In spite of drastic changes in the American diet, and mass-medication with cholesterol-lowering drugs to the tune of billions of dollars, the number of US deaths from heart disease has exceeded 700,000 every year since 1965. While deaths from heart attacks have declined slightly recently, the total figure remains high because of an increase in deaths from heart failure. Since 1979, deaths from heart failure have doubled–from about 25,000 to 50,000 per year. Officials attribute this to an aging population, but many of these deaths occur in the relatively young. . . especially those who have been taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol. Statins interfere with the body’s production of CoQ10, needed for muscles to work, and the heart is a muscle. And when the muscles don’t work, it’s hard to exercise, the most important factor for long-term survival according to new research. A study conducted by doctors in the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California found that poor physical fitness was a better predictor of death than other “well-established” factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or high cholesterol. Those who got regular exercise lived the longest. Meanwhile, researchers are looking at new methods to keep heart patients alive longer–gene therapy to grow new blood vessels and stem-cell therapy to grow new heart muscle. We’d like to suggest a much simpler solution: stop listening to your doctor and the American Heart Association. Get off medications that make you tired and eat a rich, satisfying diet that will give you the energy you need to take a walk every day (Washington Times 6/3/2002).
Vitamin D and the Heart
German scientists have discovered another factor contributing to increasing rates of heart failure–low levels of vitamin D. They compared 54 patients with chronic heart failure with 34 healthy people and found that vitamin D levels were up to 50 percent lower in the blood of CHF patients. Animal research also indicates that vitamin D protects the heart. For example, chicks with vitamin D deficiency develop heart failure, which disappears when vitamin D is added to their feed (BBC News, Feb 18, 2003). And why is vitamin D deficiency so widespread nowadays? Because the Diet Dictocrats have made people afraid to eat vitamin-D-rich foods like lard, liver, butter and eggs. Factory farming, which takes animals out of the sunlight and imprisons them in cages, also shares in the blame. The fat of animals raised in confinement has much lower levels of natural vitamin D than the fat of animals raised in sunlight and allowed to eat green grass.
Researchers in Holland have demonstrated a link between vitamin B12 status and academic skills. Children who had eaten a normal mixed diet all of their life outperformed those who had started out life without animal foods. In fact, children starting out on a vegan diet demonstrated neurological impairments that persisted, even when animal products were added later. Animal products providing the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin B12 failed to bring blood levels of B12 up to normal in formerly vegan children. Kids deficient in B12 scored substantially lower on tests measuring spatial ability, short-term memory and “fluid intelligence,” defined as “the capacity to solve complex problems, abstract thinking ability and the ability to learn” (Science News Online, 12/23-30/2000, Vol 158, No 26-27). In a related report, breast-fed infants of two vegan mothers developed brain abnormalities as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52:61-64). Those who assure us that plant foods can provide growing children with all they need have much to answer for.
Hiding behind fine-sounding goals of “addressing malnutrition” in Third World countries, the Bill Gates charitable foundation is contributing $50 million tax-exempt dollars to a program that will help multinational food corporations sell more processed foods overseas. The funds will help Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Heinz and vitamin manufacturers Roche and BASF Corporation add iron, folic acid and synthetic vitamin A to ketchup, white flour products, processed cheese and sugared beverages and then promote them as healthy in Asia, Africa and South America. In exchange, the consortium, called the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), will offer companies assistance in lobbying for favorable tariffs and tax rates and speedier regulatory review of new products in target countries. The consortium also will give local governments money for initiatives to help create demand for fortified foods, including large-scale public relations campaigns or a governmental “seal of approval.” Says Stuart Wilson, director of strategic growth initiatives for Kraft Foods: “We think this partnership can accelerate the process of bringing fortified products to market and build an accurate consumer awareness of the role these products can play in improving nutrition” (Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2002). The question we have is this: Do these people really believe their own propaganda or have years of eating processed food (duly fortified, of course) addled their brains?
More Surprise Findings
Researchers tied to the USDA dietary guidelines are always coming up with surprising findings. . . like the discovery that there is no relationship between diets high in fat and breast cancer, or that people who eat butter have fewer heart attacks, or that diets high in protein do not contribute to osteoporosis. Another surprising finding has emerged from an ongoing study on brain health at the Pacific Biomedical Research Center in Honolulu. Researchers found that those who consumed a lot of fruit and fruit drinks had a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. “We speculate that this increased risk may be due to plant-borne toxins, pesticides or herbicides, rather than the fruit itself,” said study author Andrew Grandinetti, PhD (www.foodnavigator.com, 4/8/2003). Most commercial fruits are highly sprayed with cholinesterase inhibitors and other neurotoxic pesticides and preservatives; and modern fruit-juicing processing techniques, which crush the whole fruit including the skin, ensure that most of these pesticides end up in the juice.
