Sally Fallon Morell takes on the Diet Dictocrats
GROWING EUROPEAN TREND
While U.S. public health officials are fighting raw milk tooth and nail, raw milk vending machines are becoming ever more popular in Europe. Now manufactured in Poland as well as in Italy, the Polish company Milkmat SC is set to expand from the current one hundred fifty machines to one thousand or more in the coming years (http://thebovine.wordpress.com, January 26, 2012). What is happening in Europe, where raw milk is freely available, is more than just an interesting fad. It is a trend that will help Europeans become healthier, wealthier, smarter and happier, ready to overtake the U.S.—stuck in the stone age of bad science— in every aspect of prosperity and culture.
B12 DEFICIENCY LINKED TO MEMORY PROBLEMS
Accumulating evidence that vitamin B12 supports healthy brain function comes from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (Neurology, Sept 27, 2011;77(13):1276-1282). The study found that methylmalonate, a marker of vitamin B12 deficiency, is associated with a reduction of brain volume and so may contribute to cognitive problems. An earlier study, published in the same journal, found that people who tended to eat vitamin B12-rich foods are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who did not (Neurology, Oct 19, 2010). The best sources of B12 are liver and shellfish—foods that seniors are warned to avoid because they contain high levels of cholesterol.
ANOTHER CAUSE OF RESISTANT INFECTIONS
Another cause of resistant infection has emerged: heartburn drugs that reduce stomach acid. These include Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Zegerid and many others that fall into a category called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). They are prescribed to treat acid reflux, stomach ulcers and similar conditions, and work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach. Stomach acid kills pathogens, and with reduced levels, pathogens like Clostridium difficile can take over. The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, showed that nearly half of four hundred eighty-five patients hospitalized at a medical center over a four-year period who had C. difficile infections had previously taken PPIs (Clin Infect Dis. (2011) doi: 10.1093/cid/cir668). The elderly are especially at risk. Unlike MRSA, C. difficile still responds to certain antibiotics but in severe cases, surgery to remove the infected part of the intestines is performed. The solution of course is to cease taking the drugs and eat plenty of salt so the body can make stomach acid, but that’s not advice patients are going to hear any time soon.
STATINS: YET ANOTHER SIDE EFFECT
Doctors in the U.S. write over two hundred fifty million prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs per year, despite the long list of side effects these drugs cause: memory loss, cognitive decline, Parkinson’s disease, muscle wasting, back pain, heart failure, weakness and fatigue. Now another can be added to the list: diabetes. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that looked at data gleaned from the Women’s Health Initiative, found a nearly 50 percent increase in diabetes among longtime statin users. A 2011 analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association and a 2010 analysis in The Lancet also found a higher risk of diabetes among those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Doctors may be hemming and hawing, but they continue to prescribe these dangerous drugs. “I don’t think there’s any debate remaining, particularly in the higher doses, about whether statins slightly increase the risk of developing diabetes,” says cardiologist Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic. Yet he notes that statins are “among the best drugs we’ve got.” Even a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) urges the continuation of statins. “Every medication has risks and benefits,” says Vivian Fonseca, president of the ADA, “but you don’t want people to have heart attacks because they are so worried about getting diabetes.”
RESISTANCE TO VACCINATIONS
More than one in ten parents don’t follow recommended vaccination guidelines for their children, and at least 2 percent skip vaccinations completely. Those who choose an alternative schedule usually delay vaccinations until the age of three or four, when the greatest danger of vaccine-induced autism has passed. Of course, health officials are not pleased. “This really highlights…that there’s probably going to be a continuing increase in the number of parents who choose to follow alternative schedules,” said Dr. Amanda Dempsey. “We really need to start allocating government and educational resources to stem the growing tide of discontent about vaccines among parents.” These officials like to blame ever increasing outbreaks of illnesses like measles, pertussis and mumps on lower rates of vaccination. The truth is that many vaccinated children get these diseases. The trend will be difficult for health officials to stop, as the dangers of vaccines continue to seep into the public consciousness. “The days when people obeyed doctors’ orders without question are over,” says Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center. “Pediatricians are going to have to get used to answering questions about vaccines and working with parents in a relationship that involves shared decision-making” (www.medicinenet.com, October 3, 2011).
