The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center

By Bob Moser | 21 March 2019

THE NEW YORKER — In the days since the stunning dismissal of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on March 14th, I’ve been thinking about the jokes my S.P.L.C. colleagues and I used to tell to keep ourselves sane. Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin–designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble—“Until justice rolls down like waters”—and intone, in our deepest voices, “Until justice rolls down like dollars.” The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics; like most liberals, our view of the S.P.L.C. before we arrived had been shaped by its oft-cited listings of U.S. hate groups, its reputation for winning cases against the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, and its stream of direct-mail pleas for money to keep the good work going. The mailers, in particular, painted a vivid picture of a scrappy band of intrepid attorneys and hate-group monitors, working under constant threat of death to fight hatred and injustice in the deepest heart of Dixie. When the S.P.L.C. hired me as a writer, in 2001, I figured I knew what to expect: long hours working with humble resources and a highly diverse bunch of super-dedicated colleagues. I felt self-righteous about the work before I’d even begun it.

The first surprise was the office itself. On a hill in downtown Montgomery, down the street from both Jefferson Davis’s Confederate White House and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where M.L.K. preached and organized, the center had recently built a massive modernist glass-and-steel structure that the social critic James Howard Kunstler would later liken to a “Darth Vader building” that made social justice “look despotic.” It was a cold place inside, too. The entrance was through an underground bunker, past multiple layers of human and electronic security. Cameras were everywhere in the open-plan office, which made me feel like a Pentagon staffer, both secure and insecure at once. But nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff—“the help,” one of my black colleagues said pointedly. The “professional staff”—the lawyers, researchers, educators, public-relations officers, and fund-raisers—were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers, including me, were openly gay.

During my first few weeks, a friendly new co-worker couldn’t help laughing at my bewilderment. “Well, honey, welcome to the Poverty Palace,” she said. “I can guaran-damn-tee that you will never step foot in a more contradictory place as long as you live.” […]

SPLC Implodes: President and Legal Director Resign Amid Sexual Misconduct Scandal

By Tyler Durden | 23 March 2019

ZERO HEDGE — The Southern Poverty Law Center — the “vicious left-wing attack dog” used by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon to identify “hate groups” — is unraveling.

A week after co-founder Morris Dees was ousted over sexual misconduct claims — with two dozen employees signing a letter of concern over “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism,” the head of the SPLC, Richard Cohen, as well as the organization’s legal director, Rhonda Brownstein, resigned on Friday. 

Morris Dees, Richard Cohen, Rhonda Brownstein

Cohen had been with the organization 33 years and was one of its most prominent figures. […]

Weekly Health Quiz: Measles, Agriculture and Carbon Dioxide

1 The following statement is False, having no scientific evidence to support it:

  • Switching to a ketogenic diet can cause a condition known as “keto crotch”

    “Keto crotch” is fake news, based on a handful of anecdotes from old reddit discussion boards. There is no medical evidence to suggest nutritional ketosis can cause offensive vaginal odors. Learn more.

  • Nutritional ketosis mimics the life span-extending properties of fasting
  • A ketogenic diet improves glucose metabolism, lowering your risk for Type 2 diabetes
  • A ketogenic diet can help lower inflammation in your body

2 Estimates suggest how great a percentage of all processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients?

  • 10 to 20 percent
  • 70 to 80 percent

    According to the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, 70 to 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. contain genetically engineered ingredients, such as GMO corn, soy, canola, high fructose corn syrup and cotton seed/vegetable oil. Learn more.

  • 40 to 50 percent
  • 90 to 100 percent

3 The following is the only way to gain lifelong immunity against measles infection:

  • Being vaccinated with a single dose of measles vaccine
  • Receiving two or three doses of measles vaccine
  • Recovery from measles infection

    Recovery from measles infection confers lifelong naturally acquired immunity. There is evidence that whatever immunity the measles vaccine provides can wane over time and wear off completely within a decade or two. Learn more.

  • 100 percent of a population being vaccinated against measles with one or more doses of measles vaccine

4 The following is not a sign or symptom of a stroke, requiring immediate medical attention:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech impairment
  • Chest pain

    A helpful acronym of the most common symptoms of a stroke is FAST: F — Face drooping, A — Arm weakness, S — Speech impairment and T — Time to call 911! Strokes are sometimes referred to as “brain attacks” (instead of “heart attacks”) because they occur when a blood clot blocks an artery or blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to your brain opposed to your heart. Learn more.

