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Manufacturers of artificial sweeteners would like us to think that they’ve discovered the perfect loophole for enjoying the sweetness of sugar without any of its health risks. As we’ve covered in previous articles, though, nothing could be further from the truth.

The first commercially available artificial sweetener, saccharin, was shown to cause cancer in rats.[1] It was banned as a food additive in 1981, but then deemed not hazardous to humans and unbanned in 2001.[2] It’s worth noting that in these later vindicating studies, researchers do not rule out the carcinogenicity of saccharin; they merely claim that large quantities need to be consumed in order to cause cancer in humans.

Aspartame hit the market next, but it was found to be so toxic that it’s commercial release was delayed for over a decade. Despite its current widespread distribution and use as an artificial sweetener, studies continue to demonstrate that aspartame induces oxidative stress, damages cell membrane integrity, deregulates cellular function, and leads to systemic inflammation.[3]

You’d think that over time, manufacturers would get better at making safer sweeteners, but sucralose seems to be even worse than its predecessors. Studies have linked its consumption to leukemia,[4] severe bowel and kidney issues,[5] cancer and other toxicity-induced cell disorders,[6] neurotoxicity,[7] thyroid dysfunction,[8] and many other health problems.

But at least artificial sweeteners are safe for diabetics and help you lose weight, right? On the contrary, studies have demonstrated that consuming artificial sweeteners can be just as harmful as sugar (if not worse) in these scenarios. One study even found that people who consume artificial sweeteners are up to 67% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.[9]

Why artificial sweeteners are so disruptive

Researchers are fascinated by what makes artificial sweeteners such risky substances. The states that they trigger—systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, cellular dysfunction—are primary indicators of disruption on a fundamental level. Perhaps one of the only reasons they’re still deemed “not hazardous to human health” is because it can take a long time for these fundamental markers of imbalance to tip over into full-blown disease—so manufacturers can still get away with calling their products “non-toxic.”

Ever since they first began studying artificial sweeteners, researchers have searched for a specific metric for discussing their disruptive effect—some sort of mechanism that could underly all the markers of imbalance mentioned above. A new study has provided a suitable answer by demonstrating that artificial sweeteners are toxic to beneficial gut microbes.

Microbiome dysregulation can easily lead to primary imbalances like inflammation and excessive oxidative stress. By viewing it as a mechanism through which artificial sweeteners exert harmful effects on the body, we can more precisely understand the toxicity of these substances.

The study in question used a modified form of bioluminescent bacteria that literally glows when exposed to substances above a certain level of toxicity. They exposed the bacteria to aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k, as well as ten different sport supplements containing these artificial sweeteners. In all cases, the bacteria “became toxic” with a mere 1 mg/ml concentration of artificial sweetener.[10]

The researchers believe their results provide “further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity, which can cause a wide range of health issues.” They hope these findings help us understand “the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment.”[11]

There’s no good reason to use artificial sweeteners

The action steps for protecting yourself and your microbiome should be pretty clear in this case: just stop consuming artificial sweeteners. They are toxic substances with well-documented risks and no advantages whatsoever over conventional sugar.

Even if conservative estimates about their toxicity are correct (meaning that you’d have to consume a very large quantity to be at risk of negative health effects like cancer), the bioaccumulation of toxins over time can still pose a danger. Why take the risk? The study cited above demonstrates that consuming these sweeteners can compromise the integrity of the microbiome long before the development of more severe associated diseases.

There are far healthier sweetener choices anyway. Honey is a perfect example, and just might be nature’s perfect sweetener. Stevia is another safe alternative, though evidence suggests that it should still be used in moderation.

The best approach, however, is to break your addiction to sweet substances altogether—using any sugar substitute doesn’t address this inherent dependency issue. Remember that finding overall balance with your dietary habits is as important as the specific foods and substances that make up your diet.

Regardless of how you choose to find balance, though, do your best to minimize artificial sweetener consumption; your gut flora will thank you.

 


References 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1637197/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185898

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28938797

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27078173

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2210518

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10882819

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24699280

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28040879

[9] https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q3/prof-diet-drinks-are-not-the-sweet-solution-to-fight-obesity,-health-problems.html

[10] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001101932.htm

[11] Ibid.

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If you’ve been a part of the natural health community for long, you probably already know that sugar is bad news. It undermines immune function, triggers inflammation, depletes the body of nutrients, increases the risk of cancer (cancer cells feed on sugar), worsens high blood pressure, and more.

We’re not talking about whole grains and raw fruits. The trend in recent years has been to demonize these foods. The reasoning goes something like this: they’re all processed as sugar by the body, and sugar is bad, so you should avoid these foods at all costs; instead, fuel the body with healthy fats and protein.

