Dr. Bray Links

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mycoplasma Testing


The top three pathogens that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia patients on the Mycoplasma Registry test positive for using PCR blood tests:
  1. Mycoplasma fermentans (incognitus strain and various other strains) 
  2. Human Herpes Virus-6a (HHV-6a) 
  3. Chlamydia pneumoniae ("Chronic Chlamydia pneumoniae infection")
Others pathogens found:

  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Mycoplasma hominis
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Mycoplasma penetrans
  • Borrelia burgdorferi ("Chronic Lyme Disease" may cause or trigger fibromyalgia) 
  • Brucellosis ("Chronic Brucellosis")
Rickettsia Diseases:
  • Coxiella burnetii (Q-Fever and "Post-Q Fever Fatigue Syndrome") Staphylococcus
  • Epstein-Bar Virus (reactivation) 
  • Coxsackie B Viruses(1-6)("Chronic Coxsackie Infection" may cause or trigger fibromyalgia, myalgias and other diseases.) 
  • Parvovirus B19("Chronic Parovirus Infection" may cause or trigger fibromyalgia, arthralgia, arthritis) 
  • Enteroviruses (causes: "Chronic inflammatory muscle disease"or fibromyalgia) 
  • Cytomegalovirus 
  • Borna Disease virus 
  • Cytocidal Viruses 
  • Hepatitis C ("Chronic Hepatitis C" may cause or trigger fibromyalgia)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The Gulf War Mycoplasma Study showed that nearly all the Gulf War veterans who tested positive for mycoplasma infections were positive for Mycoplasma fermentans. Mycoplasma genitalium was also found and a very small percentage tested positive for Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

We recommend that all Gulf War veterans also get tested for: uranium poisoning from exposure to depleted uranium, antibodies to experimental vaccine adjuvants such as squalene, and if there has been any exposure to organophosphate pesticides or sarin nerve gas get tested for the blood enzyme, paraoxonase.

In addition, Veterans have experience long term side effects from prescription drugs such as:
pyridostigmine bromide, given to troops to protect against nerve gas, and the antimalarial drug Lariam (mefloquine).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


  • Mycoplasma penetrans
  • Mycoplasma pirum
  • Mycoplasma fermentans (incognitus strain)
  • Mycoplasma fermentans (various other strains)
  • Mycoplasma hominis
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Human Herpes Virus-6a (HHV-6a)
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Herpes Simplex virus
  • Enterovirus
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




If bitten by ticks or fleas carrying Borrelia burgdorferi you can develop traditional Lyme Disease, which is self-limiting and carried by a deer tick. Our experience with patients suggests that if the tick or flea also carries co-infections, such as Babesiosis or especially Mycoplasmas, you may develop "Chronic Lyme Disease" also known as "New Lyme Disease" as well as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune Diseases.

"Montana Lyme Disease" symptoms are similar to Lyme Disease. However, it is caused by a Lyme disease-like agent that has adapted to the Rocky Mountain wood ticks found in Montana and the Western United States.

"Chronic Lyme Disease" is a combination of the pathogen:
Lyme Disease and one or more of the following Co-infections:
Spirochetes (Borrelia bacteria):
Lyme Disease caused by three types of Spirochete Borrelia bacteria:
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (USA, UK, Europe)
Borrelia garinii (UK, Europe)
Borrelia afzelii. (UK, Europe)

Relapsing Fever caused by the spirochetes:
  • Borrelia hermsii 
  • Borrelia turicatae
  • Mycoplasma fermentans
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Chlamydia pneumoniae
Rickettsial Diseases: 
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 
  • Coxiella burnetti (Q-Fever and "Post-Q Fever Fatigue Syndrome")
  • Colorado Tick Fever
  • Eastern tick-borne Rickettsiosis 
  • Rickettsialpox
  • Tularemia (rabbit fever) 
  • Ehrlichiosis (caused by Ehrlichia, a rickettsia-like bacteria)
  • Anaplasmas (related to the genera Rickettsia and Ehrlichia)
  • Babesia microti 
  • Babesia WA-1
  • Hepatitis-C 
  • Bartonella henselae (cat scratch fever)
  • Bartonella quintana (trench fever)
  • Viral Meningitis

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

POST-POLIO SYNDROME (PPS) & "Non-Paralytic" Polio

PCR Biopsy - An antibody test is not useful since it can not differentiate between an active infection, reactivated infection or antibodies from polio vaccines. However, a PCR test can be done on biopsied tissue and examined under a microscope to determine if there new polio virus or reactivated polio virus. Other viruses associated with PPS and NPP to test for:

ECHO viruses
Enteroviruses 71
Coxsackie virus A7 ("Polio virus Type IV")
Coxsackie B viruses (1-6)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


1. INDIVIDUAL: The most accurate of the PCR blood tests is the individual test for a specific species.

2. "MULTIPLEX": Multi-species ("3 in 1" or "4 in 1") mycoplasma PCR blood tests are less expensive but their accuracy rate may not be as high as individual species tests. Therefore, patients need to specifically ask the laboratories for the published accuracy rate of their "multiplex" tests. Additionally, some laboratories identify a combination of tests for one price as a "panel" when in fact they are performing a "multiplex" test.

3. ANTIBODY TEST: The least accurate of the blood tests. In the case of Mycoplasma fermentans (incognitus), antibodies are not produced until the patient is near death. However, antibodies to the other mycoplasma species are produced more readily.

4. CULTURE: Mycoplasmas are rarely successfully cultured, as they require specialized culture mediums and weeks of careful laboratory work. In some rare instances, culturing may be an alternative choice.



Thursday, April 23, 2015

The key to losing weight? "You can't outrun a bad diet"

If you're hitting the gym every day but don't see the numbers going down on the scale, you might be going about weight loss all wrong. New research says focusing solely on exercise is not the answer to losing weight.

In an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers say excess sugar and carbs -- not physical inactivity -- are primarily to blame for the growing obesity epidemic.

Researchers write that although regular exercise has many health benefits -- reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer by 30 percent -- it is our high caloric diets that lead to obesity.

Buzz Over Bee Health: New Pesticide Studies Rev Up Controversy

It's been about a decade since beekeepers and scientists began documenting a decline in honeybee populations and other important pollinators.

Even if you're not a lover of bees or honey, you should know that bees are critically important to our food supply. They help pollinate billions of dollars of crops each year, from apples and carrots to blueberries and almonds.

So if bees are threatened, ultimately, the production of these crops will be threatened, too.

Scientists have shown that a range of factors — from climate change to viruses to loss of habitat — are contributing to the global decline in bee health.

And two new studies published in the journal Nature add to the evidence that overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides may also be contributing to the decline of bees.

