Month: November 2015

Researchers Discover Gut-Heart Connection in Coronary Artery Disease

Dr. Bo Shen: Treatments may one day be revolutionized


A newly discovered link between coronary artery disease and the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine presented by Cleveland Clinic researchers at Digestive Disease Week 2015 today means that there may soon come a day when the standard of care will be for gastroenterologists and cardiologists to exchange patients for additional evaluations.

After treating a patient’s primary illness, a gastroenterologist would send a patient with bloating or abdominal discomfort to a cardiologist to be checked for coronary artery disease (CAD). And, likewise, cardiologists would send patients with CAD for an additional evaluation with a gastroenterologist.

Although previous studies have shown a connection to the type of flora in the gut and inflammation in the coronary arteries, Cleveland Clinic researchers believe is the first study to look at the relationship between small intestine bacteria overgrowth, known as SIBO, and CAD.

And, that may directly impact treatment for some patients down the road.

“What our research adds is that patients with SIBO may be considered high risk for CAD and may need to have other CAD risk factors, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia or diabetes, more aggressively controlled to decrease their chances of worsening coronary artery disease, leading to serious event like a heart attack,” says Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Bo Shen, MD, who specializes in inflammatory bowel disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women – with about 11.3 percent of the population suffering from CAD. The estimated rate of SIBO ranges up to about 20 percent in the healthy population, but skyrockets in patients with gastrointestinal disorders. For example, patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have about a 78 percent rate of SIBO.

Study Design

Multiple researchers have gained interest in the intestinal microbiome as a modulator of inflammation throughout the body. But there has not been any previous research evaluating the association of SIBO and CAD, says Dr. Shen.

Cleveland Clinic researchers believed that cause of the link may be due to the metabolic process in digestion that produces bacterial byproducts, predisposing a patient to CAD. For example, the metabolism of dietary choline produces trimethylamine, (TMA) which converts to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in the liver. TMAO may cause artherosclerosis, leading to CAD.

To study this, researchers tested 923 patients between 2006 and 2014. Of those, they included 148 who underwent both a left heart catheterization and glucose hydrogen/methane breath test – the standard for detecting SIBO.

The rates of metabolic syndrome were also evaluated in the patients studied. Metabolic syndrome was defined as at least three of five criteria for metabolic syndrome: obesity/BMI > 30; triglycerides > 150 mg/dL; HDL cholesterol < 40 mg/dL (men) or 50 mg/dL (women); blood pressure > 130/85 mmHg; and fasting glucose >110 mg/dL.

Researchers then compared the 81 (54.7%) of SIBO-positive patients with 67 (45.3%) SIBO-negative, or control group patients.

Patients with SIBO had an overwhelmingly higher frequency of arteries affected by CAD: 80.2 percent vs. 38.8 percent. In addition, SIBO-positive patients had more coronary arteries affected than non-SIBO patients: one-vessel disease, 67.2 percent.vs. 32.8 percent; two-vessel disease, 83.3 percent vs. 16.7 percent; and three-vessel disease, 80 percent vs. 20 percent.

A Bidirectional Relationship Between the Gut and the Heart?

What the study did not clearly distinguish is whether SIBO causes CAD or CAD causes SIBO.

“We actually don’t know the order of the causal relationship, and that’s what makes the research even more interesting,” explains Dr. Shen. “We postulate that there is a poorly understood gut-heart axis in which there is a bidirectional relationship: SIBO, through the increased production of bacterial byproducts, may predispose a patient to CAD. On the other hand, CAD and atherosclerosis may be related to proinflammatory cytokines that lead to changes in the gut microbiota equilibrium.”

Through a multivariable logistic regression analysis, SIBO remained the independent risk factor in the group that linked with CAD. However, other research has shown a possible relationship between the intestinal microbiome and obesity, and many of the patients in the study were obese. But, what, if any, is the connection?

“It is thought that gut bacteria may induce obesity,” Dr. Shen says. “SIBO has been shown to be more common in morbidly obese patients, and we don’t know if it is a cause or a consequence.”

Future Research

In addition to obesity, SIBO has been linked to diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Dr. Shen says further research is needed to understand the role SIBO plays in these metabolic disorders.

