Olive Oil linked to lower risk of stroke
- Created on Friday, 08 July 2011 17:21
A study in the journal Neurology found an association between olive oil consumption and a lower risk of stroke. This was a French study involving 7,625 participants.
Cécilia Samieri, PhD, of the University of Bordeaux and her associates analyzed data from 7,625 participants aged 65 and older in the Three-City Study involving Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier, France. Olive oil consumption frequency was determined from dietary intake documented upon enrollment between 1999 and 2000, and was categorized as no use, moderate use, or intensive use (characterized by the use of olive oil multiple times daily, both as a dressing and in cooking).
During a median follow-up period of 5.25 years, 148 strokes occurred in the study population. Adjusted analysis of the data revealed a 41 percent lower risk of stroke among intensive olive oil users compared to those who reported no use. The protective association was found for ischemic stroke, but not hemorrhagic stroke.
In a secondary study of 1,245 subjects for whom plasma fatty acid measurements were available, those with the highest levels of plasma oleic acid (a biological marker of oleic acid intake from olive oil) had a 73 percent reduction in stroke risk compared to those whose levels were lowest.
American Academy of Neurology member Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD of Columbia University remarked in an accompanying editorial that "Although the Mediterranean-type diet shares many features with many other healthy dietary patterns, it is distinct in its high fat content, mainly from olive oil."
"Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older," commented Dr Samieri, who is affiliated with the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bordeaux. "Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it."
It’s noteworthy to me that this protective effect from olive oil was observed without any kind of dietary restrictions. This is France we’re talking about, and French cooking. Besides using olive oil, they also use vast amounts of butter, meat, and other foods that are suspected of being atherogenic. Yet, without limiting anything else, the inclusion of olive oil made a startling difference in stroke risk.
However, I believe it makes a big difference whether you use olive oil as a dressing on a big green salad or if you fry lamb chops in it. Imagine if, in addition to using a high quality extra-virgin olive oil, you largely steer your daily diet towards unrefined plant foods, including many fruits and vegetables, plus leafy greens (both raw and cooked) and legumes, whole grains, etc. I dare say that you are going to do fabulously well.
I use extra-virgin olive oil every day, and it is the only oil I use.
The figs are in!
- Created on Monday, 04 July 2011 14:31
My figs are in. They started earlier this year, around June 20 instead of the usual first week of July, and that’s because of the relentless sun we’ve had since April. Presently, I am harvesting the Celeste fig, which is the most popular Southern fig. It is small and round and very sweet, and very easy to grow, being cold-hardy, drought-hardy, insect-hardy, and disease-hardy. I also have a late fig called the Green Ischia, which is from the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples off the coast of Italy, where my maternal grandparents were born and raised. The Green Ischia stays green on the outside even when ripe, but inside, they are a beautiful strawberry red, and even the flavor reminds me of strawberry.
If you are living in zone 8 or lower, meaning as far north as Oklahoma, Arkansas, and in a line across to North Carolina, but much further north in California, you really should plant a fig tree. They are easy to grow and do not require good, rich soil. I live on the fringe of the Texas Hill Country where the soil is very shallow. It goes down about 2 inches, and then you get to this hard, white, caliche rock. And from that point on, it’s more like mining in a quarry than digging in the dirt. Yet, the figs will grow in it.
The fig tree is really an amazing tree. It can freeze all the way down to the ground in the winter, but then come out again from the root in the spring and replace itself within two seasons. The resilience of the fig tree is unbelievable. Here in Austin, Texas, a lot of people will plant a fig tree, but in many cases, that is the last time they do anything for it. They don’t water it, feed it, prune it, shape it, or protect it in anyway. Despite that, the tree will often deliver some fruit. But, a fig tree responds well to any help you give it, and when you give them as much help as I give mine, they really take off. My fig trees are 25 feet tall, which is too tall for me to harvest the higher fruit, but I don’t mind sharing with the birds and squirrels.
