Football-shaped particles bolster the body’s defense against cancer


Researchers at Johns Hopkins have succeeded in making flattened, football-shaped artificial particles that impersonate immune cells. These football-shaped particles seem to be better than the typical basketball-shaped particles at teaching immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells in mice.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/2013/footballshap.jpg

“The shape of the really seems to matter because the stretched, ellipsoidal particles we made performed much better than spherical ones in activating the immune system and reducing the animals’ tumors,” according to Jordan Green, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a collaborator on this work. A summary of the team’s results was published online in the journal Biomaterials on Oct. 5.

According to Green, one of the greatest challenges in the field of cancer medicine is tracking down and killing once they have metastasized and escaped from a tumor mass. One strategy has been to create tiny artificial capsules that stealthily carry toxic drugs throughout the body so that they can reach the escaped tumor cells. “Unfortunately, traditional chemotherapy drugs do not know healthy cells from tumor cells, but immune system cells recognize this difference. We wanted to enhance the natural ability of T-cells to find and attack tumor cells,” says Jonathan Schneck, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology, medicine and oncology.

In their experiments, Schneck and Green’s interdisciplinary team exploited the well-known immune system interaction between antigen-presenting cells (APC) and T-cells. APCs “swallow” invaders and then display on their surfaces chewed-up protein pieces from the invaders along with molecular “danger signals.” When circulating T-cells interact with APCs, they learn that those proteins come from an enemy, so that if the T-cells see those proteins again, they divide rapidly to create an army that attacks and kills the invaders.

According to Schneck, to enhance this natural process, several laboratories, including his own, have made various types of “artificial APCs”—tiny inanimate spheres “decorated” with pieces of tumor proteins and danger signals. These are then often used in immunotherapy techniques in which are collected from a cancer patient and mixed with the artificial APCs. When they interact with the patient’s T-cells, the T-cells are activated, learn to recognize the tumor cell proteins and multiply over the course of several days. The immune cells can then be transferred back into the patient to seek out and kill .

The cell-based technique has had only limited success and involves risks due to growing the cells outside the body, Green says. These downsides sparked interest in the team to improve the technique by making biodegradable artificial APCs that could be administered directly into a potential patient and that would better mimic the interactions of natural APCs with T-cells. “When immune cells in the body come in contact, they’re not doing so like two billiard balls that just touch ever so slightly,” explains Green. “Contact between two cells involves a significant overlapping surface area. We thought that if we could flatten the particles, they might mimic this interaction better than spheres and activate the T-cells more effectively.”

To flatten the particles, two M.D./Ph.D. students, Joel Sunshine and Karlo Perica, figured out how to embed a regular batch of spherical particles in a thin layer of a glue-like compound. When they heated the resulting sheet of particles, it stretched like taffy, turning the round spheres into tiny football shapes. Once cooled, the film could be dissolved to free each of the microscopic particles that could then be outfitted with the tumor proteins and danger signals. When they compared typical spherical and football-shaped particles—both coated with tumor proteins and danger signals at equivalent densities and mixed with T-cells in the laboratory—the T-cells multiplied many more times in response to the stretched particles than to spherical ones. In fact, by stretching the original spheres to varying degrees, they found that, up to a point, they could increase the multiplication of the T-cells just by lengthening the “footballs.”

When the particles were injected into mice with skin cancer, the T-cells that interacted with the elongated artificial APCs, versus spherical ones, were also more successful at killing tumor cells. Schneck says that tumors in mice that were treated with round particles reduced tumor growth by half, while elongated particles reduced tumor growth by three-quarters. Even better, he says, over the course of a one-month trial, 25 percent of the mice with skin cancer being treated with elongated particles survived, while none of the mice in the other treatment groups did.

According to Green, “This adds an entirely new dimension to studying cellular interactions and developing new artificial APCs. Now that we know that shape matters, scientists and engineers can add this parameter to their studies,” says Green. Schneck notes, “This project is a great example of how interdisciplinary science by two different groups, in this case one from biomedical engineering and another from pathology, can change our entire approach to tackling a problem. We’re now continuing our work together to tweak other characteristics of the artificial APCs so that we can optimize their ability to activate T- inside the body.”

Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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Researchers identify key proteins that help establish cell function


Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new way to parse and understand how special proteins called “master regulators” read the genome, and consequently turn genes on and off.

Writing in the October 13, 2013 Advance Online Publication of Nature, the scientists say their approach could make it quicker and easier to identify specific gene associated with increased – an essential step toward developing future targeted treatments, preventions and cures for conditions ranging from diabetes to neurodegenerative disease.

“Given the emerging ability to sequence the genomes of individual patients, a major goal is to be able to interpret that DNA sequence with respect to disease risk. What diseases is a person genetically predisposed to?” said principal investigator Christopher Glass, MD, PhD, a professor in the departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego.

“Mutations that occur in protein-coding regions of the genome are relatively straight forward, but most mutations associated with disease risk actually occur in regions of the genome that do not code for proteins,” said Glass. “A central challenge has been developing a strategy that assesses the potential functional impact of these non-coding mutations. This paper lays the foundation for doing so by examining how natural genetic variation alters the function of genomic regions controlling gene expression in a cell specific-manner.”

Cells use hundreds of different proteins called transcription factors to “read” the genome, employing those instructions to turn genes on and off. These factors tend to be bound close together on the genome, forming functional units called “enhancers.” Glass and colleagues hypothesized that while each cell has tens of thousands of enhancers consisting of myriad combinations of factors, most enhancers are established by just a handful of special transcription factors called “master regulators.” These master regulators play crucial, even disproportional, roles in defining each cell’s identity and function, such as whether it will be a muscle, skin or heart cell.

“Our main idea was that the binding of these master regulators is necessary for the co-binding of the other transcription factors that together enable enhancers to regulate the expression of nearby genes,” Glass said.

The scientists tested and validated their hypothesis by looking at the effects of approximately 4 million DNA sequence differences affecting master regulators in macrophage cells in two strains of mice. Macrophages are a type of immune response cell. They found that DNA sequence mutations deciphered by master regulators not only affected how they bound to the genome, but also impacted neighboring needed to make functional .

The findings have practical importance for scientists and doctors investigating the genetic underpinnings of disease, said Glass. “Without actual knowledge of where the master regulator binds, there is relatively little predictive value of the DNA sequence for non-coding variants. Our work shows that by collecting a focused set of data for the master regulators of a particular cell type, one can greatly reduce the ‘search space’ of the in a particular cell type that would be susceptible to the effects of mutations. This allows prioritization of mutations for subsequent analysis, which can lead to new discoveries and real-world benefits.”

