T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell

For more than two decades, many commentators have discussed and cussed so-called low-fat diets and gotten away with talking nonsense. It is time to look at some facts.

Virtually all of these discussions are based on recommendations of reports of the National Academy of Sciences during the 1980s when the initial suggestion was made to reduce total dietary fat to 30 percent (from the average of 35-37 percent of calories) — I know because I co-authored the first of these reports on diet and cancer in 1982. Then, during the next decade or so, this 30 percent benchmark became the definition of a low fat diet. A myth was born because this diet did not lead to obesity, as claimed.

During the next 10 years when this low fat myth was growing, average percent dietary fat barely changed — maybe decreasing a couple percentage points to about 33 percent, at best. In reality, the amount of fat consumed INCREASED because total calorie consumption also increased. Furthermore, during this same period of low fat mythology (1980s-1990s), obesity incidence increased.

Now, enter Robert Atkins and other writers who argued that obesity was increasing because of our switch to low fat diets. By going low fat — so the mythical story went — we were consuming more carbohydrate, an energy source from plant-based foods. This was a serious misrepresentation of the facts.

By falsely blaming low fat, ‘high carb’ diets for the obesity crisis, these writers were then free to promote the opposite: high fat, low ‘carb’, high cholesterol and high protein diets rich in animal-based foods, a so-called low ‘carb’ diet. During the initial discussions of this ‘low carb’ diet, no distinction was made between the refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour as commonly present in processed foods) and the natural carbohydrates almost exclusively present in plant-based foods.

Later, some attention was given to refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour) as a contributor to obesity, but by then the damage due to this obfuscation had been done. ‘Carbs’ were out, protein and fat were in. By initially demonizing ‘carbs’ and so-called ‘low fat’ diets and emphasizing increased protein and fat consumption, the intended path was clear: consume a diet rich in animal-based foods instead of a diet rich in plant-based foods.

Obesity continues to climb but not because of a switch to a plant-foods rich diet naturally low in fat and high in carbohydrate (TOTAL carbohydrate, that is). Rather, obesity increases as physical activity decreases and as sugary, fatty, salty processed food consumption increases.

More serious, however, is the effect that this mythology has had on suppressing information on the extraordinary health value of diets that are truly low in fat (10-12 percent). I am referring to a whole foods, plant-based diet that avoids added fat and processed and animal-based foods. This diet contains about 10-12 percent fat, sometimes pejoratively referred to as “extremely low fat”. Call it what you will, but this diet (also low in total protein, about 8-10 percent) produces, by comparison, “extremely low” incidences of sickness and disease. In fact, it now has been shown not just to prevent these illnesses but to treat them. Importantly, this dietary lifestyle cannot be dismissed by the mythological argument that so-called low fat diets have been proven to be questionable.

Professional medical researchers and practitioners also repeat this same mantra as if it is real. It has been shown for example in the very large Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard over an observation period of at least 14 years that reducing dietary fat from about 50 percent to about 25 percent of total calories has no association with breast cancer rates. Based on this and related studies, the sole manipulation of fat within this range does little or nothing when the diet still contains such high proportions of animal based and processed foods. Total protein remains very high throughout this range and worse, the proportion of protein from animal-based sources, already high when fat is high, if anything, increases even more when fat is independently decreased.

It is time that we seriously consider the health benefits of a whole food, plant based diet, which is naturally low in total fat, animal-based protein, and refined carbohydrates but rich in antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. The health benefits that are now being reported for this dietary lifestyle are unmatched in scope and magnitude of effect. It is time to discard the gibberish about low fat diets being responsible for the obesity epidemic. This demonizing of low fat diets does not apply to whole food plant-based diets, even lower in fat, because this dietary lifestyle really works. Just try it, but stay with it long enough to allow your body to overcome your taste preferences for fat that arise from its addictive nature.

The Beef With Atkins

 

David Katz, M.D.

Director, Yale Prevention Research Center

A Harvard study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine — showing higher mortality in men and women who consumed a meaty, Atkins-like diet– has likely come to your attention, given its high media profile. Predictably, the Atkins camp was quick to weigh in and tell us why the study is flawed, and just as predictably, prominent Atkins’ diet detractors, such as my friend Dean Ornish (right here on Huffington Post), were quick to highlight the study’s importance.

When the smoke from the Hibachi clears, what does the study actually mean?

As hastily noted by its detractors, the study is observational, and thus designed to show association — not prove cause and effect. Men and women — over 120,000 of them — who, over time, ate more of their calories from animal sources and fewer of them from plants were more likely to get sick and die prematurely.

How might this be something other than cause and effect? Naturally, the study controls for alternative, likely explanations for the health outcomes observed, such as smoking (if people who eat more meat also smoke, the smoking could be the true health hazard, but that’s not the answer here). Perhaps people with a genetic predisposition to get sick and die are compelled by that same gene complex to eat more meat? If you like that one, you either own stock in Atkins Nutritionals, or should be in the bridge buying business.

It is true that an observational study does not prove cause and effect. But when, in over 100,000 people, A seems to cause B, and there is a plausible mechanism, and other likely explanations have been considered and eliminated — the most logical conclusion is that A likely does cause B, until or unless a better explanation is found. The fact that a plausible thing might not be true is a long way from proving it isn’t true!

