Antibiotics: Worth a Second Thought

AntibioticsIn 1943, a miraculous drug known as penicillin made its way into our world.  WWII soldiers’ lives were saved. Simple infections no longer risked death. It changed everything.  The development of new antibiotics continued, becoming more widespread and saving millions of lives. Now, antibiotics are essential to all modern medical technology, especially for enabling recovery from surgeries.

While antibiotics have saved many lives, they’re not without risk.  As each new antibiotic has been created, the bacteria have developed resistance.  The creator of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, warned:

“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism”

Every time your body is exposed to an antibiotic, the most sensitive bacteria are killed and the remaining get the opportunity to learn how to mutate. Since antibiotics do not discriminate, they kill both good and bad bacteria, ultimately weakening your immune system and leaving the stronger ones to flourish and multiply without good bacteria to balance them.

Not only are we giving ample opportunity for antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs” to flourish, but antibiotics also cause permanent damage to your own gut flora. Recent studies are suggesting that the boost in antibiotic use could be what’s behind the increase in issues like autism, ADD, Alzheimer’s and other brain dysfunction.  This is why a daily probiotic (helps promote good bacteria) and healthy, non-inflammatory diet are crucial.

Having had pneumonia and chronic respiratory infections as a kid, I took a lot of antibiotics.  While they may have helped in those cases, I was also prescribed many antibiotics when I didn’t need them- the most crazy being for acne for eight years… yikes!  My immune system was essentially destroyed and I was sick all the time; medication & additional antibiotics couldn’t help me.  Thankfully, the Lord healed me and I’ve since discovered how I can keep my immune system functioning properly through nutrition, supplements and essential oils.  Now, my body is equipped to do it’s job and fight infections naturally; that’s a really good thing since I’m now allergic to nearly all antibiotics and can’t take them when I get sick.

Resistance is an inevitable process that was fully expected, but it is occurring much quicker than anticipated.  Why?

  • Many 3rd world countries have these drugs available over-the-counter, allowing overexposure
  • In the US, 45-50% of the antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary, meaning they are given for conditions for which antibiotics cannot help at all (for example: viral infections)
  • Animals are pumped full of antibiotics to protect them from factory farming conditions and to make them fatter – 80% of all the antibiotics sold in the US go to farms and thus into the meat & dairy we eat.

Antibiotic resistance is currently causing 700,000 deaths per year, and it’s getting worse.  New antibiotics cannot be developed and tested in the time it takes for resistance to develop. We are drawing near to a future that looks a lot like the pre-antibiotic world. While that’s a little overwhelming, you and I can take some small steps towards change that, together, can make a real difference:

  1. Avoid eating conventional meat, dairy and seafood from factory farms and choose antibiotic-free, organic options instead.  Read more about why it matters here.
  2. If prescribed an antibiotic, ask your doctor if it is actually necessary (is a bacteria or virus causing the infection?) or to test if the kind prescribed will actually be effective against that particular bacteria.

The source of this information is a fascinating TEDHealth Talk: What do we do when antibiotics don’t work anymore?  I highly recommend you take a few minutes and watch it now:

For additional info…

If you have HBO GO/NOW, you should also check out VICE Season 3: Episode 6 for a real look at what antibiotic resistance looks like (preview here).

Listen to the famous neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter speak on the Bulletproof Radio podcast for a fascinating discussion of why what’s going on in our gut actually affects the brain.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the above statements are not intended to recommend nor discourage any form of treatment. This post is simply meant to provide information so that you can make informed choices on your health.

Advertisements

Doctored – Healthcare or Sick Care?

I used to be sick… really sick, all the time. I’ve seen dozens of doctors throughout my life and popped too many prescription pills to remember, trying to get better. But y’all, for the first time ever, I feel great.  And I haven’t seen a doctor in years now, or taken medication.  Coincidence?  It certainly doesn’t seem that way to me…

Before I begin my summary/commentary of the documentary Doctored, I want to be clear that it (and this blog) is meant to inform and raise awareness, not offend.  This documentary is an exposé on the business of medicine and the harm it’s caused to many people, including me; it’s not an attack on the healthcare professionals who work with the best of intentions to heal and save people’s lives.  I sincerely hope you’ve had a very different experience from mine, but I know that many of you have not.  This documentary really helped me understand they why behind it all and I feel compelled to share it with those of you who are/have been as frustrated as me with the lack of answers.