Source:  University of California – San Diego

Elephants ‘understand human gesture’


In this brief clip of two of the trials, Professor Richard Byrne describes how the elephants got the point from the first test.

African elephants have demonstrated what appears to be an instinctive understanding of human gestures, according to UK scientists.

In a series of tests, researcher Ann Smet, of the University of St Andrews, offered the animals a choice between two identical buckets, then pointed at the one containing a hidden treat.

From the first trial, the elephants chose the correct bucket.

Animal keeper Rachel Melling describes the bond she feels with the elephants she works with and how they “respond to body language”.

The scientists worked with captive elephants at a lodge in Zimbabwe.

Prof Richard Byrne, a co-author on the research, said the elephants had been rescued from culling operations and trained for riding.

“They specifically train the elephants to respond to vocal cues. They don’t use any gestures at all,” said Prof Byrne.

“The idea is that the handler can walk behind the elephant and just tell it what to do with words.”

Despite this, the animals seemed to grasp the meaning of pointing from the outset. This makes them the only non-human animals to understand the gesture without being trained to do so.

In previous studies, Prof Byrne said, our closest primate cousins, the chimpanzees, proved to be “hopeless” at at similar task.

Ms Smet added that she had been impressed by the animals’ apparently innate understanding of the gesture.

“Of course we had hoped that the elephants would be able to learn to follow human pointing, or we wouldn’t have done the experiment in the first place,” she said.

“But it was really surprising that they didn’t seem to have to learn anything.

“It seems that understanding pointing is an ability elephants just possess naturally and they are cognitively much more like us than has been realised.”

Nature’s giants

  • African elephants are the largest living land animals
  • Until recently there was one species of elephant in Africa – but they are now classified as either forest or bush (or savannah) elephants
  • Forest elephants, as the name suggests, are found in equatorial forests and have straighter trunks and rounded ears
  • Bush elephants are more widespread, mostly south of the Sahara in a range of habitats including savannah, swamps and deserts

Prof Byrne said studying elephants helped build a map of part of the evolutionary tree that is very distant from humans.

“They’re so unrelated to us,” he told BBC News. “So if we find human-like abilities in an animal like an elephant, that hasn’t shared a common ancestor with people for more than 100 million years , we can be pretty sure that it’s evolved completely separately, by what’s called convergent evolution.”

The researchers said their findings might explain how elephants have successfully been tamed and have “historically had a close bond with humans, in spite of being potentially dangerous and unmanageable due to their great size”.

But the scientists added the results could be a hint that the animals gesture to one another in the wild with their “highly controllable trunks”.

Ms Smet told BBC News: “The next step [in our research] is to test whether when an elephant extends its trunk upwards and outwards – as they regularly do, such as when detecting a predator, this functions as a point.”

Whose science is it anyway?


Whose science is it anyway?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24477064

New Study Shows Evidence That Vitamin K2 Positively Impacts Inflammation.


Story at-a-glance

  • A specific type of vitamin K2 (MK-7) may help prevent inflammation, according to new research
  • Vitamin K2, particularly menaquinone-7 (MK-7), has been the subject of extensive research because it stays active in your body longer enabling your body to benefit from much lower levels
  • Vitamin K2 works synergistically with a number of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D; one of its biological roles is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth
  • MK-7 is found in high levels in the fermented soybean-based food called natto, certain cheeses such as Edam and Brie, and can also be taken in supplement form.

Chronic Pain

 

Chronic inflammation is low-grade and systemic, often silently damaging your tissues over an extended period of time. This process can go on for decadeswithout you noticing, until disease symptoms suddenly occur long after irreversible damage is done.

Chronic inflammation is the source of many diseases, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease, which essentially makes it the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Knowing how to keep chronic inflammation at bay is also invaluable in protecting your health, which brings us to a new study on vitamin K2 presented at the 13th International Nutrition and Diagnostics Conference (INDC 2013) in the Czech Republic.1

The study revealed that a specific type of vitamin K2 (MK-7) may help prevent inflammation. But before I get into the details, it’s important to understand the different forms that vitamin K comes in.

The Two Basic Types of Vitamin K – K1 and K2

Vitamin K can be classified as either K1 or K2:

    1. Vitamin K1: Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of K that infants need to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.)

It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.

    1. Vitamin K2: Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately most is passed out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones and tissues other than your liver.

It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K1 can convert to K2 in your body, but there are some problems with this; the amount of K2 produced by this process alone is typically insufficient. Making matters even more complex, there are several different forms of vitamin K2. MK-8 and MK-9 come primarily from dairy products. MK-4 and MK-7 are the two most significant forms of K2 and act very differently in your body:

    • MK-4 is a synthetic product, very similar to vitamin K1, and your body is capable of converting K1 into MK-4. However, MK-4 has a very short biological half-life of about one hour, making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement.

After reaching your intestines, it remains mostly in your liver, where it is useful in synthesizing blood-clotting factors.

    • MK-7 is a newer agent with more practical applications because it stays in your body longer; its half-life is three days, meaning you have a much better chance of building up a consistent blood level, compared to MK-4 or K1. MK-7 is extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called natto.

You could actually get loads of MK-7 from consuming natto, as it is relatively inexpensive and is available in most Asian food markets. Few Americans, however, tolerate its smell and slimy texture.

Vitamin K2 as MK-7 Helps Prevent Inflammation in Your Body

Vitamin K2, particularly menaquinone-7 (MK-7), has been the subject of much research because it stays active in your body longer so you are able to benefit from much lower levels. The study from the Czech Republic evaluated the role of MK-7 in inflammation and found that it prevents inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory markers produced by white blood cells called monocytes.

NattoPharma reported:2

The novel finding in our study supplements our three-year clinical study showing MK-7’s ability to slow down cardiovascular aging and osteoporosis, and it should further serve as the catalyst to create the urgency of daily consumption of MK-7… We know that in Western populations, most people do not obtain enough due to modern diet.

Our food is increasingly deficient in vitamin K2 in particular, and up to 98% of the general healthy population may be vitamin K2 insufficient with long-term detrimental impact on bone and cardiovascular health.”

It’s important to realize that dietary components can either trigger or preventinflammation from taking root in your body. For example, whereas synthetic trans fats and sugar, particularly fructose, will increase inflammation, eating healthy fats such as animal-based omega-3 fats found in krill oil or the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) will help to reduce them.