While there’s certainly value to paleo and other high-fat diets, vilifying fruits and whole grains is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The body needs glucose to function. As long as you balance your consumption of fruits and whole grains with plenty of vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats, you’ll stay on the right track.

What you should avoid, however, is any kind of processed or refined sugar. As we covered in another article, refined sugar hides under many names and guises, so always remain vigilant when purchasing any kind of packaged foods.

Perhaps one of the worst kinds of processed sugar is high fructose corn syrup

Perhaps one of the worst kinds of processed sugar is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Fructose is another type of sugar—it has all the drawbacks of glucose, and it’s completely useless to the body as an energy source. This means that all your body can do is store it as fat. Furthermore, because it’s not used as fuel for your metabolic engine, it’s processed directly by the liver. It severely taxes (and can even damage) the liver, and disrupts immune and endocrine function in the process.

As bad as all this sounds, high fructose corn syrup just got even worse: a recent study published in Environmental Health discovered that nearly half of all tested HFCS samples are contaminated with mercury.[1]

Why you must avoid this dangerous toxin (and how it got there in the first place)

If you still needed any more reasons to steer clear of high fructose corn syrup, consider this data the straw that broke the camel’s back.

After the Environmental Health study was published, a second study was conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. They tested an even larger array of HFCS samples, this time in the form of popular packaged foods ready for sale—one third was contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury.

Dairy products, dressings, and condiments were among the worst offenders, and the sampling included products manufactured by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft, and Smucker’s.[2]

So what’s mercury doing in high fructose corn syrup anyway?

The answer is simple: toxic manufacturing processes and poor food regulations. In order to make high fructose corn syrup, manufacturers use caustic soda, which separates corn starch from its kernel. Because caustic soda is made from mercury cells, mercury can fairly easily make its way into the final HFCS product. And, of course, manufacturers are not required to test for mercury (or many other toxins, for that matter).

And in case you need to be reminded just how bad mercury is for you, experts now agree that it is one of the most toxic and health-disrupting elements known to man. It is more toxic than arsenic or lead, and is harmful to human health in all its forms.

And contrary to what the fishing industry sometimes tries to tell us, there is no safe level of mercury.

Even miniscule amounts can be disastrous, and research has demonstrated that mercury severely disrupts neurological development, increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and general cognitive decline, and leads to mood issues, immune dysfunction, headaches, chronic fatigue, insomnia, tremors, digestive issues, and many other health problems.[3]

The good news and the bad news

The good news is that all you need to do to avoid this prevalent source of mercury is cut HFCS-containing foods out of your diet.

It’s worth saying again: there’s no safe level of mercury, and HFCS has plenty of other health risks to make it worth quitting anyway. You’ll still be at risk for mercury contamination through some of the other societal sources, such as fish and dentistry, but avoiding high fructose corn syrup is the single most powerful step you can take toward avoiding mercury toxicity altogether.

The bad news is that, as you may have noticed, HFCS is in everything. Packaged foods, snacks and sweets, yogurt and other dairy products, condiments, dressings and sauces, bread, croutons, and even some packaged nuts. Get into the habit of always carefully checking ingredient labels, and you’ll be fine.

Once you wean yourself off HFCS, if you accidentally eat some, you’ll be shocked by how unnecessarily sweet it is! You’ll realized that a balanced inclusion of whole fruit in your diet is quite enough sugar…and your body will thank you for kicking HFCS to the curb.

 


References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637263/

[2] https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/HFCS_PR.pdf

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395437/

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turmeric_drug_alternative(2)

A complete understanding of cancer is a sort of Holy Grail for modern medicine.

The whole truth is best expressed from a systems perspective: the body’s healthy cells turn into cancerous cells when biological equilibrium is upset beyond a critical point.

Conventional medicine prefers to break things down into parts rather than looking at whole systems, though. While this approach can offer a nitty-gritty understanding of the body and its ailments, it can also create a lot of confusion.

For example, until recently, conventional wisdom held that yeast infections tend to develop because of cancer. Their logic went like this: a fungus called Candida albicans takes advantage of immune system suppression to overpopulate the body with yeast; and since cancer patients undergoing chemo and radiation are nearly always immune-suppressed, it stands to reason that they would develop yeast infections.

This isn’t the full story, though. New research demonstrates that yeast overpopulation doesn’t just coincidentally exist alongside cancer—it actually causes and worsens cancer through a number of mechanisms.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Inflammation. We’ve remarked many times before that “inflammation is the root of all disease.” It is well-known that an overpopulation of Candida albicans causes chronic inflammation, mostly by continually triggering a cascade of pro-inflammatory chemicals within the body. This inflammation leads to immune system dysfunction, which is at the heart of the development and spread of cancer.

Cancer-causing byproducts. As a natural part of its proliferation, Candida albicans produces nitrosamines add acetaldehyde (a metabolite of methanol), both of which are strongly carcinogenic (the latter is also DNA-damaging, and thus can also contribute to cancer by causing healthy cells to be expressed as cancer cells).

