The infamous “milk problem,” which led to the death of about half of all inner city infants during the 19th century, was the outcome of feeding brewery swill to confinement cattle. The resulting milk was filthy and so thin that unscrupulous purveyors often added chalk to it, to mask its original bluish color. The latest agricultural model takes us right back to the swill dairies again, with confinement dairy farms located close to ethanol plants so the byproducts can be fed to the dairy cows. With the rising price of corn, these byproducts—fed as a kind of slop or made into pellets—look more and more attractive to dairy producers nationwide. A recent article in Stockman Grass Farmer lists three dangers from byproduct feeding (June, 2008, page 28). One is a type of polio that creates brain lesions in the cows due to high sulfur levels in the feed. The disease has symptoms similar to mad cow disease; the ensuing panic could be very damaging to the entire beef industry and provide the needed justification for imposition of the National Animal Identification System. Second, the ethanol byproducts are highly susceptible to potentially deadly molds called mycotoxins. “The residual mash produced [from ethanol production] is both hot and wet, which is an ideal environment for mold growth. It is dumped out of the centrifuge onto a concrete floor and a front loader loads it into a dump truck for transport to a dairy or feedlot. The factory floor, the tractor bucket and the interior of the truck are all potential sources of yeast infection, which initiates mold formation, and must be constantly kept disinfected to prevent contamination. . . Because this feed is rendered bacterially sterile by the production process, any mold that alights on it can grow extremely rapidly and can reach problematic levels in just a few hours.” Aflatoxin can actually survive the ethanol production process, can pass through into cows’ milk and is not killed by pasteurization. It is a potent liver poison and major carcinogen. Third, research at Kansas State has found that cattle eating brewer’s grains from beer manufacturing were six times more likely to harbor the virulent form of E. coli than cattle fed corn—and cattle fed corn are more likely to harbor the organism than cattle on grass. Adding chalk to the milk is not going to solve this problem. The only solution is to make sure the meat and dairy products you eat come from animals on pasture.
Top Of the Vitamin Hit Parade
Vitamin D is at the top of the vitamin hit parade these days, and with good reason. Ongoing research is constantly finding new links to vitamin D deficiency and disease. Men lacking vitamin D have more than double the normal risk of heart attack (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008 Jun 23;168(12):1340-9); low levels of vitamin D in women increase the risk of preeclampsia, one of the most dangerous pregnancy complications, involving high blood pressure and protein in the urine (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007;92:3517-22); in adults vitamin D leads to mood improvements and protects against depression (Archives of General Psychiatry, May 2008, Vol 65, No 5); and vitamin D protects against multiple sclerosis (JAMA, 2006). Sunlight exposure is associated with reduced risk of various types of cancer (Cancer, March 2002; 94:1897-75). Many researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency is a factor in autism (vitamindcouncil.com/health/autism/vit-D-theory-autism.shtml). Those living in northern climates and breastfed infants are most at risk for vitamin D deficiency, but these challenges are easily overcome by taking a natural source of vitamin D, such as cod liver oil. Unfortunately, some of those promoting vitamin D have issued warnings against vitamin A, calling it toxic, and claiming that vitamin A antagonizes the action of vitamin D. Actually, vitamins A and D work synergistically—vitamin D receptors can’t function without vitamin A, for example. So let’s not jeopardize the action of vitamin D–whether we get it from sunlight, supplements or foods like cod liver oil—by not getting enough vitamin A at the same time.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil provides natural vitamins A and D, plus important elongated omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, most studies look at these nutrients in isolation, rather than in combination as a food. One exception is a recent study from Scotland. Scientists in Dundee and Edinburgh followed 97 adults with rheumatoid arthritis, half of whom took two teaspoons of “high strength” cod liver oil every day and half of whom took a placebo. Over the course of nine months, the patients were asked to try to gradually reduce their intake of anti-inflammatories. Nearly 40 percent of those in the cod liver oil group were able to reduce their intake by more than 30 percent. By contrast, only 16 percent of those taking the placebo achieved that reduction. “Cod liver oil supplements can offer a natural pain management treatment without the harmful side effects associated with antiinflammatories,” said study leader Jill Belch, who attributed the good results to the fatty acids, not the politically unpopular fatsoluble vitamins A and D (Rheumatology, May;47(5):665-9). But the “high strength” cod liver oil sounds like the high-vitamin cod liver oil that we endorse. For recommended brands, see our Shopping Guide or visit our cod liver oil page at westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/ cod-liver-oil-menu.html. Be sure to avoid brands that have very low levels of vitamin D. The ratio of A to D in cod liver oil should be 10 to one or less—without vitamin D, vitamin A can cause problems. (Some popular brands have a ratio of 100 to one.)