Modern western medicine came about to get rid of “quacks” who were scamming people into dangerous treatments.  It was created to give regulation and science to the methods of healing people. Morris Fishbein, the American Medical Association’s Executive Director from 1924 to 1949 felt that only doctors should treat people, but he was also clear that “Medicine is a profession; it must never become a business or a trade, never the subservient tool of a governmental bureaucracy.”  Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is now a far cry from that.  

Medicine is sick care, not health care. 8 out of 10 people will die of a chronic illness.  These illnesses are treated with medication that may fix the symptoms but ultimately sustains the problem, rather than healing it. Let’s be honest: if drugs cured us, then we would stop spending money. According to the World Health Organization, the United States spends more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.2%), than any other nation (according to 2011 figures, the most recent I could find).  Approximately 98% of the advertising revenue for medical journals in the United States is provided by pharmaceutical companies.  This seems like a slight conflict of interest to me.

“Medical school doesn’t teach doctors to address the root of the problem.  It teaches doctors to treat the problem.  It’s a practical science with practical aims… medicine is different from other sciences because more than being a science, it is first and foremost a business.”

– Dr. Cate Shanahan on her disillusionment with the industry of medicine and her desire & reason to become a doctor in Deep Nutrition

In my experience, the physicians that I have seen couldn’t figure out my problems.  Unfortunately, rather than trying to figure out why I was sick, they came up with ideas and prescribed medication to see if it worked.  But I got worse, not better.  And often, I was diagnosing myself.  Isn’t a doctor supposed to tell you what medication you need rather than you seeing a commercial, then going to the doctor to say you have the symptoms and need that pill?  When we are sick, we want the shortest route to the quickest fix.  And too often, so do our busy doctors.  The easy answer? Medicine.

Over the past year, I have seen dramatic healing by visiting my new chiropractor regularly.  I used to suffer from back and shoulder/neck/hip/foot/leg pain daily, (honestly, almost constantly).  Through regular adjustments and sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet, I have seen 95% improvement in my pain frequency and intensity.  It is simply remarkable and life changing.  What I have found incredible about fixing my spine is how much it also affects your overall nervous system and your brain, and thus the health of my body as a whole. Could the problem be that doctors just aren’t taking a hands-on (literally) approach with their patients anymore?  

Now, you’re considered a quack if you don’t prescribe drugs.  Doctors who try to help someone naturally, like chiropractors, are often considered quacks because they are trying to help their patients while avoiding the dangerous and potentially fatal side effects of medication.  Every year, 125,000 people die of properly prescribed drugs.  I am surprised that number isn’t higher, since I’ve personally known 3 people in the past 5 years fall victim to it. But pharmaceutical companies are never charged with murder.  Rather, the (vicious for us) profitable cycle continues.  I talk to people all the time who are on one medication for one issue and then on 3 more to combat the side effects of that medication. How many of you can relate?

Now time for the real controversy: the epidemic of cancer as the ultimate example of medicine as a business.  This documentary tells a couple of compelling stories about the governments efforts to fight possible cures for cancer (FDA vs Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplaston therapy) and promote chemotherapy/radiation (Utah prosecuted the parents of Parker Jensen for refusing to treat their young son with chemo after his tumor was surgically removed).  Think about it: if there was a cure for cancer, there would be lots of people without jobs.  That’s all I’ll say about that topic… please, watch it for yourself.

The documentary ends with a commentary on how the health of a nation is in direct correlation to health of it’s soil.  Our minerals and nutrients come from the soil where are food is grown and animals graze; we need active and alive food to stay active and alive.  As I’ve mentioned before, GMOs and pesticide-ridden food are now pervasive in our grocery stores. In fact, since GMOs  were introduced, the instances of autoimmune diseases have increased 400%!  It’s more important than ever to pay extra special attention to your diet and where your food comes from as a cure for your health.

