Archive for the ‘lifestyle changes’ Category

Why Eating Quick, Cheap Food is Actually More Expensive

Why Eating Quick, Cheap Food is Actually More Expensive

 By Mark Hyman, M.D.

I WAS IN THE GROCERY STORE YESTERDAY. While I was squeezing avocados to pick just the right ones for my family’s dinner salad, I overheard a conversation from a couple who had also picked up a fruit.

“Oh, these avocados look good, let’s get some.”

Then looking up at the price, they said, “Two for five dollars!” Dejected, they put the live avocado back and walked away from the vegetable aisle toward the aisles full of dead, boxed, canned, packaged goods where they can buy thousands of calories of poor-quality, nutrient-poor, factory-made, processed foods filled with sugar, fat, and salt for the same five dollars. This is the scenario millions of Americans struggling to feed their families face every day.

The odd paradox is that food insecurity — not knowing where the next meal is coming from or not having enough money to adequately feed your family — leads to obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease. Examining this paradox may help us advocate for policies that make producing fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole other foods cheaper, while rethinking the almost $300 billion in government subsidies that support the production of cheap, processed food derived from corn and soy.

At the same time, a Food Revolution, along the lines of that advocated by Jamie Oliver, a radical chef, can help Americans take back their table and their health from a food industry that has driven us to eat more than 50 percent of our meals out of the home compared to less than 2 percent 100 years ago. And most of those meals eaten at home are produced in plants, not grown on plants, are from a food chemist’s lab, not a farmer’s field. Cooking and eating whole fresh foods at home, can be cheaper, more fun, and simpler than most people think.

So I would ask you to consider: Have you ever made poor food choices because of cost? What is the REAL cost of this cheap food — the cost in dollars, on our health, on our environment, and even on the fraying fabric of our social and family systems?

This is what you need to remember:

  1. The true cost of unhealthy food isn’t just the price tag — in fact, the real costs are hidden.
  2. Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost more.

Sure, it seems cheaper to eat a burger, fries, and a soda from McDonald’s than to eat a meal of whole foods, but there are healthier options. Let me review why the true costs of eating unhealthy food are hidden, and give you some suggestions that will help you save money and suffering by eating well for less. Poverty or financial limitations do not preclude eating well, creating health, and avoiding disease.

Let’s start by looking at how our economy and public policy are geared toward the production of cheap, unhealthy food.

Government Policy Supports the Production of Unhealthy Food

Unhealthy food is cheaper because our government’s policies support its production. We’re spending nearly $30 billion a year to subsidize corn and soy production. Where do those foods go? Into our food supply as high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fats), that are the foundation of almost all fast food and processed foods that are “manufactured” by the food industry.

Since the 1970s — when our agricultural policies where changed to support corn and soy farmers — we’re consuming, on average, an extra 500 calories (mostly in the form of cheap, artificial high-fructose corn syrup) per person.

When you eat unhealthy foods like these, the costs of medical visits, co-pays, prescription medications, and other health services skyrocket.

Corn and soy are also used to feed cattle for the production of meat and dairy. In fact, 70 percent of the wheat, corn, and soy farmed in this country is used to feed animals used for our food. The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people — more than the entire human population on Earth!

So, when our government helps pay for these foods — well, of course they’re cheaper! That explains the low price tag. But what about the OTHER costs to you?

The Hidden Costs of Eating Poorly

We all know that bad foods are bad for your health. It turns out they are also bad for the national pocketbook. For example, one expert has estimated that healthcare costs related to obesity are $118 billion per year. That’s nearly 12 percent of total healthcare expenditures — and more than twice that caused by smoking! Seventy-two percent of Americans are overweight and over one third are medically obese. One in three children born today will be diabetic in their lifetime and the life expectancy of our population is declining for the first time in human history.

A report from the Worldwatch Institute called Overfed and Underfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition documented the real costs of obesity related to poor diet — and this does NOT include the other effects of poor diet such as heart disease, cancer,diabetes, dementia, autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis. Here were some of the conclusions of that report:

  • Obese people account for a disproportionate share of health-related absences from work.
  • Obesity accounts for 7 percent of lost productivity due to sick leave and disability.
  • 7 percent of all of North Carolina’s healthcare expenditures are related to obesity.
  • Obese people visit their physicians 40 percent more than normal weight people.
  • Obese people are 2.5 times more likely to require drugs prescribed for cardiovascular and circulation disorders.
  • Liposuction is the Number 1 form of cosmetic surgery in the US, with 400,000 operations a year.
  • Over 100,000 people a year have gastric bypass surgery.

According to a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine (i), we’re spending about $20,000 per person for each extra year of life gained from medical interventions like drugs and surgery … as if that’s something to be proud of!

That doesn’t even take into account the $282 billion in costs resulting from medical interventions that go wrong — hospital infections, medical errors, deaths from drug reactions, bedsores, or unnecessary surgeries.

And what if that $20,000 per year was given to each person during his or her lifetime to support better nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management? My guess is that we would save trillions of dollars in health care expenditures on chronic disease!

As these numbers prove, the costs of eating fast, junk, and processed foods are often deferred until later. And that’s the key point: When you go to McDonald’s for a cheap burger and fries, you might immediately compare that lower price to whole organic foods which are more expensive in the short term. But the total cost isn’t reflected in how much you pay for your meal in the immediate moment, it’s the cumulative cost of what those decisions cost you over a lifetime.

For example, when you eat unhealthy foods like these, the costs of medical visits, co-pays, prescription medications, and other health services skyrocket. There are other non-economic costs of eating poorly as well. You reduce your ability to enjoy life in the moment due to increased fatigue, low-grade health complaints, obesity, depression, and more.

The biggest advantage of eating well now is not just preventing disease and costs later, but simply enjoying each day to its fullest. You can make that happen. Eating well doesn’t have to cost more.

It’s true that there are very few, if any, subsidies for the production of produce or healthier alternative foods. And the same government agency that supports the production of the ingredients for junk food provides less than $300 million for education on healthy nutrition.

But change is in the air. Dean Ornish, MD, has shown that a program to teach people to eat better, exercise, and learn stress reduction can prevent heart disease and reduce the need for heart bypass or other treatments. Insurance companies are starting to take notice as some cover the costs for that program. Paying $5,000 for such a program now, Medicare has finally recognized, is better than paying $50,000 later for a cardiac bypass operation.