But the first step, Dr. Shen says, is to confirm that SIBO is a risk factor for CAD, or vice-versa.

“In addition, it is important to elucidate if treating SIBO improves cardiovascular outcomes in these patients,” says Dr. Shen.

If that proves true, research will need to find the best treatment. Antibiotics are the current standard treatment for SIBO. However, antibiotics can kill off even “good” intestinal flora, so Dr. Shen says there may be a need for probiotics to stabilize gut flora and decrease inflammation, or prebiotics that can encourage the growth of certain bacteria.

While further research is needed, the connection between the gut and the heart and the body’s inflammatory process could lead to new treatment protocols for patients, says Dr. Shen.

For more information, contact Dr. Shen at



Statin Nation II: What Really Causes Heart Disease?

November 21, 2015

By Dr. Mercola

“Statin Nation II: What Really Causes Heart Disease?” is the sequel to the documentary “Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-up.” However, it stands well on its own, even if you didn’t see the original film.

For many decades, the idea that saturated fats caused heart disease reigned supreme, and diets shifted sharply away from saturated animal fats such as butter and lard, toward partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine.

However, as people abandoned saturated fats and replaced them with trans fats, rates of heart disease continued on a steady upward climb. And, the more aggressive the recommendations for low-fat diets, the worse this trend became.

Last year, butter consumption in the US reached a 40-year peak, and the resurgence of butter has been attributed to a shift in consumer preferences away from processed foods and back toward natural foods.

This is a positive trend, showing that the old myth claiming that saturated fat is bad for you is finally starting to crumble. People are also starting to recognize that refined sugar is far worse for your heart than dietary fat was, and processed low-fat foods are typically loaded with sugar.

The French Paradox

According to the film, the long held view that saturated fats and cholesterol caused heart disease came under closer scrutiny in the 1990s, when researchers like Kurt Ellison with the Boston University started taking notice of what became known as the French Paradox.

The French eat a lot more fat than many other nations, yet they don’t have higher rates of heart disease.

For example, in the UK people on average eat 13.5 percent of their total calories as saturated fat, whereas the French eat 15.5 percent saturated fat, yet their rate of heart disease deaths is about one-third of that in the UK — just 22 heart disease deaths per 100,000 compared to 63 per 100,000 in the UK.

Icelanders also consume higher amounts of saturated fat — on average 14.6 percent, but their rate of heart disease deaths is also lower than the UK, just 34 per 100,000.

The film reviews a number of statistics from other countries, including Denmark, Lithuania, and Portugal, which defy the idea that saturated fat consumption is associated with heart disease. The data simply doesn’t bear this out.

Here’s another startling example. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your saturated fat consumption below seven percent of your total calories, ideally around 5 or 6 percent.

Lithuania is very close to being on target, with a saturated fat consumption rate of 7.7 percent of total calories, yet Lithuania has one of the highest heart disease mortality rates in the world — 122 per 100,000.

Cholesterol Is Not a Major Factor in Heart Disease

Like saturated fat, cholesterol has also been wrongly demonized despite the fact that 60 years’ worth of research has utterly failed to demonstrate any correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease.

Despite this, many, even most health professionals still cling to the idea that cholesterol raises your risk for heart disease, and that strategies that lower cholesterol also lower your heart disease risk.

Fortunately, limitations for cholesterol will likely be removed from the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which would be a welcomed change.

Cholesterol is actually one of the most important molecules in your body; indispensable for the building of cells and for producing stress and sex hormones, as well as vitamin D.

It’s also important for brain health, and helps with the formation of your memories. Low levels of HDL cholesterol have been linked to memory loss andAlzheimer’s disease, and may also increase your risk of depression, stroke, violent behavior, and suicide.

What You Need to Understand About HDL and LDL Cholesterol

While cholesterol is typically divided into HDL/”good” and LDL/”bad” cholesterol,” there’s really only one kind of cholesterol. The division into HDL and LDL is based on how the cholesterol combines with protein particles.

LDL and HDL are lipoproteins, meaning fats combined with proteins. Cholesterol is fat-soluble, and blood is mostly water, so for it to be transported in your blood, cholesterol needs to be carried by a lipoprotein, which is classified by density.