To close, Doctored emphasizes the hope that with more patients pushing for real answers, healthcare is, in many cases, becoming more patient-centered and doctors are now collaborating with holistic practitioners for alternative healing methods.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

– Thomas Edison

The Truth About Exercise?

Tennis ShoesRecently I watched a program on PBS called The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley that addressed some surprising new research and challenged many of the things I had ever heard about working out.  Y’all, I hate exercising.  I will do whatever I can to avoid it, especially when life gets busy… or I’m tired, or stressed, or lazy, or just having too much fun to not have fun.  If you’re anything like me, I think you’ll find some hope in what this program had to say.

There is obviously a relationship between weight loss and exercise – we’ve all seen the inspiring stories about people who started crossfit or trained for a race and shed the pounds.  Then, we also hear that exercise is not really sustainable for losing weight, that it’s about what we eat and maintaining a healthy diet.  And, truly, eating right does work for everyone. But, there are other benefits of exercise to consider as well:

  • “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…” – Elle Woods.
  • Lowers blood pressure and risks of stoke & heart attack
  • Lowers your risk of diabetes. This program showed how 90 minutes of walking the night before a terrible-for-you breakfast reduced fat deposits from that meal by a third. The enzymes (lipo protien lipase) released during exercise stay in the system and make fat go to be burned by muscles rather than into our fat stores. This prevents damage to our blood vessels and also the deep fat in our organs (fat around our waist) that’s really dangerous.

Let’s be honest, though, for all that hard work, most of us are really looking to lose weight.  Unfortunately, it does not give many the fat burn they really want.  In fact, it has now been scientifically proven that people respond very differently to the same amount and type of exercise.  15% of the population see huge physical benefits from exercise, while 20% of the population see absolutely no change.  Those 20% are called non-responders and, unfortunately, it’s genetic.  Then there are the other 65% who are somewhere in the middle of that range.  Exercise is not one size fits all… exercising more may not help you, and that, combined with our busy lives, is certainly not motivating us to get to the gym.

Professor Jamie Timmons, University of Birmingham (UK), performed clinical studies of non-responders and set out to find a form of exercise that helps everyone and is sustainable enough to fit into our busy lives.  They used two main tests to measure the health benefits – 1. Insulin Sensitivity (Insulin removes sugar from the blood and controls fat – I discussed this in detail a few weeks back; sensitivity is a measure of how quickly it works) and 2. VO2 Max (how much oxygen your body is able to use, which is a huge indicator of the future health of your cardiovascular system).  Studies suggest that short spurts of highly intense exercise is what can improve these two: 20 seconds of the most intense exercise you can handle, followed by period of rest, repeated twice.  Do that three days a week.  This can be cycling as fast as you can on a stationary bike or sprinting down the street.

How can this possibly work?  That crazy intense form of exercise breaks down the glycogen stores in the muscle and that’s the key signal from the muscles to say “I need more glucose to burn, NOW!” to the blood.  Unlike walking or jogging, where you are only activating 20-30% of your muscles, this intense exercise is activating 70-80% of your muscles, which creates a much larger sink in glucose, causing your body to get more sugar out of the blood to burn.  In fact, they saw results in these two crucial areas in just 2 weeks.

After the show’s host, Michael Mosley, participated in 4 weeks of this protocol, they tested his insulin sensitivity and VO2 Max. He had an overall improvement of insulin sensitivity of 23%, which is remarkable, but in line with what the clinical studies are proving.  Michael also learned that his aerobic activity did not increase at all which proved (along with a genetic test) that he is a non-responder to exercise.