The Atkins folks are quick to note that studies show an Atkins’ diet can improve some metabolic markers. But which do you care about — dying prematurely with a high HDL, or living long and prospering despite a lower one? Ultimately, it’s health outcomes that matter and no study has ever shown that eating an Atkins’ diet is associated with any kind of improved health outcome over the long term. It is plausible that an apparent improvement in metabolic markers can actually be associated with worse health. More than plausible: cancer often reduces body fat and lowers cholesterol.

Do I think eating a high-meat, low-plant diet increases risk of death and disease? Hell ya!

The other principal complaint of the Atkins’ camp is that this isn’t the Atkins’ diet. Perhaps not, but … soy what? The Atkins’ Diet has become a moving target, as the once powerful empire — then a victim of bankruptcy — endeavors to have its side of beef and eat it, too. The new Atkins’ Diet emphasizes more plant sources of protein, such as soy, but still wants to benefit from the ‘Atkins’ brand cache. That cache did not come from soy! It came from the image of a butter-slathered pork chop on the cover of the New York Times magazine, and similar invitations to carnivorous debauchery!

Yes, it’s true you can in fact eat a relatively high-protein, plant-based diet- my friend Dr. David Jenkins called it “eco-Atkins”– and probably derive good health from doing so. But calling this “eco-Atkins” is a bit like calling a soybean an “eco-cow,” potentially confusing to herbivores and carnivores alike.

Here are the take-away messages as I see them:

The appeal of the Atkins’ Diet was never eating soy beans; it was eating bacon, burgers and such. That was, and remains, a bad idea. Bad for the animals that are raised inhumanely to be turned into food; bad for the planet that is mightily abused in the mass production of feed animals; and bad for your health. Yes, our Stone Age ancestors ate meat, but they did not get it at McDonald’s! They ate lean, wild animals that have very little in common with pastrami. If you are inclined to eat meat you secure with a bow and arrow, I withhold my objections.

Yes, it’s true you can eat a low carbohydrate diet by eating a lot of high-protein plant foods. But, frankly, once you’ve switched to a lot of plant foods it no longer matters much if your diet is high in protein or not,although direct comparison does seem to favor more carbohydrate provided the sources are right.

Butter-slathered pork chops and walnuts are both high in fat, but they are very different foods with very different implications for your health. Everything from lentils to lollipops is high in carbohydrates, but not created equal. In the end, eating wholesome food and mostly plants, is what a staggering volume of evidence suggests will help you live long, and well.

Eating wholesome foods direct from nature is far better advice than cutting carbs or cutting fat ever was. Once you’re there — and let’s acknowledge that getting there from here is far from easy for most of us! — you are already in the dietary promised land and can stop looking around for directions from anyone with something to sell. And no, Atkins does not own this real estate.
Dr. David L. Katz
http://www.davidkatzmd.com
http://www.turnthetidefoundation.org

Which Has More Saturated Fat: Milk or Bacon?

MilkBacon

 
A glass of whole or even 2% milk has more saturated fat than 5 slices of bacon. Here’s the skinny:
    • One 0.5-ounce (14-gram) slice of bacon = about 0.02 ounces (0.57 grams) of saturated fat.
    • One 8-ounce (226-gram) glass of whole milk = about 0.18 ounces (5 grams) of saturated fat.
  • One 8-ounce (226-gram) glass of 2% milk = about 0.10 ounces (2.9 grams) of saturated fat.

More moo versus oink fat facts:

    • Soy milk has almost no saturated fat.
    • 1% skim milk still has about 0.06 ounces (1.6 grams) of saturated fat per 8-ounce (226-gram) glass.
    • Another possible health concern related to bacon: it’s cured with a preservative called sodium nitrite, which has been linked to a variety of health issues and disease, including cancer.
  • Bacon popularity has spread beyond the breakfast plate into such odd products as bacon vodka, bacon candles and bacon chocolate.

Good question Finlay

Why is the school nurse promoting dairy as a necessary and good food choice for the children?

Good question Finlay.

The very simple answer is that your mind has been captured by your parents’ acceptance of milk as a great food. Your Dad assumed it was a good product because his mom and I made it available to him.

Why do we accept milk, or any other product, as being good for us? Because, we trust our Mom and Dad to make the right choices for us.

Unfortunately, the Dairy industry has been brain washing school children for years. Even when your Bumpa went to school, we had a nurse come around and tell us how good milk was 67 years ago.

So, you can see we have been listening to the dairy industry for too long without questioning them.

It is hard to believe that we have all been deceived by this one group. The problem gets worse if you consider the nurse truly believes that she is telling you the truth. She and her parents were misled as well.

So we now have a belief system that says milk is good for you no matter what.

So, again, your mind has just accepted that milk is good for you without question. This is not because you are complacent, or not thoughtful. It is because you are trusting of your parents’ choices and of what the nurse is telling you.

The dairy industry wants us to be complacent, docile and subservient and not to question them or their products.

I know that you will make an informed decision on this topic as you make yourself aware of the real facts. The facts are as follows:

Dairy products will make you fat, they will clog your arteries with plaque, promote heart disease, obesity, and, worst of all, cancer. The protein in milk is a known carcinogen, that is, it promotes the growth of cancer once cancer is initiated. Most sinful of all, milk contributes to diabetes in infants and reduces the lives of many children to a life-long disease dependent on insulin medications to stay alive. The dairy industry has been warned and prohibited from promoting cows’ milk for consumption by children under 2 years old.

