Spectro-Chrome: Healing With Colored Light


30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

By Dr. Mercola

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to use colors as a way to make your life healthier? The truth is, you can. Dr. Alexander Wunsch, who is based in Germany, is a world-class expert in the use of light as a therapeutic healing agent, and is a human treasure trove of information on a topic that very few people understand.

In previous interviews, we've discussed the history of photobiology and how LED lighting can compromise your health. Here, our focus in on the therapeutic use of colored light, which Wunsch began experimenting with nearly 25 years ago.

"My first approach was colorpuncture from Peter Mandel. One evening, I met a friend of mine. I told him I would like to go deeper into the colorpuncture issue and learn more about that. He handed me a book by Darius Dinshah, 'Let There Be Light: Practical Manual for Spectro-Chrome Therapy' …

I thought this is really a fascinating color system. It's not only a color therapy method, it's also a beautiful color system — [the way] Dinshah arranged these 12 basic colors, how they compose the Spectro-Chrome color wheel is a pleasure by itself, because it's very symmetric and there's a very logical plan behind it. I started to evaluate this method on my own."

Why Chromotherapy Was Relegated to the Dustbin

As noted by Wunsch, who has studied the historical rise and fall of photobiology, in the 1920s, there was a strong push to weed out so-called "quackery" in medicine, although there was no evidence-based medicine to speak of as of yet.

All physically-based treatments were targeted for elimination, for the simple reason they were unwanted competition standing in the way of the burgeoning drug industry. In this crusade, the Spectro-Chrome method was one of the hundreds of targets of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"If you have a brave patient who takes the pills every day, he's a good customer … If you have a client who's treating himself with colored light, you might sell a lightbulb to him, but that's it," Wunsch says.

"There was a hype for blue light [in those] days. It was very popular. Light therapy, think of Kellogg, for example, was very popular. The medical experts in a way had problems with the spreading of these physically-based methods. It was more or less a logical step to [ban] the method …

Dinshah did one thing quite early in his chromotherapy career. He thought, 'OK. If the doctors aren't ready for the method, I will address all the knowledge I collected around the diligent use of colors to the laymen.' His motto was, 'Spectro-Chrome for every home.' This was his aim. He wanted to spread the word about the effects of colors so that everyone would know how to treat himself or herself by using colored light."

While there are well-documented health benefits associated with the red, near- mid- and far-infrared spectrum, the Spectro-Chrome method created by Dinshah focuses on the visible part of the light spectrum, on the rainbow and the extra-spectral colors.

Systemic and Local Use of Colored Light

You can implement colored light therapy either by shining light through a colored filter, or by wearing colored glasses, so that the light striking your retina is of a particular color frequency.

"You could say there is systemic use and local use of colored light. You would shine the light onto a body part, which can be the eye or the skin. There is a dermal application, and there is an ocular application. You can treat systemically, which means you are taking a light bath, covering the full body surface with the light, [or you can do] local treatments.

The ocular treatment is somehow in between the local and the systemic. You're treating only the eyes, which is locally defined, but the eyes are the window of the brain, the window of your vegetative system, so the treatment of the eyes is also a systemic treatment," Wunsch explains.

"In the 1930s, when the Spectro-Chrome method had been banned already, there was some kind of modification, which is called Syntonics Optometry. Syntonics optometrists used the colored light exclusively for the eye (learn more at collegeofsyntonicoptometry.com). They addressed also systemic disorders using this ocular pathway. As a basic principle in phototherapy, it does not matter what kind of technology you're using for the light source.

[What's] important is that you cover the wavelength band and that you reach certain intensity levels. Intensity levels are already something that is very close to modern phototherapy. Spectro-Chrome [produces] effects based on information, not intensity. This means you can use large, huge colored projectors, but you can also use the small little light [that] might have comparable effects."

Transpalpebral irradiation of the retina (for regeneration purposes) is performed through the closed eyelid

What Can You Treat With Colored Light?

The premiere textbook for Spectro-Chrome is "Let There Be Light," written by one of Dinshah's sons, Darius Dinshah, current president of the Dinshah Health Society. This book lists more than 320 different disorders that have been successfully treated with this method. Don't look for this on Amazon, the best place to get a copy is on Dinshahhealth.org.

Wunsch goes so far as to say he would not exclude any disorder from the potential treatment with colored light, because you can, at bare minimum, benefit from symptomatic treatment. That said, one concrete example includes the treatment of skin burns.

"[Dinshah] understood green as the central color … the color which balances all the different body functions, mental functions and partly also emotional functions. The colors with longer wavelengths compared to the green, he called the infragreen colors. The shorter wavelengths, he called the ultragreen colors …

[W]hen you think of the classical signs of inflammation … you have the reddening, the erythema, you have heat, the inflammation. You have too much inflammatory or flame effect, so to say. The tissue gets red. The tissue gets hot. The tissue is painfully altered. You have hampered function …

Too much of red, too much of heat gives you already the idea of which color to use. You would use the ultragreen color to compensate for the long wavelengths, which become apparent by reddening, fever or heat. An acute inflammation would be treated with ultragreen colors and vice versa.

The chronic inflammation or the chronic disorder should be treated by the infragreen colors. You're always aiming to reach the green after a certain while, because this is the balance. This is the middle between the extremes."

To Cool Heat (Red) Symptoms, Use Violet or Indigo

This is not to say that there's not a certain level of complexity involved. For example, you need to be cautious with ultraviolet (UV) rays and shorter wavelengths when you have a wound, as exposing wounds to sunlight can result in more severe scars. Wunsch explains:

"If you have inflammation … sometimes it comes along with an infection. Some germs, some bacteria, are aggravated or they benefit from shorter wavelengths. UV light can induce inflammatory reactions. We can tell this, for example, from the erythema caused by sunlight. This was one of Niels Ryberg Finsen's findings that short wavelength light acts as an inflammatory.

If you have too much heat and you want to cool it down, it's important to lower the activity of the metabolism. The metabolism is more or less represented by the activity of mitochondria. If you have an overactivity of mitochondria, then you would increase this over activity, probably, if you are using long wavelengths, because the long wavelengths definitely activate mitochondrial activity, metabolism and energy production, which we know from photobiomodulation.

So yes, you could treat a skin burn with a certain intensity of long wavelength light. This is not what Dinshah did [though]. For severe skin burn, which is induced by long wavelength, which is a thermal skin burn, he would use violet or indigo in the first phase.

The reason is when we talk about the thermal skin burn, we have blistering. We have excretion or secretion of liquid. We want to reduce these secretory activities. Here, the violet or the ultragreen colors in general are much better than the infragreen colors.

There comes a moment in the process of wound healing where we definitely need the longer wavelengths as well, where we start and compensate for the excessive heat, for the excessive infragreen. We compensate for that using the ultragreen colors.

Personally, I [had] the best experience using the indigo in the first step. If you treat a skin burn once or twice with indigo, you can even keep this injury from developing a blister … [I]f the blister does not fully form, it will hold and it will stay on the skin, even if it's thermally modified. It will stay as your own natural wound dressing for the first few days. This gives the deeper layers the time to regenerate and restore."

Practical Example: How to Treat a Burn With Colored Light

If you were to get a sunburn, or accidentally burn yourself on the stove or hot instrument, how exactly would you treat it using colored light? Wunsch recommends using a simple incandescent lamp equipped with an indigo filter. Post-surgical wounds also benefit from indigo.

If you're even the least bit handy, you can easily build your own Spectro-Chrome color projector. For a mere 50 cents, you can purchase step-by-step instructions1 to make a color projector with a 25- or 40-watt reflector lamp, some cardboard and glue from the Dinshah Health Society.

The book will also tell you exactly which filters you need to get to achieve the recommended Spectro-Chrome colors. Rosco and LEE are two companies making colored filters. This book is available on Dinshahhealth.org.

A drawback with these filters is that since they're made for theater lighting, they also transmit white light. In other words, they're not as saturated as the true, original Spectra-Chrome filters were. To achieve the required saturation, you'll need to combine two or more filters according to the recommendations of the Dinshah Health Society (detailed in "Let There Be Light").

As for the lamp, Wunsch builds his using a military angled flashlight, available from Amazon. They're specifically made for adding filters for signaling purposes. Once you've made your projector, simply shine the light onto the affected area.

"The first one, two or three days, depending on the reddishness, on the heat in the tissue, you start with Indigo and [then] switch over to blue … In the classical and original Spectro-Chrome method, you would treat for 30 to 60 minutes …

[A] 10th of a millimeter under the skin surface [is] the capillary layer. All the colors of the rainbow reach the capillary layer. They reach the bloodstream. This is one of the direct actions. If you shine colored light onto the surface of the skin, it will automatically come in contact or it will automatically reach the bloodstream.

This is the reason why Dinshah recommended treatment duration of 30 to 60 minutes. He wanted to make sure that your whole blood comes in contact with the treatment color several times during the treatment session … Personally, from my own experience, after five minutes of treatment of thermal skin burn, the pain turns into a kind of tickling discomfort.

When you remove the indigo light, after 10 minutes or so, this tickling discomfort disappears almost immediately. But as soon as you treat it again or tonate — tonation [means] the use of colored light — if you go on treating it and the tickle and discomfort reoccurs, there is still [more healing to be done] …

In my experience, as long as the tickling and discomfort reappears under the influence of the indigo light, you should go on with the treatment. I had a third and fourth degree skin burn on my wrist. I treated this for more than two hours. I was able to prevent it from blistering. It healed up within two weeks or so.

After two or three days, you can use the turquoise, the green and the Lemon. Depending on the progress of healing, you adjust the color which fits to the actual condition," Wunsch explains.

skin burn: Day 1
Skin Burn: Day 1
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Skin Burn: Day 2
skin burn: Day 3
Skin Burn: Day 3
skin burn: Day 4
Skin Burn: Day 4
skin burn: Day 5
Skin Burn: Day 5
skin burn: Day 6
Skin Burn: Day 6
skin burn: Day 7
Skin Burn: Day 7
skin burn: Day 8
Skin Burn: Day 8
skin burn: Day 9
Skin Burn: Day 9
skin burn: Day 10
Skin Burn: Day 10
skin burn: Day 11
Skin Burn: Day 11
skin burn: Day 12
Skin Burn: Day 12
skin burn: six years after
Skin Burn: Six Years After

How Color Affects Your Skin

Contrary to the application of ice, which will only act superficially, the indigo colored light will act on different layers of your skin. Superficially, the indigo light will reduce the inflammatory reaction. In the deeper layers, there will be photobiomodulatory active radiation as well, because when you use an incandescent lamp combined with an indigo filter, you will have:

  1. A basic field consisting of near-infrared radiation
  2. A controlling field, which consists of the color indigo (approximately 430 nanometers or nm), which addresses the reduction of the metabolic activity on the surface

Incandescent light is an analog full-spectrum source, and when you place a filter over it, the majority of the wavelength will be indigo. However, almost all older glass filters and modern gel or plastic filters allow infrared, especially near-infrared radiation, to pass through. Were the filter to excessively absorb heat, it would break or melt.

"The filters from the old technology, you always have a transmission in the long wavelength part of the spectrum as well," Wunsch says. "This, in a way, fits well to the principle of Fritz-Albert Popp, who said there is a supporting field in the long wavelength part and an information field in the visible and probably also in the UV part.

But for the Spectro-Chrome method, we use the information part in the visible section of the spectrum, and we use the supportive energy from the wavelengths we also know as being effective in the realm of the photobiomodulation."

Treating Low Back Pain With Colored Light

Another common ailment is back pain. Wunsch, who is trained in the Alexander Technique, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy and acupuncture, notes that the area where it hurts is not necessarily the specific site of the problem. In acupuncture, specific meridian points will help alleviate back pain, but you could actually use a laser light on these points instead of a needle. You can also use temperature or vibration or other physical stimuli.

"Normally, the Spectro-Chrome method uses the whole body tonation. There is a set of questions you can ask, and then you will get an idea how to treat it. Is the back pain acute or is it chronic? If it's acute, you would probably use the indigo, because indigo also relieves pain. An alternative would be violet or purple. These three colors are classical pain relievers.

If it's a chronic event, you would not necessarily treat the area of pain, but you would start with whole body tonation using lemon … As a standard, if we are talking about a chronic condition, the basic color, which is always part of the treatment regimen, is lemon."

Spectro-Chrome Glasses for Day and Nighttime Use

Another alternative is to use Spectro-Chrome glasses. Similar to a color bath, the glasses will provide systemic treatment, and they're a lot easier to use than setting up a room for full-body tonation, as you need to make sure the room is pitch-dark aside from the colored light, the temperature needs to be optimal since you must be naked or near-naked, and you need a projector and all of the necessary filters.

"The glasses resemble a kind of ultimate life hack, because you can just choose the best color for the moment or the situation out of the box … When we just imagine the colored world that surrounded us as early humans in the step in the Savannah, in the rainforest, in the river scape, the coast landscape, the desert, the mountains, all these settings are linked to certain colors, which are predominantly active in this scene.

The seasons, they add that color characteristics to the location and to the climate. Normally, our physical and mental body expects colors from our environment. When you are in a concrete desert and you look around, especially during the day when daylight is on, you would miss a lot of these colors. During the night, you will not have colors for longer periods of time …

I would not recommend for someone who is in a chronobiologically disordered situation to use the blue light or the blue glasses at nighttime … [T]here are colors that are recommended for the use during the daytime and other colors are recommended for the use during nighttime — those are the purple and magenta colors. Purple is the color which has the highest impact on sleep quality …

[P]urple activates bromine … [B]romine was used in former times … for sleep disorders. Magenta stimulates lithium and alleviates depression. It's the color addressing soul-associated disorders. Lithium salts are used for depression treatment in pharmacology as well. Instead of administering lithium, Dinshah would administer magenta. Magenta, purple, those are colors that should be used during the nighttime."

A Remarkable Success Story

A powerful testament to the effectiveness of color therapy comes from Wunsch's own family, on his wife's side. A male relative was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis at the age of 50. The university clinic gave him six months to live, telling him to go home and get his affairs in order. Using Dinshah's method, he exceeded this grim forecast by a factor of 72.

"He traveled from Germany to Dinshah's place [in Malaga] and learned all about the diligent use of the Spectro-Chrome method from Dinshah. He took a set of filters home and started to treat himself as you would treat a chronic condition, with lemon and red. Red is the color which addresses the liver. He was able to add another 36 years to his life."

