We Are Not Making This Up
An epidemiologist from Auckland University is calling for a health tax on butter, claiming that the dairy fat is “pure, natural poison…as bad as cigarettes.” According to Professor Rod Jackson, butter is “the purest form of saturated fat you can eat and it has no protein and no calcium. Butter has had all the good things taken out and just left the poison.” Jackson’s comments come in advance of a nationwide cholesterol testing program sponsored by the makers of Flora Pro-Activ cholesterollowering spread. The program features nurses in shopping malls providing fingerprick tests to determine people’s cholesterol levels (stuiff.co.nz/4466728a11.html). It was the late Valerie James, a New Zealander, who discovered that the active sterols in cholesterol-lowering spreads are actually the waste products of the wood pulp industry, which cause sex inversion in fish downstream from the mills (“Toxins on Your Toast“). And what’s to be done with all the beautiful, nutrientdense grass-fed New Zealand butter that Kiwis are no longer supposed to eat? According to Jackson, it can be shipped to China—apparently butter is not toxic to the Chinese, with whom New Zealand coincidentally has a new trade agreement— or turned into biofuel!
Concerns About Cod Liver Oil
A new study out of Norway found that consumption of cod liver oil during childhood was negatively associated with bone mass density, which researchers blamed on the vitamin A content of cod liver oil. “Although the vitamin A content of commercial cod liver oil was recently reduced by 75% in Norway, the past high concentration remains a possible explanation for the observed negative association between childhood cod liver oil intake and forearm BMD [body mass density]” (American Journal of Epidemiology, 2008 (167(4):406-411). But it is obvious from the description of the cod liver oil used in the study that the problem had to do with the ratio of A to D in the Norwegian cod liver oil up to 1999, which contained only 40 IU vitamin D for 3,300 IU vitamin A. The vitamin D is mostly removed wi t h mo d e r n processing techniques, leaving a product with an A to D ratio of over 80 to 1, when it should be 10 to 1 or less. Of the women currently taking cod liver oil (60 percent of those in the study), there was no negative association with BMD.
Your tax dollars pay for the National Institutes of Health and its National Library of Medicine and hence Medline, the online index of articles published in medical journals. But although Medline indexes material from Newsweek, Consumer Reports, Reader’s Digest and Time magazine, it refuses to index the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, even though it is peerreviewed. The journal Fluoride and the Journal of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (which opposed mandatory vaccinations) are similarly excluded. Articles from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine are now indexed and may be accessed at orthomolecular.org/library/jom/index.shtml. Indices for back issues of Fluoride are posted at fluorideresearch.org.
More on Trans Fats
New research is confirming the dangers of trans fatty acids. In a seven-year European study, which followed almost 20,000 women, researchers documented 363 cases of breast cancer during the course of the study, and matched these cases to breast cancer-free controls according to age, menopausal status at baseline, date and collection center. Increasing blood levels of trans fatty acids were associated with a 75 percent increase in breast cancer risk (American Journal of Epidemiology 2008 Jun 1;167(11):1312-20). And researchers from Harvard have reported that increased intakes of trans fatty acids may increase the risk of non-aggressive prostate tumors by about 100 percent (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, Vol 17, pp 95-101). Trans fats also increase the risk of infertility in women (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2006). Meanwhile, Canadian researchers are finding that the natural trans fats found in butter and meat fats have health benefits. University of Alberta researcher Flora Wang found that a diet with enriched levels of trans vaccenic acid (VA), the natural trans fat found in dairy and beef products, can reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Results indicate that the benefit was due in part to the ability of VA to reduce the production of chylomicrons, particles of fat and cholesterol that form in the small intestine following a meal (sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080402152140.htm). The human body also transforms some of the VA into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer properties. Of course the toxic industrial trans fats were meant to be “healthful replacements for artery-clogging saturated fats such as tallow, butter and lard,” and the industry is doing its best to ensure the continued use of vegetable oils in processed foods through plant breeding, interesterification and use of gums and stabilizers when the solution is to just go back to using healthy animal fats—tallow, butter and lard.
The Twilight of the GMOs?