MK-7 appears to be one more healthful natural substance that can be added to the anti-inflammatory list, and I’ll discuss the best food sources of this shortly.

As for inflammation in general, if you have not already addressed your diet, this would be the best place to start, regardless of whether you’re experiencing symptoms of chronic inflammation or not. To help you get started, I suggest following my free Optimized Nutrition Plan, which starts at the beginner phase and systematically guides you step-by-step to the advanced level.

What Else Is Vitamin K2 Good For?

The health benefits of vitamin K2 go far beyond blood clotting, which is done by vitamin K1, and vitamin K2 also works synergistically with a number of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Its biological role is to helpmove calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.

Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a naturopathic physician, estimates that about 80 percent of Americans do not get enough vitamin K2 in their diet to activate their K2 proteins to shuttle the calcium where it needs to be and remove it from the places where it shouldn’t be. Vitamin K2 deficiency leaves you vulnerable to a number of chronic diseases, including:

Osteoporosis Heart disease Heart attack and stroke
Inappropriate calcification, from heel spurs to kidney stones Brain disease Cancer

 

“I talked about vitamin K2 moving calcium around the body. Its other main role is to activate proteins that control cell growth. That means K2 has a very important role to play in cancer protection,” Rheaume-Bleue says. “When we’re lacking K2, we’re at much greater risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. And these are three concerns that used to be relatively rare. Over the last 100 years, as we’ve changed the way we produced our food and the way we eat, they have become very common.”

Researchers are also looking into other health benefits, as well. For example, one study published in the journal Modern Rheumatology found that vitamin K2 has the potential to improve disease activity besides osteoporosis in those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).3 Another, published in the journal Science found that vitamin K2 serves as a mitochondrial electron carrier, thereby helping maintain normal adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in mitochondrial dysfunction, such as that found in Parkinson’s disease.4 Further, according to a 2009 Dutch study, subtypes MK-7, MK-8 and MK-9 in particular are associated with reduced vascular calcification even at small dietary intakes (as low as 1 to 2 mcg per day).5

What Are the Best Food Sources of Vitamin K2, Including MK-7?

You can obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. However, natto is generally not appealing to a Westerner’s palate, so you can also find vitamin K2, including MK-7, in other fermented foods. Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, primarily for supplying beneficial bacteria back into your gut, can be a great source of vitamin K if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture.

We had samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture tested, and were shocked to discover that not only does a typical serving of about two to three ounces contain about 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, but it also contained 500 mcg of vitamin K2.

Note that not every strain of bacteria makes K2. For example, most yogurts have almost no vitamin K2. Certain types of cheeses are very high in K2, and others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria. You can’t assume that any fermented food will be high in K2, but some fermented foods are very high in K2, such as natto. Others, such as miso and tempeh, are not high in K2. In my interview with Dr. Rheamue-Bleue, she identified the cheeses highest in K2 are Gouda and Brie, which contain about 75 mcg per ounce. Additionally, scientists have found high levels of MK-7 in a type ofcheese called Edam.

How Much Vitamin K2 Do You Need?

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about overdosing on K2—people have been given a thousand-fold “overdose” over the course of three years, showing no adverse reactions (i.e., no increased clotting tendencies). If you have any of the following health conditions, you’re likely deficient in vitamin K2 as they are all connected to K2:

  • Do you have osteoporosis?
  • Do you have heart disease?
  • Do you have diabetes?

Please note also that if you opt for oral vitamin D, you also need to consume vitamin K2 in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2, as they work synergistically together and an imbalance may actually be harmful. If you do not have any of those health conditions, but do NOT regularly eat high amounts of the following foods, then your likelihood of being vitamin K2 deficient is still very high:

  • Grass-fed organic animal products (i.e. eggs, butter, dairy)
  • Certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria
  • Certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda (as mentioned, these two are particularly high in K2, containing about 75 mcg per ounce)

If You’re Considering a Vitamin K2 Supplement …

There’s no way to test for vitamin K2 deficiency. But by assessing your diet and lifestyle as mentioned above you can get an idea of whether or not you may be lacking in this critical nutrient.  The next best thing to dietary vitamin K2 is a vitamin K2 supplement. MK-7 is the form you’ll want to look for in supplements, because in a supplement form the MK-4 products are actually synthetic. They are not derived from natural food products containing MK-4. The MK-7– long-chain, natural bacterial-derived vitamin K2– is from a fermentation process, which offers a number of health advantages:

  • It stays in your body longer
  • It has a longer half-life, which means you can just take it once a day in very convenient dosing

Finally, remember to always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

10 Things You Should Know About Raw Milk.


In recent years, there’s been a crackdown on small dairies producing raw milk, designed as an obstacle to the growing legions of consumers demanding healthier and more flavorful milk. Raw milk has been deemed “unfit” for human consumption by the FDA and other government sting operations, and the public propagandized into fearing it. According to some fear-mongers, for example, raw milk causes rabies.

David Gumpert, author of popular blog The Complete Patient and forthcoming book Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights (Chelsea Green, Oct 2009), asks an important question: How much of the fear-mongering from the pro-pasteurization people is real, and how much is propaganda from Big Agribusiness? Gumpert says the anti-raw-milk campaign is just another governmental technique to sanitize the food supply—even in the face of ever-increasing rates of chronic disease like asthma, diabetes, and allergies.

Here are 10 things you should know about raw milk that the government won’t tell you:

1. Raw milk is healthier: Pasteurized milk is accused of causing everything from allergies to heart disease to cancer, but back in the day, these diseases were rare. In fact, clean raw milk from grass-fed cows is chock full of healthy amino acids and beneficial enzymes, and was used as a cure.

2. Raw milk does not make you sick: That is, if it is properly collected from cows fed good, clean grass. Grass-fed milk has natural antibiotic properties that help protect it from pathogenic bacteria. But it’s worth noting, if you’ve been using pasteurized dairy products, you might want to eat small amounts of yogurt or kefir for a week or so, for a dose of probiotics, just to be safe. I did, and it helped.

3. Not all raw milk is the same: The cow’s diet, how and where it’s raised, and how the milk is collected are all factors in the safety and quality of raw milk. Cows pastured on organic green grass produce milk with good health benefits. It’s good to know where your milk is coming from.

4. Pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat TB, infant diarrhea, undulant fever and other diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. But modern stainless steel tanks, milking machines, refrigerated trucks, and inspection are enough of a precaution, and pasteurization has become irrelevant.

5. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

6. Calves fed pasteurized milk don’t do very well, and many die before maturity. Scary, considering the milk originally came from their mom.