Personally, I believe chromotherapy is a safe and powerful alternative healing strategy that nearly anyone can add to their self-healing toolbox. For $100 or so you can obtain all the information and supplies you need. Just like liposomal C, which I believe should be in every emergency kit to treat acute infections, a light with an indigo or violet filter is another must to radically accelerate burn healing.

Again, you'll want to get Dinshah's book, "Let There Be Light," from the Dinshah Health Society. (It's also available on Amazon, but you'll pay as much as five times the price.) Once you know which Spectro-Chrome colors you need, you can buy the required filters from Rosco or LEE and fashion a projector, either using Dinshah's inexpensive projector plans or an angle head military flashlight. Alternatively, invest in a set of Spectro-Chrome glasses, available from Innovative Eyewear.




Have a Sip of This Delicious and Healthy Chicken Soup Today


By Dr. Mercola

 

If you’re down with a cold or a fever, you’re likely to reach for a warm bowl of chicken soup. After all, chicken soup has been utilized as a potent home remedy for colds since the 12th century, making it a potentially effective (and delicious) practice to continue today.[i]

 

However, making homemade soup takes time  so, instead, people reach for packaged and processed soup that’s lackluster in flavor, contains artificial ingredients and additives and is packed in containers that may leach chemicals into the food.

 

Instead of putting yourself in harm’s way, make some of this Soothing Chicken Ginger Soup With Chayote and Moringa Leaves. This recipe takes chicken soup to the next level because it uses real, healthy and flavorful ingredients such as organic free-range chicken, ginger and colorful vegetables.

 

Ingredients:

 

1 whole organic free-range chicken, cut into serving size recipes

1 medium onion, diced

1 thumb-sized ginger, crushed and diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons of fish sauce

2 medium chayote, diced

1 cup fresh Moringa leaves, removed from stem

1 tablespoon of Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil

Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 cups of filtered water

 

Procedure:

 

1.       In a pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion until softened. Then add the garlic and ginger and stir until aromatic.

2.       Place the chicken in the pot and stir-fry until it has rendered its own fat, but do not allow the chicken to brown.

3.       Pour in the water and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.

4.       Add the chayote and continue to simmer until it softens. Adjust taste using salt as needed.

5.       Add the Moringa leaves and continue to simmer for about a minute and then remove from the heat.

 

Have a Sip of This Soothing Chicken Ginger Soup With Chayote and Moringa Leaves

 

Learning how to make chicken soup can pay off, as it’s a versatile recipe that you can customize to fit your needs. What makes this chicken soup special is the addition of Moringa leaves and chayote. Although these vegetables may be unfamiliar to some, the health benefits you can get from them deserve recognition.

 

Massive Benefits From Moringa Leaves

 

The tiny, deep-green leaves of the Moringa oleifeira tree, native to South Asia, have been used as part of traditional medicine for centuries. By adding Moringa leaves to dishes, you can allow your body to soak up benefits like:

 

·         Impressive nutritional and antioxidant content: Moringa contains high amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin A, protein and essential amino acids. The leaves are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, quercetin, chlorogenic acid and vitamin C. They are high in fiber as well, essentially working like a mop for your intestines by helping clean up excess grunge from an unhealthy diet.[ii]

 

·         Potential in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels: Moringa leaves have cholesterol-lowering properties. An animal study discovered that the effects were comparable to simvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug.[iii]

 

·         Capability in lowering blood sugar levels: Plant compounds in the leaves contribute to Moringa’s potential anti-diabetic effects.[iv] Results from two separate studies conducted on diabetes patients and women revealed that the subjects were able to reduce their fasting blood sugar levels.[v],[vi]

 

·         Protection against arsenic toxicity: Moringa seeds and leaves can provide a defense against possible effects of arsenic toxicity that may be caused by eating commonly contaminated staple foods like rice.[vii]

 

Moringa leaves are also antibacterial, mainly because of their isothiocyanate content. These compounds may assist in eliminating H. pylori bacteria, which is often linked to gastritis, ulcers and gastric cancer, from the body. Isothiocyanates, along with flavonoids and phenolic acids, also contribute to the anti-inflammatory capabilities of Moringa leaves, pods and seeds.

 

If you’re keen on adding Moringa leaves to your meals, buy your leaves from trusted websites online or at a farmers market near you. I don’t recommend planting your own Moringa tree in your backyard. Aside from the fact that it grows like a weed, harvesting the small leaves from the tree can be a time-consuming and tedious process.

 

Add These Vegetables for Vibrance and Flavor

 

While you have the freedom to add any and as many vegetables as you want to your chicken soup, give these a try today:

 

·         Chayote: The pear-shaped chayote imparts a mild and sweet flavor to any dish. Because it doesn’t have cholesterol and unhealthy fats, it’s a good option for people who wish to lose weight and control bad cholesterol levels.[viii]

 

Chayote contains dietary fiber, antioxidants, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, copper and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C. If you’re pregnant, consider eating more chayote, as its high folate content assists with preventing neural tube defects among babies and helps with cell division and DNA synthesis.

 

When buying this vegetable, pick medium-sized and apple-green chayote that’s fresh and firm to the touch. Do not buy large or over-mature chayote because the skin will be tough and will have a stringy and unappetizing pulp. The same goes for chayote with surface cuts, pits, cracks or bruises, although you can still buy produce with mild bruises and/or scratches.

 

·         Ginger: If you love using ginger, this is a good decision, because it has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and antiparasitic properties.[ix] Ginger may also help with memory improvement, as a study revealed that healthy, middle-aged women who took ginger extracts over a two-month period had enhanced attention and cognitive processing capabilities, without side effects.[x] Furthermore, ginger can help address conditions like:

 

o   Inflammation: Researchers discovered that regular ginger intake helped participants reduce muscle soreness, boost agility and movement and lessen swelling, such as knee pain.[xi]

 

o   Nausea and other digestion-related concerns: Ginger can help with improving digestion, relieving colic and alleviating nausea, such as morning sickness and motion sickness.

 

The Basics of Making Healthy Chicken Soup

 

When making chicken soup, it's important to use organic and pasture-raised chicken, instead of chicken that comes from CAFOs (conventional animal feeding operations).

 

Organic pasture-raised chickens are allowed to roam freely outdoors on pasture and consume their natural diet of seeds, green plants, insects and worms, increasing the nutrients in the chicken. Meanwhile, CAFO chickens are usually given artificial feeds laced with harmful growth additives, hormones and antibiotics, paving the way for poor-quality poultry. CAFO chickens are often cramped in small and dirty living spaces, increasing the risk for bacterial contamination.

 

Although it might take more effort to look for a farmer who produces organic free-range chicken, this can be worth it and will allow you to have peace of mind knowing that you're not harming yourself or your family with what you serve.

 

Instead of throwing away leftover chicken bones, set these aside to make nutritious bone broth. This method is inexpensive and can provide you with priceless nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, chondroitin, glucosamine and arginine. You wouldn't want to miss out on bone broth's positive impacts, which include:

 

Assisting with healing and sealing the gut and promoting healthy digestion: Bone broth contains a gelatin called a hydrophilic colloid.

 

It plays a role in attracting and holding liquids, including digestive juices that aid in supporting proper digestion.

Decreasing joint pain and inflammation: This is due to nutrients like chondroitin, sulphates, glucosamine and other compounds that are extracted when cartilage is boiled down.

Preventing infections caused by cold and flu viruses: A study discovered that chicken soup possesses medicinal capabilities that can help combat infections.[xii]

Fighting inflammation: Amino acids in bone broth, namely glycine, proline and arginine, have anti-inflammatory effects.

Promoting strong and healthy bones: Bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that have major roles in healthy bone formation.

Boosting healthy hair and nail growth: This benefit also comes from the gelatin in bone broth.






Grounding — A Simple, Pleasurable Way to Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Disease


30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

By Dr. Mercola

Did you know the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life? The concept is known as earthing or grounding, which is no more complicated than walking barefoot.

In "Down to Earth"1 — which received the IndieFEST Award of Excellence for a documentary short in January 20172 — I speak alongside other experts to shed light on this super simple yet commonly overlooked way to protect and improve human health. As cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, author of "Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?" explains in the film:

"[G]rounding is literally putting your bare feet on the ground. When you do that, you're in contact with the Earth, and mother Earth is endowed with electrons, and these electrons are literally absorbed through your feet. It's like taking handfuls of antioxidants, but you're getting it through your feet."

Your Body Needs Grounding

Research suggests a general lack of grounding, also referred to as "electron deficiency syndrome," has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases. For a visual demonstration of this concept, see this previous article, which features an experiment conducted by Gary Schwartz, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona. Using sunflowers, he demonstrates the biological effects of grounding and what happens when the flowers are not grounded.

It's not unusual for Americans to spend entire days without being grounded. But though it has become the norm, it's completely unnatural, and didn't really become widespread until the advent of shoes with artificial soles that prevent grounding. When you're grounded, free electrons from the Earth are transferred into your body, and these free electrons are among the most potent antioxidants known to man.

As electrons are negatively charged and free radicals are positively charged, any free radicals encountered in your tissues are electrically neutralized or canceled out by these free electrons. This is why grounding is so effective against chronic inflammation. Dr. Laura Koniver, who discovered grounding quite by accident after it seemed to soothe her crying infant, says in the film, "Grounding … supports the body as a whole but it specifically supports organ systems down to the tissues and the cellular function of the entire body."

Also, while you may not think of your body as a generator of electricity, you are very much an electrical being, and this is in large part why it's so important to use grounding to harness the electrical charge of the Earth. In the film, Gaetan Chevalier, Ph.D., an engineer/physicist who has studied grounding, explains:

"Unbeknownst to us, we live inside a battery. The surface of the Earth is charged negatively and the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere about 60 miles up, is ionized by the sun. The rays of the sun are so strong that they split the molecules in two, a positive charge and a negative charge.

The negative charges are transferred to the surface of the Earth, through lightening mainly, and the positive charges stay 60 miles up. The problem arises when we don't have a negative charge. We need grounding just as we need air and we need sunshine."

Grounding Reduces Electric Field Induction

There's even evidence that grounding reduces the voltage induced on your body from electricity in your environment — a factor that has become increasingly important in the modern world. As noted in the 2012 review:3

"Applewhite, an electrical engineer and expert in the design of electrostatic discharge systems in the electronic industry, was both subject and author of the study.4 Measurements were taken while ungrounded and then grounded using a conductive patch and conductive bed pad ... Each method (patch and sheet) immediately reduced the common alternating current (AC) 60 Hz ambient voltage induced on the body by a highly significant factor of about 70 on average.

The study showed that when the body is grounded, its electrical potential becomes equalized with the Earth's electrical potential … This, in turn, prevents the 60 Hz mode from producing an AC electric potential at the surface of the body and from producing perturbations of the electric charges of the molecules inside the body.

The study confirms the 'umbrella' effect of earthing the body explained by Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman in his lectures on electromagnetism. Feynman said that when the body potential is the same as the Earth's electric potential (and thus grounded), it becomes an extension of the Earth's gigantic electric system. The Earth's potential thus becomes the 'working agent that cancels, reduces, or pushes away electric fields from the body.'"

Benefits of Grounding

While it may sound "too easy," the simple pleasure of walking barefoot can be a powerful health-promoting activity. A scientific review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012 found that grounding can help:5

Improve quality of sleep and feelings of restfulness upon waking.

Reduce muscle stiffness and soreness.6 

Reduce chronic pain.

Normalize secretion of the stress hormone cortisol, so that it adheres to a typical cycle of peaking in the morning and dipping lowest at midnight. This in turn helps promote more restful sleep and improve blood sugar regulation and weight control.

Reduce stress and balance your autonomic nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (which rules the "rest and digest" functions of the body) and quieting the sympathetic nervous system (which cues the "fight or flight" response).

Reduce the severity of the inflammatory response after intense workouts.

Raise your heart rate variability (your heart's ability to respond to stimuli).

Speed up wound healing.

Improve mood. In one study,7 grounding for one hour significantly improved mood among adults. 

Reduce inflammation.8 In the film, grounding pioneer Clint Ober explains how grounding quenches inflammation: "Inflammation is produced by neutrophils, which are white blood cells. [When] you have an injury … a damaged cell … these white blood cells come over and encapsulate the damaged cell and … release reactive oxygen species, which rip electrons from the damaged cell and that destroys the damaged cell.

If there's not enough free electrons there to reduce the remaining radicals, they're going to steal an electron from a healthy cell and in the process damage it. Then the message goes out to the immune system and another neutrophil does the same thing and eliminates that cell, and then you have a chain reaction."

Thin your blood, making it less viscous, by strengthening the negative electrical surface charge on your red blood cells. This improves their ability to repel each other and allows them to flow more easily through tiny capillaries, and is incredibly valuable as cardiovascular disease is correlated with thicker, slow-moving blood. It can also help protect against blood clots.

In fact, this blood-thinning effect is so profound that if you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, you should consult your doctor before you start grounding regularly. You may need to lower your dosage to avoid overdosing on your medication.

Research9 published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that two hours of grounding increased the surface charge of red blood cells, thereby reducing blood viscosity and clumping. According to the authors, "Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events."  

Increase the structure of the water in your cells. Water is in every cell in your body, and this water is highly ordered (structured) and charged. If you don't have properly structured water in your cells, it can impact the functioning of the much larger protein molecules (and others) that interface with the cell. The water inside the cell also interfaces with water outside the cell, which has the opposite charge, creating a battery effect.

Your body's ability to generate electricity is actually a key part of your achieving health. Electrical charges delivered from cell to cell allows for nearly instantaneous communication within your body, and the messages conducted via these electrical signals are responsible for controlling the rhythm of your heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body and much more.

In fact, most of your biological processes are electrical. The water in your cells achieves its ordered structure from energy obtained from the environment, typically in the form of electromagnetic radiation, including sunlight and infrared heat.

But grounding may also play an important role. Just as water increases in structure when a negative charge is introduced by an electrode, the negatively charged electrons you receive when grounded help increase the structure of the water in your cells. By restructuring the water, you promote more efficient tissue healing. So, when you ground, you are charging every single cell in your body with energy your body can use for self-healing.