Large LDL particles are not harmful. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries. If they oxidize, they can cause damage and inflammation.

Thus, it would be more accurate to say that there are “good” and “bad” lipoproteins (opposed to good and bad cholesterol). Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a board certified cardiologist, and Chris Kresser, L.Ac., an integrative medicine clinician, have both addressed this issue in previous interviews.

Some groups, such as the National Lipid Association, are now starting to shift the focus toward LDL particle number instead of total and LDL cholesterol, in order to better assess your heart disease risk. But this approach has not yet spread into the mainstream.

Statins Are Prescribed Based on an Incorrect Hypothesis

Since the cholesterol hypothesis is false, this also means that the recommended therapies — low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, and cholesterol lowering medications — are doing more harm than good. Statin treatment, for example, is largely harmful, costly, and has transformed millions of people into patients whose health is being adversely impacted by the drug. As previously noted by Dr. Frank Lipman:1

“[T]he medical profession is obsessed with lowering your cholesterol because of misguided theories about cholesterol and heart disease. Why would we want to lower it when the research2 actually shows that three-quarters of people having a first heart attack, have normal cholesterol levels, and when data over 30 years from the well-known Framingham Heart Study3 showed that in most age groups, high cholesterol wasn’t associated with more deaths?

In fact, for older people, deaths were more common with low cholesterol. The research is clear – statins are being prescribed based on an incorrect hypothesis, and they are not harmless.”

Statins Can Wreck Your Health in a Number of Ways

The film points out that research shows statins promote calcification of your arteries, and even though arterial calcificationincreases heart disease, these studies seem to be largely ignored by mainstream health professionals. Sherif Sultan, a professor of Vascular and Endovascular surgery who is featured in the film, notes that many people have in fact improved their health by getting off statins.

That certainly doesn’t surprise me, considering the fact that studies have discovered a wide variety of problems associated with statin use, and virtually all of these problems are being downplayed or ignored altogether by conventional medicine.

Odds are actually very high — greater than 100 to one — that if you’re currently taking a statin, you probably don’t need it. Based on my own review of the evidence, the ONLY subgroup that might benefit from statins are those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia. Dr. Sinatra believes males with obstructions in their left anterior descending coronary artery might also benefit. For all others, statins are more likely to do you harm than good.

For example, research shows that statins:

Deplete your body of CoQ10 Statins deplete your body of CoQ10, which accounts for many of their devastating results. Although it was proposed to add a black box warning to statins stating this, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided against it in 2014. If you take a statin, you MUST take supplemental CoQ10, or better, the reduced form called ubiquinol.
Increase insulin resistance Insulin resistance promotes chronic inflammation in your body, and inflammation is the hallmark of most diseases. In fact, increased insulin resistance can lead to heart disease, which, ironically, is the primary reason for taking a cholesterol-reducing drug in the first place. It can also promote belly fat, high blood pressure, heart attacks, chronic fatigue, thyroid disruption, and diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Increase diabetes risk By raising your blood sugar, statins also increase your diabetes risk. When you eat a meal that contains starches and sugar, some of the excess sugar goes to your liver, which then stores it away as cholesterol and triglycerides. Statins work by preventing your liver from making cholesterol. As a result, your liver returns the sugar to your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels.

Drug-induced diabetes and genuine type 2 diabetes are not necessarily identical. If you’re on a statin drug and find that your blood glucose is elevated, it’s possible that what you have is just hyperglycemia — a side effect, and the result of your medication.

Unfortunately, many doctors will at that point mistakenly diagnose you with “type 2 diabetes,” and possibly prescribe another drug, when all you may need to do is simply discontinue the statin in order for your blood glucose levels to revert back to normal.

Inhibit synthesis of vitamin K2 By inhibiting the synthesis and function of vitamin K2 in your body, statins can raise your risk for atherosclerosis, heart failure, stroke, and other health problems. If you take a statin, a vitamin K2supplement (MK7) is highly recommended.
Reduces squalene Squalene reduction caused by the statin can also raise your risk of immune system dysfunction.
Interfere with the mevalonate pathway The mevalonate pathway is the central pathway for the steroid management in your body.
Damage mitochondria Statins are toxic to the energy centers of your cells, called mitochondria. They impair heart muscle mitochondria function, disrupt ATP production (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), and alter intracellular signaling proteins.
Interfere with selenium-containing proteins Selenoproteins, such as glutathione peroxidase, are crucial for preventing oxidative damage in your muscle tissue. Blocking glutathione peroxidase unleashes free radicals and inflammation, which can damage muscle tissue, including your heart muscle.