A number of us advocated last year that a “health council” be established to coordinate and develop national polices that create and support health for Americans. This was part of the health reform bill and the National Council on Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health was created by executive order of the President in June. Drs. Dean Ornish, Memhet Oz, Michael Roizen and I, among others, have been nominated to be on a 25-member advisory council that helps guide the council. The council is made up of all the cabinet secretaries in charge of departments that in some way affect our health — agriculture, health, transportation, environment, trade, labor, and more — and will be chaired by the Surgeon General. This provides a way to influence national policies to support and create health — including our food and agriculture polices — for the first time.

The idea that you can save money by eating well is further supported by studies like the one published by the American Dietetic Association (ii) that shows eating well to lose weight is actually cheaper — or at the worst, no more expensive — than eating poorly! The authors of the study concluded that “adopting a lower-energy, nutrient-dense diet did not increase dietary costs over time. Consequently, cost should not be a barrier in the adoption of a healthful diet.”

That’s powerful evidence that eating well is not just good for your body, it’s good for your wallet, too! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Four Tips to Start Eating Healthy for Less Today

  1. Listen to Gandhi. Yes, Gandhi! He said that we should never mistake what is habitual for what is natural. Case in point: Some Chinese are very poor and yet they eat extremely well — small amounts of animal protein, with an abundance of vegetables.
  2. Be willing to learn. We have to learn new ways of shopping and eating, new ways of ordering our priorities around our health and nutrition that supports our well-being, even if it is hard at the beginning.
  3. Do your research. There are ways to find cheaper sources of produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, and lean animal protein. You just need to seek them out. It doesn’t all have to be organic. Simply switching from processed foods to whole foods is a HUGE step in the right direction.
  4. Make an effort. Eating healthy does take more planning. It may require you to find new places to hunt and gather for your family. You might have to reorder your priorities regarding where you spend your money and your time so that you can make healthier eating choices.

Remember, eating healthy foods without spending a lot is possible-and you can do it.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

References

(i) Cutler D.M., Rosen A.B., and S. Vijan. 2006. The value of medical spending in the United States, 1960-2000. N Engl J Med. 355(9): 920-7.

(ii)Raynor, H.A., Kilanowski, C.K., Esterli, I., et al. 2002. A cost-analysis of adopting a healthful diet in a family-based treatment program. J Am Diet Assoc.102(5): 645-650, 655-656.

Sugar is a Powerful Drug

For any of you who spent time with kids on Halloween and watched some O.D. on candy, you are well aware of the drug like effects of sugar.  I found it very interesting to watch the dramatic behavior change in some kids.  While some just had a few pieces, others binged as if they couldn’t get enough, became rude and unruly, unable to control themselves.
We joke that kids “get high” on candy, and often even “O.D.” on it.  But as jest is usually based on truth, sugar is addictive and this fact was recently supported by an article in the Bloomberg Report.
“We consistently found that the changes we were observing in the rats binging on sugar were like what we would see if the animals were addicted to drugs.”  The animals also showed withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, shakes and tremors, when the effect of the sugar was blocked with a drug. The scientists, moreover, were able to determine changes in the levels of dopamine in the brain, similar to those seen in animals on addictive drugs.
While this article makes some powerful statements about sugar, it is misleading in that it also refers to fatty foods being addictive without suggesting research to support this statement, as all fatty foods referred to are exceptionally high in sugar and thus it is far more likely that fat contributes little to the addictive nature of these foods, but rather the addiction lies entirely upon the body’s response to sugar.
A 2007 French experiment suggests that SUGAR may be even MORE ADDICTIVE than COCAINE, as it showed that rats prefer water sweetened with saccharine or sugar to hits of cocaine — exactly the opposite of what existing dogma would have suggested.
If you think a little sugar is ok for your child, think again.  Would you ever approve of your child doing a little cocaine?

Cholesterol – Why We Need It

The Cholesterol Myth that is Harming Your Health

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/10/making-sense-of-your-cholesterol-numbers.aspx

Posted By Dr. Mercola | August 10 2010 | 167,949 views

By Dr. Mercola
Cholesterol could easily be described as the smoking gun of the last two decades.

It”s been responsible for demonizing entire categories of foods (like eggs and saturated fats) and blamed for just about every case of heart disease in the last 20 years.

Yet when I first opened my medical practice in the mid 80s, cholesterol, and the fear that yours was too high was rarely talked about.

Somewhere along the way however, cholesterol became a household word — something that you must keep as low as possible, or suffer the consequences.

You are probably aware that there are many myths that portray fat and cholesterol as one of the worst foods you can consume. Please understand that these myths are actually harming your health.

Not only is cholesterol most likely not going to destroy your health (as you have been led to believe), but it is also not the cause of heart disease.

And for those of you taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, the information that follows could not have been given to you fast enough. But before I delve into this life-changing information, let”s get some basics down first.

What is Cholesterol, and Why Do You Need It?

That”s right, you do need cholesterol.

This soft, waxy substance is found not only in your bloodstream, but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function.

Your liver makes about 75 percent of your body”s cholesterol,[i] and according to conventional medicine, there are two types:

  1. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL: This is the “good” cholesterol that helps to keep cholesterol away from your arteries and remove any excess from arterial plaque, which may help to prevent heart disease.
  2. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL: This “bad” cholesterol circulates in your blood and, according to conventional thinking, may build up in your arteries, forming plaque that makes your arteries narrow and less flexible (a condition called atherosclerosis). If a clot forms in one of these narrowed arteries leading to your heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke may result.

Also making up your total cholesterol count are:

  • Triglycerides: Elevated levels of this dangerous fat have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Triglyceride levels are known to rise from eating too many grains and sugars, being physically inactive, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively and being overweight or obese.
  • Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a): Lp(a) is a substance that is made up of an LDL “bad cholesterol” part plus a protein (apoprotein a). Elevated Lp(a) levels are a very strong risk factor for heart disease. This has been well established, yet very few physicians check for it in their patients.

Understand this:

Your Total Cholesterol Level is NOT a Great Indicator of Your Heart Disease Risk

Health officials in the United States urge everyone over the age of 20 to have their cholesterol tested once every five years. Part of this test is your total cholesterol, or the sum of your blood”s cholesterol content, including HDL, LDLs, and VLDLs..

The American Heart Association recommends that your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, but what they do not tell you is that total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is above 330.

In addition, the AHA updated their guidelines in 2004, lowering the recommended level of LDL cholesterol from 130 to LDL to less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk.

In order to achieve these outrageous and dangerously low targets, you typically need to take multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs. So the guidelines instantly increased the market for these dangerous drugs. Now, with testing children”s cholesterol levels, they”re increasing their market even more.

