THE HILL — A new report from Austin, Texas’s Equity Office about existing Confederate monuments suggested changing the city’s name.
The report identified several neighborhoods and 10 streets named in honor of the Confederacy or William Barton, a slave owner dubbed the “Daniel Boone of Texas,” that could be changed, The Austin American-Statesman reported Friday.
Austin’s namesake, Stephen F. Austin — also referred to as the “father of Texas” — opposed efforts by Mexico to abolish slavery in the Tejas province, saying freed slaves would become “vagabonds, a nuisance and a menace,” the newspaper noted. […]
Italian prosecutors are investigating rescue workers from international NGOs, including some from the German NGO Jugend Rettet. The investigation comes as Italy’s populist government cracks down on private sea rescues.
28 July 2018
DEUTSCHE WELLE — Prosecutors from the Sicilian town of Trapani opened an investigation on Wednesday into more than 20 sea rescue workers accused of assisting with illegal immigration, according to a report from German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
The rescuers work for various international nongovernmental organizations, including Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. Prosecutors have not pressed any charges and the preliminary investigation is a “technical process” in order to gather information from computers and phones, a spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders told German press agency DPA.
“We are sure that these technical reviews confirm what we have always said: that we operate at sea in accordance with the law,” the spokesperson said.
Italy has intensified its fight against private sea rescuers. In June, it turned away a migrant rescue ship that belonged to the German NGO Sea Watch and was carrying more than 600 refugees. The country’s populist government has promised to curb the massive influx of migrants from Africa — more than 600,000 have entered the country in the past five years. […]
Blood pressure is the force needed to push blood through your arteries coming from your heart to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your body. When your blood pressure is measured, you get a high value (systolic) and a low value (diastolic). The high number is the highest pressure that occurs in your blood vessels while your heart is contracting. The low value is pressure in your arteries between heartbeats when your heart is relaxed.
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is considered healthy. High blood pressure (hypertension) is typically considered anything over 140/90 mmHg, although updated guidelines1 from the American Heart Association now have 130/80 mmHg as the cutoff for a diagnosis of hypertension. Having an elevation in just one of the two values may also be enough for a hypertension diagnosis.
In the U.S., an estimated 1 in 3 have high blood pressure, and another 1 in 3 have prehypertension.2 Typically, your systolic pressure offers the most information about how stiff your arteries are and how much pressure is needed to push blood around your body. Elevated systolic pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Recent research suggests hypertension, especially elevated systolic pressure, may also raise your risk of dementia.3 Previous studies have already shown that stroke victims, even if it’s a minor stroke, are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s, and this adds further weight to recommendations to get your blood pressure under control in order to protect your cognitive health.
High Blood Pressure Linked to Increased Alzheimer’s Risk
The study4 in question found that, in older adults, having an elevated average systolic blood pressure puts you at greater risk for brain lesions and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The average blood pressure of the seniors enrolled in the study was 134/71 mmHg, and 87 percent of them were taking medications for high blood pressure. The participants were followed until death, or for an average of eight years. The average age at death was 89. As reported in the press release:5
“Researchers found that the risk of brain lesions was higher in people with higher average systolic blood pressure across the years. For a person with one standard deviation above the average systolic blood pressure, for example 147 mmHg versus 134 mmHg, there was a 46 percent increased risk of having one or more brain lesions, specifically infarcts … the equivalent of nine years of brain aging.
Those with one standard deviation above the average systolic blood pressure also had a 46 percent greater chance of having large lesions and a 36 percent greater risk of very small lesions …
[H]igher average diastolic blood pressure was also related to brain infarct lesions. People who had an increase of one standard deviation from an average diastolic blood pressure, for example from 71 mmHg to 79 mmHg, had a 28 percent greater risk of one or more brain lesions.”
Blood Pressure Medication Linked to Sevenfold Risk for Skin Cancer
While drugs are typically the first-line treatment for hypertension, these drugs may have a number of problematic side effects. For example, research6 published in 2017 found hydrochlorothiazide — one of the most popular drugs used worldwide to treat high blood pressure — raises the risk of skin cancer sevenfold. Lead author Anton Pottegard, Ph.D., associate professor from the University of Southern Denmark, commented on the results, saying:
“We knew that hydrochlorothiazide made the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s UV rays, but what is new and also surprising is that long-term use of this blood pressure medicine leads to such a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer.”
