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Nobody wants to think about consuming feces in their chicken or steak dinner, but trace amounts of fecal contamination are a reality that exists in store-bought meat. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture states they have a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to fecal matter in meat,1 this only applies to feces that can be seen by workers on inspection lines.

These inspectors may view up to 175 chickens in a minute — far too many to catch every speck of poop that may be there.2 There’s an obvious yuck factor there, but in addition feces can contain E. coli and other pathogens that can make you sick.

With foodborne diseases causing 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year,3 it’s time the USDA stepped up to keep consumers safe, but so far they’re dodging responsibility instead.

USDA refuses to take action against poop in food

A 2011 study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found 48% of the 120 chicken products tested (obtained from 15 grocery chains in 10 U.S. cities) were contaminated with E. coli, commonly found in feces,4 prompting PCRM to state “chicken should carry feces warning labels”:5

“Who cares, the chicken industry says. If the feces are adequately cooked, any germs they harbor will be killed.

But feces may contain round worms, hair worms, tape worms, along leftover bits of whatever insects or larvae the chickens have eaten, not to mention the usual fecal components of digestive juices and various chemicals that the chicken was in the process of excreting.

Given the widespread nature of this disgusting problem, consumers deserve fair notice. It’s time for every package of supermarket chicken to carry a sticker that says, ‘Warning: May Contain Feces.’”

In response to the sickening findings, PCRM petitioned the USDA in 2013, requesting the USDA regulate feces as an adulterant under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act.6

In its petition for rulemaking, the PCRM argued that the USDA’s standard of “no visible feces” is woefully inadequate and would be considered “disgusting by the average consumer.” According to PCRM, fecal bacteria really should be regulated as an adulterant.

The USDA failed to respond not only to the PCRM’s 2013 petition but also to a 2017 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, in which the physicians group sought “documentation of fecal contamination rates detected in poultry slaughter plants and other data related to poultry inspection and slaughter line speed.”7

The failure to respond prompted PCRM to file a lawsuit against the USDA over the fecal contamination issue, but the agency is still refusing to take action.

USDA says it won’t take action to get feces out of your food

In June 2019, the USDA announced they would not be taking further action to address concerns over feces in poultry and meat, again clinging to the rationale that fecal contamination is only a “visible defect.” According to PCRM:8

“USDA conceded that bacteria commonly found in feces are routinely present on meat and chicken products. USDA also agreed that the ‘presence of E. coli and other enteric bacteria on meat or poultry products indicates that the bacteria is likely associated with the intestinal tract.’

Nevertheless, USDA claimed that products containing these bacteria are not actually contaminated because, USDA argued, ‘fecal contamination is a visible defect’ only.”

The lawsuit, however, is still pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It quotes a federal inspector who spoke about a “fecal soup” often seen during the poultry slaughtering process:9

“We often see birds going down the line with intestines still attached, which are full of fecal contamination. If there is no fecal contamination on the bird’s skin, however, we can do nothing to stop that bird from going down that line.

It is more than reasonable to assume that once the bird gets into the chill tank (a large vat of cold water), that contamination will enter the water and contaminate all of the other carcasses in the chiller. That’s why it is sometimes called ‘fecal soup.’”

In a 2013 FOIA request, PCRM obtained a USDA training video that also revealed chicken carcasses soaking in such water for up to one hour — right before getting packaged for consumers.10

“Since the agency is dodging its responsibility, consumers should protect themselves from fecal contamination by avoiding chicken and other meat products,” Deborah Dubow Press, associate general counsel for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said in a news release.11

Fecal contamination widespread in beef

Rather than avoiding all meat products, another option is to avoid conventional meat products raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), favoring grass fed animal products instead.

Consumer Reports tested the prevalence of bacteria in different types of ground beef. They purchased 300 packages of beef from 103 stores (including grocery, big box and natural food stores) in 26 U.S. cities and analyzed them for the presence of five types of disease-causing bacteria:12

The bacteria were further tested to reveal whether antibiotic resistance was present. The results revealed:13

  • 100% of the ground beef samples contained bacteria associated with fecal contamination (enterococcus and/or nontoxin-producing E. coli). In humans, these bacteria can cause blood or urinary tract infections
  • Nearly 20% contained Clostridium perfringens, bacteria responsible for an estimated 1 million cases of food poisoning each year in the U.S.
  • 10% contained a toxin-producing strain of Staphylococcus aureus, which cannot be destroyed even with thorough cooking
  • One% contained salmonella, which is responsible for an estimated 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. each year
  • Three of the conventional samples had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); none of the sustainably raised beef samples contained MRSA

Conventional beef more likely to contain fecal bacteria

Notably, CAFO beef was not only more likely to be contaminated with bacteria but also to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria than more sustainably raised meat, especially grass fed. According to Consumer Reports:14

“At a minimum, sustainably produced beef was raised without antibiotics. Even better are organic and grass-fed methods. Organic cattle are not given antibiotics or other drugs, and they are fed organic feed. Grass-fed cattle usually don’t get antibiotics, and they spend their lives on pasture, not feedlots.”

The study found 18% of conventional beef samples were contaminated with bacteria that were resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics; however, only 9% of sustainably produced beef contained resistant bacteria. As for grass fed, only 6% contained resistant superbugs.

Not only is choosing organic, grass fed animal products better for the environment, it’s also safer for your health. Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Food Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports, is among those who recommend choosing “grass fed organic beef” as much as possible:

“The most sustainable beef production systems don’t rely on any daily drugs, don’t confine animals and do allow them to eat a natural diet … Our findings show that more sustainable can mean safer meat,” he said.15

To find grass fed meat, the most dependable source is meat certified by the American Grassfed Association (AGA), which ensures animals were born and raised on American family farms, fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest, have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics, and raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.

Rodent hairs, mold and insect fragments allowed in your food

It’s safe to assume that there could be unlabeled, nonfood ingredients in some of your favorite food products. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re harmful, but some, like insect parts, are certainly unappealing, and others, like rodent hair and mold, possibly could be harmful.

The U.S. FDA allows certain levels of “natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no health hazard.” According to the FDA, “The FDA set these action levels because it is economically impractical to grow, harvest or process raw products that are totally free of nonhazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”16

The FDA’s Food Defect Levels Handbook reveals what “natural or unavoidable defects” are allowable in your food, some of which may surprise you. The handbook sets "Food Defect Action Levels,” above which a food is considered adulterated. This means anything below the action level is fair game:17

Berries — Average mold count is 60% or more

Frozen broccoli — Average of 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 grams; Average of 10 or more whole insects or equivalent per 500 grams (excluding thrips, aphids and mites)

Ground cinnamon — Average of 400 or more insect fragments per 50 gram; Average of 11 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams

Chocolate — Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined; Any one subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments; Any one subsample contains three or more rodent hairs

Cocoa beans — More than 4% of beans by count are moldy; More than 4% of beans by count are insect-infested including insect-damaged; Average of 10 mg or more mammalian excreta per pound

Cranberry sauce — Average mold count is more than 15%; The mold count of any one subsample is more than 50%

Canned mushrooms — Average of over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid or 15 grams of dried mushrooms; Average of more than 10% of mushrooms are decomposed

Frozen or canned peaches — Average of 3% or more fruit by count are wormy or moldy; In 12 1-pound cans or equivalent, one or more larvae and/or larval fragments whose aggregate length exceeds 5 millimeters

Strawberries — Average mold count of 45% or more and mold count of at least half of the subsamples is 55% or more

Tomato catsup — Average mold count in 6 subsamples is 55% or more

Wheat flour — Average of 75 or more insect fragments per 50 grams; Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams

How to find the ‘cleanest’ food around

To find the safest sources of food, choose those being raised according to organic, grass fed and regenerative farming practices. This means avoiding CAFO animal products, which make up the majority of those sold at conventional grocery stores, and instead choosing those raised by grass fed farmers and using the AGA certified logo.

Another good option is biodynamically grown food. Biodynamic farming is organic by nature, but it goes even further, operating on the premise that the farm be entirely self-sustaining. In the U.S., biodynamic farms use the USDA organic standard as a foundation but have additional requirements, encompassing the principles of regenerative agriculture and more.