Natural Is Best
From a book called Food and Nutrition, written by E.W.H. Cruikshank, MD, published in the US in 1951, comes a description of an experiment with chicks. Three groups of chicks were fed on the same diet. The first group received no vitamin D at all. The second group was given synthetic vitamin D (vitamin D2, made by irradiating yeast). The third group received a natural vitamin D preparation made from cod liver oil. The chicks receiving no vitamin D gained 259 grams; those receiving the synthetic vitamin D gained 346 grams; those who had the benefit of the natural vitamin D gained 399 grams. The most important finding was this: of the chicks receiving no vitamin D, 60 percent died; of the chicks receiving synthetic vitamin D, 50 percent died; while in the natural vitamin D group, no chicks died. Experiments of this type convinced the dairy industry to stop fortifying milk with vitamin D2 and use the natural animal form, vitamin D3, instead. Today vitamin D2 fortification is limited to imitation vegetarian beverages such as soy milk, rice milk, oat milk and almond milk. With all the focus on vitamin D, the industry is in the process of restoring the reputation of vitamin D2, focusing on recent studies showing that vitamin D2 is “just as well absorbed” as vitamin D3. But obviously, it does us no good to absorb a synthetic vitamin if its actions are potentially harmful.
Vitamin K Gaining Ground
Which vitamin is likely to replace vitamin D at the top of the vitamin hit parade? We are placing our bets on vitamin K2, the animal form of vitamin K, most likely the same nutrient as Weston Price’s Activator X. (See On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor.) To a long list of benefits from vitamin K (strong bones and teeth, cardiovascular health, neurological development, fertility and good facial structure with exposure in utero), recent research adds a few more. A study from Europe found that an increased intake of vitamin K2 could reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent. In addition, the potential benefits of K2 were more pronounced for advanced prostate cancer, while vitamin K1 (the form found in plant foods) offered no benefits (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008 Apr;87(4):985-92). Another study found a positive link between vitamin K2 and hip fractures and osteoporosis (European Journal of Epidemiology 2008 Jan 23(3):219-25). Most interesting of all is research suggesting that vitamin K plays a role in protecting skin elasticity and may help protect against skin aging and the development of wrinkles (Laboratory Investigation 2007 doi: 10.1038/labinvest. 3700667). The best sources of vitamin K2 in the western diet are poultry liver, cheese, egg yolk and fatty meats, so when vitamin K gets to the top, expect to see the promotion of vitamin K in pill form, not in these politically incorrect foods.
Same Old, Same Old
In spite of ever accumulating evidence on the benefits of traditional fats in the diet, the diet dictocrats are pushing the same old boring lowfat diet. The most recent Health and Nutrition Letter from Tufts University (August, 2008) provides a list of 30 dietary suggestions, including lots of vegetables; lots of whole grains with just a very thin smear of spread on that bread; cooking in vegetable oils, not butter; less meat; more canned beans; less salt; and iced tea, black coffee or mineral water to drink. Sigh. And oh, yes, eat only from a small plate, never eat everything on your plate, and never, ever eat seconds. No mention of what to do when the cravings hit you just before bedtime, when the body tries to compensate for this virtuous starvation diet by making you eat a quart of ice cream. And at eatingwell.com, you can read about the daily diets of six “nutrition experts,” as virtuous as virtuous nutrition experts can be. Lots and lots of lowfat foods in these diets—oyxmoronic lowfat sour cream and lowfat cheese—whole grains like granola and whole wheat pasta, tofu, fish, 2% milk, and politically acceptable fast food like vegeburgers. Most of them admit to giving in to temptations like chocolate, ice cream, white bread, cake or pretzels. One “expert” drinks six diet sodas per day (Winter, 2004).
No Child Left Behind
If you need any proof that our culture has completely sacrificed the health and wellbeing of future generations to financial interests, consider the new recommendations for “wider cholesterol screening for children and more aggressive use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, starting as early as the age of 8…” (New York Times, July 7, 2008). Why do we need these draconian measures? In “hopes” of preventing adult heart problems. Since cholesterol-lowering measures have not stemmed the tide of heart disease—they still fail to prevent 70 percent of heart attacks—the hope of preventing heart disease using the same measures in children is a vain hope indeed. The new guidelines come from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which admits that there is not “a whole lot of data” on pediatric use of cholesterol-lowering drugs but that the drugs are “generally safe for children” (New York Times, July 7, 2008). Not to be outdone, Dr. Daniel Steinberg of the American Heart Association is calling for “more aggressive cholesterol control” in children by instituting a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet at seven months (Circulation, August 5, 2008). Basically this means depriving growing children of eggs, butter, cheese, whole milk, liver and red meat, which supply, among many other nutrients, choline and arachidonic acid, necessary for brain development. And how do these guardians of the nation’s health propose to implement such a goal? The language in the report is chilling: “It would, of course, take generations to achieve and would require an allout commitment of money and manpower to reeducate and modify the behavior of the nation. Is this impossible? No. We have already shown that even a frankly addictive behavior like cigarette smoking can be overcome (eventually) with the right combination of education, peer pressure, and legislation [emphasis ours].”
