Why Is Raw Milk Illegal?


In Great Britain, 0.7 percent of all milk sold is raw. It may not sound like a lot, until you consider that it can only be sold on the farm. The fact is that people value raw milk and are willing to seek it out for a multitude of reasons — health, taste, animal welfare and the environment, for example — even if doing so requires more than a simple trip to the grocery store.

You may also consider raw milk to be a thing of the past, something that was consumed out of necessity because pasteurization hadn’t yet been invented. But raw milk is making a comeback and is increasingly popular among those looking for natural, whole and unprocessed foods in a form that’s as close to nature as you can get, i.e., raw.

In the video above, Mark McAfee, founder and chairman of the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI), explains why raw milk is like no other food— a powerful food that’s the first food of life for many creatures.

Raw Milk Is the First Food of Life

McAfee explains that while pasteurized milk has a lack of value added, there’s innate value added in raw milk, including its rich beneficial bacteria counts, that can’t be faked. When thinking about the first food of life for humans — breast milk — it’s always consumed “raw.”

Pasteurizing this perfect food would destroy many of the properties that make is so life-sustaining, and yet, milk from cows is considered different. As McAfee puts it:

"Raw milk is the first food of life and builds immunity and strength. Yes, a mother's milk is raw milk. It is an optimal first nourishment but also has been the focal point for vicious food fighting for more than 110 years. With the discovery of the human biome and human genomics, raw milk comes center stage.

Now we have the possibility to assure that raw milk is safe, yet stays unchanged and whole. It is now fostering the health of our immune systems that have been suppressed and weakened by antibiotic abuse, GMOs, preservatives, pesticide and herbicide exposure and sterilized foods. It is time to embrace the farmer and strengthen and heal thyself gut biome first!"

For thousands of years, humans have depended on milk from camels, sheep, goats and cows in order to survive. The milk was available immediately, with no hunting, fishing or growing required, and it was portable, able to travel with the people.

As long as the animals had access to grass, rain and the sun, they could provide a whole food in the form of raw milk, rich in biodiverse bacteria (which only increased if the milk was fermented), along with food to feed these bacteria (prebiotics). It’s now known that high levels of bacteria, along with biodiverse bacteria and prebiotics to feed them, are essential for optimal health.

“Pasteurization destroyed that,” McAfee said, and while yogurt brings some of the benefits back (with only three or four bacterial strains), it can’t compare with the complexity of raw milk. Breast milk, for example, contains 700 different types of bacteria and 2,500 proteins and pathogens, which give infants’ immune systems a chance to develop.

Raw milk, which is a living food, is also incredibly complex, and its benefits come in the fact that it’s not sterilized like so many “dead” processed foods are today.

The Dark Ages of Raw Milk

There was a period of time, from 1860 to the 1920s, when raw milk went through what McAfee describes as a “dark age.” The cows’ diets, combined with unsanitary conditions, raw sewage mixed with water and lack of refrigeration, led to the spread of disease like tuberculosis and typhoid. A lot of people died from raw milk that came from these unsanitary distillery dairies raising malnourished cows.

The cows were brought from the countryside into urban environments, fed unusual diets that cows are not meant to eat, and raised in unclean conditions. The outcome was milk that killed up to 40 to 50 percent of those who drank it.

The beginning of pasteurization started around this time and was hailed as a panacea because you didn’t have to worry about the milk being clean anymore. Even milk riddled with pathogenic bacteria could be safely consumed once it was heated to high temperatures. It wasn’t until decades later that it began to be understood how much was lost during the process.

“There is a dark period. That dark period has been amplified and made into a political mantra against raw milk, when in fact it was never raw milk’s problem. It was mankind and what we did to the cows and the environment that was the problem,” McAfee said.

There Are Two Kinds of Raw Milk Today

The underpinnings that led to the dark ages of raw milk are still found today in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where most commercial dairy is produced. On CAFOs, milk can be produced in filthy conditions, then heated until all the pathogens are gone.

Never mind that, along with killing “germs,” pasteurization kills off beneficial organisms in the milk and prevents natural souring (while naturally soured milk can still be consumed, pasteurized milk past its prime will quickly go bad).1 According to RAWMI:2

“Raw milk is a living whole food that contains: enzymes, a biodiversity of beneficial bacteria, sugars, proteins, fats, minerals, antibodies and other essential elements needed to nourish a growing baby.

Raw milk also contains a complementary immune system that provides an environment that tends to suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria in favor of beneficial lactic acid producing bacteria. Raw milk inside of the animal generally does not contain bacteria; however, as the milk exits the breast or teat canal, protective resident bacteria join the raw milk to complete its genome.”

Today, however, there are two kinds of raw milk produced. One is the type produced on CAFOs, which is intended to be shipped to a creamery for pasteurization. This type of milk is regulated according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), which has no requirement that the milk be tested for pathogens.

“PMO raw milk is permitted to contain high levels of bacteria. This is because this milk will be pasteurized by heat treatment. Milk produced under the PMO is collected from many dairies and combined together at the creamery for processing and the production of final processed dairy products,” RAWMI notes.3 It has to be pasteurized, as drinking this type of CAFO milk raw could easily make you sick.

The other type of raw milk is that produced with the intent of being directly consumed by humans. While there are no national regulations for human consumption raw milk, individual states may have their own. RAWMI has also created standards to ensure its quality and safety.

“Our Common Standards set a benchmark for national raw milk production and safety. Raw milk for human consumption always comes from one dairy that works very hard to assure that the milk they produce is safe and clean. Human consumption raw milk is never combined with other dairies’ raw milk,” according to RAWMI. The Common Standards include:4

Have a Risk Analysis and Management Plan (RAMP) for raw milk production; this is a basic food safety plan that includes risk assessment and mitigation for milk handling, manure management, feed sources, human factors (such as health of the milking team), nutritional management of the cow, cleaning protocol, health screening of animals and much more.

Raw milk shall not contain zoonotic pathogens including salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter and listeria.

Testing for coliform bacteria, with a target rate of less than 10 coliforms per milliliter (ml) raw milk over a three-month average.

Testing for Standard Plate Count, with a rolling three-month average of less than 5,000 per ml raw milk.

Sell raw milk for direct human consumption only from their own farm (not comingled with raw milk from other dairies).

Provide documentation and assurance that herds are tuberculosis (TB) free and tested once per year or meet local TB requirements.

Provide documentation or assurance that herds are brucellosis free.

RAWMI even provides additional training to further ensure quality raw milk, including farm biosecurity (how to protect the herd), basic microbiology and preventive herd health medicine. RAWMI adds:5

“These standards are not a guarantee of perfectly safe food. However, when followed diligently, these guidelines will dramatically reduce the risk of illness from consumption of raw milk and improve the safety of raw milk. The Common Standards serve as the basis for RAWMI farmer listing, and are a portal to a world of continued learning.”

Raw Milk Feeds Your Body on a Microbial Level

While it’s long been said that “you are what you eat,” a more accurate description might be “you are what your microbes eat.” There are more bacteria and other microorganisms in your body than there are human cells, and your unique microbial community is constantly changing in response to your environment, including your diet.

McAfee describes the research of Bonnie Bassler, Ph.D., a molecular biologist with Princeton University, which revealed bacteria communicate with each other using a chemical language called “quorum sensing.” Every type of bacteria secretes small molecules, which allow the bacteria to “count” how many of its own kind there are, as well as measure the strength of competing colonies.

Once the colony reaches critical mass, the bacteria spring into action as a synchronized group, based on the group behavior programmed into its genes. So the microorganisms living in your digestive tract form a very important "inner ecosystem" that influences countless aspects of your health.

More specifically, the type and quantity of organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases and mental health problems, and eating microbial-rich foods like raw milk, raw milk cheese and kefir are one way to support the bacterial communities in your body.

The Science Behind Raw Milk

McAfee believes there’s a breakdown in understanding among scientists, most of whom will argue that breastfeeding is incredibly important for infants, yet fail to make the connection that breast milk is raw milk. After breastfeeding ends, the next logical step, he says, is to continue drinking raw milk.

At least 16 peer-reviewed studies have detailed the benefits of drinking raw milk, yet still include a disclaimer at the end that the scientists can’t recommend drinking it because of the risks. RAWMI was created for this purpose, McAfee says, to show that raw milk isn’t high risk at all but is actually very low risk, with proven health benefits. Among them is alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme found in raw milk, that’s known to be anti-inflammatory.

“[I]ntestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), a potent endogenous anti-inflammatory enzyme, is directly stimulated by various components of milk (e.g., casein, calcium, lactose and even fat),” researchers wrote in Medical Hypotheses,6 “… and detoxifies pro-inflammatory microbial components … making them unable to trigger inflammatory responses and generate chronic low-grade inflammation leading to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, Type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity, known risk factors for CVD [cardiovascular disease].

Milk alkaline phosphatase is present in raw milk and dairy products but deactivated by pasteurization. “If confirmed, this "alkaline phosphatase" hypothesis will highlight the protective effects of milk alkaline phosphatase and promote the consumption of (microbiologically safe) raw milk and dairy products,” the researchers concluded.7

Other research has found children who drink raw milk have a lower risk of developing allergies and asthma.8 And, early human studies suggested raw milk was superior to pasteurized milk in protecting against infection, diarrhea, rickets, tooth decay and tuberculosis.9

Raw milk also contains protective components that aren’t found in pasteurized milk, including antibodies and beneficial bacteria that help to kill pathogens in the milk, as well as compounds that prevent pathogen absorption across the intestinal wall. There are a variety of immune-strengthening components in raw milk as well, including lymphocytes, immunoglobulins and growth factors.10

More Reasons to Choose Raw Unprocessed Milk

Raw milk and pasteurized milk are entirely different foods, with different outcomes in your body. While raw milk is noninflammatory and inhibits MAST cell release of histamines, pasteurized milk is the most allergenic food in the U.S., McAfee notes. He also points out that pasteurized milk is often associated with lactose intolerance and is often not digestible by children, whereas raw milk is highly digestible and gut friendly.

Anecdotal reports of customers drinking raw milk suggest recovery from a variety of conditions, from ear infections, asthma and eczema to dental problems, ulcers, lactose intolerance and depressed immunity. There are cultural differences, too, as while many Europeans are free to enjoy a glass of crisp raw milk anytime they like courtesy of self-serve vending machines, in North America selling raw milk is often forbidden.

In the U.S., efforts continue to expand access to raw milk — the ONLY food banned from interstate commerce — and, in so doing, protect people’s right to eat and drink what they please. If you’re interested in raw milk, in states where the sale of raw milk is legal, RAWMI lists farmers on their website who have gone through their training program and demonstrated, through testing, that their milk is consistently clean and safe.11

In other states, those wishing to purchase raw milk often purchase a share of the cow or herd directly from a raw milk farmer. As with all foods, source matters, and this is just as true with raw milk as any other food, so be sure to review these tips for finding high-quality raw milk sources.




Artificial Sweeteners Are Toxic to Gut Bacteria, Study Reveals


Recent research into the health effects of artificial sweeteners deliver yet another blow to safety claims. The animal study,1,2,3,4,5 published in the journal Molecules, found all artificial sweeteners currently approved and deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cause DNA damage in, and interfere with the normal and healthy activity of, gut bacteria.

The artificial sweeteners included in this study included:

Artificial sweetener Brand name(s)

Aspartame

NutraSweet, Spoonful, Canderel, Equal, NatraTaste Blue

Sucralose

Splenda, Zerocal, Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren and Nevella

Saccharin

Sweet 'N Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin, Necta Sweet

Neotame

Newtame

Advantame

(No brand names)

Acesulfame potassium-k

Sunnette, Sweet One, ACE, ACE K, Sweet 'N Safe

All Artificial Sweeteners Are Toxic to Gut Bacteria

As reported by Business Insider,6 the research team concluded that all of these sweeteners "had a toxic, stressing effect, making it difficult for gut microbes to grow and reproduce." While the authors do not directly refer to them as having antibiotic effects, when something is killing bacteria, that's essentially what's happening.

According to the researchers, the effects on your gut health may in turn affect your body's ability to process regular sugar and other carbohydrates. According to this study, the toxic limit for these artificial sweeteners appears to be around 1 milligram per milliliter (mg/mL).

Ariel Kushmaro, Ph.D., professor of microbial biotechnology at Ben-Gurion University and lead author, told Business Insider, "We are not claiming that it's toxic to human beings. We're claiming that it might be toxic to the gut bacteria, and by that, will influence us."

Sweetener-Specific Effects

While, overall, all six artificial sweeteners were found to have toxic effects on gut bacteria, there were individual differences in the type and amount of damage they produced. For example:

  • Saccharin caused the greatest, most widespread damage, exhibiting both cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, meaning it is toxic to cells and damages genetic information in the cell (which can cause mutations).
  • Neotame was found to cause metabolic disruption in mice, and raised concentrations of several fatty acids, lipids and cholesterol. Several gut genes were also decreased by this sweetener.
  • Aspartame and acesulfame potassium-k — the latter of which is commonly found in sports supplements — were both found to cause DNA damage

Hazards of Sucralose

Previous studies have also revealed an extensive list of safety concerns for sucralose (a synthetic organochlorine sweetener), some of which are very similar to those found in the featured study, including:7

Genotoxicity (DNA damage) and potentially adverse epigenetic effects

The generation of toxic compounds (chloropropanols) when heated

Destruction of gut bacteria;8 one study9 found it can kill as much as 50 percent of your microbiome, and appears to target beneficial microorganisms

Alterations in glucose, insulin and glucagon-like peptide-1 levels and responses,10 which raises the risk for diabetes

Decreased red blood cells, a sign of anemia, at levels above 1,500 mg per kilo per day

Increased male infertility by interfering with sperm production and vitality, as well as brain lesions at higher doses

Kidney enlargement and calcification

Significantly increased risk for miscarriage (in rabbits, spontaneous abortions affected nearly half the rabbit population given sucralose, compared to zero aborted pregnancies in the control group)

Significantly increased death rate (a 23 percent death rate in rabbits, compared to a 6 percent in the control group)

Bioaccumulation11

Potential drug interactions12

Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

Other recent research13,14 adds to the ever-growing evidence pile showing that artificial sweeteners raise your risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes to the same or greater degree as sugar. The study in question explored how different sweeteners — including glucose, fructose, aspartame and acesulfame potassium-k — affect energy usage, energy storage and vascular functioning.

According to the authors, both high amounts of sugar and artificial sweeteners caused vascular impairment and other effects "that may be important during the onset and progression of diabetes and obesity." The artificial sweeteners, however, accumulated in the blood, thereby harming the blood vessel lining to a greater degree.

Of the two artificial sweeteners included in this study, acesulfame potassium appeared to be the worst. As noted by lead author Brian Hoffmann, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin:15

"Sweeteners kind of trick the body. And then when your body's not getting the energy it needs — because it does need some sugar to function properly — it potentially finds that source elsewhere," Hoffman says.16

One alternative sugar source is muscle and, indeed, evidence of protein break down was found in the animals' blood. Essentially, the rats were burning muscle as a source of energy when given artificial sweeteners. Hoffman also notes that this research is different from previous attempts to conclusively tie artificial sweeteners to health problems:

"Most of these sweeteners were approved well before we had the technology to perform studies like my lab is doing. So they weren't able to look as in-depth at some of the potential effects being caused.

By knowing what biochemical changes these are causing through these large-scale studies, we can take an unbiased approach and see what's changing to give us a better direction. What I like to tell people is that most things in moderation are going to be fine …

It's when people start to chronically consume these [drinks] — say, a person drinks two, three, four … every day — that we should start to be concerned. Because you're starting to introduce these biochemical changes and the body has no time to recover."

Artificial Sweeteners Associated With Weight Gain and Related Health Problems

Research published over the last three decades has also convincingly shown that artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions that promote fat storage and weight gain.

As early as 1986, a study17 that examined nearly 78,700 women for one year found women who used artificial sweeteners were significantly more likely to gain weight compared to those who did not use them, regardless of their initial weight.

According to the researchers, the results "were not explicable by differences in food consumption patterns. The data do not support the hypothesis that long-term artificial sweetener use either helps weight loss or prevents weight gain."

Similarly, the 25-yearslong San Antonio Heart Study,18 published in 2005, found those who drank diet soda were significantly more likely to gain weight compared to those who drank regular soda. On average, for each diet soft drink the participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.

In 2010, an important scientific review19 was published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. It summarized the epidemiological and experimental evidence available on artificial sweeteners' effects on weight, and explained those effects in light of the neurobiology of food reward.

More than 11,650 children aged 9 to 14 were included in this study. Each daily serving of diet beverage was associated with a BMI increase of 0.16 kg/m2. It also showed the correlation between increased usage of artificial sweeteners in food and drinks, and the corresponding rise in obesity. According to the authors:

"[F]indings suggest that the calorie contained in natural sweeteners may trigger a response to keep the overall energy consumption constant ... Increasing evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners … [A]rtificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence."

Three years later, a report20 published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, including excessive weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.21 The researchers proposed that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners may induce metabolic derangements.

Your Body Is Not Fooled by Zero-Calorie Sweetness

Right around 2013, research started emerging detailing some of the reasons for why zero calorie sweeteners can make you gain weight. A study in the Journal of Physiology22,23 showed that when you eat something sweet, your brain releases dopamine, which activates your brain's reward center.

The appetite-regulating hormone leptin is also released, which eventually informs your brain that you are "full" once a certain amount of calories has been ingested. When you consume something that tastes sweet but doesn't contain any calories, your brain's pleasure pathway still gets activated by the sweet taste, but there's nothing to deactivate it, since the calories never arrive.

Artificial sweeteners basically trick your body into thinking that it's going to receive calories, but when the calories fail to arrive, your body continues to signal that it needs more, which results in carb cravings.

The following year, 2014, another important study24 was published in the journal Nature. It was, for the first time, able to clearly show causality, revealing there's a direct cause and effect relationship between consuming artificial sweeteners and developing elevated blood sugar levels.

People who consumed high amounts of artificial sweeteners were found to have higher levels of HbA1C — a long-term measure of blood sugar — compared to nonusers or occasional users of artificial sweeteners.

Seven volunteers who did not use artificial sweeteners were then recruited, and asked to consume the equivalent of 10 to 12 single-dose packets of artificial sweeteners daily for one week. Four of the seven people developed "significant disturbances in their blood glucose," according to the researchers.

