Dr. Steven Gundry’s new book, “The Plant Paradox,” has some compelling information about the value of limiting your animal protein intake to 2 to 3 ounces a few times a week to increase longevity. I believe this is solid advice and this is my typical strategy. I am convinced most of us eat far too much protein and it’s wise to replace most animal protein with safe fish like sardines and anchovies, and even then limit total protein to 30 to 60 grams depending on your lean body mass.
Gundry reviews how cattle, pigs and sheep all carry a sugar called Neu5Gc, which your immune system recognizes as foreign when you eat their meat. There is significant data suggesting that when your immune system is exposed to the foreign sugar molecule Neu5Gc from red meat, you develop an antibody to the lining of your own blood vessels, A radically reduced intake of animal protein could explain some of the longevity advantages.
In the twentieth century the soybean was one of the two major new crops introduced into the U.S. (the other crop being canola). It has now become the number one export crop and one of the second largest crops for cash sales.
Most soybean products are processed into oil (shortening, margarine, cooking oil & salad dressings) and meal. For example, you may have noticed (or may start noticing) the popular ingredient “Soy Lecithin” in many of your foods and household items. There was a time when soy was praised a superfood, from combating cancer and high cholesterol. However, new evidence has emerged with soy’s negative impact on health (and the environment). Read on to discover the deceptions and dangers of soy.
Health Dangers of Soy
1. Impaired immune system – Soy contains endocrine disrupting chemicals called phytoestrogens (specifically Genistein and daidzein) (1, 2, 3). They influence the reproductive organs as well as the immune system. In one study they found that mice treated with genistein (soy isoflavone) had less interferon (IFN)-gamma in culture supernatants (4) compared to mice treated with oil. Interferon-gamma is a cytokine that is crucial in innate and adaptive immunity against viral and bacterial infections and tumour control. Decreased levels of this molecule mean decreased immunity and decreased tumour control.
2. Impaired Fertility – Soy isoflavones as seen in point 1 (above), are structurally similar to endogenous estrogens and display both estrogenic and weak anti-estrogenic activities (5). Impaired fertility and reproductive tract disorders can be a result of said activities. In female rats exposed to high doses of isoflavones their fertility decreased (6, 7) and had altered estrous cycling (8) – it also led to increased uterine weight and epithelial cell height which may contribute to ovarian cysts. Studies done with male rats had no found effects on sexual maturity, preputial separation, fertility, sperm count or testosterone levels (8).
Another study found that compounds in acidic methanol extracts of soybeans inhibit thyroid peroxidase- (TPO) catalyzed reactions required for normal thyroid hormone synthesis (10). Inhibition of thyroid hormone synthesis can lead to goiter and thyroid neoplasia.
4. Brain Damage – In major study including 3,734 elderly Japanese-American men, those who consumed most soy during their midlife had a 2.4 times higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in their life (11, 12). These men consumed tofu at least twice a week and had more cognitive impairment than those who never ate or only sporadically consumed tofu.
These researchers also found that high consumption of tofu during midlife was associated with lower brain weight. 574 of the men were assessed for brain atrophy using an MRI machine, and although brain shrinkage naturally occurs with age, those men who ate more tofu had “an exaggeration of the usual patterns we see in aging” (11, 12).
5. Infant Abnormalities – Problems regarding infants and soy is an important topic, especially for mothers who choose to use soy-infant formulas instead of breast feeding. According to Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., “the amount of phytoestrogens that are in a day’s worth of soy infant formula equals 5 birth control pills.”
Soy-infant formulas contain high levels of isoflavones, and exposing infants to this daily intake equivocates to a 6-11 fold higher isoflavone exposure (based on bodyweight) than the dose that creates hormonal changes in adults consuming soy foods. When infants were tested for isoflavone concentrations circulating in the blood, the levels were 13,000-22,000 times higher than natural estrogen concentrations in the early years (13, 14).
Biggest Problems Surrounding Soy
1. Genetic Modification (GMOs) – Did you know that up to 91% of soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified (GM)? The soybeans are specially selected so that they will resist the toxic herbicide Roundup.
This means that the soybeans themselves are loaded with this toxic pesticide. In addition, genes from bacteria that produce a protein foreign to the human food supply are also inserted into the genes of the soybean plant, making this food item an un-natural food supply.
2. Contains Toxins: “anti-nutrients”; hemagglutinin; goitrogens; phytates – Anti-nutritional factors like saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens all interfere with our protein-digesting enzymes and result in poor digestion and thus poor health.
Soybeans also contain hemagglutinins which act as clot-inducing substances (causes red blood cells to stick together). This makes our red blood cells unable to absorb oxygen and distribute it throughout the body. Goitrogens are a category of foods that promote formation of goiter (enlarged thyroid) – and soy foods fall in that category. They block thyroid hormone synthesis and obstruct iodine metabolism.
The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume. Phytates prevent the absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc by binding to the metal ions and preventing them from entering the cells of your body. As many vegans consume soybean products, and depend on them for absorption of these exact minerals, they may be doing just the opposite.
3. Contains Isoflavones – Soy contains the isoflavones genistein (as seen previously) and daidzein. Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen which resemble the human compound called estrogen. Phytoestrogens have been found to block the hormone estrogen and can have serious effects on human tissues such as disrupting endocrine function, causing infertility, and promoting breast cancer in women.
4. Toxic Levels of Aluminum & Manganese – Aluminum tanks are used to process and acid-wash soybeans before consumption. Aluminum particles from the tanks are directly absorbed into the soybean, and result in high aluminum concentrations in the bean. Soy infant formula also contains manganese levels 80 times higher than that found in human breast milk (15, 16).
5. Soy Infant Formula Concerns – The isoflavones in soy infant formula is of great concern to new and expecting parents who choose to bottle-feed instead of breast-feed. Nearly 20% of U.S. infants are bottle-fed soy formula. As seen throughout this article, it is clear that the isoflavones in soy formula can negatively impact your child’s health (impairing sexual development and reproductive health).
Soy Products That Are Good For You Choose fermented soy products such as:
1. Tempeh – fermented soybean cake that is firm and has a nutty, mushroom-like flavor
2. Miso – fermented soybean paste that is quite salty and commonly used in miso soup
3. Natto – sticky fermented soybeans with a strong, cheesy flavor
4. Soy Sauce – fermented soybeans, salt & enzymes
Soy Products To Avoid:
– Tofu – TVP (texturized vegetable protein) or soy protein isolate
– Soybean oil
– Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
– Soy “meat”
– Soy protein
– Soy infant formula
– Avoid ALL processed foods, and purchase only whole foods prepared by yourself! Many packaged food products contain soy.
What Should You Eat Instead Of Soy?
Many vegans consume “mock meat” typically made out of soybeans that are not fermented.
As an alternative to the above list you can eat:
– Instead, eat tempeh (it is similar, just more dense)
– Soybean oil
– Instead, use olive oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, etc.
– Instead, drink hemp, rice, almond, coconut or oat milk
– Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
– Instead eat Daiya cheese (much better than soy cheese), and coconut or banana ice cream (you can use bananas as a yogurt too if you wanted – just mash them up!)
– Soy “meat”
– Instead, eat tempeh
– Soy protein
– Instead, eat heart-healthy, amino-acid packed hemp protein
(NaturalNews) It isn’t difficult to find peer-reviewed studies affirming the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Long-term vegetarianism has been linked to increased longevity, a decreased risk of cancer and diabetes, weight loss and improved digestion. However, according to a new study published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarianism can also guard us from heart disease by lowering our cholesterol and blood pressure.
Researchers at the University of Oxford monitored the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of 45,000 English and Scottish volunteers – 34 percent of whom were identified as vegetarian – between the early 1990s and 2009. During that period, 1,235 volunteers developed heart disease. 169 of them died from it, while the remaining 1,066 either recovered from the disease or continued to suffer with it.
After adjusting for external factors such as social background, age, education, alcohol consumption, and smoking status, the researchers found that the vegetarians had a 32 percent lower risk of heart disease than the meat eaters. The vegetarians also tended to have a lower body mass index and a lower risk of developing diabetes.
