Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Truth About Milk

Everyone in our country is familiar with the phrase “Got Milk?” and it is usually tied to the mental picture of a beautiful and strong famous athlete that has a white “milk” mustache smeared across their upper lip.  No wonder this is the case with all the commercials on the television, the billboard signs, and the posters hanging in every public building promoting the creamy liquid that we all know as milk.  I hope that in the future, less and less of our children and our grandchildren will be familiar with this phrase and not have to ever think about having a gluey gross mustache smeared across their face.  Let me explain why…

To be very plain and simple, and blunt to say the least, milk and other dairy products are probably some of the worst foods that you could consume into your body on our planet.  Now before I go any further, let me explain that coming to this conclusion was not an easy road for me, as I am sure it hasn’t been or will not be for many of you.  Growing up I had milk in some form or another probably every day of my life from the time I was a year old on.  I had it on my cold cereal, I drank it by the cup full, I ate tons of cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream and butter.  I remember begging my mom to let me lick off the sour cream spoon after dinner before she put it in the dishwasher because it tasted so good.  Anything milk could go in or on, the more the better.  And I preferred a large glass of cold milk with almost every meal over any other beverage.  I consumed more dairy (by a long shot) than any other person I knew.  I never thought twice about the milk I consumed until I was in high school.  For some reason, I was beginning to get severe stomach aches and cramps after I had milk or dairy products.  It took me a while to realize that this is where they were coming from because they wouldn’t occur until several hours after I had eaten.  But then the amount of time it took for the dairy to affect me shortened significantly and within 15 minutes or less of having some form of milk, I became really sick.  We tried to find solutions for this allergy because it made me sick all the time, but I continued to gorge myself with the awful stuff because I was addicted-literally!  Finally we found a type of natural healing method that a specialized chiropractor did to help alleviate many of my allergies, and for a while, I could again have dairy without a problem.  But that only lasted about a year or so.  

My real change of heart came about a year ago (five years after my allergies came back) after I was married and I began studying Foot Zoning and how to improve my diet.  My love for milk had not changed, but I didn’t buy it quite as often because I now was paying for it myself and it was a pretty penny, especially with the amount I consumed.  In my schooling and personal studying I kept hearing over and over that milk and dairy products were bad for you; that they contributed to allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancer, obesity and all sorts of other chronic illnesses that our society is plagued with.  I wanted to ignore all of the information I was hearing and coming across, but I kind of had to face it when my infant daughter was getting sick from any form of dairy.  I had to stop eating it again myself when I was breastfeeding her, and then at 4 ½ months, when she refused to continue nursing, I had to make my own formula for her because everything on the shelves at the grocery store had some form of cow’s milk in it.  My stubborn side still wanted to believe that everything I had been told growing up was true.  Milk-it does the body good!  Drink milk so you can grow strong teeth and bones.  You can only get enough calcium if you drink milk.  Milk is an excellent source of protein and the more the better…right?  I wanted to believe all of those lies that I had been fed as a youth and continued to hear up until this point.  So I decided to do my own research and prove these “Food Naziests” wrong.  I was sure that I could find some good scientific research, that was well documented, that proved milk to be everything that I wanted to believe it was.  I was in for a major shock!  I could not find one single reliable source that showed evidence milk was healthy for you-not even a little bit.  The only places I found any information promoting dairy were from the large dairy corporations or companies that received major amounts of money from these corporations if they supported them.  There was no scientific evidence anywhere.  That is when everything changed for me and my family…and yes, it happened basically overnight.  I couldn’t believe that I was feeding this awful substance to my family and I vowed from then on that I would not ever do it again.  