Some became prediabetic within just a few days! The reason for this dramatic shift was traced back to alterations in gut bacteria. Some bacteria were killed off, while others started proliferating. Which brings us back full circle to the featured study in the journal Molecules, which showed that all artificial sweeteners currently on the U.S. market have the ability to impair and/or kill gut bacteria.

Considering what we now know about the gut microbiome and its influence on health and disease, it's becoming easier to see how and why artificial sweeteners are able to wreak havoc on your health.

To Improve Your Health, Ditch the Artificial Sweeteners

If you're overweight and/or have insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes, it's really important to understand that artificial sweeteners are not going to help matters. They're probably only going to make it worse.

If you have to choose between two evils, regularly-sweetened beverages are likely less hazardous in the long run, since your body at least knows how to metabolize fructose, even if it is processed.

That said, I firmly believe ditching soda and other sweetened beverages is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your weight and health. Remember, pure water is a zero-calorie drink. You cannot find a beverage that contains fewer calories.

If you want some flavor, just squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon or lime into mineral water. In instances where your cooking, baking or beverage needs a little sweetener, be mindful of your choice. For more information, see "Sugar Substitutes — What's Safe and What's Not."




Electric Shock Fishing — Another Way to Decimate Ocean Life


The world's oceans are under assault from multiple enemies — plastics, chemicals and overfishing among them. With fish, human exploitation, including overfishing, is the major cause of declining marine species, with some declining in numbers by 74 percent between 1970 and 2010.1

Demand for seafood, meanwhile, continues to increase, with global per capita fish consumption rising to more than 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) for the first time in 2016 — double the level of the 1960s, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report.2

The FAO urged "more work to rein in overfishing," noting that one-third of commercial fish stocks worldwide are being fished at biologically unsustainable levels, which is triple the level of 1974. The methods used for fishing can make a difference in their impact on nontarget species, and one that's embroiled in controversy is electric shock fishing, otherwise known as "pulse fishing."

Dutch fishing vessels have been found using the electrocution method in a marine sanctuary called Dogger Bank, located in the North Sea. Dogger Bank is a protected marine area under EU law because it's home to a wide variety of sea life and habitats.

Pulse Fishing — Banned in Many Parts of the World — Being Used in UK Marine Reserve

Pulse fishing is primarily used to catch flatfish, such as sole, which live in the seabed. Conventionally, beam trawling, which involves the destructive practice of dragging chains across the seabed to cause flatfish to jump up into waiting nets, has been used for this purpose.

Pulse fishing, which involves electric pulses to shock the fish, causing them to leap into nets above them, is widely touted as a more sustainable method that causes less disruption to the seafloor, requires less fuel to tug the electrodes and also reportedly reduces bycatch because sole are more susceptible to the electric shocks than other marine species.3

However, Bloom Association, a French environmental group, pointed out in a January 2018 report that this method of fishing is banned in much of the world, as it was in Europe until 2006, when the EU decided to allow it for "experimental purposes" in 5 percent of the fleet.

"This ruling went against scientific advice, only to satisfy the pressure exerted by a private interest group: the Dutch industrial beam trawl fleet. The use of electricity in the wild has serious environmental and socioeconomic consequences: Not only is the seabed impacted by huge industrial nets, but all marine life is now electrocuted," Bloom reported.4

While the Dutch fleet was supposed to be allotted 15 vessels for the experimental pulse fishing method, their numbers have ballooned to more than 80, which catch 92 percent of sole caught by Dutch trawlers.

"There is nothing experimental about this fishery, it is a full-fledged commercial operation and its environmental impacts, while under-researched, are potentially very harmful," Charles Clover, executive director of Blue Marine Foundation, told The Epoch Times:5

"The mind boggles as to how the Commission and European Fisheries Ministers have permitted electric fishing on the Dogger Bank, which is legally protected under EU law because of its unique and important habitat."

The Blue Marine Foundation and Bloom filed a complaint with the EU Commission, alleging that the Dutch vessels are illegally trawling in the Dogger Bank, putting vulnerable marine life at risk. Jeremy Percy, executive director of the Low Impact of Fishers of Europe (LIFE), told The Times:6

"It is a travesty that powerful vessels, using a fishing method that is banned in many parts of the world, are not only permitted under a dubious derogation to use this gear to fish in UK waters but also in marine protected areas.

We have long campaigned to have this method banned on the basis of the firsthand accounts of other fishermen . . . who have witnessed the devastation the use of it causes as it shocks fish into the nets of these trawlers."

What Are the Dangers of Pulse Fishing?

While there's no doubt that beam trawls cause immense damage to the seafloor, the use of electric pulse fishing as a sustainable alternative is highly debatable. While proponents tout its efficient nature and lower fuel requirements (compared to tugging heavy chains), this, opponents say, is part of its downfall.

"Reducing costs in a situation of chronic overexploitation is a seductive argument to convince European fishers to equip their vessels with electrodes. Unfortunately, this fishing method is so effective that above all, it promises to accelerate the exhaustion of marine resources and ruin the fishing sector in the medium term," Bloom reported.7

Electric pulse fishing has already been banned in China, Vietnam, Brazil, the U.S. and Uruguay because of concerns that it harms or kills most fish while degrading habitat. Again, proponents paint pulse fishing as using weak electric pulses to gently startle fish into nets. The reality, however, is much more severe; the current used is the same as that used by electroshock weapons like Tasers.

According to Bloom, "This type of current causes such violent, uncontrolled convulsions that 50 to 70 percent of large cods are left with a fractured spine and internal bleeding after the shock."8

Reportedly favorable research supporting pulse fishing has focused on the economic performance of fishing vessels (i.e., reduced fuel costs) while ignoring the potentially devastating consequences on ecosystems. Research suggests, for instance, that electricity may:9

  • Weaken the immune system of worms and shrimp, making them more vulnerable to pathogens
  • Turn once-thriving marine ecosystems into "graveyards" or "garbage dumps"
  • Cause massive destruction to the marine environment by towing industrial gears
  • Cause desertification of the ocean
  • Have unknown effects on eggs, juvenile marine life, reproduction, plankton or rays and sharks, which are electro-sensitive

As for being a more "selective" form of fishing, as proponents claim, Bloom explains, "[E]lectric 'pulse' trawlers are not selective at all. For 100 kg (220 pounds) of fish caught, 50 to 70 kg (110 to 156 pounds) are discarded (including plaice, dab and soles). In comparison, sole netters discard only 6 kg (13 pounds) of fish per 100 kg of fish caught."10

Why Is the EU Subsidizing Illegal Fishing Methods?

The EU has issued far more licenses for electric pulse fishing than its initial 5 percent limit would bear. "At this level this is essentially permitting a commercial fishery under the guise of scientific research," the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) stated.11

What's more, public subsidies totaling at nearly 6 million euros (about $6.9 million) have been used to develop pulse fishing fleets in the Netherlands. "These public subsidies have been abusively granted for 'research', 'innovation' and 'better practices,'" according to Bloom. "European institutions and member states need to stop using public funds for ecologically and socially harmful fishing practices."12

The amount of electricity being used on the pulse fishing vessels isn't being monitored, either, to ensure the currents used aren't excessive. Already, fraudulent activity like using smaller netting than is allowed or fishing in zones that are supposed to be closed for the season, have been reported.

The practice also threatens small-scale fishers, which were once the only outlets that could operate in areas close to coasts. The electric pulse vessels are lighter than other trawlers, allowing them access to previously inaccessible areas. "This unfair and unreasonable competition is worrying, because it rings the death knell for small-scale fishing," Bloom noted.13

Why Fish Farming Isn't the Answer

It's estimated that within the next 10 years, farm-raised fish will make up the majority of fish consumed by humans. There are already 100 species being farmed,14 and while this may sound like a sustainable alternative to catching wild fish, it poses many of the same problems plaguing industrial land-based livestock operations, or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Fish farms are basically CAFOs of the sea, subject to overcrowding, concerns over marine animal welfare and disease transmission, including to wild fish. Sea lice, tiny parasitic crustaceans that feed on salmon skin and mucous, are just one problem. At one fish farm in Scotland, it's estimated that up to 80 percent of the salmon were suffering with sea lice.15

Sea lice spreading on fish farms is putting wild salmon stocks at risk. Wild salmon from Blackwater River, which is near the Scotland fish farm, have been found to be heavily infested with sea lice, for example. Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland has blamed the industrial farm for the infestations, as the salmon must pass by the farms on their way back from the Atlantic Ocean.

The Scottish Salmon Company has attempted to block the public release of photos showing their diseased salmon and even claimed losses of more than $1.3 million in 2016 because of sea lice and other disease. Despite this, they reported profits of over $38 million in 2017.16

Piscine reovirus, or PRV, is another salmon disease that is devastating farmed and wild salmon. PRV causes heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) disease, which can be deadly to salmon. One study of salmon in British Columbia, Canada, revealed the proportion of PRV infection in wild fish was related to exposure to salmon farms.17

Even land-based salmon farms are problematic,18 as the facilities pump water from rivers into their hatcheries, then pump it back out to the river once it's contaminated with dissolved organic matter (DOM) — a mixture of liquid excrement, food residue and other salmon excretions, along with disinfectants and antibiotics.

Nutritionally speaking, farmed salmon are also a far inferior choice to the wild variety. For starters, their pens are often placed near shore, which means they're close to land-based sources of pollutant runoff. In addition, they're fed a diet of ground-up fishmeal, which may lead to concentrated levels of PCBs.

In a global assessment of farmed salmon published in the journal Science, PCB concentrations in farmed salmon were found to be eight times higher than in wild salmon.19 Farmed salmon also lack the correct ratio of healthy fats that many people are seeking when eating a "healthy" fish meal.

How to Find Sustainably Fished Seafood

Because much seafood is polluted, I only recommend eating safer seafood choices such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. All of these are at low risk of contamination, yet are high in healthy omega-3 fats. You'll also want to opt for sustainably harvested wild-caught fish as well.

One of the best options toward this end is to look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo, which features the letters MSC and a blue check mark in the shape of a fish. The MSC logo ensures the seafood came from a responsible fishery that uses sustainable fishing practices and meets the following standards:20

  • Fish stocks are sustainable — there are enough fish left in the sea to reproduce.
  • Environmental impacts are minimized — fishing operations must be carefully managed to maintain the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the marine ecosystem.
  • Effective management — the fishery must comply with relevant laws and have a management system that allows it to respond quickly to changes in the status quo.

The Dutch pulse trawl, sole and plaice fishery applied to be assessed against the MSC Fisheries Standard, but it fell short on meeting the second standard (minimum ecosystem impacts).

"The fishery is therefore not recommended for certification," MSC wrote in 2016, adding "the draft assessment concludes that there is currently insufficient knowledge of the impacts of electric pulses on seabed ecosystems to state with certainty that pulse fishing does not have any significant impacts."21




Why a Vitamin D Test Is More Important Than a Mammogram


October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S., and with it comes the annual clarion call of pink-ribboned1 breast cancer awareness campaigns.2 National Mammography Day3 falls on the third Friday of October, which this year is the 19th.

Chances are, you've been barraged with reminders that mammograms save lives. Unfortunately, little effort is made to educate women about actual prevention. Detecting cancer has nothing to do with prevention. At that point, it's already too late.

Mammograms also have serious health risks, none of which are addressed by the conventional breast cancer awareness campaigns. Importantly, vitamin D optimization could potentially eliminate a vast majority of breast cancers, yet this key information is being completely ignored.

Vitamin D Optimization Could Eliminate a Majority of Breast Cancer Cases

Generally speaking, research has shown that once you reach a minimum serum vitamin D level of 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), your risk for cancer diminishes by 67 percent, compared to having a level of 20 ng/ml or less.4

Research shows most cancers occur in people with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 ng/mL, and the optimal level for cancer protection has been identified as being between 60 and 80 ng/mL.

Vitamin D also increases your chances of surviving cancer if you do get it,5,6,7,8 and evidence suggests adding vitamin D to the conventional treatment for cancer can boost the effectiveness of the treatment.9

Several studies also show that higher vitamin D levels are protective against breast cancer specifically. Importantly, a 2005 study10 showed women with vitamin D levels above 60 ng/mL have an 83 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those below 20 ng/mL, and I cannot think of any other strategy that can offer that kind of risk reduction. Mammograms certainly cannot.

More recently, a pooled analysis11 published in June 2018 of two randomized trials and a prospective cohort study came to a near-identical conclusion. The objective was to assess whether there are any benefits to having a vitamin D level above 40 ng/mL, as most studies do not venture into these higher levels.

Indeed, mirroring the 2005 findings, women with vitamin D levels at or above 60 ng/mL had an 82 percent lower incidence rate of breast cancer than those with levels of 20 ng/mL or less.

Pooled data were analyzed in three different ways. First, incidence rates were compared based on vitamin D levels ranging from 20 to 60 ng/mL. Next, statistical analysis using Kaplan-Meier plots were done. Third, multivariate Cox regression was used to examine the association between various vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk. According to the authors:

"Results were similar for the three analyses. First, comparing incidence rates, there was an 82 percent lower incidence rate of breast cancer for women with 25(OH)D concentrations ≥60 vs <20 ng/mL.

Second, Kaplan-Meier curves for concentrations of <20, 20–39, 40–59 and ≥60 ng/mL were significantly different, with the highest proportion breast cancer-free in the ≥60 ng/ml group (99.3 percent) and the lowest proportion breast cancer-free in the <20 ng/ml group (96.8 percent). The proportion with breast cancer was 78 percent lower for ≥60 vs <20 ng/mL.

Third, multivariate Cox regression revealed that women with 25(OH)D concentrations ≥60 ng/ml had an 80 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women with concentrations <20 ng/mL, adjusting for age, BMI, smoking status, calcium supplement intake, and study of origin …

Higher 25(OH)D concentrations were associated with a dose-response decrease in breast cancer risk with concentrations ≥60 ng/mL being most protective."

breast cancer

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Other Studies Linking Vitamin D Status With Cancer Risk

Several other studies also support the hypothesis that higher vitamin D levels are powerful cancer prevention, including but not limited to the following:12

Menopause, 2018 — Just last month, research13,14 published in the journal Menopause found that postmenopausal women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer are more likely to be vitamin D deficient and overweight than women who receive a negative diagnosis. Overall, breast cancer patients were 1.5 times more likely to have low vitamin D.

The BMJ, 201815 — Earlier this year, a Japanese study published in The BMJ concluded that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a 20 percent lower relative risk of internal cancers in both sexes. Equally important, they found there was no increased risk for any type of cancer associated with higher vitamin D levels.

PLOS One, 201616,17 — This pooled analysis of a randomized trial and a prospective cohort study found that women aged 55 and older who had a vitamin D serum level of 40 ng/ml or greater had a 67 percent reduced risk of cancer compared to those with a vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml or less.

Cancer Causes & Control, 201318 — In this case control study, those who had a vitamin D level of 35 ng/mL or higher were 70 percent less likely to develop breast cancer compared to those with a level of 15 ng/mL or less.

PLOS One, 201119 — Here, women with a vitamin D level of 30 ng/mL or higher had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with a level of 20 ng/mL or below. Among post-menopausal women, the risk was 71 percent lower.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 200920 — In this case control study, premenopausal women with a vitamin D level of 34 ng/mL or higher had a greater than 60 percent reduction in breast cancer risk compared to those with a level of 24 ng/mL or lower.

Carcinogenesis, 200721 — Postmenopausal women with a vitamin D level of 30 ng/mL had a nearly 70 percent reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those with levels of 12 ng/mL or less.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007 — Women over 55 who raised their average serum level to 38 ng/mL lowered their risk of all invasive cancers, including breast cancer, by 77 percent.22

Anticancer Research February 2011 — In this study, breast cancer patients with high vitamin D levels were twice as likely to survive than those with low levels.23,24,25 (Higher vitamin D levels are also associated with a lower risk of severe peripheral neuropathy in cancer patients.26)

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Get Your Vitamin D Level Checked

This year, do your breast health a real favor and get your vitamin D level checked. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of doing this is to enroll in the D*Action Breast Cancer Prevention project, which now includes both vitamin D and omega-3 testing.

Their new myData-myAnswers personalized health software is now able to "give you feedback on your health conditions compared to thousands of others so you can make more informed decisions on your actions." GrassrootsHealth also has a handy vitamin D calculator that can help you determine how much vitamin D you need per day to get to 60 ng/mL or above.

You can enroll in this cancer prevention project either on the GrassrootsHealth website, or by ordering the vitamin D testing kit, either alone or in combination with the omega-3 test, from my online store. All revenues from these kits go directly to GrassrootsHealth. I make no profit from these kits and only provide them as a service of convenience to my readers.

As noted on GrassrootsHealth's D*Action Challenge27 webpage, before you donate money to a breast cancer prevention group, find out whether the group has any focus on primary prevention, opposed to just mammograms. Are they actually trying to eliminate breast cancer, or are they just pushing for detection? Secondly, check to see whether the group recommends vitamin D testing as a key prevention strategy.

Again, research has clearly demonstrated that having a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/mL, and ideally between 60 and 80 ng/mL,28 can massively reduce your risk of breast cancer.

As noted by GrassrootsHealth, "If the answers are 'YES' to both challenges, then the women stand to gain quickly, significantly, safely and inexpensively." If not, your money is probably not going to do much good, seeing how there's been no change in breast cancer incidence in over a decade, despite the many millions collected in donations.

According to data published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,29 75 percent of American adults and teens are deficient in vitamin D, based on a sufficiency level of 30 ng/mL. This means at least three-quarters of the female population in the U.S. could lower their risk of breast cancer by 60 to 80 percent.

If the sufficiency cutoff were to be moved to 40 or 60 ng/mL, deficiency rates in the U.S. would likely be in the high 90 percent bracket. The take-home message is that the vast majority of people do not have vitamin D serum levels that are high enough to prevent cancer, and this is so easy and inexpensive to fix!

So, please, if you haven't done so already, make vitamin D optimization your goal during this year's breast cancer awareness month, and share the news with all the other women in your life.

Be Mindful of the Interplay of Vitamins D and K2, Calcium and Magnesium

As for how to raise your vitamin D level, remember that the best way is through sensible sun exposure. That said, many will need oral supplementation to achieve an optimal level, especially if you're pregnant in the wintertime.

Just remember that if you take high-dose oral vitamin D, you may also need to increase your intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2 as well, as these four nutrients work in tandem and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work properly. Importantly, inadequate levels of vitamin K2 in combination with high vitamin D intake may cause overabsorption of calcium, which in turn can result in calcium deposits in your heart and kidneys.

Maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio30 is also important, as magnesium helps keep calcium in your cells so they can function better. A ratio of 1-to-1 appears to be ideal.

Magnesium is also required for the activation of vitamin D. Without sufficient magnesium, taking a vitamin D supplement may be ineffective,31,32 essentially making it appear you need unnecessarily high amounts. If your magnesium level is too low, the vitamin D will simply get stored in its inactive form, doing you absolutely no good.

According to recent research,33 as many as 50 percent of Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit due to insufficient magnesium levels. On the other hand, when you have an optimal magnesium level, your vitamin D level will rise even if you're taking a much lower dose.34 To learn more about this, see "Without Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Backfire."

Pink-Washing — Beware the Pink Ribbon Scam

While there are many different breast cancer prevention charities, the Susan G. Komen Foundation35 is perhaps the most well-known. It has done a great deal of harm to women by obfuscating the authentic preventative measures available to combat breast cancer and downplaying the preventive role of a healthy diet, vitamin D optimization and limiting chemical exposures, while heavily promoting mammography.

By ignoring the role your lifestyle plays in the development of cancer, organizations such as these can continue to collect billions of dollars of donations in the name of "finding a cure." Meanwhile, effective prevention could eliminate the need for finding a cure altogether. As noted in a 2014 article by Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action:36

"Few people realize that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) was launched by Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company that sells cancer treatments on the one hand and carcinogenic pesticides on the other. So BCAM has all along been one big marketing campaign — arguably the most successful marketing campaign of the 20th century.

This is why at Breast Cancer Action, we call October 'Breast Cancer Industry Month,' the month when corporations make money professing how much they care about breast cancer by selling pink ribbon products ...

How many of the ingredients contained in a random selection of pink products are toxic and bad for our health? No one knows because of weak chemical regulation in the United States that's outdated ...

We can't waste another October watching corporations make money off pink ribbon products that contain toxins linked to breast cancer. If you are outraged, take a stand to protect all of us from toxic chemicals that are making us sick because the manufacturers of pink ribbon products certainly won't."

Mammograms Do More Harm Than Good and Have No Impact on Mortality Rates

Mammography can detect invasive breast cancer in women. This is not in dispute. What is in dispute is whether or not routine mammograms are really the right tool to reduce breast cancer rates, and whether it might harm more women than it helps in the process.

A growing body of evidence suggests that it does in fact, on the whole, do more harm than good by generating high rates of false positives that lead to unnecessary treatment and associated emotional trauma.37 Those who opt for aggressive treatment such as a mastectomy, radiation and/or chemotherapy after a false positive diagnosis undergo physical pain and suffering "for nothing."

However, since you're unlikely to ever find out that you didn't have life-threatening cancer after all, women who believe their lives were saved by mammography will be hard-pressed to buy into the idea that routine mammograms are more harmful than helpful.

Still, statistics suggest many breast cancer survivors are not actually survivors of breast cancer, they're survivors of breast cancer treatment.38 Several studies have completely demolished the notion that mammograms save lives. For example:

A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine39 found mammography screenings lead to unnecessary treatments while having virtually no impact on the number of deaths from breast cancer.

Another 2015 study40 published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine declares its conclusion right in the title, which reads: "Mammography screening is harmful and should be abandoned."

In short, decades of routine breast cancer screening using mammograms has done nothing to decrease deaths from breast cancer, while causing more than half — 52 percent — of all women undergoing the test to be overdiagnosed and overtreated. According to lead author Peter C. Gøtzsche, had mammograms been a drug, "it would have been withdrawn from the market long ago."

A 2012 study41 in The Lancet concluded that for every life saved by mammography screening, three women are overdiagnosed and treated with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for a cancer that might never have given them trouble in their lifetimes. Additionally, no positive correlation with mortality could be found.

Computer Analysis Does Not Improve Accuracy of Mammograms

Research42 also shows the use of computer-aided detection (CAD) for mammography, which is used in 90 percent of U.S. mammograms at a cost of $400 million a year, does nothing to improve the accuracy of the test.

The study looked at more than 625,000 mammograms from nearly 324,000 women to determine whether CAD actually improves a radiologist's interpretation of a mammogram or not. As it turns out, CAD had no beneficial impact on mammography interpretation, leading the authors to conclude that: "These results suggest that insurers pay more for CAD with no established benefit to women."

In fact, radiologists were actually more prone to miss cancer when using CAD compared to when not using it. Overall, radiologists correctly identified cancer 90 percent of the time when CAD was not used, and only 83 percent of the time when they used CAD.

Take Control of Your Cancer Risk

In closing, remember to get your vitamin D level checked, and if below 60 ng/mL, take steps to raise your blood level. If you're looking for a scientifically proven way to avoid being a breast cancer statistic, optimizing your vitamin D is at the very top of the list.

Again, the level you're aiming for is between 60 and 80 ng/mL, with 40 ng/mL being the low cutoff point for sufficiency to prevent a wide range of diseases, including cancer.

As for dosage, you need to take whatever dosage required to get you into the optimal range. Research43 suggests it would require 9,600 IUs of vitamin D per day to get 97 percent of the population to reach 40 ng/mL, but individual requirements can vary widely. As mentioned, your magnesium status is a very important factor that can play a role in your required dosage, but there are many other individual factors as well.

If you've been taking a certain amount of vitamin D3 for a number of months and retesting reveals you're still not within the recommended range, then you know you need to increase your dosage. Over time, with continued testing, you'll find your individual sweet spot and have a good idea of how much you need to take to maintain a healthy level year-round.




Weekly Health Quiz: Plants, Oxygen and Bees


1 For optimal health, your omega-3 index should be:

  • Below 8 percent
  • As close to 100 percent as possible
  • As close to 1 percent as possible
  • 8 percent or higher

    While a general recommendation is to take 3 to 4 grams of marine-based omega-3 per day, the only way to identify your ideal dose is to measure your omega-3 index with a blood test. For optimal health, aim for an omega-3 index of 8 percent or higher. Learn more.

2 Which of the following has NOT been implicated in bee die-offs?

  • Overfeeding

    Recent research suggests glyphosate may kill bees by altering the bacterial composition in the bees' guts, making them more prone to fatal infections. Other factors implicated in bee die-offs include neonicotinoids, parasitic infestations, poor nutrition and habitat loss. Learn more.

  • Neonicotinoid pesticides
  • Glyphosate-based herbicides
  • Habitat loss

3 According to available research, to prevent one case of influenza, how many people must be vaccinated?

  • 1
  • 71

    To prevent one case of influenza, 71 people must be vaccinated. Meanwhile, one case of flu will be prevented for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement. Learn more.

  • 11
  • 51

4 Flotation therapy in a sensory deprivation tank can be enormously beneficial in the treatment of which of the following injuries?

  • Bone breaks
  • Back injury
  • Traumatic brain injuries

    Sensory deprivation therapy can be enormously beneficial in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries by resetting the neuroendocrine system. Learn more.

  • Neck injury

5 Which of the following plant fibers is used to make linen?

  • Nettle
  • Hemp
  • Bamboo
  • Flax

    Flax can be grown for a nutritional seed harvest, and its fiber is used in the making of linen. Learn more.

6 Which of the following formulas help optimize your endurance by ensuring enough oxygen is being put through your body to fuel fat burning rather than sugar burning?

  • 180 minus age

    180 minus your age is the heart rate at which enough oxygen is being put through your body to fuel fat burning, and to not put you into glycogen or sugar burning. Learn more.

  • 190 minus age
  • 210 minus age
  • 220 minus age



What Are the Benefits of Fisetin?


Research on a flavonoid called fisetin, which contributes to the pigment of fruits and vegetables like apples, cucumbers, grapes, onions, persimmons and strawberries, has been called out for its potential antiaging properties. In experiments performed on lab mice, fisetin was shown to eliminate senescent cells, which accumulate as you age and can be harmful to your body.

While fisetin was discovered years ago, it is one of many diet-derived antioxidants being increasingly investigated for its health-promoting effects. As a plant-based flavonoid, fisetin can be consumed for long periods of time without any known adverse effects. Let’s take a closer look at this promising plant pigment.

What Is Fisetin?

If you’ve not yet heard of fisetin, you are not alone. After all, there are about 6,000 flavonoids from which to choose and each of them contributes to the colorful pigments of fruits, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants.1 Beyond their role in producing pigments, flavonoids are also antioxidants.

With the continued focus on the value of antioxidants, individual flavonoids are increasingly being recognized for the positive effects they can have on human health. Now, a study published in EBioMedicine2 suggests consuming fisetin at high levels may help you live a longer, healthier life.

In fact, the research, which involved lab mice, suggests the consumption of fisetin may extend your life by as much as 10 percent. Researchers from Scripps Research Institute, Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota evaluated 10 flavonoids to determine their senolytic activity, calling out fisetin as the most potent.

Fisetin Is Prized for Its Role in Killing Senescent Cells

Though you may not have heard of them, senescent cells are cells that through oxidative damage and aging have lost their ability to reproduce. The study authors defined senescence as a “tumor-suppressor mechanism activated in stressed cells to prevent replication of damaged DNA.”3  

They note past studies involving genetic and pharmacologic approaches have shown senescent cells to play a causal role in accelerating aging and age-related diseases. In fact, before putting fisetin to the test, the scientists published research in Aging Cell in 2015 highlighting the flavonoid quercetin for its senolytic activity.4,5

When administered with the chemotherapy drug dasatinib, quercetin was shown to improve age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, frailty and osteoporosis. About those results, the study authors said, “The combination of dasatinib and quercetin was effective in eliminating senescent MEFs (mouse embryonic fibroblasts).

In vivo, this combination reduced senescent cell burden in chronologically aged, radiation‐exposed and progeroid [syndrome-affected] mice.”6 The researchers also noted “the efficacy of senolytics for alleviating symptoms of frailty and extending healthspan.”7

In terms of underscoring the value of senolytics like fisetin, another study, published in July 2018, affirmed that “senescent cells can cause physical dysfunction and decreased survival even in young mice, while senolytics can enhance remaining health[span] and life span in old mice.”8

Fisetin Shown to Promote Longer Healthspans in Lab Mice

Scientists are interested in fisetin mainly for its usefulness in eliminating senescent cells, an action that could encourage antiaging and promote longer, healthier lives. Senior study author Laura Niedernhofer, director of the Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism at the University of Minnesota (UM), told Newsweek:9

“We’re looking for drugs that can kill these damaged senescent cells that are very toxic to our bodies and accumulate as we get older. It turns out that fisetin is a natural product that actually we were able to show very selectively and effectively kills these senescent cells, or at least dials back their bad secretions or inflammatory proteins.”

According to Newsweek, as senescent cells accumulate in your body, they can cause both inflammation and tissue degradation.10 Acting as a senolytic agent, fisetin may be able to kill senescent cells in humans just as it has been shown to do in aging mice.

Paul Robbins, Ph.D., UM professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics and associate director of the Institute, commented:11

“The mice reached an extension of life span and healthspan of over 10 percent, that’s pretty remarkable. At the dose we used, the question is if we could give them a lower dose or more infrequently. That’s a theoretical advantage of using these types of drugs that can clear the damaged cells — you can use them intermittently.”

Fruits and Vegetables Containing Fisetin

Even though fisetin is naturally occurring in a number of fruits and vegetables, you will likely not be able to obtain therapeutic amounts of this flavonoid from food alone. While scientists continue working out the proper dosing for fisetin, there is, however, little harm in — and possibly much benefit to — adding some of these fisetin-containing foods to your diet:12,13

Food Fisetin in micrograms/gram (g)

Strawberry

160

Apple

26.9

Persimmon

10.6

Lotus root

5.8

Onion

4.8

Grape

3.9

Kiwi

2.0

Peach

0.6

Cucumber (with skin)

0.1

As you can see, strawberries are by far the best food source of fisetin, but you’d need to eat about 37 whole berries to get a decent amount of benefits. (One supplement brand, which I cannot endorse, even uses the wording “37 strawberries” in their product name.) Obtaining an optimal amount of this, or other flavonoids, from food sources is, unfortunately, not always realistic.

While a small 1998 Japanese study14 estimated the average daily intake of fisetin to be just 0.4 milligrams (mg) in that country, figures are not yet available to track fisetin consumption by Americans. Additionally, recommended dietary intakes for fisetin do not exist.

For now, as noted by Robbins, knowing that fisetin can have a positive impact on damaged cells is good news even as more work, including a series of human medical trials, is needed.

He stated, “These results suggest that we can extend the period of health — termed ‘healthspan’ — even toward the end of life. But there are still many questions to address, including the right dosage, for example.”15

Some of the Health Benefits of Fisetin

As noted in the Journal of Nutritional Science, the interest in the health-boosting effects of flavonoids, including fisetin, continues to grow. The study authors asserted:16

“Flavonoids are now considered as an indispensable component in a variety of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications. This is attributed to their antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties, coupled with their capacity to modulate key cellular enzyme function.”

Already, a number of fisetin supplement brands exist, touting some of the health benefits noted below.17 To date, fisetin has been shown to:

Encourage anti-inflammatory action — Fisetin has been shown to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines. While noting a flavonol-rich compound containing fisetin could be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, one group of study authors noted:18

“In experimental inflammation-related models, flavonol-rich RVHxR (Rhus verniciflua Stokes) and fisetin have shown significant anti-inflammatory activities on vascular permeability, leukocyte migration and cellular immunity.

Also, flavonol-rich RVHxR and fisetin treatments significantly reduced the incidence and severity of [the] collagen-induced arthritis model.

These results suggest RVHxR and its major compound fisetin have shown potent suppressive effects on some inflammatory cytokines/chemokines and angiogenic factor in [Interleukin 1 beta]-stimulated rheumatoid arthritis FLS (fibroblast-like synoviocytes) and inflammatory in vivo models.”

Help prevent cancer — Given its well-known anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiproliferative properties, fisetin can play a role in helping to prevent cancer. To date, among other effects, fisetin has been shown to:

  • Activate particular signaling pathways to induce cell death (apoptosis) in cervical cancer cells19
  • Exhibit antigrowth potential against lung cancer cells20 and prostate cancer cells21
  • Inhibit melanoma cell growth22
  • Induce apoptosis in colon cancer cells by inhibiting certain signaling pathways23

Inhibit bone-damaging glycation — Glycation, a process in which sugar molecules bond to certain proteins and lipids in your body, results in bone-damaging Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products.

According to natural health expert Vivian Goldschmidt, founder of the Save Institute, a branch of which focuses on osteoporosis prevention, these molecules destroy collagen, the cartilage-like material that gives your bones tensile strength.24 Due to its beneficial interaction with proteins found in your body, one study indicates fisetin arrests the glycation process.25

Maintain your glutathione levels — According to a 2009 study published in the journal Genes & Nutrition, fisetin has been shown to help maintain your glutathione levels, particularly during times of increased oxidative stress.26

The study authors stated, “Fisetin not only has direct antioxidant activity but it can also increase the intracellular levels of glutathione, the major intracellular antioxidant.”27 Goldschmidt asserts glutathione “has the most electrons of any antioxidant, so it can ‘donate’ more of these electrons to free radicals in order to neutralize them.”28

Protect your brain function — A 2014 study published in Aging Cell29 suggests fisetin may have the ability to stave off age-related memory associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. The researchers suggested fisetin can act on many of the target pathways implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

They also found oral administration in mice aged 3 to 12 months prevented the development of learning and memory deficits. The study authors suggested “our results demonstrate fisetin, a compound that activates multiple, well-defined neuroprotective pathways, may provide a new approach to the treatment of [Alzheimer’s disease].”30

As noted in the featured video, fisetin is one of the few substances capable of crossing your blood-brain barrier. (Curcumin, a polyphenol with neuroprotective qualities, is another.)

Slow the progression of Huntington’s disease — In animal studies, fisetin has been found to slow the progression of Huntington's disease, an ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by cognitive, motor and psychiatric symptoms.

Pathways implicated in the disease include those involving mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and, particularly, the Ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Ras-ERK) cascade. Based on 2011 experiments involving three disease models, fisetin was shown to reduce the impact of the mutant huntingtin gene.31

The study authors noted both fisetin and resveratrol activated the ERK pathway, “thus suggesting that polyphenols and/or their derivatives might be useful for the treatment of [Huntington’s disease].”32

Stabilize resveratrol — Similar to other flavonoids, fisetin has been shown to inhibit the hepatic and duodenal sulphation of resveratrol,33 thus improving the bioavailability of this powerful anti-inflammatory polyphenol found in red wine and the skins of certain fruits.

Says Goldschmidt, “Fisetin acts as a shield for resveratrol, slowing its breaking down and being metabolized in the liver. Thus, fisetin actually increases the amount of resveratrol in the blood.”34

What’s Next for Fisetin?

Fisetin is currently undergoing clinical trials at Mayo Clinic, which means some more conclusive information about recommended dosing could become available at some point in the future. One of the current trials35 seeks to evaluate markers of frailty and inflammation, as well as bone resorption and insulin resistance in older postmenopausal women.

The study involves 40 women, ages 70 to 90, who are affected by gait disturbance. Half of the women are receiving an oral dose of 20 mg of fisetin per kilogram of body weight per day for two consecutive days, for two consecutive months, while the other half is receiving a placebo according to the same time schedule.

The trial began in February 2018 and will conclude in June 2020. According to the researchers, “Positive results of this study would lead to the development of a larger clinical trial examining the effects of this intervention on age-related dysfunction.”36

Given the many health benefits of fisetin, I highly recommend you regularly add a serving of organic strawberries (or another fisetin-containing food) to your diet. Given the fact a 1-cup serving (152 g) of strawberry halves contains just 3.8 g of fructose, you can easily incorporate this delicious, nutritious fruit into your eating plan and still moderate your fructose levels.

As you may recall, I advise you limit fructose from all sources, including whole fruit, to 25 mg a day if you are healthy and less than 15 mg if you are dealing with a chronic illness like cancer or diabetes.

Also, when buying strawberries from the store, keep in mind conventional varieties are sprayed with a number of toxic pesticides, including chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive damage, so be sure to purchase organic and wash them well before eating.




Garlic Is a Great Blood Thinner


As you age, your arteries stiffen and continue doing so over time. It happens to virtually everyone to varying degrees, a 2012 study1 observes, and leads to more frequent physiological problems related to poor blood circulation, including an increased risk of renal impairment — renal being the organs involving your kidneys, bladder and urethra, the system that regulates the passage, storage and elimination of urine — as well as stroke.