“The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians,” said study author and deputy director of the university’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit Dr. Tim Key.
“Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease,” added study author Dr. Francesca Crowe.
Our bodies are not adapted to eating meat
The results of this new study shouldn’t surprise anyone who understands the anatomy of the human body. Indeed, most of humanity has subsisted on a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet throughout recorded history, and this diet suits our physiology well: our teeth (including our incisor teeth) are blunt; our intestinal tract is extended rather than short; our stomach’s hydrochloric acid is often too weak to adequately digest meat and its parasites; our saliva is alkaline rather than acidic; and our hands are designed to pick fruit and till the earth, not capture prey.
While there is a time and place when eating animals is justified and even desirable (for instance, during survival situations or times when plant-based food sources are inadequate), most of us living in relative comfort and with access to a wide variety of foods have little need for semi-indigestible, acidic and pus-forming meats. Ultimately, this study by the University of Oxford is but the latest in a long line of studies that remind us why it is wise to listen to our body’s needs rather than the advice of the contemporary food industry.
About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world’s healthiest foods. from Natural News
Despite what the media preaches to you, your body has no intrinsic need fordrugs. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person may be prescribed 14,000 pills (this doesn’t even include over-the-counter meds), and by the time you reach your 70s you could be taking five or more pills every day, according to Pill Poppers, a documentary.
The featured film asks a poignant question that anyone taking medications should also, which is, are these pills really beneficial, or are they doing more harm than good?
Drug Discovery ‘Owes as Much to Serendipity as to Science’
Pill Poppers takes you on a journey through some of the most popular drugs in the world, from the ADHD drug Ritalin to drugs for erectile dysfunction, depression, pain and contraception.
It starts out by taking you into a lab at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where 2 million chemical compounds are kept in a vault. Scientists know little about their effects; each could be lethal or lifesaving.
Through a process that could be described as finding a needle in a haystack, scientists methodically introduce a known disease molecule to each of the 2 million substances, one at a time, and assess whether anything happens.
If ‘something’ happens, further tests are then conducted to find out what and why. Literally hundreds of millions of such tests are conducted, and it takes about $1 billion and an estimated 15 years of work to reach the ultimate goal: a licensed drug.
Despite what most are led to believe, just because the drug makes it through the regulatory process it’s no guarantee of safety. Typically, more information is learned about a drug after it’s been released to the market than before, because only then does it get the widespread exposure that clinical trials cannot simulate.
It’s usually after millions of people have already started taking a drug that severe, sometimes deadly, side effects are observed, but unfortunately for some, it will be realized too late. As stated in the documentary:
“Drugs are not designed but discovered, and we only find out what they really do to us when we take them.”
Patrick Vallance, the head of drug discovery at GSK, even said:1“In many ways you learn as much about your medicine after it’s launched as you knew before.”(Of course, GSK has also pleaded guilty to felony charges for knowingly manufacturing and selling adulterated drugs, a practice that adds even more of a ‘learning curve’ when drugs are released… )
The Effects of Many Medications Are Discovered by Mistake
Many people assume that the medications they’re taking are exerting carefully designed effects on specific biological pathways in their bodies. In reality, these effects were not designed but rather observed – often simply as a matter of sheer dumb luck – and the medication was then “discovered.” The erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, for instance, was originally developed to treat angina. That it led to increased erections was simply a surprise.
The ADHD drug Ritalin was also discovered by accident, as it was originally designed to treat adults with depression. We’re only now beginning to understand how this drug works, and what its long-term side effects entail, yet now it’s already morphing into a drug with another purpose: as a ‘study drug’ for people without ADHD. And this is only a short list.
“It turns out that Ventolin inhalers, a treatment for asthma, can also prevent premature labor; and arsenic, a notorious poison, is making a come back as a treatment for leukemia.”2
While these may sound like beneficial ‘mistakes,’ the surprises can work both ways. Often, drugmakers and scientists are ‘surprised’ to learn that their new blockbuster drug leads to unknown (or undisclosed) side effects, altering and disrupting far more functions in your body than was first realized. Viagra, for instance, can cause blue-green color blindness. And a commonly used class of diabetes drugs is now being investigated for causing pre-cancerous changes, while the antibiotic Zithromax (Z-Pak), may trigger lethal heart arrhythmias.
The truth is, no drug is side effect-free – a fact that many loyal pill takers are not aware of. These side effects are then often treated with… even more drugs, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Even GSK’s Vallance stated in the film:
“When you make a medicine you’re trying to disrupt a fundamental biological process. That’s a pretty profound change, you can’t do that without producing some unwanted effects — so then the question is, what risks are you prepared to take for what benefit?”
Creating Diseases to Fit the Treatments
Drug companies are masters at disease mongering — inventing non-existent diseases and exaggerating minor ones, with the end result making you rush to your doctor to request their drug solutions. It also misleads people into thinking drugs are the onlyoption for every ill. Viagra is a perfect example, as it was originally intended only for men with actual erectile dysfunction. Many men have an occasional problem in this area, and that is normal, but Viagra is marketed in a way that makes it appear as though it’s not.
Another blatant example of creating a market for a disease where none existed before is low female sex drive, or female sexual dysfunction, for which drug makers are actively seeking a ‘cure.’ One more example? In order to market its antidepressant Paxil, GSK hired a PR firm to create a public awareness campaign about an “under-diagnosed” disease.
The disease? Social anxiety disorder… previously known as shyness. You may have seen this campaign firsthand a couple of years back; ads stating “Imagine being allergic to people” were distributed widely, celebrities gave interviews to the press and psychiatrists gave lectures on this new disease in the top 25 media markets. As a result, mentions of social anxiety in the pressrose from about 50 to over 1 billion in just two years… social anxiety disorder became the “third most common mental illness” in the US… and Paxil skyrocketed to the top of the charts as one of the most profitable and most prescribed drugs in the US.
The Drug Industry Is Now Trying to Treat Not Just Diseases but Risk Factors
The drug market is saturated with drugs to treat existing diseases and many drug firms are now trying to create markets for new drugs via disease-mongering. But another way to drum up business, which the industry is fully embracing, is using drugs to treat diseases you don’t even have…
If you have a ‘risk’ of heart disease, for instance, which could apply to anyone aged 50 or over, you should be taking a statin, according to some ‘experts.’ Typically, statins are reserved for people considered to be at high risk of heart attack or stroke, usually (incorrectly) defined as someone with “high” cholesterol. The current value of the cholesterol-lowering drug industry is estimated at around $30 billion a year – but the pharmaceutical industry is still salivating at the thought of how big that number could get if statins could be prescribed to even more people. Alas, researchers came out with a study stating that even people atlow risk of heart problems should take statins!3
So even if you’re healthy, you still need to be popping pills to preserve your health, according to the drug industry. Millions of others take drugs for reasons outside of health, such as contraception, or rely on them for functions for which there are far better solutions, such as weight loss, sleep or, in the case of using ADHD drugs for studying, increased focus or energy. Yet, disease is not the result of a drug deficiency, nor will good health ever be the sole result of taking prescription drugs.
How to Avoid Becoming a ‘Pill Popper’
You don’t have to fall victim to the drug industry’s hype and find yourself taking a handful of pills every morning. Most chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are largely preventable with simple lifestyle changes. Even infectious diseases like the flu can often be warded off by a healthy way of life. As stated in Pill Poppers:
“The difference between a drug and a poison is basically the dose.”
On the other hand, staying well naturally, without the use of drugs or even frequent conventional medical care, is not only possible, it may be the most successful strategy you can employ to increase your longevity.
Consider Healthier Food Choices as a Better Option
For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods (vegetables, meats, raw dairy, nuts, and so forth) that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources, such as a small organic farm not far from your home. This is one of the most powerful physical interventions you can take to either prevent and/or treat disease.