You can grow some of your own food as well, which can supplement your other natural food sources. As for potential contamination in your meat, Rangan said, “There’s no way to tell by looking at a package of meat or smelling it whether it has harmful bacteria or not … You have to be on guard every time.”18

Toward that end, take commonsense precautions to avoid contaminating other foods and kitchen surfaces and spreading any bacteria that may be present to yourself or others. To avoid cross-contamination between foods in your kitchen, adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Use a designated cutting board for raw meat and poultry, and don’t use this board for other food preparation, such as cutting up vegetables. Color coding your cutting boards is a simple way to distinguish between them.
  • To sanitize your cutting board, use hot water and detergent. Simply wiping it off with a rag will not destroy the bacteria.
  • For an inexpensive, safe and effective kitchen counter and cutting board sanitizer, use 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Keep each liquid in a separate spray bottle, and then spray the surface with one, followed by the other, and wipe off.
  • Coconut oil can also be used to clean, treat and sanitize your wooden cutting boards. It's loaded with lauric acid that has potent antimicrobial actions. The fats will also help condition the wood.

Source: mercola rss

Every July 4 since our nation declared independence in 1776, Americans have celebrated this truth:

"… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."1

The Declaration of Independence rejected unjust laws imposed by a privileged ruling class. The guiding principles of the Declaration of Independence were codified into the Bill of Rights to limit the power of government and protect our unalienable natural rights. The First Amendment of the Constitution states that:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."2

Universal Declaration: Freedom of thought, conscience, religion

After World War II, natural rights were defined internationally as human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights published in 1948 states:3

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person;" and "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood;" and

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks;" and

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance;"

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

These are among the globally recognized human rights that protect individuals and minorities from discrimination and the kind of government oppression that President Thomas Jefferson talked about when he warned:

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

Freedom to dissent hallmark of freedom

The legal right to dissent has been a hallmark of freedom in America. Unlike in authoritarian governments,5 in our country, citizens have the right and responsibility to participate in the law-making process.

We have — or should have — the freedom to openly debate government policy, law and ethics in public forums and dissent from the majority without fear of intimidation or punishment.6,7 But two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, that is changing.

Autonomy attacked by new ruling class

An unprecedented attack on civil liberties and the right to dissent is being led by a new privileged ruling class whose power is not derived from aristocratic titles, wealth and political influence linked to genetic heritage and ownership of land.

The power of the new ruling class in America is derived from academic titles, wealth and political influence linked to corporatized government8,9,10,11,12,13 that seeks ownership of our physical bodies.14,15,16,17,18

The right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity is the first human right.19,20 If you cannot voluntarily decide when and for what reason you are willing to risk your life or the life of your child, your unalienable right to life and liberty has been taken from you.

Whether you do or do not agree that every liability free vaccine product sold by pharmaceutical companies is safe and effective, or that federal vaccine policy is anchored with sound science, or that mandatory vaccination laws without informed consent protections are moral, you should take a hard look at recent actions by government officials and corporations to censor and repeal civil liberties that safeguard your human right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity.

Delegitimizing civil liberties with yellow journalism

The extraordinary efforts by industry, medical trade and government to delegitimize free speech about vaccination unless it conforms with government policy has given a green light to corporate-owned mainline media outlets to use name calling and other yellow journalism techniques to legitimize the stripping of civil liberties from public health laws.

Today, any parent,21,22,23 doctor,24,25 research scientist,26,27 journalist,28,29 celebrity,30,31,32 politician,33 philanthropist34,35 or nongovernmental organization36,37,38 asking questions about the quality of vaccine science or the ethics of laws requiring use of a liability-free pharmaceutical product that can harm or fail to work, is immediately labeled as an "anti-vaxxer"39,40,41,42 and publicly defamed,43 humiliated,44 discredited45 and relentlessly targeted for personal and professional ruin.46,47,48

When the risks of vaccination turn out to be 100% for a child and parents describe what happened, their suffering is magnified when journalists gaslight them for witnessing in the public square.

It is a shameful display of ignorance and prejudice against biologically vulnerable children and their parents who have been compelled to unequally bear the risks of vaccination for society, and are being demonized for advocating for safer vaccines and more scientifically informed and humane public health policies.49,50,51,52

Most of all, it is a dangerous assault on freedom of speech by a profession that should be pushing back on discrimination and the erosion of civil liberties, not actively condoning it.

Despite Congress officially acknowledging the fact that vaccines can injure and kill in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986,53 and even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that government licensed vaccines are "unavoidably unsafe" so that the multibillion-dollar vaccine industry cannot be held accountable in a court of law for failing to improve the safety of vaccine products,54 today anyone who publicly questions vaccine safety or advocates for voluntary vaccination is treated like a criminal.

Well-referenced, factual information about vaccine risks and failures is being automatically slapped with the label "misinformation" so it can be censored.55 Those who advocate for informed consent protections in vaccine laws are called "anti-vaccine" so they can be silenced. Benjamin Franklin, co-author of the Declaration of Independence,56 warned:

"Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins."57

Half of US adults doubt vaccine safety

When people are oppressed by unjust laws and speak up, those in control of lawmaking often resort to censorship to silence calls for reform and force compliance. Your freedom to think, speak and dissent has been put in jeopardy this year at precisely the same time that growing numbers of people in the U.S., Europe and other nations are expressing increased, legitimate concern about the safety of vaccines.58,59

A recent poll found that nearly half of American adults doubt vaccine safety and of the 45% who do, 16% were influenced by online information, 16% were influenced by knowledge of past secrets and wrongdoing by the pharmaceutical industry and 12% were influenced by information from medical experts.60

Government officials call for internet censorship

So, this year, powerful federal legislators have sent a series of letters telling the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Amazon61,62 that, "there is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases," and that, "the dissemination of unfounded and debunked theories about the dangers of vaccination pose a great risk to public health."63 The social media platforms were directed to remove vaccine "misinformation" and replace it with "medically accurate information."

This year Americans have watched government health officials making false statements in congressional hearings denying that vaccines like MMR cause brain inflammation and claiming that doctors can predict which children will be harmed.64,65 And even though thousands of parents traveled to those hearings stacked with witnesses blaming "anti-vaccine misinformation" for disease outbreaks, not one individual was allowed to testify offering a different perspective.66,67

The FDA Commissioner even threatened state legislators that if they did not restrict or remove vaccine exemptions, the federal government would step in and "mandate certain rules about what is and isn't permissible when it comes to allowing people to have vaccine exemptions."68,69,70

After thousands of Americans showed up at public hearings in multiple states to testify against proposed laws to remove vaccine exemptions,71,72,73 by June only the state of Washington had eliminated the conscientious belief exemption for MMR vaccine,74 and Maine had eliminated both the religious and conscientious belief exemption for all vaccines.75

Then, on June 13, 2019, the New York legislature suddenly rammed a bill to repeal the religious exemption to vaccination through both the Assembly and Senate in one day with no public hearings.76,77,78 This legislative coup completely cut the citizens of New York out of participating in the law-making process.79,80

Within hours, the governor of New York signed the bill into law and issued a press release quoting one of the bill's sponsors declaring, "I am incredibly proud that science has won with the passage of this bill. We should be taking medical advice from medical professionals, not strangers on the internet spreading pseudo-science misinformation."81

In the weeks leading up to the vote, major newspapers published editorials.82,83,84 The Partnership for New York City, which represents more than 350 major city employers, including Pfizer, Google, Microsoft and other corporations, also sent a letter to legislators calling for an end to the religious vaccine exemption.85,86

Many of the lobbyists argued that no major religion has a tenet opposing vaccination, even though vaccine products were not being mandated by governments until long after the world's major religions were founded.87 In addition, the U.S. Constitution prohibits our government from requiring citizens holding sincere personal spiritual or religious beliefs to identify with an organized religion or be a member of a certain church in order to receive equal protection under the law.88

The justification for violating the religious freedom of New York residents89 was primarily based on more than 1,000 cases of measles reported in 28 states this year, with 800 cases identified in several New York City neighborhoods, although there have been no reported measles deaths or injuries.90

About 75% of the New York measles cases have been confirmed in unvaccinated persons with the majority living in orthodox Jewish communities holding sincere religious beliefs opposing the use of vaccines.91,92

About 97% of children attending kindergarten in New York have received two doses of MMR vaccine compared to more than 94% of school children nationally.93

Government health officials and the media blame unvaccinated school children for measles outbreaks. However, May 25, NVIC published a special report on the history of measles and MMR vaccine providing documented evidence that MMR vaccine failures and waning immunity in vaccinated adults are equally responsible for reported measles outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations like ours.94

The illusion of durable MMR vaccine herd immunity is rapidly dissolving. Measles is being transmitted by vaccinated persons, who are subclinically infected but are not being identified or reported because they show few or no symptoms, while unvaccinated persons fully expressing measles symptoms are being identified, reported and very well publicized.

