A Woman’s Brain Looks 3 Years Younger Than a Man’s of the Same Age

Recent research1,2 from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reveals women’s brains appear to be about three years younger, metabolically speaking, than men’s brains of the same chronological age. The finding offers a clue as to why women tend to maintain their mental acuity longer than men. The original study3 can be viewed for free online, but is summarized by Science Daily:3

“Time wears differently on women’s and men’s brains. While the brain tends to shrink with age, men’s diminish faster than women’s. The brain’s metabolism slows as people grow older, and this, too, may differ between men and women …

The brain runs on sugar, but how the brain uses sugar changes as people grow and age. Babies and children use some of their brain fuel in a process called aerobic glycolysis that sustains brain development and maturation.

The rest of the sugar is burned to power the day-to-day tasks of thinking and doing. In adolescents and young adults, a considerable portion of brain sugar also is devoted to aerobic glycolysis, but the fraction drops steadily with age, leveling off at very low amounts by the time people are in their 60s.”

Gender Differences in Human Brain Metabolism

While gender differences have been found, it’s still unclear exactly how brain metabolism differs between men and women, and why. The team, led by Dr. Manu Goyal, assistant professor of radiology at the university’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, sought to determine how the brain uses sugar by studying 205 individuals (121 women and 84 men) ranging in age from 20 to 82.

Using PET scans, they measured oxygen flow, blood flow and glucose levels in the brain, and determined how much glucose was being used up in aerobic glycolysis in the various brain regions of each person. An algorithm was then used to identify the relationship between chronological age and brain metabolism.

Based on this algorithm, the women’s brains were found to be, on average, 3.8 years younger, metabolically, than their actual chronological age, and this was true even for women in their 20s.

On the other hand, men’s brains were found to be, on average, 2.4 years older than their chronological age. What these findings suggest is that women’s brains somehow convert more glucose to energy than men do during adulthood. Goyal told Science Daily:

“The average difference in calculated brain age between men and women is significant and reproducible, but it is only a fraction of the difference between any two individuals.

It is stronger than many sex differences that have been reported, but it’s nowhere near as big a difference as some sex differences, such as height. It’s not that men’s brains age faster — they start adulthood about three years older than women, and that persists throughout life.

What we don’t know is what it means. I think this could mean that the reason women don’t experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger, and we’re currently working on a study to confirm that.”

High-Fat Diet Helps Keep Your Brain Youthful

While these findings are interesting, it is perplexing to speculate as to what the reason is. The primary metabolic difference between premenopausal women and men would be their iron levels. Because menstruating women lose blood every month, they keep their iron levels relatively low, unlike men.

Excess iron will lead to oxidative stress that could easily contribute to some of these differences. Even though they surveyed women well beyond their last menstrual cycle, their lowered iron levels in their younger years could easily have contributed to some of the observed differences.

However, there’s no reason for men to fret as you can easily optimize your iron level, as I have discussed previously. Additionally, research clearly shows diet and other lifestyle strategies, including stress management,5 can have a significant impact on your brain’s rate of aging. It’s well worth noting that while your brain is known to use glucose for fuel, it’s not the sole fuel for your brain.

Ketones — water-soluble fats produced by your liver during the conversion of fats into energy — are actually a preferred fuel for your brain, which is in part why a ketogenic diet is so beneficial for your brain function. In fact, a ketogenic diet has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease by keeping your brain healthy and youthful.

In one study,6 the researchers concluded the ketogenic diet acted as a veritable “fountain of youth,” significantly improving neurovascular and metabolic functions in lab rodents, compared to those eating an unrestricted diet, and neurovascular function and integrity plays a significant role in determining your cognitive capacity.

High-fat diets have also been shown to lower your risk of dementia by 44 percent, whereas high-carb diets increase your risk by 89 percent.7 Indeed, glucose directly contributes to atrophy of the hippocampus,8 which means that even if you’re not insulin resistant or diabetic, excess sugar in your diet may still be negatively affecting your memory.

Ketones Are Particularly Beneficial for Those With Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other Neurological Diseases

Ketones appear to be the preferred source of energy for the brain particularly in people affected by diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, because in these diseases, certain neurons have become insulin resistant or have lost the ability to efficiently utilize glucose. As a result, neurons slowly die off.

The introduction of ketones may rescue these neurons and they may still be able to survive and thrive. In multiple studies, ketones have been shown to be both neurotherapeutic and neuroprotective. They also appear to lower markers of systemic inflammation.

The most common circulating ketone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, is also an important epigenetic player, having significant effects on DNA expression, increasing detoxification pathways and your body’s own antioxidant production. Beta-hydroxybutyrate also stimulates specific receptors on cells called g-proteins.

When these receptors are tagged by this beta-hydroxybutyrate during mild ketosis, it helps reduce the activation of pathways that lead to inflammation, and inflammation is a driver in most all chronic diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Diet Plus Exercise Can Turn Back the Clock on Your Brain’s Age

Exercise has also been shown to play an important role in the aging of your brain, and together, diet and exercise is a winning combination. Recent research9 demonstrating this was published in the journal Neurology in December 2018.

According to James Blumenthal, clinical psychologist from Duke University who led the research, this was the first study to look at the separate and combined effects of diet and exercise on cognitive decline in those who are vulnerable to developing dementia later in life.

In all, 160 adults (average age 65) were recruited. All had a history of high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risks, never exercised, and had cognitive challenges in executive functioning. None had a diagnosis of dementia. 

At the beginning of the study, the average cognitive skills in the participants were similar to those of individuals 93 years old — 28 years older on average than the actual age of the participants. The volunteers were divided into four groups:

  1. The first participated in a structured aerobic exercise program for the first three months and were given exercises to do at home in the last three months
  2. The second group were asked to eat a low sodium DASH diet (which reduces processed foods and increases intake of whole foods) but did no exercise
  3. The third group were asked to exercise and change their diet at the same time
  4. The fourth group served as a control and received a 30-minute educational session over the phone on how to improve their brain health, but were asked not to change their exercise or dietary habits

Here’s what they found at the end of the six-month-long study:

  • The first group, who exercised but did not change their diet, had greater improvements in executive functioning than the group who did not exercise
  • Those who followed the DASH diet with no exercise experienced no significant improvement in thinking skills
  • The group who changed their diet and exercised reversed their brain age by nine years, bringing their average mental age to 84
  • The control group’s executive function declined

Muscle Strength Indicative of Brain Health

Importantly, research shows muscle strength, especially your leg muscles, impacts neurosignaling, thereby playing a role in brain deterioration.10 This connection is why neurological functioning in patients tends to decline when their physical mobility is limited. 

In her book “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals,” Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., former director of NASA’s life science division, describes how weight-bearing against gravity is crucial component allowing human body and brain to function optimally. Another key factor is how exercise affects brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), found in both your brain and muscles.

Exercise stimulates production of a protein called FNDC5, which in turn triggers BDNF. In your brain, BDNF preserves existing brain cells, activating them to convert into new neurons and promoting actual brain growth.

You can find a list of studies demonstrating the links between your muscles and brain in my previous article, “For Optimal Brain and Nervous System Health, You Need to Exercise Your Leg Muscles.”

Grip strength is another strong indicator of the health of your brain.11 An analysis12 of data collected from over 475,000 British participants revealed the stronger an individual’s hand grip, the better they performed across every brain function test the researchers used, including reaction speed, logical problem-solving and multiple tests analyzing memory.

The analysis also accounted for age, gender, body weight and education, confirming those who were stronger indeed had better functioning brains. What’s more, the data was consistently strong both in individuals younger than 55 and those over 55.

Nutrients for Better Brain Health

In addition to a ketogenic diet, certain nutrients are also vital for brain health, while others can be helpful. Among the most important are vitamin D and marine-based omega-3, which contains two long-chained fatty acids that are vital for brain health: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Other nutrients known to influence your brain health and cognition include:

Choline — Recent research13 demonstrates the importance of choline for brain health and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter required for the proper function of your brain and nervous system, and helps protect against Alzheimer’s by reducing your homocysteine level and inhibiting microglia activation.

Phosphatidylserine — This is another supplement that can help improve cognitive function14 and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.15 Phosphatidylserine is an amino acid derivative that is highly prevalent in neural tissue and plays an important role in the cellular function in your brain.

In one study,16 supplementing with 400 mg of phosphatidylserine increased the speed of calculations done in short-term memory by 20 percent in a group of healthy adults. In another, it improved cognitive function of geriatric patients at a dosage of 300 mg per day for six months.17

Acetyl-L-carnitine — This supplement has many beneficial effects on brain metabolism, protects against neurotoxic insults, and has been shown to benefit certain forms of depression.18

Vitamin B12 — Research19 shows people with high levels of markers for vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to score lower on cognitive tests and have a smaller total brain volume, which suggests a lack of B12 may contribute to brain shrinkage. Research20 has found that supplementing with B vitamins, including B12, helps to slow brain atrophy in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.

MCT oil — As mentioned, ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are medium chain triglycerides (MCT). While coconut oil is one healthy option, MCT oil is a more concentrated source of ketones, so it tends to be more appropriate for clinical uses. As noted by Mental Health Daily:21

“In small scale human trials,22 MCT supplementation boosted cognition in individuals with cognitive impairment and mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease after just a single dose.”

You can learn more about MCTs and the differences between them in my previous article, “The Many Health Benefits of MCT Oil.”

Ashwagandha — Memory enhancement is one traditional use, particularly of the root. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements23 showed positive results using ashwagandha root extract to improve memory and cognitive functions in 50 people with mild cognitive impairment.