For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw. Personally, I aim to eat about 80-85 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs that have not been raised on a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation). Nearly as important as knowing which foods to eat more of is knowing which foods to avoid, and topping the list is fructose. Sugar, andfructose in particular, acts as a toxin in and of itself, and as such drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of accelerated aging.
Comprehensive Exercise Program, Including High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness
Even if you’re eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including not only core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching but also high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. I’ve discussed the importance of Peak Fitness for your health on numerous occasions, so for more information, please review this previous article.
Stress Reduction and Positive Thinking
You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease — from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Effective coping mechanisms are a major longevity-promoting factor in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), meditation, prayer, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.
Proper Sun Exposure to Optimize Vitamin D
We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, and if at all possible, I strongly urge you to make sure you’re getting out in the sun on a daily basis. Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing numerous illnesses ranging fromcancer to the flu.
The important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level, which should ideally be between 50-70 ng/ml year-round. Sun exposure or a safe tanning bed is the preferred method for optimizing vitamin D levels, but a quality vitamin D3 supplement can be used (if you opt for this route, be sure you’re also optimizing your vitamin K). Most adults need about 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D a day to achieve serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is still just below the minimum recommended serum level of 50 ng/ml.
A few years before Super Size Me hit theaters in 2004, Dr. Paresh Dandona , a diabetes specialist in Buffalo, New York, set out to measure the body’s response to McDonald’s —specifically breakfast. Over several mornings, he fed nine normal-weight volunteers an egg sandwich with cheese and ham, a sausage muffin sandwich, and two hash brown patties.
Dandona is a professor at the State University of New York-Buffalo who also heads the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York, and what he observed has informed his research ever since. Levels of a C-reactive protein, an indicator of systemic inflammation, shot up “within literally minutes.” “I was shocked,” he recalls, that “a simple McDonald’s meal that seems harmless enough”—the sort of high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal that 1 in 4 Americans eats regularly—would have such a dramatic effect. And it lasted for hours.
Inflammation comes in many forms. The swelling of a sprained ankle indicates repairing torn muscle and tendon. The redness and pain around an infected cut signifies the body’s repulsion of microbes. The fever, aches, and pains that accompany the flu represent a body-wide seek-and-destroy mission directed against an invading virus. They’re all essential to survival, the body’s response to a perceived threat or injury. But inflammation can also cause collateral damage, especially when the response is overwhelming—like in septic shock—or when it goes on too long.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation has long been recognized as a feature of metabolic syndrome , a cluster of dysfunctions that tends to precede full-blown diabetes and that also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and even dementia—the top killers of the developed world. The syndrome includes a combination of elevated blood sugar and high blood pressure, low “good” cholesterol, and an abdominal cavity filled with fat, often indicated by a “beer belly.” But recently, doctors have begun to question whether chronic inflammation is more than just a symptom of metabolic syndrome: Could it, in fact, be a major cause?
For Dandona, who’s given to waxing grandiloquent about the joys of a beer on the porch in his native Delhi, or the superb ice wines from the Buffalo region, the results presented a quandary. Food was a great pleasure in life. Why would Nature be so cruel, he wondered, and punish us just for eating?
Over the next decade he tested the effects of various foods on the immune system. A fast-food breakfast inflamed, he found, but a high-fiber breakfast with lots of fruit did not. A breakthrough came in 2007  when he discovered that while sugar water, a stand-in for soda, caused inflammation, orange juice—even though it contains plenty of sugar—didn’t.
The Florida Department of Citrus, a state agency, was so excited it underwrote a subsequent study, and had fresh-squeezed orange juice flown in for it. This time, along with their two-sandwich, two-hash-brown, 910-calorie breakfast, one-third of his volunteers—10 in total—quaffed a glass of fresh OJ. The non-juice drinkers, half of whom drank sugar water, and the other half plain water, had the expected response—inflammation and elevated blood sugar. But the OJ drinkers had neither elevated blood sugar nor inflammation. The juice seemed to shield their metabolism. “It just switched off the whole damn thing,” Dandona says. Other scientists have since confirmed that OJ has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.
Orange juice is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, beneficial flavonoids, and small amounts of fiber, all of which may be directly anti-inflammatory. But what caught Dandona’s attention was another substance. Those subjects who ate just the McDonald’s breakfast had increased blood levels of a molecule called endotoxin. This molecule comes from the outer walls of certain bacteria. If endotoxin levels rise, our immune system perceives a threat and responds with inflammation.
If theories about the interplay of food and intestinal microbes pan out, it could help cure obesity and revolutionize the $66 billion weight loss industry.
Where had the endotoxin come from? One possibility was the food itself. But there was another possibility. We all carry a few pounds’ worth of microbes in our gut, a complex ecosystem collectively called the microbiota. The endotoxin, Dandona suspected, originated in this native colony of microbes. Somehow, a greasy meal full of refined carbohydrates ushered it from the gut, where it was always present but didn’t necessarily cause harm, into the bloodstream, where it did. But orange juice stopped that translocation cold.
Dandona’s ongoing experiments—and others like it—could upend much of we thought we knew about the causes of obesity, or just that extra pesky 10 pounds of flab. If what some scientists now suspect about the interplay of food and intestinal microbes pans out, it could revolutionize the $66 billion weight loss industry—and help control the soaring $2.7 trillion we spend on health care yearly. “What matters is not how much you eat,” Dandona says, “but what you eat.” EVER SINCE THE DUTCH DRAPER Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first scrutinized his own plaque  with a homemade microscope more than three centuries ago and discovered “little living animalcules, very prettily a-moving,” we’ve known that we’re covered in microbes. But as new and cheaper methods for studying these microbes have become available recently, their importance to our health has grown increasingly evident. Scientists now suspect that our microbial communities contribute to a number of diseases, from allergic disorders like asthma and hay fever, to inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, to cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
We are, numerically speaking, 10 percent human, and 90 percent microbe.
As newborns, we encounter our first microbes as we pass through the birth canal. Until that moment, we are 100 percent human. Thereafter, we are, numerically speaking, 10 percent human, and 90 percent microbe. Our microbiome contains at least 150 times more genes, collectively, than our human genome. Think of it as a hulking instruction manual compared to a single page to-do list.
As we mature, we pick up more microbes from breast milk, food, water, animals, soil, and other people. Sometime in childhood, the bustling community of between 500 and 1,000 species stabilizes. Some species are native only to humans, and may have been passed down within the family like heirlooms. Others are generalists—maybe they’ve hopped aboard from pets, livestock, and other animal sources.
A cluster of Enterobacter cloacae bacteria Eye of Science / Science Source
Most of our microbes inhabit the colon, the final loop of intestine, where they help us break down fibers, harvest calories, and protect us from micro-marauders. But they also do much, much more. Animals raised without microbes essentially lack a functioning immune system. Entire repertoires of white blood cells remain dormant; their intestines don’t develop the proper creases and crypts; their hearts are shrunken; genes in the brain that should be in the “off” position remain stuck “on.” Without their microbes, animals aren’t really “normal.”
What do we do for our microbes in return? Some scientists argue that mammals are really just mobile digestion chambers for bacteria. After all, your stool is roughly half living bacteria by weight. Every day, food goes in one end and microbes come out the other. The human gut is roughly 26 feet in length. Hammered flat, it would have a surface area of a tennis court. Seventy percent of our immune activity occurs there. The gut has its own nervous system; it contains as many neurons as the spinal cord. About 95 percent of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter usually discussed in the context of depression, is produced in the gut.
Children raised in microbially rich environments—with pets, on farms, or attending day care—are at lower risk of allergic diseases.
So the gut isn’t just where we absorb nutrients. It’s also an immune hub and a second brain. And it’s crawling with microbes. They don’t often cross the walls of the intestines into the blood stream, but they nevertheless change how the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems all work on the other side of the intestine wall.
