Infants at Risk
The Cornucopia Institute has released a report that questions the alleged benefits of adding “novel” omega-3 fatty acids DHA and ARA, produced in laboratories and extracted from algae and fungus, into infant formulas. Formula makers have been marketing infant formula with the added DHA and ARA as “closer than ever to breast milk.” Pediatricians report that these advertisements make it a lot harder for health professionals to convince new mothers to breastfeed. Hospital nurses have often call it “the diarrhea formula” because of its association with long term serious diarrhea, and there is no evidence that these oils actually confer any long term benefit to the infant’s brain and eye development as claimed. Most disturbing is the fact that these fatty acids are extracted with hexane, a petroleum product that certainly does not exist in breast milk and is not allowed in organic foods. Yet the manufactured DHA and ARA are promoted as key ingredients in organic baby formula. The Cornucopia Institute is urging parents of infants who have reacted negatively to the formula to report these adverse reactions to the FDA’s Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program (www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/). They are petitioning the FDA for a warning label on formulas containing these manufactured oils. For details visit cornucopia.org.
They Were Right
Opponents of fluoridation, often ridiculed as extremists, have been vindicated with the release of a new study in the prestigious Scientific American magazine (January, 2008). According to the article, fluoride can “subtly alter endocrine functions, especially in the thyroid” and also lower IQ. The US Centers for Disease Control lists water fluoridation as one of the ten greatest health achievements of the 20th century. Hard to believe that fluoride provides any benefit at all as pediatric dentistry is the fastest growing discipline in medicine. The American Dental Association has even issued warnings not to mix baby formula with fluoridated water or allow children to overuse fluoridated toothpaste.
Prized Elk Cows
An astute member has sent us an article on elk hunting from the Billings Gazette (January 27, 2008), which includes a 1910 photograph of elk hunters with the following caption: “In those days, cows were prized more than bulls, because hunters believed that cows usually carried more fat and would yield better meat.” Before the food police came along with their lowfat dictums to spoil the basic act of eating, everyone knew that fatty meat was better.
“Diet keeps epileptic children seizure-free” reads the headline of an article posted at theage.com. au. It describes how a high-fat, “ketogenic” diet is controlling seizures in children not helped by medications. The meals are based on fatty foods like heavy cream, bacon and butter with about 90 percent of calories coming from fat. Of course, the “experts” are warning about “risks” and recommend that the diet be instituted only as a last resort, after drug treatment has failed, and then continued no longer than two years. Then parents are urged to increase the percentage of carbohydrates, hoping that the seizures will not return. Of course the sensible thing to do is to try this essentially healthy diet as a first and basic recourse, and continue it for as long as possible, even for life.
Misled for Thirty Years
The recent publication of results from the ENHANCE trial, which found no benefit from a drug combination that signifi- cantly lowered LDL-cholesterol but did not reduce plaque formation in the arteries nor confer a projected reduction in mortality, has received widespread attention in the media, including an article “Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?” in the January 17, 2008 issue of Business Week. According to the article, many researchers now question the wisdom of prescribing cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to the general population—drugs the pharmaceutical industry believes should be taken by 40 million Americans. Growing doubt among the ranks of medical professionals has emerged with the accumulation of reports on serious side effects from cholesterol- lowering measures: muscle weakness, neuropathy, heart failure, memory loss, depression, fatigue, digestive disorders and cancer. Results of the ENHANCE trial have led to the startling revelation that the studies on which the FDA based its approval of statin drugs looked only at surrogate outcomes, namely the lowering of LDL-cholesterol and raising of HDL-cholesterol, as a substitute for a clinically meaningful endpoint, namely the prevention of heart attacks. Up to this point, drug makers have not had to show that statins actually save or extend the lives of patients. Researchers are also re-examining the promotion of soul-numbing lowfat diets. “Dietary fat recommendations. . . may have led to significant and harmful unintended consequences,” wrote the authors of a January 22, 2008 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Official government guidelines have indeed misled Americans into abandoning nutritious whole foods such as butter, eggs and organ meats, foods universally recognized by traditional peoples as necessary for good health and optimal development of children.
Statin Death Link?
