In an effort to counter declining sales, the giant food processor Nestlé is interested in “tapping into an estimated $15 billion market for prescription-based powders and drinks intended to meet specific nutritional requirements to treat diseases.” Here’s how it works: you spend your life eating Nestlé’s food-like substances; then you develop a disease that modern doctors seem unable to treat; then you try one of Nestlé’s food-like powders or drinks available from your doctor. The products “will have active ingredients derived from food products or dietary ingredients” but that does not mean they are food. Of course the solution to avoiding and even treating disease is to consume only real food—real, nutrient-dense food, but there is no profit in such a logical approach for Nestlé (Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2016).
The debate between vegetarians and non-vegetarians is nothing new. Historic Forde Abbey has two dining rooms. The second was built around the year 1500 to separate the meat-eating monks from the vegetarians, who didn’t want to associate with those who ate animal foods (http://tinyurl.com/z4e45e2)!
It seems there is no escaping glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Deemed a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization, glyphosate–sprayed grains increase the rate of birth defects and stillborn babies in pigs. It can show up in irrigation water and drift from spraying. A recent study found glyphosate in California wines, even wines made with organic grapes (thelibertybeacon.com, March 30, 2016). The contamination of conventional wine was twenty-eight times higher than organic wine, with levels ranging from 0.659 ppb in organic to 18.74 ppb in conventional. The wines tested came from the Napa Valley, and Sonoma and Mendocino counties (where breast cancer rates are 10-20 percent higher than the national average). Glyphosate residues turn up in wheat as well, even though, like grapes, it is not a GMO crop—farmers use Roundup to desiccate wheat stalks just before harvest. In tests carried out by Tropical Traditions (a private company), conventional wheat tested at 0.07-0.09 mg/kg while organic wheat tested only slightly lower at 0.03-0.06 mg/kg. (For a typical GMO crop such as soybeans the range is 3.3-5.7 mg/kg, considerably higher.) The point is, we can’t completely avoid glyphosate, even if we choose only organic food and beverages. Scientists in Germany have found urine glyphosate residue at levels five times higher than the legal limit for drinking water in three-quarters of the population. Apologists claim that glyphosate is “quickly excreted in the urine and poses no risk.” One small light on the horizon: the personal injury lawyers have gotten into the act. Maybe the route to removing Roundup from general use is through the courts and not via government action.
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FIGHT CHRONIC DISEASE?
When an organization promoting “health” places a full-page ad in The Washington Post, it pays to look a little deeper. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD, FightChronicDisease.org) published a full-page letter to the presidential candidates on March 8, 2016, signed by almost ninety important sounding professors from prestigious universities, urging the candidates to determine “the most effective strategy and allocation of resources to reduce the burden of chronic disease” in America. If you search “nutrition” on this site, you will find that the organization wishes to advance “science-based nutrition” and is against “processed foods high in fat, sodium and calories”—no mention of sugar, of course, while “fat” conjures up notions of lard and butter. The PFCD seems to be in partnership with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org), which endorses the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and advises us to “replace solid fats such as butter or margarine with oils when cooking or baking.” Babies should get “single grain infant cereal mixed with formula or breast milk” as their weaning food. Recipes on the eatright.org site favor chocolate and gut-destroying raw oats, as in “No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Oat Bars” and a “Tropical Fruit Smoothie” made with fat-free milk and raw rolled oats. Other recipes call for lowfat mayonnaise, agave nectar, low-sodium chicken broth and tofu. In short, PFCD promotes the very diet that has created America’s health crisis in the first place, and seems to have collected a lot of money to convince us to continue with the same ole’ disastrous dietary advice.
HAVE SOME DELICIOUS WOODY BREAST
In the quest to develop a chicken that grows as big as possible in the shortest amount of time, the poultry industry has run into an unexpected problem: woody breast. A rising number of broiler chicken breast fillets are now laced with hard fibers, which consumers find repulsive and disgusting—or as one industry rep delicately put it “you have to put more energy in to chew on this kind of meat.” In 1930, the average chicken weighed about two and one-half pounds compared to over six pounds in 2010; and it took fifty days to put a pound on a chicken in 1930 compared to just under eight days in 2010. Of course, the industry is looking at the bottom line. Said one analyst: “Is it worth it to produce more pounds and lose business because your customer doesn’t want to take your woody breast meat anymore?” Some processing plants are able to sort out woody breast meat and vector it into the production of chicken sausage. Another problem is “green muscle disease” due to hemorrhages in the muscle. Scientists are looking for a “genetic component” to these conditions but the real solution is for consumers to boycott commercial chicken and purchase their poultry from farmers raising their birds outdoors, the way nature intended (Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2016).