This information is not part of the public conversation when government officials and the media talk about measles outbreaks because it calls into question the accuracy of the narrative simplistically scapegoating unvaccinated children and their parents.95

Since January, America has been operating under a perceived state of emergency.96,97,98 That happened after the World Health Organization announced that "the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate" — termed "vaccine hesitancy" — is one of the top 10 "threats" to global health.99,100,101,102

The word "threat" is defined as one "regarded as a possible source of harm or danger."103 It is often used during wartime to elicit fear and hatred of an enemy that a government considers to be a danger to national security. In any war, real or perceived, rational thinking is the first casualty of fear, which makes it easier for people to agree to a loss of freedom in exchange for a promise of protection from harm.

Just like in 2015 when cases of measles were reported at Disneyland,104,105,106,107 this year there have been calls for public identification, criminal prosecution and imprisonment of unvaccinated people and parents who don't vaccinate their children.108,109,110

Anyone who defends the informed consent ethic and criticizes the use of coercion to force compliance with one-size-fits all vaccine policies is called an "anti-vaxxer" and subjected to personal attacks on his or her intelligence, integrity, motives and patriotism in the name of protecting the public health.

The litmus test question is: "Are you or have you ever been anti-vaccine?" If you hesitate, qualify your answer, express doubt or admit to being currently or previously associated with a person or organization labeled as "anti-vaccine," it is over.

You are publicly condemned as an "anti-vaxxer" and a danger to society for infecting others with your opinions, values and beliefs. You are blacklisted and turned into a horrible warning for any person like you who is even thinking about speaking up. Often people recant or throw their friends and colleagues under the bus when threatened with excommunication from society for being labeled "anti-vaccine."

There was another dark era in American history during the mid-20th century, known as the "blacklist" or "McCarthy" era, when government officials operated in a climate of fear under a perceived state of emergency that was used to justify taking extreme measures in the name of protecting national security. Beginning in 1947 through 1954, federal legislators suspected there were "communist sympathizers" in government agencies and working in the fields of journalism and entertainment.

Congress held a series of hearings in the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee followed by U.S. Senate hearings chaired by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis.111,112,113 Americans suspected of being a threat to national security were summoned to publicly testify about their personal philosophical, religious and political beliefs and association with persons or organizations believed to be communist sympathizers, a term that became synonymous with being "anti-American."

The litmus test question was: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" If the person answered "yes" or refused to answer, he or she risked being blacklisted as a political subversive who infected others with opinions, values and beliefs that posed a danger to national security.

Hundreds of Americans, including authors, artists, filmmakers and high profile Hollywood celebrities, were persecuted for their beliefs, sent to prison, denied employment or left the country in self-exile in order to find work. Often people recanted or threw their friends and colleagues under the bus when threatened with excommunication from society for being labeled "anti-American."

Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow,114 who helped unmask the smear tactics used by Sen. McCarthy that ended government inquisitions of the "blacklist era," observed that:

"The right of dissent, or, if you prefer, the right to be wrong, is surely fundamental to the existence of a democratic society. That's the right that went first in every nation that stumbled down the trail toward totalitarianism." 

June 20, despite thousands of parents testifying against a bill that essentially eliminates the medical vaccine exemption in a state that has no personal belief exemption,115 the California legislature's health committee voted to give absolute power to state health officials to reject any exemption granted by a doctor that does not conform with federal vaccine policy.116

In other states, legislators are moving to pass laws allowing doctors to vaccinate minor children without the knowledge or consent of their parents.117,118 Americans are being coerced and denied not only an education, but medical care, insurance and employment for refusing one or more government recommended vaccines.119,120,121

If you or your child has already suffered vaccine reactions or struggle with chronic brain and immune system problems that doctors deny can be made worse by getting re-vaccinated, you know what it feels like to live in perpetual fear that you will be hunted down and forced to get vaccines that could cause further damage to health.122

If your life has not been touched by a vaccine reaction, there is no guarantee it won't happen tomorrow.123 Government electronic medical records tracking systems are monitoring every vaccine you do and do not take,124,125 and many new vaccines are being developed by industry and government that will be mandated for children and adults alike.126

Do you want to be forced to use every new vaccine Big Pharma produces127 and public health officials mandate without your voluntary informed consent?128,129 And what will be done to you if you refuse to comply? Will you be able to get a driver's license or passport, shop in a store, go to a football game, enter a hospital emergency room, get on a bus or plane, or simply leave your home if you cannot show proof that you have complied with government vaccine policies?

Will your unvaccinated children be taken from you? Will you be criminally prosecuted and imprisoned? What has happened this year are signs that America may well be stumbling down the trail toward totalitarianism by allowing our unalienable rights to be taken away.

But we, the people, have the power in our constitutional republic to secure our civil liberties if we refuse to live in fear and, instead, choose to defend freedom of speech and conscience and the right to dissent, and if we elect lawmakers who cherish freedom as much as we do.

Unjust laws enacted today can be repealed tomorrow, but only if we wake up, stand up and never, ever give up. Be the one who never has to say you did not do today what you could have done to change tomorrow. It's your health, your family, your choice. And our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America.

Source: mercola rss

Weeds resistant to common herbicides — dubbed superweeds — have spread over 60 million acres of U.S. farmland,1 and the economic and environmental devastation caused the weeds is growing, too. Worldwide, weeds have evolved resistance to 167 different herbicides, and herbicide-resistant weeds have been reported in 93 different crops in 70 countries.2

Scientists are now scrambling to understand how weeds are outsmarting these widely used agricultural chemicals, but it's often said that the spread is due to independent evolution via herbicide selection.

However, researchers writing in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment believe herbicide-resistance gene flow may be primarily to blame, calling it an "underestimated and underappreciated" phenomenon.3

Herbicide resistance gene flow may be causing superweeds

Concerns surrounding herbicide resistance increased after the 1990s' introduction of genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" crops designed to resist glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.

As farmers used an abundance of Roundup on their fields, neglected other weed control measures and continued to grow the same crops on the same land repeatedly (i.e., monoculture), superweeds spread and flourished.4

"Interest in the magnitude and consequences of intra- and interspecific herbicide resistance gene flow, particularly that mediated by pollen, increased in the mid-1990s with the introduction of herbicide-resistant (HR) transgenic crops," the researchers explained. "During that time, less attention was paid to the movement of HR alleles via pollen or seed among weed populations."5

Simulation models predict, however, that frequent widespread applications of glyphosate and other herbicides facilitate an increase in the frequency and movement of herbicide resistance traits. How this is occurring could be due to the flow of GE herbicide resistance from one plant to another, possibly via the transfer of pollen.

"Once a new HR weed biotype has been confirmed in a jurisdiction, how often have we been surprised at its rapid areawide expansion?" the researchers asked. It turns out, however:6

"In genotypic studies of HR weed populations, the contribution of gene flow to incidence of resistance is frequently similar or greater than that of independent evolution."

It's possible, for instance, that pollen carrying genes for herbicide resistance can fertilize a nearby weed, leading to offspring that carry the herbicide resistant trait.7

"Is it a surprise?" the Guardian noted. "On one level no, gene flow and hybridization are as old as plants themselves. Short of creating sterile male plants, it's simply impossible to stop crops releasing pollen to fertilize related neighbors."8

Farmers using more pesticides to fight herbicide resistance

Farmers are scrambling to find a solution for uncontrollable weeds that have outsmarted these man-made chemicals. The solution from agribusinesses entities is to introduce new GE crops designed to withstand not only glyphosate but also additional pesticides to kill off the weeds glyphosate leaves behind.

Enlist E3 soybeans, made by Corteva Agriscience, a division of DowDupont and seed company MS Technologies, is one of the latest, designed to tolerate glyphosate, glufosinate (another herbicide) and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 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.