I have seen a number of people with total cholesterol levels over 250 who actually were at low heart disease risk due to their HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen even more who had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease based on the following additional tests:

  • HDL/Cholesterol ratio
  • Triglyceride/HDL ratios

HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent.

You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.

Keep in mind, however, that these are still simply guidelines, and there”s a lot more that goes into your risk of heart disease than any one of these numbers. In fact, it was only after word got out that total cholesterol is a poor predictor of heart disease that HDL and LDL cholesterol were brought into the picture.

They give you a closer idea of what”s going on, but they still do not show you everything.

Cholesterol is Neither “Good” Nor “Bad”

Now that we”ve defined good and bad cholesterol, it has to be said that there is actually only one type of cholesterol. Ron Rosedale, MD, who is widely considered to be one of the leading anti-aging doctor in the United States, does an excellent job of explaining this concept:[ii]
“Notice please that LDL and HDL are lipoproteins — fats combined with proteins. There is only one cholesterol. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol.

Cholesterol is just cholesterol.

It combines with other fats and proteins to be carried through the bloodstream, since fat and our watery blood do not mix very well.

Fatty substances therefore must be shuttled to and from our tissues and cells using proteins. LDL and HDL are forms of proteins and are far from being just cholesterol.

In fact we now know there are many types of these fat and protein particles. LDL particles come in many sizes and large LDL particles are not a problem. Only the so-called small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, because they can squeeze through the lining of the arteries and if they oxidize, otherwise known as turning rancid, they can cause damage and inflammation.

Thus, you might say that there is “good LDL” and “bad LDL.”

Also, some HDL particles are better than others. Knowing just your total cholesterol tells you very little. Even knowing your LDL and HDL levels will not tell you very much.”

Cholesterol is Your Friend, Not Your Enemy

Before we continue, I really would like you to get your mind around this concept.

In the United States, the idea that cholesterol is evil is very much engrained in most people”s minds. But this is a very harmful myth that needs to be put to rest right now.
“First and foremost,” Dr. Rosedale points out, “cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. In other words, there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol.

That will automatically tell you that, in and of itself, it cannot be evil. In fact, it is one of our best friends.

We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one”s risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.”

Vitamin D and Your Cholesterol

You probably are aware of the incredible influence of vitamin D on your health. If you aren”t, or need a refresher, you can visit my vitamin D page.

What most people do not realize is that the best way to obtain your vitamin D is from safe exposure to sun on your skin. The UVB rays in sunlight interact with the cholesterol on your skin and convert it to vitamin D.

Bottom line?

If your cholesterol level is too low you will not be able to use the sun to generate sufficient levels of vitamin D.

Additionally, it provides some intuitive feedback that if cholesterol were so dangerous, why would your body use it as precursor for vitamin D and virtually all of the steroid hormones in your body?

Other “evidence” that cholesterol is good for you?

Consider the role of “good” HDL cholesterol. Essentially, HDL takes cholesterol from your body”s tissues and arteries, and brings it back to your liver, where most of your cholesterol is produced. If the purpose of this was to eliminate cholesterol from your body, it would make sense that the cholesterol would be shuttled back to your kidneys or intestines so your body could remove it.

Instead, it goes back to your liver. Why?

Because your liver is going to reuse it.
“It is taking it back to your liver so that your liver can recycle it; put it back into other particles to be taken to tissues and cells that need it,” Dr. Rosedale explains. “Your body is trying to make and conserve the cholesterol for the precise reason that it is so important, indeed vital, for health.”

Cholesterol and Inflammation – What”s the Connection?

Inflammation has become a bit of a buzzword in the medical field because it has been linked to so many different diseases. And one of those diseases is heart disease … the same heart disease that cholesterol is often blamed for.

What am I getting at?

Well, first consider the role of inflammation in your body. In many respects, it”s a good thing as it”s your body”s natural response to invaders it perceives as threats. If you get a cut for instance, the process of inflammation is what allows you to heal.

Specifically during inflammation:

  • Your blood vessels constrict to keep you from bleeding to death
  • Your blood becomes thicker so it can clot
  • Your immune system sends cells and chemicals to fight viruses, bacteria and other “bad guys” that could infect the area
  • Cells multiply to repair the damage

Ultimately, the cut is healed and a protective scar may form over the area.

If your arteries are damaged, a very similar process occurs inside of your body, except that a “scar” in your artery is known as plaque.

This plaque, along with the thickening of your blood and constricting of your blood vessels that normally occur during the inflammatory process, can indeed increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Notice that cholesterol has yet to even enter the picture.

Cholesterol comes in because, in order to replace your damaged cells, it is necessary.

Remember that no cell can form without it.

So if you have damaged cells that need to be replaced, your liver will be notified to make more cholesterol and release it into your bloodstream. This is a deliberate process that takes place in order for your body to produce new, healthy cells.

It”s also possible, and quite common, for damage to occur in your body on a regular basis. In this case, you will be in a dangerous state of chronic inflammation.

The test usually used to determine if you have chronic inflammation is a C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test. CRP level is used as a marker of inflammation in your arteries.

Generally speaking:

  • A CRP level under 1 milligrams per liter of blood means you have a low risk for cardiovascular disease
  • 1 to 3 milligrams means your risk is intermediate
  • More than 3 milligrams is high risk

Even conventional medicine is warming up to the idea that chronic inflammation can trigger heart attacks. But they stop short of seeing the big picture.

In the eyes of conventional medicine, when they see increased cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, they conclude that it — not the underlying damage to your arteries — is the cause of heart attacks.

Which brings me to my next point.

The Insanity of Lowering Cholesterol

Sally Fallon, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Mary Enig, Ph.D, an expert in lipid biochemistry, have gone so far as to call high cholesterol “an invented disease, a “problem” that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.”[iii]

And this explanation is spot on.

If you have increased levels of cholesterol, it is at least in part because of increased inflammation in your body. The cholesterol is there to do a job: help your body to heal and repair.

Conventional medicine misses the boat entirely when they dangerously recommend that lowering cholesterol with drugs is the way to reduce your risk of heart attacks, because what is actually needed is to address whatever is causing your body damage — and leading to increased inflammation and then increased cholesterol.

As Dr. Rosedale so rightly points out:2“If excessive damage is occurring such that it is necessary to distribute extra cholesterol through the bloodstream, it would not seem very wise to merely lower the cholesterol and forget about why it is there in the first place.

