My former traditional dentist friend weighs in about MERCURY FILLINGS

toothpasteDear readers, it’s been a while since I posted on my research about the exciting, burgeoning field of “biological dentistry.” A couple of years ago I wrote fairly extensively about my own dental saga (thanks to the first 30 years of my life eating a LOT of sugar, and doing lots of toxic dental work needing to be replaced).

I have been fascinated by Dr. Michelle Jorgenson’s conversion from traditional dentistry to “biological dentistry.” Today I was in her office and saw her employees reading articles she required, on how to treat dental problems as part of the whole organism’s overall health. Very exciting! Because she lives near me and has shown her education in, and commitment to, holistic dentistry, she is now my family dentist.

I think you’ll find this very interesting, Dr. Jorgenson’s story, and her thoughts on mercury fillings and the state of modern dentistry:

Best-Michelle-e1378620930582
Dr. Michelle Jorgenson

My name is Dr. Michelle Jorgensen, and I am a second generation dentist.  My father is a dentist, and knew I wanted to be just like him. He is an avid runner and has been extremely healthy his entire career, and that’s what I thought all dentists were like.  When I started to have nagging health issues about 15 years into my practice, I didn’t think it had anything to do with dentistry. Food sensitivities, numbness in my right hand and arm, forgetting things, my nose constantly plugged, difficulty breathing…what in the world could all of these things be from?

Gloomy days started and I thought about leaving my practice.  I emailed a colleague about my issues, and he said my email reminded him of himself 10 years earlier.  He suspected mercury toxicity. I was shocked. I had not placed a mercury filling for over 15 years. He asked if I removed mercury fillings in my practice.  Every day I do!  That was the beginning of my journey to become a biological dentist.

Mercury + Silver = Amalgam

Let’s step back.   The first mercury dental filling material was made in France in 1816.  A Frenchman mixed mercury with shavings from silver coins.  It formed a soft paste that could easily be packed into a hole in the tooth, and shaped before it turned hard.  This was brought to the US in 1830 and was an instant success.  This new filling material was inexpensive, easy to use, lasted a long time, and sealed the tooth fairly well.  It became popular very quickly.

That first filling material was 50% mercury (the liquid shiny stuff in thermometers) and 50% silver.   When I told a friend, who was a successful professional, about my health problems from mercury, he looked confused. “There is mercury in silver fillings?! They don’t put mercury in, anymore, do they?” I’m afraid so – in fact, 50% of those “silver” fillings today and 150 years ago, are mercury.

mad hatterMad Hatters

When this material was introduced, barber/dentists did much of the dental work, and they loved these new fillings. They were easy to place and they could make money on them.  The few  doctors that did dentistry were not so excited about it.  They knew the symptoms of mercury exposure from watching hat makers. The hat makers would use mercury to turn fur into felt.  After repeated exposure to this mercury, the hat makers started showing bizarre behavior.  This is where the term “mad hatter” comes from – the mercury quite literally was making them mad!

The doctors were concerned that mercury was being placed into teeth. but the barbers didn’t care.  They were making money on these easy fillings.  Mercury/silver fillings were here to stay.

Toxic Material

That is the background to dental mercury fillings, and they are still being used today in nearly 50% of dental offices in the US. Science and medicine has since confirmed that mercury is a poison to our system.  Why are dentists still placing these fillings?  Recently, I talked to a dentist who graduated from dental school 4 years ago.  I explained my concerns about my patients and myself  breathing in mercury vapors as I remove old mercury fillings.  He said he’s never heard anything about it.  He didn’t know it could be a problem for patients or dentists.  He graduated FOUR years ago. This is not new information. It’s obvious the dental community at large doesn’t even understand the problem.

Controversy

The safety of mercury fillings continues to be a very controversial subject.  For your information, here are some undisputed facts:

Mercury is the most neuro-toxic, non-radioactive element on the planet.  It is more neurotoxic than arsenic or lead.
Dental researchers now concede that mercury vapor is released from unstimulated amalgam fillings 24 hours a day.
Chewing, brushing, temperature increases and clenching/grinding have been shown to release mercury vapor.
The FDA and the American Dental Association promote amalgam fillings as standard of care dentistry.  Dentists who place amalgam fillings do so in good faith, believing in the efficacy, safety, cost-effectiveness, and longevity of amalgams.
Sweden, Austria, Denmark, and Norway have all banned amalgam fillings.

metal fillingsSo…  Do mercury fillings affect your health?  STUDIES SUPPORT BOTH SIDES OF THE CONTROVERSY.  You must do your own research and decide what is best for you. When existing amalgam fillings are still functioning, it must be your personal choice to have them replaced with other materials, either for health reasons or if you want your teeth to look better.

Fix What’s Broken

Even if you choose  not to have them removed for health reasons, mercury fillings aren’t a permanent fix for a tooth.  They have an average life-span of 8-12 years.  How long have you had your old fillings? You most likely will need to have them replaced, and you need to know how to keep yourself safe when you do.

I was a “mercury-free” dentist for 14 years.  Now I am a “mercury-safe” dentist.  There is a difference. The greatest exposure to mercury comes when the old filling is drilled out.  Safe procedures can reduce exposure by up to 90%.

What are those procedures?  There are 10 that are generally regarded as the standard to be mercury safe.

1. Keeping it cool–to reduce mercury release,  a lot of water is used to keep the filling cool.

2. Rocks, not pebbles–the filling is cut into large chunks, which reduces the amount of drilling.

3. Get it all out–the vacuum must be very strong and placed as close to the tooth as possible.

4. To breathe or not to breathe–avoid breathing through your mouth during the procedure.

5. Dam it – a rubber dam won’t keep vapors out, but it will keep particles out of your mouth.

6. Clean up, clean up–everything in the area and around the area should be rinsed very well.

7. Big vacuum–a very large vacuum is placed right below the chin.

8. Ions are friends – An ionizer traps any mercury still left in the air.

9. Rinse and spit–after the procedure,  rinse very well, even gargle in the back, and spit.

10. After the fact–removing mercury fillings ,even in a safe way, will always produce a temporary increase in a person’s exposure to mercury.  Make sure all of your routes of elimination are clear and ready to do their job.

total dental careI am now using all of the mercury safe procedures in my office, and things have started to look up for my health.  I don’t know if that was the main source of my health problems or not, but I don’t want to risk becoming a “mad dentist”!   I’m staying safe, and keeping my patients safe from now on!  For more information, look up biological dental information at www.totalcaredental.com.