How and Where to Ground

While connecting just about any part of your skin to the Earth is beneficial, one area that is particularly potent is the center of the ball of your foot; a point known to acupuncturists as Kidney 1 (K1). It's a well-known acupuncture point that conductively connects to all of the acupuncture meridians in your body. Exercising barefoot outdoors is a great way to incorporate earthing into your daily life and will also help speed up tissue repair and ease muscle pain associated with strenuous exercise.

The ideal location for walking barefoot is the beach, close to or in the water, as saltwater is a great conductor. (Your body is also somewhat conductive because it contains a large number of charged ions, called electrolytes, dissolved in water. Your blood and other body fluids are therefore good conductors.)

A close second would be a grassy area, especially if it's covered with dew, and /or bare soil. Ceramic tiles and concrete are good conductors as long as they've not been sealed; painted concrete does not allow electrons to pass through very well. Materials like asphalt, wood and typical insulators like rubber or plastic will not allow electrons to pass through and are not suitable for barefoot grounding.

While any amount of grounding is better than none, research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the Earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, which is when you reap the greatest benefits. So, ideally, aim for 80 to 120 minutes of grounding each day.

How to Ground Indoors

Just as walking barefoot was once widespread, so too was sleeping on the ground. In the modern world, sleeping indoors serves to further insulate you from the Earth. There's also the issue of elevation. When you are grounded, your body cannot carry a charge, which is good. The greater the distance between your body and the Earth, the greater charge your body carries. In fact, this has been precisely calculated. For every meter (3.28 feet) you are above the ground, 300 volts of charge will build up in your body.10

So, if you are in a second story bedroom, your charge would be 1,000 volts, on average, and this increased charge may increase your risk of health problems. For example, one 2009 study11 found a 40 percent increase in stroke risk among people living in multistory homes. Flying can also make you severely ungrounded. When indoors, and/or at elevation, you can ground by:

  • Using a grounding pad or grounding sheet to ground your mattress while sleeping.
  • Keeping your bare feet on a grounding mat while working. Grounding mats work well provided you have a grounded electrical outlet and can be particularly beneficial if you live in a high-rise. A grounded outlet is generally identifiable by the fact it's a 3-prong outlet with a ground port (bottom outlet). Most modern homes built after 1970 will have a grounded electrical system. When using an earthing mat, make sure your bare skin is in contact with it. There should not be a layer of clothing between you and the mat.
  • Using a grounded yoga mat when exercising indoors. Research12 has shown doing yoga indoors on a grounded yoga mat helps reduce blood viscosity and exercise-induced inflammation, the same effects you'd expect from walking barefoot outdoors.
  • Touching the faucet with one hand while shaving or brushing your teeth with the other.
  • Taking off your shoes and placing your feet (bare or with socks) on the steel struts of the chair in front of you when flying in an airplane.

Grounding May Be Essential for Life and Health

It's important to understand that grounding is not a "treatment" or "cure" for any disease or disorder. Rather, it is one of the key mechanisms by which your body maintains equilibrium and health. The human body evolved in constant contact with the Earth, and your body needs this continuous interchange of energy to function properly.

Free radical stress from exposure to pollution, cigarettes, pesticides, processed foods and electromagnetic radiation, just to name a few, continually deplete your body of electrons. The Earth, however is always electron-rich and can serve as a powerful and abundant supply of antioxidant free radical-busting electrons, provided you make an effort to stay grounded.

Without a proper supply of antioxidants, the free radicals can overwhelm your system leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and accelerated aging. "We now know that oxidative stress causes disease. It causes inflammation," Sinatra says. "[But] we have this Earth — Mother Earth — that's going to give us all these free electrons."

Again, exercising barefoot outdoors is a wonderful way to incorporate grounding into your daily routine. Alternatively, simply take off your shoes as much as you can when you're outdoors to take advantage of the Earth's natural healing potential.




Is it Normal for Joints to Pop, Creak and Crack?


By Dr. Mercola

If the popping or cracking sounds of your joints have ever given you cause for worry, you’ll be relieved to know that it is normal for your joints to occasionally “talk to you.” It is common to hear occasional joint sounds when you move in everyday ways, such as bending over to retrieve a dropped item or walking up or down stairs. Dr. William Shiel, chief editor and co-founder of the medical-information website MedicineNet.com, says:1

“The symptom of joint cracking is described differently by different people, while nevertheless representing the same condition. Various descriptions for the same process include ‘popping,’ ‘exploding,’ ‘noise,’ ‘snapping’ and ‘creaking’ of a joint.”

The most common and less serious joint popping that occurs most often is caused by knuckle cracking or a certain manner of bending or twisting the body to relieve pressure.

One cause for the sounds is the reality that your soft tissues, such as ligaments and tendons, frequently contact your bones and other tissues as you move. Pockets of nitrogen gas within your joint fluid, which help with joint lubrication and nutrition, can also be responsible for some of the sounds.

To date there is insufficient evidence linking joint sounds and arthritis. Furthermore, cracking your joints does not cause them to swell up or become arthritic. That said, unless you are experiencing pain and swelling, rest assured that most joint sounds generally are normal, not harmful.

What Are Your Joints Trying to Tell You?

Dr. Aman Dhawan, an orthopedic sports-medicine specialist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, says, “Joint sounds are not really an indicator of health or lack of health.”2

In terms of cracking your joints, there is insufficient evidence to support the belief that it causes cartilage to wear down or that it will permanently loosen the joints. “It may be irritating to the listener, but that’s a separate issue,” Dhawan notes. “There is really no evidence that it causes any damage.”3 As you may imagine, noisy joints can be of concern if the sounds are unusual or they are accompanied by acute pain and swelling. Some of the more serious joint conditions that may be indicated by a single episode of joint popping include a:4

  • broken bone, also known as a bone fracture
  • cartilage tear from a torn meniscus
  • joint dislocation
  • ligament strain or tear
  • tendon strain or tear, also known as a tendon rupture

If you suspect you may be dealing with any of the above conditions, it’s time to see your doctor. Consistent pain or swelling, and even heat, may be a sign that something is seriously wrong. “As long as it’s not painful, joint noise is OK,” says Dr. Kim Stearns, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. “If there’s pain, you may have an injury, then, that requires treatment.”5 Fitness website GMB provides an excellent summary of what you need to remember when it comes to popping joints:6

  • Most joint noises that arise from normal movement are fine, but joint noises that accompany pain are a cause for concern
  • Never force your joints to “pop,” because even though it is unlikely to cause arthritis, twisting your neck and back forcefully, for example, is unwise and not recommended
  • You may find that starting an exercise or training program will improve or worsen your joint sounds; pay attention to how your joints feel and make any necessary changes to your program as you go along

Exercise: a Healthy Way to Make Your Joints Feel Great

If you regularly crack your joints as a means of gaining relief from stiffness or temporary pain and discomfort, you might consider exercise instead. Exercise can not only significantly improve your joint function, but also lessen any joint pain you may be experiencing.

Be advised that there is no evidence to support the belief that exercise is detrimental to your joints. The myth that you can “wear down” your knees, for example, is just that, a myth. Your body is designed to tolerate average levels of exercise and your normal activities of daily living.

Even if you maintain a healthy weight, exercise can have a positive impact on your joints. While low-impact cardio exercise such as bicycling, swimming or using an elliptical machine can boost joint health, taking a walk around the block is also beneficial, especially if you are just starting or getting back to exercise.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is especially crucial if you have arthritis. Exercise not only increases flexibility and strength, but also reduces joint pain and fatigue. Even moderate exercise can soothe weary joints and give you a sense of control over your arthritis pain and discomfort. Some of the benefits you’ll receive from exercise include:7

 

Strengthening the muscles around your joints

Helping you control your weight

Maintaining bone strength

Enhancing your quality of life

Having more energy to get through the day

Improving your balance

Making it easier to get a good night's sleep

Though you may think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, that's typically not the case. In fact, the opposite is true: Lack of exercise can make your joints even more painful and stiff. That's because keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. The absence of exercise weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints.

A good way to avoid creaking joints is to get up and move as much as possible during the day, says Stearns:8 “We say motion is lotion — the more you move, the more your body lubricates itself. When you’ve been sitting or lying around, fluid in the joints doesn’t move. The more active you are, the more your joints lubricate themselves.”

Setting a goal of taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which is just over 3 to 5 miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers, keeps your focus on getting more movement in your life. If possible, you should add this over and above your existing fitness regimen. If it’s too overwhelming to think of doing anything more than walking, start there. You can always add more activity later.

In addition to easing joint pain, exercise can help improve your mood, increase your energy levels and promote flexibility. ​In time, you will notice positive changes that might cause you to wonder why you didn’t take up exercise sooner.

Are There Special Considerations for Exercising With Joint Pain?

If you have joint pain, there are a few factors to consider with respect to exercise. Particularly if your pain worsens with movement, you want to take care to not strain a significantly unstable joint. Pain during movement is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of osteoarthritis.

If you've already developed knee osteoarthritis, you'll most certainly want to incorporate exercises that strengthen the quadriceps muscle at the front of your thigh. Instead of running or other high-impact exercise, you will more likely enjoy and benefit from non-weight-bearing exercises such as bicycling or swimming.

Should you experience pain for more than one hour after exercising, you either need to slow down or choose a different form of exercise. As needed, you may want to work with a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer who can help develop a safe set of activities for you. Whatever you choose, be sure your program includes a range of activities. I recommend core training, high-intensity cardio, stretching and weight training. My favorite exercise is peak fitness, and this program can be safely used by nearly everyone.

What Role Do Diet and Weight Loss Play in Your Joint Health?

Because diet accounts for about 80 percent of the health benefits you reap from a healthy lifestyle, it makes sense to look to your diet with respect to joint health. I’ve said it many times before — the best diet is one that involves eating REAL FOOD.

I recommend replacing processed foods with whole, organic foods as much as you can. It is especially important to avoid processed vegetable oils and sugars. Personally, I believe the oils are far more toxic, especially the types used to prepare convenience and fast foods.

You simply must have a regular source of high-quality, unprocessed fats if you hope to be healthy. Along those lines, you should carefully monitor your omega-6 to omega-3 balance, making sure you intake enough healthy fish or a fish oil supplement for your omega-3s.

Notably, researchers found that 300 mg of krill oil per day significantly reduced inflammation, pain, stiffness and functional impairment after just seven days, and even more profoundly after 14 days.9 To help you get started, I suggest following my complimentary Optimized Nutrition Plan, which guides you step-by-step from the beginner stage to the advanced level. 

If you are overweight, consider pairing exercise with a healthy diet to bring some relief to your joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),10 arthritis rates are nearly double for obese people compared to those who are normal weight. This is mainly due to the increased pressure extra weight puts on your joints.

Notably, a JAMA study11 revealed that overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis who followed an intensive diet and exercise program experienced less pain and better function than those who pursued just diet or exercise alone. Dhawan agrees that any loss of weight will translate into tremendous improvements in your joint pain and function:12

“There is good data to support getting rid of excess weight because it does improve pain in the joints of the lower extremities, as well as decreases your risk of getting arthritis, or of having it progress. The joints carry the weight of our bodies, so the less stress you put on them, the longer they will stay healthy.”

Remember, even the smallest of positive changes you make in your eating habits will eventually yield results, if you stick with it. Set small goals and keep at it. Soon you will be on your way to the healthier, more active lifestyle that you want and need.

Cracking Your Knuckles Is Not Likely to Lead to Arthritis

As you may know, your joints, including those in your knuckles, are surrounded by a membrane called the synovial membrane. It forms a capsule around the ends of your bones and contains synovial fluid. Synovial fluid acts as a lubricant and shock absorber so your bones don’t grind together when you move.

If you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage within your joints is progressively being damaged, and the synovial fluid is typically reduced as well. The pain and joint stiffness that you feel is a result of your bones starting to come in to contact with each other as cartilage and synovial fluid diminishes. It’s often thought that cracking your joints would be dangerous for people with osteoarthritis, or perhaps could even lead to degenerative conditions.

If you continually crack your knuckles, the synovial membrane and the surrounding ligaments willloosen, making it easier and easier for your joints to crack. However, to date, research has not shown a correlation between knuckle cracking and osteoarthritis in your hands. In a study of more than 200 people, the prevalence of osteoarthritis in any joint was similar among those who cracked knuckles and those who did not.13 The authors stated:

“… [I]n these cohorts of persons aged 50 to 89 years, a history of habitual KC [knuckle cracking] — including the total duration and total cumulative exposure to KC — does not seem to be a risk factor for hand OA [osteoarthritis].”

According to Stearns, despite what your mom said, you’re not going to make your knuckles too big or develop arthritis by cracking them.14 “The belief that cracking your knuckles is bad for your joints is an old wives’ tale. My mother used to tell me don’t crack your knuckles, but sorry, Mom, there’s no science to say it’s bad for your joints.”

In many cases, cracking your knuckles becomes a habit that can be difficult to break. One study even suggested that the movement offers a sort of “therapeutic release.” Some chronic knuckle crackers may regard the habit as a form of stress relief. Personally, however, I don’t think it’s wise to crack your joints on a regular basis, mainly because self-manipulation may lead to lax ligaments. Moreover, I believe you should treat your body gently and lovingly.

For those reasons, as well as the reality that it can be annoying to others, I recommend you choose a form of stress relief other than knuckle cracking. So, the next time you hear that familiar knee pop when you stand up, or gentle neck crack when you turn your head to one side, remember that most joint sounds are normal and not a cause for concern. Exercising regularly, as well as maintaining a healthy diet and weight, will go a long way toward giving your joints all the care and support they need.




Get Proper Sleep Nightly


30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

By Dr. Mercola

Lack of sleep has been scientifically linked to a wide array of health problems and is so common, it's been identified as a public health epidemic by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A review of hundreds of sleep studies concluded that, as a general rule, most adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours — or right around eight hours — of sleep per night to maintain good health.

Your body, indeed every organ and even individual cells, contains biological "clocks" that regulate everything from metabolism to psychological functioning. Even half your genes have been shown to be under circadian control, turning on and off in cyclical waves.

All of these body clocks are synchronized to your master circadian clock, situated in your brain, which in turn is synchronized to the rising and setting of the sun, provided you don't confuse it with artificial lighting at night and/or insufficient sunlight during the day, that is. Over the long term, skimping on sleep — which is a surefire way to dysregulate your circadian body clock — can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems.