It would seem much smarter to reduce the extra need for the cholesterol — the excessive damage that is occurring, the reason for the chronic inflammation.”
I”ll discuss how to do this later in the report, but first let”s take a look at the dangers of low cholesterol — and how it came to be that cholesterol levels needed to be so low in the first place.

If Your Cholesterol is Too Low …

All kinds of nasty things can happen to your body. Remember, every single one of your cells needs cholesterol to thrive — including those in your brain. Perhaps this is why low cholesterol wreaks havoc on your psyche.

One large study conducted by Dutch researchers found that men with chronically low cholesterol levels showed a consistently higher risk of having depressive symptoms.[iv]

This may be because cholesterol affects the metabolism of serotonin, a substance involved in the regulation of your mood. On a similar note, Canadian researchers found that those in the lowest quarter of total cholesterol concentration had more than six times the risk of committing suicide as did those in the highest quarter.[v]

Dozens of studies also support a connection between low or lowered cholesterol levels and violent behavior, through this same pathway: lowered cholesterol levels may lead to lowered brain serotonin activity, which may, in turn, lead to increased violence and aggression.[vi]

And one meta-analysis of over 41,000 patient records found that people who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol as much as possible may have a higher risk of cancer,[vii] while other studies have linked low cholesterol to Parkinson”s disease.

What cholesterol level is too low? Brace yourself.

Probably any level much under 150 — an optimum would be more like 200.

Now I know what you are thinking: “But my doctor tells me my cholesterol needs to be under 200 to be healthy.” Well let me enlighten you about how these cholesterol recommendations came to be. And I warn you, it is not a pretty story.

This is a significant issue. I have seen large numbers of people who have their cholesterol lowered below 150, and there is little question in my mind that it is causing far more harm than any benefit they are receiving by lowering their cholesterol this low.

Who Decided What Cholesterol Levels are Healthy or Harmful?

In 2004, the U.S. government”s National Cholesterol Education Program panel advised those at risk for heart disease to attempt to reduce their LDL cholesterol to specific, very low, levels.

Before 2004, a 130-milligram LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk.

Keep in mind that these extremely low targets often require multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs to achieve.

Fortunately, in 2006 a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine[viii] found that there is insufficient evidence to support the target numbers outlined by the panel. The authors of the review were unable to find research providing evidence that achieving a specific LDL target level was important in and of itself, and found that the studies attempting to do so suffered from major flaws.

Several of the scientists who helped develop the guidelines even admitted that the scientific evidence supporting the less-than-70 recommendation was not very strong.

So how did these excessively low cholesterol guidelines come about?

Eight of the nine doctors on the panel that developed the new cholesterol guidelines had been making money from the drug companies that manufacture statin cholesterol-lowering drugs.[ix]

The same drugs that the new guidelines suddenly created a huge new market for in the United States.

Coincidence? I think not.

Now, despite the finding that there is absolutely NO evidence to show that lowering your LDL cholesterol to 100 or below is good for you, what do you think the American Heart Association STILL recommends?

Lowering your LDL cholesterol levels to less than 100.[x]

And to make matters worse, the standard recommendation to get to that level almost always includes one or more cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The Dangers of Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, taking a drug should be your absolute last resort. And when I say last resort, I”m saying the odds are very high, greater than 100 to 1, that you don”t need drugs to lower your cholesterol.

To put it another way, among the more than 20,000 patients who have come to my clinic, only four or five of them truly needed these drugs, as they had genetic challenges of familial hypercholesterolemia that required it..

Contrast this to what is going on in the general population. According to data from Medco Health Solutions Inc., more than half of insured Americans are taking drugs for chronic health conditions. And cholesterol-lowering medications are the second most common variety among this group, with nearly 15 percent of chronic medication users taking them (high blood pressure medications — another vastly over-prescribed category — were first).[xi]

Disturbingly, as written in BusinessWeek early in 2008, “Some researchers have even suggested — half-jokingly — that the medications should be put in the water supply.”[xii]

Count yourself lucky that you probably do NOT need to take cholesterol-lowering medications, because these are some nasty little pills.

Statin drugs work by inhibiting an enzyme in your liver that”s needed to manufacture cholesterol. What is so concerning about this is that when you go tinkering around with the delicate workings of the human body, you risk throwing everything off kilter.

Case in point, “statin drugs inhibit not just the production of cholesterol, but a whole family of intermediary substances, many if not all of which have important biochemical functions in their own right,” say Enig and Fallon.3

For starters, statin drugs deplete your body of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is beneficial to heart health and muscle function. Because doctors rarely inform people of this risk and advise them to take a CoQ10 supplement, this depletion leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness, and eventually heart failure.

Muscle pain and weakness, a condition called rhabdomyolysis, is actually the most common side effect of statin drugs, which is thought to occur because statins activate the atrogin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy.[xiii]

By the way, muscle pain and weakness may be an indication that your body tissues are actually breaking down — a condition that can cause kidney damage.

Statin drugs have also been linked to:

  • An increased risk of polyneuropathy (nerve damage that causes pain in the hands and feet and trouble walking)
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive impairment, including memory loss[xiv]
  • A potential increased risk of cancer[xv]
  • Decreased function of the immune system[xvi]
  • Depression
  • Liver problems, including a potential increase in liver enzymes (so people taking statins must be regularly monitored for normal liver function)

And recently a possible association was found between statins and an increased risk of Lou Gehrig”s disease.[xvii]

Other cholesterol-lowering drugs besides statins also have side effects, most notably muscle pain and weakness.

IMPORTANT NOTE

If, for whatever reason, you or someone you know or love does not believe the information in this report and chooses to stay on statin drugs, then please make sure they at least take one to two Ubiquinols per day.

This will help prevent all the side effects mentioned above.

Ubiquinol is the reduced version of Coenzyme Q-10 and is far more effective if you are over 35-40 years old. It is the form of the supplement that actually works, and if you take CoQ-10 and your body can”t reduce it to uniquinol you are just fooling yourself and wasting your money.

You can visit our ubiquinol information page for more details.

Are Cholesterol Drugs Even Effective?

With all of these risks, the drugs had better be effective, right? Well, even this is questionable. At least, it depends on how you look at it.

Most cholesterol lowering drugs can effectively lower your cholesterol numbers, but are they actually making you any healthier, and do they help prevent heart disease?

Have you ever heard of the statistic known as NNT, or number needed to treat?

I didn”t think so. In fact, most doctors haven”t either. And herein lies the problem.