Bacopa — Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), or moneywort, is a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine used in India for over three centuries. The bacopa herb is commonly known as a nootropic herb, which means it can help repair damaged neurons and improve brain function. Nootropics are usually said to have the ability to “unlock” the brain when it comes to creativity and cognitive drive.24

Curcumin — A double-blind, placebo-controlled study25 included 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 with reported mild memory lapses but no dementia. Those who received curcumin supplementation saw significant improvements in memory and concentration, while the control group experienced no improvement.

Cilantro: Why You Should Choose This Unique, Pungent Herb

Most people typically associate cilantro with its soapy aftertaste1 or its “bedbug-infested bedclothes” odor and, for some, this could be more disgusting than appetizing even though others seem to enjoy it. In fact, as “The Curious Cook,” Harold McGee, writes in The New York Times, although food can be a universal language, it can become divided as far as cilantro is concerned. He says:2

“Food partisanship doesn’t usually reach the same heights of animosity as the political variety, except in the case of the anti-cilantro party. The green parts of the plant that gives us coriander seeds seem to inspire a primal revulsion among an outspoken minority of eaters.”

Cilantro comes from a plant called Coriandrum sativum,3 and this herb belongs to the Apiaceae family. Also called Chinese or Mexican parsley in some areas,4 cilantro is said to be native to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor regions.5

Originally, the herb was grown in present day Greece and was utilized by ancient Egyptians and Romans, making cilantro one of the oldest known herbs in history.6 What most people do not know about cilantro, however, is that it is both an herb and a spice,7 because the plant also bears aromatic seeds — more popularly known as coriander seeds — that have their own health benefits, too.8

Read further to see how you can make the most out of cilantro. Discover what cilantro can do for you, and who knows — you might finally appreciate it, if you don’t already.

The Countless Health Benefits of Cilantro

It’s no surprise that adding cilantro to dishes not only enhances the flavor, but also provides health benefits. The nutritional content of this low-calorie,9 no-cholesterol herb is very impressive, since it is abundant in:10,11

  • Antioxidant polyphenolic flavonoids such as quercetin,12 kaempferol, rhamnetin and epigenin
  • Minerals like potassium,13 calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium14
  • Vitamins A,15 C and K, as well as B vitamins

Cilantro is also proven to have antiseptic, antifungal, antioxidant16 and antibacterial properties17 that can contribute to numerous health benefits, such as:18,19,20,21

  • Helping reduce swelling caused by arthritis and rheumatic diseases because of its phenolic acids and polyphenols22
  • Lowering levels of bad cholesterol in your body
  • Reducing unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels
  • Helping with bone regrowth23
  • Stimulating digestion
  • Regulating blood sugar levels
  • Assisting in preventing stomach disorders like nausea and vomiting,24 and in alleviating gas and indigestion25
  • Acting as a potent chelator to remove heavy metals and toxins from your body26
  • Helping reduce risk for vision disorders like macular degeneration
  • Lowering stress on your eyes and shielding them from free radical damage

The leaves, root and stem of cilantro have also been shown to work against certain conditions, such as:

  • Eczema27
  • Dry or dull skin28
  • Fungal infections29
  • Anemia30
  • Muscle aches and pains31

Using cilantro medicinally may have certain side effects, though, such as allergic skin reactions (hives or itching)32 and photosensitivity.33 Consult your physician before using this as an herbal remedy to ensure that you have no allergies to this herb.

What Is Cilantro Mainly Used For?

Cilantro leaves are primarily used for culinary and medicinal purposes,34 although you can utilize cilantro essential oil for aromatic reasons as well (this will be discussed further).35 Arguably, many people are familiar with cilantro as an ingredient in many recipes. It may feature prominently in some dishes across various cuisines:36

  • Middle Eastern
  • Mediterranean
  • Indian
  • South Asian
  • Mexican
  • Latin American
  • Chinese
  • African
  • Southeast Asian

Cilantro pairs well with many dishes, especially those containing beans, eggs, cheese and fish. Plus, you can add cilantro into vegetable dips or use it as a garnish for soups and salads.37

Research Has Proven Cilantro’s Potential Water-Purifying Abilities

A study conducted by a group of American and Mexican researchers also revealed that cilantro can help purify water. The discovery was made by a team led by Douglas J. Schauer, Ph.D., then of IvyTech Community College in Lafayette, Indiana, along with researchers from the Universidad Politecnica de Francisco I. Madero in Hidalgo, Mexico, while studying in the Tule Valley region.

Wastewater from Mexico City is dumped in this region. However, this waste water, contaminated with heavy metals like nickel and lead, is actually being used to irrigate crops.

According to Schauer, while other filtering agents such as activated charcoal can be used to remove the chemicals from the water, they are too expensive. The researchers then tested samples of different plants ranging from cacti to flowers, and learned that cilantro is a very powerful “bioabsorbant” material in this region. An item is considered bioabsorbant when it’s made from dried organic material from a plant, and can essentially replace the charcoals typically utilized in filters.

As Schauer points out in a Time interview, ground-up cilantro can be placed inside a tube where the water can pass through. The herb allows water to trickle out, while filtering out dangerous heavy metals. Another method involves placing dried cilantro in tea bags and into a water pitcher for a few minutes, allowing the herb to draw out toxins.38

Growing Cilantro at Home

Cilantro is a cool-season herb that reaches its full potential when sown either in spring or fall. Temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees F are the most ideal for this plant.39 Cilantro can also be grown in warm temperatures, but make sure to plant slow-bolt cilantro varieties like Santo and Marino40 since the plant may grow quickly once the temperature rises.41

Healthy soil is important when growing your cilantro. It thrives well in rich soils with pH levels of 6.2 to 6.8. Feel free to add organic matter to the soil too, since this is a fast-growing plant.42

Country Living Magazine notes that it’s best to grow cilantro plants using seeds. Sow the seeds one-fourth inch deep into the ground and leave a half-inch of space between plants. You may also try growing these plants indoors or in a pot, provided that they receive adequate sunlight and water.43

It takes 45 to 70 days after seeding for your cilantro plants to be ready for harvesting. Leaves that are 4 to 6 inches long can be snipped off and harveted.44 If you want a steady supply of cilantro, try planting small patches of the herb every two to four weeks throughout the growing season.45

Easy Cilantro Recipes You Should Try

If you haven’t used cilantro in any of your dishes yet, what are you waiting for? Purchase fresh cilantro leaves, ideally from an organic farmer. Organically grown cilantro may have better flavor and contain many vitamins and antioxidants, without the added risk of pesticides and chemicals.

Look for fresh cilantro with vibrant green leaves, without indicators of spoilage or yellow discoloration. Keep fresh stems in a glass of water, cover the opening loosely with a plastic bag and then refrigerate them. Fresh cilantro can last for a week in the refrigerator, and maybe even longer if you follow these storage tips:46

  • Recover the glass of water after cutting off cilantro leaves.
  • Change the water in the glass every two to three days.
  • Avoid washing the herb until before using it because increased moisture may cause the leaves to turn into a slimy green color.

To prepare cilantro for cooking, make sure it has been thoroughly dried, and have a sharp ceramic knife ready. The book, “Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen,” suggests the following steps for chopping cilantro:47

  1. Bunch the leafy ends of the herb together.
  2. Fold under the top portion of leaves.
  3. Slice across the cilantro very thinly, including the stems. Continue doing so all the way down the herbs until there are no more leaves left and you only have stems.
  4. Using your fingertips, “fluff” the thinly sliced cilantro multiple times so the stems fall to the bottom of the pile.
  5. Separate the fluffed and sliced leaves and transfer them onto a small dish.

Avoid using a dull knife or over-chopping cilantro, as these can “bruise” the herb and cause its unique flavor to spill onto the chopping board. Ideally, try adding cilantro raw or near the end of the cooking process. This herb is very tender and has gentle leaves, so adding it last will retain cilantro’s delicate flavor and texture.48

Cilantro can hold its own ground in terms of flavor and does not need additional flavoring. Because of this, raw and fresh cilantro leaves make recipes like Sunflower Power Salad, Cabbage Crunch or Land and Sea Salad taste great.

Cilantro Essential Oil Could Be Helpful, Too

Aside from consuming fresh cilantro, you can use cilantro essential oil to your advantage if you want to gain some of the benefits the herb has to offer. There are numerous ways you can use cilantro essential oil at home:49

  • Diffusion or inhalation via a vaporizer
  • Topical application
  • Food ingredient50

Before using or consuming cilantro essential oil, make sure to dilute it in a safe carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Consult a physician and take an allergen patch test to see if your skin responds well to the oil. If you’re pregnant, nursing or have kidney issues, avoid using this essential oil since it may exacerbate certain conditions.51

Do You Get Sleepy After Eating?

Postprandial sleepiness, or feeling sleepy after you eat — otherwise known as a food coma — is a common human experience. To some extent, feeling sleepy after eating, especially in the afternoon, is normal, but it’s not a given. You can often curtail that drowsy feeling by making tweaks to your diet.

Carbohydrates are one of the greatest offenders to your energy level (and blood sugar level) after a meal. Low-net-carb foods (carbs minus fiber) like dense fruits and vegetables don’t significantly impact blood sugar, but sugars and grains, including most processed foods, are broken down into individual sugar units and absorbed into your bloodstream.

After rapidly digesting carbohydrates, your blood sugar initially spikes, followed by a sharp crash later. This crash can make you sleepy — and it’s just one of the factors that can put you into a food coma after your meals.

Eating May Increase Production of Calming Neurotransmitters

The insulin spike that occurs after you eat a high-net-carb meal causes the amino acid tryptophan to enter your brain.1 Tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin,2 which helps with controlling mood and sleep.

Ninety-five percent of your serotonin is produced in your gut, however, where it sets the pace for digestive transit and acts as an immune system regulator. Gut serotonin not only acts on the digestive tract but is also released into your bloodstream, and acts on your brain, particularly your hypothalamus, which is involved in the regulation of emotions.