Coauthor of the study, Dr. Armand B. Cognetta Jr., from Florida State University, has found similar results in patients he treats in Florida, where “the only risk factor, apart from exposure to the sunlight, seems to be hydrochlorothiazide.”7
Diuretics, also commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, have the side effect of leaching both sodium and potassium out of your body, and maintaining a healthy sodium-to-potassium ratio is really important for the normalization of your blood pressure.8
Potassium is also needed for proper muscle movement, including the contractions of your heart, and if your level gets depleted it can trigger muscle cramps and heart problems.
Blood Pressure Medication Recalled for Carcinogenic Impurity
Recent news also warns that several valsartan-containing blood pressure medications have been recalled9,10 due to the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine, which is classified as a probable human carcinogen.
The impurity is believed to be the result of changes in how the active ingredient was being manufactured. The recall has been issued in 22 other countries besides the U.S. The good news is there are many ways to lower your blood pressure naturally, which I’ll review below.
If your blood pressure is high, then you may need short-term medication to avoid an acute problem, but it would be in your best interest to address your lifestyle as well. Keep monitoring your blood pressure while implementing the recommendations below, and ask your doctor to cut down or eliminate the medication once your pressure normalizes.
By using natural options to address hypertension and any underlying medical condition, you may realistically be able to reduce your dependence on medication.
How Your Blood Pressure Is Taken May Affect the Measurement
Several factors can play into the accuracy of your blood pressure reading.11 To ensure your reading is as accurate as possible, keep the following factors in mind:
The size of the cuff may change the blood pressure reading significantly. The blood pressure cuff will have an arm circumference range printed on the cuff. Using a cuff that is too small may artificially increase the systolic measurement between 10 mmHg and 40 mmHg.
The cuff must be placed on a bare arm, not over clothing, with the edges of the cuff aligned and positioned at heart level, approximately 1 inch above the bend in your elbow. The sleeve of your shirt should be off and not rolled up.
Your body position has a great deal to do with how accurate a peripheral blood pressure measurement will be. The proper position is to have your feet flat on the floor, back supported in a chair, legs uncrossed for at least five minutes and your arm supported while sitting.
Talking to the person taking your blood pressure during the reading may increase your systolic pressure by 10 mmHg and a full bladder may increase your systolic reading by 10 mmHg. Prior to taking your blood pressure, it is important that you sit quietly for three to five minutes and do not exercise for at least 30 minutes prior to the reading.
Nicotine, caffeine or alcohol
All should be eliminated in the 30 minutes prior to having your pressure measured.
If your blood pressure consistently measures greater than 140/90 mmHg or above at the doctor’s office, while being consistently lower when measured at home, you may have white coat hypertension.
For some people, seeing the doctor is an inherently stressful experience that may temporarily raise your blood pressure. An estimated 15 percent to 30 percent of people with documented high blood pressure have white coat hypertension.12
To decrease your risk of being falsely diagnosed with hypertension in this situation, take a moment to calm down (be sure to arrive for your appointment ahead of time so you can unwind), then breathe deeply and relax when you’re getting your blood pressure taken.
Home machines and automated machines must be accurately calibrated to ensure a proper reading. One study13 demonstrated some home pressure machines were off in up to 15 percent of patients. Readings from these machines may impact treatment recommendations.
Hearing ability when using a stethoscope
Many of the machines used today in hospitals and some clinics to take blood pressure are automated and don’t require someone to manually listen for Korotkoff sounds in your brachial artery.
However, there remain a large number of blood pressure measurements taken by an individual listening for the change in sounds in the brachial artery. Individuals who have some hearing loss may record an abnormal reading when they don’t hear the change in sounds correctly.
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
According to medical physiology textbooks, as much as 95 percent of hypertension is called essential hypertension, meaning the underlying cause is unknown. From my perspective, this simply isn’t true. A number of factors have been identified as contributing to high blood pressure, including but not limited to:
• Insulin and leptin resistance. This is at the core of the problem for most, but certainly not all people with hypertension. It will be vital to make sure you are burning fat as your primary fuel and following a CYCLICAL ketogenic diet as I describe in my most recent book Fat for Fuel.