What REALLY Causes Heart Disease?

Statins really have nothing to do with reducing your heart disease risk. In fact, this class of drugs can actually increase your risk for heart problems — especially if you do not take ubiquinol (CoQ10) along with it to mitigate the depletion of CoQ10 caused by the drug. Taking extra vitamin K2 is also advisable.

Statins decrease CoQ10 for the identical reason they lower cholesterol, they impair the pathway your liver uses to make both of them. I believe this is probably its greatest toxicity as CoQ10 is absolutely essential for mitochondrial health. My new passion is understanding this at a fine molecular level as I’m convinced it is the core for the treatment and prevention of most cancers and the slowing down of the aging process. So if you are concerned about these issues, then I couldn’t warn you more strongly to avoid statins.

Knowing that saturated fat and cholesterol have nothing to do with heart disease finally frees you to take a serious look at what does cause this potentially lethal condition. While the film focuses on how things such as cortisol, stress, and telomeres can influence heart disease, for most people heart disease is a result of poor lifestyle choices; some of the most important of which include the following. All of these things are well within your control, and don’t cost much (if any) money to address.

A diet too high in sugar, trans fat, and oxidized cholesterol, and too low in healthy fats Added sugars, and processed fructose in particular, are a primary driver of metabolic dysfunction and heart disease. One recent 15-year long study, which included data for 31,000 Americans, found that those who consumed 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who got less than 10 percent of their calories from sugar.

On the whole, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of added sugar in the diet regardless of the age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.

Trans fat may promote heart disease to an even greater degree than sugar. Structurally, trans fats are synthetic fatty acids produced during the hydrogenation process. (They are not present in either animal or vegetable fats.) Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin, which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death.

Also, while dietary cholesterol is fine, oxidized cholesterol is not. Oxidized cholesterol forms when polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as soybean, corn, and sunflower oils) are heated. This oxidizedcholesterol causes increased thromboxane formation — a factor that clots your blood.

So, if you want to protect your heart, avoid all hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils, and replace them with healthy saturated fats such as coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, animal fats like lard, and raw nuts.

Lack of exercise Exercise protects against heart disease primarily by normalizing your insulin and leptin levels, and it is indeed potent medicine. A 2013 meta-review, which included 305 randomized controlled trials and nearly 339,300 people, found “no statistically detectable differences” between exercise and medications for heart disease, including statins.
Lack of sun exposure Vitamin D is very important for reducing hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In one study, vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of heart attack by 50 percent. What’s worse, if you have a heart attack and you’re vitamin D deficient, your risk of dying from that heart attack creeps up to nearly 100 percent. Ideally, you want to maintain a vitamin D level of 50 to 70 ng/ml year-round, or 70 to 100 ng/ml if you’re trying to treat heart disease.
Lack of grounding to the earth Grounding effectively alleviates inflammation because it thins your blood and infuses you with negatively charged ions through the soles of your feet. It also helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential, which means it improves the energy between your red blood cells.

Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood. Since heart disease is primarily caused by inflammation, regularly grounding yourself to the earth is a simple way to combat inflammation without spending a penny.

Identifying Risk Factors for Heart Disease

If you want to understand what causes heart disease, you have to look at what causes damage to your artery walls, interferes in disease processes, and causes blood clotting. When the endothelial wall is damaged, repair mechanisms are set into motion, creating a “scab.” To prevent this scab from dislodging, the endothelial wall grows over it, causing the area to become thickened. This is what is called atherosclerosis.

There’s no fat (cholesterol) “clogging the pipe” at all; rather the arterial wall is thickened as a result of your body’s natural repair process. So what causes damage to your arteries?