7. Raw milk sours naturally but pasteurized milk turns putrid; processors must remove slime and pus from pasteurized milk by a process called centrifugal clarification. Gross.

8. Inspection of dairy herds for disease is not required for pasteurized milk. This means, pasteurization is used as a nifty way to wash away all forms of bad bacteria that are allowed to flourish freely before the process. Imagine that for a second.

9. Raw milk has more butterfat, which is rich in fatty acids that protect against disease and stimulate the immune system. Skim milk doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for you, in other words.

10. Pasteurization laws favor large, industrialized dairy operations and push out small farmers. When farmers have the right to sell raw milk directly to their consumers, they can make a decent living even with a small number of cows. Support small farmers!

Probiotics may save patients from deadly chemotherapy.


If you or someone you love is facing the possibility of cancer or chemotherapy, make sure they read this story. Breakthrough new science conducted at the University of Michigan and about to be published in the journal Nature reveals that intestinal health is the key to surviving chemotherapy.

 

The study itself is very difficult for laypeople to parse, however, so I’m going to translate into everyday language while also offering additional interpretations of the research that the original study author is likely unable to state due to the nutritional censorship of medical journals and universities, both of which have an anti-nutrition bias.

The upshot is this: A clinical study gave mice lethal injections of chemotherapy that would, pound for pound, kill most adult human beings, too. The study authors openly admit: “All tumors from different tissues and organs can be killed by high doses of chemotherapy and radiation, but the current challenge for treating the later-staged metastasized cancer is that you actually kill the [patient] before you kill the tumor.” (See sources below.)

Chemotherapy is deadly. It is the No. 1 cause of death for cancer patients in America, and the No. 1 side effect of chemo is more cancer. But certain mice in the study managed to survive the lethal doses of chemo. How did they do that? They were injected with a molecule that your own body produces naturally. It’s production is engineered right into your genes, and given the right gene expression in an environment of good nutrition (meaning the cellular environment), you can generate this substance all by yourself, 24 hours a day.

The substance is called “Rspo1″ or “R-spondon1.” It activates stem cell production within your own intestinal walls, and these stem cells are like super tissue regeneration machines that rebuild damaged tissues faster than the chemotherapy can destroy them, thereby allowing the patient to survive an otherwise deadly does of chemo poison.

As the study showed, 50 – 75 percent of the mice who were given R-spondon1 survived the fatal chemotherapy dose!

The cancer industry needs to find a way to stop killing all their customers

The problem with the cancer industry today is that all the conventional cancer treatments keep killing the patients. This is bad for business. So the purpose of research like the R-spondon1 research mentioned here — which was funded by a government grant — is to find ways to keep giving patients deadly doses of high-profit chemotherapy without actually killing them. You slap a patient with a dose of R-spondon1 (sold at $50,000 a dose as a patented “drug,” of course), dose ‘em up with a fatal injection of chemotherapy, and then thanks to the R-spondon1 you get a repeat cancer customers instead of a corpse.

That’s called “good business practices” in the cancer industry, which is so far best known for turning patients into body bags rather than actually curing cancer.

(Yes, there is a reason why most oncologists would never undergo chemotherapy themselves. They know it doesn’t work on 98% of all cancers.)

Probiotics are likely the key to generating your own R-spondon1

Before I discuss why these findings are so important for followers of natural health and nutrition, let me first offer a disclaimer. The research mentioned here was conducted on mice, not humans, so it isn’t full proof that the same mechanism works in humans. Nevertheless, the reason mice are used for such research is because they are nearly identical to humans in terms of biology, gene expression, endocrine system function and more.

Furthermore, even though this study used an injection of R-spondon1 as the “activator” of gene expression in endothelial cells of the intestinal lining, in truth your cells already possess the blueprint to produce R-spondon1 on their own. In fact, human intestines are coated with a layer of epithelial cells that are regenerated every 4-5 days in a healthy person. This is only possible through the activation and continued operation of intestinal stem cells, a normal function for a healthy human.

And what determines the health of those stem cells more than anything else? Their local environment which is predominantly determined by gut bacteria. If your gut bacteria are in balance, the gene expression of your epithelial cells is normal and healthy. If your gut bacteria are out of whack, so to speak, the gene expression of your epithelial cells will be suppressed, thereby slowing or halting the regenerative potential of your intestinal cells. This is why people who have imbalanced intestinal flora also suffer from inflammatory intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s, IBS and so on.

Thus, probiotics are a key determining factor in the ability of your intestines to maintain the appropriate gene expression for the very kind of rapid cellular regeneration that can help your body survive a fatal dose of chemotherapy.

Meat and dairy cause devastating gut flora imbalances that may increase susceptibility to chemotherapy drugs

This may also explain why people who eat large quantities of processed meat, cheese and dead, pasteurized dairy products — especially when combined with starchy carbohydrates and processed sugars — are far more likely to die from chemotherapy than people who eat more plant-based diets. (There isn’t yet a source to substantiate this claim, but it’s something I’ve noted from considerable personal observation. You may have noticed it too among your own family members who have undergone chemotherapy treatments. Those with the worst diets seem to have far higher fatality rates.)

Those who consume processed meat and dead dairy have their intestines filled with fiber-less, difficult-to-digest proteins that are putrefied and sit in the intestines for 2 – 5 days, typically. Dietary sugars and carbohydrates then feed the bacteria fermentation process, resulting in the rapid growth and replication of sugar-feeding bacteria that displace the kind of healthy flora which best protect intestinal wall cells.

This imbalance, I suggest, increases susceptibility to chemotherapy toxicity while simultaneously impairing the ability of the patient to absorb key nutrients that protect healthy cells from the toxicity of chemo drugs. This may explain why patients who heavily consume meat, cheese and dairy diets tend to die so easily when exposed to chemotherapy.

But there’s something even more alarming about all this that everyone needs to know…

Antibiotics may also set you up to be killed by chemo

Although the research did not directly address this question, its findings seem to indicate that the kind of gut bacteria “wipeout” caused by antibiotics could prove fatal to a chemotherapy patient.

This is especially worrisome because many cancer patients are simultaneously prescribed antibiotics as they undergo chemotherapy. This could be a death sentence in disguise. While neither the antibiotics nor the chemo directly kill the patient, the combination of sterilized gut bacteria and highly-toxic chemotherapy drugs could multiply the toxicity and prove fatal. The death certificate, however, will say the patient died from “cancer,” not from the chemotherapy which is usually the actual cause of death.