Theoretically, eating tryptophan-rich foods like eggs or free range organic poultry in combination with carbs may make you sleepy, but it’s likely this has more to do with the insulin spike than the tryptophan and subsequent serotonin production.

This is because it can be quite difficult to get large amounts of tryptophan via your diet, especially if you eat primarily processed foods, a diet linked to depression. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, emeritus professor of pediatrics in the division of endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco:

“Tryptophan is the only amino acid that can be converted into serotonin. Tryptophan is the rarest amino acid in our diet. Eggs have the most. Certain poultry and other avian species have some [tryptophan]. There’s very little in vegetables. Obviously, carbohydrates have virtually no tryptophan whatsoever.

It’s actually pretty hard to get tryptophan into your body to start with. Take processed food on top of that, then it’s even harder because it tends to be tryptophan-depleted.

[Moreover], 99.9 percent of the tryptophan you ingest either gets turned into serotonin in the gut for your gut’s purposes, or it goes into your platelets to help your platelets help you clot. [So] very little tryptophan actually gets to the brain.

Top that off with the fact that tryptophan has to share an amino acid transporter with two relatively common amino acids: phenylalanine and tyrosine, which, by the way, are the precursors for dopamine. You can see that the more processed food you eat, the more dopamine you will make because you will have the precursors for that.

They will actually crowd out the ability to get tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier … Yet, serotonin is the nidus of contentment, of happiness. It explains why diet is so problematic … “

An Ancient Tie Between Sleep and Metabolism

Another speculation is that there may be an ancient tie linking sleep with satiety, which may act as a kind of switch letting a mammal know that it’s now OK to sleep, according to researchers with the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Virginia Comonwealth University.

Writing in the journal Worm (satiety behavior in worms has surprising similarities to that in mammals, with worms also becoming sluggish after a big meal), they suggested eating a meal may induce sleep because sleep is necessary or beneficial for metabolic processes that occur after a feeding.3

It could also be that eating a meal signals safety to animals, allowing a signal that it’s time to sleep. “Secured food and full feeding might have been associated with sleep because that can be the best indication of a good environment to sleep safely,” the researchers suggested.4

Another possibility is that animals must stay alert when they’re hungry in order to find food, but once a meal is found, they can take time to sleep, with the researchers writing:5

“The third possibility is that sleep is a default behavioral state when an animal is released from alert. Hungry animals explore to seek food with constant vigil. Nutritional satisfaction could relieve animals from this alert state and have them stop seeking food. This relief might induce sleep.”

They considered this latter theory the most plausible, especially since there is an overlap between what they called vigilance signals and hunger signals. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine, for instance, plays a role in both wakefulness and signaling hunger, while orexin, a neuropeptide hormone involved in helping people stay awake, levels are increased during fasting. The researchers continued:6

“These facts suggest that while animals are seeking food, the low nutrition level keeps the animal awake by increasing the level of certain ‘alert’ or ‘wakefulness’ neurotransmitters: You have to find food to survive. If you are getting hungrier, you become more desperate to be awake.

Once the nutritional needs are fulfilled, the alert signals go away and the opposite behavior that has been suppressed, i.e., sleep, follows.”

Larger, Protein-Rich Meals May Make You Sleepier

If you’ve ever felt like you could barely keep your eyes open after a big meal, it’s probably not in your imagination. Some research suggests that larger meals may make you even sleepier than smaller meals. One study on fruit flies, in particular, found that fruit flies generally slept more after eating larger meals, as well as following meals rich in protein and salt.7

When you overeat, or eat large portions, your body must expend energy to digest the large quantity of food, which may leave you feeling sluggish. It’s long been believed that digestive demands increase blood flow to your digestive tract, which means it’s shuttled away from your brain, potentially zapping your energy.

However, some research has called into question the validity of this theory, suggesting that blood flow to the brain is maintained even during digestion. Instead, researchers suggested that feeling sleepy after eating may have more to do with the alteration of hormones, including melatonin and orexin, and the modulation of sleep centers in the brain:8

“We propose an alternative hypothesis that postprandial release of gut-brain hormones and activation of vagal afferents may play a role in postprandial somnolence [feeling sleepy after eating] through modulation of sleep centers such as the hypothalamus.

Feeding alters the milieu of hormones such as melatonin and orexins and also promotes central vagal activation. Emerging evidence suggest that these pathways are also modulators of neural sleep centers.”

There are also glucose-sensing neurons in your hypothalamus, which play a role in sleep-wake cycles and energy expenditure. It’s been found that melanin-concentrating hormone neurons, which promote sleep and energy conservation, are excited (turned on) by glucose, such that the increase in blood sugar that occurs after a heavy meal may directly correlate to feelings of fatigue.9

Cyclical Ketogenics: The Ideal Way of Eating for Most People?

Based on the nutritional science now available, there’s no doubt in my mind that a cyclical ketogenic diet is ideal for most people and can help you avoid the blood sugar spikes and crashes that make many people sleepy after eating.

Cyclical ketogenics begin by following a standard ketogenic diet, which focuses on minimal net carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of healthy fats. To implement a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet, begin by eliminating packaged, processed foods.

It’s important to eat real (whole) foods, plenty of healthy fats and, initially, as few net (nonfiber) carbs as possible. Foods to reduce or eliminate in this phase include all grains and any food high in sugar, particularly fructose, but also galactose (found in milk) and other sugars.

As a general rule, you’ll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you’re actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, use an online nutrient tracker such as www.cronometer.com/mercola, which is one of the most accurate nutrient trackers available.

My tracker is actually preset for nutritional ketosis, so based on the base parameters you enter, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats required to put you into nutritional ketosis. This is what will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel rather than sugar, which in turn will help optimize your mitochondrial function, metabolism and overall health and fitness.

Cycle Healthy Carbs Back in a Few Times a Week

Once you reach this state, as evidenced by your ability to generate ketones over 5 mmol/l in your blood, then it is important to reintroduce healthy carbs back into your diet. Sweet potatoes would be a great example. If you fail to do this, the health of your microbiome will likely suffer.

Additionally, many experts now believe that your body develops a resistance to the benefits of ketosis unless you regularly cycle in and out of it. An example is that your insulin level could drop below the level at which it inhibits the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).

Even though you are eating virtually no carbs, your insulin level is so low that your liver is forced into making glucose to supply fuel to your brain. In this setting, the solution is to eat healthy carbohydrates that will raise your insulin levels. This will shut down liver glucose production and paradoxically actually lower your blood sugar.

Remember, once you are able to generate ketones over 0.5 mmol/l in your blood, that is the time to start reintroducing carbs cyclically back into your diet. Typically, a few times a week works just fine. Ideally this is done on strength training days on which you actually increase your protein intake.

My new book, “KetoFast: Rejuvenate Your Health with a Step-by-Step Guide to Timing Your Ketogenic Meals,” is being released April 30, 2019, and it has all the details on how to use the principles of ketogenic eating and cyclical ketosis to gain optimal health. If you struggle with feeling tired after eating, this guide can help.

It’s worth noting, too, that many people feel afternoon fatigue, which is also typically related to post-lunch hypoglycemia. By switching your body from using carbs as its primary fuel to burning fats instead, or becoming “fat adapted” via cyclical ketosis, you will virtually eliminate such drops in energy levels.

Major Plastic Problems in Oceans From Clothes

The food chain is an ordered series of organisms, each dependent on the previous as a source of food. In other words, herbivores eat plants to survive and carnivores eat herbivores and other carnivores. In the water, small fish eat plankton, and are then eaten by slightly larger fish, finally eaten by larger fish and then potentially ending up on your dinner plate.

This process has fed the planet from the beginning of time and isn’t changing anytime soon. However, what’s finally ending up on your plate is far different than it was just 70 years ago. As the Earth’s human population has grown and expanded, so have the innovations brought to market by manufacturers and large agrichemical businesses.

Unfortunately, a large portion of those innovations were developed without considering how they would impact the environment and ultimately human life. Permutations and modifications to manufacturing and agribusiness occurs at speeds far greater than safety testing can accommodate.

One consequence of material product transformation was the development of plastics, believed to be nearly indestructible. However, it wasn’t long after the invention of the first synthetic polymer in the early 1900s that we discovered just how false this belief is.

Expedition to Record Volume of Plastic and Its Impact on the Food Chain

Following multiple research studies, environmental assays and the work of activists across the world who discovered our bodies are slowly becoming contaminated with plastic, a group of scientists set out to determine exactly how large the problem of plastics has become in the world’s oceans.

The research voyage, named the “eXXpedition” in reference to an all-female 14 person crew of scientists, writers and activists, is intent on determining how plastics in the ocean are impacting marine life and the rest of the planet.

The crew mans a 72-foot vessel named the Sea Dragon that launched from Hawaii and traversed part of the Pacific North Pacific gyre known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The samples the crew collect will help scientists understand how plastics may pick up other pollutants and transfer them through the food chain.

Founder of the eXXpedition, ocean activist and sailor, Emily Penn, talks about how overwhelming sailing into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was, now two times the state of Texas:1

“When we sailed into the southern edge of the Gyre, we started to see a piece of plastic over the side of the boat every 10 seconds — a cigarette lighter, a bottle, some sort of container.

Then when you wake up the next morning, and it’s still going, and wake up seven days later, and it’s still going, and you’re 800 miles from the nearest human being — it’s that relentlessness that’s just so overwhelming.”

During the voyage, the crew collects samples of plastic from the air, water and the ocean floor to be analyzed in several labs across the world. Samples collected off the coast of Hawaii were photographed by National Geographic Explorer David Liittschwager.2 He commented on what was collected and photographed, saying, “To me, it’s a little shocking how much is in relatively small samples.”

He spread the content on trays to photograph the contents up close, revealing images so dense it is sometimes difficult to discern what was plastic and what was living. While moved by these images of plastic obscuring nature for the past two decades, Liittschwager describes his mission as simply to document what’s real and present today, saying, “I’d like people to see what’s really there.”