Lack of Sleep Puts Your Health at Risk

Research has shown that insufficient sleep and/or poor-quality sleep can increase your risk for:

Accidents at work and on the road

Getting less than six hours of sleep leaves you cognitively impaired. In 2013, drowsy drivers caused 72,000 car accidents in which 800 Americans were killed and 44,000 were injured.1 Even a single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.

Weight gain

Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night has been shown to raise your risk of weight gain by increasing levels of appetite-inducing hormones.2

Diabetes

One 2015 study3 linked "excessive daytime sleepiness" with a 56 percent increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Depression

More than half of people diagnosed with depression also struggle with insomnia. While it was long thought that insomnia was a symptom of depression, it now seems that insomnia may precede depression in some cases.4 About 70 percent of those with sleep apnea, whose sleep is repeatedly disrupted throughout the night, also tend to suffer from symptoms of depression.5

Impaired memory formation and increased risk of memory loss6

Sleep is essential not just for cementing events into long-term memory but also for making sense of your life. During sleep, your brain pulls together and extracts meaning, while discarding unimportant details. In fact, sleep increases your ability to gain insights that would otherwise remain elusive by about 250 percent.

So, during sleep, part of your brain is busy stabilizing, enhancing and integrating new memories. It's also extracting rules, and the "gist" of what's happening in your life. Reduced productivity at work and poor grades in school are other associated side effects of insufficient sleep. Creativity is also diminished.

Impaired sexual function7

Chronic diseases

Sleep deprivation decreases your immune function,8 which can have a snowball effect, raising your risk for cardiovascular disease,9,10 Alzheimer's11 and cancer, just to name a few. In the case of cancer, another critical mechanism involved is disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone with antioxidant and anticancer activity.

It both inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells and triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Melatonin also interferes with the new blood supply tumors required for their rapid growth (angiogenesis). A number of studies have shown that night shift workers are at heightened risk of cancer for this reason.

Are You Sleep Deprived?

Daytime sleepiness is typically a tipoff that you're not getting enough sleep, but sometimes signs of sleep deprivation may be less obvious. The late Nathaniel Kleitman, Ph.D., professor emeritus in physiology at the University of Chicago and a well-recognized pioneer in sleep research,12 developed a "sleep onset latency test," to determine if you're sleep deprived. Here's how it works:13

1. In the early afternoon, grab a spoon and head off to your darkened bedroom to take a nap. Place a metal tray on the floor beside your bed and hold the spoon over the tray as you attempt to fall asleep. Be sure to check the time as you lie down. (If you don't have a spoon and metal tray handy, you can still take this test by setting an alarm for 15 minutes to see if you fall asleep before it goes off.)

2. When you fall asleep and the spoon crashes down onto the tray, waking you up, immediately check the time again and note how much time has passed.

If you fell asleep within five minutes, it means you're severely sleep deprived.

If it took you 10 minutes to fall asleep, you could still use more sleep.

If you managed to stay awake for 15 minutes or more before falling asleep, you're probably well rested.

Improve Your Sleep and Health by Adopting a Neutral Sleeping Position

While sleep problems can be caused or exacerbated by a number of different factors, many of which are covered in "Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed," three of particular importance — primarily because they're so frequently overlooked — are your sleep position, light pollution and exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

In the video above, chiropractor and exercise physiologist Dr. Peter Martone discusses the benefits of adopting a neutral sleeping position. If you're a side- or stomach sleeper and find yourself frequently tossing and turning at night and/or wake up with aches and pains, your sleeping position may be a primary culprit. As noted by Martone, for sound, healthy sleep, you need to sleep on your back, with your neck and spine in a neutral position.

The key to achieving this is to prop a pillow under your neck, not your head, as this allows you to maintain a proper spinal curve. For a demonstration on how to use your pillow to support your neck rather than simply elevating your head, please see the video.

If you're unaccustomed to sleeping on your back, this change will take some getting used to. So, go slow, and give yourself ample time to adjust. In the beginning, you may only be able to remain on your back for a few minutes at a time. You may even experience more pain rather than less when you first start out.

This is my preferred sleep position ever since Peter taught it to me. I also tape my mouth shut with paper tape before I go to sleep to prevent myself from breathing through my mouth. Mouth breathing is something you'll want to avoid, but it's hard to do when you are unconscious.

In Martone's experience, it takes an average of three to four months to convert from a side sleeper to a back sleeper, and even longer if you're used to sleeping on your stomach. In addition to the video above, you can also find a number of helpful techniques on his website, www.AtlantisWellness.com/sleep.

I converted to sleeping exclusively on my back several months ago and really enjoy it. It's certainly not the only way to improve your sleep (and health), but it may be worth considering if frequent tossing and turning is disrupting your sleep. 

Conquer Light Pollution to Improve Sleep

Light pollution is another major contributor to poor sleep quality. By disrupting your circadian clock and impairing melatonin secretion, light exposure at night will affect the length, depth and overall quality of your sleep. Electronic screens are major sleep thieves, robbing you of the ability to fall asleep quickly.

Research has shown that the more time you spend on electronic devices during the day, and especially at night, the longer it takes to fall asleep and the less sleep you get overall.14,15 Teenagers who used electronic devices such as MP3 players, video games, tablets, smartphones and/or computers for more than five hours a day were 3.5 times more likely to get fewer than five hours of sleep per night. They were also 49 percent more likely to need more than an hour to actually fall asleep.

Aside from electronic screens, LEDs and fluorescent lights are particularly troublesome as they emit blue light that is not balanced by red and near infrared frequencies.16 Importantly, LEDs may promote age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. To learn more about this, please see my interview with Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology.

Incandescent lights emit red and near infrared wavelengths and very little in the blue wavelengths, making them a far healthier type of lighting. Just beware of the light intensity, as too bright a light can cause problems even if it's well-balanced. Once the sun has set, the lower the light in your home the better. Candlelight is ideal. Salt lamps are another option that will not have an adverse impact on your health and sleep quality.

If you choose to watch TV after sunset, then you must be particularly cautious as most new TVs are "smart," meaning they communicate wirelessly by Wi-Fi and it is impossible to turn off. Fortunately, there is a simple solution. You can use a computer monitor for your screen, which does not have a Wi-Fi signal.

Even better would be to watch TV through a computer that is hooked up with a wired Ethernet and is in airplane mode. The advantage of doing this is that you can use a blue light screen blocker. Iris is the absolute best one and I have used it for many years.

If you use Iris at night, you won't need blue blocking glasses. If you are unable to hook your monitor to a TV, then you will need to use the glasses. While blue light blockers work, glasses with red lenses actually work even better, as they not only block blue light but also yellow and green.

Avoid Nighttime EMF to Bolster Sleep Quality and Health

Another factor that can have a significant impact on your sleep quality and health is EMFs emitted from wiring and electronic devices. This is true regardless of the time of your exposure, but it's particularly problematic at night:

  • There's evidence showing EMF exposure reduces melatonin production,17 making it particularly important to eliminate EMFs in your bedroom. As mentioned, melatonin not only regulates your sleep-waking cycle; it's also a powerful antioxidant, and low levels have been repeatedly linked to an increased risk of cancer.18
  • Sleep is the most important time for your brain, as its detoxification processes occur only during deep sleep. During deep sleep, your brain's glymphatic system is activated, allowing it to detoxify and eliminate accumulated waste products, including amyloid-beta proteins, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. EMF exposure has also been linked to neuronal changes that affect memory and your ability to learn.19
  • EMFs harm your body's mitochondria by producing excessive oxidative damage, so "marinating" in EMFs all night, every night, can cause or contribute to virtually any chronic ailment, including premature aging.

One of the easiest ways to avoid or radically limit your nighttime electric field exposure from the wiring in your room is to pull the circuit breaker to your bedroom before going to bed. You can have an electrician install a remote breaker for convenience, which is what I have done. This will virtually eliminate electric fields in your bedroom, unless you have adjacent rooms with wiring in them, in which case you will need to measure the electric fields with a meter after you shut off the power to see if it goes into the lowest range.  

If your building code requires electrical wiring to be in a conduit, you're in luck, as this means all you need to do to eliminate this radiation is to unplug any electronic equipment or lighting.

Another really important step is to turn off your Wi-Fi at night. It would be best to hard wire your home so you have no Wi-Fi 24/7 in your home, but I realize many are unwilling or unable to take this step. Please, don't justify that it doesn't make a difference because your neighbor has their Wi-Fi on all the time.

It's important to realize that the Wi-Fi in your home is nearly always more of a danger to you than what's coming from outside your home. You can confirm this by measuring the microwave signals with a meter, and see what your exposure is.

Emergency Sleep Remedies

If you're currently not sleeping enough, or getting poor-quality sleep, your chief aim would be to a) make sure you're getting sufficient amounts of sleep each night by going to bed earlier, and b) addressing any and all factors that prevent you from falling asleep quickly and staying asleep throughout the night, including your sleep position, light pollution and EMF exposure discussed above.

For even more tips on how to improve your sleep quality, see "Nobel Prize-Winning Science Highlights Importance of Good Sleep for Health." In the short term, you could try a gentle sleep aid while implementing more permanent lifestyle and/or environmental changes. Natural sleep remedies that may help you get a good night's sleep include:

  • Melatonin. Start with as little as 0.25 milligrams (mg) and work your way up in quarter-gram increments from there until you get the desired effect.
  • Valerian root. Studies have found valerian root helps improve the speed at which you fall asleep, depth of sleep (achieving deep sleep 36 percent faster20) and overall quality of sleep.21 Start with a minimal dose and use the lowest dose needed to achieve the desired effect, as higher dosages can have an energizing effect in some people. Typical dosages used in studies range between 400 mg and 900 mg, taken anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before bed.
  • Chamomile. This herb is typically used in the form of infusions, teas, liquid extracts or essential oils made from the plant's fresh or dried flower heads. It has sedative effects that may help with sleep, which is why chamomile tea is often sipped before bed.
  • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). The chemical 5-HTP promotes production of serotonin, thereby giving mood a boost and enhancing sleep. In one study, an amino acid preparation containing both GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) and 5-HTP reduced time to fall asleep, increased the duration of sleep and improved sleep quality.22

Take Control of Your Health by Making Sleep a Priority

In a world where technology facilitates and even encourages around-the-clock activity and connectivity, it becomes an individual responsibility to protect your health by setting boundaries and creating your own rules for when and how you're going to be "connected." Sleep is one of the foundation pillars of optimal health; you sacrifice it at great risk to your mental, emotional and physical well-being. So, if you're not getting enough quality sleep, start by addressing the basics:

Make sure you go to bed early enough.

Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning and/or around solar noon to "set" your master clock, and to avoid blue light exposure after sunset for the same reason.23 Blue-blocking glasses can be used to counteract artificial lighting and electronic screens.

Sleep in complete darkness (use blackout shades or an eye mask). Research24 reveals even dim light exposure during sleep can affect your cognition the next day.

Find your ideal temperature for sleeping. Studies suggest the optimal temperature for sleep is quite a bit cooler than many realize — between 60 and 68 degrees F. Temperatures above or below this tend to increase restlessness. Something as simple as sleeping naked may do the trick if you don't want to crank down the temperature on your air conditioning. One of the established benefits of sleeping in the buff is improved sleep quality, in part by preventing overheating.

One study showed a surface skin temperature difference of as little as 0.08 degrees F (or 0.4 degrees C) led to sounder sleep.25,26,27 Studies have also found sleeping in the nude has several other health benefits, including improved metabolism and blood circulation.

Make your bedroom an EMF-free zone to optimize nighttime brain detoxification and protect your mitochondrial health.




Your Ultimate Guide to Optimal Fitness


By Dr. Mercola




Depression Not Caused by Chemical Imbalance


By Dr. Mercola

Do you know what causes depression? Many people would respond that it’s due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance theory has been widely promoted by drug companies and psychiatrists alike, to the extent that it’s accepted as fact. The glaring problem is that the chemical imbalance theory is just that — a theory — and worse still, it’s a theory that has been largely discredited.

The theory was first proposed by scientists in the 1960s after it appeared certain antidepressant drugs worked by altering brain chemicals, but it was stated that “the findings are inconclusive.”1 Yet, the theory was proposed at a time when treating mental illness via psychoanalysis was falling out of favor while viewing it as tied to a physical or biological mechanism was in vogue.

The idea quickly spread, becoming the medical dogma for depression, despite concrete evidence proving its worth. “The fact that practicing physicians and leaders of science bought that idea, to me, is so disturbing,” Steve Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, told Quartz.2 The news outlet continued:

“It’s not hard to see why the theory caught on: It suited psychiatrists’ newfound attempt to create a system of mental health that mirrored diagnostic models used in other fields of medicine. The focus on a clear biological cause for depression gave practicing physicians an easily understandable theory to tell patients about how their disease was being treated.”3

Prozac, Zoloft Bring Chemical Imbalance Theory for Depression to the Mainstream

The release of the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) in the late 1980s was a game changer for depression treatment in that the drug’s maker, Eli Lilly, heavily promoted the chemical balance theory as a marketing gimmick to sell the drug. With fewer side effects than some of the earlier antidepressants, Prozac became a blockbuster drug and the poster child for the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants, which target the neurotransmitter serotonin.

“There was, of course, no demonstrable evidence showing that depressed patients had any imbalance, but Lilly ran with it,” Psychology Today noted. “Before long, psychiatrists and psychiatric patients alike came to identify with the idea that mental disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.”4

Zoloft (sertraline), another SSRI, was another major player in spreading and perpetuating the chemical balance theory, with their television ads going so far as to say, “While the causes are unknown, depression may be related to an imbalance of natural chemicals between nerve cells in the brain. Prescription Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.”5

It’s important to note that in the time since Prozac flooded the market, depression still remains poorly treated, despite a plethora of new antidepressant options to choose from. SSRIs work by preventing the reuptake (movement back into the nerve endings) of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

This makes more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood since low serotonin levels are said to lead to depression. Yet, as written in the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, it’s a largely disproven theory:6

“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Indeed their supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory. But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by the drug companies reveal that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect.

Some antidepressants increase serotonin levels, some decrease it, and some have no effect at all on serotonin … The serotonin theory is as close to any theory in the history of science having been proved wrong.”