"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.9

This is concerning because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (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.

Another example is Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans, which are GE plants designed to tolerate both glyphosate and dicamba, a highly volatile herbicide known for drifting and damaging off-target crops, including trees.

It's not only weeds that are developing resistance to herbicides, either. Bacteria that have been exposed to Roundup, dicamba and 2,4-D develop resistance to antibiotics 100,000 times faster than the same bacteria that have never been exposed to the herbicides, University of Canterbury has found.10

Herbicide resistance gene flow via pollen

A study of annual ryegrass revealed just how easily pollen may be facilitating the flow of herbicide resistance genes from GE crops to their neighbors. "The transfer of herbicide resistance genes by pollen is a major concern in cross-pollinated species such as annual ryegrass," the researchers noted.11

In the greenhouse, using favorable conditions for pollination, there was a maximum cross-pollination rate of 56.1%. In a field trial, researchers looked at cross-pollination that could occur in real-world conditions, evaluating distance and orientation to an herbicide-resistant pollen source.

In this case, cross-pollination rates varied from 5.5% to 11.6% in plants adjacent to the pollen source, with rates decreasing in farther away plants. According to the study:12

"This model predicted an average gene flow of 7.1% when the pollen donor and recipient plants were at zero meter distance from each other. Pollen-mediated gene flow declined by 50% at 16.7 m from the pollen source, yet under downwind conditions gene flow of 5.2% was predicted at 25 meters, the farthest distance studied."

Is stopping herbicide-resistant superweeds futile?

If gene flow is causing herbicide resistance to flourish, and the next herbicide-resistant weed is just a cross-pollination away, it could appear futile to stop the spread of superweeds. The featured study suggested, however, that the best mitigation strategy is minimizing weed population abundance and seed bank replenishment in fields and adjacent areas.13

 The "weed seed bank" refers to the reserve of weed seeds present in the soil. One square foot of soil may contain thousands of weed seeds, and one of the most effective forms of weed management is eliminating "deposits" to the soil's bank of seeds.14 Some effective, nonchemical weed seed bank management practices, some of which you can use in your own backyard, include:15

  • Pull weeds before they set seed and even before flowering, as some weeds can mature seeds from flowers that are pollinated
  • Pull creeping perennial weeds before they can form new rhizomes, tubers or other propagules
  • Grow crops ahead of weeds, as the crop canopy can overshadow weeds and decrease their ability to form seeds
  • Pull large weeds before they flower; pulling the largest 10% of weeds may reduce seed production by 90%
  • Mow or graze fields promptly after harvest to interrupt weed seed production

Glyphosate use increasing instead of decreasing

The rise of herbicide resistance hasn't stopped farmers from applying the glyphosate on their fields, despite its dropping effectiveness. In 2016, Midwest farmers used an estimated 188.7 million pounds of glyphosate, a fortyfold increase from 1992, and the Midwest accounts for 65% of the total glyphosate usage in the U.S. Some states have seen an even greater increase.16

In Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa, glyphosate usage was about 80 times greater in 2016 than in 1992, and 15 times higher than in 2000. According to a 2018 glyphosate market report, the glyphosate market is also predicted to continue growing, potentially doubling by 2021, from the current $5 billion per year to as much as $10 billion.17

The overreliance on glyphosate is already implicated in herbicide resistance, and with increasing applications the problem is slated to worsen. Writing for the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Christopher Walljasper and Ramiro Ferrando point out:18

"Once thought of as a miracle product, overreliance on glyphosate has caused weeds to grow resistant to the chemical and led to diminished research and development for new weed management solutions, according to Bill Curran, president-elect of the Weed Science Society of America and emeritus professor of weed science at Penn State University.

'We're way overreliant on roundup,' Curran said. 'Nobody thought we were going to be dealing with the problems we are dealing with today' … James Benham has been farming in Southeast Indiana for nearly 50 years. Benham said, as resistance grew, Roundup went from a cure-all to a crutch. 'Sometimes if you timed it just right, you could get away with just one spraying. Now we're spraying as often as three or four times a year,' he said.

Benham said farmers continue to spend more on seed and chemicals but aren't seeing more profit. 'That puts the farmer in that much more of a crisis mode. Can't do without it, can't hardly live with it,' he said. As glyphosate became less effective, farmers also turned to even more pesticides to try and grow successful crops each year."

More pesticides is not the answer

Adding more pesticides will only worsen the problem of herbicide resistance, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which notes, "Rather than delaying resistance, the use of multiple herbicides would lead to the quicker evolution of weeds that have multiple resistances."

These weeds would be a "nightmare scenario for farmers."19 What's more, the development of more GE crops designed to resist more herbicides is only adding to the issue that triggered the superweed problem in the first place.

The long-term solution lies with adopting regenerative, biodynamic farming principles that don't rely on GMOs and their related pesticides. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

"Recent studies have shown that herbicide use could be reduced by more than 90 percent — while maintaining or increasing yields and net farmer profits — through practices based on the principles of ecological science that reduce weed numbers and growth.

These practices include crop rotation (alternating crops from year to year), the use of cover crops and mulches, judicious tillage, and taking advantage of the weed-suppressive chemicals produced by some crops and crop varieties.

Even the use of composted livestock manure and crop residues rather than synthetic fertilizers can help to control some weeds, as these methods generally release nutrients more slowly, which can favor the growth of larger-seeded crops over small-seeded weeds.

These agroecological methods have other important benefits, such as increased soil fertility and water-holding capacity, [and] reduced emissions of water pollutants."

To be part of the solution, seek out non-GMO, organic foods as much as possible, and support farmers who are using regenerative and biodynamic farming principles instead of chemical pesticides.

Source: mercola rss

Spending time in the great outdoors can be an incredible way to commune with nature, escape modern life and get […]

The post Top 12 Outdoor DIYs for Your Next Camping Trip appeared first on Plant Therapy Blog.

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Diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance resulting in high blood sugar.1 Your pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, which is used to move blood sugar across cell walls for energy.2 The number of those experiencing diabetes has risen sharply since 1958, when the CDC3 estimated 0.93% of the population had been diagnosed with it.

By 2015 the number had risen to 7.4%. As the population numbers had also increased, the absolute numbers diagnosed were 1.6 million in 1958, rising to 23.4 million in 2015.4 The percentage of the population diagnosed with diabetes rose slowly from 1958 to 1995, at which point it began increasing more quickly from 3.3% of the population to 7.4% in 2015.5

Another report from the CDC6 encompasses the total number of existing cases, including newly diagnosed diabetes. According to this report it is estimated that in 2015, 9.4% of the U.S. population or 30.3 million people were diabetic. When they factored in those who may not be aware of their diagnosis, the percentage rose to 12.2% of all U.S. adults.

One future model7 predicts that without change, the prevalence will increase 54% to more than 54.9 million Americans by 2030. According to the World Health Organization,8 422 million people around the world, or 8.5%, were diagnosed with diabetes in 2014; this represents a 3.8% increase from 1980. The disease is a principal reason for blindness, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.9

Diabetes is one of the most expensive chronic diseases10 and is estimated to cost more than $245 billion per year in the U.S. The future model published in the Population of Health Management estimates this will rise to $622 billion by 2030.11

Whatever metric is being used to measure, the numbers are rising. Current treatment philosophy12 holds that you can manage the disease with making healthy eating choices, being active and using prescription medications, such as insulin, to control blood sugar levels.

A recent study13 published in the journal Metabolism demonstrates how intermittent fasting, known to improve sensitivity to insulin14 and to protect against fatty liver disease,15,16 may also reduce pancreatic fat deposits and help prevent development of Type 2 diabetes.

Preventing diabetes with intermittent fasting

When your body is insulin resistant,17 the cells in your body do not respond well to insulin, which lowers their ability to use glucose from the blood for energy. The pancreas secretes more insulin, trying to overcome the cells’ weak response and keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range.

A research team from the German Institute of Human Nutrition undertook a study to determine how weight-induced fat buildup in the pancreas has an effect on the onset of Type 2 diabetes.18 Using an animal model, the study team found that overweight mice prone to diabetes also had a high amount of fat in the pancreas.