In 2013, researchers reported2 following a meta-analysis on the effects of garlic on serum lipids that garlic consumption may help optimize cholesterol levels, leading to a reduced risk of coronary events.

In fact, bestselling author Dr. Michael Greger, a Fellow of the American College of Legal Medicine (FACLM) and a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition, says that you can eat less than a quarter-teaspoon of garlic powder per day, as studies found that study participants appeared to have less aortic stiffness.

“We think this is because garlic seems to improve the function of the inner lining of our arteries, which helps our arteries relax. But the protective mechanisms of garlic against cardiovascular diseases are multiple, and include a combination of anti-clotting, clot-busting, antioxidant, and blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering effects.”3

In addition, Greger notes that the blood-thinning properties of garlic are so pronounced that the American Society of Anesthesiology recommends that people avoid eating garlic altogether for the week prior to undergoing elective surgery. However, if you’re a candidate for surgery, you could go ahead and have your garlic, with one large stipulation: It must be cooked first.

According to Greger, the “antiplatelet aggregation” activity in garlic, as well as onions to a much lesser degree, goes by the wayside when it’s cooked. But comparing these allium vegetables, he explains in the featured video, comes with another qualification stemming from the fact that raw garlic appears to be around 13 times more potent as a blood thinner than either raw onions or the cooked form of garlic, which another study4 noted in 1999.

It should be noted that in the above-mentioned 2013 meta-analysis, the authors noted that garlic in its many raw forms could be considered not just a viable alternative to conventional cholesterol-lowering medications, but also may optimize cholesterol levels to a degree “of clinical relevance … associated with a 38 percent reduction in risk of coronary events at 50 years of age,” and just as significantly with a higher safety profile.5

How to Squeeze the Most From Your Garlic

But what if you’re not planning to have surgery, and you’d appreciate benefiting from the ability of garlic to decrease your heart attack and stroke risks? Greger suggests putting raw onion in tossed salads and raw garlic in salsas, pesto and dips, but there’s another way to squeeze all the heart-healthy goodness there is in this pungent family of vegetables, considered by many to be staples in so many pantries.

In demonstrating exactly how raw garlic can slow the development of blood clots to help prevent cardiovascular disease, researchers used both crushed and uncrushed garlic cloves to compare their in-vitro antiaggregatory activity (IVAA), also comparing numerous cooking methods.

Garlic cloves were boiled in water for three minutes or less; others were oven-heated at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and neither suppressed the IVAA activity. The scientists noted:

“Heating for six min[utes] completely suppressed IVAA in uncrushed, but not in previously crushed, samples. The latter samples had reduced, yet significant, antiplatelet activity. Prolonged incubation (more than 10 min) at these temperatures completely suppressed IVAA. Microwaved garlic had no effect on platelet aggregation.”6

Then the scientists tried something else: They increased the amount of garlic juice applied to both the crushed and uncrushed garlic and found that in the microwave to have a beneficial effect on the crushed, but not the uncrushed garlic in terms of its ability to prevent platelet aggregation.

The study authors noted that the addition of raw garlic juice to uncrushed garlic cooked in the microwave “restored a full complement of antiplatelet activity that was completely lost without the garlic addition”7 — although I still don’t recommend cooking it in the microwave.

In other words, Nutrition Facts8 explains that by crushing or chopping garlic and waiting, say, 10 minutes before cooking it, the enzyme responsible for making the antiplatelet compounds is activated. Here’s how it works when using raw garlic:

“If you cook it for just a few minutes, it does fine; but after cooking for about five minutes, the benefit is abolished. If, however, you pre-crush the garlic and wait, some of the antiplatelet activity is retained a bit longer.

That’s because the enzyme that makes the antiplatelet compounds is activated by crushing but destroyed by heat faster than it creates the compounds. So, by crushing first and letting the enzyme work its magic before cooking, one can delay the loss of function.”9

Garlic Has Valuable Compounds for Disease-Fighting Strength

Another thing that is highly significant in the study is that the clot-busting activity was “always” linked to allicin and pyruvate levels. Science Direct10 explains that the pyruvic acid amount in onions and garlic is a reflection of their pungency.

Besides having high levels of phosphorus, garlic also has compounds with high concentrations of sulfur. In fact, thiosulfinates, including allicin, compose the most prominent active components in garlic. SelfHacked11 lists a number of functions of allicin, cited in clinical studies:

  • It reacts with proteins, which helps block the pathways associated with inflammation, specifically in ulcers caused by H. pylori, the most common bacterial infection in the world,12 and even antibiotic-resistant superbugs.13
  • Allicin in garlic battles bacteria by deterring sulfur-containing enzymes that (bad) bacteria need to survive.14
  • It helps treat intestinal infections caused by parasites by blocking fat synthesis in them, while promoting immune function by stimulating the formation of white blood cells.15
  • Allicin in garlic “inhibits the growth of Candida, the most common type of yeast infection, by destroying fats present in the outer surface of the yeast.”16

In addition to these actions by garlic compounds, there are many more advantages to finding a garlic-containing recipe you love, because your health can be impacted in a number of positive ways. These include:

Colds and flu

Helps lower your blood pressure

Alleviates damage done by liver as well as kidney toxicity

Preventing tooth decay and oral infections

Detoxifies your liver

Offsets allergies

Reduces signs of aging

Reduces insulin resistance

Helps treat rashes such as psoriasis and eczema

Protects your skin from ultraviolet light

Treats hair loss such as alopecia

Improves your memory

Studies Show Compounds in Garlic Help Treat and Prevent Cancer

Many more dramatic benefits from garlic compounds can be had, including from the nutrients it contains, such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and vitamins A and C, and smaller amounts of such minerals as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese, as well as B vitamins.17

But often it’s the more obscure compounds that exert the most potent results. Here are more studies highlighting the power of garlic, specifically as it relates to cancer and HIV:18

  • It boosts your immune system, and significantly, aged garlic extract has been found to stimulate white blood cell growth, which in turn increases the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that lowers inflammatory proteins known as cytokines.19
  • One study found garlic may help treat HIV by killing off infected immune cells. In addition, diallyl disulfide obstructs the replication of the virus.20 Also, “Ajoene, a garlic extract, prevents normal blood cells from fusing with HIV-infected cells and inhibits HIV replication in infected cells.”
  • Garlic may not only treat, but prevent, cancer due to S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC), a sulfur compound that lowers the growth of cancer cells and brings on apoptosis. SAMC binds to one protein responsible for cell production (tubulin) and activates others that cause tumor cell death.21
  • Other cancers garlic compounds may help inhibit or prevent include skin cancer,22 lung cancer,23 bladder cancer,24 colon cancer progression,25 prostate cancer progression,26 liver cancer progression,27 brain cancer,28 stomach cancer growth,29 breast cancer growth30 and more.

Garlic: Not a New Concept in Decreasing Platelet Aggregation

Garlic as a source for possible protection against the numerous aspects of heart disease is not a new concept. In 1997, a study31 conducted in Germany and published in Circulation concluded that ingesting garlic powder decreased aortic stiffness brought on by advancing age, also alluding to its ability to provide elastic properties to arteries.

Scientists can measure the stiffness of the aorta, the main artery leading to the heart, with the “gold standard” noninvasive aortic pulse wave velocity test, which can be “calculated as the ratio between the distance separating two locations along the artery and the transit time needed for the pressure or velocity wave to cover this distance,” according to the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance.32

There’s something called an ischemic stroke, which occurs when arteries to your brain are the ones that become either blocked or narrowed, resulting in reduced blood flow, aka ischemia. In fact, it’s the most common type of stroke, caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain; the other type is hemorrhagic, when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain.33

Yet another study outlines the effects of garlic on endothelial function in patients who’ve suffered an ischemic stroke, as evidenced by 125 Chinese patients, with the conclusion that daily garlic intake is “an independent predictor of endothelial function in patients with ischemic stroke and may play a role in the secondary prevention of atherosclerotic events.”34 According to Cedars-Sinai Medical Centers:

“The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Endothelial cells release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, immune function and platelet (a colorless substance in the blood) adhesion …

Endothelial dysfunction precedes the development of atherosclerosis, a chronic disease characterized by abnormal thickening and hardening of the arterial walls with resulting loss of elasticity … [and] [a]rtherosclerosis may cause a stroke or heart attack.”35

‘What Does Garlic Have to Do With the Mediterranean Diet? A Lot!’

A website called the Miracle of Garlic cites this strong-smelling veggie as one of the “secret ingredients” of the Mediterranean Diet, so-called because it draws heavily on such cooking staples as olive oil (due to the antioxidant strength), red grapes (and resveratrol, known to improve arteries) and wild-caught salmon as well of plentiful amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. The site reiterates the featured video and cited studies quite well:

“Garlic may very well be one of the most important ingredients within the Mediterranean diet that helps give the diet its fame for reducing the risk of tumors, cancer and cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure, thinning the blood to prevent the formation of blood clots, preventing atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases.

With over 300 powerful chemical substances resulting from crushing raw garlic or after cooking it, this miraculous herbal bulb provides tremendous health benefits to us.”36

No matter what type of diet you eat, adding fresh, crushed garlic to your daily meals is a simple way to increase not only their flavor but also their health benefits — exponentially!




Collagen for Soft Tissue Injury and Repair


Mark Sisson, a former elite endurance athlete that qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, founder of the popular website Mark's Daily Apple and a leader in the paleo movement, was one of the first to help me understand the importance of burning fat for fuel.

Here — after we cover some of the basic benefits of high-intensity interval training and strength training, previously discussed in "Primal Fitness Tips" — we segue to the topic at hand, namely the use of collagen for soft tissue injuries and repair, along with a few other useful fitness tips.

"How I came to [learn about collagen] was how I arrived at a lot of my epiphanies — I had a life crisis. I play ultimate Frisbee once a week, every week for the last 15 years now. But about five or six years ago, I started to develop severe Achilles' heel tendinosis.

Ultimate Frisbee is a very fast-paced game … There's lots of running … [and it] requires a lot of agility, a lot of side-to-side quick movement, as well as raw speed …

I found over a couple of years, in my late 50s, that I was starting to get these real severe Achilles' problems. I couldn't sprint. My Achilles' were really tender. They were getting thick. I went to see an orthopedic surgeon [who] said, 'You have severe Achilles' tendinosis.' I go, 'What does that mean?' 'Well, you're screwed, basically. You can't play sports again' …

An orthopedist in Southern California said, 'Well, here's what we're going to do. We're going to take the back of your heel, slit it open and scrape the Achilles' down to the raw meat. We're going to pack it up in a cast for three months, then you'll do nine months of rehab and you'll be 85 percent of where you were.' I'm like, 'No. That's not going to happen, Doc … '

I went back to my house and said, 'You know, there's something I was doing wrong here.' I started to do the analysis and I thought, 'Here I am stressing my Achilles', which is attached to the calves, so I'm really stressing the calves, the plantar fascia and everything around it, on a regular basis. I'm not giving my body the raw materials it needs to recover from that stress. It is that simple.'"

Collagen for Soft Tissue Repair

Collagen-based tissue includes tendons, ligaments, cartilage and fascia — basically connective tissue — all of which tend to get weaker and less elastic with age. Injuries are also worsened by the fact that there's very little blood supply in connective tissue, which slows down recovery.

While a muscle injury is fairly easy to fix and recover from, connective tissue require very specific raw materials, namely animal-based collagen such as gelatin and bone broth. This collagen material is amino acids that get incorporated into your body to become this matrix of connective tissue. Sisson adds:

"Even if you say, 'Well, I can get all of these raw materials from the amino acids in the meat that I'm eating, or in the protein drinks that I'm drinking,' the reality is you can get some of those, but not in the quantities that you probably need, particularly as you get older and particularly if you start stressing these tendons, ligaments, cartilage and other connective tissue and fascia.

Having done the analysis, I started supplementing 40 grams of collagen a day. Within four months, my Achilles' were better. I could have two scars on the back of my leg and be all pissed off about the surgery that I had that didn't quite come out the way I was promised.

But I'm here telling you that I just got off the track, where I ran 32 seconds for a 200 at age 65. And that's the first time I've been to the track in probably six months …

If you talk about gelatin, collagen peptide or collagen bone broth, we're talking about the same peptide. We're talking about glycine, proline, hydroxyprolines — some of these really specific amino acids — dipeptide, tripeptide that actually cross into the bloodstream as a unit and get incorporated into the body."

Your Body Selectively Takes Collagen Into Stressed Areas

The Achilles' tendon can be envisioned as a coiled spongy spring, full of fluid. Each time you stress it, the tendon tightens, pushing the fluid out. As the tendon relaxes, fluid flows back in. Sisson cites research showing that when subjects were given a collagen drink 15 minutes before performing a jump rope exercise, collagen peptides in the bloodstream surrounding the tissue were incorporated at over two times the normal speed.

"That was a fascinating study to me, which indicated that it's really happening the way I envisioned it — that the body will selectively take in these collagen peptides into the area being stressed, particularly if you don't have any other source of raw material in your diet," Sisson says.

"Even in the paleo world … you're eating choice cuts of meat, but you're not gnawing on the bones or the skin or the tendons or other nether parts of the animal … Most of us don't make bone broth anymore. We've had decades of not having any access to collagen.

I see it in pro-sports, where athletes are tearing anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs), medial collateral ligaments (MCLs), tendons and all kinds of stuff. I'm going to have to say that a lot of this is because their diet is so horrible to begin with, and then they don't take in supplemental collagen that I think would be probably wise on their part."

The Difference Between Collagen and Other Protein

As mentioned, the collagen Sisson recommends for soft tissue repair is high in glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, and relatively low in branched-chain amino acids, which are the primary ones that stimulate the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), muscle anabolism and muscle building.

For that reason, while 40 grams sounds like a lot, it does not count toward your daily protein intake, which I typically recommend keeping around 0.5 grams per pound of lean body mass. Above that, you start running the risk of overstimulating mTOR, which speeds aging and raises your risk for chronic disease, including cancer.

For more on this, see "The Very Real Risks of Consuming Too Much Protein." However, since mTOR is not stimulated by collagen peptides, you don't have to worry about exceeding your protein intake when taking a collagen supplement.

"Twenty grams a day is for my maintenance level of collagen," Sisson says. "But you hit the nail on the head. Collagen is such a unique protein blend of amino acids and it's so specific to collagenous material in the body that it does not sustain life.

When you buy a collagen product and it says 10 grams per serving or 20 grams per serving of protein, because it is protein and it has to say protein on it, when you look at the supplement facts panel on the back, it's zero percent of the daily value. In other words, it cannot sustain life."

Back in the '80s, a 500-calorie-a-day liquid protein diet was all the rage. Medifast and OPTIFAST were two of the big brand names. This liquid protein was in fact collagen. People believed they were getting 500 calories in the form of protein on a daily basis, but because it was collagen, it was not enough to live on. People actually died on this diet.

I actually had a number of patients on this program in the mid-'80s before I understood nutrition. Now I realize that a 500-calorie partial fast can actually be very healthy but should only be done a few times a week, and must be cycled in with a high-protein, high-carb diet in a really specific sequence. Also, there are better proteins than collagen for a partial fast. I go into great details on this in my new book, "Keto Fast," that comes out next spring.

"They had congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and things like that, because it was not the right kind of protein to build muscle," Sisson says. On the other hand, as long as you didn't pursue it for too long or too exclusively, you could significantly improve health as it maximized autophagy.

"That's the good news-bad news … A lot of people wound up having great skin, hair and nails and lost some weight. That was the upshot of that. Anyway, it was such an interesting concept that even the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration say, 'You can't live on collagen protein.'

They're basically acknowledging that if you eat collagen protein, you're doing it for skin, hair, nails, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, bones and fascia — a lot of structural components in our body that are well-served by doing a daily dose of some form of collagen.

That's also why bone broth has become all the rage in the health food circles in the last five years … Here's my shameless plug. I had such a great experience with supplementary collagen, I created a collagen product line within my Primal Kitchen food line, as I am so clear on people needing to supplement with collagen on a regular basis."

Types of Collagen

While 28 different types of collagen have been scientifically identified, most supplements will contain one or more of just three of these, which are known simply as:1,2,3

  • Type 1 — collagen found in skin/hide, tendon, scales and bones of cows, pigs, chicken and fish
  • Type 2 — formed in cartilage and typically derived from poultry
  • Type 3 — fibrous protein found in bone, tendon, cartilage and connective tissues of cows, pigs, chicken and fish

Types 1, 2 and 3 comprise 90 percent of the collagen in your body.4 When talking about collagen supplements, you also need to know the difference between unhydrolyzed (undenatured) or hydrolyzed (denatured) collagen. In their natural, hydrolyzed state, collagen molecules are poorly absorbed due to their large size.

Hydrolyzation refers to a processing technique that breaks the molecules down into smaller fragments, thereby enhancing intestinal absorption. For this reason, most collagen products are hydrolyzed. As for the difference between collagen and gelatin: Collagen is the raw material and gelatin is what you get when you cook the collagen.5

"Bovine-sourced collagen are the basic element, probably covering 80 percent of the bases," Sisson says. "There are different sources of different blends of collagen peptides. Some are higher in proline. Some are higher in glycine. Some are higher in hydroxyproline.

But they all have kind of the same sorts of dietary peptides, just at relatively different levels and different amounts … And then we have hyaluronic acid, which is another factor in some of these products.

I'm basically saying that [you can] cover 80 percent of your needs with a 100-percent grass fed, naturally derived bovine source of Type 1 and a little bit of Type 2 collagen … As for the rest, you're just splitting hairs. That's how I feel about the Type 1 and Type 2 stuff."

Beware — Nonorganic Collagen and Bone Broth Products Are Likely CAFO-Derived

Keep in mind that many collagen supplements are made from animal parts derived from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and may contain unwanted contaminants, including heavy metals,6 chemicals such as butylparaben, and drugs,7,8 including antibiotics.

If you do not consume factory-farmed/CAFO meats, you likely should not be consuming CAFO collagen and bone broth products. While CAFO-derived collagen, bone meal or bone broth may not be acutely toxic, purchasing food products from factory farms is a problematic practice.

I recommend eating mostly organic and grass fed foods — and that includes collagen from these sources — as each and every source will add to your overall toxic load. To avoid exposure to CAFO-related contaminants, make sure the product is "100% USDA Organic" and/or certified grass fed by the AGA.