Tumor growth support. Yeast overpopulation can also cause the body to produce certain chemicals that promote the formation of new blood vessels (this chemical production is known as Th17 response). These angiogenesis-promoting factors then inadvertently aid the formation and growth of cancerous tumors.

“Molecular mimicry”. Yeast uses devious mimicry to further compromise the body’s immune system (and thus facilitate its proliferation). Here’s how it works: a protein on the surface of Candida albicans resembles your white blood cells, so when antibodies are formed against the invading fungus, they may end up attacking your white blood cells too. This undermining of immune function creates a vicious cycle that leads to the spread of both yeast and cancer.

Acknowledging yeast as an independent cause of cancer is important because doing so encourages us to examine what causes yeast to begin with, instead of writing it off as something that just happens during a battle with cancer.

It just so happens that sugar, gluten, and processed foods can all cause yeast overpopulation. By recognizing this chain of causes, it’s much easier to see how our diet and lifestyles can directly place us at higher risk for developing cancer.

One dietary choice that’s a no-brainer, especially if you’re battling cancer, is turmeric.

Turmeric takes care of yeast and cancer in one fell swoop

We’ve written before about how turmeric fights cancer on every possible level, and how its unprecedented anti-cancer abilities are revolutionizing the way we think about cancer treatment.

Curcumin, the most widely studied polyphenol in turmeric, is also known to be a potent anti-fungal agent, so it should come as no surprise that this miracle root is the perfect tool for knocking out both yeast and cancer.

One study even specifically examined how turmeric functions as both an anti-cancer agent and an anti-fungal agent in the context of cancer. The researchers concluded that turmeric could be used in conjunction with chemotherapy to prevent yeast infections, and that curcumin holds great promise as an anti-cancer drug in its own right.[1]

Turmeric accomplishes these feats because it treats and balances the body’s entire biological system, rather than targeting one piece at a time. It quells inflammation, boosts the immune system, addresses the root cause of yeast infections, and kills both cancer cells and cancer stem cells without harming the body’s healthy cells.

How to get the most out of turmeric

By all accounts, turmeric really is a miraculous healing tool (the benefits described above don’t even scratch the surface of its full potential). There’s just one problem: curcumin isn’t very readily absorbed by the body, so it’s difficult to get its truly therapeutic benefits.

Simply using turmeric as a cooking spice won’t give you nearly the amount that you need, and even most powdered turmeric supplements are fairly useless—because they’re low-quality and still not very bioavailable.

But this product is different: a turmeric extract made with organic turmeric, and without any nasty solvents. Through a proprietary, state-of-the-art process, the extract is “liposomalized,” meaning that each molecule is protected by a fatty bubble, which allows all the plant’s goodies to be readily absorbed by your cells.

This formulation takes all that raw turmeric has to offer and presents it in a format that your body LOVES to consume.

This extraordinary extract is even enriched with fulvic acid, which increases the bioavailability of all the nutrients you consume, detoxes the body, balances hydration and mineral levels, and optimizes brain health and cellular functioning. It’s a match made in heaven that will leave you feeling radiant and energized.

So whether you’re searching for the most powerful way to use turmeric as an anti-cancer agent, or trying to optimize your health and prevent cancer in the first place… Give this truly revolutionary product a try.

You won’t believe how quickly you feel its effects. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make turmeric a part of your daily life a long time ago.


 

References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26723514

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omega_fatty_acids

It would be an understatement to say that there’s a lot that’s wrong with “the American Diet.” For too long, the role that proper nutrition plays in health maintenance has been tragically downplayed in Western medicine. The result: many, many people are sick because of terribly unhealthy eating habits.

But now the tide is starting to turn quickly, and we’re learning that there are some identifiable patterns behind our dietary madness. One of them is an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA’s)—which nearly always manifests as an “omega-3 deficiency,” given that so many American staples (like vegetable oils, snack foods, desserts, and meats) are high in omega-6’s.

Unfortunately, this health issue is rarely talked about, and therefore very few people have a full understanding of it. Nevertheless, the long-term effects of EFA imbalance can be detrimental to your health.

A primer on EFA’s

Here’s how it works: these fatty acids are called “essential” because your body requires them in order to function, but cannot produce them endogenously—meaning that they must be consumed in the form of food or supplements. They help with all the bodily processes that allow cells to communicate with one another, and they do so in part by triggering an inflammatory response (inflammation is one of the body’s primary methods of moving “signaling” molecules).

And that’s where the trouble starts. While inflammation is a completely natural and necessary response, it wreaks havoc on the body when it becomes excessive or chronic.