Science isn’t always consistent about what, exactly, goes wrong with our microbes in disease situations. But a recurrent theme is that loss of diversity correlates with the emergence of illness. Children in the developing world have many more types of microbes than kids in Europe or North America, and yet generally develop allergies and asthma at lower rates than those in industrialized nations. In the developed world, children raised in microbially rich environments—with pets, on farms, or attending day care—have a lower risk of allergic disease than kids raised in more sterile environments.
Those who study human microbial communities fret that they are undergoing an extinction crisis similar to the one afflicting the biosphere at large—and that modern medicine may be partly to blame. Some studies find that babies born by C-section, deprived of their mother’s vaginal microbes at birth, have a higher risk of celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, and obesity. Early-life use of antibiotics—which tear through our microbial ecosystems like a forest fire—has also been linked to allergic disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity.
Which brings us to the question more and more scientists are asking: If our microbiota plays a role in keeping us healthy, then how about attacking disease by treating the microbiota? After all, our community of microbes is quite plastic. New members can arrive and take up residence. Old members can get flushed out. Member ratios can shift. The human genome, meanwhile, is comparatively stiff and unresponsive. So the microbiota represents a huge potential leverage point in our quest to treat, and prevent, chronic disease. In particular, the “forgotten organ,” as some call the microbiota, may hold the key to addressing our single greatest health threat: obesity. PARESH DANDONA LEFT INDIA in 1966 for a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. He became “the first colored guy,” he says, to head his unit at the University of London hospital. His bearing—heels together, back stiff, and an orator’s care with words delivered in a deep, sonorous voice—recalls a bygone era. He moved to Buffalo in 1991.
During those decades, the number of Americans considered obese nearly tripled. One-third of Americans are now considered overweight, and another third obese. Worldwide, one-fourth of humanity is too heavy, according to the World Health Organization. In 2011, the United Nations announced that for the first time ever, chronic diseases, most of which are linked to obesity, killed more people than infectious diseases. In the United States, obesity accounts for 20 percent of health care costs, according to Cornell University economists.
And the problems aren’t limited to the obese themselves: Children born to obese mothers have hardened arteries at birth, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They have a greater risk of asthma. Some studies suggest they’re more likely to suffer from attention deficit disorders and autism.
Why are we increasingly prone to obesity? The long-dominant explanation is simply that too little exercise and too many calories equals too much stored fat. The solution: more exercise and a lot more willpower. But there’s a problem with this theory: In the developed world, most of us consume more calories than we really need, but we don’t gain weight proportionally.
A pound of body fat contains roughly 3,500 calories. If you run a daily surplus of just 500 calories—the amount in a bagel with a generous serving of cream cheese—you should, judging by the strict calorie-in-must-equal-calorie-out model, gain a pound of fat per week. Most of us do run a surplus in that range, or even higher, but we either gain weight much more slowly, or don’t gain weight at all.
Some corpulent people, meanwhile, have metabolisms that work fine. Their insulin and blood sugar levels are within normal range. Their livers are healthy, not marbled with fat. And some thin people have metabolic syndrome, often signaled by a beer gut. They suffer from fatty liver, insulin resistance, elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure, and low-grade, systemic inflammation. From a public health perspective, these symptoms are where the real problem lies—not necessarily how well we fit into our jeans.
Inflammation might not be a symptom of metabolic syndrome: It could be a cause.
Here’s the traditional understanding of metabolic syndrome: You ate too much refined food sopped in grease. Calories flooded your body. Usually, a hormone called insulin would help your cells absorb these calories for use. But the sheer overabundance of energy in this case overwhelms your cells. They stop responding to insulin. To compensate, your pancreas begins cranking out more insulin. When the pancreas finally collapses from exhaustion, you have diabetes. In addition, you develop resistance to another hormone called leptin, which signals satiety, or fullness. So you tend to overeat. Meanwhile, fat cells, which have become bloated and stressed as they try to store the excess calories,begin emitting a danger signal—low-grade inflammation.
But new research suggest another scenario: Inflammation might not be a symptom, it could be a cause. According to this theory, it is the immune activation caused by lousy food that prompts insulin and leptin resistance. Sugar builds up in your blood. Insulin increases. Your liver and pancreas strain to keep up. All because the loudly blaring danger signal—the inflammation—hampers your cells’ ability to respond to hormonal signals. Maybe the most dramatic evidence in support of this idea comes from experiments where scientists quash inflammation in animals. If you simply increase the number of white blood cells that alleviate inflammation—called regulatory T-cells—in obese mice with metabolic syndrome, the whole syndrome fades away. Deal with the inflammation, it seems, and you halt the dysfunction.
Now, on the face of it, it seems odd that a little inflammation should have such a great impact on energy regulation. But consider: This is about apportioning a limited resource exactly where it’s needed, when it’s needed. When not under threat, the body uses energy for housekeeping and maintenance—and, if you’re lucky, procreation, an optimistic, future-oriented activity. But when a threat arrives—a measles virus, say—you reprioritize. All that hormone-regulated activity declines to a bare minimum. Your body institutes a version of World War II rationing: troops (white blood cells) and resources (calories) are redirected toward the threat. Nonessential tasks, including the production of testosterone, shut down. Forget tomorrow. The priority is to preserve the self today.
This, some think, is the evolutionary reason for insulin resistance. Cells in the body stop absorbing sugar because the fuel is required—requisitioned, really—by armies of white blood cells. The problems arise when that emergency response, crucial to repelling pillagers in the short term, drags on indefinitely. Imagine it this way. Your dinner is cooking on the stove. You’re paying bills. You smell smoke. You jump up, leaving those tasks half-done, and search for the fire before it burns down your house. Normally, once you put the fire out, you’d return to your tasks and then eat dinner.
Junk food may not kill us directly, but rather by prompting the collapse of an ancient and mutually beneficial symbiosis.
But now imagine that you never find the fire, and you never stop smelling the smoke. You remain in a perpetual state of alarm. Your bills never get paid. You never eat your dinner. Your house smolders. Your life falls into disarray.
That’s metabolic syndrome. Normal function ceases. Aging accelerates. Diabetes develops. Heart attacks strike. The brain degenerates. Life ends early. And it’s all driven, in this understanding, by chronic, low-grade inflammation.
Where does the perceived threat come from—all that inflammation? Some ingested fats are directly inflammatory. And dumping a huge amount of calories into the bloodstream from any source, be it fat or sugar, may overwhelm and inflame cells. But another source of inflammation is hidden in plain sight, the 100 trillion microbes inhabiting your gut. Junk food, it turns out, may not kill us entirely directly, but rather by prompting the collapse of an ancient and mutually beneficial symbiosis, and turning a once cooperative relationship adversarial.
We’re already familiar with a version of this dynamic : cavities. Tooth decay is as old as teeth, but it intensified with increased consumption of refined carbohydrates, like sugar, just before and during the industrial revolution. Before cheap sugar became widely available, plaque microbes probably occupied the warm and inviting ecological niche of your mouth more peaceably. But dump a load of sugar on them, and certain species expand exponentially. Their by-product—acid—which, in normal amounts, protects you from foreign bacteria—now corrodes your teeth. A once cooperative relationship becomes antagonistic.
Something similar may occur with our gut microbes when they’re exposed to the highly refined, sweet, and greasy junk-food diet. They may turn against us. A DECADE AGO, microbiologists at Washington University in St. Louis noticed that mice raised without any microbes, in plastic bubbles with positive air pressure, could gorge on food without developing metabolic syndrome  or growing obese. But when colonized with their native microbes, these mice quickly became insulin resistant and grew fat, all while eating less food than their germ-free counterparts.
The researchers surmised that the microbes helped the rodents harvest energy from food. The mice, which then had more calories than they needed, stored the surplus as fat. But across the Atlantic, Patrice Cani  at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, suspected that inflammation contributed, and that the inflammation emanated from native microbes.
To prove the principle, he gave mice a low dose of endotoxin , that molecule that resides in the outer walls of certain bacteria. The mice’s livers became insulin resistant; the mice became obese and developed diabetes. A high-fat diet alone produced the same result: Endotoxin leaked into circulation; inflammation took hold; the mice grew fat and diabetic. Then came the bombshell. The mere addition of soluble plant fibers  called oligosaccharides, found in things like bananas, garlic, and asparagus, prevented the entire cascade—no endotoxin, no inflammation, and no diabetes.