Harvard: Depression ‘More Complex’ Than a Brain Chemical Imbalance

It’s quite possible that people who are depressed may have an imbalance of certain chemicals in their brain. But to speculate that that imbalance is the cause of their symptoms is overly simplistic. For instance, it’s known that psychological stress can cause biological changes in the brain, including a reduction in the size of the hippocampus, which is used for learning and memory.7 In turn, it’s known that some people with depression have a smaller-than-average hippocampus.8

“Evidence of biological changes correlating with environmental stressors is vastly different from evidence that mental illnesses are ‘caused’ by biological deficits,” scientists wrote in a 2008 report on the chemical imbalance theory,9 and this is an important point. Even Harvard Medical School acknowledges that while brain chemicals may play a role in your mood, it is not accurate to suggest that one being too high or too low is at the root of depression. They state:10

“Research suggests that depression doesn't spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.

It's believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression … There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.”

One theory posits, for instance, that stress could be a major contributor to depression because it suppresses the production of new neurons in the hippocampus. In order to feel better, people with depression may need to increase neurogenesis (the generation of new neurons), which takes weeks.

This would explain why many people who take antidepressants don’t notice any improvement for several weeks.11 If the action was really on neurotransmitters, the patient should feel better right away when levels increase. Instead, triggering the growth of neurons could be the secret, which is a process that can be triggered naturally via exercise.

Believing Depression Is Caused by Chemical Imbalance Worsens Outcomes

Aside from the serious implications of prescribing drugs under a false premise, the chemical balance theory is also dangerous in that it takes away ownership from the patient. If a person feels a chemical imbalance in their brain is to blame for their depression, they may believe taking medications is the only option to feel better. According to Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University in Virginia, upon “buying into a biomedical explanation for their depression:”12

“They become pessimistic that recovery is possible. They become less confident that they can manage and regulate negative moods that arise (and they always do). The notion that depression is their brain's fault does not lessen the stigma or self-blame one bit.

And they no longer believe that psychotherapy is a credible or useful strategy for treating their depression and instead, are ready to be dispensed a pill cure. Essentially, they become less flexible in their options for treating depression and less confident that they will escape its clutches.”

Indeed, a 2014 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy revealed just that — attributing depressive symptoms to a chemical imbalance made people more pessimistic about their prognosis and led them to believe that drugs would be more effective than psychotherapy.13 At the same time, they still felt the same amount of self-blame. It’s important to note that feeling depressed is not anyone’s fault, nor should they feel blamed for or ashamed of their feelings.

However, pinning its cause on a chemical imbalance is likely to worsen outcomes rather than improve them. It’s a vicious cycle as well, because the chemical imbalance theory makes people assume that medications are the best course of treatment. But here again research has shown that people with depression who are treated with medication have poorer long-term outcomes compared to those who are not.14

Antidepressants Work No Better Than Placebo

Nearly 7 percent of U.S adults suffered from a depressive episode in the past year15 while, worldwide, 350 million people suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability.16 Despite this, only about one-third of Americans with depression get treated,17 which puts the remaining two-thirds left untreated at increased risk of suicide and with a lower quality of life.

That said, the antidepressant drugs that are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance in the brain are largely ineffective, which means that even when some people attempt to get treatment, they’re left suffering. Studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression.18

Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, has conducted meta-analyses of antidepressants in comparison to placebo and has concluded that there’s virtually no difference in their effectiveness, noting, “The difference is so small, it’s not of any clinical importance.”19 What is different, however, is the potential for side effects, which is far greater among antidepressants than placebos.

For instance, antidepressant users have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,20 even after adjusting for other risk factors, like body mass index (BMI).21 Antidepressant use has also been linked to thicker arteries, which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The results of a study of 513 twin veterans, presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans in 2011, found that antidepressant use resulted in greater carotid intima-media thickness (the lining of the main arteries in your neck that feed blood to your brain).22

This was true both for SSRIs and antidepressants that affect other brain chemicals. Further, the use of antidepressants is also associated with an increased risk of heart attack, specifically for users of tricyclic antidepressants, who have a 36 percent increased risk of heart attack.23

Meanwhile, the drugs are also linked to dementia, with researchers noting “treatment with SSRIs, MAOIs, heterocyclic antidepressants, and other antidepressants was associated with an increased risk of dementia,” and as the dose increased, so too did the risk.24

The drugs are also known to deplete various nutrients from your body, including coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12 — in the case of tricyclic antidepressants — which are needed for proper mitochondrial function. SSRIs may deplete iodine and folate,25 and you’re even more likely to relapse if you’re treated with antidepressants than if you’re treated via other methods, including placebo or exercise.26,27 Given the lack of effectiveness and the risks involved, Kirsch and colleagues concluded:28

“When different treatments are equally effective, choice should be based on risk and harm, and of all of these treatments, antidepressant drugs are the riskiest and most harmful. If they are to be used at all, it should be as a last resort, when depression is extremely severe and all other treatment alternatives have been tried and failed.”

Alternative Treatments for Depression

If the chemical imbalance theory is false, the case for choosing antidepressants as a first-line treatment for depression is incredibly weak. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to drugs for treating depression, including nutritional interventions, light therapy, exercise and more. If you’re struggling with depression, you needn’t suffer in silence. Seek help, from a counselor, a holistic psychiatrist or another natural health practitioner to start the journey toward healing.

That said, if you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis. If you’re in a place where you feel you can begin to make positive changes, here are some of the top alternative treatments for depression to consider:

Exercise. Those who didn’t exercise were 44 percent more likely to become depressed compared to those who did so for at least one to two hours a week.29

Light therapy. Light therapy alone and placebo were both more effective than Prozac for the treatment of moderate to severe depression in an eight-week-long study.30

Omega-3 fats, which have been shown to lead to improvements in major depressive disorder.31 Make sure you're getting enough omega-3s in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, or a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement.

Optimize your vitamin D levels, another factor linked to depression32

Magnesium. Magnesium supplements led to improvements in mild-to-moderate depression in adults, with beneficial effects occurring within two weeks of treatment.33

B vitamins. Low levels of B vitamins are common in patients with depression, while vitamin B supplements have been shown to improve symptoms.34

Mindfulness meditation35 and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). In a study of 30 moderately to severely depressed college students, the depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.36

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which works as well as antidepressants and may reduce your risk of relapse even after it’s stopped.37

Limit sugar. Men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years than those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day.38




How Alcohol Damages Your DNA


By Dr. Mercola

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, just over 26 percent of people over 18 reported binge drinking in the previous 30 days of the study when it was performed in 2015.1 Another 7 percent reported heavy alcohol use. This is congruent with the U.S. Surgeon General's Report showing that substance abuse in the U.S. is skyrocketing, including alcohol abuse.2

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol poisoning kills six people every day.3 These are deaths related to short-term consumption of toxic amounts of alcohol that leads to central nervous system depression and shutdown in critical areas of the brain controlling breathing, heart rate and body temperature, ultimately resulting in death.4 This statistic does not address other negative effects alcohol has on your health.

In addition to being a central nervous system depressant, alcohol is a carbohydrate lacking in real nutritional value. Nearly one-third of Americans are obese and according to the CDC, in 2014 there was no state in the U.S. with a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.5

Although scientists have found associations between alcohol consumption and negative health conditions such as pancreatitis and stomach cancer, what has been missing is the precise nature in which alcohol damages your body. New research shows that as your body processes alcohol, a transient toxic compound is produced that attacks DNA.6

Alcohol Damages DNA and Increases Risk for Cancer

The research7 demonstrated the effect alcohol had on blood stem cells in mice. The researchers gave ethanol to mice and then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to study genetic damage on the body by acetaldehyde, produced during the metabolic processing of alcohol.

The researchers from Cambridge University's MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology found a buildup of acetaldehyde happened when there is too much for the body to break down, or when mechanisms to reduce acetaldehyde function poorly.8

While previous research had pinpointed acetaldehyde as the culprit that caused DNA damage, those studies were performed on cell cultures and not on a living body. However, the evidence was strong enough to prompt the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, their highest risk category.9 The researchers chose to study blood stem cells since they quickly replicate and readily spread genetic damage throughout the body.10 

Lead author Dr. Ketan Patel commented on the extent of the damage their data revealed, saying:11 "We saw huge amounts of DNA damage in these cells. Bits of DNA were deleted, bits were broken and we even saw parts of chromosomes being moved about and rearranged."

The researchers found acetaldehyde breaks and damages DNA in blood cell stem cells, leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering DNA sequences.12 This DNA damage increases your risk for seven types of cancer, including breast and bowel cancer. Patel explained:13

"Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage."

The study also examined the body's ability to protect itself from acetaldehyde and identified a family of enzymes that break the compound down into acetate, which your cells can use for energy. However, millions of people, especially those of Southeast Asian descent, either don't have these enzymes, or the enzymes are faulty.14 This increases their risk of acetaldehyde accumulation, triggering greater DNA damage and a flushed face.

A second line of defense is a repair mechanism that helps repair DNA. However, Patel has found this doesn't always work, and some individuals carry mutations in the mechanism.15 Data has revealed the number of deaths related to alcohol consumption and cancer has increased 62 percent in 12 years, rising from 3.6 percent in 2003 to 5.8 percent of deaths worldwide in 2015.16 Patel went on to say:17

"Our study highlights that not being able to process alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA damage and therefore certain cancers. But it's important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defense mechanisms are intact."

Factors That Influence Your Tolerance to Alcohol

There are several ways alcohol may influence your risk of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society warns just a few drinks each week can increase your risk of breast cancer.18 The risk is higher in women who have low folate levels. Alcohol affects your hormones and an increased estrogen level triggered by alcohol is linked to breast cancer. Hormone levels are also affected in men, which can lead to infertility.19

Alcohol's effect on your body is influenced by your body weight, ratio of muscle to fat, and how much and what kind of food you've recently eaten. Alcohol is one of the more addictive substances, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates 1 in 12 Americans abuse alcohol or are dependent on the drug.20

Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S. and up to 40 percent of hospital beds are used to treat alcohol related conditions, with the exception of maternity and ICU beds.

Your pattern of consumption doesn't appear to make a difference in the severity of your symptoms.21 Those who binge drink every week or two suffer some of the same conditions as those who drink daily. Dr. Alex Wodak, emeritus consultant at the Alcohol and Drug Service in Sydney, Australia's St. Vincent Hospital, describes the differences:22

"I've been in France early in morning and people, generally men, order a coffee and have a nip of brandy or whiskey, and they top up regularly during the day. They're never intoxicated but there's a formidable physical toll from all of that.

In the north of Europe, that kind of drinking style is very uncommon and what's more common is for people to have two-thirds of a bottle of spirits once a week and they set fire to a soccer stadium or slash train seats or belt their wife up or someone in the street they don't like the look of."

Since alcohol is a carbohydrate, it not only damages your liver and raises levels of DNA-damaging acetaldehyde, but it also increases your risk of obesity. Health care costs tied to overconsumption of sugar account for at least one-third of health care costs spent each year in America.23 This equates to nearly $1 trillion each year. An increase in weight is linked to osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and gout, just to name a few.

Alcohol Affects More Than DNA

Alcohol triggers changes in more than your DNA, affecting nearly every cell and organ system in your body. In your brain, alcohol affects your limbic system that controls your emotions, which is why alcohol lowers your inhibitions. Your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows in response to alcohol, leading to more impulsive behavior and poor judgment. Chronically, in as little as one month, you may experience:24,25,26

  • Increased liver stiffness, which increases your risk of liver cirrhosis.
  • Diminished memory formation due to ethanol buildup in the brain. This is why you may not remember what you did while you were drunk. Alcohol also causes your hippocampus to shrink, which affects memory and learning.
  • Systemic inflammation. Alcohol significantly increases five inflammatory markers.27 Studies have shown even a single binge causes a dramatic rise in inflammation. In other words, your body reacts to alcohol in the same way as it reacts to injury or infection.
  • Increased stress on your heart, raising your risk for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, high blood pressure and stroke. Blood alcohol levels spike two to three hours after your last drink, which means it may occur in the middle of the night during sleep. This raises your risk of accidental death due to choking on your own vomit and/or suffering cardiac failure or stroke while sleeping.
  • Significantly increased endotoxin levels. Alcohol causes gut damage, allowing bacteria to escape from your gut into your bloodstream. Regular consumption also leads to elevated endotoxin levels,28 suggesting "sensible" drinking limits likely need to be much lower than the current 14 to 21 units current recommended in the U.K.29 How low is still unclear.

Less Is Always Better

Alcohol is a known cancer risk factor that contributes to cancer deaths. In research published by the American Cancer Society, scientists analyzed cancer diagnosis and death data compiled from the CDC and National Cancer Institute. They found 42 percent of cancer diagnoses and 45 percent of cancer deaths could be attributed to preventable or modifiable risk factors.30 Those factors included smoking, excess weight, alcohol intake, low consumption of fruits, vegetables, fiber and calcium, and lack of physical activity.

The researchers analyzed over 1.5 million cases of cancer and over 600,000 cancer deaths to evaluate whether a link existed between these modifiable factors and cancer. They found that lung and colorectal cancers had the highest number of diagnoses and deaths that could be attributed to preventable factors.31

Cigarette smoking was responsible for the greatest number of cases of cancer diagnosed, while obesity and being overweight was responsible for the second greatest number. Although alcohol-related cancers ranked third on the list, alcohol is a contributing factor to obesity.

A combination of two of these modifiable factors, smoking and alcohol intake, are also related to the development of visible age-related signs.32 While most people are concerned with external appearance, it's important to remember that damage done to your skin by these toxins is likewise being done to your internal cells and organ systems.

If you currently are a drinker, it is vital to consider how this impacts your overall health and increases your risk for several different health conditions. Research suggests that reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake and raising your exercise level will help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

This makes sense when you consider the fact that exercise may be one of the most effective strategies for protecting and strengthening your heart, so much so that research shows regular exercise can significantly lower your health care costs if you have heart disease. According to one study, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, five times per week, could result in annual health care savings of more than $2,500 per person.33

Exercise and Supplements May Reduce the Negative Effect on Your Body

Exercise is a foundational pillar to good health and may also help counteract inflammation in your body caused by alcohol.34,35 The data demonstrated those who got 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week reduced the biological impact of drinking, while those who got five hours or more of moderate activity experienced the same mortality as those who never drank.