A couple other interesting things I learned from the program:

  • Most of us spend 12 hours a day sitting and not moving.  Being active increases your metabolic rate. Moving throughout the day is how we were designed, so that’s obviously best for our bodies.  Dr James Levine, Mayo Clinic, an obesity expert, says that the best way to burn fat is to increase your NEAT – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.  No need to sweat, but make a more conscious effort to constantly move.  Our bodies idle when we sit for an hour, gunk builds up: blood sugar and fat elevate. In order to keep the fuels moving through your system, you need to be moving every hour, not just exercise a couple times per week.
  • We may feel like our muscles are what get tired and that’s why exercise exhausts us, but, actually, it may be our brain.  Michael Mosley did a test in a low oxygen chamber and he got tired very fast as soon as his brain realized that he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  This measured how hard he thinks he can push his muscles. But when probes were applied to his head, putting pressure on the part of the brain controlling his legs, it allowed him to push himself to keep exercising. Our subconscious brain is protecting itself – it triggers a shutdown before you are actually in “danger.” But, your brain can learn that this activity is not threatening which is why it begins to feel easier after training.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend watching it for yourself here.

Do you think these experts discovered the truth about exercise?  Could you commit to this 3-minute-a-week exercise routine?  Who wants to try it with me to see if it works?

The Time I Did A Juice Fast

fat-sick-and-nearly-dead

If you’ve ever seen Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, you’ve probably wondered about the benefits that juicing and a raw diet could provide for you.  Joe Cross was overweight and experiencing health issues that doctors could not find answers to (but had no problem prescribing him lots of pills for); finally, he met a natural doctor that told him that eating well was the only way to heal himself of his autoimmune skin disease.  So he decided to go on a 60 day organic juice-only fast, followed by months of only fruits, veggies, nuts and beans. He loses an incredible amount of weight and experiences an amazing health transformation. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it on Netflix – it’s very inspiring.

Fresh juice is nothing like the high fructose corn syrup sweetened and artificially flavored and dyed stuff you find in the grocery aisle.  When you juice from real fruits and veggies, you are getting tons of  real nutrients.  You can pack pounds of these healthful, fresh items into just one juice. Plus, since you’re juicing out the fiber, your body is able to quickly absorb all those vitamins and nutrients rather than spending energy to digest them. If you believe in eating the hunter-gatherer way, then fasting is especially important as, naturally, there were times when food could be hard to come by. Our bodies are designed to need a break every once in a while.  And raw, fresh foods are part of the Four Pillars of World Cuisine.  The raw fruits and veggies in juice provide our bodies with potent antioxidants essential to combating harmful free-radicals (the molecules that cause every kind of disease, especially cancer).

Bonus: The major ingredients in my juices were 4 of the 5 best alkaline foods – lemons, cayenne pepper, leafy greens and apples.  Why does that matter?  Basically, our bodies are designed to keep a neutral pH level, but with all of the processed foods we eat, we often end up being highly acidic.  Being acidic can majorly affect your health by diminishing your immune system, causing fatigue, pain and even cancer.  The more alkaline and less acidic foods (the list may surprise you) you can eat to balance out your system, the better!

So, I had watched documentaries, read articles about and heard of friends doing juice fasts/cleanses and wanted to try it for myself. Although it was recommended to “pre-cleanse” by weaning off meat, dairy, sugar, wheat, etc., I didn’t.  Let’s be honest, most of us try a cleanse because we’ve been eating junk.. I did the cleanse because I wanted to break my taste for those things and get back on track. I did eat a little healthier and did no alcohol or caffeine as well as only eating fish and veggies for the 48 hours before so it wouldn’t be too bad of a shock.

Fruits and Veggies Pre-JuiceI had looked into buying all the juice for my cleanse from a couple of local companies like JuiceLand and Skinny Limits, but when prices were coming up at $175-200 for an organic cleanse, I looked into the DIY option. I found some recipes online here and here that imitated the well-known BluePrint cleanse, borrowed a Jack LaLanne Pro juicer from a friend and then went shopping. I only spent $68.61 on organic fruits and veggies.  So worth it.  Now, the juicing took about 3 hours total, but considering I usually spend about an hour and a half each day preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s really not any different.  It was super nice to come home from work and have my “meal” already made and let my husband fend for himself.   I started with all these fresh vibrant fruits and veggies, which was more produce than I usually buy in a whole week.