Last issue we published a photo of beautiful baby Brian Kipe, who slept through the first night after he was born. Good sleeping patterns in newborns not only spare the parents unnecessary fatigue, they also contribute to the optimal neurological development of the infant. A new study has found that newborns, whose mothers consumed adequate amounts of the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during the last three months of pregnancy, exhibited healthier sleep patterns than others (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002;76:608-613). DHA is supplied by cod liver oil, which baby Kipe’s mother took faithfully during her pregnancy. Cod liver oil also supplies vitamin D, which helps babies grow strong bones. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the breast milk of modern mothers does not contain enough vitamin D to meet the daily requirement. As a result, the number of cases of rickets in the United States has crept up in recent years.
In a recent study, 150 girls ages 8 to 10, were put on lowfat diets to “reduce elevated cholesterol levels” while a similar group consumed a normal diet. After five years, the average estrogen and progesterone levels were almost one-third lower in the group assigned to the lowfat diet. (Similar studies in adults show a drop in estrogen in women and a decline in testosterone in men on lowfat diets.) Rather than issue a warning on these alarming results–how can these girls expect normal reproduction with lowered hormone levels?–the researchers proposed that the reduced hormonal output might protect them from breast cancer later in life! This speculation emerged as headlines stating “Eat less fat and stave off breast cancer” in some newspapers (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Jan 15, 2003). The same spin-doctoring has been enlisted to sell soy products to teenage girls. In adult women, consumption of soy leads to undesirable changes in breast tissue presaging cancer, so the rhetoric has changed to target teenagers instead.
The latest Consumer Expenditure Survey of the US Department of Labor indicates that Americans are buying fewer grain products and more meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Wheat consumption (mostly in the form of refined flour) in the US dropped 4 percent from 1997 to 2001 and the cereal industry is not happy. The Wheat Foods Council has launched an “educational campaign” at nutritionists and the medical community to counter these trends. “Healthful grain-based foods have become the scapegoat for weight gain, when overeating and under-exercising are at issue,” said Carol Pratt, a Kellogg nutrition and regulatory affairs expert and incoming chairwoman for Wheat Foods. The grain industry blames Dr. Atkins for declining sales, and rightly so, as several studies now lend credence to his low-carb diet for weight loss. “I’m very much concerned,” says Mark Dirkes, spokesman for Interstate Bakeries, maker of Wonder Bread. “He [Atkins] has run a very effective campaign. That just can’t be good for our industry.” According to the wheat council, Americans who follow the Atkins diet increase their risk of health problems, including “cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol kidney damage and some cancers” (Reuters March 16, 2003).
The EPA, which regulates genetically engineered corn, requires no tests to determine how the crop affects the reproductive systems of the animals that eat it. So when Jerry Rosman, an Iowa farmer, witnessed his hog farrowing rates plummet, he had to do some detective work on his own. When several other neighboring farmers using different management styles, different breeding methods and different swine genetics, had similar problems, they compared notes, performed laboratory tests and found that the common denominator was high levels of Fusarium mold in the feed. All of them were using genetically engineered Bt corn hybrids, which are highly susceptible to mold development during storage. Rosman switched back to regular non-Bt corn and his sows bred successfully again. When his story was published in the May 13, 2002 Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman, many other producers from around the state contacted him with similar stories. Bt corn is now commonly used in conventional foods. How these foods affect human beings is anybody’s guess.
GE Crops Nourish Pests
In another blow to the credibility of the biotech industry, British and Venezuelan researchers have discovered that genetically engineered crops that are supposed to kill pests can actually nourish them instead. Bt corn has been engineered to produce the naturally occurring poison Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Over 100 million acres of Bt crops have been planted worldwide. The new report suggests that pests can actually use the poison as a food and that the crops, rather than automatically controlling them, can actually help them to thrive. In their study, researchers worked with the larvae of the diamondback moth, a troublesome pest in the southern US and the tropics. They fed one group of larvae normal cabbage leaves and one that had been treated with a Bt toxin. Astonishingly, the larvae eating the Bt-treated leaves grew much bigger and faster–at a 56 percent higher growth rate. The scientists conclude that “Bt transgenic crops could therefore have unanticipated nutritionally favorable effects, increasing the fitness of resistant populations” (The Independent, 5/20/2003). This, of course, is Nature’s way–through the selection process, populations subjected to stresses like poisons become resistant to those stresses. Why should the biotech industry think that Bt would be different from any other pesticide used in large amounts?