So, you see Finlay, there are other opinions but generally dissenting views are not published or supported by the establishment. By the way, acne and facial pock marks can be attributed to milk consumption by teenagers. Look good, avoid dairy.

That is why it is up to you to do one very important thing.

“THINK”

Salmon Confidential

Salmon Confidential—How a Canadian Government Cover-Up Threatens Your Health, and the Entire Ecosystem

April 13, 2013 | 297,731 views | + Add to Favorites
The Video   

By Dr. Mercola

Many environmental experts have warned about the unsustainability of fish farms for a decade now, and we have documented those objections in many previous articles. Unfortunately nothing has yet been done to improve the system.

As usual, government agencies and environmental organizations around the world turned a blind eye to what was predicted to become an absolute disaster, and now the ramifications can be seen across the globe, including in British Columbia, Canada.

Salmon Confidential is a fascinating documentary that draws back the curtain to reveal how the Canadian government is covering up the cause behind British Columbia’s rapidly dwindling wild salmon population. A summary of the film reads:1

“When biologist Alexandra Morton discovers BC’s wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with salmon farming worldwide, a chain of events is set off by government to suppress the findings.

Tracking viruses, Morton moves from courtrooms, into British Columbia’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi restaurants.

The film documents Morton’s journey as she attempts to overcome government and industry roadblocks thrown in her path and works to bring critical information to the public in time to save BC’s wild salmon.”

If you think watching a documentary about wild fish sounds boring, this film may well change your mind. It provides sobering insight into the inner workings of government agencies, and includes rare footage of the bureaucrats tasked with food and environmental safety.

It reveals how the very agency tasked with protecting wild salmon is actuallyworking to protect the commercial aquaculture industry, to devastating effect.

Once you understand just how important wild salmon are to the entire ecosystem, you realize that what’s going on here goes far beyond just protecting a fish species. Without these salmon, the entire ecosystem will eventually fail, and in case you’ve temporarily forgotten, you are part of this system, whether you’re a Canadian or not…

‘Keystone’ Species Missing in Action by the Millions

As explained in the film, a “keystone” species is a species of animal that is essential to the functioning of the ecosystem. It’s a species that other animals cannot survive without. In British Columbia (BC), pacific salmon are a keystone species. They fill hundreds of streams and rivers, feeding hundreds of species, including humans. Alas, since the early 1990’s, salmon numbers have rapidly dwindled, coinciding with the introduction of aqua farms raising farmed salmon.

Each year, millions of wild salmon go missing, and many are found to have died before spawning. They can be found littering the shores of rivers and streams in BC in large numbers.

Biologist Alex Morton has followed and studied the unusual decline in salmon stocks for nearly 30 years. She noticed that as commercial fish farms moved into the area, they had a detrimental impact on wild fish. The most obvious was a dramatic rise in parasitic sea lice in juvenile salmon, which naturally do not carry the lice. But that was just the beginning.

Fish farms breed pathogens that can spread like wildfire and contaminate any wild fish swimming past. Norway has recognized this problem, and does not permit fish farms to be located in rivers or streams populated by valuable native species. In British Columbia, no such restrictions exist.

On the contrary, not only has the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) never taken the spread of disease into account when approving salmon farms in sensitive areas such as the Fraser River, the agency is actually covering up the fact that fish farms are the cause of dwindling salmon stocks.

Wild Salmon Declines Traced Back to Salmon Farms

The film discusses the fate of Dr. Kristy Miller, head of molecular genetics at DFO, who, using DNA profiling, discovered that the fish that die before spawning have a number of DNA switched on that healthy fish do not. In a nutshell, the wild salmon are dying from leukemia, retroviruses, brain tumors, and immune system decay…

Salmon leukemia virus raged through fish farms in the area in the early 1990’s when the farms were first introduced. A retrovirus, salmon leukemia virus attacks the salmon’s immune system, so it dies of something else, much like the process of AIDS. At the time, it was discovered that virtually all the BC Chinook salmon farms were infected. They also discovered that the virus killed 100 percent of the wild sockeye salmon exposed to it. Yet nothing was done…

Instead, as soon as Dr. Miller traced the problem to fish farms, she became ostracized, and effectively put under gag order. When her findings were published in the distinguished journal Science in 2011, the DFO did not allow her to speak to the press, despite the fact that her findings were hailed as some of the most significant salmon research of the decade.

Two years earlier, in 2009, the Fraser River experienced the worst salmon run in recorded history. Some 10 million fish went missing, leaving traditional people living along the river without catch. In response to the public outcry, the Canadian government created the Commission of Inquiry Into the Decline of Salmon in the Fraser River, also known as the Cohen Commission. The inquiry cost $26 million dollars and spanned across 150 days of hearings. Theories presented for the mysterious disappearance of the salmon included overfishing, sharks, water temperature, pollution, even predatory giant squid!

It wasn’t until the very end that attention was finally turned to the most logical source: salmon farms.

Dr. Ian Fleming testified about Norway’s discovery that fish farms are a source of pathogenic disease that can decimate native fish, and therefore does not permit salmon farms in certain areas frequented by wild salmon. British Columbia, in contrast, has approved at least 10 farms in one of the narrowest channels that wild sockeye salmon migrate through, and disease risk was not considered when approving any of them.