–Dr. Michelle Jorgenson’s practice, Total Care Dental, is in American Fork, Utah

Robyn’s answer to a famous doctor’s anti-green-smoothie claim

green smoothiestraw berries (1)Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic is a hero of mine. Former President Bill Clinton cites Dr. Esselstyn, a proponent of a plant-based diet as a solution to cardiac problems, as one of his inspirations to go vegetarian. As you know, President Clinton was triple-bypass survivor who gave up fried foods and hamburgers to “never eat anything with a mother.”

Although I don’t specifically advocate for vegetarianism, I’m supportive of Dr. Esselstyn’s plant-based diet, and none of my recipes in my own 14 books have meat in them. It’s not that I don’t think you can be very healthy eating an entirely plant-based diet. I also think you can be healthy eating reasonable amounts of organic, free range, or wild caught animal flesh. The reason my recipes don’t have animals in them is that you already know how to eat meat—I don’t need to provide you those recipes, because you already have them. We have no lack of knowledge about how to prepare meat, in our culture. My goal is to help you eat more plants—easily, inexpensively, and deliciously.

Dr. Esselstyn argues that green smoothies should be avoided, because their fiber is pureed, destroying helpful properties.

In my research published in The Green Smoothies Diet, one of the top 3 health benefits my 175 participants reported, is improved digestion. We defined that as soft, formed stool, and increased throughput. I cannot find any evidence that fiber is “destroyed” just because we blend it. With all due respect to Dr. Esselstyn—he and I are on the same team, teaching people whole plant foods!—green smoothies are a fantastic way, in a fast-food world, to massively increase consumption of greens, and plant foods in general. I’ve found that while most people won’t sit and plod their way through a plate of kale, chard, and collard greens, they will almost always drink a green smoothie.

Esselstyn also says that fructose in the fruit contributes to inflammation and hypertension.

green-smoothies-diet-book-720x720On the contrary, lots of evidence, including numbers from many GSG Detox participants (we’ve had several thousand since August, 2013) are that inflammation and hypertension often decrease by eating high-fiber, raw plant foods, rather than the many animal foods and processed foods dominating the Standard American Diet.

I just read all of the questionnaires from the past month of people completing the Detox, and one included a participant’s blood pressure dropping into beautiful normal numbers and his cardiologist taking him off meds, after only a week on the Detox. He remains in the low-normal range after completing the program. (While this is an interesting story, it is not intended as advice, so please seek competent medical advice for your own health concerns. Getting off meds should be supervised by a doctor.)

Victoria Boutenko’s research published in Green for Life, with 30 people who started drinking a quart of green smoothie daily, showed that blood pressure decreased and inflammation did, too. Perhaps Dr. Esselstyn’s claim is related to eating concentrated fructose and other sugars (like in corn syrup and agave), rather than the whole fruit, with fiber and micro-nutrients, accompanied by lots of greens in the smoothies I teach.

I calculated how much fiber is in a quart of green smoothie, and it’s about 12 grams. That’s more than the average American eats in a whole day!

Of course, if you make a fruit smoothie with a handful of greens thrown in, that’s not what I call a green smoothie. I agree with Dr. Esselstyn that fruits should be minimized. I don’t agree that fruits need to be eliminated (perhaps except for some Type 1 diabetics or very rare conditions).

I like my smoothies to be REALLY GREEN. I’m not drinking them for entertainment, after all—I’m drinking them for the health benefits. I also love to put a scoop of GreenSmoothieGirl protein, and also our TriOmega (it’s back!)–sprouted broccoli, chia, and flax seed, for their high essential fatty acid content.

shutterstock_216030343Lots of folks have major jaw and dental problems in North America and Europe, after several generations of eating so much processed food. (Prehistoric man had a wide, strong palate and teeth that could grind up nuts, greens, berries, and meat easily.) With these challenges, a pre-masticated green smoothie may be just the ticket. I love Dr. Esselstyn’s work, but I stand by my premise:

A quart of green smoothie a day increases micro-nutrients in the diet by 700% compared to the average American. And that’s almost categorically a good thing.

See my YouTube video HERE for more about the Great Green Smoothie Debate.

Science compared every diet. The winner? Real food!

shutterstock_194081942Dr. David Katz and Dr. Stephanie Meller, at Yale University, completed a survey of the published research on diet over the past decade. The primary finding, surveying thousands of studies?

“A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

Score one for my mission. This is what we teach. Eat plants, unprocessed ones!

The study compared low carb, low-fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, vegan, and many other diets.

Fewer cancers and less heart disease are documented in thousands of published studies. The most effective diets included not just fruits and vegetables, but whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Some other interesting findings:

Katz and Meller found “no decisive evidence” that low-fat diets are better than diets high in healthful fats, like the Mediterranean! Those fats include a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than the typical American diet.

shutterstock_212666641Finally, about the very popular fad, the “Paleo Diet”, Katz and Meller wrote:

“If Paleolithic eating is loosely interpreted to mean a diet based mostly on meat, no meaningful interpretation of health effects is possible.” They note that the composition of most meat in today’s food supply is not similar to that of mammoth meat, and that most plants available during the Stone Age are today extinct. [In other words, GSG interpretation, it’s not even possible to “follow” the diet Paleolithic man ate!]

Dr. Katz says, of the “dieting” landscape in the popular media:

shutterstock_136284278“It’s not just linguistic…I really at times feel like crying, when I think about that we’re paying for ignorance with human lives. At times, I hate the people with alphabet soup after their names who are promising the moon and the stars with certainty. I hate knowing that the next person is already rubbing his or her hands together with the next fad to make it on the bestseller list.”