If mice were genetically resistant to diabetes, despite having excess body weight, their pancreas did not carry fat deposits. However, researchers did find additional fat deposits in the liver of these mice. The team used New Zealand obese mice who were split into two groups.19

One group was fed a high-fat diet and allowed to eat as much as they wanted, and the second group fasted every other day. The researchers measured fat in the pancreas, glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity and islet of Langerhans function (cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced20).

They found the mice in the experimental group, undergoing intermittent fasting every other day, had better glucose control and less fat in the pancreas and liver than the control group who were allowed to eat as much as they wished each day.

When a variety of cell types from the mice were cultured together, researchers found fat cells in the pancreas developed a hypersecretion of insulin and released more fatty acids than white fat cells harvested from the lower stomach and groin area.

Based on these results, the researchers suggested21 that pancreatic fat plays a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes, but intermittent fasting may prevent pancreatic fat deposits.

How do you define intermittent fasting?

There are several different ways of integrating intermittent fasting into your daily routine. The process involves entirely or partially foregoing eating for a specific amount of time. The methods will vary on the number of days, the number of hours and how many calories you’re allowing.22

Some find it challenging to stick to a program, but remaining hydrated, avoiding obsessing over food and finding the time to engage in relaxing activities such as yoga may help.23 While there are different ways of incorporating intermittent fasting into your routine, there is no one single plan that works for everyone.

You'll experience the best results by trying several to see what fits with your lifestyle and preferences. The goal behind intermittent fasting is to improve your metabolic flexibility,24 or your body’s ability to respond to changes in metabolic demand.

As you try intermittent fasting, it's important to remember that the meals you do eat should be well-balanced, high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. Here are several different methods to consider:25

12-hours-a-day fast — This is often used as a jumping-off point for those who are interested in starting intermittent fasting. You need only adhere to a 12-hour fasting window every day, including the hours you sleep. This is easily done when your last food is eaten at 7 p.m. and you don’t eat again until breakfast the next morning.

16-hours-a-day fast — During a 16-hour fast you have an eight-hour window to eat. It's sometimes referred to as the 16/8 method and is a graduation from the 12-hour fast. In this case, many people finish eating by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., skip breakfast and do not eat again until noon.

In an animal study26 researchers found that limiting feeding to 8 hours could protect the mice from obesity, inflammation, liver disease and diabetes, even when they ate the same number of calories during the restricted eight hours as the control group did in 24 hours.

Two days a week — For some it may be easier to restrict intake for an entire 24 hours twice-weekly as opposed to each day. Men may eat up to 600 calories on the fasting days and women up to 500 calories. Typically, the fasting days are separated during the week and you eat normally on the other days.

To use this type of intermittent fasting successfully, there should be at least one nonfasting day between your fasting days. One study27 engaged the participation of 107 overweight or obese women and found this type of fasting reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity.

Every other day — There are several variations of an every-other-day plan. Some completely avoid solid food and others allow up to 500 calories on fasting days. The authors of one study28 found this type of intermittent fasting was effective for weight loss and heart health for both normal and overweight adults.

Meal skipping — This is a more flexible approach that works well for those who respond to hunger signals and normally eat when they're hungry and skip meals when they're not.

Intermittent fasting achieves metabolic flexibility

The goal of metabolic flexibility is to train your body to use carbohydrates and fat as fuel. The term was first used to describe the capacity of a parasitic worm to generate energy either aerobically or anaerobically, giving it greater versatility to respond and adapt to environmental changes.29

The more current use has been in the context of carbohydrate and fat metabolism in an effort to reduce insulin resistance, a key to metabolic inflexibility that may develop in tissues and organs. Skeletal muscle burns 60% to 80% of glucose in response to insulin, which is thought to be related to the interaction of skeletal muscle and insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes.30

Insulin resistance is likely part of an overall metabolic inflexibility, which fasting may override. This enhances metabolic flexibility and higher mitochondrial capacity.31 One scientist32 found that insulin resistance comes before metabolic nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but not in those who experience genetically driven NAFLD.

Another team outlined the factors affecting metabolic flexibility, including diet, eating frequency, exercise and the use of pharmaceuticals.33 Presenters at the American College of Sports Medicine34 conference on Integrative Physiology and Exercise agreed the body's ability to use carbohydrates and fat is vital for optimal health.

In other words, your body's ability to flexibly use fat and carbohydrates for fuel is necessary to reduce insulin resistance, maintain your weight and achieve optimal health.35

Start slow and reap big rewards

If you've never tried intermittent fasting, you may be surprised how easily you may integrate it into your life. I recommend beginning with a 12-hour fast from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Once you have achieved this for one week, add one hour every week for a month.

This helps you easily move from a daily 12-hour fast to a 16-hour fast. As you achieve this goal, you may want to consider incorporating alternate strategies described above, depending upon your lifestyle.

There is no one perfect way of practicing intermittent fasting, so experiment until you find one that works for you. The method of starting with 12 hours and moving to a 16-hour fast is one of the best ways I’ve found to reduce your challenges as you integrate intermittent fasting into your nutritional program.

Considerations before you start

Although intermittent fasting is beneficial for many people, there are some points to consider before you begin.

  • Intermittent fasting does not have to be a form of calorie restriction — The practice should make you feel good and help your body to become metabolically flexible. If the strategy you use is making you feel weak and lethargic, reevaluate your approach and try something else.
  • Sugar cravings are temporary — Although some find them initially challenging, your hunger and craving for sugar will slowly go away as your body begins burning fat as its primary fuel. Once your body has successfully shifted to a fat burning mode, it will be easier to fast for up to 18 hours and still feel satisfied.
  • Intermittent fasting is not advisable if your diet is filled with processed foods — Although fasting may sound like a panacea against most health challenges and excess weight, by itself it may not provide you with the benefits you are seeking. The quality of your diet plays an important role in your health.
  • If you have a medical condition, practice fasting under your physician’s care — If you currently have diabetes, are pregnant or under a physician's care for a chronic health condition, it is important you seek the advice of someone who is well-versed in your medical condition as well as intermittent fasting.

If you are interested in using additional, simple strategies to boost your overall health and reduce your dependence on many medications for chronic disease, consider using a KetoFast program. This is a complete system starting with intermittent fasting and a cyclical ketogenic diet, and then moving into a partial fast instead of a water fast.

For more information about the program I discuss in my book, “KetoFast: A Step-by-Step Guide to Timing Your Ketogenic Meals,” see my past article, “Avoid the Dark Side of Fasting and Ketosis With KetoFasting.” There you may hear a podcast with fitness expert Ben Greenfield and discover more about the benefits of fasting.

Avoid eating before bed

Whether you choose to practice intermittent fasting or not, it's important to remember to avoid eating at least three hours before you go to bed. Eliminating this single habit may have positive health repercussions since eating late night meals (when your body does not need the energy) may detrimentally affect your mitochondria.36,37

When your mitochondria receive inappropriate amounts of fuel, even proper fuel, at the wrong time of the day, they may begin to deteriorate and malfunction. Mitochondrial dysfunction lays the groundwork for subsequent breakdowns in a variety of bodily systems leading to chronic illness.38

Source: mercola rss

1 Which of the following is a real project being run on Wikipedia; its editors altering certain pages to control the narrative?

  • Guerilla Skepticism

    A specialized Wikipedia project called Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia recruits sceptics to edit pages and squash opposing views. In 2018, this project had at least 120 editors. Learn more.

  • The Holistic Angel Brigade
  • Homeopathics-For-All
  • The Cryptozoology Academy

2 Which of the following entities does not rely on Wikipedia as a primary tool for establishing credibility of online material and authors?

  • Google
  • AOL

    Google, Facebook and YouTube rely on Wikipedia — none of whose anonymous authors have any verifiable credibility — as a primary tool for establishing credibility of online material and authors. Learn more.

  • YouTube
  • Facebook

3 Which of the following foods is statistically the safest and least likely to make you sick from foodborne pathogens?

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Raw milk

    While the U.S. FDA and the USDA insist raw milk will increase your risk of death and disease, foodborne illness statistics offer no support for such claims. In fact, data analysis reveals you're 35,000 times more likely to get sick from any other food than raw milk. Learn more.

  • Pasteurized milk

4 Which of the following drug classes has been found to significantly raise your risk of dementia?

  • Antibiotics
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Anticholinergic drugs

    Anticholinergic drugs, prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, including depression, incontinence, insomnia, allergies and epilepsy, have been linked to a significantly increased risk of dementia. Learn more.

