In the November issue of Nutrition and Cancer, Italian researchers reported on a protective effect against cancer from plant compounds that include flavinoids and proanthocyanidins. Collectively known as "polyphenols" these compounds are found in fruits and vegetables, and other plants foods, including whole grains, nuts, and legumes. It's believed that the protective effect of plant foods against a wide range of chronic diseases is due largely to polyphenols.
Dr. Carlo La Vecchia and colleagues from the University of Milan evaluated data collected at multiple Italian centers since the early 1990s. The studies included a total of 9,622 cases of cancer and 16,050 controls. Based on questionaires, the participants' diets were analyzed for 6 classes of flavonoids: isoflavones, anthocyanidins, flavanols, flavanones, flavones and flavonols. Also, 6 distinct classes of proanthocyanidins were evaluated. And the results showed the following:
For those whose intake of total flavonoids was in the top one-fifth of participants, there was a 44 percent lower risk of oral cancer and a 40 percent lower risk of laryngeal cancer compared to those whose intake was in the lowest fifth. Participants whose intake of flavanones was among the top one-fifth had a 49 percent lower risk of oral cancer and a 40 percent lower risk of laryngeal cancer, and those whose flavonols were highest experienced 38 percent less oral cancer and 68 percent lower risk of laryngeal cancer. Among those whose flavanol intake was highest there was a 36 percent decrease in laryngeal cancer compared to the lowest group, and for subjects whose flavanone intake was highest, the risk of esophageal cancer was 62 percent lower.
When colorectal cancer was considered, subjects whose intake of anthocyanidins was highest had a 33 percent less risk of this disease compared to the lowest group, and for those having the highest intake of flavonols, flavones and isoflavones, there was a 36 percent, 22 percent and 24 percent lower risk respectively. Proanthocyanidins lowered the risk of colon cancer by 42 percent.
The researchers found that rates of breast, ovarian, and kidney cancers were similarly slashed by high polyphenol consumption.
Dr La Vecchia and coauthors noted that a recent Japanese investigation revealed a decreased risk of localized prostate cancer among those with the greatest intake of isoflavones- a class of nutrients with low intakes among Italians. He concluded by saying:
"The findings from this large network of Italian case-control studies have provided support for an apparent protective role of flavanones on upper aerodigestive tract cancers; flavonols, anthocyanidins, and proanthocyanidins on colorectal cancer; flavonols and flavones on breast cancer; isoflavones on ovarian cancer; and flavonols on renal cancer."
So, what foods are highest in polyphenols? Berries top the list, including all berries, and blueberries may be at the very top. Fruits in general are very high in polyphenols, particularly richly-hued fruits. Pomegranites, cherries, red grapes, and red plums are very high in polyphenols, but even apples and pears score high. Vegetables are generally lower in polyphenols than fruits, but red vegetables, such as red beets and red cabbage are exceptions.Then, nuts, beans, and whole grains are close to equal in their phenolic content. Cocoa is a legume, and it's high in polyphenols, but obviously, it takes a lot of processing to transform cocoa beans into chocolate. If you consume chocolate, you should avoid milk chocolate, and you should look for chocolate that is sweetened with fruits rather than refined sugar. However, even with that, I don't think chocolate should be eaten as a dietary staple. I think we all know, intuitively, that when we eat a plum, we are eating a natural food, but when we eat chocolate, we are eating candy.
The most important thing is to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
A new study out of the University of North Carolina has shown that those who consume the most magnesium cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next 20 years, approximately in half. That's a huge difference. But, it's not the first such study. A large study out of Harvard Univeristy done in 2003 and involving over 125,000 people produced similar results.
Why would magnesium lower the risk of diabetes? We think of magnesium as a hard mineral, like calcium, and it is the second most abundant mineral in bone after calcium. However, magnesium is more than a structural mineral. It is also an enzymatic mineral. It acts as a "co-factor" in many of the body's chemical reactions, including reactions that process glucose. So far, we know of over 300 biochemical reactions in which magnesium serves as co-factor, but there may be more.