Other research has demonstrated that long-time drinkers who exercise regularly have less damage to white matter in their brains than those who exercise very little or not at all.36 Exercise may also reduce your risk of becoming dependent. Just like alcohol, exercise releases dopamine, a brain chemical associated with rewarding behaviors. Experiencing this feel good chemical may reduce your desire for alcohol and may help those who are dependent to lessen their cravings.37

Although this may help in the short run, alcohol impedes your desire for physical fitness and reduces your testosterone production, making it more difficult to build muscle. While I don't recommend drinking, if you know you'll be having a few drinks, using one of the following natural protocols prior to drinking may help minimize the damage to your body. However, this will not reduce your susceptibility to alcohol poisoning or other adverse events associated with binge drinking. So, please, use common sense and drink responsibly.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): NAC is a form of the amino acid cysteine. Many of its benefits relate back to the fact that it helps boost production of glutathione, an important antioxidant your body produces naturally that helps reduce free radical damage and plays a role in the detoxification of heavy metals and other harmful substances. It also reduces acetaldehyde toxicity that causes many hangover symptoms.38

Try taking NAC (at least 200 milligrams) 30 minutes before you drink to help lessen the alcohol's toxic effects. NAC is both safe and inexpensive, and has been commercially available for a long time. It's also generally well-tolerated and has no known serious side effects.

Consider that, like alcohol, one way that Tylenol causes damage to your liver is by depleting glutathione. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from the acetaminophen may be largely preventable. This is why anyone who overdoses on Tylenol receives large doses of NAC in the emergency room — to increase glutathione.

B vitamins: NAC is thought to work even better when combined with vitamin B1 (thiamine).39 Vitamin B6 may also help to lessen hangover symptoms. Since alcohol depletes B vitamin in your body, and B vitamins are required to help eliminate alcohol from your body, a B-vitamin supplement taken beforehand, as well as the next day, may help.

Milk thistle: Milk thistle contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants known to help protect your liver from toxins, including the effects of alcohol. Not only has silymarin been found to increase glutathione, but it also may help to regenerate liver cells.40 A milk thistle supplement may be most useful when taken regularly, especially if you know you'll be having cocktails on more than one occasion.

Vitamin C: Alcohol may deplete your body of vitamin C, which is important for reducing alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver. Interestingly, one animal study showed vitamin C was even more protective to the liver than silymarin (milk thistle) after exposure to alcohol.41

Making sure you're getting enough vitamin C, either via supplements or food, is another trick to use prior to indulging in alcoholic beverages. Vitamin C is actually such a powerful detoxifier that if you take large doses prior to receiving dental anesthesia, the anesthesia will be significantly weakened and may not work.

Magnesium: Magnesium is another nutrient depleted by alcohol, and it's one that many are already deficient in.42 Plus, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce some hangover symptoms. If you don't eat a lot of magnesium-rich foods, taking a magnesium supplement before an evening involving drinking may be helpful.




Eat Your Way to Good Health With These Delicious Recipes


By Dr. Mercola




Friendly User's Guide for the Timing of Nutritional Supplements


30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

By Dr. Mercola

According to an investigation published in JAMA in 2016, 52 percent of American adults reported using nutritional supplements in 2012, a statistic that has remained stable since 1999.1 While the use of multivitamins has decreased somewhat, from 37 to 31 percent in that timeframe, use of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements have dramatically increased.

Vitamin D use jumped from just over 5 percent to 19 percent, and fish oil supplements increased from just over 1 percent to 12 percent. Among the most popular supplements are probiotics, omega-3, multivitamins, vitamin C, turmeric, calcium and magnesium.2 In all, Americans spent an estimated $21 billion on nutritional supplements in 2015.3

While dietary supplements are generally safe, when and how you take them — such as with or without food, or before or after exercise4 — can make a difference both in terms of safety and effectiveness. Certain supplements may also be contraindicated for certain health conditions or if you're taking a particular drug. Following, you'll find helpful guidance on the use of common supplements, including many sold in my online store.

Quick Guide to the Timing of Supplements

taking supplements users guide

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

On the Timing of Vitamins and Minerals

Since multivitamins contain an array of both water- and fat-soluble vitamins, and in some cases minerals as well, it's generally recommended you take half of your daily dose in the morning, with breakfast, and the other half with your main meal (dinner for most people, or lunch if you're intermittently fasting). While you may not notice any ill effects if you take it on an empty stomach, taking your multivitamins with food is a safer bet overall.

Both B vitamins and nonliposomal vitamin C may cause stomach upset and nausea when taken on an empty stomach, for example, and fat-soluble vitamins will do you little good unless you take them with a small amount of fat, such as an egg or half an avocado. Avoid going overboard on the fat, however, as too much grease can interfere with the absorption of water-based vitamins.

When taking individual vitamins and minerals, you may need to pay attention not only to the timing of them, but also their combination with other supplements you're taking, and their ideal ratios. For example:

Fat-soluble vitamin K2 is best taken with your largest meal that contains fat. This could be during the day or at your evening meal. Calcium can be taken during the day but magnesium is best taken at night, without food. Unfortunately, the ideal ratio of vitamin K2 to D is still undetermined, so there are no hard and fast rules here. Some experts suggest 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day will meet the needs of the "average" healthy person, but if you're taking high-dose vitamin D, you'll need a bit more.5

While nontoxic, people who are taking vitamin K antagonists, i.e., drugs that reduce blood clotting by reducing the action of vitamin K, are advised to avoid vitamin K2 (MK-7) supplements.

Zinc, on the other hand, should not be taken with a calcium and/or iron supplement, as these may hinder your body's absorption of zinc.

Similarly, avoid taking calcium or vitamin E with iron, as these nutrients interfere with iron absorption. Iron is also best taken on an empty stomach, either in the midmorning or midafternoon.6

Magnesium, which is one of the most important minerals to supplement with as most all of us are deficient, helps your body relax, is best taken in the evening, and can be taken with or without food. If you're also taking calcium, take them together.

If you exercise regularly, consider taking your calcium and magnesium in a ratio of one part calcium to two parts magnesium with your pre-workout meal.7 While the ideal ratio of magnesium to calcium is thought to be 1-to-1, most people get far more calcium than magnesium from their diet; hence, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

Oral B12, which tends to be poorly absorbed no matter what, is best taken on an empty stomach to optimize absorption. This is less of an issue if you are using a sublingual form of B12. B12 may interact with a variety of medications,8 including those for bone loss, cancer, gout, high blood pressure and acid indigestion, such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, so check for contraindications before you start taking it on a regular basis.

Timing of Fats and Fiber Supplements

Fiber may inhibit your body's absorption of fat, so most fiber supplements, including "green" supplements like powdered spirulina and kelp, are best taken separately from any fatty acid supplements you may be taking. If you're working out, remember that fiber supplements will slow the movement of food through your stomach and intestines.

For this reason, fiber is best taken at least three or four hours before exercise or competition. Alternatively, take it toward the end of the day. Whole husk psyllium, which is an excellent fiber supplement, is ideally taken two hours after a meal with a full glass of water.

As for omega-3 supplements such as fish or krill oil, these could potentially cause indigestion if taken immediately before a workout, so consider taking them with breakfast, along with any multivitamin you may be taking. Also keep in mind that krill oil supplements are contraindicated for those allergic to shellfish, and neither fish nor krill oil should be taken if you have a blood coagulation disorder or are on anticoagulant medication.

Timing of Enzymes and Probiotics

Enzymes such as bromelain, papain, trypsin and others are used not only as digestive aids but also for enhancing muscle recovery and decreasing inflammation. Depending on your aim, you'll need to alter the timing. When taken with a meal, they will improve your digestion. For muscle enhancement and/or anti-inflammatory effects, you'll want to take them on an empty stomach post-workout, either in the morning or afternoon.

Probiotics help improve your gut microbiome by supplying beneficial bacteria. They are best taken on an empty stomach, two to three hours before your first meal, or after your final meal for the day. Also remember that to reap the benefits from a probiotic supplement, you need to reduce your intake of processed foods and sugar. Otherwise, you're essentially just throwing your money away.

On the Timing of Antioxidants

As a general rule, antioxidant supplements such as resveratrol, astaxanthin, vitamin E and ubiquinol (the reduced version of Coenzyme Q10) are fat-soluble and best taken with a fatty meal. Ubiquinol is best taken in divided doses with a fatty meal while, vitamin E and astaxanthin can be taken once a day with a fatty meal to increase absorption. Resveratrol-containing supplements such as Purple Defense can be taken on an empty stomach.

If you're an athlete, or work out regularly, several studies have shown that taking antioxidant supplements immediately prior to exercise has the curious effect of decreasing insulin sensitivity. It also hampers your body's ability to defend itself against oxidative damage. As noted by Ben Greenfield:9

"By shutting down the body's need to for natural antioxidant activity that helps adapt to stress and respond to exercise, antioxidant consumption in high doses of a single isolated antioxidant (like vitamin C or vitamin E) could potentially blunt the workout benefit.

For this reason, antioxidant beverages and capsules should be A) full spectrum …  and B) consumed only in moderation, and not as a consistent part of the pre-workout or during workout nutrition protocol. Take-Away Message: Take antioxidants with a pre-race meal, and only before very difficult workouts. Otherwise, limit antioxidants to low to moderate intake only, and attempt to consume as far as possible from an exercise session."

Do You Really Need All the Supplements You're Taking?

As a general rule, the better and more wholesome your diet, the fewer supplements you will need. Eating real food, ideally organically grown to avoid pesticide exposure, is really the most appropriate way to ensure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs. Vegetarians and vegans, who may think they're eating the best diet possible, are perhaps among the few who actually have to pay really close attention to their nutritional needs, as many important nutrients are only found in animal foods.

The animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA are just one example. B12 is another really important one that vegans forgo, which can wreak havoc on your health. Over time, chronic B12 deficiency can lead to serious, irreversible conditions, including depression, dementia, neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, fertility problems, heart disease and cancer — all the things a vegan diet is thought to prevent.

That said, dietary supplements can be quite beneficial if you know or suspect you might have a particular deficiency, and/or if you're trying to address a particular health problem. Just keep in mind that the more supplements you take, the more complicated it gets to get it right. Are you taking each one at the most appropriate time and in the correct combination — and in the proper ratio — with other nutrients?

Eating a whole food diet circumvents most of these issues, as your body knows exactly what to do with the nutrients it obtains from food, regardless of the hour or combination (although a case can be made for food combinations and ideal meal times as well). If you're taking handfuls of supplements but still eat mostly processed foods, make this the year you start making changes.

My Nutritional Plan, which is available online free of charge, can guide you through it step-by-step. The money you spend on supplements may provide far greater benefits if spent on real food instead.

That said, to ensure you're getting the most from the supplements you do take, make a list, and check the best timing and combination of each one. While I've given you a few examples above, you'll find more examples in the infographics provided at the beginning of this article, and below.

taking supplements users guide daytime nighttime

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Go Grass Fed Organic — AGA Certified


30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE

By Dr. Mercola

Choosing organic foods is a straightforward way to lower your exposure to pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), but an even better option is to look for foods, particularly meat and dairy, that are organic and grass fed. Cows are designed to eat grass, but the majority of beef and dairy products in the U.S. come from cows that eat corn and grain, perpetuating the unethical, unhealthy and environmentally devastating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that dominate industrial agriculture.

In exchange for cheap meat and dairy, we're paying a hefty price, one that may be infinite in the damage it's causing via pollution and damage to human health. On the other hand, farms producing grass fed meat and dairy products are able to naturally regenerate the soil and maintain ecological balance without relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Meanwhile, grass fed products such as milk and cheese are valued for their seasonal variations in flavor, along with their superior nutritional profile. While the market is still small — labeled grass fed beef makes up just 1 percent of the U.S. beef market — it's growing fast. Sales of labeled grass fed beef reached $272 million in 2016, up from $17 million in 2012 — which means sales have doubled each year.1

Grass Fed Foods Are Better for You

From a health standpoint alone, there's good reason to go organic and grass fed as much as possible. Milk from cows raised primarily on pasture has been shown to be higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene and the healthy fats omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).2 Grass fed beef is better for you too, with CLA levels increasing by two- to threefold when cattle are grass finished as opposed to grain finished.3

This is a significant benefit, as CLA is associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease and optimized cholesterol levels. The ratio of dietary fats is also healthier in grass fed beef. According to Back to Grass: The Market Potential for U.S. Grassfed Beef, a report produced by a collaboration between sustainable agriculture and ecological farming firms:4

"Although the exact physiologic mechanisms behind these benefits are not completely understood, grassfed beef (and dairy) can provide a steady dietary source of CLAs. The optimal ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is believed to be between 1-to-1 and 4-to-1. Seven studies that compared the overall fat content of different beef types found that grassfed beef had an average ratio of 1.53, while grain-fed beef had a less healthy average ratio of 7.6."

Grass fed meat is also higher in antioxidants like vitamins E and A, the report noted, along with the enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase, which mop up free radicals that could otherwise hasten oxidation and spoilage. Grain feeding cows also encourages the growth of E. coli in the animals' gut, as it leads to a more acidic environment. Grain-fed cows live in a state of chronic inflammation, which increases their risk of infection and disease, and necessitates low doses of antibiotics in feed for disease prevention purposes.5

This isn't the case with grass fed cattle, which stay naturally healthy as they're allowed access to pasture, sunshine and the outdoors. In a Consumer Reports study of 300 raw ground beef samples, grass fed beef raised without antibiotics was three times less likely to be contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria compared to conventional (CAFO) samples.6

The grass fed beef was also less likely to be contaminated with E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus than the CAFO meat. So while giving you more nutrition, you're also less likely to be exposed to drug-resistant pathogens when eating grass fed food.

Grass Fed Meat and Dairy Are Better for the Environment

The CAFOs that produce most U.S. meat and dairy are among the top polluters on the planet, for myriad reasons. For starters, there's the massive amounts of manure that collect in CAFO "lagoons," leading to toxic air and water pollution, along with the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides (not to mention water) used to grow the grains that the livestock eat.