At the end, I had a little over 2 days worth of juice:

  1. Breakfast: Green Juice – Kale, Spinach, Romaine, Parsley, Apple, Cucumber, Lemon and Celery
  2. Morning Snack: Pineapple-Apple-Mint Juice
  3. Lunch: Green Juice
  4. Afternoon Snack: Agave-sweetened Lemonade with Cayenne Pepper
  5. Dinner: Green Juice
  6. Evening Snack: Cashew-Vanilla-Cinnamon Milk (which is blended, not juiced)

Juice

Biggest surprise?  How much I liked the juices. The green juice was delicious… a little celery-y, but super yummy. The cashew milk that everyone seems to love was the most disgusting thing ever. I only had it the first night and barely kept it down. I had more green juice the second night.

Biggest regret? Not starting an awesome compost pile with all the fruit and veggie pulp that the juicer collected.  Guess I’ll have to do it again!

Was it awful? Overall, I was really hungry the whole time, which is normal, but tough. Watching tv was hard and commercials made me crave donuts and pizza. They say that since your body is being detoxed, you could feel terrible… I really didn’t. In fact, I had more energy than ever. During the fast, I was kind of wondering if it was worth it and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized it was.  I totally lost my desire for junk food and coffee and alcohol, and felt sick whenever I had those things, which definitely helped my self-control.  I also lost 4 pounds which I have easily kept off since.

Ultimately, I would recommend the experience to anyone, especially those suffering from sickness or trying to break bad food habits. I will absolutely be purchasing a juicer and making juice part of my normal routine so that I get more nutrients into my diet in a delicious way.  But, if I ever do a cleanse again, I’ll want a buddy… it was hard to do it alone!

So, what do you think? Would you ever try a juice cleanse?

What are GMOs? A Review of Genetic Roulette

Is it just me, or does America seem to be getting sicker? I don’t remember so many kids having autism or food allergies when I was a kid.  And it certainly seems like infertility problems have skyrocketed in my lifetime.  Apparently, I’m not crazy, because, in fact, since the mid 90s, the number of Americans suffering from at least 3 chronic illnesses has nearly doubled. Oh, and the infant mortality rate is increasing, even though we are supposed to have better medical care and technology than ever.  So, what’s changed?  A few months ago, I watched a documentary (and did some research of my own) that opened my eyes to an interesting coincidence, pointing to what has changed in our environment that could be causing these health epidemics in America. Genetic Roulette, directed by Jeffrey Smith, won AwareGuide’s Top Transformational Film of 2012 award – to get the word out about the film, they are making it available to watch for FREE, this week only (through Feb 10), hereGenetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives may be the best documentary I’ve seen. It’s filled with testimonies from farmers & moms and facts & explanations from experts to back up everything it claims.  I’m going to give an overview of the film, but I’ll never do it justice.  So make time for about 80 minutes this week to sit down and watch; I promise you won’t regret it.

So what’s the coincidence?  It was the switch from eating whole foods to scientifically altered foods – the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs were created by putting the DNA from one species into another to get benefits from both.  For our food and farming purposes, this means creating a seed that makes a plant produce its own pesticide or making it pesticide resistant so that farmers have an easier time fighting off bugs and weeks.  It sounds like a great idea, except that it’s all a science experiment in genetic alteration, resulting in mutations and unpredictable side effects, creating toxins, allergens, carcinogens and triggering inflammation.  It creates a new genetic sequence that our body doesn’t recognize as food and so attacks the foreign object.  Wait, so how did all this get approved by the FDA?