Lethal Salmon Virus Found in Every Region with Installed Salmon Farms

Dr. Rick Rutledge, professor and fisheries statistician at Simon Fraser University worried about river inlet sockeye, which were also dwindling in numbers just like Fraser River sockeye. He discovered that the river inlet sockeye were infected with Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA), also known as salmon influenza. This highly lethal and much-feared virus has proliferated in every region across the globe where Atlantic salmon farms have been installed.

First detected in Norway in 1984, infection spread to other countries via egg imports. In Chile, ISA wiped out 70 percent of the country’s salmon industry, at a cost of $2 billion. But Chile has no native salmon to decimate. British Columbia does… And contrary to Chile, the wild salmon of BC are absolutely critical to the ecosystem and residents of the area. The locals don’t just make money off these fish; it’s a main staple of their diet.

According to Morton, at least 11 species of fish in the Fraser River have been found to be infected with European-strain ISA, yet the Canadian food inspection agency has aggressively refuted the findings, and even attacked the credibility of two of the most preeminent experts on ISA testing, who testified that positive results were found to the Cohen Commission.

In fact, everyone who has spoken up about these salmon viruses, which can be traced back to salmon farms, has been shut down in some way or another. And by muzzling scientists like Dr. Miller, the Canadian government has effectively put the entire BC ecosystem at grave risk, just to protect commercial fish farming and international trade. In so doing, they’re also allowing potentially contaminated farm-raised salmon to be sold, exported, and consumed.

You May Be Buying Salmon Infected with Dangerous Fish Viruses

Morton tested farmed salmon purchased in various stores and sushi restaurants around British Columbia, and samples tested positive for at least three different salmon viruses, including:

  1. Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA)
  2. Salmon alphaviruses
  3. Piscine reovirus, which gives salmon a heart attack and prevents them from swimming upriver

The problem with this, aside from the unknown effects on human health from eating salmon with lethal fish viruses, is that viruses are preserved by cold, and fish are always kept frozen for freshness. Then, when you wash the fish, the viruses get flushed down the drain and depending on your sewer system, could be introduced into local watersheds. The environmental impact of this viral contamination is hitherto unknown, but it’s unlikely to be completely harmless.

“This is why it must become public,” Morton says. She insists that consumers, stores and trading partners must become aware of this problem, and be the ones to insist on proper testing and remedial action. It’s not just about protecting certain species of fish, it’s about the health of the ecosystem as a whole; it’s about human health and food safety as well.

How can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm raised? As explained by Morton, the flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of its natural astaxanthin content. It’s also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.

Farmed Fish Pose a Number of Health Hazards to Your Health

Farm raised fish of all species can spell disaster for your health in a number of ways. It’s important to understand that ALL farm-raised fish – not just salmon — are fed a concoction of vitamins, antibiotics, and depending on the fish, synthetic pigments, to make up for the lack of natural flesh coloration due to the altered diet. Without it, the flesh of caged salmon, for example, would be an unappetizing, pale gray. The fish are also fed pesticides, along with compounds such as toxic copper sulfate, which is frequently used to keep nets free of algae.

Not only do you ingest these drugs and chemicals when you eat the fish, but these toxins also build up in sea-floor sediments. In this way, industrial fish farming raises many of the same environmental concerns about chemicals and pollutants that are associated with feedlot cattle and factory chicken farms. In addition, fish waste and uneaten feed further litter the sea floor beneath these farms, generating bacteria that consume oxygen vital to shellfish and other bottom-dwelling sea creatures.

Studies have also consistently found levels of PCBs, dioxins, toxaphene and dieldrin, as well as mercury, to be higher in farm-raised fish than wild fish. This fact alone would be cause to reconsider consuming farmed fish!

Wild caught fish have already reached such toxic levels, it’s risky to recommend eating them with a clear conscience. For example, according to a US Geological Survey study, mercury contamination was detected in EVERY fish sampled in nearly 300 streams across the United States. More than a quarter of these fish contained mercury at levels exceeding the EPA criterion for the protection of human health. So, when you consider the fact that factory farmed fish typically are even MORE toxic than wild-caught fish and also contain an assortment of antibiotics and pesticides, avoiding them becomes a no-brainer – at least if you’re concerned about your health.

To learn more about the differences between farmed salmon and wild salmon, specifically, please see my interview withRandy Hartnell, founder-president of Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics. I’m a huge fan of their wild sockeye salmon, and beside a fish dinner at a restaurant here or there, Vital Choice salmon is about the only type of fish I eat.

 

Buying Local Increases Food Safety and Food Security

Morton recommends buying local foods and wild fish. I couldn’t agree more. As mentioned in the film, disease in farm animals is one of the biggest sources of epidemics in humans. Therefore, the health of food animals cannot be treated as some sort of idealistic notion relegated to tree-huggers and animal-welfare crusaders.

Fish farms are the aquatic version of a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), and just like their land-based cattle- and chicken farms, aquatic CAFO’s are a breeding ground for disease and toxic waste, and produce food animals of inferior quality. Due to the dramatically increased disease risk—a natural side effect of crowding—these animals are further contaminated with drugs, and in the case of salmon, synthetic astaxanthin, which is made from petrochemicals that are not approved for human consumption.

Wild salmon are dying from diseases cultivated and spread by salmon farms. Where is the sense in this? And instead of selling wholesome, nutritionally-superior wild salmon, Canada is selling inferior and potentially diseased salmon raised in fish farms. Who benefits, and who loses?