U.S. CAFOs produce 500 million tons of manure annually, which is three times the amount of sewage produced by humans. This is far more manure than can be safely applied to farm fields in the U.S.7 In a report released by environmental group Mighty Earth, massive manure and fertilizer pollution churned out by meat giant Tyson Foods is blamed for causing the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance.8

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the area of low oxygen, which can kill marine life, is nearly 9,000 square miles, which is about the size of New Jersey.9 The dead zone is primarily the result of nutrient pollution from agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed. The excess nutrients promote the growth of algae that decomposes, using up oxygen needed to support life.

Mighty Earth singled out Tyson, and another meat giant Smithfield, as top contributors to the dead zone because they have the highest concentration of meat facilities in the areas with the highest levels of nitrate contamination. In addition, Tyson's feed suppliers are responsible for the majority of grassland prairie clearance in the U.S., which "dramatically magnifies the impacts of fertilizer pollution."10 Meanwhile, as reported by Consumer Reports, the very act of feeding livestock grains is also problematic:11

"Turning grain into meat is an inefficient process: It takes 7 kilograms of grain to produce 1 kilogram of beef. As a result, the conventional beef industry consumes vast amounts of corn and soybeans. Those crops require significant amounts of water: It takes about 1,000 tons of water to grow 1 ton of feed. In addition, nonorganic farms use synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetically engineered seed to grow the feed crops, which raises a variety of sustainability concerns."

In contrast, raising animals on pasture using rotational or regenerative grazing approaches can increase soil organic matter, soil fertility and water-holding capacity, while naturally reducing erosion and encouraging crop diversity. Unfortunately, as farmers increasingly plant mostly wheat, rice, soy and corn (including for animal feed), more than 75 percent of crop genetic diversity has disappeared since the 1900s, leaving fields increasingly vulnerable to pests, disease and drought.12

Grass Fed Is More Humane, Tastes Better

To be considered humane, animals should be raised without pain, injury or disease, as well as fear or distress. They should be given proper food and water as well as the ability to express normal behavior. These basic elements of animal welfare are missing from CAFOs, which keep animals confined for long periods of time without adequate space or access to the outdoors. As noted by the "Back to Grass" report:13

"Standing on dirt (or sometimes concrete) flooring, often covered with thick layers of mud and manure, can produce health issues such as foot rot (causing swelling and lameness) and digital dermatitis, a bacterial infection that can also lead to lameness and intense discomfort. In feedlots, antibiotics are used to prevent outbreaks of diseases, which spread easily from animal to animal when livestock are confined in the same area over a long period of time.

Antibiotics are also used in feedlots to prevent acidosis (a spectrum of conditions that arise when the microbes in the rumen ferment the starches in grain feed), which can produce harmful effects ranging from stomach bloat to sudden death."

Animals raised on pasture are healthier, which means they're not routinely fed antibiotics, and are allowed to live out their lives as cows should, grazing and feeling the sun on their backs. It's important to understand, however, that choosing organic doesn't necessarily mean the animals were raised more humanely. Cows produce more milk, faster, when they're fed grain in the barn, as opposed to grazing on grass on pasture.

Industrialized organic dairies are capitalizing on this by skimping on grazing time, raising thousands of cows in veritable CAFOs, yet still gaining the USDA organic label that suggests otherwise. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not doing nearly enough to protect the integrity of its organic label, which is why I encourage you to look for The American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, a much-needed grass fed standards and certification for American-grown grass fed meat and dairy.14

The standard allows for greater transparency and conformity15 and is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations about grass fed dairy, while being feasible for small farmers to achieve.

An AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.16 I strongly encourage you to seek out AGA-certified meat dairy products as they become available. In the Midwest, the Kalona SuperNatural brand was the first dairy brand to become AGA-certified.

Grass fed foods are healthier for you and the planet, and better for the environment, but there's yet another reason to seek them out: their taste. "There is a growing consensus among chefs and gastronomical experts that high-quality grass fed beef not only rivals but is in fact better-tasting than grain-fed beef. It has a 'beefier' and more complex taste," Back to Grass pointed out.17

Returning to Grasslands Is Key

Yet another reason to "go grass fed" is that regenerative agriculture, including converting cornfields back to grasslands and saving natural grasslands that exist, is key to fixing many environmental problems. This type of land management system promotes the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by sequestering it back into the soil where it can do a lot of good. Once in the earth, the CO2 can be safely stored for hundreds of years and actually adds to the soil's fertility.

Unfortunately, since the early 1800s, grasslands in North America have decreased by 79 percent — and in some areas by 99.9 percent.18 This expansion of cropland at the expense of grasslands is tragic, as grasslands are biologically productive and support a wide variety of plant and animal life.19 As Undark explained:20

"Perhaps paradoxically, the expansion of cropland 'may actually be undermining the very agricultural productivity it seeks to gain,' write the authors of … [an] Environmental Review Letters study.

Compared to cropland, grasslands 'harbor significantly greater plant, microbial, and animal diversity, and generate higher levels of nearly all agriculturally vital ecosystem services, including pest suppression and pollination.' To break prairie, then, is to dismantle the very supply chain that underpins American agricultural abundance."

Imports of grass fed beef, which make up 75 percent to 80 percent of U.S. grass fed beef sales by value, are another hurdle. Australia and Brazil can produce grass fed beef at a lower cost, as their climate allows for year-round grazing. U.S. consumers may not know the grass fed beef they purchase isn't from the U.S., however, because as long as a piece of imported beef passes through a USDA-inspected plant, it can be labeled as a "Product of the USA."

As the Back to Grass report put it, accurate labeling is imperative to "ensure that consumers are getting what they think they're buying."21 Not only may you be buying imported beef without knowing it, the grass fed beef you're buying may not be as wholesome as you expect it to be, thanks to weak standards.

This is another reason why looking for the AGA logo on your meat and dairy is important, as it ensures the animals were born and raised on American family farms, fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest, and raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.22

Perhaps you can't do anything about how large-scale industrial farms continue to plow up valuable grasslands, but you can make a difference for yourself, your family and community that might have residual effects. Buying grass fed or pastured animal products, including beef, bison, chicken, milk and eggs, is an excellent start to support both your health and regenerative farming methods that are protecting, not polluting, the planet.




Stay on Top of the Latest Health News and Environmental Issues


By Dr. Mercola




Pesticides Are Found in 85 Percent of Fresh Produce


By Dr. Mercola

Eating fresh produce is essential to staying healthy and warding off chronic disease, but if you purchase conventional varieties, you're probably getting some pesticide residues along with many of your bites.

The health effects of these residues are being debated, but considering the many health risks linked to pesticides — from infertility and birth defects to endocrine disruption, neurological disorders and cancer1 — there's good reason to keep your exposure as low as possible, including opting for organic produce as much as possible.

According to the latest pesticide residue report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which used 2015 data and was released in November 2016, about 85 percent of the more than 10,000 samples they tested contained pesticide residues.2 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also compiled an annual pesticide residue report using 2015 data, which was released in November 2017.3 It, too, showed the majority of U.S. fruits and vegetables are contaminated with pesticide residues.

Most US Produce Contains Pesticide Residues

The FDA's sampling of nearly 6,000 foods revealed that fruits and vegetables are most frequently contaminated with pesticide residues. Notably, 82 percent of domestic fruits and 62 percent of domestic vegetables had such residues, including:4

  • 97 percent of apples
  • 83 percent of grapes
  • 60 percent of tomatoes
  • 57 percent of mushrooms
  • 53 percent of plums

Among imported fruits and vegetables, 57 percent and 47 percent contained residues, respectively, and the imported varieties were more likely to contain illegal levels of pesticide residues compared to the domestic samples. Raising red flags is the fact that the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos was the fourth most-prevalent chemical in the samples out of the more than 200 pesticides detected.5

The chemical, known to disrupt brain development and cause brain damage, neurological abnormalities, reduced IQ and aggressiveness in children, has a half-life on food of several weeks, making nonorganic foods a major source of exposure. The FDA was quick to point out that "over 98 percent of domestic and 90 percent of imported foods were compliant with federal standards," but this isn't saying much if the federal standards are too lax to protect public health.

Former EPA senior scientist and director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, Tracey Woodruff, told Environmental Health News, "Risk assessment practices at federal agencies have not been updated for modern scientific principles, including accounting for the fact that people are exposed to multiple chemicals and that certain groups, such as genetically susceptible, the very young and old can be at greater risk of exposure."6

FOIA Requests Reveal 2,4-D Use Is Expected to Rise

According to Environmental Health News, an internal memo from the FDA, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, estimated the use of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) would increase by threefold in the next year due to the approval of genetically engineered (GE) crops designed to withstand it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of Enlist Duo — an herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemical that combines 2,4-D with Roundup, to be used on corn and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate both 2,4-D and glyphosate — in 2014.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that by 2020, the use of 2,4-D on America's farms could rise between 100 percent and 600 percent now that it has been approved as part of Enlist Duo," the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) stated,7 echoing the FDA's estimate. 2,4-D is one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, which was used to defoliate battlefields in the jungles of Vietnam, with horrendous consequences to the health of those exposed.

It's also a common ingredient in "weed and feed" lawn care products, because it kills weeds without harming grass, fruits or vegetables, the latter of which makes it very popular among farmers. This is concerning because IARC ruled 2,4-D a possible human carcinogen in 2015, and there is concern it may increase the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and soft-tissue cancer known as sarcoma.

Further, it's an endocrine-disrupting chemical that may negatively affect thyroid hormones and brain development. It may also be associated with birth defects, reduced fertility and neurological problems.

How Much Glyphosate Is in Your Food?

One pesticide that's notably missing from the FDA's latest report is glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide worldwide. The agency stated that they completed preliminary testing of soybeans, corn, milk and eggs for glyphosate residues in fiscal year 2017, with plans for "expanded testing to other foods in FY [fiscal year] 2018," however as for what the results have been so far, they've only stated, "Preliminary results for glyphosate testing showed no pesticide residue violations for glyphosate in all four commodities tested (soybeans, corn, milk and eggs)."8

This is again a rather arbitrary point, since in July 2013, right in the midst of mounting questions about glyphosate's safety, the EPA went ahead and raised the allowable limits of glyphosate in both food and feed crops.9 And as reported by Environmental Health News:10

"Neither FDA nor USDA has routinely tested for glyphosate despite the fact it is the world's most widely used herbicide, and testing by academics, consumer groups and other countries has shown residues of the weed killer in food. The FDA said in early 2016 that it planned to start testing for the weed killer, and documents show that one FDA chemist reported finding residues in honey and in oatmeal products, but overall results of the program testing have not been released publicly.

Details of the testing program are being kept secret, and in the documents released by FDA through the FOIA, large blocks of information are blacked out. FDA declined to comment about the status of the glyphosate and 2,4-D testing, including when it might publish some results."

Glyphosate is used in large quantities on GE glyphosate-tolerant crops (i.e., Roundup Ready varieties), and its use increased nearly fifteenfold since 1996.11

Glyphosate is also a popular tool for desiccating (or accelerating the drying out) of crops like wheat and oats, with University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine researchers noting in JAMA that Roundup is "applied as a desiccant to most small nongenetically modified grains." So for both the GE crops and non-GE grains, glyphosate "is found in these crops at harvest."

Glyphosate Linked to Gut Disturbances, Breathing Problems

Concerns over glyphosate's toxicity have been mounting since the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen." But that's not the only problem. Glyphosate is toxic to many microbes as well as to most plants, and one likely effect of chronic low-dose oral exposure to glyphosate is a disruption of the balance among gut microbes toward an overrepresentation of pathogens.

A 2018 study published in Toxicology Reports revealed that long-term exposure to Roundup led to alterations in the gut microbes of rats, specifically altering the firmicutes to bacteroidetes ratio in female rats, such that firmicutes were decreased and bacteroidetes increased.12 This could have implications for how glyphosate contributes to disease, since separate research has found, for instance, that diabetics tend to have fewer firmicutes and more plentiful amounts of bacteroidetes compared to nondiabetics.13

A positive correlation for the ratios of bacteroidetes to firmicutes and reduced glucose tolerance has also been found. Further, other research has linked exposure to pesticides at work with an increased risk of breathing problems, chronic bronchitis and "symptoms that are consistent with airflow obstruction." In fact, people exposed to pesticides at work had a 22 percent increased risk of developing chronic lung disease.14

It's estimated that up to 20,000 farmworkers are poisoned by pesticides each year, although the actual number is likely far higher, as many of the workers may not seek medical care or may be misdiagnosed if they do seek treatment.15 While the FDA drags their feet on getting pertinent information on glyphosate levels in food out to the public, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has revealed that nearly 30 percent of the more than 3,000 foods they tested contain glyphosate.16

This included nearly 37 percent of grain products, 47 percent of bean/pea/lentil products and more than 30 percent of infant food and cereal. Even 7 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables contained the residues.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. researchers tested urine levels of glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) among 100 people living in Southern California over a period of 23 years — from 1993 to 2016.17 At the start of the study, very few of the participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, but by 2016, 70 percent of them did.

The prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased by 500 percent during the study period while actual levels of the chemical, in ug/ml, increased by a shocking 1,208 percent. If you'd like to know your personal glyphosate levels, you can now find out. The Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your own exposure to this toxic herbicide, while also participating in a worldwide study on environmental glyphosate exposures.

Going Organic Can Reduce Your Pesticide Exposure

Eating nonorganic GE foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body.18 A study of close to 4,500 people in the U.S. also found that those who "often or always" ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.19

So choosing organic foods as much as possible is an important way to lower your exposure to pesticides and, in fact, avoiding pesticides is the No. 1 reason why people go organic.20 Not only do these chemicals pose a direct risk to human health, including to developing babies,21 but they also threaten the Earth as we know it. Glyphosate residues of 653 parts per billion (ppb) have even been detected in some honey samples — an amount that's more than 10 times the European limit of 50 ppb.22

Bees, as pollinators, travel from plant to plant. With grasslands being increasingly converted into GE corn and soybean fields where glyphosate and other pesticides are amply sprayed, it's easy for them to become contaminated and then transfer that contamination to their honey. Research published in the journal Nature Communications has similarly revealed that pollen collected next to corn fields is contaminated with up to 32 different pesticides.23

At this point, the effects of these chemical exposures on bees and other pollinators is unknown, but common sense would indicate that they can't be good. So remember that you are actually "voting" for less pesticides and herbicides with every organic and grass fed food and consumer product you buy. In addition, it doesn't have to be "all or nothing" — going 100 percent organic is ideal, but every organic purchase you make helps.