And yet, every single day in America, patients who are taking antibiotics are subjected to multiple courses of chemotherapy. This may quite literally be a death sentence for those patients.

There’s also a self-fulfilling death spiral at work in all this: following the first round of chemotherapy, many patients suffer from weakened immune system that result in symptomatic infections. Physicians respond to this by prescribing antibiotics, resulting in the patient undergoing subsequent rounds of chemotherapy with “wiped out” gut flora. So the chemo causes the problem in the first place, and then the response to the problem by western doctors makes the next round of chemo fatal. This is a self-fulfilling death spiral of failed medicine.

Oncologists seem to have no awareness whatsoever of the importance of gut bacteria in allowing patients to protect their own healthy cells from the devastating effects of chemotherapy drugs. Many oncologists, in fact, actively discourage their patients from taking any sort of supplements during chemotherapy out of an irrational, anti-scientific fear that such supplements may “interfere” with the chemo and make the treatment fail.

This is one of the many ways in which oncologists get cancer patients killed.

Takeaway points from this article:

• New research shows that a substance generated by intestinal stem cells allows subjects to survive an otherwise fatal dose of toxic chemotherapy.

• Healthy gene expression of intestinal cells allows them to naturally produce protective molecules that support and boost cell regeneration.

• Probiotics may protect and support the intestinal stem cells that help cancer patients survive toxic chemotherapy. (More studies needed to explore this and document the impact.)

• Antibiotics may be a death sentence when followed by chemotherapy.

• Oncologists need to consider the risks and benefits of postponing chemotherapy in patients who are simultaneously taking antibiotics. The combination may be deadly. Conversely, they need to consider the benefits of encouraging chemotherapy patients to take probiotic supplements before beginning chemotherapy treatment.

Source: naturalnews.com

Liquorice could hold the key to beating the most lethal forms of skin cancer, scientists say.


Research carried out in the US has identified a compound found in liquorice root which slowed the growth of cancer cells during laboratory tests. Now they hope the tumour-busting compound can be developed into a new drug to combat malignant melanoma.

Previous studies have found liquorice contains an anti-cancer chemical called glycyrrhizin. But attempts to turn it into a medicine have been hampered by the fact that long-term consumption of glycyrrhizin can cause high blood pressure and even swelling on the brain. But experts at the University of Minnesota in the US have now found another ingredient – called Isoangustone A – which has the same benefits but without the dangerous side-effects. Malignant melanoma kills around 1,700 people a year in the UK and is the third most common cancer in people aged 15 to 39. Over-exposure to the sun’s rays is the biggest cause and since the mid-1990s there has been a 24 per cent increase in cases.

Some evidence suggests even a few early bouts of sunburn in childhood can be enough to trigger the cellular changes in moles that lead to skin cancer later in life. Cells within moles become cancerous and start to divide uncontrollably, eventually spreading through the body.

In the latest research, scientists extracted Isoangustone A from liquorice root and applied it to skin cancer cells in the laboratory. The compound slowed down the rate at which melanoma cells reproduce, partly by blocking the release of certain proteins needed for them to flourish. When the scientists gave the extract to mice with skin cancer, it had the same effect – suppressing growth of the tumour.

Liquorice is already a popular remedy for cold sores. A balm made from the root can reduce the severity of outbreaks. But too much liquorice can be harmful. But don’t eat too much! A Scottish study found children born to women who ate over 100 grammes a week during pregnancy performed worse in intelligence tests at school and the harmful compound glycyrrhizin was blamed. So don’t go out buying the candy and eating tons of it to try to prevent or cure cancer. It’s looking like you need a pure extract.

Published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, scientists said: ‘Liquorice root is known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.”

Other ailments liquorice is used to treat include:

Hepatitis The anti-inflammatory properties of liquorice is said to help calm hepatitis-associated liver inflammation. Liquorice is also said to fight the hepatitis C virus and supplies valuable antioxidant compounds that help maintain the overall health of the liver. Results from large-scale high quality studies are not available.

Dyspepsia (Heartburn) According to the US National Library of Medicine, liquorice may be an effective treatment for heartburn when used in combination with other herbs. Sold as Iberogast or STW5, research suggests that the formulation significantly reduces severity of acid reflux and associated pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

Eczema In one study, liquorice gel, applied to the skin, helped relieve symptoms of itching, swelling, and redness, reports the University of Maryland Medical Centre. A gel with 2 per cent liquorice worked better than a gel with 1 per cent liquorice.

Cancer Laboratory studies have identified several substances in liquorice that may help prevent DNA mutations, inhibit tumour formation, or even kill cancer cells, says The American Cancer Society. While animal studies suggest some chemicals from liquorice might be useful in preventing or treating some forms of cancer, human clinical trials are yet to be carried out.

Liquorice has also been associated with weight loss. According to the University of Maryland, consumption of liquorice was linked to body fat mass in one study. Another study found that glycyrrhetinic acid (a component of liquorice) reduced the thickness of fat on the thigh in human subjects. A study carried out by Japanese scientists and published in Obesity Research and Clinical Practice linked the consumption of liquorice flavonoid oil to significant decreases in total body fat mass, weight, BMI and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Medicinal forms of liquorice include wafers, tinctures, tablets, lozenges, teas, loose dried herbs, creams and capsules. To treat a cough, wholehealthmd.com suggests 1 teaspoon of liquid liquorice extract in 1 cup of hot water 3 times a day. For PMS, 200 mg of standardised extract three times a day for the 10 days preceding your period is recommended.

Last year in Germany, where around 500 tonnes of liquorice are imported each year, liquorice was named “the medicinal plant of 2012”. Professor Johannes Mayer, an expert on the history of medicinal botany at the University of Würzburg, noted the myriad indications of liquorice, used medicinally since ancient times. “Liquorice is special because it can quickly soothe sore throats and coughs and was used centuries ago to treat coughing, hoarseness and asthma by Ancient Greek and Egyptian physicians,” he said.

     

Vigorous Exercise May Significantly Lower Your Stroke Risk.


Story at-a-glance

  • A new study shows that vigorously exercising at least four times per week can reduce your risk of a stroke, especially if you’re a man; the results are unclear if you’re a woman
  • This study (and some prior studies) seem to suggest that women may respond better to less vigorous exercise, such as walking, although most studies don’t take into account that all forms of cardio are not equal
  • Vigorous exercise is important for overall health, but conventional cardio is risky due to the extreme stress on your heart, which may cause inflammation, plaque, arrhythmias, and even heart attack or stroke
  • Regardless of your gender or age, you can optimize your exercise benefits by doing high-intensity interval training, which pushes your body hard enough for a challenge while allowing adequate time for recovery and repair
  • You can further reduce your stroke risk by getting adequate sunshine for the vitamin D and nitric oxide benefits, grounding yourself to the earth, and consuming adequate fiber, especially the soluble variety.
  • Vigorous Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy. The benefits of exercise for lowering your heart attack risk, reducing stress, and helping to prevent obesity and diabetes are widely known.