Neonics — as they're known for short — have become among the most widely used insecticides in the world. The pesticide is coated onto the seeds that farmers plant to grow their crops. These pre-treated seeds are used extensively in corn, soy and canola crops. In fact, it's estimated that treated seeds are used in more than 95 percent of the U.S. corn crop.

Part of the appeal for farmers is that neonics are simple to use. Farmers plant the seeds in the spring. "The neonicotinoid [which is water soluble] is then absorbed as the plant grows ... and protects the tissues," explains scientist Nigel Raine, who authored a News & Views piece that accompanies the new Nature studies.

This is effective at protecting farmers' crops from pests. But it may be risky for the bees, because "you get [neonicotinoid] residues in the nectar and pollen, even when the plant is flowering months later, potentially," Raine says.

And this means that when bees come to feed on the nectar of these flowering crops, they can be exposed to the pesticide.

Now, neonicotinoids, as the name suggests, are derived from nicotine and act as a poison to the nervous system. There's been a theory that bees might actually be repelled by it, and avoid plants grown from treated seed. But one of the new studies published Wednesday suggests this is not the case.

Researchers in the U.K. conducted a lab experiment to see which kind of food sources bees are drawn to. They offered bees a choice between a plain, sugary solution and one laced with neonics. They found the bees preferred the pesticide solution.

"I think it's a surprising result," Raine says, "because the data suggest that they can't taste the [pesticides], but they are still preferring them."

It's possible that they're getting a little buzz from the neonics, similar to the way a human may get a buzz from nicotine.

"It might be a similar pathway," says Raine. "They're getting some kind of positive reinforcement."

And the upshot is that bees could be opting for the food source that may harm them.

In a second study published in Nature, researcher Maj Rundlof and colleagues document the negative effects on the growth and reproduction of commercial bumble-bee colonies feeding on flowering canola plants that were grown from seeds coated with neonicotinoids.

The study also documents a negative affect on populations of wild bees — both in seed-treated fields and in adjacent meadows.

Interestingly, the researchers did not observe a negative effect on honeybee colonies.

Scientists for Bayer CropScience, a leading producer of neonics, wrote in a statement emailed to The Salt that the research "demonstrates yet again there is no effect of neonicotinoids on honeybee colonies in realistic field conditions, consistent with previous published field studies." The statement goes on to question the methodology and the "overall robustness" of the data on wild bees.

But given the accumulating body of evidence on the potential risk of neonics, there's a growing movement to restrict their use.

The European Union already has a temporary, partial ban in place restricting the use of some neonics.

And the Ontario government in Canada has proposed a regulation aimed at reducing the number of acres planted with neonic-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 percent by 2017. The proposal, which is currently open for a public comment period, would take effect in July.

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier this month that it is unlikely to approve new neonicotinoid pesticide uses.

"I definitely think we are overusing neonicotinoids," Christian Krupke, an associate professor in the department of entomology at Purdue University, tells us.

"We're simply using too many of these compounds, in such an indiscriminate way," he says. He points to a recent EPA review that concludes that using neonic-coated seeds offers little, if any, economic benefit to soybean farmers' economic bottom lines. In other words, some farmers are using pesticide-treated seeds they don't need.

And around the globe, there's concern that this may be undermining the health of bees.


Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide sickens wild bees

Understanding the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees is vital because of reported declines in bee diversity and distribution and the crucial role bees have as pollinators in ecosystems and agriculture. Neonicotinoids are suspected to pose an unacceptable risk to bees, partly because of their systemic uptake in plants, and the European Union has therefore introduced a moratorium on three neonicotinoids as seed coatings in flowering crops that attract bees. The moratorium has been criticized for being based on weak evidence, particularly because effects have mostly been measured on bees that have been artificially fed neonicotinoids. Thus, the key question is how neonicotinoids influence bees, and wild bees in particular, in real-world agricultural landscapes. Here we show that a commonly used insecticide seed coating in a flowering crop can have serious consequences for wild bees. In a study with replicated and matched landscapes, we found that seed coating with Elado, an insecticide containing a combination of the neonicotinoid clothianidin and the non-systemic pyrethroid β-cyfluthrin, applied to oilseed rape seeds, reduced wild bee density, solitary bee nesting, and bumblebee colony growth and reproduction under field conditions. Hence, such insecticidal use can pose a substantial risk to wild bees in agricultural landscapes, and the contribution of pesticides to the global decline of wild bees may have been underestimated. The lack of a significant response in honeybee colonies suggests that reported pesticide effects on honeybees cannot always be extrapolated to wild bees.


Bees prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides

The impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on insect pollinators is highly controversial. Sublethal concentrations alter the behaviour of social bees and reduce survival of entire colonies. However, critics argue that the reported negative effects only arise from neonicotinoid concentrations that are greater than those found in the nectar and pollen of pesticide-treated plants. Furthermore, it has been suggested that bees could choose to forage on other available flowers and hence avoid or dilute exposure. Here, using a two-choice feeding assay, we show that the honeybee, Apis mellifera, and the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, do not avoid nectar-relevant concentrations of three of the most commonly used neonicotinoids, imidacloprid (IMD), thiamethoxam (TMX), and clothianidin (CLO), in food. Moreover, bees of both species prefer to eat more of sucrose solutions laced with IMD or TMX than sucrose alone. Stimulation with IMD, TMX and CLO neither elicited spiking responses from gustatory neurons in the bees’ mouthparts, nor inhibited the responses of sucrose-sensitive neurons. Our data indicate that bees cannot taste neonicotinoids and are not repelled by them. Instead, bees preferred solutions containing IMD or TMX, even though the consumption of these pesticides caused them to eat less food overall. This work shows that bees cannot control their exposure to neonicotinoids in food and implies that treating flowering crops with IMD and TMX presents a sizeable hazard to foraging bees.



Declines in birds are associated with neonicotinoids

Recent studies have shown that neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects on non-target invertebrate species. Invertebrates constitute a substantial part of the diet of many bird species during the breeding season and are indispensable for raising offspring. We investigated the hypothesis that the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, has a negative impact on insectivorous bird populations. Here we show that, in the Netherlands, local population trends were significantly more negative in areas with higher surface-water concentrations of imidacloprid. At imidacloprid concentrations of more than 20 nanograms per litre, bird populations tended to decline by 3.5 per cent on average annually. Additional analyses revealed that this spatial pattern of decline appeared only after the introduction of imidacloprid to the Netherlands, in the mid-1990s. We further show that the recent negative relationship remains after correcting for spatial differences in land-use changes that are known to affect bird populations in farmland. Our results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.


Why Many Doctors Don't Follow 'Best Practices'

Brown says some doctors don't know the latest guidelines, which is somewhat understandable, since there can be hundreds to follow.