5 Which of the following fruits is known as "the jewel of autumn," and is praised in both the Talmud and Bible?

  • Pomegranate

    Pomegranate has long been revered as a symbol of strength, abundance, hope, joy and fertility. Both the Talmud and Bible praise it, and it features heavily in mythologies from various regions, including Egypt, Greece and China. They're rich in antioxidants and contain compounds that stimulate mitophagy, thereby promoting health and longevity. Learn more.

  • Persimmon
  • Durian
  • Cherimoya

6 Forest bathing refers to

  • humans bathing in pure streams found in forests
  • humans taking in the forest through their senses

    Forest bathing, also known as shinrin-yoku, is a long-standing tradition of taking in the forest through our senses. Learn more.

  • mists that come in from oceans and blanket forests
  • animals seeking forest groundwater sources

7 According to an in-depth investigation of the medical literature by Dr. Chris Knobbe, an ophthalmologist, macular degeneration is not a disease of aging but rather a disease of:

  • Genetics
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Processed food diets, particularly processed vegetable oils, trans fats, refined flour and sugar

    Research by Dr. Chris Knobbe, an ophthalmologist, reveals macular degeneration is a disease of the westernized diet. Knobbe recommends an ancestral diet; you can eat anything you want, provided it's real food, made from scratch without polyunsaturated vegetable oils or trans fats. Refined white flour or sugar should also be minimized. Learn more.

  • Excess sun exposure


Source: mercola rss

Several branches of the U.S. military are looking closely at a whole new approach in regard to nutrition, at least as far as it concerns U.S. troops.1 In short, government agencies are exploring the possibility of changing its nutritional guidelines so service members will be required to follow a ketogenic or "keto" diet.

The keto diet is a tactical strategy that puts the body into a metabolic fat-burning state called ketosis. For the military, it would mean adopting a low-carb/high fat approach to food — burning fat instead of glucose for energy — instead of the other way around.

Dr. David Ludwig, a nutrition professor at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, maintains that a keto diet helps reduce the "respiratory quotient," which is the amount of carbon dioxide the body produces relative to the amount of oxygen it consumes.

He notes that it's not oxygen in your blood that makes you want to breathe; it's triggered by the buildup of carbon dioxide, and the keto diet is the best way to lower its production to reduce the respiratory quotient.

In theory, the body needs to breathe as much as 30% less; however, in reality, it would be more like 15% less, which is "still significant in extreme situations, like living in a submarine or diving to retrieve an explosive ordnance."

Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology at U.S. Special Operations Command, spelled out the potential benefits of the keto diet in terms officials at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference could understand and support wholeheartedly: Improved performance.

Its potential for Navy SEALs and other "elite operators" on raids and combat dives, who may be the first to go keto, have proven to be dramatic. Going keto may even prevent seizures for divers who need to remain hidden underwater for long periods. According to Business Insider:

"One of the effects of truly being in ketosis is that it changes the way your body handles oxygen deprivation, so you can actually stay underwater at depths for longer periods of time and not go into oxygen seizures.

That kind of technology is available today … We can tell whether you are or are not in ketosis. We have really good indications of how to put you in ketosis. And we know statistically what that does to your ability to sustain oxygen."2

What happens when service members go on a keto diet?

If new keto diet strategies are adopted by the military, menu options at bases everywhere would be replaced. Zero hedge notes that produce choices and meat quality at military dining facilities may be switched out, and the high carb/high sugar content of MREs (meals ready to eat) would also be "a thing of the past."3 Additionally:

"In the future, this could result in dining facilities serving Ezekiel bread, zucchini 'pasta spirals' to replace pasta, mashed cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes and rice, and avocado-heavy salads."4

Some military officials contend that doing so may stretch military budgets. But Jeff Volek, a kinesiologist in the department of human sciences at The Ohio State University, who composed a study recommending the benefits of a keto diet, disagrees.

Volek says that because healthy fat from such options as fish, chicken and other meats, eggs, cheese, butter, nuts, seeds and nonstarchy vegetables would be the primary nutrients, it would likely be less expensive.

The only hitch to the proposal is whether the military has the legal and even "ethical" authority to dictate and enforce such dietary restrictions. Due to the possibility some may "cheat," daily ketosis testing via urine and blood tests may be in store to ensure soldiers stay in a constant state of ketosis. There's also the fact that only strict compliance would make the program successful.

However, research shows a keto diet can help with much more than lowering obesity rates. According to researchers at The Ohio State University, whose work was published in the Journal Military Medicine,5 it also helps boost both mental and physical performance in the field. The authors also noted the participants exhibited "remarkable weight loss and improvements in body composition."

The study, involving 15 study subjects on the keto diet and another 14 individuals eating a regular diet, was the first ever to be designed specifically for military personnel. While in the program, those doing the keto diet had their capillary blood ketones tested on a daily basis. According to New York Post:6

"Those who stayed on their regular diet did not see any changes to their weight, but the keto group saw both weight loss and an almost 50% improvement in insulin sensitivity. However, both groups scored similarly in aerobic capacity, maximal strength, power and a military obstacle course, which means although the keto diet may be good for weight loss, it may not have any specific effect on athletic performance."

According to Sanders, the military has kicked in funding for a "small business research effort" to develop and assess alternative (nondietary) means for soldiers to achieve ketosis, as well as to assess the effect ketosis has on those who've undergone altitude-induced hypoxia. In addition, officials are tracking the results of studies on other extreme environments relevant to special operations forces (SOF) warfighters.

Military intelligence: Changing the menu to fight obesity

Just as the people in charge of U.S. schools and medical facilities have observed, obesity is a growing problem, and that includes every branch of the armed forces. Steps have already been taken to combat the problem, however. In 2014, for instance, the U.S. Navy pulled soda and fried foods from its ships' menus.7

In addition, the Army launched its own Go For Green program, designed to engage "nudging strategies" so troops would be more inclined to select healthy foods and drinks, says Laura Mitvalsky, director of health promotion and wellness at the Army Public Health Center. She also maintains that small changes like these are solutions that can improve the nutritional status of military personnel.

For soldiers who aren't yet savvy on what foods are most nutritionally sound, the program provides marketing materials geared toward nutrition education. Additionally, color coded food labels in in green, yellow and red are being implemented. In September, the Marine Corps reportedly plans to pull its own trigger on a food coding system to encourage healthy eating, with incentives:

"If the food is labeled green when you go through the chow line, go as much as you want … If it's yellow, go with caution. If it's red, go minimal," says Stephen Armes, director of the Marine Corps' Force Fitness Division.

In fact, a menu rivaling that of U.S. Division I NCAA athletic programs is already in the works. Sharlene Holladay, a certified specialist in sports dietetics for the Marine Corps, says menus will soon feature "Cleaner proteins and better convenience-line grab-go options," as well as such cold-bar options as "traditional vegetables, chopped eggs, yogurt, cheese, salsa, legumes and trail mixes at all meals."8

Senior sports dietician Nikki Jupe at the University of Oregon says choosing certain foods can help improve athletes' mental endurance, while at the same time reducing injury risk and recovery time. Because performance is influenced by nutrition, the benefits are available to soldiers who are intentional in their eating habits.9 Further:

"Incorporating the basic nutrition principles will build a foundation for mission readiness, cognitive performance as well as endurance performance … Using different nutritional strategies (may even help) prepare for deployment …

Having a combat-registered dietitian be a part of the process allows for insight and initial/extended education to aid in better habits and body composition change."

What ketosis does for your health and your life

Numerous studies show that adhering to the keto diet offers health benefits; for instance, one supports its use as an adjunct cancer therapy.10 It can improve your metabolic health, as limiting your carb intake can address several aspects of your endocrine system. For one thing, it drives your insulin level down, which increases your metabolic rate.11

Insulin resistance promotes both fatty liver and high blood sugar, and both can lead to atherosclerosis. In essence, it's at the heart of most serious degenerative diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's — and that's just the short list.

On the other hand, the keto diet improves insulin sensitivity, which alleviates the damaging aspects of insulin resistance. How? Rather than focusing on calories taken in, it focuses on the energy the food you eat generates, and the energy your body stores as a result.