Insulin helps your body to store magnesium, which helps relax your muscles. If your cells have grown resistant to insulin, you won’t be able to store magnesium, which leads to blood vessel constriction and rising blood pressure. So, as your insulin and leptin levels rise, it causes your blood pressure to increase.14,15
To determine whether insulin/leptin resistance is at play, be sure to check your fasting insulin level. Aim for a fasting insulin level of 2 to 3 microU per mL (mcU/mL). If it’s 5 mcU/mL or above, you definitely need to lower your insulin level to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular health problems. If your hypertension is the result of elevated insulin levels, dietary intervention will be key.
• Elevated uric acid levels are also significantly associated with hypertension, so any program adopted to address high blood pressure needs to normalize your uric acid level as well
• Poor nutrition in childhood has been shown to raise the risk of high blood pressure in adulthood16
• Air and sound pollution. Air pollution affects blood pressure by causing inflammation while noise pollution asserts an effect via your nervous and hormonal systems. Living in an area plagued by constant noise pollution (busy city streets with night time traffic) has been shown to increase the risk of hypertension by 6 percent, compared to living in an area where noise levels are at least 20 percent lower.17
To address these factors, avoid smoking, consider using ear plugs during sleep if you live in a noisy neighborhood and take steps to improve your indoor air quality.
Diet Influences Your Blood Pressure
One of the most important dietary changes needed to improve high blood pressure is to eliminate or dramatically reduce sugar, especially processed fructose, in your diet.
One 2010 study18 discovered that those who consumed 74 grams or more per day of fructose (the equivalent of about 2.5 sugary drinks) had a 77 percent greater risk of having blood pressure levels of 160/100 mmHg (stage 2 hypertension). Consuming 74 grams or more of fructose per day also increased the risk of a 135/85 blood pressure reading by 26 percent, and a reading of 140/90 by 30 percent.
Another dietary culprit is trans fat, which is responsible for atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries). This is another trigger for hypertension, so avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats such as margarines, vegetable oils, butter-like spreads and baked goods.
The easiest way to cut both sugar and unhealthy fats from your diet is to replace processed foods with real, whole foods. This will address not only insulin and leptin resistance but also elevated uric acid levels. To learn more about healthy eating, please see my optimal nutrition plan, which will guide you through the necessary changes step-by-step.
A type of fat you may need more of is animal-based omega-3 fats. Research has shown those with the highest serum levels of omega-3 also have the lowest blood pressure readings. On average, their systolic pressure was 4 mmHg lower and their diastolic pressure was 2 mmHg lower compared to those with the lowest omega-3 blood levels.19
I recommend getting your omega-3 index tested at least once a year. Ideally, your index should be above 8 percent. The best way to boost your omega-3 is to eat plenty of oily fish that are low in mercury and other pollutants. Good options include wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies. Alternatively, take a high-quality krill oil supplement.
Beets May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Another food that has been found to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure is beets.20 In one small placebo-controlled trial, one glass (250 milliliters or 8.5 ounces) of beetroot juice per day for one month reduced blood pressure in those diagnosed with hypertension by an average of 8 mmHg systolic and 4 mmHg diastolic pressure.21
This 8/4 mmHg reduction is very close to that provided by blood pressure mediations, which typically can reduce blood pressure by about 9/5 mmHg, and for many it was enough to bring their blood pressure down to normal levels. The treatment group also saw a 20 percent improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity and a 10 percent reduction in arterial stiffness.
The beneficial effects are related to the nitrate found in beetroot juice. Your body converts the nitrate into bioactive nitrite followed by nitric oxide (NO), the latter of which helps relax and dilate your blood vessels, and helps prevent blood clots.
Other vegetables high in nitrates include arugula, butter leaf lettuce and spring greens. The absolute richest source of nitrate is fermented beets, which contain 2,000 to 3,000 mg of nitrates per 100 grams. For comparison, arugula, which contains the highest amount of any vegetable, has just 480 mg of nitrates per 100 grams.
Boost Your Nitric Oxide Level
High-intensity exercise will also trigger NO production in your body and, ideally, you’d both eat nitrate-rich veggies and exercise. Without question, that is high on my list of recommendations, right behind reducing insulin resistance. There are two primary strategies: One is to supply your body with a high-quality source of vegetable nitrates, which serve as precursors for nitric oxide. Arugula is the highest source but our fermented beet powder has 500 percent greater concentration of nitrates.