“If we take care of our gut microbiota, it will take care of our health,” says one researcher. “I like to finish my talks with one sentence: ‘In gut we trust.'”
Oligosaccharides are one form of what’s known as a “prebiotic”: fibers that, because they make it all the way to the colon intact, feed, as it were, the bacteria that live there. One reason we’ve evolved to house microbes at all is because they “digest” these fibers by fermenting them, breaking them down and allowing us to utilize their healthful byproducts, like acetic acid, butyric acid, B vitamins, and vitamin K.
Cani had essentially arrived at the same place as Dandona with his freshly squeezed orange juice. Only his controlled animal experiments allowed a clearer understanding of the mechanisms. Junk food caused nasty microbes to bloom, and friendly bugs to decline. Permeability of the gut also increased, meaning that microbial byproducts—like that endotoxin—could more easily leak into circulation, and spur inflammation. Simply adding prebiotics enjoyed by a select group of microbes—in this case, Bifidobacteria—kept the gut tightly sealed, preventing the entire cascade. The fortified bacteria acted like crowd-control police, keeping the rest of the microbial mob from storming the barrier.
“If we take care of our gut microbiota, it will take care of our health,” Cani says. “I like to finish my talks with one sentence: ‘In gut we trust.'”
So our sweet and greasy diet—almost certainly without evolutionary precedent—doesn’t just kill us directly: It also changes gut permeability and alters the makeup of our microbial organ. Our “friendly” community of microbes becomes unfriendly, even downright pathogenic, leaking noxious byproducts where they don’t belong. H.G. Wells would be proud of this story—the mighty Homo sapiens felled by microscopic life turned toxic by junk food. It’s nothing personal; the bugs that bloom with an energy-dense diet may act in their own self-interest. They want more of that food sweet, fatty food on which they thrive. AROUND THE TIME when Paresh Dandona began puzzling over the immune response to a fast-food breakfast, a Chinese microbiologist named Liping Zhao was realizing that he needed to change how he ate, or he might drop dead. He was 44 pounds overweight, his blood pressure was elevated, and his “bad” cholesterol was high.
He caught wind of the studies at Washington University in St. Louis suggesting that microbes were central to obesity. The research jibed with ancient precepts in Chinese medicine that viewed the gut as central to health. So Zhao decided on a hybridized approach—some 21st-century microbiology topped with traditional Chinese medicine.
He changed his diet to whole grains, rich in those prebiotic fibers important for beneficial bacteria. And he began regularly consuming two traditional medicinal foods thought to have such properties: bitter melon and Chinese yam.
Zhao’s blood pressure began normalizing and his “bad” cholesterol declined. Over the course of two years, he lost 44 pounds. He sampled his microbes throughout. As his metabolism normalized, quantities of a bacterium calledFaecalibacterium prausnitzii increased in his gut. Was its appearance cause or consequence? Others have observed that this bacterium is absent in people suffering from inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes. Scientists at the University of Tokyo have shown that colonizing mice with this bacterium and its relatives—called “Clostridium clusters”—protects them against colitis. But still, evidence of causation was lacking.
Then one day in 2008, a morbidly obese man walked into Zhao’s lab in China . The 26-year-old was diabetic, inflamed, had high bad cholesterol, and elevated blood sugar. No one in his immediate family was heavy, but he weighed 385 pounds.
Aided by a high fat diet, the microbe appeared able to hijack the metabolism of both mice and man.
Zhao noticed something odd about the man’s microbes. Thirty-five percent belonged to a single, endotoxin-producing species called Enterobacter cloacae. So he put the man on a version of his own regimen—whole grains supplemented with other prebiotics. As treatment progressed, the Enterobacter cloacae declined, as did circulating endotoxin and markers of inflammation.
After 23 weeks, the man had lost 113 pounds. That bacterial bloom had receded to the point of being undetectable. Counts of anti-inflammatory bacteria—microbes that specialize in fermenting nondigestible fibers—had increased. But could Zhao prove that these microbial changes caused anything? After all, the regimen may have simply contained far fewer calories than the patient’s previous diet.
So Zhao introduced the Enterobacter into mice. They developed endotoxemia, fattened up and became diabetic—but only when eating a high fat diet. Mice colonized with bifidobacteria and fed a high fat diet, meanwhile, remained lean, as did germ-free mice. The enterobacter was evidently unique, an opportunist. Aided by a high fat diet, the microbe appeared able to hijack the metabolism of both mice and man.
Zhao, who related his own story to Science  last year, has repeated a version of this regimen in at least 90 subjects, achieved similar improvements, and has more than 1,000 patients in ongoing trials. He declined to be interviewed for this article, saying that the response to his research, both by press and individuals seeking advice, had been overwhelming. “I receive too many emails to ask for help but I can not provide much,” he wrote in an email. “I feel very bad about this and would like to concentrate on my research.”
There’s a flood of what you might call “fecoprospectors” seeking to catalog and preserve microbial diversity before it is lost in the extinction wave sweeping the globe.
Other researchers have tried an even more radical approach to treating the microbiome: the fecal transplant. It was originally developed to treat the potentially life-threatening gut infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile. Studies so far suggest that it’s 95 percent effective in ousting C. diff. and has no major side effects. “Fecal engraftment” is now being considered a method for rebooting microbiota generally. Scientists at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam mixed stool from lean donors with saline solution and, via a tube that passed through the nose, down the throat and past the stomach, introduced the mixture to the small intestine of nine patients with metabolic syndrome. Control subjects received infusions of their own feces.
Those who received “lean” microbes saw improvements in insulin sensitivity , though they didn’t lose weight and saw the improvements disappear within a year. But Max Nieuwdorp, senior author on the study, aims to conduct the procedure repeatedly to see if the “lean” microbes will stick. And when he’s identified which are important, he hopes to create an anti-obesity “probiotic”to be taken orally.
Probiotics are just bacteria thought to be beneficial, like the lactobacilli and other bacteria in some yogurts.In the future probiotics might be bacteria derived from those found in Amazonian Indians, rural Africans, even the Amish—people, in other words, who retain a microbial diversity that the rest of us may have lost. Already, the literature suggests that a gold rush has begun—a flood of what you might call “fecoprospectors” seeking to catalog and preserve the diversity and richness of the ancestral microbiota before it is lost in the extinction wave sweeping the globe.
Ultimately, the strongest evidence to support microbial involvement in obesity may come from a procedure that, on the face of it, has nothing to do with microbes: gastric bypass surgery. The surgery, which involves creating a detour around the stomach, is the most effective intervention for morbid obesity—far more effective than dieting.
Originally, scientists thought it worked by limiting food consumption. But it’s increasingly obvious that’s not how the procedure works. The surgery somehow changes expression of thousands of genes in organs throughout the body, resetting the entire metabolism. In March, Lee Kaplan , director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center in Boston, published a study in Science Translational Medicine showing a substantial microbial contribution to that resetting .
He began with three sets obese mice, all on a high-fat diet. The first set received a sham operation—an incision in the intestine that didn’t really change much, but was meant to control for the possibility that trauma alone could cause weight loss. These mice then resumed their high fat diet. A second set also received a sham operation, but was put on a calorically restricted diet. The third group received gastric bypass surgery, but was then allowed to eat as it pleased.
As expected, both the bypass mice and dieted mice lost weight.But only the bypass mice showed normalization of insulin and glucose levels. Without that normalization, says Kaplan, mice and people alike inevitably regain lost weight.
“I won’t argue that all the effects of the gastric bypass can be transferred by the microbiota. What we’ve found is the first evidence that any can.”
To test the microbial contribution to these outcomes, Kaplan transplanted the microbiota from each set to germ-free mice. Only rodents colonized with microbes from the bypass mice lost weight, while actually eating more than mice colonized with microbes from the other groups.
