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Simple Remedies to Optimize Your Energy and Combat Fatigue

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • One of the most effective ways to optimize your energy and combat fatigue is to implement time-restricted eating (TRE), as it improves your mitochondrial health and metabolic flexibility
  • TRE is a form of intermittent fasting in which you restrict all of your food intakes to a certain number of consecutive hours each day. Keeping your eating to a window of six to eight hours a day is an achievable goal for most people
  • Your food intake, which impacts the circadian rhythm of your gut microbiome, and other circadian rhythms are intricately connected, and the more you can realign these circadian rhythms, the better your whole body will function, including your mitochondria
  • You also need to remove dietary and lifestyle factors that cause energy depletion in the first place. Electromagnetic field exposure is one environmental factor. Leaky gut, caused by lectins in your diet, is another factor that needs to be addressed
  • When food particles are able to cross your gut lining, they cause chronic inflammation that requires a lot of energy to combat, thus causing fatigue and general malaise

Dr. Steven Gundry, a cardiologist, heart surgeon, medical researcher, and author, is perhaps best known for his “Plant Paradox” book, which was a massive bestseller. He has now published another book called “The Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone.”

As the name implies, this book delves into the origins of fatigue and how to improve your energy at the molecular level. While he had not planned on writing a book about energy optimization, upward of 60% of his patients suffer from fatigue and a feeling of general malaise, so, clearly, this is something that affects an enormous number of people.

Time-Restricted Eating

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to improve your energy levels. One such strategy, which I embraced years ago, is time-restricted eating (TRE), a form of intermittent fasting in which you restrict all of your food intakes to a certain number of consecutive hours each day.

As an added boon, this strategy doesn’t cost you a penny. If anything, it’ll save you money. Gundry was ahead of the curve on this one, having written about TRE in his first book, “Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution,” published in 2006.

“I had an entire chapter in that book devoted to time-restricted eating, and my editor at Random House at the time, Heather Jackson, said, ‘This is so crazy that I’m not going to let you do this.’

She said this. True story. And I said, ‘Look, I’m telling you, I’ve been doing this now for four years and I’ve been using it on my patients and it’s not crazy. Here’s the research.’ And she said, ‘OK. I’m going to give you two pages to make your case. I’m throwing the rest of the chapter away.’

So, I got two pages. I saw her at the mindbodygreen symposium last summer, before the COVID-19 outbreak. She came up to me and said, ‘You were right. I apologize. You weren’t crazy, you weren’t nuts. Everybody now knows.’”

Indeed, in recent years, TRE has gained a lot of recognition as mounting evidence shows the simple act of restricting the number of hours during which you consume food during the day will improve your health in a variety of ways, primarily by improving your mitochondrial health and metabolic flexibility.

As noted by Gundry, keeping your eating to a window of six to eight hours a day is an achievable goal for most people. However, most need to gradually ease into it.

“Metabolic flexibility is probably the underlying problem in the vast majority of diseases that we see and I wrote the book to try and make it easy,” Gundry says. “What I see in my practice is that a lot of people go, ‘OK. I usually eat breakfast at 7 and starting tomorrow I’m going to start eating breakfast — break-fast — at noon.’ And they fall flat on their faces.

They get headaches, they get hungry, they don’t think right. They have no energy and they decide ‘This isn’t for me.’ That’s because they have a high insulin level, they’re insulin resistant and can’t use stored fat as an energy source …

So, in the book, what I do is, over a six-week period, I get them used to eating during a shorter and shorter time window. It’s very much like learning a new exercise program. I couldn’t run a marathon out the bat, but I can train and get there. So that’s what we do.”

Part of the process involves retraining your circadian rhythm. Your food intake, which impacts the circadian rhythm of your gut microbiome, and other circadian rhythms are intricately connected, and the more you can realign these circadian rhythms, the better your whole body will function, including your mitochondria.

Crucial Notes on Meal Timing

At the most extreme end of TRE is the one meal a day (OMAD) routine, which can work well if you’re young and healthy. However, once you get into middle age and older, I believe it can start to backfire. I’m also not convinced that it’s healthy to remain on an OMAD diet in perpetuity, for the simple reason that your body will typically work best when you challenge it now and then.

During winter months, about six months out of the year, Gundry promotes using a two-hour, or even as short as a single-hour eating window during weekdays, and then eating during a much longer window during weekends. He’s been doing this for the past 21 years.

For me, cycling — mixing longer and shorter fasting intervals — has been a key to long-term success, and taking the weekends off from this strict regimen may be part of why this strict regimen has worked so well for so long for Gundry.

“I think you’ve got to break it up. I don’t do it all year round, and I break it up on the weekends, and the reason I do that is so I won’t go mad,” Gundry says. Another important detail with regard to timing is to avoid eating at least three hours before bed. Even if you restrict your eating to six hours or less, if you eat too close to bedtime, you’re canceling out many of the benefits. As explained by Gundry:

“It’s really important to stop eating at least three hours before bedtime for a couple of really important reasons. No. 1, you’ve got to undergo mitochondrial repair during the night.

You have to undergo brain cleaning during the night from the glymphatic circulation. Digestion takes huge amounts of blood flow, and if you’re eating, all that blood flow is heading down to your gut when it should actually be going up to your brain.”

TRE Makes Most Diets Better

Gundry quotes data from Satchin Panda, which shows that rats raised on a standard American diet equivalent that also are put on a TRE regimen fare much better than those who are not on TRE. This despite the fact that they’re eating the same thing. The same has been shown to hold true in humans.

Remarkably, Panda has shown the average American eats for 16 hours a day. Essentially, they’re grazing all day long, stopping only while sleeping. About 90% eat for more than 12 hours.

Simply reducing your eating window to 12 hours would be an improvement. As noted by Gundry, “Big Food, Big Agriculture has convinced us that this is the proper way to eat.” In reality, the only thing these big businesses and their recommendations are good for is a disease.

The Case for EMF Avoidance

Gundry and I are also in agreement about the dangers of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). I’ve previously written about how magnesium can help mitigate some of the damaging effects from EMF, and Gundry has a patient who appears to have had success using this strategy. Melatonin, which is a very potent mitochondrial antioxidant, is another potential mitigator.

“Melatonin is a very interesting way of mitigating against the bad effects of EMF,” Gundry says. “Now, as I talk about in the book, I used to think that people who said that they were sensitive to these invisible rays [EMFs] were out on the lunatic fringe.

But the longer I’ve been doing this, I’ve had some fantastic experiences with very credible people, who when we mitigated EMF got well. One patient was profoundly affected by her husband’s AICD, a defibrillator, which was communicating his EKG with a satellite.

As soon as it went into him, she couldn’t sleep next to him. She had migraine headaches. We finally turned off the transmitter in his AICD, and just like that, all of [her symptoms] went away. So, these people are canaries in a coal mine and we have to believe it.”

Leaky Gut Underlies Most Chronic Disease

While antioxidants like melatonin can certainly help improve mitochondrial function, I think there are better ways than simply piling on antioxidants. You also need to remove dietary and lifestyle factors that cause energy depletion in the first place. EMF exposure is one environmental factor. Leaky gut, caused by lectins in your diet, is another factor that needs to be addressed.

According to Gundry, a leaky gut is an underlying condition of most chronic diseases, so, if you have a chronic ailment, chances are you have a leaky gut. Thanks to Dr. Alessio Fasano, who heads up the Celiac Research Center at Harvard, we now have sophisticated tests that can diagnose this problem.

Fasano discovered the mechanism by which lectins cause leaky gut, and gluten is a lectin. When these and other food particles are able to cross your gut lining, they cause chronic inflammation, which requires a lot of energy to combat. This is one reason for your fatigue and general malaise. Gundry explains:

“If your immune system is distracted down to your leaky gut, first of all, it’s not going to be available when [pathogens] come in through your nose or mouth. And secondly, your immune system is so hyperactivated that when it sees something that might not be all that important, it goes crazy and you get a cytokine storm. That, of course, is one of the major lethal consequences [of] the Western diet.”

Linoleic Acid Can Decimate Mitochondrial Health

Another dietary factor that decimates mitochondrial health, and thus energy production, is omega-6 linoleic acid (LA). “In the book, I talk about the Goldilocks effect,” Gundry says. However, LA is naturally found in virtually all foods, so it’s near-impossible to become deficient. The problem really is an excessive intake, which is near-universal in Western countries due to processed food.

The primary culprit here is industrial vegetable oils, which most people eat far too much of. If you’re eating a whole food diet, you’re more likely to have a healthy ratio of LA, but even then, it may be causing trouble if you’re eating too many LA-rich foods, such as conventional chicken, for example.

You can learn more about the mechanisms of action behind LA’s damage in “Why Chicken Is Killing You and Saturated Fat Is Your Friend” and “The Type of Fat You Eat Affects Your COVID Risk.” Olive oil is another food that is high in LA, but it also has other components that may modify some of the risks. Still, I choose to limit my olive oil intake. Overall, I try to keep my LA intake below 5 grams a day, regardless of the sources. Gundry has a more favorable view of olive oil, stating:

“If you limit your eating window, you actually stop that process from happening, which is really miraculous, No. 1. And No. 2, shameless plug for myself, with my Gundry MD high-polyphenol olive oil, you only need a tablespoon a day to get the equivalent polyphenols of a liter of olive oil a week.”

Surprising Benefits of Cheese

When it comes to fats, Gundry is a proponent of short and medium-chain fatty acids. “For multiple reasons, I’ve been extolling the virtues of MCT oil since the ‘Plant Paradox,’” he says, adding:

“I think the saturated fats have other benefits. In particular, the saturated fats in cheeses may be one of the unsung heroes in longevity that I think needs more attention … I take care of a huge number of people who carry the APOE4 mutation, which is the Alzheimer’s mutation. I noticed early on that cheese really elevated not only small dense LDLs, but also elevated for most of my patients’ oxidized LDL …

I don’t like the traditional cholesterol theory of heart disease. On the other hand, I think oxidized LDL has an interesting place. What’s interesting is that when I’ve separated my patients into having them eat sheep cheese and goat cheese, I found dramatically different results.

I initially attributed it to the fact that sheep and goat have casein A2 and not casein A1. And I think casein A1 is a pretty bad actor. So, I said, well, I’m going to start letting my APOE4 [patients] have sheep and goat cheese, but in moderation. When I did that, I didn’t see this oxidized LDL.”

One potential mechanism for this might be because casein is a protein that can cause autoimmune reactions and contribute to leaky gut, which in turn contributes to increased LDL oxidation.

While most of Gundry’s autoimmune disease patients respond extremely well to Gundry’s plant paradox program, about 10% still do not farewell. Food sensitivity analysis has revealed a large number of them are sensitive to both casein A1 and casein A2.

Once their leaky gut is repaired, however, which may take up to a year, their immune systems typically become tolerant to these things again. “So, I think you can retrain the immune system once you get a good microbiome and seal the leaky gut.”

What About Meat?

While some autoimmune patients have reversed their conditions using a carnivore diet, popularized by Dr. Paul Saladino, who is a leading authority on the science and application of the carnivore diet, Gundry recommends limiting meat because of its effects on your gut microbiome. Interestingly, Gundry will be interviewing Saladino very shortly and that interview will be on his site. It should be a fascinating discussion.

“I have nothing against the carnivore diet as an elimination diet,” he says. “In fact, when Saladino was first on my podcast, he credited me as being the father of the carnivore diet because all plants are evil. And I went, ‘Please don’t do that to me.’

I think one of the mistakes that people make in, particularly, a keto diet where they’ve eliminated fiber, you actually starve your gut microbiome from making butyrate. The other, I think worrisome, part about a carnivore diet is you tend to make more hydrogen sulfide. I’m a huge fan of hydrogen sulfide, the rotten egg smell … but again, we get the Goldilocks rule …

Some is really good for you, it’s really good for mitochondrial function, but a lot is really toxic. And there’s some evidence with carnivore diets that you produce too much hydrogen sulfide. Now, I also understand the argument that if we eat a lot of gristle and a lot of mucin, basically nose to tail, that you can make butyrate by fermenting protein-based animal ingredients. I think you can.

But if you look at all the super long-lived folks, one of the things they have is really great production of butyrate. Butyrate, that short chain fatty acid, does so much good for mitochondria, I can’t even begin to tell you. Well, I do in the book.”

I agree that a strict no-carb diet is a mistake. Healthy carbs — think plant foods rich in fiber — need to be cycled in, there’s no question. Not every day, but certainly once or twice a week, even when you’re on a ketogenic diet. I recommend restricting carbs to about 50 grams or so for most of the week and then increasing that to 100 or 150 grams once or twice a week once you’re metabolically flexible.