One of the dangers of a cholesterol-lowering diet for children is anemia. Without meat to supply iron, and without organ meats and animal fats to supply vitamin A (needed for iron assimilation), children are at great risk of deficiency. Anemia in young children manifests as follows: “Infants with chronic, severe iron deficiency have been observed to display increased fearfulness, unhappiness, fatigue, low activity, wariness, solemnity, and proximity to the mother during free play, developmental testing and at home. In a recent preventative trial in Chile, ratings after 30-45 minutes of developmental testing showed that, compared with infants who received iron supplementation, a greater percentage of unsupplemented infants never smiled, never interacted socially, and never showed social referencing” (cholesterol-and-health.com/Low-Fat-Diets-For-Children.html).
More and More Side Effects
Meanwhile, more and more unpleasant statin side effects are emerging from scientific studies. A team of neuroscientists from Rochester University found that exposure to statins causes special cells in the brain, called glial progenitor cells, to reduce their production of a type of brain cell needed for repair after an infection, hemorrhage, a blow to the head or inflammation within the brain (eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/uorm-shu070208.php). Might these cells be also needed for brain development? Statin use is likewise associated with memory loss and impaired cognitive function. Research at Johns Hopkins University has shown a correlation between low cholesterol and autism—autistic symptoms prevalent in the genetic disorder SLOS, in which an enzyme necessary for cholesterol production is defective, quickly reversed after supplementation with dietary cholesterol (greatplainslaboratory.com/cholesterol/web/). And low cholesterol during pregnancy is tied to premature birth (Pediatrics, Vol. 120 No. 5 November 2007, 1133-1134). Low cholesterol often leads to muscle weakness, especially in active people. . . such as children! But of course, statins are a great way to slow down that pesky active child. A new study indicates that the cholesterol-lowering drug inhibits mitochondrial function (Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 2007 Jun 21). The mitochrondria are the energy-producing organs in our cells.
Baby Boomer Knees
The number of baby boomers who are opting for knee replacement surgery earlier in life is growing at an exponential rate, according to Dr. J. David Blaha, an orthopedic surgeon at University of Michigan Health System. Only a few years ago, doctors performed between 300,000 to 350,000 knee replacement surgeries annually. Today that number has risen to a staggering 500,000. Experts estimate that there could be as many as 3.2 million annual knee replacement surgeries just ten years from now. Dr. Blaha attributes the increase “to baby boomers wanting to maintain an active lifestyle,” with no mention of the debilitating effects from today’s processed food diet. Lots of baby boomers are getting knee replacements simply to be able to walk without pain. If that constitutes an “active lifestyle” for the privileged section of society able to afford knee surgery, we not only have a serious problem of widespread malnutrition on our hands, but also of perception. The notion that human beings should be leading a normal, active lifestyle well into old age—without replacing any parts—seems to have fallen by the wayside. Dr. Blaha’s greatest concern is finding enough surgeons to do the surgeries! Although the number of orthopedic specialists who do joint replacement is increasing by about 2 percent, “the need for orthopedic surgeons is going to increase by 500 percent. That’s a problem of epic proportions” (www2.med.umich.edu/prmc/media/newsroom/details.cfm?ID=333).
Parents Are Powerful!
The solution to all these anti-child propositions is for parents to just say no. That is what a coalition of outraged parents recently did in New York. New York Assembly Bill A10942, called the “worst vaccine bill ever,” and the mandatory meningococcal vaccine bill tacked onto it late in the session, are both dead. Assembly Bill A 10942 generated intense opposition to the legislation—which would have mandated the whole load of recommended vaccinations for all children, no exceptions—included a rally of hundreds of parents, many the parents of vaccine-injured children. Members of many organizations, including autism organizations, flooded lawmakers with phone calls, faxes, letters and emails in opposition. Organizers of the successful campaign will be lobbying for the passage of philosophical exemption bills in the next session. Congratulations to the strongest force on earth—organized, outraged parents.