Students and colleagues at University College School, Hampstead (London), were mystified last April when chemistry master Dr. Allan Woolley, 53—described as “immensely popular and inspirational”—was killed while standing on the tracks at North Wembly railway station, holding a note that read: “Just burn my wretched body without ceremony.” Family and friends were so convinced that suicide was out of character, they insisted that his inquest examine the role played in his death by the statin drug he was taking. “My brother had no history of depression and was in full-time employment,” wrote his sister. “The family believe that Allan did not intend to kill himself. My brother had had nightmares which were so terrible he could not distinguish between them and real life.” Woolley had also suffered 15-minute blackouts when he could not recall his actions. The verdict blamed the drug simvastatin (Zocor) for his death. The National Health Service in the UK has made a major push to ensure that doctors prescribe the drug, claiming that “major studies have consistently found that the benefits of statins. . . massively outweigh the side-effects” (medicalnewstoday.com/articles/94642.php).
More News About Vitamin D
Scientists are reporting more good news about vitamin D. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School have discovered that low vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of heart disease; those who had high blood pressure and low vitamin D levels were particularly at risk. The study, which began in 1996, looked at over 1700 people with an average age of 59. Those with levels of vitamin D below 15 ng/ml had twice the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke compared to those with higher levels (news.bbc.co.uk, January 8, 2008). The pharmaceutical industry has responded to the spotlight on vitamin D with a twofold strategy: by supporting studies that look into potential harmful effects of vitamin D supplementation and, in studies looking at benefits, by using the plant form of vitamin D—vitamin D2—which is much easier and less expensive to manufacture but much more difficult for the body to utilize, and possibly detrimental. An example of the latter is a study showing that administration of vitamin D2 plus calcium to elderly patients resulted in a 23 percent reduction of the risk of falling (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008 Jan 14;168(1):103-108). An example of the former is a paper suggesting that vitamin D supplementation can inhibit gene expression and lead to auto-immune disease (medicalnewstoday.com/articles/94642.php). “We have found that vitamin D supplementation, even at levels many consider desirable, interferes with recovery in these patients,” said J. C. Waterhouse, PhD, executive director of Autoimmunity Research, Inc. Waterhouse does not say whether supplementation is with vitamin D2 or D3, or whether it is given concurrently with vitamin A, needed to prevent vitamin D-induced deficiency of this fat-soluble, immune- enhancing nutrient. Another recent report blames brain lesions on vitamin D—again without specifying what kind of vitamin D the subjects were taking and whether the vitamin D intake was balanced with vitamin A (bacteriality.com/2007/10/24/brain_lesions/print/). With statins under fire and consumers looking for more natural alternatives to prevent heart disease, we predict more confusing news reports on vitamin D in the future.
You won’t read about these things in the newspapers, but there have been many recalls of infant formula, such as the 2002 FDA recall of 1.5 million cans of powdered infant formula. The formula, manufactured by Wyeth and sold under many different brand names, was found contaminated with Enterobacter sakazakii, which in rare cases can cause bacterial infection in the blood, meningitis, or necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe intestinal infection (fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2002/NEW00849.html). No illnesses associated with this recall were reported but they have occurred in the past. The dirty secret of the formula industry is that powdered formula is never sterile. Liquid formula is less likely to contain pathogenic organisms because it is effectively sterilized in the jar, but the downside is that it contains carrageenan as an emulsifier, which can cause severe digestive problems.
Distiller Grain for Cattle
Back in the 1800s, most milk in urban areas came from the so-called swill dairies, inner city confinement dairies where the cows lived in unimaginable filth and consumed the spent swill from nearby breweries. The death rate among inner city children consuming this milk approached 50 percent, not only because the milk was dirty but also because it lacked nutrients, so thin, in fact, that powdered chalk was often added to make the milk white. Fortunately, the distillery dairies are a thing of the past. . . or are they? A common practice today is to feed cattle—both dairy cattle and beef cattle—what’s called “distiller’s grains,” a byproduct of the ethanol distilling process. Even more ominous is the fact cattle fed distiller’s grain have an increased prevalence of the virulent E. coli O157:H7 in their hindgut (biologynews.net/archives/2007/12/04/kstate_researchers_findings_on_e_coli.html). The pathogen ends up on the meat, in the milk and in the runoff water from the farms. Such milk should of course be pasteurized and the meat well cooked—or just avoided entirely by buying from pasture-feeding farmers. But the runoff water ends up on fruits and vegetables and even, perhaps, in the water used in pasteurizing plants.