Protein, mTOR Activation, and Exercise

Meat, of course, is also a source of protein, and while too much protein can be harmful by activating mTOR (thereby contributing to cancer and other problems), too little can be an unmitigated disaster, as I found out.

For a time, I aggressively restricted protein in an effort to minimize mTOR and ended up developing sarcopenia (muscle loss). The lesson here is that you need protein, especially if you’re working out, and especially as you get older. With regard to mTOR activation, Gundry notes:

“The only way we can actually measure the effect of mTOR long term is insulin like growth factor IGF-1. I take care of a lot of super old people, 95 and above. I have a lot of 105-year-old patients that I study, and they all have very low insulin-like growth factors.

We’ve tried experiments with patients, really reducing their animal protein and replacing it with plant-based protein. I’m not taking protein away. Their insulin growth factors will drop 50 to 70 points in a matter of months, and I think that’s pretty interesting.

The other thing that’s interesting is that exercise will actually change your gut microbiome to eat branch chain amino acids before they get into you, and branch chain amino acids are one of the biggest stimulators of mTOR.

That’s why, if you’re building muscle and you’re a body builder, you gulp branch chain amino acids all the time. So, I think, probably Saladino — who exercises and also does TRE and has pretty good IGF-1s — can tolerate a very high animal protein diet.

The other thing that I’ve written about in all my books is that beef, lamb and pork have a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc, and fish and chicken have Neu5Ac. Many people make an autoantibody to Neu5Gc, so they attack their own blood vessels if exposed to beef, lamb and pork.”

Lastly, Gundry points out the importance of exercise. When you work your muscles, especially the big muscle groups, myokines are produced, which help grow new brain cells and aid your mitochondria. However, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to exercise continuously for 30 to 60 minutes each day, Gundry says. It’s OK to break it into smaller segments.

“Even walking up and down stairs for a minute may be as effective as walking 10 minutes on a level surface,” he says. “Doing a plank while you’re watching TV for a minute is a phenomenal exercise. My favorite is when you’re brushing your teeth, do deep knee bends, do squats.”

More Information

This interview coincides with the release of “The Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone,” so to learn more, be sure to pick up a copy. You can also learn more about Gundry by perusing his websites, GundryMD.com and DrGundry.com.

He has a weekly podcast that you can tune into as well for a wide range of health information from Gundry and his guests. You can also find him on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.




What is Nitric Oxide Used For?

Image Source: Pexels

Nitric oxide is found in almost every cell in the human body and is an essential molecule for regulating blood vessel health. As a vasodilator, nitric oxide relaxes the inner muscles in blood vessels, so they widen. Supplements that increase nitric oxide are a popular choice today for their multiple benefits, including boosted exercise performance and lowered blood pressure.

Improves Exercise Performance

Nitric oxide works tirelessly to support the growth of our cells, including widening blood vessels through vasodilation. When a blood vessel widens, it is easier for them to travel throughout the body to your brain, organs, and muscles. Oxygen can also travel through these tubes and into the muscles during exercise to improve performance during a workout.

The supplements often contain amino acids like L-citrulline and L-arginine, which improve the use of Nitric oxide (read more here). Nitric oxide is proven to improve endurance in cardio exercises like swimming, biking, and running. L-citrulline is more effective than L-arginine at this task because L-arginine is mostly metabolized before reaching the bloodstream.

Lowers Blood Pressure

It’s possible that people with high blood pressure could have fewer nitric oxide molecules in their bodies. There are multiple reasons why someone could have high blood pressure, but a nitric oxide supplement can help individuals who don’t suffer from heart-related complications. Researchers have found that nitric oxide found in any state can improve our overall health.

For example, nitrate, a compound found in leafy greens and beetroots, can convert into your body and form nitric oxide. Flavonoids, another component found in leafy greens and fruits, also increase nitric oxide production and lower blood pressure. Finding a supplement that has both nitrate and flavonoids can maximize the blood-pressure-lowering effects found in nitric oxide.

Decrease Muscle Pain

The L-citrulline found in many nitric oxide supplements can decrease muscle soreness or pain that’s associated with muscle stress from a workout. While it can’t reduce pain in patients with chronic pain, it can delay-onset muscle soreness that usually occurs 24-72 hours after a workout. You can receive 40% less soreness after 24 hours if you take nitric oxide.

Citrulline increases nitric oxide production and helps open blood vessels to let more oxygen through, therefore reaching sore muscles at a faster rate. However, the effectiveness of citrulline is determined by the dose of the supplement and not by the molecule in general. You may have to take an extra supplement if you’re not noticing relief in 48 hours.

Could Treat Erectile Dysfunction

As mentioned, nitric oxide can open up blood vessels so oxygen and blood can travel faster through the body. Since nitric oxide is capable of administering blood to different parts of the body quicker, it can treat erectile dysfunction in mild cases. As another positive, nitric oxide is required to relax the muscles in the penis, so it fills with blood and makes it erect.

It’s possible that L-citrulline can improve erection hardness, but nitric oxide isn’t as effective as sildenafil, a stimulant found in Viagra. Still, L-citrulline is a safe way to experiment with drugs that treat erectile dysfunction because there are minimal side effects associated with this supplement. If erectile dysfunction persists, make an appointment with your doctor.

Possibly Help With Type 2 Diabetes

Blood sugar control is a significant problem with people who have type 2 diabetes and is often treated through lowering insulin with medication and proper diet. However, there is a substantial link between nitric oxide and type 2 diabetes because the disease impairs this molecule’s production. This could result in kidney disease and high blood pressure if not resolved.

Taking a nitric oxide supplement can increase this molecule’s production and help prevent diseases related to poor blood vessel health. L-arginine can actually delay the progression of type 2 diabetes because it increases insulin sensitivity. There isn’t enough evidence to conclude nitric oxide’s helpfulness, but taking a supplement couldn’t hurt.




5 Common Hydration Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Image source: Pixabay

When we think of health and wellness, the most common advice we receive would be to hydrate. However, not all are well-versed in proper hydration techniques. Some even think that drinking water should be enough to keep our bodies at their optimal level, which is why many people still make hydration mistakes that can only do more harm than good. Read on to learn about the common hydration mistakes and find out how you can best avoid them.

Hydration Mistakes You May Be Making

1. Removing Sodium From Your Diet

Many have the notion that sodium is bad for the body, and it’s fairly common to hear people advising against eating salty foods. However, the idea is to cut down on salt and not to avoid it entirely. In case you are unaware, sodium is an important electrolyte that helps your cells to absorb water, and having a low-sodium diet can make you prone to dehydration.

Consult your doctor to see if you should reduce your salt intake. If not, then you should actually be having your daily dose of sodium, mainly when you are working out, as this means that sodium leaves your body as you sweat.

2. Drinking Eight Glasses of Water

It can be a mistake to confine yourself to drinking only eight glasses of water each day. While it is good to have this much water intake, in most cases, this may not be enough. Sometimes, it may even be too much. Each person’s fluid requirements depend on various factors, such as age, weather, activity levels, and even underlying conditions. For a better measure of hydration, urine color may be the best measure. The goal is to have pale yellow urine to indicate proper hydration.

3. Using the Wrong Water Filter

A water filter is critical in ensuring that your water is devoid of any impurities. If you are using the wrong water filter, it means that you are willingly allowing harmful microorganisms to enter your body. Water impurities, such as can have long standing effects on the body. Before buying filters, check out water filter reviews to see if they effectively remove microorganisms and are appropriate for your home water filtration system.

4. Drinking When Thirsty

Thirst is a bodily response, signalling that our body is already severely dehydrated. It is not the first sign, in fact. When you are thirsty, it means that your body is already undergoing physiological changes to compensate for the low levels of fluid in your system. This can be particularly critical for children since they don’t have the proper information about hydration and older adults as they have a weakened thirst sensation.

It is important to hydrate throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Another trick is to weigh yourself before and after a workout to know how much water you should consume to replenish your body. Some experts believe that drinking before the workout and taking sips during the course of the exercise help prevent hydration issues.

5. Relying On Sports Drinks for Hydration

Due to the popularity of sports drinks, many believe that they are the best ways to hydrate, particularly after a gruelling game or workout. However, these drinks do not contain enough electrolytes to help your body recover. Another mistake that people commonly make is consuming these sports drinks during diarrheic episodes, as they think that the drink’s electrolytes can help. However, it can only worsen dehydration since they contain tons of sugar.

Hydration can be a lot more straightforward than you would believe. By simply following these tips, you can be assured that your body will benefit from hydration.




Regenerative Food and Farming: The Road Forward

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Regenerative agriculture and animal husbandries are the next and higher stage of organic food and farming
  • Regeneration is now the hottest topic in the natural and organic food and farming sector, while climate activists regularly talk about the role of organic and regenerative practices in reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions
  • Inside Regeneration International, which now includes 400 affiliates in more than 60 countries, our conversation has shifted to identifying regenerative and organic “best practices” around the globe
  • Our goal is to strategize how we can help qualitatively expand and scale-up regenerative best practices so that organic and regenerative becomes the norm, rather than just the alternative, for the planet’s now degenerative multitrillion-dollar food, farming, and land use system
  • Either we move beyond merely treating the symptoms of our planetary degeneration and build instead a new system based upon regenerative food, farming, and land use, coupled with renewable energy practices and global cooperation instead of belligerence, or we will soon (likely within 25 years) pass the point of no return

My usual response to the question “What is Regenerative Food and Farming?” goes something like this: Regenerative agriculture and animal husbandry are the next and higher stage of organic food and farming, not only free from toxic pesticides, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and factory farm production, and therefore good for human health, but also regenerative in terms of the health of the soil, the environment, the animals, the climate and rural livelihoods as well.

Or, as my fellow steering committee member for Regeneration International, Vandana Shiva, puts it: “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of democracy.”1

In 2010 Olaf Christen stated, “Regenerative agriculture is an approach in agriculture that rejects pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and is intended to improve the regeneration of the topsoil, biodiversity, and the water cycle.”2,3 This corresponds almost exactly with the stated principles of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) or Organics International.

Since 2014, the Rodale Institute, IFOAM, Dr. Bronner’s, Dr. Mercola, Patagonia, the Real Organic Project, the Biodynamic Movement, the Organic Consumers Association, Regeneration International, Navdanya, and others have also been discussing and implementing organic standards, practices, and certification, which incorporate regenerative principles. According to Australian regenerative pioneer Christine Jones:

“Agriculture is regenerative if soils, water cycles, vegetation and productivity continuously improve instead of just maintaining the status [quo]. The diversity, quality, vitality and health of the soil, plants, animals and people also improve together.”4

Changing the Conversation: Regenerative Food and Farming

In September 2014 when a group of us, including Vandana Shiva, Andre Leu, Will Allen, Steve Rye, Alexis Baden-Meyer, and staff from Dr. Bronner’s, Dr. Mercola, Organic Consumers Association, and the Rodale Institute, organized a press conference at the massive climate march in New York City to announce the formation of Regeneration International, we set for ourselves a simple, but what seemed like then ambitious, goal.

We all agreed we needed to fundamentally change the conversation on the climate crisis in the U.S. and around the world — then narrowly focused on renewable energy and energy conservation — so as to incorporate regenerative and organic food, farming, and land use as a major solution to global warming, given its proven ability to drawdown and sequester massive amounts of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil, forests, and plants.

Now, less than a decade later, I believe our growing Regeneration Movement has achieved this goal. Regeneration is now the hottest topic in the natural and organic food and farming sector, while climate activists including the Sunrise Movement and 350.org in the U.S. regularly talk about the role of organic and regenerative practices in reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

More and more people now understand that we can achieve, through enhanced photosynthesis and drawdown, the “Net Zero” emissions goal in 2030 to 2050 that nearly everyone now agrees will be necessary if we are to avoid runaway global warming and climate catastrophe.

Identifying Regenerative and Organic ‘Best Practices’

Inside Regeneration International, which now includes 400 affiliates in more than 60 countries,5 our conversation has shifted to identifying regenerative and organic “best practices” around the globe.

Our goal is to strategize how we can help qualitatively expand and scale up regenerative best practices so that organic and regenerative becomes the norm, rather than just the alternative, for the planet’s now degenerative multitrillion-dollar food, farming, and land-use system.

Our discussions and strategizing are not just academic exercises. As most of us now realize, our very survival as a civilization and a species is threatened by a systemic crisis that has degraded climate stability, our food, and our environment, along with every major aspect of modern life.

This mega-crisis cannot be resolved by piecemeal reforms or minor adjustments such as slightly cutting our current levels of fossil fuel use, reducing global deforestation, soil degradation, and military spending.

Either we move beyond merely treating the symptoms of our planetary degeneration and build instead a new system based upon regenerative food, farming, and land use, coupled with renewable energy practices and global cooperation instead of belligerence, or we will soon (likely within 25 years) pass the point of no return.