But often, he says, doctors order extra tests because they think someone down the line — another surgeon or anesthesiologist — will require them.

Sequencing the genes of a cancer cell turns up lots of genetic mutations — but some of them are harmless. The goal is to figure out which mutations are the troublemakers.

"[It becomes] this game of tag," he says, "where you're doing something because you think somebody else wants it, even if you don't really want it."

So, even in the midst of good science and a clear consensus on what should be done, a lot of physicians don't follow the "best practice" guidelines.

Now, imagine what happens when the science isn't clear.

That was the case Monday, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated its guidelines for breast cancer screening. After analyzing the best studies, the influential panel now suggests most women get a mammogram every other year, beginning at age 50. Guidance from this task force largely determines which tests will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies.

Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology still recommend annual screening mammograms for women beginning at age 40.

"There's really a lot more ambiguity about what is the right thing — what's appropriate [and] what's not appropriate," says Dr. Albert Wu, an internist and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In cases like these, Wu says, doctors are more likely to follow their gut instincts. And when that happens, fear often comes into play.

Imagine, for example, that a healthy, 40-year-old woman walks into your office and asks about a mammogram.

"If that woman were to develop breast cancer or to have breast cancer, you can imagine what might happen to you if you didn't order the test," Wu says. "Maybe you'd get sued."

Doctors often hear stories like this, he says, and that can affect their judgment.

"Emotion and recent events do influence our decision-making," he says. "We are not absolutely rational, decision-making machines."


Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Agreed to Remove Brominated Vegetable Oil

Bowing to public pressure, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have both agreed to remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from all of their beverages in the near future. BVO was first patented as a flame retardant, but has also been added to many American sodas for decades.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lowe’s Faces Mounting Pressure to Stop Selling Flooring Chemical

Home Depot, the world's largest home-improvement chain, announced Wednesday that it will phase out vinyl flooring with phthalates by the end of this year. The company made the move after working with environmental and health advocates, who found the chemical in flooring sold at Home Depot, Lowe's and Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc.

Now attention turns to Lowe's, the industry's second-largest chain, which is still reviewing research on the chemical. The company said it's working with suppliers to consider alternatives to offer the "best possible products."

A Billion Acts of Green | Earth Day Network

With over one billion actions to date, Earth Day Network's A Billion Acts of Green® – the largest environmental service campaign in the world – is steadily building commitments by individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to protect the planet.

A Billion Acts of Green® inspires and rewards both simple individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that reduce carbon emissions and support sustainability.
It's a global referendum on the environment.

Earth Day Network launched the campaign in 2010, Earth Day's 40th anniversary, with the goal of registering one billion actions in advance of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. We blew that goal out of the water and reached one billion actions on Earth Day, April 22, 2012. We showcased that achievement at Rio+20, demonstrating to world leaders the breadth of support for strong, coordinated action to tackle our most pressing environmental problems, such as climate change .

Now, we're carrying that momentum forward to reach the next billion. This time, we're channeling the power of A Billion Acts of Green® to move the ball forward on specific, timely issues. We'll introduce fresh sub-campaigns periodically to inspire targeted action.

People can still register all the other actions they're taking to protect the environment – from washing laundry in cold water and riding a bike instead of driving to planting a garden and volunteering with a community clean-up. And organizations can still register actions such as community environmental meetings, tree plantings, large-scale light bulb changes, workplace renewable energy retrofits, and Earth Day events.

The A Billion Acts of Green® website quantifies all these acts of green through an easy-to-use online registration tool.

Together, these actions add up to something big.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Genetic Tests for Breast and Ovarian Cancer Hold Promise

A Silicon Valley start-up with some big-name backers is threatening to upend genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancer by offering a test on a sample of saliva that is so inexpensive that most women could get it.


But the issue of who should be tested remains controversial. The effort of the start-up, Color Genomics, to “democratize access to genetic testing,” in the words of the chief executive, Elad Gil, is generating concern among some experts.

The company plans to charge $249 for an analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2, plus 17 other cancer-risk genes. That is one tenth the price of many tests now on the market.


Mutations in these genes increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and are tested:


Low-dose naltrexone therapy improves active Crohn's disease - PubMed

Endogenous opioids and opioid antagonists have been shown to play a role in healing and repair of tissues. In an open-labeled pilot prospective trial, the safety and efficacy of low-dose naltrexone (LDN), an opioid antagonist, were tested in patients with active Crohn's disease.

Eligible subjects with histologically and endoscopically confirmed active Crohn's disease activity index (CDAI) score of 220-450 were enrolled in a study using 4.5 mg naltrexone/day. Infliximab was not allowed for a minimum of 8 wk prior to study initiation. Other therapy for Crohn's disease that was at a stable dose for 4 wk prior to enrollment was continued at the same doses. Patients completed the inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire (IBDQ) and the short-form (SF-36) quality of life surveys and CDAI scores were assessed pretreatment, every 4 wk on therapy and 4 wk after completion of the study drug. Drug was administered by mouth each evening for a 12-wk period.

Seventeen patients with a mean CDAI score of 356 +/- 27 were enrolled. CDAI scores decreased significantly (P= 0.01) with LDN, and remained lower than baseline 4 wk after completing therapy. Eighty-nine percent of patients exhibited a response to therapy and 67% achieved a remission (P < 0.001). Improvement was recorded in both quality of life surveys with LDN compared with baseline. No laboratory abnormalities were noted. The most common side effect was sleep disturbances, occurring in seven patients.

LDN therapy appears effective and safe in subjects with active Crohn's disease. Further studies are needed to explore the use of this compound.

Kraft Dumps Artificial Food Dyes After Massive Petition!

Kraft is removing all artificial food dye from every kind of their mac & cheese by 2016. Millions of families across the United States and Canada will finally get the same safer versions that have been available in Europe for years. The double standard is finally ending for one iconic product and hopefully several more. A million boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese are sold everyday – that's a lot of artificial food dye finally being eliminated from the North American food supply. We have a lot more work to do in this area but we are making some serious progress.

Scientists find potential new therapy for hard-to-treat pediatric asthma patients

Study authors pinpointed a single gene that was consistently different between the good and bad responder groups, a finding that hinted as to why the non-responsive group wasn't affected by the corticosteroid treatment. That gene was VNN-1, whose pathway is characteristic of additional inflammatory diseases besides asthma, including inflammatory bowel disease and system lupus erythematosus.

To check their results, researchers conducted the study in mice with asthma, and knocked out their VNN-1 before administering the steroid treatment. Sure enough, the mice whose VNN-1 pathway was knocked out, disabling methylation, did not respond to the medication.