Liittschwager has a history of being curious about nature. Almost 10 years ago he set about to find how many creatures would pass through a 12-inch square area in different environments on land and water, and across different temperature regions.

In total, he and a team of biologists recorded more than 1,000 individual organisms in this small area, speaking to the diversity of each environment.3 This diversity is in danger as he records the early death of albatross chicks after ingesting plastics, plankton and small fish intertwined with microplastics. A team even found plastics labeled from Japan off a remote coast of Canada.

Airborne Plastic Fibers in Marine Environments From Washing Clothes

In one sample from the trip, the team counted more than 500 pieces of microplastic. This extrapolates to half a million pieces in 1 square kilometer (a little over a half-mile) of open sea. However, this is not the total number, as the team did not account for nanoparticles showing up at the lab under a microscope. The Sea Dragon is also packed with samples of ocean air to be analyzed at King’s College London.

The crew found airborne microfibers, which may pose a risk to the human respiratory system, are the result of washing clothes, allowing microfiber to enter the ocean through the sewage system. Sarah Dudas, biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, states, “Out of all the plastic particles we found, most of them are textile based”4 — tiny filaments of fabric from clothing made from nylon and polyester.

Much of this pollution is being driven by “fast fashion,” or cheap clothing, which some estimate is the fifth most polluting industry in the world. Although sales of clothing are at an all-time high, utilization has dramatically diminished. This essentially means that while sales have doubled from 50 billion to 100 billion units, the average number of times a garment is worn has significantly dropped.

Unfortunately, the cost of clothing and manufacturing has resulted in treating clothes as a single-use disposable item, creating a rapidly-growing waste problem. Chief among those issues is the use of microfibers that shed in your washing machine.

In one study5 commissioned by apparel maker Patagonia, data revealed a synthetic jacket may release up to 2.7 grams of microfiber with each washing. On average a garment released 1.7 grams, while older jackets released twice as much.6

Wastewater treatment plants are able to filter out just a portion of this debris and the rest inevitably sneaks through, ending up in waterways and eventually the ocean.

The irregular shapes of microfiber pollution make it harder for marine life to excrete than other types of microplastics, contributing to physical blockage in their intestinal tract and chemical poisoning, as the longer the particles stay inside, the more chemicals accumulate in the body.

This may also have ramifications for humans who eat the fish. Researchers have found nearly 25 percent of fish and 33 percent of shellfish purchased at fish markets in California and Indonesia had microfibers in their gut.7

Microfibers Act to Super Concentrate Contaminants

Once in the waterways, the bits of microfibers attract and hold other environmental pollutants, since the plastic is lipophilic. This means they attract oil-based chemicals, such as flame retardants, bisphenols and phthalates.

According to Rolf Halden, director of the Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, plastics can concentrate these contaminants up to 100,000fold.8

In theory, the plastics may then carry these pollutants to the next creature up the food chain, potentially landing on your dinner plate. You can find plastics in virtually every area of your household, including containers, baby items, electronics and personal care products. As they are discarded, they are literally choking our oceans and polluting our food supply.

Different types of washing machines will release different amounts of microfibers and chemicals from a piece of clothing. Data finds top-loading machines release about 530 percent more than front loading machines.9 Up to 40 percent of microfibers are flushed out of wastewater treatment plants and end up in the surrounding lakes, rivers and eventually the ocean.10

To address this problem, scientists call for appliance companies to consider the addition of filters to catch microfibers. In the meantime, several companies offer products for your washing machine aimed at curbing the release of microfibers from your home.11

In a study led by researchers from the University of Barcelona,12 data quantifies the presence of microfibers on marine floors from the Caribbean Sea to the Black Sea. The results revealed the main types of microfiber were natural cellulose (cotton and linen) and regenerated cellulose (rayon), while polyester was the most common synthetic fiber found.

Anna Sánchez Vidal, lead researcher from a consolidated research group from the University of Barcelona, in collaboration with the University of Plymouth in the U.K., highlights the results of the study, saying:13

“Recent results show ingests of microplastics by different organisms and in different ecosystems, but the specific impact on the organisms is unknown.

It can depend on a wide range of factors, such as features of the microfibers (size, abundance), or chemical substances these absorbed as well as the physiology and ecology (size, feeding, whether they excrete or accumulate, etc.) of marine organisms.”

Clothes Are Polluting the Food Supply

Manufacturing modifications and innovations are approved for market release without analysis of their impact on the environment, including human health. It is realistic and urgent to stop these “advancements” since new variations increase the risk the challenge to health is only getting worse.14

Microfibers start by being dumped into rivers and lakes. Sherri Mason, Ph.D., is a chemistry expert at State University of New York Fredonia. The first time she cut open a fish from the Great Lakes, she reports being alarmed by the number of synthetic fibers that seemed to be “weaving themselves into the gastrointestinal tract.”15

The size of microfibers makes them easy to be consumed by fish and the plastic has the potential to bioaccumulate, concentrating toxins higher up the food chain. Although companies like Patagonia and Polartec use recycled bottles to conserve and reduce waste, breaking plastic bottles into millions of fibrous bits of plastic may prove worse than doing nothing at all.

Mason finds plastic microfibers are found in freshwater and saltwater and they are the most common type of debris in smaller bodies of water. Her concern extends to the ability of the microfibers to absorb persistent organic pollutants and concentrate them an animal tissue.16

One of Halden’s concerns is how these tiny pieces of plastic pollution can potentially cross into human tissue and embed in organs, theoretically delivering a toxic payload over many years.17

Sustainable Fashion Is Within Reach

According to BBC investigative reporter Stacey Dooley, reporting in the BBC documentary “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets,” fashion is second only to oil on the list of top five most polluting industries in the world.

You have the opportunity to help fix this system by selecting organic fabrics, refusing to participate in “fast fashion” and only buying clothes you truly need and will wear for a long time. Although sometimes referred to as “retail therapy,” the effect of buying new clothes to help you feel relaxed and, perhaps, prettier or popular, lasts only a short time, while the pollution generated lasts a lifetime.

The results of the study from the University of Barcelona found cotton microfibers had the highest concentration on the ocean floor. Adding insult to injury is the effect nonorganic cotton has on the environment as it relates to the devastating impact on freshwater supplies.

The use of pesticides, dyes and chemicals and the immense amount of water needed to produce and process cotton further adds to the enormity of the problem. For more information about “fast fashion,” the impact on your health and strategies you may use to make a difference, see “Top 7 Ways to Support Sustainable Fashion.”

Opioid Maker Sought to Addict and Treat Addiction With Their New Pills

Opioid overdose deaths are rising as over 202,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses between 2002 and 2015, and more than 70,000 died in 2017.1 Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50,2 and chronic use accounts for 20 percent of the increase in male unemployment.3 

Narcotic pain relievers place an enormous economic burden on society, costing an estimated $504 billion each year.4 As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden,5 former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “We know of no other medication routinely used for nonfatal conditions that kills patients so frequently.”

Despite these risks, including birth defects and risks of addiction, nearly one-third of women of childbearing age are prescribed opioids,6 and more than 14 percent of pregnant women are prescribed opioids during their pregnancy.7

In April 2016, the CDC published a paper noting opioids have not been proven safe or effective beyond six weeks of treatment.8 “In fact, several studies have shown that use of opioids for chronic pain may actually worsen pain and functioning, possibly by potentiating pain perception,” the paper states.

In the most recent turn of events, a Massachusetts state court judge ruled to release an unredacted version of a complaint filed in January with the attorney general’s office naming Purdue, eight in the Sackler family and nine others currently or previously associated with the company as defendants.9

Purdue Pharma Seeks to Expand an ‘Attractive Market’

The Sackler family are owners of the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma and have a combined fortune estimated at $13 billion. The family received nearly $4 billion in profits over the past decade from Purdue, in large part due to the burgeoning sales of OxyContin, an opioid developed in the early 1990s and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995.10

The opioid class of drugs also includes morphine and Fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs such as heroin. It’s also been recently reported in the Financial Times11 that the Sackler family owns Rhodes Pharma, “one of the biggest producers of generic opioids, which never before has been linked to the family.”

This company was launched only four months after Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of misbranding with “the intent to defraud and mislead the public,” paying $634 million in fines.12 This is 15 percent of what the company paid the Sackler family over the past decade, and from their actions, it’s clear the company has not changed its ways.

According to documents from the claim in Massachusetts, in an effort to continue to profit from addiction, Kathe Sackler and her staff identified millions of opioid addicted people as their next business opportunity. They identified eight ways the company’s experience in getting patients on opioids could now be used to sell treatment for addiction and wrote:13

“It is an attractive market. Large unmet need for vulnerable, underserved and stigmatized patient population suffering from substance abuse, dependence and addiction.”

Project Tango Considers Narcan

The recently released unredacted files reveal Kathe Sackler’s involvement in a secret plan to expand the business from selling opioids to including treatment for opioid addiction. In these internal documents, she and her staff wrote what they had publicly denied for decades: Addictive opioids and opioid addiction are “naturally linked.”

They determined that becoming an end-to-end pain provider could help increase revenue. This meant they would reverse blaming addiction on untrustworthy patients. Called Project Tango, the patient and clinical rationale for expanding drug sales to treatment for overdose, the company wrote:14

“This can happen to anyone — from a 50-year-old woman with chronic lower back pain to an 18-year-old boy with a sports injury, from the very wealthy to the very poor.”

Project Tango was another way to profit from the opioid crisis. They first considered Suboxone and then moved to considering selling the antidote Narcan to reverse overdoses, calculating it could provide a growing source of income, eventually tripling to net Purdue $24 million in sales.15

The complaint claims documents confirm Purdue Pharma saw the opioid epidemic as a money-making opportunity and identified Narcan as a “complementary” and “strategic fit” to their opioid product. Their plan called for studying “long-term script users” to “better understand target end patients” for Narcan.