Magnesium is widely distributed in natural foods, and the best sources are plants. Nuts, beans, and whole grains are all rich in magnesium. Green vegetables are high in magnesium, and the greener they are, the more magnesium they have. That's because magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule which produces the green color. Hence, the green color is the visual manifestation of the presence of magnesium. It's odd because magnesium, by itself, is white, not green. But, within the ring-like structure of chlorophyll with magnesium at the center, it acts like a prism that turns it green. Spinach is often listed as a rich source of magnesium, and that's because it is so green. Fruits also provide magneisum, with bananas and figs being the highest among the commonly eaten fruits.
If your diet is high in animal foods and refined foods, you will come up short in magnesium. You must eat a wide variety of unrefined plants in order to get enough magnesium. How much magnesium do you need? The current RDA for magnesum in adults is 400 mgs. If every bite of food you eat is an unrefined plant, I do believe you will get that much or more. The average American is said to be getting only 250 to 300 mgs a day- a marginal deficiency which, over time, increases the risk of disease. And, it's alarming to realize that children are among the most shortchanged in magnesium.
But, if you are an adult eating a healthy, plant-based diet, as I recommend, do you also need magnesium supplements? I'll answer by saying that I don't mind a bit that my Extend Core Multi from VRP provides an extra 150 mgs of magnesium per day. I consider it good insurance, and it has the most absorbable forms of magnesium, such as magnesium aspartate and magnesium citrate. Magnesium succinate and magnesium taurinate are also good forms of magnesium, much better than the old standard magnesium oxide, which is poorly absorbed. So, I'm sure I'm getting enough magnesium, but if I had certain health problems, such as high blood pressure, I would take even higher amounts. We offer an all-magnesium supplement called Opti-Mag which is excellent and has multiple forms of readily absorbed magnesium. And, I think of Opti-Mag as a therapeutic supplement, as a way of using magnesium to address certain health issues. ADD in children or adults is another condition for which extra magnesium is warranted.
But, it starts with eating an unrefined, plant-based diet. That's the key to getting enough magnesium and so many other vital nutrients. Plants rule!
I received a call yesterday from an 88 year old woman who has multiple health problems, including fluid on her lungs, and among the drugs that she is taking is a diuretic. And it got me thinking of how widespread the use of diuretics is. Diuretics are the most widely prescribed drugs to treat hypertension, and they are considered first-line treatment. Diuretics are always prescribed in cases of heart failure. Fluid retention just about anywhere in the body is treated with diuretics- and not just common leg swelling. For instance, if a patient doesn't like the puffiness around her eyes in the morning, a diuretic is often given for that too.
Let's get one thing straight: diuretics do not cure anything; they do not correct anything. What they do is add a layer of pharmacological dehydration to whatever problem already exists. In so doing, they can camouflage the existing problem. Pharmacological (drug-induced) dehydration is an abnormality, a disease, an iatrogenic disease. It is a dangerous deviation from normal. And, diuretics work not by enabling the kidneys to work better, but by interfering with and disrupting their normal, healthy function. To understand why that is so, we have to look at how the kidneys work.
Kidney filtration starts with blood passing through a specialized tuft of high-pressure capillaries called a glomerulus. Because of the high pressure, water and disssolved substances are forced out of the capillary into the capsule that surrounds the glomerulus, called Bowman's capsule. Then comes a long tubular system known as the renal tubule. There, the body reclaims some of the initial filtrate, including about two-thirds of the salt and water, and virtually all of the organic compounds, such as glucose and amino acids. The whole idea is to reclaim the good and leave behind the bad.
Diuretics work by sabotaging the reclamation process so that more of the initial glomerular filtrate reaches the bladder. When that happens, valuable minerals, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, are lost. And keep in mind that the normal performance of the kidneys is a very delicate and intricate process. The body goes to great and complicated lengths to balance its chemistry, including it's pH, by way of the kidneys. To go in there, as with a sledgehammer, and pharmacologically force sweeping changes to this delicate process is bound to cause havoc. You wouldn't try to adjust a wrist watch with a sledge hammer, but they might as well be doing that when they give people diuretics.