"Because of this mouse data, we found [the VNN-1 pathway] is not just a marker but has a causative role," Hershey said.

Drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) target the VNN-1 pathway, including one for kidney disease, so researchers say repurposing them may provide a therapy for hard-to-treat childhood asthma patients in the future. Hershey's team is now analyzing how those drugs affect mice with asthma.

The VNN-1 pathway also is involved in the synthesis of vitamin B. Humans aren't known to be vitamin B deficient, as diets typically are rich in the nutrient, but knocking out the VNN-1 pathway in mice causes a deficiency in other compounds synthesized in this area. In the researchers' current animal study, they are testing how supplementing the mice with those compounds may affect how they respond to corticosteroid treatment for asthma.

Latest Weight Loss Device Comes With a Hefty Price

The FDA has approved three devices for weight loss. Two of them, Lap-Band Gastric Banding System and Realize Gastric Band, work by physically restricting the ability for the stomach to contain food. The latest, the Enteromedics' Maestro Rechargeable System, uses an entirely different approach that involves electrically stimulating the vagus nerve to "tell" the brain that the stomach is full. The implanted components of the Maestro system include the neuroregulator, which generates the electrical impulses and is implanted subcutaneously, typically on the side, just above the ribs; and the leads and electrodes, which are placed in contact with the vagus nerve just above the junction of the esophagus and the stomach. The lead and electrodes are similar to the leads and electrodes used in cardiac pacemakers.

According to its FDA approval letter, the Maestro Rechargeable System is for adults who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 to 45 or those with a BMI of 35 to 39.9 with one or more obesity-related comorbid conditions. Patients are also supposed to have failed at least one supervised weight management program within the past five years. Maestro is not the weight-loss answer for the average hefty American. Someone who is six feet tall would need to weigh almost 300 pounds to have a BMI of 40.


Currently not yet available in the U.S. and not FDA approved:
"The Obalon balloon assists with weight loss by helping you feel full sooner and eat less. This, along with diet and exercise, jump-starts your efforts, proving that when it comes to losing weight, less is truly more.

With the Obalon balloon, you now have a non-surgical, reversible, weight loss option. It starts when you swallow a capsule containing a balloon attached to a thin tube. The balloon is inflated and the tube is quickly removed. It generally takes less than 15 minutes and no anesthesia is required. You’re now ready to begin working on your goals.

The Obalon balloon is lightweight and occupies space at the top of your stomach. Because you feel full faster, you eat less. Your doctor can add up to 2 more balloons to continue to facilitate weight loss. So it’s individualized for you. A short endoscopic procedure is used for removal."


Ezekiel Bread - Dr. Axe

How Did Our Ancestors Eat So Much Bread Without Any Problems?

The wheat our ancestors ate were more easily digested forms of wheat. In addition, their diets weren’t so laden with wheat and wheat byproducts. Instead, they ate a diverse range of plant foods. Lastly, our ancestors properly processed their grains, including wheat, before eating them.

Since then, both overexposure to wheat, in its many forms in processed foods, and the development of high-yield wheat crops contributes to rising cases of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. People with celiac disease develop and pass on genes that react drastically to even miniscule amounts of gluten.

In fact, modern wheat can affect all of us negatively. There are many compounds in wheat gluten that can damage us, including gliadins, gluteomorphins, glutenin, lectins and wheat germ agglutinin.

It’s the structure of these compounds that have detrimental health effects on humans because they create a negative reaction within the digestive tract for many people.

  • Gliadins make up the bulk of gluten and are very hard for us to digest. Worse, their amino acid structure is very similar to that of human organs, so when we develop antibodies to gliadins, our immune systems can attack our own tissues.
  • Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is a lectin that causes severe issues for people with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten. Sprouting wheat grains doesn’t eliminate this lectin. WGA isn’t checked for during gluten intolerance tests, and it can damage human tissues even when allergies or sensitivities aren’t present.

Studies suggest that sourdough bread fermentation can partially degrade gluten proteins in bread and pasta. That’s good news if you have gluten sensitivity because few gluten-free products are completely gluten-free and those that are lack nutritional value.

If you do have celiac disease, look for gluten-free products and those in which fermenting practices have been used. A 2012 study has found that sourdough fermentation can help reduce intestinal inflammation in those with celiac disease, and fermentation increases the nutrient value of foods.

How to Make Homemade Ezekiel Bread

Some people prefer to make their own sprouted bread to ensure they’re getting the freshest product with the best ingredients. If you’d like to try making your own sprouted bread, look for unprocessed, untreated whole grains in health food stores (usually in the bulk section) or try buying them online.

You can sprout almost any grain, but you need to start with whole grain berries and not the kind that have been milled, rolled, flaked or prepared in other ways that will prevent them from sprouting. Some of the best options to include in sprouted bread are: wheat, spelt, oat groats, barley, buckwheat, brown rice, einkorn wheat, as well as various seeds like sesame, poppy, chia and flaxseeds.

The process of making homemade sprouted bread involves:

Soaking grains: You can do this in a large bowl or even a crockpot/slow cooker.

Draining the grains: You’ll need either a strainer with small holes in it or a sleeve/cheese cloth. This step is to separate the soaked grains from the water they’ve been sitting in.

Drying or dehydrating grains: You’ll need to dry the grains out after they’ve sprouted to turn them into flour. You can either do this by baking them at a low temperature in the oven, or some people choose to dehydrate them.

Grinding the grains into flour: You can either use a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, or choose to purchase a grinder specifically made for flours. There are a range of grain grinders available on the market that differ in terms of price and capabilities, depending on what you’re looking for.


Nora Pouillon: "My Organic Life" - The Diane Rehm Show

When Nora Pouillon first walked the aisles of an American supermarket, she was stunned. In place of the fresh meat and greens of European shops, she found hormone-filled packaged beef and sad-looking tomatoes. Growing up a child of war on a farm in the Alps, the native Austrian learned early on that food is precious and healing. When she came to Washington D.C. in the 1960s, she sought out natural produce and meat at a time when few were paying attention to the benefits of organic food. In 1979, she founded what would become the first certified organic restaurant in the country. Diane sits down with pioneering chef Nora Pouillon.

Restaurant Nora

In 1979, Restaurant Nora opened its doors in a 19th century red brick corner building in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. This site originally housed a grocery store and an upstairs apartment for the owners, and the current main dining room served as a stable for the horses that delivered the groceries.

The restaurant represents the vision of Nora Pouillon, who, with the help of her two partners, Steven and Thomas Damato, has always been a proponent of a sustainable lifestyle and believes that the most important element is organic, seasonal, local food prepared in a flavorful, balanced, healthy way.