On Dosage

When it comes to dosage, there are no hard and fast rules. Sisson, being willing to experiment on himself, decided for a larger-than-normal dose and took 20 grams of collagen twice a day to start. After a few months, he cut down to a maintenance dose of 20 grams a day.

"I thought, I'm just going to bathe my Achilles' in this raw material," he says. "I think there's a rate limiter on how much your body can absorb … It's not like you're going to hurt yourself … [But] you still have to deaminate the excess.

Some of it might be converted into glucose, because there's that whole gluconeogenic aspect of excess protein. I used to think I had high protein requirements but all of a sudden I was like, 'Geez, my daily protein requirements might be 50 to 75 grams a day.'

I feel great doing that. Anything I eat beyond that isn't building more muscle, isn't causing me to burn more fat. It's just extra calories that the body has to figure out what to do with.

Again, do I convert it to glucose and burn it? Do I convert it to glucose and store it as fat? Do I deaminate it and pee it out? Do I keep it temporarily in the nebulous amino acid pool or sink that's in the body?

In the last couple of years as I look more into this whole protein thing, I don't even think in terms of meal-to-meal or even day-to-day. I sort of look at protein intake in three and four day clumps.

If I get 180 grams of protein over three days, I don't care how it came in or when it came in. That's enough to keep me going, because the body is so efficient at recycling, particularly when you're fat-adapted and keto-adapted. It's so efficient at not feeling like it needs to dispose of that protein."

The Importance of Pulsing Your Protein and Carb Intake

Personally, I've found I need to pulse my protein intake. I'll restrict it below 15 to 40 grams a day a few days a week, then increase it to 70 to 100 grams on my strength training days or post partial fast. While you don't want to chronically stimulate mTOR, you also don't want to chronically suppress it. So, pulsing or cycling seems to be the best way to go about it.

The same can be said for carbohydrates. While nutritional ketosis requires you to severely restrict net carbs while increasing dietary fats, chronic carb restriction is inadvisable. This is why I recommend cycling in and out of ketosis once you've established that your body can efficiently burn fat. As explained by Sisson:

"I don't like the word 'ketogenesis' because it connotes an excess of ketones in the bloodstream. To think that you're going to have an excess of ketones in the bloodstream all the time for the rest of your life is ridiculous. I talk about keto in the same breath that I talk about fat-adapted and keto-adapted. The term I use is 'metabolic flexibility.'

We want to be able to burn fat when it's available on our plate. We want to burn fat when there's no food available. We want to burn glycogen when it's in our muscles and there's none available.

We want to burn carbohydrate on our plates, and when it's available [as] glucose in the bloodstream. We want to burn ketones when there's no glucose. And, as the very last resort, we want to burn amino acids because it is a substrate in the absence of other substrates.

But metabolic flexibility means we've developed this internal combustion system that is equally adapted, extracting calories from all these substrates, not just dependent on carbohydrate every three or four hours, which was the old paradigm. But certainly, also not just adhering to a keto diet for the rest of your life with no more than 20 or 30 grams of carbs a day."

Living Your Best Life

While I believe wearable fitness trackers, like an Oura ring that has no EMF when it is airplane mode, can be valuable, Sisson is a self-proclaimed "anti-wearable tech person." Instead, he believes it's important to become more intuitive in your approach to lifestyle choices.

"How do you look, feel and perform? When you wake up in the morning and you do a workout, are you ready for that workout? Do you feel like doing that workout? Are you excited about the workout? Do you have enough energy when you wake up in the morning?

If you're not hungry, do you still have to eat? No. If you're not hungry, why are you going to eat in the first place? A lot of this is just developing an intuitive sense so that even if you eat the wrong thing, you don't beat yourself up …

I'm trying to take this high-tech movement and swing it back to using the information to get you to identify when you are ready to do something you're not yet ready to do. A good example would be a heart rate monitor. I train with a heart rate monitor …

Now, after years of using one, I know what my heart rate is at different levels. In fact, the only reason I ever used a heart rate monitor after the first couple of years was to keep me below a certain level [of exertion], because I knew if I went above a certain level, I was in that black hole of [over]training."

How a Heart Monitor Can Improve Your Endurance

Sisson has a counterintuitive recommendation and approach to endurance training. While 220 minus your age is your theoretical max heart rate, Sisson recommends using 180 minus your age. This formula gives you your maximum aerobic function. What this means is that that's the heart rate at which enough oxygen is being put through your body to fuel fat burning, and to not put you into glycogen or sugar burning.

"A lot of people say, 'I'm 40 years old. That means I have a max training heartrate of 140. But Mark, I can train at 160 and 165 all day long. I could run six-minute miles. And when I do what you say, and I train at 140 as a max heartrate, I'm doing nine-and-a-half- to 10-minute miles. I'm almost walking. That can't be accurate.'

My response is, 'It's entirely accurate. Here's the issue. You perform well as a sugar burner. You're a great sugar burner. When you are training at 165 or 170 heart rate and you feel pretty good about it, you're great at burning sugar. But you suck at burning fat. The fact that you suck at burning fat is demonstrated by the fact that you can't do much work at 140 beats a minute.'

How Mark Allen became the premiere Ironman in the world is because Dr.[Phil] Maffetone coached him … [to keep] that metric. They go for long periods of time, never exceeding that heart rate … They don't use speed or miles per hour to dictate how fast they're going.

Over time, what they find is they become more and more efficient at that heartrate. All of a sudden, those nine-and-a-half-minute miles become eight-and-a-half-minute miles, and then eight-minute miles, and then seven-minute miles.

The next thing you know, this guy who's 40 years old complaining about how slow he's going, if he's done it for several weeks, he's all of a sudden going, 'Mark, I'm running six-minute miles at 140 beats a minute. Imagine what I can do when I get in a race and then I'm throttling it up at 160 or 165 beats a minute.'

At six-minute miles at 140 beats a minute, we know based on how hard the heart is not working, that he's burning fat, because he would not be able to supply that much oxygen to fuel that amount of work on sugar.

You have to understand the science. But when you do, and you realize as long as you're willing to spend time in this zone, you become more and more efficient. That is what endurance is all about. It's about how efficient you are."

More Information

For more fitness, diet and health tips, check out Sisson's blog on marksdailyapple.com. There you can also find his books, which include "The Primal Blueprint," "The Primal Connection," Primal Endurance" and "The 21-Day Total Body Transformation." If you subscribe to his newsletter you get a free copy of his fitness e-book.

His latest book, "The Keto Reset Diet," is available on Amazon and ketoreset.com. Sisson also sells whey, collagen protein, unsweetened organic ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressings made with avocado oil on primalkitchen.com.




How to Cook Asparagus


Asparagus can make any meal feel a little more special, since it’s considered a delicacy in the vegetable world. It’s among the most nutritionally balanced vegetables, as it’s low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, but packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
One of the most notable health benefits of asparagus is its high B vitamin content, particularly folate, a vitamin that promotes the production of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine — this is why asparagus is known as the “feel-good” vegetable. It’s also an excellent source of:


Vitamin K

Choline

Vitamin A

Vitamin C

Iron

Phosphorus

Potassium

Magnesium

Calcium

For most people, the go-to method for cooking asparagus is steaming, but there are many other ways to cook this versatile vegetable — it can be simmered, roasted, grilled, sautéed and more. You can even eat it raw in a salad. Asparagus also complements a variety of seasonings, from simple salt and pepper to boldly flavored spicy sauces.

Asparagus Nutrition Facts

If you want to know more about the nutritional value of asparagus, take a look at the nutrition facts table below:


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup, cut pieces — 134g

Amount Per Serving

% Daily Value*

Calories

27 kcal

1 %

 

Total Fat

0.16 g

0 %

 

Saturated Fat

0.054g

0 %

 

Trans Fat

0 g

 

Cholesterol

0 mg

0 %

 

Sodium

3 mg

0 %

 

Total Carbohydrate

5.2 g

2 %

 

Dietary Fiber

2.8 g

11%

 

Sugars

2.52 g

 

Protein

2.95 g

6 %

 

Choline

21.4 g

Vitamin C

0.2 mg

Calcium

32 mg

Iron

2.87 mg

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Asparagus?

The cooking time for asparagus depends on its thickness, as well as on the cooking method. It can be cooked as quickly as five minutes or as long as 15 minutes. Whichever cooking method you choose, make sure that you don’t cook asparagus for too long to keep it from becoming soggy.

How to Prepare Asparagus for Cooking

Some people don’t like eating asparagus because of its distinctly woody taste, but this could be avoided by simply taking the time to prepare asparagus properly before cooking. Follow these tips to ensure that you don’t end up with an unsavory dish: ,

  • Rinse and pat dry — Asparagus is harvested from the ground, so make sure you rinse it well to get rid of any dirt, then pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • Break off the bottom end — Hold the asparagus spear firmly on its bottom end then bend it until it snaps off. The spear naturally snaps at the point where the tough, woody portion ends and the softer part of the stalk begins. If you want the spears to have even lengths, you can trim the bottom end with a knife. 

 

  • Peel the skin — If you want your asparagus to be more tender, edible and presentable, you should peel off its skin. Place the asparagus spear on a flat surface to prevent it from bending while you’re peeling. Using a sharp peeler or paring knife, carefully peel off the skin until the lighter green or white part of the spear is exposed.

How to Bake Asparagus

Did you know that there’s a difference between baking and roasting, despite these terms being used interchangeably in today’s kitchens? The primary difference between these two cooking methods lies in the temperature setting.
Roasting usually occurs at a temperature of at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the surface of the asparagus to caramelize, whereas baking involves an oven temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Now that you know the difference between baking and roasting, follow this method from Genius Kitchen to bake your asparagus perfectly:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Coconut oil
Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)
Procedure:

  • Put the prepped asparagus spears in a baking pan or dish.
  • Drizzle coconut oil over the spears, and then add other seasonings like sesame seeds, salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until fork tender.

A Guide to Roasting Asparagus

Aside from steaming, another popular method for cooking asparagus is roasting. Keep in mind that the key to roasting is high heat. Here’s how to roast your asparagus spears to perfection, according to The Spruce Eats:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Coconut oil
Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)
Procedure:

  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread the asparagus spears on a baking pan, drizzle coconut oil on top and then place the pan in the oven.
  • Cook for around 10 minutes, or until the spears are brown and tender.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lemon juice before serving to add flavor.

Broiling: Another Great Way to Cook Asparagus in the Oven

Whether you’re tired of the usual oven-roasted asparagus or simply looking for other ideas on how to cook asparagus in the oven, broiling is a cooking method that you should give a try. It requires shorter cooking times than roasting or baking, so it’s perfect if you want to cook a quick meal. Follow these steps from Epicurious:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Coconut oil
Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)
Procedure:

  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the asparagus on a roasting pan, drizzle with a bit coconut oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Place in the oven, under the broiler, and cook for around five to 10 minutes.

How to Cook Asparagus on the Grill

Grilling not only adds a smoky taste to asparagus, but it also helps enhance its grassy flavor. Follow this method from Huffington Post when grilling asparagus spears:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Coconut oil
Salt
Procedure:

  • Brush the asparagus spears with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • On a heated grill, lay the asparagus spears perpendicular to the wires on the rack. Cook for seven to 10 minutes.

How to Cook Asparagus in a Pan or Skillet

Sautéing or stir-frying is recommended for thinner asparagus spears or stalks that have been cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths. Follow this method from The Spruce Eats when making a sautéed or fried asparagus dish:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Coconut oil
Procedure:

  • In a large frying pan or skillet, heat a bit of coconut oil over high heat.
  • Toss in the asparagus and then cook until the stalks are tender and browned, stirring constantly, around three to five minutes.

Tip: If you plan to add seasoning and aromatics like ginger, garlic and onion, put them in the pan and allow them to cook for a minute before adding in the asparagus spears.

How to Cook Steamed Asparagus

Steamed asparagus makes for a versatile ingredient, since you can season it however you like: with butter, lemon juice or hollandaise sauce. Steaming is also a very easy cooking method that will work on any asparagus size. Follow these steps from The New York Times to steam asparagus spears properly:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Salt
Water
Procedure:

  • In a pot with a steamer insert, boil up to an inch of salted water.
  • Place a single layer of asparagus spears on the steamer insert. Be careful not to cook too many asparagus spears at a time. Cover the pot and then cook the asparagus for about three minutes.
  • Remove the spears from the steamer insert using a slotted spoon or tongs, and then blot away the excess water with a towel.

Boiling Asparagus the Proper Way

If you don’t have a steamer, you can simply cook asparagus in boiling water. Follow this method from All Recipes:
Ingredients:
Asparagus, trimmed
Salt
Water
Procedure:

  • Boil a few inches of salted water in a wide pot. Make sure there’s enough water to cover the entire surface of the asparagus stalks.
  • Add in the asparagus stalks, and allow them to cook for two to four minutes, depending on their size. Avoid piling up the asparagus to allow them to cook evenly.
  • Remove the spears from the pot and then blot off the excess water with a paper towel.

Other Ways to Cook Asparagus on Stove Top

Aside from sautéing, steaming and boiling, you may also blanch and pan-roast asparagus on a stove top. Blanched asparagus complements a variety of dishes, while pan-roasted asparagus gives you the caramelized texture of roasted vegetable, without the hassle of using an oven or grill. Here’s how to do these two methods:

  • Blanching — Simply submerge the asparagus spears in a large pot of boiling salted water, remove them from the pot after three minutes, and then immediately spread them out or place them in ice water to cool.
  • Pan-roasting — Using a large frying pan, cook the asparagus spears in a bit of coconut oil over high heat. Cover the pan and allow the asparagus to cook until browned and tender, shaking the pan every now and then.

Asparagus Recipes You Can Try at Home

Now that you know the proper way to prepare asparagus spears and the different methods to cook them, put your new culinary skills to the test by recreating these delicious and nutrient-packed asparagus recipes:
Hearty Asparagus Soup With Crispy Bacon Recipe
Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1/2 pound cauliflower, chopped into florets
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 slices of rindless bacon
Procedure:

  • Melt the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, or until translucent.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute, or until softened.
  • Add the asparagus and cauliflower and stir for one minute, then pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for two minutes. Remove four asparagus spears and reserve.
  • Continue to cook the soup for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.
  • Add the parsley and blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the bacon on a baking tray and roast for five minutes, flip the bacon over and roast for another five minutes or until golden and crisp. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside, keeping warm.
  • Ladle the soup into warm bowls and add some crispy bacon. Cut the reserved asparagus spears in half lengthwise, then cut into one-half-inch lengths and add a few pieces to each bowl to finish.

Delectable Asparagus With Soft-Boiled Eggs, Capers and Bone Marrow Broth
Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Ingredients:
2 pounds of beef marrowbones, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 1/4 cups of organic beef stock
1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 bunches of asparagus, trimmed
4 organic free-range eggs
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, plus extra as needed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of baby capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted
Sorrel (preferably red-vein)
Procedure:

  • To make the bone marrow broth, remove the marrow from the bones, slice the marrow into one-half inch-thick pieces and set aside.
  • Heat the beef stock in a saucepan for 15 to 30 minutes over medium heat and reduce by just over half, or until 1 1/2 cups remain. Add the vinegar, thyme, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste; set aside and keep warm.
  • Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until tender but still slightly crisp, about one minute, then drain. Plunge in cold water to stop the asparagus from cooking further, and then set aside.
  • To prepare the eggs, bring a pot filled with water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the whole eggs with shells to the pot. Cook for five minutes (for soft-boiled), or adjust the cooking time to your liking. Remove with a slotted spoon and then peel off the shells.
  • Warm a frying pan over medium heat, gently heat the oil and then add the garlic and cook until it starts to brown, about one minute. Add the asparagus, capers, salt and pepper, then cook, tossing the spears in the pan until the asparagus turns slightly golden all over, for about 30 seconds.
  • To finish the bone marrow broth: In another frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil and pan-fry the bone marrow for 30 seconds on each side, or until lightly browned. Add the reduced broth to the bone marrow and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

To serve, divide the asparagus among four serving plates and spoon over the caper dressing from the pan. Cut the eggs in half and top the asparagus with the egg halves. Garnish with pine nuts and sorrel, spoon over a generous portion of the bone marrow reduction and finish with freshly cracked black pepper to serve.
Crispy Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Recipe
Serving size: 12 bundles
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
36 pieces fresh asparagus spears
12 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Procedure:

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees, and then line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Wrap three asparagus spears with a single slice of bacon in one even spiral layer, and then place them on the baking sheet.  Repeat this step with the remaining ingredients.
  • Drizzle with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before cooking for 20 to 25 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from Perfect Keto )

What to Keep in Mind When Selecting and Storing Asparagus

To create a delicious asparagus dish, you have to choose the freshest asparagus stalks. Look for stalks that are firm and straight, not limp. They should also be rich green, with a smooth texture — avoid asparagus stalks with wrinkled stems and soft and mushy tips.
If you have an abundance of asparagus that you’d like to preserve for later, be sure to keep their bottom ends moist and the rest of their stalks dry. Stand them upright in a glass of water and cover them with a paper towel. You can store asparagus in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Asparagus

Q. How do you cook fresh or frozen asparagus to make it perfectly crispy and succulent?
A. There are many ways to turn fresh or frozen asparagus into a delicious meal. Some of the popular cooking methods include steaming, boiling, roasting, grilling and sautéing. Whichever method you choose, the key to keeping the stalks crunchy is by cooking them for a short amount of time.
The cooking time for asparagus is usually between five and 15 minutes, depending on the stalk’s size and the cooking method. Avoid cooking the stalks for longer than 15 minutes, since they may turn mushy and gray.
Q. How many calories are there in asparagus cooked in olive oil?
A. According to MyFitnessPal, a pound of grilled asparagus in olive oil contains 53 calories.
Q. How do you clean and cook asparagus?
A. Give the asparagus stalks a quick rinse before cooking to get rid of any dirt, and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Don’t forget to remove their tough and fibrous bottom ends. You may also opt to peel their outer skin, especially if the stalks are thick. After you’ve cleaned and prepared the asparagus stalks, they’re now ready for cooking. You can follow any of the cooking methods mentioned above. ,
Q. Can you boil asparagus in water?
A. Yes, boiling is one of the most common ways to cook asparagus.
Q. Do you have to peel asparagus before cooking?
A. No, you don’t need to peel asparagus, although adding this step in the preparation process is a good idea, as it makes the asparagus stalks more tender, edible and presentable.
Q. Can you eat the tips of asparagus?
A. Yes, asparagus tips are edible. It’s the bottom ends of the asparagus that are usually discarded, since they taste woody and lack moisture.
Q. Can you eat raw asparagus?
A. Yes, you can eat asparagus raw. This nutritious vegetable actually makes for a great fresh salad.
Q. Can asparagus go bad?
A. Just like every other vegetable, asparagus can go bad if not properly stored. If you want to prolong its shelf life, place it upright in a glass of water and store it inside the refrigerator.
how to cook perfect asparagus




Hemorrhoids: An Introduction


Your body’s rectum and anus play major roles in temporarily storing and fully eliminating feces and other waste material from your body.1 Maintaining the health of these body parts is important; otherwise you may experience health problems that not only will hinder proper function, but cause pain and discomfort as well.