A big challenge is how do we describe the crisis of global warming and severe climate change in such a way that everyday people understand the problem and grasp the solution that we’re proposing, i.e., renewable energy and regenerative food, farming, and land use?

Enhanced Photosynthesis Is All-Important

The bottom line is that humans have put too much CO2 and other greenhouse gases (especially methane and nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere (from burning fossil fuels and destructive land use), trapping the sun’s heat from radiating back into space and heating up the planet.

And, unfortunately, because of the destructive food, farming, and forestry practices that have degraded a major portion of the Earth’s landscape, we’re not drawing down enough of these CO2 emissions through plant photosynthesis to cool things off.

In a word, there’s too much CO2 and greenhouse gas pollution blanketing the sky (and saturating the oceans) and not enough life-giving carbon in the ground and in our living plants, trees, pastures, and rangelands.

Increasing plant and forest photosynthesis (accomplished via enhanced soil fertility and biological life, as well as an adequate amount of water and minerals) is the only practical way that we can draw down a significant amount of the excess CO2 and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere that is heating up the Earth and disrupting our climate.

Through photosynthesis, plants and trees utilize solar energy to break down CO2 from the atmosphere, release oxygen and transform the remaining carbon into plant biomass and liquid carbon.

Photosynthesis basically enables plants to grow above ground and produce biomass, but also stimulates growth below ground as plants transfer a portion of the liquid carbon they produce through photosynthesis into their root systems to feed the soil microorganisms that in turn feed the plant.

From the standpoint of drawing down enough CO2 and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and sequestering them in our soils and biota to reverse global warming, qualitatively enhanced photosynthesis is all-important.

Agave Power: Greening the Desert

As my contribution to the global expansion of regenerative and organic food and farming practices, I have spent the last several years working with Mexican farmers and ranchers, consumer organizations, elected political officials (mainly at the local and state level), and socially and environmentally-concerned “impact investors.”

Our goal is to develop and qualitatively expand what we believe is a game-changer for much of the 40% of the world’s pasturelands and rangelands that are arid and semi-arid, areas where it is now nearly impossible to grow food crops, and where it is too overgrazed and degraded for proper livestock grazing.

We call this Mexico-based agave and agroforestry/livestock management system Agave Power: Greening the Desert and are happy to report that its ideas and practices are now starting to spread from the high desert plateau of Guanajuato across much of arid and semi-arid Mexico.

We now are receiving inquiries and requests for information about this agave-based, polyculture/perennial system from desert and semi-desert areas all over the world, including Central America, the Southwestern U.S., Argentina, Chile, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Myanmar, and Oman.

You can learn more about this Agave Power system on the websites of Regeneration International6 and the Organic Consumers Association.7

Primary Drivers of Regeneration and Degeneration

What I and others have learned “on the ground” trying to expand and scale-up regenerative and organic best practices is that there are four basic drivers of regenerative (or conversely degenerative) food, farming, and land use.

The first is consumer awareness and market demand. Without an army of conscious consumers and widespread market demand, regenerative practices are unlikely to reach critical mass. Second is farmer, rancher, and land stewardship innovation, including the development of value-added products and ecosystem restoration services.

The third driver is a policy change and public funding, starting at the local and regional levels. And last but not least is regenerative finance — large-scale investing on the part of the private sector, what is now commonly known as “impact investing.”

In order to qualitatively expand organic and regenerative best practices and achieve critical mass sufficient to transform our currently degenerative systems, we need all four of these drivers to be activated and working in synergy.

Let’s look now at four contemporary drivers of degeneration, degenerative food, farming, and land use, in order to understand what the forces or drivers are that are holding us back from moving forward to regeneration.

1. Degenerated grassroots consciousness and morale — When literally billions of people, a critical mass of the 99%, are hungry, malnourished, scared, and divided, struggling to survive with justice and dignity; when the majority of the global body politic are threatened and assaulted by a toxic environment and food system; when hundreds of millions are overwhelmed by economic stress due to low wages and the high cost of living; when hundreds of millions are weakened by chronic health problems, or battered by floods, droughts and weather extremes, regenerative change — Big Change — will not come easily.

Neither will it happen when seemingly endless wars and land grabs for water, land, and strategic resources spiral out of control, or when indentured politicians, corporations, Big Tech, and the mass media manipulate crises such as COVID-19 to stamp out freedom of expression and participatory democracy in order to force a “Business-as-Usual” or “Great Reset” paradigm down our throats.

Disempowered, exploited people, overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday survival, usually don’t have the luxury of connecting the dots between the issues that are pressing down on them and focusing on the Big Picture.

It’s the job of regenerators to connect the dots between the climate crisis and people’s everyday concerns such as food, health, jobs, and economic justice, to globalize awareness, political mobilization, and, most of all, to globalize hope.

It’s the job of regenerators to make the connections between personal and public health and planetary health, to expose the truth about the origins, nature, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19 and chronic disease, and to mobilize the public to reject a so-called Great Reset disguised as fundamental reform, but actually a Trojan Horse for a 21st Century Technocracy that is profoundly anti-democratic and authoritarian.

Regenerators have to be able to make the connections between different issues and concerns, identify and support best practitioners and policies and build synergy between social forces, effectively lobby governments (starting at the local level), businesses, and investors for change, all the while educating and organizing grassroots alliances and campaigns across communities, constituencies, and even national borders.

But this of course will not be easy, nor will it take place overnight. Our profoundly destructive, degenerative, climate-destabilizing food and farming system, primarily based upon industrial agriculture inputs and practices, are held together by a multibillion-dollar system of marketing and advertising that has misled or literally brainwashed a global army of consumers into believing that cheap, artificially flavored, “fast food” is not only acceptable but “normal” and “natural.”

After decades of consuming sugar, salt, carbohydrate-rich, and “bad fat”-laden foods from industrial farms, animal factories, and chemical manufacturing plants, many consumers have literally become addicted to the artificial flavors and aromas that make super-processed foods and “food-like substances” so popular.

2. Degenerate “conventional” farms, farming, and livestock management — Compounding the lack of nutritional education, choice, poverty, inertia, and apathy of a large segment of consumers, other major factors driving our degenerative food and farming system include the routine and deeply institutionalized practices of industrial and chemical-intensive farming and land use (monocropping, heavy plowing, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, GMOs, factory farms, deforestation, wetlands destruction) today.

These soil-, climate-, health- and environmentally-destructive practices are especially prevalent on the world’s 50 million large farms, which, in part, are kept in place by global government subsidies totaling $500 billion a year.

Meanwhile, there are few or no subsidies for organic or regenerative farmers, especially small farmers (80% of the world’s farmers are small farmers), nor for farmers and ranchers who seek to make this transition.

Reinforcing these multibillion-dollar subsidies for bad farming practices is a global network of chemical- and agribusiness-controlled agricultural research and teaching institutions focused on producing cheap food and fiber (no matter what the cost to the environment, climate, and public health) and agro-export agricultural commodities (often pesticide-intensive GMO grains).

What we need instead are subsidies, research, and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to produce healthy, organic, and regenerative food for local, regional and domestic markets, rewarding farmers with a fair price for producing healthy food and being a steward, rather than a destroyer, of the environment.

Monopoly Control — Another driver of degeneration, holding back farmer adoption of regenerative practices and determining the type of food and crops that are produced, is the monopoly or near-monopoly control by giant agribusiness corporations over much of the food system, especially in industrialized countries, as well as the monopoly or near-monopoly control by giant retail chains such as Walmart and internet giants like Amazon.

The out-of-control “Foodopoly” that dominates our food system is designed to maximize short-term profits and exports for the large transnational corporations, preserve patents and monopoly control over seeds, and uphold international trade agreements (NAFTA, WTO) that favor corporate agribusiness and large farms over small farms; factory farms over traditional grazing and animal husbandry; and agro-exports instead of production for local and regional markets.

Food and farming is the largest industry in the world with consumers spending an estimated $7.5 trillion a year on food. In addition, the largely unacknowledged social, environmental and health costs (i.e., collateral damage) of the industrial food chain amounts to an additional $4.8 trillion a year.8

3. and 4. Degenerate public policy and public and private investments — Agriculture is the largest employer in the world with 570 million farmers and farm laborers supporting 3.5 billion people in rural households and communities.9 In addition to workers on the farm, food chain workers in processing, distribution and retail make up hundreds of millions of other jobs in the world, with over 20 million food chain workers in the U.S. alone (17.5% of the total workforce).

This makes public policy relating to food, farming, and land use very important. Unfortunately, thousands of laws and regulations are passed every year, in every country and locality, that basically prop up conventional (i.e., industrial, factory farm, export-oriented, GMO) food and farming, while there is very little legislation passed or resources geared toward promoting organic and regenerative food and farming.

Trillions of dollars have been, and continue to be, invested in the so-called “conventional” food and farming sector, including trillions from the savings and pension funds of many conscious consumers, who would no doubt prefer their savings to be invested in a different manner, if they knew how to do this.

Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of public or private investment is currently going toward organic, grass-fed, free-range, and other healthy foods produced by small and medium-sized farms and ranches for local and regional consumption.

Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy climate, healthy societies — our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, are directly connected to the soil, biodiversity, and the health and fertility of our food and farming systems. Regenerative organic farming and land use can move us back into balance, back to a stable climate and a life-supporting environment.

It’s time to move beyond degenerate ethics, farming, land use, energy policies, politics, and economics. It’s time to move beyond “too little, too late” mitigation and sustainability strategies. It’s time to inspire and mobilize a mighty global army of Regenerators before it’s too late.

One of the primary arguments for genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods was that it was going to solve world hunger. The reality, however, has demonstrated the massive flaws in this argument.

GE agriculture actually does the complete opposite by destroying our soils and making food more toxic and less nutritious. Regenerative farming, on the other hand, has demonstrated its superiority with regard to yield and nutrition, all without the use of toxic chemicals.

Ronnie Cummins from the Organic Consumers Association is calling for a transition toward regenerative organic farming, which has the ability to solve many of our most pressing problems simultaneously.

He believes that there are four major drivers of change to create the regenerative system we would like to have:

  1. Education and awareness-raising
    1. This also includes putting the information into practice, meaning, every time you pull out your wallet, you’re considering whether your money is going to support a degenerative or regenerative system. True change comes when people act out their beliefs in the marketplace
  2. Innovation
    1. This includes the innovation of farmers, ranchers, people who take care of our forests and wetlands, and people who are innovative in terms of educating the public
  3. Policy changes
    1. Local school boards
    2. Park districts
    3. White House
  4. Funding and investment — This includes both private investors and public monies

Farms such as the Via Organica farm in Mexico are promoting a novel way to produce inexpensive, yet highly nutritious, animal feed made from native agave plants driving this change of paradigm. But there is much more that needs to be done.

This week from March 7 through March 13 Mercola.com highlights Regenerative Food & Farming Awareness Week by raising public awareness among people who are unaware of the dangers of genetically modified organisms in their food. During this week, you will learn more about the dangers of GMOs and instructions on how to eat healthier and purer food.

To contribute to a GMO-free future, we’ll use a portion of sales to donate $3 for every $1 donated to OCA for the entire week up to $250,000. Be a part of the change toward a regenerative system.




Do This Instead and Stop Brewing Your Coffee in Ways that Harm You | Thomas DeLauer

Video Source: Thomas DeLauer

Thomas DeLauer explains the healthiest ways to brew coffee and ways that can actually harm you.

Questions that will be answered within this video:

– How does coffee consumption affect our health?

– What are the different ways to brew coffee?

– Which forms of coffee brewing are the healthiest?




Russell Brand: Is Bill Gates Too Powerful?

By Children’s Health Defense Team | The Defender

Now that Bill Gates is the top private owner of U.S. farmland, with 242 thousand acres across 18 states, Russell Brand wants to know: Why has Bill Gates become a “Tech Old MacDonald?” Is he simply trying to help people? Or could there be another explanation?

Even more to the point, Brand asks: Should we be worried?

Possibly — given that the amount of farmland in the U.S. is shrinking at the rate of three acres per minute while the U.S. population and demand for food are growing.

Brand cites Henry Kissinger’s frequently quoted statement: “Control oil and you control nations; control food, and you control the people.” Could Gates be out to “control the people” — by controlling the world’s food supply?

Brand reminds viewers that Gates once “famously announced” he planned to give away his fortune, and spend time helping the world’s poor.

But today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is worth $50 billion, prompting Brand to ask: “Has the Gates Foundation become too powerful?”

Citing an article in The Defender by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman of Children’s Health Defense, Brand points out that in addition to his vast landholdings, Gates has investments in GMO crops, seed patents, synthetic foods, and artificial intelligence, including robotic farmworkers.