The industry will tell you the world needs inexpensive food, and inevitably, they insist that such foods can only be created using the latest technology and artificial means. The latest example of this craziness is the creation of what amounts to a vegetarian fish diet designed for carnivorous fish.2 Instead of fishmeal, the protein in this feed comes from bacteria, yeast or algae instead. This way, fish farms will not need to use valuable wild fish to feed farmed fish, and this, they claim, will help alleviate world hunger… Never mind the fact that by altering a fish’s diet in such a drastic way, you’re undoubtedly altering its nutritional content as well.

So at what cost should we clamor for cheap foods? At the expense of our environment and, potentially, the very lives of our descendants? We cannot be so blindly arrogant as to think that we can survive as a species if we allow the ecosystem to fall apart.

The ramifications of our large-scale, mass-producing, chemical-dependent food system are incredibly vast, which is why I urge you to become more curious about your food. Where, and how was it raised, grown, or manufactured? These things do matter; for your health, and the health and future of our planet.

Like Morton, I am also very concerned about our vanishing freedoms and increasing “corpotocracy,” where citizens are ruled by multi-national corporations with just one goal in mind: Maximizing Profit. A glaring example of this loss of freedom was Bill 37—the inappropriately named “Animal Health Act” which, had Canada made it into law, would have made it a crime to report farm animal disease to the public. Under this bill, informants would face a $75,000 fine and two years in prison simply for naming the location of a disease outbreak. Fortunately, the Act was dropped, but could potentially be revived sometime in the future…

Daikon, a promising anti-cancer vegetable

RIRDC Project No DAQ-342A, June 2007,  Dr Tim O’Hare Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries,

Queensland Horticulture Institute, Gatton Research Station

 

Objectives

Identify daikon and radish varieties with highest anti-cancer activity, following on from DAQ-307A which identified daikon and radish sprouts as having extremely high anti-cancer potential. Provide labelling advice in relation to the strongest possible claims that can be made.

 

Current Progress (June 2007)

Daikon and radish were analysed at the seed and sprouted-seed stage to identify cultivars high in the anti-cancer glucosinolate, glucoraphenin. Of the cultivars tested, ‘Cherry Belle’ and ‘Black Spanish’ maintained highest levels of glucoraphenin. Levels were highest in seed, and decreased with increasing sprout age. Decline in concentration was largely due to dilution associated with cell expansion, and partly due to other mechanisms. Differences in the latter appear to have impact on anti-cancer potential.

 

Analysis of mature daikon and radish tissue (roots and shoots) indicated that the principal glucosinolate in roots of all cultivars was glucodehydroerucin, which is estimated to have one tenth the potency of glucoraphenin, the principal glucosinolate found in seeds and young sprouts. By contrast, the principal glucosinolates present in mature shoots were glucoraphanin and glucoraphenin, both potent anti-cancer agents. Shoots were estimated to have approximately 20 times the anti-cancer potential of roots.

 

A scientific paper was presented at the International Horticultural Congress in Seoul (Korea) in August 2006 entitled: “Glucosinolate Composition and Anti-Cancer Potential of Daikon and Radish sprouts”. A poster presentation was made at the 6th Annual Health and Medical Research Conference of Queensland

(November, 2006).

How Ecosystems Function

Throughout centuries of farming, animal grazing and deforestation, the earth’s natural resources have been exhausted. Deserts are encroaching into previous lush areas and water is becoming alarmingly scarce.

Our soil is depleting 13% faster than it can be replaced, and we’ve lost 75% of the world’s crop varieties in just the last hundred years. Over a billion people in the world have no access to safe drinking water, while 80% of the world’s fresh water supply is used for agriculture.

Even from space, the visual scale of the destruction is both disheartening and sobering. Add to this travesty the fact that the world’s population is expanding bya billion people every 12 years.

On a photographic assignment of the 640,000-square-kilometer Loess Plateau in North-Central China in 1995, cameraman John Liu witnessed the ravaging effects of man’s ignorance and greed. But he was amazed to discover that the mindful, purposeful efforts of local Chinese residents had rehabilitated a stark desert area the size of the Netherlands into a lush, green oasis.

He wondered if similarly devastated landscapes had once been vistas of lush, thriving vegetation that include waterfalls, rainforests and fertile valleys – before several thousand years of exploitation had stripped the land of every natural resource.

The epiphany Liu experienced spawned his provocative film, Hope in a Changing Climate, which he posted on the Internet. You could say the results have gone viral …

‘What Happens When Humans Don’t Understand How Ecosystems Function?’

As Liu witnessed the negative trend being reversed around the Loess Plateau, he discovered that not only can damaged ecosystems be rehabilitated, and that similar remediation can restore other parts of the world, but that the pathway for accomplishing it is fairly simple.

But the first order of business is to understand how it happened in the first place. It often begins with several thousand years of relentless grazing of domestic animals on mountainous slopes until there’s nothing left but barren ground.

Rains that may have restored the land erode, carrying fertile topsoil down the hillsides, effectively removing any chance for new growth to emerge. On the Loess Plateau, millions of tons of powder-fine silt were swept down into the Yellow River, not only obstructing its flow, but causing massive flooding and the river’s new name: China’s Sorrow.

On his travels, Liu noticed the same scenario of cumulatively encroaching desert land where it had once been fertile.

