Archive for March, 2015

It’s 1 1/2 hours long, but well worth your time…

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“The Whiter The Bread, The Sooner You’re Dead.”


It has been known for a long time that white bread and refined grains in general aren’t particularly nutritious.

Nutritionists and dietitians all around the world have encouraged us to eat whole grains instead. But grains, especially gluten grains like wheat, have been under intense scrutiny in recent years.

Many respected health professionals now claim that bread and other sources of gluten grains are unnecessary at best and potentially harmful.

Bread is High in Carbs and Can Spike Blood Sugar Levels

Even whole grain bread usually isn’t made out of actual “whole” grains.

They are grains that have been pulverized into very fine flour. Even though this process reserves the nutrients, it causes these products to be digested rapidly. The starches in bread get broken down quickly in the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream as glucose.

This causes a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Even whole wheat bread spikes blood sugar faster than many candy bars. When blood sugar goes up rapidly, it tends to go down just as quickly. When blood sugar goes down, we become hungry.

This is the blood sugar roller coaster that is familiar to people on high carb diets. Soon after eating, they become hungry again, which calls for another high-carb snack. Elevated blood sugars can also cause glycation at the cellular level when the blood sugars react with proteins in the body.

This is one of the components of ageing. Studies on carb restricted diets (which eliminate/reduce starches and sugars) suggest that individuals who are diabetic or need to lose weight should avoid ALL grains.

Bottom Line: Most breads are made of pulverized wheat. They are easily digested and rapidly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead to the notorious blood sugar “roller coaster” and stimulate overeating.

Bread Contains a Lot of Gluten

Wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten. This protein has glue-like properties (hence the name gluten) responsible for dough’s viscoelastic properties. Evidence is mounting that a significant percentage of the population is sensitive to gluten. When we eat bread that contains gluten (wheat, spelt, rye and barley), the immune system in our digestive tract “attacks” the gluten proteins.

Controlled trials in people without celiac disease show that gluten damages the wall of the digestive tract, causing pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness. Gluten sensitivity is also associated with some cases of schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia – both serious disorders of the brain.

Gluten is probably harmful for most people, not just those with diagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The only way to really know if you’re gluten sensitive is to remove gluten from your diet for 30 days and then reintroduce it and see whether it affects you.

Bottom Line: Most breads are made of gluten grains. Gluten causes an immune response in the digestive tract of susceptible individuals. This can cause digestive issues, pain, bloating, tiredness and other symptoms.


Bread Contains Other Harmful Substances

Most commercial types of bread contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup, just like other processed foods. Sugar causes many adverse effects and eating processed foods that contain it is likely to have detrimental effects on health. Most grains also include the “anti nutrient” phytic acid.

Phytic acid is a molecule that strongly binds essential minerals like calcium, iron and zinc, preventing them from being absorbed. Soaking grains before baking can degrade the phytic acid, which should improve the availability of minerals.

Bottom Line: Most breads contain sugar, which is extremely bad for you. They also contain “anti nutrients” that block the absorption of minerals like calcium, iron and zinc.

Bread is Low in Essential Nutrients

There is NO nutrient in bread that you can’t get from other foods in even greater amounts.

Even whole wheat bread isn’t as nutritious as you may think. Not only is it low in nutrients compared to other real foods, it literally reduces the absorption of nutrients from other foods.

> Calorie for calorie, whole grain breads contain a low amount of nutrients compared to real foods like vegetables.

> The physic acid blocks absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium.

> By damaging the intestinal lining, gluten decreases the absorption of all nutrients.

> Grains do not contain all the essential amino acids and are therefore poor sources of protein for humans.

> Wheat fiber may cause your body to burn through its Vitamin D stores much faster and contribute to vitamin d deficiency, which is associated with cancer, diabetes and death.

Bottom Line: Most breads aren’t very nutritious and the proteins in them aren’t of much use. A damaged intestinal lining along with phytic acid reduces availability of nutrients. Wheat may also exacerbate vitamin d deficiency.


Whole Wheat Raises The Bad Cholesterol

In one study, 36 men were randomized into two groups. They were instructed to eat either whole oat cereal or whole wheat cereal. After 12 weeks, the researchers measured blood lipid levels in both groups. The oat cereal decreased LDL cholesterol and small, dense LDL.

Basically, whole oats significantly improved the blood lipid profile. However, the whole wheat cereal increased total LDL cholesterol by 8% and small, dense LDL by a whopping 60%. Small, dense LDL is the type of cholesterol that is strongly associated with heart disease.