  "At least 50% of all children in the United States are allergic to cow's milk, many undiagnosed. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergy, often revealed by diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue. Many cases of asthma and sinus infections are reported to be relieved and even eliminated by cutting out dairy."
      -Natural Health, July, 1994, Nathaniel Mead, MD 

50% of all children in the United States are allergic to cow’s milk?  That is one in every two kids, and my daughter was one of them.  Most people believe that over time, children grow out of this food allergy, but this isn’t the case.  What happens instead is that their body learns to cope with the terrible “food” that it is given on a regular basis and is required to function anyway.  This DOES NOT mean that the milk is no longer affecting them in a negative manner because it does.  
Cow’s milk has changed significantly in the past 50 years and this is why there is such a huge spike in the amount of allergy occurrences but also in the amount of other health problems that consuming dairy leads to such as asthma, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, cancer, digestive disorders and many others.  The dairy industry found that if they used growth hormones and injected these hormones into their milk producing cows that their milk supply increased significantly.  However, the hormones took a toll on the cows and gave many of them ovarian cysts, mastitis, skin infection and many other illnesses.  So many antibiotics had to be used alongside these growth hormones to keep the animals “healthy”. Fifty years ago the average cow produced 2,000 pounds of milk a year.  Now, with the aid of these hormones, antibiotics, and their force-feeding unhealthy diet, the average dairy cow produces 50,000 pounds of milk a year.  This increase in milk production increased the dairy industries profits enormously, so why was there any reason not to use the hormones?   Maybe because all of the hormones, antibiotics, and unhealthy food the cows were being fed showed up in the milk.  Oh ya, as well as the pus, blood, and bacteria that came from the infections that the cows had too.  Dr. Robert M. Kradjian, MD in an article he wrote entitled, “The Milk Letter: A Message to My Patients” he states,

“Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk. This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones. Also, all cows' milk contains blood! The inspectors are simply asked to keep it under certain limits. You may be horrified to learn that the USDA allows milk to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells per milliliter. (That's only 1/30 of an ounce). If you don't already know this, I'm sorry to tell you that another way to describe white cells where they don't belong would be to call them pus cells. The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) tells us that the FDA and the  individual States are failing to protect the public from drug residues in milk. Authorities test for only 4 of the 82 drugs in dairy cows.”

When I read this I was completely disgusted and horrified at the same time because I knew that our own government was allowing this to happen. 

If you look at milk drinking from nature’s perspective, you will find that humans are the only creatures that drink milk of another species.  And we are also the only species that continues to drink milk after “weaning”.  Dogs drink dog milk, cats drink cat milk, pigs drink pig milk, and cows drink cow milk because each of their individual bodies are designed to produce the right amount of milk nutritionally for their babies.  Human bodies do the exact same thing if the mother eats a healthy diet that is not full of processed foods, added chemicals and especially diary.  Cows are large animals and their milk is specially formulated to help their bodies grow to that large state in a quick amount of time.  On average calves are weaned from their mother’s milk at seven to eight months of age.  Their milk has a relatively high fat content of almost 4% according to the Dairy Council and it also contains a very large amount of protein.  Again referring back to Dr. Kradjian’s article,

“Milk is not just milk. The milk of every species of mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal. For example, cows' milk is very much richer in protein than human milk;  three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral content. However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared to human mothers' milk. Mothers' milk has six to ten times as much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. (Incidentally, skimmed cow's milk has no linoleic acid). It simply is not designed for humans.”

Another common concern most people have about not drinking milk or eating dairy is, “Where do I get my calcium?”  The exact same place that the cows get their calcium from-greens!  Cows do not eat animal protein except for what they get from their mother’s milk those first few months of life.  After that, they eat grass and other green plants (unless of course they are on dairy farms and then they are stuffed with soy, corn, hormones, and all sorts of other terrible genetically modified foods to help fatten them up) and they get all the calcium they need to build those strong bones.  Why do you think their milk is so high in calcium?  The only problem is, because of the large amount of fat and protein that also exists in their milk, our bodies cannot absorb that calcium.  In fact, drinking cow’s milk actually inhibits the absorption of calcium that we get from eating green leafy vegetables and other whole foods because of the large amounts of fat and protein.  According to Dr. Deborah Sellmeyer, MD drinking milk is anything but beneficial for our calcium absorption.  She says,

