Humans: Now with 1200% More Glyphosate!

crop dusterAlthough pesticide drift means that organic crops raised near conventional ones may bear traces of synthetic chemical pesticides, on the whole, their pesticide load is lower than on conventional crops. As one organic consultant has put it,

When you compare organic versus conventional food, it is absolutely inarguable that organic food reduces dietary exposure to pesticides by 98 percent.

And not only do you get less residue on the foods; you get less in the environment, which benefits us all.

Even so, synthetic pesticides are pervasive, and our exposure to them is greater than ever. According to a paper published last month in JAMA, the number of people exposed to glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – jumped 500% in adults over 50 between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s. And levels of glyphosate soared more than 1200%!

As Time Magazine noted in their coverage of the study,

Exactly what that means for human health isn’t quite clear yet. There are few studies of the chemical and its effects on people, although animal studies raise some concerns. One trial from the UK, in which rats were fed low levels of glyphosate throughout their lives, found that the chemical contributed to a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver and contributes to inflammation and scarring of the tissue. [Paul] Mills [the lead author of the new JAMA study] says that the levels of glyphosate documented in the people in his study were 100-fold greater than those in the rats.

How does it feel to be a human lab rat?

Other recent research has shed light on more potential health effects of pesticide exposure. For instance, one study just published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that “dietary pesticide exposure within the range of typical human exposure may be associated with reproductive consequences.”

More specifically,

The results showed that women who ate more than two servings of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables a day were 18 percent less likely to get pregnant, and 26 percent less likely to give birth, than those who ate less than one serving of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables a day.

The findings held, even after the researchers took into account factors that could affect reproductive health, such as age, body mass index (BMI) and smoking habits, and whether the women said they ate organic fruits and vegetables, which tend to have lower levels of pesticide residues.

Of course, there are two important caveats here, starting with the fact that this was an epidemiological study. It looked only for associations. It doesn’t show cause and effect.

Also, this is one of the first studies to show an association in humans. Though it confirms what was earlier seen in animals, much more research remains to be done to either confirm or negate these findings.

Even so, you’ve nothing to lose and plenty to gain by shifting your diet ever more in the direction of organic and sustainable.

For one, it usually has more flavor. (Doubt it? Taste an organic apple and then a conventionally grown one, and the difference will be obvious.)

There’s some evidence that it packs a greater nutritional punch, as well. For produce, this appears largely due to the fact that industrial farming depletes the soil of nutrients. Organic farmers, on the other hand, will tell you that their job is to create good soil. Take good care of the soil, and the crops will take care of themselves.

And no, eating organic doesn’t have to be more expensive. With a little planning, it can be doable even on a tight budget.

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Yet Another Entrant in the Great Toothbrush Speed Stakes

First, there was the 30-second toothbrush. But, dang it: You actually had to hold it in your hand and move it around your mouth.

Then came the 6-second brush, no handle required – just a mouthpiece that was, in the words of one blogger, “kind of scary, like one of the mean, aggressive fish from Finding Nemo.”

But then things slowed down with the 10-second brush, which got hyped to the heavens this past summer as a super time saver.

Yet there are those who seem to think that even 10 seconds is far too long to clean your teeth (or at least the 60% of total tooth surface that a brush can reach; you still have the other 40% that still needs to be cleaned).

And thus came

3 second toothbrush

The maker of this device claims it can clean all your teeth perfectly in just 3 seconds, courtesy of 22 brush heads rotating feverishly around each tooth. The thing hooks up to your smartphone, which controls the cleaning cycles.

[Its investor, Nicola] Nichele claimed he was inspired to invent it after finding using a manual brush before going to bed is “terribly annoying” when he was a “penniless” 18-year-old in 2007.

It takes two minutes to brush your teeth. Dude has a very low threshold of annoyance.


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5 Sleep Remedies You May Not Have Heard Of

closed eyelidSo last time, we looked at why sleep is so important, which naturally raises the question: How can we get more of it – or get better sleep than we’re getting now?

For the sad fact is that most of us are constantly, chronically sleep-deprived – and we’ve all heard the reasons why: work demands, overscheduled lives, tablets and smartphones, chronic stress, and the like.

And we’ve heard the usual tips: go to bed at the same time every night; no electronics in the bedroom; no eating after 8pm; no caffeine at night.