I love me a good government conspiracy theory, but get the facts on this one: The FDA has claimed overwhelming consensus from scientists that GMOs are safe since 1992, but when internal memos were released to the public during a lawsuit, it was discovered that their research staff actually expressed health and safety concerns about GMOs.  Unfortunately, their concerns were ignored because the FDA Deputy Commissioner, Michael Taylor, was also a former attorney & Vice President at Monsanto Chemical Company, the company that manufactures and sells GMO seeds to farmers.  And Michael Taylor’s not the only commercial GM advocate that’s been appointed to a high government position in charge of our safety (ahem, Dept of Agriculture).  Actually, the FDA doesn’t regulate these seeds; they ask these companies to do their own studies and remind them of obligation to provide safe food to the public. If you’re not familiar with Monsanto, they’re the same company that said Agent Orange & DDT were safe – do you trust them?   Unfortunately, companies are motivated by money, so when they perform their own studies, the statistics are likely skewed to get the product to market faster.  Often they are too short to identify cancer, birth defects, and infertility effects.

Interestingly, independent studies (those not funded by companies making money from GMO foods – look carefully when you research) show that since GMO corn and soy started increasing in farms in 1996, America has seen a huge rise in problems with the gut – inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal disease, Chrohn’s disease, chronic constipation, reflux.  For your reference, today, about 88% of corn and 94% of soy is GMO; while you may not think you eat a lot of corn or hate soy milk, the products of corn and soy are in almost every processed, pre-packaged food item that you eat.  Oh, and there seems to be a shared rise in diabetes, autism, alzheimer’s, heart attacks, thyroid issues, allergies, and autoimmune diseases as well.

The movie covers a variety of topics, each building upon the last… here’s a taste of what you’ll learn:

  • Insecticide in Food: The BT toxin used in GM corn & cotton is designed to break open the stomachs of insects to kill them.  Seems to do the same to us, making our intestines leaky and allowing food to enter the body before our flora have a chance to respond.  Stat: A Canadian study found BT toxin in the blood of 93% of pregnant women sampled.
  • Intestinal Damage: Many diseases on the rise are connected to intestinal permeability – the food is leaking into body and we are creating antibodies to those foods, naturally developing food intolerances & allergies.
  • Allergies: Food allergies are on the rise today due to intestinal damage.  Although the allergic reactions to certain foods may not reverse, symptoms decreased when prescribed a high-quality, organic, non-GMO diet. I don’t want to be the mom who said: “What have I done to my children?  What did I unknowingly consent to?”
  • Autism: The rate is sky-rocketing and one of the main health issues autistic people have are intestinal.  Parents have seen great results switching to a non-GMO diet.  Not saying this is the cause, but I certainly wouldn’t risk it.
  • RoundUp: Monsanto’s best selling herbicide to kill weeds is based on glyphosate, which steals nutrients.  Plants treated with RoundUp will have reduction in available nutrients, so the animals eating it become weak and sick… and then we eat the plants and animals, making us weak and sick. When you are deficient in essential trace minerals and nutrients, diseases worsen and can become impossible to cure.
  • Birth Defects: Workers on farms sprayed with RoundUp suffered birth defects.  Lab animals suffered severe birth defects and fertility problems from GMO soy; by the 3rd generation, some rats even lost the ability to have babies.
  • Mystery Organism:  When researching the epidemic of livestock fertility problems, scientists found a NEW, unidentified organism with similar properties of fungus in a miscarried fetus.  These livestock are eating high concentrations of roundup sprayed on corn & soy and GM alfalfa hay.
  • Cancer from Dairy:  Scientists use the E.Coli bacteria to produce a hormone to increase metabolism and milk production in cows.  Unfortunately, this causes painful mastitis in the udders, meaning more antibiotics and bovine growth hormone (rGBH) in the milk.  IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), found in these hormones, is known to cause cancer, especially in milk-duct tissues.  After studies showed a 55-60% increase in breast cancer for women over 50, rGBH was finally banned in many countries outside of the US, though some American companies have stopped using it.  Even several Monsanto scientists admit they won’t drink non-organic milk.
  • Kids & GMOs: Kids grow fast and have a higher metabolic rate, so they eat more and need more nutrition from their food. Their immune system is also under development, making them more susceptible to toxins.  And epigenetics has proved that pregnant women can pass many of these toxins onto their babies.
  • Infant Formula: Most formulas have rGBH dairy and GM corn in them, and the soy-based ones have GM soy.  Babies are the most vulnerable of all to these toxins.
  • Why GMOs? They say it’s the best way to “feed the world.”  But really, we are using chemicals that cost more money, require more work and destroy the soil. “Just because science can do something, does that mean it should?”
  • GMO Myths:
    • Increases Yield (seeds are not sustainable; organic outperforms in droughts; all independent studies prove not economically better)
    • Increases Exports (we’ve lost 99% of corn exports to Europe)
    • Reduces Need for Herbacide (after few years, weeds change and no resistance; more pesticides applied to GMOs than conventional)
    • The government and scientists have reviewed and approved (Many scientists who have spoken up or disagreed with GMOs in the past have been attacked and had their reputations destroyed.)
  • Lastly, a few farmer testimonies:
    • GMOs in India – When BT toxin took over cottonseed industry, thousands of field workers & farmers complained of skin allergies & rashes and animals grazing on BT toxin fields got sick and died. BT cotton is unpredictable and when crops failed, farmers went into debt, creating a huge suicide increase – BT cotton farmer suicides account for 75% of the country’s suicide rate.
    • GMOs in South Africa – GM corn fed to cows and pigs had reproductive failure, pneumonia and cannibalistic tendencies; problems disappeared after weeks on non-GMO and then when ran out of seeds and started using GM seeds again, the symptoms reappeared in 60 days. All 50-60 farmers on a GM corn farm ate the corn 3 times per day; they suffered from severe headaches, flu like symptoms, and a few died; sickness cleared up after removing GM corn, then returned when GM corn used again.
    • GMOs in America – A miniature steer ranch started on GMO corn to save money and the cattle began to bloat up and die; they also became really irritated and angry. Another pig ranch reported that their pigs were happier and healthier, eating more, calmer, and incurred less medical costs after only 3 days just by switching to non-GMO corn feed.  Later, the conception and liter rates increased and birth defects decreased.