5 Which of the following is not a sustainable form of agriculture?

  • Monocrop farming

    To be sustainable, a farming system needs to harness mutually beneficial relationships to create a synergistic, self-supporting ecosystem. Regenerative organic farming, permaculture systems and biodynamic farming systems all accomplish this to varying degrees. Monocrop agriculture is not sustainable in the long term, as it destroys soil and reduces biodiversity. Learn more.

  • Permaculture
  • Biodynamic farming
  • Regenerative organic farming

6 The following strategy has been shown to effectively reverse desertification and restore fertility to unproductive land:

  • Drip irrigating the land with desalinated water
  • Increasing the number of grazing livestock on the land

    Increasing the number of grazing livestock and implementing a holistic herd and land management system has been shown to reverse desertification and restore fertility to unproductive land. Learn more.

  • Burning the vegetation to boost carbon content in the soil
  • Growing drought tolerant genetically engineered crops

7 The following is key to sequestering excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in our soils:

  • Eliminating more cattle and other livestock
  • Planting more trees and bushes along busy travel lanes
  • Adding more grazing animals

    Properly grazing animals (as opposed to animals imprisoned in factory farms) are the key to sequestering excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing this carbon in the world’s 4 billion acres of rangelands and pasturelands. Learn more.

  • Eliminating air travel

Eight Signs You Might Be B12 Deficient

When you experience symptoms like fatigue, numbness, faint nausea, foggy vision or an increased tendency toward forgetfulness, you might entertain many different scenarios. Some of them might be scary, but a possibility you may not consider is that of a vitamin B12 (aka cobalamin) deficiency.

Nearly half of the American population has less-than-stellar blood levels of vitamin B12, but the symptomology is so varied that it’s hard to pin down just how many people suffer from it, according to Harvard Health, which describes the “sneaky” symptomology behind a 62-year-old man’s seemingly unrelated symptoms, developed over two months. According to his case report, published in The New England Journal of Medicine,1 he had:

“Numbness and a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in his hands, had trouble walking, experienced severe joint pain, began turning yellow, and became progressively short of breath … It could have been worse — a severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more.”2

It’s problematic that symptoms like the above may cause people to focus on treating them instead of investigating the source of the problem. Sooner or later, though, unless it’s met head-on, a shortage of vitamin B12 in your system can be so devastating that serious disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease and irreversible brain damage could take their toll.

Low Vitamin B12 Symptoms Not so Unrelated After All

The list of symptoms that could be placed on a B12 deficiency’s proverbial doorstep is a long one, but many symptoms are associated with your central nervous system. Too little B12 in your system might also resonate if you’ve experienced poor vision, weakness, tingling in your hands or feet and incidences of “clumsiness.” Eight common signs that indicate low B12 levels are:

Fatigue

Anemia

Nausea

Digestive issues

Weakness

Skin infections

Mental confusion

Nerve problems

But it’s also important to understand that several areas of the body can be adversely affected with a vitamin B12 deficiency, and that while many of the symptoms may seem unrelated, as the saying goes, one thing often leads to another.

Low B12 Can Cause Anemia, Which Has Its Own Set of Symptoms

As is true for every human, vitamin B12 is necessary to keep your nervous system healthy, as well as to make DNA, which is the genetic material in all cells.3 B12 is also needed to produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body.

But with a shortage of B12, many of your red blood cells are abnormally formed and/or too large, so they can’t carry oxygen; the process is disrupted. Too few red blood cells or an abnormally low amount of hemoglobin in individual red blood cells causes anemia, one of the most common and noticeable signs that a shortage is becoming a problem.4

Anemia can cause some of the previously listed symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, cold hands and feet, pale skin and chest pain, which occur because your heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through your body, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reports.5 In turn, this can lead to irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia, enlarged heart and even heart failure.6

Recognizing B12 deficiency sooner rather than later is crucial, as left unchecked it can lead to permanent damage in your body.7 According to the Linus Pauling Institute,8 a B12 deficiency may also be culpable in several other serious diseases and conditions, including:

Breast cancer9

Chronic stomach inflammation10

Depression11

Neural tube defects12

Osteoporosis13

Gastric cancer14

Thyroid dysfunction15

DNA damage16

How Does Low B12 Cause ‘Pins and Needles,’ Jaundiced Skin and Dementia?

Because B12 — and a lack thereof — is closely associated with your nervous system, the sign known as “pins and needles” is one that indicates a nerve issue that should be addressed as soon as possible, and shows how interconnected your body’s functions are.