Nutritionally, figs are not particularly high in vitamins, but they are very high in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and iron. And, that may be why they thrive in Central Texas because our calcium-based, caliche soils have an inexhaustible supply of calcium and other minerals.
There was an old saying in the South, “I don’t give a fig,” an expression of disregard and contempt, and what it was based on was the profusion of figs during the summer that were so plentiful and abundant that they were considered free for the taking. I know the feeling. I invite friends and family to come over and pick figs, and I wouldn’t dream of charging anybody. I’m just glad to see the fruit not go to waste.
So, if you have a sunny yard, front or back, by all means plant a fig tree. It is a life force you will definitely enjoy having in your living space.
Infant Mortality and Vaccinations
- Created on Saturday, 25 June 2011 23:04
American children are the most vaccinated in the world. The US government recommends 26 vaccine doses in the first year of life. I’ll say it again: that’s 26 vaccinations before the candles on the first birthday cake are blown out. Yet, 33 nations, all of whom administer fewer childhood vaccines, have better (i.e. lower) infant mortality rates than the United States. Even Communist Cuba has lower infant mortality than the USA.
So, two highly respected researchers did a scientific analysis of the question using a technique known as “linear regression analysis,” and they found a solid, statistically significant correlation between higher number of vaccine doses and higher rates of infant mortality. It was published in the highly reputable Human and Experimental Toxicology Journal, which is indexed by the National Library of Medicine.
Of the 10 nations with the lowest infant death rates, 7 of them have among the lowest childhood vaccination schedules in the world. For example, among developed nations, the ones with the lowest number of standard childhood vaccines, as ordained by government, are Japan and Sweden, and they rank 1 and 2, respectively, in having low infant mortality.
What does it mean? Does it mean that vaccinations are killing children? That is certainly what it looks like. I’m sure vaccination defenders would be quick to point out that statistics do not prove causation. They may not prove it, but they certainly do suggest it. But why are we even talking about a higher death rate among the more vaccinated? Vaccinations are supposed to prevent diseases, and even common childhood diseases, such as the measles, have a certain mortality. For instance, the United Nations says that in the year 2000 alone, approximately 733,000 children worldwide died of the measles. If vaccinations are effective, should not the more vaccinated have a markedly lower death rate by virtue of avoiding the ravages of deadly diseases? Isn't that the whole purpose of vaccinating?
Therefore, I believe the next step should be to compare death rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated children. And when I say unvaccinated children, I do not mean children who go unvaccinated because of poverty, neglect, and inadequate care. That would introduce a whole different variable. I am referring to children who go unvaccinated because their parents deem that it would be injurious to their health to vaccinate them, that is, they forego vaccination out of informed conviction.
So far, the medical establishment has refused to do such a study. But, the medical establishment has also long refused to do a study such as the one that was just done, and it, much to their dismay, did get published. So, to the researchers who did that study, Gary Goldman and Neil Miller, I urge you to next look at infant mortality rates and health status between vaccinated and unvaccinated children in developed countries- and again, where not vaccinating was an informed choice and not the product of adverse home circumstances.
Again I’ll say that I had only one child, a boy, and he never received any vaccinations. Today, he is a robust 37 year old man, and he has never had a needle stuck into him.
I deny the evidentiary basis for vaccinations (although, since they refuse to do double-blind, placebo-controlled studies for any vaccine, there really is no evidentiary basis), and I deny the whole theoretical and technical paradigm for vaccinations as well. And if any immunologist wants to debate it, I am available.
In Defense of Potatoes
- Created on Saturday, 18 June 2011 17:10
Elaine Magee, a registered dietician with WebMD.com, wrote an excellent article defending potatoes, and I applaud her for it. She got the idea from attending a nutrition seminar in which speaker after speaker maligned potatoes, disparaging the lowly spud against other vegetables, saying “vegetables are good- except for potatoes.” But worse than that, there have been moves afoot to ban potatoes from school lunch programs, as if they were a junk food contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. If they are, it’s only because of the likes of French fries.