Another GSG teaching confirmed by the Yale study:

Exaggerated emphasis on a single nutrient or food is inadvisable. The result, Katz and Meller write, is constant confusion and doubt. My conclusion, instead, is to just eat a wide variety of whole, colorful, unprocessed plant foods. Greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Energy drinks, to “get through the day?”

danger-energy-drinksI have been researching energy drinks—a fairly new phenomenon, but exploding in popularity, especially among young people. The Millennials and Gen Y (actually, all young people in all generations) are generally ill-educated about health and nutrition and also unmotivated by risks. 30 years from now, they’ll be saying what we are:

“Ah, I wish I wasn’t so stupid when I was a kid.” (Indulging in excesses of junk food, sun, alcohol, filling cavities with metals, and just generally being blithe about our choices. Once my mother left an article on my pillow about skin cancer resulting from sunburns, and she said, “When you’re 40, you’re going to be sorry you did all that sunbathing!” I thought, “Who cares? When I’m 40 I’ll be OLD and I won’t care how I look!” Ah, the bitter laughter, every time I share that story with friends. Who knew that at 40, we care as much about our appearance as we did at 20? For the record, let me say: I wish I’d listened to my mom.)

I recently asked on my blog, how many of you drink a stimulant to get going in the morning, or to get through the day? The results are not necessarily representative of America, because my readers are likely healthier than most, plus they’re reporting with their name and photo, so statistically less likely to be honest.

(However, the guy who said he drinks Jagermeister to get going in the morning has been discarded rather than included in results. We did try to get a meaningful statistic.)

But the results are that 71% of 211 GSG readers responding on FB admit to anywhere from 1 to 6 caffeinated beverages daily, to deal with energy deficits. Amazing! Let’s talk about soda, and energy drinks, how they compare, and what the antidote is, how to get off them forever.

What percentage of Americans drink soda regularly?

A Gallup poll in 2012 revealed that 48 percent of Americans drink soda daily! More young adults than others—56 percent of those 18 to 34 admit to a regular soda habit.

energy drinks side eWhat are the dangers of energy drinks?

Medical literature shows a limited number of cases of caffeine-associated deaths, as well as seizures from drinking energy drinks. A few reports include cardiac arrest and death in young, healthy people from drinking energy drinks.

Drinking caffeine leads to caffeine-withdrawal headaches. Even changing the amount you drink can cause frequent headaches. I always warn those doing the GSG Detox: caffeine comes out hard! Those who drink caffeinated soda and coffee almost always have headaches.

That’s toxicity leaving via the neurological system.

Australian research based on calls to their poison center shows these symptoms of people drinking energy drinks:

Heart palpitations / tachycardia, tremors / shaking, agitation / restlessness, gastrointestinal upset, chest pain, dizziness, tingling or numbing of the skin, insomnia, respiratory distress, and headache.

One of the scariest things to me about energy drinks is that 11-year olds are buying them. The marketers have made it very trendy and cool to walk around with Monster or Red Bull drinks, which have as much caffeine as 1, 2, or even 3 cups of coffee—or 4 or more colas. You can’t always tell the total effect by the milligrams of caffeine on the label, because other stimulants on the label, such as guarana and ginseng, which have a compounded effect. Plus there are 13 teaspoons of sugar in a 16-oz. can.

Worse, they are being marketed as a calorie burner and a workout enhancer. (Certainly you can work out harder if you’re flying high on a stimulant.) Athletes using energy drinks to fuel a workout can experience dehydration, due to the diuretic effect.

For reference points, a can of Coke has 34 mg of caffeine, and Mountain Dew has 55 mg. An energy drink has 75 to 200 mg per serving.

But what about kids who drink two of them in a row? (An 18-year old died during a basketball game after drinking 2 Red Bulls, reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings last November.)

So little is known about theenergy-drink-mixed-with-alcohol-trigger-alcohol-related-problems long-term effects of drinking these drinks packed with sugar or chemical sweeteners, chemicals, and caffeine. Watchdog groups worry about the effect on heart health, diabetes rates, and more.

There’s a trend towards young people mixing energy drinks with alcohol, an upper and a downer, with frightening results. In fact, some companies have followed this trend, and made drinks to oblige, such as Joose, a doubly toxic whammy with both caffeine and alcohol.

Drinking caffeine with alcohol causes a person who is intoxicated to feel like they aren’t, since tiredness is one of the signs you’ve had too much to drink. Research shows those who combine caffeine and alcohol drink more and have higher blood alcohol content. The hangover is worse, since both alcohol and caffeine cause dehydration and increase toxicity. It creates a serious problem for people with an underlying heart problem–and many cardiovascular problems are undiagnosed until a cardiac event occurs. Younger and younger people are being diagnosed with cardiac issues.

What’s a better approach to low energy?

Eating nutrient dense foods is. Getting them throughout the day, the crux of every meal and snack. A green smoothie daily is a good start, but it isn’t enough. I like raw vegetable/green juicing. But most people won’t do that. It’s very time-consuming. I also like our whole-food drink mixes for an easy, nutrient-dense addition to your day.  And our plant-based, organic protein powder gives you staying power. It’s a great addition to water, a green smoothie, or our drink mixes.

 

 

 

More about whether wheat / gluten are really the Devil

wheatdevil
True or False?

I got a lot of mail about my newsletter on whether it’s appropriate to vilify all grains, and all gluten. Thanks for the feedback and personal experiences you shared!

That original newsletter about whether we should really stop eating grains, is on my blog, HERE. Feel free to share your thoughts.