Because vitamin B12 is important for the maintenance of your central nervous system, including the conduction of nerve impulses and producing the myelin sheath, it protects and “insulates” your nerves. Without this protective insulation, your nerves can be damaged, leading to symptoms like “pins and needles” in your hands and feet, as well as central and peripheral nervous system damage.17

If you’ve noticed that your skin has a pale or jaundiced cast, it’s a warning sign that your body is unable to produce an adequate number of red blood cells. You may not have thought about it, but it’s the red blood cells circulating under your skin that give it its healthy color.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, which can weaken your blood cells, after which other symptoms begin appearing. When your liver breaks down red blood cells, it releases bilirubin, a brownish substance that lends your skin a jaundiced appearance, often seen in infants.18

As if these problems weren’t enough, people with low levels of B12 may also suffer problems with clear thinking, which later turns into the condition doctors call cognitive impairment or dementia.19

The symptoms often become evident when someone has reasoning difficulties and memory loss, but often, that is what is treated rather than exploring the possibility of a B12 deficiency, which could alleviate the symptoms if addressed.

An all-encompassing review in Australia in 2012 revealed associations between low vitamin B12 levels and neurodegenerative disease. A total of 43 studies revealed that “subclinical low-normal ranges are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease.”20 Another study notes:

“Vitamin B12 deficiency should always be looked for when a patient presents with memory loss, since it is generally reversible with treatment. Many neuropsychiatric symptoms have been observed, and many in patients who do not have a megaloblastic anemia.

These include memory loss, psychosis including hallucinations and delusions, fatigue, irritability, depression and personality changes.”21

A B12 Deficiency Often Shows Up in Your Mouth

One symptom of anemia that often shows up are mouth ulcers, sometimes known as canker sores or aphthous ulcers, small yellow or white ulcers that can appear on your gums or just inside your lip. While they usually clear up in a week or two, they’re often quite painful.

But a B12 deficiency can cause other symptoms in your mouth as well, including on your tongue. One study relates the experience of a middle-aged female patient — a common demographic for her symptoms — with a persistent burning sensation on her tongue for several months.

Diagnosed with glossitis, which causes a noticeably swollen, smooth, red tongue, she was given a single injection of vitamin B12, which “resulted in complete resolution of her symptoms and the normal clinical appearance of her tongue after three days.”22

Low B12 Carries Increased Risk for Infection by Two Potentially Deadly Pathogens

People with deficiency in vitamin B12 are at a higher risk of infections caused by two potentially deadly pathogens. Findings of a study published in the journal PLOS Genetics23 involved 1 millimeter-long (pencil tip-sized) nematodes or worms called Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), one of the world’s most basic organisms.

Vital to the study was that nematodes share an interesting characteristic with humans: They can’t produce their own vitamin B12, either. As reported by MedIndia, the study involved two worm populations: one with and one without a diet sufficient in B12, showing that a B12-deficient diet harms the worm’s health at a cellular level by reducing its ability to metabolize branched-chain amino acids (BCAA):

“The research showed that the reduced ability to break down BCAAs led to a toxic buildup of partially metabolized BCAA byproducts that damaged mitochondrial health … ‘We used C. elegans to study the effect of diet on a host and found that one kind of food was able to dramatically increase resistance to multiple stressors — like heat and free radicals — as well as to pathogens,’ said [researcher Natasha Kirienko].”24

Many labs around the world use C. elegans to study the effects of disease. By feeding the worms E. coli, a common and sometimes harmful gut bacteria, and switching between E. coli strain OP50 and strain HT115, the worms’ stress tolerance was “dramatically altered,” Kirienko said. “We found that switching between E. coli strain OP50 and strain HT115 dramatically altered the worm’s stress tolerance.” Co-author Alexey Revtovich noted:

“The key difference between the two diets is the ability of HT115 and OP50 to acquire B12 from the environment … We showed that HT115 is far more efficient at this, making about eight times as much of the protein that it needs to harvest B12 as compared to OP50.”25

Significantly, the team also found that C. elegans on an HT115 diet had the ability to resist infection by another deadly human pathogen, Enterococcus faecalis, a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections and recognized by the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a superbug.26

Kirienko noted that the B12 finding surprised the research team. They noticed the effect when they studied “the mechanisms of pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), a potentially deadly disease in both worms and humans that infects some 51,000 U.S. hospital patients each year,”27 according to the CDC.28

Higher Risks and How to Optimize Your Vitamin B12 Levels

Some people have a greater risk than others for vitamin or mineral deficiencies, but in this case vegans and vegetarians are at particular risk because B12 is derived from animal products. Additionally, older adults and people with gastrointestinal and malabsorption issues are also at risk.