NNT answers the question: How many people have to take a particular drug to avoid one incidence of a medical issue (such as a heart attack)?

For example, if a drug had an NNT of 50 for heart attacks, then 50 people have to take the drug in order to prevent one heart attack.

Easy enough, right?

Well, drug companies would rather that you not focus on NNT, because when you do, you get an entirely different picture of their “miracle” drugs. Take, for instance, Pfizer”s Lipitor, which is the most prescribed cholesterol medication in the world and has been prescribed to more than 26 million Americans.[xviii]

According to Lipitor”s own Web site, Lipitor is clinically proven to lower bad cholesterol 39-60 percent, depending on the dose. Sounds fairly effective, right?

Well, BusinessWeek actually did an excellent story on this very topic earlier this year,[xix] and they found the REAL numbers right on Pfizer”s own newspaper ad for Lipitor.

Upon first glance, the ad boasts that Lipitor reduces heart attacks by 36 percent. But there is an asterisk. And when you follow the asterisk, you find the following in much smaller type:

“That means in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.”

What this means is that for every 100 people who took the drug over 3.3 years, three people on placebos, and two people on Lipitor, had heart attacks. That means that taking Lipitor resulted in just one fewer heart attack per 100 people.

The NNT, in this case, is 100. One hundred people have to take Lipitor for more than three years to prevent one heart attack. And the other 99 people, well, they”ve just dished out hundreds of dollars and increased their risk of a multitude of side effects for nothing.

So you can see how the true effectiveness of cholesterol drugs like Lipitor is hidden behind a smokescreen.

Or in some cases, not hidden at all.

Zetia and Vytorin: No Medical Benefits

Early in 2008, it came out that Zetia, which works by inhibiting absorption of cholesterol from your intestines, and Vytorin, which is a combination of Zetia and Zocor (a statin drug), do not work.

This was discovered AFTER the drugs acquired close to 20 percent of the U.S. market for cholesterol-lowering drugs. And also after close to 1 million prescriptions for the drugs were being written each week in the United States, bringing in close to $4 billion in 2007.[xx]

It was only after the results of a trial by the drugs” makers, Merck and Schering-Plough, were released that this was found out. Never mind that the trial was completed in April 2006, and results were not released until January 2008.

And it”s no wonder the drug companies wanted to hide these results.

While Zetia does lower cholesterol by 15 percent to 20 percent, trials did not show that it reduces heart attacks or strokes, or that it reduces plaques in arteries that can lead to heart problems.

The trial by the drugs” makers, which studied whether Zetia could reduce the growth of plaques, found that plaques grew nearly twice as fast in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor (Vytorin) than in those taking Zocor alone.[xxi]

Of course, the answer is not to turn back to typical statin drugs to lower your cholesterol, as many of the so-called experts would have you believe.

You see, statins are thought to have a beneficial effect on inflammation in your body, thereby lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.

But you can lower inflammation in your body naturally, without risking any of the numerous side effects of statin drugs. This should also explain why my guidelines for lowering cholesterol are identical to those to lower inflammation.

For more in-depth information about cholesterol-lowering drugs, please see my recently updated statin drug index page.

How to Lower Inflammation, and Thereby Your Risk of Heart Disease, Naturally

There is a major misconception that you must avoid foods like eggs and saturated fat to protect your heart. While it”s true that fats from animal sources contain cholesterol, I”ve explained earlier in this article why this should not scare you — but I”ll explain even further here.

This misguided principle is based on the “lipid hypothesis” — developed in the 1950s by nutrition pioneer Ancel Keys — that linked dietary fat to coronary heart disease.

The nutrition community of that time completely accepted the hypothesis, and encouraged the public to cut out butter, red meat, animal fats, eggs, dairy and other “artery clogging” fats from their diets — a radical change at that time.

What you may not know is that when Keys published his analysis that claimed to prove the link between dietary fats and coronary heart disease, he selectively analyzed information from only six countries to prove his correlation, rather than comparing all the data available at the time — from 22 countries.

As a result of this “cherry-picked” data, government health organizations began bombarding the public with advice that has contributed to the diabetes and obesity epidemics going on today: eat a low-fat diet.

Not surprisingly, numerous studies have actually shown that Keys” theory was wrong and saturated fats are healthy, including these studies from Fallon and Enig”s classic article The Skinny on Fats:[xxii]

  • A survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with “bad” dietary habits, such as use of red meat, animal fats, fried foods, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage and cheese.[xxiii]
  • A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.[xxiv]

Of course, as Americans cut out nutritious animal fats from their diets, they were left hungry. So they began eating more processed grains, more vegetable oils, and more high-fructose corn syrup, all of which are nutritional disasters.

It is this latter type of diet that will eventually lead to increased inflammation, and therefore cholesterol, in your body. So don”t let anyone scare you away from saturated fat anymore.

Chronic inflammation is actually caused by a laundry list of items such as:

  • Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
  • Eating lots of sugar and grains
  • Eating foods cooked at high temperatures
  • Eating trans fats
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Emotional stress

So to sum it all up, in order to lower your inflammation and cholesterol levels naturally, you must address the items on this list.

How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally …

  1. Make sure you”re getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega3-fats. I prefer those from krill oil. New research suggests that as little as 500 mg may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
  2. Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your daily diet. It is especially important to eliminate dangerous sugars such as fructose. If your HDL/Cholesterol ratio is abnormal and needs to be improved it would also serve you well to virtually eliminate fruits from your diet, as that it also a source of fructose. Once your cholesterol improves you can gradually reintroduce it to levels that don”t raise your cholesterol.
  3. Eat the right foods for your nutritional type. You can learn your nutritional type by taking our FREE test.
  4. Eat a good portion of your food raw.
  5. Eat healthy, preferably raw, fats that correspond to your nutritional type. This includes:
    • Olive oil
    • Coconut and coconut oil
    • Organic raw dairy products (including butter, cream, sour cream, cheese, etc.)
    • Avocados
    • Raw nuts
    • Seeds
    • Eggs (lightly cooked with yolks intact or raw)
    • Organic, grass-fed meats
  6. Get the right amount of exercise, especially Peak Fitness type of exercise. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of fighting an illness before it has the opportunity to spread.
  7. Avoid smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  8. Address your emotional challenges. I particularly love the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for stress management.

So there you have it; the reasons why high cholesterol is a worry that many of you simply do not need to have, along with a simple plan to optimize yours.

If someone you love is currently taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, I urge you to share this information with them as well, and take advantage of the thousands of free pages of information on www.Mercola.com.