Omega-6’s are much more inflammatory then omega-3’s, so an excess of the former can easily cause chronic inflammation. When the two are consumed in the proper ratio, however (no more than 4:1, omega-6’s: omega-3’s, with 1:1 being ideal), each balances the mechanism of the other, and each can confer its benefits on the body.

To be clear: omega-6’s are not inherently bad. Consuming all omega-3’s and no omega-6’s can be just as bad as consuming too many omega-6’s—it’s all about balance. a

It just so happens, though, that almost everyone is getting plenty of omega-6’s (or too many), which is why the rest of this article will focus on how to get enough omega-3’s (and what benefits you can expect from doing so).

How omega-3’s can revolutionize your health

First and foremost, getting enough omega-3’s helps balance the runaway inflammatory effects of omega-6’s (reducing your consumption of omega-6’s will help in this regard, as well). To get a feel for how hugely beneficial it is to reduce inflammation in the body, just remember that inflammation is often called the root of all disease. Doctors and researchers alike call it a “common denominator of disease,” and the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine even states that “every chronic disease is an inflammatory disease.”[1]

Heart disease, cancer, immune dysfunction, and cognitive degeneration have all been linked to EFA imbalance (which, remember, almost always means too many omega-6’s and not enough omega-3’s for Americans). And that’s not even counting the innumerable diseases and conditions that are linked directly or indirectly to chronic inflammation. Stemming inflammation is one of the true keys to a pain-free, disease-free, high-energy life.

And omega-3’s have their own direct benefits too. One study demonstrated that Greenland Eskimos, who consume high levels of omega-3’s (in a 1:1 ratio with omega-6’s) have an 85% lower incidence of heart disease than Eskimos living in the U.S. and eating a standard American diet.

Other studies have shown that omega-3’s help balance blood sugar levels, slow signs of aging, improve mood and well-being, improve cognitive function, balance cholesterol levels, alleviate joint pain, maintain healthy skin, and boost immune function.[2]

Researchers from the University of California Davis even demonstrated that a metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA can halt the growth of cancerous tumors. Once it’s in the body, DHA naturally breaks down into epoxy docosapentaenoic acid (EDP), and it turns out that this molecule cuts off the flow of blood and nutrients to developing tumors, thus preventing their metastasis.[3] For similar reasons, DHA is also excellent for preventing cancer in the first place.

Start receiving these benefits today

Consuming enough omega-3’s can be a bit tricky, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Good food sources include leafy greens (especially spinach, alfalfa, and argula), avocados, beans, flax seeds, hemp seeds, wild Alaskan salmon, and 100% grass-finished meats (just be very careful about where you source your meat).

All things considered, though, it can be very difficult to get enough omega-3’s from food alone (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan). It can be accomplished with enough diligence, but supplementation is a much easier route to take. Here’s your best options, each of which comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Fish oil is the most popular omega-3 supplement, and for good reason: it contains plenty of EPA and DHA, in perfect ratio with omega-6’s. You need to very cautious when choosing a fish oil brand, though, as many products easily become rancid, contain low concentrations of EFA’s, or are contaminated by mercury and other toxins that fish pick up through a process called bioaccumulation.

Krill oil has been put forth as a worthy alternative to fish oil. It is not in keeping with Kosher principles, but it does avoid all the usual problems associated with fish oil (it contains far lower levels of accumulated toxins, and doesn’t oxidize easily).  

Flax seed oil is a good choice if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Unfortunately, though, it’s a very inefficient source compared to fish or krill oil. It contains ALA, which must be converted into EPA and DHA within the body. In order to get the amount of usable omega-3’s in one gram of krill oil, you need to eat forty grams of flax seed oil. If you can tolerate this inconvenience, though, it’s a very clean, plant-based source of omega-3’s.

Hemp seed oil. In the same way that krill oil addresses many of fish oil’s issues, hemp oil has emerged as an alternative to flax seed oil. It is far more abundant in immediately usable forms of omega-3’s, and is packed with other health-supporting nutrients. Hemp still has a long way to go before it fully shakes off the controversy of its association with marijuana, but it’s finally becoming a more easily accessed product.

Algae oil is still relatively new on the scene, but it shows great promise. Preliminary studies show that it is a great omega-3 source for vegetarians and vegans, and it certainly is far more ecologically sustainable than fish oil or most krill oils. Some studies suggest that it has a higher bioavailability than fish or krill oil, but these results have been called into question by other researchers.

Decide which choice is right for you, and try it out! You’ll be amazed by the far-reaching benefits that come from making this simple change to your dietary and supplementation regimen.

 


 

References

[1] http://www.arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/Articles/2013/June/Inflammation-A-Common-Denominator-of-Disease.aspx

[2] http://draxe.com/omega-3-fish-oil/

[3] http://myoptimalhealthresource.blogspot.com/2013/11/omega-3-fatty-acid-compound-found-to.html

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