Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Amazing Benefits Of Functional Foods

If you eat without thinking about what you’re eating, you’re missing out on an unsurpassed chance to improve your well-being. Functional foods are just that: foods that can help your body function at its best. If you’re not eating these, you’re starving your body of the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
We eat for many reasons: We’re hungry, we desire a certain food or we want to cheer ourselves up. But we don’t often think about eating therapeutically. Despite truisms like “you are what you eat,” many people have a disconnect between what they eat and how that food might be affecting their bodies. The heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemics all testify to that disconnect.
Scientists have also been slow to embrace the relationship between food and health, but that is changing. An article in Pharmacognosy Reviewhighlights the new discipline of Functional Food Science: the study of foods that have a positive influence on our bodies.
In the article, researchers from the Department of Pharmacology at the Shri Ram Institute of Technology in India look at the many biological advantages of mushrooms. Specifically, they note how medicinal mushrooms, which have been used for thousands of years, can modulate the immune system, neutralize oxidizing molecules and even fight cancer.
The paper cites multiple examples of mushrooms’ medicinal properties. For example, Ganoderma lucidum offers an excellent source of potent antioxidants. Lentinus edodes has been shown to exhibit both antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties. Grifola frondosa has also shown antitumor activity. Biomedical research is confirming what many cultures have known for thousands of years: Medicinal mushrooms do the body good.
A Health Resource
The paper concludes that medicinal mushrooms are a relatively untapped health resource. They’re easy to grow, contain many beneficial compounds and are easily metabolized.
For those seeking to incorporate more functional foods into their diet, specific formulas containing a variety of mushroom species offer an excellent way to supplement the diet. Combining medicinal mushrooms into a synergistic formula can work to maximize mushrooms’ natural immune-enhancing qualities and provide long-term immune system support.
In addition to the Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Lentinus edodes and Grifola frondosa varieties noted in the study, a number of other scientifically researched mushrooms have long been known for their medicinal qualities. Hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s Mane or Monkey’s Head, supports good digestion.Cordyceps sinensis (caterpillar mushroom) supports internal organs like the liver and kidneys. Tremella fuciformis supports healthy blood sugar. Ganoderma lucidum also protects against the damaging effects of radiation.
Medicinal mushrooms may top the list of powerful therapeutic foods, but they are certainly not alone. Other top-functioning super foods include:
Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables, such as bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, are excellent for your cells and for overall health. In addition to an abundance of diverse phytonutrients and antioxidants, these vegetables contain a compound called brassinin that helps support healthy cell growth. They also contain the precursors of the active compound DIM (diindolylmethane). Studies have shown that DIM supports healthy hormonal balance in part by promoting the excretion of harmful xenoestrogens, which are “bad estrogens” we encounter through toxins and pollution.
A number of dark-colored berries, including acai, blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry and others, have been well researched for their powerful health-promoting properties. They are high in antioxidants and other phytonutrient compounds shown to prevent abnormal cell growth, support immunity and reduce inflammation, among other important benefits.
Fermented Foods
Yogurt, sauerkraut and other fermented or cultured foods have been a traditional staple in many areas of the world for millennia. These foods offer an important source of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that work to fight off harmful pathogens in the intestines and other areas of the body. Beneficial bacterial such as those in the lactobacillus family and others have been shown to promote immune health, fight pathogens, improve nutrient assimilation, prevent abnormal cellular growth and even benefit our mental and emotional health. Fermented foods offer some of the best source of viable friendly flora.
There are obvious advantages to becoming more mindful of the food we eat, including seeking out organic, locally grown produce. However, in today’s world we need to take a more specific approach and emphasize those foods known to provide powerful support for optimal health. These are just a few great examples of what will assuredly become a long list of functional, healing foods.

Out Of The Chair To Lift The IQ

Like the rest of America, our kids are sitting around without moving enough. Video games, television, the Internet… kids are planted in front of a video screen while bicycles, basketballs and baseball gloves collect dust.
Their brains are collecting dust, too.
A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health by scientists at Furman University, in Greenville, S.C., shows that exercising the body boosts brain power. In this research, the impact was more pronounced for African-American children. In contrast, all video and no play lets brain cells go into hibernation.
The researchers found that elementary and middle school students who participated in 45 minutes of daily physical activity enjoyed significantly greater improvements on cognitive tests than children who did not participate. The kids who exercised more also outperformed their fellow students on fitness and body-composition tests.