In 1999, Restaurant Nora became the nation's first certified organic restaurant, which means that at least 95% of all ingredients must be produced by certified organic farmers, growers, and suppliers.

USPSTF 2015 mammogram recommendations

"We believe that women should be aware of the potential benefits and harms and be guided to make a decision based on their own values and preferences," Dr Bibbins-Domingo told Medscape Medical News.

Summary of the Draft Recommendations on Screening for Breast Cancer

The recommendation that women 50 to 74 years undergo screening mammography every 2 years is given a grade of B in the updated guidelines. This means that the USPSTF recommends this service and that there is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or that there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.

The decision to start screening mammography before the age of 50 should be an individual one. Women 40 to 49 years who place a higher value on the potential benefit than the potential harms can choose to undergo screening every 2 years. This recommendation is given a grade of C, which means that the USPSTF recommends selectively offering or providing this service to individual patients on the basis of professional judgment and patient preference, and that there is at least moderate certainty that the net benefit is small.

The evidence is insufficient to assess the effectiveness of screening mammography in women 75 years and older. The I statement that this recommendation received from the USPSTF indicates that evidence is lacking, of poor quality, or conflicting, and the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.

The statement that evidence is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of 3D mammography as a screening tool for breast cancer also received an I.

For women with dense breasts but negative results on mammogram, evidence to determine the effectiveness of additional screening for breast cancer with ultrasound, MRI, 3D mammography, or other methods is insufficient, and also received an I.

The recommendation against clinicians teaching breast self-examination to patients was not updated and is given a grade of D, which means that the USPSTF recommends against the service. However, the USPSTF believes it is important for women to report lumps and other significant changes they note in their breasts to their healthcare provider.


"Our findings suggest that enhanced awareness is probably the reason for the reduction of late-stage cancer, not screening," the investigators noted.

Extrapolating their findings, they added that "after 10 years of biennial mammography screening, for every 2,500 women invited, 6-10 women have been overdiagnosed, 20 women are diagnosed with breast cancer ... and one death from breast cancer has been prevented.

"To put it differently, if 2,500 women are invited to undergo mammography screening over 10 years, 2,470-2,474 women will not be diagnosed with breast cancer, 2,499 will not die of breast cancer, but 6-10 women will be overdiagnosed," they said.

This study was supported by the Research Council of Norway and Frontier Science. Dr. Kalager and her coauthors had no relevant disclosures.


Overdiagnosis in mammography screening: a 45 year journey from shadowy idea to acknowledged reality - BMJ


Physicians Unlikely to Ever Pay Off Student Loans

UK physicians can leave medical school up to £80,000 ($120,000) in debt (in the U.S. this is well over $160,000), an amount they may never pay off under the terms of their 30-year loan, according to a new analysis published today in BMJ Open. The investigators also found a wage gap that means women repay more when the debt is low, but less when the amount is high.

Student loan payments, under a program introduced in 2012, are scaled to income (9% of income above £21,000), and the balance is forgiven 30 years after graduation. This describes loans from the Student Loan Company, which accounts for 83% of all medical loans in the United Kingdom.



$1 million mistake: Becoming a doctor
That lost decade of work costs a cool half-million dollars, if you assume this individual could have earned just $50,000 annually, and the typical medical school candidate is smart and successful enough to earn considerably more. Add in the time and cost it takes to pay off medical school debt and a dissatisfied physician may well consider pursuing medicine a $1 million mistake.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Abraham Verghese: Hope for Hands-on Medicine in the EMR Era

Dr Mandrola: Finally, we hear a lot from the Medscape audience and our survey shows that physicians are burned out. What would you say to them?

Dr VergheseThere are good data that 50% of primary care physicians are burned out. More than 50% are depressed, which makes you realize at once that it's not an individual problem. It's a systemic issue. The root of it is red tape. Our red tape equivalent is the EMR. I think organizations like the ACC should come out and say that the source of dysfunction and dysphoria among physicians, the source of frustration in the system, is that we are busy documenting something that has nothing to do with patient care. I'm not pessimistic about it; I'm a great optimist. I think that things will get better, but I think that you can't make it better until you acknowledge the problem. It's like a Dickens novel. There's a point, an epiphany, where the big lie is revealed to the person who is carrying it. Then everything sorts itself out.

Dr Mandrola: Being distracted from what we were supposed to do is terrible for physicians. I think the employment model has made it worse because we get put on the assembly line. I hope it does change.

Dr VergheseThere are some good models of successful practices; Christine Sinsky at the ABIM Foundation has looked at practices that have been extraordinarily successful.[2] One of the common features is to make the physician experience much less about the red tape and much more about the patient. For example, calling the patient the day before and establishing the agenda for the visit so that they don't come in with 16 things when you think it's a follow-up for one thing; calling the patient ahead of time and reconciling medications before they arrive; or drawing labs and having the results there on the same day, rather than having them come back—these are all such simple efficiencies.

Another practice had the physician, the social worker, and the physical therapist all in one common area. Instead of sending an email to somebody, you just turned around and spoke to them. You get things done much more efficiently. Having a scribe—having someone else to do the paperwork—is a really good way to make people happy about what they're doing. They are more efficient.

Medicare Hospital Compare Quality of Care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has introduced star ratings based on patient experiences on Hospital Compare, the agency's public information website, to make it easier for consumers to choose a hospital and understand the quality of care they deliver, the agency announced April 16.

The star ratings "build on a larger effort across HHS [US Department of Health & Human Services] to build a health care system that delivers better care, spends health care dollars more wisely, and results in healthier people," a news release from CMS says.

The Hospital Compare star ratings relate to patients' experience of care at nearly 3500 Medicare-certified acute-care hospitals.

The ratings are based on data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS) measures, which include topics such as how well nurses and doctors communicate with patients, how responsive hospital staff are to patient needs, how clean and quiet hospital environments are, and how well patients are prepared for posthospital settings.

The HCAHPS survey is administered to a random sample of adult patients across medical conditions between 48 hours and 6 weeks after discharge.

"The patient experience star ratings will make it easier for consumers to use the information on the Hospital Compare website and spotlight excellence in health care quality," Patrick Conway, MD, CMS acting principal deputy administrator, said in a statement.

"These star ratings also encourage hospitals and clinicians to strive to continuously improve the patient experience and quality of care delivered to all patients," he added.

On Hospital Compare, consumers will now see 12 HCAHPS star ratings, one for each of the 11 publicly reported HCAHPS measures plus a summary star rating that combines all the HCAHPS star ratings.

CMS will update the ratings each quarter.

CMS has similar rating systems for nursing homes, physicians, and Medicare Advantage plans.