A couple of the biggest reasons I resist the idea that all grains are bad are these:

  1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! Many grains don’t even contain gluten, and haven’t been hybridized. In Africa, millet, faro, and amaranth are staples. They’re available in North America, too, they’re inexpensive, they store well, and they’re easy and quick to prepare.
  1. If you don’t eat grains, you virtually have to eat meat. People usually eat one or the other. It’s hard to get enough calories without any grains, or any animal flesh. (Forget about the protein obsession. It’s a myth that you need to eat animals to get protein. And virtually no one is protein deficient–many eat far too much protein, though. The World Health Organization states that 5 percent protein in the diet is ideal, and the average vegetarian gets double that amount. Greens are low in calories, but very high in protein.)

And if you eat meat, you have a whole host of other problems. If you eat grass-fed, free range, or wild caught, you’re at much lower risk of eating steroids, hormones, heavy metals, and other toxins. But meat eaters virtually never eat all clean meats. First of all, they virtually never serve grass-fed or free range in 99+ percent of restaurants. Generally, people who eat animal flesh at home eat it in restaurants, too. Second, hardly anyone can afford clean meat all the time. And conventional meat should not be eaten, period.

Meat vs. GrainsMeat lovers don’t realize that most of their meats are grain fed. Americans are addicted to grain-fed animals (the meat is tender when fed grains, not to mention cheaper to raise). If the animal was fed conventional grains, then you have most of the same health risks as if you ate the conventional, hybridized, sprayed grains!

So, what’s your choice here?

Eating grains still costs 10 percent what eating grass fed, organic animal products do. (I’m trying not to go off on a tangent about the REAL cost of raising animals for human food—if government price supports were removed, your chicken and beef would cost $20/pound! I believe price supports collapsing is a matter of when, not if.

So, when we vilify major food classes, what’s left to eat?

And, what’s worse, eating a lot of meat? Or eating lot of grain?

My simple answer is.

Eating meat is worse. Not all meat, and I’m not opposed to it categorically, nor am a vigilante vegan. But because eating clean meat is virtually impossible if you EVER eat out. Because of the heavy impact on the environment of meat-eating. Because if it’s really clean meat, you won’t like it–the beef is tough! (I do think that organic butter, eggs, and small amounts of clean animal products, especially fermented dairy like kefir or sour cream, can be part of a very healthy diet).

Because eating gluten-free is a lot easier. Because grains are ubiquitous, cheap, and raising them is easy on the environment.

You can store grain against an emergency, but not meat. (Sure, you can freeze it, but what if the power goes out?) Your hand-crank grain grinder and any emergency cook-stove or even the sun can make very nutritious sprouted-grain breads.

That said, there are some issues with grains, besides hybridized glutens that assault your digestive system and your immune system. If you feel like delving deeper into the controversies, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers here, just sharing more theories and information with you, here are a few things to consider:

Jordin RubinOne, Jordin Rubin and a number of other experts say you shouldn’t eat any stored grain, because it molds. I do think wheat and other grains stored in silos can be problematic. I avoid corn, soy, and most wheat (except organic, sprouted–and preferably ancient grains like Einkorn, spelt, Kamut). They are the most hybridized, the most genetically modified, and the most stored in huge quantities for long periods of times in silos. If you can find a local small farmer growing ancient grains organically, support that effort and buy grains from these safe sources.

Secondly, I also think there is an issue with diets high in many grains causing sulfur deficiencies in humans. You can read a thorough discussion of this by Mercola, interviewing Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT about this.

(You’ll get far more than you bargained for, reading this report or watching the interview–about how dangerous the sugar-rich American diet is, and how devastating statin drugs are!) The bottom line is that it may be a good idea to take MSM (a natural, organic sulfur), and soak in baths with Epsom salts. This is very helpful for those with arthritis or other joint issues.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff
Dr. Stephanie Seneff

Dr. Seneff backs the Weston A. Price Foundation, saying that butter and some foods high in fat (full-fat cultured dairy products) are good for you. (You can get sulfur from one of my favorite foods, though, too–coconut oil! Also Brussels sprouts, kale, asparagus, and legumes!)

Read more HERE about MIT’s Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s discussion of sugars, grains, sulfur, drug approaches to cholesterol, and more.

Feel free to share your own experience about eating grains, gluten intolerance, or anything else useful to GSG readers. The original “gluten theory” blog is HERE.

 

 

The truth about fish oil and essential fatty acids.

sprouted flax
Coming soon, New Packaging!

One of my favorite, very simple solutions, for covering hard-to-find nutrition bases, is our SPROUTED FLAX. Why? Because people desperately need essential fatty acids (EFA’s), EVERY DAY, from their food. To avoid heart disease, neurological problems, and anxiety and depression.

And Americans aren’t getting adequate levels of EFA’s. 80 percent of us are deficient in Omega 3’s! And Americans have been duped into believing that FISH OIL is a good means to that end.

Fish oil just isn’t an effective or health-promoting solution. I’ll share why in a minute.

But first, for the good news–you can get essential fatty acids easily, inexpensively, from nutrient-dense plant foods. I’m a fan of raw, live, plant-based whole foods being our nutritional answers. I just knocked $6 off the price of our sprouted, raw flax, through the end of the month only, while supplies last. That’s one-third off, the best deal we’ve ever had.

That’s the ONLY ingredient in the bag. No flow agents, preservatives, fillers, chemicals for “mouth feel” or clumping or other crazy stuff nearly every manufacturer puts in their food supplements.

It’s how I cover my essential fatty acids daily.  And our testing shows NO rancidity after two years. That’s because sprouting stabilizes Omega 3 fatty acids. When you sprout a nut, seed, or grain, you neutralize enzyme inhibitors and unlock the nutrition inside that food!

sprout flaxMost flax grown in American soil is poor quality, feed grade, and often it’s rancid before it is milled. Most flax is processed at high-speed, involving high heats—which causes that seed’s oils to become rancid. Companies who sell MILLED flaxseed recommend refrigeration because they don’t want to expose that their product is so low quality, that it is rancid already or will be very soon. Most flax products are not high quality so that the manufacturer can save money. And I won’t offer them to my readers.