To Turn Off Depression, Turn Off The Night Light, TV, Computer, Cellphone…

The U.S. suffers an epidemic of depression. Every year, about 9 percent of us suffer clinical depression. Our addiction to lighting up the night may be making the problem worse. Lab studies show that chronic exposure to light at night can lead to depressive symptoms.
Researchers at Ohio State have found that nighttime lighting (lights, video screens, etc.) causes changes in a part of the brain called the hippocampus that can derail mood. But you can reverse this process. Near bedtime, turn off your lights and stay away from video screens, and your depressive feelings may dissipate. But the research at Ohio State shows that cutting back on nighttime lighting may take a couple of weeks to assuage your sad feelings.
“The good news is that people who stay up late in front of the television and computer may be able to undo some of the harmful effects just by going back to a regular light-dark cycle and minimizing their exposure to artificial light at night,” said lead author Tracy Bedrosian. “That’s what the results we found in hamsters would suggest.”

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

If you want some insight into the food industry, take a stroll through your grocery store's candy aisle. There, on the labels of such products as Mike and Ike and Good & Plenty, you'll find what perhaps is a surprising claim: "Fat free." This is completely true, but it's also utterly insulting. These empty-calorie junk foods are almost 100 percent sugar and processed carbs. You'd be better off eating fat.

Food manufacturers think you're stupid. In fact, their marketing strategies rely on it. In the case of candy makers, they're hoping you'll equate "fat free" with "healthy" or "nonfattening"—so that you forget about all the sugar these products contain. It's a classic bait and switch.

And the candy aisle is just the start. That's why theEat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide has scoured the supermarket to crack the packaged food labeling code—now you can make sure you get exactly what you're paying for. Never be fooled by misleading labels again!

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

1. The Vitamin Vacuum

Kelloggs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tarts

The Claim: "Good source of 7 vitamins and minerals"
The Truth: Five of the seven vitamins and minerals are derived from this product's first ingredient-enriched flour. That's the code word for "refined flour that's had nutrients added to it after it's been stripped of fiber."

What You Really Want: A breakfast without the nutritional profile of a dessert. Studies show that people who opt for high-quality protein (eggs, yogurt) over refined carbohydrates (pancakes, bagels, Pop-Tarts) lose weight faster and maintain higher levels of energy throughout the day.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

2. The Cereal Conundrum

Kellogg's Smart Start Cereal

The Claim: "Lightly sweetened"
The Truth: Unregulated by the USDA, the word "lightly" gets tossed around like a Frisbee in the food packaging world. Always take it with a grain of salt; in many instances, "light" is the first sign of trouble. With this healthy-sounding cereal, "lightly" means 14 grams of sugar from 5 different sources, all of which adds up to a cereal with more added sugars per serving than Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, or Apple Jacks.

What You Really Want: A cereal with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving (and ideally less than 5), with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Look at cereal as a sugar-to-fiber ratio; you want a ratio no higher than two to one.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

3. The Fat Fake-Out

Smucker's Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter

The Claim: "25% less fat than regular natural peanut butter"
The Truth: Smucker's has indeed removed some of the fat from the peanut butter, but they've replaced it with maltodextrin, a carbohydrate used as a cheap filler in many processed foods. This means you're trading the healthy fat from peanuts for empty carbs, double the sugar, and a savings of a meager 10 calories.

What You Really Want: The real stuff: no oils, fillers, or added sugars. Just peanuts and salt. Smucker's Natural fits the bill, as do many other peanut butters out there.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

4. Bogus Bread

Home Pride Wheat Bread

The Claims: "1 gram of fat per slice"; "wheat bread"
The Truth: This over-trumpeted claim (since when has bread contained much fat, anyway?) tries to distract from the fact that each slice has three times more sugar than fiber. Whatever wheat that went into this bread was stripped of all of its meaningful nutrients. Perhaps most concerning, the ingredients list here is more than a dozen items long, many of them unpronounceable additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Whatever happened to the days when bread was just flour, water, and yeast?