Drinking milk does not prevent osteoporosis. Milk contains calcium. Bones contain calcium too. When we are advised to add calcium to our diets we tend to drink milk or eat dairy foods. In order to absorb calcium, the body needs comparable amounts of another mineral element, magnesium. Milk and dairy products contain only small amounts of magnesium. Without the presence of magnesium, the body only absorbs 25 percent of the available dairy calcium content. The remainder of the calcium spells trouble. Without magnesium, excess calcium is utilized by the body in injurious ways. The body uses calcium to build the mortar on arterial walls which becomes atherosclerotic plaques. Excess calcium is converted by the kidneys into painful stones which grow in size like pearls in oysters, blocking our urinary tracts. Excess calcium contributes to arthritis; painful calcium buildup often is manifested as gout…The massive amounts of protein in milk result in a 50 percent loss of calcium in the urine. In other words, by doubling your protein intake there will be a loss of 1-1.5 percent in skeletal mass per year in postmenopausal women. The calcium contained in leafy green vegetables is more easily absorbed than the calcium in milk, and plant proteins do not result in calcium loss the same way as do animal proteins. If a postmenopausal woman loses 1-1.5 percent bone mass per year, what will be the effect after 20 years? When osteoporosis occurs levels of calcium (being excreted from the bones) in the blood are high. Milk only adds to these high levels of calcium which is excreted or used by the body to add to damaging atherosclerosis, gout, kidney stones, etc.”

We have discussed milk quite a bit already and the amount of fat and protein in whole cow’s milk.  I would like to explain a little bit of what happens to the milk when it is made into other dairy products.  87% of milk is water.  When other dairy products are made most of that water is eliminated so all that most of what remains is the fat and protein.  In order to get one pound of cheese it requires ten pounds of milk and on average most people in America individually eat 31 pounds of cheese a year.  It requires twenty one pounds of whole milk to make one pound of butter.  Ice cream is a mixture of milk, sugar, eggs, and flavoring.  Ice cream that is not homemade is required to be at least 10% milk fat.  The more condensed milk is, the worse off it becomes for you.  That is why all dairy products are so detrimental to our health. 

One last thing I want to mention is about the type of protein in milk.  If milk is 87% water then that leaves 13% of other things.  Of that 13%, 4% is casein.  Casein is a protein that is very prevalent in milk and dairy products but is also the main ingredient for glue and other adhesives.  

“CASEIN is a tenacious glue.  Eighty-seven percent of milk is water.
  Four percent of the remaining thirteen percent is CASEIN.  
The furniture in your home is held together by this powerful 
glue.  So too is the label affixed to a bottle of beer.”
     -Dr. Robert Cohen, MD

It is no wonder that diary contributes to digestive disorders, heart disease, strokes, cancer and a myriad of other problems.  This glue coats not only or blood vessels and arteries, our small intestines and colon, but everything else in our body too.  If you haven’t gotten the point yet, milk and dairy is anything but good for you.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that eliminating diary from your diet will make a huge impact on your health.  It takes 7 days for dairy to completely leave your system.  So once I was COMPLETELY diary free for just over a week, my acne (that I had had ever since I was in the 5th grade) cleared up, my allergies (food and seasonal) pretty much disappeared, I no longer deal with depression and panic attacks, and it helped in my loss of 50 pounds in just over a year (and this was done strictly through changing my diet, not an exercise plan).  Cutting out dairy from my diet also aided in the elimination of my knee problems that I have had since I was about nine years old.  I have taken the prescription drugs, did the physical therapy and specialized insoles, and I also had surgery on both knees.  Nothing worked until I learned about Foot Zoning and realized that the problem was caused by too much protein buildup in my knees restricting the blood circulation.  The elimination of all of that protein that came from dairy helped significantly in correcting my knee problems and now I live with virtually no knee pain.  