Studies have also shown that those on metformin (for diabetes) and prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors (for stomach acid) are also at an increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, leading researchers to suggest “it seems prudent to monitor vitamin B12 levels periodically in patients taking metformin.”29

Because it’s not manufactured by your body, vitamin B12 must come from another source — namely food and supplements. That said, good sources for cobalamin or vitamin B12 include:

Grass fed organic beef and beef liver

Lamb

Venison

Scallops

Organic, pastured chicken and eggs

Raw organic, grass fed milk

Nutritional yeast

As for supplementation, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),30 the average person age 14 and older should get 2.4 micrograms (mcg — one-millionth of a gram31) of vitamin B12 per day; pregnant women should get 2.6 mcg; and breastfeeding women should get 2.8 mcg. Newborns and children up to age 13 require between 0.4 and 1.8 mcg.

The type of a vitamin B12 supplement you should take is also something to consider. Between cyanocobalamin, the synthetic form,32 and methylcobalamin, which is the naturally occurring form found in food, methylcobalamin is the better choice, one reason being that your body retains it in greater amounts.33

Three Nutritional Supplements That Can Lower Your Cardiovascular Disease Risk if You Have Elevated TMAO Levels

In recent years, research has suggested trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) might be a therapeutic target for insulin resistance and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. As noted in one 2017 scientific review:1

“Through the digestion of animal protein and other constituents of animal products, the commensal bacteria in the gut (the gut microbiota) forms metabolites that can contribute to the development of both insulin resistance and cancer.

Trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) is such a molecule and has recently drawn a lot of attention as it may be a risk factor for — and a link between — the gut microbiota and cardiovascular and renal disease.

Further, TMAO is anticipated to have significance as a biomarker of — or even an independent risk factor for — other undesirable conditions, including insulin resistance … TMAO originates from a precursor, trimethylamine (TMA) that is a metabolite of various precursors; mainly choline and carnitine from ingested foods.”

In a brand-new paper2 led by James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., who is also the coauthor of my latest book, “Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health,” we show how the likely true cause of elevated TMAO levels — which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) — is hepatic insulin resistance.

Moreover, the paper shows that krill oil, astaxanthin, fish oil and berberine may be among some of the best supplemental strategies for those with high TMAO levels after diet optimization, as it is simply a reflection of insulin resistance in the liver.

DiNicolantonio has a new book called “The Longevity Solution,” with Dr. Jason Fung, which takes a deep dive into the benefits of omega-3s, including fish and krill oil.

The Longevity Solution

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

What Causes Elevated TMAO Levels?

As noted earlier, TMAO is created when gastrointestinal bacteria metabolize dietary choline and carnitine found in eggs, liver, meat and fish, just to name a few. The bacteria turn choline and carnitine into trimethylamine, which is subsequently absorbed and oxidized to TMAO with the aid of flavin monooxygenases in your liver, primarily FMO3.

Flavin monooxygenases are a family of enzymes that oxidize xenosubstrates, thereby allowing the compounds to be excreted. Because choline and carnitine raises TMAO, which is thought to be a risk factor for CVD and Type 2 diabetes, some recommend limiting dietary and supplementary intake of these nutrients. However, DiNicolantonio and his coauthors point out there’s a significant flaw in this theory, stating:3

“[N]utritional epidemiology fails to incriminate dietary choline as a CV risk factor; supplemental carnitine is known to be highly protective in patients with vascular disease; and fish, the richest dietary source of preformed TMAO, is also protective. 

Hence, TMAO, at least in the moderate concentrations seen in those without severe renal dysfunction, is not a mediating risk factor for vascular disease, but rather serves as a marker for factors that promote vascular disease and diabetes.

Impaired renal function is one of these factors, but not the sole one. The possibility that certain GI bacteria that are adept at generating trimethylamine are also harmful to vascular and metabolic health, remains undocumented. Factors that increase hepatic FMO3 therefore fall under suspicion.

Indeed, subnormal hepatic insulin activity associated with hepatic insulin resistance boosts hepatic FMO3 expression. Hepatic insulin resistance can result from metabolic syndrome and visceral obesity, and may reflect suboptimal activity of adiponectin or glucagon-like peptide-1 — all of which can play mediating roles in CV disease and diabetes. 

Diets, nutraceuticals and medications which combat hepatic insulin resistance may therefore be useful for alleviating the health risks associated with elevated TMAO.”

Elevated TMAO — A Risk Factor for CVD and Metabolic Disease?