What You Really Want: Ignore fat when it comes to bread; there's rarely enough in a slice to make a real difference. More important, seek out a bread with more fiber per slice than sugar and with as few ingredients as possible.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

5. The Conspicuous Trans Fats

Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn

The Claim: "Made with a sprinkle of salt and a taste of butter"
The Truth: The taste of the butter is actually the taste of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which imbues on this greasy bag a total of 18 grams of trans fats-more than seven times what you should safely consume in a day, according to the American Heart Association. No area of the supermarket is more riddles with these fats-proven to increase the risk of coronary heart disease-than the snack aisles, so be on high alert.

What You Really Want: Unadulterated popcorn. Buy a low-calorie bag like Smart Balance Smart Movie-Style, then flavor it at home with a bit of heart-healthy olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

6. The Hidden Trans Fats

Cheetos Crunchy

The Claim: "Zero gram trans fats"
The Truth: FDA allows manufacturers to make this claim when their products contain less than 0.5 gram of trans fats per serving. It may seem insignificant, but 0.49 gram of this nefarious fat can add up quickly.

What You Really Want: Keep total trans fat intake to no more than 1 percent of total calories-about 2.5 grams per day for most adults. That means reading the ingredients list (especially those that proclaim to be trans-fat free) looking for "partially hydrogenated," "shortening," or "interesterified."

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

7. The Unnatural Fruit

Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bar

The Claim: "Naturally and artificially flavored"
The Truth: While the FDA requires manufacturers to disclose the use of artificial flavoring on the front of the box, the requirements for what is considered "natural" and "real" are not strict: Even trace amounts of the essence or extract of fruit counts as natural. So yes, there is fruit in this bar, but it falls third in the ingredients list, behind HFCS and corn syrup.

What You Really Want: An honest snack with nothing to hide. Lärabars, one of our favorite snacks in the aisle, are made with nothing more than dried fruit and nuts.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

8. The Absent Avocado

Dean's Guacamole

The Claim: "Guacamole"
The Truth: This "guacamole" dip is comprised of less than 2 percent avocado; the rest of the green goo is a cluster of fillers and chemicals, including modified food starch, soybean oils, locust bean gum, and food coloring. Dean's isn't alone in this guacamole caper; most guacs with the word "dip" attached to them suffer from a lack of avocado. This was brought to light when a California woman filed a lawsuit against Dean's after she noticed "it just didn't taste avocado-y." Similarly, a British judge ruled that Pringles are not technically chips, being that they have only 42 percent potato in them.

What You Really Want: If you want the heart-healthy fat, you'll need avocado. Wholly Guacamole makes a great guac, or mash up a bowl yourself.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

9. The Cheeseless Cheese Pizza

Mama Celeste Original Pizza

The Claim: "Original Pizza"
The Truth: Ever had a pizza without cheese? Well, if you eat this one you will have, since Mama Celeste doesn't use a single shred of real cheese in making this problematic pie. What does she use? Imitation mozzarella, which is the second ingredient on the list and is composed mostly of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, endowing each serving with 5 grams of nasty trans fats. Also watch out for the attachment of the word "flavored," as in "strawberry-flavored"; it's a surefire sign that the product is utterly fruitless.

What You Really Want: Cheese, strawberries, or whatever you think it is you're getting. If the name or flavor in the food's title isn't one of the first few ingredients, find another product.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

10. (Kind of) "Real" Food

Kid Cuisine All Star Chicken Nuggets

The Claims: "Made with real chicken"; "made with real cheese"
The Truth: Yes, there is actual chicken in these "nugget-shaped patties," but it shares space with 17 other ingredients, including textured soy protein and modified food starch. The mac with "real cheese" does have cheddar, but it also has 34 other ingredients, including the carb filler maltodextrin. Rule of thumb: If a product makes claims about its realness on the package, be skeptical.

What You Really Want: To eat more food and fewer science experiments. While it's tricky with our industrialized food complex, stick to items with as few ingredients as possible. If they're chicken nuggets, that means chicken, bread crumbs, and oil. Foster Farms Breast Nuggets fit the bill.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

11. The Freezer Burn

Tofutti Vanilla Almond Bark

The Claims: "No butterfat"; "no cholesterol"
The Truth: Though both of these claims are technically true, they paint a false sense of security in the person looking for a healthy indulgence. Ignore front label claims (Tofutti is not made with dairy, so by definition it can't have butterfat or cholesterol) and flip the package for the straight scoop; here you'll see that this ice cream substitute still has 15 grams of fat and 16 grams of sugar per serving-as high as most full-fledged ice creams.