Well, now you can add another big one to your list of benefits from breaking a sweat: reduced risk of stroke.

The American Heart Association reports 800,000 Americans suffer from stroke each year. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the US and the fourth leading cause of death. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, because for the most part, strokes are the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Recent research published in the journal Stroke1 found that, if you’re inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.

The study involved more than 27,000 Americans for an average of 5.7 years, male and female, Caucasian and African-American. It included a larger proportion of people from the “Stroke Belt” states, where stroke rates are higher (Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama).

The connection between vigorous exercise and stroke risk was very clear in men, but interestingly, less clear in women. Lead researcher Dr. Michelle McDonnell speculates that women may benefit more from less vigorous exercise, such as walking, which this study did not examine.2

Stroke Rates Increasing Among Younger People

Your risk of stroke increases with age, with most occurring after age 55. However, younger people are increasingly at risk, according to the latest statistics.

The rate of strokes among younger people (under age 55) nearly doubled between 1993 and 2005.3 The primary driving forces behind this are increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure—which can all increase your risk for suffering a devastating stroke.

Stress is also a significant risk factor for stroke, just as it is for heart attack. According to a 2008 study in Neurology,4 the more stressed you are, the greater your stroke risk—especially a fatal one. Heart attacks and stroke have many other risk factors in common, including:

A Stroke Is a ‘Heart Attack in Your Brain’

Heart attacks and strokes are both events in which cells die from lack of oxygen. With a heart attack, your heart is the affected organ, but with a stroke, it’s your brain.

A stroke involves either a rupture of an artery that feeds your brain (hemorrhagic stroke), or an obstruction of blood flow (ischemic stroke), with the ischemic type representing 75 percent of all strokes. In both types, your brain does not get enough oxygen and glucose, in addition to pooled blood putting physical pressure on areas of your brain.

And then there are mini-strokes, or TIAs (transient ischemic attacks). Each year, as many as 500,000 Americans experience TIAs, caused by temporary blockages in cerebral blood vessels, with symptoms similar to those of a stroke but oftentimes milder and shorter in duration.

Although less imminently dangerous than a full stroke, they should NOT be ignored. According to an article by Loyola University Medical Center’s journal,Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 10 to 15 percent of people experiencing TIAs will experience a full-blown stroke within three months, and 40 percent of those will occur in the first 24 hours.5 Stroke victims experience a variety of sudden symptoms, the most common being those listed in the table that follows.

Weakness, numbness, or paralysis in one arm or leg Sudden speech difficulties
Loss of coordination or trouble walking Confusion, memory loss or other sudden cognitive deficit
One-sided facial paralysis or facial droop Sudden visual problems
Sudden severe headache Dizziness

If you or someone you love suffers a stroke, getting medical help quickly can mean the different between life and death, or permanent disability. This is an area where conventional medicine excels, as there are emergency medications that can dissolve a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your brain. If done quickly enough, emergency medicine can prevent or reverse permanent neurological damage—but you typically need treatment within one hour, which means the faster you recognize the warning signs, the better the prognosis. The National Stroke Association recommends using the FAST acronym to help remember the warning signs of stroke:6

F = FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?

T = TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Exercise Reduces Stroke Risk—But ONLY the Right Kind of Exercise

There have been a number of scientific studies about the benefits of exercise in stroke prevention, and recovery from stroke. Differences between men and women, in terms of the type of exercise that is best, have appeared in more than one study to date. The thing to keep in mind is, not only is it important to get enough exercise, but you must be doing thecorrect kind of exercise if you want to reap the benefits, which I’ll be discussing in more detail shortly. Further research is definitely needed in order to clarify how much and what type of exercise is best for men and women, in terms of preventing stroke.

  • ·A 2013 study published in Stroke7 concluded that walking at least three hours per week reduces stroke risk in womenbetter than inactivity, but also better than high intensity cardio. This may have something to do with the inordinate amount of physical stress “conventional cardio” has on the heart, and the fact that people generally do too much of it for too long. Perhaps women are more susceptible to these risks than men.

Conventional cardio can cause arrhythmias, and in some cases, atrial fibrillation (A-fib), which is a known risk factor for stroke. It would be of value to study the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on stroke risk in both men and women, which is very different than conventional cardio. But unfortunately, when cardio has been studied, it’s usually the conventional type.

  • ·In 2009, a study in Neurology8 found that vigorous exercise reduces stroke risk in men, as well as helping them recover from a stroke better and faster. However, moderate to heavy exercise was not found to have a protective effect for women. I would expect the right type of cardio would be found to lower stroke risk in both men and women, but those studies have not yet been done.
  • ·In 2012, Canadian researchers found that stroke patients who exercised were able to improve problems with their memory, thinking, language and judgment by close to 50 percent in just six months. Notable improvements in attention, concentration, planning and organizing, as well as benefits to muscle strength and walking, were seen among stroke patients who exercised.
  • ·In 2008, a study published in Neurology9 found that people who are physically active before a stroke have less severe problems and recover better, compared to those who didn’t exercise prior to their stroke.

Several recent scientific studies indicate that conventional cardio, especially endurance exercises such as marathon and triathlon training, pose significant risks to your heart, some of which may be irreversible and life threatening. Long-distance running can lead to acute volume overload, inflammation, thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle and arteries, arterial calcification, arrhythmias, and potentially sudden cardiac arrest and stroke.

I don’t think anyone can argue against the fact that vigorous exercise is beneficial to your heart and brain, but conventional cardio is just not the way to do it. This could be why the cardio benefits to women are not being detected in these studies… but that’s just a theory.

Ideally, to get the most benefits from your exercise, you need to push your body hard enough for a challenge while allowing adequate time for recovery and repair to take place. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with HIIT, or high intensity interval training, which consists of short bursts of high-intensity exercise, as opposed to extended episodes of exertion. This is a core part of my Peak Fitness program, which Phil Campbell was instrumental in helping me develop. Briefly, a Peak Fitness routine typically includes:

  • ·Warm up for three minutes
  • ·Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds
  • ·Recover for 90 seconds
  • ·Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery cycle 7 more times

You can do HIIT by running/sprinting (if you love running), or by using gym equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical machine, or you can accomplish the same thing without running at all by doing super-slow weight training, as I demonstrate in the video above. HIIT maximizes your secretion of human growth hormone (HGH), optimizes your metabolism and helps regulate your insulin and blood sugar. And it takes far less time than training for a marathon! You can do a complete Peak Fitness workout in 20 minutes or less.