It is great to give your body the raw materials to create nitric oxide, but after it is made it is stored inside vesicles lining your blood vessels and it won’t work until you release it. High intensity exercises are great at releasing it and the best one I can recommend is the Nitric Oxide Dump. This exercise, developed by Dr. Zach Bush and demonstrated in the video below, will help lower your blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Other Lifestyle Strategies for Lowering Your Blood Pressure
In addition to what’s already been mentioned, here are several additional suggestions that can help lower your blood pressure naturally.
Optimize your vitamin D level
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with both arterial stiffness and hypertension.22 For optimal health, maintain a vitamin D level between 60 and 80 nanograms per milliliter year-round.
Mind your sodium to potassium ratio
According to Dr. Lawrence Appel, lead researcher on the DASH diet and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins, your diet as a whole is the key to controlling hypertension — not salt reduction alone. He believes a major part of the equation is this balance of minerals — i.e., most people need less sodium and more potassium, calcium and magnesium.
According to Appel:23 “Higher levels of potassium blunt the effects of sodium. If you can’t reduce or won’t reduce sodium, adding potassium may help. But doing both is better.”
Indeed, maintaining a proper potassium to sodium ratio in your diet is very important, and hypertension is but one of many side effects of an imbalance. A processed food diet virtually guarantees you’ll have a lopsided ratio of too much sodium to potassium. Making the switch from processed foods to whole foods will automatically improve your ratios.
Consider intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to normalize your insulin/leptin sensitivity, which is a root cause of hypertension.
A comprehensive fitness program can go a long way toward regaining your insulin sensitivity and normalizing your blood pressure. If you are insulin resistant, you’ll also want to include weight training. When you work individual muscle groups, you increase blood flow to those muscles, and good blood flow will increase your insulin sensitivity.
I also recommend training yourself to breathe through your nose when exercising, as mouth breathing during exercise can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes resulting in fatigue and dizziness. To learn more about this, please refer to my previous article on the Buteyko breathing method.
Going barefoot will help you ground to the earth. Experiments show that walking barefoot outside (also referred to as Earthing or grounding) improves blood viscosity and blood flow, which help regulate blood pressure. So, do yourself a favor and ditch your shoes now and then.
Grounding also calms your sympathetic nervous system, which supports your heart rate variability. This in turn promotes homeostatis, or balance, in your autonomic nervous system. In essence, anytime you improve heart rate variability, you’re improving your entire body and all of its functions.
Address your stress
The connection between stress and hypertension is well documented, yet still does not receive the emphasis it deserves. In fact, it has been shown that people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70 percent simply by learning to manage their stress.
Suppressed negative emotions such as fear, anger and sadness can severely limit your ability to cope with the unavoidable every day stresses of life. It’s not the stressful events themselves that are harmful, but your lack of ability to cope.
The good news is, strategies exist to quickly and effectively transform your suppressed, negative emotions, and relieve stress. My preferred method is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an easy to learn, easy to use technique for releasing negative emotions. EFT combines visualization with calm, relaxed breathing, while employing gentle tapping to “reprogram” deeply seated emotional patterns.
A number of essential oils can also be helpful, including lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, bergamot, rose, frankincense, rosemary, lemon balm and clary sage. In one study,24 scientists found exposure to essential oil for one hour effectively reduced stress as measured by a reduction in the participants’ heart rate and blood pressure.
The effect was only temporary, however. In another, similar study,25 inhalation of a blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, neroli and marjoram essential oils was associated with a reduction in blood pressure and cortisol secretion, which is often elevated during stress.
What you eat affects the way you feel, both physically and mentally, and if you’re someone who enjoys snacking on beef jerky from time to time, you should take note. Beef jerky with nitrates added was linked to a host of concerning mental changes, including mania in humans and altered behavior and brain gene expression in rats.1
Beef jerky might seem like an obscure topic for a scientific study, but it’s been growing in popularity in recent years. Sales of meat snacks increased 3.5 percent from 2016 to 2017 to reach nearly $3 billion in sales. That growth rate is more than twice that seen for potato chips over the same period,2 likely because snackers are increasingly looking for more health conscious, nutritious choices.
Beef jerky, while far from a health food (especially in most of its commercial forms), is high in protein, making it a go-to choice for people looking to cut down on processed carbs. There are a number of reasons why you may want to rethink this “healthy” snack, however, starting with its potential effects on your mental health.