Gates also holds commanding positions in food giants such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Philip Morris, Kraft, General Foods, Kellogg’s, Procter & Gamble, and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods), in addition to multinationals like Monsanto and Bayer that control the world’s chemical pesticide and petrochemical fertilizer markets.

In this video exposé of one of the most powerful men in the world, Brand says he’s not here to judge Gates as a human being — but it does seem like an awful lot of power for one individual to wield.

“It also concerns me that anyone can bias the direction of the fate of a planet so strongly,” Brand says.




Small Things We Can Do To Improve Our Wellbeing

Wellbeing has been a big talking point of 2020/2021.  The pandemic has forced us all to take a look at ourselves under the magnifying glass and improve our lives and learn to make the most of things.  Here we have listed some small things you can do to improve your overall wellbeing.

Take More Exercise

Exercise is good for us in many ways.  Of course, it has the physical benefits of helping us to maintain a healthy weight and build up fitness.  However, it also has a positive affect when it comes to our mental wellbeing too.  You don’t need to overexert yourself.  Even short 10-minute bursts of walking round the block can leave you more alert and improve your mood.  Make sure you fit time into your schedule. Yoga is a great one for this too, you can actually finish a yoga session feeling more relaxed.

Be Careful what We put in our Bodies

We all can be accused of over-indulging in food and alcohol – but we should always be careful about what we put in our bodies.  Of course, there is the obvious – such as eating fruit, and vegetables and avoiding processed foods – but we also should take responsibility for educating ourselves about the ingredients in the products we consume. A perfect example is 3 in 4 people are unaware there is plastic in chewing gum, and chew on it regularly.  Make sure you understand what you are eating and drinking.

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a good way to improve your mental wellbeing.  You should try to practice gratitude every day.   There are lots of ways you can do this.  You can start off each day thinking of something you are grateful for.  It could be people you are close to, it could be your home, it could even be a favourite possession.  You can create a journal where you write things down each day that you are thankful for.  By doing this, you will notice the good things in your life as they happen.

Take Time to Do Things You Love

There’s something we all have lots of at the moment: time.  That gives you the opportunity to take extra time to do things you love.  Although there are certain restrictions – that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can’t enjoy.  It could be something as simple as reading a book or taking a bath.  Whatever it is, make sure you put specific time aside.  It could also be a chance for you to learn a new skill or hobby.  Many people have been learning new languages, taking up photography, or even sewing.

If you want to try a hobby that will exercise your logical thinking skills, such as lock picking, you need to have a quality lock pick set. For beginners, it’s not going to be as easy as you think, but it’s going to be fulfilling once you’ve sorted out your first lock. Acquiring such a useful skill may also be very useful in the future.

It could be that you are a little overwhelmed and anxious as there are still so many restrictions on our lives – or it could be that you have just understood how important it is to take care of yourself.  Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to improved wellbeing.




Cheese Is One of the Most Neuroprotective Foods

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Out of 49 whole foods, cheese was “by far” the most protective food when it comes to avoiding age-related cognitive problems
  • Those who ate cheese daily had better fluid intelligence scores over time; red wine and lamb consumption also had a favorable effect
  • The researchers concluded that modifying your daily meal plans may minimize cognitive decline while adding cheese, red wine, and weekly lamb may improve long-term cognitive function
  • When you eat natural cheese, you get valuable fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that protect your brain and overall health; raw grass-fed cheese is best in terms of nutritional punch

What you eat has a powerful effect on brain health and can even influence your cognitive function long-term. In particular, a study of 1,787 adults revealed that out of 49 whole foods, cheese was “by far” the most protective food when it comes to avoiding age-related cognitive problems.1

Cheese has been unfairly vilified due to its saturated fat content, when in reality it’s a wholesome food that provides key nutrients many people are lacking, including healthy fats and vitamins. As the featured study shows, eating cheese daily may be a simple way to keep your brain sharp, even into your later years.

Eat Cheese Daily to Protect Your Brain

Researchers from Iowa State University measured what’s known as fluid intelligence (FI) among the study participants, who ranged in age from 46 to 77 when the study was completed. Fluid intelligence is the ability to “think on the fly” or solve problems without any prior knowledge of the problem at hand.

Research suggests that a greater decline in fluid intelligence as you age is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,2 but dietary changes may influence fluid intelligence.

The study evaluated the self-reported intake of 49 foods, including fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, bread, coffee, and wine, and compared it to fluid intelligence trajectories among the participants, some of whom had a family history of Alzheimer’s disease while some did not.

Those who ate cheese daily had better fluid intelligence scores over time, while red wine consumption also had a favorable effect. Consuming lamb weekly also led to improved FI outcomes.3 Study author Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, said in a news release:4

“I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down.

While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

The researchers concluded that modifying your daily meal plans may minimize cognitive decline while adding cheese, red wine, and weekly lamb may improve long-term cognitive function.5 Study author Brandon Klinedinst, a neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at Iowa State, further highlighted the power of diet on your long-term brain health:6

“Depending on the genetic factors you carry, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimers, while other seem to be at greater risk. That said, I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether.

Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat. Knowing what that entails contributes to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and putting this disease in a reverse trajectory.”

Cheese Is a Brain Food

Cheese isn’t widely known as a “brain food” — but it should be. For instance, consuming mold-fermented cheese, like Camembert, for three months had beneficial effects on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in older women with mild cognitive decline.7

BDNF is highly involved in the growth and survival of nerve cells specifically,8 and low levels of BDNF have been connected to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,9,10 as well as other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and schizophrenia.11

Bioactive peptides produced by milk fermentation during the cheese-making process may also have antioxidant properties that play a role in enhancing cognitive ability.12

Intake of camembert cheese has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in an animal study, and it’s thought that novel lactopeptides in fermented dairy products may improve memory function and cognitive decline.13 When researchers screened peptides generated from whey proteins during cheese manufacturing, Trp-Tyr (WY)-containing peptides were found to improve memory function in mice.14

They worked by inhibiting monoamine oxidase-B activity (MAO-B) — MAO-B has been suggested as a biomarker of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative disorders15 — thereby helping to prevent age-related cognitive decline.16 A host of other studies also hint at the brain-protective potential of cheese, including:

  • Consuming cheese or other dairy products once a week was associated with higher cognitive function than not consuming it17
  • Over 17 years of follow-up, greater milk, and dairy intake reduced the risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, in the Japanese population18
  • Among men, a high intake of dairy products was significantly associated with better short-term memory19

Why Cheese Is Good for You

Cheese contains nutrients that are beneficial for your whole body, including the powerful nutritional triad of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2, which together channel calcium into your bones and teeth while keeping it out of your arteries.

Aside from natto, cheese is the food with the highest menaquinone, or vitamin K2, concentrations, but levels vary depending on the type of cheese. Dutch hard cheeses such as gouda and edam have relatively high concentrations, as do French cheeses such as Munster cheese.20

In addition to bone health, vitamin K2’s role in heart health is well-noted. In fact, in one study, those who had the highest amount of vitamin K2 were 52% less likely to experience severe calcification in their arteries and 57% less likely to die from heart disease over a seven- to 10-year period.21

When you eat cheese, you also get high-quality protein and amino acids, omega-3 fats, and vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, B2 (riboflavin), and B12.22 You’ll also get beneficial CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a powerful cancer-fighter, particularly when you eat grass-fed cheese.

Cheese Wards Off Chronic Disease

The nutrients in cheese add up to whole-body effects that may help prevent chronic disease even outside of your brain. In a study published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, for instance, researchers noted that participants who ate at least two servings of dairy products each day had a lower risk of high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.23 In addition, they were at lower risk for metabolic syndrome.

“Emerging evidence suggests that dairy foods, particularly whole fat dairy and fermented dairy (e.g., cheese or yogurt), may influence diverse pathways and have favorable metabolic effects,” the researchers explained.24 This is another way cheese may be neuroprotective, as conditions like diabetes take a toll on your brain health. Diabetes even ages your brain about five years faster than normal.25

An inverse relationship has also been found between the daily amount of fermented dairy consumed and the development of heart disease. For instance, those who had the highest intake of fermented dairy products had a 27% lower risk of heart disease in one study.26

Greater cheese consumption, in particular, is also linked with a lower risk of heart disease.27 Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers noted that dairy products shouldn’t be vilified due to their fat content but, rather, “The whole food matrix should be considered,” and:28

“Based on experimental and prospective studies to date, it seems plausible that manufacturing processes, such as fermentation, could influence how different dairy products affect the development of CVD [cardiovascular disease].

Fermentation process includes adding live bacteria to dairy foods, which can act as probiotics and result in multiple cardiometabolic benefits. Some of these bacteria, used for example in cheese making, form vitamin K2, which has been associated with lower risk of CHD [coronary heart disease].”

The Type of Cheese Matters

All cheese is not created equal, particularly if it’s highly processed. Processed cheese or “cheese food” is not a portion of healthy food and should be avoided, while natural cheese is a whole food — a simple fermented dairy product made with nothing more than a few basic ingredients — milk, starter culture, salt, and an enzyme called rennet.

You can tell a natural cheese by its label, which will state the name of the cheese variety, such as “cheddar cheese,” “blue cheese,” or “brie.” Real cheese requires refrigeration. Taking it up a notch is grass-fed cheese, which is made from the milk of grass-fed cows. There are a number of reasons to seek out grass-fed dairy products as much as possible.

For foodies, the seasonal variations in flavor are a huge draw. For the health-conscious, milk from cows raised primarily on pasture has been shown to be higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene, and the healthy fats omega-3 and CLA.29

On an environmental level, grass-fed dairy also has a considerably reduced footprint compared to the way most dairy is produced on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). You may find grass-fed dairy farmers who have not yet gone through (or who cannot afford to go through) the USDA’s organic certification process. In that case, speak to the farmer directly to find out about how the animals are raised.

You can also look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, much-needed grass-fed standards, and certification for American-grown grass-fed meat and dairy.30 Raw grass-fed cheese is also highly recommended and because raw cheese is not pasteurized, natural enzymes in the milk are preserved, increasing its nutritional punch.

Overall, grass-fed cheese is a portion of healthy whole food to include in your diet, one that offers protection for your brain and your health as a whole. It’s not, however, the only food that’s beneficial for your brain. If you’re looking for more tips on what to eat to protect your cognitive function, focus on avoiding processed fast foods and eating plenty of brain-boosting foods, like small cold-water fish, cruciferous veggies, leafy greens and pastured, organic eggs, instead.




Corporate Concentration in the US Food System Makes Food More Expensive and Less Accessible For Many Americans

Agribusiness executives and government policymakers often praise the U.S. food system for producing abundant and affordable food. In fact, however, food costs are rising, and shoppers in many parts of the U.S. have limited access to fresh, healthy products.

This isn’t just an academic argument. Even before the current pandemic, millions of people in the U.S. went hungry. In 2019 the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that over 35 million people were “food insecure,” meaning they did not have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Now food banks are struggling to feed people who have lost jobs and income thanks to COVID-19.

As rural sociologists, we study changes in food systems and sustainability. We’ve closely followed corporate consolidation of food production, processing, and distribution in the U.S. over the past 40 years. In our view, this process is making food less available or affordable for many Americans.

Fewer, larger companies

Consolidation has placed key decisions about our nation’s food system in the hands of a few large companies, giving them outsized influence to lobby policymakers, direct food and industry research, and influence media coverage. These corporations also have enormous power to make decisions about what food is produced how, where and by whom, and who gets to eat it. We’ve tracked this trend across the globe.

It began in the 1980s with mergers and acquisitions that left a few large firms dominating nearly every step of the food chain. Among the largest are retailer Walmart, food processor Nestlé and seed/chemical firm Bayer.

 Between 1996 and 2013 Monsanto acquired more than 70 seed companies, before the firm was itself acquired by competing seed/chemical firm Bayer in 2018.

Between 1996 and 2013 Monsanto acquired more than 70 seed companies before the firm was itself acquired by competing seed/chemical firm Bayer in 2018.

Some corporate leaders have abused their power – for example, by allying with their few competitors to fix prices. In 2020 Christopher Lischewski, the former president and CEO of Bumblebee Foods, was convicted of conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined US$100,000.

In the same year, chicken processor Pilgrim’s Pride pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges and was fined $110.5 million. Meatpacking company JBS settled a $24.5 million pork price-fixing lawsuit, and farmers won a class action settlement against peanut-shelling companies Olam and Birdsong.

Industry consolidation is hard to track. Many subsidiary firms often are controlled by one parent corporation and engage in “contract packing,” in which a single processing plant produces identical foods that are then sold under dozens of different brands – including labels that compete directly against each other.

Recalls ordered in response to food-borne disease outbreaks have revealed the broad scope of contracting relationships. Shutdowns at meatpacking plants due to COVID-19 infections among workers have shown how much of the U.S. food supply flows through a small number of facilities.