Eventually the company decided against acquiring the rights to sell Suboxone or Narcan.16 However, while those initiatives appear to have stalled, in January 2018, Richard Sackler was listed as one of six inventors on a patent issued for a reformulation of buprenorphine, shown to help those suffering with opioid addiction.17

Additionally, Purdue Pharma has separately contributed $3.4 million to a company working on the production of a low-cost naloxone nasal spray as a cheaper opioid overdose antidote. In other words, Project Tango appears to be in full swing.

Purdue Pharma Claims Persecution for Opioid Crisis, Sackler Blames Addicts

The documents allege the Sackler family engaged in a decade of deception to push OxyContin on doctors and patients despite knowing it was highly addictive, resulting in overdoses and deaths. Purdue Pharma spokesperson Bob Josephson released a statement making it appear Purdue was being persecuted, claiming the unredacted complaint filed in Massachusetts was:18

“[P]art of a continuing effort to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system.

Massachusetts seeks to publicly vilify Purdue, its executives, employees and directors while unfairly undermining the important work we have taken to address the opioid addiction crisis by taking out of context snippets from tens of millions of documents and grossly distorting their meaning. The complaint is riddled with demonstrably inaccurate allegations.”

However, in 2001, faced with concern from executives at the company about sales tactics to gain a stronger foothold in the market, the complaint alleges19 Richard Sackler’s “solution to the overwhelming evidence of overdose and death: blame and stigmatize people who became addicted to opioids.” A confidential email from Richard Sackler read:20

“We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”

In 2007, when the Sacklers agreed to plead guilty to misbranding, they also entered into a series of agreements. They admitted to a Statement of Facts, which stated that for six years they intentionally deceived doctors about OxyContin, and entered a Corporate Integrity Agreement, which required the Sacklers to ensure Purdue would not deceive doctors and patients and promise to comply with rules prohibiting deception.

Under the agreement they were required to complete hours of training, report any deception and certify in writing that they had read and understood the rules. However, since 2007, the complaint alleges Purdue has continued a deceptive sales campaign and directed the company to hire hundreds more sales reps to visit doctors across the country.

Purdue Targeted Prescribers Most Susceptible to Over Prescribing

According to the complaint, multiple times when Purdue Pharma sought information about physicians, they had reason to believe they were inappropriately prescribing OxyContin. Richard Sackler asked for detailed reports of those suspected of misconduct and how much money Purdue netted from those prescriptions.

In 2012, an employee went to the company’s head of sales with a request to alert health insurers of the data the company had collected about doctors suspected of illegally prescribing or abusing OxyContin.21 This list of physicians was codenamed Region Zero. The employee allegedly wrote:22

“it seems to make sense for a number of reasons for us to share the information on Region 0 doctors with payers. At a basic level, it just seems like the right and ethical thing to do.

Doing so could help those companies identify those physicians that may be of a concern, not just with respect to our products, but also other CII and CIII therapies. As a result, if it reduces abuse and diversion of opioids then it seems like something we should be doing.”

The suggestion was rejected. Region Zero remained secret and the employee behind the suggestion left the company a month later. In 2012, Richard Sackler suggested sales results were “bad” and as a result his director of sales should consider firing all sales reps in the Boston district to send a message to the rest.

Although they didn’t fire all the reps, those who failed to meet their sales objectives were placed on probation. The complaint alleges one sales rep was ordered to visit 10 prescribers twice a week to increase prescriptions by 43 percent; another was ordered to increase prescriptions by 62 percent.

Purdue reportedly issued a plan to another sales rep that said,23 “Anticipated Challenges: Dr. trying to cut down on opioid prescribing due to abuse.” “Action Steps: Sell for patients they are willing to Rx opioids … (elderly).”

Purdue Kept a List of ‘Super Core’ Prescribers

The complaint goes on to allege the Sackler family discussed threats to their finances, as data from long-term opioid use indicated danger to patients. Sales dropped and the staff recommended increasing the number of sales visits to doctors.

The company hired global consulting firm McKinsey & Company to recommend strategies to boost sales and polish the image of the company, in order to offset emotional messages from mothers whose children had overdosed.24

McKinsey allegedly urged Purdue to direct sales reps at the most prolific opioid prescribers, “because prescribers in the most prolific group wrote 25 times more OxyContin scripts than the less prolific prescribers.”25 This group of physicians were classified as “Super Core.” Purdue allegedly ordered sales reps to make visits to these prescribers every week.

The complaint claims that within the notes of the sales reps are recorded more than 1,000 visits to providers, in which the reps recommended pitching opioids to elderly patients with ailments such as arthritis. The complaint goes on to describe how the consulting firm recommended sales reps convince doctors to prescribe opioids:26

“McKinsey had reported to Purdue on opportunities to increase prescriptions by convincing doctors that opioids provide ‘freedom’ and ‘peace of mind’ and give patients ‘the best possible chance to live a full and active life.’ McKinsey also suggested sales ‘drivers’ based on the ideas that opioids reduce stress and make patients more optimistic and less isolated.”

Philanthropic Gifts Being Returned

While the Sackler family’s role in the opioid epidemic has been exposed during litigation, historically they have been known for their philanthropic efforts. The family has donated a wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gifted a wing at the Louvre, a courtyard at Victoria and Albert Museum, a center for feminist art at the Brooklyn Museum and an Arts Education Center at the Guggenheim Museum.27 

Their profits from Purdue Pharma have funded educational programs, medical research and professorships at Cornell, Stanford, and Columbia Universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale Cancer Center.28

However, as the family faces continued pressure and litigation following complaints and lawsuits surrounding their role in the growing opioid crisis, many of these same institutions are facing their own pressure to return the gifts and remove the family name from their institutions.

Patrick Radden Keefe, investigative journalist for The New Yorker, notes that, considering the depth and breadth of the family donations, there is a conspicuous lack of philanthropic donation in funding addiction treatment.29 Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, suggests they will revisit the Sacklers’ support, saying:30

“The Sackler family has been connected with the Met for more than a half century. The family is a large extended group, and their support of the Met began decades before the opioid crisis. The Met is currently engaging in a further review of our detailed gift acceptance policies, and we will have more to report in due course.”

Struggling With Opioid Addiction? Please Seek Help

Regardless of the brand of opioid, it’s vitally important to realize they are extremely addictive drugs and not meant for long-term use for nonfatal conditions. Chemically, opioids are similar to heroin. If you wouldn’t consider shooting up heroin for a toothache or backache, seriously reconsider taking an opioid to relieve this type of pain.

The misconception that opioids are harmless pain relievers has killed hundreds of thousands, and destroyed the lives of countless more. In many cases you’ll be able to control pain without using medications. In my previous article, “Treating Pain Without Drugs,” I discuss several approaches to consider that may be used separately or in combination.

If you’ve been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking a higher dosage, or taking the drug more often, you may already be addicted. Resources where you can find help include:

  • Your workplace Employee Assistance Program
  • Contact the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration31 24 hours a day at 1-800-622-HELP

Why Was Scientific Freedom Award for Discovery of Glyphosate’s Role in Chronic Kidney Disease Rescinded?

Since 1980, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — the world’s largest scientific society and publisher of several journals, including Science — has presented an annual award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility to “scientists, engineers or their organizations, whose exemplary actions have demonstrated scientific freedom and responsibility in challenging circumstances.” As explained on the AAAS website:1

“The types of actions worthy of this award include acting to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare; focusing public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or providing an exemplary model in carrying out the social responsibilities of scientists, engineers or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.

Some awardees have risked their freedom and even physical safety by their actions, while others have been honored for their advocacy and their leadership.”

2019 Award Winners

This year, the AAAS was slated to present the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility award to two human health researchers who have published papers linking glyphosate exposure to chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) in Sri Lankan farmers:

  • Dr. Sarath Gunatilake,2 professor of health science at the University of California, whose areas of expertise includes occupational and environmental health research.
  • Channa Jayasumana, Ph.D.,3 a faculty member of Medicine and Allied Sciences at the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, who conducts research into nephrotoxins (kidney toxins) and the causes and treatments for chronic kidney disease.

Their paper “Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka?”4 was published in 2014, followed by “Simultaneous Exposure to Multiple Heavy Metals and Glyphosate May Contribute to Sri Lankan Agricultural Nephropathy,”5 and “Drinking Well Water and Occupational Exposure to Herbicides Is Associated With Chronic Kidney Disease in Padavi-Sri Pura, Sri Lanka,”6 in 2015.

In the third paper listed, the team found people who drank water from wells where glyphosate and heavy metal concentrations are higher had a fivefold increased risk of CKDu.

Award Winners Are Both Outspoken Critics of Glyphosate

Both Gunatilake and Jayasumana have previously taken a strong stance against glyphosate-based herbicides, highlighting the dangers of herbicide adjuvants. In a 2018 Daily Mirror article,7 Gunatilake noted that adjuvants added to glyphosate-based herbicides “are 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate itself.” He went on to say:

“The point I’m trying to raise is that glyphosate without adjuvants is not very useful. Therefore, manufacturers have added these toxic chemicals into glyphosate and nobody is talking about them! Over the last 25 years, the pesticide industry had us hoodwinked by referring only to glyphosate and not to the adjuvants or additives included in these herbicides.”

Jayasumana, meanwhile, provided testimony8 at the yearlong International Monsanto Tribunal,9 which began December 2015, asserting that glyphosate use has resulted in ecocide.

In its February 4, 2019 press release,10,11 (which has since been removed from its website12), AAAS stated Gunatilake and Jayasumana “faced death threats and claims of research misconduct while working to determine the cause of a kidney disease epidemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in their home country of Sri Lanka and around the world. Ultimately, their advocacy led to the culprit, an herbicide called glyphosate, being banned in several affected countries.”