Could Beef Jerky and Other Processed Meats Cause Mania?
Mania is a neuropsychiatric condition that causes hyperactivity, insomnia and feelings of euphoria. It’s often seen as part of mental conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, and although it may have a genetic component, environmental factors are also thought to play a role. During a manic episode, delusional thinking and risk-taking behavior may occur, leading to multiple hospitalizations.
Up to 3 percent of Americans are estimated to have bipolar disorder, costing $25 billion a year in direct health care costs.3 The featured study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, reviewed health records from more than 1,000 people, some with psychiatric disorders and some without. People who were hospitalized with mania were 3.5 times more likely to have eaten cured meats than people without a history of psychiatric disorders.
Study author Dr. Robert Yolken, the Theodore and Vada Stanley distinguished professor of neurovirology in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement, “We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out … It wasn’t just that people with mania have an abnormal diet.”4
The researchers also fed rats meat preparations with added nitrates, namely “store-bought, nitrate-prepared beef jerky, which led to mania-like hyperactivity and irregular sleeping patterns in the animals, along with alterations in brain pathways that have been implicated in human bipolar disorder and changes in intestinal microbiota. The same results occurred when the rats were fed rat chow with nitrates added, while rats that ate nitrate-free beef jerky or rat chow with no nitrates displayed no such changes.
The amount of nitrate the rats consumed was equivalent to what a human might consume by eating one beef jerky stick or hot dog daily. “Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania,” Yolken said.5
“It’s clear that mania is a complex neuropsychiatric state, and that both genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors are likely involved in the emergence and severity of bipolar disorder and associated manic episodes,” says Khambadkone. “Our results suggest that nitrated cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania.” Seva Khambadkone, of Johns Hopkins department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, also worked on the study, adding:6
“It’s clear that mania is a complex neuropsychiatric state, and that both genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors are likely involved in the emergence and severity of bipolar disorder and associated manic episodes. Our results suggest that nitrated cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania.”
Why Might Nitrate-Laden Processed Meats Disrupt Your Mental Health?
Nitrates in cured and processed meats such as beef jerky, bacon and hotdogs are known to be carcinogenic and have also been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. The nitrates in processed meats are turned into nitrites by bacteria in your mouth, and then into carcinogenic nitrosamines when they reach your stomach.7
As explained by Gunter Kuhnle, professor of food and nutritional sciences at the University of Reading, U.K., “What makes processed meats so ideal for forming N-nitroso compounds is that they have a combination of nitrite and proteins from the meat. And the meat’s heme seems to help convert them into N-nitroso compounds.”8
“Nitrosamines mediate their mutagenic effects by causing DNA damage, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation and proinflammatory cytokine activation, which lead to increased cellular degeneration and death,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease.9 These same processes also contribute to neurodegeneration that could influence your mental health. Nitrosamines are also linked to inflammation, a key player in cancer and other diseases that has also been implicated in manic episodes.
“We think the key is probably inflammation,” Yolken said in a news release.10Gut microbiota is another primary suspect, as the rats that ate nitrates had different bacterial strains in their guts than the other animals. “There’s growing evidence that germs in the intestines can influence the brain,” says Yolken. “And this work on nitrates opens the door for future studies on how that may be happening.”11
Your Gut Holds a Key to Your Mental Health
What you eat can make or break your gut health, which in turn plays a part in your brain health — and nitrate-rich processed meats are in the category of what NOT to eat for good gut health. Dr. David Perlmutter, author of “Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life,” stated:
“We’re now recognizing from research at our most well-respected institutions from around the globe that the gut bacteria are wielding this very powerful sword of Damocles. They determine whether we’re going to have a healthy brain or not, whether our brain is going to function well or not, and whether our brain is going to become diseased or not. Who knew that we’d be referring back to the gut?”
Separate research conducted by Yolken and colleagues, involving 56 people with schizophrenia, revealed that taking beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, supplements for two weeks not only significantly reduced levels of Candida yeast (which tend to be elevated in people with this disorder) in men but also led to an improvement in psychiatric symptoms.12 It’s now known that your gut is connected to your brain via what’s called the gut-brain axis, which means whatever affects your gastrointestinal tract affects your brain, and vice versa.