One such condition is hemorrhoids, which are enlarged and swollen blood vessels that develop in the lower portion of your rectum and anus.2

While health experts have not determined the exact cause of hemorrhoids, the Mayo Clinic notes that they may form because of an increased pressure in the lower rectum. Other risk factors linked to hemorrhoids include prolonged sitting, obesity, a low-fiber diet and constipation or diarrhea.3

How Many People Are Affected by Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids usually affect adults aged 45 to 65 years old, but young people and children may experience them as well. Men are more prone to having hemorrhoids, but women may also develop them, especially during pregnancy.4

According to a 2016 Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery article, at least 10 million Americans (4.4 percent of the population) report a case of hemorrhoids annually.5 Harvard Health Publications notes that around half of people aged 50 years and above have already experienced at least one or more of the usual symptoms of hemorrhoids, or have required treatment.6

You May Lower Your Hemorrhoids Risk by Employing Proper Preventive Measures

While most hemorrhoids are not life-threatening,7 they are literally a pain in the backside. However, there are pain-relieving protocols that are effective, inexpensive and can be done in the comfort of your own home. There are also surgical procedures for hemorrhoids, but these are advisable only if natural remedies haven’t worked.

Apart from addressing hemorrhoids once they appear, prevention is key. You can lower your risk for hemorrhoids (even if you don’t have them) by following a healthy and fiber-rich diet, incorporating more physical movement and even by changing the way you relieve yourself while on the toilet.

These articles will provide you with the information you need to know about this condition. Not only will you learn more about what hemorrhoids are, how they can affect you and the different types that you might notice, but you’ll also learn how to effectively get rid of hemorrhoids for good and prevent them from affecting you again.

MORE ABOUT HEMORRHOIDS

Hemorrhoids: Introduction

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids Causes

Hemorrhoids Types

Hemorrhoids Symptoms

Hemorrhoids In Pregnancy

Hemorrhoids Treatment

Hemorrhoids Surgery

Hemorrhoids Prevention

Essential Oils for Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids Diet

Hemorrhoids FAQ

Next >

What Are Hemorrhoids?




How Long Does It Take to Have an Empty Stomach?


By Dr. Mercola

The question posed in the headline is a common one heard by doctors everywhere: "How long does it take to have an empty stomach?" It's an important question for anyone taking prescription drugs because what you eat and drink, as well as the timing of your meals, can affect the way certain medications work.

Beyond that, there is value in becoming aware of the health benefits associated with regularly emptying your stomach. If your first thought, when you hear the words "empty stomach," is a negative one, it's time to update your thinking. Not only can you survive on an empty stomach, you can also thrive.

In my experience, emptying your stomach as a daily habit — through intermittent fasting or another safe type of fasting — can boost your health and well-being. The effects can be so radical that you actually may be able to reduce (or potentially eliminate) your use of prescription drugs as your health improves.

Taking Medications? How Do You Know When Your Stomach Is Empty?

"Ask Well," a medical question and answer feature presented in The New York Times,1 recently fielded this inquiry: "Many medications should be taken on an empty stomach. How do you know when your stomach is empty?"

Dr. Richard Klasco, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who provided the answer, wrote, "Two hours after eating is a crude rule of thumb. A more accurate answer depends on the drugs you are taking and your medical conditions."2

Klasco goes on to note that research on gastric emptying — the length of time it takes for your stomach to return to empty after a meal — has been going on since the 1940s.

Over the years, the experiments have changed based on scientific and medical advances. Since 1966, nuclear medicine, which involves the use of a small amount of radioactive material to emit photon energy, has remained as the established standard for measuring gastric emptying. Says Klasco:3

"Standards for such testing have been set by the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society and the Society of Nuclear Medicine. They state that a normal stomach should be 90 percent empty after four hours.4

The difference between this standard and the earlier study probably reflects differences in foods. Solids take longer to digest than liquids; fats take longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates. The [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration [FDA] … defines an empty stomach as 'one hour before eating, or two hours after eating.'"

Klasco indicates the FDA's two-hour rule is only an estimate, which means your stomach "will probably not be completely empty" after two hours, he asserts.5 In addition, Klasco points out that the expectations for an empty stomach vary widely from drug to drug.

It's best, he says, to read the package insert that accompanies all prescription medications dispensed in the U.S. and to clarify any uncertainties with your doctor. The insert contains, Klasco says, each drug's FDA-approved prescribing information.

It is often found glued to the drug package in the form of a tightly folded, fine-print flyer."6 For easier reading, you may want to review the insert details online at DailyMed, a website operated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine — a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — that contains more than 105,000 detailed medication listings.7

With respect to stomach emptying and medications, Klasco notes some medical conditions, like diabetes, can delay gastric emptying, whereas a bariatric surgery can accelerate it.8 Again, check with your doctor to find out the best emptying guidelines for your particular situation.

How Fasting Positively Affects Your Mitochondria and Your Health

By far, the best and quickest route to an empty stomach is to stop eating, otherwise known as fasting. This simple act of forgoing food for a certain period of time not only ensures stomach emptying, but it has also been validated as a powerful lifestyle tool for combating insulin resistance and obesity, as well as chronic diseases like cancer and many other health problems.

Not only does fasting upregulate autophagy and mitophagy — two of your body's natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cellular renewal and function — but it also triggers the generation of stem cells. Beyond that, cyclically abstaining from food and then initiating refeeding also massively stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, the process by which new mitochondria are created.

Mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells, producing about 90 percent of the energy being generated in your body. Because energy is needed to support nearly every bodily process, without healthy mitochondria you will be more vulnerable to illness and disease.

Your mitochondria also act as the coordinator for apoptosis —programmed cell death — an important process to ensure the death of malfunctioning cells that might otherwise degenerate into cancer. There's even evidence suggesting fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia because it helps your body clean out toxic debris.

The reason for this is because when autophagy increases, your body starts breaking down and recycling old protein, including the beta amyloid protein in your brain that is believed to contribute to Alzheimer's disease. While water-only fasting can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with excess weight and/or Type 2 diabetes, compliance can be difficult.

Fortunately, research has confirmed that similar results, while not as profound, can be achieved through intermittent fasting. This type of fasting entails following a meal-timing schedule where you're fasting for at least 16 hours every day and eating all of your meals within a six- to eight-hour window.

Are You Caught in a Cycle of Grazing and Snacking? Fasting Can Help

In the event you've not yet considered trying intermittent fasting, I would like to once again remind you of the tremendous health benefits associated with this practice. You may be avoiding intermittent fasting because you associate "fasting" with starvation or simply because it seems too daunting and challenging to make the necessary adjustments.

As mentioned, the goal with this type of fasting is to forego food for at least 16 hours a day. As such, you will want to skip either the first or last meal of the day. (I recommend the first meal.) As such, you will consolidate all of your calorie intake into the remaining block of eight or fewer hours.

I have had great success with intermittent fasting and highly recommend you take your first meal at around lunchtime. I also advise you avoid eating anything at least three hours before you go to bed. The concept of intermittent fasting is still catching on in the U.S., a country plagued by all-day grazing and the continuous availability of food around the clock.

While grocery stores and restaurants used to close by 8 or 9 p.m., many establishments now remain open until midnight and some 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Authors of a 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients, reviewing 35 years of snacking behavior by American adults, stated:9

"Results show that snacking remains a significant component of the U.S. diet and the foods consumed at these snacks — sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts and sweets and salty snacks — are not the types of foods recommended by the U.S. dietary guidelines."

If you realize constant snacking is crippling your health, please review my "Intermittent Fasting Infographic" for more information about this style of eating and the recommended time windows you can establish. If forgoing eating for 16 hours seems overwhelming at first, set a smaller goal and work your way up.

If your experience is anything like mine, the hours you set aside to give your body's digestive and other systems a break from food will produce health benefits beyond your imagination. In time, as you begin to realize some of the health benefits, you will likely become more motivated to do intermittent fasting on a regular basis.

The Health Benefits Available From Intermittent Fasting

When done well, intermittent fasting delivers a number of impressive health benefits. You will undoubtedly discover others that are meaningful to you beyond what is listed below. Research proves intermittent fasting:10,11,12

Boosts your cognitive function — Intermittent fasting improves your cognitive function by providing your brain with its preferred fuel: fat instead of glucose.

Studies indicate intermittent fasting helps in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's because of the boost in brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), a protein that is both neuroprotective and brain-stimulating.

Minimizes food cravings and hunger pangs — While you may think you'll be starving your body through fasting, the truth is it is a helpful technique known to eliminate cravings and reduce hunger pangs. It does this mainly by moving your body away from dependence on glucose for energy.

Normalizes your insulin and leptin sensitivity — Your body's blood sugar level is closely regulated not only by insulin, but also by leptin. Both hormones influence your food intake and weight, as well as your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

As mentioned, intermittent fasting shifts your body away from being dependent on glucose, which then curtails your sugar cravings, thus normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity.

Promotes cellular regeneration — Intermittent fasting promotes cell regeneration by triggering autophagy, a natural, "self-eating" process your body uses to recycle damaged cells. It helps inhibit cancerous growths and the development of chronic disease.

If you are eating throughout the day every day, your body has very little time for repair and renewal. By giving it a break from eating, your body can shift its focus to growing new cells, cleaning up cellular debris and removing toxins — activities it cannot perform otherwise.

Shifts your body to burn fat for fuel — Limiting your food intake forces your body to switch away from glucose to burning fat as a source of energy. This shift often results in weight loss and may lead to other improvements based on the fact fat is a more efficient and longer-burning fuel.

Contraindications Associated With Intermittent Fasting

To be successful with intermittent fasting you will want to ensure your doctor approves and that you do not have a serious medical condition for which it would be contraindicated.

By the way, fasting beyond 24 hours is not recommended for children. A better way to help a child lose weight is to restrict or remove refined grains and sugary foods from their diet. Fasting may not be recommended if you are:

Malnourished — If this is your situation, you will want to put your focus on eating healthier, more nutritious food and adding supplements as needed

Pregnant or breastfeeding — As a mother you need a continual supply of nutrients to ensure your baby's healthy growth and development; fasting could put both the health of you and your baby at risk

Taking medication — If you're on medication, check with your doctor before taking up fasting. That said, even if your doctor approves, you'll need to take care with medications that must be taken with food.

Metformin, aspirin and similar drugs can cause stomach upset or stomach ulcers when taken on an empty stomach. The risk of trouble is especially high if you're on diabetic medication.

Underweight — If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 or lower, fasting is not safe for you because it may increase the stress on your body and/or cause you to lose more weight.

Tips to Ensure Your Success With Intermittent Fasting

While you can simply restrict your eating window to eight or fewer hours while continuing to eat and drink whatever you want, you'll get a lot more out of fasting if you:

Drink plenty of water and other healthy liquids — During fasting, make sure you're getting enough liquids to keep yourself feeling full and satisfied. Drinking clean, pure water and beverages such as organic coffee and tea — in moderation — will help curb food cravings, especially as you first begin fasting.

As you might imagine, drinking alcohol, energy drinks, soda and other unhealthy beverages would be counterproductive to fasting.

Eliminate processed foods from your diet — One of the advantages of fasting is detoxification. As such, you'll realize more health benefits by eating whole foods such as organic vegetables, healthy fats and grass fed meat.

By eliminating processed foods from your diet, you will support your body in healing and detoxification.

Incorporate exercise into your daily routine — Working out in a fasted state can deliver amazing results. Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen from which to draw — because it has been depleted over the course of your fasted state and has yet to be replenished — your body is forced to adapt and pull from the only energy source available: fat stored in your cells.

Some of the types of exercise I recommend include: high-intensity interval training, stretching, walking, weight training and yoga.

Make sleep a high priority — Getting about eight hours of quality sleep a night will do wonders for your health. Most adults are chronically sleep-deprived, which has numerous negative health effects, including increasing your risk of accidents and chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.

Receive support from your friends and family — It is important for you to have the support of your friends and family, especially the people with whom you live, as you undertake intermittent fasting. These folks can share the journey and encourage you in moments of weakness when you may be tempted to give up.

With some thoughtful planning and careful consideration, you can empty your stomach and unleash a whole new level of health through intermittent fasting.

For even better results and to maximize your fat-burning potential, I suggest you combine intermittent fasting with a cyclical ketogenic diet. For all the details on how to do this, please refer to my article "Why Intermittent Fasting Is More Effective Combined With Ketogenic Diet."




‘Vaxxed’ — The Hidden Story of How Vaccine Safety Has Been Undermined and Suppressed


Can vaccines trigger autism? This is the topic of the film "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,"1 directed by Andrew Wakefield and produced by Del Bigtree, an Emmy Award-winning producer of "The Doctors" talk show.

The film became the center of controversy when it was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival lineup in 2016 by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, the two founders of the well-known film festival. According to Rosenthal, other filmmakers had threatened to withdraw their films from the festival if "Vaxxed" was shown.

While De Niro admitted feeling pressured to pull the film, he urged people to see it, saying there are many issues relating to the way the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluates and monitors the safety of vaccines that are not being openly spoken about, and really should be addressed.

Are Vaccines as Thoroughly Researched as Claimed?

The official stance repeated by most mainstream media is that vaccines have been thoroughly researched, that "hundreds" of studies have proven their safety, and that no link between vaccines and health problems, such as autism, have ever been found.

Again and again, you hear that the autism-vaccine link was based on a single study published in 1998 by a now-discredited doctor (Wakefield), and the hypothetical association between vaccines and autism has since been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. It sounds definitive enough, and is often repeated as established fact. Yet it's far from the whole truth.

Importantly, the vaccine industry has long shied away from evaluating vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations to determine potential differences in general health outcomes. The few independent scientists who have attempted such an investigation have little comfort to give to those who believe vaccines are essential for health, and mandatory use of vaccines by all children is the only way to protect society from disease.

One such study,2 published just last year, examined health outcomes among infants 3 to 5 months old following the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which took place in the early 1980s. This population offered the rare opportunity to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children due to the way the vaccines were rolled out in the West African country.

Shockingly, researchers discovered "DTP was associated with fivefold higher mortality than being unvaccinated." According to the authors, "All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis."

In other words, the researchers concluded that DTP vaccine weakened the children's immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to a whole host of other often deadly diseases and serious health problems.

Other clinical trials in West Africa revealed that a high titer measles vaccine interacted with the DTP vaccine, resulting in a 33 percent increase in infant mortality.3 In this case, the finding led to the withdrawal of that experimental measles vaccine targeting very young infants, but what would have happened had those studies never been done? Clearly, we need many more like them.

In the U.S., the CDC now recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they're 18 years old, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before the age of six.4 How does this affect their health? And is anyone actually tracking the health outcomes of children adhering to the federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule and state mandatory vaccination programs?

The answer is no. We do not know if or how all of these vaccinations are affecting the general health and mortality of our children.

We do, however, know that the U.S. has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any developed nation,5,6 and we also have the highest vaccination rates with 94 to 96 percent of children entering kindergarten having received multiple doses of vaccines.7 This high vaccination rate among kindergarten children, mostly due to state vaccine laws that require vaccinations for school attendance, has been maintained in the U.S. since the 1980s.8

Whistleblower Admits CDC Manipulated Data

A central part of "Vaxxed" storyline centers around William Thompson, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases (NCIR), who confessed that he conspired with colleagues to cover up links found between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

According to Thompson, this scientific fraud was committed for the express purpose of covering up potential safety problems so the agency would be able to maintain that the MMR vaccine had been proven safe to give to all children. Thompson explained they simply eliminated the incriminating data, thereby vanishing the link.

How FDA Hid Evidence of Mercury Poisoning

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of the World Mercury Project, has also released and written about documents showing that officials at the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "knew that infant vaccines were exposing American children to mercury far in excess of all federal safety guidelines since 1999."9 According to Kennedy:

"[T]he regulators realized that a [6]-month-old infant who received thimerosal-preserved vaccines following the recommended CDC vaccine schedule would have received a jaw dropping 187.5 micrograms [mcg] of mercury …

There was no point in time from birth to approximately 16 to 18 months of age that infants were below the EPA guidelines for allowable mercury exposure.

In fact, according to the models, blood-and-body burden levels of mercury peaked at [6] months of age at a shockingly high level of 120 nanograms/liter [ng/L]. To put this in perspective, the CDC classifies mercury poisoning as blood levels of mercury greater than 10 ng/L."

The reason you've never heard about this is because federal health officials concealed it with a statistical trick. By averaging the mercury exposure over a period of six months, the spikes in mercury on the days of vaccination disappeared. By massaging the way the data are reported the effect went from being 12 times over the level of mercury poisoning to being inconsequential. As noted by Kennedy:

"An analogy would be to compare taking two Tylenol tablets a day for a month to taking 60 Tylenol tablets in one day; the first exposure is acceptable, while the other is lethal."

This is why journalists who merely parrot the approved FDA and CDC talking points do readers such a tremendous disservice. Both federal health agencies have been accused of malfeasance and cover-up of important drug and vaccine safety data and, until the truth is known, it is unwise to blindly accept them as the final arbiters of what's safe and what's not. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which includes the CDC, FDA and NIH, also owns a number of vaccine patents and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines each year while simultaneously being responsible for vaccine regulation, policymaking, monitoring of vaccine safety and promotion of universal use of all CDC-recommended vaccines.

How can these federal health agencies effectively meet all of these different goals when they have inherent conflicts of interest? They cannot. Yet, these conflicts of interest are rarely if ever mentioned by the media.

What You Need to Know About Wakefield's 'Discredited Autism Study'

In the film, Wakefield explains the genesis of his now infamous paper, the so-called "discredited autism study" that vaccine advocates insist is the sole evidence for a link between autism and vaccines.