Jessica Wyndham, director of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, said:13

“To right a wrong when significant financial interests are at stake and the power imbalance between industry and individual is at play takes the unique combination of scientific rigor, professional persistence and acceptance of personal risk demonstrated by the two scientists recognized by this year’s award.”

2019 Award Retracted Amid Controversy Over Glyphosate’s True Danger

According to Gunatilake and Jayasumana, consumption of glyphosate-contaminated water may contribute to chronic kidney disease by facilitating the transport of heavy metals such as arsenic and cadmium into the kidneys.14

The AAAS award announcement incited a rash of critique by defenders of glyphosate, leading the AAAS to issue another statement just two days later, saying the organization is “taking steps to reassess the 2019 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, after concerns were voiced by scientists and members. This award will not be presented … as originally planned while we further evaluate the award selection.”

(Incidentally, AAAS CEO Rush Holt announced his retirement on that same day.15) One outspoken critic was Kevin Folta — a pro-GMO University of Florida professor caught intentionally hiding his funding from Monsanto — who stated that the pair’s 2014 paper merely “presented a hypothesis. There were no data. There were no experiments. It was a semi-well-crafted hypothesis that could be tested.”16 In a recent article, GMWatch.org rebuts Folta’s claims, saying:

“Folta’s claim that there are ‘no data’ in the paper is false. There are plenty of data in this and the authors’ follow-up papers — from epidemiological and case-control studies, as well as geographical surveys — that support the idea that glyphosate herbicides should be withdrawn from use as a precautionary measure until they can be proven safe.

Are these data conclusive? No. They point to an association. It’s true that the link between glyphosate exposure and chronic kidney disease will always remain a ‘hypothesis’ until it is proven in controlled long-term animal feeding studies …

The truth is that they are unlikely to be done, due to the massive expense and the unwillingness of industry and governments to fund studies that could show that they were responsible for exposing people to poisons over many years.”

Should Scientific Freedom Award Be Revoked Based on Controversial Findings?

True, Gunatilake and Jayasumana’s theory is just one of dozens of hypotheses for what might be causing chronic CKDu.17,18,19 (Cadmium toxicity is on that list, though.) Overall, it doesn’t appear as though any one given influence can explain all, or even most, cases of CKDu, so the search for answers continues.

The problem with the AAAS’ revocation is that whether the research findings are absolutely “true” is not entirely relevant for this particular award. As tweeted by Jack Heinemann,20 a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, whose research topics include horizontal gene transfer, GMO risk assessment, conflicts of interest in research and sustainable agriculture:21

“Whether or not the link between glyphosate (or formulation) and kidney disease is right misses the point. A scientific freedom award is given for persecution. If you only give it for proven science, it would be delayed decades and it would only benefit those who persecute.”

Gunatilake and Jayasumana are relatively cautious in their own conclusions, describing the link between glyphosate and CKDu as follows:22

“A strong association between the consumption of hard water and the occurrence of this special kidney disease has been observed, but the relationship has not been explained consistently. Here, we have hypothesized the association of using glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the disease endemic area and its unique metal chelating properties.

The possible role played by glyphosate-metal complexes in this epidemic has not been given any serious consideration by investigators for the last two decades … Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues … when it forms complexes with a localized geo environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals.”

Former AAAS President Is Now Biotech Shill

While it may seem cynical to cry foul at every turn, industry influence and conflicts of interest have become so commonplace these days that it simply cannot be ignored. In a recent tweet, science journalist Paul D. Thacker23 (who also had a hand in writing the Open Payments Act, which mandates the disclosure of compensation from the pharmaceutical and medical industry) noted:24

“If you ever worried that science was being warped by corporate interests, this backpedal by AAAS in giving an award to pesticide researcher [sic] should lay that to rest. Answer seems to be ‘yes.'”

In a series of tweets, Thacker also points out links between former AAAS president Nina Fedoroff and the biotech industry, which has become well-known for pressuring medical journals and other organizations to revoke and discredit undesirable research and/or journalism.25

In 2015, Fedoroff, a plant molecular biologist, joined the OFW Law firm — which lobbies for the agrochemical industry — as senior science adviser for agriculture policy, global food security and government affairs.26

She was also present at the 2017 release of “Little Black Book of Junk Science,”27 a book by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a chemical industry front group that I’ve written about on several occasions, and was a chosen speaker at a GMO Answers symposium cosponsored by Scientific American in 2016.28

GMO Answers was created by the PR firm Ketchum, which works on behalf of the Council for Biotechnology Information to improve the public image of GMOs. U.S. Right to Know has previously called attention to a video ad in which the firm talks about how it doubled positive GMO coverage using online social media monitoring.29

AAAS Has ‘Mixed Record on Public Interest Issues’

Considering how strong professional ties can be, even when officially severed, it doesn’t seem farfetched to suspect Fedoroff’s association with AAAS and the agrochemical industry might have an influence. GM Watch also notes:30

“The AAAS has a mixed record when it comes to public interest issues. In 2013 the AAAS’ board of directors issued a statement opposing the labeling of GM foods in the U.S. … The AAAS was at the time chaired by Nina Fedoroff, who has close ties to the GMO industry.

But in an incident that showed that the AAAS is not monolithic but contains scientists who do not toe the GMO lobby’s line, a group of scientists and physicians that included many long-standing AAAS members condemned the AAAS board of directors’ statement as ‘an Orwellian argument that violates the right of consumers to make informed decisions.’

They pointed to evidence showing that Roundup, the herbicide used on most GM crops, could pose risks that consumers might reasonably want to avoid. Sadly, the AAAS board seems more likely than its membership to have the power to decide on the fate of the award that was to be given to the Sri Lankan scientists.”

Latest GMO Monopoly Driven by Fear

While glyphosate-based herbicides still dominate the global market, rapidly mounting weed tolerance has led to the introduction of dicamba-based herbicides and a new crop of genetically engineered (GE) plants designed to withstand it. Dicamba is an incredibly potent toxin, and dicamba drift damaged or destroyed an estimated 3.6 million acres across the U.S. between 2016 and 2017 alone.

This included not only fields growing non-dicamba-resistant crops but also trees. In response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed some restrictions on dicamba usage. For instance, special training is required to apply the herbicide, and its application is prohibited when wind speeds are greater than 10 mph. Farmers are also asked to assess the risk that spraying could have on nearby crops, as well.

Despite this, reports of damage from dicamba drift continued through 2018. What’s worse, many farmers report feeling they have no choice but to buy Monsanto-Bayer’s GE dicamba-tolerant seeds, or else they risk having their crop destroyed by dicamba drift from their neighbors.

Randy Brazel, a soybean grower, tells NPR31 he had little choice but to switch to dicamba-tolerant soybeans after one of his neighbors called saying he was making the switch. NPR writes:

“[D]icamba fumes from fields of Xtend soybeans have curled up the leaves of sycamore trees and millions of acres of traditional soybeans across much of the Midwest and South. Brazel wasn’t willing to take the risk of that happening to his crops.

He canceled his entire order and bought the new dicamba-tolerant soybeans instead. ‘Then I have to get on the phone and call every other neighbor and say, ‘Listen, I did not want to do this. But I am going to be forced to go dicamba.’ Well, then that forces all those neighbors to call all their neighbors. And eventually what you have is a monopoly,’ he says.”

In some parts of the U.S., protecting your crop from dicamba damage from neighbors is part of the sales pitch for the dicamba-resistant Xtend soybeans, NPR reports. In response to this mounting pressure to switch or lose your farm, a lawsuit has been filed against Monsanto on behalf of farmers, arguing the dicamba-tolerant seeds violate antitrust law.

As noted by NPR, “The lawsuit claims that the company understood that the risk of drifting dicamba could drive competitors out of the market.” Bayer (which bought Monsanto in May, 2018) has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. A decision from the court is still pending.

Substantial Amounts of Glyphosate Found in Food

The sad fact of the matter is, if you’re eating nonorganic foods, especially processed food, then you’re eating glyphosate on a regular basis. Farmers apply nearly 5 billion pounds (over 2 billion kilograms) of glyphosate to farm crops each year, worldwide.32 Approximately 300 million pounds are applied on U.S. farmland.

Testing has revealed 70 percent of Americans had detectable levels of glyphosate in their system in 2016; between 1993 and 2016, the glyphosate levels in people’s bodies increased by 1,208 percent.33 A recent investigation by journalist Carey Gillam34 revealed Roundup has been found in virtually all foods tested, including granola and crackers.

The Health Research Institute Labs (HRI Labs) has also conducted glyphosate testing, finding the chemical in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Other foods typically contaminated with glyphosate include grains, legumes, beans, orange juice and wine.

HRI’s testing also reveals people who eat oats on a regular basis have twice as much glyphosate in their system as people who don’t (likely because oats are desiccated with glyphosate before harvest). Meanwhile, people who eat organic food on a regular basis have an 80 percent lower level of glyphosate than those who rarely eat organic.

Glyphosate May Affect Your Health in Several Ways

Glyphosate actually has a glycine molecule as part of its structure (hence the “gly” in glyphosate). Glycine is a very common amino acid your body uses to make proteins. As a result, a senior scientist at MIT, Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., believes your body can substitute glyphosate for glycine, which results in damaged proteins being produced.