As such, when your gut microbiome is unbalanced, it can affect your immune system, mental health, mood and more. Probiotics have even been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression and alter behavior and feelings of anxiety. One small study involving adults diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and depression found the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum provided depression relief.13
Another type of bacteria, lactobacillus, has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies,14 while taking a probiotic with eight different bacterial strains reduced aggressive and ruminative thoughts in a study of adult volunteers.15,16
Some Nitrates Are Good for You
While the nitrate-laden processed meat is a health hazard, nitrates from plants are quite good for your health. Plants contain antioxidants (such as vitamin C and polyphenols) that impede the formation of harmful nitrosamines. The presence of these compounds help to ensure that the nitrates are converted into beneficial nitric oxide (NO) once they reach your stomach rather than harmful nitrosamine compounds.
Most plant foods are also not cooked or fried at high temperatures, an important distinction since nitrates are also more prone to converting into carcinogenic nitrosamines when heated. Plants rich in naturally occurring nitrates, such as arugula, rhubarb and beets, are excellent dietary additions to boost NO, which in turn promotes healthy endothelial function and heart health by dilating your blood vessels, helps maintain physiological homeostasis, suppresses inflammation and promotes angiogenesis, the formation of new, healthy blood vessels.
NO is also beneficial for your brain, as it boosts brain neuroplasticity by improving oxygenation of the somatomotor cortex (a brain area frequently affected in the early stages of dementia).17 If you do eat processed meats containing nitrates, having a healthy gut is still important, as research suggests beneficial bacteria help break down nitrosamines, while bad gut bacteria increase nitrosamine production.18
In other words, there appears to be a very intimate relationship between dietary nitrates and various gut bacteria. It can either work to your advantage, such as when you combine probiotics with nitrate-rich plant food, or against you, such as when you eat beef jerky or other processed meats with added nitrates.
More Reasons to Ditch Processed Meats
Much more remains to be discovered about the link between processed meats and mania, but there’s plenty of evidence already on the table to make you think twice about eating these foods with any regularity. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has long recommended avoiding processed meats entirely and states “there is no safe threshold” for eating them.19 For instance:
Eating just 1.8 ounces of processed meat per day — about one sausage or two to three slices of bacon — was found to raise your likelihood of bowel cancer by 20 percent.20
Eating just 9 grams of bacon per day significantly raises a woman’s risk for breast cancer later in life.21
Eating processed meats affects male fertility; men who ate the least amount of processed meat had a 28 percent higher rate of fertilization during IVF compared to those who ate the most.22
After reviewing some 800 studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, concluded that processed meat can cause colorectal cancer in humans.23
In addition to the nitrates (and related nitrosamines), processed meats typically come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and are cooked at high temperatures, further compounding their health risks. If you choose to eat processed meat, you can somewhat minimize the hazards by choosing organic, nitrate-free varieties made with grass fed meat.
To further support your physical and mental health, minimize (or eliminate) your intake of nitrates from processed meats while increasing your intake of nitrates from plant foods. Plant foods high in nitrates include arugula, rhubarb, cilantro, butter leaf lettuce, spring greens, basil, beet greens, oak leaf lettuce, Swiss chard and red beets, especially fermented beets.
Weeds are plants that grow in a location where they’re not supposed to. They can propagate very quickly and grow in various environments, which allows them to take over a particular garden or farm. Due to these characteristics, weeds are taken out immediately whenever they appear.1
But according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a weed is simply a plant whose virtues have not been discovered,2 and this rings true for milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a plant native to North America.3 It’s commonly found growing along roadsides and ditches, but as you’ll learn soon enough, you’ll understand why it should not be typecast as a weed.4
Health Benefits of Milkweed
Milkweed has long history of usage, and a lot of what we know about it today comes from Native Americans. The plant has been known to help with the following aspects:5,6
Skin: Milkweed can promote healing of warts and ringworm. It can be also used against snake bites on certain cases.
Lungs: Milkweed’s reputation largely lies in its ability to help with lung conditions. It may help relax the bronchioles, reduce spasms and liquefy the mucus in the lungs. As such, it’s used to help various breathing conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, pleurisy and tuberculosis.
Stomach: Digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation may be managed with milkweed.