As noted in the featured paper, the evidence linking elevated TMAO with CVD risk is mixed. Several studies4,5,6,7 have concluded that elevated blood levels of TMAO is predictive of major adverse cardiovascular events in people preexisting heart disease, while others have failed to find support for this connection.8,9

Still, a meta-analysis10 of 11 studies published in 2018 found higher TMAO levels were associated with a 23 percent increased risk for cardiovascular events and a 55 percent increase in all-cause mortality. Animal studies cited in DiNicolantonio’s paper also suggest that very high oral doses of TMAO or its precursors, phosphatidylcholine and carnitine, can have a pro-atherogenic effect.

Case-controlled epidemiological studies have also linked high TMAO to a significantly increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. “Indeed, the correlations between TMAO and diabetes risk appear to be stronger than those for cardiovascular risk,” DiNicolantonio writes.

That said, there’s little evidence to suggest that dietary intake of TMAO or its precursors actually promotes CVD, provided your renal function is normal. On the contrary, choline is crucial not only for your brain, nervous system and cardiovascular function but also for healthy liver function and detoxification.

In fact, it appears to be essential for the prevention of fatty liver disease and is found in high amounts in foods such as fish, which are known for their beneficial influence on CVD — in part due to the benefits of long-chain omega-3 fats. DiNicolantonio writes:11

“With respect to carnitine and CV risk, a meta-analysis12 of prospective clinical trials in patients who had recently experienced a myocardial infarction concluded that carnitine supplementation is markedly protective with respect to total mortality, ventricular arrhythmias and new-onset angina …

Clinical trials13,14 have also reported favorable effects of supplemental carnitine or carnitine esters on angina, intermittent claudication and heart failure.

Moreover, rodent atherogenesis studies, in which carnitine has been administered in doses reasonably proportional to the supplementation doses used clinically, have found that carnitine is anti-atherogenic, despite its propensity to raise TMAO …

It is therefore reasonable to suspect that moderately elevated TMAO, rather than being a mediator of the associated CV risk, is a marker for factors which both promote CV events and increase plasma TMAO.”

Poor Liver Function Significantly Raises TMAO

According to DiNicolantonio, a key factor appears to be insulin resistance in the liver, which has been shown to significantly elevate TMAO. He writes:15

“TMAO arises when dietary choline and carnitine is metabolized by gastrointestinal bacteria to yield trimethylamine, which is then absorbed and oxidized to TMAO by hepatic flavin monooxygenases (FMO), primarily FMO3 … subnormal hepatic insulin activity, as found in those with hepatic [liver] insulin resistance, boosts hepatic FMO3 expression and hence TMAO levels.”

DiNicolantonio goes on to propose that elevated FMO3 activity in the liver can be a reflection of insulin resistance in the organ, which in turn influences cardiovascular health risk. This, he believes, “can rationalize the epidemiology of TMAO.” He explains:16

“Hepatic insulin resistance, and its common concomitant hepatic steatosis, are associated with increased cardiovascular risk, as well as elevated risk for Type 2 diabetes — risks likewise associated with elevated TMAO.

It is therefore straightforward to postulate that TMAO can serve as a marker for hepatic insulin resistance, and that this explains at least a portion of the risk for cardiovascular events and diabetes linked to TMAO.” 

How to Reverse Insulin Resistance in Your Liver

If elevated TMAO is indeed a reflection of hepatic insulin resistance that raises your CVD risk, what can you do to correct it and lower your risk? For starters, you’d want to normalize your weight.

Two strategies that are most helpful in this regard are a cyclical ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. For best results, they should be done together. You can learn more about these strategies in the hyperlinked articles provided. Certain supplements can also be very beneficial in the treatment of hepatic insulin resistance, including:17

Berberine, which functions much like metformin, a commonly used medication for the treatment of diabetes. Both work, at least in part, by activating adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Known as the “metabolic master switch,” AMPK is an enzyme that controls how energy is produced in your body and how it’s used by the cells.

By activating this enzyme, berberine and metformin helps regulate the biological activities that normalize lipid, glucose and energy imbalances. Berberine, used in Chinese medicine to treat diabetes, has also been shown to counteract hepatic insulin resistance in diabetic rodents.18,19

Astaxanthin, a powerful carotenoid antioxidant, is a PPARalpha agonist with activity similar to that of the cholesterol-lowering drug fenofibrate. PPARalpha agonists indirectly stimulate AMPK in your liver and have been shown to alleviate hepatic insulin resistance in animals fed diets high in fat or fructose, and lower the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with metabolic syndrome.