One of the primary culprits is sugar and fructose in particular. So eating a high sugar diet is a sure-fire way to put heart disease on your list of potential health problems. Meanwhile, total cholesterol will tell you virtually nothing about your disease risk, unless it’s exceptionally elevated (above 330 or so, which would be suggestive of familial hypercholesterolemia, which, in my view, would be about the only time a cholesterol-reducing drug would be appropriate).

Two ratios that are far better indicators of heart disease risk are:

  • Your HDL/total cholesterol ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. This percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.
  • Your triglyceride/HDL ratios: This ratio should ideally be below 2.

Additional risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Your fasting insulin level: Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar. The insulin released from eating too many carbs promotes fat and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight, and excess fat, particularly around your belly, is one of the major contributors to heart disease.
  • Your fasting blood sugar level: Studies have shown that people with a fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dl had a nearly 300 percent increase higher risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl. I personally believe your fasting blood sugar should be below 80 and is something that you should regularly monitor. You don’t need a doctor’s order for it as you can easily purchase blood (finger prick) tests on Amazon. I personally check mine and my blood ketone levels on a regular basis.
  • Your iron level: Iron can be a very potent driver of oxidative stress, so if you have excess iron levels you can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should monitor your ferritin levels and make sure they are not much above 80 ng/ml. The simplest way to lower them if they are elevated is to donate your blood. If that is not possible you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy and that will effectively eliminate the excess iron from your body

[+] Sources and References

4 Essential Oils Proven to be as Effective as Drugs for Anxiety

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook

If you suffer from anxiety disorder or occasionally experience panic attacks, you might want to consider 4 natural remedies that have been found to be effective in treating these conditions, without the side effects of anti-anxiety drugs. Here are 4 essential oils that are proven anti-anxiety remedies:

Bergamot Essential Oil—In a study published in the medical journal, Phytotherapy Research, scientists found that inhaling the essential oil of bergamot had a pronounced anti-anxiety effect in rats. According to their research, bergamot seemed to work by reducing the body’s stress hormone production. Excessively high levels of stress hormones are contributing factors in anxiety. Additionally, bergamot was found to increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

Lavender Essential Oil—In a study published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers found that when animals breathed the scent of lavender essential oil, they had significantly less anxiety. The reduction was comparable to the effects of the drug diazepam. Both males and females experienced a reduction in anxiety when exposed to lavender essential oils, but the effect was more pronounced in females. There are no known negative side effects of smelling lavender essential oil on a regular basis. Compare that to diazepam which has a lengthy list of side effects including: blurred vision, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, mood problems, memory loss, hallucinations, slurred speech, trouble walking, trouble urinating, disinterest in sex, tremors and sleep disturbances.

Rose Essential Oil—In another study published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry, & Behavior, researchers assessed the effects of the essential oil rose in contrast to the drug diazepam and, as with the other essential oils, found it to have a similar effectiveness. That’s good news for anxiety sufferers interested in alternatives to the drug options.

Vetiver Essential Oil—In a study published in the journal Natural Product Research, scientists explored the anti-anxiety effects of vetiver essential oil compared to the drug diazepam and found the results were comparable. Vetiver demonstrated equivalent anti-anxiety effects to the drug.

Essential oils tend to be absorbed quickly into the body via the nasal membranes, thereby affecting brain responses to anxiety or other conditions. Choose the highest quality essential oils. Avoid any that have been diluted with other oils (a common practice among many suppliers, particularly for rose essential oil which tends to be quite expensive). Avoid “fragrance” oils which are actually synthetically created, offer no therapeutic value and may actually be detrimental to your health.

There are different ways to obtain the anti-anxiety benefits of these essential oils, such as using the oils on a handkerchief and breathing in the scent throughout the day, or using a diffuser or nebulizer. Many diffusers involve heat which can chemically alter the oils, so it’s preferable to choose options that do not involve heating the oils. Nebulizers are devices that spray microscopic particles of essential oils into the air where they are breathed. Either type of device can be found in many health food stores.

Avoid using the essential oils internally. The anti-anxiety effects of the oils can be obtained through repeated daily exposures to the scent of the oils for at least a few minutes each. It is not necessary to use all four of the oils. Choose the one you are most drawn to, is most accessible or best fits your budget. Consult your physician before discontinuing any medication or switching to essential oils.