In humans, some studies show a rebound of anti-inflammatory bacteria after gastric-bypass surgery. Dandona has also noted a decline in circulating endotoxin after the procedure. “I would never argue, and won’t argue, that all the effects of the gastric bypass can be transferred by the microbiota,” says Kaplan. “What we’ve found is the first evidence that any can. And these ‘any’ are pretty impressive.” If we understand the mechanism by which the microbiota shifts, he says, perhaps we can induce the changes without surgery. NOW, NOT EVERYONE ACCEPTS that inflammation drives metabolic syndrome and obesity. And even among the idea’s proponents, no one claims that all inflammation emanates from the microbiota. Moreover, if you accept that inflammation contributes to obesity, then you’re obligated to consider all the many ways to become inflamed. The odd thing is, many of them are already implicated in obesity.
Particulate pollution from tailpipes and factories, linked to asthma, heart disease, and obesity, is known to be a cause of inflammation. So is chronic stress. And risk factors may interact with each other: In macaque troops, the high-ranking females, which experience less stress, can eat more junk food without developing metabolic syndrome than the more stressed, lower-ranking females. Epidemiologists have made similar observations in humans. Poorer people suffer the consequences of lousy dietary habits more than do those who are wealthier. The scientists who study this phenomenon call it “status syndrome.”
Exercise, meanwhile, is anti-inflammatory, which may explain why a brisk walk can immediately improve insulin sensitivity. Exercise may also fortify healthy brown fat, which burns off calories rather than storing them, like white fat does. This relationship may explain how physical activity really helps us lose weight. Yes, exercise burns calories, but the amount is often trivial. Just compensating for that bagel you ate for breakfast—roughly 290 calories—requires a 20-minute jog. And that’s not counting any cream cheese. Sleep deprivation may have the opposite effect, favoring white fat over brown, and altering the metabolism.
Brain inflammation precedes weight gain, suggesting that the injury might cause, or at least contribute to, obesity.
Then there’s the brain. Michael Schwartz , director of the Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence at the University of Washington in Seattle, has found that the appetite regulation center of the brain—the hypothalamus—is often inflamed and damaged in obese people . He can reproduce this damage by feeding mice a high-fat diet; chronic consumption of junk food, it seems, injures this region of the brain. Crucially, the brain inflammation precedes weight gain, suggesting that the injury might cause, or at least contribute to, obesity. In other words, by melting down our appetite control centers, junk food may accelerate its own consumption, sending us into a kind of vicious cycle where we consume more of the poison wreaking havoc on our physiology.
Of course there’s a genetic contribution to obesity. But even here, inflammation rears its head. Some studies suggest that gene variants that increase aspects of immune firepower are over-represented among obese individuals. In past environments, these genes probably helped us fight off infections. In the context of today’s diet, however, they may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Whether inflammation drives obesity or just contributes, how much of it emanates from our microbiota, or even whether it causes weight gain, or results from it—these are still somewhat open questions. But it is clear that chronic, low-grade inflammation, wherever it comes from, is unhealthy. And as Dandona discovered all those years ago, food can be either pro- or anti-inflammatory. Which brings us back to the question: What should we eat? FIFTY YEARS AGO, due to the perceived link with heart disease, nutritionists cautioned against consuming animal fats and recommended hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as margarine, instead. Alas, it turned out that these fats may encourage the formation of arterial plaques, while some fats that were discarded—in fish and olive oil, for example—seem to prevent cardiovascular disease and obesity.
As people unwittingly cut out healthy fats, they compensated by consuming more sugar and other refined carbohydrates. But a high-sugar diet can produce endotoxemia, fatty liver, and metabolic syndrome in animals. So that’s yet another reason to avoid refined, sugary foods.
What about popular weight loss regimes, like the Atkins diet, that emphasize protein? In a 2011 study  by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, 17 obese men were given a high-protein, low-carb diet. It prompted a decline of anti-inflammatory microbes, whose fermentation byproducts are critical to colonic health, and produced a microbial profile associated with colon cancer. So although it may prompt rapid weight loss, a high-protein, low-carb diet may predispose people to colon cancer. In the rodent version of this experiment, the addition of a prebiotic starch blunted the carcinogenic effect. Again, it’s not only what’s present in your diet that matters, but also what’s absent.
So, should we sprinkle a packet of fiber on our cheeseburger? Dandona has looked at this possibility and says that though this study has not yet been published, he’s found that packeted fiber does, when eaten with a fast-food meal, soften the food’s inflammatory effects. Fast-food companies could, in theory, pack their buns full of prebiotics, shielding their customers somewhat from metabolic syndrome.
But that’s not really what Dandona or anyone else is advocating. The pill approach—the idea that we can capture a cure in a gel cap—may be part of what got us in trouble to begin with. Natural variety and complexity have their own value, both for our own bodies and for our microbes. This may explain why orange juice, which contains plenty of sugur, doesn’t have inflammatory effects while a calorically equivalent quantity of sugar water does. Flavonoids, other phytochemicals, vitamins, the small amount of fiber it carries, and other things we have yet to quantify may all be protective.
Fast-food companies could, in theory, pack their buns full of prebiotics, shielding their customers somewhat from metabolic syndrome.
To that end, consider a study by Jens Walter  (PDF), a scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He supplemented the diet of 28 volunteers with either brown rice, barley, or both. Otherwise, they continued eating their usual fare. After four weeks, those who consumed both grains saw increased counts of anti-inflammatory bacteria, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation—more so than subjects who just had one grain. Walter doesn’t think it’s an accident that those who ate both barley and brown rice saw the greatest improvement. The combination likely presented microbes with the largest array of fermentable fibers.
Scientists are also intensely interested in concocting “synbiotics,” a mixture of probiotic bacteria and the prebiotic fibers that feed them. This type of combination may already exist in staple dishes and garnishes, from sauerkraut to kefir, in traditional cuisines the world over. In theory, such unpasteurized, fermented foods that retain their microbial communities are a health-producing triple whammy, containing prebiotic fibers, probiotic bacteria, and healthful fermentation byproducts like vitimins B and K. A smattering of recent studies suggest that embracing such grub could protect against metabolic syndrome. In one monthlong trial on 22 overweight South Koreans , unpasteurized fermented kimchi, which is made from cabbage, improved markers of inflammation and caused very minor decreases in body fat. Fresh, unfermented kimchi also helped, but not as much. In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 30 South Koreans , a pill of fermented soybean paste eaten daily for 12 weeks decreased that deadly visceral fat by 5 percent. Triglycerides, a risk factor for heart attacks, also declined. An epidemiological study, meanwhile, found that consumption of rice and kimchi cut the odds of metabolic syndrome. It all hints at a future where sauerkraut, kimchi, sour pickles, and other fermented foods that contain live microbial cultures do double duty as anti-obesity medicine.
So what else to eat? Onions and garlic are especially rich in the prebiotic fiber inulin, which selectively feeds good bacteria within. Potatoes, bananas, and yams carry loads of digestion-resistant starches. Apples and oranges carry a healthy serving of polysaccharides (another form of prebiotic). Nuts and whole grains do as well. Don’t forget your cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) and legumes. There’s no magic vegetable. Yes, some plant products are extra rich in prebiotics—the Jerusalem artichoke, for example—but really, these fibers abound in plants generally, and for a simple reason: Plants store energy in them. That’s why they’re resistant to degradation. They’re designed to last. (For more on what foods to eat, see “Should I Take A Probiotic? ”)
The very qualities that improve palatability and lengthen shelf life—high sugar content, fats that resist turning rancid, and a lack of organic complexity—make refined foods toxic to your key microbes. Biologically simple, processed foods may cultivate a toxic microbial community, not unlike the algal blooms that result in oceanic “dead zones.”