Cutting out dairy will change your life in more ways than one, but don’t take my word for it. There is so much scientific literature and well documented evidence to show the harmful effects of dairy, go figure it out for yourself.  And if you don’t feel like reading, then avoid dairy completely for 7 days and then go drink a big glass of milk.  Then you will understand that it does have an effect on you as well, and trust me, you won’t like how you feel afterwards.

Here are some great links to get you started on your own research:

Part 1
Part 2

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cataracts and Macular Degeneration

 “It is estimated that over 100 million people worldwide will go blind this year. Cataracts and aged-related macular degeneration — the two leading causes of eyesight loss in this country — will rob over 33 million Americans of their vision.” –Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D.

            Even though millions of people all over the world are suffering from cataracts and macular degeneration, most of us (if you are anything like me) do not know much about these diseases unless you are directly involved with someone who already has these problems or are suffering from them first hand.  I want to give a brief explanation about these two diseases and how they come about, and then we will discuss some health efforts that can help combat against cataracts and macular degeneration.
            The lens in the human eye is very similar to the lens of a camera.  There is one major difference though and that is that the lens in our eye can change shape which allows us to see things both near and far away from us.  Overtime, the lens in our eye begins to lose its elasticity because of free radicals. http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html is a website that gives a great explanation of what a free radical is.
“Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body's antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients so they must be supplied in the diet.”
These free radicals will enter into the lens of the eye and start attacking the proteins there.  This causes the lens to become stiff and cloudy.  This cloudiness in the eye is what is known as a cataract.
Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula in the eye.  The macula is a small portion of the retina that is extremely sensitive and is in charge of the detailed central vision.  When this deterioration or degeneration occurs, the nerve cells in the macula die off and so does the most vital part of our eye sight.  Everything begins to go blurry, especially in the center of vision, and colors begin to go dull.  It is not completely known why macular degeneration occurs, but it is known that this disease is linked to high levels of free radicals, just like cataracts. 
            Luckily, with cataracts, there have been some medical advancements, such as lens replacements, that can help with the treatment of this disease—or maybe we aren’t so helpful after all.  With macular degeneration, there isn’t really much that modern medicine can offer for those who are going blind.  According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, in his May 2006 newsletter, he states that there is new research showing people who have had lens replacements to help with their cataracts are at a 3.8 times greater risk for developing macular degeneration then those who have not had lens replacements.  So what is there to do if the latest medical advancements in eye health actually will cause more severe diseases to the eye further down the road? 
            How about turning, instead, to our diet and focusing more on good nutrition. There is significant evidence that shows these diseases are actually caused by poor nutrition, so lets change our diet and save our eye sight at the same time.  Many people think that the deterioration of the eye is just part of aging, but it is not.  Researchers in the field of ophthalmology agree that gradual loss of vision is actually a process coming from disease.  
There are many factors that will increase the risk of contracting these terrible eye diseases.  A very common factor that almost everyone deals with is the sun.  Even though the sun is one of the strongest natural healers on the planet (I will discuss this more later), it can be very damaging to the eyes if the UV rays are too strong.  This radiation will cause more free radicals to develop in the eyes and further the progression of cataracts and macular degeneration.  Another strange fact is that people who wear eyeglasses (especially if they do not have UV protection) are at greater risk for these eye diseases than those who do not wear them.  This is due to the fact that the sunlight is magnified through the lenses and can be more destructive to the eye lens and retina.
            Another risk that can have a very large influence on the development of these diseases is sugar.  Most people don’t put these two things together, but when sugar is consumed in high quantities, it causes inflammation in the body.  Having constant and excessive inflammation in the body causes free radicals.  And now we are right back to where we started from.  We all need sugar for our bodies to function, but we should be getting this sugar from natural whole foods.  Refined sugars, processed sugars, and especially artificial sweeteners are extremely detrimental to our health.  Not only do they contribute to eye disease, but also to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
