From Mercola.com By Dr Mercola
Over 80 percent of the people on the Internet search for health information, but the field is loaded with misinformation, deception, and outright fraud.
When I started this Web site in 1997 it was with the intention to provide you and your family with a treasure trove of knowledge and health wisdom that will allow you to identify inexpensive safe and natural alternatives to dangerous drugs.
Origins of “Doctors are the Third Leading Cause of Death”
In July, 2000 I analyzed a JAMA article by Dr. Barbara Starfield from Johns Hopkins School of public health. I carefully reviewed her data and drew the conclusion that doctors were the third leading cause of death. I created that headline, and over the last ten years it has been widely distributed all over the Internet.
When I contacted Dr. Starfield for a follow-up, she told me that she did not agree with my conclusion, but still felt that the conventional medical system was the leading cause of death. Well, four years later, Gary Null published a report which indeed confirmed that fact.
So, with time I realized that one of my primary purposes in life is to catalyze a transformation of this fatally flawed medical system that has been corrupted by multinational corporate drug and food industry interests which put their bottom line profits far ahead of improving the human condition.
The purpose of this site is to provide a comprehensive educational effort to expose the fraud, deception and misinformation that is prematurely killing hundreds of thousands of people every year in the US alone, and also causing needless pain and suffering in millions of others.
It might be obvious to most that I am bucking this corporate system, and they are not going to go down without a fight. They are constantly seeking to discredit me so the message won’t be heard.
Truth is Violently Opposed Before it is Accepted as Self Evident
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a German philosopher known for his philosophical clarity. I believe he made one of the most valuable observations on the shifting of human views when he stated that all truth goes through three stages:
- First, it is ridiculed.
- Second, it is violently opposed.
- Finally, it is accepted as self-evident
This is not only true for health but all areas of life. However since my entire formal professional training is in health, I would like to share with you a dozen experiences from my professional career that validates Shopenhauer’s observation, and why I will not quit despite the efforts of my critics and detractors.
I already covered the first three in this previous article.
The next three of the 12 truths I will cover in this four-part series have reached the final stage and are now widely accepted by the medical profession, although some of my recommendations still include refinements that have yet to be embraced by conventional medicine.
The remainder is in varying degrees of acceptance, and some will not be widely accepted for quite some time, but the evidence is clear for all those who are willing to objectively review the data.
Truth # 4: Omega-3 Fats are Essential for Optimal Health and Brain Function
It is widely accepted that omega-3 fats are useful for health. Even the FDA allows claims for omega-3 for heart disease. This is one of the only food health claims that the FDA allows.
Unfortunately, a majority of people are sorely deficient in this essential nutrient, and making matters worse, our modern diet is loaded with omega-6 fats, which can cause health problems when consumed in excess.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Today, though, our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1! When the ratios between the two fats are this skewed, poor health is virtually guaranteed.
Researchers have agreed that including more omega-3 than omega-6 in your diet may help protect your tissues and organs from inflammation, one of the underlying causes of countless chronic diseases and aging.
Why You Don’t Want to Be Deficient in Omega-3’s
Fortunately the vast majority of the public already understands and appreciate the importance of omega-3 fats. Even the conservative FDA allows claims for the reduction of heart disease for omega 3 fats because of the overwhelming scientific evidence.
Omega-3 deficiency can cause or contribute to serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. Compare that to the estimated 40,000 women who die from breast cancer each year in the U.S. and the implications of omega-3 deficiency becomes quite clear.
In fact, omega-3 deficiency has recently been revealed as the sixth biggest killer of Americans, so this is yet another recommendation that could prove to be life-saving.
But there is still plenty of confusion about omega-3 fats as many “experts” fail to appreciate the importance of animal based omega-3 fats. They advocate primarily plant based omega-3 fats that have ALA. While plant based omega-3 fats are necessary and highly beneficial and should also be consumed, the evidence is very clear that they are not an acceptable substitute for animal based omeg-3 fats.
This is primarily related to the fact that your body does not easily convert the ALA in plant based fats to the longer fats of EPA and DHA. If you have diabetes, are overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your body has even more difficulty converting these fats.
Animal based omega-3 fats contain two fatty acids crucial to your health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids, not ALA, are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. It is also important to realize that over 50 percent of your brain is is made up of DHA Low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
In fact, the results of three studies published in 2008 showed that low concentrations of EPA and DHA resulted in an increased risk of death from ALL causes and accelerated cognitive decline.
Researchers are now also linking inadequate intake of these omega-3 fats in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, and to hyperactivity in children.
I first started emphasizing the importance of this healthy fat in 2000 Unfortunately, many are still not getting enough omega-3 in their diet — a problem that’s easily remedied by supplementing with a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats.
The practical question becomes how you are going to obtain your high quality omega-3 fats. Ideally we would all receive them from sea food. Unfortunately due to industrial pollution most of the sea food is now contaminated with heavy metals like mercury and industrial toxins like PCBs, PDEs and dioxins.
Because of this, most have decided to take a fish oil supplement. This is what I had recommended ten years ago but new evidence suggests that there may be even better sources of animal based omega-3 fats.