For the majority of you reading this right now, there”s no reason to risk your health with cholesterol-lowering drugs. With the plan I”ve just outlined, you”ll achieve the cholesterol levels you were meant to have, along with the very welcome “side effects” of increased energy, mood and mental clarity.

Too good to be true?

Hardly.

For the vast majority of people, making a few lifestyle changes causes healthy cholesterol levels to naturally occur.

As always, your health really is in your hands. Now it”s up to you to take control — and shape it into something great.


References

[i] American Heart Association January 23, 2008

[ii] Mercola.com, Cholesterol is NOT the Cause of Heart Disease, Ron Rosedale May 28, 2005

[iii] Fallon, S. and Mary Enig. “Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven”t Been Told About Popular Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines,” The Weston A. Price Foundation

[iv] Psychosomatic Medicine 2000;62.

[v] Epidemiology 2001 Mar;12:168-72

[vi] Annals of Internal Medicine (1998;128(6):478-487) The Journal of the American Medical Association (1997;278:313-321)

[vii] Journal of the American College of Cardiology July 31, 2007; 50:409-418

[viii] Annals of Internal Medicine October 3, 2006; 145(7): 520-530

[ix] USAToday.com October 16, 2004

[x] American Heart Association, “What Your Cholesterol Level Means,” accessed May 22, 2008

[xi] MSNBC.com More than half of Americans on chronic meds May 14, 2008(accessed June 9, 2008)

[xii] BusinessWeek Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good? January 17, 2008 (accessed June 9, 2008)

[xiii] The Journal of Clinical Investigation December 2007; 117(12):3940-51

[xiv] Mercola.com Sudden Memory Loss Linked to Cholesterol Drugs

[xv] Nature Medicine September, 2000;6:965-966, 1004-1010.

[xvi] Nature Medicine, December, 2000; 6: 1311-1312, 1399-1402

[xvii] Edwards, I. Ralph; Star, Kristina; Kiuru, Anne, “Statins, Neuromuscular Degenerative Disease and an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Like Syndrome,” Drug Safety, Volume 30, Number 6, 2007 , pp. 515-525(11)

[xviii] IMS Heallth. IMS National Prescription Audit Plus July 2007.

[xix] BusinessWeek.com, “Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?” January 17, 2008 (accessed June 10, 2008)

[xx] New York Times, “Cardiologists Question Delay of Data on 2 Drugs,” November 21, 2007 (accessed June 10, 2008)

[xxi] New York Times, “Drug Has No Benefit in Trial, Makers Say,” January 14, 2008 (accessed June 10, 2008)

[xxii] Enig, M and Sally Fallon, “The Skinny on Fats,” The Weston A. Price Foundation,

[xxiii] Lackland, D T, et al, J Nutr, Nov 1990, 120:11S:1433-1436

[xxiv] Nutr Week, Mar 22, 1991, 21:12:2-3

Why Healthy Fats are Important

ORAL TESTIMONY TO THE USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES COMMITTEE

By Sally Fallon Morell, President The Weston A. Price Foundation July 8, 2010

The proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines perpetuate the mistakes of previous guidelines in demonizing saturated fats and animal foods rich in saturated fatty acids such as egg yolks, butter, whole milk, cheese, fatty meats like bacon and animal fats for cooking. The current obesity epidemic emerged as vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates replaced these healthy, nutrient-dense traditional fats. Animal fats supply many essential nutrients that are difficult to obtain from other sources. Furthermore, basic biochemistry shows that the human body has a very high requirement for saturated fats and cholesterol in all cell membranes; if we do not eat saturated fats, the body will simply make them from carbohydrates, but excess carbohydrate increases blood levels of triglyceride and small, dense LDL and compromises blood vessel function. High-carbohydrate diets, moreover, fail to satisfy the appetite as well as diets rich in traditional fats, leading to higher caloric intakes and often to bingeing and splurging on empty foods, resulting in rapid weight gain.

The proposed guidelines will perpetuate existing nutrient deficiencies present in all American population groups, including deficiencies in vitamins A, and D, found in animal fats, vitamins B12 and B6 found in meat and seafood, as well as minerals like iron and zinc. Low intakes of vitamin K2, moreover, are associated with increases in the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer, and the main sources of vitamin K2 available to Americans are egg yolks and full-fat cheeses.

By restricting healthy animal fats in school lunches and diets for pregnant women and growing children, the Guidelines will perpetuate the tragic epidemic of learning and behavior disorders. The nutrients found in most abundantly and in some cases exclusively in animal fats—including choline, cholesterol and arachidonic acid—are critical for the development of the brain and the function of receptors that modulate thinking and behavior. Studies show that choline from egg yolks and liver help the brain make critical connections and protect against neurotoxins; animals studies suggest that if choline is abundant during developmental years, the individual is protected for life from developmental decline. The National Academy of Sciences recommends 375 mg per day for children nine through thirteen years of age, 450 mg for pregnant women and 550 mg for lactating women and men aged fourteen and older. These amounts are provided by four or five egg yolks per day—but that would entail consuming 800-1000 mg cholesterol, a crime by USDA standards. The committee referred to this as the “choline problem.” Pregnant women and growing children especially need to eat as many egg yolks as possible—yet the Guidelines demonize this nutrient-dense food.

Choline is also essential to liver health. As the prevalence of obesity has grown to reach epidemic proportions, “fatty liver disease” has emerged as one of its casualties. It is estimated 40 percent of obese Americans have fatty liver. One of the most common ways to induce this disease in animals is to feed them diets deficient in choline and methionine, an amino acid found abundantly in meat. Restricting animal foods in our children’s meals will thus aggravate the consequences of the obesity epidemic.

The Guidelines lump trans fats together with saturated fats—calling them Solid Fats—thereby hiding the difference between unhealthy industrial trans fats and healthy traditional saturated fats. Trans fats contribute to inflammation, depress the immune system, interfere with hormone production, and set up pathological conditions leading to cancer and heart disease, whereas saturated fats fight inflammation, support the immune system, support hormone production and protect against cancer and heart disease.

The vitamins and fatty acids carried uniquely in saturated animal fats are critical to reproduction. The 2010 Guidelines will increase infertility in this country, already at tragically high rates.The 2010 proposed Guidelines represent a national scandal, the triumph of industry clout over good science and common sense. It must be emphasized that the Guidelines are not based on science but are designed to promote the products of commodity agriculture and—through the back door—encourage the consumption of processed foods. For while the USDA food police pay lip service to reducing our intake of refined sweeteners, trans fats, white flour and salt, this puritanical lowfat prescription ultimately leads to cravings and indulgence in chips, sweets, sodas, breads, desserts and other empty food-and-beverage- like products just loaded with refined sweeteners, trans fats, white flour and salt.