Krill oil is another alternative, as it contains the esterified form of astaxanthin, which increases its bioavailability, along with long-chain omega-3 fats essential for good health, including heart health. As noted in DiNicolantonio’s paper:

“Krill oil, even when compared to fish oil, suppresses hepatic steatosis in rodents. This may be due to its astaxanthin content, which is not found in fish oil.


Moreover, krill oil, but not fish oil, reduces diacylglycerol and ceramide content in the liver. The phospholipid fraction of krill oil has also been noted to reduce hepatic glucose production, unlike fish oil.

Thus, krill oil, being a source of highly bioavailable form of astaxanthin, appears to have additional advantages for reducing hepatic steatosis and hepatic insulin resistance compared to fish oil.”

Summary Overview of Findings

In summary, while there’s some evidence to suggest elevated TMAO levels may be a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and an increased risk for cardiovascular events, nutritional epidemiology studies have not been able to demonstrate a detrimental impact of dietary choline and carnitine, from which TMAO is synthesized.

Nor do studies support the notion that dietary sources of TMAO, such as fish, have a detrimental impact on cardiovascular health. Quite the contrary. DiNicolantonio’s paper proposes that the only time elevated TMAO may in fact be a risk factor for CVD is when it’s accompanied by poor liver function, and elevated TMAO may itself be a sign of poor liver function.

The good news is you can improve liver function and lower your TMAO level with the help of nutritional supplements; berberine, astaxanthin and krill oil being three of the primary ones. DiNicolantonio writes:

“In conclusion, there is reason to suspect that the elevated risk for vascular events and Type 2 diabetes associated with elevated TMAO, after correction for recognized risk factors, is mediated largely by hepatic insulin resistance and the metabolic factors which induce it …

[I]f this analysis is accurate, various measures which alleviate hepatic insulin resistance — correction of visceral obesity, activation of AMPK with metformin or berberine, activation of PPARalpha with fenofibrate or astaxanthin, amplification of adiponectin production with pioglitazone or plant-based diets, and clinical strategies which boost the production or bioactivity of GLP-1 — could be expected to decrease elevated TMAO while also decreasing the risk for vascular events and diabetes associated with this risk factor. Figure 1 summarizes these relationships …

Importantly, this analysis does not exclude the possibility that TMAO might be directly pathogenic at the very elevated levels typically seen in severe kidney dysfunction. Indeed, cell culture studies suggest that TMAO can be pro-inflammatory in the plasma concentrations achieved during kidney failure. It generally is wise to minimize the consumption of nitrogenous compounds in this context.”

TMAO

Figure 1: Measures that increase adiponectin and GLP-1 activity, control metabolic syndrome, and
activate hepatic AMPK or PPARalpha, may decrease elevated TMAO and associated vascular/metabolic risk.

Top Six Benefits of Colostrum

Your natural immune function is a key component of your health and disease prevention. An integral part of this system is your natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell important to your innate immune system.1 Your immune system has two branches — cell mediated immunity (innate) and humoral immunity (adaptive).

As you contract a viral illness, the pathogen infects your cells. Immediately, your cell mediated immune response activates NK cells2 along with chemicals to attract the cells to the site of infection. The white blood cells attack the viral cells and destroy them, thus clearing the virus from your body. During the recovery phase, your humoral immune system begins generating antibodies to prevent the same type of infection from occurring again.

Colostrum, the fluid produced by new mothers in the first day or two after birth, plays an integral part in supporting your NK cells,3 as well as affecting inflammation, metabolism and protecting against the development of cancerous growths.

Athletes report improved performance after using bovine colostrum supplements,4 and one of its components demonstrates the ability to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.5

NK Cells Important in the Prevention of Viral Diseases and Tumors

Before moving further into a discussion of the benefits of colostrum, it’s important to identify the function of NK cells in the immune system and in the prevention of viral diseases and tumors, as this is the foundation of many of the benefits of colostrum. A paper published in Nature describes the functions of NK cells as they are involved in viral disease and tumor treatment:6

“Natural killer (NK) cells are effector lymphocytes of the innate immune system that control several types of tumors and microbial infections by limiting their spread and subsequent tissue damage. . . NK cells can thus limit or exacerbate immune responses.

Although NK cells might appear to be redundant in several conditions of immune challenge in humans, NK cell manipulation seems to hold promise in efforts to improve hematopoietic and solid organ transplantation, promote antitumor immunotherapy and control inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.”