Our flaxseed is very high quality and nutrient dense and organic. It is sprouted (germinated), causing fiber to double, and vitamins and minerals to increase in bio-availability by 200 to 900 percent! Do not refrigerate it (which would alter the flavor)—just keep it sealed in your dark pantry or cupboard.

I like to put a scoop in my quart of green smoothie every day. Not only is this giving you heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, but the nutrients in greens are absorbed at a higher rate when good fats are in the same meal.

So what’s so bad about fish oil, as a source of Omegas? First of all, most of the world’s fish, despite what marketers tell you, contain dangerous amounts of heavy metals due to pollution of our waterways. Second, while a billion-dollar industry has convinced our doctors to prescribe fish oil for heart health, we’ve devastated many ecosystems harvesting fish that are needed only for their oil.

fish oil fishiesThird, by the time the fish is harvested, the oil is manufactured, and it is put through the distribution channels, the oil is 6-12 months old when you consume it. By definition, it is rancid. So fish oil manufacturers have learned to mask the rancidity of their oils by deodorizing and “purifying” (refining) the oils. That doesn’t decrease its rancidity–it only makes the rancidity less noticeable for you, eating the fish oil pill!

And finally, perhaps most importantly, consuming $1 billion of fish oil pills has done nothing for our cardiovascular health. Which was the whole point in the first place. Don’t take my word for this—Google “meta study” and “fish oil” to see what the meta-studies, covering hundreds of published research studies, have to say about the net effect of 30 years of Americans eating rancid fish oil pills. It isn’t pretty. What a tragedy that billions of fish died needlessly for some manufacturers to make products that help no one–and may even lead to increased rates of prostate cancer.

NA flaxLet’s get quality essential fatty acids from real foods. Best if it’s superior-grade, 99%+ sproutable, nutrient dense flax from North America–sprouted, and dehydrated below 100 degrees to retain nutrition. You’re also getting a lot of fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals, in addition to the essential fatty acids–and for $6 off through May only!

I hope this is a helpful tip for you to take your green smoothie habit to an even higher level!

 

 

Sugar is worse than just “empty calories” and tooth decay

sugar danger

An interesting study you’re not likely to ever hear about came out of my own alma mater, the University of Utah, and THIS article was published in the Tribune:

James Ruff and professor Wayne Potts stand inside a semi natural mouse enclosure at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City
James Ruff and professor Wayne Potts stand inside a semi natural mouse enclosure at the University of Utah

Many mothers let their children eat loads of sugary food, thinking that it’s okay because their kid is thin, and they’ll make him brush his teeth twice a day. It turns out that sugar is harmful in so many more ways than dental decay and “empty calories.” The researchers at the University of Utah found that, with the amount of added sugar many Americans eat, female mice died at twice the rate, and male mice exhibit abnormal behavior and don’t reproduce.

The senior author of the study says that the mortality rate of eating the S.A.D. is the equivalent of having your parents be first cousins.

WHAT DOES GSG THINK ABOUT THE PALEO DIET? part 1 of 2

paleo dietDear GreenSmoothieGirl: Will you blog on what is wrong with the Paleo diet? We have Crossfit fanatics all around us and they are pushing it. It would be nice to have something I could print off and refer to it. I know it’s bad, but I can’t explain why. The Crossfit teachers say they have empirical data to back up this style of eating for health.  –Marianne

Answer: I’d love to answer this!

paleo cave manThe Paleo Diet is a fad. It’s also known as the “caveman diet,” and it is an iteration of what the D’Adamos made a fortune on, the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet. Both are grounded in the idea that you should eat what your ancestors ate. That’s the “empirical evidence” they refer to. However, you can find some clear evidence that debunks the false or tenuous links to Paleo being a solid nutritional program.

Let’s cover some main points.

Nutrition

Nutritionally speaking, if I’m trying to say something fair and balanced here, Paleo is better than the Atkins Diet, which may be the worst massively popular diet in history. (Unlimited bacon and eggs—enough said!) In theory at least, Paleo is a little better than the low-carb Atkins Me-Too diets, like South Beach and Zone. Those guys saw Atkins making millions, so they jumped in the stream, before the low-carb decade burned out. As all fads do.

Paleo is better than the decade of suffering through the “low-fat” insanity many of us grew up with, too, which radically changed the food supply for the worse and introduced many more manipulated, unnatural foods still being manufactured and sold to an unsuspecting public. Paleo is about the same, health-wise, as the totally ridiculous and easily discredited Eat Right for Your Blood Type, Dr. Mercola’s typing diet, and many others.

paleo what to eatThe Good and The Bad

Good things about the Paleo diet: very low salt, high vegetable consumption, and elimination of processed foods, hybridized grains, refined oils, fatty meats, and dairy products.

Hang on, though. Bad things include too-low consumption of high energy (carbohydrate) foods, eliminating even good grains and legumes. Another issue is the heavy load on the body of eating so many animal products. This causes higher cancer risk, kidney stones and osteoporosis, and draining the body of calcium to buffer pH due to such high acidity.

Trying to eat “Paleo” is extremely expensive. Worse, it may not even be duplicatable in the modern age (given the way meat products are manipulated in our marketplace) without massive off-the-grid effort.

Negative Evidence

The most clear empirical evidence AGAINST Paleo may be this:

In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked 20 diets based on health, weight loss, and how easy the diet is to follow. The Paleo diet ranked dead last, by the panel of 22 experts. The following year, 2012, 25 diets were ranked and Paleo tied for last place. Why? The experts “took issue with the diet on every measure.”

paleo meat pileTheir Evidence

Those who advocate for this diet say that indigenous peoples who follow this diet have no disease. The diet is a lot of lean, simply prepared meats, and wild vegetables. A LOT of meat. No grains. Low carbohydrate.

That’s the “empirical evidence” they’re referring to, that Paleolithic man had no cancer, heart disease, or auto-immune disease. While it’s true that Paleolithic man had no cancer or heart disease, dig a little deeper with your thinking, and remember:  CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.

The problem is, other scientists have explained, that there are OTHER factors from the Paleolithic era that may explain much better why there was no degenerative disease.