Flame Retardants Cause Chemical-Induced Insulin Resistance

Flame Retardants Cause Chemical-Induced Insulin Resistance
Previous studies have shown that an estimated 90 percent of Americans have flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies. Worse yet, recent tests6 have revealed that many Americans have no less than six different types of toxic flame retardants in their system. 
Researchers7 have also noted that American mothers have levels of flame retardants in their breast milk that are about two orders of magnitude greater than in European countries where these chemicals are not permitted. Children, in turn, have been found to have levels of flame retardants that are as much as five times higher than their mother's...8 
Such bioaccumulation can have serious health consequences over the course of a lifetime, although health problems may not be readily attributable to day-to-day chemical exposure. For example, according to researchers at the University of Hampshire,9 flame retardants cause liver and metabolic problems that can result in insulin resistance and associated health problems. 
It's rather unlikely that anyone would tie their insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol ratios to exposure to flame retardants, considering that this health problem is typically thought to hinge on excess sugar consumption. As explained in the University's news release:
"[R]ats exposed to polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, experienced a disruption in their metabolism that resulted in the development of metabolic obesity and enlarged livers. 
'Despite the plethora of resources devoted to understanding the roles of diet and exercise in the obesity epidemic, this epidemic continues to escalate, suggesting that other environmental factors may be involved. 
At the biochemical level there is a growing body of experimental evidence suggesting certain environmental chemicals, or 'obesogens', could disrupt the body's metabolism and contribute to the obesity epidemic,' [lead researcher Gale Carey, professor of nutrition] said... 
The cause of the flame retardant-induced insulin resistance is unknown but one possibility is the suppression of a key metabolic enzyme  phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, or PEPCK in the liver. 
Carey and her students found that the activity of PEPCK, which is responsible for sugar and fat metabolism, dropped by nearly 50 percent in livers of rats exposed to flame retardants for just one month, compared to controls."

When we visit Target, my children are magically attracted to the colorful pajamas on display. They proudly display that the clothes have flame retardants impregnated in the material. Despite their dreams of being a super-hero and hope to be fire-proof, I instead help them understand that that is not a bragging right and really should not be a selling point.



Dr. Oz - Attacked by Monsanto After Reporting on WHO Roundup Report

After reporting on the World Health Organization Roundup report declaring it as a probable carcinogen, Dr. Oz has sustained an unprecedented character assault.

See the Dr. Oz Show here:

Natural News reports on the details of this character assault and the people behind it:


CNN - Dr. Bob Arnot

Dr. Bob Arnot: ...the most interesting part of this is this letter. First of all, it's not from the Columbia faculty. It's from ten physicians, all of whom have industry ties. And if you look carefully at the letter, what it's really about is that the industry is furious that he has taken on genetically modified crops. So you basically have industry henchmen who are after Dr. Oz here. One of them in fact, head of the American Council on Science and Health, spent some time in federal prison for Medicaid fraud, so I'd be very careful about who has written this letter.

Host: So perhaps you're saying the initial media coverage of this story -- it really came up on Friday, became bigger here over the weekend -- is being misleading, because it's not addressing exactly who these physicians are.

Arnot: They do this kind of thing all the time; they're called "astroturf groups." That is, they appear to be grassroots groups representing real consumers, but in fact, they are the henchmen of industry here, and that's what you're looking at with this letter. The media often gets swept up by this, they say, "this is a great story," they get swept up by it, they report it, but they don't look at who wrote that letter.


Organ Meat Nutritional Content

Most animals today are wasted. They are born and raised exclusively for their skeletal muscle. The most nourishing part of the animal: organs, bones and glands are wasted. They are wasted in favor of that Saturday night sirloin steak marinated in corn syrup-drenched barbecue sauce. Slow-cooked nutrient-dense organic liver is bypassed for that char broiled, over-cooked, pork loin drenched in beer, or deep fried in the ultra pathological partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

It is quite obvious that so few people today have appreciation for the nourishment provided by animals, a complete 180 degree turn from how native people viewed and respected their food, animals and their health.

With the industrial food revoultion brought food processing and mass marketing. The decline of organ meat consumption is a cultural void that reflects the shallowness of modern cuisines in favor of inferior alternatives.

Even if one were in favor of consuming organ meats, being able to obtain them from butchers and grocery stores in today's modern culture is often like finding a needle in a haystack. Occasionally you can find liver, almost always frozen. Rarely will you find other organ meats such as kidney, pancreas or brain. If you do in fact have a source for these foods, you are in a very small minority.

If you are able to find other organ meats, the cost is often so low, due to such a low demand: very sad.

We Have Reduced The Power Of Food To Taste & Cost

Most people don't appreciate or even realize that the food and nutrients that they put into their bodies are the primary biochemical fuel sources for all of the cells of the human body. The body makes energy from food. How many people choose their biochemical fuel based upon a food's nutritional value? Very few.

Most people choose their food based upon taste and cost. If a person is choosing their foods based upon taste and cost, they will likely not consume too many foods of nutritional value, and if they do, it may be accidental.

Why do people think that organ meats have such intense taste and flavor? Because they have been deprived of these foods their entire lives.

If people were "nutrition first" eaters, the consumption of organ meats would be top on the list. Even without the advancements of vitamin and nutrient identification, native cultures knew that organ meats were the most vital forms of nourishment for the attainment of optimal health, generation after generation.

Organic Liver is one of the Richest Sources of (USDA %, 68 grams):
  • Vitamin A 431% (retinyl palmitate, beta carotene is not Vitamin A)
  • B-12 800%
  • Iron 25%
  • Vitamin D 30%
  • Copper 486%
  • Selenium 35%
  • Liver is also a very rich source of the following nutrients: Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorous, Folate, B-1, B-2, B-6, B-3, B-5, Protein.

Liver is loaded with minerals and B-vitamins. I find it interesting that many MD's, dietitians and most conventional nutritionists recommend pregnant or expectant women take a multi-vitamin containing synthetic, coal tar-derived vitamins, with special emphasis on folate. One serving of liver packs a very high amount of folate (RDA 43%) and extraordinarily high amounts of other essential nutrients, in a whole food form. Organic liver is one of nature's most powerful multivitamins.