Aspartame and the Brain
A review paper from South Africa paints a frightening picture of what the artificial sweetener aspartame can do to the brain. The breakdown products of aspartame are phenylalanine, aspartate, diketopiperazine and methanol. Methanol further breaks down into formate, which is cytotoxic and can cause symptoms ranging from fibromyalgia to depression to blindness; phenylalanine may cross the blood-brain barrier and cause severe changes in the production of very important neurotransmitters. The authors describe the mechanisms by which excessive aspartame ingestion is involved in the development of certain mental disorders and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning. Aspartame changes the levels of dopamine, serotonin and other important chemicals in the brain, resulting in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, endocrine disturbances, obsessive-compulsive disorders, attention deficit and reduced learning ability. Pregnant women who consume aspartame risk damaging the fetal nervous system and increasing the risk of cerebral palsy, impaired vision, birth defects, lifelong carbohydrate cravings, developmental disorders and mental retardation in the offspring (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007), 1-12). It seems that the more we know about aspartame, the worse it gets. But instead of withdrawing this toxic stuff from the food supply, aspartame is slowly making its way into ordinary products used every day, which do not carry any indication of being for people on diets or for diabetics. Thus, if you eat processed foods, you put yourself and your offspring at risk.
Malaysian Dieticians on the Move
Malaysians love to eat, and their diet is full of sugar, but it also contains healthy ingredients like coconut milk, clarified butter, lard, seafood and organ meats. Citing rising levels of diabetes and overweight, dieticians in Malaysia are waging war against “high cholesterol [sic] coconut milk, clarified butter and sugar cane.” Thanks to their efforts, “Fattening coconut milk. . . is being shunted aside for nutritious soy milk” and tofu is replacing such native dishes as rice flour noodles fried in lard and curried offal rice. “We need to have more aggressive education and to impart information to the community,” says Tan Yoke Hwa, President of the Malaysian Dietitians’ Association, “getting them to make the change” (smh.com.au/news/diet/, December 18, 2007).
Sugar and Hormonal Problems
Canadian researchers have found an explanation for hormonal disorders in people who eat too much sugar. When we eat too much glucose and fructose, the liver converts it to fat, a process that reduces something called SHBG protein in the blood. SHBG protein plays a key role in controlling the amount of testosterone and estrogen that’s available throughout the body. Lower levels of SHBG protein result in more testosterone and estrogen being released throughout the body, which leads to increased incidence of acne, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome and uterine cancer in overweight women (sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071109171610.htm).
Cancer and Sugar
Even though oncologists administer radioactive sugar to find cancers in the body—the sugar goes straight to the tumor— the cancer establishment has refrained from admitting that sugar feeds cancer cells. The appetite of cancer cells for sugar was announced in 1924, when German Nobel laureate Otto Warburg first published his observations of fast-growing tumors. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells appeared to fuel themselves by fermentation of sugar. None other than Time Magazine (September 17, 2007) has reported on a trial in Germany in which five very ill cancer patients had good results—their condition “stabilized”—with a carb-free, high fat diet. (Unfortunately, many patients dropped out because they found it hard to stick to a no-sweets diet.) Instead of getting energy from sugar, the patients in the trial get their energy from fat—but unfortunately, the fats are “high-quality plant oils such as hempseed and linseed oil” and the protein portion of the diet includes soy. (Perhaps this is why so many dropped out.) We predict even better results—and longterm recovery—on a diet where the fats are butter, lard, egg yolks, coconut oil and cod liver oil and the protein foods include liver, eggs and seafood. This kind of diet not only helps the body recover from cancer, but also cures sugar cravings.
Very Specific Food Pyramid Recommends Two to Three Shrimp Scampi Servings Per Year
Satire from The Onion, January 16, 2008
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled an updated, extremely detailed food pyramid Monday, which may redefine the way Americans plan their yearly intake of such food groups as shrimp scampi, garlic bread, and steak tartare with a side of mini grilled corn on the cob.
“Two servings of shrimp scampi per year is absolutely essential, and it is preferable that one be a microwaveable meal from the Contessa frozen-foods line, and the other be eaten at a fancy restaurant, like the Lobster Tail off Route 22, on a nice summer evening with the woman you love,” acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner said. “All healthy adults should also incorporate four bowls of Cookie Crisp cereal, 223 to 228 salted pretzel rods, one plate of Hamburger Helper cheeseburger macaroni, six to eight Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies, and no more than two Fla-Vor-Ice-brand ice pops into their yearly diet.” The nutrition guide highly recommends taking two bites from an undercooked hot dog on July 12 every year and then throwing the rest away.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2008.