The process of targeting and killing aberrant viral and tumor cells is mediated by molecules stored in a secretory lysosome, or specialized organelle, found in the NK cells. However, NK cells are not antigen-specific, a process used by your humoral immune response. Instead the NK cells help reduce viral replication as the adaptive arm of your immune system creates antibodies.

A deficiency in NK cells may leave you susceptible to viral infections and, potentially, tumor formation.7,8 Although not antigen-specific, NK cells differentiate between normal healthy cells and aberrant cells, leading scientists to seek ways to enhance NK cell function as a way of improving the effectiveness of cancer treatments.9,10

A recent Stanford study11 discovered a biomarker predicting the susceptibility to flu. Using 52 individuals who volunteered to be infected with influenza, researchers evaluated the types of immune cells present prior to the introduction of the virus and found NK cells were consistently low in individuals exhibiting symptoms of flu and those with higher levels had a better immune response.12

Health Benefits of Colostrum

Many of the benefits of using a colostrum supplement are based on the cellular responses in your body originating from supporting your immune system. Multiple studies have evaluated the use of colostrum in raw milk, including the effects on body composition, metabolism, recovery from surgery and protection against viral diseases, including rotavirus responsible for diarrheal illnesses.13

Colostrum is a critical nutrient source for the development of infants. Feeding formula, which does not contain colostrum, is believed to increase an infant’s risk of Type 1 diabetes, childhood cancers, colitis, allergies and chronic infections.14

The bioactive molecules in colostrum helps modulate an infant’s immune system and avoid over growth of pathogenic microorganisms. In adults, colostrum has been shown to affect:15,16

Allergy and infection — In a mouse study,17 researchers supplemented the experimental group with colostrum and then infected the control group and experimental group with the influenza virus. The mice supplemented with colostrum lost less weight and had a lower viral burden in the lungs compared to the control group.

The researchers then used a primary culture of small intestine epithelial cells stimulated with colostrum and discovered an interaction was potentially dependent on the components of colostrum with receptors in the intestinal epithelium.18

In another study,19 50 percent of orally ingested bovine immunoglobulin G protein (IgG, an antibody molecule) has been recovered in feces having passed through the gastrointestinal tract. The recovered levels in infants are higher than adults, likely due to differences in intestinal conditions, including pH.

Researchers believe this indicates bovine IgG is functionally active throughout the intestinal tract, helping to prevent gastrointestinal tract infections and lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation.

IgG present in colostrum binds to human pathogens and allergens, neutralizing infection and limiting gastrointestinal inflammation. Researchers theorize the immunoglobulins may be a promising approach to supporting immune function and reducing allergic reactions.

Inflammation — Colostrum is rich in proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs), which have immune regulatory properties, appearing to restore balance and cellular functions. PRP has a regulatory activity in cytokine induction and inhibits the overproduction of reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide.20

PRPs also help relieve swelling by offsetting an overly active immune response and halting responses characteristic in rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.21 PRPs may also decrease the severity of an inflammatory disease by altering genetic expression.22

The polypeptides have been shown to improve cognition and behavior in older rats, humans and chickens.23 Additionally, the presence of lactoferrin in colostrum plays a role on the development of inflammation. This protein plays a crucial role in iron homeostasis24 and has been shown to inhibit autoimmune responses that trigger inflammation.25 Lactoferrin is a strong antioxidant aiding the body in detoxification and helping decrease the toxic load on your lymphatic system.26

Cancer — The extraordinary effect colostrum has on immunity has translated to the ability to help fight cancer. The combination of inhibiting autoimmune responses, reducing inflammation in the gut and reducing infections is part of the process. Bovine colostrum activates the production of GcMAF, responsible for repairing tissue damage and preventing the growth and spread of cancer.27

Metabolism — Colostrum has also been used in patients with insulin resistance, which can lead to liver injury. In one animal study,28 researchers evaluated the effect hyperimmune colostrum had on hepatic injury and insulin resistance after oral administration.

Glucose intolerance and liver enzymes improved and the mice experienced a reduction in serum tumor necrosis factor, suggesting hyperimmune colostrum preparations help reduce chronic inflammation, liver injury and insulin resistance associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Healthy gut — A critical action associated with colostrum growth factors is healing and prevention of damage to the gastrointestinal lining by maintaining tight junctions between the cells. Colostrum helps reduce symptoms of leaky gut syndrome,29 which allows large or partially digested food proteins to pass into the body and trigger an inflammatory response.