“The lands are exhausted. They allow hundred of thousands of sheep and goats to walk across here, and any green thing that sticks up its head is food, and they’re just walking around here getting everything. Well, you can’t let them do that any more. They’ll have to stop… that’s what’s destroyed this area. If that doesn’t stop, you won’t be able to fix this.”

 

Greening the Desert – Can This Be Replicated in Other Parts of the World?

This same trend in Jordan prompted the government to take action. Working with civil engineers and scientists, Liu sectioned off areas to allow the land to rest for three years. In an amazingly short time, grass began to appear. A plant species last recorded in the 1800s and thought to be extinct emerged on its own.

“Grasses develop perennial root systems that spread, encouraging microbial communities living and growing in this microclimate that’s created,” Liu explained. “Then you won’t have direct sunlight hitting, and UV radiation sterilizing this microbiological habitat. Then, everything will change – you’ll have a cumulative situation where there’s always vegetation, organic matter and biodiversity.

“You can see the relationship between hydrology and vegetation and biological life. That’s the basis of the air and the natural water system. It’s how the atmosphere and the hydrological cycle were created and how they were constantly renewed. …If we emulate those and don’t disturb them, we can live in the Garden of Eden.”

Eden Restored: Strategy-Inspired Green Resurgence

Centuries of vitality-sapping farming in Ethiopia have destroyed nearly every inch of vegetation, leaving wide swaths of bone-dry desert. Heavy flooding has etched deep gullies into the land, sweeping topsoil downward and away with nothing to halt its progress. With not even a drop left for farmers to water their crops, their animals or themselves, the ensuing drought and famine has been catastrophic.

But in just 6 years, villagers have planted indigenous trees and vegetation, transforming the severely eroded terrain. Rainfall now absorbs into the ground, feeding a clear stream that flows year-round, aided by the cover of dense vegetation. This has saved the region from desert-induced annihilation and instilled hope for a future of continued sustainability.

A thousand miles north in Abraha Asfaha, another miraculous resurgence has taken place. Where five years previous, heat and wind had induced drought, a government program instigated relocation for local villagers, who were given permission to set aside and remediate the land as the Chinese had. Now, villagers find water at the bottom of their wells, in spite of poor rainfall.

“In the ravines they built small dams which are now fed by underground springs… Rain that fell weeks ago slowly seeps through the subsoil, replenishing the supply of water. ‘The land has become fertile again,’ the village chief reports. ‘There have been enormous improvements. Our fruit trees were shriveled up, but now they’re growing again. There’s even a larger number of species. Those are really positive results. We now have food security. Our children can go to school. We have a better life. We no longer need to ask the government for support, thanks to the changes that were implemented.'”

‘People aren’t thinking about this ecological function. They’re ignoring science…’

Studies focusing on the relationship between the soil, moisture and organic matter helped scientists, ecologists and engineers form strategies to produce other success stories, such as one in Rwanda, where over-farmed hillsides caused serious erosion. In a desperate gamble to grow more food, poor farmers drained the protected Regazi Wetlands. But not only did this damage the wetland’s fragile ecosystem and wildlife, as it began drying out, it impacted power stations downriver, including the hydroelectric power system in Rwanda’s capital city Kagali three hours south. The Rwandan government was forced to rent diesel power generators to remedy the situation.

In bringing back the wetlands, as well as restoring fertility to the villagers’ lands, those responsible for its demise were solicited to help. Today, carbon-free electricity is replacing the diesel generators, stabilizing electricity prices throughout the region. Rwandan President Paul Kagame:

“We had to take a careful look at what had been happening to damage it, this system, and how to reverse that with human action. And it’s important to understand how human actions can destroy, or reverse what has been destroyed (to) even protect our environment.”

Identifying the Goal: Is It Temporary Production or Ongoing Sustenance?

Liu contends that our source of wealth is a functional ecosystem, not the products derived from them.

“It’s impossible for the derivative to be more valuable than the source. … And yet, in our economy now, as it stands, the products and services have monetary values, but the source – the functional ecosystems – (have) zero. This cannot be true. It’s false! We’ve created a global economic institution based on a theory of flawed logic. Carry that flaw in logic from generation to generation, we compound the mistake. “We’ve only just begun to understand the real value of natural capital. Surely investing in the restoration of damaged environments is a cost-effective way of solving many of the problems we face today.”

But farmers the world over sometimes need convincing. The problem, Liu says, is that they usually believe “production” is the goal, when the crucial, pressing need is sustainability so that the entire planet can be functional. In 1995, Jordanian farmers scoffed at the suggestion that trees be planted in order to build a more sustainable agricultural platform. It was confusing at first, but the premise held that investing in the program would come to fruition, literally, in their own foreseeable future, with the promise of ongoing agricultural enrichment for upcoming generations.

It meant the area’s farming-and-grazing status quo had to stop temporarily, but homesteaders were financially compensated. As villagers headed up the mountains with shovels, their new objective was to create a “hat” of trees at the top, terraces to form a “belt” and “shoes” – the foundation of a constructed dam at the bottom. Hills and gullies were designated as protected “ecological zones.” And it worked.

Permaculture: The Art of Working With – Not Against – Nature

Geoff Lawton introduced the permaculture concept in Australia, where rebuilding functional ecosystems from the ground up restores them to their fullest potential. It can create an agricultural heartland even in the desert in as little as three-and-a-half years, and being fully self-sufficient year-round, cycling its own nutrients without the need for irrigation or artificial fertilizer.

