Well Spring has truly sprung, even in our part of the world where we haven’t seen decent rain since October last year. The resilience of Mother Nature amazes me as I watch the deciduous fruit trees bursting into blossom while the citrus trees around them are dying. My farming husband spends his days trying to ensure that the livestock have enough water as he moves them from camp to camp to find grazing. My mantra these days: “This too will pass” and I know it will, as we’ve been here before, however the question is “for how long this time?” Sounds like I’m drowning in depression here but I assure you I am not. There are lessons to be learnt from droughts and we’re learning every day of small ways that each one of us can make a difference when it comes to saving our planet for future generations. I am just so grateful that most other parts of this beautiful country have not been affected by the drought. So on a more cheery note I remind you that this is planting season and in this newsletter I remind you why its so important to do your planting organically. If you haven’t already done so then please do start your own vegetable garden on the 22 September, when there is a national drive to get as many people as possible to plant organic vegetable seeds or seedlings on that day. To register please click on the Planting Season icon on the home page of my website http://www.orchardsnutrition.co.za/. I love checking this banner everyday to see how many more people have joined. The power of networking never ceases to amaze me. Its power is also evident in the way those who are looking to shed light on the dangers of the swine flu vaccine, as highlighted in my August newsletter, are making a huge impact. According to a recent Fox News poll, the majority of people in the US now believe the swine flu vaccine may be deadlier than the actual virus and research published in the August 25 issue of the British Medical Journal reveals that more than half of doctors and nurses in public hospitals would also refuse the H1N1 vaccine, due to concerns about side effects and doubts about its efficacy. Food for thought indeed.
In case you thought this is end of my newsletter, I haven’t actually started yet!!!
Topics this month:
Organic foods and your health
The real cause of heart disease
Gardasil researcher cautions parents
ORGANIC FOODS AND YOUR HEALTH
When it comes to health, growing our own foods and growing them organically is really non-negotiable. The whole idea of eating fresh fruit and vegetables is to get essential nutrients that our bodies require for optimum health and nutrition. Growing your own vegetables and doing it organically, means being able to eat as you pick, thus ensuring that you are deriving maximum benefit from these nutrient-packed powerhouses, and knowing that you are avoiding the dangers of pesticides. Buying inorganic foods from the supermarket, on the other hand, leaves a big question mark as to how much goodness you’re actually taking in and how much bad stuff is going into your body at the same time. The vegetables and fruit are often picked and stored before they ripen and then get transported over large distances. Then they may lie on the supermarket shelves under fluorescent lights for a couple of days, all this time losing precious nutrients. Chances are they have been grown in mineral-depleted soils using petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides and now, lucky us, we can even add genetically engineered foods to the list of evils. A situation has arisen whereby food being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain the necessary minerals, are starving us of the nutrients we need for optimum health, no matter how much of them we eat.
Washing produce with water has little effect on pesticide residues as many are formulated to resist being washed off by rain or sprinklers. Tests with potatoes, apples and broccoli showed that between 50 and 93 per cent of pesticide residues, never meant for human consumption, remained on the produce after washing with water. Some apples are sprayed up to 16 times with approximately 36 different chemicals before they reach the supermarket shelves and are also often coated with a wax, once again a petrochemical which was never meant to go into our bodies. Although peeling may help, to some extent, to remove surface residues, it won’t get rid of the systemic pesticides that have been taken up in the flesh of the apple.
Dangers of pesticides
Chemicals sprayed on foods we eat enter our body cells and bloodstream where they become toxins, polluting and poisoning us. Since many are fat-soluble, pesticides can be stored in our body’s fatty tissues for years. The hazards include possible increased risks of cancer, infertility, allergies, neurological damage and immune system depression. So anybody with any type of cancer or a neurological disease such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis, would do well to go organic. Pesticides are also believed to have hormone disrupting effects. Many pesticide compounds have oestrogenic properties, and are classed as xeno(foreign)-oestrogens. Women with symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as PMT and menstrual irregularities should avoid non-organically grown food to reduce their exposure to xeno-oestrogenic pesticide residues. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function, resulting in decreased fertilising ability of the sperm. Conversely studies have shown that sperm concentration can be 43% higher among men eating organically produced foods.