The Importance of Recovery

Remember, adequate recovery is crucial between workouts. This includes not only resting your body, but also giving it the nutrients it needs for complete recovery. Your post-workout meal can support or impair your recovery. For instance, consuming a fast-assimilating protein such as high-quality whey protein within 30 minutes of your workout will essentially “rescue” your muscles out of their catabolic state and supply them with the nutrients they need to make their repairs. Any sort of intense exercise should also be balanced with strength training, proper stretching, core strengthening, stress reduction, good sleep and an optimal nutrition plan. You’ll find much more information about HIIT and other types of exercise in the fitness section of my website.

Three Bonus Tips for Stroke Prevention

Here are three simple tips for further lowering your stroke risk—but by no means is this a comprehensive list. For more information about lifestyle changes specific to preventing stroke, please refer to this recent stroke prevention article.

  1. SunshineSunlight causes your skin to produce nitric oxide, a critical compound for optimizing your blood pressure, which reduces your risk for both heart attack and stroke. Nitric oxide enhances blood flow, promotes blood vessel elasticity, and functions as a signaling molecule in your brain and immune system.

And of course, exposing your skin to the sun also helps optimize your vitamin D level, which should be between 50 and 70ng/ml, or higher if you have a serious illness.

  1. Grounding. Walking barefoot on the Earth, aka “earthing” or “grounding,” has a potent antioxidant effect that helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body. It also makes your blood less prone to “hypercoagulation”—so, less apt to clot—and that reduces your stroke risk.

There is a constant flow of energy between our bodies and the earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet, which reduces the tendency of your blood cells to “clump together.” Technically, grounding increases the zeta potential of your red blood cells causing them to repel each other and become less sticky, very similar to a natural anticoagulant.

Research has demonstrated that it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, so make it a point to regularly walk barefoot on grass or on wet sand for about 90 minutes to two hours, if possible.

  1. Fiber. If you eat more fiber, you will probably reduce your chances of a stroke, according to a report in the journalStroke.10 For every seven grams more fiber you consume daily, your stroke risk is decreased by seven percent, according to this study.

Fiber is the non-digestible part of plants, which can be either soluble or non-soluble; soluble fiber was found to lower stroke risk the most. Soluble fiber can also help nurture beneficial gut bacteria, which are critical for good health. The American Heart Association and UK health authorities recommend adults consume 25 grams of dietary fiber each day, but I think you should get upwards of 32 grams per day and most Americans don’t get anywhere near this amount.

Great sources of fiber include seeds (especially chia, psyllium, sunflower, and organic flax), berries, vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, root vegetables and tubers (including onions and sweet potatoes), almonds, and beans (legumes).

CDC Reveals Disturbing Truth about Factory Farms and Superbugs..


Story at-a-glance

  • Agricultural usage accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the US, so it’s a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption
  • According to a new CDC report, antibiotics used in livestock plays a role in antibiotic resistance and “should be phased out”; 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is in fact linked to food
  • MRSA infection has been rapidly increasing among people outside hospital settings as well. Increasing evidence points to factory-scale hog facilities as a source
  • Previous research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store
  • Excessive exposure to antibiotics—which includes regularly eating antibiotic-laced CAFO meats—also takes a heavy toll on your gastrointestinal health. This in turn can predispose you to virtually any disease.
  • Antibiotics

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health worldwide, and the primary cause for this man-made epidemic is the widespread misuse of antibiotics.1

Antibiotic overuse occurs not just in medicine, but also in food production. In fact, agricultural usage accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the US,2 so it’s a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption.

According to a 2009 report3 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this subject, factory farms used a whopping 29 million pounds of antibiotics that year alone.

Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion, and those antibiotics are transferred to you via meat, and even through the animal manure that is used as crop fertilizer.

Antibiotics are also used to compensate for the crowded, unsanitary living conditions associated with large-scale confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

CDC Confirms Link Between CAFOs and Superbugs

Now, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention4 (CDC) has finally come out saying that yes, antibiotics used in livestock plays a role in antibiotic resistance and “should be phased out.” According to the CDC’s report,5 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is in fact linked to food. As reported by the featured article:6

“The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said that the report shows that drug-resistant hazards in the food supply pose a serious threat to public health. One-third of the 12 resistant pathogens that CDC categorized as a ‘serious’ threat to public health are found in food.”

The four drug-resistant pathogens in question are Campylobacter, which causes an estimated 310,000 infections and 28 deaths per year; Salmonella, responsible for another 100,000 infections and 38 deaths annually; along with E.coli and Shigella. To address this growing problem, the CDC’s report issues the following recommendations:

  • Avoid inappropriate antibiotic use in food animals
  • Track antibiotic use in food animals
  • Stop spread of Campylobacter among animals on farms
  • Improve food production and processing to reduce contamination
  • Educate consumers and food workers about safe food handling practices

Source: CDC.gov, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013

MRSA Spreading Via Hog Farms?

Two drug-resistant pathogens more commonly associated with antibiotic overuse in human medicine include Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infects more than 80,460 people and kills 11,285 people annually. Disturbingly, as discussed in a recent Mother Jones7 article, MRSA infection has been rapidly increasing among people outside hospital settings as well.

As stated in the article:

“Increasing evidence points to factory-scale hog facilities as a source. In a recent study,8 a team of researchers led by University of Iowa’s Tara Smith found MRSA in 8.5 percent of pigs on conventional farms and no pigs on antibiotic-free farms. Meanwhile, a study9, 10 just released by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who live near hog farms or places where hog manure is applied as fertilizer have a much greater risk of contracting MRSA.”

In the latter study, people with the highest exposure to manure were 38 percent more likely to contract community-associated MRSA, and 30 percent more likely to get healthcare-associated MRSA. Level of exposure was calculated based on proximity to hog farms, the size of the farms, and how much manure the farm in question used. 

Back in 2009 a University of Iowa study11 found that a full 70 percent of hogs and 64 percent of workers in industrial animal confinements tested positive for antibiotic-resistant MRSA. The study pointed out that, once MRSA is introduced, it could spread broadly to other swine and their caretakers, as well as to their families and friends.