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems (to) have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”1

Lawton says there’s potential for abundance even in arid climates like Jordan’s Petra, now a stark shell of what was once thriving, known as “the land of milk and honey.” With its “ecological range of diversity and abundance, there’s potential for water flow, regional climate and microclimate moderation, completely different hydrology and the potential for well-designed productivity, (can lead) to permanence in human culture.”

Without restoration, the cycle of poverty continues to be passed down from generation to generation. When the trend is reversed, quality of life is improved, followed by improved diet, healthcare and educational opportunities.

Nature: NOT an ‘Enemy’ To Be Conquered or Manipulated…

In just the last ten years, 100 million tons of herbicides have been dumped onto our crops, polluting waterways and the soil where our food grows. A genetically engineered crop called “golden rice” has tainted the entire food industry throughout Asia, thanks to a sizable investment of cash from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which socked $20 billion into the enterprise.

Slash and burn agriculture, such as what’s done in Bolivia to make room for farming, involves burning ‘biomass’ – forests full of trees and fauna – for short-term monetary gain. But the most valuable commodity is being destroyed in the process destroying the most valuable thing in their system – the ability to help create biomass in other areas. It could create multiple industries in both areas and be mutually beneficial for everyone. Massive soy-growing plantations in Brazil are so dependent on the promise of economic wealth that local farmers are murdered and their lands confiscated, all to increase multi-nationally-owned soybean operations that decimated nearly 3 million acres of rainforest in just one year.2

Small- and Large-Scale Sustainability Practices – for Your Family, Community and the Globe

The life-giving effects of sustainability practices can be seen on several large scales now, but the principles are only as deep and complex as the soil. Compost feeds not just the plants, but the soil – or more specifically the soil organisms – is where 50 million genuses of bacteria and 50 million genuses of fungi thrive under the right conditions. According to Liu:

“Farmers in the Loess Plateau have continued to prosper, and the soil has been accumulating organic material from plants and animals. This holds the moisture and contains carbon… Living soils like this retain on average three times more carbon than the foliage above the ground. If we were to restore the vast area of the planet where we humans have degraded the soils, just think what an impact it would have in taking carbon out of the atmosphere.”

The entire Chinese continent has benefited from the lessons learned on the Loess Plateau. You can see it in the marketplaces, Liu says. Incomes have risen three-fold. We can make it happen here, as well.

The Ecosystem Isn’t Just Broken Over There… Look In Your Own Back Yard!

The tendency most of us have in so-called “developed” countries is to think those images of widespread ecological damage is far, far away and doesn’t involve us. But it does! Worse than simple farmers destroying the landscape through ignorance and tradition, the stripping and poisoning of our own natural resources is being done not unwittingy, but intentionally; not for the good of whole continents in the foreseeable future but for the financial profit of a few, now.

Perhaps you can’t do anything about that, and remedying those situations must be left to others. But you can make a difference now for yourself, for your family and community that might have residual effects.

  • Growing your own vegetables is a growing concept for thousands of Americans. It can help you save money, involve everyone in the family and help create a store that can last through the winter.
  • Organic gardening isn’t something extra you do – in fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s what you don’t do that makes the difference: no chemicals, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides on your plate! When you take control of what you eat, you’ll naturally enjoy better health, ensure and protecting future generations.
  • Composting is another way to make what you already have work for you in the future. Save those scraps, from egg shells to coffee filters, and use them to feed your vegetable garden.

When shopping for food, be informed regarding where that food was produced. A guide to help you can be found by clickinghere!

If you take advantage of the farm-fresh sustainability that’s becoming more prevalent as people take control of what they’re consuming, you’ll realize many benefits. First, you’ll know where the foods you and your family eat comes from, ensure optimal nutrition, and protect the health of future generations

by  Dr Mercola

Accidents: Flying Physicians

While forever warning their patients to shun unnecessary risks, doctors seem to jettison their own advice as soon as they take up flying. In 1964-65, reports the Federal Aviation Agency, 30 U.S. physician pilots died in crashes; in ten cases, the doctors’ families died with them. As a result, flying doctors had a fatal-accident rate four times as high as the average for all other private pilots.

Major causes of the high death rate, report Dr. Stanley Mohler, a specialist in aviation medicine, and Psychologist Sheldon Freud, were “risk-taking attitudes and judgments.” The two researchers were impressed by “the tendency…

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,836176,00.html#ixzz2QLuzXpNi

What is the Rice Diet Program?

The Rice Diet Program - The original rice diet since 1939
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Located in Durham NC, the Rice Diet is a lifestyle program that provides a safe and supportive environment to inspire profound changes, leading to lifelong health. The Rice Diet Program involves more than simply eating three healthy meals per day at the “Rice House.”

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On completion of the program, resources are available for participants to continue with a healthy lifestyle and to maintain the improved health gained while attending our Durham program.

Truth Behind Sugar Substitutes

Originally published on Thursday, March 21st, 2013
HEALTHY EATING by  for Bel Marra Health

The team a147245564Lean on Life recently sent us an interesting article on Sugar Substitutes.

Lean on Life is a team of committed health, nutrition and fitness experts with a website that combines the skill set of several doctors, nutritionists, fitness trainers, health coaches, chefs and passionate foodies. They aim help you look and feel your best by sharing invaluable health, fitness and weight loss secrets all in one place!