When you severely limit your carb intake while focusing on consuming moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of healthy fat, it helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight, for obese people in particular.12 Following a ketogenic diet can reduce inflammation, especially after stroke and brain trauma.13 One study even concluded:

"A major research focus should be on how metabolic interventions such as a ketogenic diet can ameliorate common, comorbid, and difficult-to-treat conditions such as pain and inflammation."14

For individuals wanting to lose weight, an article on ketotic.org shows that newborn babies are naturally in a state of ketosis — a "normal and desirable" state to be in — and remain so as long as they're breastfeeding.15 One randomized controlled study shows a ketogenic diet has in many instances proved to be a successful "treatment," if not a cure for epilepsy.16 

What's wrong with the US Dietary Guidelines?

The USDA's current 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including those used in education, are called the "cornerstone" of federal nutrition policy. Updated every five years, they're "designed for nutrition and health professionals to help all individuals ages 2 years and older and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet."17

But one interesting aspect of the military's new endeavor is that the keto diet is completely opposite of the nutritional standards set forth for the general population. According to the guidelines' key recommendations, a healthy diet should include:

A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups — dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other

Fruits, especially whole fruits

Grains, at least half of which are whole grains

Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages

A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds and soy products


The reality is that while the U.S. dietary guidelines advise you to limit the saturated fats you consume, your body needs them. All fats are not created equal. Still, many health authorities continue to warn anything but low-fat and zero-fat will raise LDL cholesterol, clog your arteries and increase your heart disease risk.

Numerous studies now indicate that not only is that 40-year-old advice completely wrong, the correct research was suppressed. The New York Times18 and The Atlantic19 were just two publications refuting the so-called heart-healthy diet. Time20 reported the all-encompassing re-evaluation and research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ),21 which states:

"Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with linoleic acid effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes."22

Even in a world where genetically engineered foods are touted as perfectly fine for health, grains, including whole grains, are not what they're cracked up to be. It's been well established that genetically engineered (GE) crops and other "significantly altered foods," aka processed, are linked to obesity, disease and early death.

There's also evidence that, rather than basing the dietary guidelines on the latest science, a large portion was gathered from organizations that support food and drug companies.23 For instance, the American Beverage Association (ABA), which includes members such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, announced a partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, funded by the AMA and the Clinton Foundation.24

Another approach to the keto diet is KetoFasting, which includes both a cyclical ketogenic diet and partial fasting, as fasting has also become evident. The keto approach, besides those already mentioned, properly combined, increases autophagy and triggers the regeneration of your stem cells, which are crucial for maintaining good health and preventing disease.

Eating to optimize the way your brain and body function is a wise course of action. Viewing food as a fuel and "eating to live as opposed to living to eat" will help you gain the energy and vitality you need. Hopefully, the conversation will help you, as well as soldiers in the military, make informed decisions about what type of diet will help you maintain health and enhance your performance best.

Source: mercola rss

Collagen is the most common and abundant of your body’s proteins, which makes sense when you consider one of its primary purposes is to provide structural scaffolding for your various tissues to allow them to stretch while still maintaining tissue integrity.1

Collagen makes up anywhere from 25%2 to 30%3 of the total proteins in your body, and as much as 70% to 80% of the protein in your skin,4 in terms of dry weight.

It’s found specifically in the connective tissues throughout your body,5 from your muscles, bones and tendons to your blood vessels and digestive system. As a compound of essential amino acids, there’s only one way to get collagen: Your body can’t produce it, so you must obtain it through your diet.

Historically, traditional diets provided ample collagen in the form of broth made from boiled chicken feet or beef bones. Today, few remember and value homemade bone broth as a key staple, which has led to an entire industry of collagen supplements.

While they certainly can be helpful, not all supplements are made alike. If you’re looking to buy a collagen supplement it’s important to know what to look for on the label before you bring that product home. In other words, it’s a case of “buyer beware,” as laboratory testing6 has revealed many popular collagen and bone broth products contain contaminants, from antibiotics and prescription drug metabolites to parabens and insecticides.

Besides highlighting the hazards of nonorganic products, doubts have been raised as to whether collagen could really even benefit skin and connective tissue at all, as it was believed it likely would not be able to survive digestion. However, more recent research7 has provided a biological mechanism for how collagen works, showing certain peptides do in fact make it intact into the bloodstream. But before we get into that, let’s review some of the basics.

Types of collagen

While many different types of collagen have been scientifically identified, 80% to 90% of the collagen in your body fall into the following three categories:8

  • Type I9 — The most abundant type, found in skin/hide, tendon, connective tissue and bone of all vertebrates. In supplements, Type I collagen may be derived from cows, pigs, chicken and/or fish
  • Type II10 — A primary component of cartilage. Type II collagen supplements are typically derived from poultry
  • Type III11 — Fibrous protein found in bone, tendon, cartilage and connective tissues. Supplements containing Type 3 may be derived from cows, pigs, chicken and/or fish

Types of collagen supplements

Collagen supplements can be either unhydrolyzed (undenatured) or hydrolyzed (denatured). Hydrolyzation refers to a processing technique that breaks the molecules down into smaller fragments, thereby enhancing intestinal absorption.12 Since unhydrolyzed, natural collagen molecules are poorly absorbed due to their large size, most collagen products, whether topical or ingestible, are hydrolyzed.

However, as I’ll discuss further below, the processing that most collagen supplements go through to become hydrolyzed may mean the end product has some byproducts in it you’d really rather not consume. This raises questions about which way to go: Should you buy the unhydrolyzed product and possibly not get the full benefits of the collagen, or opt for the hydrolyzed one, which may come with unwanted byproducts?

An argument can be made for unhydrolyzed products, as they will typically contain a wider spectrum of preserved amino acids, or peptides. On the other hand, hydrolyzed collagen is described as having greater bioavailability mainly because it has isolated, or broken-down, peptides. But unhydrolyzed collagen has these isolated peptides too — which can make it even more confusing if you’re new to these terms.

To make it simpler, think of it this way: You need a good balance of amino acids like methionine and glycine — and when you isolate peptides, this balance is disrupted. Since your body breaks down the different collagen types through its own enzymatic hydrolysis, it’s helpful to know that unhydrolyzed collagen contains a wider range of amino acids. This means you’ll also get a more balanced ratio of complementary amino acids, and not just the isolated peptides you get with the hydrolyzed product.

The argument here is nearly identical to the argument of whey protein concentrate versus isolate. Concentrates have a more natural profile, yet isolates are marketed as more bioavailable.

The thing is, with collagen, to isolate the peptides, the product must undergo harsh processing, which may negate some of its advertised benefits. This underscores why it’s so important to learn everything you can about the product you’re buying before you make the actual purchase. First, though, here is some information about how a collagen supplement might help you.

How collagen benefits your skin

As mentioned, there’s been some debate as to whether collagen is able to survive digestion. Like collagen, many other foods contain amino acids, and if collagen is simply broken down into separate amino acids as it goes through the digestive process, why would it be specifically beneficial for ligaments, joints and skin, more so than any other amino acid-rich food?

As it turns out, hydrolyzed collagen does allow certain peptides to enter your bloodstream intact, before they’re broken down into their component parts. Specifically, a peptide known as prolyl-hydroxyproline (Pro-Hyp), which plays a role in skin health and repair,13,14 has been shown to remain intact. As noted in a 2017 study15 published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry:

“Previous studies have shown that the oral ingestion of collagen hydrolysate leads to elevated levels of collagen-derived peptides in the blood, but whether these peptides reach the skin remains unclear.

Here, we analyzed the plasma concentration of collagen-derived peptides after ingestion of high tripeptide containing collagen hydrolysate in humans.

We identified 17 types of collagen-derived peptides transiently, with a particular enrichment in Gly-Pro-Hyp … Therefore, we propose that functional peptides can be transferred to the skin by dietary supplements of collagen.”

Similarly, Caroline Brochard-Garnier, communication manager for Rousselot, a producer of gelatin and collagen products for the drug, food and nutritional markets, explained the mechanism of action to Nutraingredients.com in a March 2015 article:16

“When a collagen peptide preparation with optimized molecular weight and proven bioavailability is ingested, small collagen peptides are absorbed quickly into the blood stream.