My favorite quote in the movie is when an expert refers to GM science as “tobacco science.”  For years, everyone (and their mom) smoked cigarettes, even pregnant women, without any idea that it caused cancer and birth defects.  These tobacco companies were allowed to self regulate until enough scientists and medical professionals spoke out to prove otherwise, causing a tipping point.  It finally forced the government to require companies to put warning labels on packages and advertisements.  I’m hoping that we are nearing a similar tipping point for GMOs.  People have the right to know what these products are doing to their bodies.  If you get a chance, vote for required GMO labels on all food, and pray that someday we’ll live in a world where our kids won’t grow up with commercials for high-fructose corn (syrup) flakes all over tv.

But, friends, there is hope!  Studies have shown that many health problems reversed when GMOs were taken out of the diet. So how can you avoid GMOs?  The main offenders are: Soy, Corn, Cottonseed (oil), Canola (oil), Sugar Beets (sugar), Papaya, Zuchinni, Yellow Crookneck Squash, Alfalfa, and Aspertame.  But ingredient labels can be confusing and indirect, so it’s best to look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label.  You can even find an easy shopping guide, or download the phone app here.


Have you ever heard of GMOs?  Will you watch the documentary?

Why I’m Not A Vegan

If God wanted us all to be vegetarians...

In my search for the truth in health, one of the main controversies I’ve encountered has to do with whether meat and animal products are healthy for us.  I’ve seen Forks Over Knives and I think it’s a great documentary, with thought-provoking research and many convincing points – I absolutely recommend it.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it examines the claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases could be prevented and may be even cured by switching from our current animal-based, processed foods diet to a whole-foods, plant based diet. I agree with almost everything in the film, especially the healing abilities of proper nutrition, but I’ve had a few hesitations. History tells us that for thousands of years, humans hunted animals for food, which enabled them to survive, thrive and populate the earth with healthy children. Not only have humans hunted for generations, but they have developed ways to cook animals in a way to extract every possible bit of nutrition from them. Our ancestors fully understood the nutritional benefits as it helped them grow strong and protected them from disease. I don’t believe that we just happen to like the way meat and dairy taste, but that it tastes good for a reason.