What many people don't know is that Wakefield and 12 other coauthors of the paper never actually performed a study to ascertain whether the MMR vaccine caused autism. They also did not state that MMR vaccine causes autism in the paper, but simply called for more research into the potential association.

It all began when a mother contacted Wakefield about her son, whose gastrointestinal and autism symptoms began after he received his MMR vaccination. An academic gastroenterologist, Wakefield told her he couldn't help, as he had no knowledge about autism. She insisted, saying her son had terrible digestive problems but no one was taking them seriously.

Wakefield decided to look into it and, in 1998, he and 12 colleagues published a case series paper in The Lancet, reporting that parents of 9 of 12 children, who had been seen for chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, reported their children's health deterioration began shortly after MMR vaccination.

It's important to realize that a case series paper is very different from a case control study. A case series simply describes the experiences of a single patient or group of patients with a similar diagnosis.

As Wakefield points out in his book, "Callous Disregard," the purpose of a case study is to "generate new hypotheses." It is not supposed to determine or investigate possible causality — and Wakefield's paper did not make any causal claims. Rather, he and his colleagues concluded:10

"We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps and rubella immuni[z]ation.

Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine."

The paper also explicitly stated that:

"We did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described …

If there is a causal link between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the U.K. in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there's a change in incidence or a link with measles, mumps and rubella vaccine."

Was Wakefield's Paper Fraudulent?

Wakefield's paper was eventually retracted after generating massive international controversy and denials by public health officials and doctors giving vaccines to children, who claimed the paper unnecessarily frightened and caused parents to question the safety of MMR and many other vaccines.

But to use Wakefield's case series paper as "proof" that there is no link between vaccination and autism simply because this paper was retracted is grossly misleading.

It wasn't a case-controlled clinical study designed to investigate or determine causation by comparing health outcomes of two different groups of patients; it was merely a case series paper that described similar health outcomes in patients and presented a hypothesis, nothing more.

According to detractors, including Bill Gates, Wakefield's paper was based on fraudulent, completely made-up data, but such accusations have been rebutted by David Lewis, Ph.D.,11 a research microbiologist and director of the Research Misconduct Project12 of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, DC.

A summary of the Wakefield case can be found on AHRP.org in the article, "How the Case Against Andrew Wakefield Was Concocted."13 In fact, Lewis' investigation led him to accuse The British Medical Journal of institutional research misconduct14 for publishing false accusations of fraud against Wakefield. According to Lewis:15

"Documents recovered from Dr. Wakefield's files during my investigation at the National Whistleblowers Center reveal that a pathologist associated with the study, Dr. Andrew Anthony, interpreted a number of the children's biopsies as evidence of colitis.

Altogether, the evidence contained in Wakefield's files suggested to me that the BMJ's fraud theory was more tabloid news than science."

In the end, what happened to Wakefield is powerful testimony of the danger that research scientists and physicians face if they draw the ire of the vaccine industry, government health officials and medical organizations promoting mandatory vaccination. The threat to one's livelihood is in and of itself a factor that prevents much-needed independent vaccine safety research.

Does Age of Exposure to MMR Vaccine Influence Autism Risk?

According to Wakefield, the history of the MMR vaccine may offer valuable clues to its safety, or lack thereof. The original MMR vaccine was linked to meningitis,16,17,18 and the filmmakers cite research suggested the age of exposure was a significant factor. The younger the patient at time of the vaccination, the higher the risk of developing meningitis.

Wakefield wondered if perhaps there might be a similar age-related link between MMR vaccine and autism. This research was ultimately done by the CDC, and Thompson was part of that team. As explained in the film, CDC whistleblower Thompson ended up contacting Brian Hooker, Ph.D., and advising him on how to obtain this and other vaccine data from the CDC.19

Copies of the files Hooker obtained from the CDC — about 10,000 in all — can be downloaded from the Vaxxed website.20 While Thompson could not legally give the studies to Hooker, he told Hooker to file a citizen's request to the CDC, and guided him on which studies and data sets to ask for.

Among them was a study21 Thompson cowrote that looked at autism rates and time of MMR vaccine administration, and found evidence for a heightened risk for autism when the first MMR dose was given at 15 months — a finding that was subsequently covered up.

A letter22 requesting the retraction of this study has been sent, based on the evidence of fraud presented by Thompson.

Protecting MMR Vaccine Program More Important Than Protecting Children's Health

Wakefield also describes the research he did into the testing and licensing of the MMR vaccine and how, based on that research, he could no longer support the use of the combination MMR vaccine. After he urged parents to avoid the triple vaccine and get the single vaccines (i.e., the individual vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella), demand for the single vaccines dramatically increased.

However, rather than allowing parents to choose between MMR and individual vaccines, the U.K. stopped importing the single vaccines and Merck decided to cease production of the single vaccines in the U.S. This action effectively removed parental choice altogether, compelling parents to use the combination MMR vaccine if they wanted to vaccinate their children.

When Wakefield questioned the rationale behind the U.K.'s decision to eliminate the single vaccines, a senior representative at the British department of health told him that if parents were allowed to choose between the triple MMR and single vaccines, it would destroy the MMR program. "In other words, the concern was for the protection of the program, over and above the protection of children," Wakefield said.

CDC Whistleblower Admits Omitting Data Showing MMR-Autism Link in African-American Boys

Thompson also cowrote a widely cited 2004 CDC study23 that concluded there was no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. However, Thompson admitted this conclusion is actually false, as the team simply excluded the data that showed a link.

According to Thompson, he and the other scientists who worked on the study were pressured "from the top" to come to conclusions that would support the government's policy on MMR vaccine safety. The omitted data, Thompson claimed, showed a distinct link between early MMR vaccination and a risk for the development of autism in young African-American boys.

Hooker published a reanalysis of the 2004 CDC data set in 2014, in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration,24 concluding that African-American boys who receive their first MMR vaccine before the age of 36 months have a 3.36 times greater risk of developing autism, compared to those who receive the vaccine after the age of 36 months. (The CDC's childhood vaccination schedule recommends getting the MMR vaccine between 12 and 18 months.)

For males in general, regardless of race, the risk for autism was 1.69 times greater when MMR was given prior to 36 months of age. Just how was Thompson's team able to hide this rather obvious connection? In short, data was originally obtained on 2,583 children living in Atlanta, Georgia, born between 1986 and 1993.

The original scientific analysis plan specified that school records and/or birth certificates were to be used to obtain race data. By excluding children who did not have a valid state of Georgia birth certificate, they were able to reduce the cohort size by more than 40 percent, and by including fewer subjects — through the introduction of the arbitrary criteria of a valid birth certificate to ascertain race — the statistical power of the findings were eliminated.

How Vaccines May Cause Harm

While a lot of attention has been given to thimerosal, a mercury compound used in some vaccines as a preservative, it's a mistake to think thimerosal is the sole problem when it comes to vaccine safety.

Thimerosal preservatives are not present in live virus vaccines such as MMR, and are not even included in significant amounts in most inactivated childhood vaccines anymore, yet vaccine-related injury and death, including the unexplained big increase in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders among children in the past three decades, is still a pressing reality.

What's more, vaccine safety is not simply a matter of proving or disproving the link between vaccines in general and autism specifically. There are many other, potentially severe vaccine side effects, including immune system dysfunction, that can lead to or exacerbate any number of health problems.

Examples of other vaccine ingredients and factors related to vaccination that may be harmful to health include:

Lack of research into the safety of the CDC's recommended childhood vaccine schedule that subjects infants and young children to 50 doses of 14 vaccines during the first six years of life, starting on the day of birth, including receipt of six to 10 vaccines on the same day.25

Failure of one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and laws to acknowledge increased individual susceptibility to harm from vaccination that include genetic, biological and environmental high-risk factors often not identified, or, dismissed as unimportant by doctors and other vaccine providers.26

Research27 showing an increase in death following receipt of inactivated vaccines. Aluminum adjuvants might be a factor, but it appears inactivated vaccines may also program your immune system in a way that decreases your body's ability to fight off disease later. To learn more about this, please follow the hyperlink provided.

The gut-brain axis, and the compelling synergy between compromised gut flora and autism, where vaccines can act as a trigger. To learn more, please see the hyperlinks, as I've written about this on previous occasions.

The association between autism increases and the introduction of vaccines using human fetal cell lines and retroviral contaminants.28

The potential for DNA fragments in vaccines to produce an exaggerated and potentially fatal immune response.29

What Do Statistics Suggest About Vaccine Safety?

Barring large-scale studies comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated populations, general health statistics can give us an inkling as to how well the U.S. vaccination program protects our children's health, and it doesn't look promising. 

  • One in 6 children today has a developmental disability,30 which includes ADD/ADHD, autism, hearing loss, learning disabilities, mental and behavior disorders and seizures, which have been associated with vaccine side effects.
  • Fifty-four percent of children have a diagnosed chronic illness,31,32 including anxiety, asthma, behavioral problems, bone and muscle disorders, chronic ear infections, depression, diabetes, food and/or environmental allergies and epilepsy.

This list again mirrors brain and immune system dysfunction that has been reported following vaccination. The rise in prevalence of these chronic diseases among children and young adults parallels the rise in the numbers of required vaccines, yet promoters of mandatory vaccination insist that these illnesses are in no way associated with vaccinations.

In his book, "Miller's Review of Critical Vaccine Studies," Neil Z. Miller also provides eye-opening information about vaccine safety. He downloaded the entire vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) database and created a program to extract all reports involving infants. In all, the reports of 38,000 infants who experienced an adverse reaction following the receipt of one or more vaccines were extracted.

Another program was then created that was able to determine the number of vaccines each infant had received before suffering an adverse reaction.

Next, reports were stratified by the number of vaccines (anywhere from one to eight) the infants had received simultaneously before the reaction took place. They specifically homed in on serious adverse reactions requiring hospitalization or that led to death. Here's what he found:

  • Infants who received three vaccines simultaneously were statistically and significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die after receiving their vaccines than children who received two vaccines at the same time
  • Infants who received four vaccines simultaneously were statistically and significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die than children who received three or two vaccines, and so on all the way up to eight vaccines
  • Children who received eight vaccines simultaneously were "off-the-charts" statistically in that they were significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die after receiving those vaccines
  • Children who received vaccines at an earlier age were significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die than children who receive those vaccines at a later age

Why We Must Protect Vaccine Exemptions

All of these facts are why we simply must protect the legal right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to vaccination and to obtain vaccine exemptions in the U.S. We must have the right to choose, which includes the right to refuse one or more vaccines for ourselves or our children if we determine the risks are too great.

Make sure you take action to protect and expand the legal right to make voluntary vaccine decisions in your state by signing up to use the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Moreover, when an individual experiences a deterioration in health after vaccination, doctors need to understand the danger of giving more vaccinations until or unless the vaccine can be conclusively exonerated as a causative or contributing factor to that health deterioration.

Physicians who recommend and administer vaccines to people, particularly to vulnerable infants and children, need to apply the precautionary principle of "first do no harm." This is critically important when the foundation of science supporting the safety of any given vaccine, alone or in combination, for any given individual is so weak — and in some cases, based on outright fraud.

If you haven't watched "Vaxxed" yet, I hope you will take the time to view it now, while you can watch it for free.

As an exclusive offer, Mercola readers will receive 15 percent off the single "Vaxxed" DVD by entering the discount code MERCOLA15 at checkout. Want to share the important information in this film with friends and family? "Vaxxed" 10-packs are now available! To receive free worldwide shipping on the "Vaxxed" 10-pack, enter MERCOLA10PACK at checkout. CLICK HERE to purchase the single DVD or 10-pack of Vaxxed.




Moringa Tea May Help Boost Energy and Promote Wellness


Moringa oleifera may have been unfamiliar to some Americans until recently, but it's actually been used as a traditional herbal medicine for centuries. In fact, it's been mentioned in the Annals of Ayurvedic Medicine, one of the world's oldest medical systems, as a cure for over 300 diseases.1

One of the ways to harness the benefits of Moringa is by steeping its leaves in hot water to create an energizing tea that provides a wide array of nutrients. Continue reading this article to learn more about the benefits of Moringa tea, its nutritional profile and the ways you can make it at home.

What Is Moringa Tea?

Moringa tea comes from the leaves of Moringa oleifera, a tree that's native to the sub-Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but is now commonly grown in various tropical and subtropical areas around the world.2

Also known as "horseradish tree" and "drumstick tree," Moringa has been dubbed as a "miracle tree" because of its potential medicinal properties. It also earned the superfood status, thanks to its extensive nutritional content, which you may still obtain even after brewing its leaves into tea. Some of these nutrients include:3

Vitamin B6

Iron

Potassium

Vitamin C

Riboflavin

Protein

Vitamin A

Calcium

Flavonoids (such as quercetin and kaempferol)

To make Moringa tea, the freshly harvested leaves are dried at room temperature to retain their valuable nutrients before they're crushed, powdered or shredded into loose pieces.4 These loose Moringa leaves may be steeped as is or placed into tea bags. In terms of flavor, pure Moringa leaf tea is said to have a slightly "green" or earthy taste, though it lacks the bitterness of kale or spiciness of arugula.5,6

Here Are the Many Health Benefits of Moringa Tea

The health benefits of Moringa oleifera tea are attributed to its rich nutritional profile. A lot of these benefits are not just backed by traditional beliefs, but also are supported by scientific research. To get a better idea of what Moringa tea is good for, check out some of its potential health benefits below:

Helps fight against free radicals — Moringa is an excellent source of antioxidants,7 including vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin8 and chlorogenic acid — all of which may help fight the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.9

Helps improve your gastrointestinal health — Moringa has antibacterial properties,10 which may help improve your gut flora and ease bacteria-related digestive problems, such as gastritis and ulcer.11

Helps regulate your blood sugar levels — Studies show that eating 50 grams of Moringa leaves may help lower blood sugar levels of diabetics by up to 21 percent.12

Helps reduce inflammation — The flavonoids, phenolic acids and isothiocyanates that you can get from Moringa tea are found to be helpful in alleviating inflammation, which can be a precursor to chronic diseases.13

Helps reduce the effects of arsenic toxicity — According to animal studies, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Moringa may help prevent the health risks caused by long-term exposure to arsenic, a powerful carcinogen that can be obtained from contaminated water and foods.14,15

Helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system — According to MindBodyGreen, Moringa powder may help improve your cardiovascular health, as it assists in curbing plaque formation in the arteries, reducing cholesterol levels and regulating blood lipids.16,17

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, Moringa tea may also help maintain proper liver function,18 and may even boost brain function,19 which can be beneficial against Alzheimer's disease.20

Moringa Tea's Caffeine Content

One of the known benefits of Moringa tea is its ability to give you a natural boost of energy, just like coffee. But unlike coffee, Moringa tea does not contain any caffeine. It owes its energy-boosting effects to its combination of nutrients, particularly its coenzymes. One of these is NADH, which comes from niacin from B vitamins and is involved in the cells' energy production.

NADH helps improves brain, heart and muscle function. It has cognitive benefits as well as components that help improve your senses and concentration.21 If you're sensitive to caffeine, you'll be pleased to know that you can enjoy Moringa tea without putting yourself at risk of caffeine-related side effects, such as insomnia, jitteriness and anxiety.

How to Make Moringa Tea From Scratch

Moringa teas are available in groceries, but you can also make one on your own if you already have access to a Moringa tree. The process is fairly simple, although harvesting the leaves from the stem can be time-consuming.

When making tea, you may either steep the fresh Moringa leaves in hot water or dry them up so you can use them for later when you're recreating different Moringa tea recipes. If you prefer the latter, follow these steps from Wonder How To:22

  1. Gather three to four stalks of Moringa. Choose the stalks with mature leaves, as they tend to dry up faster.
  2. Air-dry the leaves (including the stalks) at room temperature for a day or until the leaves are crisp. Air-drying allows the leaves to fall out, making it easier for you to separate the stalks later. You may also include the stalk in your tea for additional fiber.
  3. Grind the air-dried leaves for 10 to 15 seconds using a blender.
  4. Place the ground Moringa leaves in tea bags before steeping them in hot water. You may also steep the loose leaves as is.

Give This Soothing Moringa Tea Recipe a Try

Now that you know how to make your own Moringa tea at home, you should try out this health-giving and comforting recipe from Fitlife:23

Moringa Tea With Turmeric Recipe

Ingredients

Procedure

  1. Combine the water, ginger and turmeric in a pot. Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to simmer for one hour.
  2. Add in the Moringa leaves, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the tea through a strainer, leaving only the liquid.
  4. Squeeze fresh lemon in the tea and add honey to taste.

How to Store Your Moringa Tea Properly

To prolong the shelf life of Moringa tea, make sure that you store the tea bags in a cool, dry place. Be careful not to leave them open in moist places. If you have loose Moringa tea leaves, store them in an airtight glass container.24

Side Effects Associated With Moringa Tea

While Moringa oleifera tea is generally considered safe for consumption, it may still cause rare side effects, especially if consumed in excessive quantities. According to Organic Facts, some of these effects include:25

Studies also suggest that Moringa may have antifertility and abortifacient properties. Pregnant women should consult a physician before drinking Moringa tea, even though it's believed to help increase breastmilk production.26

Make Sure That Your Moringa Tea Is Really Organic

Many Moringa products today claim to be organic, but lab tests show that some actually contain pesticides and heavy metals,27 which may compromise your health if ingested. To avoid these health risks, double check the source of your Moringa tea. Make sure that you only buy from trusted organic brands or, better yet, make your own Moringa tea using homegrown ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Moringa Tea

Q: How much Moringa tea can I take in a day?

A: There is currently no set recommendation regarding how much Moringa tea is OK to take per day.

Q: What does Moringa tea taste like?

A: Moringa tea has a mild earthy taste.28,29

Q: Is Moringa tea good for you?

A: Yes, Moringa tea is great for your overall health. It contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that work together to help lower your blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, fight free radicals and prevent the effects of arsenic toxicity.

Q: Where can you buy Moringa tea?

A: You can buy Moringa tea from groceries or health food stores. Make sure that you only buy products from trustworthy organic brands.




How to Grow Flax for Seeds and Fiber


By Dr. Mercola

Flax (Linum usitatissimum1) is among the most ancient of superfoods, with a history of use spanning over 10,000 years. Remains of flaxseed have been found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland, and in Egypt, where the ancient Egyptians used it in the manufacture of linen. Flax reached the U.S. in the 1800s with the arrival of European settlers.

Flax can be grown for a nutritional seed harvest, and its fiber is used in the making of linen. The plant grows to about 3 feet tall and has narrow, pale green leaves and small blue flowers.