The presence of these peptides in skin tissue, stimulate skin cells (fibroblasts) and activate multiple biochemical pathways which in turn leads to a response which is widely accepted:

Small collagen peptides are believed to act as a false signal of the destruction of collagen in the body, triggering the synthesis of new collagen fibers, which in turn increases skin suppleness and reduces the formation of wrinkles. In addition, the synthesis of hyaluronic acid is stimulated which leads to an increase in skin hydration.”

Research supporting the use of collagen for skin health

A number of studies have demonstrated collagen has beneficial effects on skin, helping mitigate age-related wrinkles, for example. Among them:

A 2014 study17 in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found older women who took Type I collagen experienced “a statistically significant increase in skin elasticity,” after eight weeks. They also observed improved skin hydration in elderly women, although those results “did not reach a level of statistical significance.”

A 2015 study18 in the Journal of Medical Nutrition & Nutraceuticals found post-menopausal women given a collagen beverage experienced improvements in the look and feel of their skin.

According to the authors, “This study shows that the oral nutritional supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and essential vitamins and minerals, leads to a significant improvement in wrinkle depth. It is also able to induce noticeable improvement in elasticity and hydration of the skin.” They also highlighted the results of previous research:

“Three studies from Japan in particular have demonstrated a clear effect. The benefits of daily ingestion of hydrolyzed collagen (10 g) on skin hydration of 20 healthy Japanese women compared to the placebo group (19 volunteers) were evaluated by Sumida et al.

In comparison with the placebo group, gradual improvement of water absorption capacity was observed through 60 days in volunteers who ingested collagen peptides. Matsumoto et al. presented results of a trial also suggesting that a daily ingestion of collagen peptides improve skin hydration.

The authors reported subjective improvement of the skin condition of woman's volunteers after ingestion of fish collagen peptides for 6 weeks. The percentage of positive response between the subjects was very high.

This study was followed by a double-blind placebo-controlled study by the same research group on healthy women volunteers aged 25-45. In this study 2.5, 5 and 10 g of fish collagen peptide were administered and compared to the placebo.

The hydration of the stratum corneum was measured at baseline and after 4 weeks. A significant difference was observed in subjects older than 30 years between the treated group (5 g and 10 g) and placebo.”

Most recently, a systematic review19 published in January 2019 — which analyzed 11 studies using either collagen hydrolysate or a collagen tripeptide supplement at dosages ranging between 2.5 grams and 10 grams per day for eight to 24 weeks — concluded, “Preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging.”

Specifically, oral collagen was found to “increase skin elasticity, hydration and dermal collagen density.”

Other health benefits of collagen

Collagen has also been shown to impart other valuable health benefits, including but not limited to the following:

  • Reducing joint pain and stiffness20
  • Improving wound healing21,22
  • Improving blood pressure and reducing cardiovascular damage23
  • Improving glucose tolerance24
  • Strengthening bones25,26 and improving osteoporosis27

Some of the benefits of collagen may also be attributable to the glycine it contains. While collagen contains 20 amino acids, glycine is one of the three predominant ones.28 Glycine (and collagen, being a source of glycine) inhibits the consumption of NADPH, thereby lowering inflammation and oxidative damage in your body.

NADPH, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, is used as a reductive reservoir of electrons to recharge antioxidants once they become oxidized. NADPH is also necessary to make your steroid hormones and fats.

As discussed in this previous article about NADPH, glycine supplementation may be beneficial for the prevention and/or treatment of metabolic syndrome, complications from diabetes, cardiac hypertrophy, and alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver disorders.

Collagen versus gelatin

Gelatin29 is a staple in paleo-based diets. The difference between collagen and gelatin is that collagen is the raw material, and gelatin is what you get when you cook the collagen.30

If you’ve ever made homemade bone broth, you’ll find it forms a layer of gelatin at the top when it cools. That’s the collagen from the bones and cartilage that has turned into gelatin, a formidable superfood.

In fact, making your own bone broth from the bones of organic grass fed or pastured animals is one of the best (and most inexpensive) ways to get healthy collagen into your diet.

On the other hand, hydrolyzed collagen (also called collagen hydrolysate) requires more intensive processing and cannot be produced at home. This processing is also one of its most significant drawbacks.

You likely will never find an organic hydrolyzed collagen on the market, because it is often a byproduct from the leather industry. When you see a product is made from hides, it is best to ask questions about how that collagen is removed from the hides. Many tanneries use sulfuric acid and chromium salts during processing. 

Hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin are similar but not identical. While both products contain the same amino acids, they have different chemical properties and therefore differ in how you can use them. For example:

Both gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen have gut-healing properties (which is why they’re a staple in the GAPS diet), aiding digestion, reducing inflammation and restoring your gut lining,31 although hydrolyzed collagen tends to be more easily digested.

Since hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into smaller components, it can dissolve in both cold and hot liquids, whereas gelatin will only dissolve in hot liquid. And, since hydrolyzed collagen will not gel, it cannot be used as a substitute for gelatin in dishes like puddings and sauces.

Beware: Most nonorganic collagen supplements are contaminated

As mentioned, food testing32 by the Consumer Wellness Center (CWC) in 2017 revealed many nonorganic poultry-based collagen products contain potentially hazardous contaminants typically associated with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The results suggest CAFO animal byproducts are routinely used to make nonorganic collagen products, so to avoid contaminants, you’d be wise to make sure it’s 100% organic. The testing in question looked at eight bone broth and bone broth protein products, selected based on their popularity on Amazon.com. Contaminants claimed to be found in some of these products included:33

  • Butylparaben, an endocrine-disrupting chemical associated with reduced testosterone levels34 and abnormal shape, size and motility of sperm35,36
  • Cyclandelate, a vasodilator drug
  • Netilmicin, an antibiotic

As noted by the CWC: 37

“To clarify, these tests were conducted on non-organic products derived from animals, and in that category almost every product on the shelf will likely show trace amounts of antibiotics, insecticides and certain pharmacological drugs. These are widely used throughout the animal-based food supply, and many of those chemicals remain intact through processing and packaging.”

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While the CWC stressed that none of the products tested were “acutely dangerous or running afoul of FDA regulations,” the take-home message, in my view, is that if you’re going to use a poultry-based collagen supplement, make sure it’s certified “100% Organic” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,38 the only organic label that relates to food.

Factory farmed animal products are problematic for many reasons, such as accelerating antibiotic resistance, poor conditions for the animals, and because the farms contribute to severe environmental pollution. If you do not consume CAFO meats, you probably would not want to consume CAFO collagen and bone broth products either.

All things considered, my personal preference is to use a less denatured (unhydrolyzed) organic collagen supplement, as it has a more balanced amino acid profile or, better yet, simply make homemade bone broth using bones and connective tissue from grass fed, organically raised animals. It’s the most natural approach of all and is, in my view, the best way to get the full range of benefits without the potential drawbacks.

Other safe ways to boost your collagen

You may not even need a collagen supplement if you provide your body with the needed precursors. In fact, some experts recommend increasing consumption of collagen building blocks rather than collagen protein itself.39 Here are a number of ways to boost your collagen level without having to resort to a supplement:

Making and consuming homemade bone broth, made from organic, pasture-raised poultry or grass fed and finished bovine bones and cartilage. Chicken feet are excellent for this, as chicken claws are particularly rich in collagen40

Red light therapy, aka low-level laser light therapy or photobiomodulation, has been shown to increase collagen growth to reduce wrinkles and improve skin elasticity41

Ginseng, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, has been found to increase collagen in the bloodstream and may have antiaging benefits42

Aloe vera, taken orally as an aloe vera gel powder, nearly doubled collagen production and increased hyaluronic acid levels by 1.5 times in one study,43 significantly reducing wrinkles in women aged 40 and over

Hyaluronic acid, an important compound for collagen in the skin, can be found in bone broth, organ meats and root vegetables,44 or taken as a supplement. Hyaluronic acid has been shown to improve skin moisture and suppleness and reduce wrinkles when added to the diet.45,46

Vitamin C, for example, plays an important role in collagen synthesis,47 so, without vitamin C, your body’s natural collagen production will be impacted. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include kiwi, oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli

Antioxidants, which protect against damaging free radicals, enhance the effectiveness of existing collagen. Berries such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are good sources

Garlic contains sulfur, a necessary component for collagen production,48 as well as lipoic acid, which helps rebuild damaged collagen fibers49

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