With consolidation, large supermarket chains have closed many urban and rural stores. This process has left numerous communities with limited food selections and high prices – especially neighborhoods with many low-incomeBlack, or Latino households.

In 2006, the Community Grocery Store in the small town of Walsh, Colorado, avoided going out of business by selling stock to residents. The store is still in business in 2021.

Widespread hunger

As unemployment has risen during the pandemic, so has the number of hungry Americans. Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, estimates that up to 50 million people – including 17 million children – may currently be experiencing food insecurity. Nationwide, demand at food banks grew by over 48% during the first half of 2020.

Simultaneously, disruptions in food supply chains forced farmers to dump milk down the drain, leave produce rotting in fields, and euthanize livestock that could not be processed at slaughterhouses. We estimate that between March and May of 2020, farmers disposed of somewhere between 300,000 and 800,000 hogs and 2 million chickens – more than 30,000 tons of meat.

What role does concentration play in this situation? Research shows that retail concentration correlates with higher prices for consumers. It also shows that when food systems have fewer production and processing sites, disruptions can have major impacts on supply.

Consolidation makes it easier for any industry to maintain high prices. With few players, companies simply match each other’s price increases rather than competing with them. Concentration in the U.S. food system has raised the costs of everything from breakfast cereal and coffee to beer.

The combined share of sales for the top four firms (CR4) for selected U.S. commodities, food processing/manufacturing and distribution/retail channels.

The combined share of sales for the top four firms (CR4) for selected U.S. commodities, food processing/manufacturing, and distribution/retail channels.

As the pandemic roiled the nation’s food system through 2020, consumer food costs rose by 3.4%, compared to 0.4% in 2018 and 0.9% in 2019. We expect retail prices to remain high because they are “sticky,” with a tendency to increase rapidly but to decline more slowly and only partially.

We also believe there could be further supply disruptions. A few months into the pandemic, meat shelves in some U.S. stores sat empty, while some of the nation’s largest processors were exporting record amounts of meat to China. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., cited this imbalance as evidence of the need to crack down on what they called “monopolistic practices” by Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS, and Smithfield, which dominate the U.S. meatpacking industry.

Tyson Foods responded that a large portion of its exports were “cuts of meat or portions of the animal that are not desired by” Americans. Store shelves are no longer empty for most cuts of meat, but processing plants remain overbooked, with many scheduling well into 2021.

Toward a more equitable food system

In our view, a resilient food system that feeds everyone can be achieved only through a more equitable distribution of power. This in turn will require action in areas ranging from contract law and antitrust policy to workers’ rights and economic development. Farmers, workers, elected officials, and communities will have to work together to fashion alternatives and change policies.

The goal should be to produce more locally sourced food with shorter and less-centralized supply chains. Detroit offers an example. Over the past 50 years, food producers there have established more than 1,900 urban farms and gardens. A planned community-owned food co-op will serve the city’s North End, whose residents are predominantly low- and moderate-income and African American.

The federal government can help by adapting farm support programs to target farms and businesses that serve local and regional markets. State and federal incentives can build community- or cooperative-owned farms and processing and distribution businesses. Ventures like these could provide economic development opportunities while making the food system more resilient.

In our view, the best solutions will come from listening to and working with the people most affected: sustainable farmers, farm and food service workers, entrepreneurs and cooperators – and ultimately, the people whom they feed.

Source: The Conversation

Authors

Associate Professor of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University

Philip H. Howard is a faculty member in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. He is the author of Concentration and Power in the Food System: Who Controls What We Eat? (2016, Bloomsbury Academic). He was president of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society from 2015 to 2016, and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.

His research interests focus on exploring food system changes, particularly trends of industry consolidation, and their impacts on sustainability. He uses visualization extensively in his research and outreach, including characterizing levels of economic concentration in industries such as processed organic foods, beer, wine, and seeds. The visualizations have been featured in numerous outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The Ecologist, E-The Environmental Magazine, and Mother Earth News.

He holds a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri. He conducted research at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 2002 to 2006, and was a visiting scholar in the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah in 2013-2014.

 Associate Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia

I’m a rural sociologist whose passion is making the world a better place through food. The way we produce and consume food had been changing rapidly over the past few decades for both consumers and producers. For me, food and agriculture are at the nexus of critical 21st-century issues of climate change, water scarcity, hunger, and energy use.

I seek to contribute to the robust discussion among scholars, policy-makers, and citizens about the positive and negative implications of food system changes for farmers, rural communities, the overall environment, and the health of our population. My scholarship focuses on the social and economic organization of different types of food systems, the social, ecological, and economic impacts of that organization, and options for changing how we organize the food system. I’m really interested in how sustainable food systems can make all of our lives better and make us more resilient in the face of our changing climate.

I spent 15 years working to create local food systems in the state of Missouri through the University of Missouri Extension where I gained valuable on-the-ground experience in transforming food systems. I worked extensively with community groups to increase the amount of fresh, flavorful, and nutritious food available by providing technical assistance on marketing, business planning, feasibility studies, policy, food safety, and consumer preferences to farmers and community groups.

I studied the Kansas City Food Circle in its early stages, helped write grants for cooperatives, and was involved in the creation of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition. In 2012, I moved to research and teaching full-time. I currently teach courses on sustainable food and farming systems at MU.




Simple Hacks That Make Fasting Easy

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Key dietary principles for losing excess weight and keeping it off include getting at least half or more of your daily calories from healthy fats, eating the right type and amount of protein, avoiding inflammatory foods including inflammatory vegetables, and having periods of time when you fast (abstain from food)
  • A primary benefit of fasting is that it makes your body better at making energy. This in turn has several benefits, one of which is improved blood sugar regulation, which will allow you to stave off insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and all the diseases of aging associated with that
  • Fasting is also antiaging because it improves autophagy in your mitochondria and cells
  • A simple hack that will make fasting easier is to raise your ketone level with black mycotoxin-free coffee, with or without added MCT oil and grass-fed butter
  • Another fasting hack is to make sure you’re getting enough prebiotic fiber. Adding prebiotics to your morning coffee is compatible with fasting and will prevent hunger

Dr. Mercola Interviews the Experts

This article is part of a weekly series in which Dr. Mercola interviews various experts on a variety of health issues. To see more expert interviews, click here.

Over the years, I’ve done several interviews with Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of bulletproof.com, including one in which we discuss how ketones may be useful against COVID-19. Here, we discuss his latest book, “Fast This Way: Burn Fat, Heal Inflammation, and Eat Like the High-Performing Human You Were Meant to Be.”

As the name implies, the book is about fasting and all the magnificent health benefits it provides. Is it for everyone? No, and he will be the first to admit that. But it can benefit most of us, certainly, those of us who are either overweight or obese. In his book, Asprey tells his own journey into fasting and what he’s learned along the way.

“The word fasting is associated with pain, and I wanted to teach people some hacks for fasting,” Asprey says. “I also put a whole chapter in for women, because fasting doesn’t work for everyone and there is no one best kind of fasting. The evidence seems pretty clear that fasting the same way every day or every week is probably also not the best strategy.

So, how do you make it so you can fast without pain when you have stuff to do? And how do you make it so you fast with all of the emotions of fasting when you want to really dig deep and do the meditation, personal development side of fasting? Sorting through all that hasn’t been done in a book, so that’s why I wrote it.”

Breaking the Starvation Myth

As noted by Asprey, a common concern is that fasting will put your body into starvation mode, thereby actually preventing fat loss. This is a persistent belief, but it’s not true. That said, some strategies will indeed activate the starvation mode, such as when you’re eating a low-calorie diet for months on end. Asprey tells a personal story that encapsulates this dilemma:

“On my journey of losing 100 pounds, I was doing what everyone said would work. I went to the gym an hour and a half a day, six days a week, halfway tough cardio until I could max out all but two machines, and I would do 45 minutes on the treadmill at a 15-degree angle wearing a backpack — really just pushing it.

And, I went on a low-fat, low-calorie diet. At the end of 18 months, I’m sitting at a Carl’s Jr. with friends. I’m eating the chicken salad with no chicken and no dressing and my friends are eating double western bacon cheeseburgers. I looked around and I’m like, ‘I exercise more than all my friends and I eat less than all my friends, even though I’m taller than they are. Maybe I’m just eating too much lettuce.’

To have a 46-inch waist after that much exercise, low-calorie dieting and all the suffering and intense hunger … My god, the sense of personal failure that comes with that, it’s one thing that holds people back and makes us stay heavy.

What’s going on there is there is a hunger set point that is caused by ghrelin, one of the hunger hormones. It’s a precursor to leptin. Research has shown that when you lose weight using a low-calorie diet or excessive exercise — and I was doing both — your hunger set point will remain your fat set point, and it will always do that.

The thing that turns your set point for hunger to your actual weight instead of to your fat weight is ketones. So, if you were to fast for a couple days or use the fasting hacks that I talk about in the book — there are three fasting hacks to turn off hunger, and two of them are going to help get your ketones up — even just one dose will reset your hunger levels.”

As explained by Asprey, yo-yo weight loss and weight gain occur because you’re on the wrong diet. Key dietary principles for losing the excess weight and keeping it off include:

  • Getting at least half or more of your daily calories from healthy fats
  • Eating the right type and amount of protein
  • Avoiding inflammatory foods, including inflammatory vegetables (culprits include lectins and oxalic acid, for example)
  • Having periods of time when you fast (abstain from food)

Key Benefits of Fasting

So, what are the main benefits of fasting? Is it just the ease of weight loss? As explained by Asprey, there are many other health benefits to fasting besides the fact that stubborn weight will fall off. Importantly, the primary benefit of fasting is that it makes your body better at making energy.

This in turn has several benefits, one of which is improved blood sugar regulation, which will allow you to stave off insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction and all the diseases of aging associated with that. As noted by Asprey, if you can avoid cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, you’re probably going to live longer, as these are the primary killers.

Fasting is also antiaging because it improves autophagy in your mitochondria and cells. Autophagy is a natural process that cleanses and detoxifies your mitochondria and cells. By breaking down old, damaged organelles, fresh, new ones can be made to replace them. And, with healthy, new mitochondria, your body can make more energy, more efficiently.

“That’s an unappreciated side of fasting,” Asprey says. “High-intensity interval training will do something similar, but when you combine that with fasting, your body is like, ‘Get rid of that old stuff.’ It’s kind of like a snake shedding its skin. It’s that autophagy process that is a really big deal.”

The Most Important Fat to Avoid

As mentioned, about half or more of your daily calories should come from fats, but it’s crucial to avoid certain types of fats. I’m currently writing a book on what I believe might be the primary disease-maker in the Western diet, namely omega-6 linoleic acid (LA).

LA makes up the bulk — about 90% — of the omega-6 consumed and is the primary contributor to nearly all chronic diseases. While an essential fat, when consumed in excessive amounts, LA acts as a metabolic poison.

The reason for this is because polyunsaturated fats such as LA are highly susceptible to oxidation. As the fat oxidizes, it breaks down into harmful sub-components such as advanced lipid oxidation end products (ALES) and oxidized LA metabolites (OXLAMS). These ALES and OXLAMS are actually what cause the damage.

One type of advanced lipid oxidation end product (ALE) is 4HNE, a mutagen known to cause DNA damage. Studies have shown there’s a definite correlation between elevated levels of 4HNE and heart failure. LA breaks down into 4HNE even faster when the oil is heated, which is why cardiologists recommend avoiding fried foods. LA intake and the subsequent ALES and OXLAMS produced also play a significant role in cancer.

HNE and other ALES are extraordinarily harmful even in exceedingly small quantities. While excess sugar is certainly bad for your health and should typically be limited to 25 grams per day or less, it doesn’t cause a fraction of the oxidative damage that LA does.

Processed vegetable oils are a primary source of LA, but even food sources hailed for their health benefits contain it and can be a problem if consumed in excess. Cases in point: olive oil and conventionally raised chicken, which are fed LA-rich grains. To learn more about this hidden source of LA, see “Why Chicken Is Killing You and Saturated Fat Is Your Friend.”

Many now understand that your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is very important, and should be about 1-to-1 or possibly up to 4-to-1, but simply increasing your omega-3 intake won’t counteract the damage done by excessive LA. You really need to minimize the omega-6 to prevent damage from taking place. For more details about how to track your LA intake and minimize it, please view my recent article on how to do this.

Simple Hacks That Make Fasting Easier

Contrary to popular belief, fasting doesn’t have to be difficult or painful. Asprey details three fasting hacks in “Fast This Way.” The first one is to increase your ketone level. As explained by Asprey, hunger hormones start shifting when your ketone level hits slightly below 0.5, which is not yet the level at which you enter nutritional ketosis. He explains:

“Ghrelin will drop at 0.38, so almost no ketones. The hunger that comes with the ghrelin turns off. But there’s also a satiety hormone, the one that makes you feel full, which is called CCK or cholecystokinin. CCK, when you hit levels of 0.48, CCK makes you feel full. So, if you can get your ketones up to that level in the morning, then you will not pay attention to food.