Other uses: Consuming milkweed may help bring down your temperature when you have a fever.7 Snow blindness, sore muscles and rheumatism may also be alleviated using milkweed.8
Furthermore, planting milkweed in your garden can benefit insects, such as the monarch butterfly. It also attracts buckeyes, bumblebees, eastern tiger swallowtails and honeybees.9
Different Uses of Milkweed
Milkweed is primarily known as the only food source for monarch butterflies, a butterfly species known for the massive distances they travel during migration to escape winter. North American monarchs in particular can travel up to 3,000 miles and stay in California and Mexico.10
To help protect monarch butterflies and improve their chances of survival, you can plant milkweed in your garden or farm. You may use the Milkweed Seed Finder to locate seed suppliers in your area. If you opt for starter plants, make sure they are not pretreated with pesticides.
Small creatures rely on milkweed as well, such as the eponymous red milkweed beetle, which is known for its striking lipstick-red color, black spots and long antennae.11 Another example is the swamp milkweed beetle, which has orange and black markings.12 Certain aphids, ladybug beetles and ants also derive nutrients from milkweed.13
Humans have also benefited greatly from milkweed throughout history. Native Americans taught the first European settlers how to cook the plant properly to avoid becoming poisoned. The sap was applied topically to help remove warts, and the roots were chewed to help ease dysentery. Infusions of the roots and leaves were also made to help with coughs, fever and asthma.14
Milkweed has shown surprising potential in the realm of textiles as well. It is known for its strong fiber, which was used to make bow strings, threads, fishing lines and belts. However, it was during World War II that milkweed shone the brightest. It was used as the filler in life vests and flight suits to help countless soldiers and sailors survive at sea. To make the flotation devices, hollow milkweed fibers were coated in wax, making them waterproof and buoyant.15
Growing and Storing Milkweed in Your Home
Milkweed can be planted in pots indoors, or sown directly on garden beds. However, be sure to have ample space wherever you plant them, because they can grow anywhere from 2 to 6 feet high. Once a milkweed is fully matured, it develops a thick, green stalk, and the flower can have a pink, purple or orange color.16
To begin growing milkweed, place seeds in a pot or a garden plot during the fall, just before a killing frost arrives. This allows the seeds to germinate naturally during the cold season, so they can begin to sprout when spring comes. Milkweed seeds need cool soil to germinate properly, and using the frost to your advantage is an economical method.17
A few weeks after germination, the seedlings will start to appear. Throughout this time, keep the soil damp to provide hydration. Be careful not to overwater the soil, as this can cause fungus to grow on the budding plants. Make sure that they are placed in an area with lots of sun as well.18
Once the milkweeds have fully grown, you only have a small window of time to harvest high-quality seeds. Once the pods begin to break, harvest them right away and dry them in an open area for a day or two, then remove the silk-like material by hand. Store the seeds in an airtight container and place them in a dry location or the refrigerator.19 If you’re going to eat the pods, harvest them when they are less than 2 inches long, then repeat the same drying process.20
Cooking With Milkweed: Sautéed Milkweed Pods
You can try this recipe as a good way to introduce yourself to milkweed. It contains a mixture of various spices to create a great snack that can be shared with your friends during a party or a gathering.21
2 dozen whole milkweed pods, each less than 2 inches in length
Place the pods in a 4-quart saucepan and cover with cold water. Boil the pods for 10 minutes, then drain. Repeat the process once more.
Place 1 cup of coconut flour in a plastic bag. Place six pods in the bag and shake to coat them. Take the pods out and spread on a towel. Repeat the process, adding more flour as necessary until all of the pods are coated.
In a large skillet, melt the butter in the oil until it foams. Add the pods and allow them to cook undisturbed for three to four minutes until the undersides get a bit of a golden crust. Stir and cook another three to minutes until they become tender.
Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve warm.
This recipe makes four servings.
Beware, Milkweed Contains Dangerous Toxins
Milkweed can be supplemental to your health, but it can also be dangerous to animals and humans when consumed incorrectly. Pets are generally safe from the effects of milkweed as they rarely consume the plant. However, farm animals have a higher risk of milkweed poisoning.22,23
Currently, 76 species of milkweed are considered poisonous, but not all of them have the same level of toxicity. All of them contain cardiac glycosides, a group of toxins that are known to produce the following symptoms when consumed in large amounts:24
Loss of muscle control
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farm animals are the most common victims of milkweed. Livestock such as sheep, cattle and horses may consume the plant during times when quality forage is scarce. If you’re a rancher, remove milkweed around your land to protect your flock or herd.25
To make milkweed safe for human consumption, it needs to be boiled in hot water several times (make sure to discard the used water) before it can be cooked. The recipe above follows this safety measure. Boiling removes the water-soluble toxins, making the plant safe for eating.26 But if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above after eating milkweed (even if prepared correctly), stop and visit a doctor immediately.