Read more:

The Role of Vitamin D in Digestive Disorders

Dr. Earl Mindell



Vitamin D. Or, the “sunshine” vitamin as it’s sometimes called. If you don’t know just how important it is for your health, well, you really should. Vitamin D is essential for nearly every single working part of your body – from your heart, to your other organs (including your skin). And now it looks like it might have something to do with your digestion as well!

Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Over 1.6 million Americans have some type of inflammatory bowel disease. Conditions include Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis.

Recently at the American College of Gastroenterology’s 76th Annual Scientific Meeting, two separate studies were presented. One study, conducted by a group from Massachusetts General Hospital, made a connection between geographical region, exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and frequency of inflammatory bowel disease incidents. The second study, which looked at different levels of Vitamin D supplementation and its impact on Crohn’s disease, was presented by a group from the prestigious Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Study #1

The first study pooled together data that was gathered from two very large studies of nurses enrolled in the U.S. Nurses Health Study I and II and found that the incidence of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis was affected significantly by the individual’s latitude location and there was a stark north-south gradient in the United States. While similar studies have been performed in Europe, this marks the first time such a large study was undertaken on American soil.

Analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that the average age of women with Crohn’s disease was 51, while the average woman’s age with ulcerative colitis, or UC, was 48. Using the geographic location of each woman at age 30 as an anchor, the group of investigators found that the women who lived in
the southern latitudes had a 50% lower chance of developing Crohn’s and around 35% less of a chance to develop UC, compared to the northern latitude equivalents.

Study #2

The group of researchers from Cornell sought to determine if high doses of Vitamin D3 in patients with a deficiency would affect the outcome of each individual and used a smaller pool of data for their study, which consisted of only 15 patients.

The patients, who all had Crohn’s disease and low baseline levels of Vitamin D, were separated into two completely randomized groups. One group was receiving a low dose of Vitamin D, while the other group received a dosage ten times as strong. Both groups were assessed after day one and then again after weeks eight and 26 of treatment. Using the widely accepted Harvey-Bradshaw Index, or HBI, to measure the severity of each patient’s symptoms, the group was able to accurately determine whether or not the patient had benefited from the Vitamin D supplements.

Results from the Cornell studies revealed that after 26 weeks of treatments, the patients who received the higher doses of Vitamin D showed significant improvement in disease activity, compared to the patients who did not receive the high doses. Further studies are warranted, but these tests shed light on the many easily overlooked and different vari- ables (such as Vitamin D) that affect individuals and impact their chance of developing an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or UC. Perhaps someday Vitamin D will be integral in finding a cure for these types of diseases.

Whole milk is better than Low Fat!

By Dr. Mercola

Are you still eating low-fat or no-fat dairy products? If you are, you probably think you’re doing the right thing for your health. And if you check with virtually any public health agency, they’d wholeheartedly agree.

The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and American Cancer Society, for instance, all recommend low-fat or no-fat dairy. The US Department of Agriculture, in their nutrition guidelines for Americans, also advises, Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat.”1

So what’s the problem? The advice to eat low-fat foods, including dairy, is antiquated, at least back to the 1970s, when low-fat diets were first recommended.

It’s also not scientifically supported, and if you’re choosing low-fat over full-fat, not only are you missing out on taste, flavor and satisfaction, but you’re missing out on valuable benefits to your health – benefits that come from eating full-fatfoods.

Skim Milk Was Once Considered ‘Hog Slop’

While you’ve probably become accustomed to seeing skim milk, 1 percent, 2 percent, and whole when purchasing milk, keep in mind that it wasn’t always this way. Prior to World War II, skim milk was not sold in stores, but rather thrown away or used as feed for chickens, hogs and calves.

During World War II, dried milk powder became a preferred relief food, with the government asking U.S. dairies to produce 200 million pounds of dry skim milk powder for America’s allies.

When the war ended, however, a new marketing strategy was necessary. As written in the book “Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History Since 1900” by Kendra Smith-Howard:2

The development of skim milk as an attractive product for sale only came about because dairy producers, emboldened by their success selling milk to Uncle Sam during World War II, seized on postwar marketing opportunities to sell what once had been hog slop to housewives and families.”

