to intestinal pathogens as animals that had not been stressed at all. Contrary to that the non-stressed animals did not show much evidence of bacterial adhesion or penetration: they were more resistant to the attack of bacteria to their guts.
Dr. Perdue explains that it may be difficult to extrapolate from the rat model to the human model. Yet it is clear that humans who are stressed can develop intestinal dysfunction over time, or gastrointestinal symptoms can be exacerbated by stress.
In the meantime probiotics are recommended by many doctors and nutritionists to help restore the gut’s natural flora. New guidelines from Yale Medical School recommend them for diarrhea in children and adults and in diarrhea, which comes as a result of treatment with antibiotics.

Probiotics Help Gut Against Stress

Probiotics Help Gut Against Stress

More research is needed, but existing data suggest that probiotics can help manage lactose intolerance, prevent infections, and reduce inflammation. It can lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure and may help with prevention of colon cancer.

More information on:

1. Stress management: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/stress-management-relaxation-techniques/

2. Probiotics: https://www.askdrray.com/probiotics-important-for-your-health/

Reference: National Review of Medicine, May 15, 2006, page 8

Last edited Oct. 31, 2014

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