In other parts of the world, such as the European Union, the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has been banned for years. Yet in the US this is still a topic of debate, with industry supporters trying to downplay the inevitable fact that this irresponsible use of antibiotics is most likely posing a serious risk to human health and the environment.

As reported in 2011, you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store. This shocking finding came from a study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute,12 which revealed that 47 percent of the meat and poultry samples tested contained antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. These were samples from 80 different brands of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey from more than two dozen grocery stores scattered across the United States, in large cities from Los Angeles to Washington D.C.

The fact that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are found so widely in US meat supplies is a major red flag, a sign that we are nearing the point of no return where superbugs will continue to flourish with very little we can do to stop them. While I am not one to recommend many medications, antibiotics can be VERY useful when you need to treat a serious bacterial infection. When used properly, in the correct contexts and with responsibility, antibiotics can and do save lives that are threatened by bacterial infections. But they will only remain effective if urgent changes are made to curb the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disease… and this will only happen with a serious reduction in their use now.

Choose Your Foods Wisely

Conventional medicine certainly needs to curtail its prescriptions for antibiotics, but even if you use antibiotics judiciously you’re still exposed to great amounts of antibiotics from the foods you eat, and this is entirely unnecessary. This is one of the primary reasons why I ONLY recommend organic, grass-fed, free-range meats or organic pastured chickens, as non-medical use of antibiotics is not permitted in organic farming. They’re also far superior to CAFO-raised meats in terms ofnutritional content.

To source pure, healthful meats, your best option is to get to know a local farmer — one who uses non-toxic farming methods. If you live in an urban area, there are increasing numbers of community-supported agriculture programsavailable that offer access to healthy, locally grown foods even if you live in the heart of the city. Being able to find high-quality meat is such an important issue for me personally that I’ve made connections with sources I know provide high-quality organic grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, both of which you can find in my online store. You can eliminate the shipping charges, however, if you find a trusted farmer locally. If you live in the US, the Weston Price Foundation13 also has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase these types of foods, including grass-fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

How CAFO Meats May Decimate Your Gut Health

Antibiotic-resistant disease is not the only danger associated with the misuse of these drugs. Excessive exposure to antibiotics—which includes regularly eating antibiotic-laced CAFO meats—also takes a heavy toll on your gastrointestinal health. This in turn can predispose you to virtually any disease. Protecting your gut health and reducing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are significant reasons for making sure you’re only eating grass-fed, organically-raised meats.

In related news, researchers at Oregon State University point out the close links between your gut health and a wide range of health issues.14 As noted in the university press release:

“Problems ranging from autoimmune disease to clinical depression and simple obesity may in fact be linked to immune dysfunction that begins with a ‘failure to communicate’ in the human gut, the scientists say. Health care of the future may include personalized diagnosis of an individual’s ‘microbiome’ to determine what prebiotics or probiotics are needed to provide balance.

Appropriate sanitation such as clean water and sewers are good. But some erroneous lessons in health care may need to be unlearned—leaving behind the fear of dirt, the love of antimicrobial cleansers, and the outdated notion that an antibiotic is always a good idea. We live in a world of ‘germs’ and many of them are good for us.

An emerging theory of disease, [Dr. Natalia] Shulzhenko said, is a disruption in the ‘crosstalk’ between the microbes in the human gut and other cells involved in the immune system and metabolic processes. ‘In a healthy person, these microbes in the gut stimulate the immune system as needed, and it in turn talks back,’ Shulzhenko said. ‘There’s an increasing disruption of these microbes from modern lifestyle, diet, overuse of antibiotics and other issues. With that disruption, the conversation is breaking down.’”

The widespread deterioration of people’s gut health can be traced back to the change in our modern diet. This includes the introduction of meats from unnaturally-raised livestock, fed genetically engineered corn and soy along with a mixture of antibiotics and other drugs. But another important dietary factor is the shunning of traditionally fermented foods, which are naturally high in the beneficial bacteria necessary for optimal gut health. Mounting research shows that beneficial bacteria in your gut is likely to have significant benefits to your health and may be essential for:

  • Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease
  • Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients and certain carbohydrates
  • Producing vitamins, absorbing minerals, and eliminating toxins
  • Preventing allergies
  • Maintaining natural defenses

Numerous studies have also shown that your gut flora plays a role in:

  • Mood, psychological health, and behavior
  • Celiac disease
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome

Nurturing Your Gut Flora Is One of the Foundations of Optimal Health

Besides antibiotics, your gut bacteria are also vulnerable to factors such as chlorinated water, antibacterial soaps, pollution, and agricultural chemicals—especially glyphosate, which, incidentally, is the most widely used herbicide in the world. To protect your gut health, it’s important to avoid processed, refined foods in your diet and to regularly reseed your gut with good bacteria by eating non-pasteurized, traditionally fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement.

One of the reasons why fermented foods are so beneficial is because they contain a wide variety of different beneficial bacteria. Also, if fermented with a probiotics starter culture, the amount of healthy bacteria in a serving of fermented vegetables can far exceed the amount you’ll find in commercial probiotics supplements, making it a very cost-effective alternative. Ideally, you want to eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of bacteria you’re consuming. Healthy options include:

Lassi (an Indian yogurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner) Various pickled fermentations of cabbage (sauerkraut), turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots Tempeh
Traditionally fermented raw milk such as kefir or yogurt, but NOT commercial versions, which typically do not have live cultures and are loaded with sugars that feed pathogenic bacteria Natto (fermented soy) Kim chee

 

When choosing fermented foods, steer clear of pasteurized versions, as pasteurization will destroy many of the naturally occurring probiotics. This includes most of the “probiotic” yogurts you find in every grocery store these days; since they’re pasteurized, they will be associated with all of the problems of pasteurized milk products. They also typically contain added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, and artificial sweeteners, all of which will only worsen your health.

When you first start out, you’ll want to start small, adding as little as half a tablespoon of fermented vegetables to each meal, and gradually working your way up to about a quarter to half a cup (2 to 4 oz) of fermented vegetables or other cultured food with one to three meals per day. Since cultured foods are efficient detoxifiers, you may experience detox symptoms, or a “healing crisis,” if you introduce too many at once. That said, three very positive changes occur when your good-to-bad intestinal bacteria ratio is brought back into balance:

  • Digestive problems diminish or disappear
  • Your immune system de-stresses and is better equipped to fight off disease of all kinds, contributing to a longer and healthier life
  • Your body begins to use all the good food and nutritional supplements you feed it