From Byproduct to Weight-Loss Sensation

While milk was once marketed as a wholesome food for children, the industry capitalized on growing weight-gain concerns among Americans, and began marketing it as a diet food. Smith-Howard writes:3

As prices for whole milk increased in the late 1940s, milk dealers in the fluid milk market, as well as dried milk dealers, turned to skim milk as a promising product in its own right.

Though many consumers were skeptical about the value of skim milk, dairy companies enticed them with promises that drinking skim milk would help them lose weight.

Milk dealers secured the backing of physicians. As had been the case for certified and pasteurized milk in the Progressive Era, the recommendations of physicians gave skim milk newfound legitimacy.

Although physicians had long suggested nonfat milk to patients who had difficulty digesting fats or were elderly, weight-conscious consumers became the largest sector of the skim milk market in the 1950s.

Emphasizing skim milk’s role in promoting slenderness transformed skim milk’s reputation as a low-cost relief food to one that high-income dieters would embrace.”

Meanwhile, in 1953 University of Minnesota professor Ancel Keys published a flawed and cherry-picked paper that serves as the basis for nearly all of the initial scientific support for the Cholesterol Theory (the notion that eatingsaturated fat raises your cholesterol levels and leads to heart disease).

The nutrition community of that time completely accepted the hypothesis, and encouraged the public to cut out butter, red meat, animal fats, eggs, dairy and other “artery clogging” fats from their diets, a radical change at that time that is still very much in force today.

Accumulating research is showing, however, that this switch to low-fat has not only caused rates of chronic disease to skyrocket; it’s also been making people fat.

The Case for Full-Fat Dairy

A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition looked at the relationship between the consumption of dairy fat and high-fat dairy foods, obesity, and cardiometabolic disease.4

Those who ate full-fat dairy were no more likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who ate low-fat dairy. Further, those who ate full-fat dairy were less likely to be obese.

According to the researchers:

“The observational evidence does not support the hypothesis that dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk, and suggests that high-fat dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk.”

A separate study similarly found that low intake of dairy fat (no butter and low-fat milk and seldom/never whipping cream) was associated with a higher risk of developing central obesity while a high intake of dairy fat (butter, high-fat milk and whipping cream) was associated with a lower risk of central obesity.5

Still more research showed women who ate at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day gained 30 percent less weight over a nine-year period than women who ate only low-fat (or no) dairy products.6 In addition to weight benefits, previous studies have also shown that consuming full-fat dairy may help reduce your risk of:

  • Cancer: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat found naturally in cow’s milk, significantly lowers the risk of cancer. In one study, those who ate at least four servings of high-fat dairy foods each day had a 41 percent lower risk of bowel cancer than those who ate less than one.7 Each increment of two servings of dairy products reduced a woman’s colon cancer risk by 13 percent.
  • Heart Disease: People who ate the most full-fat dairy were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, according to a 16-year study of Australian adults.8
  • Type 2 Diabetes: People who ate eight portions of full-fat dairy products a day cut their risk of diabetes by nearly 25 percent compared to those who ate fewer portions.9

Omega-3 Fats Reduce Inflammation, Offer Heart Protection

When referring to healthy fats, it’s not only those in organic, full-fat pastured raw dairy that are beneficial. Your body needs many types of fat to function properly, so you’ll want to let go of the notion that a low-fat diet is healthy. The fats you want to avoid are synthetic fats, such as trans fats, or rancid omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), such as those found in vegetable oils.

Eating too much damaged omega-6 fat and too little beneficial omega-3 sets the stage for the very health problems you seek to avoid, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, just to name a few. Most people, especially Americans, are guilty of this lopsided omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and to correct it, you typically need to do two things:

  1. Significantly decrease omega-6 by avoiding processed foods and foods cooked at high temperatures using vegetable oils
  2. Increase your intake of heart-healthy animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil

Research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego, CA, for instance, found that taking a high-dose omega-3 fat supplement (in this case 4 grams daily for six months) was highly beneficial for people who had suffered a heart attack. Those taking the omega-3 had lower levels of inflammation as well as improved cardiac structure and heart functioning compared to those taking a placebo.10

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are PUFAs and they’re both essential to your health, but when omega-6 is consumed in excess, it becomes problematic — and even more so if it’s damaged through processing.