            Diet is more specifically tied to macular degeneration than it is to cataracts.  Macular degeneration is considered to be age related because so many people begin to develop this disease when they get above the age of 50.  However, free radicals also build up over time; so the older you are, the more you will have present in your body—unless you do something to change that like improving your diet.  There are several foods that are harmful to your body and will produce free radical after consuming them.  These foods are: Omega-6 oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, soybean and peanut oils), Trans-fatty acids (partially hydrogenated oils and many hydrogenated oils), Excess sugar, Fructose, Monosodium glutamate (MSG), Aspartame, Hydrolyzed proteins, Soy proteins, and Toxic metals.  Almost all of us eat refined and processed foods on a daily basis.  If you stop and take a look at the ingredients of those foods, you will most likely find one or two of these foods and often times they contain upwards of five or more.  Diet is a HUGE key in eliminating many of the risk factors for eye disease. 
            Taking again from Dr. Blaylock’s May 2006 newsletter, he states that,
“There are studies showing that lutein and zeaxanthin are superior protectors against cataracts. High concentrations of these two carotenoids are found in spinach and broccoli… In fact, studies involving spinach itself also elicited dramatic cataract reductions. Among the 50 or so carotenoids present in fruits and vegetables, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two that can also be found in the lens of the eye. Vitamins C and E (E to a lesser degree) are also major protectors of the eye lens. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2002 determined that elevated vitamin C intake reduced cataract risk by 64% — a conclusion confirmed after a second investigation from the Nurses’ Health Study.”
There are many other fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants that can help fight against these free radicals that are so damaging to the eye and so many other parts of the body.  Foods rich in antioxidants are: berries (Cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, crowberry, blueberry, bilberry/wild blueberry, black currant), pomegranate, grape, orange, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, kale, chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, ginger, and red beets.
            Other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the health of the eye are zinc, riboflavin, B12, selenium, taurine (an amino acid), and beta carotene.  Vitamins C and E as well as all carotenoids are beneficial as was mentioned previously.  Excellent sources for these vitamins and minerals are in fresh fruits, especially cantaloupe and berries, carrots, yams, alp alpha, Icelandic moss, and super blue-green algae (from Klamath Lake in Oregon).  There are some herbs that are a great way to get these nutrients as well.  They are comfrey, evening primrose, Echinacea, blue flag, and golden seal.  You can make eye compresses out of some of these herbs too; raspberry leaves, chamomile, with grated carrots as well as hydrosols (rose, chamomile, lavender, myrtle, and sage), elder flower water, and aloe vera juice.
            As I said previously, I would come back and address the healing power of the sunshine for the eyes.  This might seem like it contradicts what I said before about avoiding the sun and the UV rays, but many people actually sun gaze to help restore their vision.  This is not done by looking directly at the sun, because yes, this would damage your eyes quite severely.  You can, however, sun gaze early in the morning or in the evening when the sun’s rays are refracted and they are not directly penetrating your eyes.  You have to start with only a very short amount of time (10 seconds) and over a period of several months you can gaze at the sun for longer periods of time.  Through this process you strengthen your eyes and the sun doesn’t harm you.  The sunlight actually will kill off the free radicals as well as heal the degeneration that has already occurred.  There are a couple different methods of this process that have shown great success for many, many people.  One method is called the Bates method and was created by
Dr William Horatio Bates.  To learn more about this and how it came about please follow this link http://www.seeing.org/index.html.  The other method which is referred to as sun gazing has been around for thousands of years and is currently being taught by a man named Hira Ratan Manek.  To learn more please go to his website http://solarhealing.com/history/.
There are many ways that we can protect our eyes, and probably the most influential thing is to eat right. 
“It is estimated that over 100 million people worldwide will go blind this year. Cataracts and aged-related macular degeneration — the two leading causes of eyesight loss in this country — will rob over 33 million Americans of their vision.” –Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D.
This number of people is far too many.  Don’t be one of the 100 million people that will lose their vision this year.  Take control and make some changes.  They are simple and inexpensive changes that could make a difference in how you see for the rest of your life.