What this means is that whole wheat significantly harms blood lipids and may drastically raise your risk of heart disease. Yes, that slice of “heart-healthy” whole wheat bread may be killing you.

Bottom Line: Eating not-so-“heart healthy” whole wheat may raise small, dense LDL cholesterol by a whopping 60%. This type of cholesterol is strongly associated with heart disease.

Whole Wheat is Just “Less Bad” Than Refined Wheat

It is true that whole grain breads are better for you than breads made with refined grains. They contain more nutrients and fiber. However, they’re just the lesser of two evils. It’s like comparing unfiltered cigarettes to filtered cigarettes. Filtered cigarettes are less harmful, but that does not make them healthy.

If you really must include bread in your life, then there are some options that aren’t quite as bad. Bread made with soaked and sprouted grains may be less bad for you than regular bread. Preparing it this way reduces the amount of phytic acid.

Ezekiel bread, for example, is made of sprouted grains. This probably makes it less unhealthy than other breads. Gluten-free breads may also be healthier than those made with gluten grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley.

Bottom Line: Whole grain breads are better for you than breads made with refined grains, but the best option is no bread at all. Breads made with soaked and sprouted grains may be less unhealthy.

Take Home Message

Anyone who needs to lose weight, has digestive issues or is somehow affected by the western diet should eliminate bread and other sources of gluten grains.

If a damaged intestinal wall, blood sugar roller coaster, bloating, tiredness and a 60% increase in small, dense LDL isn’t a good enough reasons to quit eating bread, then I don’t know what is.

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The Truth about Myopia

The problem is endemic of many areas of Western medicine where chronic rather than acute symptoms are to be dealt with. Acute symptoms are increasingly effectively resolved, while chronic ailments are simply medicated with very questionable long term results.

One such area, widely ignored when it comes to massive health epidemics of recent times, is myopia. Many people don’t even know the term, which simply refers to shortsightedness of the eye. Glasses, contact lenses, and laser surgery are the current status quo of managing this particular chronic symptom.

Interestingly enough, myopia barely even existed, statistically speaking, till the later part of last century. The world has quickly seen the rise of myopia into a staggering billion affected people, faster and more prevalent than just about any modern disease.

And yet, nothing notable is being done to prevent, understand, or even cure this particular eyesight disease. One must ask, why?

First, when asking most optometrists or even ophthalmologists, the answers aren’t very helpful. Genetics are often blamed, though this makes no sense for such a sudden onset of a global epidemic.

In his recent book, The Story of the Human Body, Daniel Lieberman (the chief of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University), had this to say about myopia: “Nearsightedness is a complex trait caused by many interactions among a large number of genes and multiple environmental factors. However, since people’s genes haven’t changed much in the last few centuries, the recent worldwide epidemic of myopia must result primarily from environmental shifts.”

Indeed, once one digs further into the subject, the wide rift between retail sales optometry and ophthalmology, and the science faction become very apparent. There are the subjects of NITM (near-induced transient myopia) which defines almost all early stages of myopia, which take up thousands of pages on Google Scholar. It becomes quickly apparent that indeed science knows where myopia comes from, that it is indeed environmental, and even transient (ie. temporary). It isn’t until the retail medicine comes into play, medicating a temporary symptom into a permanent and progressive illness, that we find lens-induced myopia, an equally prolific subject in the science community.

An equal amount of telling data is available from the other side, the one that tells us myopia is mysterious and unknowable, and sells millions of lens prescriptions annually. The rapid multi billion dollar annual growth in stock valuations of all the world’s largest lens manufacturers is difficult to reconcile in ways other than simply a ride on the wave of the myopia the industry themselves create.

Industry publications like the British Journal of Opthalmology have this to say about the money grab that happens at the expensive of our eyesight:

“Ophthalmologists should also recognise and take up the challenge of preventing or curing myopia by addressing its cause and not simply treating the consequences.”

This is bold indeed from a veteran publication that relies heavily on the sponsorship of the very industry whose practices it questions. When even the most entrenched industry journals politely hint that an alternative course of action would be appropriate, how can the public remain so well shielded from the myopia-for-profit reality?

Of course there are legitimate alternatives. Behavioral ophthalmology requires the same extensive schooling as all ophthalmology specializations, and yet remains heavily derided in public discourse. Wikipedia editors are rumored to have been paid off to write mind bogglingly slanderous “definitions” of the practice, which makes the mistake of questioning the status quo of permanent prescriptions as the only treatment.