A Modern View

caveman foodFor instance, low caloric intake, no processed foods, no chemicals in environment or water or dental materials, short average lifespans, and many other factors surely have some impact. Some of the experts who have reviewed the diet point to the disease risks of following this diet attempting to use foods available to us in the modern age, as well as flawed logic related to evolutionary theory.

The experts who review and criticize the Paleo diet say that the five studies on health implications of Paleo are too short, with a sample size too small, to be conclusive.

It may be true that the Paleo diet will lead to more muscle mass and less fat. (Almost any diet will that improves on the Standard American Diet – which isn’t hard to do.) But the diet that many Americans are doing under the “Paleo” banner isn’t at all the same as what cavemen ate. To the extent you can come even close to approximating what cavemen ate, which is difficult, nigh unto impossible, the diet is almost obscenely expensive, to the point that is simply unsustainable by most people.

So Paleo followers, therefore, default to a diet they THINK is clean and simple, but which actually may have quite a few deadly meat-processing chemicals like nitrites and nitrates, plus toxic sodium chloride and more. You have to be very serious about your diet, and very educated, to avoid those things, within the food groups Paleo tells you to eat.

My biggest general issue beyond the health implications, with the Paleo Diet, is that it’s utterly unsustainable, eating incredibly high on the food chain and taking more than your fair share of the Earth’s resources. One pound of beef costs 1,000 gallons of water and 20 lbs. of plant food, to produce! And no one could afford it, without government supports.

Because to do Paleo, you have to buy lots of organic, free range poultry, beef, fish and other animal carcasses.

(My event manager who travels with me is always saying to stop using provocative language. What I meant is, Paleo wants you eating a lot of dead animal bodies.)

Seriously now. (I’m not even a vegetarian. I just like to talk like one. And be one 95%+ of the time.)

paleo environment 1Politics

My real point is, if government price supports were removed for meat and dairy, NO gallon of milk would cost less than $10, and NO chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or fish that is clean enough to eat would cost less than $20/lb.

Very frankly, it is a matter of time before those government supports collapse under their own weight! There are any number of economic “bubbles” very ripe for bursting, whose consequences will include the collapse of government price supports.

Most recently, at the beginning of 2013, we were within 24 hours of going off the “fiscal cliff,” before Congress pumped more air into our national fiscal flat tire. One of the common predictions for consequences of that event was that meat and dairy prices would skyrocket. It’s a temporary fix, for Congress to “save” us from the fiscal cliff. We have been headed towards disaster for a very long time, and our burgeoning debt and price supports cannot last forever.

A Modern Solution

You might as well learn NOW, before we’re economically forced to, to eat lower on the food chain. To eat foods that are inexpensive even without price supports. Greens, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

My next post will finish the Paleo topic talking about its ban on grain, its heavy limitation on fruit, and why we are not biologically adapted to eat as much meat as Paleo demands.

Natural Infertility Treatments, part 2 of 2

Iva King
Dr. Iva Keene

This is my interview with Dr. Iva Keene. She’s a Fertility Specialist and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. Find her on Facebook as “Natural Fertility,” and see her website natural-fertility-prescription.com. Please point your friends suffering with infertility to my last blog post (as well as this one). Last time I posted the flier on the upcoming Fertility Retreat at Sanoviv in Mexico, where I will be for a few days, and Dr. Keene will be instructing.

GSG:  What do you think of the current medical model for fertility? Twenty years ago, it was testing, drug approaches to hyper-ovulation or Lupron for manipulating hormones, IVF, lots of surgeries. It was a nightmare for me personally. Has it gotten better?

DR. KEENE: While I think the testing, procedures and drugs have improved somewhat, the general approach to treating infertility hasn’t changed significantly. It’s still focused on the reproductive system alone. The treatment aim is to jump over the problem, force a conception and then hope the pregnancy will be successful.

While in some cases, like severely blocked fallopian tubes, retrograde ejaculation, or missing Vas Deferens, the medical model is the only option available, my experience has been that most cases of infertility respond better to a holistic approach.

PCOS, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriages, irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and sperm abnormalities are all symptoms of some other imbalance in the body, which usually affects multiple systems such as the endocrine system, the immune system, liver and the digestive system.

fertile questionOur reproductive system is not crucial for our body’s survival. As such, in terms of the body’s priorities it is last on the list when it comes to nutrient and energy distribution. The heart, lungs, brain, kidneys etc are more important for your survival because if one of those organs had a problem, your life would be at stake.

Infertility should always first be treated holistically and IVF, ICSI etc. be reserved as the last options once the natural approaches have been exhausted and everything has been done to bring the body into equilibrium. Not only does this holistic approach reduce the need for those technologies, but it also increases their chances of success if they have to be used.

For this reason, I don’t see our approach as an alternative to IVF, ICSI etc., but rather as complementary to them.

GSG:  Do “standard of care” infertility treatments cause permanent or debilitating side effects?

DR. KEENE:  They can. This will very much depend on the treatment used, the individual, their underlying health and the number of times the treatment was used in close succession. In rare cases, some women develop life threatening conditions such as Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome.

Some studies suggest that repeated use of fertility drugs predisposes women to breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Unfortunately, many of my patients come to me once they’ve been through multiple IVF treatments. And because most clinics urge patients not to waste any time, the treatments are used repeatedly, sometimes for a year or longer.

Some of the more immediate side effects I’ve observed in some of my clients are hormone irregularities, irregular cycles, shorter cycles, cysts, thyroid problems, weight gain and mood disorders.

GSG:  What kind of natural treatments for infertility are effective?

circle and bloomDR KEENE: The approach I use has been shown to have an over 80% success rate when used for a minimum of 4 months and maximum of 2 years. The effective treatments focus on identifying systemic imbalances and correcting those with dietary and lifestyle changes as well as supplementing with nutrients that have been shown to be effective.