Trying to avoid sugar? There are a host of other options – both natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners – each with its vocal proponents and detractors. We’ve rounded up a top ten list to help you thresh out which sugar substitutes are safe for your health, and which ones may have health effects that are questionable.

10 Safe & Suspicious Alternative Sweeteners

Aspartame: SUSPICIOUS

Aspartame has been used as an artificial sweetener for around 30 years, and the medical community is still split between those who think it’s safe for health and those who find it potentially dangerous. It is the primary artificial sweetener in diet sodas and found in Equal brand sweetener. Amidst wide-scale scientific controversy, conspiracy theories and financial conflicts of interest, aspartame has emerged from the health wars as one of the most vigorously tested food additive to date, deemed safe for health by over one hundred different regulatory agencies from around the world. However, studies continue to find negative side effects from this artificial sweetener found in so many commercial drinks and products; it’s wise to monitor your intake of aspartame and be sure you aren’t overdoing this non-nutritive sweetener.

Sucralose: SUSPICIOUS

Sucralose is derived from sugar, but contains no calories and is 600 times sweeter, so you can use significantly less of it. Many people think that it is a natural sweetener, as it is originally derived from sugar. But turning sugar into sucralose requires replacing part of the sugar molecule with chlorine. This renders it lower in calories, but also creates a structure reminiscent of numerous pesticides. Sucralose is the artificial sweetener found in Splenda, and there is less evidence against it than other sweeteners. But it is too new to know potential long-term health effects.

Saccharin: SAFE

One of the earliest artificial sweeteners, saccharin was deemed unsafe for many years, and carried a health warning label that it caused cancer in lab animals. Now, however, after further testing, the label has been removed: human bodies did not demonstrate the same health effects seen in lab rats. Saccharin is frequently known for the metallic after-taste it leaves. If the taste doesn’t bother you,nor the thought of tumorous lab mice, current studies render this artificial sweetener to be safe for human consumption.

Stevia (Truvia): SAFE

Stevia is a calorie-free natural sweetener that comes from a plant in the Chysanthemum family. Some find it to have a bad aftertaste in food, but for many, it is the sweetener they’ve been waiting for. Common Stevia usage in Japan dates back over 30 years, lending credence to its safety for health. It’s also been used as a natural sweetener in its native South America for centuries, in various forms. Because of its naturally concentrated sweetness, only the smallest proportion is needed to replace sugar in recipes. It may require some experimenting with different forms (liquid or powder) and brands to find one whose taste suits you, but the general consensus is that this natural sweetener is safe for your health.

Honey: SAFE

Many people mistakenly think that honey is better for you than sugar; but when it comes to calories, they are actually pretty equal. However, honey is sweeter, so you don’t have to use as much. It’s also less processed compared to sugar, whose high processing needs carry environmental concerns and strip away any natural nutritional content that it originally contained. Some people prefer local raw honey for its trace nutrients and potential anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and wound healing health benefits. When using this natural sweetener as a sugar substitute in baking, keep in mind that it’s important to use less and to reduce other liquids.

Molasses: SAFE

Like honey, molasses is a natural sweetener that works well as a baking and cooking substitute, but requires tinkering with the recipe since it has a different sweetness and consistency. It can contain many minerals; a rule of thumb is the darker the molasses, the better for health and the more nutrient dense it is—but it will also have a stronger “molasses” flavor to it. It contains more calories than sugar, but because it’s sweeter it can be used in smaller quantities.

Dates: SAFE

Date paste is easy to make at home (soak dates and then throw them into a blender), or can be purchases pre-prepared at many stores. The result is a vaguely caramel-flavored sweetener, exchangeable for agave, honey, or other liquids. Closer to its original, raw form, date paste is a natural sweetener that retains its fiber and nutritional content, making it a health ful alternative to refined sugar. Date sugar, which is dehydrated and ground dates, can be substituted for both brown and white sugar. It is less sweet than sugar, but healthier overall, and carries none of the potential side effects of the artificial sweeteners.

Neotame: SUSPICIOUS

A relatively new artificial sweetener, Neotame is thousands of times sweeter than table sugar. It’s manufactured by the same company as aspartame, and isn’t available direct to consumers yet. But it’s already being used as an additive in some foods, and no labelling is required. Critics of Neotame claim that it is actually more toxic than aspartame, and that the studies have been flawed. Given its relationship to aspartame and the controversy already brewing, it’s another artificial sweetener who’s health effects are still questionable and should be avoided thus far. If you know where it’s hiding that is.

Acesulfame K: SUSPICIOUS

This no-calorie, no-aftertaste artificial sweetener seems like an ideal solution, but it needs to undergo more testing. It’s currently approved by the FDA for general purposes; however, some experts worry that it may be a potential carcinogen, and all seem to agree that it’s best to stick to small doses. Since it’s so new to the market, it’s wise to be wary until more health research is undergone and side effects are studied more thoroughly.

Agave Syrup: SUSPICIOUS

Agave liquid and powder are the latest sweetener crazes, trying to jump on the natural sweetener bandwagon along with Stevia. However, agave syrup and other derived sweeteners are often highly refined and processed products, and their production is unregulated. While some variants are organic, most are made from the root of the plant instead of the traditional stem, and are heavily processed. Due to the lack of consistency in production, and without a clear label deeming the product raw, organic and sourced from the stem, there is no guarantee that agave has any more health benefits than other sweeteners.

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