The antibodies and lactoferrin help maintain a healthy microbiome, largely responsible for your overall health and wellness.30 Lactoferrin also acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of specific good bacteria.31

Body composition — The high number of antioxidants and growth factors in bovine colostrum has made it a powerhouse for promoting muscle growth and healing ligaments and muscles after injury. Reduction in oxidative stress and overall damage after exercise has made it a supplement of choice for Olympic athletes to support their performance.32

In one study,33 athletes increased their lean muscle mass and performance after eight weeks of using colostrum supplements. The Center for Nutritional Research34 states the growth factors in colostrum are used by athletes to help burn fat, build strength, shorten recovery time and prevent illness after a vigorous exercise program.

In a consensus statement, the International Olympic Committee35 ruled colostrum is a superfood and a legal alternative to banned substances to improve athletic performance.

Veterinarians Use Colostrum to Treat Dogs and Horses

Veterinarians have been using bovine colostrum to treat dogs and horses therapeutically as it provides over 70 different growth factors for tissue repair. Dog owners have used colostrum to help reduce canine allergies, improve leaky gut and externally in the treatment of wounds.36 According to Biostar Whole Food supplements, it’s used:37

  • To support the immune system and homeostasis, especially when dogs and horses are experiencing stress-related immune issues
  • For tissue repair, wound healing and GI tract healing
  • For muscle restoration
  • For some senior animals who have ongoing issues

Hyperimmune Bovine Colostrum in Clinical Trials

Colostrum contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals used by the baby to help fight disease and nourish the body. Antibody levels in colostrum may be up to 100 times higher than levels in regular milk.38

Researchers have now created a special type of colostrum called hyperimmune bovine colostrum, produced after the cow receives a vaccination against a specific organism. The cow develops antibodies against the organism, which is then passed along in the colostrum.

Today, hyperimmune bovine colostrum is being used in clinical trials to test the treatment for diarrhea related to AIDS,39 graft-versus-host disease40 and Clostridium difficile.41

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug status42 to hyperimmune bovine colostrum. This gives drug manufacturers who invest special market advantages, such as permission to sell the drug without competition for seven years.

Steer Clear of Colostrum When You’re Fasting

It’s important to remember, while there are benefits to using colostrum, the product is rich in growth factors. Athletes use it to boost performance and it may be used to help treat wounds. This means, while you’re fasting and trying to induce autophagy, it’s important to steer clear of colostrum.

Autophagy is a process your body uses to help to clear damaged cells,43 including old cells no longer serving a functional purpose. The word is derived from Greek words “auto,” meaning self, and “phagy,” meaning eating. In recent studies researchers have observed how this process promotes longevity and benefits the nervous system, heart and metabolism.44

You may help induce autophagy through the practice of fasting, which helps clear old cells from your body and improve your overall health. The use of colostrum during this process is contraindicated, as the growth factors increase growth at the same time your body is attempting to clear old cells.

More Ways to Naturally Boost Your NK Cells

Researchers continue to place their hope in finding an effective flu vaccine, but you don’t need drug intervention to boost your NK cells and therefore your protection against virtually all viruses and malignancies. NK cells tend to lose utility with increasing age, leaving you more susceptible to disease. The medical term for this degeneration is “immune senescence.”

The good news is you may counteract this decline using a number of different strategies and lifestyle choices, one of which is using a colostrum supplement. However, there are 10 more strategies you’ll find in my previous article, “How to Improve Your Immune Function by Boosting Natural Killer Cells.”

State Senate Committee Unanimously Passes Bill to End Common Core

An Alabama Senate Committee unanimously passed a bill that would end Common Core in the state.

by Mike Maharrey

Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) introduced Senate Bill 119 (SB119) on March 19. The legislation would terminate Common Core standards in Alabama and replace them with the courses of study for math and English language arts that were in place immediately prior to Common Core, pending the adoption of new standards by the State Board of Education.

The bill would also bar the board from adopting or implementing any other national standards from any source or requiring the use of any assessments aligned with them.

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Education Policy passed SB119 by a 10-0 vote.

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FDA Committee Chair: “Congress is Owned by Pharma”

Dr. Raeford Brown is a pediatric anesthesia specialist at the UK Kentucky Children’s Hospital. He also chairs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Committee on Analgesics and Anesthetics.

Dr. Brown has been openly critical of the FDA and their lack of oversight on the pharmaceutical industry, claiming “Congress is owned by pharma.” (Source)

His comments were recently reported by Adriana Belmonte at Yahoo Finance.

“Pharmaceutical companies are under the spotlight with congressional hearings on the cost of drug prices and allegations of the industry’s role in the opioid crisis.

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