This treatment approach also relies on tests for toxicities and immune imbalances, as the two are linked, and when the immune system is out of balance, pregnancy is much harder to achieve. Acupuncture is also a great adjunct therapy to this approach, as are mind-body programs like those produced by Circle and Bloom.

GSG:  What book or resources should a couple read who are struggling with infertility?

DR. KEENE: We recommend Circle and Bloom mind/body programs in conjunction with our Natural Fertility Prescription program which is a step-by-step system explaining in great detail what practical steps a couple should take over a period of 120 days to maximize their chances of getting pregnant naturally. In addition to our core Natural Fertility Prescription (NFP) program, we also offer protocols specifically designed to address egg and sperm health issue as well as a program for IVF preparation to help couples who have decided on that path.

GSG:  Does diet influence fertility? What about consumption of animal flesh and milk that has hormones in it, if it’s not organic? What kind of diet do you recommend for couples wishing to conceive, and deliver a healthy baby?

DR. KEENE:  Diet is very important for fertility! Both organic and non-organic animal food products will have the hormones from the animal in them. One of the largest studies conducted on women, the Nurse’s Health Study by Harvard, with 17,544 participants over eight years, found that women who ate more plant proteins rather than animal proteins had better fertility overall and fewer problems with ovulation and infertility due to anovulation.

milk infertilityMilk, strictly speaking, is the breast milk of another species. And while you’ll find lots of information on the nutritional benefits of raw unpasteurized milk, the three main issues with milk for fertility are as follows:

  1. Milk is mucous producing and can predispose to blocked fallopian tubes.
  2. Milk is loaded with estrogen as cows are milked during their second trimester of pregnancy. In someone who already has estrogen dominance, like women with fibroids, polyps, endometriosis and PCOS, milk is only making the problem worse. Similarly, milk and all dairy products contain insulin growth factor, which is great for the young of the species as it helps them grow big and strong. In adult humans, it only makes us fat, predisposes us to acne, and in women with PCOS, where insulin resistance is already present, dairy only makes the condition worse.
  3. A very large portion of the population is lactose intolerant. We stop producing the enzyme lactase at the age of two, needed for breakdown of the main sugar molecule in dairy, lactose. If you are intolerant to dairy but keep eating it anyway on a regular basis, you are not only damaging your digestive system and preventing nutrients from being absorbed, but you are also setting up your immune system to become overly aggressive and predispose to miscarriage and ‘unexplained infertility’.

So while raw dairy products may be a source of nutrition for some people, like those who want to build muscle and who are not intolerant to lactose, it’s not a good idea for those wanting to get pregnant, and those who already have weight issues or hormonal imbalances.

This applies to both men and women, since in men, excess estrogen causes testosterone to be converted to estrogen, which negatively impacts sperm quality and quantity.

foods for fertilityOur fertility diet essentially focuses on fresh vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans, green smoothies, fresh fruit, wild fish and some lean protein from grass-fed animal sources for those who don’t wish to give up meat. And we emphasize the food being as fresh as possible and organic where possible. Eggs and meat should be grass-fed, organic and free range. Hormones, oocytes and sperm need good quality fats and protein. And this is the main focus of this diet, as well as providing high levels of vitamins, minerals, other nutrients, and fiber from plant sources. Fiber helps mop up excess estrogen and environmental toxins from the diet before those toxins get a chance to absorb into our bloodstream.

GSG:  You’ve said that the greatest gift you can give your baby is robust health, and this starts with the quality of the sperm and eggs at conception. How does one achieve healthy sperm and eggs?

fertility eggDR. KEENE:  Women are born with all their eggs. In fact, the eggs are older than the woman! However these egg cells are not mature. They are in their primordial form. From the onset of puberty, every 120 days, 5-6 of those primordial egg cells will be selected for maturation. At the end of this cycle, 1-2 of the best formed eggs will be selected for ovulation.

And while it’s true that you are born with a finite number of eggs, it’s not true that the quality of the eggs you ovulate each month can’t be made better or worse depending on your dietary and lifestyle choices. The Natural Fertility Prescription (NFP) program and the Egg Health program focus on providing your eggs with all the nutrients which have been shown to improve egg quality as well as removing/minimizing exposure to all the toxins shown to negatively impact your egg quality and hormone balance.

Similarly with sperm, men produce new batches of sperm approximately every 90 days. So it’s possible to improve the quality and quantity of the sperm in as little as 3 months, providing there are no congenital anatomical malformations or genetic abnormalities present, which are rare and do not apply to majority of men. We also created a Sperm Health program, which can be used in conjunction with the NFP program for improving sperm health.

Even if a couple have no fertility issues, we advise everyone planning children to prepare for pregnancy at least 120 days before conception. This ensures that you are conceiving with the best quality eggs and sperm, which means you are passing on the best of your genetic material to your child.

GSG:  What’s the best and worst part of your job as a naturopathic physician working with infertility?

body intelligenceDR. KEENE:  What I love the most about my work is empowering people and educating them about how their bodies work, how everything is interrelated, and showing them how a seemingly harmless dietary or lifestyle habit or nutrient deficiency can have wide-reaching effects over time.

I have great respect for, and am in awe of, the inherent intelligence and perfection of our human body. Trillions of cells working 24/7 enable us to have the life experience we enjoy. Our body is the most intelligent pharmacy in the world, and it is programmed to strive for balance and health. Which it will achieve, given all the right elements and an environment to thrive.

Once the mechanics of this wonder machine are understood, most of my clients are full of vigor again and ready to try for a baby again. Their faith in their bodies is restored and they feel much more empowered about their fertility. And this is key. After many failed fertility treatments, people often start to doubt themselves and their bodies because they are told by the medical profession that their eggs are old, their sperm is no good, they are too old, or their bodies are in some way ‘broken’.

And while it may be true that the body is currently in a state of imbalance, that does not mean one should give up on it, give up hope. It does not mean that the issues cannot be resolved and fertility restored without medical intervention. Instead, the traditional drug and procedural methods used so far should be questioned and doubted, because these methods are not providing the body with what it needs to fix itself! It’s not drugs or doctors who ‘cure’ the body—it’s the body itself that repairs itself when given the right materials to do so.