The first step to get your levels up is mycotoxin-free black coffee — the Bulletproof beans are that. I did the original research about this. Anything that causes inflammation is going to make you hungry because inflammation just means the electrons that should be powering your thoughts are going to create inflammation in the body. They must go somewhere.

These toxins are present in very small amounts. Coffee that has more than five parts per million is illegal to sell in China, Japan and Europe, but it gets sent to the U.S., and we wonder why we get really hungry two hours after we have coffee and why we want sugar in our coffee.

It has to do with toxins, not coffee itself. A study at UC San Diego is really interesting. They found that the amount of caffeine present in two small cups of black coffee will double ketone production.

The second way is to make the coffee ‘bulletproof.’ And what that means is, you take your mycotoxin-free beans and you add some MCT oil. The 8-carbon chain (C8) MCT is the correct one. C8 MCT raises ketones four times more than coconut oil. [Then] you [add] butter and blend it or really shake it.”

Asprey funded research at the University of Washington with Dr. Gerald Pollack, who determined that when water is mixed with grass-fed butter or MCT oil, it creates a very large exclusion zone (EZ) in the water, and this EZ is important during fasting.

When you drink regular water, your body takes the water and puts it near your cell membranes, which are made of tiny droplets of fat. Body heat warms the water, converting it from bulk water into EZ water, which your body requires for ATP production and other biological processes, including autophagy and protein folding.

“When you put that tiny bit of butter and the MCT oil and you blend it in the morning, the MCT is going to raise your ketone levels very meaningfully. I can always get to 0.5 with just a Bulletproof coffee. But you’re also getting this water in the form of the coffee that is already primed for your body to use it to start burning fat, to start making energy,” Asprey explains.

“This is why taking a bite of butter and drinking a cup of coffee isn’t going to do it for you. It’s a different process. And I have noticed profound differences from doing that … I have found that for women, in particular, starting out with this really helps, especially if you’re over 40.”

The Importance of Prebiotic Fiber

A third fasting hack is to make sure you’re getting enough prebiotic fiber. According to Asprey, long term fasting and/or eating a carnivore-like, zero-carb diet for extended periods of time without cycling healthy carbs back in can alter your gut microbiota, which in turn can cause sleep disruptions.

When you feed your gut bacteria with prebiotics, they convert the prebiotics into propionic acid and butyric acid (butyrate), and butyrate is very pro-ketogenic.

“In fact, you can get into a state of ketosis by taking a handful of butyrate capsules,” Asprey says. “You want more butyric acid if you want to live a long time and have a healthy metabolism, and studies show massive hunger suppression when you do this.

So, if you put prebiotic fiber, which has essentially no flavor, in your coffee in the morning … you’ll also find that you care nothing about food. I was able to quadruple the number of species of [beneficial bacteria] in my gut using this. It’s totally compatible with fasting and it turns off hunger like no one’s business.

So now you’re saying, ‘Wait, a minute. I could have the coffee I was going to have anyway. I don’t put the sugar and artificial crap in it. I get the mold-free coffee and then I have a choice of drinking a black, of adding butter and MCT, and/or adding prebiotic fiber.’

What you do then is you drink this and you just stop caring about food, you go into the zone and you have the best morning you’ve ever had. Then the next morning, maybe you only have black coffee or maybe you have tea or maybe you have nothing at all, but it’s OK and it’s even preferable to mix up your length and style of fasting.”

Cyclical Keto and Fasting Are the Safest Approaches

In the interview, Asprey discusses several of the diet traps that people get themselves into. As general guidance, Asprey and I both agree that the best strategy to stay out of trouble is to cycle in and out of whatever routine you’re doing, be it low-carb keto or fasting.

While you may need to be very strict in the beginning, once you’re metabolically flexible, mix things up once or twice a week. Eat three meals instead of one and/or spread them out. Add in more carbs.

“The idea is to be flexible about your fasting regimen,” Asprey says. “I don’t even like the word regimen. It’s just a practice that we do and it’s a practice that makes us feel good, it makes us perform better. And it makes us age less, but doing it too much is a real danger.

If you’re going to do something like a four-day fast, after about 48 hours, there’s all sorts of additional forms of autophagy that turn on. Once every three or six months, doing a 48-hour fast is really well-advised. But man, as a weekly practice, that’ll mess you up …

Women will hit the wall before men do. I think there are evolutionary reasons for this. But it’s a big problem and I oftentimes see thyroid problems manifest and autoimmunity. There are good studies that show chronic stressors trigger autoimmunity, and over-fasting is a chronic stressor almost by definition.”

How Activated Charcoal Can Help

One reason why fasting is a stressor is that it releases toxins from your fat cells. A simple intervention to address this is the use of activated charcoal when you’re fasting. This is particularly beneficial if you’re also doing saunas.

“The universal thing that will happen is you will experience massive brain fog. You’ll feel like a zombie. This was a big thing for me because I had toxic mold exposure [and] I had heavy metals. You have these very interesting things in your gut, these gut bacteria that make lipopolysaccharides (LPS).

LPS’s can cross the gut barrier and then they cause inflammation in the body and trigger cravings in the brain. So, when the bad bacteria in your gut are going, ‘I didn’t get my sugar. I didn’t get any food. Oh, my god, it’s a mortal threat. If there’s a threat, I should release toxins.’

So, they ramp up their LPS production and then you’ll feel like garbage. Then you have to use even more willpower to get through your fast — or you could take activated charcoal that binds directly to LPS. Then you don’t feel the hunger and you don’t have to take the biological hit of all the toxins you’re releasing from your fat, and that really makes a big difference.”

Tripling Down on mTOR

In his book, Asprey also discusses how to integrate exercise into your fasting regimen. The best time to exercise is at the end of your fast. He explains:

“There’s something in the body called mTOR, which drives growth. mTOR will drive muscle [growth]. So, if you want to get a bicep, then you need some mTOR. But if your mTOR is chronically elevated, your risk of cancer and the diseases of aging go up. If you eat too much protein, especially certain amino acids, your [mTOR] level goes up and stays up, and that’s not good for you.

It’s not enough to trigger muscle growth, but it’s just enough to trigger inflammation. The way mTOR works is you suppress mTOR and then when you stop suppressing it, it surges forth and you get a big spike, which is what causes the benefits.

There’s three things that suppress mTOR and I call the strategy ‘tripling down on mTOR.’ The first thing that is shown to increase mTOR is fasting. The longer you fast, the lower your mTOR goes, which is good for triggering autophagy and things like that.

Other things that lowers mTOR are coffee and exercise. So, by having coffee during the fast, you keep cranking down on it, and then you exercise and it’s really low.

Then when you eat, which releases mTOR, and you have adequate protein in that meal, the body is like, ‘Woo-hoo, I’ve got a huge surge of mTOR and I’ve got protein present. Now, I’m going to go to work and I’m going to fix everything. I’m going to replace all the cells I got rid of during autophagy. I’m going to grow the new mitochondria.'”

This is why you get more out of exercise when you do it at the end of a fast. I’m convinced this strategy has helped me radically build my muscles and improve my strength. One small tweak that may be helpful if you’re doing very heavy exercise is to eat a small amount of food about 30 to 60 minutes before you start, essentially breaking your fast right before your exercise.

“There’s great logic in that advice,” Asprey says. “You fasted and then you broke the fast right before the exercise, because by the time those calories are digested and hit the blood sugar, you will be done with your workout. It’s going to be a good half hour before that stuff really hits the bloodstream.

So, I would totally support that unless you’re doing the kind of high-intensity workouts that I’m a fan of, the ones where if I tried to do it with a full stomach, I think I might throw up. They’re very short but they’re very intense.”

More Information

Asprey discusses a number of other antiaging strategies in this interview as well — things like hormone regulation and the use of testosterone, and how fasting affects these levels — so for those details, be sure to listen to the whole interview.

He also goes into some of the problems that can occur when you’re on a plant-based diet, and/or if your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is off-kilter, as well as how your diet and exposure to sunlight influence your circadian rhythm, and which supplements are helpful when fasting and which should be avoided.

Naturally, you’ll also want to pick up a copy of his book, “Fast This Way: Burn Fat, Heal Inflammation, and Eat Like the High-Performing Human You Were Meant to Be,” where he covers everything in greater depth. In addition to everything already mentioned, his book also includes information about intermittent hypoxic training and breathing exercises.

“What we know now, and what is in ‘Fast This Way,’ is that when you show your body that it will be required to regularly go without something it thinks it needs, you walk away from that as a stronger person.

Your willpower is stronger, but more importantly, your cells are stronger, and then they will give you more energy all the time. And, going from a 300-pound tired, fat, uncomfortable guy to where I am now, even though I’m 48, if I could do it, I think anyone could do it,” Asprey says.

Sign Up for a Guided Fast

To help you on your way, Asprey also provides a two-week program where he guides you through a 24- or 48-hour fast and answers questions on a daily basis. All you need to do is preorder “Fast This Way,” and then send a copy of your receipt to FastThisWay.com and sign up for the program. There’s an upload form on the website.

“I’ll teach you the fasting hacks. We’ll do some intermittent fasting together in a community, and then towards the end of this, we will actually do a 24-hour or 48-hour fast. I’m going to lead you through it,” he says.

“We also [cover] mediation and the gratitude side of this. I just want to teach you this book because I spent thousands of hours writing it and I want you to get it.

You can send your receipt in any time. The training starts right after the book comes out. The book hits shelves January 19, and January 21 I’m going to start the fast. So, if you want to ask me questions, I’m going to be there for you.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), he treated thousands of patients for over 20 years.

Dr. Mercola finished his family practice residency in 1985. Because he was trained under the conventional medical model, he treated patients using prescription drugs during his first years of private practice and was actually a paid speaker for drug companies.

But as he began to experience the failures of the conventional model in his practice, he embraced natural medicine and found great success with time-tested holistic approaches. He founded The Natural Health Center (formerly The Optimal Wellness Center), which became well-known for its whole-body approach to medicine.

In 1997, Dr. Mercola integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the Internet. He founded the website Mercola.com to share his own health experiences and spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health. Mercola.com is now the world’s most visited natural health website, averaging 14 million visitors monthly and with over one million subscribers.

Dr. Mercola aims to ignite a transformation of the fatally flawed health care system in the United States and to inspire people to take control of their health. He has made significant milestones in his mission to bring safe and practical solutions to people’s health problems.

Dr. Mercola authored two New York Times Bestsellers, The Great Bird Flu Hoax, and The No-Grain Diet. He was also voted the 2009 Ultimate Wellness Game Changer by the Huffington Post, and has been featured in TIME magazine, LA Times, CNN, Fox News, ABC News with Peter Jennings, Today Show, CBS’s Washington Unplugged with Sharyl Attkisson, and other major media resources.

Stay connected with Dr. Mercola by following him on Twitter. You can also check out his Facebook page for more timely natural health updates.




Can Carrots Help Combat COVID?

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Scientists studying the relationship between nutrition, your immune system, and COVID-19 have found that carrots have a compound that is stable against SARS-CoV-2 proteins
  • Carrots are rich in vitamins A and C; data show a deficiency in vitamin A leads to age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and inhibition of normal apoptosis in bone marrow
  • Beta-carotene helps optimize levels of non-HDL cholesterol and compounds found in carrots help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and metabolic syndrome
  • While the demand for baby carrots is rising in the U.S., it’s wise to steer clear of them as they are usually given a chlorine bath before sale; choose whole, unprocessed, ideally organic, carrots that you can wash, peel and cut yourself

Carrots (Daucus carota) are root vegetables and one of the most popular food ingredients used worldwide. Researchers have found this popular vegetable may hold one key in the fight against COVID-19.1

Historians believe the history of the carrot is somewhat obscured since, initially, carrots and parsnips were used interchangeably and it has been difficult to identify when wild carrots were first cultivated.2

It is believed they originated in Iran and Afghanistan and were popular in ancient Egypt, where the most-used carrot was believed to be purple. English settlers brought the modern-day carrot to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1609, where they spread to South America and then made the jump to Australia.

Wild carrots are still indigenous to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia and appear in temperate regions around the world.3 The modern carrot appeared in the 17th century after selective breeding reduced the wooden core and increased the sweetness.4 But it was only after World War I that carrots became popular in the U.S.

China leads the market for turnips and carrots combined, producing 48.2% of world sales for the two veggies.5 Global production in 2019 was 44.7 million metric tons and the market is expected to continue to grow at 3.4% through 2025. The major challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the impact on the supply chain, which has increased direct farm-to-consumer sales and delayed shipping.