When I wrote about my inspiration, I mentioned that the basic theory for healthy eating centered around authentic world cuisine.  When I say world cuisine, I’m not talking about the Italian fettuccine alfredo or Chinese sweet and sour chicken you might get at a restaurant today; I’m talking about the traditional, homemade & homegrown food from nations all over the world.  And when I say traditional, I’m not referring to Grandma’s fried chicken or chocolate chip cookie recipes made with Crisco; we’ve got to go back a few hundred years before scientists started creating fake foods that saved cooking time and money.  Many of the traditional ingredients and methods of cooking happen to be the ones you find in common across the world and across history, as they were the most successful for maintaining and improving health. Today, the best example of cuisine that has remained mostly unchanged in modern times is French.  The reason? They’ve always been kind of, well, arrogant, so their ingredients and techniques have remained the same for ages and continue to be studied by chefs in culinary school today.  When I think of French cuisine, I think of many foods in the Four Pillars: slow-cooked meat, rich broths, and healthy fats; I wonder if it’s a coincidence that they have much lower risks of heart disease and are known for being thin rather than obese, quite opposite of two of the worst epidemics we suffer from in America today.

All that said, let’s get to the point: why I’m not a vegan.  First of all, I fully understand and respect that some people have strong beliefs in protecting the rights of animals and don’t eat them for those reasons. In fact, I too have a serious issues with how most animals are farmed today, in unbelievably cruel and unsanitary conditions, as well as the fact that they are given unnatural hormones and harmful antibiotics. I could rant for hours on the topic (and recommend lots of documentaries if you’d like to see it for yourself), but, basically, that’s the reason I have chosen to only buy organic, hormone and antibiotic-free, pastured/free range (plus raw and local, when possible) animal meat and products. I also agree with the problems of environmental effects that modern farming due to an animal-based diet has created, but I also think the same can be said for produce farming – we are destroying the nutrients in our soil and plants with pesticides, toxins and genetically modified seeds.

Veganism and vegetarianism are not certainly not bad, and I absolutely believe that you can live a life full of nutrition and enjoy many benefits to your health. These diets rightly put the focus on whole foods and plants, instead of depending on meat and dairy for nutrition.  However, I want to make a case that there are health benefits of animal meats and products, when they are from good sources and cooked properly, as well as point out a few differences I’ve found between a vegan diet and an authentic world cuisine diet:
1. Animal meat cooked on the bones and broth made from animal bones provide essential nutrients, mainly collagen, to our joints, ligaments, tendons, arteries, skin, and hair.
2. Animal organs are extremely rich in vitamins, often more than can be supplemented with fruits or vegetables.
3. The anti-cholesterol and low-fat campaigns are myths.  We need healthy fat in our diets, and nature (not science) makes the best, including butter, eggs, and bacon.
4. We’re born dependent upon milk and it should remain an important part of our diet, as long as it’s organic and raw (or fermented like yogurt and cheese). Pasteurization and homogenization destroy the probiotics and fat molecules that help us maintain strong digestive tracks, immune systems, brain function and bones.
5. Wheat (unless it’s sprouted) becomes a staple for many vegans, who turn to bread and pasta as fillers, and, even if it’s “whole wheat” or “multi-grain,” it’s not quite as healthy or natural as it’s advertised to be.
6. Lastly, while definitely not true of all vegans, the lifestyle often necessitates the use of many processed, manufactured foods to supplement meals for those that don’t know how to cook or have trouble incorporating all the necessary nutrients to a vegan diet. These processed foods contain many harmful ingredients, mainly soy, vegetable/canola oils, and sugar.

I’ll be expanding on these points in future posts. I’m so excited to share what I’ve discovered in the coming weeks and hope this has peaked your interest a bit.  If you want to keep up with future posts, you can subscribe to my blog on the sidebar to the right to get an email whenever I post something new.  And, I’d love to know, which of the topics above are you most interested in learning more about?

– Christine