While the ship of state is sinking under a health crisis of enormous proportions, the USDA proposed Guidelines simply rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Without more sensible recommendations, the trend to obesity, learning disorders, chronic disease and infertility will accelerate.

The Weston A. Price Foundation proposes starting over and adopting our Healthy 4 Life Dietary Guidelines, based on four food groups, always with an emphasis on quality through pasture-based feeding and organic, pesticide-free production methods:

Every day, eat high quality, whole foods to provide an abundance of nutrients, chosen from each of the following four groups:

  • Animal foods: meat and organ meats, poultry, and eggs from pastured animals; fish and shellfish; whole raw cheese, milk and other dairy products from pastured animals; and broth made from animal bones.
  • Grains, legumes and nuts: whole-grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, whole grain rice; beans and lentils; peanuts, cashews and nuts, properly prepared to improve digestibility.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: preferably fresh or frozen, preferably locally grown, either raw, cooked or in soups and stews, and also as lacto-fermented condiments.
  • Fats and Oils: unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats including butter, lard, tallow and other animal fats; palm oil and coconut oil; olive oil; cod liver oil for vitamins A and D.
  • Avoid: foods containing refined sweeteners such as candies, sodas, cookies, cakes etc.; white flour products such as pasta and white bread; processed foods; modern soy foods; polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods.

    Sally Fallon Morell,

    President The Weston A. Price Foundation

    www.westonaprice.org

    (202) 363-4394

    info@westonaprice.org

    Eat Healthy, Be Healthy

    Recommendations to Improve Your Health by Eating More Naturally

    By Katherine Erlich, M.D.

    Why do we get sick?  Why does one child catch colds all the time, while another may go an entire season without even a runny nose?  Why does children develop chronic illnesses, like diabetes, asthma, autism, a peanut allergy, MS or cancer?  The underlying cause of chronic illness is often multifactorial, partly due to genetics, partly due to deficiencies or imbalances, partly due to toxic overload, and partly due to reasons we do not understand.

    How do we maximize our health, minimize our risk of chronic illness, and become the healthiest that we can be?

    A simple way to start is to focus on increasing those things that will be good for our bodies while simultaneously removing those things that are toxic.

    Eating healthier is a great way to start.

    Eating healthy means eating “whole foods.”

    Whole foods are as close to nature as possible. The less processed the foods, the better they are for us.  FRESH fruits and vegetables are the healthiest foods. Other examples of whole foods are nuts, seeds, eggs, meats, fish and whole grains.  Look for a variety of colors in your foods.  Most healthy foods are not white: whole wheat bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are much healthier than white bread, polished white rice, and white potatoes without their skin.

    Organic foods are truly healthier than non-organic foods.

    Organic produce are grown on farms that use natural methods to reduce insect damage, rather than spraying chemical pesticides.  Furthermore, organic farms rotate their crops to increase the nutrient value in the soil, rather than add synthetic fertilizers.  One study done by Rutgers University compared the trace minerals in their organically grown fruits and vegetables as compared to conventionally grown produce bought at a grocery store.  Rutgers found that their organic produce had dramatically higher levels of trace minerals.  Organic meats are often, but not always, grass fed.  Meat from grass fed animals have higher nutrients and a higher omega-3 fatty acid content.  Furthermore cows raised on organic farms are healthier and are not exposed to antibiotics, growth hormone or other hormones typically used on conventional farms to accelerate their growth.  Such hormones, found in many conventional milks and meat, can increase rates of cancer and can have effects on growing children such as earlier puberty. Many European nations and Canada have banned the used of growth hormone (rBGH).

    Eating healthy whole foods means significantly decreasing all fast food and fried foods.

    Fast food and fried foods are high in trans fats and poor quality omega 6 fatty acids.  Trans fats are known to cause inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease and other inflammatory illnesses. The meats found at fast food restaraunts are often made from unhealthy animals and the foods are highly processed. Think of fast food as a back up plan only and prepare ahead.  Start by cutting your monthly fast food intake in half, with your ultimate goal being to truly only use fast food as a last resort.  Shocking to some, school lunches are usually quite unhealthy, much closer to fast food than being a nutritious boost for children’s brains. The guidelines for school lunches were created in the 1940’s, after WWII when much of the country was underfed and malnourished, and these guidelines have NEVER been updated.  Furthermore, much of school food is commodity food, meaning it is provided free from the government, allowing the lower prices.  The companies that provide the school lunches are dependant on profit and consequently offer highly processed “kid friendly” foods to boost profits. Hence, the quantity of low quality saturated fat and calories in a school lunch is far too high, and the quantity of whole foods is minimal. Pack your child’s lunch on most days.  Limit school lunches to once a week if necessary.  Be aware of what your child is purchasing at school.  Often, they have a snack line full of unhealthy snacks, which can be purchased instead of the main meal. Please note that those Fruit Snacks sold at school are not healthy snacks, but rather one of the worst candies for your teeth.

    What are Whole Grains?

    Whole grains are grains that have not been processed, grains that retain all their 3 layers – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.  Refined flour contains only the endosperm, with the bran and germ having been removed, making enriched flour far less nutritious than whole grain flou.  Examples of whole grains include brown rice, quinoi, barley, rye, whole wheat, oats, amarynth, kamut, and spelt.  My family has found spelt pasta to be the tastiest and have the best texture.  For breads, sprouted bread is the most nutritious.

    Unfortunately, companies can label food as containing “whole grains” while only containing a small portion of actual whole grains.  Again I advise looking at the ingredient list or looking for the label to say “100% whole grain.”

    Read labels to limit the toxins.