What You Really Want: If you're lactose intolerant, both Soy Delicious and Soy Dream make reliably low-cal non-dairy creams. If you're just looking for a healthy ice cream fix, try Breyers Double Churn.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

12. The "Health" Food That Isn't

Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken

The Claim: "Healthy Choice"
The Truth: A company can call itself whatever it wants, but that doesn't give credence to the name. Healthy Choice even provides a handful of nutritional stats-430 calories, 9 grams fat, 600 milligrams sodium-to back up the name, but they neglect to mention the 29 grams of added sugars used in this dish. The six different forms of sweeteners in the ingredient list combine to give this less-than-healthy choice almost the same amount of sugar as a Snickers bar. Many Healthy Choice selections are reliably nutritious; this is not one of them.

What You Really Want: Dinner that doesn't taste like a bowl of ice cream. While fat and calories are important considerations in everything you eat, be sure to read the fine print. Companies with healthy label claims often pull the bait and switch, going low in fat but then elevating the sugar or sodium to up the flavor quotient.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

13. All-Natural Disaster


The Claim: "All Natural Flavors"
The Truth: The FDA doesn't have a definition for this claim. Case in point: 7UP now boasts that it's made with 100 percent natural ingredients. That's because they've switched from carbonated water to filtered water, from citric acid to natural citric acid, and from calcium disodium EDT to natural potassium citrate. Got it? Here's the kicker: The soft drink is still sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which can't be made without the help of a centrifuge.

What You Really Want: A healthy choice, like lemon and seltzer. 7UP's tactic is employed primarily by companies making junk food (see also: Natural Cheetos). Considering that the calorie counts are nearly always identical with their "unnatural" brethren (in the case of 7UP, calories and sugar counts are the exact same), concentrate on the bigger issues and find reliably healthy drinks and snacks.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

14. Got Milk?


The Claim: "Chocolate drink"
The Truth: Ever notice the conspicuous absence of milk in the title of this popular drink? The first ingredient in this kid-favorite is water, the second high-fructose corn syrup; in fact, nonfat dry milk does not appear until the ninth ingredient, three slots below partially hydrogenated soybean oil. As a result, Yoo-Hoo offers less than half the calcium and vitamin D provided by the real thing.

What You Really Want: Yoo-Hoo is fine for the occasional indulgence, but for a kid in need of nutrition, real milk will always be the better choice. Organic Valley's Chocolate Lowfat Milk comes in 8-ounc cartons for automatic portion control.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

15. A Not-So-Juicy Cocktail

Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry

The Claim: "Juice drink"
The Truth: Words like "juice drink" and "juice cocktail" are industry euphemisms for a huge dose of sugar water. In this case, the product is also adorned with a cluster of other claims that attempt to hide this simple fact. (Most of Ocean Spray's juice products suffer from a serious lack of juice; this particular one, with just 18 percent juice, is one of the worst offenders.) Ocean Spray, to be sure, is not the only juice purveyor guilty of this sleight of hand: Dozens of manufacturers, including Welch's, Minute Maid, and SunnyD, perpetrate similar nutritional injustices.

What You Really Want: Every juice that hits your lips should be 100 percent juice. Period.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

16. 100 Percent Misleading

Tropicana Pure 100% Juice Pomegranate Blueberry

The Claim: "100% juice pomegranate blueberry"
The Truth: Drinks may be labeled 100 percent pure juice, but that doesn't mean they're made exclusively with the advertised juice. Pomegranate and blueberry get top billing here, even though the ingredient list reveals that par, apple, and grape juices are among the first four ingredients. These juices are used because they're cheap to produce and because they're very sweet-likely to keep you coming back for more. Labels loaded with of-the-moment superfoods like acai and pomegranate are especially susceptible to this type of trickery.

What You Really Want: To avoid the huge sugar surge, pick single-fruit juices. POM and R.W. Knudsen both make some reliably pure products.

18 Supermarket Lies Revealed

17. Organic Junk Food

Kraft Original Macaroni and Cheese

The Claim: "USDA organic"
The Truth: It's organic so it must be healthy, right? Not so much. For an extra 60 cents per box, consumers save 20 calories and 1 gram of fat. They also gain 2 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 50 milligrams of sodium and they lose 6 percent of their daily iron. The point is, even organic junk food is still junk food. Your body processes organic refined flour and powdered cheese the same way it does conventional, so at the end of the day it's still a high-calorie, low-nutrient letdown.