As a group, when consumed in the wrong ratios, PUFAs tend to stimulate inflammatory processes in your body, rather than inhibit them. It is my belief that most people would benefit from taking a high-quality animal based omega-3 supplement, in addition to reducing the amount of omega-6 — which you get plenty of from processed foods. In my view, krill oil is clearly your best option when it comes to obtaining important high quality animal based omega-3 fats. It contains essential EPA and DHA in a double chain phospholipid structure that makes it far more absorbable than the omega-3s in fish oil.

Nuts Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Nuts are another maligned food due to their high fat content. But once again, research is showing that high-fat nuts are among the healthiest foods you can eat. For instance, a study found that teenagers who eat nuts have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Those who ate the equivalent of a small handful of nuts three times a week were less than half as likely to develop metabolic syndrome compared to those who ate none. The risk decreased with each additional gram per day of nut intake (up to 1.8 ounces a day).11

Research has also shown that people who regularly ate a small handful of nuts at least seven times per week were 20 percent less likely to die for any reason, compared to those who largely avoided nuts in their diet.12 So what we’re seeing is increasing research that healthy fats lead to a healthy body. Yet most Americans are not eating enough healthy fats while at the same time consuming too many refined carbs, an especially dangerous combination.

Replacing Saturated Fats With Carbs Is Especially Dangerous

As Americans cut out healthy saturated fats from their diet, they replaced them largely with refined carbohydrates. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when you replace saturated fat with a higher carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrate, you exacerbate insulin resistance and obesity, increase triglycerides and small LDL particles, and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol.13

Likewise, a 2014 study in BMJ Open Heart concluded “the benefits of a low-fat diet (particularly a diet replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) are severely challenged.”14 According to the report, the potential harms of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or omega-6 polyunsaturated fats include:

Increase in small, dense LDL particles. Shift to an overall atherogenic lipid profile (lower HDL cholesterol, increase in triglycerides and an increase in the ApoB/ApoA-1 ratio).
Smaller improvements in glucose tolerance, body fatness, weight, inflammation and thrombogenic markers Increased incidence of diabetes and obesity
Increased risk of cancer Increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, death due to heart disease and overall mortality
Increased oxidized LDL cholesterol Reduction in HDL cholesterol

Based on evidence from the literature, the researchers recommended the following dietary recommendations:

Dietary guideline recommendations suggesting the replacement of saturated fat with carbohydrates/omega-6 polyunsaturated fats do not reflect the current evidence in the literature.
A change in these recommendations is drastically needed as public health could be at risk.
The increase in the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in the USA occurred with an increase in the consumption of carbohydrate not saturated fat.
There is no conclusive proof that a low-fat diet has any positive effects on health. Indeed, the literature indicates a general lack of any effect (good or bad) from a reduction in fat intake.
The public fear that saturated fat raises cholesterol is completely unfounded as the low-density lipoprotein particle size distribution is worsened when fat is replaced with carbohydrate.
A public health campaign is drastically needed to educate on the harms of a diet high in carbohydrate/sugar.
It would be naive to assume that any recommendations related to carbohydrate or fat intake would apply to processed foods, which undoubtedly should be avoided if possible.

How to Increase Your Intake of Healthy Fats

The take-home message here is that eating saturated fats such as butter, coconut oil, and raw whole milk will not increase your risk of chronic disease or make you fat. On the contrary, it is extremely important for optimal health, including your heart and cardiovascular health. What WILL dramatically raise your risk of heart disease and any number of other chronic health problems is refined carbohydrates, including sugar, fructose, and grains.

Replacing saturated fats with trans fats and non-vegetable carbohydrates is precisely what has led to rising rates of chronic disease and obesity over the past several decades. Fortunately, reversing this trend is rather simple, at least on an individual level: eat more health fat. Many would benefit from getting as much as 50-85 percent of their daily calories from fats. Although this sounds like a lot, by volume the largest portion of your plate would be vegetables because they have so few calories. Examples of healthy fats that you can enjoy and feel good about eating include:

Avocados Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk Raw grass-fed dairy Organic pastured egg yolks
Coconuts and coconut oil Unheated organic nut oils Raw nuts, such as almonds, pecans, macadamia, and seeds Grass-fe