A new study exposes the myth that genetically engineered plants can save the world from hunger. Researchers at the University of Kansas found that genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, with output of GM soybeans about 10 percent less than its conventional equivalent. Professor Barney Gordon of Kansas State University’s department of agronomy reports that many farmers have reported lower yields using GMO soybeans. A similar situation has occurred with cotton, where the total US crop declined as the GM technology took over (commondreams.org/archive/ 2008/04/20/8405/). GMO apologists counter that using GMO crops designed to withstand herbicides like Roundup have helped farmers be more productive. But weeds are now becoming herbicide-resistant. Johnson grass, one of the world’s most troublesome weeds, has become resistant to Roundup at sites in Arkansas and Mississippi (deltafarmpress.com/soybeans.johnsongrass-scott-0319/). Many studies have indicated that GMO foods can have negative health consequences but perhaps the final blow to GMOs will come with the association of GMO fungal and bacterial vectors with a horrible condition called Morgellon’s disease. Named after a skin condition described in the 1600s caused by the human scabie mite, the modern version is characterized by intensely itchy sores that produce multicolor fibers emerging from the skin. Victims describe a “sensation of things crawling beneath the skin.” The fibers, apparently made of cellulose, “are like pliable plastic and can be several millimeters long…fine as spider silk, yet strong enough to distend the skin when you pull them…” Many doctors insist that the syndrome is a “delusional parasitosis” and prescribe anti-psychotic drugs. Nevertheless, CDC has a webpage on Morgellon’s (describing it as “unexplained dermopathy”) and many sufferers have described their very physical symptoms on websites and blogs. Recently a researcher named Ahmed Kilani claims to have analyzed the fibers and found that they contain genetic material from both a fungus and a bacterium that are used in the commercial preparation of genetically modified foods (unknowncountry.com/news/?id=6486). If such reports can be confirmed with additional analyses, we predict a very hasty demise of GMOs.
Isn’t it interesting how every revelation about dangers in the modern food supply serves as a spring board to promote more processed foods. Thus, the industry has infused warnings about the dangers of saturated fats like butter into reports on the dangers of trans fatty acids. Many schools now stipulate that all foods brought from home must be processed, packaged items in order to protect those with peanut allergies. Reports of widespread vitamin D deficiencies (due in part to avoidance of animal fats) have triggered calls for consumption of more vitamin D-enriched lowfat milk. Now we have the crisis of rising food costs which the pundits are using to promote…more processed foods. Their advice includes checking out warehouse deals for white flour and conventional eggs, purchasing skim milk rather than whole (or even reconstituting dry milk) and above all clipping coupons, which help you save a few pennies on expensive processed items (articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/RaiseKids/How-ToFight5FoodBudgetKillers.aspx). The notion that we are not spending enough on food is a foreign concept in these discussions. Actually, you can double your spending on important items like milk and eggs, by purchasing raw milk and pastured eggs, and eliminate the really expensive foods like breakfast cereals, snack foods and frozen dinners, and still come out ahead, especially if you factor in your medical costs (See Healthy Eating Shouldn’t Cost an Arm and a Leg). The lesson still to be learned: cheap food is very expensive!
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial involved over 48,000 postmenopausal women, who were randomly assigned to either a regular unrestricted diet or to a “healthy” diet that was low in fat (20 percent fat) and high in fiber, with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, and six servings of grains per day—in other words, which followed the dietary guidelines to a T. The “healthy” eaters attended group sessions led by dieticians who administered “intense behavioral modification” to keep them on their diets. And the “healthy” diet women did surprisingly well, maintaining their fat intake at 24 percent of total calories and the dreaded saturated fat at 8 percent. By contrast, the control group consumed 38 percent of total calories as fat with about 12 percent as saturated fat (still not enough fat, especially not enough saturated fat, in our opinion). The “healthy” diet group also consumed more fruits and vegetables, grains and fiber. The women were followed closely for more than eight years while researchers recorded cases of clinically confirmed breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, confidently predicting, for example, a 14 percent decrease in breast cancer incidence. When the results came, the benefit of years of restrictive eating was. . . . zilch! No difference in the incidence of cancer, stroke and heart disease, and no difference in weight gain either (junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/10/junkfood-science-exclusive-big-one.html). Now what we need is a study that compares the outcome for those on a typical American diet low in saturated fat—even the control group’s saturated fat intake was far too low to support optimal health—with that of WAPF-ers who take cod liver oil, pile on the butter and cook in tallow and lard.