So, what is the result of taking diuretics? As I said, It puts you into a state of pharmacological dehydration which gets superimposed on top of your original pathological condition. So, are you better or worse? But, don't be fooled by appearances. The result may have some semblance to a normal, healthy state, but it is actually further removed from it. You, the poor patient, are being deceived, and unfortunately, so is your misguided doctor. It's very frustrating to me that so few doctors realize that the "improvement" that comes from taking a diuretic is just a trick, a charade, a medical shenanigan. Nobody gets their issues resolved by taking diuretics. Nobody. It's just a way of masking symptoms and putting additional strain on the body. I suppose it wouldn't matter if it were harmless. But, it isn't. It causes widespread disruption of the body's delicate balance.
I like to make an analogy to a bicycle wheel being "out of true." To get that perfect rotation back, a wobbly wheel is placed in a device, and then the spokes are adjusted- some tightened and some loosened until the wheel rotates evenly again. But, you can't go about it wily-nily. If you don't know what you're doing, and you start cavalierly tightening and loosening spokes to correct the wobble, you can easily create another wobble somewhere else that is often worse than the original one. You'd be surprised how easy it is to make a bad wheel worse when trying to fix it- if you don't know what you're doing. You can easily dig yourself in deeper. And that's exactly what happens when you take a diuretic; you're just digging yourself in deeper, making a bad situation worse. And that's why when you start taking a diuretic, your problems never go away. It's just a matter of time before the failure of it becomes apparent with the manifestation of new symptoms- that will undoubtedly be treated with other drugs. They are setting you up for unending medical dependency. So, even if there seems to be an initial improvement symptomatically from taking the diuretic, it will always prove to be temporary and fleeting. No real good comes from it. Diuretics never restored anyone to health. It's just a trap, a miserable, medical trap.
Am I saying that there is no legitamate, beneficial use of diuretics? Let me put it this way: I can't think of a single condition in which I would be willing to take a diuretic. Not one. If I had high blood pressure, I would do other things to bring it down, constructive things, relating to diet, exercise, stress relief, and the use of safe, natural supplements. If my heart were failing, I would take actions that stood a chance to make it stronger rather than cover up the manifestations of my weak heart with diuretics. If I had fluid retention relating to a glandular deficiency, I would have that situation analyzed and addressed. For instance, if I were found to be hypothyroid, I would certainly be willing to take thyroid hormone, but I would not, be willing to take diuretics. If my legs were swollen because of venous insufficiency (bad valves etc.) I would walk as much as possible, use the slant board every day, wear supportive legwear, eat well (meaning lots of fruits and vegetables), and I would take natural botannicals that have been shown to support vascular health, but I would not take diuretics. And if I had fluid on my lungs, I would address the causes of it, but I would not waste time and complicate my condition by taking diuretics. It's a road that leads nowhere good.
In case I haven't made myself clear: I DON'T LIKE DIURETICS. They don't do any good; they just create the illusion of improvement. It's just another way that doctors cause havoc under the guise of helping people.
We are inundated with reports about studies of the health benefits of alcohol, especially relating to the heart, and you have to wonder who is paying for all those studies. The alcohol industry pays for much of that research, but not as much as the U.S. government pays for. But now, scientists from the UK's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) have released a study which assessed which drugs cause the most harm to both drug-users and to society. And according to their analysis, alcohol is the most harmful drug in the world- worse than both crack cocaine and heroin.
Published in the medical journal Lancet- one of the most respected medical journals in the world- this study used a process called "Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis" (MCDA) to assess damage caused by various drugs. Nine of the criteria looked at specific harms inflicted on drug-users, while the other seven criteria looked at the harms caused to others. The results were that alcohol was found to be nearly three times more harmful than cocaine and eight times more harmful than Ecstasy.
"It is intriguing to note that the two legal drugs assessed — alcohol and tobacco — score in the upper segment of the ranking scale, indicating that legal drugs cause at least as much harm as do illegal substances," said David Nutt, chairman of ISCD, and author of the study. His report concluded that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."
Nutt was forced to resign from the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) last year after criticizing British ministers for ignoring scientific evidence showing that alcohol, which is legal, causes more damage than cannabis (marijuana), which is illegal.