Ms. Magee points out that a single medium-size white potato has more Vitamin C, B3, B6, and magnesium than a whole head of iceberg lettuce. If you include the skin of the potato, it has almost as much fiber as the lettuce. As for calories, that medium potato delivers 124, which isn’t bad, versus 116 for the lettuce.
Let me point out a few more things in defense of potatoes. Potatoes are one of the highest dietary sources of lipoic acid, which is an important antioxidant and detoxicant. Besides halting free radical damage, lipoic acid, by virtue of its sulfur content, helps chelate heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, and excrete them from the body.
Are potatoes fattening? Experiments have been done putting people on potato diets for extended periods. Each and every time, the potato diet has proved to be slenderizing. Last year (2010) Chris Voigt, the Executive Director of the Washington Potato Commission, went on an all-potato diet for 60 days. He ate 20 potatoes a day, and without toppings, such as cheese or sour cream or bacon bits. That’s 1200 potatoes over two months, totaling 400 pounds of food. The result was: he lost 17 pounds.
But what about all that easily-digested potato starch turning to sugar? Doesn’t that cause diabetes? Let’s examine it. Type I Diabetes is an auto-immune disease that is certainly not caused by potatoes. Genetics are believed to be involved. Allergy to cow’s milk protein has been implicated as a triggering factor. Infections have also been suggested as triggers, and nutritional deficiencies, such as gross Vitamin D deficiency, may set it off. But again, it has nothing to do with potatoes.
Type II Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, where the cell receptors to insulin just aren’t working. Insulin resistance is caused by obesity, and potatoes fight obesity- unless you fry them or top them with unhealthy fats. Insulin resistance has also been related to Vitamin D deficiency, chromium deficiency, and perhaps other deficiencies. However, no whole, unrefined, properly prepared vegetable, including potatoes, contributes to the development of insulin resistance or diabetes.
But, what if you are already diabetic? Couldn’t potatoes pose a problem then? There is a kernel of truth to that one. You do have to be careful about your entire food consumption once you become diabetic , but I would not eliminate potatoes even from the diet of a diabetic. For instance, a plain potato digests very quickly, but if you combine it with a wholesome fat such as avocado (which is a delicious combination) blood sugar spikes can be avoided. The important thing is to keep your eye on the big picture, and the big picture is that whole, natural, unrefined plant foods, including potatoes, support good health and good metabolism. If you don't want to eat white potatoes because they are white, then do as I do and buy the gold potatoes, which are available yearround. They taste great too.
Watermelon- the Viagra effect
- Created on Monday, 13 June 2011 13:06
It has been reported widely that watermelon may have an effect similar to the drug Viagra but without adverse side effects. Watermelon is high in the amino acid citrulline. The rinds are particularly high, but even the flesh contains 150 mgs of citrulline per 100 grams. Citrulline is a precursor to arginine, and arginine boosts nitric oxide, which is the main vaso-dilator in the human circulatory system.
Watermelon is truly an extraordinary food. First, it tastes sweeter than it is. The average watermelon has only 6 to 7 percent sugar by weight, which is less than grapefruit. But, most people find it tastes much sweeter. It’s almost like getting something for nothing. Second, red watermelon is very high in lycopene. You actually see the lycopene because it is the lycopene that makes the melon red. And lycopene, like citrulline, has been linked strongly to male sexual health. Third, watermelon is one of the highest dietary sources of glutathione, the sulfur-containing triple-amino acid that protects us from all kinds of free radicals and toxins.