Can we ever change course, or are we resigned to the 90% myopia incidences that are today’s reality among school children in countries like South Korea?

Only time can tell. If stock prices are any indication though, it’s profits before health, the mantra we should have come to expect from retail medicine.

Author: Neha Gupta is a holistic ophthalmology practitioner, in private practice for the past 14 years. Her speciality is myopia prevention and rehabilitation, and light therapy for vision related illness. Her writings related to topics of improving eyesight through rehabilitation can be found online at http://www.frauenfeldclinic.com

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Most people probably live under the assumption that their place of dwelling is a safe haven from all the dangers that lurk “out there.” But little do they know that many common household products contain deadly chemicals that are known to cause cancer, reproductive harm, birth defects and other health damage. Here’s six of the most popular categories to avoid for the safety of you and your family:

1) Air fresheners. They’re a staple in many American households, but conventional air fresheners are a hotbed of poisonous substances that could leave you and your loved ones infertile, brain-damaged or chronically ill. Tests conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that most air fresheners contain phthalates, which among other things interfere with male hormone production.

Most air fresheners are also loaded with other cancer-causing volatile organic compounds as well, which interfere with reproduction, respiration and cellular regeneration. A 2008 study conducted by Anne Steinemann at the University of Washington found that all air fresheners tested emitted chemicals known to be carcinogenic, meaning they cause cancer.

Instead of toxic commercial air fresheners, stick with all-natural essential oils, which can be applied to the skin or released into the air from a diffuser.

2) Candles. Similar to commercial air fresheners, many scented candles are also toxic. A study pioneered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that nearly half of all scented candles on the market contain lead wiring in their wicks, which is released into the air upon burning. This lead might make the wicks more stable, but it also leads to hormone disruption, behavioral disorders and various other health problems.

Many candles are also made of paraffin wax which, when burned, generates two highly toxic compounds, benzene and toluene, both of which are carcinogenic. Artificial fragrances and dyes are also present in many scented candles, which when burned end up in your lungs.

3) Art supplies. Cultural enrichment and creativity are both positive aspirations in life, but not when they involve many conventional art supplies. Many of the epoxy materials, glues, acrylic paints and solvents, drawing utensils and other supplies used to create art contain chemicals linked to allergies, organ damage and cancer.

The federal Labeling Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA) requires that all art supplies sold in the U.S. bear warnings if they cause any acute hazards. But manufacturers are not required to provide an ingredients list, which is why it is recommended that users of such supplies purchase only products that are certified by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI).

ACMI-certified products undergo rigorous evaluations by independent toxicologists to make sure that they are safe for everyone, including small children.

4) Shampoos and conditioners. Toxins in cosmetics is a huge issue today, with many conventional consumer products — including some labeled as “natural” or “organic” — containing ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate that generate cancer-causing byproducts when used. Other carcinogenic additives commonly used in hair care products include polyethylene glycol (PEG) and cocamide DEA.

Safe Cosmetics has put together a list of the safest and most eco-friendly shampoos on the market, which are free of most or all of the chemicals listed in its “Skin Deep” database, which you can access here:

5) Antiperspirant deodorants. Millions of people use them daily to cover up foul body odor and reduce armpit perspiration. But antiperspirant deodorants are a no-go if you want to avoid chemicals like aluminum chlorohydrate, which can absorb directly into the skin and promote the formation of breast cancer. Aluminum from antiperspirants is also believed to contribute to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Other toxic additives in antiperspirant deodorants include parabens, a class of artificial preservatives that mimics estrogen in the body and promotes the growth of cancer cells. Parabens are also linked to gastrointestinal damage, nausea and central nervous system depression.

6) Shower curtains. They might help prevent water from spraying all over the floor, but your average plastic shower curtain acts something like a radiator for toxic chemical release. Many shower curtains, it turns out, off-gas harmful chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are known to damage the respiratory tract, central nervous system, liver and kidneys.

If your shower curtain has that unique “new shower curtain smell,” it is likely releasing deadly chemicals — potentially upwards of 108 different VOCs, in fact — that are harming you and your children. For this reason, it is important to stick with only non-toxic, PVC-free shower curtains made without these harmful chemicals.

Some of the best options include shower curtains made from hemp, linen, birch, organic cotton or PEVA, which you can learn more about here:

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