What I find most frustrating is the misinformation which is often propagated by the mainstream infertility treatment approach. Namely, that time is running out already at age 37, that the egg and sperm quality can’t be improved, and that if your AMH is low you should opt for donor eggs immediately.

These misconceptions and ‘fear tactics’ cause so much stress and despair, which is unnecessary, not to mention counter-productive to any fertility treatment. And while it’s true that fertility will decline with age and the risks of miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities are higher, if dietary and lifestyle factors are ignored and nutritional deficiencies remain unaddressed, the fact is that most of these factors can be addressed.

fertility loveIf they properly prepare for pregnancy, it is possible for women in their mid- to late-forties to have healthy pregnancies with their own eggs and give birth to healthy children.

GSG:  Dr. Keene, I hope those who read this will have renewed hope. Like you, I believe in the miracle of the human body, and I marvel at its innate ability to correct imbalances. We need to get heavy metals, chemicals, and toxic foods out of its way. Thank God there are practitioners like you helping people get on the right track. Thank you very much for serving my readers with this information and encouragement!

DR. KEENE:  Thank you so much, Robyn, for the opportunity to share this information with your readers. I hope more couples will look to natural infertility treatments first after reading this interview. It would be a great pleasure to meet some in person at our upcoming fertility retreat at Sanoviv in Rosarito, Mexico.

Natural Infertility Treatments, part 1 of 2

infertility sucksAs I started blogging nearly 6 years ago, one of my first topics talked about my struggle for over 5 years with infertility, in my 20’s. In fact, my oldest son arrived after five courses of artificial insemination, and I was taking hyper-ovulation drugs too. (Bad idea—it made hormonal issues worse.)

So technically, my son was an immaculate conception. My husband was there at the hospital several hours before I showed up by myself, to deposit a “sample” for “spinning.” I then had an encounter with a turkey baster.

(They don’t really use a turkey baster. Kinda like that, though.)

IVFIt was a hellish five years, with a lot of roller-coaster ride (I was pregnant once during that time and miscarried, and thought I was pregnant, other times). Hopes dashed, hormones manipulated, expensive and invasive tests administered.  I cried almost every month I learned I would not be a mother. I withdrew from normal social activities because I didn’t want to be around the pregnant women and young mothers, who just reminded me of what I didn’t have.

Those five years did make me deeply grateful to be a mother, when it finally happened. Those five years gave me an advanced degree, a chance to travel in Europe, and a jump start on a career that would have never happened if things had happened the way I planned them. (And that education and career start would prove helpful later, when I became a single mother.)

As with many things in life, I’m glad that things didn’t go according to MY plan. I would have been a VERY young mother and would have, I believe, been chomping at the bit, later, to experience the life I didn’t have a chance to when I was young. This whole experience taught me to float in the stream a bit, rather than try TOO hard to force agendas.

I’m always glad when I remember that, and stop pushing sometimes when things just aren’t working. Maybe something better is just around the corner? Maybe the time isn’t right?

I miscarried my son’s twin. And endured a very difficult pregnancy. The delivery was terrible, 27 hours, and 2.5 hours of pushing, as the early morning of my second night of no sleep dawned. I was falling asleep between contractions. When I talk about being 206 lbs., that was the day I delivered Kincade. (I’d gained 62 lbs. during the pregnancy! And I started the pregnancy at a higher weight than I have been, the past 10 years.) I had massive edema, major blood sugar problems, and looked and felt awful.

When Kincade was a year old, I learned about the way our diet was impacting our health. Both of us were in terrible health, my baby and me, and my husband was overweight, too. After I radically changed our lifestyle, especially our diet, I got pregnant three more times, without intervention, and had easy, normal pregnancies where I gained much less weight.

Taking Charge fertilityI also had an ectopic pregnancy nine months after Kincade’s birth, before the lifestyle changes. It was discovered only when it ruptured and required emergency surgery to cut off an ovary. I had bled out half my blood supply at the time that this occurred, while I was in another state and did not have a blood donor. I spent weeks recovering enough to even stand up. I flew home to Utah after two weeks, pushed in a wheelchair onto the plane.

The removal of my right ovary likely reduced my fertility by half, in some ways. But I had three more healthy children AFTER that, without incident. I believe that providing my body appropriate fuel, consistently, allowed my body to heal and solve problems.

I did read a great book towards the end that I believe helped solved my problems. (None of the testing revealed what our fertility problem was.) It is called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH. I learned in her book to tune into the female body’s signals, mid-month, that fertility is highest. I learned that what the OB/GYN’s I had been working with were telling me was probably WHY I didn’t get pregnant for five years! They were having me take my temperature every morning. We were told to abstain until right when my temperature went up. At that time, though, I learned from this book, the window to get pregnant had just barely passed.

Ignoring what the drug-specialized OB/GYN’s had told me to do, for five years, and doing what Toni Wechsler taught me in that book, plus improving my health with diet, gave me three more beautiful healthy babies.

Sanoviv Clinic
Sanoviv Campus

I am speaking at Sanoviv, in Mexico just across the border from San Diego, in September at an infertility retreat there. The photos here are of the gorgeous Sanoviv campus. For more information about the retreat, see the flier below.

Dr. Iva Keene will be there as the specialist, and I interviewed her for this blog series. She’s a naturopathic physician and a specialist in natural treatments for infertility. My

Sunset over the pool at the Savinov campus
Sunset over the pool at the Sanoviv Campus

next post is my written interview with Dr. Keene that I hope will help others struggling to conceive, with ideas of interventions that don’t involve drugs and surgery, that help the body correct itself. I wish I had known more, when I was 22 years old and began infertility treatments for a problem that wasn’t likely a problem. I was just impatient (sought treatment after 6 months of “trying”), and suffering from years of eating a processed, chemical diet soaked with salt, sugar, MSG, and aspartame.

Link to the flier about the infertility retreat in September HERE.