What You Really Want: If you must have mac, pick one with a label that reads like the recipe you'd use to fix it at home. Annie's line of macaroni and cheese contains about eight ingredients per box and cuts the fat by 72 percent over Kraft Organic.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pharmaceutical Drugs are 62,000 Times More Likely to Kill You than Supplements

By Dr. Mercola
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition1, 69 percent of American adults take supplements. But are supplements dangerous? The UK-based, international campaign group, the Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH-Intl) recently revealed data2 showing that compared to supplements, an individual is:
  • Around 900 times more likely to die from food poisoning
  • Nearly 300,000 times more likely to die from a preventable medical injury during a UK hospital stay, which is comparable to the individual risk of dying that active military face in Iraq or Afghanistan
Additionally, the data shows that adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs are:
  • 62,000 times more likely to kill you than food supplements
  • 7,750 times more likely to kill you than herbal remedies
The data, which was collected from official sources in the UK and EU, demonstrate that both food supplements and herbal remedies are in the 'super-safe' category of individual risk – meaning risk of death from their consumption is less than 1 in 10 million. The group has created an excellent graphic3 showing your relative risk of death from a variety of activities. Besides drugs and hospital injuries, you're also more likely to die from being struck by lightning or drowning in your bathtub than having a lethal reaction to herbs or supplements...
According to the featured article on NewHope360.com4
"ANH-Intl executive and scientific director, Robert Verkerk PhD, hailed the figures as shedding new light on the vexed question of natural healthcare's safety. "These figures tell us not only what activities an individual is most or least likely to die from, but also what the relative risks of various activities are to society as a whole. It puts some real perspective on the actual risk of death posed by food supplements and herbal remedies at a time when governments are clamping down because they tell us they're dangerous.
... According to Dr Verkerk, the new figures should help to pressure UK and European authorities to reduce regulatory burdens on natural health products."

With a Super-Safe Track Record, Why are Supplements Under Attack?

Vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements have a tremendously safe track record, yet they are often singled out as being potentially dangerous by government agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This – the notion that dietary supplements are unsafe -- was the premise behind the FDA's Draft Guidance on New Dietary Ingredients (NDI), which would have required the supplement industry to prove the safety of natural ingredients that, in many cases, have been on the market and used safely for decades!
Fortunately, public outcry made the agency agree to take another look at their proposed guidance and to issue a revised draft.5It's still not known when the revisions might be completed.
The original NDI draft essentially claimed dietary supplements are unsafe and must be carefully tested in order to "protect consumers." The proposed safety thresholds even exceeded those required by pharmaceutical drugs -- despite extensive toxicological data showing supplements are FAR safer than drugs. As detailed above, drugs are 62,000 times more likely to kill you than supplements!  Why on earth would supplements need more stringent safety thresholds than drugs?
It's an obvious attempt to eliminate competition for the drug industry.
Data from the United States fully corroborates the featured UK data. For example, according to the latest data from the US National Poison Data System (2010 report)6, NO deaths were attributable to vitamin and mineral supplements that year. And, as noted by Orthomolecular Medicine News Service last year7, Americans easily take more than 60 billion doses of nutritional supplements every year, and with zero related deaths this is an outstanding safety record:
"Well over half of the U.S. population takes daily nutritional supplements. Even if each of those people took only one single tablet daily, that makes 165,000,000 individual doses per day, for a total of over 60 billion doses annually. Since many persons take far more than just one single vitamin or mineral tablet, actual consumption is considerably higher, and the safety of nutritional supplements is all the more remarkable. Over 60 billion doses of vitamin and mineral supplemnts per year in the USA, and not a single fatality. Not one. If vitamin and mineral supplements are allegedly so 'dangerous,' as the FDA and news media so often claim, then where are the bodies?"