Beef kidney contains an incredible nutritional profile (USDA %):
  • B-12 458%
  • B-5 40%
  • Zinc 13%
  • B-1 33%
  • B-2 167%
  • Iron 26%
  • Vitamin A 28%
  • Vitamin C 16%

Heart is going to contain the following nutritional profile (85 grams, RDA%):
Heart is the richest dietary source of Coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant
  • B-12 153%
  • Zinc 16%
  • Phosphorous 22%
  • Selenium 47%
  • Copper 24%
  • Iron 30%
  • All B complex vitamins

Pancreas was considered a very important organ meat for many cultures. Many alternative cancer therapies involve the ingestion of high doses of pancreatic enzymes. Would the ingestion of raw pancreas tissue facilitate this same benefit?
Beef Pancreas will contain (113 grams, RDA%):
  • B-12 264%
  • All other B-complex in significant amounts
  • Vitamin C 26%
  • Iron 14%
  • Selenium 40%
  • Phosphorous 37%
  • Zinc 19%

Beef brains contain a very high nutritional profile, including an astoundingly high amount of dietary cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol has little effect upon serum cholesterol values. Furthermore, the issue regarding cholesterol is poorly understood by most clinicians. Beef brain will contain (351 grams RDA%):
  • Cholesterol 2339%
  • Selenium 130%
  • Zinc 32%
  • Phosphorous 135%
  • Iron 43%
  • B-12 889%
  • Omega 3 fatty acids 3545%
  • Omega 6 fatty acids 2948%
  • Saturated fat 66%

"IMPORTANT: Know Where Your Meat Comes From

In another article written by a meat processor, Bob Martin explains the differences between products derived from grain-fed animals versus from grass-fed animals. He reports that many grain-finished livers are "condemned," whereas this does not happen with grass-finished livers. He is very straight in his recommendation to avoid meat and organs coming from animals that are grain-fed or grain-finished, such as those produced by CAFOs.

As stated earlier, it is safest to restrict all of your meats to pastured, or at the very least, grass-finished animals. In the wake of mad cow disease, it is particularly important to consume animals raised on pasture and fed a biologically appropriate diet, which virtually eliminates their risk of mad cow disease, as well as many other dangerous contaminants."

"Liver is an important source of retinol, which is pre-formed vitamin A. Just three ounces of beef liver contains 26,973 IU of vitamin A, while pork liver and chicken liver contain 15,306 IU and 11,335 IU, respectively."

Grass-Fed versus Grain-Fed

Summary of Important Health Benefits of Grassfed Meats, Eggs and Dairy

Lower in Fat and Calories. There are a number of nutritional differences between the meat of pasture-raised and feedlot-raised animals. To begin with, meat from grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison is lower in total fat. If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal. In fact, as you can see by the graph below, grass-fed beef can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast, wild deer, or elk.[1] Research shows that lean beef actually lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.[2]
total fat grams per 3 ounce serving
Data from J. Animal Sci 80(5):1202-11.
Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grassfed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year. If all Americans switched to grassfed meat, our national epidemic of obesity might diminish.
In the past few years, producers of grass-fed beef have been looking for ways to increase the amount of marbling in the meat so that consumers will have a more familiar product. But even these fatter cuts of grass-fed beef are lower in fat and calories than beef from grain-fed cattle.
Extra Omega-3s. Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.[3] Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.[4]
Another benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies, these essential fats have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and also kept them from spreading.[5] Although the human research is in its infancy, researchers have shown that omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies advanced cancer and also hasten recovery from surgery.[6,7]
Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.[8] The graph below illustrates this steady decline.
Omega 3s vanish in the feedlot
Data from: J Animal Sci (1993) 71(8):2079-88.
When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.[9]
It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids. Twenty percent have blood levels so low that they cannot be detected.[10] Switching to the meat, milk, and dairy products of grass-fed animals is one way to restore this vital nutrient to your diet.
The CLA Bonus. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.[11] (A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA ,as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.)
CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. [12] There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Switching from grain-fed to grassfed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category.13 Researcher Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grassfed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection.
Vitamin E. In addition to being higher in omega-3s and CLA, meat from grassfed animals is also higher in vitamin E. The graph below shows vitamin E levels in meat from: 1) feedlot cattle, 2) feedlot cattle given high doses of synthetic vitamin E (1,000 IU per day), and 3) cattle raised on fresh pasture with no added supplements. The meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and, interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle given vitamin E supplements. [14#] In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin E.
Grassfed beef four times higher in vitamin E
Data from: Smith, G.C. "Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets." Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171

Grass-Fed Beef - Beware of Twisted Language

With the increasing popularity of "grass fed" beef due to its great health benefits, there are an increasing number of imposters in the business that want to be the lowest price supplier. Here are some things you need to know before you buy.
  1. What does "Finished" mean? This means that the animal is physiologically mature; no longer growing in stature and frame; and is on a diet that will allow the animal to build fat reserves. Where this fat is deposited in or on the animal depends partly on breed of animal and partly on feed quality. A prime or choice grade animal will deposit fat within the muscle tissue. This is called marbling and is a good indicator of flavor and tenderness of the meat – particularly the steaks. A "grass fed" animal younger than 24 months or lighter than 1000 pounds live weight is very likely NOT finished."
  2. "Grass fed" vs. "Grass Finished" – Almost all cattle are grass fed for some period of their lives, especially the beef breeds where the calf runs with the mother cow for a few months after birth. Because of this fact, many will claim that their beef has been "grass fed". A typical beef animal is weaned from its mother, taken off the grass, put into a feedlot and fed corn or other high starch diet. This high starch diet causes very rapid growth and then high fat deposits as the animal matures. This type of fat is high in Omega 6 fatty acid or "bad cholesterol". Now, a true "grass FINISHED" animal continues on a grass (forage) diet with no grain at all. Because there is little starch in the grass diet, the growth of the animal is slower and the fat deposited is high in Omega 3 fatty acid (the good cholesterol). Because of the slower growth, the farmer has more time and expense in producing real "grass finished" animals. Thus the necessity for a higher price.
  3. Price – Now this is where it gets interesting! Ask these questions: Is the price based on live weight, hanging weight, or weight of the finished meat you put in your freezer? Who pays the butchering charger? Is delivery included? You had better ask these questions and use your calculator or you may be in for a rude awakening when you go to the meat shop to get your beef. In a general example, a 1000 pound animal live weight will be about 550 pounds hanging weight(this means the skin is off and the guts are out), which will be about 320 pounds of actual de-boned, trimmed, meat that you are going to put in your freezer. The butchering charges will be 40-65 cents per pound based on hanging weight.

Now as an educated consumer you will know how to read an ad that says "Grass fed beef right off our pasture-ready for butchering-weighs about 450 pounds. Only $400" I assure you that you will get what your pay for – a young calf, with no fat, very little flavor, and a high price tag by the time he is in your freezer.


Research spanning three decades supports the argument that grass-fed beef (on a g/g fat basis), has a more desirable SFA lipid profile (more C18:0 cholesterol neutral SFA and less C14:0 & C16:0 cholesterol elevating SFAs) as compared to grain-fed beef. Grass-finished beef is also higher in total CLA (C18:2) isomers, TVA (C18:1 t11) and n-3 FAs on a g/g fat basis. This results in a better n-6:n-3 ratio that is preferred by the nutritional community. Grass-fed beef is also higher in precursors for Vitamin A and E and cancer fighting antioxidants such as GT and SOD activity as compared to grain-fed contemporaries.