Of course, there are the usual natural remedies you can try, many of which work very well. These include “sleepy” teas with ingredients such as valerian root, lemon grass, passionflower, and other botanicals known to help with relaxation and sleep. Others prefer using essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, chamomile, and marjoram. Melatonin supplements likewise help a lot of people and are readily available in most drug and grocery stores, as well as online.

But here are a few remedies and supplements that you may not have heard of and may want to try out to help you get a good night’s sleep. Note, though, that some of these are available only through health professionals. You can ask your local biological dentist or integrative physician about getting these supplements.

  1. Glysom
    This is an amino acid supplement (glycine) that, according to its producer, helps induce sleep by resetting your body’s internal clock, signalling the body to relax. Glycine is something your body naturally produces, and is not only an important structural component of proteins and enzymes but also functions as a neurotransmitter. You can just drop a packet of the powder directly on your tongue and let it dissolve. (It tastes vaguely lemony.) Or you can dissolve it in water to sip before bedtime. You can buy this supplement directly online.

  2. Hypothalmapath
    This compound homeopathic from energetix is terrific for encouraging a deeper sleep. Some patients who have used it say that they actually started dreaming more after starting this remedy, which is designed to address symptoms related to the endocrine and nervous symptoms. Communication between these two vital systems is accomplished by the hypothalamus via the pituitary gland (hence, the name). A half dropper before sleep is plenty.

  3. GABA Plus
    There are several different products by this name produced by different companies, each with slightly different ingredients but all designed to support sleep – mainly through GABA, which is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter. The blend we prefer is from ProThera, which also includes glycine, taurine (another amino acid), and inositol. The amino acids both support the calming effect, while inositol – a secondary messenger (a signalling molecule that triggers physiological changes) – is said to balance mood and stabilze emotions. Unlike the two remedies above, GABA plus is meant to be taken during the day between meals, swallowed in capsule form.

  4. HTP-5
    Again, there are many brands of HTP-5 available, but we favor the formulation from ProThera. HTP-5 is a safe, natural alternative to the amino acid tryptophan – that amino acid notorious for making you sleepy after your traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (This is a bit of myth, but it persists.). For tryptophan helps form serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter that’s also involved in melatonin production. ProThera’s HTP-5 comes in capsule form, with one to two capsules daily being the general recommendation.

  5. TheraSleep
    Also by ProThera, this herbal supplement contains hops, passionflower, and chamomile – all excellent botanicals for sleep support. One or two capsules may be taken about an hour before you want to fall asleep.

  6. Previously

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Sleep Is Good Food

sleeping womanSleep is everywhere in the news these days – from the Nobel Prize being awarded for discoveries related to circadian rhythms to the epidemic of sleep loss in modern developed nations and its impact on the quality of our lives.

Sleep is, after all, a vital – if long overlooked – aspect of our biology and our neurobiology in particular. We should pay attention to it.

Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. ― Thomas Dekker

In this engaging TED Talk, circadian neuroscientist Russell Foster outlines sleep’s importance to our health and well-being:

Image by Alyssa L. Miller, via Flickr

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Conventional Dentistry Actually Takes a Step Forward

Focal infection theory holds that problems in one part of the body can and do affect health throughout the body. And for decades, the dental establishment has pooh-poohed it.


Just this past week, BDJ published a summary of a new paper that “revists” the concept of focal infection.

Between 1947 and 1989, 82 papers were published, addressing possible links between oral and systemic disease. Since 1989, however, there have been more than 1,200 such publications. These indicate that there are associations between oral disease and conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis and infant low birth weight. Whilst these links are not established as causal, the relationship between the mouth and the rest of the human body is being made yet again but this time on a scientific basis, showing that the dental profession does have a role to play in the health of the patient as a whole.

The same issue featured an interview with Paula Moynihan, a Professor of Nutrition & Oral Health at Newcaste Univesity School of Dental Sciences and next in line to be president of the International Association of Dental Research. One of her aims? “Help bridge the gap between oral health and systemic health.”

Notably, Moynihan isn’t a dentist. She’s a nutritionist. Maybe it takes a non-dentist to help kick establishment dentistry out of its rut.

For she also seems to favor a more vigorous, honest, and sensible approach to prevention than conventional dentistry promotes.