The Drug Industry is the Real Health Threat

In striking contrast, drugs are known to cause well over 125,000 deaths per year in the US when taken correctly as prescribed – yet the FDA allows fast-track approvals and countless new additions of poorly tested drugs to the marketplace that must later be withdrawn due to their lethal consequences.
It is simply incomprehensible that any rational approach would seek to vilify supplements over drugs when the data in no way, shape or form supports it. The most likely motive for this position is financial greed that can put your life in jeopardy. According to the US National Poison Data System8 the following drug categories are among the most lethal:
  1. Analgesics, sedatives, hypnotics, and antipsychotics
  2. Cardiovascular drugs
  3. Opioids
  4. Acetaminophen combinations
  5. Antidepressants
Slightly lower down on the list you find drugs like muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones, antacids, anticoagulants, and antihistamines.

Time to Start a New "Just say NO!" Anti-Drug Movement

The anti-drug slogan coined by Nancy Reagan in the early 1980's is just as applicable for today's prescription drug problem as the recreational drug problem of the past. The only difference is that today prescription drugs have eclipsed illicit drugs as the number one source of poisoning deaths. Prescription drugs have also been identified as the primary "gateway" to illegal drug use, beating out marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes.
According to a July 6 press release9
"... Since 2000, the drugs sending people to their graves or to rehab have been shifting away from illicit drugs and toward prescription drugs. The 2011 report on the subject from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made it clear:prescription narcotic pain reliever overdose deaths now exceed the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.
... 'Our own clients and people calling in daily for information about our program or help have told us story after story about addictions starting with the use of prescription drugs,' stated Derry Hallmark, Director of Admissions at Narconon Arrowhead, a premier drug rehab facility in Southeastern Oklahoma. 'Sadly, prescription medications have become the newest of the gateway drugs. Sadder still are the losses of life and other severe consequences that go hand in hand with drug abuse, which is especially the case with prescription drug abuse.'
Hallmark adds that those addicted to prescriptions will often end up needing treatment or will even start taking illicit drugs.One of the most common examples of this is the connection between those addicted to painkillers that then start taking heroin..."
It's important to understand that there is a risk of side effects every time you take a prescription drug. No one (except for those who intentionally overdose) expects these medications to kill them, but they can do just that, and it happens far more often than you might think. In a 2011 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), officials emphasized that people should not assume there's no risk in prescribed medicines10
The truth is, the best  way to avoid all risk, including death, from prescription drugs is to not take them at all. Remember, it's your body, not your doctor's and not your pharmacist's, so it is up to you to make the decision of what drugs to take, if any. Be SURE you are aware of the risks of any medication prescribed to you, and weigh them against any possible benefit. Then you can make a well-informed decision of whether it's a risk you're willing to take.

Optimizing Your Health Without Drugs

Of course, of paramount importance is taking control of your health so you can stay well naturally, without the use of drugs or even frequent conventional medical care. If you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need medications in the first place.
This includes:
  1. Proper Food Choices
    For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods (vegetables, meats, raw dairy, nuts, and so forth) that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources, such as a small organic farm not far from your home.
    For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw, and make sure you're sourcing your meats and animal products from organically-raised, grass-fed or pastured animals.
    Nearly as important as knowing which foods to eat more of is knowing which foods to avoid, and topping the list is fructose.Sugar, and fructose in particular, acts as a toxin in and of itself, and as such drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of accelerated aging.
  2. Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness
    Even if you're eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including not only core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching but also high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. I've discussed the importance of Peak Fitness for your health on numerous occasions, so for more information, please review this previous article.
  3. Stress Reduction and Positive Thinking
    You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Effective coping mechanisms are a major longevity-promoting factor in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. Energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, meditation, prayer, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.
  4. Proper Sun Exposure to Optimize Vitamin D
    We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, and if at all possible, I strongly urge you to make sure you're getting out in the sun on a daily basis. There is preliminary evidence suggesting that oral vitamin D may not provide the identical benefits, although it's still better than none at all. To determine the times of year that you can optimize your vitamin D levels through sun exposure, please see this previous article.
  5. Take High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats
    Animal-based omega-3 found in krill oil helps fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, hyperactivity and many other diseases.
  6. Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible
    This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.