In fact, scientists really do observe a dead zone of sorts when they peer into the obese microbiota. Microbes naturally form communities. In obese people, not only are anti-inflammatory microbes relatively scarce, diversity in general is depleted, and community structure degraded. Microbes that, in ecological parlance, we might call weedy species—the rats and cockroaches of your inner world—scurry around unimpeded. What’s the lesson? Junk food may produce a kind of microbial anarchy. Opportunists flourish as the greater structure collapses. Cooperative members get pushed aside. And you, who both contain and depend on the entire ecosystem, pay the price.
HPV4 Gardasil & HPV 2 Cervarix – Adverse Reactions and Deaths as reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System
Janny Stokvis, HPV Vaccine VAERS researcher and analyst has compiled that latest adverse events from the HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix as reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. It is estimated only 1 to 10% of the vaccine injured are reporting. Please note the significant number of girls reporting abnormal pap smears, cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Remember most women do not get cervical cancer until their 50′s or even older. The reports here are for girls ages 9 to 26 – the market the vaccines were approved for.
In just over two months – almost 1,000 new reports of adverse reactions from the HPV vaccines – Gardasil and Cervarix.
August 17, 2012 – Notice that three more deaths have been reported to VAERS in the past 30 days. There have been 236 more adverse events reported since June – 1 more case of cervical cancer, 3 more abnormal pap smears, and 2 more reports of cervical dysplasia.
Adverse Events Reported To VAERS from HPV 4 Gardasil and HPV 2 Cevarix include – but are not limited to:
I sent the corrections that were edited on the letter editor. I hope it sent OK. To answer the questions, the numbers when divided on a calculator give the result shown. And the number of atoms is obtained by taking the mass per mass (i.e. ppm = mg/Kg) and dividing 1000 to get g/Kg and then dividing by the molar mass to get the imoles and then multiplying by Avogadro’s number to get atoms.
Department of Pediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Vaccination rates must be kept high to prevent epidemics of infectious disease. At the same time, parents must be informed of the rare possibility of serious adverse effects, including seizure and allergic reaction. Every physician who administers vaccine therefore needs to become familiar with the reactions that may occur with each immunologic agent used. The best safeguard against litigation, when and if a serious reaction follows vaccination, is the indication that these considerations were discussed and that an informed choice was made.
PREVENTING CAVITIES IN WAYS OTHER THAN USING FLUORIDE
More and more people are coming to the conclusion that we should not be drinking and eating fluoride.
Some still believe that applying fluoride topically is the best way to prevent tooth decay. I disagree. I say we should avoid all fluoride.
We are not doing anything to instruct people about the other things they could be doing for their teeth. To get them to stop fluoridating and using fluoridated toothpaste, we ought to tell them what else they could do for their teeth that would be better than fluoride.
Weston was right on several points. About processed foods – white flour, phosphate rising powders, cereal, sugar, jam, corn syrup, vegetable oils and canned milk. About eating grains. We did not evolve to eat unsprouted grains.
And he was half way right about raw milk. It is better than commercial milk. But it is still for calves. There is calcium in the milk but it is calcium phosphate. We do not need more phosphate. Cow milk has no magnesium, no potassium, no iron, and no essential fatty acids. It is a totally different composition than mother’s milk. Nature leaves those things out of cow’s milk because they are found in the grass which calves start eating shortly after birth. And milk has too much protein. Too much protein is just as much a problem as too little. Most get far too much protein.
Raw milk is better than commercial milk, and people should have the right to produce and buy and sell it. But in this era of tenacious microbes, I suggest you boil it first, as do the Indians. Better yet, avoid it too. It uses up your caloric allotment and gives you none of the nutrients you need along with too much protein.
When it comes to a meat centered diet, there is a problem with returning to an originalist Weston Price diet: The food is not available. You will not find lean, healthy organic meat in any significant quantity at a price that most people can afford. The bad money drives out the good, and the cheap meat drives out the expensive. Even hunted meat can be polluted because wild animals can go everywhere and eat grains treated with pesticide. Wild animals can be infected with the wasting “mad cow” diseases. Hunted meat is very expensive when you factor in the cost of guns, licenses, travel, and clothing. Weston says to eat organs, but we know that the body stores things it cannot excrete in the organs.
The meat that the aborigines of Borneo ate with Weston is not available today.
Commercial animals are fed phosphate fertilizer, and so their meat contains more FLUORIDE. Commercial chickens are fed ARSENIC.
Fish has DHA and vitamin D. Unfortunately we treat the oceans both as our grocery store and our sewer. We have polluted our salmon and tuna with mercury and our filter feeders with PCBs.
We have over populated the planet and we no longer have the right to eat “high on the hog”.
Weston was right on another point: If you want to eat meat, eat insects, as low on the food chain as possible.
Any grains should be sprouted to get rid of the phitates in the hulls. That’s the problem with bread made from flour.
The key to healthy teeth is eating a lot of fruits, nuts, and vegetables, rich in minerals, and avoiding processed foods, including as you said white flour, phosphate rising powders, cereal, sugar, jam, corn syrup, vegetable oils and canned milk.
And if you have to eat meat, it should be an occasional condiment not the main course three times a day. We eat a lot more meat now than we did before refrigeration. A large part of the diet of Australian aborigines and African bushmen is vegetables.
Too much meat and milk and eggs acidifies blood and requires that calcium be pulled out of bones. Blood pH cannot vary much.
During the winter or if you live in an apartment, sprout lentils, mung, spelt, wheat, beans.
The problems with an all vegetable diet are:
No DHA, which some cannot manufacture out of flax if they are sickly.
No B-12, which must be supplemented with nutritional yeast.
No vitamin D, and there is not enough sun in Seattle. Take D-2 supplements and take twice as much.
If you want to go Weston, raise chickens in your backyard and eat their eggs and the roosters. And eat that aphid encrusted kale in the Spring. That’s the closest you can come in an environmentally responsible way.
I have been a strict vegan for 30 years. Note that I am not dead yet, as Weston would imply I should be.
However, I do not expect others to be so extreme. I do the vegan thing for religious and environmental reasons.
But I have figured out that the world is not going to switch to veganism any time soon.
Veganism is not the solution for everyone. Nor is the Weston Price diet.
I renew another question:
Is it possible that the explanation for the drop in tooth decay generally is that occasionally children and adults are administered rounds of antibiotics to fight colds? Would general antibiotics also kills tooth decay germs such as mutans streptococci and lactobacilli?
Does the drop in tooth decay correlate inversely with the rise in use of antibiotics?
People will ask, well if fluoride is not good for teeth, what is good for teeth?
Not eating sugar, bread, pasta, and what else?
Is the sugar in fruit bad for teeth?
Calcium and magnesium supplements?
Tiny tooth brushes for cleaning between teeth
Brushing after eating with non-fluoridated toothpaste
Eating more vegetables – rich in calcium
Eating less animal products which acidifies blood and sucks calcium out of bones?
Chewing xylitol gum?
Antibiotic mouthwash (referred to by Featherstone)?
Hypothesis: Is it possible that the explanation for the drop in tooth decay generally is that occasionally children and adults are administered rounds of antibiotics to fight a cold? Which also kills tooth decay germs?
Does the drop in tooth decay mirror the rise of antibiotics?
Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist and root canal specialist in Cleveland in the 1930s and wondered many of the same things. Like many of his time and today, he thought vegetarian diet with lots of fibre from whole grains was the healthiest diet for humans. He really wanted this to be proven. But more than a dentist, he was one of those lateral thinkers with a truly scientific mind. Dentistry as a profession was changing from extractions towards prevention, hygiene, and preserving decayed teeth with fillings, root canals and crowns. He was concerned about the increase in numbers of child patients with worse decay than ever. In fact his own child died from infection after a root canal on a decayed tooth. This devastated him of course. It made him rethink whether dentistry should be focused on saving teeth with technofixes. He thought rotten teeth might be caused by the civilized diet – especially white flour, phosphate rising powders, cereal, sugar, jam, corn syrup, vegetable oils and canned milk. Note that many of these processed foods are quite high in fluoride. Phosphate baking powders in particular supply both aluminum and fluoride.