My current favorite is krill oil. Krill are very tiny shrimp like creatures that are actually the largest biomass in the world, far exceeding the amount of fish in the world. Their harvest is carefully regulated so that they are not at risk of being harmed for centuries under current harvesting guidelines. They are clearly the most sustainable source of animal based omega-3 fats in the world today.
Their harvest is carefully regulated by major environmental organizations like the World Wildlife Foundation and CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources).
Additionally because the krill fat is attached to phosphates they are far more readily absorbed than fish oil and therefore you need FAR less. A typical dose is only 1 gram per day not the 3-5 grams that are used in fish oil. Their better absorption also virtually eliminates any problem with burping or belching.
Lastly, they have very powerful antioxidants, called astaxanthin that help protect the highly perishable DHA and EPA fats and help protect and preserve them until you are able to swallow them.
About the only problem with krill is that they should not be taken if you have an allergy to shellfish.
An emerging modification of the omega-3 recommendation is the importance of HIGH QUALITY omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats have been vilified for their negative influence on health. But there’s an increasing appreciation that this may not be entirely accurate.
Because most of the omega-6 fats found in modern, processed foods are damaged through heating and processing. Consuming large amounts of these damaged omega-6 fats is likely what magnifies the health problems related to omega-3 deficiency.
It is clear to me that the future of medicine will eventually become more precise in this area and recommend avoiding or eliminating damaged omega-6 fats, especially trans fats, and replacing them with high quality, unprocessed or minimally processed, omega 6 fats.
Truth # 5: Vitamin D and Sun Exposure Saves Lives
Public health officials, the media and most physicians have been telling you for years that the sun is dangerous and should be avoided. And to complicate matters they encourage you to slather yourself with sunscreen every time you go outside.
It is shocking that this highly counterintuitive recommendation could have been so widely accepted, as nearly everyone realizes that you feel better when it is sunny outside. You NEED sun to stay healthy.
As a result of a relentless marketing campaign linking sun exposure to skin cancer, vitamin D deficiency is now the norm rather than the exception.
In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is considered a very serious deficiency state. It’s thought that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens, and even higher percentages of deeply pigmented African Americans or other deeply pigmented individuals may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the American public!
The Role of Vitamin D in Your Body
There are only 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence over 2,000 of them. That is one of the primary reasons it influences so many diseases, from cancer and autism to heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
The misguided advice to avoid the sun like the plague may very well be responsible for over 600,000 preventable cases of cancer each year, and the loss of as many as one million lives worldwide from other preventable diseases!
These are extraordinary statistics, and the remedy is so shockingly simple, and inexpensive …
By getting more appropriate sun exposure, your body will naturally produce vitamin D, which has been found to be a major key that can help prevent a vast number of major diseases and minor ailments alike.
For example, studies have shown you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.
Vitamin D even fights colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses. In fact, it is very rare for someone with optimized vitamin D levels to come down with the flu.
I have been extolling the virtues of safe sun exposure and optimizing your vitamin D levels for over a decade now. Hopefully you have been paying attention and are now reaping the benefits.
The best way to obtain your vitamin D is by regularly safely exposing large surface areas of your skin to the sun or a safe tanning bed. Notice I said large surface areas of your skin. Simply walking outside to your car completely clothed will simply not cut it.
Also, if your schedule or geography prevents this type of exposure then you will want to take oral vitamin D. It is not nearly as good as sun exposure but will help you benefit from vitamin D. The typical adult dose is 5,000-6,000 units per day. Avoid taking 1,000-2,000 units and thinking you are doing ok. In all likelihood, you’re NOT.
Two thousand units a day is simply NOT enough vitamin D for nearly any adult unless they are receiving UV exposure from the sun or a safe tanning bed.
I’ve also recently released updated dosing recommendations. Based on the most recent research, the current recommendation is 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight. So for a child weighing 40 pounds, the recommended average dose would be 1,400 IU’s daily, and for a 170-pound adult, the dose would be nearly 6,000 IU’s.
The KEY to remember with all dosing recommendations however is that they are only to be used as suggestions. The only way to tell if you are taking the correct dose is to measure your vitamin D blood level, 25 hydroxy D.. You do not need to do the more expensive 1,25 dihydroxy D, and it is important to have the test done at Lab Corp, not Quest, if you’re in the US, or you will get results that are based on entirely different standards and very difficult to use.
Learn More about Vitamin D
If you’re still unsure about how to go about optimizing your vitamin D, I recommend you begin by watching my free one-hour lecture, which covers the basics.
Just imagine, following the seriously flawed health advice to avoid sun exposure at all cost may have claimed literally several million lives over the past decade. During that time, those who opposed this dogma were viewed as dangerous quacks, and now there are well over 800 scientific references proving beyond a doubt that getting proper sun exposure is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity.
Truth # 6: Cholesterol is Not the Villain You’ve Been Told it is
In the United States and many other countries, the demonization of cholesterol is very much engrained in most people’s minds. But this is a harmful myth that I have been trying to set the record straight on for more than a decade.