What amuses me is how the mainstream sites, such as WebMD, have been disparaging the whole idea of better sex through watermelon. One doctor said that hoping watermelon will improve sex is like dropping a bottle in the Mississippi River at Minneapolis and hoping that it will have an impact in New Orleans. That is a very unfair and exaggerated analogy, and especially for people like me, because when I sit down to eat watermelon, I make a meal of it. We’re talking about some major flooding of my system with watermelon goodness. I really don’t know how much impact the citrulline model holds, but when you look at the entire phytonutrient content of watermelon, it is truly awesome. But, I understand why they have to disparage watermelon- because they don’t want men rethinking their need for Viagra, Cialis, and/or Levitra.
I am finding that the quality of watermelon this year is exceptionally good, and I think I know why. It’s because here in watermelon country (Texas) we are in the midst of a severe drought. Normally, they grow watermelons in Texas by rain alone, but this year they have had to irrigate. Our weather has not only been very dry but also very sunny. Non-stop sun. We haven’t had a cloudy day in months. And all that sunshine sweetens the watermelons like nothing else can.
Watermelon is probably the most popular food ever to spread out of Africa-unless you consider coffee a food.
Proton Pump Inhibitors- Now the lawsuits
- Created on Thursday, 09 June 2011 19:55
So, what should you do about acid reflux? Well, there are any number of things you could try, but whatever you do, don't take acid blockers. Do not take the proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, and do not take H2 antagonists such as Tagamet. Hey, if you want to take Regular Tums, I am not concerned about that because it's just calcium carbonate. But don't take the Dual Action Tums because it has an acid blocker added to the calcium.
To protect delicate tissues from the effects of acid reflux, you can take mastic gum. Another good substance for that purpose is deglycerated licorice. We offer the two combined in a product called Ceasefire, but you can find them both separetely, including online. Another thing that works well is peppermint, and we offer it as peppermint gum and peppermint mints. There are other home remedies that people swear by, that work for some but not others. But from the standpoint of addressing the cause, what appeals to me most is taking hydrochloric acid. That's right, if you increase the acid, the secreting stops, and the heartburn goes away. Remember what I said that most heartburn sufferers have too little stomach acid- not too much.
And then there are also all the lifestyle factors you can address. If you smoke, quit, because smoking causes acid reflux. If you drink alcohol, ditto, so cut it out. If you are overweight, drop that excess body fat because it causes acid reflux. And if you are used to stuffing yourself with food as a pastime, find another hobby because it isn't the acid that causes acid reflux: it is the pressure. And obviously, the more you fill your stomach- the more you stuff it- the more pressure there is going to be. So eat moderately. Eat to live; don't live to eat. Does eating spicy food contribute to the problem? Maybe a little, but I am more concerned about overeating than eating spices.
So what does Nexium really represent? The answer is: the crux of everything that is wrong in Medicine. Nexium is bad medicine pushed on millions.
New research on Selenium from Dr. Bruce Ames
- Created on Saturday, 04 June 2011 04:14
Dr. Bruce Ames is one of my heroes. For many decades, he has been the head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Berkeley. It’s unlikely that any single individual has produced more published research in the field of nutrition than Dr. Ames. And, he is still at the top of his profession at the age of 83.
His latest research was published in the June issue of the Journal of American Experimental Biology. It concerns the subtle effects of selenium deficiency. Selenium is very subject to deficiency because many soils in the world are lacking in it, and plants can grow perfectly well without it. You’ve heard about goiter belts resulting from iodine-depleted soils, and a similar situation exists with selenium.
What Dr. Ames discovered is that even modest, sub-clinical selenium deficiency retards the activity of at least 12 important seleno-proteins. These seleno-proteins have protective effects which are directly related to the prevention of age-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and immunological condtions.
"The same set of age-related diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and immune dysfunction, are prospectively associated with modest selenium deficiency and also with widespread dysfunction of nonessential selenoproteins, suggesting that selenium deficiency could be a causal factor in many of the most common diseases of aging. Modest selenium deficiency is common in many parts of the world; optimal intake of selenium could significantly prevent future disease."
So far, selenium has been associated with preventing breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer. More research is underway as we speak, and I look forward to great progress in disease control through selenium nutriture in the years ahead.