If you must choose between which products to purchase organic, I recommend prioritizing organic animal foods and then using the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" list for produce, which are among the most heavily contaminated with pesticides and therefore the most important plant foods to buy organic. As of 2017, these include:24

Strawberries

Spinach

Nectarines

Apples

Peaches

Pears

Cherries

Grapes

Celery

Tomatoes

Sweet bell peppers

Potatoes

For the nonorganic produce you consume, washing with a solution of baking soda may help to remove some of the pesticides on the surface of the fruit or vegetable,25 although it won't remove chemical residues that have penetrated beyond the peel.

Peeling is another option to reduce pesticide residue, but this also means you're removing the healthy compounds contained in the peel (and there can still be residues that have penetrated into the produce flesh). For these reasons, the best way to avoid pesticide residues in your food is to choose those that haven't been exposed to them to begin with, i.e., go organic.




Is Fermented Blueberry the Most Powerful Tonic?


By Dr. Mercola

Blueberries are often called a "superfood," and for good reason. They are packed with antioxidants that help your body keep free radicals in check and fight inflammation. Along with other berries, blueberries are among your best dietary sources of bioactive compounds like anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol. Furthermore, blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins K1, C and B6, as well as manganese and fiber.

While the benefits of the whole berry are well-known — particularly as it relates to antiaging, blood sugar, heart disease and vision health — research suggests fermented blueberries may be even more potent and beneficial. In animal studies, fermented blueberry juice has been shown to help with memory loss, cancer, diabetes and obesity. The research suggests cultured blueberry juice is a powerful tonic worthy of your time and attention.

Can Blueberry Vinegar Help With Memory Loss?

According to Alzheimer's Disease International,1 an estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia, and more than 9.9 million new cases are diagnosed annually. Assuming the rate of incidence continues to rise, 75 million people are expected to suffer from dementia by 2030. These statistics underscore the need for new and better treatment strategies for cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

A study2,3 published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry involving lab mice with amnesia suggests blueberry vinegar, which is produced by fermenting fresh blueberries, effectively improves short-term memory. After having amnesia induced through a drug called scopolamine, the mice were given either 120 milligrams per kilogram (mg per kg) of blueberry vinegar or 120 mg per kg of blueberry extract every day for a week. Researchers noted the following results in the mice given blueberry vinegar:

  • A reduction in the breakdown of acetylcholine in their brains, which is significant because people with Alzheimer's disease generally have low levels of acetylcholine, and blocking acetylcholine receptors is known to disrupt learning and memory
  • An increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein known for its role in nerve cell growth and maintenance

Fermentation Boosts Bioactive Benefits

While previous research highlighted natural compounds (such as those in blueberries) as beneficial in helping reduce dementia-related memory loss, the current work emphasizes the role fermentation plays in increasing their bioactivity. The study authors said, "Fermented products, such as vinegar, might act to preserve the phenolic compounds that are easily oxidized during food processing and that are impacted by factors such as maturity, storage and processing."4

The mice consuming blueberry vinegar performed better on the two tests used to check their memory. Based on the outcomes, the researchers stated, "These findings also strongly suggest blueberry vinegar could be a useful functional material or food to provide the neuroprotective action against oxidative damage in hippocampal tissue."5

More research is needed to confirm the usefulness of blueberry vinegar with respect to memory problems in people with dementia. Along those lines, judging blueberry vinegar to be less risky than taking toxic dementia drugs, the Los Angeles Times commented:6

"Drugs that stop the breakdown of acetylcholine have been invented, but are deemed unsafe for regular use. They don't last very long, and excess consumption could be toxic to the liver. Blueberry vinegar, however, seemed to have a similar effect without any of the drawbacks of the dangerous drugs.

Researchers agree further testing is necessary before people start rushing to buy the fermented fruits; but since there's really no drawback … blueberry vinegar could be a great superfood for boosting your brain health as you age.

[S]o if you're crafting your own [vinaigrette] or looking for a healthy way to dress your salad, blueberry vinegars could be a great ingredient. No food has yet been found that can fully reverse cognitive decline, but it's comforting to know there are some memory-boosting foods out there."

Fermented Blueberry Juice Shown to Have Antidiabetic Effects

Animal research suggests cultured blueberry drinks may also be effective in preventing diabetes and obesity. In one such study,7 researchers at the University of Illinois developed an alcohol-free blueberry-blackberry "wine" and tested its antidiabetic effects on lab mice on a high-fat diet. Specifically, scientists wanted to see if the phenolic compounds from the fermented berry beverage would reduce diet-induced obesity and hyperglycemia in the mice.

Earlier on, the team had found berries fermented at low temperatures produced higher concentrations of anthocyanins — phenolic flavonoid pigments that give them their bright colors. Anthocyanins are known to increase insulin sensitivity, decrease blood glucose levels and promote insulin secretion.

About the results, Elvira de Mejia, Ph.D., professor of food science, University of Illinois, stated:8 "We saw a reduction of glucose in the blood … markers of inflammation went down too. That's very, very, important. With obesity, less fat means less inflammation and less oxidative stress."

Research9,10 featured in the International Journal of Obesity made use of a "biotransformed" blueberry juice fermented using Serratia vaccinia, a bacterium found on the fruit's skin. Lab mice, previously bred to be leptin-resistant, which predisposed them to diabetes, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity, were treated with either the fermented juice or regular blueberry juice for three days.

"Consumption of fermented blueberry juice gradually and significantly reduced high blood glucose levels in diabetic mice," said lead study author Tri Vuong. "After three days, our mice subjects reduced their glycemia levels by 35 percent."11

Notably, compared to the control group, the mice drinking the fermented juice ate less and gained less weight. "Results of this study clearly show biotransformed blueberry juice has strong anti-obesity and antidiabetic potential," stated senior author Pierre Haddad, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, University of Montreal.12

A 2017 study13 published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine sought to isolate the active compounds within fermented blueberry juice believed to contribute to its antidiabetic activity. Overall, catechol was found to be the most notable of the compounds discovered. As noted by the authors:

"[T]he results of this study confirmed that fermentation of blueberry juice confers it antidiabetic potential in liver and skeletal muscle cells through the regulation of key hepatic enzymes implicated in gluconeogenesis and glycogen synthesis, and the enhancement of skeletal muscle glucose uptake.

Using a phytochemical fractionation approach, we now demonstrate that this activity resides principally in phenolic fractions and can be attributed, at least in part, to chlorogenic acid, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid and catechol."

Blueberry Extract Shown to Kill Toxic Cervical and Mammary Cells

A study presented in Pathology and Oncology Research14,15 reflects the usefulness of blueberry extract in the fight against cancer, particularly with respect to cervical cancer. Researchers have discovered adding blueberry extract to radiation therapy can significantly improve the efficacy of the treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society,16 more than 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year in the U.S., and nearly 4,200 American women will die of the disease. Radiation therapy continues to be the primary treatment method for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, the high-energy radiation used to eradicate the cancer cells also damages healthy cells in the process.

Lead author Dr. Yujiang Fang, Ph.D., academic pathologist and assistant professor, department of microbiology and immunology, Des Moines University, Iowa, and his team sought to determine whether blueberry extract could be used as a radiosensitizer — a compound useful for making cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation. Previously, Fang and his colleagues found resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine, to be effective in sensitizing prostate cancer cells to radiation.17

In the current study, blueberry extract was tested alone and in combination with radiation therapy. The extract alone reduced cancer cells by 25 percent, whereas radiation alone decreased cancer cells by just 20 percent.

However, when blueberry extract and radiation were combined, the number of cancer cells dropped by about 70 percent. As such, Fang believes not only does blueberry extract make cervical cancer cells more responsive to radiation, but it may also reduce abnormal cell growth that fuels cancer development. "Along with reducing cell proliferation, the extract also 'tricks' cancer cells into dying," Fang said.18

Another study,19 detailed in the Journal of Translational Medicine, evaluated the effects of a fermented blueberry drink on breast cancer stem cell development using lab mice.

The researchers stated that polyphenol enrichment of blueberry juice through fermentation "increases its chemopreventive potential by protecting mice against tumor development, inhibiting the formation of cancer stem cells and reducing lung metastasis." As such, it is believed a fermented blueberry drink may represent an alternative medicine therapy in the treatment of breast cancer.

Other Health Benefits Associated With Blueberries

A 1-cup serving of blueberries provides the following percentages of your recommended dietary allowance of:20

  • Vitamin K1: 36 percent
  • Vitamin C: 24 percent
  • Vitamin B6: 5 percent
  • Manganese: 25 percent
  • Fiber: 14 percent (3.6 grams)

Blueberries also contain decent amounts of vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin) and E, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. In addition to their vitamin and mineral content, the phytonutrients in blueberries provide important health benefits.

Blueberries pack tremendous antioxidant power, which helps your body keep free radicals in check and fight inflammation. Along with other berries such as cranberries and strawberries, blueberries are among the best dietary sources of bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol. Studies indicate blueberries reduce your risk of:21,22,23

  • Cancer: Besides cervical cancer, blueberries have been shown to be effective in the fight against cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus and small intestine, most likely due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Eye problems: The antioxidants in blueberries are also known to help prevent or delay age-related eye problems and vision loss, including cataracts, dryness, infections, macular degeneration and myopia
  • Excessive aging: Due to their high antioxidant content, blueberries can help reduce the signs of aging such as age spots, hair loss and wrinkles
  • High blood sugar: Results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies,24 involving more than 187,000 participants, concluded greater consumption of specific whole fruits, such as blueberries, is significantly associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Urinary tract infections: Blueberries and cranberries contain an antioxidant called epicatechin, known to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the lining of your bladder that causes urinary tract infections

Blueberries Help Protect Your Heart

Blueberries are well-known for helping protect your heart and lower your blood pressure. Past research has revealed women ages 25 to 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries (and strawberries) per week had a 32 percent lower risk of having a heart attack.25 Anthocyanins are the primary agents responsible for protecting your heart, and they are particularly known to benefit the endothelial lining of your circulatory system, possibly preventing plaque buildup in your arteries, as well as promoting healthy blood pressure.

Other research has shown these antioxidants to protect against heart disease by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, while enhancing capillary strength and inhibiting platelet formation.26

A study27 involving postmenopausal women suggests blueberry consumption positively affects blood pressure. The participants, suffering from either prehypertension or hypertension, received a placebo powder or freeze-dried blueberry powder equivalent to about 1 cup of fresh berries daily for eight weeks. Despite no significant changes in the placebo group, the women supplementing with blueberries realized a 5 to 6 percent drop in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings.

Make Your Own Blueberry Vinegar

As demonstrated in the video above, you can easily make blueberry vinegar at home using just three ingredients: 1 cup of fresh blueberries, 2 cups of vinegar and sweetener equivalent to 2 tablespoons sugar. For the best results, be sure to use organic ingredients. Blueberry vinegar is useful as a salad dressing or marinade, especially for fish.

While Blueberries Are Beneficial, Watch Your Total Fructose Intake

Although blueberries are undoubtedly a healthy food, you will want to moderate your intake of them. One cup of blueberries contains approximately 15 grams of fructose. My standard advice is to keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including fructose from fruit. If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or insulin resistance, you'd be wise to restrict your fructose to 15 grams or less per day until your condition improves.

Also keep in mind that blueberries are on the Environmental Working Group's list of 48 fruits and vegetables containing higher amounts of pesticide residue.28 Both domestic and imported blueberries sold within the U.S. are sprayed with toxic pesticides, so be sure to buy organic.




Weekly Health Quiz: Tea, Gardens and Mouthwash


1 It is currently believed that EMF exposure causes a chain reaction of what type of metabolic process that is believed to be responsible for most of the bodily effects of EMF radiation, including damage to your mitochondria:

  • Excess oxidative stress

    Notably, it is the excess calcium in the cell and increased calcium signaling that are responsible for a vast majority of the biological effects of EMFs. Learn more.

  • Disruption of the blood-brain barrier
  • Red blood cell and bone marrow disruption
  • Fatty liver disease

2 The No. 1 reason why people choose to buy organic is to:

  • Avoid pesticides

    Choosing organic foods lowers your exposure to pesticides linked to cancer, damage to children's IQ and neurobehavioral development and other health problems. Learn more.

  • Support small farmers
  • Cut back on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Support more humane treatment of animals

3 For a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened soda that's more flavorful than pure water, choose:

  • Diet soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Sports drink
  • Hibiscus tea

    Unlike soda, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and premature death even in low daily amounts, hibiscus tea is high in vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants, and studies suggest it may protect your health in a number of ways. Learn more.

4 Which of the following is an example of a digestive-resistant starch?

  • Unripe banana

    Digestive-resistant starch, found in chilled, cooked potatoes and unripe banana, are low-viscous dietary fibers that does not break down as it travels through your digestive tract. By slowly fermenting in your large intestine, they feed gut bacteria that support optimal health. Learn more.

  • Uncooked potato
  • Pickled mushrooms
  • Fermented vegetables

5 While gardens have many benefits, the most important reason you should plant one (especially given the many issues associated with industrial agriculture) is:

  • Growing your own food is one of the most cost-effective means of boosting your nutrition and health
  • Gardens help create a more sustainable global food system, giving more people access to fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food

    While gardens have many benefits, the most important reason you should plant a garden (especially given the many issues associated with industrial agriculture) is because gardening helps create a more sustainable global food system, giving you and others access to fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food. Learn more.

  • Gardening is a great form of exercise, benefiting your physical and emotional well-being
  • Gardens prevent soil degradation and encourage biodiversity

6 Which of the following health problems has been linked to twice-a-day use of mouthwash?

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes

    A well-balanced oral microbiome is important for optimal health. Twice-daily use of mouthwash has also been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes — an effect thought to be due to its antimicrobial activity. Learn more.

  • Heart disease
  • Throat cancer

7 Which of the following is the most widely used pesticide in the world?

  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Atrazine
  • Dicamba
  • Glyphosate

    Monsanto has created global pesticide dependence using very strategic schemes, turning glyphosate into the most widely used pesticide in the world. Learn more.


 
     
 

 
     
 

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