TOXIC BY-PRODUCT IN BABY FORMULA
Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are toxic glucose byproducts found in most heated foods. They are associated with increased insulin levels, increased diabetes and premature aging. Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that levels of AGEs were up to one hundred times higher in baby formula compared to human breast milk as a result of heat processing during manufacture. The formula industry insists that AGEs do not cause health problems, noting that heat processing is vital to ensure microbiological safety of infant formula. “Modern food AGEs can overwhelm the body’s defenses, a worrisome fact especially for young children,” said Dr. Helen Vlassara, MD, Professor and director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging at the Mount Sinai School of Medicines. “More research is certainly needed, but the findings confirm our studies in genetic animal models of diabetes. Given the rise in the incidence of diabetes in children, safe and low-cost AGE-less approaches to children’s diet should be considered by clinicians and families” (www.foodproductiondaily.com, October 14, 2011). No mention, of course, of using raw milk, which is very low in AGEs, for nourishing growing children and infants that can’t be breastfed.
Many people are so sensitive to fake scents that they cannot visit a department store, shopping mall, or hairdresser. Now imagine that you are assaulted with fake food smells when you visit the supermarket. Such a scenario may be just around the corner with a new “invisible technology” that allows food and beverage processors to add a product aroma to its packaging. Developed by ScentSational Technologies, the product, called Encapscent, will be applied as microscopic cells to boxes, bottles and bags. The cells are ruptured when handled to release the scent. “There are millions of cells on each packaging application so cells can be ruptured and the scent released over and over again,” explains Steven M. Landau, ScentSational chief technological officer. “We have been asked for many years to develop technology like this. We have tested it and it can even be adapted to ice cream. It’s a real game changer for frozen foods” (www.foodproductiondaily.com, February 1, 2012).
FLUORIDATION IN DECLINE
About 72 percent of the U.S. population drinks water with added fluoride, but these numbers are finally starting to decline. During the last four years, about two hundred jurisdictions, from Georgia to Alaska, have chosen to end the practice of adding fluoride to the water, including Pinellas County on Florida’s west coast and Fairbanks, Alaska. The vote to end fluoridation is motivated by two factors—tight budgets and skepticism about its benefits. For example, Pinellas County will save over two hundred thousand dollars annually by halting fluoride use. But the real opinion-changer has been government warnings against overuse of fluoride. A report released in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked fluoride to an increase in dental fluorosis, unsightly mottling of the teeth. In 2011, the federal Department of Health and Human Services recommended reducing the fluoride put into the water supply, citing increased amounts consumed in vegetables, fruit, juice and other beverages. The government also informed parents of infants who exclusively use infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water that their children face an increased risk of fluorosis and suggested using low-fluoride water, like distilled water, to make the formula. “It was a trigger,” said one public health official. “People who had heard there is nothing wrong with fluoridation all of the sudden are hearing that kids are getting too much fluoride” (New York Times, October 13, 2011).
FLUORIDATION AND HEART DISEASE
New skepticism about fluoridation is bolstered by a report published in the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications, which found a link between sodium fluoride consumption and cardiovascular disease. When researchers examined the relationship between fluoride intake and calcification of the arteries in more than sixty patients, they found a significant correlation between fluoride consumption and hardening of the arteries. Other studies have found that fluoride negatively affects cognitive function and over one hundred animal studies have linked fluoride to an increase in diabetes, male infertility, and other health problems (naturalsociety.com, January 17, 2012).
BUTTER TAX IN SWEDEN?
Sweden is considering a tax on saturated fat like the one enacted recently in Denmark, with assertions that it will cut down on heart disease. But a study carried out in Sweden contradicts such claims. The research was carried out in 2009 in the city of Växjö. Researchers assessed how compliance with the Nordic nutritional recommendations affects the risk of coronary heart disease in rural Swedish farmers and non-farmers. Intake of foods related to nutritional recommendations was determined by food frequency questionnaires at the beginning and near the end of the study. Coronary heart disease risk was based on hospitalization or death due to CHD during the twelve-year follow-up period. Swedish nutritional guidelines are summarized as follows: eat fruits and vegetables daily; eat whole meal bread at every meal; eat less saturated fat; and eat fish several times per week. The study found that those who ate fruits and vegetables daily had a 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease—no surprise there. But wait, there was a further reduction—to 61 percent lower risk—in those who also ate moderate or high amounts of dairy fat. And another surprise: those who ate fruits and vegetables daily combined with low dairy fat consumption (skim or lowfat milk, no butter, rarely cream) had a 70 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease! Those who ate fruits and vegetables daily with lowfat dairy had four times the risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who ate fruits and vegetables combined with high-fat dairy! There was no association found between intake of whole meal bread or fish with any outcome (www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmed/20054459).
Ron Buch: Before and After