Pregnant and nursing women should also be strictly on an organic diet. In 1975 French researchers found that mothers’ milk contained two to eight times more chlorinated pesticides than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) maximum tolerated level in foodstuffs. Children need organic foods even more than adults. Because they have a higher intake of food and water per unit of body weight than adults, have immature organ systems, and may have a limited ability to detoxify these substances, they are more susceptible to pesticide residues than adults.
WHAT REALLY CAUSES HEART DISEASE?
Recently I was privileged to attend a seminar presented by Dr Geert Verhelst of Belgium, an authority on the topics of cholesterol and diabetes. I so enjoyed hearing a medical doctor express his displeasure with the efforts of large pharmaceutical companies to have us all believe that cholesterol is the villain that causes heart disease and about the unnecessary prescribing of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) for what he regards as harmless cholesterol levels.
Due to numerous possible side-effects, such as muscle weakness, and the blocking of the essential Co-Q10 pathways, he might introduce statins in a patient only in the case of very stubborn levels above 8mmol/l, that will not be reduced by any other means. He himself does not treat, at all, an otherwise fit and healthy patient with slightly elevated cholesterol levels (5-6.4 mmol/l). Moderately elevated levels (6.5-7.9mmol/l), he usually manages to treat adequately with diet and supplements alone. Even in a patient with a cholesterol level of 8 mmol/l, he might not suggest a cholesterol-lowering regimen. This, as long as the patient is healthy in every other respect, has a ratio of Total Cholesterol over HDL (“good”) cholesterol less than 4, is following a good diet and exercising regularly, with all other blood test results mentioned below being at acceptable levels. Wow, the makers of statins clearly won’t be happy about this doctor traveling South Africa to give this same talk in all the major centres!
It is well documented that 50% of heart attack patients have normal cholesterol levels and it is now well accepted that cholesterol is not the culprit behind heart disease; the inflammation of blood vessels is. Rather than lowering cholesterol we need to take steps to decrease the cause of inflammation in our arteries. Cholesterol can only cause inflammation when free radicals oxidize native LDL cholesterol: LDL cholesterol being the “bad” cholesterol that you may have been warned about. But it really isn’t bad unless it is allowed to become oxidized and this will only happen if one does not have sufficient anti-oxidants on board.
Other more serious causes of blood vessel inflammation are: spiking blood glucose levels, diabetes, homocysteine, hypertension, fatty foods, and cigarette smoking. Blood tests that would be better indicators of potential cardiovascular problems would be homocysteine, triglycerides (fat in the blood), fibrinogen (blood clotting factor), fasting glucose and insulin levels and lipoprotein-a (a sticky fat substance in the blood stream, usually hereditary). To determine if there is already inflammation of the arterial walls, ask for a C-Reactive Protein test. Rather than taking drugs that may have harmful side-effects, consult a qualified nutritional therapist who will analyse your blood test results and advise on diet and lifestyle and formulate a personal “nutritional cocktail” to lower the offending factors.
So how does the Belgian doctor suggest one prevent cardiovascular disease without the use of drugs? For blood thinning, reducing inflammation in the arteries, lowering triglycerides and blood pressure, I was thrilled to learn that he strongly advocates omega-3 essential fatty acids extracted from fish (my favourite supplement!). He confirmed flax oil may have some health benefits but when it comes to heart health there is not one study that has shown that flax oil has any benefits. All studies showing omega-3 to be beneficial are those using omega-3 from fatty fish. Homocysteine levels are easily reduced using the correct combination of B vitamins and this would be why the pharmaceutical companies are not interested in homocysteine: vitamins cannot be patented so no big money can be made from them. He also recommends the use of garlic extracts to thin blood, decrease LDL cholesterol levels, inhibit oxidation and lower blood pressure. Finally high dose Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (must be buffered) is one of the best antioxidants within the fluid of the blood because it is water-soluble. It maintains the integrity of the thin lining of the artery, lowers lipoprotein-a and prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
It was very reassuring for me to listen to a medical doctor proposing that the huge hype around cholesterol needs to be quelled, so that more attention may be paid to the other more serious heart health indicators. Hopefully this will occur before too many more people die of heart attacks and strokes totally unrelated to their cholesterol levels.
***************************************** Well that's it for this month, however I look forward to hearing from readers with comments and questions and as always promise to reply in person. Till next month enjoy the wonderful season of Spring, with its new beginnings and promises of warm, balmy days ahead. I wish you good health always.