Avoid The Worst ‘Healthy’ Foods

If you’re not eating organic food, you may be ingesting a surprisingly large amount of toxins. Pesticide residues, antibiotics and genetically modified (GMO) foods are among the questionable elements that are in our food supply. Protect yourself by knowing which foods are the most problematic and may be the riskiest.
Health Debate
As the debate over what constitutes good health continues, the cost of healthy food keeps increasing. And while many people believe they are eating a healthy diet full of nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, they are actually eating GMO foods that are covered in pesticides. Washing food before preparation removes chemicals from the outside of it; but many of these substances wash off in rain while fruits and vegetables are still growing, get absorbed into the soil and are made a systemic part of the foods themselves so that no amount of washing can remove them. Yet while the advertising claims about conventional foods as “healthy” and “all natural” are scams, many people find the cost of organic food puts it financially out of reach. They can’t afford daily helpings of organic foods.
Two years ago, I wrote an article about a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For this study, researchers form the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine conducted a review of more than 160 scientific papers and studies published in the leading journals over the past 50 years. The results of the largest study suggested “no evidence of differences in nutrition-related health outcomes that result from exposure to organic or conventionally produced foodstuffs.”
Missing The Point
I was outraged at what this study suggested, because it missed the main health point completely. To read my article on this, click here.
The good news is that my assessment of those study results is supported by a recently released report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which assesses the health hazard of the chemicals used to grow non-organic food. This “Dirty Dozen” report names the 12 fruits and vegetables in the United States that rank the highest in pesticide residue. The deadly chemicals farmers used to kill bugs and insects on crops are allowed by our beloved Food and Drug Administration to be eaten by consumers. And these pesticides are neurotoxins, or toxins that are damaging to the nervous system. Remember the nervous system, that little thing that controls the entire body?
The Worst
The 12 worst foods for you to consume, when they are not certified “organic,” are:
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Sweet bell peppers
4. Peaches
5. Strawberries
6. Imported nectarines
7. Grapes
8. Spinach
9. Lettuce
10. Cucumbers
11. Domestic blueberries
12. Potatoes
List Additions
This year, the EWG added a few extra foods to the list of their dozen most harmful, because they are coming close to dangerous levels of toxins. These are:
1. Green beans
2. Kale
3. Collard greens
Makes you angry, doesn’t it? All of the foods that we go out of our way to purchase from the grocery store and even the local farmers markets — unless they are specifically labeled as “organic” — are harming our bodies. It has nothing to do with nutritional levels, as the London study analyzed, but with toxic chemicals used to grow the fruits and vegetables that damage our nervous systems and lead to disease.
I used to buy locally grown strawberries and blueberries from a farm a short drive from my home, until I noticed that their packaging did not include “certified organic” on it anywhere. When I asked the farmer, he said that he cannot afford to grow organic. Although he was not lying to his customers, I’ll wager that most, like me, thought buying directly from a farm meant healthier. Not so.
Retail Solace
I found some solace in the local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, whose selections I assumed were better. And they are, to an extent. Recently, Trader Joe’s own store brand of meats was listed as being raised with antibiotics and is toxic. Also, the Whole Foods’ 365 brand has both organic and “all natural,” products but Whole Foods doesn’t bother telling you that some are GMO and not organic. You have to figure it out for yourself. What a scam.
There is some light at the end of this tunnel. The EWG also released a list of non-organic foods it found to be healthier. Its “Clean 15” is a list of fruits and vegetables that show the least amount of pesticide reside. These are:
1. Onions
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Cabbage
6. Sweet peas
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Eggplant
10. Kiwi
11. Domestic cantaloupe
12. Sweet potatoes
13. Grapefruit
14. Watermelon
15. Mushrooms
“The EWG report is based on pesticide residue data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, which tested samples as they normally would be eaten — after being washed or peeled.” Let me repeat that last part, for impact: after being washed or peeled!
Harmful Chemicals
If you don’t think pesticide toxins are harmful to your body, here is what Harvard School of Public Health’s Chensheng Lu has to say: “Toxins appear to be connected to a prevalence of diseases, including cancer. And some studies suggest pesticide intake, especially in the prenatal stage, can cause neurological developmental problems in infants.”
In the end, we are talking health, not finances. If you have the resources, I suggest consuming only organic fruits and vegetables, dining on grass-fed beef that is hormone and antibiotic-free, and using oils for cooking that are non-hydrogenated and contain no trans fats. If money is an issue and you want to be as healthy as possible especially when it comes to diet, then purchase the Dirty Dozen foods only in their certified form and go ahead and purchase the Clean 15 from your local market. This mix should provide you enough protection from poison while saving your wallet in this economy.