Glycine also plays a role in quenching inflammation, as explained in “Glycine Quells Oxidative Damage by Inhibiting NOX Superoxide Production and Boosting NADPH,” and is used up in the detoxification process. As a result of glyphosate toxicity, many of us may not have enough glycine for efficient detoxification. According to research published in the journal Entropy in 2013, the main toxic effects of glyphosate are related to the fact that it:35,36

  • Inhibits the shikimate pathway, found in gut bacteria in both humans and animals
  • Interferes with the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes, required for activation of vitamin D in the liver, and the creation of both nitric oxide and cholesterol sulfate, the latter of which is needed for red blood cell integrity
  • Chelates important minerals, including iron, cobalt and manganese. Manganese deficiency, in turn, impairs mitochondrial function and can lead to glutamate toxicity in the brain
  • Interferes with the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine, which results in shortages in critical neurotransmitters and folate
  • Disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport

Glyphosate also disrupts, destroys, impairs or inhibits:37

  • The microbiome, thanks to its antibiotic activity
  • Sulfur metabolism
  • Methylation pathways
  • Pituitary release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which can lead to hypothyroidism

How to Test Your Glyphosate Level and Eliminate It From Your System

The chemical has also been linked to an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer.38 Considering the possible dangers of glyphosate, it would make sense to minimize your exposure, and if you have high levels already, to take steps to detoxify it.

HRI Labs has developed home test kits for both water and urine, and if you have elevated levels, you can drive out the glyphosate by taking an inexpensive glycine supplement.

Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt recommends taking 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glycine powder twice a day for a few weeks and then lowering the dose to one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) twice a day. This forces the glyphosate out of your system, allowing it to be eliminated through your urine.

100 Percent of Oat Products Tested Positive for Glyphosate

Oat-based foods, such as oatmeal, cereals and bread, are considered by many to be a healthy dietary addition, but if you eat such foods know that you’re probably getting herbicide residues along with them.

In testing done by Friends of the Earth (FOE), 100 percent of oat cereal samples tested positive for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.1 While there are multiple reasons to reconsider the health value of oats, including their lectin content, the rampant use of glyphosate on this crop as a desiccant just prior to harvest, and their subsequent glyphosate contamination, is worthy of attention.

All Oat Cereals Tested Contained Glyphosate

FOE, looking to uncover how many pesticides and herbicides residues are in commonly eaten foods, tested store-brand cereal, beans and produce from the top four food retailers in the U.S.: Walmart, Kroger, Costco and Albertsons/Safeway.

Altogether, 132 samples of house brand samples were tested, from more than 30 U.S. stores in 15 states. Residues of glyphosate and pesticides — neonicotinoids and organophosphates — were found, with glyphosate being detected in 100 percent of oat cereal and pinto bean samples tested.

The average level of glyphosate in cereal samples was 360 parts per billion (ppb), which FOE noted is more than twice the level set by Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists for lifetime cancer risk in children. Some of the cereal samples contained residues as high as 931 ppb.

As for pinto beans, levels were found up to 1,128 ppb, although average glyphosate levels were 509 ppb — 4.5 times higher than EWG’s benchmark for lifetime cancer risk in children. According to FOE:

“EWG determined that a 1-in-a-million cancer risk would be posed by ingestion of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day. To reach this maximum dose, one would have to eat a single 60-gram serving of oat cereal with a glyphosate level of 160 ppb or a 90-gram serving of pinto beans with a glyphosate level of 110 ppb.”

Oat-Based Foods Marketed to Children Contain Glyphosate

EWG also commissioned independent laboratory tests to determine how much glyphosate is lurking in the U.S. food supply. Forty-three out of 45 food products made with conventionally grown oats tested positive for glyphosate, 31 of which had glyphosate levels higher than EWG scientists believe would be protective of children’s health.2

Examples of foods with detectable levels of glyphosate include Quaker Dinosaur Eggs instant oatmeal, Cheerios cereal, Nature Valley granola bars, Quaker steel cut oats and Back to Nature Classic Granola. Further, out of 16 organic oat foods tested, five contained glyphosate, although at levels below EWG’s health benchmark of 160 ppb.

Follow-up testing of another 28 samples of oat-based cereal and other oat-based foods marketed to children found glyphosate in all the samples tested, with 26 of them coming in above EWG’s health benchmark of 160 ppb.

Glyphosate was detected in General Mills’ Cheerios and a host of Quaker brand products such as instant oatmeal, breakfast cereal and snack bars. The highest glyphosate level — 2,837 ppb — was found in Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal. According to EWG:3

“These test results fly in the face of claims by two companies, Quaker and General Mills, which have said there is no reason for concern. This is because, they say, their products meet the legal standards.

Yet almost all of the samples tested by EWG had residues of glyphosate at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.”

Why Do Oats Have Glyphosate Residues?

Nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are used in the U.S. each year, with usage being heaviest in the Midwest due to extensive production of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy. In fact, more than 90 percent of corn and soy grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered, and these ingredients are common in processed foods.4

Oats, although not GE, are a common source of glyphosate residues because the chemical is used as a desiccant on many non-GMO crops. In northern, colder regions farmers of wheat, oats and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest.

Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, farmers realized they could spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crops and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).

In some cases, non-GMO foods may be even more contaminated with glyphosate than GMO crops, because they’re being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.

Researchers from University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine noted in JAMA that Roundup is “applied as a desiccant to most small nongenetically modified grains.” So for both GE crops and non-GE grains, glyphosate “is found in these crops at harvest.”5 As an aside, beans are also desiccated using glyphosate, which is likely why FOE’s testing found such residues in all the pinto bean samples tested.

Glyphosate is the only systemic herbicide registered for use prior to harvest of dry beans. When applied preharvest, glyphosate moves to both the growing points and storage structures (including roots and seeds) of plants to target EPSP synthase, which prevents production of certain amino acids and diverts energy from essential plant processes.

This process affects the entire plant causing death and necrosis of green material. In fact, it’s the only systemic herbicide registered for use prior to the harvest of dry beans, and although it’s not a true desiccant, it’s the “product of choice for many dry bean growers,” according to the Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies.6

However, the article stresses that the timing of application is crucial to prevent excessive residues of herbicide in the final product, stating:7

[W]hen relying on this herbicide alone or when using it with other desiccants, application timing should be delayed to limit glyphosate accumulation in bean seed … But desiccation is a science that requires finesse.

Regardless of the product(s) being used, agronomists and growers must ensure proper application to maximize desiccant efficacy while limiting negative impacts to quality, including unacceptable herbicide residue levels.”

Glyphosate Linked to Pregnancy Risks

Herbicide use is on the rise in the U.S. Midwest, where corn and soy crops are prolific, and researchers are concerned exposure could be harming pregnant women and children in the area.

In a study of pregnant women in central Indiana, glyphosate was detected in the urine of 93 percent of the participants, with higher levels found in those living in rural areas and those who consumed 24 ounces or more of caffeinated beverages per day.8

Further, higher levels of glyphosate in women’s urine was significantly associated with shortened pregnancy lengths. Study author Dr. Paul Winchester, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Franciscan St. Francis Health system and professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana, said in a news release:9

“In our study, which is ongoing, mothers with relatively higher levels of glyphosate were more likely to have shorter pregnancies and deliver babies with lower birth-weight, outcomes that everyone should be concerned about. Shorter pregnancies with relatively lower birth weights have been linked to lower cognitive ability later in life and higher risk of metabolic syndrome.”

As for the higher glyphosate levels among rural residents, none of whom were farmers or directly involved in Roundup application, it’s believed the exposure may have come from inhalation of contaminated air or dust.

It’s also possible that consumption of caffeinated beverages may be associated with higher glyphosate levels because some caffeine-containing beverages, such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, may contain glyphosate residues, although the study didn’t test for this.10

Even Diapers Contain Glyphosate, Which Could Pose Long-Term Health Risks

A French study of disposable diapers revealed glyphosate was found in the material, along with about 60 other chemicals. Although the levels of glyphosate were low, Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, said it and other chemicals “could migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin.”11

They gave diaper manufacturers 15 days to develop a plan of action to remove harmful substances from the products. Although the specific diaper brands weren’t named, they’re said to provide a representation of the market and include some that are sold in multiple countries. Anses, while suggesting that no immediate risk was present, said long-term health effects could exist:12

“There is no epidemiological research allowing us to prove the health effects linked to the wearing of nappies. That said, dangerous chemical substances have been found in the nappies … there is evidence the safety thresholds for several substances have been crossed.

At the current time and from what we know at the moment, it is not possible to exclude a health risk linked to the wearing of disposable nappies.”

Eating Organic Reduces Cancer Risk

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen” in 2015. In August 2018, jurors ruled Monsanto (which was taken over by Bayer in June 2018) must pay $289 million in damages to DeWayne “Lee” Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who claimed the company’s herbicide Roundup caused his terminal cancer.13 

The award was later slashed to $78 million,14 but it’s not an isolated case. Thousands of people across the U.S. have filed lawsuits alleging that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and others containing the active ingredient glyphosate, caused them to develop cancer.

There are many routes of exposure to this likely carcinogen, including via your drinking water, but diet is among them. The featured study also found residues of another potentially carcinogenic pesticide — organophosphates — were widespread in applesauce, apples and spinach samples they tested.15

Eating organic is one simple way to avoid these toxins, and research shows that doing so could reduce your risk of cancer. In a study of nearly 70,000 adults, those who ate primarily organic foods had a lower risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who rarely or never ate organic foods.16

EPA Petitioned to Prohibit Glyphosate’s Use as a Desiccant

Choosing organic oat products may be especially important to avoid glyphosate, as EWG’s studies suggest that glyphosate levels may be higher in oat products than they are in even wheat and corn. Further, “real dietary exposure” is not limited to oat products. Children (and adults) are being exposed to glyphosate from a variety of sources, with potentially devastating effects.

EWG and other consumer groups have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the amount of glyphosate residues allowed in oats from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 0.1 ppm, as well as prohibit the use of glyphosate as a preharvest desiccant.17

The 0.1 ppm limit for glyphosate on oats was actually the legal limit in 1993 — it has since been raised 300fold, in response to a petition from Monsanto around the time farmers began to widely use glyphosate as a desiccant late in the season.18

If you’re concerned about glyphosate residues in your food, you can help to prompt change by reaching out to the companies that make your food. Let them know that you prefer foods without glyphosate residues — and are prepared to switch brands if necessary to find them.