Good Theory, Bad Advice
One of the most interesting recent theories on the causes of heart disease comes from Professor David Barker at Southampton University. He studied pre-World-War-II birth records and found a correlation between low birth weight and proneness to heart disease later in life. Babies who weighed less than 5 pounds at birth routinely encounter more developmental problems than babies who weigh more than 5 pounds; Barker’s research indicates that the disadvantage persists into adulthood. But Barker’s advice to pregnant women hews to political correctness: lots of fruit, vegetables and commercial dairy products but very little meat. He recommends two portions of carbohydrates eaten for every portion of meat. No mention of the sacred foods so important in traditional societies–liver, organ meats, fish eggs, animal fats, butterfat from grassfed cows and eggs from pastured animals. Cod liver oil is an excellent modern version of a traditional superfood but Barker seems woefully ignorant of its benefits (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2933783.stm).
Trans Fat Lawsuit
On May 1, San Francisco Attorney Stephen L. Joseph filed a lawsuit against Kraft foods seeking to stop the marketing and sale of Oreo cookies to California children because they contain trans fats. Joseph filed his case under California laws that permit individuals to sue if products are “not known to be unsafe” by ordinary consumers. The food industry and its allies in the press have responded predictably with slanted reporting that mixes truth with falsehood. “Nutrition issues are best left to health professionals and regulatory agencies,” said Michael Mudd, a Kraft spokesman. According to the Los Angeles Times, trans fats “have been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. . . [and] appear to be as unhealthful as saturated fats found in meat and dairy products” (May 12, 2003). Nutrition Week, a mostly pro-industry newsletter reported on the lawsuit with the headline: “If Oreos are outlawed, only outlaws will eat Oreos” (May 19, 2003). “. . . the Oreo suit is. . . part of a broader plaintiffs’ bar assault on foods of all kinds that taste good but are not always good for you,” whined the Wall Street Journal (May 13, 2003). “As any parent knows, this will sooner or later include everything that kids like to eat. . . If Mr. Joseph and his legal buddies want to pursue this, somehow we think it’s only fair that he have to face his main defendants face to face. No, not Nabisco, but the nation’s five-year-olds. Let him tell them he wants to take away their cookies, pizza and ice cream,” (something that good parents do all the time). Nowhere in the media have we read that the food industry has at its disposal perfectly good alternatives to trans fats–palm oil, coconut oil, tallow and lard. What these would take away, however, is a portion of the industry’s huge profits, because they are more expensive than partially hydrogenated soybean oil. The industry would also need to reverse-peddle years of demonizing misinformation it has heaped on these healthy natural fats.
The Institute for Health Freedom , based in Washington, DC, reports that Congress recently clarified the new Homeland Security Act. According to the Congressional Record (“Conference Report on J.J.Res.2, Consolidated Appropriations Resolutions, 2003,” House of Representatives, February 12, 2003, p. h2120), “any countermeasures recommended by the Federal government pursuant to the Homeland Security Act (including, but not limited to vaccines) would be made available to civilians on a voluntary basis. Nothing in the Homeland Security Act would allow the Federal government to mandate the administration of a covered countermeasure to civilians.” You haven’t read about this in the mainstream press, so it is up to individual citizens to inform any meddling officials of their rights, and spread the word that bio-terrorism countermeasures–such as vaccinations, medical examinations and quarantine–are voluntary.
Bucking the Trend
India consumes almost half of the world’s total supply of butter, some 2.25 million metric tons in fiscal 2002, up from 1.47 million metric tons in fiscal 2001, an increase of 53 percent in just one year. According to a government spokesman, “the consumption of butter has improved significantly in smaller towns, as increase in income levels has created a whole new class of butter consumers in the country.” Since India is bucking the world trend to “healthier” alternatives like margarine, the big guys have muscled in on the act. Nestlé recently entered the butter market in India, along with Britannia, another multinational (The Economic Times New Delhi, Sept 7, 2002). Hopefully, Indian consumers will vote with their pocketbooks and use their huge purchasing power to buy from small producers.