So on his yearly vacations, he decided to search the world for so called primitive cultures not exposed to these foods and examine their diet and health. He took meticulous notes, sent food samples back to his lab for analysis of nutrients, did dental exams, and took thousands of photos. His tome is called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and is available from the Price Pottenger Foundation of California. It has been reprinted numerous times. He was first enamoured of fluoride due to the propaganda of the time, and then disillusioned when his scientific data certainly did not match any of the claims.
Price was surprised to learn that diets rich in animal fats and proteins, especially organ meats such as liver, and animal source minerals especially bone and gelatine broths, sea food and milk products, with the lowest intake of agricultural grains and legumes produced the healthiest peoples with the best teeth and bones, from the Arctic to the southern Kalahari. No vegans. None of these people cleaned their teeth but they had beautiful, white, strong enamel and 32 teeth in perfect alignment in broad jaws. Except for the Swiss village where some of the kids had green slime on their teeth but no cavities or gum disease (must have been chlorophyll producing probiotic strains!) Healthy cultures that included grains and legumes had elaborate methods of soaking, fermentation and phytate removal before eating, and these foods were cooked with meat, bones, lard or fish or served with eggs or insect larvae rich in fats. Cultures that depended mostly on grains had poor dental health, smaller stature and weak bones. But wherever a settlement had been exposed to modern processed foods that displaced the local traditional foods, there was an immediate decline in the physical health and appearance of the children born after that time, with malformed faces, decayed teeth, rickets and TB. It was quite dramatic.
One of the few fluoridation studies that controlled for some nutrition variables was done right here in the Toronto area by Dick Ito who is now one of the most aggressive pro-fluoridation public health politicians (not elected and not accountable to us, of course). It showed that the most significant factor in childhood dental decay in Brampton (fluoridated) vs. Caledon (not) was whether the kid was taking a daily multi vitamin-mineral supplement. Ito’s conclusion says fluoridation benefit was not evident at all but dental fluorosis was higher in Brampton. Duh. Ito pretends not to hear you when you question him about this previous research. I am sure he would remove his name from the study if he could, given his political stature now, but it’s on PubMed.
To combat the rise in childhood obesity, Congress in 2009 asked the Federal Trade Commission and three other government agencies to create voluntary nutritional standards for foods that are marketed to children. In April, the interagency group released sound recommendations to guide self-regulation by the food industry.
After public comment, however, an F.T.C. official recently told a House subcommittee that the agency would substantially modify the guidelines to account for industry complaints. That would be bad news for the health of children in this country.
Lobbyists for the food industry, which spends almost $2 billion a year on advertising and marketing to children and adolescents, have been busy in recent months trying to squash the voluntary standards. Although these standards would not be enforceable, there is value to having a good set of criteria that could guide the industry.
The interagency group’s original proposal outlined limits on the amount of unhealthful ingredients like added sugars and trans fat in foods advertised to children and proposed increased nutritious ingredients like whole grains and low-fat dairy products. It covered marketing to young people ages 2 through 17 and focused on 10 food categories that take up a big share of children’s diets, including sugary cereals, snack foods, candy, carbonated beverages and fast foods.
Now the F.T.C. staff says the guidelines should not apply to ads directed at adolescents ages 12 through 17, except in in-school marketing activities. They also said the voluntary standards would not cover seasonal candies.
While a few companies like Mars and Hershey have limited commercials for candy or other sweets to very young children, the industry’s self-policing efforts have been weak. One study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that ads for unhealthy foods accounted for 86 percent of the food ads on television and the Web in 2009, only a modest improvement from 94 percent in 2003. Instead of giving in to lobbyists, the Obama administration should be doing more to limit the way unhealthy foods are sold to children.
Former health official says H1N1 scare shows what pushes people to get needed shots
By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) — Sometimes a little fear might be a good thing.
To run an effective public vaccination program, you’ve got to make sure that adequate amounts of the vaccine are available and there are enough staff members to administer it, said Dr. Adewale Troutman, director of the public health practice program at the University of South Florida, who, until recently, headed the Department of Public Health and Wellness in Louisville.
You also have to figure out when the public will be available to come get the vaccinations you offer.
And, of course, you need to make sure they are properly frightened.
Fear has proven to be the most potent motivator in getting people to not shrug off important immunizations, like an annual flu shot, Troutman said.
“The influenza vaccine is really an important immunization that people discount because, ehh, it’s just the flu,” he said. “But tens of thousands of people die every year from the flu.”
That changed with the H1N1 scare, when public health officials were concerned that a very potent strain of the flu would combine with scarce amounts of vaccine to create an epidemic. “If it turned out to be a very virulent virus, it could have been disastrous,” Troutman said.
The public got the message and flooded locales that were offering flu shots.
“H1N1 resonated because I think people were afraid of it,” Troutman said. “Once the fear message got out there, people became concerned about potential shortages of the vaccine. We literally had staff from all over the department doing extra time to make vaccinations available.”
Another motivator for some people, mainly senior citizens, can be the cost of the vaccination, he said.
For example, health departments may offer a shingles vaccine at a very low cost, but only as long as supplies last. When they run out, seniors have to go to their doctors to get a more expensive shot.
“So there’s a cost motivation for people to come get the shot from the health department,” Troutman said.
Once the public is motivated, public health officials then have to make sure they have enough vaccine on hand to treat everyone. “There seem to always be different levels of availability,” he said. “It’s always a concern: Is there going to be enough vaccine to go around this year?” Then there need to be enough staff members available to apply all the shots.
Once the resources are set and events are timed to the public’s convenience, public health directors then start pressing the public to get vaccinated, by writing op-ed articles and doing radio and television interviews — but knowing all the while that there’s a small number of people who don’t believe in immunization. Instead, they believe that vaccines are harmful.
“You probably can’t change their mind,” Troutman said. “They don’t accept the science. They don’t accept your expertise. The just believe what they believe.”
But to reach the majority of adults who accept the concept but don’t always act on it, “you talk as much as you can,” he said. “You push as hard as you can.”
A companion article on adult vaccinations offers details on who should get what, when and why.
SOURCE: Adewale Troutman, M.D., M.P.H., director, public health practice program, University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
Department of Biochemistry, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland. email@example.com
Insulin autoantibodies (IAAs) often appear as the first sign of islet cell autoimmunity in prediabetic children. Because cow’s milk contains bovine insulin, we followed the development of insulin-binding antibodies in children fed with cow’s milk formula. Bovine insulin- and human insulin-binding antibodies by enzyme immunoassay and IAA by radioimmunoassay were analyzed in 200 infants carrying HLA-DQB1*0302 but no protective alleles who participated in a Finnish population-based birth-cohort study. Based on the prospectively registered information, the first 100 infants enrolled in the study who were exposed to cow’s milk formula before age 12 weeks and the first 100 infants enrolled in the study who were exclusively breast-fed for longer than their first 12 weeks of life were selected for the present study. Also, 11 children from the birth cohort who developed at least two diabetes-associated autoantibodies, 98 children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, and 92 healthy children were studied. We found that the amount of IgG-antibodies binding to bovine insulin was higher at age 3 months in infants who were exposed to cow’s milk formula than in infants who were exclusively breast-fed at that age (median 0.521 vs. 0.190; P < 0.0001). The antibodies binding to bovine insulin cross-reacted with human insulin. None of these infants tested positive for IAA. The levels of bovine insulin-binding antibodies declined in both groups at ages 12 and 18 months, whereas in the 11 children with at least two diabetes-associated autoantibodies the levels increased during the follow-up period (P < 0.0001). IgG antibodies correlated with IgG2 antibodies binding to bovine insulin (r = 0.43, P = 0.004) and IAA (r = 0.27, P = 0.02) in diabetic children, but not in healthy children. Cow’s milk feeding is an environmental trigger of immunity to insulin in infancy that may explain the epidemiological link between the risk of type 1 diabetes and early exposure to cow’s milk formulas. This immune response to insulin may later be diverted into autoaggressive immunity against beta-cells in some individuals, as indicated by our findings in children with diabetes-associated autoantibodies.