In addition to voicing your opinion to food companies, contact the EPA and encourage them to restrict preharvest applications of glyphosate in order to reduce the amount of this toxic chemical entering the food supply.

Public Health Warning Issued for Fluoride Toothpaste

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 (CDC), 40 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 6 use potentially dangerous amounts of toothpaste.

The CDC and American Dental Association (ADA) recommend using no more than a pea-sized amount for children in this age group, and those younger than 3 should use no more than the size of a rice grain on their toothbrush.

The problem with using excessive amounts of toothpaste has to do with the fluoride it contains. If you look closely, you’ll find fluoride-containing toothpastes have a warning on their label stating that “If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”

This warning was made mandatory for fluoride-containing dental products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April, 1997.2 Ironically, while swallowing toothpaste is recognized as a cause for concern, we’re supposed to believe that drinking fluoridated water at any quantity is not only safe but beneficial for our teeth.

Too Much Fluoride Causes Dental Fluorosis

The fact of the matter is that fluoride is a toxic substance with no known biological imperative. Researchers have even questioned its efficacy as a topical anticaries prophylactic.3

Dental caries is caused by demineralization of your teeth by the acids formed during the bacterial fermentation of dietary sugars. Demineralization is countered by the deposit of minerals from your saliva. However, the remineralization process is a slow one, and fluoride is said to prevent dental caries by enhancing this remineralization.

The problem is, your teeth do not actually rely on fluoride for remineralization. What’s more, research4 has concluded that the protective shield fluoride forms on teeth is up to 100 times thinner than previously believed. It has long been believed that fluoride changes the main mineral in tooth enamel, hydroxyapatite, into a more-decay resistant material called fluorapatite.

However, the researchers found that the fluorapatite layer formed in this way is only 6 nanometers thick — meaning it would take almost 10,000 such layers to span the width of a human hair. As noted by the authors, “it has to be asked whether such narrow … layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel.”

Meanwhile, fluoride has been shown to cause significant systemic harm when ingested, which is part and parcel of the CDC’s new warning against using too much toothpaste. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times:5

“Brushing with too much toothpaste can damage enamel, as children could swallow too much fluoride while their teeth are developing, the CDC says. This can cause dental fluorosis, white marks and discoloration of teeth.”

However, dental fluorosis is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fluoride damage. For example, evidence shows fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar level.6 Importantly, it’s a known neurotoxin, shown to lower IQ in children.7

Most US Kids Have Fluoride-Damaged Teeth

According to research8 presented at the April 2017 National Oral Health Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 57 percent of youth between the ages of 6 and 19 years have dental fluorosis, a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled.

When Fluoride Action Network (FAN) researchers analyzed the same set of data, they found over 21 percent of adolescents had moderate fluorosis and 2 percent had severe fluorosis.9

According to FAN, “The data suggests that up to 24 million adolescents now have some form of dental fluorosis, with over 8 million adolescents having moderate fluorosis, and 840,000 having severe fluorosis.” Incredibly, the situation is still worsening. According to the most recent data, which has yet to be published, the dental fluorosis rate in the U.S. may now be a staggering 65 percent.10

In stark contrast, when water fluoridation was first started in the U.S. in 1945, it was promised that only 10 percent of people would suffer from mild dental fluorosis at the then-recommended levels.11 Clearly, they were wrong.

In 2011, concerns over escalating fluorosis rates prompted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to lower the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water, from a previously recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L to 0.7 mg/L.

However, adverse effects, including reduced IQ, behavioral alterations, neurochemical changes, hypothyroidism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been demonstrated even at that lower level, so while it reduced exposure for many, the most serious risks remain.

What’s more, reduced IQ has been seen in study participants with higher urinary fluoride concentrations even when no dental fluorosis was present, which suggests the doses of fluoride that impair cognitive ability are far lower than those that cause severe dental fluorosis.12

Fluoridated Water Likely a Far Greater Concern Than Excessive Toothpaste

Unfortunately, public health officials often brush off fluorosis as a purely aesthetic issue, one they believe is an okay trade-off for the supposed benefits of fluoride. In reality, dental fluorosis is an outward sign that fluoride is damaging the body in other ways as well.

Research has found impairment in cognitive abilities among children with fluorosis (even mild fluorosis) compared to children with no fluorosis, for example. Studies have also found that children with higher levels of fluorosis have increased rates of cavities13,14 — a finding that suggests more is definitely not better, not even when it comes to protecting against cavities.

Importantly, the CDC completely ignores the role fluoridated water plays in this epidemic, as toothpaste is by far not the only source of fluoride for young children, and probably isn’t the most significant source either.

In a January, 2019 study15 in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, the prevalence of dental fluorosis among 10- to 12-year-olds in three Ecuadorian provinces was nearly 90 percent. According to the authors, “A positive statistical relationship and statistical significance was detected between dental fluorosis and consumption of bottled beverages.”

A “low negative” relationship between fluorosis and brushing with adult toothpaste without help suggests fluoridated water (used in bottled beverages) is likely to be a greater risk factor than toothpaste exposure, although toothpaste ingestion may still play a role.

CDC and Mainstream Media Ignore the Elephant in the Room

In response to the CDC’s toothpaste warning, FAN writes:16

“A spate of news stories … focused on kids swallowing too much toothpaste. But according to Paul Connett, Ph.D., FAN Director, ‘The defenders of water fluoridation are missing the real story. Dental fluorosis is a biomarker of over-exposure to fluoride and the ‘elephant in the room’ is what damage fluoride is doing to other tissues.’

Recent scientific research indicates that exposure to fluoridated water may lower thyroid function17,18 and 350 published studies indicate that fluoride can damage the brain … While it is understandable that die-hard promoters of fluoridation should be fixated on any study dealing with teeth, it is less understandable why the media should ignore fluoride’s impact on the brain.

The fetal brain is under attack from several environmental toxins19 but only one, fluoride, is deliberately added to our water. There are safer ways to prevent dental caries than exposing the fetus to a neurotoxicant … Repeating the dogma that fluoridation is “safe and effective” many times does not make it so.

Connett urges more scientists to overcome this dogma and intimidation and review the brain studies themselves … fluoride-brain studies are readily accessible.20 Connett added that, ‘I believe that the intellectual ability of future generations depends on their willingness to do this. Neither intimidation nor dogma has a place in science or public health.’”

Protecting Your Dental Health Has Nothing to Do With Fluoride


When it comes to good oral hygiene and preventing cavities, it’s important to realize that drinking fluoridated water and brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is not the answer. It’s far more important to address your nutrition and basic oral care. Here’s a five-step plan that can help you improve your oral health, without the use of toxic agents such as fluoride:

1. Reduce your net carbohydrate intake to meet your insulin level requirement. I suggest you reduce your overall net carbs (total grams of carbohydrates minus your grams of fiber intake) if your fasting insulin level is over 5.

Aside from sugar, avoid carbs like beans, legumes and grains such as rice, quinoa and oats, as well as highly-processed grain products like bread, pasta, cereal, chips, bagels and fries. These begin digestion in the mouth and impact the health of your teeth the most.

Limit your daily fructose intake to 25 grams or less. Even fructose found in fresh fruit should be limited until you’ve normalized your insulin and leptin levels. If you’re already struggling with Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance, consider restricting your total fructose to 15 grams per day until your insulin sensitivity has been restored.

Focus on eating a diet of fresh, whole foods, including grass fed meats and organic and fermented vegetables. This helps ensure you get plenty of minerals for strong bones and teeth. If needed, consider adding one or more nutritional supplements to support your oral health.

2. Brush twice or three times a day, 30 to 60 minutes after drinking and/or eating.

3. Use nonfluoridated toothpaste, or make your own. For example, you could simply mix coconut oil and baking soda with a pinch of Himalayan salt. High-quality peppermint essential oil can be added for flavor and cavity prevention. Start with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil and baking soda, and add more of one or the other until you get an agreeable consistency. (Slightly firmer consistency tends to be easier to use.)

If buying non-fluoridated toothpaste, be sure to check the ingredient list for other harmful ingredients such as triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, diethanolamine and parabens.

4. Floss daily.

5. Pull with coconut oil once a day, ideally first thing in the morning, for five to 10 minutes to reduce bacterial growth, strengthen your teeth, reduce bad breath and lower your risk of gum disease.

To Protect Your Child’s Teeth, Bones and Brain, Avoid Fluoride From All Sources

For instructions on how to brush and floss properly, as well as oil pulling guidelines, see “Dental Dedication: Improve Your Oral Health.” In the video above, Bill Osmunson, a practicing dentist and staunch advocate against fluoride, also discusses some of the variables that contribute to good oral hygiene (summarized above).

Remember, by avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Following up with proper brushing and flossing and getting regular cleanings with a mercury-free biological dentist will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy naturally.

Many natural substances, such as vitamins C and K2, Coenzyme Q10 and homeopathic tissue salts such as silica, calcarea fluorica (calcium fluoride, not to be confused with sodium fluoride found in toothpaste), calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, also have the power to improve the health of your teeth and gums.

Fluoride really has no major advantage, only hazards. And those hazards go far beyond the visible signs of dental fluorosis. Far worse is the damage that occurs inside the body, which you cannot see.

So, in addition to teaching your children about proper nutrition and oral care, be mindful about limiting their fluoride exposure from all sources, including toothpaste and other dental products, fluoridated water, fluoridated pesticides (and hence pesticide contaminated foods), bottled beverages such as juices and teas, fast food packaging, non-stick pots and pans, fluorinated drugs, fluoridated table salt and mechanically deboned chicken.

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