The World Health Organization estimates that risks linked to alcohol cause 2.5 million deaths a year from heart and liver disease, road accidents, suicides and cancer -- accounting for 3.8 percent of all deaths.
The WHO also says that alcohol is the third leading risk factor for premature death and disabilities worldwide.
Although this report appeared in the highly revered Lancet, coverage of it was conspicuously absent from the American mainstream media. Here they pounce on every positive news story about alcohol but go silent on the negative ones. Why is that? It's because of the War on Drugs. It makes no sense to criminalize marijuana and other drugs while alcohol is perfectly legal. So, to rationalize that hypocrisy, they laud the supposed health benefits of alcohol. But don't buy into it. Alcohol is toxic to every cell in your body, and it impairs at every level of consumption, down to the smallest drink. The intoxicating effect of alcohol can be easily demonstrated from just one drink. The ideal amount of alcohol in anyone's health program is the amount I consume, which is zero.
A new study out of the UK found that patients taking low-dose aspirin for heart disease had a 25% lower risk of colon cancer, and there was a 30% lower risk of death from colon cancer.
Colon cancer is the most commonly occurring form of cancer, except for lung cancer, which is highly correlated with smoking tobacco. So, if you are a longterm non-smoker, colon cancer is probably the most likely cancer that you are going to get.
So, should we all get onboard the Aspirin Express? I am impressed with these results, but I am still wary. And that's because I know of too many catastrophes from taking aspirin. People have died from taking aspirin, either deliberately by taking aspirin to commit suicide (and, it is a very painful death) or dying accidentally by taking excessive amounts of aspirin in seeking pain relief.
Aspirin is a blood thinner. In a powerful way, it deactivates your blood platelets. And, you don't have to take a lot of aspirin to deactivate all of your blood platelets. And those platelets weren't put there to cause heart attacks. They were put there to deal with the traumatic hemorrhages and also the subtle little hemorrhages that are a part of daily life. I have said many times that you need your stomach acid, and you have no business trying to deactivate it. Likewise, you need your blood platelets, and you have no business trying to deactivate them.
However, I admit that when a person is on the verge of a heart attack, aspirin may make the difference between life and death. So, if a cardiologist recommends aspirin to a heart patient, I do not object.
But, that doesn't mean that I am ready to start taking aspirin myself. I like to think that I am not on the verge of a heart attack.
Aspirin is definitely an irritant. They say that every time you swallow an aspirin, you make a hole in your stomach- wherever the aspirin lands. So, some have suggested that instead of swallowing aspirin, we should let it dissolve in our mouths while moving it around so that it doesn't rest in the same place for very long. Of course, there is also buffered aspirin, but I don't know how effective it is.
In a way, we all take aspirin every day because aspirin is a form of salicylic acid, and there are natural salicylates in fresh produce- fruits and vegetables. The difference is that it's very dilute, and it's mixed with other things, so you never get a concentrated (and therefore irritating) dose, as when you swallow an aspirin tablet. So, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is definitely a good idea- for this reason and for many other reasons.
So personally, I am not ready to start taking aspirin. But, I never say never. Perhaps at a future point in my life, I will decide to take it, depending on what's going on. But for now, I am content to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to get those natural salicylates in a very safe form. And, I also take the herb, turmeric. Turmeric has blood-thinning effects like aspirin. Not as much- but enough. Turmeric also has a non-proliferative effect like aspirin. I am referring to the effect aspirin has of causing the cells that line the colon to shed regularly and rapidly. This helps to lower the risk of cancer. With turmeric, you get that effect without the irritating effects of aspirin. I have never heard of anyone hemorrhaging from taking turmeric. And like aspirin, turmeric has cardio-protective effects.
I'll point out that other substances in my regimen also have blood-thinning effects, including fish oil and Vitamin E. So, when you add the turmeric and the high fruit and vegetable diet, I dare say that you are getting all the bloodthinning you could possibly need- assuming that you are reasonably healthy to begin with.
So, that's why you see turmeric listed on the Daily Program page of this website, which is a list of the supplements I take. And now I hope you understand why aspirin is not on that list.