    The best foods are made of simple foods.  Usually, foods with less ingredients are better.  It is shocking to see what foods are full of unhealthy additives, even some baby foods! Until we are aware of what our families are eating, we can’t improve it.   Chocolate milk often is made with high fructose corn syrup.  While sugar is not good for us, high fructose corn syrup is worse. Apart from increasing risk of obesity and diabetes, it is man-made, from genetically modified, high pesticide exposed corn, creates a large carbon footprint, and worst of all, high fructose corn syrup contains trace amounts of mercury which is obtained during processing.  Many flavored waters, marketed toward kids and not indicated as diet drinks, contain Nutrasweet or Sucralose (“Raging Waters” by Capri Sun is one example that I happened to become aware of only after tasting my son’s drink at a birthday party.)  Sucralose is chlorinated sugar, bearing more chemical similarity to DDT than to sugar.  Chlorine decreases iodine absorption, increasing risk of thyroid disorders, breast and prostate cancer.  Nutrasweet (Aspartame) breaks down into formaldehyde and DKP (diketopiperazine), a potentially tumor forming agent.  Saccharin is a documented carcinogenic. If you must use a sweetner, Stevia (or Truvia, made from Stevia) is your best choice. Zylitol is a also good sweetener for chewing gum as it decreases dental plaque.  However it is still a sugar alcohol and should be limited.

    Avoid partially hydrogenated oils, as these are trans fats and are known to increase our risk of  heart disease and stroke.  Specifically, these fake oils act like plastic for our cell membranes, damaging their function and increasing inflammation.   While a package might be labeled as “Zero Trans Fats,”  this is misleading as it can still contain up to 0.5mg of trans fat per serving and still be considered “free” of trans fats.  Often companies decrease their serving size to get around this limitation.

    Avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate) as it is neurotoxic.  Surprisingly, MSG is found in both Campbells and Lipton’s soup, and in many other salty “kid friendly” foods as well.  Lunch meats and hot dogs frequently contain sodium nitrate, which is carcinogenic.  It is usually the last ingredient listed, so it is easy to find.  There are nitrite free alternatives if you look for them.

    Water is the healthiest drink.

    All living things need water and plenty of it.  Water helps to hydrate and cleanse our bodies.  Filtered and alkaline water are the healthiest.  Strangely, somehow many parents feel that their children must drink sweet things, like juice.  While juice may have some vitamin C, for the most part, even 100% fruit juice is full of sugars and devoid of most nutrients. Diluted juice is better, but even diluted juice is bad for teeth and fills kids up so they are not hungry for their meals.   The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of 4 oz of juice a day – that is the size of one small juice box.  The AAP does not provide a recommended minimum.  This is because we need water, but we do not need to drink juice.  Further confirming this, WIC finally removed juice from their supplies offered.  If you must have your juice, try drinking an 8 oz glass of water first, and then see if you really want the juice.    Many children, teens and even parents have the misunderstanding that Gatorade is the best drink for athletes.  Granted Gatorade is appropriate for marathon runners and reasonable for people with the stomach flu at risk of dehydration.  But for the average athlete, Gatorade contains lots of high fructose corn syrup – the equivalent of 10 1/2 sugar packets in one 24oz bottle!  Water is a much better sports drink for athletes who respect their bodies.

    Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day.

    “Break” “fast” provides us nourishment after being asleep for 8 hours or more.  When we eat, we wake our bodies up.  Our metabolism speeds up and starts to burn calories.  When we fast, we remain in slow motion, almost hibernating, saving up calories in case the food doesn’t come.  Breakfast also helps improve mood and concentration during the day.  It helps people loose weight and maintain a healthy weight. If you are not hungry so early in the morning or don’t have time, take something with you for the ride to school or work.  Breakfast can be a bowl of soup or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Whatever works for you, as long as it is healthy, not filled with sugar, and ideally something with protein.

    Dairy is a slightly stickier subject.

    Dairy is typically considered to be healthy in that it provides calcium and vitamin D that strengthen our bones and teeth.  Dairy also contains protein and good fat that helps us feel full.  There are however many problems with our current dairy products that make them far less healthy than they used to be.  Milk is homogenized and pasturized, both processes which destroy the enzymes and fatty acids in the milk.  Furthermore, many people are intolerant to milk, either due to lactose intolerance or due to casein intolerance.  For these people, milk consumption is irritating to their GI system and thus damaging to their bodies.

    While calcium is an important nutrient, vitamin D is actually more important for bone strength.  People with higher vitamin D levels, absorb calcium more easily and therefore have a lower calcium requirement.  The three servings of milk per day recommended by your pediatrician really are not needed if your child’s vitamin D level is maximized. Calcium is found in green leafy vegetables and in milk substitutes such as coconut milk products, rice milk, and almond milk.  If you noticed, I did not include soy milk in this list. While some soy products are o.k., like miso and tempeh, caution should be taken with consuming soy milk.   Soy increases estrogen and is genetically modified unless specifically stated to be non-GMO.  Additionally, soy is used as a filler in incredibly many foods and hence this makes soy intolerance the third most common food intolerance.

    Detox your home

    Fill your home with foods that would have been found in your grandparents and great grandparents homes.  Go through your cupboards and remove all the foods that contain toxic ingredients, or at least when these foods are gone, don’t buy them again. Don’t have them in your home.  That way they won’t be in your home and you will avoid all the begging and pleading.  You are your child’s best role model and if you want them to do something, you must do it too.

    Remember that every time you purchase something, you are essentially voting for it, giving money to the companies that make it and asking them to make more of it.  Choose your foods wisely and make your vote count.

    How can I get my child to eat healthier?

    Fun with food

    Parents frequently complain that their children won’t eat vegetables or new foods. “When will my child learn to eat adult food?” This is a huge source of frustration for many parents.

    The truth is that kids will eat healthy foods, but often only if there aren’t any unhealthy options available.  Furthermore, if children are truly hungry, they will be more apt to eat whatever it is that is in front of them.  So, you need to make your child hungry, keep healthy food present and keep unhealthy food away.

    First, avoid non-water drinks and snacking between meals, unless those snacks are fruits or vegetables.  Have a salad or vegetables ready first, before the main meal is finished cooking, when your child is hungry.  Always have a variety of cleaned fresh fruits and vegetables out on the counter so the kids can see them.

    Avoid the battles while at home.  Don’t buy the junk, not even the not-so-junky junk.  Don’t have it in your home.  If you have pretzels, goldfish, granola bars, or juice, they’ll see it, want it and the battle will ensue.  If the only options in your home are whole foods, then you will win every time … well, almost every time.

    There are those stubborn kids that may take weeks before they give in to eating new foods.  Usually, these children are very good at holding out and, as their parents usually “break,” this technique works well for them.

    Be persistent and be a good role model.  Your child will not starve with food in front of them.   Avoid encouraging them to eat the vegetables or new foods and do not bribe them.  Being matter-of-fact is far better.  You can say, “This is what we have to eat; there is no other option.”  The more verbal or emotional you get when they do not eat what you want them to, the more power you give them.  You keep more control if you show less emotion.

    Watch this video with your child – so fun!!