Some Components of Carrots Influence SARS-CoV-2 Proteins

Many scientists have begun studying the relationship between nutrition, your immune system, and COVID-19 infection. Since carrots are consumed around the world, scientists at a private institution in Mexico developed a study in which they analyzed the effect retinol RTN from carrots has on amino acids that make up SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.6

Preformed vitamin A, called retinol, comes only from animal products such as buttercream, cod liver oil, eggs, and liver.7 However, carrots contain beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in a range of 3-to-1 or 28-to-1, depending on factors such as thyroid function and zinc levels.

Researchers used the HyperChem molecular modeling software to evaluate electron transfer coefficients of the nutritional compounds found in carrots and the SARS-CoV-2 amino acids. What they found was the interaction between carrot RTN and the virus amino acids was the most stable, concluding that the results of their analysis “may indicate a recommendation to increase carrot consumption to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”8

They point out that carrots are a rich source of vitamins C and A, as well as energy, fiber, calcium, and beta-carotene. In the past researchers have demonstrated carrots have anti-inflammatory properties, anticancer activity, and antioxidant activity by scavenging free radicals, which is essential for your immune system.

Their present work looked at the interaction between the amino acids in the COVID-19 coronavirus and multiple components found in carrots. Using chemical quantum analysis, they found RTN was the most stable substance and functioned as an antioxidant agent.

The data showed RTN, with other chemical compounds found in carrots, worked together to fight SARS-CoV-2. Interestingly, when they compared the power of RTN against commonly used allopathic medicines used for COVID-19, including remdesivir, ivermectin, aspirin, and favipiravir, the natural substances in carrots appeared to be more powerful.9

Retinoids and Carotenoids Support Your Immune Health

While beta-carotene-rich vegetables, such as carrots, are helpful, you absorb more vitamin A from animal-based products. However, John Stolarczyk, from the World Carrot Museum, points out it’s easier to get people to eat carrots than it is to eat liver or cod liver oil:10

“Almost everyone, especially kids, likes carrots, whereas liver is an acquired taste. Carrots are very cheap, (easily stored) and attractively displayed in most stores. Liver looks dreadful.”

For nearly 100 years, scientists have understood that vitamin A is an essential component in your body’s ability to resist infectious disease.11 However, it is only recently that researchers have begun to understand the mechanism vitamin A uses to regulate cell- and humoral-mediated immunity.

This includes the discovery that retinoic acid plays an important role in cell regulation on immunity.12 Retinoic acid helps balance TH17 and T cell regulatory responses, as well as having a therapeutic role in autoimmune diseases. Researchers have found that retinoic deficiency plays an important role in the development of a broad range of autoimmune diseases.13

Your skin is an important part of your immune health, functioning as the front line of defense against bacteria and viruses, and other pathogens. Scientists have known that vitamin A plays a unique and vital role in the formation and maturation of epithelial cells.14,15 But this doesn’t happen on just the outside of your body.

Vitamin A also plays an integral role in the production of the mucus layer that lines your respiratory and intestinal tracts and plays a primary role in promoting the secretion of mucin. This is a glycoprotein that plays a central role in limiting infectious disease and in adaptive immunity.16

Researchers have also identified the role it plays in the defense of your oral mucosa and improving the integrity of your intestinal mucosa. In addition to being important to protect your immune system, researchers, using animal models, have found a vitamin A deficiency (VitAD) can result in a:17

“… defect in both T cell-mediated and antibody-dependent immune responses. VitAD can also inhibit the normal apoptosis process of bone marrow cells, which leads to an increased number of myeloid cells in the bone marrow, spleen, and peripheral blood, indicating that VitA is involved in the regulation of homeostasis of bone marrow.”

Beta-Carotene May Help Promote Cholesterol Homeostasis

Cholesterol and beta-carotene have considerable overlapping properties, including transportation facilitated by lipoproteins and the body’s use as precursors for hormones.18 While cholesterol and beta-carotene are present in atherosclerotic plaque lesions, elevated concentrations of beta-carotene are associated with a lower incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers believe they have shed new light on the interaction between beta-carotene and cholesterol metabolism that has been called a “potential game-changer.”19

After a preclinical study in which they compare the effects of a 10-day diet high in beta-carotene on the plasma cholesterol of beta-carotene oxygenase 1 (BCO1) deficient mice, the research team aimed at determining whether the same BCO1 locus could affect serum cholesterol concentrations in humans.

They evaluated a cohort of college applicants of Mexican ethnicity in the Multidisciplinary Investigation on Genetics, Obesity, And Social Environment. BCO1 is the enzyme that converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.20

Analysis of the animal study showed that the mice without BCO1 had elevated plasma level concentrations of beta-carotene as they could not convert it to vitamin A.21 The higher concentrations were associated with an increase in cholesterol as compared to the wild type mice control, which converted beta-carotene to vitamin A and had lower levels of cholesterol.

Cholesterol changes occurred almost exclusively in non-HDL cholesterol.22 One commentator points out many are deficient in beta-carotene and speculates:23

“… it might be predictable that the observed effect increases with age and that the cholesterol-lowering effect of β-carotene is enhanced on diets rich in carotenoids.

Notably, previous studies linked low vitamin A blood concentrations to coronary events such as myocardial infarction. β-Carotene is a major source of vitamin A, but as recently noted by a conference elucidating the current status of the β-carotene research field, dietary intake is below recommended concentrations of <3 mg/d in many populations.”

More Health Benefits of Carrots and Seed Extract

The flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids in carrots all contribute to numerous other health benefits. Data have demonstrated the compounds found in carrots have properties that lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.24

They also are known for hepatoprotective, renal protective, and anti-inflammatory properties. When you develop a habit of including carrots in your daily routine, you enjoy some important health benefits.

Cancer — Data show smokers who eat carrots more than once weekly have a lower risk of lung cancer,25 and a beta-carotene rich diet may help protect against prostate cancer26 and colon cancer,27 and to reduce the risk of gastric cancer.28

Carrots also contain falcarinol, a natural toxin they use against fungal disease, which may stimulate cancer-fighting mechanisms in your body and has demonstrated the ability to reduce the risk of tumors in rats.29

Vision — Carrots have long been associated with good eyesight. Vitamin A deficiency can speed the deterioration of your eyes’ photoreceptors leading to vision problems and night blindness.30 Carrots can also reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration31 and cataracts.32

Both are eye diseases that get worse over time and may lead to blindness. Additionally, data have shown that women can reduce their risk of glaucoma by 64% when they eat more than two servings of carrots per week.33

Metabolic syndrome — Carrots contain beta-carotene and lycopene, both of which have been associated with a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and elderly men.34 Metabolic syndrome is associated with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Brain health — Data show middle-aged men and women who eat a high number of root vegetables, such as carrots, show a reduction in cognitive decline.35 Carrot extract has also demonstrated a positive effect on the management of cognitive dysfunction.36

Antiaging effect — Carrots are replete with antioxidants that help reduce the damage caused by free radicals.37 Carrot seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties, which are significant even when compared against drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Naproxen.38

Vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene also help prevent premature skin aging. Data also show people with scleroderma, a disorder of connective tissue, had low levels of beta-carotene. 39

Choose Your Carrots Carefully

Demand for baby carrots in the U.S. continues to rise as more people are choosing them for snacks over junk foods.40 Baby carrots are made from full-length carrots that are peeled and shaped. Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms are the two leading producers that have focused on advertising campaigns and packaging to improve snack food sales.

However, part of the process of making baby carrots includes a chlorine bath. Grimmway Farms reports they use chlorine on all their baby carrots to prevent food poisoning.41 Chlorine can also be used to extend the shelf life of baby carrots.

Buffing and processing increase the rate at which the carrots begin to deteriorate and develop a white blush on the exterior as the vegetable begins drying out.42 Although the amount of chlorine in each individual baby carrot is minute, it has an additive value to your overall toxic burden.

Additionally, it isn’t the chlorine that causes most problems but, rather, the disinfection byproducts produced when the chlorine interacts with organic matter.43 In this case, the term organic means a carbon-based compound.

Disinfection byproducts are far more toxic than chlorine and are produced in all baby carrots, whether toxic pesticides were used in the growing process or not. Long-term exposure includes excessive free radical formation, which accelerates aging and vulnerability to genetic mutation and cancer.

Scientists are only beginning to understand the long and short-term impacts of chlorine-based chemicals. Your healthiest option is to grow your own or buy whole, unprocessed, ideally organic carrots and then wash, peel and cut them yourself.

Carrots can stay fresh in the coolest part of your refrigerator for about two weeks when they are wrapped in a paper towel or placed in a sealed bag. Avoid storing them near apples, pears, or potatoes since the ethylene gas released from these vegetables and fruit can create a bitter flavor to your carrots.44

If your carrots still have green tops, remove those before storing them in the refrigerator since the carrots will wilt faster. However, carrot tops are nutritious and can easily be added to fresh vegetable juice or your salad.

Warning!

This recommendation on carrots is general and I don’t want you to believe that carrots should be used to treat COVID. It is important to understand that many are unable to effectively convert the carotenoids to the active form retinol that improves immune function.

So if you or anyone you know has an active infection it is FAR better to use retinol. A good form would be emulsified vitamin A. Don’t eat a pound of carrots and think that it will help you fight COVID as it likely won’t. You need the real vitamin A.




5 Best Medicinal Herbs You Can Grow Easily

Are you thinking about growing some herbs but aren’t sure which ones to choose? Herbs are more than just a tasty cooking ingredient. Turns out, some herbs have medicinal properties that can help you heal mentally and physically.

Which herbs should you grow at home?

Check out this guide to learn about the best medicinal herbs to grow at home.

1. Sage

Sage is a versatile herb that’s also relatively easy to grow. Sage is widely used in Italian cooking and other types of Mediterranean cuisine. The ancient Romans coveted sage due to its healing properties.

Here are some of the benefits of sage:

  • Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
  • Contains antimicrobial properties to support oral health
  • Reduces blood sugar levels
  • Eases symptoms of menopause
  • Supports brain health and memory
  • Lowers LDL cholesterol
  • Protects the body against certain types of cancer

Sage is also a disinfectant and an astringent. To grow sage, you need plenty of sunshine, good soil drainage, and fresh air. You can grow sage from seed, or you can purchase small plants from your local nursery.

Many people also choose to grow sage using a Grow Box. Sage needs about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. If you plan to grow sage outdoors, wait until it’s at least 65 degrees outside to plant it. You should plant the seedlings about 18 to 24 inches apart.

Plant your sage in sandy, well-drained soil. Ideally, you want the soil to have a pH level between 6 and 7.

2. Basil

While basil is very common in Italian cuisine, you can also grow Thai basil, which makes a great addition to Asian dishes. Native to Asia, people have been cultivating basil for at least 5,000 years.

While we now mostly use basil for flavoring our pasta and garnishing our bruschetta, basil used to be harvested for its medicinal properties. Here are some of the biggest health benefits of basil:

  • Contains antioxidants that protect the body from cell-damaging free radicals
  • Promotes blood flow and healthy eyesight
  • Excellent course of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and magnesium
  • Can be made into essential oil for aromatherapy purposes

Basil prefers to stay moist, so make sure to water it on a regular basis. You should give your basil about one inch of water each week. Basil doesn’t need much to grow, so don’t worry too much about fertilizing it.

Many gardeners find that they can grow robust basil leaves without any fertilizer. Basil thrives in sunlight and warm temperatures, If growing indoors, place your basil pot by your window. However, you may want to move your basil away from the window during the midday so the heat doesn’t scorch it, as basil enjoys temperatures around 70 degrees.

3. Thyme

Another excellent herb to grow for medicinal purposes is thyme. Thyme is perennial, which means it can grow year-round. People often take thyme by the mouth for whooping cough, bronchitis, colic, arthritis, sore throats, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

You can also apply thyme to your scalp to treat baldness, and you can apply it to your ears to fight fungal and bacterial infections. Thyme can also help stimulate your appetite and fight bad breath. Many mouthwash companies use thyme as a flavoring agent.

Just like basil and sage, thyme prefers the sunlight. It also likes an even supply of water, and you should be very careful not to overwater your thyme.

For best results, grow your thyme from the seed indoors, and then transfer it outdoors after the last frost. Although thyme can handle fairly poor soil conditions, it does best in light, well-drained soil. If you choose to keep your thyme indoors, place it in a container next to the window.

4. Chamomile

When most of us think of chamomile, we think of chamomile tea. However, chamomile’s sweetness also makes it a delicious baking ingredient. It can add a unique flavor to your cakes, pastries, custards, and ice cream. The leaves are also enjoyable in salads.