The latest theory is that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs prevent heart attacks not by lowering cholesterol but by preventing inflammation. The JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin) trial was designed to study over 15,000 patients without evidence of cardiovascular disease and with low LDL-cholesterol, but an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker for inflammation and is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular events. In other words, the trial was designed to provide justification for giving statin drugs to just about everybody, even those with low-LDL and no history of heart disease. Investigators were to look at the safety of longterm treatment with Crestor (rosuvastatin) compared with a placebo, with primary endpoints being total mortality, noncardiovascular mortality and adverse events. In March, AstroZeneca, makers of Crestor, issued a terse press release announcing that the trial has been stopped eighteen months early “because of unequivocal evidence of a reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality amongst patients who received Crestor when compared to a placebo” (www.marketwatch.com, March 31, 2008). No mention of total mortality, noncardiovascular mortality or adverse events. We can only assume that the overall results of the trial were disappointing and that AstroZeneca stopped the trial to prevent the word from getting out.
Food and agriculture scientists are hard at work creating new products for consumer enjoyment and industry profits. In New Zealand, scientists are working on a breed of cows that produce skim milk, or milk that contains “good-for-you” polyunsaturated butterfat, which is spreadable straight from the fridge. According to food technologist Ed Komorowski, “In future if whole milk can be made to contain unsaturated fats—which are good for you—then it might mean that people change back to whole milk products. The big thing about dairy products is taste, so this would be a way of giving the benefits of taste without the disadvantage of saturated fats” (sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070528084649.htm). Meanwhile, Cargill has developed a new functional system for the creation of frozen desserts and jellied candies with a chewy-creamy texture. The magic ingredient is a “new combination of gums and stabilizers within Cargill Texturizing Solutions’ portfolio.” The product, Lygomme FZ 615, is able to foam water ice at a very high level, meaning that it allows the addition of air to water (foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?n=84243-cargill-texture-ice-cream). The air-water combination can then be artificially flavored and sold at high prices as a food! Cargill also makes “a broad range of ingredients . . . including lecithin, hydrocolloids, starch and cultures” that can provide taste and texture in lowfat foods (foodqualitynews.com/news/ng.asp?id=83228-cargill-saturated-fat-texturisers). According to Pierre Boulanger of Cargill foods, in meat products, “animal fat is often replaced with vegetable fat. Texture is put back with alginates and other ingredients that can give the real feel of fat.” Perhaps one of these texturizer products contributed to the success of “a flavorful mozzarella that melts and tastes like regular mozzarella, but has only half the fat.” More than 46 million pounds of the new-fangled cheese have been used in the National School Lunch Program since the cheese was introduced in February, 1995 (ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar08/foods0308.htm). And if the thought of consuming alginates doesn’t make you feel too good, consider potato proteins “obtained as processing waste from the potato industry,” to be sold as blood pressure-lowering compounds (foodnavigator-usa.com/news/ng.asp?id=83904-potato-protein-ace-inhibitors-hypertension), or cranberry proteins, advertised as a “nondairy, non-soy” source of complete proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, minerals and antioxidants (npicenter.com/anm/templates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=20551&zoneid=8). For those concerned about gaining weight while eating all those lowfat, high-carb foods, help is here in the form of Hi-Maize resistant starch. This corn-derived product “resists” digestion in the small intestine and is added to breads, cereals, pasta and baked goods. It has a low glycemic index, is lower in available calories than regular carbs and, best of all, it doesn’t have to appear on the label! No, it can just be hidden as “fiber,” but the effects of the indigestible starch on your digestion may not be so hidden. Finally, in response to increasing problems with pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, food manufacturers are coming up with products that occur naturally in raw milk, including probiotic raw milk bacteria “to lower blood pressure and protect dairy foods from harmful microbes” (ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar08/foods0308.htm). Another is an anti-bacteria substance called nisin, produced by Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium that occurs in raw milk but not in pasteurized milk. USDA has developed a biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) film from “corn residues” that incorporates nisin and can be used “for wrapping meats and as a liner to coat the insides of drinks containers.” Researchers are also testing another film made from nisin and pectin, which would be edible (newscientist.com/channel/health/ mg19726495.100-cornbased-film-foils-foodpoisoning-bugs.html?feedId=online-news_rss20).
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2008.