All The Fuss About Dr. Cynthia Kenyon
- Created on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 20:19
Dr. Cynthia Kenyon is a genetic researcher who has done experiments with roundworms. She found that roundworms age more rapidly when given glucose. Feeding them as little as .1% glucose causes them to age faster. Their normal diet is pure bacteria. Roundworms are very small- too small to see with the naked eye.
Going up as high as 2% dietary glucose caused even more accelerated aging in the roundworms. But, that’s as high as she went.
Besides feeding them varying amounts of glucose, she has done gene modification on roundworms that blocked their “insulin signaling” which resulted in longer lifespan.
As a result of these experiments on roundworms, Dr. Kenyon has changed her diet. She eats:
“No desserts. No sweets. No potatoes. No rice. No bread. No pasta. When I say ‘no,’ I mean ‘no, or not much,’ she notes. Instead, eat green vegetables. Eat the fruits that aren't too sweet. Meat? Meat, yes, of course. Avocados. All green and non-starchy vegetables. Nuts. Fish. Chicken. That's what I eat. Cheese. Eggs. And one glass of red wine a day.”
In other words, Atkins, all over again.
But, if it’s really logical to change the diet of a human being based on experiments with roundworms, then why stop there? There are lots of other creatures. If you can make deductions going from roundworms to humans, then you have to apply the same reasoning across the board to other animals. I’ve got birds and squirrels eating figs in my backyard, and now I’m really worried about those critters. They can’t tolerate that fructose. They’re shortening their lives. And there are ants that get into my figs sometimes as well- the poor devils. It seems that the whole natural world is oblivious to the wisdom of Dr. Kenyon.
I don’t know how old Dr. Kenyon is, but let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that she gets pregnant and has a baby. Now she is breastfeeding. But wait! Breast milk is loaded with sugar! Forget about 2% of calories from sugar, as she fed the worms. Human breast milk has nearly 40% of its calories as sugar! Human milk is the sweetest milk on the planet, and by far. In this whole wide world of mammals, going from the tiny pygmy shrew which weighs less than 2 grams all the way up to the blue whale, which is the largest animal that has ever lived, to every mammal in between, none makes a milk as sweet as ours. Nothing even comes close. Human breast milk, by weight, is over 7% sugar! In comparison, cow’s milk is only 4.8%, goat’s milk 4.4%, sheep milk 5.1%, and water buffalo milk 4.9%. And it goes on and on. When it comes to milk, we, the human race, are the most highly sugared species in the world.
But, let’s assume Dr. Kenyon isn’t happy about that. After all, she doesn’t want her baby aging prematurely. So, she tries to lower the sugar content of her breast milk by avoiding all sugars and starches. She stands little chance of success. Her body will thwart her. Her body will convert the glycerol portion of fat and certain amino acids that are “glucogenic” into glucose and then into lactose. Her baby is going to get just as much sugar as anybody else’s- whether she likes it or not.
Another interesting fact about human milk is that it is very low in protein. It’s only 1% protein by weight. In comparison, cow’s milk is 3.4%, goat 3.2%, sheep 5.4%, dog 8.0%, and cat 10.6%. Some analyses of human breast milk have come in as low as .8% protein. And yet, on that small amount of protein, a human infant can double its birth weight in 6 months. It is the most rapidly growing period in human life. What does that tell you about the amount of protein that a human being really needs?
Perhaps Dr. Kenyon would say that it’s normal to pack in lots of sugar while nursing, but once you’re weaned, it’s Atkins time. But, the problem is that we’ve got all those sugar sensors on the tips of our tongues. There are thousands of them. Humans are the most powerful sugar detectors on the planet. Our ability to taste sugar is higher and stronger than any other creature. And why are the sugar detectors all crowded on the tip of the tongue? It’s because if you’re out in the jungle and you discover a new fruit, you can dip the tip of your tongue into it to determine if it’s any good to eat. And the criteria is: if it’s sweet it’s good; if it’s bitter, sour, or caustic, it’s bad, so you spit it out. Those sugar detectors weren’t put there for you to commit suicide with. They were put there to connect you to your natural fuel.