Grass-fed beef tends to be lower in overall fat content, an important consideration for those consumers interested in decreasing overall fat consumption. Because of these differences in FA content, grass-fed beef also possesses a distinct grass flavor and unique cooking qualities that should be considered when making the transition from grain-fed beef. To maximize the favorable lipid profile and to guarantee the elevated antioxidant content, animals should be finished on 100% grass or pasture-based diets.

Grain-fed beef consumers may achieve similar intakes of both n-3 and CLA through consumption of higher fat portions with higher overall palatability scores. A number of clinical studies have shown that today's lean beef, regardless of feeding strategy, can be used interchangeably with fish or skinless chicken to reduce serum cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic patients.


Cattle Feeding - Use of Hormones

The use of supplemental growth hormones is controversial. The benefits of using growth hormones includes improved feed efficiency, carcass quality, and rate of muscle development. The cattle industry takes the position that the use of growth hormones allows plentiful meats to be sold for affordable prices. Conversely, there exists customer concern about growth hormone use being linked to a number of human health problems. However, there have been insufficient studies to prove or disprove these concerns. Growth hormones are synthetically created but testing cannot distinguish between artificial hormones and those naturally produced by the animal itself. Using hormones in beef cattle costs $1.50 and adds between 40 and 50 lb (18 and 23 kg) to the weight of a steer at slaughter, for a return of at least $25.

American regulators permit hormone use on the grounds that no risk to human health has been proven. In contrast, most European Union nations have banned them based on the grounds that they have yet to be proven safe. The organic food industry takes the position that the studies that suggest possible concerns should be more closely examined by governmental regulators.

In Canada, all veterinary drugs used in food production processes are required to pass stringent tests and regulations set by the Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) and are enforced by the Food and Drug Act of Health Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors all food products in Canada by sampling and testing by veterinarians and inspectors working on behalf of the provincial and federal governments. They monitor the food supply to condemn and destroy any product that is unacceptable. In the rare case where the CFIA have found a residue, it has been substantially below the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) to make acceptable for safe consumption. The MRL is the maximum amount of a drug residue that may remain in a food product at the time of human consumption. MRLs are safety measures based on Accepted Daily Intakes (ADIs). The ADI level is determined from toxicology studies to be the highest amount of a substance that can be consumed daily throughout a lifespan without causing adverse effects. Beef hormone residues are MRLs that have been established by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations. Although there is growing concern that hormone residues in meat and milk might be harmful to human and animal health, the quantities of hormones found in a serving of meat are far below the level considered to be a risk to the development of cancer. Besides, the World Health Organization stated that the hormone levels are indistinguishable between the implanted and nonimplanted animals.

There are three natural hormones (estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone) and their synthetic alternatives (zeranol, melengestrol acetate, and trenbolone acetate) have been approved by the VDD for use in Canadian beef production.


According to a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists have found through analysis that one single glass of milk can contain a delightful (or not) medley of up to 20 different kinds of painkillers, antibiotics and growth hormones. These medicinal residues, found in samples of cow, goat, and human breast milk, are from a variety of chemicals used to treat animal and human illness.

This research revealed that cow, goat, and human breast milk tested for traces of numerous anti-inflammatory drugs such as niflumic acid, mefenamic acid, flunixin, ibuprofen, diclofenac and ketoprofen -- all of which are commonly used painkillers for animals and humans.

Traces of other drugs, such as lipid regulators, anti-seizures, beta-blockers, antibiotics and various hormones (such as ethinylestradiol and estrone) were found as well.


Time To Take Milk Off The Menu?

"A new study conducted by scientists at Kaiser Permanente, the large U.S. health insurer, and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (link is external) found that breast cancer survivors consuming high-fat cows’ milk foods had a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than women eating little to no high-fat dairy.


What links dairy fat to breast cancer is likely to be the hormone estrogen. Much of the cow’s milk we drink today is produced from pregnant cows (link is external), whose estrogen and progesterone levels are markedly elevated. When humans consume milk from these cows, this can increase their own estrogen levels (link is external), creating an environment that is conducive to breast cancer but has also been linked to prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancers.


So what’s a dairy eater to do?

Moreover, plant milks are almost always sold in cartons lined with plastic containing estrogen-like compounds that are thought to leach into the milk we drink. Lastly, they often contain an additive called carageenan, a seaweed extract that is thought to cause gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors (link is external). So unless you make your own plant milk from scratch, you’re probably best advised to minimize their intake.

Does this mean we should swear off milk altogether? Not necessarily. This brings me – like a broken record – back to the traditional Mediterranean Diet.

For millennia, dairy around the Mediterranean basin was consumed sparingly and almost always in the form of fermented milk curds – such as yogurt, kefir, labneh – and fresh goat’s and sheeps’ cheeses such as feta cheese, halloumi, ricotta and fresh chèvre (log-shaped goat’s cheese). Cow’s milk was rare as the terrain generally did not lend itself to such large, thirsty animals; instead, goats and sheep were better adapted to the rocky, arid landscapes that line the Mediterranean shores and prized not only for their milk but also their meat and – in the sheeps’ case – wool.

Interestingly, in a recent study (link is external) the levels of estrone and 17β-estradiol in goat's milk were found to be significantly lower than in any of the cow's milk products tested – including organic cow's milk. (I have not been able to find similar data on sheep's milk.) Thus, the occasional goat's milk yogurt or small piece of goat’s cheese are acceptable, but until there is more research, don’t go overboard on these either.

Finally, if you choose not to eat any dairy at all, this should pose no health risk at all. After all, we are the only mammals that continue to consume milk long after we’re weaned – and another species’ milk at that! Indeed, in many of us, the ability to digest lactose (the sugar in milk) begins to decline from the age of two, the age at which, in nature, we might begin transitioning from mothers' milk to solid foods. Might this be Nature’s way of telling us to lay off milk after infancy?"

Many people eat dairy foods because they think they need them to maintain bone strength; but rest assured: in many parts of the world – much of Africa and Asia, for instance – milk is not consumed at all and people’s bones do not crumble! Green leafy vegetables, legumes and seeds, bone-in fish (e.g. canned salmon or sardines) and chicken, beef or fish broth are excellent sources of calcium.

So once again, Mediterranean wisdom prevails: if you eat dairy foods, do so sparingly, choose minimally processed ones made from the milk of pasture-fed, organically-reared animals that did not receive hormone treatments, opt for fermented milk wherever possible, and vary your milk source, rotating goat's, sheep's and occasional cow's milk products.