LET’S HAVE A NISIN MILKSHAKE
“Nisin is a polycyclic antibacterial peptide produced by the bacterium Lactococcus lactis that is used as a food preservative.” This is the scientific description of this beautiful, complex molecule containing the components of thirty-four amino acids. While most such bacteriocins inhibit only closely related species, nisin is a rare example of a “broad-spectrum” bacteriocin effective against many pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Clostridium botulinum. It is also particularly effective against spores. New research indicates that nisin can also protect against cancer. Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry found that feeding rats a “nisin milkshake” killed 70-80 percent of head and neck tumor cells after nine weeks and extended survival (PLOS ONE 2015 Jul 1;10(7)). Of course this will lead to the development of expensive nisin products, but we know that there is a much less expensive—and probably more effective—source: raw milk. Nisin is destroyed by heat so the milk has to be unpasteurized to get all the anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic effects.
You may not have seen this reported on the front page of your newspaper, but a mumps outbreak affecting at least forty students at Harvard University has officials panicked and puzzled—because all of them were vaccinated. A second outbreak has occurred at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Dr. William Schaffner, described in the media as “an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University,” admits that colleges and universities have been at the center of many mumps outbreaks in recent years. “Universities are a wonderful receptor site for young adults incubating mumps,” he noted, while not addressing the obvious: if they are all vaccinated and supposedly protected, why are they getting sick? Mumps is particularly serious in adult men because it can cause sterility. According to CDC, “Two doses of the vaccine are approximately 88 percent effective at preventing mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective”—a claim for which no research is provided. Of course, the best protection against lifelong infertility from the mumps is to get the disease when you are young—we need mumps incubation parties for our boys, not vaccinations to delay getting mumps until adulthood.
VITAMIN A FOR ENTERIC PATHOGENS
You can always count on hearing the latest on vitamin A in these pages, so we are happy to present the results of a 2015 study on vitamin A deficiency in mice. Mice deficient in vitamin A and exposed to a pathogen developed severe gut infection, lethal in 40 percent of the cases. Vitamin A-sufficient mice survived and cleared the infection in twenty-five days. The data suggest that vitamin A regulates T cell function to limit inflammation following chemical and infectious injury to the gut—important findings for anyone suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease or other types of intestinal inflammation. The findings also explain why it is so important to drink whole milk, because the vitamin A carried in the fat will protect against any possible infection from the milk (Infection and Immunity July 2015;83(7):2984-2991).
The main problem doctors have with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs is what they call “non-adherence.” People have side effects when they take them, most often muscle pain, but also memory and cognitive problems and new-onset diabetes. Something like 50 percent of all patients put on statins have discontinued them after one year. So the pharmaceutical industry had high hopes for a drug called evacetrapib, which reduces LDL-cholesterol and raises HDL-cholesterol by inhibiting something called CETP (cholesterolester transfer protein). In a recent study, patients taking the drug saw their LDL levels fall about 37 percent and their HDL more than double. Yet these encouraging numbers did nothing for the participants. The number of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease were practically the same in the treatment and placebo groups. The researchers naturally are scratching their heads. “It’s the most mind-boggling question. How can a drug that lowers something that is associated with benefit not show any benefit?” asked Dr. Stephen Nicholls, the study’s principal investigator (New York Times, April 4, 2014). Of course, readers of Wise Traditions know the answer—that LDL levels are not good predictors of tendency to heart disease, and even if they are, the answer is not to force them lower but to change the conditions known to raise cardiovascular risk—especially the consumption of processed foods based on vegetable oils and refined sweeteners.
A massive recall involving millions of packages of frozen fruits and vegetables shows the folly of trying to regulate outbreaks with new regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The frozen foods—over four hundred products selling over forty brand names from DRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Washington—were shipped to all fifty U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. The outbreak so far has sickened eight and caused two deaths. Many of the food items could be lingering in people’s freezers—and could be there for years. In addition, forty-seven million pounds of vegetables from the CRF plant went into seventy Asian-style products produced by Tokyo-based Ajinooto Windsor, which had to recall its products as well (yahoo.com, May 20, 2016). It’s doubtful that any of the provisions in FSMA could have prevented an outbreak like this; meanwhile the regulations fall heavily on small producers that do not pose any threat for widespread illness and death. The solution? Hold producers responsible for the safety of their food while encouraging Americans to eat fresh, local and artisan.