First of all, it’s important to realize that there’s a major difference between average and healthy cholesterol levels. It’s very similar to what we’re now seeing with vitamin D levels.
Today, with respect to cholesterol, ever lower levels of cholesterol levels are being recommended, primarily due to the significant influence of the drug industry. Cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) now generate profits to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year.
Before 2004, a 130 LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk.
In order to achieve these outrageous and dangerously low targets, you typically need to take multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs. So the guidelines instantly increased the market for these dangerous drugs.
Please understand that you have not been told the whole truth about cholesterol. Rather what you’re getting from most conventional health practitioners is little more than cleverly distorted marketing scams.
Lower is NOT always better when it comes to cholesterol. And, if your levels are too low, it could actually pose a serious health risk in and of itself.
What is Cholesterol, and Why Do You Need it?
Your body needs cholesterol. This soft, waxy substance is an integral part of your cell membranes, and it’s also the precursor (the raw material) your body uses to make your steroid hormones — one of which is vitamin D. Your skin contains cholesterol, and when UVB rays from the sun hits your skin it converts that form of cholesterol to vitamin D3, which is then transported to your blood. Your body then further converts it into the active form of vitamin D.
It also helps produce bile acids that help you to digest fat, and it’s involved in the formation of memories and is vital for your neurological function.
If you have increased levels of cholesterol, it is at least in part because of increased inflammation in your body. The cholesterol is there to help your body heal and repair.
The Risks of Low Cholesterol
Low cholesterol has its own set of health risks. It’s been linked to a variety of neurological problems, including memory loss, but it also:
What is Too High?
Personally, I believe anything above 330 is likely too high. But another powerful way to determine if you’re at risk from abnormal cholesterol metabolism is to check your ratio of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and your total cholesterol.
Your HDL percentage is a potent heart disease risk factor.
Simply divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 25 percent. Typically, the higher the better, as there are no known side effects of having too high good cholesterol.
If your ratio falls below 15-20 percent you are at high risk, and below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.
Other Heart Disease Predictors that May Be Even More Important than Your Cholesterol Levels
In addition, another predictor of heart disease is your triglyceride to HDL ratio. In combination, high triglycerides and low HDL levels are an even bigger risk and are even more important to your heart health than the standard good vs. bad cholesterol ratio.
Simply divide your triglycerides level with your HDL to get this ratio. That percentage should be below 2.
One study found that people with the highest ratio of triglycerides to HDL had 16 times the risk of heart attack as those with the lowest ratio of triglycerides to HDL. So while you strive to keep your HDL cholesterol levels up, you’ll want to decrease your triglycerides.
You can increase your HDL levels by exercising and getting plenty of omega-3 fats like those from krill oil. Triglycerides are easily decreased by exercising and avoiding grains and sugars in your diet.
A third heart disease predictor is your fasting uric acid levels. This too is another far more potent predictor than your total cholesterol levels. You’ll want your fasting uric acid levels to be between 3 and 5.
As I have been warning since around 2004, conventional medicine misses the boat entirely when they recommend that lowering cholesterol is the way to reduce your risk of heart attacks, because what is actually needed is to address whatever is causing your body damage — and leading to increased inflammation and then increased cholesterol.
What’s the Safest, Most Effective Way to Treat High Cholesterol?
I’ve written many articles warning you about the dangers of using statin drugs to treat high cholesterol, and equally many advising you on the proper ways to normalize your levels.
There are simple, basic strategies that can help you regulate your cholesterol.
First, you need to understand that simply lowering your dietary cholesterol intake is not an effective primary strategy. This is because 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels.
Therefore, if you want to regulate your cholesterol levels, you need to optimize your insulin levels. High insulin levels also increase inflammation in your body, which is a primary reason why your body increases its cholesterol production. So the two – insulin and cholesterol — are tightly linked.
One of the most powerful ways you can optimize your insulin levels is by exercising, and paying attention to the foods you eat. Remember, foods that increase your insulin levels will also contribute to high cholesterol by making your liver produce more of it.
Here are my primary recommendations for safely lowering and regulating your cholesterol levels:
- Get an appropriate amount of exercise.
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your daily diet, especially fructose. It is VITAL to keep your total fructose level below 25 grams a day.
- Eat the right foods for your nutritional type.
- Eat a good portion of your food raw.
- Make sure you’re getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega3-fats. I prefer those from krill oil.
I’ve treated between 20,000-30,000 patients, and I’ve only found about five people who were unable to respond to the recommendations I’ve given here. In these cases they likely had a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia.
It is extremely rare, affecting about one in 1,000 people who are on cholesterol lowering medication, but for those there may actually be some benefit to taking a statin drug.
Some have asked me about taking red rice yeast to control their cholesterol, and there is some confusion on that issue. Please understand that red rice extract is also a statin drug, with the same exact mechanism of action as other statins, even though it’s available over the counter.
The issue of cholesterol (and cholesterol-lowering drugs) is so fraught with misunderstanding and misinformation, I wrote a 17-page special report to shed some more light on the facts. It’s available for free at this link, and if you have not yet read it, I strongly urge you to do so now.