Once the flower drops off, a seedpod forms in its place. Each seedpod contains anywhere from four to 10 seeds. According to Mother Earth Living,2 a small 4-foot-square plot of flax can provide enough seeds “for a batch of bread” and enough fiber to fashion a small basket.

Growing Basics

Thanks to its adaptability, flax can be grown in most parts of the U.S. Ideally, select a plot that gets plenty of sun with fertile, well-draining soil. Flax grows best in cooler weather, so early spring, once the risk of frost has passed, is an ideal time to start your planting.

You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of flaxseed per 10 square feet. The seeds are small, so the easiest way to sow them is to mix them with a small amount of flour, which helps separate them. Scatter the seeds across the surface of the plot, then use a rake to gently mix them into the top half-inch of the soil.

Water gently and keep the soil moist but not soaked until the seeds have germinated, which takes about 10 days. Once they’ve germinated, the plants tend to develop a robust root system and require less frequent watering. The plant matures to a height of about 3 feet. Adding a nitrogen-rich amendment to your soil can boost seed yield; otherwise, fertilizer is generally not needed.

Aside from L. usitatissimum, several other species of flax are also available. For example, perennial flax (L. perenne) grows to a height of just 1 to 2 feet and is hardy in zones 5 to 9. The cultivar “Alba” produces white flowers instead of blue. Golden flax (L. flavum), which is native to Europe, grows to be about 1.5 feet tall and has yellow flowers. It fares best in zone 5.

Will You Harvest Fiber, Seed or Both?

While flax provides you with more than one harvest opportunity, you will need to decide whether you’re going to harvest seeds or the fiber, as the highest quality fiber is obtained before the seeds form. Alternatively, you can settle for a coarser fiber, which will allow you to harvest seeds as well. Mother Earth Living explains:3

“If you wait until the seeds are ripe (about four months after planting), the fiber has become coarse. This difference in the timing of harvest is a major reason why commercial flax farmers produce either fiber or seeds but not both. Again, a hobby grower can compromise.

The fiber from mature plants is too coarse for weaving fine fabrics, but it’s acceptable for making baskets or other simple craft projects. To reap both seeds and fiber, harvest the flax about four months after planting. The leaves on the lower half or two-thirds of the stem will be turning yellow and dropping off.

Most of the seedpods will have turned gold or tan; if you shake them, the seeds will rattle inside. Grasp the stems, a handful at a time, right at ground level and pull them up, roots and all.

Shake the soil off the roots, lay a few handfuls of stems together side by side, and use rubber bands or string to secure them into a bundle. Hang the bundles in a warm place with good air circulation. After a few weeks, when the stalks are stiff and dry, you can thresh out the seeds.”

How to Thresh Flaxseed

To get the seeds out you have to crush the seedpods open, a process known as threshing. While simple, it requires a bit of physical effort. Take a bundle of flax stems you collected and place them in a fabric bag. An old pillowcase will do fine.

Tie the opening shut around the stems and place the bag on a flat surface that will not be damaged by some pounding. Using a block of wood, rock or rubber mallet, beat the pods through the bag. Other strategies include using a rolling pin, or stomping on the bag with a hard-soled shoe.

Once the pods have been crushed open, shake the bag to loosen the seeds, then pour the contents into a bowl. When all the bundles have been threshed, it’s time to sift the seeds from the chaff. A coarse strainer or colander can be helpful.

How to Process Flax Fiber

While processing your own flax fiber can be a rewarding experience, it’s a rather complex, strenuous task and requires some investment in specialized tools. Your climate can also significantly influence the outcome, which is why flax for linen production is grown in areas with a wetter fall climate. Writing for Mother Earth Living, Rita Buchanan, a weaver and spinner, explains the basics:4

“The fibers in the stem of the flax plant form a thin layer between the woody core and the outer skin or epidermis that runs all the way from the roots to the tips. The fibers have already reached their full-length when the flax begins to flower, about two months after planting, but they are still thin, delicate and weak.

From flowering until the death of the plant, the fibers become increasingly thicker and stronger, but also more stiff and brittle … The first step, called retting, involves soaking or wetting the stems for a period of days or weeks to promote bacterial action, which separates the different layers of stem tissues and loosens the fibers.

After retting, the stems are dried again, then crushed between the wooden blades of a tool called a break or brake, which breaks the woody core into short bits that fall away from the mass of fibers.

Finally, the bundles are combed through metal-tined combs called hackles. The result: a smooth bundle of long, straight fibers called line flax and a pile of fluffy, tangled, shorter fibers called tow. The line flax is used to make crisp, glossy fabrics, and the tow is used for everyday goods.”

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

As with most plants, a number of insects and diseases can take their toll. To minimize the risk of plant disease, avoid growing flax in the same area for more than three years in a row. Also avoid growing flax in areas where you’ve previously grown potatoes or legumes to minimize the risk of the fungal disease Rhizoctonia solani. Following are some of the most common pests and plant diseases known to attack flax:5

  • Flax bollworm — The larvae of the flax bollworm moth feed on the flax flowers and seeds, effectively consuming your harvest. They look like small green inchworms with white stripes. Simply remove them from the plant wherever you find them.
  • Cutworms — True to their name, cutworms will eat the leaves of your plants. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants to prevent cutworms, and pick off any found on the plants.
  • Aphids — To dislodge aphids, spray the plants with a strong stream of water. Sticky traps can also be used, and soapy water.
  • Fusarium wilt — A type of soil fungus, fusarium wilt kills seedlings, and causes mature plants to yellow and wilt. Infected plants need to be uprooted and destroyed (do not compost). Unfortunately, the fungus remains in the soil, so do not plant flax (or other plants known to be affected by fusarium wilt) in the area for at least three years.
  • Powdery mildew — Another fungal disease, powdery mildew causes the plant to drop its leaves and impacts its ability to produce seeds. Once it gains a foothold, it’s difficult to stop it from spreading. To prevent it, avoid planting your flax in areas that don’t drain well, as the wetness encourages growth of the fungus.

Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseed is one of the best sources of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat. They also contain a diverse mixture of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E, K, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. All of these are essential to maintaining various functions in your body and supporting good health.

Flaxseed is also a rich source of lignans, a plant compound with antioxidant and estrogen-blocking properties that have been shown to lower your risk of cancer.6 What makes flaxseed great in this respect is that it contains anywhere from 75 to 800 times more lignans compared to other fruits and vegetables.7

In one study8 involving 6,000 female participants, those who consumed flaxseed were 18 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. In another study,9 15 men who ate 30 grams of flaxseed per day had reduced levels of prostate cancer biomarkers, suggesting a lower risk of prostate cancer.

One tablespoon of flaxseed also contains 3 grams of dietary fiber —both soluble (20 to 40 percent) and insoluble (60 to 80 percent). Soluble fiber helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut, while insoluble fiber helps maintain digestive health by binding water to your stools, allowing them to pass through your intestines quicker. This can help lower your risk of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.

How to Use Flaxseed

Flaxseed can add a nutritious boost to just about any meal. For example, you can:

Use flaxseed in place of breadcrumbs in various recipes

Add to smoothies for additional flavor and fiber

As garnish on salad

Add to hummus to modify the taste while adding extra nutrients

Use as an egg replacement for pudding dishes

Enhance the nutritional profile of your soups without changing the flavor

Pour ground flaxseed into your favorite sauces to make them thicker

Mix flaxseed into your yogurt to enhance the flavor and add more nutrients

Contraindications

For all of their benefits, there are instances in which flaxseed are best avoided.10 For example, there have been reports of allergic reactions to flaxseed and flaxseed oil, causing hives, itchy palms, eyes, nausea, vomiting and stomach ache.

Flaxseed can also lower your blood sugar levels to an alarming level, especially when it is mixed with diabetic medication, so be careful if you have diabetes or are prone to hypoglycemia. The high amount of fiber in flaxseed may also increase the frequency of your bowel movements, so be sure to limit your use of flaxseed until you know how they affect your digestion.




Add Some Drama to Your Garden With Ornamental Amaranth


By Dr. Mercola

Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to ensure access to fresh, chemical-free food. An annual National Gardening Survey1 finds the proportion of older gardeners is holding steady while younger individuals who enjoy gardening is reaching an all-time high. Container and landscape gardening are also setting new records.

Gardening provides a sensory experience and may help improve your mood.2 A study from the Netherlands suggests gardening may fight stress better than other leisure activities. A study from Norway found those who suffered from depression or bipolar disorder experienced measurable improvements after spending three months gardening six hours a week.3

There are an amazing number and variety of plants you may include in your backyard or container garden. Some plants serve several purposes, such as edible leaves and seeds and beautiful flowers. The amaranth is a wonderful example of a plant you might consider for your flower garden or vegetable garden, as it is an excellent option for either.

History of Amaranth

The Incas used amaranth grain as a prized health food, but you might find the flowers have great ornamental value in a sunny garden bed. Grain amaranth species have been important for several thousand years, and the largest known acreage was grown during the Aztec civilization in the 1400s.4

However, when Cortes and his army entered the Aztec capital they found amaranth was more than mere food. It was used in ceremonial and religious events. Cortes was bent on eliminating pagan rituals, and so ordered fields of amaranth to be burned and strict punishment enforced, including death, for those possessing the grain.5

During the past two centuries, grain amaranth has been grown throughout Mexico, Central America, India, China and Eastern Africa. There is a movement to revive amaranth as a staple crop in Mexico as it has high nutritional value and is able to withstand high temperatures. Although not actually a grain, its nutritional composition is so similar it's often included with cereal grains.6

The plants are usually bright gold, purple or red and retain their color even after harvest and drying. Research in the U.S. by agronomists began in the 1970s in order to adapt varieties to U.S. climate. Today, a few thousand acres are commercially grown in America, increasing slightly each year since the 1980s.7

Gardeners adding amaranth to their fields today know after one season the plant often returns and sprouts up in other places. The amaranth plant can send thousands of seeds from one parent plant,8 which easily sprout in fertile soil.

Add Color, Flair and Nutrition to Your Garden

The amaranth family has nearly 60 different varieties.9 Some are grown and harvested for food, while others are weeds. The name “love-lies-bleeding” describes one of the ornamental plants, but is only one variety in the Amaranthus genus.

Other varieties, including “fountain plant” or “Joseph’s coat,” are found in ornamental gardens. A load of tassel-shaped flowers either droop or remain erect are usual in the ornamental plant, which may also have edible leaves and seeds. The flowers are often red, but varieties include orange, yellow and green.

The leaves of the plant may be as decorative as the flowers. Some varieties have bronze or purple foliage ranging in height from 20 inches to 5 feet or more. The taller variety should be planted at the back of a border or alongside other tall annual plants. As many varieties of amaranth have edible leaves and seeds, it's a natural choice for an ornamental vegetable garden.

Another name for a variety of amaranth is pigweed,10 an annual green leafy vegetable that may show up in your garden uninvited. It has served to trap leaf miners and other pests and will shelter ground beetles that prey upon insect pests. Many garden centers carry one or two different types of amaranth, but others may offer several colors and varieties, including:11

  • Hot Biscuits — Multiple orange upright plumes
  • Early Splendor — Purple leaves and vivid red flowers.
  • Elephant Head — Unusually dense flower clusters, narrowing to one trunk-like flower.
  • Love Lies Bleeding — Deep red flowers on a five-foot tall plant
  • Green Tails — A trailing type of amaranth doing well in containers or hanging baskets

Growing Healthy Amaranth Plants for a Full Harvest

The seeds of the amaranth plant are very small so it is important your seed bed is filled with fine firm soil.12 As demonstrated in the video, consider using 30 percent perlite,13 30 percent compost and 30 percent peat moss to start your seedlings. Sow a handful in a pot and water the soil lightly, being sure you don’t drown the seeds.

Although the seeds can be planted directly into your flower garden, starting the seedlings in a pot allows you to plant the flowers spaced approximately 10 inches apart after the seedlings have emerged from the soil. It may take up to two weeks for the new plants to have two to four leaves and be ready to be transplanted.

You can easily pull seedlings from the pot and plant them in a raised bed, in your flower garden or in another pot. The plants appreciate plenty of organic material, but don't otherwise require fertilization. Optimally, they appreciate well-drained soil to reduce the risk of fungus.

Amaranth prefers warm weather and is susceptible to frost.14 When starting your seeds outdoors, be sure the soil has begun to warm and the chance of frost is over. Amaranth plants are very drought tolerant, and while they don't like excessive irrigation, they appreciate consistent watering.15

The biggest pest affecting the plant are deer. They often browse the foliage and eat the seeds as readily as any other vegetable. Unfortunately, they're only deterred by fencing.16 Other pests such as cutworms, aphids and leaf miners may also damage the leaves. An effective method of controlling them is to cover the bed with a fine screen or nylon mesh netting.17

Harvesting Leaves and Seeds

When growing plants to harvest the leaves, in your vegetable garden, you may start to harvest 40 days after planting. However, if your intent is growing for the seeds and the flowers in an ornamental garden, you'll want to wait until the end of the growing season.

As shown in the video above, after 40 days you can clip the top of the plant and additional stems will appear on each side, making the plant bushier and lower to the ground. The plant will continue to grow until the first hard frost hits.

You can begin to harvest seeds several weeks before the first frost, usually three months after planting. The simplest way to determine if seeds are ready is to gently shake or rub the flower heads between your hands. When the seeds easily fall out, it's an indication they are ready for harvest.

If you see small birds gathered around the plants, it’s likely they are eating seeds — another indication they are ready for harvest. Once ready, the easiest way to gather seed outside is to bend the plant over a bowl and rub the seed head between your hands.18 This is best done in dry weather and when wearing gloves to protect your hands.

Another option is to cut the flower heads and hang the plants upside down to dry indoors. Some find the seeds naturally fall out of the flower head, dropping to a receptacle you have below the plant. However, others find the plants may become extremely brittle, and it is then difficult to separate the seed from the chaff when dried inside.

If you are removing the seeds after drying indoors, remember to wear gloves to protect your hands. There are several ways to separate the seeds from the seed heads, including placing the seed heads between two pieces of cloth and stepping on them without shoes or placing the seed heads inside a paper bag and beating them together.19

Storing Seeds for the Winter Months

Once harvested, the leaves will last in your refrigerator about as long as spinach does. The seed may be stored in an airtight glass container so you can use the grain throughout the winter months. If you didn't grow your own, amaranth seeds are available year-round, but the leaves are seasonal. Harvesting seeds is labor intensive, so if you're purchasing from a market it will be relatively expensive.

Some manufacturers grind the grain into flour, which has more protein than most other flowers and higher in the amino acid lysine. The flower has a light peppery taste and is favored in savory breads.

If you're purchasing at the store, the seed should be well wrapped in airtight packages. Like most other seeds, amaranth contain some fat and is best stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from going rancid.20

Remarkable Nutrition Packed in the Leaves and Seeds of Amaranth

Technically not a grain but a seed,21 amaranth is gluten-free and pale ivory with up to 17 percent protein. It is high in lysine, an essential amino acid normally low in cereal crops.

The protein content found in amaranth grain is comparable to milk, but more easily digested. The primary proteins are albumin and globulins, which, in comparison with the prolamins in wheat, are more soluble and digestible.

The grain is high in fiber and has been associated with a reduction in cholesterol in laboratory animals. The grain is also higher in minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and carotenoids, than most vegetables.

One cup contains 15 milligrams (mg) of iron and 18 mg of fiber; 105 percent of the daily value per serving of manganese is found in the seed. Amaranth is also the only grain with documented vitamin C content.22

Cooking the Seeds for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Once cooked with water, amaranth has a slightly nutty flavor and a porridge consistency. However, it can also be roasted, popped, boiled or added to other dishes, which makes it a versatile, nutrition-packed item in your pantry.23

To use it as breakfast cereal, cook to a porridge-like consistency using a ratio of 1 1/2 cups of liquid to a one-half cup of amaranth seed. Bring the liquid and amaranth to a boil, reduce and simmer uncovered until the water is absorbed. If it's overcooked, it may become gummy and congeal, so serve it immediately. Consider adding nuts, cinnamon or berries.

It might be cooked with other grains, such as brown rice. Made this way, it does not become as sticky but adds a nutty sweetness to the dish. Use a ratio of one-fourth cup of amaranth to three-fourths cup of another grain. A couple of tablespoons may also be added to soups and stews as a power-packed thickener.

Like corn seeds, amaranth may be popped or puffed.24 You want to prevent steam build up and use a dry pot, so don’t put a lid on it. Unfortunately, some seeds may jump out while cooking so it's a good idea to watch the seeds and protect your eyes from an errant seed.

Try using a high-sided pot to prevent too many seeds from shooting out. It's also important to find the perfect temperature on your stove so the seeds don't burn. If the pot is too hot or not hot enough they will burn but not pop.25 You may have to throw out the first batch or two until you get it right.

Shake the pot often to get the seeds moving to the hotspots of the pot and to help them pop evenly without the pop ones getting burned. Preheat your pot in order to prevent burning the seeds. Popped amaranth can be eaten as is or added to homemade granola, granola bars and salads.26

Easy Amaranth Recipes

You may find incorporating amaranth into your diet challenging if you don’t enjoy porridge-style breakfast cereal. However, the recipes below are sure to tempt your palate and may help spark creativity in your kitchen.

Mexican Ranchero Amaranth Stew courtesy of Making Thyme for Health27

Ingredients

  • 1 cup amaranth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 diced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 diced bell peppers
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne to your taste
  • 15 ounces soaked black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 juiced lime
  • 2 avocados

Procedure

  1. Rinse your amaranth seeds using a fine sieve so you don’t lose any. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the next three ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and seasonings (cumin, chili powder and cayenne) stirring together.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and the tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes so that it thickens slightly.
  4. Add the amaranth and continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Add the black beans, chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime and stir together.
  5. Cook until everything is heated. Serve garnished with avocado and chopped cilantro.

Tabbouleh-Style Amaranth Salad courtesy of Yummly28

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked whole-grain amaranth
  • 2 cups diced unpeeled English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Procedure

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups cold water and amaranth to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is almost absorbed (it will have the appearance of mush).
  2. While amaranth cooks, combine cucumber and the next 11 ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Place amaranth in a sieve, and rinse under cold running water until room temperature; drain well, pressing with the back of a spoon.
  4. Add to cucumber mixture; toss to blend. Add cheese; toss gently. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.

 
     
 

 
     
 

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