Milkweed Can Be Beneficial as Long as You Prepare It Correctly
Adding milkweed to your regular diet can be beneficial to your health. Just make sure to boil the plant properly several times, and don’t forget to discard the water you used before repeating the process. As long as you follow this precaution, milkweed should be safe to consume.
At the Trump rally in Tampa, Florida, yesterday (video)large number of people showed up wearing Q garb, hats, , a shirts, even a Q cutout (or ten; or maybe 1,000). Well, MSM has gone “nuts” about this, and in another post I will show what Q posted today about that (full on “attack mode” on Q). Then today, a reporter actually asked a question about those “Q people”. I’ve linked the video below to 18:21 where the question is asked (and Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives a non-specific reply).
Someone, somewhere knows that happened to “Alex”. Someone, somewhere knows what happened to her car. Someone, somewhere needs to contact the local police in Kalispell, Montana.
Now, Flathead Lake, Montana, is a more likely scene for a bear attack than a kidnapping by human traffickers, but if statistics are to be believed, human traffickers deliberately pray upon small town girls and children, because they are less guarded.
Neither they nor their friends and family members are expecting such an attack, so are not as watchful or suspicious of strangers.
A girl like “Alex” is likely to be friendly and to stop if she saw someone apparently stranded along the road, because people in remote areas have to stand together against the forces of nature — cold, starvation, wild animals, distance between towns— are common threats in small communities throughout America.
That’s a good part of our tradition. Unfortunately, it’s one that human traffickers are known to be exploiting to their advantage.
They work in teams like prostitutes and pimps. Often, it’s a woman with a small child and a small, older car, apparently broken down by the side of the road. Often, it’s late at night, or storming, or both. Who wouldn’t stop?
But the proper step to take is to report the breakdown using your phone. Call it in to the local police. And keep going.
Why? Because just up the road, another car may be parked, hidden behind some trees. And that car has different occupants. Usually big, ugly, mean men who have used the woman and child as “bait”. They have a video cam in the “bait” car, which keeps them informed of what is happening.
As soon as a likely victim stops, they are on it. They pull out of their hiding place — maybe a mile up the road, and they stop as if to offer help — and they attack and “roll up” the victim.
It happens amazingly fast. Just a matter of less than a minute, and poof! — one guy has the victim’s car, another guy has the “bait car” and another guy is driving the “pick up” car — and all three are down the road to places unknown faster than you can draw breath.
Why would people act in gangs like this and do something like this? Money.
As long as there are slave markets in the world, as long as there are Mexican bordellos, as long as there are producers of child porn, etc., etc., etc., there will be markets for this. And the only way to shut it down is to shut the users and purveyors down.
And please, teach your children to be safe? Make sure they know how to protect themselves? And what to protect themselves from? —-To be street savvy, even in places like Flathead, Montana?
Call, don’t stop.
Don’t travel alone, if you can help it — especially young women.
Keep a sharp eye on the kids, your own and everyone else’s.
If you see anything the least little bit suspicious, take down license plates and make the effort to observe details closely.
Men — you are supposed to be the guardians around here. Gird up and take notice.
Contrary to the anti-gun idiots, if every sane, responsible American was packing a gun and knew how to use it, we’d have a lot less crime and a lot fewer criminals, because the risk of being shot dead would soon overrate the lure of $100,000 “Grab” split four ways.
Alex is still missing. Whereabouts and fate unknown.
Update Just In — About Alex
Wednesday, August 01, 2018 7:03 PM
“Our family would like to thank everyone who prayed for Alex and shared our post and put up flyers. Alex Nicole Beltran was found this morning inside her car in a pond. We are devastated and ask to please give us time to grieve. All proceeds for our go fund me page will be used for her funeral. I will post again with more information. –“
So, Alex is confirmed a victim of accident and not human trafficking, but perhaps this story run earlier today will serve a good purpose to remind us all of safety issues and draw attention to the fondness of human traffickers for small rural communities.
We all send our sympathy. At least, the pain of not knowing is over.
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