While most people drink chamomile tea to soothe a sore throat, it has a number of other benefits, including:

  • Reduces mentrual pain
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Slows down the onset of osteoporosis
  • Helps with relaxation and sleep
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Alleviates mild skin conditions such as eczema
  • Aids in wound healing

Unlike the other herbs on this list, chamomile enjoys the shade and cool weather. Plant your chamomile in dry soil in partial shade. Once your chamomile establishes itself, it needs very little care. Don’t give it too much fertilizer, as this will result in few flowers and weakly flavored foliage.

5. Parsley

Another herb with some powerful medicinal properties is parsley. People have been using parsley for thousands of years to treat a variety of infections and ailments including:

  • Kidney stones
  • Bladder infections
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma

Parsley is also rich in antioxidants and contains cancer-fighting substances. It supports bone health and contains nutrients that protect your eyes.

Growing parsley is also relatively easy. If your growing parsley outdoors, place the seedlings about 6 to 8 inches apart in well-drained soil. Parsley needs a lot of nutrients to grow, so we suggest packing the soil with some aged compost. Also, make sure to plant your parsley in a sunny spot in your garden.

Best Medicinal Herbs to Grow: Time to Start Growing

Now that you know about the best medicinal herbs to grow, it’s time to start planting. Before you know it, you’ll have a flourishing herb garden.

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more gardening tips and tricks.




The Frequency of Food: Energetic Signatures of More Than 300 Foods

Excerpt from Vibrational Nutrition by Candice Covington

Excerpt From Chapter 1: The Frequency of Food: Energetic Signatures of More Than 300 Foods

The natural world with its vast and wondrous array of forms and energies offers us a treasure trove of vibrational tools that we can use as antidotes for negative energy patterns and to support the cultivation of positive qualities. The vibration of each plant and animal can be understood as an energy pattern with a specific and unique structure or signature. When these energetic signatures resonate with our natural vibrational patterns, we can use them to fine-tune our own energetic bodies. Because we are vibrational beings in a constant state of flux, a significant key to our well-being and growth is the reinforcement of our desired energetic patterns. Food is an effective medium for holding matter at specific vibratory rates.

Sample food entries

Tomato

Tomato, first and foremost, teaches togetherness in many forms. Be it a loving family, a robust community, the dance of relationship, passion, or even courtship, this fruit is about the heart. A part of this dynamic is the ability to be open to differences and new circumstances, and joyfully embrace them.

Broccoli

Broccoli offers the gift of achieving balance, helping one to be responsible and respond to the challenges placed before you. Fascinatingly, broccoli helps you choose your tasks with freedom and joy, so your “to-do list” comes from a place of service. Broccoli also helps you “get it right” and clear up loose ends that nag at you internally: taking care of promises unkept, duties unfulfilled, including those that matter to others.

Potato

Potato dramatically increases future sight, telepathy, clairvoyance, and the ability to use these gifts for healing, often resulting in practical solutions for everyday problems. It also helps in assimilating and grounding into the earthly plane, allowing one to ultimately thrive.

Avocado

Avocado signifies positive touch. It harmonizes the body and mind by dissolving emotional tension and the negative influence of past pain that causes one to turn inward and harden against love offered. Offers shelter when feeling overwhelmed with emotion. Avocado allows the individual to become more vulnerable to others without fear and facilitates intimacy and healing through touch.

Sage

Sage is a master cleanser and purifier and can nullify all discordant energy. This does not mean it’s permanently removed (you still have to do your personal work to shift the cause of the disharmony or circumstance), but sage can offer refuge and hold space for you while you do so.

Black Beans

Black beans bring wild unbridled energy and will energize any situation (good or bad). They are amplifiers. So when black bean calls to you remember to be attentive to your personal energy, environments, and intentions. A great deal of energy is available to you at this time; make sure it is going where you want it!

Almonds

Almonds help to arrest the fear of aging and make the passage of time sacred and not solely experienced through the physical body. They open one to the complex beauty of self and a strong inner vitality.

Egg

The egg contains “all that is possible,” full of promise and new life. It expresses the rebirth of nature, the fruitfulness of the earth and all creation. In many traditions the egg is a symbol for the whole universe, the “cosmic egg” containing a balance of male and female, light and dark, in the egg yolk and egg white. The golden orb of the yolk represents the divine masculine enfolded by the divine feminine, in perfect balance.

Red Snapper

Red snapper helps heal verbal aggression and hostility, supporting changing that behavior if you are the perpetrator or healing the energetic fall out of being on the receiving end.

Beef

Beef brings the frequency that encourages the warmth and the spirit of the home and celebrating the people one chooses to have in their life. These connections remind us of who we are and bring us back to our roots, both culturally and personally, giving us a sense of continuity, of being a part of something greater than ourselves.

Garlic

Garlic brings the energy of affirming the divine light that dwells in your core and using this inexhaustible source to warm your soul. In this light, you are protected from negative energy and malevolent forces, coupled with the ability to protect others. Garlic also offers the gift of respecting the freedom of those you love, teaching by example and holding space for others to find their way without pushing them along before they are ready.

Recipe: Whole Roasted Garlic

Take as many heads of garlic as you would like and peel most of the paper off leaving the head intact with all the cloves connected.

Trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head of garlic to expose the tops of the garlic cloves.

Preheat your oven to 325 and place garlic in a small baking dish and drizzle the exposed tops with 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil. If needed make a ‘nest’ out of tinfoil to help keep the cloves upright. Sprinkle with herbs like rosemary or thyme for additional depth of flavor. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from their coverings, smash the cloves to desired texture, and add olive oil to taste. A pinch of sea salt is optional.

Narrative of Whole Roasted Garlic: Amplifies the divine light that dwells in your core, bringing warmth and receptivity, fostering the energy of inclusiveness and true caring. Respecting the freedom of those you love, teaching by example, and holding space for others to find their way without pushing them along before they are ready.

You might serve this dish to hold space for someone when they are in an emotional or spiritual “growth spurt” to help them anchor their newly acquired understanding, allowing them to feel completely adored and nourished while in the process.

About the Author:

Candice Covington is a certified aromatherapist, massage therapist, healing arts master, and energy worker. A former instructor at Ashmead College and former aroma­therapist for the Chopra Center, she is the founder of Divine Archetypes, an essential oil and flower essence company, and the author of Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice. She lives on a farmette in Oregon City, Oregon. https://divinearchetypes.org/

Vibrational Nutrition by Candice Covington © 2021 Healing Arts Press. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com




How to Help Your Toddler Fall in Love With Food

Getting young kids to eat well and enjoy doing so can be a bit of a struggle for a lot of parents. There are several outlets online that give advice to parents on this subject matter in the form of online forums, mummy bloggers, and social media groups. As great as these can be with their array of various opinions on the matter, the majority of advice given on these come from unqualified sources, so it can be difficult to know where to start.

That’s why we are here to give some top tips on how to encourage your children to love food as much as you do, without any hassle or stress.

Get creative

A simple and effective way to get your kids to love their food is by getting creative with how you present mealtime to them. A really fun way is by introducing toddler lunch ideas and inducing some excitement into their lunch boxes. Over 80% of lunch boxes contain the standard sandwich, why not try mixing this up a bit. Include foods such as wholemeal crackers, pasta, quiche, pitta bread and dips, toasties, rice salads, and vegetable kebabs. All of these foods vary in presentation and taste, whilst providing just as much nutritional value.

Aside from food, you can also add a little element of surprise, such as a funny joke, mini toy, or a small note for your child to enjoy when they open their lunch box. This can make their lunchtime that little bit more special and a good way to get them excited for this mealtime!

Play around with food together

As messy as it sounds, a great way to get your little ones engaged with food is through play, as it can really help to build food familiarity and acceptance. There are several different fun ways to get your toddlers involved in food, including making food stamps, creating edible paint, and doing food tests and quizzes.

Getting stuck in with them will also give you the opportunity to introduce new types of food for them to try out and enjoy with you by their side as encouragement. You can make fruit and vegetables the new cool snacks for them to enjoy and love!

Make the most of mealtimes

There are several factors that can result in a pretty miserable evening meal such as end-of-the-day fatigue and becoming fed up with cooking. This can have a negative effect on how your little ones perceive mealtimes and the food they are consuming. Try to jazz things up again with fun games, asking everyone about the events of their day, using fancy tableware, or even turning mealtimes into buffet/picnic/mezze style occasions. Why not incorporate themed dinners once a week or incorporate food tasting sessions with your kids? These are just some of the ways you can make the most of mealtimes and encourage your kids to love trying new foods. It’s also a great way to have some quality family time too!




Pandemic Sparks Call for End to Big Ag’s Control of Seeds and Food System

By Kenny Stancil | Common Dreams

A growing number of people around the world are calling for the public ownership of seeds, which they say is essential for a more democratic and ecologically sound food system, as the coronavirus-driven spike in empty supermarket shelves and the continued loss of biodiversity this year sparked a rise in the popularity of saving and swapping seeds and shed more light on the negative consequences of allowing a handful of agrochemical corporations to dominate the global seed trade.

“Four companies have gained oligopolistic control over more than two-thirds of commercial seed and pesticide sales while decimating the innovative contribution of public sector researchers and threatening the 12,000-year-old right of peasants to breed, save, and exchange their seeds.”
—Pat Mooney, ETC Group

In the United Kingdom, the seed saving movement had been “quietly growing” for a while, but “from March onwards, when the pandemic hit the U.K., seed producers and seed banks across the country were overwhelmed with demand,” with multiple organizations experiencing a “sharp surge in orders, 600% in some cases,” Alexandra Genova reported Monday in The Guardian.

“People crave connection,” David Price, managing director of the Seed Cooperative, told The Guardian. “They want a connection with other people and connect with the planet, and growing and saving seed is a way of getting both.”

Genova noted that while “many British consumers feel disconnected from the processes of food production… seed saving allows everyone to be involved in the food system.” Moreover, advocates say seed saving can contribute to reversing the dramatic decline in the availability of plant varieties that are “richly diverse, well adapted to the soil and local climate, and more resilient to climate change.”

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has estimated that since the beginning of the 20th century, roughly 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops and 93% of unique seed varieties have disappeared. This biodiversity loss has been attributed to industrialized agriculture and what Genova called “the big boom in agrochemicals.”

As the FAO has explained, the increasingly commercialized nature of plant breeding has permitted transnational seed and agrochemical corporations—which enjoy so-called plant breeders’ rights that give “patent-like protection to breeders with limited monopoly rights over the production, marketing, and sale of their varieties”—to privatize access to genetic resources taken from countries in the global south.

Scholar-activist Pat Mooney of the ETC Group coined the term “biopiracy” to describe how genetic material originally nurtured by impoverished farmers is turned into patented seeds that now generate huge profits primarily for BASF, Bayer/Monsanto, ChemChina-Syngenta, and Corteva Agriscience.

In a 2018 report (pdf) on industrial food chain concentration, Mooney explained that these “four companies have gained oligopolistic control over more than two-thirds of commercial seed and pesticide sales while decimating the innovative contribution of public sector researchers and threatening the 12,000-year-old right of peasants to breed, save, and exchange their seeds.”

“I want all local communities or regions to have their own seed bank so everyone knows exactly where to get a free seed.”
—Helene Schulze, Seed Sovereignty Program of the U.K. and Ireland

The blossoming of what researchers Karine Peschard and Shalini Randeria call “seed activism” is “largely in response to the intensification of corporate seed enclosures and to the loss of agrobiodiversity,” Genova reported. “Many seed savers are motivated by this idea of dismantling the increasing privatization of seeds… by drawing attention to the negative impact of such high levels of concentration.” She continued:

Less than 50 years ago, most of the world enjoyed food that came from entirely open-pollinated seed varieties, which could be saved for future crops. Much of the seed sold now by the large companies are, in contrast, GM or F1 hybrid seeds. These cannot be saved for use in following years because they are genetically unstable and are protected by seed and patent laws, meaning most farmers are tied to chains of dependency.

According to Helene Schulze, who works on the Seed Sovereignty Program of the U.K. and Ireland and co-directs the London Freedom Seedbank, “Covid made people really understand how our food system is dominated by a few large corporations, and this has put a focus on seed sovereignty,” which Genova defined as “a grower’s right to breed and exchange diverse, open-source seeds, which can be saved and are not patented, genetically modified, or owned by one of the four agrochemical companies that control more than 60% of the global seed trade.”

Campaigners at Open Source Seeds, the Campaign for Seed Sovereignty, and elsewhere are pushing for seeds to be brought back into public ownership, arguing that “something as universal as food crops should belong to everyone, not a small group of agrochemical companies.”

“If you own the seeds you own the food system,” Schulze told The Guardian. “Access to open-pollinated seeds is the cornerstone of food citizenship because it creates non-market access to growing.”

“I want all local communities or regions to have their own seed bank,” she added, “so everyone knows exactly where to get the free seed.”

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