I think we all agree that, beyond breastfeeding, babies hold on to their sweet tooth. It doesn’t go away when the milk dries up. The first food my son received (after nursing) was blended cantaloupe. And it was a sweet one too, and he lapped it down with gusto. And, the sweet tooth is not just an infant thing. It’s a lifelong thing for human beings. It’s a cardinal human trait. It is a primal and instinctual craving- as much so as sex. Some foods you have to cultivate a taste for. Who was born with a taste for frog’s legs? But craving sugar goes to the very heart of who we are as a species.
But what about insulin? Insulin is a normal, physiological influence. Insulin opens the door so that glucose can enter your cells. It also opens the door so that amino acids can enter your cells. So yes, when you eat your high-protein diet with all that meat, you are provoking insulin release. As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005, beef provokes more insulin release than whole wheat, cheese more than white pasta, and fish more than porridge. Are you listening Dr. Mercola? Insulin also opens the door so that potassium can enter your cells, which is critically important. Without proper potassium, your nerves and muscles don’t function correctly, and your fluid balance gets out of whack.
Insulin resistance is where the cell receptors for insulin aren’t responding properly, so the door doesn’t open. British endocrinologist Dr. James Mann- who is considered one of the leading endocrinologists in the world- says that high-protein/low-carb diets increase insulin resistance and raise the risk of developing diabetes. He says: “We advise people strongly against the Atkins diet. We believe it has a powerful effect to increase insulin resistance.” Keep in mind that it is widely believed in Medicine that insulin resistance is caused primarily by bodily fatness, and particularly, abdominal fatness.
Unrefined carbs do not promote bodily fatness. I eat them every day, multiple times. I eat lots of fruits, melons, and berries. I eat starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and yams. I eat brown rice, and I eat beans of all kinds. I enjoy oatmeal. That’s a lot of carbs. Why hasn’t it made me fat?
I’ll tell you a little secret, and I’m embarrassed to tell you this: I bought some shorts for the summer yesterday, and I had to go to the boys' department. That’s right: I am a 60 year old man wearing boys' pants. You see, I am very slim-waisted, and the smallest adult size is too baggy. I am 5’6” and weigh 130 pounds. That puts me at the low end of the normal range on most charts. But, I have very low body fat, and it keeps my waist very slim, less than 30 inches. My point in telling you this is that eating unrefined carbohydrates has not made me fat.
My advice to Dr. Kenyon is: forget about the roundworms. You’re wasting your time. People are not giant roundworms. Here’s an idea: do research on people. You could study fluctuations in diurnal blood sugar on different diets. You could measure and compare the formation of various glycation endproducts, including glycated hemoglobin, on different diets. That would be interesting and relevant. But, in the conclusions you are drawing from your roundworm experiments, you are taking a huge flight of fancy.
And to my readers, what should you do about carbs? Well, certainly, you should avoid all refined carbs. Dr. Kenyon and I are in complete agreement about that. And many times you can just cut them out and replace them with nothing. For instance, if you’re used to having a cold bottle of soda in the afternoon as a pick-me-up, replace it with a cold bottle of carbonated mineral water with fruit essence. It has no calories, so for all practical purposes, it’s just plain water. But, it’s very refreshing, and it really hits the spot. And otherwise, eat fruits, melons, berries, starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams, and complex carbs like brown rice and black beans. All of that is good food. Of course, the amount you should eat depends on how active you are. And of course, if you are diabetic, then you do have to be careful with fruits and certain other carbs. For instance, you may have to eat your fruits in the morning. But, just because a sensitivity to carbohydrates develops after you become diabetic does not mean that eating unrefined carbohydrates in the first place causes diabetes. They most certainly do not.