Fluoride and oral hygiene are important but I think there’s only so much we can achieve with fluoride. Dental caries isn’t a fluoride deficiency disease, the fluoride is simply mopping up some of the damage caused by sugars, or some might argue that it’s simply delaying it and making cavitation occur at a later stage, that fluoride makes the teeth more resistant but eventually the decay still occurs, as highlighted in the work of late Aubrey Sheiham and Eduardo Bernabie at UCL. It’s not universally accepted but I still think you need to get rid of the cause. Aubrey worked with Eduardo Bernabie and suggested that dental caries increases with age independent of cohort effects so that would suggest now that dental caries is occurring later, so we need to get rid of the cause, and the cause is dietary sugars.

This is a breath of fresh air. No, it’s not complete. You can’t talk about the oral-systemic link without also acknowledging the issues we noted last week – toxicity related to mercury fillings, root canal teeth, implants, and more. You also can’t discuss it without acknowledging the role of the biological terrain in guiding whether and how oral conditions will manifest in systemic symptoms and dysfunction.

But it’s a step forward, and every step forward is a win for both the dental profession and the people it serves. That should never be discounted.



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A (Bio)Logical Path to Health

stethoscope on dollarsAccording to new data from the California Health Care Foundation, Americans spent just under $120 billion on dental care in 2015.

That’s a lot of money – until you consider that it’s a measly 4% of the total spent on health care that year.

All told, Americans spent $3 trillion on all health care that year. That’s almost 20% of our country’s gross domestic product. Most of it went to hospital care and clinical services. And for all that was spent on prescription drugs, more than double that went to insurance-related costs.

It makes you wonder – or, at least, it makes us wonder – how much lower those numbers could be if our health care system were actually a health care system; if the focus was on wellness, prevention, and dealing with causes instead of merely alleviating damage and managing symptoms.

And how much lower than that could they be if even a fraction of that spending were directed toward dental care?

As the great physician Dr. Reinhold Voll taught, “80 to 90 percent of systemic problems are caused, or influenced by the oral cavity, tonsils, and sinuses.” The causes include oral infection, mercury amalgam fillings, toxic root canal teeth, osteonecrosis of the jaw (cavitations), malocclusion, and more.

The systemic manifestations are just as varied: heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders (MS, ALS, lupus, et al), fibromyaligia, chronic fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivities, and more.

Whether and how oral conditions affect overall health is, of course, guided by the health of the extracellular matrix, or biological terrain. When the terrain is healthy, the body is resilient. The individual’s dental concerns – mercury, root canals, cavitations, and such – can then be tended to more successfully, in a way that contributes to the restoration of overall health.

Even better? Avoiding those dental problems to begin with – maintaining a healthful lifestyle; practicing good hygiene; and working with a well-trained biological dentist who fully understands the relationship between oral and whole body health, conscious of the issues with mercury, root canals, and so on.

But as ever, the terrain comes first. The terrain is everything.

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“This Diet Is Killing Us”

There’s a great meme we saw on Facebook recently:

There is no junk food. Junk is considered useless or of little value. It is synonymous with rubbish. If it is junk, it isn’t food. Food nourishes and sustains us. It is essential to maintain life and growth.

Of course, that’s never stopped industry from trying to sell us on the wholesomeness of the crap they sell. They’ve done it for ages.

And if we don’t buy it here in the States? Well, there’s a whole world out there to be exploited. And so purveyors of hyper-processed junk continue to look abroad for opportunities to sell, sell, sell.

Of course, this also means exporting the chronic disease that goes hand in hand with the modern Western diet.

And this brings us to the main thing we wanted to share with you this week: a powerful essay in the New York Times on Nestlé’s incursions into Brazil. While some may say that the company is at least creating new economic opportunities for locals, it comes at quite a social and cultural cost.

Nestlé’s direct-sales army in Brazil is part of a broader transformation of the food system that is delivering Western-style processed food and sugary drinks to the most isolated pockets of Latin America, Africa and Asia. As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and General Mills have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India.

A New York Times examination of corporate records, epidemiological studies and government reports — as well as interviews with scores of nutritionists and health experts around the world — reveals a sea change in the way food is produced, distributed and advertised across much of the globe. The shift, many public health experts say, is contributing to a new epidemic of diabetes and heart disease, chronic illnesses that are fed by soaring rates of obesity in places that struggled with hunger and malnutrition just a generation ago.

The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished.

“The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.”

Go read the whole thing.

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